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Tuesday, July 17, 2018

VINTAGE WINDOW

Ever since seeing some pictures of vintage windows used as home decor, I knew I wanted to try my hand at it.  As it turns out, the perfect opportunity arose when my daughter was interested in one for her new guest room.

I purchased my window from Uncle Benny's in Loveland, Colorado.  It's a great resource for old and new building supplies at very reasonable prices.  They charge $5 per pane for old windows.  I chose to purchase a single pane window and made my own panes; not necessarily for the cost savings, but I didn't see any windows in the size that I was looking for with four panes.
I really didn't do much to the window itself other than hose it down and clean it up just a bit.  I chose not to do any additional sanding since 1) I figured it was lead based paint, and 2) I truly thought it already had all the character it needed.

So, I went to my local big box hardware store and bought a four foot piece of ½" moulding and painted it brown, followed by a top coat of white.  I left sections of the brown showing through in places and scuffed it up in other places to give it that weathered look.

With a little help from my husband, the moulding was cut to the proper dimensions and I hot glued the (3) pieces to the window itself.   I have to say, I'm tickled with the way it looks; I think it's a fine imitation of a four paned window.

To add some additional character, I found a couple of antique brass hooks at Hobby Lobby and placed one on either side of the frame.   As you can see, we hung a straw fedora from one of the hooks, along with some silk hydrangeas (to match the color scheme of the room) and greenery and it's a cute little wall hanging which is displayed on the wall just as you enter the guest room.  So cute!

My husband thinks the window may be pushing 100 years old due to the way it's constructed..oh, if this window could talk!  Can you imagine the stories it could tell?

Saturday, July 14, 2018

COWL BACK BALLROOM DANCE GOWN

This is the second dress I've made for my good friend Daneen.   I love this gown, it is so elegant and it looks fabulous on her (unfortunately, dopey me forgot to pick up the camera and get some pictures of her in it at the last fitting). 
This is the last picture I took.....before I added the panties, the back straps and the horsehair trim in the hem.  Once I put the "panties" into the dress, I can no longer get it on my dress form to take more pictures.
This is the beginning process...just after I finished the pattern work. In this case, Daneen only had so much of the black/white fabric and we were worried that we'd have enough.  But, I was able to puzzle piece the pattern pieces in a way, that the yardage she had was just enough!

As far as the pattern work was concerned, I used the skirt from the first gown I made her and just had to modify the bodice.  This gown is a jewel neckline with a deep scoop back and a beautiful cowl drape.   Whenever I work on one of these gowns, I have to keep in mind not just the design elements, but the technical aspects of the gown as well.  While we want it to look beautiful, we also need to ensure the logistical components.  For instance, the drape has to be tacked in places to keep it from flying too much and eliminating any possibility of her partner's hands getting caught up in it.

I drew some lines on the picture to the right so you could see where we placed the back straps.  Daneen has a beautiful sculpted back, so this open back design really showcases it perfectly. 

After I finish my work, Daneen adds all the bling to the gown.  It's quite a process gluing on all the rhinestones and beads, but it looks so gorgeous when it's finished...and is quite a sight on the dance floor!

I'll have to add a few more pictures to this post once it's beaded and ready for her fall competition.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

CRANBERRY ORANGE SCONES

This effort came from the need to use some craisins before they got really stale.  You see, I buy the industrial size bag at Costco and use them mainly on my salads, so by the time I get to the bottom third of the bag, they're getting a bit firm.

So being the scone lover that I am, I knew I could find a recipe for cranberry scones.....and this one turned out to be as yummy as I had hoped.
There are times when I need something sweet, but not too over the top and to me, a scone fits the bill.

INGREDIENTS:

3 cups Bisquick baking mix
½ cup orange marmalade
½ cup craisins
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. nutmeg
2 eggs
1 Tbsp. orange juice

Sugar Coating:
¼ cups sugar
1 egg beaten

*optional drizzle

DIRECTIONS: 

Combine Bisquick, marmalade, cranberries, spices, 2 eggs and juice until moist.  

Turn dough onto a floured board, sprinkled with flour.

Roll into a 9-inch circle.  Cut into 8 wedges using a floured knife.  Place on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Beat the third egg in a small bowl and brush on the scones.  Sprinkle with sugar.

Bake at 400 degrees for 12-14 minutes.  Allow to cool.  I chose to make a powdered sugar drizzle using OJ as my liquid. 

