Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Dock Soup

I'm so excited about today's posting. For one, it's been on my 'to-do' list for sometime. And second, it's super delicious. The pictures I post today were taken last month, in early October, when it was greatfully warm outside and I was able to pick this amazing herb in a short sleeve t-shirt. Now it's the end of November and snow will be on it's way. (Must...pick...more...and freeze.) This amazing perennial herb is 'yellow dock'. Some of you may even have supplements in your cabinets, but eating it is sooo much better! It promotes elimination of toxins, bacterial infections, acne, treats headaches, and constipation. Now, I'm really fortunate to have yellow dock growing all around my yard. And I'm 99.9% sure that you would too, if you never cut your grass. I guess living in the country has its benefits. It thrives well in any location, from well-drained soil to clay. For us, it grows among the wood lines and beside our garden. So... on with the recipe:

First, you will need broth. You can make your own by using an actual piece of chicken (recommended) or
by using pre-made broth, chicken or vegetable. If you are using an actual piece of meat, boil it for over 45mins. Remove the meat from the bone and using a fork, shred it and add it to your soup. Keep it on a constant low simmer while you prepare your next step. This specific day I used vegetable broth.

Next, in a separate deep pan, add about 1 1/2 to 2 inches of water. Place your washed yellow dock inside. You can add Swiss chard and spinach as well. Steep it, turn it, but do not over cook.  

On a gas stove, this part takes 5-7 minutes. You want the leaves to cook enough to lose their crispness, but definitely not fall apart. Remove and place on cutting board. I save a little of the greenish-yellow water and use it later that day as an astringent for my skin. You can even add it to your bath.

Chop, chop, chop it up!

Place it back into the soup that has already been simmering. At this point I add my salts, chopped parsley, and give it a quick taste. 

In a little bowl, beat two eggs, till you get some bubbly.

Turn up that heat! Get the soup to a full boil. When it's boiling consistently for over a minute, use one hand to slowly pour the eggs in while the other hand is stirring, creating your egg noodles.

This is what it should look like:)

We absolutely love this soup! It's light, tasty, healthy, & quick to make. This is one of the ways I get my kids to eat their greens. Both girls, say it's their favorite. Completely recommended - this is a must-have herb in any home garden:) Hope you enjoy!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Retro Bag

This little project started off to be a pillow sham for my daughters room.... Somewhere between being too stubborn for measurements and musical rhythms guiding my way, I ended up with a crooked rectangle that couldn't be stuffed. I didn't feel like undoing or cutting away any material, so I folded it over and left it there.

After another project left red material scraps lying perfectly above the brown, retro print, I realized I had to make a little bag. For starters, it was already lined, hence -  'pillow case done on both sides'.  I cut up the red scraps to form handles & trim. (Now before any opinion is formed.....yes, I am aware it is still crooked.....but sooo cute:)) I will probably never leave my house with this little number, (the stitching is not my best), but I had to post it. First, for how darn cute it looks. Second, it may spark a reader to do something even greater. And third, it's great for storage where people can't have bookshelves. Could you picture having a wall of 3-4 bags, stacked or beside each other for an artistic way of storing paperwork or magazines? I think it's great! I used mine to store clothing patterns. Hope this one sparks an idea.  P.S.  For the curious - the music was ed sharpe & the magnetic zeros:)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Holiday Skirt

Tis the season! Holiday shopping has started and holiday outfits are all about. One can't help but love the adorable and sweet skirts that are lining the clothing racks at so many stores.  But they're all red, green, white, and black! Where's the color? Having little girls means colors, rainbows, and sparkles. Soooo...like all the other times, I examined a cute little number, how it was made, and got moving to the fabric store.

 I cut my material length by following a little skirt in my daughters closet and added 2.5 inches for the waist and hem. After serging the purple rectangle, I created the 'waist space'. I know that this is not an actual sewing term, but this is the space where the elastic band will be.  The blue sparkle material was hemmed on one side and a zig-zag stitch on the opposing to make sure no ends would fray.  Now, I didn't want the glitter fabric lining the waist, because I already know, "mom this is itchy." Instead I sewed the glitter fabric wrong side above the waistline, so that when it was flipped, the skirt had a flawless seam where the two were connected & it adds a little more poof. Winner! No itchy skirt. The elastic was put it, the 'rectangle' was stitched together, and the waist finished by hand.

