Thursday, July 31, 2008

Repeat Your Winners* Thursday - The B's

Burda, Blueberries and Burn Notice - A great combination!

Burda 7925 in glazed magnolia embroidered linen with just a shimmer of silver/pewter metallic. Scored at Jo-Ann's.

Blueberry Torte Squares, inspired by $2 blueberries at Super Target.

And a new episode of Burn Notice tonight.
Hooray for Thursday!

*Credit David Ogilvy, Ogilvy & Mather Advertising

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Rachel's Yogurts

Eat yogurt to become calm and relax? I'm always game for a gimmick! HEB carries a few of Rachel's Essence Yogurts for 99 cents each. I liked the Vanilla Chai (Relax) a bit better than Plum Honey Lavender (Calm). The plum was a little too puckery but not distasteful. Click on the link for other flavors and the nutritional information. I thought they came in nutritionally affordable and in pretty containers. 9-29-08 update -- Super Target now carries them for 99 cents, too.

Today's Favorite iPod Workout Song

John Mellencamp, "Our Country" 3:47
Freedom's Road

Monday, July 28, 2008

Burda Easy 7793 View A Top and View B Tank Top

Burda 7793

A repeat sewing of 7793's knit tank top View B with View A's blouse top.
This practically sewed itself just looking at it. You can easily can make both in less than an hour. And that factors in playing with the Steam-A-Seam 2 in the humidity (and cleaning the gunk off the iron afterwards). The only length adjustment I made was cutting the pattern to the larger size length, about 1 1/2 inches.
The top fabric is called "Blue Flame" from Jo-Ann's summer silkies collection paired with a cotton-poly blend blue knit. It has a subtle royal blue shimmer effect making it a fun combo outfit.

Happy Birthday Beatrix Potter!

My Royal Doulton Bunnykins bank and egg cup

Even Google is celebrating the occasion!

Cooking Light 5 Star Recipes - Fudgy Mocha-Toffee Brownies

Today I'm going to try Cooking Light's Fudgy Mocha-Toffee Brownies (page 407 from the Cooking Light 5 Star Recipes book). Back later with photos and results! If you would like to get a head start, click here for the recipe link.

The verdict? Three thumbs down. We don't like nor drink coffee, and it was really coffee-y. In the past, I have used instant coffee in a few recipes with good results; just not two tablespoonfuls! I liked the toffee chips idea and will use them again on another brownie recipe. I did bake it the extra 8 minutes other reviewers advised and the texture was good. Excuse me while I go brush my teeth! The aftertaste - Blech!

Netflix Stars - 21

3/5 stars - It was OK...we didn't love it, but it stayed and played all the way through. I think Kevin Spacey is creepy anyways, and he is creepy in this movie, too.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Burda 7925 - View B Top - Finished!

Better grab 7925 from the Burda drawers at Jo-Ann's while you can...I can't find it on the Burda website. That probably increases the odds it may not be in the new Fall/Winter Burda catalog? Which should be coming out soon, I hope. L and I have pretty much mined the current one.
View B is a cute top that doesn't look as dorky as shown on the envelope. I really bought this pattern for the pants, the top is bonus. I automatically added the 1-1/2 inches at the above the waist adjustment line, and then all the inches to the the View A below the waist adjustment line, to make sure my options are still open to not expose my midriff when I raise my arms, or go "Brady Bunch"-y and turn it into more of a 70's style tunic top. I slightly trimmed down the neckline a little lower than the 3/8" called for in the instructions just because it looked so high in the photo. I also had to redirect the bust darts upwards 1.5 cm. (three cheers for Chantelle! and Internet sales!) The neckline and armhole edges are finished with contrast bias. There's two long waistline back darts and 18" zipper closure.

Next time Jo-Ann's has 50% off notions, I'm stocking up on 14"-16"-18" zippers. This has been the Summer of Burda and long zippers!

I ended up keeping the extra length (8 1/4"), adding 4" side slits and topstitching a 1 1/4" hem allowance. The top looks cuter paired with capris or pants instead of a skirt. Add some long bead necklaces and you are transported back to the 70's. The fabric was a retro-looking floral cream/black/brown linen from Jo-Ann's, trimmed with the black linen leftover from the Burda 7965 split skirt. Jo-Ann's just Red-Tagged all their leftover linen bolts, so you may still be able to find it there at your store. 7925 definitely has the potential to play nicely with other styling and designing changes. The fit really is flattering -- it is just difficult to photograph it well as evidenced by me and the pattern envelope!

