Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I blame a lack of sunlight...

... but it may just be my own lack of a greenthumb.

When I planted my herb and tomato garden in the spring, it was with the hopes that by Labor Day I would be enjoying an abundance of tomatoes and fresh herbs from my very own little plot. I even fantasized about having to make a vat of sauce and jar my bounty at summer's end. However, as we near Columbus Day, all I have to show for my tomato garden is this:

Two puny green tomatoes.
The "large" one is golf-ball-sized.

I did, however, have success with my mint and my basil did ok, too, the last of which will soon be made into chimichurri (the mint) and pesto (the basil) and frozen for the winter.

Oh well. Perhaps next year I will find a sunnier spot.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Belated Birthday for Phineas

With weddings behind us, I finally got back to some long dormant projects, including birthday shirts for Phineas.

Starting to look like a shirt!

I'm using Kwik Sew 3484, which seems to get universal praise for ease and style. Since I have not yet tackled collared shirts and I don't have a lot of experience with buttons, I decided to buy some inexpensive cotton that was on sale for my first attempt at this shirt. If I botch it horribly, it was no more expensive than muslin and if it comes out wonderful, well, Phineas can go ahead and wear it.

I had cut out and marked the fabric weeks ago, so this weekend I was ready to set right to work. As you can see, the shirt is in a half done state - collar, front and shoulders done, but no side seams, hems or buttons. I had a moment of duh with the collar, which looks ok anyway. But I definitly feel like next time it will go much more smoothly. Since Phineas didn't want a pocket, I decided to add trim to make it a little more interesting.

I'm not sure how I feel about it. It looks like it is making the fabric pucker around the trim. I'll have to see how it looks after I press it. I'm not really sure what to do to fix it, if it needs fixing.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Pecan Pie Paradox: Episode II: A New Hope

My very excellent friend and fellow baking enthusiast, MarMar, really took my corn syrup woes to heart and emailed the wonderful folks at King Arthur Flour on my behalf. And here is their response (woo hoo hoo!):

Good afternoon,

A great substitute for corn syrup is Lyle's Golden Syrup. Unfortunately it can be kind of hard to find as it's made in the UK. These links will give you some good information about it:

http://www.lylesgoldensyrup.com/lylesgoldensyrup/default.html or http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_syrup. I would suggest doing an online search to see where you might be able to purchase it in the US if you're interested.

You can also substitute maple syrup in a lot of recipes calling for corn syrup. Here are a couple of links to great sounding pecan pies using maple syrup:


If just a small amount is called for (i.e. a Tablespoon or two) you can also use honey. I hope this helps. Please let us know if we can be of further assistance.


Customer Care
King Arthur Flour
I can barely contain myself. YAY!! Just the other day I was fretting that I needed to start testing things out for Thanksgiving and winter baking, so this comes at the perfect time! Let the experiments begin... pie test-taster candidates may submit their qualifications via the comments field.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Seattle (a stomach's eye view, as usual)

As usual, Phineas and I did a whirlwind tour - with many stops for refreshments - in Seattle. We had some great experiences, ate some great local cuisine and hung out with some excellent people. Here is the round-up in pictures.

Pike Place Market: where they toss the fish.

Mmmm... a latte at Espresso Vivace.

Seattle Art Museum

Strolling around Pioneer Square

Chiccaroneos (aka: Italian chicharrones) at Salumi. All hail Papa Batali!

"Seafest" and local beer at the Crab Pot

Phineas at the Space Needle

A brunch cruise on Elliot Bay ended our weekend.

Now, if you think that covers all our eating, well, that just shows that you probably have more self control than me and Phin, especially when let loose on a new city. We also sampled local cheese, gorgeous California nectarines from the market, and broiled oysters at Emmett Watson's Oyster Bar. Also, Seattle for some reason has a fascination with donuts. There was even at donut bar at the wedding. As Homer says, "Donuts.... is there anything they can't do?"

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Congratulations Greg & Han!

We are back from Seattle. Han & Greg had a beautiful wedding which was the highlight of a great weekend. More on our trip later.

Shrug: final outcome

A few more photos from Terpischore's wedding can be found at Hatnim Lee's blog. Hatnim is Minwin's assistant photographer.

This one shows off my nephew Linus' enormous blue peepers as well as the shrug I made for Mom Muse. Check out the trim around the collar. That was my favorite part of the project.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Off to Seattle

So, this evening we fly to Seattle for Greg and Han's wedding.

No time to post at present, but here is a picture of one of Orpheus' inventions from last year, illustrated by G'ma (Mom Muse). For some unknown reason, the pogostick plunger has not yet been patented or put into production. Although, now that Orpheus is so into Harry Potter, perhaps I will have to ask him how wizards plunge their toilets.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Curtains! Final outcome

The curtains looked really good at the wedding, despite the fact that the boys in charge of decorating decided to tie them as tight as possible so that they hung a few inches off the ground. In their defense, they did actually make a bow at the top of each tie, which was really rather sweet and thoughtful. But now that the wedding is over, I have 45 yards of black satin fabric left over.

Luckily for me, Orpheus has discovered Harry Potter and is going to go as "the boy who lived" for Halloween. This is the pattern I ordered for his costume. So, 3 yards down, 42 to go...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Shameless plagiarism

Sorry, Magenta, but I look too good in this photo not to steal it and post it on my own blog!

It takes a lot of work to look good!

Here are a few photo's of the wedding morning at the salon, pre-hair, pre-make-up and in some cases pre-coffee. But we managed to pull it together by the time Terpischore walked down the aisle.

