...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.


Time to Relax and Catch Up

It was a fairly productive week in the craft corner.  I'll attribute that to the personal time I had in the mornings while V at camp, which allowed me to feel rested and rejuvenated.  When the little one's nap time rolled around I felt motivated to sew instead of otherwise scrambling around the house.

The rest of my mornings spent on the eastside and downtown this week took me to a used book store, a  variety store moderne, an Italian specialty store, and back to the central library.  So if this week was any example the things I really love, I suppose that means I couldn't live without good food and books.  Ah yes--being surrounded by those things (and family, friends, peace, quiet...) are what bring me joy in life.

Although I mostly sewed for my daughter this week, I did happen to pick up a lovely vintage fabric remnant at Fischberger's yesterday.  V's always asking me what I'm going to make for myself, though it's truly more fun to sew for her right now.  I think I may put this fabric aside for a few months and consider using it to make a fun summer skirt for next year.  (I have the perfect "nude-colored" ballet top to accompany it.)

Loving this vintage remnant.  Perhaps I'll make something for myself...
At my return visit to the library today--where I spent the majority of my time scratching down the titles/authors of new books and adding them to my looooong reading list at home--I came across a craft book called Crafting with Cat Hair, which I didn't believe until I flipped through it.  What an interesting idea for using a "renewable resource."  Reminds me of my one-time attempt to card/spin dryer lint, which was an epic fail.  But kudos to those who attempt this pet-friendly hobby.  How very sustainable!  (Note to self: we still don't have a valid reason to get a kitty.)

The sewing I did for V this week included an art smock for home; her old one will be sent to school.  I had this airplane fabric for years--probably acquired it back when my nephew was a wee lad and I enjoyed sewing jammies for him for the holidays.  I know for sure I got it at the thrift store.  The smock was a super easy pattern I found secondhand and I rather enjoyed edging it with all the double-fold bias tape, which I realized I haven't worked with nearly enough, as fun as it is.

Art Smock or Apron--not oil-cloth or anything, just cotton
Almost a little hospital gown-ish from the rear
The second project the latter part of this week was a quick and fun stretch knit dress for V.  Again, a secondhand pattern as well as secondhand fabric.  No notions needed other than thread.  It may be hard to tell from the photo, but it's a very subtle pink color that I would call "ballet pink" like the pale shade of their tights and leotards.  Truth be told, in the past I've been fairly nervous--okay totally freaked out--about sewing on stretch knits.  I've finished a project or two with this type of fabric, but was never 100% satisfied with the look of the final product.  So for once (SHOCKING!) I read further into the preliminary directions on the pattern and learned that if I used a very narrow zigzag stitch instead of a straight stitch that the seams would give a little bit and the final garment wouldn't look so puckered as I've experienced before.  It worked like a charm and I have to say I may now be hooked on knits.  I've been so inspired over the last six months by the wearable art of Courtney Courtney and so began amassing a stash of "found" or cast-off jersey knits since just after the holidays.  I have a particular women's T-shirt with flower screen print that I found at a rummage and I'd like to use it to make another one of these simple dresses for V.  With a long sleeve shirt underneath and leggings or tights, it could even be taken into winter.

Simple, delicate dress in "Ballet Pink."  If V will have it,
I'm thinking black tights, black Mary Jane's and a simple
black headband.

I want to make eight more of these.
Yesterday was also baking day.  There were some fresh, plump figs calling my name at the Italian grocery yesterday so I went for a little basket of them.  My immediate idea was to draw from one of the flavor combinations made popular by the first pastry chef I worked with--and would call my mentor--at the former Jean-Pierre Bakery.  Fig and Fennel it was and I translated this combo into some gluten-free muffins.

Fig and Fennel Muffins (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free)
Makes 1 dozen

Not only are these breakfast treats GF and DF, but also free of white sugar.  I used a combo of maple syrup, sorghum syrup, and honey, but have noted how to consolidate below. 

I love these sweet, beautiful fruits!
1 c. coconut kefir (can substitute regular kefir or plain yogurt)
1/2 c. + 2 T. oat bran
2 large eggs
3 T. sweetener--can use maple syrup, sorghum syrup, or honey...or a combination of the three
2 T. olive oil
1 1/2 c. all-purpose gluten-free flour
1 1/4 c. oat flour (could sub. additional APGFF)
2 T. fennel seeds
1/2 t. salt
1 t. baking soda
2 t. baking powder
3/4 t. xanthan gum
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. grated dried lemon peel (or 1/2 t. fresh zest)
3/4 c. fresh figs, rinsed, trimmed, and chopped
1/2 c. toasted walnuts, chopped, for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 400F and line/grease muffin pan.
In small bowl, combine kefir and oat bran to soften.  Let sit; mix remaining ingredients.  In bowl of food processor, combine eggs, sweetener, oil.  Process to combine.  In another bowl, combine flours, fennel, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and lemon peel.  Add wet ingredients to dry and process just long enough to combine.  Fold in chopped figs.  Fill muffin cups and top with toasted walnuts.  Bake 20-25 min. or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.  Cool then enjoy with preserves.
Fig and Fennel Muffins anyone?
I like them warm with butter--so much for dairy-free!
Hoping for a PBS spot we can call "The Ballerina Bakes."
One other "project" I recently "put together" wasn't much of a physical effort, though took some brainpower in order to consider my available resources.  I was feeling like I needed a bigger and better place to hang my earrings since the narrow piece of undecorated peg board I'd been using for a few years was getting crowded.  I started by looking for something to buy via Etsy and my search for "earring tree" not only brought back memories of some cheesy earring holder I'd gotten from Claire's boutique as a kid, but also turned up a couple of super creative ideas like this and that.  The style of organizers using a frame with screen made me realize that this wooden curio I found at the flea market a few years ago and used to store bits and pieces at my former desk could be rescued from its pre-donation position in the basement (meaning I'd been thinking of getting rid of it, but hadn't officially decided to put it in a donation bag and part with it) and repurposed.  Not only does this new earring holder have plenty of space for my bangles and dangles, but a convenient set of shelves inside for other bits of jewelry.  And it didn't require me to shell out any more money (though if I HAD purchased one I most certainly would have used Etsy.)

Et Voila!
Getting ready for another weekend of family time, tackling the garden, farmers' marketing, and getting together with some friends.  Summer's drifting away, but there's still a ton of activity in our fair city.  Enjoy your corner of the world in the days to come.

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