Wednesday, December 29, 2010
I made up Colette Patterns' Cinnamon slip dress in Vera Wang hammered silk charmeuse in chartreuse (chartreuse charmeuse! fun to say!). In this fabric it's definitely a slip or nightie, not a dress. I really don't enjoy sewing a delicate, slippery silk like this; the fabric is so tricksy. I do nothing but worry and second-guess myself the whole time, but phew! I think it came out alright! The credit really must go (once again) to Sarai's beautiful and thoughtful designs.
Sorry I couldn't get a better photo; it was blowing like mad outside today and dark inside: folded on the bed was the best I could do. I still have a few gifts to get together. ahem, sorry ladies. And an orange skirt I'm finishing for myself that I need to post, before the nightmare that is winter quarter absorbs me (I am teaching and taking 20 credits - twice a full load for doctoral students). Ugh. I'm starting to feel too old and too tired to be excited anymore. Then again, I always feel this dread before returning; I just have to remember that I will enjoy it when I'm actually back in classes again. At least this quarter I have a slightly better schedule (eg, I've managed to get a full weekday OFF from campus - haven't had that in three years!) and have purchased all my books online on the cheap - or at least, all the ones I know about. That should offset the cost of having the beautiful gray boots my mother in law bought me on sale taken in at the back.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
I'm not even sure if these are agates or some kind of jade - but I like them! I picked up the stones somewhere - Cali? Washington? I don't know - in the past few years, figuring I'd make earrings with them. I had originally planned to make a little cluster of garnet drops drape the tops of these stones, but while I was making earrings and playing in my box of beads and bead supplies, I found these little ...whaddya call 'ems? Pop-on...somethings? pendants? I don't know. Found these little metal bits and fit them to the green stone beads. Added some simple silver earwires. Because I can't wear giant tassels in my ears every day, but I can wear olive and chartreuse any day I want.
Speaking of chartreuse ... wait 'til you see my next sewing project. Hope to have it finished/posted tomorrow - so I'd better get to work!
I dream of the day I can make these right the first time. But still, they taste delicious, the unmelted flakes of Hawaiian sea salt make for a delightful surprise crunch!, and their smooth texture (aside from salt crystals, that is) is spot-on. Everything worth knowing takes time, eh?
If you haven't seen my caramel posts before, I've linked one above where I note the changes I make for a full-batch of caramels. And here's the original recipe on epicurious.
And why yes, that is sunshine on the parchment paper. For a brief hour or so, solstice morning dawned sunny (I love it when it does that):
I'm off for a walk. I overtaxed my injured wrist yesterday and am feeling the burn today. So, no gym today, a long walk instead. I'm going to pick out a nice vegan meal and go buy groceries to make it. I'll be back later this afternoon with another handmade holidays post: knocking off anthropologie again, this time it's some seriously dramatic earrings.
Sunday, December 19, 2010
I make these with frozen puff pastry (rolled out, cut into squares) filled with a little squeeze of chestnut paste that I brought back from Paris (Clement Faugier's chestnut paste, which is also available at DeLaurenti's in the Market now), and a dab of rosehip jelly that I made from the wild nootka rosehips we foraged in the mountains last winter. You simply swipe the edges of the little square of puff pastry with water and fold it over the paste and jam, pressing with fork tines to seal it together. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cut a little vent in the top (I like to make two small diagonal cuts). Beat an egg with about a tablespoon of cold water. Brush the mixture over the tops of the turnovers and sprinkle sugar over them. The egg will give them a nice gloss, and the sugar gives a tiny bit of crunch. It's that extra pzazz that makes it seem like you really know baking ;)
Bake at 400 degrees F for 15 minutes, or until pastries are golden. Let cool at least 10 minutes before eating - really. The jam becomes molten and Cass and I seriously burned ourselves (both mouths and hands) the first time I made these because we did not stop eating them!
A note on rosehip jelly: a Serbian friend of mine, upon learning what I'd been making this summer, informed me that rosehip jelly is a winter tradition back home, so I gave him a jar. He was able to confirm that the flavour of our native wild nootka roses is very different from the roses used in European jam recipes - which I think favour rosa rugosa and other large-fruiting varieties of shrub rose. So my rosehip jelly is tannic, like sweet black tea, but I think these would be just as good if you were able to source a more traditional European rosehip jam at an import foods shop.
