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Category Archives: Encyclopedia MakeItSnappica

…and Q is for….


Yes, I’m abandoning my Encyclopedia of Me right here. It was a fun idea, and I enjoyed the challenge of coming up with relevant corresponding topics. Unfortunately, I had a lot of trouble remembering the ideas that I came up with until after I’d posted something else. There’s been too much forehead smacking along the way, and fun is giving way to irritation, so…. Quitter.

Meh – I’ve been called worse.

The sewing has come to a grinding halt. The chi in my work area has been totally blocked by the clutter and chaos, so I need to handle that there. There’s only so much one person can take. Handling will probably require a lot of time to shuffle, stare, and find numerous other “important” things which will need my immediate attention. Nevertheless, I’m going to give staying on task a good try. Wish me luck.


Money: Looking for an easy way to save some? Only pay with paper, and hoard your change. Also, if possible, change your purses often and quickly. When you go back to clean them all out a few months later, you’ll be pleased with the miniature goldmine that awaits you. (Miniature = a few bucks, upwards of ten or twenty if you also come across stray one dollar bills. Gold!)

Notebooks: I’ve already mentioned my love of them. Right now, I am the proud owner of two new ones, one lined and one unlined. They’re both larger than my standard medium ones, so they will be my Big Notebooks for Big Plans. Doesn’t that just sound exciting? No idea what said plans will entail, but—oh!—they will be big.

Oranges: One of the best things about winter, in my opinion: delicious oranges. So cheap and juicy!

Speaking of fruit, have you tried plumcots? Tasty tasty tasty.

Look, I warned you early on that summer goes hand in hand with fruit around here; it was bound to come up a lot.

And, last but not least, purses: It is only now, after twenty-some years of constant purse-carrying, that I often find myself with an appropriate bag for the occasion. At some point, you get tired of trying to pack way too much into a cute little shoulderbag or toting some monstrous knapsack around in the evening. I’m not sure why it’s taken so long (and I still don’t have the whole drill down 1oo% of the time), but there you go.

Oh, and how could I have left out patchwork?! I’ve decided that having a patchwork piece of some sort adds a warmer, lived-in look to any room. Our living room is still very much a work in progress, but once I threw a patchwork pillow into one of the chairs, the whole space finally started to come together. I’m sure that some restraint is probably a good idea when using this technique, but we’ll see. I still have a few more pieces in mind…for every room! Viva patchwork!

L: Lists

Definitely a fan of the list.

I’d like to say that it’s because the list is the key to effective organization. What plan can be successfully executed without organization? True as that may be, I think that I’m a little obsessed with list-making (and also notebooks, as shown here) because it seems more pro-active than it is. Need to tackle a big problem/variety of chores/week’s worth of meals? Well, make yourself a list! Don’t leave out a single detail; think of how many items you’ll eventually be able to check off as “done” later on. Curious about how many books you actually read in any given year? Well, start keeping a list! It’s like lite journaling: there’s no need to add commentary, but you still have a record of your journey. Feel like you need some self-improvement? Write it down. No, no-don’t crush yourself under the weight of a resolution. Just make a list! That’s the beauty of it all: it’s only a list. Tomorrow, you can tear it out and make a fresh one.

Knife Skills (see also: Lack Thereof)

Few people know or remember this, but I spent the better part of junior high and the first two years of high school looking forward to attending the Culinary Institute in San Francisco after graduation. Becoming a chef sounded like a dream come true: Spending all of your days surrounded by food, concocting new recipes, and then presenting your fabulous dishes to an appreciative crowd.

Then I started reading more about the life of a culinary student. Um, they have to work really really hard. We’re talking long, stressful hours, all the time. OK, maybe not the life for me. Oh, but wait! I could major in home ec and go work for Sunset magazine in their test kitchens. Sure, there might still be the long hours, but none of that rushing around during the dinner rush. Perfection!

Two things stopped me from pursuing my epicurean dreams: I’m not all that inspired when it comes to developing recipes, and my knife skills are horrible. Now, you may say that these things are learned skills, and you would be right to some degree, but I can’t get the picture out of my head of me still standing at a Culinary Institute station, slowly dicing vegetables and having some chef shouting, “Again!”, seventeen long years later. It’s not altogether far-fetched, believe me. Still, I’m determined to keep trying. I watch very carefully as Tyler Florence tries to show someone the proper techniques on Food 911. Unfortunately, for me, it’s a bit like dancing: In my head, I see exactly how I want my body to move, but then I get out on the floor and turn into Elaine Benes. On the flip side, though, now that I’ve become the head chef at Chez Snappy, I get plenty of opportunities to practice. Plenty. And I am becoming a pro at recipe modifications and reinterpretations, if not development, and the results are met by an appreciative group. I guess you could say that, while my dream has been scaled back a little, it hasn’t been abandoned altogether.

Some days, though, I still feel like there’s someone over my shoulder shouting, “Again!”. The mealtimes—they never stop coming.



Just chillin’.

All I know is that he was inordinately please with himself here; I don’t ask questions.

I: InStitches Sew Along

Definitely my favorite crafty challenge of each month. So here we are, Month #8, with my favorite project (so far): the Square Potholders.

