Thursday, October 30, 2008

Bento Lunches

I've been considering starting to make some Bento lunches - but I have no idea where to start. I know I DON'T want them to end up loooking cute (Japanese cartoons seem to be popular)- but I do like the more "grown up" versions where there are aesthetically pleasing color/shape combinations.

I know a couple people who read this do the Bento thing - so - where do I start on this path of non-cute bentoing?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

I need your help! Meatballs

A friend from college is getting married on Saturday and is doing a pot-luck style reception. (Which I love the idea of - so if I ever turn out to be the not-so-single domestic get your favorite recipes ready!) Anyway. Problem. Aside from the time when I was about 12 and spent HOURS preparing a meal from Kirsten's cookbook complete with sweedish meatballs - I've never made meatballs. (And I'm not making those due to the whole hours in the kitchen thing.)

I'm thinking I'm going to go with the frozen meatballs and just make my own sauce and dump it all in the crock pot because I don't have time to actually make meatballs this week and the wedding is an hour and a half away from me.

So - I need meatball sauce recipes! I've heard there is something as simple as BBQ sauce and grape jelly - but, really? Is that any good? Is it "normal" good or "I'm at a wedding the food should be special" good?

Everything I Know About Pillowing In One Pillow

I had enough curtain fabric left over to make a pillow sham. (And I think I'm going to make some kind of circle pillow or neck roll too - - but I need to get some pillow stuffing first.)

I'm going to show you what I know about pillow making (which isn't much)

I called on everything I've learned in the past few weeks of pillow making and put it all together. The pillow shams I bought for my master bedroom had batting in the front - so I thought that sounded like a good idea - and then I thought having a lining behind the batting would be a good idea as well.

So here is front fabric (face down), batting, and a layer of simple tan fabric that you won't see on the finished product.

I noticed on my other sham that they "quilted" a line about an inch from the edge of the sham - so I decided to do that as well.

After that it was time to put on the backing. For an envelope back you want a piece of fabric that is about 1 1/3 times the length of your front fabric - and then cut that in half. Place each pieces so that it is even with one side of the pillow and they overlap in the middle. Hem the "overlap" edge on each piece.

Now it's time to add the piping and pin it all together!\
Make sure the right sides are together (so the design on the front and the smooth edges of the hems for the backing) - then work around the edges and pin in the piping so that the rope part is facing the center of the fabric and the excess fabric is coming out towards you. Like so:

At corners - snip the fabric part of the piping so that it turns easier.

My least favorite part is joining together two ends of piping. I suggest you avoid doing this on a corner at all costs. But this is what I do. I pull out some of the rope and snip it off and then rip out the seam in that part of the fabric so that it's open.

Then I lay the other end of the piping inside the new "open" piping and wrap the fabric around. I make sure when I pin all the fabric in place I pin right where the two join together.

When it's all pinned it will look something like this. Notice that you cannot see the piping from the outside - but it's under there!

Sew. Carefully. I put the piping under the left edge of the foot of the sewing machine so that I can keep it lined up - you have to sew very close to the actual rope for this to work. Go slow - especially on corners.

So it's all sewn together and it looks like this (Yes, I skipped the "iron the lining" step as you won't see it anyway and I hate ironing.Besides - the nice creases helped ;-)) It was washed (IMPORTANT!) - it had just been refolded for a while.

Then you flip it inside out and it looks like this

Then you stuff a pillow in it, realize you made it too big, stuff another pillow in it, realize you were suppose to do the "quilt" edge through the backing too to keep the pillow in place -it's not too big, and decide you'll do that later because you just want to put it on the bed for now.

Maybe I'll sleep in the guest room tonight...that looks comfy....

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Why didn't I ever think of that!

I was watching some show on Food network the other day and the chef was making a cake with icing similar in consistency to the one I use on my chocolate layer cake. (The icing that creates a MESS because it's liquidy at first and it runs down the side and puddles at the bottom and gets chocolate all over the serving tray.)

However, the chef on the TV was NOT making a royal mess like I do. How did he avoid this? Why - he put the cake on top of a cooling rack to frost it! What a novel idea. All the extra icing falls down through the holes of the cooling rack and then you just move the cake to a pretty clean serving tray when you're done. Ingenious, I tell you! (And if you've been doing this for years feel free to gloat in your comments. I'm a little slow sometimes.)

Now to figure out how to get my cakes to not be lopsided. . . though asymetrical cakes ARE in style these days. . .

Thursday, October 9, 2008


This is the "because it is my blog and I can post random pictures if I want to" post. They're all tangently related to the theme of my blog . . . at least in my mind!

