Thursday, August 30, 2007

nacho guy

I love to get hotel rooms with kitchenettes. I hate relying on restaurants when we travel. But I don't like to buy huge jars of small necessities - so I travel with my tube of spices! I've been so busy packing up, cleaning the house, organizing things for the pets - I haven't posted this week because I figured everything I'm doing is completely boring. But then I read Posie's blog this morning and I realized that I forgot to chat about the concert we went to Monday night.

spices, originally uploaded by buettington.

Row 10, full moon (well, it looked full anyway - I guess Tuesday night was technically full moon) and Wilco. I was so happy to hear so many old favorites as well as tracks from the new album, Sky Blue Sky. As Ms. Posie suggests herself, when you go to see a band play, you always want to be the crowd and the city the band remembers. In between songs, Jeff Tweedy struck up conversations, remarking on the moon and how the mellow crowd must be an indication of it being the first day back at school (the concert was at SDSU's Open Air Theater). And, as I was beginning to notice, puffs of smoke made Tweedy say, "You guys smell funny." Ah yes, that wonderful concert haze. But then he said, "But the guys in Portland, Oregon smelled REAL funny." Okay, so we won't be remembered as the city that smokes a lot of pot. Then he asked, "Hey! Where's nacho guy?" Apparently there was a guy front and center with a big bowl of nachos. Tweedy imitated nacho guy putting a big gooey chip in his mouth, head bopping to the music and shouting, "Yeah!" in between shots of cheesiness. So, yes folks, San Diego will be remembered for nacho guy.

I couldn't help but think about John Lennon when they played Hate it Here. The lyrics sound a lot like Lennon post Yoko separation and reunion. Think Jealous Guy. But the Wilco twist has this sound that I bet Lennon would have loved - these pauses from the melody to just rock out. Love it. Most Wilco songs are like that. You'll be swaying and enjoying it and then these incredible sounds hit you and make you get out of your trance and really hear the song. The lights were fantastic. Dancing to those drums. I envy the ability to not only compose music, but then to put words to it. It's something that seems so incredibly impossible to me. It's beyond my understanding. Some people are just born with that - doing it before they hit puberty. Amazing. I loved that Jeff Tweedy pointed out how his 7-year old son was fast asleep a few rows up. How can a kid sleep through this??? Wow, to be the kid of a rock-n-roll daddy - how cool must that be?

So, yeah - it was a great night.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

just like dirt

When I was little, I thought I could make it rain. I'd think long and hard about how much I wanted it to rain and within a few days it would. Silly. I was probably thinking I wanted it to rain because I'd heard that it was supposed to rain. But, for the record - yesterday I was watching Dirty Dancing while sewing, and, in the movie there are several key rainstorms (makes for steamy love scenes, right?) and I thought to myself, I'd LOVE it if it would rain sometime this summer.

So, what did I wake to this morning? Thunder. (we never get thunder) When I heard that, I shut my eyes in an attempt to get another few minutes of sleep in and repeated again and again in my head, "I hope it starts raining I hope it starts raining." (we never get rain) Then, it did! No, I'm not claiming responsibility for it - but it sure is cool. I jumped out of bed (didn't need coffee this morning) and went into the kitchen so I could sit and just listen to it come down. Nothing more rejuvenating to me than rain. Maybe mother nature is just giving me a taste of Hawaii in preps for my trip. Started sewing the swimsuit wrap I've been putting off for weeks - even turned off the filter on the fish aquarium so I could hear the rain drops and thunder. Oh, and the smells! This dry earth was just soaking it up and made everything smell so fresh and natural - just like dirt. Love it. I continued to repeat in my head, "Please don't stop raining please don't stop raining." It continued to come down until about 10am - then the sun came out and it all dried up and all the puddles started to quickly get slurped up by the thirsty ground. But, oh, what a wonderful treat for a Sunday morning. Thinking of that great Sarah Harmer song - The Hideout. Look at that green, out through the screen after a quick rain came - So fast that, there wasn't time to roll up the windows and pull the clothes down off the line. But I don't care, it was so dry and the grass is happy and I think, so am I.

