Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I Left My Heart... SAN FRANCISCO...That's where I saw this cool graffiti last year and we're heading back next week: Justin to speak about cookbooks at the BlogHer food conference, me for some much-needed vacationing, so if anyone has any cool, fun, crafty, foodie SF tips I'd love to hear some recommendations!
I've finally completed a (small) sewing project: a little drawstring bag with pink lining and silk ribbon, just in time for the end of National Sewing Month.  It isn't as awesome as the Wonder Woman costume my Mom made, but it's a start and the pattern is perfect for my next bout of car crafting and to take some supplies along for my trip west.  What to do with all that plane time?
There was a bump in the road when my worst fears were realized and my beautiful machine jammed: the very thing that had made me hesitant all this time!  Fortunately, Justin stepped in and I didn't need to carry it into the city for a check-up and she seems to be running well again, phew...
I also had time to package up all the bath fizzies: it's good to not be working until midnight these days!
I can't wait to give them to all the hard-working ladies who helped me so much during Fashion Week, thank you, all, I couldn't have done it without you!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Tale of 3 Fizzies

Fizzy #1 (back left): from Martha Stewart's Encyclopedia of Crafts
Fizzy #2 (front): from Martha Stewart Living, December 2008
Fizzy #3 (back right): from The Martha Stewart Show, February 2007
"Are you making cookies?" the boyfriend asked one evening.  A fair question: he was starting to make chocolate peanut butter brownies from the new book Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef.  "No..." I admitted.  Next question: "are you making soap?"  How well he knows me.  
I had made soap on Valentine's Day with glycerin from Majestic Mountain Sage and this time I was using another one of their products: citric acid.  So began Bath Fizzy #1:
Sift 1 3/4 cups baking soda, 1 cup citric acid and 2 cups cornstarch, mix with essential oil, spritz with colored water until crumbly and pack into flexible ice cube trays.  It was a little tough to get the consistency just right, so by the next morning I had these:
Cute, pretty pink, smelled like lovely lavender, but some trouble un-molding them so they weren't the perfect squares I was hoping for.  They still fizzed in water though!
So, into a package they went and off to a friend's house on a lovely Sunday to see her and her husband, French bulldog and new baby.  
Later in the week it was on to espresso brownies and Fizzy #2 with slightly different quantities (1 cup baking soda, 1/2 cup citric acid, 3/4 cup cornstarch) and the addition of a 1/4 cup sugar.
Having done the 1st batch I knew a little more about what to expect, and this recipe seemed to make more sense: the sugar gave the rest of the ingredients something to grip on to and it packed nicely.
I let them dry longer this time and there were still some variations in the un-molding process, but:
there were a few nice, smooth squares!  They were lucky to be in the middle of the tray so the pressure from the surrounding squares kept them together.  Thinking of that, it was time for Fizzy #3 (and bourbon pecan brownies).  You can see Martha's video here: she grinds 1 cup of baking soda together with the essential oil, which really blends the scent into the mixture.  Then 1/2 cup citric acid, 1/4 cup epsom salt (I used sugar again instead) and NO CORNSTARCH and pack into a ball mold.
This mixture needed less water to hold together and it dried hard.  I only had this packaging from a stress ball toy, so it wasn't a real mold that held itself together. 
The two halves stayed together well when I held them with my hands, but eventually I tried using a book:
then just the bag of sugar:
but ultimately some of it squeezed out the sides and expanded, so I let it dry open and then it cracked and rounded a bit.
This was the firmest of all the fizzies, so next time I'll try a mold that stays closed so there will be just one piece, not like this:
In the end, the winner for me is Fizzy #2!
And what to do with the extra?  Bath sugar!
Oh and about all those brownies, didn't miss the gluten at all, they were delicious...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


I went to a very pretty event last night: Swarovski held a charity auction at Phillips de Pury of 22 specially commissioned little black designer dresses with 100% of the proceeds benefiting two cancer societies (in America and in France).  The view from the event space looked out over the High Line park and the Hudson River.
My favorites were the starburst embroidered mini-dress (Azzaro), asymmetrically draped strapless with beaded flower (Giorgio Armani Prive) and pleated silk chiffon strewn with hundreds of Swarovski crystals (Alberta Ferretti).  So, today I walked by the Swarovski Crystallized boutique on Broadway in Soho where you can design your own jewelry using their crystals in every color of the rainbow (I like those pink cell phone cases):
And I liked their window display uptown on 5th Ave earlier this year for the 2nd Sex and the City movie:
When I was little my grandmother gave me Swarovski figurines for special occasions (birthdays, graduations, piano recitals) and I wish I could go to my parents' attic and find them right now.  I definitely had this swan:

