Sunday, March 29, 2015

Why I May Never Need to Buy Salad Dressing Again

The Hot Italian and I have been doing a fairly liberal "low carb" diet since Christmas. The main impetus for this diet was to get hubby's heartburn under control. After a bit of research we determined that this may be the main reason for his nasty heartburn and decided to give it a try. Three months in and hubby's heartburn is much more manageable. Also, I've lost most of my baby weight (down 12 pounds since Christmas with 5 pounds to go).

Salad became a regular addition to our dinner table and thanks to pinterest I found what I think may be the perfect salad dressing.

At least half of the cooking I do is just winging it with what I have on hand (made much easier by the fact that I have a well-stocked pantry and spice rack), so I was able to modify this recipe which has become a staple.

And in case you want to see a small portion of my spice rack...all my spices are stored right inside the pantry door on the wall - a 3 inch deep space that seems made for this purpose.

But you really just want my recipe, right?

Creamy Balsamic Vinaigrette

Mix all ingredients in a container and store in the refrigerator

1-2 tsp crushed garlic (I always keep a jar from Trader Joe's)
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp sugar or other sweetener (I'm using stevia right now)
2 tsp salt
3/4 c olive oil

The container I'm using to mix my dressing in isn't quite big enough for all the ingredients, so I just add enough oil to fill it up and go from there. I've been making this at least once a month and we're still not sick of it.

Monday, March 23, 2015

It's March, How are your Resolutions?

Remember when I quietly announced that I was going to challenge myself to reduce my fabric stash? Well, I almost gave up on this resolution because I got behind on my tracking. But I've addressed that and I'm here to report on my progress.

First off, I did a little spring cleaning and got rid of about 20 yards of fabric. So that should put me ahead for the year, but let's just assume that didn't happen. How has my sewing/buying ratio stacked up so far?

I am ahead for the year, but only because I was so productive in January. What's been going on since then? Well, I went back to work at the end of January so my life is a lot busier than it was before. And naptime has become studying time because I'm preparing to take the PE exam in mid April. I generally like to sew in big chunks of time rather than 30 minutes here and there. I'm probably going to have to change that for this season of my life because my little one needs me more than every 4 or 5 hours.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Special Boy, Special Day, Special Outfit

In the LDS (aka Mormon) tradition babies are named and blessed in our Sunday meeting. I was so excited to make our Little D something special to wear for his special day.

I started with McCall's 6221 View E (Simplicity 2447 is very similar). Little D was on the border between newborn and size Small and I made the Small, lengthening the legs to a size Medium because he is tall.

I used a Robert Kaufman linen from my stash for the main fabric. I also had this Robert Kaufman Radiance (Silk/Cotton Blend) in my stash which I used for the vest overlay and a small flat piping accent on the sleeves.
The flat piping in the sleeve was not a feature of the pattern, but I thought it was a cute accent. I simply folded the hem under toward the outside of the sleeve and inserted the piping at the fold and topstitched. I did this in the flat before sewing the underarm seam.

Tiny sleeves are really hard to set, so to make it a little easier I trimmed the seam allowance for the sleeve seam to 3/8" before setting. This made it much easier, though still a little tricky.

The vest is interfaced with Pellon Shapeflex to give it a little extra body. The collar and leg bands are interfaced with some weft interfacing I purchased last year at the Sewing and Stitchery Expo in Puyallup.
I used some cotton shirting for the undercollar, the lining, and the bias binding on the snap crotch. I had some size 15 Dritz snaps in my stash and used my SnapSetter to set them. Even though the SnapSetter is for size 16 snaps it worked well. I do feel that the snaps from Snap Source are better than the Dritz I hate to pay for shipping and I had the Dritz on hand. If this were something that would get a lot of wear, I would definitely buy snaps from Snap Source.

We had a lunch at our place afterward and I was so busy that I didn't get any good photos of the little guy in his outfit, but we did get a family photo with my side of the family. Unfortunately the Costanzo cousins were all sick, so they were not with us that day.

Disclosure: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Less Time Cooking = More Time Sewing

Last week I reached an all time low in my efforts as a homemaker.

"Honey, how hungry are you tonight?" In my shame to admit that I simply didn't feel like cooking I tried to get the Hot Italian to volunteer that he really just wanted cereal for dinner.

We never eat cereal for dinner. We eat leftovers all the time, but never cereal.

"You can just say that you don't feel like making dinner tonight," my sweet hubby reassured me.

I had a bowl of Golden Grahams. I don't even know what the Hot Italian had.

I do enjoy cooking most of the time, but I am a simple cook. Our dinners usually consist of two dishes; three dishes is fancy, and four is unheard of. The Hot Italian usually appreciates this because he is the dish washer at our house.

Several weeks ago I happened on a new website with a treasure trove of crockpot freezer recipes on Pinterest. I'm a little wary about recipes on the internet because they seem pretty hit and miss, but I was able to find several that fit our eating habits so I decided to give them a try. Of course I made this decision on the night that the Hot Italian was at school, so I towed the little one to the grocery store with me to pick up a few things and then spent a couple hours in the kitchen with the babe in the Bjorn to keep him content during the meal prep.

I tried five recipes and I only made one batch of each because I didn't want to be stuck with anything I didn't like.

