Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Tomato Tuesday

A week's worth of 100+ days would kick anyone's butt, including tomatoes! There are still a couple hanging on for dear life. (And we watered it twice a day)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Sandra Betzina Today's Fit Vogue 1101 - Just Beachy edition

Another fun in the sun dress and a pretty beach cover up, too! However, when I tried it on this morning, I noticed the dress was dipping a bit center back. Because it tapered back to meet the side seam allowance at the front, I had no idea this was going on when I sewed the seams. I thought it was because of the bias and took the scissors to it to even it before hemming. The second dress was also longer in the back, but I didn't notice until I sewed this version -- It's not really that obvious. Curious, I matched the back to the front pattern pieces and saw that the center back was 1" longer. I don't know why - a design feature? Or if you have a booty and because it is on the the bias the extra prevents it from hiking up in back? For me - no booty, no more extra - I trimmed it to match the front piece curve. Ready to sew forth with #4 - I love this dress!

I Love Stay Tape Club

YaYa Orchid and some others were asking about my giddiness over scoring all those rolls of Stay Tape the other day. While sewing tip books say you can use the selvedge edge to stabilize seams - that works if your fabric is a medium weight - for necklines I like to use the lighter weight, almost sheer, Stay Tape. Sandra Betzina is a big fan, that's why many of her patterns call for stabilizing the necklines and shoulders with it. And it works - helps hold in necklines, preventing gapiosis...stabilizes pocket openings...you can even use it to help ease in seams, especially at the waistband.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Pattern Sales!

This week at Hobby Lobby - McCalls 99 cents

Upcoming Jo-Ann's sales --

July 2-5 - Independence Day Sale

50% off cutting tools, interfacing, Red Tag fabrics
McCalls 99 cents
Vogue $3.99

July 9-11 - Butterick $1.99
July 16-18 - Simplicity $1.99

Monday, June 22, 2009

90 Yards!!!

...of Stay Tape! I've been going through my roll rather quickly making Sandra Betzina's Today's Fit Vogue 1101 over and over. Hancock Fabrics is the only place locally I can find Stay
Tape. (surprised Jo-Ann's doesn't sell it) I was a litle taken aback this morning when I saw the price - $5.29 for ten yards, made by Dritz. A little shock there, I didn't remember it being that much or by Dritz. Dritz is good though, and instead of stocking up on two rolls at that price, I decided to wait for their next 50% off notions sale and get only one for now.

BUT--Hancock's is having a big sale and since I had a bit ot time, decided to roam the aisles. Good thing! I found a separate notions sale rack...and -- Stay Tape! The familiar pretty flowery blue package by Collins Notions I had at home. Same ten yards, but only $1.55! I put the other one back and grabbed nine packages. Apparently Hancocks is going to carry the Dritz line and clearancing out the Collins brand. Check your Hancock's store and see if they are doing the same thing. (I left some packages behind to keep good sewing Karma!)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Who are these people and what are they doing here?

As you can obviously tell, I have a rather eclectic group of friends and fellow bloggers in the right alley. I thought each week on Sunday I would randomly showcase one from the list and why they are there. I love to discover new blogs, and I think you will enjoy the introduction for new places to visit in Bloggy Land.

This week - Planet BioScan I tried this last night and honestly, had the best night's sleep in ages! It was very relaxing during the process, too. If anything, sign up for the monthly email newsletter. Very well-written and informative about increasing wellness in your body, mind and spirit! (They have a promotion right now when you subscribe to the newsletter, you get a free e-book "25 Ways to Reduce Your Stress")

Friday, June 19, 2009

Round Two - Sandra Betzina Today's Fit Vogue 1101

This time a shorter sundress version of Vogue 1101. The tunic length was too short as a dress on me, so I added 5" with the add on piece for View B. Two yards of trim sewn over the seam line added interest and covered the seam. Fabric used was a 100% cotton "Bright Palms Tropical" on sale at Jo-Ann's. Total price including the trim...and a spool of black thread - I can't believe I ran out of black thread!- less than $20 with tax. I tried Sandra's method of Thread Fuse for the hem and loved the result. I'll definitely use her technique again. Also good to note - Thread Fuse doesn't go bad - I found a spool tucked away in a drawer I must have bought at least ten years ago, probably from Nancy's Notions.