So, Jennifer Grey was the lawyer's wife in John From Cincinnati? I watched her intro on the DVD and couldn't believe it was her. She shouldn't have gotten a nose job. It made her her! I swear I was a girl of the '60s in a previous life. What with my infatuation for Peggy Sue Got Married and Dirty Dancing, and now my love of Mad Men - playing Sirus Gold - I just can't get enough of it.

Friday, August 24, 2007

things I love

It's been quite a long time since I've done
Things I Love

Love: There's nothing like growing something you can eat. I planted this grapevine 3 years ago and have patiently waiting for my first bunch. Here it is! Although, it looks so pretty and it makes me so happy to see it hanging there every time I go outside to water that I'm hesitant to pick it and eat it up. But, maybe today's the day. Little boy and I may have ourselves a very special afternoon snack.

Love: Ever since I was a little girl with my newly found pen pal I've loved sending out mail. E-mail has made me lazy - so I don't send things out as often as I'd like. But when I do, I love the feeling of sending something off into the world.

Love: I absolutely love the color of these roses. This photo doesn't quite capture the brown tones, though. Just beautiful. I love it when flowers are colors you wouldn't expect them to be. No, not purple carnations - but, greens and browns and even various shades of white. I love it when the magnolia tree is blooming - look inside a blossom and the white petals become a pretty shade of brown as you reach the center. And the stem inside is gorgeous purple. I hate that magnolia blossoms really only last a day in a bowl of water in the house. But, the brown color that their petals turn after a day indoors is probably one of my favorite colors.

Love: How much do I love that within minutes of my turning on the Today show this morning they showcased their #4 most beautiful place in America, which was Hawaii - where I'll be in a week? In my humble opinion, it is #1. Gave me chicken skin to see the church in Hanalei, to hear some Iz ukulele and see footage of the majestic Na Pali coast. How is that for timing?

Love: Fridays. Even though little boy tells me with disdain, "It's always mommy weekend," it's just not right without the husband around. And thank goodness we have nothing going on this weekend, so we can just enjoy our weekend together.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

thank you for humoring me

How cute will this be? A sushi romper for the little brother and a chopstick shirt for the big brother. I thought this fabric was adorable and bought it even though I knew it'd be pushing it for me to sew these two outfits up. But that's just the way I do things - always load myself up with things to do. Only a couple weeks till aloha-time! So I'd better get sewing. But, it's still SO HOT. I know I'm not out in the fields laboring under the sun or anything, but when it's hot like this it takes every last grain of energy to get anything done. On top of that, we all get a little cranky around here. My son's temperment and mine are very much the same, so he and I start to bicker and I have to remind myself that I should just let the 3-year old win this argument and start acting like an adult. But that's just so hard to do sometimes, you know? Why should he get the last word? Oy vey.

So what did we do over the hot hot weekend? We went out. Spent Saturday at the Go, Diego, Go LIVE Show. Yes, it's just as you would imagine. But, at least it was in an air conditioned theater. Sunday was spent at the ballpark. Yep, that was hot. But, it was the husband's company picnic - so free food and beer. It was a busy family weekend. No time for anything silly like sewing, painting or crafting. I did manage to crochet a few hexagons in the car en route to all our running about town. After reconsidering my measurements, it looks like it may take around 600 to cover the bed. When I made my original guesstimate of 750, I wasn't taking into consideration the stretchiness of the blanket. So that was a nice little discovery. I'm still working on my first row and am so incredibly eager to start the second so that I'll have hexagons connected by more than one side. I'm tempted to just throw one in the second row before I'm finished with the first (there's no harm in that - it's going to go there eventually anyway!), but I feel like that would be cheating and I want to keep at this in an organized way. No jumping ahead. Only 5 more to go until I can make the first hexagon of row two. This morning I told myself I'd just plow through and get those 5 done today. We'll see how that goes.

A super special thank you to everyone who sent me an e-mail following my last post. It was so great to hear from you! I just get so silly sometimes. If you've been reading and following my posts for awhile, you know how incredibly insecure I am. This was another one of those moments flaring up. So, thank you for humoring me and making me feel special. Confidence restored. Everyone who e-mailed will get a patch in the mail. I'll try to get those in envelopes today! But you know how slow I move in this heat. So please forgive me if they don't go out until tomorrow.

