Sunday, February 25, 2007

The First Eleven/Can You See Me Now?

**Thanks for emailing me about my pics - I've tried re-loading everything again. I just find it odd that I've never heard/seen any problems here before. Here's hoping that this was some flukey thing - I'd hate to think of my blog sans pictures....(shudder)**

Last weekend we got some nice quality time with my folks. Mom and I worked on quilt stuff while the guys tweaked home theatre cables and wires. It really was a luxury to have so much time, such a beautiful afternoon and loads of fabric to inspire us.

There are a lot of things that I am enjoying about this Bai Jia Bei project - but the best so far is choosing the colors for the blocks. It is so much fun finding just the right two fabrics to sew together.

The next part....the cutting....not as much fun. I've learned the hard way to measure twice and cut once - these 8X8 inch squares of fabric only stretch so far.

Why eleven? No reason, actually, I got a little burnt out on cutting and that is where I stopped. One thing that I've learned with this kind of sewing is that it is good to have a sizeable batch lined up. It is more efficient to sew 11 sets of triangle heart bottoms vs. doing one block at a time. The upside to the assembly line strategy is that I feel as though I've accomplished quite a bit.

So, here are the First Eleven:

This pair has some Auntie Energy - my sister's "Fairy Princesses" on top & my aunt's Coca Cola pattern on the bottom.

These two come from a couple of special "Lindas" that I work with. The cats are flannel. You may remember my blog post about the brilliant red/yellow fabric a while back.

This is the Grandparent Trio: Dad's Railroad Fabric (paired with my Uncle's blue flannel piece), Mom's Vintage Alphabet Fabric (Q is for Quilt!) & Grandma Z's Purple Jungle Fabric (I love the Hippo)!

Next two are more Mom choices. She couldn't pick just one fabric - she ended up giving me FOUR fabrics that portray some meaningful aspect of her personality/our family. So thaaats where I get it from. Here is the angel fabric that she chose - unfortunately the poor angel in the bottom right lost her head in the sewing process. I paired the cute little teapots with more fabric sent by my sister (who gave me THREE different color-coordinated fabrics). Hmmmm, there seems to be a family tendency I'm noticing here.....

Here are the last two blocks - the top, pink ribbon one is from Mom. Every year we do the Race for the Cure as a family. It is a Mother's Day tradition. Finally, the pink fabric came from my grandmother. It was leftover from a dress that she made for herself back in the 70's for a very special event. I'm pretty sure that I got the sewing gene from her!

I'm getting really excited about how this is going to all go together!

BTW, a couple people asked about where I found the pattern. My neighbor loaned me a huge stack of pattern books a while back & I found it in the very last book I looked at - on the very last page. The title of the book is Fabric Shopping with Alex Anderson! Seems like she has a show or something b/c it says HGTV on the front cover. Here is a link.

Saturday, February 24, 2007


People keep saying that they cannot see my pics. That has never happened before. Does anyone know what may be going on???

I can see them just fine.....

Friday, February 23, 2007

ramble on

create your own visited states map
or check out these Google Hacks.

Stephanie over at Forks & Chopsticks inspired me to look at my rambling ways this morning.

The map above details all the states that I've visited. Eight of these I've actually called home. I managed to rack up some significant mileage because we moved a lot during my kidhood...and because I am a big fan of the road trip.

Our family packed up the house and moved across country a la National Lampoon's Vacation years ago. This accounts for the red "stripe" that cuts through the map above. We got to stand in four states at one time in Four Corners , taste Mexican food for the first time and watch a storm move across the flatlands of Kansas - it seemed like you could see forever. Our musical accompanyment during this voyage Westward included the tunes of Hooked on Classics, the Urban Cowboy Soundtrack and Annie - the Musical. These were the only tapes (yes, cassette tapes) that we agreed on when the radio stopped picking up anything but the snowy static of the open road. I can still hear the fiddle solo from The Devil Went Down to Georgia like it was yesterday.

