Looking for some very special volunteers…the 60-Day Project

Mammafish (aka my mum) : Do not read this post. I repeat – avert your eyes and click away now!

WOW! YOUR RESPONSE HAS BEEN PHENOMENAL! I’M CLOSING COMMENTS ON THIS POST NOW BECAUSE I DON’T KNOW HOW I’M EVER GOING TO HAVE TIME TO MAKE GIFTS FOR ALL OF YOU! THANK YOU!

So here’s the deal kids – my dear, sweet Mammafish has a milestone birthday coming up very soon. I have been trying so hard to think of something unique and special to give her, because here’s the deal : she’s got 6 kids, and this is her 60th birthday, so she’s had her share of “oh, how sweet, another mug. I love it!” gifts. She has always been grateful in her motherly way, but I’d like to try and mix it up a little. I’m going to be honest : budget is a huge issue for me, and though I have had some fun ideas, nothing really jumped out at me and screamed “This is it!”.

Until now.

Introducing “The 60 Days of Gifts” project!

My genius plan (if I do say so myself) is to send my mum a series of gifts over 60 days – beginning on April 3 (meaning, I hope to have the first gift arrive by the 3rd, her birthday). We celebrate “Birthday Week” at the Fish household, meaning special favours for the birthday girl or boy for a week, but this is an amplified version!

I am planning on sending her a few special gifts from France, but I’m looking for a few very special volunteers to also send her a little something. Like what? Well, I’m thinking some nice chocolate, not a lot mind you – where not going for piling lavish gifts on the woman (though I would love to), but to have this wonderful wave of love washing little treasures into her mailbox. I mean, who doesn’t love receiving mail? And surprises? Or maybe something small and handmade like a beautiful card or an embroidered tea towel – just something small, sweet and sincere. Again, chocolate is always a good idea.

But Shellyfish, we all think you’re mum is probably cool and all, but why would we send her anything? I mean, she’s a total stranger, and we don’t even send our own mothers gifts often enough.

I am indeed picking up what you are laying down my friends. Here’s the deal, once my sweet mumma has received her little gift from you, I’ll send you a little something special from me. Ta Da!

What will I send you? I’m going to be honest, I’m not sure yet because I need to first see how many people want to play along, but it will be something handmade and not too heavy to ship from France. Or, I could reciprocate the favour and send some yummy French chocolate to you or your loved one of choice for a birthday at a later date (or right now, darn it!). I’m thinking maybe an embroidered notebook or something similar. I would also be open to suggestions. It’s like a kind of “Pay It Forward” except that the birthday girl doesn’t give anything – she just gets to receive lots of love from all over the world and feel very special.

Once I have an idea of how many people might like to play along, I’ll contact you and give you more specifics such as the date you need to send (or hand-deliver if you’re near-by) your little envelope of love out by – because we don’t want everything arriving on the same day! Just to be clear, she lives in the U.S.A., so that’s something to consider as far as shipping goes.

I’m really excited about this! I think it’ll be fun, and I especially hope it will be something very special for her. I can’t wait to see what your response is! Please feel free to comment me any questions and I’ll update the post to be more specific if need be.

Wwweeeeeeee!!!!!!!

Bookmaking & Birthday Gifts (and an ugly yet delicious cupcake)

I’ve been wanting to blog about my newest favourite creative obsession outlet, but thought it would be better to wait until I had a little more to show you. I wanted to explain the why’s and how’s, give you the soul behind the groove…

But I just can’t wait because it’s so fun!

embroidered-notebook

I am in love with making these notebooks! Don’t you love the unfinished, just raveld enough edges? I think they look so natural. Sometimes I wonder if it’s normal to enjoy sewing into paper so much, because it’s the bee’s knees. I promise a more in-depth post soon, but you know when you’re into something and you just have to share it? This little cupper is actually on its way to a very sweet Birthday Girl. It doesn’t have far to go, but I don’t think it’s going to make it in time. Sigh.

