A week ago, give or take, I decided I need to make something for Aria. And what did my crazy brain fix on? A cloak. Why? I have no idea. It just seemed like a good idea. And I had half (or so) of an old sheet left. I’ve been scavenging it for various projects. Like the trim on this chair we reupholstered.

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And the bottom of this pouf I made to keep Aria’s stuffed animals in.

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So I gathered my scrap sheet and went in search of a tutorial. I decided I liked this one. It is a tutorial for a Little Red Riding Hood costume. I also discovered that this site could be dangerous for me… Lots of ideas and tutorials – you should check it out.

I followed the cloak directions pretty closely, except I made a lining for the cloak because my sheet material wasn’t super thick and I just felt like it needed it. I also made mine shorter because Aria is shorter. And I didn’t have enough sheet left to make it any longer. I had to do the hood twice because I made it way to small the first time. I thought since my kid is so much younger than the one pictured it would work, but no. I had to start over on that.
And I must apologize. I did a really bad job of taking pictures during the process. Please check out the link to see the pics there.

I made a strap to go under the chin and fastened it with Velcro. The buttons are just for pretty. Aria is pretty happy with it, but I think she might be confusing it with a cape because as soon as she puts it on, she starts sprinting across the house. And now I am wondering how many cousins would like one of these for Christmas…

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She is in motion, as always.

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(Ignore the dead basil on the counter there…)

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I am naturally an evening person. I don’t say night person because I don’t actually like to stay up super late, but in the evening, I really like to read and work on projects. I get inspired.

That’s not what happened this time.

I have a book called The Homemade Pantry by Alana Chernila. A couple years ago, my sister-in-law (brother’s wife) asked for it for Christmas. When I got it for her, I couldn’t help flipping through it and liking it. So I asked my sister-in-law (husband’s sister) to get it for me. Since then I haven’t really made a lot of recipes from it. For part of that time I was living with my parents while David was deployed and then I kind of forgot about it. Well I’ve had it back out lately. A few days ago, I made the white bread recipe (sogoodiwanttoeatitall). While the book was out for the making of the bread, David flipped through it, wondering aloud why I hadn’t made more of the recipes. Then he got to page 58. “You have a recipe for pop tarts and you haven’t made it yet?!?!”

(Technically, no, I have a recipe for toaster pastries.)

So one thought led to another and we are going to the zoo tomorrow (unless my sickish kid gets sicker) and we will need snacks and… toaster pastries! So this afternoon (later than I would have liked, because that’s kind of how I roll), I measured out my flour, cut up my butter, dissolved the salt in vinegar, finger-mixed, chilled, used my mixer, wondered why it wasn’t coming together like it’s supposed to, looked back at my recipe to see that I had forgotten the water (I thought it had seemed like not enough liquid… side note: I prefer when recipes include water measurements in the ingredients list instead of only mentioning them in the direction steps – I obviously don’t read those closely enough.), added the water, and etc. Once the dough came together, it was supposed to be patted into discs and chilled for a couple hours.

Fortunately for me, it can stay in the fridge longer.

You see, today David suggested we have left overs for dinner so I wouldn’t have to cook. I agreed and put together my menu with one less meal and did my grocery shopping. While I was at the store, he took Aria to the park where he found a couple of tiny trees growing in the mulch. He pulled them up and asked me if he could keep them. Ok, those weren’t his exact words, but I could kind of sense the kid-found-a-stray-puppy voice coming through the texts. (I don’t even know what kind of tree this is).

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So even though I didn’t have to take time to cook dinner, we had to go to the store and get some little pots and potting soil so the poor things could have a new home.

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We got home at six and, first things first, I had to put the rolls, which had been rising for longer than I’d intended, in the oven (I didn’t mention this earlier – I also made these so that we can use them for sandwiches at the zoo tomorrow and hamburger buns on Thursday).

Drama happened while those were in the oven (I won’t bore you, it was just kid and baby stuff) and then they were done and I could finally put the left overs in there to reheat. We finally ate dinner after 7 and then it was time for Aria to go to bed.

And that’s how I came to be making toaster pastries so late in the evening. I don’t think I have ever (at least in recent years) baked anything after 8 that wasn’t cookies. But I wasn’t going to skip this – I really want these for our snack tomorrow!

