Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Butternut Squash and Sage Pasta

Historically, I haven't been the biggest squash fan. I was talking to the other intern the other week who is vegetarian and she was appalled. I decided to give it another try. And now I love it.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Pecan Pie Muffins and Apple Pie Bars

These will probably some of the last normal recipes I'll be posting/reviewing for the next few months. I have to go essentially vegan until at least mid-February for my cholesterol (yes, at 23, I won the genetic lottery) so that means a lot creative food planning.

Anyway, these two recipes are not so healthy, but they are delicious. We brought snacks in for church and I wanted two different types of treats (plus fruit). They even got rave reviews from the self-proclaimed foodie in the class.

This is what was left after class.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

So things got a little busy....

So here's what happened-
I have yet to finish Olive's Sherlock costume, the fabric for Carment Sandiego is still on the roll, and Olive rewore her BUGWB uni for trick or treating (no dedicated contests this year)
I registered for my last semester of grad school, I have 2 days left in my last internship, and I'm finalizing the edits on my writing requirement (my program's version of a thesis)
I had some less than stellar news from my physical that further constricts my diet, but knowing family history it really shouldn't have been a surprise
Olive competed in two Herding Instinct Tests and Q'd on Saturday. While I think she did better on Sunday, it wasn't enough for a second Q and we may just leave that title unfinished; the trials are kind of far away (out past my barn) and she's not going to competitive at herding. Upside is the first judge called her "The Pretty One!"

This is her "I want that cookie your promised" face

I now have a sewing list of fabric and patterns I already have on hand:
1. Mom's flannel nightgown
2. DH's plaid negroni (sort of regreting my choice of fabrics but we'll see how it goes)
3. Altering a knit skirt and breeches
4. Olive and my Sherlock Holmes pieces
5. Spring 1930s blouse for me (using a Miss Depew pattern)
6. Olive's Carmen Sandiego costume

I also have a couple of recipe reviews to post, too

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Baby Dungarees

I haven't been doing anything with Project: Professional lately. I'm about 200 hours into my last(!) internship and I go in jeans, sneakers, and if I'm feeling dressy (and not dealing with cobwebs, mold, or archeological materials) I'll wear a casual cardigan instead of a simple v-neck. So no need to for professional clothes there. But I have been sewing for Cousin K.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Baby Quilt for K: Part Two

Now that Baby H is born, I asked K if she wanted a monogram or named embroidered on the back of the quilt. She asked for the first and middle name, which I thought was great. I think she and her DH chose a great name- unique and a nod to her heritage without going "too cultural" (...I was rooting for her to use Sigrid... DH hates the name, if we get another female dog in the future she's likely going to be Anya or Sigrid. Olive was almost Anya, I just couldn't explain to Grandma that we named our dog after a character on Buffy the Vampire Slayer*)

Anyway, it's been years since I've done any embroidery. We learned a little embroidery and cross stitch in Pioneer Girls but that was 15 years ago. So some quick google searches had me running over to the craft store (that's a little too indie for my tastes, not plain fabric in sight, all hand-dyed batiks) to pick up embroidery floss and DH to Micheal's for a smaller hoop.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Tomato, Broccoli and Shrimp Pesto Pasta

This is a pretty easy, quick meal. Very few dishes, lots of flavor and not that unhealthy. What's pictured made 5-6 servings.  Note, this is very garlic-y. I like garlic though so it works for us.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Baby Quilt for K

I come from a family quilters so when my cousin, KU, announced she and her husband were expecting a daughter this fall, my mom and I started planning a quilt. My quilting experience is pretty much the T-shirt quilt for DH and mom hasn't pieced a quilt in a while. So it was a learning experience. We ended cutting 1.5 times the pieces because she used a different seam allowance for her first half and I made those blocks into a mini quilt so we had something for the baby shower (no pictures that I'm aware of).

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Olive's Second Halloween: Planning

Originally, I planned to make Olive a little Iverness cape and Deerstalker cap out of herringbone stash fabric for Halloween- obviously she was going to be Sherlock Holmes. I even planned to have a red buttonhole. But then a bug hit and I started shopping for red suiting and yellow fabric. Why? Olive is going to be classic Carmen Sandiego. I loved 'Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?' and had the Where in Time computer game which I completely wore out.

