Tuesday, November 18, 2008

My Pillow

Yesterday was my first sewing class, and I successfully completed my pillow!! Aren't you so proud of me!?!? I have enough yardage to make a second pillow, so I'm going to undertake that in a day or so. But, of course, I have to purchase all of the cutting supplies, which means another trip to JoAnn's :)

Like a child holding up a finger painting...

The pillow in all of it's glory!
Now that I have the pillow (and soon-to-be two pillows) I have no idea what to do with them... I wish we had our sofa!! I'm planning on taking a basic quilting class in January, so until then:
1. I'm going to practice threading/re-threading my machine on a (somewhat) regular basis.
2. I'm going to practice threading the bobbin on a (somewhat) regular basis.
3. I'm going to practice sewing a straight line on a (somewhat) regular basis.
If you know of any basic, beginner projects that would be good for me, please let me know!! If I can't find anything else, I'll be making 14"x14" pillows for months-on-end and everyone will be getting one for Christmas :)

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Barefoot Contessa

SIDE NOTE: Although only one person commented on the calendar post, it's been amazing to hear from others (by email and phone) about similar experiences. It seems like everyone has the same grievance. SO, if anyone is talented in the business world and wants a project... I think there is a market for the perfect calendar :)

When my parents decided to re-do their home, I was so lucky in receiving their discarded items. Among these treasures were a wealth of cookbooks, including a set of The Barefoot Contessa Cookbooks. My adorable sorority little sis, Lauren, is quite enamored with The Barefoot Contessa, so I have been pouring through the books eying recipe after recipe that I want to try. But, then it just goes on the shelf with all of the other cookbooks. When it comes around to picking my weekly recipes, I'm overwhelmed at the thought of looking through all of my cookbooks and picking out recipes we will enjoy.

SO, today I selected the 4 Barefoot Contessa cookbooks and flagged and labeled the recipes that interest me. To me, the great part is the labeling (the 1" wide post-it flags worked perfectly for this and our local dollar store has the generic brand for only $1). Simply by pulling the book off of the shelf, I'll be able to see in just a glance the selection of recipes in there. I've flagged recipes often, but these new, labeled flags will actually provide the info I need to make decisions. (Any yes, I know my pic is bad).

Note: I did not flag any of her desserts... they are all amazing and there would be no point in flagging every page!

Her cookbooks are truly beautiful, and she has great sections full of good information, such as how to make a schedule, or what to do with finicky eaters. The photos are incredible, but I do wish she had more. It's very, very difficult for me to select a recipe if I don't know what the final product is going to be. I must be a visual learner :)

In the future (when I'm whipping up yummy, pink applesauce and making beautiful hand-made cards), I want to have a spreadsheet database of recipes. I'm sure there must be some program out there that does this, but for now I'm happy with my Post-Its!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

My Husband Consumes Everything

Matt came home late from work the other night, so I heated up some soup for him. Yes, the bowl is about as big as his head and he ate everything. I loved it!

Friday, November 14, 2008

My Calendar Dilema

From monthly, to weekly, to daily... from mini, to desk, to wall, to virtual... I feel like I have tried nearly every calendar out there. My most recent attempt was Google calendar, but it just didn't feel right.

I like the idea of a virtual calendar, but I think I'm just one of those people that need to actually hold my the papers in my hands. But, it's not exactly convenient to carry around a big calendar. I refuse to even try in the wallet size systems again... there is no space! I have determined that I don't like the day-view calendars; I need more perspective. So, it comes down to a week view (which gives me more perspective but still not as much as I'd like) or a monthly view (which doesn't have enough room for writing and details).

Oh, the drama of it all!!!

I'm currently using a week-view calendar and I am missing the monthly view. I might have to learn how coordinate both :) I'd love to have an integrated space where I can plan errands, chores, shopping lists, etc. But, all of the calendars I've seen that incorporate that type of things hardly provide the necessary space to do that.

I obviously want to have my cake and eat it, too... Regardless of my calendar pipe-dreams, I will continue to search for that most perfect of calendar systems. If you happen to know of anything I'd like, feel free to let me know!!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Being a Good Steward of My Time

Side Note: I haven't fallen off the domestic wagon... I have just misplaced the converter for my memory card, so I can't upload photos of my various projects (I have been busy organizing and decorating for Christmas). I think I'll have to break down and buy a new converter...

Now that I'm taking time off and focusing on being a house wife (which I am LOVING), I am trying to be more conscious of how I spend this so-called "free time". I'll be the first to admit that I love the extra rest I get each morning, but I'd like to think that most of time at home isn't so self-indulgent :) I'm getting involved with various non-profits and trying to develop skills like crafting and sewing (much harder than they sound), and I like to think I'm getting better about keeping a clean and organized home. I like Matt coming home to a welcoming, comfortable space :) I am also learning about comparison shopping and getting good deals, which is helping the budget!

