Cooking for your best friend

Cooking for your family is easy–they are obligated to tell you it’s great. 

Cooking for your friends is tougher.  What if they don’t like it? You’ll start going out to eat instead of having fancy dinner parties that secretly suck.  But, there’s good news. There’s one friend who you can cook for and she’ll love it (and you) forever.  You can make the same dish over and over again, and she’ll scarf it down like there’s no tomorrow. 

Enter Yellow Dog. 

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She’s so photogenic.  And she’s eating our spent grain doggy treats!

Here’s what you’ll need:

4 c. spent grain

1 c. peanut butter

2 eggs

2 c. flour

This recipe was originally posted here.  I always do a double batch once the Hub-dubs is done brewing. 

First, get out a big bowl and measure out your grain.  Accuracy is not the most important thing in the world here. 

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Then you need to get to mixing.  I’ve found it’s best to really get in there nice and deep-like and smash it all around with your hands.  It’s awfully messy, but it’s effective!

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Once it’s all mixed, pat into one or two cookie sheets.  You want your treats thick, but not so thick they never dry out.  Once it’s all patted down, take a butter knife and cut the treats in the shape you want them. 

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Put the pan in the oven at 350 for about 30 minutes or so.  Again, accuracy is sooooo not important here.  After the first go-round in the oven, they should look something like this:

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…Except not as blurry.  Turn down your oven to 200.  Loosen the treats from the pan and spread them all out–you could even use an extra pan to spread them all out.  Put them back in the oven until they’re all dried out, about 4 hours. 

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As you can see, Yellow Dog just looooves her little treats.  And your furry friend will too!

Sewing Success 101

Are you learning how to sew but are just a little bit terrified of your first clothing project? Have no fear! Follow these few tips and you should be a bit more confident to take on your first project!

First: Pre-wash and iron your fabric.  I know, it’s annoying,  but you want to do this because it will soften up your fabric, and help you avoid making a garment that ends up being too small. 

After that (or while your fabric is being washed), iron out your pattern.  Low heat, no steam. 

Why?

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Now there’s a hot mess.  How do you think your pattern will be accurate cutting from that? Yuck. 

Here’s another tricky part about your pattern (well, tricky for me anyway): I never really know what size to cut.  I made a pair of pants and cut the size according to the measurements on the back of the envelope. Wayyyyy too big.  So I open up the pattern and see what the finished measurements are and cut the size closest to that.  I’m not sure if that’s right, but that’s how I do it, and it’s worked for me so far. 

Now note that the little creases will never come out completely, but it will be much better.  When you get ready to cut, pay attention to the notches on almost every piece of your pattern.  Those are used to match multiple pieces.  When I took my first-ever sewing class in ninth grade, my teacher told me to cut triangles out from those notches instead of in, as the pattern suggests.  Why? This helps you notice where they’re at, and helps avoid cutting too close to the seam line accidentally. 

Once your fabric is washed and dried, iron that too.  Then lay it out on an open area:

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My only space large enough for this project isn’t really big enough.  But it works.  And Yellow Dog loves it. 

So you’re all ironed out and your pattern pieces are cut to size, and you’re ready to cut your pattern pieces.  Yikes!

See how that fabric is all nice and flat? That’s how yours should look.  Then you will arranged your pieces according to the cutting layout in your instructions. 

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Don’t ignore these cute little arrows on your pattern pieces! They tell you how to lay out your pieces on the fabric to make sure it doesn’t go all wonky on you.  These lines should be parallel to the salvage edge, or the edge that doesn’t ravel.  Make sure they are traveling the right direction!

You can be stingy in every other area of your life, don’t be stingy with your pins.  Pin your pattern pieces down.  the more pins the better.  More pins help with greater accuracy. 

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Before you unpin your pattern pieces from the fabric, trace any marking lines on the wrong (ugly) side of the fabric.  If there’s not a wrong side, man up and pick one, then stick with it the whole time.  This is a photo of what you’ll need to trace.  I use the tracing wheel for lines, and the pencil for circles and dots and things.  But, as we’ve discussed before, you can be stingy, not buy the tracing wheel, and use the pencil the whole time…on your tracing paper of course!

Now you’re ready to sew!

Read and re-read the directions.  Say them out loud if they don’t quite make sense, that may help.  Or, get a piece of scrap fabric and practice. 

Baste.  Baste.  Baste. 

If you are not sure how something should look, baste first (long stitch, no back stitch).  If it looks good, then sew your seam line. 

Measure a lot, cut once. 

If you have to trim a seam line, clip a corner, or alter your fabric, make sure you are cutting in the right place!

Don’t lose your temper…or your patience. 

Stick with it! With enough patience, you can make anything.  My RA in college decided she was going to learn how to sew.  Her first project was her WEDDING DRESS.  And it turned out pretty awesome.  So there you go! Follow your pattern instructions and these few tips and you will have an awesome garment that is tailored to fit you!
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Make your own skinnies–tutorial

I was going to hold off on this post, but I couldn’t resist.  It’s too much fun.  Today I made my own skinnies! Super exciting stuff. 

 

Know what I’m a sucker for? Clearance sales.  My brain shuts down and I can’t think straight.  75% off? Well, that shirt has three arms, but for $5–heck, I’ll take it! Pants 8 sizes too big? Well, they look a bit silly, but they’re also $7.95.  What a dilemma. 

