Friday, August 30, 2013

Aloha Cape!

After ages of browsing and wondering if I'd ever be skilled enough (or find out about it before it expired, rather than months after it ended), I participated in an online challenge. Me. I did it. And within the challenge deadline too! (Pause for collective swoon and recovery time...)

So what, you ask with trepidation, did I do? Relax, it is not one of my wild bucket list schemes like going to this restaurant, it's a sewing challenge. One that, for a change, caters to my quirks and allows me enough time and leeway to choose what I'm going to do and then actually get it done. Like!

The Monthly Stitch is a new sewing group with a monthly challenge. Their first challenge ever started this August. I stumbled over it in the first week, and figured "a whole month? WONDERFUL!" and joined. See my TMS button over there on the right under "Labels"? Yup, that's them. Cool, huh? I've even got an icon! I feel so grown-up now.

So the first challenge was a cape. Any cape you like - Superman, Dracula, I love Lucy, just as long as it's a cape.

Of course, I never make things easy for me (as if I need more challenge!), so after days of poring over patterns, I decided to draft my own.

Under the watchful eye of Quality Control 
Then it was onto fabric search. Scrabbling through my stash, I found this green, broadcloth-y fabric that I think is cotton, but didn't do a burn test to check.

Wash, iron, cut. Great.

The Monster Kitty Committee. It's not often Trix participates
Now for the lining. Ooooh, the lining. Choose, wash, iron, check, discard. Repeat. Over and over, like a shampoo ad! I think I unpacked half my stash before I stumbled upon this gorgeous Hawaiian print remnant sent to me by Mom G. It was perfect! Also no burn test, but it's a sateen-y cotton.

My sewing machine is still incommunicado (I'm thinking of giving up and buying a cheap machine locally), so I used my serger to seam the garment, and then handstitched a reinforcing line along the inside edge of each serged seam. Darn thing is so neat, I can wear it inside out with pride! Well, not really, because the cape is fully reversible, so all my neat edges are tucked away invisibly. It's kinda like wearing naughty underwear to a staid business meeting - wink!

Add ribbon for the closure and all done! Unfortunately, having completed my ensemble and flounced out to show Himself, he burst out laughing, so this will probably be yet another item that finds itself donated to some happy recipient of the local populace. Still, I had a ball making and modeling it!

As long as nobody notices that my Hawaiian print is upside down on the back! ;)

Friday, August 23, 2013

Engan Man

Tribal dancer from the Enga Province of the Highlands in Papua New Guinea. They recently had a big shindig in Wapenamanda, which made the news because the Prime Minister did NOT go! 

Read all about the province in this Wikipedia Article.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Cushion Cover Upcycle

On one of my gallivants through second-hand stores, I found a striped man's shirt that took my fancy. It was too big for me, but I liked the ideas I had of potential upcycles. As it turned out, the material was very warm despite being such a lightweight fabric, so it was too hot to wear here in the tropics.

File 13 all wardrobe ideas!

It spent a while hanging on the laundry hanger, haunting me, until I realized it would make a fine cushion cover! Yeah!

As I still haven't got my sewing machine working, I serged the sections and then hand stitched a line of sewing inside the serge line for extra strength. Talk about dedication, right?

Due to the armscye, the positioning was forced to be right at the end of the shirt, which left me short a button and buttonhole on the finished product. I didn't want to unpick the thing just to add one. When I looked at it, though, I figured I could just sew a button on in the right place so that it looked right, but skip the buttonhole. The buttons were not really necessary, just a nice touch to aid removing the cover for cleaning. So I sewed one onto the carefully measured (finger-width transfer) spot, and it worked just fine. 
Monster Kitty Quality Control Service was in full swing the whole time. I tried distracting her with food, a cuddly snooze spot, a dedicated period of personal attention... but no, she followed me everywhere giving me the Filthy Look Treatment. 

"Why are you working on this when you should be giving me rubs?"

"Hmmm... soft enough, but a bit bigger perhaps?"
Eventually I managed to wrest the finished product out from under the Wrath of Khan Kitty and tucked it into place on the loveseat. No, I didn't make the Angry Birds cushion, it was a Valentine's gift for Himself, and I love it. Perhaps I'll try to make the other Birds and a Piggy.

Now to start on the bigger cushions. :)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

I'd have been an Italian Renaissance Beauty

On Sunday I stumbled across a new blog and read an interesting article on Raphael's painting of the Three Graces.

Suddenly, as I read through the blog post and got to the reference of "soft bodies", I realized that I have similar figures to these ladies. If I lived during Raphael's time, I'd not be feeling uncomfortable about my figure, unhappy about my thighs or my "jelly belly" - I'd be a Beauty!

My tummy is a little more rounded than the Graces', but otherwise I'm pretty close. I have the same rounded curves, voluptuous rear, and shapely curves.

For the longest time I've felt fat and fairly unattractive. I've not enjoyed the loss of self esteem that has come with that feeling. Perhaps the idea that a few hundred years ago I may have been desirous will help me feel better today.

At least until I go outside again. :(

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Let them eat (gluten-free) cake - but not too much.

