Friday, February 26, 2010

Rag Doll Project - Part II, Mary Janes

My rag doll project is coming together little by little. As I mentioned before, I want to develop my own patterns for everything...doll, clothes, shoes, and other accessories. Here's a quick tutorial for my Mary Jane shoe pattern:

Begin by cutting shoe pieces from felt.

Align the back of the sole with the center of the main shoe piece.

Start stitching pieces together...I just use a whipstitch.

Once I've stitched around to the front of the shoe, I start from the back again on the other side. I found that sewing the pieces from back to front in two steps kept the pieces aligned the best.

Stitch up the front seam.

I do not turn the shoe in-side-out to hide the stitching at this point. I like the ridge along the sole that is visible when the stitches are on the outside.

Position the strap while it is on the doll foot to get the right angle and sew.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Grinding Wheat Flour

My mom has a wheat grinder so in the spirit of trying to eat more healthy food (mentioned in my organic produce post) I thought I'd grind some wheat into flour and bake homemade whole wheat bread.

The grinder is amazing. So fast and such fine flour!
I thought the bread turned out pretty well, although it took about 5 hours to rise and the dough was WAY to tough for my Kitchen Aid. I felt like I was trying to knead a ball of rubber. It tasted just fine in the end though. See the recipe I used here.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Organic Produce Delivery

Nick and I have been studying a lot about how to live a self-sufficient life. We are dreaming of hobby farms and homesteading...looking forward to the day when we might have a few acres. As we roll into Spring you will start to see posts about our chicken project, my beekeeping class, the vegetable garden, and more.

Recently we watched Food.Inc, a documentary about the food industry. Of course we were appalled and disgusted. Before when I would try to avoid meat or high fructose corn syrup it was more for my own personal health, but now I see how purchasing those products is supporting a horribly corrupt system and I just can't be a part of it.

So, my first step was to start ordering produce from a local farm. They deliver organic produce all year round, so of course they don't grow it all themselves, but we love that we are supporting local business and buying organic.

Check out the Klesick Family Farm here. They have wonderful customer service. I feel like I am part of their family already.

Our first box of produce arrives! It feels like Christmas!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Rag Doll and Dress

I've spent a lot of time lately working on a rag doll pattern. I wanted to figure it out myself without relying on someone elses after several attempts (head too flat on top, shoulders to boxy, arms stick out funny, feet too bubbly, etc) I've finally got a pattern I like pretty well.

This morning I started working on clothing patterns. I crafted this pattern after a baby pattern I have for Lyla.

The back of her dress still needs a button and loop at the top.

I plan to work up patterns for shoes, more dresses, and some fun extras like a backpack, apron, and tutu. I'll make all my patterns available when the whole project is finished.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Brazilian Rice and Beans

I lived in Brazil for 18 months while serving a mission for my church. The local members of the church invited the missionaries to dinner every day so I got really familiar with the local cuisine...rice and beans. They ate this EVERY would think that one might get bored of such a simple daily meal, but I got so used to it, that on the rare occasion that we did not have a dinner appointment my body would go into withdrawal and I would crave it...after just one day!

So here is how to make authentic Brazilian rice and beans...although each region prepares their beans differently, this is what I learned:

You will need:
Pinto Beans
White Rice
Onion (I prefer sweet onion)
Oil (they use corn oil in Brazil)

The following measurements makes 3-4 servings:

Pour boiling water over 3/4 cup pinto beans and soak for one hour.

The beans will plump up to about 2 cups of beans. Transfer beans to pressure cooker and add water...3 cups water to each cup of beans, so in this case 6 cups of water.

Cook beans in pressure cooker. When steam starts to pour out in a steady stream, set the timer for 15 minutes.

In the meantime, prep your rice by rinsing it until the water runs clear, then leave it to dry want your rice to be pretty dry so that the grains don't stick together. 2 cups of rice is just about right.

You should also chop your onions and prep the garlic...I use about one cup onions and 3 cloves garlic.

Once the beans have cooked you are ready to cook the rice and season the beans.

I do both these things at the same time. Pour a little oil into 2 pans.

Saute half the onions in each pan...then add the garlic to whichever pan you'll be using for the beans.

Pour your cooked beans with all their liquid in with the onions and garlic and leave to simmer. This will thicken the sauce a bit. Salt beans to taste (it might take more than you expect...they taste really bland, then all of a sudden when you've added enough salt the flavor really pops).
Then add your drained rice to the other pot and stir it around in the oil and onions for a minute or two.

After the rice has a quick saute, add boiling water to about 1/4 inch above the rice level. I heat this water in a kettle while I'm cooking the onions. I also salt to taste at this point.
Cover the rice, reduce heat to low, and let cook until all moisture is absorbed...10-15 minutes.
In the region where I lived, the people usually threw some salad on top...just thinly sliced lettuce and tomato with a fresh squeezed lime for dressing so while the rice cooks and the beans simmer I prep the salad.

Finished! This meal brings back such memories!!!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Piggybank in progress

So, I decided I'd like to have a booth at the local Christmas bazaar this December. I have nearly a year to prepare stuff to sell. I thought I'd start by making a collection of my clay piggybank dragons. Here's what I have done so far...

They all have wide open mouths waiting for coins to eat.

Here are the 8 banks I've made so far...they still have to be fired, then glazed, then fired again. When that is all done they will look shiny and smooth. I've had fun thinking up ways to make each one unique.

I bought the block of clay at a local art supply store for $17...this will be enough to make about two more banks. Each one has taken 2-3 hours so far. I'll post again when they're finished!

To visit previous clay dragon posts click here and here.

Jungle Vine Wall Deco

Last year I decorated the walls of my elementary school library with big jungle vines I cut from colored butcher paper. I think this would be a great idea for painting a kids bedroom. If anyone out there wants me to come give it a try I'd love to experiment on your walls! :)
It would be really easy to do....I'd start with butcher paper again. I would cut the paper and tape it up before painting so that I could rearrange and tweak until I liked the layout...then trace and paint.