Look, A Vegetable!


I know that it may seem that all we ever eat is chocolate pudding and coconut cake, but I swear that I occasionally cook things with some nutritional value.

Take this weekend for example, despite the fact that the weather was a tad bit warmer, I was still in the mood for some soup and made a pot of Kale and White Bean soup.  Simple, easy and yummy.

Vegetarian Tuscan Kale and White Bean Soup
Adapted from Whole Foods Recipe

2 Tbl. extra virgin olive oil
1 c. diced yellow onion
4 large garlic cloves, chopped
32 oz. vegetable broth
4 c. packed chopped kale
1 (14.5 oz) can Italian style diced tomatoes
1 (14.5 oz) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
Parmesan cheese (optional)

In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add onions and cook for 3 minutes.  Add garlic and carrots and cook for 2 minutes longer.  Add broth, kale, and tomatoes and cover.  Cook for 5 minutes or until kale is tender.  Add beans and heat thoroughly.  Serve hot, sprinkled with parmesan cheese.

EDITED: because apparently I can't spell...



You know those people who say that knitting relaxes them or sewing brings them a sense of calm or embroidery allows them to tune-out the problems of the day?  I don't get those people.  Probably because this is the internal dialogue that goes on in my head when I'm crafting:

"This fabric was really expensive.  Don't screw this up."
"Oh my God, is this even going to fit?"
"Eww, this is not what I thought this was going to look like."
"Crap, I cut a hold in my fabric."
"Double crap, I sewed this inside out."
"Ughh, I hate this project."

Yeah, not so relaxing.  And to be honest, some parts are worse than others.  Take buttonholes for example. Buttonholes scare the crap out of of me.

Just think about it.  After working so long and hard on a project and getting everything just right (or just good enough), you have to sew really thick lines of stitching and then intentionally cut a hole in your fabric.  It makes me perspire just thinking about it...probably because I've made every mistake that can be made while making buttonholes.

Put them in the wrong place and then spend way too long trying to un-pick them without damaging the fabric?  Yep, I've done that.  Cut past my stitching when trying to cut open the buttonholes?  Yep, I've done that too.

And so when it came to putting button holes on my latest project I began to sweat once again...and apparently for good reason.  Of the four button holes that I needed to sew, two of them ended up a little bit wonky and I had to spend a good half an hour hunched over the project trying to unpick those suckers (and unpicking on flannel is not an easy task!).  But after much unpicking, re-sewing, and a wee bit of cussing, I think that the buttonholes are finally done.  They may not be perfect, but they're definitely good enough.

Happiness Is...

...eating great-grandma's chocolate pie for the first time.

And  happiness is seeing O have such a sweet relationship with her great-grandparent's (even if she does make crazy faces in all the pictures with them).


My own grandparents have all passed away, the last one a little over a year ago, and while I wish that they were still here to know O, I'm so happy that she has my husband's grandparent's to snuggle up with.  Little does she know what a lucky kid she is...

Loving The Toddlerhood


Can I just say that I am l-o-v-i-n-g O lately?

She is talking up a storm, cracking herself up, and basically is just being adorable (in between her minor fits of rage, of course).

All in all, I am loving this stage...which is good, because I'm not so sure that I loved the infant stage.  Granted it may have had something to do with the incessant lack of sleep for nine months or the six weeks of painful breastfeeding until O "organized her suck" (whatever that means) or the loneliness of hanging out with only an infant all day, but I think that it may be that I'm just more of a toddler person than an infant person.

I love that I can carry on a conversation with her.  I love that she can sing to songs.  I love to watch  her dance.  I love that she can pick out her own clothes.  I love that she walks by herself (after 16 months of crawling!).  I love that she can tell me when she needs a diaper change.  I love that she generally goes to sleep without screaming for a half an hour (hallelujah!).

Now don't get me wrong, there are still plenty of things that drive me nuts - like the fact that she insists that she must do everything on her own ("No, I close refrigerator!  No, I turn off the lights!  No, I wipe my butt!" - yep, she actually said that).  But all in all, O is turning out to be one freaking awesome kid!

The One In Which We Make Fools Of Ourselves In The Privacy Of Our Backyard


This weekend we said good-bye to an old friend...a plum tree who has resided in our yard for many, many years.  Unfortunately it developed some sort of fungus that lives inside the tree and we were told that there was nothing that we could do to save it - it was going to need to come down.  So my husband (being manly and all) broke out the chain saw and cut it down.

When all was said and done, I suppose that normal people would have put the pieces of the stump aside to decide what to do with them later.  Fortunately, we are not normal people and we decided to take this opportunity to practice our stunt jumps.

