making my own napkins and loving it

status check
August 12, 2009, 9:28 pm
Filed under: Books, miscellany

i am a very bad blogger.  very bad indeed.  weeks and even months go by.  i move into new apartments, make curtains, hang pictures, sew napkins and dishcloths, host barbecues, eat amish fudge, cook porkchops and corn chowder, and fail to write in my blog.

i blame school.  because it’s school’s fault, but also because it’s easy to do.  it’s true that i have lots of work to complete on any given day, and that i haven’t had time to practice the guitar, let along fix the e string that popped out god only knows how long ago. and when i get home, and have made myself dinner and whistled at the bird for a few minutes, all i really want to do is open one of the beers that people keep leaving at my house post-barbecue, stretch out on the couch, and watch a little daily show.  or the wire.  or the office.  or whatever.

but let’s be honest, here.  i find time to check facebook and google reader oodles of times a day.  i recently read this amazing book in nightly installments.  sure, i needed to read it in order to prepare for my student teaching placement.  but i didn’t need to read it immediately.

immediacy is a word much better reserved for blogging.

so here i am, attempting to make amends.  mostly by posting tons of pictures, like i did so shame-facedly in my last entry.  apparently i haven’t learned from my past mistakes.  some history teacher i’ll make.

on second thought, perhaps i’ll split my many musings into separate entries, thereby reducing the number of pictures in each post and providing myself with a little extra blog padding, so that if another month goes by without any posts it’s not quite such a grievous offense.



enjoy, with my apologies for being a slacker.


jam packed
June 29, 2009, 8:45 pm
Filed under: crafts, food | Tags: ,

it’s been a really long time.  color me ashamed.

the sad truth is that there has been little crafting going on lately.  plenty of reading, and apartment searching, and trips with friends, but precious little sewing and knitting.  weighing it all out, i can’t say i’m all that upset.

recently, however, my crafting has experienced a rebirth.  this is partly due to the fact that my sister-in-law is out of work for the summer, and horribly bored.  even more exciting, however, is the fact that i’m moving into my new apartment in approximately 40 hours, and things like placemats and curtains don’t just make themselves anymore.

so, in an attempt to make up for months of not posting, i will be posting several projects at once.  be forewarned.

first of all, jam.  what can i say about jam?  not much, really.  i don’t eat that much of it, nor had i ever been super inspired to make it myself.  but alli needed some company, and i bought all of those cute jars in canada, so i figured, what the hell.  let’s make some jam. so on wednesday alli and i headed out to new jersey, to a farm much praised by local canners, only to find that their berry season was long over.  blerg.  so we bought some corn and peaches, and headed to linvilla orchards.  i think the last time i went there i was 12 and picking pumpkins with a friend’s family, so it was a little weird, but fun to return.  we spent an hour and a half in the beautiful june sunshine, picking strawberries and rhubarb, trying not to think of the pesticides as we popped a few choice berries into our mouths.  live a little.

with two full boxes of strawberries and rhubarb, and after checking out the farm store, of course, we headed back to philly for the jammin’ action.  i don’t have the patience to go into all of the details here, so enjoy this short summary:

– we washed and cut over 8 pounds of strawberries, preparing some of them with sugar and vanilla to be stored, and leaving the rest out to make jam the next day.

– on thursday, the jamming commenced.  we decided to start out with the rhubarb, because neither of us had any real idea what we were doing, and we figured that we’d rather waste rhubarb than berries.

– the rhubarb was cooked down, pectin was added, and we ended up with some delicious, yet quite sweet, rhubarb vanilla jam.  too sugary for me, but a beautiful purply-red color.

– rhubarb was combined with strawberries to make a strawberry-rhubarb compote, which will no doubt be sinfully delicious on ice cream or pancakes.

– strawberries were cooked down into strawberry jam, which is delicious but also too sweet for me.  i’ve been giving away jars of it as ice cream topping.

in the end, it only took us about 3 hours to make 3 separate batches of goodies, and there was only one significant skin burn (mine) and one significant stove explosion (see pics).  and, despite my general lack of love for jam, i’m totally sold on canning now, and want to can anything and everything i see.  the jars are just so damn cute.

here are the pictures:

alli always knows how to dress for the occasion

alli always knows how to dress for the occasion


how tart is your rhubarb?

how tart is your rhubarb?