First - a little figurine that I picked up at an estate sale a couple of months ago. She now resides atop my dresser. (The book that you can't see the title of is a 1908 English textbook. So cool!) Oh, and the candle is "Wicks 'n' more" kiwi scent. I love that candle! You get the scent without ever burning the thing. I'd like to order a couple more so that the scent will fill the entire room. I have one on my nightstand as well.

I also got a chair for my bedroom a few months ago. Here is Wilbur snoozing in his new favorite place. I need a side table, lamp, and to get my family tree framed for the wall above the chair - but that's going to have to wait a bit as those things are pricey! I do have all the stuff to start framing the old family photos - so hopefully those will be done soon and I can show ya'll those.

And here is Mishka on the small dresser. The frame behind her was originally the one for the family tree - - but the family tree grew to a larger size. So, that frame is propped up on the wall right now while it waits for an alternate assignment. You can't really see it well right now - but I'm collecting white and gold plates from thrift stores - there's two on the dresser there - and I have a few more to use as well. My plan at the moment is to hang the empty frame on the wall and then put some plates inside of that. We'll see!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Skipping "Baby"

Today I had to run into Toys R Us for a minute to look for something. I walked past the clothing section and saw an adorable onesy that had a cute turkey on it and the words "I'm stuffed." I smiled and thought, "I'll get something like that for my kid one day." Then remembered, "No, you probably won't." I know that just the nature of international adoption tends to decrease the likelihood of adopting an infant - and being a single person decreases it even more. Beyond that - I am convinced that the best thing for both me and the child would be for me to adopt an older child - but sometimes I just hate that I'm going to miss infancy. Sure, there will be plenty of cute clothes for older children. And, it's still entirely possible that I'll end up married and having biological children. Most adoption books talk about making sure you've mourned infertility before you proceed with adoption if that's the case for you - - that's not my issue - but on some level I'm realizing that as much as I want to adopt I still have things I need to make sure I "mourn" first. I feel a little silly saying that since it IS possible for me to still parent an infant one day - but, whatever, try convincing your emotions of rational things. ;-)

On another note I was listening to a podcast on adoption today and they mentioned the idea of having the birth mother or the caregiver in the orphanage/foster home make a hand print or fingerprint for your child. This way there is a very personal and unique connection for the child to have to their past and roots and who they are. I really love that idea so hopefully I'll remember it years down the road when I'm finally meeting my child. I was already composing some little poem in my mind about it and imagining it all framed up nicely.

Pillow Talk

I had this old skirt that I loved but the zipper broke. The fabric just happened to match my living room - - so I turned it into pillows. :)
Pillows are so easy and they make me feel like I've actually accomplished something amazing. ha.
My skirt gave me enough fabric for the fronts of four pillows and I backed it with some brown fabric that I had and then stuffed it with the poly-fill stuff you can buy at craft stores.
My mother has asked me to make a few pillows for her - but she's using the pillow forms which means I'm going to actually have to measure and make sure things stay the right size. And, rather than doing my poly-fill with just a seam opening - I'm going to have to figure out how to make the back of the pillow do the little flap thing so that you can take the cover on and off to wash. And, mother wants piping around the edges. So, it should be fun actually having to make a pillow that requires some level of talent. We'll see how it goes! ;)
I still have my curtain project to do for my guest room and some curtains for my mother's kitchen. I'm hoping to find some Christmas fabric on sale and make some re-usable cloth gift bags to sell in an etsy shop or something.

Robert Redford

When my grandmother made this dessert we called it "Chocolate Delight" - but when my sister-in-law arrived in the family she had a different name for it: Robert Redford. I'm not really sure WHY it's called that - but it stuck in our family. I made this dessert for a party the other night. (And we played Scattergories during the party and on the list that had "dessert" as a category our letter was "R" and I scored two points!)

So here is the very simple recipe for Robert Redford.


One stick butter, melted

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup chopped pecans.

Mix these ingredients together and spread in the bottom of a baking dish (9x13). Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Allow to cool completely.

Mix 1 small tub of cool whip and 8 oz of cream cheese together until smooth. Spread on top of cooled crust.

Mix together one box of instant vanilla pudding and one box of instant chocolate pudding prepared according to the "pie filling' directions on the box. Spread on top of the cool whip mixture.

Spread one small tub of Cool Whip on top of that.

Top with a grated Hershey Bar or chopped pecans (or both!)

Chill overnight before serving. It will set and you can cut it like a sheet cake to serve.