UFO unearthed from oblivion

Kristy in Sydney (darn hyperlink isn’t working again: http://loweryourpresserfoot.blogspot.be/ ) is an admirable combination of working mum and strict adherent to no UFOs. In her honour I salvaged a long slumbering UFO from a year ago to the top of my sewing list: the Vogue Diane von Furstenberg lookalike wrap dress from their Very Easy collection.

Vogue 8379

Also I’m sewing under a deadline to get new work clothes by Friday, Day 1 of my new job! Nothing like going to a project that is already partially completed. It’s a winner for many sewists, and has nursing access for nursing mums (like Kristin and I).

My version has been updated today to include cutting the wrap front skirt and upper bodice. My collar and sleeve cuffs are probably lost to oblivion but they will be cut out once DS wakes up from his nap, he is sleeping in the room with the ironing board folded up on the wall. I like to fuse interfacings on uncut fabric and then trim around to get the perfect fit.
My sewing machine is threaded with matching thread in the needle and bobbin.
I’ve staystitched the back neckline.

Time to thread my serger and do major construction. Then back for a photo update. Update 70 minutes later DS is up, but I managed a lot of construction. It’s sewn enough to try it on and the fit loks good. It would have been ideal if I had pressed seams as I went but perfectionism is what stopped me in the first place, and it looks pretty good anyway (it’s just a knit dress, not a tailored jacket, c’mon!)

Anyone update with Google+ storage for WordPress? I’m almost out of WordPress storage.

More later!

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Weeknight vegetarian crockpot or freezer meals

Hi everyone, I just finished my last day of work today and am preparing for my new job which starts March 1. What better way to start a new job than to have easy dinners on the table all week?

Quorn light korma

For my crew that means using meat analogue veg dishes to entice them to eat. Most of the recipes on the Quorn UK site are freezer-to-slow-cooker friendly, such as this light Indian korma recipe. I’ve seen people advise preparing the entire recipe into a Ziploc freezer bag, shaking to mix, then freezing it flat. However my freezer is still a bit overloaded so instead I will keep the tomato passata UHT boxes on the cupboard shelf *but* will label them so they will not be pinched for another recipe before I cook the korma. Same thing for keeping the lowfat yogurt (I’ll use fromage frais which we have on hand) in the fridge. It’s still a “throw and go” slow cooker recipe, donc ça marche 🙂

March also has St Patrick’s Day on the 17th, so we will have a green dinner that night. Do you have special St Paddy’s day plans? Check out the for breakfast. I made this several times with tofu instead of soy milk: higher protein and less sugar-y taste. It’s a perfect way to start the day.

Ideas for March work nights so far:
Friday 1 March (first day!): , brown rice and salad

Monday 4 March: 10 Minute TVP Tacos plus taco fixin’s for a taco bar dinner this is not a slow cooker night. Perfect for Monday since I will prepare all of the veg on Sunday.

Tuesday 5 March: here it advises precooking the asparagus etc. but I will just put the raw ingredients in the slow cooker–and BTW plan to use trimmed broccoli stalks in place of €€€ asparagus + brown rice

Wednesday 6 March: = chick peas in a tomato-based curry sauce–nice easy recipe! For sure I am not going to freeze a bunch of dried beans though, that’s another ingredient to add in the morning. Call me crazy but I like soaking beans and will soak these Tuesday night to drain, rinse, and put the soaked beans in the slow cooker Wednesday morning. More of that brown rice unless the natives rebel 😉
Thursday 7 March: not a slow cooker night again, two minutes in the microwave and it’s done!

Friday 8 March: although I might Americanize it and use mozzerella cheese which is also cheaper here than cheddar. This is not a slow cooker recipe, it’s for my little freezer tins that can be placed in the oven. I love Friday night lasagne! It says “weekend”.

What are your meal plans?

Cloth diapering is easier

Having just hung up a load of cloth nappies to dry, I can firmly say that cloth diapering is easier than using disposables if you have a washing machine at home.

* No trip to the store: harder than it looks if you have a newborn and are too tired to get presentable, a little nervous about trekking out with a baby who could cry at any moment, and stores that close early like they do here in Belgium

* No taking out the extra rubbish while juggling a baby: just put in a load of laundry.

* No need to store enormous bulk packages of discounted diapers: where do you put those waist-high yellow and blue packages? It’s much easier to put 3 dozen nappies in a wicker basket next to yuor changing table, and that’s all that’s necessary, even for a prolific pooper.

* Natural fibre nappies = less nappy rash: the plastic outer coating of dispoables causes diaper rash. If you use cotton, hemp or bamboo diapers you won’t need to stock up on diaper creme. It’s full of chemicals that may or may not be good for your baby to metabolize through the skin. PEDIATRICS: Baby Care Products: Possible Sources of Infant Phthalate Exposure Besides, that stuff has an oily residue that builds up on cloth and you’d have to strip out of your diapers eventually to ensure they still absorb optimally.

* No lingering ‘baby product’ smell on your baby or in your house: not using nappy creme as much or at all means you won’t whiff that chemical scent we’ve come to associate with babies. This never occured to me before my daughter came home from the crèche with a nappy rash (they use disposables) and lots of rash creme on her bum. A visitor said, ‘oooh, now she smells like a baby!’. No, she smelled like zinc oxide and fish oils.

* They’re cheaper to use and launder than to buy disposables

* You save even more with subsequent children using the same diapers

* Fewer leaks = less time changing baby clothes = need fewer baby clothes: reusable fitted nappies have good elastic in them made to withstand hundreds of washes and wears, whereas disposables are made to work for 4 hours maximum. This hit me when the crèche kept asking for more one piece tee shirts to keep on hand–why? As long as we use bibs for eating DD stays clean in her clothes all day, but when she’s in disposables at the crèche there are diaper leaks and stains. A prefold or flat nappy (fabric rectangle or square) has no elastic, but the leg and waist coverage is tailored to fit when you fasten the nappy or cover over it, they’re also better at containing leaks than disposables ever can be.

