Monthly Archives: November 2012

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Happy Friday + Retro Office Girl in Noir (with a little edge)

Happy Friday! There just aren’t enough hours in the day, especially now that December and Christmas are looming.

Here’s my creation for this week: an incredibly comfortable long sleeve knit dress in my most favorite-est color combination. And a wool houndstooth jacket with edgy faux leather elbow patches.

This is a great dress and wish I had bought more of the fabric because I would so make myself a top with it. It’s a no-frills dress, and I’m proud of the neck detailing in the front and back (see photos at bottom). Knits are not my friend, and I still have a hard time sewing them. The pattern is from this book.

Doesn’t she look like a little retro office girl, especially with the super cool vintage file case I found at the always fun Fremont Sunday Market? She also looks like a Parisienne, do you agree? By now, you know that I adore the color grey, but I am equally passionate about black and white. And I have a slight obsession with scarves. There will be many more scarves in future posts. Here she is stylishly tying the scarf up.

The jacket. I really really wanted to use the faux leather for the elbow patches, though I’m worried about washing it. I had some trouble with the pattern…it’s from my beloved pattern book, but I was not a happy camper with this one. The rounded collar is tricky – and I had to iron the thing to death to get all the puckering out. Next time, I’d like to get the pockets to line up better and try a bright plaid.

And don’t you love the black tights with sparkly gems? Crewcuts, of course. I always get a bunch of tights from the store whenever there’s a sale.

All in all, it wasn’t the most smooth sailing sewing adventure this week, but hey, K loves the outfit and I’m pretty pleased too.

We are ready for December! Bring it on!! I hope you all have a spectacular weekend, and see you on Monday.

Details, details…

Geometric Advent Calendar 2012

Remember my Advent Calendar Round-up and my mission to create one this year? Well, I finally finished it yesterday, just in time for December 1st. It’s simple, minimal, with just enough festive sparkle. I had a blast making this, though next time I make these geometric shapes, I might have to try glue instead of double-sided tape because I had to keep reinforcing them with additional tape and you can still see gaps.

I initially clustered them all together, which looks fantastic. However, I realized that the strings would get tangled up so I tied them to a branch I found in our neighborhood park (I got lots of funny looks when I took the branch into a coffee shop when we stopped for hot cocoa after a romp around the playground). I cleaned the branch thoroughly and like it so much I will keep it up on the wall after the holidays!

Here it is on the branch.

I added little numbers for the day of the month on the teeny tiny circles, and what holiday craft would be complete without stripey baker’s twine? I downloaded the awesome geometric templates from Ruffled, reduced the size to 75% and used text-weight paper in gold, silver and textured white.

As a kid, I remember how fun it was to open up little windows of a cardboard box to get a little piece of chocolate every day, but with so many sweets that are inevitably part of the holiday season, I decided to go for a combination of chocolate, little non-edible treats and activities. The miniscule grey scrolls have written activities like “Trim tree”, “Paint nails with sparkly polish”, “Donate toys”, “Take a family walk to look at the neighborhood Christmas decorations”, and “Stay in pajamas all day and make hot chocolate with the works”. There are twelve in all. Fun.

I discovered that many of the little treats I got were too heavy for the geometric shapes, so I wrapped them up separately and inserted “Toy Basket” tags into the geometric shapes for days when she gets a toy.

Can you tell I got way into making this? LOVE. K is beside herself with excitement and can’t wait till Saturday to open her first one.

I will be back tomorrow afternoon with an outfit. The calendar took a good while to make and I’m a bit behind on my sewing…

 

Artiste

I have an art show coming up in January, and I’m sketching out some ideas (the image above and the ones below are watercolor paintings from a previous art show). It’s funny – I don’t really consider myself an artist, though I’ve always loved to make things. I happen to come from a family full of artists and from an early age I was expected to be one. Maybe it’s because of that expectation that I kind of rebelled and went corporate for many, many years (ironic, no?). After so many years convincing myself that I’m not an artist, it feels a little strange to be doing what I’m doing. Though it also feels very right.

