Monday, October 31, 2011

Men's T-shirt Makeover #4 Peasant Top

The original idea for this top comes from Obsessively Stitching.  I LOVE her idea, but was forced to change it up a little.  (I don't have a serger and elastic thread scares me.)  I used her pattern and made a peasant top this summer with short sleeves.  The one I make today will be long sleeved.  Make sure the men's T-shirt is loose in the sleeve.  Otherwise, the arms won't look very flowy.

You need:

1 Men's T-shirt that is a little big for you - especially under the arm
Thread that matches or contrasts the Men's T-shirt
1 Fave Scarf
Scissors or Rotary Cutter and Mat
Sewing Machine
Fold the men's T-shirt in half carefully lining up the shoulder seams.  Lay it on a flat surface.  Cut at an angle from just below the collar to just past the top of the shoulder seam. 
Here's how it looks unfolded.
The next part is a little tricky.  Being careful to not stretch the fabric, fold over the neckline 1 inch and sew a casing.  On the arm between the shoulder seams, you will need to play with the fabric as there will be some pleats/gathers at the shoulders.  Don't obsess over it too much.  You'll understand in the last step.  Completely finish the seam and then cut a slit right next to one shoulder seam at the front.
Grab your fave scarf and thread it through the slit in the shoulder.  I used a diaper pin to help with threading.
Once the scarf is threaded, decide how loose you want the neck line to be and tie the scarf.  For dinner with your sweetie, it might be loose and off one shoulder.  When racing around with children, wear it a little closer.  With all the gathering, the shoulder pleats/gathers are practically invisible.  I had planned to chop the ends of the sleeves and add elastic, but my sleeves were the right length.  Here's my cool new peasant top!
Feel free to swap out the scarf to suit your mood.  Wide ribbon would be adorable.  Of course if scarves are not for you, leave about an inch open in the casing and thread a small ribbon or elastic for the neckline.  'Still very cute! 
(Notice the bracelet.)  'Sending a big "THANK YOU" to my dear friend, Amanda, for making a super cute bracelet for me!  Thank you, Amanda!  Isn't it great?! 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Fleece Hat and Scarf

The evenings are getting cooler.  Mornings are downright chilly!  It's surprising to me how much warmer it feels to wear a hat and scarf.  I stumbled across this pattern and a sale on fleece. 
I made the hat and scarf shown in the bottom left corner using black and charcoal.  'Love it!  No humans were willing to model tonight, so an alternate was found.  He's pretty cute!
Stay warm!

Men's T-shirt Makeover #3 Ruffle V-Neck T

If you've read any of my T-shirt tutorials, you already know what I am about to say.  I'm short.  I'm curvy.  I'm still not a Size 2.  Blah, blah, blah...  So, I can sulk or I can do something about it.

Have you ever noticed those packages of men's T-shirts that are like, oh, $10.00 for four shirts?  Some of the packs have white shirts, some have multiple colors, some have round necklines, some have V's?  I love re-designing these into something else...  A T-shirt that fits me!  This pattern is my Basic T on a V-neck men's T-shirt with a ruffle added at the neck line.  I will go over the Basic T again, so you don't have to bounce between two tutorials.

You will need: 

1 Men's V-neck T-shirt that is a little too big for you
Thread that either coordinates or contrasts with the Men's T-shirt
1 of your FAVE T-shirts
Safety Pins
Sewing Machine 

Wash the men's V-neck T-shirt so you don't have to worry about a shrinking shirt later.  (Don't you hate shrinking shirts?!)  Turn it wrong side out and lay it on a flat surface.  Place safety pins around the edges and down the middle to keep the shirt from shifting as you work with it. 

Place your fave shirt on top of the men's T-shirt.  Again, get it as flat as possible.  You will be using the fave shirt as a pattern.  I like to place coasters on top of it to keep it in place while I work out the pattern.  Make sure the fave shirt is centered well on the men's T-shirt. 

Here's where the chalk is used.  Carefully trace along the side seams of the fave shirt keeping in mind the fit of the fave shirt.  If there is an area you would like a little tighter (or a little looser), adjust your chalk line accordingly. 

Fold back the sleeve on the fave shirt to reveal seam line at the shoulder.  Cut the men's T-shirt using this seam line as a pattern.

Cut away the rest of the men's sleeve, but keep it.  We will be using it later. 

Here's how the men's T-shirt will look with the sleeve cut and chalking complete.

