I’ve wanted an aquarium for a long time, and I’m finally starting to do actual, serious research into it. I think, for cost and trying-it-out reasons, that I’m going to first get a betta and a 2.5 gallon tank, and some live plants, and go really overboard on learning about bettas and taking care of them. This should be good practice for starting small with a marine (saltwater) tank sometime in the future. I’d really like to try a nano reef, with corals, but I also want anemones. As I read and learn, I’m finding out that some anemones don’t get along with corals very well, so it will take a lot of planning.

Anyway, I think I’m going to get a 2.5 gallon Mini Bow aquarium, like so:

It has a blue lid. I like that. I think possibly the filter that comes with it will do well enough, but I need to learn a bit more. I know it has an incandescent light source, which may be adequate to heat such a small amount of water, but I still want to look into that more. Would a betta do betta (ha ha) with a CFL and a separate heater? Should the lights be off at night (which would basically require a heater)? Etc.

It has a lid, too, which I understand is important so the fish don’t leap to their deaths. Even if they weren’t jumpy, I do have three cats, for whom I anticipate this will be a pleasant form of Kitty TV. I’ve been told they shouldn’t traumatize the fish much. I hope that’s true.

I’m also looking into which type of betta to get. There are so many, and I’d rather not just grab one at Petco, you know? I’ve found out there are online fish auctions. Online fish auctions. No, really.

I’ve got a lot to learn, and I’m planning to buy the tank and cycle it before I get my fish. Plenty of time. Meanwhile, I’ve got about 900 links to look through and a few books on the way to reserve at the library….


A Very Small Stash

First of all, I would like to say that while I’ve been avoiding knitting like the plague for months and months, I spent some serious time this weekend tracking down my needles and making a spreadsheet of outstanding projects. I also knit an entire five rows of what might end up being a felted potholder. Not much, I know, but it was a huge mental hurdle for me to clear, and I’m very pleased I did. Now I look at my yarn and feel happiness rather than dread. Hurrah!

While I was organizing some of my knitting stuff (I need bigger plastic bags to store and separate my yarn), I also decided to clear out and repurpose a basket to keep next to the couch for current projects. Right now, it mostly consists of needlework stuff, my tiny knitting project, and my sketchbook. Looking at the things I have was really inspiring and I spent a fair few hours this weekend on projects. I thought I’d share some pictures, and not just so you can see my hideous hand-me-down couch.

First, the project I’m putting the most time into right now: The Baltimore Beauty blackwork chart from The Gift of Stitching magazine. I really like this magazine, which is purely digital; I find a higher percentage of the projects are very appealing to me versus magazines like Just Cross Stitch. I had purchased a number of the back issues and today got a regular yearly subscription, and now have the issues neatly stored on my external (blue!) hard drive.

At any rate, here it is; it’s stitched in some variegated silk from Hand-Dyed Fibers on some 28ct cotton from JoAnn Fabrics. I really need at least a small stash of linen, and that’s one of my allowed purchases for the fall, since I have really been enjoying needlework. It must be said that when viewed not in a macro photo, the holes in the fabric are far less obvious.

Next up, the WIP-basket, in case you were interested. On the bottom are my knitting needles and some accessories; my Art Bin with HDF floss; yarn for the potholder; then a mesh bag which I use to keep my project on Q-Snaps along with some floss and its chart. Behind is my sketchbook, paper linen from Hand-Dyed Fibers, and in back a copy of Sampler and Antique Needlework Quarterly featuring a GORGEOUS crewelwork stitching purse. That was a gift from someone on the HDF forums, and a wonderful one at that.

And finally, some of my tiny, tiny stash of HDF silks. From top to bottom, I believe they are:

  • Examplar Blueberry Soup
  • Examplar Cocoa Bear
  • Paua Abalone
  • Hemlock 3111
  • Nile Blue 2425
  • Bird Feathers 4103
  • Variegated pink (a forum points spool; used in Baltimore Beauty)
  • Earth Dragon
  • Variegated green (another forum points spool, also used in Baltimore Beauty)
  • A variegated dark blue/green single stranded premium (forum points again)
  • On the right, skeins of Pressed Petals and Nile Blue 2421.

Doesn’t that just make you want to stitch something?

Froth and Bubble Update

I haven’t been doing much else that would qualify for inclusion on this blog, but I’m pleased with my progress on the Long Dog Samplers Froth and Bubble chart. I definitely sometimes wish I also had a smaller project going, but I’m enjoying this one because of the bright colors. Next on my BAP list are Inspiration from Rosewood Manor, and the Polly Phillip reproduction sampler from the Scarlet Letter. Meanwhile I’ve got to pick some kind of small, like a scissors case and biscornu perhaps. I could really use a biscornu. Somehow I feel like keeping my needles stuck into the um, mattress in the living room (I KNOW OK) is less than elegant.

I’ve gotten used to the scroll frame now, although it involves stitching upside-down. Soon I’ll have to start right side up again and I expect that will be confusing. I’ve got an ArtBin box I picked up for a few dollars that I use to organize the floss I’m working with, which is all, of course, silk from Vikki at Hand-Dyed Fibers. And which is lovely and a joy to work with, so go buy some. Really.

Here’s the project box; the colors I use more often are in the small compartments at the bottom for easy access, while most of the rest live on the tags they came with. For $3 I really love this box; much tidier than having a bunch of Ziploc bags floating around. Isn’t my couch just hideous?

