Always Aubrey: January 2012

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Garlic naan... from scratch!

Last year I tried Indian food for the first time, and now I make chicken tikka masala at home! :)  But I think my favorite Indian food is the bread....  NAAN.  Especially garlic naan.

I'm not much for making bread from scratch; I don't like waiting for it to rise!  But with the help of a friend, I discovered you can easily make this to accompany your favorite homemade Indian dishes or even just some hummus.  If you've never had it, it is kind of like a cross between a pita and a more doughy bread... reminds me of the samoon bread I had in Iraq!

This recipe is also great because it creates smaller servings of naan, and you can grill it instead of using a brick oven like the restaurants do.  (I used my Cuisinart Griddler!)

Eat any kind of bread in moderation; I often choose bread over dessert when I'm indulging!  Don't go overboard... except on the garlic.  I think I doubled or tripled the garlic. Because I want to burp garlic for days when I eat garlic naan...

I bet I could make an awesome flatbread pizza on this stuff!

Garlic Naan (from AllRecipes.com)

Ingredients
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1/4 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1 egg, beaten
2 teaspoons salt
4 1/2 cups bread flour
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/4 cup butter, melted

Directions
  • In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand about 10 minutes, until frothy. Stir in sugar, milk, egg, salt, and enough flour to make a soft dough. Knead for 6 to 8 minutes on a lightly floured surface, or until smooth. Place dough in a well oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and set aside to rise. Let it rise 1 hour, until the dough has doubled in volume.
  • Punch down dough, and knead in garlic. Pinch off small handfuls of dough about the size of a golf ball. Roll into balls, and place on a tray. Cover with a towel, and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
  • During the second rising, preheat grill to high heat.
  • At grill side, roll one ball of dough out into a thin circle. Lightly oil grill. Place dough on grill, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until puffy and lightly browned. Brush uncooked side with butter, and turn over. Brush cooked side with butter, and cook until browned, another 2 to 4 minutes. Remove from grill, and continue the process until all the naan has been prepared.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Lessons Learned from Sewing

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People often ask me why I took up sewing; even with the popularity of shows like Project Runway, most find it to be an old-fashioned hobby.  And a twentysomething single gal who takes up sewing?  Add a few more cats and it just screams SPINSTER to them.

But sewing is more than the tedious, time-consuming sweatshop work I think most people imagine it to be.

Sewing sparks creativity.  I love to shop, but sometimes it seems like the clothes out there weren't made to fit my body or personality.  I truly enjoy being able to choose a sewing pattern/design, choose a fabric, and customize a garment into something that I really like.  Sure, the fit isn't always perfect, and sometimes it takes longer than expected, but to choose how something is made from start to finish is really awesome.  Sleeves or no sleeves?  What length?  What color?  The options never end.

Sewing teaches patience and attention to detail.  Learning to sew wasn't second-nature to me.  It took me a while to learn to thread my machine without a manual!  And everything from cutting fabric, to pinning, to pressing (ironing) all along the way makes a huge difference in the finished product.  I can tell when I got tired or sloppy, because I skip the steps that make things look tailored and clean.  You have to maintain focus, and sometimes you just have to walk away for a while!

Sewing is cathartic.  It's a solitary activity, so you really fall into a rhythm with the sound of your machine.  You're working with your hands, guiding the fabric, piecing a puzzle together.  And in the end, the reward is sweet: you've created something for yourself or someone else, something you made from start to finish.  It's a great escape, and it can actually be soothing.

So you see, it isn't just an "old lady" hobby!  :)  And unlike my baking habit, it won't add to my waistline.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Switcheroo: a post about food



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I used to post about food all the time on this blog, but lately it's been taken over by sewing.  I still love to cook, but in the interest of my waistline and health, I took a detour from my baking marathons and calorie-laden meals.

But I love pasta.  I love pizza.  I love bread.  I love cheese.  I love frosting.  I love cake.  And I don't eat my veggies.

So you see, it's been a challenge, nay, a struggle! not to bake the many delectable delights I consistently pin to my boards on Pinterest.  I mean, Snickerdoodle CupcakesKrispy Kreme Muffins?  I think I just drooled on myself.

I've been working on my fitness New Year's Resolution for nearly a month now, and I'm not giving up!  I'm proud of the 5 lbs. I've lost thus far, flying high on the endorphins from consistent workouts, and learning to eat better along the way.  One of the ways I am trying to accomplish this healthier eating is through substitution.

We all know deprivation doesn't work, so substitution is the easiest way for me to adjust my eating habits, along with portion control.  And so far, it's working!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The "Lilly" Dress

Check out my latest sewing creation on The Sew Weekly!

