The Life and Projects of An Avid Hobbyist

Friday, July 25, 2008

Tasting Party

Tonight was MYSnB and as usual it did not disappoint.

Last week I mentioned that I was entering a few items in the canning competition for the NJ State Fair. Because the MY Stitch and Bitchers are my people, they too were very excited about the prospects. I brought some libations (red and white), cheeses (smoked and sharp) and my four entries for tasting and feedback (recognizing that the deadline to drop off items in 7/26 so there was not a lot of time to make any changes).

The offerings:

Top, left to right: marinara fra diavolo and pickled beets
Bottom row: left to right: mango chutney, blueberry orange jam, and oranges in cointreau

The verdicts:
My creation

Happy faces! That's a good sign!

The NJ State Fair runs August 1st - 10th. Wish me luck. ~ksp

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Summer Dreams, Ripped at the Seams...

...but Oh, Those Summer Nights.

I play slow pitch, high-arc softball in the Tri-Town (West Orange, Clifton and Bloomfield) Women's Recreation League with some amazing women. We didn't make the playoffs this year in a rough defeat, and I struck out at 2 at bats*, nevertheless, I had some great summer nights.

A salute to the ladies of O'Neil's softball team...


Jan, Sharon, Gil, Donna (with her back turned), Paw Steel (our good luck charm) & Marie.

Herb (base coach and supportive spouse), Massey, Chris, Missy and Janine.
Not pictured: Staci,
Nagel and me.


Donna at bat!

Missy - on first base

Our other crackpot manager/base coach Lou "foot in his mouth" Massey managed to allude photos) as did hordes of fans.

Thanks for a great time. ~ksp

* I vow to practice my hitting in the off season. Wink!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

And Then There Were None

This is Kimberly and Robert. I met them a little more than five years ago when I spent the summer between living in Atlanta and Boston with my family in NJ. Since I've had ADHD before science knew there was such a thing, I spent that summer volunteering as a grant-writer for the non-profit that Robert heads up.

Last fall, the couple announced that they were expecting. I knew that the nursery colors were burgundy and teal, but I didn't know much else about the decor. So the pondering began...

I scoured the internet looking for ideas. I wanted something classic and fresh with a vintage/scrappy feel. I went to Jo-Ann Fabrics and bought short yardages of different fabrics in the same color family. I bought Fig Tree Quilt's Argyle pattern on clearance at Purl Soho (what a great find).

This was my second quilt (although the last to be posted here) and my first foray into commercial patterns. I had so many questions: was the seam allowance included in the template or not, how do I size-down this queen size pattern to accommodate a baby crib, how many of these #@%& triangles do I have to cut out?

Whew! Breathe...

Here is the finished product...roughly 60" x 60". I quilted a stipple stitch inside of the green "stars" and in one square I hid the baby's name.

Up close you can see the different reds, greens and creams.

Here's mom-to-be with me at the baby shower...

And here is babyC all cuddled up with his quilt.

I made so many baby blankets this season that I am drinking bottled water for fear that there's something in the tap water. ~ksp

Monday, July 21, 2008

Silver and Gold

Make new friends, but keep the old.
One is silver and the other's gold.

My last post got me to thinking of my time in the Girl Scouts. We used to sing that song all the time. In the spirit of my Girl Scout training, I am working to make friends in the quilting community. In the fall, I plan to join the Nubian Heritage Quilting Guild, a local group of quilters of African descent.

I am also participating my first quilt square swap as a member of the African American Quilters group on yahoo. The swap challenge: using cream, beige, silver and gold fabrics, create a 12" sawtooth square pattern. I bought a lot of fabrics from one of my favorite online fabric stores. Now's the hard part, how to put it all together.

Here is the shape of the square. Some group members mentioned that they may like to embroider in the center square so I am tempted to keep that fabric simple and uncomplicated. My tendency, however, is to go bold...

I am struggling on how to combine some of the silvers with the golds without it looking garish and still be pleasing to women of varying tastes. Any suggestions? ~ksp

Saturday, July 19, 2008

NJ State Fair

When I was a wee tike, I was a Brownie (junior Girl Scout) ...and I never remember doing anything agriculture related. Unless you count digging up the backyard with a Tonka front-loader and dumpster (fun times).

This is a blurry shot of me receiving a pin of some sort.

I did, however, grow up with a lot of gardening and canning at home. My mother tended a small garden patch and the yard included a concord grape vine grown from a cutting from my great-grandmother Gaga's house.

For years in the fall, my mother would freeze and can tomatoes for later use. My Gaga, a lover of all things fermented, would make dessert wine and/or grape jelly with the tons of grapes that we would pick. While I was not much of a helper during those years, I kept my mother distracted by talking my head off...but something must have been sinking in.

I think in direct response to these influences*, I am a lover of many agricultural and culinary traditions like gardening, canning and preserving. This year, in addition to planting heirloom variety tomatoes, I am placing several entries into the NJ State Fair (for my urban/non-ag friends, imagine Charlotte's Web). My plan is to enter several entries.

There is a special contest withing the canning category.

I will be entering Blueberry Orange Preserves (with a dash of hooch). I am in the process of tweaking this recipe because my taste-testers think it is too tart. And that will not do, I am aiming for a ribbon here people!

The second entry...

Pickled Beets. I am not a lover of beets. In fact, I am not even a liker of beets, but my trusted tasters assure me that these are tangy and into the contest they'll go.

Last but not least, what's a NJ State Fair without a tomato. My contribution...

Marinara Fra Diavolo. Right now these are just some locally grown tomatoes I bought at Montclair's Farmer's Market. But when the sun to goes down and the heat let's up, they will be magically transformed. I am slightly modifying a recipe I canned last fall and gave as Christmas 2007 gifts. I like spicy things and so a Fra Diavolo is right up my alley.

