Friday, August 28, 2009

Snape Snape Dumbledore

Well, it is Friday, which means that my vacation is winding down. No doubt I have spent a lot of time reading Harry Potter to Orpheus this week. So, in honor of kiddie activities and silliness in general, here is something silly...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Patterns So Hot They're Smokin'...

Right before I left for the Vineyard, two sewing patterns that I ordered from Hot Patterns arrived and I am giddy about them!

First, there is the pencil skirt pattern that I plan to use for my fabulous plaid with silver fabric.

And then there is the 3 Graces T-shirt pattern. I was not looking for a t-shirt pattern, but when I saw this, I immediately knew that I would love it in all three styles and want to make them for myself in every color.

Where I am going to find the time to do any sewing for myself is anyone's guess, but here's to hoping!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Cooking on Vacation

This article, about what to bring with you on vacation when you know you will be cooking, could not have come at a better time.

Right now, Phin and I are in Martha's Vineyard, sharing a small house with my sister, Calliope, and her two sons, Orpheus and Linus. Calliope is a fish-eating vegetarian. Orpheus, who is six, is an avowed carnivore; he burst in to tears the first time he tried carrots. His brother Linus, who is 3, is basically an air plant. All he needs is a little humidity to thrive, although he has occasionally been known to eat pizza and goldfish crackers as well.

So, as we were planning the trip, Phin and I spent no small amount of time talking about what to cook and what to bring. In addition to trying to come up with meals that everyone would like, you never quite know how well outfitted a rental kitchen will be - will there be a coffee pot? A chopping board? What is the pot and pan situ? Anyway, here are the items we decided we could not live without: coffee, salt, pepper, sugar, parmalat (for the coffee), a sharp knife, peanut butter and jelly, and - to ease any tensions - a case of wine to marinade the chefs!

Wish us luck as we try to cook for this gang in a strange and potentially under-outfitted kitchen. I hope your week has some adventures, too.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Crafting to go...

I am packed and ready to go to Martha's Vineyard for a week's vacation with some of my favorite people - Phineas, my older sister Calliope, and her two boys, Orpheus (6) and Linus (3).

As it was getting closer to the trip - and closer to Polyhymnia's baby shower - I decided to take some crafting with me. So, I spent an evening this week prepping a whole mess of bibs and onesies for embroidering. Since they are so stretchy, I applied some iron-on, tear-away stabilizer.

And now I am getting ready to hit the road, with my embroidery in tow. But be sure to check the blog anyway, I have planned a few posts which will go up automatically in my absence.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Another Domestic Goddess in Training: Erato learns to Sew

Erato, the youngest Muse, recently expressed an interest in sewing. Her statuesque proportions - 6' tall and willowy - make it hard for her to find RTW pants that fit, an issue that you know is near and dear to my heart. So, for her birthday, the other Muses and I chipped in to buy her a sewing machine and the basic tools she will need to get started.

For her first project, she and I are going to do a pajama bottom sew along using Kwik Sew 3602.

In addition to learning basic garment/pants construction techniques, I thought this would be a good project because she will have to learn how to alter the pants for length. She is going to have to make it her standard alteration, so why not start now?

Last night we met up for her first "lesson" - how to read a pattern envelope and shop for the fabric and notions. We hit Mood for our fabric, Pacific Trimming for our notions and walked around the Garment District. I brought my camera to take some pictures of us, but naturally forgot all about it. So typical.

Anyway, the homework I assigned is to wash and press her fabric. Then we will meet up again to alter/cut the pattern and our fabric. I promise to take pictures then!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

More Baby Love

Spoiler Alert: Moms-to-be, you know the drill.

I am finally making some tangible progress on the diaper bag! All the pieces were cut and interfaced by Friday, and sewing commenced on Sunday.

Cut, interfaced with hair canvas and ready to go.

Right now, the bag isn't looking very much like a bag. In sewing, it is best to keep your bag or garment flat for as long as possible. It's much easier to work that way. So, I am currently making the front, back, sides and inside of the bag - attaching the straps, pockets and zippers. Once that is done, the various pieces will be attached to each other and to the bottom, and will start looking much more bag-like. Here are some of the pieces in progress.

Left and right outside sides of the bag with pockets.

Front outside piece with pocket - see how well the design lined up? can you even tell there is a pocket there?

Inside lining with pocket - lined up well again!

And here is the entire inside lining with zipper.