My inspiration came from Lilly Pulitzer... the dress isn't perfect, but I love the print and lace!

The Facts
Fabric: Amy Butler Modern Midwest II Fresh Poppies (Sky), $8.98/yd x 2.5 yds. from Fabric.com
Pattern: McCall's 5882 (Dress F, without contrast)
Year: 1960s style
Notions: Invisible zipper, Hook & eye (all from stash), Lace trim (eBay, $6.99)
Time to complete: 4 hours
First worn: Plan to wear for Savannah Philharmonic's Afternoon Adagio in February!
Wear again: Yes!  Once I fix the crooked lace and maybe fit it better.
Total price: $30  (a real Lilly would cost $200!)

Inspiration





Sunday, January 22, 2012

Aerobic-thon and Sergers

Fabrika Fine Fabrics, photo by Cedric Smith Photography
Random title, right?

Yesterday, my schedule was JAM-PACKED.  I woke up bright and early to head to an Aerobic-thon at my local gym.  It was a big event, with body fat/cholesterol screenings and TONS of aerobics instructors helping us sweat for hours!  I was totally exhausted after a the three hours of aerobics we did.  There was so much variety, including kickboxing, Zumba, hula hoop, belly dancing, and step aerobics.  How fun, right?  And it was all free!  I am happy to report that my blood pressure and cholesterol are normal, but I am still overweight; I have lost 5 lbs. since January 1st, so at least I am making progress!

Then I headed to Savannah for my serger class at Fabrika.  I absolutely LOVE their new space!  Emily showed me how to use the serger I scored on Craigslist, and I feel like a whole new world of sewing has opened up to me!  It is definitely a tool that will help me a lot in the future.  I also can't wait to ogle the cotton prints at the store for possible new dress ideas.

I finished up the day with dinner at Cheddar's with LD & PD, then headed home and PASSED OUT.  Such a full Saturday!  I couldn't have asked for a better one.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Gleek Peek: Welcome back!

Loved the girls' retro look!
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SPOILER ALERT, as usual!

Glee was AWESOME Tuesday night!  I love when the songs fit the themes of the show, and I love a fantasy montage.  Wasn't Rachel the perfect Patty Simcox, and Santana as Rizzo, for the "Summer Lovin'" cover?  LOVE.  I felt like the musical numbers were just ON.

The storyline about Finn wanting to join the Army, and learning of his Dad's PTSD, was really really hard for me to watch.  Having served in Iraq, and knowing so many soldiers lost to suicide and addiction following their experiences overseas, it was very real.  I'm glad they showed Finn talking to his family about his interest in enlisting in the military.  It's a very real conversation that young people should have with their families.

Let's be honest, Will and Emma need to take the next step... but then again there will always be conflict, like Luke/Lorelei on Gilmore Girls, right?  Right.  So when Will kind of made marrying Emma conditional upon her getting over her OCD issues, I kind of wavered.  Can love be conditional like that?  It hurt me to watch.  But he redeemed himself in the end with the awesome proposal!

As for Finn and Rachel.... meh.

Songs I'll Download:  "Summer Lovin'", "Wedding Bell Blues", "Moves Like Jagger/Jumpin' Jack Flask", "Without You", "We Found Love"

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Adventures in Babysitting

Yes, he likes the solar calculator.
Little smartypants!
Yesterday, I babysat for the 1-year-old son of my good friend VV while her house was being packed up for a move.  I'd never had a little kid in my house for an extended amount of time, but I was more than happy to volunteer to take on little G for the day!

I was admittedly a little nervous... I prepped my house the night before and double-checked everything the next morning.  I sat by the phone anxiously waiting to hear when G would be arriving.  I wanted to do a good job!

I didn't babysit much as a teenager, and I worry about the fragility of babies.  I might mess it all up!  But the thing I like about G is that he just makes sense.  He tells you what he needs... even when what he needs is a diaper/clothes change after an explosive-up-the-back-poop incident.  (I think I owe VV some more baby wipes because I used a TON on that one!)

While a lot of my friends have kids, I know that I'm not quite ready for my own yet... though some of my girlfriends would tell you that you're never really ready!  But I do know that the more time I spend with the little kids in my life, the more I learn.  I learn how to hold them, feed them, change them, take care of them... and I feel a little less frightened at the prospect of children as time goes by.  I love how they are in awe of everything around them, how the littlest things are so major for them.  I am amazed at how such tiny, defenseless beings become kids, then adults!  I can't imagine what it's like for my parents to look at me now but still remember a time when they could pick me up and cradle me.

