Limoncello Finire

Our limoncello is finally complete! I waited the maximum suggested time for both infusion processes. Following the soaking of the lemon zest (only the yellow part). You then add sugar and let it rest yet again. I’m thinking it was well worth the 2 month wait. Particularly since it is toasty warm again and our pool is ready for use. This will be a nice Sunday afternoon treat.

To complete the limoncello, you will need:

  • cheesecloth
  • bowl
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • funnel
  • bottle for storage

Directions:

  1. On the stove, heat water and sugar in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil and let boil for 5-7 minutes. Remove pan from heat and allow to cool. This is a simple syrup.
  2. Dampen the cheesecloth. Spread a double layer of cheesecloth over your bowl (It helps to have an extra set of hands for this part). Carefully pour the infused vodka and lemon zest through the cheese cloth into the bowl. Be sure to squeeze every last drop of liquid out of the cheesecloth as possible.
  3. Pour the simple syrup into the vodka. For a clear limoncello, wait for the syrup to cool completely; for a cloudy syrup, pour in the syrup while it is still warm.
  4. Using your funnel, transfer the limoncello into your storage bottle. Seal the bottle and let age in that same cool dark corner for at least a week but up to a month. The longer you let it age, the smoother the taste. Refrigerate or freeze after ageing.
  5. Convince fiance to design a label!

 

For both processes, I let mine sit for nearly a month. It is wonderful. It is also very strong and sweet. I have found I can’t drink more than a shot or so of it at a time. It should last me for much of the summer.

I have seen other flavor options around. I may give them a go next!

 

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Follow-Through in March

It is actually March 1st as I begin to write this post. My plan is to add to this post throughout the month so when the end of the month rolls around, I’m not struggling to recall what my follow-through achievements were.

I spent some time taking zippers and such off of muslin (read cheap fabric) versions of patterns I made. I had been hoping they would be acceptable to wear, but discovered the fabric wasn’t suitable. The muslin did it’s job though, I now know the couple little alterations I need to make to have the garments turn out successfully. I have also been taking time to mend and alter various articles of clothing. I re-hemmed a skirt and shorts, shortened a skirt, and am altering a button down top.

I finally got around to creating a St. Patrick’s Day door hanging out of the supplies I bought from Pick Your Plum a couple of years ago. You can read the post here.

I am also taking time to photograph projects so I can share them on my blog. That has been one of my hindrances to consistent posting. I have found that our bay window is an excellent light box from about 9-11 am. I use Saturday or Sunday mornings to take a few photos.

My largest follow-through of the month was to begin my wedding dress. It has been in the planning stages since mid-October. I bought the fabric in November. This last weekend, I cut out and sewed together the muslin version (I actually used muslin). This was for fitting purposes only. I have had trouble with sizing using the particular brand of pattern I’m using for the base of my dress and wanted to make certain I made the correct size. Now I am ready to cut out the actual fabric and start sewing. There won’t be photos of this until after the wedding as my fiance is doing his best not to see the dress before the wedding despite me sewing it in the house. It’s been rather cute!

I am also coming off of spring break this week. During this time my fiance and I opted not to travel anywhere, but rather take day trips to nearby Florida attractions. I am finally taking time to explore my current home state. I can now check off of the list: The Dali Museum, Florida Museum of Natural History (I went to see the butterflies), and Lion Country Safari. All of which were fun and I would recommend as places to visit.

Since this has been an informational post, I am ending it with a beautiful photograph of delicious candy made by my friend Melissa. You can purchase her candy at Ambrosia Candies.

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Last of the Laurels

These are the last 2 Laurel dresses I have to show you (for now). I’m telling you, this is a great pattern. It looks great on (someday, I’ll get photos of myself wearing one), even when it is too big as mine now are. The pattern is simple with easy to follow instructions. There are so many ways to vary the design that no one will realise you used the same pattern for 6 dresses!

My Purple Laurel, was my muslin version. I used an old sheet for my fabric. I’m glad I made a muslin. The pattern is created to be a bit lose, but on me, that actually meant my normal size was a little too big. Yay! I get to make a smaller size. Making the muslin also gave me the opportunity to test out some design changes I planned to use on other versions.

