Saturday, January 29, 2011

Friday night craft. And Wednesday snow.

What do you get when you combine me, a hot glue gun, a grapevine wreath, 50+ fake flowers, an idea I've had since last year, and an hour and a half?  This:
Mostly rose wreath 1/28/11

You may have heard, NJ got more snow. We were dismissed at 3pm on Wednesday and the university was closed on Thursday.  Here's my favorite picture I took of the snow on the trees:
one of my favorites 1/27/11


My back yard; it's around 30F.  You can see the fresh accumulation on my air conditioning unit.  My neighbor thinks it was 14 inches. said "n/a".
my air conditioner unit is on the right 1/27/11

Snow covered evergreen in my back yard:
back yard tree 1/27/11

View from my front door:
the view from my front door 1/27/11

It's so pretty, but there's no where for the snow to go. The snow is piled so high, I can't see looking left or right driving out of side streets. Crazy.

Ok, have fun! Here's a big kiss for the day:
being silly

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Vogue 8534 view C: done in navy!

Ok, earlier this evening I saw and heard thundersnow. What is going on???

Two weekends ago I finished Vogue 8534 view C. This shirt (pattern, thread, and a very soft ponte roma double knit) was funded by a Joann's Christmas gift card from my friend and coworker Joe. Thanks Joe!

Vogue 8534 view C done

It has dolman style sleeves: (the top part of the front of the shirt and the sleeves are all one piece)
Vogue 8534 view C done

The bow and sleeve are all one pattern piece. The pattern calls to leave the neck and bow edges raw, but to stitch 5/8 from the edge of the fabric. I wasn't having that.

When I cut out the sleeve/neck/bow piece, I also cut out an additional piece to make the "lining" for the neck/bow:
Vogue 8534 view C in progress

Then I sewed the edges of the neck/bow, turned it inside out, then stitched (I could have basted, but I sewed it down) the lining shoulder to the real shoulder.
Vogue 8534 view C in progress

The front neck edge and bow are very nice. This also makes a "full" looking bow compared to bows that were not lined, as I saw looking at other people's versions of this shirt on SPR.

The back neck seam I turned under and sewed down.

The loop for the bow is also supposed to be left with raw edges.
Instead, I cut a square, 4.25 x 4.25.
Vogue 8534 view C in progress

I folded in half and sewed it together down one edge, turned inside out, "moved" the seam to the center of the loop, then sewed along each long edge. Here's what the "back" of the loop looks like, with the seam (sort of) down the center.
Vogue 8534 view C in progress
and here's the front of the loop:
Vogue 8534 view C in progress

Then it gets sewn to the front of the shirt.  Here you can see that nice curved edge of the lower part of the shirt front.
Vogue 8534 view C in progress

The "bow" is made by putting the "ties" through the loop
Vogue 8534 view C done

After the sort of disastrous size 12 incident, I cut a 16 this time. I probably should have done the 14. I wound up taking a tip from MushyWear and sewing the center back seam in a whopping 1.25 seam, as well as sewing the side seams in closer, for a better fit. Also I cut the A length even though this is the C shirt. I was able to get the shirt out of 2 yards of fabric which is less than the pattern calls for with the 16, and that was even with the lining pieces for the bow/neck.

I cut out the sleeves as long as I could then made a minimal hem. The sleeve and shirt hems are stitched with a stretch twin needle.
Vogue 8534 view C done

Vogue 8534 view C done

Here's the fit on the size 12 that I'm not happy about; it feels too small around the chest. It also has shorter sleeves.
Vogue 8534 view C in gray size 12

Overall, I love the navy version of this shirt and wore it to work on the only day this week when the temp finally eeked into the high 30F range. One of my coworkers immediately said "you made that didn't you" which I never quite know how to interpret...does it look home sewn?  Well, either way, I really liked wearing it.  I think it has a navy sailor vibe to it, and believe me, if I had my sailor hat from Disney World I would have worn it for the photo shoot.

Here's a sneak peek at my next project: turquoise flannel and daisies.  I like the middle daisy trim the best but I don't have enough of it for what I want to do...unless I get creative...
next project
Hope you're traveling safe no matter what part of the world you inhabit; snowy or not!

