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January 31, 2014

Violet Eyes: High Low Peplum

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My inspiration for Project's Sewn, Fashion Icon Challenge is Elizabeth Taylor.
Source: Elizabeth Taylor Official Website
Dame Elizabeth Rosemond "Liz" Taylor, DBE (February 27, 1932 – March 23, 2011) was a British-American actress. From her early years as a child star with MGM, she became one of the great screen actresses of Hollywood's Golden Age. As one of the world's most famous film stars, Taylor was recognized for her acting ability and for her glamorous lifestyle, beauty, and distinctive violet eyes. (Source: Wikipedia)
There are several ways that I will never (or seek to) be like Miss Taylor, but Elizabeth's confidence is a trait that I aspire to have. Her features were unique and when she was little she was dismissed by studio executives but with her confidence, determination and whit she became a style icon.
Source: Eddie Fisher Wedding from the Official Elizabeth Taylor Website

One day I was cuddling Boston and I was whispering in her ears all the lovely things I wanted her to know that she was. She started whispering the same words back in my ears. It hit me hard that if I want her to believe she was I need to start believing it in myself. One of my goals for this year has be to have my positive self talk drown out any negative feelings. Accepting what my mommy shape is bound to be the largest battle against my self-deprivation.

I tested the circle dress from Penelope Peplum Add-on from see kate sew. It was a great add-on, the instructions were easy to follow. 
But due to the color of the fabric, my height (showed the 4 inch long scar on my knee from ACL surgery) and my shape it didn't give me the look I wanted. After a short brainstorm session with my sisters, a date with the scissors and quick dye job, I had it a High Low Violet Peplum.
With the high low effect it gives me great coverage of those parts of me that make me anxious. And I love how the violet highlights my bright blue eyes (something I inherited from my own beautiful Momma).
What do you do you do to gain confidence? Who are your Style Icons? 
January 30, 2014

Keeping it Real Through Refashioning

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Today I'm giving some really great pointers on sewing and refashioning at House of Estrela.

http://houseofestrela.blogspot.com/search/label/Refashion%20Month%202014

If you're into thrifty sewing, this would be a really great blog to check out and follow closely. Magda has become one of my favorite people to interact with in the blogging world.

With Love,
Al
January 29, 2014

Heart Pippa Peplum

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Today, you can find Boston's Pippa Peplum that I made from two Walmart clearance over at House of Estrela along with a few refashioning archives. Hope you head over!

January 28, 2014

Turning the Heart of the Children to their Fathers

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I love my family and there is nothing more precious to me than having them in my life. They help make me become a better person as I get to know them and grow with them. This understanding has brought me to want to be part of the promise: “And he [Elijah] shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers….” (Malachi 4:6)

A few months ago (just after we had moved), I met an older gentleman at my church. As he introduced himself, his name brought me back to my roots. When I told him that my grandma had the same maiden name as his last name, he asked where she grew up. I told him and he said, I had cousins from there. As it turned out he was my Grandma Twila's first cousin. My grandma was a major part of my life and impacts much of the way we sisters act. She was kind, loving, nonjudgmental, pleasantly plump, relaxed, and genuine. It was so exciting to have someone I felt instantly linked to that could share my love for such a great person.

Fast forward to last week. This cousin told me that he had pictures of my great grandfather (his uncle) that he wanted to give to me. Honestly, I never knew my great grandfather's name (Dad always called him grandpa) or much about him, but as I looked at these pictures I could see much of the goodness that was passed on to my grandma. It's been fun to share these pictures with my family and learn more. And remember all the treasure I still have to find as I see these pictures on my wall. It was incredible to be trusted with such a sacred heirloom as these pictures.

My Great-Grandfather with similar laugh lines in his cheeks and eyes as my Grandma Twila.

I've gotten to delve a little into family history as we've been issued a 40 day challenge to find a family name that is incomplete or currently unconnected to it's family. Then learn about that person and their story and find out how you are connected back to them.

My Great-Grandfather at a ground breaking for a new church. He's the cute little man on the far left.

