Monday, August 17, 2015

Once upon a mogwai...

I saw "Gremlins" when I was a kid, but I watched the DVD version I purchased for $4 a few days ago and it was not the movie I remembered. There seemed to be such depth to the little character Gizmo, who is so much more than just small, adorable, and kind of helpless in a human world where everything is so much bigger than he is.

In the beginning, however, he is not an agent in his own life. He is put inside a box and taken away from Mr. Wing; falls into a garbage can headfirst and has to be rescued and bandaged; and has water spilled on him which, in addition to creating more mogwais, seems to sting and burn him. If he underwent his metamorphosis and became a full-fledged gremlin, these things would not be happening to him. He would have all the capabilities we see in the scaly monsters later on in the movie. But even when he's offered chicken, Gizmo refuses and lets the opportunity to become bigger (and badder) pass by him. He makes a choice - presumably one that he has made more than once - to remain in what is essentially a larval stage.

Gizmo also helps kill other gremlins, which left me wondering: How does he feel about his own capacity to become just as cunning, murderous, and evil? Is he a happy little singing mogwai all the time, or is he sometimes sad that he carries with him the ability to turn into a gremlin?

Perhaps, but perhaps not. By the end of "Gremlins", our mogwai has gotten a bit tired of being hauled around in a backpack and decides to take matters into his own hands (paws?). He skillfully drives a toy car into a greenhouse to outmaneuver the gremlin mastermind Stripe, whom he manages to fatally wound with direct sunlight. Move aside, humans. The inches-tall rubber puppet is the true hero of this movie, proving to himself that he doesn't need to be bigger or badder in order to be the one who saves the day.

Even before I had seen Gizmo, when he was burbling and singing to himself in the back of the store in his little box, I was kind of enchanted. I wanted there to be more to him than just big round eyes and a vocabulary that included "light bright!" for any brilliant light source and "woof woof!" for dogs. So I'm very glad that he got his own character arc and could grow and change as the movie progressed - a metamorphosis entirely of his own choosing, and just as powerful as the one the gremlins undergo.


Sunday, March 22, 2015

Garden from kitchen scraps?

Somewhere in the past year, I've become a Pinterest fanatic. It happened slowly - first a few pins a month, then graduating to several a week, and then finally it became a daily routine. My interests are all over the map: historical fashion from before 1970, handmade cards, sewing and knitting and (of course) cooking. But now that my husband and I have access to a yard, I've started a Pinterest "board" for gardening.

There are a lot of steps involved in gardening, as I knew - I helped my grandfather and then my father plant a garden every year when I was a child. Both men preferred to put seeds directly in the ground and let them align with the rhythm of the earth and its seasons. I've begun to wonder, thanks to many posts on Pinterest, if I should be starting seeds in a bit of potting soil before letting them loose in nature. I don't have all the supplies required, though - and I don't really have the room.

Thankfully Pinterest sent me a compromise - starting garden plants from kitchen scraps. Right now I have the end of a bunch of celery sitting in warm water in a sunny window. The only difference between day 1 and day 2 is that the end looks significantly more brown, but I'm assured by Pinterest that it will sprout within the next week or so. Even if it doesn't, I will only be out a celery bunch end that I would have thrown away anyway, instead of being out seeds and supplies. If this works (or maybe even if it doesn't), I'd like to try garlic next.

Do you garden? What methods do you use to start your garden? Have you tried starting plants from kitchen scraps - and did it work for you? Let me know in the comments!

Monday, April 28, 2014

On hiatus: Square seat cushions

I had hoped to write my next blog post after I finished working on a set of four upholstered seat cushions. I picked up a used copy of The Pillow Book by Shannon Okey, which has so many lovely designs in it for sprucing up any corner of the home! And anyone who knows me, knows that I have a large box of odd fabric pieces just waiting to be turned into...something.

But, alas, I overestimated the size of the foam 'fillers' and am trying to work out how best to salvage the process. So far, here are my two favourite possibilities:

1) Cut each one in half and make smaller cushions?

2) Cut each filler so that I can use multiple pieces of foam to precisely fit the shape of the original pattern?

I'm afraid to cut lest I spoil the foam for good. So for now, the nicely matching two patterns of fabric - one a remnant from a bedspread my grandmother made, the other a clearance-bin find at a fabric store - and matching buttons (from my grandmother's button jar) are sitting on the sewing machine table, waiting to regain my attention.

See! All ready to go...as soon as I work out that whole foam thing...

I HAVE been busy finding new homes for some things that I no longer need, however. Re-using is another theme of this blog, and I'm happy to report that my Facebook Garage Sale was a success! Friends and family members happily availed themselves of the extra Pyrex dishes and cutlery and servingware that accumulated when my husband and I merged households. He and I did not register anywhere since we already had pretty much everything we would need, and then some...hence the "Garage Sale". The cupboards aren't nearly as crowded anymore - which is great since we don't have a lot of cupboard or closet space, in the hopes of cutting down on the number of 'things' we hoard.

