Friday, March 30, 2018

April Showers Bring Umbrellas!!!

An umbrella is something most of us don't think about...UNTIL WE NEED ONE!!! There have been so many times that I have not looked at the weather before leaving home, only to be caught in the rain, then running into a drugstore just to purchase a crummy umbrella. And then there are the times that I have an umbrella, but it has been left in the car. 

The Haute Couture Club of Chicago will be doing an umbrella workshop after our April meeting, so I needed to get mine together in order to conduct the workshop. What a fun projectthis turned out to be!

I chose this sweet bird print for the outside of my umbrella.

But as usual, I couldn't leave well enough alone, and decided to line my umbrella. There are no instructions for lining the umbrella, but it isn't difficult to do.

Not only is it my favorite color, I love how the fabric gives the feeling of clouds.

I did do the strap so that my umbrella will close completely, but I just love how it looks when the folds are hanging out. Too pretty to just leave in the closet :)

The pattern is from My Little World and you can find the pattern as well as the umbrella frame HERE.

All the notions you will need.

 This is the kit I used for the umbrella frame.

To line the umbrella, rather than serge my seams as the pattern instructs, I pressed my seams open.

I laid the top and lining fabrics together and sewed all around the bottom. Once stitched, I clipped the seam allowance, and then opened one of the seams and turned the fabrics to the right side.   

I have not sprayed the surface of my umbrella to make it waterproof, but I will before using it.

The fabric came from the sweet little shop I have told you about, The Fabric Nook in Granby, Colorado. If by chance you like what I bought, give Tina a call. The bird fabric is from Hoffman Fabrics, New Leaf Stitches. The blue/green fabric is from Moda Fabrics, made in Japan, pattern #30150. If you do order the fabric from Tina, just tell her that it was the fabric that Rhonda purchased, she'll know what you are talking about :)

It was such a fun project, and I can't wait to use my new umbrella. who would have thought I would actually want it to rain?!!!

Here's to April showers :)

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Thursday, March 29, 2018

A Delicious Treat For Easter/ Champagne Carrot and Raisin Cake

There's a new word for people who are obsessed with a healthy diet, Orthorexia, at least it's new to me. The termed was first coined in 1997 by a physician to describe his own approach to food and his pattern of eating. Orthorexia has not officially been recognized as an eating disorder, but many healthcare workers and nutritionists have seen an up rise in patients who are so consumed with food purity and quality that they are restricting their diets in potentially dangerous ways. Well, that's not me!!! While I basically follow a vegetarian lifestyle, and I try to limit sugar and processed foods, I LOVE a piece of cake from time to time, and Easter has cake written all over it...at least for me :)

If you by chance are looking for something a little different for your Easter dinner feast, this is a cake that is easy to make and delicious. The basic recipe is straight off of a box of cake mix. I was initially lead to the cake as I hate to waste much of anything, and it always seems that when I have a dinner party, wine is left over. Quite often, I will pour left over wine in a baggie and freeze it. I love to cook mussels in leftover white wine, or Prosecco. I'll use red and white wine in pasta sauce mixes, and so on. This cake will use up a good bit of leftover white wine, or Prosecco. Prosecco is my preferred white wine. I love the delicate sparkle. Although Prosecco is not champagne, the cake could be made with leftover champagne, and I thought it a better title :) 

To begin, combine 1 cup of leftover white wine with 1/2 cup of raisins. Bring to a boil, turn heat off, leave lid on pot and allow the raisins to steam for 1/2 hour or more. They will plump up nicely. 

Drain the raisins and reserve the raisin liquor.

Sprinkle a small amount of the cake mix over the raisins to coat. This will keep them from falling to the bottom of the cake while baking. Set aside. 

Once the cake batter has been assembled, add 1 cup of shredded carrots, the raisins, 

And 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. Mix well.

In a separate bowl, mix 1/4 cup of chopped pecans, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/4 cup of brown sugar. 

Grease and flour bundt pan and sprinkle a layer of chopped pecans over the bottom. Be generous!

Spoon half of the cake batter over the pecans. 

Sprinkle half of the sugar, pecan and cinnamon mixture over the cake batter. 

Pour remaining cake batter over the sugar mixture and then sprinkle the rest of the sugar mixture on top of the cake batter. 

Take a knife and swirl the sugar mixture through the batter being careful not to disturb the pecans on the bottom of the pan. 

While the cake is baking, make the glaze, using 1 stick of butter, 1/4 cup of water, and 1 cup of sugar. Bring to a boil and allow to boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. The glaze will take on a pretty pale yellow color. 

Turn heat off and add 1/4 cup of white wine.  

Once cake has baked, remove from oven, and while still in the pan, spoon 2/3 of the glaze mixture over the cake. I like to take a wooden skewer and poke lots of little holes in the top of my cake prior to pouring on the glaze. 