[from Swarovski]
and a little duck that I loved.  The dear model that I had long ago has since been discontinued, but here's one of their newer designs:

[from Swarovski]
Funny how your childhood treasures can bring back such feelings.  This was really key in the movie Never Let Me Go that I mentioned last month, finally saw it last night.  And a new mom friend of mine was so excited when her husband bought her this re-released Fisher-Price toy television just like she had when she was little. 
[from Amazon]
Did you ever have one?  Or maybe one of these?  I think I had both!
[from Amazon]
And one last glitzy note: last week we celebrated the soon-to-be-opening pizza restaurant from Donatella Arpaia and saw her golden oven!
Built by hand in Chelsea from the ground up with materials and builders all the way from Naples (where Ms. Arpaia also received pizza training), it turned out puffy-crusted pies that were beautiful and delicious.  Now that's crafty!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

In Between Weekends

I wish I could tell you more about this beautiful Korean sewing book from Nobel Bookstore in the H-Mart shopping complex in Ridgefield, New Jersey.
I've tried Google Translate, used the Google tool bar on this Korean Sewing Factory website and am working through Rosetta Stone, but I have a long way to go.  Maybe now that my work for Fashion Week is winding down and it's almost Friday again I'll have more time. 
Last Saturday we had lunch on St. Mark's Place
and spied a very cool Singer sewing machine at a sidewalk sale, kinda like the ones lining the walls at the AllSaints boutique in Soho.
A colorful collection of glass bottles and jars made me think of this great article from Martha Stewart Living and some of the photo shoots I've visited where they've had lots of different props.
On University Place we passed Gigi K, a shop full of interesting stockings....made me want to pick up a crochet hook again since I haven't used one since I made a few little animals.
At H-Mart on Sunday we had bibimbap, one of my favorites
and bought more ingredients to bring home
to do some more cooking too
and ended the weekend with a nice, quiet meal at home.
I've always admired the fascinating Japanese craft books at Kinokuniya by Bryant Park, so it's great to have a Korean bookstore nearby too.
Maybe I'll be able to interpret enough to make a fun project someday.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Happy National Sewing Month and...a Winner!

I just found out that September is National Sewing Month and this is 2 bunches of fat quarters from Purl Soho, a birthday gift from my boyfriend "for encouragement and inspiration" as he says, very sweet, as he's also contributed to my crafty endeavors before.  There is a fantastic selection of projects you can make from fat quarters on Sew, Mama, Sew! and I'm definitely picking one soon.
Walking down by South Street Seaport this weekend we passed a fence adorned with sewing spools that stretched for blocks and blocks...until we came to a description:
noting that it's a temporary installation by Katherine Daniels: check out her site, amazing work with fabric, beads, wire and more.  I'm so glad I passed by this!  We also saw some cool graffiti in the East Village.
And I started a new project on the way up to Northampton, Massachusetts for a little trip.
We saw a Crafts Avenue:
and while there weren't craft shops on that block, there were 2 yarn boutiques in town:
and we had such a nice time browsing through the fantastic gifts, cards, books, Japanese and Korean design products and great craft section at Essentials where we had the pleasure of meeting owner Sydne and manager Colette: so lovely to chat with both of you! 
For dinner we had a sushi Love Boat for 2...
which brings me to the winner of the Knit Sushi Giveaway:
Thank you to everyone who entered...the futomaki prize goes to entry #4: Small Burst
So, I will be sending this along to Small Burst just in time before NYC Fashion Week, which will mean lots of work for me, culminating in the 2nd year of Fashion's Night Out on Friday, September 10th:
And next week on Tuesday, September 14th, CBS will air a special behind-the-scenes look at the planning and the parties, hosted by Neil Patrick Harris (who I'm watching sing about suits right now on How I Met Your Mother).
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