Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Microbial Home

No, this isn't about what's growing in that stinky, damp dish rag.

Again, I'm tight on time so I'm sponging off of other people for now! And when I found this through my friend Alanna, I knew it needed space to iterate on Green, Broke & Living in Kits.

screenshot - designboom.com


I'll let you 'tour' the home yourself, but I'm suitably impressed. I don't know that I'd want to live in this exact home, but taking several components from here (and maybe an alternative toilet - I just can't imagine that the squatting toilet would be a good idea in the middle of the night, or after coming home from the bar!) and combining them with other sensible and green technologies - I would be quite content!

This reminds me of the cob & hay-bale house I want to build, with the methane-collecting composting toilet and the gas it creates that I can use to heat my hot water. Sigh. It's good to daydream!

Spring Fashion DIY - mostly shoes!

I'm under the gun with my studies these days, so I'm going to sponge off of other crafty people for this post!

Today is the first day of Spring (hooray)! Which means two things to me - gardening (which I've posted quite a bit about recently) and fashion. But with a limited (non-existent) budget, what's a girl to do?

MegAllanColeCrafts has this great tutorial on how to turn plain nude flats (she calls those heels?!) into sharp neon colour-blocked originals. Admittedly, I remember the 80s & 90s (I was there), so neon makes me a wee bit nauseated. But a wedge of colour I can wear without staring at all day long? Count me in!


Personally, I'm going to keep a sharp eye out for some boring neutral shoes and have a go at this myself.

Her videos are great - straight to the point! I like her other craft and fashion ideas, too. Her wall art (currently featured) is cute, but as an origami pro, I'm still more partial to the traditional ways. Here's are a few of Meg's vids that impressed me:

Geometric Necklace
(I totally think you could just do this with chopped-up chopsticks and skip the need to vary the widths. Great way to reuse them! They'll be sprayed and sealed and germ-free in no time).

Peter Pan Collars
(Got a shirt you love but the colour washes you out? Separate your skin from the shirt with a contrasting coloured collar in a hue that flatters you, and there's your fix!)

I'm a little envious of this girl's job. I'm willing to bet she gets paid to do this all day long. Sigh. If only!

More on SHOES:

I found this DIY link as well, and although I'm not crazy about neon, I am completely bonkers for polka dots (and have been for most of this decade!):

Alright, it's decided - I'm going to have to try this one myself!

And from this same "Stripes and Sequins" site, a Top Ten list of the best DIY sites out there:

....where I found "A Pair and a Spare" and this toe-cap DIY (more shoe upgrading):

Glitter 'n' Glue, another of the Stripes & Sequins' Top Ten, also has a toe-cap tutorial (in gold) and a DIY neon studded clutch.

But this asymmetrical hemline skirt is what I found the most impressive:

Sigh, alright - that was a fun little break, but I have to get back at it.

Coming soon - another free crochet pattern by me. Good and weird and green - hope it's at least entertaining!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus & My Welsh Tea Towel Quilt

Happy St David's Day!

Safeway - $2.99 (if you save the bulbs, next year it's free!)

How appropriate that I should finally finish up this overdue Welsh quilt on St David's Day (we were waylaid by extenuating circumstances at Christmas, so the border never got added in time. Back to the workshop I went). I had made this Welsh tea towel blanket as a Christmas gift, inspired by this tea towel quilt here (lovely, isn't it?!). Speaking of Christmas and Wales, if you've never seen "A Child's Christmas in Wales", you might consider watching this beautifully acted Dylan Thomas poem next Christmas. It's a favourite tradition in my family.

St David is the patron saint of Wales, if you haven't already worked that out for yourself. And because I have Welsh heritage, it's time to celebrate! Which means cawl, rarebit, Welsh cakes (no recipe is as good as the one I have, so I'm going to post it below) and, naturally, beer! I found this lovely little blog post on Welsh beer just now. I have my doubts as whether or not my local liquor store is likely to carry beer from Wales.

Welsh Rarebit (English Muffin base)

Cawl (oops, forgot rutabaga. Oh well)

Beer . . . English Beer. Couldn't find Welsh beer

Welsh Cakes

St David's Day also means daffodils in the house (being the national flower of Cymru! Here's how to pronounce that), which we only discovered years later was the cause of the sudden onset of the "cold" for my Dad each year at that time! Allergies suck.