Saturday, December 18, 2010
(speaking of to-dos, you should see the ridiculous list I've made for my two weeks off. There should be plenty of posting over the break - though, if I were wise, I'd hold some in reserve for winter quarter, when I'm in for another 20-credit quarter - twice a full load for a grad student - and teaching)
We still get a small tree - smaller than any I grew up with - but mostly because Rising Sun Farms (in Ravenna) has such great prices on their little trees. Plus, when I first moved to Seattle, I used to walk there a couple times a week to buy groceries at rock-bottom prices. They got to know me, and they cut me a deal on the tree that first Christmas. That kindness meant a lot to me as I was almost completely out of money that December, having only just managed to find work after months of looking. And so, I am perennially loyal.
But as I was saying. Every year I purchase 2-4 ornaments, usually the day after Christmas, on sale. And over the years, it's really become a beautiful collection of orbs, acorns, pinecones and glass icicles (a nod to the tinsel that I loved as a child). We haven't used the origami roses in a few years, but they still live with the Christmas ornaments in the Christmas box. I think one of these years I might them up in our bedroom, a romantic reminder of our early years.
Anyhow, I was struck by a ray of winter sun gleaming in through this blown glass pomegranate the other morning; it so perfectly expresses how I feel about winter, the brief glory of cold, low yellow sun.
But of course, the tree is particularly glorious after dark. So, for family and friends that won't be in Seattle this winter - here's a peek into our holiday. With presents for you under the tree, just waiting to be packed up and sent out!
wishing you a holiday as beautiful and special as winter sunshine, full of memories of love and family!
In the spirit of the thing I whipped this up for her - and got it to her just in time! - for a little extra black and white flair (it was charming against her Louise Brooks wig). Black and white rooster feathers (from this project), black leather (from this one), a vintage rhinestone earring that the vintage shop owner was willing to just give me, a vintage button I had on hand, and a small piece of one of the plastic combs I bought when I made this.
Times are tight, and moving this year reminded me just how many raw materials I already have on hand; so I'm trying to use some of them up this holiday season, when I can come up with a good way to do it.
Friday, November 26, 2010
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
ta-da, what do you think? Maybe with a bit of striped butcher's twine for tying up some of the packages?
Putting a wreath together is pretty easy, actually. You make or buy a form. You buy or trim small branches of greens, and you gradually wire them onto the form in small clusters, with the greenery pointing away from you and the branches coming towards you. As you get to the end, you have to fuss a bit and kind of tuck the branches from the last bits of green under the greenery from the first bits you put on (does that make sense?), but it's not hard. I tucked some rosehips into this one for a bit of colour; I wish I'd had some eucalyptus pods to put in it, too, but I haven't, and the florist's (like many other businesses) is closed due to snow. Ah, well, that's life!
Martha Stewart has some instructions for making wreaths in this post on her website from what seems like a much older episode of her show. Use the instructions for the six-inch wreath. I know I learned to make wreaths from her show in 1993 or 1994, and I think it was this same season. The newer ideas seem primarily to use pre-made wreaths, so those won't help you, unfortunately. (Martha! shortcuts? really?? I'm surprised at you!)
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
So! Printed out some free peyote stitch graph paper, dug through my beads to find the colours I wanted to combine (or at least,the closest approximation I had on hand), and got to colouring that graph paper with markers until I made a design that I liked. Beaded this up over the weekend while too sick to do much else (handy, that!), then roughly affixed a thick piece of red leather to the back by stitching from the leather through the links of the chain and down through the edges of the beading. Does that make sense? I let the chain droop a bit below the patch because I liked that look, and affixed these solid brass drops.
Now, this is actually a birthday present, but I am in a SERIOUS holiday gift-making mood (too bad I still have two small seminar assignments, a presentation, and two papers to write before I'm done with the quarter, pah!), so I'm calling it the first post of this year's "Handmade Holidays" posts. I have SO MANY ideas this year - it's going to kill me when I run out of time! =)
But for now, optimism is the word. Bring on the cheer and the mistletoe. It's freezing in Seattle and I am psyched for the holidays!
Sunday, October 24, 2010
For more on reverse applique, see these previous posts from me:
2009: Irish County T-Shirt
2008: Maidenhair Fern Pillow Covers (in velvet!)
