Making dog toys

Have you ever seen those fleece rope dog toys at the pet stores? Well, my dog loves them. In addition, they aren’t as messy as a typical knotted or hemp type rope where little strings can be left behind. I realized right away that I could make fleece ropes with all the left over fleece from other projects (the trendy term for this is upcycle). I’ve now made more ropes than I can count for my dog and all of her friends.

I just completed two new rope gifts for some doggies I’ll be visiting soon.

Instructions: cut 3 strips of fleece. The thicker the strip, the thicker the today. Knot at one end. Braid. Knot at the other end. Play tug with a happy dog!

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Making a bike trip to see the knitted trees!

It is 5 pm on a Friday. I grab my bike leaning against my cubicle wall, strap my purse to the rack, throw on my helmet and roll up my pants. I am ready to ride.

Down one flight of stairs and out the front door. Through the parking lot and gate, under Mopac and into the Domain. I watch the shoppers cross the street with their packages as I ride by. South on Kramer, I see a few folks waiting for the MetroRail to head downtown using the special weekend extended service.

Metric, Parkfield, and across 183. The weather is gorgeous and the drivers friendly. I follow the confusing bike route that gets me across Anderson Lane without getting lost this time. On to Woodrow, a wonderful route to ride. Woodrow is an eclectic mix of Austin, all on one wide road with a nice bike lane. Small old houses meticulously cared for. Larger houses that aren’t. Big, modern houses with every environmental friendly upgrade imaginable belonging to Austin’s rich nestled between. Lovely xeriscaped yards, my favorite. The house with the chicken coop that we visited last year during the  Funky Chicken Coop Tour (Try it sometime!). Riding Woodrow has almost too much to gawk at and I find myself not watching the road as closely as I should.

I turn left on North Loop and ride past the vintage stores. Some random little band plays out in front of the shopping plaza. It is SXSW after all.

The turn on to Duval always surprises me. The trees cover the bike route and street sign but I remember this obstacle and find the turn. Duval has a nice smooth bike lane, old houses, and large trees that make for a peaceful ride. I make the turn by Posse East and smell the French fries.

On to San Jacinto and its smooth thoroughfare. It’s spring break so only a few students are on campus. A lonely maintenance worker drives a golf cart.

On to MLK and the Blanton Museum of Art. I am attracted there by the “Knitted Wonderland” exhibit where the trees have knitted cozies on their trunks. Being a knitter myself, I’m awed by the encompassing exhibit and the sheer number of tree trunks covered.  I get in the way of a group of skateboarders in the plaza while looking for my husband. They’re polite though and I don’t realize I’m in their way until I leave. We wander around in the trees snapping photographs and then head further south for some SXSW action.

Riding into central Austin during the spring just can’t be beat.

Author’s note: this was also posted to Austin on Two Wheels.

Vodka infusions!

So it may or may not be a surprise to you that vodka is my favorite alcohol to add to drinks. I love my Bloody Marys, the spicier the better, and my drink is not completed until it’s garnished with home-pickled green beans!

When someone first sent me vodka infusion recipes on Kitchen Konfidence I just knew I had to make the infusions at some point. Now that we’ve skipped spring in Texas and are straight into hot summer weather I decided it was time. I selected the Watermelon Rosemary infusion because I love watermelon. While I don’t really like grapefruit, I had to try the Grapefruit Tarragon infusion because of the drink it was featured in – a Salted Tarragon Greyhound. Not only is it a beautiful looking drink, it’s also a bit salty and it’s named after a dog! Some people even think my mutt is part greyhound (she’s not, she’s too slow). Soon I hope to enjoy the Watermelon Rosemary vodka in the Rosebud recipe as well.  I’ll have to get the ingredients to mix the drinks this weekend.

Anyhow, here was my experience making the infusions.

Slicing up the grapefruit. Such a pretty fruit but such a gross taste to me! Notice the bottle of Tito’s in the background. It’s my favorite vodka AND it’s local. Win!

The first step was to put the fruit in the vodka and let it infuse for four days. Somehow I lost those pictures, but after four days you add the herbs.  Here’s the grapefruit with the tarragon:

And the watermelon with rosemary from my giant rosemary bush in the garden:

Those mixtures sat for two more days and tonight I strained them using a fine mesh strainer. I tried to get a decent amount of the liquid out of the fruit.

The finished product! The grapefruit infusion is on the left and watermelon on the right. Can’t wait for a delicious drink!

Keeping the sun out

Today I made something very boring. I took our old screen door and replaced the screen in it with sun screen to keep those harsh Texas rays out of our house this summer. Our old sliding door had a film on it to block the sun but the new one does not. I find that using a sun screen works better than trying to apply one of those films yourself.

Now, I just need to build the screen frame for the other side of the door and figure out how in the world to attach it…. that should be easy right?

Making my jeans fit

The average height of women in the US is 5’ 4”. I wish jeans makers would read that wikipedia article.

Anyhow, when I go jeans shopping, I get to look for the length “short” or shop in the petite section despite being fairly close to average height. On my last jeans shopping trip even the “short” jeans were way too long. They fit so perfectly every where else that I brought them home with me and decided just to wear them with heels. Unfortunately only my tallest heels could be worn which wasn’t very practical.

The solution? The internet. It taught me how to hem my own jeans. I found a number of sets of instructions but ended up following the instructions on the Cardigan Empire.  Luckily, despite my only mediocre sewing skills, I have a super fancy sewing machine given to me by my mom who used to work at a sewing machine company.

Pinning the jeans to the right length:

The sewing machine all set up with a zipper foot, the needle size for jeans, and some dark gray thread:

The finished product after ironing! I think they’ll do.

Making Stir Fry

Like most people, my husband and I like stir fry. The problem is that every time we try to make it at home, it’s bland at best despite following tasty sounding recipes.

Every so often we forget that we’re bad at making stir fry and give it another go. This time, I was persuaded to try yet again by two things. This blog post from Yard Farm, ATX about how to roast cabbage by tossing it in olive oil with some salt and pepper. It suggests using the roasted cabbage as a noodle substitute and I do love some cabbage. Then, the most recent Vegetarian Times magazine had a section on Asian dishes, including one for Stir Fried Rice Noodles. The recipe calls for rice noodles, asparagus, sugar peas, eggs, green onion and a sauce. It looked amazing.

Luckily for us, it turned out delicious this time, despite the changes I made to the recipe.

The recipe in Vegetarian Times:

Asparagus and Sweet Peas ready to be cooked, sliced green onion, minced garlic:

Eggs being cooked omelette style, to be sliced up later:

Rice noodles soaking in hot water (we didn’t completely replace them with cabbage):

Sweet peas, asparagus, and garlic cooking:

Roasted cabbage – oh man, this was so good I just ate it by itself:

All ingredients together, simmering in the sauce: