Cultivating Domesticity

coming to terms with my domestic tendencies…

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turtle power!

people are having babies right now.
it must be that time of year or something. i had two good friends pop them out right in the same time period, so i had to get on my craft game.

luckily, my pinterest obsession provides me with plenty of project inspiration. i found this “peekaboo plush turtle” pattern on etsy from wewilsons and fell in love.

i made three turtles, the first in a more sophisticated denim, and the other two turtle bodies i made out of t-shirt jersey, so they are nice and plump and squishy.
the patterns use so little fabric that i was able to use some of my favorite scraps from previous projects for the shells.

the pattern calls for stuffing the top and bottom shells with batting (like a quilt), but i found that the top shell wasn’t firm enough to hold its shape that way. serendipitously, i was cleaning out my closet mid-sewing project and found some foam cups that i took out of a bathing suit top when i bought it once upon a time (good thing i save everything). and they happened to be the perfect size and shape to reinforce a turtle shell. so i popped those in there and the shells came out crisp.

i was tempted to add googly eyes to the turtles (everything is better with googly eyes), but since they are for babies i had to settle with embroidered eyeballs, which actually turned out quite nice as well. a few embroidery stitches across followed by a few french knots.

 i love that these turtles come out of their shells.
much love to some wonderful parents – i am so grateful you are nurturing new life in this world.
congratulations maile + kaliko – your little hapuna is beautiful!

congratulations hannah + win – i can’t wait to meet oona!


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congratulations sierra + tom

my friends sierra and tom got hitched last month.
for their wedding present i made them some cloth napkins and beer steins based on the theme of their wedding invitation.
the cloth napkins started out as a quilt project, but it quickly became clear that i wasn’t going to get a quilt done in time for the wedding (sorry sierra & tom!) so it morphed into napkins and beer steins. more practical, anyway. the napkins i did in shades of yellow, brown and white using this method of sewing curved lines in a quilt.
i used a pretty stitch to finish the edges, and each napkin has a hand embroidered S ❤ T in the corner.
the beer steins were pretty fun to make as well. i had made etched wine glasses for my dad’s wedding when i was in high school, so i tried that technique again.
using some of the left over black vinyl from the wall decal project, i cut out the image from their wedding invitation, centered it on the stein, and painted etching cream on the glass. it’s a quick and easy process, one that i’m definitely going to do again – they came out so lovely!
congratulations, sierra and tom – sending you blessings for a lifetime of joy, good times, beer and happy messes.

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quick and easy frozen yogurt

if you can open a container of yogurt you can make this recipe.
also if you have an ice cream maker, or can borrow one.

i recently acquired an ice cream maker at a thrift store – great $8 investment – and once i started reading homemade ice cream recipes i realized i couldn’t be eating that on a daily or even weekly basis without expecting to double my weight, so i went in search of some frozen yogurt recipes. this is my favorite, because it’s the easiest.

now, you know i like making things myself, including homemade yogurt, but sometimes you just need a dessert fix and you don’t want a long process. this is your go-to recipe for that. all you do is open a container of greek-style yogurt (the FAGE brand they sell at costco works well for this, and is inexpensive), add sugar and whatever other flavors or chunks you want, and turn on the machine.

thanks to 101 cookbooks for the recipe:
3 cups greek style yogurt (or strained yogurt – see below)
2/3 cup sugar (i like my yogurt tangy so i put in a little less)
1 teaspoon vanilla (optional)

i made the plain version of  this yogurt and loved it. i also made a lilikoi (passion fruit) version, which was quite tasty and tangy. the only thing to keep in mind here is that you want to make only the amount you’re going to eat at one sitting because it doesn’t store well in the freezer – mine got rock solid.

now, if you don’t have greek-style yogurt or want to make your own (greek style to me means it’s just thicker than regular yogurt), you can strain regular yogurt. seeing how it halves in size makes me think this isn’t a money saving option, but here’s how:

for one cup strained yogurt, nest a mesh strainer over a bowl, line it with a few layers of cheesecloth, pour 2 cups plain whole milk yogurt into the cheesecloth. fold the cheesecloth over your yogurt and let sit in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours.

