Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Simple, Green Skirt (for Twirling!)

I completed my first solo sewing project-- a simple, olive green skirt.
Nah, that isn't quite accurate.  Rather, it started out solo and then I had to enlist the help of my mother at the end.  Really though she just had to tell me to stop being a dummy (my words, not hers) and just thread my machine right.  I thought I had been, but I guess that shows I need to read more carefully!  Ah, blessed be the simple solution.

In the end it was a blessing in disguise for me to need assistance.  I took my machine and my project up to my mother's for her birthday and we had such a great time bonding and sewing all day.  She also taught me several tips and tricks that I probably would have figured out at some point, but saved me the heart-aches and frustration that would have come with learning the lesson on my own.  We agreed that we should get together for sewing more often.  When I was crying over my (improperly threaded) machine and couldn't figure out what was wrong I had lamented to Matt that I needed someone to teach me...that this is why girls learned this from their mothers...turns out with a bit of travel I could still have that with my mama.  I am excited by the prospect.

Back to the skirt:  It is something like velvet, but not velvet, I believe its called microfiber.  It was given to me for free so I figured it was a great thing to start out on.  Even if I failed, I wasn't out anything.   Because of its weight and fullness it is a great twirling skirt.  For my first attempt I am super happy with it.
This was my attempt to capture a twirl.  I enjoy that my hair is flying back as well.  It is finally getting longer!

I have been wanting to start sewing for some time now.  It is one of the homesteading skills I strongly desire to have.  Up until this point I had only done mending of store-bought garments, but I really want to create my own.

The hurdle I encountered is that I know absolutely nothing about it so I was intimidated into putting it off and putting it off and putting it off.  That doesn't make much sense though as I will NEVER learn how to do it that way!  I have noticed this habit in myself.  If I feel that I don't know what I am doing and am scared to "screw it up" I just don't do it.  As I mentioned, this is a terrible attitude that keeps me from just jumping right in!  You never know until you try, but I am, for whatever reason, hesitant to just try!  This is a trait I will slowly remove from myself.  I want to be the kind that just goes for it and learns for mistakes that result.  It is better than not making mistakes and not learning how.

I am going to make a miniature version of this skirt for my darling niece as I have a lot of the fabric leftover.

Friday, January 21, 2011

On My Mind...

Today my mind is focused on....
The recycling workroom is overfull and needs sorted and is badly in need of being hauled off.  This always happens over school breaks when the work-study students are gone, and I think perhaps our recyclers lost a little gusto even before the semesters end.  Oh well, it is a mostly thankless and disgusting job so I can hardly blame them. We finally hired some new recyclers, whom, *crosses fingers,* seem like they will work out well.  Here is hoping!

I went around to the campus buildings updating our VERY out-of-date list of recycling bin locations.  I was also trying to list all the garbage cans that didn't have a recycling bin beside it, which was harder than I expected or hoped.  One of our recycling goals is to get a blue bin next to each and every garbage can.  Oh, boy, do we have a lot of work to do!!  I put out all the recycling bins we have, but we need many, many more that we do not have.  I wonder what our budget looks like....

I would have never expected my library job to also be part-time recycling coordinator.  But, I am happy to help in any way I can.

The This Is On My Mind concept come from  Rhonda on her Down to Earth blog.

I just read her introduction to the On My Mind a little more closely and see now that I was to post something that was on my mind around the house...not at work.  Oh well, it was my first time!  :)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Recycled vs. FSC Paper

Today I am educating myself about paper! 

I am in a faculty/staff organization that is working towards greater sustainability on our campus.  The question of paper supplies arose and so I started doing a little investigating.  I learned that the printing paper we currently use is Forest Stewardship Certified (FSC), but not recycled.  A little voice inside of me cried: "Oh, we MUST get recycled paper on campus!"  However, another member suggested I look into the differences between recycled and FSC paper before leaping to any conclusions.  It was a good suggestion as I feel I have learned quite a bit on the topic and thus, can make a more educated choice--rather than just going with my gut...or rather, the voice in my head!.

