Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Spoon and Fork Earrings

Here is something new(ish) up in the Etsy shop. I made a pair for myself and get compliments whenever I wear them, so I thought I would put a pair in the shop! I really can't explain what my recent thing is with silverware, but wearing these earrings makes me feel like I do when I look at my giant spoon: happy!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

First Sewing Project: Simple Gathered Skirt

My daughter is 6 years old and very eager to learn to sew. I have had her do a few hand sewing projects and her skills have improved little by little. She enjoys hand sewing, but of course she wanted to try the machine too! This skirt is her first 'official' sewing project. It really couldn't be more simple: a rectangle of fabric with a channel at the top for elastic, and a hem at the bottom. She is obsessed with the fancy stitches on my machine. She always tells me which one she thinks I should be using. For the hem, I let her pick a fancy stitch to sew on the lace. She is not big enough (or focused enough) to run the machine by herself so she sits in my lap and helps guide the fabric through. She mans the back-stitch button and removes the pins as we sew. I can't wait to see what sewing projects she will come up with in the future!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Closet Flashback: An 11 Year Old's Artwork

Yesterday my son had to spend an extended time out in my room, and he spent his excessive 8-year-old-energy in diving under my bed looking for lost socks and toys he hadn't seen in months. A side affect of this exploration was that he found my childhood art portfolio and my college portfolio. Sheesh! It was quite a trip back and my inner artist cringed at some of my 'best pieces' from back in the day. This one made me laugh, because oh, did I think it was the bomb! And it won a blue ribbon! Never mind the stripe of whiteout where I had to make a wayward arm disappear. I shaded every single grape in the bunch. I have no explanation for why I spent an entire year drawing anthropomorphized fruit.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Foodie Friday: Zweiback

 My mom is from German/Mennonite roots, and when we were children she would make us some of the heritage recipes her mother made for her and her 9 other siblings. Grandma could make something out of nothing, whether it was a dress out of hand-me-downs or a birthday card using Elmer's glue, glitter and a kleenex. She even made her own cottage cheese in a sunny window. Don't worry, all you with the cringing immune systems! She never killed anyone in over 90 years.

This recipe comes from the church cookbook all the way up in Warroad, Minnesota, where we might be related to half the town. At least that's how it felt when I was a kid. I think it took us an hour to get out of church after going through a gauntlet of hugs from second cousins twice removed and long lost aunties. Now, on to the Zweiback. I have heard it means 'piggy back buns'. I will tell you, it makes for a delicious little roll with a convenient pop-off top to fill with butter and jam. My kids absolutely love these, and when I make them they usually go fast despite making a large batch.


2 pkg. dry yeast (I use bulk yeast, 4 1/2 tsp roughly)
2 C. warm water
2 C. warm milk
1 C. lard (shortening is best, butter works)
2 TBS. sugar (you can use honey if preferred)
1 scant TBS. salt (you can see the original recipe calls for 2 1/2 TBS. which I think is a typo)
about 9 C. flour

Heat milk and water together til hot but not simmering. Pour into large bowl with lard/shortening. Let sit a few minutes to start melting the shortening and cool a bit. The milk mixture should be about 110 degrees before you add the yeast. My professional method of checking is to stick my finger in: if it is still so hot you pull your finger right out, then it is too hot for the yeast. Scientific! When it is sufficiently cooled, add yeast and sugar. Let sit for 5 minutes to proof. This isn't absolutely necessary but I find it is a helpful step especially if you are afraid your yeast is past its prime. It should get nice and foamy. Next, add salt and about 6 cups of flour. Grab yourself a big wooden spoon and stir til smooth. Begin adding flour til it becomes hard to stir. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead, adding flour as necessary. The secret to nice, tender bread is to add just enough flour to make it easy to knead easily. Knead dough for about 10 minutes, til smooth and elastic. Put into a greased bread bowl and cover with a damp tea towel. Let rise til doubled in bulk, about 90 minutes, depending on the temperature of your kitchen. Punch down dough and rip off walnut-sized pieces. Roll them slightly to smooth them out and put on a baking sheet.  After you have a sheet full, tear off slightly smaller pieces and roll, placing them on top of the walnut-sized pieces and poke your finger down through both pieces. It should look like a belly button! This keeps the two parts together. Cover and let rise for 30-40 minutes. Bake @ 350 degrees for 20 minutes, til lightly golden. This recipe makes a lot, so it will take about 3 rounds in the oven to bake them all. To eat, pop the top off and fill with butter and jam. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Easter Dress: Quilt Inspired

 Every Easter I get a little giddy at the prospect of making a dress for my daughter. It's not that I do something fancy every year, but sewing for her is just fun! I have had the concept of this dress in my head for a while.

