Sketching on the Weekend

It has been a cold weekend, and that meant staying inside as it is not fun being out in 18-degree weather. I did some sketching yesterday while watching the news. I am not a good sketcher, but could not allow my ideas to disappear from my mind forever. I got an idea for a knit felting project while reading Inside Crochet called the snowflake tote. I liked the tote bag, but had another vision for the bag. Almost a week and half ago, I was walking to work in the rain and noticed a broken branch on the ground. I thought broken branch on wet concrete and it would make a nice painting, but the tote bag can make a great canvas for the broken branch on wet concrete.   I have to warn you that my sketches are not the best in the world, but it was fun and satisfying to do them.  Now I have another skills to learn embellishing my knitting and crocheting work.  Hand embroidery and felting (I do not own a machine, so hand felting it is).  This is the process of allowing creativity to flow on a cold day in January.  Ciao for now!

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Thrifty = Creativity

We going into the third year of a recession and it has been a stressful and traumatic experience for many people.  We had to re-access our priorities and if there is any other time to get creative, this is it.  I mentioned in a previous post about a new book by Erin Bried titled How to Sew a Button: And Other Nifty Things Your Grandmother Knew (I am going to borrow it from the library, remember thrifty) that reminds us what our grandmothers or mothers (if did not have a grandmother) taught us about recycling and recreating.  Hey they were green before it become such trend today.  I know some of you remember our your grandmother or mother saved old grease for later and flavoring it with other foods.  Saving old clothes to use as rags or to do housework (I know I still do that).

My belief is that learning how to things makes you a self-sufficient person.  If I can do it myself, then I take even greater pride in it.  There are many people who do not know how to sew a button, fold a fitted sheet, and unclog a drain with baking soda and vinegar.  I still use newspaper to clean my mirrors and windows with some vinegar and water.  There is nothing else like, in addition you save money on cleaning products and not smell those sometimes toxic vapors.  I remember as a little child when I became interested in crocheting and needle point (I have done needle point since then), the feeling I got to accomplish a goal and doing it without the help of my mother and grandmother (they did not crochet or knit).

One does not think about being thrifty until moments such as this, but I hope it continues after the recession.  There is a sense of value.  There are some clothes that I need to re-fashion and fabric scraps to start a quilt.  Also, as I begin to lose weight, learning how to tailor my clothes is a skill that will come in handy.   Ciao for now.

A Trip to the Library

Today, I finally made my way to the library and had my card activated. I asked the person at the information where the crocheting and knitting books are located, and she told me that the books were housed on the second floor. In addition, she also mentioned that a jewelry making class was about to start, so I decided to stay and make some jewelry. I ended up making a bracelet and necklace. I like bracelet better than the necklace, but too bad for first time.  I would definitely go back to the library and continue the jewelry making class and add one more hobby to my growing list of them.  Ciao for now!

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Inspiration Board

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I had a busy weekend beginning with a visit to the Whitney Museum on Saturday to view the Georgia O’Keeffe: Abstraction exhibit.  Exhibition ended Sunday, January 17, and I had the opportunity to receive a free pass to see it before leaving  the museum.   The exhibition included more than 125 paintings, drawings, watercolors, and sculptures by O’Keefe as well as selected examples of Alfred Stiefglitz’s famous photographic portrait series of O’Keeffe.   The O’Keefe: Abstraction travels to the Phillips Collection, Washington DC, February 6 – May 9, 2010, and to the Georgia O’Keeffe, Santa Fe, May 28 – September 10, 2010.

A trip to museum evokes inspiration to be creative. The Whitney Museum gives free admission to children under the age of 16, and supplies an art box to children who wish to draw allowing the flow of creativity. There were a few other exhibitions at the museum, but the one left me uninspired is the Roni Horn aka Roni Horn exhibition. I found the exhibit self-absorbed although I did appreciate the sense of light, balance, and subtleness of the work. However, I thought the Georgia O’Keeffe: Abstraction exhibition something to behold. I have seen her work in prints, but the artwork is amazing. Her brilliant use of intense color abstracted her subject yet allowing the essence of the subject to have presence on canvas.

