Saturday, January 28, 2012

Meringue Skirt: My New Wearable Muslin

Several months ago I bought the Colete Sewing Handbook from Colette Patterns.  I put it aside wondering if I would ever get to them.  But thanks to Rhinestones and Telephones and Miss Crayola Creepy who are hosting a sew along for all the patterns in the book, I had my motivation to get started.

I have to say that I wasn't patient (no surprise there) and I didn't make a muslin so I could fit my pattern better.  Nor did I trace the pattern onto interfacing first in order to preserve the pattern.  For shame, for shame!

What I did do was trace the pattern directly onto the fabric with wax free tracing paper and a tracing wheel.

I loved doing it this way.  I still have the pattern intact and the cutting lines are neatly on the fabric without the pattern getting in the way.

I also finally invested in pinking shears.  They were on sale plus I had an additional 15% off.  One of my goals this year is to have the inside of my sewn garments finish better and this really does the trick.  Especially since I am a little afraid of my serger.  I unpick my seams frequently and a little mistake with a sewing machine often means disaster on the serger.

See how nicely that finished?

Here is what else I didn't do.  I didn't lay out the fabric the way the book suggested. I have another goal this year to use up some of my fabric stash if possible.  My husband doesn't believe this goal.  But I proved him wrong as I used this yellow quilting fabric I bought on sale last summer.  I also bought it in pink--it was on sale! I wanted the ovals to appear vertical not horizontal so I laid it out the other direction.  This actually saved my about a half a yard of fabric.  I also lengthened it about four inches because the original is pretty short and who wants to see my forty something knees, and when I sit down, let's just not go there.
Original Pattern Length
My Length

The skirt went together easily and I liked how nicely it finished on the inside! 

The scallops weren't difficult, but I wish I had seen this tutorial by Poppykettle first.

I also thought these were the easiest invisible zipper instructions I'd ever come across.  Do you see the zipper?  Nope! It's invisible.

It was a little big around the waist even though I made the correct size based on the measurements.  And since I didn't make a muslin first to know it would be too big, I will just wear it lower on my hips, and know that next time I need to cut a smaller waist size and immediately grade out to the larger size for my tummy.  Since there will be a next time, this is my muslin which I will wear!

Love the pattern, love the book, and I will continue with the sew along!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Embracing Utah's Mexican Food or It Is What It Is.


When we moved to Utah from Texas, we were disappointed with the Mexican food that we found here.  We missed Casa Garcias and Los Jalecienses (which only had a menu in Spanish).  We also missed the fresh and more yuppie Tex-Mex of Gueros and Curras (home of one of Texas Magazine's 11 Tacos You Need to Eat Before You Die).  The lack of flavor I found in Utah food was one of the reasons I started this review blog.  

The style of Utah food is vastly different than that of Tex-Mex.  It is a slooshy sloshy mix of enchilada sauce and cheddar cheese that has been melted under the heat lamp.  That slooshy sloshy mix of sauce and cheese covers all your food so that you don't know exactly what it is you are eating.  Is that an enchilada or a burrito? And how long has that plate been under the heat lamp?  It is burning a hole through the table. 

That is not to say that we haven't found a few good places.  The Red Iguana makes a variety of delicious mole sauces.  There is a little gas station remodeled into tiny restaurant called Chunga's that has the best Tacos al Pastor.  These tacos should be in a Utah magazine for "The Tacos You Should Eat Before You Die!"  

Once when we were discussing the difference between Utah Mexican food from Texas Mexican with our friend Kim Simpson, a former Utahn, he said that sometimes he had a craving for Utah Mexican. He wanted a big combination plate with sauce and lots of melted, gloopy cheese.  It was like comfort food.  

That was exactly how it was for my family tonight.  We went to La Frontera, and "Ute-Mex" was exactly what we got. All of our meals were just as described especially my husband's large combination plate.  It was good.  It was different.  Not quite the flavors of Texas.  It wasn't yuppie Austin Tex-Mex, but why did it have to be?  It was comfort food.  It was what we ate when we went to Mexican when I was a kid.  So to coin an overused phrase, "it is what it is." I won't turn up my nose to the local Mexican food.  After all, I'm a local.  

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Win's Foolproof Whole Wheat Bread

My friend and neighbor, Win, and her husband, Eddie, used to own the Bosch store up the street.  I got this delicious whole wheat bread recipe from her and am using it with her permission.  


