Friday, June 29, 2012

Tunes To Commute To

Here is a playlist of the tunes I have been listening to on my walk/BART ride to school. It is a little random but I hope you enjoy! Is there any music I should be listening to?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Dining Table Chronicles vol. 1

Recently I wrote about how I ruined something that I got from Patrick's parents and unfortunately I have to tell you that I have ruined more than one thing. Well, I guess I didn't ruin the dining table but I didn't make it much better. Let me start from the beginning, we got a table that belonged to Patrick's grandmother, the table was awesome but at nearly 100 years old the finish had seen better days. We (mostly Patrick) sanded the table as best we could but at the time we were cold because it was in the middle of winter and we were in a rush because we were working on it at Patrick's parents house and we needed to go home (with the table) we ended up getting rid of the old cracked stain and then washing it with some black paint, it looked pretty good but we used a really crappy sealer and that has not held up. In the year and a half since we redid the table, the table has gotten cup rings and scuffs and it looks baaaad and this table deserves to look good.

On my first day of school, June 18th, I got busy applying the first coat of stripper. I started small and did one panel of the table top at a time. This project is going to be slow going and I am not planning on completing it until my last day of school, August 8th, so look forward to a few progress posts. Oh, and in case you are curious as to why I am planning on taking so long to finish this project it is because I am busy with school and don't have tons of time to commit to it and because I get impatient and bored with things and that usually leads to half-assed crappy projects so I am hoping that by working on it for just a little bit every few days that I will not get tired of inhaling stripper and will make for a beautiful finished table.
 I forgot to take a proper before shot but at least here you can see half of the before and half of in-progress
The stripper is working its magic
Halfway through stripping the top

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Long Long Hike

Last March I registered for the Summer session, I was ambitious and I signed up for three normally difficult classes but as time creeped on and it neared time to actually take those classes I realized that those normally difficult classes were going to drain me mentally and physically because summer session means that all the hard work happens in half the time. I made the wise choice to drop a class and switch a class. And that is the long-ish story of how I ended up in a photography class.

So the reason I decided on taking a photography class is because 1) I wanted to practice taking pictures (that is also one of the reasons I started a blog) and 2) I knew that taking a class that forced me to get out of the house was the only way I was going to have a fun summer and not stay inside feeling consumed by homework. My first photo adventure took Patrick and me to Mt. Diablo State Park. It took us only about a 30 minute drive further into the East Bay and then 12 hours to conquer the mountain. At 18 miles this was the most difficult hike I have ever been on–mentally and physically, and despite climbing over 3,500 feet to reach the summit, it was coming down that was really the challenge. I had assumed that coming down would be difficult– down is difficult for me because I have bad knees and the the pressure of downhill hikes can get really intense but going down Mt. Diablo was super duper difficult because the trails we followed down were super gravelly and that meant super slippery. I fell down numerous times and got the bruises on my butt to prove it. I am pretty sure that at one stretch it took us nearly an hour to walk one mile (downhill!) Anyways, it was definitely worth all the hard work and I had a great time so if you are ever in the area I recommend you check it out. P.S. the pictures below are a few I showed to my photography class

Friday, June 22, 2012

Restoring a Sewing Box

A few years ago I got this awesome sewing box from Patrick's parents, I loved that I finally had a place to store all my sewing supplies but I was not a fan of the reddish stain that it had so Patrick and I spray painted it light blue. What a mistake. I was not super crazy about the blue because it was too blue and I like a blue with a little green AND we tried spray painting in Arcata. For those of you who have never been to the lovely town of Arcata, CA let me fill you in– it is a tiny town located in Humboldt County on the Northern California coast. It is almost always foggy, damp, and cold...this is not the place you want to be spray painting. But, that is where we were living and I wanted the box painted so we tried. and failed. The paint was peeling and crackled and looked HORRIBLE. I was sad that I had ruined the box but I left it alone until a few days ago. Something got into me and I decided that I had to rectify the wrong I had committed so I whipped out the stripper and got to work. I stripped. I sanded. I stained. Stained. And stained some more. Three coats of poly later and I was ready to tackle the inside. I mod podged some fabric scraps on the inside and finally the project was finished. I am soo happy that I made this box beautiful again, especially because while I was working on it I noticed a tag taped to the bottom saying that it was made by a student of Garfield High in 1952!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Sweet Corn Tomalito

