Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Pin Win Birthday!

This could have so easily ended up as a Fail but it didn't!!

Hubby's birthday is the day after mine, so Monday this year, and he was all bummed that his birthday was going to be lame.

I have extra personal and vacation days, so I concocted a plan.

I secretly took the day off to bake a cake and cook him a nice meal. I picked some recipes from pinterest and even found a "from scratch" recipe for Funfetti (his favorite). (An all pinterest recipe meal could've easily been a fail, but I had read over the recipes ahead of time and felt certain that they would turn out at least okay.)

The pinterest board of recipes I used: Smashed Red Potatoes, Crusted Parmesan Zucchini, Confetti Cake and Balsamic Roast Beef.

I got up when I normally do to head to work after he does, started the crock pot and baked the cake. The first cake was burnt (my gas stove's fault, not the recipe's), so I cut the edges off and dumped in a bowl to maybe make cake pops later. The second turned out okay.

As I was washing the mixer to start the buttercream frosting, the water made a nasty gurgly noise and just up and quit! I run outside and lo, and behold, the water authority people are racing down our street to the bridge construction site. Seems the crew hit a pipe. I was without water until after dinner.

Fortunately, my friend was headed over right then so we picked up some spring water jugs and then she iced the cake for me while I worked on the dishes using a 2.5 gallon jug, and started the potatoes. (Meat and potatoes, my man.)

She left before hubby got home to a nicely set table and delicious aromas. I even timed it so that he could just zone out on the couch for a little while dinner was finishing up. I had a very happy hubby.

The recipes all worked out quite well! The roast was perfectly flavorful and tender. The zucchini and potatoes were cooked through perfectly. The cake was a little too dense for my taste, but still pleased all.

Sorry for the blurry cell pic. We were both quite hungry and in too much of a hurry to take a non-shaky photo.

Oh, and the cake:

He was ecstatic. This is a reference to one of his favorite shows, a British comedy called the IT Crowd about two IT geeks who work under a clueless manager.

Here's the clip:

Thursday, January 31, 2013

PinTesting- Crock Pot Teriyaki Chicken

I've come up with all sorts of excuses for not blogging. Firstly, I don't feel the need to blog about every little knitting pattern I do. That's mostly just show and tell because somebody else did the work of figuring it out. Secondly, a lot of what I was working on were Christmas gifts and couldn't be shared until the recipients received them.

In the meanwhile, I have been busy! And one of the things that has grabbed my attention is Pinterest. Yes, that's right. I don't know what took me so long. Long before Pinterest, I kept a Google notebook (when it still existed) of DIY blogs and articles to try someday. This does just that but in a beautiful, visual way that really works for me. And while it is totally unoriginal with such awesome blogs out there as Pinstrosity, I thought a good way to keep up with blogging would be to recount my attempts at actually doing some of those Pins.

So, first up, we have Slow Cooker Teriyaki Chicken from Easy-Cookbook-Recipes. I'm always a little dubious of crock pot recipes. Experience tells me that just because you slow-cook something, doesn't mean it will come out tender. Often, I ended up with dried, tough meat with not a lot of flavor. Besides which, the photo doesn't really look like whole chicken breasts were just placed in a crock pot. It looks like the chicken was cut and pan fried in the sauce instead. But, this recipe included a good amount of Apple Cider Vinegar, which I figured would really help with making the meat nice and juicy.

And boy, was I right!

Now, when I got home from work, the tenderness of the chicken did appear questionable as the outer skin looked hard and dry. So, I did what any sensible cook would do and poked a chicken breast with a knife. After the initial cut (a little tough), it melted right through.

And here is where I differed from the original recipe. Rather than waste a pan on boiling the sauce, I broke apart the chicken right in the crock pot, mixed it up a little and set the crock pot on high for about thirty minutes. I did add some cornstarch and water, but didn't really find a noticeable difference in the consistency, nor did I care to. We like our sauce runny so we can mix it well with our starch.

