Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Craft Round Up

I've never thought of myself as a crafty person.

Unless we're talking about crafty as in mwa-ha-ha (evil laughter), in which case... well, maybe only in my head.

ANYWAY, I had my fair share of crafting in Girl Scouts and art class and Sunday School and so on, and I always sort of dutifully followed directions. I'm not particularly dextrous and never considered myself to be visually creative, plus I'm kind of lazy, impatient, and easily bored. Not really a good combination of traits for, say, making a reproduction of the Mona Lisa out of beans and rocks and cat fur and things you find around the house.

But my dear mother did teach me how to use a sewing machine and I had a few half-hearted attempts at making clothing in which I always took the laziest possible way out (tape is a perfectly fine way to hold up a hem, thankyouverymuch).

Then my sister-in-law got pregnant and one of those brash, unlikely, over-ambitious ideas popped into my head. "Hey, I wonder how hard it is to make a quilt?"

Not very, as it turns out.

Quilting involves a lot of precise, detail-oriented, repetitive work. Which is the kind of thing you'd think that I'd hate, but I actually love, as long as I have something else going on in the background. So I watch mindless TV and quilt. Desperate Housewives is particularly good for this. Right now, in addition to two super-secret projects (gifts), I'm making a king-size quilt for us using scraps from previous quilts and several of Leland's old shirts.

These are nine-patch blocks.
And the lighting I took the pictures in
is what photography pros call "shitty".

I'm hoping that it doesn't look too insane when I sew it all together. But that's Future Anna's Problem.

As mentioned in the previous post, I also recently made some very pretty mint jelly.

Oh mint jelly, I will never eat you all

And a couple of weekends ago, I went haring off down another trajectory after my mother-in-law and soap maker extraordinaire Phyllis expressed a desire to learn how to felt soap. I Googled up some tutorials and thought "I can do that". And guess what?


Really the only special skills you need to have in order to felt soap are to possess hands or exceptionally dextrous* feet. And a tolerance for touching wet unspun wool, which is slightly creepy since it is basically wet hair. You get the wool wet and agitate it around the soap, and it shrinks around the bar just like your favorite sweater in the wash. The idea is then that the soap is enclosed in its own washcloth/gentle exfoliating surface. To be honest I thought it was more fun felting the soap than using it afterwards. But apparently some people love that kind of thing, so to each their own.

I also did a really neat-o project yesterday, and I took lots of pictures so let's get our tutorial on, everyone!

We're going to turn an old t-shirt into a bag, like the kind you might bring to the farmer's market to put all of your local organic vegan gluten-free lactose-free cruelty-free food-free goodies into, you crazy hipsters, you.

Step 1: Start with that great t-shirt that your friend gave you (you know, the friend who always gives you the best presents) that fit for about ten minutes and forever after has sat languishing in your drawer, accusing you with its eyes.** By the way, Electric Fetus is an awesome record store (and maybe just a wee bit of a head shop) in Minneapolis.

Step 1. Shame t-shirt.

Step 2: Cut off the sleeves and the collar. You're making the handles of the bag.

Or just stop here and have a very attractive tank top
to wear to the monster truck rally

Step 3: Festoon your loved ones with the discarded sleeves and collar, then take pictures of them looking reproachfully at you. Laugh at them while you're doing this and threaten to post it on the internet where the twelve people who read your blog will see it.

Nova only has two expressions: reproachfulness and guilt

And Leland has his mouth full. Lovely.

Step 4: Turn the t-shirt inside out. You can either cut the bottom hem off now or after you've sewed it shut. I did it after. Doesn't matter. Slap a few pins on the bottom to hold it together.

Step 5: The only step which requires some semblance of skill. Sew a straight*** line across the bottom. I used a very wee stitch length to make the stitch stronger and did a second stitch 1/8th of an inch apart to reinforce the bottom of the bag.

No, it doesn't need to be neat. It's the inside of a bag.

Step 6: Turn the t-shirt rightside out and marvel at your creation. Put things in it.

And you've entertained yourself for 10 whole minutes!

And that's it! And next time you're at Giant Eagle, you can tell the uncaring bag boy that you upcycled your t-shirt all by yourself! But don't use the word upcycled because you will sound like a tool.****





*Dextrous seems to be the word of the day.

