27 July 2008

Pineapple upside down cake

I modified an AllRecipes.com recipe for this cake. The first layer is 1.5 sticks of butter melted with 1.5 c. brown sugar. Then I added pineapple slices w/ cherries, crushed pineapple, and shredded coconut. This was topped by a boxed cake mix (there's a time and a place for pre-packaged cake mix, and this is it!) where I used the juice from the pineapple instead of water.

upside-down-cake

There was something about the smell that was so heavenly and then I realized that the sugary pineapple and coconut are exactly like the candied fruit that I have every Tet. It's like my childhood all baked into a single cake! Isn't it strange how powerful olfactory memories are?

26 July 2008

Chalk everywhere

With two boys, it's virtually impossible to cling to my many irrational compulsions--most of which have to do with orderliness. When A1 first got out the sidewalk chalk last summer, I was compelled to scrub down the driveway far more frequently than I am this year. It's progress, I suppose.

chalk1

Watching the boys have fun helps me to let go of the angst that creeps up.

chalk2

That's a proud A1 showing off his sow bug. Isopods rock!

chalk3

And that's A2 with the most intense expression! He's always smiling and laughing so this is a rare shot.

25 July 2008

Dyed pasta

I really love activities in which A1 can participate at every step. I Googled this quick and easy project that had us pouring ~1/4 c. rubbing alcohol in a gallon-sized Ziploc bag with food coloring. We just shook the pasta in the bag and dried on the patio table.

colored-mac

Now we can make all sorts of brightly colored crafts! Next time, I'll be sure to grab some small elbow mac so we can string necklaces.

24 July 2008

Wordled!

I learned about Wordle from the How About Orange blog. Here's the word cloud from this blog--I guess I use the word "really" a lot! Poor A2, who is not mentioned nearly as often as his big brother.

16 July 2008

Singer 201-2

I adopted another abandoned sewing machine for $30. The seller's mother passed away last year and the seller was just trying to clear out a garage full of belongings.

It came with the original instruction manual (as well as one for a 128) and a foot controller. The buttonhole templates include ones for 3/8" straight, 1/2" straight, 5/8" keyhole, and 15/16" straight, which work nicely with the buttonholer that I got with the 15-91. There are a couple of feet too: A foot hemmer, an adjustable hemmer, a binder, a tucker, a ruffler, and 4 other unidentifiable (by me, anyhow) ones that may not even fit this machine.

It had seized so I was afraid that I was taking on a big challenge, but after clearing out some tangled thread from the bobbin assembly, it's moving quite smoothly. I still need to clean out the gunked up oil and probably will have to rewire it because there's some exposed wire. It also needs a light bulb, a new bobbin winder rubber ring, and spool pin felts but these are fairly cheap items so I'm pleased. Oh, and my 3 other machines use 15 Class bobbins so I'll need to get some 66 Class ones to get started.

I've been thinking and thinking about it and I'm sort of leaning toward converting it to a handcrank instead of rewiring. I can't justify having both the 15-91 and the 201-2 if they're both straight stitch machines with potted motors--that's just way too redundant.

So here are the photos. It's actually as I received her, minus the threads caught around the bobbin shuttle. I haven't even dusted her off.

201

I don't love the blue paint on this original cabinet.

201

201

201

I really like the faceplates on these older versions.


14 July 2008

Brothers

I love seeing the boys go from being merely indifferent housemates to actual brothers who exhibit such intensity of emotion for each other. Now that A2 is getting older and playing more, he and A1 have such great times together. I nearly caught them playing with their kitchen set (that's set up in my kitchen!) but A1 is hyper-aware of the camera and noticed me when I snapped the shot.

I know, I know, I should really put pants and shoes on my baby sometimes!

12 July 2008

Mic test...check, check, check

My husband and I met via the Internet. It sounds high tech but is, in actuality, very Victorian to begin a courtship by writing letters. By the time we met in person, we were already so familiar with where the other had been, where we stood in the present, and where we wanted to go in the future--all of which were discovered without the usual distractions that come from having met face-to-face first. Even so, it took me a little while longer to get comfortable enough with him to reveal one of my deepest secrets. One day, when I felt quite secure about him and about our relationship, I cautiously revealed to him that I was/am a checker. He nonchalantly asked, "You mean that thing where you run around every room in the house and eyeball everything?" Hmph! Apparently, I was not nearly as stealthy as I thought I was! So much for my great secret.

I've tried so many ways to stop my checking. I have stopped cold turkey, put myself on fixed interval schedules, used visualization techniques, and so on. It got to the point where I resigned myself to the notion that it wasn't hurting anybody because it's such a benign compulsion.

But the truth is, it does affect others.

One evening last week, we got home particularly late so I rushed the boys upstairs to their bath. But A1 asked we hadn't walked around the outside of the house nor done our interior loop. He was so visibly upset. I was floored...just devastated that my rigid routines had been unwittingly passed on.

