Sunday, July 30, 2017

Sunday Night Reflections

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Sunday's Salad/Fennel, Apple and Blue Cheese Salad

What a week, a week filled with good things, bad things, sad things, and very little blogging things. But, the good out weighs the bad, and the bad is behind me, so happily, I move on! 

This time of year is such a joy for me, my tomatoes are coming in and I have tons of basil, so tons of pesto. Nothing better than an open face pesto sandwich. Makes my mouth water just to think about it. All I do is toast a great piece of bread, spread it with a mound of pesto, and then add a layer of my fresh tomatoes. A little salt and pepper, and it's luncheon heaven :)

Another favorite item, other than soups, are fun salads. I have fallen in love with fennel! Earlier this past week, I had purchased fresh fennel. As I was looking in my refrigerator, thinking about what I might like to make, the thought of pairing an apple with the fennel and then tossing it all with mixed greens sounded perfect.  

I placed about 3 heaping cups of mixed greens in my salad bowl, and topped them with a thinly sliced red delicious apple. 

I then added 1 bulb of  fennel which I sliced. Please do not follow my lead, chop the fennel, it'll be easier to eat and much more enjoyable.

I then added 1/2 cup of crumbled blue cheese, and 1/2 cup of toasted chopped pecans.

Now, the dressing I made, was simple and fabulous. A friend gave me a bottle of blood orange olive oil, and a bottle of tangerine balsamic vinegar.

I used 1/3 cup of the oil and 2 tablespoons of the balsamic vinegar, whipped it together and then poured it over the salad. 


The nice thing about the oil and vinegar is that they are available to order. For those of you who live in or near Chicago, they have stores on Wells St. here in Chicago, and another in Evanston

If you would like to order the oil and vinegar, you can find them HERE, and HERE. Well worth the investment. 

Fennel, Apple, and Blue Cheese Salad
printable recipe

3 heaping cups fresh mixed salad greens
1 red delicious apple thinly sliced
1 bulb of fennel chopped
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
1/2 cup toasted chopped pecans

For the dressing:

1/3 cup blood orange olive oil
2 tablespoons tangerine balsamic vinegar

Whip together, pour over salad, toss and serve.    

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Monday, July 24, 2017

Monday Morning Inspiration/Fun, Fresh, Effortless

A friend of mine was so inspired by a past Monday Morning Inspiration post that I did on Carolina Herrera that it prompted her to recreate one of the dresses. She did a beautiful job, and I think it is now one of her favorite dresses. Nice!

My friend's excitement over her dress has prompted me to pay a little more attention to what Carolina Herrera is doing. This is the time of year that many of us are growing a little weary of  warm temperatures, but are not quite ready to give up bright colors and floral prints. On a recent visit to Carolina Herrera's website I found this absolutely beautiful video that showcases her 2018 resort collection. The fabrics and colors are so dreamy! The video was shot at her Venezuelan home which been in her family since 1590, and the garden was her inspiration for this collection. It's only a little over a minute long, so it won't take much time. By all means, PLEASE take a look as the photographs do not capture the beauty of the garments the way that the video does.

Carolina Herrera New York - Resort 2018 BTS from Carolina Herrera on Vimeo.

Carolina expresses that the collection is fun, fresh, and effortless. I love how the pieces work together, and the 3 dimensional floral appliques and embroideries.

This is a dress that we have seen in the past as more of an asymmetrical bandage dress. I love the added circular skirt.

The longer jackets are lovely and the movement of the stripes makes the dress especially interesting.

I love everything about this look, the wide leg pants, the interesting play of the stripes in the peplum top, and the simple, but dramatic belt.

Fun poppies really add whimsy to the garments below.

I hope you have been inspired, I know I have!!! If you would like to see more from Carolina Herrera, you can find her website HERE.

Have a wonderfully, colorful week!

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Sunday, July 23, 2017

Sunday Night Reflections

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Sunday's Soup/Creamy Carrot and Cilantro Soup

Whether it's spring, summer, fall, or winter, I love to eat soup, and my refrigerator just isn't quite right if I don't have a soup that I can grab and warm up for my lunch.  

I tell lots of stories about my grandmother, but one of many sweet memories is the big pot of gumbo she would make up when we would visit. OMG!!!, was it ever good, filled with fresh okra! There was no air conditioning in her house. I didn't care, I would sit at her dining room table with my legs stuck to the seat of the chair(because it was so hot, I would be wearing shorts and the back of my legs would stick to the leather seat), and enjoy every bite :) 

This is the time of year when all the wonderful vegetables are coming to market, and I am like a kid in a candy store...well a vegetable candy store! The carrots, onions, multiple colors of bell peppers just make my heart sing and send me straight to the kitchen :)

The soup that I am sharing today has a bit of  a twist to it. You can tweak it if you're a little afraid of the spice. 

