Thursday, January 16, 2014

DIY: Leopard Faux Fur Vest

 About a week ago, the idea of a furry vest popped in my head.  I had kept seeing them, and it just seemed like a perfect accessory to make this BRUTAL winter seem not so drab.  Of course, in typical BT style, I couldn't find one that I wanted and could afford (perpetual problem in my life), so I decided to take matters into my own hand, and whip out the handy sewing machine.  I ran by Joann to see if they had any fabric worth having, and I found this brown and black leopard-esque fabric for $14.99 a yard.  Then when I went up to the register, it was the end of the roll and marked down to $3.50/yard, I mean come on!! How could I say no?!?! I also picked up some hot pink satin to use as a lining.  Diva. Love it.

I browsed a couple of pattern books, without luck, so I decided to wing it, get fancy, and make my own pattern (instructions below). Not hard.

This project took about an hour and a half. Great project for a beginner or an easy-peasy project for anybody else :-).

If you have any questions about the tutorial, leave a message and I'll be happy to help!

Craft Paper
1 yard of faux fur (or more depending on how long you want it. I'm 5'10 and a yard was plenty for me)
1 yard of lining
Thread in the color of the fur

1. Make the Pattern:  Your pattern will essentially be a rectangle in half-shirt shaped (obvi :-) ).  Lay a sleeveless shirt/tunic on craft paper, and trace half of it.  (By half, I mean that I started my line at the top of the shirt in the middle of the neck, and holding the shirt flat, I traced a line around one side, making an indention for my armhole, and stopping my line in the middle of the bottom hem).  You will have three sides of the rectangle, so to "round" it out, use a ruler to draw a straight line to connect where you started the line and where you ended the line.  This "rectangle" is the "inside rectangle."

Using the ruler, trace a one inch line around the edge of the inside rectangle to create an "outside rectangle."  (For beginners, this is known as the "seam allowance." When you cut the fabric, you have to leave a little extra so you have room to sew. You will cut the fabric on the outside rectangle and sew the fabric on the inside rectangle).  Once you have the outside line traced, your pattern is complete.  This one piece of paper will serve as the pattern for the front and back of the vest (but be mindful that you will have to adjust how you place it on the fabric when you cut the front and the back).

2. Cutting the Fabric:

[IMPORTANT THING TO REMEMBER: Make sure when you cut, the fur is laying in the right direction, i.e. when you pet the fur from the top to the bottom, you want it to be smooth.  The ends of the fur should be pointing down]

Fold your fabric in half, inside out.  (Since faux fur has lots of fluffies, its easier to cut if you flip the fabric inside out. And have your lint roller handy, because you will have a fluff-fest).

BACK: For the back of the vast, pin the pattern to the faux fur on the fabric fold, with the INSIDE LINE lined up to the edge of the folded fabric. If the outside line of the pattern is on the edge of the folded fabric, then you will end up with an extra two inches of fabric on the back piece of your vest, and the vest will end up bigger than you'd probably like. You can see in the picture below, the one inch paper seam allowance is hanging off the fabric. This is what you want.

FRONT:  After you cut out the back piece, there should be enough width left to cut out the front pieces.  For the front of the vest, pin the pattern to the left over fabric.  You WILL NOT want to cut the front pieces on the fold (or else you'd end up with a sweater vest).  You will cut the fabric based on the OUTSIDE LINE.

For my vest, I wanted a little bit of a v-neck, so using the ruler, I measured from the middle of my shoulder to mid chest, then added a line that length to the pattern, folded the pattern on that line, and cut out the front pieces. 

3. Lay the back piece on a table with the right side of the fabric facing up.  Lay the two front pieces on top of the back piece with the right side of the fabric facing down-right side to right side.

4. Pin the front pieces to the back at the side and shoulder seams, and sew the shell together.

***If you don't want to line the vest, then you can stop at this step, and your vest is complete.
Oh, Hey Selfie!!!
5.  Follow steps 1-4 and cut/sew the lining.  The good thing about the fur is that the edges don't fray, so it doesn't have to be surged.  The lining does need to be finished though, so on the bottom edge of the lining, sew a half inch hem.  

6. Attach the Shell to the Lining: With the right sides of the fabric facing one another, insert the lining into the vest.  

Pin together and sew the perimeter of the fabric, leaving the bottom open. (I used these instructions). 

7.  Finishing the Sleeves: Once the vest is right-side out, you will need to connect the lining to the shell with a zig-zag stitch.  Flip the lining inside, and pin it to the shell, then run a zigzag stitch around the edge.  If you use a slick-y fabric like I did, an iron helps the fold stay in place so it won't slip while you sew.  

And there you go! A sassy new leopard vest lined in hot pink!! I love it. So happy with how it turned out!! 

I hope these instructions are helpful! If you make one, tag me on instagram (@betsykturley) so I can see too!!!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Custom Tailoring a Ready-Made Slip Cover (and the amazingness of!!!)


My Chairs.  I have had a love relationship with these chairs since I bought them four years ago.  They are perfect cozy chairs, with soft (but not too soft) cushions that you can just sink into. And they are deep which is an extra bonus when you live in the land of tall people like we do.   I bought them before law school-my first "real furniture" purchase as an adult- and had them covered in the Premier Prints ginsei pattern.

Then we moved into Fondren, and the sweet people from whom we bought our house left behind their beautiful drapes.  And I had to make a choice - new chairs or new curtains. It was a tough decision. One that I postponed for over a year while I obsessed scoured the internet, pinning inspiration pics, and tried to decide what I wanted to do in my living room. I thought about getting new chairs, and moving mine to my office. But those chairs are so comfortable -- the ultimate living room comfy chair -- and I got such a great deal on them, that I just couldn't stand the thought of replacing my living room furniture with something else (#attachmentissues).  But between the pattern and the curtains, there was just too much going on. Then I thought about just getting rid of the curtains, and redoing the living room, but I mean do you see those beauties??? They are sooo pretty! And stylish! and I just love the serene look of aqua. And I don't know if you've priced curtains lately, but they can set you back a pretty penny in a hurry.  (this was the internal battle I had for literally a year and a half). 

So I just ignored it...  Then one day, I was slapped in the face with reality when I took a picture of my living room, and this is what looked back at me....
By just ignoring the problem, I had ended up with a room (a focal point of our home) just full of mis-matched clutter.  It was time to act. and act fast. So in a frantic panic of wanting to fix my living room, I thought of a what I thought would be easy temporary/could-be-permanent solution! I could just find some clean, white slip covers for my chairs and keep the curtains. In theory, a slip cover was the perfect solution.  I wouldn't have to re-cover my chairs, I could keep the curtains, and friends would come over and feel like they were standing in a pottery barn catalog with my beautiful and serene white slip-covered chairs against the backdrop of silk aqua drapes.  Now for the sake of honesty, I should confess that I've always had a bias against slipcovers, viewing them as a cheap alternative to upholstery.  Although I know that is what they are,  I could not bring myself to have slipcovers on my furniture if it was going to look like a bargain solution. I wanted chic, not cheap...  And that was when I was smacked in the face with the harsh reality of slipcovers.

After lots of research, I came to one conclusion... Pottery Barn and Pinterest are full of lies and slipcovers are not the low cost solution that I expected them to be.  I wanted something cheap in price but not appearance affordable, but custom and tailored to fit the fine lines of my chairs.  Such a thing does not exist.  There are plenty of ready-made slip covers out there, but they either look cheap or cost more than what it would cost to just buy a new chair. And even the cheaper-looking slip covers would still cost upwards of $100-not exactly the bargain solution that I was looking for...

And then a miracle happened. I discovered  Ugly Sofa is the TJ Maxx of Pottery Barn Slipcovers-name brand slipcovers for a fraction of the price.  It looked too good to be true, so I turned to the internet for some research.  And honestly, the reviews were mixed. There were several sketchy reviews re: bad customer service and awful delivery times, but then there were an equal number of great reviews with awesome pics of beautiful slip covers.  I figured that at $30 a slip cover (YES! $30 per slipcover!!!), I would take a $60 gamble and just hedge my bets, and I am so glad that I did! The slip covers came and they still had the pottery barn tags (only black inked as you'd find at a discount store). I was super excited that I'd snagged such high quality slip covers as such a great price.  (Did I mention how awesome this site is??)

But the slipcover saga did not end here.  When I put them on the chairs, the slip covers were gigantic and swallowed the chair, and it kind of looked like I just threw a sheet over the chair.