Everyone loved this idea and so I have started another costume.
So here are the parts for her costume:

The Trench - I already drafted an un-tested Iverness so I need to omit the cape and draft sleeves (uuuugh, hate sleeves) and figure out the lapel situation. I know shades vary but I think a bright red would be good to be more eye-catching, but I don't want it to get too McDonalds-y.

 I'm thinking a Red Gab, it'll be lightweight enough to not bother Olive but enough structure for the trench.

The Shirt- I'll throw together a yellow dickie so Olive's not wearing too many layers. Maybe make a cowl neck or something

I'll go cheap and use lemon broadcloth. I could make a slinkie/sleazy-type-thing out a knit but I'm not sure I want to do that or not.

The Hat- I'm not how dramatic to make it. Olive's great about hats, as along as she can see, she's good. If I had my way it'd be HUUUGE- let red hat society huge.
I'm not sure which is the best method for Olive's hat- make my own felt hat (with an itty bitty crown) or piece a fabric one together. I'm thinking piecing might be better for my own sanity but felting would look cooler. DH wants a big hat too - but his contribution to sewing is ironing so there's that. I'm not sure if I should use ribbon or fabric band.

I made a quick sketch of what I was thinking but it just looked like puppy as a farmer, I hope that's not an indication of how this is going to go.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Make-Ahead Pasta alla Formiana

I'm on the hunt for reasonably healthy recipes to help DH's diet and keep my GI happy (thankfully are very complimentary concepts, those plus keeping DH's appetite happy are slightly different.) One recipe I came across was Picky Eater's Pasta alla Formiana, which she advertised as a healthier baked ziti. I like baked ziti, I like cheese but it violates #2 on my most wanted list so a healthier and potentially cheese free option was fantastic. Unfortunately, it was also vegetarian. DH likes meat, I'm indifferent. We had a 1/2lb of extra lean beef left over since TJ only stocks 1lb packages so I snuck it in.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Stuffed Tomatoes

Barely Adapted From The Shiksa in the Kitchen

We obviously are not under any dietary rules other than what I get sick eating so I felt okay combining sausage and goat cheese.
Anyway, it's pretty healthy- even with the addition of sausage, they're about 250 calories a piece. We usually have at least one left over for lunch the next day.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Extended Pavlova

I really, really liked DDAtelier's wrap top- but there were things I would tweak - I wanted it in patterns, and I wanted it with shorter sleeves, etc. And then I ordered this fabric when ordering fabric for DH's Negroni (still pending.)

That's the sleeve-binding laid over the neck-binding so you can see the variations in pattern

Monday, July 15, 2013

Furlough Monday Peach Dumplings (plus an apple dumpling)

My summer internship is now furloughed on Mondays, and while that normally wouldn't affect me, I needed to make up some hours so Mondays felt especially empty. So after finishing up at my volunteer position, I went home and made peach dumplings. I pretty much based them off of this recipe . She called them Individual Whole Peach Pies but I always called the apple version Apple Dumplings so I applied the same nomenclature to peaches. Regardless of what you call them, they're delicious. I just had a couple of tweaks to her recipe (but they are fine as written as well.)

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Fish and Vegetables in Parchment

DH and I had a meal to fill on our weekly grocery list. Somehow a parchment meal was suggested and here we are. I used Dinner: A Love Story's directions for steamed fish in parchment paper. You don't really need a recipe for it but here one is if you're afraid to get creative.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Switching to Bloglovin

So it's almost July and I've done pretty much no sewing. Whoops. I'm almost done with my summer class so it's just 40 hours of volunteering a week plus riding after that (plus dog walks, church, family nonsense and so on), much more manageable.

