Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Cooking: Soup with Butternut Squash, Spinach and Sausage Ravioli (Recipe)

Happy Halloween! We are taking the girls trick-or-treating tonight in their store bought costumes. (See this post for my slacker approach to Halloween.) If you are celebrating the spooky holiday I hope it is safe and silly and filled with friends rather than scary! At least that's the way I like it. I am just happy about mild Fall weather and an evening of walking around.

I just love soup season! Don't you? I could eat it every day when it's cool outside. Not to mention the one-pot simplicity, the general good-for-you characteristics and the endless variety. I probably don't need to convince you....

Because I've been battling a cold and wanted some comfort food rather than the typical snack-y lunch, I decided to make a soup yesterday with some ravioli I picked up at Costco. I wasn't expecting much, just thought it would be nice to eat the pasta in some warm broth, but it was a winner! And it's healthy. So I thought I'd share the recipe. Would be a great one to eat before heading off for an evening walk in the leaves.

The ravioli is a trendy chicken sausage with kale. I love getting those good greens and decided to up the nutritional value by throwing in some spinach too. Potato would be great in this soup but I went with butternut squash--the more colorful the better, right? Plus I love the sweetness. You can taste the carrot in this particular vegetable sotck and it tastes really when it's preceded by some sauteed onions (reminds me of a carrot/onion soup I love). I'm telling you, the combination is great!

Click through to read the recipe.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Sewing: Silver Quilted Mini Skirt (Tutorial)

Have you seen some of the quilted minis around? I love this one from crewcuts! And I've seen some cute sporty ones for women too (like this one and this one) but really, what woman can afford the extra padding?

So I decided to make one for Audrey. She loves sporty and she loves comfortable. Perfect.

I saw this fabric when I was picking up something else at Joann and then made a return trip to get it. I think the silver with a slight sheen is great for this skirt, but are you ready? It's ironing board cover fabric! I didn't even realize it until I was asked at the cutting table if I were making hotpads. Well, "who cares?" I thought: so it will be comfortable and sporty AND flameproof!

I think I got away with it because my husband didn't even blink when Audrey put this on. Did I?

There are other less utilitarian quilted fabrics around if you are interested. Such as these solid broadcloth quilted fabrics and these nylon ripstop versions. I love the nylon! Might have to make another...

Audrey seems to like the skirt, but these days it doesn't guarantee that it will be worn again... Oh, it's getting tricky. I was happy that she enjoyed it long enough to play in the leaves, and she did wear it to visit some friends this weekend to. So maybe I'm getting warmer. (I made her shirt too, which she likes without reservation, but more on that later...)

Fun to photograph my oldest. It seems like it's been a while. She was having such a great time playing in the leaves. And she looks so much older lately it is killing me!

As I was just saying, time moves so quickly...

 Want to make a quilted mini? I've got a tutorial. It's so easy! Click to read more.

Friday, October 26, 2012

FYI: Admittedly Deadline case you didn't notice

We're coming into that time of year when we seem to move from one deadline to the next. I think that's part of the reason I love January 1st so much--I always have a huge sense of relief from having met all the holiday deadlines, or in some cases just let them pass! But if I am being honest I must say that I operate in deadline mode most of the time. I guess I enjoy it, or I wouldn't do it.

In my professional life I thrived on meeting deadlines. I was the type you could count on. While I often resented the pressure they imposed, the truth is deadlines forced me to up my game and I loved the idea of "pulling it off." Especially if it was a real challenge. A friend said to me once (actually about a challenge I didn't sign up for) "if we were never forced to rise to the occasion we probably wouldn't." I guess that is why I keep imposing deadlines on myself: parties with a ridiculously time-intensive handmade concepts, home improvements for the next gathering we host, new handmade clothing for the next family trip... No matter the event I seem to take a fixed date and line up a bunch of work against it.

I do it because I get more done when I am under pressure. And I like to get things done because then I can enjoy the result, and it means I am in the clear to move on to the next thing on my list. And why do I have a list? Because there are just so many things that need or want to be done! And time seems so short, doesn't it? Children grow too quickly, and seasons change before we've fully enjoyed the one we're in, and it seems I barely have time to clean up breakfast after taking the girls to school in the morning when it's time for them to come home again.

My husband has wondered aloud to me more than a few times why I complain about not having enough time and then turn around and volunteer to host a family dinner or take on some other assignment. We've often laughed about my "learning disability" of misjudging the actual time it takes me to to do something. I'm always trying to cram more in than I physically have time for. 

