Monday, September 29, 2008

So Versatile!

Not only is it a skirt, it's a tablecloth. If you want to read more of my weight rants, go here. If not, stay here. About this skirt: it is an a-line twill. That is all.

Thoughts while I was sewing:
  • How can I blog about yet another skirt?
  • My new camera is dangerously underused. I am in such a photographic low. I have no ideas. I have no inspiration.
  • I can't wait to have my sewing area ready!
The picture is crappy. The mirror is dirty. The model is blobby.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

A Shirt!

I bought this fabric with the intention of making myself a cute a-line skirt for autumn.
Unfortunately, that skirt will never come to fruition because the fabric *needed* to be used to make Abby a shirt with the Butterick 4732 pattern. It was the first time that a pattern and a fabric meshed so perfectly for me.
Not surprisingly, I had some mistakes, but I don't think they're noticeable. The first conflict came when I couldn't find the narrow elastic I needed, so I made buttonholes instead. The second conflict arose when I skipped an entire section of the directions (I swear, I have some type of mental defect when it comes to reading directions). I adjusted and it looks OK.
Abby loves it. And I am proud that its 100% wearable!
In the second photo, I asked her to just stand still, as opposed to the shots of her leaning against the wall with her butt sticking out, and this is what I got. If you wanted to know what my husband would look like if he was a little girl, just a couple months shy of her 3rd birthday, that's what he would look like.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Just an Update.

The picture has nothing to do with anything. I just think a blog should have a photo.

A few things:
  1. Abby started art class. I think I had more fun than she did. I loved playing with the clay and can't wait to paint our pinch pots with glaze after it comes out of the kiln.
  2. I have been working a lot. Still part time, but practically every day. It's a lot with preschooler. It's very stressful. I'm very tired.
  3. I did some sewing this afternoon and got nowhere fast. I broke a needle. I incorrectly attached a sleeve. I raised my blood pressure.
  4. I really wanted to go out tonight with my husband, but my mother is not going to be home. I need a nice dinner, some coffee, and a bookstore trip all without a child. All of those things are possible with her, but the stress level is more than staying at home staring at the television.
  5. PMS is on the horizon.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


This is the third version of these damn slippers. The first version was adult-sized, but I didn't have enough yarn. I unraveled.
The second version was kid-sized, but I messed up. Several times. I unraveled.
The third and final time, I completed them! Then I realized that I assembled them incorrectly. One slipper is correct, the other is not. I am so irritated by this. I didn't realize it until I was finished. I felted them anyhow and now feel very hostile towards them.
Oh well. I hope Abby doesn't mind.
Pattern from Knit 2 Together.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Could not have said it better.

Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns. ~George Eliot

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Ladies & Gentlemen! Children of All Ages!

The greatest show on earth brought to you by Simplicity pattern 3971.

Flair for drama? Possibly. Circus pants? Definitely.

Here is the first example of projects that have gone haywire. I didn't realize the fabric was not wide enough for this pattern. My intention was to make a complete set of pjs; however, since I suck at reading directions, the fabric was only wide enough for pants. Fine.

Worked on the pants last night in sewing class and finished them up a little bit ago.
Some observations:
  • Firstly, I do like this fabric despite multiple comments about how I won't be able to sleep due to the brightest of the pattern.
  • Secondly, I was excited to have a new pair of lounge pants because my current yoga pants selections include miscellaneous holes and pulls.
  • Thirdly, they are huge! HUGE. GINORMOUS! I mean really, the crotch is basically to my knees. Oh well.
  • Fourthly, the seams are lovely. I love the serger in sewing class. Love it. I want one. Look at how perfect the seams are!

With this Ring.

I feel like my every attempt at starting and completing a project has been cursed. I will not get into it because it will just frustrate me and I'm not finished my first cup of coffee yet. I don't have the energy for frustration.
Instead, I'll discuss onion rings. I don't know why I'm like this, but once I get something into my head, I become totally preoccupied with it. OK, that doesn't hold true for everything, just things I'd like to make.
Anyhow, for whatever reason, on Saturday I became possessed with the need to make onion rings. I had two huge onions sitting on my kitchen counter and I had everything else I needed, so there were no additional purchases needed . . . a big bonus in my mind!
I read a few recipes online and just winged it. In an attempt to trick myself into thinking I am making an effort at losing weight, they were baked instead of fried.
I was pretty disappointed. I'm more than positive that they would've been absolutely delicious if they were fried.