Ilove corn, so much so that I have been known to eat a half a can as a snack, I also love tamales, especially the masa, but I usually only have tamales around Christmas so this recipe perfectly satisfies my love of corn and masa...oh and it satisfies my sweet tooth. It is super easy to make, although waiting for it to cook in the steamer takes forever and can be difficult if you are impatient like me but it is a great side dish to any Mexican meal and I also like serving it up on top of some stuffed bell peppers (note: I will have to make that recipe and share soon because it is soooooo good) Anyways, here is the recipe...

5 tablespoons butter, softened
1/4 cup Masa Harina
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
2 cups corn kernels
1 cup corn kernels (separate from the other 2 cups)
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon milk

Mix the butter, masa, and sugar together using an electric mixer for about 1 minute or until light & fluffy

In a food processor or blender, blend 2 cups of corn with the water until smooth

Combine this mixture with the butter mixture, stirring well. Add the remaining corn kernels, corn meal, baking powder, salt and milk and mix well

NOW, you've gotta figure out some way to steam this stuff. I used my rice cooker and the steamer top. I placed some waxed paper in the steamer part (so the mixture didn't fall through the holes) and put water in the bottom part. Then, I poured the mixture in and turned the rice cooker on. Make sure you put the lid on tight!
 You will need to steam the mixture for about an hour and a half or until you stick a toothpick in and it comes out clean. The tomalito should have a smooth, moist texture.

Makes 12-16 servings. Approx. 87 calories per serving.

Happy Cooking =]

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Not Quite a Vacation

Friday morning Patrick and I headed to Modesto where we met up with his mom and then headed down to Big Bear. The ride was long and hot (despite the air conditioning) but I got some good nap time with Patches, Patrick's 17 year old family cat!  Unfortunately, I have no pictures of this portion of the trip because my camera was packed away and beyond my reach, and I am still trying to get used to taking pictures all the time, hopefully the photography class I am taking this summer will help with that. 

We woke up early Saturday morning (in my favorite room ever!) and got straight to work unloading the Pod, it was heavy, dirty work(there was a lot of tools) but with six of us helping it was finished by two o'clock. We were pooped from the day but wanted to try and take advantage of being at the lake so we went fishing. We didn't catch any fish but we did find an abandoned canoe. The wind and lack of fish got the best of us so we called it quits and headed back to the cabin (or lake house.)

By 12:30pm Sunday we were in the car and headed back north, this time with Patrick's brother, his girlfriend, and we got cuddly with Ranger. Once again the ride was hot, since a lot of the ride is through the Mojave Desert, and the ride was long, especially long while I was feeling car sick. Patrick and I made it back to Oakland around 9pm and pretty much went straight to sleep since we had to wake up early the next morning. While this trip wasn't exactly a vacation it was nice to get out of town for a few days and to see the beautiful California landscape, and of course it was nice to help Patrick's parents move into their new home.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Back to Summer School

I am starting my summer semester today, so after a month of doing almost nothing I am about to begin the most stressful and busy seven weeks of my life and while I am nervous and excited about my classes, I thought I would put together a little compilation of things that would make going to class a little easier.

1. Botanical Notebook–I usually spend a good amount of time picking out a notebook for the semester, I want something that is good to look at and doesn't take up too much space in my bag. Unfortunately (or fortunately) I have a bunch of empty pages from my spring semester notebook so I will be using that this summer.

