Monday, April 16, 2018

Monday Morning Inspiration/Not Your Grandmother's Lace...Once Again

It's snowing!!! And I don't think there is one soul in Chicago who is happy about it :/ My husband showed me a picture from his sister's farm in upper Wisconsin where the horses were running in knee deep snow. We basically have a covering, so nothing to complain about, other than the poor souls who have to get out and drive in it. As for me, I have a busy day ahead with lots to do, indoors, so I get to just enjoy the beauty. 

To add to the morning's beauty, a cardinal has been singing just outside my window since about 6 this morning. I love to hear them sing, and when I do, I feel that all will be fine. To see a little creature that is so vibrant, and so beautiful, singing his little head off, what a gift :)  

Regardless of what your hobby may be, you end up with bits and pieces that you feel are just too good to throw away. Sometimes we find a home, and then sometimes we just hold on to them waiting for something to inspire us. I came across some fun ideas on Pinterest for lace.

If you have a small piece of the border left, do an asymmetrical cut on a knit top and pair it with 1 lace sleeve. So pretty.

I loved the addition of the lace trim on both of these dresses. Each dress would be pretty on its own, but the lace makes them eye catching, and the placement really narrows the waist.

Rather than just another boring pencil skirt, take lace pieces and applique them on top. 

This is a lovely idea for a piece of lace that's just not quite large enough. Just pair it with a coordinating piece of fabric.

This is much more than a remnant, but I thought it was just so pretty. The lace is actually an entire skirt under the overlay.

This piece could have been executed better as you can see the navy blue lace seams through the pink and white lace, but what a great idea for combining 3 small pieces of lace to create a lovely skirt.  

This little color blocked dress is a great use of fabric scraps. Adding the lace to the center block really makes it pop.

Another pencil skirt idea. What a lovely way to accent a slit opening. 

If by chance you have a bunch of lace that can be cut into motifs, this would be a great idea for giving an old skirt new life.

And finally, add a little flirt factor to the inside of a pleat. All it takes is just a few inches of lace.

For those of you who are basking in warm, balmy temperatures, well, lucky you! As for the rest of us, I hope you can find a little beauty in your day :)

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Sunday, April 15, 2018

Sunday Night Reflections

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Sunday's Soup/Flu Buster Mushroom and Spinach Soup

The flu was a real worry for so many this past winter. My husband had a flu shot, but I did not. I decided to do what I could on my own to try and make sure that I stayed healthy. One measure I took was to drink a glass of green foods first thing every morning. Actually, I do this year round. It is not my favorite thing to drink, by no means, but as I drink it down, I keep in mind that I am doing something good for myself, at least I hope so. The green foods pictured below is one that I ordered. It's not my favorite as it has stevia in it and so it has a sweet taste. There's one that I purchase at Whole Foods that does not include stevia and I like it better. For many though, one with stevia would be much more palatable. 

I also take a probiotic capsule every morning and every night. And then...I made this soup, lots of it, and ate it throughout the winter. Now, the soup is MUCH more enjoyable than drinking that green drink. But, I would grow tired of eating the soup every morning ;) 

Early in the winter, my husband and I were out for lunch and I saw that there was a mushroom soup on the menu. I love mushroom soup! Well, it wasn't the best, but it made me think of what I would do to make it really good. One that if I owned a restaurant would be something people would want to come back for. 

I began with lots of mushrooms, 6 cups, along with a large onion and 3 cloves of garlic. All sauteed until the mushrooms were tender.     

I then added  1/2 cup of barley, 1/2 cup of wild rice, and 4 cups of vegetable broth. 

Brought it all to a boil, reduced the heat, and then let it simmer for about 45 minutes until the rice was cooked through.

I then added 3 sliced carrots, and 8 cups of chopped spinach, along with at least 2 more cups of vegetable broth, and the spices. The soup was once again brought to a boil, the heat reduced to a simmer and allowed to cook until the carrots were tender. 

The result was a very satisfying and delicious soup.

Flu Buster Mushroom and Spinach Soup
printable version

1 large onion chopped
6 cups sliced mushrooms
3 cloves garlic chopped fine
1/2 cup barley
1/2 cup wild rice
3 carrots sliced
8 cups chopped spinach
6-8 cups vegetable broth
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano 
salt and black pepper to taste

Pour olive oil into a large soup pot. Add chopped onions and sliced mushrooms. Saute until mushrooms are tender. Add chopped garlic and saute for another minute. 
Add barley, wild rice and 4 cups of vegetable broth to the pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until wild rice is tender, approximately 45 minutes.
Add chopped spinach and sliced carrots to the pot. Add enough broth to gain the consistency of soup you would like, 2 to 3 cups should be fine. Add dried thyme and oregano. Once again bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and allow to cook until carrots are tender, no more than 20 minutes.
Serve and enjoy! 

