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Plans for a Trunk, and Pickle Pictures

So I didn't get anything actually done.. But I did make some plans!Plans for a Cedar TrunkPlans for a Cedar Trunk

So I've been wanting some better storage, like something that actually looks nice. I have one trunk in the living room, not a very pretty one, but still better looking than most inexpensive storage. Rubbermaids are ugly!

So I'm making plans to build some trunks. Well, I'll start with one, then go from there. So I drew up some plans in Google Sketchup. The cedar boards don't come any wider than 8 inches, and only in even numbered widths, which made plans slightly more difficult, but I think I've got it figured out.

The body of the chest will be 16 inches tall, 18 inches deep and 32 inches wide (including the outside pieces on the sides.) The lid will be another four inches tall. I'd hadn't originally intended the lid to be quite so tall, but this seemed like the best design, given the size limitations for the cedar boards that Lowe's carries.
Pickles (The Milk is for Perspective!)Pickles (The Milk is for Perspective!)

And here's a picture of the pickling pickles next to a half-gallon of milk for perspective. See, the jar is bigger than it looked! They all fit with room to spare!

However, they're not yet pickled. It had been a week, but the insides didn't taste pickled. We put the cucumber spears back in the jar along with the rest of the still-pickling pickling cucumbers.

Seems that the color on that crock I was using wasn't so colorfast.. because some of it definitely seeped into the pickles and the garlic. I do hope it's not dangerous. But the coloring on the crock from a crock pot can't be dangerous, can it? It is meant for food.

Does the brine look darker than it should be? I think of brine as being lighter colored, but I'm not exactly an expert on pickling. And I assume that if the coloring from the crock seeped into the garlic and the not-yet-pickles, it's probably in the brine too.

Starting to Get Organized.. A Little.

Shelf Above My DeskShelf Above My Desk Yes, the shelf is where the map of Middle Earth used to be. I haven't decided on a new home for the map yet. But I do like the shelf!

Kris has been working on building a big hutch for his desk, so I'll then be swiping the small hutch that's currently on his desk, which should further aid in my organization efforts. There is Good Reason I didn't include the desk in my picture!

Yes, I know that there's an empty peg on my thread rack. *looks pointedly at dfr*
Call it the spot for the thread currently on my thread stand. There's a little bag of normal thread spools in my drawer of serger cones, too. And of course the Brother embroidery thread is in another drawer.
(See Jilly, I TOLD you all those 110 yard spools of yours weren't an excessive quantity of thread..)

Reader and/or Feed Errors

I noticed recently that I was suddenly getting fewer views. I've never gotten a huge number, but there was still a significant dropoff. I thought maybe it was because I wasn't talking much about sewing, which is really my main topic.

But then I went into FeedDemon because it occured to me that it would be a good idea to set up Craigslist watches, since there are things I'm generally on the lookout for but don't check often enough to necessarily catch. And when I synchronized FeedDemon with Google Reader, I noticed that my two most recent posts don't show anything except a title, and that the third one is missing altogether!
Google Reader ErrorGoogle Reader Error
Then I tried to check in Google Reader via the web, and got this error. "That's an error. That's all we know." *sigh*
I had been messing with some RSS settings, but I thought I was messing with the RSS settings for feeds TO my blog not FROM my blog. (I was experimenting with the possibility of setting up a blogroll with the Views module rather than with the Google Reader blogroll widget, which is better than the last one I tried to use, but still not great.)

I'm hoping that the problem was just due to my fiddling, but this "we don't know anything" error from Google Reader is not so promising. So, I guess we'll see. Or not.
Hopefully, somebody will see something!

ETA: It looks like the feed is fine when I use it directly rather than synced through Google Reader or the Blogger dashboard. I think that makes the problem with Google.
EATA(edited again to add): The Networked Blogs ap on Facebook wasn't showing the teasers for those recent entries either. When I did a "pull now" for the feed, that seemed to fix it. So I guess part of the problem was my fiddling with syndication settings and part of it is that Google is behaving strangely [again].

Pickle Pot!

Big Pickle JarBig Pickle Jar Alright fine, it's actually a pickle jar. But that didn't sound like nearly such a good title!

I have, of course, been complaining about my lack of a properly photogenic pickling container. So yesterday Kris arrived home with this! I'll remove the label, but I just had to show off the fact that it's a gallon-sized pickle jar! And actually MEANT for pickles!

So.. now I have a big pickling jar and a crock of pickling cucumbers pickling in the fridge. Should I move them to the jar? Or might that hurt them? I'm not completely sure if all of them will fit. Some of them are a bit larger than I probably should have let them get, so that makes pickle arrangement less flexible.
So if they don't fit, then I would have to move them twice. Any advice? Should they just stay put for the pickling process, and I'll use the photogenic jar for the next batch?

I guess I really should have put the jar next to something in the picture, because besides the size written on it, you can't really gauge size from a pickle jar alone! Note to self: When taking a picture of something in order to demonstrate its size, put it next to something recognizable, to provide context.)



