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Thursday, May 30, 2013


I finished making this over the holiday weekend.  It's a patchwork furoshiki, or as the blogger where I found it called it, a quilted furoshiki.  Technically it's not quilted but I think it is lovely (hers more than mine).  Here is a link to her instructions.

A furoshiki is a piece of cloth used to tie up and carry packages, bentos, gifts or just about anything.  They can be made from silks or cottons and can be very plain and utilitarian or very lovely and luxurious.  Even a cotton bandana or silk scarf can be used.

I bought my first bento box many, many years ago after The Man and I dined at a Japanese restaurant.  Bento Box was on the menu - a lovely box divided into small sections, each holding a few bites of a variety of dishes - shrimp tempura, chicken teriyaki, pickles, rice, salad.  I bought The Man the bento box as a gift (he is impossible to buy for).  It was not the same as the bento box he was served, which looked like this.

His was the type more often used to carry a lunch to work or school and looked more like this.  The box has two tiers, which nest when empty.  When packed with goodies they stack one atop the other.  I also bought a length of silk fabric in colors to complement the box and made him a furoshiki (actually just by hemming the silk square).  The box and the furoshiki are put away somewhere but if and when I ever find it I'll use it to carry my own bento lunch, unless Mr. wants me to make one for him.

I enjoyed making this patchwork furoshiki and am working on another.  I found another link that used a similar technique with some variations so that's the version I am working on now.  Find the instructions at this link.

Once you have finished your furoshiki (or if you prefer, found a bandana or scarf you like) find an appropriate bento box.  This can be anything from a beautiful store bought box, a fun Hello Kitty box, a Tupperware box, a 50 cent Glad or Ziploc box intended for leftovers or even a Cool Whip container.  Pack your lunch in the box and tie it up in your fuorshiki.  Add a pair of chopsticks and you're all set!

Quotable quotes; in the category That's Why The Furoshiki Is Totally Reversible!

"The reverse side also has a reverse side."  Japanese Proverb.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Garden Slow Down

I haven't posted about gardening recently because I have not been doing much gardening mostly because there's not a lot to do.  My bed/boxes are pretty well planted out and the seeds are beginning to sprout.  Now I'll be "succession" planting - adding a few beans to the bean plot each week to ensure a continuous crop.

Mr. has been clearing off the patio which has been buried under layers of twigs, vines, trash and leaves due to having the house stripped of climbing vines and tuck-pointed last fall.  It will be nice to have the patio visible and hopefully usable again.

This is NOT the view from our yard.
We bought a swing/glider like this one a couple years ago.  Maybe this year we can put it together and have it out in the yard for shady sitting.  It may be replacing a cedar bench we bought several years ago which is now showing its age, and another "park" bench we scrounged that is unwilling to be rehabilitated.  Unless I can find appropriate cedar slats and hardware, and time to repair them, they may be reduced to firewood, something I don't like to think about.

I have been weeding, trying to develop the habit of pulling a few weeds every day or every time I go into the yard.  Sort of like piling things that go upstairs near the stairway in hopes I'll remember to bring them upstairs next time I go.  I have been checking the beds each evening when I get home from work, and each morning on the way to work, both to check on the sprouting progress and to give them a drink of water.  So far so good.

I still have a few things to plant out - roses, clematis, tomatoes and herbs.  Hopefully those will go into the ground this weekend.  When the beds/planters start to look like something besides pots of earth I'll take more pictures and post them.  Until then, happy gardening.

Quotable quotes; in the category  Yay!  Less Work For Me!  I Mean . . . Hey, Wait!

"God made rain so gardeners could get the housework done."  Author Unknown

Friday, May 10, 2013

Nice Hat!

I love this hat.  I made it last year.  I like to wear a hat in summer to keep the sun off my head and neck, partly to prevent sunburn but also cuz dang it, hats are cute!  And this hat is really nice.  I'm proud of the job I did.  It turned out very well.

Hats like this become popular every now and then.  In the 1970s we wore hats like this, usually hand made and often with a flower pin or some other decoration attached to the upturned brim.  My friend wore one when we went to Europe on a choir tour.  I had one a few years before that I made in high school.  Lots of my friends had hats like this they either bought or made themselves.

I had some problems making this hat.  I found the pattern at this popular web site.  There were some missing links in the instructions, mostly with how to put the pattern pieces together.  They print out on separate sheets of paper, part of the pattern on each one, and it's a bit challenging to get the pieces all lined up and taped together so you can cut out a cohesive pattern template.  If you decide to make this hat be sure to read all the comments (there are many) as they contain valuable information about how to put the pattern together and how to make the hat.  Also, be sure to test-fit the pattern to your head before cutting your fabric as the pattern seems to run pretty large.