Friday, August 17, 2007


Sometimes I wonder if anyone is out there - someone other than the husband and a few close friends reading this. If you look waaaaaaaay back at my first entry, you'll see that this was really set up to be my little online personal journal and I thought, at the time, that if anyone stumbled upon it, then, well, that would just be a nice little thing. So I'm not caught up in it. But, I'm curious. Is anyone out there? I do occasionally get nice comments and I really appreciate those. So, thank you to those who comment!

So let me know you're out there! If you'd like me to send you one of the patches I showed you in yesterday's post, send me an e-mail (questions [at] outoftheboxcalifornia [dot] com) with your name and mailing address. I was gonna have you leave a comment, but then I thought, how embarrassing would that be if no one left a comment? This way, only I will know that I am a complete loser, should that be the case. Ha ha. And to put some kind of control on this thing (on the offbeat chance it becomes a thing), e-mail must be received by 8pm Pacific Time tonight, Friday August 17th. And on the really really offbeat chance that I start to run out of patches, I'll have to close it early - so don't delay!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

inconvenient truth

Okay. Finally getting back to myself again. Is there anything more inconvenient than a cold during the heat of the summer? I hate sinus pressure when the temperature is in the high-90s. Miserable! But, feeling better. So now it's just a matter of surviving the heat.

I did manage to finish packaging up these iron-on patches for the Sampler. Maybe I'll try to come up with a way to share some of these with anyone who pops in here to read. So check back again tomorrow if you're interested. I'm curious to see what kind of response these get. This is a good way to test the concept out. I'd love to make all kinds of designs for iron-on patches, but only if there seems to be interest. As I've discovered over the course of the past few years, some things do better than others and there's absolutely no way for me to gauge that on my own. In fact, I'm ususally surprised to see what sells well and what doesn't. I try to focus my energy on the things that appear to be popular, but sometimes get sidetracked. This patch idea is a sidetrack. It'll either be a worthy wandering or a flop. Hard to tell right now.

Question of the day: Do I close up the house and crank on the AC (and accept the big electric bill at the end of the month)? Or do I fix a tall glass of lemonade and go dunk my feet in the kiddie pool? I suppose I should do as Al Gore would do and give my electrical outlets a break. No kidding, an inconvenient truth.

Monday, August 13, 2007

weekend in review - not so much

So I had this idea that it'd be fun to always post about my weekends come Monday morning. Tell you about the projects I worked on (because it's always my time to work on the stuff I've been putting off all week once the husband is home to entertain the little ones). But, unfortunately, I'm afraid the only thing I did this weekend was make one very unimpressive discovery: my messed up crochet circles/hexagons make great coasters!

Spent all last week caring for the 3-year old and his cold. So, naturally that means I get to spend the weekend harboring my own fever, achy head, coughing, sneezing cold. Thank goodness it happened on a weekend though. I was able to sleep for nearly 14 hours on Saturday while the little boys were under Daddy's care. (And, yes, I know there should be OJ in that glass on that "coaster" - but even when sick I love a tall glass of cherry Coke Zero) Kids! As a parent you get twice as many colds as you ever have in your entire life before - but, you can't call in sick. Honestly, though, I'd take it any day of the week if I could keep it from descending upon my little guys. The look in his little usually overly-energetic face when he's so completely out of it from a cold. Breaks my heart.

So, {sniffle sniffle} hopefully I'll have more projects to post about again soon in the next day or two. Didn't finish up my iron-on patches like I'd planned. Didn't complete all my "Project Backyard" drawings as I'd hoped. But everything's underway and I think I'll be back to 100% by tomorrow.

Friday, August 10, 2007

patch work

I've decided to contribute to The Sampler again, so I'm busy making up some iron-on patches. My previous contributions were always kind of random - making things from interesting material I had on hand, like beach glass jewelry or wine cork boards. I'm happy to be putting together something that really is a reflection of some of the stuff I actually create for the shop. These little guys kind of look like postage stamps - totally unplanned - it only occurred to me just now as the first sheet was coming out of the printer. :)

I'd like to do 100 - so it looks like it's going to be a patch work weekend!

Happy Friday!!!

Thursday, August 09, 2007


One romper done.
A matching shirt to go.
How much am I loving the button hole function on my machine? Now I don't have to buy huge buttons to cover up imperfect button holes!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Pow Pao!

