Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Fun Tote for A Cute Little God Daughter

After finishing yesterday's skirt, I was ready for a fun, quick project.  My cousin and god daughter brought over this little tote bag and asked me to reattach the glued on ribbon.  My little god daughter (she's 3!) said that she also wanted her initial and some "sparklies." 

Embroidery Machine to the Rescue!!!
I found the "Sparklies" in my stash of trims and other junk I have been holding onto for just the right project.  I think that my very fashion forward God Daughter will look spectacular carrying this bag to school!  :-D

Very grateful that we didn't have any damage or even lose power and praying for those who were not so fortunate... 

Despite the wind and rain - or actually because of it - I had a great time playing with fabrics this weekend! 

Back to work tomorrow!  

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Pencil Skirt the Hurricane Blew In...

So what's a girl to do when Mother Nature give you a hurricane day home from school? 
She heads straight to the sewing machine while she still has power and sews up that skirt she's been meaning to make since last winter!

Plaid Pencil Skirt
Back view - I'm pretty happy with the
plaid matching.

I found this fabric at G-Street on the $3.99 table when I was visiting the store for the class where I made this blouse.  I knew that it was going to become an easy, pull-on skirt, but got side-tracked by several other projects...and then it was spring...

At first I tried to draft my own pattern using a skirt that fits me.  It seemed like it should be easy, but low confidence in my pattern drafting ability and the fact that I'm still getting into the swing of sewing for myself after all these years made it a frustrating experience.

After multiple tries with a muslin, I realized that I really needed to use a pattern for a base.  Digging through my pattern stash I found an old 1988 pattern that may have even been my mother-in-law's.
It was just 3 pieces and the size 18 fit straight out of the package.  (Pattern sizes are nothing like ready-to-wear.  You wear 2-3 sizes smaller in ready-to-wear.  I've heard a lot of reasons why, but it is still shocking to say that I have to cut a size 18!!!)

The waist is 2 1/2 elastic and I added the lining

The only changes that I made to the pattern were:

  • Left out the belt loops 
  • Added a wider elastic waist instead of the 2 pieces of narrow elastic called for
  • Added a lining. 
  • Fringed the bottom hem instead of a traditional hem 

The lining is some tricot lining that I found in my stash.  

I sewed a tiny zigzag for the hem and then pulled
out the cross threads one at a time.  The plaid made it
easy to keep the hem straight.

I am especially proud of the plaid matching. I didn't worry too much about the vertical matching - just got the horizontal part to work.
Double pinned to match plaids

Since it is a loose weave I was worried about it shifting so I double-pinned it.

All accessorized and ready for winter!

I'm feeling good that I got one winter sewing project done.  Now if we still have power tomorrow....

Oh the possibilities!!!

If you are in Sandy's path, stay safe and dry!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Quick Indian Curry "Cheater" Dinner

I have pledged to get at least 7 hours of sleep a night this week.  This means that I have to be sleeping by 10:00.  Not an easy feat for a night owl like me!  Last night was day one of this plan - 10:45pm found me still puttering around "getting things done."

So how to fit in work, workout, dinner and lunch packing and still make it to bed by 10:00?  Plan A:  easy meals this week.

Today's easy meal was brought to you by the last of the garden veggies and a yummy Indian simmer sauce from Whole Foods.

The simmer sauce that made it happen tonight!

This sauce is great!  You just sauté your favorite meat and veggie and add in the sauce...and it's only 70 calories and 2 grams of fat per serving.  It did have a fair amount of sodium, but if you balance it with lower salt the rest of the day/meal, it shouldn't take you overboard.

I added in the last of the japanese eggplant and red peppers from the garden.  I added some sautéd chicken tenders and some chickpeas.  

Chicken and Eggplant Curry with Chickpeas

Stirred it up, let it simmer and...Whaa La!  Dinner is ready in under 30 minutes - Just about enough time for the jasmine rice to cook up in the rice maker.  

It was delicious!  As good as many curries we've had at Indian restaurants.  Bonus - it is a one-dish-wonder!

So here's the more-or-less recipe.  Be creative with your version - This is definitely one of those add-whatever-you-have dishes!