First, I began with these wonderful boiler onions. They are typically used in dishes like stews, or with other boiled vegetables, as they are small and mild. If you can't find boiler onions, a nice white onion will work just fine.

I then came across a beautiful orange bell pepper and my favorite, a habanero pepper. Both were seeded and chopped. Like I said, if you are a little afraid of the heat from the pepper, you can just omit it. While habaneros are hot, they also have a sweet taste. You could also use just half, or even a quarter.    

The peppers and onions were added to 4 heaping cups of sliced carrots, 3 cloves of garlic, a tablespoon of chopped ginger, dried cilantro and ground coriander. The final little surprise ingredient is 1 chopped Granny Smith apple. The apple is both sweet and tart and the mixture of the flavors works beautifully with the habanero to reduce a little of the spice and yet allow for the flavor.

Once the vegetables are tender, the soup is pureed and a cup of coconut milk is added to the mixture resulting in a creamy, spicy, sweet soup. 

To enhance the flavor a little further, I added a dollop of fresh made cilantro pesto. If you are vegan, just eliminate the pesto, or make the pesto without the Parmesan cheese.

You can find the recipe for the Cilantro Pesto HERE. The recipe for the soup is below and you'll see that I have added a printable tab to the recipe.

Creamy Carrot and Cilantro Soup
Printable Recipe


4 cups sliced carrots
1 orange bell pepper seeded and chopped
1 habenero pepper seeded and chopped
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic chopped
1 medium white onion chopped
1 Granny Smith apple skin removed and chopped
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 heaping teaspoon dried cilantro
salt and black pepper to taste
1 cup coconut milk
4 cups vegetable stock


Bring all ingredients except the coconut milk to a boil. Reduce heat and cook until vegetables are tender, approximately 20-30 minutes. 

Using a blender, or hand held blender, puree the soup until creamy. Add coconut milk. If the soup is a little too thick, add additional vegetable stock. Simmer the soup on a low flame until coconut milk and any additional stock has warmed. 

Serve the soup with a dollop of cilantro pesto.


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Friday, July 21, 2017


Happy Friday!
I am so very happy to finally be back with an all new episode of Sewbussted's Material Witness!!!

There may be a few of you who have thought, "I have a great idea that I think should be published," and yet, you aren't sure just how to take the first step. And then there may be others that would just like to know what goes into the process.

I recently had the opportunity to meet published author Laura Farson. She is the author of 5 books, 3 on quilting, 

And 2 fabulous knitting books.

I had a wonderful time talking with Laura. She's very inspirational, and I think that if you've thought that this is something you can't do, Laura will prove otherwise!

Although Laura's quilting books are out of print, you can find them all HERE at AbeBooks. It's a wonderful website that I found where the prices are great, and the shipping is free!!! You can also find her knitting books there, but keep in mind that they are used. Of course you can purchase a brand new book HERE at Amazon. 

The book that Laura mentions reading before she began her publishing journey is How To Write a Non-Fiction Book Proposal. I suggest looking into your public library for this book. 

Laura talks about writing articles for magazines as a way to get your feet wet before jumping in to an entire book. You may remember that Ellen March, editor of Sew News invited anyone who would like to submit articles. You can find that video HERE.  
One thing that Laura wanted me to pass along to you is that if you do have an idea for a book, the entire book does not need to have been written when you submit your proposal, so keep that in mind :) 

I hope this has been helpful to some and enjoyable to others. I know I had a great time!

Be sure to stop back by next week as I have a fabulous surprise for our next episode of Sewbussted's Material Witness!!! 

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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

New Winners and a New Jacket

Last Monday I announced the winners of the new Islander Fast and Fabulous Jacket Pattern. Sadly, Karen Roop was the only one of the 3 winners to respond :( So one's loss is another's gain!

The 2 new winners of the pattern are:

Kathy Shrank

Kim Caywood

Congratulations ladies!!! Be sure to email me at sewbussted@yahoo.com ASAP with your mailing info. 

I've decided to make 2 more jackets. After I made the first, I decided that I really would like one made in leather. But before I get to that one, I would like another that will be great for summer, especially in air condition. I get so cold sometimes.

I found a lovely piece of denim that actually has a little linen in the fiber content which softens the denim beautifully. I also purchased a light blue woven cotton to pipe the jacket and bind the seams.

The denim has the traditional twill weave, but like I said, softer with the addition of the linen.

