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.