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December 27, 2012

Grandpa Leitner made these toys some time back.  Aren't they awesome?

We would like to pass these toys on to someone who can enjoy them.  Most just need a good cleaning and perhaps a fresh coat of paint.  The wooden dump truck needs repairs to the handle and steering wheel, and the crane needs a little repair work too.

There's also a large red wooden wagon.  I had to be really creative to be able to fit them all into the room, and I haven't extracted it yet.  There's at least one other rocker and a bunch of metal/plastic toy trucks, too!

We also have cargo style furniture to pass on! 


Twin Bed (with toddler rails and storage drawers): 80" x 42"
6 Drawer Dresser: 32.5"w x 20"dx 48h"
Bookcase (non adjustable shelves): 36"w x 12"d x 47h"

the toddler rails slip into the vertical slots about 4 inches from the edges.

books and accessories not included.

October 27, 2012

Having used my bags repeatedly now, I've come up with some alterations.

The Corduroy Bag

Too small, which is frustrating, especially after looking at this photo and thinking how big it looks.  IT'S NOT!  I think I can fix it by adding fabric to the bottom, and I actually have fabric that will work with this.  So . . . I'm going to take it apart and do so.  Fortunately I don't have to take apart the difficult bits at the top.

The Hip Bag

Having used this on two cruises now, I love it.  It's not quite big enough for everyday use, though.  I'm trying to come up with a small list of alterations.  This WAS, after all, only supposed to be a prototype.  However, I'm not going to alter this bag, but just make a new one in nicer fabric.  (and I found some nice, nice fabric.  I can't wait to see how it turns out!)

First, it needs a proper belt that's a little easier to remove.  My biggest problem was trying to get out of the silly thing when I needed to run it through the security machine whenever reboarding the ship.  I simply had it strung on a cord with one of those squeeze pins to keep it around my waist.  I had thought my design would allow me to use the bag as either a shoulder or a hip bag, but I found I much preferred it as a hip bag.  I was considering parachute clips, but I'm not sure how easy those are to find in the size I want them to be.  I think if I add two rings to the bag and get some swivel snap hooks, it will work just fine.

It needs to be just a LITTLE bit wider.  A little annoying since I'll have to cut a zipper down to size, but I just can't fit a full passport inside it.

I need more card storage if I want to use it everyday.  I only had the very basics on the ship, but running around during the day, I'd need room for the additional store cards, library cards, insurance cards, gift cards, and the metro pass card I normally haul about.

My husband has been carrying around an aspirin tube in his pocket and just mixing all his pills inside.  I'm thinking instead of installing a zipper pouch in the next one, I'll put in a little pocket in the inner corner to hold a similar tube.  I've got one in there now and it fits OK.  I can always pick up pepto bismol in pill form rather than the pre-wrapped chewables.  Although a zippered interior pouch would be nice for loose change.  Perhaps I should install an exterior one on the back?

The formal wristlets I just made worked fine, although they could probably stand to be a little wider, too.  The owl already came loose so I'm going to have to reattach it in a new way.

Finally, I'm happy with the flap, but I need to attach it to the bag at both ends.  Lots of choices for this.  Buckles? snaps? a button? slot and tab?  We'll see what happens.
October 5, 2012

Here's the next evening bag, made with leftover fabric from my clockwork doll.  The pattern is based on Amy Cornwell's clutch tutorial.

The jewelry finding is an earring.  It looked ridiculous in my ear.  The other half is now a necklace.

Slippery fabrics are hard to sew.  Must be more careful next time to lessen the sloppiness.

This was supposed to be a mockup.  It became a monster.

I bought a pattern off of Etsy from Lekala of what I thought would be a cute, simple jacket with minimal fabric requirements, exactly what I wanted to make with the mere 2 yards of coral fabric I had.  Since the fabric on the discount table at G Street Fabrics was cheaper than muslin, I grabbed a large amount of what I felt closest matched the type of fabric I had, and set to work testing out the pattern.

