07 May 2015

"Tina Givens" "Drennon Tunic" Review

Tina Givens Drennon Tunic is an open side, slit to waist, knee length (on me) tunic covering.  The pattern is free from her website, and is a more streamlined introduction to her patterns (compared to some of the other reviews I've seen).

It would be great for a pool coverup as well.

This is my "toe in the water" dip for the looser fit/lagenlook style that is gaining popularity.  It was made from an old white cotton sateen sheet, dyed with fiber reactive dyes from Dharma Trading Company.

 I think I need to lose another 2" in length in the back so it will hang properly.

I made a small, which fits up to a 44" bust.  I'm generally around 36" give or take.

What adjustments did you make?  And why?
The usual – sway back.  Being that this is such a loose fit item, I did not fiddle with any other adjustments.  In the future I would make a much greater swayback adjustment.

The unusual - 
1)  I did add an inch to the skirt length when cutting.

2)  Sliced off a triangular section of hem at each bodice side. 
The biggest problem I had with the pattern was with the side seam of the bodice and where it meets the waistband.  It was really puckering and sloppy as originally sewn to pattern.

So I unpicked, tried it on, and pinned the pieces where I thought they should go to hang properly (see photo below).  Then I used a fabric marker to indicate the new seam line on the bodice pieces, and transferred that to the pattern.

In the end, I sliced off the pieces that make the bodice so unique and unusual in the flat pattern.  And it fit much better.

Pattern appreciation(s)?
It is free, and a fairly quick sew.  I spent more time making and sewing binding than I did on any other part of this tunic.  (And her binding length recommendation is generous, especially for size small.  If you are short a bit of fabric for the binding, don't sweat it too much.)

Pattern disgruntlement(s)?
You have to use your imagination with the line drawings, and be ready and willing to change it up.  I think this is a fairly well known "issue" with Tina Givens designs.  These are not for by the book sewists who have to follow the directions as written and never stray.

As depicted in the drawing, the tunic laps back over front - which I found to be rather unflattering.  So I switched the lapping to front over back, which controls the loose flipping of the back bodice on my bodyshape/style.  Much better.

What body does this pattern fit (in your estimation)?
This is a little harder to answer.  Himself said the pictures make me look shorter and wider than I really am. 

I think the skirt needs to be either shorter or longer for me.  Especially as worn with an A-line skirt that causes additional width at the knee area.

Would you buy this pattern again?
I'm not sure.  My wardrobe is in flux at the moment.  Depending on the direction I take with it, I can see either several more Drennon's in my future, or none.

I believe we should all step out of our comfort zone from time to time, and this is one of those patterns for me.  It could lead to some interesting results!

06 May 2015

Seborrheic Dermatitis Update 3 - Autoimmune Protocol

I have had highs (practically clear) and lows (how many flares must one person survive?) since last update.

I started using a honey mask before bed, guessing that "maybe" the anti-fungal properties of the honey would get rid of the last of my issues.  And I was looking so good, that I started adding food back in following Paleo Mom's book and website.


And then I had a mega-flare.  So I may have problems with the following foods:
tomatoes (fresh, cooked may not be a problem) (ugh!)
soybeans (I can adapt)
cinnamon (ugh!)
sugar (ugh!)

And this is how my face typically looks.  A bit of breakout "flare" response, little redness.  People still tell me I have beautiful skin ... and I just ... die ... every ... time!  THIS IS NOT BEAUTIFUL. 

Okay, okay.  I should not take out anger on ALL my skin, when just a bit of it is ugly.  Perhaps.

I have started using Stonybrook Botanicals Unscented Hand & Body Lotion on the SD areas rather than my oils from winter.  I got a bit crazy with the oil usage, and I believe that led to one of my mega-flares.

As to food, I'm still cooking more than grabbing for the processed foods.  But it will be an easy road to trip back to bad habits.  So I make a strong attempt NOT to buy what I do not want to be eating.  And my weekly cart is still filled with as much produce as processed foods, and most of it is for Himself.

I continue playing around with topicals and food combos in my journey to turn this off.  

I went lotion free for a while, but that led to as many issues with dry skin as too much oil.  So, lotion as needed.