Granted, there instructions and tutorials all over the internet for pinning and tucking slip cover fabric in just a way to make slip covers not look so sloppy.  But literally, there was soooooo much fabric, even after tucking, it still looked pretty sloppy.  (This is not an indictment of  I also ordered a sofa slip cover to use in Oxford, and it fit great!! Though it is screaming for pillows.)

I just think my chairs were too small for the style of slipcover that I ordered. Wanting something a little more tailored in my living room, I decided to take matters into my own hands and alter them. After hours of internet research, I found no tutorial regarding "how to custom fit ready made slipcovers."  There are lots of tutorials re: making slip covers from scratch, but I found nothing directly on point.  It was only after I finished my alterations that I realized why there are no tutorials out there: it is a trial by fire process with lots of seam ripping and lots of cursing!!!! and it is soooo worth it!!!  Unfortunately for yall, I did not take many process pics, but I will share my basic process.

The first step was to take the slip covers apart at the seams. Then once I had the individual pieces of fabric,  starting with the back, I draped a piece of fabric over the chair (INSIDE OUT - THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE FABRIC NEEDS TO BE FACING THE CHAIR THE ENTIRE TIME!!! I learned this the hardway) and pinned it to the chair to hold it in place.
Once the fabric was securely attached to the chair, I pinned together where I wanted my seams to be (see pic above), and made pleats on the curves of the chair (see pic below).
Once everything was pinned, I used a pencil (tailor's chalk would be better if you have it) and lightly traced the lines of the chair on the fabric (i.e. where I had pinned the fabric together, I drew a line along the edge of the chair so that I would know where to sew).

Then, working in sections, I would sew up the lines, and trim the excess fabric. Easy as... Well, not easy. But not hard either, just a healthy dose of confidence that you can if fact do it is required. Then before you know it... Voila!

And I promise it is worth it, because the results were phenomenal!!! So excited with how the chairs turned out and how my living room as a whole is coming together.  Still a long way to go, but a large improvement.

I apologize that I don't have more pics, but I promise that you can do this.  I don't claim to be a professional, and if you look closely, they are not perfect, but they are perfect for me! I am so happy with how they turned out.  Feel free to contact me you have any questions or need a pep talk!!!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Cauliflower Crust Pizza, Cashew Cheese, and My Failed Attempt to Go Crunchy

Hello Blog. I've missed you.

RT is at the Sugar Bowl tonight.  Often when I'm home alone, I  experiment with weird exotic recipes for food that's not particularly up RT's alley.  I am completely spoiled and married to a husband who fixes us supper every night, so I don't often have an opportunity to make dinner in the first place.  Then when I do make dinner for both of us, with food being so expensive, I don't like to waste ingredients on a dinner if I am hesitant on its reception and there is a chance that a pizza will have to be ordered.  But if it is me by myself, I am not above eating a pb&j sandwich in the event that my experiments fail :-).

With it being January 2, and I, along with the rest of America, have vowed to "get healthy" in 2014, I stumbled upon a great website while perusing the internet for healthy living ideas. I'm probably tardy to the party with this girl, but the Detoxinista is my new blog crush.  I stumbled upon her while looking for a cauliflower crust recipe, but then I was hooked and perused her site for tons of other great stuff.  She has a great blog, with all sorts of healthy living ideas, and tons of great recipes for classic comfort food made healthy.  She utilizes lots of nuts, especially cashews, in lieu of grains and dairy.  I was completely inspired.

I made a cauliflower crust pizza once before (when RT was at man weekend), when I first saw it on Pinterest.  I remember taking my first bite and thinking it was totally weird.  But then, once you get past that its not bread, the cauliflower crust grows on you, and its really delicious.  We made cauliflower gratin on Monday night and had some left over steamed cauliflower.  I had some left over ingredients from greek salad, so I opted to make a greek pizza tonight. Unlike Detoxinista's crust recipe, my cauliflower was already steamed, so I just riced the steamed florets. It worked fine. I actually think it worked better to have it pre-steamed, because I didn't have to deal with boiling water and getting antsy-pantsy to just make it, and thus burning myself. #personalexperience.
Rice It
Wring It

Mix It (with cheese, an egg, & any spices you'd like)
Roll It

Bake It

The crust was perfect for a cauliflower crust, and really delicious. Wringing out the riced cauliflower really does keep the crust from getting soggy. I could actually pick up the pizza, and it had the density of regular crust. (I started to wring out the rice with a paper towel which broke in about 1 second. I didn't have a cheese cloth, so I used a thin, clean washcloth and it worked fine).

