Happy Festivus

I’m a bit late for Yule/Solstice but Happy Midwinter festival of your personal flavor. My mom is basically my inspiration for all my crafting. I grew up with my mom sewing, knitting, embroidering, crocheting. So I learned to sew and knit from her, embroidery I am self taught (from a book my mother gave me of course), but I saw her embroidering and 11 years ago she began to make crazy quilt embroidered stockings for the family. This is basically why I started to embroider in the first place

crazy quilt cross stitched embroidered stocking

My Son's Stocking

crazy quilt cross stitched embroidered stocking

My Husband's Stocking

crazy quilt cross stitched embroidered stocking

My stocking


I’ve been Stitchpunked

I was StitchPunk'd


Lemon Buttermilk Pound cake

Delicious lemony pound cake (I glaze it with an easy lemon glaze), the key is the ingredients being room temp (or so) including the eggs and butter. This is a fantastic afternoon tea and cake snack. It supposedly keeps well but it never lasts more than 24 hours at my house.
Ingredients:
1 cup butter
2 cup sugar
4 eggs (pour warm tap water over them in a bowl and let them sit, this will warm them up nicely)
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup buttermilk (or take 1 tbl vinegar put in measuring cup, fill up with milk and let sit for 5 minutes)
1 tsp lemon extract
1 tbl lemon zest
Preheat oven to 350F, grease and flour 10″ tube pan or a loaf pan
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then add warmed eggs all at once. Beat until fluffy

Sift flour, baking soda and baking powder together. Put zest and extract into buttermilk. Add half the flour to the butter/sugar/eggs mixture beat then add half the milk mixture, beat. Add rest of flour, beat then rest of milk. Beat until well incorporated.
Pour into prepared pan and bake for 45 to 60 minutes. Cool on rack. Pour on glaze while still warm

Glaze
2 tbl lemon juice
2/3 cup confectioner sugar

beat sugar and lemon juice until smooth.


Croissants and Mocha Recipe (and Pain au Chocolat)

Morning Breakfast

I have made croissants a few times and I used a recipe found online and tweaked it slightly, recipe found here. This is fairly labor intensive, tho few ingredients are needed. I always let the dough rise over night before making the croissants (since then we can have them fresh for breakfast, altho you do need to wake up early, like 4am to have them ready around 6:30-7am).
You will need about 8 hours free to make the dough and then about 3-4 hours in the morning to make the rolls. Honestly for best results, use King Arthur Flour (it’s seriously worth the extra money if you can afford it)

 

 

Croissants:
3/4 lb of butter (1.5 cups or 3 sticks), softened
1/4 flour
2 tbl/packets yeast
1/4 warm water
4-5 cups unbleached, all purpose or bread flour
2 tbl sugar
1-2 tsp salt
2 cups warm milk
semi-sweet chocolate (I chop up Baker’s Semi-sweet blocks, there are also chocolate stick available to make life easier)
egg wash (1 egg, 1 tbl water)

Take butter and 1/4 cup flour and work them together so they are one big block of butter (I wrap in plastic wrap and beat with my rolling pin folding it over and over to fully incorporate the flour). Shape into a 6″ square, wrap in aluminium foil and chill in the fridge for 2-3 hours.
Then, dissolve yeast into water.
Take 2 cups flour, salt, sugar toss together and then add the yeast and milk beating together until well mixed. slowly add flour (about 1/4 cup at a time) until a soft dough forms. Knead with either a dough hook or by hand, do not over knead, but is elastic but still soft (not too sticky)
Let rise in a greased bowl for an hour
Take the dough and butter out. This is where the croissants get its light fluffy and butter nature. From folding and rolling out the dough and butter in layers. The butter should be firm but still pliable but not too soft nor oily.

Roll the dough out to a 10″ square, place the butter on the dough diagonally and wrap the dough around the butter like an envelope (over lapping the dough slightly).

*Roll out the butter-dough package to about 10″x18″ then fold in thirds, like a letter, then turn it and roll it out to 10″x18″, fold in thirds and roll out again. Now take the dough and fold the two ends to the middle then fold that (like a book). Soak a cotton towel in cold water and wring dry (it needs to be moist) now wrap the towel around the dough and wrap that in plastic, and place it in the fridge for about 1-2 hours. If the butter breaks apart while rolling it out, let it warm up and soften before continuing to work, or if it starts to squeeze out of the dough, chill it.

You will repeat this step two more times, at least. So you have done 3 sessions of rolling out the dough. Then let it rest in the fridge for at least 6 hours to overnight.

