Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Supper Club: June 2014, Eat Local

I either I was in a former life or I should have been a 50's housewife that threw fabulous dinner parties. I tried to host a few back in college, but what college student has the time or the money? I surely didn't. Back then, it was so much easier just to say "Oh, the [football] game is on, let's get together and watch it with food and beers." 

A couple years ago, I decided to start up a dinner club and call it Supper Club. The premise is themed dinner parties, once a month, potluck style. Jake warned me about going overboard with my decorating. Perhaps I did. But that's how I like to roll.

Supper Club June 2014
Theme: Eat Local. Each dish must include one locally sourced ingredient.

The morning of the party, I picked flowering oregano from my friends' garden for decoration.

The setup on our patio. OK, so I did go overboard and rent the chairs. They were only $1 each for the weekend (and the guy at Taylor Rentals Arlington was super cute.)

Hey oh! Beer cocktails!!


Dessert: Strawberry angel food cake trifle, made in honor of Jake's bday. But he wouldn't let us sing to him.

The crew for the inaugural dinner. Great friends, homemade food, and tasty drinks make for an awesome evening. 

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Cinco de Mayo 2014

Once, I threw myself a birthday party, secretly. At least I think I did it on the down-low. Enough chit chat, let's just look at the pretty pictures. 

According to Pinterest, it ain't a party unless you have fancy paper straws and homemade tissue tassels suspended from bakers twine.  

Sparkling sangria! Whut, what!? I used this ridiculous recipe which makes one super tasty AND super strong beverage. I was too cheap to throw the fruit out and cooked it down into a chunky compote after the party. Not shown, frosty margaritas and refreshing beers.

Food! Potluck style. Carnitas. Enchiladas. Sriracha fruit salad (drool). Spanish style rice. Oh and let's not forget the taco and nacho bar. 

Not sure how we had room for dessert, but we did. First up, Nom Nom Paleo's Mexican pot de creme. I left the cream off so that people could pick between real cream and soy whipped topping. Hey dairy doesn't like some of us. 

And finally, cake. Not just any cake. A homemade margarita cake, infused with Patrón Silver. Apparently, I made Sam cut the cake so I could take photos =)

The cake was based on a this lime chiffon cake recipe I found on the interwebs. The frosting is my reduced butter swiss meringue buttercream infused Patrón and lime juice. In case you are wondering, I have yet to recreate this cake. 

Monday, January 4, 2016

Triangle Baby Quilt

Triangle Baby Quilt
sizing (forgot to measure it in my scramble to finish, made with 4" tall triangle ruler)

Top: "Better Than Yesterday" Blogger bundle from Pink Castle Fabrics
Binding - Kona in Ash (Gather Here)
Filled with 100% cotton batting. 
Machine sewn with 100% cotton thread.
Machine washable (cool wash, tumble dry low).

This quilt has a little bit of a backstory to it. After I "mastered" string quilts (sewing long strips of fabric together), I became bored with it and wanted to work on something more challenging. So I went with triangles. 

The first 120 triangles.
It wasn't so bad, mostly just time consuming. That may or may not be an artifact of my OCD ways. Some quilters will layer their fabrics and cut multiple triangles at a time (either by hand or with a fancy die cutter). I just can't do it. My ruler slides around and I end up with uneven cuts. I'd rather take the time and just cut each edge individually to ensure all my pieces are even. 

Had to cut 100 more because I mathed wrong.
The finished quilt top had a short stint as wall decoration in our old apartment. At one point, friends from out of town commented on it. I made a mental note that they liked it. The top has since sat in my UFO (unfinished object) pile. I knew it wasn't a project that I wanted to donate, but wasn't quite sure where it would end up.  

Fast forward to recent times; our aforementioned friends announced their pregnancy (hooray!!) and I instantly thought about this quilt top. The colors are fun and bright without being too babyish and also gender neutral. Kismet! 

And just about the same time, one of the many fabric shops I follow on Instagram posted a photo of quite possibly the most perfect print that I could have dreamed of to make this quilt complete. The print included math, physics, and chemistry equations/symbols/graphs. Call me a nerd all you want (I resemble one), but the parents to be are an engineer/scientist power house and I knew they'd appreciate it. A fun, functional, and educational quilt? Check, check, and check!

Ha,the binding is pretty much the same color as the paint on my walls.
Close up of the back. I had to stop myself from buy an entire bolt of this print.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Crossweave Baby Quilt

Crossweave Baby Quilt
sizing (see pattern, I've since forgotten the actual measurements)

Pattern is Crossweave by Amy Smart, as found in Modern Baby.
Top combination of 100% cottons purchased from Gather Here and Pink Castle Fabrics.
     Doohikey Designs Foxy Trails (Pick Your Plum)
     Zen Chic Comma
     Cotton+Steel Basics Dottie in Picnic and XOXO in Picnic and Gold
     Lizzy House Pearl Bracelet in Verbena and Grass
     Sun Prints Bike Path in Green
     Happy Go Lucky Jump and Penny in Lime
     Modern Meadow Herringbone in Grass
     Kona in Snow
Binding - Pieced using Pearl Bracelet in Grass and Sketch Basics in 2 shades of green.
Filled with 100% cotton batting. 
Machine sewn with 100% cotton thread.
Machine washable (cool wash, tumble dry low).

