Friday, October 31, 2008

Unfinished Business

I'm issuing a public challenge to myself. Perhaps by putting it all out there I will be compelled to finish. I started a quilt for O. last year intending to finish it for her birthday. Well, it remains incomplete, many, many months later. I still have to quilt it and add the binding. I have to admit that while I love looking at quilts and admire the artistry and beauty of them...I'm not a quilter. I don't enjoy it, in fact I find it mindnumbingly boring. But...I started it and I should finish it. So...I'm getting it out of storage and I going to finish this thing for Christmas. You see I want our Christmas to be simple and I want the gifts to be thoughtful and lovingly given; and by george if I ever finish this quilt it will indeed be because I love that little wild haired girl! No excuses...the quilt must be finished.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


Meet Master Skywalker. E. insisted that he wanted to be Anakin Skywalker for Halloween and I was more than willing to purchase the costume. However, I guess a few others wanted to be Anakin too and I couldn't find a costume locally. I looked online to get an idea of what Anakin wore (basically a karate suit and a cape from what I can tell) and so I made one up. E. is thrilled with it and has been brandishing his lightsaber at his brother and sister all day. I'm just glad to mark another thing off my sewing list. Next up for me, a few bags that I have cut out and a couple of dresses.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

My little ladybug down, one to go. I'm making 2 of the 3 Halloween costumes for my younger kids. I don't know what I was thinking when I told them I would do this...ah, but what is a sewing mama to do but bite the bullet. I tend to procrastinate when it comes to craft stuff and I have a deadline (some how it takes away some of the joy of crafting I guess). As it is Wednesday and I still have the cape to finish for ds' costume, you see why I might be feeling a bit under the the gun.
Anyway today they wore their Halloween costumes at O's dance class. They were all so sweet. I grabbed a picture of O. in her mamamade costume before we headed out the door.
I'm still undecided as to weather I should attach black circles on to O's tutu, but otherwise I'm pretty pleased with her costume. It's by no means perfect, but she seems pleased with it and that's really all that matters, right.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

All my lovelies

I have a fondness for things from the past in case you haven't noticed before now. Call me a retro gal. One of the things I really admire from the past are sewing machines. Not necessarily antiques, but vintage machines really tug at my heart strings. I love the simplicity and power. I love that they were built during a time when people really appreciated being able to sew and that you were suppose to be able to really bond and care for your machine. I love that some of the machines I adore today were loved and adored by someone else long before me, and yet they still have to ability to provide pleasure as well as function beautifully 50 or more years later. I've been collecting vintage machines for about five years. I still have a few that I want to acquire such as a Bernina 830 and a singer 201, but due to my space limitation I have to be pretty selective about what I bring home. I'm not a complete Luddite, I do have several modern machines...but these are my old lovely ladies. A couple are missing, the elna supermatic (it's staying at a friends house until I can go get it) and the pfaff's in the garage (I know...I don't love it, but I can't seem to part with it either).
I try and sew on all of them every few months since they all are great and I want them to stay in working condition. Nothing is sadder than a lovely machine in disuse. I have to admit that my favorite is the Viking. It's just an awesome machine. I think the singer 221 is the cutest thing ever. I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for my rocketeer as it was the first vintage machine I got. Let's face it...I love them all. They all have a story.
Anyway, here are my gals. Enjoy.

I always imagine this machine came from a tailors shop. It's so strong and powerful and was in impeccable shape when I found it at a thrift store, all that was missing was the bobbin case which I picked up inexpensively. It came in the cutest maple desk, very retro. That's actually what I noticed first, I thought it was a small vanity table...but it was a Bu Nova. Even though it was in a thrift store, you can still strike a bargain. I talked him down to $25 and loaded her in the back of my SUV.


Singer 401, I got it from a friend that I traded for a purse I made her. I guess outside of my time it maybe ended up costing me $3.


This brown beauty belonged to a lady who loved to sew and loved this machine. I bought it from her son off of Craigslist. She had a stroke and can no longer sew. She had everything for it including the original box. She had all the feet and cams that were available for it and it was serviced regularly as apparent by the machine shop stickers on it. I adore it and I feel so proud to be able to stitch on a machine that obviously has provided so many years of pleasure. I love the stitch quality and that low gear about power!


The Alden. It's just visiting me until I can find a base for it. I plan to gift it to one of the girls from Step up, but it came in a cabinet and it's not practical for them to have machines that aren't portable. It's a nice little Japanese class 15 clone. Cosmetically she's seen better days, but she does stitch well, so just goes to show you can't pass up that diamond in the rough.