So now you take the dough out and you can let it warm up a bit(makes it easier to roll out) or just start working it. Roll it out to about 18″x32″ and 1/4″ thick. If you are making Pain au Chocolate, cut out rectangles, or if Traditional croissants, triangles, or both.

Pain au chocolate, take the cut up chocolate or chocolate sticks and place them 1/3 of the way across, then fold over, place more chocolate along that seam and fold the remainder over and place, seam down on the baking sheet.

Traditional croissants, roll up from the long edge and shape into a crescent on the baking sheet

Let rise 1-2 hours, it will double in bulk. Preheat oven to 425F and I would put a sheet or two of foil on the rack below to catch any butter that might melt out and over the edges (do not put in a lipped pan as the butter will then burn and scorch the rolls)

Brush the tops with the egg wash and bake for 20-25 minutes or until nicely golden brown. Cool slightly and serve with coffee, hot chocolate or mocha (recipes below)

For a delicious mocha I just mix coffee and hot cocoa:

Hot Cocoa

1cup milk
2tbl sugar (I love using vanilla sugar)
2tbl cocoa (I love hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa for this)
1/4-1/2 tsp <i>real</a> vanilla extract (don’t bother even buying the fake stuff, there is no comparison, it is well worth the price) Omit if using vanilla sugar

Put all the ingredients in a small saucepan on the stove, heat and whisk the milk until your preferred temperature, don’t boil (since that will make a skin form on the top when it starts to cool)

Mocha

Take 1/4 to 1/2 cup hot cocoa and mix with 3/4-1/2 cup fresh made coffee. Top with sweetened whipped cream

Sweetened Whipped Cream:

Whip together, 1-2tbl sugar (vanilla sugar is again awesome for this), 1 cup cream and 1/4-1/2 tsp vanilla extract (omit if using vanilla sugar and use only the real stuff, seriously, that fake stuff is garbage). whip until soft peaks form, do not overbeat otherwise you will get sweet butter.

 

 


Rayon Embroidery Floss

I’m working on an embroidery project and using DMC’s satin embroidery floss. It’s awful, fraying so easily. Rayon isn’t the strongest of fibers but you should be able to pull the floss through cotton fabric without it fraying half way through an 18″ strand. Thank god it’s only for a portion. Never again using it.


Simple Delicious Garlic butter Pasta and Chicken Dinner

This is simple, delicious and easy. Great for the summer.
I can’t wait until I have fresh peppers and onion to use. I used fresh young garlic from my garden and they are soo sweet and tasty.
Boneless Chicken breasts (however many people you are feeding)
1 Box Pasta (favorite type, I used Barilla Rotini) )(1lb)
1.25-1.5 sticks butter
4 cloves or small bulb of Fresh Garlic
Onion powder or flakes
small handful of Fresh Basil leaves
Oregano
2-5 Fresh (or half a bag of frozen)Sweet Bell Peppers
Salt

Season the chicken breasts with a bit of salt, oregano and onion flakes/powder and grill until done

Set water to boil for pasta with the fresh basil leaves, boil pasta with leaves. Strain pasta (you can leave leaves in there or not up to you)
Finely mince up the garlic and melt the butter in a large skillet. Let the butter get really hot and then toss the garlic in there. Then toss sweet bell peppers in there cooking until warmed through. Toss onto drained pasta.
Serve on a plate.


Pegasus Soaps Soaps

I have ordered a few things from Pegasus Soaps; her Dead Sea Mud masque, Bit of Honey Sugar Scrub, Whipped Coffee Caramel Cream Sugar Scrub, and Charcoal Cold Process Soap.

She is incredibly fast shipper (and based in Northern Virginia, so I usually get the items the day after she ships them, one of the main reasons I order from her as opposed to many of the other soap makers I know). She also sends samples with your order. When I ordered the samples, she sent me a sample size of her shea butter moisturizer; with the soap, she sent two other soap samples: Dead Sea Mud Soap and Cucumber Melon Cold Process Soap.

Both scrubs were wonderful. My skin tends to be a bit oily and soft so I found the coffee scrub to leave my face soft but not oily feeling like the honey scrub did. Both did a great job of exfoliating the skin without leaving it raw. I would recommend the honey scrub for people with dry skin and the coffee scrub for those with oily skin.
My skin, on top of being oily, is also acne prone (even in my late 20’s I still break out something fierce), the mud mask cleared it up really well, leaving my skin soft and clean.  I also noticed I had fewer breakouts with just using one of these items once per day with no toner or moisturizer or spot treatment than I do when using an over the counter acne wash and treatment.

