Wednesday, September 30, 2009

too old to sleep with a panda

I admit to being in a self-imposed wedding planning bubble of late. I've had so many funny passing thoughts that I would have blogged about, had I the time. But I've had to knuckle down and make sure everything was falling into place for the big event that is happening in roughly three weeks time (scary!). Is it working? Kinda. No reason to panic yet anyway.

Pal Jessie brought this little nugget to my attention however and it was enough to shake me outta my blog-hiatus and get typing.

Yes, it does bring the H2B to mind immediately, if only he were a big, black former pro football player / bodyguard / manly craft wizard with a girl's nickname (oh, to dream!) . Here's to men that stitch, latch & in general get crafty.

Photos from Extreme Craft via Flickr. Fun.

Friday, September 18, 2009

toilet garden

I did something strange this morning.

(At least I thought it was strange until I put tomatoes + bathroom into Google images & found lots of people have done the same.)

I put my tomato plant in my bathroom. You see, my tomato plant (first ever) has done really well this summer. I got it a little late in the season but with much love & attention, it's been looking pretty darn good with a nice amount of little green fruits popping up on the vines. However, after two lovelies a few weeks ago, the rest don't seem to be growing any bigger (they're not supposed to be cherries) & there's not a blush of red to be seen. I've read that you can pick them & finish the ripening indoors, no problem - once a little red is visible. Hence my worries. Could be due to the sudden drop in temperature. And I know toms like sun & warmth (& water, though that part's no problem).

As I, ahem, sat in my bathroom this morning, I noticed how nice & steamy & greenhousey it was in there after my morning shower. Aha! So, the toms are spending the day in my skylight-filled, steamy, toasty bathroom.

This is not my bathroom, by the way (mine has much better natural light).

happy friday

A little vintage orange mullet love for your Friday listening & viewing pleasure.

One of my all time favorite Bowie songs. Expect it at the wedding. (The song, not the outfits, unfortunately.)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

wedding star - Whirlingturban

I've been keeping quiet so far about the finer details of my upcoming wedding. But I really want to showcase the fabulous people & vendors that I've worked with over the past year. I've been lucky enough to discover some dizzyingly talented people out there that have played a major role in creating what will be the funnest & most glamorous day of my life.

The first vendor that I have to share with the world is the vintage genius, bombshell dress-making extraordinaire that is Whirlingturban & its glamorous mastermind, the great Katherine Robinson - the wonderful gal responsible for the fantabulous dress I will walk - no float! - down the aisle in.

I could spend days going on & on about all the amazing vintage designs that Whirlingturban create with the apparent ease & confidence of Alfred Shaheen himself. But I'd like to highlight their fast-growing wedding dress department. Not only can you get completely custom made beauties at a fraction of the price of other custom designers (especially compared to the plethora of new designers out there that focus on the beloved "poufy tea length" '50s style), but they've recently launched a ready-to-wear bridal boutique.

Check it out here & see why I'm secretly wishing that I could get married ten times over (to the same fella of course;)


Over a year ago, an innocent Google search at the start of my engagement (seems so long ago now) led me to the Whirlingturban website. And there, the course of my wedding (and life) was changed forever! I found so much vintage eye candy to feast upon, my orbs almost popped right outta my head & bounced off the laptop. Katherine is a design wizard & true vintage loyalist, who has channeled her expertise gained by working as a Hollywood fashion & costuming insider into one fantastic business concept - create gorgeous, perfectly tailored dresses, using the exacting standards of classic 1950s/60s design, to give customers a "movie star fit" at a not so movie star price.

To me, it all sounds like a dream. Having picked up her business from west coast USA & dropped into tropical Bali, Indonesia, Katherine employs local artisans to create unbelievably pretty & WT exclusive prints & fabrics. I can just see Katherine & her fantastic team of pretty seamstresses hand-creating these amazing, one-of-a-kind Shaheen-inspired Hawaiian dresses & jaw-dropping wedding gowns, using classic techniques, all a-buzz in a little studio in paradise, in soft-focus technicolor with a Henry Mancini soundtrack of course (with little chihuahuas chup-chupping around their dainty feet). Doesn't it sound like heaven?

