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Photo Session, New Listing

Today I am finally going to bite the bullet and try out the front courtyard for pants photos. I have that wonderful pair of new black vines hanging in the studio, and they need to find their way into the Etsy Store and into a new home. It will be very different taking my pictures on street level, and I have decided to change from using a choli in the pictures to a nice shirt instead. I hope they turn out.

I also have finished up taking pictures of that second red work embroidered tin. I love the thistle style pattern on this one.

I also worked on taking pictures of this one and yesterday's box with a vignette setting. I used some of my own embroidery and sewing tools in the scene, and I am quite pleased at how it turned out.

I am going to get this one listed up in the store as soon as I am done here. Then it is off for the photo shoot in the front entry garden. Finally I hope to either work on a pair of chocolate pin stripe pants in a poly cotton blend, or sit on the couch and work on a set of Halloweenish hair falls. It all depends on how I am feeling and whether or not this cold starts to take a stronger hold on my sinuses. I hope to sew rather than braid now. I would rather work on the falls tonight with our television viewing. Right now we are working through the National Parks series by Ken Burns. It has been really interesting. Well I guess I should be off for my close-up!
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Finally Focused

Yesterday was truly focused. I got a lot accomplished in the time I was working on things for the shop. I cleaned up the kitchen, put away clothes, picked up the house in general, and then set to doing shop things. I finished up that pair of black pants that I was dragging my feet on. They look great. Here they are after the final ironing before taking pictures of them.

I hope to take pictures of them today and list them up either tomorrow or Thursday. I tried to take a close-up of the fabric for the blog, but it is a bit blurry.

I always love how this fabric looks and feels, but it is horrible to try to photograph. I am going to work out using the front garden of this building this time. I hope that the neighbors don't mind, so I will see today I suppose.

I also got those red work tins finished off.

I am working on some new photography for them this time, including a vignette style with some sewing accessories to make it more visually interesting. It may also help people envision how I use them myself. The sunlight patterns have changed since we first moved into this apartment, so it is hard to get pictures in full sunlight now. I am going to try using the lighting in this apartment and see if I can use that and editing to get good pictures for the store. I did get one really good picture of a tin before the sun dipped behind the building.

I hope to have the rest of the pictures taken today and load this onto the Etsy Store sometime this afternoon. I am also headed into the studio to work on a pair of chocolate pinstripe pants and cut out a pair of olive colored sari pants as well. Lots of inspiration now that I have my focus back! I am headed off to work!
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Lots Going On

You would think with fall in full swing that things would start to calm down, at least that was what happened in the last two years. This year has been exceptionally busy. Having Annie around is only a small piece of the puzzle. I think the newer bigger apartment requires more cleaning than the last one. It is more area to cover. Also the jam obsession has contributed to this all quite a bit. I am also getting back into baking quite a bit. My first pumpkin pie came out a true success, again due to Hubert Keller's pie crust recipe. I feel the pounds adding from this all butter crust, but I think it is so worth the extra walking I need to do for the pieces of this crust!

Plus, I am very happy to say, the early start on the Christmas sewing is nothing to sneeze at. Less pulling of hair this winter will be a welcomed change. The shop is also busier, with more orders this year than last year, especially in the custom work area of things. I am truly happy and blessed with all the hub bub of activity lately.

On Wednesday I had lots of appointments to make, mainly a dental one and a hair cut. I promptly fell asleep after eating lunch on the couch, so that day was chalked up to not much done. Thursday was mostly spent working on some computer and office work for the shop as well as tutoring for 826 Valencia. Friday was a fun filled day of showing Annie's brother around the city. We went for Dim Sum in the Richmond district and then wandered around Golden Gate Park. We took in one act at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival and also visited the Glass House to look at flowers. My favorites were definitely the orchids and the special exhibit on edible plants.

Saturday was a low key day. Dan went to code camp, and I worked on cleaning up the kitchen as well as making some wrapping papers for the shop. I have not sat down and done that for a while, so it was good to restock the supply. We then took off for the Pacific Pinball Expo and had some great hours of pinball games. I especially liked some of the older Gottlieb games from the 1940's and 1950's. There seemed to be fewer machines this year, but it was still a really good time. I just wished there would have been a Circus Voltaire for me and a Junkyard for Dan, but we cannot always get the machines we want when you are borrowing from collections of willing people. Sunday I went and collected items for a potential custom order. I am waiting to hear back from the person who requested it. We also worked on cleaning out the Aerogarden. I decided to finally shut it down after the pump failure. The plants were still quite healthy and producing fruit, but I wanted to take a break from having it up on the counter.

