7th time’s the … oh, who am I kidding

Oy, it has been a long while, but that’s because I have been diligently working on drafting a jeans pattern. After about the 7th try (I am not exaggerating), I thought, “Eureka! I’ve got my master jeans pattern!” but alas, that thought was premature. This attempt is closer than the others, but the jeans are still too big. In fact, I can pull them off without unbuttoning or unzipping them.

Fit has always been my nemesis. With jeans, my struggle has always been to find jeans that don’t gape at the waist. I have big legs, so jeans are usually snug in the legs and huge in the waist (I don’t have a petite waist, but apparently it is not as disproportionately sized as my legs). My goal with patternmaking classes was to be able to make things that actually fit me. I am slowly working my way toward that goal, but my severe lack of spatial skills provides many obstacles.

You know what has been great, though, is that I have not been all that discouraged or frustrated. Most people could probably get a custom pattern right on the first or second try. Me? I might never get it right, but I am actually enjoying the process. I never thought I could actually like something I am not good at (I am asian, after all), but I was wrong!

Okay, so I bought more denim, and I am going to try again, AND I have to make my mother a pair, too. Oy.

Posted in sewing | 18 Comments


I am of the belief that you can never have too many ginger cookie recipes, so when I saw this recipe in our local newspaper, I decided to give it a go. The recipe is from the Nines Hotel in downtown Portland, OR. The hotel itself is, in my opinion, not very Portland, but they do have pretty incredible desserts.

These cookies are keepers. When I first made them, I felt a little ambivalent, since you have to roll out the cookie dough. I am lazy, so I do prefer the scoop-and-plop method. Rolling out dough is so involved, then flour gets all over the place, and you have so many more utensils and such to wash. But, it is worth it for these cookies! They are chewy and soft and very, very spicy. Some tasters aren’t huge icing fans (I know, why am I friends with them? I ask myself that all the time), so they preferred the drizzled ones. Me, I am all about the icing from edge to edge.

You can find the recipe here. Please note that they are total spreaders, so leave lots of space between the dough if you don’t want them to run together.

Posted in baking | Tagged , | 4 Comments

muffins in disguise

Whenever I bake a cake, I seem to have leftover buttermilk and other ingredients that end up going to waste. I wondered if there might be some sort of sweet treat that would require exactly the amounts of my leftover ingredients. I turned to The Google and typed in the ingredients, and voila! The perfect recipe appeared! Clementine Buttermilk Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting! I even had cream cheese frosting in the freezer (that stuff freezes beautifully).

I didn’t add the clementine zest. I don’t even know where to buy clementines. But anyway, these guys are pretty tasty, but they have more of a muffin texture than a cupcake one. All that means for someone like me is that they are appropriate for breakfast as well as dessert.

Posted in baking | 7 Comments

stretch pants

You know how sometimes something seems like a good idea, then later you wonder, what was I thinking? Well, these stretch pants are kind of like that. You see, I have this pair of Patagonia elastic-waistband, stretchy rain pants that I love, and then I saw Yoshimi’s stretch pants, so I thought, cool! I am making those pants! The thing is, everything looks good on cute Yoshimi and her long legs, so it is not a good gauge, especially not for those with short, big legs.

But anyway, the pattern is Black Spinel from Tamanegi-Kobo. Let me reiterate once more how much I love (and therefore you should, too) Tamanegi-Kobo. It’s a Japanese company, but the English-language instructions for how to purchase the PDF patterns are very straightforward. The sewing instructions are in Japanese, but there are diagrams so you can figure out what to do. Several of the patterns, including my favorite T-shirt Fujiko, now come with English-language instructions! For realz!!

Okay, so I got some stretch twill from Denver Fabrics. For the waist I used the size 38 then expanded to a size 40 for the legs. You’ll notice that the knee has darts. I had to shorten the quad section so the knee darts would actually be pointing toward my knee, and I also shortened the lower leg piece but several inches (I have short legs!). I also widened the front leg pattern pieces by 1/2″ (I cut the pattern in half and added a strip of paper) to accommodate my big legs. Everything came together pretty well.

So, the pants are quite comfy (stretch twill is awesome! Why didn’t I know this before?), but I think they are a little big in the waist and butt, and this, in combo with the elastic waistband, makes them look like diaper pants. I can wear tunics with the stretch pants, though, so there you go.

Peter’s comments: first, when I walked into the room wearing them, he laughed. Pretty hard. Then he made some remarks about “you look like you should be on stage” followed by comments about “Elizabethan costumes” and such.

Posted in sewing | Tagged , , , , | 12 Comments

hario ceramic slim

hario ceramic slim, originally uploaded by super eggplant.

I am not overly obsessive about my coffee, but I do have a thing for coffee gadgets. I have a small collection of coffee-related items, including the Aero Press, the Clever Coffee Dripper, one of those toddy things, and so on.