Chicken and Eggplant Curry with Chickpeas
1 pound chicken tenders cut into bite-sized pieces
1 red peppers cut into chunks
4 - 5 cups japanese eggplant, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 can chickpeas, rinsed
Olive Oil
1 jar Bombay Curry Simmer Sauce
Jasmine Rice, cooked
Cilantro, chopped (optional)

1.  Saute chicken tender pieces in 2 tsp olive oil until golden brown and cooked through.  Remove from pan and keep warm.
2.  Add peppers to saute pan and cook until barely crisp tender.  Remove from pan.
3. Add an additional  2 tsp olive oil to pan and add eggplant.  Cook eggplant, stirring frequently until it begins to soften.
4.  Add chicken and peppers to the eggplant in the pan and pour one jar of simmer sauce over the mixture.  Fill the sauce jar 1/2 full of water and add the water to the pan.  
5.  Simmer for 5 minutes on low, stirring occasionally.
6.  Add chickpeas and simmer and additional 10 - 15 minutes (it only gets better as it simmers!)
7.  Serve over jasmine rice.
8.  If you like cilantro, it would be yummy to sprinkle a bit over the top - maybe with a dollop of plain yogurt.  

Enjoy your quick meal....As for me...I'm already running behind on day 2 of my 7-hour sleep plan.  Better get moving!

Quick or slow - Enjoy your feasts this week!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Just a Little Haiku for Today

There has been no time lately for feasts or fabrics...typical for this point in the school year!  So I thought I would put up a quick post about something else close to my heart - My good old faithful 12-year old pup!  

faithful old dog
slow walk through crisp 
golden moments

My old boy used to be my best walking companion - eagerly completing 4-5 miles with me.  I used to joke that I should have named him PT for personal trainer because even if I didn't feel like walking on a particular day, he knew that it was walk time and would nudge me toward our daily walk like only a golden retriever can.  

He is old now and was diagnosed with lymphoma last September (We are so lucky that he is still here!) so walks are not quite the pace they used to be - more a slow wander.  Although I am still an avid fast-paced 4-5 miler most days, Jake has taught me the joy of slowing down sometimes and just ambling along.  
Always smiling!

Our amble today was the perfect antidote to a busy day at school. 

What better way to spend an crisp autumn afternoon than a slow stroll with a faithful old friend?

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Chocolate Hazelnut Banana Bread - Dessert on a Weeknight!

I had a little hankering for something sweet this week and when I opened up my latest Cooking Light Magazine it magically opened right to Chocolate Hazelnut Banana Bread.  It was meant to be!  Although I'm pretty sure that light is a relative term with this banana bread, it was totally delicious and worth every extra crunch and mountain climber I had to do to make up for it!

Chocolate Hazelnut Banana Bread
At first glance the recipe seemed to have a lot of steps, but it actually came together pretty quickly - a must for a weeknight treat!

Chocolate Hazelnut Banana Bread
5 Tbsp Nutella (See- Already delish!)
3 Tbsp plus 1 tsp canola oil, divided
3 Tbsp butter, softened
1/2 cup packed brown butter
2 medium ripe bananas, sliced
2 large eggs
6.75 ounces all purpose flour (about 1 1/2 cups)
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup whole buttermilk (I used low fat cuz that's what they had at the store)
Baking spray with flour
1/4 cup hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
1 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

1.  Preheat oven to 350
2.  Combine chocolate-hazelnut spread and 1 tsp oil in a microwave-safe dish; microwave at HIGH for 30 sec. or until melted.  Stir.  Combine 3 Tbsp. oil, butter, brown sugar, and banana in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium-high speed until well blended.  Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
3.  Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Beating at low speed, add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to banana mixture; beat just until combined. 

4.  Scrape half of batter into a 9 x 5 inch metal loaf pan coated with baking spray

5.  Top with chocolate hazelnut spread mixture.   

6.  Spread remaining batter over chocolate mixture.  Using a pick, swirl batter. 

7.  Sprinkle batter with hazelnuts.  Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes or until a wooden pick comes out with moist crumbs clinging.  Cool 10 minutes in a pan on a wire rack. Remove bread and cool on a wire rack.  

8. Place bittersweet chocolate in microwave-safe dish; microwave at high for 30 seconds.  Drizzle bread with chocolate; let stand until set.  
Look at that delicious swirl of hazelnut spread in the banana bread - mmmm  mmm!
It smells so delicious that you might be tempted to cut into it while it is still hot, but it really does slice and taste better if you wait 'til it cools down a bit.  (You can do it!  Well, maybe you can - because obviously I couldn't.  That's how I know its better cooled a bit.   :-) 

I hope you had a little "sweetness" in your life this week!