Monday, September 21, 2009

Sew Excited!

Last weekend I bought a sewing machine - my first ever - and I'm totally stoked. I'd been mulling over learning to sew for the last couple of years (prompted, I have to admit, by a rather serious addiction to Project Runway). After some research, I decided to bite the bullet and purchase a sewing machine/embroiderer! The embroidery part is an added bonus and very cool. There are tons of little patterns already programmed into the machine. You just push a button and it takes off! Here's my new little baby, embroidering away...

To get me started with some easy projects, I also bought a little book called Sew What Bags which features lots of bags and bag-like items ranging from beginner level all the way up to "daredevil." Of course the one I'm dying to make is the city satchel which is at the daredevil skill level. (And after a silly misunderstanding, now the running joke in our house is that I'm going to embroider "DAREDEVIL" onto all of my bags...) Anyhow, I'm going to have to work my way up to that project. For now I'm sticking with the beginner level ideas. I was able to complete my first project on Sunday. Pictured below is my new, customized, fully lined and embroidered eye glasses case. (Don't laugh; I'm just getting started.) And yes, my glasses do fit all the way in, but I thought that having them peek out would be a nice touch.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

High on Mice

At the farmers market today, I met a lady who grows her own catnip and makes toy mice. I decided to take one home to see if the cats would take any interest, and did they ever. I dropped the mouse in front of Vito, and he liked it so much, he wouldn't ever share it! I ran back downtown to get another one, and the cats spent the rest of the morning getting high and going all silly.
Finally Vito calmed down and sat proudly with his mouse...
Addie, on the other hand, just got loopier. (If you look closely, you can see the mouse under her chest.)

Monday, September 7, 2009

Canning by Candlelight

Remember my brilliant idea about canning tomatoes? Well, yesterday I decided I would make and can my own tomato sauce. It can't be too hard, right? Well...
I started out by going to my favorite grocery store in the world, Central Market. After spending $33 on tomatoes (not even organic, mind you) and a bit more for garlic and onions, I was ready to get going. Things started out great.

Then I realized that there was no way all of my beautiful tomatoes would fit in one pot. Ok, fine. I decided to work in batches. It turns out that 3 batches of tomatoes cooking ends up being 6 batches of tomatoes pureeing. Ok, I can make it work. So after hours of cooking, pureeing and reducing, suddenly the power goes out. I waited patiently for an hour, praying it would kick on again, but to no avail. Finally Craig gets the brilliant idea that we can save the tomato sauce if we bring in the propane camping stove and finish cooking and canning on it.
So there we are, with candles and flashlights, canning tomato sauce like pioneers.

The picture above is Craig stirring the pot. Of course the flash on the camera makes it seem like it's bright as day, but as you can tell by the lit candle, it is definitely not! Anyhow, with 5 minutes left of the final water bath for the jars, the power came back...which just figures. In spite of all the trials it took to make, the finished product looks pretty good. Now let's just hope it tastes good too. We'll find out tonight as I'm planning to serve it with homemade raviolis (yet another adventurous first attempt).

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Another Summer Over...

After much consideration, I have decided that I will overcome my online anxiety and create my own blog. I'm not entirely sure what it will include or what may become of it, but what the hell.

As I gear up for yet another school year, I can't help but cling to my precious summer memories and the major and minor accomplishments of the season. The really "big deal" for me this summer was completing the STP (Seattle to Portland) bike ride. It was 204 miles in 2 days. It was pretty grueling, no doubt about it, but it was also amazing and life-changing. Before completing the ride, I'm not sure I really believed in myself or felt confident in my own strength. However, after crossing that finish line, I have a whole new perspective. Suddenly I have proof that I really can do anything I put my mind to, and it feels awesome! The picture above is my husband Craig and me at the finish line. Woohoo!

In addition to STP, we also did the Livestrong Challenge. Livestrong is Lance Armstrong's foundation for Cancer. The Seattle area ride was 70 miles, including some MAJOR hills. I was nearing my maximum capacity for pain when the rain started pouring. The rain didn't last long, but in its place came the hail. (By the way, hail hurts quite a lot when you're sailing through it.) Even though the challenge was, well, challenging, it still felt good at the finish line - especially knowing we had also raised about $1500 for the fight against Cancer.

Other than my biking adventures, I've been cooking more than ever and even tried my hand at some canning. Both of my attempts (raspberry jam and applesauce) turned out great, so now I'm thinking about what else I might be able to can before summer disapears completely. Hmm, peaches and tomatoes are in season...