June 29, 2011

Simple Skirt from a Thrifted Sheet


I live in Portland, where the summer so far has been wet and cold. I had a sweater on a couple of days ago and was still cold. However, the weatherman assures me that it will be sunny and warm for at least the next week. So, after sweltering at the farmer’s market this afternoon in jeans, I decided it was time for some new skirts.


This is the first time I made a skirt without a pattern and it is far from perfect. I learned a lot about what not to do.

The fabric is one of the stack of flat sheets I picked up at a thrift store the other day. I think sheets are probably the cheapest way to buy fabric.

I traced a skirt that I already have and like.


See how this skirt is cut on the bias? And the hem curves up on the sides? Mistakes 1 and 2! Find yourself a skirt that is cut parallel to the grain of the fabric and straighten out the bottom because that curve made hemming the new skirt a serious pain.

I added 2” to each side of the pattern for the seam allowance and because the model skirt might be just a tad tight after all of the summertime margaritas I’ve been consuming. I didn’t need to add length for the hem because the model skirt is a little long for me.


I cut out two pieces from the pattern (front and back), making sure the print was straight.


I made a waistband pattern by tracing the curve of the top of the skirt pattern and then adding 3” to it. The waistband piece should look like a smile.


I cut out 4 waistband pieces, making sure the pattern would line up with the skirt.

Then I sewed the two front waistband pieces together along the top curve, right sides together. I turned them right side out, pressed the seam and top stitched it.



I sewed the waistband to the skirt, lining up the curve. Then I pressed the seam and top stitched. I repeated this for the back of the skirt.



Um, yeah, the print only lined up in the middle of the waistband. I realized the print itself is not totally straight. What the heck?

I turned the skirt right sides together and sewed in the zipper. I kind of winged the whole zipper install but Sew Mama Sew has a great tutorial here. Then I sewed the side seams and hemmed the bottom.


A few final notes if you’re thinking of embarking on skirt making without a pattern:

There a kazillion tutorials. Check them out first.

Don’t use a printed fabric until you’ve tried your pattern out on a solid.

Use a skirt with very simple lines to make your pattern from.

If you try making a skirt, let me know in the comments what you found helpful or learned from the process.

June 27, 2011

Vodka Infused With All Sorts of Good Stuff


I’ve been horrible about posting. I know. I moved. It’s summer. There’s a lot going on. I have been sewing and doing a ton of baking and cooking, I just haven’t been telling you about it. Maybe you’ve enjoyed the break from my blathering?


The other day some friends and I got together and made a dozen quart jars of infused vodka. It’s ridiculously easy, although we all agreed it’s a little anticlimactic since you spend all of this time cutting and mixing and then have to wait a couple weeks for the actual cocktail.

To make infused vodka, simply gather the ingredients.


Cut the ingredients into manageable pieces and stuff them into the jars.




Fill each jar with vodka and screw the lids on. Let them sit for a few days (spicy mixes) or a couple of weeks (everything else).


Some of the flavors we chose were:

pineapple habanero


strawberry basil



cucumber basil

lemon lime

ginger orange


peach mint


June 21, 2011

Gluten Free Black Forest Cupcakes


Tomorrow is my boyfriend’s birthday! Yay! He requested a black forest cake but like any baked goods he gets a hankering for they have to be adapted to a gluten free version.


The frosting looks all wonky because I couldn’t find my decorating tips and had to use a plastic bag with the corner cut off. Don’t judge.

I opted for a dark chocolate cupcake filled with cherry and topped some with cherry mousse and some with whipped cream.


I only had 4 eggs and the recipe requires 5 (Okay, so I know I said before that I detest using a recipe but since I’m putting it out here for you guys I followed the recipe. I’m nice like that). On the way back from the egg run I had to get some of this:


You know, so I wouldn’t be tempted to down a bunch of cupcakes while they’re still hot and have another finger burning incident. Don’t worry that’s fat-free yogurt under all that candy. Ha!


Ok, on to the cupcakes. I tweaked this recipe a bit and they are scrumptious.


1 1/2 cups Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour

1 cup cocoa

1/2 tsp baking soda

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum

3/4 cup butter, room temperature

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 cup white sugar

3 eggs

2 egg yolks

2 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 cups plain yogurt

1 large can cherry pie filling (or homemade if you’re feeling ambitious)

2 cups heavy cream

1 tsp vanilla

2 Tbs sugar, more if you like your whipped cream sweeter


Preheat oven to 350. Line 2 muffin pans with paper liners (24 cupcakes).

