March 3, 2017

Oops...Forgot To Post in February!

February was short and very, very busy. So busy, that I totally forgot to come on here and document some of the events in real time. I'll do a little recap of sorts to catch you all up. Weather wise it's been so wet here that we have experience a bit of flooding in our basement even! A first for this California girl. Luckily it wasn't too bad. One night it was so stormy and windy that it flipped our umbrella completely up and over our table out in the back yard. We should have taken the umbrella down for the season, so it's our fault. I think with all this wet weather we are in for a beautiful spring though, as evidenced above with some of the blooms that are starting to make their appearance in the yard. The plums are in full swing with the peach blooms following behind a bit. The blooms sure make for some really pretty views outside my windows these days.

After more than 16 weeks, Caitlin's wedding dress arrived the day before Valentine's day! We are storing it here, since the box is quite big and Caitlin and Cyrous don't really have the room for it. We haven't taken a look at the dress, because we are too chicken to take it out of the tissue. Maybe when the curiosity gets the better of us, we will open it all up. We are just happy that it is back!

Valentine's day this year was low key.  I cooked  dinner for my Valentine instead of going out. I made a "Venetian Duck Ragu," and baked a small six inch cake. I had so much fun making this cake. I used a recipe from a new baking cookbook from the UK. I weighed all the ingredients with this one, even though they gave cup measurements. I find that most European recipes are way more accurate when you weigh them, especially the UK ones. Weighing in baking is generally better anyway. Even though I carefully weighed everything, I ended up with a lot of batter! So much, that had I put the other layer on this, it would have toppled. I decided to freeze the other layer for later date. The frosting was my favorite Martha Stewart cream cheese frosting. The most fun was gathering the flower and berries to make a romantic Valentine color scheme. Even though the cake was six inches, we only managed to eat 3/4 of it over 4 days.   The duck recipe was from "Fine Cooking." I have it on my Pinterest food board, if you follow me on there. I found some beautiful duck legs at Berkeley Bowl, and I can't wait to try more recipes with duck, now that I know they are carrying it more regularly.

We had a wedding fashion show the first week of February at work. It was a lot of fun, and both Caitlin and I worked that day. She did all the makeup and I helped dress some of the models. The two girls pictured are such sweethearts, and so much fun to work with. We had terrible weather, so it was kind of a low turn out, but it still was fun. We had music, drinks, and treats as well.

 Lastly, I have been working on a mini collection for spring/summer for my Easy shop. Normally I make and item and then put it in the shop. This season, I'm doing more of a collection, and will put it all up at once in my shop.  I have some really pretty fabrics that I coordinated for this mini collection, so stay tuned. The two pieces above are the start of it, I also made some bloomers to go with the embroidered piece. Next up after I finish the pinafore, are some matching floral pieces. I can't wait to unveil all of it. there you have it, my February catch up. Oh, and on February 12th, my blog turned 9!!!

January 30, 2017

Before January Gets Away From Me

 It's been a very cold and rainy time here in Northern Cal, with flooding and very cold temps. Lots of sewing and baking have been going on in the house. One baking adventure is pictured above. I have wanted to make an epiphany cake ever since I moved back from France.  They sell these cakes the entire month of January, and while we were there we took full advantage of that! In the picture above, with the ingredients, there are four of the many "feves" that I collected. For those not familiar with this wonderful treat, it's a cake made to celebrate epiphany. They hide a "feve" somewhere in the filling, and then bake the cake off.  The person who gets the feve in their piece gets to wear the paper crown and is king. There was also some sort of game that they played, that involved going under the table, but I can't remember all the rules to this. The filling in between the puff pastry is called "frangipane." It's made with all the ingredients you see in the photo. I bought some puff pastry at Whole Foods that actually was from France. I really loved that it was already in a circular shape. The puff pastry from Du Four, that I usually buy, is rectangular. Since it was circular, there was no waste. I hadn't planned on making this cake, but when my dear husband put the groceries away, he didn't realize this was suppose to go into the freezer, and chucked it in the fridge instead. It thawed of course, so it had to be used right away. I had to think fast, because I was going to use it for something savory that I hadn't planned on making right away. It ended up being a yummy, happy accident and now I would love to try other fillings for it, like the ones I had in France. I used a David Lebovitz recipe for the filling, but you can find others that suit your taste.
Work at BHLDN has been slow until this past week. I have been only working at the most two times a week, but business is picking up and brides are making appointments again. Had lots of fun working with the lovely ladies this past weekend. We are also having a lot of girls come in for prom dresses. This past weekend,  we had one customer looking for a maid of honor dress that really made me sad. She was such a pretty girl and not at all over weight by any means. We didn't have any dresses that fit her figure. She broke down in tears and I felt that the appointment got away from me at that point. I wanted to give her a big fat hug and tell her how beautiful she was, and that it wasn't her fault and to love her body, but she shut down and didn't want to hear anything positive. Luckily her mom and sister were really sweet and tried to comfort her. I feel for her, as I have had some tears in dressing rooms myself.  Having now worked at BHLDN for a few months, I have heard so many women of all ages, bashing their bodies. Very sad I think. I try and tell them that event dresses are always sized differently than ready to wear, and that it is best to get a bigger size and have it tailored to fit.  So many women are hung up on the size on the tag! If they only knew the process of how garments are designed and produced, I think it would help.
On another note, going back into work this week has been helpful for me to get away from Facebook and CNN! After spending the day at work last Friday, I came home in a much happier mood than I have been these past couple of weeks. I'm not getting into a political discussion  on my blog so don't worry, I think everyone has had enough. It was just great to take a step away and live life and not think about world events.