2008: Tallulah Bankhead T-Shirt
And this post from the woman who brought reverse applique (along with a unique business plan and eco-conscience) to exquisite heights in the fashion world, Natalie Chanin:
DIY Eagle T-shirt
To make your own one-time-use stencil out of cheap printer paper (which has the benefit of being easy to cut, for all that it is a flimsy stencil), spray the back of your stencil (after you've selected, enlarged, printed, and cut out your image) with a repositionable spray adhesive, available at some arts and crafts stores. It basically turns the backside of your paper stencil into a giant sticky note. I have found that the adhesive did not leave a residue on these shirts, even though I left the stencil on the shirt for two weeks while I applied multiple coats of fabric paint.
Wild Mushroom Bisque
1/4 c. (1/2 stick) butter
1/4 c. flour
about 2 c. loosely packed sliced chanterelle mushrooms
about 2 c. loosely packed sliced lobster mushrooms
about 1/2 - 3/4 c. loosely packed sliced shiitake mushrooms
3 Tbl. olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 Tbl minced fresh rosemary
1 c. cream sherry
3 c. vegetable stock
1 c. heavy whipping cream
2 c. nonfat milk
Use the butter and flour to prepare a roux: melt the butter in a small sautepan over medium heat. Add the flour and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, to form a thick paste with a toasty smell. Do not let the roux darken. Set aside to cool.
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add mushrooms, onions, rosemary, and garlic. Saute over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking and burning, until the mushrooms and onions have softened and begun to caramelize, about 10-15 minutes.
Add the sherry and cook until liquid has reduced by half. Add the stock, milk and cream. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce heat to keep the soup at a simmer. Stir in the roux a tablespoon at a time until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. You will probably need all of the roux, but feel free to make a thinner soup if that's your preference.
Puree the soup in a blender or food processor. Return to pan and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Savory Pumpkin Biscuits with Chives and Caramelized Shallots
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1-2 Tbl. olive oil
2 1/2 c. flour
1 Tbl. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
4 Tbl. (1/2 stick) cold butter, cut into small pieces
2/3 c. pumpkin
1/4 c. milk
5 scallions (green onions), dark green ends only, chopped
Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit
Heat olive oil in a small saute pan over medium heat. Add shallots and reduce heat to medium-low. Saute until deeply caramelized and crispy. (Note: you can prepare the biscuits while these cook, just keep an eye on them and keep stirring occasionally as necessary to prevent sticking/burning). Drain on paper towels. Chop or crumble between fingers.
Meanwhile in separate large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cut in butter pieces with pastry blender or fingers until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add pumpkin and milk and combine to make a soft dough, adding more flour as necessary if mixture is too sticky.
Work chopped chives and crumbled shallot into the dough, then turn dough out onto a floured work surface and knead until dough is smooth and elastic. Roll out to 1/2 to 3/4" thick and cut into small rounds (I used a small-mouth mason jar as a cutter; you could also use a glass or - of course - a proper biscuit cutter).
Place biscuits on a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment. Allow some space for rising, though the pumpkin seems to prevent them from puffing up too much, so you don't need to space them more than 1" apart. Bake at 425 for 15-17 minutes, or until they have turned golden (or really, a slightly deeper shade of orange).
Remove from oven, let cool slightly. Top with a dollop of plain nonfat strained greek yogurt or better, plain Icelandic skyr (I like Siggi's skyr, which I find at Whole Foods). Drizzle with just a touch of honey.
So, when I had some bananas about to go bad one day, I decided to make bananas foster - rice. I cut the four bananas lengthwise, then sliced the halves into 1/2"-thick half-rounds (approximately). I melted 1 or 2 tablespoons of butter, added a tablespoon of brown sugar, some vanilla, and spices (I think I used nutmet, cloves ... and maybe ginger or cardamom?). I added the bananas and cooked them over medium heat until the bananas were soft and the butter/sugar cooked into a thick syrup. Meanwhile, I cooked 1 cup of basmati rice with 2 cups of water. When the bananas were soft and the rice was fluffy, I stirred it all together. Try it - it's a good, simple treat!
So let's begin with a recipe we made a week or two ago from a cookbook we got for our wedding (Earth to Table): a pizza topped with shredded chanterelles, corn kernels, fresh thyme and goat cheese (we used maple-smoked chevre). Literally, that's all that topped this pizza. Simple, and delicious. I think next time, I would use a thin crust and brush it with olive oil and season with some salt and pepper, too. Delicious!