You can also buy a commercial hat pattern (look in the craft or accessories section of the pattern catalog) or find other patterns on line.  Search for floppy hat, sun hat, free pattern, and just keep looking until you find the one you like best.  Some sites show you how to draft your own pattern, others provide a pattern for you, sometimes for free.  Here's a google search to get you started.

I recommend using a fairly heavy interfacing in the brim.  I used a very light interfacing and eventually took the hat apart, inserted a stiffer interfacing and sewed the hat back together - not a pleasant adventure - but in fact the hat came out better than before.  You may also wish to use a light interfacing in the crown.  I did not but I'm pretty sure the hat would benefit from it.

I also sewed rows of top stitching around the perimeter of the hat brim.  This gives a quilted look and also ensured the interfacing stays put - something to consider even if you are using iron on interfacing (which I did not).  The iron on adhesive can wear away after repeated washings and the interfacing might shift.  Or not.  It's really up to you and how long you plan to wear the hat and how often you may wash it.  I plan to wear mine forever.  That's how much I like it!

Quotable quotes; in the category Home Is Where I Hang My Brain

"He can't think without his hat."  Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot

Tuesday, May 7, 2013


I'm getting really angry at the squirrels.  They have made a regular habit of invading my finch feeders (I wouldn't begrudge them a little bird seed but they don't eat the black thistle seed - just spill it all over the ground so the finches can't have it) and sometimes pulling the feeders off the tree, smashing them and breaking the hangers.  They're like the slobs who go to a buffet, slop around in all the food but don't take any, leaving it a disgusting mess so nobody coming after them wants to eat it either.

They have routinely beheaded my tulips, year after year, even digging up and eating the bulbs.  Indeed, this is the first year I ever had tulips in the front yard, where I planted them some years ago.  They bloomed today.  Let's see how long these three can go before being squirrel-ated (they have already destroyed the potted tulips the Man brought me at Easter, and eaten the buds off every other tulip that managed to get close to blooming).

They have been digging in my potted pansies, most often just after I tucked a few nasturtium seeds into the soil.  And those seeds are expensive!  They molested the planter box I seeded with lettuces and mesclun.  And just yesterday, the climbed into a planter I thought was fairly impenetrable and dug around, uprooting the beans just on the verge of sprouting and apparently taking nips out of the shallots (also expensive) which are now dying instead of growing.

Like I said, I would not begrudge them a little something - but why do they have to leave waste and wreak havoc?  They truly are the bullies of the garden.  Somebody outta squeal on them.

Quotable quotes; in the category I Guess This Is About The Nicest Thing I Can Think Of Regarding Squirrels!

"I squirrel away sealed greeting cards that people give me so I can open them later when I'm having a bad day."  Emily Procter, Actress (CSI Miami)

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Garden All Over

My garden does not stop at the beds or boxes in the yard.  It extends onto my front porch.  These boxes have been there for years, alternately trying to support an herb garden or lettuce bed and one year, the neighbor's cat.  I inserted plastic forks and knives in an attempt to keep him from cat-napping in the planter, which apparently is ideally situated for sunny snoozing.

Yesterday I planted two of these boxes with various lettuces.  Lettuce is a cool weather crop and in Chicago we will likely have cool days interspersed with occasional days in the 80s (bleah).  So maybe I'll get a little lettuce.  And if not, I'll get some sun and exercise planting and tending.

I have yet to plant more herbs in my larger pots and planters - dill, basil, parsley, oregano, the list goes on.

I am not sure why I was bit so hard by the gardening bug this year.  It's been several years since I did much more than plant out a few pots of pansies and pop a few herbs into the ground.  Something is different.  I hope it means I am moving into a more motivated time of my life.  I have a lot to do and the years are passing.

Quotable quotes; in the category That's No Reason Not To Go There!

"There may be fairies at the bottom of the garden.  There's no evidence for it, but you can't prove that there aren't any, so shouldn't we be agnostic with respect to fairies?"  Richard Dawkins

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Gardening for Free

I had a plastic box like this.  It contained computer discs which we recycled but I did not know how to recycle the box.  I thought of lining it with fabric to turn it into a purse but I knew I would never do it and would never carry the purse if I did.

Yesterday, I took the box apart and cut it up into strips.  Most of the box was usable.  I cut each strip in half with a point on one end, and wrote the names of my "crops" on the other end.  Then I stuck the pointed end into my garden planters.

I have a bad habit of not labeling things which leads to a freezer full of mystery meat or a garden full of "is this a weed or a plant".  I am hoping the plant markers will alleviate the latter.  I am also hoping I got the right markers into each planter.

You can make similar markers from just about anything - popsicle sticks, paint stirrers, plastic strips cut from milk or juice bottles, even stones painted or marked with the name of the plant.  Here is a link to some great ideas for do-it-yourself garden markers.  I like mine best.  They were free.

Quotable quotes; in the category Yes, And I Get It!

"A garden always has a point."  Elizabeth Hoyt, author of The Raven Prince