Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Holidays!

Like much of the nation, I love the holidays. They're a happy time when everyone is smiling and singing and telling stories about the past. One of the things I love most about the holidays are Christmas Trees and decorations. Simon and I bought our first live tree this year from Whole Foods. It stands about three feet tall and just barely fits in the corner of our living room even at that size. Over the past year or two we've collected some ornaments on different trips we've taken and as presents from relatives, but one of my absolute favorite part of ornaments are the memories that come with unpacking them each year. So, I decided to make a few of my own inspired by some I've seen around the web:

They aren't anything terribly special, one is filled with green, red, and white buttons I had in my button jar, and the other is wrapped in twine; but these two ornaments will always remind me of the very first Christmas Simon and I traveled as a family unit instead of splitting apart. I'll remember the first Christmas we had a live tree; and the last Christmas in our tiny, but wonderful, apartment. I'll think of condo hunting, starting my new job, and the fact that it was unseasonably warm and everyone was thankful for that. They will remind me that this was the year Greg, Seiko, and Britta were all in the states from abroad and how happy that made our parents and us. For just some buttons, twine, and glass, these ornaments are well worth the time and effort spent making them.

That said, I also want to put up a list of my New Year's Resolutions (which I'll hopefully stick to):

1) Get in shape. This time last year I was at the peak of my half-marathon training and had never been in better shape - I had side-abs. I want side-abs again.
2) Continue taking care of my teeth. I had to spend $1,300 this year in dental bills once my insurance maxed out. That will not happen again.
3) Drink more water. It's good for me.
4) Stop chewing on my lips. It's gross.
5) Bring lunch to work. Healthier and cheaper.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Brie and Apple Tarts!

I honestly thought I had finished baking with apples until next fall, but then I found this recipe while browsing Pinterest one evening. OMG, these are delicious.

Things began neat and orderly. I defrosted my puff pastry and started cutting my green apple.

Things quickly escalated into a gigantic mess. Thank god for my newly sewn apron!

 This was my first time working with puff pastry. I was pretty nervous at the onset because puff pastry has a reputation for being delicate and temperamental; but I really had no problems at all. As long as it fully thaws before you try to unwrap it, you should be all set. If it isn't fully thawed, it may crack and then you'll have a crack through all of your puff pastry layers with no way to repair them. Also: flour. Flour is important with puff pastry. When it eventually did thaw (about 40 minutes after taking it out of the fridge), the pastry got very, very tacky. 

Once I floured, rolled, and cut the puff pastry, I loaded it up with green apple slices, chunks of brie, brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon. 

Then, fold up the puff pastry around the filling and brush it with an egg wash. This. got. messy. Real messy. 

Once lined on the baking pan, bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. They turned out amazing. The puff pastry was flaky and golden brown, the cheese was completely melted and gooey, and the brown sugar and cinnamon cut through the bite of the green apple.  They made a really great snack and looking back on it, they were pretty easy to make...I mean...I could fill these with anything. Blueberries and bananas? Chocolate chips and bananas? All sorts of cheeses? delicious. delicious. delicious.

Sunday, December 4, 2011


A little over a year ago my aunt shipped me a large (I mean REALLY large) box of vintage clothes she had stored for years. This box appeared to be an assortment of store bought vintage pieces, homemade clothing, and stage costumes. Some of it was donated, some of it given to friends, and some of it was put aside with the intent of being made in to various sewing projects, the first of which I finished a few weeks ago! I turned a too-large and boxy yellow sundress in to an apron. Unfortunately, the original picture of the entire dress has disappeared, so I can't show a before and after. That said, here is the finished product:

The original dress had two straps which I combined to make a halter; a full back which I removed; and a lot of length at the bottom which I also removed and turned in to a tie at the back of the waist. The large hip pockets already existed and were my initial inspiration to make this an apron since they are the perfect size for cooking utensils. All in all it turned out pretty well. I was definitely lazy when it came to finishing the seams and make a clean, polished garment - but...I don't really care. It fits comfortably and looks good from the front. For a piece of clothing that is meant to get dirty and beaten up, I think it's pretty damn good!

And I've already tested it out with a delicious recipe I'll be posting at a later date : )

It was really good to get the practice sewing with my machine.  I'm going to try to work sewing projects into my life more often. It can actually be pretty zen sitting at a humming machine for a length of time.