Friday, August 29, 2008

I Have Problems

Not real problems, but mental. I have been wanting to buy furniture without any concept of appropriateness or where it might go in my little house. Like this.

Unreasonably wanting it. Its gone now anyway, so the temptation has passed, but still. Its beautiful. Where would I have put such a thing? It was a good 6 1/2' long!

I also let slip through my little fingers an antique loveseat and matching couch for $100 awhile ago. All carved feet and tufted velvet upholstery. Agh.

I love/hate Cr*igslist.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Failed Shirt Experiment

Okay, so I still can't sew clothes.

This is Simplicity 3956.

I suppose it was not the brightest idea to use such a slippery fabric, but that's what I did because I'm like that. I had a hard time cutting out the fabric straight. My hemline was a bit uneven.

It turned out alright, though, until I got the zipper. I am no good at zippers. It was supposed to have an overlap, but I don't know what I'm doing and it did not end up overlapping at all. I'm not sure how to bury the bottom of the zipper either. The instructions said to sew together the two halves from the notch down and then put the zipper in above that. Well, the zipper wasn't as long as the opening, so if you put the zipper in at the top of the shirt, you had a inch or so gapping still below the zipper. Not sure if that was my mistake or what, but I didn't quite understand. It also seems like the zipper is really stiff and it doesn't really lay flat in the shirt. Perhaps its because the fabric is so light? Or maybe the zipper loosens up after washing? No idea.

But its a moot point anyway, since by then I figured out that the dumb thing doesn't even fit me. I got it on, but the zipper wasn't going up the whole way. Oops. Obviously, this is not my size. I imagine that's something I should have realized before I got halfway through. Just guessing.

I should really go take some classes or something. Or try easier shirts first. Either way!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Ciabatta Bread

I found a bread recipe that I did like. I made this one yesterday and The Man devoured the first loaf. This one you also leave sitting on your counter for 12 hours or so.

Ciabatta Bread
by Lisa Pizza at RecipeZaar

For Sponge:

For Bread:


  1. Make sponge: Stir together, warm water and yeast.
  2. Let stand 5 minutes, until creamy.
  3. Transfer yeast mixture to another bowl and add room-temp water and flour.
  4. Stir for 4 minutes.
  5. Cover bowl with plastic wrap.
  6. Let stand at cool room temp at least 12 hours and up to 1 day.
  7. Make bread: Stir together yeast and milk in small bowl and let stand 5 minutes, until creamy.
  8. In bowl of standing electric mixer, with dough hook, blend together milk mixture, sponge, water, oil and flour at low speed until flour is moistened.
  9. Beat on medium for 3 minutes.
  10. Add salt and beat for 4 more minutes.
  11. Scrape dough into oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap, until doubled- about 1 1/2 hours.
  12. Note: Dough will be VERY sticky and full of bubbles.
  13. Cut two pieces of parchment paper, approx 12 inches by 6 inches.
  14. Place on baking sheet and flour well.
  15. Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface and cut in half.
  16. Transfer each half to paper and form irregular ovals approx 9 inches long.
  17. Dip fingers in flour and dimple loaves.
  18. Dust tops with flour.
  19. Cover with dampened kitchen towel and let rise 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until almost doubled.
  20. At least 45 minutes before baking bread, pre-heat pizza stone on lowest oven rack position at 425°F.
  21. Transfer 1 loaf, along with parchment paper, onto stone and bake for 20 minutes or until pale golden.
  22. Remove to cooling racks and repeat with second loaf.
The bread turned out very soft and tender. I have another batched started and sitting on the counter again so tomorrow I can try to make some rolls out of it. I had a chicken sandwich at Sonic the other day with a ciabatta bun and the bun was actually quite good. Isn't that sad? I'm trying to duplicate something at a fast food place! But whatever.

Monday, August 25, 2008

iPod Cover

I actually finished something else! Its a small miracle! Its an iPod cover. I used the leftover fabrics from my botched bag attempts the other day and some polka dot fabric that I had leftover from something else.

I sewed a long rectangle with interfacing and turned it right side out, sewed the bottom half up with a ribbon sandwiched in between for a flap and voila!

I decided to get all smart and put a long buttonhole on the bottom so that I could plug in the USB cord, but honestly, that doesn't work all that well. I had a hard time getting it plugged in and then cable stayed loose. Egh. I also tried putting an eyelet stitch thing up top for plugging in the headphones for the bag and that worked well enough.

But a cover it is.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

No Knead Bread

So this has been going around all over the place for awhile now, but I decided to try this bread again and honestly, I'm kinda egh about it. Its not bad and its easy, but it is bread after all. It won't change your life or anything. Am I alone on this?

published by The New York Times and adapted from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery

Time: About 1½ hours plus 14 to 20 hours’ rising

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

Yield: One 1½-pound loaf.

