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4/05/2018

Shibori Inspired Curtains

4/05/2018 0 Comments
Isn't it funny how one project can spawn another?

So I updated the blinds in the living room {HERE} and then I decided that there was just too much white going on with those windows, and I needed to tone that down.

But what to do?

Well, obviously, I was going to add some color, but what color? And how?

The how was actually pretty easy, because I knew I wanted something natural feeling and I spied an indigo dyed wall hanging at Target and it was instant love. That is what I wanted to emulate for my curtains. A quick google search revealed that shibori style dying would be just the ticket. For those that don't know, shibori is the Japanese method of resist dying for fabric. I wasn't going to be using a wood block in my project, cause I'm lazy like that, but I did love the geometric lines and symmetry to some of the shibori dying techniques.

So after a quick trip to Ikea (love Ikea!) to fetch some white 108" curtains, and then realizing that I bought the wrong white curtains. I had bought tab-top curtains, and I wanted traditional rod-pocket curtains. No biggie! A trip to my sewing machine and I stitched those tabs to the back of the curtain and voila! I have some rod-pocket curtains now.

Now it was time to agonize over what color to dye said curtains. After some (ha!) back and forth over colors, I decided that a pretty primrose yellow would be just the thing for the living room.

I apologize for the lack of pictures here. Hopefully, you guys can visualize what I'm talking about here.

Now in order for me to have the loosely geometric line effect, I needed to fold the curtains a specific way. I would basically fold my curtain like you would the flag. In my research, I failed to notice just how they folded the fabric on the diagonal. This would come into play later. I placed 3 rubber bands loosely around each side of my triangles.

So I mixed up my dye bath following the directions on RIT's website {Primrose Yellow}, and then put my curtains into the bath for 30 minutes or so.

I pulled out my curtains, and I was in love. Then I rinsed them, and I was not so in love anymore. While the color had been what I wanted, my folding technique had thwarted my dying process. Only the top of my curtain was really dyed, and the yellow was not a pleasant one.

Determined not to be thwarted, I hung up the curtain and it became abundantly apparent that I had screwed up. The hubs came home and was very kind in his opinion about the newly dyed curtains. I told him they looked like pee, and I was going to redo them. He did not argue with my assessment of them.

Ok, so what went wrong? First, was my color choice. The yellow was not strong enough, and after seeing the yellow curtains against the strong green of the room, it just wasn't going to work. I needed a color that would hold its own against the greens, purples, and reds in the room. Hmmm, what color would work with those colors? The color in the room is Grape Leaf by Behr, and the rest of the colors I've picked are similar to grapes......  You see where I'm going with this? I needed a nice raisin color. Clearly, my room was speaking to me. RIT's website came to the rescue again and I decided on Tawny Port. See it {HERE}.

So now that the color was decided on, I needed to examine my folding technique. When you fold a flag, you wrap it up in itself in a series of diagonal folds, and that's where my problem was. The dye couldn't penetrate all those wrapped layers. If I wanted the edges of my curtains to receive the most dye, I needed all the folded edges exposed, so rather than wrapping the diagonal folds, I needed to accordion fold them. & Then We Tried has a great post about shibori folding techniques {HERE}.

So now that I knew how I'd screwed up, it was time for take 2. I mixed up another batch of dye. This one definitely looked like a witch's brew.

I folded my curtains like the flag again, then I refolded them the way I needed to. Sometimes I'm a slow learner. Then into the bath, the curtains went. They hung out for about 45 minutes.

Note, I didn't bleach the yellow out of my curtains. I put them in the new dye bath as they were, and said a prayer that it'd all work out. I'm a crazy hippie that way.

Luckily, I was not destined to fail a 2nd time. After rinsing the curtains, I was so in love with them! They turned out exactly as I envisioned. Into the washing machine with a healthy dose of vinegar was the next step. Then into the dryer until they were mostly dry.

While the curtains were doing their thing in the laundry room, I started hanging up the new curtain hardware. I screwed up again. I only bought enough hardware for one bloody curtain. Of course! Argh!
 
Well, my one curtain looked super nice hanging up by its lonesome for about 2 weeks, before I got back out to Ikea to buy more hardware, but once I got the 2nd one hung it was totally worth the wait.


 I love my new curtains, but I now I need to attend to some touch-ups on those walls.