(I started and finished this piece in November 2014, I'm just super lazy about blogging.)

Like the last quilt, this was a surprise baby shower gift. However, unlike the last one, I didn't finish this one in time for the shower. When you rip out the same seam multiple times at 2am, you know it's time quit, get some rest, and come back to it later. 

Mommy-to-be loves green. I mean, LOVES green. And since we didn't know if it was going to be a girl or a boy, I decided to go with green. While I was able to pull most of the green fabric from my own stash which just so happened to all be in the same shade, woohoo! I still needed to add a few prints. I must be a sight at the fabric store. I showed up with my little container filled with green charm squares and fat quarters, spread them out on a work table and then ran around the store pulling bolts of fabric.

Funny story, after I finally decided on colors/prints after what seemed like an eternity at Gather Here, I ended up leaving an entire yard of fabric behind! Luckily, I was able to email the store and have them set it aside for me.

I love that this pattern is traditional, but the white sashing gives it enough negative space for a modern touch. I also love that it enabled me to do diagonal quilt lines! It's easy straight line quilting, but the added angle makes it interesting.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

More Rainbow Quilts!

Remember this one? We'' I've got 2 more for you. Well not really for you, they're going to Quilts for Kids, but you know what I mean.

Rainbow quilt #2:
Colored fabric - Sketch by Timeless Treasures
White sashing - Kona Cotton in white
Binding - Kona Cotton in medium gray (I think)
Backing - I have no idea

Rainbow quilt #3:
Colored fabric - Sketch by Timeless Treasures
White sashing - Kona Cotton in white
Binding - Kona Cotton in white
Backing - Michael Miller (I think)

Apparently I didn't square this one up. Woops!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Infertility: My Story

This is a post that I have been meaning to write for many years. But, I have struggled with where to start telling my story from and when to share it. Not to mention, it's still considered a taboo subject in today's society. Just so that we are clear, I'm not looking for pity or sympathy. I'm sharing my story in hopes that it may a) help someone who might be in a similar situation and show them that they are not alone, and b) spread the word and show people that it's OK to talk about infertility. Fitting, since this years National Infertility Awareness Week theme was "You Are Not Alone."

February 2015, marked the 10 year anniversary of my diagnosis. I have Premature Ovarian Failure (POF). In layman's terms, it means that my ovaries don't work. They never have and more than likely never will. Some people may argue that the technical term is "Premature Ovarian Insufficiency (POI)." It sounds less harsh and actually describes some people better. But in my case, it's full failure. It's a fact and I have grown to accept it [most days].

I first knew that something wasn't quite right in middle school. By the 8th grade, everyone, except for me, had joined the puberty club. As if being a 13-14 year old wasn't awkward enough, add on being one of the only 2 Asian girls in the class (we lived in a small, Caucasian, Christian-Catholic, mostly farming community), AND being the odd girl out elevated the beginning of my teens years to a whole different level. I may not remember the meanest thing someone said to me, but I remember the stupidest comment: "You are flatter than my doorknob." Ugh. Middle school boys are such fucking assholes. BTW, I still remember who said it. I remember his full name and the month/year of his birthday. Watch your back, karma is a bitch. Anyways, life sucked. And I chalked it up to just being a "late bloomer" and most likely it was because I didn't have enough body fat. I was skin and bones as a child, just skin and bones. Looking back now, I have no idea why I didn't just buy a bra and stuff it like some of the other girls. *sigh*

5th or 6th grade, I think. Apparently my love for orange and black started long before college.
8th grade. Could that shirt be any bigger?

High school came and went and still I hadn't joined the club. I don't remember my classmates saying anything, at least not to my face, but I was very self conscious. My baggy clothes phase from middle school carried into high school (as much as I could get by with our strict dress code). By this time I had read all that I could read on delayed puberty. I had taught myself about Amenorrhea and the treatment for it. At the ripe age of 19, my parents took me to see the family doctor. It was no surprise [to me] when they diagnosed me with Primary Amenorrhea (never having menses) and promptly put me on birth control pills. While I wished that my parents had taken me to a specialist, my family practitioner did run every test they knew to. Everything came back normal, including my karyotype. The doctor had hoped that medical retardation (Turner's Syndrome, Fragile X, etc.) would explain it. Sorry to disappoint, doc. 