ETA at 9:15pm: Just heard more thundersnow!!!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

My week: repairs, reading, more snow, food, books...

No sewing today, but some repairing!  In December I broke my dining room lamp.  I accidentally hit one of the "arms" of the lamp, and it "popped out."  I thought I could "pop" it back into place but it had actually broken off.    I tried a lot of things, crazy glue included, but nothing worked.  Today I got back in the repair saddle and tried again.  So far, so good.  I've run the washing machine upstairs (which shakes this light fixture) and it held up; the next text will be the dishwasher tmw night (it also shakes the light fixture).
lamp repaired??

I used hot glue to keep the arm in position, though hot glue is not enough to keep it from falling over.  I used silver wire I had in stash from my flower days, wrapped it around all of the arms, so the other arms + wire + hot glue are keeping the arm from popping out. 
lamp repaired??

I don't think it looks too bad.  In the picture above you can see the glue and the wire; but in reality if you're at the table looking at the lamp you just see the wire, and it really doesn't seem so noticable.

I have to go to Home Depot tmw to buy a new toilet handle and lever tmw.  I took apart the old one today; it broke this week.  I totally understand what I need to do.  I'm feeling very confident I can fix it all by myself, which feels very empowering!

We are still getting snow!  It is so unusual for NJ to have so much snow, especially after last year's snowy winter.   There was snow into ice  Monday night into Tuesday morning.  I should have taken a picture of my car; it had snow and then was "enrobed" in ice.  Here I took a picture of a chunk on its side; it's half snow and half ice.  The yellow thing in my hand is my ice scraper.
1/18/11 snow/ice mix (on edge)

Can you see the outline of the ice coating the trees??
1/18/11 ice on trees
Then Wednesday it was in the 40's and the snow started to melt, but there's so much snow, it didn't disappear.
Then it snowed again on Friday morning, 2 or so more inches on top of what remained.  I like the sunlight glistening on the snow.
1/21/11 snow
I drove to work late both days even though the university was operating at normal hours--it just felt safer that way, though there's always a scary moment somewhere along the way on a drive through the snow.
I finished "Are You My Guru:  How Medicine, Meditation, and Madonna Saved My Life" by Wendy Shanker.  If you have a chronic illness, or chronic pain, you MUST read this book.  Highly recommend.

The Guru in You. Are You My Guru?
My friend at work saw the "Are you my guru" book on my desk (it was so good, I was carrying it with me, reading it on my lunch hour, at the doctor's office, etc).  She told me about "The Guru In You" by Cameron Alborzian; she saw him on Ellen.  I've only flipped through it so far, but if you want a former male supermodel to show you how to do some basic yoga moves, you're in luck; it's part of the book:

The Guru In You
The Pain Free book Beth recommended last week was checked out of the library when I went on Thurs, but I'll put it on hold.

My orchids are in full bloom now!  Great job, orchids!
1/18/11 orchids

I used leftover ingredients (and of course all of that leftover rice) to make dinner on Tuesday night.  It looks a lot like Saturday's dinner, right??  But it's different; I put mozzarella cheese chunks in it, and didn't use soy sauce.  See, I even used a different pan (round, not square!)
1/18/11 dinner

I never got to do the navy blue sailor shirt photo shoot; maybe tmw.  Cooking, reading, doing my homework is cutting into my sewing time but it's worth it.  My back is feeling a lot better (this week is its two year anniversary), but I pulled an ab muscle so that's on my radar.

By the way, I'm going to PR weekend Chicago (though I still need to request the time off from work)--hope to see you there!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

corn chowder redux; Vogue 8534 redux sneak peek

Today was the day of the redux.

First up, corn chowder. Last week's was too much liquid, not enough corn. So I combined the "Skinny B*tch" recipe with the recipe from "400 Calorie Fix". 1 cup more corn, 2 cups less veggie broth, what a difference! MUCH better.
corn chower redux 1/16/11

I also finished Vogue 8534 redux, my first garment of 2011! Finally! It's been three weeks since I've sewn. As you may recall, the previous version suffered an accidental cut, and then was too small anyway. The redux version is navy blue and fits me a lot better. I'm not loving the loop for the bow, though. I can easily remake that so it's not as wide.
Vogue 8534 view C redux 1/16/11

I'll write about the shirt sometime this week, and I'll do a photoshoot then too and write a pattern review of it then too.  I wish I had my sailor hat from Disney World.  It would really make the photoshoot.

