Sunday, January 31, 2010

Discontinued Sandra Betzina Vogue Today's Fit patterns

In case you were wondering, the following patterns were pulled and discontinued from the Vogue catalog to make room for her new ones --

2949 Jacket ($5 online)
1018 Skirt (just pulled, price has not been reduced yet online, may still be in stores)
2967 Tops ($5 online)
7608 Jeans ($5 online)

I've made 2949 and love it. The others are in my stash, awaiting their moment.

Sugarbaby's Cupcake Boutique

Yesterday we stopped by Sugarbaby's Cupcake Boutique, and -- O.M.G.! -- If you live in Houston or within driving or flying distance, this is a must-do, must-eat stop on your agenda. Open since 2007, they were the original boutique cupcake bakery in Houston. Why did it take me so long to find this place?!
They are located 3100 S. Shepherd, between W. Alabama and Richmond. (And their telephone number is 713/52-SUGAR) Hours are Tuesday-Saturday, 9 am to 7 pm or until they sell out. There is limited parking available -4 spaces- in the front, but there is also a parking lot behind the store off of W. Main.

We got three cupcakes, as difficult as it was to decide and tempting as it was to take one of each. Velvet Rouge (Red Velvet cake with cream cheese icing and a hand-dipped chocolate covered cherry), 24 Carrot Cake (also with cream cheese icing), and Charming Chocolate with Chocolate Buttercream. The prices are very reasonable - from $2.75-$3.25 for the larger cupcakes.
The store is decorated in pink, white and black, and has square black and white plates to showcase your cupcake. Even a Sprinkle Bar. Beverages include cold milk - a must! Remember Robert Best from Project Runway, Season 3? He was the Barbie designer - there are three SIGNED prints of his Barbie outfits decorating the walls of the ladies restroom.
We will definitely be back for return visits!
Sugarbaby's even has a special box, depending upon how many cupcakes you would like "to-go." See the notches on either side so you don't disturb the frosting when temptation's siren call is heard later?

Betsey Johnson Socks at Stein Mart

$8.37 for 6 pair at Stein Mart, originally $20 - DEAL!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Upcoming Jo-Ann's Pattern Sales

February 4/6 - Butterick $1.99...Vogue $3.99
In-store flyers have a 40% off coupon, good January 31/February 6

Presidents' Sale - February 12/15 - 5 for $5 Simplicity
50% off thread, interfacing and Red Tag fabrics

Thursday Tea Time

Cost: $2.29 at Super Target
Number of teabags: 20
Caffeine: Yes
Type of tea: Black
Steeping time: 3 minutes
Double-Dipping potential: Almost. I gave it 5-6 minutes the second time. It was definitely weaker, but still OK.
Mix ins: Aguave Nectar. Another time I tried a little bit of milk, going for a peaches and cream taste - not quite. : P
Teabag fragrance: Peachy
Ingredients: Black tea and peach flavor
Taste: Peachy-keen!
Opinion: Another winner from Stash. I think this tea would be fantastic iced, too.
Rating: 4 teabags

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Sandra Betzina Today's Fit Vogue 1164 - View A Top

The first (home) run of Sandra Betzina's Today's Fit Vogue 1164 - View A top. This turned into a wearable muslin! I wanted to check the length and fit before cutting into my targeted fabric.

First of all, this pattern runs long - the sleeves, the body. I only had to add 1" to both. Usually it's 1 1/2 to 2". You can also get an extra 1 1/2" from cutting on the "J" size line along the bottom and wrap.

I liked many things about this pattern --

Great versatility potential - you can either use a knit or a stretch woven. Long or short sleeved. Can't wait to try the shorter version for warmer weather wardrobing.

Styling -- The three darts on each front piece help ease and style the wrap over fronts, which are secured by two large snaps on the inside. And the neckline does.not.gape! The raglan, two-piece sleeves fit perfectly. I also took advantage of Sandra's suggestion to put a bit of 1/4" elastic centered just above the waist to help cinch in the back a little. It was just right and very J.Jill-ish. I have a J.Jill velour shirt which has the same styling.

