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October 2007
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December 2007

November 2007

just a spoonful of nutella helps the mexican food go down

nutella - the real chocolate substitute
What are you in the mood for - Mexican? Thai? Ethiopian? I can't wait until I can ask myself that question without having it prompt a moan. Have you ever tried diversifying your palette with little more than pinto beans and a few pesticide-laden veggies on hand?

Of course, it isn't all bad - I did find this lone jar of Nutella at a local store, which I proceeded to devour like a famished dog. Chocolate is hard to come by. We have, on rare occasion, found a bag of unmarked chocolate chips hiding amongst the tortilla chips. Taking this to be a good sign, we began to ask for chocolate chips when we couldn't find them on the shelves. They had NO clue what we were talking about. The woman at the register actually showed us chicken bouillon and said, "Si, es chocolate." Umm ... okay, so she was crazy. Whatever. The chocolate chips had a vague taste of "been sitting around a Mexican grocery store for 10 years so start to taste like the grocery store" thing about them, anyway.

Most of the time I try to make the best of the situation, but come winter, the prospects get considerable worse if you are a Moosewood snob at heart, like myself. You mean the only vegetables available are carrots, an occasional tomato, and iceberg lettuce? Going grocery shopping can be pretty depressing, let me tell you! Especially when all of you lovely bloggers are constantly raving about a newfound wonder-recipe using all organic ingredients, or posting saliva-producing photos of your latest baking pursuits. Am I the only one who got totally envious when I downloaded Amy's recipe cheat-sheet? Gosh. I'm pretty sure this means that I am due to gain about 278 pounds once I move back to the US and sign up at a local organic co-op.

Just a quick update - I have been receiving so many sign-ups for the Holiday Traditions Exchange that I can no longer respond to each one! Just look for an email from me sometime before Nov. 14th, which will contain your swap partner's information. If you don't hear from me by the 15th, then go ahead shoot me off an email.

P.S. Watch this for a good laugh. It's also perfect for inducing cheese ball lust.

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once upon a time there was a little boy who loved play-doh

making play doh 009
But his teacher thought he was too little to make it himself on the stove ...
making play doh 039
So she put together a special, no-cook play-doh making exercise just for him.

The little boy has never been happier! Every day at school he makes a batch of play-doh to share with the rest of the children on the art shelf and a special green batch to take home.

4 tablespoons of white flour
2 tablespoons of salt
1 dropper-full of vegetable oil
2 tablespoons of water

Add the dry ingredients in a bowl. If you want to add a few drops of food coloring, make sure to add it to the water, otherwise it will be difficult to get a uniform color. Little by little, add the water. At first, stir with a spoon - once all of the water is added, start smooshing the mixture with your hands until it reaches the desired consistency. Store in an air-tight container in the fridge when not in use. Most likely, it will end up drying out after a day or two of heavy use.

Psst ... want to see more recent pics of classroom happenings? I just posted a bunch over at Flickr .


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i'm swa(m)ped!

Such good news - I have over 120 wonderful people signed up for the Holiday Traditions Exchange! Keep those sign-ups comin'. This is going to be so much fun! Just a few remarks - if you simply left a comment on the post but didn't email me directly, please go ahead and send me an email. Remember that Blogger doesn't provide me with your email addresses. Also, if you sent me an email to sign up and didn't receive a direct response, know that I received it and you are good to go. The beginning of last week was a bit crazy, so my apologies for not being able to confirm with everyone.
Keeping in the spirit of the season, I wanted to be sure to give you a heads up on this swap, in case you are feeling super festive. Be sure to make your decision soon - sign ups end on Friday, November 9th. I found out about the swap last year while milling about on Flickr, searching for holiday decorating ideas. I was a few weeks too late - and I made a mental note to be on the lookout for it this year. Make 8-10 ornaments, receive 8-10? Sounds like my kind of thing. I would love to (eventually) be able to decorate my tree exclusively with unique, handmade ornaments. White lights (do those eco-friendly LED lights come in white?) and lots of red, green, and aqua.

Yes, I do have a comically full plate - but truth be told, I wouldn't be able to put aside such great swapping opportunities simply in order to hold onto my sanity. Sanity is so overrated. Plus, the act of creating is quite relaxing - unless you are writing a pattern, that is! ;)

In my moments of sheer self-indulgence and utter procrastination, I've been ogling the the following handmade goodies: these aprons by Handmade Hostess; this print by Jen; and these adorable ornaments by Lauren Alane. Perhaps if I lost some more of that wretched sanity, all of these things would be mine. Humph. Like I said, sanity isn't always all it's cracked up to be!