I may not be that bad, but pretty close.  However, I feel like I have a license to buy ridiculous things because I have a sewing machine AND I know how to use it.  Here’s how you can turn your ridiculous looking pants into stylish skinnies–you can do this with dress pants, certain types of jeans, anything.  Just make sure your pants have a bit of stretch and fit nicely around your hips/waist. 

First thing you do is get your pins out and put your pants on inside-out:

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This is an ill-fitting pant if ever I saw one.  Even inside out, it’s awful.  However, they were also $9.00 at Old Navy.  So I bought them.  You can see here there are pins on the left.  And the right is untouched.  What you want to do is pin one leg to the shape and width you want, up and down the outside and inside seams of the pant leg.  Because these are skinnies, you want them snug, but if it’s hard to shimmie out of them, then you may have pinned them a little tight.  Take your pants off, put new pants on (if you really want to), and take them to your sewing machine–things are about to get heavy. 

Some of you may be thinking, “But my sewing machine is not nice.  It’s not fancy, it’s not complicated, and it’s old.  What if I can’t do this?”

Let me introduce you to my sewing machine:

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See that logo? It’s a Kenmore. Does Kenmore even make sewing machines anymore? Don’t get me wrong, I love my sewing machine.  It’s awesome.  But, as you will notice, it’s very basic.  Everything I do is on this little beauty, and my serger.  Which is a Hobbylock manufactured sometime in the decade previous to my birth.  So don’t go getting sewing machine envy on me.  You’ll be fine. 

Back to the pants! Take your pants and Baste along the edges.  Trust me.  Save yourself a lot of tears and heartache and baste first.  Always baste first.  One note on the basting: begin sewing on the original seam line and very gradually sew to your first pin.  If your line from the original seam to your new seam is too sharp, you’ll get a weird bubble.  Don’t do that.  Avoid the bubble.  Then, turn those puppies right-side out again and try them back on.

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Please take a moment to enjoy the photo bomb by Yellow Dog.  Then, notice how different the legs look!

Take your pants-in-progress off again and then take them to a clear, flat surface–something like an ironing board, long table, etc.  Lay your pants flat and inside out.  what you are going to do next is this: lay your basted leg on the table and flatten it out.  fold the pants in half length-wise along the crotch seam. match up the bottom cuff of the pants.  Line up one edge seam at a time–the unsewn leg to the sewn leg.  There are no pictures of this process, I sort of made it up as I went along.  Also, don’t sweat this part.  It’s really easier than it sounds, and once you do it, you’ll see for yourself. 

So your legs are matched up and you’re ready to make the second leg look the same as the first leg.  Take a pin and stick it straight up through both legs.  This pin is going right through your first seam and its marking where your seam on the second leg will run.  While this won’t be an exact, to-the-32nd inch-thing, it will be close enough to count, and no one will be able to tell the difference.  Repeat this pinning process up and down your seams of the second leg.  Then baste, and try them on. 

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We’re getting closer! I took in a little more at the knees and did a little fine-tuning to get the fit I wanted. 

This is the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel! Turn your pants inside out again and stitch over your basting, making sure to back stitch and all that good stuff.  Then secure your side seams by either using your serger or trimming your extra fabric and running a zig-zag stitch along the edges.  You don’t want a whole lot of extra fabric, so trim to about a 5/8.” 

Next what you are going to do is determine the length of your pants.  I’m a shortie, so I took about 5″ off the bottoms of these.  Simply fold up the bottom hem to the point you want them sitting and fold up.  Measure this length and turn up the second leg to the same length.  Then trim your hem 1″ longer than you want your final length to be and either sew a turned-under hem or simply serge and then sew your bottom hem. 

That’s it! You’re done! Unless…

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You know those skinny pants with a bit of ruching on the bottom? Well, you can do that.  It’s easy.  1.  Determine how much ruching you want.  I went for 4.”  2.  Take some 1/4″ elastic and stretch it as far as it will go and then cut it at 6.”  If you want more or less ruching, it’d a bit of trial-and-error.  I’m not sure on the exact conversions, but I do know that 6″ stretched elastic=4″ cute detail at the bottom of your pants. 

Anywho, to sew your ruching: line up your elastic on the wrong side of the fabric on the side seam line.  Manually lower the needle to the elastic and sew a few stitches and then back stitch a few.  Then, pull on that elastic and stretch is as far as it will go.  This part gets a bit tricky because you are doing several things at once: pulling on the elastic, making sure it’s lining up with the seam (so your stitching is invisible), making sure other parts of the leg doesn’t get caught up in your stitching, and trying to sew straight.  Have patience, you’ll get it.  And if all else fails, keep your seam ripper handy.  Sew an elastic piece on each side seam at the bottom, and you’ll have this:

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Sorry for the blurry photos, did I mention the camera I’m using takes AA batteries? Please take another moment to enjoy yet another photo bomb by Yellow Dog (she was very needy today) and then see how supercute these bottoms are? Supercute.

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There.  Ill-fitting clearance pants to adorable outfit in a little over an hour.  That means you can make several pair in an afternoon.  See? 

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