If you look at the pattern envelope photo, those sleeves look a little tight, don't they? I thought so, too, and erred on the side of caution and cut the width starting about 2" down from the armscye along the "G" size. The resulting sleeves are perfect, just a little on the loose side but works with the stretch velour thickness. I plan to keep this for future tops, baste and adjust according to the fabric.

I did not relish the thought of moving the darts when I added length near the waist. I had an idea to cut the dart legs approximately 4" to "lift" them up, insert the tissue paper and then tape down. Worked!

One thing you should note - the front is lined. That means two things - it is hemmed in process and you need to determine the finished length first. OK, three things -- And find a lining fabric. You can also self-fabric line if your fabric is lightweight enough. A velour - no. Sandra suggests a stretch mesh or tricot. Even living in the 4th largest city in the U.S., trying to find these fabrics is locally was difficult. But I did have some leftover TIGER print lightweight 4-way stretch knit, which worked just fine. A little peek of the tiger beneath is fun!

The instructions also call for fusible stay tape. Jo-Ann's didn't carry this either, so I made do with regular stay tape.

Next on the sewing horizon - 1165, Sandra's new pleated blouse. Someone has made this already and it is gorgeous. Take a peek at Sandra's Power Sewing website under the Garment Gallery tab.
Update 1-31-10: I found stretch mesh knit at High Fashion Fabrics (thank you, Peggy L!). It comes in a few different colors beyond black, beige and white -- plum, navy, etc. Even some metallics and glitter! Prices range from $5.99 to $13.99 per yard.

Update -- Here's a link to my February 27 post with two more recent versions!

Pretty (and yummy!) in Pink

L and I tried the new Yoplait Light Fat Free "Red Velvet Cake" yogurt today. We like this the best of all their "dessert" flavors. It really tastes like cake batter, and it's a pretty shade of pink. Found it at Super Target for 52 cents.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Baton Rouge Adventure Part 2 - Slow Cookin' in The Fast Lane

Baton Rouge had HUGE Barnes & Nobles - we went to two different ones. One to shop, the other a free wifi iPod Touch fix to get directions for our next stop. Not only do I heart BN, but I love to check out the regional section whenever I travel, especially the cookbooks. And I found this -- "Slow Cookin' in the Fast Lane" by Julie Kay. Double bonus, it is a slow cooker/crockpot book!

Julie Kay writes a weekly column, "What a Crock", in Baton Rouge's newspaper, The Advocate. You can also find and buy the book online. 126 pages, covered spiral bound hardback. Poultry...Beef...Pork...Soups & Stews...Louisiana Favorites...Lagniappe. Crocking with a Louisiana flavor. There are several unique ones I plan to try soon.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Baton Rouge Adventure

I love Baton Rouge! It is such a pretty, friendly city. When Louisiana State University wrote to my daughter in September and asked her to apply, then accepted her the next week, I got all excited. You'd think I was going to go there! The city, the school colors - purple and gold, the Tiger pride...I could barely contain myself. We decided (I persuaded) it was worth a trip to hop in the car and drive, drive, drive I-10 - willing to confront my fear of bridges and heights for a return trip to Baton Rouge and check out LSU.
Bridges! Houston Ship Channel...Lake Charles...the 18 mile "swamp" bridge...and finally the Baton Rouge Mississippi bridge... Step one: Grip steering wheel tightly, Step two: Drive, don't look down, Step three: Peel fingers from steering wheel, wipe sweaty palms. Oh, and keep breathing. Repeat, repeat, repeat...

The people are so nice there -- I love the accent, the friendliness. They make great crystal clear iced tea - "sweet or unsweet?". And could it have been a sign as we drove to our hotel I had a sense of deja vu? Actually it was the same one we stayed at our last visit - 14 years ago!

