Monday, December 21, 2009

One more to go...

While it was snowing and my feast of seven fishes was NOT happening on Saturday, I headed off to the craft lounge. So, another diaper bag and changing pad is done, done, done! I am really happy with how it came and I hope MarMar likes it. All it needs is a coat of Stainguard.

Changing pad.

Which leaves just one more diaper bag to go. However, I am not going to start that one until after Christmas.

Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!

Try JibJab Sendables® eCards today!

Thank you to Calliope, Orpheus and Linus for a fun weekend in the snow and at the circus!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Polyjuice Potion

I took today off to prep for tomorrow's Feast of Seven Fishes and finish up any holiday shopping.
But, in the interim, I leave you with this photo.

My nephew, Orpheus, is a huge Harry Potter fan. So, after a recent haircut, he asked Pete the Barber to put all of his cut hair into a zip lock bag. Pete humored him. Last weekend when I visited, he sent me home with a lock of his hair so that, if I needed to, I could make a polyjuice potion which would make me look like him.

And so, I will leave you with this thought: wouldn't it be wonderful to be a six year old at Christmas again? I think so.

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Multi-tasking again, yet not taking pictures

I don't know what is wrong with me. I spent all weekend at my hobbies, but somehow did not take a single picture to show you.

In addition to all the candy making, I:
  • drafted some alterations to my pencil skirt pattern and cut it out in my fabulous plaid and silver fabric
  • cut a muslin for the Hot Patterns Calm, Cool and Cowl Neck top.
  • did the final edge stitching and slip stitching of the Diaper Bag for MarMar
  • started embroidering a onesie for my new nephew
  • wrestled some more with my 3 Graces cowl neck top (I am not quite past the point where I get apoplectic whenever I think of it)
But I took not one picture. And the Craft Lounge still looks like a bomb blew up in it. A few weeks ago, Magenta was musing about finishing projects, and that may be where I am stuck. I have 5 projects in various stages of completion. Or it could just be that, at this time of year, my attention and energy turns toward holiday shopping, cooking and baking, and sewing gets back-burnered.

Either way, you are just going to have to muddle through with me. I will try to update you on each project individually as I make progress.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Santa's Kitchen 2009

Peppermint bark, peanut brittle and chocolate truffles.

This weekend, Phineas and I powered through our holiday candy making. It went pretty quickly. Even the truffles, which are usually a pain, went smoothly.

Spurred on by my candy-making success, I ventured another try at spiced nuts. Last year, Erato told me that she really liked my first batch once she added more salt to them. So, that is what I did. Naturally, I over-salted them. Sigh. So, I have assigned holiday spiced nut making to Phineas. Possibly permanently.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Nothing really matters, but Moi....

When I learned that Disney had acquired the Muppets, I had very mixed feelings. On the one hand, I would love to see the Muppets revitalized. On the other hand, I shudder at the thought of them being disneyfied.

However, their recent appearance on YouTube makes me cautiously optimistic.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Post-Thanksgiving/Pre-Christmas Baking

The holidays always put me in mind of breads thanks to my dad and his mad bread skills. Some saint gave him Beard on Bread 30+ years ago, and since then he has churned out gorgeous loaves every holiday season. (This year I've gone as far as asking for a loaf of his wonderful cheese bread as a Christmas gift. We'll see if I am on the 'nice' list or not. My refusal to share may maroon me in naughty-land.)

I don't do yeast, but quick breads are easy. And I had cans of pumpkin left over from Thanksgiving pie making this year. So, earlier this week, I decided to get a jump on the holidays and bake up a batch of pumpkin bread. I'm not sure why I didn't blog about this recipe last year; it's excellent. It's from the King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking Cookbook. The bread comes out moist, pumpkin-y, just sweet enough, and rather not bad for you. I made a triple batch.

Bread in Papa, Mama and Baby Bear sizes.
They look darker in the photos than in real life.

Pumpkin Bread
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp each: baking powder, salt, cinnamon and clove
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup butter (1 stick/4oz)
1 cup light or dark brown sugar
1/4 cups white sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup pumpkin (canned)
3/4 cup nuts
3/4 raisins or chocolate bits or craisins, etc

The directions are your basic cake procedure: Sift the dry ingredients in a bowl; Cream the butter and sugar, beat in eggs one at a time, then pumpkin and vanilla. Add dry ingredients, mixing to incorporate. Stir in the nuts, etc. Dump into a greased loaf pan and bake at 350 for 50-60min until tester comes out clean. Cool on rack, unmolding after 10 min.

