Friday, May 22, 2015

a little bit of :: these days

front garden
in the morning

:: I'm glad today is Friday

:: parts of the garden are booming, but others... not so much.

:: I'm enjoying stitching on the bus - cross stitch & english paper piecing

:: Lukas has been enjoying some shorter working days

:: online fabric play never get's old.  Care to vote?  I got another mosaic chosen!  

:: looking forward to a long weekend and picking out fabrics from my stash for more sewing projects.  This time I'm going to finally tackle the Everyday Skirt and a yoga-band skirt {I've had fabric for this for YEARS}.  Maybe I'm being a bit too ambitious.  

:: we've watched the Warriors win two close games.  Last night's seemed improbably in the last seconds.

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

bright ocean :: loud kitty {mosaic challenge}

bright ocean :: mosaic challenge
bright ocean
I just couldn't help myself. As much as I may bemoan my inability to pick out fabrics in a timely fashion, it's one of my favorite parts of sewing. So challenge posted... challenge accepted!

I've been on a 'various shades of blue' kick lately. I love them all together, with the variations it can't help but feel like cool waters. This grouping reminds me of the layers of different blues in the ocean.  I grew up going to the beach in northern California - those grey-blue waters I knew well. When I was in high school I went to summer camp that took us all along the more southern coast of the state. I remember calling my parents from a pay-phone on the road and exclaiming how I'd never seen such BLUE water.

Ok, I really couldn't help myself... here's a second fabric mosaic...

loud kitty :: mosaic challenge
loud kitty

This one is just for fun. Well, they both are, but this one I didn't feel as strong about as a group of fabrics. Still, it makes me happy seeing the lions with the striped kitties. The coral with the teal is also a fun, loud combination.  And I've got my own 'loud kitty' and that makes me smile.  

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Sunday safari :: one day dress

one day dress

I can count on one hand the number of things I've sewn to wear. One was my wedding dress - which I had major help with. One was a refashioned pair of jeans into a skirt. Does that count? The other three items were also skirts, with varying degrees of wearability. Yet still, with this less than stellar track record, I was determined to sew something for myself when Rachel {of stitched in color} announced a knit fabric challenge sponsored by the Fabricworm.

I was so surprised and excited {like totally made my day} when I heard that Rachel had picked me for this challenge. My track record didn't have me scared - I'd heard knit can be pretty forgiving.  And stretch! No need for major olympics to get something to fit right. So I was off and running to nail down my plan. I thought immediately - tank dress.  Something simple and just in time for the summer weather we're already having.

This was the tutorial that got me thinking. It seemed easy enough and that it'd be a quick sew. Just what I needed.  For the binding and more tips on sewing the tank portion I found this tutorial by Anna {at Noodle-Head}. I drafted my tank pattern from an Old Navy tank that I wear a bunch. If you combined the drafting, cutting, and sewing time I probably spent just about a day working on this dress.  Hence, the 'one day dress'.

I had the hardest time picking out fabric, but what's new? It was slightly easier since I didn't have the universe of fabrics to choose from. For this challenge we picked fabrics from Birch Organics.  After much deliberations I chose these two.

one day dress :: details

I had planned to put the print on the top and the solid on the bottom and after seeing the fabrics in person I thought that was still a good idea.  The print was a bit more substantial, with a better stretch recovery.  Better for the top side, I thought. I got it washed and ready to go right away - then it was a matter of tracing a pattern for the top, cutting, and stitching.

one day dress :: details

It came together easily and pretty quickly too. And yes, knit is forgiving. My stitching wasn't perfect but not that you can tell once its on.  That's the test of a winner... is it on?  I finished up sewing just in time to have Lukas snap a few photos, then I was off to hot yoga.  After my shower, the dress went right back on.  That's the sign of a winner, right?

one day dress
Never one to be serious.

