Sunday, June 26, 2011

the goose loves summer

It IS officially summer, even though Portland is still working on convincing itself of that fact. So to honor my favorite season of the year and to convice myself it is summer (at least on my computer if not outside), I changed up the blog colors. Can't say it's my favorite combo ever, but it'll do for awhile. I'm thinking later this summer we'll go with a crisp navy blue...

Thursday, June 16, 2011

the goose loves brigid & jack

So here is the first (of many?) East Coast Vacation posts. It just might be the first and last East Coast Vacation post, so please savor it. It's not that our trip to NY/DC wasn't exciting, or that we forgot to take pictures. Because we didn't forget - we didn't forget over 900 times to take pictures... we remembered, which leaves us with 900+ pictures. Which is really the base problem here. 900 pictures is overwhelming! It makes me shiver a bit at the thought of scrapbooking, online-photo-book-making, or even blogging about those fun times because there are just SO MANY photos! I'll get over it soon enough, little by little, but for now this is the one East Coast Vacation trip entry you'll have to enjoy.

After spending almost a week in the glorious city of New York celebrating my brother and his graduation from NYU (see, doesn't that make you tingle with excitement at hearing about the rest of the trip?! actually, probably not, considering that over 75% of my loyal readers actually went on the trip with me. btw, 75% of 4 people is just 3. we didn't take a busload of followers to NY.), we went to DC for four days to visit our college buddy and billy's college roomie Bradford. This DC visit also included a wonderful visit to my aunt Veronika and her family in Alexandria, VA (lovely place, if you haven't yet been).

We came over on Sunday afternoon to visit with her, her husband Phil, and their adorable children Jack (almost 3 years old!) and Brigid, who had turned 1 a few days earlier. Before leaving for the East Coast, I tested my "mad" sewing skills and used the opportunity to craft up some baby/child projects. At this point in my life, there are too many adorable child-related projects and not enough children.

So I decided to go with a stuffed animal for Jack and a blanket/stuffed animal combo for the birthday girl. And here's what I came up with!

For Jack, I used a Simplicity pattern I found at JoAnns during a 99-cent or $1.99 pattern sale. This little elephant buddy was finalized the night before we left. Actually, I sewed up the hole in his back (used for stuffing him) while we were in the East. Procrastinator? Yes. But in my opinion, he turned out super cute.
Although I thought the little contrast patches on his paws would be tricky, they turned out okay. The trickiest part ended up being the tusks, which look okay in the photo above, but not so great in that top photo... oh well. Maybe we'll skip the tusks next time.

Then, for little Brigid, I sewed up an owl stuffed animal using a homemade pattern. I found an image of the owl fabric used below online, enlarged it, and singled out one owl shape. I then made a couple copies of the pattern, using one to cut out the outline and one to cut out the eyes, eyeballs, nose, tummy, feet, etc.

The feet ended up to be too narrow to sew inside out and turn for a seamless look, so I just sewed two pieces together and used Fray Block on the edges. Flatter than I imagined, but not too horrid looking.

So here's the back. For the wings, I pulled out the pattern for the penguin wings I made awhile back. They worked pretty decently. I decided to two-tone them, but leave them flat (unstuffed).

And the sweet "B" is for Brigid, of course! She can already start learning how to spell her name...

And a close-up of the B.

To attach the eyes, eyeballs, tummy, and B to the body pieces, I used this interfacing stuff that acts like glue. You iron it to the wrong side of one fabric, and then iron that onto your other fabric. Great for applique and stuff. However, for best performance, you should then "seal" the two pieces by topstiching them together. This is the step I forgot.

Once I started stuffing the owl, I noticed the applique-d pieces starting to pull away from the body fabric. No good. So I stuck some fabric glue under the gaps for a temporary solution, but brought along some thread and a needle with me to NY.

On the train ride from NY to DC, I sat there sewing the applique-d pieces to the body. In the photo above, you can probably see the small white stiches along the side of the tummy.

If you look carefully at the bottom of the eye, you can see the same stitches. I also did this around all edges of the "B" on the back, using pink thread (see above). This worked out fine, and I kinda like the look, but next time I'll just topstich them down.

Part 2 of Brigid's present was a baby quilt - baby because it's for a young person, and baby in its size. I used the same fabric as the stuffed owl, with a brown satin binding.

And another angle...

And the blanket folded another way...

Overall, my first experience "quilting" with cuddle fabric (that super soft stuff) was not good. As in, I definitely cried out of frustration at least twice. Lucky for Brigid, my good husband Billy spent almost an hour with the quilt top and my seam ripper fixing my mistakes while I curled up into a ball and cried, wailing about giving up sewing forever. She has a soft blanket now because of him. :)

Once I finally lined up the pieces in the right order and in the right place, the quilt generally came together. Technically, one side is crooked - the pink border gets bigger across the top, rather than being even all the way, but oh well.

Here it is, just about full-size... probably 1.5' x 3.5' total?

And yes, I'm totally building a fence like this in a nicely grassy landscaped yard to display all my future quilts. Thank you, stranger in DC, whose nice fence I borrowed for this photo.

Here's Brigid and Jack's gifts all wrapped up (note the nice color-coordinated bags we cleverly found at CVS before heading over).

And the best pictures of all - my adorable cousins:

A big thanks to Billy for snapping these shots, and a bigger thanks to Jack & Brigid for "posing" so nicely and for being so cute.