Allow the cake to sit in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove cake from pan and place on serving dish. Spoon the rest of the glaze over the top of the cake. So pretty:) If you would like, for a prettier presentation, you could dust a little powdered sugar over the cake. 

Champagne Carrot and Raisin Cake
downloadable recipe


1 cup white wine(or sparkling white wine like Prosecco)
1/2 cup raisins

Cake Batter;
1 box yellow cake mix
1 3 oz. box instant vanilla pudding mix
1/2 cup water 
3/4 cup vegetable oil
Reserved wine from raisins plus enough white wine to equal 1/2 cup
4 eggs
1 cup shredded carrots
Reserved raisins
1 teaspoon cinnamon 

Sugar Streusel;
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped pecans

1 stick of butter 
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup white wine(or sparkling wine)

Approximately 1/2 cup of chopped pecans for bottom of cake.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees
Baking Time 1 hour 10 minutes

Begin by placing raisins and wine in pot and bringing to a boil. Cover and allow to steam for at least 30 minutes to allow the raisins to plump up and absorb some of the wine. After the raisins have steamed, drain and reserve the liquor from the raisins. Sprinkle a small amount of the dry cake mix over the raisins, and stir to coat. Set both raisins and liquor aside.

Combine cake mix, pudding mix, vegetable oil, water, reserved liquor from raisins, and eggs. Beat well for 2 minutes to combine. Stir in shredded carrots, reserved raisins, and cinnamon.

Combine sugar, cinnamon and chopped pecans for sugar streusel.

Grease and flour bundt pan. Sprinkle chopped pecans over bottom of pan to coat. Pour half of cake batter over chopped pecans. Spoon half of the sugar streusel over the cake batter. Pour remaining cake batter over streusel, and finish with remaining streusal. Take knife and swirl the streusel mixture through the cake batter being careful not to disturb pecans on the bottom. Place in oven and bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until knife inserted comes out clean.

Make glaze. Combine butter, water and sugar in pan. Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in white wine. Set aside until cake is removed from the oven.

Once cake has baked, remove from the oven. While still in the bundt pan, poke holes all over the top of the cake with a wooden skewer. Spoon 2/3 of the the glaze over cake. Allow the cake to remain in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove cake from pan and place on serving dish. Spoon remaining glaze over cake. 

The cake is best made a day ahead of time. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. If you would like, sprinkle cake with powdered sugar. Sliced strawberries make a lovely accompaniment too!Serve and enjoy!  

If you are having guests for Easter, they will probably enjoy a piece of this cake for breakfast too!!!

Happy Easter Everyone!

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Wednesday, March 28, 2018

A Special Wednesday Showcase/A Tribute

Last Saturday, March 24, 2018, a beautiful, creative part of our worldwide sewing community left this earth, Lorraine of Spotty Dog Social Club

I originally "met" her not long after she began blogging. She had begun to follow my blog, and so I did a Wednesday Showcase post, introducing her to all who did not yet know her. In her bio she says that she loves knitting, sewing, her dogs, and her husband, but I'm sure the order should have been changed a bit :).

Over the years, although her style changed, she grew more and more beautiful. Truly the mark of a well lived life. She discovered the patterns of Tina Givens and truly found her unique style. 

Her knitting was something to be envied. 

She also took some of the most beautiful pictures, which were not just pictures, but works of art.

In her quilting, you can see her lovely sense of humor, and her love for all things fun.

She took pride in her work, and wasn't ashamed to admit when she thought the work of her hands was spectacular.

Her love of all things lovely was even expressed in the most intimate of attire.  

Lorraine loved making pajamas, as well as making gifts for Christmas. Great care was given to even the tiniest details, like her sweet labels. 

There are few pictures I love more than those of a girl and her dog. This is Lorraine the day she adopted her sweet dog Nico, who incidentally, got them thrown out of their first day of doggie training!!! Nico, not Lorraine ;)

As I scrolled through her blog, I noticed that in so many of her pictures, Lorraine is looking up. Maybe in some way she knew. In her husband's tribute to her, on the day of her passing, he says, "Tonight there is a new star in the sky, brighter and more beautiful than any other." 

I hope that you will take some time to scroll through Lorraine's blog. I think that you will be inspired by her life, her work, and her beauty. While she left us far too soon, her life was truly an exquisite work of art.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Something Sweet to Knit and Eat!

Do you ever take a long, hard look at your wardrobe and realize that something needs to be done? Well, I recently looked at my spring/summer wardrobe and it looked tired and in need of some fun new pieces. 

I subscribe to the Webs Yarn Store website. About a month ago, they showcased a yarn from Berroco called Medina, along with the knitted pullover you see below. I liked the pullover, so I decided to take a look and see what other colors the yarn came in. I love peaches, greens, blues, so the Rabat colorway was right up my alley. 

