A Healthy Loaf

I’ll admit that I’m a bit of a health nut. I like to eat healthy food whenever I can, especially at home. My general philosophy about food is to eat well at home, so we can eat whatever we want when we go to restaurants. And so Top Chef Andy can make anything he wants when he has the time to cook (think risotto with pancetta, spicy pulled pork… yup, he’s good!).

I had a serious craving for good bread. Well, actually for toast with butter and jam. After searching around online for a while, I pulled out the trusty Betty Crocker cookbook and found just the right recipe: honey whole wheat bread.

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The recipe itself is very healthy, but I decided to take it up a notch by replacing the butter with canola oil and adding 1/2 C of flaxseed.

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Here are a few photos of the dough. It was super easy (and fun!) to work with and rose beautifully.

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Once it’s out of the oven and cooled, it’s hard not to tear off a chunk right away! The flaxseed toasts up really well and the bread has just the right amount of sweetness. It’s perfect for sandwiches and toast, and healthy enough that you can slather on all the butter and raspberry jam you want!

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Do you have a favorite bread recipe? I honestly haven’t tried very many, but this one’s a winner. Hope you have a happy Sunday!

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A Fixer Upper

I want to thank you for all your kind words about my recent sewing and knitting fails. Seriously, it helped me stop fretting and get back to making. Thank you!

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I simply didn’t add large enough seam allowances to create french seams on this Sorbetto blouse. A bummer, for sure. A very kind (and smart) reader suggested that I just take out the pleat to give myself a bit more breathing room. I’m happy to say that I think it worked well!

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I was a bit worried that tearing out the stitches would ruin the fabric, but after a little steamy press, it looked good as new! I then just added a bit of length to the binding for the neck and replaced it. Hemming the sleeves and the bottom of the shirt was a total pain. The fabric is so gorgeous, but super duper slippery and doesn’t iron well. After a bit of frustrated cursing, I got it.

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In the end, I think it’s a very pretty, casual blouse. I really liked the pleat, since it added interest and some polish. Maybe I’ll add a little reverse box pleat at the very top. But I am so happy not to have to start over. I can wear it now! Well, not really since it’s not warm enough, but you know. I’ll definitely wear it on my vacation next week (St Patty’s day, anyone?)! Don’t you think it’ll look great with a polished skirt?

As for my other fail, the knitted sweater, I still haven’t decided what to do… I’m scouring other patterns that may work better with the yarn, while also debating whether or not to just finish the thing. I’m being very dramatic here—it’s really not that big of a deal! Whatever I decide, I’ll let you know!

A Finished Quilt

Is there anything better?

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I finally finished my Nicey Jane quilt! I had so much fun quilting this one, probably the most fun I’ve ever had. It’s great to see myself getting better at it, if only just a bit.

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Here’s the top made from the Crazy 8 quilt pattern. I added a few scraps of my sold fabric to break up all of the beautiful Nicey Jane prints.

In the end. it’s actually a fairly small quilt: 46 by 68 inches. But I think it’s the perfect little quilt for the couch.

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And here’s the back. I added a white strip of fabric to the print to the main print fabric. I really like the modern look of it. I used up the scraps of this print to make the binding.

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My little Bernie proved to be quite the pest when I was hand stitching the binding. He wanted to lie and drool on it. He kept whining to sit on my lap, telling me to put that needle and thread away. Now that it’s finished, he can snuggle up with it all that he wants. Such a spoiled dude: a couch, pillow and a pile of blankets all for his snuggling whims. 🙂

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I’m just so happy to finish this up. Now I’ll add it to my little stack of quilts!

Craftsy Courses & a New Home

I heart Craftsy!

Crafting, like all hobbies I suppose, can become addicting because there’s always so much to learn. That’s why I love it! It’s fun to discover new techniques, try out new projects and see yourself improving.

I received my first Craftsy class a while ago (thanks, mama!) and wanted to share the love. I’m just so impressed with the quality of the courses. I’ve now watched several of their free courses—all of which are super helpful with lots of detail. I also have been watching the Couture Dress and Mittens & Gloves courses—I’ve been learning a lot! If you’re a part of Craftsy, follow my profile!

I also have to say that their app was my lifesaver this week. When I flew back to Chicago from Boston, my flight was delayed from the snow storm. I just sat and watched Quilt Con lectures (for free!), happy as a clam.