2. Snacks are an essential. My classes are three hours long and having something in my bag keeps me from wasting money on one of the many eateries in San Francisco.

3. My favorite pens– Sharpie pens used to be my fave and I still love them but they are impractical because they run out of ink too quickly. These however, write smoothly, last a long time, and come in a bunch of colors.

4. This backpack is perfection. The frost green is my favorite color and I have been wanting an actual backpack for awhile, I usually just use a big purse or an art bag if I am toting around a bunch of supplies. I do wish that this color was available in the Big size.

5. Sandals aren't always appropriate in San Francisco, so for the few months of warmth I want to show off my pretty painted toenails in these.

6. I am constantly snapping pictures of things that remind me with my phone but lately my phone has been stupid and the battery lasts four minutes so picture time isn't really possible, I think this camera may be just the thing to keep me feeling inspired and from smashing my phone with a hammer out of frustration.

7. Sunglasses are a necessity for me even on foggy days since my eyes are pretty sensitive to light, and you can't go wrong with these classics.

8. I already have a bike and she (I call her Sheila) is great but that doesn't stop me from lusting after this beauty. On days that I didn't feel like making the two mile walk to school I would love to be riding on this bright and cheery bike.

9. I have been using my Klean Kanteen for almost five years and I love it but with my long days at school and the warm weather my water doesn't stay as cold as I would like it to so I think that this bottle would be a great upgrade.

So those are the things that would brighten up my summer semester, is there anything I should be using/coveting and missed?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Weekend Getaway-Big Bear Lake

Tomorrow morning Patrick and I are heading down to Big Bear Lake with his family for the weekend to help his parents move in permanently to a cabin that they have had near the lake since, well, practically since forever. Patrick's parents had planned on moving down to their cabin when they retired but when his Dad recently got a job offer, the move came a little sooner than anticipated. I am so happy that they will be living in their dream location but have to admit that I am pretty bummed that they wont be near us anymore. Why is it that the older I get the more I want to have family near by?

I had planned on packing earlier today but now it is after ten and procrastination has gotten the best of me and instead of actually packing I have put together an outfit that I would love to be wearing while exploring around the lake.
 1. Keeping the sun out of my eyes would look a lot cuter if I were wearing these cute sunnies, as opposed to making my very awkward squinty face.

2. I very rarely walk out the door without wearing a cardigan and I love everything about this one.

3. I try not to wear t-shirts these days because I spent the majority of my life wearing nothing but t-shirts, I would however stop my moratorium for this whale of a good time tee.

4. These sandals look cute enough to not be embarrassed for wearing but also comfy enough to hike to Castle Rock.

5. I love colored shorts (and pants), I also love that these are long enough that I wouldn't have to worry about showing too much.

6. Of course a cute bag rounds out the look and this one is perfect because it is a camera bag so I can make sure to capture all of my adventures.

So that is my very colorful outfit that I would love to wear in Big Bear, I guess I better go start actually packing my bag with things I actually own.

Typographic Embroidery

By no means would I consider myself a skilled embroiderer but I love it anyway. As a ridiculously impatient person I would never have guessed that I would enjoy embroidering as much as I do; it calms me and I can get lost in it for hours and hours. Here is how I embroidered my header:
1. Iron the fabric– I used some scrap muslin that I had and it was ridiculously wrinkled from spending the past six months in my scrap box.
2. I printed out my design and then traced it with my fabric marker.
3. First I made some vertical stitches to give more volume to my embroidery.
4. I filled in the letters using a simple straight stitch. For this design I chose to make a gradient because I didn't have enough of one color to fill in the entire word so I got crafty and decided to use three! I think that the end result turned out pretty good, definitely not as good as some other embroidery I have seen, but I can see the progress I have made, heck I can see progress in this particular project, just look at the "v" and the "y" the "y" looks a lot better to me.

Really that is all there is to it, this was the simplest embroidery project I have ever attempted and I can't wait to start my next project.