I received a few surprises in my organic food co-op today so I may decide on an additional entry before Monday's deadline. A taste testing will commence at MY SnB in next week. I'll keep you posted. ~ksp

*The moral to this story. Lesson 1: ADHD survives well into adult hood. Lesson 2: Teach younger folks (your children,nieces, nephews, neighbors) your hobbies. You never know.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

It's a Girl

My former co-worker, Darrell and his wife Dayana had a baby girl (LittleA) in May of this year. Here are the father-daughter pair.

Sleepy Time!
Darrell, a male of the stereotypical sort, told me of the baby shower the Monday before, which left me no time to complete the quilt (insert rolling eyes here). I did not attend.

Around this time, I was bored to tears at a meeting (Well Known Kelli Fact: I bore very easily) so I sketched out a quilt square design that I liked very much. I later found out the square is called the Dutchman's puzzle.

I next, grabbed a stashed Moda jelly roll in the Flirtation line purchased on clearance at one of my favorite online quilt shops. I love jelly rolls. They are a nice way to sample a line without making a huge financial investment or large stash enhancement. Dayana is a "girly girl" and likes lots of not so I quilted a compromise. Lot's of pinks and reds with brown to bring it back to Earth.

Here it is...

Whole lotta pink...

Each square is 8" finished. I added sashing and borders in the pinwheel pink, pink backing and a brown binding. Into each square I long-arm quilted baby words in both English and Spanish.

Since BabyA is being educated biligually, I figure this quilt, in addition to catching drool and the like, can reinforce learning. Here is a close-up...

As an added treat, I got to hang out with 2 year old Big Brother A.

Big BrotherA

During my visit, he was munching on a Golden Arches "Happy Meal". Damn those fries never looked so good. Is he not the cutest little boy you have ever laid eyes on? ~ksp

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Switching Gears...*

Bonjour et amis bienvenus! This month I have the great fortune of combining two hobbies that I love very much...cycling and knitting...

Le 5 juillet le Tour De la France a commencé (this exhausts my knowledge of the French language...this blog post will continue in English...). It also marked the beginning of the 2008 Tour de France Knit Along!

I chose the "King of the Mountains" Polka Dot Jersey - Silence Lotto Team. Our fearless leader is Donna. In this group, each participant chooses a project that is a challenge. Most importantly, it does not need to be finished before the end of the Tour.

What's my challenge?...I am glad you asked... a stole using cobweb yarn.

What pattern are you going to use? You ask all the right questions; I'm using Eunny Jang's Print O' the Wave stole (Ravelry link). In this beautiful cob web Baruffa Fa Re in's like a 1,400 yard tall glass of [Caribbean blue ocean] water.

While I've always been an avid cyclist, this year has marked more riding then I've done in a while. In addition to riding around the neighborhood for fun/exercise, in early May, my father and I completed the 2008 Bike New York - 5 borough ride...

Here is a picture of me sweating it out...rough, I know...

The ride was a bit stop-and-go and several people got hurt, but overall it was a good experience. That Verrazano-Narrows Bridge was horrible and it was at the END of the ride. Still, in total, it was not as miserable as my face suggests. This photo demonstrates that I was ill-prepared by not having sunglasses or sunblock (as evidence by the subsequent sunburn).

This was also the Sunday after I drove down to 2008 Maryland Sheep and Wool ...trying to get too much into one weekend...the story of my life.

*...pun intended.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Red, White, Blue and Blue

Although I've never been actually been accused of being a patriot*, I can barbecue with the best of them...

I was invited to an impromptu shindig with some of my former students. My contribution to the day's festivities...some red white and blue desserts of course. And hell no, I did not bake anything in this heat. All items came from my favorite local bakery. Yummy!

Clockwise from top blueberry/custard pie, apple pie and strawberry cheesecake.

It was a good time. As it was planned and executed exclusively by men, the menu consisted of a lot of protein and not much else...we played chess and Scrabble and had great conversation...

Lastly, I have a surprise...

wait for it...


an almost finished sock!

It's actually, the Embossed Leaves (Ravelry link) sock from Favorite Socks: 25 Timeless Designs from Interweave. It's the first of a pair due to my aunt in Florida as her Christmas 2007 gift...I know...I know...I'm very trifflin'.... Just a few more rows of decreases and then an immediate cast on for the second sock. Thanks Risa! I am hoping I can send them to her as a "Christmas in July" gift...Here's to hoping!

Happy 4th to those who celebrate.

*As a descendant of enslaved Africans, my relationship with my country of birth and citizenship is contentious at best.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

My Mojo Has Left the Building!

First some updates...

Due to some diligence on our part, the compost heap has reached as high as a steaming 112 degrees. It actually gives off heat...I am so excited!

With a few exceptions the tomato plants are showing blooms left and right. I try not to pay too much attention to them...don't wanna count my 'maters before they hatch.

I am also in the process of completing the fourth and final quilt of the season. A post on that later.

Lastly, if you don't already read do so, I highly recommend reading The Panopticon. It is a newly added blog highlight o' my day.
If anyone has seen my sock mojo running around please tell it to stop in its tracks and insist that it return to me. I came out of the gate strong for Summer of Socks starting two pair on the first Sunday. As these photos show, I am just passed the cuff on the Pomatomous and 1.5 inches past the cuff on the Wendy Knits SOS pattern....very sad...

What's worse...I have no motivation to work on them. In the last weekend, I took a round-trip flight, I sat and watched two hours of tennis and vegged all of Sunday and never once did I pick up my knitting doesn't look good. ~ksp