Friday, May 28

Happy 3-Day Weekend!

Or more days if you've 'em!

Scott's sister is flying in tonight and will be here until late Tuesday night, so if there's a blogging break, don't worry--it just means we're off having grand adventures that will be blogged later! :-)

Enjoy!

A New Bag!

Lookie what I made! I love it! It's the Pleated Beauty Handbag from Bend the Rules Sewing by Amy Karol. It's going to be my park bag this summer--extra clothes for the kids, sunblock, hats, snacks, etc. The bag is nice and roomy and mostly brown to hide the dirt!

The picture's not so great...I should have Photoshopped it a bit, but I'm busy tonight!


This Week's Recipe--Chocolate Chip Cookies

photo from foodnetwork.com

Gosh--it's been *weeks* since I have shared an Alton Brown recipe with you! Lately he's been making all sorts of un-Korbe-like foods: lobster, crawfish, lamb, etc. But in between all of that there were cookies. Chocolate chip cookies. You knew I had to try those out, didn't you? And don't worry--I bought Scott an Alton Brown cookbook for his birthday so we'll have plenty of new Alton recipes to try out as soon as it arrives in the 'ol mailbox.

Alton is such an over-achiever that he has two versions of this recipe. There's also a "puffy" version. This one is referred to as the "chewy" version.

The Recipe
You can print his recipe here. It doesn't cut and paste well and I am too lazy to re-type it!

Andrea's Kitchen
It's an interesting recipe in that it calls for bread flour (which I actually had!) and melting the butter, then chilling the dough. I followed his recipe as it appears, right down to that bread flour.

The Verdict
The best cookies ever! That's all there is to it! Up until now I've used the recipe on the back of the Nestle bag...good, but not the best. These are by far the best cookies I've ever made. They were still chewy the next day...I love chewy chocolate chip cookies! You've gotta try these! If you don't love them, I'll give you your money back--no questions asked!

Tuesday, May 25

All in a Day's Work

I'm feeling pretty good about what got done (craft-wise anyway!) around here today!

Here's the jellyroll quilt, all quilted and ready for me to hand-turn the binding.


And here are some pj capris and shorts for Stacy. The girls requested pj capris and shorts about 6 weeks ago...and they didn't forget! I let them pick the material (from the sale rack!) at Jo-Ann's on Sunday.


And here are Kelsey's pj capris and shorts. I'd like to do little appliqued shirts for each of them to coordinate. Just need to remember to pick up shirts at the store next time!

I'm in love with the fabric Stacy chose...almost makes me wish I'd purchased a few more yards to make some pj capris for me!!

Monday, May 24

Island Princess

image courtesy of Princess Cruises

The Island Princess arrived early this morning. According to the website itinerary, they aim for arriving here around 12:30am. Whittier marks the end of their trip, so from here they can ride a bus or train on an excursion that ends in Anchorage, then fly back home. A new cruise originates here and heads back down south.

While docked in Whittier, passengers have various options for excursions. They can do everything from relaxing for the day to glacier cruises, kayaking, visiting the Portage Glacier Visitor Center and the Alyeska tram in Girdwood. There's a huge influx of buses and trains to handle transferring people from here to various points out there. The girls *love* to wave to the buses and the passengers smile back and wave at them.

Unattended

One would *think* I had been a mother long enough to know better than to leave a 3 year old unattended with a cupcake. Think again, dear reader!

The chocolate aftermath, for your viewing pleasure:





Sunday, May 23

Dirty Girls

Following are some pictures from Wednesday's "Make Whittier Prettier" planting extravaganza!





Yup, they had fun! And yes, I did manage to get those clothes clean...lots of pre-soaking!

Saturday, May 22

A PERFECT Alaskan Day



It started out with the aforementioned morning on the harbor. At nap time Scott headed down to go fishing. He picked a spot along the trail that runs out to the tunnel. He came home shortly after the girls woke up, fish in hand. Now you've got to understand that Scott's been waiting and dreaming of fishing season all winter long. This was his first line in the water for 2010 and he brought home about a 12 pound silver. He was happy. The girls on the other hand, were ecstatic. If Scott's excitement about fishing season has been an 8 on a scale of 1-10, the girls' has been at 9. They've been really looking forward to fishing with dad. So when he walked in the door with a fish, they wanted to go fishing. NOW!!

