Saturday, June 29, 2013

Ottobre Design Magazine 4-2013

I'm very excited about the new Ottobre that is due for release July 8th.

This is the cover.
Does that not look like a child's version of the Tiramisu.  I figure I'll just change the bottom out for a circle skirt and possibly lengthen the waist band.

There are other cute designs, too.  It seems that their 4th version of the year is usually my favorite.

Thursday, June 27, 2013


Can you guess what this is?

I cut out these five versions tonight.  I'm hoping to have time to sew at least a little this weekend.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Great Peanut Butter Cookie Experiment

Once a week, I get my niece, the Drama Princess.  Normally, we go to the park, then have lunch, and finish with a craft.  Today, the girls talked me into doing a baking experiment instead of the craft I had planned.  We decided to see what would make the best peanut butter cookies.

We made four small batches of cookies consisting of 1/2 cup single ingredient peanut butter, 1/2 dark brown sugar, and 1/2 egg.  The nerdlet's was the only one that varied here and that was because in her vigorous stirring she pushed some of the brown sugar out of her batch.  I don't think it was really enough to make a difference here.

The girls were then allowed to choose what to add to their batch.  

The drama princess chose 1/3 cup cauliflower, which I steamed and put through the food processor.  They came out dark and gooey and spread the most.  They were the only ones to stick to the foil.  They took much longer than the other cookies to cook.

The nerdlet chose 1/3 cup chocolate chips.  These retained their shape and original color the most.  They required the least cooking and seemed to hold their shape the best.

Darth Baby reached for the extracts, which I interpreted to mean 1 tsp of vanilla extract.  They spread very little and while they were the darkest batter, they lightened to close to the same color as those without.  Sorry about the picture.  I didn't bother to even look at the pictures until I let them dig into the cookies.

I chose for the bear cub and she went with 1/3 cup flour, a pinch of salt, and two pinches of baking soda.  They spread and rose, lightened quite a bit from the batter, and were very crumbly.

The drama princess was sure that she would like the flour batch the most, but it turned out that she liked the chocolate chip version the most.  My three girls actually liked the cauliflower version the most, which came out very gooey, but definitely retained the most peanut butter flavor.  The bear cub's version with the flour, salt, and baking soda was the least peanut buttery and the least popular, but definitely came out the most like a typical cookie.  

All four of the girls seemed to really enjoy this experiment and it was a great way to talk about experimental controls and test results.  

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Giant Dahlia Dress

At the beginning of the month I was inspired to make the Giant Dahlia skirt.  This weekend, Q took the girls to visit my mom and I took the time to finish a bunch of UFOs sitting by my machine (though I still have a bunch more).  I finished turning it into a dress and when Q got home with the girls, I had the nerdlet try it on.

The top is actually Young Image Y1307 from the Spring/Summer 2013 issue.  I actually bought this at the Barnes & Noble a mile from our house.  I was really surprised that they were carrying Young Image and My Image magazines because they wouldn't even order the Burda or Ottobre magazines for me.  I made a size 104, which might be okay, but because of the tremendous weight of this skirt tends to pull down a lot.  I'm not sure how much this dress will get worn, but I had a lot of fun making it and seeing such a weird idea in my head come to fruition.  Even though it's not her colors and nothing like anything she wore, for some reason it reminds me of Vanellope Von Schweets.

The Neighbors' Butterfly Quilt

I've finished a quilt for my neighbors across the street.  We live in a good neighborhood, and despite the fact that our lawn and our poor maintenance of it must drive them crazy, these neighbors have done a lot for us.  They keep a good eye on our house.  The husband is a retired shop teacher and he has fixed a number of pieces of furniture that have been broken in our house by the girls.  When Darth Baby learned to unlock the front door and run out of the house, in less than a week, they came over and installed a second dead bolt six inches from the top of our door.  Most beneficial to me, they have taught me to say yes when help is offered, which is something I have always had a problem with (according to my mother, this was true for me even as a toddler).

So here is the quilt I made in appreciation.  I've posted the top before, but I just completed the quilting and the binding today (it's been waiting for an open time on my quilt frame).
 It's even prettier in real life.

A pic of the back where you can see the butterflies and flowers panto I used and the blanket stitch I bound it with.  This is a fairly popular panto with my quilting customers, but for some reason it gives me a lot of trouble sometimes; and this time was one of them, but the end result was worth it, I think.