I prefer to sew the sides before adding the sleeves.  If you are concerned about the shirt wiggling around, add more pins before you take it off the flat surface.  Sew the sides following the chalk lines you have drawn.  Try it on and see if you like the fit.  If not, back to the chalk and sewing.  If you do like the fit trim the sides to about half an inch.  Using the fave shirt as a pattern again, cut the men's T-shirt sleeve to fit into the new arm hole.  Remember to leave space for seam allowance.

With right sides together, sew sleeve onto shirt.  For the ruffled neckline, I cut three inches off the bottom of the men's T-shirt leaving the hem on it.  Cut the tube of fabric on one side to make one long piece of fabric.  Using the longest stitch on my sewing machine, I made a seam along the hem.  Do not back stitch.  Tie off the two threads on one end of the fabric.  At the other end, gently pull the bobbin thread to create gathers.  As I was making the gathers, I would stop and hold the fabric along the V-neck until the fabric fit the V-neck from one shoulder to the other.  When you have the gathers the length you want them, tie off the threads.  Sew the ruffle to the collar of the shirt.  Since T-shirt fabric doesn't ravel, I left the outer edge raw and like it that way.  After that, all you have to do is hem the men's T-shirt.  (If you can call it "men's" anymore.)  Here's the result.

Pretty Girly T-shirt!

;-)  -Marci

Friday, October 28, 2011

Stone Cottage Lemon Balm Cake & Lemon Balm Glaze

1 Box White Cake Mix
3 Eggs
1 Stick of Butter (half cup)
Juice from 1/2 Lemon
1 Cup Lemon Balm Tea
1 Cup Lemon Balm leaves, plus a few more for garnish
Food Processor

Place the wet ingredients and the lemon balm leaves in your food processor.  Process until the leaves are chopped very finely.  Add cake mix and process until mixed well.  (There will be little green flecks in the batter.)
I use a "bundt" tube pan for this recipe.  Bake for about 40 minutes.  (Ovens vary.)  Let cool completely.  Glaze with Stone Cottage Lemon Balm Glaze (below) and garnish with lemon balm leaves.  Beautiful and delicious!
Stone Cottage Lemon Balm Glaze

1/4 Cup Butter
Juice from 1/2 Lemon
2 1/2 Cups Powdered Sugar
2 - 4 Tablespoons Lemon Balm Tea

Melt butter in small sauce pan.  Add fresh lemon juice and powdered sugar.  Stir well.  Add Lemon Balm Tea to get the consistency of a thick syrup.  Drizzle over cooled cake while the glaze is hot.  As the glaze cools, I like to drizzle again so it stays more on top of the cake. 

Simple Lemon Balm Infused Cake

OK, so you have grown gobs of lemon balm, and you have made gallons of Lemon Balm Tea.  What can you do with it besides just drinking it?  This is a super simple recipe for Lemon Balm Cake. 

Go to your favorite grocery store and grab a box of your favorite white cake mix.  (Yellow cake mix works, too.)  Where the recipe on the back of the box instructs you to add water, add Lemon Balm Tea instead.  Make that small change, but follow the rest of the directions on the back of the box.  It's a subtle twist on an old standard.    

Monday, October 24, 2011

Savory Mint Jelly

Handsome Husband likes this jelly on biscuits.  To me it's better on smoked meats or something grilled. 

1-1/2 Cups Apple Juice
1-1/2 Cups Water
1/2 Cup Cider Vinegar
4 Cups Clean Peppermint Leaves and Stems

In large sauce pan, bring liquids to a boil.  Add peppermint.  Press any stray peppermint leaves under the hot liquid.  Cover and let steep for a couple of hours.  Strain liquid.   

3-1/2 Cups Prepared Peppermint Juice
5-1/4 Cups Sugar
1 Package 1.75 ounces Fruit Pectin
Green Food Coloring if you want the jelly to be green

The prepared peppermint is an amber color.  It only takes a drop of green food coloring to make it green.  If you like the amber color, skip the green food coloring.  The jelly will be a color similar to apple jelly. 

Put the prepared peppermint juice in a 6 or 8 quart sauce pan.  Add the pectin and stir until dissolved.   Bring to a boil stirring frequently.  Stir in sugar.  Return to a full boil.  Boil hard for one minute stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.  Ladle jelly into hot, sterilized jars, leaving about one quarter inch head space.  Carefully clean rim and threads of jars.  Place lids on jars finger tight.  Process in boiling water 10 minutes.         

Savory Mint Jelly in Green, Sweet Mint Jelly in Amber...  Mmmm...  Options...

Peppermint Tea

Peppermint and spearmint are very similar.  Both grow agressively here and need to be harvested and divided frequently.  Both can be used in many scrumptious recipes.  You can see from the picture spearmint tends to be a lighter green while peppermint is darker and the stems are redder.  In many recipes spearmint and peppermint are interchangeable.   