These notebooks have become my birthday gift idea par excellence, and I’m working on a few others right now. I’ve done a pretty good job honoring my Handmade Pledge, and this is a great way for me to send something from the heart and hands. I’ve been using Moleskine (over-priced) and faux-Moleskine (far more reasonable but difficult to find) notebooks, but I’m going to be making my own soon (that’ll be part of the part 2 of this post!).

Rather than typing this post, I should be embroidering this :

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It’s going to be for a notebook for my nephew’s birthday. These groovy little carp are from this book :

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I bought it last summer when visiting the U.S. I think it’s a great book for embroidery beginners (like me!) because it gives a good explanation of some basic techniques and has some fun project ideas, and though not all of them are really my cup of tea, I’ve enjoyed flipping through the pages for inspiration. I’m excited to use a design from this book for the first time.

I’ll be posting a proper bookmaking W.I.P. soon, promis, juré!

Did you happen to see the whiteout cakes that were taking over the Internet last week? If not you can visit Honey B or Natalia to see how beeeutiful they looked. They got me dreaming of deep, dark chocolate and frosting and since Guppy & I are on vacation, we decided to make some cupcake love…

whiteout-cupcake

Clearly not as fancy as it could have been, but very fun to make with Guppy, and even more fun to eat! We just used the chocolate cupcake recipe from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World, but I doubled the cocoa (because I’m punk rock like that) and we made a variation on the fluffy buttercream recipe. Betcha want one, too!

Birthday Recap Time, Kids!

Thank you from the bottom of my little vegan heart for all of your love, electronic and virtual well wishes and other forms of birthday cheer. Birthdays are generally a very big deal for us- we normally celebrate “Birthday Girl (or Boy) Week”, but it’s been a bumpy little time here in Fishland, and my birthday was all but brushed under the rug – until some super friends and blogging buddies like YOU came along to make me feel all special and stuff. I won’t blather on, just know that I feel so grateful for you all. (Snif, snif).

It wouldn’t be a birthday without cake, right?

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This scrumptious carrot cake from Vegan With A Vengeance has been all over the blogosphere of late. I’m usually a lemon cake or tofu cheese cake kind of gal, but when I saw Virginia’s carrot cake from VWAV last week, I gave into the peer pressure. Know why I’ve never made it? I can’t find vegan cream cheese here, and I didn’t want to make it without “right” frosting! Sillyfish. I opted for an almond & coconut buttercream, which wasn’t too shabby. I added about 1/2 cup crushed pineapple to the cake (because for me, if a carrot cake is sans pineapple, it’s just a wanna-be) and used a little less pineapple juice – it worked out just splendidly!

Now for the gifts!

stylish-dress1

I asked Monsieur Fish for this Japanese Couture book from Pomodor24 (Highly recommend her! She has a shop on Etsy, too). He seemed incredulous and felt obliged to remind me I don’t read Japanese, but when I insisted that I’d be able to understand the diagrams and patterns, and that many other stitchy folks who lacked the Japanese skillz managed to sew some beautiful dresses from this book so why not me, he did acquiesce (though I didn’t know it! I was indeed a happysurprisedfish when I opened the mail). Look at how beautiful some of these are!

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Now I just need to find me some perdy fabric and I will be all over this! That being said, have any of you made anything from this book? Cause, you know, it’s in Japanese! Ahem. I’ll figure it out, duh! (whispers: but you can email me if you’ve made something so I can see it on your blog & bug you with questions, right?). Whew.

And you need these to cut fabric for a new dress, right?

moms-gift

My sweet parents sent me these! They actually came in a few days before my birthday (meaning I’ve been able to use them) and man, they cut through four layers of cordoroy like non-dairy buttah, baby! Just shows you, getting by with any old tool is possible, but using the right tool for the job makes it so much easier!