Thanks so much for stopping by!

3/20/2018

The Long and Short of Rock 'n Roll DC Half Marathon

3/20/2018 0 Comments
Well, I intended to have this post written and posted on Thursday, but some little evil bug decided to waylay those plans. Stupid spring.

So now that I'm feeling human again, I'm so excited to dish about how my third outing at the Rock 'n Roll DC Half Marathon went.

I was nervous about the weather in the week leading up to the race because it's March and it's temperamental. The forecast ranged from snow and rain, to slightly windy, and then the forecast settled on mostly sunny with low winds and in the low 50's. Perfect weather. WHAT!!?!? I was going to have nice weather for a race? That's unusual.

A post shared by Heather (@sewhalfcrazy) on 


So as the morning of the race dawned, I was up and eating breakfast - obsessing over the weather forecast in front of me. The winds were a little higher than previously predicted, and having run this race before, I know that along the water the winds are always a little worse than they say, or at least they feel like it. Also, knowing how I react to wind and cold in general on long runs, I decide that I need to adjust what I'm going to wear for the race. I opt to wear a slightly heavier jacket, figuring that if I get too warm then I can just unzip it a bit.

It was 6am before I knew it, and my ride was picking me up. There was a group of us again from our MRTT chapter running the half and the full marathons. Unfortunately, the marathoner's race started at 7am and the half at 8:30, so we weren't able to see the marathoners off. A quick stop at Starbucks, and then we were off towards DC.

A post shared by Heather (@sewhalfcrazy) on 


We get to the Smithsonian with plenty of time to spare. It was cold, but the staging area was set up exactly as it has been in year's past. Gear check was simple, and the lines for the porta-potties moved steadily along. Everyone was trying to stay warm and loose.

The crowd in the chute was subdued, but happy. People chatting, stretching, warming up. I was in the corral by myself. My friend and her husband were two corrals in front of me. When I signed up for the race, I put my finishing time as 2:45. I figured I would hit this race the same as I did for the PW Half. I would just run whatever was comfortable. I had also decided not to bring any hydration with me, and use the course support. I was excited not to have my pack on me. My form sometimes suffers when I wear it because I tend to pull my shoulders to my ears when I get tired, and wearing the pack seems to exacerbate that.

So the race finally starts, and we slowly make our way back towards the start. My corral starts about 20 minutes after the gun fires. We start off down Constitution Ave. and its gorgeous as always. The first mile floats by without me even noticing. I was just enjoying myself and the sights along the way. 11:52 pace

We wind ourselves around the National Mall and head directly towards the Lincoln Memorial. The first water stop is in the shadow of that gorgeous marbled wonder. I decide that I'm going to hit every water stop since I'm perpetually dehydrated, and because why not? We then bear right on to Rock Creek Pkwy. headed towards the Kennedy Center. As we run along the river, I'm really happy that I opted for the heavier coat. The winds on the river were chillier than advertised. Coming out from under the building we hit Mile 2, and I realize that I completely missed the first-mile notification. I also figure that the clocks started 2 hours before and I was running faster than I realized. Oh well, it's still a comfortable pace. 11:39 pace


We turn right and run up along the side of the building, almost directly into the sun. It's getting a little warm now, with the sun fully out and me all in black. I open the neck of my jacket up and instantly feel better. This stretch of the course is boring. We do hit the first checkpoint though. The clock says that I've been running for about 36 minutes. That's not bad for a 5k time. 12:05 pace

Running back towards Rock Creek Pkwy, the course is the same as it was on the way out. At least we're not running into the sun anymore. This mile goes by pretty quickly. 12:05 pace.

Finally back onto Rock Creek Pkwy, and I'm so happy. It's such a pretty stretch. I mean it's hilly, but it's also gorgeous. I love watching the runners across the way, who aren't racing. They're just out running their normal Saturday morning run. It'd be so great to be able to run this stretch all the time. I grab some more water and take a fuel packet. I'm not familiar with the brand, but I remember seeing them at the expo. I decide that I'm going to stick with my gels. The Incredibles were under one of the underpasses handing out high fives and cheers. I love that they're always there. 12:14 pace

