Holiday stitches

I held off on this post in the hope of a better photo turning up, but my family isn’t interested in taking anything more than a quick snapshot.

Alberta Street Pencil skirt 

Sutton blouse (fabric from an Anthropology jumpsuit that I bought on clearance to repurpose because I love that plaid! But I am thankful I’ll never have to sew with its fraying edges again.)

 *disclaimer: photos for illustration only, not photographic integrity.*
  The mother/daughter, “Look at my cute outfit pose.”

  This is blurry because my son took it, but it’s one of the only pictures to show the entire head to toe look. (Shoes are from my high school choir trip to Italy. Son said, “Those look 20 years old!” Little did he know…

   
Seriously. These photos capture the hectic moment of “let’s get a few nice shots before leaving for Christmas Eve service.”  

Other pre Christmas sewing included a Lane Raglan and two One Hour Tops for my daughter all from cotton rayon jersey, and also a One Hour top from a po team knit for me. I’ll admit that while it isn’t a flattering silhouette, the comfort level (and the loose fit to cover problem areas) makes it a huge win. My go-to weekend attire lately.

In other news, I finally joined Club Serge yesterday with a new-to-me Brother 3034D. 

  
The Craigslist seller said she used it to run some test stitches and then life picked up speed and no time for sewing. It took me less than an hour to thread it and run my own test stitches. I’m pleased as punch, but still awaiting my new sewing room. Construction is underway, but there’s no firm completion date. 

I have three more days of 2015 to complete my primary sewing goal of an ultimate handbag. A goal that got lost in the shuffle, but as my daughter said, “You had better get to work!” And so I shall.

´╗┐Doing the opposite

I blog about things in progress, rather than the finished goods. I guess that’s the opposite of what everyone else does. I simply get excited about the making. 

I’m working on the Alberta Street pencil skirt right now. It shouldn’t take me as long as it is, but I slowed down to work on being more precise. <gasp!> As it happens, this is the opposite of my usual sewing behavior. I used the seam ruler for every seam. Pressed as per the directions, every single time. I cast off my, “approximate is good enough” demeanor for once. One small snag, when I finally got to stitch the side seams and try it on, it looks awful! Disappointment, relief and more work. 

Disappointment because the fit is not good. Too loose across the front and sides – not anything like a form fitting pencil skirt. I cut the pattern by choosing my waist size. It’s my biggest problem area. I think I’m an apple or a spoon, more like a spare tire with regular proportions everywhere else. I should have graded down in the hips & skirt body because let’s just say if I had thunder thighs and a ham in back I bet it would be perfect. I don’t. (That is part of the relief.)

  
Relief also comes from knowing I can work with this and learn something if I can stay focused and uninterrupted. (Last night sewing took place from 10pm-12:30am.) The waist feels good, but maybe too good. Since the fabric has some stretch, maybe it could be more snug. My choice is to leave that as is, but work at taking in the sides starting at the hip and moving down. I was able to pinch in about an inch from the hip area! That  translates to 4″, doesn’t it?Experiment in fit coming up tonight.

The promise of an amazing skirt is within my reach. Truthfully this is my muslin because I only used about a yard of the gold foil stretch denim I bought at Joanns over the weekend (I can’t find it online.) I still have about two yards left and a 1 7/8 yds of teal corduroy also intended for an Alberta Street. So achieving a good fit is my mission. 

New Traditions

My family lives on some acreage in the country. We have room to explore and often find treasures from nature that get added to our home decor. 

We pass impressive stands of holly with limbs full of red berries. Some varieties keep the leaves and other varieties do not, leaving the berries to stand out from the ash colored limbs. For years I’ve wanted to cut some to decorate the mantle, but hub says the berries may be poisonous to our pets. Fair enough.

This year a lightbulb went off.   I’ve never decorated at the entry gate and I had an unused wire wreath form. Perfect! We could make a wreath for the gate.

