Store Stamp

Jack O Lanterns and Dance

Halloween was a very busy day for me this year. I have been convinced by a friend that I should get back to bellydance, and I have listened. I moved up in levels at Fat Chance Bellydance, so now I am taking levels two and three. It is a nice and comfortable step up. I feel rather interested in dance again and am so thankful that I was convinced to come back. It was kind of like finding a long lost friend and picking up right where you left off a long time ago. It was comfortable and felt in a way like being home. I do also have to thank my old teacher Ishara for giving me such great fundamentals. I find that I can pick most things up quickly due to this fine foundation she created. It is great.

So, to go back to the Halloween festivities. After another marathon dance lesson session, I came home and got down to watching "It's The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown" while making our Jack o Lantern. I scraped the interior and did the drawing. Dan and I decided on the design, and he did all the cutting. We ended up with this as our lantern:

We watched scary movies that night and ate the roasted seeds from the pumpkin. We put our lantern out on the patio and kept the candles lit inside until we went to bed really late that night.

Sunday we went to the market in Jack London. We have not gone in quite a while as I tend to over buy, and it took us a while to get through all the old stock pile of fruits and veggies. It was nice to get down there and see all the wonderful fall fruits and vegetables. I happened to find something very neat that I have wanted to work with for a long time, quince. I am going to work on making some jam out of them today. I cannot wait to see what they taste like. It is one of those things that I have read about many times in my Medieval stories and have always wanted to find out for myself what it was like. Now is the time. I have to walk down to the store to get more jars today as I am, once again, out of jars. I then spent most of my time on Sunday working on knitting. We watched some television that we had taped from a while ago, including the original Nixon Frost interviews. Then, I made one of my favorite fall type meals, ham and sweet potatoes for dinner. The night was wrapped up with me falling asleep as we tried to watch the original series of "V". I am going to watch the segment I fell asleep to last night again today. There are also some presents I am working on today. I also hope to get those pants finally photographed now that we have a cloudless day for me to work with. Needless to say, I have a lot on my plate. I guess I should get off the computer and head out to the store before beginning to get these quince under control. I will report back on that tomorrow!
Store Stamp

Iced Beauties

After dinner last night, Dan and I decorated the cookies we baked the day before, as they had finally aged appropriately. It was a really fun time. We turned on another silly movie and got to it. I took out all the decorations from the cake box.

We mixed up some different colors and got to working. Many candy corns were eaten and never made it onto the cookies. After a while, all the cookies found their frosting and toppings.

We made candy corn cookies:

The needed bats, cats, and a few Wizard of Oz style witches:

There were ghosts with M&M mouths:

And of course there were pumpkins, including my favorite vampire pumpkins!

I used to love making the vampire pumpkins with candy corn as a kid, and I found that I still find this amusing. Now, to keep us from eating them all in one sitting!

Tonight Dan and I are going to see Ravi Shankar and his wonderful sitar playing! I am really excited to go to this. Today is also a Halloween party at 826 for the kids. I hope that I can manage to keep myself sticky and spill free before the concert. Well I am off for some more toy construction.
Store Stamp

Halloween Treats

With Halloween fast approaching, I thought it was time that I got some treats made for Dan and I as well as some fun for us for the holiday. I made cut out sugar cookies, and while not the sour cream cookies of my youth, these are Dan's favorite from his. I made the dough and let it chill, and we cut them out while watching a silly movie. It was a fun time. We picked, "easy to decorate" shapes this year. The last time made some of these we made too many of the difficult ones, like the witches. We stuck mostly to single color items like pumpkins, ghosts, cats, and bats. The weird looking shapes for the low imagination types are candy corns.