For all its cuteness and simplicity, this pattern was a bear for a beginner like me.  It's a computer generated file customized to your measurements.  However, the instructions were rather foreign to me, (I guess translated English?  I'd never heard of a selvage being referred to as a 'beam' before.) and the printouts had the annoying habit of being JUST a little bit over the edge onto the next page, coupled with my printer's inability to print the last 3/4" inch of each page.  And I had to add on the seam allowances myself, which was difficult due to the close layout of the pattern pieces.  Fortunately I have a stash of large sized paper that I was eventually able to trace over.

Once I overcame those obstacles, I had to solve the problem of the huge sleeves.  If I narrowed the sleeves, the armhole became too big.  If I narrowed the armhole one way I got these awful pulls in the back.  I eventually just added a big curve to the arm and that will have to do.

By this point I'm thinking this cheap striped fabric is pretty awesome and I actually DO want a 'real' jacket out of it.  I decide I'm going to add cuffs.  And pleats.  And lace.  And a button.  I have no idea how to do any of this, but years of faking it in one inch scale gave me confidence to proceed in my insanity.

So, this was a real learning experience.  And I'm still not done!  I need to solve the droopy lining problem, most likely with hem tape.  And then - make the coral one.
October 2, 2012

 This bag is made from the Buttercup Bag pattern found on Made By Rae's blog.

I'm slightly disappointed.  I needed a BIGGER purse, not a smaller one!  I can barely fit my basics inside.  I do, however, like how nicely it fits under my arm.

I'm not sure I could have made it much bigger in any case.  The brown corduroy is made from an old vest I found at the thrift shop.  It proved to be a much nicer fabric for bags than vests!  I have just enough left to make a wristlet.

If you think that interior color looks familiar, it is.  The fabric I used for the owl bags just made the exterior vest fabric go 'pop!'  So I had to use it again.  In fact, I had to go buy more, and was lucky I could still find it at JoAnn's.  

September 29, 2012

My husband loved Chinese food when he was younger, but increasing food allergies and intolerances have made it impossible for him to eat it anymore.

Until the other night!  After a lot of research and multiple grocery store visits, I was able to produce a gluten free, soy free, peanut free, sugar free version of General Tso's chicken.  He was so thrilled he could barely chew for exclaiming his excitement.  

I started with this recipe from Rock Recipes.  I opted for baked both for health reasons and for minimizing the mess.  I didn't actually have to change much.  I used Splenda instead of sugar, and carefully examined bottles in the stores for possible allergens, and bought the safe ones.  The results were delicious and very close to the restaurants we had eaten at in the past.  I overdid the grated ginger, but know for next time to use less.  There will most definitely BE a next time.  Also for next time I will likely increase the amount of sauce, as there was barely enough.  The chicken turned out more a golden color than the dark red in the picture shown on the web site, but the flavor more than made up for it.  

I know you're saying "but . . . soy sauce . . ." right about now.  I'd been searching for alternatives off and on for a few years now, and my latest search turned up an awesome product.  Check out this company:  Coconut Secret.  And specifically this product.  Coconut Aminos!  It worked perfectly, and produced an excellent sauce for the chicken.  Previously my husband had tried fish oil, which gave me terrible heartburn, but this had no negative after-effects for either of us.  I am really excited about this product.  It opens up a whole new genre of food for home cooking that doesn't involve a lot of bread.  

I believe lo mein is next on the list - using NoOodles!
September 26, 2012

I tend to lean towards bright, cheery patterned bags and purses, so the other week I went to a wedding, and realized that I didn't have any 'formal' handbags.  I wanted something tiny that would hold only the very basics: cards, cash, cell phone, a tissue, keys and a few allergy pills.   I ended up using the turquoise leather mini-purse I had bought to throw in my backpack for school.

I certainly looked at bags and clutches.  I stared at simple little wristlets that had a price tag of $98 and wondered why $3 worth of materials could be inflated so much just by adding someone's name to it.  Something in me also snapped.  "I'm never going to buy a bag again! From now on, I'm MAKING them!"  I heard myself say.  Custom designed originals by Elaine!

It's all in the fabric choices, I realized. Buy a quarter yard of the nicer fabrics, raid the remnant bins, and invest in a few zippers and D rings and those magnetic clasps.

Fortunately I found a really cute pattern on Noodle-Head through Pinterest.  They used cutesy fabrics, but I could see the potential for a more formal look.  It was quite easy to do and customize to my own needs!

