Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Voice of Cheese

I read a very informative post about creating the perfect cheese plate over at a A Cup of Jo and thought I would let all other cheese lovers know.  I kind of feel dumb for wrapping cheese in saran wrap now...

H. has a birthday coming up, so I may have to integrate the cheese plate guide into my party planning sessions.  I love making party food.  As far as party planning goes, all I know is that we are making a bunch of pork barbecue in a crock pot (fix it and forget it, yeah!), so I'm looking for other barbecue-worthy "sides" to make with it besides coleslaw, which I may make anyway.  Right now I'm trying to think of a cool way to turn mac and cheese into a finger food.  The pub I worked at in college used to serve baskets of deep fried mac and cheese wedges with a big cup of ranch dressing, and let me tell you, they were rock-your-socks-off delicious.  I'm not much on deep-frying at home, it's just not my style; plus, it makes my skin really greasy.  What if I handcrafted bite-sized mac and cheese balls and breaded, and browned them on the stove?...Sounds like too much work and my concern is that this method would dry them out.  Well, all ideas are welcome; I'm sure I'll come up with something with the help of any readers out there.

Monday, March 28, 2011


I knew this was going to happen, but I'll say it, I want a dressmaker's form.  Goll-eee, it would rock to own one of those puppies. 

Right now I've got two sewing items on the sewing table, er, my kitchen table:  my white shirt, and my very own design.  All you guys have seen on the R-design is the sleeve; yesterday in my sewing class I tweaked the sleeve design and added the bodice.  Now I have to make the pattern on my sweet roll of wide tracing paper.  I'm a bit nervous about the pattern drafting mainly because of all the pleats in my sleeve, but I will get through it.

In my inexperienced apparel sewing life (by that I mean, I've only finished a skirt), I've learned a couple of things about myself:  turning tubes right-side-out literally drives me to tears, I love pleats, and I'm pretty much obsessed with scalloped edges.  The shirt that I designed is covered in pleats, which I love, but because I've never sewn pleats, I'm fully prepared to get a little frustrated at first and then tackle it with tearless self control.  And these Marc Jacobs flats don't help my scallop addiction:
I want to make a simple skirt out of the below fabric (which I already own) with a scalloped hem, using this tutorial.  What do you think?

Pastry Line Saffron from the Little Folks Voile collection by Anna Maria Horner

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Spring Fever

Happy Spring everybody!  This weekend has been very nice and best of all, totally unplanned.  I consider myself to be one who enjoys making plans, but when it comes to weekends when I'm not skipping town, I hate waking up on a Saturday morning knowing that I have to be somewhere or do something scheduled.  I'm weird like that.

Yesterday H. and I walked from the Downtown Mall in Charlottesville up to the Corner (UVA area) and took a break on the balcony of Michael's Bistro & Taphouse for a few hours (our noses even got a little sun-kissed!).  It was a great afternoon.

Random fact that I learned in Mrs. Fletcher's Foods and Nutrition class from high school:  on the spring equinox, you can prop an egg up on a flat surface and it will stand on its own!  However, I read that "science" calls this an urban myth, but I tried it today and it worked.  If you're reading this before tonight's over, try it, seriously (according to science, it would probably work tomorrow, too, but you know, just for tradition's sake...).  

Today I started my second apparel project.  A shirt.  I'm making a white shirt (100% woven cotton Swiss Dot) for spring and summer, but all I've accomplished thus far is cutting out the pattern; I think that is the most tedious part of sewing clothes.  

My friend J. was telling me about an avocado shake, and she assures me that while it sounds strange, it tastes delicious.  Take an avocado and blend it up with a couple teaspoons of sugar and add about 1-2 cups of milk, depending on the thickness you prefer.  Now I call that a healthy milkshake!  I will report back once I try it.  If it tastes too healthy or like the smell of a Whole Foods store, I probably won't like it.  Has anyone else made these before?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

French Navy

When the thermostat hit 75 degrees today, I checked "great weekend" off of my list.  My friend K. came to town yesterday and we got to hang; we still call each other roommates, even though we only lived together from 2005-06 and 2007-08 in college.  It was awesome to see her, and we got to celebrate her birthday a little early. 

