*pause and ponder*
Perhaps Daniel is thinking he can't get any hotter than this unless he's in a tight mankini.
I made these for my friend Betsy for a belated birthday present (yes - I am practically behind in everything I make). These were made using the Amy Butler Stash and Dash Bag pattern and Moda Uptown by Erin Michael fabric.
I made the Toiletry Bag and the Coin Purse. The toiletry bag pictured is actually the first one I made where I screwed up the zipper (my first zipper). With some advice from Stacy about what I did wrong (stitched too close to the zipper), I got the guts to try again and tried small with the coin purse. Success - Yay! So I made another Toiletry Bag (or clutch, IMO), added the coin purse, a matching sunglasses case (I know... tutorial needed), and a matching key fob for a present for my good friend. Wish I had taken a picture of the foursome.
I was grumbling a little bit about how Amy Butler has perhaps too much information in her patterns. Well, after the flea market bag incident, I will not grumble again. Thank you, Amy! This bag was so fun (and uses so little fabric) that I can't wait to make another again using the Paint by Numbers fabric from this line.
I was too embarrassed to post on Earth Day because I think I got the most plastic bags when shopping ever even though I had just packed a bunch of reusable bags in my trunk. That might have been the day when I also sprayed the heck out of the weeds out back with Roundup.
Anyway, as a family we are trying much harder to recycle. Our billing is paperless. I try to reuse a lot of items including fabric. I'm nowhere near as cool as my friend Scott (who deserves his own post by me in sheer admiration). His family was recently featured in the Milwaukee Metroparent magazine for their green efforts. Seriously, take a look at this family website to see all that they do.
I took this picture of Aidan pondering how we are going to make our new rain barrel look a little prettier. Not sure if it is possible though it looks like we can paint it with outdoor acrylic enamel. We bought this rain barrel from the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District for $30 (recycled from cucumber barrels). The benefits of using the 55 gallon rain barrel is to reduce storm water runoff and also save money by collecting the water and using it during the summer to water your flowers or lawn. Did you know that 1 inch of rain provides 600 gallons for every 1,000 square feet of roof (statistic found here)? You can find out more about using rain barrels here.
And then I saw some competition sneak into the picture... It is a modern day Peyton Place in our yard.
P.S. That isn't our house. Our house has its fair share of problems but crazy outside caulking is not ours yet. I don't even know if that is caulking. I did photoshop the cracks out of our driveway. I don't know why.
I had a lucky week and scored some awesome free fabric in a giveaway by Amy Schimler. Have you seen her fabulous, happy illustrations? She has sold her designs to the likes of Baby Gap, Hallmark, American Greetings, Target, and luckily for us sewers, Robert Kaufman fabrics.
So along with the generous 1 1/2 yards of fabric, I got a great snail card and matching jelly bellies!!!
I just love the fabric so much - it will be hard for me to find the best project to make something with. It is a real treat. Thanks so much, Amy!
Here's the problematic bag. It looks like we got in a prize fight and everybody lost. However, isn't the fabric beautiful? I don't know the name but it is a cotton nub or something made by Hinemosu Notari. Another good thing is that it is really long - it can be worn over the body and on your hip.
I really wanted this to be an easy pattern so I could make several but I think I'll stop at this one. I had problems making the Stash and Dash bags by Amy Butler but figured out what I did wrong (first zipper) and made a new one. Maybe I was spoiled by Amy Butler's overdone instructions.
I get confused about how to blog. If you talked to me on the phone about this, you might get a tart earful with a few sassy words. Online I tend to censor myself.
So the pattern was for the Grand Revival Design Flea Market Bag. As the bottom suggests, I had no idea how to sew the bottom corners. Perhaps it will look better with something in it. Sorry mom. I'll have something else for you for Mother's Day...
Quick question - I just made a bag that should have taken only a few hours but ended up taking several more due to, in my opinion, lack of instructions with the pattern. Can I gripe about it or, because it is made by an independent designer, should I can it?
I mean, if it were a McCall's pattern, I would have any problems saying that the pattern looked easy enough but the instructions are sparse where they are really needed. There aren't even instructions that say which way is the top of the pocket to be added. Additionally, the patterns layout guide is wasteful of fabric.
I want to say all that but am leery of mentioning the designer. Her blog is in my reader - I feel kind of bad. But then again, my time and money on Japanese pricey fabric is worth a bit of a gripe...
rivermade. alerted me to Mary Lynn's blog and a post about her brother, Charles. I thought I'd spread the word about how he needs some pick-me-up mail. Mary Lynn's post will tell you everything you need and I'm guessing your eyes won't be dry either after reading about Charles.
And this is a call out to Yohanna. Yohanna works as a NICU nurse and she and Brian are close to having their first baby. She used to live in Wisconsin and visits my blog every now and then. I think nurses are so wonderful and have extra special affection for nurses who work with children. Anyway, Yohanna - I keep trying to comment on your blog but I think I need a Google account and I always think my comments aren't worth opening a new account. Would you consider opening up your comments? BTW, I thought you looked very cute in your pregnancy picture.
I hope to write soon about various projects I've been working on!
Some evening I was surfing the web for I don't know what and came across a recipe for Auntie Anne's Pretzels. The people who cloned this recipe analyzed the ingredients in Auntie Anne's Pretzel Kit. I made this yesterday and they were so awesome (and tasted exactly like the original) that I am making them again now as I write.
