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Thursday, May 31, 2012

The 'City Lights' Reversible Dress

Oh if only this week's challenge would be taking place in a few weeks when I would be in the city of the inspiration! But it's ok, I was still ready to take on the task of being inspired by Las Vegas.

Vegas is just a short plane ride from the Bay Area so I've had many a trips there. A lot when I was a kid (I know, not exactly a family destination, but they did try for a while), more in my 20's, and now we try to make it out there at least once a year or so.  Our annual trip is coming up, so we can hopefully see some Cirque du Soleil shows, enjoy some ice cream from Serendipity, and of course, people watching.

I purchased the fabric used in this challenge back during my first visit to Britex, the uber (expensive) fabric store in San Francisco.  This fabric was on sale in their remnants section, and for as much as I liked the busy print, I haven't been able to find the right inspiration for it.  But it was the first idea that popped into my mind when I heard Vegas.  It's a pink and green print on a black background.  Busy and bright, like the Las Vegas strip at night.

I had enough fabric to make the new Sewaholic Cambie dress, which would be the perfect dress for a day of shopping and people watching in Vegas.  Oh but the nightlife in Vegas is what it's all about!  Early on in the assembly of this dress I realized that the black fabric I was using for the full lining, would be the perfect LBD.  And wouldn't it be great if this dress could translate from day to night?  Now, I don't know if I would actually wear it all day and then turn it around for the evening (especially in Vegas humidity), but I do like having options.

The Facts

Fabric: 3.5 yards of cotton print on sale at Britex $20, black Kona cotton on sale $10
Pattern: Sewaholic Cambie $18
Year: Contemporary
Notions: Invisible zipper $2
Time to complete: 5 hours
First worn: Out and about after a day at the beach
Wear again? Oh yes!
Total cost: $50

Aside from the fact that you essentially make two dresses, this was about my usual 5 hours of sewing time.  I had to be a bit more careful when it came to attaching the lining and hemming the dress, to make sure that it could be worn inside and out.

What I Watched: More Scrubs (yay, Netflix!) and Season 2 of Flight of the Concords

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Tartan Hearts Jewelry Giveaway Reminder

Just a reminder that the Tartan Hearts Jewelry giveaway ends this Friday.  You still have time for up to two entries to win an item of your choice from Tartan Hearts!  For more details on the giveaway, and the official entry post, please visit the original giveaway posting.

Primrose Polish Ring

Monday, May 28, 2012

Me Made May: Days 19-24

It's been a week.

Sewing has been keeping my spirits up and I have another creation to share later this week, but there's just still been a lot going on.  It's alright, I'm dealing with it, and just trying to make time to be crafty.

I did have some exciting moments though! I got my new/first serger in the mail!  The picture is from it being literally unpacked from the box, sitting on the floor, while I tried to figure out where I was going to put it.  I was totally intimidated by it, but after watching some YouTube videos, I was not only able to use it with the default threads, but also rethread it with my own.  I'm still so impressed with how fast it is! And efficient! I actually can't wait to make more garments because of it, and to go back and look at some of my other (messier) pieces and see if I can clean them up.

Anyways, here's what I wore this week:

Day 19
What I Wore: My new Ceylon
What I Did: We were godparents to my nephew so we went to the ceremony then to lunch with the family

Day 20
What I Wore: Plaid circle skirt with a store-bought sweater
What I Did: Work! Was in training all day so I just needed to be comfy

Day 21
What I Did: More work

Day 22
What I Wore: My Main Squeezebox Outfit
What I Did: Last day of training. Woohoo!

Day 23
What I Wore: Tree of Life dress
What I Did: Yeah, it was a really stressful day. I literally bolted out the door so took just a second to snap my photo. Was not ready for a smiley-face at the time.

Day 24
What I Wore: My first Rooibos
What I Did: Worked from home.  I think I actually wore sweats during the day then changed into this in the afternoon.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Sweet Treats Saturday: Alfajores

To be completely honest, I'd never heard of Alfajores until I saw this recipe come up on Brown Eyed Baker.  But after chatting with some friends who had and really imagining the concept... shortbread cookies with dulce de leche filling sandwiched in-between... well, why wouldn't I want to try them?

