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Friday, April 22, 2011

We have spinach

This morning Eden and I slept in till about 6:00.  I tried to sleep in, I really did.  But once it gets light, I just lie there thinking about all the stuff I want to do so I just get up and do it.  The downside to getting up when it's light (or right before) is that when it gets guessed it, I am ready to go to bed.

Anyway...we hopped up out of bed and went straight to the mini garden to harvest our first batch of spinach.  About 5 days later than it really should have been harvested, but my schedule just wouldn't cooperate with spinach production this week.
this is where the spinach used to be...see those 6 strawberry plants?  someone at the strawberry store told DW that would be enough to feed our family....pssshhhhhttt!  Once....MAYBE.  We will be making a trip to the "pick-ur-own" strawberry patch soon (that's how they spray paint it on the signs here in Alabama). 
Spinach....spinach, I am so easily distracted.
first we rinsed, and rinsed, and rinsed.  I had forgotten how long this takes.  spinach leaves love to hang on to dirt. and bugs. and those little white, almost clear spiders.  I didn't let the kids see those, they would never eat this spinach.  AS IF I wouldn't get them all.  My grandfather never let a little bug or worm in the spinach faze him.  He just said it's a little extra :)  I miss my grandpa.
isn't this beautiful? and clean?
next we blanched for 2 minutes.  It shrinks up a bit and gets sooooo green!
after blanching we tossed it into ice water to stop the cooking process and then plopped it into the strainer.  Next comes the fun step.  I don't have a salad spinner so we....
put a pile of spinach in a tea towel, pulled up the corners and took it to the porch for a spin (to get the water out, of course)
This was Eden's job...
she enjoyed it. 
then we just took it back inside and bagged it.  Nothing to it.  We were done and had a clean kitchen before 9am!  Yes, I know that's 3 hours.  It really didn't seem like it took that long.  There was a little coffee-drinking and breakfast-eating mixed in there. 
From that little plot of spinach, we got 10 - 1cup bags and 8 - 1 1/2cup bags.  I have promised Harrison and Eden pizza tonight while Waverly and DW go to Secret Church, so we will use some of our fresh spinach on my famous garlic/spinach white pizza (what? you haven't heard of it? Harrison says it is famous...hmmm).

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Thursday, April 14, 2011

New dress!

Last night my almost 16-yr-old and I were down in the sewing room taking measurements and getting inspired to start some new clothes for her.  We were looking through one of our favorite catalogs and found all these GREAT things for me to make....hmmmmm.

So this morning before I start on one of them, I thought I'd document one of my projects from start to finish.
This is how it inevitably starts...
 we find a pattern that is "mostly" like we want it and then make LOTS of adjustments because we are picky.  And by we I mean both of us. are picky. about almost everything. high maintenance.

So for this one, we are going for a vintage-y look.  But it has to be hip and modern, not "old lady, 'I found this in my grandma's closet'" look.
these are the fabric picks.  Light floral with natural muslin under layer.  She wants it billowy and light and "flowy" I think was the word she used.

We are still discussing some sort of lace at the neck and hem, maybe unfinished edges.  We'll see what develops.  I'll have to have a few dreams first and then I can decide.  No kidding, this stuff comes to me in my sleep.  I just sketched out a design the other day that woke me up in the middle of the night.  I'm not a very good sketcher, but I think I got the basics down.  You may see it on here one day.

So, when you are making as many adjustments as I am and/or customizing a size, you pretty much have to make your own pattern.  I start with their pattern pieces just for the basic shape, but end up with my own.

If you are making your own pattern, it's a really, REALLY good idea to make a prototype before you cut the REAL fabric.  It is an extra step, I know.  It's really like making the dress twice.  SO, I have decided to make my prototypes out of fabrics I've had in my cabinet for awhile and will probably never use for anything else.  So the prototype will be mismatched, depending on what I have on hand.  In this case...

she may actually like the prototype as well as the "real" dress.  The big print is the front, small print is back.  When she gets home I'll try it on her and make adjustments.

ok, so almost an entire week later...
I'm not sure why I am always so confident that it is going to be perfect the first time around, or the second, or the third (you get my point).