(The label design obviously belongs to Vlasic. I have no affiliation with them besides possession of a large jar previously home to Vlasic pickles.)

What A Crock of Pickles!

Submerged PicklesSubmerged Pickles More accurately, it will be a crock of pickles in 7 days. Currently, it's a crock of pickling cucumbers in brine.

Back in June, Yarndiva of Sew Old - Sew New commented on my first silk chiffon tunic post. Then I followed her back to her blog and discovered her Best Dill Pickles post. And so I planted some pickling cucumbers.
Now I have picked some pickling cucumbers and started them pickling!
Crock of PicklesCrock of Pickles
I hounded her quite a bit with pickling-noob questions. And only just noticed, upon checking that post again, that she has a picture of the salt and pickling spice that she used. And it's the same kosher salt that I got that says that it can be used in place of pickling salt, so I was thinking that maybe I'd gotten the wrong stuff. (Note to self: always look at the big pictures!)

I found that I had trouble finding proper pickling vessels. I ended up taking "crock" literally and using the crock from my crock pot. I probably should have picked the pickling cucumbers when they were smaller. Smaller cucumbers would have meant more flexibility with containers. I thought maybe I could fit them into a vase, but I couldn't. So this time it's a crock. Next time it'll be smaller pickles in a vase. That would definitely look better while they're pickling. I had trouble finding something that would work to weight the top to keep the pickling cucumbers submerged. I ended up using the lid from my Pyrex mixing bowl, because I needed something rather large in order to keep them all submerged. This is not a very photogenic pickling situation.

Kris thinks I'm crazy for wanting the cucumbers to look pretty while they're pickling, but it's not just in the fridge that I want them to look pretty. A crock pot crock and a Pyrex mixing bowl lid don't make for pretty blog pictures either! Definitely not as photogenic as Yarndiva's milk jar.

Hand-Pleating for my Venetian Camicia

Hand Pleating for CamiciaHand Pleating for CamiciaI've been hand-sewing! Hand pleating! I wanted something that would come off a bit more orderly than standard machine gathering stitches, so I'm doing it by hand. And watching Star Trek, of course.

I ran three gathering stitches across the edge as evenly as possible, but more importantly, made each row of stitches stitches as close as possible to being directly underneath the one above it. I'll most likely sew them down by machine. G'MIC Deconvolution Filter: (click to enlarge)G'MIC Deconvolution Filter: (click to enlarge)
I already did the back, but it wasn't quite as well-planned. Well actually, I did one edge and then decided to make that one the back since I figured my second try would be better! There's not actually a pattern difference between the front and back.

I was a bit concerned about how I'd show a picture of this, given that it's pale pink top-stitching thread gathering white fabric, which makes a well-defined image difficult. Just upping the contrast was not cutting it, so I ended up using the deconvolution filter in the G'MIC Gimp plug-in. Very useful.

Renaissance Venetian Camicia In-Progress

Renaissance Camicia In-ProgressRenaissance Camicia In-Progress
I actually sewed something! Even though it's hot and humid and I don't want to do anything. Well, I got started, anyways. I'm following the Realm of Venus instructions for how to make a Venetian camicia. Yesterday I prewashed the white broadcloth (and typoed that to "prewished" in chat..) tore the fabric (the way it was supposed to be torn-- the instructions say so!) and sewed up the sleeves.

Then today I did the rest of the basic assembly. Put in the gussets, sewed the pieces together, ran a gathering stitch around the neck for some preliminary shaping.

Yes, I know it looks like the Simplicity 2777 night gown I made back during the stash contest. And even more like the off-white one I'd made awhile before that. But this one had no seam shaping; the shaping at the neck is done with gathering and the sleeves are rectangles with gussets.
Nightgown From Stash ContestNightgown From Stash Contest
I haven't done any finishing on the neckline, just used pulled up gathering stitches to get it looking like what it's supposed to start looking like. I'll use one of the pleating methods described on Realm of Venus for the neckline. And of course I have to hem it.

But dfr has been pesting me to sew something and put up pictures, so here's a picture of something I've sewn! Yes, I do know she's right that I should put up more sewing pictures!

Ripening Pumpkins! In July!

Pumpkins Turning Orange!Pumpkins Turning Orange!My pumpkins are starting to ripen! They were the "early sugar" variety (Pumpkin Early Sugar or Pie, but a different brand; I think I got them locally) so I guess I shouldn't be so surprised. What, did I think they were kidding by "harvest in 90 days"?
It just feels strange to see ripening pumpkins in July. Only these two seem to be developing into mature pumpkins, though; I'm not seeing any others developing on the vines.

The lighting and shadows were too weird to get a decent photo of them both in one picture, so I just put the two photos side-by side.

The pumpkin plants also took off earlier than most of my other plants. They're in a row right next to the cantaloupes and watermelons, but for some reason at the beginning of the season the pumpkins were much happier than the others were.

