Trip to the Pumpkin Patch

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Last Friday (before the AC adapter incident), Lucy's preschool had their annual trip to the pumpkin patch. One of the main highlights was getting to ride on an actual school bus. Here are the girls on the bus:







And here are the girls at the pumpkin patch. Lucy did not want me to take a picture of her, but I convinced her to let me take only one.



Clara kept reaching into our bags, feeling the pumpkins, and saying, "Tode!" (Cold!)

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Money Apron

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Yesterday afternoon I put together this money apron to use at the All-Handmade Sale in a couple of weeks. It's not perfect, but I had fun and used some "found" fabric and webbing from my stash. I am quite pleased with it.



I used a decorative stitch to topstitch the bias binding. The fabric I chose to use as a binding was thick with a fairly coarse, loose weave, so it was raveling and stretching like crazy. I needed a stitch that would be very secure and not terribly ugly.

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The Dinner Roll

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Monday: Eggplant curry from the Vij's cookbook - excellent
Tuesday: Pasta and red sauce
Wednesday: meat curry pulled out of the freezer
Thursday: Potato and Bean Soup (an adaptation from the following excellent recipe)

Really Good Pasta and Bean Soup
from The Kitchen Detective by Christopher Kimball, page 18
serves 10 to 12

1 pound dried white beans, navy or cannellini, rinsed, picked over, and soaked overnight*
2 whole cloves
1 small onion or 1 shallot
1 bay leaf
1 tsp table salt
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes packed in juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 large carrot, diced
2 ounces pancetta, finely chopped, optional**
3 or 4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
freshly ground black pepper
1 Parmesan rind, optional
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh sage
1 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 pound small tubular pasta
freshly grated Parmesan cheese

  • Place the [soaked] beans in a medium sauce pan and cover with 2 inches of water.
  • Stick the cloves into the onion or shallot and add it to the pot along with the bay leaf and 1/2 tsp of the salt.
  • Bring to a simmer and cook, covered for 30 minutes for the navy beans and 40 minutes for the cannellini or until the beans have begun to soften, but remain firm.
  • Drain the tomatoes, crush them with your hands, and reserve.
  • Place the oil in a soup pot over medium heat.
  • Add the onion and carrot (and optional pancetta) and saute for about 7 minutes or until the onion is translucent and softened.
  • Add the garlic and saute an additional 2 minutes.
  • Remove and discard the clove studded onion and bay leaf from the bean pot.
  • Drain the partially cooked beans and add them to the onion mixture.
  • Add the tomatoes, chicken broth, the remaining 1/2 tsp of salt, several grinds of black pepper, and the optional Parmesan rind and stir to combine.
  • Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for about 40 minutes or until the beans are just tender.
  • Add the sage and rosemary and simmer an additional 10 minutes or until the beans are creamy.
  • Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary.
  • Bring 4 quarts of salted water to a rolling boil in a large pot over high heat.
  • Add the pasta and cook until just done, but still firm and toothsome.
  • Drain and, if not using immediately, add 2 Tbsp olive oil and stir to coat pasta.
  • Cover to keep warm if necessary.
  • Remove the optional Parmesan rind from the soup pot.
  • Place about 1/3 cup pasta in the bottom of each soup bowl. Ladle the soup over the pasta and top with a generous drizzle of best-quality olive oil and freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
  • Serve immediately.

*The recipe as printed in my copy of this cookbook omits to tell you to soak the beans overnight.
**The easiest way to finely chop pancetta is to freeze it for about 45 minutes or until it becomes firm.

I'm back.

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A few days ago my computer was knocked off a table and landed on the AC adapter plug. This bent the plug and I have not had access to my computer until today with my new AC adapter.

More updates to follow.

Playing Catch Up (not ketchup) on Dinner

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Let's see.

Friday's dinner was pizza from a local shop.
Saturday we ate beans and rice.
Tonight we had French toast and scrambled eggs.

Simple, straightforward, easy food.

Butterfly Headpiece Nearly Completed Part 2

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Here you can see the topstitching near the edge. I also stitched as much as I could along the center seam to tack the inside to the outside.



