Friday, February 29, 2008

C'mon. . . Heart it!!!!

So I just listed some really cute fabric postcards on etsy. I just love the way they turned out and can't wait to make more. It's so rewarding--getting these little guys done. Now I'm just waiting around for someone to heart some of them. I love hearts!

I had some good success with the patchwork yesterday. In about 6 hours total, I managed to get over 3 yards of diagonal random patchwork done. I'm not quite sure what I'll make with it yet, but it felt good to get this done. It actually came out faster than I'd thought.

I have to share with you a photo of my lunch earlier this week. At Trader Joes on Sunday I picked up a delicious garlic cheese baguette. I loaded up some of the roasted veggies from the a few days earlier, slapped on some homemade pesto and voila!

I'm really enjoying this--blogging about food. It has actually gotten me into the kitchen and cooking more.

I finished up the wrap skirt I started a couple weeks ago. After sorting thru all my fabrics, I came across a lovely cinnamon brown print with leaves and flowers. The leaves matched the lady vine print perfectly and I used it for the waistband and hemband. I will hold off on showing you, as it will be included in the next website update.

I'm anxiously awaiting my new (used) serger next week. I've been wanting a 5 thread serger for a more sturdy seam for patchwork, and more options for the knits and jerseys I've become so fond of using lately. I'm thinking that if all goes well with the new serger, I'll be working with a lot more knits for the Spring and Summer festivals. They feel so good against the skin, and are actually fairly easy to stitch up. Next time I order fabric I'm going to try the bamboo jersey, as the piece of bamboo fleece is just SOOO freaking luxurious that my friend Heather sent me. I imagine the jersey will be just as nice!

Dinner tonight was pretty darn good, too. Craving shrimp again, I was pleased to come across Emeril Live's Shrimp show that was on tonight. I went to the website and browsed at what was added. Since I didn't have any cream (I never do!) or milk, I opened a can of cream of mushroom soup. Yup! The staple in white trash meals. But I love the stuff! I sauteed up some onions and garlic, added some of the soup mix, veggie stock, and some pesto. I added the pre-browned shrimp with the pesto towards the end and it was really yummy. I stirred it up with some spaghetti.

Next up, shopping for fabrics for my next custom order. Yay! An excuse to go nuts at the quilt shop!!! Pin It

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Drafting instead of publishing

Sorry I forgot to actually publish the post below on Monday. I'll have an update for the fabric stash organization maybe later today or tomorrow.

On Saturday I did somethin' wrong during Yoga and my left wrist has been aching a good bit. How the hell do you screw your wrist up in Yoga? Well, I managed to do it. Somehow. Too many sun salutations?

At least it's a good use for this leftover strip of stretch hemp. And pink, no less.

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Monday, February 25, 2008

It's time for. . .

Patchwork. Yup. Every sewers nightmare, or blessing, depending on how you look at it. For me, it is more of a nightmare, all these bits and pieces of fabrics from years past. I like to just go in there and grab fabric and make stuff. Sometimes I don't wanna have to piece a bunch together to make a big enough piece of fabric to make something out of. But now is the time. Fortunately after the pieces have been sewn together, a beautiful patchwork creation emerges, and that excites me.

I store my fabrics in dressers. The main one is an antique dresser from my great uncle who lived in Waycross Georgia. It is a beautiful dresser, with large deep drawers that I've been using for the past 14 years of sewing.

On Saturday I began pulling out all these fabrics. Most of them in these two drawers being discussed today are my calico prints. They are from craft and fabric stores, purchased before discovering the incredible world of designer quilt shop fabrics. I prefer to use quilt shop fabrics now, and these fabrics have been pushed further and deeper into the drawers until no more could fit.

I started sorting the pieces by size, as many of them were already cut into strips. Other pieces that weren't strait-sided or were of odd shapes, like maybe I cut a bodice or something else curvy out of it, were put aside in another pile. A pile for smaller pieces and one for larger. There was even a pile for strait-sided small pieces, that eventually could become random patchwork. So I have all the calico strips assorted by width.