While I was being healthy, I opted to get crunchy and use a chia egg in lieu of a real egg.  I ground up the chia seeds (as opposed to using whole seeds as I have done in the past) and mixed them with water to make the egg, and I could really tell a difference. It wasn't as "earthy" tasting as it is with whole seeds.

And then I went totally crunchy and shit got weird.  I tried to make "cheese" out of cashew nuts...

Results?? Let's just say I'm glad I bought a back-up bag of mozz while shopping.
There is a reason I make these sort of things when RT is gone.  It wasn't bad. But it was definitely different.  I also think that I am part of the problem (because multiple blogs have beautiful pictures of vegan cashew cheese that look nothing like mine). When I was researching cashew cheese, I kept seeing an ingredient called "nutritional yeast,"* so that is what I bought. But then when I got home, I realized that most cashew mozzerella recipes use a bunch of other ingredients, but not the yeast.  So then I just made the Detoxinista's queso, but omitted the tumeric and rotel.  Then I spread it on the pizza and baked it.

On an appearance scale, I'd give it a 2.  It just looked like a drab blob on the pizza (especially compared to its neighbor, Mr. Bubbly Ooey-Gooey Realcheese).

But then I tasted it, and it would be about a 6.  This will never be a substitute for cheese sticks from Dominos.  But it's good to know that if I ever found out that I couldn't eat cheese, some dear soul out there is trying to be supportive and creative at my behest, bless their heart.

I have a bunch of the cheese left. Thinking I'll add the tumeric and rotel, and see if it wakes up at all.

*I bought the nutritional yeast at Rainbow Co-Op in Fondren, which is really a great grocery store and a treasure to the Fondren neighborhood. If you are in the Jackson area, please patronize Rainbow!!! I'm super excited about Whole Foods opening this spring, and I would love for both grocery stores to co-exist.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

DIY: Ole Miss Burlap Football on the Silhouette Cameo in Honor of College Football Season Kickoff

As Ole Miss has the privilege of kicking off college football season, and that privilege will be exercised today, I only have two words - HOTTY TODDY!!! We're having people over to watch the Ole Miss Vandy game tonight, so last night I stayed up way too late cleaning and crafting.  

I have had my eye on a burlap door hanger for a while, and have had all the supplies in my craft closet for a while, but last night, the glue gun came out.  I'm so excited about how it turned out!  Quick photo tutorial below. 

I really just eyeballed the football (and forgot to take pics in the process).  I started with two pieces of burlap that were about 18 x 24. So that my football would be symmetric, keeping the fabric pieces together (stacked on top of one another), I folded them in half vertically, and roughly drew a curved line from the top center on the fold to the center edge (i.e. from the middle of the laces of the football to the point on the end).  I cut this line, and then folded the cut edge on top of the bottom uncut edge (i.e. keeping fabric folded vertically, fold it in half horizontally, so that the top and bottom corner meet). Then using the cut line as a guide, I cut the bottom edge.  Not a perfect method, but because I'm lazy the burlap is supposed to look rustic, it worked.

I found the Ole Miss logo through a google image search and uploaded it into my Silhouette library.  Because the logo has red letters that are outlined in blue, I first painted the background blue, then detailed my letters in red.  You can find my freezer paper tutorial here.  Be sure that if you are printing with the shiny side up, you reverse the image first!!! (don't make my mistake)

I then ironed the skinny and more detailed Ole Miss outline onto the blue paint (see below), so that I could paint the rest of the letters red. This part was a little bit tedious, because of how skinny the stencil was.

I painted the inside of the outline red. Then I free handed the white lines and the ties. And added polka dots, because why not??

I hot glued the edges of the football together 3/4 of the way around, but left an opening so that I could stuff it full of plastic grocery bags to give it some depth.

I used about 8 bags. I found that more bags were better, because it gave it more texture. If I had had more than 8 bags, I would have used them. Since I didn't, I just spaced them out.

Super easy project, and now the whole neighborhood will know that we loved OLE MISS!!! and for full disclosure, because I love my husband, we love BAMA too! I'll be making a Bama door hanger before Saturday. :-)


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Recipe: The Best Strawberry Shortcake That You Will Ever Eat (like La Madeleine's Strawberries Romanoff only BETTER!!)

