4.28.2011

Coffee Tea-Cakes and Muffins



Recently, my dear fiance dropped the hint that he wanted a [healthy] coffee cake. Those of you who have baked a coffee cake before know there isn't much healthy about it.

So, I decided the trick would be portion control. Having recently purchased the NordicWare Mini Tea-Cake pan (love it!) to use as a muffin pan, I knew this would provide the solution. I used a Martha Stewart Coffee Cake Muffin recipe I found via Baking Bites and tweaked it. I substituted whole wheat flour for about 3/4 cup of white flour - in part because I wanted to make it healthier and part because I ran out of white - and I cut the baking time in half. Instead of the buttery crumb topping, I sprinkled each tea-cake muffin with cinnamon-sugar.

I did also make four regular-sized muffins - 60 minis was more than enough! For those, I sprinkled a little cinnamon-sugar on before they went in and little more when they came out.

Delightful! x
4.27.2011

Pattern Review dot Com

I stumbled across this little gem one evening about two years ago. I was deciding on my first garment and Googled a pattern number. The first result was this site and I was so excited! It is a site where you can find pattern reviews, photos, success stories or woes and lots of helpful little tips for seemingly every pattern you can imagine! Other members can also comment on your review and everyone is so nice and encouraging it actually makes you want to sew more! In addition, there are message boards where you can ask for help (or even find out what the best thread brands are - thanks again ladies!!), sewing classes to expand your talents, and contests with prizes.

So, if you sew, make sure you click the link below (or the widget to the right) to find real-life pictures and reviews of patterns before you make the first cut! No sense making a mistake that someone can help you avoid! x

Sewing - Sewing Patterns & Sewing Machines. Butterick & Kwik Sew Patterns. Sewing Machine Reviews & Pattern Reviews. Sewing Classes at PatternReview.com

No-Bake Oatmeal Fudge Cookies

There a few "Southern" foods I love but these cookies are at the top of the list. I was first introduced to these about 9 years ago, sometime after my (now) fiance and I began dating. His Dad is a master at these and they quickly became a favorite of mine.

It wasn't until recently that I considered making them myself. Now that we live so far from home, I could either wait until holidays or try my own hand. Craving them one day, I decided on the latter. I Googled for a recipe and came across several. The one I chose was from the Southern Food section on About.com. It had perfect reviews so I assumed it couldn't go wrong.
4.22.2011

Organizing Upcoming Sewing Projects

With all the recent sales and so many new pretty spring fabrics hitting the stores, my fabric is constantly growing. In order to keep track of what I intend to do with each fabric, I've been on the hunt for a mobile app that will allow me to paste pictures of the fabric onto pictures of the intended pattern. I've not yet found one but what I did download last night is Photo Grid. While it isn't optimal, it does allow me to make collages showing the pattern sketch, fabric swatches and intended accessories! It's actually quite useful. You can add 2, 4, 6, or 9 photos and arrange them using the arrows or by shaking your phone (which admittedly was mildly amusing).

Here are a few samples I've put together:

4.19.2011

Spring Cleaning - Microfiber Cloths

With Spring comes spring cleaning. To make things easier and more eco-friendly, I use microfiber clothes in place of paper towels. They're wonderful! They have about a six-month [used and abused but never machine dried] life on them before they become rags. During those first six months, they're perfect for dry dusting and for streak-free glass and stone polishing. After they wear out, they are still perfect for less delicate tasks such as spill clean-up and shower scrubbing.

However, have you ever checked the price on them? I've paid upwards of $5 for one little cloth and it lasted only a few months before the fibers wore down and lost their charge. My fiance thought this was ridiculous so he had a suggestion: buy them from the automotive section. In this part of your big box store, they're more focused on getting you to buy expensive car cleaning products and don't charge much for the cloths. Generally, I get a pack of 8 for around $5 but yesterday, a new set caught my eye. They say "professional" and are larger and double sided - one regular and one softer. You get five lime green, five bright orange, and five sunny yellow cloths for around $9 from Walmart.
Who wouldn't want to do a little spring cleaning with cloths this cheery!? Time to do the mirrors! x
4.14.2011

McCall's M5391 - Classic Twill Shorts - Day 4

Now that I had a personal touch to add to my shorts, I was reenergized. I started today on the waistband. Press, trim, set aside. I love when I can start with something easy.