I ran into problems early because I realized, only after sifting the dry ingredients, that I had no brown sugar. So, I substituted 3/4 cup of white sugar and - because brown sugar is moister than white - 1/4 cup of Lyles Golden syrup. It seems to have worked out just fine - texture, flavor and moisture are perfect. My other problem was trying to fit 3 batches in the stand mixer (2 just fit; you are forewarned).

I like this bread with walnuts, chocolate bits and craisins, so I added 3/4 cup of each. Finally, I have an assorted mishmosh of loaf pans. So, I made 3 mini loafs that took about 45 minutes to bake, one normal size which took about 50 minutes and one larger loaf pan that took about 70 minutes. All came out just fine.

I've been eating the bread for breakfast and tea (brought a mini in to the office) and I am feeling very holiday-ish. I am taking tomorrow off for shopping and cooking. Santa's Kitchen will be open for business. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Quicker Every Time

The nearly done diaper bag

Some of the sewists whose blogs I read talk quite a bit about their TNT patterns. These tried-and-true or tested-n-true patterns - usually a basic tee, pants, skirt, dress, etc. - are ones that they have fine-tuned the fit to their body and can be whipped-up relatively quickly time-and-again. Many sewists use their TNT patterns as a jumping off point for tinkering with other patterns. Why do extensive fitting of a new pants pattern when you can simply add the new style lines and features to your TNT pants?

I was thinking about my need for some TNT patterns over the weekend while I was sewing up the diaper bag for MarMar. The bag is nearly done. It just needs some finishing details (slip stitching, top stitching, etc). Each bag I've made has gone quicker and more smoothly than the previous one. If only I had a pants pattern like this - one that would come together more quickly and smoothly each time - I would own a lot more pants.

Stopping to try on, tinker with fit and make alterations really adds hours to a project. I'd love to know that a garment is going to fit beautifully from the get go and then tinker with the style a bit. I'm hoping that the pencil skirt that I am working on will be such a pattern. We'll have to see how it turns out.

Anyway, my wish list for TNT patterns is: PANTS, and then a skirt and basic tee shirt/knit top.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

M+C Experiment 2: Death by Mac + Cheese

Last night, at 9pm, Phineas and I left the house to take a walk. We were driven out into the cold, desperate to mitigate some of the damage inflicted on our waistlines and arteries by mac+cheese experiment #2. Oy!

Let me start at the beginning. I decided that I would try a custard-type mac+cheese recipe, since I am less familiar them. After reading a few different versions, I settled on the Cook's Illustrated recipe, based on John Thorne's original. Essentially, you do most of the work on the stove and then just crisp in the broiler. Perfect for a weeknight!

Yesterday, I arrived home ready to cook. But there was a package of bacon thawing on the counter. Apparently, Phineas did not get the memo re: my embargo on bacon. When I pointed out that the recipe called for 12 oz of cheddar, 6 tbsp of butter, a can of evaporated milk and 2 eggs - all for 1/2 a pound of pasta (cavatappi) - he relented and we compromised on adding 5 oz of cooked ham instead.

Basic preparations are: Brown 1c breadcrumbs in 2 tbsp butter while pasta cooks. Drain pasta and stir in 4tbsp butter until melted. Add mixture of evap milk, eggs, a dash of hot sauce, pepper, and most of the cheese to pasta and stir over a low heat until hot and thick (that is when I stirred in the ham).

Dump the pasta mixture into a casserole dish and top with bread crumbs and 1 oz reserved cheese. Pop under the broiler until toasted. Look how good it looks!

Changes to the recipe: Well, there was the ham. In addition, it called for more salt than I was willing to add to the cheese sauce since the ham would be salty enough. Also, I used 10 instead of 8 oz of pasta because I worried that it would be too rich otherwise.

The good: The breadcrumb topping was perfect. I had just used a hunk of italian bread sauteed in butter. It was crunchy and buttery - exactly what you would want. I also liked that the recipe was indeed easy for a weeknight (no long baking).

