Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Martha & Me - April

This month, I tried two new things from Martha Stewart Living magazine. I'm having a lot of fun with this challenge! I haven't loved everything I've tried so far, but this month I tried both a recipe and a crafty project and enjoyed them both a lot. I cheated a little, in that the ideas I tried were from different issues of the magazine (the recipe is in April's issue, the project is in March's issue; I started in March but it took me a little while to finish).


The recipe I tried is Asparagus and Watercress Pizza. It's in the April issue of the magazine, and can also be found at the link I've added here. This pizza was fantastic! It was easy to make, delicious and quite healthy. The children didn't enjoy it as much as the Bear and I did (we had a feeling they wouldn't, so we made an additional, plainer pizza for them), but oh, did we enjoy it!


There aren't many ingredients in the recipe. Prepared pizza dough is suggested, which is fine by me. To start, asparagus and onion are tossed with oil, salt and pepper and set aside while you work with the dough. (I loved the way the vegetables looked together. Purple with green is among my favorite combinations. Artichokes bear one of nature's best color palettes, I think.)


I substituted baby spinach for watercress, simply because I couldn't find watercress in the stores! That was disappointing, but we love spinach so it wasn't a big deal.



We make a lot of pizza around here. It's just so easy and good. You can put anything on a pizza. This is my first pizza with this particular combination of toppings, though. It's always nice to try something new. The Bear is our resident dough-roller-outer and I do the toppings. A rectangular shape was suggested, along with baking in an oil-coated pan. We really like our round pizza stone, so we did it our way instead, on a beautiful Sunday afternoon with the doors open and Paul Simon on the stereo.



The cheeses browned beautifully in the oven and it all smelled wonderful! The greens are scattered on top of the pizza as soon as it comes out of the oven, so they can wilt in the residual heat. Coarse salt and red chili flakes are sprinkled over the greens. It looked so fresh and clean.



This pizza was absolutely delicious. I loved the way the spinach, onion and asparagus stayed a little crisp, so there was a bite to it. The ricotta was creamy and smooth and there was just enough mozzarella (I like very cheesy pizza sometimes, but I enjoy a fresher take too). This was a decidedly grown-up pizza and the Bear and I loved it.


I also finished a project inspired by Tactile Textiles, an article in the March issue of the magazine (click on the link to view the article online). This feature is full of creative ways to make ordinary fabrics more interesting by adding simple hand-embroidery. I especially loved the projects made with embroidery that traced or enhanced the designs already on the fabric. I've been interested in improving my embroidery skills and this seemed like a good way to practice. I used my embroidered fabric to make a pillow cover for my living room.



I chose the fabric to coordinate with colors already in the living room - gray, gold and other soft tones. The dining room and living room are an open L-shaped space; I have dark plum-colored covers on the dining room chairs. The fabric is cotton duck, purchased at Hobby Lobby. The colors work well with the room and the big, graphic design seemed easier for a beginner to stitch.

My embellishment is simple; I picked out part of the scrolled gray design with gray needlepoint yarn (the yarn is Trio by Brown Paper Packages, in a silk and merino blend, purchased from Purl Soho). I used one ply (consisting of two threads) for my embroidery. I enjoyed the stitching, for the most part, but it could get tedious. It seemed best to keep it interesting by doing just a little at a time. By the end of March there was still a lot left to do, so I gave myself more time with it and found myself enjoying it a little more in the process.


In the end, I stitched an area that formed sort of a corner around the large purple and brown medallion shape. I didn't want so much stitching that it looked fussy, just enough to dress up the fabric and create some textural interest. My stitching improved a lot from the beginning of the project, but it's not perfect. Mostly, I used stem stitch. It was interesting to stitch along all the different curves and curlicues; I found it required a little planning to be sure I could get around a curved area without making my stitches too long or short, or going off the outline too much. All in all, I think this was a great way to get more comfortable with an embroidery technique.


I made a basic pillow cover. The embroidered area forms the front of the pillow; I cut the fabric so that the embroidery would be near the center of the pillow's front and cut another square piece for the back (each about 15.5 inches square; I used a 14x14 pillow insert). Then I hemmed one side of each piece with 1/4-inch rolled hem and sewed the other three sides together with right sides facing, leaving the hemmed edges open. I clipped the corners and poked them out with a pencil to make them pointy after turning the pillow cover right-side out.



