Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Dyeing and Spinning

Purple Handspun - final dye

I am finally pleased with the color of the handspun I was dying. It's not 100% what I was going for, which would have been a tad deeper and more blue, but it is still vey good.

I used additional grape Kool-Aid packets. Unfortunately, there was no blue Kool-Aid at the grocery store I went to, and the off-brand I bought turned out to be a red drink in a blue package. Fortunately, I did buy some food coloring from the baking aisle, and that turned out well. It's essentially the same kind of dye as is in the Kool-Aid. I used a whole bottle from the mixed color package, plus a few drops of green. I wonder why you can buy individual bottles of red, green, and yellow food coloring, but not blue?

Once I had dyed it, I tackled untangling it, because I had not tied it in enough places to keep the skein neat. Ply it was a five yard skein, which is just plain annoying. Next, I will be using it to knit the Peak's Island Hood, by Ysolda Teague.

I think it will be nice and warm for the upcoming Michigan winter.

Also on the handspun front, last night I got my wheel out for the first time since the move and worked on singles for a three ply yarn that I am spinning from Dragonfly Fibers hand-dyed merino silk roving that I bought at Stitches South in 2009.

Handspun singles

From this:

Paint Progress

Today should be my final day of painting. Good thing, too, since we are having a lot of people over on Friday for a Halloween party.

Light blue cabinets

I did end up thinking that the Benjamin Moore Buxton Blue was too light. In our house full of dark colors, it ended up reading as baby blue, which wasn't good. On Monday we went to the closest hardware store and got a gallon of Dutch Boy Founding Father.

Painted cabinets

Remember, here's my inspiration, from Plain English Designs:

I'm really frustrated with myself because I think it isn't right either. I think if I hadn't been so impatient, and we had gone to the other hardware store and gotten the Benjamin Moore Jamestown Blue, which is the darker version of the Buxton Blue, then I would have had exactly what I wanted. I should have trusted my original instinct in the store that the Buxton Blue would be too light. And I should have brought home a color card and thought about it all more. I didn't have a color card at home when I decided to go darker, and I would have had to drive to the store to get one before I made my decision, whereas the other store was right around the corner, and I had a couple of colors I was looking at from there, plus I had tried to go to the other store the day before, but they were already closed. I was just too impatient, and now I think the color is too dark and kind of a boring plain blue whereas I wanted a greener, grayer blue. It's good enough, I suppose, and if the walls weren't primer white, it would probably be better. It's definitely not exactly what I wanted, but I am not going to do any more painting now. I am far too frustrated about having my kitchen and entire living area turned upside down, plus the price of paint is really adding up.

What I am totally pleased with is the repair job that Scott did on the cabinets over the sink.

As you can see, there was a stupid gap between the end of the top moulding on the side and the end on the front. This was on both cabinets on either side of the sink.

Cabinet repair before

Scott filled it in beautifully with wood putty, perfectly mimicking the molding itself.

Completed cabinet repair

I am painting the final doors today, and I will show some after photos when have put them up.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Progress and Inspiration

Over the last two days, while I had no internet access, I painted more of the kitchen. On Monday night, we went to the hardware store and priced some things and purchased others. One thing we got was a new light for the kitchen to replace the cheesy chandelier that was there. Scott installed it last night.

Kitchen Progress

He also very kindly sanded the rest of the spots that I had plastered, since sanding is one of my absolutely least favorite task. Today, I primed the rest of the walls, except the one behind the appliances because I was unable to move them.

Kitchen Progress

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Progress and diversions

Friday morning, I was distracted by looking at other people's design blogs, and I was just getting to working on plastering and sanding when we had a brown out. I ended up doing two stupid things: going to the grocery store while hungry and going to the hardware store while feeling bad about my house.

I was lucky, though, in that the hardware store was having a half-off plant sale.

New plants

I brought home some green-edged hostas and daylillies to provide some contrast to the white edges hostas in our front yard.