They are on the counter now to age properly. These cookies are best when left to get stale over night and then adding liberal frosting that sinks into the cookie and then makes it all moist again. It is a great technique. It also avoids the soggy cookies syndrome that some frosted cookies seem to get. Tonight, I am going to get out all the fun sprinkles, dredges, and make up some big pots of frosting in black, orange, and white. I will take some pictures of the finished project. Now I have to switch my mind set to Christmas and get into the sewing room to work on some projects. Hopefully the sun will finally be right for me to take pictures of the chocolate pin strip pants this afternoon. Well lots of sewing and knitting ahead today. I am feeling suddenly inspired! Hopefully it is not an artificial rush from my sneaking candy corn out of the decoration stash.
Store Stamp

It Finally Happened

My mother told me this would happen one day, and yesterday was that day. I have a friend who is always concerned with exploding jam jars, and while that is not what happened, we did have one break in the canner. My mom told me that you will know when it happens by the sound that it makes as you lower it into the hot water. I heard it, and it is a difficult sound to describe. I would say that the best description is that of glass popping in a fire, not really a shattering sound like I thought it would be. Annie and I heard it and wondered. We decided to process the jars and then see what was cracked when we took them out. After opening the lid on her canner we saw:

That is right, floating bruschetta sauce. It was a bit of a disappointment. I was, however grateful that we broke a small jar rather than one of the pints. We removed the jars and then fished out the broken jar.

Upon closer inspection, it seems like the jar was mismanufactured. The markings on the bottom of the jar do not seem to match up to other markings. They look off center. Here is the jar after the accident:

We chalked it up to the canning gods wanting a sacrifice for all of our good results. I am happy with that idea. A sacrificial jar of bruschetta sauce. Annie and I spent the rest of the afternoon working on her winter garden and then some knitting. It was a wonderful day of girl time. I really enjoyed myself. Today I am off for some household errands and then some sewing on Christmas presents. I also got some of the supplies I ordered for another gift yesterday. It all seems to be coming together for a better start to the holiday crafting season. I hope I can keep up the momentum and finish ahead of the mailing deadlines this year with ease!
Store Stamp

Moving on to Toy Making

I finally did the last stitches on those chocolate pinstripe pants. They got cast aside last week due to the birthday festivities, and now they are hanging on my door waiting for a sunny enough day to take product photos.

I really love this fabric. It is very similar to a business suit I have. In fact, these pants would be wonderful for someone with an office job that, like me, lives for comfy pants. They are a soft bottom weight polyester cotton blend, so they are easy care as well.

I have decided that it is time to cast aside the pants sewing for a little while in order to start work on the many toys and gifts for the holiday season. I have one almost cut out and marked. I hope to get it done today. I am also working on a project for Brenna's birthday. I started this one last year and abandoned it due to poor results. This time, however I am doing much better with it. I hope to have this all finished soon and waiting to be mailed out for her birthday on the 5th of December. It pays to plan ahead, especially since it has to travel across the country to the other coast. I also have quite a few patterns to copy over to interfacing. I am a solid believer in not cutting my patterns now, and I have found that interfacing makes a great transfer medium. Well I am feeling inspired, so I am off to finish cutting out all the pieces and putting this toy together. It will be fun to have so many "friends" hanging out in the sewing room as the holidays approach.
Store Stamp

Sudden Downpour

Yesterday was highlighted with a sudden and strong downpour during the storm. It was nicely timed as I had just finished up doing some yoga and felt rather refreshed in my soul. As I finished my short session, I saw the clouds approaching from across the bay, and then the skies just opened. It was by far the closest thing I have gotten to a good old Illinois thunderstorm since we left the state. I took a picture of the shrouded city skyline:

Here is the view of the skyline today:

