Saturday, July 30, 2011

Learning to Sew

I've always wanted to craft and sew and paint. My mother had little patience for teaching. She's pretty much show you something once if she even agreed to it, and if you didn't get it, you were out of luck. I don't remember her teaching me to sew, but I know I was really young. I remember when we were stationed in Alabama (ages 6-9) piecing remnants together for doll clothes before my mom would tidy up and throw them away. I made this pillow at age 9 (excuse the wrinkles, it has been in a bag in the closet for years/decades).

I begged my mom to teach me to sew on the sewing machine my whole childhood. She attempted to teach my older sister and ended up with a broken sewing machine and no patience left and refused to teach me. I finally saved enough money with babysitting money and bought one for myself at age 16, the summer before I entered my senior year of high school. I bought the cheapest Brother machine at Wal-mart and learned to sew from the manual that came from the machine and the instructions that came with the pattern for this doll, which was my first sewing machine project.

I mistakenly thought that a smaller project would be easier. When I presented it to my mom, she asked me why I would choose such a small doll to make and asked me if it wasn't hard. I had no frame of reference. Yes, it was hard, but I didn't know if it was harder or easier to make than anything else. At that time, I also didn't know about any other tools I might need, such as a seam ripper, and I didn't know what tracing paper or a tracing wheel was, so I pretty much winged it. The doll has lots of flaws and many were corrected with hand sewing, which I was pretty good at. Since then I've read anything I can get my hands on about sewing. I'm constantly trying to improve and I'm sure that there are lots of basics that I'm still in the dark about, even as I've mastered some advanced techniques.

The moral of the story is that if you want to learn, just jump right in. I know a lot of people online will tell you not to waste your money on a cheap machine or only buy a machine that was built at least a half a century ago and made of all metal, but I disagree. If you have never sewn on a nice machine, then you won't know the difference. I used that cheap machine for 7 years before I upgraded and although I would have liked a nicer one, I made Renaissance festival costumes and quilted quillows on it. There are a ton of basic sewing books at library and don't be too embarrassed to ask other customers at fabric and craft stores (I don't give much credit to most employees though, especially if you look younger than 50).

Friday, July 29, 2011

Feeling a need to donate

If you have money burning a hole in your pocket, please go here to see a list of children that are currently still in institutions waiting to be saved but lacking funding. They are all beautiful children with Down syndrome. Donating directly to their adoption funds is tax deductible.

Project Runway

I watched my first episode of Project Runway last night. How are they on season 9? Have they run more than one a year or has it really been that long since I watched tv? I realize that it could be both. After all, I am watching Buffy and Angel for the first time.

I was surprised by quite a few things. First that I really liked it. I really like sewing and I love art, so you would think I would be into fashion, but I'm really not. I never have been. My style likely has always been best described as creative nerd and that began way before nerds were at all remotely popular.

Second, I was surprised that I liked a lot of the designs. I don't know what I expected, but I guess a lot of runway fashions have really struck me as awful in the past and so I supposed that all the fashions I would see would be like that, over-the-top and unwearable. I loved Bert's dress and if I had that model's body I would totally wear that, even in those colors (though I'd probably prefer slightly different fabrics).

Third, I did not expect that my husband would have such strong ideas about fashion. Seriously, I know that everyone would be surprised by this not just me. After all, this is the man that cares so little about clothing that if I don't turn his shirts inside right before putting them in his closet, he will wear them inside out and not notice. BTW, he like Julie's top that she made and was completely surprised that I did not agree. Really, Q? Really??? At least he agreed that Rafael's design was by far the worst.

I did not expect that Heidi Klum would be so mean. I don't mean just with her criticism, but with the joy she seemed to take with delaying revealing the judges decisions. She also seemed pretty happy to bash on the designs.

I don't know much about fashion hosts or Christina Ricci, but really? That CR was one of the judges really surprised me. I don't know if anyone had told me that before and I just forgot or wasn't paying attention.

When I saw that Anya had no sewing experience, I was rooting for her immediately. I was surprised that the other designers were, too. I actually was surprised at how the designers seemed to be rooting for each other. I got the impression that these shows were all back stabby kind of shows and I didn't really get that. I also thought Tim was wonderful in the way he dealt with everyone.

