stitching, bike baskets, and cupcakes

Stitches used in this portion include:

  • Petit cross stitch (over a single square of 28-count evenweave)
  • Irish stitch (which is really just a bargello variation)

This weekend was the Fremont Art & Wine Festival, so I made sure to avoid that end of town. It’s just way too much of a crowd for me to handle anymore; plus they have the same crap every year, anyway.

I rode my bicycle all the way down Decoto into Union City, because I haven’t been really far on the new bicycle yet and I wanted to see how it rode over the course of a few miles. It’s excellent, very smooth and easy.

I found a plastic basket at Daiso for only $4, it’s basically like a basket you’d use in a grocery store. I attached it to the rack with zip ties and tried it out with a bag of cat litter, to make sure having weight behind me didn’t cause the bicycle to drag or throw off my gravity. It works great, I couldn’t even really tell I was hauling an extra 10 pounds or so. It’s going to work out really well for groceries.

I poked around in Marina Foods after I went to Daiso. It’s right next door, and I haven’t been in there for a while, since Ranch 99 is right down the street. It’s bigger than Ranch 99 and they have 3 whole aisles of sweets. I found blueberry Pocky, which I didn’t even know existed! And also they have those mushroom-shaped cookies that I could only find in Japantown before.

Lately for some reason I’ve been craving cupcakes, so Saturday when I got home I made these:

Red Velvet Cupcakes

  1. With a mixer, cream 1/2 cup unsalted butter with 1 1/2 cups of white sugar.
  2. Add 2 eggs, 1 cup of whole milk, 1 oz. red food coloring, 1 tsp. vanilla extract, and 1 tbsp. white vinegar. Mix well.
  3. Sift in 2 cups of flour, 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda, 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, and 1 tsp. salt. Mix well.
  4. Pour into greased cupcake tins (or use paper liners, but I never do, I have really great non-stick tins) and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.
  5. Allow to cool and frost with desired frosting. I used dark chocolate. I don’t think that’s traditional, I seem to recall red velvet cakes usually have a pale frosting, vanilla or buttercream; but you know what? My cupcakes, my rules!

Makes 15 cupcakes.

Also, here is some graffiti I saw on the bus Friday evening:

Speaking of buses, I had a driver this morning who’s apparently never drove my route before, because he drove right past the business district where the school is without turning in. I was like excuse me, and he goes “Oh, this bus doesn’t go in there.” So what you’re telling me is that every driver I’ve had for the past year and a half has made the same mistake every day? And all those little bus stop signs with the same number as this bus are what, just decoration?

I made him make a U-turn and go back. Honestly, it’s not my intention to be a bitch most of the time, but it’s like circumstances force me into it. I mean, I wasn’t just going to meekly sit there, then either backtrack a mile (including over a freeway overpass), or take the next bus in the other direction, both options which would have made me late for work. If he had just said “Oops sorry, I’m new”, I would have totally understood. But no, he has to treat me like I’m some kind of fucking idiot. I use the bike rack and have a monthly pass; neither of things should scream “NOVICE BUS RIDER”. Obviously I’m going to know when not just my stop, but an entire portion of the route gets skipped.

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stitching, zombies, and fountain pens

My little exercise in bargello went well! I might even frame this. I think I can now say I have mastered the stitch.

This is a fairly large project I’ve been meaning to make for a while. It’s a true sampler in that it “samples” different techniques. Already in this little start, in addition to regular cross stitch I’ve also used: Padded satin stitch; rhodes; Smyrna crosses; mosaic stitch; rice stitch; and one of my personal favorites, blackwork. It also uses variegated and metallics in addition to regular floss. The darker metallic was supposed to be a copper, but I couldn’t find it at Michael’s (and since I stopped driving, going to a bunch of different places looking for one 99-cent item is too much of a pain in the rump), so I improvised by blending a strand of reddish-brown regular floss with a thin gold embroidery thread. I think it worked out quite well.

Saturday I needed to go to the Hub to mail Granny’s pillowcase from the UPS store, and thought I’d pop into Borders and get a new book. During my morning channel-surfing I caught parts of both Shaun of the Dead and Dawn of the Dead. So with that in mind I decided on World War Z, which so far is a decision I do not regret at all because it’s fucking awesome. I think I’ll read his other book too, The Zombie Survival Guide.

Was George Romero the first guy to come up with the whole zombies-attacking-and-eating-people thing, or did he just popularize it? Because in Vodoun, zombies aren’t really scary. The fear is of becoming a zombie, not of zombies themselves. Zombies are seen as more pitiful than anything to fear. And they certainly don’t eat people. That must have been just a weird mistranslation between cultures or something.

Lastly, I finally found a place to buy my favorite pens, the Pilot Petit 1. Before I had to trek all the way to Japantown, but thanks to the Pen Addict blog, I discovered JetPens. I ordered a couple of pens and a bunch of colored ink refills (it’s a fountain pen) on Friday, and I got them the next day! It helps that they ship from Mountain View, which is in the next county south from mine. Anyway, if you’re into pens, I recommend them.

variegated floss cross stitch sampler & 2 small projects

All done! I really wish photos did this justice, the cloth is actually a deep tan color that contrasts really lovely with the bright, rich colors. And the floss itself is much more vibrant that it appears in photos.

The spots are just water from being sprayed with a mister.

And this is a just a little sachet I whipped up Saturday afternoon, stuffed with dried lavender. I did another autumn-themed one too, but I don’t have any stuffing left so I didn’t bother to finish it.

And this is a little something I started Sunday evening. It’s really more of an exercise than a serious project. This is a stitch called Bargello, sometimes called Florentine. This is actually a needlepoint pattern, but Bargello can also be used in embroidery, so I’m doing it on linen even-weave. Like I said, it’s not a serious project; I just really like the stitch and want to practice it, and see what it looks like when you fill a large area in with it.