Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Skirt of Stars


My middle sister (there are 5 of us, all sisters!) gave me a gift certificate to my favorite local fabric store for my birthday last month. So, I grabbed my fabric-junkie friend Meg and went shopping. She picked out this awesome fabric, which is something I'd allow only her to do - give her incredible eye for my tastes. I'm in love, again...


So I leaned again on the pattern I referenced in my previous post, only this time with plenty of fabric. I kept my bias-tape waistband with a drawstring ribbon, and even made some silky "bloomers" out of a pajama shorts pattern, cut on the bias of lining fabric to wear under these skirts in the summer. They've both made their debuts, at two weddings in the last 2 weeks, and they wash up and wear wonderfully. I'll be making at least one more, I think!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Skirt of Roses

I've been thinking about making a cute bias cut skirt ever since I saw this post over at Angry Chicken a few months ago. I shopped for the perfect fabric, and finally had a couple of hours to whip this lovely up last weekend. I made this with just 2 yards of quality cotton fabric, and a white ribbon from my stash. (Total cost: less than $20!)

Modifications to Amy's design:

1. 2 yards on the bias wasn't enough to both fit around my voluptuous hips/waist AND be the length I wanted it; so I cut it as long as I could to accommodate my waist measurement, and then cut a 6" bias strip out of the leftovers, piecing it together to sew along the bottom. To keep the hem from stretching while sewing, I did a quick stay-stitch along the bottom edges of each piece first thing. Then, I added the 6" strip to the front and back, and stitched up the sides, then top-stitched the seam between the strip and the bottom hem. I think this would look FABULOUS with a contrasting color along the bottom, but I can appreciate the subtle line created by the break in the pattern. Last, I just did a quick 1/4 inch hem along the bottom, being careful not to stretch as I sewed A little Bohemian, but still professional:

2. Rather than the fold-over elastic for the waist, I cut a 1 7/8" strip of fabric on the bias to make my own bias tape. (Yay, Clover bias tape makers!) I applied this along the waist, leaving an opening in the middle of the front so that I could use it as a casing for my ribbon:


The result? I love it. Flatterning, flirty and fun. No zipper, but the bias-cut allows enough stretch that a quick shimmy-shake lets me pull it on without stretching it out, and the drawstring ribbon pulls the waist in just enough to allow it the skirt to sit atop my hips without falling down or creating an unflattering muffin top. The hem hits just below the knee, a perfect length appropriate for my age and body type.

I was so inspired by this skirt project, that I've found the perfect color of green yarn in Cascade 220 to knit the Acorns cardigan in this month's Twist Collective. I can't wait to pair the two this fall for a completely handmade outfit!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Turtle Cheesecake

My youngest sister and niece were over this week, and thankfully my sister brought over her famous cheesecake recipe! She also has allowed me to share it with you, so enjoy!


Viki’s Basic Cheesecake Recipe

Crust:
1 stick of salted butter
1/4 C. white sugar
6-8 oz crushed graham crackers (about 1 pkg)

Filling:
3 pkg cream cheese (full flavor, please)
1/4 C. heavy whipping cream
1/4 C. sour cream
3 eggs
1 C. white sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

For the crust, crush the graham crackers in a sealed plastic bag by gently rolling over them with a rolling pin. Meanwhile, melt the stick of butter in the microwave. (about 30 seconds on high does the trick.) Add 1/4 C. White sugar to the crushed crackers and mix. Then, mix in the melted butter until all of the crumbs and sugar are moistened in buttery goodness. Press the mixture into the bottom of a springform pan.

*Vik’s pro tip: If you’ll be serving a bunch of people cheescake in one sitting, this recipe can be divided into two 8-inch circular cake pans to make 2 short cheesecakes :)

Next, begin mixing up the filling. Place the 3 packages of cream cheese (brought to room temperature) into a medium mixing bowl. Stir the cream cheese until smooth, and then add the sugar, heavy whipping cream, sour cream and vanilla extract, mixing after each before adding the next. Then, add the eggs one at a time, mixing until smooth before adding the next.

Pour the cream cheese mixture over the crust. Place the springform pan on a cookie sheet, and bake for about 1 hour at 325 degrees F. Remove the cheesecake from the oven when the cheesecake is like a good man... firm around the edges but a little bit jiggly in the middle. Allow to cool. Serve and enjoy.

Variation: Turtle Cheesecake!

Before pouring the filling over the crust, add about 1 C of mini chocolate chips and mix evenly. Bake as directed above. Once the cheesecake is cool, top with pecan halves, a handful or so of mini chocolate chips, and then drizzle the top with melted caramel.