I considered putting in a zipper but in the end I went with buttons. I didn't have a zipper in the right color, and anyway, they're harder to do. I used my sewing machine's buttonhole feature and two large fake-shell buttons.


I really like my pillow. I think it looks modern and a little funky with the stitching. It was interesting to make, if not always relaxing. I do think my embroidery skills have grown, and I love machine-sewing so that was a wonderful plus for me. I'm really glad I stuck with it and finished my pillow. I think I would like to try some more embroidered embellishments on fabrics sometime, maybe as part of a wall-hanging or pillow for my little girl's room.

38 comments:

  1. The pizza looks yummy andyour pillow is a great piece of art ...

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  2. The pizza looks great, I much prefer a veggie one so shall have to give it a try at some point. Your cushion looks good also, it's a fab idea to pick out the design x

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  3. That pizza looks delicious! I love asparagus, so will give this a try (with a gluten-free crust). Well done on the pillow. The embroidery really adds to it, and I like the colours in the print.

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  4. Your pizza looks and sounds so delicious, Jennifer! I love homemade pizza and will make a note of these toppings. Loved the idea of you and your family baking it and Paul Simon's music playing in the background.....how lovely. Your stitchery is looking gorgeous, so tactile, and what a pretty cushion you created.
    Wishing you a happy week.
    Helen xox

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  5. The pizza looks delicious (I'm gluten-free and very sad about it!)...
    And I love your cushion. Such a good idea, and the hand embroidery makes the fabric look very expensive.
    Oh, and I think artichokes are beautiful things too. I buy them ready-grilled and preserved in oil as I'm too lazy to deal with them. But I sometimes buy one or two simply for decorative purposes!
    S x

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  6. oh that pizza looks good, and your embroidery is a delight x

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  7. Oh yummy that pizza looks good !!!
    How romantic, you and the bear, making that pizza together ;-)... I'm having flashbacks to my youth now (please don't laugh !), you know that pasta scene in the Disney movie, "Ladie and the Tramp" ? I have visions of you and the bear, together nibbling on one pizza slice ;-)...
    (PS in case you wonder, no, I don't drink, I just have an overactive imagination...)

    Love the idea of the cushion embellishment !

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  8. Oh my, all those beautiful asparagus... You make my mouth water!
    Your embroidery work is gorgeous. I so want to learn soon! Such much to learn, so little time. :-)
    Keep on creating and inspiring!

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  9. Hey Jennifer,
    We are big pizza fans here too. I would definitely like yours. And I do like the idea of embellishing a pattern by embroidery. I think you are lucky to have help in the kitchen. I only have Olly, and this evening he scattered icing sugar all of the place while making frosting for his cupcakes. It's still settling now!
    Leanne xx

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  10. I always like trying new pizza toppings. Last weekend we went to Craft and Dough and had pizza with artichokes and prosciutto. It was good! Your post has now made me want to try asparagus as a pizza topping. It looks yummy and healthy.. Your new cushion is lovely. Very neat stitching. Well done!

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  11. Gosh you pillow is just stunning, love it! And that pizza, you are making my mouth water :) It looks so good.

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  12. Wow pizza looks great!

    http://sbr-fashion-fashion.blogspot.com/

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  13. The pizza looks very tasty. Your embroidered cushion cover looks great! :o)

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  14. Mmm, delicious pizza, exactly the sort of thing I love. The cushion is lovely, the stitching gives it real depth and takes it to a new level. Well worth all of the time. CJ xx

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  15. Every time I read one of your posts I come away feeling just a bit better about the world! Your pizza looks very delicious, and I love the idea of stitching round existing shapes and patterns to give texture and practise hand sewing too. What a good idea! Lovely ideas, both! X

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  16. You've given me some nice pizza ideas and your cushion is very pretty and colourful. Have a lovely rest of your week. x

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  17. Your pizza looks so fresh and delicious! I love the way you and Bear work together to make it.
    The pillow turned out beautiful - I can't believe what a difference that stitching makes. This is another one of your posts that just makes me happy. :)

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  18. I love your cushion and what a great idea to embroider some of the pattern on the fabric. The the pizza too. My hubby is the pizza man in our house. The ingredients for the dough go into the bread maker and he does the rest.
    Anne xx

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  19. Your pillow is lovely, Jennifer, and you will find lots of ways you can add interest to fabric with a bit of embroidery. I like doing it with quilting fabrics too. As for the grown-up pizza - Wow, I would really enjoy this one!