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make your own microwave popcorn

did you know that you can make your own microwave popcorn by just putting popcorn kernels in a paper bag?! thanks to pinterest for pointing this out.
making your own popcorn not only saves you $$, but you can control what goes into it – those flavorings and the film left on the microwave popcorn bags you buy in the store always gave me the creeps, and a little googling on the toxicity of microwave popcorn turned up issues with the chemical diacetyl, which gives that “buttery taste and smell” in commercial microwave popcorn. it turns out that some factory workers in popcorn bagging plants suffer from “popcorn lung” – you’ve heard of “black lung” disease, yep this is the popcorn version, technically known as bronchiolitis obliterans, a severe scarring of the lung tissue resulting from inhalation of diacetyl. There’s some concern for consumer safety as well, from heating and then inhaling the fumes associated with microwave popcorn, and it looks like several companies have stopped using it, though not all. which is all to say – i’m so glad i found out that you can just make your own. and stop relying on companies to make your food for you.

it’s this easy:
take 1/3 cup of popcorn kernels.
put them in a lunch sack sized paper bag.
fold the top of the bag over twice (no staples or glue or anything needed – plus you don’t want those things in the microwave anyway)
cook them on high for about 3 mins or until there are 2-3 seconds between pops (depending on the strength of your microwave).
that’s it.
here are some of my favorite popcorn topping recipes.
plus lately i’ve been experimenting with a balsamic vinegar, rosemary, maple reduction stirred into melted butter – fabulous!


diy vinyl decals

i got it in my head the other day that i wanted whales in my shower.
by that i mean i wanted to put whales on the wall of my bathroom. i rent, so painting them on isn’t really an option – not to mention I can’t really wield a paintbrush. i’ve been seeing these wall decals lately in decor and design blogs and i love the idea of being able to temporarily decorate my walls – they stick really well and look like they are painted on, but peel right off when you want a change.

so when i got my whale urge i stopped over at etsy to look for whale wall decals, but they were too pricey for me so i decided to make my own. i read somewhere that you can make your own vinyl stickers using regular vinyl you can buy at the grocery or hardware store (think shelf liner section). and it worked! i bought a roll of black vinyl for about $3 and made a bunch of stickers and still have a ton leftover. stoked on saving money.

here’s how i did it.
first i google image searched pictures of humpback whales. did i mention i don’t draw? i saved the ones i liked in a folder on my computer. images that translate well to stickers are obviously fairly simple shapes that don’t require shading to tell what they are. i recommend clicking the “black and white” filter on the left sidebar of google image search to narrow down your results.

 once i had the images i liked i borrowed the projector from work, taped the vinyl onto the wall and projected the image onto it. you can adjust the size of the image on screen or by moving the projector up/back and then trace it with pencil. you can get creative with placement of the images close together on the vinyl canvas so you’re utilizing the vinyl to the max and reducing waste.

after that i grabbed my trusty exacto knife and cut the shapes out. one thing to keep in mind is that the finer and skinnier your pieces the harder they are to apply to the wall without getting tangled. i had some complex shapes with one of the whales and it worked out, but good to keep in mind.

and that’s it! make sure your wall surface is clean and dry, peel off the backing and stick! here’s how they turned out:

i’m quite pleased. the whales make me happy every time i shower.
my little sister, aliana, came for a sister sleepover party for spring break, and we made some more stickers together.

i went a little nuts with my stickers. i wanted cattails in my kitchen, and i found an image i really liked, but it took a looong time to trace and cut out. i had intended to make the cattails span my entire counter, but after doing this one i gave up.

