Still gift-crafting…

The good news is that I am completely done with project 1 of 2 for my one soon-to-be-married friend, and have made some decent progress on the second. I’m hoping that I can finish machine sewing on that by the end of the week, and then save the hand-sewing bits for tv-watching time with the hubby.

Gift knitting has been set aside momentarily, as my carpal tunnel is mysteriously flaring up again, and knitting is way harder on my wrists than sewing. So I need to let them rest and recover a bit first.

I did take a momentary break from the gift projects on Saturday in order to trace out my Reglisse pattern. I’m having a bit of a debate on how to handle the top, because the fabric that I bought for bias tape, thinking it was the tie and sleeve, is actually just for bias tape, and I don’t have enough to cut those particular pieces. So my options are a) leave the tie off altogether and cut the sleeves from the print fabric, b) see if the more local but smaller Joann’s has the same color of cotton, since I have to go there this week anyway to meet a fellow bridesmaid for shower crafting, or c) see if I can squeeze both the ties and the sleeves from the print. Which I’m not sure will look right. Also, I’m not sure if I have enough fabric to do so–I’ve seen several reports around the blogs about this dress being rather short, so for my own comfort, I traced the skirt to the length of the largest size, even though my own size fell right about in the middle. (I hope I have enough fabric for that, too!) I’d love to get this done by the end of the month, so I can at least wear it once this summer.

And, just so this isn’t a totally picture-less post, I also made this on Saturday:

I did taste the end piece,and it was delicious. (And turned out much better than my first attempt!) Bread counts as crafting too, right?

Mission accomplished!

 I’ve just been posting up a storm lately, haven’t I? Don’t worry, it’ll slow down very soon, as this is my last day “off” (other than my flute teaching and band work) before I go back to job #3 at the garden center. Thankfully, I had some warning as to when I’d be starting back up. So my main goal this week was to finish all of the machine work on my mom’s dress so I could do the handwork on Saturday. (Being the not-so-closet geek that I am, Saturday’s plans consist mainly of playing a game over the internet with a few friends. But it’s the sort of game where there’s more talking via a headset than actually typing on the keyboard or clicking with a mouse, so it’s been a good way for me to also get several concentrated hours of off-machine craftiness in so far.) As of about 15 minutes ago, the machine work is done!

 Don’t worry, it’ll hang better than this. I haven’t put the zipper in yet, because I’m going to use one of the methods I learned from the LBD class and hand-pick that. This zipper only goes partway up the back and there’s a sheer part that will extend above, so the greater control of handwork is definitely desirable here. Plus, since part of the plan is for me to resize this slightly if needed to fit me after the wedding, it’ll be much easier for me to tweak the back as needed if I’m working with hand stitches instead of the tinier machine ones! I’ll also need to hem those sheer edges a bit, sew the bodice lining down over the zipper and skirt, and hem the skirt itself. So far, I’m rather pleased with how it’s looking! (And also glad that I decided to serge the edges of the skirt pieces before sewing the seam– I left the top of the skirt and the bodice pieces unserged, and they were a horribly fraying mess!)

Speaking of the serger, guess what? It’s not broken again–I took it to the shop on Friday and the mechanisms are just fine. The problem was that the thread had gone bad! Which, I guess, shouldn’t be a surprise, because there’s a strong possibility that most of the serger thread I’ve been using is older than I am. (It was mostly stuff I got for free from a doll/craft supply shop that my grandparents used to run.) So I tossed a bunch of the stuff that I knew was older, and am going to have to start replacing it as I can. And because I did the brocade bits before this, the serged edges are not the cleanest at all. But the sheer, which was done with the new thread, is much, much better. I’m quite happy that I didn’t have to get it repaired again so quickly!

The cat, who decided to be my sewing buddy for today, was rather more ambivalent about the whole thing. In fact, she was quite unhappy that I dared interrupt her nap on top of my pattern pieces to take a picture. Sorry, Cleo.

