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11  NEEDLEWORK / Needlework: Discussion and Questions / New to Embroidery - Need Guidance on: October 12, 2008 02:36:35 PM
Recently I found this Porche drawing of a Volkswagen Beetle. 

My husband has a minor obsession with VWs (he owns a '73 and collects anything VW related), and I want to replicate is somehow for him for Christmas.  I printed it out, and then traced over the main lines of the drawing with a thin black Sharpie.  I then traced it on to some plain white muslin and I want to embroider it in black.  I've never really embroidered before, so I'm not really sure where to go from here.  What stitch would be appropriate for this?  Should I use all 6 strands or split it into something thinner? Any help or tips you have to offer would be greatly appreciated!
12  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Chicken and Asparagus Pasta on: September 26, 2008 09:33:42 PM
Chicken and Asparagus Pasta

This is something that I make at least once every other week from fall through spring. The sauce for this dish is created with chicken stock. You can use a variety of protein selections (or leave them out entirely) and vegetables.  It's a recipe I modified quite a bit from one in Cook's Illustrated The Best Light Recipes. Serve it with some toasted garlic bread and a nice white wine. Note the optional changes at the end of the recipe.

  • 1 pound asparagus, tough ends trimmed and cut into bite sized pieces
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 sweet bell pepper, diced
  • 12 sun-dried tomatoes, julienne
  • 1 head garlic; cloves minced or pressed
  • 1 tbsp anchovy paste
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, optional
  • 3/4 cup chicken stock (low-sodium recommended)
  • 1- 14.5 oz diced tomatoes
  • 1 pound rotini pasta (I used gamelli this time around)
  • 2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup Romano cheese

1. In a large pot, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil for both the asparagus and the pasta.

2. Season both sides of the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tbsp of oil over medium-high heat in a large sauté pan (12 inch or larger). Add chicken to the pan and cook for about 5 minutes each side. Remove from pan and cover with foil.

3. Add an additional 2 tbsp of oil to the pan; reduce heat to medium, and sauté the onion, bell peppers, and sun-dried tomatoes until the onion and peppers begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic, anchovy paste, and red pepper flakes and stir to combine. Cook for an additional 2 minutes.

4. Increase heat to medium-high and deglaze pan by pouring chicken broth directly into the center of the pan, scraping up any brown bits. Slice the chicken breasts into bit sized pieces and return to the pan to finish cooking. Add diced tomatoes with their juice, reduce heat to medium low, and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes.

5. While sauce is simmering, add 1 tbsp of salt and asparagus to boiling water and cook until bright green, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer asparagus to a large dinner plate to allow to cool slightly.  Do NOT shock in ice water, because the asparagus will never get warm enough when it's added to the pasta.

6. Return water to a boil and cook according to package directions for al dente. Reserve 1 cup of cooking water and drain the pasta.

7. In a large serving bowl, toss the pasta with 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil. Pour the sauce over the pasta, add the asparagus, fresh basil, and Romano cheese, and toss together. Add salt and pepper to taste and reserved pasta water as needed to loosen the sauce. Serve immediately.

NOTE: Because there are so many flavors in this dish, things can be omitted with few problems. Make sure to add liquid if you omit an ingredient that would add it to the dish. I often add cooked, crumbled hot Italian sausage to this as well (as seen above). The asparagus can be substituted with broccoli or even spinach. There are so many options; use this recipe as a starting point and allow yourself to be creative!

13  HOME SWEET HOME / Crafty Housewares: Completed Projects: General / Couch Facelift, plus advice wanted! 7 pics on: September 26, 2008 09:13:27 PM
Hubby got a new job last November that's 75 miles away.  In May, we put the house on the market.  That ordeal is another story for another time.  However, the couch in our living room is pretty much disgusting.  I hate to think that when people come to see the house they might be inspecting my couch.  It's just about 6 years old, and it's been with us in 2 apartments and now this house.  We got it before we had dogs in a color that worked for 2 relatively neat and clean adults, but in just under 3 years, they've pretty much destroyed it. 

As you can see, it is stained beyond what I can keep clean, and from the dogs standing on arm to look out the window, it has become threadbare. 

Here is one of the culprits.

(The green color inside the bone is a piece of foam from his dog bed that I just realized was in there.)

We don't want to purchase another couch before we move, because obviously we won't know what will work in our next home.  So for now, I've done a few things to perk it up a bit.

I made very rudimentary arm covers, to mask the area that the dogs wore out and stained.  Here is where I need some advice. 

As you can see here, below the curve in the frame, the cover is quite loose.  Is there anything I can do now to make it more fitted?

Anyway, I also made throw pillows to replace the ones that came with the couch, because they were getting flat from over use and lumpy from washing.  I used Erin's tutorial from House on Hill Road for putting a zipper in a pillow cover, so now I can wash the covers, and the pillows won't suffer.  Here is what the entire couch looks like for now.

