Friday, October 31, 2008

All Hallows Eve....MWAHAHAHAHAHA!

Happy Halloween everyone! I've bedecked our still messy abode with a few haunting decorations I made last year. On our table we are representing lindt chocolate with our little pumpkin tin and godiva chocolate with the ADORABLE little black cat box. Yum!

Hubby and I are going to the Wild Wing Halloween party tonight - I'm dressing as a batty witch, and he's dressing as a Chicago gangster. The bats in the picture below have been hanging on our door for the last month, but last night they ended up on my witch hat :) Hence, I'm batty. I'll also be sporting moon earrings, a little black dress, long black gloves, and some spooktacular makeup.

Hubby dearest will be sporting some awesome white spats I made for him last night, as well as a black fedora, a dark grey suit and a mustache. We're also going to try getting a cheapo clip-on tie for him and rig it with wire to look like the wind is blowing it - Chicago is a windy city after all :)

I will hopefully have some really cool costume pictures to share soon. Have fun eating tons of candy! The only candy I'm counting on is the sale candy tomorrow :)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Christmas Plans!

I am so very excited about Christmas this year - my family is planning to come to Hilton Head this year for a week, and thanks to my mother-in-law's timeshare, we have a super cheap and super nice condo for overflow. Yay! My mom and I are about to burst with excitement - this year is all about quality time and food. We're skipping gift-giving and sticking to making ornaments, baking cookies and cooking. My mom is planning to bring her brand new sewing machine so we have two machines making cute ornaments. Here are some of the ornaments I made for her last year...

This one was actually done while I was at work in NYC (hehe). During my more quiet and secluded moments, I would cut out circles from old Christmas cards and glue them into this awesome shape. I got the pattern here from Martha Stewart (Heather Bailey did something very similar for Valentine's Day here). These are gorgious when they're finished and light as a feather - perfect for those delicate branches that can't hold much weight.

Here's another lightweight ornament - I got this knitted tree pattern from Elizabeth Zimmermann's "Christmas Fiddle Faddle in the Wilds" chapter of the Knitter's Almanac. I also knitted up some stars, and definitely plan to do it again this year. It's a great way to use up yarn scraps.

This one is a soft tree pattern I got from sewmamasew. This was so much fun! I basically just cut out tiny circles of fabric scraps and sewed a curvy line through each of them, then sewed on some sparkly beads, and wrapped it with some candy-cane string from my local NY bakery. It's like a little sugar plum tree :)

Of course I had to make some bird ornaments one of my all time favorite books, Last-Minute Patchwork + Quilted Gifts. They take way longer than I had thought, but I definitely wanna make more this year.

After looking at the beautiful embroidery over at Wee Wonderfuls, I just had to try some of my own. The house ornament below is a portrait of my parent's log home. It was a very sentimental ornament to make, and I was so pleased it was recognizable :) The front is canvas and the back is a piece of Laura Ashley fabric from a thrifted dress.

For the other stuffed, embroidered ornament, I did a bear in red. I drew inspiration for this from a woman's printed fabric I found online, but I totally can't find it again. Oh well.

I'm also gonna use up my straw supply to make more straw stars. I got the materials from a Christmas craft kit when I was a kid, and the pattern from this book. This year I'm also gonna make some 3d geometric ornaments from that book. I have some gold and silver paper of some kind for that purpose - you can't beat free, handmade ornaments!

My lovely sisters decided to hang this in my hair last year - not a bad hair accessory. I love love love LOVE straw star ornaments. They are traditional in the most Christmassy parts of the world, like Switzerland, Sweden, Finland and the Ukraine. Plus, they remind me of something from a Jan Brett book. My other big ornament plan is to use the wooden bead curtain my sister gave me in college as cranberry garlands. You can see my mom's canberry strands in some of the pictures above, and they are some of the most sentimental Christmas decorations of all time for me. I'll just spray paint my beads red and string 'em up. I can't wait!!!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Gone Fishin'

Hello there! I have great news - my mother-in-law's brain tumor is shrinking! The doctors at Duke still don't know what it is, but while it shrinking, they're not going to touch it. She'll go back for another MRI in a month to make sure it continues to shrink. I'm so happy and hopeful!

Hubby and I live at a marina, so we have access to a great fishing spot which is just a short walk away. We went fishing yesterday, and man was it COLD! It was in the sixties and the wind was blowing pretty hard. Nonetheless, we had fun - hubby caught two little fish, and I caught one. I also "caught" a blue crab which was hanging on to my bait for dear life :) I tried to grab my camera in time, but he finally gave up and fell back into the water. I wonder if these fish and crabs go back to their families swearing they were just abducted by aliens.