It is a challenge, though! I'm an infamous procrastinator (just ask my college roomie, Kim) and sometimes I hurriedly put the house together just before Matt gets home. If anyone has any encouraging stories or useful strategies, I'd love to know!

Monday, November 10, 2008

My Love/Hate Relationship With Martha

I hate Martha Stewart, and I love her.

Whenever I make a recipe from her book, it requires either:

a) some weird ingredient that I cannot find in the surrounding 50 miles;

b) some weird technique that require me watching online videos for 20 minutes just to sort-of understand it; and/or

c) a new, funky piece of equipment that I will never, ever use again.

But, does any of this stop me?? Not really- I still want to do it all. I start looking around her site and 2 hours later I'm trying to figure out how to dry corn-husks ,or I'm convinced that I too can make a leaf-lattice pie crust. Regardless, she is getting more accessible... and I'm getting more realistic. I've set up my online profile at her site and have more projects/recipes than I know what to do with. But, here's just a taste of what's my Martha List:


Tex-Mex Chicken Stew

Chicken with Ginger

Gingerbread Snowflakes


Sewing on Paper

Monogrammed Boxes

I also get her daily emails about cookies, organizing, crafts, etc (thanks, Lara!) and even though I won't do even 10% of them, it's a great inspiration to do something creative. Even her emails look cute...

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Making Cards

First off, thanks for all of the apple sauce recipes!! I now want to un-freeze all of apples and try again- this time on the stove top. I tasted my apple sauce again yesterday- way too much cinnamon. So, that'll be another adjustment!

I received such a beautiful, hand-made thank you card from my sweet friend, Juliet last week! The picture below does not do it justice, but she did so well mixing colors, themes, and textures. It isn't surprising, of course- Juliet is a genius with projects like this! So after a nice trip to Michael's, I decided to give card making a try...

Juliet's card: my inspiration!

I'd like to say that the picture doesn't do wonderful things for this first-ditch effort... the colors do look better in person. But, it's obvious I have a lot to learn.

This one turned out better... again, the colors didn't translate well in the picture. I like the ribbon aspect, so I may need to get some more ribbon options :)

I noticed that I really need a paper cutter and ruler- I cannot cut straight lines!! I think that I will also get a card making kit; it'll provide all of the coordinating elements and then I just to put it together. I think I was too ambitious in doing everything without any guidance. Hopefully I'll collect a good amount of papers, ribbons, stamps, etc over the next few months and can learn how to blend together. Once I get the hang of this card-making thing, I'll be sure to post some cute ones so you can see my progress :)
If you have experience in making cards, feel free to pass on tips!! I'm looking for all of the help I can get.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Home Made Apple Sauce

It was a first for me, yesterday- I made home made apple sauce!! I had lots of left over apples and while I froze about 8 cups of sliced apples (for breads, pies, etc), I decided to use 6 of the small ones for apple sauce. I made it in a crockpot, so the method is a bit untraditional. But, it made our cottage smell so yummy for hours and hours while it cooked. Here is a link to recipe:

What I Did:
I chose this recipe because it was simple, straight-forward, and only had 1T of sugar in it. I used bottled lemon juice and 6 small apples, in leiu of 4 large apples. To mash the apples, I used my potato masher and had excellent results. It made about 2 cups of apple sauce, which we will eat through the week. Apple sauce is also easy to freeze (and I've heard it can last years), so if you have a lot of apples or little kiddos, apple sauce could be a good idea.

What I Learned:
If I could do it over again, I would use 2 more small apples. There was a bit too much liquid left after cooking. Also, the apple sauce is very orange, and I don't know why! Maybe the cinnamon I used dyed everything?? The apple sauce is good, but it's missing a flavor... not quite sure what it is.

If you happen to have a good apple sauce recipe, please let me know!!

My First Sewing Machine

It came in the mail yesterday (yea for sales on Amazon.com) and while I have no idea how to plug it in (much less use it), I am so, so excited to finally learn how to sew! I am taking a Beginner's Machine class in a few weeks where I will make a 14"x14" pillow.

After about 45 minutes in JoAnn's Fabrics, I finally picked this snowflake print for my pillow.

I was shocked at how much sewing boxes were (only $30, but still... that seems like a lot for a box...), so I'm just using an extra box we had at home. I don't have a lot of supplies, so it works well for now! Not only do I have all of these supplies, but I actually know what they're called!! And, in just a few weeks, I'll actually know how to use them :)

Am I Really This Bored??

I have decided to start a new blog, in addition to The Franck Files. This way, I have a dedicated space to chronicle my life as I become a home maker. It will include new recipes, projects, and all of the successes and failures I endure in the process. Feel free to check back and laugh!