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  • Lizzy House Catnap Contest!

    It's been a long time, and I have in fact made lots of things! They just haven't been photographed since the polar vortex took over and I've been hybernating.

    You have a couple new garments to look forward to once it thaws, including a knockoff J. Crew fluted skirt, a black renfrew hack dress, and soon another Belladone with a way better fitting bodice. But on to important news...

    I finished my Lizzyhouse Catnap dress entry, and though I don't have high hopes for winning the solo contest, I'm feeling pretty excited about entering with the lovely ladies at Gather Here. I already saw Carla's dress and it's wonderful (and strapless!)

    I used the Deer & Doe Belladone, and I absolutely love the look of the dress, however, I had some major pattern fitting issues. Thankfully, I think I know what to change for my next version. My bust measurement was spot on for the 38, so I cut the bodice in a size 38, graded the waist out about a half inch, which I ended up taking back in, and cut the skirt in a 42 with the waist graded up to the 38. But none of that can account for all the issues I had with the back and neckline.

    I chose the Kitty Dreams in white fabric, and originally had plans to make the entire dress out of it, but then a happy accident happened. Gather Here was still waiting for more of the white to come in, so I changed my plan and used some aubergine cotton linen (I think?) blend for the skirt. It drapes really well, and it feels like it could take me from summer into fall. I had just barely enough for the skirt, luckily I did the cute kitty pocket facings. 

    Pros: Love the pockets, the pleats in the skirt, and the overall ease of construction. I cut, adjusted and finished this dress in around 6 hours. The skirt didn't need to be shortened very much (beware if you are tall, I only did a 1.25 inch hem).

    Cons: The back didn't lay flat, but it didn't seem like the bodice was too long. I ended up adding two darts below the top upper back pieces, so for my next version I'll slash that pattern pieces and take out the excess. And I needed to overlap the upper back pieces quite a bit, around 1.5 inches, so that needs to be adjusted. I think the front neckline needs to be slashed as well, there's excess in there. I also don't love the suggested neck bias binding, I think I'll draft a facing for my next version, it just doesn't want to lay flat and I have a tough time wearing bias binding and not feeling crafty. I think it would fit a lot better if that piece had a closure so that it didn't have to be large enough for your head to fit through, that seems overly ambitious though.

    I'm really excited to give it a second go, it's a pattern I can see myself wearing all spring and summer! I already have fabric picked out for a second, it's going to be a bit of a Madewell knockoff.

  • Short ribs, sort of two ways

    This recipe is something I make quite often. It was inspired by tacos that were on the menu last winter at Public (http://www.publiceatanddrink.com/eat) in North Adams. It always varies slightly because I usually make it from memory, but I thought you may enjoy giving it a shot since it's SO delicious and cool weather appropriate so this time around I wrote out a base recipe. The good news is the more you make it, and cook in general, the easier it will be to taste and adjust accordingly. 

    Special tools
    Dutch oven
    Mesh strainer

    Ingredients
    2 lbs of boneless grass fed short ribs 
    1 heaping tablespoon crushed garlic, or 4 cloves chopped garlic
    1/2 cup soy sauce
    1/2 cup water
    Pinch of chinese 5 spice (adjust to taste)
    Teaspoon of dijon mustard
    Teaspoon of fish sauce (start with 1/2 teaspoon, and adjust to taste, I prefer a fair amount, but it's a polarizing condiment)
    Generous bunch of cilantro, roughly chopped
    Ginger, a piece about 2-3 inches long, peeled and thinly sliced
    3 shallots, sliced
    Sesame oil, around 1 tablespoon
    salt and pepper
    Large book choy (no time for babies around here)

    To accompany
    Polenta 
    Corn tacos
    Sriracha

    1. First things first, take out your short ribs so they can get closer to room temp while you prep everything, pat them dry with paper towels and season generously with salt and pepper. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.

    2. Heat up your dutch oven over medium high heat, add the sesame oil and sear the ribs, around 2-3 minutes on each side. Be thorough, get all those little sides. Remove the ribs from the pot and turn the haet off. At this point you have probably made some smoke happen (if you didn't, you probably aren't doing it right, it should be quite hot!) so you want to let the oil cool down, but don't rinse the crunchy burnt pieces out of pot.

