Saturday, November 16, 2013

Geek shirt series: Doctor Who

I prefer to think of myself more of a geek than a nerd. Give me some Tolkien or Star Trek and we are good to go.

Any who, I have been collecting these shirts for a while and thought it would be fun to share them. I will try to include links were I can if you are a geek at heart and want to get one too.

Today is Doctor Who.

This is my fake Christmas sweater. I got it on Zulily a few weeks ago. Zulily often circulates merchandise, so it will probably be around again. I got it for about $12.

Ah, geekdom at its finest. On episode "Blink" one of the characters mentioned having this t-shirt. So it is an inside joke among Whovians. All very Timey- wimey and such. You can get it on Etsy from Starshipmates. It is about $20.

I love this one. Belle meets the Doctor. So cool! Haha. It is available form Threadless. If you wait for sales, every few months they have a $10 shirt sale. Threadless has a lot of amazing shirts that I don't want to look at because I try to conserve my budgeted spending money.

I have a lot of other shirts, but I am going to share them in other themed posts. Part of this is because I cannot find all of them right now. Also, some of my pictures came out blurry. In addition, my newest Jane Austen shirt is en route from Zazzle. Fun fun! Feel free to share with me any awesome geek stuff that you like.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

DIY Couple Silhouette

I have been collecting vintage art for a long time. I thought it would be fun to mix new with old and create a family silhouette to go with some of my antique art. Since silhouettes were a popular form of art "back in the day," I thought it would go nicely with it be super awesome.

Then I put it off. For almost a year. Sure, I read tutorials and bought some black paper (which I never needed). What put me off for a while was getting an oval picture frame. Then I got a couple, and let them sit for another few months.

However, I finally decided to do it today. It was a lot easier than I imagined. I did it all using some glue, scissors and minimal skills on (a free program that you can download if you don't have  Paintshop). It took very little time.

First I took pictures of Matt and I in front of a bright window. After that, I cropped them in an oval shape and edited the brightness/contrast until they looked like this:

You can use a paintbrush to make everything in the silhouette black.

I didn't take pictures of the next steps, but they are very simple. I printed the pictures to the size of the frame, cut the faces out, touched up the black with a black marker and glued to white paper.

My OCD side is twitching as I notice that I hung Matt slightly crooked. You can assure yourself that this will be remedied.

Have fun!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Linen maxi Washi dress

I have been wanting a linen dress for a long time. My favorite skirt is linen. BUT LINEN IS SO EXPENSIVE. :( However, I found a great sale on one day and ordered five yards of lovely linen. I decided to make a maxi Washi dress.

I think it *almost* looks like a regency dress, so maybe I should sip some tea and play the piano while shopping for new TOMS because this picture shows that they are starting to get holes.

The inside construction is lovely, thanks to Rae's gorgeous pattern. I think I should have lined it with a soft cotton, but I didn't have any that matched the right color. I had to hand stitch the lining in place and it was one of the most soothing sewing jobs that I have ever done. I don't know why. I usually try to avoid hand sewing. Also, as you can see, the dress has pockets, which is super awesome.

The darts (in the bodice) look a little funky in the picture, but I was too lazy to readjust the mannequin and take more pictures after I realized it (hours later).

You can't see, but the back of the dress is shirred with elastic thread. No closures! Yay!

This pattern is so easy to sew- you should try it!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Selfish Sewing: Washi Dress

I have been wanting to make a Washi Dress for a while. I have been following the blog Made By Rae and have loved her designs. I finally bought the pattern and within two days had completed two dresses (even while battling the stomach virus). The pattern is so easy!

I have been saving this fabric that I brought back from Belguim last year. I thought it would make a fun dress, and it did. :)

I added a lace collar and vintage brass button. I also modified the gathers to be pin tucks.

This pattern runs from size XS to XXL. It is so simple to follow. There is elastic shirring in the back so it doesn't need a closure(Cheers and drinks for everyone!). After I finished it, I thought I might put it in my Etsy shop (remember, I was sick at the time, haha) but now I think I would be crazy if I did that.

I am including this as part of a fun event that I found called Selfish Sewing Week. Check it out! It is a great way to find new patterns/ideas/blogs.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Les petits macarons

I have been on a macaron baking spree. My brother got married last week and I made them for the wedding. Hundreds! They were up to their traditional macaron tricks- hundreds of them didn't rise properly in the oven due to one of a thousand potential trivial changes.

The end result was what mattered though. The duds were still delicious to eat! I ended up making a couple hundred more than first planned because of the ones that rose poorly. 

