Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Newport cooks

No, I didn't forget that I'd promised you one more round of photos from our trip to Jess & Alex's in Newport. I only said that I'd hopefully get around to showing you before we went there again. Well, we haven't gone there again yet, so I didn't lie, either. Ha!

We ate a LOT of good food while we were there. Yes, we tried out some restaurants, the best of which was the Red Feather, where we got to sit at a bar right next to where they were cooking all the food. Wow, were those guys (yes, all males) good... organized, efficient, and fascinating to watch! The food was scrumptious, too.

We also had a lot of good food cooked right in J&A's kitchen (where we also got to sit and watch them cook). Here's Alex preparing his special banana french toast, as requested by Jess for her birthday.

It was soooo yummy!

One night he also made us a deep dish pizza from scratch. He was a good sport and tossed the crust in the air when we asked him to, just like a real pizza chef. He did very well for a first time! Unfortunately, I don't have a photo for you. I do have a video, but it's on the iPad, and it's complicated getting it onto my computer, so I'm not going to bother. It was fun, though. The pizza turned out yummy also.

Grandpa has gotten on a bread-baking kick recently, since he has more time on his hands these days. He gave several demos while we were there, and here he is with one of his finished loaves. It was very good.

I don't remember what Alex was making in this next photo, possible the topping for the fabulous filets he grilled for us on my birthday on their green egg grill. Jess was making us cocktails from a recipe sent by Aunt Audrey. Can you guess what was in them? I bet not.

It was rhubarb juice... made from fresh rhubarb! Don't they look pretty (especially on that brand new countertop)?

The taste? Not bad. Very drinkable. But probably not worth the bother, since there are lots of other drinks that are better and easier to make. But, it was worth trying, and now we can say we've had rhubarb cocktails! :)

Okay, I'm done. That's all the Newport trip photos I have to show you. At least I finished what I started, even if it did take me over a month. ;)

Friday, May 20, 2016

Glenda Convertible Clutch #2

I finished this sewing project a few days ago, but I couldn't show it to you until now because it was a (belated) birthday gift for my "boss" (a.k.a. Jess - you know, of How About Orange fame? the fabric designer? not to mention, also my daughter), and she had to see it first so this post wouldn't spoil the surprise. 

Now it would hardly be much of a gift if it were made from her own fabric, right? So I chose to use something different (very different!) this time. Well, for most of it, anyway.

Here is the Glenda Convertible Clutch, from Swoon Patterns. I've made one before, and if you want more details about it, you can read the post about that one here. This one has some firsts for me. This was the first time I've put a turn lock into a bag. It was pretty easy to do, a lot like putting in a magnetic snap. It was a little scary cutting a big hole right in the flap of the bag, but I was very careful, and it worked out well. I think it adds a lot to the plainness of the fabric, don't you?

It was REALLY hard getting good photos! There was so much contrast with the dark fabric, and the fabric itself was... well... you'll see.

The strap is adjustable for shoulder or cross-body, and it's also detachable if you want to use the bag just as a clutch. (Look closely at that fabric!)

The lining of the bag IS one of Jess's fabrics... barkcloth from her In Theory line. The center of the bag is a zipper pouch that divides the bag and draws the sides into a nice little pleat.

Now, here's the most exciting part of the whole project! The outer fabric is actually cork! Yes, real cork! It came directly from Portugal. I ordered it from an Etsy shop called Orkideas. The seller was great - she shipped it immediately, and it only took 10 days to get here. I love that she also included tiny samples of her other colors of cork!

Yes, it's expensive. Very expensive, as far as fabric goes. But I've seen so many gorgeous bags and great reviews about it in the few months since I first heard about it, that I just had to give it a try. (And this was, after all, a very special birthday.) The fabrics are soooo pretty - photos don't begin to do them justice. Will I be buying more cork? I think so. Definitely not a lot, but I might just have to have a bag out of it for myself. Now, which color??? :)

The cork is a thin layer, and it's backed with fabric, a lot like pleather. It also handles much like pleather. Consequently, I once again appreciated my Wonder Clips!

