A Caffeinated Apron

I just finished sewing an apron and am hugely tickled at how it turned out.

The fabric, which I found at JoAnn’s of all places, has been sitting in my stash for almost a year. It is tossed coffee cups, with some coffee-related words surrounding each cup. Right up my alley.  All my favorite colors are here, too.

Circle Coffee Fabric

Glad I bought some when I did, because it’s no longer available.  😦

The pattern comes from Sew4Home, which is one of the most fabulous fabric-porn websites in all the galaxy. I used the French Country Apron design (sans matching headscarf), which is very well done and easy to follow.


For the blue binding and ties, I used an old tablecloth that had belonged to my parents when they lived up north. The lining fabric (since I will probaly only wear it one way, even though the pattern is technically reversible) is some plain-ish tan cotton that had been in my stash from who-knows-when-or-where.  I like how the two layers make a nice, substantial apron.




There are some small glitchy things, like a spot where the binding went a little wonky and another spot where I had to run a second (third) line of stitching to get things to line up, etc. But overall, you would never know those things unless you looked very, very closely. And since I am unlikely to be taking this apron off any time soon, you would have to totally violate my personal space to see them, anyway. And if you totally violated my personal space, I would probably not talk to you again, in which case I really don’t care if you have a low opinion of my apron since you will no longer be in my field of consciousness. So don’t even bother.



The pocket was my first real attempt at fussy-cutting, and I am pretty happy with how the pattern lined up.


That light bit of tan you see at the bottom and right edge of the pocket is actually some lining fabric that was not pressed well before I sewed the pocket on. I lined the pocket to give it just a little more stability, though it really didn’t need it.

I am so happy about this apron that I am going to do something I have probably never done before: post a picture of myself modeling something.

Caffeinated Apron

I now have TWO aprons to choose from: this one, and a very lovely one made by the very lovely Embejo (yes, I am still using the Pohutukawa Blossom apron she sent me years ago!)

pohutukawa blossom apron

I am in love with the full apron, but now that I have two, I’d like to try a half (hostess-style) design. Maybe something with side pockets, instead of the one large one at the bib. Just another excuse to drool over browse some more of the projects at Sew4Home.


Tikka Trouble

During a recent trip to a used bookstore, I found a copy of the “Best Ever Indian Cookbook”.


Best Ever Indian Cookbook


Since we now have three fabulous places to get Indian food here in town, I have been enjoying this cuisine several times a month.  So I was pretty excited to get a cookbook, and hoped to recreate a few things at home.  While I am not convinced it is the “Best Ever”, it is a cook book, and I have tried a recipe out of it: Chicken Tikka.  Based on this recipe alone, I would probably call it “Reasonably Passable Indian Cookbook”.  But I am willing to try some more recipes to be sure.

This version of Chicken Tikka was overly lemony, and my family, sadly, does not seem to like lemony chicken.  I don’t know what the hell is wrong with them, because I am of the opinion that one can rarely go wrong with lemon, unless one is putting it in coffee (which one should never, ever do).  But they are strange, those people I eat with.  So I humor them, mostly because there are more of them than there are of me.  I avoid making chicken that is lemony.  Unfortunately, it was a little overpowering in this recipe, even though I cut back on the amount of lemon called for.  My husband ate it but secretly shook his head at me when the kids were not looking.  O6 ate it, but she will eat anything chicken.  S8 did not like it at all, but she does not like anything chicken, so that hardly counts.  Overall, I felt it was a weak success, if not a failure.  I’m probably going to have to cross it off the list.  Sigh.

On to curry.  Who can mess up curry?




Well, we made it to Florida. The kids were real troopers in the car. We brought a cooler with drinks and some food and only stopped for gas and a couple potty (read: coffee) breaks over the whole 16 hour trip.

I suppose I should be happy to note that absolutely nothing of note happened on our drive down. We left Pittsburgh right after the girls’ Paleontology class ended at 2:30, and headed down in a light rain through southwest Pennsylvania and into West Virginia. The roads were fine but the mountains and rain made me a little nervous, so I lost a little bit of time through there. Once we hit Virginia, though, the skies cleared (just in time for it to be dark) and we got to Rock Hill, SC by 11:30 pm.

2012-02-14 16.24.34

We stayed in Rock Hill overnight. That’s a nice place to stop southbound because, not only are you half way between my house and my mom’s, you are just past Charlotte, NC. Charlotte, NC is a very large city with a very large amount of traffic. It’s not bad to drive through at night, but if you are heading out in the morning during rush hour, you will be very glad you drove the extra 20 minutes the night before to get to Rock Hill and out of the snarl of commuters.

