Rag Doll Bunny – Pattern

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Feb 282012

Okay, the pattern is done! I made both the body and head more egg-shaped than in the sketch (I like the subtle Easter tie-in) and the proportions are a little different. It will make a pretty big doll, but I think that will make it easier to clothe it and add facial details – plus turning it before stuffing should be easier too.

Now I just need the fabric. I’m going to use scraps for the ear lining and the clothes but I’m thinking I’ll use a muslin or something similar (any suggestions?) for the body. Now when’s Easter again? Stay tuned for bunny updates!

Gallo Pinto

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Feb 282012

Costa Rica holds a very special place in my heart – I met my husband there (no, he’s not a Tico but that’s a different story), I learned I love to travel during my first trip there, I tortured my mother with the horseback trek from hell there, I spent a month there in 1999, and one magical afternoon I watched a volcano erupt flanked by a rainbow and the full moon as the sun set behind me there (no, really). Fast forward to last Friday, when I walked into our local butcher shop / salsa emporium and asked if they happened to have any Salsa Lizano. Its generally hard to find here; even in most of the latin stores around I’ve gotten blank stares if I’ve asked for it but amazingly they had it at the butcher. Salsa Lizano is ubiquitous in Costa Rica, used on almost everything, but it is the star player in the national dish known as Gallo Pinto (literally ‘spotted rooster’). Gallo Pinto is traditionally a breakfast dish and it does make a nice hearty breakfast, but its often served in the evening as well for a lighter supper.

. . Okay, so I set out to make Gallo Pinto tonight. I looked up recipes here, here and here, and armed with 3 very similar recipes set to cooking. Of course, right off the bat I screwed it up royally! If you’ve clicked through to look at the other recipes you’ll see that each of them call for a cup of COOKED rice – I thought that seemed a bit light on the rice so I threw in 1 1/2 cups of rice. Unfortunately, it was uncooked rice. Fortunately I added the appropriate amount of liquid to the rice so now it’s game on: me vs. Gallo Pinto! In the end, I recovered nicely, the recipe turned out great (even if it was a bit skewed on the beans-to-rice ratio), and it was a hit with the family, which is usually the most important part. Both kids ate up all of the beans and rice AND the fried egg, so yay me! Here is my recipe (screw-up included):


1/2 large red onion, chopped
1/2 red, orange, or yellow bell pepper, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper, preferably freshly ground
2 TBS olive oil
1 1/2 cups white rice, uncooked
3 cups water
1 cube chicken bouillon
1 can beans (black beans are traditional; I used a three bean medley ’cause that’s what I had in the pantry).
4 TBS Lizano salsa (the recipes I looked at said you can substitute Worcestershire sauce but I’ve got both in the fridge and they don’t taste similar to me at all).
1/4 cup cilantro, fresh, minced

1. saute the onion, pepper and garlic in the olive oil over medium heat, seasoning with the salt and pepper. When the vegetables have softened, add the rice and cook for a few minutes, stirring frequently. Once the grains of rice have begun to turn more opaque, add the bouillon cube and the water, stir well, and then cover and turn the heat to low.

2. Once the rice is cooked though (about 20 minutes) add the beans with their liquid, and the Lizano sauce. Stir well, heat through, and serve garnished with the minced cilantro.

I served the Gallo Pinto with a fried egg, which is more traditional for breakfast but was great tonight at dinner. Also, this is an easy dish to make vegetarian by leaving out the chicken bouillon cube and either using a vegetable bouillon cube, or 3 cups vegetable stock, or by just omitting the bouillon/stock, using water and adding a bit more salt and some cumin.

Feb 272012

I made this hat today, but neither of my kids would cooperate to model it, so I had to use Mr. Sleep Sheep here:

This is a Martha Stewart crafts pattern – it was pretty straightforward after I figured out how to tape the templates together (that part took WAY longer than it should have!). I used fusible interfacing on both pieces of the brim fabric, which I think stiffened up the brim a bit more than I like, so the next time I make it I’ll just put interfacing on one of the sides. Also, its a bit big for a preschooler, but too small for an adult, so if I make another child sized hat I’ll need to adjust the size down some. It took me quite awhile – I probably worked on it for 3 hours at least, but of there were some interruptions during that time – I’d say its easily a 2 hour project with no interruptions. I’m thinking of making matching mom and daughter hats to donate to the preschool auction.

