Monday, June 29, 2009

Something old, something new...

This is a tear sheet from a bridal magazine of my wedding dress. I found it a couple weeks ago when I was looking for something else. It must have wanted to be found, because yesterday was Mr. Hunting Creek's and my 29th wedding anniversary. We were married on June 28th, 1980 in Berkeley, two weeks after we graduated from the University. We were married indoors, in church, so I did not have the hat and parasol. Instead I followed my mom's advice and ordered a yard of my dress fabric and from that made my own cap and veil. It was easy to make, and I also had the fun of having all of my bridesmaids take a few stitches in it.

With the tear sheet, I had also saved the blue linen handkerchief that my mother had given me as my something blue. She had carried it on her wedding day as her something blue and saved it for me to do the same. I have saved this for my daughter, (although she currently shows no signs of wanting to be married. But maybe someday...).
Since one of my favorite things every Sunday is reading the wedding stories in the New York Times, I'll tell you mine.
We met at Freshman Orientation weekend at UC Irvine. A friend had talked me into going. I was shy and avoided occasions like this. I told her I didn't want to go. She said, "You're going, you'll have fun. I don't want to go alone! It's settled." and so I went. Friends are like that. They sometimes DO know what's good for you.
Alphabet is destiny: my last name started with B and his with C. We were assigned to the same dorm. When we met at a toga party that weekend, he commented that one day we'd have to tell our grandkids that we had met at a toga party at Freshman Orientation. Of course I laughed. He was cute and funny and smart, but I thought nothing of it. There were lots of cute, funny and smart guys at The University of California. He didn't get around to asking me out until six months later. I still tease him about this. We've been together since we were 19. When people ask me for dating advice, I have to tell them I have not dated since 1977. Sometimes you just get lucky.
I love hearing how other people met their significant others. Even if it isn't at a toga party.
Happy Anniversary!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Down with Etsy!

Those of you who fantasize about making a living from your Etsy store will be very interested in reading this article on Slate.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day to my two favorite fathers: my dad and my husband.

Thanks to my dad for teaching me the following things:

How to balance my checkbook, and then, how to balance the books for a business

How to be a good manager. My parents ran their own business, and all of us kids would help out. When he was away he left us to make our own mistakes and he always trusted us to use our own good judgement. If we did make a mistake we would then learn how to fix it.

How to drive (he was endlessly patient) and Accident Forgiveness (Progressive Insurance has nothing on a man who had four teenagers, three of whom crashed all of his cars with varying amounts of damage.)

How to treat VIPS and regular people: exactly the same! He has no respect for people who are rude to waiters.

How to gamble. Some people never learn when to get up from the table.

My dad also cooked, changed diapers, did housework, attended school functions, was President of the PTA, organized community events and did everything modern dads do, but forty years ago. He was and is a pioneer.
Thanks again, Dad!

I hope all of you have a happy Father's Day with all of your favorite fathers.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Book Review: Stitched in Time: Memory-Keeping Projects to Sew and Share from the Creator of Posie Gets Cozy

Are you a sentimental person? Do you like sweetly floral pillowcases, homemade gifts, birthday cupcakes and handmade keepsakes? If yes, Stitched In Time
will give you inspiration for bridal shower gifts, birthday gifts, wedding presents, baby gifts and more. The author, Alicia Paulson, has a blog that celebrates the sweetness of everyday life, just like the projects in her book do. She includes sewing instructions, embroidery how-tos and lots of advice to help every thing go smoothly. The Family Picture pillow would make a great graduation gift or birthday or Father's Day gift. There are lots of good ideas here that can be adapted to your own gift needs. I know I must make the Nutcracker doll for a friend of mine who collects handmade dolls.
I knew that Alicia (we're on a first name basis now that I've read her book; she seems so friendly. I think we'd hit it right off if we ever met. We both like dogs and kids and sewing and cupcakes. Is there a better foundation for a friendship?)...anyway, I knew that she and I were on the same wavelength when I saw that she included a small aside on choosing the right people to give your homemade treasures to. We all know a sad story of someone who did not appreciate the handmade wonderfulness of a gift we made. We don't make anything for those people any more.
I loved the beautiful photographs and the clever and creative projects. Someday you'll want to make a baby quilt or a birthday banner or a recipe card apron or a set of placemats as a housewarming gift and this book will have just the thing you are looking for. I have post-it notes all throughout my copy already.
What was your favorite hand-made gift?

