Saturday, November 28, 2009

Truly Homemade Apple Pie

This beautiful and delicious apple pie is about as homemade as they come. Not only did I make the crust from scratch, but I actually picked the apples from my very own apple tree in our backyard! I didn't follow any one recipe exactly, but rather pulled from a few sources to create my own concoction. And it turned out wonderfully, if I do say so myself! Plus, while the pie was baking and bubbling away, I made butter tarts with the leftover crust dough. These remind me so much of my grandma, and they were my absolute favorite treat to eat at her house. I'm sure she must have made plenty of pies, but I don't remember any of them as well as those flaky, buttery cinnamon tarts.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Finally, a City Satchel!

After much practice and waiting for my skills to improve, I finally did it. That's right, the City Satchel. And I love how it turned out! I found these fabrics in the home decor section of the fabric store, but they are a very sturdy cotton and I think they are cool together in a not too matchy-matchy way. I decided to go with a rusty orange color for the lining and I even added my own personal touch by doing a zippered pocket on the inside. To be honest, it was easier than I thought it would be. It took one afternoon to do the exterior portions, then a couple more hours to do the lining. It's just as cute as I'd imagined, and I'm super happy with it.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Pretty in Pink

So today was my birthday, and I just had to share the beautiful roses Craig brought home. Aren't they pretty? For my birthday dinner, we met some friends at my favorite local Italian place where they make the BEST pizza. I like the fancy pizzas with pesto instead of pizza sauce and sundried tomatoes. Yummy! If I weren't so full, I'd be into the leftovers right now! And the best part about my birthday? I don't have to go to work tomorrow! It's Veterans Day, so I can sleep in, stay in my jammies, and get started on the city satchel! Woohoo! Some days I truly love being a teacher...

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Bag Making 2.0

My bag making skills have definitely improved, and I'm pretty happy with my latest creations. These little wristlets are cute, fun to make and even involve ZIPPERS! (Which, by the way, are much easier than I thought.) The blue-green print one I made for my friend Wendy for her birthday, but I'm not sure what I'm going to do with the brown one yet. I might keep it for myself, but I do have other selfish plans in mind...
Friday night my mom took me fabric shopping for my birthday and it was so much fun! I picked out the fabric for my beloved city satchel project that I've been working up to for the last few weeks. That's right, the "daredevil" level bag. Yikes! I had big plans to start on it this weekend, but things got busy (and I got lazy), so no bag yet. However, this week/weekend looks promising for sewing time, so I will be sure to post my progress - and hopefully pictures of a fabulous finished product!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Lance and Lucy

Last night Craig and I went to a Halloween party, so I thought I'd share a few pictures of us in our costumes. Craig is in full-blown cycling gear as Lance Armstrong, and I am decked out as Lucy from I Love Lucy. I tried to talk Craig into going as Ethel, but for some reason he was having no part of that idea. Strange. Anyhow, at the party, Craig won "Scariest Costume" (It must have been the spandex...and the fact that no one at the event was actually trying to be scary), and he also tied for "Sexiest Costume." (Again, the spandex...) Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Look Out, Coco Chanel...

I finally completed my first wearable item, this cute little skirt. I started with this style from my new skirt sewing book as it seemed fairly simple. No zippers were involved and the drawstring opening let me test out the buttonhole feature of my sewing machine. The original design had a pocket and used rickrack on the hem, but I adjusted it to my own taste. I'm loving the cranberry corduroy! You can count on me proudly wearing my skirt to work tomorrow. I hope the seams are sturdy as it would be more than a little embarrassing for my clothing to fall apart in front of my students!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

His and Hers Pajamas

I am celebrating the completion of not one but TWO pairs of flannel pajama pants - and they're actually wearable! Above is Craig's pair (my first attempt). Up close there are some minor issues, but overall they turned out pretty cool. Below is my pair, which also turned out well, but somehow I managed to sew the elastic waist all twisted. Even still, they're pretty damn cute!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

It's a Party, Honey!

Last weekend one of my friends from work hosted a girls-only honey tasting party. There were 14 different types of honey to try and tons of tasty treats to try with them, including muffins, scones, cheeses and fruit. It was delicious fun! Anne, our hostess, did such a fabulous job with the food and decor, I wanted to share some photos of the event.

The place settings included beeswax soap, honey straws, and a hand-crafted note card for jotting down impressions of each honey. How sweet is that?
The last picture is all of us toasting with a little honey mead wine made right in Sultan, WA where I grew up. From left to right: Anne, Jennilyn, yours truly, Michelle and Leah. Cheers!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Bag Making 101

As promised, I have been diligently working from my bag sewing book and have successfully completed two little tote bags thus far. They are not fancy, but I'm quite proud of myself. The most challenging part was mastering the handles. The technique in the book was to do some folding over and edge stitching. It sounds simple, and no doubt one day it will be, but it took a lot of time and patience. (And a seam ripper.)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Power Cooking Fiasco

Whoever said "Mother knows best" has obviously never been roped into one of my mother's brilliant ideas. A couple of months ago, my mom signed the two of us up for Power Cook, a cooking class on the methods of cooking in bulk. I have to admit, it did sound like a great idea, but we should have known we were in over our heads when the instructor explained that the idea was to cook and freeze 30 meals all in one day. Lured by the healthy recipes and the thought of how convenient it would be to pull out a precooked, homemade meal on a busy weeknight, we decided to give it a go. What the hell were we thinking?

