Sunday, January 6, 2019

Bucilla Christmas Stocking (In the Workshop)

One of my goals for 2018 was to complete a Bucilla stocking for my sister in law. The Bucilla kits are part of a family tradition reaching back to my great grandmother's generation. I have a Bucilla stocking that my mom made for me when I was a toddler (can you believe it's held up after all these years?). I've continued the tradition by completing the Airplane Santa stocking kit and matching ornament for a friend (who is a pilot) and the Christmas Drive stocking kit for my nephew. Upon completion of my sister in law's stocking, everyone in the family would have a handmade Bucilla stocking.

In August, I started the In the Workshop stocking kit. I picked this kit for my sister in law because, as a new mom, I know she's working hard behind the scenes to make Christmas magical for her little one (just like Santa!). She won't use this stocking every year--she has a khaki/beige color scheme for her Christmas decorations and this stocking clearly isn't in conformity with that scheme--so it's just for the years that they celebrate Christmas with our side of the family at one of our houses.

Bucilla stockings are made of felt and decorated with embroidered, sequined and beaded appliques. Building up the details that make these stockings so delightful takes time and patience (and a good pair of sharp, detail scissors). I usually work on just one or two pieces per session, which explains why this stocking took five months to complete!

Here's a look at the early stages of the process:

The stocking is comprised of more than a hundred felt appliques,
each of which you must cut out from sheets of colored felt.
Here's a process picture:

And here are some of my favorite details:

I used Fray Check to give the red bows structure.
A wee gingerbread house.

To give the paintbrush in Santa's hand some rigidity, I cut a piece of a straw into a small plastic stick, which was sewn into the handle of the brush. There must be a better approach to this, but a straw was what I had on hand.

Here is a look at the finished stocking:

I'm happy with how this turned out, but wish that Bucilla had used a different color palette for the rocking horse and ball at the toe of the stocking.

If Bucilla stockings are a part of your holiday traditions, but you don't have the time, patience or experience with needlework to make additional stockings for new members of your family, check out Etsy. There are more than a couple Etsy shops offering made-to-order Bucilla stockings (and at a price that's a steal given the time it takes to make one of these stockings).

Friday, January 4, 2019

New Entree Recipes (Part 3)

In December, I finished my 2018 goal to try 12 new entree recipes. (I set this goal because without it the only new recipes I try are desserts!) See Part 1 (new recipes 1-4) here. See Part 2 (new recipes 5-8) here. Recipes 9-12 are as follows:

9. Skillet Pizza

I've tried making pizza from scratch at home countless times, but have always been disappointed by a soggy crust.

America's Test Kitchen came to my rescue with this recipe for Skillet Pizza. The secret is coating your small skillet with two tablespoons of olive oil (before adding the dough) and then heating the skillet on the range before popping it in the oven. While heating on the range, the oil will fry the bottom of the dough, creating a crispy crust. Success!

This recipe can be found in America's Test Kitchen's Complete Cooking for Two Cookbook.

10. Honey Garlic Chicken Thighs

I don't like to fry at home because of the mess it makes, but this recipe for honey garlic chicken thighs was too appetizing to pass up. Better than takeout!

This recipe can be found on Dessert for Two's blog (despite the name, she posts savory recipes).

11. Mushroom-Miso Soup with Shrimp and Udon

This recipe calls for shiitake mushrooms, which HEB doesn't stock, but I was able to track down all of the other ingredients here in Central Texas. The finished product was a huge hit in our household and reminded me of the time I spent living in Tokyo.

This recipe can be found in America's Test Kitchen's Complete Cooking for Two Cookbook.

12. Shrimp and Sausage Gumbo

This was my first attempt at gumbo and, although this was tasty (even better as leftovers), I did not hit it out of the park. The roux may have been overcooked.

This recipe can be found in America's Test Kitchen's Complete Cooking for Two Cookbook.

Looking forward to 2019, I'll continue to try a new recipe at least once a month. The process has pushed me towards previously unexplored corners of my grocery store (i.e., new ingredients) and introduced me to new favorites (e.g., I make make a skillet pizza for Friday dinner at least once a month). I've also been able to pick up some new cooking techniques along the way.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Peloton: 100 Rides In

Back in September, I wrote a disorganized post about working out more regularly post-law firm life. In short, I bought a Peloton that was delivered on August 4th and was riding a wave of beta endorphins of the likes of which I had not experienced in years. I was stoked to be well enough to hop on the Peloton for a 45-minute class, surprised to see improvement from week to week, and grateful for how wonderful it all made me feel on and off the bike.

A few months later, I'm still amped. Just before Christmas, I finished my 100th Peloton cycling class, which amounted to an aggregate 1,314.52 miles cycled over 4,506 minutes since my bike was delivered. This is a triumph considering my 2018 fitness goal was to work out 50 times (and, let's be real, it sure felt like a stretch goal at the time).

My fitness goals for 2019 including finishing my 350th cycling class by the end of the year and adding yoga and strength workouts (which are included in the Peloton subscription). Onward!