At the end of this mile is the Blue Mile. I can't help but tear up as I run along. It never fails. I read all the names and try not to think about the hill that is coming. The hill is awful. It's so steep and seems to go on forever. I eventually arrive at it though. It's lined with volunteers holding American flags and cheering on the racers. I start my trudge up the hill. I've been good about my hill training this year. I kick it down a gear and start working. The volunteers are cheering and offer high fives. I end up giving so many people high fives, because it's just too hard to pull my hand back in, and there's no way I'm going to stop getting up this hill with all of them looking. I continue to climb. I'm slow, but I'm not walking. I grunt near the end of the flags, near the halfway point of the race, and the volunteers cheer in my ear. Will this hill never end? And who the heck thought it was a good idea to put the halfway mark of this race on this hill? I did it though. I made it up that bloody stupid steep hill, and I didn't stop once. My legs are burning, but I reach the top and I take a nice deep breath, and it feels amazing. 12:32 pace.


Running downhill has never felt so good. We're running through Adams Morgan, and it's so lovely. I know I'm running slower, but I figure conquering the hill gives me a little leeway on running slower. I'm not running for time. I'm running for me. 13:53 pace.

There are a few hills and whatnot now, but looking at all the scenery is great. I start thinking about my Small Fry. He's hiking up Stony Man Trail. I'm jealous that I can't be there with him. I know he's having fun, and that he's in good hands, but still, I'm jealous. He's the one that spurs me on at the end of a race to go faster. He's the one that is always fighting to prove himself, even though he has no reason to do so. He has to be on top. My adorable, infuriating, quick-witted, smart-mouthed, caring boy. I miss him. I miss that I'm missing the hike with him. I know what he'd tell me though. He'd tell me to get it done, to finish. He'd do it with those big brown eyes and those terribly long lashes (totally jealous of my son's eyelashes). Well if I can't be there with him, I might as well make him proud. I can start to hear the drums from the drum band. Oh, that means I'm near Howard University and the reservoir. And those birds. I'm running down the hill and the drumbeats are getting louder. My footfalls are starting to match the beats. I'm feeling really good, and I feel like my form is so much better than it has been lately. 13:22 pace.


So the drum band is behind me, but I can still hear the beats, the reservoir is to my left, and some crazy seagulls above me. Please don't poop on me this year! These seagulls are crazy, they're acting like starlings. I'm nervous running under them, but there's nothing to be done about it. Luckily, I leave the crazy birds behind and continue on my way. The great thing about this part of the race are the spectators. I mean the spectators are great all the time, but the ones along this bit offer alcohol. I don't partake, because beer, ew. It does make me smile though, and the street reeks of beer, even after I've passed the Guinness for Winners of Mile 9, and Mile 9 Beers. It's a gross smell, but it also makes me happy, because the other runners are very excited about the libations. I realize that I don't have enough gels to finish the race, as I eat my last two. Oh well. I'll figure that out. 13:08 pace.


We're on North Capitol Street, and it's so sunny and bright! It's gorgeous now. I unzip my jacket a bit more and take in the sights. We pass Prospect Hill Cemetery, and the Capitol Building looms in front of us. The only downside to this bit is that it goes under roadways, which means dips and hills. I keep my pace steady, and just really enjoy this time. 13:08 pace.


How am I so close to being done? The sights are keeping me entertained along with the other runners. I notice that I've never really left the pack of runners. It's spaced out a bit, but I'm still surrounded by runners. A lot of them are walking now, but that's ok. I'm not. I'm still feeling good. My toe probably has a blister on it, but that's ok. It's not too bothersome. I decide to take the SIS gel that I had picked up at the first fueling station. I'm not too sure about it, but it wasn't terrible. It was cherry flavored, so not terrible, but I couldn't finish it. We'll see how it goes. 12:51 pace.

I'm slowing down, I don't know why. Maybe it was that gel. I don't think I'll use that gel again. Your form is terrible, Heather. So I straighten up and just keep going. It doesn't matter how slow you go, so long as you finish. I'm looking at all the people around me who are walking and I feel for them. I've been there. You got this. Just keep going. You're almost done! 13:53 pace.

