Life Recently

I’ll be honest, I haven’t been the best about taking photos of my daily life since we’ve gotten back from Paris. For one thing I took thousands of pictures while we were there, and my trigger finger just might need the tiniest of breaks. Second, everything feels kind of “meh” in comparison. I think I’ve got a vacation hangover. I’m slowly snapping out of it, but it was rough the first week home.

I’ve been trying to perfect a good french baguette recipe to make once or twice a week. I’ve learned three things so far. The best baguettes seem to take the longest to rise, have the most amount of kneading, and the least amount of ingredients. Once I get it perfected I plan on sharing the recipe so you don’t have to struggle through the endless variations on the baguette.

Brian and I went to brunch at a new place in Clifton called the Hang Over Easy, with our friend Destiny, her son Oliver, and Brian B. Not only did we sit outside on the most glorious day ever, but they had a grassy lawn and fountain out back as well. I took neither photos of the lawn, or of my food. Let’s blame the 3$ bloody mary’s shall we?

These creepy crawlies were making a home on my mulberry tree just off the deck. Everything was cool until they ate like half the branch, so they were terminated. I think they were webworms? But I also thought they didn’t come out until the fall? Anyone else know?

Before we attended a preview screening of the movie Obvious Child, which was great by the way, we went to one of the few places that serves Jamaican food in Cincinnati. Ena’s Jerkmania serves spicy, delicious and cheap food. While it’s a bit of a hike from my normal stomping grounds, it’s worth it. Try the spicy fries, and the Jamaican pattys!

Anything exciting happen recently for you, dear readers?

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Sew Caroline Waterfall Tank

I was lucky enough to be offered the chance to be a pattern tester for the upcoming Sew Caroline pattern, the waterfall tank! Full disclaimer I was offered the pattern for free in exchange for feedback to improve and test the pattern before final release. I was not paid to create this garment, and the supply costs came out of my own pocket. I used an older Lisette quilting cotton print, some vintage silk thread, and self made bias tape.

The pattern is simple and pretty versatile. It uses a small amount of fabric that would make it great for stash busting. You could use a different fabric for the ruffle and try to use up your fabric scraps!

The top is very floaty and blousey which makes it an awesome summer staple. I will say though to check the finished garment measurements, you may want to size down if you want something with a bit less volume. I think if I were to sew this again I would definitely size down. It’s not a matter of a pattern issue so much as personal preference. 

I did do a rolled hem on the bottom as opposed to a traditional hem. I have a very long torso and found this to be a bit short on me. Regular torsos should be fine though! Fun fact, the Colette Sorbetto basically looks like a crop top on me without modification.

Paris: Sacré-Cœur

The first sight we saw was the closest to our little Paris Apartment, Basilique du Sacré-Cœur. We went bright and early around 9:30 to beat the crowds. We had learned the day before when we were looking for some place to eat that this place gets crazy crowded just after lunch. So we hiked the what felt like endless steps just to get to the church. You could always take the funiculaire, but at 8 euros, I’d rather just suck it up. The day was lovely, and even though I was panting like a dog by the time we reached the entrance it wasn’t all that horrible to make it up to the top of the hill. The view from the hill alone is amazing, check out the panoramic photo below!

The view fron the front steps of the church. click to enlarge

The inside of the church was beautiful. Entrance to the chapel is free. Although the church was completed in 1914 it feels much older. Technically you aren’t “supposed to” take photos in the chapel area. I did sneak a few, but no one was the wiser. They’re were some tourists using flash, throwing up peace signs, and getting yelled at accordingly. I just turned the flash off, and kind of blindly aimed. The three photos below are the only ones I got of the chapel, and believe me they don’t do it justice. It’s breathtaking. 

The crypt and the dome aren’t free, but you can buy a combined ticket for about 8 euro. Neither of these are covered by the Paris museum pass, so go ahead and bite the bullet and get the combined ticket at the basilica. If you get there early, just remember the french seem to have a much looser sense of time than most Americans do. If the posted hours are that the dome and crypt open at 10, it might not be until 10:30 that someone actually arrives at the ticket booth. 

The photos below are from the crypte. It was dead (get it?) when we were there, which made it feel a bit spooky. It’s worth a look, there’s so very cool stained glass, bones, and statues. It’s also very cool temperature wise. You’ll need a bit of a break before you attempt to climb to the top of the dome anyway.

