Friday, February 28, 2014

Friday Finishes- Some Pouches and a Bag

I have not gotten nearly as much sewing done these past few weeks, as I'd have liked, but that's usually how it goes.  I have a bunch of projects started and I'm trying to use up fabric from my stash as much as possible.  All the finished projects in this bunch are made with fabrics that have been laying around in my piles for at least a year, some two or more years!  So, it feels good to finally put it to use.

I finished three more pleated zipper pouches.  I have a ton of nine inch zippers and plenty of fabric and interfacing, so this is a good quick stash buster.

Three Pleated Zipper Pouches
When i first started sewing, I had a tendency to buy a lot of different fabrics in half yard pieces with no real plan in mind.  It was a great way to build a stash, but you are kind of limited when you only have a half yard piece of fabric.  Now I usually buy at least a yard, two or more if it's on sale.  :)

I also finished this grocery bag.  I had bought this cowboy fabric with a bag specifically in mind, but it took me a while to actually get around to making it.  The lining is a solid brown.

Cowboy grocery bag
I thought it'd be nice to have something less girlie in my Etsy shop.  I've got more ideas in the works too.  I'm hoping to have a big relaunch in the next month or two.

Hope you all are finding plenty of time to feed your sewing!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Chaotic Goddess- Mug o' Comfort Swap Sign Up

You all know how much I love Chaotic Goddess Swaps, right?  The ladies that run them do a fabulous job and it's really a great way to meet new bloggers and make new friends.  Well, the latest swap is here!  It's the Mug o' Comfort Swap and sign  ups are going on now!

You send your partner a new mug filled with some goodies to drink in it.   If you're a blogger looking for some fun, I highly recommend signing up.  This will be my fourth swap and I have loved them all!  But hurry because the sign ups close on March 3!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

A Few Favorites Feb 23

So another week has come and gone.  Winter is getting waaaaaayyyy to long.  We got several more inches of heavy snow Thursday night.  I got stuck in my driveway Friday afternoon.  I live in town and have all  wheel drive.  It was nine degrees when I left from work last night.  Yuck.  It's just nasty.  And depressing. 

Here's what I'm loving this week.

1.  These White and Lime Peacock Flip Flops (affiliate link) are too cute!  They're only $11.99.  I really want them, but I already have about eight pairs of flip flops.  I'm trying to be good about not buying things I don't need.  We'll see if I can hold out.

2.  This gold finch and peony print from Gingibear's Etsy shop is great.  I love how bright it is.  I still am always looking for unique art. 

3.  This tutorial for the mini iPad quilted pouch looks like it'd be a great scrap busting project.  I don't have an iPad or Kindle but I think you could make it into a clutch or even make a tote bag or something.  There's just something about patchwork that I love.  It has this vintage look and feel to it, but you can make it so modern looking depending on the fabrics you choose.

4. I found this quote on Pinterest, and traced it to which is a great creative resource.  Her blog is an energy ball full of great tips. The quote itself is a great reminder that we need to live intentionally.  If we don't work at things, we'll just drift along on the currents life going where ever the wind blows us. We need plans and goals to steer us.

So, have a great week everyone.  I'm hoping to pull myself out of the winter doldrums and get back into the swing of things this week.  See you soon!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Goals vs. Wishes

It hasn't even been two months since the new year started, but I have a bad habit of saying I want to do something and then taking no steps towards making that happen.  I'm one of those people who like instant gratification, and really, who doesn't, but this year, I really want to change.  I made my resolutions at the beginning of the year, and today I kind of went back and gave myself a little check up to see how I'm doing.  Some are better than I thought, some I'm struggling with.

Travel more- I haven't traveled much this year except to visit my two closest friends who both live about 45 minutes away in opposite directions.  But, there has been a lot of below zero days this year, which kind of puts a damper on car trips.  (Yesterday was 38 and it felt like a heat wave, for reals.)

Go the Upper Peninsula this summer- This one is going crazy well.  I have three friends from work who want to go with and we're kind of just going to wing it.  We know some places we want to stop and we're going to map out waterfall and lighthouse locales.  We know we want to go to the Keweenaw Peninsula, but besides that, we're not sure if we're going to spend some time in the Porcupine Mountains, or head farther east.  We just all know we're looking for budget friendly, natural wonders, and fun.  We have an extended weekend picked out and are excited to go.

