Saturday, October 31, 2009

BOO! Happy Halloween, Everyone!

I completely forgot to mention in yesterday's podcast that I was going to post a photo of two of my very scary ancestors in honor of this very spooky day. Here they are!

Aren't they a fright??? Actually that's two of my sisters made up for Halloween several years ago. I understand that they really scared the neighborhood kids! (And I promised not to reveal their names...)


Podcast 004: Cross Stitch, Soft-Block Carving, Soup Beautiful Soup!, and Letterboxing

CLICK HERE to listen to Podcast 004. Right click on the link and save it to your hard drive, or better yet, so you don't miss future podcasts, subscribe using one of the links to the right.
Total length of this podcast: 40:00 minutes

You can download the MP3 audio file (which can be played in iTunes or other multimedia players) and skip to whatever segment interests you -- check the minute marker for each segment.


Today's bumper music is an original guitar piece I call Belleville Blues.

Here's a photo of the costume I made for Teddy this year. He's in his second year (although he has junior standing) at the University of Michigan's College of Engineering where he's majoring in Chemical Engineering. The costume is an anime character called Organization XIII from the video game Kingdom Hearts. He ended up making a couple of modifications to the costume himself (the first time he ever used a needle and thread ! LOL!)

Here's Teddy's Christmas gift. I'm also going to make an earwarmer for him based on the scarf pattern. (Don't worry, he doesn't bother to read his old Mother-De-Mums's blog!)

Here's a photo from the crochet book I like, Happy Hooker Stitch 'n Bitch Crochet by Debbie Stoller. (By the way, Podcast listener gave me a heads up to check the book's Web site for corrections to some of the patterns!) I am hoping to make this sweater by Christmastime. It's on page 202 of the book. No, that's not a picture of me! One can dream!

Here's a photo of this podcast's Alice in Wonderland redwork, The Cheshire Cat. CLICK HERE to download the free pattern.

THE FIBER ARTS SEGMENT [Podcast minute marker: 9:02]
Here's a photo of Titus Andronicus, my son's newest kitten, playing with today's project, the Hearts and Violets Cousinet Biscornu. OK, it's not really a cat toy -- it's actually a pin cushion, but tell that to the cat!

CLICK HERE to download the Hearts and Violets Cousinet Biscornu project sheet.
Here's a slideshow of just a few of my mom's cross stitch creations. I wish I had better photos, but I took these 10 years ago.
Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: My Mother's Cross Stitch
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Here's a really great software program you can use to design your own professional-level cross stitch patterns: Pattern Maker for Cross Stitch by Hobby Ware

THE PAPER ARTS SEGMENT [Podcast minute marker: 15:46] 

CLICK HERE to download my tutorial Soft-Block Carving 101.

Here are accompanying photos for the tutorial.

Tools and supplies you'll need

Cutting the eraser
Exercise 1

Exercise 1, Continued

Exercise 2

Exercise 2, Continued

Exercise 3

Exercise 3, Continued


Linoleum (Lino) Cutters and Gouges

Soft Block

Here's a picture of my version of wood cut artist Albrecht Durer's Rhinoceros from 1515. My carving was featured in Rubberstampmadness magazine several years ago. Yes, this is something you can accomplish after my next tutorial, Soft-Block Carving 201!

 THE RECIPE SEGMENT [Podcast minute marker 26:51]

Today's recipe is Savory Crock Pot Split Pea Soup With Ham.

CLICK HERE to download the recipe.

THE GRAB BAG [Podcast minute marker: 32:00]

See you on the trail!

And remember,
Creativity isn't a race...
it's an adventure!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Bread Baking and Crocheting and a Challenge! OH MY!

Today I baked pain de mie, which is French sandwich bread. I make a loaf every two weeks. It is baked in a special pan that is 16 x 4 x 4 inches with a top. This means that it is perfectly square when it comes out of the pan. It's perfect for French toast, grilled cheese, or as a replacement for bland, spongy Wonderbread. Here's a photo of the loaf right out of the pan.

And here is a sandwich I just made with Dietz and Watson London Broil lunchmeat from my favorite deli (so rare that I swear it says "moo!" when you poke it!), chopped cole slaw, sliced onion, and homemade mustard. I promise to provide my recipe for mustard in an upcoming podcast. If you like hot and sweet mustard, this is for you!

I've been crocheting more and more, determined to get good at it. I'm surprised at how easy it has become, but I think my stitches are still a little tight. I'm working on a hat right now that is supposed to be for Ted, but it seems small -- I'll probably donate it to our Mitten Tree at church during Advent. I am sure a child will love it! I also designed and made a "neck warmer," which is my way of saying, "Ooops! I didn't buy enough yarn of this particular type to make a real scarf!" Here's a photo. It's a beautiful yarn, very, very soft, and the store (Knit A Round in Ann Arbor) had only one skein in their "orphan bin." It's actually a nice little size to wrap once around my neck with my winter coat.

