Friday, November 30, 2007

S'More Brownies

Anyone hungry this morning? I made these S'More Brownies for the team dinner last night. So good! But they are messy to cut and my daughter complained that I didn't brown the marshmallows enough. Oh well!! Anyhoo... here is the recipe:

1 box brownies, prepared as directed on box (feel free to make them from scratch if you're an overachiever)
1 can chocolate frosting (see above note)
Approx. six graham crackers, coarsely chopped
10 oz bag mini marshmallows

Cool brownies. Spread with frosting. Sprinkle graham cracker pieces on top and press down into icing. Cover with one layer mini marshmallows. Broil for 30-40 seconds, watching carefully. DO NOT STEP AWAY!!

I tried using a wet knife and a knife sprayed with Pam but they still stuck to the knife.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Sewing 101

A former co-worker of mine recently got married and I gave her a sewing machine for a shower gift. I also promised to teach her to sew. Based on some tips I read on Dawn's blog, The Secret Pocket, I suggested my friend's first project should be a nightshirt made from flannel. Easy pattern, McCalls 2476, with some good practice components - straight seams, curved seams, facings, trim application, etc. - and flannel is easy to work with. And as Dawn points out, it's an item that will only be worn in the privacy of your own home so if it doesn't turn out perfect, the creator doesn't have to feel self-conscious that others will see.

It took us three sessions (and three bottles of wine!) but my friend finished. As you can see, it's too big even for a night shirt but she is giving it to her mom. It was a lot of fun for both of us and hopefully, a new sewer was created! Which of course means more demand for fabric and therefore, more fabric suppliers. Keep it growing!!

Purple Malabrigo.... Bliss!

A month or so ago, I was lucky enough to visit a wonderful yarn store in Tampa called Knit and Knibble. If you're in the area, stop in! My friend and I were assisted by a very helpful young man named Dale who had knit himself a wonderful cardigan from self striping sock yarn. I really didn't need any yarn but I spotted a pair of mittens in the store and a lovely selection of scrumptious Malabrigo. I purchased my favorite color and had one mitten knit before I got back home. I knit the second on two or three bus rides to work. I used an Ann Norling pattern which was designed to be knit flat but hooey to that - I knit it on two circs. I had some yarn leftover but wasn't sure if I could eke out a hat so I decided on a headband. No real pattern. I just tried a couple combinations until it looked like what I wanted. My neighbor and I have resumed walking in the mornings and the mittens and headbands have been perfect for the 35 degree temperatures we've had this week. I'm going to try to make her a set for a Christmas gift. (Those lines that appear to be wrinkles around my eyes are an optical illusion most likely caused by brisk walking at 5:30 am. Yeah... that's gotta be it.)

Blanket in a Bag.... Revisited

Tomorrow night is our turn to host the team dinner for the cheerleading squad. I'm sure it's a lot easier (and cheaper!) to feed twelve teenage girls when compared to team dinners for the actual football and basketball teams for which they cheer! We're serving fettucine alfredo, spaghetti with meatballs, salad, garlic parmesan breadsticks and S'more brownies for dessert. I have to admit that I purchased the sauces and breadsticks from GFS (love this supplier - great quality!) so the meal will be very quick to throw together.

Easy Peasy, right? But no.... instead of keeping it simple, the squad started a tradition that the hosting family gives each girl a little "something." Last year, I made key chains. Cute... relatively quick and inexpensive. The girls liked them.

But this year, the "trinkets" have become more elaborate. One family gave each girl a pair of sweat pants embroidered with the team name, logo and each girl's name. Another family had the MOST ADORABLE ceramic bobble head dolls made for each girl (painted in matching uniforms, same hair and eye color as each girl, etc.) Now, I'm a crafty gal... I oughta be able to come up with something, right?

So after pondering awhile, my daughter and I came up with an idea. Remember the baby blanket I made my niece? Remember, too, that I recently purchased the embroidery machine? Well, voila! Personalized fleece blankets that fold into a pillow for the girls.

When I originally heard about these blankets, I think they were called "Magic Blankets". I actually taught a class to make a quilted version of this blanket/pillow at our local rec center years ago. I also heard them called Blanket in a Bag. Well, tonight while I was googling to see if I could find a diagram with folding instructions (that's always the hardest part!), I found out they are also called "Quillows" (quilt + pillow). I like that name! More pictures of the process:

This really is a simple project that is quite cute. I think I will make my other niece and nephew one for Christmas. They are great blankets to keep in the car.