Anyway, I'm switching to bloglovin and I'm trying to claim my blog- let's see how it goes

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Sunday, June 9, 2013

(theoretically) Quick Storage Bag

The horse I was riding up until last week* threw me and then I caught the nasty bug that's been going around (it's since turned into a sinus infection and I can't hear 100% out of one ear) so all last weekend I moped around. The problem is I get a bit manic when sick and decided I needed to replace the plastic bag that's been housing random stuff.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Half Way There

I'm almost half way through my summer class and already have a backlog of projects to finish (vintage Vogue reprint hack, Negroni for DH, knit peplum, trousers to hem, taking in a skirt) but believe it or not, I *have* been sewing. Just nothing I can show here (should have taken pictures for my log though). We are testing out the best/cheapest method to store silver so I spent a couple hours sewing pacific silver cloth bags and box liners. I was not particularly proud of the sloppy lines (that cloth eats needles and I get sloppy early in the morning as evidenced by the random patches some of the larger pieces have when I forgot to account for all dimensions when cutting) but I got compliments from some of the non-sewers in the office so that was nice.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Fiesta Kind-of Chowder

The colors remind me of traditional Mexican colors so the name. They called it a chowder but with so little fat, it doesn't quite qualify as chowder in my book. To quote DH "It's WeightWatchers so it's not going to be the tastiest thing ever", but with the added spices and fat I think it's better than he gives it credit for (he ate three bowls). I think all the vegetables throw him off.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Chevron Skirt

Food and sewing posts are going to be lacking for the next two months or so. My internship is an hour-twenty at least each way (three days a week), my class is forty minutes away (twice a week), volunteering is twenty (once a week), and lessons are an hour-ten in the opposite direction (once a week). So it's going to be quick dinners, and very limited sewing.

A couple of months ago (had to have been early summer) I found a cute skirt tutorial for a chevron pleated skirt and decided that would be a good way to replace some of the printed skirts DH doesn't like.

The front two have been shelved for a couple months now. The parasol one reminds me of Kaylee and the dot one is just fun.

I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Nautical Knit Top (Fringe Festival Scarf T)

I've been getting frustrated that there are so many cute dresses out there that could fit me, or I like the pattern for, but dresses are just so impractical. I have a decent walk each way to and from the metro this summer and while there is a shuttle from the HOA office to the metro, there is definitely not one to my internship (hoping I can get clearance to drive my car, I don't care if it's in DC traffic, it cuts my commute down by almost an hour). So this is sort of sewing therapy, a patterned top that could be practical.
I know I said no nautical but I saw the announcement of the fabric and had to get it. DH says it could be work appropriate with khakis or something but I'm not convinced- thoughts?

 I talk with my hands, this is what happens when I ask DH to take the pictures

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Banana Bread and Cookie Snakes

We had to bring snacks in for church this week and I was feeling particularly lazy (I had to make cookie snakes for a term project, presentation, I'll talk about that later) so we picked up a coffee cake and I made a loaf of banana bread. The banana bread is pretty straight forward, the cookies are less so.

Banana Bread

There are a couple of variations that I included in the recipe but not in the this loaf (the as-is loaf was a hit with my church so I'm not sure the additions are needed)

3-4 RIPE Bananas, mashed (this means going brown, not this side of green)
1/2 C Butter, unsalted, melted
1 C sugar, granulated (though brown would probably do well, too)
1 t Vanilla (or a combination of Vanilla, Rum extract, etc. This loaf has a 2:1 ratio of Vanilla to Rum)
1 Egg, beaten (in a separate bowl/mug)
1 Pinch Salt (regular iodized,  not Kosher/Sea/Flaked/Himalayan)
1 t Baking Soda
1.5 C Flour, All purpose
1/2 C Chocolate Chips, semi sweet (optional)
1/4 C Pecans, Chopped. (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 and grease a ~4"x8"' loaf pan (I use the wrapper of the butter since you don't need a lot of butter to grease)

With a wooden spoon, mix the mashed bananas with the butter in a medium to large bowl. Add the Egg, Sugar, and Extracts. Stir. Add Salt and Baking Soda. Stir. Add Chips and/or nuts. Stir. Add Flour. Stir.

Bake for ~45-60 mn (usually closer to 45). Loaf is done when golden on top and a skewer/knife inserted and pulled out comes out without goop and a few crumbs (clean means it's over cooked).

Let cool in the pan, uncovered. Can be kept for several days, covered, in the fridge. I would recommend pre-cutting/removing from the pan before serving since it can be rather soft.

