Wednesday, May 26, 2010

We have a winner!

Thanks to everyone who left comments to enter my very first giveaway.  I've had fun visiting your blogs and getting to virtually know you better!  Isn't it amazing how much creativity is out there?

If you are not the winner this time, don't despair!  I have an exciting giveaway lined up for the first week of June.....we'll be able to have three winners for this stay tuned!

 The randomly selected winner of the $5 Target Gift Card (use it to try Method's cleaning products) and the apron is:

Emily of Frilly Details

Congratulations, Emily!  I'll be contacting you for shipping info.  Hope you'll enjoy having an apron to wear, soon.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Goodwill Dress to Apron--in a Flash!

I'm so excited to show this to you!  (And no, it's not the sewing room yet....sorry.)  If you are here for the first time, I just announced my first giveaway last week.  It officially ends over there and get yourself signed up for the drawing!  I announced that I'd be giving away a Target gift card for purchasing some of the Method cleaning products I've recently discovered, and I hinted that there would be an apron, too....for wearing while you are cleaning, naturally.

Here she is!

I had a lot of fun with this one.  Let me tell you her story.

Once upon a time last week, I dropped by Goodwill to check in on the glass.  I was in the mood for making more apothecary jars--and possibly some cake stands, too--for my new sewing room.  On the way to the glass aisle, I passed the Wall of Dresses.  I rarely ever give the Wall of Dresses anything more than a passing glance.  Usually that passing glance lands upon someone's old bridesmaid dress, and I have a quiet giggle.

This time, however, was different.  My passing glance paused upon these two dresses.
 It was the fabric that did it.  The fabric and that ruffle on the brown one.  I would never be caught dead in either of these dresses as dresses.  But it was like the brown one spoke to me.  She plead with me, a tinge of desperation in her voice, saying, "Please, please help me.  I'm not supposed to be a dress.  I was never meant to be worn to the beach.  Can't you see, I'm an apron?"

I gasped.  It was true!  She was meant to be an apron.  I couldn't leave her there on the Wall of Dresses, to be taken home and worn to summer soirees as the dress she was never supposed to be.  No, it was up to me to restore her to her rightful life as an apron.  She begged me to take along her pretty little friend with the embroidery, too.

I don't think her friend was supposed to be an apron, but apparently she wasn't reaching her full potential as a dress.  I mean, look:  she still had her price tag attached.  She'd never been worn.

The price tag is marked $58.00.  Score!

So I took her home to my sewing room, too, and prepared to give these two beauties new life.  As aprons!

(Um, sorry if I'm giving you the creeps.  Sometimes my imagination runs away with me.  Plus, I have an English degree.  I can turn any event into a novel, even a trip to Goodwill.)

 I started with the pretty pastel dress.  First, I used my seam ripper to take the two halves of the dress apart and pull off the zipper.
It was waaaaaay easier to take apart than it should have been.  Just think what would have happened if I hadn't come along and purchased this dress--someone could have bought this dress, zipped herself into it, worn it to her cousin's wedding, and then could have had a very embarrassing experience when the seam split as she was dancing to "Achy Breaky Heart."  Yep, I did everyone at that wedding a big favor, by turning this little number into an apron, didn't I?

Anyway, I felt a slight twinge of guilt as I deconstructed this never-before-worn dress, but it was very slight.  I mean, seriously, it was $4.99 at Goodwill.  I decided I could actually make two aprons out of this one dress!  What a steal!
Once I was done with the seam ripper, I had two halves of a dress and a zipper, as well as the original price tag and little bag of straps I found as I was taking apart the dress.  Did I mention how much I like the embroidery going on here?
Also, did I mention that this fabric is machine washable?

The bodice of this dress has boning in it.  I decided to leave it in, just to give the apron some unexpected structure.  I'm sure that if I had wanted to, I could have taken that out easily.

Once I'd deconstructed the dress, I picked one half to repurpose as an apron.  I chose the front.  I pinned the ripped seams back on their original folds, and stitched them down with my machine.  Bonus that these seams were serged already.