Yesterday, we went to the Eastern Market, a farmer's market that has been held every Saturday in downtown Detroit since 1891. According to the website, it extends for six blocks. It is a very interesting place, with local farmers, and people who bring in some produce from elsewhere, bakers, florists, and spice vendors in the main buildings, surrounded by shops selling food, drink, and candy. A lot of those buildings are butchers and fishmongers who clearly cater to restaurants, as they sell huge slabs of meat that a typical consumer would buy a slice or two of. Some of the adjacent buildings were restaurants, and some were both butcher shops and sandwich shops! We had a great time exploring, but I forgot my camera. We plan to go back next week for the beer festival, so I will try to remember then.

After we got home, Scott had to do some work for a deadline at his office. While he was doing that, I went outside and planted the things I bought Friday.

Front yard with new plants

Front yard with new plants

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Paints and dyes

In many ways, this week has been very frustrating for me. I have been preparing to paint our kitchen, which means that I have spent a fair amount of time scrubbing the walls and cabinets. This is a task that leaves very few visible results, which can be discouraging at the end of the day. Sometimes I feel like I have done little other than looking at other people's logs about what wonderful things they have done at their houses. That might be inspiring if I actually needed ideas rather than having more ideas than I can implement.

The main reasons that I haven't posted this week is that I hadn't finished anything, and for a while there, I didn't have anything to show for what I was working on.

Scott has been planning to rework his kitchen, but it still has the decor that it had when he moved in, because his plans are the ambitious kind that he is not ready to start yet.

Kitchen before

Those of you who are familiar with my taste will guess that I am not a fan of the light peachy pink walls, and I am more likely to be found freeing a tree from being strangled by ivy than using ivy in any decorative or horticultural capacity.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Pomatomus and Other Fibery Goodness

Pomatomus Sock

Tonight, I finished a pair of socks that I have been working on since August. The pattern is Pomatomus, by Cookie A. I don't know about the rest of you, but the cat kind of cracks me up in the picture above.

Pomatomus Sock

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Beet Green Quiche

Beet Green Quiche

On thing that I like to do often in the kitchen is experiment. This is somewhat ironic because I remember as a child dreading my parents' dinner experiments. To their credit, they chose a much more difficult style of cuisine to experiment with: Chinese. Also, they were experimenting from scratch, whereas I tend to experiment based on a cuisine I have cooked a lot of, and often as a twist of a specific recipe to accomodate the ingredients I happen to have on hand. I think that Chinese cooking is particularly difficult to experiment with from scratch because the sauces are so key, and they are made from combinations that most westerners would never expect. I learned that by cooking successful recipes from the fabulous cookbook: Everyday Chinese Cooking.

Last night, I experimented with a teriyaki chicken and pineapple pizza. Yesterday for lunch, I had a warm salad of sauteed beet greens and potatoes with feta. As you can see, I do this culinary experimenting often.

Tonight's recipe experiment was based on something I had played with with before: quiche. I was looking for ways to use beet greens that Scott would like. Apparently, he's never had quiche before, but it was a success; he liked it. I thought it was pretty tasty, too.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Around the House

To give you a little update about some of the things I have taken care of this week, I will begin with the garden.

Today, I took this unruly bed:

Garden Before

With this hosta being the only plant actually intentionally installed there:

Garden Before

And, accompanied by Thander:


I weeded it and reset some of the bordering bricks:

Garden After

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Sharing Steampunk

Here is a round-up of the steampunk things that have caught my eye over the last few days.

Thin Gypsy Thief is making a beautiful custom stock for a combination rifle and lap steel guitar. If you haven't seen his beautiful custom wood-working before, you really should check it out.

More stampunky goodness after the jump.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


Lately, I have been neglecting the garden. I was thinking that there were no tomatoes anywhere near ripe; the potatoes, beets and carrots will keep; and the beans were almost done. Well, I went out there, and harvested beans today because I had finally resolved to deal with blanching and freezing the drawer full of green beans I already had. I thought I would add what few beans were in the garden, from these "almost done" bean plants.