Honestly, sometimes I wonder if we're mature enough to have a child...

Sew Lisette? Don't Mind If I Do.


This dress was finished before my temporary sewing hiatus so rest assured that I have not "relapsed."  In fact, there will be no relapsing around here because I took this opportunity to drop my machine off for a little tune-up.  I'm interested to see if I notice any difference on how it runs when I get it back...in two weeks!

I made this dress with Simplicity 2209, one of the new Sew Lisette patterns from the Simplicity line.  I have to say that I was a bit ambivalent towards this dress when I first started making it because I was afraid that it might be a little boring.  The pattern itself has some interesting darts in the bodice and some basic darts in the skirt, but both are pretty much lost in the bold pattern on the fabric.

Looking at it finished, I think it did come out as a fairly simple dress but the pattern on the fabric definitely does not make it boring.

And let's discuss the fabric - it's from Alexander Henry's cotton lawn collection and it is lovely.  Bold colors and beautiful hand.  It was wonderful to work with and I'm hoping that it won't be too see through since the colors are fairly dark.  I think the fabric runs a bit narrower than typical quilting cottons so I was worried about having enough for the dress but I was able to make it with 2.5 yards of fabric with a bit to spare.

As for the pattern itself, I made a couple of alternations.  As usual, I used an invisible zippers on the side rather than a lapped zipper.  I should probably confess at this point that I don't even remember how to install any other type of zipper.

I also sewed a 1/2 inch seam at the shoulders and the bodice to make the waist seam hit where my natural waist is.  Also, I finished the armholes with bias-cut fabric that I cut out of the dress fabric rather than use store-bought bias cut fabric that tends to have a yucky feel to it.  Oh, and I hand sewed the bias cut fabric in the armholes in hopes of getting a cleaner look.  It ain't perfect but it'll do.  Other than that I pretty much followed the pattern, which is well-written and easy to understand.  Yay!

Pattern: Simplicity 2209 - a Sew Lisette pattern
Size: Cut out a size 8 at the top of the bodice and graded to a size 10 at the bottom of the bodice and in the skirt.  The fit is perfect (and by perfect I mean that if I exhale too strenuously I may pop a seam in the lower bodice area).
Fabric: Alexander Henry cotton lawn - from the Fulham Road collection - 2.5 yards
How I Feel About This Dress: Tickled pink.

Observant? Yes...Culturally Insensitive? Perhaps


I'm not quite sure when my Buddha collection began, but for the past fifteen years or so, I've been picking up a Buddha here and a Buddha there and I now find myself with a small collection, part of which resides on the sideboard in our dining room.

Yesterday during dinner, O looked over at the largest of the Buddha's and exclaimed "big, black boobs."

"Excuse me?" I asked.

"Big, black Buddha boobs" she replied.

Genius, I know.

Family-Friendly Crafting


I have been a sewing machine lately (pun intended?), cutting out fabric and sewing it back together like it's no body's business.  But the fact of the matter is that the manic pace needs to slow down a bit because sewing in our house is unfortunately not a family-friendly activity.  You see, my sewing machine is down in the basement and that typically means leaving my family upstairs while I go to sew.  Sometimes I'll bring O downstairs and she'll sort buttons and play with fabric scraps for a bit, but we all know how long the attention span of a toddler is.  And sometimes I can do a little sewing after O goes to bed, but that's usually when I do a bit of tidying up (and I do mean only a bit).  So, in an effort to spend some extra time with my two favorite people, I'll be slowing down production in "Carolyn's Sweatshop" for a little bit and will hopefully find myself working on projects that are a bit more portable.  I'll let you know if I start twitching...


 Happy St. Paddy's Day...from my favorite little leprechaun...

It's Not You, It's Me


I often tell people that my husband and I are just not meant to be home owners.

I tell them that we never realized how much work maintaining a home was until we bought one.

And I tell them that the fact of the matter is, that my husband and I are just not handy people.

I think I'm going to have to revise that last statement though.

While I hung out with O this past weekend, Ben hunkered down in the basement and built a raised bed.

I must say, I am ridiculously impressed  He still needs to add something to it (I sort of tuned out when he was telling me what) and it still needs to be installed in the ground, but in the mean time it makes an awesome toddler cage.

A Woman Obsessed


Alright, I'll admit it.  I am a woman obsessed.  I can't stop sewing dresses!  Which is kind of ridiculous given that's it's still 50 degrees outside (on a warm day) and we get maybe 60 days of dress-wearing weather around here in the summer time.  Despite that, I am like a one-woman dress-making sweatshop and here's my latest creation.

