Monthly Archives: August 2012

Feline Friday–My favorite Water Bowl

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Busted.  This is my one of my favorite places to drink.  Can you believe my mom and dad will chase me off or, even worse, will shut the door!  I even taught Sadie how to drink out of the bowl.  She’s a lot messier though which doesn’t make mom very happy when she goes in there.

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I also like drinking from Sadie’s bowl.  My absolute favorite is the sink upstairs.  I’ll get an action shot of that sometime.IMG_8953_edited-1

Have a great Labor Day Weekend!

Wiksten Tank

 

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I’ve been on a mission for the perfect tank pattern.  One that can be worn on its own, with a loose fit so I can wear it with skinny jeans and with sweaters in the winter.  But, I don’t want it to be a tent – it has to have some shape.  I have a few from Nordstrom that I love.  When I started sewing, I was sure I could replicate them.  They were exactly what I wanted but expensive for what they were – just simple polyester tops.

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This supposedly easy-to-replicate basic wardrobe piece has turned out to be elusive.  The only pattern I’ve found that’s close is the Wiksten Tank.  I like the fitted shape through the shoulders and the longer length in back.  There are several examples around the internet that are super-cute.

When I made it initially, I followed the sizing guidelines and the shirt was so huge, it was unwearable.  So, I re-printed, taped and re-cut the pattern in a Small and it worked out much better. That was a pain but the nature of the beast with pdf patterns.IMG_8990_edited-1

I like the fit in theory but I will need to make some adjustments on the next version.  First, this requires a fabric with a nice drape.  Even this linen I used was too stiff.  It ended up looking huge in front – I’m not really going for the pregnant look!  With a more drape-y fabric, it would lay nicely and look exactly how I envisioned.  In fact, after seeing these pictures, I’ve decided not to make a second tank in the same fabric (different color); it’s just too stiff to be flattering.

IMG_8967_edited-1 neck gape

The back neck gapes on me so I will adjust for that.  I saw an easy way to fix that on Made by Rae which I’d like to try. I also think that shortening the bias binding just a smidge around the neckline will help it lay better in front.

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I’ve wondered for awhile if I need to learn how to do a swayback adjustment.  The pooling of fabric at my lower back sure makes it look like I need to.  I’ll have to figure that out.

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This is a great pattern which is easy to make.  The pattern calls for french seams which I love since I don’t have a serger.  It’s quick too – it can easily be done in an evening.

It’s definitely a pattern I’ll make again when I find the right fabric!

Laser Focus

Anytime I eat in the car, Sadie tries to play her mind tricks on me.  She combines cuteness with constant staring.  I think she’s telepathically trying to to get me to drop a bit of sandwich, too.  She always wins a few bites because I’m a sucker. 

Texas Sheet Cake with a Couple Happy Accidents

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We had a fun neighborhood block party last night and I took a dessert.  Texas sheet cake is one of my go-to desserts.  I love it.  I grew up with my mom making it often and I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say I’ve made it at least 20 times over the past ten years.  My friends and family are probably sick of it!

This is a great cake to make when you need to feed a crowd or something that can easily travel.  Personally, I think it tastes just as good or better the next day as long as it stays covered.

I made a few changes with this version of the cake – some were planned, some were discovered after the fact.  When I was measuring the cocoa for the icing I realized I used the wrong measuring spoon when making the cake batter.  I put in 5 tablespoons instead of 5 teaspoons.  That’s triple the amount needed. Oops! I just had to hope it would be ok.  I added extra sugar to the icing to thicken and sweeten.  I used walnuts instead of pecans because that’s what I had in the house.  As it turns out, I liked all those changes better!

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The only aspect that didn’t work was the cooking time.  I’m still learning how to adjust the temperature and time for the convection setting.  The recipe calls for 350 degrees for 25 minutes.  Usually that combination works.  For the convection oven, I set the oven at 325 and a time of 18 minutes.  Surprisingly, that was too long and the edges were dry.  I had to cut them off and not serve them (they won’t go to waste – we’ll eat them at home!)  I’m still learning how to use this oven.  It must run hot.  I had the same problem with my banana bread.

