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Tha Zippah June 12, 2009

Posted by jeninmaine in bebeh, kidlet, photography.
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I don’t know why but I love taking pictures at carnivals and amusement parks. The tackier, the better. There’s something about having people all around you and the very unique cross-section of society they represent, about the lights and the machinery, the cords running across the ground. The fact that they can set up a facade of a dreamland in a tiny parking lot and then get people to walk round and round in continuous circuits to see everything. It’s seedy and fake and desperate, but at the same time we’re drawn to its twinkle and sparkle even though we know how fake it is.

Well anyway. I edited a bunch of photos from our visit but I need to add tags and captions in Flickr, and I need to write a intelligible entry about it all but it’s too late and I’m too tired so it’ll have to wait.





Kitschy, kitcschy, kitchen. June 1, 2009

Posted by jeninmaine in renovations, sewing.
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I’ve been looking at my teensy kitchen forever and wanting to do something, anything to it.  It’s just anything we do will cause a huge amount of upheaval that I haven’t been ready to deal with.  I was thinking, however, of at least replacing the curtains.  I made window curtains a few years ago that I like, but the tiebacks are getting faded from the sun and they’re not exactly what I want and I never finished that set for the door to the extension so I’ve been wanting a change, just not sure what kind of change.

Then I found this Michael Miller fabric and fell head over heels in love with it:

It’s called “Fifties Kitchen”, quite appropriately, and oh my, it is exactly my kind of thing.  Maybe it’s because I have a red KitchenAid mixer, I don’t know, maybe it’s the red clock I thought I was going to hang in my craft room, maybe it’s just that shiny red things and mellow green things are oh so exciting to me, but I got very excited just seeing it.  “Those are my curtains,” I thought to myself.

Then I got to thinking about the project I’ve always wanted to do, which is remove all the upper cabinet doors and paint the inside a color and paint the outside white (thank you, Martha).  I realized that using that green would be *perfect* for such a task, and then I just started thinking and thinking and wheeee!

So here’s the plan – Michael is building a few more shelves into our pantry, then he’s going to take down the cabinet doors and we’ll fill the nail holes.  The outside of all the cabinets will be painted white, and the insides will all be painted green, and we’ll do a similar thing in the pantry.  The cabinet doors left on the bottom cabinets will also be painted green and I’ll probably try to find some different inexpensive hardware.  We’ll peel the wallpaper and paint the walls either white or the same green as the inside of the cabinets.  I’ll hang my red clock in the kitchen, the mixer is already prominently displayed on the counter, and I’m currently stalking red rotary dial wall phones on the off chance I find one in good working condition.  I’m hoping I can score one on eBay or, better, at a yard sale around here.  We had that exact same phone when I was growing up in baby blue.  I loved that thing.

And of course, the curtains!  I poked around online and decided to make cafe curtains with a valance because they’ll be super easy to make and I have everything already except the spring rod, which I can pick up pretty cheap.

On Saturday we were at Lowe’s (I had coupons of course :) and I brought the fabric so I could get paint to match the green and ended up with a hue named Hearty Hosta – while I don’t like hostas I will make an exception in this case.  I got one can of that and one can of brilliant white, both in semi-gloss.  So now I have the fabric and I have the paint.

Not to mention I have this cast iron trivet that was my grandmother’s that reads, “The hurrier I go the behinder I get” – anyone from the Northeast would probably recognize one of these things in an instant, they were really popular in the 60s and 70s.  Everyone had one hanging on the wall with some witty saying about a woman’s work or a man’s uselessness.

This is a pretty big undertaking for we with children and doing it ourselves, so I think I’m going to focus on just getting that much done initially.  Once this is said and done I really want to look at getting the awful countertop replaced, a new not-fugly ceiling light fixture and maybe doing some tiling.  I don’t know, it’s all up in the air right now but I figure one thing at a time.  If we can manage a half-decent kitchen refresh for under $500 I’ll be mighty pleased with myself.

To make sure I had enough fabric I bought five yards, and soon realized that five yards is a LOT.  I’m going to have tons left over to make all sorts of things – an apron, potholders, placemats, a mixer cozy, maybe?  I’ve been getting a lot of inspiration from a great website called retro renovation, whose tagline is “Love the house you’re in.”  It seriously makes me miss that apartment I had with avocado bathroom fixtures.

Yarn and green stuff May 30, 2009

Posted by jeninmaine in Crafty, dyeing, food, kidlet.

I pulled some photos off of my camera so here you go.

First, we did some major cleaning up last weekend and as a result I was able to do some dyeing again. It was nice to have my space back, things tend to migrate out to the extension and build up, mostly recycling stuff and kid clothes that need to be put into storage, things like that. Every few weeks we go through and clean everything out. Here’s my dyeing table, it’s nothing fancy but it does the job. I love my ghetto $4 GeeDub crock pots.

Dye table

I mentioned winding a huge skein for self-striping sock yarn. Here’s the setup, what I like to call The Definition of Torture. Ugh, SO not worth it, especially when I realized that after dyeing I need to rewind everything all over again so it’s in a usable size skein. And this is two skeins worth, so it needs to be split. Blarrgh.