Next, I made the strap for the neck of my apron and the two apron ties.  I decided on a single, adjustable strap.  (How adjustable it will be since my sewing machine doesn't do button holes remains to be seen.)  I measured and cut out the fabric accordingly: one strip of 3-1/2" x 14" (on the fold) for the strap,  2 strips of 6-1/2" x 22" (on the fold) for the apron ties.
I ironed 1/4" folds on the end of each strip.
I folded and ironed each strip in half, with the ironed 1/4" folds showing.
Then I sewed a 1/2" seam down each strip.
It looked like this when I was done.  See how the folded ends are exposed?  Also see how old my sewing machine is?  I bought it used not long after the Bionic Man and I were married.  It must have been at least 25 years old when I acquired it.  It still does the job!
I ironed the seams open.
I turned each strip inside out.  I use a dowel to help me do this.  The dowel pushes the fabric up through, much more easily than my hands will.

Once the strips were turned right side out, I ironed them flat
and sewed all the way around, very close the edge of each strip.

Then I sewed the strap and ties in place on the apron.

Every good apron needs a pocket and deserves a little embellishment.  So, I cut out a rectangle of fabric for my pocket.  I trimmed the pocket using one of the removable straps from the former dress and sewed it into place.
I added fabric yoyos to the pocket and to one of the upper corners of the apron.  (Hmmm.  As I'm looking at the pocket now, I have a feeling I forgot to make sure it wasn't cut on the bias.  Probably why it is so wrinkly.  Live, sew, and learn!)  Yoyos are unbelievably easy embellishments.  I learned to make mine using Heather Bailey's tutorial.

Voila!  The bridesmaid's dress that was never meant to be has a new life as a pretty apron.

Don't forget to enter the giveaway so that this darling apron will find a home!  Click here to enter the have until tonight, May 25th, at 9 P.M. EST to enter.

I'm linking up to these parties



 The DIY Show Off


Giveaway EXTENDED....

A quick note about my first giveaway, which was supposed to end last night at 6 P.M:

I've extended it until 6 P.M. tonight!

Why?  Well, mainly because I had to have general anesthesia yesterday for a little medical procedure, which meant I spent most of the day feeling completely loopy, and that I fell asleep at 6 P.M. instead of randomly selecting a winner.  My apologies!  

The Bionic Man had some stuff at work he couldn't get out of, so my friend Angie was good enough to join me for my little hospital adventure.  She reports that I'm just as talkative coming out of anesthesia as I am when I fully conscious.  Apparently, I asked her, the nurse, the doctor, and anyone else who entered the room all about their summer vacation plans.....several times each.  Thanks for listening, Angie!  I still can't remember where you are going on your summer vacation, but it does appear my subconscious self is taking the summer months very seriously.  A sign that I'm in good mental health--what if I'd been repetitively talking about how much laundry I have to do this week?

Anyway, I'll have some pictures up later today of the cute apron I'm including in the giveaway.  

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Whole Wheat: It's Not Just for Breakfast

Welcome to the very first edition of.....
Whole Wheat: 
It's Not Just for Breakfast

This is where I show and tell about how I incorporate whole grain wheat into my family's diet.  You can read more about my whole grain philosophy and practice here.   

Today, I'm going to share the recipe for what we had for dinner last night.
This is good, good stuff, folks!  Not only is it healthful, delicious, and easy to make, but pizza made with whole wheat is far more filling than a traditional crust.  You'll actually get more yummy mileage from a pan of this stuff--generous leftovers or enough to feed a crowd.

Here we go.  First, you need to assemble the ingredients for the crust.

Ingredients for Whole Wheat Pizza Crust:
* These amounts will make one large pizza crust.  When I make pizza, I double these amounts so that I can have two pizzas. 