Don't they look all nice laid out like that? Thanks to Kelly for the idea to store them this way. I used to just have them all stacked up together by color. But I'd get pissed off when I went to use it up, realizing it was a smaller piece than I'd thought. You just don't know what ya got when it's all folded up and stacked and you have to pull out the whole stack so it doesn't mess everything else up. This way works much better.

The next step will be to cut squares from all these strips. Obviously they will be different size squares so those will go into their own piles. Amongst all the larger strips were more narrow strips, definitely cut with some sort of purpose in mind. Those went into two piles; one for selvage to selvage strips, and one for the strips that were not the full width of fabric. I am a strip-piecing fanatic, so most of my patterned patchwork is made this way. Thus, the reason for all those strips in the first place. I think it's going to be a lot of fun, making some sort of strippy project. I did a few purses like that a few years ago and I just loved how simple and interesting they turned out.

So patchwork it will be.

On Friday I cooked myself up delicious dinner. Roasted root veggies, sauteed beet greens with shallot, and heated up some pre-cooked fried rice from Trader Joes. Can you tell I like to roast up veggies??? It really is the best way to bring out their natural flavors.

Tomorrow I will start cutting squares. Pin It

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Pushing up shrooms

I love mushrooms. I love to eat them and I love to make little mushroom appliqu├ęs. I neglected to tell you all about the delicious mushrooms I cooked up a couple weeks ago.

Okay, so this blog is a LOT about cooking. What can I say??? My love lies in the kitchen. Cuz that's where I sew, batik, cook, and prepare the meals to feed my DH and cats. Well, they get crunchies and tuna, but still! I feed them with love!!!

We had to go visit a friend down in Silver Spring, MD, and passed the KoreanKorner supermarket along the way. This is one of those hustle-bustle-type places with, obviously, groceries and goods catering to Asian cuisine. It is an International market, with a small Latino-section where DH was hoping to score some bottled Cokes. They make their cokes with cane sugar--not high frutcose corn syrup which is nasty and cheap.

Overwhelmed by the dozens of people just in the produce section alone, DH quickly searched the store and found no cokes. Pissed off, he said he'd go wait in the car, as I hadn't even made it thru the snap pea section.

And then I saw them.

King Oyster Mushrooms

Aren't they just perfect?

I mean, who wouldn't love and want these mushrooms? Unless you are of the freak-ish type that doesn't like mushrooms. . . But they just looked so lovely. . . all packaged up beautifully in the clear-wrapped Styrofoam container. They looked so white, so fresh, trimmed precisely and seemed so well cared for. Like a little gift.

I just had to have them.

The following night, I sliced them up with some garlic. I couldn't really find a descent collection of recipes or ideas when I Google'd it, which is my number one spot to find answers--to anything. (on a side-note, I have to point out how funny I think it is when people have no idea where to find things on the web and don't even think about Google!)

I had a hankering for some shrimp, too, so I thawed some that I had in the freezer and made a little sauce with vegetable stock, soy sauce, sesame oil and black pepper.

I served it over steamed rice & carrots and it was awesome.

These mushrooms have sort of a chewy texture to them---very much like Shiitake mushrooms.*

*This concludes the story of the mushroom stir-fry.

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If at first you don't succeed, try and try again, or bust out the scissors

I'm feeling a bit more accomplished today. I finally got a pair of pants done for a custom order. I'm pretty happy with them, although I'm wondering about the fit. Either this guy is pretty little, or he did one helluva job measuring himself. He wanted something Grateful Dead-ish, with a few different logo choices. After letting him know that I don't do copy-written logos, we settled for the lightning bolt applique--one that looks least like an official logo. I mean, it's just a lightning bolt, right??

I really like the color combination. He asked for brown and blue, similar to this pair I had on the site. I didn't have the same brown in my dye stash, so I needed to order more. I love brown, and use it often in my dyes, so I splurged and got the bigger container of dye so it will last longer.

