Friday, November 27, 2009


Day 316

Remember this post where I waxed poetic about embellished tops? Well, I finally found a few hours to make one for myself. It wasn't too difficult and just took about an hour and a half. This could even be a no-sew project, but I zig-zag stitched around the exterior of the appliques just for fun. So, if you find yourself with some time to spare this holiday long weekend, try out this project and whip up a lovely new top for just a few dollars.


1 T-shirt with a collar, in your size (mine came from the local thrift shop for $3.00)

7 6"x6" scraps of cotton fabric, any color

white paper


sharp scissors

paper-backed fusible webbing (I like wonder under)


1 sheet white tissue paper

Embellished T

Step 1: Lay T-shirt out on work surface. Carefully cut out collar and remove. Try to make the cut as even and symmetrical as possible.

Embellished T

Step 2: Cut out templates for the appliques from the white paper. I used a rounded shape, but triangles or pointed shapes would work well, too. You will want 2 of each shape going down the neckline and 1 of the shape at the bottom of the neckline. Each one should be longer than needed so a little extra extends beyond the neckline. That part will be trimmed off later, Arrange them on the shirt to make sure they are big enough to overlap slightly around the new neckline.

Embellished T

Step 3: Make sure the templates fit with a little room to spare on the fabric scraps. Trim the scraps into squares, leaving at least 1/2" border around the templates (this makes the next step a lot easier).

Embellished T

Step 4: Cut pieces of the fusible webbing slightly smaller than each of the fabric scraps. Bond to the fabric using the manufacturer's directions. Do not remove paper-backing yet! Trace each template onto the paper-backing of each fabric scrap, remember to do 2 of each coming down the neckline, and then cut out the shapes from the fabric. After each shape is cut out, the paper-backing can be removed.

Embellished Tee

Step 5: Lay T-shirt out on ironing board. Take the piece of tissue and place between the two layers of T-shirt at the neckline, making sure that the entire edge of the neckline is covered with tissue. This is to make sure nothing accidentally gets bonded to the back of the shirt.

Embellished Tee

Step 6: Lay the webbing-backed fabric pieces along the neckline. No part of the T-shirt along the neckline edge should be exposed. Fiddle with them so they are symmetrical on both sides of the neckline.

Embellished Tee

Step 7: Iron the pieces in place according to the fusible webbing directions.

Embellished Tee

Step 8: Flip shirt inside out to expose the backside of the fabric pieces which have been bonded to the tissue. Rip the tissue so only the pieces actually adhered to the fabric remain. Carefully cut along the neckline to remove the excess fabric.

Embellished Tee

Step 9: Flip shirt right side out and all done! I did choose to zig-zag stitch along the neckline and around the appliques, but that's totally optional. Wear your new shirt with pride, just don't throw it in the washer or dryer. This baby is handwash and air dry only!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

My Thanksgiving day this year begins with a 4AM trip to the airport! Luckily, turkey and pie await at my destination, something to be thankful for indeed. Though I will be in a turkey stupor still on Friday, I have scheduled a really great Fri-DIY with a totally new project by yours truly.

Here's hoping you the best this Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Meatless Monday - Stuffed Piquillo Peppers

Piquillo peppers stuffed with goat cheese

This week's recipe could not be easier. A little messy - you will have goat cheese under your fingernails all night, but it's so delicious you won't mind.

Piquillo peppers are a Spanish staple and luckily are becoming widely available here in the States. They are the best peppers from a jar ever - smoky, sweet and tender. If you can't find them near you, jarred roasted red peppers will work, too, but they'll need to be cut in half or quartered.

This dish is served as tapas in Spain, and it really is best as a snack or appetizer. It's tasty even when served cold, but better after a few minutes under the broiler to melt the cheese inside the peppers. These would be great on top crusty rounds of toasted french bread or eaten straight from the pan in barefeet in the kitchen.

Day 309

1 jar Piquillo peppers, 8-10 peppers total
6 ounces fresh goat cheese
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced

Preheat the broiler. Drain jar of peppers and pat peppers dry with a paper towel. Gently open each pepper and stuff with goat cheese (mine took about 1 Tablespoon cheese per pepper). Arrange peppers in a shallow oven-proof dish. Pour olive oil over peppers and sprinkle garlic over all. Broil for 5-7 minutes until hot.

