Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Iron Craft: Where We Come From

As I said in my last Iron Craft post, participating in this awesome group has facilitated a number of unexpected discoveries about my cultural background. I have strengthened my relationship with my mother who is sadly moving soon to Florida. I've tried some crafts and learned new techniques that were in small ways similar to Gujarati art and culture.

Gujarat is a state on the Western coast of India. The part of the family that still lives there are in a little farming town called Ghala.

I hesitated doing something that was distinctly Gujurati. To be honest, that's a little daunting. I can't catch up on thousands of years of cultural development in a one week challenge.

I did try. I photocopied an embroidery pattern and then used transfer paper to put it on a onesie. After an hour of working at it, I realized I would never get this project done. Also the fabric was slippy and not so easy to work.

I decided to switch gears.

I have this old photo of my mother and myself as a baby. It was taken 39 years ago in the little town where she lived while waiting to be reunited with my father. I love this photo. In it she has roses in her hair. She used to love roses and her family had rose bushes near their house. She told me that she would put roses in her hair as often as possible, smelling their sweet scent all day long as she attended school. Apparently my father wouldn't let her plant rose bushes when they moved to the States. I don't exactly know why. Maybe he thought they were decadent or frivolous. Still to this day she does not have roses in her garden.

See why I had to use this photo?

I love that there is a mirror on the left side of this photo. It shows some of curls in my hair although my hair wasn't as curly as my little Lotus Bud. Also I feel like I recognize my mother in the mirror image, more so than the young, very thin women in the forefront of the photo. See the bracelets on me, the little baby? My grandmother took some of her own gold jewlery, had it melted down, and made into bracelets for me. I have those and really must make a point of taking more pictures of Lotus Bud wearing them.

I scanned in the photo and had to do some touch-up because there was a tear in the top center. It's not perfect but it is way better than it was when I scanned it in. I printed the photo onto some photo transfer paper which was then ironed onto a dress I made for the Lotus Bud.

Before I could print, I had select some other images to print out on the 8 x 11 iron-on transfer paper. Those were $7.99 for only three sheets. Thankfully I had a 40% off coupon but still it feels ridiculously expensive. I didn't want to waste any of it even if I don't get to using those other images right away.

I wanted to do another dress because this would allow me to continue working on my sewing skills. Sewing is something I hope to do more of as the Lotus Bud gets older. I think hand-made clothes are so much better than store-bought ones.

Although this isn't a Gujarati art or craft project, it definitely shows where I come from. I was born not far away from the town where this photo was taken. And I love the idea that Lotus Bud can wear us on her dress!

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

21 - Urban Chicken

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Friday, May 20, 2011

20 - Bete Grise Mailboxes

Imagine living in this small of a town? Sounds dreamy, doesn't it?
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19 - The Yurts

Some yurts at Mount Bohemia in the Keweenaw Peninsula. Apparently they serve some fine, upscale food in these yurts (see the end of the video for examples).
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Thursday, May 19, 2011

18 - Lake Harriet

One day last week it was warm and beautiful. Just one day. I'm so glad I got to walk around Lake Harriet!
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17 - First Sign of Spring

Unfurling hostas signal to me that Spring is finally here.
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16 - Cotton Balls in the Sky

These clouds were amazing but they did not deliver the heavy storm that I was expecting.

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I'm behind on posting my photos. These next few days is all about catching up.
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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Iron Craft: To a Tee

Iron Craft challenge #20 was to redo/upcycle a T-shirt.

Yah, sure I could have done a freezer paper stencil. That's right, I could have taken the easy way out. Easy for me, that is. I've been doing freezer paper stencils since Lotus Bud was born. Sounds impressive, right? She's only 15 months old so it hasn't been all that long.

Instead I seriously considered doing something a little special for me. Then I remembered I look awful in t-shirts. Even worse now that my body is a bit bigger, not to mention the big breastfeeding boobs lying behind that piece of cotton.

No t-shirt upcycle for me.

I did have a few t-shirts sitting around that I had planned to stencil for myself. Instead I used them to work out at the gym, but that quickly stopped when I was reminded of how awful I looked in t-shirts. They've been sitting around, crowding my drawer.