I thought this would be hard for me to part with, but I'm actually pretty excited about giving it to them.  I sure hope it is used and not stashed in a closet.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Ottobre 03-2012-17

I've had kind of a busy day.  Yesterday, my lovely Darth Baby was in what I'd like to think is rare form, but in reality is pretty much typical form for her, and one of the typical things that she did was to try to pull a 4-pound box of plums out of the fridge by herself.  This resulted in almost all of the plums being split open, Yesterday, I cleaned them up and chopped them and prepared them for jam and sterilized the jars, and today my day started with the making of plum jam.  I made five 8-oz containers and one 4-oz.

I used this recipe from  I ended up having less than 1/3 of the sugar and so the jam ended up being fairly tart, but still enjoyable.  I think it likely would be the right amount of sugar for my tastes, but the plums weren't quite ready on their own to be made into jelly.

I'll skip past the boring cleaning, organizing, and gardening and get to the fun sewing.  I made three versions of the Seesaw Jersey Top from Ottobre 03-2012-17.  My MIL had embroidered the front.  All three versions are size 104 with different amounts of added length.  After making this top in the 98 and it being so tight, I thought going up a size would be better, but I think the 98 is the right size for a knit and these might end up being too big for the girls, who Q took up to see my mom this weekend.

I also traced the Denim Jacket from 03-2013 for my MIL to make my nephew.  It's kind of a neat little pattern and I can't wait to see it made up.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Carrot Cupcakes

The nerdlet loves carrot cake.  She loves it so much that she asked for it for the birthday cake for her 3rd and 4th birthday.  She also loves carrots so I hardly ever have enough carrots to make carrot cake even if I buy enough because she is demanding to eat them by the time we get home.  This week right after buying a big bag of carrots for her to eat, Greenling delivered me a huge amount in my local box, so I decided to make carrot cupcakes for her.

This is the bear cub after the first taste when I handed her the bowl with the whole one in it.

I took this picture and put my camera back and before I got back, the bear cub decided that her first one wasn't enough and had one of each of these in each hand and was devouring them as fast as she could.  In fact, I didn't bother to frost them at all because all three of my girls and Q, who normally will not even taste a piece of carrot cake, were happily enjoying them unfrosted.  That is pretty rare.  While I might get the seal of approval from two of my three girls on any particular thing, it isn't often that I get all three girls and Q to enjoy the same thing.  Even any particular flavor of ice cream won't get all four to agree. 

Here is the recipe I used:
5 cups of grated carrots
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup golden raisins
4 eggs
1/2 coconut oil
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 small can crushed pineapple
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 heaping teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup coconut

1. Combine grated carrots and brown sugar.  Set aside for about an hour.  Then stir in raisins.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and flour 3 round 9" cake pans (or whatever pans you are using - this time I used cupcake tins and mini loaf pans).
3. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, allspice, and salt and set aside.
4. In large bowl, beat eggs until light.  Slowly beat in the white sugar, oil, and vanilla.  Stir in pineapple.  Stir in flour mixture until absorbed (stir as little as necessary).  Finally stir in carrot mixture, coconut, and walnuts.  Pour evenly into pans.
5. Bake 35-40 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean.  Cool 10 minutes in pan before removing to cool completely.  Frost with cream cheese frosting (my cupcakes took about 25 minutes and the mini loafs 30-35 minutes).

I've used this recipe a couple of times and using store bought organic carrots, I've never had an issue.  This time using the Greenling carrots,which are so much fresher, I had a lot of liquid accumulate in the grated carrot/brown sugar mixture.
 This is after 40 minutes of sitting.  I decided to add the raisins early to see how much liquid would be absorbed by the raisins.

 There was still a lot of liquid so I decided to drain it off.  I ended up draining about 1/2 cup of liquid off.  This is the dampness that I ended up with and there was still liquid in it, so I also drained about 1 Tbsp off the juice off the pineapple, too.

Just for reference, I thought I'd show what the final batter looks like moisture-wise.

While making these I was thinking that since this was really quite a bit more work than a regular cupcake that I wouldn't make them again if they weren't a big hit, but it looks like the muffins are more popular than the cake has been.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Star Wars Shrinky Dink Buttons

Remember Q's star wars shirt?  When he wore it into work, he apparently got a comment about it needing Star Wars buttons.  When I tried to find them online, the only kinds of buttons I could find are the pin on your shirt type of buttons.  So I decided I needed to make them.  I considered polymer clay, but I wasn't sure that I'm up for 3D types of buttons.  I ended up going with Shrinky Dinks.