These cookies are so easy to make.  They only use four common ingredients and the dulce de leche filling.  You can buy the filling already made in a can - commonly found in the baking section of your grocery store.  Or if you're like me and don't have any on hand (and are too lazy to run out to the store to get it) you can make it yourself.  In actuality, it's easy to make, just very time consuming.  It really is worth it to get the ready made product but my closest grocery store doesn't stock it and I didn't feel like driving the extra 15 minutes to go to a different store.  I know, lame excuse, but it was good practice.

This recipe is very easy to make and has a great flavor.  The shortbread cookies aren't too sweet, so paired with the dulce de leche filling it's a wonderful combination.

Also, as I've mentioned, I don't have a large food processor so I use a handy pastry blender for recipes like this.  It seems to work fine, just make sure you blend everything to the consistency as stated in the directions (e.g. coarse meal).  Also, I don't have a round cookie cutter. I know, weird. I keep meaning to pick one up but I forget every time. So I just used other household goods like glassware with a small mouth opening (champagne glass or juice glass).

Recipe from Brown Eyed Baker, modified for no food processor
Makes approximately 18 sandwich cookies depending on size
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4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp powdered sugar, plus extra for dusting
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter (basically 3 sticks), chilled and cut into pieces
1/2 cup water

1. Sift together flour and powdered sugar.  I did the next part by hand with a pastry blender but the original recipe recommends a food processor (again, I don't have one big enough for these quantities, but I tried to make do with what I had).  Blend together the flour and sugar mixture with the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal.  Pour in the water in a slow stream and mix until the dough comes together, about 20 seconds. Split dough in half and mold each into a flat disk. Wrap in saran wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

3. On a well-floured surface, roll out one disk of dough to under a 1/4 inch of thickness.  Using a 2-inch round cookie cutter (or in my case, the mouth of a champagne flute), cut out rounds from the dough and transfer to prepared baking sheet.  Repeat with other disk of dough.  Gather up scraps from the batches and roll out one more time to cut out remaining dough.

4.  Bake until lightly golden, about 15 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through baking.  Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

5.  Spread 1 to 2 teaspoons of dulce de leche on the bottom of half of the cookies.  Top with the remaining cookies.  Dust with powdered sugar to finish.  It's best to eat the finished cookies on the same day that they're assembled.

Note: If you do not have dulce de leche you can make it yourself by taking a can of sweetened, condensed milk and placing it in a heat proof bowl.  Make a double boiler by placing into a pan with simmering water.  Cover the top bowl and cook, stirring ever 15 minutes or so for about an hour and a half - until the milk is thick and amber in color.  Remove from heat and beat with a wooden spoon to smooth it out. Transfer to a clean bowl and refrigerate until cool.

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Friday, May 25, 2012

Giveaway! Tartan Hearts Jewelry

I'm excited to offer you this awesome giveaway!

Primrose Pendant
Jess from Tartan Hearts Jewelry made the Primrose necklace that I wore earlier this week with my new Ceylon. Well, she is also offering one piece of your choosing to my lovely readers!

Wallis Warfield Spencer Simpson Pendant
You have two opportunities to enter.

1.  The first is to be a follower of this blog, either via Google Friend Connect or on Facebook.  Then, leave a comment on this post with your favorite item from the Tartan Hearts etsy shop.
2.  For the second entry, you can 'like' Tartan Hearts on Facebook.  Then come back here and leave another comment saying that you liked it.

Tardis Hidden Swimming Pool Pendant
To get the two entries, you need to leave two separate comments.

Faux Bois Earrings
So go ahead and pick your favorite piece!  The giveaway is open for one week - it will close next Friday, June 1st, at midnight, Pacific Time.  This giveaway is only open to readers in US and Canada, but don't worry global friends, I will have another giveaway open to all, very soon!

Hottt Chocolate Ring

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The 'Primrose Polka Dot' Dress

I wasn't sure if I was going to be participating in the Sew Weekly challenge this week until about Wednesday.  I'd been trying to get caught up on some random sewing projects that I've had calling to me for a while now and felt like I'd lost my sewing mojo.  I hadn't gone into my sewing room and have had the same blouse laying on the cutting table for two weeks.  I don't know what it is... the idea of spending 4-6 hours on finished a garment? Maybe. Work has also been really crazy which has made me want to just veg when the day is done.  I do have some plans to improve my sewing time (more on that soon), but what ended up inspiring me was just a good old-fashioned sale.