Today's Favorite iPod Workout Song

Sam Sparro, "Black and Gold" 4:34

Netflix Stars - Step Up 2-The Streets

L's rating: 3.5/5, a little too long...

Do you watch Randy Jackson's America's Best Dance Crew? (Go SoReal Cru!) On purpose or by happenstance? Then you (mostly likely your teen) will like Step Up 2 - The Streets. On purpose or by happenstance. For us older generationers, think of Saturday Night Fever 2008, in both the dialogue and dancing. Some things never change. In Step Up 2, you'll see the winners of last season's ABDC (towards the end) and also MTV's award-winning "Best Kiss" scene.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Still time to Make it Mine

Make It Mine still has back issues available, including the last one, Spring 2008. Cost is $7.95; which includes Media Rate postage (Priority is $3 more). To order, call 1-800-533-6644.

Today's Favorite iPod Workout Song

Bruce Springsteen, "Cover Me" 3:28

Dirty Girl

We are on the "dirty" (NE side) of Hurricane Dolly as she begins to make landfall near Brownsville later today. Even though we are over 300 miles away, we are already getting the rain bands and thunder boomers this morning.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Burda 7808 - View B Dress with View A Collar

Sometimes you feel like you hit a sewing home run - which is what happened to me with my second version of Burda 7808 - View B with View A's collar. (Click here for the 7808 View A post) Even though it is a 3 dot difficulty pattern, it is easy to sew and especially sewable when you only have bits of time available. Lately I've been waking early and sewing (and photographing!) in the morning before the day gets started full blast.
The dress just felt fun to wear today. I love the pockets, too.
Cost to make: Less than $8; even with the 16" zipper. The fabric was a dark navy or black and white micro weave shirting with some oomph to it, discovered in Jo-Ann's Red Tag section for $2/yard. Not bad.

Hello (and Goodbye!) Dolly

Yuck! So sweet it makes your teeth hurt, providing you can get a piece out intact. This is from the December 2007 issue of Cooking Light. Click here for the recipe if you are feeling lucky. While I applaud their trying to reduce the fat content, the bit of butter and tablespoon of water was not enough to make the crust behave like a crust. The hopes that a can of condensed milk would somehow seep through to the bottom and bind the crumbs fails to take into consideration - 1) the 15 ounce can in the ingredients is now sold in 14 ounce cans... 2) if the can is close to the "best used by" date, it will be too thick to do nothing but just sit on the top.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Netflix Stars - Penelope

4.5/5 stars! Very creatively entertaining with a good message! And it has James McAvoy with his bangs and accent dialed down. Coinky-dink the doofus Edward Vanderman III character played by Simon Woods bears a resemblance to Reese's former husband, Ryan Phillippe? The special features section on the costume and set design is really interesting.

Luling Grasshopper

Luling, Texas. Even their water tower looks like a watermelon!

This Week's Costco Find

Cooking Light Five Star Recipes
(2008) ISBN: 978-0-8487-3242-4 $19.49
Found at the Austin Costco
"Fudgy Mocha-Toffee Brownies" at only 179 calories?! (page 407) You had me at Fudgy...
I think all the weight is transferred to the book, it is heavy!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Burda 7808 - View A Dress

Love, LOVE Burda 7808! Definitely a sleeper-hit pattern. At first I was afraid it would look a little too FLDS-y, but it is actually quite cool to wear (temperature and style-wise). Especially in a gray/cream linen mini-stripe. I'll have fun accessorizing.
Like some of the other Burda patterns in the 2008 Spring/Summer catalog, this calls for a side zipper. Yes you do need it this time; I tried. All I had was a 14" instead of the suggested 16" and it worked just fine. Most figures will be able to sew it right out of the envelope. There are plenty of adjustment lines, though. Two above the waist (above and below the bustline), and one below the waist. I was a little concerned about the inset not hitting flatteringly, so I added 1 1/4" below the bust and 1 1/2" below the waist to get the look length shown on the model.
Nice to also note the insert is not just an ordinary piece, but actually curves and incorporates a slight princess seam, both front and back. The tie back is not cutesy 80's, just a nice, almost minimalist square knot length.

Slightly extended shoulder seams, the sleeve slips right into place easily.

The sleeves are not gathered all the way around into the cuff. You can tell in the pattern photo it is set straight in near the underarm seam, but gathered the heck close to the placket opening. Emphasis on the heck in the gathering. I pulled those threads all the way and still ended up pleating just a little bit to get it to fit. This interesting style keeps a nice straight line close to the body and gives a little fun poof to the outside.

I loved the collar and clean finishing inside.