Because the weather here is so often crappy, I have a hard time saying no to outside adventures on nice days. After Scott and the girls filleted the nap time salmon, they packed a picnic dinner and we were off to go fishing. We didn't catch any more fish, but we did get to people watch, bird watch, boat watch, and porcupine watch!

Back to the filleting for a minute though. You might be a redneck (or a teacher mom anyway!) if your hubby is filleting a fish on the kitchen table and you ask him to please stop and teach the kids about the anatomy of a fish before cutting it all up! The girls enjoyed their fish lesson--especially touching the fish's eyes. Kelsey continuously reminded us that the fish was dead, so it was food now and it couldn't feel any of the numerous pokes and jabs the kids were delivering.

So all in all, it was a perfect Alaskan day! Full of sun, smiles, fun and a fish!

Coral Princess

The Coral Princess is in town today. We just got home from a morning out on the town. We had our usual coffee, hot chocolate, and bagels at the Lazy Otter Cafe and then strolled the harbor. We stopped at the Honey Charters gift shop and the Donut Depot. The girls were on trikes and Scott and I were on foot. It was a nice way to spend a couple of hours. I picked up two bags of trash along the way, so I did my good deed for the day, too! I'll leave you with a shot from the bridge of the Coral Princess. Happy Saturday!


Friday, May 21

This Week's Recipe--Ultimate Cinnamon Buns

image from cookscountrytv.com

The Recipe
Ooooohhhh! Cinnamon Rolls! Just thinking about them makes me hungry! In the past, Scott and I have made a delicious recipe that's supposedly a copycat Cinnabon recipe. And man are they good! But it makes about 67 rolls or something, so it's way more than we need and takes forever.

One recent Saturday Scott was watching Cook's Country on PBS, saw these and suggested we try them. Good idea, honey! :-)

Makes 8 Buns.

In step 2, if after mixing for 10 minutes the dough is still wet and sticky, add up to ¼ cup flour (a tablespoon at a time) until the dough releases from the bowl. For smaller cinnamon buns, cut the dough into 12 pieces in step 3.

Ingredients

Dough
3/4 cup whole milk , heated to 110 degrees
1 envelope (2 1/4 teaspoons) instant or rapid-rise yeast
3 large eggs , room temperature
4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter , cut into 12 pieces and softened
Filling
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter , softened
Glaze
4 ounces cream cheese , softened
1 tablespoon whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar

Instructions

1. For the dough: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 200 degrees. When oven reaches 200 degrees, shut off. Line 13- by 9-inch baking pan with foil, allowing excess foil to hang over pan edges. Grease foil and medium bowl.

2. Whisk milk and yeast in liquid measuring cup until yeast dissolves, then whisk in eggs. In bowl of stand mixer fitted with dough hook, mix flour, cornstarch, sugar, and salt until combined. With mixer on low, add warm milk mixture in steady stream and mix until dough comes together, about 1 minute. Increase speed to medium and add butter, one piece at a time, until incorporated. Continue to mix until dough is smooth and comes away from sides of bowl, about 10 minutes. Turn dough out onto clean surface and knead to form a smooth, round ball. Transfer dough to prepared bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and place in warm oven. Let rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours.

3. For the filling: Combine brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in small bowl. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Following photos 1 and 2 in the related step-by-step, roll dough into 18-inch square, spread with butter, and sprinkle evenly with filling. Starting with the edge nearest you, roll dough into tight cylinder, pinch lightly to seal seam, and, following photo 3, cut into 8 pieces. Transfer pieces, cut-side up, to prepared pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

4. For the glaze and to bake: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk cream cheese, milk, vanilla, and confectioners’ sugar in medium bowl until smooth. Discard plastic wrap and bake buns until deep golden brown and filling is melted, 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer to wire rack and top buns with ½ cup glaze; cool 30 minutes. Using foil overhang, lift buns from pan and top with remaining glaze. Serve.

Make Ahead: After transferring pieces to prepared pan in step 3, buns can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for 24 hours. When ready to bake, let sit at room temperature for 1 hour. Remove plastic wrap and continue with step 4 as directed.