My local yarn and fabric store had recently converted to online only, and now the owner is moving elsewhere in California.  This meant a massive sale.  Well, it first started out at 30%, but while I was tempted, the missing sewing mojo wouldn't let me be phased. Until she announced 50%. Let the web shopping begin!  I picked up a couple of prints, and some Kona solids, but it was just enough to inspire me to get me back into the sewing room.  I had a different garment planned, but then Mena posted some 40's inspiration pictures for this week's theme.  I loved all of the fun prints, and while I'm not crazy about some of the 40's dress features, I started thinking about how Colette's Ceylon dress definitely has a 40's vibe about it.  And I just happened to order some grey and pink polka dot fabric that could totally fit into the theme.  And there you have it! I practically ran to the sewing room to get started.

Even more exciting, my good friend Jess from Tartan Hearts Jewelry sent me a necklace that would go perfectly with this dress (and a few of my other upcoming projects).  The piece is one of my favorites that she carries - the Primrose necklace on a silver chain.  I love the color of the pink and the Hunger Games inspiration.  And the best part? She's going to be doing a giveaway for my lovely readers! So stay tuned for that announcement, coming this Friday!

The Facts

Fabric: 3.5 yards Michael Miller Dumb Dot cotton in dark grey with pink polka dots $20
Pattern: Colette Ceylon, previously made $0
Year: Contemporary
Notions: 16 buttons $4, bias tape $2
Time to complete: Approx. 6 hours
First worn: To my nephew's baptism
Wear again? Yes! Love it!
Total cost: $26

I've already made this dress before, but it was one of my earlier creations.  It's pretty easy to put together but even having made it before, I had to read over some steps a few times.  I even went back to my original dress to see how I did it and realized I had made a few mistakes back then.  It still fits great, but it's interesting to see how your skills (and hairstyles) change over the course of a year.

There was one slight mishap in making the dress, but it had a happy ending:

So, once the fabric came in the mail, I had the majority of the supplies for the dress.  On Saturday morning, I ran out to my local JoAnn's to pick up some buttons, knowing I needed 16. For some reason the 16 transformed itself into 14 in my head and I only picked up 3 packs of 5 buttons.  While completing my dress on Saturday evening, I broke one of the buttons on my machine. Oops. Good thing I only needed 14. But wait! I needed 16! And I'm wearing this dress tomorrow!  I looked at the clock and saw that it was 8:40.  Could I get to JoAnn's before they closed at 9?  Let's find out!  The hubby and I raced over there making it in record time.  At 8:50 I ran into the store and picked up on $1 pack of buttons.  Mission accomplished!  I was able to finish my dress in time for the baptism, without showing too much skin in Church from lack of buttons.

And there you have it!  My 40's inspired dress.  I seem to have a thing with polka dots, but I love the dark grey fabric and the fact that the dots themselves are such a light pink that it's a nice surprise when you realize the hint of color.  And I love that I have the perfect necklace to go with it!  Check in later this week for the Tartan Hearts Jewelry giveaway!

What I Watched: Finished off the last of the Scrubs that we own (I think Season 7?) and started rewatching Flight of the Concords, Season 1.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Me Made May: Days 13-18

Ugh, this past week was brutal.  Physically and emotionally draining.  Work was super busy - I've got a lot going on right now.  Also, I'm trying to win a workout contest at my local fitness studio (the Dailey Method) so I've been going pretty much every day, or doubling up classes when I know I'll have to miss a day later in the week.  The good news is, I'm in the lead!  Then family stuff. Well, don't get me started.  The hubby and I were already dealing with emotional stuff and now this... Everything happens in 3's right? I'm not even sure what number we're on.  Anyways, enough moping.  I managed to get every MMM day in, though one was a repeat, and a pretty weak one at that.  I did get some sewing done which helped me to destress a little bit. But you'll get to see that outfit later this week, and as part of next week's MMM review!

Day 13
What I Did: Went to a friends house to watch Sense and Sensibility and have a knitting party.  I brought my crochet blanket so that I could make some progress on it.

Day 14
What I Wore: Pajama Party Pants
What I Did: Worked from home.  Needed comfy pants to get through the long day.

Day 15
What I Did: Workety, work, work, work!