Junior or Senior year of high school. I still hunch my shoulders like that. Bad habits are hard to break.

College was almost everything I dreamed it would be. I was like everyone else, mostly. My friends looked past the fact that I looked like a child. My sailor-esque vocabulary and crude jokes may have had something to do with it. I won't lie, I ignored my diagnosis for those 4.5 years. My focus was to explore my freedom (I grew up with a Tiger Mom who had me chained to the family restaurant 24x7) and complete my engineer degree. And like any normal 20-something female, get a boyfriend. In doing so, I learned a very important lesson that young me didn't know: boobs aren't everything. Mature males are more interested in your brains and personality.

I remember listening to the radio one morning during my Sophomore year. A young girl (16, I think) had called in to talk about how she wanted to get a boob job so that boys would notice her. Appalled, I tried to call into the radio station to share my learnings. I couldn't get through, so I emailed my response. Much to my surprise, they read it over the radio. I'm pretty sure the girl didn't take anything to heart, but at least I tried. Maybe it didn't help her, but perhaps it helped someone else who was listening to the show.

Not long after grad school started, I decided that I wanted to know for sure if having biological children was a possibility. I made an appointment to see my OB/GYN. Let met tell you, that was the most frustrating doctor's appointment that I have ever wasted my life on. My doctor charged me (a struggling college kid) $300 for 15 minutes of her time, mind you, the appointment took all of 5 minutes, and told me that I shouldn't worry about it. But when it came time, we could discuss options. She outright refused to help me.

1st or 2nd year  of my M.S. program. I'm so classy.

Upon hearing this, a close friend of mine referred me to a specialist in Seattle. My new doctor was AMAZING. She listened to me, poured over my medical history, ran some tests, and had answers for me in no time. So in February 2005, I was officially diagnosed with Primary Ovarian Failure. My ovaries were super tiny, but they existed. (What the heck had the GYN been checking all these years during those abdominal exams?) Not only did my ovaries refuse to communicate with my pituitary gland, they were empty, no follicles were to be seen. The chances that I would be able to conceive naturally were slim to none; donor eggs would be my best bet. At this stage in my life (non-procreating adult woman), birth control pills (BPCs) was the best method of treatment. The BPCs would deliver the hormones my body needed, especially for bone health.

(Thank you E for being there when the doctor called. Without you, I don't know how I would have ever been able to drive from Seattle to Corvallis that day.)

I'm not going to lie, while I expected the diagnosis, it stung. To say that it hurt a lot, is an understatement. I remember crying everyday after classes/research. Days turned into weeks, and weeks turned into months. I felt broken. I felt cheated. It was as if someone had taken my choice to have biological children away from me. It was as if my ability to be a woman/mother, had been ripped from me. If I had a dollar for every time I said "why me," I'd be fucking rich. I hated the world. I hated God. I hated everything. At age 23, life sucked once again. Only this time it was a different kind of sucking. It was a harsh reality to accept, and I wasn't ready to. So I ignored it. I focused on finishing school and getting a job. Because that's what "normal" and "unbroken" people where doing.

Well, I succeeded. And then I tried to run away from my problems by moving 3k miles away. Because that was totally logical at the time. I made a new life for myself and finally realized that I needed to deal with my reality. I may have POF, but I still needed to take care of myself. Unfortunately, being a petite-ish, Asian, female already puts me at risk for Osteopenia. Being a petite-ish, Asian, female with POF puts me at an even higher risk. In 2008, at the recommendation of a local POI/POF support group, I sought a Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE) who was familiar to POF to help monitor my health and  perhaps find a reason for my POF. Over the past 7 years, my RE has tracked my bone health, thyroid function, and etc. She tried and continues to search for the reason behind my POF. As of today, it remains unexplained. We speculate that it has to do with my body's autoimmunity. She has worked with me to move me off BCPs and onto hormone replacement therapy (HRT). We were hoping that introducing "normal" levels or estrogen and progesterone would help jump start my system. Yeah, not so much.

People, if you have POF/POI, take your estrogen, either BCPs or HRT!! I went through a long lapse. This gave me tremendous brain fog (you think pregnancy brain, imagine having it for life). It got so bad that I noticed that I would stop talking mid-sentence and my brain would completely empty out. You could probably hear marbles rattling around if I had shaken my head. The lapse, coupled with a decrease in dairy intake (I found out I was lactose intolerant) also resulted in my Osteopenia turning into Osteoporosis. So take your estrogen!

As much as having POF sucks, I am grateful that I found out when I did. I was able to take the time I needed to grieve and to accept my situation. I was able to take the time to research and understand my diagnosis. I was able to take the time to learn about the options I had for creating a family. I was able to seek out support groups and help others in the POI/POF community. Most importantly, I was able to do all of this at my own pace. I had my friends to support me, but given my personality, I needed to do it by myself. It's because of this that I can talk about my diagnosis freely and without being emotional.

