Thursday, June 25, 2009

I Made This Dress!

A couple months ago, I saw Heather Ross on the Martha show.  Heather and Martha made a faux smocked dress using elastic thread.  I saw the instructions on Martha's website, but decided I would buy Heather's book, Weekend Sewing, and get the real instructions.  Well, I am sorry to say, the instructions in the book were no better.  I trolled to internet to see what other people who made the smocked dress had to say.  

Well, other people's dresses looked good.  Must be my sewing machine I decided.  I gave up on that dress, and tried the Flower Girl dress from Weekend Sewing.

I bought the fabric a Joann's, intending to make B a skirt.  But, I was bound and determined to make a dress, and here it is:

It wasn't easy, but it wasn't hard either.  I had a lot of trouble getting the gathering even on the skirt.  I also had trouble with my machine.  Mike keeps telling me to get a new one, but, until now, I haven't listened.  When I was sewing the hem, my machine would chunk, and then I would get a nest of bobbin thread on the fabric.  YUCK!  Still, I am happy that the dress turned out as well as it did.  It isn't the prettiest when the skirt meets the top.  Here's to hoping B will actually wear it.

Monday, June 22, 2009

On the Table or in the Trash: Strawberry Short Cake and Icebox Cake

We had a busy weekend.  My friend Sandy was in town from Seattle, and we had dinner at our house Friday.  Saturday was swimming at my sister's.  Sunday was Father's Day and Mike's Dad came for dinner (Mike made homemade pizza (YUM) and I made the usual bruschetta salad.  I made the same salad on Friday but with french bread.  Not good, the bread has to be ciabatta).

Mike asked me to make icebox cake for Father's Day.  An idea he got from Deb at Smitten Kitchen.  I said OK, but first I wanted to make Deb's Strawberry Shortcake for Friday.  Our Green Market had great strawberries last week, so I also make strawberry sour cream ice cream.  

Here is a photo of the shortcake (we have compact
florescent lights, hence the yellow hue).  Don't
they look pretty?

Well, the taste, not so good.  Metallic from the 20 grams of baking powder.  Who knew.  So, I will be looking for Clabber Girl, Bob's Red Mill or Rumford Baking powder.  Thanks for the info Deb!!!!  So, we ate the cakes, but good thing we had ice cream too.  So On The Table for the recipe, In The Trash for the baking powder.

I wanted to make the Ice Box Cake Saturday evening, because it needs to be refrigerated overnight, but we got home late from Lee's and I was tired.  Oh, but my sister and brother in law made fabulous BBQ chicken, they brined it first.  It was so good.  

Back to the cake.  I put it together Sunday morning around 8, and we ate it around 6:30.  It was perfect.  I topped it with cocoa powder and chocolate.  I almost want to through the rest away, because I want to eat it all!  

Here is the beautiful ice box cake.
It as easy as it was tasty. 

So check out Smitten Kitchen.  She has wonderful recipes.  I want to try Deb's Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake.  Actually chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting and chocolate peanut butter glaze.  Total contest between that and carrot cake for my birthday.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

B's New Bed

Saturday was a rainy day, so what to do?  We went over to Bolingbrook to pick up a prescription (Mike's dad owns a pharmacy there) and hit Ikea afterward.  Ahhhh..... Ikea.  I love Ikea.  We don't buy a huge amount from there.  But it a great place for ideas, organization tools, batteries, cinnamon rolls and ice cream.  We bought a couple large frames for B's art work, a clock for the craft room, AA batteries, some sea creature finger puppets and a bed for B.

We have been talking to B about about a bed of her own for awhile.  She has resisted so far.  She wanted to keep sleeping with me.  But, when she saw all the little beds at Ikea, she was hooked.  Especially when she got to pick out her own duvet and pillow.

Our original plan was to get a mattress and frame to fit the bed Mike's Dad made for B.  He made her a beautiful crib which could be converted to a head and foot board.  And, when she gets used to sleeping in her own bed, and then her own room, we'll do that. But for now, since she is used to sleeping with me, Mike put B's bed right up against my side of our bed.  That way I can reach over and hold her hand while she falls asleep.  (Yes, B and I are clingy.  We usually cuddle together while falling asleep.)  

We brought the bed home and Mike and B put it together.  I washed to linens  - this is when I realized I bought a twin duvet that is huge in this little bed - put the sheets on and she climbed right into the bed.  She loves it.

Here, she is under the blankets.

She wakes up.

Gets out of bed and stretches.  
Repeat several times.

The first night she slept in her bed for 15 minutes before climbing in with me.  Sunday night she slept from 8 to 12:30 (she fell asleep in the car on the way home from the zoo).  Took a nap in her bed on Monday.  Last night, she fell asleep in her bed (holding my hand), slept until 6 this morning, climbed in with me to cuddle for a half hour and we got up.  She is napping there as I type.  

