Check it Out!


I posted a couple of pattern reviews over at Pattern Review and now I have a handy little widget in my sidebar! How cool is that?

I also have posted my latest sewing creations over at Burdastyle. I still have a couple of how-tos that I want to post - both the wings from Clara's Halloween costume and the backpack doll carriers.

I'm so pleased with myself!

The Apron

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Well, it's not a wadder, but I'm not thrilled with how my apron turned out. It just makes me feel ever so W I D E . But it is comfortable and it will stay put on my chest (most aprons shift around annoyingly). The purple vegetables side turned out better than the marbles side. I wasn't as careful as I should have been with gathering the bodice, marking the centers, etc. and it shows if you look at the bodice on the marbles side head on.

I will wear this in the kitchen - of course the funny thing is that we are going to order pizza tonight I just can't quite manage to think about cooking.

On Food


It's been a while since I wrote about food. Michael Pollan, on the other hand, writes profusely on this subject, including this open letter to Obama. Give it a read as you have time.

May God grant everyone the blessing of eating fresh, local, real food grown under the glorious sun.

On Deck

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I went to the fabric store today. This is momentous because I have to have time to myself in order to contemplate and think in a fabric store. On Wednesdays, David stays home to take care of the kids and I have that time to do some volunteer work and whatever else I need or want to do.

So. I picked out fabric for this apron. I tend toward the whimsical and silly/quirky when it comes to crafty things. I just can't get myself as excited about Amy Butler's Midwest Modern as I can these fabrics:

The apron is reversible, so the two prints do not have to coordinate.
Purple vegetables on one side and MARBLES on the other.

I also went hunting for a dress pattern that I liked and found two! The first one that I am going to make is McCall's 4769 I'm thinking View E, but with the longer skirt. I also want to make this one in the sleeveless View B. Here are the fabrics:

The blue is a cotton-poly chambray for View E, the vintage-y flowered is for View B.

The second (and more difficult) dress is Simplicity 3877. I want to make View B out of this darling cotton:

And somewhere in the mix of all of that I want to make Amy Butler's lounge pants out of this cotton:

I'm all excited! If I weren't sick, I'd pull an all-nighter on the apron.

The Tote Bag

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Here are the photos of the tote bag I made for my airplane trip. I made this while I still had my hem to finish on my skirt. It was one of those times where I couldn't finish the one project because if I messed it up I wouldn't get anything "accomplished" while if I stalled for a bit and at least made the bag I would certainly get something done. Does anyone else's mind work like this or is it just me?

Front and side view

Loaded with gear

The black and white is home dec fabric from Ikea. The green is a heavy coated ripstop nylon remnant from a local outdoor fabric store.

The fabric from Ikea is very difficult for my machine to sew. I'm not certain why - it isn't super stiff or overly thick, but my machine just doesn't like it.

Photos of the Skirt

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Here are the skirt photos I've been promising! And let me say that this is the most fabulous skirt to wear when traveling internationally with a small child by airplane. Erin, of A Dress A Day fame would heartily approve. (I can't find her post about what people should wear on airplanes, otherwise I would link to it.)

The skirt is roomy and has large pockets perfect for holding passports and boarding passes that one must keep ready for any and every interested official. The fabric, being corduroy, has a luxurious feel, but is wildly practical - allowing the wrinkles (and cookie crumbs) to fall away. The brocade border does crank up the fancy notch, but it is nice to have comfortable, useful clothes that are a little on the fancy side (my daughter Lucy would agree).

I wore the skirt paired with this top (in eggplant) only I scrunched up the bottom so that it fell to my hip bone and had a ruched effect over my belly (I have had three kids, you know). I also wore a camisole underneath for modesty's sake.

The skirt does need a little fixing. In my fear of cutting the skirt too small, I made the waist too large. This will be fixed with some wide elastic run through the waistband facing. I suppose I could take apart the center back seam and redo the zipper and all that, but that is so much work that it might never get done.

One for the Record Books


The last two weeks have been crazy.

As I was planning my trip to visit Mother, Clara woke up in the middle of the night vomiting. She was fine by Saturday, so I went ahead and finished the skirt (and made a tote bag) and we boarded the plane on Sunday.

It was very good to be with Mother in those last few days. I was very sad to leave on Thursday morning, but at that point the hospice nurses thought she still had a few days left. I figured I could go home, check in with my family and then turn around and come back if need be.

