Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Turkeys, Afterwards

8:21pm  Thanksgiving evening.

I asked for, and got, the two turkey carcasses from our extended family Thanksgiving today. Thanks, Aunt Elena! After the long drive home, I fixed them up for their long simmer into stock.

Everyone is settling down gratefully- children listening to their daddy read Pooh and Piglet next room room over, me in my pajamas, the cold night outside. I have everything to be thankful for.

How was your Thanksgiving?

Friday, November 22, 2013

Yogurt for Infinity

I have been making yogurt for years.  I used to refresh the starter every few batches with some freeze-dried yogurt starter or a new cup of plain yogurt from the store.

Then I read in Sandor Katz' book that these are commercially controlled starters, and it's possible to acquire wilder starters that are self-regenerating if properly fed.

Consequently, I bought a Bulgarian yogurt starter online (here) this summer.  As long as I remember to save a little yogurt and make a fresh batch every week or so, I will never need to "refresh" my starter by buying something again.  I love this independence (which comes with the caution to keep the Bulgarian starter alive!).

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Construction Pajamas for Ben

Ben had a pair of pajamas that looked like capri bottoms with an elbow-sleeve top.  They weren't meant to be that style. Suddenly, he's taller!

I had a length of flannel with construction stuff all over it, purchased at a thrift store for $2 for this very purpose.  I added 4" to the length in the pattern so hopefully the pajamas will grow with him.  I used bias tape (like last time) to finish the cuffs to make them look nicer when they're turned up.

Good morning, G! in your thrifted rosebud long johns

Because of the length, I decided to add another button, but I only had 4 blue buttons. So I took a little orphan gold star button (left from this dress) and used it as the top button.

It's been my shopping experience that children's pajamas are not cheap or cute (see Genevieve wearing her exception above).  I'm pleased with these jammies because they are inexpensive and nice.  Ben is pleased because I made them and they're covered in trucks and traffic cones.

The first morning after he wore his new pajamas to bed, I asked him if he had any dreams, which is a mild morning conversation starter around here.  Ben said yes, he had dreams about trucks.  "And those dreams were noisy, Mom!" But he was grinning.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Warm French Lentil Salad

I took some photos of supper tonight because it's a delicious recipe and I thought I had not blogged about this recipe before.

Apparently I have now written so many blog posts that I don't remember them.

The original post, with recipe, is here. The current photos are much nicer (and I hope that Santa is paying attention to the new lens I have my eye on for even nicer photos in the future; actually, I just nudged my husband to pay attention).

I see that I add a bay leaf to the lentils now.  I've been enamored with bay leaves for a few months.

I almost always use celery instead of a fennel bulb and red wine vinegar instead of lemon slices.

I highly recommend this recipe for its ease, elegance, and nutrition. Pretty cheap, too, unless you're lavish with the walnuts and cheese.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

The Happy Wallet

I needed to replace my vinyl, 6-year old wallet.  I decided to use this pattern (Diva Frame Clutch).  In addition to the pattern, I had to buy the metal clasp frame, which cost about $10 as well.

I was dubious. I like a highly functioning wallet.  I carry a lot of things in my wallet besides just money, and I despise fumbling around for them or having them dumped all together.

I pondered the color choices for a long time because I wanted to feel happy carrying this wallet no matter what style mood I was in (I'm sure I'm not the only one who veers from simple to boho to lacy to outdoorsy).  After doing this solid-color patchwork, I feel like I want to get rid of all the prints in my stash and just collect solid colors.  I love the color play that much.

I am proud to say that this wallet came entirely from my scrap stash. I did not buy fabric for it, nor did I cut into dress-lengths of fabric.

The pattern was a little unclear at points, but I made notes on it for next time because I'm pretty sure there will be a next time. My sister wants one. And yes, after about 2 weeks of use, I love mine.  I get a happy little jolt every time I pull it out of my bag.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Feeling Perky

I'm joking:  I don't personally feel perky, but I love our new percolator.

Our old drip coffeemaker (one of those free Gevalia ones from the late 90s) was feeble and plastic.  We wanted to see if we could avoid plastic, but our French press is only 8 cups and you have to do the 2-step boil and pour and the coffee cools off. We're lazy, I'm afraid (I call it efficient).

Meanwhile, my uncle left his vintage percolator in our car by accident, so we tried it out and absolutely loved it.

Delicious coffee: strong, not bitter.  Stays hot for a long time without burning.  No filters, no plastic.  Classy exterior.  Sold!

We love it.

And to return the beginning of the post, I am feeling the creep of holiday busy stress already.  My shoulders are high and tight and I'm waking up early with too many niggling details on my mind.  I'm following standard practices I've learned the hard way over the years:  exercise, sunshine on my face, prayer, sleep, being kind to myself, and saying NO to anything extra.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

A Peasant Blouse

 Genevieve is modeling her new peasant blouse. I loved making the gathered parts on the front and back. This was new to me: bias tape channels on the inside, insert shorter elastic, match the channel and the elastic ends (thus the gathers), and sew both ends down together. Fun!