Here's what I did:
sliced onions thickly (duh.)
dipped onions in egg wash
coated onions in a mix of flour, paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, salt, pepper
dipped in egg wash again
coated with seasoned bread crumbs

Baked in a 425 degree over for 20 minutes. After 5 minutes, rotated pans. After 10 minutes, flipped rings. After 15 minutes, rotated pans again. Bake another 5 minutes. Done.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


We made focaccia as a way to snazz up our boring pasta dinner. Since we didn't have salad (felt too lazy to go to the store), I thought focaccia would be a good accompaniment.
I've made it before. Many times. And it always comes out "eh." After all these years, I don't know why I haven't put forth any effort to find a better recipe. The recipe I use is from "The Joy of Cooking." It is the same recipe that is used for pizza crust. It's delicious for crust, it's mediocre for focaccia. Oh well.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Good Morning!

Autumn is in the air. I'm excited. Very excited.

Last night I fell asleep on the sofa. The windows were open and crisp air was blowing in. My husband does not like to sleep with the windows open; this is one source of contention in our marriage. He is very sensitive to sounds outside. I can understand, we live next to a busy street; for me, the chilly breeze promotes an easy cozy sleep despite buses and motorcycles, for him, the buses and motorcycles keep him awake and he gets frustrated.

Part of me wants to sleep in our daughter's room because she doesn't sleep in there. I want to sleep in a big bed all alone with the windows wide open to allow myself to be chilled by the air and warmed by the blankets. The other part of me doesn't like the idea of not sleeping in bed with my family. That sides always wins. My personal compromise is to fall asleep on the sofa until about 2 or 3 am and then stumble up the steps to sleep in the air conditioned vacuum that is my bedroom.
This morning the chill was still in the air. I am feeling regretful that I gave up on a lace-knitted sweater pattern that I started in the summer. I poured myself some coffee in my pumpkin mug and watched the steam swirl in the air. I wish I had a tea biscuit.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

My Favorite Part of Knitting Made More Fun!

FYI: that title is totally and completely sarcastic.

I don't like the process of unraveling a hank of yarn to make a ball. I just want to *start* the project. I don't like prep work. Kind of like when I want to start a cross-stitch project, I despise sorting out the colors. Granted, the last time I did that was when I was in the hospital after the birth of my daughter. And yeah, I think that project has about two or three stitches on it. (sidenote: when a nurse saw me separating the thread she said, "You're not going to have time for that anymore." Obviously, this nurse was not nominated for any awards for superior bedside manor.) I will get to it one day. It's been sitting in the same tote bag for almost three years. It'll happen. I swear.

Back to the point, if you want to know how to make a task you already abhor even more frustrating, add a kitten to the mix. (Please excuse my horrific need for fresh nail polish.)

Monday, September 15, 2008

A Few Things...

I've abandoned the foliage hat. It just wasn't working out well with the yarn/needle discrepancy. I will do it again. I've already purchased the proper yarn. Kudos to me for reading directions correctly.
I've been working on a pair of slippers. They will be a Christmas gift for one of my sisters. I am a bit frustrated with the directions. I swear, it's not me! (OK, it probably is, but let's pretend it isn't.) I have to keep reading and re-reading and re-reading them. Must. Have. Patience.
Oh, and yesterday I spent way too much money at Joann's. And surprise, surprise, I didn't buy any fabric! No, instead I dropped money on three knitting books, the proper yarn for the hat, and various autumnal decorations.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


I bought this pattern a couple of months ago. Or was it last month? I don't remember and it really doesn't matter. I finally got to it.
It was very simple and quick. Very appealing adjectives, no? I think it turned out really cute except now I have another stuffed animal laying around my house. Oh well. At least I can say I made this one.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Sewing Closet.

