Finalizing Christmas and old friends

Yesterday was none too pleasant and found me having a panic attack, curled up in the fetal position on my bed because I ran out of packing tape to ship presents. Needless to say, packing tape was not the real issue, and I spent the last few minutes before literally dragging myself up for work trying to pinpoint exactly what is eating away at me.

I thought I had worked some of it out, and I emailed an old friend who is as removed from my life as anyone, yet still as close to me as if I were 16 again. I woke up this morning to a response from someone who had clearly read between the lines and figured it out. I am grateful for that, and the only bittersweet part about it is my regret at not spending more time with this person when we were close.

So I went to work, and my dear coworkers all made the night worth working. Albeit there were a series of a very bitter and rude customers (Ho ho ho, assholes), the night was actually quite fun, and I found myself more than pleased to be in the precinct. Again, I am blessed.

Finally, upon walking into the dark house at around 11:30, I found a roll of packing tape stacked neatly on top of one of the packages that I will be sending out today. My husband may not have gotten the earful (eyeful?) of my angst/panic/disappointment yesterday, but what he did know about (and could fix), he did.

None of these things solve the problem, but I hope that they can help curb the impatience and fear and anger over this whole school situation. And perhaps the reason for it will become clear in a reasonable time, so that I’m not slapping my forehead one year from now saying “oh!”

In other news that you likely will be more interested in, Christmas is basically done. I am going to cave and buy Eric a few more things (they will be in his +10 Bag of Practicality), and I am starting on the Christmas game today, but otherwise: Mission Accomplished.

While I will still post separately about the other projects that Eric and I undertook for our edible gifts, I just want to celebrate actually finishing something this week.

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The gifts, arrayed on the table and sorted
The gifts, arrayed on the table and sorted
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A sideways image of the CD I made for Joey

Now I have packing tape, so I am going to seal the boxes and walk them down to the post office to send off. The CD I made for Joe is probably my favorite; per my mother’s request, I put together an ensemble of super hero music, both score and lyrical. I hope he enjoys it, and I hope that my decision to keep Robot Rock by Daft Punk off of the disc helps maintain my mother’s sanity.

More on the specifics later, and also…new brakes!

For now, keep it crafty.

 

Sweet as vinegar

In addition to the peach-honey butter, apple butter, pickles, salsa, chips, and apple sauce that I threw together this year for Christmas gifts, I also decided to make my mom some cranberry-orange vinegar, since she eats a lot of salad. I thought it might make a nice, quasi-festive (read: cranberries) vinegar that she could use in a dressing.

Here is how I did that:

A half cup of cranberries and an orange. Whatever shall I do with these?
A half cup of cranberries and an orange. Whatever shall I do with these?

Certain men failed to read the “6 Cups” of white wine vinegar, so I had only two cups, thus my only having a half cup and one orange.  I used frozen cranberries because, well, they’re not easy to get fresh ’round here.

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Sliced oranges and cranberries in a bowl.

I cut up the orange and the cranberries (as much as I could cut up tiny fruits) and put them in bowl. I crushed them slightly with another bowl and poured in the vinegar.

The dust helps it ferment faster.
The dust helps it ferment faster.

I place the covered bowl of fruit and vinegar on a bookshelf where it would stay cool. It sat there for ten days.

Crushed fruit in vinegar...still.
Crushed fruit in vinegar…still.

This is what it looked like when I opened it again to finish up. Mmmmm.

That's not cheese!
That’s not cheese!

I used a sieve and cheesecloth (just to be safe!) to drain the vinegar and separate the chunky bits. It was nice and red and, again, festive.

The last part was just putting it in a nice jar. I didn’t bother processing it, so mom will have to use it fast. (Read that, mom? Make some delicious salad dressing when it gets to you!)

I tasted a tiny bit before sending it, and I will say that it is a very subtle taste. I think if you are not a fan of vinegar, you would want to let the fruit soak a bit longer. This made me a little antsy to try raspberry vinegar next.

I have tomorrow and Wednesday off (hooray!), so I will have to write a few more posts for the remaining projects. I ship everything tomorrow, but I took plenty of pictures. For instance – tortilla chips! CDs! Etc! And I’ll post pictures as I start/work on/finish the board game I am making for gift opening on Christmas.

Keep it crafty!

 

 

 

Koch’s snowflake

My canning is done. All that is left is making cookies, chips to go with the salsa, and decorating. I performed an exhaustive search for ideas and felt no inspiration. I am not entirely sure if this is because of the hour, my generally foul mood, or that there is not much out there.

I finished the peach butter jars a while ago, along with their adorable fabric covers and fancy ribbon stuff. They’re not bad, really, and I should probably just do the same for the other gifts, but it seems so…blah. And, apparently, the most common decoration for canning jars is fabric, cutesy ribbon, and tags.

Well…challenge accepted.

These are Christmas gifts, and I suppose the theme is something along the lines of staying warm in the winter (salsa, soup, etc). I might do the fabric trick on some of the items, but in my slightly buzzed, under-the-weather, and half-asleep state, I thought it would be way cooler to do something more wintery. And something involving paint.

But that’s simply not enough! It needs to be quintessentially Sam.

Thus I decided I should probably do something math related, something with fractals. Enter Koch’s snowflake:

Von koch's snowflake
Von koch’s snowflake

This is a fractal that is made up of increasingly tiny triangles, though strictly speaking the snowflake is made up of three of Koch’s curves, but that’s really not an issue. The point is…how cool!