Now getting to the point of my blog posting, I created an inspiration board of the things I want to achieve during the course of the year. Each piece represents areas to inspire me from eating healthier to knitting. I probably will create a creativity board, but for now, my inspiration board will due.  Ciao for now!

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Last Night’s Dinner

I mentioned in my earlier blog post about making the  Swiss Chard Mushroom and Quinoa salad recipe from the January issue of Martha Stewart Living.  I finally made it for dinner Thursday night.  It is a nice and easy dinner to make that take less than an hour to cook.  I think you can change the grain if you do not like quinoa with barley or burglar wheat.  The only thing that is missing from the recipe is parmesan cheese which I did not  get any, oh who I am kidding I forgot to buy it.   You should be able to find the recipe on the Martha Stewart website.  Enjoy your day!

Creativity and Flow

Last week, I watched a three-part PBS series called This Emotional Life.  I recommend this series for everyone to watch and you can get more information at PBS.  The first part of the series was about relationships with family, friends, and lovers, the second part was about-facing our fears, and the last part was about re-thinking happiness.  The website has topic listed and one of them is creativity and flow.  Creativity and flow appears to have a connection with a person’s happiness, and I would agree with that premise.  When I am in my moments of happiness, I want to engage in those activities I find joy in doing such as cooking, knitting, sewing, writing, etc. than in much sadder moments.  I am have always been the kind of person who did not engage in activities because I was bored, but the activity gives me greater elation.

Anyone can be creative and a myth that creativity is a right-brain activity. Creativity uses both sides of the brain. However, there are times when there are things that interfere and interrupt our creative process. For me, it is life in general, lol. However, there are ways for us to get in and keep in touch with our creativity.

I am a daydreamer and typically engage in this activity while commuting to and from work, walking, or just drinking coffee at my table during the weekend. In other words, I daydream whenever possible, but tend not to write down anything my thoughts. Leonardo Da Vinci recorded all of his ideas down in notebooks the carried with him. Creativity can give way to new streams of thoughts to solve problems or new ideas. Allison Lee of Craftcast interviewed Diana Trout a week ago about her new book Journal Spilling and discusses the creative process with creating an art journal without the purpose of making money or showing to anyone. I think having an art or visualization journal can awaken the creative process bringing one into a different reality or learning about you.

For now, I think my creative process could use some rest and refresh. Ciao for now.

Sunday and Braised Red Cabbage

Yesterday, I made the easy tamale casserole and today it was the braised red cabbage from the January issue of Martha Stewart Living.  I had to make one adjustment to the recipe.  I do not own a dutch oven pot (they are so expensive and need to find one at a good price), so I cooked the braising liquid in a three-quart pot, cut the cabbage into the wedges, placed into a roasting pan, poured the liquid and covered with foil.

clip_image001 Even with the adjustment, the dish did turn out well and tasted good despite everything in my oven cooks quickly, so the 45-minute time does not mean very much in an oven with a mind of its own. The recipe called for taking the liquid into a pan and reduce it down to a cup that should take about 10 to 12 minutes making a sauce for the cabbage.

It is a good recipe to cook and thinking about making the stuff savory cabbage and kale and roasted-potato salad.  There is another salad that I am going to make during the week with a modification.  It is a swiss chard, mushroom, and quinoa salad, but am substituting the swiss chard for baby spinach.  Well the new name is baby spinach, mushroom, and quinoa salad. I am thinking that this braised red cabbage dish can go with corn beef or spicy lamb meatballs.  If you want to eat less meat, then making a lentil stew could go with the cabbage dish as well.  I am going to sign off and read an article in the Winter 2010 issue of Vogue Knitting.  Ciao for now.

