April 13, 2013

Counting Calories?

I truly believe that a picture is worth 1,000 words. Or in this case, a few thousand calories.

Ukrainian and Russian nibbles for my knitting club. Jelly filled donuts, Lepeshki, Ukrainian Poppy Seed Cake, Mini Lemon Bundt Cakes, and more donuts -- all served in vintage Pyrex. Of course.  

Hankering for more Pyrex eye-candy? Check out my latest post on the Pyrex Collective III blog here.

(That's all for today. My last post was a bit long, and after baking that mess above, I'm still too exhausted to write anymore!) 

April 11, 2013

Handmade Wedding Invitations

I promised you a little tutorial on how I made my wedding invitations here.

I knew I wanted to make my invitations from the start. I have always enjoyed working with paper (and as obsessive as I am about yarn... paper and I go way back. I think it's still my favorite. Just don't tell that basket of wool sitting next to the stack of scrapbooking supplies.) 

I didn't get married that long ago... but Pinterest wasn't around for ideas when the Sailor and I finally tied the knot. Thankfully, Michaels and and other craft stores were. Nowadays, there seems to be no shortage of places to purchase supplies -- at least here in America. (For those of you who don't live near massive chain stores... I do still believe that sometimes the most creative projects blossom with using only what's on hand! I also believe in Etsy... and how easy it is to order something from across the globe.)

Nevertheless, I did have an arsenal of craft supplies at my ready. Because I married a sailor, and since we met on a ship, I wanted to somehow incorporate a sea theme into the invitations. I also knew that many people wouldn't make the wedding due to travel, so I spent extra time and money on the invitations. I wanted to give the people who couldn't make it, their own little keepsake of our day. 

I started by scratching out some ideas in my notebook. I find that some people are afraid to even sketch ideas -- like they will mess up. Impossible, I say... that's why you sketch the idea. 

Most of the time, my finished product only resembles the sketches in one small way. In this case, I took away the concept of putting the info on handmade luggage tags. The Sailor and I traveled a lot in our dating years, and we still do today, so I wanted that to be part of the theme. 

I knew I wanted to put all of the info on the luggage tags -- I've always loved scrapbooks and invitations that are very hands on. I thought it would be fun for people to pull out each tag for the information. 

Once I found the blue paper, it all kind of fell into place.

Each tag held various bits of essential information: 

Shore leave: I used a printed map of South Africa on the front, and on the back, listed the nearest transportation hubs.  

Navigation: The Sailor acquired some old navigation charts for me to use on the front of these. On the back, more specific details of where the wedding would be held and how to book rooms at the location.

Port History: The photo on the front is one of the Anastasis Mercy Ship -- where we met. You can see from the photo below, I listed the port cities we traveled to together. I also found small silver beads and tied them onto the hemp on this tag -- they reminded me of miniature wedding rings.

SOS: Life-ring on the front; RSVP contact info on the back.

Once I got the luggage tags together, I still needed a way to keep them all together with the invitation. A friend of mine helped and we came up with the idea to use a flap, and then we hammered little brads in to keep the flap from falling apart. 

I wrote the actual invitation by hand on the inside of the invitation, and the flap held all of the tags. I chose a Bible verse that seemed particularly applicable to our situation, and put the first half on the front, and the second half on the flap.  

For half of our dating life, and now our marriage, 
we have been separated by a sea.
"Many waters cannot quench love, rivers cannot wash it away..." 
Song of Songs 8:7

I tied everything together with hemp (I love using hemp for all kinds of projects, but this time, it looked a little like mooring lines) and I found little anchor trinkets to put on the front. I also used necklace clasps on the hemp -- I searched until I found ones that looked a little like a life-ring.  

I also tied the bottom of the invitation together with a little hemp knot -- you can see the brad, but I've already untied the bottom. 

Our wedding was on a serious budget. The Sailor was in navigation school right before we married, and I was working as a volunteer with various non-profits. I decided to splurge though on the invitations, but in the end, to make and mail 60 of them (many of them internationally), only cost about $200. 

I never bothered to price what it would have cost to have someone else print them for me, but I don't think it would have been much cheaper. Plus, I love how they turned out.

After the wedding, I ended up using the same luggage tag and blue theme for my scrapbook to showcase a few photos. 

Like the invitation, I used the tags to write info on the back. For these 'style' shots, I wrote stories of when and where I got various bits of my wedding ensemble. 

I also used the tags and leftover anchors as part of my thank you notes. 

I think overall, people 'got' the sea and traveling theme, and they felt included in the day, even if they couldn't make it.
Have you previously made, or are you currently creating invitations for anything by hand? I'd love to hear your ideas.  

April 7, 2013

Work in Progress

I used to be the type of person who only read one book at a time. I may have read voraciously, but I still kept to one book. I couldn't understand how people could keep plots and characters straight if they read two or more books at once. 