I had been hoping for more of a brocade, but could find none in black, so went with the black, silvery glitter knit.  The owl was left over from the Owl Bag endeavor, and seemed to insist that it went perfectly.  The interior is a satiny silver.  I have enough fabric left over to make two or three more!  Again, I made it JUST big enough to hold my passport, and once more, I have a hard time getting it through the zipper.  Just a quarter of an inch more is all I need!  

I have a lot of leftover orange silk from my Clockwork Doll project.  Guess what I'm making next?

September 7, 2012

Some time back I decided I wanted to make my wedding gown in 1" scale.  No doll, just the gown on a mannikin.  Dolls were giving me too many problems - either I had a dress idea that didn't suit any of the dolls I had, or the dolls I had refused to cooperate with any dress ideas! So - gown, no body.

I ran into the same problem I had with the actual gown - I couldn't find fabric I liked!  Instead, I found the most beautiful piece of lace on Etsy, sold by LaceBeauty.

I had to write and ask her to sell me just a yard, and while she probably thought I was strange, she complied, and my lace soon arrived.

Then a few months went by as I struggled with trying to figure out how to turn this piece into a gown, until one day I finally just sat down and pinned it this way and that, until, suddenly, it all worked.  It was like magic.

I'm still struggling with getting the gown to 'lay' right without anything supporting it, but am pleased that at least this much of it stands on its own.  The sleeves also gave me problems, but these will do for now.  The lace is the main attraction here.  I love it.  I also have enough left over for ONE more gown.  

August 22, 2012

I came up with a little trick yesterday that made hemming pants easier for me.

I always had a hard time trying to figure out just how the fabric should be folded in order for the blind hem stitch to work.  I knew it had to go a certain way, but folded the fabric in all sorts of directions before I got it right.  I would pin it one way, fold around, pin it another way, remeasure, adjust, repin . . .

Eventually I was able to streamline the process a bit so that I no longer had to place and move pins repeatedly.  I realize more experienced sewers are laughing at me, or know an even better method, but they weren't there sharing, so I figured this out the hard way and I'm going to write it down so I'll remember!

Step 1.  Figure out how much you need to take up the hem.   (In order for these pants to fit right, I need to fold them up ___ inches.).  Pin here if you need to, but only enough to determine desired pant/skirt length and measure the amount you want to shorten the garment.  (this is the 'Length of Hem' in the photo.)

Step 2.  Figure out how high up you want your hem stitches to be from the desired new hem of the fabric.  (I want my stitches to be ___ inch(es) above the edge of the fabric.)

Step 3.  (I use my sewing gauge for this, mainly because it is awesome and I use it for everything.)  on the INSIDE of your pant leg (or skirt), measure the amount you determined in Step 1, with that number on the outer edge.

Step 4.  Now, fold the fabric of your pants up over the gauge until you reach the number determined in Step 2, and then fold back so a kind of pleat is created.   Pin the fold down.

Step 5.  Repeat all the way around the fabric.  You're all set for stitching!  You can trim off the excess here (all except for about half an inch at least to sew on).  I prefer to trim after I'm satisfied that I haven't made any horrible measuring mistakes.

Step 6.  Set up your machine to do a blind hem stitch according to directions. You will be sewing along the edge of that fold, with the fold on the right.  (see photo.)

Step 8.  When you finish sewing, flip the new hem to its proper position, and double check that it falls where you want it to before trimming off the excess.  I suppose you could also opt to sew a zigzag along the excess before trimming to prevent unraveling. Press well!

August 20, 2012

After seeing a few sewing machines with very large platforms surrounding them, and seeing them in use, I had a major case of extension table envy.  Everything's so neat and flat and glides so smoothly!  I wanted one, but talking to the Husqvarna rep (did you know certain types of sewing machines have dealers?) revealed a price range of over $100 for varying sizes.  Nope.  Couldn't justify it.  Want.  Too expensive  Want.  It's just a flat piece of plexiglass with some markings on it!  Whine.  Wait, does it HAVE to be plexiglass?

My special stash of super-nice cardboard from Brian's diploma frame packaging slips into the front of my brain.  "Makkkeee onnnneee" that increasingly large, encouraging, DIY portion of my mind whispers.