I must say, I feel very 1950's housewife-ish in this dress.  I'm not sure that's really my style, but for the moment I'm going to embrace it.

The dress is made from Simplicity 2444 and for the most part it came together pretty easily.  I ended up not interfacing the stand collar and the facings because I was worried about stretching them around the neck and now the facings crumple up a bit but I think they can be beaten back into submission with a good pressing.

As for the style of the dress, I was a bit disappointed when I first put it all together.  The seam at the natural waist is not a particularly good look on me (which is probably why I avoided it with all of the other patterns that I've ever made).

Note to self: Remember to iron the front seam
before taking pictures.
Add a belt, though, and this dress looks much, much, much better (have I mentioned how much better this dress looks with a belt?).

And the highlight of the pattern for me?  Definitely the pockets.  Have I ever told you how much I love dresses with pockets?  Considering that I am never without a tube of chapstick and a tissue due to my permanently runny nose, pockets should probably come standard on all items of clothing that I own.

Wheeeee!  I heart pockets!
And a special thanks to my sewing buddy, O, who sorted and played with buttons for an amazingly long time, allowing me to work on this dress.  O, you're the best!

Fabric: Heath by Alexander Henry - gray, purchased at Esther's Fabrics
Pattern: Simplicity 2444
Size: Cut out a size 6 on top and graded to a size 8 towards the bottom of the bodice.  Cut out a size 8 on the skirt.
Alternations: Used an invisible zipper and sewed a smaller seam allowance at the shoulders to have the waist fit where my natural waist is (although the waist still hits a bit high).

*Sadly, this is not the dress that I cut a hole in.  That dress remains in a prolonged time-out.

My Last Post Revised


You know how I mentioned that sometimes when you get too high, life knocks you down a few pegs.

Well apparently, sometimes when you're wallowing over something stupid (like a hole in a dress), life reminds you that true tragedies still exist in this world and a hole in a dress is not one of them.

Thank you, life.

Here's to things that truly matter.

The One In Which A Grown Woman Cries


Okay, I'll admit it.  I was totally basking in the glory of having made a successful fitted garment.  And to add to that, I was getting even more cocky as I worked on my next dress and realized that it too was looking pretty damn good (if I don't say so myself). 

But life has a way of knocking you down a few pegs sometimes.

Case in point: Last night, as I was serging the seam allowances of my latest project, I caught a bit of the dress under the seam allowance and serged a hole in my dress.

That's right.  I cut a hole in my nearly completed dress and I have no fabric left to re-cut the piece that is now sporting a giant gash.

I think I might cry.

The dress in it's time-out chair.

* Don't feel too bad for me.  This is actually not the first time that I've done this.  Apparently I'm a dumb-butt.

All's Well That Ends Well


The making of this dress did not start out well.

I had some beautiful Anna Maria Horner fabric in the stash that I thought would look great with this pattern but when I took it out to iron it I noticed that there were several faint (and some not-so-faint) green splotches on the fabric.  Uggh!  I decided I was going to make do with the fabric anyway, cut around the green splotches where I could, and hope that people wouldn't notice the green splotches where I couldn't.

Then once I sewed the bodice together I began to stress (as always) that I was making the wrong size and that there was going to be no way in hell that I was ever going to be able to zip this sucker up.  In an attempt to address this issue, I installed the zipper in the back with a narrower seam allowance and ultimately I think I was saved by the fact that the dress has a partially open back.  Phew!

Despite the invasion of the green splotches and the stress about whether I was ever going to be able to zip up the dress, the dress turned out just fine.  And in some ways, better than fine.

I love the bohemian look of the AMH fabric on this dress and I love the detail of the partially open back. Sewing the little thread bar was a bit of a pain in the butt, but I used this tutorial from Threads and while my thread loop may not look as beautiful as theirs, I think it will function just fine.

As for the making of the dress, I pretty much followed the directions except that I used an invisible zipper in the back because an invisible zipper is by far the easiest zipper to install.  Haven't tried one yet?  Oh, you must!  Just buy yourself an invisible zipper foot, check out some tutorials on-line, and sew away.  The great thing about the invisible zipper foot is the ditch in the foot.  You just stick the zipper teeth in there and go for it.

As for the fit, I think it's okay but if I were to do it again I would make the bodice a little longer (right now it hits at the bottom of my chest and I think it's actually supposed to hit right below "the girls").  I might also make the length just a wee bit longer, but other than that I'm pretty happy with the fit.