The girls had a quick breakfast of Froot Loops (I’m glad they spell it “froot” and not “fruit”, since I’m fairly sure there’s no actual Fruit in Froot Loops) and juice and shared a bagel. I had a slightly-better-than-mediocre coffee and some yogurt. We were on the road by 8:45 AM and enjoyed the lovely sunshine as we headed south through SC. There were an inordinate number of police on the highway so I kept my speed in check. Georgia was much the same way- sunshine, open road, and cops. But in Florida the traffic sped up and I had to go surprisingly fast to keep up with the flow.

Since the girls had been so cooperative, I stopped for treats just outside of Jacksonville, which is locally referred to as JAX. (I love when cities refer to themselves by their airport code. PDX is another fine example of an airport-minded city.) We found, happy of happys, a Dunkin-Donuts-Baskin-Robbins, which meant that I could get a nice coffee and the kids could get ice cream cones. Everyone was happy and the weather was warm enough that we could actually sit outside and enjoy our refreshments. Imagine! Ice cream outside in February!!

ice cream

It only took a bit over two hours to get to Orlando from JAX. We did run into a bit of traffic in Orlando itself, which was inconvenient since we had to travel all the way through it to the southwest part of town during rush hour. But we managed, and got in just after 5:30. The girls rushed up to find our hotel room, where Nana was waiting.

2012-02-15 17.26.29

And here we are in lovely Orlando. Orlando has an unfortunate airport code: MCO. So I can’t really blame them for not adopting that as the city nickname. And if they did use a nickname, it would probably be something like DIZ because everywhere you look there is a Disney-branded something-or-other. We are alarmingly close to the Empire of the Mouse. But I have no plans to venture there this trip. We have too many other things to do, like seeing manatees and going to the space center. Yay!

s7 orlando

Sad News

I think my coffee pot is dying.

When it works it works fine, if that makes any sense.  The trouble appears to be with the circuitry that controls the on-off button.  Sometimes the pot just won’t turn on, other times it won’t turn off after it’s done brewing.  It has a “gourmet” button that makes it brew a little differently than the standard drip-coffee-maker way.  I won’t pretend to understand exactly what it’s doing, but it involves about 30% more coffee grounds and more water per cup and it makes a noticeable difference and that’s how I like my coffee now.  And sometimes the gourmet button won’t work, either.  Damn.

But I am stalling at buying a new pot, because this one’s only a year old.  Plus, the problem is only intermittent and I can usually, with some swearing-under-the-breath and some plugging-and-unplugging of the device, get it to work with the gourmet button (because without it, I would just pull out the French press and not even bother with the electric thing).

I have become suspicious of my coffee pot, though, and nice features like the set-ahead timer and the automatic turn-off after an hour aren’t reliable and make me nervous, so I unplug it as soon as it brews and put the coffee in a vacuum carafe instead of using the warming plate.  I probably ought to just get a new one.

And really, in the time it took to write all this down and complain about it, I could have just gone over to Amazon and bought it already.

Hanging On

Well, I am dangerously close to missing the posting deadline for today, but I think I’ll squeak in under the wire.  Just trying to keep you on your toes, you know; mix it up a bit.  Whatever.

So yesterday I brilliantly suggested some additions (or subtractions) to my routine that might do me some good, things like reducing my caffeine intake and getting up at a more “normal” hour, etcetera.  I would like to happily report that I have made progress on all fronts.

First of all, I did not have ANY coffee today.  You heard me: not a single drop.  And now I have a raging headache from the caffeine withdrawal, but it’s all good.  Drinking some green tea has helped.  Slightly.  The important thing to note here is that I was able to go an entire 24 or some-such hours without coffee.  I mention this first, because to my way of thinking, all of the following accomplishments are instantly like 1000% more amazing when you consider that I did them all decaffeinated.

1.  I took my vitamin first thing this morning (instead of making/drinking coffee, and instead of checking email.)

2. It did not rain a drop last night, but I checked the rain gauge dutifully nonetheless.  And I also recorded my Zero Rainfall on CoCoRahs.  Rah, rah, rah.

3.  Not only did I do some stretches last night, but I did more already tonight.  Hey, it was that, or make a pot of half-caff.