The Verdict
I made these for teacher appreciation day on May 4, so I had a number of willing testers! Everyone seemed to love them, even though I didn't have quite enough powdered sugar to make the glaze as directed--I only used about 1/2 of what was called for. I cut them a tad smaller to make 12 and I did followed the 'make ahead' directions since I made the dough on Monday afternoon and then baked them Tuesday morning.

Mmmmm...cinnamon rolls! Maybe I should go make some more????

Wednesday, May 19

Cleaning and Beautifying

Whew! It's been a busy two days around here!

Enough snow has finally melted that we held the annual Whittier Clean-Up kickoff yesterday. Headed up by the school and the city council, volunteers took to the streets to pick up bags (and bags and bags!) of trash from the streets and sidewalks yesterday, making Whittier prettier for the tourist season.

Today was beautification day. Finally my greenish thumb got to dig around in some dirt! We planted 44 planters to be distributed around town, and one for the front of the school. The school exterior has been undergoing some renovation (a new ADA entrance and a new roof) so the front will be re-landscaped next month. The girls had a blast digging and planting. I forgot my camera in the rush to get out the door (had to tear them away from Sesame Street!) but I'll try to get some pictures from someone who was taking shots. There should be some good ones...the girls had a blast playing in the loader bucket full of dirt that the city donated to the effort!

And now...well it's raining again! We're so thankful for the past few dry and nice days though--and what perfect timing!

Monday, May 17

My First Tutorial: Making a Girl's Nightgown from a T-Shirt

Whew! I have referenced plenty of other people's tutorials over the years, but this is my first stab at creating one. And goodness me! Until you make one, you don't realize how time consuming it is. Especially if your sewing is done as mine is; a few minutes here and there. Throw in taking pictures on top that and it's quite a task. I've gained a whole new respect for people who do this sort of thing regularly!

I'm sure that there are parts of this that are confusing or don't make sense. Please feel free to email me (my contact info is on my 'About Me' tab) and I'll clarify!

With that said, let's get going! We're going to take this:

and turn it into one of these:

What You Need
t-shirt--a men's large would have been large enough-I had XXLs and had lots of leftover fabric
1/4 inch elastic
ribbing--if you don't want to take the neck apart on the t-shirt
sewing machine

basic sewing supplies (scissors, pins, etc.)


Making the Pattern

The first step is to make our pattern. Dig out a nightie from your sweetie's drawer that she likes. Tuck the sleeves to the inside and carefully fold it in half. Place that folded side along the edge of your paper and trace around your nightie, adding about half an inch for a seam allowance.


I'm tracing the back in the above picture, so I'm following the neckline of the back of the nightie. Then trace your nightie again, adding about 1/2 an inch for the seam allowance again, but this time follow the front neckline. Now you've got two pattern pieces--a nightie front and a nightie back. Sleeves are next!

Lay out the sleeve of your nightie on a piece of paper and trace it, adding the seam allowance. If your sleeve is gathered like mine is, you'll need to straighten it out a little bit so that you have something to gather too.

Now you need to make that part where the sleeve connects to the nightie. Draw a sloping line to connect your upper arm and your lower arm lines. The line you're filling in is indicated by arrows in the shot below.


None of these pattern pieces need to be exact! This is a nightie after all--not evening wear! And since we're going to gather this sleeve and add elastic if it's not perfect you'll never know.

Cutting Out the Nightgown
Now, let's cut apart your t-shirt. Cut up one side seam, around the sleeve (keep the sleeves whole, we'll need them later) across the shoulder seam, around the neckline (save that ribbing, too!) across that shoulder seam, and around that sleeve. Cut the final side seam and you should end up with 5 parts. 1) shirt front 2)shirt back 3 & 4)shirt sleeves 5)shirt neck ribbing.

Next you need to pin your pattern pieces to your shirt. Since we made the front and back pattern pieces on the fold, you'll need to cut them on the fold. So fold either the front or back of your shirt and lay down the pattern piece and pin.

To take advantage of the hem that's already in the bottom of the shirt I scooted my pattern piece all the way down to the bottom of the shirt so that the bottom edge of the pattern mostly lined up with the bottom edge of the hem on the shirt. Now here's why it doesn't matter if your pattern isn't perfect. We can fix part of it here. See how the bottom of my pattern piece doesn't line up with the hem all the way across? No biggie--ignore it and just cut the up the side. That way you won't have to hem the bottom of the nightgown.

Cut both the nightie front and back, using both the front and back of the t-shirt.

