Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Japanese Fabric Finds: Otsukaya, Part 1

Otsukaya (Kurumamichi, Nagoya) - This place is the Mother of all Japanese fabric stores. It is simply huge and by far wins for total selection and prices. I found so many things that I hadn't seen anywhere else and other things for 200-300 yen less than the equivalent in Tokyo. The discount pile is easy to miss on the first floor, but two weeks ago it was stuffed with bolts and bolts of fabrics that I had contemplated buying on the internet for $20 or more, all for 400 yen or less. The top floor has a great selection of quilting cottons and Japanese-style fabric. I think I walked around for two hours with a look of pure ecstasy on my face.

This store is also cash only, but that is probably for the best in my case.

Plus, there is a little cafe on the second floor where one could stash their husband and buy him cake and coffee for being so patient.

It's really worth a trip from Tokyo if you have half a day to spare. It's only an hour on the Hikari and then a quick switch to the Sakura-dori line on the city subway. One of the exits from Kurumamichi Station leads directly to Otsukaya's front door.

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posted by Alison 7/29/2009 11:15:00 AM : (1) comments : splink

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Project #191 - Chicken Illustration

I'm thinking about overhauling the look of this site and using some of the things from my everyday life, like my chickens. They're pretty photogenic for animals that can't stay still.

I drew up a simple little swf of one of the chickens. I figured that it would be easy to animate them stooping down and pecking or have them flap their wings, or something. However, I overestimated my animation skills. By a lot. So now I just have a chicken that blinks.

But I will have my revenge and I'll have a chicken doing...something...eventually.

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posted by Alison 7/26/2009 01:57:00 PM : (0) comments : splink

Friday, July 24, 2009

Project #190 - Background Tiles

I've used the wallpaper generator at bgpatterns for a few years, now. It's good for making quick tiled backgrounds without a lot of fuss or planning. I like having it around when I'm on a computer without and illustration program and I need something to fill in an empty space with texture pronto.

I made a few new patterns. I have them here mixed in with some of my old favorites.


posted by Alison 7/24/2009 07:01:00 PM : (0) comments : splink

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Project #189 - Digital City View

I can see the city of Pittsburgh from my backyard. The buildings downtown are only about three miles away, as the crow flies. Though I can just take a peak outside to see what the skyline really looks like, it's more fun to take artistic license, draw my favorite buildings from memory and old sketches and arrange them the way I like best. It's like playing Legos with my town.

Update: Here is the actual view from the back of the house. So, yeah, artistic license and stuff.


posted by Alison 7/23/2009 01:37:00 PM : (0) comments : splink

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Project #188 - Veggies from the Ground

The garden is just finishing the transition from spring veggies to summer ones. Finally, after weeks of waiting I've been able to pull my first non-leafy veggies. I guess you could say that nature made these, but eff it, I've put in hours and hours of weeding watering and cultivating just to make these summer crops possible. So, I'm taking credit, dammit.

Check out this guy on the lower left here; it's a cross between a zucchini and a spaghetti squash. I guess it's a zughetti squash or, uh, a spaghecchini squash. It's a delicious freak of nature.

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posted by Alison 7/22/2009 01:35:00 PM : (0) comments : splink

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Project #187 - Yellow Tomato Bruschetta on a Baguette

The tomatoes are really starting to take off. The yellow pear is especially giving and I can depend on harvesting 3-4 daily. I'm now in Su-PAH Cheap Lunch Mode, so I've been making bread (~5 loaves per $3 bag of flour) and living off of whatever I could pull out of the garden. That meant that I ate a lot of chard until recently.

My favorite way to use my few precious tomatoes is to mince them up into a nice bruschetta.


  • 1-2 peeled cloves of garlic
  • A few cherry-sized tomatoes, minced
  • 1 teaspoon of basil
  • 1/2 tbsp of olive oil
  • Salt to taste
  • (optional)1 tsp balsamic vinegar
Wrap the garlic in foil and cook in a toaster oven at 400 degrees for 10 minutes or until soft. Combine the remaining ingredients in a bowl. Let sit as garlic cooks. Moosh the softened cloves and rub small bits into pieces of sliced baguette. Top with tomato mixture.

