Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Wrapper Dress: In Living Color!

 We visited Howell Living History farm today to watch the plowing match. Unfortunately we missed the majority of it because we got distracted catching crawdads at the creek. However, I did run into the woman who's costume I made so I wrangled her in for a picture! It was a HOT day and I can't imagine wearing that in the heat and humidity. Rumor has it some of the ladies forego their petticoats on days like this. I know I would.

I have to include a picture of one of the plowing teams. Aren't they beautiful? I could have watched them all day. Even their harnesses are gorgeous.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Foodie Friday: Pizza Night!

Friday is pizza night and we take it seriously. I'm not going to claim this is the healthiest meal but when you make it at home you at least have the opportunity to control the quality AND quantity of your ingredients. I've been using a particular crust recipe for several years now that puts out a consistent and deliciously crispy crust (Jamie Oliver's pizza dough) but I found a recipe in my pile that I decided to try just to change things up.  
I'm a huge Bobby Flay fan and have made quite a few of his recipes ranging from salsa verde to grilled lobster tacos to a very robust sangria and I've never been disappointed with the effort. I found his pizza dough recipe a couple of years ago and it got lost in the abyss of stashed recipes. I dug it out on a whim and made pizza (on a Wednesday!) just in time to carbo-load for a long run.
The recipe is a really simple, everyday kind of crust. You aren't going to get brick oven (despite cranking the oven up and using a pizza stone), East Coast kind of pizza but it does the trick in a pinch. Here's where I found the original recipe and here it is again adapted slightly with my notes:
Pizza Dough by Bobby Flay
3 1/2 - 4 cups flour (I used all purpose because I had it which made the crust soft and chewy - use bread flour if you want a nice crispy crust)
1 tsp sugar (I used organic cane sugar)
1 envelope instant yeast (2 1/4 tsp or 7g = 1 packet)
2 tsp kosher salt (I used a large grain sea salt)
1 1/2 cups water @ 110 degrees F
2 TBS olive oil, plus 2 tsp (I skipped the 2 tsp and used cooking spray instead)
Combine all the dry ingredients in a stand mixer first. Then, while it's running add the water and 2 TBS olive oil and mix until the ingredients form a ball adding flour a little at a time if the dough is too sticky. Remove to a lightly floured surface and knead into a smooth, firm ball. Let rest covered for an hour or so until doubled in size. Then, remove to a lightly floured surface and divide into two pieces. Let rest covered for 10 minutes before rolling out.

I always use a pizza stone and bake it in at least a 450 degree oven (part of the cooking time includes baking just the crust pre-toppings). This particular pizza was topped with a sugar-free sauce, pepperoni, black olives, artichoke hearts, mozzarella, parmesan, romano and asiago cheese.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Closet Flashbacks: The Geriatric Linebacker Jacket Revisited

Last fall I made this jacket. How much have I worn it? Not once. The shoulders feel poofy to me and I just couldn't deal with it. Until now it has been languishing in my closet and many times I have attempted salvaging the only thing worth keeping (the antique glass button) and trashing the remains. Now that we are doing our Closet Flashbacks, I was inspired to get it out and try it on. It still feels boxy, but not as bad as I thought. With jeans and a black t-shirt, does it work? What's the verdict? 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Foodie Friday: Sorta Healthy and Really Delicious Berry Coffee Cake

When we're not sewing, Rachel and I love to cook. We love to pour over cookbooks and peruse the internet looking for interesting recipes. Forget browsing the latest gossip magazine, we would rather settle down with an issue of Bon Appetit! We figure we're not the only ones who like a good recipe, so each Friday we will be posting a new recipe we have tried. So without further ado, I present to you our first recipe: Berry Coffee Cake! I have actually been making this recipe for a few years and tweaking it here and there. It is really delicious and healthier than your average coffee cake.

Berry Coffee Cake
(adapted from Simply In Season)

2 C. whole wheat flour
1 C. unbleached white flour
1 C. brown sugar
2 TBS. baking powder
2 tsp. cinnamon (optional)
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 C. milk
1/2 C. melted butter or coconut oil
2-3 C. fresh or frozen berries*

In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, milk and oil. Pour into flour mix and stir well. Gently fold in the berries. Spread into a greased 9 by 13 pan. Prepare topping.


