Thursday, August 28, 2014

I'm so far behind on blog posts....

Today will be the beginning of catching up! Here is a boxy pouch I made recently Both the outside and the lining are made of laminated cotton. Would you buy it if I were selling? How much would you pay for it? Inching closer to opening an Etsy shop.

(I wrote the note above many months ago. In the interest of catching up, I am publishing as part of my catch up and start again plan for blogging in 2015!)

Monday, June 2, 2014

Welcome Home Banner

When the kids were much younger, Scott usually traveled to China and other parts of Asia once a year to buy merchandise, and he was usually gone for 10-14 days. One year I had the idea of making a Welcome Home banner for him. The kids and I drew on it and wrote notes and colored in the letters. It was 18" wide and probably 6-8 feet long, and it was the first thing he saw when he came in the door upon arriving home. We did this several times over the years, until they outgrew the idea and were busy with their own activities.

I guess that memory stuck with my daughter Dana longer than I expected.

Dana asked me before she left NYU Paris if I was going to make her a Welcome Home banner. I was surprised by the request, but thought it would be fun to make some sort of banner for her. This is the banner I made recently to welcome her home after her freshman year of college.  I think it turned out to be very cute, and it is still hanging in her room 2 weeks after she arrived home.

I have seen tutorials for banners like this all over the web for a few years, and I have always wanted to make one, and a sign to welcome Dana home was the perfect excuse. The pennant triangles are 2 pieces of fabric sewn together, and are approximately 7" wide x 8" long. The letters and other motifs were handmade by me from felt and then glued on to the triangles. (That thing that looks like a modified letter A is supposed to be the Eiffel Tower.) Here is a closer look at the banner:

These are not my best photos, but they will have to do.

I want to make more of these! They are fun and easy, and I have a few ideas I want to try. Here is a link to the tutorial I used: pennant-banner-tutorial (Riley Blake Designs)

Trust me, you haven't seen the last of the custom pennant banner on this blog.

And here she is at the airport with her dad, and with the signs we made to greet her there.
Her flight from NY-LA was delayed, and she arrived home about 12:30 am on a Saturday night.
The signs were the first thing she saw when she got to baggage claim.

Welcome home, Dana!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Handmade Napkins

A set of 8 handmade napkins that I made for a friend.

Here is another look at the 4 different fabrics.

They are about 17" square, reversible, and washable. I have a huge stack of my own that we use all of the time, and no two are alike. I thought the friend who received these might like something a little bit more matched, so I made these in various blue prints.  I don't like things to be too matchy though....I like a lot of mixed pattern and color.

Monday, May 26, 2014

A Quilt for Brian and Patrick

My first finished quilt of 2014 is a riot of colorful batik fabric rectangles.

Patrick requested a colorful quilt. It took me a long time to finish this quilt, and I am very satisfied with the beautiful result. It measures about 75 x 90 after washing. 
I quilted this with straight lines and diagonals (the diagonal quilting lines are visible in the picture if you look carefully).
They were surprised and (I think) delighted.

A few more photos (below) taken in the sunshine in my backyard, make the quilt look more faded. In person it looks more like the above image.

A bit of the multicolor batik backing fabric is visible in this photo.

I'm not sure what to sew next. I have been interested in sewing clothes for myself this spring, but I have been too busy, and probably too impatient, to slowly learn how to do what I want to do. I need time to make mistakes with patterns and fabric and then try again. I have quilts I want to make, and hope to make some for my nieces before September.

Maybe I should move my sewing machine outside?!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Heirloom Carrot Soup

Cooking with Diane

    In March, I went to a cooking class hosted by Diane Mohilef at her home in Encino. She calls her series of classes "A Day in the Kitchen". Attendees watch her prepare a full menu, including dessert, while taking notes on a handout with recipes and notes.

Vegetables ready to cook in one of my new pots! Finally, after 25+ years, I bought new pots and pans!

Diane in her kitchen
She has a full demonstration kitchen in a guest house on her property, with a counter and stools for 16 people. The Heirloom Carrot and Celery Soup recipe (below) is from the first class I took with her. It was a wonderful wednesday morning of  learning, eating, and making new friends. My friend Karmi told me about the class and I plan to be a regular student!

Diane attended culinary school when her children were grown, then cooked with Michel Richard at Citrus for many years. She is entertaining and energetic, and the class is fun and educational in so many ways.

Delicious carrot soup-add a few croutons, or maybe a grilled cheese sandwich on the side?

Heirloom Carrot and Celery Soup

Adapted from a recipe by Diane Mohilef. Yield 8-9 cups


1 TBSP  Butter
2 TBSP  Seasoned oil**
1  Sweet onion, peeled and chopped small
2 Lbs  Heirloom carrots, peeled and sliced into coins
8  Carrots, peeled and sliced into coins
       **(You will need a total of about 3 LBS of carrots)
1  Celery root, cleaned/peeled and chopped small
       (I have also used a celery heart, chopped)
1  Apple (with skin) seeded and chopped
1  Rutabaga, peeled and chopped
2  TBSP Honey
1/4 cup  Brown sugar (I use only about 2 TBSP)
8 cups  Chicken stock, or vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Fresh Rosemary sprig (about 6 inches long)
Optional--add up to 1 tsp cumin with the honey, etc.


