Sunday, April 29, 2018

Me Make May 2018

I have been wise foolish unrealistic enthused enough to participate in several past Me Made May celebrations.  Nice to know that I have a large self-made wardrobe now although I still buy RTW.  It was useful to see pictures and how I styled the garments I have sewn since I think accessories and styling really do matter in an outfit.  I also participated to make sure that the older generation of sewing enthusiasts are represented.  But the photo taking is such a chore so I usually fade out by mid-May as life and other interests take over.  So this year I will be watching the Me Made May pics from the sidelines but am calling my month Me Make May. 
It's been several months since I have been spending any quality time in my sewing room and that is going to change soon.  I didn't bring any machines to Florida in February and March.  Since we have been home much of the creative time has been spent on gardening work and hosting a major dinner party  in the middle of the month.  So now it's time to pull out the project list and see what I want to tackle.
This month's sewing will be dominated by another wonderful travel adventure.  Mr. Lucky and I are heading back to the UK for another set of walking trips.  I originally put together these plans based on the anticipated return of the Great British Sewing Bee expo which was scheduled back in London in early June.  From that date I found two terrific walking trips with our new to us favorite trip company, HF Holidays UK, one along the South Downs on the southern coast and the other in Scotland at Glen Coe which will include walking Ben Nevis.  But then, major disappointment, no GBSB expo this year!  Oh well, our four day South Downs trip turned into a seven day trip....with one free day so we can explore the local area.  Do any British friends know of a fabric store in perhaps Chichester or Brighton?  Of course the best news is that the GBSB will be returning to television so perhaps next year there will be an expo visit on my travel itinerary.
What this means is that I am planning a few garments for this return visit.  Now, let's face it, I could easily pack tomorrow for a trip like this.  Mostly sporty outdoors stuff that I have already and then the travel layered basics of bottoms, a few lightweight tops and third layers.  But since we sew....
So here are my plans for a few sewing projects to accompany me on this trip and to fulfill my own Me Make May pledge.  My travel colors this year are the ubiquitous black with blue as my secondary color (last year it was brown.)  As always, the British Isles in and temps all over the place. I hate being cold more than anything so I have a few long cardigans and am making two new tank tops for layering.  If the weather is warmer in London and the south then I am making two new rayon knit tops that can stand on their own.  I am also going to try my hand at hand rolled hem on a bright silk scarf square.  I like hand sewing and my only challenge there will be doing a decent job on the corners.  Of course, there's always the cheater serge rolled edge in a pinch.  I also have plans for another project but will surprise you, sweet readers, and see if that comes through.
Fabric for a travel wardrobe
So, no sewing pictures for this post, just a fabric shot of things to come.

Although I don't have much sewing to report, I will share some recipes which, like my reading list, I have not done in awhile.  Two weeks ago Mr. Lucky and I hosted another of our church auction dinners.  In previous years we have put together a Downton Abbey tea party and a Floribbean dinner.  This time our offering was a dinner for six others based upon our European bike and boat trip last year with beers, wines and food from Belgium, Holland and England.  People were in a generous mood since it was the highest per person bid so we felt some pressure to make it special.  

Here are a few pics and the recipes that we used.  No pics of the people attending or "plated" food since I have to admit that we were having such a good time that photo taking didn't cross my mind.  
The menu: five cheeses from France, Holland and England and asparagus wrapped in German ham

The soup course was based on the exquisite fish soups I ordered for the first three nights we spent in Belgium.  I love soups and was determined to recreate it.  I used Anthony Bourdain's recipe and it was fabulous: soupe-de-poisson  Mr. Lucky did the tedious food mill work:  

I used the rouille recipe (a garlic-y saffron aioli) from Cooks Illustrated to serve with toasted bread and it was a big hit.
My immersion blender is my new can't do without kitchen tool.