One of the front desk clerks even gave us the name of a great bakery for King Cakes - Baum's. We went to both locations. And bought two King Cakes (traditional cinnamon and Bavarian Cream), amongst other goodies. So worth the trip right there.
And a stop at Baton Rouge's Hobby Lobby for Mardi Gras craft supplies. They even print the date of Mardi Gras - February 16, 2010 - on the packages!
Will L decide upon LSU? Still up in the air. She was recruited, applied and accepted to seven different colleges and universities. So much for that idea of weeding them out. But at least we had time for another a fun mother-daughter trip adventure before she leaves the nest.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Netflix Stars - Grey Gardens

1/5 stars -- A made-for-HBO movie and the one that is getting all the buzz and awards for Drew Barrymore. What we watched of it, she did give a great performance. But movies about the mentally ill are disturbing to me, and we stuck it back in the envelope after about 30 minutes.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

On the cutting table right now - Vogue 1164

Sandra Betzina's newest Today's Fit Vogue 1164 wrap top. This was the first time I ever ran out and bought a Vogue pattern without waiting for the $3.99 sale at Jo-Ann's. Hopefully the 40% off $16.50 will be enthusiasm and money well-spent. Honestly, can you believe Vogue's new price point of $27.50?!

Anyhoo, I'm trying it in a stash fabric first - a wild leopard print. And to make things even crazier, lined with TIGER tricot. "Hoo, Peggy!" you must be thinking. Actually, the pattern calls for a stretch mesh or tricot front lining. This was from the Wally-World $1/yard table a few years back. As was the leopard print. RIP, that crazy Wal-Mart $1 table and fabric department.

In the meantime, if this turns into a winner, if anyone has sources for (sedate) stretch mesh, please let me know. I've also emailed Sandra for her suggestions. Though I'm thinking she, too, would go with the tiger tricot! : )

Friday, January 22, 2010


Boy, you gotta love the social media -- For instance, you can find Eggland's Best Eggs on Twitter, Facebook, their blog and newsletter. But you can also find the savings, too. Sign up for any or all of these and get your fill of coupons and recipes.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Thursday Tea Time

Cost: $2.19 at Super Target
Number of teabags: 18
Caffeine: Yes
Type of tea: Oolong
Steeping time: 3 minutes
Double-Dipping potential: Yes, give it 5 minutes the second time
Mix ins: Aguave Nectar, second time added a little bit of milk just for grinsies
Teabag fragrance: Tropical fruity
Ingredients: Wuyi oolong tea, orange peel, and flavors of pineapple, coconut and mango
Taste: Without the milk, the taste of mango and pineapple really comes through. Add milk, and you get more coconut flavor.
Opinion: Second time at bat for Stash and I'm impressed. Target carries quite a selection and I'll be going back to get more and see what else I can find. (So much for reducing my panty stash, lower case. haha.) I think this tea would also be fantastic iced in the warmer weather.
Rating: 4.5 teabags

Updated! Sandra Betzina's Fashion Forecast - Spring/Summer

Sandra's Spring/Summer 2010 Fashion Forecast is online now! Click here for the link.

-Here's 1165-
New patterns making their Spring catalog debut will be 1171 (a dress)...1165 (shirt which she says will take 10 pounds off. I need that NOW!)...1184 (shorts and vest)...1161 (dress). When I visited their new, revamped website this afternoon, I found this -- 1164 top also.

I really like this one!

Not knowing which current ones will be pulled to make room for these, I'd hit the next Jo-Ann $3.99 Vogue sale and grab the ones you've been wanting before they are gone.

Tonight, Tonight, Tonight!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Penzeys Mardi Gras recipes

A new Gulf Coast recipe every Tuesday until Mardi Gras, February 16! Click here for this week's recipe - Grillades and Grits.