What a difference a day makes. I spent the rest of the day cleaning up from the flurry of weekend activity and making dinner. I also got around to working a bit on a personal velvet wreath. I have made one of these for my mother, sister, and sister-in-law, but I have never gotten to make the one I wanted for myself. Now is the time I guess. I have quite a few of the leaves cut out and also on their wires, but there are still a few colors that need to be pressed and then cut out. Perhaps I will work a bit on that today if there is time. I am determined to get one of the gifts that is partially cut out fully cut out and mostly sewn up today. I know that was the goal yesterday, but there was more cleaning to do around the house than I expected. I am also going to try to pick up the harp and learn to play it again. This has been a multi year struggle, and I would like to kick the quitting train. I am resolving to watching less news in the afternoons and do more things that are good for my soul, mainly yoga, dance, harping, and reading. I hope to stick to the new plan. Well I am off to try to rouse the 770 into playing my station again. It has become difficult again as of late. Hopefully I can convince it to connect to the network, so I can groove away on this holiday sewing!
Store Stamp

Bountiful Brunch and the Begining of New Things

The past few days have been a whirl wind of activity. On Thursday, I ran all around to get the presents for Dan's birthday, and Friday was filled with running errands to get food for the brunch for Saturday and cleaning the house for the guests. I prepped for the meal all evening, so I skipped dance class again. The brunch was bountiful, partially because of my fear of running out of food. I made fresh pumpkin bread on Saturday morning to avail my fear and focus on pulling off some new recipes I have never made. It is such a hosting no no, but I really wanted to make these recipes I have never gotten the chance to because they make so much. I made a recipe for caramel apple and cranberry French toast from Tyler Florence and my second recipe attempt out of Mastering the Art of French Cooking was also a success. I made a quiche. I only wish there were pictures, but I was too busy hosting to think to take them. The food was awesome. We also had applewood smoked bacon from the smoker next door to our building and lox with creme fresh, capers, and red onion on mini toasts for the meats. It was a great spread, but the cleaning of the party is still on going. While I started the cleaning right after the breakfast, the rest of the party went over to Alameda for a tasting at the Saint Georges distillery. Needless to say I was pooped and gave up on fully finishing the cleaning around 6 that night.

Sunday was Dan's actual birthday, so we planned to celebrate it as well as get some of our weekend errands done. We ate some of the leftovers from brunch for breakfast. It was still very good. We then went and shopped for our pumpkin to carve for Halloween. I think we picked out a winner. I will make sure to take pictures for you all to see.

I have decided to try to start a new routine with this week. In honor of the new moon and the belief that the new moon is a good time astrologically to start new things, I am going to try to get back to my exercise routine. I am going to go as soon as I post this and do a yoga workout. It has been many month since I have done yoga, and I am starting to notice the effects in my everyday life and not just during dance. I am more stiff and feel less flexible to do things that I once could do easily. I am also going to work on taking up the Christmas gifts again. I am starting to rapidly fall behind again and need to get back to working on things again. I hope to get the gift I have partially cut out fully cut out and mostly sewn up today. I will also take pictures of these items for an end of the year wrap up like I did last holiday season. Well off to stretch and start up some sewing.
Store Stamp

Soup on a Rainy Day

Yesterday was completely glorious in how rainy and dreary it was. I miss days like that, and today is also a nice day with some sun but really beautiful fluffy clouds. I have caught myself staring out the window at them almost 10 times this morning. It is just nice to see some variance in the sky besides fog or sun. I did revel in the rain yesterday by creating a rainy day feast of butternut squash and apple soup with homemade rolls. I made a recipe from Ina Garten that I added some modifications to for the soup. I have made this one before, but I did not like it as well as tonight's with my modifications. It was by far the best soup I think I have ever made.

The rolls were my first attempt at Parker House rolls. The dough was really good, and they tasted yummy. Sadly, though they did not all stay crimped shut, so some were just like biscuits. They were however all eaten, so I am sure they were not awful. We had them with some local honey and my homemade apple butter.

I declared, after eating the rolls, that we would no longer be a pop roll family. There were way easier to put together than I thought, and took very little time. So, I think I am adding another from scratch only to my list.

