Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Triple-S food project #1

Trivets made, sent, and waiting to be received!  Next project: SPRING CLEANING!

I don't know about everyone else, but in my cupboards/fridge/freezer/random places around the kitchen, there are foods that I have hoarded, but NEVER use.  For example: jello, tuna, dried cannelloni, salt cod, and dried beans, just to name a few. You know what I'm talking about...the foods that you shove aside to get to the Israeli couscous, the pint of Ben and Jerry's, the canned corn (is this strange?  I love canned corn. Don't tell me if it's strange. I'm not going to change.).

Anyways, I propose that we do a group kitchen spring clean and get rid of these long forgotten goodies. Since I suspect that spring will hit in full force in a couple of weeks, let's try and get some pictures and recipes of spring-cleaned food on here. I'm going to set myself a goal of 2 of these foods out of my life in the next week, and I challenge everyone to do the same!

Happy Spring cleaning!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


I finished my t-shirt quilt this past weekend and am very happy with the results. It is almost square and super cozy! It's going to be a perfect couch potato blanket. 
it's a good thing Derek is tall enough to hold this up!
front and back
me being cozy with my blanket

The back is black, grey and blue fleece squares in a totally random pattern. In retrospect this is the one thing I wish I would have thought through more, but instead of making a plan, I just paired the heavier weight fleece (grey & black) with the thinner t-shirts. So, it is totally random on the back and not as balanced with the colours as I would have liked. Oh well, at least I finished something...only a decade of procrastination. Actually, if you look closely, the oldest t-shirt is from 1971. It was my Mom's and I used to wear it as a teenager. Talk about a blast from the past!

Wanna Be A Cowboy?

A close friend of mine is having a baby this summer. I wasn't planning on making something for them, but I came across this fabric. Let me give you a bit of background on Brian, so the baby fabric will make more sense.

Brian is a cowboy. A bona fide cowboy. Of course, he meets a sweet-as-can-be southern girl whose family raises horses. The rest of their story is history.

They're expecting a little girl sometime in June, but they aren't an over-the-top pink kind of couple. What I need is help picking the binding and backing for the baby quilt I am making them.

The quilt will be a tumbler quilt similar to this quilt.

The fabric I have picked is Samantha Walker for Riley Blake Designs' Wanna Be A Cowboy 2.
 I will use all of the fabrics shown above for the quilt top. What I am having trouble with is which two fabrics to pull for the binding and backing.

If I were to choose, I would choose this one as the backing:

And this one as the binding:

But, now I am second guessing myself. Should I choose one of the more kitschy designs for either the backing or binding (I guess the binding I chose is kind of kitschy)? Or should I add a bit more pink?

Any suggestions will be helpful. To see the whole palette, click HERE.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The way I shop

Most (normal) people create an outfit in an organized, practical way. First, the dress/skirt/what-have-you is purchased, followed by a pairing of the outfit to accessories, usually already owned by the purchaser. Of course it is often necessary to actually buy a brand new necklace or pair of shoes to match said new outfit, but many times these are afterthoughts.

I tend to do things backwards—I buy the accessories for a not-yet-realized outfit first—which always makes for an interesting experience, especially for my wallet. Here is my latest blow to the budget:

It all started one wintery day at the Silver Creek Cabin knitting store, as I came across a gorgeous pattern for a non-functional piece of clothing. It’s called “Vision” in the magazine and I tend to revert to calling it a “shawl”, although that’s not really what it is. I simply had to make it, so I dug deep into my non-existent pile of cash to buy the yarn listed in the pattern, which also happens to be the most expensive yarn I’ve yet purchased—a blend of mohair and silk. I plugged my ears when the total cost was announced, handing over my credit card while my mind scrambled to get to my financial happy place.

I won’t go into the details of knitting this yarn up, other than to say it was basically like knitting with thread. The finished product took about 35-40 hours to make, but I was thrilled with the final result. This was my first time tackling lacework and I have to say I am quite pleased.

After I completed this beautiful “Vision”, I realized I had nothing suitable with which to wear it.