I just want to know one thing. How have I been living without that wonderful new steam iron I got for christmas?!! HOLY SMOKES! I'm a big believer in pressing your work in every step of construction, and I feel like all these years I have been missing out in how incredible one of these irons work! I actually received two of these for Christmas hahaha. Caitlin and Cyrous also gave me one, so I returned one and then got a new ironing board to hold this new toy. I was able to press the little dress that I just made, with such ease. I loved how it smoothed out the fitted sleeves so perfectly. I also have had fun just doing plain ironing, because It cuts your ironing time by half.

I'll be listing the cute little pink dress with metallic gold birds on it  tomorrow when there is some nice sunlight in the house to photograph it.I love how this little pink dress turned out. The buttons I used are shell and are so pretty in real life. I had fun making it, but oh those fitted sleeves!! I think I finally have a good system down for them, but I always take a deep breath when I begin the stitching of them.  Making clothing and then trying to photograph them for Etsy, is quite a feat in the winter months. Hopefully the sun will cooperate tomorrow.   I'm trying to decide on my next project. Part of me wants to do a vintage piece with embroidery and another part of me wants to keep putting some basics in. Sometimes I know exactly what I want to make next, and other times I have so many ideas floating I can pin one down. It will come to me, but sometimes I get antsy and don't know where to begin.

I know I always promise to be on here more, but then miserably fail. Sorry for my handful of readers hahah, but I will at least always check in at least once a month, with hopes always to do more.

Happy belated 2017!

December 27, 2016

Christmas and End of the Year Reflections

This holiday season all went by in a blur. Working retail will do that during the holidays I suppose. It wasn't as nightmarish as I thought it would be at the store, since my section slowed down, I had more time off than I thought I would, but still very busy time of year and not a lot of time doing things I would normally do, like planing dinners and decor. Christmas morning started with a nice brunch before we opened up gifts.  Christmas dinner was an easy one with ham and the potatoes that I did for my dad for his birthday. I also made my favorite recipe for carrots, from Jamie Oliver. They are so easy and so good! I found some really pretty edible flowers and micro greens to add to my salad for a festive mood, but other than that, not too much creativity went into my dinner and decor this year. I was so tired on Christmas morning, I hardly took any pictures of us tearing into our gifts hahah.
I received some lovely gifts from the family, but the best gift of all was just spending the day with them.

It's slow at work right now, so I won't be working too many hours for a while. Not sure when it will pick back up. Until it does, I plan on taking full advantage of my time at home with some ideas that I have for the shop. Making myself work outside the home, has really helped me value my time off more and I think I'm ready to kick off 2017 more organized. I'm excited about this.

This year I decided to make stolen fruit bread. It was fun, and for the most part I liked how it turned out. I added the powdered sugar too soon though, and I think if I make it again, I'll cut back the amount of fruit. It got me in the mood  to make some more yeast breads like cinnamon rolls etc. I use to make bread all the time, especially in college. Since we moved to the Bay Area in 1988, I quit doing it since we have such great bread bakers in the area.
Speaking of baking, I got to spend a day in a friends professional  bakery helping out last week. This is the same baker that I have posted pictures of the croissants and other treats. When I walked into the shop it smelled so heavenly. He is trying to make the bakery as close as possible to one you would find in France. Word has already gotten out, and things have been selling out faster than he can bake more! I have a couple pictures on my IG when I was there if you want to check it out. I'm happy that he will still be selling at our farmer's market on Sundays, but also great that if you have a hankering for croissants in the middle of the week you can get them now.
End of the year always gets me a bit melancholy, how about you?   I love the holiday season and when it's over, I feel like a little kid that doesn't want to leave the party. The taking down of the tree is always a sad day, but once it is done, and things are swept and cleaned, I move forward with a hopeful heart that the coming year will be a good one. This year hasn't been super fantastic nor horrible, just meh..... Let's all hope for a fantastic 2017.
I'm going to look at January and the new year like Caitlin does. She told me last year when I was dreading the turning of the new year....."It's just the next month!" So onwards and upwards!!!

Hope everyone had a great Christmas and Happy 2017!!!