The Life and Projects of An Avid Hobbyist

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

More Quilting-Liberated Style

I have been very busy this holiday season. I have challenged myself to, wherever possible, draw from my already rich craft cabinet to create many of this season's gifts. Over the next couple of weeks, I will feature some of my gifts here. My family rarely, if ever visits me here in blogland so I believe there won't be any spoilers.

A couple of weeks ago I mail-ordered (yes, there is still such a thing) two quilting books:
Liberated String Quilts and Abstract Quilts in Solids by Gwen Marston.

They're autographed too.

The colors are so vibrant and feature both vintage and newly created quilts. I love Gwen's eye for color and her willingness to go wherever the creative process takes her. The book inspired my participation in one of the several swaps this season.

Complimentary postcards! I've already mailed one off.

The quilters of the African American Quilters (yahoo group link), are holding a Kwanzaa block swap. The rules are, using traditional Kwanzaa colors and using any piecing method you like, produce five 9 1/2" squares. Drawing on inspiration from Gwen's books and other great quilting bloggers, I bellied up to the table and produced these two quilt squares.

It took me some time to adjust to flying without a net, and at least one of these squares was subsequently cannibalized for other squares. Any guesses which one? By the time I had produced my requisite number of squares I had gotten a flow for my process. Alas, I didn't take pictures of them all. When I get my swap squares back I will plan to make them into a table runner for my brother for his Kwanzaa table. ~ksp

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Insomnia Is Good For Something

The up-side is that I have time plus energy to post, the down-side is I am wide-awake and am scheduled for an all-day training Tuesday. Pray for me.

I hope everyone in the US had a great Thanksgiving last week. I had several "dinners" throughout the week. I was invited to a dinner with a group of guys I work with. They cooked the entire meal.

This is Hector (don't ask) before...

And this was him after...he didn't stand a chance. The food was delish and they are a very entertaining group of young men. I was actually referred to as "an old head" I am in my early 30's, I'm not really sure what to do with that.

On the knitting front, I felted a pumpkin to serve as a centerpiece for the pre-turkey Thanksgiving table. Let's just say it didn't go very well and I threw it out the back door and into the rain... Let's hope the squirrels get it.

I also participated in 2 quilt swaps this season. The first is a sawtooth pattern in creams, beiges, golds and silvers... Can't wait to see what I get back. I'll show the second batch next time...

...a close-up

Must. Get. Sleep. ~ksp

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Date Food

One of my best friends cooked himself salmon for dinner and then later lamented to me that if he knew how good the meal was going to be, he would have saved it and cooked it for his girlfriend.

He said, "that meal was so good, it was date food."

I laughed my ass off which is quite common in our conversations.

Soon thereafter, I stopped at Whole Foods (whole paycheck) and could not resist buying some sea scallops. I brought them home and was inspired to serve them to myself.

Date Dinner

Seared sea scallops served over wheat spaghetti with sauted spinach and marinara fra diavolo.

Damn! That was date food! ~ksp

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things...

Life has been moving so quickly, I hardly know where the time went. I have been very busy with several projects and preparing for the coming holiday season with knitted/sewn and store-bought gifts. So I wanted to share some of the cool items I've come across lately.

First up...a new soap. I have sensitive skin, very sensitive skin and because of it I don't usually venture out with soaps and lotions and the bit. Though, I had been dying to try fellow knitter Rosie G's soap products. A few weeks ago she did a limited run on soaps and I was able to snag a few bars. It was love at first lather. The smell was present yet subtle. The soap lathered quickly (I love bubbles) and rinsed clean leaving my skin moisturized. I doubled my shower time the first time I used it. Addictive.

Rubber Duckie & Rosie's Soap
Almond soap chillin' with rubber duckie.

Next, I got a bit of a care package from Savannah, GA. I lived in Georgia for several years, yet never made it to Savannah. I hear it's beautiful. And if this goodie bag is any indication. I should avoid this town like the plague (I have too many consumption options right here in NJ).

Servable honeycomb and handmade organic raffia beach bag. I loves me some bright colors.

The internet can be a dangerous place. I turned to it recently because I needed a pill case to contain my many malady remedies. On etsy, I found this beautiful and reasonably priced one here. It's a beautiful addition to the items already floating around in my purse.

Pill Case

Then my knitting mentor designed and knit my mother this cardigan. She is so talented. We started with a stitch pattern from one of Barbara Walker's books and the next thing I knew, after some measurements were taken and a button run to NYC completed, voila! I am encouraging her to write up the pattern.

Yarn: 8 skeins Schulana Mosco
Chest Measurement: 48"

Lastly, my current sweater in progress is Hey Teach! of knitty fame. I raided Michael's during their last big sale and bought 6 skeins of their Patons Classic wool in this beautiful heathery medium blue. Since I am tall and busty (DDD cups), I am making some modifications, namely lengthening the sleeves and the bodice.

I will take pictures of the sweater in progress as soon as I dig it out from my pile of UFOs. ~ksp

Friday, October 31, 2008

Apples and Trees

I took a short jaunt north of my home to Demarest Farms and boy does it pack a punch. There were hay rides and a corn maze...lots of kiddies with lots of exhausted-looking parents.

They had fresh-baked goodies...

Freshed Baked Yumminess

...a farmer's market with great stuff...


...chocolate is the lesser-acknowledged food group but those in the know know that if it's sold at a farm stand, by definition, it's a vegetable.

