Saturday, October 30, 2010

In which our heroine fails at the world's easiest Halloween craft

So I wanted to make these doily spiderweb decorations that I saw on Betz White's blog. An embroidery hoop, a doily, and a dime-store spider--what could be easier, right?

Wrong. I scoured about three different thrift stores for a doily and the single solitary one I found turned out to be way too big for my largest embroidery hoop, plus too thick to get in between the hoops.

So I thought I'd make a wreath. I wrapped a styrofoam wreath form with dark gray yarn (this is a 20" wreath I think and it took pretty close to a whole skein, 145 yards) and used florist's pins to secure the "spiderweb" to it.

I like the way it came out, but this was definitely one of those projects that snowball. Does that ever happen to you? You start out all, "Oh, lalala, I'm just going to turn a thrift-store find and some stuff I have around the house into something awesome," and all of a sudden you're like, "Wait, how did I just spend $[REDACTED] at JoAnn's?"

 Oh yeah, and JoAnn's had doilies too. So I got to try out the world's easiest Halloween craft after all.

Happy All Hallows Eve Eve! Pumpkin carving tomorrow....

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Quoth the raven...

Also considered: "Boo!" and of course "Nevermore."* But this seems appropriate, too--after all, as a Trickster, the raven surely knows a thing or two about both tricks and treats.

*(Actually, what I'd really like is to make a banner featuring an owl saying, "Nevermore"...just to be perverse and all.)

I made this Halloween decoration out of wool felt based on this Valentine tutorial by Melissa, a.k.a. Checkout Girl. Yes, a Valentine tutorial--hey, my mind works in weird ways, I'll grant you that. I enlarged the pattern pieces and changed the shape of the bird's head a bit so that was more raven-like and less dove-like. I traced around a big mixing bowl to make the moon.

As I was working on this I felt like it was turning out more country-cottage than what I'd envisioned, but I could no longer picture what I'd originally envisioned. Does that ever happen to you? Anyway, maybe it was because I'm fairly new to working with felt like this, so my stitches are a little, uh, American Primitive. But anyway, now that I've knotted off the last thread it's really growing on me.

Monday, October 25, 2010


Wake up, wash dolphin, cook Mardi Gras beads, feed dolphin, eat "kitty food" for breakfast. Etc. And that's all before 9 a.m.

The cats, of course, slept through the whole thing.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Last batch of tomatoes

I pulled our tomato plants out of the garden a couple of weeks ago, and we've been ripening the stragglers on the kitchen windowsill. Last night I roasted the last two panfuls to freeze for the winter.

This has been a terrible year for tomatoes here in Seattle. We had cool weather all summer, and I don't think we harvested our first ripe tomato until the first week of September. Fortunately it's been a bright, warm fall, so all was not lost. Even so, most of our crop this year--San Marzanos, Early Girls, and Fantastics--has been pretty insipid, mealy and flavorless.

Fortunately, a long roast in a slow oven cures that problem. I've been using a variation on this recipe. Since my roasted tomatoes are meant to be an ingredient in other recipes, rather than a dish in their own right, I cut the amount of olive oil way down and simplify the seasoning. But a pan full of still-warm tomatoes, seasoned with garlic and herbs and piled on toasted bread with goat cheese, makes a pretty good dinner too.

Roasted Tomatoes
Adapted from Cafe Lago via Bon Appetit and Molly Wizenberg

For each roasting pan full:

About 1 Tbsp olive oil, spread over bottom of pan.

Wash, trim, and seed the tomatoes. Arrange cut side up in bottom of pan.

Turn on oven to 275 F.

Sprinkle over another 1 Tbsp olive oil, 1/2 tsp sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, fresh ground black pepper.

Optional: add 3 good-size cloves garlic, pressed, and 1 tsp oregano or Greek seasoning.

Bake 1 hour, turn with tongs, bake 1 more hour.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Do you ever feel like you might die if you don't make something?

Even though you fully realize how ridiculous that sounds?

This is basically the Oliver + S Lazy Days Skirt,

made from a quarter yard of quilting cotton and some black eyelet trim,

and one recent Sunday my sanity depended on it.