Pink: Rose water butter cream
Orange: Peach blossom butter cream
Blue: Chocolate ganache rolled in coconut
Purple: Blackberry jam made by the monks at St Tikhons
Lavender: Vanilla bean butter cream rolled in lavender flowers
Green: Peppermint chocolate ganache
Yellow: Lemon curd
White: Coffee bean topping with mocha ganache filling.


Monday, August 19, 2013

Parchment Salmon with Mushrooms and Spinach

2 Cups spinach
1/4-1/2 Cups fresh mushrooms
2 Salmon steaks
2 Tbs olive oil
2 Springs of fresh dill weed
Salt and pepper to taste

Layer parchment in a baking pan. Spread spinach and mushrooms on parchment (the juices of the salmon will cover them with deliciousness) then cover with salmon. Drizzle with oil, then a good shake of salt and pepper. Top with fresh dill, then fold parchment so that its scrumptiousness is sealed inside. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 400 for 15 minutes.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Make your own Waldorf doll (links)

A good friend of mine recently gave me a Waldorf doll kit. I've wanted to try making a Waldorf doll for a while, but never got around to getting all of the supplies (which are not that much) for it.

What supplies do you need?

Wool or other stuffing medium
Flesh colored knit 1/4 of a yard should do the trick with some left over.
Yarn for hair
Colored thread for eyes, mouth and detail work of body
Strong cotton string
Stretchy tube thing (like a thick nylon stocking)
Beeswax crayon or something similar for cheeks

I followed two tutorials online. This one shows in great detail how to make the head. This post covers most essentials of the body and reiterates most of the first tutorial about the head. They both have printable pattern pieces, though you may need to tweak them to get the right size.

I used a different method for adding the hair. Sandwich strips (lots and lots) of yarn over similar colored tissue paper (or tape). Sew a tight seam down the middle, then rip off the tissue paper. Now you will have a strip of parted yarn hair that you can hand sew on the doll's head. There are lots of other tutorials online if you search "how to add doll hair" or something like that.

These dolls are very expensive ($100+) to buy, but if you make one it is very inexpensive. I made the whole thing from start to finish in one day. Granted, I devoted a lot of time to it, but I still had plenty of time leftover to make breakfast, lunch, dinner, go to church and watch two episodes Deep Space Nine. Haha.

My daughter fell in love with it before it really had a form. It was just a ball of wool stuffed in a white tube with some strings, no face or anything. I made the body, attached the finished head and also made a quick dress while she was napping. She was so excited when she woke up!

I certainly made some doll making rookie mistakes, but I'm pretty satisfied for a first attempt. I hope you give it a try!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Crock pot goulash

This is an old stand-by of mine. My mother and grandmother used to make it often, though I think it was a little different. You can also make it on a stove-top just as easily.

2 cups ground beef
1 can diced tomatoes
2 cups egg noodles or 1.5 cups elbow macaroni
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups water or vegetable stock (tastes better)
Sea salt and pepper to taste

If you want it to taste extra delicious, fry the ground beef with the onions and garlic on the stove top(add a little oil to keep from sticking), then add to a pot with the stock and tomatoes.  You could also just put everything in the crock pot and let it sit for a few hours on low.
Add the pasta about ten minutes before you want to serve it. It probably goes without saying, but bring the soup to a boil before adding the pasta, then let simmer for about ten minutes- or until the pasta is cooked. Add salt and pepper.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Lavender vanilla macarons

I used vegetable coloring to make these a soft purple. I stuffed them with vanilla butter-cream, then rolled them in dried lavender flowers.

On an interesting note, that day I made four batches. One of them completely failed in the oven. I have no idea why! It is so weird to make the same recipe, using the same method, and have one batch out of four completely messed up.

Sometimes I wish I could run a part-time bakery. No, no- a coffee shop! Now that would be amazing. That has actually been a dream of mine for about ten years. Maybe one day!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Dress to skirt in a jiffy

Since it is finally summer, I decided to convert some old dresses into skirts. I thought I would share the process with you to show how easy it is. You can score these at garage sales or thrift shops.

1. Procure a dress that you wish to make into a skirt. Why would you want to do that? I generally find myself getting more uses out of skirts than dresses. I have been in the need of longer skirts to wear around the monastery, rather than shorter dresses. Also, it is a great way to turn an immodest dress into something that you would be comfortable wearing.

2. Cut off the bodice evenly.

3. Sew an elastic waistband together that is 2-3 inches smaller than your waist. Use an elastic or zig-zag stitch. If your dress has elastic ruching, you won't have to gather and baste. If not, then simply baste around the top and pull the thread to gather until it matches the size of the waistband.