One last thing for today….decided to have a little St. Patrick’s Day fun on a whim. Now, I’m not one who will just celebrate any and every holiday that happens around this time of year. I could care less about Mardi Gras, and I have a rather strong loathing for Valentine’s Day. But St. Patrick’s Day has always been a fun one– I’m quite happy to dress the part (today it’s my Shakespeare on the Green top, along with some Celtic-knot embellished jewelry), and I’ve been having fun with listening to some of my favorite Irish bands today (namely The Frames and Flogging Molly so far, but there’s still a good chance I’ll fit in some U2 and/or The Cranberries). Hey, I really am part Irish, so of course I want to have some fun with this! But anyway….on a whim, I decided to make some scones, since I had a little time to kill. They’re total cheater scones because they’re made with Bisquick that was already in the pantry, and I even cheated on the cheater recipe. (No heavy cream, so I used the nonfat milk that I had instead, and I didn’t have chocolate chips, so I chopped up a dark chocolate-raspberry organic chocolate bar. There. Now they’re healthier.) On an even bigger whim, I added some green food dye to make them festive. For total cheater baked goods, I thought they turned out pretty good! Once they fully baked, at least… I may have made them a little too thick to cook through properly until I cut them up and stuck them back in the oven.



Just a little holiday fun!

There’s a tradition in my family, on my mom’s side at least, that when we get together to celebrate Thanksgiving, we decorate gingerbread houses. My grandmother made them for me, my brother, and my other 8 cousins–a labor of love for certain. Now that we’re basically all adults, the guys don’t bother with it (of course), but the girls still have fun with it. A couple of my cousins brought a bunch of extra candy they picked up for really cheap at the dollar store this year, which made for some fun building materials. So I thought I’d show off some things, at least as far as the camera on my phone would let me.

So this was my rather ambitious project this year–Gingerbreaduseld!! (Otherwise known as Meduseld, as seen in The Two Towers. Yes, I am a hopeless Tolkien geek and proud of it.) I can’t take credit for Eowyn, though–that was entirely my sister-in-law’s idea/creation. Complete with candy cane sword, which Julia was very proud of because she managed to get the sword to a) stay on and b) be pointy.

Speaking of Julia, she decided to go the fantasy geek route with me and did a Hogwarts House. Specifically, Gryffindor.

My cousin Katie decided to turn her house into Noah’s Ark. My brother actually helped with this one….namely by sorting through the animal crackers to help her find pairs. And eating the extras. But still, that’s the most participation he’s done since the infamous “Gummy penguin frat house of horror” that he did when we were teenagers (and which we still talk about.)

Aside from my graham cracker additions, Katie’s sister Lauren was the most architecturally ambitious of us. She managed somehow to cut windows in the roof without making it collapse, which I don’t think I would have been able to do. What can I say, I’m clumsy. (I also thought her cookie log stack was a cute touch.)

Stephanie always seems to think she doesn’t do a very good job with this, but I thought her Oreo roof was really fun!

Her new sister-in-law, Kate, did an Oreo roof too. But completely differently. And the little blue house was cute!

So yeah…it’s fun to see all the variations that you can get from the same building materials. And the creativity in other people in my family!

Speaking of creativity, back to my one-woman sweatshop. I’m sewing on a deadline!

All sorts of makeovers

#1: The bedroom makeover. No pictures, because my card reader is currently MIA. That, and it’s a disorganized mess in here. My dad decided on Thursday that the remaining furniture that I’m not keeping was getting out of the room that night. So while we were at it, we went ahead and moved my bed over to here. So even though not all of my stuff is out of the old room, I’m officially in the new room. Hopefully, the rest of the moving things and a good chunk of the organization will happen on Monday. (And that I’ll find my card reader.)

#2: My little fashion project. I have a confession to make: I like researching things. I know that makes me sound like a total nerd, and maybe I am. When I was in high school, I actually didn’t mind term papers because I really enjoyed the process of spending hours in the library delving into a literary topic. I often spend ridiculous amounts of time doing things like clicking through pages and pages on eMusic to find one new band to listen to, or trying to learn everything I need to know to, say, refinish a piece of furniture for my in-progress room makeover. So, of course, to try and get this personal style development project-of-sorts off the ground, I’ve been looking into what I need to know to, in the immortal words of Tim Gunn, “make it work”.

So I’ve been spending some time over the last couple of days (between bouts of working and shifting things from one room to another) to try and figure out just how to figure out what my style is. In this process, I’ve learned a couple of things:

1) “What’s my style?”-type personality quizzes are pretty useless. I took a couple just for the heck of it, and got told that I was athletic (only when I’m backpacking), preppy (which I generally tend to avoid), and a pair of velour sweatpants. I kid you not.

2) Most sites that pop up on Google are actually for businesses of style consultants. I really don’t think I need professional help.

