Please bear with me

I am in the process of trying to move my blog over from a blogger/blogspot.com to a wordpress.com blog.  I expect that formatting is going to be super wonky over the next few days/weeks until I figure out a new platform.  So in the mean time, please enjoy this photo of me in a ridiculous pair of sunglasses.

Taken with Lumia Selfie

Laurel’s Whiskey Sour

Craig and I are suckers for tasty cocktails.  We also love whiskey.  What’s better than a tasty whiskey cocktail?  One that’s refreshing, simple, and is full of protein!  Craig and I spent a few weeks fussing with ratios, and have finally settled on a ratio that we love.  Full disclosure, this is not the standard whiskey sour ratio, but one that we both prefer.  A true whiskey sour traditionally does not have an egg white in it.  Technically, a whiskey sour with an egg white is called a Boston sour.  Don’t be weird about egg whites in cocktails.  They make them delicious and foamy and creamy, but aren’t gross.  We were making these and one of our friends didn’t want to try it because of the egg in it.  Then she tried it after a little peer pressure and remarked that it wasn’t gross at all.  So there’s that.  If you’re concerned about potential foodborne illness, don’t be.  This recipe is actually better using pasteurized egg whites.  More on that later.

whiskey sour cocktail

Our Whiskey sour is a simple beast.  4 ingredients. 5 if you’re fussy like me.

Egg White – Don’t skip this.  I promise it’s good.  And if it’s not, then you’re only out the ingredients of one cocktail.  Try the recipe when you have friends over, and without a doubt, someone will love it and ask you for the recipe.  Send them to my blog.  Anyway – we found that in addition to being way less effort than separating a fresh egg, pasteurized egg whites in cartons seem to give more even foam.  Just use those.

Rye Whiskey –  This can be made with most whiskeys, but rye is far and away the best.  It isn’t sweet like bourbon, and has this slight bite to it that really bounces off the creaminess off the egg white and the sweetness of the sugar.  Added bonus, you can get great mixing rye for almost nothing.  The Old Overholt that we use is $16 per 750ml bottle.

Lemon & Lime Juice – You want both.  My version of the optimal ratio is 2 lemons per 3 limes.  As long as the juice isn’t sitting the fridge for a week or something, it’s still delicious.  Don’t use bottled juice, even the really tasty Nelly & Joes stuff that’s usually passable.  It needs to be from real fruits.

Simple Syrup – This is pretty simple (hahaha, get it?  simple?!).  But seriously.  Add roughly 1 part sugar to roughly 1 part water, heat until sugar is liquefied.  I don’t even do this on the stove anymore.  I put a bunch of sugar in this jar/bottle, add some boiling water, and swirl it around.  This usually does the trick.  If it doesn’t, I microwave it in 30 second increments til it’s done.  It lasts forever in the fridge.

Bitters – These are not necessary, but I prefer using them.  Angostura are fine, but this is 100% the chance to break out your weirder ones.  My favorite is grapefruit bitters, continuing the citrus theme.

whiskey sour cocktail

Ingredients:
3 oz (or 2 fresh) egg whites
4 oz rye whiskey
3 oz lemon/lime juice
1 oz simple syrup
(optional) dash bitters

Directions:
*Add a few ice cubes to your cocktail shaker (I use 3 large hexagonal ones) and put your egg white in.  Cap and shake the crap out of it.  The goal here is to generate a lot of froth and start breaking up your ice a little.
*Crack open shaker and add the rest of your ingredients.  Shake again.  I find that sometimes the shaker burps a little, so I do this second shaking over the sink to reduce stickiness.
*Strain into an old fashioned class, garnish with a slice of lime and a couple dashes of bitters if desired.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake Jelly Shots

I turn 30 this year.  I have come to the jello shot game pretty late, but I’m making up for it by producing delicious gelatinous versions of some of my favorite cocktails.  I haven’t shared any of the recipes here before, mostly because I haven’t photographed them, which… shame on me.  They’re tasty.  The one piece of advice that I can give you for any type of jello shots, is if you’re using real ingredients (not Jell-O mix), make sure the flavor is over the top.  It needs to be sweeter than a sane person would willingly drink.  Think Mai Tai or pretty much any super sweet tiki drink.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake Jelly Shots

I made these as a cocktail a few months ago as a way to try to use up some of the remaining Birthday Cake Vodka that I had, and they were loved by everyone.  I had a bachelorette party to go to this weekend, which proved to be the perfect excuse to turn this super girly drink into a great jello shot.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake Jelly Shots

So I did.  I did a little testing in terms of strength before jellifying it, and found that a 1:1 ratio seemed to work perfectly.  If you’re in the US, chances are you’re going to be able to find unflavored Knox gelatin in powder.  My recipe uses that, as it is what is most available to me. I’m not sure what the gelatin sheet conversion is.  For a sturdy jello shot, you want to go with 1 cup of liquid per packet of gelatin.  This makes them stable at room temperature and sturdy enough to hold together as you pull them out of molds or cut them.   And a word of warning – if you’re using silicone ice cube trays like I do, be sure to get the freezer smell out of them.  It’s not terribly apparent with ice, but there’s something about the alcohol content that absorbs every wayward flavor.  I ended up having to throw out all of the shots from the green mold because even after a baking soda soak, then a vinegar soak, then a run through the dishwasher, the flavor was still apparent in the gelatin.  The blue one got the same treatment and tasted fine.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake Jelly Shots

Ingredients
1.5 cups canned pineapple juice
3 packets Knox gelatin
1.5 cups cake or vanilla vodka
nonstick cooking spray (don’t use coconut oil.  it solidifies and gets ugly)
maraschino cherries if desired (these give you a really pretty red gradient)

Instructions
*Measure out pineapple juice in a heat resistant cup large enough to hold everything.
*Sprinkle gelatin evenly over pineapple juice, making sure all of the gelatin gets moist
*Allow gelatin to bloom for 5-10 minutes and heat until totally liquefied. I microwaved it.
*Allow to cool additional 10-45 minutes.
*Add Vodka, stir, and pour into molds/loaf pan that have been sprayed with nonstick spray. Add cherries if desired.
*Chill in fridge overnight or for 6+ hrs
*Remove from molds or loaf pan. Cut into cubes if you used loaf pan.
*Enjoy responsibly

Coffee CSA

Craig and I are coffee snobs.  Over time, we have slowly stepped up our game in terms of what coffee we determine is “acceptable.”

One of our favorite coffees is actually roasted in Seattle.  It’s called Back Pedal Brew, by Middlefork Roasters.  It tastes creamy and chocolaty.  It’s quite nice.  But it’s about $16/lb, not organic, and kind of a pain to get.  Our options are Seattle Coffee Gear, which has 2 locations nearby, but neither are convenient, or Whole Foods, which is equally inconvenient to get to (and also a total zoo).  Whole Foods also offers some pretty great coffees in their house brand which can be purchased in bulk.  That is our general go-to for everyday coffee.  I get their organic breakfast blend for $10/lb and it’s pretty tasty.  But it’s still a total pain to get at Whole Foods.  So sometimes when we run out of “the good stuff,” we will slum it, and pick up a bag of Starbucks coffee.  And every time, it’s awful.  During one of those times, I just wasn’t willing to make time to take a special trip to Whole Foods to get more coffee, and we finally broke down and decided to try out a coffee subscription service again.  We had tried Tonx in the past and weren’t fans of how overpoweringly sour their roasts tasted, so we dropped it.

I signed up with CoffeeCSA.org last week and scheduled our first delivery of 2 pounds of coffee.  2lbs monthly costs $30 shipped.  It is roasted just a couple days before it is shipped.  Since they deal directly with the farmers, the people who grow the coffee make a lot more money.  The subscription that we selected allows us to get a “featured farmer of the month” coffee, so we get different coffees each month.   We got our first delivery yesterday. It’s tasty, and good, and Craig really enjoyed it, which is saying a lot.  Also, I like that the farmers are getting paid more, and I like that the coffee’s organic.  But most of all, I like that I don’t have to schlep my ass to Whole Foods twice a month to get ethically produced coffee.  So CoffeeCSA – if you’re reading this… want to be the first sponsor on my site?  I like what you’re doing and I want more people to get involved in paying the people producing our food a fair wage.