The bad:
The mac+cheese was so super-rich and heavy... it was too rich and heavy, even with the extra pasta added in. I'm not being demure here. You really couldn't eat a lot of it. I was done in a few fork-fulls. And, the cheddar flavor was near over-powering. It is the kind of extreme recipe that you use to show company how over-the-top rich you can make something, but it isn't the kind of mac+cheese that you could tuck into a big bowl of on a rainy night and feel a sense of comfort and calm. No. Definitely not. Cause then, you would be driven out into the rain for a walk.

The ugly: I took a small portion for lunch to work today. It doesn't reheat very well.

Final verdict: This also will not be my go-to recipe for the simple reason that I want some versatility - an ability to add what I have on hand and have a good reliable mac+cheese. I'm fairly certain I will never make this version again. And my arteries thank me. Oh well. Upward and onward!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A few Photos

Over the weekend I visited my parents, and used the opportunity to rescue a few photos from my mom's camera.

For those of you wanting to see me as Hermione Granger for Halloween, I've updated that post.

And here is a shot of me with my new nephew on Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Mac + Cheese Experiment Part 1: Mom's Recipe

I don't always give Mom Muse enough credit. She fed a family of 8 for years on limited means and without falling back on take-out or McD's. And some of us even got chubby on her cooking.

Revisiting the mac + cheese of my childhood seemed like a logical starting place for this experiment. So, on Saturday, the muses gathered for left over pies, favorite movies, and relaxation. And of course, I received a lesson on Mom Muse's idiosyncratic mac + cheese, which we made together to feed the crowd.

Mac + cheese is usually made by creating either a bechamel sauce to which cheese is added or by making a custard with the addition of eggs. My mom's recipe uses neither of these methods. And it doesn't have any kind of topping. Phineas was there to catch it on his iphone (not great quality, sorry). Here goes:

Grate 1lb cheddar cheese and cut 1lb velveeta into 1/2" cubes, while you cook 2lb of elbow macaroni.

Drain macaroni, and mix it with 2 small cans of tomato sauce. Then fill the cans with milk and add it in, too.
Next, layer the macaroni with the cheese in a deep casserole dish or dutch oven. Give it a stir to make sure the cheese is pretty evenly distributed.

Finally, take a peek in a corner of the casserole dish to see how much milk there is. The milk should come up about 2/3 of the side of the macaroni. We added a cup or so more milk at this point. Pat down the top of the casserole and put it in a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes - until golden and crispy on top and hot throughout.

The beauty of this dish is that it is simple to make and hearty to eat. It comes out having a very creamy and cheesy bottom layer and a crunchy, less gooey top layer. My mom explained that this satisfied both the kids (creamy/cheesy) and the adults (crispy/less gooey) in the family. She added, however, that everyone loved the gooey pockets of cheese created by the chunks of velveeta. Genius! Like I said, I don't always give my mom enough credit.

Final thoughts: Although I will always love my mom's mac + cheese, I don't think this will be my go-to recipe. I just don't see myself eager to make a mac + cheese with velveeta. Sure it melts well, but it lacks character. Plus, I believe I am healthier for limiting processed foods in my diet. If I am going to indulge in mac + cheese, I want a dish that is a bit more gussied up than mom's week night stand-by. (Although, I will never turn down a dinner invitation at my parents' when mom is making hers!)

Next up: I'm sifting through a slew of recipes and will have another take on mac + cheese next week.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Mac 'n' Cheese Experiment

While I was in Montreal, I had lunch at a Olive & Gourmando, a local favorite in the old part of town. It was a cold day, and I could not resist their mac + cheese. Served in a mini cast iron skillet, it had just the right ratio of creamy noodles to crunchy topping and crispy, stuck-to-the-pan cheese. What really elevated this dish was the addition of sauteed mushrooms. Delicious! And with a salad of lightly dressed greens, herbs and a smattering of nuts it was heaven.

Photo courtesy of Food Network (Alton Brown's recipe)

Of course this got me thinking about mac n cheese in general. I don't have a tried-and-true recipe in my arsenal, and this is troubling. (I think you can see where this is going.) So, for the next several weeks - as long as it takes - I am going to throw caution to the wind and indulge in a mac 'n' cheese experiment to find my ideal recipe.