I also derived my own baguette recipe from this one from My version is a little simpler to make and uses fewer ingredients so I can be kneaded with one hand. I hate taking off my wedding ring so that's a real bonus.

I love how cheap this bread is to make. I buy yeast in bulk (~5 for a brick that will make ∞ loaves), so most of the cost for bread-making comes from whatever added fat the recipe calls for, usually either oil, butter, or lard. This recipe takes just one tablespoon of oil and yet somehow manages to be pretty tasty.

  • 1/2 tsp of active dry yeast
  • 1/2 tsp of sugar
  • 3/4 cup of warm water
  • 2 cups of bread flower
  • Pinch of salt
  • ~1 tbsp oil
Combine the yeast, sugar and warm water in a glass. Let them sit for a few minutes until the yeast foams. While waiting combine the flour and salt in a mixing bowl. Stir in the liquid a little at a time using a fork. After all of the liquid had been added, knead with one hand. Add a little extra flour to make the dough elastic.

Pour the oil into a new bowl (I usually use olive oil), and plop your dough ball in, turning it until coated. Cover the bowl with a towel and let it rise for 90 minutes.

Take the dough and squish it into a long loaf shape and put it on a cookie sheet. Heat the oven to 400 degrees and bake for 20 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

I've made one of these everyday this week and it only takes about 10 minutes of my time for some splendid results. If I were a man I would use this recipe to impress girls. Hey, Baby! Everyone loves fresh bread!

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posted by Alison 7/21/2009 01:22:00 PM : (0) comments : splink

Monday, July 20, 2009

Project #186 - Arcade Birthday Party

My husband has spent most of the birthdays of his life at an arcade. This year we will continue that tradition, only with grownup-style (i.e. with beer) flavor. The venue is the truly local, truly awesome Games 'N' At on Pittsburgh's Southside.

This is truly a party, party, party weekend for me, though more of it has been spent procuring alcohol for others rather than drinking it myself (me no like beer). Still, the benefit of a great Mom & Pop arcade is that everyone can drink beer and game at the same time. It shows a remarkable level of trust; I get nervous if anyone even drinks a glass of water anywhere near my laptop.

I was anticipating needing to bring a lot of stuff, but the venue took care of everything, even down to the paper plates and the knife I needed to cut the rice crispy treats. There was even a fridge just for us for beer storage.

Clark even made the high score on the basketball shooting game.


posted by Alison 7/20/2009 12:45:00 AM : (0) comments : splink

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Project #185 - DIY BLT

*Curing Bacon, Part 1*
*NYT Recipe for Curing Bacon*

So, this might be cheating because I've already written about making a BLT, but this one has one critical difference, it uses bacon that I cured myself.

Clark's birthday is today and he requested that I make a BLT using the bacon I've been curing. I had the bacon sit in the curing spices maybe a little too long, three weeks instead of one, but it still looked okay when I pulled it out of the fridge.

I wiped off all of the spices and gunk and set the bacon in the oven to dry. Again, I screwed up and misread the directions and left the bacon way, way too long in the oven, not checking the temperature regularly.

It looked a little tough and sweaty when I pulled it out.

I cut a strip of bacon off of one of the sides to fry it up and test it out. I was freaked out at how salty it was. Thinking I'd ruined the whole batch I had Clark slice up the rest while I ran to the store and bought secret, backup bacon.

We cooked up almost all of our slices of thickly cut bacon and I sweated about the whole batch tasting like the bottom of a pretzel bag. I assembled the sandwiches using a fresh baked batch of biscuits, and lettuce and tomatoes from the garden.

I nervously watched Clark bite into his birthday sandwich.

He chewed for a little bit.

I held my breath and watched him swallow.

He smiled and nodded at me.

I took a bite into my own mini-sandwich a it tasted just fine. The bacon was chewy and not too salty, with a hint of garlic. I guess the outer 1/2 inch gets the full brunt of the cure and the inside stays much more mild. Phew.