Friday, November 20, 2009


How is it that Thanksgiving is just next week?? The gift-making and gift-buying time for Christmas is drawing short. I've put together a few gift ideas this week, like the gorgeous headband above from Jeannie over at Project Wedding, a stress-free Thanksgiving idea, and a lovely advent calendar. Get those scissors and Sharpies ready!

I love these Thanksgiving place cards from the Pink of Perfection. They are three of my favorite things - lovely, simple, and free. Send the kids out to gather the leaves, write the names, and scatter on the table. Beautiful.

The purl bee has another wonderful craft tutorial - mini patchwork pin cushions. Make a bunch this weekend and have a pretty gift for every sewer you know!

Finally, the wonderful crew over at Mibo have made a fantastic advent calendar. For free! This lovely gem is just an email away. Also check out their adorable Christmas Creatures, they make me smile.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Meatless Monday - Braised Belgian Endive with Balsamic Vinegar

Braised Belgian Endive with Balsamic Vinegar

Late fall and early winter brings forth glorious greens. Among them are the lovely snowy teeny heads of Belgian endive. While I can't decide the best pronunciation for endive, I certainly do enjoy eating it. When raw, it is incredibly crunchy and bitter. It's great chopped in a salad with other greens, but too bitter to stand on it's own. However, give it a nice slow braise to take the edge off and it turns into a tender, complex early winter vegetable dish.

I served this over polenta to catch all the cooking juice and vinegar run off. The blue cheese is optional, but adds a nice extra oomph to the dish if serving as a main course.

4 small heads Belgian endive
2 Tablespoons butter
1/4 cup white wine
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Cooked polenta
4 Tablespoons crumbled blue cheese (optional)

Remove any bruised outer leaves from the endives. Trim a little off the core end, but don't cut the core entirely off. Halve each endive lengthwise.

Braised Belgian Endive with Balsamic Vinegar

In a medium dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the endives, cut side down, and cook 5-7 minutes until beginning to brown. Flip over and cook another 5 minutes until both sides are browned.

Add wine to pan and cover. Cook 25-30 minutes until the endives are soft.

Add vinegar to a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer until reduced by half, about 2-3 minutes. Watch carefully, it can go from perfectly syrupy to burned mess in just a few seconds.

Pile polenta in center of individual plates. Top with blue cheese crumbles then endive. Pour reduced vinegar over endives. Season with freshly ground pepper.

Serves 2

Thursday, November 12, 2009


This week's Fri-DIY is chock full of good ideas for crafty gifting, and one pretty gift to make for yourself. It's not too late to whip up some fantastic gifts for the holidays (at least that's what I am telling myself) so break out the fabric paint or sewing machine this weekend and make one of these great projects.

How about orange (great blog, please read her) put up a terrific tutorial for freezer paper stencils. It has been YEARS since I tried my hand at it, and her post was a great refresher. She did a cute tote bag, but how about using the technique on linen dish towels, baby onesies, or T-shirts?

How About Orange also led me to Sew Mama Sew, which led me to this great tutorial to make a scrap fabric tree pillow at Cluck Cluck Sew. It's time's like this that I love the internet. PS - Mom. I see that Cluck Cluck Sew was mentioned in that Quiltmaker you showed me during your visit, small world!!

The Martha has a tutorial showing how to make pocket tissue holders. These would make great stocking stuffers for everyone on your list.

Twig and Thistle made these adorable S'Mores kits. I love this project because it shows how something simple can be deconstructed, repackaged, and made into a great gift. Keep these in mind for any kiddies on your list this year.

Finally, inspired by yesterdays post about embellished shirts, Kayte Terry shared a great tutorial over at the Storque to make a pretty rose T-shirt. The rosettes would also be great sewn onto a scarf or cardigan.

Happy DIY-ing!