The main course was a Carbonnade a la Flamande or a beef stew with Belgian beer.  It is a go to recipe that is great to make for a pot luck.  The longest part is nicely browning the beef before combining the ingredients and letting it bake.  Ugly in the pot but yummy in the mouth:
Carbonnade: Belgian Beef, Beer and Onion Stew
adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
3 1/2 pounds chuck roast, cut into 1-inch pieces  vegetable oil 
2 pounds yellow onions (about 3 medium), halved and sliced about 1/4-inch-thick (about 8 cups)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups low-sodium beef broth
1 1/2 cups beer (12-ounce bottle or can)
4 sprigs fresh thyme leaves, tied with kitchen twine
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon cider vinegar 
Preheat oven to 300 F with a rack in the lower-middle position.
Pat the beef dry with paper towels, then season on all sides with salt and pepper.  Heat 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until very hot.  Add about 1/3 of the beef to the pot – don’t crowd the meat, you want it to have space to brown properly.  Brown for about 3 minutes on the first side, then flip the meat over and cook until the second side is well browned, about another 3 minutes.  Transfer the beef to a bowl.  Continue browning the rest of the meat in batches, adding 2 teaspoons of oil for each new batch of meat.     
Once all the meat has been browned, reduce the heat to medium and add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil to the pot.  Add the onions, 1/2 teaspoon salt and the tomato paste.  Cook, stirring occasionally and scraping the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to loosen the browned bits, until the onions are lightly browned, about 15 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add the flour and stir to coat the onions.  Cook until the flour is lightly browned, about 2 minutes.  Stir in the beef broth, scraping the bottom of the pan again to loosen any remaining browned bits.  Add the beer, thyme, bay leaves, vinegar and beef (along with its accumulated juices) to the pot.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Raise the heat and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally.  When the stew reaches a simmer, cover the pot partially, then transfer to the oven.  Cook until the beef is fork tender, about 2-3 hours.
Of course we had to have a Brussel sprouts dish so I made a shaved Brussel sprout salad with pistachios, dried cranberries and grated gruyere with a little vinaigrette dressing.
Dessert was a reminder that we finished our trip by spending four days in London.  I made our favorite (out of so many) British dessert, hot sticky toffee pudding, also from a Cooks Illustrated recipe.  The puddings are ugly also and here they are without the buttery rich toffee syrup and real whipped you'll have to trust me that they are scrumptious.
A few French wines and it was a lovely evening after an exhausting few days of shopping, cleaning, cooking.  
Our reward, in addition to a great night with friends, was a two day mad cap trip to New York City.  We saw three shows, ate at various places, from Lidia Bastianich's Becco to lamb and rice "street meat."  

The FIT Museum exhibit on Norell had just closed the previous weeks, shucks, but I did get to see the 

It was another reminder that our definitions of "attractive" have changed over centuries.  For me, it means sew for the body I have today, enjoy my creativity and the fact that I have a body that carries me through life. Just a few pics to share:
Who knew that boning was used in the upper back garment in these Jane Austen era garments.
Yes, it was thrilling to see Christian Siriano's spectacular red dress for Leslie Jones.  

And when undergarments became less restrictive there was always the hobble skirt fashion to shorten a woman's stride...significant to me since I am such a long distance walker.
And if you do fashion sewing, you know important it is total accurate measurements.  here's the perfect dress for our sewing room outfit, right.
It was a whirlwind trip since we drove up, stayed at a New Jersey hotel on the Hudson River and took a ferry both days into NYC.
Which one is not like the other?

One addition reason for this visit was to give our new pet sitter a trial run with Lucky in prep for a longer trip this summer.  He had a fabulous time in a beautiful home with three little pugs.  
So let me close with a gratuitous dog picture and then get into my sewing room to work on those travel garment fabrics.  

Here's hoping you have great plans for some fabrics in your stash.  And I will be watching for your Me Made May '18 photos.



  1. Ditto Fabrics in Brighton is a great little shop among the other gems in the lanes. They hav3 a website which will give you their address

    1. Thank you, Sarah. I hope we rent a car with a large boot!

  2. Melissa from Fehr Trade has said a number of times that Ditto Fabrics is her favorite fabric store.

    1. That is a terrific endorsement so thanks for the encouragement.

  3. I hope that you manage to sew up everything as planned for your trip. A walking tour sounds wonderful - a chance to really see everything around you.


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