The lighter blue cotton has a matching diamond of the blue denim in the weave. I love the first jacket I made, but I wanted to step up the construction a bit by binding the interior seams. Besides that, jackets look so lovely when you take them off and there's something interesting on the inside that catches the eye. 

Once I get started on the jacket, I'll show you a fun stretch cotton I purchased for pants. I think it will work well with the denim. 

Just a reminder that Janet has graciously offered a 20% discount to anyone who comes by the blog. Just use the promo code SEWBUSS at checkout. The discount is good until Saturday, July 22, 2017. You can find the paper pattern HERE, and the PDF pattern HERE.

Happy Sewing!

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Monday, July 17, 2017

Monday Morning Inspiration/Pantsuits Are Back!

Happy Monday All :)

Last week, my husband purchased a regular bird feeder, and a hummingbird feeder. I have feeders out in the garden, hanging in trees. More often than not, regardless of what I do, the squirrels have a heyday, but...they need to eat too ;) You should see some of the contortions they make to get to the seeds. Absolutely hilarious!

The new bird feeders are hanging just outside my patio door. I think we have created monsters!!! At times there are 10 birds vying for a space on the feeder. Then someone will get their shorts in a twist and start a fight. The hummingbirds are just as bad. There are 4 spouts on the feeder, but there is one little bird who does not like to share and chases everyone else away. I wish I could get across to them that there's plenty...share...there's more to come! I've smiled a lot over the last few days, but in reality, they are actually no different from us when we feel jealous and territorial. Hmmm ;)

From Vogue magazine, to various blog posts, I have read a number of articles about how the pantsuit is back. So I decided to take a look around. What I discovered is that yes, they are back,but with a much more feminine  touch than the power suits of the 80s and 90s.

This is a suit from Carolina Herrera. The jacket is soft, somewhat structured, but given a feminine touch with the sweet tie. 

Another suit from a recent Carolina Herrera collection. Contrasting plaids with the softness of the added peplum.

A little more traditional, but softened with the overcoat rather than a structured jacket.

From Roberto Cavalli, I absolutely adore this suit. A structure jacket paired with a ruffled shirt, and then a great floral print. 

Christian Siriano is also doing pantsuits. His are much more traditional, but I love the addition of the flowers on the plaid.

Another suit from Christian Siriano, it's very matchy, matchy, but quite striking. Love the horizontal stripes.

I don't think I've seem Amal Clooney in anything I haven't liked. Here she is wearing a very traditional suit, but has paired it with a soft t-shirt.

Princess Kate is another that always seems to wear the perfect outfit. Her traditional suit has been paired with a ruffle shirt giving it a very feminine touch.

This suit is a little quirky, but I do like the shape of the jacket.

Another sleek traditional suit, but made so very feminine with the addition of a lace tee. Great look!

A little on the wild side, but I love this look. The jacket is more traditional, but the pants make the entire look fabulous. 

A completely matched outfit. The magic touch...the contrasting shoes.

The perfect travel suit, a great pair of wool pants paired with a cashmere sweater and a matching unstructured coat.

And finally, just all out fun from Mary Kantrantzou. Check out the matching of the pattern. Spot on perfect!

For those of us who love a suit, we now have permission to match it up. Just be sure to give it a soft touch and make it all out feminine! I REALLY want to make a pair of harlequin pants with a black and white jacket. Hey, we only live once :)

Have a great week!

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Sunday, July 16, 2017

Sunday Night Reflections

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Cables, Seeds, and a Sweater

A big thank you to all who have commented on the post I did yesterday. I love reading your thoughts :) 

Anna asked if I would post more info on the sweater I'm knitting. She said that she is looking for a new project to keep her hands busy while watching television. Since she asked, I thought that more might be wondering as well, so here's all the info:

The sweater is actually featured on the cover of the Rowan Magazine Number 46.

A number of things caught my eye. First of all, the cable around the hem of the tunic. 

You may remember the sweater I did a few years ago, I'm a nut for cables!!! 

I also loved the simplicity of the pattern. I think that the stitch throughout the tunic is a seed stitch. I always have to look up the names of stitches. Anyway, it's a very simple to do stitch and perfect for an easy knitting project that will also travel well. 
As you can see below, the design is by Martin Storey and it's called Halifax.   

And last but not least, I had the yarn. 

Lorna's Laces is based in Chicago. The owner is so very gracious about opening her warehouse and hosting an ends shopping day. She will usually do a wonderful presentation on her process of hand dying her yarns. Be warned though if you do attend one of her sales, it's quite tempting to walk out with bundles! 

