Wednesday, October 16, 2019

OOTD and a Sneak Peek

Happy Wednesday All! Well, I have blown my goal of posting everyday this week, sigh. Sometimes, the best we can do, is the best we can do :)

I had a fabulous week last week, such diverse experiences. I was invited to a party that was hosted by a heli-skiing group out of Canada. They gave everyone who attended the chance to virtually experience what what heli-skiing is like. Wow!!! It was so realistic that I had to hold on to the chair that I was sitting in. We flew to the top of a mountain where we got out of the helicopter. As the helicopter began to fly away, I felt a tiny bit of panic and wanted to scream out, "don't leave us here!" One thing I do know is that this level of skiing is truly above my ability!!!

On Sunday, we attended the most wonderful concert. A friend of ours has just been named the new conductor for the Northbrook Symphony. What a delight it was to be there for his inaugural concert. He has worked so very hard for this opportunity. Isn't it wonderful when you see someone's hard work pay off?!!

You've seen all of this before, but to get myself back into the swing of things, I thought I would share with you my outfit of the day...from yesterday. I wore my Ginger Jeans from Closet Case Patterns. The jacket is a free pattern from Sew News. You can find the free pattern HERE. It was a cool, rainy, grey day, so something a little bright just seemed to fit. The fabric that I used for the jacket is a Kantha quilt that I purchased from India. Love it!!!

The only thing I am wearing that I did not make is my scarf. My t-shirt is the Molly Tee from Pattern Union. At this point, I think I have made at least 10 of these babies. And the sweetest part of the picture, Mr. Berkley, my little sidekick :)

I never finished my portion of the challenge that Becky of Trial Balloons and I had back in August, thanks to me coming down with shingles :/ Anyway, our final challenge was to take something and re-create it into something that we will enjoy wearing.

Our first thought was to head to a resale shop and find an old pair of pants that we could redo into something new. Like Becky,the idea of taking apart some old pair of pants that I had no idea of where they had been was a little icky. So, I headed to my closet instead. After all, it's not like my closet is anywhere near empty ;) What I found was the dress you see below. A friend of mine had given me the dress, something she had found in a resale shop. Had never been worn. First issue is that the dress is a little too large. I could take it up, but as I looked at it, I realized that I would never really wear it enough for it to merit continuing to be a dress, especially a long dress. The fabric is a gorgeous silk, and it is underlined in silk. 

There is a lot of fabric in this dress. Below you can see that I have pulled aside the front overlay. The overlay is completely backed with the same silk fabric. So yes, lots of fabric, and plenty for a fun pair of pants, pants that I will actually wear and enjoy. As a dress, I would only enjoy wearing it maybe twice. 

What I actually made is the surprise to come :) 

Be sure to check out the fabulous bag and skirt that Becky made from her overalls. The bag is the perfect shopping tote as she incorporated all the pockets from the overalls. The zipper treatment she did on the skirt is super sweet. In the end, all she had left were minuscule scraps that only a bird who is building a nest could find a use for!!! You can see it all HERE.  

Believe it or not, I actually had to make myself sit down and do a blog post, but I am so happy I did! It's nice to be back :)

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Sunday, October 13, 2019

Sunday Night Reflections

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Something Sweet on Sunday/Pumpkin Dump Cake

Fall is here!!!, and I am so very happy. I truly love this time of year, the cool temperatures, the changing colors of the leaves. It's a time of year that seems absolutely magical. 

Family heirlooms have always been important to me. I have the most eclectic collection of things that belonged to my family. There's a crochet hook that my great-uncle whittled for my grandmother. An old dime store ring that my grandfather gave to my grandmother when they were dating. A quilt that my grandmother made when she was 15 years old. That quilt hangs on the wall in 1 of my guest rooms. Another quilt that my great-aunt made when she was only 9 years old. Both of these quilts mean the world to me. There are many other items like this. They have no real value, other than my knowing that when my hands touch these items, the hands of those I have loved have touched them as well. I also have a cast iron griddle that belonged to my great-great-grandmother. And, another cast iron skillet that belonged to my great-grandmother. Cooking with these 2 pieces is like cooking with history. Such an honor! 

I came across a recipe for an unbelievably easy cake that uses a skillet. The recipe said to use a non-stick skillet, but my cast iron skillet is so well seasoned that nothing sticks to it! You literally mix everything in the skillet and then bake the cake. So easy. It's called;

   Deep Dish Pumpkin Snack Cake  

This is not a diet recipe by any means, but a small slice is quite satisfying.

