Monday, December 31, 2012

2012, by the numbers

It's New Years Eve, and I'm in a bit of a reflective mood. I always feel like I spend too much of my free time putzing around the internet and not actually doing things, be it adventures or crafting. Looking back though, it's been a very productive year. Here is my 2012, by the numbers:

Moved 455 miles

Completed 6 knitting projects (1 cardigan, 4 amigurumi, and 1 dishtowel)

Mrs. Darcy Cardigan by Mary Weaver
Octopus by Hansi Singh

Frogged 1 knitting project (amigurumi lion - I could never get the ears or mane right)
Little Lion Sock Critter by Lion Brand Yarn
Sewed 8 projects (1 dress, 1 tote bag, 3 costumes, 1 project bag, 1 hilariously bad t-shirt and  Christmas stockings)

Retro Space Age Stocking Tutorial by Tried and True

Read 25 books (These two were my favorite. Highly recommended!)

Donated 8 inches of hair and 0.75 pints of blood (turns out my veins are a bit selfish and I couldn't make it to the full pint)

Tried 50+ new recipes
Maple Roasted Butternut Squash Salad by Iowa Girl Eats

I hope you all have fun plans for tonight. I am going to a bar/music venue here in Atlanta to listen to local bands and usher in 2013. Even thought it's not the most glamourous of settings, I am still busting out my feathered fascinator and some sequins. Here's to a healthy, happy and productive 2013!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Home for the Holidays

Hello again! It's been a while, but I hope you all had a lovely holidays. I went home to Florida for the first time in a year, and had the best Christmas in ages. I spent time with my family and my in-laws, gave myself a stomachache eating too many sweets, and watched a marathon of RuPaul's Drag Race with my mom. In short, it was fabulous.

I mostly got very thoughtful, lovely practical gifts (my favorite - I must be getting old), but there are two very exciting crafting developments. I came home with a set of size 1 DPNs from my mom so I can knit this ridiculous Barbie power suit. City Councilwoman Leslie Knope Barbie, anyone?

And, behold, my new sewing machine. Well, new-to-me. My mother-in-law is a quilter, and last Christmas she bought herself a Bernina(!). This year, she decided she was ready to part with her old Viking, and I was the lucky recipient. Here it is, in its new home in the Woodsy View:

It has many embroidery features that I'll never use, but I was delighted when I read the instruction manual this morning and discovered it has 3 kinds of buttonholes, a stretch stitch, two overlock stitches for knits, and twin-needle capability. It's a huge upgrade from the starter White machine I've been using for the past couple of years that I bought for $30 on Craigslist. I'll be paying it forward and giving it away, so that someone else can continuously fight with the tension learn to sew.

I'm off to learn how to actually use this fancy thing, with its drop-in bobbin and digital controls. Hope you have a great weekend.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Robots and Krakens

This past weekend I finally finished something: a cute project bag.

Before this I had been keeping my knitting projects in ziploc bags. It gets the job done, but not exactly stylish, and definitely not fun. The women in my knitting group all have these adorable and quirky project bags, but until now I never attempted to make one because I am completely terrible at cutting with any sort of precision without a pattern, especially straight lines and right angles. No matter how hard I try to line everything up, it just ends up crooked.

That is until I combined the magic of a coupon, a sale and a bit of a splurge at Joann Fabric and came home with this:

I don't know how I ever lived without a rotary cutter! I can't wait to try this baby out on plackets and belts. It's like magic, and made putting together this project bag a breeze.

I used this tutorial by In Color Order and the robot fabrics were both remnants at Fabric World. My one regret is that I didn't have the foresight to put in a bobbin with brown thread when sewing the casing for the drawstring.