(This is me deciding that sweats just don't do Vision justice)

The model in the sample photo paired it with a plain, flowy white dress, so I decided I would follow suit. Unfortunately, I soon remembered the perils of trying to find a dress that exists in one’s mind, but perhaps not in reality. So…I decided to make one! Joann Fabrics sucked me in with their display dress, although I wasn’t a huge fan of the single color in a knit fabric.

I chose a creamy knit for the top and a brown pin-stripe linen for the skirt. I figured this would eventually be more practical than my original all-white idea.


(please ignore the wrinkles!)

Okay, so I technically only completed about 10% of this dress myself (namely the skirt and pockets); my wonderful mother did the rest. But it was a good team effort. Maybe I’ll branch out on my own next time.

The icing on the cake was purchased in Georgia while visiting my sister during the Cherry Blossom Festival in mid-March. I found a great vintage-style ring at an antique store and some fabulous purple shoes at a cute boutique. (Note: the shoes are actually a bit dark for the dress, but I couldn’t pass them up!)

I don’t recommend this method of creating an outfit as the most efficient way to get from point A to point B, but if you have the time and the “vision” (haha, couldn’t resist!) it sure is fun!

The one perk...

...when writing a paper:

Eva Sweet waffle with rosemary whipped cream and a large mug of Clover-made Transcend coffee. Ohhhhhh yeah.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Sneak peak..

Just a little photo for a beautiful, snowy Wednesday morning.

Jill and I just finished a pottery class, it was fantastically fun and a good outlet for creativity. Most of my finished products were um...made with love. Really lopsided love. BUT these plates turned out super fantastically (mostly because I didn't make them on the wheel...). The instructor was really amazing; she reminded me so much of Joe's mom that most of the time I expected her regale me with stories of her family or to tell me to start using olive oil as soap. She will be teaching again in Fall and I probably will sign up again...all are welcome!

Also included in this post picture: A small clue about my trivets!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Trivet Excitement

I have been so focused and excited about making and GIVING trivets, that I had forgotten that I will also be GETTING trivets! This just occured to me, blame my thesis brain. I am a big fan of the sewing exchange. A note of warning though, just like I always break the potluck faux pas and try out new recipes at parties, I am also trying out some new things with my trivets. Maybe the karma coming from craft month will lend itself to my experiment.... if not, at least any errors will get covered by hot pots and pans!

March is craft month - that's right. Craft month

I came upon this little gem today. Clearly my brain has already checked out for the weekend (it's been an intense stats-filled week), as I came across the fact that somewhere, somebody decided to call March craft month. I thought I should share.

Now, if only 2011 was also the year of the mountain...then March 2011 would be a doozie good month for me. I guess it's the international year of the forest - I kinda dig those...


A Biologist's St. Patrick's Day Song

I totally just stole this from made my morning.

A little science for science sews and sautes!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

T-shirt quilt

I am quite proud of myself for finally starting this project, which has been in the back of my mind for at least a decade, but I would like some opinions/advice before I start sewing it together. I have taken all my old sports t-shirts that I have packed around with me through countless moves and cut out the logos/emblems into 14" X 14" squares. The plan is to make them into a rag quilt with fleece backing, like this....
I am not planning on putting any quilt batting in the middle, as I don't want a really thick quilt. The things that I am mulling over now and would like some feedback on are:

1. Should I put some interfacing on the backs of the really thin t-shirt squares? Will this make them hold up better in the long run?

2. All the online instructions I've read say to just sew the squares together, but I am thinking I should sew an X over each t-shirt/fleece square first to keep them together better and to stop them from stretching differently when sewing. Thoughts?

3. I'm not 100% sure about the layout of the squares. Any re-arranging suggestions? (imagine it right-side up and also ignore the cat...he thought laying out the squares was a very fun game)
So, any feedback would be appreciated, especially if any of you have made one of these before. Thanks!

Some pretty things

I couldn't really find a better way to make an inspiration board for my swap partner (we should come up with a better term for that...), so I threw one together in Keynote (Mac's powerpoint) and then inserted it here! I still can't figure out how to get good pictures on here, so you'll have to click on the montage to get a better quality view.

