Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Bunting/Banner tutorial - fused fabric version

I really love the oilcloth banners I’ve been seeing around but I don’t have my oilcloth yet. What I do have a lot of is fabric and fusible interfacing.

So here is my take on festive party bunting, HBIC style.

Materials, per 9’ length:
4 fat quarters in bright and cheerful colors/patterns
Steam-a-Seam 2, 18”x40” (one piece. I had already cut it in half for the picture below)
1 package bias binding, Extra-wide double fold
optional : snaps or other closures for connecting 2 or more lengths

Fusing the fabrics
Cut the interfacing in half so you have two 18x20 pieces.
Make your fabric sandwich by laying down one fat quarter, face down.
Peel off backing from one side of interfacing and smooth it down over fabric. Carefully peel off second backing. Lay the other fat quarter on top, face up. Trim off any bits off interfacing that stick out or else it’ll stick to the iron and ironing board.

Now the stinky part. With the iron on the highest setting, press your sandwich until it is completely fused. This will take a while as it takes at least 15 seconds to melt it (please check the directions on the interfacing roll if you use a different brand!). Do not slide the iron or you may create permanent wrinkles. Repeat for the second sandwich.

Cut your triangles
The edges don’t need to be neat as they will be hidden inside the binding later. These directions are for 6”x10” triangles, giving you the least amount of waste. Cut your sandwiches in half, giving you two 18”x10” sections. You can make a paper template first (below) or just measure and cut (next photo).
Along the top of each rectangle measure and mark every 6 inches. Along the bottom make your first mark at 3” and the rest at 6”, giving you something like this…

Don’t throw away the scraps! We can use those too.

Attaching to binding
Lay out your bias binding and arrange pennants in desired order, spacing evenly ( I eye-balled mine).
Tuck tops inside binding and pin. If you like, flip it over to see that you like the reverse side too. Sew the binding closed. The binding is stretchy so I recommend a zigzag stitch.

Viola! Step back and admire your work!

Optional: If you make several lengths use snaps or buttons to connect them.

*Scraps* Cut mini triangles out of the scraps and thread them onto bamboo skewers to make mini pennants! Give them to the kids (minus the sharp end) or poke them into flower pots.

Party Time!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Adventures with Gelatin

Today I decided to re-try the gelatin dessert, Pineapple Bavarian. I tried this last week with my brand new mini Jello molds and it didn’t set. Here is the exact recipe, verbatim, from The Modern Encyclopedia of Cooking circa 1959. “Bavarian” is a rich cream mixture thickened with just enough gelatin to make them set.

Pineapple Bavarian
1 T plain gelatin
¼ cup cold water
9 oz can crushed pineapple (1 cup)
1 cup whipping cream, chilled
dash of salt
¼ cup sugar
2 T Maraschino cherry juice
6 Maraschino cherries, halved

"Sift gelatin over the water measured into a custard cup. Let stand for 5 min to soften. Meanwhile turn pineapple into a 2 qt mixing bowl. Stir in cherry juice, salt, and sugar. Set custard cup of gelatin in a pan containing hot water and let stand until it melts into a clear liquid, then stir into pineapple mix. Set aside or in refrigerator until mixture becomes consistency of thick unbeaten egg white. Have cream whipped until just stiff, but not lumpy. Quickly scrape cream onto top of pineapple mixture, then using scraper, quickly cut and fold in the cream lightly but thoroughly. Cover and place in refrigerator to chill. Serve heaped lightly in sherbets. Garnish with cherries."

I really wanted a molded dessert so I amended a bit. I used a full package of gelatin, ½ pint whipping cream and 2 oz cream cheese. It is important you use canned pineapple as fresh pineapple has some sort of enzyme that inhibits the gelatin from setting! (This could be why my first attempt failed, though I cooked the pineapple.)

To release these guys from their molds I had to warm the bottoms a bit under warm water. It was too hot and the first one melted a bit. The second one was perfect. This is a very rich dessert to these little single serving size molds will be perfect for the party.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Adventures with Canapes

Here's how my explorations in to Mid-Century appetizers played out.

Good and bad. I’m glad I tried these out before hand. Firstly, ALL of the apps included some sort of cheese AND mayo, with the exception of the apple-celery kabob which just had a hunk of cheese. And I had to skip the smoked salmon canapĂ© because I forgot the sour cream (to blend with the cream cheese).

