Tuesday, October 18, 2016

FO: Seven Dwarves Sorrel

This is a project I finished a month ago (!) and I was hoping to get fun pictures at a Disney location since I'm about an hour away. But life happens, and while I still may get those pictures sometime, I wanted to go ahead and share my shirt now :) 
This is (yet another) Sorrel Top from Seamster Patterns. I seriously love this pattern - obviously as evidenced that this is my 5th time making it up in a year. This time around, I just wanted a simple and fun *win* of a project. I needed one. My schedule has been crazy, and while I dream all day of making shirt dresses and coats and other more complicated projects, I just haven't had the mental capacity to do all the muslins I will need to make those other projects work for me. So I'm just enjoying making t-shirts in the meantime. I can be "fun t-shirt girl" for a while. I'm cool with that.
So this shirt is obviously a bit more "novelty" then even I usually go for. Let's get one thing straight - I am not a "Disney t-shirt wearer". I did my time growing up here in the 90s, and I've feared that persona ever since, lol. But back in January at the Sewing Studio's major sale I came across this Seven Dwarves printed jersey and knew I needed a ridiculous shirt from it. And how much more cutesy can you get with dwarf fabric than by giving it a funky Peter Pan collar and sleeve cuffs? So I bought a yard of this fabric and planned to make it up when I had the possibility of going to Disney and wearing it there.

I did have a hard time deciding on the color for the collar and cuffs. When I bought the dwarf fabric I thought I'd use white, but I've made this pattern a few times with white collars and I feel it makes it seem like I own a bunch of the same exact shirt (which I do, but whatever - other people don't need to know that, lol). So I dug in my stash of knit material and pulled out a few other options. Nothing was a dead match to the colors in the main fabric, but this sagey-mint green was pretty close, so I went with that. I really like how it turned out! This green fabric was a thrift store find, and it's really nice actually.
I cut the body of the shirt about 1/4" wider at the sides this time since last time I used a jersey of this weight it came out a bit snug. I'm really happy with how the fit turned out here. Fitted but not digging in. Yes!
Detail shots! I'm pretty proud of my ditch stitching around the collar. There was a lot of changing of threads going on with this. I used a light blue for some areas since the main fabric has a light blue background, I used a mint green for the collar and cuffs, and I used white woolly nylon thread in the bobbin for the hems. I even took the time to match it up at the collar and used blue in the top and green in the bobbin. It really helped make the stitches invisible. Unfortunately I didn't take my time at the actual collar when attaching it to the body and there is a sizable space where the collar points meet. It bugs me a bit, but realistically I don't think anyone who doesn't sew would notice, especially since they don't meet at the center front. I AM proud of the fact that my shoulder seam actually meets up with the collar shoulder seam though, lol. I think that's the first time that's happened. Also the hems look great. I love a twin needle with woolly nylon in the bobbin!
So there you have it! The first in my line of latest projects. I'll be sure to post again when I finally get to Disney so I can show this baby off in the environment it was designed for :) I took pictures of several things that I've worked on lately - all simple projects, but it just feels so much better to be blogging and actually show something for my time no matter how simple it was to do, you know? Sometimes (well, often for me) blogging is more of a personal outlet and score card. I like looking back and seeing things I was able to make in spite of whatever was happening at the time. Anyway, not trying to be depressing, lol. Just my thoughts at this moment. I love being able to show off my silly projects. So thanks for reading about them :)

Fabric: 1.25 yard of The In Crown Dwarves Knit from The Sewing Studio - $9.70, 0.25 yards green interlock - $0.25 (thrifted)
Pattern: Sorrel Top by Seamster Patterns
Notions: blue thread, green thread, and woolly nylon thread - $1.00
Time: 5 hours
Total Cost: $10.95

Monday, October 10, 2016

Sililoquy and Broadstreet

While I wait to have pictures to show you things I've been making, I thought I'd share what else I've been up to lately (other than things related to selling my house which feels like it's sucked half my life away and being attacked by an enormous hurricane). Back in April I joined 2 local singing groups, Broadstreet and Sililoquy. Both are small groups of people who just love to sing and we meet once a week to do just that :) It's been a lot of fun and since I joined I've already been in a 50s show and we are about to have a Broadway concert on October 16th (it's at the First United Methodist Church in Titusville at 3pm if you're interested!). 

One of the big things both of these groups participate in each year is singing at Disney for Christmas. I had no idea that Disney did this, but local singing groups can audition and be selected to sing at various places around their property throughout December. Broadstreet and Sililoquy have both been selected to sing for the past few years, so we are really crossing our fingers we will be accepted again. Not only is it fun to say you sang at Disney - you also get park tickets in exchange :) Since it's something I've worked very hard at for the past few months, I thought I would share our audition videos:

(please ignore how goofy I look in my costume, lol. It was WAY too short for me - like 2 feet too short - and I will be remaking the whole thing if we are selected to sing for Disney).

Anyway, it's been really nice to get back to something I love so much. I've always loved to sing, but other than singing in church I haven't done anything like this since high school. It's nice to make music a weekly priority and share it with others often :) I'm so honored to be a member of this group.

Thanks for listening!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Getting Closer To Macaron Perfection

In spite of my crazy schedule the past few months, macarons have been made because #priorities. It's been an interesting journey with them thus far, but it has lead to the most perfect looking and tasting macarons I've ever achieved. But let me back up!
Back in August I made 2 batches for a baby shower hosted by my sister (something I have already sworn to never agree to again). The baking process was frought with frustration (usually involving egg separating with eggs from my sister's chickens) but the cookies themselves turned out well. I made purple colored macarons with pink Swiss buttercream filling along with teal colored pistachio macarons with white chocolate ganache filling - both were colored to go with her theme of "mermaid".
Here they are at the party (next to the delicious lime cake ... mmm ...). With this batch I mainly learned how frustrating it is to give up 2 entire nights of your very limited free time to make a bunch of delicious macarons that you won't get to eat #realtalk. But they baked up well except for the ganache being too warm when I piped it out (causing it to ooze off the sides of the cookies unattractively, ugh). I took a break for a while after that experience, but let's be real you can never stay away from making these for very long once you know how.
This past week I made some much anticipated macarons to thank some of the people who helped with my estate sale. I had some people give several days of the ir time to help me, and what better way to show gratitude than with an intricate dessert :) I've been pinning a lot of macaron flavor ideas lately, and my sister specifically requested one that I pinned - mango white chocolate flavor - and I decided to try out rose for the other batch. I was skeptical about the mango ones, I will confess. The cookies themselves are just regular almond flavor and the mango flavor was achieved by adding mango purée to the white chocolate ganache. This makes the ganache even more runny than normal, so letting it set up in the fridge was a must after the last time working with white chocolate. It all worked out well though and the flavor was much better once the ganache had cooled (when it was slightly warm it made the mix taste like a super ripe cantaloupe - so weird. For the rose batch I added rose water to both the cookie batter and to the Swiss buttercream, thinking this would bring a good amount of flavor ... only to taste the finished product and not detect even the slightest hint of rose, lol. Oh well, they still taste good. Just normal. I'll have to get some actual rose petals to grind up and put in future versions. Both of these batches were the best baking ever. I had fewer of them touch on the pan (so their edges are perfectly rounded over) and not a single one cracked in either batch! That's pretty remarkable. They also didn't crack under their "foot" (the flat part) which sometimes happens - I've now realized that happens when they are removed from the parchment while they are too warm. Lessons! The rose batch in particular have the most perfect texture I've made - the perfect amount of chewy and crispy. Oh man, so good :) I'm glad that my "Thank You" batch turned out so well for the people who deserve so much more than cookies for their help.

So that's how things have been going with my macaron addiction. It's certainly an interesting experience to make these in a small condo kitchen, but I've made it happen both times now :) I've already told my family that macarons will probably be put on hold for a while as I really want to try making some of the cakes from my latest Craftsy class, Classic European Tortes (affiliate link). So tasty looking! I think I'll start with a Sacher torte :) Anyway, if you're at all interested in trying macarons, I always recommend this class since it's how I learned and I've never had them turn out badly. I warn you - they are addictive! I have it on authority from other friends who make them now too (Hi, Brenna! lol).

Have a delicious day!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Book Review: Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

It's been quite a while since I posted any book reviews (mostly just because I've been lazy with writing them, not because I haven't been reading), and I am definitely jumping ahead in my queue of books read (I'm up to 41 this year so far, lol) but I recently finished this book and I had thoughts about it, so I decided I really should post the review. So hopefully you can expect to see more posts like this again :)
I put off reading this book for quite some time. I would always see it on the lists of "classics to read in your lifetime" yet every time I read the synopsis I just couldn't get on board with reading it. It sounded very much like the cliché dramatic romance style I avoid, yet one day I was finally willing to give it a try. And the book affected me.

Tess Durbeyfield is a lower class girl from a poor family in England in the 1880s. She's smart for her class and very pretty, therefor she seems like she could be going places. In an unfortunate accident resulting in the death of her family's horse, Tess agrees to "claim kin" when her family is told that they descend from the great D'Urberville family in hopes of getting money to support them in their time of need. Tess is 17 when she meets her "cousin", Alec D'Urberville, and he arranges a job for her in his house taking care of his mother's chickens and birds. He is very touchy with her and always trying to kiss her, which causes her to avoid him whenever possible. One night she is out with the other workers and gets into a fight with two other girls when Alec takes her away from them (a "lesser of two evils" situation). He takes her off into the woods where he rapes her and leaves her to find her own way home. Tess goes back home only to find her parents have spread around her town that she is going to marry the rich relation she was visiting. Tess lives through the shame of having a baby out of wedlock only to have the baby die shortly after birth. After a little time passes, she gets a job at a dairy farm where no one knows her past in an effort to move on with her life. There she meets Angel Clare, a farming student studying on the dairy farm. He soon falls in love with Tess, and after many times refusing him and much inner turmoil about whether she should tell him her secret, she finally gives in and the two get married. Angel insist on not telling each other their faults until after they are married, so on their wedding night she is finally allowed to tell all. Angel is disgusted and wants nothing to do with Tess on the spot. Tess still loves him and is willing to do whatever he wishes, so she returns to her parents home with some money he gives her. Realizing she can't bring more sham eon her family by staying with them now that she his supposed to be married to a rich gentleman, she gives them the money Angel gave her and she leaves to find work for herself. The only place she can find is a notoriously hard farm where she meets back up with a few other girls from the dairy. She is too proud to go to Angel's parents for money, so she works in horrible conditions for over a year. Eventually, she runs into Alec D'Urberville again who has now reformed his ways and spends his days preaching. Seeing Tess again causes Alec to revert to his old ways, chasing after her and trying to win her affections. Tess's circumstances become dire when her father dies and her family is turned out of their home, forcing Tess to go back to Alec for support since her husband has not contacted her in over a year.

Man, just typing that was depressing. Every time I explain the story to others it just further drives home how this is not the type of book I would typically read. Yet the book resonates with me, and I believe I understand why it is considered a book you must read in your life. Alec D'Urberville was an evil man who ruined Tess's young life, yet when she finds someone who truly loves her (Angel Clare) and swears he will love her no matter what, she is still left in misery due to his selfish actions. Alec was sleazy, to be sure, but personally I found Angel to be equally disgusting. He admits that he had a 48 hour romp with a "woman of ill repute" in London when he was younger, only to be told Tess's past and treat her like a whore even though he admits that she was "more sinned against than sinned herself". The book forces you to look at your own views of morality and think about the anguish we have caused others simply because we could not "get over" something that was really no worse than things we have done in our own past. Angel judges Tess, and it leads to her absolute misery, destitution, and eventual early death. At least Alec makes no pretenses about his behavior. So which man was worse? The immoral or the moral one? It's been something interesting to think of ever since finishing the book, and for that reason I feel it deserves its classic status. This is definitely a book everyone should read. I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.