Day 16
What I Wore: Deja vu? Pajama Party Pants
What I Did: I worked from home in workout clothes but ended up just wearing my pj pants again in the evening.  I didn't wear the same top - the picture is just a repeat from the other day.

Day 17
What I Wore: Plaid Summer Dress. Yup, I wear this a lot.
What I Did: Went into the office but didn't manage to get a picture until I was home at the end of the day.

Day 18
What I Wore: Summer Sails Dress
What I Did: The hubby and I went out to a casual dinner in our local downtown area.  The weather was beautiful and we just wanted to relax after a draining week.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Savory Sunday: Blackberry Goat Cheese Tart

Day two of the weekend of tarts! This time we're going savory with a hint of sweet.  It's a goat cheese tart topped with blackberries and a bit of honey.  This would be perfect for a brunch or tea.  Not sure about goat cheese? The tart basically tastes like a mild cheesecake with a perfect sweetness added from the berries and honey.

Again, still working with my mini-prep food processor, so I used my stand mixer.  I think you could also use a hand mixer to get the same results, but make sure your ingredients are at room temperature.

One tool you will need is a tart pan with a removable bottom.  I picked up a 9" round tart pan that fit the ingredients perfectly.  There was a little leftover dough that could be used for a mini tart or two, but you will need additional filling if you decide to use it.

Blackberry Goat Cheese Tart
Recipe from Blondies Cakes
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Ingredients for the crust:
1 cup all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
7 tbsp butter, room temperature
3 oz cream cheese, room temperature

Ingredients for the filling:
6 oz goat cheese
4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
2 eggs
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp fresh thyme
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Ingredients for the topping:
approx. 12 oz blackberries
2 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp thyme leaves

Directions for the crust:
1. Combine all crust ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix until the dough is well blended.  Turn out onto saran wrap and form into a flat disk.  Wrap up and refrigerate for a couple of hours so that the dough firms up enough to roll out properly.

2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Place dough disk onto a floured surface.  Roll out using short strokes from the center outward until the dough is a couple of inches larger than your tart pan (about a 12" circle for 9.5" tart pan).  You should not need to grease your tart pan.  Gently place the dough into the tart pan.  The easiest way that I found to transfer the dough was to roll it onto my rolling pin and then unroll it over the pan. Gentle ease the dough into the pan filling out the edges and lightly pressing into the ridges.  Remove the extra trim from the sides of the pan - you can use them for additional tarts or toss it. I rolled the pin over the top of the sides to make it easy to peel the top right off.  Place the dough into the freezer while you prepare the filling.

Directions for the filling:
1. Combine the filling ingredients into bowl and beat until the mixture is smooth and blended.  Pour into the pan, smooth the top and bake for 25 to 35 minutes.  Once the top is puffy and golden, remove from the oven and allow to cool.

2.  Refrigerate the tart to cool completely, then top with the berries.  Drizzle honey over the top and sprinkle with thyme leaves.

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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Sweet Treats Saturday: Salted Chocolate Tart

This weekend, I give you... tarts!

I was in the mood to try something new and I was meeting up with some girlfriends for a knitting afternoon.  I volunteered to make dessert... but after seeing a goat cheese and apricot tart at my local gourmet deli, I decided I wanted to try my hand at a savory tart myself.  Mainly because their version was $20, but also because I had never worked with tarts before.  This started a whole theme and I had to do a bit of shopping.

I found dozens of recipes of both the sweet and savory variety but settled on one of each.  Tomorrow, stick around for a blackberry and goat cheese tart.  For now, I leave you with the ultimate chocolate treat. If you're a sucker for dark chocolate, then make this tart.

To make tarts, you need... a tart pan.  Seems obvious, but there are some things that make these extremely useful.  The main selling point is the removable bottom.  This makes it so easy to pop the tart out of the pan.  You could also use this pan to make quiche.  There you go - sold!  Well, after you check out these two recipes, hopefully you will be too.  I made both of these tarts in one night, and finished them off the following morning (final toppings, decoration, etc).  You could do it all at once, but it left me the right amount of time to cool everything completely before I moved on to next steps.

Alright, enough chit chat - on to the recipe!