1 rounded tablespoon yeast (my favorite is SAF instant)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup warm water
2 tablespoons cooking oil (I prefer canola)
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup white flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

Instructions for making whole wheat pizza crust:
Begin by dissolving the yeast in warm water with sugar.  Because I use instant yeast, I toss it into the sugar and water and just whisk them altogether.  The yeast dissolves very quickly, making the water cloudy.
Next, pour the oil into a mixing bowl.  (I used my Kitchenaid mixer.)  Gently tilt your bowl around in a circle, so that you coat the sides about halfway up with oil.

Once you've done that, you can pour in the yeast mixture.

Next, add about half of the flour and all of the salt.  It will look something like this.  You can read more about how I get the best whole wheat flour here.  
Now, you can turn on your mixer, or stir by hand, if you prefer.  It should blend together fairly quickly.  Go ahead and add the rest of the flour if you are using a mixer.  If you are stirring by hand, knead the rest of the flour into the dough.

At this point, feel free to pull out your pizza pan and preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  

Once you've mixed in all the dry ingredients, your dough is going to look something like this.  It will be soft and sticky.  
Toss 1/4 cup of flour (white or wheat, your choice) onto your countertop or breadboard.  Take the dough out of the mixing bowl and drop it onto the flour.  Knead the flour and dough together for 1-2 minutes.   The dough will look like this before kneading:
After kneading, your dough will be less sticky and more smooth, more like this:
After kneading, pick up the dough ball and make sure there is a little flour underneath it before you set it back down.  This will keep it from sticking.  Let the dough rest for 5-10 minutes.

While the dough is resting, prepare your pizza pan and toppings.  I like to spray my pan with non-stick spray, then sprinkle a little cornmeal over that.  I have a pizza stone that I use sometimes, but I like using a large cookie sheet for pizza.  The rectangular size makes it easier to top sections of the pizza differently.

Most of the toppings I decided to use last night were already in my refrigerator or pantry:

Sauces - marinara (leftover from spaghetti night last week), alfredo sauce, barbeque sauce (Sweet Baby Ray's is THE BOMB)
Meats - pepperoni, grilled chicken breast strips
Veggies - zucchini (thinly sliced), red onion, mushrooms, sliced olives, fire-roasted red peppers (I really, really wanted fresh basil, but I don't have any in my garden, yet, and I couldn't find any at the store, either!)
Cheeses - mozzarella, parmesan

Assembling the toppings shouldn't take too long, but there will still be time while the crust starts to bake, so make sure you go back to that dough I told you to leave on the counter for 5-10 minutes.  Hopefully, it is still there!  Stretch and press it evenly across the bottom of the pan.  It will be thin, very thin.  (For now--it will rise while baking, giving a more substantial crust.)  Prick the crust several times with a fork before putting it into your preheated, 425 degree oven,  Let it bake without toppings for about 10 minutes.

Pull the crust out of the oven, and throw on your favorite toppings.  Put the topped pizza crust back into the oven for another 10-15 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Last night, I tried these topping combos on our pizzas:

Traditional Pepperoni - marinara, pepperoni, mozzarella
Mushroom Pepperoni - same as above, with mushrooms
Traditional Vegetarian - marinara, zucchini, mushrooms, onions, olives, mozzarella
Italian White Pizza - alfredo sauce, grilled chicken, zucchini, onions, olives, parmesan, mozzarella
BBQ Chicken - BBQ sauce, grilled chicken, onions, mushrooms, mozzarella

When you finally pull your pizza out of the oven, it will look something like this: of those pizzas got a little too toasty, but it was still delicious!

Again, mmmm.  If you baked your pizza on a large sheet pan, you can slice it into small squares.   Like I said before, this is very filling pizza.  

Last night, we enjoyed our pizza with a fresh, green salad and some watermelon cubes.  Can you say "YUM?"  
Note:  Special thanks to two of my real-life friends, Amy G. and Joyce B.  for inspiring this recipe for Gourmet Whole Wheat Pizza.  The first time I tasted a whole wheat pizza with zucchini on it was at Amy's house.  I adapted Joyce's fail-proof pizza crust recipe to use whole wheat.  

Did you know I'm hosting my first-ever giveaway right now?  Click here to enter.  


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