What I found most troubling was that recycled paper comes mostly from pre-consumer content (i.e. waste leftover from paper manufacturing, etc).  This could theoretically mean that recycled paper is coming from poorly managed sources and is not really supporting a sustainable process.  Or, that you don't KNOW that isn't the case.  You just don't know.  At least with the FSC you have the assurance that the sources were managed sustainably, even if the material is from a "virgin" tree.  However, I also learned that one of the sources for FSC paper can be made from agricultural waste, so it might not be a tree at all!

I suppose recycled FSC would be the very best option, combining the best of both.  I wonder if I can get the mail/copy room to spring for it!

Sometimes what seems like the obvious answer when it comes to sustainability may not really the case.  That is one of the things that makes trying to lead a low-impact life so very tricky sometimes!  It is a good reminder for me as to why it is important not to just assume the recycling logo means the product has an eco-halo!  After all, they are outright trying to trick us with green-washing these days....

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Hawk vs. Sparrow

Tuesday is my day to work 1pm to 9pm.  I love it because I have so much time to run errands and do things in the morning time, even if the only thing I do is hang out with Matt.  I look forward to it each week. 

Today Matt and I were working on tie-dye.  On one of many passes through the kitchen I noticed a small hawk (sharp shinned hawk to be specific) sitting in the bird bush outside my kitchen window.  Permit me to explain the bird bush:  I have a feeder near a lilac bush right outside my kitchen window.  There are anywhere from 10 to 50 sparrows in the bush on any given day.  It is super cool because you don't usually get to be only a few feet from little birds, even if there is a window pane involved. However, usually it is only house sparrows, which cool and amusing as they are, aren't all THAT exciting.  Back to the story: So, needless to say, the hawk thought it had found itself a pretty righteous buffet spot.  Matt and I watched and waited.  The hawk watched and waited.  Sure enough, soon a handful of sparrows come wheeling in over the roof and land in the bush, like they have countless times before no doubt, but this time there is someone waiting for them!  The hawk launched into the bush after a sparrow in a crash feathers and broken twigs  and then disappeared to the ground and out of sight from the window.  With a little craning my neck I peered down to the ground and there was the hawk ripping apart a sparrow in my garden. We tried to creep outside for a more unobstructed view, but the little hawk took off with its lunch in tow. 

It was awesome, exciting, and little bit gross.

And to think, if it had happened on Wednesday I would have missed the whole thing.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tuesday's Three Thoughts

My three recurring thoughts of the day:
1.  Man, I am jazzed to see Furthur....and it is so soon!  I was listening to the New Year's Eve show earlier today and dancing around the living room.  They sound better then ever!  Oh, the excitement!

2. I am hooked on bread and would love to live on a 100%bread/cracker/bun/biscuit diet if I thought it was at all close to reasonable.  It is not.  So I don't.  But some days it is a today.  I am participating in a wellness program with my mother and sisters and one of the consequences of my participation is that I have been logging what I eat.  The bread thing was sort of startling. 

3.  I wish I could quit my job and be a housewife/homesteader.  This is not to say that I don't like my job.  I do.  And health benefits are nothing to scoff at these days.  Still, I find homesteading/household work much more personally satisfying and meaningful for the most part and by working a regular job I am less able to do all the household stuff I want.  Whatever...all in good time.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

On My Week Off From Work:

House-sat/Cat-sat for MaryAnn and enjoyed the heck out of it.  Oh, what a fat, funny cat!  She was like a black basketball with legs!  It made me miss my kitties.  It has been something like five years since I had a companion animal to brighten my life.  Oh well, its been pretty bright anyways!

Had Christmas Eve with the Schatzke's.  We went to church, played games, and I then ate far too much Chex Mix in my excitement over being in the presence of vegan Chex mix. 

Had Christmas with my dad  and Dana in Sidney.  It had been too long since I'd spent a holiday with my pa!  They had some amazing cats there too!  I had forgotten how hilarious and into-everything kittens can be.  The roads were blessedly clear and dry.  It wasn't long enough a visit, never is!  I didn't get to see everyone I would have like to, but you make do with what you get.  I did get to visit many friends like Allison, J.D., Meagan, Glenn, and Josh.  I also attended my first Boxing Day celebration where I proceeded to eat way too much was just too good....I couldn't stop myself.  Mmmmmm......Roasted garlic hummus.....oh, baby....  I could go for some right now!  Played Loaded Questions for the second time and it was just as awesome a party game as I remembered!   Oh, the laughter!!