Peppermint Tea

Equal Parts Peppermint and Water

Harvest peppermint.  It can be cut all the way back to the bottom two leaves of each stem.  Rinse thoroughly, discarding any damaged or brown leaves.  Fill a sauce pan about three fourths full of water.  Place over high heat and bring water to a boil.  Turn off heat.  Do not boil the peppermint.
Add peppermint to the saucepan.  The amount of peppermint in this picture looks like it would not fit in the pan, however, once the green leaves touch the hot water, they wilt.  As more peppermint is added, it almost looks like the peppermint 'melts' into the water.  Use a spoon or spatula to press any stray leaves under the steaming water.  Cover and let steep at least 10 minutes.  Strain into a pitcher or cup or glass.

If you like sugar or honey, by all means add it to the tea.  Hot or cold.  Peppermint tea is fabulous!  

Sweet Mint Jelly

Mint Jelly...  Mmmm...  What a treat!  You could use either spearmint or peppermint.  I prefer spearmint in this recipe.

Here's the recipe: 

4 Cups Spearmint Tea
1/4 Cup Fresh Lime Juice
4 Cups Sugar
1 Package 1.75 ounce Powdered Fruit Pectin
Zest from 1 Lime
Green Food Coloring if you want Green Jelly

This is the color of Spearmint Tea.  If you don't add food coloring, the jelly will be an amber color, similar to apple jelly. 

Pour the Spearmint Tea and lime juice into a 6 or 8 quart heavy pot.  Add pectin and stir until dissolved.  Place over high heat and bring to a boil.  Stir frequently to keep from scorching.  Stir in sugar and return to a boil.  Let boil hard for one minute, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.  Add zest from lime stirring well.  Ladle jelly into hot, sterilized canning jars, leaving about 1/4 inch headspace.  (Make sure you do not spill hot jelly on your left thumb.  I'm just saying...)  Carefully wipe jar rims, put on lids finger tight.  Process filled jars in boiling water for 5 minutes.  Remove jars from hot water, cool on wire racks until set.  Makes about 6 half pints. 

When you make jelly like this, you will want a bigger biscuit!  Thank you for sharing our joy!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Spearmint Tea

Spearmint is a wonderful member of the mint family.  It tends to grow pretty aggressively here.  I keep mine in containers in the green house.  If planted in a flower bed, it usually takes over the entire space.  Spearmint needs to be cut back and divided frequently.  It makes a great tea that is tasty hot or cold.     

Spearmint Tea

Equal Parts Spearmint and Water

Cut spearmint back.  It can be cut all the way back to two leaves per stem.  Rinse spearmint, discarding any brown or damaged leaves. 

Fill a saucepan about three fourths full of water.  Place over high heat and bring water to a boil.  Turn off heat.  Do not boil the spearmint. 

Add about as much spearmint as the pan will hold.  The amount of spearmint in this picture looks like it would be too much, but it's not.  As the green leaves and stems come in contact with the hot water, they wilt and sink.  Use a spoon to press any stray spearmint leaves into the hot water.  Put a lid on the sauce pan and let the spearmint steep at least 10 minutes.  If you like it stronger, let it steep more than 10 minutes.

Some folks like to add sugar or honey.  Add what you like and share our joy!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Men's T-shirt Makeover #2 Basic Drop Shoulder T

Well...  I am still short.  I am still curvy.  I am still NOT a size 2.  (Eyes rolling!)  I need/want a new T-shirt that fits.  If you need/want one, too, here's the tutorial. 

Have you ever noticed those packages of men's T-shirts that are like, oh, $10.00 for four shirts?  Some of the packs have white shirts, some have multiple colors, some have round necklines, some have V's?  Grab a pack of those. 

You will need: 

1 Men's T-shirt in a size that is a little too big for you
Thread to match or contrast the Men's T-shirt
1 of your FAVE shirts
Some safety pins
Sewing machine

Wash and dry the men's T-shirt so you don't have to worry about shrinkage later.  Turn it wrong side out and lay it on a flat surface.  The men's T-shirt needs to be as flat as possible.  Place safety pins around the edges and down the middle so it won't wiggle crooked as you work. 

Lay your fave shirt on top of the men's T-shirt.  Make sure it is centered.  I like to use coasters to weight the fave shirt while I figure out the pattern. 

Carefully chalk around the sides of the fave shirt.  If the fave shirt has short sleeves, I use a ruler to help me mark a straight line to the end of the men's T-shirt sleeves.  Here's how it looks with the chalking complete.