Pattern: Simplicity 3803
Size: 6
Fabric: From Anna Maria Horner's Good Folks line
Final Thoughts:  I should probably wait until it's over 40 degrees to wear it.

Precious Naptime

Before I had a child I was totally annoyed by those people who said, "Oh, that time's not going to work for us.  That's naptime."

Now that I have a child, though, I totally get it.

Naptime is sacred time.  Naptime is precious time.  Not only because it is "me time," but because naps magically put my child in a better mood.  She may go to sleep a bit cranky, but she is all smiles and giggles when she wakes up.  Seriously, it's like magic.

Unfortunately this past weekend our naptime routine fell by the wayside.  And on Saturday afternoon we were left with one very cranky toddler who decided that all she needed was a little shut-eye while snuggling next to her pops.

And on Sunday morning we were left with a little one (who adamantly refuses to wear a shirt, by the way) who randomly fell asleep on our bedroom floor at 10 a.m.

And then on Sunday night we were left with a little one who was still awake at 9 p.m., literally jumping up and down in her crib, and all I could think was "this can't be good."

And then last night she woke up at 3 a.m. yelling "I want read books." 

I think it's time to turn back into one of those annoying people. 

Because Elephants Are The New Owls


That's O looking pensive...
I've spent a lot of time thinking about what I want to say about this quilt, but what it boils down to is this:

I like elephants.

I think they're cute.

So why not have one on a quilt?

There.  That pretty much sums it up.

The inspiration for this quilt came from, well, everywhere.  Has anybody else noticed an unusually large amount of elephant-print fabric around lately?  Or is it just me?

In any case, that's what brought about my interest in elephants and once I sat down to sketch one out  it actually came together pretty easily.

Granted, because I did this on my own the elephant looks a bit wonky and I'm sure that there must be an easier way to put it all together than with tons of little squares, but in the end I think it came out just fine.

As for the quilting, well I'm not in love with it.  I was trying to incorporate some some loops into the quilting and let's just say that the loops are less than stellar.  But I'm making my peace with it because I've ripped out stitching from a quilt once before and it was an experience that I rather not have again.

And speaking of experiences that people rather not repeat, many thanks to my quilt-holding husband who told me many times "Hurry up!  My arms are getting tired!"



In case you're wondering why there are no recipes posted here in the next couple of weeks, it's probably because we're subsisting on a diet of water and ramen noodles, mostly because I spent way too much money at the expo.  I'm going to blame this on my love of voile.  If I could clothe myself everyday just by wrapping myself in voile toga-style, I'm pretty sure that I would.  Unfortunately, voile is not cheap and when I was handed my bill at one booth after purchasing five yards of the fabric, I knew it was time to head home.

And head home we did.  I have to say that O was a complete angel at the expo.  She didn't complain when she was in her stroller.  She didn't run off when she was out of her stroller.  I did catch her rubbing against a wall of minky fabric at one point, but who could blame her?  And as her reward for her excellent behavior, she got to eat her first Puyallup Fair Scone which she ultimately decided was too messy for her liking.  She can't possibly be my child!

Ice Cream Social Dress - From The Stash


With t-minus two days to go before I head to the Sewing and Stitchery Expo, I'm trying to be a very good girl.  And by "very good girl" I mean that I'm trying not to hit the fabric store for fabric or patterns days before hitting the expo for both.  So when it came to picking out my next project I knew that I was going to be limited to what was lurking in my sewing room (a.k.a. "the basement").

Sometimes this doesn't work so well. 

Sometimes I end up working on a project that I feel "blah" about from the get-go and I end up tossing it aside half-way through.  Sometimes I use two fabrics that don't go so well together but I figure that I'll just have to make it work in an effort to be thrifty.  And sometimes things work out perfectly...like this time.  

I ended up going back to the Oliver and S Ice Cream Social Dress because, let's face it, these patterns ain't cheap if you're only planning on making them once.  I found some gray shirting fabric in my stash from my days of obsessive garment sewing and I found a yard of coordinating fabric that I had ordered from the internet, who knows how long ago.  Individually each of these fabrics were kind of blah but together they are adorable.

As for pictures of O in her new dress, I am well aware that these pictures are less than stellar.  I'm going to blame this on the fact that I wanted to snap a few shots before sending her off to the babysitter's house because when she returns she is typically covered in dot-art from her head to her toes, and that includes dot-art on anything I may have dressed her in.

And can I just end by saying how happy it made me to find the perfect little button for the back closure in my button stash?  In the wise words of Mr. T, "I love it when a plan comes together."