At any rate, I’m making art. For a little show. Which is happening so soon and I’ll post more details in a couple of weeks. If you’re in the Seattle area, I hope you’ll be able to stop by!

I’m partial to repeating shapes and want to incorporate them into my new work. I might do something with geometric shapes…

Mini Buckwheat Pancakes

mini-buckwheat-pancakes1

Creatures of habit comprise our little household. Every day, we follow the exact same bedtime routine. Every Saturday, we go to the same cafe for breakfast. Of course, we almost always order the same things. And every Sunday, I make mini pancakes. It is the way of things for us. We adore routine.

I’ve been making these pancakes for years, and along the way I’ve experimented with various recipes and settled onto this one that is pretty much all mine at this point.

They are diminutive and not too sweet. The buckwheat flour lends an earthy, almost nutty flavor (there are no pistachios in the recipe, but I put them there for scale). We usually eat them plain, but sometimes will add maple syrup and butter. Or a smidgen of jam. On special occasions we’ll bust out the whipped cream.

The key, I’ve found is in the half-and-half and milk combination. I’ve tried all sorts of blends of milk, whipped cream, water and buttermilk, and I think I’ve hit upon the exact creamy ratio. These pancakes are fluffy and light, but not too light. So good.


Buckwheat pancakes
yields about 20 mini pancakes that are about 3 inches in diameter

3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup buckwheat flour
5 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 egg
1/2 cup half-and-half
1 cup milk (I use 1%)

1. Combine flours, sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium sized bowl and whisk together

2. Mix egg into melted butter, then add half-and-half and milk

3. Slowly pour liquid mixture into flour mixture and stir together until just combined. Do not over mix the batter.

4. Melt a little butter in a skillet or on a griddle over medium heat, just for the first batch. Pour little circles of batter and cook for about 3 to 5 minutes per side for the first batch (the buttery batch, as we call it). Subsequent batches will take less time – more like a minute per side.

That’s it! These are usually a big hit with the little ones and I have fed many little ones these pancakes :-) .

Happy Monday + Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?

Good morning! I hope you had a wonderful weekend – there was much celebrating and relaxing and family fun for us. I’m feeling refreshed (and significantly healthier) and wanted to kick off this week with a cute little outfit I made. The colors made me think of Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle’s “Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?” – the follow-up to the classic “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

She didn’t like the heather grey socks, so we switched socks. Picky, picky…

I had so much fun re-purposing the grey raindrops dress, I started hunting around to see if there was anything else unused that I could transform into a wearable item. Enter my beloved, yet woefully shrunken Madewell polka dot sweatshirt from a few years ago. It was always a little snug, but with every wash, it kept getting scandalously tighter and midriff baring. I chopped a few inches here and there, dug through my stash of zippers, added elastic to the wrist bands, and a few minutes later I had a sweet and comfy knit top for for K. Check it out:

Let’s talk about the über cute hat, shall we? I used the bear hat pattern from the Oliver + S book, which is fantastic. Her instructions and patterns are so well-constructed and clear, it came together in a snap. I made mine with fleece instead of wool and velveteen, and made ties out of the fleece as well instead of using ribbons. The color scheme is almost identical to the version in the book, which is something I rarely do but I really liked the white/blue combo.

And oh, the aqua cords! They are from the same pattern as the grey almost skinnies, though I made these slightly slimmer. I. Love. Them. So bright and happy and the perfect antidote to the thundering rain that we’ve been having. A good way to start the week, I’d say.


Gratitude + See you Monday!

for those I love
for a haven of comfort
for the extravagance of time – to reflect, to create, to share
for the lessons of hardships
for the simple joys
for new connections forged
for this life

i am grateful.

**********************************************************************

Wishing a Happy Thanksgiving to all! I will spend a long weekend stuffing myself silly with food and celebrating with my two favorite people in the world. I will return Monday with a new handmade outfit. Cheers!

Pumpkin Muffins + Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

I have rarely had a traditional Thanksgiving dinner… Growing up, my mom made sushi for T-day, though as I grew into my teens, big turkeys started to appear next to the sashimi. And for the last couple of years, due to work or lack of motivation, we went out for Chinese food.