There are a few foods on this earth that I believe are proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. Obvi, bacon is number one. Warm chocolate chip cookies and any sort of cream cheese/sausage appetizer are a couple of others.   

And this strawberry shortcake absolutely makes the short list.  It is the Birkin Bag of shortcakes. I could go to bed with a bowl of this batter. And if I had to pick a last meal, this would make the menu (along with cinnamon toast crunch and Tweetie cookies from Camp Mystic).  I mean, this is seriously delicious.  It is light years away from the store bought sponge cake - jelled strawberries - cool whip dessert of the past.  

And the best part about this shortcake is that it is beautiful and  and fancy and impressive and looks difficult, but is soooo easy to make, anyone could do it. A perfect dessert for a crowd.

If you've ever been to La Madeleine, you know about their Strawberries Romanoff - macerated strawberries with a brandy cream.  I wanted to make a pound cake with a Strawberries Romanoff topping.  When I realized I was out of brandy and was in shortcake mode, I just started experimenting.  I opted to incorporate the berries into the cake.  And I used orange liqueur instead of brandy. The result? Read on, brother (or sister).

First, I have to talk about the batter.  I mean the batter? 
Y'all. It made me want to punch someone in the face. In the nicest way possible. Buttery, sweet, smooth - there is nothing better than a butter batter in the first place, but this takes the flipping cake. And I didn't think that it could get better, until...

The whipped cream topping.
Usually when I make whipped cream, I just use powdered sugar and whipping cream (and its always delicous).  But in an attempt to recreate La Madeleine's Strawberries Romanoff, I used brown sugar and orange liqueur (instead of brandy) and O.M.G.
Simply amazing.  Perfectly fluffy, not overly sweet, and the liqueur gave it a healthy kick.  Literally, had my in-laws not been in town (well really in the kitchen with me), I would have stuck my tongue straight in the bowl just to get to this stuff faster than my finger could :-) (if they had been in another room, I may have done so anyway).

Then the cake and strawberries and whipped cream come together to set an example of what the perfect shortcake should be.  A 2:1:1 ratio of delicious pound cake to fresh strawberries and heaven sent whipped cream.

The Best Strawberry Shortcake That You Will Ever Eat with Orange Liqueur Whipped Cream 

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 c. sugar
3 eggs
1/2 c. sour cream
3/4 c. greek yogurt
2 T. vanilla
2 1/4 c. all purpose flour
1 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1 1/2 c. fresh strawberries, chopped
1 T. all purpose flour
1/4 c. brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350˚.

Cream the butter and sugar.  Add the eggs, and mix. Add the sour cream and yogurt* and vanilla. Mix for five minutes, to get batter nice and fluffy (sides will probably have to be scraped to make sure the butter is getting incorporated). 

Mix flour, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl.  

Incorporate dry mix into wet mix.

Sprinkle reserved 1 T. of flour on strawberries.

Using a bundt pan, pour half of the cake batter into pan. Top with chopped fresh strawberries. Sprinkle 1/3 c. of brown sugar on top of strawberries.  Pour the remaining cake batter on top of the strawberries. 

Lift bundt pan about 6 inches off of the counter, and drop onto counter. Repeat a couple of times to even out the batter.

Bake cake for 20 minutes.  Once cake is done baking, let it rest for 15 minutes.

Whipped Cream
1 c. whipping cream
3 T. brown sugar
1 1/2 T. orange liqueur

Combine all ingredients in bowl of stand mixer. Beat until sem-firm peaks form (you don't want to overbeat, or else it will separate. When peaks start to form, just watch it until it is at the whipped cream consistency you want).

Serve cake warm, with a big, fat heaping of whipped cream!

*Cake recipe was adapted from the Chapel of the Cross Day in the Country Cookbook.  The original called for 1 c. sour cream and 1/4 c. buttermilk. I didn't have enough sour cream and any buttermilk, so I improvised with what I had in my fridge.

Find the ripest, juiciest strawberries that you can.
Chop them up.
Mix your sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla, and creams.
Add the dry mix.
Pour half of the mixture into a bundt pan

Evenly spread the strawberries on the batter and sprinkle with brown sugar
Top strawberries with remaining batter
Bake at 350˚ for 20 minutes. Then let it cool for an additional 15 minutes.
Top with a giant heaping of the most delicious whipped cream that you'll ever put in your mouth