Today I got orders ready to ship out as well as a care package for my sister. I also shipped out the pants that a friend made and wanted me to fix for him. It was a busy packing day before the postal worker got here. I also listed up the last pair of maroon and gold sari wrap pants.

I really loved this fabric, and it seems like people like it as well. I just wanted to let you all know this is the last pair in this fabric, and I can never get that fabric in again. So, if you are a lover of these pants like I am, go and snatch them up now before this last pair disappears! Today I am off to put the finishing touches on a pair of black pants as well as those redwork boxes. If the weather is good, I will get pictures taken and load them up for sale this week.
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End of Major Jam Production

Annie and I have finally decided to call an end to the major jam production for the year. After canning another 24 jars of jams and jelly this last session, we both came to the realization that we cannot eat and give away this much jam in a year. Therefore, there is only one more canning session for jams left this year due to my want for caramel apple jam. I am really excited about that one! We tried our hand at jelly for the first time, and while not totally clear due to only doing one pass through our "jelly socks" and squeezing for extra juice, I am still quite proud of the product. We chose to call it natural unfiltered jelly, which is kind of silly because jelly is supposed to be clear, but the tasty product we made cannot be beat! I would like to think Dan's apple picks are most of the reason why.

We started with six pounds of rough chopped apples, leaving the skins and cores intact. Next, we cooked the apples with some water. Meanwhile, Annie and I finished off her preparation of the pear and pinot noir jam.

It was quite tasty! We then moved back to the apple jelly. After the cook time was up, we placed the cooked down mush into a pair of clean nylon stocking. Now, you may be scratching your head at this, but there is a perfectly good explanation. I am somewhat cheap, and the jelly bags you can get at many stores are just a bit to expensive when I am trying to be extra thrifty, so the stockings and high necked faucets work just as well as the expensive jelly bag set ups.

The most important thing is to make sure your socks are clean. We washed this pair of hose before cutting them up and placing the food inside. We then hung them over catch bowls and went to get some lunch.

From there we took the collected juice and added our lemon juice and sugar and cooked it all down.

We canned that and moved on to the plum and the peach that I had prepped the night before. All in all we had 24 half pints at the end of the day. I was proud of how much we did in the little time we spent canning. I guess we have our system down now.

Today I hope to get some time in behind the sewing machine. The call of my knitting has been a strong distraction lately, but it is not part of my Christmas sewing or my Fabulous Pants sewing, so I really need to leave that off till at night in front of the television. The black pants will be finished if it kills me today. I am also planning on finishing up this pants repair for a friend's pair of pants. While cool pants, the seams that the sewer used were way too short, so there are lots of little repairs for me to try to fix up the seams. I am taking most of it to the serger. I also want to make a killer fall meal tonight since the weather is so cold. Today was the first really cold morning, so I am even debating washing the quilt for the last time this season and getting out the down comforter. Hum... I think I need to make a pumpkin pie while I think about it. Test out that crust mojo and see if it is still here!
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Jam Session - End of Season Peach, Plum, Fall Pear, Apple

Today I am up and going for a long jam session with Annie! She and I wisely decided to each do some prep work for the session at our own houses. We were hoping to get all the canning in faster than before. Last time we were really flying, and this time with most of the prep finished, we should be able to get most of this done. I am also hoping it is more pleasant out in her part of the bay. The weather for the last week and a half has been in the triple digits and very unpleasant for jam making. The original plan was to make peach with raspberry and cardamon, pear with pinot noir and cinnamon, and then either apple or plum. We decided on apple jelly, trying our hand at jelly for the first time rather than jam. Sadly, though, when I went to the market my favorite plum seller told me this was the last week for them. SO, I decided to tack plum onto our jam making list. We were going to wait until next week for it, but if this is the last week of these wonderful plums, I needed to act. I still have not told Annie. Hopefully she is signed on to the plan! I prepped the peach and raspberry and the plum in the hopes of keeping us on my expanded jam session plans.

