Archive for the ‘handmade’ Category

Food: Best Freaking Tomato Sauce

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In the very first cooking class I attended from Tom (he’s the best!) he taught us how to make a rustic tomato sauce. It’s my go-to. I don’t buy store bought anymore. Best of all, no can opener required. I’ve never been a huge fan of the overly-acidic, dump-all-your-food-storage-into-a-pot sauces. They don’t taste like a real tomato grown on a vine. This sauce does. And you don’t have to make it at the height of growing season, either. I can make mine in the middle of winter with 72″ of snow piling in our front yard.

The secret is in the type of tomatoes. Regular cherry tomatoes work fabulously. If you happen to find yourself near a Trader Joe’s, stock up on ALL of their mini tomatoes, especially their Villagio Marzano tomatoes! OMG, so good just plain.
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This recipe may feel like it’s more work than the typical recipe that calls for cans and Italian seasoning, but this gets more of a rustic, home-grown tomato taste rather than a canned taste. It’s just so. much. better.

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RUSTIC TOMATO SAUCE

Adapted from Food Made By Tom | Makes 2-3 cups
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbs salted butter
  • 1/3 cup coarsely sliced onion
  • 2 cartons grape tomatoes*
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock or broth
  • kosher salt to taste

Peel garlic and coarsely chop. Turn on the stove to medium high heat. Add butter, garlic and onion.

While the onion and garlic are simmering, slice all of your tomatoes in half. Dump tomatoes into the pot once the onions and garlic is aromatic (until onion goes clear, you can go until it browns a little if you’d like). Cover and cook for 30-40 minutes. Check in on it and stir about once every 5 minutes.

You’ll want the bottom of the medium sauce pan to burn just slightly so you get a roasted flavor in there. Timing depends upon how juicy your tomatoes are. Add salt and pepper. Add broth. I eyeball it. Uncover the sauce and reduce at medium-high heat.

At this point you could just remove from heat and put on pizza dough as a rustic pizza sauce. My kids don’t much care for the larger skins, so I’ll allow the mixture to cool and blend it with my immersion blender or I’ll put it in the blender and puree. Garnish with fresh basil.

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The above image is when it’s about half-way done. You’ll want a soupier consistency. It’ll start bubbling and burning slightly on the bottom. The charred bottom adds a lot of flavor, as if you roasted the tomatoes in an oven. You can add broth or stock to the sauce or leave as-is. It just depends upon how thick you want your sauce to be and how much time you have to let it reduce. If I have time, I’ll add broth and let it reduce a couple of times so the flavor is concentrated. My best batches tend to be the ones I forget about because I get caught up with the drama of after-school studies or who gets the iPad. It’s best to cook at medium to medium/high heat. I tend to go medium/high heat because we’re at altitude. Things take FOREVER to cook otherwise.

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So this may not be a hard-and-fast recipe, it’s more recipe theory and based on “Looks”, so I hope it’ll be as good for you as it has been for our family.

Style: Easy Marble Pencil Skirt

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All those mountains behind me in the below image are marbled with snow now! I took these pics with Sam back in November and I’m just getting around to sharing them with you. I haven’t done much by way of sewing these days and it crushes me! Calligraphy and teaching have taken up the bulk of my free-time these days. I’m itching to get back into sewing before the holidays hit. I’m in desperate need of some cozy sweaters and dresses.

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All photos by Sam Pierson

I found this awesome marble printed neoprene at MOOD, so I bought it. I can’t remember if I got one yard or two, but I’ve got plenty left for some leggings, skirts and perhaps a dress for the girls. I’m a sucker for matching outfits. Poor Felix gets left out of my plans for matching. He doesn’t care either way, though.

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Want to make one of your own? It’s insanely easy. NO serger required. See my wiggle skirt tutorials below:

Leather and knit wiggle skirt

Color-blocked wiggle skirt

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Outfit details–

 

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Sewing Style: Split & Sparkle Kimono

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OMG. Prior calligraphy student Marilenne sent me a load of beaded collars she bought from the Philippines and I couldn’t wait to get sewing with them. What was likely supposed to be a beaded waist detail ended up being a popped collar of sorts for this lightweight linen kimono I sewed for myself.

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The fabric is a lightweight linen I got from Miriam (turns out she bought it from Walmart – seriously sometimes they have fabulous fashion fabrics!). It’s breezy, which is perfect for the long hem, so it catches in the wind and looks freaking awesome. Paired with the black faux leather leggings, I’m channeling Trinity over here (minus the shiny leather).

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Sewing the beaded collar wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be. I ended up relying heavily on my zipper foot and it worked like a champ.

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Pattern-wise, I went off Leanne’s Kimono tutorial. I made some adjustments from the previous iteration, but I ended up making the sleeves too tight. So small, that they didn’t fit my shoulders (oops). I ended up unpicking the side seams and adding a gusset in the armpit to accommodate. Worked like a charm. Putting in a gusset wasn’t nearly as tricky as I thought it would be. The trickiest part of the whole thing was unpicking the serger seams (which isn’t so bad with this tutorial).

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I love how this blazer/kimono/blazono works with black leggings. I’d like to try it with a floor length chiffon skirt (black or marbled grey?). I’ve been thinking about black tie attire lately. I’d like to have a go-to outfit for fancy stuff. So far I don’t have anything like that.

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Outfit Details:

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DIY: Simple Rope Necklace Tutorial

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It’s unreal how long I’ve had this DIY in the queue.

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I made these necklaces back in 2013, just before I went to L.A. for a girls’ weekend. Back when I made this, I had an idea for a giant rope necklace, but didn’t have any giant rope. Turns out you can find this type of stuff in the upholstery section, but making your own rope is hyper fun. And insanely easy.

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It adds a little bit of quirkiness, but it doesn’t look nearly as home made as it is. I love that.

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For the simplest of necklaces, here’s what we’ll need:

  • Cotton twine: any kind (I found mine at Home Depot)
  • scissors
  • tape
  • jump rings
  • chain (16+ inches)
  • pliers

Click the link to see the full tutorial.

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Sewing Style: Floral Button-Up

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This outfit has been in the queue of things to blog for MONTHS. I got the skirt just in the nick time for Inspired Retreat. It traveled marvelously well and proved to be just the perfect statement piece I needed for a dinner there.

The top was something I sewed in May for Silhouette Summit. There’s something about going out of town that urges me to sew like crazy!

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I had this fabric in my stash from an excursion to the fabric district years ago. I thought I would just make something for Penelope with it, but it just sat. And I never made anything for her. The bright, tropical print was screaming at me the second I purchased my flight to Hawaii, so I did something about it.

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I made this button up without a collar. Basically using Grainline’s Scout Tee, extending the middle front and adding buttons. It was easy enough. I sort of wish I would have made a collar for it. It wasn’t the easiest fabric to work with, but I think a collar would have looked nice.

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It was part laziness, part strategic planning that I opted for only 4 buttons in the front. I tie the front of most of my button-ups anyway, so I just omitted them for that very reason. Tying up the excess like that makes for a sleeker line with the skirt since there’s no bulk of a shirt underneath the skirt. I know. I’m genius. It’s not a matter of style, but a matter of comfort in this case. I don’t like bulk.
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It was an easy enough sew, taking me just under 2 hours to make it happen from beginning to end. I feel a little Miami granny-ish with the florals, but paired with the metallic knife pleats I just own the look.

Outfit details

I was stoked to find Pleated Empire is local to Draper! I’m a huge fan of the rebel skirt (featured above) and their Floral Blazer and Mesh Ribbon Skirt.

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