Tuesday, March 31, 2015

I'm Celebrating!!!

I decided to take a day off from the blog today, but I just had to take a minute and say
I hit an all time high in my blog stats today and I have you to thank for it!!!! 
Thank you so much for taking the time to pop by, read and comment. There was a time when I thought a day like to today would not have been possible, but thanks to you, the impossible actually happened :)

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Monday, March 30, 2015

Monday Morning Inspiration/Edith Head, One Last Look

Happy Monday Everyone!!! It's a glorious day here in Chicago, we have a bright blue sky, the birds are singing, and the crocuses are popping out of the ground. I took this picture while I was out on my morning walk. Now, that's enough to make anyone sing!
Everyone seemed to really enjoy the Edith Head post I did last week, so I thought I would do a little follow up this week.
I remember the first time I saw the movie "Rear Window." what a great movie by the way, a true suspense thriller. Grace Kelly walked in in this lovely suit, and then....
 she took the jacket off and I was in love! Absolutely stunning.
After I posted the sketch of the costume, I received a message from Meg of www.meggipeg.com. Look at the stunning version of the costume that she created.
 Absoutely beautiful. You can see her full post HERE.
Now here's the good news, you can create your own version too! Meg sent me a link to the pattern and you can find it HERE.  
I also posted a sketch of this glorious dress last week.
Take another look at the sketch and notice that the final version of the gown wasn't as elaborate as the sketch.
Rosy of Sewingadicta did a beautiful copy of the gown, but she hand painted the motif on the skirt. You can see her full post on the process HERE.
Edith Head realized that the average American woman loved her designs and wanted to look like movie stars. She was extremely successful at marketing her brand, designing patterns for Advance, Butterick and Vogue. The Advance Patterns are a little more difficult to find and when you do, they are rather expensive.

The Vogue Patterns are much more readily available. Looking at this pattern, your first thought might be that it is a little dated, but take a second look. The short sleeve jacket is especially nice and if the culottes were shortened, or lengthened, they would be perfect.
 And of course, this dress is basically timeless.

I found this website where you can purchase your own copy of an Edith Head sketch. They are reproductions and there are many available.
And finally, one last video. It's a short documentary, a little over 8 minutes long. It features Edith Head and talks about what it takes to be a costume designer. I thought it was very interesting and fun to watch.  

I hope the sun is shining wherever you, and if not in the sky, at least in your heart.
Have a wonderful week!

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Sunday, March 29, 2015

Sunday Night Reflections

A man cannot directly choose his circumstances,
but he can choose his thoughts,
and so indirectly,
yet surely,
shape his circumstances.
                                                                                                           James Allen

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Sunday's Soup/Yellow Split Pea and Hominy Soup

Maybe it was my Texas upbringing, or maybe it's just me, but I love hominy! It's great in soups, it's great cooked with scrambled eggs, it's great sauteed with vegetables, it's great on its own. In fact, I think I could eat hominy with just about anything.
A few weeks back, I was doing a little shopping in my favorite grocery store. It's not a big chain store, but a small neighborhood store that's a throw back to the stores where my grandmother would shop. There's a real butcher counter, a deli counter, incredibly fresh vegetables, and for the most part, I can find everything I need. Quite often, I like to just slowly stroll the isles, as I find new and interesting products and other times, I'm just inspired to try a new dish. On this particular trip, I came across the hominy and then I looked over and saw yellow split peas. My mind popped and off I went to find other ingredients. If you've never cooked with hominy, this is how I like to buy it, dried.
It must be soaked over night prior to cooking. Once soaked, it becomes somewhat tender. With hominy, you get a corn taste, but it is much milder and somewhat creamy.
The split peas will not need to be soaked over night. But, be sure to rinse them.
Yellow Split Pea and Hominy Soup

1 large yellow onion chopped
1 yellow bell pepper chopped
2 stalks of celery chopped
2 cloves of garlic minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 carrots sliced
8 ounces hominy (be sure to soak overnight)
16 ounces yellow split peas
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
8 cups of vegetable or chicken broth depending upon your taste
salt and black pepper to taste

Mix hominy with 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook hominy until water has been adsorbed and hominy is tender, approximately 1 hour. Set aside. The hominy can be cooked a day or so ahead and kept in the refrigerator.

Heat olive oil and add chopped onion, celery and yellow bell pepper. Saute until tender on medium heat. Add garlic and continue to saute for another minute. Add carrots, split peas, spices and broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and then simmer until peas and carrots are tender, approximately 30 minutes. Add cooked hominy and continue to simmer for another 10 minutes. Serve and enjoy.

I topped my soup with a little paprika. Makes it pretty and adds just a little extra punch!
The soup freezes well, so it's a great stock up soup and wonderful for weekday lunches.
If you give it a try, I hope that you'll enjoy it as much as as I did!