Monday, June 8, 2009

Measure Twice, Cut Once

I read some Amazon reviews of Weekend Sewing (reviewed below) and boy are they harsh. (I like the book and have had no trouble with the one thing I have started) What is frustrating is that many of the issues that the reviewers complained about could have been avoided by always following these steps.

1. When you are making a new pattern,(or a recipe) read all instructions all the way through
2. Measure carefully (the old rule "measure twice, cut once" isn't just for carpenters)
3. Make a muslin to determine fit and any construction issues before you cut your good fabric
4. If the pattern is from a book, check the author's or publisher's website for any possible known errors. Threads Magazine did an article a little while ago on proofing your patterns. It's a good habit to get into. I have found many mistakes when doing this at the start and saved myself frustration and grief later on.

Here's Heather's info with corrections:

5. Ask for help if you get stuck. Don't give up! Many problem projects can be saved with some creative thinking. Nancy used this ingenious solution to fix an accident

What creative solutions have you used to save a problem project?

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Book Review: Weekend Sewing: More Than 40 Projects and Ideas for Inspired Stitching

I bought some new sewing books this week and that's always fun, because while I am reading them and trying out the patterns, if anyone interrupts me I can say that I am working. New sewing books are great; there are lots of good ideas out there, and I like to read all the new books to see if I can capture any good ideas for my sewing. This book is full of good ideas for weekend sewing. For most of us, that's the only time we get to sew. This charming book highlights simple projects that one could make in a weekend. There are patterns attached inside the front and back covers, and the projects include everything from a wrap skirt to napkins and a tablecloth to a simple shirt. Plus the book is written in a friendly reassuring style. Many projects are suitable for beginners. Each project is accompanied with illustrated diagrams and complete instructions. I've been sewing so long that I don't need instructions for most projects, but I have to confess that her method for putting together a pillowcase was something I had never even thought of doing before. If I had had a book like this when my kids were little I would have made the little tent and pillow and ground cloth for backyard and picnic adventures; they would have loved it. There are lots of great gift ideas included as well: easy garden gloves (she recommends Liberty knits - I did not even know Liberty MADE knits. Now I need some!), a super cute make-up/toiletries travel bag that would work for men and women as a perfect customized gift, pajamas for everyone and much more. There are lots of good ideas in here and I look forward to customizing some of them for my own projects. Plus she includes recipes for some of her favorite easy dishes. That peach, basil and fresh mozzarella salad is now on my list when summer peaches arrive.
Heather likes to cook and sew and I think if we knew each other we'd have a lot to talk about. This book would make a great gift for someone you know who is getting into sewing or coming back to sewing after a long break(or yourself). I liked the fact that she included a list of her favorite music to sew by. She had interesting choices...of course I had to ask my 18 year old son for a sample. Mr. Hunting Creek likes to play music that matches what he is making for dinner. I could do this for sewing too: surf guitar for Hawaiian shirts, bossa nova for evening wear, folk music for peasant skirts...(maybe patterns should come with MP3s?)
What music do you like to sew by?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Ginger Shortbread

Warning! Only attempt Ginger Shortbread if you love Ginger. I love Ginger and will happily eat Australian Crystalized Ginger all by itself, but others aren't as enamoured. I used to order it by the little jar, see in the photo, but now I get it by the bag. Soon I'll be buying futures on the ginger exchange. It's only a matter of time.
What's nice is that I am the only one who LOVES these, so I have a whole jar all to myself. Normally when I make cookies, they disappear and by the time I have time for a cup of tea and a cookie they are long gone. But these have lasted all week.
There was muttering that we needed chocolate chip oatmeal cookies, but I ignored it. Sometimes you have to please yourself.

Ginger Shortbread (from Marie Simmons' wonderful cookbook A-Z Bar Cookies) (Which could be yours for as little as 23 cents on Amazon, if you need one)
Preheat oven to 350
Butter a 9 x 13 inch baking pan
2 1/4 cups flour,
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks)butter slightly softened
1/2 cup finely chopped crystalized giner

I mix all this in my Cuisinart and pat it into the baking pan. Then bake for about 20 minutes or until slightly browned at the edges. Cool and cut into bars
Enjoy with your tea. There might be some left for you tomorrow (kids don't like Ginger Shortbread)

This gave me ideas - what about Cinnamon Shortbread? And Citrus Shortbread? The kids will probably like those.
Happy Baking!