But for now I'll be content to help my friends out with their little kiddos, and spoil them as much as I can. After all, the best part about playing the 'auntie' is that they go home to their parents at the end of the day! :)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Ramblings of the Loudmouthed Introvert

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I don't think most of the people in my life would call me an introvert.  To them I'm a social being, a chatterbox, a busybody.  But those who know me really well would disagree.  I know what you're thinking... "Aubrey is constantly on Facebook, Twitter, blogging, etc.   She's obviously an extrovert."  But social media isn't the same as true, confrontational socializing; social media is passive-aggressive.  You have more personal control over what you present online.  Observant friends might notice that my smiles and rambling are merely symptoms of nervousness, that my eyes dart rapidly in crowds because I feel overwhelmed, that I have trouble remembering names when I am introduced to too many people at once.

During my trip to Hawaii, my longtime friend CF and I had a long conversation about what it's like for introverts in society.  She'd posted an article entitled "10 Myths About Introverts" on her Facebook wall, which I felt was very accurate.  Being an introvert doesn't automatically make you shy or quiet, it just means you are comfortable in your own thoughts and like to connect with people one-on-one instead of larger crowds.  I like to have fun, but I'm not an adrenaline junkie.  In most social settings I find I can really connect with at least one person, but not many more.  I make social mistakes, and sometimes it costs me friendships, but mostly only superficial ones.  I like to spend weekends at home on my own, sewing, reading, cooking, etc.  I am very comfortable in solitude, in the quiet.  And I think most folks who fall into the nerd/geek category are introverts to a degree; we don't need other people (or their approval) as much, but we do like them.

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In the February 2012 issue of O Magazine, there is an article by Susan Cain, the author of QUIET: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, which really interested me.  I read every single word and felt like she really knew who I was.  And I love that she highlighted the ways that non-introverts can learn from introverts.  There's a lot to be gained from deeper conversations instead of small talk, reading more, listening to others, and wielding "soft" power in the ability to reassure and make alliances.  I also related to what she said about working better alone; I don't like collaboration as much as the time to work on my own performance.  I do like being a member of a team, but I am more creative and productive when alone.

After reading these articles, I'm glad to know I'm not alone, no pun intended!  :)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Vintage Patterns!

I recently purchased my first vintage sewing patterns!  I spent a few days scouring eBay and Craigslist, but didn't really find the perfect lot until a few days ago.  It found a sale of 30 patterns from the 1950s and 1960s.  I paid about $28, which is was a pretty good deal considering the patterns are actually in my size! I figured if I don't want all of them, I could sell them individually on eBay and possibly even turn a profit if I want.  I haven't been able to check them all for completeness, but I really hope to sew at least a few of these this year.

Here are a few of my favorites!

I want to make the version with sleeves, and I love the little bows! 
I love this illustration.  Separates!

The buttons on the back are one of my favorites.  I might have to learn to do covered buttons!

I haven't blogged much, but I had a great weekend!  I had a fun girls' night out at Jazz'd and Bar Bar on Saturday, and a great Sunday movie date to see The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (GREAT film!) and also some delicious Indian food.  Today is a lazier day, with a 1st birthday party on the agenda.  Then tomorrow I get to babysit that birthday boy while his parents pack up their house for a big move!  Busy busy busy, but that's the way I like it.  Doesn't it feel good at the end of the day to be all tuckered out and ready for an awesome night of sleep?  :)

Friday, January 13, 2012

Spring Skirt Fashion Faceoff with @FrugalFrocks

I know it's still winter, but spring trends are popping up on our fashion radar!  So @FrugalFrocks, THE place to find fashion deals and discount codes online, and I teamed up to do a bit of a fashion face-off for another Frugal Frocks Friday post!

The challenge?  Build a spring look around a statement skirt for around $100!  Caro took on the very now sheer overlay skirt with a floral print, while I focused on a bright yellow color and vintage look.  Both of us, building outfits completely independently, chose neutral/tailored tops, booties, and modern/bright accessories to keep the looks grounded.


