Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Emergency Baby Shower Gift (Romper ca. 1981)

Found out that the day after I get home (Yay! Vacation!), my mom is attending the baby shower of the daughter of one of her friends. Since I am familiar with both my mom's friend and her daughter, I'll probably tag along, too. And you can't show up to a Baby Shower without a gift! So into the stash, I go...

Leftover fabrics from making a baby quilt for a friend last year (happy to find there was more left than I had thought... and just barely enough stripe to make a piece of clothing). Pattern pulled from my roommate's massive baby/child clothing pattern collection (Simplicity 5333 from 1981).

I think she's having a boy... so I hope this isn't too 'girly'...

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Most Important (Mrs. Lovett) Accessory

Almost forgot to share this part of my Halloween Costume...
 Mini Meat Pies
Arguably the most important accessory for a Mrs. Lovett costume, the meat pie. I don't have any in-progress, cooking shots, but here's how I made mine...

Tools: Besides the usual pots, pans, bowls, beaters, measuring cups, pot holders, etc...
  • mini muffin pan
  • parchment/freezer paper (cut into strips)
  • tart tamper 
  • food processor/blender 

Ingredients: (proportions not included, since I ended up with a bunch of filling leftover that I had to freeze)

  • Ground Beef (1/2 lbs would probably serve)
  • Ground Pork (1/2 lbs would probably serve)
  • onion
  • Savory and other spices
  • bay leaf
  • cream, half-n-half, or milk
  • 6 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups flour
1. Chop onion finely, saute in butter (with garlic, if desired).  Add ground beef and pork, spices (to taste). Cook meat until meat is completely done. Remove beef and onion (I used a strainer), reserve juices/grease.

2. Make gravy from the reserved juices, adding flour and cream/half-n-half/milk, and gravy master (if you have it is handy) as desired/needed.

3. Since I was making mini-pies, I knew the chunks of ground meat wouldn't settle/fill them up correctly, so I opted for pureeing part of the meat mixture (about three-quarters) in the blender, using the gravy to smooth it out (find and remove bay leaf if you used one). The result is a little nasty looking, slightly reminiscent of slop served in school lunches back in the day.

4. Prepare 'crust'. For mini-pies, I find this cream-cheese based recipe works better, creating a smooth dough that holds together. First, cream butter with the cream cheese. Add the flour and mix well.

5. The original recipe I used for this says it makes 48, but I got 24 and barely enough for the mini-pie top crusts. Cut parchment/freezer paper strips and lay across the cups in the mini-muffin pan (these work like little tabs and let you easily pull the pies out after baking). Form little balls of dough, place on top of strips in cups, and use a tart tamper (frequently flouring) to press into a tart shell shape.

6. Fill the crusts with the meat filling. Roll out and cut rounds (I magically had the perfect size glass to do this with) out of the remaining dough for the top. The cream-cheese base also makes it very easy to stick the top crusts onto the shells. Cut tiny slits in tops to vent (probably not necessary) and for decoration.

7. Bake at 350 degrees F until golden brown.

8. Have a little priest...

Learning to Crochet

So far, I'm having difficulty understanding some of the stitch directions in the books I got from the library. Ironically, 'Crocheting School: A Complete Course' was the most incoherent. I think part of the problem is that I have too small a crochet hook for the gauge of yarn and I can't see the stitches clearly. I'm also noticing that I probably have a tendency to have the tension way too tight... same as when I gave knitting a go. Seemed to work for these little loop flowers, however...

Next project will hopefully be a hat, with a thicker yarn and larger hook.

Not sure I'm going to have the patience to see this through until I can make lace trims, which is my ultimate goal and primary reason for learning crochet, since most of the aesthetics of crochet or knitted items just doesn't appeal to me.

Also could be a problem, this hurts my hand (again, probably holding the hook too tightly). If it causes any fatigue to my fingers whatsoever, this is probably not something I should do, since my hands get tired from hooping garments for embroidery all day, and I had planned to do my crocheting during my commute by bus to and from work.

But we'll see.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

NOVEMBER TO DO:

(probably wise to pick up this habit of organizing my thoughts/projects)
  • alterations (by commission... hopefully my last for a very long time. I don't like doing them. It's boring and I have so little free time)
  • resurrect my poor L.L. Bean backpack
  • 40s style overalls (preferably, but if I don't have enough olive twill, just pants. I'm initiating another spending moratorium for fabric -for my self, presents are another story)
  • Hat tab: There are currently pins keeping my favourite hat to size.
  • start to learn crochet!
  • tackle the pile of repairs (of my own clothing)
  • umbrella? (I lost my good umbrella that I painted to match my raincoat and boots... but soon rain won't be our issue, now will it?)
  • finish off lingering Mrs. Fitzsimmons Costume and repost on etsy
GENERAL TO DO: (projects stewing in my brain)
  • Teal knit Steampunk shifts
  • TinkerSue Series
    • Smock
    • Underdress
    • Bloomer-Romper
    • Coveralls
  • 60s Dresses
  • Plaid Shirts