Cookie Snake
Adapted from Peppermint Plum's Sugar Cookie

We were presenting on a museum that had an exhibit called "Why did it have to be snakes" (or something like that, it wasn't important to the project) and instead of a more complicated (to carry) treat, we decided to do cookie snakes. Here's how I did my batch:

1 C Butter, unsalted
2 C Sugar
2 Eggs
3 t Vanilla
1 C Sour Cream
1 t Salt
2 t Baking Soda
5.5 C Flour, All purpose
0.5 tube green gel food coloring
3 drops each, red and blue food coloring

In a separate bowl combine the dry ingredients.
Cream Butter and Sugar. Mix in Eggs and Vanilla. Mix in Sour Cream. Incrementally mix in the dry ingredients (use 1/2 C increments or else your kitchen will turn white). Add the food coloring (or omit if you want regular sugar cookies). Mix thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate for >30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375. Pull cookie sheets, line with greased parchment paper or silpats.

On a clean surface, powder lightly with powdered sugar. Pull a baseball sized lump of dough from the fridge. Roll into 1/3" wide lengths. slice them ~6-7" long and on the tray, create your snake. Good rule of thumb we found is: 2 Squiggles is a worm, 3-4 is a snake, even squiggles are intestines. Taper one end into a point and create a lumpy "head" at the other end.

This batch was more than 6-7", they expand too much for what I wanted

 Bake for around 5 minutes, though they may take longer. Watch for the top texture to change but pull before the edges brown. A little tan is okay.

See? Expand too much.

Let the cookie cool for 1-2mn on the tray then pull silpat to cool more. Then transfer to paper plates or whatever to cool completely. At this point your can freeze or ice the cookies. To freeze, place in a tupperware type container and put parchment or waxed paper between layers.

Barely Adapted from Alton Brown's Royal Icing

One of my teammates just picked off the icing and ate that so I guess this wouldn't be in line with the royal icing I grew up using for gingerbread houses

Yellow Gel Coloring
3 Egg Whites (if you can find pasteurized egg whites, use that- roughly 6 T, I think)
~4 C Powdered Sugar
1 t Vanilla/Almond Extract (whatever flavor you feel like really)

If you are using unpasturized egg whites then I've been told you just need to heat them in a saucepan until warm (careful not too cook though) or you can risk salmonella, whichever. Moving on.

In an electric mixer, combine the egg whites and vanilla on medium speed until frothy. Add the powdered sugar in small ammounts until all combined. Mix on medium-high until stiff peaks form (8 minutes or so). Immediately transfer to sealable containers until ready to use. Make sure to have cookies are room temp before icing.

If you are adding coloring (I use 3/4 tube of yellow) add that into the frosting and mix thoroughly. Transfer to a piping tube. I may recommend 1-1 1/2T of liquid to thin it all out since it was a little too firm for my liking.

These were the rejects because of the wonky stripes/eyes but you get the idea.
I used one of those writing gel tubes for the eyes, they got everywhere, oh well, the "directors" thought they were adorable. 

Friday, April 19, 2013

Custom Bookcase... I mean Shoe Rack

I've been meaning to post this since the peplum post but with Boston and then what happened in West, other things took priority.

I could not get words right this past week- this shoe rack was called everything BUT a shoe rack.
Anyway, DH seems to be on a mission to replace as much possible of our furniture with DIY pieces. And for this piece at least, this made sense.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Summer Print Peplum Top (Salme's Peplum Top)

I'm trying something a little different with my formatting, hopefully it will be easier to read.
Also, it's been too cold to wear this top, thus the delay in pictures. Techinically, it's still too cold, I threw a cardigan over this for church today.  Anyway, it applies to Project: Professional.

I promise I looked more put together at church- the wind was gusting all morning and I gave up.
 (Also, that boot top is part of our latest home improvement project I still need to get pictures of)

Thursday, April 4, 2013

How I do Menu Planning

It seems like every blog has a food planning entry so I thought I might as well do one as well (and it's still too cold to go outside in my peplum top, which has been finished for weeks; at this rate it will debut at DCLX at the end of the month). We go by weeks generally, we have a large enough pantry and fridge that we can keep everything, this wouldn't work with a dorm (unless you're like DH and manage to sneak a full size refrigerator up the elevator, past several CLs, and store in the suite all year).*

Step 1- Figure out what days you are making something and if there are any stipulations (fast, late, etc)

Step 2- See if there are any meals you forgot to make last week (it happens, don't worry) or food that's nearing the end of it's shelf life (do the float test for any eggs, please, don't guess)

Step 3- Go through your favorites/pinterest board(s)/recipe books/recipe box and pick out recipes you like and fit your time. Keep in mind how many servings each recipe makes for your household (generally with DH it's 2 for every 3 it says in the recipe depending on the source, my Scandinavian cooking books tend to be closer to 3.25 for ever 3, go figure)

Step 4- Spell out all the ingredients of each recipe. Then eliminate those you already have on hand.