My husband and I are "lucky" in that we get to skip over the struggles of trying to conceive (TTC) and having to find out later that my shit don't work. I can't even begin to pretend to know what that feels like. But we had (and have) a different kind of struggle. In the beginning, I had to decide whether or not to tell him. And then I had to decide at which point in our dating career to tell him that I couldn't have biological children. Tell him too soon and he'll probably think that I'm are crazy and already thinking about marriage and children. Tell him too late and he may feel like he's wasted his time. And after telling him, he had to decide what to do with that information. Does he want to continue the relationship or not? It's not like asking someone if they want pizza or take-out for dinner. You have to be patient and give them space and time to think. Let me tell you, waiting for him to think things over felt like an eternity. He choose me. All of me. (And of course, I chose him.) So together, as a team, we will overcome the struggles that come our way.

Jason Angelini Photography

The feelings of being "broken" have come and gone through the years. Mostly, I have good days. But sometimes, I have my moments. And I've grown to realize that it's OK to take a timeout and have a pity party for one and cry it out. At least that's what works for me.

So that's my story in a nutshell. I've glazed over a lot of things, so feel free to ask any questions. Hopefully, some part of this will help breakdown the stigma associated with infertility. 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Project Z: Baby Memory Quilt

Project Z: Baby Memory Quilt
approximately 65" x 88"

Top patches - combination of onsies, t-shirts, sweaters, pants, receiving blankets, burp cloths, hat and a sock.
Top border - Carolyn Friedlander Architextures Crosshatch in Grey (wide) purchased from Gather Here.
Back - Alexander Henry 2D Zoo in Multi.
Filled with 100% cotton batting. 
Pellon SF101 interfacing.
Machine sewn with 100% cotton thread.
Machine washable (cool wash, tumble dry low).

Let me introduce to you, Project Z. This was a quilt for my good friend's son, Z. My friend has been saving articles of clothing with meaning over the last 2 years. And I got to put them together into a quilt! I'm not going to lie, it was a lot of work, but it was worth it. 
Starting point.

I worked loosely off of Coconut Robots tutorial, I choose to use Pellon SF101 as my interfacing. SF101 is not only woven, but also 100% cotton. The woven texture would allow the quilt to fall and drape naturally. And anytime I can work with natural fibers, I do. 

The width of my blocks were mostly determined by the size of each clothing piece. Newborn sizes yielded smaller blocks, as one would expect. In other cases, the height of the graphic print dictated the height of the piece. I avoided cutting off images as much as I could. At the same time, I tried to maintain equal spacing on all sides of the image. Damn my OCD/Type A ways!!

Most of the pieces interfaced, cut out, and ready to be arranged.

There were a few tricky pieces that I had to get creative with. The yellow car shown below was just a tiny thing on the front of a zip-up hoodie (like a logo on the chest). I faked a larger block by cutting it out and appliqueing it onto the back of the sweatshirt. The "My First Christmas" block was actually cut from the backside of a footy pajama like piece. Seriously cute, right? To keep the flap from being accessed, it was sewn shut. 

Some of the more difficult pieces.

To add another layer of personalization, Z's mom wanted to incorporate his initial onto one of the quilt blocks. We chose to applique a "Z" to one of the receiving blankets cut into a large block.

Hand cut from interfaced Michael Miller Cotton Couture in Cherry. 

Chubbs the Penguin was called on to help with the basting process. He wasn't much help.
Lots of stitching in the ditch happened.

It took some finagling, but the blocks came together with minimal resizing. This was one of those times that I had a quilt design board so that I could move the blocks around upright. Instead, I kept rearranging them on my floor. Watch some Law&Order: SVU, move some blocks. Watch another epsisode, move blocks again. And so on until I realized that I had to stop or the quilt would never be finished. There was a method to the madness. I tried to alternate dark and light blocks, stripes with small prints, and break up like colors. In the end, the quilt utilized 80 of the 81 pieces I was given! 

Since I couldn't being myself to quilt over the all the super cute graphics, I quilted around each block. There were a lot of threads to bury. It was a conscious and totally worth it, but wowzas! It's hard to see in the photo below, diagonal quilt lines were added just in the grey borders. 

The backing fabric was not only chosen, but also supplied by my friend. You see, this was leftover fabric used in Z's nursery!

I LOVE how it all came together. Truth be told, I was sad to send it off to Z. I got a chance to experience it's coziness as I was sitting on the couch with the fireplace going... and tucking in the quilt tails. 

Thank you so much V (and M) for trusting me with Z's keepsakes. I'm so glad that I could bring your idea to life and create a completely one of a kind quilt for Z. I can't wait to see it on his big boy bed!