Yeah, so not worth the effort.

I mentioned kidlet made clown barf, and I wasn’t kidding. I do have pictures of the yarn rinsed and dried and it’s not quite this saturated, I’ll post them when I’ve got them.

Kidlet's clown barf

The only other mildly exciting thing is that I read an entry by one of my favorites who was expressing her love for green smoothies. Being curious I read up on them and they really resonate with me, check out GreenSmoothieGirl.com for details.

Michael and I have already discussed multiple times the idea of moving to more of a whole foods diet and even more of a raw foods diet. Being diabetic he would benefit from it and being overweight it can only help me, and anything that is good for the kids is something I’m interested in. Having so little time and brainpower to get organized has been a challenge, however. I read the website and decided that I wanted to try this for myself – I figure if I can drink one green smoothie a day to start, just to get the hang of it, I can decide if I want to go further than that. I don’t have an industrial strength blender but the one I have works okay, I just have to add the initial greens little by little until it gets enough in there to keep things going.

Yesterday (Friday) I made my first smoothies – I went to the farm stand in the morning where I picked up an obscene amount of green thingies – spinach, red and green swiss chard, endive, parsley, lettuce (for salad), and then a good assortment of other things including bananas, apples, tomatoes, strawberries, raspberries, nectarines, a coconut, two dozen eggs, cheese curd, dates, carrots, potatoes…I actually had to use a cart instead of a handbasket and even with overfilling a banana box and having a bag to carry in addition to that I only spent $50. It was only that high because of the more expensive items like the coconut and the cheese. I love our farm stand – our usual purchase is 3-4 bunches of organic bananas, a bag of apples, 1-2 dozen eggs, 1-2# baby carrots, tomatoes, an onion or two, lettuce, celery, and sometimes pears for under $20. I feel very lucky to live in an agricultural state.

Anyway. I brought my huge bounty home and decided to mix up something simple so I used spinach, green swiss chard, parsley, strawberries, banana, and a few dates for sweetness. It was really tasty and I felt very full afterward. Best of all I ate more spinach in that one smoothie than I’ve probably eaten all month. It’s amazing how a huge handful of greens becomes a very small and compact volume of smoothie. What a great way to get our fresh veggies! I hate salad dressing and I hate eating salad so this is perfect. I made a glass for Michael and asked him to try it – I think he tolerated it, so I’m going to keep making them and offering them to him.

When kidlet got home from school I asked him if he wanted me to make him a smoothie – I’ve made fruit smoothies for him before, usually from frozen fruit and yogurt. He loves them. So I made him one with lots of fresh strawberries, a banana, a couple of leaves of green swiss chard, a small handful of spinach and a couple of ice cubes. I tasted it and it had a very slight green flavor to it (kidlet doesn’t like “green stuff” in his food like herbs) so I added a small amount of maple syrup to it and he LOVED it. He drank the whole cup I gave to him and the rest that was in the blender. I didn’t tell him that he just had a serving of swiss chard and another of spinach. That’s my little secret. It was kind of a reddish-brown so to hide that fact I put it in a kid’s cup – we have about a million of them from when we go out to eat – and put a color-changing straw in the top that was blue and turned purple when cold. He couldn’t tell what color it was so he didn’t have the opportunity to be weirded out by it.

It really was quite easy, so I’m going to go ahead and keep doing this “one a day” method for a week, maybe two, then work my way up to doing more. I’m really glad to have found this because I was sprouting a few months ago and enjoyed doing that a lot, only I couldn’t figure out what to do with all those sprouts! I just have a cheapie jar with a screen top and it made more sprouts than I could choke down. Now I can use them in smoothies! Yay! To celebrate I dusted off my old jar and set it up with broccoli seeds tonight. Kidlet and I are doing it together as a project, I’m going to take pictures every day and then print them out so kidlet can make a little folder or something with them in it.

Here it is, sprouting, day 1:

Sprouting, Day 1

It might not look like much but trust me, within a week that jar will be filled to bursting. I did this with alfalfa seeds a few times and the volume of sprouts that came from 1-1/2 tablespoons of seed was incredible, the jar was packed tight.

Just trying to find ways in my everyday to get moving, to eat better, to make changes. Little by little.

So many projects, so little time. May 25, 2009

Posted by jeninmaine in Crafty, dyeing, kidlet.
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I’ve been doing some thingies over the weekend – haven’t had a chance to sit down and do any sewing, sadly, as it takes too much prep and too much awakeness that I haven’t had. I have picked away at dyeing a bunch of stuff and I made a ton more buttons and thumbtacks as I can cut out little circles all at once and cover buttons all at once and glue them together all at once so it goes in stages. I really want to make a bunch of pincushions, I found the one I had made here after getting home from Montana last Autumn and squee, so cute, only it would go a lot faster if I sewed the pieces together using my machine, which I haven’t done yet.