3) Apparently these “must have wardrobe essential” lists want everyone to conform to a classic style. Some of us just simply aren’t wired that way. For instance: a trip to the library sent me home with a couple of books, one of which is a guide from the What Not To Wear people. And while it does look like there’s some good stuff in there, I’m finding the “essentials” list to be somewhat less-than-interesting to me. And, honestly, not necessarily conducive to my lifestyle.

Examples:
a) After “black pantsuit”, they mention “a softer neutral suit with pants or skirt”. Now, I don’t know about you, but unless it’s band concert night, a pantsuit is a bit of an overkill on what to wear while teaching kids flute lessons. So really, why would I need a second when I already have the black one that I made last year?
b) 3 each of winter-weight and summer-weight skirts. Both saying that one should be a tweed. You just don’t wear tweed in a mid-Atlantic summer! (Not to mention most tweed is generally wool, and I can’t wear wool).
c)3 blouses, 2 cotton button-down shirts. What’s the difference?
d) 3/4 length wool coat. Again, I can’t wear wool.
e) Who needs a watch when you have a cell phone that you can just whip out of your pocket or purse?

4) Generally speaking, these style guides don’t really seem to deal with prints very well. Which is a shame, because I do love my funky prints. But in these books, everything’s just so…solid.

So I’m playing around with a couple of things to see if I can sort out for myself what my style is–putting together outfits with a little help from Donna the Dummy, assembling things on Polyvore, etc. And I also want to go through the closet and see what of my crazy print stuff I’m lacking things to coordinate with, so I can start planning accordingly. (Actually, I should probably pull the summer wardrobe out from under the bed too….if I can come up with some basics that would go with both, that might be best, since I’m so far behind on other projects with deadlines that I don’t think I’ll get anything major done in time to mix it into my winter wardrobe!)

Ok, off to bed with me…was out late at a friend’s Christmas party last night, and spent all day today baking Christmas cookies with my mom, and I’m beat.

Mission accomplished!

I’m happy to report that my baked potato soup experiment seems to be a success! I ended up abandoning the crock pot idea….figured that once the prepwork was done, it would be pretty quick to throw together on the stove. So I ended up more or less combining the Alton Brown and Cooking Light recipes. And since I liked it, I wanted to get the new recipe down before I forget!

Baked Potato Soup

Ingredients:

4 baked potatoes
7 slices bacon
2 leeks, thinly sliced
2 tsp minced garlic (though I used the stuff in a jar, and didn’t level it, so it was probably closer to 2 1/2, or about 5 cloves)
2 1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper
4 c chicken stock
3 1/2 c fat free milk (I like the organic stuff, because it’s sooooo much thicker and creamier and yummier than the conventional!)
8 oz light sour cream
1 1/2 c cheddar cheese
Fresh chives for garnish

Instructions:

1. Take the baked potatoes, cut them in half lengthwise, scoop them out, and put the innards through a ricer. (I baked them yesterday and cooled them in the fridge overnight–the nice thing was this made the skins peel away from the potatoes somewhat, so it really maximized the useable part of the potatoes. I do wonder if the potatoes being cold made it harder to put through the ricer, though! That was hard!)

2. Cook the bacon in a cookpot big enough to hold the soup over medium heat. Remove the bacon and set aside.

3. Cook the leeks and garlic in the bacon drippings until translucent. Add the salt and pepper and toss it around a bit more.

4. Add the chicken broth, then the riced potatoes, milk, and sour cream, and mix them up well. (I used an immersion blender because I wanted a really smooth soup. The immersion blender is FUN. Yes, I’m a dork.)

