Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Life in Bloom

Happy Wednesday, Everyone! I put together this top sort of on a whim and I am so, so happy with how it turned out. This voile is by Amy Butler, and you can find it at The Tin Thimble's Etsy store. I originally planned on lining the top, but with the recent humidity (it's been 100% a few times lately. And NOT raining. I didn't even know that was possible.), and the heat, I ended up just leaving it a single layer and finishing the inside with a combination of bias tape and french seams. 





The original pattern was for a dress, but I knew I wouldn't wear it as much, so I cut about 3 feet off of the skirt and decided to gather the peplum, as opposed to pleating it like the original.  I added extra gathers in the back to give it more shape, and added a small keyhole above the zipper. 




I love, love, love it when a project goes off without a hitch and turns out to be something I can wear often. The husband-to-be and I went on a date the next day and I proudly wore it out! 


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Words through Food



I grew up in a household where we ate dinner around the table together every night. Every. Night. My mom is a great cook, and has a seemingly endless supply of recipes both on paper and in her head. I don't remember a time when my mom taught me how to cook, but I guess I absorbed a lot of her knowledge simply by watching. My sister, Lisa, has also taught me a lot about food. How to try things, how to tweak recipes, how adding dijon mustard to everything makes it better. When I was in college my roommate and I did nightly dinner together a lot. I missed those evenings when we graduated and I lived by myself. Cooking for yourself is hard! Portions for one?? Please. That's extremely hard to accomplish. When I met Daniel I was thrilled to be able to make dinners for two. I'm also thrilled that he's not a picky eater (ain't nobody got time for that). I look forward to the end of the day when he comes home, boots caked in mud, safety vest in one hand, lunchbox (or dinner box, as some West Virginians call it) in the other. We sit next to each other at the dinner table, sometimes we talk a lot, sometimes only a few words pass between us and we stay deep in our thoughts, sometimes we laugh, sometimes we talk about important things, sometimes we watch stupid youtube videos. Mostly, we just sit next to each other and share a moment, and a meal. 


I'm blessed to be in a position where I have the time to put a lot of effort into our food. To me, it's an act of love. The minutes spent rinsing, chopping, slicing, heating, stirring, and seasoning are minutes of silence that can express 'I love you', 'Thank you', 'I'm sorry', whatever it may be. This week, those minutes built a sentence that said 'I'm proud of you, and also, I really like middle eastern food so I spent $20 over the grocery budget this week, it'll be worth it, I promise.'


Dan had a recipe for 'Pakistani Chicken', I made a cucumber yogurt salad, mint lemonade, and we bought hummus and naan (both of which I should have made, but was a little short on time...)

Pakistani Chicken


2 1/2 lbs Chicken Breast
2-3 Cups of Plain Yogurt
6 Cloves Minced Garlic
1 Tsp Ground Cumin
2 Tbs Ginger (fresh, graded is best)
1 Small Onion, Minced
2 Tsp Ground Coriander
2 Tsp Salt
1Tsp Black Pepper

Mix all ingredients, except chicken, in a bowl. Transfer to large tupperware with chicken and let marinate. We let ours sit for 2 days, but a minimum of 4 hours will work too. We prefer to grill the chicken, but you could also pan fry it. 

Cucumber Salad with Mint Yogurt Dressing

4 Cups of Sliced Cucumbers (I prefer Armenian or Persian)
2 Cups Plain yogurt
2 Cloves Minced Garlic
2 Tbsp Chopped Mint 
1 Tsp Salt

Slice cucumbers. Mix all ingredients and let sit in the fridge till nice and cool. 

Mint Lemonade

1 Jar of Santa Cruz Organic Lemonade (any lemonade will work, but I like this one)
1/4 Cup Roughly Chopped Mint
1 Tsp Honey
1/4 Cup Lemon Juice

Pour about 1/2 cup of juice out of the jar (and enjoy it!). Add mint, honey and lemon juice and let sit in fridge for several hours. Taste, add more honey to make it sweeter, or more lemon juice to make it more tart!


This made a delicious summer dinner that didn't require me turning on the oven, stove, or staying in our tiny (and hot!) kitchen for very long, so that's a big plus. If you try any of the recipes let me know what you think, or what you changed!





Thursday, June 11, 2015

Flashback Friday

Several years ago, Marie Clark of Permanent Glimpse Photography photographed some handmade works by my mom, my sister and me. What an honor! Unfortunately, shortly after those photos were taken, I fell out of the blogosphere and wasn't able to share them with you until now! 


This top was made with a Simplicity 9438, a 1980's pattern for one-yard wrap tops.  Remember how I just moved across the country, and had to leave 3/4 of my things in a storage unit? Yeah, well that means a lot of my patterns didn't make it out with me.  I kind of wish I had packed this one, it was fun to make, and is super versatile. Sigh. 


It ties on the inside, and closes on the outside with three tabs and buttons. 