I also received two very surprise gifts which made me feel so special!

new-crewel1A book, the new crewel : Excuisite Designs in Contemporary Embroidery by Katherine Shaughnessy. I made my way to the mail box thinking I’d find the light bill, but instead was this lovely book sent by my sweet friend Natalia!

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My other suprise gift was a book card! Everybody’s favourite Texas Vegan Mum Krys, and her Two Vegan Boys, Arthur and Adam sent me a gift certificate so I can treat myself to one of my very favourite things – a book!

I am so moved by the friendships that have grown out of our little blogging community, and Natalia and Krys, you are both so special to me! And you made me feel special – hey, come on, group hug everyone! Thank you!

Joyeux Anniversaire Simone de Beauvoir, oh, et Happy Birthday to Me!

Don’t you love “birthday twins”? You know, people with whom you have absolutely no connection to other than you were born on the same day?

Simone de Beauvoir is one of my heros for so many reasons. She has her critics, but I have so much respect for her and the sacrifices she made to “get things done”. A brilliant woman full of class.*

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Like him or not, Jimmy Page helped shape the face of music today. He’s also a birthday twin! How many of us, when first learning to play guitar, stumbled through “Stairway to Heaven”?*

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Is there a Nobel Peace Prize in my future? I’d love to be so instrumental in helping so many, just like Rigoberta Menchù! Now she’s a rock star.*

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So far, this is my greatest work…

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Guppy & Shellyfish, December 2005

The Nobel might be out of my reach (quoi que…), but maybe not hers!

I’ll be back soon to share some birthday details with everyone! Thank you so much for all the sweet birthday wishes. It really means so much to me – merci!

*Photo Credits: Wikipedia

Vegan MoFo Day 17 – Birthdays, a gift and my favorite thing (in my kitchen)

Political aside :

I was so sleepy last night after waking up at 4:30 a.m. to watch the presidential debate that I opted to go to bed rather than write a MoFo post. This might sound weird, but I feel sort of sorry for McWar. Most political analysists agree, he was slated for the Republican nomination in 2000 (save that little “mistake” when he said that he thought that decisions about abortion should be made by women and their families it was deemed better to to get him out of the spotlight, enter Bush). He reminded me of a little Jack Russel trying to play rough with a German Shepard – he knows he probably isn’t going to win, but wants to show us all the fight he has left in him. Let’s just hope the Obama voters don’t get too confident- go out and vote kids!

MoFo Post :

One of the great things about Vegan MoFo (besides having a backlog of blog reading to do) is that the kids are sharing some of their favorite things. I love reading about your favorite kitchen gadgets and appliances, and so I thought I’d share a picture of the thing in my kitchen that I love the most…

That’s right. It’s not a stand-up mixer (though I would love one) or a vitamix (yeah, I’d like one of those, too). It’s my Wonder Woman mug. I use it for measuring, for heating water in the microwave, and for cutting out biscuits. When I was 5, I wore my Fruit of the Loom Wonder Woman Underoos like they were my uniform, and my poor mum had to engage in some serious negotiations to get them in the wash. My mug lets me relive my Wonder Woman nostalgia (dare I say complex?) in a healthy, quiet way. I do try to save the world, but allow me to reassure you, I don’t parade around France in a stars and stripes bikini and knee-high red boots…though that might be fun.

I also use my mug to drink my favorite tea :

Their almond green tea is the most amazing tea I’ve had in a long time. It smells so good, I find myself just giving it a little wiff from time to time when I open the pantry…Does that make me really weird? Since the spring I have been striving to eliminate coffee from my life. I love coffee so so so much, and it hasn’t been easy, but I’m down to about 4 espressos a month. My one raw day a week really helped me break the cycle. But I think the green tea has helped more.

Today is one of my sister’s birthdays. We are only 21-months apart, and as children (and teens) fought like cats and dogs. We are like night and day. She and her husband have a dairy farm, are Southern Baptists, put large signs for whatever Republican candidate is running in their field…you get the picture.