2/3 C.brown sugar
2/3 C. rolled oats
1/3 C. flour
4-5 TBS. butter, melted
2 tsp. cinnamon (optional)

Mix ingredients together into coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over batter and bake at 375 degrees for 40-50 minutes til toothpick comes out clean. 

(*last night I made it with blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and chopped peaches and it was heavenly!)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Little Girls Bible Cover

My two oldest have birthdays coming up in September. Their birthdays are one day apart so it makes for a convenient double-whammy of birthday festivities. It also means I have to get myself in gear and buy/make their gifts. This year, they both wanted their own Bibles. My son, who is 7, wants one that is easier to understand than the 'Holly' Bibles they have at church...ha! I decided that since kids aren't exactly easy on their stuff that Bible covers were a must! I was perilously close to channeling my Mother and adding lace ruffles around the edge for old times sake. Then, I veered off the lace path and thought adding red rick rack would be the ticket. In the end, I chose simple white piping and I love the result! I kind of want to make one for myself but at this point my Bible is so worn out it really needs to be replaced so there is something for the cover to actually cover. But I digress. On to the pictures!

Pretend that the tab is perfectly centered, OK? 

Piping details. It closes with a magnetic snap which is lurking below the button.

Voila! A cheery cherry Bible cover.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Experimenting with Oilcloth

I really love oilcloth. It's shiny and bright and makes me smile every time I see it. Recently I was deep in Hill Country and found a store stuffed with the biggest collection of oilcloth that I've ever seen. It was a w e s o m e and authentic...not the cheap, felt backed stuff. Now that I have a close and robust source I plan on going a little crazy and experimenting with all kinds of projects.
This is my first, quick little project. It's just a simple pouch lined in a quilting cotton and was a good way to use up some scraps. I've started using it as a fun summer wallet :)

Monday, August 19, 2013

Closet Flashbacks: The Anna Tunic

If you hadn't guessed already, we have officially started a series called "Closet Flashbacks". The series highlights items we've made and forgotten about in the attempt to bring them back into our wardrobe rotations. Each Monday there will be a shiny new post showcasing the item of the week! 

This is technically the third contribution to the series so let's dive right in shall we? A little over two years ago I made an Anna Tunic (pattern by Amy Butler) and pretty much just loved how the whole thing turned out. I wore it a couple of times then forgot all about it until I recently reorganized the last piles I had laying around from moving a few months ago.
You can check out the the original post with lots of pictures here and the secret pocket addition here.
I realized that it matched perfectly with my favorite pair of plaid shorts that have blue, orange and pink in them. I'm not shy about wearing fun colors! I tried to get my perro to cooperate in this picture but he laid down and sulked instead :)

Wearing it today makes me remember why I loved the pattern so much in the first place. The button detail on the back is my favorite part and makes me want to make another one of these immediately!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Matisse-Inspired Art Project For Kids

I have been doing art projects with a group of kids for the last few weeks. Its kind of ridiculous how excited I get to think of ideas and plan projects. I have always loved Matisse's paper cut-outs. I love the shapes and fields of color. For this project, I combined it with another thing I love: clear contact paper. If you don't have a roll, you should! Its good for what ails you. 

Moving along, I started by cutting out a whole bunch of small-ish squares of colored tissue paper. I also threw a few patterns in there for interest. I am glad I cut these squares ahead of time. It kept the kids from getting overwhelmed, and we used a lot less tissue paper than we would have if each kid was cutting into  full sheet. I also cut two squares of contact paper for each kid. Before peeling off the backing, they cut all their shapes and had them at the ready. After laying all the shapes down on the sticky side, we helped put another layer of contact paper on the back and trimmed the edges. 

