Sunday, August 08, 2010

Things have been busy here - as they often are during the summer for many of us. One thing I've done this summer is make a big turkey dinner. Every year in November, we buy two turkeys; one for the freezer and one to cook for Thanksgiving. Finally, I got tired of having my freezer half full of turkey!

Dinner was delicious, and now we have enough turkey to last for weeks. Yum.

I'm most pleased, though, by making the stock, as it's something I've wanted to do for ages, but my ex didn't like the idea of. I simmered the turkey carcass with onions, garlic, celery and carrots. The broth is tasty, light and I can't wait to cook with it. What I've done, though is put it into the freezer, so that it lasts.

I love these square ice cube makers. Once the stock is frozen into cubes, I'll put them into a bag and then I can just toss a couple cubes into whatever needs stock!


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Quilt tops and circles

I was in my sewing chaos, sewing a quilt block for the first person in the online Quilting Bee I joined, when I realized I'd need some scraps of my own. Once I started poking around in my scrap bag, I found that I'd stuffed several unfinished quilt tops and a few unfinished other sewing projects in there as well.

The pastel one I show above is, well, not my style at all. I don't do pastels - they seem colorless to me. I'm much more into the brights.

These are more my style, but they're both unfinished. Well, the second one is closer. I could, at this point, slap some edging on it, back it and quilt it. It's a bit small, but it could be a cute baby sized quilt. I don't know any babies right now who need a bright quilt.

Now that I think about it, though, I do have a friend who's going to have a baby girl soon. I am planning on making the baby a pretty pinks and browns quilt - maybe her older sister would like this quilt if I made it a bit bigger. (I would have the added benefit of having finished another old project!)

I'm working on eating better and exercising more. I've been trying to lose weight for quite a while now and haven't gotten anywhere. Now I've signed up for a government website to track my daily exercise. Since it's public, I have to do the cycling every day or it shows! I did six miles at a hard push today and I'm hoping to get 12 in tomorrow.

Anyway, this breakfast is grits with some peach and a little butter and milk. Yes, those aren't low fat, but I'm counting calories rather than obsessing over every fat/sugar/carb I eat. It lets me eat a wider range of foods without having to feel deprived. I just eat less OF the higher calorie foods.

I've also been embroidering - I worked on this while in New Hampshire. I don't think I'll sell the pattern for this; it was just to be some fun with different stitches. I'd like to do something with it, though. What if I framed this and then did other geometric shapes - so one all squares, and one hexagons?

Anyway, it's late, so I'm for bed. G'night.


Saturday, July 10, 2010

Hello, my name is SongBird and I'm an Addict...

I can't throw out craft supplies.

*sigh* Unfortunately, saying it out loud doesn't make it easier to get rid of the stuff.

I find that I'm always surrounded by clutter and chaos. Sometimes this is good - I am always interested in the juxtapositions I find; often I get new ideas from these accidental mixtures.

Unfortunately, the clutter has now taken over and, well, if there's no space in the craft room to actually create, then I have to admit I Have A Problem.

I'm not willing to show you a picture of the disaster that my craft room has become, so I'll just show you pictures of a cute little kit-in-a-tin that I bought in Newburyport, MA. I started on it yesterday at a coffee shop with my friend Kam. It was pretty damned nifty to have a craft in my purse!

It's a bit small (the final product is tiny!), but the image you're supposed to cross stitch is a pair of seahorses.

Here's everything in the kit. It's really well stocked - I'm very pleased.

This is, clearly, not the kit. I saw this man's yoke when we were watching something or another - do you think this is factory made this way, or is this some sewist's hard work? I kind of like the idea that someone put this together and is proud of the unusual look.

Anyway, I'm going to go see about filling two boxes of stuff to donate. *sigh*


Monday, July 05, 2010

Bloggy and personal thoughts

So, I've been on vacation for three whole weeks. It feels sort of like forever, really. I spent some of my time thinking about this blog and where I want it to go.