I totally forgot to take pictures to document all the "fails"...there were several.

The top of the dress went pretty well after the first prototype, I got the second one right.  But the bottom was a different story.  When I got it put together (Tuesday, I think) and it was hanging there I was just discouraged.  It didn't look like her or me.  It was very blah, no style, yuk.  I hoped she hated it so I could make it into something more fun, but at the same time I was tired of fooling with it.  I knew I had to finish it this week or it would sit in my sewing room for years half-done and I would eventually cut the fabrics up and use as prototypes on another project, or a quilt.  She came home, tried it on, hated it (she was very sensitive about it so I didn't cry), and we started brainstorming about how to make it right.  I thought I knew what I was going to do, but I slept on it (not literally, sleeping on the dress, just dreaming of it...wink, wink).

In my sleep I evidently came up with something completely different.  'Cause I woke up very excited with a new picture in my head which involved totally dismantling the bottom of the dress, tea-dyeing lace, and reassembling into....
THIS!  we love it!  She will never wear it with this belt and boots, but I would.  She will probably wear it with a sweet, thin belt and strappy sandals...also fun :)

this is the front lace inset.  All seams are raw edge (sewn wrong sides together instead of right sides together).  I just stitched a line 1/4" from raw edges to limit fraying.  It will fray some, especially at first washing, but that will actually make it look better. 
this is the back view...oops, forgot to turn the boots around
to make it "flowy" like she requested without the bulky gathering at the waist (first attempt failure), I stitched 10 panels of alternating fabric (dress floral and lining muslin) in angled strips.  Not too angled, I think the bottom of the strip is 2" wider than the top.  You could get a fuller skirt by angling the strips maybe an inch wider at bottom without it looking like triangles sewn together, I think, but not much more than that.  Of course, now I have used all the skirt lining fabric on the actual skirt so I have to go find a slip of some sort today that is NOT silky nor makes "that funny noise when you scratch it with your fingernail" (what?!?).  I'm just saying, these are the instructions I was given.
front neckline detail.

shoulder rouching, bodice lining strap

back neck detail.  we love the crocheted ties!  I also used the crocheted lace for the straps of the bodice lining, which is really just a cami top with rouching at the center (we don't like the uni-boob look, and this helps)...

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Some days are just like this

Yesterday I fixed up something yummy for lunch...just for me.  Sometimes I like to do that.  I was home alone doing endless loads of laundry AND folding them (all in the same day) and I just decided I needed something good for lunch.  I remembered DW saying that he thought it looked like there were 3 asparagus stalks that needed plucking in the garden so I went and got them.  (We have made it thru 2 winters with the asparagus so now we can start harvesting any that are bigger than a pencil, so I'm told by experts on the internet.)  What else to make a meal of???  I stood in front of open pantry and fridge and came up with:  wagon wheel pasta (that's what I call them), diced tomatoes left from last night's mexican meal, shaved parmesan, butter, freshly pressed garlic.  I just put the butter in a little dish, threw in the cut up asparagus and pressed garlic and nuked it till the butter was melted and tossed everything all together.
When I tasted it, it still needed something so I went out to the porch and plucked about 5 basil leaves, cut them into strips and threw them on top.  I love, Love, LOVE basil.  Still needed something so after the salt and pepper, I squeezed some lime juice over the whole thing...perfect :)

Today; however, is a different story
Does this count as healthy?

I will have to drink some V8 with it.  And diet for the rest of the week.  Oh, wait, the week is over...WHEW!  I am giving up on dieting anyway.  Why am I trying to get down to the size I was @ 19?  I've spent the last 25 years trying to get back there.  I didn't even like myself at 19.  I like myself now.  And I like cupcakes, and brownies, and cookies, and pasta, steak, and creme brulee.  See how I talked myself out of that diet? 