Yes, it was a Hard Knock Life...for us.
(Sorry, I couldn't help myself)

Other memorable roadtrips? Well there was the one that I took after meeting my future in-laws for the first time. Yes, we road tripped from DC to Florida the very first time we met. Made the trek in one day. We obviously were meant to be together.

Another particularly memorable journey took me from one end of Texas to the other following a band with an old boyfriend. Somehow that trip seemed longer than any of the other ones. Perhaps it was the drive-through-the-night-sleep-deprivation-related-hallucinations? I also did some MidWest exploration post college and some really great trips to Oregon on the Green Tortoise during my grad school days.

Looking at the map as a whole illustrates to me that I desparately need to explore the Southern part of the US. I had plans to visit Louisiana about 15 years ago during a trip to Texas but it fell through. When I was tapped by the Red Cross for deployment following Hurricane Katrina I thought for sure I'd wind up somewhere in the South, however, I ended up in a call center in Bakersfield, CA...go figure.

Someday I'll get there. There and the Badlands. And, what about Wisconsin?

Where have you been? Where are you going? Do you need any luggage?
(Does anyone get this reference?**)

Random Reference UpDate**

A few lines from a fave B52's Tune ~ Detour Through Your Mind...

"Who am I?
Where have I been?
Where am I going?
Do I need any luggage?
Can I bring my mother?

I need to leave my past behind -
I need to leave my behind in the past"

Ain't it da truth?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Brought to You By the Letter C

Connie inspired me to join in the fun with an Alphabet Round Robin. She chose the Letter "C" for me.

Here are 10 "C-Words" that I love.

1) Steve Carell & the Office

2) Crayola - NOTHING like a fresh box of crayons! Oh, the possibilities.

3) Curry/Cumin - The colors and the flavors.

4) Corduroy

5) Clerks - I adore Jay and Silent Bob. And, I have Kevin Smith's autograph!!

6) Hot Chips

7) Chez Panisse/Cooking - Alice Waters is an inspiration to me.

(Hey, a girl can like Cheetos AND Haricots Verts)

8) Cafe Latte - non-fat, no foam.

9) Lloyd Cole and the Commotions, CrosbyStillsNash&Young, Cameo, Chicago, Cocteau Twins and Chingy - My musical tastes are all over the map.
I'm very fickle & love to CHANNEL SURF (another "C").

10) CHINESE NEW YEAR - Happy Year of the Pig to Everyone!!! Here's hoping for lots of Prosperity...and light on the Tumult. Both are predicted for this Golden Pig Year.

Be Nine

Yes, it is time to acknowledge another LID "anniversary".

Nine. Nine months in line with the CCAA.

I don't need to explain to anyone what nine months usually means to expectant parents. We realized last night that it was a year ago that we announced our adoption plans to my parents.

This is a funny story. We were all in the car - Mom, Dad, Jzboy and me. You know how great it is to do the family-talking-thing in the car, right? Everyone facing forward. I'm sure that you can visualize it. Mom was talking about elaborate trips she wants to make post retirement. Somehow this seemed to be a good place to mention our hopeful travels.

I said, "Jzboy and I are planning on taking a pretty big trip ourselves here in the next year"....."Yeah, we're going to be going to China".

Mom, "China???" Dad...silent.

Me, quite nervously, "Yeah, we're going to be going to China to adopt".

Mom, "Wow...really?...(surprise)...(gush)". Dad...quietly drives.

Jzboy provides some comic relief and breaks the slightly awkward silence in the car by joking, "Yeah we'll be going to China to adopt the ways of the adopt the Chinese culture...chuckle, chuckle".

Courtesy laughter.

I realized then that I'd left out some details. Thank goodness Mom started asking some questions and with some relief that we'd finally let the secret out, I began telling the whole story. The agency, the dossier, the timeline...etc.

Suddenly there was a sound from the driver's side of the car. Dad, speaks.

He said, perplexed, "You mean, you are going to adopt a Chinese PERSON?"