So I rolled out, measured, and cut the dough:

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Instead of making filling, I decided to use some syrup/sauce/stuff I had made out of the strawberries we picked a month ago. I thawed it and had enough with just a tiny bit extra to fill my pastries. It is obviously the first time I’ve made these. But then again, sometimes imperfections make things yummier…right?

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Then into the oven. And out again.

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They look delectable. David and I just stared at them. Then he said, “I’d better go to bed” and turned and walked upstairs. I will wait for them to cool, and displaying great self-control, put them in a container to take to the zoo tomorrow.

Update: we didn’t get to go to the zoo because Aria woke up sick in the night. Instead of looking at animals, we are lounging around, eating toaster pastries (which were delicious, by the way), and planning to make chicken noodle soup for dinner. We will make it to the zoo someday though! I am determined.

So I have a question for you, my readers. You who have for some reason followed me despite lapses of nearly a whole year. (Does this even count as blogging?) But I really want to do this. I do. I’m just trying to figure out the when of it. You would be shocked at how much time it takes to raise a toddler and a baby. Or maybe you wouldn’t. Either way, they keep me plenty busy. And then I make it worse by deciding that I need to cook fancy foods. Ok, they aren’t super fancy, but for weeknight meals being served to a toddler, on the regular, they’re kinda fancy.
So about that question. David told me that I should start a cooking blog. I simultaneously think that sounds fun and redundant since most of my recipes come from somewhere else (mostly Smitten Kitchen recently). I pointed that out to him and he argued that it would be ok because I make changes and such. So I wanted to know what you think. If you’re out there.
Of course, I can’t stop being me, which means that I am also working on reupholstering a chair and embroidering Christmas presents (getting a head start – yay!), and reading a book for book club. So I wouldn’t just do recipes; you would be subjected to all of that as well. But should I post more of what I’m making (s’more of what, you haven’t had any yet) or no?
Or maybe I’ll just ramble on until someone stops me.
I am taking the issue into consideration.

In the mean time, here is what we had for dinner last night. It is adapted from ‘Nancy’s chopped salad’ here. (I told you I’ve been cooking a lot of Smitten Kitchen). I pretty much followed the recipe except I left out the chickpeas, increased the salami slightly and decreased the cheese a little. Also, they had no radicchio at the store so I put in a little more lettuce. I made a half batch and that was plenty for me and David with a small serving left over. Aria didn’t eat her small portion – she is dubious on the whole concept of salads.

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Happy Labor Day!

I’ve been meaning to blog for a long time. In fact, I’ve written several posts in my head as I was falling asleep. Unfortunately those don’t count since I don’t have my brain set to auto-post on here. Maybe I’ll do that later.

Big news since my last post: we are expecting kid #2 in February. I am almost halfway through this pregnancy and it still feels unreal. Maybe it’s because we waited so long for Aria and this time around involved no waiting. Maybe it’s because Aria keeps me so busy. I don’t know. All I know that reality is not sinking. Maybe in a couple weeks when we find out the gender (assuming baby cooperation) it will be a little easier to grasp. Maybe? I guess we’ll find out. Whatever the case with reality, it doesn’t seem like a second kid will help my writing consistency at all. So sorry.

Good news: First trimester is over and done with. I haven’t been blasted with a surplus of energy. I’ve heard some women get this. They must be the same ones who don’t have nausea ever and feel so wonderful on their little pregnancy cloud. Hmm, that smacks of bitterness, maybe. You may have guessed that I am not one of those. Nausea had me plastered to the couch for almost two months and had my poor husband trying to juggle everything around here at the same time that he was taking on a new role at work. And Aria spent a lot of time on the couch with me pretending to read her little books and asking repeatedly for me to take her on a walk. She was a little understanding though, and would give me sweet little pat-pats on my back when I was hunched over the toilet. Who says one and a half is too early to be sweet?

But that is over. So so glad. I’m still not really attracted to food in general, though a few items have started to sound alright, if not actually good. Except ice cream. That sounds good. Every day. I really shouldn’t talk about it, though.

What I actually want talk about today (while it’s still fresh in my mind) is the project I just finished. I really should have been cleaning the house, cleaning up those areas that have been neglected for a few months (please, no one look at my baseboards or under the fruit drawer in the fridge). But instead I was converting one of David’s old dress shirts into a dress for Aria.