Frugal Frocks' Look:
Skirt:  Longline Floral Skirt with belt from Forever 21, $24.80
Top:  Sleek Fit Silk Shirt in Vintage Pink from Express, on sale for $39.99 (*$23 this weekend only!)
Necklace:  Spike Ball Necklace from ASOS, on sale plus discount code SALE10 for $10.48
Purse:  Block Colour Clutch in Green from Zara, on sale for $15.99
Shoe:  Wild Diva Akemi-76 Bootie in Brown from Endless.com, on sale for $23.10
Grand Total:  $114.36

Aubrey's Look:
Skirt:  Craving Curry Skirt in Saffron from ModCloth, $32.99
Top:  Chiffon Top w/Necktie in Cream from Forever 21, $15.80
Hat:  Albertus Swanepoel Ganache Hat in Green from Target, on sale for $9.98
Bracelet:  Lacquered Pyramid Bracelet in Mint from Forever 21, $5.80
Shoe:  Portia Bootine from Payless, on sale for $29.99
Grand Total:  $94.56

Like what you see?  Some of these sales end as soon as Monday!  Snag them while you can!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Why I'm obsessed with @DowntonAbbey

Downton Abbey is an incredible period drama imported to the U.S. via PBS.  You heard me, public broadcasting!  It has aired two seasons thus far, the first which I caught on Netflix, the second which is currently airing on PBS.  But since my local PBS won't air it, I'm catching up by watching online!

What is this show that everyone is (or should be!) talking about?  The series is set in the fictional Downton Abbey, it follows the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family during the tumultuous 1910s.  From the sinking of the Titanic to WWI, to dramas between servants and other scandal, there's just so much going on with this family.  If you love period dramas like I do (such as the BBC/Masterpiece serials for Pride & Prejudice, Jane Eyre, and North & South to name a few), then you MUST watch this one.  It's like a soap opera, except the production quality is phenomenal and the acting is top-notch.

The top three reasons I'm obsessed with this show?  READ ON.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The "Red Satchel" Dress

Check out my latest sewing creation on The Sew Weekly!

Not the best thing I ever made (had zipper issues!), but I love the dress pattern and will make it again!

The Facts:
Fabric: Cotton print (2 yd.) from Walmart, $4.44/yd
Pattern: Butterick 5450 (Dress C)
Year: Contemporary
Notions: Invisible zipper, optional blanket binding from stash
Time to complete: 4 hours
First worn: January 2012
Wear again: Maybe, if I fix the botched zipper job!
Total price: $10

Monday, January 9, 2012

Duchess Catherine does it again!

Duchess Catherine attended a movie premiere in London yesterday, and everyone loved her lace Alice Temperley gown!  I did too... but I could never afford the price tag.  There are Alice Temperley gowns that go for $2000+, which is way out of my league.  You know I'm a fan of taking inspiration from Kate and finding a way to make it work for me... so here's an attempt at this lace overlay trend she favors.


I found a current Alice Temperley lace gown for sale on their website for $2900.  It's GORGEOUS and I love it.  But not many of us normal girls have room or need for a lace gown in our lives.  But, taking modesty cues from Kate such as midi lengths and dresses with sleeves, we can find a more practical dress that still feels very 'Duchess'.  The black ASOS dress is something I would really wear, and I think the brunette model almost seems to be styled like Kate too!  It's on sale for $70, so if you want the look for less, something you could definitely wear out for a special evening, this could be for you!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Peanut Butter Sheet Cake

I know what you're thinking... what about healthy eating and New Year's resolutions?  But you guys, this is epic.

Peanut. Butter.  They'll ban me from elementary school cafeterias forever with this allergy-inducing concoction.  But then they'll taste it themselves and feel sorry for the poor kids who can't have it.

When I was visiting my Grandma in the nursing home, my cousins' grandmother MMM (3M!) came by with this moist, luxurious peanut butter sheet cake.  She brought it for Grandma, but insisted I take a bite.  I did, and I was so sad there wasn't more!  Well, apparently my Grandma noticed how much I enjoyed it, because she made me eat the entire slice, as she watched and laughed.  She always cooked things that made me happy, and in the nursing home she couldn't.  This was the next best thing.

I scoured the interwebz to find a similar recipe, then gave it a shot this afternoon.  My icing didn't turn out as soft as 3M's, but that was okay; it actually ended up tasting like peanut butter fudge.  I had to stop myself from eating it from the mixing bowl.

This cake is NOT for dieters.  It has LOTS of butter.  And sugar.  And brown sugar.  And powdered sugar.  A sugar trifecta.  A plethora, you might say.  But as my friend LD says, "Calories in, calories out!"  I don't diet.  I run 5 miles so I can eat a cupcake.  And I only kept a slice of this cake for myself before packaging the rest up to take to the office tomorrow.  That way, if I fail in my fitness quest, at least everyone around me will be a little chubbier too.  Mwahahahahaha.  <---evil peanut butter laugh

P.S.  I use vanilla bean paste instead of vanilla extract when I bake... SO much more flavorful, and you can see the little beans!  :)

Recipe after the jump!



Saturday, January 7, 2012

What? I haven't been blogging?

