Current status of my hair, which I just got trimmed. It has taken an entire pandemic to get so long.

I never use a hair dryer, so I’m not used to it being straight, or poofy in a non-triangle way. I look like a different person! Sort of!

My phone takes these live photos, and I was told it’s weird to post them like that. The thing is, I am a little weird. How was I ever expected to not do this?

Please enjoy three seconds of me being awkward, thank you iPhone.


A proper fairy ring has emerged in my neighborhood. This isn’t the first time and it won’t be the last. How am I supposed to not get in it?

How do you look at this and not get in

Another specimen from the same property. I stopped to stare at it.

It’s perfect

I made some little chain rings today and they’re giving me life. I can pick and mix them, and stack them or wear them singly. They’re so fun. It’s the little things. (I included my bracelet as a size reference.)

I got compliments on my outfit (!) which included, okay, all the rings, at the hair place and couldn’t even talk because I was squealing incoherently with delight. So yeah, reentry is going normally, just playing it super cool over here as usual.


Now I’m going cheese shopping. Wish me luck.

Found within

It’s fig season, let’s eat some figs

and grapes

That fluff in the front is mascarpone cheese with brown sugar mixed in, a darned delight.


When I walked into Anthropologie last week and the entire place smelled like fig, I just about lost it. I felt I had walked into my heart’s true home, but it wasn’t, it’s a store, people don’t live there, Shin Ae, no one gets to live there.

Anyway, a candle came home with me. It’s very good.


We’re having a gloomy day and maybe a tornado. Are you? Please do something nice for yourself, you deserve it.

Nani Iro Atelier Dress K and more

Three examples of Dress K. I made all three too large, and I am going to undo all of them.

The first, made from unbleached muslin. This is when I learned that, rather than tracing the lines for all the gathers, it would be far easier to simply measure where to put them on the fabric. I highly recommend this course of action if you’re making the dress. I spilled tea on it, don’t look.

Next, from one of my favorite Nani Iro prints, in cotton double-gauze.

A final version, which I’m in the process of picking apart. I’m excited to reuse the fabric. I appreciate how the pattern for the dress was created to use as much fabric without cutting as possible. This gives me more to work with when I reuse, and preserves the beautiful prints in the dresses. This is also cotton double-gauze.

Here’s the dress in the pattern book:

And, it’s from this book:


This ring came into my life yesterday. It was love at first sight.

It’s impossible to take a non-weird picture of your own hand! If you’re me! Anyway, here, have a leg as well!

When I went to pay for it, it was on sale, THEN the woman at the register gave me sweet compliments and discounted it FURTHER, which means now the ring is so full of good vibes it almost glows. I feel so happy whenever I look at it.


Cheese update! Four additional cheeses were eaten this week. Cheeses 29-32 are:

A honeyed, hard, goats milk cheese which was fine. Good. I’ll finish it, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to get it again.

Cheddar bathed in Chartreuse. Yes. Yes. Would absolutely go out of my way for this.

Also, I ate Cotija, which is delicious, and Jarlsberg, reliably good.

Surprise

The naked ladies are in bloom again! I always forget they’re here until giant pink flowers show up in the yard.

Just a humble, rural yard. With chicken wire.

This is the kind of thing I would never choose in a million years, for I am a boring gardener. Exhibit A is my fall bulb order, in progress.

sigh 🤍

But the naked ladies happened unexpectedly. One scorching afternoon, the mail lady rolled up with a heap of them drooping from the back of her truck. A neighbor gave them to her, would I take some, there were just so many. Yes, I would take some, what are they? I don’t know, she said. Okay! I planted them immediately and forgot all about it.

I was horrified and delighted when these emerged, as I have been each year since. They are just so…meaty in person. And big. And whoa pink. And blue, somehow? The blue thrills me. I absolutely love them.

oh my

Since the flowers went in the ground, Rose of Sharon shrubs (pictured in the background) marched across the back fence and have stayed. I don’t know where they came from, but there are a lot of them. (Please ignore the cicada-damaged leaves which are constantly falling everywhere.)

So, the backyard unintentionally got very pink. I’m still sold on my boring, very beautiful, white-flowering bulb order for the front yard, though.

And, oh! an update: the snake left the herb garden on its own! I was so excited about that. Now I’m in the process of fixing it so it’s perhaps less snake-friendly in the future, fingers crossed. It does still have bunnies (adorable) and poison ivy (not adorable)(just a little on the edges)(I hope). I’ve neglected it a little.

My effort to eat 100 different cheeses this year continues. This week I added cheeses 24-28 to the list. If you are new, you may be thinking my effort is doomed to failure; this is week 31 of the year and I have only eaten 28 cheeses. Never fear, I just started the count last week. This is definitely happening.

The week’s target was 3.5 cheeses, and I added 5. Mmm hmm.

Ski Queen. Rob loves it, the Internet loves it, I technically ate it. That’s all I have to say about Ski Queen.

Efficiency! Look at that three-for-one! Spanish cheeses* are in my comfort zone, and I liked them as always. I’m surprised these weren’t already on the list.