I plan to turn right around and make this again, the sleeveless View B and pockets, only with the collar. In the sewing process for View A, I tried it on with one sleeve in and liked how it looked sleeveless with the collar on me.

There's still some summer-time to grab, sew and wear 7808. With the right colors and fabric, the View B could even take you into fall.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Houston International Quilt Festival - October 30-November 2, 2008 - Updated 10-31

Even though the publication I used to write about the Quilt Festival is now defunct, I still get the media kit in advance. Here's some interesting tidbits to whet your Festival appetite.

Dates: October 30-November 2, 2008
Classes and events begin October 27
Preview Night is October 29; your ticket for that evening includes admission for another day.
Next year's festival is earlier in October -- October 15/18, 2009

Ticket prices -- $10 daily, $8 seniors and students. Children under 10 are free. Full show pass is $35.

"Rendezvous," The Bernina Fashion Show is 6:30-8:30 PM Thursday evening, October 30. Ticket price is $12, which includes the "Through the Needle" program with all the garment photos and designer information.

The "Stitch in Time" Fashion Luncheon is Friday, October 31. Ticket price is $32. If you participate, this could be an opportunity springboard to get that coveted invitation to be in the Bernina Show...

Alex Anderson is the 2008 Silver Star Recipient and the Silver Star Salute dinner honoring her is Saturday, November 1 at 7:30 PM. Ticket price is $39. There will also be a special exhibit of her work at the Festival.

Pfaff leads the pack of sewing machine companies offering their machines (250) for classes, followed by Janome (150 machines), Baby Lock (100), Bernina (75), Husqvarna Viking (50), Brother International (50) and Elna (25). Here's an insider tip -- visit these companies' booths during Festival...they sometimes offer special deals on these gently-used machines at a great discount! Also good to know -- if you are in the Houston local area, the dealer stores will often beat the Festival Show Special Price on brand new machines.

Speaking of stores, there's shopping to be had! On Wednesday there's the "Truly Texas," ($108) and "Missouri City" ($106) tours. Thursday is "Houston Sights, Fashion Fabrics, Antiques & Tea," ($91) and "Gateway to the Bay" ($96). New this year is an after the show overnight to San Antonio, "Out West Quilt Shops & Alamo City Tour" - departing 8 AM Monday and returning 6 PM Tuesday ($306 double/$361 single).

The 2008 Hoffman Challenge fabric for this year's wall hanging exhibit display is #E9062116 "Green Tea Gold"

"Make It University" will be back with Cloth Paper Scissors workshop sessions for $10 each. Class size is limited to 25 and admission by lottery so everyone has a chance. Really you do, many people just drop in their name and if you are not nearby, they pull the next name. It could be you! The Festival Program, Q2 will have the official schedule. There will also be a "Take It and Leave It" ATC swap.

Want to take a class? If you do, your separate $38 enrollment fee has some great benefits. Repeat admission to Festival (a savings of $10/day), the VIP Preview of the Show (you are allowed in before Preview Night's official opening time - sometimes you need that 2 hour head start on some of the more popular booths!), Q2 Festival Program, the official show pin and tote bag.

Be a Quilt Angel - volunteer for 3 hours and get a Quilt Angel Pin, volunteer for 6 hours - you get the pin, free class catalog and priority advance enrollment next year.

Mention the Quilt Festival to get a special rate for the nearby hotels (Hilton Americas, Doubletree, Four Seasons, Hyatt Regency, Crowne Plaza). FYI - Filling up quickly are the Hilton (it's right across the street and there's a skyway adjoining the George Brown) and the Four Seasons (just a few blocks away). However, there are hotel shuttle buses. You need to call the hotels directly for the discount, not the 800#. And if the reserved block is full, do check back a week, a few days and the day before, even the day of your arrival. Also if these hotels are full, check the hotel and websites for other Houston locations. Especially around Loop 610 (The Galleria) and the Southwest Freeway (U.S. 59). Often they become back up hotels with special rates and a shuttle bus to the Convention Center.

Continental and Northwest Airlines also have special telephone numbers and discount codes. And Hertz is the official car rental company. Given the increased airfare cost and extra fees nowadays, you may and probably will be able to do better on your own.

To get a class catalog and for more information, visit the International Quilt Festival website,

Click here to get a recently updated post about some cool booths I found yesterday and today.

Parking update: If you arrive early (around 9 AM) you may find surface parking on either side of the George R. Brown Convention Center for $7. Otherwise, there is underground parking right across the street underneath the new Discovery Green Park. The entrance is in the middle of Avenida de las Americas. Well-lit, safe, secure, two levels - only $10.