It's exactly what you think it is.  Super dense, durable cardboard, Dollar Tree contact paper, and some temporary drafting tape with lines drawn on it until I can come up with a better idea.  I used glue, a pencil, a metal ruler, and a boxcutter.  

The complicated part was sizing it to the machine, but I was able to pull off the surround (I don't know its technical name, but it includes the compartment where you stash the extra bobbins and feet), and turned it upside down and drew around the hole on a piece of paper.  

View of the underside.
On the underside, I made an L shape with cardboard cut to the necessary height, and included a square of foamcore to stabilize the corners.  I was fortunate to have a spare box that was the perfect height and width for underneath the table. (it's that green box, I haven't covered it yet.)  That box fills up most of the rest of the space underneath and supports it quite nicely.  It feels very secure to me, but I haven't tried sewing with it yet.  For all I know it's going to bounce and vibrate all around when the machine starts.  Still, it'd be perfectly adequate for the amount of sewing I do, and it doesn't need to support a lot of weight.  It will do until I can justify the cost of the company-made table.

Update: 1/25/2013 - This has proven to be quite sturdy for sewing.  Sometimes it slides a bit out of place but that is easily remedied.  I also have developed the bad habit of using it as a temporary storage space, and it can hold quite a bit of weight!  Just make sure you use something really sturdy!

Update 2:  5/16/2013 - I've just discovered illustration board, and think it might be a good recommendation in place of my cardboard.  It's 1/16" thick, and can be cut with an Xacto knife.  I found it at Michaels in the art supplies.

August 16, 2012

When I moved, I lost the horizontal storage needed to store my jewelry box, and had to leave it behind.  My jewelry lived in limbo for ages.  I eventually bought hanger storage, which was great for my pins and preventing necklace snarls,

The rings were another problem.  I have lots of cheapy little rings, but they were too small to take up a single pocket, and I didn't want them all jumbled up together in one.  It's hard to hang rings and yet make them easy to get remove!

So I was very excited when I first saw SellzCuteThings' DIY Ring Wall Holder Tutorial on Pinterest.   Easy and cheap?  EUREKA!

I did mine a little differently, but the process is so simple that you can customize it in many ways.  The foam doesn't NEED to be covered, but I wanted to see just how fancy I could make it.

The foam curlers are easy to take apart: just slide the middle bar to one side and pull the foam off.  They could easily be cut to size if they don't fit perfectly in the selected box.  (I tried just stringing them on ribbon, which worked, but I was afraid the rings would fall out the other side, so I had to go buy a box.  I think a cardboard cereal box would have worked, but it takes us forever to finish ours and I didn't want to wait!)

I also found the pencil case at the Dollar Tree, and it was the perfect size for fitting 16 curlers at a good pressure for holding rings in place.

I used the middle bar as a stabilizer to keep keep the foam in a straight line, just ran a bead of glue down the plastic and along one edge of a curler and assemble.  I measured out a piece of fabric just large enough to roll around each foam piece and glued in place.

The fabric?  In my stash.  Isn't it pretty?  It was actually a sample upholstery fabric swatch from JoAnns - a few years ago they sold off their old swatches for a dollar or two.   It does compete with the rings, though, so I would recommend using a less busy piece if you want to showcase your jewelry.

I do regret buying a see-through case.  I was in an inspirational hurry, and any box the right dimensions would do so long as I could get the project done right away.   I had JUST enough fabric left to disguise the otherwise messy sides, which turned out quite pretty.

The box could easily be hung if I cut a small hole in the top for ribbon.  I could also probably cut the lid off, but I rather like the added security of keeping the rings inside, because I STILL can't store it flat!  

So, $2 for two packs of foam curlers, $1 for the box, and I probably paid $1 for the fabric 5 years ago.  I'm pleased with the end results, and now that I can see and remember what I own, I will wear my rings more often!

Note:  I have REALLY small hands, my rings are a size 4, which may throw off the  visual dimensions.  Two foam curlers side by side measure 4.5" if you are planning your own box.  

August 15, 2012

The Christmas holidays are a big deal in my family, and includes a lot of gift giving. DVD movies are a particularly popular item on all of our wish lists. Given the amount of wrapping paper trash that we generate each year, and the number of DVDs I have wrapped every year, I decided that this year I would make up some fabric DVD gift wrappers to use and encourage everyone to reuse them. Below is a simple tutorial for a DVD gift wrapper. It features a full pocket with a mid-length flap, and can be decorated in many ways. It can also be made from a single fat quarter!  This is a great beginner's project.