I will hold any suggestions of success, lest I jinks it.  

B's New Umbrella Stroller

We needed a new umbrella stroller, and this is what B helped chose.

She was very excited when it came. 
She picked the orange color.

It is called a Quinny and it meets the requirements
of being light and different.

We ended up taking a walk that evening.  She loves it.  We used it in Chicago this past Sunday and it performed well.  Folds up, firs in our trunk (our regular stroller, a Stokke, barely fits on the trunk of my car.  This left room to spare.  So far, I recommend it.  I will let you know if my opinion changes.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Bruschetta Salad

We eat at a little catering company about once a week.  For the last couple weeks or so, they have had a bruschetta salad that I love.  Well, I had to make it at home and this is the recipe I found.


Romaine lettuce, chopped - 4-6 ribs (I use whatever lettuce I have, arugula, mesclun, red leaf)
Fresh mozzarella, diced - 3 ounces (I buy the little balls and split them in half)
Roma tomatoes, sliced - 2 each (I use split cherry tomatoes)
Basil vinaigrette (see below) - about 3 ounces 
Ciabatta, split, drizzled with olive oil, and grill on the grill or in a grill pan

Basil Vinaigrette: 
Fresh basil, chopped - 8 leaves 
Olive oil - 3 tablespoons 
Red wine vinegar - ½ tablespoon 
Balsamic vinegar - 1 teaspoon 
Dijon mustard - ½ teaspoon 
Garlic, chopped - 1 clove 
Crushed red pepper - a pinch 
Salt and pepper - to taste 

I whisk the dressing in the bottom of a bowl, pile the ingredients on top, them toss.  I garnish with more basil.  It can even sit a bit.  I suppose you could add red onion, red peppers - roasted or not, cucumbers, whatever.  

Monday, June 8, 2009

Isabel in B's Stroller

I left B's stroller on the patio last Sunday.  I went to put it away, and this is what I found.  Isabel made herself very comfortable while lying in the sun.  

I made Jam! - No Cook Freezer Jam That Is.

When I went to buy jars for jam, I found this little packet of fun.  Ball Freezer Jell - No Cooking.  I bought it, thinking I'll check some reviews on the internet and maybe try it.  The reviews were good, so today, I washed up my strawberries and had at it.

Here are the instructions:

NO-COOK Freezer Jam

1. Measure 1 1/2 cups of sugar into a bowl. ADD contents of 1 pouch of Ball Fruit Jell Freezer Jam Pectin, stirring to evenly blend.

2. CRUSH fruit. ADD 4 cups crushed fruit to pectin mixture (for peaches and apricots, reduce measure to 3 1/2 cups). STIR 3 minutes.

3. LADLE freezer jam into clean freezer jars leaving 1/2 -inch headspace; apply lids. Let stand until thickened (about 30 minutes). SERVE immediately, REFRIGERATE up to three weeks or FREEZE up to 1 year.

Yield: 5 8-ounce jars 

I washed a quart of strawberries, thinking that would be enough.  
The instructions call for 4 cups of crushed fruit.  I didn't have enough
I used almost 2 quarts plus some from the freezer.

My nice clean pint jars (8oz).

Here is the packet.

And, my finished product.

The jam is sweet and a bit too chunky.  I should have pulsed the berries in the food processor.  I used a pastry blender (I don't have a potato masher) and it didn't quite cut it - literally.  I kept on jar in the fridge and froze the other 5.   I will buy more strawberries this week at the market and try cooking my jam and maybe processing it.  This sounds scary, but I have to try it!

A Visit with B's Cousins

We headed up to my sister's on Friday to visit with B's cousins and our friend Cathie P.  (That's Cathie's foot you see in the photos.)   We had a blast.  The girls are so good to B, even though it took her forever to warm up - lack of nap?  Anyway, my sister and I made a great bruschetta salad with chicken and Cathie brought the cutest and tastiest cookies.  Tiki men and lady bugs.  I ate a whole cookie plus another couple of bites!

Below is B in her new bathing suit, with her cute buns hanging out.  Her cousin Jeaner is in the pool.

These are iPhone photos, so excuse the  distortion.  I forgot my camera.  

Thursday, June 4, 2009

B at Turtle Park

This is B's new favorite park.  B calls it train park because it is near the train tracks.  B loves her trains.   It isn't the park closest to the house.  It takes about 15 minutes to walk there, but it makes B most happy.

Don't you love the black sneakers?  She had
to wear them!

She likes to climb up "Crush's" back
and slide off his head.

B Washes My Car

I am not sure words are necessary.  She is a doll, my little girl.

Cleaning the wheels.

Cleanest wheels ever!