Monday, November 30, 2009


Sometimes my heart feels like this. One firm grasp will collapse it into crumbs.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

November 29

At nine this morning a town car arrived to take Josh to the airport. He'll be in Atlanta till late April, working on Vampire Diaries. He'll be home for a few weeks over Christmas, so this first separation is really a test run. We all got a little teary, but I had a project ready in the kitchen to distract the girl: peppermint bark.
For lunch we ate Asian Noodle Soup, made from scratch, including the garlic broth. Very very yummy. I love that Lauren loves this kind of food as much as I do.
Then we headed out for an adventure: a train ride into Hollywood to see How The Grinch Stole Christmas at the beautiful, historic Pantages Theatre. I didn't take my camera; it's heavy and I thought they'd object to me taking it inside, though as it turned out, no bags were searched. The musical itself is B-grade and only some of the performances were excellent, but the costumes were fun and we enjoyed our outing.

I made time for a little hand sewing tonight. These $3 thrifted work pants (yay, love that!) were too long, so I hemmed them while Lauren peeled potatoes for dinner.

Weekends are going to be very different around here with Josh gone. Up till now, he and Lauren have mostly hung out together, leaving me free to sew and cook. The girl does not (yet) have many things she likes to do alone, nor does she have friends she wants to be with outside of school. So the two of them would go out and shop, see movies, eat fast food, and do all sorts of things I never or rarely do.

So it's going to be an adjustment for all of us. Lauren will miss Starbucks, In&Out burgers, the nail salon, the mall, and the movies. But she'll gain hikes, museum visits, picnics, art time, sewing and knitting lessons. I'll have less time to myself, but I'll get out of the house more.

It's all good, right? Especially the peppermint bark.

Friday, November 27, 2009

November 27

Jess Ewens, please don't read this post.

I am on the home stretch with this year's Christmas gifts. As previously mentioned, I haven't made every gift this time around, but my sewing machine's still had quite a workout. When Jess was here, she asked me to design and make a car seat organizer to her specifications. She wanted it to be able to fold up when not in use, and not be too bulky. Here's what I came up with.

I hope it works for her; I made it fit my European car ... I hope it fits hers!

Monday, November 23, 2009

November 23

May your hands always be busy
May your feet always be swift
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift
May your heart always be joyful
And may your song always be sung
May you stay forever young

Au revoir, Rhea. My heart goes with you.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

November 22

I finally had a crack at making some fabric flowers using this tutorial. I've never really been one for fake flowers, but I quite like these!
Lauren made one too, and is pretty pleased with it!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

November 21

Cleaning out the fridge in preparation for grocery shopping, I decided to cook up this recipe. The only change I made was to cook them for longer, more like 13-15 minutes. I didn't time it, but just kept testing until they were a bit tender.

Oh. My. God. This recipe is delicious. Brussels sprouts for breakfast? Yes please. The rest for morning snack? Oooh yeah.

Friday, November 20, 2009

November 20

After a week when everything seemed to go wrong, the universe smiled on me today. Someone lent me a sewing machine. The repair shop called and said mine would be ready in a day or two. My car repair cost less than quoted. I won the flower lottery* at work. And I found these perfect bottles for my new project: home made vanilla essence.

*On Friday afternoons, they draw names to give away the four or five large office flower arrangements. It was nice to win one today.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

November 19

My girl's going back to Australia (next Monday!) with an old laptop of mine; she needed a padded messenger bag for it, of course! Sadly, my lovely machine broke down in the middle of sewing this baby. I lowered the feed dogs to quilt the flap, and they would not rise again. This is a pretty major disaster in Hashiworld, especially as it's going to take many days (or weeks?) to repair at a cost of several hundred dollars. Ack! I do still have my decrepit old model that requires force feeding the fabric, and used it to complete the project, but it was a real struggle.

The laptop in question doesn't close all the way (victim of a past dive from somebody's ::cough::Ian's:: bed) so I made it a matching elastic band to keep it closed, visible here. I had some doubt about which way to orient the pocket, and decided it should be right way up when the flap is completely open. Thus it looks upside down in this shot, and now I'm questioning my decision.

Exterior fabric and zipper are vintage from an estate sale; lining is cut from a thrifted dress. Made with love (OK, and cursing).