As part of Q and my date night last night, I dragged him to Jo-Ann's and used my coupon to buy blank shrinky dinks and a 1.5 inch fiskar hole punch because the wise people on the internet said that they shrink to 1/3 of the size and I was looking for 1/2 inch buttons.  I don't advise if you try this yourself that you waste your money on the hole punch as we could not get it to punch the shrinky dink out.  I would trace around a 1.5 inch washer or something.  On a small kids sheet, I could get 15 1.5 inch disks.

Then I found a sheet of Star Wars drawings that I planned to trace here.  Apparently my printer is out of ink and the ink I used to replace it was the wrong type so I ended up having to freehand it.  I just drew them with pencil and colored them in with colored pencils.
They didn't come out as nicely as I wanted, but they aren't too bad, especially considering that I planned for the first ones to just be a trial.

I used a 1/4 inch hole puncher to punch the button holes and placed them on a foil lined sheet.

Then I popped them in the preheated oven.  Supposedly, they are supposed to bake for 1-3 minutes, but it took over five for them to lay flat.

I think they came out pretty well.

I'll let you know how they do after going through the wash a few know after I sew another Star Wars shirt for Q.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Ottobre 05-2006-25

Ottobre 05-2006-25 Slavic-Style Tunic Top was a joint effort by my MIL and myself.  I traced the pattern in size 110 when my niece was still that size this past fall and I left the fabric that my niece chose with my MIL to embroider on and give back.  The top was returned to me about three weeks ago to finish and I was thinking that I would wait until it got cold again, but since I already had hot pink on the serger and the cut out pieces were sitting there, I decided to finish it off tonight so I could try it on her and send it home with her tomorrow.

Even though I know she is over 110 cm now, I think it should still fit her when it gets cold enough for long sleeves here.  The reason I think this is that my nerdlet is 106 cm and it is really big on her and not just a little big, like I would have expected.  In fact, it is so much too big that I'm wondering if I traced a different size than 110, but that is what I wrote on the tracing.  I'll have to go back and check at some point.

I had to change quite a bit because my MIL didn't cut out all the pieces and she cut out two of each of the collar pieces instead of cutting them on the fold.  The missing pieces were the left front panel which I replaced with the closest color I could get which turned out to be a rib knit and the hem bands so they weren't really a big deal.  The collar turned out to not really be a big deal either as I just focused on setting the part that would be seen right and it is just very short on the inside of the tunic.  I also left off the elastic on the sleeves because my niece has a lot of sensory issues and I didn't want it to bother her.

I think it's cute enough I might make it again.  It definitely looks better in person and that is only partially because of not being shown on a body.  I think if I do make it again, I'll definitely match the size to the child's shoulders and go from there.

Monday, June 10, 2013

My First Bargello

I'm the queen of UFOs (unfinished objects).  I know that some people think that's probably quite a claim, but really my mom was complaining about my unfinished craft projects before I was 10.  I love to start projects and even like working on them for a while, but when I can see the end in my head clearly, I start to get bored and want to work on something else.  I'm getting much better about this, but I have decades of history starting crafts and either taking years to finish or not ever finishing them.

I decided before the nerdlet was born to start a bargello quilt.  I didn't bother to read how to do them and sort of just picked some fabrics and decided to try my luck.  The top was finished over five years ago and I finally got around to quilting it this past week.  Here is the quilted top in natural light.

I finished binding it last night and it just came out of the dryer under the bright halogens.
The back

And a closeup of the quilting.

I mean to hang it somewhere but it is just a smidge too wide for all my wall spaces that I thought were right for it.  It kind of makes me sad that I might have to hang it where it will be half hidden and considering moving one of the girls large toys (either the doll house or the kitchen) to the upstairs even though they are played with a lot where they are.  I'll likely just put in somewhere else until the girls outgrown one or the other.

I'm thinking I might invest in a book now and make one the 'right' way.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Corn Cakes

In theory, Q and I have two date nights a week.  One for just the two of us and one for us with one of the girls.  Our personal date nights most often consist of us going shopping for groceries or getting other things done that we haven't managed over the past week.  However, sometimes we even get dinner and one of the places we like to go is to the Cheesecake Factory.  Q usually gets the same thing, and I alternate between the Chicken Madeira (at least until I can successfully reproduce it - a work in progress and getting closer all the time) and trying new things on the menu.  Something I got recently was the Stuffed Chicken Tortillas, which comes with sides of black beans and a corn cake.  I decided that I needed to find a corn cake recipe, but I didn't really do anything about it.  Since the bear cub has had her tonsil and adenoidectomy, she has been really upset that she couldn't have any corn tortilla chips and so I thought making this might address her craving and still meet the 'only soft foods' requirement.  It also didn't hurt that the Greenling local boxes have fresh corn in them right now.