The next step is to sew along the chalk lines.  The safety pins help keep the men's T-shirt from "wiggling".  If you need more pins, add them before you take the men's T-shirt off the flat surface.  As you sew, remove any pins or safety pins along the sides.  

Once sewn, try on the shirt to check the fit.  If the fit is OK, trim the seams to about half an inch.  In the curve under the arm, snip a little closer.

Ta-Dah!  A new Drop Shoulder T-shirt!  Add a vintage pin or a cute puppy to complete your look!  

Men's T-Shirt Make Over #1 Basic Simple T

I have a confession to make.  I am short.  I am curvy.  I am not a size 2.  (Heavy Sigh!)  T-shirts are a basic wardrobe staple - if they fit.  Finding one that fits me is difficult.  I really don't want to look like a box, but at the same time, I'd rather not look hoochey hoo either. 

Have you ever noticed those packages of men's T-shirts that are like, oh, $10.00 for four shirts?  Some of the packs have white shirts, some have multiple colors, some have round necklines, some have V's?  I love re-designing these into something else...  A T-shirt that fits me. 

You will need: 

1 Men's T-shirt in a size that is a little too big for you
Thread to match or contrast the Men's T-shirt
1 of your FAVE T-shirts
Some safety pins
Sewing machine

Here's what you do...  Purchase a package of men's T-shirts in a size that is a little too big for you.  Any scraps cut away can be used for embellishments later.  Wash the men's T-shirt so you don't have to worry about shrinkage. 

Turn the men's T-shirt wrong side out and lay it on a flat surface.  Once it is really flat, put a few safety pins around the edges and down the middle, so it can't wiggle crooked later. 

Take one of your fave shirts and lay it on top of the men's T-shirt.  This is how you will get the right fit. 
I use coasters to weight the fave shirt while working out the pattern.  Use chalk to draw where you would like the side seam. 
Carefully fold back the sleeve on your fave shirt, exposing the line of the seam at the shoulder.  Using your fave shirt for the pattern, cut the men's T-shirt along the sleeve seam of the fave shirt.  Cut away the remainder of the men's T-shirt sleeve.  Keep the men's sleeve.  We will need it later. 
Here's how the men's T-shirt will look after chalking the sides and cutting the sleeves.
I like to sew the sides next to make sure the sides fit before I hassle with the sleeves.  Once the sides are a size you like, trim the side seams to about half an inch.
Again, using your fave shirt for a pattern, cut the men's T-shirt sleeve to fit into the new arm hole. 

Attach sleeve.  If you like to keep things simple, stop right here.

Here's my new FAVE shirt!  I love it!  Make one for yourself and share the joy!   

That's better.  'Not too boxy, not too hoochey hoo!  ;-)  -Marci

Monday, October 17, 2011

Green Tomato Relish

Today's high temperature is supposed to be 90.  Wednesday's low temp is predicted to be in the 20's!  EESH!  What few tomato plants survived the brutal Summer heat are covered in green tomatoes.  What to do?  How 'bout some green tomato relish?  There are a couple of red tomatoes in the basket, but most are green and smallish.

I have to be honest.  I have never made green tomato relish.  (Gasp!)  So, with a little help from Google, I stumbled across Green Tomato Relish from Mommy's Kitchen.  (I plan to go back to Mommy's Kitchen for her menu planning.  I used to think I didn't like to cook, but have learned cooking is OK if someone else does the planning.) 

Following the recipe, all the vegetables were assembled and chopped.  The Vidalia Chop Wizard is my best friend when it comes to veggie chopping.  It makes the job feel much easier.

Here are the beautiful chopped veggies.  Aren't the colors pretty?
I won't go into all the details of the recipe, as Tina over at Mommy's Kitchen already has that covered, but... 

Here is my first ever, yummy batch of Green Tomato Relish!  Thank you for sharing my joy! 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Ginger Honey

Herb infused honey is actually quite easy and oh, so tasty!  Let me show you how to make Ginger Honey.  There are only two ingredients.

Fresh Ginger

In a clean pint jar, finely grate fresh ginger.  (Ginger can be frozen.  After grating the ginger, place in a freezer bag in your freezer until the next time you would like some.  I think it might grate a little easier when it is frozen.  'Doesn't seem so "stringy".)  Grate at least a couple of teaspoons.
Pour honey over the ginger.  Let it sit overnight.  Open jar daily and stir. 
There are gobs of yummy uses for Ginger Honey.  You can put it on a biscuit with butter.  (OK, that's cheating.  Everything is good on a biscuit with butter.)  Try it over fresh fruit.  We like to dip egg rolls in Ginger Honey.  It is lovely in any kind of hot tea.  We even like it with peanut butter. 

Try it and share our joy!