This little guy is a black sea bass - unintentionally I took this picture from an angle that makes it look way bigger than it is :) None of the fish we caught were big enough to be legal, but we got really lucky when some elderly fishermen gave us two big redfish for free! Gotta love free food.

So we cleaned the fish, for me it was the first time. It would have been easier with a filet knife, but we got most of the meat off with a steak knife. I dredged the filets in egg then flour, seasoned with salt and pepper, then pan-fried them in extra virgin olive oil. MAN they were good. I hope we can catch some of these on our own so we get this meal more often!

Fishing is an activity I would probably not do on my own, but I am coming to enjoy it more and more through my hubby's enthusiasm. It's acutally quite relaxing, you find yourself thinking of nothing other than the water ripples and the odd passing fancy. Plus, I absolutely LOVE the idea of self-subsistance wherever possible, so walking a short way to catch extremely fresh salt-water fish seems too good to be true, especially with the economy crashing all around. Free, healthy food is hard to beat.
Over the past month, I have found myself desperate for Christmas. I think I really need my family all around me after all the changes and crises I've been through lately. This year my family is coming to Hilton Head for Christmas, which is going to be SO MUCH FUN! I am trying to plan out what ornaments I can gather and make, and what food to cook for Christmas dinner. Already I have been gathering beautiful pinecones and sewing patterns for ornament making. Soon I'll post some pictures of ornaments I made for my mother last year - I'm getting into full-on Christmas mode early this year :) I can't wait!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Our New Home

I wanted to share a few pictures of our new home - at least the outside of it :) Once we get some furniture in place and throw out all the moving boxes I'll be showing you the inside. Hubby and I are still hopping around in circles over the view. I'm not sure that you can see it in this picture, but there are all kinds of yachts and boats coming and going and docking in the marina. So much cooler than cars!

We also have several neighborhood cats who are domesticated and think they are wild jungle cats who wander around in this jungly back yard and drape themselves over tree limbs like panthers. They also brutally murdered a squirrel which I'm not very happy about.

Oh yes, updates on the cockroach battlefront - I haven't seen a single monster sized cockroach since my last post! Woohoo! We had pest control come in and nuke the place, which made me nervous for our health....but then I did see a little roach type bug and thought, well if he made it through the poison, surely I can survive it. I did have to kill a big spider last night. A harrowing experience I tell you - it's extremely difficult to squash things on carpet. Ew.

Walking on the beach is wonderful therapy. All of your worries seem to drift away in the roar of the waves. All that openness is like taking the deepest breath possible and letting it out nice and slowly. AHHHHH... It's also fun to watch these new surfing dudes - they hook themselves to a parachute style device and catch some amazing air. I'm still not sure what physics are involved in keeping them from flying away. In the picture above you can see a guy doing it, but the parachute thingy is too high up to fit in the picture.

Here he is catching some air while us lesser beach crawlers gawk. How cool is that?!?

Now I leave you with a picture of some stained glass creations from my uber-talented G'ma. She is the coolest grandmother in the world - she is from New Zealand, eats marmite (yuck yuck yuck, but cool!), gardens like nobody's business, is a hula dancer, has an un-be-liev-able koi pond complete with fountain which is on a pond tour (yes, a pond tour), and is the craftiest lady I know. She knits, paints, crochets, quilts, sews, cuts stained glass, cooks, and generally anything else you can think of. She even used to be a jewelry model when she was younger, and she is a published poet! I'm sure I will be sharing more of her life story and artistic accomplishments in future posts. She is giving me her old quilting frame, so I can't wait to get started!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Stupid in Charleston

Hubby and I went adventuring in Charleston yesterday, and man is it a unique place! He had a doctor's appointment there that morning (which I believe we will rethink in the future considering its a two hour drive), so we went tripping around the downtown for a few hours before heading home. This is where "stupid" comes in - we realized while walking all over everywhere that we had parked our car in a random parking garage and had NO IDEA how to get back to it. All we remembered was that we walked through a bunch of winding back streets when we left it! Trying very hard not to panic we asked around and checked every parking garage we could find. BAHAHA! Just had to have a laugh at myself. Fortunately our good spirits stayed intact, found the car, and had a good chuckle on the way home. Charleston reminded me of Mexico because it was so open and quiet, and also of Europe because it is so extremely old for us young whipper snapper Americans. I always imagined it was very much like Boston, but it has a totally different feel. I didn't fall head over heels, but I really enjoyed visiting! I found this awesome tin sign in the downtown market that reminded SO much of my mother I had to call her (she has coffee running through her veins). We both laughed so much about it she just had to have it, so I will always remember our silly day-trip when I visit Mom's kitchen :)