DVD Gift Wrapper 


  • Hook and loop tape, 4” strip
  • Fabric, two pieces, measuring 7¼” by 22”
  • Matching thread
  • White thread
  • Coordinating Ribbon, 1 yard
  • Interfacing, useful for lightweight or see-through fabrics
Diagram, body measures 7.25"x22"

  • Sewing machine
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
Optional but oh-so-handy:
  • Quilter’s ruler
  • Rotary cutter
  • Point turner
  • ¼” presser foot

The Layout

The diagram on the right shows the layout and dimensions for the wrapper. It’s all one piece, but can be mentally divided into three sections, the flap, the pocket back, and the pocket front.

A typical DVD case measures 7 1/2 ”x 5 ¼” x 9/16,” and I used those dimensions for this tutorial. You may have to increase the length and width slightly for double case DVDs.

If you're using a fat quarter, be sure to double check its measurements before cutting.  Different stores or clerks may cut them to a different size!


1. Cut two 7 ¼” x 22” pieces of fabric, either from the same fabric or two contrasting pieces.

If you plan to use interfacing, follow the package instructions to iron on the interfacing to the wrong side of one of the pieces of fabric now.  Interfacing is not required, but helpful if you find you can see your DVD through the fabric layers!

If you want to sew decorations to the outside of the wrapper, do so now.

2. Align your two pieces of fabric with the right sides (the sides you want to show) together on the inside. Sew ¼” from the edges of the fabric all the way around, leaving an opening roughly 2” for turning.

 I left my opening on the lower half, as marked by the orange line on the diagram above. This way you won’t see it in the final product, and it will be sewn closed when the pocket is sewn.

3. Trim diagonally across the corners to reduce bulk, (avoid cutting the stitches) and turn right side out through the opening and carefully poke out the corners. Iron.

4.  Pick one side of your piece to be the interior of your wrap. At this point I changed out my top thread to white to match the tape, but left the bobbin the original color.  This way my stitches disappeared on the tape side, but weren't glaringly obvious on the red side!

Sew the ‘soft’ strip of hook and loop tape along one short edge on this side of the interior side, ¼” from the edge, and 1 ¼” from the sides. Since this is the flap that people will be touching and handling, you will want the softer piece on this end.

5. Turn the piece over to show the outer side of the wrap. To place the ‘rough’ strip of tape, measure 1 ¼” from each side, and 3 ¼” from the short edge of the piece to the long edge of the tape. Be sure that you are measuring from the edge that does NOT have the ‘soft’ tape on it. Stitch in place.

6. With right sides out, fold up the bottom half of the piece 8 7/8” and sew ¼” from the edges all the way around. Repeat with a narrow zigzag stitch for an added touch.

7.  Take your yard of ribbon and align the center of it with the center of the flap.  Sew the ribbon to the outside side of the flap, either following seam lines or along the edges of the ribbon.  After putting a DVD inside and closing the flap, bring the ribbon ends around to the opposite side of the wrapper and tie a bow.

The wrapper is done!

You can choose to forego hook and loop tape altogether and use buttons, snaps, or ties to hold your package closed.  The ribbon is a great place to tie on a nice name tag.  Alternatively, if you don't want to have to tie a bow every time, you can shorten the ribbon to 15 inches and sew a small square of hook and loop tape or snaps on opposite ends of the ribbon.  A premade bow or other embellishment can be attached to the top ribbon.

Having to untie the ribbon and ‘rip’ the Velcro helps to give the giftee the traditional feeling of ‘opening a present,’ rather than holding a slipcovered movie.  (Let’s face it, we all love ripping paper!)  The main problem with this wrapper is that it’s OBVIOUS that there’s a DVD inside. Granted, that’s the case with any wrapped DVD. The idea here is to reduce waste, not truly surprise the gift recipient. With that in mind, an empty DVD case is a great container for gift cards, cash, and small pieces of jewelry, so you can still surprise your giftee!