I’ve been looking for a inexpensive, effective option for a face wash and with the way the mud mask worked, I was looking at her Dead Sea mud soap (since the mask is not meant to be used daily and is a bit too expensive for me to use it daily),  but have also read about the benefits of charcoal for acne prone skin. So I purchased a full bar of the charcoal soap and luckily she sent a sampler of the Dead Sea Mud soap.

I have long heard/read about the virtues of handmade soap, and the caustic chemicals used in commercial soaps. Also many of my friends have said how handmade bar soaps leave their skins feeling cleaner and softer than even mass produced body washes. I am loving the charcoal soap and the dead sea mud soap. It’s actually a bit of a draw which one I like better. I’ve had this dry skin issue (it’s just one spot and soaps seem to irritate it) but since using her soaps it’s actually gotten better! My face is going into healing mode (which isn’t pretty but always happens when you start using a product that works)


Three Birds, One Stone

Work in Progress Monarch Queen

Monarch Queen WIP: completed as of this morning

In April, a bunch of my online friends (many, if not all, are crafters) got together and did a stash swap. It involved sending your person items from your stash and then they use those items to create something. The only requirements were they you use the stuff sent to you and that you purchase nothing to finish the project. You could use stuff from your own stash of course but since this was in the idea of stash busting, buying supplies would be self-defeating.
My friend, Haff (of Haffina Creations, et al) send me some fantastic fabric and beads and embroidery thread. It sat for about a week or two while I contemplated what to do. Then Urban Threads made this design and put up a contest for color variations. Needless to say for $50 to UT I wanted to enter (and so putting off working on xmas gifts).
So then I realized I could use the stuff from Haff (since they were all in the blue/pink/purple theme) and create an awesome piece.
So that’s 2 birds with one stone. What’s the third you ask? Well I’ve been thinking about what to make my mom for a birthday gift and I think she would love this.


Knitting

I really am loving knitting (except for the fact I seem to be mildly allergic to the wool I bought for a large portions of christmas gifts). Since I have a fiercely sore throat from knitting my nephews hat (I need to find a better place to hold the cable needle than in my mouth), I’m starting a new project to pass the time while my throat heals. This is going to be a simple cuff with a colorwork piece created by these ladies.
It’s going to be made from left over merino lace weight yarn from a test piece and another christmas gift…updates to come as I work on it.


How to make a Utilikilt-style Kilt

I copied this (without pictures) from this instructibles tutorial for mostly my own easy to read use. The link above has handy pictures too
First you will need to make a couple measurements to calculate the amount of fabric you need. Make sure you write these down as you will also need them when we start pleating the kilt. Make sure you are using a fabric tailors tape, not a metal carpenters tape.
The only 2 measurements you will need are waist and knee length.

First is your waist measurement (measurement A in the picture). Don’t use your pants size, kilts are worn much higher on the waist so measure around at your bellybutton, with the tape measure as parallel to the floor as possible. (This number will be divided by three and used extensively throughout this instrustable so if you want to round your numbers up to make the math easy go ahead. The difference can be covered by the front and under aprons.)
(Note: If your hip measurement is larger than your waist measurement then use your hip measurement. The belt will bring in the waist, or if you know how, go ahead and taper in the waist while pleating.)

Next is to measure your knee length (Measurement B in the picture). Kilts should go down to your kneecaps, ending right about the middle of your kneecaps. The best way to measure this is to kneel on the floor and measure from your waist line, at your bellybutton, down to the floor.

Record these measurements
Waist:
1/3rd Waist:
Length:

For example: my measurements are
Waist: 45 Inches
1/3rd Waist: 15 inches
Length: 24 inches

Now a few definitions:
Front Apron: The non pleated front of the kilt that shows when you wear the kilt.
Pleated Length: The heavily pleated length that comprises the back of the kilt.
Under Apron: The non pleated portion that wraps underneath the front apron when you wear the kilt.
Waist Band: The very top, unpleated portion that runs the length of the kilt
A non-traditional American style kilt, like we are making here, has a front apron (the non pleated front part) of about 1/3rd the total waist line. (Aprons on traditional Scottish kilts are about 1/2 the length of the waist.)

To calculate the amount of fabric for the pleated part of the kilt take your waist measurement and divide by 3, then multiply by 8 and add an inch. This will be the length of the kilt fabric, the amount going around the waist. The width of the pleated part will be the knee Length minus 2 inches.