    3. Once the pan has cooled, put the heat on low and add in your shallots and ginger, saute for around 5 minutes. Add in the garlic last since it burns easiest, cook for an additional minute.

    4. Add in all your remaining ingredients, bring that mix up to a boil, place the ribs back in, cover the pot and move the whole thing into the oven. There should be quite a bit of liquid, mine didn't quite cover the meat but it was almost level.

    5. Bake for around 3 hours. Carefully remove the lid once you take them out, don't forget it will be hot! I wish this wasn't true but I've burnt the palm of my hand many times because I was way too excited and forgot the lid had been in the oven. Take the ribs out of the mixture.

    6. Strain the sauce, I know this seems meticulous, but it makes the world of difference because you don't want little pieces of shallots, ginger, and cilantro in your final meal. After you strain it, put it back into the pot, break up the meat and decide what food you want to eat this on top of. It's a tough call.

    I like to serve these with bok choy, I chop the white root part of the book choy about 1/2 inch wide and keep it separate from the leaves, also roughly chopped. Heat up a skillet (preferably cast iron) on medium high, throw in the white parts, cook for about 5 minutes, add in the leaves and a small splash of soy sauce, sauté for 2 minutes and then call it done.

    Tonight I ate these two ways, first with the boy choy on a corn tortilla, a direct copy of the tacos, and second over a small fried polenta "pancake". 

  • A bit late on this Ava.

    Life has been so busy this past month, but in the absolute best of ways. I started my new job at Moo, spent a week in the London headquarters, got to meet so many awesome new friends, and I'm still working on some fun personal projects!

    This top was finished a couple weeks ago, I knew I wanted to bring it on my trip. The fabric is a beautiful silk blend that I picked up in the beginning of the summer with plans to make culottes before realizing I didn't actually buy enough fabric. What a happy accident, the drape is perfect for this peplum top. It holds it's shape enough without being too full. 

    This was my first time sewing with stretch mesh, and as much as I would love to say it was the last, I purchased about 4 yards in a variety of colors and I do love the final product. It was absolutely the most tedious sewing I've done to date. It's basically sewing fabric that is entirely made of holes.

    This was my first time with this fancy zipper installation as well, I think it looks the most professional. I don't know what it's officially called, not a lapped, not an invisible, but it's nicely hidden and reminds me most of high quality store bought clothing.

    The pattern is the Victory Ava and I already have plans to make the dress version. I graded from a 4 down to a 6 at the waist, and when I remake I will just cut a straight up 4. I will also go with my gut feeling and staystich. I didn't on this version and definitely had some stretching issues. I put the zipper in, tried it on, and ended up taking in both side seems around an inch, which inevitably meant ripping out a perfect zipper and doing it all over again.

    I'm only 5'1 and very short-wasted, so I imagine if you are of average height and long waisted you may want to lengthen the top bodice portion so that it doesn't start looking like an empire waist.

    jeans :: madewell, very old  |  shoes :: Jessica Simpson  |  bracelets and watch, both Kate Spade 

  • Cowgirls can wear ruffles

    { Blouse, Self made  ::  Jeans, old J. Crew  ::   Wedges, Dolce Vita via Marshalls }

    This is definitely my most advanced project yet and I coudn't be more excited about the final result. The pattern is the very popular Grainline Archer button up, and let me tell you, it's wonderful! The pattern has two options for the back. A simple, classic silhouette and the gathered ruffle back that I chose. It really is a fun top that I'm glad is now part of my wardrobe. 

    The fabric is something I had been eyeing for a few weeks at Gather Here but could not decide what I should use it for. The cowgirls ended up being the perfect design element for the back of this blouse. It could definitely skew at bit childish but I think using them just on the back ends up being right in that cutesy sweet spot I really like.

    For buttons I went with a contrasting gold with pink faux enamel button that I had hidden in my stash for a while. 

    Overall I would absolutely reccomend this pattern. Though I made this blouse as part of a class, I feel comfortable that given the clear instructions I could have made it through on my own if I had tried, I just prefer the social aspect of sewing classes. The most challenging aspect for me was that I chose to use silk that was a bit slippery and I didn't have any spray stabilizer so cutting was rather tedious. 

