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I’ve been working away, here and there, on my dress bodice. I decided to go ahead with the sheet fabric. You can see the print a little better here.
The innards are looking a lot slicker than those on my earlier clothing attempts. I hopefully settled the fitting issues I was having with the muslin by taking it apart and cutting out a smaller size since it was about an inch too big all around. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough fabric left from this sheet to do anything about lowering the waist inset but I’m hoping a more supportive bra will do the trick. I think when Kate’s done nursing I’m going to go to a fancy bra shop and get an expert fitting. If it’s not working I can always consider this a muslin 2.0 and go get some actual made for clothing fabric and try again if I’m not too demoralized.
A few things that are really floating my boat:
- We’ve had some really tasty breakfasts lately. On the guilt-ridden side are these amazing cinnamon sour cream pancakes. Mmmm. But for a healthy start I’m in love with the texture of this baked oatmeal.
- My new favourite blog is Dinner: A Love Story. The last post with their seven-year-olds Roald Dahl round up was hilarious and had be getting excited to someday read The BFG to Kate (although if she doesn’t love it as much as I did as a kid I would be pretty bummed out).
- Speaking of Kate and books, we read to her every night and more often if we can and I was surprised to discover that she had definite favourites right from the get-go. I’ve been considering doing a post of her favourite baby literature if anyone is interested.
It has been snowing here for at least two weeks straight so I’ve decided to hunker down and make a whack of Christmas gifts and what I can’t make will be delivered to my door by the kind folks at Canada Post. I’m planning a few things for Kate, one of which is almost done, and since I’m pretty sure she doesn’t read this I’ll give a peek soon but for now here are some things I’ve been distracting myself with when I should be sewing / knitting / embroidering / baking / childrearing:
- I’ve always been dismayed by my lack of snowflake making ability. Mine always look like some weird Aztec symbol. So this video on how to properly fold a paper square and these templates opened a whole new world of paper cutting fun for me.
- I printed this latke recipe over two years ago and finally made them this week and they’re super delicious.
- This series on modifying a sweater have me itching to go to Value Village. Maybe in the new year.
- I have eggnog bars setting in the fridge from a back issue of Living and I think they’re going to be phenomenal.
- I’ve been really lazy with meal planning these last few months which has resulted in me coming home from the grocery store with a carton of milk, a bunch of bananas and no meal ideas but this little meal planner print out inspired me to sit down and spend literally hours with my cookbooks and plan the next two weeks of dinners. I think I even saved some money at Sobeys.
- This handmade nursery totally knocked my socks off. The rug alone made me feel like such a crafty loser.
After a pretty massive food slump I’ve been spending lots of time in the kitchen thanks to a third member of the household requesting a variety of specially prepared dishes. So far soft tofu and sweet potatoes are acceptable but lentils are gag worthy and therefore get sneakily enfolded in sweet potatoes. I figured I might as well feed us while I’m in there and have had some surprising successes.
I feel like I’ve been searching for a truly great macaroni and cheese recipe for years. I’ve tried ones with four ingredients, ones with fancy cheeses and crumb toppings, stovetop ones, ones with synthetic cheez but I they were all bland and didn’t reheat well at all. I’ve finally found the holy grail of mac and cheese, though it doesn’t actually use macaroni.
Here’s the recipe. I just use old cheddar and it’s been great every time. Just looking at this photo makes me sad that it’s all gone.
I also bought a slow cooker despite having some of the worst meals I’ve ever had courtesy of our old one. I broke it in with some lasagna and though I had low expectations I really enjoyed it. I combined a couple of recipes but basically I added some garlic and herbs to a can of crushed tomatoes, then mixed a container of ricotta with some baby spinach, mozzarella and parmesan and Chris layered it all with uncooked lasagna noodles and left it for three and a half hours. It was creamy and delicious.
Also: I’m not a big apple person but Honeycrisps really are as delicious as everyone says they are. I believe I even chose one as a mid-morning (which is often eight a.m. lately) snack over Halloween candy the other day.
It’s possible that the thing I like best about being Canadian is the accessibility of butter tarts. Sometimes, though, you find yourself living in the middle of nowhere with a hankering and no desire to hand fashion individual tart shells. In high school my friend Christine Konarski revolutionized butter tart home baking with this one pan recipe. Please enjoy.
BUTTER TART SQUARES
1/2 c. butter
2 tbsp. icing sugar
1 1/2 c. flour
1 1/2 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. melted butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tbsp. vinegar
1 c. raisins
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream 1/2 cup butter and 2 tablespoons sugar. Blend in flour. Pat into greased 9 x 9 inch pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, beat together brown sugar, eggs, melted butter, vinegar and vanilla. Fold in raisins. Pour over baked crust. Bake 30 to 40 minutes, or until set.