I have ordered some sulfur ... maybe I also have a micro-nutrient deficiency?

The saga continues ...

Closing on a positive note, my sun sensitivity does not seem nearly as bad this year.  Did I fix that immune issue?

15 April 2015

"Choosing Raw" by Gena Hamshaw Cookbook Review

Gena Hamshaw's "Choosing Raw"

Is there an index?
Yes, by components and ingredients.

Is there a Contents/Chapter section?
There's a LOT of non-recipe pages in this cookbook.  She has a huge beginner/how-to section.

What is the “Beginner’s Intro” volume?
94 pages, or 34% of the book is the introduction, including a Q&A section.

To her credit, I did find the 21 day meal plans, starting on page 83, interesting.  For those people who are organized enough to create (or desire to start creating) and follow such, this gets you off to the right start.

What is the presentation like?
Many recipes have full page+ color photographs.  Only a few recipes cross to the next page, which indicates some careful editing.

Comments -
She does have 4 recipes listed under winter squash, but only one could be raw.

And I would guess that half the recipes have nuts or seeds as an ingredient, so it seems as (or no more) nut heavy as any other of the titles I've explored.

Ultimately, this is a transition to and learning how to cook vegetarian/vegan and incorporate raw food.  If you have other cookbooks, especially with any vegetable centric leanings, you already have many of these recipes.

If your library were wiped out tomorrow, would this make your cannot live without immediate re-buy list?
As my goal is a completely raw cookbook, I will not be purchasing this title.  

However, if you are just starting out, and have no cookbooks, this is a starter option.

Recipes -
Raw Carrot Falafel, pg 188

Falafel is not extraordinarily tasty, and neither are these.  But they make a great addition to salad and a bit of tahini drizzled on top turns this into a flavorful and texture-ful meal.

They are easy to shape and keep in the fridge.  

Himself commented that the falafel is not to his taste and not crunchy.  Which I interpret as, "This is not a potato chip."  

Rosemary Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes, pg 198

Except for the fact that I ate this on a chilly day, and would have preferred more warmth in my mouth, I loved this recipe.  

She includes some ingredients that I rarely see in Cauly mashed recipes.  And these give the dish a creamy, more flavorful experience than is typical.

I will keep this in rotation.  I think the miniature humans in my life would like it also.  Maybe I need to test it?

Raw Vegan Blueberry Ginger Ice Cream, pg 240

A banana based ice cream, I was short a banana and chowing down before realizing I'd mishalved the recipe.

However, I do find the halved banana recipe a bit, um, banana-y.  It would be a great dessert for those who love banana flavor.  For me, it is OK.  

11 March 2015

Butterick 5928 Peplum Jacket Pattern Review

The peplum trend finally caught up with me, several years post its most recent reveal.

There's just something about the lines in Butterick 5928 that called to me, rather loudly.

I was drawn to the soft collar folds and swooshy back peplum, on a jacket that was fairly short in front (a good length for me).  I hemmed and hawed, and finally caved at the last Butterick sale I ran into.

I tossed the long sleeves on the peplum body, as I generally do not wear vests and would reach for a jacket instead.


What adjustments did you make?  And why?
The usual – sway back, drop waistline, drop bust apex, shorten sleeves, shallow chest adjustment, narrow shoulders.  I used a size 12 upper front bodice and size 14 elsewhere.

The unusual - Added a hem band (to bring up lining and weigh down the hem), added additional back shaping to conform to sway back, and narrowed the peplum by 9" total.

Upon muslining, I realized the peplum back was seriously floofy for me, so I pinned out 9 inches total.  Much better.

Fashion fabric is a toned Cadet Blue plain woven wool purchased 10+ years ago from a since closed fabric shop in Humble, TX.  It is nicely aged.  Lined in a burgundy with teal accent tie silk (I really do not like working with shreddy silk, ick.

I have more hand sewing in this jacket than in any other apparel sewing project EVER - hem band, sleeve hem, neck dart, and collar are all catch stitched to hold them in place for washing.  

All in all, the hand sewing was not as dreadful as I remember.

This turned out to be a good test run for the tailored jacket I have planned Butterick 4610 ... assuming I can ever get that danged armscye shaping properly adjusted.