I want to use this to show my creative work, but at the same time, I know that there are so many other blogs out there with the same goal, the same crafts, the same point. Why should I add one more to the mix? Why should I clutter the "blogosphere" (I hate that word, really. *sigh*) with yet more shouting about me me me?

I haven't come to any final decisions, but I've come to a few realizations. One of them is that there are parts of me, facets which are important, but about which I don't talk. Some of this reticence is that I live in a country which is increasingly at odds with a large part of my self-identification, and one that reacts very strongly (and often very negatively) to this identity.

I'm an atheist. I ... just don't believe in gods, of any sort. I was raised this way; this is as much my family tradition as anyone raised in any religion out there. I've thought about it, as an adult, but I just don't understand any other point of view.

This is not to say that I think everyone should do it My Way - I am happy for people to believe whatever they want to believe as long as no one gets hurt in the process. I honestly have many very good friends who are deeply religious, in more than one faith.

However, I find myself unwilling to mention my lack of belief. I've done it once or twice and had universally bad experiences. Some have been more amusing than others, I'll admit.

Once, in a class, religious affiliation came up and I said that I am an athiest. After explaining that this means I don't believe in god and answering several questions, I sat whilst most of the class stared at me, their faces showing varying degrees of confusion or dismay. Finally, one man said, in tones of deep consternation, "But you believe in Jesus Christ, right?"

When I said that I didn't, in fact, believe in Jesus Christ, he insisted that I must believe in god, though, right? I ... sort of didn't know what to say. For this man, there was no way to comprehend lack-of-faith.

One thing that confuses me about this - the reactions to my atheism - is that people often get offended by my atheism, but expect me to not be offended at their theism. Shouldn't it go both ways? Shouldn't they be as accepting of my way of thinking as they want me to be of theirs? It's as if my lack of faith is a personal attack on them, and that bothers me. Another thing that bugs me about this is that I feel social pressure to keep quiet, so I don't offend people; it seems to me that atheism is stigmatised and thought of as a dirty secret.

I'm not going to write much about this - I'm not interested in blogging about atheism. Or theism, really. Just, recently I've been reading more craft blogs and it seems that many of them are equally about their religious beliefs as they are about their crafting activities.

Part of why I don't talk about this much is that it's ... not a part of my life in the way that religious observation is a part of the lives of those who are practicing theists. I don't spend time thinking about my faith or connection to immanence, nor do I spend time in religious buildings, working on religious organizations or teaching in religious groups. The time that theists spend on that, I'm spending on other things, activities which I do discuss, think about, plan for and create during.

Anyway, I'm not sure exactly what I'm going to do with this blog. I know that I'll still make things every single day, I know that I'll continue to find new things to make and new creative activities to try...

I'd like to post more often, and to post more pictures of my ongoing projects, so I think that's what I'll concentrate on for now.

In other news, I've started a companion blog to this one: SongBird in Flight. It's got my trip notes (but no pictures, because I started it during the trip and haven't put any pictures in yet!) and I'll be keeping up with my personal life there, I think.

Now, it's time to figure out what we need, grocery-wise, then go out and get foods for meals for the next few days.


Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Quick and easy dinner: Carbonara

So, we're going on a long vacation (I'll be posting during the trip, but mostly pretty pictures of the American East Coast) in a couple of days. I'm trying to clean out the fridge by either using everything in a meal or by freezing things which will freeze.

We had a bunch of bacon to use and my daughter's favorite meal uses bacon, so tonight's dinner was Carbonara. It's quick, easy, and very filling. It's not the healthiest meal, though.

You'll need bacon, eggs, milk, parmesan, pasta and an appetite.

First, cut meaty bacon into small strips - I cut off all the fat I can. Start water boiling for pasta at the same time. You'll need it ready to go once the bacon and eggs and cheese are mixed together.

Then take several eggs (I had 5 left, so I used them all). Beat them, then add milk. You're basically making scrambled eggs, so use whatever are your preferred proportions for that.

Mix in some grated parmesan - I like the good stuff, and I use a wide blade micro-plane grater.