August 1, 2012

I've been thinking about making this tie on pincushion for a while, because I never leave enough space between my sewing machine and the edge of the table for my magnetic pinholder, and fear dumping the thing in my lap.  However, my machine is surprisingly bulky, and I had a very narrow option for tying around without interfering with any dials or levers.

So, I combined it with this idea for holding cords.  I made a narrow pincushion, sewing the soft half of a cut to size piece of velcro to it, and then attaching it to the machine with the Command velcro strips.  My only problem was deciding where to put it!  I changed my mind after making the cushion, and so it's actually a little too long for the spot, which is why there's no picture yet.  I figure it'll be easy enough to move if it gets annoying, or easy to make a new pincushion if I do like the spot!

UPDATE 8/11/12:  After using it for a bit, I'm not happy with the results.  It's a bit wobbly on the velcro, and the last think you want is for your pincushion to move when you're trying to jab it without looking.  I may have to go with the ties around the machine after all!
July 26, 2012

I only wish it had looked like this on me!
So, I have this Apt 9 dress.  I saw it at Kohl's a few years ago and fell in love with the peacock/paisley pattern and the soft sheer layer.

I bought in a rush, thinking it perfect for a cruise.  A summery mix of comfortable yet possibly formal, and long enough to resist those updraft winds that cause you to pull a Marilyn Monroe on the upper decks.  However, I soon realized that I probably should have bought a smaller size.  To be precise, I am not busty enough to fill it out.  And with the double layer sheer fabric, it made it all the more obvious.  The bust DROOPED.  It was awful.
Me in the dress.  Not nearly as exciting.

The boob droop is obvious here.  It's definitely not me.
Note how much I've shortened the straps!

Great fabric, but it droops even when i'm not in it!

So, having discovered the Refashionista blog and being fascinated by both her way of looking at clothes (what else could this dress be?) and her boldness in attacking preexisting clothing with her scissors, I decided to follow her lead.  I would lose the dress either way, as I was too embarrassed to wear it!

My inspiration dress, but not
enough fabric for the sleeves.  Too bad!
I have another sheer layered dress that I love, so I decided I would copy that directly.  It's a very basic shift dress, with an elastic waistband, and I figured I could copy it with minimal problems.

Fortunately the dress was super long, so I had plenty of fabric to work with!  I merely hacked off the top right under the band and carefully set to work.  

I would have posted a tutorial, but totally messed up.  I was trying to keep the lower half and the layers of the dress together, but that didn't work the way I was thinking.   I had tried just pinning outlines of the front and back at the top, but didn't think thoroughly about turning it right side out.  There's a lot of right and wrong sides in a two layer dress!  Fortunately I had done minimal cutting so I was able to fix it quickly by merely folding the excess fabric over the outer edge and restitching.  I'll add bias tape later on.
After: comfy summer dress!

The amazingly obvious white elastic will be gone as soon as the darker elastic I ordered arrives, and I may look for some matching ribbon to better decorate the top (which is very basic).

I can't wait to wear it again!

I may or may not do this again.  I do have a beautiful long skirt that has unfortunately developed holes near the buttons at the left hip, so I'm trying to figure out a way to fix it without destroying the style.  It's brown paisley and tea length, and goes perfectly with my brown suede boots!

June 26, 2012

Frustrated by my inability to find bread in the store that's soy free, I've turned to making my own.

While meal planning and dealing with meat are not on my list of things I like to do, baking is another story.  I love measuring and kneading and stirring.  I have no qualms at all about foregoing the spoon and mixing dough with my bare (but clean, of course) hands.  It's FUN.

Until it isn't.  I found a no-knead bread recipe on Pinterest and liked the idea.  Fresh baked bread always an hour away?  How useful!  And cheap!  And better than ingesting all the added preservatives and chemicals.  I know EXACTLY what goes into my bread.