5. Sew the waistband to the skirt using an elastic or zig-zag stitch.


Monday, June 17, 2013

Delicious home made bagels are not that hard to make!

The little bagels (left) were over-boiled.
I wish I was a good enough cook to offer you my own bagel recipe, but alas, I am not. Still, I love this recipe so much, I thought I would share the link.

The only extra advice that I would like to add is to be very careful about "boiling" the bagels. As you can see from the picture, if the bagels are in too hot/too long, they will shrivel. I usually use water that is a very gentle boil (closer to a simmer) and only for 1.5 minutes on each side.


Monday, May 27, 2013

Ginger Cake, a Downton Abbey-era recipe.

A recipe from the White House Cook Book:

I was given this first edition (from 1913) that my great-aunt's mother used.
Soft Ginger Cake

"Stir to a cream one cupful of butter and half a cupful of brown sugar; add to this two cupfuls of cooking molasses, a cupful of sweet milk, a tablespoonful of ginger, a teaspoonful of ground cinnamon; beat all thoroughly together, then add three eggs, the whites and yolks beaten separately; beat into this two cupfuls of sifted flour, then a teaspoonful of soda dissolved in a spoonful of water and last  two more cupfuls of sifted flour. Butter and paper two common square breadpans, divide this mixture and pour half into each. Bake in a moderate oven, This cake requires long and slow baking, from forty to sixty minutes. I find that if sour milk is used the cakes are much lighter, but either sweet or sour is most excellent."

White House Cook Book
The Saalfield Publishing Company: New York, 1913.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Thoughts on baking everyday foods

I have been baking a lot. To justify my delightful Kitchen Aid stand mixer purchase last Christmas, I have been baking more often. I made a rule for myself not to buy most things that I could bake. That rule is more or less followed in that if I don't bake bread I don't buy it, but then we don't have any to eat. Since that isn't pleasant, it keeps me motivated.

I have found that keeping huge canisters of staples next to my mixer makes baking so much easier since I don't have to dig anything out. My measuring cups are close by as well.

So what are some staples that are simple to make at home?

Bread crumbs (use leftover bread)

Another reason why it is better to make these at home is that most of the above foods are often laden with preservatives. Yuck! If you want to buy organic to avoid that, it is quite costly. Baking them at home saves me lots of money and is much healthier.

Of course, not everyone has time for this. Before moving into a home with a giant kitchen and dropping my part-time job, I didn't have time for it either; I bought everything. Just do what you can and don't beat it yourself up over it. I don't mean to give the impression that I bake everyday- I don't! There are plenty of times when there are no baked goods even in the house.

Giving up the notion that you must always have bread in the house helped me a lot. Sure, I like to have it around more often than not, but you can be very healthy without eating it all of the time.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Make your own easy peasant skirt

If you have a few minutes, you can make this breezy peasant skirt. It is very simple and can be done as a beginner's project. This should fit either a small or medium. If you are a size large, increase fabric measurements by about half a yard.

What you need:
3 yards of lightweight fabric
Several inches of wide elastic 
*Optional several inches of elastic lace

Cut two rectangles for the top and bottom parts of the skirt. The top part should be roughly 54x22 inches and the bottom should be 108x22 inches. (I cheated. I cut the three yards in half widthwise, then one of the pieces lengthwise, to be the top and bottom. Does that make sense?) It doesn't have to be exact. The lovely thing about peasant skirts is that since they are so billowy, there is a lot of room for error.

Take the top piece and sew a french seam in the side. Repeat with the bottom piece. 

1. Hem the bottom piece, if needed. (I used fabric with a finished salvage so it did not need to be hemmed- hooray!)
2. Baste three rows around the top of the bottom piece. Pull the threads to create a ruffle. Pull the seams until the bottom piece matches the size of the top piece (see picture of how it should look finished). 
3. Repeat three rows of basting for the top of the top piece (where the waistband will go).

Now the top and bottom pieces will be sewn together using a French seam. 

(Need help with that? First, pin the wrong sides together. Be careful with the ruffle and sew the seam as close to the edge as possible. Trim the excess, then fold and pin the right sides together. When you sew the seam, pull the ruffled part gently as you go (to prevent unsightly puckering). You can email me if you have questions about this.)

This is what it looks like when you are finishing the French seam. Try to keep your seam very straight because it will show when you are wearing it. 