Our basement is in the process of being redone (if contractors would ever call back, it would be finished yesterday.)
The one closet is becoming my sewing closet. I am excited about this because I'm tired of my sewing machine being stored in the dining room and used in the kitchen. I am tired of having to go down the basement every time I need to press a seam open.
Last night on flickr I was searching for inspiration. This one is my absolute favorite, but unable to be saved in a mosaic; and personally unattainable, so I don't know why I saved it. *sigh* A girl can dream.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Last month I decided that I am going to do a handmade Christmas. I will either make or buy handmade. I have a five subject notebook with ideas and sketches. So what did I start on yesterday? The foliage hat for myself. Naturally.
I went to Michael's and got the needles and yarn. I have to be honest, now that I've been working with a nice stash of yarn, I really don't like the yarn that Michael's has to offer. Yes, I'm turning into a yarn snob. Too bad my reading skills aren't as particular as my taste in yarn...
The pattern has two sets of directions. I copied down the type of yarn I need for one hat and the needles I need for the other. I have thinner yarn and bigger needles. After I complete the messed up hat, I will start fresh with nice yarn in the appropriate thickness. Live and learn. And read directions thoroughly.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

What it's NOT About.

This blog is NOT about how last night I spent the full two hours of my sewing class laying out a pajama pattern only to discover that the fabric isn't wide enough. It won't fit the entire top and bottom of the pjs; therefore I am only making a a pair of long pajama pants.

This blog is NOT about how had two pay for the two sewing classes I missed. (One because I was cranky and Joe was home late from work and I didn't feel like rushing; the other because I was helped my sister paint her new house and didn't want to offend the sewing class by showing up unshowered, stinky, painty, and frizzy.) I love dropping an extra $40 for no good reason. I'm really pissed about this. Seriously. $40. May not be a lot to some, but for me, a woman who only works part-time and has an expensive yarn/fabric/pattern/book/gymboree habit, it's a lot.

This blog IS about a scarf. A scarf that I started quite some time ago, but messed up multiple times. Each mess up equals a few weeks of punishment for the yarn for not doing what I want it to do. The punishment is that it sits unattended under an end table in my living room while other cooperating yarn gets to make mitered squares.

This morning I finished the scarf. It is currently sitting pinned, stretched, and damp on my ironing board. It is lovely. The yarn is amazingly beautiful. The colors are everything that I love and it was created by Amber. This is the first time that I worked with Manos del Uruguay and it's nothing short of perfection. I love feeling the changes of thickness in the hand spun wool.
(first picture is unblocked, second picture is blocked and sprayed, third picture is close up of pattern)

And, as a shameless plug, I took the photos for the Manos Wool Clasica booklet. Thanks to Fairmount Fibers & Rosie's Yarn Cellar owner Lisa R. Myers for the wonderful experience!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Autumn. And Knitting.

According to the calendar, autumn is arriving in a couple of weeks. I am anxious for crunchy leaves underfoot, crisp, chilly nights, and cozy scarves. Sometimes I wonder if I concocted these things in my mind, as the past couple of autumns have lacked much of what I expect it to be.
In a effort to welcome the autumn I crave, I've been wanting to knit this hat. Perhaps it's the colors used, or the pattern of leaves, but it seems to be the quintessential garb for a chilly evening's run to a book store followed by stop at the mastermind of the non-fat pumpkin spice latte.
Like most hats, this pattern requires the usage of double-pointed needles. I've tried and failed several times. I am very clumsy with the needles and the casted on stitches slide right off. Very high frustration level. Until last night. I don't know why, but around 11:30pm, I just needed to figure this out. And I did. I am quite proud of myself; so proud that at 1:00am when I decided it was time for bed, I couldn't sleep. I was tossing and turning thinking about the hats and socks that I can now knit.

One thing I have decided, is that I hate those clinking metal needles. I much rather prefer bamboo needles.
I have been using bamboo needles for several weeks for my mitered square afghan that I'm making for Abby. It will either be for her birthday or for Christmas. (Please note, I am not saying it will be this birthday or Christmas.)