Don't think I'll be working for Cake Boss anytime soon

It tasted way better than it looked! I need to get better cake pans - like the ones in Everyday Food - use parchment paper on the bottom and not try to frost on in a hurry and on a very humid day. Any other tips will be appreciated! This chocolate delight was Hershey's "Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake" with "One Bowl Buttercream Frosting"
Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake
This variation came from the Hershey's Homemade Cookbook - 1991, second printing, page 9
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
1 2/3 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup Hershey's Cocoa
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/3 cups water
Heat oven to 350. Grease and flour two 9" round baking pans. In large mixer bowl, combine butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla; beat on high speed of electric mixer 3 minutes. In separate bowl, stir together flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt and baking powder, add alternately with water to butter mixture. Blend just until combined. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake 30-35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes, remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely, then frost.
One Bowl Buttercream Frosting
6 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
2-2/3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Beat butter in medium bowl. Add powdered sugar and cocoa alternately with milk; beat to spreading consistency (additional milk may be needed). Stir in vanilla. About 2 cups frosting.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Where have I been?

On Facebook - finally! You can find me at Peggy + maiden name or Peggy + married name. To my other bloggy friends - feel free to email me and I'll let you know my other aliases. Apparently I caused quite a stir when I listed myself under my maiden name first - only to make it easier for high school reunion classmates and blasts from the past. Yes, I'm still married! Jeepers, people!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Parade Magazine's No-Bake Strawberry Cheesecake

This recipe is from the June 14, 2009 Parade Magazine's Simply Delicious "Chill Out With Retro Treats" by Sheila Lukins.

Hopefully I made the per serving numbers less shocking and less retro (450 calories! 26g fat!) by using Neufchatel 1/3 less fat cream cheese, low fat sour cream and fat-free Cool Whip. I also substituted sliced fresh apricots - a good use for that big bubba-sized package from Costco.

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
8 ounces prepared whipped topping, thawed
1 (6 ounce) graham cracker pie crust
1 lb fresh strawberries, hulled, halved lengthwise

Beat the cream cheese until smooth with an electric mixer. Gradually beat in the sugar then beat in the sour cream and vanilla until just combined. Fold in the whipped topping. Scrape the mixture into the the pie crust. There may be some filling left over. If so, reserve it to be decoratively piped onto the top of the pie. Chill in the refrigerator for 4 hours.
Starting in the center, arrange the strawberries in a circular pattern. Pipe with any extra filling if you like.

Want to make your own crust? (We almost did until we added the cost of ingredients and discovered the store-brand prepared crust was only $1.09 versus almost $3 for a box of graham crackers. And lower in the fat counts and sugar. And time was running short.)

Here's Parade's instructions for making your own graham cracker crust -- Combine 1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs with 1/4 cup sugar and 1/3 cup melted butter. Press the mixture into a 9" pie plate and bake for 8 minutes in a preheated 350 oven. Cool completely.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Who are these people and what are they doing here?

As you can obviously tell, I have a rather eclectic group of friends and fellow bloggers in the right alley. I thought each week on Sunday I would randomly showcase one from the list and why they are there. I love to discover new blogs, and I think you will enjoy the introduction for new places to visit in Bloggy Land.

This week - Cookie Madness She bakes a different batch of cookies, brownies, even cakes almost everyday! Chocolate chip cookies even has its own category (with 88 recipes!). Lots of yummy recipes and links to even more cookie and goodie madness elsewhere on the Web.

