19 November 2007

It's knitting season

The wind is whipping the trees bare and the cold dampness is seeping into my bones. Washington winter is upon us. Of course it is sad to see the sun fade away behind a thick blanket of gray, however, this means it is time to bring out the buckets of wool and get all your needles in a row. It's knitting season! My first project: arm warmers. It was my first run with size 2 needles and that multicolored yarn that knits up in stripes. Socks are next!

Open your pie hole!

Pie: 300 Tried-and-True Recipes for Delicious Homemade Pie by Ken Haedrich. How could I resist a title like that! I found this amazing book at an amazing little kitchen store in Fairhaven: the Pacific Chef. I could go on about the store, but I'll refrain. Suffice to say it's my consumer kitchen dream come true. Especially because they stock this pie cookbook. My love for Ken Haedrich's simply titled work of genius began when I found it on the shelves of the Ipswich Library in the summer of 2005. So I when I rediscovered it a few weeks ago in Fairhaven, I decided to make the investment. Haedrich's writing is a delight to read and the recipes are easy to follow with a few variation for many of the different pies. And the crusts are perfect! I made a cheddar-crusted apple pie with grannies from our CSA, B-grade maple syrup and a crumble top: a New England special for my Vermonter. Yum! This pie and this book come highly recommended. Check it out at your local library.

12 October 2007

Vancouver Crafting

My sister and I took advantage of the rainy Vancouver skies last weekend and paid a visit to the famous Dressew. This amazing sewing store is two floors chock full of every bell and whistle one would ever need to create the ultimate sewing project. Walls of fabric. Aisles of zippers. Piles of buttons. And all at wicked cheap prices. Even for Canada! You can check out the cool project I made for Kevin's birthday this spring. All the supplies came from Dressew. Every little grommet.

On this particular mission, I was focused on pouches. For those of you who keep up with my sister's blog, you may remember the cute bear pouch she made last month. On that rainy Saturday, we were going to have a pouch-making lesson. With supplies in hand, we made our way back to the apartment and spent the day cutting and sewing and eating samosas. The guys read and baked cookies and played with the bunny.

Here's the final product. I added a little flurish of my own: hand-carved bird stencil. The bird is complemented by the bright red lining. It still needs a strap or something for the zipper, but I think it's quite sharp looking.

11 October 2007

Mystery of the Phantom Ponytail

It's really no mystery at all: I cut it off! After years of hemming and hawing, I finally took the plunge. (Spencer, I know you'll be proud). My hair has not been this short since the seventh grade. I also dyed it purple at that time... I was going through my "alternative" phase. I couldn't find the perfect picture to convey my perfect haircut to my stylist "Jenna" so we decided on something between a Winona Ryder and a Keira Knightly. I'm quite happy with the results and Jenna said I looked "so frickin' cute". I love my stylist.

This photo is post-salon. Of course, the reality is a little more tussled and a lot more poofy. Something between the child star of a 1950's film about a sweet-faced tomboy with a love for horses and a Dickens street urchin. I have no photo verification of this comparison, but you can google "Oliver Twist". At night, I still reach back to remove the elastic that once held my flowing locks, but it is no longer there. Instead I feel the bristle of the short hair at my neck. It will take some getting use to, but I'm liking the new look.

17 September 2007

Gardening Like It's My Job

Well, I've found some honest work out here in Seattle, something to help pay the bills. And wouldn't you know, I'm gardening! Are you surprised? These past three weeks I have been digging my little fingers into people's yards: weeding, pruning, raking, deadheading. It is a strange time to begin a gardening career, but with Seattle's mild climate there are things to do year round. Who else will manicure this city's "better homes & gardens"?

I work on a team of three people, and we drive this big, old truck all over north Seattle and some on the east side (that is the east side of Lake Washington... where Bill Gates lives). We work on a variety of different gardens, mostly private homes. BIG private homes.

It's a decent job so far. I work four 10-hour days with a 5-mile bike ride tacked on at each end. As the days get colder and grayer and rainier, I may have to finally embrace my coffee girl career. I'm still looking for the perfect job, but until then I'm pretty happy to be among the plants.

09 September 2007

The Joys of Unemployment

I am recently unemployed. The past week I have been trying to enjoy my little bout of freedom while responsibly (read "obsessively") searching the want ads for the next big thing. It's not been easy, but I found some fun ways to spend my time.

1.) Needle Felting: my sister taught me this little craft before we left for my brother's wedding, and it is only a short time before tiny animals take over my bedroom. Fox is my second creation and is now my personal mascot.

2.) Canning: the first thing I did when I returned to Seattle was visit the Ballard Farmer's Market. This weekly ritual always makes me feel a little more human in this big city and there's tons of beautiful, local produce. And who could say no to a whole flat of ripe raspberries! They simply begged to be turned into jam. So I embarked on my first canning experience and threw in some tomato sauce at the end.