Unfortunately, I could not get my bread to turn out.  I invested in a nice big glass jar to store dough in the fridge.  (I couldn't find a plastic one the right size.)  The first batch actually turned out OK, rose beautifully, even, but was just too salty.  The following batches grew steadily worse.  Or at least, not what I expected.  The main problem was the crust being dark brown while the inside was undercooked, even after internal temperatures had reached the recommended amount.  I had to resort to breaking the loaf because I couldn't cut into it.  So I researched.  And researched.  And got big, heavy, complex books out of the library.  And tested.  I bought a jar of yeast.  I tried a glass loaf pan, a metal bakeware one, and the pizza stone.  I tried an aluminum foil tent to prevent the crust from browning too quickly.  I switched from bread flour to all-purpose.  I suddenly realized the all-purpose was bleached, which apparently makes a difference.  I tried changing the baking times and temperatures.  It became a challenge I HAD to win.  And somehow I couldn't.  The recipe was NOT foolproof like it claimed!  We ate most of them anyway.

So I'm giving it one last old fashioned try.  I went back to the basics with this recipe and am currently waiting for it to rise.  The dough is much drier and easier to handle, so I'm hoping it will be adequate to the cause.  Otherwise I'm giving up on the recipe completely and moving on to other ones.

Update:  Dough looks beautiful, but I managed to set the fire alarm off.  So much for using metal cake pans for steam!  I think the temp was a LITTLE too high for them.  The house smells a little bit like the time I managed to melt the Christmas wreath.

Update 2:  House now smells like warm, fresh baked bread.  Bread came out absolutely perfect!  Rose beautifully, nice and squishy, cooked through, crust isn't too hard or thick, and not too salty, which was a concern in the comments section. I think I will leave it in a full 25 minutes next time.

I'm really excited about this.  I was getting SO frustrated trying to produce decent bread with the other recipe!  Now I know it's not me or the stove!
June 18, 2012

Having gotten school and lots and lots of travelling out of the way, I am now attempting to figure out what to do with my days.  I am feeling pretty befuddled and disorganized, which is very frustrating.  I find myself ignoring things like laundry and vacuuming and instead fiddling with little projects like this.

I needed something to hang in the downstairs bathroom now that it's clean and accessible.  Mom had offered me a selection of her and her grandmother's porcelain rose/flower collection, of which she has a large number.  I finally picked out a few with the idea that I could turn it into a wall hanging.  

After failing to find a wall vase or basket or the like, I finally said to myself, hey, baskets can be hung on the wall!  

The best part about this piece is the price.  The flowers were free or were leftovers from other projects.  The basket I found at the Dollar Tree.   The bottles were part of a huge mini-bottle stash I found at the thrift shop some time back for $2.00.  The hanging ribbon was a $2 clearance item.  The lace I had gotten off of Etsy some time back, and was pricy, but oh so pretty.  I considered making a doily to go with it, but first borrowed the lace to see how it worked with the flowers.  It was good enough, and I didn't have any other project in mind for that particular lace.  If I do in the future I shall remake the basket!  Everything is wired to the back to keep it from falling out.  

My problem now?  These colors go perfectly with the upstairs bathroom.  However, I have no available wall space at the right height for viewing.   I must resist, hang it in the bathroom it was made for, and start using that one more!

May 23, 2012

Finally got to see Williamsburg - our anniversarymoon AND graduation celebration trip.  We managed to hit the perfect time - lovely weather, flowers all out, and hardly any crowds.  I still need to work on my photography skills, but for now must be content in trying to 'rescue' what photos I did get.

Other than a weird blurryness in the bottom left of many of my photos, my biggest problem was I didn't want tourists in the picture.  So . . . I took 'em out.

Before editing - I mostly just wanted the carriage.

After - cropping and the rubber stamp tool removed what I didn't want.  

Yes, it's somewhat blurry, I had to be quick, plus he was moving.  I figure from here I can add some sort of watercolor effect to make the blurryness seem intentional.  I was lucky with this image in that the details behind the tourists were easy to figure out and fake.  I can't do it with all of the photos!

In our kitchen we have a large print of the Governor's Palace, nicely balanced in the center of one wall, framed by wrought iron candleholders.  I was hoping to find some smaller prints to go with it while we were down there, but nothing really appealed to me.  So I've decided I would take some of my pictures, play with them to match the watercolor/impressionistic effect of the big print, and hang them on either side.  I was thinking of stringing three small framed photos on a large ribbon on each side.

It wasn't until we got back and I looked at the print again that I learned for the first time that it's of the BACK of the palace.  Now I'm annoyed - I never bothered to take more than a blurry photo of the front because I thought I had it already!