Looking for evidence that it’s my favorite? Man, those are two prized pieces from my fabric collection, and I used them for potholders! Hey, I figure that this way I’ll get to enjoy them plenty, since there’s usually a whole lotta baking goin’ on.

Check out the way they dress up these humble fish sticks:


I know!

You can also see that I couldn’t just leave well enough alone with the patchwork design. The size of this project provided too good of an opportunity to try out a block idea that’s been rattling around in my head, so I went with that instead. As for the quilting itself, let’s just say that I have some sort of mental block or deficiency or something when it comes to measuring out grids. The enormous crossed zig-zag is the method used in the Denyse Schmidt book, and I have latched onto it. It has a certain “I meant to do that” quality that works well with my particular challenges.

One more thing: I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I use straight-grain binding whenever possible. It uses less fabric, which suits the miser in me, and it’s faster (which suits the…slacker in me? Sure, whatever!)

H: The Heat…and the Humidity

I distinctly remember having a reasonably clever idea for today’s special. It occurred to me as I reached the top of the stairs this afternoon…and it had something to do with hot-hot-hot (three different “hot” things, I think)…and it’s gone.

I bet it was really great and was going to even make you break out in applause or something. But no; it’s definitely gone.

The culprit? The heat, of course! OK, I do know that this was supposed to be the first “hot”, obviously. Yes, it was only in the nineties today, but the heat index was 108. There were even heat advisories in effect. We’re talking serious meteorological events here, folks (or so you would think, if you watched even thirty minutes of the morning news.) And we were outside, totally exposed to the elements—the brain-melting, idea-robbing elements.

Was it worth it? Well, if you’d spent the morning watching your kid climbing the waterslides and splashing around going “Fun! Fun!”, you wouldn’t even have to ask.

Still, I think you’d have dug the whole hot-hot-hot thing.

Brought to you by the letter G

Ginger: Cookies, tea, crystallized, Altoids – all good!

Grammar: You may have already noticed that I tend to play fast an loose when it comes to following the rules of the English language. I just wanted you to know that I know; someday I plan to work on that. (Can we say “refer to a style guide”?)

Green: One of my favorite colors, especially the limier ones. Compared to how packed full the green fabric compartment was last year, though, I’m very pleased to see the stacks dwindling, though. Progress!

F: Forgetfulness


When it comes to buying cards or tags to go with gifts, I have to wonder whether the culprit is more closely tied to forgetfulness or frugality. It’s probably pretty much a toss-up. The bottom line is that I haven’t managed to remember to pick up this all-too-necessary final touch more than, say, four times in the past year. Yeah, that sounds about right. Fortunately, there are creative solutions. Not like I’m showing you anything ground-breaking here, but at least it will remind you what a faithful friend you have in a roll of Heat n Bond Ultra and some cardstock. Just this past Saturday, I was wrapping a gift as we were getting ready to go to a wedding reception, and—what do you know!—realized that I’d again forgotten to pick up a card. [This is where the frugality aspect comes in: Often, there’s a little voice in my head telling me “YOU can’t make a simple card for less than three dollars? With all of those scraps?!” Why this voice neglects to pipe up and remind me to actually make the card ahead of time, well, I wish I knew.] I was only feeling up to a tiny creative challenge, though, so it was an extra special bonus when I came across the package of tags amongst my supplies. From there, I fused the Heat n Bond to the tag, peeled off the backing, and pressed it onto the wrapping paper. Snip snip snip, and voila! One lovely coordinated hang tag (plus two extra, because this is bound to happen again).

Did I mention that I have a circle cutter, too? And that it cuts through fabric after it’s been fused to paper? Oh yes: new stationery is on the list as Project #14.

E: Earthquake Preparedness and Other Essentials

Earthquake Preparedness 

[A conversation that took place several years ago between me and a friend that I grew up with in the Bay Area. I had gone to visit her in Colorado from Texas; we’d both left California several years prior, and I have no idea what led up to this exchange.]

K: Well, I can’t put [a shelf] over the bed.

M: Hey, I never hang anything over the bed either! What’s that about?

K: Earthquakes!

She was right, of course. Never sleep under anything which could come crashing down during a midnight quake and crack you in the head. This rule was firmly ingrained in my brain, even though I’d long since forgotten its roots. Also, keep flashlights and cans of tuna in stock at all times. Why tuna, in particular? Couldn’t tell you, but that stands out in my sister’s mind, too, as an earthquake kit essential. For that matter, it’s pretty much the first thing we think of when it comes to disaster preparedness: canned tuna. Yes, we live in hurricane country now, but the kits are pretty much the same. It’s kind of like the way they transitioned the duck and cover drill. “No longer convinced it will do you any good in the event of a nuclear attack? Well, how about during an earthquake? Do try to tuck a good portion of your spine under that desk, please.”


Being as this is still, primarily, a craft journal, here are some of the things I consider essential for a happy sewing session:

Rotary cutter and mat, large and small clear rulers, a mess o’ pins, lots of pretty fabric, fully loaded iPod, a delicious drink, and—of course—my somewhat trusty sewing machine. [Not pictured: steaming hot iron]

A tidy workspace would be ideal, for sure, but certainly not essential.