Sunday, April 13, 2008

The gift of love, cocktails, and eggs...

We celebrate two anniversaries: the date of our legal marriage and the date of our marriage before God and our families. The first date is April 12, just yesterday, and look what I got! A lovely mabe pearl cocktail ring!
It has the most rich luster that I just couldn't translate to a digital photo. I love to look at it...Isn't it gorgeous?!

We celebrated last night with a wonderful dinner out and this morning with breakfast. Since he really appreciates a good meal above all else (so easy to please that way!), I started with freshly baked croissants, smoked salmon, scrambled eggs Julia Child style (really, you must try these; they are started in a cold pan) covered with caramelized spring onions and drizzled with a sauce made of neufchatel cheese and lemon juice. Spring greens were on the side, since I have to have something green and fresh on every plate. I even squeezed fresh oranges for mimosas! Really, I outdid myself...

I personally love smoked nova salmon and since fishing has just been banned in the Pacific Northwest, I figured it's going to get really expensive very shortly. If you love it too, here's the recipe that my husband will choose every time over brunch out...

Scrambled eggs a la Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol 1
Serves 2...
4 eggs
2 tsp water
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper
1 tsp butter
2 tsp half & half or cream

Whisk your eggs together with the water in a bowl for about 20 seconds - it's important NOT to over beat your eggs. Butter your cold pan and then pour in your eggs. Then put your pan over medium - medium low heat. After a minute or so, depending, start to stir slowly with a wooden spoon until the eggs thicken and curds start to form. Keep stirring until it's pretty much all curds, but not totally dry, just until the eggs come together and aren't runny. Remove from heat and stir in the cream and serve immediately.

You will find these eggs to be creamy, tender and delish, I promise! The trick is a cold pan, gentle stirring, and not over cooking.
Caramelized spring onions (leeks work really well, too)
1 larger spring onion, sliced into thin rings (I use it all, the green parts are tasty!)
1 tbs butter or olive oil

Heat your pan over low - medium low heat until your butter melts and then add the onions. Stir occasionally, keeping them moving just enough so they don't stick to the bottom. Make sure the heat is low enough that the onions sweat but don't burn, until softened and golden, about 10-12 minutes.

Neufchatel (or cream cheese, whatever you have in your fridge) sauce
2-3 big tsp of the cheese
1-2 tsp of fresh lemon juice

Whisk these two together until smooth. Taste. If necessary, add a little more lemon if necessary or cheese. I like neufchatel because it's a little sweeter and lighter than cream cheese...

Put your scrambled eggs on a plate, top with half the onions and then drizzle with the neufchatel sauce. You can put your salmon on top of this or serve it to the side. Serve with spring greens tossed with extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt & pepper.

Eat slowly, savor every last bite, and try not to fight over the last croissant...

Thursday, April 10, 2008

BWOF Dress begins, or what a difference a year makes

Let us flash back to my very first attempt at a notched collar, shall we? It was June of 2007, hot as blazes, and I fancied myself a beginner in need of professional assistance. Where to turn? Joann's lured me in with their Creative University classes. I signed up for Sewing a Suit and created a gray polyester thing that was at once wonderful and discouraging.

I was the only one who paid for the course, so it was one-on-one instruction. Mostly she just guided me through the instructions. Part of me felt that I could have just saved my $100 and bought some really great fabric, but I have to admit she helped me through some tough spots. One particular rough spot was the collar. Simplicity 4146 has a notched lapel that should have been straight forward. My choice of fabric made this very challenging, I realized much later while trying another jacket in a very reasonable and well behaved cotton.

Flash forward to the current class I am taking with a sewing professional, Prof. S-, part of an actual curriculum with design and fashion majors. He demonstrated a collar and stand construction that was just so simple and lovely! I have chosen Burda WoF 06-2007-139 for the next project.

I leave you to compare the results his method produced on my muslin's collar (pink) tonight to my first attempt (grey)... To truly appreciate what a difference a year makes, click on each photo to see the large scale version.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Midnight meanderings...