Let's kick it up a notch, girlie. Your form is good. Your calves feel good. Your toe will heal, and it's just a blister. You've had thousands of them. Hey, look there's a 20k sign! Woohoo! Only 1k left! Still chugging along. One foot then the other. I'm hungry. I wonder what we're gonna eat. I bet my friends are done. I wonder how the marathon is going. I feel surprisingly good. Man, I love running. Running is the best. Tra La La La! Small Fry would've laughed at that. Then he would've told me that I'd need to be naked to say that. Then Baby Girl would've shouted it while jumping off the couch. I hope dance went well. Hey, look! There's RFK! Woot! I am almost done!!! 12:38 pace.

I keep my pace pretty even, until the last 100m or so. Then it's time to start shaking out those legs. Let's do our little sprint. Small Fry would be proud. Man, so much leg to move.

A post shared by Heather (@sewhalfcrazy) on 
And I'm done!

My official time was 2:48:37. It's a good run of the mill time for me, but more importantly, I had a freaking awesome time. This was a great race, and I felt really good afterward. I wasn't stiff or sore like I usually am after a race.

I took advantage of the changing tents and realized that it wasn't just a blister. *graphic toe warning*



Oops.

Oh well. I guess my shoe wasn't laced tight enough.

Being sick right after damaging my toe like that did have its upside - my toe was allowed to heal. You know I would've rushed it and started running on that toe before I should've. It's still black and blue more than a week later, but it's not painful anymore.

I can't wait for next year! I'm also hoping that Cherry Blossom has the same lovely weather in a few weeks!

Thanks for reading. Cheers!

3/08/2018

Mason Jar Lattes: Minty Mocha Magic

3/08/2018 1 Comments
Sometimes you can improve on an already awesome recipe, this is not one of those times. We're keeping it simple folks.

March = Green. Green = Mint. Mint = Chocolate. All of this equals a happy Heather.

Dana is a whiz in the kitchen when it comes to syrups and getting her lattes just so. I applaud her for this; except I'm lazy and cannot be bothered with all of that work right now. Dana has a lovely minty mocha recipe that includes hot chocolate mix and a candy cane. I have neither of those, and I find that the hot cocoa mixes to be too sweet for my liking. So here's my Lazy Girl Minty Mocha fix.

Minty Mocha

  • 1/8 tsp Mint Extract (mine is spearmint)
  • 1 cup Chocolate Milk (I was lazy and bought chocolate milk from the store)
  • 4 oz espresso or strong coffee
So follow the recipe for our original Mason Jar Latte {HERE}. Substitute the milk in the original recipe with the chocolate milk, and don't add sugar.  Add the extract directly to the coffee, and VOILA! Minty Mocha Magic. 

Now Dana always has some tie into books and takes a pretty picture, so I'm not going to do that, cause I haven't read any books lately unless you count patterns. She is currently trying to come up with ideas to "help" me as I write this post, cackling all the while. So here is my offering to you. 

I've titled it Minty Mocha Morning Madness. 

And one more for good measure. 

Cheers! 

3/01/2018

Pattern Review - Simplicity S0980

3/01/2018 0 Comments

Have you ever had a moment where you didn't know which project to work on, so you start on something new? Yea, me too.

This is what happened last Saturday when I had a few hours to myself and didn't know what to do with them. I decided that I needed a new skirt to wear for our outing that evening, so I pulled out a pattern I'd been wanting to make and grabbed some green denim that was originally intended for jeans but would now continue their existence as a skirt.

I don't know how long I've had this 70's  inspired pattern, but it's been a while and when I was "cleaning up" my sewing room (read - moving piles around) I found it and the denim that was never going to become pants. I mean I bought the denim to become pants, but I have no idea what I was thinking.

This pattern would be the perfect beginning sewing pattern. It's straightforward and incorporates a lot of skills that a beginner should cover, but not so many as to be overwhelming. The guide sheet also does an excellent job of outlining the construction of this super simple, versatile skirt.

I decided at about 1:30 to make the skirt, and by 2ish I was sewing it up. Of course, I didn't allow myself enough time to get it finished before my deadline because I decided to jazz it up a bit by adding top-stitching details to each of the seams. I also didn't have enough buttons. So many little problems adding up. The kicker came when I ran out of bobbin thread while top-stitching the waistband. That's when I walked away for a day.

The next day is when I realized that I screwed up my buttonholes. Not terribly, but I lined them up wrong when I was marking them, so I ended up having to add an extra to my skirt, but not that you can notice.