What?  I haven't been blogging?  It's not my fault!  I blame...

THIS.


And THIS.


And sewing some of THIS.


But I'm not complaining a single bit!  :)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Doodle: New Year's Resolution

Guess who discovered Bamboo Notebook her iPad?  It's doodle time!

Okay, not exactly what really happened.  But it's what I WANTED to do!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Sew Weekly @sewweekly

Yes, another sewing post... stop reading here if you're annoyed. 

I can't remember how I found The Sew Weekly.  I think I was Googling 'sewing blogs' or 'how to sew and not screw it up completely' when I stumbled upon this gem.  And now I just can't get enough!  I mentioned it in yesterday's post, but I felt the site itself deserved its own recognition.

On The Sew Weekly, there is a weekly sewing theme/challenge, which is meant to inspire you to create 52 wardrobe pieces in a year.  There is the Sewing Circle, which is a great forum/community for people to support each other and ask for/give advice.  There are also great articles with sewing tips, general information, and photographs of all the items that different contributors are making.

One of my favorites features, which I discovered via Pinterest, was the Make This Look thread.  Taking looks from stores like Modcloth and Anthropologie, they find similar patterns and fabrics so you can make your own apparel inspired by current fashion.  I love it because it opens my eyes to the possibilities of what you can do when you sew your own clothes; you don't have to be a Grandma to own a sewing machine!

Inspired by the women who contributed last year, I signed on as a contributor for 2012!  My goal is to be one of the five featured contributors at some point throughout the year, but I'm happy to be one of the many posting.  Let's see if I can keep it up, and learn more about sewing along the way.

P.S.  My next mini sewing project?  Preserving the patterns I love with fusible interfacing.

My first contribution!


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

"When Life Gives You Lemons" Skirt

Fabric:  Cotton print/solid from JoAnn's
Pattern:  McCall's M5591 (Skirt A)
Time to Complete:  3 hours (fabric was already cut)
Yesterday, I realized I'd been a bit of a bum over the long New Year's weekend.  The only time I'd been out of pajamas was to have a delicious (and fancy!) birthday dinner at 700 Drayton with BC and LD, so today I made myself productive.  I did my chores, then took a look at the different sewing projects lying around the office...

I recently joined the Sewing Circle at Sew Weekly, and I anxiously awaited my first weekly challenge of the year... but nothing popped up until the evening.  Nonetheless, the comments on my past projects inspired me to do something about it.  And when life gives you lemons (or a citrus-printed fabric!), you make a skirt, right?

This was my first apparel item with pockets, as well as my first skirt ever.  I'll be the first to admit that there are flaws all over the place, it's too tight because I cut it for my size a year ago (hello, New Year's Resolution!), and the inside is hideous.  I didn't understand the directions for the yoke (waist) or the band, so I kind of made things up along the way.  But in the end, for three hours of work on an easy day off, I'm pretty happy.  I definitely feel like I'm back in the (sewing) game!

In other news, so long as I can keep up, I am a registered contributor on The Sew Weekly!  I'll be posting most of my sewing projects there, but I will post photos/links here once they are published.  Check out my introduction post.

I changed out of PJs just to take these photos... no makeup either.
But cute shoes!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year's Resolutions

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It's that time of year again!  Looking back on last year's resolutions, I managed to keep 3 out of 4... not too shabby, but this year I'm focusing on ONE main goal!  GETTING. IN. SHAPE.

In 2010, I got fit.  I felt comfortable in my own skin, loved the way my clothes fit, and was happy.  In 2011, I gained 25 lbs.  I KNOW.  People don't believe me, but the scale doesn't lie.  I had to buy bigger clothes, and it hurt my self-esteem.  I'm 26, so the earlier I start, the better off I will be later!  My goal for 2012 is to lose what I gained and maintain that final weight, because I know how much better I felt when I was fit.  I've already started attending aerobics classes (step, Zumba, etc.) and am ready to kick my own butt!  I'll keep you posted, because a blog is a great way to keep yourself accountable.  2012 is my year!

Another mini goal for myself is to have less anxiety.  I need to accept the things I cannot change.  I have realized (with some help!) that I take on too much guilt and shame for things that are not my fault.  Most people have trouble taking responsibility; I have panic attacks because I take on too much, even though it is the actions of others (out of my control) stressing me out!  Typically a perfectionist or a people-pleaser, this time I am going to decline invitations to arguments and drama.  I am not going to sweat the small stuff, and I am going to accept that I will not always be popular.  I am simply going to continue to be myself, and if I lose friends along the way I can accept that.  In the end, I will be better off!

Anyone else got some good resolutions?  :)
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