That being said, even though we could focus on everything that divides us, since becoming adults we work very hard to agree to disagree and focus on what we have in common, and we do have much in common. I wanted to make her something special for her birthday, and this is what I came up with :

You might remember this apron that I made for Jen. I loved the retro look and color combination so much that I decided to make the same one for my sis. This was actually my first crack at embroidery (I stitched up the pockets over a month ago…before the leaves even!) Hoping to broaden my crafty horizons, I bought the Sublime Stitching Kit last spring, but it wasn’t until this project that I actually used it (not because it isn’t adroable, just because I am always working on 10 projects at once!). I stitched the pockets using the retro transfers from the kit. I felt much more confident after this first project, and everything I’ve embroidered since have been just things I drew free-hand.

I know that my nieces (ages 11 & 13) will enjoy using this apron in the kitchen as much (if not more) than their mum!

Also (at the risk of embarrassing myself because I’m wrong) I’d like to wish a happy birthday to our Bianca! Joyeux Anniversaire ma belle!

Jen’s Birthday Apron

My very best friend Jen turns 30 today! I have never had a friend like her, nor have I ever been through so many things, from the dramatic and traumatic to the blissful and fantastic, with anyone else. I wish I could have toasted to her “live”, but she is in Arizona and I’m not. Sigh.

Despite the fact that we’re thick as thieves, she isn’t a regular reader of my blog (she works in IT and doesn’t do anything in front of a computer screen that isn’t absolutely necessary, which I totally understand…we don’t even really email, we just call – woo hoo unlimited free long distance!), which means I can show off her birthday present which I sent off to her today.

What I miss the most about my Jenniefish is porch-sitting, hanging out on weekend evenings, usually with Jen whipping up something tasty and me opening wine bottles and keeping wine glasses full (because the Shellyfish did no food preparation until just three years ago…and I haven’t lived on the same continent as Jen in 5!). We’d sit outside in the warm pueblo, reinventing the world together… Jen is still often found entertaining post-work cocktails-cum-dinners, so an apron seemed like the perfect gift. She is, like me, always spilling and wearing what she is making or drinking, so this will help keep her clean, and she’s got two pockets for matches to light candles on the patio table, or to carry a bottle opener, her secret decoder ring…

I really wanted to make an apron with gathers at the waistband so I consulted my newly acquired Bend The Rules Sewing by Amy Karol and it was so flipping easy to do! It’s so funny how we think what we don’t yet know how to do is so crazy hard. Not the case at all. I like Amy’s blog Angry Chicken, and also happened upon her “apron blog” Tie One On which has a sometimes-monthly apron making theme/event. This time around it happened to be gingham, which is what this little flirty apron is made of (I actually bought the fabric to make something cutesy for my soon-to-be-born niece, but it preferred to be an apron. Not my fault) so I have submitted it to Amy’s Tie One On flicker group, to go up at the beginning of the month.

And don’t you love my little felt appliqués? Un repas sans vin, est comme une nuit sans étoiles… a meal without wine is like a night without stars…

Happy Birthday, Jen. I love you!

Birthday! Anniversary! Meme!

It’s been a rather zippy few days here at the Fish residence! (That being said, it’s always speedy, just sometimes more than others…). Let’s see… to begin : Happy Birthday Mr. Fish!

Mr. Fish is one of those kids who really, I mean really has a difficult time with birthdays. I get rather excited because it means cake and presents and yummy food and people having to be extra nice to me :). He gets morose, melancholy and even down right cranky as the days tick away and his birthday approaches. I do understand. I had a much more difficult time watching the birthdays from 25 to 29 pass me by, but something sort of “clicked” when I hit 29, and I realized that dreading birthdays, or anything, really, just sort of spoiled the moments leading up to and after, but didn’t change anything, because, well, change is inevitable I guess.