My adventure with Katherine & Honey & Mindra has spanned the full length of my engagement - over a year of emails & Skype chats, shared inspiration photos, changed ideas & my many questions always swiftly answered. Planning a destination wedding is one thing, but custom designing a wedding dress from several time zones away? I knew from the moment we started communicating that I was lucky to have stumbled upon something really special.

I can't post about the particulars of my dress. (Sometimes I actually force the H2B to look at this blog so I can't spoil the surprise!) But after changing my mind a million times, I ended up going with a custom made WT gown. And let me tell you, the attention to detail & dedication these gals put into each & every one of their beauties really does make you feel like you are the most important bride on earth. Or like one of those demanding Hollywood divas from the golden era, having our dreams handwoven into cotton ikat & perfectly brought to life in one very special dress.

I have certainly become a WT devotee. In fact, I'm in the process of ordering yet another Whirlingturban to wear to my tiki bachelorette bash. Fun.
I can't wait to be free to post the photos!

For gorgeous gowns in true vintage style, from figure-hugging, dig the headlights, va va va voom to classic tea length skirts with that impossibly nipped New Look waist, Whirlingturban is where it's at. If you want to feel like Audrey Hepburn on your big day or simply live out your Blue Hawaiian fantasies, go here now.
*All photos courtesy of*

baby steps in the world of knitting

I've recently resumed my bumbling attempts to knit. Must be the time of year. The drop in temperature & change in afternoon light always makes me want to pick up my little bamboo needles & make something. One project I'm working on at the moment is coming out pretty well, but I can't post about it here (it's a potential gift!) But since the frustration of one project - with its mysteriously dropped stitches & unintended giant holes - just simply isn't enough, I've taken on another project.
A coworker recently had a baby so I thought, at the last minute as usual, that it's about time I learned to knit in the round. And what better starter project (since it's so tiny) than a baby hat!
The yarn I bought is so cute & soft & stretchy - kinda like a baby.
I found a few patterns online that promise an "easy" & "quick knit." Well, since this is my first ever time seeing double pointed needles, it ain't knittin' up so quick. But I'm not giving up! After a few bumpy starts last night, suddenly this crazy contraption of 5 pointy needles & twisted yarn on my lap started to vaguely resemble a tiny hat. Vaguely.
Notice the ever-helpful pup next to me. (And her denti-bone & chewed up sock in the distance.)
Not too shabby, right? Almost a hat. I'm doing a seed stitch with a little ribbed, stretchy bottom edge.
Could possibly finish it tonight. I also bought the same lovely yarn in mint green & I'm picturing a plain knit hat (or ribbed) with a cute little white heart pattern. Awww. Babies.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

cute & yum

... two of my favorite adjectives.
Therefore, this could be a perfect addition to our autumn Mex-fest of a wedding.
*scratches chin whilst daydreaming of bitesize caramel apples*

How-to here.

Photo from

rum rice

I haven't posted much food-related stuff lately & that's too bad. Cause the great Neilo meals just keep comin' out of our lil' kitchen. I blame it on the wedding. But don't worry - the best idea I ever had (the Neilo & Susie Irish-American vegetarian cooking show) has not been canned, just put off for a little bit. I swear.

I should mention one of the mister's fabulous food ideas of late. Rice cooked in Malibu rum! Sounds strange & it is. Your meal will smell slightly like suntan lotion, but living in a sun-deprived place like this, I count that as a positive. (It doesn't taste like sunscreen.)

Again, no precise recipe needed here. Just think basmati rice cooked lovingly in chopped tomatoes, chillies, assorted fresh herbs & ground spices & Malibu coconut rum. Yes, coconut rum. Mmm mmm was that tasty.
Stir fry in some fresh green friends (in this case baby zucchini, spinach & green peppers). Pile on some fake chicken & you've got yourself one happy wife (to-be).

fine start to the day

This morning I sipped this
while gazing at this
Despite only a minor patch of blue in the sky, it was a satisfying start to the day. Grow Your Own is a trendy phrase being tossed all around the place - and something I complete promote & try to do myself - but how about Pull Your Own? (Sounds dirty, doesn't it?) Brewing your own espresso or latte in the morning is just as satisfying as eating homegrown vegetables. OK, so I didn't grow, roast or even grind the beans myself (thank you Starbucks - finally even the espresso is Fair Trade, so we can all get over ourselves).