I'd love to tell you a favorite that I'm rooting for, but I am intrigued by a number of them. I do love all the quirky personalities. I will say, it wouldn't disappoint me to see Laura go at all. Even before she made the 'speak foreign' comment, there was something that struck me wrong about her. Obviously it is petty of me to judge based on a comment and a feeling of superficiality instead of the design, but there it is. I didn't care for the outfit she designed, but I didn't hate it either, so it really is about how she came across.

Finally, I want to play with the tablet and whatever program they have on it. It looks like fun.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Sewing Withdrawal

I put my sewing machine and equipment upstairs to prepare for Darth Baby's baptism gathering. I left it up there until after a party I'm planning for the parents of children with Down syndrome that will be in San Antonio for the National Down Syndrome Congress convention being held in Early August. So I was going through sewing withdrawal pretty bad anyway when I got the new Burda magazine (08/2011). I've already read a couple of reviews bashing it and I have to say that I must be in the minority because I really like it.

I like both the jacket and the skirt in this picture. Since I have to add 2 1/2 inches for the FBA anyway, it might divide it into two darts.

I really like this skirt. I don't know how it would look on my figure, but I think I'd like to find out.

I'd like to try this dress also. It reminds me of a Vogue pattern that everyone and their dog seems to be making. The skirt is kind of growing on me, too.

Everyone seems to be making fun of this dress (everyone being two so far, but I'm sure the list is growing), but I love it. I wouldn't make it in pink though. Luckily, my cousin has supplied me with a bunch of knits to choose from.

Okay, these pants are clearly ridiculous. I wonder if my mom would like them (just kidding, Mom).

These shorts were designed for me. Yes, I know that they are probably designed only for me, but it is likely that they will make it on to my sewing pile, especially since warmish shorts are perfect for Texas in late autumn and winter.

And the last image that caught my fancy. I really like the top. The pants are kind of eh, but I'm wondering if I might like them more if they weren't pink. There is a lot of fabric around the hips, which I imagine wouldn't be flattering anyway.

I'll leave you with a pic of the preview page for next month. Now this gives me a lot to laugh at and wonder about.


I made butter!

I have a Vitamix blender that is about 20 years old that I love and has gotten a LOT of use. It has been through at least five moves and been dropped many times. The last time I dropped it or maybe the time before, it lost it's ability to have variable speed and is stuck on max, but because these blenders are really expensive, we were continuing to use it as I mostly make smoothies and it was still good for that. I was using almost every day and sometimes more often. Costco had them on sale this past weekend and Q agreed that considering how often I used it and how useful having variable speeds are that we should replace it. I've had it since Saturday and have already used it 6 times. This morning I used it to make butter, marvelous, fabulous unsalted butter. The nerdlet was trying to scoop it out of the blender to eat it straight.

I started with 2 cups of whipping cream.

Then blended it on and off at half speed for about 5 minutes.

Then I poured out the liquid.

And I just had to store it in an old 'I Can't Believe It's Butter' container.

I can't believe how easy it was and how good it came out. If you have a Vitamix, I highly recommend you try it at least once. The whipping cream cost about a dollar and a half and you can buy a pound of butter for $3, so you aren't really saving any money, but it's so cool to do.

On another note, the Tastefully Simple party to help fund Amy's adoption of Liam is still going on. To order, go to Tastefully Simple and list me 'Kimberly Hughes' as the host and 100% of the profits are directed to Liam's adoption. This party is going to run until August 15th but Amy, Liam, and I would all love it if you ordered now. At Darth Baby's baptism, I served the artichoke dip, the taco cheese ball, and the chocolate pound cake. The dips were finished within minutes of coming out (and this was a small gathering). I ended up scraping the bowls before they went into the sink. I really recommend the artichoke dip. Even my husband really liked it and he doesn't care much for artichoke.

I don't know if the pound cake wasn't devoured because they were full on the dip or if it just wasn't as appealing, but it came out really wonderfully in the Wilton giant cupcake pan. If you are having a hard time getting a box mix to work in your cupcake pan, this is the mix to use. I measured out 2 cups of the batter to ensure that I put equal amounts in both the top and the bottom and it came out perfect, not over or undercooked anywhere in the cake.