I served it atop Uncle Ben's "Asian Style" rice with some extra frozen peas thrown in. I consider this the best tasting and simplest attempt at Asian food I've come across yet. It may not be true Teriyaki, but it's a lot better than Iron Chef's bottled sauce and I'm really pleased.

The husband said, and I quote, "I would definitely eat this again!" That, my friends, is a winner.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Frankinsteined Paisley Purse

Since I've learned to sew, I have been known to be difficult. My mom and former 4-H leader can attest to this. As a novice sewer, I did not want to do the novice project, a tote bag. I felt that I had already mastered those basic skills and I wanted to make a dress. So, for my first year in 4-H, I sewed a dress.

{Picture to come?}

This determinism and stubbornness later came to manifest itself in a desire to alter patterns. I wanted that dress body with that dress sleeve and so on and so on.

At one point I convinced my 4-H leader that I could make a lined dress sleeveless (the seams of the lining would been inside the sleeve) and we were able to figure it out.

As it turns out, this strange determination and desire to do things differently worked out for me. When I sewed my Adelaide dress, I had to do some major reconstruction to the bodice in order to accommodate my body type. And in truth, I really enjoy the challenge.

Now, this purse didn't need any changes, however, I really liked the tab style band of bag B, but didn't want another large tote, so I used the band and straps of bag B with the body of bag D.

(My pattern says it is 0578, but it has snowflakes on it, so I think it was at one point a holiday special or some such business. 2685 is the number you would look for on the Simplicity website or at your local big box store.)

In fact, the reason I had set out to sew my own purse in the first place was because my three options have been:

-A hand knit and felted wool bag that has simply been too hot for the warmer months.

-A large brief-case type bag that I got for trips so I could easily carry my netbook with me. Since it has warmed up, I've been lugging this around everyday.

-And a small clutch that won't even allow me to carry the gorgeous deer-skin wallet my grandparents gave me from a deer my grandfather had shot.

I needed something light and medium-sized for the summer. So, I set to work.

I chose to do a similar fabric pattern in contrasting colors.

All in all, I think it worked out well. You can't see it well here, but the tab isn't quite right. The top of the "arrow" is cut off, but that has nothing to do with grafting the two bag pieces together. I read and re-read the instructions and I can't see how they do it as indicated in the pattern without cutting off the top of the arrow like that. There really wasn't enough of a seam allowance to make up for what is lost in turning the band and band lining. There was one other point in the pattern where I read it over and over again and couldn't understand how they were accomplishing what they were indicating. So, I just trucked on and made do.

The only other change I made was to do away with the inner pocket zipper. Instead, I made the inner pocket the contrasting color and sewed it so that a little bit of it would be peaking out as a trim around the pocket.

(Please excuse the threads peaking out. I did trim those after taking these photos.)

And it is the perfect size for all my everyday needs.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Failures and Triumphs

Wow, it has really been a long time since I've updated.

First off, I have failed my own challenge. I did make one top and one dress. The button on the top fell off after one wear (and I'm not much a fan of it, anyway) and the dress is lovely. But I have yet to procure photographic proof. I'll get on that.

Also, I wound up buying more fabric. With a garment in mind....but I've hardly made a dent in my current stash. I did manage to weed out the "grandma fabrics" as Ben so lovingly calls them and plan on donating them to my local 4-H for their fabric sale. (Ironically, I'm fairly certain that I bought most of those fabrics at the 4-H sale.)

And the last bit of my failure is that I bought a few sleeveless blouses in the summer. The A/C in my car was dead and we were in the middle of a heat wave. The best option, it seemed was sleeveless blouses with a light short-sleeved cardigan for the office. That way I wouldn't completely melt on my way home. I simply didn't have the time, but I did however, have a 30% off coupon for Kohl's. And I did end up mending what I bought to fit me right.

Now, that isn't to say that I haven't been crafting away.

I am especially proud of this tea tray that I customized for my dear BFF and her new husband. They are both music geeks, even more so than I. (In fact, the groom was a member of the YellowJackets, who are doing a smashing job on the Sing Off right now. You should really check them out.) And they love tea. So I wanted to make them a literal tea tray that featured their love of music.