Cheese number five is the half-ton of burrata I forgot I ate throughout the winter. Go me? Anyway, it gets to be on the list.


My son gave me this shell and it’s the best shell I’ve ever seen in real life. I love every single thing about it, and I can’t stop looking at it in disbelief at how beautiful and wonderful it is. My goodness, what a thing. Anyway, I wanted to show it to you because it has brought me so much pleasure, and maybe you will enjoy looking at it, too.


*This was a silly thing to say. I meant the very commonly available Spanish cheeses, not every single cheese in Spain 😉

When I got this year’s planner, I saw it had pages to write 100 things. ‘My 100,’ it said. Oh, how annoying. Who has the kind of time and mental bandwidth left over to…MY 100. COME ON. I’m supposed to have a 100, now?

I exhausted myself outside doing yard work today. My brain was (and is) mush. This allowed me to imagine being a person who set small, fun challenges for herself, challenges which were not directly related to critical goals, which might just add to quality of life. Is it possible this could also be important in its way?

It is possible.

I want to eat 100 different kinds of cheese this year. They don’t have to be cheeses I’ve never tried before, but they do have to be different from one another. Since I haven’t tried a hundred kinds, ever, this means I’ve got to try a bunch of new things in order to get to 100.

It’s August and I’ve only had 23, which means I have to try 3.5 per week, and it’s going to be fun, and I really have to hurry! Can I do it? I think yes.

More Kokka 3 Minute Dresses, plus miscellany

I’m still going through old projects I never posted. I showed you a couple of my Kokka 3 Minute dresses before (here and here). These are the other four (!) I’ve done.

These are all Nani Iro cotton double-gauze, a supremely lovely fabric which I think it’s obvious I can’t get enough of. I don’t even want to tell you the kind of yardage I’m sitting on at the moment. I’ve been collecting it for over a decade, receiving some at Christmas or birthdays, or both. To me, it’s both beautiful and represents something more, because it was always a gift.

This print. I love it so much. I have it in, mmm, five colors? At least. I have only used two so far.

This hand-drawn herringbone print is so great, isn’t it?

Also, as I was photographing these, I was asking myself, “How in the world did cat hair get all over everything? I kept it folded, away.” My answer sauntered through the frame. How, indeed.

I wasn’t sure if I liked this print at first, but it grew on me and now I really do.

Front

These photos were difficult to take, but this was my first try at the sewing pattern. I wasn’t sure I’d like it, so I pieced together scraps to try it out. I did the neckline inside-out on one side, ha.

Back

You can see it’s a voluminous garment. The pattern is one-size-fits-most.

I like how comfortable it is. I like how it folds neatly into a square. However, please note that it’s incredibly unflattering, and plan accordingly.

For me this is a ‘no way in hell am I getting out of the car’ sort of garment, a ‘they told me I have to wear clothes but I am doing my best not to’ thing to throw on when I am cranky and uncomfortable. We all need those clothes, though! Right?


This week has been a lot. Doing more than usual of this:

She was the best Miss Marple. Oh, I loved her.


Should I show a photo of dinner? I didn’t plan to, I wanted to talk about other food, but I don’t have the energy to get into it. Maybe next time. Here’s dinner:

It’s pork with a whiskey sauce, rice, and a pile of crunchy vegetables (green beans, snow peas, broccoli slaw). Baby romaine underneath. Raspberry poppyseed dressing on the vegetables.

That’s all for now. It’s time for a walk. The night just got perfect and I don’t want to miss it.

Here in summer

Some dresses I made years ago.

Nani Iro fabric
An older print on Yuwa lawn
I made this one in Liberty Tana Lawn

I used pattern number one from this book to make the dresses:


I have several duplicates I made of another pattern, and decided to disassemble them and cut some Wiksten tank tops from them.

I botched the very first one. We have been going at one another for a week and a half and are currently at an impasse.

My nemesis

Janssen’s Market has been nestled in its cozy corner of a Wilmington, DE shopping center for quite some time, but I’ve never managed to make it in. I finally went yesterday. It’s perfect.

Here’s my tiny haul from yesterday which is pleasing me to no end as I plan what to do with everything.

  • Nielsen-Massey orange flower water
  • Rose petal preserves
  • Bonne Maman do a chestnut spread, how exciting!
  • Boston Harbor tea, which boasts having been tossed into the harbor. Was it truly a loss, or should they have taken a hint? We will find out. (Update: I think it has a really nice flavor, and it’s not too weak. Medium-strength, I’d say. It’s good, and I’m enjoying it.)
  • Bonne Maman lemon tartlet cookies (Update: these were cute and nice with coffee, good to keep on hand for friends who drop by.)
  • Brianna’s, my favorite brand of salad dressing (so far), in varieties I haven’t seen: Lemon-Tarragon and Blueberry Balsamic vinaigrettes. (Update: Lemon-Tarragon is now among my top 3 favorite salad dressings and will enjoy Staple Item status)
  • Better than Bullion soup base in a mushroom variety I am freaking out about. I hope it’s good!

