Saturday, April 18, 2015

Our Garden

I've been so excited to finally have a garden space! The weather warmed up so we planted some herbs, fruit, and vegetables. 

Here are shots before anything has sprouted.

Here are herb pots on the balcony. There's thyme, oregano, sage, and tarragon.


We planted some cucumber by the trellis.   We might plant some tomato when it's warmer.


This spot is a little shadier. There's pole beans, zucchini, parsley and chives. Two kinds of basil in the big pot.


I'll keep you updated on how it goes! My fingers are crossed that we'll have a good harvest this summer.

Armchair Slipcovers


This was the last sewing project I had on my list to do before baby arrived. Amazingly, the day after I finished sewing them, I ended up going into labor! 


The construction consisted of pinning and hoping for the best. I think they turned out alright! I used some faded old linen drapes for the fabric and like the way it matches the dining table set.


I've already got some splashes of soy sauce and baby drool on them so I'm glad to have them! I can just pop them in the wash without worrying.

Posts will be a little irregular for a while. We're still getting used to being parents for the first time! It's crazy, exhausting, but also a really wonderful thing.


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Recipe: Mom's Banana Bread


Confession time - I used to hate banana bread. It was the only dessert my mom knew how to bake, and I was allergic to most other fruits so it made regular appearances. Instead I dreamed of cheesecake and cookies.

Fast forward to today and I've got a new appreciation for the humble loaf. I've tried other recipes but mom's is hands down  the best. It's light, fluffy, not overly sweet, and comes out with a cracked domed crust. It's also practically fool proof. Trust me, I've made all kinds of substitutions and fumbled measurements or added extra bananas and it still always turns out good. Thanks mom!


Mom's Banana Bread
Makes one large or 2 small loaves (2 small ones in the photos above)

Ingredients:
• 2 or 3 ripe bananas 
• 3/4 cup yogurt or buttermilk or 2/3 cup regular milk + 2 tbsp lemon juice
• 2 eggs
• 2/3 cup oil
• 2 2/3 cup flour
• 1 cup sugar
• 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
• 1 tsp baking soda
• 1 tsp salt
• (optional) 1 cup chopped nuts

Method:

1) Preheat oven to 350. Grease loaf pan.

2) Mix bananas, yogurt, eggs, and oiL.

3) Mix all other ingredients in a large bowl and add banana mixture to it. Add nuts.

4) Pour into prepared pan and bake 35-45 minutes. Done when top is golden brown, cracked, and stick inserted comes out clean.

Go forth and use thine overripe bananas.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A Matching Set

bagset (2)

Somehow I've ended up sewing a matching set of bags! They're all packed and ready for the hospital. One is for mom, one for dad, and one for baby.

bagset (1)

The first one I sewed was the canvas and denim duffle bag. It's the largest and heaviest of the three, because I wasn't sure how to make the bag bottom sturdy. I ended up using some old jeans and cotton batting to reinforce it, but with hindsight that was overkill, hard to sew through and heavy. It's still so useful. It's become our weekend trip bag of choice, and it fits almost all airline carry-on restrictions (which was the point). I'm glad the straps are sturdy canvas, because we usually stuff that thing full!

The second bag I sewed is the faux leather bottom tote. It's simple and zippered. It's my favourite bag, because it's lightweight, holds a lot of things, and doesn't take up too much space. It was my first time successfully sewing with faux leather, and I loved it. Faux leather sews up as smooth as butter, but it's a one shot deal because once you make holes they're there forever. I wasn't sure about the straps and just tacked them on. The strap angles aren't quite right, so the bag bunches a little if I wear it on my shoulder. Who knew that made a difference?! Lesson learned. I also messed up because I realized I needed an exterior pocket AFTER I finished sewing it. Consequently, there's only a tiny zippered pocket on the inside (it used to be bigger), because the stitching on the outside pocket goes through both the exterior and lining.

The last bag I sewed was the diaper bag / weekend bag. It has the most complicated shape of the three, has the most pockets, a leather bottom with purse feet, and an inset zipper. I didn't quite have enough faux leather for the straps, so they're quite thin, but I'll see how well they hold up. Maybe I should have added some padding inside them? But, so far so good.

