Monday, January 31, 2011

I didn't make it - but it's still way cool!

There's something so fabulous about coming home to a new toy. Of course you missed all your old toys. Of course you can spend hours getting reacquainted with them. But hark, what is that package on the table?

What? It's a doll? And it looks like me?

Yup. A custom made doll that my mom won for me. The nice ladies at Goodbye Blue Monday made it just for me.

Doesn't it look so like me? Black hair, in a bob. Bangs. Headband. Even a pink dress to match the rosy cheeks! I love her so much. We decided to name her Millie Lira - after me (Lili) and Mira. Thanks Mom!

Sunday, January 30, 2011


Sorry for the lack of posts.... We just got back from a wonderful vacation in Park City, UT. It has been a yearly thing ever since Keith's mom moved there for winter skiing. This year we were there for skiing and the Sundance film festival. Which was a blast. And where we got this picture taken. And if you know my family you know that this picture is classic. Between Keith's total disgust for the commercialism involved and Lili's crazy robot smile it is all around a hilarious picture.

Other highlights...

Lili's capacity for remembering skiing was amazing. She was on the lift within 15 minutes this year. And she loved it. But she has little stamina. Like me, her legs got tired fast and so she didn't ski long.

Speaking of... wow. I am out of shape! But I still had fun on the few runs I took with Keith, with Lili, and on my own. I strive to conquer my fear of getting hurt, which only gets greater every year I get older.

Keith? Still an amazing skiier.

We may need to upgrade our car... The V40 is just so dinky compared to Sue's beautiful VolvoXC. It fit a whole person in the back between the car seats! Mine only seems to fit half of Keith's butt.

Sundance was great this year, mainly because we volunteered and so got in to see shows I actually wanted to see. Look out for Homework in theaters maybe next year - Freddie Highmore and Emma Roberts were so cute as awkward priviledged teens in NYC.

Mira learned to go down stairs while were there. No hands! Just bumps down on her butt.

I'm looking forward already to next year!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Summer in the Winter

We are heading to a friend's house for dinner, and she asked me to bring a salad. Salad has never really been my strong suit, so I usually turn to cook books for inspiration. Asian Slaw popped right out at me. Something light and refreshing to combat these sub zero temperatures! Plus, it's beautiful.

Asian Slaw from Moosewood Cooks at home - Adapted my ME!
Um... this makes a ton.

1/2 head Savoy Cabbage, shredded - this is a good compromise between Napa Cabbage and regular green cabbage. It has some of the curls and delicacy of Napa without being so expensive.
1/3 head purple cabbage, shredded
3 medium carrots, grated
1-2 green onions, finely sliced
1/2 red pepper, julienned

5 Tbs vegetable oil
1 Tbs Sesame Oil
6 Tbs Rice vinegar
2 Tbs Orange juice
4 Tbs Soy sauce
2 Tbs Brown Sugar
1 inch fresh ginger root, finely grated
dash of chili oil, or other hot pepper sauce (optional)
Optional sprinkling of sesame seeds

Combine veggies. Whisk together dressing ingredients, pour over veggies. Toss to coat. Marinate for 15 minutes. Mix well before serving. Stores in fridge covered for 3-4 days (maybe less because of the savoy cabbage - I don't know yet!)

Friday, January 21, 2011


More than one week since my last post??? Oops. Sorry!

I have excuses!

Our camera broke!

The baby is super clingy!

And of course, life has been on fast forward lately. Yes, I've been sewing. Yes, we've been "enjoying" the snow. Yes, parenting is interesting, as usual.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Rainbow Pillow

May I present.... The Rainbow Pillow (psst! It's reversible!) looking for the tutorial? click here.

You might think from this blog that I am obsessed with rainbows. While I do like them quite a bit, I think Lili's influence on me really shows in the things I make. Or maybe I am just a very colorful person and don't really acknowledge it yet.

In any case, this pillow is very much inspired by the girls. I wanted to make a pillow for the Blogger's Pillow Party over on Stitched in Color, but I've never made a pillow before! Not hard, I know, but coming up with an idea was key. And then inspiration hit. Here's the breakdown of how my brain worked on it...

