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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Purse Organizer

I saw a long time ago on late night infomercial TV, a commercial for a purse organizer. They sold it as a great way to keep track of things, but to me it is a great way to take the essentials from one bag to another - very important for me right now not because I have so many handbags, but because I don't want to carry my purse to night school when I have plenty of room in my backpack - thus I made a mini purse organizer.

Step 1 was to figure out how big - I laid out the items that I need to keep in my purse and want to take to class. I then allowed for 1/2" seam (1/4" seam allowance on each of the sides). I also allowed space for the bulk of the items in each pocket. I then wanted to fold the organizer up to make the pockets about 3 inches.

Cutting the fabric - for my organizer, I used 2 pieces (one liner and one for the outer fabric) of fabric that measured 21" x 9" plus I used a piece of receiving blanket also 21" x 9" instead of interfacing - still trying to get rid of all this nursery flannel and using it in place of interfacing where I can.

Lay the right sides together of the liner and the outer fabric, then place the interfacing/receiving blanket on top of wrong side of the liner. Stitch together with a 1/4" seam allowance around all sides, leaving a 2" gap at the bottom for turning.

Clip corners and trim seam allowance, then turn inside out. Press, then edge stitch the entire rectangle. Fold 3" from the bottom up with the liner fabric facing you so that the liner stays on the inside. Stitch the left and right side so you have one big pocket. Measure where your pockets will go, mark with chalk and pin in place. Sew each line from bottom to top.

Place your goodies in the pockets, then wrap either around itself, or you can place it so that the items line the bag instead of wrapping around itself. Now you can easily transfer bags, or easily find your stuff in the pockets.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Aloo Gobi (Indian potatoes and cauliflower)

I have lost touch with an Indian friend of mine who had me over for dinner one day when his mom was in town. She made the best aloo gobi I have ever had and shared the recipe with me. I have not made it in years, but was craving this yesterday. I cannot find the recipe now and am quite bothered by this because there were two other recipes that she gave me that I loved as well. I searched high and low on the internet and in the Joy of Cooking, and could not find anything that had all the same ingredients that I remembered hers having, so this is a compilation of a several recipes and an experiment that went very well this afternoon. My friend's mom's recipe was much drier than this one, so there will be further experiments - this has canned tomatoes to make it stew like.

Aloo Gobi

1/4 cup grapeseed oil (or other light oil with high smoke point)
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1 bunch fresh cilantro - separate stalks from leaves - fine chop stalks and rough chop leaves
2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp red pepper flake - adjust to taste
20 oz can crushed tomatoes and juices
1 head cauliflower - with florets separated into bite size pieces
5 medium potatoes - cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 cup water
1 inch piece of ginger, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced

Heat oil in dutch oven - add the chopped onion and cumin to the oil. Saute until translucent.
Add chopped cilantro stalks, turmeric, sea salt and red pepper flake. Mix until well incorporated - almost to a paste.
Add tomatoes, ginger and garlic - stir thoroughly
Add potatoes and cauliflower - Add water and stir
Cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until potatoes are cooked through
Add cilantro leaves
Turn off heat, cover and leave for about 30 minutes (if you can wait that long) The longer this stews, the better. If you can't wait, it is pretty tasty fresh from the stove too.

This is prior to stewing without heat, but still on the burner.

My son's portion - he wanted me to take a picture of his food since I took a picture of my food. This was too hot for him - next time, I'll probably use about 1/8 - 1/4 tsp of red pepper flake. I used red pepper flake instead of a chili thinking I could better control the heat.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Cat toy tutorial

It seems that the kitties were not getting any love around here lately so I decided to use some of my scrap receiving blanket stash to make them a toy. I thought about making a simple ball, but then found this great rat toy template from Martha Stewart. The pattern is for a felt rat that is hot glued together. My cats would destroy that in minutes, so I opted to sew it, put some felt ears on it, fill it with catnip and fiberfill, and put a rope tail on it.

This is my first tutorial so please provide feedback and ask questions. I do recommend if you make this, make sure the kitties are not in the sewing room because they could not wait for it to be finished.

You can make this from scrap - I used a small rectangle of receiving blanket and about an inch square of felt for the ears. You also need a 3 inch piece of rope for the tail, a tablespoon of catnip, and two big handfuls of polyfil. Pattern pieces cut out - then I realized I have two of the same side so I cut a reverse of the rat side shape.

Cut a slit halfway into the ear, then fold over about 1/4". I then sewed a V shape into the ear so it would stick up a little bit.

Place right sides together of the two rat sides and sew with about 1/4" seam allowance - I did 1/8" so the rat would be bigger.

Turn the two sides right sides out, then mark two eyes and a nose with either chalk or a water soluble marker. I used the button hole foot (accidentally) but it worked really well. I did a very tight zig zag stitch for the eyes and the nose. This rat has no mouth, but you could add one - I just couldn't picture the rat's expression since I knew this was going to be a toy to torment kitties.

Turn inside out and sew the bottom on and leave about 2" at the base of the tail for turning and for stuffing.

Turn the mouse right side out, fill the nose with at least 1 Tbls of cat nip, then stuff with a washable polyfill. As you can see, the one kitty was ready for this to be done right away. They love catnip. My son had a great time stuffing the toy.

More stuffing - we used a chopstick to press it into the edges and get the mouse into shape. Stuff it loosely, not too full.

Once you finish stuffing, take a piece of rope about 3 inches long, insert into the opening. Tie a knot into the end of the rope. (Don't worry about the end past the knot fraying. Any products to prevent fraying would be toxic to the kitty.) Pin the rope into place so it does not move while you reinforce your seams. Fold the ends by the tail in and edge stitch around the rat on all sides. Reinforce the tail - sew straight over it a few times - this will be tugged on so you do not want to rat falling apart at the tail after you reinforced all those seams.

Final rat - cute little thing.

First examination of the toy... and to see who would win first chance at the kill...

And once it was caught... I am really glad I reinforced the tail because he started pulling on it with his teeth and pushing on the body - he was determined to pull the thing apart but it has held up for hours of play!

Train Shoe Holder

This was a really fun project. With each new project, I learn a lot of lessons on what I would do next time, and this was no exception, except that I doubt I will make this one again, but who knows...

I got the pattern and instructions from the book Sew It Tonight, Give It Tomorrow, which ironically took me about 4 nights to finish. My son already loves it and kept checking on my progress daily. "Is the choo cho train finished now, mommy?" What better motivation than to have your two year old check on a project. Now having been a project manager in my previous life, and having these sort of projects - I will say that having a deadline slip with a two-year old is more intimidating than the call to a client to say that a deadline has slipped.

Shoe holder in action - my toddler loves putting things away so this is perfect because he didn't have anywhere that his shoes belonged other than the floor of his closet. Another step toward independence!

I had to include this because the cat really enjoyed this project too. This was the felt for the train wheels, and other black parts. There is enough left over from this and the car fleece from the car organize project that I can make another kitty bed.

No Mother Left Behind