Starting From Scratch

It’s easy to take the building blocks of everyday objects for granted. Most of the time, we don’t know what exactly the ingredients or materials that we’re dealing with are. (I felt this way about gnocchi for a long time—for some reason, I couldn’t even remotely fathom what combination of ingredients and what kind of cooking process could produce such miraculous little pillows of goodness. A few tries later, I definitely understand the mystery, though I haven’t exactly perfected it).  

Now, I do enough sewing and cooking to qualify as not completely out-of-touch with the basics, but sometimes I’m still tempted to get even closer to the sources of what I’m making.

This impulse led me to spending my entire Saturday dyeing fabric. I’m going to come right out and say it; this was fun, interesting, and somewhat gratifying—but mainly, it was a pain in the butt and not all that successful. I’m sure I just haven’t gotten my groove, and one can hardly expect their first try to be a roaring success, but I don’t think fabric dyeing is really for me in the end (even after my little spiel; I forgot to mention that once you understand your basic building blocks, it’s OK to not make them yourself every single time). I literally spent all day at it, and only came away with a few strips of fabric that I’m truly pleased with out all of this:


  That being said, I don’t regret that Saturday afternoon. It was an experience I’ve always wanted, and now I’m even a tiny bit more aware of what goes into this incredible fabric-dyeing process—and very grateful that there are others who are more gifted than I. Maybe I’ll give it another go (next time I’ll wear gloves since I think the friends I had over for dinner for on Saturday night were somewhat alarmed by my purple- and red-stained hands though I tried to convince them their food wasn’t poisoned with fabric dye) but for now, I’ve selected my favorite strips and I’m keeping them in mind until a brilliant project idea comes along…


 At the very least, I got this week’s nine-patch out of it:


Back to basics step number two: I rekindled my yeast. Well, I started it all over again actually since my first one was lost in the moving shuffle. So far, it’s looking good—or, it’s looking (and smelling) the way that yeast should. Now, I used to think it was weird when people named their yeast, but then I discovered that Clotilde Dusoulier of Chocolate and Zucchini, someone who I very much admire and respect, named her yeast (, so I don’t feel quite so judgmental. In fact, I’ve named mine Warren. He’s somewhat moody. I had to shut the windows in the apartment since he did not respond well to the cold and developed a layer of hooch. But hopefully he doesn’t let me down. My last sourdough was so very, very good.


Anyway, shortly after my semi-successful fabric dyeing, I was fortunate enough to stumble upon another (free) source of fabric, and one of my favorite types: old clothing. My boyfriend spent his Saturday unpacking (yes, after about two months of living in our new apartment, he is finally unpacking) and going through all the old clothing he no longer wears. Lucky for me, this includes some polo shirts:


This isn’t exactly the easiest fabric to cut into super-precise shapes, so I did a bit of brainstorming and concluded that rectangles would be best. But, since I didn’t want to waste any fabric, and since it’s hard to get to exact, I decided they could be of any length as width they were all 5″ high. Now I have some lovely stacks of variously striped fabric to work with:


  I’m planning on a kind of uneven brick-like layout, like so (just in case you don’ t know what bricks look like):


I’m hoping I have enough for a full-sized quilt. If not, the local Goodwill is just around the corner so I can easily and cheaply augment my polo shirt collection. Something about the cooler weather really puts me in the mood for a full-sized quilt project. It’s so nice to get into a piecing rhythm and have a steady, reliable project to go home to in the evenings. I almost started piecing it together this past Sunday but suddenly realized I couldn’t proceed in good conscious until I finished my poor Story Quilt. Somehow, this had fallen shamefully off my radar! And so close to done; just ¾ of the border had to be finished. So I spent a couple of hours blind stitching the final bit of border and voila:


I’d sort of forgotten about this quilt but finishing it made me fall in love all over again. It’s colorful and soft, and covered in wonderful words. I’m thrilled to have it completed.

While I was still in school and my boyfriend lived in an apartment with two of his guy friends, we had a tradition called Spaghetti Sunday. Which is just what it sounds like. And this Sunday, I returned to it with a rather unconventional take on Spaghetti and Bolognese. I feel like Bolognese sauce is another one of those things that’s just so easy to buy, most people don’t bother to make their own or even wonder about what this involves. Well, let me tell you, it’s really quite simple. And when you’re making it yourself, you can throw in whatever weird ingredient you like… in this case, pineapple.


This might sound weird at first, but haven’t you ever had pineapple on a burger, or any other piece of meat? Maybe not, but it’s not such a far-out combination (very common in Hawaii and Puerto Rico) and it’s very tasty.

Finally, my fondness for the fall weather is growing every day so I had to make an Autumny fool: maple syrup, pumpkin, and dates. It’s a perfect dessert for this time of year, like eating fall leaves… but tastes a whole lot better.


 If only I’d pureed the pumpkin myself; then it would truly be fool made from scratch. Maybe next time…


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