Thursday, September 23, 2010
I made mine out of a floral-print swiss dot in black, but then I realized I'd (whoops) made it out of sheer fabric and (double whoops) used a white stabilizer on my facing. I tried to fix it by tea-dying the fused pieces (don't ask me HOW the whole thing didn't just fall apart), but to little avail. So, in order to mask the very-opaque, very white interfacing, I resorted to a bit of embroidery - a simple running stitch in a pale nude-pink that wraps around the keyhole and the neckline. Really, it was serendipitous, because I'm quite happy with the deco-feel that resulted.
Monday, September 20, 2010
Here's a simple way to collect the seeds and grow more of your favorite flowers next year:
cut rough circles of lightweight fabric. It should be thin, rather sheer, as this will allow light and air to continue to reach the flower where the seeds are developing. Just make sure it's not so delicate that it can't endure a bit of weather (I wouldn't use silk, for example). The sample circles above (a quarter is in the middle of one, for reference) were cut from polyester organza leftover from making that veil. These were actually too small for most of my echinacea blooms, and I had to cut larger ones.
Pull the long ends to gather up the fabric along the running stitch. Gently fit the little fabric cup over the seed-head of your flower. Tighten the fabric around the flower's stem and tie off the threads. You don't want to cut the threads into the stem (so as not to damage the flower), but do tie it quite tightly - if the seeds should start to fall off the seed-head, you want the fabric to gather them all together and keep them contained. I just tied the loose ends in a bow, but you could knot them as well.
I used this recipe as a model for my own. I used all the fruit we had (so, more than twice the amount called for in the original recipe), cut the crumb topping, added vanilla, and stirred the fruit into the batter instead of placing it on top of the cake. I had to cook it more than twice the original length of time, but the result was a dense fruity cake (really, you could hardly tell there was any cake) that stayed moist over days without even being wrapped. Here's my version below:
1/4 c. canola oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 c. nonfat milk
2 tsp Mexican vanilla extract
1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. sugar
2 heaping tsp. baking powder
2 1/2 - 3 c. fresh blackberries, picked over, rinsed and drained.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a 9" square pan with sides at least 2" high. I used a 9" diameter springform pan with high sides.
Mix wet ingredients together. In a separate bowl, whisk or sift together dry ingredients. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and whisk until a smooth batter forms.
Add berries to batter and gently fold in, using a wooden spoon, until berries are evening distributed throughout batter.
Pour into prepared pan, and bake about 60-70 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean (or with moist crumbs rather than wet batter attached).
Monday, September 13, 2010
Finally! At long last, coming far far behind the heels of
african wax-print #1
african wax-print #2
I have made time to use the african wax-print cloth that Ari brought home for me from Rwanda. The women in the village agreed that this was "the most beautiful" of the local patterns, and I have to agree that it's gorgeous (plus, I love green). I almost went for black buttons, but somehow, at the fabric store, they looked too dark, too shocking. Though everyone disagreed with my choice of these navy buttons (except Cass), I don't think they're "too bright" at all; I mean, c'mon, it's ankara cloth - bright is part of the appeal, right?
To make this blouse, I used Vogue pattern V8598. I used the sleeve in view D (featured below) as a model, but cut it short to make a half-sleeve. Instead of adding the continuous lap, pleats, and cuff, I left a slit open at the back of each of my sleeves (finishing the hem with a shirttail hem, basically), and made the tabs from leftover fabric. To make a band collar instead of a foldover collar, I just cut the collar band piece from the pattern and not the collar itself. I skipped adding the collar piece in when I sewed the band together and voila! Continue like normal. =)
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Thank goodness it was a short veil! Each of the two layers is only 20" long, but of course the standard width for veils is 108 inches (or nine feet!), so I had a lot to do. The edge was blind-hemmed by hand. The floral motif was taken directly from the embroidery motif on the bride's gown. I embroidered two smaller versions of this central motif on either side, making a total of five embroidered motifs, each separated from the other by a length of palestrina knots (also known as old english knot), which I also used to trim the rest of the veil, embroidering the knots over the edge of my blind hem.
Though I'm glad to be done with it, I think a veil is something every bride could make for herself, especially if she wants a simple one - this would have been super fast if I had just been sewing ribbon or pearl-trim to the edge - and from what I read online, it seems that making your own veil is a good way to trim your wedding budget by as much as a couple hundred dollars (not much in the grand scheme of things, but it all adds up!). Here's the tutorial I used as the basis for making this veil, but there are a lot more out there - just google "diy wedding veil" and see!