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Friday, March 27, 2015

Thrifty Thursday/Free Tee Pattern Perfect for Scraps

Yep, it's Friday! And yes, I am still a little behind, but not as much behind as it may seem as I will have a Fabulous Free Pattern Friday post up later today. Yea! Not that I need an excuse, but I had a doctor's appointment yesterday that put me through the mill, so by the time I got home, I was ready to hit the bed and sleep. No worries, I'm fine, so all in all a good day.
I came across this free summer tee pattern from I Candy and thought it was so cute and a great idea. It's the perfect pattern for using up some pieces that are just enough for a front or a back but nothing more. Be warned up front that there is a draw back to this pattern, it only comes in a medium size. They do give instructions on how you can enlarge it a bit. For me, I did take it in a little and gave the top a little shape at my waist. Taking it up a little will not distort the look.  
So here's my version of the top, actually, it's the first version of the top. I really do like the pattern. I used a piece of bamboo knit for the front and a piece of stretch lace for the back.
I didn't line the lace. The pattern is busy enough that my bra will be basically invisible.
My "photographer" isn't here, so you're stuck with a crummy selfie once again. I really need to get a tripod!!! At least you get a little bit of an idea of how it fits.
In the original picture of the top, you can see that the back is longer than the front at the hemline. I didn't especially care for how it was finished, so I cut the back off even with the front. The second top I cut out, I actually lengthened the back and gave the top a little high low look which worked out well. As soon as it's finished, I'll post pictures.
Since this is a very basic tee, you can always lengthen the pattern and make a great, easy fitting summer dress.
The pattern prints out with the front and back overlapped. My suggestion is to print 2 copies of the pattern and then you'll have a front and a back pattern piece.  The pattern includes a 1/4" seam allowance, so no need to add unless you would like a little more seam allowance.
Other than the fact that the pattern only comes in a medium size, it's a great little pattern that is super easy to make up and absolutely perfect for scraps.
Once again,you can find the pattern HERE.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Wednesday Showcase

What a week it has been! It started off with jury duty on Monday. I can't complain too much as we have a pretty good deal in Illinois. It's basically a serve one day deal and you're off for at least another year, unless, and the unless can be a very big deal, unless you end up on a jury :/ Around 10:00 my number was called, and I thought, "here we go." We arrived in the court room to find out that the case had been settled out of court. Great!!!! At that point we all thought that we would be finished for the day, but nooooo!!!, we were sent back up to the jury pool room. There I sat for the entire day. I brought things to read, but by 3:00 that afternoon, the clock just seemed to stand still. When it was finally time to go home, freedom never felt so good!!! Isn't it amazing how we can suddenly appreciate the simplest things?!!

Now, on to the day at hand. Back in January, I asked the question, "why do your read this blog?" What truly surprised me was how many of you commented on how much you enjoy the Wednesday Showcase posts. I've always felt that they were a nice thing to do and I really enjoy taking a little time to try and get to know some of you who follow the blog, but I had no idea that so many of you enjoyed the posts as much as I do. I'm glad that you do :)

Our first new blogger today is  Mads from https://lifeinamadshouse.wordpress.com/ A little about Mads.
"I blog about my travails and triumphs as a newly-minted home sew-er. My favorite things include cats, good pizza, grammar, guitars, naps, reading, sarcasm, shoes, soda, and white chocolate. I will probably talk about most of those things (and more) at some point, but I intend focus primarily on sewing and related matters."
As Mads said, she does love her cat and just to prove it, she participated in the Crazy Cat Lady Sew Along. I'm not making this up, there really was one!! Below is her cat and the super cute fabric.
 Mads has a sense of humor and loves detail, like the cat button she added to her skirt.
Here's the final piece. Cute and versatile.
She not only sews for herself, she does a little for her husband as well. This is the is the Cooper Backpack from Colette Patterns. Great bag!
If you've followed my blog for more than a minute, you know that I am a push over for a girl and her dog picture. How adorable! Mads made the tee and it is the Scout Tee from Grainline Patterns. A beautiful piece of Ikat too!
Be sure to pop over to Mads blog as I know you will enjoy getting to know her. 

Next up is another very talented lady, she actually has 2 blogs. Her name is Tina and not only does she sew, she designs the most beautiful fabrics. On her blog https://fyllayta.wordpress.com/ you can find a gallery of some of her beautiful designs.
The design below has a companion piece and is actually in production for the fashion brand Maja Roos.
The blog where Tina showcases her sewing is https://gavannasewing.wordpress.com/
Below is a coat that she designed. It was initially inspired by a Navajo blanket coat.
Tina is also working on creating a pattern line and the dress below is called Askim and should be ready soon. She's one busy lady!
Between Tina's 2 blogs, I know you will find a tremendous amount of inspiration.

