My name is Lisa and I'm a crafty girl with wanderlust working as an engineer by day. My blog chronicles projects in my home as well as pictures and stories from my travels.




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Flying Off Into the Sunset

The upside of my flight to Japan was that I got bumped up from economy to first class.  On a 13 hour flight this is no small thing and makes a huge difference for me in sleeping comfort.  

The downside was that the flight was delayed for an hour due to the airline filming a commercial at our gate, which is the strangest reason I have ever heard of for delaying a flight. There was a silver lining, however.  Due to the late departure, we took off right as the sun was setting and I had a spectacular view out my window.  Right above the horizon the sky was brilliant orange, striated with clouds that faded into a deep navy blue.  Absolutely gorgeous!


Picture of the Day: Blue Mosque

Blue Mosque
Istanbul, Turkey


First Trip to Kyoto

Today I am heading back to Japan for a work trip. Japan has played a pivotal role in shaping who I am. It is the foreign country that I've visited the most and the only country outside of the US that I have lived.

My first trip to Japan was back in early April 2006 for a business trip a few months after I had started my job.  I had never been anywhere in Asia before and I was thrilled at the chance to go. Being a work trip I didn't have much free time, of course, but I did have a Sunday off that I used for sightseeing.  With just one day available for a mini trip and already being in Central Japan I decided to go to the obvious choice, Kyoto.

Kyoto is a magical place, full of amazing ancient temples and shrines.  The fact that it was cherry blossom season only enchanted me even more. I visited some of the more famous sights of Kyoto including Nijo-jo, Nishi Hongan-ji, Kinkaku-ji, Sanjusangen-do, Heian-jinja and Kiyomizu-dera, soaking everything in and taking pictures.  

After leaving Kiyomizu-dera I slowly wandered down the hill through the maze of shops and stores back to the road. I saw a trio of Maiko (apprentice geisha) and was impressed with their poise and beautiful kimono. I also had a chance to try Kyoto's famous sweet, yatsuhashi, which is a soft sweet rice flour wrapper with various fillings like sweet red bean. Ever since it has been a favorite special treat for me.

As I rode the Shinkansen from Kyoto back to Nagoya that evening I didn't know that I would eventually live in Japan or even that I would be back on several trips, but I did know that I had a special day and seen some amazing, beautiful places. I'm looking forward to going back...


Picture of the Day: Arizona Sunset



















Wittman, Arizona
United States


Baby Quilt for Vanessa's Little Man

When my roommate from grad school, Vanessa, had her little man I wanted to make a baby quilt for him.  Her nursery items were full of bright, vibrant colors and when I found the Punctuation Alpha Card fabric by Moda I knew it would be perfect.  

For the center of the quilt I cut out each alpha block and then pieced the blocks together with black sashing. I assembled 'D' - 'W' into a rectangle, made a strip of 'A' - 'C' and 'X' - 'Z' and then set the three pieces aside.

For the outside border of the quilt I went through my fabric stash and pulled out a bunch of bright scraps in rainbow colors. I cut each scrap to 6-1/2" and then cut strips in random widths from 1" to 2-1/2".  I arranged the strips in a random order and sewed them together. I then added a section of the border to the top of the 'A' - 'C' strip, the bottom of the 'X' - 'Z' strip, and both sides of the 'D' - 'W' rectangle.

To make the corners I made four rectangles of the colored strips 11" x 13", two with the strips going vertically and two with the strips going horizontally.  I then made a diagonal cut across each of the blocks and then reassembled the vertical strip and horizonal strip triangles to make the mitered corners.

To finish the quilt top I sewed a mitered corner block to each side of the 'A' - 'C' and 'X' - 'Z' strips and assembed the 'A' - 'C' strip,  'D' - 'W' rectangle and 'X' - 'Z' to each other.  I basted the quilt top to the batting with an alphabet print for the quilt back and then quilted it with a straight pattern.  I completed the quilt by adding black binding around the edges.

Vanessa loved the quilt and it really warmed my heart to see it in her son's nursery when I visited her in DC this past summer.  It is far from a perfect quilt with some uneven seams and stiches but it was made with love for a very special little man and his wonderful mom. 


Picture of the Day: Koala



















Sydney Wildlife Center
Sydney, Australia


Kitchen Island for Mom

As I am getting in the swing of planning out my Christmas gifts for this year I thought I would share the gift I made for my mom for her birthday/Christmas gift last year.  She and her husband were in the final stages of remodeling their kitchen and the last item they needed was a kitchen island so I decided to build it for them as a gift.  

I started by repurposing two old cabinets as the foundation for the island. They were different depths so I build out a frame to make it square and then boxed the cabinets in with a sturdy piece of plywood on the back and beadboard on the sides. The hinges to the doors from the cabinet were removed and retrofitted with a rev-a-shelf to allow for easy access to a pull out a garbage and recycling bin.

On the backside I came up with the idea of making an open bookshelf for my mom to store her cookbooks and other knick-knacks since she already had plenty of seating in her kitchen. I made the posts by taking 2x2s and wrapping them with 1x6s (for the top), 1x10s (for the bottom) and some scrap molding. For the shelf I screwed a ledge into the back of the plywood and attached it to the posts using my Kreg Jig.

To finish it off the holes were patched with wood filler and sanded down.  With a few coats of white paint and new hardware it was almost complete.  For the top my mom wanted butcher block, so she had a piece of the Ikea Numerar in oak cut to size (I got the leftover scrap for a project for my kitchen) and mounted that for the countertop. 

Along the way I wasn't sure if it would come together well and there were a number of frustrating times (including a chop saw that wasn't cutting square and a wrong molding cut that almost made me run short on molding to wrap the posts) but the end product turned out nicely. My mom and her husband are happy with it and that is what is most important to me.


Picture of the Day: Column Capitals at the Roman Forum

Roman Forum
Athens, Greece


Michigan vs. Ohio State Tailgate Cake

Since moving to Ann Arbor I've adopted the Michigan Wolverines as the football team I root for.  Neither my undergraduate or graduate alma mater have a very strong college football program and the way everyone in town backs the team and tailgates made following the team inevitable.

As part of the tailgate that I participate in I make a themed cake each week. Yesterday was not just any game, it was the game, Michigan vs. Ohio State, so for this week's cake I made a chocolate buttermilk cake and iced it with green tinted buttercream icing to make it look like a football field.  I made the field markings, school initials and football on the cake using fondant.  To make the intials stand up I inserted skewers inside them that extended into the cake. 

Watching the game was a lot of fun, albeit quite stressful, especially during the last few minutes when the fate of the game was held in the balance.  In the end Michigan pulled out the win with a 40-34 final score and ended the 7-year winless drought against Ohio State.  Is the next stop a BCS Bowl Game?  I sure hope so!


Picture of the Day: Torii at Miyajima



















Itsukushima Shrine (厳島神社)
Hiroshima-ken, Japan