Friday, November 30, 2012

A Tiny Preview

Piper's birthday is in a few weeks.  I told myself I wasn't going to make her a birthday dress, but we all know that was never going to happen.  She is currently in love with Disney's Brave and will be having a Brave themed party.  I decided to make her a dress "inspired" by one of Merida's dresses.

This is the dress for my inspiration:

Here's a sneak peak of the dress so far:

I'm pretty excited about the dress, as you can see by my inability to wait until it is finished to show it off.  I've really had to step out of my comfort zone for it.  I am working with fabric I have never worked with before (because I was a little afraid to, for fear the results would be disastrous) and I've installed my very first zipper in 8 years of sewing (which turned out not to be as hard as I thought).  

I'm pushing to get this dressed finished by the weekend because I kind of want to make a dress inspired by this Merida dress as well (the fabric has already been purchased).

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Rain, Rain, Stay So We Can Play

Here's one of the great things about little people.  They make you slow down in life and enjoy the world around you.  Like, for instance how much fun a rainy day can be...

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Library Wednesday

Sadly, this will be our last Library Wednesday until January.  This week's theme was of course, Thanksgiving.

The outfit Piper wore to library this week consisted of the Oliver + S Hopscotch Skirt I made this summer and a t-shirt I appliquéd with a turkey.  I wish I could take credit for the turkey appliqué but I can't, I got the pattern for the turkey here and tweaked it to my liking.  Believe it or not but I struggle with mixing fabrics.  I love to see other people do it and I know what I like and what I don't, I just sometimes lack confidence to think what I have put together works well.  As a result, I think the turkey had about a dozen different feathers in several different combinations until I settled on this one.  I really like making the appliqués, I still need some practice but I'm getting better at it.  I'm thinking over the next year I might be in the market for a new sewing machine, I'm starting to outgrow my current machine.  I think one of the features on my wish list will be a machine that does some fancy appliqué type stitching.

Anyway, here is our adorable model in all her silliness...

Don't fret that I won't have anything to talk about until January.  I have a big girl birthday party to throw in December and of course Christmas.  Maybe we'll get some snow this year, just a little to make the holiday special!

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.  What are you doing?  Whatever it is I hope you have a wonderful, and filling day!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Zachary Shout Out

I spend a good deal of my time here talking about Piper and the activities we do, etc.  I have 2 children and I love them both dearly.  Zachary has done some great things lately and they shouldn't be overlooked.

In October, Zachary and his Dad ran in the Marine Corps Marathon 10K for the third year in a row.

Each year his time has steadily improved.  This year he finished the 6.4 miles in 54 minutes 55 seconds.

Just a week or so ago, report cards came out.  I couldn't be a happier Mom when a report card like this comes home.

This past weekend, Zachary along with about 20 other school mates were selected by their choir director to audition for the All-State Choir.  1200 kids from around the state auditioned.  Zachary said he was very nervous.  Wether he is selected or not, it was an honor just to be allowed to audition.  He has also been selected to audition for the Tri-County Choir in a few weeks.

I have to say, I'm pretty lucky to be Mom to such a great kid!  

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Library Wednesday

Today is Wednesday, so that must mean we went to story time and we did.  This week's theme was Families.  Piper was a lucky girl this week and got to bring her Daddy to the library.  It was like having a living, breathing show and tell.  She wore the music box jumper I made for her over the summer.  Sorry, no good pictures of her wearing it.

As always, after library we went to Starbucks.  Piper enjoyed a cookie!

When we got home, we decided to take a walk and enjoy the last of the colorful leaves on the trees.  We collected a few with the intention of making a craft project with them.  So far, Piper just enjoys looking at all the pretty leaves.  I guess that's good too. :)

On the way back to our house, Piper likes to stop to read the "STOP" sign.  She knows the "p", the "o" and the "snake" letters. :)

Have you gotten out to enjoy the fall leaves yet?  This really is such a beautiful time of year.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Oliver + S Croquet (Sailor) Dress

After 20 years of dedicated service to the U.S. Navy, DH is retiring.  The past few months have been full of anxiety and excitement.  In 14 years together,  we've moved 5 times and have lived on 3 different continents.  We have been apart for every holiday (except Christmas), 5 (I think, at least I stopped counting at 5) anniversaries and any other number of special occasions and events.  Zachary has attended 6 different schools including pre-schools.  All of it has been an adventure that I never would have believed possible.  On Friday, DH will mark his retirement with a luncheon.  He has opted not to do the big formal retirement ceremony, though I think he deserves it.  Big ceremony or small luncheon, either way a new, special dress was in order.