That didn't prove to be the case since Mother died Thursday evening.

So I spent the entire following weekend jumping every time the phone rang, loosing my temper without much warning and generally being an unpleasant emotional mess.

Things eased up once I knew what the funeral plans were and we could start to work toward something rather than hang in limbo hundreds of miles away from my family. Funeral the coming Friday - we all pile into the van and drive down on Thursday.

Then my throat started to hurt and continued to hurt so that I had to take ibuprofen just to function. And Peter started to get these little pimply spots on his face. I just figured he was giving himself pimples from picking/touching his nose and mouth. On Wednesday when I picked him up from school he had two little spots that hadn't been there that morning.

That night I took him to the doctor. The clinic our doctor is a part of has evening drop-in clinic hours hosted by one doctor or another every evening. On a whim I asked to see the doctor myself, too.

Peter turned out to have impetaigo (?) and the doctor said to do what I was doing and to gargle with salt water. He also took a throat culture just in case. We got the meds for Peter and made preparations to leave town the next morning.

Part of our preparations was to get the rooms on the second floor and the living room ready for carpet cleaners to come and for a new short-term housemate to move in. I was feeling lousy enough that we were only able to get the housework done - we left the packing for the next morning.

So with general life and packing for five people we didn't leave our house until nearly noon. We waited to cross the border for at least half an hour since our favourite little border crossing only had one window open. Then we planned to stop at a mall in Bellingham to eat lunch and purchase and activate a pre-paid cell phone to use in the states. We left the mall around 3:30 after a nearly-four-year-old's tantrum, a pokey and messy meal of rice and teriyaki, a messy diaper change, and (supremely) the purchase of a pre-paid cell phone that needed to be charged for FIVE HOURS before use. I cried.

We finally got to Dad's house shortly after nine and managed to get the kids to bed by nearly eleven.

The next morning, we were all getting ready for the funeral. David was giving the kids baths. He pulled Clara out of the tub, put the towel around her to dry her off and she promptly vomited. So David stayed at Dad's house while the rest of us went to Mother's funeral. As it turned out, CLara was done vomiting by the time we left for the funeral.

The funeral was lovely. An old friend of mine from high school came - that was great. The graveside service was silly and impromptu and cold and windy. A nice combination to the more formal funeral service.

We came back to Dad's house (where the rest of the family would shortly be showing up for food, wine and conversation) and David reminded me about the throat culture the doctor in Vancouver took on Wednesday. I called him and found out that my horrid sore throat was, in fact, strep throat. **cue circus music**

We then proceeded to perform the act I like to call "Trying to Find a Doctor or Clinic on a Friday Evening in Portland" I did finally find one, and went, thinking it would be like the clinics in Vancouver where you just show up and wait for one of the doctors to see you. No. This one required setting an appointment in advance (but on the same day). I wasn't up for waiting for two hours for the last booking of the day since all of my family was at Dad's house and I had missed all that time with family right after Mother died. So I went back.

This morning I went back to the clinic (having made an appointment for this morning after they closed last night) and picked up a prescription for atibiotics. Most of the day today we have just hung out here at Dad's by ourselves. This morning Dad and Peter and Lucy took Dad's dog for a walk and a trip to the playground. This afternoon David took the kids to a bakery for a treat while I got some rest.

We intend to get the kids down to bed early (in fifteen or twently minutes), get all the rest of our gear packed, and be ready to leave Portland by nine tomorrow morning. Here's hoping.

So, to recap: vomiting, death, impetaigo, phone needing to be charged,vomiting, funeral, strep throat, circus hoops for meds.


My Mother


died tonight.

Lord have mercy on us all.

Leavin' on a Jet Plane


Well, actually, it will be a dinky plane with about 50 seats, so maybe it will have propellers!

Clara and I are flying down to Oregon to visit my Mother who is in ill health. I am going to finish my skirt before I go (and I made a tote bag specifically for the trip), but I do not currently have a digital camera at my disposal, so I probably won't blog about it for another week or so.

Peace to you all,


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Lucy made cupcakes for Clara's Christmas present. Here are photos of the cupcakes and the cupcake maker followed by the recipe for the cupcakes and frosting. Note the terribly important (though not Christmassy) sprinkles. (ETA: Clara received one cupcake under the tree after her nap on the fifth day of Christmas. The remaining cupcakes were eaten by the rest of us.)