3 bags, many lessons learned. All useful.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Sew & Tell: Smiling Yeti

Softie 007

Isn't she a cutie? I found a pattern online and blew it up about 50% to make this softie. I'm kind of in love with her smiling face! I think it would have been better if I'd used fabric with a little stretch: fleece, or terry towel for extra fluff, but I didn't have any of those on hand so the cotton bunches a little. Still, the color combo is pretty, isn't it?

You can find a tutorial to make your own Kawaii Yeti Monster here.

SO many baby birthdays! This one is a gift too.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Sew & Tell: Laundry Bag

laundry bag

Need a breather from all the baby stuff? I do! Here was a quick weekend project. I needed something to hold laundry in the bedroom that wouldn't take up too much space. I really like how this turned out. Former sheer curtain ends were turned into a simple drawstring bag. A pant hanger holds it up. It's just big enough for a week's worth of laundry, and easy enough to hide if people come over.

Maybe it's too simple to even post, but it's one of the most useful things I've made lately.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Sew & Tell: Simple Plush Bear

Softie 005

This was the easiest plush toy yet: two pieces of cloth plus felt. I made him for my friend's baby shower. I suppose baby won't be playing with it for a long time yet, but it's still fun to gift a little something homemade right? I made him a little larger and wider than the original pattern.

Get the tutorial and free pattern here: Mr. Ted Tutorial.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Sewing for Baby

For someone that sews so much, I haven't done much sewing for our own baby! Most of the sewing I've done for baby so far has been practical rather than sweet. We received a bunch of hand me downs which I'm SO grateful for and there wasn't much that I needed to make.

Take for example these burp cloths. I cut up some old towels and lined the back with more colourful fabric. Not exactly heirloom material, but they'll do for wiping up the spit and spills that are bound to happen.

baby 004

Then there's the nursing pillow. I sewed it from some leftover cotton curtain fabric, and then made a washable cover from old flannel. I'll be the first to admit the flannel is UGLY, but it is soft. There's an envelope closure at one end so it's removable.

baby 003

And you can never have enough storage. I sewed 3 fabric bins and they're already full of baby socks, hats, and bottles. They're at the bottom of the changing table. The last bin is a cardboard box I covered with fabric. The fabric bins fit in the bookshelf that is off to the right outside of the camera view, but it's more useful to have them in the changing table for now.

baby 002

Lastly, I made a changing pad. Right now it's covering the foam that came with the changing table. It's vinyl over a sandwich of cotton fabric that came from a crib bumper, with a thin hand me down receiving blanket for padding in between the cotton. At least the moons and stars match the nursery theme.

Maybe you're a practical person too? Here are the links to tutorials so you can make your own:

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Sew & Tell: Owl Softie

Softie 001

I'm addicted to sewing stuffed toys. Luckily, there are plenty of kids' birthdays to go to lately! I whipped this little guy up based on an owl I saw in a photo. I think the owl was originally from West Elm but isn't available anymore. This one is jumbo sized, almost big enough to be a toddler's pillow. You might not be able to tell so well from the photo (cursed, dark, rainy, winter, with bad lighting), but there are embroidered scallop shell feathers on the chest of the owlet and the wings.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Baking Interlude: Buttery Sourdough Buns

Buttery sourdough rolls

I've been a little neglectful of my sourdough starter and accumulated a lot of excess and wanted to find some recipes where I could use up the extra. This recipe via King Arthur Flour is a keeper. I only modified the recipe by adding a little garlic powder in with the paprika and butter swirl.

Buttery, soft, fluffy, and not to sweet or salty. The dough is the perfect base for either sweet or savoury fillings.

Next time I might add some sugar, cinnamon, and nuts to make cinnamon buns. I could also see these tasting wonderful with some cream cheese and jam, or even a pesto filling!

Buttery sourdough rolls 2

These sourdough buns are so good that they deserve a close up. They're not going to last long!