It's time to sew the elastic waistband. Cut it one or two inches smaller than your waist. Overlap the ends by an inch (to create a circle) and sew together using an elastic stitch (or zig-zag). 

Pull the basted threads on the top part of the skirt to match the size of the waistband. Pin the skirt to the waistband and sew together using either an elastic stitch or zig-zag. Now you will want to remove the basted stitch or your skirt will not stretch! I just give it a good ol' pull and the old threads break. You can use a seam ripper if you are working with a delicate fabric, or like to be precise.
*If you are also attaching a lining, sew that to the waistband first, or pin together with the top of the skirt. I didn't bother with one since I wear a slip all of the time anyway. 

Obviously this is a different skirt. I included a picture to show how you can cover the ugly seam with pretty elastic lace. I did not do this because I didn't have the color I wanted when making the skirt.

Tada! Elegant! 

It is a lot of fun to wear!

Now go make one!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

DIY Easy wood Waldorf inspired toys

I love My kids really like wooden toys. I like the idea of using natural materials instead of plastic. I have been slowly building my kids wooden toy collection. One of the biggest problems is that they are so expensive!

Here is an easy DIY for these Waldorf inspired toys.

You can buy these unfinished wooden shapes at Hobby Lobby or other similar craft shops. They are pretty cheap. I am all crunchy and used natural beeswax crayons to color them, but technically you could use any child safe coloring (paint, crayons, markers, etc...).

The idea is that children learn about sorting, colors, and coordination by putting the right colors together.

For the five minutes it took to take pictures, I was constantly fending Daniel off from stealing them. The kids love them!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

DIY Un-paper towels

First of all, I want to thank everyone for your sweet comments and prayers. These last few days have certainly been hard, but things are getting better.

I finally got my sewing machine out and finished a project that I have been wanting to do for months. It is very easy, and will save you money!

What you need:

  • About 2.5 yards of cotton birdseye fabric: has been sold out for months and Joanne Fabrics does not carry it. I bought mine on Ebay, but there are also sellers on Etsy for about the same price. I paid $30 for 5 yards + shipping, which is a standard price. You could use another fabric, but from what I researched, birdseye is a great choice. I like it ever so much better than flannel or terry cloth.
  • Diaper snaps: Easy to find at craft stores. Use a coupon!
  • Snap pliers: This thing looks like you need a college degree to use, but it is actually very simple

Since birdseye cotton will shrink, wash it first to avoid great lamentations and sorrow. I took my favorite size paper towel (I like the thin ones) to use as a cutting guide. I did not iron the fabric. I am sure it would have looked better if I did, but I will never, ever, ever iron these in daily use, so I didn't want to then either.

Cut in strips, using the already cut strips as an easy guide.

As you can see, I was not a perfectionist about getting them very straight.

Use the paper towels again as a guide to making them the right length.

 I cut out thirty full sized sheets and had some smaller pieces left over that I am using for other projects. I might be developing a nervous twitch at seeing how crooked these are. Move along, there is nothing else to see here.

If you do not have a serger, use a zig-zag stitch. Depending on how bothered you may be by this fraying in the future, do either one or two seams. Yeah, this does take a long time. You can always do one seam, then put a sheet in the wash to determine how much it will fray (various zig-zag settings on your machine will have different results). Please note that you may wish to sew two cloths together so it has a double thickness. Mine (1 ply) are kind of flimsy. I straightened them for the picture, but don't plan to straighten them everyday. A double thickness will also make the snaps more sturdy.

Not it is time to use that scary looking device. It is intimidating, because there are so many parts included that you do not have to use. I was greatly relieved when I discovered how simple it is.

A pointy tool is included (I forgot its name). Use it to poke a hole in the fabric so that the snap can be inserted.

Insert the snap in the hole.

See the point of the snap coming through the fabric? Good. Now you also know that you have good vision and you can send me a Paypal transaction to pay for your vision screening.

Put the cover over the point.

Press the two parts together with the pliers. Squeeze very hard. I had problems with my snaps before realizing I wasn't squeezing hard enough. This part is hard, but only because I cramped my hand from adding fifty million snaps.

Tada! Repeat fifty million more times. Feel free to use coordinating thread and snaps. I might develop a  nervous twitch from the color clashing as well.

The plant reminds everyone that this is eco-friendly. You are basically giving the Earth a high-five if you make these.
As a disclaimer, they do tend to droop. I straightened them extra for the picture. Since I am giving the planet a high-five every time I use a sheet instead of using a paper towel, I do not mind this. It could be corrected by adding a third snap or sewing two pieces of fabric for each sheet instead of one.

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