I want to change my SPR name.  Right now it's kdburkhardt.  I'm thinking of changing it just to my first name, or my first and middle names.  I suppose I could change it to something sewing related, but I don't know...

Beth, I will look into the pain book you recommended, thanks!

Last question: What is a dutch oven? A lot of recipes use one--I'll google image search it now!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Snow, food, books, etc

It's so strange; the last few winters Jersey has been the recipient of quite a lot of snow. I would have loved this when I was in school!
Here's Wednesday's snow. It was 10am delayed opening that day.
1/12/11 snow

How much snow? This much:
1/12/11 snow

1/12/11 snow

So, on Thursday night I made two eggs scrambled and french toast made with wheat bread. Easy and yummy, though the cinnamon sort of plummeted out of the container and onto one of the slices.
2 eggs scrambled and whole wheat french toast

Tonight I made "Chicken Fried Rice" from the "Cook This, Not That!" cookbook.
Chicken Fried Rice from Eat This Not That (I made too much rice)
So I really wasn't thinking about the whole "rice" issue. The recipe called for 2 cups cooked whole grain rice in the ingredients list.

First, I think it's sneaky for cookbooks to put cooked items in the ingredients list. This bit me in the a** a few years ago when a recipe called for cooked pasta in the ingredients...when it was time to throw the pasta in, I did and then ha ha, realized it was supposed to have already been cooked.  Oh, crunchy entree.

So I cooked the rice first, BUT I put 2 cups of uncooked rice into the pot to start--when it was time to put the cooked rice in, I'm thinking, wow, this looks like a LOT of rice and I couldn't fit it all in the pan, but kept on cooking til the end (I think this is analogous to sewing a wavy hem--I realize it's wavy and kept going--it took a few years to get myself to STOP when I realize something's going wrong).   THEN I looked at the box. 2 cups uncooked rice = 10 cups cooked rice. ohhhhh....I had to add more (lower sodium) soy sauce to my dish because that tablespoon got soaked up in all that rice.  But it was good dinner and plenty o' leftovers! 

I saw a bit of "Worst Cooks in America" on Food Network the other weekend. I feel like those cooks. And tonight I could sort of hear Chef Anne screaming in my ear to be more aggressive with my chopping, ha ha.

Here are 9 of the 10 items I have checked out of the Princeton Public Library.
My library books from the Princeton Public Library

I love the library.

I highly recommend "Food Rules". Easy read, common sense guide to eating.  As the author says, it boils (ha ha!) down to "Eat Food.  Mostly Plants.  Not too much."  I think one of my favorite rules is not eating anything your great-grandparents wouldn't recognize (it means it's overly processed).   Also, not eating unless you're hungry enough to eat an entire apple (to eliminate grazing). 

I just started "Are You My Guru? How Medicine, Meditation, and Madonna Saved My Life". Love it so far.

I've read bits and pieces of "Full Catastrophe Living." I like it so much I bought a copy so that I can annotate it. I think this book will play a big role in the elimination/reduction of my back pain.  

"Heat", written by someone who worked for Chef Mario Batali, is an audiobook that I can listen to during my commute. I currently am listening to "Half Empty" by David Rakoff on my commutes (not pictured). I already listened to "Wherever You Go, There You Are" by Jon Kabat-Zinn, but took out the book for good measure.

I actually sewed today for about 45 minutes! I'm hoping to do some more sewing tomorrow and finish the Vogue shirt. But now I have to finish my "homework" for the week (I'm doing the "Pain Free For Life:  The 6 week cure for chronic pain without surgery or drugs" program which has half an hour of homework per day, for 6 weeks.  I'm doing homework 5 nights out of 7.  Today is homework day number 10.)

Like I mentioned before, I'm doing less sewing to concentrate more on my back.  The time I spent cooking and doing homework, I would have spent on sewing.  It's well worth it.

Good night!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Cupcakes for the Upgrade; Are you going to SPR weekend Chicago?