I had no idea I liked pastels so much - let me assure whoever is making my trivets that I enjoy pretty much everything, and all this stuff were just things that happened to catch my eye today on Reader! I basically like pretty things. And funky things. And wonky things.

Just to note: I LOVE those bird measuring spoons up top there, I have been coveting them for a couple of years. Please feel free to go to Etsy and purchase them for me ( Teeheehee.

I've got another assignment in the works...if no one else wants to post one, I will post in the next couple of days!

Monday, March 14, 2011

bootie photo-shoot

Hey gals! Thought I would put up something craft-related: my latest knitting project - baby booties!

This was quite a departure from toques and gauntlets for me and I even learned a few new knitting techniques (which, I admit, kinda blew my mind). I used the magic cast-on (see youtube video link at end) using 2 sets of circular needles and the half brioche stitch for the ribbing-like part, which I like better than a regular rib - it is nice and chunky!

The booties are for Joe's nephew who is only 8 months old, so he may need to grow into them - but hopefully they will fit for fall. I still need to make the other bootie but I think it should go pretty fast - baby items are so satisfying because they don't take forever!

So maybe I got a little carried away taking pictures (incorporating several different photo-shoot locations):

Now just imagine how cute the pair will look! I may need to write a followup post when I'm done with the second one :)

If I were to do it again, I would have made the instep charcoal to match the cuff! case you want to learn the magic cast-on from a crazy lady:
(beware: it is 10 minutes long and i don't think the woman is "all there" per se)

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Cosmo Bag

My first purse/tote bag has been completed and given away. I made the Cosmo Bag from Amy Butler's Style Stitches. Lee's mama was here for her birthday this past week. I wanted to make her something and settled on this purse.

The Good:
It stayed together after I sewed it. Huge applause for me. Thank you, thank you.

The Bad:
The seams aren't straight. Not even close to being straight. And, I used brown thread on gray fabric making the non-straight lines even more obvious.

The Ugly:
It is really important to pay attention to what you are buying at Fabricland. I thought it was OK to not read the package of what I bought and only discovered I was using fabric adhesive and NOT interfacing after I had applied it to the fabric. Oops. I felt like an idiot. I managed though. You wouldn't know by looking at the bag.

Cora is quite the helper.

The lining of the bag. There are 4 large pockets, 2 on each side.


The Cosmo Bag. There are pleats on both the front and back. It has a button closure. Both ends of the bag have side pockets that are nicely lined. Despite the mess ups, I really like it. Oh, and I used Anna Maria Horner's Innocent Crush Home Dec line.

MomCat was quite happy with her birthday present. It looks good on her.

Happy Trivetting!

bags bags bags

Hey ladies,

I've got a few pressies to make (that's another word for present FYI), and I'm thinking about maybe making a box bag for a gift for travellors or a make-up type bag?

Patterns - send them my way!!! Please :)

i also need a consult on fabric selection for a baby quilt, but need to get new batteries for my that should take me a solid week of forgetting before i actually get around to it!


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

maintenance for my machine or me?

Ok, so this may be lame for my first post, but my REAL first post is on its way... consider this just testing the waters.....

Do any of you have issues with your needle breaking in your sewing machine? I don't push or pull my fabric, I thread my bobbin and thread correctly, and I am using the needles that came with the machine.... yet, on a regular basis, my needle gets stuck down in the machine. I think the casing for the bobbin (that big round metal contraption that, on my machine, is made of several parts) somehow gets ahead of the needle and bends it. Time for machine maintenance or is it possible I am doing something wrong?

The good news is that if I am breaking needles I must be sewing right? It is true. In place of complete writers block, I put my productivity into sewing... 2 crazy quilt squares down... now if I only owned a digital camera so I could finish out my REAL first blog post and show you what those crazy crazy quilt squares are for (not for the trivets... so many projects to complete before the end of March!).

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Step it up...

the brother site is kicking our ass....this must be rectified.

go forth and post ladies...



not that i'm overly competitive....

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Lazy Saturday

I love lazy Saturdays...

...especially when they end up with a Tufted Tweets apron in hand!

This will soon be in my mom's kitchen.

Off to Ottawa for a dates when I get back?