Rag Doll Bunny – First Steps

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Feb 262012

I’m planning to make rag doll bunnies for the kids for Easter, so tonight I’ve been sketching out bunnies to come up with something I can make a pattern out of. I don’t have anything to show yet – its been a lot of false starts and do-overs – but I’m getting closer. I’d like to have a pattern done in the next few days so that I can start working on the dolls and be able to do a little bit at a time instead of a marathon sewing session the night before Easter. I’d keep working tonight, but my 4 year-old is having a sleepover here with a friend, and they’re finally asleep, and I’m exhausted! Here’s hoping they sleep past seven tomorrow!

Threaded Bangle Bracelets

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Feb 252012

I got the idea for these threaded bangle bracelets from this pin on Pinterest, from the website Mary & Patch. I like the effect on the bangles (cheap ones I got from Fred Meyer for $2). I used a different knot than the original blogger but I think I’ll try the knot she used next time. I’ve got some other color combinations I’d like to try; I stopped at three tonight because they take about 45 minutes each to finish.

Beef Stroganoff

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Feb 242012

I never ate Beef Stroganoff growing up. I don’t remember ever eating it even one time at home, but a few years ago I got a craving for it, made it, and it turns out I really like it. I don’t use any particular recipe; the first time I cooked it I used the recipe in ‘The Joy of Cooking‘ (which by the way is an excellent all purpose cookbook and at the same time full of really arcane recipes like how to prepare opossum “if possible, trap ‘possum and feed it on milk and cereals for 10 days before killing”!!).

Now I just wing it. The basic preparation is to saute some chopped onion in oil and/or butter, add ground or sliced beef to the skillet and brown it, then remove the beef and saute sliced mushrooms in the pan, seasoned with a bit of nutmeg. To finish the dish, add the beef and onions back to the pan and add heavy cream. Tonight I tried a new variation with the hope that it would cut down some on the fat – I used nonfat greek yogurt instead of the cream. Aesthetically it was a letdown; the yogurt separated so there was no creamy sauce, and I don’t think it tasted as good as usual, but Alvaro loved it, so there you go! I usually like to serve it over squash puree or spaghetti squash, but we had egg noodles in the pantry so I used those. I’d say it was a partial success tonight.

Jersey Knit Necklace

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Feb 232012

Tonight I made this necklace/scarf hybrid out of braided jersey knit.

I came up with this project at the spur of the moment – I was free associating ideas, thinking about braiding, crocheting, knotting, and combining one of those techniques with the materials I had on hand in the house. I remembered I still had some leftover jersey knit fabric from this earlier project and my idea began to take shape. I cut long strips of the fabric and braided them into three separate braids, then cut another long strip in a thicker width and sliced narrower strips out of it with a rotary cutter (I kept the ends together to make it easier to manipulate). Those thin slices I tied randomly with scraps of fabric. Then I joined all the braids and strips into one necklace, stitched together at the back and wrapped with more fabric.

detail showing the wrap over the closure

Feb 222012

Every year my daughter’s preschool offers an opportunity to create and purchase “make it plates“; melamine plates with your child’s artwork on it. We did it last year with both kids and their plates have been such a hit – they use them every night for dinner. Its that time of the year again, and this time I thought I’d make a special birthday plate that the birthday child (or grown-up) could use on their special day.

I think it’ll turn out to be a fun tradition on birthdays!

Pantry Reorganization

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Feb 212012

Another rainy day . . . it seemed like a good day to re-organize the pantry closet. So, after a not-so-quick trip to Ikea for storage cannisters I got to it. Its finished up for now, although I could use a few more containers, and some labels. I dislike picking up, and I really dislike cleaning, but oh how I love organizing!

No pictures for now – the hallway light burned out and I don’t have a bulb on hand and the photos with flash turned out horrible (not that they were too awfully exciting to begin with)!

Beaded Crochet Necklace

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Feb 202012

I had the idea to use crochet and beading to make a casual necklace. I think the idea was a good one, but the execution tonight – not so much. Part of the problem was that the only crochet hooks I have were much too big for the thread weight I wanted to use, and part of the problem was using thread that was a little too fine.

I’m going to try this again – I did solve a few problems tonight, including how to add beads (add them to the thread before starting). I also thought of a lot of other crochet-type necklaces to try as I was working on this, so if nothing else it was a productive brainstorming session!

Note on an older post: I made Slow Cooker Coconut Curry Chicken again tonight, and made a few changes to the recipe: 1) I added chopped red onion (half of one onion) which deepened the flavor and added some more complexity to it, and 2) I left out the cup of water, which had made the previous version too soupy. Of course, leave the water in if you’d prefer a more watery curry.