Wednesday, June 1, 2011

What I've Been Sewing, Reading and Eating

"We're having a heat wave, a tropical heat wave, the temperature's rising..."  If you're of a certain age or older you might be hearing Marilyn Monroe crooning those words while doing a samba across the stage....or you might hear me whining about the sudden heat wave here.  Our Maryland house is more than 60 years old, plaster and lath and has poor insulation with temperature extremes.  My sewing room feels like the tropics this week.  I have a window air conditioner but I hate installing it in the spring since it blocks half of what little natural light I get in that room.  Slower than usual sewing means knits.  I wanted two sleeveless exercise tops so I pulled out Simplicity 2603 and sewed up three new items, two exercise tops and one sweater knit cardi that will be my JAM #5. 
Simplicity 2603 has almost 100 reviews on Patternreview with good reason.  I think it's adaptable to all seasons and many styles.  My sleeveless versions take a yard or less and  don't even have a finished hem.  I like having a loose fitting but not tentlike top when the weather is this steamy.   The black and fuchsia print is a lovely design but the fabric was snaggy and a PITA to sew.  I can see why it was on the G Street sample table and doubt that it would pass for garment production.  The blue purple is leftover Fabric Mart Vera Wang knit, terrific to sew and wear.

I've adjusted the cardi in S 2603 to make the neckline and front edges narrower and shorter so that the drape of the fabric is not overwhelming.  It's a poly sweater knit from Hancock's closing in Florida a few years ago.  I sewed up one of these knits and couldn't believe how hot it was despite the open weave.  Gave a bunch of them away but I love the colors of this green one.  But I won't even consider modeling it for pictures.  I'll wear it when the weather turns chilly in the fall with a twist tip in olive green and jeans.

Since my sewing room has been so hot, I have been doing more reading than usual each day.  Here's what's on my nightstand:

This is the third of the Outlander series and I'm hooked.  Historical novels with intrigue, history and culture and passionate romance.  perfect summer steamy reading.  This one is more than 800 pages.  Reminds me of the summer I was 17 and read Gone with the Wind in a few late evenings after working each day.

If you like reading Anne Lamott then Kate Braestrup is an author you would most likely enjoy as well.  Her first book, Here If You Need Me is about her life as a community chaplain for the Maine Forest Service and recent young widow.  Funny, tender, caring, she's the person I would like to have by my side through life's most difficult moments.

 I've been listening to this one in my sewing room.  It's my book group selection for tonight.   Joseph Priestley was an astonishing scientist, religious thinker, politician and friend of all our Founding Fathers in the US.  One of the most remarkable things he discovered, although he didn't even understand the full scope of it, is the astonishing connection between animal and plant life....the ecosystem which supports our lives.  His home experiments noticed that a plant left in a vacuum still lived for days and days while a living animal did not survive for more than a few moments.  Fascinating story although I would recommend reading it in hard copy rather than listening to it since it is technical in many parts.

 And lastly, I was cooking up a storm last week.  Each year our church has an auction and we try to offer an activity to share among members who have the winning bid.  For the past few years we've been offering a "Floribbean dinner" with a menu that is a little spicy, a little Southern and lots of fun.  Saturday we had six guests and here's the menu:
Drinks and appetizers on the deck:  ice tea, homemade sangria, beer, wine, cheese coins, shrimp, mango, avocado appetizer with chips.
Dinner inside is Cuban pork roast,  rice, bean and corn cold salad, tossed green tropical salad, bread & butter, followed by Key Lime Pie for dessert.  These are recipes from our beloved Cooks Illustrated and America's Test Kitchen cookbooks and website...except for the great appetizer recipe which I've linked for you.

appetizers waiting to go outside

The most requested recipe of the evening:
mango-avocado-and-shrimp-appetizer recipe

Ok, let's close with a sing along and samba along for the day...


  1. Diana Gabaldon is wonderful!
    Your menu sure made me hungry.
    Your tops certainly look cool and airy.

  2. Your new tops are nice! I have read part of the Outlander series as well its good. I usually read paranormal romance but time travel is good as well!

  3. I've been thinking about that song a lot lately. Nice tops, nice enough for me to yank that pattern out of storage.

  4. Terrific post, Jane--sewing, books, food & entertainment! The tops look great and appropriate for this HOT weather. I have a appetizers coming up for a dinner, so I think I'll use your mango shrimp dish. Thanks.
    Carolyn H

  5. I've read every Gabaldon book and love them all. You make me hungry lol. Hope to see you soon


  6. I hear ya' about the heat! I can't concentrate when the temps are high. Terrific tops though, to wear on those hateful days. Thanks for the book reviews. Reminds me I need to get back to Gabaldon.

  7. Great sleeveless tops, I need a couple myself to wear in this heat. I wish it would cool down a bit. I love to read, but really don't have time except on vacations. I made the shrimp, mango, avocado salad last night. It it was wonderful. I had the leftovers for lunch today and it is all gone.

  8. Wow, Jane, you have come a long way with your blog in a adding video...whoo-hoo...And I am jealous of all you've gotten done!


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