Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Jack and Jill Hat By Izzy & Ivy Designs

I picked up this darling pattern by Izzy and Ivy Designs.  I thought it would be a fantastic shower present for my expectant niece.  

I just finished and opted to make it without the fabric flowers, but I still may add some later.  Here is the finished product with real flowers.

Do you like the crocuses just popping up?

Elastic in the back.

This was an extremely simple pattern to make, and I was able to use some of my stash.  The only problem with the instructions is that they have you cut out the fusible fleece for the brim and interfacing for the top.  The instructions never say to attach these pieces to the fabric.  However, even a beginner could figure that out.  Also, the illustrations weren't that helpful.  On the other hand, I like how the instructions were in booklet form and spread out a bit. I would recommend this pattern for any level of sewist.  In fact, I am going to make another.

Hanging from my almost-budding Dogwood tree.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Sunshine Award

Urban Rustic of The Makings of an Urban Rustic has given my blog the Sunshine Award.  Urban Rustic has a wonderful blog about sewing and reading and gardening.  Sound familiar?  It is no wonder I love her blog!

As recipient of this fine award, I must answer the following questions and give the award to other blogs.  

1. Favorite color: Red, followed by yellow, then blue.  However I tend to gravitate towards purples and wines in my choice of colors to wear.

2. Favorite animal:  A big, sloppy dog to love.

3. Favorite number:  I've never thought about it.  

4. Favorite non-alcoholic drink: Nothing better than Diet Dr. Pepper.  Although I love Oreo milkshakes.  Does that count as a drink?

5. Facebook or Twitter: Facebook--although I rarely post.

6. My Passion: The Outdoors and classical music.  Of course my family.

7. Getting or Giving:  Both, although my husband is a better present giver than I am.

8. Favorite Pattern:  Right now it is  the most recent pattern I made, Simplicity 3956.

9. Favorite day of the week: Probably Saturday or Sunday because I usually have time to sew.

10. Favorite flower:  Giant sunflowers!

11. Celebrity role model:  Celebrities are role models?  Although I do like how Matt Damon passionately advocates for teachers.

Blogs to bestow this award:

Amanda Jean at Crazy Mom Quilts, Svetlana at s.o.t.a.k. handmade, and Nicole at Mama Love Quilts, because of the beautiful, fresh quilts with lovely colors.  

Emilee of Emilee Paints and Felicia from Felicia's Fabulous Folkart because of their lovely but very different art.

Mongs of My Thrifty Closet, and Poppykettle from Seamstress: Poppykettle for their fashion sense!

Of course I have to give the award to Ellen at Words Times Words
for her humorous writing on family life.  

OK Bloggers.  Now it is your turn. Answer the questions and give the award to about 10 other bloggers.  

Thank you Urban Rustic!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Stephen Hough With the Utah Symphony

 I almost missed this amazing performance.  There I was at Abravanel Hall with my husband Saturday night handing my ticket to the ticket taker.

  "Have these already been scanned?" she asked.  "Oh these are for last night's performance." Such disappointment.  How could I have been so absent minded? Luckily, they let me exchange my tickets for different seats.  The new seats turned out even better because we could see the pianist's hands from a different angle than we would have. 

The guest conductor was Mark Wigglesworth from England.  His name suited him well. He was extremely active in his conducting.  The overture was Prelude to Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg by Richard Wagner. I was trying to figure out what time it was in, 4-4 I presumed, but one wouldn't know it by his conducting.  I couldn't find the beat.  The conductor was all over the place with his baton.  I am not saying this as a bad thing.  The orchestra followed him well even when the baton went in a straight line across the orchestra for several measures.  It was actually quite beautiful.  

The solo pianist for the evening was another Brit, Steven Hough, who played the Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 3 in D Minor.  At first, he appeared extremely taut, but within seconds, I stopped paying attention to his stiff posture and fell into the music.  The power in which he played this piece was amazing.  The performance was so quick and strong that I couldn't even process all that was going on.  The conductor, who before intermission, was the star, dancing about the podium, now took a back seat. The orchestra kept the pace and power of their soloist.

The energy in the room was astounding, and when the performance was over, the audience jumped to their feet and exploded in applause.  The man behind me yelled, "Holy @#$*, that @$* Rachmaninoff was a mean one!"   Although I wouldn't have said it myself, he hit the nail on the head.  Who said symphony attendees are always proper? 

After multiple curtain calls, Hough sat at the piano to play an encore. He treated us with a popular Chopin nocturne played with peaceful emotion.  It was in direct contrast to the passion and drive of the Rachmaninoff.  It was a perfect ending to the evening. Too bad for the rude people who didn't even bother to clap and who left immediately after the performance was over.  They missed another beautiful performance by Hough.  (If you want to read my comments about the way people dress at a symphony performance click here.)

You can tell a fantastic performance by how much the audience talks about it afterward.  They spoke his blurry hands, power, and wow factor all the way out the building, to the TRAX and to the new City Creek Center.  Usually people don't make it out the building still talking about the performance.  

On a cool side note, Stephen Hough has a blog with the Telegraph. On his latest post, regarding the Kindle, he mentions in the comment section that he visited the Genealogical Library in Salt Lake City to look up his grandfather.  Don't you love it when visitors mention great things about the place you live?  Another reason to like Stephen Hough!  

Stephen Hough, Mark Wigglesworth, and the Utah Symphony: 5 out of 5 stars!