Today, I monitored my own little seedlings while sipping an alright-ish mug of homemade soy latte & my tiny kitchen smelled all lovely & fresh ground coffee-ish. {I say alright-ish because I'm having problems pulling the perfect shot. Linda, my former employer at Coffee2Go (remember that job?) would have been ashamed of the three failed shots that preceeded Sunday's cup. But it's a funny little machine...}

Anyway, here's to homemade in all areas of daily life!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

garden madness & many small pots

We enjoyed an unexpected mini Indian Summer this weekend. We all acted very surprised, though, really, isn't this always the month when we are rewarded for our suffering with 2-3 days of pleasant sunshine & warm-ish temperatures, so that we are lulled into thinking, "This isn't really a bad place to live after all." I'm still feeling that way. But check with me again next week.

Anyhoo, the sunshine tempted me out in to my expansive acreage for many hours on Saturday, where I finally put all my bulbs & many more of my seeds into their apartment block pots. The concrete garden is starting to look like a housing estate for seedlings. All the clashing plastic & terracotta, mismatched green & seventies orange, it's like Ballymun for plants!

I hope that my drop in focus the last few weeks & subsequent storage of the bulbs doesn't hamper their development. I did at least store them in the fridge while I went temporarily unenthused about planting stuff (it got cold, okay?). Still, it felt really nice planting these funny little blobs into the seaweed drenched soil & imagining the possible pretty results I will get come spring. I've got a few different tulips, iris & crocus (the early bird that I hope will keep me from fleeing the country at the end of the rough, not-exactly-freezing-just-plain-depressing winter). I also have bundles of pink & yellow ranunculus (very excited about these). Plus, hyacinth & some giant allium (I'd rather call them billy balls, personally, though that's not correct).

Pic from
It's kind of unfulfilling to post pictures of bulbs buried in dirt, but here's where they're living right now:
I hope to get a shelf or some sort of unit to lift some of the containers off the ground. It's kind of crazy taking up all this "floor space" when there ain't much to begin with. Saucy couldn't care less though.

I've also planted spinach, carrots, onions, broccoli & cauliflower from seeds. Seeds used to scare me cause they always failed before. But that's before I grew my green thumbs! A few of these plantings are down in the gardening journal as an experiment. Some are being planted at the wrong time of year. But I figure the seasons aren't that clearly defined in this country & global warming is f-ing it all up anyway. I've been germinating the broccoli & cauliflower on the window sill & it seems to be working! I have big pots of spinach under plastic outside (and added a few more to my high tech, egg carton germinator machine this weekend too). Oh & corn salad, whatever that is. The picture looks like watercress. So maybe we'll start eating salads.

The onions & carrots are already sprouting! Will need to thin these out when they're ready.
I'm daydreaming about zucchini (courgettes to my coworkers), cucumbers, arugula/rocket for the spring. And hellebores. I'm in love with these flowers & may have to invest in some garden shop mail ordering from the UK. They are too pretty. Look at this! What is it, a bucket or a barrel? I want a barrel of hellebores.
Pic from
But I need to cultivate my patience first & take care of these winter projects for now. Here's to a pretty & nutritious future harvest! It's crazy growing your own food, isn't it? Something about it just feels really.... good.

Now, if only these guys would figure themselves out, I'd be happy. Any ideas on how to finish ripening these dudes? Should I snip them & throw them in a brown paper bag? Some seem really tiny...but it's getting cold!

happy morning

I've decided to have a great day today.

I'm sipping white tea with a pup at my feet, thinking about getting myself out the door for work. I just got a lovely email from my home pal Kristy :) & I've checked yet another purchase off my list of "last-minute things to get for the wedding." So maybe it's grey & gross outside, but I feel a good day coming on.

The faulty internet kept me off the blogs for the last week. That, and the wedding meltdown, but enough about that. I have some garden updates & photos to come. Because, really, I like not doing my work!