  • Summer salad juevos

    We were supposed to have the standard juevos rancheros for dinner tonight, they make a very regular appearence in our weeknight dinner rotation, but I had leftover summer salad from last night, as well as some black forest bacon, so this happened.

    First things first, start off by making this salad and if you are only feeding 2 people, eat it as a side dish for dinner one night. We had ours on Monday with a marinated buffalo sirloin. The salad is impossible to mess up, you basically just mix any veggies you like with lime juice and cilantro.

    This version makes 4 servings.

    Summer Salad

    • 1 can of black beans, rinsed
    • half a bag of frozen corn, defrosted by running under cold water
    • 2 avocados, (1 chopped, 1 reserved) 
    • 1 large heirloom tomato, chopped 
    • Generous handful of cilantro roughly chopped
    • Juice of 1 lime

    1. Mix everything together except for the second avocado which you will need for the second time you eat this salad.

    2. ENJOY!

    Day two Juevos ingredients

    • 4 slices thick cut bacon, cut into 1/4 strips 
    • I prefer the black forest variety they sell at the butcher's counter in Whole Foods
    • 4 eggs
    • 4 small corn tortillas, if you can I recomend you find the very thick homemade variety, (our corner bodega carries them) 
    • Remaining avocado, chopped
    • Sriracha

    1. Cook the bacon over medium high heat in a dutch oven until crispy, turn the heat off on the pan and remove the bacon.

    2. I brushed my cast iron griddle with some of the bacon fat, and toasted the tortillas in that on the stove top. While not technically "necessary" I will always choose bacon fat over butter/oil/any other fat.

    3. Toss the leftover salad along with the bacon in the still warm dutch oven, if you notice it's a it watery at the bottom of the salad bowl, just do your best to avoid pouring all that extra liquid in.

    4. Fry up 4 eggs to your liking, but know that I will absolutely be judging you if they don't have runny yolks.

    5. Top with Sriracha, and dig in.

    My brother had given us a dozen eggs from his chickens, so tonights yolk was even more delicious than usual.

  • Anchors away

    Last week I finished up this blouse in 2 nights. It's the Lisette market blouse, it was quite simple to fit and easy to sew. I had picked up this pattern ages ago on sale, thinking I might possibly make the skirt, but then it sat around in the studio for a year and I never really felt excited about making it. I tend to always make dresses, and realized I really needed to focus on making summer blouses so I went through all the patterns I owned and figured why not!

    Jeans, J. Crew :: Bag, Madewell :: Shoes, Spring Step

    The only adjustment I made on this version was my usual shortening of the bodice. I cut out the shoulders, sleeves, and upper torso in a 10 and graded from a couple inches below the bust dart down into the 14 so I would have a bit more room in the hip. I'm planning on adding back darts to the next version as this is still a bit boxy, but perfect for tucking in. For the first time ever I found this pattern to be rather short, I would absolutely add length if you have an average or long torso. 

    Wanting to wear something I've made to a specific event is always the best motivation. I wore this little nautical number to the Etsy Global Craft party at Gather Here on Thursday evening. We made toys for kids at Boston Children's Hospital. I made what started out as a white peacock finger puppet but ended up looking a bit more like a purple turkey. 

  • Mint eyelet peony

    The first of my summer dresses is complete! I have a long list of hopefuls, but I think a polka dot chevron version of the Clara dress will be next.

    This was my first attempt at a fully lined dress, I had done a lined bodice on the Colette Hazel, but that was last summer. It's old news that I tend to hate facings, I find them fussy, so it was thrilling to make this with NO facings! I even attempted to match the pattern perfectly on this piece, and create my own Chevron effect. The inspiration for this dress came months ago when I bought 4 yards of very light mint striped eyelett at Sewfisticated for $2/yard. 

    The light was beautiful out on our street Sunday evening. We snapped some photos before heading out to Saloon for a friends birthday. If you like whiskey, that's a great spot to check out, and all of their printed materials are so beautifully designed. They even have letterpressed business cards!