Small Batch               Regular Batch         

4                              6 C warm water

1                              1 1/2 TB salt

1/3                           1/2 C oil

1/3                           1/2 C honey

1 1/2                        2 TB Dough Enhancer

2                              3 TB Saf Yeast

7                              l0 C wheat kernels

3                              4-5 4 x 8 pans

1.  Freshly grind wheat in a wheat grinder on medium 


I have a L'Equip grinder.  It only has one setting, grind.  And 

it's loud. And the filter pops up when there begins to be a lot

of flour in the base.  But other than that, it does a very nice 

job.  Don't you think the flour looks pretty?

2. Add water and several cups of freshly ground whole wheat flour to Bosch mixing bowl with dough hook in place.  Mix, using a few short bursts of the spring-loaded jogging switch (M).  

3.  Add the salt, honey, oil, dough enhancer and instant yeast and jog briefly.  (If the quality of your wheat is suspect, try adding 3 or 4 tablespoons of gluten also.)

4.  While the Bosch is kneading at speed one, slowly add whole wheat flour until dough pulls away from the side of the mixing bowl.  This normally will take most of the whole wheat flour you have ground.  It is better to add too little flour than too much flour. Allow the Bosch to knead the dough until the gluten in the whole wheat flour is properly developed.  This takes about 10-12 minutes.

5. Turn oven on to pre-heat at 150 degrees Fahrenheit.  Shape the loaves and place into pans previously well greased. (Win suggests the product Vegalene.)
6. Turn oven off. Put loaves in warm oven to rise until double in size. This will take approximately 25 minutes.  

7.  When loaves are double in size, turn oven on and set oven to 350 degrees (leave the loaves in the oven). Bake for 30 to 35 minutes.

8. When loaves are done, immediately remove from pans and let cool on wire rack.  (Hint: Wipe out pans while hot with a paper towel or dry cloth.  Don't wash them.)

With this particular batch, I also made a dozen rolls by taking a small piece of dough, rolling it between my palms, and placing the roll in a 9 X 13 pan.  I let them rise as the bread, but they shouldn't cook as long. About 20 -25 minutes.  I forgot this and left them in so I just had to try one with my neighbor's raspberry peach jam while the bread was cooling.  Even overcooked they were delicious!

Here's the thing.  My kids will eat this bread.  I does not have that bitter wheat aftertaste that comes because the whole wheat flour has been sitting on the grocery store shelf too long.  Do I make this for my family frequently?  Nope.  (I have a teaching job that pays me for 7 hours a day and expects me to work 10.  Not a lot of time to bake!)  We succumb to store bought bread more often than not.  But when I do make the bread, I will freeze a few loaves for later.

If you've never made bread before, do where you get all the supplies for making wheat bread?  Check to see if you have a local Bosch Kitchen Center.  They sell everything from wheat kernels, to grinders, to mixers.  If not, several places sell these things on line.  Our local grocery stores will carry large pails of wheat.  If you don't have that available in your area, most natural food stores will sell whole grains and bread making products like gluten, dough enhancer, and yeast.  

I highly recommend saving your pennies and buying a Bosch mixer.  This was the best kitchen appliance purchase I have ever made.   Mostly I like it for making a double batch of chocolate chip cookies.  You can buy hand wheat grinders, but your arm is going to fall off by the time you grind ten cups of wheat.  So save your pennies for that as well.

Win's Foolproof Bread  5 out of 5 stars.
Bosch Mixer  5 out of 5 stars.
L'equip wheat grinder 4 out of 5 stars.

Oh, and one last thing. To some of my international readers, sorry about the customary measurements.  We Yanks still don't do metric!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

McCalls 1073 from 1969 by Designer Molly Parnis

Several months ago I procured this darling 60's pattern from Ebay. You can read about it in a previous post

The first step I took was to preserve the pattern by copying it as is on interfacing with grid lines.

The pattern says it is for a 27 inch waist.  Yeah, right.  Like anyone ever has the small waist size listed on patterns compared to the bust.  (Maybe I'm just jealous.)  I thought that since this didn't have a fitted waist I would be fine, but upon making the muslin I decided to add a little to the waist.

I had to think about how to add to the waist since there was a side skirt piece in addition to the front and back bodice pieces. But I figured if I added a little to each side of the side piece and half as much to the each edge of the front and back bodice where they came together, it would work.  

When I finally got down to sewing the dress, I chose a purple washable moleskin which turned out to be the worst.  It was slippery, it frayed terribly, it was unforgiving and would stretch out of shape without bouncing back.  The inside of the finished dress looks atrocious, and the neck in the back is a slightly misshapen.

The pattern calls for and underlining which I didn't bother with.  But that would lend itself well to a Hong Kong seam and help make the finishing on the inside of the dress look better. Although I'm not sure how to do a Hong Kong seam on a curve that has to be clipped. Suggestions anyone?  

