Monday, March 28, 2011

How-To: Ballerina Sweater

Finished product!
In continuing with the updating of my wardrobe for $0, I decided to make a quick alteration before heading out today. This sweater is a beautiful color and I love the pattern, but the length was super awkward. It was kind of regular length, but not as long as any of my shirts, making my somewhat long torso look stocky. Not cool, sweater.

1) Put on the sweater. Look in the mirror and note how much you want to crop.
2) Cut half an inch LESS than you want to trim off (allows for a seam). Err on the side of cutting too little off. You can always make it shorter if the sweater is still an awkward length.

3) Sew a very thin seam along the bottom edge using a ZIG ZAG stitch. This is important so the bottom hem doesn't get stretched out.

4) Try on the sweater. Chances are it's going to look a little funny... too loose around the bottom part. If it does, take in the sides and sew two darts in the back. Make sure to space them evenly:
 5) Trim threads, try on, and adjust anything that looks funny.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Quick Wardrobe Fixes

Not my closet. I wish!!!
I've had the urge to update my wardrobe this week. But my bank account does not have that same urge. So last night I did a multi-closet purge. Every closet, cabinet, wardrobe, shelf and drawer. I decided to pitch everything I don't feel GREAT in. Why would I keep clothing that makes me feel too old, too young, or unattractive? Why do I own it in the first place?

Eliminating clothing doesn't really update anything, does it? So here's what I did...

Exhibit A:
Sweater/shirt that screams "preschool teacher!"
  Snip, snip, whirrr. Off come the sleeves and hems go into the arm holes. Result:

Now I just need a nice button-down to wear under it.

Exhibit B: Flowy dress that is awkwardly stuck between here and the 70s.

Snip, snip, whirrr. Cut four inches off the oversized ruffle and hem. Welcome to 2011, sundress.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Sparkling Lemon Cocktail

My parents have an overachieving lemon tree. Despite it hovering around freezing most nights the past few weeks, this little lemon-tree-that-could has borne over 200 lemons. I kid you not. What the heck am I going to do with 200 lemons? After unloading as many as I could onto friends and coworkers, I had to acknowledge the lemon problem. Get ready, friends. Lemon recipes all over this blog.

It so happens that Cooking Light chose to do a spotlight on meyer lemons this month. Coincidence? I think not.

Taken from their March issue:
  • 1  cup  water
  • 1/3  cup  sugar
  • 1  rosemary sprig
  • 1  cup  fresh Meyer lemon juice, chilled
  • 1/3  cup  chilled vodka
  • 2  cups  chilled Prosecco or other sparkling wine, chilled
The rosemary sprig really is key! Such a wonderful addition to an already awesome cocktail. 

Friday, March 4, 2011

Maple Muffins

Sometimes my students get tired of our usual snack rotation. This spontaneous culinary adventure was a big hit with the little ones and the staff members who ate every leftover crumb.

Below I have cut down the sugar from the original recipe, which was so sweet it bordered on cupcakes. Delicious, but I'm hesitant to pump little ones full of sweets.
  • 2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • dash of nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup low-fat buttermilk (or substitute)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup packed golden brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1) Make your buttermilk substitute: one cup yogurt or milk (or almond milk) and one tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice. Let sit for 5 minutes. 

2) Line a muffin tin with muffin cups.

3) Combine flour, oats, spices, salt and baking powder in a large bowl.

4) Whisk buttermilk, applesauce, maple syrup, brown sugar, vegetable oil, egg and vanilla in medium bowl until well blended. 
5) Add to dry ingredients and stir just to incorporate (do not overmix).

6) Divide batter equally among muffin cups. 

7) Bake until muffins are a beautiful golden brown and tester inserted into center of muffins comes out clean, about 28 minutes.