I ended up doing a sewing project for the Lotus Bud. I got there in a wind-y fashion, jumping from one website to another. Jeez, I love the internet when I need to find a craft project. I found this site on re-doing t-shirts, from there moved to this site which had awesome instructions for making toddler dresses. I went to my mother's house on Friday to get some help sewing and to use her sewing machine. Realized early on that I was going to have to find an alternative to sewing on the roses, so I turned to the craft people at Iron Craft for inspiration. Linda at laf...artsin' and craftsin' had made fabric rosette bookmarks for last week's challenge and thankfully, included the link to instructions that required no sewing, just fabric adhesive (at Skip to my Lou).

Still with me? Are following you me down this yellow brick road to the Craft City otherwise known as the Internet?

I started my searching and deciding and cutting on Thursday. Good-bye old t-shirt!

I used a dress that I had bought from Target for the pattern.

Right away I knew I had chosen wisely.

Friday it was off to my mother's house. I don't know how to sew so she had to give me a quick tutorial and a lot of help.

Lotus Bud loved the strips of cloth I had cut for the flowers. At this point, I realized I had to head home, so no sewing the flowers. I'm so glad I had found Linda's site yet I had no idea whether it would work for me.

But it did! And I am so glad!

Here's a close up of the flower.

Here's Lotus Bud in her new dress! The neck is a little bit big, but I can correct that in the next dress.

She's so cute, I had to show another picture.

This turned out to be a real fun project and it's just starting to get warm enough for her to wear. I can't wait to make more. If it weren't for the Iron Craft challenges I never would have learned to do this.

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My mother has had her sewing machine for as long as I can remember. Turns out she bought it in 1978. I was 7 years old. When she moves to Florida, I think I get it so I want to learn as much as I can while she's still here.

From my perspective, she's always been sewing. Granted not so much lately, but I remember she used to sew me clothes when I was younger and more recently, she made me a diaper bag. I never before asked her how she started sewing. It was an interesting story.

Right after she married my father in India, he returned to the States to finish his Master's degree. He gave himself six weeks to find a bride and get married before leaving India again. Crazy, isn't it?

She decided to enroll in a sewing class. Her father bought her a sewing machine at which she had to stand in order to work it with her foot. I can just picture her standing there working the pedal, although I have no idea what such a sewing machine would look like.

One day she was walking in the bazaar and found a dress for me (I promptly came along 9 months after my father had left India) but it was 7 rupees and the way she tells it, she says that although it wasn't a lot of money, she just didn't want to pay for it. So she went home and tore up a pair of her brother's old trousers and made me a dress. I wish she still had that dress.

I wonder how many dresses she made for me when I was a little baby. How many did she bring with her when she moved to Toronto to be with my Dad? He had emigrated there after school and a couple years later, we moved to Pennsylvania.

Later in the States, my parents bought the Singer because they wanted to reupholster an old couch. That was one year after my sister was born.

Am I drawn to sewing because of something genetic in me? The experiences I had with my mother? No doubt that it is because of my mother. And, I'm grateful that we were able to connect in this way, making a dress together for my daughter, her granddaughter.

Rock on, Iron Craft! You and all your crafters have brought so many unexpected joys to my life! I am struck by how many of these unexpected discoveries have had to do with my cultural background, something that always stood thousands of miles away from me, all the way on the other side of the planet.
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Monday, May 16, 2011

Mama Karma

Baby got new shoes today. From REI. Then the Big D found a pair he liked and it was the same brand - Keen. So I thought "oh hell, I'm not going to be left out on a new pair of shoes" so I ended up finding a pair of sandals in the same brand. The whole family got new shoes.

From REI. At least we'll get that 10% dividend.

Next year. Just in time for another new round of shoes.

See my toes painted in blue? It scares the crap out of Lotus Bud when I wiggle my big toe at her. Am I bad because I think this is hilarious? Nope. And, so I keep on doing it. Besides, I know she'll get me back some day.

Sometimes I think she's already plotting her revenge!

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Sunday, May 15, 2011

CSA Recap #1

As usual, I'm off to a good start with this year's CSA. I always start off good but when the boxes get more full and loaded, I start seeking a new spot to start a compost hole. No, come on, it's not all that bad, but there have been days when I've resented having all this wonderful, incredible, local produce delivered right to my neighborhood just a day after harvest. I write this so that I can remind myself that I'm lucky and blessed to have access to this food that truly taste better than anything I've bought at a store, co-op included in this. Right now I am grateful and I'm really going to try to stay that way. Did I mention we signed up for the fruit share?

