Monday, September 26, 2011

diy: anthro's gleaming cuves bracelet

lovely, isn't it? And on sale - down to $80 from $160. still too rich for my blood, though.

So I bought some brass rod from the hardware store, cut it, hammered it, filed it. I learned that I need an anvil - hammering on my concrete stairs was difficult and I couldn't get the even curves I wanted at the ends.

Then I wrapped it in silk cord designed for stringing pearls. On half of the bracelet I figure out how to twist the thread to unwrap the ply - it gives the softer look of the silk cord on the original. That long tail will be used to wrap the beads.

But first I had to get the pyrite beads on there. In order to secure the pyrite, I strung them on fine beading wire; I cut a long piece and wrapped it around one side of the bracelet. I put on the beads, and then wrapped the ends around the other side.

Then I worked the cord between the beads and made a few stitches at the back to secure it. Ah well, it's not bad for a first attempt. I have more pyrite; I think I'll look into getting some lighter-weight brass rod and an anvil and give it another go. For one thing, I think it'd make a lovely gift.

Friday, September 23, 2011

remembering summer

for a while this summer, the door which leads off to the deck from our bedroom was flanked by bunches of lavender. Our own lavender plants aren't big enough for this yet - nope, this is from our wonderful next-door neighbours, who offered us six big bunches when they cut theirs down in late summer.

We dried them for two-three weeks, then used our fingers to rub the flower buds from the stems and into a big paper bag, where they had to stay while we were on vacation in the desert.

Yesterday, I finished sewing up sachets stuffed full of the buds. I've had a half yard of this pretty printed canvas for years, waiting for a good project. I had been thinking it would make a pretty pocket on a hand-made tote bag or something, but I really like it in these sachets; perhaps I'll keep it and just keep using it every year for more sachets until it's gone.

What a quick little project, too - I used the sewing machine to quickly sew three sides of the sachets together, then pressed the top edge down, stuffed, and hand-sewed the tops. We came out with seven, all told - Cass took one to work, I gave two to a friend, and four remain to keep moths out of our sweaters (and of course, they smell heavenly!)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

harvest: pickled wild apples and crabs

crabapples, that is. The dark jars on the left have molasses in the mix, I think they're better that way. These will be great cut into small wedges and served on a cheese tray, or stuffed into roast fowl. I plan to use one jar in my Thanksgiving turkey this year, won't that be a pretty treat?

more "summer" sewing

the equinox technically occurs at 2am tomorrow morning, so I suppose this is squeezing in at the 11th hour of the season that is on the way out. I've had this washable lightweight wool for a while and finally figured out what I wanted to make with it: a maxi skirt.

I used Very Easy Vogue V8232 again (just as I did for the skirt that I made at the start of summer) for the bias-cut skirt panels, but this time I altered the hem so that it was higher in the front and scooped down lower in the back (obviously, I'm a fan of the hi-lo hem). I also used the pattern that I drafted for a waistband for that white summer skirt. Then I cut three three-yard strips, each 12" high. I gathered one of them into the middle tier, and sewed two of them together to make the bottom tier of the skirt. The gathering took a while - I recruited Cass to help me pass the gathers all the way along the skirt.

The result? Voila! Wore this today with some heeled ankle boots and it's lovely. Hard to tell in this picture, but the back of the skirt is just barely above ground level when I am barefoot, so it doesn't drag on the ground. With all the fullness and extra length in the back, it kind of skims and swirls about a bit - a cute girl with magenta hair came over to me at a coffee shop to compliment it, comparing the movement to waves. I think I'm in love.

oh, and how cute are those thistle buttons? Found those (for 10 cents each) at a favorite antique/vintage shop in Fremont.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

harvest: spicy green tomato pickles

what to do with a small handful (okay, maybe two hands full) of green zebra tomatoes and a few leftover homegrown onions? Spicy Tomato Pickles! (I used this recipe for rough proportions of ingredients, but added whole dried red chilis to the spice mix). Sorry, friends - this one probably won't be going out for the holiday care packages, as I only have the one jar!

farewell to summer

summer is definitely ending ... I'm a little sad about that this year, it really was quite short, though it was lovely while it lasted. Trying to enjoy the heck out of every last bit of summer I can - here with a few flowers from the yard: dusty miller, black-eyed susans, purple coneflower and chocolate cosmos tucked into a silver pitcher.

make do: shoes

behold, my beautiful new hunter-green oxfords!

except they're not new (see those heavily creased toe boxes?). Nope, these are my beautiful and much-loved ivory brogues from Frye, my first pair of lace-up brogues, that my sweet husband bought for me years ago (and which I've already had resoled - twice now, I think - I really wear my heels out!).

But they weren't looking so ivory these days. In fact, I always felt a little embarassed when I wore them. A pair of dark-wash jeans had rubbed smudges of blue on them. Rainwater had spotted them near the soles. An attempt to polish them and brighten them up had resulted in some unfortunate muddy-looking taupe patches. Blah.

So while I was getting a pair of boots that my mother-in-law gave me (I get a lot of shoes for gifts. It's a gimme gift with me.) tailored this summer (really, when are they going to start making narrow-calf boots? Why only wide?), I saw a wall of shoe paints and immediately started asking about them. The staff seemed positive, so I chanced it. Three coats of paint (plus lots of time detailing the crevices) and a new pair of shoelaces from (that I'm not thrilled with, honestly - they're so...synthetic. oh well.), and I think they look as good as new!

bonus, they'll match the gorgeous green leather car coat I bought last year at a church yard sale I happened upon one Sunday afternoon.


so, while in Utah, we ate at a brewery (the Moab Brewery) that boasted "root-beer braised carnitas" on its happy hour menu. We never got around to eating them at happy hour, so guess what I made as soon as I got home?

I used this recipe on I only used about 1/3-1/2 the meat called for, though next time I will use the full amount (and there will be a next time - Cass was raving!), but did not reduce any other ingredients - except oregano and salt, per the recipe's instructions for halving. And I substituted two bottles of Virgil's rootbeer for the water. It worked, perfectly.

We served ours on flour tortillas with baby greens, sliced avocado, fresh tomatillo salsa (using tomatillos I've been growing on the porche) and some dashes of hot sauce we bought at our favorite Moab breakfast spot, the Jailhouse Cafe. Delicious. I completely and wholly recommend this recipe!

heart of silence

sorry for my absence - I was out here for 10 days, taking a bit of a beating trying (and failing, really) to keep up with friends who are in much better shape (and who still have their knees - I'm still limping this week), and at the best of times, listening to the silent heart of the desert. There's nothing like it, that I know of. A deep silence, a silence that plugs your ears with nothingness.
can't beat the view, either: this is from Dead Horse Point in Dead Horse Point State Park in Utah. That little glimpse of green is the Colorado river, 2,000 feet below where our little band of three sat and watched the sun go down, the red rock cast fiery orange, then rich ruby and cooling purples before fading into the blue vastness of space and night. I still can't believe how high, how far, how wide the view - it catches my throat, a little bit.