5. Add the cheese and mix it in, then crumble up the bacon and add that; let the soup heat through. Garnish with chives.

A couple of notes, and to give credit where it’s due…

  • From the Alton Brown recipe: the idea of using leeks instead of onions. (I don’t like onions–they’re too strong-tasting to me. That seems to run in my family, because I also have several relatives who don’t like onions, including my mom, my brother, and at least one uncle.) The major contribution of putting the potatoes through the ricer, which helped a lot in getting that creamy texture I wanted. Also the additions of the sour cream and using chicken stock instead of broth–even though I used a carton of stock from the grocery store, I figured that would give more depth to the flavor than just plain broth.
  • Other than the ricer, I took most of the preparation steps from the Cooking Light recipe–cooking the leeks and garlic in the bacon drippings, adding the stock and milk directly to the pan (Alton suggested heating up the stock separately first and then whisking the potatoes and dairy together separately, but that would make extra dirty dishes and I didn’t want that.) Cheddar instead of parmesan. The proportions of chicken stock to dairy were more in-line with this recipe, though I didn’t exactly follow the ingredients here either. (Alton called for buttermilk, and CL for 1% milk, but I didn’t feel like drinking the leftovers and figured the fat-free would make up a bit for the bacon grease.) Also, the bacon–the lack of was the major shortcoming in the AB recipe.
  • The AB recipe called for 2 1/2 tsp of salt, and the CL for just 1 tsp. I didn’t think one would be enough, but I originally tried just two. When tasting it later, it seemed like it needed more, so I went ahead and added the other 1/2 tsp.
  • My own twists: using the immersion blender to make the soup smoother, and adding the bacon to the actual soup rather than just as a garnish. The reasons for this were that I wanted the bacon flavor to infuse the soup more (I feel so Iron Chef saying that), and the more practical reason of the leftovers would just have the bacon sitting in the soup anyway.

It passed the “Dad test” too, although he’s hands-down the least picky eater of my entire family. (He likes to test my food creations though, since my mom’s highly restricted diet means she doesn’t really cook meals anymore. And I guess it’s a nice break from the ginormous salads he usually eats for dinner.) But he went back for seconds and even stated “you could sell this.” That was nice to hear.

Now test #3….let’s see how it freezes.

Not dead yet.

I’ve just been super-busy at work. But here’s a little of what’s been going on in my crafty world lately…

1. The Pattern Review class. I’ve been kind of feeling a bit behind, mostly due to needing to get the feedback from the instructor on the fit and that usually takes several days (I post one day, she posts the next, I fix and post again, etc.) So far, it’s been helpful, though, and I think I’m getting close to the point where I might actually have a muslin I can make a real sloper out of. Here’s where I’m at:
I think the front is actually fitting pretty well. Still having a little trouble with the back, but hopefully the instructor will be able to let me know what to do and I can get the actual sloper made soon.

2. I’ve actually started to make some progress on things for the bedroom makeover. Nothing actually in the room yet, as my brother hasn’t finished moving his things out. I might have to just box them up and stick them in the middle of the room and work around it. But I did start priming pieces for the computer desk as of Monday. And since I’ve felt the need for a sewing project that I can work on in between bouts of muslin-tweaking, but nothing really demanding of my brain, I’ve been working on this instead.

No before pictures, as I forgot to take one, so an in-progress one will have to do. Basically, I’m just taking my cream-colored (at least, it used to be cream….use and the occasional spilling of tea have taken their toll) IKEA storage ottoman–it’s similar to this one but more square-shaped (the lid’s a little off here, which is why it looks more like a Super Mario mushroom tower)–and recovering it with this blue moire. I’m hand-sewing it directly onto the old cover because I’m feeling too lazy to figure out a pattern for the cover of the top. Especially since it would involve about 3 zippers and hammering in some grommets in the exact placement it would need to screw in the little feet on it that helps it sit in place within the box. I am leaving the handles on, though planning on leaving them tucked inside the box. What I store in there are things like my high school and first half of college scrapbooks (which are this odd bigger-than-12×12 size with no page protectors and therefore a bit unwieldy for a bookshelf), old journals, etc., so it doesn’t get the lid taken off too often. In my current room, the idea was to use it to sit in front of the computer, but it’s really more of a dumping ground for my stuff since I generally just sit on the bed instead. In the new room, I’m planning on using this more as a window seat of sorts, to give me a nice place to sit and read.

3. I was planning on going backpacking this weekend with the outing club at my church. Since the forecast basically sucks and I don’t want to spend two days straight outside when the temperature isn’t going to crack 40 (and be raining and possibly snowing for much of it), I decided to wimp out and stay home and work on stuff for my bedroom and whatnot. (Besides, I got scheduled to play on the worship team even though I already told them I wasn’t going to be there…and my brother is the one in charge of the scheduling and was standing right next to me when I blocked out the date and he still didn’t realize I was supposed to be gone! Go fig. I guess I should cut him some slack since this was before the wedding and he’s only been married for a week and a half.) Anyway, since I’m staying indoors, I’m on a quest for the perfect baked potato soup recipe. I’m feeling inspired by this awesome potato soup they used to have at Bennigan’s, may it rest in peace, so here’s my rules:

  1. It must be more or less smooth instead of chunky.
  2. It must be creamy and use bacon.
  3. It must also be a healthier version (since the inspiration is decidedly not, and I want this to be something I can eat on a regular basis!)
  4. It must be able to be made in a crockpot, since I basically just want to dump all the ingredients in something and then be able to prime furniture for a couple of hours.
  5. It must taste good. (Obviously.)