4.  Oh, boy, did I move around tonight.  I went to a coaches’ clinic for our community soccer program.  S5, now that she is 5, is eligible to play soccer, so we signed her up.  Somehow, in the signing up process, I got talked into being an assistant coach.  They assured me it was nothing too physical, nothing that I really had to know how to play soccer for (which I don’t)- that was the head coach’s job.  Boy, did I get snowed.  Something should have clued me in when they said “wear shorts and bring water to the clinic”.  For THREE HOURS we ran around, kicking and passing and receiving and shooting and learning how to stop the ball without your hands, such as with your thigh (hard to get that part up in the air) or your chest (I only quit nursing a few months ago, can you give me a break already?) or your HEAD (omg does that hurt with a full-on caffeine-withdrawal headache).  Yeah.  So I think I’ve done all the moving around I need to do until perhaps August.  Of 2015.

5.  Eat better went well – except for the half-ounce of chocolate taken to ease the caffeine headache.  I had cereal and tea for breakfast, a lovely salad and some leftover boiled potatoes for lunch, and another lovely salad for dinner.  And even though I felt perfectly justified in eating a snack after the grueling soccer torture session, I refrained.  Had tea instead, (and that’s when I took my dose of chocolate, but shhhhh) and now I am going to bed, so that this remains a good day.

Tomorrow: garden updates.


On The Bright Side

Alright, so I’ve spent the first week of NaBloPoMo groaning about schedules, snarking about my lack thereof, and generally being ridiculous with regards to the subject of routine. If I’m going to expend energy on this writing exercise, I might as well try to make some good come out of it. Therefore, I going to focus on the positive things I’m [slowly, painfully] incorporating into to my every-day.

1. Take a vitamin. Since pregnancy, I have had a B-vitamin deficiency, particularly B-12; this is interesting because I’m not a real vegetarian, and B-12 is rampant in animal-based foods. Unfortunately, cheese does not count as a source of B vitamins, however. So I’m sunk.

2. Check the rain gauge. I joined CoCoRahs a few months ago and we finally set up our rain gauge this weekend. I’m supposed to check it every morning around 7:00 AM. That is going to be really, really funny.

3. Do stretches at night. My body feels old. My neck hurts, my back has a little bit of arthritis in it, my knees are starting to feel like they’re made of broken glass, and my joints sound like bubble wrap when I move. So before bed, I do some stretches. And I have to admit that, while remembering to do them is sometimes a problem, they feel very, very good, and I sleep better afterwards. Why is it that things that make us feel better (like exercise, for example) are so hard to stick to?

4. Move around more. My mom gave me one of those pedometers and tried telling me about some 10,000 steps a day bullshit that she’s been following . Okay, fine. So I wore the pedometer for a couple of days and realized that I took approximately 2,000 steps each day (and that was after going for a walk). I was very depressed and put the pedometer on a shelf. But it looks at me every time I walk by (which is obviously not very often). So I really need to find a new battery for it and at least make an effort to increase my step count. To be fair, I spend a lot of time in the kitchen doing cooking/cleaning sorts of things, so I am on my feet–but not actually taking steps. But it certainly couldn’t hurt matters to walk more.

5. Eat better. I actually eat fairly well compared to some. I don’t drink soda, we don’t keep candy or donuts or chips in the house, I avoid things like french fries and breaded fish sticks and tempura with no difficulty. My problems have more to do with quantity and timing. I tend to eat most of my calories late, late, late at night (in front of the computer). This is probably a result of not eating any/many calories during the day, and drinking too much coffee, and not moving around very much. It’s scary how interrelated all these issues seem to be.

6. Drink less coffee. I almost didn’t write this down. What would my life be without coffee?? (It would be very decaffeinated, sluggish and dull, that’s what it would be.) But I have to face facts, and one of them is that coffee, caffeine, and the accompanying buttload (I mean that literally) of sugar I stir into my cups are causing some problems. Like, oh, I don’t know, a vitamin B deficiency. Sleep problems. Sluggishness around 2 o’clock. Etcetera.

And now I am thoroughly morose about the prospect of giving up (or at least cutting back on) coffee while trying to get up at 7:00 to check the damn rain gauge AND shuffle my feet 10,000 times a day. Fortunately, it’s already July 6 so I don’t have to worry about keeping up pretenses terribly much longer.

My Life Will Never Be The Same

I recently ordered a French press coffee maker.  It came in the mail today.  Of course, even though I had already enjoyed two three four cups earlier this morning, I tore open the package and immediately brewed a pot.  And now, as I sit here sipping, with cold, winter rain slopping drearily on my purportedly-insulated, condensation-caked windowpanes, I breathe in the deep, musky aroma of a true cup of coffee. It is like a dream; the groggy fog lifts, the bone-chilling cold dissapates, the sun feels warm on the skin again, and – faintly – I hear birds singing a cheery little melody from a fragrantly flowered branch.

If I had known it would be this good, I’d have bought a French press long ago.