Both are already a beautiful color just with the maceration and steep. I cannot wait to see how they look in the jars. The apples have to be prepped at Annie's place, so we can always back out if four jams is too much. We may, however, need more jars. Always need more jars. More pictures of the finished jam tomorrow.
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Yesterday I was really unfocused. Today is also shaping up to be the same. I cannot seem to stay on one task and see it through to completion lately. I was hoping to get things more on track today, but I fear it is going down the same road. I did get my desk in order and also plowed through the three months of personal checkbook balancing that needed to be addressed. The desk, I am happy to report, is wonderfully clean now, and the books balanced on the first go. From there things just degraded. I wanted to get some new items ready for photographing this morning and uploading to the shop, but I could not stay on task. I debated making a pie. I debated working on the belt. I picked up a pair of pants and stitched for a bit. I then focused in on some Christmas stuff for family and pattern copying for their gifts. (I am a chronic copier of patterns rather than cutting them out of the paper. I like to have copies rather than have to buy the pattern over again if there is a cutting problem.) Then I went back to the pants and debating pie. Then I decided to get on line and attend the SF Etsy team chat. Then I researched a discontinued pancake mix for my parents.

I was literally all over the place. Seeing as it is noon now, and I have not a lot to show for the day, I think today may wind up the same way. I think the pie has to be made. Who can say no to chocolate pie? Then I am going to focus in on the pants that I have been trying to work on for forever and finish them. Preliminary pictures perhaps for tomorrow's posting. Then I want to work on a pair of repair pants for a Belegarth friend. He needed me to fix some patchwork pants that keep ripping apart. I hope the serger can fix that up. If there is time, then it is off to work on the red work tins. The embroidery for them is gorgeous; they just need to get finished.

Those are the goals. Hopefully I can make them! Hey what is that shiny thing?!
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Welcoming Fall

Yesterday I kept waiting for the heatwave to hit that was supposed to move into the area. Luckily, though, the sea breeze kept the heat over the Oakland hills on the other side of town from us. The house stayed delightfully cool for my fall housecleaning madness. I cleaned all surfaces. There was dusting of bookcases and tables, wiping down mirrors, polishing plates (Yes we have to polish our plates due to a reaction between the silverware and stone wear.), cleaning of bathrooms, and laundry in the machines. It was a whir of activity and a banishment of dust clouds. I kept the one last remaining good flower in the arrangement as a last hint of summer in the house. Today, it is still delightfully chilly despite blistering temperatures across the hills. I enjoy bay side living.

The only thing that did not get tackled is this:

I intend to get the desk mess in order today. Entropy is a hard force to fight. Just when you think you have it beaten down, it shows itself somewhere else. It will be great to have a fully cleaned house and work space. Today I am hoping to finish off a pair of pants and perhaps more handwork on a belt. There is also a matter of dessert to be made since the temperature is not hot again. I am looking to make a chocolate pie that I saw in my latest Penzey's Catalogue. It looks really yummy. Hopefully this will also be the end to my crust issues I have had as of late. I will report back to see if a new recipe and method worked better this time rather than the disastrous results I have been having lately. The red work boxes are being made, but are not finished yet. More on those soon. There is also the possibility that I will abandon all this to go and get some more tools for clay working. I am working up some new contraptions in clay and hope to have those out for all to see soon as well.

I am going to get down to work on this desk thing... hopefully it doesn't take all day!
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Carrot Cake

Yesterday, the sewing instinct just was not with me as much as the baking one was. After a long trek out to acquire household needs and hauling four canvas bags back to the house, sewing was not on my mind. Cake, on the other hand, was. I usually do not back cakes for Dan and I because we just cannot finish them before they get stale and nasty, so lately I have been opting for cupcakes that we frost as we want to eat them. That ends up being a week or two of the same desert with some of the same results: mold or staleness. Finally I decided to bite the bullet and do something I have been tossing around in my head for a while. I went down to the party supply store and bought two of the smallest cake pans that you use for the upper tier of a wedding cake. I halved the recipe for carrot cake and split that among the two small cake pans. The results were the best, prettiest cake I have ever made!