Kenmore 47. It came from the same thrift store as the necchi. They seem to get a lot of machines in. I paid $8 for it in a cabinet. It's high shank and runs like a dream. It's the machine I let the kids use since it has the knee pedal that they can operate.

This machine from Montgomery Ward (remember them?) is also Japanese. It's a nice little stitcher although quite heavy for a portable model. I acquired it for my mother, but it's been living with me for about two years. I do take her to classes and also let some of the girls in Step Up that don't have machines yet sew on her. She the baby of the bunch, probably from the mid 1970's...but still very nice.

Ahhh, the rocketeer. She's my first love and I'll never part with her. She was the very first vintage machine I got. She came to me free from a friend who decided that she would opt for a "newer" and easier machine. Honestly, what could be simpler than a rocketeer. She's a beauty and she absolutely purrs. I love that she's gear driven. No belts to trouble myself over and once I got her oiled and lubed there was no stopping her. She's a dear!

Talk about cute as a bug...this 1030 is just that. It comes in a clam shell case and has a little fold out extension table built in. It's from the 1970's built by Jaguar/Maruzen of Japan as a 3/4 head machine to rival a singer 221. It's actually has a much more powerful motor than the singer 221 and if you find one that is in great working condition you'll be amazed at just how powerful this little number is. It weighs in at about 14lbs with the case. Mine is the basic model, it does a straight stitch, zigzag and if I remember correctly a four step buttonhole. Later models had a few fancier stitches. I'm saving her for my daughter. I think she'll absolutely love having this cutie pie to learn on.

Last, but not least is my singer 221 featherweight. It was a gift from my dh for my birthday. I found her on Craigslist. She wasn't a steal at $175, but she was long desired, in awesome condition with the case, all the attachments, accessories and the manual so I was more than happy to bring her home. What's to say about a 221. They make an absolutely beautiful stitch and are very collectible and desirable. Quilters love them because they are portable and the stitch quality is unparalleled. What's the only does one thing, but does it well. Since it doesn't do zz, you don't get that wavy look that you get with machines that zigzag too. Once you see the stitch that a straight stitch only machine can produce you'll never look at a stitch line the same. I think if you ever have a chance to own a FW you should. They are amazing in what they do. Sure, they don't have the most powerful motor in 3/4 head machine from singer of that era...but could anything else more fully embody Singer than a featherweight?

So there you have it. That's most of my machines. Of course I didn't photograph any of my modern friends, I'll save that for another time.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Monday's meal

If you know me, you know I love a good casserole. They are every busy mom's best friend. My go to meal when I'm short on time is spaghetti. We always have spaghetti fixings on hand and I can whip it up and serve it all inside 45 minutes. Every now and then I like to kick it up a notch by doing a variation of my tried and true, so that's where this meal comes in, it's baked spaghetti. Think of it as a lasagna made with spaghetti noodles. It's delicious and even better the next day. Enjoy!

Baked Spaghetti

1 package (16 ounce size) spaghetti
1 pound ground turkey (but you can use beef if you prefer)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 jar (26 ounce size) spaghetti sauce (your choice, but I like one with garlic and herbs)
1 minced garlic clove
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
2 eggs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
4 tablespoons butter, melted
2 cups ricotta cheese
4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup of monterey or colby cheese to sprinkle on top

Prepare a 13 X 9 inch casserole dish by spraying with non stick spray and set aside. Cook spaghetti according to package directions for al dente, drain and set aside. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook the turkey, garlic and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in the spaghetti sauce, salt, pepper and Italian seasoning; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, Parmesan cheese and butter. Add the spaghetti to egg mixture and toss to coat.
Place half of the spaghetti mixture in the prepared baking dish. Top with half of the ricotta cheese, meat sauce and mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers. Cover and bake at 350 degrees F for 40 minutes. Uncover and top with your cheese for topping; bake 20-25 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Little Bill and the lost art of letter writing

You know that children's channel noggin? Well it's on at my house quite a bit. I like's really is like preschool on tv, just like they say, lol. Last night I happened to catch an episode of "Little Bill" (hey you get sucked in) that talked about letter writing. LB noticed that members of his family were getting letters and he wanted one too. His father explained that to get a letter, he needed to write a letter. It got me thinking. I used to be a great letter writer and really enjoyed it. Now with email, instant messaging and free unlimited long distance I can't recall the last time I actually took pen to paper to write a letter. It's really is a lost art. So, I've decided that for my Christmas present to myself I will purchase some lovely stationary and make a point to write one letter a month to someone. I mean I should be able to handle one letter a month shouldn't I? I think I know just who I will start with. I think it's important to take time to do things in our life with purpose and that add a layer of richness that we sometimes forget about. I think writing on beautiful paper with a beautiful pen will make the letter writing experience all that more pleasurable.
There are a couple of places in town that sale papery (is that what it's called?) that I will check out and see what I can find. Oh, maybe I'll get one of those stamps off ebay that says "from the desk of..." or something catchier. I'm excited. Letter writing, who knew?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Happy Halloween!