In a large pot heat butter and oil. Add onion, carrots, celery root, apple, and rutabaga. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until all vegetables are softened. Add honey, brown sugar, chicken stock, seasonings (start with 1 tsp salt and ½ tsp pepper) and rosemary. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes. Remove rosemary sprig (any leaves that have fallen off can stay in the soup) and cool. Puree soup. Warm to serve.
I like to serve this with homemade croutons  (stale bread cut into pieces and tossed with a little olive oil/seasoned oil and salt and pepper, then toasted in a 400 degree oven until crispy).

**For the seasoned oil, you can use a purchased oil seasoned with rosemary, or basil, or garlic, or make your own.

Seasoned oil:
½ cup canola oil
½ cup olive oil
1-2 garlic cloves, smashed
rosemary sprig,  and/or thyme sprig

Place all ingredients in a bottle  and let stand 2 days on counter. After 2 days, remove herbs and garlic, strain, and use. Keeps for about 1 month.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Catching up

First batch of strawberry jam this year, and it is organic!

I have not made a quilt yet this year, though I have done a bunch of other sewing.

And, I have gone back to the Batik quilt I started for Brian and Patrick.  I want to finish it within the next two weeks and start a new one. I bought a multicolor batik for the back, and want to get it ready to quilt by tonight. 

We had a wonderful spring break trip to visit Dana in Paris. I could have stayed for another week and still not seen everything I wanted to see. 

Spring break is over. Back to regular, scheduled blog posts!

More boxy pouches

So much fun to make, and so quick and easy with the serger!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Hamentashen for Purim

This year I tried a new hamentashen recipe along with the old standby. Chocolate Brownie Hamentashen with peanut butter filling (recipe here). I also used nutella for some, and cookie butter, (also called Biscoff or Speculoos spread) for some. Pretty delicious.

I tried to get Jenna interested in these, but she only wanted the traditional style, with nutella filling. I did make traditional (cookie dough) hamentashen with several other fillings: fig butter (and they tasted like fig newtons-delicious!), cherry jam, and cookie butter. My favorite flavor is poppyseed, but I did not make any this year, since I am the only one in the family who likes them. I don't need a batch of my favorite hamentashen calling my name every day between now and Passover.

Next, I will try my hand at some baked doughnuts, just for fun.

A Leather Bag Handmade by Me

I can't believe I did it! There were almost tears, and it was harder than I expected. The pattern is the Town Bag from WEEKEND SEWING by Heather Ross. I got the leather scraps at the FIDM Scholarship Store (in downtown LA), and the total cost for the leather pieces was $20. The main body of the bag is made from a piece of baby blue leather that is a little too thick for this project, but I did not know it until I was already in the middle of construction! The strap and side pieces are made from a much thinner piece of brown leather. The lining is cotton that I actually purchased in Tel Aviv a few years ago.  I added a magnetic snap inside the top of the bag.

      I will use a light weight piece of leather for the main body next time. The hardest part was sewing on the side pieces (brown strips) over the thick side seam of the blue leather. Here is the finished product:

Jenna liked it so much that it is now hers! I plan to look for a light weight piece of leather soon to make another one. This was a challenging project, but I will try it again.

More PJ pants for Jenna....

.....from my own hand-drafted pattern. She likes them! I made these about two weeks ago. They could be a bit slimmer/smaller next time; I will have to adjust the pattern a bit more. Overall, though, pretty cute!


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

I'm Quilting for Good Health

Why quilting improves your health in ways even exercise can't manage


I love this article from the Daily Mail about the health benefits of would probably be even better if I did not occasionally snack on m&m's or jelly beans as I stitch!

I learned another new sewing skill last week, which makes me feel great. I learned to make a double stitched hem (on the regular machine, the Bernina, not the serger for a change!) A double stitch hem makes garments look more polished and professionally finished.

I also finally submitted a couple of pieces of writing I had delayed finishing (one sat in a file for much longer than the other.) It feels great just to have finished them. Why did I wait for so long? Why am I suddenly feeling so brave? When I figure it out, I will let you know. Is it the daily vitamins I started taking, or drinking more water? Or is it just the Trader Joe's dark chocolate peanut butter cups that call my name after lunch? Sweet mysteries of life.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Some New Recipes

I recently (this week) tried these 3 recipes and liked them all.

First a delicious Banana Nutella Bread. Not too sweet, and I made this as muffins. It made 24 with a little batter left over (enough for about 1 more muffin). I baked these for about 25 minutes, I think.
Nutella Swirled Banana Bread
I did not take a photo.

