Archive for January, 2009

Jars, or A Tale of Hoarding

Maybe it’s the cold. Maybe it’s the engagement, a preparation to marry. Maybe it’s my Mister is far away. Or the uncertain economy.

I’m crazy lately about glass jars, jarring things, putting things up in jars, drinking from jars, storing all kinds of grains and beans and veg and soup in jars. I thrift them, like this bicentennial 1976 Ball Jar in blue. I save them after the olives are gone. 

1976 Bicentennial Ball Jar

Case and point: Jars of yogurt and jars of chicken broth made from a whole little Cermak Market broiler in the fridge. Yogurt consumed from jar for lunch. Ditto for chicken broth this week.

Chicken broth

This week the remainders got combined into Turkish yogurt soup, seasoned with dried mint kept since the summer in old quilted jelly jars. Now soup’s stored in jars from green olive and marinated eggplant to take to work.


I like the way they look, lined up and irregular, full of different colored things. I like the permanence of storage in canning jars. I like recycling them in my own house.

A promise of Love: Save it

We’re getting married! In May in the old part of Philadelphia. And now that locations and invite lists are settled, it’s time to do fun stuff now!


I love the man whose life is getting joined to mine, and he’s a reporter, too. I don’t love the wedding industry and all the consumerism, and how it turns people who love each other as families and friends against each other with so many “musts.” Our inner  reporter proves too skeptical to take wedding salesladies at their word (I’ve gotten through a bunch of stores without uttering the word, claiming accurately that it’s a Very Fancy Party.) 

So we decided to skip some of the nonsense, and recreate some other nonsense ourselves.

Here’s how we asked family and friends to save the date: We think it’s amazingly good news. 

 Neatly separated

I found the engraved liberty bell and old-timey poster fingers online. The party’s going to be in the old Philadelphia Public Ledger, the city’s first penny newspaper, and one of the original front pages had “fancy” ads introduced by such a pointing finger.

Printed out the postcards, two to a page, on a regular printer, using good cardstock from the Hobby Lobby.
Printed out

Then my dad helped us trim and separate them using his original carpenter’s square from when he first became an apprentice. If I’m 32, he went through carpentry school maybe 35 years ago.
Cut with a utility knife and carpenter's square

We marked the back side of a glass cutting board and sliced through with a utility knife.

Separating cards

I think I’ll use postcards as much as possible. You get the news faster when there’s no envelope.

And one for big mama, too.

Mama’s shirt took more time and more hair-pulling compared with Poppa’s. I found this Buddha t-shirt for $1 at one of my favorite Salvy’s in the world early in her pregnancy.

mama shirt-before

Finally got the nerve to chop it right before her baby shower but didn’t quite make the deadline.

Anyway, she had about six weeks to wear it and seems to love it and it turned out a perfect fit.

mama shirt-design

I had to buy a new craft T and opted with a fitted one from JoAnn because Mama has a small and delicate frame, and I wanted the top of the top to fit her nicely.

mama shirt-base

So the logo was going over her belly. I thought about chopping the bottom off the plain T, but I ended up chopping the belly out of it, and fitting the logo back on. I also chopped about three inches off the bottom hem off the big logo T to make a tie – and to keep the nice hem. 

The logo part got gathered on the sides, to make a pocket big enough for a full-term belly and sewn back on across the front and sides.

Look how cute she is!"Mama" in finished shirt

Check out this how-to.

How to…make one maternity T out of two Ts

mama shirt-after

This surgery makes a cute maternity top with hip sash from a small plain T-shirt and a giant logo-printed shirt. You use the logo shirt as a sort of pocket for the big belly.

Make sure the top T-shirt fits the top of your lady’s frame. mama shirt-base
Measure where the belly starts to protrude (right under the bosom) and mark with chalk. Carefully cut across the front (only the front) of the shirt. To open the sides up, measure about an inch away from the T’s side seam on the front and cut.

Figure out where you want the logo to go.
mama shirt-logo
Cut across the giant T right below the arms, and slice up the back to open up the fabric. Fit the logo into the front and trim accordingly. The logo fabric should hang down below the hem of the plain T a few inches.   

Chop off the hem of the giant shirt. mama shirt-hem
If you have room, chop  off a few inches at the bottom of the giant shirt and put that fabric aside to reuse the finished hem.

Gather the logo. mama shirt-gather front
With a long basting stitch, baste the top of the logo piece and along the sides. Pin the center top of the logo piece to the center of the plain front. Pull the gathering threads until the it fits. Pin. Baste in place if you like.

Fit the sides. Pull the gathering threads on the sides of the logo piece, too, fitting the fabric along the base T’s sides. Pin. Baste if you like and sew into place. Sew the top, too. (I used a wide zigzag.) 

Finish the bottom. If you chopped off the hem of the giant T, pin roughly the center back of it to one side of the shirt. Pin along so you have a sort of sash at the bottom, easing so the sash ends up longer than the shirt. Remember the front of your new shirt is a lot bigger than the back. Stitch.


mama shirt-after

Big Poppa for Teeny Baby

My dear friends are getting a baby in a few weeks. So of course we made them some presents. The bebe gets a blanky, a giant square of a blanky crocheted from fun Hobby Lobby yarn in circus colors. Mama, like me, isn’t into pastels and is convinced the most unisex color of all is red.

Mama I adore, but Poppa is my colleague and original tie to the family. And since we’re not particularly into indulging the demands of teeny babies, Poppa — our loyal date to summer rock and roll concerts, our link to Boris and the Hold Steadies — has our sympathy and especial love.

Poppa also has fab taste in music and a demeanor best described as  generally nonplussed. At any rate, he’s not into pastel schtuff either, and wasn’t likely to receive any special presents at this weekend’s bebefest, so we made him one to treasure.

And he did love it when we called him, at the shower, Big Poppa, comme ca:

 daddy shirt-after

Really. My mister is loving freezer paper stencils since watching me craft a Halloween costume from a yellow t-shirt. We were Pat Hughes and Ron Santo of WGN’s The Pat and Ron Show, and since Pat – the literal play-by-play broadcast man is so very boring, I had to invent his costume and dress him in a t-shirt of one of the show’s sponsors, Square D, (Part of the Power of Wrigley Field).

But I digress. Mister saw the custom Square-D shirt and became convinced we could copy the method. So we fought over WHICH Biggie Smalls song to print onto a shirt. He voted for the “One More Chance Remix”, featuring the opening lyric, “First things first, I Papa,” and continuing in a filthy manner.

It’s not that  I vetoed, it’s only that I had to cut out the letters and “Big Poppa,” as in, “I love it when they call me”, would be easier to chop out of freezer paper and also would fit better across Poppa’s front.

Anyway, enjoy the effect of a freezer paper stencil. We used this velveteen finish paint from the JoJo if only because it was the only black finish available in the small bottle. 

daddy shirt-texture

I’d buy it again specially since it worked very simply; you wait until the paint dries, then hold your very steamy iron about half an inch away and watch the paint rise and get a velvety texture. Plus it comes readily at the JoJo.

daddy shirt-design after
If I had Poppa’s shirt to do again, I might have the Mister cut out the other parts of the design. Maybe we cut the wrong negative space???

Anyhoo, my how-to is here.