I started with the Stuffed Olives:
Cream Cheese
Roqufort Cheese
Finely chopped nuts
Large Black Olives

Mash it all up and fill the olives. The filling tasted great but after filling two olives I said hell with it! And the wonderful subtle flavor disappeared when combined with the olive. So I piped it into the celery instead, which upon closer examination of the recipe, was essentially the same thing sans the nuts and maybe a dash of French Dressing. When I get a proper tip for piping it won’t look so slug like on the celery. Results? Thumbs up! But it needs a fancy garnish me thinks.

Next was Avocado Canape:
NOTE: A canapé is something typically served on a bread or cracker. I always wondered!

1 Avocado
Cream Cheese
Grated onion
Crumbled Bacon
Top with olive slices

Yum! This is my fave, hands down. It was supposed to be served on a bread cutout but I hated the taste of the bread I got so it went on a Ritz. Two thumbs up!

Then came the Egg-Cucumber Canape:
Hard-boiled Eggs
Cooked bacon in 2” pieces
Mayo (of course)

Very disappointing considering how nice they looked. It was very bland and dry. Perhaps it needs something yummy spread on the cracker first?

Next up : Apple-Celery Kabobs
Lemon juice, water, sugar
Red Apple-cubed
Sharp Cheese – cubed
Celery- cubed

Toss apple in lemon juice mixture and chill for an hour. Tastes great and prevents apple from browning.
Very tasty and by far the healthiest thing on the “menu”. I need to cube everything more carefully for proper effect and color contrast. And I think I will slice the celery thinner so people actually eat it. When served on a larger scale they should be poked into a large grapefruit, not a withered mango!

I’ll keep the Avocado Canape and the Apple-Celery Kabobs for sure. I need some meats/shrimp too.
Next I think I’ll play with the Melon Cocktail, Maraschino Cherry Soda, and gelatin desserts!

Here's a bird's eye shot, in all it's cheesy splenor.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Happy Birthday Chandra!

Today is my dear little sister's 31st Birthday. We live several states apart and I don't get to see her as often as I'd like. She wrote me the sweetest letter on my last birthday and that made my birthday very special. I wanted to do something special for her on hers. Please join me in wishing her a fantastic 31!

(photo courtesy of http://simplycake.blogspot.com/ )

Thursday, July 24, 2008

So one garnish says to another...

As I posted previously I’m planning a major retro shindig (late September-ish it looks like) As I’m reading through my 1950’s cookbooks I’m getting the feeling I might need to try some of this hideous sounding stuff out to make sure it’s actually edible. It’s going to LOOK fantastic but I want it to get eaten too! So today I made a cursory list of a few ingredients to pick up and thought I’d play guinea pig on myself.

Along the way I picked up a 1960 edition of The Joy of Cooking. I got very inspired by the fabulous garnish section and started playing with a few veggies. I failed miserably. I just don’t have the proper tools or very sharp knives. So tomorrow I’ll hit the local gourmet kitchen shop and see what sort of neat gizmos and gadgets they have.

The one thing that did turn out well was the curling!

This is the end of a green onion and a celery stalk. Cut very narrow, thin slices in the ends and let sit in ice water. They had so much personality I had to pose them. Don’t they look like octopi ? I don’t think the onion likes the celery so much. Maybe it’s the lack of eyes…

I really like the celery tree/octopus.

Recipes to try out are:

Avocado Canape (glorified guacamole)

Cheese and Salmon Canape

Apple- Celery Kabobs

Stuffed Black Olives

Egg-Cucumber Canape

Stuffed Celery or Endive

Tune in tomorrow to see the results. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

You've come a long way, Baby

I was tidying up my photo files, putting pics where they belong when I opened up the “Beta aprons” file. This is where I stash pictures of test aprons or really old designs that I’ve discontinued. Oh, the embarrassment! I actually sold these things to the public. Well, tried.

I couldn’t even show you the really bad ones. It’d destroy my reputation as the Head Bitch in Charge. It’s not even the aprons that were bad but the photos! Ach!

But first, here is where it all began…before the birth of HBIC. I was working on a degree in Fine Arts and ruining all my clothes in the process. Charcoal, matte medium, sumi ink…I quickly began wearing an apron. A really ugly boring one. Well, I thought, I’m supposed to be an artist…create one! So I did. This one.

A typical BBQ style but I still have it and use it. Reversible too! Then I started making myself kitchen aprons and it went on from there. First with half aprons (this poor thing has no shape, just a big, gathered rectangle!)…

…Then full length. This poor little lady looks like a Cyclops! This was the beginning of my signature shape though.

The sweetheart top came later, as well as reversibility, adjustable neck strap and larger pocket. Arriving at this. The first one that I felt was really retail worthy. And it was! This was my best seller for about a year until the fabric was discontinued.