Dress Up - Embellished Tops from Anthropologie

This seems to be the season for embellished tops. Everywhere I look there's another applique, a rosette, some funky ruffles. I love it all. These tops from Anthropologie make me want to start ripping seams and sewing on my own embellishments on some tired shirts way back in the closet. I especially love the appliqued top in the upper right corner. Looks simple enough to translate, I think I'll give it a shot!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Meatless Monday - Mushroom and Celery Salad

Day 137

My mother has been in town the past few days and I have over-indulged in her good cooking. I feel like I should pay penance and eat meatless all week, starting with this light, lovely salad.

Mushrooms and celery make a great combination, earthy and chewy versus fresh and crisp. This salad wouldn't say no to being served over a bed of freshly washed greens. Or serve it alongside a broth-based soup (like egg drop) for a light supper. If not eating meatless this is a great side to simply grilled chicken, steak, or fish.

1 pound fresh white mushrooms, cut into 1/4 inch slices
3 ribs celery, finely sliced
1 Tablespoon onion, minced
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Mushroom and Celery Salad

Combine mushrooms and celery in a large bowl. Combine onion, lemon juice, and mustard in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in olive oil to make dressing. Add Parmesan to dressing and stir to combine. Toss with mushrooms and celery. Serve chilled or at room-temperature.

Friday, November 6, 2009


This week finds me thinking fondly of the upcoming holiday season. We're travelling every holiday this year, so no entertaining at my house. But I am still dreaming of setting a pretty table. This week's diy links are great inspirations! I love the favor bag / placecard pictured above. They look pretty straightforward to sew and could coordinate with the table linens! These would also be cute to make and leave on pillows for any overnight guests.

I love these punched tin votives because they are inexpensive and use recycled materials. These would be great punched with letters and lined up on a mantle or used as place cards on a set table. Painting them white is a nice touch, but they would be lovely and rustic just left silver, too.

This awesome dingbat font of die cut shapes would really be useful for making gift tags, name tags, cute ornamets, cards, etc. They are generously offered for free by clever someday, she only asks that you make a donation to the Ronald McDonald house, a very worthy organization.

Another pretty use for paper wrapped around an inexpensive vase. Pretty paper is so easy to come by, and I love these projects that show how to incorporate it into decorating and entertaining. I snatch up paper I love and keep in on hand for projects just like this!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Dress Up - Luella

Things are a little gloomy in my household recently. We have a malfunctioning toilet, a malfunctioning computer, a dog that has learned to climb fences, and no money to deal with any of them. However, looking at Luella's last two spring collections amused me. They are funny, madcap, ladylike collections that make me giggle. AND they wouldn't be too difficult to recreate with vintage finds and some creative embellishments if you're saving for external hard-drives, plumbing fixes, and electric fences.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Meatless Monday - Smoked Paprika & Garlic Shrimp

Day 290

The husband and I sometimes argue about Meatless Monday. He says that it's cheating to eat fish and eggs on Meatless Monday. I disagree, however, and since this is my blog, I can get my own way.

This recipe is ridiculously good. Also, ridiculously easy. Do make a lot of it - I promise it will all get eaten. Also make sure to have plenty of crusty bread on hand for sopping up the delicious sauce.

This recipe includes two very Spanish ingredients - smoked paprika and sherry. Smoked paprika can be a smidge hard to find. I've used regular paprika in its place and it was still very good. The sherry needs to be a good quality dry sherry. It's flavor is pretty pronounced in the dish so do NOT under any circumstances use cream sherry or cooking sherry. Any good wine shop should have a selection of dry sherry. Unlike most wines, it keeps indefinitely in the fridge.

Serve small glasses of sherry over ice with this dish and reserve the rest for another application. I have a great recipe for sherry applesauce which I hope to have up here soon.

3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons smoked paprika (can substitute regular paprika)
2-3 Tablespoons sherry (NOT cooking sherry or cream sherry)
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
salt and pepper to taste

Combine garlic, pepper flakes, paprika, sherry, and oil in a small bowl. Mix well to combine. Place shrimp in a shallow dish and cover with marinade. Let sit in fridge at least 20-30 minutes.

Heat a large pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add shrimp and marinade and cook, stirring frequently, until shrimp curl and change colors. Serve immediately.