I did not get the pants done as planned. Many friends were calling me yesterday, and it was wonderful. There were people that I had not talked to in months that all decided to call me yesterday. I took the opportunity to work on some ironing and cutting out of Christmas gifts, as that can easily be done on the phone and sewing is too loud. Today, though, I am focused on those pants. Hopefully tomorrow is sunny enough to take a picture, so they can get listed up on Friday. They are a wonderfully dressy pair, that look almost like they could be suit pants. I have some shopping to do this week as well to get Dan some birthday gifts, so don't be surprised if there are some late entries into the blog in the next day or so. It is as it needs to be! Well I am off for pants finishing and more toy cutting out.
Store Stamp

First Stom of the Season

Do you hear that?! Listen closely! Yep, that is rain; actual rain hitting the windows of the studio. I could not be happier to hear that noise. While I love the constancy in weather out here, always around 75 degrees and sunny to partly sunny, having a switch to a real rain storm is wonderful. I miss the storms of central Illinois more often than I thought I would, and while not missing the snow, the lack of that clean feeling after a gully washing storm is something I could handle having around here more often. Things already smell cleaner and look cleaner, and the storm has just started. We have had a few brown outs this morning, but we still have power for now, hence the early blog posting. Today I am going to finish up those pants. I did not get any work done on them yesterday due to taking care of both Dan and myself. I ended up sleeping most of the afternoon, and I feel much better today for it. I worked mostly on the hairfalls that I have started. One is just about finished after leisurely working on them. If the power goes out, I am going to switch over to copying some of the patterns I will be using for this year's Christmas gifts. Well I am going to post this up since the lights just dimmed again, and I don't want to lose this posting. I will be drinking my tea and working on sewing as long as I can use the machine, then perhaps some hooky to read my book. ;)
Store Stamp

First Cold of the Season

I have come down with my first cold of the season. While I have been trying to ignore and deny it, today I can no longer do that. I am sick, and while not miserable, I wished it was not the situation. There is a lot that I would like to accomplish, but I am going to try to take it easy this time. I usually go full steam until I physically cannot do things due to feeling way to ill, which usually results in a prolonged version of the illness. This time I am trying my hardest to take it easy and nip this in the bud. I just have a hard time taking things easy unless I feel ultimately miserable.

It is the end of the terrace garden as well. I hoped it would be able to last through the winter, but the sun has changed its course in the sky and no longer shines on the balcony. The plants are also racked with whatever fungal or bacterial illness they received in the year, so most have died or on their way to that end. The only real producer on the balcony was the tomato plant, which was wind pollinated. I guess there are just not enough insects to do the job. Next year I will know and make up for them with the use of cotton swabs. Today I am going to work on taking down the lattice work and remove the plants and dirt for disposal. I wanted to get this done either today or over the weekend before the first fall/winter storm rolls in early this next week. I am also going to move the herb box into the house now that it has stalled due to the lack of sun. I hope it will do well with the morning sun coming in through one of the living room windows. I also am debating moving the lemon tree in as well. It also does not get enough sun, and I would hate to lose that. The jasmine is quite happy right now as is the rosemary. I need both a trellis for the jasmine to shape it onto and a larger pot for the rosemary since it has gotten so large again. I hope to leave those two outside unless there is a frost warning.

I did get around to photographing the Black and Gold Vine Sari pair down in the front courtyard. It proved to be a great spot for taking photos. I got over my shyness with doing this, and it turned out that few people actually noticed me. The few people that did were more worried about messing up my photos than being annoyed that I was doing it. The ease of taking photographs in the enclosed area was wonderful compared with the photos I took on the patio at the old apartment. There was less wind, so it took me only 15 minutes to get good shots versus the hour it used to take me at the old apartment. It was pure joy. Here is one of the product shot sets I took:

I am also going to work on some things in the shop if I feel up to it. The chocolate pin stripe pants are coming along well, and it would be great to get them finished up for photographing and listing next week. More likely, I will be working on a pair of green and black hairfalls I started. It would be awesome to get them up early next week as well. I think they would be a great addition to someone's Halloween costume for this year. Well I think the sore throat needs a cup of tea, and the laundry needs to get started. Off for some low impact activities.