Nothing quite as delicious and delightful as a chocolate frosted chocolate cake, right? What about the five-minutes-on-the-lips-a-lifetime-on-the-hips concern?

Himself has the perfect answer. If you don't have it, you won't eat it. Yeah, but, seriously? Never eat cake?

Even when it's a gluten free chocolate cake? This gluten free chocolate cake?

 The not quite as extreme solution is to have less cake around, then you will still eat cake, but not have quite as much.

Ta dah! The gluten free chocolate ca! Geddit? Half a cake so it's a ca? Geddit? Huh? Oh, never mind...

No, cynic, I didn't eat half the cake just to prove my point.

GF cake mixes, like this Betty Crocker GF Chocolate cake mix, don't make as much cake as normal flour mixes. If you want a standard two-layer chocolate cake with frosting and a creamy center, you actually have to bake two mixes. Which means you have to mix two mixes. Twice the work, twice the mess. Seeing as I'm not a fan of cooking in the first place, tying myself in for double trouble is not my version of yum. I'm likely to just give up the entire idea and go buy some.

Besides, as mentioned, we're trying to eat LESS. Buying a whole cake counts as more, the last time I checked!

Enter Toni's Sneaky Method of Eating Glorious Two-layer Cake with Only Half the Trouble.

Bake one mix of gluten free chocolate cake in a standard cake tin. Allow to cool and tip out onto a plate.

Cut the cake in half.

Slather one half with creamy center filling.

Flip the second half on top of the center, matching two halves.

Frost the outside.

Cut into slices and serve before anyone notices that you're missing half a cake and thinks you're a greedy wench!


P.S. Himself has just noticed this post and is slavering.
Memo to me: post my food entries at midnight locked in the bathroom!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Walt Longmire - the books before the TV series

There is much debate on whether or not books being converted to movies or TV series is a good thing or destroys the book for those who have not yet read it. Sometimes the interpretations are excellent, other times they actually put folks off reading the book that fathered the screenplay.

Walt Longmire has recently made it to the Small Screen. I've watched only two episodes, and it's not badly made. I don't necessarily agree with their casting choices, but they are catering to a wider audience than the readers of the books.

I must be honest that I prefer the books, though. :)

Junkyard Dogs (Walt Longmire Book 6)
Author: Craig Johnson
Amazon BlurbOne blizzardy February day, Walt and his deputies—Victoria Moretti and Santiago Saizarbitoria—visit the Durant, Wyo., dump, owned by the Stewart family, to investigate a severed thumb found in a discarded cooler. There they discover that the Stewart family patriarch, George, was almost killed after someone dragged him behind a '68 Toronado. Walt winds up playing peacemaker between the cantankerous Stewarts, longtime Durant residents, and the owner of a new housing development bordering the junkyard. When a search of the dump unearths a surprising side business and two deaths follow, Walt realizes he has bigger problems on his hands. Series fans as well as newcomers will cheer the laconic Walt every step of the way.

Review: No flashbacks this time, just a pack of dogs, a man looking for a thumb, a deputy under stress and another who wants a house. A normal sheriff’s office in a normal small town, with the obligatory odd characters and country quirks.

And then, not exactly.

I love how Johnson develops the stories, building upon the normal, introducing the ridiculous that is normal in every community, and eventually revealing the unusual, the criminal, the ugly that is found with every good and bad.

This was extremely entertaining, had me laughing out loud on several occasions, and a great read that had me totally engrossed. This is one of the books that makes me glad that this is a series, and even happier that I have another to read.

Hell is Empty (Walt Longmire Book 7)
Author: Craig Johnson
Amazon BlurbRaynaud Shade, an adopted Crow Indian rumored to be one of the country's most dangerous sociopaths, has just confessed to murdering a boy ten years ago and burying him deep within the Bighorn Mountains. Walt is asked to transport Shade through a blizzard to the site, but what begins as a typical criminal transport turns personal when the veteran lawman learns that he knows the dead boy's family. Guided only by Indian mysticism and a battered paperback of Dante's Inferno, Walt braves the icy hell of the Cloud Peak Wilderness Area, cheating death to ensure that justice—both civil and spiritual—is served.

Review: Much as I have enjoyed the entire series thus far, this one was a little far out for me. There was the usual suspense and drama that Johnson has done so well before, with a good dose of Cheyenne spiritualism that I usually enjoy, but he crosses the line into the supernatural that became hard to bear.

It all began as standard police work, but it became a personal story of endurance to the brink of madness. At some points, you wonder how much is real and how much is hallucination, at one point, even the characters in the book believe Walt tipped over the edge. I tried hard to follow the story, but Johnson is a master at weaving the storyline, and reality blurs into belief seamlessly.

These are my negative aspects, and they did factor for me. I’m not sure if I’m going to rush to buy the next book that I hear is being released shortly.

However, Johnson is still an extremely skilled author, he makes each story true and I feel like I walked every step up that mountain with Sheriff Longmire, I heard the wail of the wind, and felt the cold of the snow. Don’t let my opinions prevent you from experiencing this adventure for yourself. Rather read it and let me know what YOU think!