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Cooking on the Weekend

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With making some resolutions of becoming healthier this year, I decided to that, it would be best to do menu planning and create a grocery list. Actually, menu planning and creating shopping lists has a dual purpose. One purpose that is compiling a weekly menu plan and shopping list gives you control of the food that you are eating, and the second purpose is that it is a great way to control your food budget because a person can easily spend a lot of money at the grocery store without a list. I decided to use coupons, purchase sale and store brand items. Whole Foods has some great store brand products, and buying a gallon of low fat milk for $1.89 is a better bargain than buying Organic Farms for $3.89. You can do the math. Whole Foods has budget recipes on its website that can further stretch your food budget. You still get organic food without breaking the bank. There are certain foods that is not organic and relatively safe to eat because those foods little pesticides like bananas, sweet potatoes and corn. The EWG has a list of produce ranking from worst to best for pesticides.

Getting back to my weekend cooking, I made an easy tamale casserole from Whole Foods budget recipe list. I had to make a couple of adjustment with the recipe due to the availability of ingredients. The recipe called for rancheros beans, a product of Whole Foods, but the store was out of stock and use its refried beans produce as a substitute. Another substitute was the cornbread and muffin mix, again out of stock, so I just made cornbread from scratch. Actually, making the cornbread from scratch was cheaper since I had the ingredients home with the exception of buttermilk (will be making buttermilk pancakes on Sunday). As the name suggested, the recipe was easy to make and easy to freeze for later meals during the week, and very pleased with results. 

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I mixed green chilies into the cornbread mixture and perhaps the next time will add some Monterey Jack cheese.  I am going to make sauté kale with garlic as a side dish.  That means it is time to stop blogging for the moment and continue with my weekend cooking.

What’s in Store this Weekend

I am glad that Friday will soon be upon us.  The first week of the new year is coming to a close and the weather report in my area (NJ/NY) states that we will are going to see some snow showers tomorrow during the morning compute.  That means I have to leave home a little earlier if I am to make to the office on time.

Today after work, I went to Whole Foods to do some grocery shopping.  I typically purchase things are that are on sale.  One of the sales of the week is wild caught fresh Maine Shrimp for $3.99 a pound, but arrived to the store too late as it sold out.  The fishmonger (or can you really call him that if he works for Whole Foods) told me that I should come early tomorrow as a new shipment is arriving.  I probably will change my mind about the shrimp considering I brought a bag of shrimp last week.

I had my shopping list and menu plan of the dishes to prepare this weekend and still managed to forget.  Well that is what happens when you forget not write the things down on a pad.  On my mean is the braised red cabbage, an easy tamale casserole, kale and roasted potato salad, and grilled chicken breast.  I am thinking about making a vegetable soup to have when coming home from work.  I also have laundry to do and perhaps get in some knitting while waiting for them to wash and dry.

Tomorrow is Friday and will have to make another trip to the grocery to pick bread, milk, and eggs, those essential items that people tend to purchase a great deal whenever that is a winter storm watch.  I will say goodnight and ciao for now.

It’s Only Tuesday, but Still Push On

As I suggested in my title, it is only Tuesday and feel completely and utterly tired.  I am yawning while writing this blog entry and my hope is not to fall asleep with my head hitting the notebook.  It could have been the breakfast I had for dinner or sleepiness just fell upon me.  I am also listening to the latest Craft Sanity podcast where Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood is interviewing Rashida Coleman-Hale of the I Heart Linen blog.  She has a new book entitled I Heart Patchwork that I happened to see at Barnes and Noble this evening.  She made a lovely patchwork Christmas tree over the holidays than having a real Christmas tree.

I have another motive for writing a blog entry today is adding some photos using the features on Windows.  The first photo is of the January issue of Martha Stewart and there is a feature on Windows Liver Writer where you can choose to have it look like an instant photo, but choose the photo paper look.  I plan going grocery shopping this week to pick up ingredients to make the braised red cabbage it looks good.