And here’s my progress on the chart as of this evening. I got a fair bit done tonight. My entire weekend plan was to finish up some audio books, watch the new Pillars of the Earth adaptation (to which I give two thumbs down, ugh), and stitch. So far, so good.


I have been remarkably un-creative for far too long now; I’m trying to ease myself back into making things in my free time. I could go into some long explanation about depression, and infertility leading me to think well, why bother to put energy into making stuff when I’d rather make a person, and blah blah Ginger, but I don’t think I feel like it. And I imagine you don’t feel like reading it.

So. Most all of my crafty stuff has been coming here piecewise from Michigan, as Zack remembers to bring it on his visits. I still haven’t knit anything since God only knows when and the 90F weather is not exactly motivational when it comes to wool, but I have projects that need to be finished and so I’m hoping to get back to it soon. I can’t seem to find half my knitting needles, though, and that is Bad. Anyway, hot, missing kit, no knitting.

I’ve got the fabric to make some fabulous throw pillows, but I haven’t yet found coordinating cotton or silk in just the right color, so the fabric is just kind of sitting.

And so I am left with needlework, which is something I’ve toyed with since I embroidered a pillowcase for myself (very badly) at some point in elementary school. I love embroidery, but only very specific sorts; for example, while I enjoy doing cross-stitch, I don’t like most of the designs that are available at JoAnn. Well, really, I don’t like any of them. Also, stitching with DMC cotton is the opposite of relaxing, what with the grating texture and the knots and the snags.

Fortunately there’s the Internet, and the Hand-Dyed Fibers forums, and that means easy access to charts I like and plenty of lovely, lovely silk thread. Thanks to the folks at HDF, I am putting together a nice collection of bookmarks that will presumably lead me down the path of historical embroidery, but that’s another post for another time.

This was all a rather long-winded way of getting to the fact that I am currently working on stitching a sampler from Long Dog, called “Froth & Bubble.” It’s a band sampler modeled after older band samplers, although entirely in cross-stitch. (I want to expand my embroidery techniques but I feel I need someone to perhaps show me in person.) I am working mine in HDF silks on an antique white 28ct evenweave cotton, one over one. I really need a magnifying lens. Please do go look at the design, because the photo of my progress so far will give you no idea at all what it actually looks like.

I’ve started over once already, because I did some of the black outlining stitches first and seriously disliked the way it looked when I filled in. So from now on, lighter colors first. I wonder if there’s some guideline about that. Probably. Here it is as of this evening; I’m about to put on my audiobook (Tears of the Giraffe, by the way) and try to put a few more strands down.

Froth & Bubble

Cushions Galore

So, I’ve kind of decided that, for the new place, I’m not going to buy any stopgap items. I have enough to make it, and I was out of work for long enough to become exceedingly frugal. Anything I buy is going to be something I want to keep for a very long time. As such, I haven’t found much I really want to acquire, but I’ve spent a lot of time window shopping for housewares.

I guess I’ve settled on a sort of Deco/Nouveau/Craftsman bastardized bungalow theme for my decorating. I think it’ll look good in this house, and if I do move and/or buy a place, I expect to look for a bungalow of some sort which means it’ll all transfer over. (I note at this point that this post is far too full of commas.)

So I’ve already mentioned the Liberty of London for Target comforter set I got. It’s sort of a large paisley print in grey and teal and mustard yellow, and I’m trying to play off of that. The next logical step? Pillows. Throw pillows, everywhere. I guess technically the next step ought to be curtains but I still haven’t found any I like (currently planning to make some of muslin with nice fabrics at the hem… someday). Plus, I don’t have curtain rods, and I want to see if I can make the existing hardware work.

Anyway. Pillows. I spent about a week poking around, looking at fabrics, changing my mind about what I wanted. I finally narrowed it down to four fabrics, which I bought a little of today on Etsy. Zack is bringing my sewing stuff down this weekend when he comes to visit (YAY).

A New Birdhouse

I know this blog has been neglected for, oh, months and months, and I do apologize. I go through phases with blogging; sometimes, I’m convinced everyone must really want to know about my dinner, and sometimes I think really nobody must care.

At any rate, I am now living in Pittsburgh again, thank God. I’ve got a real job for the first time in years, and I just moved into a new place this month. It was built in 1930, and it’s got some fabulous Arts and Crafts stuff going on. Everything needs a little TLC, but it could be potentially the most awesome place ever… if I can keep myself on track.

I’ve been reading other blogs, and embarking on fruitless searches for window coverings I actually want to pay for, sheets that don’t clash, and ways to organize the kitchen. I think I may be blogging again, here, so that you all can see the transformation as the house takes shape. Also, I have my own kitchen again, which means more cooking.

So, if anyone’s out there: What would you do first? I’ve got a bedroom, a giant living room, a kitchen and a bathroom to make my own. I did manage to score a sweet comforter at Target (Liberty of London for, etc.) so I can at least base the bedroom around that, but otherwise I’m kind of at a loss. Curtains ought to be the first priority, so the neighbors don’t have to witness me, half-dressed, drying my hair to get ready for work. What would you do first?

Hey Guys…

I’m posting a bit more these days over at my other blog, Fumbling Toward Fashion. Fair warning: It may contain harsher language and a less positive attitude, but if you’re OK with that I’d love it if you’d have a read! I’ll still be posting here with the more domestic and crafty stuff… and hopefully a menu plan sometime this century. That’s been a real fail lately. Also, a November desktop calendar with left and right hand options!