Here are a few more photos of the finished tea towel quilt. If you want to make one of your own, start checking out your local thrift shops and also scouring Etsy and Artfire for vintage ones online (wouldn't a Dutch one, all in Delft blues, be absolutely stunning? Hmmm. I might just have to get on that...!).

You need 1/2 a pint of phlegm in your throat to speak Welsh!
Yeah, those hats are for real. I don't own one. I don't mind.
(Coracles are small, lightweight boats you can carry)
I really wanted to find daffodil fabric for the backing, but it wasn't easy to come by

I'm obviously no expert in the field of quilting - if you recall, my recycled jeans quilt was the first I had ever made. But, practice makes perfect, and I think bumbling your way through a few projects is always a good way to get acquainted with the medium. (I really want to make that Dutch one, now! Maybe I'll confine myself to linens I come across in-person so I'm not too tempted to fork over major money for the ones on Etsy).
I wonder why they chose the daffodil family for the name "Narcissus". They are pretty!

Back to St David's Day, I'd like to share the family recipe for Welsh Cakes in honour of my great-Gran. Technically, this is Mrs Rosemary Parker's recipe (a lovely neighbour of ours from way back when), but it's been adopted as the family one for decades now on the grounds that it's very similar to the original and for the reason that we can't find a written copy of the old one! This is the recipe I grew up with, so it's tradition to me.

This is why I generally type... Comment below for required translation.
Our recipe is clearly better! :)

Give these a try, whether you're Welsh or not - they're not too sweet, and I've never met anyone who didn't like them! I defy you to dislike these, ha ha!

Mmm, mmm, mmm!

This is what my Welsh Cakes typically look like!

They'll go quick!  Enjoy!

And "Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus" to all my readers!

Starting from Seed - Herbs

If you like this photo, please link to it! But don't steal it, please!

One of the more frustrating aspects of growing from seed is that I can never find a photo online of what the seedlings of a particular plant are supposed to look like.

I mean, is that one sad sprout a week after planting an early riser, or is it a weed seed that flew in, landed, and germinated?! Should I write off that particular container as a dud altogether at this point or not?

They say that "patience is a virtue". How true that is. I'm not patient in the least. I put Ziploc bags over my seedling containers (typically used coffee cups) to up the heat and humidity and force fast germination. I'm always walking that thin line between heating of the seed and soil and actual steam-cooking of the whole micro-environment. Impatience reigns supreme.

This is one of the ways I make secondary use of the dry cleaner's nasty plastic film

Just a short post today, to show off some little green sprouts. I'm hoping that this blog post can be a reference page to anyone out there on the internet trying to find out what epazote seedlings look like right after germination, or what chervil looks like in its infancy. If you don't know the difference between monocots and dicots, chances are you'll be mystified to see long, skinny fingers of green poking out of your chive pot, while you see the stereotypical two-leaved sprouts where you scattered thyme seed. (Monocot = 1 "seed leaf", and includes plants like chives, grasses (including wheat), bamboo, palm trees, orchids, and a gazillion other examples. Dicots have two "seed leaves" (cotyledons - that's where the "cot" comes from) and include pretty well anything that isn't a monocot!).

There's a reason why I don't write Wikipedia entries. Hopefully the photos will speak their respective 1000 words.

MONOCOT: Chive seedlings in a reused cream carton. The black seed is still clinging to the sprouts!
DICOT: Basil seedlings in a reused coffee cup. In the centre you can see another seed clinging on!

So here's a small selection of newly germinated seedlings from this year's herb pots. I hope it provides a good visual reference for all those folks squinting at the soil and wondering what exactly was planted in that pot! (This year I planted both chervil and epazote for the first time . . . and I didn't label the pots beforehand. I'm pretty sure I have them figured out now, but it took longer than it should have to find a picture of either of them in Google images!).

Never heard of epazote? I hadn't either until recently! Link here to the West Coast Seeds page. I can't help but wonder if this was that terrific flavour in the black beans of casado and in pico de gallo that I enjoyed so much in Costa Rica! This summer, I'll find out for sure!

Chamomile (German, I think) seedlings

Chervil seedlings

Epazote seedlings (pretty in pink!)

Parsley seedlings and some ungerminated seeds atop soil

Thyme (English) seedlings