Monday, April 28, 2008

Monday's Meal

This one would fall under the breakfast or dessert heading.
Anyway, I love bananas and am always on the hunt for the perfect muffin recipe. Aren't muffins great? A little hand size taste of goodness, so here you go banana muffins. Enjoy!

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 bananas, mashed
3/4 cup white sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lightly grease 10 muffin cups, or line with muffin papers.
2. In a large bowl, mix together 1 1/2 cups flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, beat together bananas, sugar, egg and melted butter. Stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture just until moistened. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.
3. In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour and cinnamon. Cut in 1 tablespoon butter until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle topping over muffins.
4. Bake in preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Ten facts that you might not have known about me

1. I'm one of 5 girls, who all had girls (that is except for me, lol).
2. I generally read 2 or 3 books at a time and keep them stashed all over the house and in my car.
3. I can't see without my glasses or contacts.
4. I have to sleep on the left side of the bed and have all the lights off to go to sleep.
5. I love kung fu movies especially if they're not in English and have subtitles.
6. I reread Pride and Prejudice every year.
7. I think Coca Cola is hands down the best invention of modern times and the best beverage in the world.
8. I hate to be barefooted.
9. I'm addicted to coffee, but trying to quit
10. I've been sewing over half my life.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The freak in me

Although, I've encountered a vast virtual world of fellow crafters, in my real life I only know two people who enjoy crafts as much as I do. One is a friend from high school (hey Linda!) and one is a friend I met through an online sewing forum (hey Dawn!). I think that's odd that I haven't met more in my day to day life, because I can't imagine living my own life without some type of creative outlet. Yet, when asked about my crafts (namely sewing) and I begin to talk about them with the passion I feel, I often get the response " sew or knit" along with a look that says that I suddenly sprung a second head. When asked how I spend my week (which generally entails some type of domestic pursuit) I get the response "You're such a good mom"...yet something inside tells me there's a bit of mocking colored with envy in these remarks. Sure they'd like to be able to whip up this or that, but do they actually want to do it? Call me a freak, but I actually love being at home creating and cooking (notice how I left out cleaning)...generally doing things previously thought to be relegated to the role of housefrau. I love when my children say things like "Mommy will you make me this or that" or "Mommy, can we cook". I think of these experiences as my way of scrapbooking (a craft I abandoned with all due haste). Years from now when my children think back on their childhoods they'll recall the sound of my sewing machine and the smell of warm bread. Why, what could be a better memory than that?

Monday, April 21, 2008

The taste of Summer

I just finished sewing O. the cutest little summer top. I see many more of these in her future. It's McCall 5568. It's pretty easy, although I didn't like how they have you close up the collar. Too much hand sewing for my taste. Alternatively, I've altered it to be buttoned at the shoulders on the next version I have cut out. I'll see how that works out. The pants are from last summer (although they fit much better this summer), it's Burda 9708
My girl will probably never make it big as a model as she was too concerned with seeing what the pictures actually looked like than posing for them. Nonetheless, I thought she looked pretty cute

Monday's Meal, time management and a milestone!'s Monday again and it's also my 100th blog post. I don't know how the week goes by so swiftly or that I'd have so much to say! I have to say that I've enjoyed the process of blogging and I love the comments I've gotten. Here's to another 100 post.
Well, I have a long to do list this week, plus I'd like to get some sewing and cooking done. I only worked on the AB bag once last week (I have a post about it,but still need to upload the photos before I post it) and Mother's day will be here before I know it so the pressure is really on. Ah well, such is life.

Now...the meal...well, it's actually more like a side dish to go with the meal, but it one of my favorites. Delicious, decidedly Southern and oh so easy.

Hash Brown Casserole

1 26 oz bag of frozen country-style hash browns
2 cups of shredded Colby cheese (of course you can sub. any cheese you like)
1/4 cup minced onions
1 cup of milk
1/2 cup of beef stock or canned beef broth
2 tbsp melted butter (yeah butter baby!)
dash of garlic salt
1 tsp of salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees
Combine the frozen hash browns, cheese and onions in a large bowl.
Combine the milk, beef stock, half the melted butter, garlic salt, salt and pepper in another bowl. Mix until well blended and then add it to your hash brown mixture. Mix well.
Now get an oven proof skillet and heat the remaining butter in it. When the skillet is hot add your hash brown and cook for 7-10 minutes stirring occasionally and until all the cheese has melted. Then put the skillet in to the hot oven to bake for about 45 mins until the surface of the hash browns are a golden brown.

If your skillet is not oven proof just transfer your hash browns to a casserole dish and bake as directed.