So I’m arming myself with a recipe from this book, this magazine, this tv chef and this blog, and basically just taking all of my favorite parts from each to create my own recipe. We’ll see how it turns out. And when I actually end up making it…there’s a fairly good chance I won’t have to go into the garden center tomorrow due to the crappy weather (I got sent home early today), and if that’s the case, I might just make it for lunch tomorrow. Possibly even on the stovetop, just for kicks. (And warmth…we’re getting a new heater installed and therefore we don’t have heat right now!!)

Random end-of-summer thoughts

It’s not quite the end of my summer yet, but it’s getting close…I have a faculty meeting for the school I teach band at on Tuesday, and school starts on the 31st. I don’t actually start until the Wednesday of that week, though, since I’m only there one day a week. I’ve also been trying to get an idea of what my flute teaching schedule is going to look like, and so far it’s been kind of a mess. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to work in time for both exercise and craftiness, but that remains to be seen. I’ve kind of been feeling like this may be the most hectic fall (which is always one of my busiest seasons) of my adult life to date, between juggling my band job, fitting in my teaching (which I have to rearrange my entire schedule due to schedule issues with music schools that I have no control over), and my brother’s upcoming wedding, which I still need to arrange one piece of music for and then find time to rehearse with the violinist. I really need to try and finish that next week.

In preparation for the fall, I’ve been pondering several things:

  • I’ve had cooking on the brain lately. Maybe it’s my as-of-yet unfulfilled desire to watch Julie & Julia (which, at the rate I’m going, won’t be fulfilled until it comes out on DVD and I can Netflix it), maybe it’s because I’m gearing up for fall and usually the only way I can eat dinner then is to take it out of the freezer. Probably both. But I’ve been in the mood to do it more. I did manage to concoct something on Thursday with some pasta, canned chicken, bottled mushrooms and olives, and fresh tomatoes from the garden–it wasn’t quite something I could call a recipe yet, but it might be worth experimenting with in the future. And I’ve spent a good bit of today cooking–an Asian-style marinaded pork in the crockpot, and a mushroom risotto to eat on the side with some roasted chicken I already had in the freezer. I used recipes for both, but ended up having to tweak both due to some ingredient constraints– the only day I could run to the natural food store to get dried mushrooms was Tuesday, and so I didn’t want to get both dried and fresh because I knew the fresh wouldn’t be good by now and used all dried. And I didn’t have as much sour cream as it called for. And I forgot to add teriyaki sauce to the store list, so instead of doing the peanut sauce that it called for, I ended up having to combine teriyaki, soy sauce and hoison sauce. (Probably just as well….the hoison had been around for awhile, so it was probably time to use it up. I ate some of the risotto for lunch, and it turned out pretty tasty (although better when I added a couple of pieces of bacon!) I’m not sure if it’ll be my go-to recipe though, because it was pretty involved– two saucepans and all. The pork is going to be my dinner tonight, and hopefully will be done within about the next ten minutes of when I’m writing this. So hopefully it’ll turn out ok.
  • Though technically my pledge over at Wardrobe Refashion is supposed to end at the end of the month, I effectively ended it for myself as of yesterday. I need too many pairs of pants to sew and thrift them all by the time it gets cold enough for them here (which, given how the weather’s been here in the mid-Atlantic this year, it’ll probably get suddenly cold right around the middle of October with no warning and no in-between season.) And JC Penney’s was having a sale that I had a coupon for. I’d been getting concerned lately about weight gain due to having to take my measurements for a recent sewing project (which will be elaborated on in a near-future post) and having the waist be a whole inch off from what I’d had written down before. I’m actually feeling kind of better about it after yesterday’s shopping trip, because as it turns out, I was fitting into pants a full two sizes below what I thought it would be! But here’s the problem: almost every pair of pants I tried on still looked awful on me. I don’t know if it’s my particular curves, especially in my thighs, or the fabric they were using to make these pants, but every single lump and bump was showing, and I just wasn’t comfortable with walking around in public like that. (The seamstress in me is inclined to think the fabric is slightly more to blame, seeing as how most of it was thin, clingy polyester blends.) So I ended up only getting one pair of trousers and one pair of jeans (to replace my now-defunct homemade ones, at least until I can rework the fit and have the time to make it.) I’ve come to the conclusion that the only way I am going to get pants that fit and look good on me is to make them myself….though I’m still going to have to try a few other stores in the meantime, because I don’t even want to try them again until I can get the whole fitting thing down.
  • Not to mention I don’t have the time to sew them right now anyway… I have a few other pressing projects on the plate. (Now try saying that five times fast.) I’ve been working mostly on a quickie Ren Faire costume for next weekend, but that’s pretty much done except for two accessories (a head-scarf type thing for my peasanty Gypsy-ish costume, and a drawstring pouch to hold essentials like my camera and money which I’m planning on hanging from my waist for some hands-free fun.) I’ve also been spending some time today on the last piece of my summer mini-wardrobe that I’ll be finishing at this time, my BWOF knit tank top. I’m hoping to finish that after dinner, so we’ll see if the storms hold off. And then the next thing has to be tracing out the pattern and making the muslin for the dress pattern that I’m hoping to use for my brother’s October 3rd wedding. It was a tough decision to make, but I decided to make things easier on myself and not actually sew them something for their shower gift. And I’m thinking that for the wedding, I might just give them an IOU on some pillows to go with the loveseat they bought. (No room in the condo they’ll be moving into for a couch.)