Begin by melting the butter in the skillet.

Add the brown sugar and the white sugar, and stir well to combine. Such a pretty color.

Mix in the pumpkin.

Then the flour, spices and baking soda.

The final ingredient was chocolate morsels. I was tempted to leave them out, but I am happy that I didn't. You could also add chopped walnuts or pecans for an even more decadent cake.

Place in a 350 degree oven for approximately 30 minutes, and you have a delightful, delicious cake. 

You can find the recipe HERE on the Colorado Country Life website. You can also find another dump and go cake recipe HERE for a Gingerbread Apple Cake. I just made a huge pot of fresh applesauce, so I will be giving this recipe a try this week! 

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Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Fun With Fashion and Scrap Busting Too

Since I am so late in getting to this post, I decided to just call it fun with fashion rather than our usual Monday Morning Inspiration post.

My husband broke his ankle a few weeks ago. Of course it was his right ankle, so no driving, and no much of anything else either. So, I am doing all the driving, and running all the errands. I have always been extremely grateful for all he does to help me, but now that it's all on me...I am all the more grateful!!! 

I absolutely love fun fabrics, something that's just a little out of the norm. I shared the jacket below earlier this summer. I had it in the Haute Couture fashion show this past May. It's such a fun jacket to wear, and I always get lots of compliments on the jacket. Look closely and you'll see the faces in the fabric pattern. 

I found the fabric below at Oak Fabrics here in Chicago. I ended up pairing the dress with the jacket. When I wear the two together, I call the combo, faces in the dark, and faces in the light :) 

Below is another fabric from the same designer. I found this on the Mood website. It sold out quickly! I actually bought this fabric before I found the white knit at Oak Fabrics. The white faces knit I just could not resist :/ I'm sure you know the feeling ;)...Anyway, I was just a little short on the fabric for this skirt, so the skirt is a little shorter than I would like. To remedy the issue, I added a black band around the hem. Rather than leave it a plain black band, I bought some embroidery floss and did a little stitching. I'll share that in an upcoming post. 

As I was going through Pinterest, I came across a number of ideas that I thought would be fun to do. We all love something a little fun, and too, if you've sewn for more than a minute, you have scraps. So not only are these ideas fun, they offer great ideas for doing a little scrap busting too!!! 

I absolutely love this little skirt! And it's a great way to use up scraps. 

This is the same skirt, but rather than fabrics, a tape was used to create the silhouette.
Another fun use of scraps. 

Here's the top in a skirt version.

I thought this top was especially sweet. It's patchwork, but super fun!

This is a gown that would get you noticed at any gala!

Another great way to use some scraps.

Wishing you an absolutely wonderful day, and have a little fun with YOUR fashion! 

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Sunday, October 6, 2019

Sunday Night Reflections

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I'm Back!!!

After a bit of time away, I'm happy to say...

I'm Back!!!

No great story, I've had shingles. Such an ugly thing to deal with, brought on by a bit too much stress, or my lack of dealing well with that stress. To make matters all the worse, it was around my waist, so the blisters were aggravated by any type of waistband. It was healing, and then...it came back. But, all is good now, just a lovely scar around my waist, but hey!, no scars no proof ;)

In case you are wondering, I did have the vaccine. Oh well. I have not had the new vaccine, but plan to do it within the next few days. So hopefully this will all be behind me :)

I did a little video review of the book Hero Dogs by Wilma Melville with Paul Lobo. My little Mr. Berkley joins me in the video. Be sure to watch to the very end as Berkley gives his review of my review! Made me laugh, and I think it will you as well :) 


Hope you enjoyed Mr. Berkley :) If you give the book a try, I think you'll enjoy it. 
Until next time,
Read On!


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Sunday, September 29, 2019

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Sunday Night Reflections

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Sunday's Soup/Autumn's Harvest Carrot Soup

The Labor Day holiday marks the unofficial end of summer here in the U.S. All the children will be back in school. And soon, summer will fade into our memories. But, one of the loveliest delights of early fall is all the fresh vegetables that are in abundance at the farmer's markets. For someone who loves vegetables, I am like a child in a candy store :) I could easily buy more than I can possibly use. 