Today, I had my first of two fashion drawing and draping sewing classes.  It was soo much fun.  Fashion drawing is not as intimidating as I thought it would be; I enjoyed it!  I mean, seriously, drawing is not my strength, but I thought it was very fun!  Also, I got to use a dress form for the first time today, and I am kind of hooked.  I want to design some pretty tops for work this spring and summer.  So I got started on the sleeve of an idea, but I ran out of's a little more complex than I had in mind, but I had so much fun making pleats that I couldn't stop myself!

After class I headed to H.'s house, we went for a nice stroll down Park Street, and then he baked some French bread he started yesterday (from a book I gave him for Christmas)!  It was beautiful and totally delicious!  Since a baguette won't fit in a normal-sized oven, he had to make torpedoes, aka batards, aka miniature French bread loaves.  Home-baked French bread, it doesn't get any better than that, folks. 

What else...hooray for daylight savings time!  At first, it's always difficult for me to spring forward and lose an hour, but I love getting home from work and being able to be outside in sunlight rather than darkness, amen?  Sunlight makes me feel like I can be more productive. 

I haven't been knitting much these days, but I want to knit a pretty cotton scarf to keep my neck cozy during transition weather.  Have a great upcoming week!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Avocado Tree

I have been on a huge avocado kick for the last week; I've eaten it almost every day.  H. says that my body is probably craving omega-3, but all I know is that I love me some avocado. 

I made a yummilicious dinner last night for my friend A. and myself.:  grilled, avocado and cheese sandwiches, zucchini boats and cheddar grits (just the instant kind, but I love them).

Grilled Avocado & Cheese Sandwich (there's a lot of slicing involved in this sandwich)
Layer in the following order and "grill" in a skillet:
1 slice of bread, buttered (butter-side down)
1 slice provolone cheese
3 slices cooked bacon
Avocado slices (I used 1/3 of an avocado for one sandwich)
2 tomato slices
1 slice provolone cheese
Last slice of bread, buttered (butter-side up)

Zucchini Boats
4 zucchinis
1/2 t. minced garlic
1/2 of a tomato, diced
2 T. sour cream
1/4 t. lemon pepper
Parmesan cheese, shredded
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cut each zucchini in half lengthwise (remove stem and blossom ends); set the zucchini halves aside on a baking sheet.  With a spoon, scoop out zucchini and chop.  In a skillet over medium heat, add 2. T. olive oil and saute garlic for about 1 minute.  Then add zucchini and lemon pepper and saute until tender (less than five minutes); stir in tomatoes and sour cream.  Remove from heat and evenly distribute sauteed vegetables among the zucchini halves.  Sprinkle the tops with Parmesan cheese.  Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes.

Monday, March 7, 2011

On Top of Spaghetti

When Mom and Dad were here this past weekend, I made dinner on Saturday night, spaghetti casserole, beer bread, corn and raspberries-on-the-bottom cake.  I love casseroles so much; I make the same ones over and over again in phases but I never grow tired of them.  Most of the time, I don't make totally-from-scratch-spaghetti-sauce for this, so don't think of me as a cheater.  Sometimes I feel like there's just not enough time in the day, but if there were more than 24, I'd be exhausted!

Without further ado, I present to you my broccoli-spaghetti casserole recipe.  Most of the time I make mine in a 13" x 9" Pyrex dish, but on Saturday I made it using my dutch oven on the stove top and it was awesome.  The great thing about this recipe is that it can be prepared in ADVANCE, how wonderful is that!  I made the sauce and cooked the noodles on Thursday night last week, stored them separate in the fridge and combined them and added the cheese while my bread was baking before dinner on Saturday!

R.'s Broccoli Spaghetti Casserole
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 t. minced garlic
2 jars Bertolli Organic Tomato and Basil pasta sauce
2 T. olive oil
2 T. Cabernet Sauvignon (or your favorite red wine; I use whatever is open but Cab. Sauv. is my favorite)
1 bag frozen Steamfresh broccoli florets
Thin spaghetti (I like to use linguine, too)
1 1/2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

Brown the ground beef in a dutch oven over medium heat; use a baster to remove the fat.  Add garlic and let simmer for about 1 minute.  Add both cans of pasta sauce and stir in olive oil, then stir in Cabernet Sauvignon.  Add frozen broccoli to the sauce; cover sauce and simmer for 30 minutes.