I didn't do it here, but list what kind and how much of each ingredient

Step 5- Look at what you need beyond what is needed for the preplanned meals

Step 6- Combine all meals into a department by department list (try and list them by how show up in the store, I can do it for HEB and Harris Teeter but still can't get Trader Joe's). Remember to mark how many you need, and if you need it for more than one recipe

Step 7- print, email, whatever. Make sure you have it at the store.

*I'm not kidding, and this is before I knew him or he would have gotten my "disaproooval" face.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Quick Update

Apparel sewing has kind of taken a back seat because....

My cousin is expecting!
It's the first great- grandbaby for the family (and second generation to be born exclusively in the US). My mom and I are teaming up to make a modern-outdoors version of Amy Smart's Doublecross Quilt. I've never made a quilt this size and mom hasn't quilted in a couple years and we're hand quilting! The goal is to have this finished by the baby shower in June so I may disapear for awhile.

The peplum top is complete, just need pictures (was going to wear it dancing tonight but may just wear it to church tomorrow if it's not too cold.)

Katniss shirt still needs buttons and button holes. May take in the shoulders a bit too.

I have a pair of grey slacks from DH to refashion into a skirt.

My suit pants still need a hem.

For no good reason- Olive making a face

This is after I finish the three papers, two projects, and two presentations by the end of April.

Oh, and we still haven't figured out Ms. Fluffy Pants' show name, so those papers still need to be submitted. Then we need to start preparing for the instinct test in the fall (her 'stop' could use better brakes)

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Crème Brûlée French Toast

Smitten Kitchen (Again)

Basically, it's a rich version of French Toast. If you soak it as long as she says, the center is nice and custard-y. Good with strawberries and whipped cream (minimal amount of sugar, you don't need it with this one). If you can get the brulee part right, it looks fancy (if you don't burn the sugar...)

First time I made it I used pretty exactly her recipe and have barely tweaked it since (not that we have french toast that often, Saturday is a rare sleep-in day so it's closer to lunch than breakfast when we wake up for the last time and neither feel like doing more dishes).

 Old plates and mismatched silverware, has to be at least two years old. 
Probably should replace this at some point....

Things I changed:
-          We usually omit any orange flavoring (does add something but not totally necessary)
-          We always omit alcohol (see my comments on RoastChicken)
-          We use whatever bread looks good at the store, even the weird thin-sliced sourdough that DH likes
-          The sugar topping is good but a bit fiddly and when you are as accident prone as I am, not worth it for the injuries ensued
-          I rarely soak them more than 30 minutes. I love the custard center (I had a great version at the U.S. Grant Hotel on our honeymoon that was very similar using squares of brioche) but DH hates them

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Introducing Project: Professional

The other day we (DH and I) started to analyze our closet contents. I should have done this awhile ago, it could have dictated my sewing/purchasing priorities a bit more. Maybe my sewing more than purchasing (see: Olive joins BUGWB) but still useful. And this got me thinking more about what I need to consider when planning my wardrobe for my early professional years, especially tops.
  • There's a bit of a dichotomy in my preferred position - we need to go from rooting (carefully) around storage areas, that range in condition from immaculate to grubby, back to the office setting for committee meetings and sometimes speaking with the public.
  • I need a balance between a suit (too much) and jeans and a tee (makes me look like I belong in a freshman seminar class).
  • I really need to consider the cleavage-y factor, especially since not only am I short but my shoulder to full bust measurement is shorter than most RTW tops and most patterns account for. As easy as it is to ask DH to check in the morning, I'm getting up at 5-6 in the mornings for my next internship and he is not a morning person. So, I need to think about this ahead of time.
  • I own way too many cardigans (lazy way out) and college tee shirts (unprofessional), and too few go-between tops that I can dress up or down.
  • I have very few professional prints and that's a nice place to add interest (the lack of "interest" is DH's pet peeve with my outfits). I'm not a big floral or animal print person so it's a matter of finding non-kitschy, more geometric patterns.
  • I really don't care for "trendy" or "in" styles so much as flattering, comfortable, and professional. If it's seen as fashionable, yay, but not necessary.
  • As much as I like the idea of sewing more of my own things, I need to be cognizant of the actual  costs. So I should probably go RTW if a decent quality version* can be bought for significantly less than it would cost me in time, fabric, and extra materials (different interfacing, presser feet, etc).
I've found a couple of options for patterns for the next few months**