I purchased some very large pillow forms from Joann's a while ago to replace the back pillows.  I haven't found fabric yet, though.  I needed the new throw pillows for both couches in the room desperately, so now I'll have to match the fabric for them with the red striped fabric.  However, the throw pillow fabric matches the rug, so that worked out well.

This is the other couch in the room.  The covers are being washed tomorrow.

When we moved into the house, we needed seating for this wall, because the chair we used in apartment went into the sitting room.  We went the IKEA route and the style matches well enough.  These couches were never supposed to be permanent, but you know how that goes. The old throw pillows on this couch were ones that my hubby made for home-ec in middle school!  Well actually, hubby turned them in, but MIL made them.  They were gross, and were the real reason I made new throw pillows in the first place.

Comments, questions, and criticisms appreciated, as is an answer to my question about fitting the arm covers! Wink
14  HOME SWEET HOME / Interior Decorating: Discussion and Questions / Help!!! Joann's Home Decorating Fabric on: September 26, 2008 06:05:51 PM
Those of you who frequent Joann Fabrics will know that aside from their rediculously priced, custom order designer home decorating fabrics, they also have a less expensive home dec fabric that's on the bolt.  It's obviously not of the same quality as the custom order fabric, and it has a rougher weave.  Does anyone know if this line of fabric is online anywhere?  I checked the Joann website, but I can't seem to find it.  I'm not sure if it is something that's made exclusively for Joann's or what the name of it is, because I always seem to forget to check the label on the bolt when I'm there.  Can anyone help?
15  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / It Won't Kill You! Fettuccine Alfredo on: September 16, 2008 07:41:10 PM
Shrimp and Vegetable Alfredo

This was created mostly in desperation.  I asked my husband what he wanted for dinner.  He asked what we had thawed.  Oops!  Nothing!  Shrimp thaws easily in a colander under cold running water, so shrimp it was.  So I asked what he wanted me to make with shrimp.  He said Alfredo.  I groaned.  Alfredo!  We’re easily looking at 50 grams of fat per serving there.  We were both hungry and so this could easily cover our daily fat gram allowance for almost 2 days!  I went to the store to pick up the cream and it hit me!  They now have fat free half & half.  I got a quart of that and a pint of regular half & half, and went home to raid the fridge and pantry for the rest of the ingredients to hopefully make something that had at least some positive nutritional value.  Since a heavily dog-eared copy of Harold McGee's On Food and Cooking is never far from my kitchen, I knew that I'd need some kind of starch to thicken my sauce, since there was going to be a serious absence of milk fat.  I found my thickener here in the form of a slurry; half & half and cornstarch.

Well, mission accomplished and it was delicious, but was put away before I could snap a picture.  Obviously it wasn't fat-free (or probably not even low-fat for that matter), but since we both had cereal for breakfast and relatively healthy lunches, we were probably right around our daily recommended fat grams.   I'll probably have it for lunch tomorrow, so I'll see if I can get a good shot then.  Enjoy!

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
Servings: 6-8


1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small zucchini, chopped into half inch cubes
1 small yellow squash, chopped into half inch cubes
2 medium heads of broccoli, cut into florets
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups fat-free half & half
Freshly grated nutmeg; to taste
1 tsp white pepper
¾ cups regular half & half
2.5 tbsp cornstarch
½ cup grated Asiago cheese
12 oz. fettuccine (I used sun-dried tomato)


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the broccoli and pasta.  Once water boils, add broccoli.  Allow to blanch about 3-4 minutes.  Remove from water and allow to cool slightly on a plate. (DO NOT shock in ice water.  The broccoli will never get warm enough to eat once it is added to the pasta.)

Meanwhile, in a large pan (14 inch) melt butter over medium heat.  Add oil, shrimp, and garlic.  Sauté until shrimp is mostly cooked through, about 2 minutes per side.  Remove shrimp from pan, increase heat to medium-high, and add squash to pan.  Allow to brown, stirring only once or twice, about 7 minutes.  Transfer to plate with broccoli.  Wipe pan clean (deglaze first if necessary).

Return pan to heat, add 2 cups of fat-free half & half, nutmeg, and pepper, and bring to a simmer.  Whisk together the regular half & half and cornstarch to create a slurry.  Add slurry to pan, and continue to simmer until the sauce reaches a desired consistency.  Turn off heat (do not remove yet) and stir in cheese.  Taste, and add salt if needed.

Cook pasta for the length given for al dente on package.  Reserve about 1 cup of pasta cooking water.