rhubarb vanilla jam in the making

rhubarb vanilla jam in the making

luscious berry murder

luscious berry murder

balls to the wall

balls to the wall

the final products

the final products

you better like it

you better like it

big black dog seal of approval

big black dog seal of approval

ethyl loves to jam

ethyl loves to jam

so that’s the story of the “no, we’re not sisters” jam company’s debut line of jams.  more pics are available here.

in less exciting crafting news, but way more exciting personal news, i’m moving into my new apartment on wednesday, and there are many many things to be done.  instead of doing those things, i’ve been making placemats.


the fabric is from ikea, and i added some fun little kicks of color.


if i have time tomorrow, bird-themed napkins will follow.  who am i kidding?  i’ll totally make time.

finally, since i am at long last moving out of the family domicile and into my own place, it occurs to me that i’ll need a new theme for this blog.  i’ll stick with apt2b, but the whole “just mom and pops and me” doesn’t work anymore.  not that i ever wrote about living with them.  you didn’t want to hear it anyway.  but if you have any ideas for a new tagline, send ’em my way.

May 1, 2009, 1:38 pm
Filed under: food, miscellany | Tags:

angry chicken‘s most recent post has alerted me to the fact that my birthday flower, i.e. the flower associated with my specific date of birth, is amaranth.  so of course i checked it out, because i had only heard of amaranth as a crazy healthy grain, and i had not encountered it since my days in the co-op.  the first thing i learned, unfortunately, is that amaranth is commonly known as pigweed.  blerg.  however, further reading left me enlightened and quite pleased with my little flower:

-in greek, “amaranth” means the “one that does not wither,” or the never-fading (flower).

– a traditional food plant in africa, this vegetable has potential to improve nutrition, boost food security, foster rural development and support sustainable landcare.  it is often referred to as “the crop of the future.”   (as it turns out, i also have that potential.  boo yah.)

-amaranth seeds, like buckwheat and quinoa, contain protein that is unusually complete for plant sources; regular consumption reduces blood pressure and cholesterol levels, while improving antioxidant status and some immune parameters. (also true of me)

enya refers to the everlasting amaranth in her song “amarantine“.

yeah, that last one is my favorite, too.

babies be appreciative
April 8, 2009, 11:29 pm
Filed under: crafts | Tags:

so, the quilt was finally finished, just in time for me to wash and dry it before my trip!  it was delivered to its recipients last night, after a delicious dinner of roast chicken, greek-style mashed potatoes, and brownie sundaes.  unfortunately, i had no real means of wrapping the quilt, and it seemed wasteful to buy a gift bag, so it was presented rather unceremoniously in a bryn mawr college campus bookshop bag.  eh.

so, here it is, in all its completed, quilted, fully-bound glory:


all the fabrics shrank just the right amount in the wash, giving it that oh-so-perfect crinkly quilt look and feel.  and the fish, seahorses, and octopi are just as cute post-spin cycle!


this was the first quilt that i’ve bound in a true quilt-binding style, so i was a little nervous about how it would turn out.  it certainly took eons, and my poor fingertips were quite sore at the end, but i think the binding turned out beautifully, and the bright orange really sort of pulls the colors together and brightens up the pale-blue that dominates the front.

and, of course, i had to include one of my nifty tags!


i’m so incredibly happy with this quilt.  it feels like the first “real” quilt i’ve made because each and every square was pieced together,  because i used real batting, instead of just backing it with polar fleece, and because i made a real binding and sewed it on by hand.  and while it’s not the first quilt i’ve given as a gift, the fact that it’s a baby gift for a dear friend makes it extra-special and meaningful.

in the end, despite the lack of wrapping paper and sappy cards, both parents-to-be were very touched and grateful, and when i woke up this morning, tristan informed me that last night, as he lay in bed falling asleep, he was thinking of the quilt.  in his own words:  “i could see the baby on the quilt.”  it doesn’t get any better than that.

babies be gettin’ psyched
March 31, 2009, 1:34 pm
Filed under: crafts | Tags:

progress is being made on the quilt, slowly but surely.  more slowly before, more surely now.  there’s only a week before i head to boston, which means i’ve got to start haulin’ a little quilting ass.  so here’s what i’ve got so far:

all the squares as they'll be laid out in the quilt

all the squares as they'll be laid out in the quilt

the first two rows are complete!

the first two rows are complete!

here are a few of my favorite squares:

seahorses and octopi

seahorses and octopi

ants and octopi

ants and octopi

fish and bugs

fish and bugs

fish and octopi

fish and octopi

apparently i really like octopi.  here’s why.

