Tuesday, July 8, 2014

a whole new bag

Where does a year go? I have no particular excuse for not blogging since May of last year, just a general impatience with sitting down at the computer these days.

Both boys are now in public school, C at the community college and S at an alternative charter high school. More time is going with the family here, and with friends, here.

The old freecycle fridge was moved and works just fine, save for a tendency for the tiny interior freezer compartment to frost over.
And there are always new projects.

Most recently, I decided to make myself a bag after looking fruitlessly for one that wasn't: a) huge or b) expensive. My old purse had fallen onto decidedly hard times—
—and I wanted something a little brighter for summer, anyway.

The dimensions were determined from the size of my iPad2 (with a little extra room on top, this was approximately 11"X9"), and wallet (about 4" deep).

Since it was cobbled together rather than planned, what I have here are a few notes, many of which come from the experience of making the Weekender bag.

The sides went together first, with pockets (one zippered, one gathered) and straps in place. The main material was a heavy home decor/canvas-y print I'd originally hoped to make the Weekender with, and the straps were from a remnant of aqua-colored vinyl. Every piece was backed with heavy duty fusible interfacing (Pellon 71F). The sides are approximately 14"X12" with 1/2" seam allowances. The finished straps 1"X48", with about an inch eventually disappearing into the seam.
Sides and bottom went on next. It would have been easier to do this as one 4"X29" strip, but I didn't have that option and instead pieced it all together from more vinyl scraps.
Right side out:
Finally, there was a lining (quilting cotton with a lighter interfacing, made to the same dimensions as the outer shell—no photos of this part, unfortunately) and a zippered top. I used this tutorial to make it and if I ever do this again, I hope I remember to leave the zipper open at one end so that the lining can be sewn to the bag by machine instead of by hand.
I'm liking this little tote more than I would have thought. By customizing it, I could put in just what I need and no more. It holds wallet, phone, hairbrush, keys, paper, pen, and hooray, my iPad in a barely noticeable zippered pocket. As simple as it is, it is my favorite feature.
All of which has me wondering what it is that makes a good bag. Do you have a favorite daily carrier and if so, what is it that you like about it?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

frozen bananas à la Bluth

What are you going to be eating on May 26? This has been the topic of many conversations in our house. On that date, Season 4 of Arrested Development will be released, all at once, on Netflix. 

We talked about a few possibilities for our family viewing party: hot ham water, candy beans, juice...but really, there is only one sensible choice, and that is frozen bananas. The banana stand is at the heart of the Bluth Company, after all. And while no one in our family would really enjoy cornballs or mayoneggs, there is no one who doesn't like frozen bananas.

Chocolate-Covered Frozen Bananas

You need: bananas, chocolate, butter, popsicle or caramel apple sticks and (optional) nuts. Ideally, the bananas would be slightly riper than shown here. The stick will split a green banana, but will sink in nicely to a lightly freckled one.

We have one child who loves almonds, and one who doesn't like nuts at all, so I alternate between both plain and crunchy bananas (ie, nuts and no-nuts).
Cut the bananas in half, push the stick up the base, and place them on a tray to freeze for at least half an hour, and up to overnight.
Meanwhile, chop the nuts. 
When the bananas are frozen, melt the chocolate over a double boiler (or in a pot nestled in a larger pot) and add enough butter to bring it to the consistency of, say, mayonnaise. Chocolate melted alone will be too thick to coat easily.
Because I don't have a dipping pot, I spread the chocolate on the bananas with a frosting spatula, seen above. Then, depending on your preference, you can either roll the banana in nuts or place it back on the tray to freeze again. But work quickly, as the frozen banana starts the process of hardening the chocolate almost immediately.
That's pretty much all there is to it. Whether or not you watch Arrested Development, a frozen banana is just about the perfect treat on a hot summer afternoon.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

old refrigerator (part 2)

After sanding and repainting, I though I'd just wipe down the gasket. Unfortunately, the dirt was more embedded than I realized, so the gasket had to be removed. This is the point where one thing led to another...

First the interior panel had to come off—

—which revealed the insulation. It looked fine, except for that lower left corner:

Which led me to look more closely at the bottom bracket:

gasket pulled away from bottom bracket, revealing rust and corrosion
bottom bracket removed
What do you do in this case? Do you take out the insulation and repack it? I hadn't figured on getting this deep into an old appliance. While trying to decide what to do, the insulation began to flake off by itself. Finally, I gave up and just removed the cross brackets, letting it all fall out.

Surprise: more rust.

Which meant more (rust-inhibiting) spray paint:

And new insulation. One consolation: the new giant scissors were perfect for cutting the batts.

And the modern paper-backed batts went in easily:

(Note for next time: don't leave the insulation unattended.)

The sanded and repainted bottom bracket:

The gasket was soaked and scrubbed:

And then the whole thing went back together:

In this photo, the butter dish still needs to be reinserted and wired, and blue tape is holding the botom gasket on while the adhesive sets, but it is mostly together. I hope. It still has to be moved, plugged in, and tested. Part 3 of this project may be awhile in coming.

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