Once I have everything all together and have sewn  the lining slit closed, I try it on and realize I've folded the pleats to the wrong side.  Ugh - this is what happens when you sew late.  Open it back up, rip out the stitching and fight it into the proper position - very difficult to do now that everything is sewn together.  Next time, I'll just draw the proper direction directly on the interfacing. 

And it is done.  My goal was to have a fun jacket.  Mission accomplished.

Pattern appreciation(s)?
Everything lined up fairly easily.  It is a straightforward design.

Pattern disgruntlement(s)?
I still despise Butterick's symmetrical armhole and sleeve cap.  Who is shaped that way?

I do not understand why you would want the lining to go to the hem.  In my experience, you end up with lining peaking out, not an attractive visual.  So, I added a band myself.

What body does this pattern fit (in your estimation)?
Pear shapes and anyone wanting to create shaping for the upper body.

Would you buy this pattern again?
Being a standout design, and not particularly in my daily wheelhouse, I may not make this again.  But if I needed another, yes, I would rebuy the pattern.

26 February 2015

Diet Checkup, Seborrheic Dermatitis Update, and Leaky Gut

I continue to eat following the Autoimmune Protocol Diet laid out by Sarah Ballantyne, http://www.thepaleomom.com/ in her book "The Paleo Approach" http://victorybelt.com/the-paleo-approach-reverse-autoimmune-disease-heal-your-body/ (however, I continue to sprout and eat quinoa, buckwheat, and amaranth for my vegetarian diet).  My skin "seems" to be improving on this diet, and perhaps I am addressing any leaky gut issues I may have.

I have not changed my diet from month 1, except that when I added nuts back in, I also added in cashews (which I was not supposed to do ... oops ... did not pay enough attention to that printout).  Sarah has linked her reintroduction process at her website http://www.thepaleomom.com/2015/02/reintroduction-quick-start-guide-new-free-download.html.

And how is the skin?
This is my two month photo.  I believe my skin is looking better.  I notice little of the tingling or pain following yawning that characterized my facial skin life from November 2014 through some of January.  I still have a fairly active patch along my left jaw line, and experience minor flare-ups at the nasolabial folds and right jaw line. 

Treatment Regime
I lightly scrub my dermatitis with salt each night, followed by a light application of coal tar, Alva-Amco's Psoriasin http://www.alva-amco.com/products/psoriasin

I use heavy duty moisturizer around and beneath my nose as that skin tends to get very dry.  I have two tins in constant use: Badger Balm's "Sensitive Skin Moisturizer Unscented" http://www.badgerbalm.com/p-369-badger-balm-unscented.aspx or Out of Africa's "100% Pure Unrefined Shea Butter Unscented" http://www.outofafricashea.com/products/organic/tin3.html.

Following a bath and before bed, I apply a light moisturizer to my face.  I'm currently using Logona Naturcosmetik "Moisture Cream Logona Free" http://www.logocos.us/logona/shop/product/1153-moisture-cream-logona-free.  It is expensive to me at $28 per 1.7 oz tube, 2.5x what almond oil costs.  However, my first tube has lasted over 3 months.  I do not need much per application.

Autoimmune Disease and Seborrheic Dermatitis

Seborrheic Dermatitis is often listed as an inflammatory condition, but few health care providers refer to it as an autoimmune disease.  But it is often linked to an improperly functioning autoimmune system.   Therefore, what is it? 

Eh, doctor's cannot say.  They do not know what causes it, how it develops, or what stops it.  There's not a lot of medical research into Seborrheic Dermatitis.  Which is kind of interesting, considering that several sites mention it affects 3% of the population (to compare, Healthline.com reports that 1% of the population is hospitalized yearly for heart disease). 

Diet Changes and Rx
Doctors hesitate to recommend/prescribe diet changes.  1st, they do not have much basis in nutrition.  2nd, patients generally don't listen anyway and doctors feel it is a waste of their time.

And 3rd, doctors do not make much money recommending dietary changes.  It is not a pill they can prescribe or blood numbers one can monitor.

In short, I've never had much to discuss with any medical professional when disease and diet are combined in a discussion.  