All in all, visiting Veronika, Phil, Jack & Brigid was a highlight of our entire East Coast trip. It made me want to set up camp in Alexandria and hang out with them all the time. I'd even babysit for free! We had a lovely time at the park, and Jack held my hand all the way back, pointing out the color of all the cars on the street (he even got colors like grey and gold!). Phil made a delicious dinner and we had a great time chatting with them into the evening. We were sad to say goodbye, especially since the kids will proably be at least a foot taller by the time we see them again. So thank you for the great visit, and I hope the soft toys will be loved for a long time!

Friday, June 10, 2011

the goose loves pike's

A week ago, Billy had a pipe band competition in Bellingham, WA (about 2 hours north of Seattle). Wanting a buddy for the drive up, he convinced me to come along and stay at my sister's in Seattle while he was competing. They ended up winning the competition (maybe by default, since no other band showed up in his division) so we went out that night to celebrate.

We went to downtown Seattle and ate at Pike's Brewery. Here I am with their gigantic menu.
And peeking over the top of it, once I decided I was going to get the Kiltlifter Mac n Cheese.

And some "fashion" shots...

This one is for my mom... the more modest version ;). (Mom - don't look above).

And my cute husband.

Mmmmm... and our food! Here's my mac n cheese:

And Billy enjoyed some delicious fish n chips.

It was a fun evening, and nice to hang out and chat together.

Friday, June 3, 2011

bentley loves (chewing on) beds

The day we brought Bentley home, we bought him a round little purple puppy bed, with a padded bottom and cushiony sides. He loved sleeping in it (see poorly-lighted photo below). Isn't he so small and cute?!?!
As he grew, he still enjoyed sleeping and snuggling in his little bed, often with his stuffed puppy toy. However, he also enjoyed chewing on it and destroying it just as much as sleeping in it.Sometimes he didn't sleep in his little bed, but instead slept in our big bed. I think this is one of my favorite pictures of him - little puppy sleeping next to his big puppy toy.
Here's a sleepy little Bentley next to his puppy toy again - they were best friends until Bentley ripped the stuffing out of its tummy.

But as time went on, the bed became more raggedy as Bentley chewed on it, and Bentley got bigger, too, while the bed stayed the same. Not so perfect fit here:

So I decided I'd make Bentley a new bed! We got a piece of foam at JoAnns, on sale for 50% off, and a yard and a quarter of fleece, also 50% off.

I measured the foam and sewed the material together, pillowcase-style, to fit. On the closed corners, I sewed a seam diagonally, cutting off the "sharp" corners that would stick out from the foam and give Bentley more leverage to chew on.

I then cut out a flap to seal the "pillowcase" like an envelope, and sewed it to one of my loose ends. I then folded the loose corners like a present and pulled the flap down over the edge and onto the back of the bed. I secured the flap with several velcro strips and squares, and sewed them down to ensure a "long" life.

I probably should have taken a photo of the envelope flap closure... oh well.

Overall, Bentley loves his new bed. He lays on it while we make dinner (usually with the motivation of some small treats or bits of cheese) and likes to chew on his bone on it. He usually ends up laying across the whole thing and sometimes hangs off the edge... if his bone falls and rolls on the floor, he goes to get it and climbs back on the bed, resettles himself, and continues chewing.

Somtimes he lays on the bed with just his tummy and arms, and his feet still on the floor. Hilarious.

He still likes to chew on the bed and drag it around, and I'm not ready for my hard work to go to waste yet, so sometimes his bed is confiscated. But when he's good and sleepy, he really enjoys laying down on it and takes good care of his little sharkies. Hopefully it'll last him awhile longer!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

the goose loves ribs

A few weeks ago, Billy was watching Anne Burell's cooking show on the Food Network when she was making ribs. She said something like "If your meat is too thick, you need to pound it" or something, and Billy thought that was unforgettably hilarious, for not-so-clean reasons. So since he has been unable to get the idea of ribs out of his head we decided to make them for Memorial Day.We picked up a half rack of ribs at New Seasons - a little over 1lb. Billy found a tasty recipe online, which he altered only slightly. It included a dry rub, which you leave on the meat for as many hours as possible (like 8), then baking the ribs in a foil packet filled with a brining-type liquid. Once baked, the liquid is reduced to a syrupy consistency and spread on the ribs, which are then broiled for less than 10 minutes. The result? A sticky-sweet-slightly-spicy crust on deliciously soft and moist ribs. YUM.
In less-adventurous culinary style, I whipped up some parmesan polenta (super easy) and tried a new recipe called "Breaded Brussel Sprouts." It sounds like you heat a vat of oil and deep fry the normally-healthy vegetable, but you actually just clean the sprouts, boil them for 5 minutes, sprinkle some parmesan and breadcrumbs over them, coat them in a little melted butter, and broil for 5 minutes. Easy. And tasty! Next time I'll cut the sprouts in half before broiling, but otherwise delicious.

While we enjoyed our delicious dinner and tried to keep the dog away from our delicious dinner, we watched The Social Network. Best movie ever? Not so much. Should it have beat out The King's Speech for best movie or whatever? Not at all. Not even close. Averagely decent entertainment for our low-key Sunday night? Yeah, I'd say so.

Honestly, though, if you want a good show, though, you need to get your butt to Bridesmaids. BEST. MOVIE. EVER. High-larious, as Carolyn would supposedly say. Billy and I saw it with Jackie and WOW. That movie kicks butt. If you'd rather laugh throughout a movie than just sit there and watch it, go see Bridesmaids. But more on that later.