A Google search resulted in a knock off recipe here.  I changed the frozen corn for fresh (cooked in the pressure cooker) and used 2 cups of corn instead of 1 1/2 cups, but otherwise, I pretty much stuck to the recipe.  It resulted in a version that looked just like what I got at Cheesecake Factory, but was both a little grainy, a little sweet, and a little greasy.  The bear cub and Darth Baby both really liked it.

Since I had put 6 ears of corn (and a couple of smaller branch offs) in the pressure cooker, I had about four cups of corn, and I decided to see what this recipe would taste like if I took out the dairy.  I like to take the dairy out of my girls diet whenever I can, but I also don't have a lot of fake versions of dairy or other non-vegetarian items around, so instead of a fake butter, I used olive oil and instead of milk, I used a coconut/almond milk mixture.  I also used lessened the amounts.  My version doesn't look as appetizing, but even Q admitted that the texture and the flavor was better, though if I make it again, I don't think I'll use olive oil, but another oil choice because you can smell the olive oil in the finished product.

Here is the recipe I used for the second version:
1/3 oil or butter
1/3 masa harina
1/3 milk of choice
1/4 cup corn meal
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups corn kernels (I just throw the ears in the pressure cooker with ~1/2 cup water and steam for 6-7 min.)

Preheat oven to 350.  Mix oil, masa harina, and milk well in a medium bowl.  Add corn meal, sugar, and baking powder and beat until smooth.

Drain the corn and chop in food processor.  Don't over process.  This is what mine looked like when I was done.

Add the corn to the batter and mix some more.  Spread into a container, cover with foil, and add to a water bath.  I put the containers you see above and some ramekins into a 9 x 13 pan and filled the outer pan with hot water about 1 1/2 inches of water.  Place into the oven for 60 minutes.  This isn't too long even for the small ramekins I used.

Remove from oven and uncover.  Let sit for 15 minutes before serving.  The Cheesecake factory then shapes into patties and pan fries them before serving these, but I didn't bother.  I'm thinking that next time I try these I might mix the batter in the food processor and add a chipotle in adobo sauce to the mix.

The nerdlet didn't eat more than 3 tablespoons, but her sisters have been more than willing to edge over to her plate and help finish her serving off.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Monday, June 3, 2013

Weed killing

For those that are curious, boiling water really works for killing weeds and grass.  I used it in the cracks in my driveway and the road in front of our lot.  I simply put on the tea kettle filled with water and when it started singing poured it along the crack.  The clover turned brown and shriveled as I was pouring.  The grass and some of the other weeds (I don't know the names of many weeds) stayed green.  The first weeds I pulled as much as I can after boiling them and they pulled up super easy and the grass easier than unboiled, but I didn't get them all.  When I went back today (about a week later), the ones that I didn't pull up were dead and gone.  I don't like to use poison on anything on or around our house.  I'm allergic to bleach, and I don't like to use salt because nothing will grow later if I want it to, so boiling water is perfect for me to use on the weeds.  Also, on the edge of the yard where I had poured boiling water on the weeds, grass has already started to grow.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Giant Dahlia skirt

Have you ever been inspired to dress your child like a court jester?  Really, the jester affect wasn't a part of my inspiration, but I let the nerdlet choose the colors.  I was inspired by a quilt top (not really a giant dahlia) whose pieces are sitting by my sewing machine currently and decided to try to make the nerdlet a skirt before the idea passed through my head never to be seen again.  I really should just start a notebook for these sorts of ideas.

This is the skirt, but it's currently in the sewing process.  I really think it would be quite lovely if the colors weren't so contrasting.  All three of the girls have been really excited about it, and I've had to reweave it a number of times today, as every time I move away from it they start playing with it.

I did take pictures of my process so far, though you probably can figure it out.

 Here I just flipped the top layer.

I'm not normally a pinner, but I had to pin the life out of this.  I'm about a third of the way sewing it, which I'm just zigzagging the edges.