Saturday, February 27, 2010

Weekend sewing inspiration

Gosh I love those vertical lines and the cinched-in waist. Someone needs to make this!

The second version is my favorite.

Simplicity 2444 from 1948
Such an adorable vintage play suit.

I especially love the flouncy skirt overlay at the upper left.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Second quilt in progress

I took advantage of having a weekend at home to work a bit more on my second quilt. This one will be for myself, and should be queen-sized, if all goes as planned. I previously discussed my inspiration, and this weekend I decided that I'd like to try some free-motion quilting on this--most likely a large pebble pattern, or something to that effect.

For the textile lovers

I picked up a couple Kuba raffia textiles last weekend at an African market. These textiles are from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and are only 5-6 years old. I have admired the striking designs used to weave these textiles for a few years now, so I'm pleased to be able to admire them from close-up, as much as I want. I chose two that had some really intricate designs and a lovely asymmetry. I'm sure they'll be even more striking when I find a place to display them (i.e. not on my carpeted floor!)

One of the things I particularly love about Kuba weaving is the pile weaving, which I hope you can see here in this detail shot. The contrast between the colors, and the flat and pile woven sections is just great!

If you want to see more impressive Kuba textiles, try here, or here. Enjoy!

Oh my my

This just came out of the oven:

And I promptly ate three slices. It's my variation on the soft cheese bread from Peter Reinhart's Artisan Breads Every Day. I added sauteed swiss chard and green garlic. It has a lovely soft texture and a very decadent flavor. So good!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The latest food

I'm still going strong with my farm share veggies--I think it's been about 4 months of eating local organic produce! Most weeks are fantastic, and it ends up feeling very much like Iron Chef in my kitchen. I think I've been making a lot of old favorites that I've already posted about, but here are a couple new ones:

Palak Paneer with Parathas from the local Indian market.
Based loosely on this recipe, plus improvisation based on what I learned from an Indian cooking class years ago.

Improvised wheat berry pudding. Kind of like rice pudding, but much chewier. I added ground almonds from Trader Joe's. I've been adding ground almonds to my oatmeal in the morning too--it's a really nice extra bit of flavor!

This week's CSA bounty includes green garlic, rutabaga, swiss chard, carrots, scallions, and cilantro. I'm most curious about the green garlic because I've never had it before--I'm thinking about using some of it for bread with sharp cheddar and swiss chard. Any other recipe suggestions are welcome!

Valentine's sewing

This year, I surprised my Valentine by sewing him a new pair of pajama pants. His favorite pair got ripped and were hanging out at my place waiting to be repaired--so I was able to determine the best size to cut based on the measurements of the old pants. This is the first time I've sewn a garment for someone other than myself. I took extra care by making machine-wash-friendly French seams, and tried to line up the plaid as best as I could. I used New Look 6321, which I chose for the pockets and the elastic waistband. It is a unisex pattern, so I cut a large--though he wears a men's medium in the real world. Overall, I was pretty happy as I ended up with a comfy, wearable garment. No modeled pictures this time ;)

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The occasional present

I don't normally give presents (and ask that people don't give me presents--or if they insist, that the gifts be as low cost and impact as possible). However, I do make exceptions to my lack of gift giving if the occasion is especially remarkable, or if the present is certain to be needed or wanted by its recipient. I may sound like a total scrooge, but in general I find gift giving to get out of hand too easily, and I'm trying my best to live a happy but minimalist lifestyle.

Now 2010 will have a very remarkable day--my first niece or nephew will be welcomed into the family. I wanted to give the parents something handmade that also had some significance. In talking to my other sibling, I suddenly got the idea of making a baby onesie with the logo of our old summer camp. My parents ran the camp for 25 years, us three kids spent our whole childhood as campers, and worked as counselors as teenagers. So this little onesie was deemed 'my best idea ever' by my sister, and my brother really got a kick out of receiving it.

To make the stenciled design, I photographed the original from an adult-sized t-shirt. The logo was scaled down to size in photoshop and printed. I then made a freezer paper stencil of the navy areas, and ended up hand painting the while areas since the design got to be so small and detailed at baby-scale. Overall, I'm so pleased with the result and I can't wait for the summer to meet the newest MacWillies camper.

New favorite cookbook

For Christmas, my Mom got me a copy of Peter Reinhart's new book Artisan Breads Every Day. It's like a perfect meld of his award winning The Bread Baker's Apprentice, mixed with the newly popular Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. This book teaches you to make all kinds of beautiful gourmet breads with minimal effort. What can be better?

I made the cinnamon rolls from The Bread Baker's Apprentice several years ago, and they were amazing--just like the one's from Ann Sather in Chicago. So naturally, I had to see how the easy version of this recipe would go. And let me tell you, they turned out beautifully and couldn't have been easier. If you're looking for a good book to start bread baking, I highly recommend Artisan Breads Every Day!

Sorry folks, these beauties are long gone.

Keeping busy

Hi there, and thanks for sticking around during my hiatus! The last couple of months were busy with out-of-town trips, holidays, and work. What downtime I had was taken up by utter relaxation. As always, I'm still working on some creative projects, and promise to share them when the time comes. In the mean time, I just started my second session of my farm share and as a result I've been very busy in the kitchen. Here are some of the successes:

Gingery stir fried tatsoi with brown rice and fried egg.

Papadi Chaat.
Best Indian snack food ever. Most of the ingredients were purchased, but I did make the cilantro chutney. This video is a good place to get started.

Homemade pizza with sauteed kale and garlic. Kinda like this.

Spaghetti squash with tomato sauce.