    I love that you can see the lining fabric peaking out in this shot, it's one of my favorite parts of the dress! The bright chartruese cotton voile is so comfy for summer and makes the overlayed eyelet a beautiful shade of mint. I felt transported back to Venice in this shot, if only those steps were actually leading out onto a beautiful canal. Instead we were surrounded by locals who thought we were crazy for having a photoshoot.

    {Shoes, Boden :: Sunglasses, Anthro :: Earrings & belt, Target :: The blue topaz ring was my great grandmothers}

    Overall I don't think I would make the Peony again, I found the bust darts to be pretty tough to work with. These are still way too long, but they eliminated the dreaded pointy bust, so I gave up. The boat neck is also pretty high for me, I know I could lower it, but I already have a similar bodice that fits from my New Years dress. Next time I could pop that bodice on to an A-line skirt and be happier in the end. I did end up french seaming as often as I could, and my zipper went in successfully on the first go-around. Overall I would call this dress a huge success and I look forward to wearing it in to Sewing Club tomorrow evening at Grey's Fabric!

  • What we ate this week

    I've been keeping things a little bit more casual as far as meal planning goes and just buying meat and produce that's on sale. So instead of giving you my meal plan for the week, I'll give you a run down of what we actually ate. 

    Monday: Asian inspired sloppy joe's with a cabbage slaw in a sesame lime vinagrette

    This was the only meal we had planned for the week as it was in the last issue of Real Simple, and I'm so glad I had made the sandwich filling on Sunday because coming home from work Monday was treacherous and having something ready made it much more manageble. 

    Tuesday: This was, to put it very mildly, a weird day. I'm not going to get into it because I myself have been so overwhelmed by all of the emotions and press from the week, but needless to say I was desperately in need of some comfort food. I finally ventured outside to pick up some bacon and proceeded to make my most delicious BLT to date, it included roasted tomatoes, arugala, aioli & Iggy's bread.

    Wednesday: Eggs. It wouldn't be a normal week without them. Multigrain english muffin, avocado, tomatoes, bacon & Sriracha. I feel like this could be the recipe to get Hilary on board with a runny yolk.

    Thursday: In the morning I popped in to Courthouse and grabbed some flounder. Roasted tomatoes accompanied it along with garlic shrimp. I quickly pulsed some leftover bread with olive oil, spread spicy mustard on the filets, topped them with the bread crumbs and roasted them in the oven which was already hot from the tomatoes.

    Guys, I might be taking a page out of Jennifer Aniston's lunch book and eating the same salad for approximately 10 years {I swear, she did!}. We roasted some chicken breasts Monday evening to eat in lunches and I proceeded to eat this for the majority of the week. Friday is saved for Mei Mei.

    Arugala, grape tomatoes, avocado, chicken, all tossed with Goddess dressing, duh!

  • It's Easter prep time

    Good evening! Man this weekend went by way too fast, and it's officially one week until I host Easter here at the Luonch Ranch. If anyone else out there has an upcoming dinner, below is how I like the two weeks before any event to play out.

    Two weeks ahead:
    Plan menu 
    Design any stationary that may be needed during the dinner party 

    One week ahead:
    Create a schedule (I like to make a google doc so I always have access)
    Make my shopping list, include all different necessary shops 

    Friday:
    Pick up any speciality shop items that won't spoil
    Pick out and label serving pieces with post-it's so that it's easy for someone to help you with setup
    Color Easter Eggs 

    Saturday:
    Pick up lamb
    Pick up clams as late in the day as possible
    Prep as much as possible!
    Chop veggies
    Make salad dressing, chutney & gremolata
    Make Soup
    Set the table 

    Sunday:
    Prep lamb in the morning so the herb rub can really soak in
    Reheat soup
    Cook everything and take note of how smoothly everything will run since you prepped so much!
    Arrange and dress salad immediately before serving 

    I don't want to give away our full menu, but here's a little taste. I'm really looking forward to spending the day with my family, especially Lorenzo, we might even try to get a little ice skating time in!


     

  • Porches: Take 4

    Porches: Take 4

    Every year Tony and I take a trip out to the Berkshires. We always take the same photo on a hairpin turn at the top of a mountain on the Mohawk Trail.

    One day I envision us having these all displayed down a long hallway, hopefully a puppy will make an appearence in the later years.