Baby Quilt

The most direct way to describe the difference between pre-baby and post-baby is this single word: interrupted. Everything you do is interrupted, even going to the bathroom. The most productive times of my day coincide with Eli’s naps, which is sometimes only 45minutes (and part of that is just spent zoning out in peace and silence, my body all to myself for a few minutes). Needless to say, there are no big projects going on over here at the moment. I made sure to finish my baby quilt before my due date came (though in hindsight, I should just have started it on my due date which would have kept my mind occupied for the 13 days between my due date and Eli’s arrival). Is it weird I made my own baby quilt? Let’s just say I’m the craftiest out of my family/friends (my grandmother must have saved all her crafty genes for me), so I figured if I wanted a quilt I was going to have to make it. IMG_4102a After putting together several gender-neutral color palettes, and spending countless hours scouring the internet for fabrics, I kept coming back to Joel Dewberry’s Heirloom collection in Citrine. There really is no cheerier color palette, just perfect for a summer baby. I bought the pieces already pre-cut from etsy seller Dahlia In Bloom (it was far cheaper than purchasing all the fabrics by the yard and having lots of overage). I made a chart of the fabrics, sketched out a pattern, then laid out the blocks and spent a few nights re-arranging to optimize the composition until it felt just right. I used a jelly roll technique to assemble the blocks.IMG_3558a My kitchen table came in handy to lay out the top, batting, and backing, and pin everything together to prevent slipping when I top-stitched.IMG_3638aI used a 100% cotton batting in a thin loft, ideal for lightweight summer quilts. I also purchased a free motion quilting foot, but couldn’t figure it out for the life of me. It seemed straightforward from Leah Day’s videos, but I could not figure out how to tension my machine properly to get it to work; the bottom thread tension was way too tight and the top thread tension was way too loose. So I just ended up “free motion quilting” using my regular presser foot. I just winged the top stitching, in an organic, meandering pattern. IMG_4094aIt has been washed several times now, and is holding up beautifully. Eli is fascinated by the colors and patterns, and it is like a burst of sunshine in our dark apartment.

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I’m So Crafty

So, this has been going on, hence the lack of entries.

i make people01June 21, 2013 – the day filled with the most sunlight (and 2 days before the supermoon) – we welcomed Eli to the world. It has been a beautiful, terrifying, amazing, exhausting blur, to say the least.

I promise, I will post again before he turns 18!

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Granola

I’m a granola snob.  Grateful Bread granola from my childhood set the bar.  Not too soft, not too crunchy, none of that cluster business, not too sweet, just a touch salty, and these days it also has to be gluten-free.  So, when I want granola, I make my own.  Like most of my favorite recipes, this has the flexibility to be adapted to personal taste or change of season.

granola

Ingredients:

Group 1:
2 c. old-fashioned oats
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. chopped almonds (or your favorite nuts)
1/4 c. pumpkin seeds (or sunflower seeds)
1/3 c. shredded coconut
2 Tbsp. sesame seeds
2 Tbsp. ground flax seed

Group 2:
1/8 c. maple syrup
3 Tbsp. safflower oil (or canola or sunflower oil)
1 Tbsp. water
1/8 c. molasses (optional)
Note: the granola pictured above doesn’t have molasses, because I ran out and forgot to get more when I was at the co-op today.

Group 3:
1/2 c. raisins (or dried fruit of choice, like cranberries, cherries, apricots, or any combination of those)

Directions:
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 275°F.
2. Coat a 9×13 metal pan with oil and set aside.
3. Combine Group 1 ingredients in a medium bowl.
4. Combine Group 2 ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat.
5. Drizzle liquid over oat mixture and stir thoroughly to coat oats.
6. Pour mixture onto prepared pan, and spread out evenly.
7. Bake for 30 minutes.
8. Remove from oven and add raisins.  Stir well to incorporate raisins.
9. Return to oven and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, until golden brown.
10. Remove from oven and let cool.
11. Once cool, transfer to an airtight container.

Yields approximately 1 quart.

Enjoy with milk, yogurt, on ice cream, or dry.

