Craft, Europe, Fashion, Travel, Uncategorized

No Worries 

I’m currently on hour #25 of no sleep.  

Cab ride selfie

 
When we exited the airport, Jake picked the first cab driver he came to. As we were loading in the car, he said, I’ve heard Italians drive kinda crazy. I think he just has a knack for picking the crazy ones (see Thailand taxi post for reference)

About two seconds into the drive, I found that he’d heard right. The speed limit was 110 km per hour. We were traveling at a hefty 155 km/hour. I didn’t do the math, but I knew it was fast. Faster than I was really comfortable with. And my comfort level for speed is probably higher than the average person. (For those of us in the mph world, 155 km/hr = about 96 mph). People always say have a safe flight, but what they should say is have a safe cab ride once you get there. 

  
After arriving at our hotel and dropping our bags, they informed us that we would need to wait to check in. So, we went in search of a restaurant. I’m pretty much a zombie at this point and as I was coming out of the subway station, a man from Senegal came up and proceeded to tie a bracelet on my wrist. 

  
This is a common market tactic. Their rule of thumb seems to be: if they can get it on you, you have to buy it. This bracelet was tied on before I knew it and the guy was wanting paid for it. Unfortunately for him, I always have no money. I don’t carry a bag or a wallet or anything with me. So, after explaining to him that I had nothing, he let me go with a handshake and a hakuna matata. A problem free philosophy that results in a free bracelet? I’ll take that any day. 

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Craft, Dessert, Farm, Food

I Think I Can…

There is nothing like homemade bread. Nothing. I have been craving it for days. Mostly because I just finished reading a book about the Russian autocracy and it mentioned bread quite a bit. So, next on my list to bake: Russian black bread. I’ll let ya know how that goes. The thing about baking bread is it’s a process. This one is a 12 hour process, with all the rising and such that has to take place. So, you can’t just have it when you want it. You have to plan for it. Which probably makes it taste that much better. This is one of my classics: maple oat bread. I found the recipe in the Spring and I think I’ve made it a dozen times since then. It’s so good!

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You know what goes great on bread? Homemade jam. Which I made a few weeks ago for the very first time. Out of mulberries I picked. How much more down home do you get than that?

Fresh picked mulberries

Fresh picked mulberries

I have always wanted to try my hand at canning, so I got up the nerve and finally did it. We were going to visit our friends while in Canada, so I thought mulberry jam seemed like an appropriate gift. TSA agreed with me after they checked all my carefully bubble wrapped jars. After they went through it, they probably thought it was a grandma’s bag. But, nope, just me, a twenty something girl, hauling jam across international borders.

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If you’re going to make jam, you need to have a bunch of sugar. Like so much sugar that it literally made me feel a little anxious. I never use that much sugar for anything. Plus, I had just watched a documentary on the decay of America’s eating habits and how sugar is to blame for that. So, expert tip: don’t watch a sugar doc right before making jam.

Also to make jam, you need a whole bunch of fancy utensils that you can dirty up. Just go ahead and take out half the dishes you have and plan to get a sticky purple mess all over them. The instructions said I would need a special pot that had a basket for the jars to go in. You fill the pot up with boiling water, then completely submerge your jars in a few different steps. Well, I didn’t have the fancy pot or a mason jar basket. So, I improvised and used a steamer basket, the spaghetti noodle pot, and a pair of tongs. Was it the most practical? No. Did two pairs of tongs get hung up in the steamer basket at the same time and nearly spill boiling water everywhere? Yes. Did it work even though it wasn’t the fancy set up I should have had? Yes.

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After making the jam, I had a little leftover, so I made a jar and didn’t seal it. Since I needed an expert opinion on whether or not the jam was good, I asked a friend to take the extra jar home and test it out. Turns out the cup holders in my car fits a jam jar perfectly. And I got his seal of approval. Pun definitely intended.

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Have jam. Will travel.

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Auto, Cars, Craft

Learning Curve

There always comes a time in life where the road meets the rubber. Or in my case, where the needle meets the needle plate. Except when the needle can’t meet the needle plate. Or when you’re learning to drive a standard and having trouble getting the road and rubber to meet. Which would both be the case with me.

Re-learning to drive...

Re-learning to drive…

I take most of our orders for screenprinting and embroidery, especially since January when we hired my dad and I became permanently chained to the inbox. However, my brother will occasionally take an order, without my knowledge. Which is fine. Until he tells a customer I can do something for them that I don’t know how to do. It is at this point that I get a little flustered. Because learning new things is difficult. Especially when you are on a timeline and have someone wanting to pay you to do said new thing to a high standard of quality. Not ideal circumstances to learn. But, no one asked me. Obviously.

Embroidering hats

Embroidering hats

I have finally become proficient at running the embroidery machine. It is a single head with 15 needles and on most days, we get along just fine with one another. But, with 20 hats with puff embroidery thrown in the mix about ended our relationship.

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Puff embroidery is a new ballgame. It is essentially taping craft foam onto a cap and sewing over it to create a raised effect. Sounds pretty simple, but there are a lot of technicalities that are unaccounted for. So after a few phone calls to a technical support line (me and Juan, the phone operator, now know each other on a first name basis and I have an open invitation to dinner if I am ever in the Houston area) and endless explanations for why my machine was acting up, I got it right.

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I wish I could say I’d mastered driving in the same way. I can do it, I just need a lot of practice. So, my practice course of choice? A dirt road. Good decision, not much traffic. But, a dirt road that ends with a hill that pulls out onto the highway on a corner: bad decision. I put the clutch in, had the brake down, and when I judged it was clear, I let the brake and clutch off and slammed on the gas. Which resulted in some major gravel slinging and the tires taking off out from under themselves and nearly landing me in the opposite ditch. So, I’m basically as good as I expected I’d be.

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But, I am getting better. And eventually, I’ll get really good at it. It might take awhile, but I’ll get there. In the words of one of my missionary friends: life’s about the journey, not the destination. So, I’m gonna keep learning new things even when it’s hard and avoid hills in a standard at all costs.

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