Despite the long trip home, it was a success! Yaay! In the end, my mom and I viewed two great units that would have been wonderful homes. We also saw many terrible ones, but I won’t focus on those.

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We signed a lease on a very pretty 2-bedroom apartment (in the yellow house!) with a nice backyard for Bernie to roam and for me to plant veggies. Now my head is happily spinning with ideas for curtains to sew and rug colors. We’ll move sometime in May, so for now I’m going to relax and enjoy the next few weeks before the moving madness!

In-Flight Entertainment

I’m off to Boston today to find an apartment! Wish me luck!

To keep my hands busy, I decided to bring along a little stitching project.

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The cloth and floss were included in my new Cath Kidston embroidery book! So fun.

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Some of you maybe wondering how I travel with the stitching supplies. I actually have a small toenail clipper that I use to cut the floss: and not get detained by security!

This’ll be a quick project that won’t have any fitting issues like my recent fails 🙂

Hope you have a happy weekend!

Double Fail

It just isn’t my week, people. I’ve been busy finishing up two tops for myself—a knitted sweater and a silk top—both of which are just don’t work. Bummer!

The knitted sweater is too big and boxy. I guess I should have casted on for the smaller size…photo (53)

The subtle different in color isn’t nearly as obvious when I’m wearing it as it is in photos for some reason. I *won’t* post photos of me wearing it, because I honestly look like the Tinman. Should I just tear it all out and start over? Should I finish up the last sleeve, block it and then decide? To you super-talented knitters, what would you do?

I also worked on a little mint top that I’ve been dreaming up for a while. I based it Colette’s Sorbetto pattern, and added sleeves from the Peony pattern. I added extra seam allowance to make French seams, and even added an exposed zipper to the back.

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All in all, I’m happy with the sewing and the overall concept of this top. But it’s too small! Ugh. The opposite problem as with the sweater…

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I love the color and the fabric and the design… It just needs to be a bit bigger!

I think I’ll be able to reuse the sleeves and bias binding, and just have to cut out larger front and back pieces. It’ll be pretty once I get it right, I just thought it would be this time!

These crafting fails are always a bummer. I feel like I spend a lot of time planning and measuring. But I guess not enough in these cases!

Has this ever happened to you? How did you salvage the project? I’d love to hear!

Log Cabin Pincushion

I have quite a few projects in the works right now, as you know! I still finishing up a quilt and a sweater, and just cut the fabric for a new sorbetto top the other day. Does this keep me from starting another project? No way.

After seeing this post on Red Pepper Quilts, I  was hooked. I wanted to make a little patchwork pincushion right away. And when inspiration strikes, you just have to go with it. 🙂

Here it is!

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This took only a few hours to make and was so much fun! I love how bold and colorful it is, and in such a little package too.

It’s simply a log cabin quilt block folded in on itself and sewn together. First, I chose a few fabrics from my scrap bin and then fussy-cut the center square. The print has a square pattern, so it was super easy to cut into a perfect square—I just followed the dotted lines!

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Then, I cut the rest of the scraps into 2″ strips and sewed then onto the center square, generally following this tutorial.

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I then squared up the entire blog to make it as straight as possible. It’s certainly not perfect, but close enough. This quilting project is so fun and uses scraps beautifully.

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I ironed on some fusible fleece to the back, just to give the block some more stability and weight. Once I cut off the excess fleece, I sewed the four edges together, leaving an opening in the last side.

photo (46)It kind of looks like a wonton, right?

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Here it is flipped out to the right side.

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And here’s the back. I think it’s super cute on this side too. After stuffing the entire pouch, I sewed up the opening with a blind stitch.

photo (43)I thought I was finished here, but I kept thinking that it needed something more.

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After a few minutes of staring at it, I sorted through my buttons and found the perfect bright blue one. Ta da!

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It’s a great little addition to my sewing table. I haven’t quite decided how I’ll use it—maybe for right near me at the machine or maybe a special spot for my hand stitching needles?

Either way, it was a super quick and fun project! I keep thinking that this technique would make an awesome pillow, you would just have to enlarge the dimensions.

Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

home

My sewing machine is now back in full force after a good cleaning and tune-up. The first order of business was to whip up a pillow cover with the home I embroidered from Anna Maria Horner’s stitching book. So happy with how it turned out!