DIY Waxed Cotton Jacket

Ok, so I totally didn’t make this jacket.  Obviously, because it takes me like 6 hours to sew a skirt.  I don’t have great sewing machine skills. Anyway, a few months ago, I happened across a post that someone made about waxing a cotton jacket that they had.  It was pertinent to my interests.  Craig has a waxed cotton trucker jacket that’s pretty neat, and he had a whole drink spilled on him at a bar a while back with none of it actually wetting the fabric.  I’ve been on the lookout for a decent spring jacket that isn’t like something from REI (which I also have and love, but it looks better with sneakers than heels).  I found this military style canvas jacket from Old Navy for $45, and figured at that price, I could afford to experiment with DIY waxing to make it more weatherproof (have you heard? Seattle gets lots of rain).  So I bought it and went to town.

diy waxed cotton canvas jacket
This is the jacket in the Old Navy dressing room.  I find that I am able to make more objective decisions about clothes if I look at a photo of myself vs just looking in the mirror.

The wax that I used is Fjallraven Greenland Wax.  I got it for $10 on amazon.  Basically, once you’re sure the jacket is clean (you won’t be able to launder it after it’s been waxed), you just rub the wax all over the jacket, working in sections. With darker fabric, you may be able to work more willy-nilly, but with something like this camel color, at least attempting to get a slightly even layer is useful.  Thicker deposits of wax ended up making slightly dark spots on the jacket.  I may go over with another layer of wax in the future, and I am thinking of trying to hit it with a cloth-covered iron to even out some of the darker spots, but overall they don’t bother me and will contribute to the jacket “wearing in” and developing creases and stuff in the creasy zones.

diy waxed cotton canvas jacket

Once the wax has been rubbed onto an area, you just hit it with your hairdryer and let it melt into the cotton.  The cotton absorbed all of the wax in my case.  With subsequent coats, I expect that it won’t be so absorbent, but will also be more weatherproofed .

diy waxed cotton canvas jacket

The process was actually surprisingly time consuming.  I’d say that the first coat took me probably 2-3 hours.  Luckily, I just set up on the kitchen island and watched TV while I rubbed the wax on.  The hairdryer part was extra boring though.

diy waxed cotton canvas jacket
Here’s the difference in color between waxed and unwaxed.  The waxed areas have taken on a slightly darker color, and you can also see some of the spots in the upper right hand corner of the photo where the wax is a little darker looking.

diy waxed cotton canvas jacket

And here I am wearing the jacket.  I’m still not entirely sure what to do with the super long strings coming off of it, but I’m sure I’ll figure it out.

diy waxed cotton canvas jacket
I look so concerned here.  Promise I’m not.

I sewed a hobo bag!

I’m not calling this a purse, because it’s not really.  But it’s also not an all-out grocery type tote.  I’m gonna call it a hobo bag.  Because A) it is a hobo bag and B) then it kind of sounds like I meant for it to be a little shabby.

Sewing a reversible hobo bag

Once again, spurred by our upcoming trip to Hawaii (can you tell that we never go on vacation?), I am wanting a compact, lightweight, and useful bag to cruise around the island with.  It only needs to hold a few things – sunblock, my phone, wallet, lip balm, and maybe a bottle of water.  It needn’t be a beach bag (although I totally sewed one of those as well!).  So I went to pinterest and found a tutorial for exactly the type of bag I was looking for.  Something simple that didn’t require too much technique, and had simple, easy to understand instructions.  Oh, and a printable pattern didn’t hurt either!

So I got to it.  I bought 2 yards of quilting-type cotton fabric.  I also learned that there is such a thing as “designer” fabric that is not a standard apparel type of fabric. For some reason, I expected this stuff to be cheap, but it wasn’t.  It was like $10/yd.  If I had been able to locate remnants, that probably would have been good.  The store I was at had just cleared out their remnants section, and since I was set on having a mint lining… well…  I coughed up the $20 for 2 yards of fabric and went on my merry way.

I just followed the directions on the tutorial, but regardless, I started with the pattern.  It requires that you cut out 2 pieces of each fabric.  I did so.  Then I marked where the darts go, stitched along the lines, trimmed the extraneous material away, and pinned the pieces together, right-sides facing in.

