Because I Need More Hobbies


When I staged-managed Sueno, I took my stipend and bought a sewing machine. When I signed on to stage manage The History Boys, I made a promise to myself that I'd use the stipend to take a class. What kind of class?

A Beautiful Mess

A weaving class!! A relative of mine is a fantastic weaver and I've always loved the look of handwoven items, so when I saw that the Portland Fiber Gallery offeedr weaving classes, I knew exactly what that stage management money was going to months before the check made it to my hand.


Tuesday night was my first lesson (taught by one of my knitting buddies no less) and I'm about a third? half? I've never done this before so I don't know how far I have left? -way through setting up the loom.  I can't believe I have to wait a whole week to work on it some more! I'll be posting progress as we go along.

Here's to learning!

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Fish and Finery

As promised I'm here with my latest sewing project and my mysterious 9-months in waiting project, which I just now realized could be construed as a pregnancy. It's not. It's goldfish.

Fish TankIf you've known me in the past 7 years or so, you may know that I love goldfish more than most people love goldfish. I've taken multi-state roadtrips with goldfish. I really like goldfish.  Our last Goldfish, Franklin died when we were in Chicago, and Mr. Cleaver , who had gotten quite attached, wasn't ready to commit to a new pet right away. When we decided to move back to Maine, I made Mr. Cleaver promise me that after we moved I could get a fish tank and some goldfish.

True to word, we got a 10 gallon tank/hood/filter set up on sale in mid-November. But as we were planning on going away for Thanksgiving, we figured we'd wait until we returned and the hustle and bustle of the holidays were over. Come the new year, we still had no fish, but more glaringly in our somewhat furniture-light apartment, no place to put the tank. We looked and looked, but found no suitable tank stand until a few weeks ago, while I was still working on the History Boys.

The show over and now May, we finally went and picked up a pair of lovelies. So without further ado, meet Gil:



And Jac.


They've adjusted nicely to their new home and are Mr. Cleaver and I are thrilled to have 'em.

You know what else makes me happy? Having time to sew and finishing a project in a day! The project?  Rae's Ruffle Top Tutorial from Sew Mama Sew!    

Summer Top

As soon as I saw it on the blog I knew I had to make it and picked up the great leaf cotton/bamboo fabric at Z Fabric and the contrasting green from JoAnn's.

I made a few modifications, namely the width of the bottom was limited to 1/2 the width of my fabric (I thik it ended up being 27" at the bottom), but I don't see that it made much difference. I also omitted the arm cutouts and side shaping, choosing to do a french seam on the sides and keep everything as simple as possible. I love the end result . It's pretty and airy and the perfect summer top. I think I shall be making at least one more this summer, which as someone who rarely makes patterns twice, is saying something.

Summer Top

Next up: An awesome start to summer!

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Getting Back in the Swing

The Booth

I certainly didn't intend to take a month-long hiatus, but life, as it is wont to do, often does it own thing. Having now had an entire week of evenings to do whatever I want to do with them I finally felt ready to come back.

Generally, I knit a lot and sew a little in the cooler months and sew a lot and knit less in the warmer ones. Despite tonight's frost warning, we are definitely edging into those warmer months here in Maine and the sewing bug is hitting me hard.

I made  pair of aprons back in March for my new York trip, but the last item of clothing I made was this skirt, back in December, which I don't think I ever showed here. 


Before I could jump into new projects though I made myself tackle my small mending pile first, so Saturday morning I sewed on some buttons and darned one of my handknit socks while making gardening shows on New Hampshire PBS. It was rather relaxing. Later that day Mr. Cleaver and I headed out to the theatre to watch a pair of readings and then went to try the famous fries at duckfat, which are seriously good.

Sewing Buttons

On Sunday, I started (and finished!) a new sewing project, as well as put something together that was nine-months in the waiting. Both of which I'll share later this week, when I've taken some photos.

It's good to be back.

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It's going to be quiet around here

I'm halfway through two weeks of rehearsals every night, so I'm not getting much down time. historyboysposter

That said, we open April 25th. This is a fantastic show so if you're in the Maine area I'd recommend making some reservations!

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Sunday Baking

Chocolate & Zuchinni

One of my ongoing goals this year is to cut as many processed foods out of my diet as I can. I'm looking into ways to consistently make my own bread (I've done some work with a bread machine and a friend lent me a copy of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, which I hope to try as soon as I have some room in the fridge to try it.) and I've been figuring out ways to make my favorite microwave and takeout foods from scratch (check back in about a week for my chicken pot pie recipe!). Come farmer's market season I'd like to look into some preserving.