In a medium bowl, whisk flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt and xanthan gum. Set aside.

In a large bowl beat butter and sugars with electric mixer until fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add vanilla and yogurt.

Mix dry ingredients into wet in 3 batches. Beat until well combined.

Fill each paper liner 2/3 full with batter. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until cupcakes spring back when touched. Let cupcakes cool on a wire rack.

Drain as much syrup as possible off of cherries. Reserve the syrup.

Use a wooden spoon handle to poke a hole in each cupcake.


Fill each hole with cherries.


Beat the cream, vanilla and sugar until stiff peaks form. For cherry mousse-like frosting, mix the reserved syrup into the whipped cream. Or leave it plain. Or just eat it right out of the bowl with a spoon.

June 20, 2011

Veggie Pizza with Sea Salt and Olive Oil Crust


I make homemade pizza at least once a week, usually a regular version and a gluten free version. Accommodating dietary restrictions can be a pain in the keister but it means I can have whatever toppings I want on my pizza. This means a pile of veggies and just a bit of mozzarella.


I don’t use a recipe for the crust but if you’re looking for one there are good ones here and here. If I’m being totally honest, I never use recipes for anything except for sometimes as a reference when I’m baking. I don’t like using patterns when I sew. I don’t like using lesson plans when I teach. I’m more of a wing it kind of girl. Sometimes this is good and sometimes it’s a dismal failure.


Anyway, what I will say about making pizza is it takes a bit of practice but it’s really pretty easy. I start with about a cup and a half of warm water, stir in a package of yeast and a bit of sugar and let it get all foamy. Then I work in a pinch of salt, a big glug of olive oil and enough flour to make a moist but not sticky dough. I knead it until it’s stretchy and smooth, about 2 minutes and then coat it with olive oil and let it hang out in a warm place for awhile until it remains indented when I poke it, about 15 minutes.


Then I roll it out on a hot pizza stone and top it with whatever veggies I have in the fridge.


Ok, so this is the super secret best part. Once the crust is topped, roll the edges of the crust over and pinch it a little so it stays crimped. Drizzle olive oil over the edge of the crust and then sprinkle with coarse, flaky sea salt.



The oil and salt make the crust extra crispy with little bits of salty crunch. It’s so good. I’ve been know to pull off just the crust and leave the rest.


June 9, 2011

Gone Camping


Man, I was doing so well keeping up with posts and then the craziness known as Outdoor School happened. The funding for Outdoor School has been cut in our district which means the teachers are in charge of making sure it happens. It’s totally worth it, but it means that there isn’t a lot of time for crafting and whatnot. So, I’ll leave you with some of the lovely pictures from this year’s adventure until I have time for a real post.







June 2, 2011

Felt Food: Ravioli, Green Beans and Salad


Now that I started making felt food, I keep thinking of more dishes I want to try to create. Most recently I made felt ravioli with marinara, salad and green beans.




Cold Sesame Noodles


Cold sesame noodles are one of my all-time favorite dishes. They take just minutes to make and you can toss any leftovers you have hanging around  on top for a substantial lunch (or late night, post bar snack).


For this batch of noodles, I sautéed some asparagus and zucchini with ginger, lime and garlic and then tossed in some finely sliced cabbage, carrots, scallions and cilantro. I topped the bowl with toasted sesame seeds and red chili flakes. Sometimes I add grilled shrimp, leftover chicken or little cubes of pan fried tofu for extra protein.


Because they can be served at room temperature and cheaply made in large quantities, cold sesame noodles make the perfect dish to take to a summer BBQ.


1 8oz pkg soba noodles (look in the Asian Foods section)

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar

2 Tbs tamari or soy sauce, not low-sodium

2 tsp toasted sesame oil

1 tsp freshly grated ginger

the juice of one lime

a few drops of Sriracha, or more if you like your food spicy

garlic, one small clove, crushed

veggies or meat

toasted sesame seeds


Cook noodles according to directions on package until barely al dente. Drain well.

Meanwhile mix sugar, vinegar, tamari, sesame oil, ginger, lime juice, Sriracha and garlic until sugar is dissolved.

Stir sauce into warm noodles and place in fridge until chilled through, about 2 hours.

Top noodles with veggies and/or meat and a sprinkle of sesame seeds.