Sunday, June 30, 2013

Creuset Cookware Cleaning Tip

I found a method to clean the crusty bits from the bottom of my enameled cast iron Le Creuset cookware.  I remembered my MIL saying something about salt for cleaning seasoned cast iron, so I knew the salt would be abrasive enough for the job.  But rubbing the salt (I used maybe 2 tablespoons or so) around with the wet sponge only caused the salt to dissolve before it could do its job.  I grabbed the nearest thing to the sink, a Pampered Chef scraper, and first tried scraping with the edge, as it was meant to be used, but not enough of the salt came in contact with the crusty bits. I set it down flat on the salt and scrubbed in circles.  I used very little effort at all, a quick rinse and the pan was clean!  No need to soak the pan first. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Fabric PopCorn Bucket

I was tired of my kids using my mixing bowls for their popcorn snacking habit.  The big bowls were always dirty when I needed them, I'm the only one that was washing them - either by hand or they were taking up space in the dishwasher, and I really don't like the kids eating out of the bag with all that residual grease in the bottom getting all over the place.  Also, I needed to use up some scrap fabric... that's always the case around here! These go straight in the wash with the fabric napkins and dishtowels (which are the kids' responsibility anyway!)

You'll need
  •  a fat quarter of fabric (quilter's cotton will do if you back it with some fusible interfacing, but I like something a little more substantial.) 
  • an equal amount of PUL for the lining, 
  • a package of ready made piping or bias tape (homemade bias tape is okay too.) 
Start with 15" by 19" rectangles, one of fabric and one of lining.  Line up the edges, pin if you wish, and fold them in half so you are looking at a 7.5" by 19" rectangle.  Lay a 3"x5" card centered along the edge opposite of the fold.   Pin in place, or trace with fabric marker (or pencil, if that's what you've got) and cut out around the edges of the card.  

Unfold and admire the I shape you have created. 

Separate the lining and the outer fabric and fold each in half the other direction from when you were cutting.  You now have a two 9.5" by 15" rectangles with the bottom corners cut out. Pin these side edges above the corners.

Sew along the pinned edges for both pieces.  Whatever seam allowance you are comfortable with, use a slightly larger measurement on the lining for a better fit.  Press your seams flat. 
The tricky-to-explain-but-really-not-that-hard part: rearrange the bottom of the box, so that the cut out corners resemble a mouth.  You will be sewing across this mouth perpendicular to the recently formed side seams. 

Pin both sides of both lining and outer fabric, then sew with same seam allowance. Be sure to go right up to the edge, even go off the edge to be sure there is no hole in the bottom of your bowl.

Behold, two flat bottom bowls!  One of lining and one of outer fabric. (I don't usually bother with ironing the bottom corner seams flat.)

Either sandwich them right sides together with a length of piping in place between them, or wrong sides together with a length of bias tape applied (shown here).  Be sure the raw edges of the trim, the outer fabric and lining are lined up well, and pay attention to how the ends will finish out - fold the bias tape appropriately, or steer the piping so the cut ends are hidden in the seam allowance.

Sew along this top edge.  If you're using piping, leave a 4" - 5" gap for turning.  After turning the bowl right side out, press the top edge neatly and top stitch all the way around to close the gap.  If you're using bias tape, fold it over to the inside, pin and press, then whip stitch by hand or machine topstitch the folded edge in place.

A machine washable bowl for popcorn or other movie snacks!

Monday, February 28, 2011


Here's the chart for the Groundspeak Logo! Unsure how to add this to your own project?

For the hat, I made a swatch with the needle and yarn I wanted to use, and did a little math to work out that 6 repeats of the chart fit around a man’s size hat. I fudged and worked with the number of stitches between the charts to make it work out just right.
For the brown and white hat, I used the regular guy beanie pattern which worked out well for six repeats of this chart, with little rivets (2 stitch by 2 stitch blocks) added in to anchor the floats on the backside. I used worsted weight yarn and either a US7 or US8 needle, or maybe both.

For instance, if the chart swatch equals 3" across, NOT including any margin stitches, and I want a hat with a circumference of 20", I'll make six repeats (makes only 18") of the chart around and add in a few stitches between repeats to make up the other 2", plus a few more for 'ease'. I found with intarsia and stranding on hats it's very difficult to get the tension right, and the stretch involved with putting a hat on can distort the stitches and make the strands of the backside show through.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I have been posting pics over on facebook, if you haven't 'friended' me yet, you can easily find me as user name 'jaxlewis'.

You don't need to be a facebook user to check out these picture albums recently posted.

Simon's Birthday Party


A Day at Torii Beach

Friday, June 12, 2009

Yummy Lunch

This morning, I cooked (on 'auto') in my japanese rice steamer:
1 cup pearl barley
1 cup chicken broth from the carton

For lunch I threw that into a skillet with:
2 tbsp garlic (to taste)
2 tbsp butter
1/2 (or so) chicken broth
broccoli, cut rather smallish, enough to cover the bottom of the skillet
two 1/2" slices of a large onion, coarsely chopped
black pepper to taste

cook until the broth is almost gone, and the broccoli is still a little crisp. Serve and top with shredded cheddar cheese.

The boys and I loved it. Mia says she prefers her broccoli separate. Chas pointed out that it was grain, veggie and protein all in one bowl.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Math for Breakfast

Ten sausage links divided four ways is 2 and a half each. Chas got it right away and thoughtfully explained to the others how he figured it out. As they were dividing up the links and breaking them in half, somehow Simon was left with a few pieces and was near meltdown. Mia stepped up to explain 'Simon, you don't have two and a half, you have 1, and 3 halves!' He was so delighted by her show of advanced math that he happily took his serving and ate it up!

The kids do math like this everyday. I'll whisper to them, wide-eyed, that they are doing math.

'Awwww mom! You tricked us!'

Now they catch themselves doing it and it's become a family joke. In this manner, we have even found that Mia has an understanding of multiplication and division. Once, I took a week to watch the kids from a distance and wrote a journal of all the things they were doing that involved learning something (I know, a busy week for me!) and translated it into 'curriculum speak' just for fun. It may be time to do that again. I have to pick just the right week to do it, because sometimes their play is simple and sometimes more obviously academic.

Other Lewis news, in no particular order...

We have a new kitty named Snips. He is very young, apparently abandoned at around 3 weeks old. He is probably about 6 weeks old now and is very active and playful. We are having to socialize and discipline him in the absence of his mother and littermates. The kids are having a little trouble waiting out this kitty toddlerhood. He is playful sometimes, snuggly sometimes, and very tenacious - he has actually turned and attacked the spray bottle we were using to train him off the foot-attacks.

And our neighborhood candy store had to close a few months ago, but this week it reopened as an organic vegetable market. It's small, but close by, a block and half, in fact close enough for the kids to go by themselves on their bikes - no busy roads to cross! They were closed yesterday when I went by for our first visit, I'll try again today - if we get a break in the rain and thunderstorms.

Next week we start swimming lessons, every day for two weeks, at 5pm for the boys, and at 6:15 pm for Mia. The following two-week session, I was able to get them all at 5pm. It is going to be intense, and I'll have to call on my best organizational skills to get through it.

We are still bowling every Monday night, and doing the Family Night thing at the club on base. Tim's shop moved to a closer base which provides for at least 5 hours more family per week that he isn't commuting! It's a huge blessing for our family.