I'll get you next time, bobbin thread! Overall, I'm ridiculously pleased with it, especially because it's the perfect size to hold an amigurumi project and my notions bag:

That is the beginnings of a Kraken. In typical indecisive Emily fashion, I can't decide if the main color should be the lighter teal (left) or darker teal (right), so I knitted a bit of both. And I still can't decide. This is why it takes me forever to finish anything! :) Any votes? I'd love to hear in the comments!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Back from London (sort of)

Hello again! I'm back from my 17 day trip down a rabbit hole of Olympic coverage. I am probably the only person in America who actually likes watching the Olympics in prime time, which meant I basically had to swear off the internet to avoid spoilers. I do wish NBC would have mixed things up a bit, and showed more of some of the oddball sports like trampoline, synchronized swimming and ping pong in prime time. Even so, I spent 5 (!) hours glued to the TV each night.  And the fact it was set in London was icing on the cake, since I got to relive my 2006 trip with my then-boyfriend, now-hubby. Watching the games brought me right back to this...

Oh, college, you were so carefree. I'd love to go back (but minus the baby face!). If only I had one of these!
Alas, I had to settle for representing Team TARDIS at the Ravellenic Games. I made this fun dishtowel

and took home two medals! The Doctor Who theme played while I stood on the podium and I received Jelly Babies in lieu of flowers.

As much as I love the Olympics, I have to admit I'm a little relieved they're over and I can do more with my evenings than watch TV for hours on end. After all, there are things to make and books to read!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Prepping for the Ravellenic Games

The Summer Olympics are only week away, and I couldn't be more excited. I am definitely not a sports person, but I love, love, love the Olympics. There is something about the obscure sports, montages set to swelling music and interviews with Bob Costas that I just can't get enough of. This time, watching the Olympics is going even more fun because I'm participating in the Ravelympics Ravellenic Games. (Sidenote: I think the organizers chose a great new name, but I can't help but hope that a Ravelrumpus takes place at some point in the future).

I am on Team TARDIS, and making this Dalek dishcloth, modified to be a dish towel. I'm going to keep going in stockinette until the skein is used so I can enter the single skein sprint event.

And for once I'm actually going to use the recommended yarn. I'm using Lily Sugar n' cream in potpourri ombre:
Lily Sugar 'n Cream Yarn Ombre (00178) Potpourri Ombre

I didn't want to choose anything too large or complicated because I'm mostly going to be knitting during commercial breaks. Every time the Olympics rolls around, I basically turn into a hermit for two weeks, celebrating athleticism by becoming a complete couch potato. This pattern is also perfect for entering into the friendly competition against Team Sherlocked to see who is really the most British by making the most British-themed projects. My dishtowel will be used to exterminate tea and biscuits from my dishes, so I'm golden.

And, just for fun, here are some links to some great articles on the Olympics I've read this week:
The's not like it was in the old days - Fascinating trivia about the first modern Olympics in 1896

Keeping Afloat - Athletes of less popular sports like synchronized swimming work all kinds of odd jobs to make ends meet

Lost Sports of the Summer Olympics - Rejected gems include pairs cycling and tug of war

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

New favorite recipes

I am in the middle of several projects, and actually have three (three!) knitting projects in the works. I don't usually let myself start a new project until I've finished the last one, so I don't have UFOs cluttering up my house. Alas, I have not followed my own rules, but hopefully soon I will have a knitted lion to share that I'm making as a gift for a mama-to-be at work.

In the meantime though, I thought I'd talk a bit about another hobby I've taken up recently: cooking.  After I got to Atlanta and had a couple of dinners out at somewhat foodie, vaguely hipstery farm-to-table restaurants I had the most basic of revelations: fresh food just tastes so much better. I'm definitely not going to give up Oreos any time soon, but I am trying to eat fewer processed foods.

And so I've begun, little by little, to shift from Pasta-roni to cooking from scratch. In the past few months I've found new food blogs, bought spices, learned how to saute garlic and embraced Greek yogurt. This past week I feel like I hit a turning point when my husband came home from the grocery store and pointed out that the only frozen thing he bought was waffles. Progress!

So here are my favorite recipes of late, collected from around the web:
1. Quinoa Pizza Bites by So Very Blessed via Pintrest

The first time I made quinoa, I was terribly disappointed that such a protein-packed food was so abysmally bland. Luckily, I found some better recipes, and this one is particularly amazing. In fact, we're having it for dinner tonight. I split the mixture and do half turkey pepperoni and half spinach pizza bites.