Flour and eggs

Along these same lines, I've had a recurring thought about only eating sweets that I've made myself. Now I have the second-biggest sweet tooth I know and what with my schedule, I though that to only eat home-made sweets meant pretty much giving them up. I'm sure doctors and dentists would think that's plenty fine, but I like a good cookie, or piece of cake, brownie or slice of pie... you get the idea.

In any case, I'm thinking it's much more feasible than I originally thought. 

Rows of Cookies

I'm currently working full-time and rehearsing a play about 4 nights and one weekend day a week. I'm pretty busy. But for the past month I've found the time to bake every Sunday. 

I don't own a mixer (I find mixing by hand both bicep-building and relaxing) and my kitchen is ill-designed for any kind of food-making, but I'm getting the job done. And I love putting on an apron from my collection and baking.

Sugar- Crusted Orange Cake

A few weeks back it started with "le gateau piege" from Chocolate and Zucchini, a Cleaver house-hold favorite.

Chocolate & Zuchinni Cake

Then it was the titular Chocolate & Zucchini cake from the C&Z cookbook, which was dense and moist.

Honey Spice Bread

Having good luck with Clotilde, I made the Honey-Spice Loaf from the same cookbook. We like it warm with butter.

Around Wednesday this week I asked Mr. Cleaver what he wanted. He didn't have any suggestion, so I decided to troll the recipe index on my other favorite food site, Smitten Kitchen, where I came across these:

Homemade Oreos

Homemade oreos!

These are just like the ones in the store, but way better, especially slightly warm. As noted in the recipe, I used the lesser amount of sugar in the cookies, and if Mr. Cleaver had his way, I wouldn't have frosted any. As it was I only needed half the frosting called for, but I highly recommend them. And some soothing Sunday afternoon baking.

Do you have a favorite baking recipe? Send along recipes and links and I'll be happy to give them a go!

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When I moved to Maine, I decided that I wanted to walk more and Mr. Cleaver agreed. We both love to stroll together, in Chicago, we'd jaunt up to Andersonville. Here in Portland, we've ended up in a neighborhood tailor-made for the leisurely stroll. Then houses are lovely to walk along and the other evening we saw some little brown bats in action at the far end of street, there's also Baxter Woods which is a 6/10 mile loop through deciduous and evergreen trees, and then there's Evergreen Cemetery.


Now before you start thinking that I've gone all morbid and spend all my time hanging out in cemeteries, I say fear not. It's just that cemeteries are some the best keep green-spaces ina lot of urban environments, if you don't mind weaving between headstones. I always loved the idea that in the early 1900s people used to have picnics in graveyards. I don't know why the shift occured, but there are plenty of people wandering the trails at Evergreen, so I'm not alone.


I also love the history of graveyards. Who were these people, why did this one deserve a monument, while this person hardly a stone at all?  What happened to the wife on the headstone listed below her husband with a birth, but no death date; and how horrible to lose someone at sea.

Duck Pond

As an added bonus, Evergreen has a trio of duck ponds, filled with Mallards that will eagarly take your stale bread. We also saw what might have been a cormorant. I'd really loved to get a book on the local flora and fauna so I could identify it all.



And my favorite season is knocking at the door!

In a quick round-up of other news. I had my second interview on Monday, but alas, no job there, though the interview went (I felt) very well.

We found a great dresser for $10 at a garage sale this weekend, so I am no longer living out of a suitcase, which is fnatastic for one's pysche. I've also made what seems like an endless series of trips to Target and Walmart to get all the little things, like a toaster or a vacuum.

The book club is reading Watership Down, and I raced through it. I forgot how wonderfully thrilling that book is. Next up on my reading list is Richard Russo's Empire Falls, then I plan to do a survey of New England Poets - feel free to send along any suggestions.

I'm about a third of the way done with the first sleeve on my Forecast sweater and I picked up some lovely leather buttons for it on sale at JoAnn's yesterday. I'm also about halfway through sewing a Kasia skirt out of thick navy blue linen. I'm feeling very confident about my sewing on this piece, though if anyone has a trick for making sure you iron the interfacing on the right side of the fabric I'd love to hear it! I also managed to pick up a great vintage navy blue linen dress/jacket combo at Material Objects, it's an almost exact match in color to the skirt, so I can mix it up with the jacket. I'll post pictures when I get a chance.

I'm assisting my friend Peter on a reading of the play The History Boys for Mad Horse Theatre, I'm not sure the exact date of the reading yet, but I'm excited to be involved!

Our internet is supposed to get hooked up on the 23rd, which I can't wait for, and will hopefully increase the regularity of my posting. Until then - I'm off to enjoy the fall weather!

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