Friday, July 30, 2010

learn a new art

Tie-Dye Shibori Vessel
Did you know that, in addition to a staggering array of quality art supplies, Dick Blick also offers free art lessons? Geared toward school agers, these lessons turn otherwise intimidating processes, like silk screening, Secco or Shibori, into something a little less daunting - something even your kids could do - with the aid of printable pdf's and video tutorials. Plus, I know that when I browse through Blick's products, there are so many that intrigue, but I wouldn't know how to start using them. Each project links to the supplies needed where - imagine this - they can easily be purchased from Dick Blick! (This is not a paid endorsement.)

Try it. Who knows - your inner fresco-ist may have been waiting for an opportunity just such as this. Oh, and I guess you could also share these ideas with your children. If you're so inclined.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

90 minute shirt trial run

So here is my first attempt at making made's 90 minute shirt. I used a super soft, butter yellow shirt of mine for the main body and a faded chambray tee for the trim and pants (which I just serged at the cuff but will definitely be going back to hem - it will just look better, plus they're a bit long, too). Since I used a ladies' medium tee, I didn't have enough fabric for sleeves. Hence the muscle tee. I bound the arm holes using a method similar to this one from another tute. This first run turned out a little big, so I'll scale it down a bit next time. 

This set was created as a wearable muslin, but after all that work I decided to embellish the shirt a bit anyway with a patch of my precious Kokka that I've been hoarding to use in a quilt for Ash one of these days. I made the patch by fusing some sewable Wonder-Under to the back of the fabric, cutting the patch shape out, then serging the edges. (I could have skipped the last step. I was feeling experimental.) Patch made, I removed the paper backing, eyeballed the placement, ironed it on and top stitched it down.  

Drafting my own tee shirt pattern was confidence building and really pretty easy. Plus I have a HUGE stack of discarded tees to work with, so this is perfect. Thanks, Dana! 

Thursday, July 8, 2010

jam and bread

My kids eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch almost every day. I had a pediatrician tell me several years back that daily PB&Js are just fine. At the time, I wasn't necessarily looking for affirmation, and I'm usually one to question any outside guidance regarding my kids, but considering how much easier this particular indulgence makes my life, I accepted the advice blindly and haven't looked back. So, that's how we've rolled for a while now but I have tried to keep our PB&Js a bit more on the healthy side, even more so lately with homemade bread and jam.

Enter Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day. If you have any interest whatsoever in trying bread making, but are intimidated by the process, I highly suggest that you check it out. The basic idea is that you mix up the bread (no kneading!), let it rise, then stick it in the fridge until baking day. When it's time to bake, take a hunk off the dough, shape it into a loaf, let it rest, bake it. Hands on time is literally about 5 minutes for the mixing and 5 more on baking day. Depending on the recipe you choose, you'll get 2 to 4 loaves out of every batch. The recipe I use for sandwiches is the Soft Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread, but I also like the whole wheat bread made with olive oil, both for loaves and for pizza dough. Seriously, folks, this is bread making at its simplest.

Then there's the jam. I have planned for years to learn canning so that I can line my pantry shelves with jars of homemade soup, homegrown (or at least locally grown) veggies and my own jams and jellies that actually taste like the fruit for which they are named. (The grandmothers were pro canners and food preservers.) This will be the summer. I am committing. 

My first attempt: Ponchatoula Strawberry freezer jam made from berries that we picked at a local organic farm. Freezer jam is the gateway to true canning and preserving. So easy, so delicious, so addictive. And so fun when you can pick the berries yourself! 

Here's the basic recipe, adapted from the one on the back of the Ball Freezer Jam Pectin box:

1 packet freezer jam pectin
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 cups crushed strawberries (I skipped the crushing and used my food processor)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
clean jars & lids

Mix the sugar and pectin thoroughly in a large bowl. Add your crushed or otherwise processed strawberries and lemon juice to the pectin mixture and stir for about 3 minutes. Pour the strawberry mixture into clean jars, leaving about 1/2 inch head space, and close the lids. Let the jars stand for 30 minutes or so until the jam thickens, then stick one in the fridge and the rest in the freezer. 

I love that this recipe only calls for 1 1/2 cups sugar. Most jam recipes that I found called for 3 cups per pint of strawberries!Yikes. And this stuff tastes so fresh and summery. You must try it. My favorite way to indulge: a slice of homemade bread spread with cream cheese and topped with strawberry jam. Like cheesecake for breakfast.

As far as the peanut butter goes, I just buy a ready made organic variety. I guess I should look into making my own...maybe next summer. So there you go - healthy peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Really pretty easy and soooo good.

On a separate note, I have been crafting some over the past few months, little bits here and there. Getting around to blogging about my projects hasn't happened though, obviously. Living before blogging, right? I'll try to get a few things posted soon.

For now, I'll leave you with a gratuitous baby picture.
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