NOTES:  Next time, I'm not going to make my circle as large, since I want my scones to be a bit taller.   I also recently read another recipe that said to slice into wedges, but not separate.  I'm thinking that will also make them a bit plumper.   Finally, I want to pick up some decorator sugar crystals so the sugar coating looks and tastes even better!

I put the leftovers in a freezer bag, and re-heat as the mood hits me.  

Enjoy!

recipe c/o:  www.onceamonthmeals.com 

Monday, June 11, 2018

RE-STYLED WEDDING GOWN

I've taken on this type of project once before....and I have to say, next to creating my own designs, re-styling an existing gown into a "new creation" may be my new runner up.  Don't get me wrong, I have my share of angst about ripping apart, cutting, removing, taking in, letting out what was Mom's bridal gown, but when it's all said and done and the bride is tickled with the result, it's all worth it! 

It really tugs on my heart when a bride wants to incorporate a special keepsake into her wedding day, be it something of a special Aunt, Grandma or Mom.  I've worked with heirloom veils, and garters many times, but when it turns out she hopes to be able to wear Mom's gown on her big day, well that's extra special!

So below is my most recent project.  Let's start with a picture of Mom's circa 1980's satin gown, with the large Princess Diana sleeves, dropped waist, and elaborate beading.
Our first step was deciding what the bride wanted to keep and what she wanted to update.  As you can imagine, the sleeves had to go, she also wanted a much shorter train since her wedding is taking place on a beach, and she had an idea already for the back bodice. 

Step One-the Train.....this was an easy starting point.  To convert the gown to a "sweep" train, you'll see in the picture to the left I eliminated everything below the line I drew.  There was an obvious point to make the cut just above the large bow.  I then had to remove the lace from the hem and re-stitch it to the new hem.  I took one of the bows from the sleeves and we added that about at the center back, about 3/4 of the way down.  If you look closely at the large picture above you'll see a large number of lace appliques all over the train.  I ended up removing most of those and used them to create the new bodice.

Step Two-Front and Back Bodice....Kat knew she wanted an open back with a beaded applique' as the focal point.  She was able to share some pictures of what she was hoping for and I went to work trying to find something online that I could incorporate.  As for the front of the bodice, she was looking for input because she really didn't know what to do.  After giving it some thought, I presented her with an idea for a halter neck bodice.  I felt it would blend well with the "racer back" look for the back of the gown. 

Step Three-the Skirt....the dress fit really well.  I only had to take the bust in along the side seams just a smidge, but the waist and length were perfect!  Kat liked the vintage feel of the dropped waistline, so we kept that, and she shared that she liked having some of the original beading and sequins as well.

So.....with that in mind I went to work......I used an organza as my base fabric for the halter neckline and added the appliques' from the train to create a light and airy bodice.  I literally cut apart the appliques' and pieced them into a new pattern.  I added some pearls and sequins that I removed from the original gown where the beading was really heavy which allowed the "old" and the "new" to blend together.

On either side of the neck you can see some beading, this is from the applique' which was used for the back.

The applique' for the back I cut into the shape I needed to make it narrower at the shoulder blades.  I chose to create a little "keyhole" at the center back and built the shape I needed for the "wraparound" pieces at the neckline.  Before sewing it onto the gown, I had to lower the the back bodice which also meant removing the zipper and re-setting it once I had the right line.  Since the original gown's embellishments were mostly pearls, I incorporated some that I had removed into the racer back motif.     

In case you're wondering how much time this took me....it was 18.25 hours.  I have to say, I love the transformation on this gown.  It truly illustrates how you can transform a gown into an updated version of the original, and what a wonderfully sentimental way for the second generation of bride to honor the first generation! 

Here are just a couple more side-by-side pictures for you......

Monday, June 4, 2018

RE-PURPOSED PILLOWS

To me, one of the easiest ways to change up your decor is through pillows....either adding pillows or re-purposing some you already have when changing up your color scheme.  Re-purposing is what I just did for my daughter for her new house.   This green set is going in her new guest room!
She originally had this three pillow set in a brown and tan which were part of a comforter set that she had purchased.  Her new guest room is far from brown/tan.  It's a beautiful light and airy white, peach and green room!

I found this pretty green ultrasuede fabric in the clearance aisle at Joann fabric.  With just a yard, I was able to put together these three as replacements.

I really didn't have any designs in mind, I just knew I wanted something other than rectangles and squares.


So after I cut out the base pattern, I started playing with the remnants for the fronts of the rectangular pillows.  I truly was just "winging" it as I went along.  I made one with a tuck front, the other with a gathered panel.