I love the colors! I'm going to have to buy a little black cardigan sweater and adorn it with some make shift flowers from the left over sparkle material. Another great idea is a two tier holiday skirt which I'll be busy stitching up for my older gal.  For two tiered skirts, you don't even have to cut up the material. Simple fold it over creating the tier. Put your waist line in first - so that you have a straight line to follow when sewing in the sparkle. Take your sparkle fabric and repeat the instructions above. You will have to cut the sparkle material so remember to add for your hems.
Good Luck and Happy Sewing!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Medlar Jam!

I did it! I did it! I really, really did! And boy oh boy am I ECSTATIC about it! After searching the web to find various methods of baking and creating with medlar, I pieced together a few simple steps to come up with this beautiful tart but sweet jam. Everyone that steps foot in this house, gives it a try and is blown away by the taste! I just had to share.

Now, not all of the fruit is ripe when picked. Remember, this little guy needs frost to make the pulp turn soft, to be edible. (That's why it's considered a late fall, early winter fruit.) So....first take the fruit that is not soft. Cut off both ends, keeping the skin on, toss them into a cooking pot, (this particular sky blue pot is cast iron - cooks really great, but when you cook with cast iron, remember that the heat does not need to be as high as the recipe may call for.) Next, take your soft fruit and from the papery bud ends, hold it and squeeze all the pulp out. The amount of fruit calls for the equal amount of sugar and of water.  I added lemon zest to mine and think it gives a great surprise. After a couple minutes, (watch it carefully), the solid fruit should start to pop and the skin will break. When this happens, remove from heat and and use a potato masher to stomp everything down to a thick soup consistency but with little clumps. (The clumps are the seeds you don't need.) Next, grab a separate bowl and a large strainer. Pour everything into the strainer and use a wooden spoon to mash everything through. If you do this part right, your hand and arm will be very sore at the end of this recipe, but you will be left with a little piece of heaven in your bowl:)  Clean your cooking pot and pour the ingredients back in. Cook for 5-7 more minutes on a medium to low heat. You can add more lemon zest and other ingredients if you like. Jar your jam while it's still hot so it cools to a seal. Could you imagine if you added little edible lavender flowers? How great! Use this jam on toast, biscuits, pancakes, and crepes. It really is a unique and fruity taste, similar to a cross between a quince and pear. Hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Banana Republic Dress

I absolutely adore this dress! I usually don't go for the strapless thing, but this little number was too cute. It has a classic, retro shape, accompanied by the coolest brown and black plaid print. The complete dress is lined from top to bottom and is perfect for a summer evening or a picnic. I loved it soo much...studied it from top to bottom and after sometime, I decided, "I can do this."
The diagonal of the skirt with the vertical and horizontal top is eye catching, so I wanted to keep this element in my project. I got a Butterick Pattern, some red, white, and blue plaid shirting fabric, (which was not a good choice according to the ladies at the fabric store....) and off I went.

After measuring, and starting to piece my dress together, I realized the skirt was fabulous on its own. Therefore, no one piece here. I decided to make a separate top and bottom to maximize my options. The skirt looks great with a pair of leather brown boots for fall.

Like the original, I lined my whole project with navy blue fabric and used interfacing on the
the top. Interfacing is amazing! It makes your projects last longer and hold their shape. I also added the waist with contrast (picture above). Because it was not a dress anymore, I wanted a dividing line.