It's nearing the witching hour and the husband is sneezing and coughing away in bed so I just can't bring myself to enter the sick room to sleep. It seems like the entire valley is afflicted with allergies/colds right now - insanity, I say, for moving here! Insanity! But I digress...

I found two of the most wonderful blogs that I have to share with everyone (my five readers, you know who you are and I love you):

1st: Jenny at keen sense of irony and the absurd, which I love in the best of folks coupled with a newfound interest in sewing. She's going to make a swim suit next, which I'm really looking forward to as we are shaped rather similarly...

2nd: Geri at think I'm the only one in blog-land who hadn't seen this blog before now, but go now; do not pass go, do not collect $200. First off, she designed a coat and put the pattern on Burda Style open source. That in itself is cool enough, but get a load of the coat! Amazing!!! Just the line drawing is gorgeousness itself!
I'm going to have to try this coat in a lighter fabric than her wool since, you know, I live in the desert where average temps 75% of the year are upwards of 90 degrees. In other words: it's hot. All the time :( Except for today; it was only 70 degrees. Kinda cold if you ask me...

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Updates, new fabric, patterns, etc...

One of the reasons I elected to take a clothing construction course is that I have to alter patterns to fit my sway back. This is common, but I believe it's better to have a method, in general, than to just wing it. So, with this in mind, I brought my latest creation to last week's class for an expert opinion. Prof S- agreed that it needed to be altered, but when I modeled it for him he said, take out those darts and then we'll see. Right-o. So, off I went to take out the darts I had basted in and then I presented again for a fitting session. His alteration was to take a tuck in at the back bodice seam and then pinch out the remaining fullness at the waist. The resulting modification didn't follow the curve of my back as precisely, but he had a VERY good point:

Alterations should disguise the unique characteristics, rather than emphasize.

His point was that my darts drew attention to the sway back alteration, while his tuck and pinch at the zip method hid it. Very interesting indeed... When we called the class over for "Opinions," the verdict was unanimous: tuck beats dart and the yellow was awesome with my coloring. (blush)

The other thing he immediately pointed out as soon as I had put on the dress was that I had better staystitch the neckline and armscye of the next version because this dress had already stretch out. But I think I already covered how I really just needed to follow directions and be okay with this dress, so I won't tell you that Burda did recommend Vilene Bias Tape applied to those same places, for exactly the same reason. But, umm, yeah, I skipped that part.

My next step is to transfer the alterations to the pattern piece, which I will do today and then pick apart my back seams to make the changes.

As for my next project, I (like everyone else) love, love, love the new Rucci patterns from Vogue so I had to purchase the shirt dress. While I was at Joann's I picked up two others that were interesting. The bodice and neckline on the vintage 1043 is just lovely, don't you think? It also has gusseted underarms, which I am really looking forward to trying out. The third pattern is a wardrobe for crepe fabrics with wonderful drape. I love the pants and the neckline on the dress/top as well. The jacket has bias inset sides, which is just beautiful.

And last, but certainly not least: I placed my first order with Michael's Fabrics! Cidell had mentioned that she purchased the Burberry coating at their brick & mortar store and they offered her readers a great discount and that clinched it for me. 4 yards of the black arrived in my hot little hands on Friday and lived up to it's promise. Gorgeousness!!!!
When I called, I talked to Michael himself and he offered me a wonderful discount on the legendary Zegna fabrics. If the black silk/wool blend is good enough for Versace, well, then how could I not get 4 yds of this also? In deference to the heat here, I had to pick up some linen as well. 3yds of the deep plum silk/linen blend and 3 yds of cotton stretch w/ red pattern were added to the cart. I can't wait to use it! Please note the colors are much richer than my photos indicate... The cotton has the most amazingly soft, yet crisp hand ever. What else did I do yesterday? The latest trend here in Phoenix is to have a French pedicure... Cute, no?