And of course, 3.) Blogging: I finally found the time and motivation to start this thing rolling. I have also spent an ungodly amount of time drooling over other people's cute blogs. I mostly blame my sister and sister-in-law for this newfound addiction. Hours of my life slip away checking out crafty things here and delicious recipes there. You can find some very useful tutorials on said blogs, if you just keep your wits about you. I've posted some of my favorite links so you too can be sucked into the vortex that is craftster blogs.

06 September 2007

My Garden

When I first moved into my new home, the backyard was nothing but crabgrass with a blackberry-covered fence running along all three sides. There were hints of what used to be a garden beside the neighbors' shed and along the back edge, but it had been overcome by weeds. My roommate claims that in it's glory days, more than half the yard was fill with vegetables and flowers. But no longer. Don't get me wrong, we have a nice yard; it's large enough- if we had the notion- for a good game of badminton or lawn volleyball. But it lacks pizazz.

So with the help of my good friends Rachel (pictured above; so happy about the little babies growing beneath the soil) and Andrew, we dug up two small plots for all kinds of green life. One plot was set aside for mostly veggies: beets, snap peas, shelling peas, three types of lettuce, three types of tomatoes, and three types of peppers. I did sprinkle some nasturtiums and marigolds in there to help keep the bugs away (yea, companion planting!). Ambitious, I know, but playing it safe wasn't why I got into gardening in the first place... I'm a rebel gardener.

The long garden bed across the back fence was reserved mostly for flowers. Flowers and more tomatoes. What can I say! I'm a sucker for home-grown tomaters. Once you experience the brilliant color and sweet, juicy flavor of a home-grown, you'll never go back! But these were cherry tomatoes: sungold, porter's dark cherry, and juilet. I also planted an heirloom called the "Pineapple" tomato. Nothing like it's sister, the cherry tomato, this yellow and red-striped monster grows impressive, one-pound tomatoes! I got it at the University of Washington's annual plant sale where people camp out at "six-in-the-mo'nang" in order to battle for the best cultivars in the tomato tent. I kid you not! We're talking some dedicated tomato lovers. I got there at noon and the only thing left was the Pineapple... we'll see how it grows. The flowers were basically whatever pretty picture on the seed packet impressed me most. They were tossed about in a wildflower-like fashion around the tomatoes. I'm not an obsessive weeder; if it's green and it's not hurting anyone, I'll let it go. The garden had a bit of a bedhead look to it.

My garden wouldn't have won any prizes, but it brought me some happiness and a little food. Having a garden was just as good as getting a dog. Less cuddling, but no pooper-scoopers. A garden can be a girl's best friend. Now it is September and most of the flowers have lost their spunk. We haven't eaten our last tomato (still waiting on the Pineapple), but things are winding down. I'd like to take advantage of Seattle's mild climate (they don't call it the Emerald City for nothing), but who knows. Maybe I'll spring for some Hostas. Maybe even some ferns.

07 August 2007

In the beginning...

I moved to Seattle eight months ago, and fully intended to begin my blogging back then. I wanted to be able to share my new life with friends and family far away. I don't know if it was the dreariness of January (and February... and March and April..) or the sudden isolation of moving across the country to a foreign city where I knew not a soul, but I couldn't bring myself to embark on this internet adventure during those lonely days of winter. I had nothing to say.

Come spring, the mood had lightened: clouds parted, rain ceased, the sun shone... occasionally. I had gotten my seattle legs and felt a growing comfort in the jostling city. I felt happy walking the streets of my new neighborhood, finding the local farmers markets and attending the monthly square dances. Each day I strolled along the garden-lined streets to work, searching for the latest green shoots and emerging blossoms. And even when the gray clouds inevitably returned to cover the sky, I felt the aching gratitude of the infant plants as if it were my own. These experiences in my new environment help assuage my loneliness and bring hope for the coming season. But the bloggersphere still loomed like a mountain... a giant, glacier-topped mountain. I still could not bring myself to start typing.

Late April saw the first of many visitors to my urban dwelling. Old friends brought warmth back into creaky limbs and together we dug up my backyard and planted my first garden. Through the clear summer days, I've watched my garden grow taller and bushier: peas, lettuce, tomatoes, beets, and dozens of flowers. The beautiful northwest summer was filled with new friends, visiting with old ones, Olympic expeditions, trips up north (some disastrous), Harry Potter, and at long last, the arrival of the bike brigade. We spent the summer cooking good food, eating good food, and dancing to good music whenever possible. With a little nudge from a friend, I finally bought property out in inter-space and got my very own blog address.

I just returned from my first visit to Massachusetts since January. I spent almost two weeks at home with family. I witnessed the marriage of my youngest brother to his high-school sweetheart, and there was much celebration. I felt the comfort of familiar people and places; feeling at once at home again in the soft mountains and deciduous forests of New England. I visited with my boyfriend's family in Vermont and canoed the Ompompanoosuc in early morning fog. But now I am back again. Waiting. Waiting for my partner to come join me; waiting for someone to hire me; waiting for my oven to be fixed so that I can begin baking scones like it's my job (if only...). But at least I've started my blog. (I'll try to keep the entries shorter next time. Thanks for reading!)