The lightbulb was lit brightly over his head. And, we all had a good laugh. You have to admit that our news was a lot to process what with my anxious storytelling, Jzboy's silly joke and the winding road that Dad was navigating.

That was a very memorable car ride. Funny, loving, happy excitement.

I can hardly believe that was a year ago!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Patchwork of Hearts

This is an important day.

I have finally rested upon a decision for the Bai Jia Bei pattern!!


I like this pattern because it allows me to play with color as well as use a whole lot of varied fabric while I am at it! Perfect for this 100+ Good Wishes Project.

I was a little concerned about having to do some "applique" with this project. In spite of my fretting, I decided that it was time to give the pattern a test run. My wise grandmother always warned me regarding sewing patterns: "Don't Read Ahead" and that helped out a lot today. I took it step by step - and it really wasn't that bad.

The fussiest part about the pattern is getting the heart "cleft" all nice and curvy. This is done with a cardboard template thingy and the "gathering stitch". Very cool sewing skill...but a little too difficult for me to explain. I still can't believe that I got it right.

Today I used fabrics that I actually sent as exchanges & I like how they paired up. This quilt will be comprised of Seventy Seven 4 1/2 inch blocks. Small, but I think that I could do a bunch at a time while I watch Oprah or something.

This is TOO cool. I am really-truly on the road with the Bai Jia Bei. Finally.

*I think that this qualifies me for the "Get Your Craft On" challenge because this month is all about the Heart.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Taking the Cake/updated

Apparantly, the Red Velvet Cake has quite a history...full of intrigue and steeped in Urban Legend.

I had no idea.

You see, sometime in the 40's or so a lady enjoyed a slice of Red Velvet Cake at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. After doing so, she asked the hotel for the recipe. They obliged her request, and charged her somewhere between $25-500 (depending on which story you read) for doing so. Outraged, this vengeful woman circulated the spendy, albeit delicious recipe along with the story to bakers far and wide.

Wasn't there a Nordstroms Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe story like this???

Taking all of this into consideration, I am left with the question: "Does this cake have Southern Roots or is it a City-Slicker NYC cake?" I'd always thought of it as a tradition in the South - a cake for special occasions. Remember Steel Magnolias?

The Armadillo Grooms Cake?

Sure, the historical context is intriguing but it has nothing to do with why I gave myself the challenge of perfecting the red velvet cake. Red happens to be my favorite color, the cake looks very cool when you cut into it, I enjoy random family traditions and thought that this would be a fun one...and because, to me, the celebratory color symbolizes strength and love.

Happy. Red. Cake.

Once I announced to friends, family and blog-buds that I was planning this - the recipes started rolling in. They are all similar with interesting little nuances. Some use buttermilk, others add in vinegar or use cream cheese frosting vs. "mystery" frosting. Due to the wide range of differing formulas, I thought it wise to start with the original and chose the Waldorf-Astoria Red Velvet Cake Recipe for my maiden voyage.

Two important ingredients - cake flour (sifted THREE times, thankyouverymuch) and red food coloring.

The original recipe called for "3 bottles of red food color". All that I had was one fancy FRENCH bottle of "gel" food color that measured about .75 ounces. As I looked at other recipes, they seemed to call for 2 ounces...3 bottles...2 tablespoons. Hey, my bottle was from FRANCE and had a designer color name to it. It had to be enough, right? Who needs THREE bottles of Safeway red food color, really?

Before adding fancy, FRENCH, gelee food colour:

And, after:

Honestly, I was worried that this would turn out to be more of a Orangey-Pink Velvet Cake.

Good news is that once it was cooked, it looked more red than pink:


I've been struggling with naming the shade of red that my cake turned out to be. For now, I've decided to call it Carmine. Future cakes I will be shooting for more of a Crimson or Ruby.

Yeah, Ruby. Ruby is really what I'm shooting for.

**Updated to add**
2/11/07 - I was so consumed with the color aspect of my first cake that I forgot to say anything about how it tasted.

It was a'ight.

