Monday, February 14, 2011

week six: valentines fortune cookies

marty and i are apart this valentines day, and i wanted to send him with something to open and celebrate our love while he's away. this was a great suggestion by my coworker friend julie: fortune cookies with favorite memories from the past year. she recommended getting nice valentines card stock and a chinese food container from ben franklin (they'll even cut the paper in circles for you there!) but i ended up doing this project late at night while marty was dj-ing, so i had to use magazine pictures (recycled!).
i sort of wanted to make real fortune cookies to house our memories, but it looks like those are really hard to make, and i wrote out 26 fortunes, so i figured that was kind of an exorbitant amount of cookies to eat by yourself, and awkward to share them with someone if they have personal anecdotes hidden inside.
so i went for the paper ones. check out this great tutorial on how to do it.  it took me a bit to get the right size for the magazine pages to be transformed into cookie shapes rather than just crumpling or folding in half.
 i took a page from the book (so to speak) of real fortune cookie-making when my rolled up tape trick wasn't really doing it, and i glued the inner crease and then put the "cookies" in an egg carton to set. egg cartons are so handy! the real fortune cookie recipes i read said that if you were actually able to deftly fold the fortune cookies while still hot enough to not crack and crumble (and perhaps not burn your fingers) you should let them cool in a muffin tin so they keep their shape.
that seemed to work well, and i did make it to ben franklin's the next morning before his flight to pick up a chinese food box (though all they had were shades of pastel). it turns out 26 fortune cookies is too many to fit in a box, even if they are paper and small. so the box was a little overflowing and i hope it made it safely to oakland.
 happy valentines day.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

week five: compost death star!

i have been doing a lot of thinking about compost. it's not that i don't love my worms - i really love my vermicomposting worms. they just can't keep up with all the kitchen scrap waste we produce in our house. they are voracious little eaters, but we've come to find out that if we feed them too much at once it attracts black soldier flies to the worm bin. and while everyone says black soldier flies and worms get along fine and can be friends in that bin, that is not our experience. our experience with black soldier flies led to the untimely demise of our first beloved batch of worms (rest in peace), which you haven't heard about on this blog because it was too traumatic for me to discuss. and i still don't really want to talk about it, so suffice to say we replenished our worm colony and we stopped feeding them so much.
so we have been having a backlog of compost build up in our freezer (we keep a ziplock baggie in the freezer until we can put food scraps in the worm bin), and it became apparent we needed to start another composting system. if i had a little more space and wasn't renting a place where we live quite close to our neighbors, i think i would start a regular old compost pile in the yard. but i'm not sure how long we're going to be renting this spot and i'd hate to leave the landlord a pile of decomposing matter in the backyard if we move out. so i wanted to keep our compost bin contained.
i did a lot of internet research and read some excellent books from the library on different methods of composting, and i got excited about the compost tumbler as a system that was well suited (and fun!) for us. it's a self contained barrel that spins on an axis, thus providing ample aeration that is crucial to expediting the composting process. it keeps pests out, and looks a little more managed than a pile. plus you don't have to dig into it and turn it, which i think is one of those things i would avoid doing.
i wanted to build a compost tumbler myself, and there are great tutorials out there for how to do it, but i realized that it would take me a long while to scrounge up recycled materials to build with and borrow the tools necessary, and our freezer is filling up all the while, so i made the decision to buy one premade. i chose a compost tumbler i wanted, the cheapest model i could find, and went to purchase it online - because there doesn't seem to be anyone (besides costco - and they don't have the model i wanted) who sells compost tumblers here on o'ahu. however, as i found out through numerous online sellers and amazon, shipping to hawai'i would cost me more than the tumbler itself! so i had to scrap that idea.
purely by chance, (and maybe because i was a little bit obsessed) i found the CompoSpin compost tumbler, which is actually a spherical compost bin ball that rotates on a base. they carry it at costco online, but not in the stores here, so i found a seller on amazon that was willing to ship to hawaii for not too much money - this composter ships in pieces that you assemble, unlike the other models - and i bought it. i was super excited to start composting in my new ball (and i was eager to make some room in the freezer) so i anxiously awaited the estimated shipment arrival date, and i waited, and i waited. and finally i contacted the company who told me the only way they could ship to hawaii was by parcel post and it might take up to 6 weeks. which burst my composting bubble, but thankfully, and surprisingly, it arrived this weekend on our doorstep.

Death Star Composter from Willie Maze on Vimeo.

marty and i breathlessly assembled it (a really fun process of snapping pieces together) and brought out our squirreled away bits of food scraps we've been hoarding to fill it up. it turns out to quite resemble the death star. here's the video of that process, watch for the impromptu cameo appearance of our friend, brutus.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

week four: posture wrist rest

now that i have a job where i spend most of my days in front of the computer, i'm noticing the repetitive strain on my body: namely my wrists, neck and shoulders. i remember years ago i had a nice squishy mini-beanbag pillow-type thing that i rested my wrist on while handling the mouse, and that seemed to help. if i can, i'd rather make something myself than buy it, so i got an idea when my new laptop battery came in the mail padded with some squishy foam inserts.
since i already had the sewing machine set up from finishing the 'ulu quilt, i decided to whip up a quick wrist rest.
i took one of the foam inserts, folded it in half, and stitched up a mini pillowcase out of scrap fabric. i stuffed the folded foam into the pillowcase and finished the last edge by hand. it was a quick and dirty process, but i'm pretty pleased with the results. while the texture of the foam is not quite as appealing as whatever those little beads were in the manufactured wrist pillow, it is significantly lighter - it hardly weighs anything - which is a definite advantage considering my shoulder bag weighs nearly a ton with my laptop and all the other junk i carry around in it (another possible factor in my shoulder tension).
i finished the wrist rest off with a reminder to myself, figuring i'm going to be seeing it periodically throughout the day. my friend megan and i have started a practice this year of checking in for 5 minutes once a day to ask each other 5 questions that we want to be held accountable for. one of my questions is "how is your posture?"

i'm hoping this little reminder will help me stick with that commitment.