Monday, August 22, 2011

Get Crafty: Catholic Embroidery

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We are so blessed! Yesterday was the baptism of our 3rd godson, Daniel Xavier! He’s such a precious little bundle, as are all godchildren, and we are so excited to have a little bit of responsibility for him as he grows and becomes who God intended him to be. And special days call for special projects, so I decided to embroider a baptismal stole for him, inspired by one that was handmade for my son Michael. I wanted it to not only be made by me, but to be made just for him. Daniel was named after the biblical Daniel of the Lion’s Den, so it was appropriate to incorporate the image of a lion as a symbol of his namesake. I’m no whiz at embroidery, but I think it turned out pretty great!

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I designed the embroidery pattern myself, and used a trick to get it on the fabric (would only work with light colored fabric, I think). I found a lion shape I liked from Google images, and inserted it into a Word document. I then added the text in a script font, centered the whole thing, and traced it onto the fabric directly on the screen like a lightbox. I taped the white cotton fabric in place and gently used a silver fabric marking pencil, and it worked like a dream. I did the same for the chi rho symbols. The fabric I used measured 6.5” by 24.5”, and I sewed it along the ends and one long side after embroidering, so the finished dimensions were 3” by 24”.

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Our second godson was baptized a little over a month ago, and I was so disappointed to see that our church (wonderful though it is), provided a stole that was made of polyester felt. I’m a snob about quality materials, and my insides felt sad at this discovery. Every other stole I had seen was a respectable white cotton with a red chi rho symbol machine embroidered on it. I had thought about making a stole for little Andrew Paul, and I kicked myself for not trying it at that point. Just another reason I was not going to miss this current opportunity. Andrew did, however, get a very cute wooden saint doll made by St. Anne’s Pixies on Etsy, a great Catholic mama and talented artist, and this was a personalized, play-with-able, baptismally-appropriate gift that I was very proud to give.

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Our first godson, Eugene Joseph, got neither stole nor saint doll, but I made him his baptismal garment. I was no experienced seamstress then, nearly 8 years ago, but I am still proud that I was able to do something meaningful for him. Let me see if I can dig up an ancient photo… ah, there we go… it’s humble, but it got the job done :)

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I just love baptisms. And the smell of chrism. And sweet little newborn babies…

Sunday, August 14, 2011

From the Kitchen: Tea Cup Cake

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Did you know you can make cake… delicious, moist chocolate cake… in the microwave? You surely can. So go find a small set of hands willing to help you (shouldn’t be hard to find if you phrase it the right way), grab a couple microwave-safe tea cups, mugs or ramekins, and prepare to nuke.

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Tea Cup Cakes (makes 2 tea cup cakes or one mug cake)

Ingredients:

1/4 cup flour

1/4 cup sugar

2 tbsp cocoa powder

1 egg

3 tbsp milk

2 tbsp oil

1 tsp vanilla

Directions:

Mix all ingredients in a large microwave-safe measuring cup (or a large mug) with a spoon until well mixed. Don’t be too particular. If you’re making tea cup or ramekin cakes, pour half into each cup/ramekin. Sprinkle with a few chocolate chips, if you like. Microwave each separately for 1-2 minutes, until top stops rising and bubbles burst leaving open holes. If you’re making a mug cake, microwave it on high for 2-3 minutes until done (you might want to put it on a plate in case of overflow!). Serve with ice cream, or mix up a dab of chocolate buttercream (butter, milk, powdered sugar). You can also double the recipe and nuke in a bowl, then split (or tort, if you prefer) the cake and ice in two layers with frosting. Dangerously good. Now you might hate me…

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(I had wanted to take a photo of 3 uneaten cakes, but someone got to one before the camera did)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

From the Kitchen: Helga Bread (or, Knockoff Olga Bread)

In high school, I had a lengthy walk to the bus stop after class until my older sister got her driver’s license. We’d walk together through downtown Ann Arbor, occasionally browsing the cheap college town thrift stores (one of my lifelong passions, apparently). And, when the day was just right, we might stop in at Olga’s Kitchen and get an order of Olga Bread to share. Mmmmm… Olga Bread.

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From the Olga’s website:

It all started back in 1970 when Olga Loizon opened her first restaurant in Birmingham, Michigan. It was there that she began selling the Original Olga® sandwich – a mouth-watering combination of beef and lamb topped with onions, tomatoes, and tangy Olgasauce all wrapped in her secret recipe Olga Bread.

Olga Bread… mildly sweet, soft, chewy and substantial. Not like pita bread. Not at all airy or dry, impossible very difficult to fold, and uncrackable when you do finally manage to roll it up. And delicious. Did I mention that it’s delicious?

I introduced my husband to Olga’s recently, and we agreed that it’s proximity to the kids’ play area in the mall is dangerous on days that are unpleasant to be outside. Like hot, humid, buggy days. Days when your air conditioner isn’t working very well. Days you don’t want to cook in your own house. Well, needless to say, it’s a tempting habit. But then it occurred to me to look for a knockoff recipe. Lo and behold, food.com had the answer. After reconsidering the directions to accommodate my schedule and lazy cooking habits, I can share a mouthwatering recipe with you. I am naming it Helga Bread, since it’s the less popular younger sister of Olga Bread… you know, the one that might not be as pretty but is just as sweet inside and is probably much more available to watch the kids if you need a babysitter in a pinch. And she goes well with grilled chicken, colby jack cheese, tomatoes, onions and Greek yogurt too. And probably won’t give you heartburn later.

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Helga Bread

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cup scalded milk

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup butter

1 egg

1 tsp salt

2 tsp active dry yeast

4 cups bread flour

Directions:

If you have a bread machine, use the dough cycle following its instructions for order of adding wet and dry ingredients.

Otherwise, in a large mixer bowl, combine milk, honey, butter and egg until butter is melted and egg is thoroughly mixed. Make sure it is not too hot (should feel like bathwater to the touch). Mix salt and yeast with flour and then add it, 1 cup at a time, to the wet mixture and knead until it cleans the sides of the bowl. Oil top of dough and flip to oil bottom as well. Cover oiled bowl and allow to double in bulk.

Divide dough into 16 pieces (or just pinch off plum-sized bits), and roll each piece out into a rough circle with a diameter of about 8-10 inches. Heat a dry skillet to medium high. Place one piece onto hot skillet and cook for 15-30 seconds. Flip and cook an additional 10-20 seconds. Remove from skillet and repeat with other rounds. Enjoy warm or cooled! They will also freeze well in an airtight bag or container.

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