First off, I made this version sleeveless. This was a simple change. Rather than sewing the underlining as an underlining, I sewed it in as a lining. This gave me the ability to close the arm holes inside. I still used a binding around the neckline to add stability as I didn’t add any facings.

Second (this is my favourite addition), I added buttons down the back. I did this partially to save on sewing in a zipper, but also because I thought buttons down the back sounded fun. To do this, I extended the back by an inch on each side. Since there is already a seam allowance for a zipper, I didn’t need much more wiggle room.

My final Laurel project was inspired by all the projects with variegation I had been seeing. My plan had been to make a dress with 3 colours of fabric that were slightly different shade of each other. The plan didn’t work out as my local shop didn’t have the color variety I needed. I modified my plan and went with two colours instead.

 

The photos show pockets, but I later removed them as the sewing was poorly done  (in my opinion). Once I took them off, I liked the dress better without the pockets.

 

I did finish this dress with short sleeves. Yes, I know, I don’t have completed photos. This is so far my favourite version of the Laurel that I have made. As I’ve mentioned, I am inspired to make a couple more. I’ll be sure to share them when I do.

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Filled Lemon Chiffon Cupcakes

This may be the first recipe I claim as my own. It didn’t begin as my own. I started off making a cake shared by cake journal and ended off going my own way with the entire process.

The cupcakes are light and fluffy with an almost angel food cake texture. Thanks to the airy-ness, the lemon curd filling didn’t glob all into one place, it spread around inside the cupcake. To complete the cupcake, I added a lemon cream cheese frosting. They were delicious!

I started out following the Lemon Chiffon Cake recipe from cake journal. With a few major deviations.

Lemon Chiffon Cupcakes

  • 1 3/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 6 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup cold water
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest

Directions

Heat over to 350° F. Line cupcake pans with liners. Separate the eggs into 2 bowls. In the bowl with the egg yolks, add the oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, and water. Mix until just combined. In another bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, salt, and 1 cup of sugar. Save the rest of the sugar for the egg whites. Combine the wet and dry ingredients. Mix until smooth.

In your mixer’s bowl, beat the egg whites until light and foamy. Slowly add the remaining sugar. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Mix the egg whites into the cake batter. Fold in 1/3 of the eggs at a time.

Scoop batter into cupcake pan. I use an ice cream scoop to get even results. Bake for 12-16 minutes. My oven cooks cupcakes in 15 minutes. The cupcakes will be lightly browned with a slightly rounded top when you pull them out of the oven. They will fall as they cool to have a flat top. Remove from pans and allow to cool on a baking rack.

Lemon Curd Filling

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 pound butter, room temperature
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Directions

Cream the butter. Beat in the sugar. Add eggs one at a time, mixing completely between eggs. Mix in the lemon juice. Mix until combined.

On the stove, pour the mixture into a 2 quart saucepan. Cook over low heat until thickened. It should take about 10 min. Stir constantly. I highly recommend using a candy thermometer to monitor the temperature. The curd will thicken at 170°F. You should see the change.

Remove from heat to let cool.

Once the cupcakes and lemon curd are cool, you can fill the cupcakes with the lemon curd. There are multiple ways to do this. You could remove a portion of the cupcake. I have an attachment for a pastry bag that I use for injecting filling.

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 pound butter
  • 5 cups powdered sugar

Directions

In a mixing bowl, place the zest, cream cheese, and butter. Beat until fluffy. About 2-3 minutes. Slowly add powdered sugar. I usually add about 1/2 cup at a time to prevent any from being mixed over the edge.

Using your method of choice, frost your cupcakes. If you are not using a pastry bag, you can probably get away with making half of the frosting recipe.

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Luck for the Front Door

Like many, I’m addicted to purchasing craft supplies from Pick Your Plum. I enjoy the excitement of the entire process. Sometimes, I get something and then it sits for a few months (or in this case, a year or more). Since I am working on following through with projects and ideas this year, I am getting better at not buying supplies I don’t need and rather using supplies I already have.

This could be a tutorial if you can find all of these supplies. It may be possible. I’ve honestly not looked around. I bought the wooden pieces from pickyourplum.com a year or so ago. I found the fabric at JoAnn Fabrics. I always have a jar or two of Modge Podge on hand. You never know when you are going to need some.