Perhaps I'll practice some more and see what I think. I'd rather have a more traditional bread loaf shape, but I'm not sure what to cover it with besides just foil. Have to try that and see. I also used some whole wheat flour in mine and maybe I'll try it without. Either way, it is easy to make!

There's a demonstration video as well.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Look! I Made Something!

I don't seem to be making anything these days. I have actually finished another 3 doilies (I've got something bordering on obsession with those at the moment) but haven't blocked them, so there's nothing to show there yet.

I had an inspiration the other day, though, and bought a bunch of shirt patterns and Amy Butler's Weekend Travel Bag and Birdie Sling patterns to try. Hopefully those will actually happen. I'm working on a shirt at the moment.

I did, however, finally make a bag that I've been thinking about. Its a very simple bag, but that's just the way I like it. I was having a terrible time using my brain that night and I managed to cut it out 3 times before I got it the right size. I know. I'm reasonably intelligent, but sometimes, I can't think worth a darn. I'll chalk it up to starting way too late and spending too much time home alone with the dog the past couple weeks.

The first time I cut it out, I cut it the size I wanted it, which doesn't take into account the size of the bottom. I wanted a somewhat fat bottom to it. So I added 2 1/2" to the height and recut. Yeah, I'm that dumb. I neglected to add that amount to the sides as well. I sewed the whole thing together (lining and pockets and all) before I realized that. Sheesh.

Third time was a charm. Although I still had one oversight. I wanted the pockets up towards the top of the bag, so that I didn't have to dig through the bag for my cellphone or credit cards or lip gloss or whatever. I failed to consider that putting things in pockets in the top of the bag would make it collapse. Screw it. I did interface and put a strip of plastic in the bottom so that it has some structure. Good enough for me. I'll know better next time, right?? In my defense, it was 2 AM before I quit and crawled into bed.

Anyway. I like it. I'm having a gray phase. I have more ideas up my sleeve and I hope that I can make them without wasting all that fabric again. Well, not wasted. I'm thinking iPod covers with the excess from the bag. That is, if I can measure the iPod all by myself. Perhaps if I start earlier in the day . . .

Friday, August 22, 2008

More Painting

I'm running out of things to paint (no, still haven't finished the railing out front) so I've finally moved on to my office. You know how men are with painting wood, so I've avoided this room because it had a lovely knotty pine paneling that men are somehow compelled to hang on to, even if they don't really like it. Well. I'm over it. It was too dark, orange and cave-like. Now its a fresh shade of white! Surprise!

Before, all its lodge-like glory.

Seriously, though, it does brighten it up in here. It took me ages because I painted it in sections so that I could still work and not have to move everything out.

This vent by the door is where Dutch resides in the winter.

I painted it with a brush, so that I could get down into all the little grooves. Ugh. That was tiring. It required 2 coats of primer and 2 coats of paint to cover it all up. Then the trim might require even more, since semi-gloss doesn't seem to cover worth a darn. After the first coat or two of primer, you could see all the cracks between panels really clearly, so I filled those all in with caulk. My favorite. It required a full two tubes of it.

The couch is a hand-me-down from my Grandma. One of these days, I'm going to get it recovered.

Right now, its a purse-holder and mail stash and the blue blanket is where Dutch spends his nights while I work.

I still have to touch up the trim in a few places and paint the extremely dingy yellowing ceiling. But I'm avoiding it, so there are still paint cans and paint on my kitchen counters and an unwashed paint brush in the fridge. Lazy, I know, but I'm having a hard time dragging myself back to it. Must. Get. Motivated.

This is where I reside for hours on end each day. Lovely. I know.

The light fixture is also quite fetching.

I got a new computer a month or so ago and still haven't gotten rid of the old one. I'm paranoid I've forgotten something.

This is my magazine collection and, also, apparently, my junk collection.

I got all excited thinking about getting a nice new rug in here to match the paint job. I remember seeing a gray rug somewhere, so I ended up going to all these different online store trying to remember where it was. I finally located it in the clearance section at West Elm and there was only one size left. Really too big for the room. Ugh. Its gone altogether now. The desk in the picture is cute. Maybe impractical for someone who actually works from home, but cute.

I tried to order some white roller shades at Penneys like the ones that I put in the bedroom windows. First, one size wasn't available and now the other isn't. Darn. I can hardly order one and hope that the other size comes back. So I'm holding on that one. I would like to get new office furniture in here so that The Man can move his computer in here as well, but I haven't decided what I want yet. Oh well. That's a one-of-these-days project around here.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


The Man left for work before I got up and won't be home until tonight. 13 1/2 hour day, anyone? No, thank you. I'm going to spend the day enjoying myself at home, as usual. Today I shall attempt to sew a shirt. Given the results of previous attempts, I don't really have high hopes. I'm having trouble cutting out the dumb thing. But enough of that.