Now, in thinking about this experiment, I have to draw some parameters, lest this become a multi-year project. The goal is not to make the richest, most over-the-top, or most unique variation of mac n cheese. Conversely, I am not trying for a "light" or "healthier" version. The goal is to find a great basic recipe that could be tinkered with in the future. So, all of you who immediately suggested that I include bacon in the recipe may be disappointed. (But please feel free to do that to your own arteries and report back.) That said, I am not promising that there will be no additions like the mushrooms that enhanced the Montreal mac + cheese. But they have to be things that will not deter me from making the recipe in the future - like cooking a pound of bacon and it's health implications most certainly would.

Finally, I will be testing different cheeses, but not any cheese that started it's life as powder. Apologies to those of you who are fans of the blue box. Does it have it's own special place in the pantry? Sure. Just not in mine. Anyway, I am looking for something that will emerge bubbling and golden from the oven and that rules out the blue box.

Anyway, tune in tomorrow for my first mac n cheese adventure.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Multi-tasking in the Craft Lounge

After pie baking, turkey trotting, eating lots of stuffing and battling a cold, I did find some time for sewing over the weekend. I have several projects going at the same time, and the Craft Lounge is a total disaster area. See...

After pinning and basting my 3 Graces shirt in a number of ways to try to make it fit right, I have decided to temporarily shelve it until I am not so peeved that I want to crumple it up and throw it in the trash. Really, I have spent way too much time on this project. I may give up on the sleeves and just finish it as a sleeveless top. I also retraced the pattern, scaling it back by 2 sizes and will probably attempt it again on some cheapo jersey as a test.

After my disappointment with the purple top, I decided to truly flirt with disaster by working on another Hot Patterns um.... pattern. I cut the lining for my pencil skirt. I know, I know, I should do a muslin first. But I just don't have enough hours in the day to make a muslin for every garment. So, I held my breath and cut the lining, which was not terribly expensive. We will call it a muslin. Lucky for me, it looks like it will fit with just minor adjustments (taken in at waist and let out slightly at hips). So, my gamble is paying off. I plan to transfer my alterations to the pattern so that when I cut the fabric, it will be perfect.

Finally, I am powering thru diaper bag #3 for Mar Mar. And it is a good thing, since Baby Abigail arrived a week early on Friday. Congrats to MarMar, Jay and the Big Brother. Um, my gift will arrive as soon as it has a lining and strap. Right now it is just an outside of a bag. And pockets. By this time, you know that diaper bags seem to be an exercise in pocket making.

Oh! And one more thing. I have finished disassembling Phineas' beloved pajamas. Let me tell you what a pain it is to undo flat-felled seams. For the non-sewists, that is the typical blue jeans seam - with 2 visible lines of stitching on the outside, which I am now going to have to learn how to do.

I plan on using the disassembled pj pieces as the pattern for cutting the new pj's since Phin wants his pajamas to be exactly the same as the old ones. These pj's were bought at the GAP about 10 years ago. I have to admit: I'm really rather impressed with their quality. They really held up over time. And once I got a look at the inside, they really were rather well made. I don't think GAP makes such nice clothing anymore.

Anyway, I've got lots going on as you can see, and tomorrow I will talk a bit about my next adventure in the test kitchen.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

All Hail the Snail!

39 or so minutes (unofficial time)
Running the whole way
Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Hmmm, maybe I won't be wearing this on Thanksgiving...

I basted my purple cowl neck 3 Graces top together last night. I had optimistically been thinking that I would wear it on Thanksgiving.

Yes, you will have to make do with a picture of the top on a hanger
rather than looking horrible on me.

That may have been premature. Once I finished basting, I tried the top on: too big. Shapeless. Baggy. Well, it did fit at the hip, but not anywhere else. I had cut a size 12 based on both my bust and underbust measurements.

I usually end up having to taper my tops at the waist. It's my normal adjustment to both the things I sew and to RTW. However, this top is too big at the shoulders, and I'm not yet sure how to fix it.

I think I will have to do some investigating at and elsewhere to see if others had this problem and what they did about it. Hopefully, in between pie baking tomorrow, I will find some time to work on it.

Thank goodness it is only basted together!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sequined Craft Lounge

On Saturday, Dr Kiang and I invaded Magenta's Sequined Studio for our day of crafting. Magenta and Dr K both have a lot of creative energy.

My pursuits - drafting a pattern for Magenta's summer pants and ripping out the seams of Phineas' favorite (but falling apart) pajamas - were very rote by comparison.