In other news, I tried to make my own mayonnaise and it was a complete failure. Mayonnaise: 1, Alison: 0

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posted by Alison 7/19/2009 02:45:00 PM : (0) comments : splink

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Project #184 - Metafilter 10th Anniversary Party

I don't know why I volunteered to organize this party. I'm bad at answering email promptly and strangers kind of scare me. I hosted some neighborhood events over election season and I'm terrified that I'm going to run into people whom I've met, but completely forgotten. I'm terrible at remembering faces unless they belong to people doing bit parts in movies.

Still, being in charge means that I got to pick a venue within walking distance of my house. Hough's is my favorite bar in Greenfield and the owner, Barb, was nice enough to let us use the private room. I had to screw up the courage to make that request, but she said 'yes' and I scored points towards my 'Negotiation with People You Barely Know' merit badge.

The really shocking thing was that everyone who RSVPed showed up, plus some extra 'maybes'. I'm used to the law of internet gatherings, which states that you can count on between 0% and 50% of people who say they're planning on coming to an event to actually show up. I was really pleased to be in a room full of interesting people, all of whom know the importance of mushrooms and the significance of a single period.

I brought little metal wire puzzles to give people something to do with their hands.

Some of the pictures didn't turn out so well. I'm not a fan of the look of most pictures taken with a flash, so I tried to take most of the pictures without one in dim bar light. Even with massive photoshopping of the levels, the colors are weird and there is too much noise. I need to get a better camera, suck it up and use the flash, or start carrying my own light sources around.

Hmmm...I've made portable lighting systems before...that could be the way to go next time I need to take a picture in a bar.

The full photo set can be found here.


posted by Alison 7/18/2009 11:21:00 PM : (0) comments : splink

Friday, July 17, 2009

Project #183 - Name Tags and Stupid Printer Tricks

I volunteered to organize the 10th Anniversary Metafilter Meetup for Pittsburgh, which might have been a stupid thing to do because I think strangers are scary. The one requirement for meeting lots of new people is to have name tags so there aren't any awkward moments where you're talking to someone and you completely forgot their name the second you met them and you end up saying 'you' or 'that guy/lady/person' a lot because it's weird to ask someone their name over and over again. Plus, because this is an internet gathering (of nerds) there are also screen names to remember/forget.

I'm cheap, so instead of the big sheets of name tags I just bought four dozen giant sticky labels, the kind that fit right into the envelop feeder of a printer and cost 75% less than the purpose built stuff. I don't have an envelope feeder, so I've learned a few tricks to print things on smaller sheets of paper. This will also work if you want to print something of a non-standard shape or size. The idea is to tape your item to be printed verrry gently to a standard sheet of paper and trick the printer into thinking it's all one piece.

First, just print your design on a regular sheet of paper so that you know where to tape your label. Next, position the label the way you want it over the printout and tape in place. I like to stick the pieces of tape to whatever t-shirt I'm wearing to get a little fuzz on the sticky part. It will still keep the label in place, but it will be easier to peel off the label without damage.

Run the label and paper through the printer. If you like how it came out, mark the corners so you know right where to put the next one. If not, reposition and repeat.

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posted by Alison 7/17/2009 05:22:00 PM : (0) comments : splink

Project #182 - Metafilter Dress

I need to learn to be more careful about vintage patterns where the cover art represents an artist's interpretation rather actual finished product. For example, the above pattern looks pretty cute. It has a big, flowing skirt and nips in a bit at the waist. Lovely.

Well, the real thing is a tad poofier than the drawing above, like, 80's prom dress levels of poof. I should have taken heed when the seller labeled it as a 'square dance' dress.

The top part does not conform to the front cover. Instead of a nice, trim waistline, the upper section gives one the appearance of a pigeon chest. I fashioned a sash to give me some curves in the right places, but the rest of the chest and shoulders are so poofy that I had to shelve the dress from its intended purpose. I was planning on wearing it to the Metafilter 10th anniversary party, but it is not the right dress for meeting strangers in a casual bar setting. However, if there is a 80's or 90's party in the near future I'm set.

* * *

I've been neglecting my fabric countdown, but I've been making lots of progress.