Voila! The finished masterpiece. I wish I had had the forethought to line everyone's up and take a picture. The finished project could make a nice place mat or look pretty in a sunny window! 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Laying A Quilt To Rest

I had to lay a quilt to rest this in, I had to chuck it. This is the second quilt I have had to throw away and the first quilt I ever made. When I was 13, we went to a friends house and the daughter had made this twin sized bed quilt. She went on and on about how hard it was and I remember her being a little pretentious about it. I remember thinking (in my 13 year old mind) 'How hard can it be? I could totally do that.' When we went home, I did a little math (never my strong suit) and cut myself a template out of printer paper. Or as we called it in ye olden days: typing paper. I raided Mom's sewing box for scraps and went to work. I had no idea what a rotary cutter was, or really anything at all about quilting. I simply cut around my paper template. Every now and then I would cut a sliver off and eventually I would have to cut a new template. It is a wonder the thing came out even remotely square. When I was done, thanks to my precisely atrocious calculations, my quilt was a generous queen size! So much for math. I had no idea how to quilt it, so I sewed it to the backing and flipped it inside out like a giant pillow case (and I used polyester batting...horrors!). I tied the quilt and called it good. I loved this quilt because looking at it was a trip down memory lane. The cow fabric? I had a jumper out of that! The sunflower stuff? Rachel had a jumper. The red checked farm fabric? Shorts. We were on the cutting edge of fashion back then. This quilt lasted for 20 years (just saying that makes me cringe!) but it was time to go. It has been slowly disintegrating and an unfortunate washing machine accident left it with a gaping hole that was just too much to fix. Now I shall observe a moment of silence! :)

Monday, August 12, 2013

Closet Flashbacks: The Garden Bag

One of my most favorite handmade this ever is this fabulous bag! Technically it spends very little time in my closet because I use it so much. Rachel made it for me several years ago and I LOVE it!! When she gave it to me, she told me I could use it to bring veggies in from the garden. Well! The bag was just too pretty for that, and at first I used it gingerly. Then I decided that I would use it and enjoy it. I have used this bag to pick up our farm share, go to the library, carry extra clothes to the beach/roadtrip/farm, and to cart my crafty projects around. It washes well and is holding up great! Its nice when you can get a ton of use out of something, especially when you get to think of your sister whenever you use it!

P.S. You can get an idea of what I have been working lately: canning! I bought a bushel basket of tomatoes last week and have done whole tomatoes, marinara sauce, and Yellow Tomato Jam with Smoked Paprika. I also squeezed in a batch of Blueberry Syrup with vanilla and nutmeg which I pretty much want to drink out of the jar!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Closet Flashbacks: The Houndstooth Blossom Bag

I don't know if it's just me, but I make stuff then forget I have it for a couple of years. Is that weird? I was looking through my closet the other day and realized that I have quite a few pieces that I spent a lot of time on that have been neglected. I decided that these unloved and ignored specimens need to make a comeback. That's when I decided to start an occasional series to help some unloved friends emerge from the depths of my wardrobe. It's my attempt to finally wear/use clothes, jewelry and accessories that I've made and stashed over the years. It's also an opportunity to use some RTW garments that may have been forgotten too.    
Since I have a fondness for Amy Butler patterns, I decided to drag my first Blossom bag out of the depths to start this series off. I originally posted my first bag here in 2010 and then my second one that I made for a gift a little while later here
 Today I dug out a dress that I got from Target over 5+ years ago and paired it with the houndstooth it!
While these flowers have nothing to do with the bag, they do match my bright orange toenails and are beautiful.
Here's the bag in all of it's glory. The size is great because it's not too big and has handy dividers inside of it. I remember how much fun I had making it (both times!) and am wondering why I haven't been using it more. I'm just glad that it's now back in my purse rotation :) 

Friday, August 2, 2013

Sleeves To Pants

This is a project I completed a while ago and have never posted mainly because the intended recipient is not interested in them at all for reasons I can't quite pinpoint. The legs of these capris are made from sleeves. The shirt I used had 3/4 length sleeves which turned out to be the perfect length. I added a yoga-type fold over band at the top that was cut from a pair of knit pants. Because I used the existing hem and just sewed the sleeves together, this was a very fast project!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Busy Work

I haven't made any major projects lately but I have worked on little things that take up valuable sewing time. This stuff is more utility than fun but sometimes that's just what's on the project pile.
 I had some old curtains that have been with us through every place we've lived. I needed a very basic table runner and small curtains to hide my creative mess and out of necessity, I hacked up the old curtains and made both of the items that I needed.
 Before mess....
After no visible mess!
I intended to give a pair of these potholders to my sister for her birthday...(in May...oops) BUT a lot happened during that time frame and I just now got to the second one. I did learn how to miter a corner quilting style so it's all good :)