Thursday, October 31, 2013

rObOt sewing project

mindy and i are gradually easing into doing some product lines with fabric.  i mostly make pop images, and they apply well to wearables and accessories.  so i'm jumping in with some bags.  i've designed 2 basic patterns of a robot head and a cat head clutch/small bag.

i put together my test robot clutch today.  the first one is always time consuming because i have no idea what i'm doing and have to develop the method in the process.  i'm not doing anything advanced, just some simple shapes to match my imagery.

i hand printed each piece with a collection of square and rectangle blocks, then added in some details like eyes and a diamond plate pattern.  i stitched around all the shapes and spaces to 'quilt' the top layer of fabric to the liner pattern piece.  then i assembled it.

i'm hoping that in the future these can be created pretty easily and sold for a reasonable price.  they are fun and should be affordable.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Garden Update: October 2013

Ahhhh, the October garden, the perfect example of the cycle of death, renewal, and growth.

In the beginning of the month, all our pepper plants were still lush and fruitful; our tomato plants blossoming. But then a cold spell hit about a week ago and we had to hastily harvest all our remaining peppers and tomatoes. We also pulled up a majority of our herbs and flowers that did not look like they'd survive the cold.

But we also planted new seeds for carrots, beets, turnips, radishes, and a variety of cold-tolerant vegetables.

pink beauty radishes
scarlet turnips
red choi

The October garden also surprised us with a round of peaches. We never thought we would have peaches, so we were super excited with our discovery.

We harvested carrots,

and also got to eat more strawberries off our everbearing and wild alpine soul plants.

Zach and I are planning to build a cold frame for our raised bed this week, so hopefully we can have a semi-active garden through the colder months ahead!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

quiet fall day

Today was one of those quiet fall days. There was supposed to be a garden update post today but Zach got inspired and we worked on something else instead ...

Hope everyone is having a good week so far. We'll do the garden post tomorrow. See you then!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Recipe of the Week: Basil Fried Rice

We had a super busy week. Apart from work duties and obligations, we also had a million things to do in the garden. We knew it was getting downright frosty, so we set aside an afternoon to harvest, pull up and/or cut down all our herbs and plants. We had 2 planter boxes with 3 different kinds of basil, which means we ended up with a whole lot of basil. We already have 2 huge bags of frozen basil pesto in the freezer and we didn't want anymore, so a decision was made -- the best (and easiest) way to quickly process the basil, is to cook and eat it! And so we made Thai basil fried rice.

To make good fried rice, you need to start with cold, day old (or 2!) cooked rice. Using freshly-cooked rice will yield a mushy and "wet"-looking dish. If you absolutely have to use fresh rice, you can add a drizzle of vinegar during cooking to help sop up the excess liquid. I don't know why or how the vinegar works, but my mom swears the result is magic!

Now that we've got that out of the way, here's what you will need ...

3 cups cooked rice
1/2 lb ground beef 
1 cup broccoli, chopped into small pieces
1 cup green beans, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium onion, sliced thinly
1 red bell pepper, sliced thinly
1-2 thai chili pepper, sliced thinly
2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp sugar
1 cup packed fresh basil leaves

In a wok, heat 2 tsp of oil until hot. Add garlic and onions, and cook until golden brown.
Add ground beef, cook thoroughly.
Add vegetables (including all peppers), and cook for 2 minutes.
Lower heat to medium, then add oyster sauce, fish sauce, and sugar.
Add rice, mix to coat well.
Just before serving, add in fresh basil leaves and stir well.
Serve hot.

** this one-dish wonder is super versatile. You can substitute beef for ground chicken or turkey, and use most any type of vegetables you fancy.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Dr. Cornel West!

So, this totally happened!

Dr. West made my day. I am looking forward to sharing more about the story behind this picture. I just need to survive one more day of this conference first ...

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Saving Seeds

The October garden is hard work. We're experiencing a cold spell here in the midwest, which pretty much means the prime days of growing and blossoming have come to an end. There are lots of peppers and tomatoes that need to be harvested. There are plants that need to be protected from the frosty nights. The herbs need to be cut down and processed. The dying plants have to pulled from the dirt, and new seeds for fall have to be sown. And whenever we have the chance, there are plenty of seeds that need to be saved.

So far we've collected seeds from our chive plants,

some of our peppers,

jumping jacks and violets,

and poppies.

Saving seeds are a great way to reduce the start-up cost of our garden next year. It's also a way we can ensure the "longevity" of the plants we enjoyed this year!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Canning pickles

Today I canned dill pickles! 

We've been fermenting our cucumbers since late September. And after three weeks of scrapping scum off the brine, the pickles are finally ready! Canning is hard work, but I have to say it's super nice to have 3 burners and the oven going all at once on a cold, gloomy, and rainy afternoon!

And it's also nice to have 7 jars of pickles to last us through the next few months (at least!).

Monday, October 21, 2013

Attica Mural: 10.21

I spent most of this cold and windy afternoon out in Attica watching Zach and Ladonna paint. The city has kindly provided a cherry picker so they can reach the peaks of the building. I'm afraid of heights but I decided I would ride up with Zach to get some closer shots of some of the details towards the top of the mural.

Being three stories up in the air is a frightening feat. I didn't appreciate the tilt of the lift or the bumps on the way up, but I do appreciate the courage of both Zach and Ladonna. They are determined to finish the mural this week and nothing, not even strong winds, rain sprinkles, or being 30ft off the ground, is going to hold them back!

Here are some other shots from this afternoon ...

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