This then led me on a tangent (ah ha! Math joke!) looking for math crafts, and I couldn’t find a one that interested me. That was mostly because they were aimed for children more than adults. And as charming as an abacus made of pony beads of adding lily pads are, they are not quite what I am looking for.

So fractals it is, and, again, challenge accepted.

I need to sleep.

Another birthday

Yesterday Eric and I drove to Lake Odessa to visit with Mark’s family and celebrate October birthdays (Eric and Mark, in fact). Since Eric already got his gift, I didn’t bring it with us, but he got some very thoughtful gifts from the folks there.

Mark is my mother-in-law’s boyfriend, and he is a wonderful man. He is very generous, thoughtful, and he is super geeky, so we get along great. He bought the furniture that is in our guest room, and he is basically just a great person. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do for him, but after they came over for dinner one night, and he seemed very appreciative of my homemade pasta, I decided to make him “Italian Dinner in a Basket.”

I forgot to get pictures, but here’s the process:

1. I opened a beer and played some Hugo on my iTunes.

2. I made some sauce from scratch. At the suggestion of my mom, who is brilliant, I cooked the tomatoes for about an hour instead of just blending them right away. I blanched them first, peeled them, chopped them, then let them simmer in oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, and spices. This was the best sauce I have made yet.

3. I have semolina flour finally! So I did half semolina, half all purpose, and I made some fettuccine with my pasta maker.

4. I canned the sauce and let the noodles dry over night. Then I bagged the noodles.

5. We bought a middle-of-the-road wine (Mark used to work at a winery, actually) and included that in the basket.

6. I wrote an instruction card, and we covered the whole lot in a nice dish towel.

We also made him a card. I bought a pack of photo cards (you put your own photo in there) on my last day at Michaels, and we painted the front to make it look less…white.

It was quite a hit! And, fittingly, my sister-in-law gave him a decorative cork holder. In vino veritas, my friends!

So now it’s onto my mom’s birthday gift and then Christmas. I am getting excited about it all. I am also getting psyched for NaNoWriMo, and it will be interesting to see how I fit writing and crafting and cooking and full time retail in together.

Coming up next: I will turn an over sized t-shirt into a fitted tee! Theoretically.

It’s October!

And that means one month left to NaNoWriMo!

They reset their site every October, though, and that means that I spent about an hour today writing a synopsis for my novel idea this year. And I am not exaggerating, by the way; it really did take me that long. I think at one point I had one sentence written, and I just stared at it, hoping it would self-procreate, dividing itself into more sentences.

It did not, by the way, in case you were wondering.

But I did eventually come up with something that I could stand. I also posted an excerpt, and I also drew the cover!

Version 1! Silhouette not colored in.

The inspiration for the cover was hurricane meets James Bond. I wasn’t sure how to make the hurricane completely obvious, but, really, I don’t care. Final product is below.

Silhouette shaded

Overall, I was pleased with the outcome, and the synopsis I thought was fairly well balanced.

I also have some upcoming news. I got some good news today, but it won’t be complete until Thursday. I will have to post again then.

Progress on Eric’s gift is promising. I have a solid idea finally, and I am making progress. I will post when able, and I will start on Christmas soon!

So much going on…so little time! And November will be spent writing mostly. Crap. I didn’t think about that. Best get to it!

 

Upcoming projects….but first!

In light of my craftilicious job news yesterday, I rewarded myself with new walking/running shoes and a new crafty book: Improv Sewing. As a new stichin’ bitch, I actually kind of suck at using patterns and seeking perfection, so this book seemed like a great way to maneuver around all of that. I’ve already bookmarked all of the projects I’m ready to tackle next week(ish) between my shifts.

Look at all those post-its!

Projects Include:

1. “Meandering Cardigan”, which uses a t-shirt, so hooray for upcycling!

2. Personalized Project Folder

3. Fabric Photo Frame

4. Wall art

5. Sketched window sheers

6. Memo board

7. Produce bags – instead of using those plastic ones all the time! These are made with muslin, so they are reusable. Green = great.

8. Reversible graphic belt

9. Dress shirt wrap – I cannot tell you how many men’s dress shirts we have in this house, many of them unworn. So…I’ll be remedying that. Hooray for upcycling (again)!

While perusing all of these fabulous sewing projects, a few snags came to mind. One, I was being harassed by my sweet kitty.

It is difficult to sew or craft when there is a cute cat in your lap/arms.

Two, my craft room is a wreck. Seriously, it looks like a tornado came through here, followed by an epic battle between the X-Men and the Brotherhood of Mutants, which, actually, would also explain the tornado (thanks, Storm).

You can kind of see my sewing machine there, under the various scraps and items to be re-hemmed because they were made cheaply and are unraveling.

Three, I haven’t had my machine serviced since, um, ever. Surely by now I have done about 8 hours worth of sewing, so I need to probably take that sucker in for a good oiling and basic maintenance before I take on a book of sewing projects.

Luckily, I live a hop, skip, and a jump away from Field’s Fabrics, so it looks like I’ll be making a visit there on Tuesday or Monday, before taking on my joyful projects. Besides, I need a whole lot of cotton jersey fabric to tackle these projects anyway.

Today, then, my creativity will go into making this room more organized. Or at least give the appearance of that. Because, um, yeah. You saw the picture.

Heading out of town for the weekend, so I will leave you with one of the demotivational posters I made for my father-in-law last night for his bday. Have a great weekend yourself! And keep crafting because it’s super fun. Even when it’s not.

This is a joke because he had this game for two years and only recently stickered them. Because we helped him.