Gone on Vacation

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Good morning! I am actually still here. In Seattle. Or rather, as I write this we are preparing for an overnight “trip” to a suburb for the last of K’s birthday celebration. We will stay in the new-ish McMenamins Anderson School, which should be quite the experience. It’s possible that we’ve gone a tad bonkers for our only child’s 10th birthday, but…well, I don’t feel too bad about it. We only live once and who cares what other people think, right? I have a feeling she’s going to remember her 10th bday with great fondness.

So the vacation is more of a mental one and I’m taking the next week or so off from this space to rejigger my noggin. I have to admit full defeat, my friends, because the hard life stuff has been like one of those trick birthday candles. I keep blowing and blowing, expecting the flame to extinguish, but no. There it is, popping right up again. Now that I’ve crossed off the last big thing for the summer with this final birthday celebration, I am a listless, amoeba-like mass, floating in a tide pool of exhaustion.

I must rest.

Have a wonderful week (or so), and see you back here in a few! xo

P.S. The image above is one I took when we went on a real deal vacation to Michigan. We roasted hot dogs and s’mores on the beach and the placid waters made for a lovely backdrop. Later, the sunset was gasp-inducingly gorgeous!

Happy Friday + Randomness

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Happy Friday! Keeping it super duper short today since we’re attempting to get out of town this weekend. Above is one of the projects I worked on recently for the Seattle Japanese Garden that I believe is already printed by now. I had a wonderful time painting this, and it will be part of their self walking tour brochure. Fun! I hope to work on more maps in the future. I recently saw this book and this book in a store, and deliberated long and hard about purchasing them, but in the end, I left them on the shelf. I heart maps.

What are you up to,
this fine August end o’ week?
Hope it’s full of joy!

P.S. The winner of the embroidery book giveaway is Janice, congrats!

Health Food Experiments: Kombucha and Spiralizer

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Yesterday, K and I had an epic playdate with some friends (gotta keep the kiddos entertained), and I was introduced to homemade kombucha. Have you ever had kombucha? The fermented tea can be easily made at home if you have a starter SCOBY, which is an acronym for “symbiotic ‘colony’ of bacteria and yeast”. My friend has been brewing up a batch regularly and kindly sent me home with my own jug to ferment. I had a sampling to taste, and it has the tang of apple cider vinegar with more sweetness. I really liked it and am curious to see if it’ll help with gut health. It seems to be the big new thing with the microbiome rage that’s going on. The SCOBY (shown below) I received isn’t the prettiest thing, but my friend assured me that in a couple of weeks, this black tea concoction will transform into kombucha.

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In the spirit of healthy food experimentation, I also remembered that I purchased a spiralizer recently. It had been sitting in the box all but forgotten, but I gave it a test run after we got home from the playdate.

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So pretty! The spiralizer is a small one but it comes with three blades, and is very easy to operate and clean. Though I’d seen similar contraptions online, I’d been mystified by how they actually work — now I know that it’s actually a lot of fun! I happened to come upon this model at my local store, but this one looks even easier to clean.

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Basically, you stick a vegetable cut to about 2″ in height on the “post” which looks like the end of a small metal pipe sticking up, and a pronged surface holds the veggie in place while you crank the handle for slicing. What you see above is the ribbon blade in action. This is what the noodle looks like (you can also see how the cucumber “core” remains — it’s mimicking the apple coring concept):

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The third option, “coily cut”, is slightly thicker than the noodle and would be great for curly fries. Alas, my coily cut cucumber didn’t turn out so photogenic so I don’t have a visual to share. Here’s another shot of the ribbon cucumber though — I just love the way it looks.  I’m going to be making a lot of ribbon cucumber salad, I can already tell.

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I bought a bunch of zucchini and plan on making zucchini “pasta” tomorrow and will be utilizing that left blade up there. I’m so excited! And I am so going to make sweet potato curly fries. Yum.

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As for the black tea kombucha, I’ll have to wait until August 16th to see if it fermented properly. Since my friend did all the prep work, I don’t know exactly how to make it (yet), but if I can manage to keep the SCOBY alive, a green tea kombucha would be lovely for the next round.

Have any of you tried kombucha-making or spiralizing? You know that I’m always looking for recipe recommendations. Which reminds me, thank you for all the light and summer-y recipe tips here!