I hope your week is going well and that you are productive and happy.
Enjoy your Wednesday!

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Sew Chic, The Final Week and What's To Come!

The final post for the Sew Chic Valentine Slip sew along is up on the Sew News blog. I am so happy to say that I now have 3 beautiful new slips! In this week's post I talk in detail about...details!!!
You can find the post HERE, and I have included the video below for you to take a look at if you like.

Now for a what's to come preview.
The next sew along will be the Decades of Style Arches Skirt. The skirt is based on a vintage pattern. I shortened mine and gave it a little more modern twist. I think you'll like it. The good news is that Sew News is having a fabulous sale at the moment, 20% off everything in their store so this is the time to get your pattern. You can find the Decades of Style Arches Skirt pattern HERE. If by chance you've decided that you would like to give the Sew Chic Valentine Slip pattern a try, you can find that pattern HERE.
Thanks so much for joining me in the sew along. I know I had a good time :)

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Monday, March 23, 2015

Monday Morning Inspiration

When I was in high school, I completed all the courses  that were offered in sewing. With nothing more to take, I was sent to the local community college to take college level classes. One of the classes that I took was costume design. The woman who taught the class had been a assistant to the costume designer Edith Head. She had the most wonderful stories. She made Hollywood come alive and brought the great actresses down to a common level.
Edith Head worked in Hollywood for over 44 years. She created clothes that weren't costumes, but pieces that any woman would love to have the opportunity to wear.
She dressed all the great actresses,
from Bette Davis,
to Elizabeth Taylor,
Joan Crawford.
One of her favorites, Audrey Hepburn,

And even Grace Kelly.
I remember seeing the movie, "Rear Window" for the first time. I was instantly in love with the above and below outfits.  
While reading her biography, I discovered that she made herself known by calling directors and asking to work on their films. Her tenacity lead to her winning 8 academy awards and  31 nominations. By the end of her life, she had become Hollywood's best know costume designer.
Please take a few moments to watch the video below. You'll be wowed by the clothes. They are incredible. You'll also learn a little more about Edith Head. The video is short, just a little over 6 minutes. Well worth the time spent.

In the video below, Edith Head actually talks about designing the costumes that Audrey Hepburn wore in the movie "Roman Holiday."

As much as I enjoy looking at the clothes, what I am taking away from this post is, to ask for what you want. Look at where asking got Edith Head!!! Well, asking and an incredible talent to back it up.
Have a wonderful day and a great week.

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Sunday, March 22, 2015

Sunday Night Reflections

Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability,
 but comes through continuous struggle.
                                                                                                     Dr.Martin Luther King Jr.

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Eating For Your Future/Rice Noodles with Sesame Pesto

I am a nut for pesto. It can be made pine nuts, walnuts, it doesn't matter, I love it. But since I am trying to stay away from dairy, and animal products in general, pesto hasn't been on the menu until I found this fabulous version. I came across the recipe while organizing some recipes I had just thrown into a pile. I guess I should have done some cleaning a little sooner ;) This version of pesto is made with toasted sesame seeds, basil, olive oil, chili oil, rice vinegar, and garlic, It comes from a company called A Taste of Thai. I have used a number of their products and have always enjoyed them. This recipe is easy to make, low fat, wheat free, and dairy free. A winning combination!  
You can find the original recipe HERE. Be sure to go to the website as you'll find a printer friendly version there. I did not include the teaspoon of sugar and I didn't miss it.

Rice Noodles with Sesame Pesto
Serves 4
20 minutes from start to finish
  • 1/2-16 oz bag (8 oz) A Taste of Thai Rice Noodles
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1 cup firmly packed basil leaves, stems removed
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons hot chili oil
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
1.Preheat oven to 300°F. Put a large pot of water on to boil, with one tablespoon salt.
2.Spread sesame seeds on pan. Toast in oven for about 2 minutes or until golden. Watch them carefully so they don't burn. Remember brown means bitter!
3.Put basil leaves, garlic, toasted sesame seeds, chili oil, olive oil, vinegar, sugar, and salt in blender. Blend until smooth.
4.When water boils, add Rice Noodles. Stir to separate noodles.
5.Boil noodles according to directions on box, until tender but firm (al dente).
6.Drain noodles and very briefly rinse with lukewarm water. Return noodles to pot and toss with sauce. Enjoy!
I decided to turn the dish into a main dish, so while the noodles were boiling, I sauteed pea pods, bean sprouts, tofu and a shredded carrot in a little sesame oil until tender.
Before serving, I topped the dish with chopped green onions.It was absolutely delicious. If you like pesto, give this recipe a try. I think you'll be happy that you did.

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