I mentioned once before that we often have dinner at my parents' house every Tuesday night. Every once and awhile I like to cook dinner to take over there to give my mom a break. Last night I fixed up one of our favorites, Kung Pao Chicken and rice. This is such an easy meal to take over to someone's house. I just cook it up in the wok, throw the lid on and we're ready to go! This recipe comes from a book that has long since disappeared from my mother's shelves. (we just don't know where that book went!!!) But she and I each have well worn recipe cards with the ingredients recorded.

Although, I confess, I never know where my card is and often just cook it up from memory.

It goes something like this:

I dice up the chicken and marinate it in a mixture of salt, pepper, cornstarch (about a tablespoon) and sake (about 1/4 cup). There's always that thing they say about using a "non-reactive bowl" - nah, I don't know what that means either, but I comply and use a glass dish. It just needs to marinate for about the amount of time it takes you to prepare the rest of the ingredients. Chop up some fresh garlic and ginger. (about a tablespoon of each - but you know me and my garlic, I usually double or triple up on that) Another key ingredient is green onion. Chop up about 1/4 cup or more. I've made it before without the green onion and it really isn't nearly as good.

Next up are the peanuts - another valuable ingredient. Once the wok is nice and hot, drizzle in a tablespoon or so of oil and then add about 1 cup of peanuts. Then you'll throw in 6 or so dried chili peppers. Now I distinctly remember the original recipe saying something to the effect that your peanuts will be ruined if you allow the peppers to turn black. So keep stirring them around and cook only until the peanuts are starting to get a nice brown roasted look to them, then remove from the wok.

Once the peanuts are out, add a little more oil to your wok and then toss in your garlic and ginger. Almost immediately (so you don't burn your garlic), add the chicken using a slotted spoon so you don't get too much of the liquid from the marinade in there. Work in batches so your wok stays nice and hot. As a batch cooks up, I like to move it up the rim of the wok while I cook up another batch. During this time, while the chicken is cooking, you can mix up your sauce in a separate bowl.

First stir together about a tablespoon of soy sauce and a couple teaspoons of cornstarch. You want to get that mixed up good before you add anything else or you risk having cornstarch balls in your sauce, and that's just not pretty. Add a tablespoon of sugar, a tablespoon of rice wine vinegar, a couple tablespoons of sake and then 1/2 cup of either water or chicken stock. Why not throw some salt and pepper in there too?

Once the chicken is all cooked through, add your chopped green onions and stir fry for a minute. Then add the sauce mixture. I like to push the chicken up against the rim, again, and let the sauce start to bubble in the middle. Once it comes to a boil it will start to thicken up. Stir it up and then add the peanuts. I remember the recipe saying you should toss out the peppers, but I personally like the way they look mixed in there and everyone I know is well aware that they should not be eaten. (but if you leave yours in, it'd be nice to remind your guests not to bite into one!) I also like to wait until I'm just about to serve it up to stir in the peanuts. This way you can be sure they'll still have a crunch to them.

I got the kung pao and white rice all cooked and loaded up on a tray ready to take over to my parents' house. It's one of our family favorites. We have it here about once a week. Sometimes I'll change it up and use pork instead of chicken, walnuts instead of peanuts, add veggies. But the old classic is still the best, in my humble opinion.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


As if I don't already have enough going on. As if I don't think I have enough to fill up my days. Yes, I've taken on another project. Last week I taught myself to crochet. I am completely infatuated with this crocheted piece by Moonstitches. And I've always always always wanted something handmade on our bed. So...

If my measurements are correct, it is going to take 750 hexagons to make a king size afghan. Wow! And, I now have 5. But it's such a wonderfully meditative activity. I get lost in the twisting and turning of the needle. Like most projects, this one might find it's way into a bag stashed in the closet once it is about 1/4 of the way completed - right when I've figured out there's no way I'm going to be able to keep this up for another 500+ hexagons. But it's what I've got my mind set on now, so there's just no use trying to avoid it. And if I do keep it up, then, well, I'll have a beautiful spread for the bed. If I don't, maybe I can auction off what I've got done so far on ebay. Ha ha.

Now it's back to the sewing machine to finish up the romper for the baby in that tropical print I posted about yesterday. It's looking cute! I just wish I was a better follower of directions. Can't tell you how many times I've had to rip seams and do steps all over again because I failed to read the instructions throroughly in my hastiness to follow what I think is going on in the illustrations instead.