To start my morning right, I made popovers. I guess I've been thinking about Maine lately, and that has put me in the mood for them. If you've never been to Maine, I'm guessing you don't get the connection. Its Jordan Pond.

The mountains in the background are known as the Bubbles.

The path around Jordan Pond

They say that it is tradition to have tea and popovers with strawberry jam at the Jordan Pond House. We had never done it before our most recent trip to Maine, simply because its not exactly cheap and its always packed to the gills with people. You sometimes have to drive around the parking lot a few times to get in. But once you do, you can sit out on the lawn and gaze down towards the Pond and the Bubbles and eat your popovers.

Anyway, this is where we were last year around this time and I'm wishing we could go back.

I have been thinking about buying a popover pan, and haven't done it, although you can get them here or here or even here. I tried a recipe the other day that didn't work that well. Can't remember exactly where I got it, but it was either AllRecipes or some Google search that turned up a recipe that supposedly came from the Jordan Pond House cookbook. They just didn't puff very much.

Today I located the recipe that I've used before with success in my muffin pan. Its from Williams-Sonoma.


4 c milk
8 eggs
3 2/3 c flour
2 Tbsp butter, melted
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt

Put your popover pan (I used a muffin pan) in the oven and preheat to 375 degrees (make sure that the rack gives your popovers plenty of room to expand!) while you make the batter.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat the milk until just warm to the touch (about 125 degrees). (Or if you're me, put it in a glass measuring cup and pop it in the microwave)

In a large bowl, mix the ingredients just until blended, and then beat for 1 minute. Pass it through a sieve to remove any lumps (I didn't bother, of course).

Remove pan from the oven and spray with nonstick cooking spray (its probably a good idea to spray the top of the pan too, if you're using a muffin pan, because it will run over a bit). Pour the batter into the cups and bake until the popovers are puffed and golden, 40 to 45 minutes.

Serve hot.

Makes 12 regular popovers (if you use a muffin pan, I'd say it makes about 24, so I halved it).

The Williamsville Inn, West Stockbridge, Massachusetts

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I kissed a bored dog

I kissed a bored dog this morning and smelled coffee breath. Hmm. Why is that?

[Investigation commences]

I think I have spotted the source. Someone's been drinking coffee that I left on the side table in the living room last night. See that line on the side? He enjoyed it. He downed a fair bit!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

New Things

Couple new things that excited me recently -

Miss Rosie's Quilt Co now has a website
! I love her patterns and have bought and made several of them, like Tag Sale, Amadeus, Summer Wind & Toulouse. I've meant to make more, but haven't gotten around to it. Actually, I never finished the Summer Wind and Toulouse because I'm not sure how to quilt them. That's my lame-o fault, not the pattern. I finished the tops.

Anyway, I think I heard that she may be starting a blog as well, so look out for that.

Also. I heard awhile back that Martha Stewart is going to be introducing a line of embroidery designs this summer. Still can't find anything other than press releases, so maybe its not out yet, but I am excited about that too!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Etsy Finds

I saw this today via More Ways To Waste Time - mobiles for adults! Spin Designs Inc. has an Etsy shop with some really cute designs. I like this one:

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Dutch is One Year Old

So you're probably tired of hearing about my dog, but bear with me. I don't have anything else exciting to share with you.

Dutch turned one year old on Saturday. I had started a batch of strawberry cupcakes earlier and run out of eggs, so I decided to finish making them and baked a batch of mini cupcakes and frosted them with strawberry buttercream so that he could have cake on his birthday.

He was pretty excited. This is the audience I had while icing the cupcakes.

I accidentally picked out a "sparkling" candle. Ha!

Dutch didn't like the candle and was irritated that there was a cupcake with fire on it.

Hand over the cupcake!


We shared them with his doggy friends.

Harley does not need a cupcake, but we love him. He is Dutch's best bud.

This is Beans, the newest member of the fam. Dutch isn't sure he likes him,

but he is cute and so he gets a cupcake.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

More Rings

I bought a couple more rings from AlluRing's etsy shop. Aren't they lovely?

This is a pearl stack ring in cranberry pearls.

This is the Dark Night ring. Its prettier in person than in the pictures, I think.

Wicked Bored

I have a ridiculously bored dog on my hands. I'm trying to paint in my office, and it is taking forever and ever. So this is what a pouting, bored dog does. That would be a stolen bath rug and he's in the process of shredding it. Lovely.

Friday, August 01, 2008


I have visitors in my backyard today. There's two of them and they are just relaxing in the grass and enjoying the sunshine, apparently. They don't seem to be in any hurry to go anywhere and I don't know where in the world mama is.

They're lucky they're young and cute or I would go after them with my hose for someone of their species eating my pepper plants, not once, but twice, and for mowing down all my tulips in the spring.