Anyway, I know this looks pretty indecipherable at the moment. But as soon as I get to stitch the pieces together, it will go from looking like a lot of odd parts to looking like a bag rather quickly.

I am really liking this pattern. I thought that the last Butterick diaper bag I made had some good features and construction techniques, and this one does, too. I just hope my sister likes it and that it holds up to the wear and tear of mommy-hood.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Peaches and my stash of coffee cake, in 4 containers

Last September, after a peach and apple picking adventure with my niece and nephews, I used some of the bounty to make a peach coffee cake, which was mentioned on this blog, but not done justice. The recipe comes from King Arthur Flour's Whole Grain Baking cookbook. But the results are so moist and tender that you wouldn't realize that it is whole wheat at all. (No one knew until I told.)

Happily, peaches are back in season - and it is a particularly good year for them! So, I am a happy baker. One tip - courtesy of MarMar - which has made all the difference in my baking in the last year is to measure ingredients by weight rather than volume. It is much more exact. So break out the food scale from your last diet and put it to use. P.S. - Cut into 24 servings, a slice of this luscious cake has a mere 145 calories.
Peach Coffee Cake
2 cups (8 oz) white whole wheat flour
1/2c (2 1/8 oz) all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 c (7 oz) sugar (I used less - 5 oz)
1/2 c (1 stick) butter, softened
1 egg
1 c buttermilk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 c (12 oz) peaches, diced
For the topping: 2 tbsp (1oz) softened butter, 1 tbsp flour, 1/2 c (3.5 oz) sugar, 1 tbsp cinnamon

Combine first 4 (dry) ingredients. Cream butter and sugar. Add egg and beat to incorporate. Scrape bowl. Alternate adding dry ingredients and buttermilk in thirds. Stir in vanilla and peaches and scrape into greased 9x13 pan. Mix topping together in a separate bowl. Sprinkle on top of cake and bake for 30 min at 350. Cool and serve.

Enjoy for breakfast, brunch or dessert.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Never go to Work!

It's Friday and I'm not at work. So, here to sing you a song about not going to work is They Might Be Giants.

Happy Friday, everyone!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Cutting Fatigue

Spoiler Alert: Please refer to this alert if you've got a bun in the oven...
Last night, I began cutting the fabric for the first diaper bag - the one using this fabric. It did not go as smoothly as I'd hoped.

There is a reason why I don't craft at night; I just don't have the mental quickness or attention span to do a careful and precise job. But I was eager to get started, and so off to the Craft Lounge Annex (aka the dining room table) I went, armed with my shears. I cut the pieces for the outside of the bag from the floral print and moved on to cutting the lining pieces from the striped fabric. At this point I began to run out of steam; I cut one of the inside pockets without a thought to how the stripes would line up with the piece it will be attached to, and then I poked my finger with a pin so hard that it bled. Oy vey! Luckily, it looks like I have enough extra fabric to re-cut the botched piece.

Anyway, I still have to cut the contrast pieces (solid fabric) and all of the interfacing pieces. Overall, I am only about half done with cutting/prep. For the last diaper bag I made it took a whole crafting day to prep everything and be ready to sew. And this one seems much the same. Anyway, my next sewing post should definitely have some actual sewing happening, and pictures, too. So, hang in there with me.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Hot Weather, Cold Soup

When I say "cold soup", you probably think "gazpacho". However, while in Spain, I preferred it's cousin, Salmorejo, which is smoother, richer and - at least to me - altogether more satisfying. Plus it is cold. And let's face it, the dog days of summer seem to have finally arrived.
Salmorejo (cold tomato soup)
1 lb ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into chunks
2 cloves garlic
2 tsp sherry vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cup stale bread, crusts removed and cubed
Puree the tomato, garlic, vinegar and oil in a food processor or blender. Add bread cubes in 2 batches and continue to process until thick and smooth. Season with salt to taste. Serve chilled with chopped hard-boiled egg and diced Serrano ham as garnishes.

I totally ignored the egg, but added a drizzle of olive oil as a final touch.
Phineas added fresh ground black pepper to his.