Today's Favorite iPod Workout Song

Michael Franti , "Say Hey" 3:56
Only 69 cents on iTunes! We think this could be one of the "Songs of Summer 2009"

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Sandra Betzina Today's Fit Vogue 1101 - View A

Note to Sandra: You seriously need to have a chat with Vogue about your pattern photos and illustrations! The newest Today's Fit Vogue 1101 is another one of her designs which Vogue does not do justice.
The neckline has a pretty shaping. And it's bias! You can't tell all this from the photo/drawing. (I would love to be able to see the sleeve version, right now the drawing makes it look like a "patio dress".)
The fabric, "Ethnic Scribble," is from Jo-Ann's Simply Silkies collection. I originally bought it for another dress, another pattern. When I was getting ready to alter the other pattern, I knocked 1101 off of the end of the cutting table. A sign? I am so much happier with this match of fabric and pattern instead.

I automatically added two inches to the length at the waist - and cut out and lowered the back darts. When I saw I had an extra 5" available in the layout length, I added that too, turning it into the trendy summer maxi dress. I'll still be able to shorten and wear it next year, if not sooner if the length really bugs me during real world wearing.

As far as the technique to sew the shoulder seams, if you follow Sandra's suggestions, it will work and it is a nice finish. She used this technique previously on one of her other top patterns. Accuracy in stitching the facing seams is a must for them to be able to meet exactly. And because it is a small circle to stitch - you'll only be able to sew about 1/2" before having to stop and readjust - try hand basting it together first. Not only to make it easier to sew, but to flip it right side out to check and make sure you won't end up with a facing on the right side of the fabric. Especially if you didn't interface the facing. Oops, not. The fabric had enough body to not need it.

With the front and back darts, I like how it looks unbelted and belted with a light woven JJill belt - and with sandals or cowboy boots or barefoot.
I'm turning right around and making it again - shorter and in a cotton print. A great way to beat the heat - sewing inside with the A/C and then having something cool to wear venturing outside.

Target-ed Fabric

And all on sale, too!
Orla Kiely 100% cotton napkins. 20" x 20" Originally $12.99 down to $9.08 earlier this week. Bet they get marked down further. I love the colors!

The Home Spring edition towel and potholder. Half price - $2.48. I love these potholders -they are the perfect right thickness and size. The embroidered towel, measuring 18" x 28" is just bonus for me. I use them in applique or turn into a gift bag - basting so the recipient can use it as a towel!

Garden Update

Tried a new plant from our recent visit to Another Place in Time - it's from Australia. If I've misspelled it, please let me know! Ptilotus Ptilotis? Joey

And some Torenias for underneath the crape myrtle - "Trailing Purple" and "Clown Mix - Pink" and "Clown Blue" Torenias are also known as Wishbone Flower and Summer Pansy.

We also didn't do that badly with the gladioli. They were planted really late. While most leafed, only 4 stalks so far have bloomed.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Coupon Code for 25% off Bobbi Brown

The coupon code for 25% off all Bobbi Brown Cosmetics purchased on their website www.bobbibrown.com is SUMMER1. The promotion ends today, June 11. Free shipping kicks in if you purchase $60 or more. Proceeds from the sale will go towards Bobbi Brown's $10,000 donation to Dress for Success. The free sample this time is Luminous Moisturizing Foundation. Even paying for shipping, I came out ahead saving money, time, gas and aggravation getting another jar of the Hydrating Eye Cream - which doesn't make my eyes swell shut! Take advantage of this deal if you can. . ,

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Crafty Chica's Guide to Artful Sewing

Crafty Chica's Guide to Artful Sewing - Fabu-Low-Sew Projects by Kathy Cano-Murillo ISBN: 978-0-307-40666-8 Library Call No. 746

Filled with over 20 projects. I liked the Stitch In Time tidbits from other sewists scattered throughout the book. One in particular (Fredda in McKinney, Texas - page 110) incorporates Pi as a sewing aid - not pie pie, though I think that could help with sewing - but using Pi to figure out the fabric amount needed to make sewing around pillows, circle skirts, tablecloths, etc. Check out the sewing machine covered with buttons on page 18! I also liked her super-easy way to make a laptop sleeve (page 52) by using a pillowcase and a layer of batting. This book would definitely appeal to the new generation of sewers in their teens-20's, but even those of us beyond would find inspiration and bravery to try new techniques...jumping off the perfection bandwagon, and finding the freedom to just sew. I would buy this book the next time I need a free shipping boost from Amazon and a sewing jumpstart.