Enjoy and happy cooking.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Monday's Meal

Another freezer friendly offering. This is Arroz con pollo, you can tweak it a bit to suit your taste...try it, you'll like it.

Arroz con Pollo

2 cups rice
2 tsp salt
1tsp pepper
2 tsp chopped garlic
1 tbsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
2 cup black beans
1 cup corn
6 chicken breast
1 cup chopped red peppers
1 cup green onions
2 cup water ( or subsitute beer)
1 cup salsa
2 tbsp tomato paste

Layer all ingredients in casserole (13 X 9 or bigger)with the rice on the bottom, followed by chicken and the rest of the ingredients, cover tightly with foil. Bake at 375 for 90 mins. Remove cover and add 2 cups cheese and bake for 10 minutes more or until cheese melted
If you decide to freeze this to cook up later, thaw completely and then cook as directed.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Waste not...Trace Yes!

Or alternatively, how a frugal girl gets the most from her dollar, literally.

I buy a lot of patterns and I don't limit myself to only the big 3 companies. I buy Euro, Japanese and Boutique lines too and it could get a tad pricey for a girl on a budget who might need patterns in various sizes. So...I have found that I can get a lot more usage from multisized patterns if I purchase them in the largest size I might need and trace the smaller ones out. This philosophy works particularly well since I sew tons for my children and they are still very much growing. And yes, I even trace those patterns printed on tissue paper, lol. I'm a equal opportunity tracer!
What do I use to trace onto you ask? Well my favorite product to use thus far is patternease, but is also the most expensive at $2/yd. I also like using the plastic sheeting for things that are really difficult to see through and that I want the tracing to be used multiple times. I have also used freezer paper. An easy product to come by, but not particularly on the cheap side. For bargain basement tracing medium there's cariff septic liner (they also make a tracing product that has a bit more body). The septic liner can be found at Home Improvement Stores and it sales for about $.27/yd. It's a bit gauzy and thin and when I use it for tracing I trace using a sharpened crayon. It works well on Ottobre. I have some Swedish Tracing Paper on order, but it hasn't arrived, but I'll be sure to add a post about how it stacks up later. You can also use nonfusible interfacing to trace onto...when Joann's or Hancock's has it on sale it's a great time to grab a bolt for tracing. I love using a fine tip sharpie for tracing, colored pencils or sharpened crayons (purchased for a dime a pack at back to school sales). Then really all you need is a large flat surface to lay out your pattern and good lighting and you're off.
For the American patterns you don't have to worry about adding seam allowance or anything. For the European and Japanese patterns you can either trace a size up and that usually works well, or as I do trace the proper size and then eyeball the seam allowance when my pattern is on my fabric and cut it out that way. I don't try to make it hard or scientific. They do also sale guides you can add to your rotary cutter that will add the seam allowance for you. You could use a tracing wheel or a compass too...there's lots of ways to go.
Anyways, here's a micromini tutorial of me tracing out a burda pattern for my oldest son.

a few products you can trace on to.

Can you see the pattern underneath. Just trace over it with your sharpie. I used plastic sheeting this time.
Don't forget to trace all your pattern markings for future reference

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Amy Butler Weekender five

Geez, this bag is taking me forever. Well in all fairness, I guess if I actually got time to sit down and sew, it would go a bit faster, lol. I didn't do any sewing for the last day or so and tonight I have JLR, where I won't sew myself, but will work with the girls I teach sewing to on their projects. I have purchased a machine for one of the girls. I hope she likes it. It's a singer touch and sew and it seems to be in great condition. See, here it is!

Ok, back to the bag. Attached the exterior side pockets and top and bottom panel pieces together. I had to do a bit of handsewing to the bottom where I just couldn't quite catch the piping and panel piece smooth and flatly on my machine. I have to say the Viking is performing splendidly! I will make my bias stripes wider next time to have a bit more fabric to sandwich and worry about trimming it down later. It's coming along wouldn't you say? Starting to look like actual luggage. I think my mom will like it.

The next generation sewer and a dotty dream

My little boy E. is very interested in learning to sew. It had been a dilemma to find a machine that was suitable to teach him on so that he could operate the machine independently. I finally solved the dilemma by setting him up on a vintage kenmore 47 (a thrift store find that cost all of $8, woohoo got to love those thrift stores) that operates with a knee pedal so that even though his feet don't reach the floor he can still operate the machine. He's so excited and has decided that he will make an Anakin Skywalker cape. Ambitious indeed, but I guess when you're young your only limitation is your imagination, lol!