Food cravings aside (the teriyaki pork stuff is pretty tasty, btw! Eating that now), I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my sewing and my lifestyle and how they fit together. And I came to the conclusion that I’ve been putting way too much pressure on myself. Not in terms of quality of the garments, so much– I’d still like the finished products to look good and be finished properly– but more in terms of feeling like I have to make everything. I could almost define it as a pride issue– like I have to be totally DIY and self-sufficient or I’m failing. I want to be constantly developing my skills and stretching myself, of course, but I don’t want to suck all the fun out of sewing by feeling that I have to make everything. Plus that takes away from other creative endeavors that I’d like to do, like my neglected scrapbooks (I did finally get a new batch of photos developed, so that’s a start). And, on a practical note, I’m just not going to be able to sew many clothes over the next couple of months, not while I have an entire bedroom to paint and redecorate and sew for. As busy as this upcoming season of my life is going to be, maybe it’s ok to just step back a little. And not feel guilty that I have to buy pants right now.

(The next post will have a picture of some kind, I promise.)

More jeans experiments and a fail day

Spent the night watching Lost and covering the legs of my imperfect-but-basically-best-fitting jeans with masking tape, in order to give myself some idea of what needs to be done to make this pattern work.
This isn’t a perfect estimate. I wasn’t exactly sure where to place the tape on the back leg (in the middle), and I have no idea if either one is on-grain. (I did have a bit more of a reference on the front leg– tried to line it up with the fly-front topstitching. And this was just done seam-to-seam– no seam allowances on the masking tape part. It looks like the yoke starts higher up on my thrifted jeans than the pattern, too. (Which is kind of scary, considering that these jeans are my absolute limit of low-rise!) And the jeans have a touch of stretch, while this denim (and, I’m pretty sure, the denim I’m using for the real version), do not. And therefore, I’ll have to leave myself a bit of extra wiggle room. Still…it looks like it needs to come in quite a bit to get a good flare shape, particularly on the inner legs. So I’ll have to play around with that a bit and see what I can come up with. I’m thinking I may re-cut the yoke in the back too, if I can figure out how much wider to make it. Good thing I have some leftover denim from this!

Not attempting anything like that tonight though, because this has been a day of domestic fail for me.

Example 1: I’m pretty much out of food stored in the family freezer for me to grab out and reheat on busy teaching nights. So I had the idea that, since my workday gets started later today, I’d do one of those cook all day in the crockpot meals. Found a recipe in my slow cooker cookbook for beef and lentils, which looked a lot healthier than most in there (lots of reliance on condensed cream-of-whatever soup and powdered onion soup mix and fake Velveeta cheese and the like). Plus it had the added bonus of being relatively cheap. So I bought the stuff we didn’t have on hand last night, prepped it this morning, everything came together quickly and yummy-smelling. Turned the crockpot on low, left it while I went to teach band and my flute lessons for the afternoon, and then scooped out a plateful for dinner. It tasted pretty good, though I was surprised that it was only room temperature when I’d had the heat on all day. Turns out, I didn’t. I forgot to plug the stupid thing in. And left a crockpot full of ground beef (which had been cooked in a skillet, but still!) out on the counter for about eight hours. >_< So I ended up having to toss out what was left, because I wasn't sure it was safe to eat. (Though I'm kind of regretting that now, since it's been several hours since dinner and I feel fine, and I ate the whole plateful.)