This weekend we upgraded software package we use for tracking grants. There are four parts to my job; testing for the upgrade is one of them (documentation, training, and running the help desk for the software in question are the others).  The first release took 18 months; the second 7; this one took a little over 3 months.

I like to celebrate our releases with my coworkers, as many of them help me test. Here's how we celebrated yesterday:
The "picture" is from's free clipart.   I searched for cupcake, then selected "photo" as the type, and the image above was perfect.  I use a program called Snag-It to do annotated screenshots, and I used it to add the text to the invite.  Very easy.  I use microsoft's photos all the time for the covers of the documentation and for my training slides.  I try to add some humor; the last round I had my "small rodent" series (think squirrels, chipmunks); this time it's tropical islands, beaches, and palm trees.  It's a way for me to use my creative self in my work life.

So anyway, I bought 24 cupcakes from House of Cupcakes.  I wish you could smell them; they smell SO GOOD.
Cupcakes from House of Cupcakes

Cupcakes from House of Cupcakes

I had fun selecting them. Unfortunately, there were 11 left over.  Many are on a diet for new year's resolutions. :(    One of my resolutions is to eat better, but I'm not eliminating a daily treat! 

Hey, SPR weekend is Chicago this year!  Are you going??

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Does the equivalent of Pattern Review exist for cookbook receipes?

I didn't do any sewing this weekend, but I did some sewing related things...
...cut out vogue 8534 in navy fabric (the bow shirt), this time in size 16. I can always take it in...
Vogue 8534 in progress, in navy
I think the navy color will give it that nice sailor vibe.

Bought a longer lipped ruler with Christmas money.   The 18" one got tons of use but is too short. This 24" one should do the trick.   Lipped rulers are great because they "hook on" to your cutting mat and don't move while you cut with your rotary cutter.
24" lipped ruler

I also bought the revised edition of the Singer Photo Guide to Sewing. This one seems much more expanded compared to the version I already own.  The lapped zipper instructions and pix are exactly the same as the edition I own, but it looks like instructions for lots of other things I'm interested in have been added.  Yeah!

I haven't reviewed 2010 goals nor written my 2011 sewing goals, but one goal is to do less sewing so I can devote more time to improving my health to get rid of my back pain. Along those lines, a goal is to cook once a week (to those of you who read this blog and cook tirelessly for your families every day, this idea of cooking once a week is probably giving you a nice laugh!  Cooking for one does last for days though.) I don't know how long I will keep up this part of the resolution, but, we'll see. Here's last week's dish, cheddar potato soup. This is a TNT recipe that I used to make quite a lot a few years ago.  It's from a book I got for college graduation called "Help!  My Apartment Has a Kitchen!"  It's vegetarian.
Potato cheddar soup

This week, I took out a cookbook from the library called "Skinny B*tch" and I thought it was adorable and cute and whatnot. The recipe I tried is corn chowder. Here's the result:
corn chowder, um, yeah
It doesn't look anything like corn chowder to me. While I'm a novice at these things, I think there's a mistake in the recipe. It calls for 4 cups of vegetable broth, and I think it meant 2. (Also funny was the conversion to metric: it listed 4 cups as 960 liters instead of milliliters!)      As it stands, this has way too much liquid.  Tomorrow night I plan on straining it to get the potatoes, corn, and celery out, then throw a little of the liquid on top.  Also, this dish is vegan!  Antoinette, my first vegan dish!  It uses almond milk instead of real milk.

The huge amt of liquid got me wondering--is there a site out there like sewing pattern review, for cookbook recipes?   I would definitely use it if such a thing exists. (I googled and found, but it didn't seem to cover cookbook recipes?  Just recipes members contribute, and then everyone else reviews them?) Also, while many recipes in the book had pix, this one did not.  It's the equivalent of a pattern only having drawings and not a real photo. 

Oh, and it snowed again, but not much accumulation:
snow!  1/8/11

and Elvis turned 76. Did you wish him a happy birthday? Sure you did!  This photo is from 2005, with Ron Short, my favorite Elvis impersonator.  He is so nice!
me with Ron Short, er, Elvis

My great-aunt Iris turned 95 on New Year's Day. Here's me, my Dad, and Iris at her surprise party:
Happy 95th Birthday Iris!

Good night!