Believe are not, I choose to view this photo as medium size but it looks huge to me.  I choose to post this photo because since feeling little sluggish, it would be a good idea to look at something colorful and vibrant.  This gives me something to look forward doing this weekend and possibly put in a better mood.  I still have to do my hair as the winter weather can make hair looks so dry despite the fact I just washed and use the flat iron and hair curlers.  To look at my hair, one would think I just went under a wind tunnel while running a 5K.  However, in the summer, humidity will be the culprit and still look like I went under a wind tunnel while running a 5K.  It is no win-win situation when it comes to hair.  Well I must press on (no pun intended) and iron my hair again while watching part two of This Emotional Life on PBS.  I hope all of you have a less tired day, Ciao.


Moment of Geek

After a day of work, I decided to come and watch a couple of shows.  The new season of Antiques Road Show that I find fascinating and fun to watch.  The other show is a three-part series entitled This Emotional Life.  The first part examines the role that relationships play in emotional health and it covers family, friends and lovers.  What affect do you think the role that relationship play in emotional health?  Do we need more than food, clothes, and shelter?

Book Reviews and Some New Finds – Part Duex

I am back!  I am having an easy Sunday as my father prepared breakfast for us and had to stop writing momentarily until we have eaten and I washed the dishes.  Hey if someone cooks, the very least another person can do is wash dishes.

In my previous blog were the two book reviews and now I have some new finds that may interest some of you reading.  I discovered that blog stats has more than 22,500 visitors over the past three years and think that is a good thing, but never mind that for the time being.  Last night, I was giving my January’s issue of Martha Stewart a cursory read, happened upon the home keeping section of the magazine, and saw two items that caught my attention and interest.  It is a step-by-step guide to a cleaner and healthier home.  The two products are for the kitchen and find the money-saving potential something to consider.  One product is making your own fizzy water and the other to purify your water.  Prior to the advertising and marketing onslaught, people drink water from their faucet.  People were convince that purchasing bottle water was better for you, but neglected to mention that we are adding more garbage to the landfill.  Essentially, the advertising and marketing gurus convinced us to purchase an item was already free, and brainwashed into paying for water.  We do not have pay for water just purchase a water purifier and we can once drink free water and not add to the landfill at the same time.  The reality is that these bottling companies are selling us tap water that they have purified themselves.  Spring water could be come from the springs a city water system (I am just saying).  The water purifier mentioned in the article is GE’s Full Flow Water Filtration that you can attach to the cold-water line beneath the sink (from $80, GE Appliances has more information).  The cost savings of drinking tap water is about $500 per year and each filter last approximately six months.  I think that is a good cost saving. 

Another product is making your fizzy soda or water at home again saving money and keeping plastic bottles ending up in a landfill.  You can store it on your countertop and turn water into seltzer.  There is a carbon dioxide cartridge that can make up to 110 liters of soda just mail it back to the company to be refilled.  The price varies for machines, but for more information about the product is at Soda Stream USA.

I have some candy eye sewing/fashion goodness to share.  When I signed up for Facebook a few years ago, I joined a club called The Sewing Studio.  It is a company in Toronto, CA that teaches sewing classes at all ages and skills level.  Yes, I live in New Jersey, but in this age of technology, I would at least receive a newsletter and read the blog.  I received a message from The Sewing Studio last night that announced a new online magazine dedicated to sewing and fashion.  Of course, I had to look at the site Love Sewing and the magazine is fabulous.  My advice is to see for yourself and if you become inspired like I did.  There is one featured designer, Michi Calica in the magazine’s “Get Inspired” column.  I think some her designs are wonderful, Michi creates vintage-inspired with a modern twist.  She also does wedding dresses and creates different sizes for her clients.  One dress is the white orchard linen dress.  I love the simplicity yet elegant and feminine look at this dress.  Michi has this dress on Etsy Shop for about $280 or if you are sewing, who is inspired can probably create something along this line.  I think this is a good price for the dress, but that is for you to decide.


Another dress the designer has on her shop is her wavy hem dress that is another creatively simple but elegant dress that seems fun to wear.


Michi Calica has other pieces of clothing including evening bags, jewelry and other accessories at her Etsy Shop.  I think some of you may fall in love with her designs.

