March 25, 2013

Duct Tape Dressform Blues

Over the weekend, a friend threw a duct tape dressform making party. If you haven't heard of the duct tape dress form, it's a really cool and cheap alternative to buying one of those more expensive adjustable dress forms. You put on an old shirt, have a friend wrap you up in duct tape, cut the tape/shirt off, seal it up, stuff it with fluff, and voila! An easy double of you.

But it isn't pretty.
It sounded like a fabulous idea. My friend bought all the duct tape and fiber fill in bulk so we could save money and a good time was had by all during the event. About twelve of us participated, we took turns wrapping each other and in the middle, we took a nice tea and cookies break.

But when I got home, I took out my measuring tape and measured my new "me". And it was off. Horribly, horribly off. In some places it was more than 5" too large. I was aghast, but I figured I could still salvage it. I took off the bottom, pulled out all the stuffing, and stored it in two garbage bags for safe keeping until later.

I recut the seam in the back, and cut two princess seams up the front so I could take it in as best I could. After about two hours of cutting, taping, measuring, retaping, measuring, and retaping again, I finally got the form to roughly where it should have been in the first place. Then I ran out of duct tape before I could finish it up.

I went out to get some more, but they only had a black kind that was more expensive. I bought it anyway, but I was feel pretty frustrated by the project so I decided to call it a day and do other things. I woke up this morning, however, to discover that all the seams I painstakingly cut, measured, nipped and tucked had all busted open in the night. I didn't have enough tape to reinforce them completely, so they all popped in the night.

So, I had to tape everything back together again (that's the black tape you see in the image). But somehow, it didn't fit back together the same way. The underbust is too big (I couldn't fit the bra I'm wearing right now on it and I could before) and there's a weird thing going on in the space between my breasts and the neck. It's sort of popping out in a strange way. I remain confident that my actual chest/neck area doesn't do that, but I don't know what to do about it.

I'm strongly considering taking all the fluff out of it again and ditching this entire one and starting over. But that would be a lot of time and a lot of tape, with no guarantee that it'll come out better the second time. For now, I'm too frustrated to even look at it so I'm just going to let it sit for a few days while I figure out what I want to do next.

March 18, 2013

Guinness Pot Roast

 Nothing says St. Patrick's Day quite like putting beer in all your food. I just opted to add it to my main dish, as I wanted to reserve some of my Guinness for drinking. I decided on a pot roast, since Costco had a good deal on a pair of them recently, I had one handy.

It's a fun St. Patty's Day twist on the usual slow cooker roast. Instead of just beef broth, you add a bottle of Guinness to the cooking liquid. If you don't have any Guinness on hand, you could certainly substitute any beer you like, but I would stick with dark beers like stouts and porters for their strong flavor.

For some crazy reason, it's still winter here around DC, despite being March. I intended to make this pot roast for St. Patrick's Day, regardless of what silliness the weather had in store. However, the clouds spent the better part of the morning dropping snow on us, so now the leftovers will make a nice hot lunch on this snowy afternoon.

Guinness Pot Roast
makes 4-6 servings, depending on roast size

What You'll Need:
2-3lb pot roast
small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 carrots, sliced
1 lb of small red potatoes, halved
12oz Guinness beer
2 cups beef broth, low sodium if possible
1 package onion soup mix
2 tsp thyme
2 Tbs coarse salt
2 Tbs cracked pepper
2 bay leaves

The Process:
   Heat up a skillet on medium heat with some olive oil and let it get nice and hot. Combine the coarse salt and pepper in a bowl and then rub the mixture over the surface of the roast. Sear each side of the roast for 3-4 minutes per side. Place into the crock.

   In the same skillet, cook your onions for 5-6 minutes until soft and then add the garlic. Cook for an additional 3-4 minutes. Make sure to scrape the bottom for the burned bits from the roast. Add to the crock along with the carrots and potatoes.

   Put the onion soup mix, thyme, and bay leaves into the crock. Add the Guinness and beef broth over top and mix it up to combine the onion soup mix. The roast and vegetables should be almost completely covered. If not, add a little more broth or water. Cover the crock and cook on low for 6-7 hours, until the roast is fork tender and the potatoes are soft. Remove roast from the crock and let it rest, tented with foil, for 10-15 minutes before carving.

   If you prefer a thick broth, as I do, remove 2 cups of liquid from the crock and thicken it in your preferred method. I use arrowroot starch, but cornstarch or flour work just fine. Stir the thickened liquid back in with the rest of the liquid and vegetables while the roast is resting. Carve the roast, spoon vegetables and broth onto your plate, and serve.

   Don't forget to have some bread on hand to sop up the broth on your plate!

March 17, 2013

Feeling Lucky: A St. Patrick's Day Mini Quilt

In the spirit of the holiday, I made a little luck charm for my house- a four leaf clover mini quilt!

As with the other mini quilts, it took just an afternoon to make. That's my favorite part about them. You start with your uncut fabric and thread and just a few hours later you have a finished product. It's a lovely break from working on the bigger and longer quilting projects.

I really enjoy St. Patrick's Day, as it gives me a good excuse to wear green and make some excellent potato-laden foods. In the crock pot right now is a pot roast with carrots and potatoes, but instead of using all beef broth, the liquid is part Guinness! I'm quite looking forward to the results this evening. If it's good, I'll post a recipe to follow.

Have a lovely day, and if you're going out to raise a pint to Ireland, please be safe!
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