With the skirt finally done, and me trying to think outside of my fashion box, I headed to Target to take advantage of the sales and clearance stuff. Our Target is being remodeled so there is a lot of clearance! Score!

I ended up finding this fun striped shirt, which I'm not sure if it's black stripes or very dark blue stripes, but I kind of like that I can't tell, and this lovely mustard seed yellow cardigan. Some old wedges out of my closet, and the new skirt, and VOILA! I have a fun, versatile outfit that works all year.
My purple locks even worked with my outfit. I need to touch-up my grays, but the Pravanna violet is still looking good even after a month.

2/22/2018

Pattern Review - Simplicity D0844

2/22/2018 0 Comments

A bit ago, I saw this Instagram post come across my feed.

I was intrigued because pants, and especially jeans, are the most difficult to fit to a person, and I have found that most pant patterns are not fitted to anyone, and almost always require adjustment. I will give that they have gotten better in recent years with the addition of curvy, skinny, and average sizing, but even still there are fitting issues.

After reading all of the comments from Simplicity and MimiG, my mind was made up that I would give these jeans a go. I know I have mentioned on a few occasions that I am not a one-size-fits-all girl. I span 3 sizes from bust to hips. So much fun! Not. In addition to spanning all those sizes, I regularly have to lengthen patterns, because they are made for the average(?) female. Although these jeans have a 30" inseam, which seems extremely short to me. Usually, I prefer a 36" inseam, because high waters scarred me as a child. No one likes high waters, Mom! It wasn't her fault. It was a different time. They didn't make long length jeans the way they do now. Being as these jeans are skinny jeans, I didn't need 36". 34" would do the trick. So now with all of the tidbits settled, it was time to create new pattern pieces from the originals.

I watched MimiG's sew along videos for these jeans, not because I needed to know how to put them together, but because the guide sheet was not very clear on how to choose the right fit for your body for these jeans. MimiG did go into more detail, but really you could devote an entire 15-minute video on how to properly fit jeans to your person. She spent maybe 30 seconds, but it was an informative 30 seconds. In the video, MimiG says that she likes her clothing to be form-fitting, and denim will lose its elasticity and sag after a bit, and who wants a saggy butt in their jeans? No one. So she has the pattern piece in front of her and says that she could cut out the pattern of her hip measurement, but because she likes her clothes to be well-fitting, she opts to cut out the next smallest size, which happens to be 2" smaller than her actual hip measurements. This is not new, but it's totally dependent on how you like your clothing to fit your body. I like my clothes to fit well and follow my curves, but I don't like looking like I've been poured into them.

So I follow her advice and decide to cut out my pattern a size smaller as well. This happens to the be the size that my waist measurement falls into. Let me try and clear all this up because it's a lot of words where numbers might be better.

My hips are 48" around. My waist is 34". According to the powers that be my hips are a size 22 and my waist a size 20 according to this pattern (and every other pattern almost). For a size 22, the finished hip measurement (finished = hip measurement + wearing ease) is 48-1/2", which would fit me great, but the waist would be oh-so-gappy. My biggest problem with all jeans is that the waist never fits, so cutting out this pattern at a 22 would not do me any favors. The finished hip measurement of a size 20 was 45-1/2", which is 2-1/2" smaller than my hips, but the denim I was going to be using has a fair amount of stretch, so I could cut them out and not worry about not being able to fit my hips in them. Cutting them out as a 20 would also help ensure that the waist would fit more accurately. So with this plan in place, I set out to make myself new pattern pieces to accommodate the added length I would need, and ensure that I could reuse the leg pattern, because if these jeans turned out well, I was going to be making myself some more jeans, maybe in a boot cut!

As a side note, I could've altered the jeans through the hipline, but I've done that before and I don't like how it looks. It's much easier to just go with a smaller size and pray for the best. Not the most reliable of chances, but I've made enough pants, and been dissatisfied with enough of them that I was willing to take the chance.

So after I got my new pattern piece made, it was time to dig through the stash and figure out which denim I was going to use. Yes, I have multiple cuts of denim, because I hoard fabric. This is another chance at stash-busting my hoard, and if the jeans don't work out, then at least I have one less cut of fabric in the stash.