I love this style of quilt block, called a Dresden Plate, and I thought it would make a nice skirt. I also had these 30's prints to make a quilt for my girl and I figured it would be OK to 'borrow' a bit for this dress.

The skirt is roughly a half circle. I realized my math skills haven't improved much since high school, but I somehow calculated everything and it worked!

The skirt is fully lined, which looks pretty and makes sewing the scallops a bit easier. Each one still had to be clipped and carefully pressed, but it was manageable.

The bodice is sort of a highly evolved pattern I keep tracing off. This time I enlarged the heart opening in the back, and gave it a sweet heart neckline. I also widened it a bit since this girl is growing!

To finish it off, I added a fabric flower. Not sure if I'm sold on it yet, but twas the night before Easter and I ran out of inspiration. If I decide I can't live with it the way it is, I can always change it.

I really like the larger heart on this one. I keep tweaking it every time I make it.

Here's an up-close of  the flower.

This dress was definitely one of the more time consuming dresses I have made, but it was worth it! I have several ideas for more!

P.S. You will get 100 bonus points, redeemable for a big cyber high-five, if you noticed what I didn't add to this out of character for me!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Skirt Refashion

Several years ago, I made this skirt.  I loved it, but I didn't. It was super cute, but the fit was horrendous and there was really no way to tweak the waistband with all the ruching. The skirt was so much work that I kept it around, hoping it would magically fix itself. After that didn't work, I decided to chop off the beautiful waistband and add an elastic waist. Now my daughter has a really flouncy, fun skirt for summer!

I have one extra hanger in my closet, and the little chickie has something new to wear! I would love to have another go at this idea, maybe even on a pencil skirt. Too many projects, too little time!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Repurposed Burplap Bag ~ From Bean Bag to Book Bag

I made this bag months ago, and despite the fact that it is one of my most favorite projects, I forgot to write about it! Over a year ago, a friend sent me a bag o' beans. The beans were delicious, and you know I couldn't throw away that bag! It languished in my stash for a while and one evening I was in need of a quick project to make me feel like I accomplished something. Why is it that laundry never feels like an accomplishment? It never ends, unlike this project. I had this baby finished in under an hour. The lining is flipped over on the outside of the bag and top-stitched down. The bag was cute, but it needed a little something and I had this hideously delightful vintage trim. Does that ever happen to you? You find something that for all intents and purposes is U-G-L-Y, but you just know it will be perfect for something. Anyone? Anyone? I am a sucker for trim, I will tell you that.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Going Away Apron

I have a friend who is moving away and to send her off, I made an apron. The ladies from our small group all came up with a word that we thought was descriptive of our friend, ant those words got sewn on the pockets.

A year or two ago, we did the same thing for another moving-away friend and she says she still loves using it. I am now offering free aprons to any friends who promise NOT to move away. Ha! 

This one is made from my own self-drafted pattern. That is about the extent of my pattern making skillz so far. I am in love with this fabric. It makes me wish I had a window over my sink because I would so make curtains of this!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Spring Top Burda 7051

I made myself a top! The weather is finally warming up, people! That means I need something other than the long sleeved shirts and cozy sweaters that got me through the winter of the Polar Vortex. This top took about two evenings of watching Farm & Food documentaries on Netflix while sewing like mad. I used Burda 7051 which is a nice, basic shell pattern. I made a muslin from it, and the top is very fitted, which was not what I was going this time around. I sized up, and it was perfect. To make the lace inset at the top, I cut the pattern along the 'lengthen' line, and added seam allowances. I also lengthened the top by an inch and switched the zipper from the back to the side. I would definitely like to try this pattern again with other fabrics. I think it would be really nice in a drapey fabric too.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

It's Official!

Well, it's official! There are still some bugs to be worked out and a few things to add, but the Etsy shop is open!!! You can visit via the link on the sidebar, or by searching 'The Path Less Raveled'. We will continue to add to the shop, so check back often. If there is anything you would like to see in the shop, let us know!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Foodie Friday: Chorizo Empanadas from Homesick Texan

I got a copy of the Homesick Texan for Christmas and, as with other cookbooks, I like to peruse it like a novel and drool over recipes. This recipe for Chorizo Empanadas is definitely a keeper, although it will be relegated to the occasional file since it is not exactly the healthiest ever. I followed the recipe pretty much exactly, which I almost never do! They were delicious!