Friday, August 16, 2013


Friday Photo today is the Bilum - a woven bag that is carried by both men and women in Papua New Guinea.

Often the bag is slung round the neck and worn either on the stomach or the back. Sometimes the handle is worn around the forehead, with the bag hanging down the back, so that the wearer carries the weight of it in the head and neck.

It's generally home made, woven by a female member of the family, and the designs are varied and usually stunning. The colors are as varied as any you'd see in a Botanical Garden, the designs sometimes haphazard, sometimes geometric, occasionally patriotic with flag designs or colors, and even whimsical, like this fun rendition seen at a "Sing-sing" - a dance celebration.

Thursday, August 15, 2013


I love strawberries, but we seldom get this juicy red fruit. And on the occasions we do we have to snap them up and gobble them up. Unfortunately they go off really quickly, so same day or next day munchies is required if you don't want to throw half the batch away because they've gone off. Of course, being so rare, they normally ARE gobbled up real quick! :)

However, it's not just the rarity of these sweet, seeded treats that means we get to enjoy them less often. It's the exorbitant price!

For this small plate of only 15 strawberries, we paid K17. That's about $8.50 - more than 50c each!

 Just to give you some perspective, the container is about 3.5inches square.

Please note - these are IN season berries. O.O!

How much are strawberries where you live?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Nail Varnish - more than just for nails

I got this crappy old book stand, rusty and bent. After cleaning the dirt and rust and straightening the bent bits, I used it for a while. But the pins were still not smooth and neat and the papers kept getting stuck on it. So I had to come up with an idea of how to change that. After inspecting it for a while, I decided I needed to paint them, but I didn't have any paint. Rummage a while and... ta da! Nail varnish! Not just for nails, right? :)

Although the nail varnish is relatively thick, I still had to do multiple coats to cover the metal properly.

I started by removing all the pins and painting as much as I could, in small sections, layer by layer, then put it back into the stand to do the last bits. A bit awkward and fiddly, but it worked well.

Unfortunately, it turned into a long process and I got bored. Boredom and me, we don't place nice. Nail varnish is not particularly bothered by my personal ennui - it dries anyway. Fast! So I could not stop mid-project. Huh. Well... distraction is... yellow?

When I finally got over the distraction phase, I managed to get the rest of the pins painted. A collection of nail varnish turned into a nice rainbow of painted pins, and it was fun, even if it took a whole lot longer than I anticipated.

Doesn't it look good?

Yeah, one of my better ideas I think.


 I'm really happy with this.

It looks even better when it's filled with my recipe books.

Oh, and the distraction...?

Yeah, it got kinda expanded.

Himself was horrified. "You're going out like that?" Erm... yes? And I did! Got me a LOT of attention. Not all bad. :D

Would you wear crazy nails in public?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Tote 'em UP

I had a funny idea to make a bag. No real reason, but I felt like it. I'd seen a few totes online and thought it would be fun to try. So I did.

I think I did great, myself. :)

Unfortunately I decided that it would make a great gift for somebody and only grabbed these shots in the garden out the door to the car, so please excuse the odd photos.

The recipient loved it, and I got a ton of folks asking me for one. But it seems an awful lot of work for the price they were willing to pay for it (about US$10.)

What would charge if you made it?

Monday, August 12, 2013

Salad Daze

My sister makes the coolest salads. I'm talking umh-umh-umh delish, give-up-your-cheeseburger-and-fries-forever good. Well, maybe not forever.,, but definitely your future go-to fav!

Unfortunately, my sister doesn't live in even the same hemisphere as me, so I don't get my salads made for me any more. Note: my version of "rich" is never having to cook for myself again. You can have your Porsches and Prada, I just want a chef!

So, I emailed sis and asked for the "recipe". Is it just me who thinks it's kinda odd asking for a recipe for salad? Just feels, you know, weird!

While the idea was brilliant, the action was a dud. Turns out 2/3 of the items in the ingredients list are either not available, or way, way overpriced in the supermarkets locally. I ended up with the concoction you see here. It was okay, edible even. Just not the salad my sister knows how to make. sob...

However, for those of you lucky puppies who live in the land of instant gratification, I have copied the recipe for you below. Try it. And don't blame me if you give up junk food. I warned you!

Hey Sis,

You'll need lots of patience for chopping things, but I find that therapeutic. LOL

I put the following in my salads:-
Mixed salad leaves torn up into bite size
Cherry tomatoes sliced in half
Cucumber cut into quarters (slice in half down middle, then half again & chop)
Baby corn sliced
Celery sliced
Olives halved
Avocado pear cut up into cubes
Black or red seedless grapes halved
Feta cheese cubed or crumbled
Carrots can either be sliced or grated

Then I squeeze a fresh lime (remove pips before squeezing) over the top with virgin olive oil & toss :)

Season with salt & black pepper

Portion is dependent on how much you are making for, so for two ppl I do 2 stick celery, 1 large carrot, handful grapes, large handful tomatoes, 5 baby corn, handful olives, small avo, 1/3 cucumber & 1 block feta & however much salad leaves. :)

Hope you enjoy!

What are your fav salad ingredients?