Antennae in the making. Each one is made from one chenille stem folded in half with the folded end smashed into a triangular shape. The stem is then twisted tightly a couple of times to close the triangle base and then loosely twisted to keep the ends together. I then hand stitched the bases to the hood.

Below the hood is nearly finished. All that it lacks is some hook and loop tape on the flaps and possibly a couple of pom-poms for the ends of the antennae. (Although I like the unadorned antennae a fair bit.)

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Butterfly Headpiece Nearly Complete Part 1

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I had thought I would simply go buy a headband or a hat for a headpiece for Clara's costume. Today it occurred to me that this would actually take a lot more time and energy than trying to figure out how to make a head piece at home. I googled around for a bit and read a great how-to over at Burdastyle and held it in the back of my head while I worked on the wings. Tonight, right before dinner I remembered that we had a dragon hood in our dress-up box that I could trace a copy of.



Here is the pattern and the pieces (I cut four, but they are stacked together).



I sewed them together along the center seam (both the lining pieces and the outer pieces) and then carefully pressed the seams open.



I fitted the lining to the outer piece, right sides together, and pinned like mad in case the fabric shifted. I left a space (between the double pins - something my mother taught me) unsewn for turning the hood right side out.



Getting ready to press and topstitch the edges.

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Embellished Wings!

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I have finished Clara's butterfly wings. In my previous butterfly wings post, I described how I made the wings. This time I'll describe how the sequin trim is attached. Many thanks to Luckylibbet in the forums over at Pattern Review for coming to my overtired brain's aide with suggestions for attaching sequin trim!

First, I removed about four sequins from the end of the string. I then took a piece of thread and tied a knot around the string to keep any other sequins from shifting. I moistened the string with fray stop (but I am not certain that did anything), folded the string under the sequin trim and took another thread and tied the tail to the sequin trim.



If you look really closely, you can see a faint pink chalk line drawn on the fabric. I then dotted sections of the line with glue.



And pressed the trim into place. This really held remarkably well.



One side all glued and drying. Once it was a little dry (though I probably should have waited longer, but I was trying to finish while Clara was napping), I zigzagged over the top of the trim using my widest setting. If you look closely at the photo below, you can see the stitching. Unfortunately for me, I didn't wait for the glue to dry enough and now I have a presser foot that has glue smeared on the bottom.

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Barley Beef Soup

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A classic tonight.

Barley Beef Soup (from Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook)
serves 6

3/4 pound stew meat, cut into bite-size pieces
oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
3 medium carrots, sliced thin
4 cups water
1/3 cup pearl barley
2 tsp beef bouillon granules
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
1 tsp tarragon
2 bay leaves
1 cup dry white wine
3 medium potatoes, cubed
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
4 cups diced tomatoes

  • In a large pot, heat 1 tablespoon oil. Add beef and begin to brown.
  • When almost totally brown, add onion and celery, cook until they begin to soften
  • Add carrots, water, barley, bouillon, garlic, oregano, basil, tarragon, bay leaves, and white wine to pot. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for one hour.
  • Add potatoes to pot along with tomatoes and peas. Bring to a boil, cover reduce heat, and simmer until potatoes are tender - about 15 minutes.

More Stuff with Rice

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Tonight's dinner was a beef-broccoli-mushroom stir-fry served over rice. There were scrambled eggs to go with it. Strange combination, perhaps, but tasty.

Fabrics!

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I thought I would share a glimpse of the fabrics I am using for the All-Handmade Sale next month. First up are the fabrics I used for kids' art smocks. I used Simplicity 3802 view A except that I left off the pockets and made a button and loop closure at the back of the neck rather than making ties out of bias binding. I used these instructions to make continuous bias binding.



The top fabric is my least favourite, but I used it anyway. I loved it in the shop. The smocks made from this fabric have the same fabric for the bias binding. The navy fabric with the flowers and the other multicoloured fabric looked great together, so I made some smocks in one fabric with bias binding of the other and vice versa.



I also made smocks out of this blue and aqua paisley with the smaller print aqua fabric for bias binding.