Yardage Countdown to buying more fabric:

1 yard - Yellow T-shirt
2 yards - Hiking Skirt
1.5 yards - Office Shirt
3.5 yards - Parasol Dress
2.5 yards - Interplanetary Space Travel Dress
.75 yards - Vintage 1950s Top
4 yards - 1950s Vintage Dress with Tie Back Neck
1.5 yards - Half Circle Skirt
1.25 yards - Cutsey Knit Dress
1 yard - T-Shirt Muslin
2.5 yards - Fourth of July Dress
5 yards - Metafilter Dress

Total: 26.5 yards
Remaining: 3.5 yards

Rats!! I promised myself that I wouldn't buy any more fabric until I finished off thirty yards and I'm just three and a half lousy yards from being able to buy all the silk that I can fit into my budget. I thought it would take less than six weeks to blow through the full 30 yards, but it's going to take at least twice that. ちくしょう!

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posted by Alison 7/17/2009 01:20:00 PM : (0) comments : splink

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Project #181 - Front Stoop Garden

The people in the house next door moved out and the landlord is fixing the place up to move someone new in. Fortunately, they cleaned up the yard, stripping out the jungle of weeds. Unfortunately, they also accidentally cleaned up our front flower bed, scouring down to tulip bulbs in the soil. All of my perennials were stripped out, ones that were juuuust on the verge of blooming nice flowers that I like to use in arrangements. The poison ivy in the corner, however, was untouched. Haaaa.

Clearly, my front garden was not part of the yard next door, but whatever, mistakes were made. The landlord has the personality of a very angry cactus, so I was surprised that he sent someone out to put some new flowers in the bed, even if they were annuals and not the perennials I had lost. Still, I know when to leave well alone and decided to turn that part of the yard into another food generating zone.

I am very loyal to our local garden center, Sestili nursery. It's located in one of the most densely populated parts of Pittsburgh, but it somehow remains a big secret. It's built up against a cliff in Oakland overlooking Schenley Park and just across the Swinburne bridge from my neighborhood. They are very generous with the late season discounts and I've been taking great joy in 'adopting' vegetable and herb plants that otherwise wouldn't find a home past the end of June. I've been getting perennials for half price and herbs for $1 each. I've never had anything die on me and the proprietors are kind enough to indulge my requests for weird varieties of mint and basil.

My front stoop is now home to a bush variety cucumber, three tomato plants of various lineages, a black-eyed-susan perennial, a bee balm perennial, three deep purple pepper plants, and the small crop of replacement annuals. It's a nearly vertical plot, so it's a relief to have something taking up space.

The new front garden looks a little bare, but I'll have it filled in and blooming in a few weeks. It will be a good excuse to spend some time in the front yard for once.

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posted by Alison 7/16/2009 09:36:00 PM : (0) comments : splink

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Project #180 - Black Cherry Shortcake

This is probably the best time of year to be on a tight food budget. I'm a fruit eater and it pains me to do without. Happily, all of the good stuff, including black cherries, is selling for $1 a pound. Yaaaaay! Summer rules! Winter drools!

I made black cherry shortcake for a dinner gathering tonight from my fruit stash. It's been ages since I've had strawberry shortcake that was not served on a stick.

The funny thing about shortcake is that it's not really a cake, it's more like a sweet biscuit.

I used this recipe from and replaced the strawberries and their 1/2 cup of sugar with sweetened, simmered black cherries.

Black cherries are a little firmer than strawberries and need a little extra cooking time to get them gooey enough for a dessert like this. I just took three cups of cherries and combined them with 1/2 cup of sugar in a saucepan. I simmered them until just before boiling, mashing the cherries with a wooden spoon. I separated the cherries, added them to the shortcake, and used the liquid as a garnish. I could drink this stuff by itself. Yummy.

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posted by Alison 7/15/2009 12:29:00 AM : (0) comments : splink

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Project #179 - Focaccia Bread

Is an hour too long to wait for bread? Too short? I started this bread when I was kind of hungry and by the time I pulled it out of the oven I was ravenous. I ate nearly a quarter of it before it had a chance to cool. I was all for the best because focaccia bread does not take kindly to the passage of time. It gets greasy and heavy as time goes on, but it is pure magic straight from the oven.