Now let's cut the sleeve. Like the front and back we made the pattern with the nightie folded, so we need to cut it on the fold, too. And like the front and back we want to take advantage of the existing hem on the t-shirt sleeve, so place your pattern piece at the top fold of the sleeve and all the way out to the hem, as pictured below. Just like the front and back, if your pattern doesn't line up exactly no biggie. Just straighten it out when you cut. Repeat this on the other t-shirt sleeve so you have two nightie sleeves.
To make things easier when we sew, cut a tiny little triangle off the top inside edge of the sleeve. This marks the center and will help us when we're gathering and sewing the sleeve.

You should have four pieces cut out now: nightie front, nightie back, and two nightie sleeves. Now let's sew!

Sewing the Nightgown
The first step is to pin your nightie front and back together with the right sides together. In single knits (most t-shirts are made from single knit) the right side is the side that looks like a lot of tiny v's when you look closely. So put the sides with the tiny v's together and pin it at the shoulder seam. If one piece is a little wider than the other, don't worry. Just line up the neckline part and we'll trim the arm side in a bit.


So pin the front and back together at the shoulder and sew, using that 1/2 inch seam allowance. If you have a serger you can use that, but if you don't you can just use the 'knit' or 'stretch' setting on your sewing machine. Refer to your user's manual if you need more help setting up your machine.

After you've sewn those shoulder seams, you can trim the armhole a tiny bit to make the pieces line up if you need to.

Next up--sleeves! We need to gather our sleeves a bit to make them fit into the armhole, so run your gathering stitch along the upper edge of the sleeve. (If you need help with how to gather, there's a great tutorial over here The Handmade Dress: A Little Gathering Tutorial.) After you run your gathering stitches you can run elastic through your sleeve hem if you want to make it more of a puff sleeve. Below you can see that I tried it both ways--the nightie on the left has elastic in the sleeve and the nightie on the right doesn't.

If you want to add elastic, measure around your little lady's arm and then add about an inch to give you a little play. Attach a safety pin to one end of your elastic and thread it through the wide part of the hem of the sleeve. Use your sewing machine to tack the elastic at both ends so that it stays put until we sew that underarm seam.


Now let's put in those sleeves. Open your nightie up right side up and turn your sleeve right side down. Line up the left and right edges of the sleeve with the ends of the sleeve opening and pin. Also line up the little notch you made at the top of the sleeve with the shoulder seam on the nightie and pin. This will help you evenly distribute your gathers. Now pull on those gathering threads and gently gather your sleeve until it is the same size as your sleeve opening. Pin and sew. Then remove the gathering threads. Repeat for the other sleeve.


Now we're going to sew those side seams. Fold your nightie (right sides together) as shown below and pin. Sew along the bottom of the sleeve and down the side seam.

Hey--it's really starting to look like something now! If you want a ribbed neckline, now's the time to add it. If you want to put a ruffle around the neck (like this--scroll all the way to the bottom to see the finished product) you can stop here.

To add ribbing to your neckline you want to cut a piece that's an inch or so smaller than your neck opening and about 2 1/2 inches wide. If you're like me and live 60+ miles from the nearest fabric store, you can do what I did and take apart the neckline of the shirt and use that ribbing. If it's a little stained you can turn it inside out and no one will ever know!

With right sides together, sew the ribbing together to form a circle, then press it in half all the way around so that the raw edges of the ribbing are together. Fold it in half to find the center front of the ribbing--hold the seam in one hand so that it's the center back. Ignore my extra pins below.


Now fold your nightie in half, matching up the shoulder seams so that you can find the center back and center front. Mark with pins. Put the ribbing around the neck hole, matching center back of the ribbing with center back of the nightie and likewise with the center fronts. Stretch the ribbing slightly as you go around and pin it in place. Sew.

Now it looks like this. If you press it, the seam will flatten out a bit. I wanted it a little flatter still, so I added top stitching around the neckline. My machine has a neat-o little foot that helps keep top stitching straight, but even if you don't have something similar you can easily run a line of stitching around the neckline.

Now it will all lay down a little flatter. Doesn't that look nice?
And you're done! Now you can embellish it if you'd like! I used freezer paper stenciling (Dana over at MADE has a great freezer paper stenciling tutorial) on these two:
And I did some applique and ruffles on these:


There's no limit on what you can come up with to personalize it, I'm sure!