Oh and here's a bag I made, it's called the Dotty Dream Bag and it's a free pattern from Ottobre. The fabric and trim came from my stash. The dot fabric is Chez Ami from the licorice line and the floral is a fabric one of my fellow sewing mamas, Eva picked up for me probably a year ago. I've been saving it for just the right project, I think this bag is it.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Monday's Meal

At the suggestion by my youngest son, M. I'm sharing my recipe for waffles, actually his suggestion was that we have breakfast for dinner everyday, lol!

Here you go,belgian waffles. Super easy recipes and is easily doubled or tripled. Oh and they freeze well too. I sometimes make a bunch to freeze and they make a nice quick breakfast on those busy school mornings. The perfect combo of crispy yet fluffy goodness.

2 cups of cake flour (I just usually use all purpose, but cake would be lighter)
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup of buttermilk
1 cup of milk
2 eggs
1/4 cup melted butter (yep! butter baby!)

Nonstick cooking spray for your waffle iron. Preheat waffle iron.
Mix all the dry ingredients together, make a well in the center and add the liquid ingredients in order, mix just until combined but don't overmix. The batter will be slightly lumpy.
Pour approx 1/2 cup of batter or the amount needed to almost feel the waffle iron slot. Cook till done, should be light golden brown. Enjoy!

Oh and to kick it up a notch you could top w/fresh fruits and homemade whipped cream or confectioners' sugar.

Whipped cream

1 cup of heavy whipping cream
1 tbsp of confectioners' sugar
1 tsp of vanilla extract

Sunday, April 6, 2008

The Amy Butler Weekender four

I inserted the zipper last night. Ugh...the zipper wasn't hard per say, but the fabric again was a challenge. I used a 30 inch nonseperating upholstery zipper purchased at Joann's Fabrics as that was the only 30 inch zipper that was nonseperating that I could find. I have to say her zipper insertion technique is very easy and it gives a really professional looking result to the bag. Today I plan to attach the sides to the zipper and if I have time I will attach those to the front panel. I'm probably 60% done.

You don't say ?

Recently out of curiosity I added a site meter to my blog to see how much traffic I was getting. I guess I wanted to know if I was talking to myself or what...not that it really mattered you know, I would still blog. Anyway, I was pleased to see that I do get a few look sees. Unfortunately if it weren't for the meter I'd never know it because I rarely get any comments. It got me thinking...what makes a person leave a comment anyway. If you go on a blog that is "popular" do you want to leave a comment because all the cool kids did and you want to fit in. When you come to my little old blog do you see a poor girl with a skinned knee and greasy hair eating alone at the lunch table and don't want to be caught dead sitting at that table? Is the world of blogging the new lunchroom? Anyways, it's something to ponder. I don't know if it's marketing (you know spamming your blog all over the net and getting on other blogrolls) or what, but you have to admit it's a curious phenomenon...if I must say.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Handmade vs. Homemade

I realize to many there's a big difference and one brings up images of fashion less, shoddy, cheapness and shabby and one brings up an image of artistry, creativeness, quality and uniqueness. Can you guess which is which?
A few weeks ago my mother and I had a conversation and it went something like this. I was talking to her about how I really have never purchased clothing for dd since she's been born w/the exceptions of undies, tights, coats and shoes. She's had a lot of hand me downs from friends and a ton of mama made and how I plan to make all her clothes for the summer and next fall. There was this long pregnant pause and then she says..."well...does the stuff look homemade (or something to that effect). This is from the woman that bought my sisters and I our first sewing machine and signed us for summer sewing lessons. Even she was looking down her proverbial nose at homemade. Honestly...isn't homemade synonymous with handmade. I mean if you make something at home isn't that being made by hand. But homemade lacks cache. It's the ugly stepsister, the mangy dog in the lexicon of craft talk. I've even succumb and find myself correcting it in my's not homemade, rather it's mama made or handmade. Ah well, I still plan to create my handmade stuff at home.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Well, it's day 3...making progress

Ok, a couple things I thought of to share. Fabric selection is essential. I wanted my bag to look high end, perhaps like a knockoff of Louise or Coach. Anyways I'm using this lovely chocolate brown microsuede. It's a bitch to work with! I'm a pretty seasoned sewer and bag maker, but if I weren't I'd probably be in tears. It's slick and stretchy for one, but oh does it look good. So something to consider strongly is your fabric choice. AB recommends home dec weight, that's a great choice and there's some great fabrics to be found, but I had to be different so you know it serves me right if I'm finding my microsuede a less than forgiving choice. The other thing I learned is about helpful feet to use, she suggest a zipper foot and she's not kidding. So far I've been sewing this on my PC 6000 (I know, I said I'd use the necchi...but the Brother is my dear friend and she didn't want to be left out, besides I have a lot of feet for her and apparently I have every foot for the necchi except a zipper foot or cording foot, so boohoo for me)and alternating between my zipper foot and my 1/4" foot.