I didn't do much to tweak this recipe except that I used my beloved bread flour (I'm up to using two 5 pound bags a month) and completely forgot to cover the bread in olive oil before baking. I added a token amount after pulling it out of the oven. Luckily, the bread wasn't dry at all.

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posted by Alison 7/14/2009 09:08:00 PM : (0) comments : splink

Monday, July 13, 2009

Project #178 - Cabbage Centerpieces

When I'm working on other people's weddings sometimes I have to stop and remind myself that it's not my wedding. Case in point: the vases above. The mother of the bride purchased about 8 narrow glass vases and a handful of silk roses, one or two per vase. She wanted them to be the centerpieces for each table.

My oldest brother-in-law (again, not the one getting married) and I both looked at them and hated them instantly, mostly because we both have black, black Martha Stewart hearts. The vases were too little to fill up space on top of the jumbo sized tables, and they were so narrow that they would likely fall over whenever a guest stood up or sat down. Plus, the itty-bitty rosebuds looked pathetic and forlorn all by themselves.

However, this was not my damn wedding. The mother of the bride spent her money and time picking these things out, so there was no way that they were not going to end up in the middle of each table. I needed to suck it up and design some sort of flower arrangement where the offending vase would be the star. Oh, and I needed to do this with the last $20 of the flower budget for 8 tables. Ah, and we were out of flower containers.

The solution to all of my problems turned out to be $2 cabbages from the farmer's market.

We saw a truckload of lacy, organic cabbages at the market, ones that were a shade of purple and a shade of deep green that wouldn't clash with the sage green table cloths. We purchased nine on the spot, the extra one would be used to experiment the day before the reception. Each cabbage would be cut into a vase holder. They would fill in the center of the table, incorporate the required decorations, and, hopefully, not look completely insane.

We prepared all of the cabbages the morning of the reception. First, we removed all of the outer, insect chewed leaves. Then we lopped off the bottom of each so they would sit levelly and not roll around. Next, we cut the hole where we would insert each vase. We used the lip of the vase itself to lightly bruise the outer leaves and give us a cutting guide.

Cutting the first few layers isn't hard, but eventually you'll need to start scooping out the middle of the cabbage, which won't come out as easily. Keep a fork on hand to pulverize and scoop out the stubborn bits. We cut a tunnel deep enough to hold the first 1/3 of each vase.

We smelled like coleslaw for a little while.

I'm glad that I married into a family that does not think I'm nuts.

We also made a special display for the bride and groom. The mother of the bride seemed to be pleased at how it all turned out. Phew! She cared much more about the decorations then either of the newlyweds and she was the one I was most concerned about keeping happy.

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posted by Alison 7/13/2009 01:06:00 PM : (0) comments : splink

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Project #177 - Wedding Flowers

Our next big wedding task was to purchase and make all of the floral arrangements. The farmer's market is an awesome place to buy flowers for cheap if you co at the right time of year. My oldest brother-in-law (the one not getting married) and I managed to get all of reception flowers and greenery, seen in the picture above, for about $60. $60!

The important thing to do when you purchase flowers is to cut the stems at an angle (preferably under water) and put them in water immediately. We bought the flowers the day before we needed them, so we put them in a cooler 3/4 of water and added ice to help keep the flowers for over blooming by adding ice to keep them cool.

My in-laws had nearly 30 family heirloom ice cream dishes that we used to do the flower arrangements. I tried to make the flower arrangements look a little like ice cream sundaes.

I woke up super early this morning to finish all of the the arrangements so that they would be ready to go by the afternoon. Everyone was up early with some sort of task to do.

This sort of DIY wedding won't work for every family, but I kind of like doing it this way. We all have different skills that fit well together and it really makes me feel like a part of the family to have something to contribute.

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posted by Alison 7/12/2009 11:35:00 PM : (0) comments : splink

Project #176 - Cake Topper

I'm spending this weekend in Omaha for my brother-in-law's wedding. The bride and groom are pretty relaxed about planning the reception, so me and my other, oldest brother-in-law will probably be doing a good chunk of the planning, at least where it comes to decorations.