Sewaholic's Renfrew. People seem to have great results with the pattern and it allows for some go-between knit tops. Already have the walking foot and biased interfacing tape. Good place to use professional prints. 

Burda's Flared Godet Skirt. I don't really need many skirts but I need something between my suit skirt and the fun prints that DH hates that are good for dancing. I'm thinking a blue twill or grey tweed. I already have a couple yards of grey bottom weight suiting I could piece together for it.

Colette's Ceylon. I have some major fit issues with it when I made a muslin last year and shelved it for awhile. Has potential as a top but it might be too unique to be a TNT pattern. I do want one in Baylor green.

Sewaholic's Alma. There are enough neckline and sleeve variations that it could become a TNT. I really like the neckline from view A. Another place to use prints

Salme's Peplum Top. Actually working on a summer version in a geometric print. The measurements (except for the distance from shoulder to full bust) were spot on. Like the Ceylon may be too distinctive, and maybe too trendy. Are peplums even "in" anymore?

Not Pictured:
Colette's Taffy Blouse from The Colette Sewing Handbook. Not in a sheer fabric like they suggest but I like the idea of the sleeves. I want the book anyway. The Licorice Dress is a possibility too, but the lack of a waist scares me a bit.

Vera Venus' 30's PJ Top. She drafted it into a dress as well so it's not distinctively PJ-like, and I had a top similar that we got rid of when I decided I was not going to settle for subpar fit. Will probably need a FBA to fit perfectly but the starting measurements aren't too far off.

Folkwear's Armistace Blouse. Blousey but I think could be nice for muggy summers- I'm thinking a pretty swiss dot with some of the lace we picked off my mom's wedding dress the other summer.

* I don't mean thin knits that tear and pill quickly, I mean quality fabrics, good construction, etc.
**Or the roughly 436 days until I get my hood, provided I pass my comps. Not that I'm counting or anything.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Cheesecake Mint Oreo Brownies

Blech, ugly picture.

Adapted from this recipe (pinterest labeled this a spamy so continue at your own risk)

It's basically an easy cheesecake recipe (you can google your own) on top of mint oreos squished into brownie batter with mint chips on top.The result is great but it could use some tweaking. I wanted to bake and so read off my baking pin board to DH. He got excited with this one, so I sent him out with a very short grocery list (hated driving in Waco, I did not and still do not trust Texan drivers, though I'm learning Virginians can be just as scary). This recipe produces a lot, so either be okay with several thousand calories sitting in your kitchen or take some to work/church/class and make friends. I made DH take plenty to his work, I told him not to come home with any.

What I changed:
-          The brownie mix DH picked up (a Ghirardelli one if memory serves) made a scant amount so it barely gave a ½” layer on the bottom, so I wedged oreos on top and slightly into it. I used 2 cookies short of a whole pack. I ate the leftover cookies.
-          HEB (even the nicer ones in town) didn’t have mint and dark chocolate chips. I had DH pick up a pack (the last one in the store) of Andes mints and chop them up. They were fine.

Other Thoughts:
-          Next time, I want to use my own homemade brownie recipe (more intensive but worth it) and control the output a bit more. Joy the Baker, Pioneer Woman, and Smitten Kitchen all have brownie recipes (multiples even).
-          If you use a brownie mix, apparently you can no long find just brownie mixes, they all have mix ins to make them sound better. Get the kind with the syrup not the nuts/chips. The chips mean it is hard to get the cookies to lay right. Also, probably buy an oversized box or two boxes to get a nicer base layer.
-          DH wanted to use the chocolate coated mint oreos. I thought it was overkill. .
-          Instead of sprinkling the chips on top, I would mix them into the cheesecake layer
-          Let them cool in the pan (I used a glass one) before cutting, and cut with a plastic cutter like you would normal brownies
-          These will not win you any pretty dessert awards. They're kind of messy. And oh so heavy.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Olive's Costume/Sewing List

My machine is off to the shop (the bobbin case is catching the top thread on something and I can't quite figure it out) so there's going to be very few sewing posts until I get it back. In the mean time, I thought I would work on a sewing list for Olive, it's only fair.