Overall, I'm happy with the turnout. Is it a replica? Of course not, but the inspiration was well worth the journey. I learned how interfacing should be used, how to place a zipper between lining and face material, and how one should adjust the bust line after the sections are connected. There are still some changes I plan to make: adding navy bias tape to the end of the skirt for a more finished appearance and straps to the top. Fyi: the pattern was simple to use. I've already used the skirt pattern on two other fabrics. The shape is so feminine and flattering.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Must Have Sewing Books

Sewing is one of the most relaxing and mind appeasing things I have done next to gardening. I love the fact that one can chop up a bunch of fabric and put it back together to create some beautiful pieces of clothing.  Now I have to admit, I am a self taught seamstress. I did not take any classes. Hence, I still make mistakes. I got my first sewing machine when I was fourteen. I remember it was such a treat. At sixteen, I made my first skirt. (And actually wore it too!) I'll post that pic soon. Since then, I have enjoyed doing projects from making my daughters dresses, and skirts, to tops and bottoms for myself. I LOVE making aprons and can spend multiple hours in a fabric store without feeling overwhelmed. EBay is a great place to buy beautiful quilting and apparel fabric at a fraction of the cost.  I notice that alot of my friends say that they would love to sew, but can't stand sifting through all the choices in a fabric store. So......I figured I'd share some books that made a difference for me in times of overload. For starters, books are a great way to find a project you want to do and stick to it. They'll help you choose the fabrics according to your project. (e.g. this skirt can be made with silk jersey, quilting cotton, etc.) The measurements are all there, and sometimes you get free patterns too. If patterns come with the book, your going to need tissue paper for transferring. (Make sure you don't cheat with any markings.) These books are great for basic sewing skills and how to's. You'll be able to use some key points throughout all of your sewing projects.
This is the mother book of sewing! Better Homes & Gardens is amazing and you can often find this book at garage sales and second hand stores. I found this particular copy for 2 bucks at a yard sale. The greatest part, this copy is in mint condition with sewing how to's from the 50's and 60's. But I can't find a date on it anywhere.

"Weekend Sewing" is definately a fun one. Not only do you get patterns, the illustrations are great. Consider 'weekend' more like 'week' for new do it yourselfers.

This skirt was such a blast to make. I bought a fabric bundle of Amy Butler off of EBay. "Free Style Handmade Bags & Skirts" was the book I used.  I call it my 'Spring Skirt.' This book is wild, showing us how to 'refurbish' old pants and even scraps.

Sewing, for some, is like learning a new language. For me, these are the most important things to do before you start a project. 1. Know your machine. By this, I mean, know what it is capable and not capable of. Most basic machines now a days have all the necessary stitches needed to make a really descent and beautiful project. 2. Learn pattern placement. Meaning, pay attention to the grain of the fabric. You don't want to spend all this time on a project that has arrow patterns going up in the front and down on the back. (Hey, that might actually be a neat thing.) 3. You do not need a serger. I do have one and love, love, love it. But you do NOT need one to make clothes. Most people think that sergers are a must. They're just faster and if you get really good, you can do some wild things. I was in my late 20's when I finally got one. I think it was much deserved:) 4. Have fun! Don't get frustrated. We're all going to make mistakes. Sewing is like everything else in life. If you make a mistake, it's one you will learn from.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

More Scarves!

More of my moms one day wonders:  In the Midwest and Eastcoast, take advantage of the fall and winter by dressing up your closet with knit scarves and hats. Do-it yourselfers can create some of the most beautiful items. I have to admit, I have a pet peeve. I love one of a kind items.  Don't get me wrong, mass production is not always a bad thing, but nothing feels greater than a compliment followed by "you made this?'".  I had to share some more pics. Take a look at these:

I love that these are one solid piece. No hassle with loose ends.

Two of my favorite yarns to work with is Lion Brand's 'Amazing' and Simply Soft.
LB's is 53% wool, 47% acrylic. SS is completely acrylic, but it is soft.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

My Latest Project

I love scarves! I love them, I love them, I really really do! I used a 6.5mm crochet hook and Bernat Roving thread, 80% acrylic and 20% wool. This is a tight weave as you can see in the pictures.

Instead of making short rows, I thought it would be more fun to follow one long row, creating a horizontal stripe when worn.  

When I completed the desired height, which was 17 rows,  a shell stitch was done at the bottom, (thanks mom), and the two open ends were closed.

Look at how cute this turned out!

The shell stitch adds a little bit of whimsy and makes it a bit more dressed up.

And, as with any project, one must model it so we can tell, 'is it really as pretty on, as it is just placed on a mannequin?' The answer, 'Of Course!'