I still need to cut up the top I made last week and try it again. I have been having the darnedest time with necklines and knits lately. Last year I seemed to have had no problem with this, as I created several knit-fabric pieces. I don't know what the heck is different about it. I'm using the same fabrics. Either I am being a nit-picky perfectionist or I've lost some of my skills. I've bought a new foot for my machine and clear elastic, hoping to get better looking stitches.

This is the problem I am having. The seams are sewn together just fine, it's just the top-stitching that is getting wonky. It keeps stretching out as I sew it down. I used my new Teflon foot, but it still stretched.

See how the neckline got stretched out and rippled?

Not cool.

Come to think of it, I'm really not that thrilled with the top as it is. After I sewed it together, I tried to fit it on Franny. Franny is my dress-form, in case you have not met her. Well, the top was supposed be her size. But I could just BARELY get the thing on her. See, most knit fabrics have stretch in both directions. One direction usually stretches way more, but usually they both do.

Not with this fabric.

I got 3 beautiful Organic Cotton knit printed fabrics a few months ago and have not had the chance to use them up very much. So I use this gorgeous paisley type print for the bottom of the shirt. Only I sew it on--in the complete opposite direction of the stretch! That thing won't budge!

Here is the top before I go and hack it to death. . ... I don't know why these little spots are coming up on the soy when I photograph it, cuz it looks FINE when I look at it!!!

The whole bottom print is coming off. I'm going to do something a little more groovy with that part of it, hoping it will make the top way cuter. Cuz now it's just boring. And it needs pockets, but the pockets looked stupid on the solid piece of fabric. The 3D flowers on the shoulder add a nice touch, but I'm afraid they might look kind of lame, too. It almost whispers (not screams) old lady to me.

Those little red flowers? Well, I had no red jersey so I went to my closet and cut the bottom hem off a red Clutch t-shirt I had. OK, the shirt is from 2000, but I can still wear it, though! Hey--it just HAD to have red flowers!!!!

DH is off for another tour. This time is a whole month long. Woah! I'm gonna miss him so much. :( I'll be sittin' here at home my me lonesome if any of yas wanna come by!

Our last meal together was just plain comfort goodness. We got a new car on Tuesday, and we ended up getting home later than we had originally thought. So I picked up some stuff for a quick dinner and drove home in the new Jeep Liberty. I love making my own sauce, but this time I picked up a jar of organic vodka sauce and it was delish! I also really love the Alexa brand Garlic bread, so I picked up a double pack of that. Looks like I have a whole loaf all to myself during this month long tour DH is on. Darn! Feeling like I really needed to get some veggies in, I threw what I had in the oven to roast. Oh, how I love roasted veggies. And this recent bag of super-large organic carrots--freaking YUM, I tell ya. Only a mere 3 shiitake mushrooms to throw in, unfortunately.

I've learned to add the garlic in the middle of the cooking process so it doesn't burn. Also, fresh rosemary adds such a wonderful earthy intense flavor to it.
Maybe I should have wiped the plate down like they do in the restaurants for this photo, but you can just ignore that and look at the food instead.

I made it to the gym yesterday. I've been getting bored with it and have also been feeling quite lazy. It has been so cold here (well. . . it's winter!) and I just dread going out the door in the mornings. Even worse, is afterwards, going out to a cold car, in sweaty clothes, only to get out about 2 minutes later to go inside and get Subway sandwiches. OK, how could you NOT eat a Subway sandwich after you're starving from working out???? But yesterday I worked out, damnit. It had started snowing as I drove down the mountain, but I figured it wouldn't really amount to much. Well, I just BARELY made it back up the mountain! I had to kick inthe 4WD just to get up the hill! Darn! Gotta use the 4WD on the new wheels!!

