Action Craft, All in the Family

If you’ve ever wondered where I got my crafty genes, well —

From my mom, in Minnesota

From my aunt Missy, in Minnesota

They made these together and — get this — they’re both first-time quilters.  Beginner’s luck?  I think not.  Those are skillz, ladies.  Better yet — it was Missy’s first time using a sewing machine.  What?!

From Lynn in Minnesota

Lynn is like a second Mom, and has showered me with handmade gifts my entire life.  Maybe some of that talent wore off on me?  I’m quite proud to admit I got her hooked on Etsy — check out her shop.  The-beer-and-peanut-proof baseball game gear is the best.

More Action Craft love from Minnesota tomorrow.

Psst — photo gallery here, and more Action Craft info here.  Thanks!

More Action Crafts

From (my aunt!) Mickey in Minnesota, USA

I’ve never seen a quilt like this before!  It looks like Mickey made circle “blocks” then stitched them together, flattened the flaps, and tacked the flaps down using a fancy blanket stitch. (The reverse side of this quilt is all the same blue as the flaps.)

Mickey, am I right?  Does this design have a name?  Do tell!

From Susan in Minnesota, USA

Susan embroidered sweet messages in the corners.  Lovely!

Again, check out photos of all the Action Craft quilt and blanket donations here, and for more info on the project, try the link here.

Special thanks to my handsome model husband — handsome model, or model husband?  You decide.  (Hint, it’s both.)

More quilts tomorrow!

Action Crafts, cont.

Another batch of blankets for Action Craft:

From my friend Molly in Minnesota, USA

Molly has made me a few blankets over the years, and I spy some bits and pieces of leftover yarn in these.  I love it.

It must be a family affair over there! From Molly’s mom, Nancy, also in Minnesota

Beautiful.  I love this bundle of color.

It doesn’t stop there! Molly’s aunt also sent blankets. From Denise in Illinois, USA

Nice work, ladies!

You can see photos of all the donated Action Craft blankets on Flickr, and in previous posts here and here.

Still more to come…

Spring Sprung

Ahh, it feels like spring today. I hung some laundry to dry on the balcony and left the door wide open. The birds are chirping and blue sky is in sight (that is, beyond the power lines and skyscrapers).

I apologize to all my Minnesotan readers for my gratuitous boasting of springtime, since many of you probably still have snow on the ground in some places. OK, not really, but it is just so fun to jest.

It’s hanami time in Japan, which means everyone goes outside to picnic under the sakura, or cherry blossoms. I went for a walk yesterday and saw two people picnicking with champagne at 2 in the afternoon. Rightfully so, the sakura are lovely — and fleeting — they deserve proper celebration.

On Sunday Dan and I took a walk along the river in Nakameguro, which is lined on both side with sakura that were in full bloom.

The sakura in Tokyo are almost gone, blooms coming and going in a matter of days. I’m hoping this weekend gets a little windy, because I love to stand under the cherry trees and let the little white and pale-pink petals flutter around me. Perhaps it reminds me of snowfall in Minnesota.

OK, you’ve got me there.

My Heart Belongs to MN (Or, Musings on Lutefisk)

Minneapolis has been on my mind a lot these past few days.  No doubt the recent news of a gigantic snowstorm that dropped 17 inches (a half-ish meter) of powder in my parents’ yard has something to do with it.  (If you haven’t yet seen this video, you should check it out — it’s pretty incredible.)

I love snow.  I sometimes brag that, as a Minnesotan, I can naturally master the cold, but it’s all a lie.  I don’t like the cold (it is currently -2 degree F there now.  That is -19 degrees C.  Ouch.)  But you can’t have snow without it.  And I really miss the snow.

A friend shared a video of himself riding his bicycle to work in Minneapolis the morning after the storm — at 6:00 am the streets were totally quiet, and the crunch of packed snow under his tires and boots went straight to my heart.  The quiet of a post-snow darkened landscape is amazingly serene.  One of my favorite things to do in the snow is to just walk around in it.  Wearing Sorels in slightly plowed streets you can achieve premium crunch — the snow is packed just enough, yet you can keep your ankles dry (because really, once you wet your ankles it’s all downhill from there).

In the wake of my snow fantasy — yes, I know it is a snow-filled dreamland since I don’t have to shovel the driveway, pay gazillions to heat my house, or deal with wet ankles — I came across this MPR video about lutefisk, another ingredient to a true Minnesota winter:

This video put a huge smile on my face.  It is extremely well done and captures a charming sliver of Minnesota pretty accurately, in my opinion.  A few things to note while watching:

1. The explanation of flaky vs. snotty is spot-on.  I love how she assumes everyone knows what good walleye should look like.

2. Everything at the buffet is the same color.

3. The champ’s button — it says “Uff da.”  Exactly.  And his granddaughter is the definition of hard core.

4. I feel like I know every single person in this video — is that so wrong?

A few years ago my family gave up preparing lutefisk for Christmas dinner.  It is surprisingly expensive, perhaps because we opted not to lye-it-up ourselves.  My family finally admitted defeat. It was just too much money and effort to devote to a plate of wiggly stuff that most of the people at the table didn’t really care for anyway.

Though I know it might be dangerous to declare this in front of all my Aunts who I know are reading this (hi, Aunts!), if the tradition ever came back ’round, I wouldn’t be opposed.  My tastes have changed in recent years, and considering I now consume wiggly raw sea creatures almost daily, I might have a new opinion of the stuff.  That bottle of squeeze butter got me a little excited.

Just as long as you can provide a side of snow.

A note to my homeland, Minnesota

MN, you are damn cold.  Cold, as in I can’t believe you let it snow in May and rained out the only Twins game I’ll have tickets to in the next 2+ years.  Now that’s cold, MN.  Cold.

In other ways though, I have to say that you came through for me.  Beer brats, chicken wings and good ol’ fashioned apple pie were consumed.  Babies laughed and puppies cheered.  It was a seriously good time.

And because I want you to have a MN good time too, I’ll share with you my secret (right, as secret as that secret room in my parents’ house) recipe:

Beer brats

1 dozen brats

Beer, to cover (Don’t use your fancy micro-brew, that is just silly.  Be a man and use Coors Light.)

1 medium onion, roughly chopped

Place brats in a large saucepan or Dutch oven with the onions and cover with beer.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer until brats are almost cooked through.  Remove the brats and finish on grill.  Serve with sauerkraut, onions, pickle relish, and all other delicious tidbits.