Jun 202014

I finished stitching my foxy phone case!


The day I wove in the very last ends, I showed the photo above to a friend on my phone. Then I remembered I was holding the actual completed case, and so I flipped the phone over to reveal the case itself. Mind blown! I’ve since had lots of fun with my serendipitous new party trick.

What would a project be without a few trials on the way to the finish line? A needle broke as I was trying to weave an end in behind other stitches. And then it was totally stuck. No amount of pushing, pulling, or cussing would make it budge. I left the needle there til the end of the project, finally resorting to jewelry pliers to get it out.

Shortly after the needle-breaking incident, my right thumbnail broke below the quick (ow). Since my technique involves my thumbnail rather than a thimble, it was much harder to push the needle through the case and practically impossible to weave in the ends. This slowed me down for a couple weeks, and I pulled out my knitting projects instead to keep my hands busy.

Here’s the inside:

cross stitch foxy case back

When I was stitching in public or sharing my work-in-progress with friends, several people suggested I sell the case. While a flattering notion, selling a finished case doesn’t feel financially feasible. All these tiny stitches take a long time, and I doubt folks would be willing to pay over $100 for a non-bulletproof phone case. Instead, I’m considering putting this project together to sell as a kit with the case, floss, and pattern.

Overall, I love this project. I’m digging the tactile contrast of soft cotton and hard futuristic gadget. And now I get to see and hold a brightly patterned fox every day!


Dates worked: April 16 – June 7, 2014. I mostly stitched on this project while commuting, with occasional evening stitching as well.

DMC embroidery floss colors:
333: very dark blue violet
3849: light teal green
3843: electric blue
718: plum
318: light steel grey
3341: apricot
white sewing thread (4 strands for the eye)

Previously: weekend crafty roundup and cross-stitch in progress.

Jun 142014

Flavored simple syrup first got on my radar when I came across a booth filled with different flavors at my local  Greenmarket one weekend. Evolutionary Organics offers several varieties, including lemongrass, basil, mint, and a delicious super chai syrup.

And yet, it hadn’t occurred to me to make simple syrup myself until talking with a bartender during a mixology class – part of a glass-etching workshop at Brooklyn Craft Company. He made it sound so easy. Simple, even. (Hah.) Turns out he’s right!

I made a double batch for a friend’s birthday party: rosemary simple syrup and mint simple syrup.


The steeping process: boil 1 part water and 1 part sugar til the sugar dissolves. Pour over 1 part herbs, and cover with saran wrap to trap in flavor that would otherwise escape with the steam while steeping. When the syrup has cooled, strain into a glass bottle (I used a funnel and tea brewing basket combo) and refrigerate.

In deciding what flavor syrups to infuse, I researched warm-weather cocktail ideas. That got me looking forward to experimenting with this summer cocktail recipe now that it’s finally warmed up here in NYC. Spring cocktails vaguely on the cheap taught me about the Schmallet, a wooden mallet used for crushing ice in a heavy canvas bag. And so at the party I couldn’t stop telling friends about the Schmallet and giggling midway through the awkward consonant cluster.

The mint syrup worked well with a gin, bourbon, lime, ginger ale, and seltzer blend that the party hosts concocted. Mixing rosemary syrup with bourbon was also really tasty. That base played well with St. Germain (elderflower liqueur) in one cocktail, and a splash of berry and lemon juice in another.

My friend really liked the flavored syrups. She said I’ve inspired her to cook items that usually seem out of reach – like these syrups, as well as pickles (more to come on that later) – which felt great. Spread the kitchen love!