Instructions are, chain however many stitches you want in multiples of 2 and add 3. Then skip the first 3 chains, double crochet in the next chain, skip a chain, double crochet, etc. until the end of the row. Chain 3, turn, and repeat! Do that until your yarn runs out. If you want fringe, stop somewhere in the middle, figure out how much fringe you want, cut it from the other end of the skein, then continue. This stitch, by the way, is called the Mesh Stitch. It's also the basis for Filet Crochet, which I'll figure out one of these days!

By the way, I've taken a number of crochet books out of the library, and by far my favorite is The Happy Hooker Stitch 'n Bitch Crochet (click the book's title to see it on by Debbie Stoller. This book was recommended by my friend Kathie's daughter Jeannie. It's a HOOT! And the projects are just wonderful -- things I would actually wear, not old lady afghans. (Um, not that there's anything wrong with afghans!) I'm crazy about the sweater on page 202, so maybe I'll actually get the courage to give it a try!

If it wasn't for my podcast, and the encouragement of my sister Pat and my friend Kathie, I would never have tried crochet. So here's a challenge: Select a hobby or art, do a little research, and give it a try! If you do (and I sincerely hope you do!), please email me and tell me all about it -- success or failure!


Monday, October 26, 2009

Since Halloween's Getting Close...

First of all, here's a photo of the pumpkin I carved Saturday. The quality isn't super, but I didn't want to use the flash because you wouldn't be able to appreciate the pumpkin-glowing-goodness of it!

And here is a little slideshow of some of Teddy's earliest Halloween costumes. I really wish I had photos of all of them. What was I thinking??? [NOTE: Take pictures of your loved ones at every opportunity!] Teddy's 19 years old now, and I STILL make his costumes!

Here are a few from before he started school.
Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Teddy's Halloween
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Semi-Regular Pizza 'n' a Movie Night

Since before we were married (30+ years ago), my husband's high school buddy Walter has visited us weekly, and we always share a meal and a good bottle of wine. Well, since my husband now works night shift and has a rotating schedule, we see Walter more like once a month. With the advent of VHS and now DVD technology, Walter also brings a movie -- often foreign, and always intriguing. I discovered my very favorite movies because he brought them (The Spanish Prisoner, Wings of Desire, and Bagdad Cafe).

Last night Walter brought a lovely bottle of wine and the interesting dark comedy Lymelife. I made pizza, which I usually do, but this time I used a different recipe for the dough. Usually pizza dough is breadlike and stretchy, but my recipe was for "wet pizza dough," which is very, well, wet! After it rises you actually pour it into the pan. This is the dough typically used for pizza bianca.

Here are some photos:

The dough after it has risen for two hours -- very bubbly and wet!

The dough after it has pre-baked. I believe it's the same recipe as focaccia.

The finished pizza. It was 12 x 16 inches.

I made my own tomato sauce and added sauteed onions and garlic, topped with a combination of mozzarella, Parmesan, and Jarlsberg cheeses. mmmMMmmm good!

The podcast is coming along nicely and will be published this week, possibly as early as Friday the 30th.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Project Sheets for Next Week's Podcast Are Done!

I'm excited to share next week's projects, especially the Paper Arts one because that will be in three parts. It's a class I taught at a rubber stamp store in Essex, Connecticut (which has sadly closed).

Just to whet your appetite, here's an example of what you might be able to do after you have learned all three lessons. The image below is based on a woodcut from 1515 by Albrecht Durer. I carved it several years ago, and it was featured in Rubberstampmadness magazine.

I hope you continue to listen! When you get a chance, I'd love to hear from you, and if you would, would you take a moment to rate my podcast in iTunes? Thanks!


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Planning Future Projects 'n' Stuff

I've been preparing my project sheets for next week's podcast (should be up October 31), and have been thinking about future projects. My son Teddy was home for fall break this past weekend, and he is an accomplished origami artist specializing in "modular geometric origami." I asked him to be a guest artist in one of the November podcasts, and to design a project for me.

He spent all day teaching me the project he had in mind, and I totally flunked! While it's a great project, and would make a lovely Christmas tree ornament, I think it's a little too difficult at this point. So he's going to think up another project, or maybe I'll offer one that I've successfully made myself with little angst!

For your viewing pleasure, here are a couple of his modular geometric origami creations.

Five Intersecting Tetrahedra

Truncated Hexadecahedron

He may also be a featured musical guest in my December 15th podcast. He sings bass with the University of Michigan Men's Glee Club (celebrating 150 years this year!), and we often sing duets. I just have to get him home for a recording session.

Right now I'm stitching my semi-monthly Alice in Wonderland redwork for the next podcast. I'm nearly out of red floss, and I can't find my DMC floss band to make sure I get the right color. Sheesh. It's not Christmas Red, that much I know -- it's a deeper red. Well, there's a lesson for you: Make sure you save the bands from your floss and yarn in case you need to match it down the road!