Monday, May 11, 2015

blogging for books :: a modern way to eat

Just out of the box, Lukas had already given this new cookbook, A Modern Way to Eat, two strikes against. All vegetarian?! The second strike being the cover. I think he described it pretty spot-on when he said something along the lines of, "This lady looks like she's not excited about the food. Instead, she's stuck her fork in it and now is wondering what to do with it." But... then he paged through and the quality of the pages and photography were a point in favor. And then... I cooked from it and that was the deciding vote.

The first thing I made were these little pizzas. The dough got an extra tasty crunch from smashed hazelnuts. The topping was simple and delicious - I just needed to be sure each little pizza was piled high enough before going into the oven. That spinach certainly shrinks down.  The other trick was transferring from the cutting board to the pizza stone.  But since these were just little pizzas I could fold up the edges and quickly gather and move them to the hot hot stone.  Not perfect, but it worked.

a modern way to eat :: blogging for books

I've also made a flavor-filled dal with toasted sweet potatoes. This was perfect with some garlic nan from TJ's and the sweet potatoes were such a tasty addition. On tap today... I think I'll give another pizza a try. This one uses cauliflower and almond meal in the crust. I hear cauliflower crusted pizzas get a bad rap but I'm keeping an open mind.

As for the rest of the book... the recipes look fresh and enticing. The author has included sections to get you thinking about cooking and improvising recipes for the season and your tastes. I rate this one a keeper.
I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Monday, April 27, 2015

blogging for books :: soul food love

soul food love :: blogging for books

soul food love :: blogging for books

When you spend the day working out in the garden, clean up when the sun starts to get orange and the light long, and finish it off with corn and hot dogs on the barbecue it's hard to remind yourself it's still only spring.  I'm perfectly happy to pretend it's summer though, so that's just what I did.

The inspiration was the recipe for Savory Avocado Salad with corn, peppers, and cilantro from Soul Food Love by Alice Randall and Caroline Randall Williams.  The recipe got me thinking but I couldn't stick to it exactly.  Instead of raw corn, I threw it on the grill because chard corn with smokey flavors and bursting kernels is just about a million times better than corn straight off the cob.  And that's saying something because corn straight off the cob is pretty darn good.  And then I played with the proportions.  I wanted a salad that was more corn than avo and I'm a sissy when it comes to cilantro so I just kept it in the dressing but edited it out of the main salad ingredients.  The verdict?  Quite tasty, simple and easy - though next time I'll be upping the corn even more.

As for the rest of the cookbook...

As a cook book, this one fell a bit flat for me.  I was excited to page through it - the pages wonderfully thick and filled with beautiful photos.  It just felt good to hold.  But I think I was hoping for something else entirely by the title of the book.  None of the recipes seemed to scream "soul food" or "southern".  Sure, in some I could see the obvious nod to the traditional roots but it wasn't what I was expecting from the title.

What also got me, and what get's me about many healthy eating recipes and cookbooks, is that as written the recipes don't seem to have quite the flavor punch I'd want.  Sure, I can't really speak to that as I haven't tried everything.  But, I had the strong feeling that were I to  cook them I would be using the recipe more as a guide and adjusting and augmenting flavors.

I did love the header notes for the recipes that brought them back to the main premise of the book - connecting to the authors' past, histories, and traditions.  But, some felt forced or at least like they were trying too hard.  The main point of the book was the connection to the history, but I would have liked to see the same attention paid to the recipes.  Instead, I felt that at times the recipes were only tangentially connected to the story and simple to the point of being dull {fruit in ice cubes?}.

Instead of being billed as a cookbook, I think this book would be better sold as a mother-daughter cooking memoir.  The recipes included then would just be secondary to the text, which is story-filled and interesting to read.  I'll continue reading my way through the book, but I don't know how much I'll actually be cooking from it.

I chose this book while reading The Warmth of Other Suns which is about the migration of African Americans out of the American South.  It seemed quite on topic and fitting.  And Soul Food Love certainly is - it continues the themes of African American history and tradition and brings them into the kitchen.  

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.