I also decided to try my hand at self-striping sock yarn. It’s an easy enough concept, there are a billion tutorials online about it, so I grabbed a big hank of Treadsoft and put two 6′ tables together end to end. I figured I could put the hank on my umbrella swift and walk back and forth, wrapping it over each end. The thing I didn’t think through is that over 900 yards of yarn really goes a long way and it’s very tedious to walk to and fro, not to mention my umbrella swift is one of those wooden jobbies so while it doesn’t seem all that heavy to pick up, holding it out at just the right angle so I didn’t get the yarn snagged on it while walking was exhausting. Both of my arms are sore in strange ways.

Anyway it took me about 20 minutes to make one uber-skein and then I dyed it in blue-green and what I thought would be a blue-purple but ended up just purple. I can’t wait to get some new dyes, the ones I have are what I bought initially and are a pretty limited set of colors. Sure, I can mix stuff but it would be a lot nicer if I had the hue I wanted at the start. The blue-green ended up really pretty, though, and gave me some ideas for a technique using this colorway. Which means I’m wrapping another giant skein right now, I’m just taking a break to write this :)

I dyed up the rest of the merino seacell I had on hand, I love that stuff. I’m going to see if I can buy it in bulk from Melodi if she can offer me a good discount, otherwise I’m going to try and find a supplier where I can buy it wholesale since I have my EIN. I also dyed eight ounces of a merino, alpaca and tussah silk blend which, when I bought it many years ago, I thought was pretty awesome and a bargain at $18.50 (umm…yeah). It’s surprising to me just how much I’ve learned about fiber in the time I’ve been working with it. I definitely know what is better quality and what is not these days and almost all the stuff I bought the first year I went to the Fiber Frolic was crap. This blend seemed soft and nice enough, but once it got wet it is literally bristling with guard hairs, some of those suckers are four inches long! I don’t see how I’ll be able to get them all out so I’m hoping maybe I’ll come up with some brilliant idea for it because I’m not really keen on selling it as-is.

I let kidlet dye some clown barf yarn from Easter egg dye I had bought on clearance a few weeks ago. I discovered that you really need to let those little tablets dissolve completely before adding the vinegar or else they erupt and make a huge mess. I also discovered that food-safe dye stains everything, and I mean everything. At least the acid dyes I use don’t do too much staining if you clean them up quickly enough, but the Easter egg dyes are epic. They stained my stainless steel sink. I filled up some squirt bottles and let him go to town on a couple of skeins of Knit Picks and tossed them in the oven to heat set the dye. They’re really…um…colorful. Heh.

Sewing and buttons and stuff. May 20, 2009

Posted by jeninmaine in bebeh, Crafty, Etsy, sewing.
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Danger, Will Robinson, danger! The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is a very fun game. Very fun. I love it long time. I stayed up a bit too late playing it the other night and will need to put myself on a very strict LoZ diet so I don’t overdo it. It’s funny – I don’t play a lot of video games any more, and it’s not because I don’t like them. It’s because I do like them, and I like them so much that I will play in completely irresponsible quantities.

I’ve been naughty – I’ve wanted to do creative things at night once the kids are in bed and decided to play LoZ “just for a few minutes”, which quickly turns into an hour or more. Need to focus. Game is fun but time is fleeting.

I did buy the buttons for Mim’s jumper, I just need an evening where I’m not playing video games when I have the time to get the sewing machine set up to make buttonholes. I figure I’m going to do my sewing all at once so I went ahead and cut out another jumper from this gorgeous batik from the LYS/LQS.

Another jumper

Oh, I love it so much. I’m going to use the same green batik for the inside yoke as I did for the first one.

Ack, my tablecloth is horrible. Oh well…what do you want for $2 at Goodwill?

Since I’m sewing again I once again have lots of scraps. I hate throwing anything away so I try to come up with ways to use as much as I possibly can. Buried in my sewing stuff I unearthed a drawer of button-making stuff, hooray! So I did that.

First, some buttons – the trees are 1″ and the batik are 5/8″ and 1/2″.



I also used some of the 1/2″ buttons with flat backs to make pretty thumbtacks.


I used Gorilla Glue for this batch – normally I use E6000 or Bond 527 but they both have pretty strong fumes so I thought I might try something new.


The bottle said, “Will expand.” I thought to myself, “That’s probably just for fabric or wood.”


I am loving the fabric covered whatnots, it would be a great way to recycle old clothing, too. I’m always looking for ways to reuse stuff. I’ve started reusing my paper coffee filters – I have a #2 cone filter and it seemed stupid (and expensive) to throw out the unbleached paper filters that I use in it after every cup, so I started just rinsing them out after each use and using the same one throughout the day. I haven’t tried letting it dry out and using it the next day, maybe I’ll do that today. In any case I won’t have to buy filters as often.

Two great website links for today!

<a href=”https://www.jcarolinecreative.com/&#8221; target=”_blank”>j.caroline creative</a> – just go look.  It has the covered button stuff and so, so much more.  Love this site.

<a href=”http://www.trueup.net/&#8221; target=”_blank”>True Up</a> – everything about fabric, LOVE this blog.  Also has a great <a href=”http://www.trueup.net/?cat=143&#8243; target=”_blank”>sale alert section</a>.