Salted Chocolate Tart
Recipe from My Recipes
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Ingredients for the crust:
6 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
5 large egg yolks

Ingredients for the filling:
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup coffee
4 large eggs

Ingredients for the topping:
4 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
2 tbsp light corn syrup
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
sea salt for sprinkling

Directions for the crust:
1. In a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until smooth.  In a separate bowl, sift together the flour and cocoa powder, then add to the butter mixture and mix until combined.  Add yolks and mix on low speed just until dough comes together.  Form the dough into a flat disk and wrap in saran wrap.  Chill for at least one hour or up to 3 days.

2.  After chilled, unwrap the dough and place on a floured surface.  With short strokes from the center outward, roll out the dough until a 12" circle is formed.  Transfer the dough to the tart pan - this may be easier if you roll the dough onto your rolling pin and unroll it onto the tart pan.  Gently press the dough into the pan and trim the edges so that it doesn't overhang from the edges.  Place a piece of parchment paper in the pan and fill with pie weights or dried beans.  Place in the fridge for 30 minutes.

3.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Once the crust is chilled, bake for 10 minutes.  Then, remove the parchment and beans and return to the oven until the crust looks dry - approx. 5 minutes.  Remove and set on a rack to cool slightly.

Directions for the filling:
1. Put the chopped chocolate in a medium-size heatproof bowl.  In a medium saucepan, combine butter, sugar and coffee. Bring to a boil over medium heat.  Pour the hot mixture over the chocolate and let it sit for 3 to 4 minutes, then gently stir until smooth.  Break eggs into a large bowl and slowly pour into the warm chocolate mixture, stirring constantly until incorporated.

2.  Pour the warm filling into the warm tart crust.  Bake until the filling has risen slightly, appears dry on the surface and doesn't jiggle when shaken slightly.  This will be between 10 and 15 minutes.  Set on a rack to cool completely.

Directions for the topping:
1.  Put the chopped chocolate and corn syrup into a medium-size heatproof bowl.  In a small saucepan, heat the cream to boiling, then pour over the chocolate.  Add the butter and stir slowly to reduce bubbles. Stir until smooth.

2.  Pour the glaze onto the center of the tart and gently push to the edges.  Let sit at least 15 minutes to set before slicing.  Sprinkle with sea salt. Enjoy!

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Friday, May 18, 2012

Featured Friend: Madalynne

I'm so excited to share this Featured Friend with you!  The month of May is very special indeed. This month, the lovely Madalynne reached out to me to tell me what she enjoyed my blog.  The sweetest gesture ever but even more coincidental because I had just stumbled across hers in recent weeks and was swooning over her gorgeous photos and wonderful writing style.  Don't you love when you find new blogs that quickly become your favorite?

In putting together this month's feature, Maddie and I swapped quite a few emails finding we have quite a bit in common.  I love to shop for vintage-inspired clothing (or at least drool over the unattainable), and she works at corporate for the store that is number one in my Pinterest/drool-worthy list.  Seriously, my husband knows when I say 'Mecca' that we could only be shopping at one store.  She went to SCAD, one of my little brother's is getting ready to graduate from there and half of my family lives in Savannah (it's where the hubby and I got married). So I definitely have a love for that area.  Ok, well maybe it's not stuff that's totally in common, but we definitely had so much to chat about!

And after reading her interview, I was so excited to learn more about her upcoming projects.  I hope you will be too, because it can only mean more sewing projects for the independent pattern-maker obsessed.  So please, read on, and check out her links at the bottom.

Happy Friday everyone!

What inspires you?

It’s not about what inspires me because everything sparks my mind into imagining and creating. It’s more about when I’m inspired. I find that there are certain times when my mind is creative beyond imagination and there are certain times when my mind is blocked from dreaming up anything. 

I’m most inspired in the morning. Way before the majority of the world wakes up, I can create and create and create forever and once forever is over, I could create some more. Thoughts come from every which way and each grow off each other. I think about my current projects, future projects, what I can do better, what I have done wrong, etc. You name it, I think of it. Although I carry a notebook with me almost every place I go, I make sure to keep it with me in the morning so I can record all my thoughts, even if that means bringing it to the gym.

I find that I am least inspired midday. My antsy and nervous side comes out around 10:00 a.m. when I realize what I have to accomplish for the day and usually subsides around 5:00 p.m. when I wrap up my daily workload and have about 1 thing left on my to-do list. During this window of time, I couldn't create for the life of me. My mind is focused on too many other chores and tasks and I'm not dreaming up my next creation. 