Plant a real veggie garden- This one obviously can't be truly tackled when the ground is covered with several feet of snow, but I have lots of plans.

Sew more and reopen my Etsy shop- This one is always a work in progress. I have been sewing stuff from my stash and trying new patterns, but it never feels like I have as much time to sew as I would like.  I'm hoping to reopen my Etsy shop in the spring.  I have lots of new items to list and more to make.

Make more of my Christmas presents- I have not started any of said presents yet, but I do have plans for two.  One will be pretty time intensive, but I think I can use stash fabric for most of these.  I also have a birthday present in the works.

Be more thankful- I have been horrible about this. I've also been cranky as of late.  I've been blaming it on all the snow and cold, but I do have to get back in the swing of being more grateful.

Read at least 30 books- I am right on target with this one.  I feel guilty about ready when there's other things I should be doing, but when it's cold and dreary, and all you want to do is lay in bed, a book is at least a semi productive form of hibernation.

Help my dad with maple syrup-  Tree tapping will start next month. :)

I'm also trying to exercise and eat healthier.  I am not one of those people who enjoy exercising.  I do not like sweating, unless I'm reading a book in the sun and sipping a fruity drink.  But, I also do not want people to ask me if I'm pregnant when really it's just fat.  I try to eat healthy- lots of spinach, fresh veggies, no prepackaged meals, not much red meat or soda, but I love desserts and chocolate.  So, I'm trying to cut out the desserts and chocolates.  I haven't baked anything chocolate-y since Christmas, but Valentine's day brought lots of candy my way.  Trying to ration that.

All in all, a little check up gives me a prod towards what I need to work on and makes me feel better that I'm doing good on some other things.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Artisan Bread Making Lesson 8- Sandwich Bread and Rolls

Craftsy calls this lesson "Enriched Breads", but it's really just a fancy way of saying sandwich bread and rolls. This bread rises faster than all the breads in previous lessons because it takes more yeast than previous breads.  It also has more ingredients than previous breads.  Previous recipes in this class call for bread, flour, salt, yeast, and water.  This recipe calls for all of that and also oil, salt, and milk instead of water.

Ingredients for sandwich bread
Enriched bread is denser than ciabatta and other lean doughs.  The dough feels heavier.  It also is less sticky than the previous doughs.  The dough is a little tacky feeling when it comes out of your mixing bowl.  The print outs that go with the lesson describe it as feeling like the back of a post it note.  I'd say that's pretty acurate.

Dough after mixing- set to rise.
After it rises, you transfer it to a loaf pan and after letting it rise a second time, you bake it.  Easy peasey.  All the previous bread lessons take time.  They're not complicated, but if you want to bake bread you have to plan ahead.  Ciabatta has to rise overnight.  So you need to start early in the morning and then bake it in the evening, or pop it in the refrigerator and forget about it until the next day.  Sandwich bread is much less time intensive.  Once it rises for second time, you just brush it with an egg wash and then stick it in the oven.

Brushing with egg wash.  Photo courtesy of Christy Janeczko Photogpray.

When the bread has an internal temp of 200 degrees, it's done.

Finished bread.  Photo courtesy of Chrsity Janeczko Photography.

So what do you do with the finished product?  This bread makes excellent PB&Js and toasts up superbly.

Finished bread.
This bread also makes the greatest grilled cheese sandwiches!  I like to slice up an apple super thin and then layer it between two slices of bread with some cheddar cheese.  Yum!  Seriously, try it, you'll be hooked.

This lesson also details different types of rolls you can make with this dough, but I've only tried a couple so far.  I've just been hooked on the sandwiches!

If you want to learn more about bread making, I really recommend Craftsy's Artisan Bread Class.  I started out with zero bread making skills, and have now become pretty proficient with it.  This class does a great job of not only explaining of how to do it, but why you do it that way.

 All links in this post are affiliate links, but all opinions are 100% my own.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

A Few Favorites Feb 9

It's been another week in the winter that never ends.  I try to remember that each one brings us closer to spring and all the good things that come with that.  And, there's more daylight each day now.  I'm just ready for long days, full of sunlight, the smell of fresh cut grass, and lemonade.  Do stores even sell lemonade in the winter? They must, but the thought of drinking lemonade when there's snow on the ground seems totally backwards, like listening to Christmas music when it hot and humid out.