Unfortunately I didn't get to see DH off as he left for tour yesterday afternoon. He made the decision to go ahead and leave early, because of the snow. It's a good thing he left when he did cuz we got about 3 inches here. And we're supposed to have freezing temps for the next few days/week. Perhaps Spring is further away than we had thought. I even saw some crocus's yesterday--I guess even they're confused about the weather!!!

At least the Jeep can make it. . . .
And what a crazy lookin' tree next to it, huh???

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Monday, February 18, 2008

Sweet Renditions

Ahhh. . . Valentines Day. A holiday made and marketed by Hallmark themselves. Everyone buys into it. A good excuse to eat chocolate, I guess, teeheehee! Tuesday evening I made DH and I chocolate chip cookies to eat on Valentines Day. Simple and sweet. I halved the Toll House recipe so we wouldn't get ourselves into too much trouble. We don't really do much in the way of celebrating for Valentines Day. It's a day just like any other. But why not use the day for an excuse to show off my recent love of fabric postcards.

Monday I devoted an entire day to creating Valentines for some of the loved ones in my life. Those little fabric postcards I've seen were something that always intriqued me. I just had to have a go at it. Late in the week earlier, I took out a ready-made postcard for the size and broke out some scraps. I had this great SUPER thick interfacing that I used for the backing of the diaper organizer wall-hanging I made for my neice. It was perfect to keep the postcard firm and sturdy for shipping. I researched some that were on Etsy, both for pricing and other helpful information. I realized that shipping these in a clear envelope would add a nice touch, protect them during shipment and provide a surface to stick the adhesive stamp to. I went ahead and ordered some that just came to me two days before posting this. On that note, I need to either order a smaller size, or make the next postcards to fit the envelopes I still have left.

I used my glue stick--a recent addition to my sewing room. I had run out of the fusible web I usually use on my applique work some time ago and had not the chance to get to a store to get more. The glue stick provided the same results as the fusible web, but with a less thick, less, stiff surface to stitch upon. I think this works both positively and negatively. On the positive note, the end result is a much softer overall feel, and certainly makes sewing through it a lot easier, especially with layered applique work. On the other hand, it is a much sharper surface to sew around, which can make turning corners and going around curves a bit different to deal with. I also think it's a matter of getting used to.

So I did a simple applique of a tree and different skyline colors. I decided to keep the satin stitching light yet intentional.

These postcards will lend a more handmade look, with less attention to perfection. As an artist, sometimes it is difficult to step away from what is safe. We often do things because we know someone liked what we did before and certainly someone else will like it too. It is hard to step outside of the box to make things that may not be perceived as perfection. I guess not all of use are looking for symetrical, planned-out appearances.

The next postcards were a fun collection of bits of fabrics from all throughout my stashes. I'll hold off on showing you the pics until I decide what will become of them. One of my favorite quilt shops in Hagerstown MD has these wonderful little grab bags. They are only three bucks and you just never know what you'll find in there. I was so happy with the first two I bought. One had quite large pieces that were actually big enough to do good size drawstring re-usable gift bags las fall and during the holiday months. The other had some of the cute little bits that I used in a the cat postcards. The last two grab bags I bought weren't quite the same. One I gifted to my friend Danielle had a decent amount of small to medium size pieces. But mine kind of sucked. I got nothing but strips. Strips no larger than 2.5" wide. Some are selvage to selvage which would be nice if it was already washed and dried and pressed up nicely.

But it's not.

I know many of you reading this will agree with me how much of a pain in the bum frayed fabric is after washing and drying it just on normal yardage. So try to imagine 1- 1 1/2 yards of nothing but strips. . . . that will become nothing but shredded rubbish when it's all said and done. I decided it's not worth even doing anything with. Another friend of mine is making rugs with strips of fabric and this will be perfect for her.

Okay, back to the Valentines. I'm getting a little side-tracked here!!! The Valentines were fun because I was able to use reds, pinks, and some of my fabrics with hearts or other love-ey themes to them. It was so much fun! I ran out of that thick interfacing so I used the one I bought for wallets. I just triped up the layers and it was just as good. I found a great place online for a back to the postcards, so I began printing out and using paper ones instead of the original white muslin for the backs of the postcards.