2. BBQ Chicken Quinoa Salad by Iowa Girl Eats

I may have a bit of a girl crush on Kristin from Iowa Girl Eats. Her recipes are easy, healthy and delicious, and she has such a charming blog to boot. The best part of this recipe is the sauce - a 1:1 mixture of barbeque sauce and plain greek yogurt. It cuts the sugar of barbeque sauce while giving it a nice tang. Genius! I've made up some of this sauce on its own to eat as vegetable dip.

3. Sneaky Meatball Subs by Iowa Girl Eats

Another Iowa Girl Eats favorite. These subs are seriously delicious. Two bites in I turned to Brian and said, "We're making these again." Adding zucchini to the ground turkey not only adds a vegetable, but keeps the meat juicy and expands the turkey into more meatballs so you get more bang for your buck.

4. Stove Top Macaroni and Cheese by Confections of a Foodie Bride

This macaroni and cheese recipe substitutes Greek yogurt for some of the cheese. You still get that creamy texture without resorting to a processed cheese like Velveeta. I also mix in a can of tuna and at least 1 cup of peas.

5. Overnight Oats by Kath Eats Real Food

This is such a great breakfast for hot summer days. It's old fashioned oats, milk, yogurt and 1/2 a banana left overnight, topped with whatever fruit, nuts or nut butter you'd like. It's refreshingly cold and completely satisfying.  I've been doing strawberries and blueberries on top, but there are many different options.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The $1.50 Tote Bag

The past couple of weekends I have been working on making a tote bag using some of the fabric remnants I bought for 50 cents at Fabric World. After I caught the $1 pattern sale at Joann's, I decide to challenge myself, Project Runway-style, to make the bag using only what I had in my stash. Here's the final product:

This whole idea came from the new Lisette tote bag pattern, which is adorable and summery, but my plans were dashed when I realized both views call for about double the amount of fabric I had. I settled for Simplicity 2685, determined to make this work. I wasn't sure which view I wanted to make initially, but view D (top right hand corner below) was the only that wasn't way too wide for my remnant. Happily this was the one I liked best.

Even with view D, I had to quite literally cut corners and dip into the seam allowance because I didn't have quite enough fabric.

I also had to shorten the straps by about 3/4 an inch. I am a glutton for punishment, aren't I? Sheesh.

The lining and interfacing were both leftovers from other projects, the button was an extra that came with a jacket, and I happened to have a zipper in the right length. Neither the lining or the zipper were anywhere close to the ideal color, but I was on a "make it work" mission!

My one complaint about this pattern is that the opening for the zipper was much wider than it needed to be, and as a result it looks a little sloppy. Well, at least mine does. I'm sure the fact that I was hungry and in a rush to finish putting it in before dinner was ready has absolutely nothing to do with how it looks. Nothing at all.

I'm about to take my new tote bag out for an afternoon of thrifting and checking out the Batmobile. Happy Saturday!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Indy Craft Experience

Last weekend I went to a craft show called the Indy Craft Experience (ICE). As you probably can guess from the name alone, this was a craft fair that aimed to be a bit more sophisticated than most. Rather than funnel cakes and corn dogs out in the sun, there were macaroons and the poodle  (a hot dog in french toast bun topped with apple slaw) in an air-conditioned art gallery. While most craft fairs have anything goes feel with vendors selling everything from barbecue sauce to hair scrunchies, the vendors at ICE were "curated", giving you the feeling of Etsy brought out into real life.

As one of the first 250 through the door on Saturday, I got this awesome swag bag, which completely justified the $5 entry fee. It was mostly filled with business cards, but there was a pet rock, some 3x5 art cards, a couple of fabric pins, a magnet, and other fun items, not to mention the tote bag itself.