Today's Favorite iPod Workout Song

"Fort Knox", Goldfish

This is from the current Kia Soul car commercial, the one with hamsters. Try this mid-tempo song the next time you are on your hamster wheel, er, treadmill!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Today's Favorite iPod Workout Songs

"Haven't Met You Yet" - Michael Buble'

"Tik Tok" - Kesha (or Ke$ha)

"Uprising" - Muse

Friday, January 15, 2010

Cinnamon Raisin Bread - Bread Machine Version

Another favorite bread machine recipe from Betty Crocker's Bread Machine Cookbook. The Sun Maid Organic Raisins at Costco are smaller, so you'll get more in each slice! And the new Penzeys Cinnamon blend adds a perfect cinnamon-ness.

For 1 pound size, 1-1/2 pound size in (x)

3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon water (1 cup plus 2 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon margarine or butter, softened (2 tablespoons)
2 cups bread flour (3 cups)
2 tablespoons sugar (3 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon salt (1 1/2 teaspoons)
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon (1 teaspoon)
1 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons)
1/2 cup raisins (3/4 cup)

Place ingredients in your machines recommended order. Add the raisins at the Raisin/Nut signal or 5-10 minutes before the last kneading cycle ends.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

A peek inside the closet

No, not mine - Leanne Marshall's from Project Runway. She has lots of cool clothes, be sure to mouse over the top of the photo for the descriptions. Here's the link, thank you Project Rungay guys!

Don't forget, Season 7 of Project Runway starts tonight...they are back in NYC! Yay!

Thursday Tea Time

Cost: $2.29 at Super Target
Number of teabags: 18
Caffeine: No, decaf
Type of tea: Black
Steeping time: 3 minutes
Double-Dipping potential: Yes, thank goodness! Give it 5-6 minutes Mix ins: Sugar, milk
Teabag fragrance: Chocolate!
Ingredients: Decaf black tea, natural flavor of chocolate, natural flavor of vanilla nut, natural flavor of hazelnut
Taste: CHOCOLATE! Vanilla and hazelnut just add to the smoothness and yummy-ness. Not bitter at all. Wonderful, addicting aftertaste. Oh, I figured out what it reminds me of -- those chocolate Necco wafers!
Opinion: Finally after two weeks of yucks, this is a yum! So much that I practically gulped it and am running back out to the store and buying more. Notice that CHOCOLATE is the first word. And justifiably so. It even looks like hot chocolate when you add a little milk, per their suggestion. Bonus it is decaf, as I can knock back mucho cups without short-circuiting.
Rating: 5+ teabags!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A is For Apron - 25 Fresh & Flirty Designs

A is For Apron - 25 Fresh & Flirty Designs by Nathalie Mornu, 2008. Library Call No. 646.48
ISBN: 978-1-60059-201-0

Aprons are hot! There are lots of other books, magazines and websites devoted to aprons - Stampington & Company's Apronology, The Apron Book, etc. I honestly didn't know which of the ones out there this was, when my daughter was at the library and said, "I found that apron book, Mom!"
Major drawback - having to photocopy and enlarge the patterns 400%. Unless you have Kinko's nearby, this could be problematic with your ordinary library copier. Others have suggested a two-step approach of photocopying the patterns and then taking that page and getting it enlarged. And here's a helpful link to scan the patterns into your computer and use Adobe Photoshop, but that is a bit too computer-y for moi.
The designs and ideas are very cute. But one thing you should do before attempting any of them is to go the Lark Books website for a list of corrections and revised templates! FIFTEEN pages!! (Flashback visions of a bread machine cookbook which one recipe called for one tablespoon of salt instead of one teaspoon and the resulting bread disaster are going across my brain right now.)
With the above in mind, perhaps you, too, may want to just check it out from the libary, enjoy the photos of the vintage aprons and learn her techniques -- then hit a Big Four 99 cent pattern sale to tweak and create your own.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Betty Crocker Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Dessert Bars

Like a Peanut Butter Cup on steroids! Whoa!

No bake, you just need a microwave and refrigerator. And a 4-cup size microwave-safe bowl. I washed it between the crust and filling preparation steps.
Trying to watch the fat a little bit, I used Smart Balance 50/50 Blend stick for the chocolate crust mix. Smart Balance tends to be a bit salty and I thought I could hide it better in the crust. And reduced the 1/4 cup butter (unsalted) by a tablespoon for the peanut butter filling. I think I could even go down another tablespoonful next time, as the peanut butter is already creamy.
So rich and so good! At first when you see the box sized pan you think, "15 servings?" Believe it. A little piece will satisfy big...