Those the some new finds for the time being.  I am going to spend this week testing out a couple of recipes I read in Martha Stewart’s January issue such as braised red cabbage and a kale and roasted potato salad.  I think those recipes fall in line with me being healthier and getting down my blood pressure.  I am still thinking about getting shape for a 5k run, that will fill in my exercise goals as well. Ciao for now.


Book Reviews and Some New Finds – Part One

It seems that I am keeping up with my resolution for blog entries, and testing new font sizes so bear with me.  I am keeping the font color because blue is my favorite color and yet I do not own many articles of clothing in that color.  Although, I have to say that next to that nice crisp cotton white shirt, the next color would that nice crisp french blue color shirt.  I am digressing.  Back to the subject I want write about.

I am incessant information hound and the Internet is my pearl in finding new and interesting finds.  It does not matter if I am doing a search on history or finding the perfect pair of shoes I am on it.  However, before getting to the finds, I am going get to a couple of book reviews I wrote about in my previous blogs.

I picked up two books (well more than two, but who is counting), Blogging for Bliss – Crafting Your Own Online Journal and Design-It-Yourself Clothes – Patternmaking Simplified by authors Tara Frey and Cal Patch respectively.  Although I started my blog a couple of years, not many read it.  Of course, I have a couple of people who comments and I love them for it.  I am appreciative of people who leave a comment because it lets me know I gave them something to ponder.  I think I could be more personal in blogs (not too personal, lol) thus the reason for purchasing Tara Frey’s BFB book.  I am still a beginner blogger despite the fact that my blog has existed for more than three years.  I have to tighten up on my technical skills with a background and photos, and take a headshot so people will know what I look like.  With that aside, I found Frey’s book helpful in my goals in being a better blogger.  I do very little editing with my blog entries as I tend to write with a flow and my thoughts come while writing.  One can say that I am spontaneous writer.  Frey guides the reader through the reason for blogging, tools of the trade, learning the ropes, and how to create beautiful blogs.  She features more than 50 bloggers that include Alicia Paulson: Posie Gets Cozy, The Angry Chicken, and Knit and Tonic as inspiration for the new blogger or a blogger who has been blogging for a while.  For more information to connect with Tara at Blogging for Bliss.

My next review is a patternmaking book.  Clothing designer, Cal Patch worked for Urban Outfitters and Free People before creating her own Hodge Podge label.  I believe that she currently teaches patternmaking and sewing in New York City and recently purchased a farm in upstate New York.  She currently blogs at Hodge Podge Farm and has an Esty shop where she sells her crochet projects.  First came across Cal Patch while listening to the Craft Sanity podcast with Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood about her new book, career, and life living upstate.  At the time of the interview, Cal had not purchased her farm but in the process of doing so.  I purchased the book at month later.  I thought would be a good idea to create my own patterns than always purchasing them and Cal made a great point during the interview, the patterns you make will be more tailor to your body type because it will be exactly to your measurements (as long as you do not lie about them, loll).  Cal guides you through the process of the tools you need to make patterns, making your own patterns from taking your measurements, customizing, fitting, and grading.  She even explains how to make a pattern from your existing clothing.  I found this book as a helpful guide that is much easier than reading as Cal says those dry textbooks.  She gives directions to make basic skirt, dress, jacket, and pants patterns.  However, her goal for the reader to use her book as a guide for you to create your own clothing, make it what you will.  She does not want you to find the exact fabric or for that matter change up the pattern if like.  She is providing you will the tools to create your own wardrobe.  Become looser and bohemian because you do not have to look like everyone else and that is one of the ideas of sewing your own clothing be unique.

I realized that I have written a lot in this blog entry and will continue with another entry about the new finds when I am done eating breakfast. I shall return.


What to Learn in the Coming Year

I got up this morning and started my day by listening to NPR’s Saturday Weekend Edition.  My confession is that I am a bit of the geek and like to know what is going on in the world.  NPR is a lot like oatmeal, it is good for you although there are times you do not fully appreciate it.  It also helps to have a cup of coffee along with listening and savor the moment.  In addition to listening to the happenings in the country and aboard, SWE asked a few people of their thoughts of what the next decade may bring.  It was more of their hope than a predication as no one can really know what the future may bring. 