Friday, March 4, 2011


So I know I was the last one to post, but wanted to share the below story while it was still fresh in my mind. Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Today Lara was determined to talk to Cute guy at the gym. Just how, she wasn’t yet sure, as she didn’t want to make it painfully obvious that she was trying to engage in conversation. Then she had a most excellent idea. Usually, Lara uses an assist machine to do exercises like squats and bench press (lest the 45lb bar plus plates falls on her during her last rep of her last set). But not today. Today she would bench press using the free bar, making it necessary to ask for a spotter. Safety first! Cute guy would most likely be in the same area, so he would be the one to ask. Naturally.

Sure enough, he’s already there when Lara finishes her warm-up and begins her first set. After her second, she very sweetly sidles over to him and asks, “Excuse me, would you mind spotting me for my last set?” He gives her a gorgeous smile (be still my--I mean Lara’s--heart!) and says, “Of course, no problem,” with a sexy voice to match.

Lara is proud of her boldness and heads back to the bar, ready to wow Cute guy with her confident lifting technique. Unfortunately, the thing she forgot to think about (and thus prepare for) was the positioning of the spotter during this exercise. No sooner had she gotten herself settled on the bench, Lara found herself staring pretty much directly into this guy’s crotch. Oh god. He was practically straddling her in a very dominating yet extremely seductive way. So now as she’s acutely aware of him towering over her, making her all hot and bothered, she realizes that she has to proceed to lift 65 lbs over her head in a slow, controlled, (and hopefully suggestive) manner. He waits patiently as thoughts of all sorts are running through her head. “Did I shave my armpits yesterday?” No. Shit. “Do I smell?” Probably, since Lara finds it unnecessary to apply deodorant before lifting only to wash it off an hour later. Sigh. Well, here goes nothing.

Lara proceeds to do a nice, clean set, and Cute guy very gently helps her complete the last rep. She gets up and thanks him, flashing him her very best smile. He smiles back. Then they both turn and continue on their way.

Mission number one = accomplished.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Mara’s five fabulous facts

Yes, I am past the deadline. But I did comment on the original post asking for an extension, so I’m going to use that as my excuse. This blog is filled with some beautiful clip art as well as a few pictures that aren’t mine.

1) My professional life: I recently gave the monthly biology seminar at my alma mater, Luther College. I was planning on just driving down there on my own dime and staying at a friend’s place, but I got a taste of the perks a “real” speaker gets. They paid my mileage AND put me up at the campus guest house. I felt like such a star. It was so wonderful to be back at Luther (they have a brand new science building!) and being there on my own allowed me to visit people and do some exploring without worrying about others’ schedules. The town of Decorah is truly a gem and such a special place to me. Being there brought back so many wonderful memories and it was lovely to see many new businesses including a quilting shop, yarn shop, newly expanded food co-op, local brewery and delicious bar and grill. My dinner on Thursday evening included a pint of a great winter ale from the Summit Brewing Co. based out of St. Paul, MN. It set me back $1.50. That’s one dollar and fifty cents. For a pint of a good beer. People like to make fun of Iowa and its cornfields, but you know what I say to them? $1.50 pints, bitches!

Newly expanded co-op (

Science Building (

2) My everyday life: I got stuck in the snow last week while trying to drive into my development. They hadn’t plowed the road yet, so needless to say my little Ford Taurus was no match for 8 inches of heavy wet snow. Luckily it was President’s Day and many people stayed home, so I promptly trotted over to a neighbor’s house for help shoveling me out. Of course the snow plow came as we started in with the shovels. Five minutes and some pushing from 2 neighbors + snow-plow guy later, I was free! Since I was coming from the gym, I naturally had on my workout clothes, very much like the outfit you see below.