The frosting is not super smooth looking because the kitchen was so hot it was melting off the cooled cake as I frosted it. I could have fixed it before the picture, but we were too excited for dessert. The only other thing it was missing was the piped carrots on top. I ran out of time to make them. This small size means that Dan and I can each have a piece of cake for two nights. Just enough of a taste of a cake type without getting tired of it. We can also finish them before they get funky! I cannot wait for all the possibilities for cake desserts that I have just opened up by finally buying those pans!
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Kinetic Artist Arthur Ganson

The Long Now talk by Arthur Ganson was rather interesting and thought provoking for me. I am not usually that big of a fan of kinetic art, as most of it seems to be a who can top who lately, but his pieces seemed much more thought provoking for me. (I will keep my critiques and thoughts short, so they do not taint your own towards the work.) He had with him, the thinking chair. It was a neat piece with a chair that walks around a rock that is suspended above the gear structure.

It is so intricate and yet so heavy at the same time, with the rock above all the delicate metal pieces and gears that move the chair. It also seems to be walking on its "hands" to me, which places the piece totally off balance. There is a tenuousness to it all, where you expect the chair to fall, or a teacher to yell "Four on the floor please" at it, and yet it seems perfectly at peace with itself.

My other favorite was Machine with Chair:

I am a big fan of organic shapes and textures in artwork and architecture. The music combined with a machine dancing with a chair is so moving and beautiful to me. I am not sure if it is the dancer in me that was drawn to this particular installation, but I think the form of the machine is beautiful and the layering of the classical guitar music makes it all work together. It is form and machinery all in a perfect harmony. The most amazing thing to me is the small amount of tolerance for error that Mr. Ganson achieves with all of his art pieces.

Cory's Yellow Chair was also one that I found a great appreciation:

Mr. Ganson talked about the moment of now when explaining this piece, and I love that concept. When is now? I find that the moving meditation that is performed before my classes at Fat Chance Bellydance help to bring me into that moment of now. That movement focuses me in on what exactly I am doing at that moment with those people. This chair is also a focusing point to me. The momentary time when the chair is assembled is a definite moment of now, and then, that brief completeness is taken apart as the chair explodes.

Those are just my thoughts and reflections. If you go to Arthur Ganson's website he has many more videos of his works, including the Machine with Concrete and Margot's Cat, two other thought provoking pieces that you should really see for yourself and ponder without my thoughts cluttering yours.
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Seeing Red

I seemed to get a lot done yesterday. I made salsa, red food. I worked on my cross stitch, red floss. I went to Long Now to hear about kinetic art, red theater seats, and today I tasted the salsa, too sweet. This got me seeing red. I spent a lot of time working on the salsa yesterday to only mess up one thing. I did not cut the sugar amount in half when I halved the recipe. I guess that is what happens when you should have really eaten lunch but waited until your canning was complete.

Overall, I got some really great pictures though. I loves how red these tomatoes are. They were super ripe, so it made for easy slipping of the skins.

They were super fragrant and wonderfully juicy. I did not have to squeeze them at all for extra cooking juice for the vegetable mix of peppers and onions.

The cooking went well and did not take up much time. Like I said, all was well except forgetting to cut the sugar in half. After all the work, I only ended up with two full pints and one filled three quarters of the way, so it had to go in the fridge.

This takes me to what I am going to do to fix the problem. After some quick consultation with Dan for some ideas, I have decided to get four more pounds of tomatoes from the market on Sunday and make another half batch with out the sugar. Then I will open up the jars and pour them in and bring the mix back up to boiling for a few minutes. Then it will go back into clean jars and into the canner for reprocessing. Hopefully this works out for a better salsa. I also found that there was no heat to the salsa despite adding three full jalapeno peppers, seeds and all to the salsa. Now, I am not a big spice person, so this was a real shocker to me. I am going to add three more peppers to this half batch, and hopefully we will get some heat back into this.

Today up in the Etsy Store I am listing some new red gerbera daisy hair flowers. I really like them. They are a beautiful crimson shade with dark brown to black middles. They also have the same sturdy silver bobby pins for maximal placement possibilities.

Today I am determined to sew up a new pair of black sari pants for the store. I have had them cut out for a long time, but I have been too busy with canning and housekeeping to get to them. Today is the day. I also have the last of the tent adjustments to make at 826 Valencia. Hopefully I can squeeze in some muffin baking as well. Tomorrow I will post my thoughts on the Long Now talk from last night. For now the thoughts are still marinading.