I also made seven hairpieces to tuck into the top of the bride's updo (which I was also responsible for creating on the day of the wedding). The tiny white violets are my favorite; I think when my hands recover I might consider making a hairpiece for myself, just using these. To make them, I bought some ribbon that looks like little flowers linked together, like this:
click here to buy your own from things festive
I cut the tiny flowers apart, and stitched a single seed bead into the center of each one (mine were rocailles: clear glass with a silver-painted center), and added a few little stitches to subtly shape the violets into a more natural/organic form. I stitched them together, one by one. It took hours, I'm not going to lie to you. This is definitely not a craft for someone looking to finish quickly, but the final result was exquisite. The silvery leaves are from some expensive french lace that I bought and cut apart, tossing the flowers but keeping the leaves (I sealed cut edges with tacky glue to prevent fraying). The tiny faux pearls on clear plastic line I bought at a party goods store and cut apart, and the larger faux pearls I slipped onto thick headpins, securing with tacky glue. The little rosettes are made from a branch of faux spray roses that I cut apart, stitching about three little blossoms together for each of the rosettes you see above.
All in all, a lot of work for a few little glitzy bits and bobs, but totally worth it to help a beautiful bride on her special day!
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Saturday, July 24, 2010
Cass had the idea to make plum dumplings; imagine my surprise when, after suggesting for months that I make them, I came to him for a recipe and he said he'd never had them before! What was the root of all that insistence, I wonder? Well, wherever that inspiration came from, it was genius. These things are so VERY good that I know I'll be making tons of them from now on - and as far as desserts go, they're really not terrible for you. And they make a perfect breakfast - that is, if you can manage to keep from eating them all in one go!
I used a Polish recipe I found, that didn't make a potato dough. It speeds the process considerably. Also, I used perfectly ripe red plums (my favorite!) cut into quarters rather than the traditional little Italian prune-plums, which I'm less excited to eat - and it worked just fine.
4 ripe red plums, pitted and cut into quarters, or 16 small black prune-plums, pitted
2 c. flour
2 egg yolks
1 Tbl. salted butter, melted
1 c. lukewarm milk (I used non-fat) thanks Cheryl!
Place flour in a bowl. In a separate cup or bowl, whisk together wet ingredients. Pour wet into dry and stir into a sticky dough. Set aside, let rise 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, turn dough out on a floured board and knead just to make a smooth, elastic noodle dough. Roll out dough into a rectangle (at least 9 X12). Cut dough into quarters.
Working with one quarter of the dough at a time, cut that quarter of the dough into quarters again (or sixteenths of the original dough). Roll each out until you have a square or rectangle to wrap around your plum.
To wrap my plum quarters, I placed a plum, skin-side down, on the diagonal of a square of dough in my palm (this way, the thinnest part of the dough would be exposed to the least amount of plum juice, thus helping to prevent the noodle dough from tearing). I would wrap first one corner and then another across the middle of the cut side of the plum wedge, lightly wetting the edges where I needed to seal dough onto dough. Then I would wrap the other corners over the points of the plum wedge. I'd then squeeze and press the dough-wrapped plum a bit, just to make sure all of the edges were sealed, and placed it on a baking sheet.
Repeat process, cutting, rolling and wrapping, for all 16 plum quarters.
Bring a pan of water to a boil. Slip your dumplings into the pan; you'll want to do this in 2-3 batches so that the dumplings don't get stuck together. Boil dumplings for 10 minutes, then drain and, if not serving immediately, toss with a little bit of oil (olive oil, melted butter, etc.) to keep dumplings from becoming one gluey mass.
To serve, top with little bit of melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
Our dinner is united by a lemon-and-lavender flavour theme (I was also originally going to decorate the table with potted lavender plants, before my MIL offered her summer dahlia garden for the tables), and so I made some fresh bunting to hang from the trees from vintage sari cloth my aunt Diane gave to me. This is stunningly beautiful cloth worked in lavendar and gold, but I could never decide what to do with it because I knew that once I cut it, it would start to fray. So, in order to reinforce these, I fused the back of three yards of the sari cloth with lightweight fusible interfacing. There are still some threads that are fraying, but most of them have been captured and I think these will hold up considerably better for having a fused backing. I was only able to make three 12' strings of these, but as the colour palette is so similar, I think we will just have to mix these with our Swedish Midsommar buntings (in blue and yellow).
Monday, July 19, 2010
What to do with all of them?