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

November 17

These cuties are becoming my 'go to' baby gift. I bought a quarter yard of the fleecy suede (I forget what it's called) some time ago to use for the soles, and I have enough left to make another dozen pairs, I'm sure. Bring on the babies!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

November 15

Another brilliant flowchart, this one by Headup, spotted on Typcut.

Which brings me to the question I have been pondering of late: will I continue with Sunday dinners in 2010?

The guests keep coming, and I always end the evening happy. But perhaps, next year, I'd like to spend my Sundays somewhere else but the kitchen. Like outdoors. Our few days in Yosemite renewed my urge to camp, to hike, to be out there.

Josh is about to go away for five months (that's another story), which makes me both less and more inclined to continue with Sunday dinners. Less, because he is a big help in pulling these off, and I'm not sure I want to attempt it alone week after week. More, because I will especially welcome the adult company in his absence. And Lauren is so keen that we continue. She has offered to do all the chores that Josh now does both in prep and cleanup. Of late she's tackled the dishes alone to show me she is both willing and able to fill his shoes.

So I'm not sure. I'm thinking I will stop extending invitations, and just see how it evolves. See who calls and asks to come. Make simpler meals, maybe just vegetarian. Ask my guests to bring dessert. Give myself time to get out for much of the day, and still welcome friends for a few hours of fun and laughter in the evening.

Happy? Yes. But not sure I want to keep doing exactly what I've been doing. Going with the flow here, and seeing where we end up.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

November 14

Working on some vintage/retro gardens, while the rest of the family has gone to see The Cat Empire. I just wasn't feeling up to it .... Playing with rick rack and yo yos was what I needed tonight.

Friday, November 13, 2009

November 13

Zipper pull earrings. These work well for Lauren, whose piercing is quite high on her lobe. But the set I made for myself with larger, heavier pulls do not look so good; they bend the bottom of my lobes back. I might try again with smaller pulls like these.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

November 12

Thrifted straight-sided glasses: 50c each. Votive candles: 50c each. Linen scraps and embroidery thread: from stash. Joy, love and Rhea: priceless.

Love this

As someone who has been known to create a flowchart or two, I absolutely love this flowchart of the Beatles classic, ‘Hey Jude.’ I can't figure out who to credit for it; please know it's not mine!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

November 11

I'm not much of a knitter, but I started this project before going to Yosemite, to help me avoid sewing-machine-withdrawals. I finally got it felted last night, and dried today. Yay! It's a 'brown paper' lunchbag! Want your own? The pattern's here.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

November 10

I needed a quick project tonight, so whipped up a magnetic corner bookmark using this tutorial. I think the design could use some refinement. It's a pretty bulky end result, even using the thinnest magnetic tape I could find. In fact, the magnet is so weak it barely grips through the fabric and the page, so it may as well not be there. I might try again using just stiffened fabric. Or not.

Monday, November 09, 2009

November 9

I was only in San Fran for 26 hours, but managed to cram in quite a bit. We did the 49 mile scenic tour, which took us to parts of the city we'd never seen. We visited the de Young Art Museum, and of course the various piers. The highlight occurred on Saturday night: walking down Green Street near our North Beach hotel, we stopped outside Club Fugazi, wondering why crowds were gathering. A young woman asked us if we would like free tickets to the show about to start. She had four, but two of her friends couldn't make it. We had no idea what we were in for, but gladly accepted in a spirit of adventure. What followed was two hours of laughter as we experienced the long-running (35 years!) San Francisco institution Beach Blanket Babylon from the front row. What a great night.

I drove home on Sunday but left Rhea up there for another 24 hours to have some solo adventures, including the Alcatraz tour. She returned tonight by air, with a fully loaded camera and a big smile.

We love San Fran!

Sunday, November 08, 2009

November 8

Back from a weekend in San Francisco with Rhea; photos to follow!

Friday, November 06, 2009

November 6

We said a sad good-bye to my wonderful sister and her daughter Jessica tonight; they have been staying with us for the past few days, enroute back to Australia after Jess ran the New York Marathon last weekend. I'm really spoiled by so many of my loved ones who make the long journey to stay with us in LA. This was Sister's second visit this year! Next time, I'm going Down Under. That trip is way overdue.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

November 5

I used the last of a favourite thrifted sheet to make myself some comfy (clown?) pyjama pants tonight. I'm on the lookout for some flannel sheets now!