Kochi Jacket 2, and soup

I finished my second Kochi Jacket, and I like it.

I ended up piecing together the sleeves and the neckline, because I didn’t have large enough pieces to cut them from. I was reusing fabric from a dress I took apart.

You can see my lines are a little wobbly, but I ended up liking the pieced look, especially with the neon stitching. I think it gives those parts of the jacket a little more structure, too, which is nice. Also, it was fun to notice the little star I had stitched on my dress and forgotten about.

I think I may make more, because this little jackety thing very conveniently fills a wardrobe need. It’s been nice to have one fewer thing to think about.


This soup was inspired by one I had at Longwood Gardens in the pre-Covid days. I had been meaning to try making something similar ever since, and finally got around to it. It was so long ago I can’t remember exactly what the soup tasted like in order to tell if I matched it. I just remember sort of southwest-ish spices, but not too much spice. It was full of vegetables and chili-esque, but not chili. I mean, they may have called it chili, but it was definitely soup.

I think I got the vibe right, even if not the details. Here’s what I did, and I’m offering estimates at spice measurements because I didn’t measure. Maybe you would like more or less seasoning?

In a couple tablespoons of oil over med-high heat, sauté just until slightly softened:

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 6 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 8 oz carrots, sliced
  • 1 red, orange, or yellow bell pepper (I had a frozen blend of all 3), chopped
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped

Add and stir around:

  • 1 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (or fresh garlic if you feel like), or more or less if you have feelings about garlic
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dehydrated onion (really I would normally use onion powder, and a little less than this if I used the powder form, but this is what I had)
  • 1, 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth

Time for more seasoning! Add these and stir them in:

  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
  • And I added about 1/2 teaspoon of Penzey’s spices’ Turkish seasoning, which has more of what I already added above, but with the addition of ground sumac, which I like as an addition to, well, I throw it into lots of stuff. It adds a vegetal sour tartness without the fermented flavor or acidity you may get from other ingredients which would add sour tartness. If you don’t have sumac, you can get some, or ignore this ingredient, or add some of a similar flavor in another way, maybe by using a tiny splash of vinegar or lemon juice or perhaps even rose hip or hibiscus tea. I was going for a little something to, along with the heat of the cayenne, add a small challenge to the tastebuds. So if you have a go-to for that purpose, just very small amount.

More ingredients, final stretch. Stir in:

  • 1, 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • A handful of wild rice
  • 1/2 of a 15 oz can of puréed pumpkin
  • 1 green zucchini, sliced into quarter-moons
  • 1 yellow zucchini (or other summer squash), sliced into quarter-moons
  • A shot of brandy. Just use whatever. I would.

Simmer that for an hour or so. The wild rice and squash need to cook. I like them good and squishy, and the flavors will blend together.

I wanted mine with a more flavorful cheese (feta) and Rob went for the gentler mozzarella. We also had bread and avocado slices.


Important Trader Joe’s find:

My once next-door neighbor and dear lifelong friend used to make these and, when she did, was kind enough to share. I moved away, and it has been a long time since I’ve had a blintz. I almost cried when I saw these in the case, it just felt like the sweetest thing. They’re good! It’s no homemade blintz, the filling is a little watery from being frozen, my friend would say it’s too sweet, but still! A happy find and one I’m enjoying.

Tries Three, Four, and Five

I’m still working out how to use a little moka coffee maker. There have been plenty of opportunities for tweaks, which is what you want when you are trying to change something for the better. I tried three other changes in the process over the past two days.

Third try: Increase of heat from heat source. I used cold water and turned the burner heat to medium, rather than medium-low. I had coffee in about 15 minutes, which wasn’t bad compared to the hour it had taken on my second try at medium-low. The flavor of the coffee did not suffer from the increased heat.

Fourth try: Pre-heated water to 192 degrees F. It occurred to me an easy way to pre-heat the water (a recommendation from a couple online sources) was to simply pull it from the Keurig machine. In my home, the Keurig functions as an electric kettle, but more expensive and with a larger footprint on the countertop, hooray. A notable moment from fourth try was when I hadn’t thought for one second about how much water I’d need and hopped from one foot to the other as the Keurig chugged and puffed in its good-natured way, earnestly filling the moka pot’s chamber with scalding hot water, then flooded the countertop. The other notable moment was when I got coffee in about five minutes, a new record.

Fifth try: Pre-heated water to 192 degrees F, but without flooding the countertop. This time I opted for the smallest cup setting on the Keurig, which was almost perfect. Once again, coffee in about five minutes. I am starting to imagine I might be able to make a reasonable cup of coffee with this thing. The flavor of the coffee produced by tries four and five motivates me to do my next try with pre-heated water which is not quite so hot. The recommendation was about 158 degrees F, and 192 F is considerably warmer, so even though it’s less convenient to pre-heat water on the stovetop rather than push a button on the Keurig, I’m going to try the cooler temp and see if the coffee will have a smoother flavor.