This season has started off with a lot of soy, cream, butter and cheese. I'm still breastfeeding but the Baby Lotus Bud no longer has the skin reactions she used to get when I consumed any and all dairy products and soy. And - surprise, surprise - I don't seem to be lactose intolerant anymore. I don't know how it happened, but being pregnant sure changed my body and this case, for the better.

The first box had parsnips, black radish, ramps, overwintered spinach, sorrel, russian kale, sunchokes, chives, and (dried) red (super) chilis.

Straight up I have to tell you, again, I do not like parsnips. They smell foul to me when I cook them. I kept them around and steamed a couple up for Lotus Bud. She ate them, could be because I mixed them with broccoli and apple sauce. [yes, she still eats purred food and yes, that's driving me nuts. I wish should would eat more whole foods and sometimes she does, but she always starts with some purred.]

We had a spinach salad with the black radish, which I thought were too dry and a little too much kick. Maybe too bold and spicy for my taste, at least when it's raw.

We had the sunchokes on Mother's Day and I roasted them, even though I technically wasn't supposed to be cooking. I sprinkled them with both turmeric and hing (asafoetida) in hopes of, you know, cutting down the gas factor. Did it work? Let me just say it was a bit windy in NE Minneapolis on Mother's Day.

Also on Mother's Day I made ramp deviled eggs.

In the middle of the week I made the pasta primavera recipe that came with the CSA newsletter. Included in this recipe was the black radish (much better), ramps, spinach and kale. Used up all the kale! Whew!

The chives were chopped up into some sour cream for a dip that the Big D loves.

I used the sorrel to make a cream sauce for some cod. The house still smells of cod, but the meal was good.

Finally, I used up the rest of spinach in another cream sauce to put over baked chicken.

Now all that remains is one black radish, some more chives and the dried chilis which I'm waiting on them getting dryer so that we can crush them up.

No CSA this week as this year again we opted for the every other week box and I'm glad not to have to mess with the nettles. I always hurt myself on those suckers!
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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Iron Craft: Spring Contest

We were out of town last week. In the Keweenaw peninsula up in UP Michigan, in that upper, northern little peninsula that juts out into Lake Superior. So I did not craft and I missed it. I brought my craft supplies with me, I was planning to do another embroidery project. But I never got the time and I am sort of glad about that.

What I really am happy about is that I didn't miss the Spring Contest week. I fantasize (yes, fantasize is the right word) about winning Iron Craft contests, but I know that I am not that talented, or else, I don't hit the mark on the particular contest weeks.

Anyway, so this week's Iron Craft challenge is to do something Spring. And it's a contest with voting and all. Go, and vote, my friends.

I had picked up a book from the library called The Big-Ass Book of Crafts (by Mark Montano) and while it is a big-ass book, I didn't see a whole lot of projects that I could pull off. I did however see this one project and fell in love with it: a 3-D Blossom Box. I lusted (and again, lusted is the right word) over this project idea. This week's challenge seemed the perfect time to try it.

Another thing I should mention is that we did not come home until Saturday. So, I started a bit late. Thankfully I still had the library book at home, but I didn't have a few essential crafting tools. I didn't have a glue gun nor any glitter. I had plenty of dogwood branches in my back yard, but I didn't have the right color cardstock for the flowers. I headed to the craft store after hours of driving home from our vacation. I bought the necessary items and actually felt quite energized about doing all this. Then I realized the glue gun I bought did not work.


So I gave it up for the night and went back to the craft store on Mother's Day.

OK, Lotus, cut to the picture...

How do you like that? Huh?

I love it!

It reminds me of spring blossoms that are now abundant in my neighborhood - a month late, but thankfully, they are finally here.

OK, so a word about glue guns. This was my first one, well actually, my second one since the first one I bought was bunk.

Hello glue gun! Where have you been all my life? Loved it! LOVED it!

And, the glitter? Not a fan of glitter. But this project pops with the glitter in the center of the flowers and on the branches, don't you think?