Mexican Chicken Soup

I made this recipe with a few modifications. I had some precooked turkey breast from Costco, so I put approximately one pound of diced turkey breast in place of the chicken. I also used a can of diced tomatoes in place of the tomato juice. We had this last night and it was definitely one that I will repeat.

Turkey and White Bean Kale Soup

I used a pouch of Good Seasons Italian Dressing mix and again used the precooked turkey breast. This was our least favorite of the recipes we tried. I might try it again with turkey sausage and see if I like it more or I might just stick with the ones we know we like. I feel like it needs more seasonings to make it really good.

Honey Sesame Chicken

I made this one with no modifications. It was good and we'll make it again. I've already got another batch or two in the freezer.

Red Pepper Chicken

This recipe has a southwest flair. We both liked it and we've had it a few times. I was surprised that you didn't have to add any liquid in this recipe. The second time I made it I added a few canned stewed tomatoes and it was good that way too.

Beef Roast and Carrots

This was the ultimate comfort food. The carrots turned out sooo yummy.  I used two tablespoons of McCormick Mesquite Seasoning as our seasoning and it was perfect. Again I was surprised that no liquid was required and it cooked up so moist and tender.

The only thing I have to remember to do is put it in the fridge the night before and get it in the crockpot before I leave for work in the morning.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Senna Tote

I loved this senna tote pattern when I first discovered it and bought it sometime last year when they had a 50% off special at Willow & Co.

I don't make bags very often. I can't even remember the last time I made a bag. But I loved this bag design so much I bought the pattern.

I was most concerned about how to put the zipper in the curve but it went together very nicely. This is a thick bag, which is why it has such a nice structure to it. It has canvas interlining in addition to the quilt cotton being interfaced with fusible interfacing. My Bernina 350 did great even on the bulkiest seams. 

I used a quilt cotton from my stash and a piece of gold leather from The bag is lined with black Kona Cotton (also in the stash), which I also used for the straps. At this point shown above when I was basting all the layers together I got out my walking foot to keep the layers from shifting. It helped a bunch. Although I'm not much of a quilter I am surprised at how useful I find my walking foot to be. It was also great for sewing on the leather because it doesn't stick to the leather surface.
I was able to make this bag in a day, between nursing Little D. Then I put it on my dresser in my room to show off to The Hot Italian. 

"What are you going to use it for?" he asked. 

"I have no idea," I replied. 

Silly hubby...since when does sewing need to be practical?

I actually took it to a sewing class today. It was perfect for my little stash of supplies. It would also make a great diaper bag if I didn't already have one.

It's a great size. I only wish the straps were just a little longer. It's pretty snug under my arm when I put it over my shoulder.

I guess I'll have to make another one to determine the ideal strap length.

Baby Shoes: Simplicity 2491

It's true that babies don't need shoes until they start walking, but they sure are cute aren't they?

I bought this leather from a month or so ago. I didn't have anything in mind for it, but I bought a half yard to get my order up to $35.00 to qualify for free shipping. Do you ever do that? I do it all the time and maybe I shouldn't.

I wanted to try making baby shoes just for fun, and since I'm still on maternity leave for a little over a week and sewing is more fun than housework I've been filling nap times with sewing projects.

I used Simplicity 2491 view C. I scanned through the instructions and then kind of did my own thing. Because the leather already had some weight to it, I used the heat'n bond to just fuse a layer of Kona Cotton to the back instead of the recommended felt. And instead of the ribbon and velcro I put a 3" piece of 1/2" fold over elastic (FOE) through the front flap. 

I made the XS size which is supposed to be 4" long. When I measured my little D's foot it was about 3.5" so I knew that they would be a little big. Little D is 2 months old and still pretty little even for his age, so these were pretty big on him. They stay on his feet with the elastic in them, but I haven't given them a full day's audition yet to see how well they stay. The truth is Little D doesn't have much use for gold shoes and I have a small piece of black leather in my stash, so we might see if his cousin Sissy B can wear these and I'll make him a black pair.

In any case this was a fun and easy project. I'm still thinking about seeing if I can modify this pattern into a pair of those cute but oh-so-pricey moccasins that are so popular right now.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Camera Adds 10 lbs, The Baby Added 20

A fourth trimester wardrobe is definitely a thing and I'm thinking more and more about it as I ponder what I'll be wearing when I go back to work in a few weeks.

This is what I'm wearing today, a knit top I made either pre-pregnancy or very early in my pregnancy and my black twill maternity pants.

The top is Simplicity 1463 made with a fairly thin cotton/poly knit from Nuttall's. If I make this again I will make it an inch longer. I did make another version of this top in a polyester slinky knit and I didn't like the way it hung, so I'll stick to something with a more cottony feel to it if I make it again. I think that this top was intended to have a looser fit, but I'm still working on my baby weight and I think it's alright for now.

The pants are a modification of the Sewaholic Thurlow Trouser. I used a pant pattern with a slim leg to modify the legs, omitted the fly, and used a 3 inch elastic encased in cotton rib knit for the waistband. This elastic is about $4.00 a yard at my local fabric store, but I got 12 yards of it for $12.50 from Wawak. I didn't lower the front rise at all like some maternity patterns do and they worked great until about 6 or 7 months into the pregnancy. As you can see, they also work postpartum and really could be a great comfy option for any time at all (Thanksgiving dinner anyone?).