October 12, 2011

Cotton Reels!

I'm finally getting around to posting the blocks I made for the 3x6 virtual quilting bee.

3x6 blocks

I chose a pattern called "cotton reels," because I really enjoy cornily symbolic block names. A pattern for an 8" block (I added a 1" and 2" border to make a 12" square) can be found here, naturally.

And... that's it for me for the 3x6 bee, at least for a while. With the holidays coming up, and the 4x5 bee starting again, I knew I needed to lighten my commitment load. I've been a part of 3x6 for 4 quarters - that's a whole year! - and by the end, will have 24 beautiful quilt blocks. Enough for a twin-sized quilt.

Here's the thing I always forget about these virtual bees: it's practically no thing at all to carve out time to make a block a month, or 5/6 blocks a quarter, or what have you. If you're going to be sewing anyway, you can pull this off. But at the end? When you are literally ankle deep in the handmade awesomeness you've received from your fellow swappers? It's like, "How will I ever find time to turn these blocks into a quilt???"

Hence my egress from what has been a really phenomenally fun and rewarding group. Starting projects is great, but finishing them is - well, I hardly remember what that feels like.

Is there a virtual bee for finishing projects? Now THAT would be amazing!

October 6, 2011


I just want to post a big "Thank You" to Paper Source for knowing, in advance, how I'd be spending my October.

September 9, 2011

The Grind. (Or is it?)

Sometimes I don't blog for a while because it can get a little "same-old" up in here. Keeping up with posting here requires SO much planning on my part. I think it's because my crafty life is structured around trying to make money, and that requires a certain unexciting, assembly-line schedule.

(Newsflash: I make these. I make these, like, every day.)

Part of me envies the bloggers who aren't running businesses. They seem to have more room to change things up, creatively.

That said, after almost seven(!) years, I'm not sick of making masks. I find it almost physically satisfying, in a way. And getting to sell a really high quality product feels like an enormous privilege.

Sometimes I just want more hours in the day to stretch my wings and take on new projects. (Preferably without any wrist or shoulder pain.)

September 2, 2011

Recipe Roundup: Tacos and Ice Cream

Since this isn't a cooking blog, and I'm more of a recipe follower than a recipe developer, I don't post a lot about food.

That said, I've been tinkering with some new recipes, as well as pretty confident in a slow-cooked faux-dobo recipe I came up with a few months ago, and I wanted to share the results. The theme this time is tacos and ice cream - and no, I'm not pregnant. These are things I've tried over the course of a couple weeks, so I'm not necessarily endorsing the combination, just the individual recipes.

First, the main course: Crock Pot Pork "Adobo". I came up with this when looking for a use for leftover brine (which includes chopped onions and red bell peppers) from cilantro freezer pickles. I got my recipe from The Joy of Pickling, but there are a bunch of versions on the internet you can try. In fact, if you only get as far of the pickles, you'll be happily munching for months to come, but the pork is a wonderfully low-effort way to get a fatty, flavorful taco filling. It can also work plain with beans and rice, in burritos, enchiladas, etc. Which is good, because unless you have a giant family, or lots of guests, there will be leftovers. I recommend using an amount of pork that will suit your needs, wants, and/or crock pot size.

Crock Pot Pork "Adobo"

1-2 c. brine from cilantro freezer pickles
1 14-oz. can coconut milk
1/4 c. soy sauce
dash of chili flakes (optional)
2-6 lbs. pork ribs or pork butt

Pour all ingredients except pork into crock pot. Stir to combine. Add pork, fatty side up. Cook on preferred setting, for at least 4 hours. Shred meat and reserve juices if desired. I made some rice, substituting half of the water with pork broth, and it was really delicious. Serves a lot.

Now, for the sweet stuff. I recently decided I couldn't live without a KitchenAid ice cream maker attachment for my stand mixer, and ever since it arrived, I've been obsessed with recipes for delicious, unusual recipes for frozen treats.

First up was David Lebovitz's Quick Coconut Ice Cream with Saffron, because, well, he had me at "quick" and "saffron." This was a great way for a beginner to get started, as it's indeed quick and pretty darn foolproof. I recorded some of my impressions here.

I wanted to make the saffron coconut ice cream a second time, but it wasn't meant to be - both I and the grocery store were out of saffron. Luckily, my sister-in-law had mentioned having some delicious vanilla ice cream with honey and curry powder at the Big Gay Ice Cream truck, so I was inspired. Using the same coconut milk base (times three because I wanted more ice cream this time), I added a teaspoon and a half of vanilla extract, two teaspoons of curry powder + an extra dash of ground cinnamon and ground cardamom, and replaced 1/3 of the sugar with honey. I don't know how it compares to the Big Gay version, since I don't make it to NYC often, but it was creamy, spicy, and flavorful - a nice change from super-sweet commercial vanillas.

Finally, froyo. I didn't buy my churner with the intention of making a bunch of froyo, but I read somewhere it was SUPER easy, and I'd much rather toss a container of yogurt with some sugar and flavoring than separate a bunch of eggs for the fancy custard recipes that came with the maker. Fortunately for me, the former is exactly what you get to do when making this recipe from 101 Cookbooks. I scaled the whole thing up by 1/4, since I used a four-cup container of Greek yogurt. Most ice cream recipes need a few hours of post-churning freezer time, but here, the thick yogurt means this is ready to eat right out of the churner and potentially save yourself some time. I was concerned this would mean too-solid yogurt later on, but the texture was still perfect several hours later. Yogurt = superfood.


August 31, 2011

Getting ready?

If the blogosphere is to be believed, crafters love autumn and can't wait for it. Well, they can have it. Those of us living in cities where the annual snowfall can be measured in Shaqs aren't quite ready to let go of summer.

Hence, the springy palate of this week's projects, so far:

Ironically, these are holiday gifts - at least, in theory. The "loaf trivet," which was inspired by the mug rug craze, turns out to be just the right size to protect a countertop from a hot pan of bread, is for me. But it's made so quickly and easily from two charm squares, a 1.5" border, and a bit of binding, that, if your short on gift ideas this year, I recommend stitching up, like, a million of these. You could do it today. I hand-quilted it, because I like that look, in about 15 minutes, but stippling would look amazing, too. I like the idea of making these in reds and greens, or even, say, Halloween prints, and giving them away with homemade loaves of bread, or even empty loaf pans & bread mix. (Why bake when you could NOT bake, right?)

The napkins are in cutesy pastel colors, because they're cupcakes, and that's how I roll. If you live under a rock, you might not have seen these free patterns, which I stitched on some napkins I got during a recent Sublime Stitching sale. I'd show them all off, but they're a gift, and should the recipient stumble upon this photo, I don't want to spoil the whole set.

So am I ready for fall? Depends, I guess. Am I psyched for cider and falling leaves? Not particularly. Am I working at injecting a bit of spring into the colder months? Indeed.