Like a lot of Spanish cooking, this recipe depends almost entirely on the quality of the ingredients. Made with really ripe farmers market tomatoes and good fruity olive oil, it will be a winner. And it takes less than 10 minutes start to finish. We had a little cheese (manchego and taleggio) and bread left over from the weekend to round out the dinner. Perfect on such a sticky day.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Prep and organize

On Mondays, I usually have interesting sewing comments and pictures - projects finished or at least notably in progress. I tend to gloss over the less glamorous or less fun sounding parts of sewing. But this weekend was spent prepping fabrics and pattern, and assembling the various linings and hardware for beginning to sew diaper bags. Essentially, I spent my allotted Craft Lounge time at the ironing board. Not terribly exciting, but necessary work.

That said, I am now ready to roll and will be cutting out the diaper bags during the week. Stay tuned.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Baby Love

Spoiler Alert: This post contains info on and photos of baby gifts that I am making. So, if you are currently pregnant, either stop reading now or start practicing your surprized face. (Up to you which route to go.)

Over the weekend, I dropped by my local fabric store to shop for the many diaper bags I'll be making. I was hoping to take advantage of a clearance sale, but no luck. So I came home and picked out some prints at I have so many fabric stores within a short walk from work that I haven't really done much on-line purchasing. But their virtual design wall made it very easy to select coordinating fabrics, and when my order arrived yesterday - very quick and bundled up with a lollypop that says "Go Sew" - I was very happy with my selections.

Bag One: for a nephew on the way.

Bag Two: for a niece on the way.

Bag Three: for another little girl on the way.

I think the sets of fabric are fun for the moms-to-be without being cutesy. The third set is my favorite, I think, and it will be used for a messenger-style bag like the one I made for KK back in February. The other two will be tote bag style, which I think suits those moms-to-be better.

Here's the tote bag style pattern
In addition to the bags, I keep buying more and more patterns and projects. Here's the latest.

I also have a stack of bibs and onesies for embroidering. And don't forget that babies need stuffed animals.

I think right now I feel equal parts excited to begin this set of projects and "oh-my-god-what-have-I gotten-myself-into!?!?!" overwhelmed. But I read thru the tote bag instructions last night, and they look very straightforward. We'll see in practice. But for now, I am going to take the advice of my lollypop and go sew!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Unstuck... Except Perhaps the Roof of my Mouth

So, after a few tries, I did complete the 8 minute run session of my 5K training program and am once again progressing nicely with my running. Hurray!

I'm still hungry and definitely peanut butter obsessed. When I was in a bookstore the other day, I couldn't resist picking up Peanut Butter Planet, a cookbook that was in the bargain bin.

A whole cookbook devoted to one of my favorite ingredients!

According to an article that Erato sent me, the humble PB&J is the perfect food for a runner. So, I'm letting my peanut butter instincts run free for now, and for this week's Blue Plate, we revisit Peanut Noodles, but this time with a recipe from my new cookbook.

Just pulse the following in a food processor: 1 garlic clove, 2 tsp minced ginger, 3 tbsp soy sauce, 1/2 c peanut butter, 2 tbsp lemon juice, 1 c water. Simmer this on low while you cook your pasta. The recipe called for soba, but I used whole wheat linguini, which was perfect. Saute 3 c of spinach while your pasta cooks. When the pasta is done, toss everything together. I served this with some sliced grilled chicken and a drizzle of sesame oil.

Again, these noodles were good - and definitely satisfying - but not perfect. Next time, I will reduce the amount of lemon juice (2 tsp max) and add some crushed red pepper flakes for a little zip. Also, I am not sure how much the spinach brought to the party. I think carrots, sprouts and snow peas are probably the better accompaniments.

Monday, August 3, 2009


I didn't make progress on my tank top, but that is a'ok. However, I did cut and sew my BWOF halter top. I think the results are cute, no?

I decided to use the remnants from my maxi dress rather than the black jersey in my stash. There was just about enough of it for the top. It was really easy to sew and only took a few hours from start to finish. Although, I have to agree with those that complain about Burda's directions - to say that they are minimalist is an understatement in the extreme.

I don't really view the tank top as a "summer" shirt, since I tend to dress in layers. So this is pretty much my last summer project. Later this week, I'll be planning my fall projects and blogging about baby crafting and my on-line fabric binge.

Oh and one final birthday hurrah for Phineas. He is not much of a cake eater, but was recently reminiscing about baseball helmet sundaes. So, in lieu of cake we had helmet sundaes to celebrate. Here are the remnants... with a birthday message.

Wasn't it lucky that his initials (PMC) could be written in helmets?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Happy Birthday, Phineas!

Happy birthday to my sous chef... buddy...

...partner in crime!

"Grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be..."
- Robert Browning