Green Bean Harvest

If there is anything this bean harvest looks like, it is not the harvest from an almost finished plant.

Tonight, I'll be pairing some of these green beans with other local produce, purple potatoes:

Purple Potatoes

We will also likely be eating the last of the apple pie we made Sunday from Ida Red apples we picked Sunday at Wasem Fruit Farm. I forgot my camera, but you can see what remains of our 1/2 bushel.

Ida Red Apples

We also made little mini half-moon shaped pies for Scott to take to work with him. I have yet to do anything with the raspberries we picked except eat them alone.

Monday, October 4, 2010

RSA Animate

Another thing I want to share that I just found is the RSA Animate. The Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures & Commerce makes super cool videos that make topics that could be boring or incomprehensible interesting. I started with this one about what motivates people.

Link Love

I would like to share a number of interesting things going on at the moment that I have been made aware of thanks to some of my friends and family.

In architectural news, there is the invention of an escalator which can form a variety of shapes, and which has no redundant steps, and therefor probably uses less energy than a pair of escalators normally would. It looks like it has a number of beautiful and useful possibilities.

Also in architecture news, Hillside House, one of the first LEED Platinum for Houses projects. This house is very unusual in its use of outdoor living space and in it's arrangement of bedrooms on the main entry floor with public areas on the top floor of the house. I am also not sure how a house with an elevator can manage to qualify for LEED Platinum.

Next, I would like to share a beautiful design blog about the use of type. I wish I could harness some of that expertise to create my new business cards.

Finally, I just read about human trial suspended animation going on at Massachusetts General Hospital. This is very similar to the cryogenic freezing found in a lot of science-fiction. The idea is that they will be able to successfully operate on trauma victims who would otherwise die.

We don't seem to be at a point of long-term cryogenics here. Probably just long enough to complete the necessary surgeries that previously would have taken too long. I imagine that prolonged freezing would lead to extensive cell death throughout the body, which would be irreversible.

Still, the are are definitely some interesting ramifications, especially when you compare this to people in a coma, etc. Even in science-fiction, a cryogenically frozen person has some function, just at an extremely low rate, whereas according to the doctor leading the research, "The body is essentially in real life suspended animation with no pulse, no blood pressure, no electrical waves in the brain."

As some comments to the article mentioned, there are possible religious implications here. Is physical death defined by the loss of all bodily function? If so, does the spirit then pass on? What happens if that person is brought back? To my mind, these people's apparent return to normal further emphasizes a disconnect between the death of the body and the death of the spirit/person. Regardless of what you believe about the existence of a soul, and what may happen to it after death, it must be acknowledged that as a population, we are probably not ready for the moral ramifications of this technology. We have been dealing with this disconnect in cases like Terri Schiavo. On the other hand, short periods of "technical" death are nothing new to medicine. I have only to think of a couple of family friends who suffered severe pneumonia and heart attacks to come up with examples of people who were in this situation for ten minutes or so. There are many stories in our culture about the tunnel and the bright light, etc. Where does the slippery slope of extreme measures lead us? Where do we draw the line?

Friday, October 1, 2010

Finished Unpacking

Craft Room

Yesterday, probably the most significant thing I tackled was emptying the rest of the moving boxes.

Craft Room

The remaining boxes are full of crafting items that were boxed up before I moved.

As you can see from the photos, there are a lot of things that won't fit in my shelves. Maybe I've crammed too much stuff into the room in general, but I clearly need more, taller shelving. I would like to be able to unpack my craft stuff and have it easily accessible and easily usable. Of course, now is not the time to be purchasing shelving.

Also, you may notice framed artwork and such in the pictures. Scott and I will be going over our stuff and figuring out together what will be going up in the rest of the house before I decide what to hang in here.