To ease his birthday bitterness, I asked him what birthday treat he wanted, and he asked for the too-good-to -be-true Lemon Bars from VCon. This is the fourth time I’ve made them, and I still have no food p*rn to show you, because we just go through these things so fast it’s crazy & never have a chance to snap a pic. However, to satisfy your desire for eye-candy, here is a shot of the cupcakes I made for our 4th Wedding Anniversary, which is, or was, the day before Mr. Fish’s birthday :

This was the first time I’d made the marble cupcakes from VCTOTW, and they were really, really delicious. They were also very fun to make with the Guppy because they get a little messy at the end, and that means a lot of finger licking (we also observe the 5-second rule in our house. We’re dirty birdies.)

Next is a little Meme-love. Yoga Mum tagged anyone who’d had green tea a few mornings back. I ‘ve been swapping my morning espress for green tea in solidarity with Ricky who has been doing a cleanse. Maybe I’ll be able to knock it for good? Anyway…

Here’s the low down:

1. Post the rules of the game at the beginning.
2. Each player answers the questions about themselves.
3. At the end of the post, the player then tags five people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read the player’s blog.
4. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer.

What were you doing five years ago?

I’d just finished my Masters Degree in French Literature, was teaching French for a US University Summer Programme in Paris, and was preparing to begin working as an English language assistant for two years at a University in Paris. I was also about to meet the future Mr. Fish.

What are five things on your to-do list for today?

1) Try to find some time to read “Millénium, Tomb 1: Les hommes qui n’aimaient pas les femmes” by Stieg Larsson. Great read.
2) The dishes (that’s just perpetual…)
3) Yoga & lifting w/free weights
4) Work a little on this bag which I am making as a messenger bag, not a diaper bag! (Thought I should clarify).
5) Write lesson plans for Wednesday’s & Thursday’s classes (last day of classes is the 23rd! Yippie!)

What are five snacks you enjoy?

1) Fresh fruit (not original, but true!)
2) Smoothies without too many seedy fruits
3) rice cakes with almond butter & molasses (an idea given me by our coolicious Ricky)
4) fresh baked cookies hot from the cooling rack
5) a homemade raw bar from the freezer all coldish, burrrr!

What are five things you would do if you were a billionaire?

Okay, this says billionaire so I could come up will way more than 5, but here’s a few…

1) Pay off my student loans & my sib’s student loans/debt & my parent’s debts
2) Buy a home with extra bedrooms & bathrooms so my family could visit and stay as long as they liked (oh, the tickets would be my treat, too!)
3) Put money aside for the Guppy & my nieces’ & nephew’s education & set up a scholarship fund for young women at my high school in the U.S.
4) Invest enough that I could live off my fundage and devote my time to creating a non-profit organization for women- not sure how I’d organize it, but it would provide grants for education, training opportunities, quality, affordable child-care, small-business loans, as well as creative and moral support for women with goals, but who need help with the logistics of their path.
5) Create a quality health-care programme for all the school-aged children in the two U.S. cities I lived in (hey, I’m a billionaire…I have enough!)

What are five of your bad habits?

1) I’m too sensitive.
2) I take everything seriously.
3) I’m terribly hard on myself.
4) I stress about things I cannot change.
5) I try to do too much at the same time.

What are five places where you have lived?

In the U.S., two:

1) Michigan
2) Arizona

In France,

3) Paris
4) Versailles
5) near Tours

What are five jobs you’ve had?

1) Paper girl (when I was 9. Did I mention I lived on the Canadian boarder? Sub-zero temps, snow…oh, it was up hill, too! lol! )
2) Entertainment Listings Editor for an artsy weekly
3) Dance teacher
4) Waitress
5) Research assistant

Five people I tag:

Because I share her disdain for tagging, I am shamelessly stealing this idea from Yoga Mum over at Yoga Gumbo I tag you if:

1) You had a smoothie today.
2) You’ve never made your own seitan.
3) You have more than one tattoo.
4) You wish you were taller.
5) You’d like to take a nap.

Please let me know if you do this! I know some of you kids dread these puppies, but I like learning more about you! :)