My favorite part of the basilica was most definitely the dome. It’s a “brisk” 300 step climb, in a mostly winding, very claustrophobic staircase. As we climbed them some German children behind us counted every step, which was super cute. You have to climb a few staircases after the first tower’s steps to make it to the final tower to reach the top. Be prepared for pigeon poop! It was neat to see the gargoyles up close, and still be close enough to the ground to see the hustle and bustle starting to pick up at the shops around Sacre Coeur. Make sure to stop and take in the sights at the halfway point as well!

Worth. every. step.

This is actually the first time I saw the Effiel tower, definitely breath taking. Also the first time I saw the monolith that is Montparnasse tower, which is pretty hideous if you ask me. Then again people hated the Effiel tower as well, so maybe time will prove me wrong. Sacre Coeur is the highest point in all of Paris, you can see practically everything in the entire city. Alternatively, you can see the dome, and most of la butte Montmarte from everywhere else in the city as well. It was a great way to start our trip, and well worth the eight euro! 

The Bedrooms of my Past #nojudgement

I read this post on design sponge yesterday all about childhood bedrooms. I thought it’d be fun to share some of my past bedrooms. I had to actually do a decent amount of livejournal digging to find these. Starting with my “childhood” bedroom. My parents are both Navy and divorced, we moved a lot. This is the last bedroom I had where I didn’t pay the rent, from ages 14-18. It’s not as horrible as you would expect! 

I’ve always had pretty much free reign over how my room looks. I got to pick that paint color, that I still would use in my house today. I still like most of the stuff in here, even if it feels a bit juvenile. I still have the bedspread, and art in the black frames! The rest I either “lost” when I left certain roommates, or got destroyed just with good old wear and tear.  

I have more old bedroom photos from more recent places, but let me know if this kind of post is interesting to you!

What did you childhood room look like?

Simple & Quick Homemade Bread

I’m honestly not the best baker. I’m one that excels at things more friendly to the “winging it” life approach. Since baking is a science, it doesn’t always work out when you are a culinary free spirit so to speak. My sister, a literal rocket scientist at NASA is a great baker. But since I didn’t have anything else going on yesterday night, I figured why not? Here’s a super simple bread recipe that even I didn’t screw up. The whole thing, even the proofing and rising, takes under an hour to make! 

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1/4 a stick of melted butter
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. (2 packages) dry yeast
  • 3 tsp. sugar
  • 3 1/3 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. salt

Preheat Oven to 450 degrees F. In a Large Mixing bowl combine 1/2 cup of the warm water, yeast and 2 tsp. of the sugar. Cover with a towel to let yeast proof. 

In a separate large bowl mix flour, salt, and remaining sugar thoroughly.

Check on your yeast. If it’s become foamy, that means that it’s proofed. If it looks like the photo below you’re good to go!

Gradually combine your flour mixture, remaining water, and yeast mixture until it becomes a dough. Turn out onto flour surface. 

Knead your dough until it becomes a smooth ball. Cut that ball into two and form to long baguette shapes.  Place the loafs onto a slightly floured baking sheet. If your feeling fancy you can snip the top, or slice it down the middle. Cover with towel and let rise 30 minutes.

Fill a baking pan, I used a 9×13, halfway with water and place on the rack under where the bread will bake. Steaming bread is good, but don’t ask me why, I’m not a baker. I’m just doing what I’ve been taught. Set timer for 15 minutes.

After the fifteen minutes butter the breads generously. Bake for another 15 minutes. 

Remove from the oven and let cool. Voila! Simple and Quick bread you could make everyday if your wanted to. Really, even I can’t screw it up!

Do you have a favorite bread recipe Readers? Anyone else, like me, not the worlds best baker?

Summer Sewing Plans!

So I’ve been kind of lax on sewing lately. Sometimes you’ve got the bug to stitch, other times you don’t. Summer has always been a big sewing time for me! Nothing better than stitching up sundress and floaty tops. I thought I’d share what I’m itching to stitch these next couple months. 