Sewing a reversible hobo bag

Sewing a reversible hobo bag

Sewing a reversible hobo bag

Sewing a reversible hobo bag

The next step was to sew the bottom and sides together, making 2 little baggies

Sewing a reversible hobo bag

Sewing a reversible hobo bag

Sewing a reversible hobo bag

After they were stitched to themselves, the trick was nesting the mint into the navy (right sides together) and kind of pairing up the parts where they needed to pair.  All but the really strappy end parts got sewn together.  Take your time on this portion and make sure that it all makes sense. Afterwards, I turned it right side out.  It was like pulling a grapefruit through a sweatshirt sleeve.  Doable, but kinda tricky.

Sewing a reversible hobo bag

Sewing a reversible hobo bag

Then the only thing left was ironing all of the seams in, and stitching around all the strap parts after sewing straps together.  My “decorative” stitch sucked.  I am considering doing something a lot less visible like the gal who did the tutorial did. I think it takes the bag from “neat” to “obviously homemade,” which isn’t exactly the look I’m going for.  But it’ll be perfect for cruising around Maui for random adventures.

Sewing a reversible hobo bag

Sewing a reversible hobo bag

I actually had enough extra fabric to make another bag.  The second one didn’t have the straps.  Instead, I just cut it straight across, (but it still has the darts and rounded bottom), then sewed some navy nylon webbing into the top seam to function as straps.

Faux Wrap Jersey Pencil Skirt

In the last few weeks, I have kind of learned to sew.  And I mean that in the loosest sense of the word.  What I mean more, is that I have learned (mostly) how to use my sewing machine, and how to (kind of) construct clothing.  A few years ago, I picked up a 1960s Kenmore machine on Craigslist for $30.  I wanted a bunch of throw pillows because our sofa was naked and since I am super picky about everything that I really don’t need to be picky about, run of the mill pillows weren’t going to cut it.  So I sewed custom pillow covers using my sewing machine.  And then it got relegated to a shelf in the spare bedroom until recently.  You see, we are planning a trip to Hawaii pretty soon for our friends’ wedding.  This upcoming warm weather vacation, paired with the huge wardrobe transition I am in (I’m pretty much building a new wardrobe from scratch), has put me in a kind of strange mode where I am trying to acquire all new clothes for the trip (I don’t have much spring/summer wear to speak of).  I decided that I needed a jersey pencil skirt in lieu of wearing shorts (they’re not a great look on me) and when I looked on pinterest for outfit ideas, I was inundated with “easy 20 minute pencil skirt tutorial.”  So I crazily decided that of course I could sew a pencil skirt.  Why not?  Based on the tutorials, it seemed pretty simple.  I hit the fabric store and got 2 different fabrics, a thick navy, and a super thin mint and navy chevron.  I read over several different tutorials, and kind of winged it.  Most of them said something to the effect of “get a skirt that fits you really well, and use it as a template. The problem is that I didn’t have a pencil skirt that fit me really well, so that wasn’t all that useful.  I found a tutorial for making a pattern on pinterest and went with it.  I took all of my measurements, taped a couple of opened up paper bags together, and drew the pattern out on them.  My first skirt was fairly simple, and when I test-fit it, it was huge!  I hadn’t accounted for the stretch inherent in jersey.  Luckily, it was just a matter of sewing another seam a couple inches in on the fabric and trimming all the extraneous bits.  After a bit of trial and error, I finally ended up with a size and shape that I was happy with.  Then I laid that on the pattern, marked, and trimmed around it!  Not ideal, but that’s how it shook out with me.  Your mileage may vary.

faux wrap jersey pencil skirt tutorial

I searched high and low for a tutorial on how to make a faux wrap jersey pencil skirt, and just couldn’t find something that I liked that wouldn’t show my butt if I bent over.  I did however, find this Helmut Lang skirt on Pinterest that I felt reasonably confident that I could copy.  So I found some fabric.  I love saturated colors, and this bright royal blue was perfect(also, a remnant – so $6.99/yd).  Being a thin fabric, it would still be comfortable as a double layered type of thing.  I probably used about 1.5 yards of fabric.  To cut it out, I folded the fabric along the bottom edge of the skirt, being sure that the stretch ran side to side (pay attention to this!) so it was doubled, and then folded it again along the side, so that when I laid the pattern on top, I would have 4 layers of fabric.  I traced around it with some tailors chalk, and then cut it using scissors (one of those rolly cutters would have been way easier).