And I haven't posted anything crafty lately. Here's a somewhat doomed project I tried recently. I have a thing for appliques these days. It didn't quite work. It may or may not look like Sausage. Or possibly a steer skull. Or just a lumpy cow. And I definitely didn't take the time to measure the pillow properly. But I still kinda like it.
My constant inspiration

Monday, September 7, 2009

life spotted in the egg carton!

So my crazy experiment might just work after all.

Notice the tiniest sprouts of newborn broccoli & cauliflower poking out of my experimental window sill seed germinator. Fingers crossed I'll be able to nurture them through the Irish monsoon season.

happy monday morning

I've had some wedding-planning stress distract me from my beloved concrete gardening, curry experiments & enjoyable, aimless blogging. But it's a new week, a new season (so the air tells me) & time to remember what counts.

These things make me happy:
Elvis Costello in a vintage Man United jersey on my couch in pineapple curry eating frenzy
This little angel...who kept me company all weekend...
by following me room to room
coffee from home
the fancy poached egg with garden herb breakfast - not just for weekends anymore

Friday, September 4, 2009

friday loveliness

Aurora is my wonderful psychic twin who always lives just a few time zones shy of my happiness. This makes me think of Stan Brakhage. I know he was famous for film scratching but there's something very early experimental film about this. Enjoy.

moth in a wax paper bag from Aurora A on Vimeo.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

hubby hubby ice cream

This is wonderful. Are you familiar with the peanut butter pretzel-riffic Chubby Hubby flavor produced by my ice cream heroes, Ben & Jerry's? Well, they've gone all gay! For the month of September, they are re-branding (sorta) this delicious flavor as Hubby Hubby, in honor of Vermont's legalization of gay marriage - which takes effect today. I wish I could sample some! Not only will the Hubby Hubby movement NOT be reaching Irish shores (can you imagine?!?) but you can't even get regular Chubby Hubby. Or Chunky Monkey. Or Wavy Gravy. We got Phish Food & that's all. I even hear that in the US you can now get THAT in frozen yogurt form. So where is it?!

Anyway, for all of my American friends who support marriage equality & aren't afraid of a little fall weight gain, please have a few pints for me.

we did it! we ate them!

It seems that Tom & Tammy Tomato really set themselves apart by ripening way ahead of the rest of the little green gang. We probably could have let them ripen a teensy bit more, but we couldn't resist. It was a sunny Saturday morning & I was making a fabulous garden breakfast. So off they came.P1060101P1060103
Lovely ciabatta toast with poached eggs, fresh-from-the-garden basil & sliced, unbelievably tasty, homegrown little moneymakers (that's what they're called, I didn't make it up). Mmm.P1060104
With cheddar cheese & veggies sausages, of course. The other half was pleased - even if he doesn't really look it.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

onwards & upwards - farming in the sky

The BBC series that had me glued to the TV for the last three weeks - Future of Food - concluded last night. Hopping from the UK to Cuba, Kenya, Mexico & India, the show presented some disturbing, somewhat eye-opening (cause we know it's happening, just maybe not to the extent revealed) & downright urgent subject matter for all inhabitants of planet earth. The fast track to mass starvation and complete & utter devastation of our natural resources that our global society is speeding along is something that needs to be addressed immediately & with significantly greater gravity by governments, aid agencies, agriculture & big business the world over.

Amidst all the scary stuff, however, the series introduced me to vertical farming. Check out this pioneering professor at Columbia University. Mr. Dickson D. Despommier is definitely someone I'd like to invite to dinner (and not just because his name is fantastic). Sometimes, ideas like this come along that seem so simple & sensible that you just KNOW the powers that be will likely vilify him & write him off as a nut. But ever since discovering the elevated gorgeousness of the High Line in Manhattan, I've had a real thing for nature being encouraged to prosper in unlikely (yet completely practical) urban spaces. What a smart concept! When we ran out of space for housing, modern society began to build up. Now we've stripped mother earth of all her viable agricultural lands. What to do? Why, build up, of course!

My dream: someday all major cities will be reaping the rewards (both agriculturally, culturally, financially & visually) of these skypscrapers-turned-farms.

*Looks at cement patch. Remembers these little jobbies. And scratches chin as all manner of crazy schemes start sprouting in her brain garden. Hmmmm*