Have fun and sweet dreams to your little ones!

Google Earth Update

If you're really curious about what Whittier looks like, Scott and I discovered that Google Earth has updated and now you can drive down our streets virtually. The pictures are from last summer, but they do give you an idea of what it looks like. And without snow!

Sunday, May 16

More Nightgowns



More t-shirt nighties...ruffles seem to be super-popular right now, so I had to give them a try. These are pretty simple and they turned out cuter than I expected! The girls love them, so I guess that makes it worth all the gathering, pinning, and thread pulling!

Works in Progress

Thanks to my loyal readers and voters! I went with your majority and picked layout A. It's funny how different they look just laid out versus when you take a picture of it...it makes it come together a bit more in a picture. Anyway...here's what it looks like now:

And then there's the jellyroll quilt! I made it into a quilt 'sandwich' last week with its backing fabric and batting. I even started quilting it. But I don't like the quilting, so now I'm ripping. I sewed on it for maybe 20 minutes. If only I could rip it all out in 20 minutes!! :-)
And don't worry Mom--I haven't quit on your quilt! :-)

Saturday, May 15

WOW!


This ship (the Diamond Princess) is docked outside my window! The picture doesn't do it justice...it's HUGE!! And look--it really is here!

I know--our water's not *quite* so blue as the top shot, but that's a shot from their webcam today. This ship has a golf course on it for goodness sake!

I'll have to take a picture of one of these ships from down on the harbor to give you an idea of how giant they are in comparison to our little town. Today however, we went into town and it's been raining buckets here since Monday. Not prime photo taking weather.

This is the first cruise ship of the season and ohmygoodness! Not only are they huge, but they bring a lot of hub-bub to town. Only about 10% of cruise-goers actually do anything in Whittier. Most are taking part in package vacations, so they disembark here and hop right onto a train or bus to go see other parts of Alaska. Still, it's quite a big event and makes tunnel travel slower for sure--all of those tour buses get to go first through the tunnel!

Friday, May 14

Vote!!

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Hi! I'm working on a project and I need a little input. I've got this laid out, but can't decide on how to do the border blocks. If you could give me your input over on the upper right sidebar I'd appreciate it...thanks!

This Week's Recipe--Salisbury Steak with Mushroom Gravy

image from foodnetwork.com

Mmmmm! Doesn't that look good?!!!

This week's recipe comes to us courtesy of Sandra Lee over at the Food Network. I've watched her a few times, but this is the first recipe of hers that I've tried.

The Recipe; Adapted for Andrea's Kitchen

(my changes in green)

Ingredients

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 (10-ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup, divided
  • 1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs (I used plain)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup frozen chopped onions (I used 1T dried onion)
  • 1 teaspoon steak seasoning (recommended: Montreal) (I used Mrs. Dash)
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1/4 cup cognac (I used water)
  • 1 (8-ounce) package sliced fresh mushrooms (I used a little can of canned mushrooms)
  • 2 cups low-sodium beef broth
  • 1 (1.2-ounce) packet brown gravy mix
  • Cooked rice, for serving (I made mashed potatoes)

Directions

In a large bowl, combine beef, 1/4 can mushroom soup, bread crumbs, egg, onions, and steak seasoning. Mix thoroughly and shape into 4 oval patties.

Heat oil and 1 tablespoon butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Brown patties on both sides and transfer to a plate.

Add remaining butter and cognac (remove pan from heat when adding cognac.) Saute mushrooms for 7 to 8 minutes (I skipped this step--no need with canned mushrooms. I just added the 1/4c water with the beef stock). Add beef stock and whisk in gravy mix until smooth. Stir in remaining mushroom soup.

Return patties to skillet and spoon gravy over top. Cover pan and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes.

Serve Salisbury Steaks and Mushroom Gravy over hot cooked rice.


The Verdict

Mmmmm! I have never made Salisbury Steak before--I don't know if I've ever eaten it before either, but everyone liked this! Scott especially liked the gravy. It made plenty of gravy for the spuds...we even had leftover gravy.


If you're googling around for a Salisbury Steak recipe I'd be wary of any that called for onion soup mix AND cream of mushroom soup. There seemed to be many variations out there, many calling for both ingredients. That seems like it would be *very* salty to me!