Made fajitas from scratch for the 1st time.  Matt was so enthusiastic about them I felt I must have really succeeded.  I always worry when I start adjusting recipes on a whim as I am not exceptionally talented in the cooking department (but I am learning!).  It made me proud of how far I have come as a chef...he didn't really rant and rave about any of the "blackened" dishes that used to be my specialty.  Of course, I didn't rave about them either, but they were, if nothing else, edible.  If I keep up this practice I might gradually transform into some sort of hippie Martha Stewart.

Dusted the house from top to bottom, a task I ignore until I move something and am horrified by what I see.  Then, motivated by the dusting, I cleaned the bathroom from top to bottom and did all the laundry.

Made Miso Soup for the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd times (Matt and I both ended up liking it so much that it demanded more meals.).  It's like chicken noodle soup without the chicken!  

Organized the game closet because they were starting to overwhelm the space and spill out on to the floor.  I also had to make room for my new The Simpsons Monopoly which I got for Christmas.  It's awesome.  I got to be Mr. Burns carrying a sack of money!

Read a Kurt Vonnegut book that I had never read before and then learned they are releasing another collection of previously unpublished fiction.  Hooray!  Started book two (Sirens of Titan) in my quest to read all Vonnegut books in order. 

Took to the painful task of weeding out books until they all fit on the bookshelf again.  I have to take to this task every couple of months because the "curse" of working in a library is that you are constantly bringing home more books.  In the end I rearranged so that I only had to get rid of one.  Whew!  It looks so much better when the books aren't just stacked on top of each other and shoved in there all over the place.  It is probably something that only bothers me though. 

Organized that camp gear that had been haphazardly strewn about the basement at the end of the season and started dreaming about camping in 2011.  I already know where our first camp out will be!  We always are impatient to wait for the snow/cold in the mountains to melt off, but this year we are going to the prairie first!  It is nice there so much sooner than up in the forest and peaks.

Wrapped up shirts and onsies to be dyed.  Helped Matt do a little dying.  (Which sounds more sinister than it is...)  Started planning out our schedule of tie-dye vending gigs.  I will NOT be caught off guard again this year!

Hauled a huge car load of cardboard, cans, bottles, and paper to the recycling center. 

Walked around the neighborhood almost every day.  I really like following all the little animal tracks in the snow.  It make up for the fact that the walk is colder than in other months.  The snow is so magical and enchanting.

Labeled and organized the digital photos from 2010 and began the section process for the "Year In Photos" that I print off every January.  I love having hard copies of my photos.  I look at them more.  Plus it is a nice way fro Matt and I to work through the whole year again and reminisce about all the fun we had.  And, boy, did we have some fun!

Tried to throw a New Years Eve party centered around the live Futhur show being broadcast over XM Radio, but it ended up mostly being a bust because of technical difficulties.  The show aired for about...oh...10 minutes.  Oh well, we still had a good time anyways.  Jeremy beat me a chess.  I drank organic sparkling cider.  We made and consumed a Wacky Cake.  I always enjoy Wacky Cake more than any other chocolate cake because the recipe came from my grandmother.  It makes me feel connected with history.

Grandma's Wacky Cake:
1 1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup cold water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
Preheat the oven to 375F.

Sift together the flour, cocoa, soda, salt, and sugar. In a 2-cup measuring cup, measure and mix together the oil, cold water, and vanilla. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry and mix the batter with a fork or small whisk. When the batter is smooth, pour it into a 9 inch square cake pan.  Then, add the vinegar and stir quickly. Stir just until the vinegar is evenly distributed throughout the batter.   It should turn from dark brown to a nice light tan.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes and set aside to cool.  Frost as desired.

2010 was grand.  I don't see any indication that 2011 should be any different.  :)  I count my blessings, and they are many!