That didn't stop me from carting around more than one book when I traveled, though. I had to finish one before I started another, but I still had more than one with me. That was a total pain. (Luggage limits aside... schlepping a bag full of heavy books around on a train isn't exactly fun.)

Over the holidays, I acquired a nook. The Sailor suggested I get some sort of e-reader, especially for traveling. He thought it would come in handy. On our recent travels, instead of taking four books with me, I only had to bring one nook. I even found myself reading more than one book at a time on it. 

Now, I find that in addition to the books I'm reading on my nook, I also have several scattered around the apartment that I'm reading at the same time. 

I'm not sure when exactly this transition happened, but apparently I really can read more than one book at a time. 

Similarly, I used to be a one-fiber-project-at-a-time kind of person. I usually had to finish a crocheted blanket, or a knit sock, before I could think about starting a new project. 

This weekend, I Iooked around the apartment and gasped. With the Sailor gone, I tend to leave my craft paraphernalia all over the place, and I noticed I had not one, not two, but FIVE W.I.P.S. 

(For those uninitiated into yarn verbiage: W.I.P. = Work In Progress. A W.I.P. means you have things 'on the needles' as they say, but not yet finished.)

There's this shawl (Citron Grand, if you're wondering): 

A (headless) knit bobble sheep pillow:  
(Get the free pattern here at Purl Bee)

A possible crocheted sweater (as yet undecided if this yarn will work for it):


A basic baby blanket: 

Plus I'm about to cast on for another pair of fuzzy slippers like these. (Spring may be here, but my feet still get cold. You can read more about my slipper obsession here.)

I almost forgot... I also still have a bag of granny squares that I need to do something with. 

I like that I've got so much going on though. It means that when I was going out the door for the camera club the other night, I didn't have to hunt for a project to work on during the meeting. (The irony is not lost on me -- knitting at a camera club meeting...) I grabbed the shawl, knowing that I could easily squeeze a few rows in without a problem. The sheep? His head needs to wait until I can concentrate on it (no TV, or distractions). The baby blanket? Easy to work on while carrying on a conversation when friends come over. 

Clearly, I've gotten over my issues of working on only one thing at a time. I blame the nook.

April 4, 2013


Today was a perfect laundry day. Cold, but perfectly windy for drying clothing outdoors. 

Clothespins are of course essential when hanging the washing outside. They also make for a fun photo experiment. I love taking simple everyday things and making them into art.

Today was also my local camera club meeting. You may remember from this post that I used to be a little skeptical of my camera club. Now that I'm in my third season with the club, I've grown to appreciate it, and I've definitely learned a lot.  

Plus I'm a little competitive. I did well the first year in Category B, and earned enough points to work my way up to Category A. Last year I also did well (although some of the best photographers were nowhere to be found that year!) So far this year, I scored highly in the first competition of the season with several photos -- Knit Lit is still one of my favorites. 

I didn't want to miss out on entering the competition while we were in South Africa, so I left my photos with another member to enter for me. 

I kind of forgot about the whole thing until tonight, when I got my photos back. I've already shown you this one that tied for second place in the color category. 

Tonight I discovered that the black and white one above, 'Pinned' tied for second place in the black and white category. 

Our next competition is looming -- I can enter one color, one black and white, and one with the theme of 'mostly yellow'. I have some ideas brewing in my mind... sunflowers may be involved. Regardless of whether I win, I'll be sure to share the results with you. 

April 2, 2013

Gathering the Gooseberries

I went through a little bit of thrifting withdrawal on our recent travels. (Or 'drifting' as the Sailor likes to refer to my junking habit.) 

I think thrifting is the ultimate form of recycling though. Besides, who doesn't like a good treasure hunt? 

This weekend, I went out for coffee with my mom, and on my way to exchange some yarn in between, we stopped briefly at the nearby thrift store. 

THIS... in its full glory, called out my name. 

Those of you who know your vintage Pyrex will know that this Gooseberry refrigerator set is not an easy one to come by. I've seen the prices on eBay and frankly, it scared me off of ever finding one in an antique store, let alone a thrift store. 

But a few months back, I found this lonely little dish here. And I got a little glimmer of hope that more Gooseberry must be out there somewhere, at a reasonable price. 

My mom said she thought she saw rainbows burst out of me when I saw the full fridge set. You can read that story here and see what else I bought that day. I know I spent more money than usual (seriously people, I'm more of a bargain thrifter, not splurger... but occasionally there are times when rainbows burst out of me and I can't control myself...)

Of course my rule in purchasing Pyrex is that I have to actually use it. It can't just sit there looking pretty (although it IS pretty, isn't it?!) 

Avocado and tomato salad, along with homemade fennel soup. I remembered I had a fennel soup recipe I wanted to try out, so I purchased some at the local farmer's market. 

I've never used fennel in anything before -- but it is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. The soup was little more than butter, onion, garlic, chicken stock and the fennel... but I think the secret was in cooking the fennel for at least 30 minutes to bring out the flavor. Yum.

As usual, everything tasted better in Pyrex.