My old sewing machine's bottom stitches don't look quite as nice as the top ones, so to make the strap (above) I had to very carefully clamp the strap so that the edges butted tightly together in the middle, and then sew it from the top side, hoping things stayed together like they were supposed to. It worked! Whew! I think I held my breath all the way along every row of stitching! (Not really - it's a long strap, and I went pretty slowly. I needed to breathe.)

Doing it that way, so there were only 2 layers to the strap, I was able to get it through the slider to make the strap adjustable. Those two little tabs next to the strap below were what gave me the most trouble of the whole bag. They were sewn into the top seam to hold the D-rings for the strap attachment, and they made for some VERY thick layers to sew through. But my good ol' faithful 46-year-old Kenmore came through for me again (even if I did bend one needle and have to hand-crank very slowly through those thick spots). I don't even know how many layers that was... something like 10 or so... and then folded over again for the final topstitching. Yikes!

The cork is navy, but so dark it mostly looks black. Below is a photo I took out in the sun, just to see what the color did there. It's probably the most accurate of all the pics - at least it looks blue.

This was a great project, albeit with some challenges. Would I do it again? Yep! And I just might, because I really like the bag and might eventually make one for myself.

Jess received the bag yesterday. She knew it was coming, but she thought it was going to be made out of pleather. She was surprised and excited about the cork fabric, and I do believe she loved the bag. ;) She took some more photos for me, to try and capture the fabric color and texture, also for a little size reference. Here are her pics.

I hope by now you get a little idea of what cork fabric is like, even though the photos still don't do it justice. Below is a photo taken by photographer Alex, for a little more size idea for you.

I'd say that's a pretty pleased look on her face, wouldn't you? That makes me pleased, too. :)

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Orioles and more orioles!

Forgive me for overloading you with oriole photos. If you don't like looking at them, just skip this post and go do something else, because I've had more orioles this year than I've ever seen before, and since they're my favorite bird, I just can't stop taking photos of them! If you like them, too, just enjoy.....

These, of course, are baltimore orioles.

They didn't seem to mind the rain much.

There have also been a few orchard orioles. They're not as brightly colored. They have basically the same markings but are more the color of a robin's breast.

Both kinds of orioles like the same grape jelly, though, and sometimes there are squabbles over it! (And sometimes it gets spattered on the window, as that drop shows.)

In fact, there have been a lot of squabbles over that one feeder, so a couple days ago I added a makeshift feeder with orange halves on it.

They loved that, too, and often there were waiting lines, even in the rain.

More waiting... and more squabbling...

... so today I ordered another jelly feeder. I don't know if it'll get here in time before a lot of these birds move on, but if not, I'll have it for next year. I really like this feeder because it's easy to fill and easy to clean. I found out, though, that they've been discontinued, but a seller on Amazon still has some if you're interested.

I guess I should buy some more oranges, too. They really love those!

This next shot was just lucky. I was in the window aiming for a rainbow, and he didn't notice me and landed very close.

Once in a while I'd get a goofy shot, too, like this...

... or this...

I love that last one. :)

I have a sewing project almost completed, but it must be received before I can show it to you. Maybe by the end of the week. I like it a lot and might need to make another for myself. ;)

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Newport sights

Must be time for another blog post, huh? I don't know about you, but I'm tired of looking at that ugly fish. ;) I have a couple of sewing projects in the works, so I've been busy. I haven't forgotten, though, that I promised you more photos from our Newport trip, so you'll get some here.

Newport has so many beautiful old buildings (and lots of trees). A walk one afternoon resulted in these photos.

Our walk took us across the Purple People Bridge (no motorized vehicles allowed) and gave us a view of the Daniel Carter Beard Bridge (a.k.a. Big Mac Bridge - can you imagine why?), both of which cross the Ohio River between Cincinnati and Newport.

Here's a lovely view of a hillside seen from the bridge:

This also makes for an interesting view, but I forget what it is... and am too lazy to look it up. :)

Sometimes there are interesting sights ON the bridge. We saw a lot of red that day, because it happened to be the opening day for the Cincinnati Reds.

Then there are sights like this...

... or this (hmm... that guy got around!):

Okay, that's it for now. One more round of pics from the Newport visit will be coming. Hopefully I'll get them posted before we go there again. Ha.