Monday, June 08, 2009

FIT...To Be Tried!

Houston has quite a large Chinatown/Asian community...and there are several blocks of shopping, stores, restaurants, etc. along Bellaire Boulevard, just inside Beltway 8 and heading east. A poster on Yelp mentioned an "Asian Dollar Store" in the Dallas area, and I thought for sure there would be one in Houston! L searched and found "FIT" with several 5 stars and recommendations from other shoppers. We checked it out on Friday and had a blast!

FIT ("Fit in your life. Fit in your style")
9889 Bellaire Boulevard, #251-261
Houston, TX 77036

Clean, light and bright - you'll see the citrus colored orange/lime/lemon lettered-signs showing you the way to their location on the second floor of a new two-story strip mall. (It actually faces away from Bellaire Boulevard, so turn in, then when you head towards the back, turn to your left.) It's packed full of goodies, yet not overcrowded and about the square footage of a Walgreen's. L and I spent over an hour in there and we still didn't see everything.

There are very helpful clerks available for explaining and translating. Most items are $2, colored dots will indicate $3, $4 and $5 prices. We didn't see too many of the $4-$5 items, though.

If you are an organizing freak, you will go nuts. There are some Hello Kitty items - designated for sale in Japan only. I found a HK magnet - on the receipt it says "Cute Cat" character goods. Lots of Disney items. Baby items. Dollhouse sized furniture. Party and decorating items. Cool household gadgets. Plates, cups, cutlery. Presentation boxes, bags and paper baking cups. Reuseable cloth bags. School supplies. Games, toys.

Can you think of a more cheery and healthier way to start your day than with a pink, yellow, green and blue totebag measuring 16" x 14" x 8" with "Doughnut" "Always Happy Day" "The delicious food smell made our mouths water" a bear asking "What's the menu for lunch?" "Lovely Friend' and the coffee telling the toaster to "Hurry Up"? Going green can be fun and funky!

If you purchase 10 items, you can play Bingo and win an extra item. Lucky L did and she picked the metallic ribbon twisty ties.

But as you can tell from the photo, my favorite section was the crafting "Merry Hobby" area -- all sorts of sewing, beading, knitting and crocheting supplies - including that funky usually $$ yarn. I found buttons, fabric, ribbon - note the fringe edge of the hula girls! Embroidery and craft kits. The "Patchwork Cute Cloth", is a really nice 100% cotton and measures 21 1/2" x 20" The ribbon is a meter, 40"

The one drawback to this store - it's on a second floor and only accessible by a staircase, albeit a staircase with a landing part way and with tiny depth steps. Fit, indeed. With our size 10's, we had to grab and use that handrail. There is a parking garage attached to the building - it may have an elevator we did not see.

We agree with the other shoppers - 5 stars, and we will definitely return!

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Sew Mama Sew - Sewing Machine Meme

What brand and model do you have?

Viking Husqvarna 1100

How long have you had it?

Since 1989 - it was their anniversary (300 years!) model and top-of-the-line at the time!

How much did that machine cost (approximately)?
I'm thinking I paid around $1,000 for it. I traded in my 940 and the MSRP must have been around $1,800-$2,000+. My dealer is very honest and fair. He is held in my highest esteem and in my collection of the coolest people I know.

What types of things do you sew (i.e. quilting, clothing, handbags, home dec projects, etc.)?

Anything I can stick under the needle, including my thumb*!

How much do you sew? How much wear and tear does the machine get?

It definitely gets put through its paces. It's a trooper!

Do you like/love/hate your machine?


Does she have a name?

Uh, "sewing machine"?

What features does your machine have that work well for you?

The three widths of applique/satin stitches at a touch of the button. All are perfect!
More than 10 different buttonholes

Is there anything that drives you nuts about your machine?