So progress for today. I've made the outer pocket. I altered the way she had you attach the lining to pocket. I couldn't seem to get it stitched without the stitching showing through even though the directions said they shouldn't...I tried her way, then my way , my way was to make a little hem 1/4 at the top of the lining and then attach it right side together to the cording and then stitching in the ditch stitch the lining down. On further consideration I was obsessing a bit too much about it. It's an interior lays flat and it's stitched straight and now you can't see the stitching on the outside. I think it would pass inspector #8's scrutiny.

So here are pictures of the two front panels w/the handles attached. I used her measurement, but I think next time I'd like the handles a tad wider and longer. The length they are now will require that it be carried by hand, it wouldn't go over the shoulder, so for the next bag I'll add 12 inches to the length and an inch to the width. Oh well, live and learn.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Aren't these the cutest?

I went to Elegant Stitches which in my opinion is THE fabric place in the triangle. Anyways they had these cute patterns by Liesl Gibson called Oliver + S . I love the paper dolls and the classic styling is right up my alley. I hope she will expand her line each season. Nevertheless, as I was in there to get feet for the AB bag and some fabric so I didn't get one...but I will be going back to pick up one. Just thought I'd share a bit of cuteness!

The Amy Butler Weekender two

Alright, on to day 2. Oh, I thought of another hint to share as you embark on making this bag. After you read through the instructions you'll realize that her way of organizing them is a bit unusual. She has you cutting out pattern pieces and fabric 3 separate steps. I understand why she does this, but kept having to get pattern pieces out to use again. So read through and take note of what all you need to cut for the exterior,interior lining, timtex/peltex and interfacing and cut everything out in the beginning. What I mean is cut all the pieces that need to be cut using a particular pattern piece and then put that pattern piece away. That's what I'd highly recommend to someone who likes to be organized when they start on a project. Get all your pieces together and cut them out systematically.
Well...I think today I will cut out the five gazillion strips I need to make the piping. Some reviews I read said they used bought piping or bias tape, God knows I would have too if I could have found some that worked with my fabric choices. Sadly, I'm left to make my own. It's pretty simple though. You find the true bias of the fabric and cut strips at 45 degrees and then miter them together to make even longer strips, lol. Here's a cool site to learn how to make your own bias tape in several different ways.
So this is me cutting out my fabric strips and then sewing them around the purchased cord to make coordinating piping for my bag

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Amy Butler Weekender one

So, I've been planning to make my mother a AB weekender bag for Mother's Day for months. I want it to be really special. She's a nurse and works in a neighboring city and when she works she goes and stays her three shifts and then returns home so she could really use a cute bag. I've agonized over what fabric to pick, I finally thought I had settled on some Alexander Henry for the exterior, but I couldn't find anything that looked good as a coordinate with it and I didn't want to use cream for the handles and the piping since it would show dirt so easily. So I've dug in my stash and found this really nice chocolate microsuede. I think that will work. I'll use the AH as the lining and trim and the microsuede as the exterior fabric.
So...I'm photographing the process. I don't know if it would be considered a sew along or a tutorial (I'm not really sure what the difference is), but I thought it might be helpful to someone to see how I made my bag. First off...I'm not using my usual machine which is a Brother PC6000, which I just adore. However after reading a bunch of reviews about this pattern on Patternreview I've opted to use one of my vintage machines and the lucky winner was my Necchi Bu Nova. She's black and beautiful. I haven't used her in over a year so I dusted her off and gave her a drink last night and she's ready to go.

Alright, first things first. Here's a bit of a criticism. When I pay $12 for a pattern I expect all of the pieces to be there. It might not seem like a big deal to anyone else, but she has you measure and cut out the bottom pieces and the straps. Could she not have made the pattern pieces one more page and included these pieces? Ugh! I go to create my own since I do plan to make this bag for myself and perhaps if all goes well 2 for my sisters for Christmas and I don't want to spend nearly as much time as the first. So there's a hint. Create pattern pieces of these pieces for the bag for future use. Jeez Amy!

So here are my missing pattern pieces. I traced them on freezer paper using a yardstick and a sharpie, oh and of course my kai self healing mat was pretty helpful too.
Boy...I'm beat. Off to bed. I'll work on it some more tomorrow.