Chorizo Empanadas from Homesick Texan 


8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature (1 stick)
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
Mix all ingredients til smooth, wrap in saran wrap and chill 30+ minutes.

1 teaspoon vegetable oil (I didn't find this necessary)
1 pound Mexican chorizo, removed from it's casing
1/2 cup grated Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese
1/4 cup pitted black olives, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 jalapeno chile, seeds and stems removed, diced
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin (I used about 1/2 tsp)
salt and black pepper, to taste
Brown chorizo and remove from heat. Stir in remaining ingredients. Roll empanada dough very thin (1/8 inch or so) and cut into circles. Add a spoonful of filling and crimp closed. Brush with one egg whisked with 2 TBS. milk, and bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes, til golden.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Artemis, The Watercolor Armadillo

It is finally framed and finished! I painted this armadillo for Rachel and it is finally framed and ready to send! I ended up for various reasons being glass-less, which is just about blasphemous if you ask me when it comes to framing most artwork. Thankfully, my parents trash-picked a piece of glass and cut it to size for me. Thanks, parents!

This is a different style than I have painted before and it was really fun. I love tedious stuff like this. The black was all done using a tiny brush.

I splattered paint over the page before starting to add a wild and crazy touch of color.

I'm kind of sad to see this guy go, but I hear Rachel already has a nail in the wall for him!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

It's a bird! It's a plane! It's SUPER CHICKEN!

 Do you have skills, talents and abilities just waiting to be tapped in to? Or are you merely seeking an excuse to get out of folding laundry?

Then there is no better use of your time than to construct a Superman cape for a chicken.

Your parents will be proud they invested so much in you, and maybe, just maybe, the laundry will fold itself.*

*Note: This did not work for me, but I'm holding out for a miracle!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Another Take on Matting Pictures

The other day I got trapped inside by these dark, angry clouds. 

The thunder was booming and the rain started pouring so I decided that while I was relegated to the indoors I'd do something sort of productive. After living in my apartment for a year, I still have some bare walls that annoy me every time I see them. We're not planning on being in this place for much longer so I didn't want to invest in anything fancy BUT I needed a quick fix to fill the void. Here's my cheap and quick solution.

First, I gathered all my supplies: cutting mat, rotary cutter, pencil, ruler, craft paper, X-Acto knives, old frames/mats and pictures. 

The original mats that are already in the frames were 8x10 so on the back of the craft paper I measured and cut that size out. I was using 4x6 and 4x4 pictures so I measured those sizes on the back of the cut craft paper in the location that I wanted them to be. I then measured 1/8 in from the picture measurements so that once the squares were cut out the pictures would have something to be anchored too. I carefully cut the corners out with the X-Acto and did the straight lines with the rotary.

Then I taped the pictures to the back of the craft paper, slapped the mat and pic back into the frame and voila 6 new "mats" for under $2. 

This is the craft paper I used. 

Here are a couple of finished frames. As you can see, I'm clearly one for subtly of theme and color. HA! 

As a side note, I've seen other tutorials for covering the actual chipboard but I wanted the cheapest and laziest possible solution. I think I nailed it!   

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Creative Containers for Houseplants

I have always loved plants, although admittedly I took a long hiatus from houseplants. Something about producing 3 babies in 4 years. I couldn't stay away forever though, especially since I have the perfect twelve foot bay window in my living room.

I am sure you have noticed, though, that cute plant pots are hard to find and usually the price tag makes me want to cry a little. I mean, like a sucker you buy a new plant because 'it's only $4!!' only to shell out $20 on a pot. Sometimes, I use non-standard containers to use for my plants. I happen to like things with character, so my pots-on-the-cheap program fills two purposes. Here, I used a vintage marshmallow tin that has been bouncing around the family for many moons.

The pot on the left is a plain terra cotta pot I 'color blocked'. Aren't I just so trendy? ha! I have pictures for a tutorial...someday. The Christmas cactus in the center is in a vintage glass pitcher I found at a yard sale. The bucket was also scored at a yard sale.
Larger containers are a little more tricky. The giant metal can is an old vegetable shortening can which I salvaged from my parents' house. ( 'salvaged' the right word? Scavenged? Mooched?) It was already somewhat rusty, so I planted the money tree inside a Home Depot bucket and put it inside the can. The pot on the left was found at Home Goods for about $24 which was a great deal! 

Now what are you waiting for? Go plant something!