I wish I knew how to insert a link to a song right here.  Imogen Heap's "Bad Body Double" just popped into my head.  Imogen Heap, Bad Body Double  Enjoy. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Outdooor weekend project

We've been trying to grow grass or SOMETHING (for crying out loud) in this shady spot of our back yard for years.  Nothing doing.  So, we've taken to using that spot for random burning...brush, Christmas trees, etc.  The boys always like to say they are going to camp out down there but most times end up back in the house before morning.  Shortly after the fire goes out, and right before the mosquitoes carry them off.

This weekend we made this spot into an official fire pit, using up most of the pile of fake stone wall we disassembled from another area when we first moved here.

I salvaged the old cushions that DW had ALMOST cut up and put in the trash since we have not had a use for them in awhile.  He likes to do that, eliminate stuff.  I like to hang onto it, thinking eventually I will find the perfect use for it.  Sometimes we clash over stuff like this.  This time...I win.

So, Sunday night we built a fire in the new fire pit.  The kids jumped on the trampoline until someone was crying and then moved on to roasting marshmallows.  It was so fun, we have decided to have a fire every week!  We just sat out there till about 9pm pretending it wasn't a school night.

As it turns out, Jake likes marshmallows too.  He's excited about the weekly fire.  Please don't comment with warnings about how bad marshmallows are for labs.  This dog is like Marley, he once ate a glass that was sitting on the bumper of the car.  You heard me.

When DW saw me putting the cushions on the "benches", he just laughed.  Who's laughing now, Huh? (that's him on the right, enjoying the CUSHIONS)

I don't know how I got this next pic.  It was certainly not skill, I have no idea what I was doing and I'm sure I could never duplicate it.  But, it is AWESOME! 

Monday, April 4, 2011

Fuzzy zippered robe w/hood

As promised, a pic of one of my custom orders that I made last week.  This is the daughter robe.  I made a matching one for her mom a few months ago and used leftover fabric to make this one.  I forgot to take a pic of the other robe.  I should get them to model both for me but I will probably never remember.

Door & curtains

Friday I FINALLY got my back door painted!  Soon ("soon" being a relative term) all my doors will be shiny black!  I love a couple coats of glossy oil base paint on doors.  If we ever sell the house, the future owners will hate me, but I can handle it.  The paint store guys will not convince me that latex these days is as good as oil base.  It just looks different.

So, since I got done around lunchtime, I decided I had enough time to hang the new linen curtains I got @ the Restoration Hardware outlet over spring break.  I should have know better...spring break was only two weeks ago...I can't possibly start and complete a project in just 2 short weeks, it hasn't had time to marinate yet.  Anyway, I started opening the packages.  There are four 96" panels, mismatched because that's how I am.  Two panels were Belgian linen with variegated stripes, the other two were handkerchief linen...all four in white.  I had also bought a panel in the flax color because I liked it and it was cheap and you can never have too much linen, right?  So, I'm opening packages and getting ready to iron when I notice that one panel seems different than the others.  Come to find out, it is 84" long and all the others are 96".  Blurg.  Now I'm picturing myself cutting off and hemming the other 3 panels, but when I measure the door and window I KNOW that I want the 96"s.  I don't like my curtains to be right at the top of the window, but up near the ceiling.  Now I spend about 30 minutes on ebay and other sites looking for another luck (which is why I got them cheap at the outlet and mismatched).  But then I remember that I have 1 flax colored panel left...please, please, please let it be 96" long!  AND IT IS!  I'm saved!  I stuck it in a bucket of bleach water overnight and when I woke up...It was white!  My mother says you can't trust how linen will act when you put water on it, but I'm fearless that way...I just plopped it in there and ran the water on it full blast!  My husband says I'm naturally a rebel.  I laugh in the face of warning labels and fabric care instructions.  Dry Clean Only...whatever.

This is my life.  I'm pretty used to things not working out quite the way you planned them.  But I think I really do enjoy figuring out HOW to make it work out when the plan falls through.

 ...and here it is!  TWO completed projects in one pic!  I almost forgot to tell about the curtain rods.  I found these great rods @ Home Depot in about 5 minutes.  This never happens with me.  I usually spend about 6 weeks looking for the perfect thing at the perfect price (cheap).  They are called "vintage doorknob" by (who else?) Martha Stewart.  $29 each!