I got a ridiculous amount of yarn from my friend Amber (who was recently featured on artblog) and am making the mitered squares from that stash. I am enjoying the squares because they are quick and easy to knit. And I can vary the color patterns with each square.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Grape Tart.

Baking with grapes. Who knew? Apparently, Cooking Light did. I happened upon this recipe and was instantly intrigued. I purchased the grapes with plans of making the tart Sunday morning. The tarts calls for both red and black grapes. Besides never baking with grapes, I've never eaten black grapes. They are delicious! They taste like grape juice. (duh!)
Anyhow, I realized that I didn't have butter or oranges like the cooking light crust calls for. I whipped out the Veganomicon book and found an apple galette recipe and just used the pastry recipe from that (plus an additional tablespoon of sugar...I like sweet pastry dough.)
The tart was really good. I was surprised that the grapes didn't wilt or shrivel from the 400 degree oven heat. Also, it would have been vegan except that I brushed the crust with egg yolk, I realize that is easily remedied. (I would have used soy milk to make it 100% vegan, but I assembled the tart at my parents' house.)
So, here's the recipe:

2 c flour (I used 1c unbleached, 1/2c whole wheat, 1/2c whole wheat pastry flour)
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 c non hydrogenated vegan shortening
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2c - 3/4c ice water

2 1/4 c black grapes
2 1/4c red grapes
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tbsp cornstarch
3/4 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Combine flour, sugar and salt. Add shortening in small amounts. Cut into flour mixture until dough is crumbly. Combine vinegar & ice water. Add that combination to the flour mixture in three batches. Form into ball, flatten, refrigerate 30 minutes.
Roll out dough into 11" circle.

Combine all ingredients and gently stir. Put fill in center of crust. Leave 2" to fold crust up on the filling.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

(Oops! Forgot to mention, brush crust with egg yolk and sprinkle entire crust and topping with raw sugar.)

Friday, September 5, 2008

Red Zinger.

I love red zinger iced tea. There really is no way to describe its taste. There's a hint of mint, but it's not overpowering. The main ingredient is hibiscus, which I find intriguing. I enjoy this tea so much that I purchased some hibiscus sorbet from Whole Foods. I was sorely disappointed. It tasted like cold sweetness. No flavor. Red zinger set my expectations too high.
Oh, why did I take a picture of this particular glass of red zinger? Can you guess? Does it have to do with lavender? Why, yes, it does. Since I had to half the recipe for the ice cream because I only had half of the fresh ricotta, I had extra lavender simple syrup. Not that you can tell from this photo, but there is some lavender simple syrup in there. And, that syrup made my iced tea so much better.
I think I'll make lavender simple syrup and pour it into a glass of plain seltzer for some lavender soda.
Ooh, I also thought that since the ricotta ice cream base was just so creamy, I could use that to make other flavors like cannoli ice cream. Ricotta base, bits of dark chocolate and broken up cannoli shells. Sounds good in theory.

Lavender Simple Syrup:
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 tsp dried lavender

Combine sugar and water. Heat until sugar dissolves. Turn off heat and add lavender. Let sit for 30 minutes. Strain over mesh sieve to remove solids.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Halloween Skirt.

I made myself a Halloween Skirt.
Initially it was going to be designed after the "East Meets West" skirt in the "Sew What! Skirts" book. (Click here for an example.) The top of the skirt would be the spider web fabric, the bottom the witch fabric. I messed up though. (surprise, surprise.) I didn't cut enough of the witch fabric for the bottom part, and then didn't have enough fabric to start over. *sigh*
I then just made a fitted waistline A-line skirt and added a pocket with the complementary witch fabric. I added a decorative stitch around the pocket mainly because I made the seam allowance too large and the pocket was kinda flappy.
It's cute, but I had some issues with the waistline. I didn't count enough for seam allowance (thank god the pocket had enough seam allowance though! *duh*) at the waist, so the zipper sticks up a bit over the waistline. That's OK because, apparently I accept mediocrity and I don't tuck my shirts in, so it will not be visible. I do need to add a couple of darts in the back so it fits a bit better. Since my hips are freakishly larger than my waist, which is quite large in and of itself, the darts are needed despite my accurate (snicker, snicker) measuring.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Dinner & Dessert.