* No guilt over putting your baby in paper and plastic underwear: you don’t wear it, cloth is more comfortable. Same for a baby.

* No guilt over the environment: the manufacture of cloth and its laundering at home are better for the environment than creating a mountain of paper, plastic and chemicals.

* No need to economize on diaper changes: you could put on a disposable and within minutes the little one soils it–‘there goes fifteen cents, if only I had changed it ten minutes later…’ Not with cloth. You’re going to wash them every two or three days anyway, one more nappy or one less makes no difference in cost.

* Cloth diapered children tend to learn to use the potty earlier: who

I just Googled ‘cloth diapering is easier’ and got a result that looked like an advertisement, so I thought I’d put this out there for the general audience since I’m not selling anything 🙂

What are your ideas/questions?

Two under two preparation

Finished: two more wet bags, aka pail liners, for the nappy bin. Now we have a grand total of 4! There’s going to be a lot more cloth nappy washing in August when #2 arrives.

I just tore nylon in a big rectnagle, sewed French seams on the side and folded over the top by eyeballing it to make an elastic casing. A snug casing is key to keeping the bag in place in the bin. For the first two I measured the diameter of the inner plastic bin, but for these I roughly knew how big they needed to be. I wash the liners with clothes at 40C, although technically 30C is better, but we hardly ever have anything to wash for that temperature.

New recipe

Miso soup is very easy, perfect for a (pregnant) mother of a toddler! Boil water ‘lightly’ so it’s steaming but not bubbling hot, which would kill the live friendly bacteria in the miso. Put some miso in a bowl, and here my lazy way is to add a splash of the hot water to blend the mixture with the back of a spoon till smooth. Then add the rest of the water till it’s the taste and concentration you like. Traditional miso is made with water boiled with flaked bonito fish and/or kombu sea(weed/vegetable), which give it a lovely depth of flavour but are too much effort with my baby tugging at my trouser leg.
I was happy because this involved 1) cracking open a cookbook and trying a new recipe–this one called for udon noodles, which I’ve never had in miso soup; and 2) opening a package of organic whole wheat udon noodles which had been in Deep Storage for an undetermined period. Needless to say, they were in real risk of never being used. Ha!

From Dol Sot Bibimbap Tutorial


Chic Vegetarian Cuisine’s mushroom kinpira
inspired this recipe too. I boiled the noodles seperately, rinsed off excess starch, then prepared the veg à la kinpira, finally adding the veg and noodles to the miso. Good stuff.

Sewing for men

Whoa, hard to believe, hey? I’m scoring brownie points for sewing Kwik Sew 3298 men’s knit briefs even though it’s vegan month of food and I joined (blush) but I’m not cooking that much–working 11- and 12-hour days instead!
DH has tried on the protoype and liked it. I think the fit is rather roomy, despite sewing for his measurements. A smaller size would rumple less under jeans. I have yet to check the elastic on his waist, but then I’ll sew it in and hem the legs–finito!

Vegan month of food #1: pumpkin porridge + roasted pumpkin seeds

Just for inspiration, I signed up for the Vegan Month of food (Vegan ‘MoFo’) event this month. The official guidelines suggest food blogging every weekday, but that is much too ambitious for a full-time working mother of a baby like I am. Que sera, sera!

First up: Aeri’s Kitchen Hobak juk / pumpkin porridge with rice balls, her Halloween special recipe. Don’t those rice balls lend themselves perfectly to becoming spooky floating eyeballs? The dish was meant to be made yesterday, but Madeline is sick so she kept us busy. Nevertheless, it’s just in time to start out Vegan Month of Food.

It would be even faster to microwave pumpkin quarters, but I baked a pumpkin cut in fours (not halves like Aeri did) with pumpkin seeds on the lower cookie sheet level. No aluminum foil, but a generous drizzle of olive oil over the cut pieces and, of course, over the seeds (plus salt sprinkled on the seeds). I’m cooking Maangchi’s soybean side dish / Kongjang using black soybeans and the slow cooker with just a little bit of water, to transfer later to a saucepan on the stove with the rest of the ingredients. Slower cooking methods are perfect for distracted parents. Speaking of that, Madeline got into something!

Vegan month of food logo

Homemade kimchi

You might not know this, but I’m a ‘kitchen Korean’: I just eat Korean food, minus some Scottish oats in the morning. I just made up that expression but it’s succinct, isn’t it?

Korean cuisine is all the more delicious because thanks to it, and in no small part the breastfeeding efforts of my little 6 month-old, I’m back to wearing my size 38 RTW trousers 🙂 I thought it would take months longer (9 months up, 9 months down) . Phew!

My first batch of napa cabbage kimchi turned out okay, but it needs work. Maangchi’s pictorial and YouTube recipe I took liberties with the recipe: cutting the cabbage to actually make Mak Kimchi (cut kimchi), stirring in the radish cubes since I made a half recipe for this first foray, and using 2 grated carrots instead of julienned radish because that’s what I had in the kitchen. The big problem though, in my opinion, is substituting soy sauce for fish saice to make it vegetarian. The sauce looks like ketchup colour instead of a proper bright red kimchi. Back to the cutting board when this batch is finished (2 litres or so from now!)

and I made Maangchi’s kimchi jeon for lunch, and it was respectable! My flipping skills need work though. It’s probably the consistency of the batter since I eyeballed the measurements–Madeline was interrupting constantly and I had to improvise. The jeon pancake was the shade of raw steak blood from the soy sauce experiment.

Any ideas on vegetarian substitutions for fish sauce in kimchi?