I had a lot of fun quilting them. I dropped the feed dogs on my machine and just went to town. I let the fabrics speak for themselves, and, in other cases, I let myself get a little bit carried away with the themes. I hope you enjoy them too. I'm going to perfect the edging a bit more (some of the knots I tied off the zig-zag stitching have come undone--I shall add a drop of fray-chek next time honies!!!). After I'm a bit more happy with the results, I'll add them to etsy. I might put some of the first ones on etsy as a low introductory price or something catchy. I just need to get some sales in there!!!

On Friday, I finally got to see my wonderful friend Amy, and I finally got to make and enjoy some long-awaited homemade pizza I have been craving. It's been a while since I made any, and I had all the ingredients I'd need. I made a delicious sauce and some just okay dough. I wasn't really pleased with the texture of the dough--kind of boring. But the sauce and toppings were delish! Sliced shiitake mushrooms and black olives on one, just cheese on the other. Yum!!!

I also made some freaking YUMMY mini egg rolls for the appetizer. I had all the ingredients for it, and also had some handy-dandy wonton wrappers so I just threw some stuff together and made my own recipe. Some shredded cabbage and carrots, diced onion, garlic and shiitake mushrooms, and some rough chopped shrimp, too. I seasoned it up with pepper, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and some sesame oil. I let it cool down for a bit, then added an egg white before rolling them into little eggrolls. I used a little bit of cornstarch and water as a sealant. Haha--sealant for a food item!!! Silly!!!!

Thanks to Amy for the WONDERFUL photography, folks. Just ask me for her information if you'd like. She's a pretty busy woman, but I bet if you ask her REAL nice, she'll take pictures for you, too. For a small fee. =) Pin It

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Third time's thecharm?

I just love the Found website. A friend of mine had told me about it a while back and I'm not sure why I've passed it up for so long. I find it very interesting--all the little bits of notes and photos found here and there. I've always enjoyed reading people's grocery lists when I find them in the supermarket. And peeking into those shopping carts of familiar faces. The amount of garbage the people eat around here is just ridiculous.

But anywhoo, , , back to Found magazine. I found this one particularly funny. The fact that this girl Becca has the balls to respond back to the thief so matter-of-factly is the icing on the cake.

Poor Becca. I hope she gets a new bike soon.

I've been feeling really crafty lately. I know--like that's anything unusual around here. But this week I've been wanting to create more crafty-type things instead of clothing. I think a great source of inspiration of these little things has been greatly influenced by all these friggen sewing blogs I've been reading lately. There is a great BIG LIST of sewing blogs that I've been searching thru lately. This morning I managed to make it to the end of the list, making sure to bookmark the good ones. I like pictures, what can I say. I'm too lazy to read thru the posts if there isn't any pics. So I shall make a concerted effort to show ya'll plenty of pics!

Okay, so back to the crafti-ness. I also want to mention that you, Kelly, have also inspired me to make more than just clothing over here. Thanks sweetie!

Right, so craft talk it is. . .. I woke up Wednesday with the urge to make cupcakes. Not the delicious fattening kind, but something of the fabric sort. I went to work right away. I wanted sprinkles on them. So I took several different color threads and did some satin stitching directly onto some scrap pink hemp. Then I cut a trapezoid shape out of some brown corduroy for the bottom. A little math to figure out the circle, and the damn thing still didn't line up as I stitched. I finally got it together, but it doesn't really look like a cupcake. Cute, but not a cupcake.

Back to the drawing board.

The bottom needs to be a half-circle or arch type thing so it doesn't look wonky on the sides. And it needs interfacing to stand up nice and tall. Hubby says, babe, it needs a muffin-top. Finally, an occasion where a muffin-top is indeed necessary and not just an excuse to wear too-tight jeans. A gathered circle should do the trick.

So I go to work. More math, more errors, but joy all along. I don't know what has come over me, but I just want cupcakes.