This week has been a bit trying, so a holiday is just what I need, a little time to slow down and just not feel that I have to be on high speed for a day or so. With that comes the desire for a pot of soup. I especially like making big pots of soup this time of year, and freezing them in smaller batches that can be taken out of the freezer for lunch and a light dinner. The soup I'm sharing today will be enjoyed this evening, and then make its way into the freezer. I'm calling it an Autumn Harvest Soup as it just looks like fall to me with its rich orange color. The ingredients are simple, carrots, fennel, granny smith apples, and a sweet yellow onion. 

I began by sauteing the chopped onions and the chopped apples together.  

Added the carrots.

Then the chopped fennel along with the vegetable broth, thyme, and 2 bay leaves. The mixture was brought to a boil and the heat then reduced to a medium, and allowed to simmer until the carrots were tender, about 20 minutes. 

I saved the fronds of the fennel and chopped it a bit.

Once the carrots were tender, I used an immersion blender to puree the soup. When it was nice and creamy, I added the fennel fronds. The result is a soup that is a mix of savory and slightly sweet. Not dessert sweet, but vegetable sweet.

Autumn Harvest Carrot Soup
downloadable recipe

5 pounds carrots, washed, skinned and sliced
1 large sweet Vadalia yellow onion chopped
1 large bulb fennel chopped
2 large Granny Smith Apples chopped
8-10 cups vegetable broth
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon thyme
Reserve fronds from fennel and chop 
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
salt and black pepper to taste

Heat oil and butter in large pot. Add onions and apples. Saute until onion is tender. Add carrots and stir well to combine. Pour in 8 cups of vegetable broth. Add chopped fennel, bay leaves, and thyme. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce to medium heat and cook until carrots are tender, about 20 minutes. 
Remove bay leaves. Using an immersible hand mixer, blender, or food processor, blend soup mixture until creamy. Adjust the thickness of the soup if needed by adding more vegetable broth. Add salt and black pepper to taste. Mix in reserved fennel fronds.
Serve and enjoy!

I hope you enjoy the soup if you give it a try!   


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Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Bring Back the Art of Tailoring

A year ago, while I was still president of the Haute Couture Club of Chicago, the board met for our summer planning meeting. For a number of years, the club had been giving scholarships to aspiring designers who were graduating from design school. Sadly, the school that we had partnered with, closed, so we needed a new strategy. Three of our board members had been mentoring 3 high school students who were interested in pursuing a career in fashion. So, rather than try and find another school to partner with, we decided to promote these young ladies. As it turned out, we loved it, and the audience loved it too. 

The young woman (Pearl) who won our top award was also awarded a scholarship to study at the Art Institute's school of fashion design. Such a wonderful opportunity for her. Although, she was lamenting that the sewing aspect of the program was lacking. So, I decided to help her out. Over the upcoming school year, I will be working with her to create a stitch and technique notebook as well as construct a true tailored jacket. I was so fortunate with the school that I attended as there was a very heavy focus on fine sewing skills. While in school, I built an incredible stitch and technique portfolio. Sadly, our basement flooded, and I lost my book. Needless to say, I was devastated. 

Back in June of this year, I taught a class on seam finishes and fabric stabilizing at the Michigan League of Handweavers conference. That gave me the incentive to begin building a new stitch and technique notebook. So, work has begun on mine, and as Pearl and I work together, my notebook will once again come to life :)

As it turned out, the board member who had been mentoring Pearl also wanted to participate in building a stitch/technique book, and make a true tailored jacket. At this point, I have gotten the 2 of them started. Their muslins have been fitted, and we are beginning the work of tailoring. I too will be putting together a tailored jacket so that they can follow along. So...in essence, if you would like, you can virtually be a part of the class as I will be posting each of the steps of my jacket here on the blog.

I have decided to use the vintage Vogue pattern that you see below. I have been wanting to make the jacket for years! A fellow Haute Couture member gave me the pattern as she felt that "it looked like" me :)

I'll be using this fabulous piece of wool. The contrasting collar will be in a solid navy blue wool or velvet. I'll decide that once I get a little closer to adding the collar. 

I just love the instructions. Not something you see in many patterns today. While looking at the pattern, I told Pearl that this was a time when we used the term, investment clothing. 

On the label of the pattern it says;

Straight from Paris to you - the fashion in this envelope. Your Paris Original was selected by Vogue at the dramatic opening of the designer's collection, then flown to America where a line-for-line translation was put into pattern form. 

Each piece that is included in the pattern is quite lovely. 