Cooking Light - Fettuccine Alfredo with Bacon

From the January/February 2010 issue, page 26.

Fettucine Alfredo with Bacon

Funny story -- we were doing a viral Facebook status post, where you pick up the closest book and turn to page 56 and then post the 5th sentence as your status. Three of us mentioned along the way we had to move our Threads and Cooking Light issues aside on the coffee table. One person later said on page 56 in the January-February issue it mentioned this recipe on page 26. So we did our own status for tonight's dinner!

Typical as with most of my Cooking Light recipe attempts, this effort also produced a dishwasherful of pots, pans and utensils. And it always helps to prestage your ingredients - mise en place. Because once you start, you go. This recipe was no exception.

I was able to find the recommended Niman Ranch bacon on sale at Super Target for $3.69. I was happy it didn't have nitrates and I liked the taste. I'll run back there to grab a couple more packages for the freezer. And I used boxed fettucine instead of the refrigerated fresh kind, saving some more money. I thought the called-for two pieces of bacon were a bit on the stingy side. Seriously, look at website/magazine photo. Maybe my pieces were larger, but as it was, pieces were being stolen off of each other's plates during dinner. Really, two pieces of bacon total to be divy'd up for three people? Four servings as the official recipe yield?! I cooked five slices and picked the fat off, thinking the extra, if any, could be used for breakfast taquitos in the morning. Ha! The sauce wasn't super thick, but it coated the fettucine nicely. A bit labor intensive, I can see why most people would just open a jar of alfredo sauce and be done with it.

Overall it was yummy, and I would make it again. Especially if I need bacon for other recipe, this would be a nice partner meal for the leftovers.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Upcoming Jo-Ann's Pattern Sales

January 14/16 - Butterick $1.99

Winter Warm-Up Sale - January 17/23

Simplicity 99 cents
50% off Red Tag fabrics
50% off coupons
50% off Gutermann thread - Psst! Includes multipacks!

January 28/30 - McCall's $1.99 and Vogue $3.99

January 10/30 - Limited edition Jo-Ann's label Coats & Clark all purpose black and white thread, 400 yards - 82 cents.

Penzeys Free Cajun Seasoning Coupon Code

Get ready for Mardi Gras with Penzeys new and improved Cajun Seasoning. Their latest catalog features a coupon for a free jar. The code for online or phone orders is 20835C. Offer expires March 31, 2010

And the recipes -- Cajun Chicken Salad...Hurry-up Jambalaya...Bayou Shrimp...Chicken on a Stick...Cajun Steak are also in the Winter 2010 catalog. (Red Beans and Rice recipe is online.)

"That's Clever!" featuring Houston ASG member tomorrow!

"That's Clever", an HGTV show, is showing American Sewing Guild Houston Chapter's Joanne Carpenter's Pink Poodle project on Tuesday, January 12 at 6:30 a.m.., CST. Joanne, a long-time member of the ASG and HAFA-Houston Area Fiber Artists, was filmed at her home about three years ago and has been waiting all this time for her segment to air!

Netflix Stars - Up

3.75/5 stars It was cute and enjoyable, yet pretty poignant in some places. Pixar's animation talent bar goes higher and higher - Up! I was disappointed the DVD didn't have any special features, only previews and the movie.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Not only do we all get along here...but we're already prewired for fun!

"...adventuresome....push the envelope....rebellious....a sense of humor"-- descriptions of creative people mentioned in today's CBS SundayMorning report, "The Wellspring of American Creativity"

And our brains are wired differently. According to Dr. Nancy Andreasen. "...what I have found so far is that, yes, people who are highly creative do have different patterns of activity in their brain, a much more highly developed capacity to see relationships, to make associations."

