Saturday, September 29, 2012

Embroidery project

For my textiles class. Not sure what I'm going to do next but it's not finished.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Pavers, vol. 2

The top photo shows what we did with the first pallet of pavers; the lower photo is a second pallet + some of the leftovers from the first.

Basically, we dug a very shallow pit, leveled the bottom with a couple inches of sand, and then laid the pavers into the sand. Sprinkled "jointing sand" over the top, swept it into the cracks, misted the sand to activate the mortar and ta-da! Since we don't have a freeze-thaw thing going on here, there wasn't really a need to do a gravel base under the sand.

In regard to the picture with the fountain, "we" means "Mr. Nick"; I was out at a sewing workshop on Saturday and then volunteering on Sunday. He installed the fountain, too -- there's a switch on the covered patio that turns the pump on and off, and it's on a GFCI circuit.

Once the weather is cooler, we'll put a gas fire pit and some comfortable seating on the larger patio. It's going to be great to sit out there this fall / winter!

Friday, June 29, 2012


I found these really nifty old trading cards illustrating the "Useful Birds of America" on eBay -- they originally came in boxes of Arm and Hammer baking soda. Each has an illustration of a bird on the front (mine are all illustrations by Louis Agassiz Fuertes, who was an amazing bird artist), and then the back has a suggested use for baking soda and some facts about the bird. My favorite tip:  
CLEANING MEAT -- As soon as unwrapped, clean all meat with ARM & HAMMER or COW BRAND BAKING SODA solution (a small handful to 2 cups of water). This removes foreign matter and dried blood. Store on a clean plate in the refrigerator.
Close-ups of some of my favorites...
Check out the mayfly! A couple summers ago I saw a black phoebe catch a GIANT dragonfly and then spend about 5 minutes scraping it on the ground to get the wings off.

Nuthatches are awesome.

Basically, birds are useful on account of the bug-eating. 

"Like most of the Warbler family, it [Common Yellowthroat] performs a great service to man in the consumption of harmful insects."

"This bird [Black-capped Chickadee] is one of the greatest insect destroyers in the whole bird world."
Forgot to include this guy in my collage, which is too bad because it's really lovely -- see the tiny insect he's going after?

The lot that I bought on eBay had assorted cards from series 9 and 10, with many copies of the same card -- perfect for my project because I wanted to display both the front and back of some cards. Once I thought of using the clear ruler for rotary cutting to get them all arranged it went a lot faster :-). The cards are quite small; about 1 7/8" x 2 3/4", and each collage is about 10 x 12. 

Classy, right?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

2012 swap love embroidery
Well, last time I posted I said that there would be more potholder content coming soon ... not sure I'm actually going to be able to make the swap this year -- been having a little trouble with some numbness in my fingers and need to give things a break for a few days. But I thought I'd give you all a sneak peak of what I've been up to.

sketches of robots

kill embroiderysketches of a robot

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Weighty Matters

I think I now own twice as much stuff, pound-wise, as I did yesterday. (We had a cubic yard of sand and a pallet of concrete pavers delivered this morning.)

2600 lbs of sand + 3200 lbs of pavers = yikes!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Nigerian Red Kidney Bean Stew with Peanut Butter


This is adapted, mostly for efficiency, from Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian. If you don't have this cookbook, you should. Everything in it is delicious, and the vegetable section is invaluable for figuring out what to do with the stuff you brought home from the farmer's market.

I can make this in about 25 minutes, start to finish. We eat it with rice, and if you start the rice cooker while the veggies are sauteing they'll be ready at the same time. (Our rice cooker is teeny and adorable, maybe a larger one takes longer? You probably know how yours works.)

  • 3 cans kidney beans (I like to use 2 light and 1 dark, or vice versa, to make it prettier)
  • 2 cups water, maybe more (are you supposed to list water in a recipe's ingredients?)
  • 3 tbsp peanut or another neutral vegetable oil, like grapeseed oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 small green pepper, chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 8 oz. can of tomato sauce (1 cup of jarred sauce works okay, too, but I prefer the pureed texture of canned in this recipe)
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • a few spoonfuls of peanut butter

Saute the onion, garlic, and pepper over medium heat in a pot until the onion is translucent. Measure out the cumin and put it in a little prep bowl. Open the can of tomato sauce and measure the cayenne + lemon juice + salt into it.

Put the cumin in the pan, stir it once or twice, then add the can of tomato sauce + cayenne + lemon juice + salt. Stir that a few times, then add some water to the can and swirl it around. Stir that water + leftover tomato goodness into the pot so your tomato mixture doesn't get all crusty.

Simmer for a few minutes while you rinse the beans in a colander. Dump them in the pot with the remaining water. Add some more water if it doesn't look brothy enough, but this is stew, not soup.

Put a couple spoonfuls of peanut butter in the pot. I do this by taste, because it's a pain to measure peanut butter. Aim for "just a little bit peanut-y." Eat another spoonful of peanut butter out of the jar. Add more salt if you like.

Put the lid on the pan and simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes more while you set the table.

Note on the rice cooker: we have had perfect luck with it, although looking at the Amazon reviews some people think it bubbles over. Never happened here; but we don't fill it all the way -- 1 cup rice, 1 1/3 cup water. (That's 1 "normal" cup, not the weird little confusing cup-that's-not-a-cup that comes with the cooker, which you should ignore.)

Friday, March 2, 2012


We looked at a lot of adorable ranch houses from the 1940s through the '60s recently, and I was really struck by how fresh and modern "retro" can be.

A jaunty pair of crocheted potholders, worked square and on the bias!

Snappy! offers lots of possibilities for customization; each stripe requires only a few yards of yarn. The coordinating pair makes a great hostess present.

Any worsted weight cotton will work, although the size of the finished potholder will vary. Exact gauge is not important as long as you achieve a dense fabric. Each potholder requires 1 ball of yarn for the main color; the border takes less than half a ball.

The potholders are double layered for extra insulation.

Skills required chain; slip stitch; single crochet; simple embroidery stitch of your choice, such as chain stitch, back stitch, or cross stitch. Pattern includes instructions for working embroidered chain stitch with the crochet hook.

Pattern is written in US terms (US sc = UK dc).

Available for $3.00 on Ravelry or Craftsy.


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Super exciting: the wonderful pandorra7 and photospice from the Annual Dishcloth Swap are guest-hosting the 4th annual potholder swap.

Rav group!

Monday, February 6, 2012


I'm now selling patterns on Craftsy, where you can find me as RepublicOfYarn.

Wasabi Coleslaw

I love wasabi coleslaw! It's great for adding bite, crunch, and a veg (well, also some mayo) to a meal.

We first had wasabi coleslaw at a Korean restaurant as one of the banchan. When our waitress came by with refills we asked her what it was and she said, "Ummmmmmm...wasabi coleslaw" with "you ninnies" implied. Ha.

This is so wicked easy it barely counts as a recipe.

1 bag coleslaw mix
some mayo
some rice vinegar
wasabi powder

Stir together a spoonful of wasabi powder and a couple spoonfuls of water. You want to make a slurry, not a paste like you would for sushi.

Put the coleslaw mix into a large wide bowl. Add a few blops of mayo (maybe half a cup) and a couple splashes of rice vinegar (maybe a quarter cup) and mix thoroughly with a fork. Add the wasabi slurry and mix some more. At this point I just start tasting and add more of whatever it needs. I like it best with enough mayo and vinegar to moisten the cabbage shreds but not so much that they stick together. Let it sit in the fridge for at least half an hour before serving.

That's it!