...Growing, Building, Cooking, Preserving, Crafting...

2006 began our urban homestead when I broke ground on a garden, which now includes perennial fruits, flowers, & many vegetable varieties. We dream of solar panels, keeping bees and hens. Until then we'll continue growing and preserving our own fruits and vegetables, building what we can for our home, cooking from scratch, and crafting most days.


Sewing up a Storm (My Own Kind of "Raindance")

"Peasant Dress" for Vera

I'm remaining positive about the intense heat in our area this week.  Though I'm sure our monthly electric bill will be higher than ever, I'm focusing on what I predict will be an outstanding, delicious tomato crop as well as lots of cucumbers.  This is also great weather for completely drying our laundry outside, which may ever ever so slightly offset the higher A/C bill.  Though I have to get up at the crack of dawn to start the washing machine so I don't have to drip sweat all over my clean clothes as I pin them up.

This week's weather has been perfect for hiding out in the basement in my craft corner.  The sewing machine has been busy since Monday.  I started and finished a 3T dress for Vera in just a couple of days--it's a "peasant style" dress made of calico samples from my fabric cabinet.  The bodice/sleeve pieces were from a thrift store, the orange middle ruffle is a former pillowcase, and the bottom ruffle is a bold calico I picked up at the antique flea market last year.  I bought the pattern on sale last year and used a coupon to purchase the elastic for sleeves and neckline for next to nothing.  So once again, it's sewing cute stuff on the cheap.

I love this crazy calico from the antique flea market
The second dress was one of my few attempts to upcycle--or rather deconstruct/reconstruct.  I was 

inspired by my friend at At the End of This Row who reworked a women's skirt into a youngster's skirt.  Since then my thrifting/rummaging eyes have a new perspective.  On one of my first rummaging jaunts this summer I bought this women's blouse because I liked the fabric and thought I could turn it into a dress for Vera.  After completing the other dress in the morning, our afternoon basement time gave way to approaching my mending pile, which has sort of drifted into my pile of items to upcycle or reuse.  This sundress took me only about an hour mostly because I tried to use the original garment's finished edges so I wouldn't have to make facings or do much hemming.  The bottom of the dress is the original hem of the blouse, the upper back band is from the neckband of the blouse (and still has the H&M tag--so if Vera wants to think she's name brand...), the crossover piece in the front was reworked from the crossover on the front of the blouse, and the straps are the finished edge from the end of the sleeves.  I basically cut the skirty part off the top, regathered it, and made the aforementioned pieces from the back and crossover into the band atop the empire waist, then added the straps.  It's a tad big on Vera, but will likely fit her next year.  The fabric is very stretchy and bouncy so it should be both fun and comfortable for her to wear.
New crossover and straps
Straps are cut from the old finished edges of the sleeves
Back band was the original back of the blouse
These photos are the only ones I could snap of V wearing the dress...she's in constant motion!

The last of my 2010 canned sweet cherries
Though it's hotter than an oven outside, I decided to turn on the oven inside for just a bit this morning.  My in-laws are babysitting tomorrow so I usually try to have some muffins or other breakfast bread ready for them in the morning.  Vera wanted to bake (read: stand on her tower and eat the raw ingredients while I mix and scoop.)  I used some cherries from my last jar of canned Door County cherries (just in time for more this weekend at the farmers' market.)  I'm on a roll with adapting recipes to be gluten-free so this was another success.  The basic guidelines I found about how to convert--use a gluten-free flour blend (I like Bob's Red Mill All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour), double the amount of baking powder in the recipe, and add 1/4 t. xanthan gum per cup of flour--have worked well.

Cherry Almond Muffins
Makes 1 dozen

Adapted from Smart Muffins by Jane Kinderlehrer.

1/2 c. chopped canned cherries (could also use fresh, but should soak them in 1/4 c. juice or liqueur)
2 eggs (or 1 T. egg replacer diluted with 1/4 c. water)
2 T. olive oil
3 T. pure maple syrup
1/4 c. almond extract
3/4 c. apple juice (or other fruit juice)
2 T. brandy or amaretto (or sub. more juice)
1 1/2 c. all-purpose gluten-free flour
1/4 c. oat bran
2 T. lecithin granules
2 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1/4 t. xanthan gum
1/4 t. salt
1/2 c. chopped almonds

Texture turned out great!
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Prepare a muffin pan with liners (paper or silicone) or grease/spray.  Chop canned cherries and set aside (if using fresh cherries, soak and set aside.) In a mixing bowl blend the eggs, oil, maple syrup, almond extract, juice, and brandy or amaretto.  Stir in the cherries/cherry mixture.  In another bowl, sift the flour, oat bran, lecithin granules, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum, and salt.  Add dry ingredients to the cherry mixture and blend just enough to moisten the flour mixture.  Stir in the chopped almonds.  Spoon the mixture into the muffin cups and bake for 20 min.  Let cool then enjoy with your favorite compound butter or homemade jam.


  1. You are on fire! Love, love, love the dresses.

  2. That peasant dress is the cutest thing I've seen in years! And I live the sundress, too. It's so sweet to see little girls in dresses.

    I'm not handy that way, but I do buy a lot of my things at thrift stores.

  3. Looks like my "raindance" worked. Maybe I should sew like heck more often. Yay rain!