One commentary was from publisher and style maven, Martha Stewart that she hope that the economy will correct, people safe in their homes and not threatened by foreclosures, and her concerned about the environment in where our meats and vegetables and think about organic and humane ways to cultivate our food.  Her wish is that people stay healthy, be healthy and comfortable.  I say Amen to that sentiment.

Another commentator was Barney’s Creative Director, Simon Doonan on his views about the future of fashion in the next decade.  He mentioned that fashion in the past ten years has been extreme and could use them to predicate what may happen next in fashion.  It has been a self-critical period for women as we have seen shoes ridiculously high and painful, thighs are not long enough, boobs not big enough, and not Botox enough and he hopes that in the next ten years women will stop being self-masochistic becoming more looser and bohemian (except wearing that Christmas or Thanksgiving sweater, lol).

These comments are something to think about learns from as we go into a new decade.  The comments from Simon Doonan really struck a chord with me particularly when have reality shows such as the Real Housewives Orange County, Atlanta, New York, New Jersey and what other town or city that can find women who are willing to make complete fools of themselves on nationally television and perpetuating an unrealistic idea about women who are housewives.  The women I know continue to work either within the home or outside.  Besides raising a family for many of stay at home mom is real job that is not always easy.  I always believe that stay-at-home moms should be paid and health benefits.  I do share Simon’s hope that women will finally become looser and bohemian as if we thought about it, Coco Chanel want to create fashion for women that did not constrict and restrain them and yet we seem to have devolved than evolve that idea of independence and being comfortable in our own skin.  I think the Real Housewives franchise shows gives one a bleak view about this women having considerably unhappy and unfulfilled lives.  There is a crack in their materialistic facades and no amount of Botox and plastic surgery is enough to repair or cover it.

I promise to write my review of the books mentioned in my blog from yesterday evening, but it was important for me to write my reflections of the day. Ciao for now.

First Day of a New Year

Happy New Year everyone!  I hope that you are enjoying the first day of a new year.  I am having a quiet day and only thing exciting today was a trip to CVS pharmacy to pick up bread and Ginger Ale.  I managed to watch the Thin Man series that aired last night, but DVR the remaining three movies to watch in the afternoon.  I fried fish and made Kale with garlic, crushed red peppers and diced bacon.

I was sitting on my bed for a while and began reading  Quamut – the go to how podcasting that I purchased over a week ago along with the book Blogging for Bliss by Tara Frey.   I wanted to purchase the book for a few weeks upon discovering it at Barnes and Noble and thought it would useful in becoming a better blogger.  It was an opportunity to read about other blogs featured in the book (some I have on my Google Reader) for some inspiration and ideas.  I am digressing – back to the podcasting.  The reasoning for purchasing the guide to podcasting is to explore the possibility of me starting a podcast.  I learn creating a podcast is a simple technical process, but the creative process is another matter.  Questions to come mind of how many podcast I realistically produce in a month, do I want to conduct interviews, and topics that will keep the listeners interested and will they find me boring.  A podcast is the same as radio broadcast and developing topics and research is essential.  These are things for me to ponder over next little while.

I have still getting acquainted with Microsoft Office and Windows, and will make a visit to my local library to borrow a reference book to learn the features.  There is Office and Windows Live where I can actually integrate my blog and use the features to change the font and color.  It is easier to download photographs and videos, and a table if I so desire.  I am just curious as to the other features on Windows 7.  Of course, Microsoft as of yet repaired its stability problem with the program freezing, but it is better than in the past.  I still love Apple’s operating system because it rarely crashes and freezes.

It is time for me end my writing, but will return with a review of Blogging for Bliss and Design-It-Yourself: Patternmaking Clothes Simplified by Cal Patch.  Is it me or are the titles on books getting longer.  I think that the titles are longer that the actual context inside the book.  Happy, happy everyone and Ciao!