In the end I am pleased with the dress.  After making adjustments to the waist, it was a little big at the sides even though I took it in after trying it on.  The pattern itself was easy to follow, although one instruction said to make a simulated bound button hole with no explanation .  I didn't know what that meant so I didn't do it.  The neck facing pattern piece will have to be redrafted as it was not large enough to fit the bodice front and back on both the muslin and the dress.  The tab at the collar is my favorite detail.  You could make the dress without it but it adds just the right splash of personality. 

McCalls 1073 from 1969: 4 out of 5 stars.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Grumpy Book Review

Until a few days ago, I have been unlucky with my book choices.  I pick a book that looks great based on the blurb, and  then I end up disappointed.  Take Going Bovine by Libba Bray, for example. 

This book even won the Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature, and I couldn't even get past the third page.  There was just too much swearing.  Now I know I am not the demographic that this book is aimed at, but really, does the author actually think that vulgarity is going to give her an edge with the young adult crowd?  And, yes, I know that many teenagers swear. Good grief, I'm a junior high teacher. They have a hard time using more than a precious few adjectives/interjections.  But to load the first few pages with vulgarities including a popular texting abbreviation, is not going to endear the author to teens or make her popular with the teen in crowd. What the flip was she thinking?  Give teens more credit!

Because I didn't finish the book, I have no idea why it won such a prestigious award.  I even have read in other reviews that the swearing never lets up and the main character has a sexual encounter with an angel.  Whatever.  

Luckily, Libba Bray is redeeming herself.  I am over 100 pages into  A Great and Terrible Beauty, which I am enjoying and there are only a few well-placed swear words.  When I finish the book I will post more.

I also did not finish Little Bee by Chris Cleave.  This novel started out so promising.  The story is about a 16 year old Nigerian girl, Little Bee, who crosses paths with a couple from London. It is a tale of her experiences as a refugee in England.  The problem is that the story fizzles about when Little Bee finds her way to the home of the wife just after the wife's husband dies, and when the wife's boyfriend becomes a more prominent part of the story.  The story simply looses its momentum.  Again, what is with the vulgarity?  I'm a professional woman and I never hear my colleagues speak like this, nor do my friends and family litter their speech with vulgarity in casual conversation.  I must be living in an alternate universe. 

Speaking of living in an alternate universe, I was the only one in my book club that did not like Saving Cee Cee Honeycutt, by Beth Hoffman. And it was the first time I'd been invited to book club.  I hope they invite me back.  Not only that, the book got many 5 star reviews on Amazon.  I would have given it 1 star. 

The book takes place in Georgia in 1962. Talk about exploiting every Southern stereotype. The kindly rich, white woman who employs the black mammy-like cook/sage, the Spanish moss, the perfect Southern hospitality-it goes on and on.   All the adult women give Cee Cee, a 12 year old girl whose mentally ill mother has been killed, little bits of helpful words of wisdom that just became saccharin and insipid.  The plot never seemed to do much, and everything wrapped up in a tidy, perfect, unrealistic package. 

But the most unrealistic part of all, was the garden party that Cee Cee's aunt throws for her. Aunt Tootie invites her black maid, Oletta, as a guest and also invites Oletta's black friends.  And no one says anything except for a neighbor who is not well liked anyway.  I don't care how good of a woman Aunt Tootie was, that would have never happened in Savannah in 1962.  Even if she would have invited Oletta and her friends, the other ladies wouldn't have attended.  As awful as we know this to be now days, it wouldn't have taken place.  Nor would the Jerry Springer-like cat fight between the neighbors have occured in polite, aristocratic, Savannah society. 

So book club, please don't kick me out. Even though I'm not finished yet, I like the pick for next month, A Girl Named Zippy, by Haven Kimmel.  There is hope for me! (But I'm not reading anything by Glenn Beck--just saying.)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Kathmandu

Little did I know when I ventured into The Kathmandu for dinner, that I was eating at Salt Lake Magazine's winner of "The Best Indian Restaurant 2011." This little gem tucked away in a strip mall in Holladay (what is it with me and strip malls in Holladay--see previous post), serves Indian and Nepali cuisine and was truly was fantastic!

photo   From the owner.

We thought that since we were already familiar with Indian food we would be adventurous and try the Nepali dinners.  My husband had the Everest Lamb which was cooked with curry and other spices, but the real treat was the addition of mango to the sauce.  I had the Chicken Momo, not because I had any idea what it was save the brief description on the menu, but because it sounded cool, and it was!  They were little dumplings arranged like tiny hats around a spicy, yellow sauce.  Fabulous.   Later a charming, young waiter told us momo was his favorite dish when he lived in Nepal.  

Yes, we are going back.  And, adventurous or not, we are taking friends.  4.5 out of 5 stars.