Monday, January 24, 2011

week three: 'ulu quilt

they say you have a year to give a newly married couple a gift. i've taken that advice a bit liberally and this gift is maybe a year and a half after the actual wedding. but hey, it's handmade! and what a great opportunity to continue celebrating your marriage.

so i read somewhere that the 'ulu (breadfruit) tree symbolizes marital bliss. i have never been able to find that reference again, so the specifics of why that is are lost to me, but i have a lot of respect for the 'ulu; its abundance and versatility made it a great companion for polynesian voyagers to bring on the long canoe journeys across the pacific. if you've never had the opportunity to eat 'ulu it can range from potato-like (and makes great chips, mashed, steamed, baked), to sweet-fruity dessert-like, depending on the variety and ripeness.
anyway, the seed was planted (so to speak) in my mind >2 years ago to make an ulu quilt for my friends jake and nicole's wedding. what better wish could you give someone for their wedding than marital bliss?

i chose the fabrics at fabric mart, a store in our neighborhood with a dizzying array of aloha prints. this is also the store i got my lovely curtain fabric and the camouflage water-repellent fabric i used to sew a cozy for our little bbq grill (these projects apparently happened when i was in blogging hiatus-mode). they've got pretty great prices, and i have to say i respect them for having a website called fmart
i misjudged the amount of fabric i'd need for the wall hanging quilt i was making. well, no. what actually happened is that i was bullied by the filipino aunty in the store into buying less than i knew i needed for the project because it was the end of the roll and she was giving me a deal on it. and i guess because i'm chinese i totally played into that. my thought process went something like "well, it's about 3 inches less than i really want for this quilt, but it's a deal..." so i made do.

the process of cutting out a pattern for hawaiian quilting is really fun - like cutting a fabric snowflake. i decided to do the breadfruits in a lighter green to accent, and made up a hexagonal quilting pattern that i think makes them look real. other than that the process is pretty tedious, pinning and then hand-appliqueing and hand quilting inside and out of your design. this is the second hawaiian quilt square i've done, the first was a lehua blossom for my mom. 

while i'm counting this as one of my 52 projects in 52 weeks, it obviously did not take me a week to make.  it took me quite a while to complete, and i'll dispense with excuses about that and suffice to say i'm excited to send it to them. so if you're a friend who has gotten hitched in the past, um, several years and you haven't gotten a gift from me yet - don't lose hope. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

week two: egg carton sprouts

i know it hasn't been a week yet, but i'm making up for getting a late start, so here's week two of the 52 weeks project.
we had a backup of recycling during our holiday travel time, so i guess i had inspiration to reuse materials that were stacked up in the recycle bin. i was looking at our egg cartons, thinking about possible uses other than returning them to local egg farms, which is also awesome.
the other day at kokua market i impulse-bought some dried green peas, because i was thinking about how much i love fresh pea shoots - remember that post? they go great on salad, in spring rolls, just grazing...
so i got the idea of using the egg carton as a tray for sprouting peas. i figure it's biodegradable paper, and it should hold up for the week or two it'll take for the sprouts to grow. i used some potting soil i had leftover from various other planting projects and was pleased to note that the little closure flap on the egg carton fit like a puzzle piece into the little open area on the top of the carton, so i could use both sides for planting.
after planting the tray of pea sprouts i decided to use the egg end for starting some sunflowers i've been meaning to plant near our laundry line along the backyard fence (sorry temperate-climate friends, it's totally still planting season here). but for those of you who have frost outside right now you can do this project in the window sill.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

one year, 52 projects

i am inspired by marty's new year project - posting one minute of video every week for 52 weeks - so i think i'm gonna start a project of my own, or rather 52 projects of my own, in the spirit of cultivating domesticity. plus it's a great way to get back on the blogging bandwagon after falling off during my stint of working on an organic farm on the other side of the island.

ever since we got home from our whirlwind tour of the continent over the holidays, i've been obsessing over little diy home improvement-type projects, trying to utilize stuff we have around the cottage for new purposes. to start the year off right, since we are already in the second week of january, i'll be posting two this week.

week one: herb-infused olive oils

we had a big bottle of olive oil from costco kicking around in our tiny kitchen, and infusing olive oil was a project i sort of intended to do before the holidays to give as gifts, but you know - better now than never.
our backyard garden was quite bountiful after all the winter rains, so we harvested some rosemary, basil (which was going to seed and needed to be trimmed back anyway), and chili peppers. well, no that's a lie - the chili peppers came from maile's farm because those red-butt birds ate all our chili peppers while we were away.
anyway, we also had a *few* empty sake bottles laying around because it would be a pity to recycle bottles that pretty. which we boiled to sanitize, and then stuffed full of rosemary, garlic, basil, and chili peppers.

and now they are sitting for a bit to get nice and yummy. i don't know much about how long they need to infuse for, but i figure we can start taste-testing in a week or so. 

i think these infusions may make a cameo in our misto - one of my favorite new kitchen utensils. it's great for lightly greasing the grill, breads, pans, etc. and i can't wait to make grilled pizza with our herb-infused oil. i also scored a big bag of plastic pouring spouts from ross recently, so i'm in the process of re-purposing every alcohol bottle into something new and pourable.