What is your craft space like?

I’d like to say that I have a room dedicated to sewing, where all my supplies are stored and where all my projects are completed, but I don’t. Sewing has taken over my entire apartment and I like it that way. I live in a one bedroom apartment in Philadelphia, so space is tight. My main piece in my "craft space" is a book shelf in my living room with loads upon loads of books stuffed and crammed into the shelves. The World of Fashion, The Complete Guide to Sewing, 9 Heads, The Spec Manual, Modern Art, Hamlet, Breakfast at Tiffany's, Great American Cars, A Little Book of Western Verse, The Creative Habit, Longfellow, as well as so many other books here fill each and every cubicle. Although I love my book shelf for its obvious purpose of storing books, it’s the table that extends out from it that really makes me love this piece. On most days, my computer sits on the table but when I start crafting, sewing, or pattern making, I usually remove it and use the for laying out my patterns, measuring garments, or hand sewing.  It’s longer than most tables which makes it the perfect crafting accessory, actually the perfect crafting necessity.

Also in my craft space is the usual - a Juki DDL 5500 and a mannequin. All of my sewing supplies and tools are stored in my closet, in my kitchen cabinets (who needs food?), and sometimes, in my oven (along with my shoes).

My other craft space is my bedroom. I use it as sort of a photo-op area. It’s where I take all the pretty pictures of my pretty garments.

Let us in on your stash... what is coming, what's in progress, what are you stumped with?

I’m a planner so I have a lot of projects in the works. First up is a matching top and short ensemble. I was inspired by woman's outfitting during the 1950s, particularly how women looked Jackie-O on a daily basis. Dresses, skirts, boleros, and tops matched and were only made with the finest cottons, tweeds, and brocades. So I decided to do a modern take on this with a simple top and a high-waisted short. This project is extra exciting because after I make the pattern, which will be drafted/draped using my mannequin, I plan to grade the pattern to all sizes and sell it online so that others can create the look too (yay!). But there’s more to this project. After I make and grade the pattern for this top, I will manipulate it to create another top that ties in the front or the back into a bow. This top can be sleeved or sleeveless – the sleeve pattern can be sewn onto the first top or the second top. All three pieces - the first and second top and the short - were designed to go with each other. 

What is your favorite craft to work with?

I have many crafts and each provides me a break from the other and each prevents me from getting burned out with one craft. Of course, sewing is my favorite craft but pattern making, blogging, and scrapbooking are my other crafts. Even though I could waste an entire day, usually Sunday, sewing, I couldn’t do it seven days a week. So when I get tired of sewing, I pattern make, and when I get tired of pattern making, I blog, and when I get tired of blogging, I scrapbook. Jumping from one craft refreshes my mind so that when I go back to one particular craft, I’m ready and excited to get back to it.

What is your favorite thing that you've created so far?

My most priced sewing creation is nothing special, it wasn’t even an intricate piece to sew. It’s what I like to call a dress-up everyday piece. It’s a circle skirt with pleated ruffle exposed at the bottom. The skirt was made of a very lightweight wool and the pleated ruffles were a silk twill (the pleated ruffles were attached to a silk lining). It hits right above the knee, not too short or too long, and can be worn with a tank top, cami, blouse, sweater, heels, or flats. I made it four years ago and I’m still head over heels in love with it.

Where can I read more? 

I have an Etsy shop but until I finish the project I just described, nothing is being sold yet. Not to worry though, you can find me on Facebook! If you “like” me, I can pest you with all my status updates, only good ones of course.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Me Made May: Day 7-12

On to the next 6 days of Me Made May!

It's not exactly hard, but I do lack creativity in my wardrobe which becomes extremely evident during these self-made months.  Well, we're almost halfway there!

Day 7
What I Wore: It was a beautiful day outside. Wore my Jumping in Puddles dress.
What I Did: Worked from home, dance class in the evening. Wore workout clothes to that.

Day 8
What I Wore: Colette Clovers and my You've Got Me Collared blouse.
What I Did: Worked.

Day 9
What I Wore: My Modern Garden Party dress. I wore a grey sweater with it during the day.
What I Did: Worked during the day then the sewing meet up in the evening!

Day 10
What I Wore: Colette Ginger and my Peter Pan Polka Dots blouse
What I Did: Went into the office. Busy bee.