This has been a doozy of a week. Kate, it seems, is a teething prodigy at three months and has been miserable. Chris went back to work Sunday night and Kate decided not to sleep anymore in acknowledgment of his absence. It may seem crazy but I’ve been trying to keep up with the making of things despite the strong urge to crawl up in bed and sleep whenever I get a minute. I strongly believe the former is the actual path to a modicum of sanity. I am rewarded by two obscenely good discoveries.
This is the love of my life. Baking wise, at least. It’s the buttermilk bread from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day and it is the best bread I have ever eaten in my entire life. The crust tastes like a croissant and the middle is chewy and dense. This confirms my strong belief that buttermilk makes everything better.
I also finally used the popsicle molds that Chris bought months ago with my own interpretation of these blackberry pops.
Raspberry Yogurt Pops
Makes 7 pops
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
3 cups fresh or frozen raspberries, thawed (I used frozen)
400 ml (two small containers) or 1 3/4 cups vanilla yogurt
1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup
juice of half a lime
Make the simple syrup by combining the water and sugar in a small pot and bringing to a boil to dissolve the sugar. Cool to room temperature.
Puree the berries in a food processor or blender. Press into a medium bowl through a fine mesh sieve until all the juice is extracted. Discard seeds. Stir in remaining ingredients, including simple syrup and pour into seven popsicle molds. Freeze at least six hours and run under tepid water to loosen popsicles.
May I introduce you to my new special summer lunch:
This has been my mid-day meal of choice for house guests and for a very special Sunday when Kate napped and we we ate it on the front step, followed by a rousing game of ladder ball.
I have also been making batches and batches of my new favourite cookie for a few months now.
It’s the chocolate oatmeal cookie (with raisins!) from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar except that my chocolate chips come from Costco and are not vegan. I don’t recall a dessert I’ve been more obsessed with. They’re soft and chewy and because they have oats and no egg I like to fool myself into thinking they’re not terrible for you.
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- A quick update to the baby review series: back when I posted about making Kate some receiving blankets a helpful reader Melanie directed my attention to the Miracle Blanket. I ignored her advice until Kate’s squirming was really starting to drive me mental, then I broke down and ponied up for one. It finally arrived last week and I’m pleased to say that she’s been sleeping one longer block in her baby straight jacket. She still flops around like a docked fish from three a.m. onward but I’ll take any improvement I can get.
- Also, I really want this sling because it is gorgeous, not because it is necessary.
- Alicia is obsessed with Citronille patterns and now so am I. I need to get Kate into Thadée.
- We are leaving for Kitchener on Friday where I will be celebrating my 30th birthday by splurging on a new sewing machine. I am preparing by cutting out all the fabric and patterns I own so that I can sew like crazy when I get it home. I’m on a jersey dress kick but I am not enjoying cutting out the slinky stuff. The info in this link makes the process a little more bearable.
- Erin got me a subscription to Frankie magazine. Seriously.
I picked up a Cuisinart ice cream maker on sale at Home Outfitters ages ago and attempted a few mid-winter batches with dismal results. It was gathering dust at the back of the cupboard until the arrivals of warm weather, our dear friends Erin and Braden, and David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop coincided. I can’t wait to try almost all of the recipes, even Goat Cheese Ice Cream despite Chris thinking it sounds gross. First, Erin and I whipped up some Vanilla Frozen Yogurt.
I swapped vanilla bean for extract since I had some hanging around. It was refreshing but a bit tangy for my taste. If I were to make it again I would perhaps add more sugar.
The real winner was the Cheesecake Ice Cream. I’m not even a big cheesecake fan but it was so delicious and so simple to make. We polished it off before I snapped a photo. It was that good.
Next I might even venture into tempered egg and custard territory. Excitement! Now I require some cute ice cream dishes.
I’ve been hoarding food like there’s a natural disaster on the horizon. In this case the looming chaos is bringing home baby and I want to be prepared. I think the only cure for living on three hours sleep while caring for a screaming baby and hosting visitors is the possibility of having baked goods on hand.
In an attempt to not use up organic eggs like they’re going out of style I bought Veganomicon and Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar and the first recipe I tried from the latter, these Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, were successful.
They have a different texture than your standard Oatmeal Raisin cookies, wetter and chewier, which I enjoy.
Right now I’ve got some Strawberry Banana Muffins baking and they smell great. I’m planning on making lots of muffins because they make a great breakfast, snack or dessert. If you’ve got some tried and true favourites, vegan or not, lay ’em on me.
Before I started mixing and freezing I did something I’ve dreamed about for months. In perhaps a sad example of how pathetic my life has become it wasn’t a trip to Maui or a spa day but a session of kitchen cupboard cleaning and organizing. I picked up a pack of Ball jars and a dozen mason jars in the city and I finally got rid of all those unmarked bags of bulk goods that all seem to look like cream of tartar.
So deeply satisfying and yet so economical!
I also have to give a shout out to our new favourite meal.