Actually, this is the day before at the nail salon. Poly and KK getting mani's.

Me and Calliope in identical shirts and hairdo's

KK, Erato and the bride, Terpischore

Calliope under the drier

Terpischore, final touches.

The men don't understand this, but I think for us muses this is part of the pre-wedding ritual; getting ready and helping the bride get ready, a shedding of the old and donning of the new, and the last few minutes of being a single gal.

Monday, September 15, 2008

One wedding down, one to go...

Well, one sibling wedding is over. Next up, Phineas' brother is getting married in Seattle this weekend. In the meantime I will try to keep the pictures coming...

The bride is a graphic designer.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Morning After

Here's the first few photos from the wedding. Terpischore's awesome photographer, Min Win, already posted these and other teaser photos to his website.

Have you ever seen a happier couple?

Here is the world's sweetest flower girl, Miss Beansprout.

The ringbearers, Linus and Orpheus, chilling out before Mom Calliope put them in their kilts.

Polyhymnia, partying in style.

Ivan, there is a growing collection of pictures of you making faces at weddings...

Friday, September 12, 2008

Office Oasis

This is my zen rock garden and bamboo that are my little sea of tranquility in my normally hectic office. Ahhhhhh....

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Ducks-(not)-in-a row

Anywhere I go in the world (this was San Francisco), whenever I see five of something together, it reminds me of my sisters.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Bird, bird, bird, bird is the word

Phineas got some cool grill tools for his birthday this year. And he made me drunken chicken (aka beer can chicken) on this upright chicken grilling pan. However, I found this picture too disturbing to post with the recipe at the time. So, instead, I've chosen to disturb you with it now. Wah ah ah ah ah! (Sinister laugh.)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Dum dum da dum

With Terpiscore's wedding this weekend, it is doubtful that I will post much this week. So, to keep you entertained in my absence, I have pre-arranged a few posts of random photographs taken this summer, which will pop up throughout the week.

Here is the bride right before we went out for her bachelorette evening.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Finished! (Well, almost... like, 99.9% done...)

Moments after turning over the finished shrug to my mom, I realized I hadn't put a label in it. DRAT!!!

I'll post more pictures of her wearing it with her dress for the wedding after next weekend.

Five Muses Sweatshop

Curtain making was quite a production on Saturday. By 11 am the makeshift headquarters of Five Muses Sweatshop was set up in my mom's dining room. We toiled for 12 hours with a few breaks for pizza, wine and Harry Potter.

Polyhymnia brought her sewing machine and hummed along. She had cautioned me that her sewing skills were not polished, but she did absolutely beautiful work and we would not have gotten nearly as far without her!

Calliope probably suffered the most wounds - she scorched herself with an iron and then stuck herself with a pin. But she persisted without complaint and did heroic work, especially at the end of the evening, pinning all of the ties to the curtains for me and Poly to sew.

Mom Muse (above) and Erato (below) pressed hems... and more hems... and more hems....and you get the point.... there were a lot of hems... It was the most tedious job and they did it without a single grumble.

Final statistics: On Sunday morning over brunch, Poly and I figured out that we had collectively pressed and sewn the lenght of 1 1/2 football fields - 150 yards or so. We finished 10 curtains with just 4 more to go, which I will finish during the week. Phew! What a marathon!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

National Sewing Month!

Here is the list of projects I hope to complete this month:
  1. Curtains for Terpischore's wedding reception hall
  2. Shrug for Mom Muse (almost done)
  3. 2 shirts for Phineas (one is already cut and waiting to be sewn)
  4. Perfect pants for myself once my class ends on Monday (I already have some great fabric for the first pair)
  5. Belated birthday tote for Terpischore
  6. And, finally, 2BSewing has inspired me to start thinking about making a jacket for myself, although this may get pushed into October and be a happy birthday to me gift!
At this time of year my thoughts always start to turn toward Christmas. I know it is early, but careful planning and a good head start are necessary if I am going to make some gifts. And family members who have received birthday gifts are already hinting that a handmade Christmas would be welcome.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Peach and Apple Picking

The best part of Labor Day weekend was apple and peach picking with my niece and nephews.

My "favorite big sister", Calliope, with her boys, Orpheus and Linus.

R to L: Calliope, Linus, Mr Grant and Orpheus

Miss J takes a break to sample the fruit

Linus really enjoyed the tunnel in the hay maze

Really, really

Really a lot!

Orpheus crawled thru the farmhouse maze

After all the picking and playing was done, I made a Peach Coffee Cake from a recipe from my new cookbook, King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking. I've been wanting this book for a while; ever since MarMar recommended it to me. You wouldn't know this moist and tender cake was made with whole wheat flour - definitely a keeper! Mmmmmm!

Peach coffee cake

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Curtains! Proto-type

After some tinkering, the curtain proto-type is done and I am gearing up for mass-production on Saturday!

To do before Saturday:
  1. cut all the fabric
  2. buy extra pins and thread
  3. organize labor force (ie: Muses)
  4. rent fun background movies (Harry Potter? 80's movies?)
  5. buy motivational tools (ie: wine)

WIP: More on the Shrug

So, the shrug did fit and I am moving ahead with the project. This weekend, I trimmed and bound all the seams with bias tape and worked on the sleeves. Speaking of which, I realized that I was holding them (and trying to attach them!!) the wrong way, which was why they looked like they wouldn't fit. But I am back on the right course now.

I guess this is my inexperience rearing it's ugly head. In a year, I have learned a tremendous amount, but there is still a lot that is new and I am not always as patient as I should be.

Next steps: Hems and Trim