July 11, 2014

Of bare bottoms and German lessons



This morning, I violated my number one rule of day-to-day parenting: never let the nine-month old go bare-bottom in the morning. And boy did I pay for it.

Wait. Wait, you're saying. I thought this wasn't that kind of blog. Well, I guess it is a little. Because when you spend almost every minute of every day hanging out with a baby, some topics tend to crop up more often than others.

I wish I were posting about a new crochet pattern or a fabulous recipe I've come up with, but the reality is that I just spent an hour cleaning poop out of the carpet. Yee-haw.

But wait! It's not all that bad, because I did it while listening to German lessons. See? Combining the mundane (and slightly icky) with the intellectual.

Have you ever heard of German with Michel Thomas? It's great! The Michel Thomas method is based on learning through listening to an audio recording of a teacher (Herr Thomas himself) and two students, without writing anything down or memorizing. So far, it's really interesting and engaging. Granted, I have taken a German class previously, so the material is not completely new to me. I wonder how it would work for someone who has never learned anything about it before.

Happy weekend!

Photo of my flying daughter by me

July 10, 2014

Use-what-you've-got embroidery thread cards

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Over the years, I have ended up amassing quite a collection of DMC embroidery thread. Thread, it seems, much like yarn and headphones, comes out to party when you're not looking and soon turns into a big tangled mess. Then, inevitably, the little paper band with the colour number gets lost. Am I alone in this? Anyone?

I have seen beautiful examples of storing thread wound around clothes pins before - and Pinterest is full of great ideas! -  but I didn't want to buy clothes pins just for this and I thought it would take up too much space (I really do have a lot of thread), so I opted for floss cards instead. Now, I didn't want to buy the cards either, because... why would you buy cardboard when you can have it for free? In my case, I used paint chips to make the cards. Ready for a super-easy, diy floss card tutorial? Turn your favourite programme on, 'cause you'll be here for a while.

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  1. Grab some cardboard or thick paper. Here, I used paint chips in neutral tones, but your possibilities are endless: cereal boxes, old calendar pages of greeting cards, pretty cardstock... whatever you have on hand.
  2. Cut your paper of choice into rectangles. Mine are roughly 4 x 5 cm (1 5/8 x 2 inches), but they're all slightly different, which doesn't bother me.
  3. Use a 1-inch (2.5 cm) circle punch to punch out semi-circles on either side of the rectangle. Using scissors, make two cuts to secure the end of the thread (see in next step).
  4. Wind up your thread. Don't forget to write the colour number in a corner! Repeat 100 more times and enjoy!
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Some further ideas and suggestions:
  • I created an Excel spreadsheet to catalogue my stash as I was going through it. This way, next time I'm about to begin a project, I will know what colours I already have on hand.
  • For now, I'm just throwing the wrapped cards into a shoebox. You can most certainly purchase a nice storage box and organize the threads by colour. How pretty would that be? I need to get on it.
  • The link above also has a great tutorial on how to wind your thread using a drill and a special tool (appropriately called a bobbin winder). I have also seen genius tutorials on how to do the same using a sewing machine. Maybe next time, when I'm tired of my current set-up. :)

So. How do you satisfy your organizing itch? What have you untangled/put away/colour-coded lately?

July 3, 2014

82 Queen

Last time my parents were visiting Charleston, my father said that he wanted to try she-crab soup, a famous local specialty. Always happy for an excuse to eat seafood, we took him to our favourite place where we have had the soup before... only to find out that they have taken it off the menu. Wah wah waaaah.

This time, however, I was prepared. Determined to find the best she-crab soup in Charleston, I spent all of 0.47 seconds waiting for my Google search results. The answer was straightforward and unanimous: 82 Queen.

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We got reservations for Sunday brunch and asked for a courtyard table, which is a must, in my opinion. The place is spectacular! The restaurant consists of 11 dining rooms spread over three historical buildings with an enchanting patio between them. The outdoor tables are set amidst lush greenery, surrounded by palmettos decorated with fairy lights, and pleasantly shaded by a majestic magnolia tree. Some tables are set inside gazebos (with ceiling fans!), but ours was in the open, right under the tree. Such a treat!

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Naturally, we started with the soup, our very reason for being there. It did not disappoint! Velvety, richly-coloured from the roe, full of tasty blue crab, with a nice touch of sherry and crunchy little sprouts... yum! Served with customary crackers, although I wouldn't have said no to some fresh bread or a biscuit to mop up the last drops.

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jambalaya

After that, preferences were divided between three dishes. D and my mother opted for the pan-seared salmon (they ask you whether you want it medium or well-done), my father and brother went for the jambalaya (pleasantly spicy, full of shrimp, ham, and onion goodness), and I settled on the barbeque shrimp and grits.

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I have a strange relationship with shrimp and grits. I always make a point of trying them, even though I'm not such a fan of grits, which are like corn porridge. In the past, I've had plain grits, cheese grits, and grits made into something like corn bread. My opinion always was that there should be a little more shrimp and a little less grits. The shrimp and grits at 82 Queen, however, have won me over. Maybe it was the tangy BBQ sauce, or the bacon... whatever it was, it was good. Maybe the South is slowly seeping into my soul.

I doubt a restaurant that has been running and getting stellar reviews for the past 30-some years needs my approval, but... I approve. Beyond the unassuming fa├žade at 82 Queen street lies a sweet little gem of a restaurant: enchanting, welcoming, and heart-warmingly local. The she-crab soup is only the first course.

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