If you want to make one, I used one yard (60" wide) for the blanket and the pocket was cut from contrasting fleece and measures 12" x 20". I prefer straps but my daughter nixed that feature.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Nice Matters

I do have projects to blog about but I haven't taken the time in the evenings to take the pictures, post the pictures, etc. Maybe tonight while I'm watching the Dancing with the Stars finale [Note to Marie: Yeah, we get it. You're almost 50. You've whipped yourself into shape. You're doing a great job for someone of our age (well, she IS actually a bit older than me... ahem). But you need to learn how to accept criticism.]

So I digress.... I recently received a very sweet note from Cathy, who has a blog full of awesome knitting projects and INCREDIBLE photography, telling me she nominated me for a "Nice Matters Award," which is awarded to:

Those bloggers who are nice people; good blog friends and those who inspire good feelings and inspiration.
Also for those who are a positive influence on our blogging world. ”

How cool is that?!!! I haven't felt all that nice or positive over these last few weeks so it was especially sweet that Cathy took the time to make me feel good - no wonder she is also a recipient of this award!!

I am supposed to identify seven other bloggers who should receive this award. Holy Mackerel.... Only seven???? I have met so many nice bloggers it will be hard to narrow it down.

Ok.... here goes....

OH!!! I can't forget my sewing twin (we always end up sewing the same things without planning it!)
(So I can't countl... sue me!)

All of you gals are very special to me for lots of different reasons but the reason I've nominated all of you for this award is because each of you have always been so darn nice to me and I really appreciate it. Especially lately! Cathy, I would nominate you, too, if I could!

BTW, along the same line, Sheri over at Loopy Ewe is encouraging random acts of kindness. (Her example reminds me of the commercial in which the woman at the dry cleaner drive-thru window pays for some shirts for the HOT guy behind her. Ok, not exactly altruistic motives for that one as she also included her phone number, but still....) Spread the NICE!!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving Blessings

My life has been so busy lately with work and family commitments that I haven't had time for any of the fluff stuff - knitting, sewing, reading, blogging. But I realize today that instead of whining about it, I should be thankful that I not only HAVE a job that keeps me so busy but one that I enjoy. And I am blessed with three wonderful kids that I love more than anything in this world. They are truly my inspiration.

Today (and the next four days), I have a houseful. My parents and my brother and his family are visiting us. And as we adjust to musical beds and bumping into each other in the kitchen, I am grateful to have us all together. Much of the food prep has been done but there is still a lot to do. We just finished up a casual breakfast - bagels & cream cheese, homemade orange cranberry scones & blueberry scones, bacon and eggs - and now it's on to creating the feast:

Ambrosia Salad
Stuffing (bread, not cornbread - we're Yankees!)
Mashed Taters
Cranberry Sauce out of the can
Cranberry Orange Chutney
Green Bean casserole
Roasted Root Vegetables in Madeira wine sauce
Corn Souffle
Dinner Rolls
Pumpkin Pie
Apple Caramel Pie
S'more Brownies

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Fictional Books About Sewing

Since time on airplanes has kept me away from sewing recently, I at least was able to read books related to sewing.

Add me to the list of those sewers who enjoyed reading The Collection by Gioia Diliberto. Never good at describing books, I'll defer to Amazon's description:

Following the death of her fiancé and family, fictitious 22-year-old seamstress Isabelle Varlet leaves her provincial town in 1919 and takes a low-level job working for Gabrielle Coco Chanel, joining a gaggle of young women sewing until their fingers bleed to serve Mademoiselle in preparation for the upcoming fall collection. Dresses are depicted in magnificent detail; fellow couturiers Madeleine Vionnet and Jean Patou are vibrant and alive, and Diliberto even incorporates period fashion journalism.

I also recently read another book with a sewing / seamstress angle, Lucia, Lucia by Adriana Trigiani (Loved, loved, loved her Big Stone Gap trilogy.) Per Amazon:

Poignant and feeling, it looks back on the experiences of the beautiful daughter of an Italian-American family in Greenwich Village in the early '50s. Kit Zanetti, a young playwright in present-day New York, accepts an invitation to the apartment of "Aunt Lu," as she is known in their building. Aunt Lu on first glance is an eccentric lady in her 70s who trails around in a fur. Once Kit can be bothered to listen, however, she finds out that Aunt Lu was once the most beautiful girl in Greenwich Village, Lucia Sartori, an intelligent and ambitious seamstress in the custom department at B. Altman's, who's determined not to let the traditions of her loving family lock her into the patterns of the past. When her impending marriage to childhood sweetheart Dante threatens just that, she refuses him, startling her beloved family. Then, fatefully, she meets the dapper John Talbot, who seems the man of her dreams, even draping her in full-length mink, and she ignores the signs that he is trouble and plans marriage. Jilted on her wedding day, Lucia finds out that he is a con man.

I enjoyed both of these books very much.