The original pattern didn't have the peplum, I added that because I'm not a big fan of midriff tops, and to give the top a bit more shape. I used a vintage, lightweight, polyester. For those of you who have been reading the blog for a while know that I despise polyester. I made an exception for this one, how could I not? Look at that awesome daisy print. 

Other details: Jeans by Gap. "Oscar" pumps by Jessica Simpson in coral. Vintage fabric from The Tin Thimble

This top gets me through a lot of spring and summer days, and I'd love to make another out of cotton. Do you have a favorite wrap pattern? Wrap dresses, pants, skirts? I'd love to find a great new pattern!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Five, Six, Seven, Eight

I've been hanging onto this beautiful 100% silk for a while now. I'll be honest, I don't really like sewing with silk. It's slippery, it frays (and frays, and frays some more), my sewing machine prefers to suck it into the bobbin case and tear holes in it. This color was so lovely, however, that after sitting at the top of my fabric stash for a couple of weeks, I decided that I would heed it's tiny cries to be made into something. I decided upon using New Look pattern #6286, gathered all of my patience, praised my sewing machine and got to work.

About halfway through, I tried it on for the fiance and asked "Doesn't it kinda look like a dance costume?". He chuckled, and while he didn't agree with me, he also didn't disagree.  Before I added the skirt, the wrap bodice and those flouncy sleeves looked just like the top half of a cha-cha costume. I looked at myself a little horrified in the mirror. "Oh god, please tell me I didn't waste gorgeous peacock colored silk to make something you would see skittering across the 'Dancing with the Stars' stage. Please. No."


Luckily, once I added the skirt, and made a few adjustments to the fit, I think it's actually sort of pretty. It's a bit more...ruffly? than things I normally make or wear, but it was actually quite fun to make. I also feel more comfortable with sewing silk now that I have successfully made a garment.


I've been sewing for long enough now that I have a small arsenal of tricks that come in handy. One of the big ones? Using paper when sewing with thin or "slippery" fabrics. I used good old printer paper to sew the narrow hems on the sleeves, as well as around the bottom of this blouse. If I had an automatic hemming foot for my machine, I probably would have used that. They make such amazing, tiny hems, don't they? I also used a microtex (sharp) needle and I swear they make a big difference. I tried utilize french seams as much as possible, and the neckline was finished with bias tape. Would you like to know more of my tips for sewing with silk or other light-weight fabrics? What advice do you have?




Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Change is Good

Hello there! This little blog has always been such a great experiment for me. As those of you who have followed PDG for a while, you know that most of the posts are about handmade clothing and goods and occasionally gardening, but sewing has always been at this blog's heart. Sewing is a large part of my heart, but when I decided to devote my time to this small business, I decided that I would have to experiment more. Dip my toes into the world of food, beauty, travel, etc and see what the heck happens. If you're all for it, let me know! If you're not into it at all, let me know! I am endlessly flattered to know that there are lovely souls out there reading these words of mine, and I love receiving comments from you. So here we go, experimentation begins today.

Change is good. Moving 2,500 miles across the country with 7 days notice? That's a quick change. My hair growing steadily curlier, and curlier as I get older? That's a gradual change. Is it normal for curly hair to do that? I think it's very odd. Sometimes I hate my curls but mostly I've come to love them because I see them as a distinguishing feature. I've accepted the curls, and I'm learning to embrace them. Change is good, change is good, change is good. 


Curly haired girls must unite. There is an endless list of hair products out there, and as I test them, I feel an obligation to share my successes to ease other girls' pain. Let's share the love, ladies!


My hair was bleached a while back, and is slowly growing out. I see the roots, you see the roots, they're there, I know. I'm trying to embrace the change from the color I wish my hair was, to the color my hair really is. Sigh, it's a slow process. Anyway, my ends are dry because of the bleach and I have found several products that boost my curls, help my damaged ends, don't weigh my hair down, and don't get crunchy (we all know that struggle!). 


In the Shower & Before Styling

I never believed in expensive shampoo and conditioner but I obviously didn't know what I was talking about. Biosilk 'Silk Therapy' conditioner has dramatically improved my hair. I don't use Biosilk shampoo because I use a purple shampoo that helps keep that dread orange tint at bay, but I recommend the conditioner to everyone. Since I have started using it (about 2 years ago), my hair is noticeably softer, smoother, and less damaged. You can find it at hair salons, but I usually purchase it at TJ Maxx or Marshalls. The conditioner is usually around $12 per bottle. 

The 'Silk Therapy' Original Treatment is a life-saver for my ends. I use a very small amount (less than a dime) and apply to the lower half of my hair right after showering, but before styling. My hair is thick, and naturally sort of oily, so I don't get it anywhere near my roots because that would be bad. Applied to the ends, this helps manage split ends, define curls and adds a bit of shine. Again, I usually find this at TJ Maxx or Marshalls, and although the price has recently gone up to around $20, a bottle lasts me about a year. 


