The simple act of pushing a seed into some dirt, watering it and having it come up is still pretty much magic to me. Whether it’s from a plant where the seeds are so small that basically, you water the dirt first and then scatter them on top and hope for the best, or plain old bean seeds, the whole act of burying them in the dirt and then their coming up is really an unceasing source of rather childlike joy to me. (more…)
When my Great Aunt Lily died, I inherited a suitcase filled with trims and notions from her. Inside it were bundles carefully done up with ribbon of metal-toothed zippers, and little bags of buttons. All sorts of buttons. It was also obvious from the condition of everything that these are not brand new stock that she’d bought and hoarded.
She’d removed them all from clothing that she and her sister had worn out.
This was a real head-scratcher for me until I asked my dad about it. Why would anyone save used zippers and buttons? He explained to me that all of those notions were expensive – and replacing broken zippers or lost buttons got expensive.
Do you remove zippers or buttons before you send clothing to the rag bag? Good question.
But buttons and zippers, for us home sewers, get expensive. So, one of the ways to reduce the expense of sewing your own is: sew clothing that doesn’t require a zipper or buttons to close.
Now, if you sew knits, depending on the pattern, you can definitely get away with no buttons or zippers, unless you are making a jacket.
But if you want a shirt. A woven fabric shirt. This can get dicey. So, I’m always on the look-out for patterns for woven fabric items which basically pull over the head. I got one last year when we were in London at the Victoria and Albert Museum, but I think you can find this company’s patterns in the US and other countries as well.
Here’s the pattern, called ‘The Factory Dress’: Merchant and Mills Its’ a multi-sized pattern (it’s in UK sizing, which for US sewers, means that if you take a US 12, then you need to use the size 14 lines). The thing that makes this dress really useful is that it has a separate bodice and skirt. (cue triumphant music here)
That means that I could take the bodice part, do a bit of magic on it and make a ‘pull-over my head shirt’.
Now, this pattern only has bust darts, so I had to do a little ‘split and add tissue’ in the front to deal with my rather luxuriant boobage, but other than that and lengthening the pattern to 27″ from shoulder to hem so that I’d be able to tuck it in once I was finished, that is all the change I had to do.
One other item, and this is my own particular bias: This pattern calls for a back neck facing, something which I hate. I hate them. If every grain of sand in the Sahara Desert had the word ‘hate’ printed on them, it would not equal 1/5th the amount of hate I have for back neck facings, which flip out, look yucky and are a pain in the neck. So, on the necks and collars of woven tops, I do a Hong Kong finish. Neat, tidy and.. no back neck facing. It ends up looking like this: What I do is:
1) Make the collar and turn it right side out. Poke out the corners (and these are usually just little collars – not the righteous collar and neck band variety)
2) Zigzag across the bottom of the collar and pin it to the neck edge. Match all the notches and dots and what have you.
3) Baste the collar to the neck edge, pretty close (I use a 1/4″ seam)
4) Either use bias binding or self-fabric bias (1″ wide) as long as the collar edge is, plus 1″
5) Putting right side to right side, sew the boas along the collar edge/neck edge.
6) Fold down the unsewn edge and roll that over the collar edge/neck edge to completely encase it. Pin that down and sew it down. You can do this by hand or with machine.
7) Follow the directions for any front facings extending to the shoulder seam. Once you are done, you will see, Voila!, that the ends of your Hong Kong finished collar seam is neatly and tidily covered by the front facing. No back facing.
Anyone else have any tricks to save money on sewing clothing?
Well, I’m not going to even discuss the issue of ‘cheap food’. I still think we can produce garden vegetables at a lower cost (again, we are not charging our own time) than we can buy them in the grocery store. But that is not the issue here. (more…)
But then again, you might – or you might buy some property or a house that has an old neglected apple tree on the property and you’d like to rescue it and see if it will come into bearing fruit.
This post, dear friend, is for you. (more…)
At this point in the year – end of February – no matter how sunny your disposition, we can look at the calendar here at Chez Siberia and count the weeks until genuine spring. At best, we will have 5 weeks to go; at worst, it will be 8. And the weather folks have been mumbling about a nasty Northeaster in our March future.
Yum. Yum. (more…)
I’m sure there are readers out there who feel that either our diet here at Chez Siberia is horrifically limited or that I’m on the payroll for the American Dried Bean Congress or some other PR group. ‘
Today’s post is not going to change your minds in that regard.
In our ever-growing efforts to eat more vegetarian/vegan meals, tonight, I made bean burgers and cole slaw – my attempt at a summery picnic meal (no, your Auntie’s knees do not allow her to kneel down on picnic blankets on the floor. I do draw the line someplace). Bean burgers are generally made with black beans – probably because when they cook, they are very dark and if you squint your eyes extremely small, you might fool yourself into thinking that they are rather well-cooked beef burgers. There is no way these burgers can be mistaken for beef or anything else, really because they start out light colored and end up…slightly toasted light colored burgers. We shall have to just throw in the towel, close our eyes (and no, not think of England..) and…chew gratefully.