The tray is from Target and beautiful as is. I printed out some favorite musical pieces, soaked them in tea, and baked them a little. Then I tore them, laid them out and Mod Podged the heck out of them.


They were ecstatic. I failed to photograph the finished product myself, so I borrowed the bride's own picture.

Now, I shall get back to my Christmas present knitting (I am as pleased as a peacock, but I can't show off!) and pattern design testing. I also have some painting projects underway that I should be able to share soon.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Adding a little color

First off, welcome to any lovely Trac Changes followers who found me through Rachel's blog!

Now on to my color problem.

Don't get me wrong, I love a good white blouse. Crisp whites are so lovely, especially in the summer. At some point, it was at a picnic I believe, I spilled some barbecue sauce on this beautiful white sleeveless tunic:

Mediterranean blouse

It is hard to see in this picture, but there is a little yellowish spot on the right side under the "sun." (In my kitchen, everything has a yellow tinge to it, but it is the best lighting in the house for pictures.)

kitchen rug

I've also had this nice little kitchen mat for about 4 years. No matter how much I cleaned it and sprayed it with stain remover, the dirt from feet would not go away.

Thank Heaven for RIT Dye. (And inexplicable clearances! I bought this Navy Blue for $0.45 one day at the supermarket.)

The instructions were simple and the results were fabulous.

Mediterranean blouse2

(I promise, a pic is coming soon with me actually wearing it.)

kitchen rug2

And well, it stills has some dark spots, but they don't look like dirt so much as a change in saturation of color. I'm pleased with it. It goes with our blue glasses, too!

I think I've becoming addicted to dyeing... You can check out my forays into dyeing yarn with tea and kool-aide here on Flickr, or here if you are on Ravelry!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Rosie Riveter Dress

Rosie Riveter

I don't know why, but this dress reminds me of Rosie the Riveter. Maybe it's the plaid. I bought it for under $5 at the Salvo (see below). All it really needed was a higher hem line and a better belt. I found the belt on clearance at Wilson's Leather for $6 and I can use it on other outfits.

Technically, I believe this fits into my "Make it Work" challenge because I bought the dress and belt back in December and just never got around to it until now.

Rosie Riveter 1

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Make It Work Challenge

I've been doing some thinking. Lately, I feel like I'm too busy to make my own clothing many times, so I scrounge for clearance items and sales instead. Often, I think I find something, but after only a few wears of the item I realize that the sleeves are too tight or the buttons pop, or it is shabby quality, etc., etc.

I don't have an easy body to shop for. Which is what I love the most about sewing. Which is why I have a drawer overflowing with fabric and 2 dozen patterns. That I haven't been using!

I've also been stuck in a materialistic rut of sorts. I think the solution might be to lock down my clothing budget to a minimum and to force myself to create with what I have on hand.

So, I'm starting a Make It Work Challenge for myself and anyone who wishes to join me. I've seen others out there do something along these lines, and I love it.

[Incidentally, I'm fairly certain I used this book in 4-H when I was learning to sew.]

Here are my rules:

1. Avoid buying new clothes. Force myself to get creative and savvy. Besides anything I make will fit so much better. This will also force me to improve upon my seamstress skills. Maybe I'll finally take that leap and sew my own swimming suit (one of the most difficult garments for me to find).

2. Avoid buying new fabric or patterns. Use up that stash! Save your JoAnn's coupons for quality notions and all the thread you'll be needing.

3. If I MUST buy a garment, get rid of something! This will help me get rid of the old, worn out clothing and help keep garment clutter to a minimum. I can either donate, or use the fabric to make something else.

Not only will this improve my wardrobe and barely effect my wallet, but it will keep me blogging. And if you don't see posts from me, bug me! Let's work together to keep each other crafting.

And hopefully, this whole project will make me more thankful for what I already have.

I'm in for a year, how about you?