Sunday was a beautiful day so I gathered my supplies: clippers, yarn, wreath form and took a little hike through the woods. I wanted the holly that was mainly berries and branches, but had not seen any on our property. As I hiked I found an old stone artifact that Indians would use to straighten arrow shafts! Jackpot! I always scan the ground as I walk because we find petrified wood and fossils, sometimes arrowheads too. 

After my celebration, the holly I wanted appeared only 200 yards further.  I started by weaving the limb cuttings into the wreath form. Then I clipped some of the evergreen variety to fill it in and make it even.

  
Here it is hanging on the gate in the late afternoon. I’m excited to add making the holiday wreath to our little list of traditions.

When I got home, the kids (who did not want to help make the wreath) reminded me of another tradition. We hadn’t hung any mistletoe! Last year we were able to reach a good bunch on our elm tree in the front yard. (Sadly, we had to cut the elm down this spring as it was at the end of its life cycle and risked falling in the house.) We needed to go exploring to try and find some mistletoe elsewhere. The oak trees near the house had some mistletoe, but no berries. So we hiked through a cut to reach the woods on the hill. No mistletoe back there at all. The kids gave up and started climbing the oldest oaks on the hillside. I ambled about and found a deer antler shed. Then we headed back towards the house, kids first and myself lagging behind to make sure the cats followed.

Halfway back to the house the perfect mistletoe, complete with berries, hung on a limb just within my reach. Hooray! Now it is hanging above our front door.

  

And of course, another tradition we have is that I make the kids something for Christmas. This year it was cotton jersey buffalo plaid pj pants. I’m sure these will never get hemmed because my kids are too eager to wear them. 

My son also requested a new stocking from “the digital camo” and the same soft lining as the old (2-3 year old regular camo) stocking.

  
He’s happy. I love the way he’s making our family traditions at Christmastime. We even put up stockings for all of the pets (all 11 cats, 4 dogs, the hamster & the elf.)

Do you have any holiday traditions that involve foraging?

When it’s worth it

What do you do when you LOVE Indian cuisine, but you live too far from any place to enjoy it often? Well, you dabble around on Pinterest, find recipes, assemble the ingredients and pray for the best.

As luck would have it, my mental pantry inventory cued me in to which recipes might be realistic and last night I pulled it off in a BIG way. My culinary expert husband (not by ego, but by Le Cordon Bleu training) exclaimed, “This is better than the Indian food you go pick up! I would eat this once a week.” So of course I was pleased. 

  
I followed these recipes:

Daal Nirvana – no modifications. Truly nirvana. 

Curried Chickpeas – no modifications, very easy. 

Lamb Kofta – main modification was that I did not have ground lamb or store purchased lamb mince to form meatballs or dessicated coconut. What I did instead was pan sear lamb shoulder steak to medium rare with diced onion, chop it up, set aside. Then I roasted the fennel seeds and combined the meatball seasonings (minus the green chiles b/c we didn’t have any) as per the directions and then tossed the meat in with it for 1-2 min to combine. Set all of that aside in a bowl. 

Then I followed the instructions for the curry, added 2 cans of drained mild Rotel w/ green chiles to combine with the curry. Allowed that to become fragrant before adding the lamb mix back in to simmer with it for 8-10 min.

I served it all with basmati rice, chopped cilantro and lime wedges.

It was well worth the 1.5-2hrs I spent preparing it. Yum. 

Naan would have been a welcome addition to the meal. I even tried to make some using this recipe, but faced a few limitations. I only had 1 cup of all-purpose flour, so I used an additional cup of cake flour and 1.25 cups whole wheat flour. After letting it rise as directed the dough was too sticky to stretch into naan like shapes. Instead of throwing in the towel, I just placed the sticky, peach sized dough blobs onto a baking sheet at 350 for 15-20 minutes. Those complemented the daal and weren’t naan, but did the trick.

Do you have any epic cooking successes after being intimidated by  a recipe or cuisine?