I wish it had upper and lowercase letters. It only has block and script in caps and one size. But then again, it was 1989. I still use them a lot. If I need bigger letters, I chalk trace and use those satin stitches or free motion them.
Do you have a great story to share about your machine (i.e., Found it under the Christmas tree? Dropped it on the kitchen floor? Sewed your fingernail to your zipper?, Got it from your Great Grandma?, etc.!)? We want to hear it!

*Gross out time -- my thumb got in the way free-motioning and the needle not only went into it, but the tip broke off at the eye inside my thumb. I didn't know it and thought the piece just flew off landing in the carpet. I did start to get an oh-oh feeling when I couldn't find it. Three days later I go to the doctor because my thumb is still sore -- he takes an X-ray and tah-dah -the needle tip! Go to surgeon next day...and I now have a very identifiable thumbprint scar. Resolve not to enter a life of crime.
Would you recommend the machine to others? Why?

Yes! When I chatted with VWS a few years ago, one of them mentioned she had an 1100, too. She said it was one of the best sewing machines they had ever made. And even with access to the newer machines, she still loves and uses her 1100. My dealer said the same thing, too.

You can sometimes find it on eBay - make sure you get all five stitch cards (A-F)

What factors do you think are important to consider when looking for a new machine?

An honest dealer.

Do you have a dream machine?

I certainly would not turn down a Viking Husqvarna embroidery machine should it suddenly appear in my sewing room. I'm very brand loyal. But I would still use and keep that 1100 as my main sewing machine.

UPDATE AUGUST 13, 2014 -- Please click here to see how to thread your Husqvarna Viking 1100 sewing machine!
And click here for how to wind the Viking 1100 bobbin!
UPDATE APRIL 18, 2015 -- Click here how to clean and keep your Viking Husqvarna 1100 happy!

Who are these people and what are they doing here?

As you can obviously tell, I have a rather eclectic group of friends and fellow bloggers in the right alley. I thought each week on Sunday I would randomly showcase one from the list and why they are there. I love to discover new blogs, and I think you will enjoy the introduction for new places to visit in Bloggy Land.
This week - Weekend Designer She takes inspiration from RTW, then drafts and posts the pattern line drawings. If you've been looking to stretch your skills and dip your toe into sewing without a commercial pattern, her blog will help get you started.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Netflix Stars - Then She Found Me

1.5/5 Boy, if this keeps up, I'll have to change my plan to 4 at a time, especially when we are watching on a weekend. Even Colin Firth could not maintain our interest in this movie. Helen Hunt looked awful and Bette Midler was irritating.

Netflix Stars - Revolutionary Road

2/5 This will teach me to read the reviews instead of just adding the titles to my queue from the newspaper. How depressing. I thought the scenes with Michael Shannon's character as John Givings provided a little bit of relief from the darkness.

Today's Favorite iPod Workout Song

This is the song Gilles and Cheryl danced to on "Dancing With The Stars"--
Pitbull, "I Know You Want Me (Calle Ocho)" 4:26
(More English Extended Mix version)

Friday, June 05, 2009

Jo-Ann's Firefly Frenzy Sale

June 14/20 --

$1.99 Simplicity patterns (note to FSWNG!)
50% off thread and buttons
50% off Red Tag fabric
50% off interfacing

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Free Falling...

...is basically the best way to describe the first week off from school. You have to love and allow the transitions. Doc appointments, lunch with friends (shout out - Melinda!), yoga and running days--and the all important "let's take Thursday off" (ow), and making plans.