I love the design on the tote: Ice, Ice, Baby
Walking around the show, had to laugh after one too many crafters decided to put a bird on it, but there was really some great stuff. I felt weird about taking pictures of the vendor's wares while I was there, but I figure it's okay to repost some of the pictures from the ICE website. There were several tables of sewn items, including these cute tote bags and summery circle skirts:

A Squared W

The ridiculously cute amigurumi at the NeedleNoodles table made me want to pick up their book Creepy Cute Crochet and give crochet another try.
And I loved this jewelry, but sadly, it was not in my (tiny) budget.
I was able to pick up this adorable and inexpensive art print by Katie Coleman Illustration, which really captures the essence of our cat.
"I'm tough"
Pippin thinks of himself as hard-nosed tiger, spending his days ruling over the squirrels in the woodsy view and keeping his mouse toys in line, which is a little at odds with the reality that he desperately (desperately!) needs to be petted the nanosecond I wake up in the morning because he had to go 8 long, arduous hours without anybody adoring him.

The Indy Craft Experience was a pretty pleasant way to spend a Saturday morning. My only regret is that I ran out cash and didn't get to try a poodle...

Sunday, June 3, 2012

A tank top dress, the hard way

Inspired by other the DIY tank dresses popping up all over on Pintrest (like this one and this one), I decided to make my own. I thought it would be an easy weekend project, a nice change of pace from the some of the longer-term projects I have in the works. Besides, a girl can never have too many sundresses.

I'm pretty happy with the end result, but it was a three week struggle to get here, mostly because of my own questionable decisions.

Here's how you too can make your own tank dress the hard way:

Step 1: Buy the end of a bolt of fabric, so that there is juuussst enough to get by. In a moment of desperation, decide to use the selveges to make the hem in order to avoid having a voluminous miniskirt (not a good look on windy days).

Step 2: Buy a tank top that is at least a full size too big because it it $6 and the perfect shade of blue. Shrink it in the dryer and then take in the sides, only to discover it has magical growing abilities. Begin to lower your standards for this dress.

Step 3: Try elastic thread for the first time to gather the waist. Spend at least an hour fussing with the tension on your machine before giving up and deciding to make a normal elastic waist with a casing. Bask in the glow of your achievement for about 10 minutes until you realize that you will still need to use the elastic thread to attach the tank top to the skirt so you can fit it over your head and shoulders.

Step 4: Do a really bad job attaching the two halves of the dress, so that when you try it on the bunched-up tank top makes you look like you have a tumor in your abdomen. Redo the seam.

Step 5: Ask your husband to take pictures of your new dress out in the woodsy view. Fish for compliments the entire time. Ask repeatedly if Michael Kors would tell you that you look like "Becky Home Ec-y".

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Adventure: Fabric World

At kitting group this past week I heard about this place called Fabric World that is essentially a Big Lots for fabric. Apparently they had a ton of remnants selling for 25 cents apiece, much of it designer fabric, going fast. It sounded like a dream come true. This place was literally calling to my thrifty soul.

So when I was let out of work a bit early on Friday, I knew just how to kick off Memorial Day weekend. I took the 30 min drive over to Stone Mountain to check it out for myself.

And it did not disappoint.

While they had a few things on bolts, most of the store was table after table of fabric remnants. It was just the kind of treasure hunt I love. The signs around the store were layered, so you could see how the fabric started at $2.00 per piece and then worked its way down to 4/$1.00.

The cashier told me that people had been coming in and buying two or three carts of fabric at a time! I can't really blame them - it was the deal of the century, especially if you are a quilter. I also overheard several women talking about how this was their second and third trip, and that the remnants were starting to get picked over. I don't know what they were talking about - there were still gems like this to be had:

I am not much of a stash person (in my mind I still live in our tiny 650 sq ft apartment in Tampa, where clutter is the enemy), so I tried to be a bit choosy, focusing on finding larger pieces of fabric and knits.

An hour or so of digging and $4.77 got me all of this!

I got knits to experiment on as I learn how to use my serger better, some fun cotton prints for project bags or whatever, some lightweight cotton for a summer scarf and a couple of things I have no immediate plans for but thought were nice. I think I'm most excited about these geometric prints that I'm going to make into a tote bag and purse:

Okay, maybe I am a bit of a stash person after all. It's a good thing Fabric World isn't right down the street, or my closets would explode, but it's definitely nice to have an inexpensive alternative to Joann's.