Thanks Mark Montano! You've unleashed some new passions in my life. And now that I am less than 20 days from my 40th birthday, I think that means a lot. It took me nearly 40 years, but now - NOW - I have a glue gun!
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Sunday, May 8, 2011

Ready to Ramp it Up!

It's Mother's Day and yes, I'm cooking. Just a little bit. The Big D is making dinner tonight but I couldn't help myself. I had to cook up a little bit of something. It's that CSA. Each year starts with a lot of energy on my part.

I figure that happens for two reasons.
1. The boxes are still small and manageable. I get excited about the few delicious produce items in the box and not overwhelmed with the summer abundance.
2. Local, Spring foods contain all those good things we need to clear up the weighty, heavy winter-induced toxins from our system. I always feel full of energy eating this highly nutritious stuff from the CSA, and I'm sure my body and mind are both responding favorably to the Spring clean-up.

So what did I cook today? I made some ramp deviled eggs. The recipe is from Chef Boni at the Harmony Valley Farm.

Not pretty, but pretty yummy! Although the ramps weren't as sharp and biting as I thought they would be. Not complaining, just reporting the facts as I see them.

Here's the recipe:

Ramp Deviled Eggs - Serves 2 - Recipe by Chef Bonita

3 eggs, boiled and cooled
3 tbsp ramp bulbs, finely chopped. Reserve the greens for garnish
¼ cup mayonnaise
1 tsp mustard (yellow or dijon)
salt and pepper to taste

1-Slice the eggs from top to bottom and remove the yolks. Place the yolks in a bowl and place the egg white halves
on a plate.
2-To the yolks, add the other five ingredients and mix well with a fork.
3-Spoon the mixture into the egg white halves.
4-To serve, place the finished deviled eggs on a bed of raw ramp greens. Chiffonade a couple ramp greens and
sprinkle on top of eggs for garnish.

Tomorrow I'm going to add a bunch of ramps to a spring pasta primavera (yet another recipe from Chef Boni). I'm done with my carb fast (don't ask) and ready to return to a world with pasta. Coincidentally, Cook's Illustrated just had an article about pasta primavera so I think that's another cue for me.

Have you read Cook's Illustrated? A friend mentioned it to me and now I'm hooked!

One last use for ramps: Ramp Compound Butter. Man, am I excited about this one. We plan to head back up the Airstream retreat next weekend and I'm going to brave the wood ticks and forage til my heart is content. Then, I'm going to haul those ramps back to the city and whip up some of this butter. Oh, yes I am!
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Saturday, May 7, 2011

Back and Ready to Start the CSA!

Hey, y'all! I've been out of town, but truthfully, I've been a bit out of touch with this whole blogging business lately. Now that I'm back from my vacation, I'm rejuvenated and ready to blog. And, on top of all that, my neighbor kindly picked up our first CSA delivery for us while we were gone (and he didn't take any for himself), so I returned to a couple of shelves full of awesome, organic vegetables grown right here in this region - local, y'all. OK, so it is from the next state over, but that's still considered local to me.

I was even happy to see the parsnips! Seriously - I must be delirious or something, got CSA fever to be saying I was happy to see the parsnips.

There's a new chef on the farm and already she's got me excited. She cooks for a crew of 45 and she blogs about it here. I love that she posts her menus, just like Kat.

So, why do I like her? Well, she wrote a recipe for deviled eggs in the HVF newsletter. It's a recipe that includes ramps. I'm new to deviled eggs. I just tried my first sometime in the week before last with a friend when we spent the evening at Psycho Suzi's. Having grown up with this comfort food, my friend had said that she will order it anytime she sees it on the menu. But, Chef Boni's deviled eggs include ramps! I think I already mentioned that, but ramps have such a short season that I get excited to try new recipes with them. Another bonus - the recipe is for two - perfect!

Did I tell you that I have my own vast supply of ramps at the Airstream retreat? We were just there and they (the ramps) were growing everywhere. I've said before that ramps seem like little emerald jewels poking up in the Spring - a sure sign that Spring is finally here in the Midwest!

I've got lots to share - our trip up the Keweenaw Peninsula, our night at the Airstream retreat, and the joy of the first CSA box. Also, I'm so overdue with the letters to the Baby Lotus Bud. Got lots to do and am definitely going to do it all.

I'll write more soon. Thanks for stopping by!
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