How "Leaky Gut"causes problems, Autoimmune Disease, and Treatment
What is the basic understanding of leaky gut?

Background -
Your immune system responds to proteins.  Exposure to foreign/unrecognized proteins kicks off the immune response - whether this be allergies, bacterial infection, or viral invasion.  

Your immune system congregates in areas where the outside environment meets the inside - head, neck, groin ... and digestive system.

Foods kick off immune response - 
The endothelial layer (digestive lining) is damaged (assumed to be due to modern life - stress and processed food stuffs) and allows partially undigested particles of food to cross into the bloodstream when it normally would not. 

Some of those partially undigested food particles are protein, which is recognized by the immune system as "foreign."

That protein exposure causes the immune system to kick into overdrive, which begins a vicious cycle - autoimmune disease.

How the AutoImmune Protocol addresses Autoimmune Diseases -
Reverse the leaky gut by eating soothing foods that allow the endothelial layer to heal, which arrests the autoimmune response by halting its exposure to partially digested protein particles.

Once the gut has healed, previously troublesome food can be reintroduced.

My Journey Continues
Am I seeing improvement?  Yes.

Am I healed?  Not yet.

I do not consider myself in remission, so I hesitate to add foods into my diet that might prolong my diseased state.

And yet, I miss many foods: lentils, kidney beans, chickpeas (I found an awesome chickpea cookie recipe just before this diet kicked off), corn (mostly tortilla chips, a processed food), tomatoes, and peppers.  I do not miss potato chips much, good thing I love sweet potatoes.  Taro chips are also an awesome potato chip substitute!

24 February 2015

"Live Raw" by Mimi Kirk Cookbook Review

Mimi Kirk's "Live Raw"

Is there an index?
Yes, 2 pages of mostly recipe titles, not the ingredients index I prefer.  However, the recipes are well titled (straightforward) to indicate major ingredients.

Is there a Contents/Chapter section?
Yes, 4 excellent pages.

What is the “Beginner’s Intro” volume?
Comprises 27% of the book, including some preachy bits.  Yikes, I'd rather have more recipes.

But, there are 165 pages of recipes.

What is the presentation like?
There is not a great deal of empty space in this book, notetaking will be restricted. On the other hand, the space is taken up with a bunch of recipes, none of this "each recipe gets 2 or 3 pages."  Indeed, such as with the smoothie section, she may have 2 or 3 recipes per page.

The recipes are presented on one of two colored and textured pages: light green or yellow.  This is fairly easy on my eyes.

Mimi Kirk includes rather delectable photographs of at least 1/3 of the recipes ... she does not highlight each smoothie recipe with a photo, but all the entree recipes are represented.  A good mix of knowing the audience and what we want to see, in my opinion.

If your library were wiped out tomorrow, would this make your cannot live without immediate re-buy list?
Maybe, I want to compare it to her International title, and will probably buy one or the other.

Comments -
I suppose this is the first raw cookbook I can see myself buying; I do think it is a bit preachy in the beginning, but 3 out of 3 recipes has us off to a good start.

Recipes -
Mango Smoothie pg 71
Oh, this was a good smoothie; a bright olived lime green.  I thoroughly enjoyed it, even with the sweetener I did not add.  :)  I have a green themed party coming up, and I can see serving this as the "opener."

Ms. Kirk has a couple unusual additions to the smoothie recipe than what I typically see, and this makes me want to try out more of her offerings.

I will add this into regular rotation.  Yum.

Upscale Kale Salad and Dressing pg 131
Besides cutting the oil and sugar by more than half, I made this according to the book. It is a citrus delight, and we made use of home grown greens.  There's an interesting combination of dried and fresh fruit, as well as a sprinkling of nuts.

The ingredient combo was delicious and enjoyed by both family members.

Himself said, "I like it.  Put it on the re-make list."  He is very salad and dressing picky, preferring balsamic vinegar usually.  This is quite the recommendation. 

Banana Pudding pg 207
Tasty and good, I made half a recipe for dessert and find this a more acceptable "regular" dessert than the highly over-the-top desserts I've seen in other cookbooks ... not that she is deficient in this realm (Mike's Birthday BRAWnie on page 218 looks sinful), just that variety is offered.

