Monday, February 25, 2013

A Weekend of Homemade

Looking back on this past weekend, I'm pretty impressed with how much "homemade" we achieved.

First, I finished Annika's new nightgown. When I began the project early last week, I figured it would be a snap to whip up... and it should have been, but I couldn't get my serger to work properly. No matter how I changed the tension dials, the only tension that changed was my own. I had to walk away on a few occasions because my fun project wasn't feeling very fun. Finally, I went to the store that sold it to me and asked for help. A marvelous woman took a look at my machine, pointed out a few things that needed to be corrected and then played with the tension dials. Within a few minutes, she tamed my serger and it was creating gorgeous stitches. She also pointed out that the settings she landed on are pretty wonky, which means my serger is due for some maintenance. This week, it'll go in for some TLC.

Annika modeling her new nightgown
While finishing Annika's nightgown was a huge accomplishment (which also resulted in us being able to use our kitchen table again), it wasn't the only completed project of the weekend. Eric and I swapped out the worn out faucet in our downstairs bathroom. (Sorry, no pictures are available.) The hot water handle had a bit of an issue in that if we turned it off too far, the water would turn back on. It's been like this for quite some time and I decide it was time for a change. After a lot of elbow grease, a few scraped knuckles, a bit of head scratching, lots of tools, and some plumbers dope (yes, I do know what that is now!), we pulled out the old hardware and replaced it with the new. So thrilled with the final results!!

On Saturday, I was struck with the idea that Annika and I should try making homemade butter. I'd picked up a quart of whipping cream so I could make frosting for a cake, but knew there would be plenty left for other purposes (Oh yeah, there's another project .. I made a chocolate cake with chocolate and peanut butter ganache topping for my co-workers' birthdays). Thanks to a quick Internet search, I found that a blog that said we only needed was some whipping cream and a jar that had a good seal. Done and done! Unfortunately, I was much more psyched about the project than Annika was, so after about 5-6 shakes, she was ready to work on solving her mazes and I was left getting a great upper body workout. But, after a lot of shaking, we went from having whipping cream to whipped cream, to a lump of stuff, to butter and buttermilk. Little did I realize when we started that we'd have two final products: homemade butter and homemade buttermilk (which I used to make pancakes for the kids Sunday morning)!


Thanks to my cousin (Tonya) introducing me to the wondrous world of online craft classes, I enrolled in a free "perfect pizza" class led by the amazing Peter Reinhart... a well-known bread maker. So, I decided to make homemade pizza for dinner ... which, of course, required homemade pizza dough. One of Peter's tips was to make the dough a day or two before you need it, so the glutens have time to develop. We'll make pizza for dinner tonight ... stay tuned for a review of the final results. 
To quote Homer Simpson: "DOUGH!"
Last, and certainly not least, I got it in my head that the kids needed crowns that would last more than 5 minutes. Typically when they want to play dress up, I'd make them paper crowns. Paper being paper and the kids being kids resulted in ripped crowns and frowny kids. Enough was enough ... our kids deserve the best, right? My mission was to sew them some fabric crowns that had a chance of living past the afternoon. 

Once again, I did a quick Internet search, found a great blog that included instructions and a template, and I went to work. I learned quite a bit about the process making Annika's crown and applied a few tweaks when constructing Conor's crown. The biggest tip I figured out was to cut the interfacing slightly smaller than the fabric so it doesn't make the inside fabric quite so tight. Plus, my serger proved to be the perfect tool for finishing the bottom edges of the crowns - once again, thank you to the marvelous woman at the sewing store! I was incredibly pleased with the final results and the kids love them. Win - win!

Our prince and princess

You can't really tell in this photo, but each crown has two fabrics:
one on the inside and one on the outside

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