Wednesday, February 20, 2008

You've just finished your dream home, what are you going to do now?

For almost a year my husband has been hard at work remodeling our home. Actually, I wouldn't exactly call it a remodel. When I hear "remodel", I think of putting in a new floor or maybe tearing down a wall to open up a room. We tore down almost the entire house (except for one wall) and rebuilt it from the ground up. We had to move out during the project and have been living in an apartment about 5 minutes away from the house.

It was a lot of hard work and we didn't see much of each other, which is tough on the kids. Many of our friends who survived a remodel, warned us it would be tough on the marriage too. My husband and I would work all day during our day job. Then come evening, he would head to the house and work there until midnight. I would pick the kids up from school, get them situated with dinner, homework, baths, and then get them to bed. Sometimes I'd still be up when he got home and we'd talk for a bit before we both went to sleep. But many times I'd already be asleep and he'd be up at the crack of dawn to start the next day. Sometimes it would be days before we'd catch a glimpse of each other! But 9 months later we're finally finished and we're moving back in this week. I feel like we just won the Superbowl :) and if some unseen reporter were to say "You've just finished your dream home, what are you going to do now?" Why, I'd tell them, "We're going home!"

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Recently Added to the Shop: Stylish Skirts - Japanese Sewing Book

Freshly added to the shop, this book has 20 skirts you can sew for yourself and includes paper patterns. All text is in Japanese only but the directions are clearly illustrated.

Please visit my etsy shop for more info!

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Monday, February 18, 2008

Recent Sewing Projects: Zippered Pouch and Pencil Roll

Zippered Pouch
I finished 2 sewing projects last week. One is a zippered pouch with an adorable hedgehog print, which is a japanese linen fabric from superbuzzy.

I used a stiff interfacing called Peltex so that it would keep its shape. The Peltex was from Joann's -- I used a 50% off coupon and got a whole roll of it at a great price. The inside is lined with brown cotton, which I handstitched in place.

Pencil Roll
For the pencil roll I used a great japanese linen printed fabric, again from superbuzzy! Its got pink mushrooms and trees on the pattern and I lined the inside with brown cotton. It will hold 12 colored pencils. For this project I used a felt interfacing, which is much softer and was a better choice for the pencil roll.

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Saturday, February 16, 2008

Valentine's Day Dessert: Chocolate Strawberries

For Valentine's Day, the kids and I made chocolate covered strawberries. Yummy!

You can find a lot of great recipes that have you using a thermometer and double boiler to make these, but I wanted to keep things simple. We used a Baker's dipping chocolate bowl and a Ghirardelli white chocolate baking bar, and just melted the chocolate in the microwave.

First I washed and dried all the strawberries.

Next we placed the Baker's chocolate bowl in the microwave and heated for 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between heating until the chocolate was all melted. Then I chopped up the white chocolate baking bar into small pieces, placed it into a microwave-safe bowl and heated it the same way.

The kids had fun dipping the strawberries in the chocolate. We placed each strawberry on a baking sheet as we worked, then we tried drizzling the white chocolate over them. It didn't come out so well...instead of nice drizzles we ended up with thick globs of white chocolate. Oh well, it was delicious nonetheless!

For a great tutorial with pictures and step-by-step directions, check out:
Last Minute Gifts: Chocolate Covered Strawberries

This tutorial is what inspired me, although I opted for the much-easier route and used the microwave, and no thermometer! The next time, if presentation is a lot more critical, I will try the tutorial. As you can see from the tutorial pics those strawberries came out beautifully.

Here's what we used:
Baker's dipping chocolate bowl
Ghirardelli white chocolate baking bar

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Monday, February 11, 2008

Discovering New Music

Music washes away from the soul the dust of every day life. -Berthold Auerbach

It's never been easier than it is now, to discover new music, and I love that.

When I was younger I would listen to my favorite radio stations waiting for "my songs" to play. And if I heard something new that I liked, I'd wait to see if the DJ would mention the artist. If they didn't, I'd agonize that I didn't know who that was! But that was before the Internet.

I admit, I don't listen to the radio much anymore. I have CD's loaded in my car and my ipod with me wherever I go. But I do still listen to the radio at times and if I hear something new, it's okay if the DJ doesn't say who it is! I try to remember a few of the lyrics and later type it in google search. And lo and behold, I'll find web pages with song lyrics or artist information. If I do a search on youtube, I can watch the music video or concert performance. Here's an example, where I've typed in a few words from Ingrid Michaelson's song "The Way I Am" (I LOVE this song!):

The first item in the list is the music video. The second (with the white letters, and blue background) is just the song. Sometimes people just load the music with no video, which is cool too. I realize close to 100% of the population knows this, and all know you can bookmark these on youtube and listen to it anytime you want. But I just started doing this on my computer and my iphone (a gift from my husband) and I think it's great! It's perfect for when I need my new favorite song "fix" and haven't had a chance to download it from itunes yet. Hey, it's the simple things that make me happy.

So here's my new favorite song:

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Baby Shower Gift: Handmade Blanket

Blanket for Baby Joseph
Originally uploaded by purlyshells
For a co-worker's baby shower, I whipped up this really cute blanket. I love the fabric (from Jo-Anns). It's got little animals on there that sort of look like foxes! But I'm thinking they are squirrels because of the little acorns that are also on the print.