Next, some gluten free chocolate chip oatmeal cookies. This is my first experience with GF baking, and I used Cup 4 Cup gluten free flour (purchased at Whole Foods) and Trader Joe's gluten free oats. Cup 4 Cup does contain Xanthan gum, so no need to add it separately.

These are delicious, gluten free or not! The only change I made was to grind the oatmeal in my food processor, as I do for my conventional oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.
Here is a picture of my cookies. Recipe link is below the picture.

Finally, I get a CSA box delivered to my home every Thursday by  Good Life Organics. I also get a weekly email from them with details about the contents of that week's box as well as recipes and storage tips. Lately, a bunch of kale is included in the box almost every week, so I am always looking for interesting ways to use it.

I have made delicious Kale Pesto several times using this recipe.

This week's email included a recipe for a delicious kale salad. I made it last night, and will be adding it to my file of kale recipes-yum! I left out the raisins, but will add them next time. Dried cranberries might be good, too. Here is a photo of my salad, and the recipe is below. Happy cooking and baking!

Melt in Your Mouth Kale Salad with Pine nuts
Once you try this, you will be hooked! If your family members aren't huge kale fans, this salad might convert them, and you can also lighten this up a bit by adding an equal part of chopped butter lettuce to the minced kale.
  • 1 bunch of lacinato kale, stems removed, rinsed and patted dry
  • ⅓ cup currants (or chopped raisins)
  • juice of one lemon 
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 tsp local honey
  • ½ cup pine nuts toasted
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 tbsp grated raw parmesan cheese
  1. In a food processor, process kale into small chopped pieces (or you can do this by hand with a chef's knife!) 
  2. To make dressing, stir lemon juice, olive oil, honey, salt and pepper together in a large bowl
  3. Add chopped kale, currants, pine nuts and parmesan to bowl with dressing
  4. Stir all ingredients together and serve
  5. (Optional - Save some pine nuts and/or parmesan cheese for top of salad before serving for presentation purposes)
  6. Recipe and photo from Thank you Laura for sharing! 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


Well, it is official. I am obsessed with a sewing machine. And not just any straight stitch machine, or even a fancy embroidery machine. No, it's the one pictured below.

I bought this machine over two years ago and have barely touched it until now. I was scared, and I had never had a serger before, and learning to use it seemed quite daunting. Last year I signed up for a class on Craftsy to learn to use it. Last month I finally got brave enough to try. And now I almost can't stop.

This boxy zippered pouch was the first project I tried as part of the online Craftsy class. After learning to thread the machine and adjust the tension using different colors of thread, I was excited to sew an actual THING instead of practicing on scraps. I love the way it turned out, and it was FAST! No pressing seams open, since the seams are covered. 

I signed up for a Craftsy class to learn to use my machine and it was a huge help. I would recommend “Beginner Serging” with Amy Alan to any of you who are new to serging. Threading the machine with 4 different colors of thread was well worth the time I spent on it and really helped me understand how my serger works.

I was ready to move on to something I could actually wear....

This is the Hemlock Tee, by Grainline Studios. The pattern is one size and is available free online (link) and I used a piece of knit fabric I bought for $2.00/yard at the FIDM Scholarship store. I did it! I even added cuffs because I thought the sleeves were too short! I promptly cut out and made a second one, using other bargain bin fabric I had in my stash....

Next I decided that I felt confident enough to try my hand at some PJ pants for Jenna. I made my own pattern based on some online instructions, by tracing a pair of PJ pants that I knew fit her. I used another piece of long stored fabric that I had bought super cheap, and just went for it. Et voila!....

And they fit! I am planning another pair, with a few minor adjustments to my pattern.

Finally, my latest Hemlock Tee, made yesterday afternoon. This is a rib knit fabric, so I thought it might be a little more difficult to work with, but this tee came together so quickly and easily that I just want to make one every day.

This much fun should be illegal.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Other 2013 Sewing

    Here are most of the other things I made in 2013. I am sure there are a few missing, since I sometimes forget to take photos before giving the items I make as gifts.

Meanwhile, I am making slow progress on my Torah Stitch by Stitch project.....

Handmade Luggage Tags for friends

Fun and simple to make.

I really enjoyed making the customized styles with college and sorority logos.

So far the ones I have made for our family have held up through several trips, so I guess they are sturdy enough to withstand the abuse of airline baggage handlers!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Quilts for twins

These two twin quilts were finished just before Christmas, and just a bit late for Chanukah. I made them for the twin sons of a very old, very close friend of Scott's. The boys are now 6, and they were surprised and pleased with these bright new quilts! They each measure about 60x70 inches.

Quilts finished in 2013

I made 13 quilts last year-not bad for a year's work! I am amazed that I am able to finish about 1 per month-when I am working on them it seems to me I am much slower than that pace implies.