My other major item are baby doll back pack carriers. They are patterned a bit after the Ergo baby carriers, but these are for children to carry their beloved dolls with. I am targeting the 2-5 year old set here as older children probably wouldn't use them (and i didn't want to make two sizes). I made up my own pattern and process, and I will share that eventually, but it will be picture intensive.



Here are two of the baby doll carrier fabrics the paisley is the outside and the stripes are the lining and the straps. I also have a lighter, more violet coloured paisley that I paired with a plain dusty pink fabric and a couple of carriers made from a fabric with a bright, primary coloured fish print that I paired with a goldenrod fabric.



Today I bought the two fabrics above as well. I felt I needed to have more gender-neutral offerings.

I won't use all of the fabrics and I will bring fabric swatches to the sale so that customers can place an order if I run out of something.

Curry and Rice

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Tuesday night's dinner: vegetable curry and rice. The recipe came from a cookbook written by the proprietors of Vij's. It is very flexible, quite mild and ridiculously tasty. It was also beautiful. I wish I had photographed it.

Simple Masala
(from Vij's Elegant and Inspired Indian Cuisine pg 33)
serves 2-3

1/3 cup canola oil
1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion
2 Tbsp chopped garlic
1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper (optional)
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 to 2 cups water

ALSO: any other vegetable except broccoli (summer squash, cauliflower, and peppers go well together)

  • Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed pot on medium-high heat. Add onions and saute until golden brown (5-8 minutes). Add garlic and saute until browned (3 minutes).
  • Stir in tomatoes, then add turmeric, cumin, coriander, salt, and cayenne. Turn down heat to medium and saute until the oil separates.
  • Add chickpeas and any other chopped vegetable and water to the desired consistency.
  • Cover, bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, simmer about 5 minutes. Serve.

Burgers

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Tonight's dinner was tiny little pan-roasted red potatoes and burgers (both veggie and beef) with a fair number of toppings including sauteed mushrooms and bacon.

David and I just finished going over our calendar for the next month and a half. It's going to be crazy busy until the end of November. We have had to schedule in extra times for me to sew so I can get everything made before the All-Handmade Sale at our church on November 22. Of course, immediately following this busy season is Advent and Christmas.

So essentially, I have two and a half months of staying focused using my time wisely ahead of me. That's tiring just to think of.

Pizza Tonight

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We had a crazy day today, so we ordered pizza for dinner tonight. It was supposed to be half cheese and half red pepper, pineapple, and sausage. Unfortunately (though not terribly too unfortunately) it was half cheese and half red pepper, pineapple, and feta. I guess sausage sounds a lot like feta when you are answering the phone in a loud kitchen.

But, as an upshot, we made pancakes for breakfast this morning. These are fairly healthy pancakes which I appreciate because the kids don't spike and crash immediately after eating them. Here is that recipe:

Fancy Pancakes
makes about 28 pancakes ladled with a 1/3 cup measure

Dry Ingredients
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup corn meal
1 cup nuts*, ground finely in food processor
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp sugar

Wet Ingredients
4 eggs
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup applesauce
2 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 cup milk

  • Combine dry ingredients in a very large bowl.
  • Thoroughly combine wet ingredients in another bowl.
  • Add wet to dry and mix until moistened.
  • Allow batter to rest while griddle heats.
  • Ladle batter on a lightly greased griddle over a medium-low flame and cook until edges lose their shine. Flip and cook about half as long as they cooked on the first side.
  • Serve with your favourite toppings. Ours are: real maple syrup, jam, high-fat plain yogurt, peanut butter, and fresh fruit.
*Hazelnuts (aka filberts) add a rich flavor to the pancakes. Almonds do not add much flavor, but work quite well, regardless.

Acquiring Patterns

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I checked out Amy Butler's In Stitches from my local library. It is due back tomorrow, so I photocopied and traced off the few patterns that interested me. I've got her wide-leg lounge pants, the kimono-style bathrobe, the oversized laundry bag, and the kitty tunnel.

I'm itching to make the pants because the pattern is just so rectangular I just can't believe it will look good on a human. I am hoping I will be proved wrong.

