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Monthly Archives: October 2013

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October is almost finished! And with the end of October comes the end of my October Unprocessed challenge. One weekend I ate a couple s’mores, and those marshmallows are super processed. Other than that, I think I’ve done pretty well with the challenge. I have eaten very, very well this month. Curried lentils, squash, coffee cake, salads, stir-fried greens…. the list goes on. I have also enjoyed a few grilled cheese sandwiches with seasonal ingredients.

Oh, grilled cheese. So many different versions. Here is one of mine:

Grilled Cheese with Apples and Arugula

You need: two slices of bread (I used Whole Foods’ oatmeal sandwich bread), two slices of Havarti cheese, butter, arugula, and a sweet, crisp, fresh fall apple.

Basically, you make the grilled cheese the regular way- butter the bread, place the butter-side down on the pan, top with cheese, apple slices, and the other slice of bread, flip once the first side is browned and the cheese starts to melt. The trick here is: when the sandwich is fresh off of the stove, you quickly open the sandwich and stuff in a handful of arugula.  The cheese is all melted and should be stringy when you open the sandwich. Close it quickly so it stays hot!  Then cut it in half. Enjoy.

For those of you who don’t make a lot of grilled cheese sandwiches, it helps to cover the grilled cheese while it is in the pan to melt the cheese faster.

Yum quick dinner.

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My mom had this soft, emerald green, floor length silk skirt from the 90’s, and it had this really simple front detail- this extra flap on the front:

front detail

front detail

Wish I had taken a before picture! But here it is now. I deconstructed the skirt by ripping off the waistband and taking out two of the panels (it had 4, now it only has 2). I also shortened by cutting material off of the top to save the original hem. I made a new, slightly larger waistband from the excess material, sewed the sides back together, and here it is!

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I found this gorgeous fabric at a thrift store in Seattle a few years ago. Problem was, it was in the form of a very heavy skirt that I never wore. I’m glad I kept it around, because I finally decided to use it to replace the back of a denim shirt.

You need:

-Denim shirt

– fabric

– sewing gear (sewing machine, thread, scissors, etc.)

First, very neatly cut out the back of the shirt. You will be using this as your pattern.

Next, trace the denim piece you cut out onto the fabric. I made the new back piece larger than the denim piece, because I wanted the shirt to fit me a little more loosely. I also did this so the shirt won’t be too tight, because the denim is stretchy but the fabric is not.

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I serged the raw edges of the fabric.

Finally, I carefully pinned and then sewed the new fabric back onto the denim shirt. I sewed the seams together flat, rather than with the right sides together (to minimize bulk along the seams), and then zig zagged over the raw edges.

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whoops, photographer caught in the image!

whoops, photographer caught in the image

hey there!

hey there!

silly claire.

I think it’s totally a knockout piece. Maybe my favorite thing to wear this fall.

Thanks to A Beautiful Mess for the idea.

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I like eating food that is in season- it’s fresh and flavorful.  Fall vegetables, especially squash, are such wonderful comfort food as the leaves turn and the weather cools.  A friend in college showed this recipe to me, and now it is a fall staple. It’s also quick and super versatile.

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Roasted Butternut Squash:

small butternut squash

1/4 tsp salt

3/4 tsp smoked paprika

1/4 tsp cumin

sprinkle of garlic powder

1 Tbsp olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Cut the neck off of the butternut squash, peel it and then cut into one-inch cubes. Peel the bottom bulb, cut in half, and scrape out seeds with a spoon. Cut into cubes. Toss cut-up squash with spices and olive oil. Spread on a baking pan and roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes, turning the squash with a spatula halfway through. Let cool.

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I think the paprika suits the taste of the butternut squash well, but it would be easy to change the spices in this recipe to cinnamon and nutmeg, or something else you like.

For dinner, I ate this squash wrapped in a pita with hummus, ground beef and yogurt. It was delicious.  I have also served it as a side dish on its own, or as an appetizer on toast with hard cheese.

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The New York Times has an amazing website to browse through current and past NY fashion weeks. Find it here. From the archives (it’s crazy that fall ’13 is already “old” news, isn’t it?) I found some clothes that I think would make some great DIYs or sewing projects.

Ohne Titel

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Embellish a skirt, dress, or shirt by sewing a layer of sheer, textured fabric just under the hem of a skirt. The dress on the right is the look I’d go for. The dress on the left would be more complicated.

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Marios Schwab

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Paint these cool textures on to a burgundy or deep blue sweatshirt with fabric paint. Alternatively, cut out black felt patches in swirly shapes and sew them on.