I also took a chance on a different way of cutting out my pattern. For years, I have pinned my pattern piece to the fabric and then cut it out, making sure to notch out the placement triangles. This time I used really big washers (same as MimiG did in her sew-along) and cut out all of the pattern pieces, and instead of notching out the triangles, I cut very small slits at them. This was big people. I don't do change, but I've taken several classes on sewing and pattern design and this is the way the instructors all do it, so why not see if this way worked for me. It was different. I did like not having to notch out the triangles, as that can be a pain in the ass, but not having the pattern piece pinned down was nerve-wracking at times. I don't know that I'm totally sold on not pinning down the pattern piece, but I'll give it a few more goes just for the sake of thoroughness.

So my pattern is cut out and it's time to sew. The guide sheet was very good at detailing and instructing on how to sew up this pattern, so I'm not really going to expand further on that. There are parts of pant/jean construction that will always be a pain, and this pattern is no different. My machine is starting to show her age and persnicketiness and gave me trouble at several parts of construction due to the thickness of the fabric layers. I may have to invest in a new machine here soon because to get her serviced/tuned up would cost as much as a brand new machine. This makes me sad. I may be more attached to my sewing machine than is healthy. I opted to invest in a nicer top-stitching thread, and the details really stand out. The jeans are starting look like legit!
   
 I get to try on the pattern before attaching the waistband, and I love how it fits so far! My hips are being hugged by the denim without being too tight. The waist is loose, but the waistband isn't attached yet, so I'm not concerned about that.
I get the waistband on and I'm in LURVE! They fit! They look great! I'm so happy. I will be making one small alteration though. Across the front of the jeans, they are a perfect fit, but once you reach the small of my back, it's gappy. Hello, gap. You haven't been missed. Luckily, the curvy pattern of these jeans allows for a taller yoke at the small of the back, and they sit almost at your natural waist. This is a good thing for all of us belt wearers because the jeans will be less apt to sag down below the belt while wearing them. So for the next rendition of these jeans, I will be altering the yoke to be a size 18 at the top of the yoke, and a size 20 at the bottom. I will then cut out a size 18 waistband, and hope for the best, because I will definitely be making these jeans again, and while digging through my stash I found another gorgeous denim which is just begging to be made into some trouser-type boot cuts.
I added rivets to my finished jeans and then proceeded to wear them the very next day. They are the most comfortable jeans I own, and I can't wait to make another pair. Right after, I pick up more top-stitching thread.
   
 I can't thank MimiG and Simplicity enough for these jeans and pattern, but I would suggest adding a page to the guide sheet on fitting said jeans. I would say that these jeans would be appropriate for an advanced beginner to beginning intermediate sewer. The fly is the main reason for this because even as an experienced seamstress it's still a pain in the ass. Its the nature of the beast.

Thank so much for visiting!

2/13/2018

Mason Jar Lattes: Pomegranate Latte

2/13/2018 0 Comments
Happy Galentine’s Day! What’s Galentine’s Day, you ask? In the immortal words of Leslie Knope from Parks and Recreation
Oh it’s only the best day of the year. Every February 13th, my lady friends and I leave our husbands and our boyfriends at home, and we just come and kick it, breakfast-style. Ladies celebrating ladies. It’s like Lilith Fair, minus the angst. Plus frittatas.
For your frittata needs, I recommend you check out this recipe from Heather {HERE}. It’s amazing! *Drool…* Ahem, sorry. Anyway, my contribution to your Galentine’s breakfast is coffee because I love you all.

I got this idea from my favorite local coffee shop, Capitol Coffee. They had a pomegranate latte on offer for a little while back in November and December. It was so good, I ended up getting two that morning while I was working there. And then they stopped making it! Fine. Another local coffee shop, The Frothy Monkey, had one too, but it just wasn't as good. I looked for a recipe online, but Google failed me. What?! I know. Torani makes a pomegranate syrup, but the ingredient list on the back brought out some serious side-eye in me. So, as per my usual style, I decided to take matters into my own hands.

Fair warning: this is by far the fussiest coffee recipe I’ve ever developed. For you, though, it should be easy because I've already done the hard part.