Combine pasta, shrimp, and vegetables in a large serving bowl.  Use pasta water as needed to loosen sauce.  Pour sauce over pasta, tossing to coat.  Serve immediately.
16  Pennsylvania / Pennsylvania: Southeast / Fleece in Philly on: August 10, 2008 09:51:32 PM
As you might have guessed from the title, I'm looking for fleece in the Philly area.  I live outside of Reading, but the only fabric resources here are Joann's or quilt stores.  I figure that I might luck out better in and around Philly.  In particular I'm looking for the following:
  • microfleece
  • printed fleece in any weight
  • solid or patterned high loft fleece
  • waffle fleece
  • curly fleece
  • embroidered fleece
  • ribbed fleece

If anyone has any tips on where to check out, I'd greatly appreciate it.  Thanks!
17  KNITTING / Knitting: Discussion and Questions / Beginner Fingerless Glove Pattern? on: August 06, 2008 10:54:22 PM
As the title suggests, I am looking for a fingerless glove pattern suitable for a quasi-beginner.  I plan on going camping up north towards the end of September and again in mid-October, and it can get a little chilly at night, so I'd like something for sitting around the campfire once the sun goes down. I can knit and purl, I've taught myself decreases and yarn-over increases, and if there is an example of how to do it on the internet, I can pretty much figure it out.  I've never knit in the round, but I don't have any aversions to learning. However, I get bored pretty easily, so I'd prefer something that can be knit up rather quickly (as in an hour or so a day and 1 week or under for both).  Does anyone have any suggestions for a pattern, either on Craftster, the vast interwebs, or in a book? Thanks in advance!
18  PURSES, BAGS, WALLETS / Purses, Bags, Wallets: Completed Projects: General / A tisket, a tasket, yet another BAGSKET! on: April 11, 2008 03:15:37 PM
Okay, so I jumped on the bagsket bandwagon for the Make-A-Friend Swap.  I definitely ran into a few snags, but most of them I think had to do with my machine and the thickness of the layers.

I love the colors.  Among her favorites are dark purple and bright blue, so I think this fits the bill.

Here is what I don't like about it: the inside.

I checked this for fit inside out, and it was good, but when I turned it, look how loose it is!  If I were to make one again, I would make the lining smaller (obviously), and I'd have the pockets come higher up (probably 6.5 inches as opposed to 4.5 inches).
19  HOME SWEET HOME / Crafty Housewares: Completed Projects: General / Antique Shadowboxes on: April 10, 2008 02:52:55 PM
Okay, so the shadowboxes themselves aren't antiques (they're from the Pottery Barn Outlet), but what's inside of them are.  I live in an area of Pennsylvania that is chock full of antique stores, and find myself wandering through at least one a few times a month.  Sometimes I buy, sometimes I don't.  I'm often drawn to things that have lost their usefulness, but are still inherently beautiful. On separate occasions last summer I purchase some skeleton keys, watch faces, and cat-eye glasses.  I've been drawn to the skeleton key shadowboxes that have been popular in catalogs for the past few years, but I didn't want whatever I did with them to look like I just bought it from Pier 1 or Pottery Barn.  I wanted whatever I ended up doing with them to look like a collection of wonderful bits from someone's fascinating history.  Here is what I put together:

Comments, questions, and critiques welcome!
20  BATH AND BEAUTY / Bath and Beauty: Completed Projects / Fabric Curlers *w/tutorial link **UPDATED pics of outcome p.1 ***AFTER WORK p.5 on: March 24, 2008 07:35:16 PM
First off, all credit goes to Shawnee over at Life with Monkey and her super easy tutorial.  I did make some changes... I didn't gather the base of the curler by hand, I just used my machine and a zipper foot.  Also, I used some wooden beads that I had, because my button tin is mysteriously missing... hmmmmmmmm... I wonder where it went? Huh  I actually like the small beads pretty well, and they work great with the button hole.  Anywho, on to the pics:

Weird whole head shot

Some close ups

I used 2 fat quarters of fabrics that I really had no use for anymore, mini wood beads that came in a multi-pack of which I only used the large ones, some thread, some poly-fill, and in maybe an hour and a half from start to finish, I now have 20 soft curlers.

I have a TON of pretty fine hair, so I let it air dry a bit first, but it is still wet in the pics, even though it doesn't totally look like it.  Somedays when I pull it back while wet, it's still wet when I take it down at night.  I will probably blow dry it a bit before I go to bed, and hopefully they will be set by morning.  I've been looking for soft curlers that I can sleep on for a while now, but they all seemed ridiculously overpriced.  I'll take pictures of the results in the morning.  I hope they look good! Cheesy

Well, I am totally sold on these!  Here's the outcome:

I just used my fingers to comb through the curls and then sort of twisted large sections back together.  I definitely love what it looks like, but I wonder how they will hold throughout the day without me heat-setting them or using any product.  They seem to be holding alright now, but have loosened a bit already. 
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