Chicken Pie

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Tonight's dinner was a stripped-down version of this recipe: Starvin' Guy Chicken Pie

It was tasty if perhaps less than aesthetically pleasing.

Beans and Rice

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Tonight's dinner was build your own burritos.

Seasoned black beans, brown rice, shredded cheddar, sour cream, lettuce, salsa, Valentino's hot sauce, diced avocado, sauteed zucchini-onions-red bell peppers, lime wedges, and whole wheat tortillas.

Yum.

Clara's Butterfly Wings

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A month or so ago, Clara was lying on the changing table jabbering away and since I was quite occupied with her other business end, I wasn't paying any attention. Finally I realized that she had been calling "Mama!" with increasing impatience for some time. I looked at her and asked what she needed. She looked at me very seriously and said, "Buffuffy. Doot. Me." "Butterfly suit?" "Syes." "You want a butterfly suit?" "Syes." "You want to dress up like a butterfly?" "Syes." "OK!" (Huge grins on both faces at the success of having verbally communicated so well.)


So today I worked on part of Clara's Halloween costume. The wings. In the photos above, the wings appear quite swimsuit-like. They aren't. They are made quite simply (and a bit slapdash) from two rectangles of fabric and a bit of webbing and elastic. I have a white and green leaf print on one side and a white lace on the other. Both fabrics are terribly synthetic. The fabrics were purchased from my local fabric shop in the clearance section. The elastic and webbing are from my stash.

Here is a brief how-to:

Measure the person who intends to wear the costume from one wrist, along the arm, across the back, down the other arm, and to the other wrist. Have the person bend their elbows whilst measuring. Add an inch or so to this measurement for seam allowance. Now measure the future butterfly from the nape of the neck to the back of the knees and add another inch for seam allowances. Use those two measurements for the dimensions of the rectangles.

  • Sew the rectangles together around the edges leaving a space for turning inside out.
  • Trim the corners, turn, press the edges and topstitch all around.
  • Run two lines of long machine stitches up the middle and gather the fabric as much as possible.
  • Take a piece of firm cottony webbing and cut it about half an inch longer than the gathered section.
  • Turn the ends of the webbing under and zigzag.
  • Centre the webbing against the gathers and run two lines of stitching between the gather stitches to attach and achor the gathers.
  • Remove gathering stitches.
  • Cut two small lengths of elastic for the wristbands, fold in half and zigzag the ends together, making a teardrop shaped loop.
  • Sew the zigzagged edge of the elastic loops to the top corners of the wings.
  • Cut two longer lengths of thin black elastic for the shoulder straps.
  • Melt the ends and tie a firm knot near the ends.
  • Position the knotted ends against the webbing (on the side near the wing fabric) and zigzag over the elastic to attach.

I plan to embellish the wings with some sequins as well, but that (and the antennae headpiece) will have to wait for another day. When it is done I will post a picture of Clara wearing her butterfly suit.

Melissa's Favourite Lentils

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The recipe for tonight's dinner came from a friend whose young daughter claims this as her favourite dinner. Thus, in our house, it has the above title.

1 1/2 large cans diced tomatoes
6 cups water
1 1/2 cups brown rice (uncooked)
1 1/2 cups split red lentils
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
3/4 cup chopped celery
3 Tbsp instant vegetable stock
4 1/2 tsp dried basil
3/4 tsp pepper

  • Boil all, then cover and simmer on low for about an hour.
  • When cooked, add a few handfuls of grated strong cheese and stir until melted.
  • Top with yogurt or sour cream and a drizzle of spicy sauce (Max & Moritz works).
  • Serve with tortilla chips, flour tortillas, or naan.

Lucy's Spinny Skirt

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This summer, I made a "spinny skirt" for Lucy. There were a few hiccups in my math and measurements, but it turned out OK and she loves it. The aqua fabric isn't wearing as well as I'd like, but I'm learning.

Back in the Saddle?

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Here I go again. I am diving back into blogland.

I am promising nothing, but I hope to blog about my sewing projects and food cooked and my crazy life in this crazy house with my crazy kids.

You are welcome to join me...