- Joan of Arc (enough of her being called 'him')
- K-9 (there's an adorable corgi dressed as K-9 floating around pinterest)
- Sherlock Holmes (I really just want to make her the iverness coat in a tweed or houndstooth)
- Serenity (the ship)
- Disney-canon Maid Marion (she already has the foxy Sheltie face, despite her raccoon markings)
- Pony (mostly to make up for my mistakes 13? years ago that I subjected on poor Niki)

Other Sewing Projects:
- Something for the Scottish Walk (probably using DH's clan's* tartan, or else the Stuart tartan since it's similar and cheaper). Do women wear kilts? Can you even make a puppy kilt without it looking like it belongs on a "Kilt Girl"? Shame only boys are supposed to wear TOS, I think they're adorable (and one of the reasons I would consider going the PhD route, since it really doesn't have professional value outside of teaching and just no.)
- Recovering some of her old toys using stash fabric

*Don't ask me which one it is, I know Sean Connery is in it and it's HQed on the Isle of Man. If I had taken the program opening in the UK we would have gone to the annual meeting this year.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Pesto Pasta Soup

DH and I kind of skipped Valentine's Day, I was volunteering in Maryland during the day but on my way home I felt awful and felt awful for another couple days. When I finally felt like cooking (DH did the rest of the days) this is what we had. With the potato-onion base it reminds me of a creamy, less starchy chicken pot pie (sub bacon for chicken of course). I won't say which is better- I felt like this could have benefited from more green (adjusted below)- but it is a fast soup which is always good.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Olive's House

Olive has three "crates" around the condo. This was accidental but allows her various comfortable vantage points to survey her domain DH and my home. One in the living room, one in the office, and one in our room.

Crates 1 & 2 are boring conventional flexi and plastic-shell crates for traveling and for bed time. Flexi means she can be contained when her stomach is upset overnight but can see everything, making her happy. The shell means she can't chew through it without a ton of determination while we're gone (which she has but a kong of peanut butter and kibble helps deter her) and can be buckled in when we go on a car ride (straps around the outside make it more secure and allow it to be buckled into 2-point or 3-point belts).*

 Taken outside Roanoke after a long car ride from around Little Rock (day 2 of the trek from Texas). It's currently serving as her canopy bed, stuffed with a large fleece blanket and a couple bath sheets to give her plenty of fabric to root around in.

Anywho, that brings us to crate 3. Olive's very special, handmade, custom wood crate.**

If she sits up very tall, and puts her ears up, she still has a couple inches of room

You would think any dog would be happy to have a comfortable crate like this. Nope. First Sunday we had her, we came home from church to find she left us a present in the living room and took chunks out of the door of the crate.

 Every so often I will throw all her toys in the back, and one by one she will unpack them so they are all under the coffee table.

This was DH's project while we waited for our adoption paperwork to be approved (and before we knew the size of dog we were getting) so he did all the math and most of the decision making (I had most of the say of the color on the top). He took this project from Ana White and downsized so that it is 24"x24"x32" and could have gone much smaller to comfortably fit ~13" Olive. If you do re-size it, I would recommend finding a standard crate size for a mat/pillow. We are having a time finding one that fits well. MDF was used for the top and plywood for the base and inserts (plexi would would work too), and pine for the sides and door. The hinges and latch were purchased at home depot as was the paint (something in the Behr 400- series, I think Mossy Green but I could be wrong, I know it was an all-weather/outdoor paint which is a bit of a pain since I find it to be a bit tacky with dust or wet glasses for whatever reason).

The hinge is on the left side as, in the old apartment, the crate was on the other side of the couch and it made sense in my head. I want to remove the door since we never keep her in it anyway but DH wants it to stay. Whatever. Still needs to be stained.

HOWEVER, by careful if you use this project as there are math problems with length/cuts missing. So carefully read the directions and walk through each step and highlight each cut as it corresponds to a step to make sure everything makes sense.