faux wrap jersey pencil skirt tutorial
faux wrap jersey pencil skirt tutorial

Once the fabric had been cut out, I made sure to determine which was the “right” side, that is, the side of the fabric that I wanted to face out.  It is a lot more subtle in jersey type fabrics than it is on a standard cotton.  The first thing that I did was I made the hem.  The back of the skirt needed to be 2 layers thick so I could avoid showing my underpants to anyone standing behind me, so I put the 2 good sides together, and sewed a simple stitch along the bottom of the skirt.  WHEN SEWING JERSEY, YOU MUST ALWAYS USE A ZIGZAG STITCH  There.  Now that that’s out of the way, we can move on.  Use a zigzag stitch.  This allows the fabric to stretch.  If you don’t, when you put the skirt on and move, you’re going to break the thread and then you’ll be totally bummed out when your seams fall apart.

So you sewed the 2 layers of the back together.  Now you need to turn them right side out and iron the hem.  By now you’ve probably realized that jersey loves to curl. This is great when you’re wanting it to not unravel, but it sucks when you’re trying to get it to lie flat.  Avoid stretching it at all while you’re trying to work with and sew it and this will minimize(but not eliminate) curling.  I went with a simple hem for my front pieces, just folding them under once and stitching to hem.  But I couldn’t get them to sit flat, so I pinned and ironed it.  Grrr.

faux wrap jersey pencil skirt tutorial

faux wrap jersey pencil skirt tutorial

Once I had the 2 layers of the back hemmed together, and the 2 layers of the front hemmed separately, I had to get one side each of the front fabric gathered.  I used this tutorial as a basis.  With the outside facing up, I sewed and gathered the left side of one piece, and the right side of the other.  I gathered about the bottom half to two thirds of each piece.  Getting it even was a lot more difficult that it seemed like it should have been.

faux wrap jersey pencil skirt tutorial

faux wrap jersey pencil skirt tutorial

Once I had the gathering determined, I set about pinning all 4 layers of the skirt together, right-sides facing in.  It was time consuming to make sure that everything was lined up as I wanted it to be  But I finally did it. I made sure the long piece of each front side matched up with the hem of the back.

faux wrap jersey pencil skirt tutorial

Then it was just a matter of sewing down each side.  After verifying fit, I decided to add the waistband, which is a piece of the same fabric, but instead of running the stretch side-to-side, it runs top to bottom, making it so the waistband fits tight.  It’s also really tight going over your butt and thighs, so you may have to do some test fitting to see if this is an option for you, or whether you’ll have to run your stretch horizontally.  Either way, the waistband is just a piece of fabric doubled over (right side out), and sewed along the seam that holds it together (making a loop).  Then you turn your skirt right side out, and pin the waistband to it, folded side down, so that the unfinished top of the skirt and the unfinished top of the waistband meet up.  Then just simply sew around that area.  You’re still using the zigzag stitch, right?  Then you just fold the waistband up, and you essentially have a finished skirt!

faux wrap jersey pencil skirt tutorial

At this point, you just need to do some test fitting to make sure it all fits well. Once you’re happy, trim all of the extraneous seam allowances off.  I finished my skirt on Saturday, and felt so proud of myself (I was also totally ready to be done) but then when I went to put it on Sunday afternoon, I realized that the zigzag stitch (and also the color of thread) that I used was not right.  The zigzag was far too “open” and resulted in the stitches kind of opening up and looking visible.  It wasn’t cute.  Set your stitch length much shorter and please be sure to use a thread that actually matches your fabric.

While I was picking at it, I ended up taking a lot of the seams out to change the way that the ruching laid.  The bottom of my outer layer ended up getting shortened side-to-side by probably 3″.  This helped to eliminate any parts of the skirt that were puffy or just laying weird. Sorry for the work bathroom selfies, I don’t have a full length mirror at home (I am just now realizing how strange that is).

faux wrap jersey pencil skirt tutorialfaux wrap jersey pencil skirt tutorial

These should be perfect cruising around Hawaii!