As I wandered through the fabric store I had the idea for a button front for one of them.  I was thrilled to hit a BOGO on buttons, so I used it for the largest pillow.

I was able to recycle the polyfill from the original set, so all three cost just under $20!

I also re-purposed a large set of four pillows for the sectional.  The sectional is a dark grey and the original pillows were black and grey.  She is introducing navy as her accent color, so we went with fabrics that brought blues into the room.   I wish I took pictures of those as well, but I didn't.   I made two large navy pillows and two made of this cute "travel" print.  Since this set will be getting a lot of use, I chose to add invisible zippers so the pillow cases can be removed and  laundered from time-to-time.       It's always fun to work on home projects...especially when they're for someone you love!                                       

Thursday, May 31, 2018

ROASTED SWEET POTATO SOUP

Soup for me, is one of those meals that works any time of the year.  I agree it's especially wonderful in the winter months, but I also have my share of soups at other times of the year as well.  

This particular soup caught my attention since it seemed so different than the "typical" soup varieties.  The house smelled wonderful while the sweet potatoes were roasting!
It came together really quickly, and it tasted yummy!  The white swirl on the top is sour cream, but you could substitute yogurt if you prefer.

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1½ inch cubes
2 large shallots, peeled and cut in half lengthwise
2 Tbsp. olive oil
½ tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. ground thyme
¼ tsp. ground cumin
3 cups chicken stock
1/8 tsp. black pepper
2 Tbsp. sour cream or plan yogurt

DIRECTIONS:

Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees.  Place sweet potato cubes and shallots in a large storage bag.  Drizzle with oil.  Sprinkle with salt, thyme, and cumin.  Seal bag and toss so all pieces are well coated with olive oil and seasonings.

Spread the mixture on a foil or silicone lined baking sheet.  Roast for 25 minutes or until cooked through and nicely carmelized and browned around the edges.  Remove from oven.

While the sweet potatoes are roasting, heat chicken stock in a saucepan on the stovetop until steamy.

Place the cooked sweet potatoes and shallots in a blender and add the hot chicken stock.  Puree until smooth.  NOTE:  when blending hot liquids, fill the blender bowl no more than a third full, and start with short pulses.  This may mean you need to work in batches.  Or use an immersion blender.

Taste for seasoning, adding more salt and pepper to taste.  Serve in bowls with a dollop of sour cream garnish.

Enjoy!

recipe c/o:  www.simplyrecipes.com

Friday, May 11, 2018

OFF-THE-SHOULDER LONG SLEEVE WEDDING GOWN

It's always an extra special project for me when I'm making a wedding gown for a family member.  In this case, it was my nephew's bride.  She wanted a long sleeve off-the-shoulder gown.   The bodice was made of lace and the form fitted skirt was a net overlay with a crepe underlay; the drape of the skirt was absolutely beautiful.
There were actually many unique design elements in addition to the off-the-shoulder design.  The back of the gown had a large keyhole opening.  The perimeter of the gown had a large lace border, the sleeves secured with covered buttons and the skirt itself had a number of appliques handstitched on to the netting. 

I first began the project back in September of 2017 (for an April 29th wedding date), once we finalized the design and I took her measurements I was off to the races finding all of the fabrics and trims I would need.  Some I found locally, others I found online. 

Because of the off-the-shoulder design and the keyhole back, fitting the bodice was the biggest challenge.   But with a few extra fittings, and some extra effort, (one of which was adding a silicone strip to the top of the bodice to keep it from slipping; the same strip you find on a strapless bra) it ended up fitting really well!                                   
I like to spend time on the bustle of my gowns.  Since so much of the day, the gown is spent in the "bustled" position,  I try to make it extra special.  Because of the shape of Aisha's train (long and narrow), I was able to come up with a really lovely bustle design that looked so pretty during the dances!

I also made Aisha's birdcage veil and garter.  I made the veil so the "blusher" could be tucked behind the flower (after the ceremony) allowing her to wear it the entire evening.

On her garter, I used feathers, to match those in her veil and added a touch of "someting blue" with some beading. 

The wedding palette of the day was various shades of purple; the bouquets and centerpieces were so pretty, and the bridesmaids chose their own style of gowns.  In April, the unpredictable Colorado weather was the only potential concern, but as luck would have it, the wedding day was a dry and balmy 80 degrees! 

What an honor it was to be a part of this special day for my nephew and his bride.  I wish you both a lifetime of happiness!