Sunday, June 26, 2011

the art of science, or the other way around

It has been a productive weekend so far. Yesterday, I made a... um.... skirt! More on that adventure later. I made progress on my embroidery project. And now I am running experiments in the lab.

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Yep, that's right. It's a fine balance between art and science around here. The art is more fun, but the science is interesting, and moves me towards a career (it also pays my rent, however dinky the paycheck may be).

Research is a frustrating experiment. Eureka moments are far and few. There are many, many "back to the drawing board" situations, akin to seam-ripping and reapplying gesso to a painting that just isn't working. Sometimes, though, things work out. And then your advisor is happy. And then you (try to) publish a paper. And then you're one step closer to finishing a PhD.

It's nice to have projects to come home to when life at school is frustrating. I have plenty of "oh, $&#@!!" moments at the sewing machine and easel alike, but it keeps me happy and sane.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

skillet success

I recently bought a magazine with recipes that are made entirely in one skillet. Since washing dishes is not my idea of a good time, this sounded like a fantastic plan. Additionally, my brother bought me a fancy new skillet for Christmas last year. Why not put it to good use?

My first meal-in-a-skillet attempt was chicken Vesuvio. According to the magazine, this dish is a big deal back home in Chicago... but honestly, I had never heard of it. The recipe looked tasty enough, though.

 There's nothing particularly unique about the recipe, but it was yummy and satisfying. I give it 4/5 stars. I will give myself a star, too, because the picture of my food looks just as good as the picture of the food in the magazine. YES.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

self portrait

My hair is thick, curly, and temperamental. I have freckles, though they have faded a little over the years. My eyes are light brown with gold and green flecks, just like my dad's. My nose turns up, just like my mom's.

There are many features to capture in a portrait, but the character remains undefined. I think that's a good thing. I enjoy the freedom to choose what I like and don't like, and the option to completely change my mind the next day. No mold required. Keep 'em guessing, and be happy.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


When I was seven or eight, my mom taught me a couple embroidery stitches. I worked on a pillowcase with an iron-on Berenstain Bears pattern. Sister Bear was watering a flower in the rain or something like that. I'm not sure if I ever finished it. (Hey Mom, did I finish it? Do you still have it?) Anyway, that was the last of my needlework - until this year. I just needed a 20+ year hiatus to get back into it!

My awesome friends Beth and Andy have this awesome little kid, and his first birthday was approaching. I was antsy to start some kind of project, and I decided to give embroidery another try. With a handy little book of stitches and motifs by Aimee Ray, I came up with a design.

Once I completed the drawing and transferred it, this piece only took an afternoon to complete. I was really happy with it. Hooray for rocket ships!

French knots proved tricky at first, but I got the hang of it. Ursa Major and Ursa Minor are recognizeable, I think!

I threw in a few stars with different stitch styles, but tried to keep it simple.

This is a basic piece, but I am so happy that I found something that held my interest for more than 5 minutes. I don't often finish projects these days. Since I gifted this, I started a new embroidery project which I have been working on steadily. YAY! Go craft something.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

a refurbished sundress

I am not a particularly talented seamstress, but I can hem a pair of pants and replace a button. Recently, though, I decided to step it up a notch. I spied a (super-cheap) sundress at a local thrift store a while back, and decided that I would try to modify it. The straps were spindly and falling off, there were pockets (I don't like dresses with pockets!!), and although I thought the colors were nice, there was a band of brown and black at the base of the skirt (below the knee) that just didn't work for me. For a couple bucks, I thought it looked like a good project.

I cut off the bottom 8 inches of the skirt, which included a nice band of orange with which I made some wide straps. I stitched the pocket openings and removed the extra fabric, hemmed the bottom, and - voila! I'm so happy with the outcome, I'm dancing in our oil-stained driveway.

This required very little talent and creativity, but it was fun to reinvent something, however small. I'm certainly up for trying this again, and someday setting the tension on my sewing machine correctly in less than three tries.

Monday, June 6, 2011

more bananas

I just bought a fancy new muffin pan for myself, so I decided to modify my favorite banana bread recipe and make banana muffins. I made one tiny change, though: I substituted 1/2 C flour with 1/4 C oat bran and 1/4 C flaxseed meal. I thought it would help with texture and bump up the nutrition factor. After 20 minutes in the oven, I had some baked banana goodness!