I know. Sacrilege.

This year though, I’m cooking. It’ll just be the three of us because we avoid travel during Thanksgiving week (we had a harrowing travel experience five years ago and vowed never to subject ourselves to it again – it’s hard when you have no family in town). It’ll be nice and low-key, and the menu will be non-traditional. I probably won’t make sushi, but it will be stepped up a bit from our usual store-bought roasted chicken. Instead of pumpkin pie, I’m planning on making this panna cotta. There might be cornish hens and maybe a corn bread stuffing…

I bought a humongous 29 oz can of pumpkin puree by mistake, which is far too much for the panna cotta. So I made pumpkin muffins using half the can.

I used Sarabeth’s recipe, but didn’t have any raisins or sunflowers or pastry flour, so I made a few modifications: omitted the raisins and sunflowers and used cake flour instead. Not to worry, they’re still absolutely delectable. And when combined with Ina’s maple cream cheese frosting…well, these muffins are entirely too addictive.

How cute are those polka-dot cupcake cups?? I happened to have stripey washi tape in my supplies basket so I made little flags. Don’t they look great together?

What are your T-day plans if you’re in the US? We miss seeing our family, but it’s also nice to have the special day with just the three of us.

Cloud Pillows

It started with this.

Several years ago, I wanted to try fabric paint to make my own design. I took some grey linen and white fabric paint and voila, I had little rain drops because when you live in the Pacific Northwest, you are always thinking about rain.

And then I made this little number…

But it turned out that K did not like grey at the age of three (how can she be my daughter??). She has strong opinions, that one. She only wore it once. And it sat in the deepest, darkest corner of her closet, completely forgotten.

Until yesterday.

I have been ooh-ing and aah-ing over the many cloud pillows on the great interweb, and remembered the grey linen with white rain drops. How perfect!

So I drew a cloud shape freehand, but realized that the stuffing will spill out from the button back. A duplicate was traced onto a white linen/cotton blend and the grey became a pillow cover. Since I had the white fabric out anyway, I made a bigger cloud.

And got this.

They’re a bit puckered, I know, and the grey pillow could be shaped a little more cloud-like. But they are very sweet and K approves. There will be more cumulus nimbus pillows in the horizon…

Happy Friday + Shades of Caramel and Creme: shirt dress/camisole dress

Happy Friday! I feel this way with every Friday post, but I am enamored with this outfit and desperately want one in my size. Though I sewed at a snail-like pace and kept making mistakes, I was able to complete the two dresses and am loving them. A light caramel-colored shirt dress over a silvery-beige-camisole dress, accented with creme. Très chic, no?

She’s holding these in her hands (left over from Halloween, and now I’m realizing that next to actual caramels, the dress is more camel-colored, but ‘shades of camel and creme’ doesn’t have as nice a ring to it).

 

Surprisingly, I did not use my usual pattern book this week. The shirt dress is from this and the camisole dress from this. Both are made of cotton; the shirt dress feels more like a cotton lawn, and the camisole dress is a linen-look.

I love the shirt dress. The frills, the many buttons, the little belt. I debated whether to add a contrasting color and fabric for the frills and belt, but no, I’m glad I stuck with the same fabric. It has a little bit of an Orla Kiely feel, and worn over the camisole, it looks like a pseudo-trench coat.

The camisole dress is simple yet has a slight twist in the design. The shoulder straps loop into a back seam channel and through two holes to be tied in the back – that was kind of a botch job of an explanation and it’s hard to see in the photos, I know, but trust me, it’s very cute.

Look who’s being silly.

I think I’m on the mend. I slept through the night and my headache is gone – hurrah! Hope you have a wonderful weekend friends, and stay warm!

Flu + Seasons

Thank you for all the well wishes – it seems that this is one of those tenacious flu-type illnesses that is determined to stick around. I am doing everything slowly this week and am not getting a whole lot done…but I am getting better and while I sip more tea and try to recover, I am mining old works and leave you with one of my illustration series, “Seasons” (done entirely digitally with lots of origami paper overlays). Summer, with the penguins, is my favorite.

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