     

I started by attaching the first fabric to the background board with Modge Podge. I painted the glue with a foam brush (I keep a large supplies of those on hand as well). To attach the fabric, I carefully smoothed it over the painted board. I did my best not to stretch the fabric, but just smooth it over the top of the board. I then painted the edges and smoothed the fabric around the edges and then to the back.

While that dried, I glued the second fabric to the clover. I did this slightly differently (if my fingers hadn’t been a sticky mess, there would be photos of this). I first cut a piece of fabric slightly larger than the clover. Then spread the glue over the clover. Next, I smoothed the fabric over then glue. To finish, I used small scissors to trim around the edges of the clover. 

I painted a coat of Modge Podge over all pieces to seal the fabric and wood. I may even add a layer of spray sealer when I take it down, just to add a little more protection from the humidity here.

Before assembling the layers, I had my fiance drill holes in the top corners. I used 4 finishing nails to secure the 3 layers of wood together. To finish, I tied green ribbon through the prepared holes and knotted the ends.

   

Our bright blue door came with a nail. It’s even painted the same colour!

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Little Yellow Laurel

I told you I went on a Laurel craze when this pattern was first released. I’m currently pondering what fabric I have in my stash would make another cute version. Part of this craze was inspired by a contest Colette Patterns was running. My goal was to enter in each category. I don’t think I quite succeeded, but I had fun making them.

 

This version was a concept I imagined for my sister. My first thoughts were to use yellow linen. Yellow is one of her favourite colours. I planned to make it sleeveless. To line the neckline and arm holes, I planned to use a blue piping. It sounded good in my head. Then I discovered that my local shop didn’t have a yellow linen. While searching for an alternative, I found a yellow eyelet fabric. I knew she would love it. Since it was a lighter fabric, I lined it with a coordinating Kona cotton. I decided on a green piping for the arms and neck.

Conveniently, one of the versions included in the pattern is designed with an underlining. The difference between an underlining and a lining is simple. An underlining is sewn together with the outside fabric. This means there are no seams showing between the outer fabric and the inside fabric. (I didn’t sew it that way!) I had to be difficult because I had to make the dress sleeveless.

Instead, I attached the piping to the sleeve and arm edges. Then I followed the tutorial from Green Apples on how to line a sleeveless dress. This tutorial has changed my life! I love how simple her instructions are on how to sew the lining. I no longer have to hand stitch a little opening closed. I love it!

To finish the dress, I just stitched the sides together in one long seam. To make sure the arm seam lay flat, I top-stitched around the arm holes just inside the piping.

Look at that perfect zipper!

I believe on my next version, I am going to add side seam pockets. I have discovered a love for pockets on dresses. 

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Flapper Laurel

Nearly a year ago now, Colette Patterns released a new pattern. I just had to have it! It was the Laurel. This pattern inspired a flurry of designing in my little sewing nook in our old place (That’s right, this project happened a year ago. I’m catching up on posts I missed last summer). The release of this pattern came with a contest. I just realised I never got around to sharing them properly. You can find a few sample photos on Flickr.

Around this same time, we had a handful of invitations to Twenties themed parties. Rather than spending a small fortune on a skimpy-itchy polyester costume, I decided to create my own version of a flapper dress. After a bit of research, I realised that the Laurel pattern lent itself to the proper shape of a flapper dress. It is rather straight (with just a little shaping) and the length can easily be modified.

My intention was to find a dark fabric such as a navy or black. Maybe even green. But then we (I was shopping with my fiance) found the dangling circles fabric in hot pink and I was in love!

My first modification was with the neckline. I created a deep scoop (deep for me) down the back and a shallower scoop in the front. I think next time, I will make sure not to widen the opening so the straps stay wider than they ended up on this version.

                                             

I also shortened the length of the tunic to end just below my bum. This added a seam to create a dropped-waist look.

The skirt ended up being a little more complicated than it should have become. If you do this, I recommend leaving your lining from the top long enough to also be the lining for the skirt portion. Then you can attach your skirt fabric to the top fabric without worrying about tugging and bunching the skirt. I’m leaving my instructions at that because I cannot make what I did understandable.

                                                         

Finally, I added a wide sparkly black ribbon at the top of the skirt and a massive rosette at the side. They really topped the dress off nicely, don’t you think?

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