Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Earring storage solution

Well, here's one way to keep track of a growing collection of earrings. This works best for the dangly type, which is the kind I wear most often.

Earring storage solution

The frame was a plain wooden one I found at Goodwill, housing a rather ugly print of ducks. :) I took the print out, lightly sanded the frame, and painted it with a champagne gold acrylic paint. Next I took an old toothbrush and dipped it in a darker gold paint and rubbed that along the length of the frame to give it a little dimension. When that was dry, I diluted some dark brown paint with water, then dipped the toothbrush in, flicking it onto the frame by running my thumb over the bristles in the opposite direction of where I wanted the paint to go. This was all to give it an aged look, and I loved how it turned out.

Earring storage solution

The wire screen was salvaged from some windows that someone had put out on the curb for the taking. It's the fiberglass(?) type -- not aluminum -- I'm not really sure what I'm talking about here but it is pliable and strong. :) I used a staple gun to attach it to the frame. It ended up not being quite as taut as I'd hoped but it works.

Now my earrings are a little easier to see, instead of being thrown together in a jewelry box. Next I need to figure out a way to organize my necklaces!

Friday, January 21, 2011

White bean and winter squash stew

White Bean & Winter Squash Stew

This is a stew I have made over and over since I've been married. It's quite different than any of the other run-of-the-mill stew recipes I've come across, and the cumin, cinnamon, and cilantro give it a little taste of India. I like how it uses only vegetables and beans. I've adapted my version from the Fix It and Forget It Cookbook so that it's no longer a crockpot recipe -- I find I need to pre-cook the squash to dice it easily, so at that point I might as well just make it on the stove.
  • 1 winter squash
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1-2 T. butter or olive oil
  • 3-4 c. chicken broth
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lb. bag of dried Great Northern beans (or other white beans such as Navy or Cannellini), soaked and cooked according to directions on bag
  • 14-1/2 oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • chopped fresh cilantro
Pre-heat the oven to 350. Split the winter squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and stringy flesh, and place each half face down on a rimmed baking sheet. Pour 1-2 cups of water into the baking sheet and place in oven for 30-45 minutes, until the squash is fork-tender. Remove squash from sheet and place face-up to cool.

While the squash is cooling, dice up a large onion and saute over medium heat in a little butter or olive oil in the bottom of a large stock pot. Once the onion is translucent, add the minced garlic and continue cooking for another minute or so, until the garlic is fragrant. Add the chicken broth, spices, cooked beans, and diced tomatoes. Chop up the cooled squash into bite-sized chunks (being sure to cut off the skin) and add to the stew, then simmer 10-15 minutes to allow the flavors to meld. Serve garnished with fresh chopped cilantro.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Thrifted treasures

I've had a little success in the thrifting/vintage shopping department lately. Most of the thrift stores around where I live are Goodwills, and their prices are generally ridiculous. (Really? $4.50 for a used top, when I could find a new one on clearance for a cheaper price?) I'm not willing to pay above what I would consider a good "garage sale" price.

hat stand and hatbox

I did find this wooden hat stand and vintage floral hatbox at Goodwill, and the prices were actually reasonable. I may repaint the hat stand ivory or a more muted color, but for now I like how it matches the pink roses on the hatbox. I will use the hatbox for storage for now, but in the future I can foresee it decorating a daughter's bedroom. I am a complete sucker for vintage floral patterns, especially when they're pink. I hope my daughters like them, too.

sweater clip

This sweater clip actually comes from an antique store, but it was such a great price it may as well have been thrifted. ;-) Sweater clips, if you have never heard of them, are meant to hold a cardigan in place when wearing it over the shoulders, like a cape. Very librarian-ish, right? If you have never seen these for sale anywhere, Jen has a great tutorial on how to make your own here.

I'm working on an earring storage project, mostly from thrifted materials, so I'll share that soon, too!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Swing dress sew-along

Have you all heard about Casey's swing dress sew-along? I am planning on participating, so this will be my first sew-along! I already have the e-pattern, and if I don't find some great rayon fabric this weekend, I'll be ordering some online. (The Anglophile in me is halfway tempted by this novelty fabric on eBay -- someone reiterate how ridiculous a dress made out of fox hunting fabric would look, and I'll get over it.) ;-)

I am planning on making my version nursing friendly, and if my modifications are successful, I will post detailed instructions on how to change the pattern for nursing. I've contacted Mrs. Chancey (who designed the pattern) and she had a good suggestion on how to make the nursing modifications, so I am pretty confident it will work.

I am hoping this sew-along will encourage me to really take the time to make the dress well. Lately I have been desiring to increase the quality of my sewing projects to ensure a beautiful end result that I will really enjoy wearing -- not just zooming through as quickly as possible so as to have another item in my wardrobe. This means taking the time to make a muslin and check for fitting, lining skirts, considering nicer seam finishes, etc. I'm looking forward to getting started!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

'Wisteria and Sunshine' dress

It was this time of year, in 2007, when I first read Elizabeth Von Arnim's book, "The Enchanted April." January is a good time of year to read books set in idyllic climes.

'Wisteria and Sunshine' dress

My grandmother's friend purchased this vintage 1920s dress to use as a prop in a flower arranging vignette. Knowing my love of vintage fashions, she generously passed it on to me when she no longer needed it.

'Wisteria and Sunshine' dress

The dress reminds me of the beautiful costumes in the film version of Enchanted April, thus putting me even more in the mood for "wisteria and sunshine."

'Wisteria and Sunshine' dress

This dress is the simplest thing, but so pretty and dainty. Even a beginner seamstress could copy this without a pattern. The beauty and femininity of vintage dresses like this one is what got me addicted to sewing in the first place.

'Wisteria and Sunshine' dress

Now excuse me while I go find something warm and beautiful to read... (it's snowing outside my window as I type this.)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

This and that

Just a little "admin" notice to let you all know I added a feature in the sidebar to allow you to subscribe to my blog via e-mail (that means, in simplest terms, you will receive an e-mail every time I publish a new post). This comes at the request of my sweet mother, but I thought it might be useful to other friends-and-relations who don't use feed readers but would still like to keep up with the "goings on" here at Quietude. So check it out over to the right under the "Subscribe" header, and sign up if you'd like.

I also changed the settings to allow anyone to comment, so if you have tried to leave comments in the past but were unable to because you weren't a registered user, you're now at liberty to start chiming in!

Any other ways in which I can improve my blog? Leave a comment and let me know!