Today's Favorite iPod Workout Song

Elton John, "Grey Seal" 4:00

Dr. Michael DeBakey - amongst other things. . .

...DeBakey's mother also taught him one of his future career's essential skills — sewing. He would help her repair items headed for the orphanage. He also learned to tat, using a little bobbin to make lace. Years later, in the 1950s, DeBakey would introduce artificial arteries made from Dacron; he sewed the prototype on his wife's sewing machine, using fabric purchased at Houston's downtown Foley's... (Houston Chronicle)


...A dozen or more years ago a friend told us a story about Dr. Michael DeBakey. It seems that our friend was sitting in a waiting room at a hospital, and, while waiting, was sewing something. DeBakey walked by and saw our friend trying to sew the garment. He stopped and told our friend to let him try, whereupon he sewed the piece with perfection. Our friend was startled that this great man took the time to do this. He was truly a remarkable man. Of whom Houston can truly be proud.
J. KENNEDY, Houston...
(Houston Chronicle)

Costco Find!

Attention AT&T cell phone customers -- Costco is clearing out their 8110 BlackBerry Pearl for only $29.99! If you live in Houston, sorry, you are out of luck - I got the last one at Bunker Hill, Willowbrook's were already gone. Of course, with Costco you get the free accessory kit and activation, and a $50 rebate. Even the wireless guy said this was an insane deal!

Upcoming Jo-Ann's Pattern Sales

July 20/26 --
99 cent Butterick

August 7/9 --
$1.99 McCalls
$3.99 Vogue

Monday, July 14, 2008

Sunday, July 13, 2008

New email address!

To all my friends and family -- my personal email address is all screwed up and I cannot access the account...NOR MY EMAIL ADDRESS BOOK! Yikes! Please email me at the blog email address to the right in the About Me box and I will respond with my new email information. Thanks!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Netflix Stars - Burn Notice

5 stars! Smart, funny, sassy. And the 2nd season of Burn Notice premieres tonight on the USA Network.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Another day, Another Burda - Burda 7808

Burda 7808 is on my cutting table today, View A with the 3/4 sleeves. I'm hoping it is a sleeper hit pattern, as I flipped past the catalog page many times earlier in the summer sewing season...and no one else has reviewed or blogged about it - other than que Jimenez who mentioned she purchased it back in February.

Netflix Stars - Definitely Maybe

1/5 - Definitely Maybe? Definitely Not! I don't know why Netiflix gave this a recommended shooting star for us. Yes, we liked and gave 5 stars to The Holiday...The Wedding Date...Sweet Home Alabama...The Devil Wears Prada...How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. . .but this?! I fail to see the connection. The opening scenes where he picks up and brings his daughter home from school will leave even the not prudish cringing.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Celebrating the red white and blue with patriotic tried and true

I love the tonal stripe seer-sucker and found the dark red/red on sale 60% off this time. I discovered when it is difficult to tell the right and wrong side apart and you are applying bias binding, put the side that is curling up on top so when you roll it to the underside, it behaves better.

I used Burda 7966 for the Hello Kitty bottoms - the View C shorts for L and the View B capris for me. I straightened the legs so they didn't taper as much as my previous version and added side slits to be more like the Nick & Nora's. The top is Burda 8134.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Red, White and Blueberry! Blueberry Torte Squares

From the April/May 2008 issue of Taste of Home's Healthy Cooking magazine, which I believe replaced Light & Tasty. The final verdict will be tonight's dessert, but I can attest to sampling the cream cheese and blueberry layers along the way and they are yummy! Very light and not oversweet. I easily cut the recipe in half to fit into a 9" x 9" pan. The original 13" x 9" would have been too much and too tempting for us. Next time I may keep the original quantity of the blueberries and save to put over shortcake or Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla Light Ice Cream (55% less fat, 25% less calories than the original). This is the original recipe for the 13x9 size --

2/3 cup butter, softened
3 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup sugar, divided
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 package (8 ounces) reduced-fat cream cheese
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 carton (12 ounces) frozen reduced-fat whipped topping, thawed
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 cup cold water
3 cups fresh blueberries

In a small mixing bowl, cream butter and 2 tablespoons sugar. Gradually add flour and mix well. Press onto the bottom of a 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 12-14 minutes or until set and edges are lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack. In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and confectioners' sugar until smooth. Fold in whipped topping; spread mixture over crust. Refrigerate for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, combine cornstarch and water until smooth. Stir in blueberries and remaining sugar. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Cool to room temperature. Spoon topping over cream cheese layer. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Cut into squares. Yield: 2 dozen.
One serving 1 square
Calories: 178
Fat: 9 g
Saturated Fat: 6 g
Cholesterol: 20 mg
Sodium: 76 mg
Carbohydrate: 24 g
Fiber: 1 g
Protein: 2 g
Diabetic Exchange: 1-1/2 starch, 1-1/2 fat.