Example 2: I was looking up some bands on eMusic.com to see if they were available for me to check out, and marking off on a list whether they were. Had to run out in the middle for an errand, and when I came back, I discovered I left the pen cap off. And that there are now several rather visible ink blotches on my denim blanket, which I keep on the foot of the bed for stuff like when I’m eating meals in front of the compy. On the bright side, I’m glad it was the blanket, because otherwise it would have been on the quilt that my mom made that’s underneath! And the blotches are on end pieces, so worst case scenario, I can replace 2 squares. But still.

Friday Favorites, Episode 44: The Saturday Edition

I really did mean to post this yesterday. But I got caught up in spending the time between work and my church’s Good Friday service catching up on financial stuff/balancing my checkbook, and then it was time to leave for church, and so on. So rather than wait until next week again, I figured I’d just post it a day late.

First up is just a tad bit late for tomorrow, but it still looked neat. Vegetablegardener.com had instructions for how to dye eggs with natural products, like onion skins and berries and such. I wonder if it would work on fabric too? (I found this one through Craft Stylish.) For another edible project, I liked the sound of Cheap Healthy Good’s Spaghetti with Asparagus, Egg and Parmesan (or “a mutant freak of deliciousness”, as they called it.) Also from a link from the same site, I found CakeSpy’s post on dessert recipes inspired by classic rock. “John Lemon” bars, anyone? Or perhaps you’re more in the mood for some Rolling Scones?

Via Craftzine, I thought this “cardapult” at Instructables (a toy catapult made from buisness cards!) was really fun! Also at Instructables, they had instructions for how to build a model of the TARDIS from Doctor Who that lights up inside. (I forget which site alerted me to this one– might have also been Craftzine.)

Anyone who’s been following this blog for awhile knows that I am not a knitter/crocheter by any means. Every time I try, the projects are pretty much disasters. Even with machine help. But I still really enjoyed one of this week’s Threadbanger roundups– knit and crochet projects inspired by the good old 8-bit Nintendo! That crocheted Mario blanket is seriously nothing short of amazing. And so is the in-progress scarf that’s intended to show the entire scrolling level 1-1 of the original Mario Bros. game! (Yes, I still love my 8-bit Nintendo!)

Speaking of projects made of fail, the geniuses at Dollar Store Crafts have cooked up a new blog called Craft Fail— basically, to allow people to laugh a bit at themselves (and with the other contributors) when projects don’t go completely as planned. (I think my favorite so far is the soap that ended up looking like spam.)

At Blisstreee.com, there were instructions for some lovely hand-painted background paper. Looks like it would be really fun to try for stuff like scrapbooking! (I think this one was via One Pretty Thing.)

And last but not least, I thought this “landscape dress” at Wardrobe Refashion was very clever! I really liked how she designed that leaf motif to tie the three different prints together.

On a slightly more personal note, I did do some crafting today– basic resizes of 3 t-shirts for a friend. No pics though, since she was hanging out here when I sewed them and she took them home. She was quite happy about it, though. And also doing some plotting for what might be my next Big Project (after the mini-wardrobe, of course! But those should all be pretty simple pieces to put together, with the exception of the jeans and possibly the dress.) As of yesterday, my brother is engaged, so I’m going to need something to wear to the wedding. It’s going to depend partially on in what capacity I’m actually involved– I’m not going to be a bridesmaid, and I’m not sure yet whether they’ll want me to be one of the musicians or not. (I had guessed not, since flute isn’t my brother’s favorite, but when he and my mom and I were talking about it, he didn’t say no. So that was a bit of a surprise.) And it’s also going to depend partially on where it ends up being– they’re not getting married at our church (he works there, so I think he wanted a break!), she wants an outdoor wedding, and they’re thinking October. Which has the potential to be pretty much anything between warm and sunny or cold and rainy with winds left over from whatever hurricane most recently hit the coast, the way things tend to run here. But based on my initial “research”, I’m kind of leaning towards this dress (the shorter version). I kind of want to treat myself to some really nice fabric for it too. I’m thinking silk, because I’ve never made anything with it, and I think a natural fiber would keep me more comfortable in whatever weather we might end up having. And also contemplating a wrap of some sort, in case of cooler weather. Guess I’d better start looking through this book some, to prepare myself for this sort of project!