I've been very busy sewing Halloween costumes, but took a moment to crank out a sweet little A-line jumper for O. I took a page from the Martha Pullen and rather than do button closures I did ribbons. I think it came out super sweet. She picked out the fabric herself when we were at JA's recently. It's from the new Debbie Mumm line. I tend not to like things that are so specifically themed. I mean after next week it's not like she can really wear it again, right? But, I guess you're only young once and everyone should have a little purple ghost frock, right. I'll try and add a model shot if I can catch her in a photogenic mood.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Breaking Through!

I wrote a few weeks back about my falling short of my weight loss goal and how I needed to get back to the basics and buckle down. Well...finally after almost 10 weeks of struggling to break through my palteau, I've finally lost 5 lbs. I feel energized! Now I'm only 28 lbs away from my goal. I can see the light! I doubt I'll be there by the new year, but maybe I'll be closer still. I've tried really hard to drink more water and snack much's a struggle every day, but I'm trying to stay the course. I still go to the gym every day that I'm not working. I've even came up with a solution on the days that I can't go...I'm breaking out the old dvd exercise programs and giving them a go. I have the whole Leslie Sansom series, I really like her style. I feel like I can finally start seriously thinking about what tatoo I want to get when I reach my goal and where I want to put it.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Monday's meal

Just the other day I happened to be at my local grocery store and scored a bunch of "red label" meat. That's when they mark the meat down that needs to sale quickly. That never bothers me as we have a large freezer and I love the savings. With the economy the way it is, you gotta save wherever you can, right?'s red label meat for me,lol. I like pork chops, but they can tend to be dry if you overcook them. I have a couple recipes for baked pork chops that are so easy and delicious that I thought I had to share. So, next time you're at the store, grab that pack of center cut chops and give this recipe a go.

Italian Pork Chop Bake

3 cups Italian seasoned bread crumbs
2 cups grated Parmesan
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup butter, melted
1 tsp of lemon juice
6 pork chops (I like center cut)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
In a medium bowl, combine the bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, onion power, salt and pepper, mix together well.
Add the lemon juice with the melted butter. Dip the chops in the melted butter and then dredge each chop in the bread crumb mixture, coating all sides thoroughly. Place the chops in a 9x13 inch baking dish.
Bake 40-50 minutes , or until internal pork temperature reaches 160 degrees F (70 degrees C).

Friday, October 17, 2008

Thrift Store Redux

I love a good thrift store and while my mother was visiting this week she was admiring my living room redo. As I was pointing out where I had acquired everything I realized that about 95% of everything in my living room was thrifted. I'm really proud of the fact that my home is comfortable and homey, yet didn't cost me much at all to put together. I'm always on the hunt for new and interesting pieces and as any true thrift store devotee knows it's all about the hunt. You have to frequent stores regularly. Sometimes it's hit, sometimes it miss...but it's all an adventure. So, I thought I'd take you on a little tour of my living room. First off you see the coffee table. That came from a thrift store in Fayetteville, NC. Awesome place to go thrifting because of the military presence. Frequently rather than move stuff they will donate it. The table is from "This end's up". It's one of those cargo style furniture stores and the table is nearly indestructible. As you can see the kids have painted on it and use it as there train/activity table. Talk about the distressed look, lol! I have the end tables too...but use them in other places in the house. The love seat came from my mom, who bought it off a friend who got it out of her physician husbands office. It used to be electric blue. I've had it reupholstered in cream...which was not at all kid friendly, so now I have an inexpensive slipcover from Surefit. Although not pictured, the couch is a very high end find from a local thrift store. Since I live in the state that is considered the furniture capital of the world sometimes they have to do something with samples and store models...lucky for me I scored a classically shaped, down filled couch. It's the best and oh so comfortable. The buffet, I just adore. Scored from craigslist (also a great place to find stuff). It's circa 1960's from what I can gather and has an immense amount of storage. I also got a 1970's storage wardrobe to use to hide away all the kids toys. Even the art work and mirror are from the thrift store. The curtains I made myself. I found a 33 yd bolt of Waverly upholestry fabric at a thrift store for $50. I had originally planned to make slipcovers for the couch and loveseat, but I think the little splash of red throughout the room is a better use of the fabric. The winerack bar in the corner is a really cool iron work piece picked up from Goodwill. I just love it for it's uniqueness and the fact that it can store 40 bottles of wine too.
So there you have it, my thrift store redux.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

My silly ones!