Wilted Kale and Roasted Winter Potato Salad may not look or sound like much but Chris literally cheered when I made it again this week. It tastes just as good reheated or eaten cold.
When we’re in Winnipeg, which is often these days since that’s where the doctor is, we’ve been frequenting Fresh Cafe. They have lots of tasty things on the menu but I can only bring myself to order their version of grilled cheese because it’s so dang good. I have mixed emotions about finding a better version of a much loved food. On the one hand it’s delicious but on the other you can never go back to your old, let’s say Kraft cheese slice and white bread, version again. But when it comes to grilled cheese there’s not that much you can do to make it a chore so I’ll never go back to the sorry excuse I grew up on. It’s so easy to reproduce at home!
For starters you need really good ingredients. I’ve recently been converted to Alicia’s Oatmeal Bread and it’s a big hit around these parts. It makes a great sandwich but it you want a quick fix sourdough is always great or Ace’s Organic White Oval (sadly, Ace products don’t seem to be available in this province). Then, I thinly slice a granny smith apple and place a single layer on my bread. Pear would probably be good too but I haven’t tried it yet. Next comes cheddar. I really think you should use a sharp, aged cheddar. The next and final layer is the most fussy. I had some carmelized onion left over from a pizza. I added a teeny tiny bit of dijon (I’m not a huge mustard fan) and a slight splash of cider vinegar and scooped that on. The restaurant uses a jarred onion preserve of some type so if you can find that instead you’re set. Then I just butter the bread and grill it on each side until it’s golden and the cheese is melted.
I think I might even like this version better than the cafe’s. Their sandwich is delicious but a bit heavy. I feel like I need a mouth shower when I’m done.
I’ve been eating this often with Amy’s ice tea concentrate made with standard Orange Pekoe. Although, I don’t follow her exact process. I usually boil the water first, pour if over the bags and leave it an hour or so instead of overnight. I was just too lazy to look up her actual instructions, not trying to improve her version. I can’t get enough but I try to since too much caffeine is a no-no right now. I’m not quite mature enough for an unsweetened version so I made some simple syrup (one part water, one part sugar, boil to dissolve) and use a little splash of that. I also add lemon slices to the concentrate. I’m planning on making some raspberry syrup soon since I spied a recipe in this month’s Martha Stewart Living and mixing that in. Yum.
It’s been raining constantly here so I’m in the middle of a few small projects. Unfortunately I have nothing to show yet but that’s no reason to hoard links and little updates.
- I’ve never been a huge mayonnaise fan. Again, the tanginess. Blech. But I do enjoy potato salad now and then so I picked up Hellman’s with Olive Oil due to it’s non-scary ingredients list. This stuff is delicious. It’s so creamy I could almost stir it in to my tea. Highly recommended.
- My new favourite show is Hung. O.k., that’s a total lie. While I do enjoy Jane Adams as a pimp my actual new favourite show is Gossip Girl. I started watching it when Chris was on nights and I am now obsessed to the point where I have to limit myself to sharing two to three GG related tidbits a day. Do you know how hard it is to work the fact that Ed Westwick is actually British into a conversation? Not very, apparently. I feel like a fifteen year old fan girl. Except that I tried desperately to convince my sixteen year old sister to watch the show so that I’d have someone to talk to about it and she was having none of it.
- These cinnamon oat pancakes are my new favourite breakfast. I never want to eat a plain pancake again. Waste of my time. They make a ton so I’ve been cooking them all up, freezing them, and heating them up during the week.
- I borrowed a pile of books from the Cannon Public Library, informally known as Erin and Braden’s guest bedroom and I’m plowing my way through them. I first read Cat’s Cradle, which was good, although none of his other books ever bowl me over like Slaughterhouse 5 did when I read it in university. Next, I tried Switch Bitch despite concerns that it would crush all of my childhood memories but I totally loved it. I filled my Amazon Wish List with other Dahl short story books and can’t wait to pick some up. Now, I’m finally reading The Golden Compass after hearing so much about His Dark Materials for so many years. I had already seen the movie so I was a bit bored at first but now I’m enjoying it. Hooray for summer reading! What are you reading?
- Mashed potatoes are one of my ultimate all time favourite foods. I thought I was doing an o.k. job whipping them up without a recipe so I let this one languish for months in my recipe bookmarks. I am totally kicking myself now. A-mazing.
- My dearest Robyn has a new blog. Check it!
- I am way behind on this one but if you’re interested in quilting or are a beginner like me you must check out Oh, Fransson’s quilt-along posts. So very helpful.
- I just found out that Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band have announced that they will play Born to Run in it’s entirety in Chicago in September. I wish there some way to be unemployed for the summer and still get paid so I could go lose my mind with a large assembly of WASPy, middle aged, working class heroes.
- And, because I hate a pictureless post, here’s one of the paper banner I made for Chris a few weeks back: