Friday, September 16, 2011

A Princess dress

Posted by: Paulette
This dress was onjly supposed to take a couple of days to make. It ended up taking about a week.

The first problem was the color. My friend wanted antique rose. This color can be interpreted as so many different colors. We decided together that the color she wanted was called mauve. But, mauve in Canada has more of a purple tint to it and there was some discussion as to whether the color we were both thinking of was the same.
Thinking that I could save my friend a whole lot of money, I went to the mill ends store in Tempe, AZ, called Sas. The first time I walked out of this store after browsing for a hour, I had the worst headache. There was just so much to look at and my brain was spinning with all of the possibilities.
I walked out with the organza that ended up on the finished dress and a whole lot of stretch satin which I decided not to use as soon as I got it home and started working with it. It was too heavy and thick for all of the gathering in the waist and to "float" over the crinoline that was built into the lining of the dress.
And there was some concern that the color wasn't right anyway. It was more of what I would call a raspberry, even though the thread colors said antique rose.
In an effort to save some money, I drafted my own patterns. I like the way the bodice turned out, but there are some things that I would have done differently with the skirt if I had another crack at it. Instead of making the skirt a large rectangle that was gathered at the top, I would sew together four triangular pieces that would then have less gathering and more of a bell a the bottom. I was concerned about having to do this with the organza, which would have visible seams all around. I also am not very happy with the sash. With the shrug on, it looks like too much fabric around the waist. I made the sash the same width as the bow, and did some gathering around at the back, sides and front.

After several starts and restarts, re-buying fabrics, and zippers, alterations, picking things apart and putting them back together, I am so relieved that this is finished. I hope I can get to my friend in Canada in time. I'm also concerned about how pink the organza turned out to be after three layers of the skirt are put together.
Will I ever be happy about making clothes?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Where were you on the day the world stopped turning?

Posted by: Paulette

As we approach the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, I am reviewing that day in my mind.
I was taking Dave to work and had a crying baby in the back seat. As we panned through the radio stations to find some music to sooth him, we realized that they were all taking about the same thing.  
Our country had been attacked. Never since Japan attacked Peal Harbor, had our nation been attacked on this level. 
While in the car, I'd heard about the attack on the pentagon building. I arrived at my grandmother's house soon after and walked in prepared to take her shopping. It was Tuesday. Our designated day to do her grocery shopping and go to lunch. She loved to spend time with her great grandchildren, and myself. I asked her if she'd heard that the pentagon had been hit by a plane. She said, "yes, and the Twin Towers too." I didn't know at the time what the Twin Towers were. I soon found out that they were in New York. 
 Later, I heard accounts of my cousins who lived and worked just blocks away of their experiences. It must have been a horrific experience. One of the good things that came from it was the unity that all New Yorkers felt at the time. There was no more mistrust. Strangers were holding hands and helping those who needed to be held up.

We soon learned that there was so much more happening that day. Ordinary people became heroes. A country divided after a contested election came together and flew banners of national pride.
 Grandma and I did our shopping as usual. I picked up Dave from work and he and a good friend watched hours of coverage of the fallout. I felt helpless to do anything for the people who were in the midst of the crisis and so did only what I could do. 
I bought a flag and hung it. And went about doing errands.  And I prayed. I was 8 months pregnant with Jonny, and thought, "how can humans do this kind of thing to other humans?" Or better put, "how can children of God do this to our brothers and sisters?" 
"what kind of world am I bringing this child into?"

Many people were paralyzed with the horror of what was happening. I  think I was prepared. My teen years were spent in Alaska during the Cold War. I  remember the celebration of the Berlin wall coming down. Nuclear attack was ever present in my mind as a real possibility. If people could walk across the frozen Bering Strait, why couldn't the Soviets attack military personnel in Alaska? 

I had already reviewed  this scenario in my mind many times. It was already real to me.
We are all stronger than we  think we are. And these things that are happening are a sign of better things to come. I refer to the second coming of our Savior Jesus Christ. I testify, that He is real. And he does not leave us on our own to deal with our lives. He is there to lift us up, if we are willing to take His hand.

For those of us who experienced 9/11, even from across the country, it will always be remembered with feelings of horror and hope. And the heroes will always have our thanks.

So, where were you when the world stopped turning?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Thai Mango Chicken Curry

Posted by: Paulette

Last night I decided to use some of my huge bush of Thai basil to make some curry. Lucky for me, mangoes were on sale at the farmer's market.
Unfortunately, I'm not a shutter bug, and I have a camera that's on it's way out. Wouldn't it be fun to have a make up  and camera crew following me around all day. No! Thank you very much. I'd much rather throw my hair up into a headband, sans make up and just go about my creative way. Making messes and incredible things to eat and look at!
So, there will not be any shots of me cooking, or even a picture of how my curry turned out. It disappeared way too fast for that! 
The nice thing about curries, is that you can use whatever vegetables you have on hand, and just about any protein you choose. This one is made using chicken, but would be good with shrimp, or tofu.

Thai Mango Chicken Curry
2 Tablespoons oil
1 Pound chicken breasts cut into 1 inch cubes
1 large onion chopped
1-2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic chopped

1 red bell pepper sliced
10  fresh green beans, trimmed and chopped into 1 inch pieces
1/4 (about 1 cub) coarsely chopped cabbage
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 cup chopped broccoli
1 large mango peeled and chopped into 1 inch cubes
1 Tablespoon ground lemon grass ( I get mine in a tube, but you can also use fresh)
Juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons fish sauce

crushed red pepper to taste (1 tsp to 2 TBSP)
1 Tbsp sugar or other sweetener ( I used about 4 packets of Truvia)
1 can coconut milk

A good hand full of Thai basil, chopped 
2 Tbsp fresh cilantro chopped

Heat a deep, large pan to medium high heat. Add first five ingredients. Stir fry until onions are starting to caramelize and chicken has a good sear on it.
Add next 9 ingredients, turn heat down to medium low and steam vegetables for about 2 minutes, or until carrots and broccoli are al dente.
Add last three ingredients and cover until warm.
Just before serving, stir in the Thai basil and cilantro.

You could use sweet basil if that is all that's available, but Thai basil has a spicy smell to it, that differs from Italian basil. And if you live nearby, give me a call. I'm sure I have enough for you to have some if you want to swing by!

Ours was served over brown rice, but you can do other rice or Thai noodles.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Fun with Fall Flowers

Posted by: Paulette

All of the Fall decorations were dug out about a week ago and I've been adding a little something about every other day. I just can't stop! I love the fiery colors of the fall leaves. 

This wreath, which hangs on the front door, was made from a hand full of thrift store flowers and a $3 thrift store (ugly) wreath, that I pulled apart and flipped around to avoid showing all of the hot glue. The stems are just tucked into the grapevine and can be changed out for a different season. I didn't want the hanger to take away from the natural beauty of the flowers, so I just used a length of brown grograin ribbon.

This wreath was originally covered in faux lavender stems. I've loved it for years, but it was beyond dusty, and used to hang in the kid's bathroom where I recently painted a mural on the wall. So, rather than send it off to the thrift store, I gave it a makeover. The entire form was covered in sheet moss, and then I began wiring and gluing stems into it. Some of the leaves are actually gold glitter leaf skeletons that I found at Joann Fabrics.Then after a good cleaning, some of the lavender stems were used.

Can you believe that those black things are the doors to my entertainment center? The boys hung on them so many times that they ended up in the garage leaning against the wall for a couple of years. They are no longer strong enough to hang from the hinges, but a little wood glue and some paint and they make a great back drop on the mantle for Fall. I re hinged them in the center so that they can be folded up and stored when not in use. I opted to paint them in chalk board paint, so that I can use them as a chalk board later. 
Now. About that wreath! David bought me that wreath our second Christmas together. It was just a plain grapevine wreath with a few vines of ivy and some other kind of embellishment that was removed long ago. He told me he bought the plainest one they had, so that I could dress it up for any season. How smart is that? It's like a little black dress, right? 
That's exactly what I've done every year. It gets new accessories for each season. This time, I've wired it with 3 garlands of fall leaves, zig zagging across and around the wreath. A few red berries and some pine cones are thrown in. The hanger is a jute ribbon, that's hing on two tacks that were pushed through the back of the cabinet doors. 

Just one more. I promise. This arrangement was an after thought. I had a cheap foam pumpkin that the kids had punched holes into the top and the bottom of. Trash right? Nope. I took the remainder of the fall bouquet bought at the thrift store, some of the flowers pulled off of the ugly (before) wreath, and tucked them into one hole. The other hole is plugged with a flameless tea lite. When the light is turned on at night, the "vase" emits a soft glow.

That's all for now. Just wait until you see all of the pillow covers I've been making!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Last year's Halloween decoration.

Posted by: Paulette

This was so simple to do. Use white pencil to draw your design onto black poster paper. I slit mine down the center lengthwise and then taped them together to make mu town street longer. Cut around your town with a craft knife and then carefully cut out the windows and doors etc.
When you're finished accordion pleat the town. You'll want to fold about every foot. By doing this, you'll be able to store it away flat for the next year, and it will stand on it's own.
Are you excited about Halloween? Have you started crafting yet?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

It's beginning to look & smell a bit like Fall

Posted by: Paulette
Dave and the kids were working out in the back yard today. They cut down one of the dead branches from one of the many trees. And since the leaves are all over the lawn,  I got to get a little taste of Fall, by crunching through them. The weather here has been stiflingly hot. My energy levels are down. All I want to do is stay in the relatively cool air of my house. Because walking outside, as my aunt says, feels like you're sucking on a blow dryer. Or walking into an oven. Blech! This is what it looks like right now just outside of Mesa. Actually, this is pretty much what it looks like year round. LOL! Now imagine living near this desert in 114 degree weather during the day and 98 at night.  Summer here starts in March and ends at the end of October.

Superstition Mtn
Every year at the beginning of September, I pull out the fall leaves garlands and the gingerbread spice candles. Dave always makes fun of me and says that I'm pretending that it's fall. Grrrr!
One of my favorite things about fall is hot apple cider. It's too stinkin' hot to be drinking hot apple cider. So I settle for some homemade pot-pouri. A few cloves and a sprinkle of cinnamon with some orange peels, an apple core and a little bit of water simmering on the stove brings in that ambiance that I'm looking for. And then I begin decorating.
 This year I collect a ton of inspiration pictures from my new best friend, Pinterest
Here's some of what I have so far. I have started the decorating, but I'm waiting until I'm finished to post pictures of what I've done. I've got so many irons in the fire that this is going to take a while.
So enjoy.

This window gave me an idea to use something that I already had sitting  in the garage. It needed some repair, and some paint, but it will do nicely!
 This picture caught my eye because of the "fairy lights." That's just what I call them when Christmas is past. I love the galvanized container and have just the thing to copy this look. I even have some dead tree branches, as I've already mentioned!

 Mercury glass is so hot right now. And I've seen lots of tutorials on how to copy this look. I'm not sure how I'm going to pull this one off, but I have a few ideas brewing. They involve paper mache`, and some spray paint.

 I, Like many others have fallen in love with this embroidered pillow that can be purchased for an arm and a leg at Pottery Barn. My idea involves some $1 pillow forms bought at Goodwill, and some fabric from Joann's. I've completed two pillows and have a few more to do.

I love the organic look of the unshelled nuts in the vases with white pillar candles. This is a fantastic idea for Thanksgiving for down the center of the table. It's a more updated look than the cornucopia.
 Isn't this wreath gorgeous? I have several autumn leaf garlands, and I've already re-purposed two of them and an old grapevine wreath to get this same look.
Another beautiful Autumn leaves wreath. This one has been hung in an unconventional way and has mini pumpkins attached. They have small votive candles in them. What a fantastic idea! I think two of these will be great hanging above the kitchen table. I'll be on the look out for matching grapevine wreaths at the thrifts stores.

 Since I've been incorporating aqua  and turquoise through out the house, I'll be mixing in a bit of that too.