As it turns out, cooking 30 meals in one day is every bit as laborious and time consuming as it sounds. We spent 9 hours chopping, peeling, measuring, stirring...well, you get the idea. It was INSANE. This first picture is in the midst of chopping something like 10 onions. Even though the tears were induced, I think this depicts my feelings about power cooking.

After all was said and done (so very, very done...), we had a counter full of meals neatly packed in freezer bags, which makes it look like a big heap of plastic instead of an exhausting day's work. And don't be fooled - the smiles on our faces reflect relief that we survived, NOT a hint of enthusiasm to ever attempt this again.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Sew Excited!

Last weekend I bought a sewing machine - my first ever - and I'm totally stoked. I'd been mulling over learning to sew for the last couple of years (prompted, I have to admit, by a rather serious addiction to Project Runway). After some research, I decided to bite the bullet and purchase a sewing machine/embroiderer! The embroidery part is an added bonus and very cool. There are tons of little patterns already programmed into the machine. You just push a button and it takes off! Here's my new little baby, embroidering away...

To get me started with some easy projects, I also bought a little book called Sew What Bags which features lots of bags and bag-like items ranging from beginner level all the way up to "daredevil." Of course the one I'm dying to make is the city satchel which is at the daredevil skill level. (And after a silly misunderstanding, now the running joke in our house is that I'm going to embroider "DAREDEVIL" onto all of my bags...) Anyhow, I'm going to have to work my way up to that project. For now I'm sticking with the beginner level ideas. I was able to complete my first project on Sunday. Pictured below is my new, customized, fully lined and embroidered eye glasses case. (Don't laugh; I'm just getting started.) And yes, my glasses do fit all the way in, but I thought that having them peek out would be a nice touch.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

High on Mice

At the farmers market today, I met a lady who grows her own catnip and makes toy mice. I decided to take one home to see if the cats would take any interest, and did they ever. I dropped the mouse in front of Vito, and he liked it so much, he wouldn't ever share it! I ran back downtown to get another one, and the cats spent the rest of the morning getting high and going all silly.
Finally Vito calmed down and sat proudly with his mouse...
Addie, on the other hand, just got loopier. (If you look closely, you can see the mouse under her chest.)

Monday, September 7, 2009

Canning by Candlelight

Remember my brilliant idea about canning tomatoes? Well, yesterday I decided I would make and can my own tomato sauce. It can't be too hard, right? Well...
I started out by going to my favorite grocery store in the world, Central Market. After spending $33 on tomatoes (not even organic, mind you) and a bit more for garlic and onions, I was ready to get going. Things started out great.

Then I realized that there was no way all of my beautiful tomatoes would fit in one pot. Ok, fine. I decided to work in batches. It turns out that 3 batches of tomatoes cooking ends up being 6 batches of tomatoes pureeing. Ok, I can make it work. So after hours of cooking, pureeing and reducing, suddenly the power goes out. I waited patiently for an hour, praying it would kick on again, but to no avail. Finally Craig gets the brilliant idea that we can save the tomato sauce if we bring in the propane camping stove and finish cooking and canning on it.
So there we are, with candles and flashlights, canning tomato sauce like pioneers.

The picture above is Craig stirring the pot. Of course the flash on the camera makes it seem like it's bright as day, but as you can tell by the lit candle, it is definitely not! Anyhow, with 5 minutes left of the final water bath for the jars, the power came back...which just figures. In spite of all the trials it took to make, the finished product looks pretty good. Now let's just hope it tastes good too. We'll find out tonight as I'm planning to serve it with homemade raviolis (yet another adventurous first attempt).

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Another Summer Over...

After much consideration, I have decided that I will overcome my online anxiety and create my own blog. I'm not entirely sure what it will include or what may become of it, but what the hell.

As I gear up for yet another school year, I can't help but cling to my precious summer memories and the major and minor accomplishments of the season. The really "big deal" for me this summer was completing the STP (Seattle to Portland) bike ride. It was 204 miles in 2 days. It was pretty grueling, no doubt about it, but it was also amazing and life-changing. Before completing the ride, I'm not sure I really believed in myself or felt confident in my own strength. However, after crossing that finish line, I have a whole new perspective. Suddenly I have proof that I really can do anything I put my mind to, and it feels awesome! The picture above is my husband Craig and me at the finish line. Woohoo!

In addition to STP, we also did the Livestrong Challenge. Livestrong is Lance Armstrong's foundation for Cancer. The Seattle area ride was 70 miles, including some MAJOR hills. I was nearing my maximum capacity for pain when the rain started pouring. The rain didn't last long, but in its place came the hail. (By the way, hail hurts quite a lot when you're sailing through it.) Even though the challenge was, well, challenging, it still felt good at the finish line - especially knowing we had also raised about $1500 for the fight against Cancer.

Other than my biking adventures, I've been cooking more than ever and even tried my hand at some canning. Both of my attempts (raspberry jam and applesauce) turned out great, so now I'm thinking about what else I might be able to can before summer disapears completely. Hmm, peaches and tomatoes are in season...