Yellow Cupcakes
From Cook's Illustrated no.60, page 25
makes 12 cupcakes

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
8 Tbsp butter, room temp
1/2 cup sour cream
1 large egg, room temp
2 large egg yolks, room temp
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

  • Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 350 F. Line standard muffin tin with paper or foil liners.
  • Stir together dry ingredients in bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment.
  • Add butter, sour cream, egg, egg yolks, and vanilla; beat at medium speed until satiny.
  • Scrape down sides of bowl and mix by hand until smooth and no flecks of flour remain.
  • Divide batter evenly among cups. Bake until cupcake tops are pale gold and toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 24 minutes.
  • Transfer cupcakes to wire rack and cool before frosting.

Simple Frosting*
from HomeBaking, page 359
makes about 1 cup frosting

8 Tbsp butter, melted
1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
Up to 2 Tbsp milk or cream
2 drops vanilla

  • Pour the melted butter into a bowl.
  • Sift on the sugar, then stir in with a spoon.
  • Stir in a little milk or cream to thin it to a spreadable consistency.
  • Cover and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to firm up before using.

*This recipe is not so simple if you miss the part about putting the melted butter into another bowl and then refrigerating the frosting for 30 minutes before using. I melted the butter in the microwave and then tried to mix the frosting in the warm bowl - perhaps a good idea for washing dishes, but not a good idea for mixing frosting. Even so, I found I had to add a considerable amount of additional sugar to get the frosting to look like something other than greasy yellow glop. Refrigeration helped considerably.

McCall's 5431 Skirt Photos

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Here are photos on my skirt work.

Here is the center front with the chevron of corduroy wales.

Here is the hand basting on the yoke. Not too bad for a first try!

And above is the process I used to line the patch pockets rather than hem them. I still need to topstitch the top of the pocket before I place it on the skirt itself.

A Menu Plan for January

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In an attempt to help David and I cook real food (and not fall back on packaged food), I made a dinner menu plan for the month. Of course, it is flexible. Tonight, for example, we are not having the Pasta and Bean Soup called for because David brought home literally buckets of soup yesterday, so we will freeze most of that and eat some of it for dinner tonight.

Here is the plan:
Week One
Curry and Rice; Pasta and Bean Soup; Homemade Pizza; Fritatta; Green Potato Soup; Tuna Noodle Casserole
Week Two
Baked Potatoes; Stir Fry with Rice; Pasta with Tomatoes and Basil; Fried Rice; Chicken Noodle Soup; Chicken/Tofu Pineapple Skillet
Week Three
Pasta with Tuna and Tomatoes; Macaroni and Cheese; Green Potato Soup; Chili or Stew with Rice; Homemade Pizza; Fritatta
Week Four
Beans and Rice; Pasta with Spinach and Almonds; Fried Rice; Taco Soup; Pasta with Tomatoes and Basil; Chicken Noodle Soup

The careful observer will notice that there are only six meals planned for each week. This gives us a little flexibility and allows us to have a fridge clean-out night if necessary. Also we repeat family favourites twice a month.

Working on the Skirt!

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Hooray! So I finally took a deep breath and cut into my fashion fabric to make this skirt.

I am using a dark teal corduroy for the main fabric and a brown brocade for the accent band at the bottom. I have also decided to use a hot pink lining fabric for the insides of the pockets (not called for by the pattern) and for the waistband/yoke facing.

A couple of months ago I made a muslin of the top part of the skirt and the waistband/yoke out of some corduroy from my stash. I had read that the big 4 companies add a lot of ease to their garments, so I wanted to check. I ended up cutting the waistband in a size 14 (though by their measurements I should be cutting an 18) and redrafted the skirt pieces to take an inch or two off the hips.

Over the two months between the muslin and the actual garment I thought I might like to cut the fabric on the bias, so instead of cutting the front on the fold, I added a seam allowance for a center front seam. This way the corduroy wales make a chevron of sorts in the front.

Currently, all of the pieces are cut out and the skirt pieces are zig-zagged and stitched together and staystitched at the top. The facings are fused to the interfacing and stitched together, and the waistband pieces are stitched together, and-get this - hand basted to the skirt top. I am so proud of myself for doing the hand basting rather than pinning like mad and trying to skip the basting.

I will try to post pictures later...