Anyhow, I have found some things to enjoy this past week.  So, let me forget about lemonade and Christmas carols and share some other goodies.

1.  Live from the Artist's Den is this great show on PBS where big name artists play intimate shows in historic theaters and museums.  It's on Saturday nights on PBS where I live and you can catch everyone from Vampire Weekend to Sheryl Crow to Adele to The Killers on it.  They're in their seventh season.  Last night's episode featured Mumford and Sons.  Here's a clip from it with Mumford and Sons singing "I Will Wait".  It's just a great show, so check it out if you like good, live music.  

2.  This soup from Blissful Basil just tastes like something you should eat in the winter time.  It was my first time trying cream of mushroom soup and I really like it.  It just tastes rich, yet rustic, and it tastes good with homemade bread.  (Although what doesn't.)

3. Are you sad that Sherlock Season 3 has come and gone already?  If you're not sad, or didn't know that there even was three seasons of Sherlock, your homework is to go to Mystery!'s website and watch Sherlock.  For the rest of you, take the website's Which Sherlock Character are You quiz and let me know who you got.  I was expecting to get Molly Hooper or Mary Morstan.  But I got Sherlock Holmes.  I've never been so flattered to called a "high-functioning sociopath".

4.   And here's my quote for the week:

and really what more does a girl need?

Saturday, February 8, 2014

A Peek into My Life

A few weeks ago, my friend Christy asked me if she could come photograph me working on projects and such.  She's a great photographer who specializes in weddings, engagements, and the like, and she wanted to come and just play around with me in my work space.

Photo Courtesy of Christy Janeczko Photography
So we got together last week, and earlier this week she posted on her blog about her visit.  I was sewing some grocery bags and making homemade bread (post coming on that soon) at the time of her visit, and she just took pictures while I worked and we visited.  It was really fun for me to see how my office looks through someone else's eyes.  She picked out things I hadn't really thought were very cool and she made them look interesting and awesome. 

Photo Courtesy of Christy Janeczko Photography
Of course, my cats had to show off for her.  They really are like little kids sometimes.  Here's HB mauling a ball of yarn.

She also gave me some great photography tips and taught me a little about using natural light and what settings I should be using on my point and shoot to get better pictures.

 So, check out the post on her website: Christy Janeczko Photography.  And I highly recommend her if you need a photographer!  She takes gorgeous pictures that are natural and relaxed and beautiful.  She's done family pictures for my side of the family and my husband's.  I would have had her shoot my wedding, but she was my maid of honor. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Cabin Fever: Dreaming of Fresh Vegetables

We have now had snow on the ground for about four months.  It's so deep, that it's almost up to my waste.  Monday I took my parents' dog with me cross country skiing, and he got stuck because the snow came up to his neck.  He's a hundred pound black lab.  So needless to say, I kind of tired of the white stuff.  I've done better this year than previously, but it's still time for it to go.  Seeing seed packets showing up in stores makes me ready for spring and ready to plant seeds.

I traveled around on Etsy and made plans for all sorts of things I'd like to plant this year.  I'm kind of planning on actually putting in a garden this year.  I grow a ton of stuff on my deck, in pots, but some things just don't far well in pots.  Things like corn, beans, peas, and even my tomatoes have a hard time getting enough water.  Plus, I would have more room, and wouldn't have to invest in so much potting soil each year and spend so much time watering!

So here's a Pinterest board of some of my favorite finds:

I love salad greens, so I want to plant kale, bibb lettuce, mixed greens, and spinach.  I like a variety of tomatoes.  You need some for slicing and some for salads.  I love yellow pear tomatoes.  Cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli are all necessary.  And if I'm going to grow a real garden, I want some sweet corn, peas, and beans.  Cucumbers for pickling as well as slicing sound delicious.  And I love some zucchini as well.  I also want to try some fun things, like rainbow swiss chard and purple carrots and weird heirloom beets.  I think I'm either going to have to narrow my selections down or convert my whole back yard into growing space.