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Overcooked – how do you adjust for convection?

So – here’s how to make it.  Recipe at the bottom.

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Sift the flour, sugar, and salt into mixing bowl. (no photo)

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In a pan, add butter, water, cocoa and crisco.  Bring to a boil.

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Pour the chocolate over the flour/sugar.  Mix to combine.

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Add eggs, buttermilk, soda, and vanilla.

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Beat for 3 minutes.  Batter will remain thinner than normal cake batter.  That’s ok.

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Pour in pan.  This is a half size sheet pan – 16-17 inches long.

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Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.  I would start checking at 20 or 22 minutes.  You don’t want it to pull away like the above – my mistake in the convection adjustment.

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Pour icing over cake while it’s still warm.  The original recipe says to pour over the cake immediately after pulling from the oven so it melts into the cake.  I’ve found that gets it too melty (technical term) and it runs and pools at the edges.  Just a few minutes to cool is all you need.  I make the frosting while it cools.

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Texas Sheet Cake:

Grease sheet pan

Sift into a mixing bowl:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

In a pan combine the below and bring to a boil:

  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup water
  • 5 tablespoons cocoa (original recipe calls for 5 teaspoons – pick which you think you’d prefer)
  • 1/2 cup shortening

Pour chocolate over sugar and flour and mix until combined.

To the above add:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon soda
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat for 3 minutes.  Pour in greased pan and bake at 350 for 25 minutes.  Start checking the cake a few minutes earlier.

In same pan in which you melted the butter, shortening, cocoa, etc…

Melt:

  • 1 stick of butter
  • 5 teaspoons of cocoa

Once melted, add to the pan:

  • 1 box confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts.  Pecans are also good)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup of milk

I often add more milk or sugar to get the consistency I like. Icing will not be thick like a buttercream.

Pour icing over warm cake.

ENJOY!!

Sadie Saturday–Bath Time

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Well, I’ve been back home for a week and we are back to the old routine with one development.  I went to see my nice allergy doctor to find out why I always have to scratch so much and lick my paws.  I can’t control it – you know how it is when you have an itch that won’t go away!  She said that I’m allergic to so much outside, it makes it hard to prevent the itchies.  I have a new medicine schedule.  But the worst?  I have to have a bath every two weeks!IMG_8824_edited-2

So, Mom attempted to give me my bath last night by herself.  I don’t know why she thought it was so hard. I only made her get partially wet.  I was the one who was soaked!  It took lots of convincing (treats) to get me in the bathroom.  I’m no dummy. I knew exactly what was up so I ran away downstairs.  But, I couldn’t resist the kibble she gave me every few steps.  That Mom – she’s sneaky.  She waited ‘till it was dinner time and tricked me with food.  Next thing I knew, I was in the shower!

Don’t you love how my hair gets all kinky when it’s wet?IMG_8815_edited-1

I really don’t like the bath but I sure look fluffy and soft after, don’t you think? 

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Scenes From A Window Seat: Clouds

 

IMG_2543_edited-1So glad to be home! I’ve been traveling the past two weeks.  First to a sales meeting and then directly down to Florida for vacation.  I was on eight planes over the course of the trip and only got the window seat a couple of times.  Don’t these airlines know I have a blog?!

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We went down to Captiva Island, FL.  I absolutely love the place.  I started going down with my family in ‘80 or ‘81 and have only missed a handful of summers when I was in my twenties and thirties and couldn’t take time off work.  Luckily, Matt enjoys it as much as I do and he’s happy to continue the tradition.

IMG_2547_edited-1It always strikes me how vibrant everything is down there.  Bright sun, blue sky, white sand and blue water.  And the clouds – they are the whitest, puffiest things you’ve ever seen. So, while I couldn’t get a shot of the island from above I did get some photos of the clouds.  Keep in mind these are from a phone so the quality isn’t great. I may post some actual vacation photos later.  You’re so excited, aren’t you?

my only shot with water in the backgroundIMG_2548_edited-1

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And because it is Florida, a mid afternoon rain shower…

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