First up, the bombshell swimsuit, the whole reason I purchased Pattern Parcel 3. I’ve had it on my wishlist since last summer, but was always kind of intimidated because of the whole never having worked with knit. Thanks to Moneta and Mabel I’ve somewhat conquered that fear. Still I never sewn swimwear, but this pattern has great reviews so fingers crossed?

April Rhodes Staple Dress. This pattern is one I liked, but not enough to buy on it’s own. The fact that it was also in Pattern Parcel three was just an added bonus. I’ve never shirred anything before, so that should be interesting. I have a few internet friends that love this pattern a lot, and it seems really great. I’m considering using a similar bird fabric like the one I purchased in Paris for this dress.

Colette Pattern’s Chantilly Dress. I’ve had this pattern for like a million years. It was sent to me by Kollabora awhile ago, and I never got around to making it. But like could it be any prettier? The fact that I own this pattern and haven’t sewed it yet is kind of a crime. It’s probably also a sign that I might not ever need to buy a pattern again. 

Simplicity 1419! Both the dress and the jacket are way to cute to pass up. This is one the the first lisette patterns I’ve really like in awhile. They had a really good line when the first few collections came out, but I’ve been less into the brand until now. Speaking of “retro” lisette Patterns, I might need to sew up the Portfolio Dress again now that I’m not a terrible seamstress.

I’d also love to finish up my gown, and start my sew bossy project. We’ll see if I can actually stop procrastinating on those projects…

Do you have any sewing plans for this summer Readers? 

Fabric Shopping in Montmarte, Paris

Fabric Shopping in Paris is very different than what I’m used to here in the states. I went on a Saturday morning after a somewhat lengthy cafe sit. Within a few minutes of getting to the shops at the base of Sacré-Cœur, the markets were slammed. I thought I would share helpful tips I picked up along the way for anyone else who might be a bit daunted by fabric shopping abroad.

The french seem to appreciate a good fabric sale as much as anyone here in the states. Even though the signage will all say things like  “Coupon -50%”. There’s no coupon to be found, and I just took that this meant “Sale”. Most of the sale fabric was found in outside bins in pre-cut lengths. They had little stapled on tags stating they’re meterage, and price. The price was for the whole lot, not per meter.  [Even though the rest of the world uses meters, its only about two inches more than a yard, so don’t worry so much about getting the conversions right. You’ll just end up with a few inches more than you need. ] I actually really liked the whole bin setup. Most of the fabric was in three meter increments, which works well for most simple tops and dresses. It wasn’t too hard to find a matching cut if you needed more either. Although the picture above looks pretty sparse people wise, in only a few minutes it became sort of a mad grab. I take it that many more people actually sew their own garments in Paris than in the Midwest. From the bins I ended up getting some kind of mystery knit that’s destined to be a Moneta dress. Three yards for 7€ isn’t too shabby. 

Right across the street from all the discount store was Marché st. Pierre. It was similar to what I am used to here in the states, but still had some small differences. Like everything else along the street it was packed. It had more than one floor (I think?) but I stayed mostly towards the first floor. They had some really great African wax prints on “Coupon” for about a euro per meter, and I’m still kicking myself for not picking a few yards up! I should have blown the forty euro I ended up bringing home on pretty fabrics. Instead I got thoroughly gouged exchanging it at the bank for way under market value. I did pick up a really pretty bird print cotton. It’s just a bit lighter than quilting weight, but not a cotton lawn. In most of the french fabric stores there’s not cutting table to speak of. The employees stand around the store with a meter stick and scissors strung around their necks. You show them the fabric you want, and the measure on the fly, cut a snip in the fabric, and rip it the rest of the way. [Make sure to greet your fabric cutter! Say please, thank you, and before leaving au revoir! The french are sticklers for manners.]

Your cutting attendant will give you your fabric and a ticket. You then get into what by now had become a very fast moving, but seemingly endless line. You hand you ticket to a cashier person in a glass booth and once she calculates your bill you give her your euros and leave with pretty fabrics! 

Although fabric shopping in Paris can feel a bit more intimidating than in the states, I enjoyed being surrounded by so many fellow garment sewers! Sometimes in the US it can feel a bit like fabric stores cater more towards the quilt and home decor crowds. I found the opposite to be true in Paris. In fact I only went into one store in about ten that even cater to quilters. One of the many immeasurable reasons that I wouldn’t have minded just staying in the city of lights forever.