As I was stitching this, I was also busy looking at possible apartments in Boston (we’ll move out there this summer). Needless to say, I thought a lot about home and what it means. What is home to you? To me, it means:

:: A space to be exactly who you are with the people you love.

:: Surrounding yourself with things that make you smile and reflect your style.

:: Carving out a small area for work and creative pursuits.

:: Relaxing with a cup of tea and too many Law and Order episodes and worn sweatpants.

:: A place for you to add layers of beauty, memories and laughter. #sappy

Leaving Chicago will be hard! We have so many friends here and love them all to pieces. But moving to Boston will be an exciting adventure—and I’m getting so excited to set up our new home there.

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Unlike Anna Maria’s beautiful pillow cover example, I decided not to hand-quilt the top, but I did iron on some fusible fleece to protect the stitching and make the front extra plushy. I cut two pieces for the back to make and envelope cover, using basically the same process (but different measurements) as this tutorial.

After sewing the case, I topstitched twice around the outside, creating a crisp border and adding interest. All in all, I just love how this turned out! I love pairing of this embroidery with the simple, shabby fabric.

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The pillow’s now resting on our bed with an Anna Maria pillow (obsessed much? yes!). It really doesn’t belong here; too much white. But when we get our new dark grey cover for our couch, it’ll be a perfect addition to our pillow collection!

Also, connect with me on instagram! You’ll see some more photos of my creations and many more of Bernie!

Hope you have a great day at home, wherever that may be!

Valentine’s Day Mules Frites

We celebrated Valentine’s day yesterday since I had a class Thursday evening. Making mussels is our little tradition, so we had a full-fledged Belgian feast with (oven baked) fries, mussels in a Leffe beer sauce, bread and beer! We also had brownies for desert, which is not Belgian at all, but were super yummy.

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Here’s Andy scrubbing the mussels. Bernie just wants to know what all the fuss is about…

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Here are the little babies right before we put the lid on. The sauce was super simple—just a few shallots, garlic, rosemary and about a cup of beer.

photo (30)And here’s the meal in all it’s glory. Unfortunately, the mussels ended up being super tiny and thin. We have no idea why (not that we know very much about mussels)—maybe a weird batch?

The good news its that they were still delicious and we feel fine today 🙂 The better news is that the sauce was perfect for dipping the fries and bread.

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What do you like to cook for a celebration? For some reason, we’re all about the seafood.

Hope you have a great weekend!

Roast Chicken Dinner

Happy Valentine’s day! Hope you had a great one! How did you celebrate? Andy and I are actually celebrating tonight, since I was at a class yesterday. We’ll cook and lounge around here—I’ll be sure to post a few photos!

In the meantime, I want to share my absolute favorite way to roast chicken. Like so many, I think yummy chicken is the best weeknight dinner. It’s simple, healthy, inexpensive and ultra-comforting. You can pair it with just about anything and you’ve got a perfect meal.

Roasting a whole bird is my favorite way to cook and eat chicken. Not only does this give you more bang for your buck, I think the meat is juicier and more flavorful than any other way. One chicken equals two, sometimes three, meals for Andy and me! Now that I have a great recipe—and have the hang of it—I love to roast a chicken almost every week.

My Roast Chicken Recipe: 

  • Preheat oven to 425 F.
  • Rinse chicken thoroughly and pat dry with paper towels. Try to dry it off as well as possible—this helps the skin crisp up! 
  • Quarter 1 lemon, smash 3 cloves of garlic, coarsely chop 3 T rosemary (or any other hearty herb you like!) and cut 2 T butter into small cubes.
  • Loosen skin and place a few cubes of butter beneath. Spread remaining butter all over the entire chicken. Season with salt, pepper and 2 T rosemary.
  • Place 1 T rosemary, garlic cloves and lemon wedges inside cavity.
  • Tie legs and thighs together with twine.

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  • Place on a baking sheet, lined with foil, and roast for 70-90 minutes, rotating halfway through.
  • Don’t open the oven door for the first 30 minutes. It’s hard, believe me, but worth it!
  • When the chicken is almost done, the juices will sputter in the oven and the skin should be golden and crispy.
  • Remove from oven and cut into the thigh to make sure that the juices run clear. photo (27)
  • Carve the chicken, serve with your favorite side (roasted veggies here) and eat up!

Hope you enjoy this recipe! What’s your favorite way to cook chicken? What’s your favorite go-to chicken dinners?