This is the special summer - the summer in between 11th and 12th grade, a little bittersweet for next year is college. So we are making plans to tour at least two more colleges - mostly to fill her college application dance card, but also to be on the lookout for surprises. There was quite a shift last year from what was a predestined, heir apparent school to a oh really?! school. We will also toss in a few two-day trips around the state (hello, Monica!).
And checking out the local burger joints that seem to be popping up everywhere - (Mini review 5 Guys -- a confusing menu and a little pricey. We don't like double burgers - it seems too McDonald-y, and we were a little shocked at the size and presentation - two small patties stacked, without much real estate for the add-on goodies. Perhaps that's intentional? And if you have a peanut allergy, stay away. There are barrels of unshelled peanuts throughout the place and they cook their french fries in peanut oil, too.) There are other new burger places to check out - Moo-Yah and Smash Burger. Could it be the economy? Hamburgers are still somewhat more affordable. Even compared to Luby's - they have a new promotion of lowering the Lu-Ann platter back down to $5.99 Monday-Friday. Uh, when did it get that high? And what is it on the weekends? I remember when the Lu-Ann used to be $2.99-$3.99. Obviously it's been a few years since we've been to Luby's.

How did I get off tangent so early in the morning? Well, perhaps it is the hot return of Jeffrey Donovan and "Burn Notice" tonight. Thursday is definitely Summer time must-see TV again! "Get Me Out of Here I'm A Celebrity", "Burn Notice" and then we will give "Royal Pains" a try. Royal Pains has the guy who was the boyfriend/fiance from "In Her Shoes". Sorry, "Fashion Show" - you are going to be time-shifted -- thank goodness Bravo repeats it.

"Get Me Out Of Here I'm A Celebrity" -- Isn't that addicting? L and I love it. I do wonder if it has the legs to carry it through the next two weeks. It is a little irritating it "runs out of time" at the LIVE ending of the show. I know I'm being played in order to tune back in the next night to see what happened.

So thus begins the kick-off to Summer 2009 - regrouping, recuperating, reconnaissance and recreating!

Lowest price for Martha Stewart's Cupcakes

Sam's takes the cupcake!

Publisher's price - $24.99
Costco - $14.99
Sam's - $13.72
What sold me? BOSTON CREAM PIE cupcakes!!

Netflix Stars - Rumor Has It

2.75/5 - Interesting ensemble of Hollywood (Rob Reiner?!) and star power, but the underlying oooh-ick factor throughout the movie creeped us out. But Shirley MacLaine and Kathy Bates were fun to watch. I liked the music - I downloaded two of Nellie McKay's songs, "Pasadena Girl" and "Baby, You've Got What it Takes"

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Mixed Media - Recipes for delicious mixed-media creations

Mixed Media: Recipes For Delicious Mixed-Media Creations by Debbie Crane and Cheryl Prater
ISBN: 978-1-59668-084-5 Library Call No. 745.5

What a fun book! With cookbook-like sections of at least 20 inspiring projects, even recipes! I even learned about Bazzill Chips --not something you eat - they are 1 1/2" squares of chipboard used to create small collages. I also enjoyed the conversational back and forth between the authors. They give examples and directions for quilting, collage, bookmaking, even paper dolls! If you like the Cloth Paper Scissors magazine, you'll definitely enjoy this book, too.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Netflix Stars - New in Town

3.75 - 6 words: Harry Connick, Jr. in a beard - Dang! Predictable, but perfect to watch in the warmer weather.

Netflix Stars - Friday Night Lights

3.5 -- Considering I don't even really like football...and Billy Bob Thornton as a general rule kind of creeps me out - I liked this movie and Billy Bob in it. Plus it was filmed in the Astrodome, I remember the casting calls for extras.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Upcoming Jo-Ann's Pattern Sales

June 4/6:
$1.99 McCalls
$3.99 Vogue

June 11/13
$1.99 Butterick

Hey there, Buttercup!

Actually called Turnera - Mike at Another Place in Time helped me reidentify it. The blooms are almost 2 inches across. My garden has truly amazed me this year after Hurricane Ike -- I hadn't any true hope for it at all. I think most of the plants and flowers came back bigger and better than ever. (The jasmine however was a goner - a fence landing on top of it didn't help...)

The Winner! #39

Congratulations to The House of Kent's Sew Mama Sew 2009 May Giveway Day winner!

And thanks to all who stopped by and left comments --- I look forward to checking out your blogs, too!