Day 11
What I Wore: My first Parfait dress.  Still a favorite.
What I Did: Wore it after a long day of work. Relaxed in the backyard with some BBQ and a glass of wine.

Day 12
What I Wore: My Flowers in Paradise Lonsdale dress.
What I Did: In the morning, the hubby and I participated in the local 5k then I went to workout at the Dailey Method.  Afterwards I pretty much spent my day wearing this dress while enjoying the sunshine.

Time to plan for another week!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Sweet Treats Saturday: Salted Caramel Ice Cream

You know those tubs of ice cream you keep around for those days that never end, or chick-flick nights?  This delicious ice cream would be perfect cradled in your lap while you dab your eyes with a tissue, while re-watching The Notebook.  This ice cream is so yummy and decadent.  I can't compare it to the recent almond praline ice cream as they just don't relate, but if you're a sucker for sea salt and caramel - make this.

Now, if you're afraid of working with sugar, you could omit the candied caramel praline.  I kept it in but could see this recipe still being perfect without it.  My hubby has a fear of anything caramel-like in texture because of his sensitive teeth so that would be a perfect instance to remove it.  In my case... well darn, I guess I can't share. :)

I have to throw in another plug for Brown Eyed Baker.  Sometimes I have to force myself not to make every recipe from her site, just to add variety to the blog, but really, her recipes are incredible.  If you're not already signed up to her feed, I highly recommend it.

Salted Caramel Ice Cream
Recipe from Brown Eyed Baker 
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Ingredients for the caramel (mix-in):
½ cup granulated sugar
¾ teaspoon sea salt, such as fleur de del

Ingredients for the ice cream custard:
2 cups whole milk, divided
1½ cups granulated sugar
4 tablespoons salted butter
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 cup heavy cream
5 egg yolks
¾ teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions for the caramel praline:
 1. To make the caramel praline, spread the ½ cup of sugar in an even layer in a medium-sized, heavy duty saucepan. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or brush it sparingly with unflavored oil.

2. Heat the sugar over medium heat until the edges begin to melt. Use a heatproof utensil to gently stir the liquefied sugar from the bottom and edges towards the center, stirring, until all the sugar is dissolved. (Or most of it—there may be some lumps, which will melt later.) Continue to cook, stirring infrequently, until the caramel starts smoking and begins to smell like it’s just about to burn. It won’t take long.

3. Without hesitation, sprinkle in the ¾ teaspoon salt without stirring, then pour the caramel onto the prepared baking sheet and lift up the baking sheet immediately, tilting and swirling it almost vertically to encourage the caramel to form as thin a layer as possible. Set aside to harden and cool.

Directions for the ice cream:
1. To make the ice cream, make an ice bath by filling a large bowl about a third full with ice cubes and adding a cup or so of water so they’re floating. Nest a smaller metal bowl (at least 2 quarts) over the ice, pour 1 cup of the milk into the inner bowl, and rest a mesh strainer on top of it.

2. Spread 1½ cups sugar in the saucepan in an even layer. Cook over medium heat until caramelized, using the same method described in Step #2.

3. Once caramelized, remove from heat and stir in the butter and salt, until butter is melted, then gradually whisk in the cream, stirring as you go. The caramel may harden and seize, but return it to the heat and continue to stir over low heat until any hard caramel is melted. Stir in the remaining 1 cup of the milk.

4. Whisk the yolks in a small bowl and gradually pour some of the warm caramel mixture over the yolks, whisking constantly. Scrape the warmed yolks back into the saucepan and cook the custard using a heatproof utensil, stirring constantly (scraping the bottom as you stir) until the mixture thickens. If using an instant-read thermometer, it should read 160-170 F.

5. Pour the custard through the strainer into the milk set over the ice bath, add the vanilla, then stir frequently until the mixture is cooled down. Refrigerate at least 8 hours or until thoroughly chilled.

6. Freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

7. While the ice cream is churning, crumble the hardened caramel praline into very little bits, about the size of very large confetti (about ½-inch).

8. Once your caramel ice cream is churned, quickly stir in the crushed caramel, then chill in the freezer until firm.

Note: As the ice cream sits, the little bits of caramel may liquefy and get runny and gooey, which is what they’re intended to do.

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