Monday, August 06, 2007

weekend in review

Built a model boat with my little man. He was disappointed to discover that it's a boat that will not float. A boat that will not float?!? What a joke!

An iced coffee and a little treat on a very warm Saturday afternoon. I love it when there's coffee left-over from breakfast! Doesn't happen much in this house!

Hit the clearance fabric aisle and found this nice print for a wrap/skirt. I always tell myself I'll bring only one swimsuit, one skirt, one shirt and one pair of shorts to Hawaii. Let's see if I stick to it this time.

How cute will my boys look in matching shirts? I know this print is kind of too pastel, but all the Aloha print has been removed from the shelves to make way for the fall/winter prints. I hate how they do that! I'll have to stock up on tropical prints when we're in Hawaii. Can't wait to hit this little fabric store in Kapa'a ("...or is it Kapa-ah-ah?" - Honeymoon in Vegas) that had all these wonderful Japanese prints. As soon as we left the island last year, I knew I should have gone back to that little store. But I was so pregnant and moody that I didn't know a good thing even when it hit me right square in the face. SO glad I won't be pregnant on this trip! Now when my dad mixes up mai tais, he can offer me one without getting a death glare in return - as he often did when he mistakenly offered his pregnant daughter libations.

Nothing like sweet corn on the cob during summertime, is there? I'm proud to say that our barbecue has been in such constant use that the propane tank was empty when I went to use it Saturday night. I love barbecuing during the summer!

Friday, August 03, 2007


Recently made another purchase from one of my Etsy favorites, The Black Apple. I love how these two prints, Jackalope Baby and Bubblegum Betty make all the pink in our bathroom look intentional.

I also like the contrast between these two faces - sweet girl vs. tough girl. Love those don't-mess-with-me eyebrows on Bubblegum Betty. It's always amazing to me how something as simple as hanging a new print can make a space feel fresh.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

how in the world do you say no to that?

Another dinner post. But this one isn't too photo-heavy. Once this sucker was cooked it was gone. And, it seems, good photo light seems to expire just about the time dinner is being finished. {Smiles}

Pork last night. (if you haven't caught on yet, boneless, skinless chicken breast is a popular meat 'round these parts, so even the other white meat is pretty exotic) I was a little lazy, so I concocted a sauce from Yoshidas teriyaki and a bottled thai peanut sauce I had in the cupboards. May I say? Very semi-homemade and delicious? Beats the several more minutes it takes me to mix up a decent kung pao.

(I'm now typing one-handed because precious baby boy has decided it's time to be held. I'm now understanding why all these blackberry freaks have come up with an abbreviation for almost everthing - but I cringe to partake. LOL!!!!!) Oh man, this is going to take a while.

So - shoot - what was I going to say? Yeah, dinner was yummy. OH, and yes, I did sample the steak the other night. Surprisingly delicious. Surprisingly, because, as I have just indicated, I'm usually a very white-meat kind of gal. But, I gotta say... next time I'm in a steak house, I just might go ahead and order up a good steak!

OH! And, the other night the husband indicated that he was worried about me being home alone with the boys while he's out of town on a last-minute business trip out of the country. When we realized that my parents would be vacationing in Hawaii during that time, he asked, "why don't you go with your parents?" And, come on, him asking that is like him calling on the way home from work and saying, "Don't make dinner, I'll pick up a pizza!" How in the world do you say no to that??? So, tickets are bought, hotel room reserved and me and my baby boys are headed to Hawaii! (Kauai, for those who care to know) I suppose there are benefits to living just on "the other side of the pond". Easy to book a last-minute trip. And, Tom will be joining us following his business trip for a much-needed long weekend retreat. So, for anyone still reading, alooooooooooooooHA!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

that's a wrap...

* least... that's how I wrap it, anyway!
This is an order that recently went out. I realized I never showed how the booties look when they head out the door. This was the solution I came up with after hours and hours of deliberation. First thought was some kind of cute box - chinese takeout or bakery, perhaps? But that just seemed like all this extra cost, for what? A box? And I'm supposed to be out of the box ??? And it just felt so wrong sending these little guys out simply within the box, so now they've got their special wrap.