Archive forFebruary, 2012

Decor idea and some sewing I’ve been doing

I’m often mistaken for a creative person – I apparently have the appearance but none of the talent of an artist – but I’m really not creative. So when I do have a creative idea, you guys are gonna hear about it. I’ve been sewing up a storm on the trusty 15-91 this weekend. One of the things I made was napkins. That’s not the creative thing. I’d probably have made napkins sooner or later because I love cloth napkins, but the truth is I had plenty of them to begin with. But I saw Clotilde’s recent post on Chocolate and Zucchini about making napkins from fat quarters and had to make them much sooner than later because I have an ever-growing fat quarter obsession collection.

You see, both my mother, who can actually sew (unlike me), and I agree that the best part about sewing is picking out fabric. Until I bought my 15-91, it was the only part of sewing I liked. There is a lot of really neat fabric out there. The problem is I don’t have anything to do with most of it. I’m not going to wear it; I’ve been wearing black every day since the ’80s and I’m not about to stop now. So I buy fat quarters with hazy plans of making a quilt – the world’s largest quilt at this rate – when I’m 60. (A fat quarter, for those of you who are wondering, is a quarter yard of fabric, but one that’s been cut as a corner of the yard instead of a strip. So say a particular fabric is 44″ wide. If you went to the fabric store and requested a quarter yard of it, they’d cut you a piece that was 9″ x 44″. But a fat quarter, which is a “quilter’s cut”, would be 18″ x 22″. It’s always 18″ wide, but the height will vary. Fabric stores will often have fat quarters for $1, and there are tons of them on etsy, usually for $2 or $2.50.)

Soooo, inspired by Clotilde’s post, I raided my fat quarter stash and made some napkins. Where I got creative was in how to store them. They’re so pretty I want to look at them, so I got the idea to hang them up on a faux clothesline. It’s just some kitchen twine strung between two nails. Might not work for everyone, but our house is very casual. I didn’t need to figure out where the hell to put something else in my over-stuffed kitchen AND I can gaze admiringly at my pretty fabric when I’m not gazing admiringly at my sewing machine!

What do you think? I’m thinking it will be fun to tell guests to choose their own napkin and unpin it.

I could pretty easily be talked into doing a napkin tutorial, by the way, although it would be almost identical to the one Clotilde linked to. They’re just about the easiest possible thing to sew; it’d be a great project for kids, or a really great housewarming gift.

I also made oilcloth placemats although this picture makes them look terribly wrinkly. The oilcloth came all folded up and you can’t iron it so I’m just waiting for it to de-crease. I think maybe the chalkboard-everything craze is a bit 2009 (not that I follow trends very much), but I made these because if left to his own devices after finishing his meal during a dinner party, Mark becomes either very destructive or very creative. I hope to encourage creativity. Unlike me, Mark is extremely creative and very artistic. We do also very occasionally serve children and I suspect they may like them nearly as much as Mark.

One of the cats walked on this placement just after I wiped it clean and Mark chose to immortalize the paw prints. I very quickly found myself questioning the intelligence of this whole placement idea.

This is what the back of the placemats look like. Mark says they are hideous!

Finally, I made an improved lunch bag. Some time ago I made a very basic cloth lunch bag, which has been okay, but I’ve been a bit harder on it than I anticipated. I’ve been putting holes in it by dropping forks and knives into it, I’ve been spilling things in it, and I’ve been putting a heavier load than I thought in it, partially because I switched to a smaller laptop bag and have been putting a book to read during lunch in my lunch bag, and sometimes I read huge books. So I took the same concept but used canvas, which is sturdy, for the exterior and laminated cotton, which wipes clean, for the interior. I made it slightly larger, and I made a small, matching silverware holder to go inside. I managed to find the same exact fabric as the canvas in regular cotton, so I used that to make a matching napkin.

Here it is all packed up:

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Stuffed Butternut Squash

Wow, it actually feels a bit foreign to be writing this post. That means it’s been too long! I haven’t posted in a couple of weeks because I don’t like to make posts just to make them and I haven’t made anything worth talking about. But maybe I should start ensuring I make something post-worthy at least once a week. Here is what I made for dinner last night. It wasn’t perfect, but I suppose it’s worth a post.

Stuffed Butternut Squash

1 butternut squash
1 small onion or 1/2 medium to large onion, minced
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 link vegan sausage
1 cup mixed long grain/wild rice, uncooked

Slice the squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, place the halves face down on a pan, and place in a 400-degree oven. Cook until soft, about 30-40 minutes. I did this in my toaster oven which just perfectly fits two butternut squash halves.

Meanwhile, cook the rice according to package instructions.

Saute the onion, celery, and “sausage” in some olive oil until lightly browned.

Here are my cooked squash halves. The one is scored where I was testing it for done-ness.

Scoop out the insides, leaving a bit remaining.

Chop up the insides.

Combine the rice and the squash insides with the sausage mixture.

Stuff the mixture into each of the squash halves, packing it down.

If desired, sprinkle with some vegan cheese.

Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 25-30 minutes.

This was tasty, but it really needed a binder. It felt like it was sticking together fairly well before I cooked it, but baking it dried it out and the filling got crumbly. So next time I’ll use an egg replacer or bread crumbs, or maybe mix in that cheese instead of sprinkling on top. And also maybe cover the squash up with foil.

And now, who’s a handsome cat???

The big news in these parts is Mark gave me my Valentine’s Day present early and IT’S A 2-WEEK TRIP TO FRANCE AND AMSTERDAM!!! We’re going in May. I’m so excited! We went to Amsterdam for a few days on our honeymoon …

… but we’ve never been to France. Suggestions of things to see, do, and/or eat in either place are very welcome! Also accepting suggestions of novels that take place in France and/or Amsterdam that I can read in the meantime.

I’ve heard Paris isn’t very vegan-friendly, so I’m sure Marseille will be even less so (we’re going to both cities). Fortunately we love bread and many breads, including the ubiquitous baguette, are vegan. Also, the French tutor I hired to help me remember my five years of high school and college French just happens to be a vegetarian and she totally knew what a vegan was, so hopefully I’ll be all set in the food-rejecting department. PAS DE BOEUF! PAS D’OEUF!

I’m also heading to LA in early March and the mountains with Mark’s family this summer…a lot of travel this year! Just the way I like it!

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