(I think the cheese looks pretty, so I took another picture.)

Add the bacon to the eggs/milk/cheese.

Drain the pasta, then put it into the pan you cooked the bacon in.

Mix in the eggs and bacon mixture.

Cook everything together, over low heat, until the eggs turn creamy and coat the pasta.

Serve it up and enjoy! Mmmm, delicious.

I still have an awful lot to get done - I haven't finished the lace shawl I'm making as a gift for the friends we're staying with. I want to finish it by tomorrow, so I'll be staying up late tonight knitting. Hmmm, brainless TV, here I come.


Friday, June 04, 2010

Etsy Success!!!

After endless dithering and worrying (What if no one likes them? What if I put them in the wrong place? What if I can't write?), I've put my first set of embroidery patterns up on Etsy!

Go check it out: SongBirdGifts

I'm sorry to post something so self-serving, but this has been making me anxious for so long and it turned out to be really easy! Now to hurry up and make more.

I already have several other patterns I can finish - I have mermaids, pretty swirls, some round cats...


And, so this isn't a text only post:

This is my old bike. I can't find a lot of information about these bikes online, but I know that I want to restore this. He has *headlights*!!

This is one of the local cacti - when I was growing up, my mom grew succulents. At the time, I thought they were silly and ugly, but now I want to have tons of them myself. I love the funny shapes and hidden curls they have.


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Surprise: Wedding!

No, not mine. (I'm not married, but that's not the point.)

(I want to buy more of this fabric! Isn't it pretty?)

Two friends of mine, people I helped get together in the first place, are getting hitched on Sunday. They've been very lax about telling people - the woman who's the Best Man... just found out on Tuesday.

Anyway, I'm making them a quilt - in a hurry! I've decided to use one of the packets of pre-cut 10" squares I bought whilst on vacation in New Hampshire with some fabric I have in stash to make a half-square triangle quilt. I'm adding sashing, even though I don't want to, so it's a good, lap sized quilt without using the same fabrics twice in the triangles.

I liked these blues when I saw them in the store - it was a pack of 20 10" squares for $10!

I stacked the squares up, then marked down the center from corner to corner. What you're supposed to do next is sew 1/4" inch away from the marked line on both sides of it. What I inevitably do, every single time I do this is:

*facepalm* So, I unpicked that and found that whilst I'd been concentrating, someone had arrived to help.

I guess she was worried that my blocks might get cold. Or something.

I'm easy to entertain - I get a kick (every time) out of chain piecing into a circle.

Anyway, the blocks are all sewn and cut (and I really need to work on making my 1/4" seams a full quarter inch. I'm bad about that.) I did end up going to the local fabric store (on my bike!) and getting a dark leavy blue for the sashing and two prints that will amuse my friends (coffee beans and kitty foot prints) for the back.

I was very pleased that I managed to cycle home with the batting. It's six yards of 5oz polybatting.

Today I want to finish the top and see if I can get the quilting started. It's not even 9am. Surely I can get lots done today, right?


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Working steadily

I've been doing lots of work, but not enough housework. (I can say that the dishwasher's missing a piece, which is true, but it's not a valid excuse as I know perfectly well how to wash dishes by hand.) There's soo much laundry to fold!

I have been working, slowly, on making nicer things for us to use in the house - napkins and placemats and coasters. I've only made the two but I finally have cork and cardboard to back them.

However, I finally have my first embroidery pattern set ready to go into my shop!! I'm so excited!

It's four cute little voodoo baby dolls, each sized perfectly to fit into a 4" hoop or to use as the center patch in a pillow. I really enjoyed every part of the process.

I have a couple of other sets of embroidery patterns in the works - the hardest part of this for me is writing them up afterwards.


Something I'm trying to do is bring ATC cards with me so that whenever I have a free minute, I can doodle. This sometimes ends up like this:

I'm not sure if it worked. What do you think?