I've already started some new pumpkin seeds so that I'll have pumpkins in the fall, too.
The ones I started are more of the "early sugar" pumpkins. It's probably too late in the summer to start any larger pumpkins. I think I'll try some Giant Pumpkins next year, along with the small, sweet ones for cooking.

Just how long does it take for pumpkins to ripen after they start to turn orange, anyways?

Making Mojo

If y'all haven't noticed (oh hush, dfr -- I hear what you're thinking! :P ) I'm in a bit of a sewing slump.
I've been spending a lot of time out in the garden, and I guess it's gotten me out of my sewing mindset. I want to sew, really I do. I just don't know what I want to sew.

I stare at my stash.
I peruse my patterns.
I just don't do.

I browse pattern sites, even though I know perfectly well that new patterns aren't going to get me sewing. Yea, there are patterns I like that I don't have, but there are also plenty of patterns I like that I do have. And appropriate fabrics for most of them.
I browse fashion sites, staring at styles and looks that I might like to try.

I have patterns.
I have fabric.
I have reasonably matching thread for most of my fabric.

I'm not one of those people who feels overwhelmed by their stash. Maybe it's just because I haven't been sewing long, and maybe it's because I learned to start being picky after six months or so, but I generally find my stash inspiring rather than intimidating. I don't necessarily know exactly what I want to do with a particular fabric when I get it, but I usually have some idea.

I just don't know what to sew.
I'd like to make a Rennaissance Venetian Camicia. I don't have enough white linen, but I do have plenty of that steel grey handkerchief maybe-linen that I could wash up and probably use, and I've got some cotton gauze that might work. I want to make a Venetian dress eventually, and really do need to make the underthings for it first. I could even do it out of some nice cheap white broadcloth. I certainly have plenty of that to play with.

I want to start a coutil corset, but that means committing to an exact pattern. I know I want to use the pattern I drafted according to the FR instructions, but I'm not sure if I want it to be exactly the same as my denim version, or if I want to decrease the cinching a bit. The curve of the denim one is a bit much for wearing under modern clothing. And while the English coutil from King and Company on Etsy is cheaper than anywhere else, but it's still nice English coutil, and I don't want to ruin any! And do I want to leave it white, or maybe tea-dye it? I find white difficult to wear since it shows any little speck of dirt so easily. (Not that I don't generally wear my corsets under my clothing anyways.) Or do I want to use some of my dupioni from the Silk Baron scrap sale as the fashion fabric layer? And if I do that, do I want to fuse it to the coutil or not?

I think I'm stuck in one of those "want to use the nice fabric, but don't want to hurt it" spots.

So just how does one go about regaining sewing mojo?

Plenty of Pesto

Basil for PestoBasil for Pesto Basil Stuffed into Measuring CupBasil Stuffed into Measuring Cup Pesto and MessPesto and Mess For the first time ever (I think) I made pesto all by myself!

I started with an absurd amount of basil. My basil in general is absurd. All of the basil you see in the bottom two pictures, that casserole-dish full of basil... all that was from pruning! I removed a couple large branches from one of the plants that was overshadowing my cilantro (and a couple branches from the marigold on the other side that was contributing to the buried cilantro.) The rest is just from taking off the starting-to-approach-flowering tops.

So basil-basil-basil.

I'd ordered a two-pound bag of bulk pine nuts from Amzaon, which worked out quite well. There were various warnings about "pine mouth" from Chinese pine nuts, but these were American and seem quite good. I ended up using about a cup of them in this batch.

While I was looking up info before I started, I came across this page on How To:Simplify that says that if you're going to freeze the pesto, you shouldn't add the Parmesan cheese right away, but right before serving it. So I added a little bit of the Parmasian, but figure on adding most of it as I use the pesto.

I used the blender for most of the process, but used the salsa-maker towards the end-- at the point where it was getting to be too much and too think for the blender to be effective, and when I was wanting to give it a bit of texture rather than make it totally pureed.

Yes, I did manage to make all that basil fit into that measuring cup. I'm thinking that when they say "two cups fresh packed basil leaves" they probably don't mean quite such extreme stuffing!

As you can see, I produced an entire salsa-maker full of finished [minus most of the Parmesan cheese] pesto. I froze an icing container full, and put a butter container full into the fridge.

Really, I need better pesto storage. A whole icing container full is really more than I'm going to want to defrost at any one time. So an idea came up in the PR chat [of course.] Ice cube trays! Freeze the pesto in ice cube trays, then store the frozen pesto-cubes in freezer bags.

So now I need ice cube trays. So, as usual, I headed over to Amazon to see what was available in the way of ice cube trays. I'm thinking I'll go with the silicone trays. these Jumbo-Size Silicone Ice-Cube Trays seem like they'd be about what I need. But of course I couldn't stop there, I had to keep looking.

And that's when I saw the Pi Symbol Ice Cube Tray! Probably not good for pesto storage, but oh-so-nifty! I'm getting a kick out of the Set of Heart and Stars Ice Cube Trays too, and those probably would be good for freezing pesto!
There are even Ducky Trays and Musical Note Trays! Decisions, decisions.





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by Dr. Radut