I’ve continued tweaking the design a bit and added more products and having great fun! I’m pretty proud of how far I’ve come and it’s always fun to think “If I like it now think of how much better I’ll be a year from now!”

(Wow, it's amazing how that whole post felt like showing my 80s prom pictures to everyone!)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Even Rickrack needs to feel needed

I'm once again trying to organize my sewing room and I keep shuffling these same boxes around. I love they way they look but I haven't found a use for them yet.

I can't use these in my regular items for sale for various reasons- discontinued, odd lengths, wrong color. A lot of the rickrack is vintage so it's faded in places, degrading, or not color-fast.
I need a fun, mega rickrack and trim project!

Maybe weave it into something? Throw some on a lampshade? Something really over the top?What would you do with all this ricky-racky love? And a fair amount of bias trims too. Hmmmm.
Ideas anyone?


I’m one of those lucky ones who developed adult onset allergies and this year has been the worst. I’ve sneezed more over the last 3 days than I have all year to date. I’m not kidding. My nose is raw and peeling, and my lips are chapped and cracking (having to sleep slack-jawed in order to breath. Sexy!). The meds that work make me so dizzy I can’t walk or function or they don’t work at all.

I was getting ready to sneeze for the bazillionth time and was shaking out a tissue from my pocket (my pockets are bulging with them) and noticed all the tissue dust emanating from it. Gasp! Could it be I was allergic to the tissue itself?? I felt so clever! Then, gasp!, I remembered my little handkerchief collection.

Sadly, converting to cotton hankies didn’t alleviate any symptoms and they were actually pretty rough on my poor nose but I felt like such a lady! I think the white ones with lacey edges were actually my grandmother’s. My mother may have added the pink and maybe yellow edging.

Now I’m going to keep one in each handbag so I at least have a beautiful emergency hanky.

Just look at the detail. The flowers are hand appliqued!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Rummage Sale Joy!

Yesterday was a beautiful day and also the town rummage sale, Shipwreck Day. 11 blocks of fun and junk! I’m not normally a bargain shopper or yard saler, even though I wish I were. My sister-in-law came up for a visit and we hit the pavement together. We had a great time! I knew what I was looking for and I found some treasures: A Thermos brand aluminum luchbox, a pile of embroidery hoops, 3 serving/casserole dishes, 2 wood spoons (.10 each and I love spoons!), 2 1950's cookbooks, an assorment of mini Jell-O brand molds, a set of drink markers, a 1940's banking ledger and paystubs (not shown).

I got all this loveliness for about $45 which may not be a huge bargain but I’m not much of a haggler. My favorites are the embroidery hoops (I have a specific project in mind) and these awesome drink markers.

I was feeling very inspired by the mini Jell-O molds so I cracked open the cookbooks and found a great pineapple gelatin mold that in turn inspired a pineapple themed bbq. We had Pina Coladas, shish kebabs (with pineapple of course!) and the pineapple dessert. The dessert was delicious but didn’t set right so we just ate it out of the molds like a bowl!

We finished off the day by lighting a fire in the chimnea and talked about old times.

All in all a fantastic day!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Putting on the finishing touches

I've been preparing my home for a big 50's wing-ding, including re-painting my dining room mint green (above) and reupholstering the chairs in my favorite bark cloth. Between party planning and writing posts about my passion for all things fun and 50's the two have almost become one. I plan to trot out all my favorite decor and knick-knacks and create a few new things as well and probably share it all here. It's like creating a giant craft fair display!

Perhaps some of my decorations will find their way in to my HBIC line of home decor! One thing that will definitely not become part of my regular repertoire is the authentic, lard filled, artery clogging food! I'm dying to cook the recipes but I'm rather afraid to eat them!

Peanut butter and bacon?? Seriously? And the check marks are not mine. I see a table full of devilled eggs, fondue, jello molds, aspic, punch, shishkebabs etc. It'll look great anyway!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Grand Opening

Wadda ya know, Daddio?
Hey Kids! I'm throwing a fantabulous wing-ding and it starts in just a few minutes. The pad is decked out, the eats are looking fine and the bar is open! So don't be shy, come on in and grab a cocktail. The conga line starts behind me!
Being the Hostess with the Mostess I hope to share with all you Cool Cats and Chicks the ups and downs, ins and outs of being a Bitch in Business. But all work and no play makes me really thirsty for a margarita so I'll be sure to invite you all to Happy Hour.
So sit down and relax. I'm just going to set the mood and throw a disk on the ole hi-fi...