I also have a burr grinder that I love, but ever since I saw these Hario Ceramic Slim Coffee Grinders, well, I’ve been wanting one. I didn’t really have a good reason to purchase one, though, until now–this summer we’re going to go sailing in the San Juans, and of course we will need freshly ground coffee. I am in charge of provisions, and the Ceramic Slim was our first official purchase. So, I may be throwing up over the side of the boat, but at least I, or my companions, will have good coffee.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

lemon bars

lemon bars, originally uploaded by super eggplant.

Who doesn’t love a good lemon bar? I have tried many a lemon bar recipe, and most of them have been just fine. Yesterday I was browsing through my copy of Emily Luchetti’s Classic Stars Desserts and found another lemon bar (Lemon Squares, to be exact) recipe to try.

I confess I had my doubts, only because the recipe has just a few ingredients, and I could not understand what would make these superior to other lemon bar recipes. Well, I am now a believer. These lemon bars are tangy and tart with a thin crunchy top layer and a melt-in-your-mouth crumbly crust.

LEMON SQUARES by Emily Luchetti

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
12 tablespoons (1.5 sticks) cold, unsalted butter, cut into little chunks

6 large eggs
3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 5 lemons. I only bought 2 lemons, so I had to supplement my juice with Realemon)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 325F.

Combine the flour & powdered sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on low speed until blended. Add the butter chunks and mix until the butter is the size of small peas, about 30 seconds. It will be a very dry mixture. (My chunks didn’t get quite pea-sized, so I rubbed the butter in a bit with my fingers until I got the consistency I wanted). Dump the mixture into a 9×13 pan and gently press onto the bottom. Bake about 20-25 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Remove and let cool to room temp. REDUCE THE OVEN TEMP TO 300F.

For the filling, whisk together the eggs and granulated sugar in a large bowl until smooth. Stir in the lemon juice. Add the flour. Pour the filling on top of the crust. Bake until lemon filling is set, about 40 minutes (I baked mine for about 44 minutes, and the filling was still underbaked. So, the end result of mine was super gooey, messy lemon bars, but they still taste good, and I figure it’s better than overbaked lemon filling). Remove and let cool to room temp. You can put them in the fridge for an hour after cooling, or you can just keep it at room temp for another couple of hours. Cut into squares and EAT. Keep leftovers in the fridge.

Posted in baking | 10 Comments

strawberry season

strawberry nails, originally uploaded by super eggplant.

I have a robust love for strawberry designs, so when I saw these nails at the I Love Nail Polish blog, I decided to give it a go.

I keep my nails very short, and my nail beds aren’t particularly large (as opposed to my mother, who has freakishly long nail beds), so there wasn’t a lot of area to work with, but I just went for it. I had to supplement my rather small nail polish collection with the green and the white. The white is the Sally Hansen nail art pen, which is a brilliant concept, but I found that the white dots/seeds rubbed off. Peter (yes, Peter) suggested I use a top coat, so I had to go get top coat. Sometimes it’s a lot of work being a lady, yo.

Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments


bundt, originally uploaded by super eggplant.

I came up with a new job idea: bundt pan cleaner. You can go from house to house and charge $5 per bundt pan. I think it is a winner of an idea, because I would certainly pay someone $5 to clean and wash a bundt pan.

I had some leftover buttermilk in the fridge, so I dug through my recipes and found this one from Joy the Baker. It has buttermilk and coffee and a pretty serious glaze (I don’t believe in cakes that don’t have frosting or icing or serious glaze), so I was all over it.

It is good. I recommend it. Some comments:
– I buttered the living daylights out of the bundt pan. I have had past issues with bundt pan stickage, and I did not want to repeat that
– Use a LARGE bowl for mixing the glaze. The bowl I used was not quite large enough, and as a result I had powdered sugar and coffee flying all over the kitchen

Posted in Uncategorized | 14 Comments

still here, sort of, and another T-shirt!

I decided it was high time I finally made something with this nani iro knit fabric I got in Japan several years ago. I bought it in Nagasaki at a great fabric store that Jan took my mother and me to. It is that yummy double layer knit stuff that I love so much. I guess I held off on using it because I wanted to find the perfect pattern and/or I didn’t want to mess it up. I guess I finally came to my senses and realized that hey, I usually just wear T-shirts, so why not get on with it.

I used the Fujiko pattern from Tamanegi Kobo, which I adore. The store makes it very easy for English-language speakers to purchase patterns, and you just print out the pieces and tape them together.

Spring is coming, supposedly, so I am hoping to get my sewing groove on and finally dig into some Liberty Fabric that I have been stashing. I think recent international events have convinced me that there is no point in procrastinating!

Posted in sewing | 6 Comments


That Arawa mentioned these Oreo-stuffed chocolate chip cookies to me, and of course I could not concentrate on anything else until I made them. I am a fan of stuffed cookies (see these peanut butter cookies stuffed with mini Snickers here), and well, unstuffed cookies as well.

Instead of Oreos I used the Trader Joe’s Joe-Joe cookies. These cookies are pretty delicious, and I think the recipe is open to a lot of variation. You can stuff them with different types of cookies. Can you imagine stuffing them with chocolate-covered Oreos? Holy moly.

You can find the recipe for the cookies here.

Posted in Uncategorized | 13 Comments