I used an olive colored binding, and a creme colored flannel fabric for the other side of the blanket. It still took me some time to cut the fabric and do the binding, but it's probably one of the easier gifts for me to make. Baby blankets are actually my favorite gifts for showers! I often gift it with a baby/parenting book, or a blank journal, or sometimes a CD of lullabies.

Look what someone else made with the same fabric: a really cute baby kimono!

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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

A few of my favorite flickr photos and groups

This is a screenshot of some favorite photos I've "starred" on flickr.

I get a lot of inspiration from these images. I am drawn to different areas of interest. Some of these pictures belong to various groups I'm subscribed to, others I found when I did random searches for things like "embroidery" or "robots" (the theme used for a recent party).

If you're interested in viewing more photos like these, here are some cool flickr groups to check out:

Go To Your Room! Kids Rooms at home
Since we are remodeling, I like looking at these pictures to get decorating ideas for my boys' rooms. I also like finding better ways to organize.

Japanese Magazines and MOOKs
I love Japanese craft books. They are so inspiring with so many beautifully photographed projects. In this flickr group, people upload pictures from their favorite japanese craft magazines. There is also a lot of helpful information like places where you can buy Japanese magazines or tips on translating a pattern.

Homemade Crafts for Boys
I like getting ideas on things i can make for my boys from here!

I love looking at things people have made with their gocco. It's really inspiring. Some creative person even posted a picture tutorial on how to make a gocco christmas card.

There are quite a few picture tutorials on flickr. Here are some of my favorites:
Bottlecap pincushions
Stencil Shirt Tutorial

Join a Flickr group

Once you find one you like, if you want to join it, from that group's page just click on the "Join this group" link.

Joining a group allows you to view recent activities in that group (from the top menu look under Groups for the groups you belong to). It also allows you to add any of your own pictures to those groups you've joined.

If you have a picture you want to send to a group just select "send to group" and then select whichever group from your list of groups.

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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Dinner at Asqew Grill

(Photo taken with my iPhone)

Last night the kids and I had my husband to ourselves, so we went out to dinner. The last 8 months that we've been remodeling, he's usually working at the house but last night he got a free pass! (The electricians temporarily shut down the power)

We decided to check out a new restaurant our friends' recommended. Since this was our first time at Asqew Grill we stared at the menu for a few minutes. The lady at the counter said "I've tried everything on the menu and whatever you decide you can't go wrong". She says she even eats there on the days she's not working. I had a good feeling about this place already.

We ordered grilled veggies as an appetizer. My older boy ordered the ribs w/ mashed potatoes, my husband the seared ahi, and I got the cilantro chicken with coconut jasmine rice. The baby shared with me. Most of the things there comes on a skewer, except the ribs haha.

My little one, who is usually a picky eater loved his dinner. We were all pretty happy. Definitely going back there again!

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Saturday, February 02, 2008

Celebrating our Anniversary: Dinner at LaFondue

Dinner at La Fondue
Originally uploaded by purlyshells
LaFondue Restaurant is one of our all-time favorite places to go. We rarely go out without the kids but last night we got a sitter and went there to celebrate our wedding anniversary. Wow, 4 years flew by.

Fondue is basically a Swiss dish where you dip bits of food into a communal pot filled with melted cheese. If you've never had it, you should at least try it once. It's a really fun dining experience. Whenever we go to LaFondue, we plan on spending between 2-3 hours there.

They have a great menu and you can choose from a variety of meats, cheeses, cooking methods, and chocolate. We ordered what they call their "La Romantique" dinner combination which is a 4 course meal. It comes with a salad, cheese fondue, the main entree, and chocolate fondue for dessert.

The chef salad is really really good. They give you this huge plate full of lettuce chopped into bite-sized pieces, grated carrots, sliced mushrooms, and these yummy meat and cheese pinwheels. They top it with grated cheese and dressing. It is a great salad but you have to pace yourself and not eat the whole thing or you won't have room for anything else.

For the cheese fondue, we chose the Cajun Beer and Shrimp. It's a toss up between that and the Stinking Rose -- we usually get one or the other. They're both delicious. They give you pieces of bread and veggies to dip into the cheese. We didn't leave much in the pot by the time we were done -- we wiped it clean. So much for pacing ourselves!

Our main entree came with filet mignon, chicken, and shrimp. There are different types of cooking methods. We chose the grill -- the other methods all involve boiling your food in flavored oil, bouillon, or different bisques. We love the grilling method the best. The meat comes sliced in small, thin pieces and you just put it on the grill and cook it together. You get a half dozen little containers of sauces that you can dip the meat into. I always ask for extra of the teriyaki wasabi sauce. Yummy!

Last but not least, the chocolate fondue for dessert. You can get milk, white, or bittersweet and can add different liquors/flavorings. Simple is best I say. We always get the plain bittersweet and it is heaven. They give you a plate full of sliced strawberries/bananas/oranges, pieces of snickers candy, marshmallows, and little balls of rice krispies and cookie dough to dip into the chocolate. It is absolutely delicious. Poor Kurt was too full to have much of dessert but I made sure I left room. It was all part of the plan...all the more for me haha!

If your server knows you are celebrating something, they'll come by with a polaroid camera and take your picture. We have one more to add to our collection :)

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