Do you think that I am some type of genius that can make dough and type? So close but no cigar. No, I am going to present you with a Bread Machine recipe for Auntie Anne's Pretzels. So easy. So little work. I can take no credit for this recipe, though. The work was done by the people at Dining in Thailand. I'm not sure what their connection is with Auntie Anne's. I think Anne is originally from Pennsylvania.
I was wary of doing the pretzel twist and ended up making pretzel sticks. Then I tried to be brave and try the twist. Let me say that the twist was easy but rolling out the dough skinny enough was tough. It could have been because of the bread machine method or where I was trying to roll the dough. That is why you see those scary twists in the night time photo. Who cares? They tasted awesome!
Auntie Anne's Pretzels
from Dining in Thailand
adapted for bread machine by Sassy Priscilla
1 1/4 cup warm water
1 TB plus 1/4 teaspoon yeast
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup plus 2TB powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 cups water
3/4 cup baking soda
1/4 cup butter, melted
Salted: Kosher or pretzel salt
Cinnamon Topping: 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 2 teaspoons cinnamon
1. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water in bread machine loaf pan. Let sit for a few
2. Combine flour, powdered sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add to water with yeast. Add vegetable oil. Set bread machine to dough setting and do something else.
3. 20 minutes before dough cycle is complete, preheat oven to 425 degrees.
4. Make a bath for the pretzels by combining the baking soda with the warm water and stir until baking soda is mostly dissolved.
5. Remove the dough from bread pan and let set 15 minutes. Divide it into 8 even portions. Roll each portion on a flat non-floured surface until it is about 3 ft long. Pick up both ends of the dough and give it a little spin so the middle of the dough spins around once. Lay the dough down with the loop nearest to you. Fold the ends down toward you and pinch to attach them to the bottom of the loop. The twist should be in the middle.
6. Holding the pinched ends, dip each pretzel into the bath solution. Put each pretzel on a paper towel for a moment to blot the excess liquid. Arrange the pretzels on a baking sheet sprayed with non-stick spray. If you want salt, sprinkle pretzels with kosher salt or pretzel salt. DON'T salt any pretzels you plan to coat with cinnamon sugar. You will likely have to use two baking sheets and bake them separately. Bake the pretzels for 3 minutes and then spin the pan around and bake for another 3-4 minutes or until the pretzels are golden brown.
7. Remove the pretzels from the oven and let them cool for a couple of minutes. If you want to eat some now, brush them with melted butter first before serving.
7a. If you want the cinnamon sugar coating, make it by combining the 1/2 cup sugar and 2 teaspoons cinnamon in a small bowl. Brush the unsalted pretzels with melted butter. Sprinkle a heavy coating of the cinnamon sugar on the pretzels over a large plate.
Makes 8 pretzels.
Last weekend we had gorgeous weather. 50s and 60s - it was so hard to believe after the crummy weather we had over the winter. This week, we've had cold and rain. The S word has been predicted for the upcoming weekend. *Sigh*
I planted crocuses in the grass the year we moved in. It is such a little surprise to find them. Last fall, I planted tons of bulbs around the house. They are all peaking out, breaking the soil, just waiting to bloom. I haven't had a sunny day since to photograph their progress.
The bunnies are loving the crocuses, too. You'll notice the gnawed down leaves at right. Please bunnies, stay away from the tulips because I don't remember what I planted and I'm excited to see what blooms.
Also included are my tips for using your machine's timed setting, making the dough pliable, storing your yeast, and adding a sourdough starter. Sorry for the picture quality. It is a dark, rainy day.
Bread Machine Pizza Dough
3/4 c + 2 T Warm Water
3/4 t Salt
2 T Olive Oil
2 1/2 c All Purpose Flour
2 t Sugar
2 t Active Dry Yeast
Use your dough setting on the bread machine. Set your stove timer to alert you about 10 minutes before your dough setting completes (mine is 90 minutes). When your timer goes off, preheat your oven to 400 degrees and start your sauce.* Pat dough on a greased pizza pan and let stand for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, pat dough again on pan (you’ll notice it is more pliable now) and spread your sauce and put toppings on. Bake for 15-20 minutes until crust is golden brown.
If you are using a timed setting, I recommend putting in your water and oil first, then your dry ingredients, saving your yeast for LAST. If you are processing right away, add your yeast to your water and let sit for a minute or so. Then add your dry ingredients. I buy my yeast in a jar and store it in the fridge.
If you have a sourdough starter, add 1 cup of starter, reduce flour to 2 cups, and reduce water to 1/4 c plus 2 T.
*For sauce, I use a can of tomato puree, Penzey’s pizza sauce seasoning and a clove of garlic, minced. I usually have enough for two pizzas (or almost two pizzas as sometimes happens).
To freeze your dough, wrap it in plastic wrap and then put it in a baggie or wrap in freezer paper. To use, let the dough thaw 24 hours in the fridge, leaving your wrap loose as the dough will rise. About 30 minutes before you want to use it, take it out of the fridge and put on your greased pizza pan. Let it rise for 20 minutes. Press into pan, let sit for 10 minutes. Pat dough again and bake as instructed.