Genealogy work is important for everyone. I have a distant Holland cousin that has been the means of uncovering a huge chunk on my mom's line. He is doing it because he knows that those people and their stories matter.Mom has shared some of those Holland ancestor stories with us. We had ancestors that bravely, helped aid in hiding Jews during the Holocaust. Knowing stories like this helps me know that I can be brave enough to stand up for what is right when others aren't willing or able to.

It honestly breaks my heart to see on my family fan charts when an individual's parents or children are not known. If we knew the stories and people missing, we could have added strength in hard times, but most importantly those incredible people could be remembered.

I think a great way for us to know where we're headed and who we are, is to understand where we came from. I am positive that those that have gone before me can make a profound impact on me in ways I can't yet comprehend.  I challenge you to take the leap and dive into the histories of your ancestors as well. Also, if you have any advise, please, please share.

With Love,
Al
January 27, 2014

Repurpose Katharine Hepburn Style

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Here is a little sneek peek, head over to House of Estrela today to check out our refashion!







January 22, 2014

Comfort Cozy Cinnamon Rolls

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If there was one thing all of us gals knew how to make when we went to college it was cinnamon rolls. All of us were known for our weekly "Sunday Sweets" and cinnamon rolls were always a popular all star desert for us. Once I got married there were few things that I could make and only one that I could make that my Mother In Law didn't...that was cinnamon rolls. Over time my technique has improved and the rolls have gotten better and better. By far this is one of Slim Jim's favorite deserts that I make.

Before I start I am going to warn you if you are looking for quick cinnamon roll fix, sigh I can't give you that, there are lots of refrigerator options for the quick fix. But there taste will not even approach the level of decadence of this recipe. I promise if you are willing to put in the wait time and follow my instructions for fail free, I promise you that it will be worth it. K?


Roll Dough
2 Tbsp. yeast, soften in 1/2 c. warm
6 Tbsp. sugar
2 c. milk, scalded and cooled
1/2 c melted shortening
2 tsp. salt
2 egg, beaten
6- 6 1/2 c. flour

First you are going to start by softening the yeast.  
(You will be tempted in a bind for time to skip this step but if you do I can only give you a 50 percent chance of it working out? Please, just take the extra 10 minutes to do this because in the end it will keep you from throwing out ingredients.)
In your bread bowl place your warm water, yeast and sugar. Mix and let sit for 10 minutes. (Walk away from it: change your laundry, play with your kids, check your e-mail/facebook/instagram, potentially do your dishes but DON'T put anything else in that bowl for 10 minutes). Now when you come back you should see all these big beautiful bubbles and that your yeast has "grown". If it hasn't your yeast may need more time, you might have used too cold or too hot of water or your yeast might be old (I keep mine in the fridge to keep it fresh, though we use it so much that I am sure I wouldn't have a problem). Do not proceed until you have soften yeast.
Okay, now we are going to put in the rest of our wet ingredients. You are going to start by scalding your milk. You can do this by putting it on the stove and patiently waiting for it to be the perfect temperature. Or you could do like me and put 1 1/2 cup of milk it in the microwave for 1 1/2 minutes then put the cold 1/2 of a cup in the milk to cool it.
Beat eggs. Put them in.
I thought I was a cinnamon roll expert because I always had pretty darn good cinnamon rolls and then I learned a trick from dough recipe that has amped this recipe to perfection. Melted Shortening. I know it isn't good for you but if you are looking to cinnamon rolls as a health food I am sorry it isn't but it is Comfort Cozy. I had always used melted butter or oil and it was good, but once I started using melted shortening the consistency of my dough vastly improved. It gives a much smoother softer consistency, one perfect for cinnamon rolls. If you don't have it you can still get pretty good rolls with butter or canola/vegetable oil. I just melt this in my microwave on mid temp until it is melted but not boiling over (again you could do this in a pan but I am not patience).
Add your first half of the flour and salt all at once and stir until it is smooth
 
 now start adding your cups of flour one cup at a time.
I use my stand mixer for this but if you don't have a stand mixer you still can make it just use a long spoon because the consistency will be so gooey it will make you want to add more flour than what it really needs.

See it is pretty sticky and still wet. To this batch I added the 6 1/2 cups.
Once it is all mixed and pulls away from the bowl, stop!

Cover and let rise in a warm spot until it doubles.

Now you might be tempted to make them into cinnamon rolls right now and they would be good but not great.