While the sauce is simmering, cook your spaghetti noodles (you'll need about half the box for this recipe, depending on the sauce-to-noodle ratio you like) according to the package directions.  Drain and rinse.  Incorporate the desired amount of cooked noodles into the sauce in the dutch oven, then top with mozzarella cheese and cover until cheese is melted, or you can pop it into the oven at 350 degrees F for about 15-20 minutes (or until cheese is brown).  I did mine on the stove top because I was baking some beer bread in my oven, which only houses one rack.  Try it out and let me know what you think!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Bend and Not Break

Happy Sunday afternoon to everyone!  Dad and Mom skipped town right after lunch because, as evidenced by Virginia's recent wild weather, it was snowing down south while it was monsooning here in Charlottesville.  Basketball's not the only thing experiencing March Madness...

I blog today with a heart full of joy because I have finished my very first piece of handmade apparel:  my reversible wrap skirt!  I had several ups and downs while making this skirt.  First and foremost, I consider myself a novice in the vast world of sewing.  I have read article after article and book after book about how to carry out multiple sewing techniques, such as gathering, inserting zippers, sewing buttonholes , etc. Some of you might have just said to yourselves, "Child's play!" but I have yet to try them out.  I suppose I should practice, but I really like to dive right into the project.

Anyway, my low point on this wrap skirt project came when I was turning the ties right-side-out.  Something so simple turned me into the frustrated, irritable R.-monster.  I broke down in tears, people.  Seriously.  That was last Saturday.  I have come a long way since then.  I just wanted to share that tidbit because while I love making things with my hands, sometimes I would like to strangle my projects in a world where they had necks.  I am proud to say, though, that I have conquered this wrap skirt, even though I wanted to finish it before March.  FYI, the pattern I used is called the Audrey Wrap Skirt by Fig Tree Quilts.  I was concerned that it wouldn't drape right or even worse, look like I was wearing a quilt as a skirt, but I'll let you be the judge of that.  

I'm sure most of you have figured out that I love polka dots.  And I love red.  So here we go, ta-da:

Quite possibly the coolest thing about Audrey is that she's a two-in-one skirt:  that's economical, eh? I was expecting to favor the polka dot print, but I fell in love with the blue floral 1930s print (from the Betty Dear collection, designed by Darlene Zimmerman), and its my favorite "side" of the skirt:

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Ice Is Getting Thinner

...And by that I mean, I can see spring at the end of winter's tunnel.  Actually, I think I'll capitalize Spring and Winter, they're characters in this post.  Moving on.  The last time I posted on here, I said something to the effect of, wow, I can't believe February is halfway over, and boom, it's March.  I have really got to do a better job of keeping rintherealworld a living, breathing blog, consider this CPR. 

My parents are visiting this weekend, and I'm excited to see them.  We will probably do some shopping and maybe hit up Dave Matthews' winery out in Albemarle County, which is really cool.   And we'll probably eat some food, too.

In their honor, I'm making a new recipe from a book that JavaLady gave to me as a Christmas gift entitled Chocolate Cakes:  50 Great Cakes for Every Occasion.  Who knew I liked cake?  Anyway, it's called, "raspberries-on-the-bottom cake," which sounds delicious. I will tell you how it goes.

In other news, I still haven't finished my wrap skirt, and I am bummed about that.  I wanted to have it completed before March 1, fail on my part.  It is my celebration-of-Spring project, so I guess I have a few days until the season is official.

I feel like this is a random topic buffet, but have y'all heard of Pinterest?  I found out about it through some blogs that I read and thought it was such a great idea.  Here's why I think it's so cool:  it's a place to collect your favorite images found while beebopping around on the internet.  I have been testing it out to see how I like it, and I love it.  It's an awesome place for me to store ideas for my very own house one day, pictures of DIY projects that I want to tackle but can't for the lack of space in my apartment, dresses that I think are stunning, etc.  You get the point.  So rintherealworld is on Pinterest, check it out.  It's a pretty neat site.  Okay, peace out.