I was in a grocery store doing a little shopping one Saturday afternoon. A company was there promoting their products and one was a green pressed juice of some sort. I took a sample and a man came up from behind me and said, "oh, that can't possibly taste good." Actually, it wasn't bad, but I understand how he felt. Believe it or not, there was a time in my life where I found every possible way I could think of to get out of eating my vegetables. Miracles happen :)

Wishing you great health! :)


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Wednesday, April 11, 2018

The Wednesday Showcase

Last Saturday, my husband picked me up from the Haute Couture meeting and said, "oh, by the way, Gracie got into something and she really smells." I responded, "and you just left her to run all over the house with that horrible smell and deposit it on everything she touches?!!" He replied, "well, I didn't know what to do." I then asked, "what do you do when you smell?" He said, "I take a bath." Oh, the lovely conversations of a married couple ;) When I walked in the door, I immediately changed my clothes, got the dog, and off we went to the downstairs shower for the next 1 1/2 hours. I got rid of whatever she had rolled in, but OMG!!!, the hair! So today she is off for a formal bath that will rid her of all the excess hair that she has accumulated over the winter. A task that I gladly pay for :)

There are times in our lives that are similar to the months of winter, rather dark, bleak, and at least on the surface, lifeless. As difficult as it can be to go through such a period, I think they are important times of growth. While trees seem dormant during the winter months, they are really just strengthening themselves for the vibrant beauty that will come in the spring. 

This past winter was a time that I needed to be quiet, maybe shed some old bark that I had held on to for far too long, and find the strength I needed to once again bloom. So many of you sent such lovely notes, gently asking if I was okay. While I didn't answer all of your notes(and I apologize for that), they were read and greatly appreciated. 

With the longer days, the trees beginning to bud, the crocuses beginning to bloom, I too feel as though spring is bursting forth in my own life. I feel revived, and ready to take on my next challenge, one which I will share soon. 

One note that I received was from Kathleen Grissom. She does not have a blog, but she is a New York Times best selling author. Wow, now that is an amazing accomplishment! She felt compelled to write because of THIS post. I'll share a piece of her note;

"I am a woman of seventy years. I have many friends, along with myself, who have suffered tremendous pain and I would guess that the cause would be similar to what you have endured. Yes, you are rising from the ashes, but your wings will be stronger than before because they will no longer be restrained from carrying a burden that was never yours to carry." 

Me, being the curious person that I am, decided to check out her website. Oh my, was I ever inspired, and I thought you might be as well :)

Her first book The Kitchen House, is "a tragic story of page-turning suspense, exploring the meaning of family, where love and loyalty prevail."

In the video below, Kathleen talks about how she became inspired to write the book. 

Her second book, Glory Over Everything, loosely tied to her first book, continues the story of Jamie Pyke. "A saga of slavery as textured as it is tense," The Columbus Dispatch.   

I love how Kathleen speaks of her writing, and her inspiration. 

She is currently working on her third novel, which I am especially interested in, due to my American Indian heritage. It's the true story of Mary Crow, a native American who wore a Colt revolver on her studded belt and was not afraid to use it! 

I have not read either of Kathleen's books, but I have ordered the audio version of both, and I am very anxious for them to arrive. You can find her website HERE. I hope you'll pop over and get to know her. I have no idea of whether she sews or not. Kathleen, if by chance you do read this post, let us know!!!

I'll leave you today with the quote that Kathleen read from Harriet Tubman. While most of us will never know what it was like to be a slave, most all of us have been through things in our lives which have enslaved us, maybe for quite some time, and maybe for only a short period. Sometimes it can seem overwhelming to let go of whatever it is that has had a hold on us. What I especially love about this quote is the joy, and the promise that the effort it takes to take that chance, to let go, to move forward, is well worth it.  

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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Tuesday Tart/An Easy Rustic Apple Tart

A few months ago, I was in for my usual eye checkup. Long story short, I was told that I have a cataract in my left eye, not one that is growing, but one that needs to be removed. Shocked, and I don't know why. Between the moles on my retina and the threat of cancer in my eyes, nothing should shock me at this point. But, it did. I looked at the doctor in disbelief and said, rather, exclaimed, "But I'm too too young to have cataracts!" The doctor is a lovely, gentle man. He smiled a caring smile and said that while typically that's true, even children can get cataracts, although it's rare, and the situation I have is also quite rare. My right eye is absolutely fine, in fact very close to perfect vision. 

Yesterday, I saw the surgeon who will remove the cataract. She did find the formation of another mole, a third one, on my right retina. She said that there was no sign of malignancy whatsoever, but I was disappointed to hear that yet another is forming. 

A few days ago, my husband and I were driving back to Chicago, actually, I was driving. I looked down and saw that the engine light was flashing. We stopped, got out the manual, checked the oil, and did all the other things the manual suggested. Turned the car back on and the light was still flashing. The manual said to drive at no more than 31 miles per hour and get to the nearest dealer. Thank God for cell phones!!! I found a dealer in Moline, IL that was only a few miles away. As we drove, I told my husband, knowing that he was quite upset, "this is not the end of the world, it's a car, no one is dying." As it turned out, it was an issue that Honda knows about. The mechanic changed a spark plug, wrote up what was wrong, and told us that we would easily make it to Chicago and have time to get the vehicle to our dealer. The work the mechanic did was under warranty, so no charge, and the work that needs to be done will be covered as it's a recall situation with Honda. I have never had such a positive, pleasant experience at a dealership. I told my husband that we will purchase our next vehicle from Zimmerman Honda in Moline, IL! 