I did have to modify the dress a bit.  The pattern is for a short sleeve dress but with it being November I wanted to add long sleeves.  I did a Croquet Dress / 2+2 Blouse hybrid for the sleeves.  Using the cap of the Croquet Dress I then laid over the 2+2 Blouse sleeve pattern and drafted a hybrid using the length of the 2+2.

The dress is a 2T width and 3T length.  I used Kona cottons in Navy and Snow and embellished the collar, sleeves and skirt with white 1/4" grosgrain ribbon.  I struggled with how much embellishing to do.  I wanted a sailor "inspired" dress but didn't want it to cross the line into costumey.  The collar pieces from the croquet dress really give this little dress the perfect "nautical" feel.

Of course, my favorite part of this dress is the button I used on the back.  I took one of the buttons off of DH's dress white uniform.  

I am so happy with this little dress and how it turned out.  Piper will never remember the brief time that she was a "Navy brat."  Zachary will have to tell her stories about living overseas and moving, and boy does he have some good ones.

With this being Veteran's Day weekend and personally knowing the sacrifices that service members and their families make, make sure you show your appreciation for all they give and do.  If you are looking for ways to say thank you, check out this page from MilitaryAvenue.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Thanksgiving Recipe: Potato Bread Bourbon Sausage Stuffing

We all know the turkey is the star of Thanksgiving.  While I would like to take credit for our famous turkey recipe I can not, I have to give that credit to Alton Brown.  Several years ago, we found his recipe for brined turkey online and have been using it ever since.  We aren't the only ones, according to the Food Network website, it's one of the most downloaded recipes on their website.  If you'd like to give Alton's turkey a try, go here: Good Eats Roast Turkey (you won't be disappointed).

For me the second star of the show, if you don't include dessert, is the stuffing/dressing.  I grew up calling it stuffing so that's what I'm going to call it.  If you grew up in a region that calls it dressing then each time you come to the word stuffing, read dressing.  I only make stuffing at Thanksgiving, so I want it to be memorable and delicious.  Here's my recipe for Thanksgiving Stuffing.

Potato Bread Bourbon Sausage Stuffing


16 cups Potato Bread cubes (the past few years at a local grocer I have found potato bread stuffing cubes made for me, if not cut your bread into 1/2 inch squares and toast in a 300 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, day old bread works best)

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

2 Sausages of your choice (I use a sweet Portuguese sausage called Longaniza)

1 chopped Onion

Kosher Salt

Fresh Sage Leaves

3 Eggs

1/2 Cup Chicken Stock

1/2 Cup Bourbon

Salt & Pepper

1.) Heat oven to 350 degrees

2.) Remove the casings from the sausage.  Heat 1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the sausage meat.  Cook, breaking the meat up into small pieces until browned and cooked through.  Drain on a plate lined with paper towel.

3.) Remove any excess oil from pan.

4.) Heat remaining tablespoon of Olive Oil in skillet over medium high heat.  Add chopped onions, season with salt and pepper and sage.  Cook until soft, about 10 minutes.  VERY CAREFULLY add the 1/2 cup bourbon, simmer for 2 minutes.  Set aside to cool for a few minutes.

5.) In a very large bowl, mix together the potato bread, sausage and onion.  Add the eggs and 1/4 cup of chicken broth.  It's easiest to do this with your hands.  If the mixture seems dry add additional chicken broth.

6.) Coat a 2-quart oven proof baking dish with butter or cooking spray.  Put stuffing mixture into pan and bake for 45 minutes to an hour until the top is brown and crunchy.

Now, I realize that this looks like a pretty simple recipe without a lot of ingredients.  That's because it is.  I don't like too much stuff mucking up the flavors of the sausage and bourbon.  If you wanted to add pecans or cranberries you certainly could.  You might also notice that not once did I mention placing this inside the turkey.  Unless you stuffing reaches a temperature of 165 degrees.  You also have to be careful not to put things that have been cooked into the turkey while they are still warm or bacteria will be thrilled to grow and multiply.  Stuffing a turkey comes with risks.  Food safety is important to me, especially when working with poultry.  I don't want to send my guests home with food borne illness, they'd be thanking me for days I am sure.  So, to eliminate extra possibilities of that happening, I do not stuff my turkey.  There are grumbles from the family each Thanksgiving because I don't do it, but I will listen to those grumbles and know that my family is safe.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Library Wednesday, wait it's Thursday

I did not forget that yesterday was Wednesday, nor did Piper and I forget to go to library followed by our weekly trip to Starbucks.  We went, we read, we colored, we had fun.  Yesterday's library theme was sports.  After spending several weeks, working very hard on Halloween costumes I needed a sewing break and this was the perfect week for it.  Piper wore an adorable pink Adidas track suit and brought her soccer ball with her to library.  I should have taken a picture but I wasn't thinking too clearly yesterday.  Between the time change and Piper's discovery that she can get out of her bed by herself (even though she's been in a big girl bed for months) we had a very long night with very little sleep the previous night.