Take a Fourth off today on the Fourth! Coupon Code!

Here's a 25% off coupon code from The Lingerie Store USA I've ordered from them before and have been very, very pleased with their prices and service. Additionally, all purchases over $50 have free shipping and you don't pay sales tax for even more savings (8.25% here). Be sure to sign up for their email list of offers. Unlike others, they do follow through with specials and coupons --- like this one today: cp70408 Coupon is good until 12 Midnight tonight.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Netflix Stars - A Life Less Ordinary

3/5 -- An OK, yet very odd and somewhat violent at times movie. A shocker to see one scene with Christopher Gorham from "Ugly Betty" working at a gas station with $1.49 Unleaded! When was this filmed? Oh, 1997! Ewan and Cameron are good, but Holly Hunter is funnier and steals the scenes.

Another Laura Bennett Case Clothed on iVillage!

Click here for "The Case of the Sensational Swimsuit"

16+ hours without air conditioning

According to my A/C diagnostic skills, I think it is the thermostat. Let me rephrase, I HOPE it is the thermostat. It won't turn on the A/C or the fan. I didn't try the heat setting, gosh forbid it should get stuck on that. Taking the cover off and blowing away the dust (dust?!) didn't help, either. I checked outside and there wasn't any ice on the outside equipment. And I re-tripped the circuit breaker hoping to spring it to life. Nope. That's about the limit of my HVAC license. It happened around 7 last night, the house was already pretty cooled by then so sleeping wasn't that uncomfortable. T went to work and L and I lasted until 11:30 this morning when the meat thermometer read 83. (Final temp when we got back in the afternoon? 88.6!) Some of you are thinking, "a meat thermometer?" and "Well, boo-hoo to you" - but the saying, "it's not the heat it's the humidity" is truth for this part of the country. Just check the Accu-Weather widget, it may say 86, but Real Feel says 102. Feel it, believe it.
We await the phone call from the repair guy and the shushing from the librarian at the library. Thank goodness for Wi-Fi and lots of books and magazines. There are worse places to wile away a hot afternoon. Like inside our house with the meat thermometer on the bookcase...

Update: It was the self destruction of the control board and a blown fuse. Thermostat was fine. Cost of getting the a/c repaired before a three-day weekend? Priceless! I had the blank check ready...

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Check Out My Library Check Outs

All in various stages of reading and overdue-ness --
What the heck?! Return and get back into the sewing room!

I actually got this to listen on CD in the sewing room, but have been listening to Dave Ramsey's 39:11 podcasts instead and having nightmares about credit cards.

Getting closer back to sewing...this is by Project Runway's Carmen Webber. Some cool denim repurposing. Definitely different.
(Denim Mania - 25 Stylish Ways to Transform Your Jeans)

I saw this at Costco but didn't buy it because I like to cook and bake from scratch. It was leaning a little too much towards the Semi-Homemade to add to the collection. But some looked good. (Hungry Girl Recipes and Survival Strategies for Guilt-Free Eating in the Real World)

"Featuring the 40 foods proven to promote heart health"...and it has a recipe for Peach Blueberry Shortcake? I'm in! (WomenHeart's All Heart Family Cookbook)

Further proof not to go to the library when you are hungry, either! (American Heart Association Low-Fat & Luscious Desserts)

Fashions From The Cotton Patch

The annual "Fashions from the Cotton Patch" fashion show expo and luncheon sponsored by the Texas AgriLife Extension Service-Fort Bend & Galveston Counties and the Houston Chapter of the American Sewing Guild will be held this year on Saturday, August 9 at 11:00 AM at the Bud O'Shieles Community Center in Rosenberg, Texas. If you are a Texas resident of Fort Bend, Harris, Galveston, Brazoria, Montgomery, Liberty, Brazos, Wharton, Matagorda, Colorado or Austin County, you (Adult, Professional, Youth) can participate in the show with your 100% cotton clothing, wearable art, accessories and home decor items. Adults and Youth (8-10, 11-13, 14-18 age divisions) are encouraged to enter. I attended last year and some of the outfits our up-and-coming sewists made were incredible!
Deadline for entries is July 28, luncheon is August 1. I'd mail it in as soon as possible, it was a packed room last year.Click here for the website link with ticket and entry information