A forest of wooden beads being spray painted.

With the addition of some silver and gold spray paint, Magenta turned some colored wooden beads into a fabulous metallic necklace.

You can still see the original color inside the hole in each bead - tres cool! Magenta also once again proved that she can no longer claim to have no kitchen skills. The monkey bread she made for Dr K's birthday dinner was delicious!

Proof that Magenta can bake.
(Note the empty incriminating champagne bottle on the counter.)

Here's the birthday girl:

(Note the new necklace she made for herself.)

Once Dr K gets on a roll with making necklaces, she really goes at it. She ended up making 4 necklace - 3 gifts and the one for herself.

Top row: the 2 necklaces Magenta made.
Bottom: the 4 necklaces that Dr K made.

I'm always a bit lacking in the photography department, and somehow I didn't manage to get a picture of Magenta knitting up a storm, or any pictures of my projects. Oh well. I'll post about those projects at later stages.

Thanks for an excellent day, ladies!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday Muse-ings

So right now, Dr Kiang is en route to Magenta's for the weekend. I will be joining them tomorrow for a "pre-holiday jewelry making party with a box of stuff we have 'hanging around' our drawers and craft rooms". We'll also be celebrating Dr K's birthday.

Magenta has big plans for her jewelry making and Dr K is just going to see what inspiration hits her. I, on the other hand, won't actually be making jewelry, since that is more their thing than mine. Instead, I'll be working on a pattern for M's perfect summer pants, which she has been incredibly patient about.

I hope you have great weekend plans too!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Drapey Top for a Muse

Muse-like, no?

I spent an hour last night working on my 3 Graces top. This is the first knit project that I've done on my wonderful new sewing machine. It took a bit of playing around to decide on the stitch type/length/tension before I was ready to sew.

Also, I had to interface the neckband facing. I recently bought interfacings from Fashion Sewing Supply after they had received praise in the sewing blogosphere. Their pro-knit interfacing is definitely better quality than what I'd been using- I guess you get what you pay for. It went on easy and stabilized without compromising the stretchiness of the bamboo jersey.

Ready to sew, I finally took a look at the directions. Hmmm... Hot Patterns instructions are what I would tactfully call "minimalist". Even the diagrams are rather spare. To be honest, I'm not entirely sure I would have done the neck/shoulders correctly on the first try if I had not watched the series of Youtube videos on the construction of the top.

I'm not saying that the construction was difficult. It wasn't. Really, the directions and accompanying illustrations just aren't very specific. That said, I'm really pleased with how the top is turning out. I've only completed the neck and shoulder seams, but the draping looks really good. This may be overly optimistic, but I am hoping to squeeze in a little sewing tonight, after a run. Wish me luck on both.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Freeeeeeeeezer Funnnnnnnnnnnn!!!!!!

Phineas here. As you may or may not know, I will freeze anything! Chocolate, taters, pies, dumplings, you name it and I 've frozen, defrosted and eaten it . When you don't want to cook, it's nice to just reach in the freezer and have a yummy meal in minutes. So the latest version of freezer-to-table cooking involved some short ribs that I braised a few weeks ago but, because of our schedules, never managed to eat. Into the freezer it went! Wanting something different than the usual short ribs with mash (we just had our pre-Turkey Day turkey the night before), I decided to make some quick short rib ravioli.

First, I made fresh pasta dough and rolled it out into sheets for the ravioli. (I know this is not exactly fast, but wonton sheets from the supermarket will also do just fine.)

While resting the dough, I shredded and reheated the short ribs, reducing it in its sauce until it became the consistency of sticky Sloppy Joes (hmmm... now there's an idea!). Next up, fill the wonton/ravioli and cut to size. No directions here, but you can make them as big or as small as you like. Let them hang out while you boil some agua and make a quick sauce.

Tonight's sauce was sauteed garlic, shallot and mushrooms tossed with butter and roasted grape tomatoes (1. cut up a container of tomatoes, add some chopped garlic - season with salt and pepper and drizzle with a healthy dose of oil/your choice 2. place in a 300 or so degree oven or toaster oven 3. stir every so often until it becomes a sticky reduced chutney-like substance 4. use in recipe or put on sandwiches instead of yucky out of season tomatoes or mayo, which is super-yucky in Clio's opinion).

Cook the ravioli, toss in pan with sauce and voila dinner is served!