The second one is looking better. A hostess rip-off with the swirly chocolate icing. See, I'm not one to do muslin mock-ups. Cuz I figure if it works out, why not make it cute and useful instead of just a boring white thing?? Ya did all that work anyways. ..

Hmmm. . . . still needs work. The bottom isn't standing out strait like I thought it would. Time for thicker interfacing, the kind I bought for the wallets. Oh yeah, that stuff is awesome. Interfacing, people. Learn it. Use it.

Third time's a charm??

See how the sides of the bottom part stick up nice and tall. THAT is what a real cupcake does. Doesn't look all round and stupid like in the first one I made.

So I put it up on etsy and we'll see what happens. I was just too excited about it.

I also began cutting out a wrap skirt on Wednesday, too. Of course, I screwed up on the math on that one, too, so I had to bust out the other piece of the brilliant fabric to make another half circle. This was the fabric I spoke about previously that I had set aside for myself for the lining of a jacket/coat I plan on making for myself. There's still plenty left, thank goodness, because I NEED that fabric on my back, in my possession, for the rest of my life somehow.

You just don't understand how important the fabric is until you see it.

Okay, now that you understand what I'm talking about, we can go on. Cutting the two half-circles was kind of a challange. Forcing me to clean up my kitchen, mopping the floor as it would serve as the cutting table for such a large piece. This fabric is 50" wide. A lot to deal with. I just kind of used my arms as a big compass, holding my left hand at the center mark of the fabric.

So it's all cut out now, and I need to go and get some sort of dark brown for the trim and waistband. I'll get into that probably next week, as the next large project in the kitchen studio will be batik. I've already started on the next batch today, filling in the wax onto the sketched-out designs onto some t-shirts. I'll mix and dye tomorrow afternoon/night and see the results Monday after I boil them out. I'm excited--it's the first batch of batiks I've done this year.

I have so much more to write about. But this is getting pretty absurd, this long post. So I shall leave you with that. And just know that savory mushrooms and send-ables are on their way the next posting. . .

Love you girls. . . Pin It

Friday, February 8, 2008

BBQ Tofu Recipe

BBQ Tofu Recipe

You need to start off with some good tofu. Don't get the kind at your regular grocery store as, often, it's too soft.

Okay, so slice your block of tofu into 1/2/-3/4" slabs--you'll get 5-6, depending on the size of your tofu cake.

Grab yourself another cutting board or baking pan and a kitchen towel and fold it in thirds. Put two paper towels down, one side on top of the kitchen towel. Arrange the pressed tofu along the length of it. Fold the paper towel back over the tofu, then the fold the kitchen towel back onto it.

Put the other cutting board on top of the towel, and load it up with something heavy. I used canned food.

Let this press for at least 15 minutes, or up to a couple of hours.

Prepare the marinade.

4 Tbsp soy sauce
1-2 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup natural peanut butter (can be crunchy or smooth)
vegetable stock
black pepper

Whisk all these ingredients together, using enough veggie stock to make a nice consistency good enough for covering the tofu. I'd say about 1/4 cup--don't use too much more.

After the tofu has pressed, fold back the towels, then flip it out onto the cutting board.

Cut the tofu slabs into finger-sizes.

Pour half the marinade into a container. Place the tofu into it, and pour more marinade over it, fitting the pieces in as best you can.

Marinate overnight.

Prepare the pan with non-stick cooking spray or spread olive oil with brush or your fingers. Set aside.

Turn the oven on to 350 degrees. Pull the tofu out of the marinade and arrange onto the cooking pan.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until bottom is golden. Turn over. Bake 20 minutes more.

Prepare sauce.
1/2 cup of your favorite bbq sauce
2 Tbsp ketchup
1 Tbsp mustard
Garlic Salt

Mix together and brush the tofu after it's baked.

Turn them over and brush again. Bake for 5 minutes more.

Here they are! ( mine are a bit overcooked because I was stitchin at the same time!!!
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