The video below shows the full top. The piece is really nothing more than rectangles. It's worked entirely in garter stitch, so although the pattern states that it's for an intermediate knitter, it's really quite easy. The pattern is free if you purchase 4 skeins of the Berroco Medina. To knit this tunic, you will need 4 or more skeins. You can find the information on getting the free pattern booklet HERE.  

My front and back are finished. I need to purchase a circular needle to do the sides. That's on my agenda for today :) I just can't wait to get this piece finished. I absolutely love the yarn. It has such a gorgeous drape, and it feels so soft against the skin. 

I added the picture below so you can see the fiber makeup of the yarn. 

Now for a little something sweet:)

I enjoy a cookie from time to time in the afternoon along with a cup of tea. In my book, there's nothing better than a homemade cookie. The cookie below is dark, rich and satisfying, so one will do the trick...usually!

I'm having a little fun with the name of the cookie as you can see below. It's really just a basic cookie dough recipe with the addition of cocoa powder, with chocolate and butterscotch morsels.  

Moose Drop Cookies
printable recipe

1 1/4 cups sugar
1 cup butter softened
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup dark chocolate morsels
1 cup butterscotch morsels

*Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Combine butter and sugar until creamy. Add egg and vanilla and beat until smooth. Combine flour, cocoa powder, and baking soda. Add flour mixture to creamed mixture 1/2 cup at a time. Stir in chocolate and butterscotch morsels.

Drop by rounded tablespoon full onto ungreased cookie sheet, 2" apart. Bake in preheated oven for 8-11 minutes. Allow to cool. 
Makes approximately 3 dozen cookies. 

**If you would like, 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts may be added to the dough before baking. 

Hope you enjoy the cookies!!!

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Monday, March 19, 2018

Monday Morning Inspiration/Movies, Escape and Fashion

This past weekend, I was not feeling well, so I decided to do something kinda fun. I rented 3 movies and had a movie watching marathon. When the movie "Murder on the Orient Express" came out, I so wanted to see it, but life got in the way, and I missed my opportunity to see it on the big screen. Although it was on a much smaller screen, I  was not disappointed. The scenery is spectacular, the costumes gorgeous, and the story was well told. I enjoyed it from beginning to end. For me, it was a true Hollywood movie, rather larger than life, a bit of an escape.

"The Florida Project" peeked my interest as I like the actor Willem Dafoe(he was also in Murder on the Orient Express). I can't say that I enjoyed the movie, but I did find it quite interesting, and I'm happy that I rented it. In the shadow of the make believe world of Disney lies a real world that is all too hard to believe. The movie is sad, disturbing, and yet there is a sweetness, especially in the character played by Willem Dafoe. He displayed the ability to be compassionate to people whom most of us would only judge.

The final movie was "Lady Bird." Here again, I rented the movie as I really enjoy the actress, Laurie Metcalf(the sister in Rosanne, and the mother of Sheldon in The Big Bang Theory). The title of the movie comes from the name that the daughter decided to give herself. I had to laugh a little as a friend of mine has a 4 year old son who insists that his name is Tiny Tree Frog. If by chance I slip and call him by his name, the name his parents gave him, he quickly reminds me that his name is Tiny Tree Frog. The character in this movie does exactly the same whenever someone calls her by her given name. Ironically, one of the most touching scenes for me was when the priest from the school that Lady Bird attended was admitted into the mental hospital where her mother worked. I thought it was an interesting look at how we look at our parents as well as those who are in authority. We want to see them as somehow perfect, and yet they are every bit as human, every bit as fallible as anyone else. Not an excuse, but a reason nonetheless.  

As I'm sure you know, Hubert de Givenchy died this past week. I must admit that I didn't know he was still alive!!! Shame on me :/ When I worked at the Chicago History Museum, I had the opportunity to catalog a couple of his designs into the costume collection. They were simple in design, but extravagantly made. Such a treat to have the opportunity to look at them inside and out. As most of us know, Audrey Hepburn was his muse. They developed a beautiful relationship that lasted until Ms. Hepburn died in 1993. She was the face of Givenchy.

He was there when Ms. Hepburn won the Oscar for her role in Roman Holiday.

He designed exquisite pieces for her to wear in the movie Sabrina.

This little outfit that Givenchy designed and she also wore in Sabrina, is just as cute and wearable now as it was then.

The two of them made us all want to have breakfast at Tiffany's. And, the little black dress became a staple in every wardrobe.  

Givenchy designed this alluring outfit that Ms. Hepburn wore in How To Steel a Million.

A few more pieces that were not in the movies, but beautiful.

I love this picture. You can see the deep love and admiration that the two had for each other. And I wonder, would either of them have been who they became without the other?

The sun is shining, and I am feeling much, much better :) 
Have a wonderful week, and if you can, take a break and escape with a movie that you've wanted to see. Or, revisit and old movie. Sometimes the old movies that I've seen time and again have something new to say.

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Sunday, March 18, 2018

Sunday Night Reflections

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