I did cut down the sweetener by half.

Conclusion - 
Yes, it is in my Amazon cart.  I'm not ready to buy just yet, because I want to check out two other titles: "Live Raw Around the World" by Mimi Kirk and "Raw & Simple" by Judita Wignall.  Both were requested from the library, and I'm simply playing the waiting game until they arrive from far flung parts of the US.

18 February 2015

"Everyday RAW Express" by Matthew Kenney Cookbook Review

Matthew Kenney's "Everyday Raw Express Recipes in 30 Minutes or Less"

Is there an Index?
Yes.  But recipes are not listed, only components.

Is there a contents/chapters section?
Yes.  The chapter titles are clearly delineated.

What is the “Beginner’s Intro” volume?
Consists of 2% volume.  There is a 3 page (with one photo) "How to use this book and our recipes" section.  Definitely NOT a beginner's book, which I encourage.

What is the presentation like?
Most of the recipes have appealing photographs.

The recipes are consistently presented on a white background, with plenty of room for note-taking (important as my own cookbooks develop an interesting splatter and pen/pencil patina with time).

Each chapter is titled by its own colorful page.

If your library were wiped out tomorrow, would this make your cannot live without immediate re-buy list?
No.  It does not fit an everyday need, only irregular.

Comments -
I thought this one, like Wignall's "Going Raw," was approaching what I seek.  But the restauranteur within the author is glaringly obvious in many of the included recipes.  For me, this is high-falutin' raw food for rare occasions, as it is not flavorful, homey, ethnic (which is my preference).

I found Kenney's acknowledgments section describing Meredith Baird as a primary driver of "Everyday Raw Express" interesting.  I am left to wonder, should the author on the title page be Meredith Baird, rather than Matthew Kenney?

Additionally, a comment from the "Introduction," along the lines of we will help you incorporate more gourmet food in your diet is very descriptive of the contents.  These are not warm, cheery, comfort foods.  You do not find yourself dreaming of leftovers with this collection. 

This is, in fact, the book you pull out to impress guests with marvelous presentation.  A way to begin your meal with a feast for the eyes.

Recipes -

Red Beet Sangria (page 20)
Admittedly, I do not like beets.  It does not matter how recently they were pulled from the ground, or how tenderly Grandma massaged them for Thanksgiving dinner.  I do not like beets.  I know this is due to the geosmin content within, and I look forward to varieties that contain all the nutrients of our current beets but without the geosmin concentration (but I do not want them GMOed)!

As to Red Beet Sangria, I like the citrusy punch the oranges give the beet juice.  If you like beets, and the other contents of this recipe, I expect you will love this sangria.

I will finish my half recipe over the next couple days, i.e I will drink it dagnabit.  But it will likely never be remade in my household.  I do look forward to how the apple chunks change while absorbing the flavor and color of the liquid.  But that is more in the line of scientific, rather than gastronomic, inquiry.

Wild Mushroom Lasagna, Butternut Squash, Wilted Spinach (page 116)
This is the type of recipe I am seeking.  A couple components: squash, nut/seed cheez, marinated mushrooms, and marinated spinach.  There is no way I could get this recipe ready in 30 minutes or less (as per the subtitle), but it was worth the time investment.  Tasty blend of flavors.  However, this would not be a meal.  I made myself two stacks, but could only eat 1.5 of them.  It can be too much and may be best as an appetizer.  A half recipe left me with days of leftovers.

Kelp Udon, Mushroom Broth, Cabbage, Shiitakes (page 102)
As the family holds mushroom appreciation next to godliness, I figured this recipe was a shoo-in.  Instead I found it somewhat sickeningly sweet, offering little in the way of interesting flavors.  Confession, I ate half my serving and placed everything that remains in the compost.  (Shudder)

Himself - 
The SO's comment on the fare, "Do not take this the wrong way, these are good, but they are not very filling."

However, he used the last of the nut/seed cheez from the "Wild Mushroom Lasagna, Butternut Squash, Wilted Spinach" recipe on crackers and requested more.

Conclusion - 
Back to the library it goes.