DH's Thoughts:
- Wait to stain until after you see if your dog is part beaver
- Either use the exact size as the pattern or be very competent with wood construction*** or math, better if it's 2 out of the 3
- Pocket Holer-thingy is very useful and makes it much cleaner
- Don't use the plastic plugs on the inside of the door/crate, dogs can and probably will eat them (we used wood filler stuff that's harder to pop off)
- Electric Sander is also useful
- Home Depot does pretty decent cuts but if you get the high schooler, you may want to add length or get extra pieces since our guy decided to not measure each piece but instead used each progressive piece as a ruler (I think I was off looking at door hardware or something)
- It is possible with only one power tool (minus cuts) as long as it is a drill.
- Make sure all exposed sides and edges are smooth for delicate puppy skin, and stupid human toes

*We allowed her to be loose in the car when we took her home from her foster parents but knew we wanted at least a harness on her since she's neurotic and it's safer for them to be contained, especially in an accident (and it's illegal for a dog to unrestrained in a vehicle in some states near us). We bought the shell crate since she's an escape artist. Figure it's easier for first responders if we are ever in an accident since she doesn't wear a leash in the car and the crate can be picked up and carried.
** You'll notice that both the flexi and wooden crates are over-sized. Because she was already potty trained (ignoring the church present) and she is not kept in either without supervision, the "den" mentality isn't a problem. Her shell crate is smaller (but still appropriate for her size, even though she loves to smoosh herself into a tiny ball in the back) so if she needed a den mentality for house training, it would suffice. DH didn't trust the stability of wire crates so we don't have one of those. I do want an exercise pen at some point but that can wait for now.
***My two years of musical tech crew were not enough

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything Shirt (Blank Canvas Tee)

I had the bright idea that I wanted to make a dress for a friend's wedding (think I mentioned this in a previous post, possibly the Katniss shirt). But the shirt I had in mind was knit, and I had next to no experience with knits so I thought I should get some experience before digging into the more expensive and very slinky bamboo rayon knit I bought (once again, I show I have terrible taste in fabrics). There was a sale going on for micro pique knit, bought two yards and ended up with two shirts and a couple of tug toys.

I thought the Blank Canvas Tee was a good starting point. Never mind I had the inclination that I didn't like kimono sleeves. Instead of doing the logical thing and doing the pattern as is, I had to hack right away to the Sailor Sweetheart Hack.* If you are ... ehem... a bit east-west up top, the directions of how wide to make the neckline are way off. So I cut I a new front and it's still off. At this point I decide it looks weird in grape purple and moved on to do the basic pattern.

In this time I made the first of several tugs for Ms Fluffy Pants.**

Look at those nice clean teeth

Anyway, the only alteration I made to the pattern was changing the neckline from a crew to a swooping V, and therefore changed the method of neckline binding attachment. Instead of a smooth insertion, I overlapped the ends at the point of the V. There's some weird pucker going on but oh well.

 There's also something messy going on with the sleeve bindings. I cut a 35 since the 40 I cut for my first version was way too big. However, because my full bust is between 37.25 and 38 depending on the foundation there is a bit of strumming going on. Also, the waist is loose so not the most flattering. Since the shirt is meant for riding I'm not too concerned about fit issues as far as function goes.

Compare the fit of the RTW DriFit top (large) to the basically unaltered Blank Canvas (35). Meh.
But look at the pretty puppy!

- I *need* a walking foot before I take on another knit project. I can't seem to adjust foot pressure, only tension so there's too much stretching
- I definitely am not a fan of kimono sleeves, it just feels weird
- The pattern isn't bad if you are willing to alter it (which seems like the whole point of it anyway).
- If you are between sizes, seriously consider if you want looser (size up) or snugger across your fullest part (size down)
- There's not much shaping through the waist so if you prefer it (next time I want to do something with it) you'll need to tailor
- I may make a few more in a real athletic knit for riding this summer/ internship (found out this week where I will be interning this summer and the summers are notoriously muggy)
- I am terrible at top stitching

* That's how this shirt got it's name... sailor... purple... grape... veggitales... Pirates Who Don't Do Anything! This is how my brain works.
**Those who follow me on twitter (@TheDelebear) you've already seen this picture but oh well. I like it.