Monday, May 10, 2010

We had a nice, quiet weekend. Saturday Geordie had to go in to work, so I dragged my daughter out with me. We stopped off at a thrift store, then an art supply store (as opposed to a craft store - there's an interesting difference in what each one carries), and finally, a book store.

I got several nice tee shirts, two sweaters (a stripy angora one I'm wearing now and a pale blue cashmere one. Neither was over two bucks!) and a long black trench coat that fits me. This is amazing because I'm shorter than five feet tall. Really.

I also got some embroidery done, and I finished drawing two more pieces of art for embroidery patterns. Next up on the learning curve is figuring out how to make the patterns into PDF documents, so I can put them up in etsy.

On Sunday we spent several hours at a friends' house, where I ... sewed a giant curtain for her. The original plan had been for me to help her sew the curtains, but when I realized just how much she didn't know, I took over. It did make me realize how experienced I am in this area.

I ended up not having time (or a sewing needle) to sew the pleats into place, but at least there's something up in the window for now.

The tree up at the top is near the yarn store I teach in twice a week. A couple of years ago, when I still just had a terrible crush on Geordie, rather than getting to actually be his partner, I spent a happy couple of hours parked under that tree, chatting to him on the phone before going in to teach. I still get a little rush of joy when I see that it's flowering.

Aren't they pretty?

He's suggested putting rooting compound on the branch I cut off, so I can have one of the trees for my very own. I like that idea a lot!

What do you think?


Thursday, May 06, 2010


So, we went on a week long trip to New Hampshire at the beginning of April. I took lots of pictures, as I tend to do. I like the idea of scrapbooking, I always enjoy seeing other people's pages and art, I have lots of supplies for it (and for making cards and books and ...) but, somehow, I never get around to doing it myself.

I decided that I'm going to do it for this past trip, so I pulled out some 6x6 cardstock and printed out a bunch of pictures. Each page takes a while to do, and they're very much not finished (and I want to make more pages with other pictures from the trip), but mostly, I'm feeling frustrated. The pages don't look as good to me as the ones I see from other people. I don't know if it's because they're mine, so I'm more judgemental, or if it's just that they're not finished yet (and it shows)...

Also, I'm really not sure that this is my 'craft'. Merrie won't look at the book, when it's done, and Geordie hates to see pictures of himself, so he won't look either. That sort of means that there's no one to show the book to - other than here, online.

What do you think? Are they okay? What do they need? (Besides journalling - I haven't written the journalling yet.)


Tuesday, May 04, 2010

The View from My Bike

 Really, this is one of the strongest reasons for me to keep cycling.  I love being out there, with the wind on my face and this to look at.


Friday, April 30, 2010

I've been doing a lot, and even taking pictures, but not posting about them.

Wearing daisies always makes everything better.

Many of the things I've been up to are small, and somehow it seems pointless to post just to say that yes, I've put off the laundry again, and I've finished one small bit of embroidery, and the teenager is being, well, a teenager (and therefor annoying), and in other (non) news, I've been cycling several times a week and not lost any weight.

Which sucks.

My daughter, who's 17 and variously stroppy in random ways and at random times, has mastered the art of the Passive Aggressive Note:

I think I should be proud of her. What do you think?

I've been practicing with my spinning wheel -

I also finished a handmade book with felted cover for a friend in Australia! I enjoyed the sewing, and now I want to make one for myself.

I also made her a scalloped garland - I do hope she likes the bright colors. I know I do - I'm certainly making several more for myself.

My backyard has started to produce pretty things! I planted the bulbs for these a couple of months ago. I also have an amaryllis, and some daffodils.

One of my pairs of jeans got a hole in the knee, so I made some cute half-inch hexes and put them on. I thought they needed something to balance them out, so I put two on the other side, up near the pocket.

So, since I'm hungry and I haven't eaten much today, I'm going to go see if I can find my kitchen. I'm sure it's where the dishes are - maybe I'll even get some of them washed. The question is, will I get them washed and then forget to eat again? I'll leave you to ponder that and gaze at the pretty, springlike daisies I've found everywhere.