Score one for us creative wackies.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Honey Corn Bread

With all this "chili" weather, what better to go-with than some Honey Corn Bread? Especially a recipe from Betty Crocker. As previously blogged (see Cream Cheese Rolls, Cinnamon Rolls, Spicy Apple Bread, Garlic Basil Bread, Parmesan Pine Nut Bread), I love her bread machine recipes! This is from another one of her bread machine cookbooks. (which also has a great pumpernickel bread -- to be posted soon).

It turned out really good, with a nice texture - not coarse, almost soft. And it is not overly sweet, the honey flavor is just in the background. I liked Betty's suggestions about using the leftovers as croutons and homemade bread crumbs. Here are the directions for the 1-1/2 pound loaf.

1 egg plus enough water to equal one cup
1/3 cup honey
3 tablespoons butter, softened
3 cups bread flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
2 tablespoons dry milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoons yeast
Select Basic/White cycle and Light or Medium crust color (I used the Light). Enjoy!
P.S. Also good to note how fresh this bread lasts, even two days later!

Friday, January 08, 2010


I realize in other parts of the country, this is nothing. But for us, it is - Houston is somewhat "tropical" -- we have (HAD) banana trees, palm trees and plumeria in our gardens... We should defrost on Monday.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Thursday Tea Time

Cost: $2.99 at Kroger
Number of teabags: 20 - those cool pyramid kind.
Caffeine: Yes, 35mg
Type of tea: Black
Steeping time: 3 minutes
Mix ins: Sugar, milk
Teabag fragrance: Caramel, especially stronger after brewing.
Ingredients: Black tea, caramel powder, corn starch, natural flavor, sunflower lecithin. 90mg of antioxidants
Taste: Caramel first, then a touch of vanilla. Smooth, but with a black tea after-kick.
Opinion: Not bad, especially good for Lipton. The string around the bag threw me for a loop. Literally, it is looped twice around the pyramid. Once again I managed to pull out the cord, thinking it was another one of those drawstring type. Sigh.
Rating: 3.5 out 5 teabags. It's not bad. Not ecstatic wonderful, but not trashcan worthy either. I think this would be a good box to bring into work and leave in the breakroom. If they are still around when you get the urge for it, fine. If not, no tears.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Don't Be Blah - Parmesan Pork Tenderloin

Yes, that is the new tagline for "The Other White Meat - Don't Be Blah"!
Especially after I doctored this recipe up a notch -- with a dash of cayenne pepper, onion and garlic powder to the bread/parmesan mixture. I skipped the zucchini/squash step and served with baked potato and dilled carrots. This cooked up fast on the stove top -- 2-3 minutes per side -- and browned really nicely. I also just sliced it 1/2" thick, skipping the pounding step. I will make this again. Especially in the warmer months when you don't want to heat up the house with the oven.
Here's the recipe from The National Pork Board. I actually found the recipe in an ad in the October issue of Southern Living magazine.

Parmesan Pork Tenderloin

1 pound pork tenderloin
3 tablespoons fine dry bread crumbs
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 small zucchini or summer squash, thinly sliced

Cut tenderloin crosswise into 12 slices, approximately 3/4-inch thick. Place each slice on its cut surface and flatten with heel of hand to 1/2-inch thickness. Combine crumbs, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper; dredge pork slices to coat. Heat oil over medium-high heat in nonstick pan. Sauté pork for 2-3 minutes per side; remove and keep warm. Add onion, garlic and zucchini or squash to skillet and sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Serves 4.

Serving Suggestions
Add seasoned bread crumbs to add more kick to this dish. Serve these breaded pork medallions with tortellini and sautéed summer squash.

Nutrition Facts
Calories: 168 calories...Protein: 17 grams...Fat: 9 grams...Sodium: 279 milligrams...Cholesterol: 51 milligrams...Saturated Fat: 2 grams...Carbohydrates: 5 grams...Fiber: 1 gram

Free Gooseberry Patch Breakfast & Brunch recipe booklet

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