~Interesting side note: David just texted me that he loves throwing things away. I responded that I love making things out of old things. I thought it was appropriate here.~

I got the idea for this project from this blog and have it on my pinterest. I don’t know what’s going on, but right now the link does not seem to be working, or maybe something has happened to the blog. I’m hoping this isn’t permanent because I am wanting to do this again when Aria is bigger and I was wanting to see what else she has posted. Time will tell, I guess. Anyway, she (I don’t even know who she is!) gets idea credit.

This project started with a plain grey, button-up dress shirt that my husband wanted to throw away (I saved it from the trash can!). First I used my seam ripper to remove the collar. If you look at the picture below you’ll see that most of the collar is removed (the part that folds over) leaving behind what functions as the collar on the new dress. I resewed the top seam shut at some point. (That’s not clear at all, is it?)  I used a dress of Aria’s as a template to draw a basic A-line. A-line

That first big cut always makes me a little nervous. But that done, I could continue with the process. I went out of order on the directions I was following and decided to do the shirring before I sewed up the side seams (she did this last). First I needed to practice. I had never worked with elastic thread before. I’m not sure I really like doing it, but the effect is pretty cool so I’m glad I have done it now. I think in the future, it would be nice, when possible, to find elastic thread the same color (or similar) to the top thread I’m using. I hear such things exist, but my options were white and black. I went with white elastic and pink thread on top for some color in the middle.  Here are pictures of my practice piece and the dress after shirring.

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I sewed up the side seams and folded and sewed down the collar because it was just too tall around her neck.  (Please ignore the messy table).

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So all this was fairly simple, right? That left the part that is always most challenging to me: the sleeves. I find sleeves daunting because I want to give them enough room that Aria can lift up her arms without having a bunch of extra fabric clumping around her armpits. It’s even harder for me when the dress has to be put on over her head, so this one had an advantage in that department. Still daunting. And then I had to go and make it more complicated on myself. I decided that it would be cute if I used the existing cuffs, but made the sleeves 3/4. I used the same seam-ripping technique I’d used on the collar to remove the cuffs. I figured out (mainly while contemplating my technique as I was trying to fall asleep at night) that it would not be easy to sew the portion of the sleeve I wanted to use back into the cuffs. How would I be able to put a circular bit of sleeve into a cuff that, while making a circle, didn’t actually have the ends of the circle meet up?  This led me to the idea of using the same opening the sleeve already had, just farther up. I made the cut and put it back into the cuffs. This was not easy. Maybe I should have made the same type of sleeves as the lady on the blog… I somehow managed it, but it was the most frustrating part of the whole project, followed by lining the sleeves up evenly (and in equal length) to the shoulders. After that, was the easy, if not quick, process of hemming the bottom.

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There are a couple of things I still need to do by hand that are just little things (like move the second button on the cuffs to the outside and add a snap at the top) and I may try to add some colorful embellishments, but otherwise it’s finished and Aria was happy wearing it…even if she didn’t want to stand still for a good picture.

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Like I said, I want to try this again when she is taller. I think it would work a bit better because right now her toddler-belly caused some gaping between the buttons that are spaced for a grown man (I added a snap) and the collar was too tall and had to be folded over. Still, I think it worked alright, even if not quite as well as desired. Also, she loved these tights. 😀

I’m sitting on the couch. I’m blogging. Not because I necessarily have anything to say, but because there is a guy here working on the fridge and I feel like I can’t do anything. If he wasn’t here, there would be a number of things on my list to choose from. First would be a shower (Aria woke up early from her first nap and I had time to work out, but not shower afterward…yuk) then a nap (headache, please go away). I could also do some dishes or start dinner. But that would feel weird since he’s in there… What do you do when there is a stranger working in your house?

In more interesting news, we finally got around to hiking this last weekend. It took us longer than we would have liked, but we’ve been doing move-in type things. I guess those things were mostly David making things for the house. We also didn’t have a pack for carrying Aria. She walks now, but not that well. heh

We went to Point Lobos because it is nearby and we have been there before so we knew it would be a good starter. Aria did very well on David’s back and spent a lot of time pointing (at what? not too sure most of the time). Toward the end she was having a very hard time keeping her eyes open, but couldn’t get an actual nap because her head was bobbing with every step David took. I would guess we walked between six and seven miles, based on the info on the map. Not a bad way to spend a morning.