As always you can skip the party food and donate directly to his adoption here, and donations are tax deductible. Thanks so much!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Another Where Have You Been Post

Last Sunday we baptized Darth Baby.

We had a gathering afterward with food from Tastefully Simple which I had planned to do a separate post on, but I didn't get pictures of the finished food before it started disappearing. I'll post about it in a bit, but there will be a definitely dearth of pictures.

Monday I started potty training the bear cub in force. Poor thing didn't know what hit her. She isn't showing any signs of readiness, but her sister didn't show very many (really only not being wet all the time) and she was potty trained in three days. I knew the bear cub wasn't going to be as easy, but I have a strong belief that if you miss your early window you have a child much older that is still struggling.

I'm using the same technique as I did with the nerdlet which is just to go cold turkey. In the morning, the diaper comes off (with my oldest we didn't do nighttime diapers so slightly different) and she goes on the potty, I entertain her until she goes the first time. Then we go to the potty every 10 to 15 minutes all day long with lots of praise when she gets it. I also offer lots of drinks, but Chloe isn't a big eater or drinker so she isn't really drinking any more than usual. That was pretty much all day all week. I've even been taking her out with panties. Today is day seven and we're at about a 50% on the potty 50% accident. Once we have a higher success rate, I'll move the time to longer between trying.

Bear is tired of potty training though. I put her on the potty and tell her to sign potty as I do it and instead she signs "I baby". She also went over to the diaper changing table and started pulling on the edge like she wanted up. Overall though, I think we're doing okay and she isn't really resisting going to sit even as often as we do it.

My mom and a lot of other people think I'm crazy and I know she isn't ready the way that is traditionally thought, but I have confidence she'll get it. It will just take longer. Of course, you also may see a post in three months that I'm finally giving up for a little bit. I am just that stubborn.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Greenling Again

I know that I said that I wasn't going to order a local box from Greenling again, but I lied. This is actually my fourth one. I just love the fresh fruits and vegetables delivered to my door, and my sister stated it perfectly when she said it is like food tasted when we were little. It tastes like it is supposed to taste. My sister and I used to get in trouble because we would eat the stuff out of the garden and farm at my grandparents, and these fruits and vegetables taste like that did. Also it is getting me to eat stuff that I wouldn't normally buy and I'm reveling in it. If you live in the area covered by Greenling, I can't recommend it enough.

The box as I opened it.

Purslane. I will be making a green smoothie out of this after I taste it. I've been meaning to try it but unwilling to butcher my beautiful purslane out front.

Blueberries. The nerdlet grabbed these right away so that I could wash them and she is snacking on them right now. I've learned that when I open the box, she is expecting to eat something out of it right away. I disappointed her last week.


Basil. I think it's spicy globe basil. When I opened the box, the smell of the fresh basil hit me and it was divine. I'll be using this with the tomatoes and picking up some fresh mozzarella, I think.

New potatoes.

Figs. My mom loves these. I'll definitely save some for her.


Nectarines. I love nectarines. I could eat all four of these in one sitting.

Yellow bell pepper. I'm thinking of picking up some chorizo and combining it with some of the onions and peppers and having breakfast burritos all week.

Eggplants. I'm thinking some baba ghanouj, but that still leaves a lot of eggplant. I'll be researching recipes, I guess, unless anyone has any suggestions.

I do have a coupon code for people trying it for the first time, KIMHUG241, but I think it isn't stackable with the one you get from their website and their coupon is better, but I'm posting it just in case anyone tries it.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Simplicity 2369 and a RTW Copy of a Top

My sewcation is almost over and I ended up making 5 separate items of two patterns.

The first was a top and a dress from Simplicity 2369. I really love this pattern. I feel like it's flattering and I like the way it feels on me.

The second pattern that I made was the copy of the RTW top that my sister requested. I made the one in green for me to make sure that it worked. Then I practiced using my new finger removal tool by stacking fabric to cut to make two more. The black one is for my sister. Even though they are the same size, the yellow and black fabric is much tighter as it doesn't stretch as much.

It's much more flattering on my sister, who is five inches taller than me, but I think it is somewhat becoming on me, too. I didn't get any of the shorts made yet that I had planned, but I do have a number of patterns traced from Ottobre and Burda for when I have an opportunity I'm missing Q and the girls terribly and can't wait for them to walk through the door.