Not bad, but not as good as I wanted it to be. I wanted for it to be slightly jaw-dropping. As striking in taste as it is in color, I suppose. The cake was a bit on the dryish side and the frosting was sorta so-so. All the taste-testers liked it, so that is good. But, there is still cake left - a week later. Not the best sign. Next time, I'll try a recipe with oil vs. butter perhaps...or a "3-egg" cake that is described in my old skool Betty Crocker cookbook.

If anyone has any ideas, or well-loved recipes let me know. I'm taking the test kitchen seriously on this one. XO

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Nick Cage and I Go Way Back

Anyone remember this movie?

Classic John Hughes. Hottie Keith (Eric Stoltz) had no idea that tough girl, Watts (Mary Stuart Masterson) was the perfect one for him until he misguidedly chases Ms. Amanda Jones (Lea Tompson) the misunderstood uber-popular girl who has one hellofa icky boyfriend, Hardy (played by that guy from Buffy). Great film.

Even better soundtrack - but I am a total sucker for soundtracks.

Living very close to Hollywood in the 80's, I had the frequent opportunity to attend free movie showings. Usually they were held at random theaters and sometimes at the studio producing the film itself. We'd watch the show & then fill out surveys with our opinions. Free movie, bragging rights re: being preliminary critics and, well...FREE frickin' movie...nuff' said, yes?

I have no idea how we got so lucky, but a friend and I scored invitations to the Some Kind of Wonderful opening.

We're talking red-carpet-and-movie-stars-at-Mann's-Chinese-Theatre-sort-of-thing, ok? My friend, who later went on to work for the show Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, and I stood outside the theatre doors to watch the celebrities make their entrances. Our toes were touching the red carpet. Literally. We swooned as we watched appearances by: Chico Debarge, Rona Barrett, Scotty Baldwin (he was a famous character from General Hospital but I don't remember the poor guys real name) and the actor from Visionquest and a few others. Pretty B-List - but this small town girls head was spinning with all the glitz and glam.

This friend that I was with, Robin Leach's future colleague, had an autograph obsession. He had Jimmy Stewart, Lucille Ball and John Wayne's autographs. He stalked the Beverly Center, various other LA hotspots and whatever Hollywood shindigs he heard of as a hobby. That is just what he did. He was bound and determined to get us into the post party so we could see the A-Listers. Yeah right. You see, I was wearing my roommates white sweater dress and my own glittery white go-go boots which seemed great at the time, but in retrospect screamed very loudly: Supremely uncool!

White. Generra. Sweaterdress. Nuff' Said. (sigh)

As we waltzed around Hollywood Boulevard after the show, we noticed quite a crowd at the Palace. Before I could say "Champagne Wishes & Caviar Dreams" we were inside the party! I think that my friend explained to the doorman that we were with the college radio station - and by some incredible stroke of Hollywood magic we got inside.

Justine Bateman, Molly Ringwald, Beastie Boys, Andrew McCarthy, Lea Thompson...some of those folks signed their autographs on my wee sheet of paper. Me, in my white sweaterdress-ness. Yes, they still signed. Some were cooler than others. Molly Ringwald wasn't quite the perky, friendly, self deprecating gal that she played in the movies. She was over it. But, she still signed. And, I met her. Wow.

You will see from the pic that I did get Molly's signature - at the center. Lea Thompson is at the upper left and Andrew McCarthy is at the bottom right. Pretty awesome. Totally rad-ass-bitchin', actually.

Best part about the evening, though was the aftermath. We were hanging outside the club, trying to act cool and well, what-do-you-know but Nicolas Cage exited the place.

I was beside myself. But, having the newfound energy of meeting so-many-cool-people-in-one-freaky-night-in-LA I asked him for his autograph. He said, "Why? I wasn't even in this movie". I retorted, "But I LOVED you in Valley Girl". He signed.

Of course.

I don't remember anything else.

Try as I might, I can not remember how I got Charlie Sexton's signature:

My head was in the clouds.

Good times.