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Alberta Feretti

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The shirt in the middle really caught my attention. Cut a the hem of a long, wide shirt like a “high to low” skirt, and then wear a belt around your waist. I also like these black and white belts. Use wide grosgrain or velvet ribbon. Tie the ribbon in a bow, or attach a buckle.


imageHere is another recipe from my October Unprocessed challenge! Kale salad. Around this time of year, the kale gets sweeter as the weather gets colder. This isn’t something I make too much earlier in the season because the greens can be too tough.

Anyway, back to lunch. I love big salads for lunch, piled high with whatever veggies and leftovers I have in the fridge. today it happened to be sweet corn, avocado, and apples.

First, I washed the kale, ripped it into little pieces and then stuffed as much of it as possible into my Tupperware container. I squeezed a lemon slice over it and drizzled on some olive oil and apple cider vinegar. next, I massaged the dressing into the kale. This helps make the greens more tender. I find that if I do this the night before and leave it in the fridge, the kale looks like it has been steamed and is even more tender. I think the acidity of the vinegar breaks it down. To finish I cut the toppings into little pieces and sprinkled them on top.

I popped the top on the container and threw it in my lunch bag, then into my backpack. Don’t forget a fork!

I try to have some protein on lunch salads, like a hard boiled egg or beans. I n this case, I didn’t have either, so I packed half of a peanutbutter sandwich. The salad was sweet, refreshing, and kept me full all afternoon.

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I wanted to share this card with you- I made it for my little sister. A few years ago, she came home from summer camp covered in henna tattoos, and generally enthralled by the designs used to decorate bodies with henna. Around this same time, I was in college and had a friend who was a master henna artist. She would create elaborate designs that ran up my arm and down my side, which looked super cool when I went rock climbing in a tank top or sports bra.
Feeling inspired, I decorated block letters with henna designs, using pen on card stock. I looked at pictures of henna designs on the web to get some ideas. “Ro” is her nickname. She loved it and has saved it to this day, pinned to her memory board along side pictures of friends. Im pleased with how it turned out as well, and I think it’s wholly unique.
Happy crafting!


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I said my mind was a churnin’, and this is what I came up with. This bracelet is made out of these two items from my last post, and some of the leather that I picked up last time I went to the fabric district (more on that later).

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I experimented with different bracelet shapes and different combinations of the objects. I decided on the long, silver metal piece to give the bracelet more structure, and liked the circular piece as the focal point. Once I had a plan, I made a paper pattern.  When I was making the pattern, it helped me to draw half of what I wanted it to look like, then fold it in half and trace it to make it symmetrical.

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The bracelet is the length around my wrist, + 1 inch (about 7 inches). I made it fit snugly because the leather will eventually stretch out. I used the pattern to cut out a piece of leather. I also used a mallet to hammer the long piece of metal flat, and then bent it into a curve with my hands. I held the pieces together with tape while I stitched the objects to the leather, using a thick, sharp needle and some waxed upholstery thread. Finally, I added a snap and covered the stitching with another piece of leather.

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The key in using found objects in jewelry is in the planning. The time I spent experimenting with different ideas and coming up with the pattern was longer than the actual time I spent making the bracelet. Let your ideas flow, don’t focus too much on the perfect finished piece until you have a starting idea you like. Then come up with the series of steps you are going to work through to get from raw materials to the finished product. The process of construction will be faster, smoother, and less frustrating if you have a solid plan to work from. I find I am less likely to stop a project mid-way if I am working from a solid plan. This goes for sewing projects and most DIYs too.

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Good luck!


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Just last week I felt the first nip of cool fall weather. I’ve noticed that the city tends to stay much warmer than the surrounding areas- whenever I visit my parents, as soon as i get off the train it feels 10 degrees cooler even though the thermometer says both places are the same temperature.
With fall comes all things pumpkin. It can be a bit of overdone, but I really enjoy it. I’ve been getting that fall pumpkin itch. I realized I didn’t have a loaf pan to make pumpkin bread, so I made pumpkin cake instead (adapted from this recipe). It turned out to be moist, dense and delicious. I think it works well as a coffee cake and as a dessert.

For the cake:

1 c wheat flour

1 c white flour

1/2 c brown sugar

2 Tbsp white sugar

3 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice

3 Tbsp canola oil

3/4 cup yogurt

1 15oz can of pumpkin puree

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 eggs

1/3 cup chocolate chips (or craisins, or chopped nuts)

For the crumble:

1/4 c oats

2 Tbsp butter

2 Tbsp sugar

2 Tbsp flour

Mix dry ingredients and chocolate chips together. Mix wet ingredients in a separate bowl. Stir wet ingredients into dry. Mash the ingredients for the crumble together with a fork in a separate bow. Pour cake batter into a greased 9 inch pan. Sprinkle with the crumble and bake at 350 F for 45 minutes.

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candid shot, about to put the cake in the oven

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