I am especially excited about this new project. Anytime I get something lovely out of the deal, I'm happy!!! I'm excited also about being able to pass along a little of my knowledge, and hopefully help a new generation who has not had the opportunities that I had (home ec in high school) to advance her skills. And too, I hope that there will be a little something to glean for all of you who stop by the blog :)

Happy Sewing!

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Monday, August 26, 2019

Are Those Pants???

Over the weekend, we took my mother out to dinner to celebrate her birthday. At one point during the evening, I went to the restroom. As I walked in, I saw a woman peeking out from behind the door of a stall. She said, "I am so happy to see you. Can you help me?" With that, she walked out from behind the door and I could see that she couldn't get the center back zipper of her jumpsuit pulled up. She said that she had been struggling with it for quite some time, and was so aggravated with herself for having worn the outfit. I told her that she wore the outfit because it was cute, which seemed to calm her down a bit. I felt so sorry for her. Poor thing, struggling so to try and get her zipper up. 

A few weeks before Becky of Trail Balloons and I started our August pant challenge, she sent me a note and said that she was putting a little package in the mail for me and thought that we could use it for our challenge. I was quite delighted when I opened the package as it contained not only fabric, but some of the most wonderful vintage buttons, and some lovely lace trims that were handmade. Such treasures!

When I saw the fabric, I immediately thought of making a jumpsuit. Becky had initially thought, pajamas. No, this fabric needs to see the light of day.

Becky is quite tall, with lovely long legs, the kind of legs that I always dreamed of having :) But, just as I said about round bottoms and flat bottoms...those of us who have round bottoms think the flat bottom girls have it made when in reality they struggle with fit just the same as those of us with round bottoms. And so, the girls with long legs also struggle to find pant legs that are long enough. Becky shared that she hated having pants that were just a little too short. But, the style of late is to have a pant leg that shows off the ankle. So, with a little bit of hesitancy, Becky jumped in and made the cutest jumpsuit with a cropped pant leg.

You can see her full post HERE. Be sure to take a look as she used 2 patterns, and then did a bit of drafting to put it all together. The back is absolutely adorable!

Once I received the fabric, I left it laying out so that I would see it multiple times a day as I knew that I wanted to make a jumpsuit, but what kind of a jumpsuit? I finally settled on a self-drafted piece, but then as I was looking for something totally unrelated, I came across the Amy Jumpsuit pattern from Closet Case Patterns.

I had intended to make it over the winter in a light weight wool, and wear it with a turtle neck sweater, but then I broke my arm :/  Oh well. I looked at the yardage requirements, 3.75 yards of 45" fabric. I only had 3 yards, and the print is a directional print, so every piece had to be cut in the same direction. Well, I wasn't going to give up that easily! I carefully laid the pieces out, 1 piece at a time, and low and behold...I could just make it happen!!! Well, the facings were cut with the print upside down, but who's looking?! ;) In the end, I literally had just a small pile of tiny pieces left over. I rather love it when that happens!

Here's my version of the Amy Jumpsuit. It's like wearing a jumpsuit, a pair of culottes, and a dress all wrapped into 1 little garment.  

My thoughts for the next time I make the piece:
1. I will lengthen the crotch 1". I have always had a problem with jumpsuits being just a bit short in the crotch. This garment is fine, but a smidge more room would be nice. 
2. I took about 3" out on either side of the waist at center back. The jumpsuit does have a side zipper, but it is only a 7" zipper, so it opens the garment to allow one to get into it, but not enough to have a closer fit. The garment is meant to be rather free and breezy, but the next time I make it, I will put a longer zipper in the side seam. This will mean working around the pocket, but that's doable. What I took out does not keep me from being able to comfortably get into the garment, but for a closer fit, a longer zipper will be needed.  
3. For a future garment, a belt would be great. I just didn't have enough fabric left to squeeze out even a strip of a belt. I love the Sobi Belt from Pattern Union. You can find the pattern HERE along with more pictures of the belt.  

Before I go, a funny story...
I got the jumpsuit to a point so that I could try it on. Rather than open the garment up between the 2 straps, and slide into it from the middle, I tried to squeeze in from the zipper opening side. I thought, "how am I ever going to get into this garment?!!!" Then it occurred to me that all I had to do was slip in from the middle. I felt like a nitwit ;) 

And 1 last word of advice...
Try not to put a zipper in the center back of a jumpsuit. You just might get stuck in the bathroom, and I may not be there to help!!!