Cannellini Bean Burgers
2 cans of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed really well, mashed rather thoroughly.
Veggies to mix in:
– one sweet pepper, chopped extremely fine
– 2 cloves of garlic, ditto
– Finely chopped mushrooms. If you are using canned, then one small can will do. If you are working with fresh mushrooms, then chop up 6 mushrooms that are about 1-1.5″ across the tops.
– 1/2 onion (about as large as a good-sized fist), chopped finely
Saute in 2 tablespoons of olive oil until very limp
– 1/2 c. of flavored bread crumbs – if you are not eating any wheat products, you can replace with the same amount of cooked quinoa or cooked brown rice, barley, buckwheat (yay!) and so on.
– A good grating of black pepper, 1/4 tsp. of smoked paprika
Put the beans, the bread crumbs (or other grains) and the veggies into a big bowl (as the above photo indicates) and mix thoroughly. Take large spoonfuls (a spoon the size of the sort of thing you’d use to drain veggies in a pot – several inches across), form into balls and place on a greased baking sheet. Then flatten with your hand or a fork. You’ll end up with something that looks like this – this recipe makes 8 burgers.
Bake in an oven set at 375 degrees F. for 15 minutes. Then carefully, with a spatula, flip them over and bake again for another 10-12 minutes. This, frankly is just to give the outside a bit of crispness. If you’d rather fry them in a bit of hot oil, then bless you – go for it. Just cover the bottom of a fry pan with oil and heat until bubbling – carefully slip the burgers off a spatula into the oil and fry one side until crispy; then flip and fry again on the other side.
I served these with cole slaw (mine is grated carrots and cabbage with a mayo/vinegar dressing), on whole grain buns that I’d toasted a bit, but again, this was just to give the meal a bit of the ‘summer picnic’ feel. If I was not going to do that, I’d serve them with whole grain pasta or, for people who don’t do grains, I’d do a quinoa salad or potato salad or something like that.
Your old Aunty knows that this time of the year can be mighty difficult. Too cold to garden outside in most places except for the Southern Hemisphere. And still short days; I don’t care where you live, but when you have fewer than 10 hours of daylight, it’s just depressing.
So, here at Chez Siberia, I try to get in as much ‘indoor gardening’ activities as I can. Planning the vegetable garden with the seed catalogs all spread out before me is one activity that I think all gardeners indulge in at this point in the year, if for no other reason than they want to beat everyone else to the newest and best and what is in short supply. But another thing I do is to do a bit of ‘housekeeping’ with the houseplants. (more…)
Fart scenes in “Blazing Saddles” notwithstanding, beans are good for you.
Need more fiber in your diet? Reconstituted dried beans are definitely your friend.
Want to move away from meat as a protein source? Ditto.
Looking for natural sources of trace minerals? Ditto.
And don’t think you have to eat soy beans (and the processed foods made from them) in order to get the benefits. Yes, soy beans are protein power-houses, but a lot of people are concerned about GMO soy beans By 2012, the US Department of Agriculture estimated that 94% of all soy beans grown in the US are GMO. (more…)
First, hello again and your Aunty hopes that your holidays this month (whichever ones you celebrate, and Aunt Toby believes that in these chilly and dark days, that we need to do our utmost to keep spirits up, flags flying, drums beating and bonfires glowing) have been wonderful, warm, and filled with hugs, warmth, a big of peace and terrific food.
Ours, believe it or not, have been filled with working out on the farm, mostly pruning apple trees (more on that for another time) because it has not been its usual ferocious cold and snowy time here at Chez Siberia. Ordinarily, we’d wait until most of the way through the winter but since a) we have discovered so many apple trees (and again, more on that for later) that need major weeding out that we’d never finish by the time they’d break dormancy in the spring and b)the weather has been basically so warm that we figured we’d get to it early when it’s a lot more pleasant to get it done (rather than standing out there in the wind and 25-degrees F with pole saws). (more…)
This fall at Chez Siberia has been ‘one for the books’ as they say. We are within a couple of weeks of Thanksgiving (US) and it frankly is a beautiful sunny day in the upper 50s. As a matter of fact, I did some gardening earlier today when I discovered that I’d missed a couple of garlic bulbs in the garden and they’d all sprouted (more on that in another paragraph here). For anyone out there who is somehow doubting that there is climate change, I have to say that our garden certainly shows that the climate is not what it used to be. When your Aunty was just a young person, by this time up here, we already had snow on the ground and it was sticking. The ground might now have been frozen all the way down but the top couple of inches were probably frozen enough that the snow did not melt. As a matter of fact, we used to take a yearly trip down to just north of New York City and the temperatures there on Thanksgiving Day were colder than it is here today. We definitely had to wear our winter coats in New York – no one is wearing a winter coat here today – it’s in the 50s.
This is not to say that we have not had any hard frosts – we’ve had several temperatures down to the low 20s here, which killed off anything not hardy – but certain veggies in the garden are still going strong, so I recommend them to anyone who is thinking about doing some fall vegetable gardening next year – if these will survive for us here, I think we’re safe in saying that they will do ok for anyone south of the Canadian border. (more…)