The girls adore their lovies that I made out of cuddle fleece. Lili likes rainbows. I bet a rainbow would look good on a pillow. Oooh, and I could make a cloud out of the fuzzy fleece! Oh! I could make a cloud on one side, and the rainbow over the other! And so on until it evolved.

I used alot of new to me techniques on this:

Rainbow thread (Sulky brand) - it was oh so fine to work with.
Heat n Bond - I used it to applique everything I sewed on. No messing with pins. Now I find out there's some kind of spray on basting adhesive that washes away that would have been better, but the Heat n Bond was fun to work with.
"Quilting" - pseudo, I think. Anyway, I peiced together fabric and it looks quilt-like.
Sewing curves together! - For more on this feature, check out the tutorial.

Other notes:
Pillow forms from IKEA. So inexpensive.
I could've done a better job on the invisible zipper, but man, I really wanted to finish it up fast. I also made it fully lined on the inside (just like a Lil Cutie), so no visible fraying when I wash it.

I've posted the tutorial here, with more notes on the creation, so check it out!

And if you're interested in joining in, or just seeing the other pillows being posted, check out the Pillow Party:

Blogger's Pillow Party

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Rainbow Pillow Tutorial

Here's the tutorial for the Rainbow Pillow I made: (for the story on the pillow as well as pretty pictures of both sides, click here)

This is a great scrap buster (to use up various bits and peices of fabric you have laying around), or as I did, a stash builder (to buy up lots of fabric to build up your "stash"). I bought 1/4 yards of every color of the rainbow (times two!) but only used a wee bit of each to create the rainbow.

20"x20" Pillow Form
21" cut of blue corduroy (at least 42" wide)
1/4 yard (or more) white snuggle fleece
1/2 yard Heat n Bond lite
Various scraps of the colors of the rainbow
Rainbow thread (the Sulky brand was so silky and wonderful to work with)
Invisible zipper same color as corduroy
thread the color of the corduroy
Liner fabric, if desired

Wash and dry all the fabrics you're using.
Cut the corduroy into 21" x 21" squares. You need two - one for the front of the pillow, and one for the back. If you want your pillow tight, you can cut it as far down as 19" x 19".
First we're going to make the "back" of the pillow, the fluffy cloud and raindrops.

Freehand cut out the cloud from the fleece. Attach HeatNBond to the fabric you're using for raindrops (I used some flannel scraps), and freehand cut out some raindrops. Add some strips of HeatNBond around the edge of the back of the cloud. Arrange and iron on the raindrops.
Sew raindrop appliques on with the zigzag stitch on your machine. Use same color thread as the corduroy. Widest stitch, very short stitch length. Arrange and iron on the cloud. Switch to the rainbow thread on the top, zig zag on the cloud. Done with that side. (Isn't the rainbow around the cloud just lovely? A nice touch, but you could also just use the blue thread).
Now onto the "fun" side: the rainbow!
Get a peice of paper, same size as your corduroy blank. Sketch out your vision for the rainbow.
Start cutting your scraps. I cut mine about 3" high, to leave trimming room for the actual curve. Randomize cutting angles, etc.

Arrange scraps along the curve you've drawn, and sew them all together, side by side. Press. You should have a rough curve now, with ragged edges.
Trim up the adjoining edges (red to orange etc) so that they follow almost the same curve.

Sew the two curves together (scary maybe, but the following videos here and here really helped me a lot).

Press.Continue as above for each color of the rainbow. Do not trim the top edge of red, or bottom edge of purple (yet). Do not trim sides (yet).
Place on corduroy and ooh and ahh at the colors.

Now trim all the outside edges, iron under the edges about 1/4", and apply heat n bond around edges and along some of the middle.

Freehand cut a sun if you like. Apply heatnbond to sun, iron to corduroy. Iron rainbow onto corduroy, topstitch over everything. Topstitch inbetween each color if you like, too.

Lastly, cut some liner fabric to the same dims as the corduroy, and sew in a zipper. It's exactly the same as putting together a lil cutie pouch. And makes a nice neat finish.
Oh and last last, put in your cheapo $4 IKEA pillow form! And bask in the glory of your rainbow. Or cuddle up to the cloud. Your choice!