I figure if I aim for the ridiculous some good stuff will actually get done. And I'll feel good about accomplishing it, and others will enjoy the party, or appreciate the clothing, or be pleasantly surprised the handmade Christmas gifts.

But, deadline-driven though I am, I am tempering it a bit. Honest.  I've realized I can't always be in high-gear, nor do I want to. I end up inevitably dropping things off my list a few days before any given party. I catch myself saying, " I need to...." and correct it with, "well, I WANT to...."  I save the craziness for after the girls' bedtime (OK, sometimes during Tess's nap time too) and try to pace myself a bit more than I used to. Because as much as I love getting things done, I love the people for whom I am doing them more.  And because the people these days are my family, not my clients or coworkers, I need to remind myself that they value my time more than my accomplishments (assuming there is still something to eat for dinner!). It's a tricky transition for a workhorse but I am working on it.

What about you? Are you deadline-driven too? Or do you have a different way of getting things done?

My "FYI" posts share news or a perspective about something that's been on my mind. You can read them all here.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Sewing: Brown Corduroy Capris with Cabbage Roses

I couldn't resist sewing more Fall clothes for the girls once I got on the roll of KCWC (see this post and this post). So I kept going and going. I sewed all week. It was a bit nutty because I was also supposed to be getting ready for a big family trip. But in my crazy compulsive way I was thinking the sewing also accomplished the goal of identifying clothing to pack for the girls. I know...  But it does, right?

In my defense, the sewing went relatively quickly because I wasn't slowing down to document a tutorial or draft a pattern. It was such a nice change! And I was so excited to use this chocolate brown corduroy with cabbage roses out of my recently acquired Fall corduroy stash. Isn't it perfect?! I think this rich brown with red and blue is an over-the-top combination. I wish the Etsy shop had had more than the mere 1/2 yard I was able to buy. For your sakes too! Maybe they'll get it back in...

I sewed Tess some capri length Bloomers from my Summer Set pattern (which I have been using for all sorts of Fall layering pieces) and pulled out a boiled wool top (pattern for this top here) I'd started last Spring and finished it to go with the pants. I couldn't think of a cozier set for the Fall or our ensuing trip to British Columbia!

So Tess and her new Fall outfit and the rest of us headed north to spend the better part a week sharing a house on an island with some good friends. I can't even believe the rarity of that sort of trip. What a gift! It was beautiful even though that beauty include rain and mist and cold. We had a great time. Now that we're back I'm sure our girls will miss being part of that pack of kids running around.

There was so much to do related to the coast (finding starfish, catching crab, looking for seals...) that it might have been easy to pass up the interior of the island but I'm so glad we didn't. We all described it as an enchanted forest. I couldn't get over the moss everywhere. And filtered light. And crawling things.

And there were falling leaves bigger than any I've seen. Truly! Tess, Audrey and Scarlett were fascinated. Such a great landscape for adventures!

It's so important to share adventures, don't you think? Part of the enjoyment is thinking about how we'll remember it later.

And now that we're home again there are all sorts of things waiting for us. Holidays, changing temperatures, our regular, wonderful routine... I love coming home. Can't wait to do the next thing. Not sure what it is but that's part of the fun.

Friday, October 19, 2012

"Sewn Hats" Giveaway Winner

And we have a winner of the Sewn Hats book!

emily said...

"i would love to make that engineers hat! it would be super cute on my 18 month old boy and 7 year old girl! i love it! "

Congratulations, Emily! Please send me an email with your mailing address and we'll get a book out to you.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Room Design: Family Room Update

Some months ago my husband commented on the fact that our round table only seated four... It's funny how I hadn't thought about that. Perhaps because Tess was always sitting in the high chair. But obviously we needed a table for five. So we started table hunting. And one thing led to another... We found this table at Crate&Barrel and it is supposed to have an indestructible top. Perfect for children. But I still end up covering it all the time because it is heavily textured and difficult to clean up spills. Oil cloth is perfect for that (except for the PVC! yikes, I know... but laminated cotton is just not the same). I had been using some brightly colored tablecloths I made a few years ago but it was such a clash.

So I looked for something more neutral and found this great silver oilcloth and tan polka dot oilcloth to use for a tablecloht and splat mat. What a difference! Don't know why I didn't do this long ago. (The kitchen table is where my laptop is usually sitting so I can steal a minute to check email while eating lunch or breakfast...)

We got the higher chairs (bar stools) at IKEA and they work great for the three girls. At some point we'll have to replace the rest of the chairs, which I bought before we were married.