The yo-yo's are calling (the fabric kind, sillies ... )


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the people have spoken

gnome laptop sleeve 007
Wow! I guess you want a gnome bag pattern? Okey dokey - I'm working on it as we speak. In fact, your response has been so positive that I hope to have the pattern up for sale before Christmas - can it be done? I think so.
gnome laptop sleeve 006
AND, thanks to Joyful Abode's question concerning a laptop fitting in the bag, I've decided to make a matching, padded laptop sleeve as part of the pattern. I'll have to make the sleeve customizable, due to the great variation in laptop dimensions. I love mine - it gives me a wonderful way to cover up that Nascar label that is built into my own laptop (Don't ask - my laptop was a great deal, and we were able to get rid of that loud "engine revving" sound when Windows started up ...)

In other news, I am sick. Again. And I have pinkeye. Woohoo! I think my defenses must be ridiculously low, given the stress of last week. Joy.

The good news? Patrick is making a Chicago-style pizza for dinner. Joy - this time, without the sarcasm. :)


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recycled bath mat tutorial

I extend the warmest of welcomes to everyone participating in Sew, Mama, Sew's beyond brilliant November Handmade Holidays series! With no further ado, I present to you:
The Recycled Bath Mat Tutorial For those looking to add a little color to their family's shower experience

patchwork bath mat

1. Dive into your scrap bag.
Using a card stock 2 1/2 inch square template and tailor's chalk or other water-soluble quilter's pen, trace around your template onto your scrap fabric. Cut out the square. Repeat this 87 times (you will need 88 squares, total.) Be sure to cut out a variety of complimentary fabrics. While making my mat, I stuck with reds, aquas, greens and yellows.

patchwork 017
2. Arrange your patches First thing's first - clean your floor and ban all fabric-loving felines from entering. You'll need to spread out your patches, 11 across by 8 down, and you wouldn't want your work disturbed once you've found the perfect layout! Once you're satisfied, begin stacking, in order, the top row of 11 patches. Leave the other rows in their place on the floor, and take this "first row stack" over to your sewing machine.

3. Sew together the patchwork strips.

recycled bath mat tutorial 1

Using a 1/4 in seam allowance, sew the 11 squares together. Press the seams to one side. Return this first strip to your floor layout. Now stack the second row, sew the strip, press, and return. Repeat for the remaining strips.

4. Sew the strips together

patchwork 031

Starting with the top two strips, place the first strip with the right side facing up, then lay the second strip on top of it with its right side facing down. Secure the right, long edge with pins. With a 1/4 in seam allowance, stitch down this long edge and press the seam to one side. Repeat this process with the rest of the strips, always placing the "loose" strip face down on top of the previous strip and sewing along the right, unfinished edge.

5. Embellish the top of the mat
While it is fine to leave the top of the mat embroidery-free, I couldn't help but break out the old-fashioned needle and thread. Here's how I managed the feet outline:

recycled bath mat tutorial 2

I used my own tiny feet as the model, but it would be great to use a child's footsies, or, better yet, the whole family's! Make sure the top of the mat is pressed flat, then trace around the feet using tailor's chalk.

I used the chain stitch with 6 strands of white embroidery floss because I wanted the outline to stand out from the background colors. With three strands of floss, I embroidered "clean feet" using a no-nonsense running stitch.

patchwork bath mat close up

6. Cut out an old terry towel for the mat backing Cut out part of an old towel to the same dimensions as your mat front.
recycled bath mat tutorial 3
Pin the mat front, right side facing down, to the towel backing.
recycled bath mat tutorial 4
7. Sew the mat front to the towel backing Using a 1/4 seam allowance, sew around the edges, leaving a 4 inch gap for turning. Turn the mat right side out and press. Topstitch along the entire edge, closing the "turning gap" as you go.

8. "Quilt" around your embroidery

recycled bath mat tutorial 5

Lengthen your stitch length slightly and machine stitch around the outside of your "feet." This serves the dual purpose of accenting the embroidery as well as securing the towel backing to the mat front, to prevent slippage.

That's it! I hope that you or your gift recipient enjoys this light-hearted addition to the bathroom!


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