Pomegranate Latte

  • 1.5 cups pomegranate juice
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 mason jar latte recipe (link here), minus the sugar


Pour the juice into a saucepan and turn up to med/medium-high heat (depending on how enthusiastic your burners are). Mine are quite excitable, so I just do medium heat. Boil the juice until it reduces in volume by about half (give or take, it doesn't have to be exact), 20 to 30 minutes. I used a silicone measuring cup to check my volume. Once you've got about half the volume of juice, which will now be slightly thicker, add the sugar and whisk to dissolve. Once the sugar is dissolved, add the baking soda and whisk really good to integrate it throughout the syrup. It will bubble a lot, so be sure you're using a container with high sides! Leave the mixture to run out its chemical reaction, checking it after about 20 minutes or so. When all the bubbles have disappeared, give the syrup another good whisk and let sit for about 10 more minutes. Then add the syrup to your latte according to your taste. The pomegranate is a pretty subtle flavor and it's tart, which works against the sugar, so I do two tablespoons with a normal 8oz coffee cup. Stir to combine and enjoy!


Pro-tip: if you have a Trader Joe's near you, hit that for your pom juice first. I paid $10 for this one jar. GAH! 😖 Your boy TJ has the hookup on more affordable pom juice. Sprouts does too. Basically, any shop that specializes in natural and organic foods will probably have a better price than your run-of-the-mill grocery store. Like everything associated with Valentine's Day, Pom juice is gonna be a little pricey no matter where you buy it, so do a little cost comparing.


Here you can see where I started and where I ended. Like I said in the recipe above, about half of your original volume is where you wanna finish, but it's okay if you're a little off. Both these pictures are pre-sugar addition. Oh, and don't worry about the slightly distressed nature of the pictures. That's just the filter I like to use. Warning: hot syrup burns like a mutha! Please be safe when whisking. That's why I like my high-sided, silicone measuring cup here.

Oh, and in case you're curious as to why I used brown sugar, it's because brown sugar has a warmer flavor. It's sweet, of course, but the molasses in it gives the drink depth, which you need because pomegranate is quite tart, almost acerbic when concentrated.


Time for science! You may be wondering why I added baking soda. That seems kind of weird, right? Well, I learned the hard way that pomegranate juice is quite acidic, acidic enough to curdle the milk in a latte. Chunky coffee is so gross, you guys. Super, super gross. So I did some research and experimentation with the first couple of batches--these pictures are from the recipe I made after I worked out all the kinks--and the answer I kept coming to was baking soda. Remember the fun vinegar and baking soda volcanoes you made in science class? Yeah, same concept. The baking soda neutralizes acid, and the ensuing chemical reaction creates carbon dioxide, which is where all the bubbles come from.

It was tricky figuring out how much baking soda to use, though, because it's quite a salty substance. And nobody wants salty coffee. Blech! I started with small amounts of baking soda, and endured more yucky lattes than I care to recall before finally developing the right formula.


Tadaa! Pomegranate syrup that won't curdle your milk or taste like a salt lick. The result is a subtle, slightly tart, berry-ish flavor, surrounded by a hug of warm, mellow brown sugar. I've decided to pair this lovely drink with one of my all-time favorite love stories, starring the indomitable Elizabeth Bennett: Pride and Prejudice. *Swoon!* Jane Austen is my hero!
In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you. ~Mister Darcy

Thanks for reading!

2/09/2018

That Damn Chair - A Remodeling Story

2/09/2018 2 Comments
Have you ever had a project that seemed simple and straightforward, and then it turned into this teeming monster that wants to thwart you at every turn?

Yea. Me too. 

Those projects, ugh. Those projects are the ones that make you want to throw a tantrum. 

This chair was like that. It should've been a straightforward job. Remove old crappy upholstery. Clean up the wood. Paint the wood. Add new foam to seat. Cover new foam and existing foam with batting. Add new fabric. Finish off with trim, and VOILA! A brand new old chair. 

If only it'd been that straightforward. 

I picked up this chair ages ago with the intention of revamping it, but it wasn't until I needed a better/prettier chair for my computer desk that I was motivated to actually do it. After moving my desk into the living room, I didn't like seeing one of our plain old kitchen chairs at the desk, and new that "Throne," as we'd come to call it, would be perfect. Except it was ugly. Puce velvet upholstery with walnut finished wood. Yuck. Good bones, but yuck. So there starts my tale of how this chair turned into such a project.

Now to be fair and honest, the trouble didn't begin until after I got my pretty computer throne painted and was starting on reupholstering the back of the chair, but let me start at the beginning. 