P.S. Easier version (assuming you have cooked short ribs around) : Cook up sauce. Add reduced and shredded short ribs. Got a bag or frozen peas? Toss a handful of those in to heat through. Dress your favorite fresh or dried pasta (papparadelle would work great) or frozen cheese ravioli. Shower with parmesan or pecorino cheese and eat!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Multi-tasking: Domestic Goddess for the Weekend

Cutting out my purple bamboo top

I did eventually arrive home on Friday evening. And I had a rare weekend without any plans, so I took full advantage and got down to sewing and cooking projects.

I traced the first several patterns for my wardrobe project, cut the Hot Patterns 3 Graces top (cowl neck version) out of my purple bamboo, and cut out the next of my many diaper bags. This will be a messenger style bag, like the very first one I did this year. This is the fabric:

Thankfully, there is only one more diaper bag to go after this one. I also fused some great hair canvas interfacing to the appropriate pieces.Essentially, I am ready to sew both the purple top and the diaper bag.

On the cooking front, I made and froze all of my Thanksgiving pie crusts. And I whipped up a batch of breakfast cookies.

I also ran 3.3 miles on Sunday afternoon - without stopping! - all in one go! So, it looks like I am ready for race day.

Sigh. It's good to be home.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Stuck in the airport

Well, here I am in the Montreal airport while my flight is delayed. After changing the departure for the second time, they actually did board us. Then they pushed back our departure again by so much that they decided to de-board again - a hint that maybe we will not be leaving any time soon?

So here I am in the airport bar with 22 oz of the local brew. (hint taken. thanks.) That is the small size, by the way. The other option was 34 oz.

All of this is an immense tease. Sewing projects are waiting for me at home. Yet here I am in the airport. And if the size of the beer is any indication, there is little hope that I will be in any shape to sew once I do make it home. What's a girl to do? Sigh.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Fall Wardrobe Project: Planning

After last weekend's PR outing, I'm all jazzed up about my wardrobe project, and am pouting a bit that I can't get started. I won't be home from my business trip to Toronto and Montreal until Friday.

Over the last few weeks, I've been buying up fabrics and amassing zippers, buttons, interfacings and linings. In fact, on Sunday night I did a major re-org of the Craft Lounge so that it won't be a disaster area when I'm ready to get down to sewing. I just need one or two more pieces of fabric and notions, but other than that, I am just about ready.

I will be making 3-4 knit tops, a pencil skirt, a sheath dress, 3 pairs of trousers and a hobo bag, roughly in that order. I might run into trouble along the way, since all of the patterns I am using are new to me. If I do, I'll revise my plans. But here is how things ought to go.

I'll be making this purple bamboo from Mood and this black jersey from Metro into the Three Graces shirts from Hot Patterns. I've never worked with bamboo fabric before.

I've been planning on making this very fun plaid with silver splashes into a pencil skirt since the spring. It's time to get going on this one. Photos don't do justice, but the fabric has a lot of dark brown (espresso?) in it. It really pops with the purple bamboo.

I confess that I have always had sheath dress envy. I've never really been able to buy a fitted dress off the rack because my top and bottom are just different sizes. So, I am making myself a sheath out of this beautiful Vera Wang Lavender Label boucle suiting. It really is lovely in person. I plan to do view B of this pattern:

And finally, pants. As you know, pants are my arch-nemesis.

But I have three beautiful fabrics. On the far left is a light grey wool suiting from Metro Textiles, that Kashi says is from the Loro Piana mill in Connecticut. It feels gorgeous. In the middle is black tropical weight wool suiting, also from Metro. And on the right is the mystery, possibly Armani fabric from my mom.

What is left to buy is a piece of ultrasuede or faux leather to make into a hobo bag. Also, I need to decide on another fabric or two (I'm waffling on colors), and pattern or two for tops. Black and purple is fine, but I definitely feel the need to inject more color into this mini wardrobe since it is very grey/silver, black and white.

So, there you have it. And here I am still in Montreal for another day. Pining for my sewing machine. Sigh.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Tortoise and the Snail... on a treadmill...

In the fabled race between the tortoise and the hare, the tortoise - through his superior patience and persistence - wins. However, I am not a tortoise. I am a snail: an even slower runner than the tortoise. But I run. And I'm making progress.