Jersey Girl Chocolate

...folks could pick their own pumpkins...

Pumpkin Patch

...I spent a small fortune on apples...


...when I returned home, I harvested the ripened veggies from the garden and...


Made a huge vat of apple butter...delish! ~ksp

Apple Butter

Just in Time

Because this year my garden featured heirloom variety tomatoes, I had an interesting fall. For weeks I regularly watched the weather projections for the predicted first frost.

The summer months were too humid for tomato blossoms, but the unseasonably warm fall gave the garden new life (and me new hope).

This past weekend, my trusted Garden Laborer (AKA Damien) went about the business of digging up the remaining plants and preparing the tools and ground for a long winter.

All of his hard work produced this...and just in time. ~ksp

Green Tomatoes
Fried green tomato anyone?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Neti Pot Prophetess

"It's been a long time, I shouldn't have left you
Without a strong rhyme to step to
Think of how many weak shows you slept through
Time's up, I'm sorry I kept you" ~Rakim*

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Several years ago, while living in Atlanta, I developed "the worse sinus infection I've ever seen"**. My ENT referred me to a surgeon who put me under to fix a malformed middle turbinate...I know, I know, more than you wanted to know. Anywho...the surgeon taught me ho w to irrigate my sinuses with a Waterpik. Now if I know my readership as well as I think I do let me answer the obvious questions.
  1. yes, a Waterpik
  2. yes, it was as uncomfortable as it sounds.

Since then, I still irrigate my sinuses but I rely on the wisdom of the ages instead of the brute force. I use a neti pot. I'm not really sure who introduced me to them, but I know it was pre-Oprah. I have since inculcated several folks to join me running water through my nose and sinuses. If you haven't already tried it and you suffer from head cold and sinus pressure. It is truly a life saver.

On to knitting news...
The needles have been very busy around here lately. I finished my first ever sweater in time for NY Sheep and Wool. All of that will be discussed in future posts. For now we will combine two of my loves fiber and food.

I was in the NYC for a Midtown button run and took the opportunity to visit one of my favorite old haunts. Anyone who reads this blog regularly (or as regularly as I have been posting) knows that I loves the East Village (West Village too for that matter!).

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Here is the Dumpling Man chillin' on the swatch to my latest project.

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I think I made dumplings...or was a dumpling in a previous life.

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No meal is complete without the hot sauce.

Here is the latest project. It's a Snuggle Snack from the PurlBee. I am going through MAJOR stash busting so this project is 90% stash (I bought the white) Knit Picks Swish DK Superwash. I am dubbing it the Mint Chocolate Chip Sundae Snuggle Snack.

It's to be a gift for one of my hairdressers who's having her third child.


*  A little hip hop reference...for those in the know
** A direct quote from the ENT.  It made me feel great to hear.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Day at the Races

Call to Post 6
My father recently retired from the daily working world and since has had several retirement parties. Yesterday was party number 2 at Monmouth Park. What a time!

Mommy Betting Daddy Betting

The photo on the left is my mother getting some handicapping help. She did okay. She's really not all that into the whole betting thing. My dad, a more seasoned gambler, isn't all that into horse racing. Go figure! All parties report having had a good time.

My Friend the Handler

I made friends with a handler who gave me some tips on some of the races with mixed results. He was showing me cool features of the horses. Its seems like a rough life doesn't smell so great either.

Monmouth Club Level

Monmouth Park is a racetrack built in the 1940's and is very reminiscent of the olden days. The photo above is of the terrace and club levels. While I do love old world charm, that area is a little too sterile for my tastes. I quickly moved down to the grounds level. Park benches and over-priced beers are much more my speed. My day summed up in one photo.

Day at the Races
  1. Amy Bulter Rowan knitting bag
  2. Crab Cake Festival Freebies: cups and t-shirts
  3. US Open Socks - Fluted Bannister (ravel it)
  4. Blackberry Curve (new toy!)
  5. Betting tickets & scouting book
Finish Line
The finish line.

Friday, September 19, 2008

US Open 2008 - Better Late

I love tennis. I happen to suck royally as a player, but I am a damn good spectator. In fact, I come from a long line of dedicated fans (don't call the house when a final is on). I have been attending the US Open since I was a wee tike.



Fluted Bannister Sock in YarnLove.





Exiting Open

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Got Coffee??

I feel like I have been dragging lately. Too much to do in too little time. Quilting, knitting, canning, gardening...a whore's work is never done (wink!). I am often over-extended so I don't know if this is just a bad run, or if I am showing signs of wear and tear. I have been trying to make it through the day without coffee....

Note my desk today.... Needless to say the "no coffee thing" didn't work!

Ah! The joys of $2 diner coffee.


Last night (and for several weeks now) I missed MY SnB to go to my friend Edna's house to work on a quilt. Edna and I met last year through work and soon discovered that we both attended Starseed Yoga Studio. Earlier this year, founder Jyoti Chrystal announced that she was being treated for cancer. Edna and I decided to make a quilt to be auctioned or raffled off to help defray some of her medical bills.

We chose colors from the quilt from the colors of the chakras. They are almost all batiks ordered online at equilter. (They have an excellent selection and a very user-friendly design board feature.)

Edna stretching out on the design board (aka the floor).

It is very much a work in progress. We are hoping to have it done by Oct 1 in time for a fundraiser. Wish us luck.

Be well. ~ksp