Thursday, July 15, 2010

25 Things I Know Now as a Parent



I just read this post on PBS Parents, and felt compelled to make my own list of 25:
  1. My parents weren't perfect, and that's OK. We turned out just fine.
  2. Having sons means frequently having to yell "Don't Fart!"
  3. Never make a threat that means more work for yourself if you have to carry it through.
  4. Always carry through on your threats. Idle threats cost your respect.
  5. If you bail your kids out when they're young, be prepared to still be bailing them out when they're 37, 49, and so forth.
  6. Ice Cream and brownies can help fix a broken heart.
  7. "Friending" your kids on facebook is a good idea, and it's actually kind of fun.
  8. A dog can really be a boy's best friend.
  9. Even 14 year old boys need a hug once in awhile.
  10. That which does not push us entirely over the edge really does make us stronger.
  11. Sometimes, you have to sacrifice a sock.
  12. Having one good friend is better than having a ton of mediocre ones.
  13. Boys above the age of 4 don't really appreciate handknits, but sometimes they'll lie and pretend they do.
  14. Brothers fight, wrestle, hit each other and call each other names... but they still love each other.
  15. Nieces and Nephews are fantastic!
  16. It's OK to like the same music as your teenager.
  17. Wrestling smells worse when your son isn't on the mat.
  18. One day you'll call home from work to check on your little boy, and a man will answer the phone.
  19. All kids make mistakes, and that's OK. Love them anyway.
  20. Singing in the car at the top of your lungs as a family is seriously underrated.
  21. Sometimes all you have to say is "I'm proud of you!"
  22. Football is never as interesting to you as it is when your son is on the field.
  23. Teach your kids to cook. You'll NEVER regret this one. Trust me.
  24. Bedtime stories are worth it.
  25. Revel in the traits your kids picked up from you... and love the differences.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Full Circle Quilting

I recently found this great tutorial from Anna Maria Horner's blog on sewing the perfect circles into quilts... but it wasn't for me, so I found this one instead.

It works like a charm, and so I used a bunch of Amy Butler fabric scraps I had left over from this project with some ideas on quilting with embroidery floss from Ms. Horner's blog.

So far, I'm loving the effect, and I'd like to try the same butcher-paper technique for some other cool shapes. I'm thinking fish, or birds.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Cancer, it's ON.

Cancer;

I've never liked you. I'm tired of you attacking good, wholesome people with families and friends. People who raise children, go to work, laugh and love and cry. You really suck, you know? We're taking you on, and we're not going to be nice. Get ready, 'cause we're kicking your ass. It's ON.

Sincerely,

Jessica

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Dear Friends,


Meet My mom, Crystal - aka Superwoman.

After surviving breast cancer for several years, my mom was recently diagnosed with Leukemia. As you can imagine, this news was immediately devastating! Since her diagnosis on November 3, 2009 my mom has undergone extensive chemotherapy treatments, spent literally weeks in the hospital, put her teaching career on hold, and missed the birth of her most recent grand-daughter just to fight this horrible disease. During this time, my step-dad has been by her side - literally caring for her every minute on the worst days. As if that weren't enough... he has graciously volunteered to shave his head in a public ceremony that will benefit the American Cancer Society's Hope Lodge in Kansas City.

100% of the donations he collects will fund the operation of the Hope Lodge - a place were people undergoing cancer treatments can stay FOR FREE during the course of their treatments. My mom and step-dad will spend 100 days at the Hope Lodge so that my mom can be within a few miles of her doctor's care while her destroyed immune system recovers from her recent bone-marrow transplant. If they would have had to pay for a place to stay during her treatment, it would have cost about $16,000!

I recently spent a few days at the Hope Lodge with my mom, so that my step-dad Tim could have a few days off. The most devastating discovery I made during these few days is that Cancer affects everyone... cancer knows no prejudice. It affects the poor, the rich, the young, the old...

So. I am asking you to consider donating to the Hope Lodge - a place that functions entirely on the donations and volunteers. A place that far too many people have had and will have to call home during cancer treatments. Even if you can only give a dollar, every cent of that dollar will make a difference in my mom's life, my life, the life of a friend... and even your own life.

Thank you so much for reading this note. If you can donate or want more information, please read my mom's story here:

Support the Hope Lodge!


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Bless me Blogger, for I have sinned.

It has been 3 months since my last post...

More than a few projects have been started, some have been ripped out, and even more have been completed. Since I can't really think of anything clever to say about all this knitting, I'll just post some pictures for my own (and hopefully your) enjoyment.

First, Bird in Hand mittens from the lovely Kate Gilbert. These were born because I needed a complicated knitting pattern to work on following some difficult news. I was able to present these lovely mittens to my mom before she began a long and difficult chapter in her life. Warm hands tend to warm the soul, in our opinions.


Next, a pair of house-slipper-socks for myself to wear around the house. These were made on the fly, knit two at a time with a double strand of superwash sock yarn and some worsted superwash... followed by more double-strand sock yarn. A decent stash-buster, and a nice way to keep my always cold toes warm in our 62-degree house.


Fiddlehead Mittens for me, using some wonderful alpaca yarn that my dad and step-mother gave me for Christmas. The yarn came from an alpaca farm in Westmoreland, Kansas - and is undyed natural alpaca colored! They are warm and soft - and I had enough left over to make a matching hat. I made another pair of fiddleheads for my step-mother for a Christmas gift, using two colors of Cascade 220 in shades of heathered greens. She loved them, and I loved making them.

More to come...!