I was actually fortunate enough to be able to purchase an entire bag of the yarn I'm using for the sweater. Below is all of the yarn info. The Rowan yarn that was used for the sweater is Cocoon. It's also a bulky yarn and has the same stitch per inch as the Lorna's Laces Sheperd Bulky. You can find other colors of the Lorna's Laces Sheperd Bulky HERE at Love Knitting. 

What attracted me to the yarn was the color combination and especially the addition of the teal blue. It's my favorite color :)

I wasn't sure how the color combination would knit up, but I'm quite happy with how it is turning out. I'm especially excited about getting to the point that I can add the neckline. I think it will come together quite nicely.

I'll keep you posted with my progress. 
Happy Knitting!

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Saturday, July 15, 2017

Do We Still Cherish Quality?

My grandmother didn't learn to knit until she was in her 60s. She learned to tat, crochet, embroider, and sew as a child and did each beautifully. Once she learned to knit, she loved it and had a new found passion. I became the very fortunate recipient of many of her projects. Whenever I would come to visit, she would borrow books and have them waiting for me to look through and choose something that I would like to have. On one visit, I chose a long, v-neck tunic. A lavender yarn caught my eye, and the anticipation of the finished garment began.

At the time, long tunics with bell bottom pants were popular (yep, I've lived long enough to see this trend circle around more than once!). While I waited, I designed my outfit, matching lavender bell bottom pants with a white blouse. The blouse had gathered sleeves and a tied neckline. Once the pants and blouse were finished, I eagerly anticipated the arrival of my grandmother's package. 

I moved to Chicago in 1982. At the time, Michigan Ave. was truly the Magnificent Mile. The stores that lined the avenue were Bonwit Teller, Marshall Field's, Lord and Taylor, Saks, I. Magnin, Nieman Marcus and more. Inside they glistened as though everything was made of gold and crystal. Incredible pieces of clothing hung beautifully on the racks. It was a dreamer's paradise. I interviewed for a position with I. Magnin and was offered the job. 

Although my official position was in cosmetics, we were encouraged to sell throughout the store as we were given commission on everything we sold. I developed a relationship with my customers and learned what they liked, as well as what they used and needed. Each morning when I arrived, I would quickly scan through the store to see what was new, what was on sale. The next few hours were spent on the phone calling customers. It made for a much easier shopping experience for the customers and a more lucrative situation for me. Sadly, all but Saks and Nieman Marcus are now just a memory. 

Although I live in Chicago, I usually save my trips to downtown for when I have an appointment. A week or so ago, I had a doctor's appointment, so I decided to do a little shopping. I had heard on the news that there were incredible bargains to be had. My first stop was Zara. I had never been in the store...and I will never return. As I walked through the door, I was shocked to see what looked more like a garage sale than a store on Michigan Ave. Clothes were hanging cock-eyed on the hangers, tables were a jumbled mess. It all felt rather surreal, and my head began to scream, GET OUT OF HERE!!!. My next stop was Banana Republic. The store was well taken care of, nothing hanging off of a hanger, or piled on the floor. I saw a strapless dress on a mannequin that looked rather nice, but on closer inspection, it was flimsy with no built in support. From there, I popped into H&M, Top Shop, and Macy's. I felt heartbroken that the lovely shopping experience that at one time existed was now gone, but not totally. 

I walked into Ralph Lauren and was met with lovely, soothing music. The sales clerks were welcoming. I struck up a conversation with one and asked if she had customers who could not afford to buy non-sale items. She said, "oh, quite a few." She went on to describe basically the same shopping experience that we offered so many years ago at I. Magnin. She said that when a sale was about to hit, she has a list of customers that she calls to alert. She said that she also has customers who can only afford items if they have been marked down the second time, and she added, "I love them all!" 

This week I began working on a sweater that is on my list of knitted pieces that I would like to complete this year. 

As I knitted each row, and the piece grew longer, I found myself dreaming of how I would like to wear the garment, tights with over the knee gray boots. Then the memory of the lavender tunic came to mind, and how I anticipated its arrival and cherished the outfit each time I wore it. I ended up literally wearing it out.  

I think that for those who sew, our clothes have continued to remain precious. We honor great construction and beautiful fabric. And whether we purchase garments from high-end department stores or not, we do enjoy looking. 

While many cannot afford high-end clothing, I wonder if clothing for many has lost the factor of being cherished, respected and lovingly cared for. After all,who cares if it falls apart, it didn't cost that much and another can be had. Do we still anticipate and look forward to having a new garment, or has shopping for a bargain replaced a desire for quality? 

I would love to hear your thoughts :)  

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