I wanted to get a picture of O. in her Oliver + S lazy days skirt and her brothers insisted on being in the picture. It was hard to get them to stay still and pose for a picture. I thought they were pretty funny though. The lazy days skirt is really fun and easy. A great use for a small amt. of scrap fabric and something to do with all that ribbon and trim I've purchased, lol. I see many, many more of these in O.'s future.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Monday's meal

The weather is getting cooler and that calls to mind comfort foods. One of my favorite comfort foods is meatloaf. Paired with mashed potatoes and green beans I can't think of many other meals that brings to mind comfort food better.
There's many versions of meatloaf, and in my opinion they're all pretty good. Here's one version I thought I'd share.

Homemade meatloaf

1 1/2 pounds ground turkey (or if you can find it meatloaf mix)
1/2 cup crushed buttery round crackers (such as ritz)
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1 (1 ounce) package dry onion soup mix
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons steak sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Stir the ground turkey, crushed crackers, Cheddar cheese, and onion soup mix in a large bowl until well combined. Whisk the eggs, ketchup, and steak sauce in a separate bowl until smooth. Mix the eggs into the meat until evenly combined, if the mixture seems too dry, add a little water. Press into a 9x5 inch loaf pan. Bake in preheated oven until the meatloaf is no longer pink in the center, approximately 45 to 60 minutes.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

M.'s big day!

My youngest son turned 5 recently and to celebrate he invited a few friends to join him at the Little Gym. It was very nice. They did all the work, I just showed up with the cake and the check, lol.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

What's in a name?

I've been wanting to get labels made up to put into all the items I sew. You know, to add a bit of professionalism to them. However, my kids hate tags. One of the girls on sewing mamas made labels using twill tape and that seems like a cool idea to try. But, I've decided I would also get a stamp so I could just stamp my name onto the items. I've found some really cool one's on ebay, but I haven't been able to decide what to call myself. A friend at work made a suggestion, but no one would really get it unless they knew the story behind it. I thought about a nickname from high school. Or a play on my kids name. Or something completely original. I simply can't decide. Do you have a suggestion. How do you decide what to call your creativity? It's so hard to come up with something that says everything you want it to say. Seriously, if you have a suggestion...let me know.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Monday's meal

No respectable southern cook lacks a recipe for red velvet cake. It's a must. I was just at a function this past week and tasted a slice of this delicious southern favorite and thought I would share a recipe for one. Simply Delicious! Enjoy!

Red Velvet Cake

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 cups white sugar
6 eggs
1 ounce red food coloring
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar


2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
12 ounces white chocolate
1 cup unsalted butter, softened

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour three 8 inch pans. In a large bowl, cream 1 cup butter with sugar. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix food coloring with cocoa and add to mixture. Add flour alternately with buttermilk. Add vanilla and salt. Mix baking soda with vinegar, and gently stir into mixture. Be careful not to over mix. Divide batter into three prepared 8 inch round pans. Bake at 325 degrees F for 25 minutes. Allow to cool.
To make the White Chocolate Cream Cheese Icing: Melt the white chocolate and allow to cool to lukewarm. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in melted white chocolate and softened butter. Beat until it is the consistency of whipped cream, then frost the cake layer and stack.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

With baited breath

I await the arrival of my newest elna supermatic!!! Woo Hoo, it was one of the last two machines on my wish list, the other being a bernina 830. I had been trolling Craigslist for months, finally expanding my search to neighboring states. Well, I finally located one outside of Richmond, Va. and this morning my good friend D. went and picked it up for me. I'm very excited! Even more exciting, it was free! Seems the last time the lady who owned it used it ran fine, but when she went to check it, it didn't stitch so she said I could just have it. I'm not worried...I'm sure I can bring her back. Now we just have to figure out the most cost effective way for me to get it here as she said it's a tank and weighs a ton! I can't wait to get it and give it a go. I know that Elna's of this era are well regarded and wonderful stitchers. I will have to join a vintage elna group to learn more about these amazing machines! Just wanted to share my joy and anticipation as I await the arrival of my dream machine.