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urban bee corridors

i’m super stoked on bees.
recently  i went to a workshop called “how to grow a pollinator garden” put on by master beekeeper jennifer bach. i learned all kinds of fascinating things about bees. there are 20-50 thousand bees in a hive, almost all of them female (3-10% are male “drones”). did you know that the male bees are born from unfertilized eggs? does that seem possible? they are literally genetic clones of the queen. they hang out in “drone congregations” high up in the atmosphere.  when a queen is ready to mate (only once in her life) she flies way up there and zooms past the drones, and whomever’s fast enough to catch up with her she mates with (12-30 of them) and then she keeps the sperm in her body for the rest of her life, using it as needed to fertilize eggs for the next 5 years. she only mates with drones from other colonies, so essentially it’s the genetic coupling of two different queens’ dna that produces the next generation. fascinating.


i also learned that bees in urban areas can often be healthier than bees in agricultural areas because they aren’t as likely to be exposed to pesticides and vast areas of monoculture crops – which are bad for their health. that’s pretty sad, but it renewed my sense of the importance of growing backyard and patio gardens, to provide a sort of urban bee corridor.
they recommended letting 10% of your plants like basil and lettuce go to seed so the bees can enjoy it too, plus then you can collect seeds for replanting. another good tip was to try to plant a diversity of flowering plants that bloom at different times, so the bees have a consistent source of nectar throughout the year. they also appreciate having a source of water nearby when they are feeding, so if you set up a water dish or feature try putting small stones in it so the bees can access the water without getting wet. i’m definitely inspired to plant more flowering things and hope to lend a hand to our pollinator friends.
i also learned that bees leave pheromones on a flower when they sucked out the nectar, and those pheromones evaporate at the same rate that the plant takes to replenish the nectar – so it’s a kind of marking signal that says to other bees “don’t bother with this one.” awesome.
one more interesting tidbit- when the queen hatches a new queen, the old queen takes half the hive and leaves the house to her new protege – this is when hives “swarm” – the hive lands somewhere, usually a tree – and waits while the scouts go out and find possible new hive locations. when the scouts come back to the hive they report what they’ve each found, and each bee in the hive communicates with the bees immediately around her, and they come to agreement about which is the best new location by essentially “voting.” i’d like to learn more about this process. some people are referring to bee hives as a “super organism” – meaning the hive has an intelligence and ability that is beyond the sum of its parts.
at the workshop they had honey tastings provided by local beekeepers – and the jars were labeled by which month/season they were harvested – i was amazed at how completely different honey from spring, summer, fall, and winter seasons taste – even here in hawaii where seasonal changes are relatively subtle.

i was catching up on overdue presents and other personal projects that had been on hold for the past month while i focused on our eat local campaign. The bees inspired me, and i went home buzzing with enthusiasm that came out in the form of these potholders for my friend -and fellow birthday buddy – cathy.
it’s been a while since i’ve done paper piecing – since the dragonfly quilt- but it came back to me and gave me an excuse to dig into my box of scrap fabrics, which was one of the few things i shipped from oakland to hawai’i when i moved. i whipped these out late one night and am quite pleased with how they turned out. cathy’s an amazing cook (among many other things), and i hope these bees will bring her inspiration as well.

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crayon roll-up

i’m pretty pleased with this super quick and easy baby present pattern i found at skip to my lou. i had a friend’s first baby luau to go to last weekend, and since i’d been so busy with work i hadn’t gotten around to a present until the day of, which also happened to be my first day of moving into our new place, so time was short.

thankfully googling “easy baby present sewing” turned up this gem – a crayon kit to go that’s vinyl on the inside so it doesn’t get all market up, and is small enough to wrap up and stick in your purse for instant entertainment on the road.
i didn’t have rickrack, which i think would have made it better, but i’m pretty pleased with how it came out, using some scrap camo print vinyl leftover from our grill cozy.

i also ended the project at exactly the right time – check out my spool of yellow thread at the very end of the project. a good sign!

hau’oli la hanau e kahiwa!