Being a type-A, hyper-organizer, immediately upon arrival I took out my research notebook and grilled everyone on what needed to be done. We took charge of the flowers, the favors, and the cake topper. The cake topper would be the simplest to get done, so we addressed it first. The bride and groom both have the first initial 'm' i their given names, so we decided to either go with M&Ms figurines or the initials themselves. Whichever we found first would win.

Fun fact: the letter 'M' is usually the first letter to sell out in craft stores because it is an essential component in the word 'Mom'.

So, instead of buying just two, I ended up with a whole carton of letters, luckily one with two 'M's. Phew.

I didn't have a ton of craft supplies to work with at my in-law's house, so we kept it simple. We used 15-year-old wood glue and toothpicks to get the letters to stand up on the cake.

Well, 'cake' isn't quite the right word because my mother-in-law made nearly 100 mini cheesecakes instead of a one giant, fluffy cake. They were amazingly tasty, and a few were stolen before the bride and groom had a chance to take a taste. Fortunately, they're the laid back type of couple, so there was no cutting of bitches over the prematurely nibbled display.

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posted by Alison 7/12/2009 11:04:00 PM : (0) comments : splink

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Project #175 - Blueberry Ice Cream

Continuing 'Hell yeah, berries' week I made blueberry ice cream for a group of friends at dinner. The blueberries I picked were a little tart, so I combined them with some market berries that have been sitting in the fridge for a week. My meaning is that you won't need to use the best berries for this recipe. In fact, ones that are a little past their prime will be a little easier to juice.


  • 2 cups of Blueberries
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • 1.5 cups of heavy cream
  • 1 cup of milk

Combine the berries and sugar in a pot and simmer over medium heat. Use a wooden spoon and squish all of the blueberries to get the juice out of them. It's really satisfying, like popping bubble wrap. Continue until all of the berries have been squished and the sugar has been dissolved.

Drain, keeping the liquid and discarding the mashed up berries. If you have ducks you can watch them eat them and wag their tail feathers. I'm regretting not getting a picture of that, 'cause it was freakin' adorable.

Let your berry liquid cool to room temperature and combine it with the cream and milk in your ice cream maker.

We have a big plastic ball that uses people power to make ice cream, so we took turns rocking it with our feet while we ate dinner.

It takes about 45 minutes to turn the liquid into ice cream, but we didn't quite have that patience and ate it half unfrozen. It's still pretty tasty that way.

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posted by Alison 7/09/2009 03:01:00 PM : (0) comments : splink

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Hell Yeah, Berries!

I've been topping almost everything I eat with my berries. If I had a steak or a rotisserie chicken right now I would put berries on them.

Rice pudding + black raspberries + red raspberries = best snack ev-AH!

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posted by Alison 7/08/2009 02:54:00 PM : (0) comments : splink

Monday, July 06, 2009

Project #174 - Berries.

All I can say is Hell yes, it's berry time. And, holy crap, berries off the bush just make their supermarket counterparts seem like eating wet paper towels. Above are the pints of black raspberries, red raspberries and blueberries that I picked this afternoon.

I went to the berry farm this afternoon with some of my girlfriends. Most of them have plans to bake their berries into pies or tarts, but I know that mine will be lucky to make it through the car ride home.

The black raspberries were the most work out of the three; they were so tiny and picked over. There were a lot of black raspberries that weren't quite ripe out in the open. I picked a few because I like having a little of the sour taste. The ripe ones were near the ground or required reaching past several branches lined with thorns

I have brambles embedded in the skin of my shins and hands, but it was totally worth it for an entire pint of something magical.

However my favorite turned out to be the red raspberries. I'm always disappointed by the ones at the supermarket; they are so soft and half rotted that I wonder why I ever bother. The ones straight off the bush, however, were big, firm, and had a taste balanced taste that perfectly set between sweet and sour. I could live off of these.