The not-fun part was the front keyhole, which seems unecessary for style or dressing ease.  Also, for some mistake that I made that I can't trace, one shoulder seam is front farther than the other one, but fortunately, the plaid hides it and the neckline shape is not affected.

Fabric and pattern given to me, everything else from my stash. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

On Finding Big Tablecloths

The best source for big tablecloths that I have found is the home dec section of the fabric store.  Wait for a good sale and know your table's measurements; I wrote mine down on a slip of paper I keep in my tablecloth drawer. 

Choose a cotton fabric that has some drape, but is not sheer - really, just run your hand over the samples at the store and think "tablecloth? tablecloth? tablecloth?" 

After the fabric is cut to the length you need, all you do at home is hem the thing.  You can be fancy and do a rolled hem, or you can do what I did here:  a zig zag stitch on the raw edge and turned up once with a topstitch.  The people who normally gather around my table are not likely to examine the hems on my tablecloths; I like to think I am a much better cook than that!

It's not my blog style to iron before photos. 

This is my new tablecloth for the dining room table with one board in it.  I had plenty of tablecloths for no-board status (72x55") and two for two-board status (108x55"), but none for one board (90x55").  At a sale at the fabric outlet, I got this fabric/tablecloth for $15.  I was quite happy with that price and the tailored look.  And Mr. Thrift admired it, too; oh happy day when we agree on home decor!

Any tips on where you find nice, big tablecloths that don't cost a fortune?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A Year With the Lunch Buckets

My children are very hard on these lunch buckets - besides carrying lunch in them every day, the children wallop the buckets around by their handles, drag them on the floor, and wear them. 

After about 12 months of use and several hand-washings, Genevieve's had a frayed spot.  The handle on Ben's bucket had frayed in a few spots, but that was my fault for cutting off too much of the seam inside.  In both, the vinyl tablecloth lining was totally shot, but it was a used tablecloth to begin with.  I decided to renovate the lunch pails.
one of the worn out linings - they were shredded and gross

I got oilcloth this time, an orange kaleidoscope pattern to use in both.  I thought I could make a more attractive pail for Genevieve, but I kept most of Ben's pail and just made a new liner for it.

 I really appreciated LiEr's pattern all over again for its clear instructions and explanations.  Much better than another self-published pattern that I used recently and will show you as soon as I get the project photographed.
Now I'm curious to see how long the renovated lunch buckets hold up.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Cheeseburger: Paradise

I love this Cheeseburger Roll so much because it tastes like McDonald's.  It's true, even though I don't eat fast food anymore.  Secondly, I love this Cheeseburger Roll because it's homemade, delicious, and reasonably healthy.

Back in high school, I would whisk through the Micky-D's drive-thru right after school to get a $.99 hamburger before I went to my restaurant job. 

This recipe brings me that taste memory, the blue Dodge Shadow (stick shift!), and the brown apron I wore as a salad bar attendant.

Don't be afraid of the yeast dough here - this is one of the easiest doughs to mix up and it's not fussy in any aspect.  And don't forget the sesame seeds (McDonald's!).

Here, I served the Roll with roasted potatoes and a green salad.  But sometime, I'm going to rock out the homemade milkshakes and fries. 

Cheeseburger Roll - tweaked from Alica
Makes a 15-18" roll, enough to serve 6-8

An hour-and-a-half before you want to eat it, make the dough and filling:

In a mixing bowl, whisk:
1 c. warm water
1 Tbsp. oil
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. instant yeast

Add 1 cup flour.

Whisk again.

Use hands to stir in 2 cups more flour (I use half whole wheat or all white whole wheat flour).  Knead until smooth.  Grease dough and bowl.  Cover.  Set aside to rise 45-60 minutes.

Also, at this time, I prepare the filling.  It needs to be cool to go in the dough (you could also prepare it a day or so ahead of time and keep it in the fridge).

Fry together:
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 c. diced onion

Drain off grease.  Mix in:
1/4 c. ketchup
1/4 c. regular yellow prepared mustard  (if you use another kind of mustard, it won't taste like McDonald's - probably still good, but doesn't scratch the taste memory itch for me)
1/4 c. finely diced dill pickles

When mixed (and cooled slightly), add 1 c. shredded cheddar cheese.  Set aside.

When ready to bake, roll out dough to 12x18" rectangle.  Spread cooled filling over dough.  Roll up, starting at long side, jelly-roll style.  Place seam-side down on greased baking pan. Brush with water or oil and sprinkle with sesame seeds.  Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes until a good tan color.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

More Vintage-Style Hotpads

I seized on a hotpad during my mother's recent redding out and packing.  I loved its rounds of corduroy, houndstooth, and bright turquoise blanket-stitch.

Inspired, I used some squares of my cutter quilt and blanket-stitched the edges with maroon perle cotton. For extra charm, I put a little tie in each patch.

The hotpads I made are for sale in my etsy shop, and the original is in heavy rotation in my kitchen.

Another vintage hotpad inspired me not long ago:  see it here.

Happy Saturday, friends!  I'm humming along on sewing projects - I'll share more in upcoming posts.