Friday Favorites, Episode 43

I really need to get back to doing these on a weekly basis. The stack from the last 2 weeks is a bit overwhelming! So best to just dive right in…

Recycled goodness…
I tend to post a lot of this type of stuff anyway, I know, but even more appropriate now that it’s April, with Earth Day coming up and all. The music lover in me enjoyed this Threadbanger roundup of things to do with old vinyl records (I was particularly a fan of the iPod case!) Hippyshopper had a second roundup of recycled jewelry ideas. I don’t really care for the necklace made from recycled nylons, I’ll admit, but I did think the one with the pen caps has some serious potential! Cut Out + Keep had a clever tutorial for making a shrug from an oversized t-shirt— I love the Grecian drapiness of the final look. Dollar Store Crafts showed how to dye Easter eggs using recycled silk ties to put designs on them. Also found tutorials for envelopes done two ways– turning envelopes into gift bags (via Whip Up), and making other paper into padded envelopes (via Craftzine). Craftstylish showed how to make easy earrings out of beach glass (not that it takes much to inspire me to go beachcombing!) and also things you can do with old VHS tapes (the flowers on the straw purse were my favorite.) Finally, going back to Craftzine, there was a table lamp with a shade made from soda can tabs. It reminds me of chainmaille!

And the geek shall inherit the earth…
It was a good week for my not-so-inner geek. Lots of things that made me smile– like Dollar Store Craft’s Alien Abduction Lamp, and Whip Up’s Star Wars mice. Craftzine linked to an April Fool’s joke featuring a Tauntaun sleeping bag (for all those young Jedi wannabe’s, a la The Empire Strikes Back). But my absolute favorite (also via Craftzine) was this Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy-inspired Kindle case. I have to admit that the Kindle also reminded me of the Guide, so I absolutely love this! And if I ever decide to get a Kindle (which I don’t think will be happening any time soon because I still love the tangibility of turning the pages in an old-fashioned paper book), I am SO stealing this. Everybody needs something with “Don’t Panic” written on it in large, friendly letters.

Random Tutorial Goodness
First up, I liked Sewl Sister’s “scrapbook in a box”. Seems like it would be a really good gift for someone, and nice and compact! (I also like her pregnancy calendar bar at the top– especially the snarky commentary!) Little Birdie Secrets posted a recipe for DIY Thin Mints (the only Girl Scout cookie I truly like). I’m somewhat skeptical due to what the crunchy inside actually is, but also quite curious. My fellow Sew Craft Blog groupie Corvus Tristis posted a neat tutorial for how to make an inexpensive weaving loom (and then later updated it with an additional improvement that she says makes it much better. Plus it involves playing with power tools.) Craftynest showed how to make some hemp pendant lamps that would be great for any nature-inspired decor (or Asian, for that matter…), and the Crafty Chica shared some instructions for some simple wooden jewelry using precut shapes and rubber stamp embossing. Craft Leftovers showed how to make your own drawing charcoal (hint: there’s grilling involved). Craft Stylish had instructions for making a reusable sandwich wrap (bye-bye, Ziploc bags!), and Sew Take A Hike had a fun-looking tutorial for embellishing with roses made from scraps of knit fabric. Going back to the food, Thimble shared a recipe for some yummy looking spinach olive pasta (usually I don’t like cooked spinach at all, but I might have to give this one a try.) And even though it’s obviously passed by this point, One Pretty Thing posted two tutorial roundups for April Fool’s Day. Mostly in the form of food that looks like something it’s not. But it was still fun.

And now for something completely random…
I couldn’t help laughing at this post from Craft Stylish. Any post entitled “Crafts I Want To Punch In The Face” has to get a mention. (And besides, I’m sure that everyone who reads this who’s ever sewn by machine will agree with #5!)

And finally…
Finished projects I liked! From Wardrobe Refashion, I thought this little girl’s violin dress was adorable, this octupus sweater was funky and clever, and this hippie-looking shirt is something I just want to steal. And I also really liked Angry Chicken’s corset belt (complete with matching purse and earrings!)