Pleated Portion length (this length will include what is needed for the front and under apron , do not add the front and under lengths to this ): Waist measurement divided by 3 times 8, plus 1 inch seam allowance
Pleated Portion width: Knee Length minus 2 inches
Waist Band length: Waist measurement divided by 3 times 4 plus 1 inch seam allowance (wait until you finish the pleated portion to cut this piece, I will explain why in step 4)
Waist band width: 7 inches

The length of the fabric will need to buy is equal the the length of the pleated part of the kilt plus an inch for seam allowance (go ahead and get it a little longer for good measure). Make sure the width of the fabric is at least 9 inches wider than your measured length. This will leave you enough fabric left over for the waist band and pockets.

For example my waist measurement is 45 inches. The length of fabric I need will be at least 121 inches (45/3*8+1=121) or 3.3 yards. I rounded up and got 4 yards. The width of the fabric I got was 60 inches, I should have enough fabric to make 2 kilts.

You will need to have:
Sewing Machine (Not Pictured)
Iron (Not Pictured)
Scissors
Tailors Tape Measure
Pins
Fabric pencil or Chalk

You will need to buy
Fabric
Matching Thread
Interfacing (Enough to line the waist band)
22 Snap fasteners (plus the hardware to mount them)
I’ll be using 2 inch pleats in this instructable. This is deep enough for the pleats to hold well, and still looks good.

You will need to cut the pleated portion of the kilt from your fabric using the calculated numbers from step 2.

Once this is cut, fold over both ends 1/2 inch and sew a hem. Then fold the bottom over 1/2 inch and sew a hem here also. I want to note here that some fabric has a “good” or “Front” side and a “bad”, “wrong” or “Back” side. When you hem the ends and bottom, fold over onto the bad side.

Once the edges are sewn, measure in 1/3 your waist measurement on each end and mark with your chalk. This will be the Front Apron and Under Apron.

Once you’ve marked your fabric you can begin pleating. I’m sure you have a very long legnth of fabric so do this on a very long table. place a large towel under the fabric because you will need to iron the pleats every so often.

With the hemmed bottom length of the fabric towards you and the unhemmed edge facing away you will start your first pleat on the right end of the fabric with the pleat going to the right. Measure 4 inches from your apron mark to the left and pull the fabric to the edge of the front apron. Make sure this fold is as straight as possible.

Next measure 6 inches from the fold and pull to within 2 inches of the fold. The fold on top should line up with back of the previous fold underneath.

Make sure as your pleating you measure the top and bottom of each fold to maintain 2 inch pleats. You will want to press the pleats with an iron after every 2 or 3 folds.

Once pressed, pin each pleat at the top, bottom and middle. Continue pleating until you reach the under apron mark on the other end of the fabric.

Once the entire length of fabric is pleated and pinned, bring it over to the sewing machine. Sew down each pleat at the edge of the fold from the top of the fabric down 5 inches. Sewing down the tops of the pleats will allow them to hold their shape much better.
(Note: You should take out the top pins as you sew down the tops of the pleats, but leave in the other pins while you are working on the kilt. It will make the kilt easier to work with. I’ll usually remove them once I’m ready to attach the pockets)
To make the waist band you will need a length of fabric 1 in longer than the top of the pleated portion and 7 inches wide. Remeasure the top portion rather than using the calculation as the length may not be exact after hemming and pleating.

Hem all 4 sides of the fabric over 1/2 inch.

Cut a piece on interfacing equal to the inside portion of the waistband and attach per the interfacing’s instructions.

Sew 1 edge of the waistband to the back of the pleated portion, 1/2 inch from the top, lining up the ends.

Fold over, covering the front 1/2 inch from the top of the pleated portion, press and sew the edge and along the sides.
Now you can do what you all have been waiting for, try on the kilt.

Hold the kilt around your waist where you would naturally be wearing it. Wrap the left side over the right side until it is snug. Mark with a washable fabric pen where the waistband stops on the right (you may want someone to help with this).

Now place the kilt on a table face down with the waist band towards you. Fold the under apron (on your right) to the center of the kilt. Then fold the apron over the under apron matching up to the mark you had just made while wearing it.

Now you can mark where the snap fasteners will go. The will be about 1 inch from either end. This is a wide waistband so use 2 snaps at each end, on the top and bottom of the waistband. You will have 2 at the edge of the apron and 2 more through the apron to the edge of the under apron. Punching the hole through both layers at the same time is best to ensure they match up. Attach per the instructions that came with the snaps.