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On the way home, we realized that  there wasn’t really anything at home to eat so we decided to use our once-a-week eat out. We would like to just make our way through the area restaurants and there are some that are lunch-only. Such as Loulou’s Griddle in the Middle. It’s a cute little yellow building on the wharf. When we lived here five years ago, we went there and had fried pickles for the first time. We went wanting some, but they weren’t on the menu. When we asked about it, we were told that it was one of their appetizer specials and they would be able to make us some. They came out golden and crispy. We remembered from our first experience that the pickles were very hot, so we nibbled cautiously. David would have liked them to have a little more dill flavor. I kind of agreed, but I didn’t think the need was as great as he did. My favorite part was the jalapeno (I can’t remember how to add the ~ at the moment and this headache is making me not care too much. I did discover incognito browsing, though, which I didn’t know existed) aioli.  David had never heard of aioli and I remembered that I have read several food memoirs and he has read none. Not to mention all the cooking and experimenting I have done that he hasn’t. Anyway, it was tangy with a hint of spicy and complimented the pickles very well.

They didn’t have high chairs, but they did have blankets. So they piled a couple of them onto a chair and that became a high chair for Aria. She loved it. She grinned when we put her in the chair and sat very nicely the whole (well, almost) time. She didn’t really eat much of her grilled chicken, but she did steal a few of my french fries. She didn’t even bother with stealth. photo (7)

I forgot to mention that we got small cups of clam chowder with our meals. We have been doing this at every restaurant that serves it (which is most of them around here, so far). This was definitely the best we’ve had (out of three, but still). I think next time I will get a bigger serving.

Well, my wait has ended (the fridge guy just left) and my headache medicine seems to be attempting to do its job. I think I’d better hit the shower.

We are military, we move, it’s life. For a year we didn’t have a home. David was deployed and then at a school and Aria and I lived with my family. It was wonderful having the support of family, but I have to admit, after awhile, I just wanted to have a home again. A few weeks ago we moved to California (that was a drive I don’t want to repeat anytime soon) and were able to move in to a house the day after we got here. So now we are home and it is really feeling like home, too. The place has some quirks (none of the bedrooms or the living room have light fixtures…we won’t know what to do with all these new lamps when we move into a place with normal lighting), but we like it anyway. It also helps to get our own stuff moved in and our pictures on the walls.

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Our bedroom still needs some work, but happily, the rest of the house is pretty much put together. So much so that we have been able to do some projects and cooking. (Oh, it is so nice to have my own kitchen and my own appliances again!) David painted an old dresser to use in Aria’s room. I made almond butter and hazelnut butter. Ok, mine is less impressive, but I will try to bring a little more wow to the party once my sewing machine is back up and running (David, being awesome again, is making us craft tables this weekend), or at least whip up some curtains. Actually, I take it back. I made all three of us into Brussels Sprout lovers. If that’s not impressive, I don’t know what is.

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Another fun fact that you must know about: David has learned how to make sushi. I can’t even talk about it because he isn’t making it again until tomorrow or the next day and if I talk about it, it will just be torture. If you understand, you understand.

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And, because I just can’t resist, here’s Aria.

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And now I must go do something domestic, like fold laundry. Laters!

Well, I made the trip to Ohio and back. It may have been crazy, foolish, or brave (or maybe all three?) to undertake it just me and the baby, but we survived and had a good time. We got to see a lot of people – I did a lot better getting together with all the people I usually want to see when I go. Aria was a hit everywhere we went and people couldn’t agree on who she looks like. One person would say she looks like David and the next like me. I guess she is just a good mix.

The main person I wanted Aria to meet while we were in Ohio was her great grandma Gross. We gave Aria Grandma’s middle name (Grandma didn’t think that was a good idea since she doesn’t like the name Naomi, but we do so it’s okay) and I wanted to get some pictures of the two of them together. Grandma did really well on the day we went to see her and she and Aria had a little chance to get acquainted. Neither of them will remember it, but it happened and I have the pictures to prove it.

It was great to visit with friends and family (including my own grandparents and aunt and uncles on the way back), see former students, and visit those places that must be visited in Ohio (ok, so that mainly amounts to Skyline, but still). It’s also good to be done with the drive now that I’m back (though the driving helped Aria get some really good naps) and to sleep in my own bed again. Now I have to finish starting the process of unpacking and settling back in. Why does that always take me so long?