Now that I am attuned to my inner snail, I have ramped down my pace on the treadmill and am finally doing a bit better. It has also helped immensely that Phineas has revamped my workout in the last few weeks leading up to the 5k Turkey Trot, prioritizing the distance covered over the pace. For whatever reason, I found watching the seconds tick by grueling, whereas watching the miles click away is ok. And on my most recent outdoor run, I ran 2.4 miles, walked for one minute, and then completed the 5k (3.1m). So we are nearly there.

Even though I will not be breaking any land-speed records, I am looking forward to my Turkey Day Trot, which I will most likely finish only slightly faster than I could walk it. And naturally, I am looking forward to the pie that will follow. For the record, this snail prefers pecan.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Pattern Review Day NYC!

I was a bit nervous going to Pattern Review Day in NYC on Saturday. Pattern Review is an online forum for sewists to chat about sewing and review patterns, books and equipment. Think Rotten Tomatoes, but for the needle-and- thread set. This was an opportunity to meet with some of the people whose blogs I follow and shop with like-minded individuals in the Garment District.

I was feeling self conscious about not wearing anything I've made. Most of the clothing I made for myself is very summery, and so out of the question. But I was welcomed into the fold, met lots of great people (many of whom were wearing beautiful things they'd made), picked up some great bits of advice and scored some excellent fabric with a special Pattern Review Day 20% discount. Nancy K summed up the day really well on her blog, so I won't give the blow-by-blow. But here is what I scored.

Phineas has a pair of favorite pajamas, which are falling apart. See...

Right. You don't want to see the hems either. Anyway, we've had a few talks about how these pj's need replacing. But, after all these years, they are so buttery soft and broken in that he is reluctant to let go of them. Also, I had not been able to find any really good match for the fabric. Until, that is, I went to Rosen & Chaddick, which carries only the best of everything. Next time I want $127/yd wool suiting, this is where you will find me shopping. But on Saturday, they also had a beautiful 100% cotton, in the same blue and white stripe pattern as the pj's in question. In fact, it could be the same cloth.

New fabric (background) and old (foreground).

So, Phin will be getting new pj's. I know, I know. There is always one more gift to make for someone else before sewing for myself. But without Phineas, I wouldn't have my wonderful new sewing machine. So, I am making an exception here.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Done Done Done!

So, the diaper bag for my sister-in-law is done. So is the matching changing pad. Here it is:



Changing pad


The bag came together quickly and easily. And it looks just as good, and I hope will be just as functional, as the last one. I have just two bags left to make. Whew! And then the factory is closed!

I'm off to Canada for work for the week tomorrow morning. But I have lots to blog about including Pattern Review Day in NY, all the gorgeous fabrics I bought in the last week or so, and my upcoming wardrobe project. SO, be sure to stay tuned.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Muse Day in the Big City

On Wednesday, Erato and I played hookie and spent our day museum-ing, lunching and shopping in the garment district. It was a perfect day - great plans, excellent company and gorgeous fall weather!

We started the day with breakfast at Mon Petit Cafe. As we were leaving to head to the Met, we spotted a button store - Tender Buttons - across the street. What a gorgeous little jewel of a store, and what an auspicious start to our fabric shopping day!

We hit the Met to see the Vermeer's Milkmaid exhibit. I love Vermeer and find something exceptional about every one of his paintings. But then we were off again to stroll thru Central Park - all gold and orange this Autumn - and make our way down to the Garment District for the real fun!

My goal was to buy fabrics for my wardrobe project, which I'll talk about next week. I also wanted Erato to go to a few of the stores that don't have storefronts, so that she would be comfortable seeking out and shopping at these kinds of places in the future. We hit Mood, MetroTextiles, Greenberg & Hammer, NY Elegant Fabrics, and Paron Fabrics, although, by that time we were pretty spent. Here we are at NY Elegant Fabrics.

"Think of how many muppets had to die for this fur!" - Erato

Only scandalous thoughts come to mind when I see see-thru orange vinyl.

Exhaused from our shopping, we decided it was time for a martini and then dinner. We had both been wanting to try Prune for quite a while and, at least for me, it lived up to my expectations. Both Erato and I can be adventurous eaters, and Prune does not play it safe. I'll leave it at that.

Anyway, we had so much fun that we have decided that we have to make our day off together a seasonal - or at least spring and fall - event. Hooray!