As my husband drove me home from my doctor's appointment yesterday, I thought about the car situation, and how well it turned out. I thought about my angst over my eyes, and then I whispered my words back to myself, "this is not the end of the world, no one is dying," and I added, "even if I do lose my eyesight, all will be fine." 

I recently found this below. A beautiful reminder to just let go and live as fully as we possibly can.  

I love dessert! Hey, who doesn't?!!! While a complicated dessert can be fun to make from time to time, I find that especially when I have a dinner party, a complicated dessert is just too much after a meal. And too, making a complicated dessert on top of all the other things you have to do when preparing for guests, well, it can be a little overwhelming.

This simple dessert is nothing more than a little puffed pastry, apples, cinnamon, sugar, and butter. What's not to like, right?!! And then the smell of it baking, just the best!  

Depending upon how many you will be serving, take a full sheet of puffed pastry, or a half, and roll it out on a floured surface.

Remove the skin from the apples and slice. Arrange in the center of the pastry sheet. Sprinkle with mixed cinnamon and sugar. The amount will be up to you. I don't like a lot of sugar as I find the apples to be fairly sweet on their own. If you would like, you can add raisins, and or walnuts to the top of your apples. 

Slice butter and arrange on top of apples.

Fold the edges of the puffed pastry dough over the apple mixture. Place on a baking sheet covered with baking paper. Bake in a preheated oven at 425 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the dough has browned and the apples are oozing a bit of juice.

Allow to cool a bit before serving. 
Slice and serve with a cream topping. Your guests will LOVE it! And it's just the right amount of sweet after a meal.

When I was learning to fly, and just about to be signed off to begin my solo work, my instructor gave me some wonderful advice, "If you ever have a question about whether or not you should take a flight, be it weather issues, mechanical issues, or your own physical state, ask yourself, how important will this flight be to you in 5 years. I can assure you, it will never be worth your life."  

So often, I know that I can get so upset about things that really don't matter. I've learned, or rather, I am learning to take a breath, give myself a moment to think, and I will usually realize that whatever it is that I am so worked up over, it really doesn't matter to the degree that I am allowing it to upset me.    

Take a breath :)

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Monday, April 9, 2018

Monday Morning Inspiration/Fashion Illustration-Drawn To Glamour

Good Morning from a snowy Chicago. Yes, snowy, but there is hope in the air as the weather is predicted to change and spring temperatures should warm our bones by the end of the week. I am always so fascinated with how people dress this time of year. Back in October when the temperatures initially began to fall, people were bundled as though it was the frozen tundra. Now that we have survived winter, those who were so bundled at 40 and 50 degrees will be wearing shorts and celebrating the onset of spring. Just goes to show, it's all relative ;)

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to be in Denver and see the opening of the new exhibit at the Denver Art Museum, Drawn To Glamour. What a treat that was!!! 

The exhibit presents the work of award-winning fashion illustrator Jim Howard. His life began in a small, dusty town in west Texas. He began drawing at the age of 8, and ultimately graduated from the University of Texas with a degree in Fine Arts. A mother who sewed was his original inspiration. His career began in Austin, Texas at a department store called Goodfriends. There he dressed windows and from time time was allowed to illustrate promotional material. He was discovered by Neiman Marcus, spent a number of years in Dallas before he went on to New York. Be sure to take a few minutes and watch the video below. I think you will be drawn into Mr. Howard's unassuming personality, and the love he has for fashion.

While visiting the exhibit, I took pictures of every piece in the exhibit. His work is not only beautiful, but a fabulous lesson in drawing. 



He loved to draw fashion in such a manner so that the consumer could see themselves in their everyday lives. 

I especially enjoyed the pieces that he did in color. 


There are examples of how to draw everything,




Ruffles and shirring

Bows and gathered tiers


I also enjoyed the pieces he did of Pauline Trigere, Isabella Rossellini, and  Rosita Missoni.

Like the big department stores, fashion illustration is sadly going the way of the dinosaur. But, Mr. Howard has found a new niche and that is with paper dolls. The paper doll books are delightful for children of any age ;)

His paper doll books can be found HERE. Or if you visit the Denver Art Museum, they can be purchased there as well.

Sometimes I feel a little like a dinosaur, especially when people find out that I sew and look at me with a question that is written all over there face, "WHY?!!!" All I can say is that I love to create, and I especially love to wear what I create. It's not about saving money, it's about loving an art form.

Have a wonderful week! Be sure to try and sew a little something, and take a few moments to enjoy the process of making a little art:)

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