DIY Bias Tape - No Special Tools Required


Well, my navy twill shorts went right back on hold. I almost never get to sew on the weekend and this weekend's busyness spilled into this week. Today, when I finally had time to work on them, I decided I was a bit bored with the project (this happens frequently and is why I don't generally publish sewing reviews in series). So instead, I took on a related project - a bit of bias tape to spruce up the interior of the shorts.
4.08.2011

McCall's M5391 - Classic Twill Shorts - Day 3

Today didn't get off to a confident start. Even with the number of diagrams, the instructions for placing the zipper still left me a little confused. Of course, the instructions don't seem to match the diagrams. So I ignored them! For Step 20, diagram D, it states to "place closed zipper (face up) under left extension." But in order to need to place the zipper under it, you will have needed to unnecessarily flip the garment over, which it did not say to do. It should have read "place closed zipper (face down) along pressed edge of left extension." Regardless, I went with the picture and my instincts and sorted it out.


Homemade Java Shake

Every day, I make my fiance and I lattes. Two shots espresso plus 16oz milk each. Today though, I got halfway through mine and then decided I wanted something more refreshing. Normally, I would just blend the coffee with some ice but I remembered... we have vanilla ice cream!

So, I pulled out the ever-handy Magic Bullet, filled the small cup with my leftover latte and threw in a scoop of ice cream. Using the flat-blade attachment, I blended it for about 10 seconds. Yum! A perfect Java Milkshake. 

8 ounces whole milk
1 brewed shot espresso (dark roast)
1 scoop vanilla ice cream

Combine in blender. Mix for 10 seconds.

I can also see adding a drizzle of chocolate for a mocha-java shake or maybe a little caramel sauce. I'm going to need more ice cream! x

4.07.2011

McCall's M5391 - Classic Twill Shorts - Day Two

Between making upgrades to our house and shopping for a new car, my "spare time" has been rather consumed. It's great for the household but not so great for the pile of sewing projects I just can't seem to stop adding to.

My shorts have finally made it back onto the counter!  I've begun today by laying out the pieces I cut last week to trace the marks onto the fabric. I find that using wax-free tracing paper, a wheel, and a see-through dressmaker's ruler provides the most accurate transfer for me. The ruler provides a guide when tracing lines, as well as a weight for when pins would be in your way. I copy everything exactly as it is on the pattern, except for the circles, which I replace with 'x's for simplicity. Since I've determined this Prym paper will always wash out, I'll use the white paper for this project for greatest visibility.
Next, I cut out the interfacing for my waistband, trimming it just inside the pattern lines. I find cutting off the entire seam allowance does not provide enough stability when sewing. I iron the facing to the fabric using a simple, damp paper towel.

4.06.2011

I Believe in Pink

This morning, I came across this quote and wanted to share it with you.

"I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles."
 
— Audrey Hepburn

Don't we just love Audrey!? Happy Wednesday! x

4.01.2011

The Farouk Chi

Now, here's a product I use nearly every day but hadn't yet thought to post about. If you've not yet been introduced to the Farouk Chi, I strongly recommend making its acquaintance.

I purchased mine for a steal about 3 years ago on Amazon. I've used it nearly every morning since! You may have noticed from recent pictures that I have fairly long hair. Longer than any of my friends care to manage. However, styling it isn't a big issue for me. I like it straight. Straight, straight, straight. This glorious tool does it in a third of the time of previous flat irons I've owned and it somehow doesn't seem to harm my hair nearly as much! I just did my whole head of long, thick hair in under 10 minutes! And, it will stay that way until I wash it.

It's easy! By the time I've separated the bottom layer to style, the iron has heated up. Then, I take my hair in thin, two-inch sections, easily gliding down the stands, never pausing. About 10 minutes later, I'm done!  My normally wild, frizzy, wavy hair is transformed into sleek and smooth. No hair product required. If the mood ever does strike me to wear my hair curly, this even does that! (Tutorials for which can be found by many people on YouTube.) The iron travels well too as it's so thin. I never take a trip without it! (No one would want to see those vacation pictures - scary!)

Now, I know a flat iron hasn't anything to do with homemaking or DIY but, we "Susies" need to look good too! x

April Fools

Instead of playing an April fools prank on my lovely readers, I'd like to stop and say thank you! I appreciate each of my followers and readers - including those I can't see ;).

Each post is open to comments and I would be delighted to hear your thoughts! Also, if there's a post you want to see, let me know! Perhaps a product you're considering and want to know if I've tried...?

Again, thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! Without you, I'd just be talking to myself and that could be scary!

Happy Friday! x