Since it finally looks like spring out there, I have two upcoming posts planned that should be perfect for the (very late) season: - Fun, cost-effective things to do outdoors! - De-cluttering a.k.a. Spring cleaning!

Stay tuned!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Transformation: A skirt from pants!

Welcome back! My sincere apologies for the long and unintended hiatus. As many bloggers before me have stated, sometimes life events just get in the way, and that is also the case here - not least of the events being my wedding! I'll say more about that in another post, because I want to show off my latest treasure.

I had a lovely pair of black, 100% linen dress pants that developed a hole along one inside seam. The surrounding fabric was just too thin and worn for patching to be effective, so I dumped the beautiful pants into the rag-bag, thinking they might be used to patch something else.

Then I found this pants-to-a-skirt tutorial by Michelle and I knew immediately what the linen pants had been waiting for - a complete transformation! With a sewing machine, as Michelle mentions, the project can take as little as two hours.

But, since my machine's motor is still waiting for repair, I hand-stitched the project, which took me two days. It probably would have taken me even longer, if not for this tutorial by Danni, which shows any novice seamstress or seamster like myself how to hem using nearly-invisible stitches that won't unravel.

And then I got really ambitious after doing a search for skirt trimmings on Pinterest. Melly Sews demonstrated how to lengthen a skirt using a matching pleat sewn separately, and I wanted to try the same thing. Since the new skirt is black, I decided to use a bright gold-and-purple floral-patterned synthetic fabric I'd bought years ago for a scarf project that never happened.

Again, Melissa's tutorial mentions a sewing machine, and a serger. Having neither tool, I naively undertook pleats by hand. Not highly recommended, but I am very pleased with the results.

I feel great about having "up-cycled" a no-longer-functional item of clothing into something useful and beautiful.

What do you think? Leave me a comment and let me know!!

(Huge thanks to my wonderful husband for the photos!)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Creating beautiful leftovers!



My yarn stash is kinda out of control.

Ok, not REALLY out of control. It all fits into one duffle bag, I swear. Well, and my grandma's old knitting basket. And a few things in the drawer of the plastic storage compartment where I keep my painting and beading supplies...

I'm a crafter. And things tend to accumulate. Especially yarn - after all, sometimes a pattern will end up using 3/4 of a ball of yarn, so what are you supposed to do with the other 1/4 that you can't make a whole pattern out of?

Morehouse Farms is a beautiful small retailer that has solved the problem for me. Not only have they rescued sheep in trouble and brought them into their fold, but their kits are also simple and beautiful. AND they have "leftovers" patterns on their website, so that you and I don't have to feel guilty about those small rolls of yarn we couldn't use but still thought were lovely and could make SOMETHING.

Click here to discover table runners, mitts and more, all made with your leftover yarn.




Image courtesy of ukapala | sxc.hu

Friday, July 8, 2011

Tea PAR-TAY!


Welcome to my kitchen! On tap: Ginger-Peach iced tea.



It's summer and I'm thirsty pretty much all the time. If I join a friend for lunch or 'coffee', my order is invariably an iced tea. I was happily surprised by a Pizza Hut in Minnesota, which actually brought me fresh-brewed tea on ice - unsweetened, which is how I drink tea whether it's warm or cold.

I've brewed tea, added ice cubes, and put it in the fridge before. The results never varied: my parnter sniffed, said he thought it smelled ok, and tried a couple of sips from my glass before foresaking my attempt. No Nestea or Lipton's for him, either. He buys Arizona brand green tea, sweet tea, any of their offerings he can find.

Forget that. I'mma make my own.

Today I created an iced tea that both partner and I enjoy. Here's how:

Steep 4 Ginger-Peach Herbal Tea bags in 4 cups of boiling water for 6 minutes. Stir in at least 5 sugar cubes (5 teaspoons of sugar), 2 teaspoons honey, and 3 pieces fresh cut ginger.

In desired pitcher, pour 3 cups cold water and add 6 ice cubes. Let stand until tea has steeped.

Add hot tea and ginger to cold water. Allow to refrigerate for at least 4 hours before drinking.

The same beautiful tea that kept me warm in the winter can keep me cool in the summer. Wonderful =)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The right pair makes all the difference...



When my good friend Holly walked in, I could tell right away that something was different. A new pair of glasses - a beautiful wrought-metal frame. After admiring them, I asked (perhaps rudely) how much they had cost. After all, my own most recent pair would have been unaffordable if not for health insurance.

Holly's answer surprised me. She said that the frames were from the 1950s, and she had purchased them through an online antique site for just $40. The prescription lenses that were in the frame when it arrived didn't match Holly's needs, so she ordered lenses to be cut to fit the frame, in her prescription.

For people like me who require thicker lenses for special conditions, just up and ordering any pair of glasses isn't possible. But frames can cost over $200, and if I was able to find the right frame, why couldn't I get an inexpensive one and only pay for the lenses?

Let's see if I can look as good as Professor Tiger up there. Next time I need a new pair of glasses, I'll be looking online first.

Image courtesy of gabetarian | sxc.hu