There's a lot of sellers on Etsy who offer unique seeds.  I haven't ordered from any yet, but as we get closer to growing time I'd like to try some of  them out.  Heirloom Seeds 2 U is from Wisconsin and they have a wide variety of pepper seeds to choose from, as well as some tomatoes, cucumbers, and other veggies.  Box Garden Organics has a ton of unique heirloom veggie and flower seeds and they're from Idaho.  Sherwood Seeds has a ton of unique tomato and pepper seeds, as well as some other veggies and flowers.  They're from Pennsylvania.  Kenyon Organics are from Utah and sell  tons of veggies and flowers (eight pages of seeds!).  If you're thinking of trying some heirloom seeds or unique breeds, I'd start with these four shops.  Also, you can buy seeds from around the world, but just remember that then you have to deal with customs and other headaches, so it may take longer for your seeds to arrive, if they do at all.

So, for most plants you can start seeds inside about six to eight weeks before your projected final frost.  For my zip code, that would be somewhere between March 19 and April 2.  Still more than a month, before I can even start planting seeds.  :( 

What do you think?  Anything else awesome that I should be considering planting?  Feel free to let me know in the comments.  Or know any good seed resources?  Please share.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Books 'n Blogger Big Reveal

They're here!  They're here!  My box of books from my Books n' Blogger swap partner arrived today!  And man did she do a good job.  Before I show off my treasures, let me tell you about my partner.

Jolene from With a Little Help from My Friends and I were paired up as partners.  We're both midwestern girls and we have similar tastes in books.  We both like historical fiction. We also like some fantasy, historical non-fiction and have read a lot of the same books.  She also likes to cook and paints and shares all sorts of stories on her blog.  She writes like she's writing to a friend and you just get drawn right in.  Check her out!

So, our book mission was to send three books.  One that we had read and thought our swap partner would like, one that was on our partner's wish list, and one that we hadn't read but thought they'd enjoy.

Here's what I received!
 First off, how cute is the Sherlock Holmes card!  It's going to make a great marker in my books, since I love all incarnations of Sherlock Holmes.

Now, on to the books.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Jolene had read The Book Thief, and thought I'd enjoy it too. I have heard great things about this book and have been wanting to read it, but hadn't come across a copy yet, since I usually get all my books used or from the library.  Looking forward to reading it!

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn is a book she thought I'd enjoy.  I had read Sharp Objects, and thought it was a real page turner, so I'm looking forward to seeing what's in store in this one.  The back of the book already has me intrigued.

Broken Harbor by Tana French

And, for a book of my wishlist, she went with this Tana French novel.  I read In the Woods a few months ago, and while the ending left me with more questions, it kept me awake at night reading it.  She makes these complex, and flawed characters that just feel like real people.  They mess up, they get angry, and you totally empathize with them.

Now I just have to decide which one to read first!   If you're curious to see what everyone else got, or if you want to join up with the next swap, check out Chaotic Goddess Swaps and follow along.

Oh, and for any fellow cat owners out there, do your cats snoop through your mail too?  Anytime I get a package, HB has to sniff the contents and check everything out.  While I was trying to get pictures, he kept jumping up and getting in the middle of everything.  I don't know if he's just curious, or an attention hog.   Probably both.

HB, stealing the spotlight

Sunday, February 2, 2014

A Few Favorites Feb 2

Another week is through.  Hard to believe January is in the books and we're already on to February.  Here's what I'm loving this week.

1. I was searching Etsy for Valentine's Day cards and came across this one!  "Will You Be My Otter Half" Card ships from the UK so it probably wouldn't get here in time for V-Day, but I love the picture.  It reminds me of this super cute otter video:

2. As a book lover and hoarder, I really love this Bookshelf Shower Curtain from Cafe Press.  It's way pricier than I'd spend on a shower curtain, but it's so awesome!

3. I follow Flamingo Toes and when I saw a link to this tutorial she did on  Love Notes Valentine's Day Bunting over at Lil Luna's I was instantly smitten.  I love Valentine's day.  Always have, always will.  Between exchanging Valentine's while in school to doing Secret Valentine at work, I just love the whole idea of a Holiday all about love and friendship.  So, I added this one to my project pile and began cutting out the pieces.  I'll be sure to share the final results when I'm finished.

4. There's no link for this graphic, because I just found it on a friend's Facebook wall, but I love the sentiment. We've been getting buried in snow and cold here in Wisconsin this year, so I've been spending a lot of time inside, and really, with a warm spot to curl up, a good book, and a cup of coffee, I'm perfectly content.