We were lucky enough to replace a sectional couch we'd had for what seemed like forever. I never really liked the couch when we got it, but there just were not that many options then for a sectional and nothing else would fit down the stairway in the basement. I had no idea how long you have to keep a couch. The old one was a khaki-gold and we had the wall painted a similar color and every photo we took in that room turned out horribly! It seems strange, but I finally realized that color was really unflattering...! And since we gather so often in this room, and take photos in here, we had to repaint. (Have you ever noticed in interior design magazines when they talk about a wall color being "really flattering"? Now I get it.)

So now we have a grey couch (also Crate&Barrel) and grey walls (Martha Stewart's "Cement Gray": MSL266 from Home Depot) and I like it so much better! I had to come up with some new throw pillows for the couch. I found some different fabrics--a few Ikat inspired--but I realized I prefer a more monochromatic look with some interesting textures on the couch so I used the patterns for the floor pillows. I found these great mongolian lamb pillows at West Elm. They are incredibly soft. I love them but my children love them even more, which makes me really happy!

Because it is the family room, afterall! It's not easy to balance budget, design and kid-friendly function, is it? Sometimes we wonder if it's worth it to replace the worn-out when everything takes a beating. But on the other hand, does it make sense to put off little improvements indefinitely when they would make your surroundings more enjoyable every day? How do you do it?

(They all love the blanket I made for their dad last Christmas too. I should make some more of those!)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Sewing: Grey Velveteen Jumper

So are you sewing this week? I love the KCWC challenge of sewing everyday, but there have been times I've felt a bit ridiculous trying to fit it in! I was fantasizing about sewing something from start to finish every day but it's worked out that I've been straddling the night with my projects. I always seem to hit the wall and figure I'll find a few minutes the next morning to deal with the final details. Whatever works, right?

I am happy about the fact that I've managed this week to finish three items of clothing for my girls, and I've cut out two others. And the week isn't over yet! I love that I've dipped into some of my stash and made some of the things I've been hoping to add to the Fall wardrobes. Let's just not talk about the things I haven't done...

It all seemed ok though when I showed Scarlett this jumper on our ride home from preschool and she said, "Cute! Cute!"  I almost couldn't believe it. Really?! I was ready to talk about bribes but she was excited to wear it. She didn't mind the photo-taking detour. She loves it! And why wouldn't she? It's soft and simple and easy. There's a lesson there.

The jumper is sewn from a grey cotton velveteen I purchased early this year here when I was on a hunt for it. Strangely difficult to find. It is so much easier to work with than rayon or silk velvet--I love it! The pattern is my Summer Set dress. Someone wrote and asked if this pattern could be used for a Fall/Winter jumper and I thought, "Yes! And I need to make one!"

I used grey shell buttons for the back. I've always loved those. And I pinned a felted flower corsage to the front (tutorial here). Would be darling with a long knitted or crochet scarf too, don't you think? I almost threw one on her but Scarlett picked the flower.

I think we'll get a lot of wear out of this one. We both can't wait for her to put it on again.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Sewing: Corduroy Rose Bloomers

Have I mentioned that I am a finisher? I am. I can't wait to finish whatever it is I am working on so I can move on to the next thing on my list. This is not to say that I don't enjoy what I'm doing at a given moment--it's more about the excitement I feel about the other things waiting for me. So I love Elsie Marley's KCWC. It's so tempting to see if I can buckle down and get some clothing sewn.

It's Tuesday and I have something to show for it. Yippee!

I took some of the corduroy I purchased a few weeks ago (I bought this floral from this Etsy shop) when I was in a Fall mood and made Tess a pair of Fall bloomers. These are from my Summer Set pattern and I've been wanting to make them in a cozier version. I think Bloomers with tights or leggings are great on kids when it's cooler, don't you? Some women can pull this off too, but I'm not among them, so I'll stick with enjoying this look on my girls.

I love the idea of quickly sewing some things to add to my girls' closets for Fall, so I'm going to try and keep up with the blogland momentum this week. More corduroy pants and some velvet something.... If only I could be knitting or crocheting at the same time. It would be so fun to have a little cardigan to go with these shorts. Maybe I'll get there. But the Sedge Stitch Cowl works for now. And Tess likes it too.

Aren't these gold Fall flowers the greatest? I picked some of them--they literally grow like weeds--for Scarlett's birthday party last Fall. I can't get enough of being outdoors! Especially the since it's warmed again just a bit. Even Tess jumps up and down when she hears me say, "hike." "Hike?! Hike?!" she says? Such the adventurer.

 I hope you're happily sewing or doing something else to celebrate Fall this week!

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