3) My health life: As an unemployed graduate, I have a lot of time on my hands. So I joined a gym and decided to actually watch/track what I eat. I’ve lost 7 pounds since the new year! That’s 3.18 kg repeating for you metric system-ers. Anyway, I’m feeling really healthy/good about myself and the gym has been a nice escape from home. It doesn’t hurt that there are some rather attractive patrons that just happen to be at the gym when I decide to work out. (Is it bad that I changed my gym schedule to be there when the cute guys are? Haha!) There is one particular guy that “seems” to have the same schedule as me, and I finally got the nerve up to talk to him. Of course it was just to ask him if he was done with a machine, but I made sure to ask in my sexiest voice. ;-)

Hm....what is that arrow reallllllly pointing at? (

4) My crafting life: Some of you know that I’ve joined a fabulous knitting group that meets on Fridays. These ladies have definitely been life-savers for me. Whenever I’m feeling down or frustrated about my job search, I just look forward to Friday, as I spend most of that time laughing, eating, and just being happy. I’m the youngest of the group (most are around/over 50) but they’ve really made me feel welcome and included. And let me tell you—there are no filters at the Silver Creek Cabin knitting shop. Dirty jokes are encouraged. ;-) My current project is not in a photographic state, but pictures are forthcoming…

Some of my knitting crew!

And #5—my social life: Another thing that’s going on in my life right now is that I miss you all very very much! I think of you often (i.e. every day) and hope you are doing well in your part of the world.

(p.s. Unrelated to the 5 things above, here is a little video of my niece I’d like to share. We discovered she was a bit wary of a gnome statue during Christmas, so what did we do? We made her crawl by it so we could video-tape her reaction. ;-) )

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Lani enters the blogosphere

OMG, I am finally doing this. My first blog EVER! I bet you all thought I had dropped off the face of the earth, when really I was just so blog-un-savvy that I didn't know how to compose a post - or actually, I wasn't technically invited to be an author until yesterday (Thanks Kimbo!). So here goes - lots to catch up on :)

Woo hoo, I live in Colorado!! (okay, I know this is old news) With 300 days of sun and mild temps, it sometimes feels like summer in the middle of winter. Hurray! What a departure from the last three years.

This is a typical December day at the Horsetooth Reservoir near our house - we went for a walk with our parents when they were visiting around the holidays - doesn't look much like winter :)

I am a big dork, this is not even the dorkiest of the photos I was choosing from

And you can have the snow when you want it...

XC skiing at Rocky Mountain National Park

Better get into the actual list of NEWs:

1. I am a tax lady.

It is not nearly as great as it sounds (ha!) I have been preparing taxes part time since January, working for Liberty Tax Service - it has definitely been an experience. I will leave it at that. At least I don't have to dress up in the Lady Liberty costume and wave a sign by the roadside (see below).

Amazing the things you end up doing when you can't get a job in your field. That leads me to the next post!

2. I GOT A JOB! I got a wildlife job! Working with mountain plovers!

After a long hiatus, I am returning to the field, working for Colorado Division of Wildlife, beginning in mid April. I will be working on the same project that I applied to do my masters on (and didn't get). We will be researching cause-specific mortality of mountain plover chicks - they are up for listing under the endangered species act. The work involves lots of nest searching, capturing chicks and attaching tiny leg harness radio transmitters and taking blood samples etc, then tracking the little guys with radio-telemetry. I am excited to get back in the field but not thrilled about communal field-living 4 hours away from Joey. Hopefully it will give me a foot in the door with the Division, since from what I hear, it's all about who you know.

3. First New Years without friends to celebrate with :( but also one of the few Joe and I have actually spent together.

We had a pretty good time. We went to this restaurant called Fish - delicious food (see ahi tuna egg rolls), but the best thing was that they gave away free champagne whenever it turned midnight in any timezone (including Newfoundland and Nova Scotia) - pretty much a celebration every half hour!

i am not good at taking pictures with my phone

4. We are house hunting too (any tips, Maria....Alana?) I feel a little in over my head!

5. Here are a couple of the new things we have cooked:

butternut and caramelized onion galette

Argentine-style stuffed elk

BONUS - real-life "fat bird"

it's a stellar's jay - all puffed up!

I should write a whole other post for our trip to Costa Rica, but here's a taste...
it rained A LOT!

it's a first/new, too - had never been caught in a flood before!

we needed to cross this

we used a big stick and teamwork, but I still almost got washed away. we saw the guys on the motorbike later on, but it's still a mystery to me as to how they managed the crossing.

Well, that wasn't so hard after all :)

Miss you all!