I am back at the sewing machine and working on a darling dress I can't wait to show you!  Next week marks a very significant moment in our family history and I thought it needed a special dress the mark the occasion.  As soon as it's done, I will talk all about it.

The library theme for next week is families, a very fitting topic for the month of November.  Family is certainly something we should be grateful to have.  I know mine drive me up a wall at times, but I wouldn't change any of that for anything.  I'm sort of stuck on what to make, bring, do for library next week to represent family.  Suggestions?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Franken-Storm Franken-Dress (Oliver + S 2+2 Dress)

Last week while anxiously awaiting Hurricane Sandy DH was helping me to get some laundry finished up in case we lost power.  He was folding some of Piper's clothes and came across the Oliver + S 2+2 blouse I had made for library that week.  He mentioned that he liked it and thought the shape would make a nice dress.  DH isn't one to have an opinion on my sewing.  So, I jumped at the chance to pick his brain a bit.  I got his ideas and ran with it.  We didn't really have much else to do except wait and see if the power was going to go out or not, why not sew something.  My sewing room is in the basement, it was a welcome distraction to be down there and not able to hear all the wind.

This is the end result:

I have to agree with DH, the shape made for a nice dress.  I used a pink paisley cord I think I got at Wal-Mart on the remnant table, so the dress cost me less than $5.

To add length to the dress (this is where the "Franken" part comes in) I used the O+S Family Reunion dress as a template. I matched up the arm holes of the 2+2 and the Family Reunion and bing-bang-boom, 2+2 dress.  At first I also used the hem facing of the Family Reunion dress to finish the bottom but I didn't like the way it was hanging so I took it off and finished with a narrow hem.

I can't wait to see it on Piper.  I'm sure she will look darling.  I have it ready for her to wear to go to the polls to vote today!  Speaking of voting.  Please, don't forget to go vote (my USA readers).  Voting is a privilege we are lucky to have.  Make your voice heard today!

After this post was originally posted, we went to vote:

And then Piper got a little action out of her dress:

See, I told you she'd be adorable in it.  I really do like the fit of the dress.  Piper loves dresses but she's ruff and tumble so she needs a dress that moves.  This type of fit with some movement is perfect for her.  I see a few more of these in our future!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Post Halloween Post

We are starting to come down off of the sugar high in our house, so I can finally sit down for a minute or two and write something down.

I love Halloween almost as much as I love Christmas.  Despite moving around the world every few years, we have tried to keep our holiday traditions.  We like to add to those traditions if the area we are in allows a new or fun way to celebrate things.  For example, several years ago we found a local pumpkin patch that we have been going to every year now.

This was the first year we went to the pumpkin patch:

This year at the pumpkin patch:

Another tradition that started years ago while living in northern Japan was that I made Zachary's (and now Piper's too) costumes.  It's a lot of work, I will admit it, but it's so worth it.  I dislike store bought costumes very much.  For the same expense I can buy some fabric and put a little love into what the kiddos wear on Halloween night.  I did talk about Piper's costume already so why not just show of some really cute photo's from Halloween night!

I also made Zachary's costume.  The pants are Oliver + S Field Trip Cargo Pants with out the cargo pocket.  I made him a size 8 that I lengthened.  We wanted a slimmer fit so they were more like riding pants.  I used a black twill that was nice to work with and very soft.  All of the seams were done as french seams and top stitched twice.  Sadly, because they are black, they just don't photograph well to show the detail.  I am working on a pair for Piper in a pink organic cotton twill, hopefully they will photograph better.  I self drafted his vest.  It's the first time I have tackled such a thing.  A vest was easy enough and I had one to look at as a model.  I only had one little snafu that came when I need to turn the vest right side out.  I had some how created a mobius strip, that turned into a comedic act as DH watched me struggle with trying to turn the vest.  Finally he stepped in and showed me which seam to pull out to make it work.  Zachary's shirt is on loan from a friend.  

We had a wonderful Halloween.  Piper really appreciated the entire month of October and was so excited about all of it.  She makes me excited for Christmas this year!  Next up, Thanksgiving.  Maybe I will share some of the Sims family secret recipes this year. :)