Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The rocking chair re-do

I meant to post this one a few days ago, but I had a little sadness in my life so I took a short break. I may post about it later, or I may not. I haven't decided yet.

Anyway, I'm feeling a lot better now and figured I ought to tell you about my rocking chair! I'm very proud of it.
This is what it looks like now. The weave isn't perfect, but I'd say it's definitely not bad for a first try and done in a couple hours (probably took me about 3 hours what with unwrapping and re-wrapping a few times to get it to look "right") And I listened to Tom Sawyer on audio book while I did so. Very enjoyable.

Take a look at it before:
No seat! I found this Bentwood rocker at the thrift store with a five dollar price tag. Yes, it had a broken seat and a semi broken back but when I saw it I wanted it. I called my husband and discussed with him, he told me to get it if I really wanted it. So I did. Then I researched seat weaving and how to do it. It didn't look hard but everything I found said it required a lot of ribbon, fabric, rope, wicker or whatever you chose to do it with. When I finally went to the art and craft store (4 months later, as you can see from the date) I looked into buying canvas ribbon, which was what I had in mind all along. But it cost a lot, even in bulk and I couldn't see myself spending that much, even if it looked really good. So I searched for other sturdy ribbons and found some indoor-outdoor extra strong ribbon -25 yards for 6.99!

I knew it would definitely be enough. I bought two because I wanted the checker pattern, but one probably would have been enough. At least this way I have enough if I ever want to weave up the back. For now a pillow does the trick of making it both comfortable (helps one lean less far back, as bentwoods are known for their deep rock) and (mostly) hiding the broken back.

I love it and sit in it all the time to read.

Now, when I was getting ready to check-out of the craft store a lady came up to me and asked if I would like the coupons she couldn't use, which of course I accepted. This took 40% off of each roll of ribbon, so the rocking chair ended up being even cheaper than I was expecting. But even if I hadn't had the awesome coupon gift it still would have been a Bentwood style rocking chair for under 20 bucks! And I've seen knock-offs of these for around $150! I don't know if mine is genuine in anyway; probably not. Still, it's comfortable and looks pretty and now it's customized to my liking!

Friday, July 22, 2011

A new pair of trousers

I love it when I get a good variety of crafting done in a short space of time. The past couple weeks I've done crocheting, earring making, fixed up my rocking chair and made myself a pair of summer trousers. And that's not all! I've also made some new extracts and whipped up my first herbal vinegar and finished some very good books. I'll do more detailed posts on some of these other things, but today the spotlight is on the pants....Or should I say "Pantaloons"?
No, I don't think pantaloons is the right word. They're not voluminous enough. Haha.  This is my second pair of pants that I've made in this fashion, the pattern is my own, though I can't claim to have really designed it. I mean, you see pants like this all over the place in the east. I like to call them my "Aladdin pants" or sometimes my "gypsy trousers."  These ones are even more fantasy-gypsy style because of the two-tone design I gave them. I love the style and I love these colours. My first pair I made several years ago and have loved  them near to death, though, despite the wear and fading they've taken, I have to say I'm proud of how sturdy they've been so far and how well they've held up! Not bad for a hand-sewn novice job I'd say. You can see a picture of me in the old pair in my vest coat refashion post.

I'm very happy to have two pairs, because now I can rotate them during the summer months. They are very comfy and keep one quite cool when the weather is hot. Also, I get compliments on them all the time, which I love. Who doesn't love getting compliments?

Bonus! I made a little sachet with some of the scraps. It was surprisingly quick to make and filled with dried lavender buds it smells delightful.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Old Songs Festival 2011

 Well, here it is. The long expected Old Songs post. I'm sad to say that I didn't get very many great pictures this time around. I'm very shy when it comes to photographing people I don't know, especially when my picture taking will be very obvious. Next year, hopefully, I'll be bolder.

When we arrived, it was raining. The rain was off and on nearly the whole weekend. I haven't been to an Old Songs where it didn't rain at least once, but this one was particularly rainy. I think setting up our tent in the rain is traditional though. This time, however, we got there before dark, which was really nice. The picture below is of John and his younger brother Kevin. They are fast tent-setter-uppers, having both been boy scouts.
Setting up the tent

Other tents and some nice views.
 As we do every year, in order to get a free admission ticket, we volunteered to help out at the festival. We always work in the kitchen and food prep department aptly named Creature Comforts. We don aprons, bandanas and latex or vinyl gloves and cut vegetables, assemble egg salads, stir soups and when the other volunteers, performers and vendors line up for their lunch we serve it to them.
John and Kevin prep some lunch
 It's really rather jolly for the most part. Serving the performers is always exciting because you get to see up close musicians and singers and dancers whom you've admired from afar. Sometimes you even get to tell them how much you liked their show!
A really big salad
 The workshops are another very cool part of Old Songs. John and I went to a concertina workshop in the hopes of picking up some good tips. It was interesting and entertaining. We don't, either of us, currently play the concertina, but we're planning to buy one sometime soon! This guy was in a band called The Press Gang.
Concertina Workshop
 Old songs is located in Altamont, NY. It's a lovely place with a beautiful view of some mountainous terrain.  This is probably the back of some famous mountain range, but I really couldn't tell you.
A nice view
Here's the closest picture I could get of one of my more favourite bands. We went to a couple of their smaller concerts as well as seeing them on the main stage here. They were called The Outside Track and were composed of four people from various parts of the British Isles (two from Ireland I think, one from Scotland and the other from England) and one gal from the U.S, Maine, I think. They met at Univeristy in Limerick Ireland. They were very talented and played some beautiful music, Celtic, Scottish and and old American folk, primarily. The violinist also did quite a bit of step-dancing.
The Outside Track
 And then there's the Contra Dance every night of the festival. I never actually dance, but I do enjoy watching. The colours and the motion are very hypnotic, and the rhythmic speech of the caller speaking the next moves to the music is inspiring. I'd probably join the dance if I could convince my husband to join me. He's not much of a dancer.

John and I went to a whistle and flute workshop. The floutist from The Outside Track was one of the teachers, she was vivacious and cheerful. I liked her a lot even though she would insist that it was "an easy song" and it really wasn't (And I know my way around a penny whistle pretty well). The other teachers were a Seminole indian who taught some about Native American five holed whistles and a clarinet player who played improv/backup penny whistle and recorder for a band that played a lot of eastern style music. It was a fun workshop. 
 The piper.
 The festival is at some large fairgrounds where there are all kinds of historical farming implements scattered about. I wish I had taken more photos of this kind of stuff, it looks really neat.
Rusted farming equipment
That's pretty much it for the good ones of Old Songs. I need to get over my fear of photographing strangers, I'm sure most of the musicians and performers expect and don't mind having their picture taken. There's also a lot of people in some very interesting clothing at Old Songs, it's frequently like a mixture of a Renaissance Faire and a hippie gathering. Really, folk-music enthusiasts usually are pretty hippie-like. I feel like my hippie-fairy clothing style fits right in when I'm there. It's always tons of fun and ever so tiring, but completely worth it.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Summery Update

Summer is full of activity and adventure. It's hard to find time to stop all the fun and actually take time and record it all sometimes. I've been pretty bad with writing here and even my photo taking has been slack lately. With all my running around and picking berries, making sun tea, going to the beach and delving more into herbalism I just keep forgetting that I need to keep track of it all!

Yesterday, I picked a quart of wild black raspberries. I haven't yet made my mind up about what I want to do with them. I'll need another 3 quarts to make a gallon of wine (according to one recipe, at least) and I'm not sure if I want to put that kind of effort in. It's pretty hot out there, even in the morning! Maybe ice cream, hmm.... Got any ideas? I don't want to just eat them, after all that work!

We've spent some time at Plum Island at John's parents house. They're doing some remodeling including adding 2 decks (besides upgrading their first one). One is a roof top deck and the view is incredible!
Looking to the west south-west

We went up to have a look before the actual deck was on, and the only way to get up is by ladders. Soon there will be actual decking and some spiral staircases. I'm really excited to see it done, it'll be some cool architecture.

Of course there's been sun tea:
And some very pretty flowers!


Purple and White (Anyone know these?)

We went to Odiorn State Park for Independence Day

 Our group went geo-caching....
There was a tupper-ware in the crags of the rocks....

Which is really great for the pretty hikes you get to go on...
Path through arched trees

I crocheted my first hat! I felt inclined to go to my pastor's daughter's baby shower and thought it would make a pretty decent gift. Cheers for tutorials!
Baby Beanie
John models the fab hat
And probably the dumbest activity of the summer thus far! *drum roll, please*.......
I made cupcakes!.......No trust me, it was a dumb idea. It was probably the warmest day of the year yet and so humid and muggy. Not only do you not want to be turning your oven on for 30 minutes, but you also don't want to be creaming sugar, beating eggs, whisking flour OR whipping whites and boiling sugar water for buttercream. At least the butter softened fast...

And they tasted good. Earl Grey cupcakes with chocolate orange butter cream.
Not to mention these fail cute hello kitty and flower decorations....

I got the recipe from Katiecakes, and made the buttercream from Joy of Cooking with lots of alterations. I kind of preferred them without the buttercream, though. The earl grey flavour was delicate but really good and the buttercream sort of stole the show. But they were still yummy. Also, the recipe is in metric, which really throws me, but you can use this handy calculator for translating it into American measurements.

We also went to Old Songs Fest, but that deserves its own post; coming soon!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Amazing chocolate cake

I'm making this amazingly delicious chocolate cake today for my father-in-law's birthday. It's amazing and delicious. I know because I've made it once before. The only thing I plan to change is that in the whipped cream filling I'm going to flavour it with peppermint extract (homemade!) instead of vanilla. YUM.

I love chocolate.

I also love this lady's blog. She's hilarious, has really amazing photos and her recipes are always fabulous. I hope you enjoy!

The Frog Prince
Bonus picture! This little statuette hangs out near the backdoor of our apartment building. Random and awesome, no?

Update: Here's the picture of my completed product. Unfortunately,  my "roll" didn't work. It worked the first time I made it, but this time I think I let it cool too long before rolling it in the tea towel. So I go (delicious) chocolate cake bits. I layered them, put some mint whipped cream over them, and layered them again. I didn't have enough whipped cream to cover the entire top so I just plopped it in the middle. And then garnished with a mint sprig for prettiness. It was delicious and my father-in-law really liked it.
Heavenly  chocolate cake with mint whipped cream.
 Heck, we all liked it! (Even my mother-in-law who is always on a "diet")
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