Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Threading The Needle & Other Frustrations.

April is almost over & I didn't write anything about sewing. To be honest, April was a crazy month for me for both good & bad reasons. The good: I got a DREAM JOB working with an animal sitting company. Basically, I go to homes and play with/walk/feed people's pets while they're at work or on vacation. The bad: Don't worry about it. Just know it ended happier for me.
So, sewing. From here on out I am going to go through the motions that I did so not to overwhelm. First, the sewing machine that I own is the SY from Ikea. The reasons I decided on this one are simple. I don't know if this is going to be something I truly enjoy so I didn't want to put a lot of money into it at first & also I didn't want anything to technical. I want to learn from a simple machine & work my way up if I'd like.

Now, I should probably start by saying that the last time I used a sewing machine was when I was 13 in an Home Ec class. I made a gym bag & I cannot even tell you how it all happened. I don't recall one minute of it. I just remember that the bag was baby pink & baby blue because of course it was.

The nice thing about the SY is that it comes with a list of directions that are really easy to follow. Also, Ikea has videos on Youtube that show you how to, wind the bobbin, thread your needle, make different stitches, clean the machine, etc. This has helped my first steps immensely.

Winging the bobbin was the easiest. I am not going through those steps because it will bore you but again, you can watch it here. Installing the bobbin, however, caused me a lot of stress. I actually tried to do it, and left it for about a week because it was so frustrating. Eventually, with help from David, we realized my problem was that I took the whole apparatus a part and didn't lock it back in when really I just had to pop one little part out and replace. I always have to make things harder than they are. I watched the tutorial close to 50 times, frame by frame, until I realized my mistake. God help all of us, this is going to be all a long ass process.

I originally wanted to jump right in and start making an apron but my friend Charlie advised that I should start with something simpler, like a pillowcase. So, my next post (which will hopefully be up this weekend) will be on my triumph or failure of said pillowcase.
I had to remove Gaston 4 times before I was able to get this picture. 

 Hope ya'll are enjoying the spring! I know I am!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Caramel + Chocolate

When I was growing up, I remember my mom baking a lot. It was usually the staples - chocolate chip or oatmeal raisin cookies, brownies, etc. But every once in a while she would make these caramel bars that were heavenly. Since I have braces, I have to stay away from everything that is good, like caramels. These bars, however, are so smooth and gooey that I knew I could get away with eating them.

What you're going to need:
40-50 caramels
1/3 cup milk
2 cups flour
2 cups oats
1 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda*
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
1 cup softened margarine (or unsalted butter)
1 pkg 6oz chocolate chips

*My sister sent me the recipe my mother copied down for her. It said "1 tsp soda" & I asked what type of soda I should use (thinking it meant Coke or Pepsi). So, that's good.

The first step is to unwrap all of those caramels. I just sat and watched some Netflix & threw them in the bowl as I unwraped. It's a huge pain, but the outcome is worth it.

Gaston watched.
Next, warm the caramels and milk on low setting in the microwave, stirring often, until smooth. Set aside. In a large bowl, mix flour, oats, sugar, baking soda, salt, and egg. Mix in butter with a fork or pastry cutter until the mixture is crumbly.

Then, press half of the mixture into a greased 9x13 pan. Bake 10 minutes at 350 degrees.

 Take out and sprinkle chocolate chips over the oat crust & drizzle with caramel sauce.

Sprinkle remaining oat mixture over top. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.

Cool for 30 minutes, loosen the edges, then cool completely before cutting and removing.

I was doing a happy dance when they came out of the oven. My home smelled like the perfect mixture of oat, caramel, and chocolate & I just couldn't wait to dig in. So, you know, I didn't wait.

I probably should have waited like the directions said (always listen to your mother) but patience isn't something I have ever been good at. They definitely crumbled all over the place but I only used the nice looking ones for pictures. But seriously, delicious.

Pro tip: Once cooled, wrap in a damp paper towel to get the to the gooey deliciousness again & top with icecream! Works when they are a few days old too!

Now, you'll see me post baking posts from time to time but April is all about learning to sew. I'm going to job on the machine & figure some stuff out and hopefully get it working! This coming weekend, I'll be in Savannah for a bachelor party, so expect a post the following Monday or Tuesday!

Happy Easter!