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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!

Monday, April 30, 2018

BISQUICK COFFEE CAKE MUFFINS

I made these muffins this past weekend and they received a "thumbs up" from the entire family.  You'll be drooling over the aroma while they're cooking and I promise they won't dissapoint when they finally cool off enough to enjoy one!
They come together really quickly since the foundation is Bisquick mix.  The streusel topping is heavenly and the extra drizzle of frosting is perfect.

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups original bisquick mix
1/3 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup milk
3 Tbsp. melted butter
1 egg

Streusel
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup bisquick mix
4 Tbsp. softened butter
1 Tbsp. cinnamon

Icing
½ cup powdered sugar
1 ½ Tbsp. milk
½ tsp. vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS:

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a 12 cup muffin tin with parchment liners.   In a medium size bowl, stir together all of the muffin ingredients.  In a separate bowl, crumble together the streusel ingredients. 

*Add 1 Tbsp. of muffin mix to the bottom of each liner, followed by 1 Tbsp. of streusel. Top cups with the remaining batter, followed by the remaining streusel.   Bake 18-20 minutes until the top is set.  

Remove from oven and make the icing.  Drizzle over  the top of the warm muffins.

Enjoy!

*It is important to only use 1 Tbsp. of batter on the bottom of the cup, otherwise you won't have enough batter for the second layer. 


recipe c/o:  www.tablespoon.com 

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

IRELAND ADVENTURE

My daughter and I just returned from a wonderful trip to Ireland, so I'm taking this opportunity to share some pictures, insights, and impressions from our adventure.  When I put together a trip for the two of us, I do A LOT of research.  Some of what I use is from travel bloggers......so I thought I would share in the event anyone might benefit from our experience. 
We flew into Dublin, but instead of starting our trip there I chose to pick-up a rental car and drive approximately 2 hours to Kilkenny.  I'm happy to report the rental experience went well!  I had my concerns about driving on the opposite side of the road, but I had an awesome navigator in my daughter.  I will tell you that I thought I was going to be able to manage the trip with the National Geographic map that I had purchased, especially since the GPS could not be reserved in advance....but there's no way!  Thank Goodness for google maps....my daughter saved us with that on a number of occasions!    Try as much as you can to use M or N roads, but know that you will find yourself on the R roads, which are generally very narrow, filled with sharp turns and at times downright frightening.                                                                                         

Without a doubt, Kilkenny was my favorite city! It's very quaint and loaded with history galore.  After our 1.5 day visit, we were on our way to Cork.   Along the way I traveled through Tipperary to see the Rock of Cashel and Cahir castle....both worth the stops.  In addition to seeing Cork, I also planned a day trip to Cobh.  Loved Cobh.  Lots of history with the Titanic experience (the last 123 passengers boarded in Cobh) and the Heritage Center which is all about Irish immigration to the states; Irish immigrant Annie Moore was the first person to pass through Ellis Island.   We also visited Blarney Castle that day.  I totally enjoyed that day, not just the castle, but the grounds were absolutely amazing.  
Frankly, Cork (other than a wonderful hotel that I booked) didn't trip my trigger.  Larger city centre, and certainly not as much character as the other cities we visited. 

From Cork, we had our longest driving day to the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren (approximately 3 hours).  So much beauty to see.  I had also booked a midieval banquet for that night at a castle (Bunratty).  It was fun! We had a 4 course meal, and the staff was dressed in costume; lots of singing and entertainment.  
We stayed at a lovely B&B lodge (Wild Atlantic Lodge) in Ballyvaughn and explored the burren the next morning on our way to Clifden.  I planned a visit along the way to Galway....that was a fun little city.  Spent the day there exploring their historic city centre and enjoyed a great charcuterie board with wine at The Cheesemongers (highly recommend) in town. 
We stayed two nights at the Ballynahinch Castle in Clifden.  It was a lovely stay, the facility is beautiful.  Library, sitting rooms, fireplaces to enjoy.  One of our day trips was to the Kylemore Abbey (a must see) and the other day we went out to the Ashford Castle for tea!  Great day.  The tea was impressive to say the least and the Castle was beyond impressive.                                                        
To break up our final leg of the trip a bit, I opted to not drive all the way back to Dublin from Clifden, instead I overnighted at the same hotel in Kilkenny....we took a different route so that we could see some additional sights and went to Offay and saw the ruins of the Clonmacnoise Monastery.  It was amazing and totally worth the revised route to see it.  

While I much prefer the smaller towns, we HAD to see Dublin.  I strategically chose to drop the car off, there's no reason for it in Dublin, and you'd go crazy trying to get around in it, there's just so much vehicle and pedestrian traffic.  I took the bus into the city, which was reasonably convenient.  I would suggest the Hop On/Hop Off bus to get your bearings and truly take in the city from one corner to the other....without the bus, you'd be hard pressed to do this.   I bought a 24 hour pass and it worked great.  We headed out the first day mid-afternoon which gave us until that time the following day.  Consult the "must see" sights about times/tours, etc.  We really had to revise our thinking to take it all in in the amount of time we had there.                                                                                                                                                        Some additional thoughts....take advantage of the breakfasts that most hotels offer (some for an additional $10 when booking online).  We started our day with a full breakfast which would last us until late in the day.  In some cases we could go all the way until the "early bird" dinner offerings from 5p-7p at discounted prices.
....which is another way to save costs.  Some of my favorite dinners were soup and an appetizer, or a charcuterie board.  We obviously had to try the fish and chips which were awesome and I couldn't go home without tasting some Irish stew, which was also delicious!  Hope this inspires, or helps in some way if you're thinking of traveling to the Emerald Isle.   Since we didn't take in Northern Ireland this trip, I'm thinking I'll have to combine that with a trip to Scotland in the future.   

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

UPCYCLED VASE

This wasn't a terribly complicated project, but I really like the way that a new coat of paint totally changed the entire look of this vase.  I had been wanting to do something for a long time and finally found the time to get it done!
BEFORE

AFTER
I had put the clear vase together best I can figure, about 6-8 years ago.  You can see at the bottom of the vase the acrylic water solution (found at your local Michael's or Hobby Lobby) that is designed to make it look like the arrangement could actually be real, since the stems were submerged in water.   What I didn't realize was how dust collects (despite your best housecleaning efforts) on the acrylic and you just can't remove it.  So much for looking real!
 
So, I decided since I still like the arrangement, I would just re-paint the vase and update it a bit.   I covered the stems with a kitchen bag and went to town in the garage.  Have I told you how much I love Frog Tape?  It is awesome....totally held the line for me when moving between the stone and gold paints. 

Love how this turned out!  Guess I can keep it awhile longer and not have to cover my eyes when I walk past it!