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Philadelphia Flower Show

Yesterday we woke up to 2″ of snow on the ground.  Today hit a high of 62°, and I made my annual visit to the Flower Show.  Theme: Great Britain.  I’ve been going to the flower show for 5 or 6 years now.  Instead of trying to capture the grand entrance display, I focus on little tidbits of inspiration.  Like  this gem:

Flower-show_wizard shop
(This is what I envision my future shop to be like: bottles, potions, plants).

And highlights from the various artistic competitions:

Flower-show_centerpiece  Flower-show_hat  Flower-show_LOTR

While I love going to the flower show, I’m a bit disappointed that only the few showcase exhibitions are geared toward the theme.  The majority of landscape installations vary little from year to year, and seem always to focus on spring-blooming bulbs limited to their few weeks of glory before receding back below the surface for the remaining 4 months of growing season.  I’d like to see more native plants and unique gardening styles specific to the theme (the cottage garden would have been nice to see this year), rather than repetitive displays of species introduced to every continent across the world, year after year.

And as always, I planned to buy nothing in the marketplace if it wasn’t on my list, but ended up coming back with several not-on-the-list items I just couldn’t resist.  But I did get an orchid pot so I could transplant my orchid!

orchid pot

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Soup Exchange

For the past 3 years I’ve organized a fall/winter soup exchange.  Everyone makes and freezes 6 individual quarts of soup, and then we swap.  You get to take home 6 different soups to stock your freezer with for the cooler months.  This time around I experimented with a new soup I learned how to make from Tanti, a Korean soup called Kimchi Jjigae.  Spicy delicousness.

Kimchi Jjigae

Recipe:
Yields 6 quarts

Sesame oil
1/2 large onion, sliced (note: I used a large leek because that’s what I had on hand)
5 cloves garlic, sliced thin
2 blocks tofu (or pork, or your protein of choice)
2 large containers fresh kimchi (bok choy or cabbage; chop cabbage into smaller pieces)
3 quarts water
3 Tbsp. gochujang (red pepper paste)
3 Tbsp. miso paste
3 tsp. gochugaru (dried red chili pepper)
2 bricks thin rice noodles

1) Heat sesame oil in a large pot (8-quarts), and saute garlic and onion until soft.
2) Add tofu (or protein of choice) and saute until it starts to get crispy around the edges.
3) Add entire contents of kimchi, including liquid, and stir to combine. Saute for a minute or two, stirring.
4) Add water and bring to a boil.
5) Add gochujang, miso, and gochugaru, and stir until well combined.
6) Add noodles and cook until soft.
7) Taste it, and adjust seasonings to your desire – add more spice, or miso for salt.

Serve and enjoy!  This one opens the sinuses 🙂

Note: once soup has cooled you can divide into quart-sized jars (approximately 3 servings each) and freeze for later, or gift to a friend.

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Carissa + Matt’s Wedding

This weekend I arranged flowers for my cousin Carissa’s wedding.  I had assumed the florist would deliver them ready to be assembled, but no.  The flowers were delivered as purchased, with all the foliage still on.  So I set up a little assembly line and had Dylan help me strip the foliage and sort the flowers, while I assembled the bouquets, cut the stems, and put them into the wine bottles my cousin collected.  Fortunately, I happened to bring a pair of sharp scissors with me.  I arranged the centerpieces on the tables, and finished just in time to grab a quick bite before getting dressed and heading to the ceremony.

Carissa's flowers

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Wedding Reception Decor

As I mentioned before, the theme for our wedding was along the lines of 1920s meets country rustic.  The reception hall at Ogontz was all wood, with an exposed timber frame which lent to a farmhouse feel.

For the centerpieces, I used burlap table runners, lace doilies tatted by my aunt’s mother, votive candles that I wrapped gold lace around, and a collection of vintage bottles filled with fresh flowers.
Tables
(Photos by Melissa Koren Photography)

My dad brewed 3 types of beer for the wedding, and for cups we re-used Green Mountain Salsa mason jars that my mom collected (apparently my family eats a lot of salsa!).  I made a unique tag for each jar, using old botanical illustrations scanned from books.

Mason jars
(Photos by Melissa Koren Photography)

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