Month: March 2015

April’s Project: Skirts

Yes, I cheated, okay? I’ve already made (and worn) two skirts. It warmed up here in the Denver metro area this month. Last week it snowed and two days later, it was 75°. 

I’d wear a skirt every single day if I could. And I probably will, once I have a stash of them. The skirts I’ve made so far are elastic waist A-line things; super easy and comfortable. For April’s project, I plan to make some circle skirts and pencil skirts. Will May’s project be dresses? (Yeah, probably.)

Stay tuned for my struggle with geometry, pi, and hemming curved seams!

Give Me Almonds and Give Me Granola (Almond, Coconut, and Cranberry Granola)

I need almonds. I need almond flavor, that sweet, hard-to-pin-down floral quality that you either love or hate. I love it. Love love love. I bought some almond extract the other day for bath bombs and spent at least five minutes huffing the bottle.

I have a great granola recipe (over here), and recently I’ve tweaked it to satiate my almond-loving palate. It replaces the vegetable oil from my standby recipe with coconut oil, another product I adore. You can substitute coconut oil for vegetable oil in that recipe if you aren’t fond of almonds or want to mix it up. This particular granola is not too sweet and packed with good fat. Sprinkle on ice cream (chocolate is a good choice; it’d be like an Almond Joy), stir into yogurt, or just stuff large handfuls into your gaping maw.

Note: my previous granola recipe calls for 8 cups of oats, but it makes a ridiculous amount of granola. You can double or halve as desired.

Almond, Coconut, and Cranberry Granola

  • 4C rolled oats (“old-fashioned,” not quick)
  • 1/2C dry roasted almonds (preferably salted), chopped fine
  • 1/4C unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/4C brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4C honey
  • 1/8C blackstrap molasses
  • 1/2C coconut oil
  • 1/2T cinnamon
  • 1/2T almond extract
  • 1/2t salt
  • 1C dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 325F. Combine oats, almonds, and coconut in a big bowl. In a saucepan, combine brown sugar, honey, molasses, coconut oil, cinnamon, almond extract, and salt. Bring to a boil, then pour over oat mixture. Stir until coated and spread evenly on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Stir, then bake for 10 more minutes. When you take the granola out after 20 minutes, it won’t look like granola. It’ll be squishy. You didn’t mess it up. Leave it alone for about 10-15 minutes, then chunk it up with a spatula. Cool, and mix with dried cranberries. Store in an airtight container or zip-top bag.

March’s Project: Aprons

Gainfully Something | March's Project: Aprons

Let’s do this, pattern.

When I was at the fabric store for the hundredth time a few weeks ago, they were having a sale on Butterick patterns. They were all $1.99–ONE DOLLAR AND NINETY NINE CENTS. For comparison, these patterns normally cost $10.99-$18.99. I did a dance.

I picked up this apron pattern (Butterick 5765, version A), because it was advertised as “Very Easy.” Okay, so that was a little bit of an overstatement on Butterick’s part, but whatever. I figured it out.

Oh god what is happening

Oh god what is happening

Here’s the thing about paper patterns: they are crinkly and fragile and somehow expand ten times their size when taken out of their envelope. My dog and cats found them tantalizing, so I yelled a bunch which added to my creative fervor.

The instructions are vague and simple at the same time.

The instructions are vague and simple at the same time.

The hardest part of the entire thing is figuring out how to fold your fabric and position the pattern pieces on there, and then determine how many of each piece you need. This is probably excruciatingly simple, and yet it took me a stupid amount of time to cut out my pieces. Even a pattern that is “Very Easy” assumes that you actually know what you’re doing, which is a silly assumption. Oh, Butterick, when will you learn?

Anyway, after you cut out your fabric, things get a LOT easier. Essentially, you’re making a 3D fabric puzzle that fits together perfectly.

This bodice is adorable.

This bodice is adorable.

Ta da! When I finished the bodice part of the apron, I was so proud. It went together really easily and it looked more professional than anything else I’ve made. The rest went together fairly easily, too. This is not to say it went together quickly. It was mostly tedious (“Sew Bodice [SEVEN] to Waistband [FOUR]”, etc.). However, I think a second go at this pattern would fly by.

Oh, you want to see the final product?

It's so cute! Don't mind my terrible mirror.

It’s so cute! Don’t mind my terrible mirror. Also, the center skirt panel was supposed to be the orange fabric, too, but I ran out. Improvisation!

I really liked the end result. It fits nicely, especially in the bodice. Aprons never fit my zaftig frame, but this has a Wonder Woman kind of feel in the bust. I think I could use the bodice pattern to make a cute swimsuit.

The verdict on paper patterns: this one turned out great, and it was relatively easy to follow. Granted, I read through it about five times before starting, and there were a few confusing parts. I remember looking at one step and saying out loud, “What the HELL am I supposed to do now? Razzenfrazzenrazzlefrazzle.” (I’m trying so hard not to curse on here but that’s going to change soon, I think.) Sewing is all about taking something 2D and making it 3D, and that involves a different part of my brain than I normally use. It’s like origami, and I’m bad at origami. Basically I’m telling you that if I can build my skills to this point, you probably can, too.

I’ve also made a few other exciting things this past week, and I’ll share those soon!

Zippers (and Santa Fe Chicken)

Yes, yes, yes, I know that March’s project is supposed to be aprons. I’ve made two, and I bought a pattern for another, but you know what I learned how to do the other day?

ZIPPERS.

I was terrified of zippers because they seemed so complicated. There are two pieces, and they have to line up and they are a functional closure. I thought so much could go wrong, and then I took a step back and said, “It’s a goddamn zipper, life will go on, just do this.” So I made this pouch. Well, to clarify, I’ve made five such pouches. Three of them turned out great, and two of them are sort of wonky. But three of them turned out great! Yay for me!

When I attempt to use a paper pattern for the first time, I will definitely provide a step-by-step illustrated guide to my confusion.

__

Our awesome friends from the Midwest visited last weekend and shared this great recipe with me. It’s based on a recipe from Pinterest, but I just sort of threw it together, recipes be damned. (To be honest, when a recipe is mostly, “Open cans and dump contents out,” you don’t really need a tutorial.) Plop the chicken on top of the corn pudding, top with cheese and cilantro, and eat until you burst.

Santa Fe Chicken

  • 1 can Hatch chiles (the little can)
  • 1 can spicy corn (the little can)
  • 1 can hominy
  • 1 can black-eyed peas
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can black beans
  • cumin, to taste
  • chili powder, to taste
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 2 C chicken stock or broth

Dump all the cans into the crockpot. Add spices and stir. Push the chicken down into the mixture, and pour stock over all. Cook on low for 6-8 hours, until chicken is falling apart. Shred, and serve over corn pudding.

Corn Pudding

  • 1 can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 can cream-style corn, not drained
  • 1 stick butter (I KNOW, IT’S DELICIOUS)
  • 1 C sour cream
  • 1 box Jiffy corn muffin mix

Melt butter in a casserole dish (I used an 8×8 dish). Add remaining ingredients and mix. Bake 45 minutes at 350F.