I. Have. To. Stop. I need to let go of the checking. I've always said that external order was intended to quell the internal chaos, but it's been a long time since I've had that much internal disorder. My life is good. It's really, really good, in fact. And this is a crutch I just don't need and can't have anymore. It hurts me, and it hurts my babies. So, I'm embracing the freedom of letting go and refusing to be scared by the goodness in my life.

08 July 2008

Plumeria

plumeria

While I wasn't looking, the plumeria bloomed! I really like both the trees so much that I might try to propagate from stem cuttings next spring by cutting a leftless stem tip, letting the base dry, and inserting in soil.

Plumeria originally come from Mexico, Central America, and Venezuela before spreading to all the tropical parts of the world. This is a sneaky little devil because its strong night fragrance attracts pollinating moths--yet these flowers don't even have any nectar! What they do have is poisonous milky sap, like Oleander. But they're not all bad. In their native Mexico, they are used for medicinal purposes as salves and ointments. And did you know the orginal spelling was Plumiera after the 17th century French botanist Charles Plumier? Cool, huh? Okay, only cool to me.

06 July 2008

Pineapple sorbet

Oh how I love the internet. I'm just not bright enough to come up with my own ideas but I manage easily enough to surf the net so I can pilfer other people's. I found this quick and easy cheater's sorbet. You just freeze some undrained canned fruit (yes, I could have used fruit in juice instead of syrup). I like to do it in at least 2 bowls so that I get single servings--plastic bowls make it a cinch to pop out the frozen pineapple chunks. I pulse a bit in the processor for the chunky consistency I like and let it go for a while for the smooth consistency that A1 likes. Next time, I'm adding coconut milk. Yum!

pineapple sorbet

04 July 2008

I surrender

I set my mind on completing a sun hat I started eons ago. Well, not using commercial patterns usually works for me, but not this time. It's horrible! Nothing matches up, the brim is far too wide, and so on. So, after fighting and fighting with it, I decided it was time to admit defeat. Has this taught me to follow patterns in the future? Probably not. I'm thick like that.

Here's how far I got:

surrender hats

03 July 2008

for one more day by Mitch Albom

I haven't finished a work of fiction in the longest time, which is exactly why I joined the book club of our playgroup: To rekindle my love of reading. Plus, I get to talk it over with a group of really neat, fun, smart women. The organizer's first choice is a book by the author of Tuesdays with Morrie and The Five People You Meet in Heaven. I have read neither but trust the organizer's opinion because she's so energetic and bright and certainly well read herself.

Overall, it was a very very quick read--which says something in and of itself. The books I read are either completed within a few days or a few decades! I commit to 100 pages and then allow myself to stop if I'm not sufficiently captivated, but sometimes getting through those first 100 pages can be an arduous task. (Slight aside: Hello, Ernest Hemingway! I have tried to read a few of his books and wanted to burn them by the time I tortured myself enough to get to the 100th page! I know he has a huge audience of intense fans, but jeez. I am clearly not one of them!)

I genuinely enjoyed this book and there were moments that brought tears and more than a few smiles. I felt for our hero, and appreciated that he and the other characters were multifaceted. But this is not a text dense with symbolism--whatever literary devices that are used are quickly, fully, and quite explicitly exposed to the reader. And, because I'm a horribly sexist reader, I recognize the male voice. Men generally write about emotions differently. Well, at least this man does--less nuanced, more forceful. Not that that's a criticism; it's just something that I noticed. And finally, the twist at the end was very sweet, though I felt a bit played. It wasn't altogether contrived and probably could have been recognized early on by a more observant reader than myself, but still!

I'd still give this book a thumbs up and definitely look forward to discussing it with the other moms while the kiddies play. It is, after all, a story about family and parenthood and the redemptive potential imparted by love and commitment to each other and ourselves.

02 July 2008

Wristlet and headband

I'm finding more and more that I ditch my big diaper bag and just grab my keys and wallet so I wanted to sew another wristlet. This one is my second but certainly won't be my last! There was plenty of fabric left over so I made an elasticized headband as well. I recently made a donation--also my second but certainly not my last--to Locks of Love and find that my hair is always falling on my face because it's not long enough to tuck behind my ears. My next headband will be wide and just a smidge looser.

wristlet and headband

01 July 2008

Gathered ringsling

I'm not a very experienced ringslinger, having only worn SBP-inspired overlapping pleats and center fold with floating rings. I decided it was time to try a gathered shoulder because (1) people love them and (2) they are so simple to sew. I used the floating rings method again because I enjoy the linen RS with floating rings so much since that extra fabric serves as its own light padding. I also decided to use a stretch twill fabric because I love stretch (usually 97% cotton, 3% Spandex combos) in pouches. The fabric is one that I mis-ordered during the Denver Fabrics clearance sale--I'm not a huge fan of turquoise-y, teal-y colors. I much prefer truer blues and greens.

Well, as it turns out I like light stretch in pouches but not in ringslings. But I'm really diggin' the floating gathered shoulder. It took far less time and I didn't have to dig out my walking foot.

Photo courtesy of A1!