babies better get ready
March 10, 2009, 12:52 am
Filed under: crafts

a new quilting project has begun!!!!

my friend laurel is pregnant (i believe she will be close friend #3 to birth a child, friend my age #2).  this is weird, but quite exciting.  so, of course, a quilt must be made.  i had dreams of making this quilt all organic, given laurel and her husband’s inclinations towards such things, and my love of all things green.  but alas, organic fabric is either boring as dirt or crazy-expensive.  so then i considered making a scrap quilt, which wouldn’t be organic but wouldn’t involve purchasing anything new.  while this would appeal to both of our sensibilities, as well as my general lack of all things monetary, alas, i don’t really have enough scraps to generate any sort of cohesive color scheme.  soooooo….

i gave in/indulged myself and went to spool, one of the gosh-darn loveliest places in this fair city, and bought oodles of adorable fabric in what i consider to be a gender-neutral color scheme.  here’s a sneak peek (in very poor lighting):


these six fabrics (minus the cat) will be combined in various ways to make 12 different pinwheel squares, which will be arranged in a grid on top of a pretty heather blue background:


then comes my favorite part, the backing:


for the binding i have a super bright orange fabric, similar to the orange in the fish and the seahorses.

i can’t wait to start piecing together my pinwheel squares!  hopefully there will be updates soon.

March 4, 2009, 4:59 pm
Filed under: miscellany | Tags: ,

no real craft-y updates for you.  working on a pretty little scarf, but no pictures yet.  i’ve been busy with GREs and work and editing projects.  i’ve also been rediscovering my diaryland site, which i kept up for a year or two between 2000 and 2002.  that’s right, i was a blogger before anyone even knew what bloggers were.  we were all doin’ it back in those days, and for a long time it was important to me to be able to follow what my friends were up to once we all went our separate ways into academia.  but of course my devotion floundered, and alas, the site was abandoned.  now you can’t even read the entries anymore (apparently my amateur experiments with html weren’t so successful in the long run), but i’ve managed to salvage some from the members page, and i’m compiling a crazy-long word document.  so far i’m already on page 48, and i’ve only covered my first semester of college.  yowza.

don’t worry, i won’t subject all my semi-angsty post-teen blabbing on you, but i do think that from time to time i’ll share one or two that i find particularly amusing or thought provoking.  there will probably be more of the former than the latter, given what i’ve re-read so far.

so without further ado, here is your first gem:

Behold the power of feet

Last night, I was doing my laundry in the spacious basement laundry room that is supposed to be for the upperclassmen in the adjacent building but which I so stealthily discovered.  This spacious laundry room not only has six washers and six dryers (as opposed to the puny four in our laundry room), but the dryers are the cool kind with windows in the front, so that you can watch your clothes spin ceaselessly as they dry.  It’s a good time, I assure you.  Beats studying for finals, anyway.  </P><P></P><P>So, I was sitting with my barefeet against the dryer window so that they could absorb the heat, and I was watching my jeans and my red handkerchief and my cow socks chase each other around.  And I noticed the tattoo on my right foot, and started thinking about how it will always be there, even when I’m forty and sitting in my house somewhere, with a family and a job and hopefully some semblance of a life.  And I started to wonder if, when I was noticing my tattoo as a forty year old, I would remember sitting in that laundry room and watching my clothes spin.  And it made me really sad, because in twenty years I might not remember little events like that, and they’re the ones I enjoy most.  Leaning my feet against a hot dryer and watching my clothes spin.  Walking down Thayer St. in the freezing cold with my friends and laughing like crazy.  Watching Seth and Claire wrestle and kick at each other, and watching Claire win.  Those are the times when I stop and think about how much I really like it here, and I’m worried that those are the times I won’t remember.  </P><P></P><P>I hope in forty years I can look at my tattoo and remember sitting in that dirty old laundry room, and be able to feel the heat of the dryer on the bottoms of my feet, and remember that even though I was exhausted and I had endless amounts of studying to do, I was really content to just sit there and watch my clothes.  Hopefully, after thinking and writing about it, it will be one of those silly little memories that never leaves me.


want to hear something funny?  i’d totally forgotten all about that moment and everything i thought at the time until i rediscovered this entry.  sigh.  so much for preserving funny wacky little memories.

and for any of you old-school diarylanders who are interested (i’m talking to you, little miss cocoa), you can still access your old pages on diaryland.  and the site still looks exactly the same as it did way back when.  pastel purple till you puke!  yay for some things never changing!