To Style

Miss Jessie's Pillow Soft Curls is available at Target for about $15 per bottle. A new friend of mine recently gave me this and I am hooked. It's amazing. Totally worth the $15. I add about a nickel sized amount to my hair after showering and scrunch while it air dries. It helps to define each curl, and helps form ringlets with those locks that just can't seem to get it together. 

Garnier Fructis Style Curl Sculpting cream is available pretty much everywhere and is about $4 per bottle. I apply a dime sized amount to my curls after they've dried and if they need a bit of a pick-me-up mid-day. Too much of this will make your hair greasy, so don't over do it. 

Rusk Being Sexy, I'm sure is available at hair salons, but I always find it at Marshall's or TJ Maxx. It's typically about $10 per bottle and a little bit goes a long way. This works well in the humidity to keep the frizz and flyaways down. I use about a dime sized amount on either dry or wet hair, though I find it works a bit better if my hair is damp. 



Lastly, a great combination of coconut oil, gel, salt and water in a spray bottle helps keep my hair under control throughout the day. You can search for this on Pinterest and find  a lot of recommendations, but in the past I've used this one, specifically.

Other Tips

I also try my best to take a skin, hair and nails vitamin regularly. (Am I the only one who struggles to remember to take a vitamin every day. It shouldn't be that hard!) I do notice my hair feels healthier when I am diligent about it. 

I've also found that terry towels and curly hair do not get along. I often use an old t-shirt to dry my hair. This helps to eliminate some frizz, and results in less breakage. 

What hair products do you recommend? I'm always excited to find something new, so please share! 

Other notes: The views expressed in this blog are strictly my opinion. I have not been paid by any of the above mentioned manufacturers to promote their products.  

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Emerald

When Dan and I first moved to West Virginia it was February and there was about 4 feet of snow on the ground. It was cold. It was wet. It was grey and brown. So...drab. I'm from Northern California, the land of oaks and evergreens. It was weird to be in a place almost entirely with deciduous trees, and the lack of color was pretty discouraging. But, as nature does, things started changing right before our eyes, and just as the air began to warm, and the forests began to vibrate with growth, Dan and I found ourselves warming up to our home.




The weekly rain, and the humidity makes this place so beautiful now that it is green. There are thousands of shades of green on every tree. The forest is a mosaic of chartreuse, lime, sage, kelly, emerald, and olive. The moisture collects on the leaves and makes them sparkle like precious stones. There are birds, and plants and animals I have never seen before. 



My friend Chelsi and I went on a walk in a nature preserve outside of South Hills this week and I felt like I was in a foreign country. Dan and I camped in the forest near New River Gorge this weekend and it was spectacularly beautiful. I feel like a little kid when I'm in the forest here. "What is that?!" "Did you hear that?" "Whoa, look there, did you see that?" "Why are there so many turtles here?!?"





When we came home I was inspired by all the lovely greens and decided to use a cotton voile by Anna Maria Horner from her "Pretty Potent" line. I got this one from The Tin Thimble, and you can purchase it on their Etsy site.  


I took a dress pattern from he 1970's and altered it so that I could make a simple tent-blouse. The humidity here is something I am not at all used to, and I find that the less my clothing touches my torso, the happier I am. 




I finished the top with a chartreuse bias tape that doubles as straps that tie in bows. The inside is completely finished with flat fell seams to prevent any unravelling. 


Other details: pants from American Eagle. Earrings from Target. Sandals from Target. Silver bangle from Charming Charlie. Lipstick Maybelline's Color Whisper in "Cherry on Top". 

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Thursday, May 7, 2015

Dear Charlotte

When I was little I always looked forward to visits from my Auntie Charlotte and Uncle George. They were technically my great aunt & uncle, and they always brought Carnation Instant Breakfast packets with them. At the time I thought it was a gift, and an awesome one at that, (my mom didn't buy them for us. Too much sugar or some rational parent nutrition excuse like that. Pft.), but now that I look back on it, I think they just brought us the flavors they didn't like. 


They seemed so old when I was little, and because there weren't a lot of old people in my life, I was so intrigued by them. Auntie Charlotte wore these lovely boxy blouses made out of soft floral prints in pinks, green, blues and yellows and I always admired them. 



Later in life, after their passing, I would receive Auntie Charlotte's sewing machine, a large portion of her kitchen, and a handful of other beautiful, quality items. I hold these items dear to my heart and I always smile to think that everywhere I go, if I'm wearing her jewelry, or wearing something made on her machine, I take her with me. 



When I found a vintage McCall's blouse pattern, I instantly paired it with this floral corduroy (available from The Tin thimble's Etsy) in honor of Auntie Charlotte and her blouses. 


Other details: Shoes and hat from Target, both from last year. Jeans from Gap that have been altered about 20 times. I think I finally like them. The blouse is not lined, just interfaced and finished with vintage plastic buttons in yellow.