P.S. Furoku members, #17 is headed your way in a couple of days!

The “Unicorn” Pillow

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Remember all the hullabaloo about which top I should make with the pink ponies silk for K’s birthday? Well, when 11pm rolled around the night before her 10th b-day and the fabric hadn’t even been ironed, I knew that I was in trouble.

And then I remembered that Shelley had left a brilliant comment about embroidering a unicorn horn, an idea with which I became obsessed. She also suggested wings, but that was beyond my mental and embroidery capabilities at the literal 11th hour. So I came up with plan B and foraged for some silver embroidery thread because I knew I was out of gold and went to work.

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When I gave her the 14″ x 14″ pillow the next morning, I hinted that a special unicorn was hiding amid the pink ponies and it actually took her a lot longer than I expected to find it. Then again, it was fairly dark in the room. The pillow required all of 15 minutes to sew including embroidering the horn. I broke all manners of sewing rules and didn’t care one whit that the edges weren’t totally straight and didn’t even consider creating French seams. It almost felt sacrilegious to overlock the raw edges of the fine fabric, but I’d say the time saved was well worth the sacrilege. I always make pillow covers with an envelope closure, so K can freely drool on it if she so chooses and freshness is just a washing machine away.

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Can you find the unicorn? The most rewarding part is that she LOVES loves loves the pillow. I actually think that making something that she won’t outgrow was the smarter choice here, and the unicorn horn made all the difference in elevating this simple project into a magical one. Thank you, Shelley!! You’re a genius.

And oh, her birthday was awesome — filled with swimming, her favorite restaurant (the xiao long dumplings are to die for) and a sleepover. Ten-years-old!!!! I can’t believe it. I almost forgot! She also got a curling iron for her birthday with strict instructions of never using it on her own, and she loves it even more than the pillow. We’d been using a makeshift wooden spoon + flat iron Macgyvering maneuver to occasionally curl her hair, but it was…not fun. Behold my curls-bedecked tween:

k-curlsP.S. That’s a garage sale dress that a friend gave her a while ago and is not handmade. She was practically hyperventilating from happiness on her birthday. So so sweet.

Happy Friday + Giveaway! [CLOSED]

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Happy Friday! This giveaway is all cuteness, my friends. Tuttle Publishing sent me this darling book: 501 Enchanting Embroidery Designs, and I was very, very tempted to keep this for myself. Normally I would have requested two copies (one for me, one for a giveaway), but these days I’m delving deeply into the minimalistic approach of letting go of things that I know I won’t get around to anytime soon. When the moment comes when I’m ready for some ridiculously adorable embroidery, I’ll purchase the book.

As such, I want to offer it up to you. The book is divided up into five parts that don’t make a whole lot of sense to me, but that might be because I’m not well-versed in embroidery. Part 1 is called “Little Scandinavian Sketches”, and these are probably my favorite designs. Here are a couple spreads from this section:

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I loved these motifs from part 2, “Sweet Little Sketches”:

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I noticed that the image above features only some of the letters of the alphabet, and it felt like a sign of some sort to see the letters “K” and “M” and “S”. I have a bad habit of trying to make everything mean something.

Part 3 goes into “Cross Stitch Motifs” (I didn’t take any photos of this section, sorry) and part 4 encourages us with the title “Let’s Embroider” and displays ideas for items that could be enhanced with some extra stitchery. There are even some sewing patterns included (e.g. the potholders).

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Part five finishes off with embroidery techniques followed by the motifs/designs that can be traced.

Crazy cute, right?

I’m back on the deadline horse, so I am feeling not so sanguine (I had to look up that word before including it here — do you ever do that? A word pops into your mind to use in a sentence but you have only a vague idea of what it actually means, which could result in embarrassment if left unchecked. In this case, I was happy to verify that sanguine means “optimistic, positive, confident, especially in an apparently bad or difficult situation.” Works for me!). My non-sanguineness is partly because of the heat that feels oppressive in our unventilated house, and partly because of the heavy food I’ve been eating. I’m craving light, healthy summer dishes.

So, with that in mind, to enter the giveaway, any comment will do as usual, but I would love a summer dish/recipe recommendation. Sweet or savory! The giveaway will be open until next Friday, August 5th. Good luck and have a fabulous weekend!

Oh what a big day
Tomorrow is K’s birthday
TEN! Oh my, oh my