As seen in the Blogger's Pillow Party at Stitched in Color

Blogger's Pillow Party

Monday, January 10, 2011

Upgrade! Gathered Clutch

I love and am obsessed with Noodlehead's Lil Cutie Pouches, just I thought I would try an upgrade an work on making some of her gathered clutches too. After a few tries, I feel like I have settled on my method of putting them together. They're a great showcase for fabric combos and they are a little more sophisticated than the cuties.

I had a very specific goal in mind when making these... one for a stylish friend from high school, who happens to love the color orange. For some reason she popped into my head when I first started making these, so the last one I did was for her:

And, as with the cuties, the stack of clutches I made has already been given away for holiday gifts! These have been a great test run for my possible soon to be etsy shop (which is still percolating in my little brain...)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Food, Money, Food

Several weeks ago, a good friend in the area started food budgeting. This is not an uncommon theme, and the New Year tends to bring out the food budgeter in all of us, I think.

Anyway, Rachel started feeding her family of 4 on $125 a week. At the time, I thought this couldn't be too hard, as I felt my weekly budget without even trying was around $150. Boy was I wrong... I looked at MasterCard statements from Sept/Oct/Nov and discovered that I spent between $700-$750 per month on food. That's alot more than the $600 I thought I was spending.

And then an article came out about how hungry Vermonters get $40 per week per person to buy food. Food stamps, I guess. In the article, the family profiled said they STILL needed to go to the food pantry at the end of the month. AND the two kids got fed breakfast and lunch at school. So these people are eating way more than $150 per week of food. And Superbudgeter Rachel could feed all her family all their meals on $125 a week. And eat well, meaning good wholesome foods.

So for the month of December, I worked hard. That is to say, I decided that I'm only shopping 2 days a week. Because if I go to the store less, I will spend less. And I need to NOT got to Price Chopper or City Market because I always blow more than the fair share somehow at those places. So Hannaford it is, twice a week. And Pay Attention to what prices are, don't waste food, and cook meals that stretch at least into one extra day of leftovers. Because I don't mind leftovers so much, especially if it means I don't have to cook.

And it worked. $600 for the month of Dec. I'm pretty happy that I was able to do this without menu planning, not that I knock it, I'm just too lazy to do it. Just by paying attention to what I buy and what's in the fridge, I saved $100 a month. Crazy. And We still ate out. And we still buy frivolous things, just not as much as before.

It feels good.

Thanks for the kick in the pants, Rach, even though I know you didn't do it for me :)

And those of you who ARE menu planning to help budget week by week.... How bout posting a couple recipes, huh? Tera? Wheatberry waldorf salad? I'm totally intrigued...

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

No poop, cheez

Mira is quickly asserting her independence, and part of this new found desire for freedom comes alot of language. The problem is, she gets alot of sounds mixed up. Thankfully, she knows some sign language so we can decipher what she means.

Most recently...

"No poop, cheez"

What do you think it means?.................. "More soup, please". But she says it wrong with such conviction!

Sheez = Cheese or Shoes, depending on context
No = no, or more : must see the sign language
Kaka = cracker
ah Ka doe = avocado
poop = poop, grape, soup depending on context
LoLo = Lili
Mama = Mira or Mama : this is very confusing
Dada = Chest or daddy : because Keith always points to himself when he says Dada, so Mira thinks he's pointing to his chest
Cow = Cow (yay! She got one right!)

Lili didn't get a translation post until she was almost 2!! Yay for verbal babies.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy New Year

Okay. Here's my obligatory New Year post. A couple days late. Because this new year really crept up on me. It's that or my sense of time has just been completely warped. In any case, I have no resolutions for the new year (yet). I'm pretty happy with life right now, and am starting to think about how I can be more better. If that's possible :).

Anyway, with the New Year comes the semi-annual trip to NY/LI/NJ to visit family. We are not so great remembering to take pictures during the trip, but we have a couple of good shots of some or all of us with the great-grandfolks. Keith's Poppy is doing well, and has more snow in NJ than we do in VT (not fair).

My grandmother (Lili's Tai Puo Puo) is also doing well and we celebrated her 82nd birthday on the New Year. With two cakes. And dumplings. Yum.

And all those Lil Cutie pouches I made? I ended up making about 20 total, and gave all but 3 away (so far). They went over really well. So much so that I am really seriously considering opening an etsy shop. Not just for the cuties, but for some other things as well. Maybe that will be a New Years' resolution. An etsy shop.