After removing all of the old upholstery, I wiped her down with a solution of warm water and vinegar and got off some really gross gunk. I decided that I'd paint the chair the same color as my laptop desk, which you can read about {HERE}. The color is chocolate raspberry and it's by Valspar. I picked up a sample size and then turned it into chalk paint, using {THIS} recipe. After two coats, the chair was ready for the fabric.

So the chair is probably ~40 years old. There's a groove where all of the fabric on the back was stapled into and then finished off with welting. Don't you know, I don't have a stapler that fits in that groove? I went to Lowe's to buy an electric stapler that looked like it had the extended nose I needed to fit inside the groove, but it didn't. It was a dirty, little, misleading stapler. It got returned posthaste. 
So then it was on to Plan B, just staple the fabric inside the small edge of wood between the edge of the back opening and the groove. No, go. The wood splintered and generally didn't like staples trying to be shoved into that area. 

Plan C emerged with me altering the plan and the look of the chair so that I could staple the fabric up near the decorative carvings on the chair. This would extend the upholstered area of the chair's back, but it would still look good and solve my stapling dilemma. Until I ran out of staples. I check the box and the box was empty. Of course, it was. Luckily (?) the box wasn't empty, it had just been emptied into the drawer in the toolbox. I have staples again! I finished stapling the back fabric of the chair, and it's looking pretty good. 

I couldn't find new 1/2" foam for the back cushion, so I took the foam that was on the chair and sandwiched it between some batting I had. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. The seat cushion needed to be replaced. The foam fell apart if you looked sideways at it, so a quick trip to the new Hobby Lobby in town garnered me some nice 2"x 22"x22" foam, that I then cut down to size. I traced the plywood seat bottom and cut ever so carefully around the edges.  Then I wrapped the top of that sucker in more batting. 

I spray my back cushion with a bit of spray adhesive and line it up against the fabric I'd already stapled and glue it in place. I wasn't going to be adding the decorative buttons and didn't want my foam or batting moving around. I probably didn't need to do this, but better safe than sorry. Then it was time to staple the front of the back cushion on. That actually went pretty smooth, other than occasionally putting a staple on top of another staple which worked out oh so well.
I get the back of the chair upholstered and then move onto the seat cushion. Fairly straightforward. I did buy some pretty slick looking metallic silver cording and start to edge the cushion in it and decide that I don't actually like the look on the seat, so I remove everything I'd just stitched down, and sew up the cushion. I ended up tracing the plywood seat bottom on the wrong side of my fabric and added a 1/2" seam allowance all the way around. Then I cut a 3" strip of fabric for the side of my cushion, and lined up the stripes in the back, and stitched the sides to the top of the cushion. I clipped the side fabric to my stitching at the corners and around the curves. In hindsight, I should've given myself more fabric on the edges just to make pulling it around the seat cushion easier, but it all worked out in the end. 
I glued on the silver metallic cording to the back of the chair and hated it. Unfortunately, when I was removing the trim, the glue did a bit of damage to both the chair and the fabric. I needed to fix what I'd just destroyed, only this time I'm out of staples. I go to Lowe's and buy the staples that fit my stapler, only they don't fit. What the hell? My stapler takes 1/4" staples. I bought 1/4" staples, but my staple gun won't fire the staples. WHAT THE HELL!? So I take out the staples, throw a small, angry tantrum, make myself a cup of coffee and head back out to the toolbox praying to find more staples. My prayers were answered. I found just enough staples to fix the back of the chair again. 

Then it's back to Hobby Lobby to find more trim. I end up finding a really nice braid that's on the wider side, which was needed to hide some of the more awful damage. The downside to wider braid is fitting into the tight corners of the chair back, but I'll take tight corners over showing ripped fabric, and as I learned hot glue is no joke when it comes to adhering stuff so I wasn't worried about the fabric giving way once I got the braid glued down. 
I finished gluing the braid and immediately loved my decision to go with a different trim. The wider, less flashy trim was perfect for the chair. Rather than competing with the bold fabric and color choice, it compliments it perfectly. A couple of touch-ups to the paint and this throne is ready for action! 
So there it is. That damn chair is done, and functioning wonderfully. What more could I ask for?

Thanks so much stopping by!