Punch them back down and wait for them to double again, the second time will go much faster.

Cinnamon Sugar Filling
1 cube of butter
2 tsp of Cinnamon
I used the Saigon Cinnamon from Costco, I like that it is sweeter and a little spicer than normal grocery store cinnamon, if you are using another brand you might want to increase the amount
1 packed cup of brown sugar

Now pour it out on a very well floured surface (for this I usually use my pastry cloth, so don't have to clean up a big floury mess) roll out until it is about 1/2 inch thick.

Usually I try to get a Jelly Roll pan sized rectangle (like 13" by 18") then I take a cube of softened butter (but not melted, I like to massage it into the dough and it doesn't get everywhere if it isn't liquid).
 
Then rub on 1 cup packed of brown sugar and sprinkle on the cinnamon until I am satisfied with the color. I love the Kirkland Brand Cinnamon from Costco it is a lot sweeter than most and the price is awesome.

Here is where you can be creative, if you want a very pretty presentation try and roll the rolls as tight as you can going from outside in and then work your hands back out.
 
For a more rustic look loosely roll, I like to this when universal size isn't necessary because I think they make bigger fuller looking rolls. Either application is beautiful.
I know this isn't the best angle for me but Ryder wanted to help and was so proud of himself that he had gotten picture of me making cinnamon rolls.
 Now making each one about 2 inches in length I cut the cinnamon rolls using dental floss (this will make sure they don't get smashed). Then evenly distribute them through the pan.
For our family I don't really worry about getting them all equal sized because I figure little ones are good for our kids. After you have them cut up into cute little rolls you have to wait again. Until they have doubled in size then you put them in a hot preheated oven at 375 for 15-20 or until they are brown (with my old apartments I rotate them half way through). I just keep my nose engaged and when they smell done they usually are.

The thing that really makes these over the top delicious is topping them with my MIL's cream cheese frosting recipe. I never make frosting unless it really will make a difference and though these are great without the frosting they are through the roof with frosting.

4 Tbsp. of butter
4 oz of Neufchatel Cheese (also sold as Low Fat Cream Cheese)
I use Neufchatel Cheese because it is softer and is easier to get a smooth consistency, but in a bind feel free to use Cream Cheese.
1/2 tsp. vanilla
I use Pure Vanilla Extract. I feel like in a non-cooked application you can really taste the difference between the real stuff and the imitation but in the end it is your call.
1 c. powdered sugar


I whip the butter together the "cream cheese".
When it is smoothly mixed then I put in my vanilla in the butter/cream cheese mixture
 
and when it is incorporated then I slowly put in the powdered sugar.
 
And beat until is gorgeously fluffy.

Then dress your sweet little rolls in the pretty little ivory icing and eat. These are a favorite for my husband, kiddos, neighbors, inlaws, blogging friends and husband's co-workers.  If I am making these for a crowd I double it and put it in a larger bowl to rise. 
Here is the tin foil wrapped goodie bunch that I took to Slim Jim at work
January 22, 2014

French Bread with mix ins

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We are a pizza lovin' family, but sometimes we just need something different.  
That is where this amazing recipe comes in.
You can make this recipe and then just roll in what you choose.  You could do a custard and fruit pie filling, or ham and cheddar, or like us this time, mix in about 3 oz of shredded mozzarella and about 20 slices of pepperoni.  Vwallah, you've got pizza bread.

Here is the recipe.
1.25 c warm tap water
3 tsp yeast
3 tbs. sugar
2.5 TBS. oil
1 egg
Stir this all together and let it rest for 5 min or until yeast bubbles
Add 3 cups of flour or enough to make the dough pull away from sides and all stick together.  Mix in your stand mixer for 3 minutes.
Let it rest for 10 minute intervals stir for 1 minute intervals four times.put on a 9*13 pan, and press it out so its rectangular.  add your toppings, and then roll it up.
once its shaped, cute three diagonal slits in the top.  Bake it at 350 for 30 minutes.
My oven bakes a little hot so I turned it down to 325.  and baked for 32 minutes.  Try this again and again, till the bread looks good to you.  
I butter the top of the bread, to keep the crust soft and tasting delish.
Good luck!


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