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posted by Alison 7/06/2009 11:55:00 PM : (0) comments : splink

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Project #173 - Polymer Clay Tiles

I have lots of extra bits of polymer clay leftover from two years worth of projects and they're starting to get annoying. They have a knack for falling out of the box and scattering under whatever furniture is nearby, picking up dust along the way.

Farewell, little bits, you have finally been turned into something useful.

I once again used one of my square cookie cutters (seriously, these are one of the most useful tools I own) and stamped my little tiles out of flat sheets of clay.

The trick to getting really nice, flat sheets of polymer clay is to use a pasta press. I got mine from a yard sale for $10, and I've seen at least three since then. They're like fondue sets, lots of people have ones that they've used once now just want their cupboard space back. You can buy them new in kitchen utensil or craft stores, but they will cost $30 or more.

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posted by Alison 7/05/2009 11:52:00 PM : (0) comments : splink

Project #172 - Fourth of July Dress

I cut this dress out in February thinking that I would have plenty of time to get it done before the Fourth of July. Well, I starting sewing the buttons on at midnight, the midnight that technically started July the 5th. This was after a full sweaty day of frantic sewing, oh, and having fuzz from the serger fly around and stick to my skin so that I was kind of blue tinged by the end of the day. There is a reason why winter and spring are my preferred sewing seasons.

The pattern I used was M4769, view C, shortened a bit because it's hawwwwt outside. My only complaint about the pattern was the difficulty of placing the collar facing. Wait, make that 'complaints', plural, because the pockets are also too shallow to be useful. It's a shame to have a dress that cares to have pockets but not be able to use them without worrying that everything is going to fall out when you sit down. However, I will forever love shirt dresses and I will put up with serious amounts of frustration because they are great.

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posted by Alison 7/05/2009 10:15:00 PM : (0) comments : splink

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Project #170 - Polymer Clay Cinnamon Rolls

I have a fierce sweet tooth. I love baking desserts, I love eating them and I love just looking at pictures of them. Occasionally, I dream about desserts, but I've never successfully eaten a dream pastry. To me, the best way to express love is through baked goods, preferably by giving them to me while they are still warm. It's an 'I love you' that you can eat, preferably in small bits over the course of a few days so that the maximum enjoyment can be extracted.

My husband does not really like desserts and doesn't really understand their importance to me. Still, he tries his best and brought home a cinnamon roll for Dozen in Lawrenceville. I ate half of it immediately.

{Pittsburgh secret: The best cinnamon rolls in the city are from Food, Glorious Food in Highland Park and are only sold on Saturday mornings. It's worth getting up early to have one before they are sold out, trust me.}

Of course, the giving of baked goods must be celebrated.

Man, cinnamon roll icing is hard to simulate in clay. It's got this drippy, gooey, translucent texture that I had a dickens of a time trying to replicate. I tried an alternative method using a lashing of glue, while it is better than the thick clay coil, it still needs work.

{UPDATE} The glue looked for a little while like it would be the best bet for simulating cinnamon roll icing, but unfortunately, it dried completely clear. That does not look appetizing at all.

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posted by Alison 7/02/2009 11:46:00 PM : (1) comments : splink

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Six Months of Projects

I'm halfway through the year and halfway through my goal of trying to make something new every day until 2008 rolls around. I'm short about 12 projects right now, which means that I've missed making something about once every two weeks. I think I'll try to make up for any shortfalls by extending this into 2010.

I've done pretty well at almost completely curbing my clothing buying and I've only broken down and purchased one dress so far. Otherwise, almost everything I wear has come from my sewing machine.

Since January 1st I've made...

It is getting tougher to come up with ideas, especially for days when I'm pressed for time. However, it is unlikely that I'll run out of recipes any time soon, so there might be a slight shift to more food related postings. Still, I do reserve the right to glue googly eyes to something and call it a project.

Cheers to the next half of the year! (Oh, that reminds me,I haven't written any entries on adult beverages. There's a rich vein to mine!)

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posted by Alison 7/01/2009 11:32:00 PM : (2) comments : splink

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My Rules for the year:
• Make something new every day.
• Don't buy anything you can make yourself, especially clothes.

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