Now we’ll attach some snaps to the face of the apron. This is for both decoration and to hold the apron down while wearing the kilt. There are several possibilities you can do in regards to the pattern. I usually run 2 rows of 3 tapering to the center. You can experiment by placing the snap tops in various patterns until you get something you like. Make sure the apron and under apron are centered before punching you holes through both layers of fabric (pin the apron and under apron together to prevent it from moving). Again, punch the holes through both layers at the same time to ensure they match up.
You will need a 1 inch wide strip about 30 or so inches long, depending on the number of belt loops you want. I use 7 belt loops as you will see below. The belt loops will end up about 1/2 inch wide.

You will need to fold the edged to the center of the strip. Pin the folded strip about every 3 inches.

Once it is fully folded and pinned you need to press it with an iron. Go a couple inches and then pull out the pin and continue to the next, removing pins as you go.

Once the entire strip is pressed take it over to the sewing machine and sew down each flap.

Cut the strip into shorter pieces, 1 inch longer than the width of your waistband. They should be about 4 inches

To attach the belt loops you will fold the ends over about 1/2 inch and sew to the top and bottom of the waist band. You are going through quite a few layers of fabric, so be sure you are using a strong needle and take it slow, moving your machine by hand if needed.

You can use what ever spacing you like for the belt loops, I use one on each end of the apron, one on each hip, one at the m\iddle of the back and one for each space between the loop at the back and between each hip fpr 7 total loops.

If you want you can wear the kilt as is now, but it is a cargo kilt so we’ll move on to the pockets.

We will be making the pockets separate from the kilt and then attaching them. This is both easy and allows the pleats in the kilt to move. We will have two side “Cargo” pockets and a back pocket. The measurements are approximate, don’t sweat it if you’re a little off. Also, feel free to make the pockets bigger or smaller if you wish.

First the back pocket. Cut a piece of fabric 7 inches wide by 15 inches long.

Hem both short edges 1/2 inch.

Fold 1 short edge over 5 inches, making sure the hemmed edge is facing out. Then fold the other edge over about 1 1/2 inches, again facing the hemmed side out. (there should be about a 1 inch gap between these flaps)

Sew the long edges together about 1/2 inch from the edge.

Once the pocket is sewn together turn it inside out, or rather rightside out since you should have sewn it together inside out.

Press with an iron.

Run another seam alone the long edge about 1/4 inch in from the edge. This will hold the flap in the gap down and keep your pocket flat.

Now fold the short end over the long, with the gap coming down over the front of the pocket and attach the snaps.

Now the cargo pockets.

First cut a piece of fabric 9 inches by 28 inches.

Hem the short edges 1/2 inch.

Fold 1 short edge over 9 1/2 inches, making sure the hemmed edge is facing out. Then fold the other edge over 2 inch, again facing the hemmed side out. (there should be about a 2 inch gap between these flaps)

Sew the long edges together about 1/2 inch from the edge.

Once the pockets are sewn together turn them inside out, or rather rightside out since you sewed them together inside out.

Press with an iron.

Run another seam alone the long edge about 1/4 inch in from the edge. This will hold the flap in the gap down and keep your pocket flat.

Now fold the short end over the long, the fold of the crease should be right in the center of the 2 inch gap. Then attach the snaps on the flap. (pictured are 3 snaps along the top. They will be to attach the pocket to the kilt and explained in the next step)
To attach the pockets we will sew the back pocket to the kilt and use snaps to attach the cargo pockets, making them removable.

To attach the back pocket first put on the kilt and have someone help place the back pocket in a “natural” position. Have them pin it into place, butting the top of the pocket to the bottom of the waist band.

Once pinned, open the flap and sew through the back of the flap (in between the flaps) onto the kilt.

To attach the cargo pockets first get someone to help to place them in position and pin them. They should be positioned on your sides at the hip, about 3 or 4 inches down from the bottom of the waist band.

Once pinned, position 3 snaps across the top. The snaps will go all the way through the pocket, from the front to the back, as seen the the picture. The back part of the snap will go through the kilt allowing you to snap the pocket to the kilt, and remove the pocket if you want.
Now that you have your Cargo Kilt wear it and enjoy. Share your own pics in the comments.

Clean it per the fabric’s directions, and use starch when ironing to help keep your pleats crisp.

Feel free to modify as you see fit. You can use buttons instead of snaps, or velcro to fasten the waistband. I think next I’ll try attaching the cargo pockets with grommets and carabiners.