**Man, I am full of beans today, aren't I? This is what you get for telling me my blog posts are funny. I get all carried away.

***or wobbly, depending on how many gin & tonics you've consumed by this point. As long as it goes all the way across the bottom, who cares?

****Yes, the CONCEPT of upcycling is great. Take something old and useless and make something new, functional, and hopefully cute. But do we have to have such a self-congratulatory, self-righteous word for it?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

New Year's Resolutions

I don't do resolutions. Mostly because I feel that New Year's resolutions are sort of made to be broken anyway. Also because I'm already perfect.

But this year, I'm making just one resolution: post more on the blog. And by "more", I mean "at all". I could do some song and dance about how busy I am and how I lost the battery to my camera (actually, I lost the charger first and then I found the charger and lost the battery), but I haven't posted since June.


Anyway, here's a brief list of things that have happened since then.

I witnessed the birth of my nephew - which was awesome. And though the nurse kept joking about how it was "birth control" for me, it actually made me feel better about the whole idea of giving birth myself.
Leave me alone lady, I've had a hard day

I also got to spend lots of quality time with my in-laws and my almost three year old nephew, Luke.

I lived through my first earthquake and (almost) my first real hurricane. Busy year, meteorologically speaking. I was still in Pennsylvania for Irene, scheduled to drive back to North Carolina the next day.

During the drive, we ended up miscalculating gas consumption and had to spend an hour waiting in line for gas in an area with no power. When I finally made it home to Leland, there was a certain amount of chaos waiting for me. We lost electricity for almost three days, though many others in Greenville never lost it at all. Our power lines are somewhere underneath the tree in the above picture. Whoops.

We ended up harvesting armfuls of basil and mint this fall. Leland made pesto, and I made mint jelly. Both turned out pretty well, though the pesto has already been consumed and the mint jelly is... languishing. The jelly is a beautiful green color and it tastes nice, but I'm at sort of a loss of what to do with it. And when I get my new camera battery, maybe I'll post a picture!

We had two adorable foster kitties, Lucy and Genevieve. Lucy is all black, with a nick out of one ear (it's how some groups mark stray cats who have been fixed), and Genevieve is black and white. They were both very sweet and energetic. Fletcher was less than pleased. He did his standard routine of hissing half-heartedly at them for the first couple days and then strenuously ignoring them thereafter.

Genevieve is a special needs kitty... kind of. She has some kind of ailment which affects her gait. She has some malformation in her hips, but also perhaps some neurological involvement. Perhaps even some vision issues - no one knows. But the upshot is that she walks like she's drunk. She hugs the wall as she walks and sometimes she falls off of things.

However, her condition is not progressive and so doesn't seem to be a cause for any alarm. She plays just as hard as any other young cat and will most likely live a completely normal life.

So it's totally cool to think the way she walks is a little funny.

Genevieve was adopted a couple days ago - but Lucy's still available! So if you're in the market for a sweet young kitty with a loud purr, an adorable chirping meow, and very soft fur, get on over to the Humane Society.

(By the way, I have no idea about the picture formatting. Blogger is stupid.)

Our holidays were very nice. My parents came for Thanksgiving, and we joined Leland's parents and his sister, brother-in-law, and their two kids for a Christmas at the Outer Banks. It was lovely. Quiet, temperate, calm. We saw dolphins every day and actually saw a whale as well!

Nova even got to come with us.

We've had Nova for more than a year now and she's had a huge improvement in her temperment and behavior in that time. (Spellcheck wants me to make 'temperment' into 'empowerment'). She was so well behaved around our little nephew. However, she did not like the ocean. She loved to run on the beach, but fearfully scampered away from the waves like the world's biggest, dumbest sandpiper. So much for that Labrador blood.

And finally, the biggest news of all...


A lovely family adopted Mr. Trust in early November. Because of his unique circumstances, the Humane Society gave the family my phone number in case of problems. His new owner did end up calling with some problems shortly after he was adopted. However, just before Thanksgiving I got another call. Trust is not only settled into his new home, he's doing great! He's calm and loving with his family and seems to be, well, a normal dog.


So here's to a happy 2012. And more blogging!