For dinner we had Black Bean Quesadillas with Goat Cheese. I made this a couple of weeks ago and it was a hit with everyone involved. Plus, it's quick, so you can't really beat it. I would like to try this with homemade tortillas, but that kinda defeats the "quick" part.

My only alterations to the recipe are:
1. I use a lot more cilantro and cumin than recommended and
2. I use peach/mango salsa; it adds a nice sweet complement to the tangy goat cheese.

For dessert. Ah, sweet, sweet dessert. I made the ice cream. Since I messed up somewhere in the cheese making process and only had half of the amount of fresh ricotta I needed for a full recipe of the ice cream, I halved the ice cream recipe. To my chagrin, I only have half a recipe of the lucious, creamy, smooth, aromatic, savory, deliciousness that is the Honey-Lavender Ice Cream. Oh. My. God. This stuff is divine. It is reminiscent of Capogiro's rosemary honey goat's milk gelato, but the base is sweeter and the flavor is more condensed. The only potential adaptation would be the elimination of the honey because the flavor is masked by the lavender, and it really only adds more sweetness; I have an intense sweet tooth, so I love it, but I know others will find it to be too sweet.

Also, this is the first homemade ice cream that I've made that isn't overly icy or hard. I always make the ice cream low-fat or even vegan. Sometimes both. Those two things do not contribute to a creamy ice cream. They really only satisfy my need for an evening sweet. This ice cream, this ice cream is pure bliss...don't let the bland photo trick you!

Say Cheeeese!

I made fresh ricotta cheese. My mom let me use her candy thermometer, so I didn't have to buy one.
When I asked the grocery store clerk the location of cheese cloth, you would've thought I asked where they keep their crack. So, I found a cotton meshy cloth and used that. It worked quite well, but I did have sew the two cloths together to make one big cloth.

Overall, I enjoyed the cheese-making experience, but I can't say I'll do it again soon. I honestly didn't see the benefit of the thermometer, because you could see when the curds were forming, so the temperature on the thermometer was irrelevant.

I don't know what I did or didn't do, or if I did everything just right, but there was a lot of extra whey. A lot. The curds to whey ratio was kinda off, and I figured that would be the case, just not as extreme as it was.*
Later today, I'll probably be making ice cream.

*I was definitely off! The recipe should have made 3 cups. I only got 1 1/2 cups. Not sure what I did wrong...

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


Several months ago, I saw a recipe for Honey-Lavender Ricotta Ice Cream in Cooking Light. I have been on a half-assed quest to make it.
I couldn't find lavender in the regular supermarket or in Whole Foods. I realized that I'd have to get it at Reading Terminal Market or The Spice Corner in the Italian Market. I happened to be in the Italian Market on Friday, and therefore purchased 3 oz. of dried lavender.
I couldn't remember how much the ice cream recipe called for, so I figured I'd be on the safe side. Turns out the recipe calls for 1 tsp. ONE TEASPOON. I have 3 ounces!
So, I thought I'd be making the ice cream this weekend, but then I saw the recipe recommends fresh ricotta. I like the idea of making fresh cheese; however, I need to get some cheesecloth and a candy thermometer. The half-assed quest continues. Sure, cheesecloth is easy enough to find, but I gotta go out specifically to get a candy thermometer. This ice cream better be damn delicious once I get all the stuff I need to make it!
And now, to the main point of this post. Since I have so much extra lavender, I've been searching for lavender recipes. I found the perfect recipe. (Perfect = Having all ingredients on hand).
Lavender Shortbread.
It's pretty delicious and I am pleasantly surprised that both my husband and daughter seem to like it. The recipe called for the cooled cookies to be sprinkled with powdered sugar, but I didn't feel like getting into that mess with my, um, little preschool-aged helper.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Summer Highlights Part Two.

  • Garden Delights!

  • The Arrival of our new kitten George.