Our final challenge is a fun one. Stay tuned:)

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Sunday, August 25, 2019

Sunday Night Reflections

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Sunday Brunch/Whole Grain Turmeric Corn Cakes

After a lot of just plain ick in my life of late, I had the best news this week. My optometrist told me that unless I notice a change in my sight, I no longer need to see him on a six month, or even a yearly basis. I do need to continue seeing the retinologist so that he can monitor any growth of the moles on my retinas, but other than that, I am in great shape! WooHoo!!!

Since I was diagnosed with moles on my retina, I have become all the more conscious of eating foods that are high in vitamins that are good for the eyes. Believe it or not, turmeric is a spice that is great for so many things, but eye health is near the top of the list.

This morning I decided to try my hand at a pancake recipe that contains turmeric. The pancakes have a delightful orange color. 

Turmeric, on its own can be rather bitter, but paired with ginger, delicious! 

I began with 2 cups of cornmeal, 1 cup of whole grain wheat flour, 3 tablespoons of baking powder, salt, and 3 tablespoons of sugar. 

3 eggs, along with 2 cups of unsweetened coconut milk, and 1 tablespoon of fresh minced ginger were added.

The final ingredient, 3 teaspoons of turmeric powder.

The griddle was greased with oil, and 1/4th cup of batter used for each cake.

Once the bubbles began to pop, the cakes were turned and allowed to brown on the opposite side.

I served the cakes with good maple syrup. But fresh cooked applesauce would be great too!

Whole Grain Turmeric Corn Cakes
4 hearty servings

2 cups corn meal
1 cup wholegrain wheat flour
3 tablespoons baking powder 
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
3 teaspoons ground turmeric powder
2 cups unsweetened coconut milk

Combine all dry ingredients and mix well.
Add eggs, ginger, and coconut milk to dry mixture. Beat well until the batter is smooth.
Heat griddle over medium heat. Use a vegetable oil of choice to grease griddle. 
Place 1/4 cups of batter per cake on hot griddle. Bubbles will appear. When bubbles begin to pop, turn cakes to opposite side and cook for another minute, or until golden brown. Place cooked cakes on plate and repeat with remaining batter.
Serve with warm maple syrup. Fresh, warm applesauce would be another delicious option.  

If you give the recipe a try, I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
Happy Sunday!

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Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Getting To The Bottom Line...The Barb Pant

I am now claiming that nothing else will go wrong! I spent yesterday morning in emergency care due to an infected thumb. How it happened, I have no idea. They asked me if I had had a manicure lately. Not for a few weeks. At this point, the why really doesn't matter, the thumb has been lanced, and I am on antibiotics. But, adding to the whole knee, thumb extravaganza, I leaned over to kiss my husband goodnight. Just at that moment, he grabbed the blanket to pull it up over him and popped me in the mouth. Of course he didn't mean to, but I went to sleep with a fat lip. Oh well ;)

In my last post,I talked about the Barb Pant from Style Arc Patterns. I really love the pattern. It's a great casual, slip-on pant. Especially great for everyday wear.

The pant was drafted for a full bottomed girl...like me :) I included the picture below to show just how much higher the back is from the front. I love it as there is no issue with feeling like the back will slip down when I sit.

Although the pant does fit well over my bottom, there are a few fitting issues. The front has a very sleek, nice fit. While the pant fits well over the bottom, I do have some drag lines below the bottom.  

Of course, different fabrics are going to fit a little differently. The pants below were made from the same fabric that I used for my first pair of cargo pants. I had just enough left for a pair of Barb Pants, so I felt that I might as well use up the fabric. 

Again, a sleek, nice fit from the front. I moved my leg during this shot, but I went ahead and used the picture. The back pant leg creases under my bottom. 

With a very fitted pant, you will lose some of the fit in order to have the pant hug the leg. With that said, I may not make any alterations on the pant. If it were a pair of slacks, I would most definitely want to alter the pant leg so that it would hang straight from the bottom and down the back of the leg. I see it as a little like dealing with your children, or your husband, sometimes you just have to pick which fights are worth the effort ;) For me, the fight that was won with the Barb Pant is that it fits so comfortably over the bottom, and stays in place when I sit.

If by chance you missed it, you can find the link to download the Barb Pant for free HERE

In case you haven't heard, StyleArc is having a great sale on all of their PDF top patterns, 25% off. Just use the promo code,


At check out. The sale runs through August 23, 2019.

Happy Sewing!

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