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Gulf Coast Shrimp Gumbo

I originally got this recipe from a wonderful cookbook, Sunday Soup, but also found it on the internet.  


8 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil, divided
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup chopped celery
3/4 cup chopped carrot
3/4 cup diced, seeded red bell pepper
2 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
3/8 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more if needed
3/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more if needed
3 cups chicken stock, plus extra if needed 
1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes, drained well
5 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
2  bay leaves, broken in half
12 ounces okra, cut into 1/4-inch rounds
6 ounces andouille sausage, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 pound large uncooked shrimp, shelled and deveined
4 cups cooked white rice 
To make roux, heat 4 tablespoons oil in a medium, heavy skillet set over medium heat. When hot, add flour and stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens and turns deep reddish brown, for 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Add 2 tablespoons oil to a large, heavy, deep-sided pot set over medium-high heat. When hot, add onion, celery, carrot, and red bell pepper. Sauté, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute more. Stir in cayenne pepper, thyme, 3/8 teaspoon salt, and 3/8 teaspoon black pepper. Add stock, tomatoes, parsley sprigs, and bay leaves, and bring mixture to a simmer. Reduce heat to low so that mixture stays at simmer, then whisk in reserved roux.

Simmer gumbo until vegetables are tender and mixture has thickened, for about 20 minutes.

While gumbo is simmering, cook the okra. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large, heavy skillet set over medium-high heat. When hot, add okra and sauté, stirring, until just lightly browned around the edges, for 4 to 5 minutes.

Add okra and sausage to the gumbo after it has simmered 20 minutes. Cook for 1 minute to heat through. (Gumbo can be prepared to this point 1 day ahead; cool, cover and refrigerate. Reheat over medium heat to proceed with this recipe.)

When ready to serve, add shrimp to the gumbo and cook until the shrimp curl and turn pink, for about 3 minutes. Do not overcook or shrimp will be tough. Taste gumbo and season with salt and pepper, as needed. If soup is too thick, thin it with extra stock to desired consistency.

To serve, place about 2/3 cup rice in 6 shallow soup bowls and ladle gumbo over rice.

This is one of our favorite meals.  When we have company we double it and there is plenty.  We served this to 7 adults and 3 children last Sunday and had left overs.  It is easy to make and doesn't take much time.  

The is a 5 out of 5 star recipe.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Simplicity 3956

Sometimes I spend hours sewing a piece of clothing only to find that I don't like it very much and never end up wearing it.  This was not the case with Simplicity 3956.

I chose view C which is modeled on the left.  This is intended to have a contrasting underskirt and tie.  But when I got the fabric home, it just didn't work with the fabric I chose for the overskirt. You can see that it is a waffle print and the color didn't blend.  That's what happens when you go to the fabric store without your matching swatch.

Luckily, I had plenty of fabric that I had originally chosen for another project.  I change my mind frequently when I sew. 

Speaking of changing my mind, after I chose the trim, I decided I didn't like it, so back to a different fabric store I went.  You should have seen me sitting on the floor for 20 minutes with several selections of trim in front of me.  I finally chose the lace on the right, which I thought looked more "hippyish" and went better with the somewhat 70s look of the fabric and pattern.  

The pattern was easy to put together even with a lining.  The overskirt was intended to be cut on the bias which I originally did not do, but found that cutting on the bias did make it a little more flouncy.

I loved the result.  The breeze is picking up the skirt so it is hard to see how flouncy it is.

Look at these cool sleeves.  

I made one mistake.  The waist did not come together in the back at the zipper evenly .

Since I didn't use a contrasting fabric for the waist tie, you can't really tell.

I had to unpick and pull the bodice down into the waistband in order to avoid gaping in the front.  Other than that, I didn't do sizing modifications.  Although if I make this again, I'm going to cut a smaller size and I won't sew the band to the waist.  I'll just make a separate tie.  

The best part of this shirt? I got compliments on it all day.  And the fabric was smooth and soft next to my skin.  And I loved the  sleeves.  They were flowy.  Flowy isn't even a word but it describes the sleeves well.  After wearing long, tight, sweater sleeves all winter, this was a joy.

I give this pattern 5 out of 5 stars for its simplicity, darling style, and the fact I got complements! 

The sleeve from the back! Fabulous!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Sandi's Antiques for Vintage Patterns in St. George, UT

I had such a wonderful time with my husband in St. George this weekend.  We ate great food (which I will blog about later),enjoyed the fantastic weather, and I got to go to the vintage/consignment/antique/specialty stores.  My husband, on the other hand had to present at a boring conference.  I got the better end of the deal.

I looked for vintage patterns all day and came across only one until just before closing I tried one more store, Sandi's Antiques.  There I found a large stash of late 1960's to early 1970's patterns.  Wahoo.

One amazing find was this 1946 pajama pattern.  The pieces are not printed, and the instructions do not call for elastic in the waistband, but buttons! Look at the drawing on the right.  Do you tuck in your pajamas?

I bought these patterns and more having no plans to make them in the near future.  I am a very slow and picky (and unpicky as I unpick half of what I sew), and it is going to take me a while to get to all the patterns I bought.  In the meantime, these cute retro dresses are up next.  That is, after I finish a shirt I've been working on.

Thank you Sandi of Sandi's Antiques.  And by the way, I didn't buy out the store.  I left dozens of smaller sizes and children's patterns as well.  So if you are in St. George....