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  20. I love them both!!! That pizza looks amazing!!! I think it is fantastic to put all of those yummy greens on there!! The beans and I are going to be making pizza on Friday! I will have to try this!! And your pillow!!!!! Jennifer it is so cool! The fabric is fantastic!!! Wishing you more goodness tomorrow....and it is my GOAL to play along with you on your Martha adventures! In fact I may getting a subscription to the magazine as I am completely inspired by this! Nicole xo

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  21. I really enjoyed this post and the Asparagus and Watercress Pizza looks divine! I MUST try it. Thank you for sharing. I've been looking for new, healthier recipes as I have to eat certain things due to a liver condition. The fabric/quilt design on the pillow is lovely! :)

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  22. The pizza sound delicious. At first glance, the first picture of your gorgeous cushion was not unlike the colours of the pizza. P x

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  23. The pizza sounds delicious, we have just started the very short asparagus season here so have been getting it in our veg bag, that pizza might just have to find its way onto our menu!

    I love your cushion too, the embroidery really changes the fabric in a lovely way. It's funny isn't it what we think of as hard. I would far rather add a zip as I find buttons so difficult to do!

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  24. Two wonderful projects. I like the sound of that pizza and it looks great, something I'd definitely enjoy so I shall have to give it a go. I'm hoping to grow watercress this year so this will be something I can use it for. The cushion is lovely. I'm not very good with a needle and thread so I understand how a project like this can help with these skills. I like the pattern on the fabric you chose, I think a bold pattern works well for this type of thing.

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  25. I love asparagus and the idea of having lots of it on top of a pizza is a double hit with me. Love your cushion fabric and the way you've picked out the curly detail – definitely worth taking the time over. Well done! Sam x

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  26. The pillow cover is so beautiful. Well done - you did a great job. The pizza looks good too but my husband won't eat pizza so we never have it at home.

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  27. I've never tried asparagus! I love the cushion cover, what a good idea xx

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  28. Both the cushion and the pizza look amazing Jennifer, I can see where this embroidery technique is a great way of improving your embroidery skills it gives a lovely textured effect I must try it. :) xx

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  29. That pizza looks divine! I love your cushion too - the embroidery adds a real touch of luxury. Have a great weekend. x

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  30. Oh, I love the look of that pizza so much. My kids wouldn't eat it, and I don't think it would be John's choice, but it's just the kind of food I like eating. Very inspiring, a light and summery take on pizza which is just what you want at this time of year. Your cushion is just gorgeous - you've given the pattern more depth and texture with your stitches and really enhanced it. I like it a lot. xx

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  31. That pizza looks delicious! I love pizza too, but for whatever reason, when I make it at home I tend to use something like naan bread as a base. I think it's because I'm not really good at rolling out pizza dough. And I don't have a pizza stone or pan. I used to have a stone (from Pampered Chef) and never used it (go figure, right?) so I gave it away years ago. Love your pillow cover...great design and colors!

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  32. I love home made pizza. Did Bear make the dough from scratch? I used to make it often and I used the Cuisinart to mix and knead the dough and it worked a charm. Beautiful pillow too.. there is nothing like adding your own touch to things. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

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  33. Wish we could get those magazines over here - I'm saving the recipe which looks so deliciously healthy, I can't resist. I love the fabric for your cushion cover and how you've embellished it with all that lovely embroidery. Lovely to 'see' you too, Jennifer. x


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  34. Such a yummy post, first your wow us with that delicious looking pizza and then you wow us with that delicious pillow. Well done,
    Meredith

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  35. First, "YUM!" The pizza looks so good and I love the way you adapt the recipe to suit your taste and availability of ingredients. I think I have only eaten watercress two times in my 64 years, but I would like to taste it in the combination suggested.
    Your pretty pillow reminds me of the stitchery piece my friend gave me to practice hand stitched quilting on. She called it a cheater quilt :) Anyhow, I have not practiced on my quilting stitches in a long time and your efforts encourage me to practice. I love seeing how you have created something beautiful while practicing your embroidery skills.
    I enjoyed your podcast about ceremonies and traditions. You got me thinking! I've concluded I don't really have any ceremonies in my daily life. I am pre-occupied with trying to establish *good habits*, but I do have traditions I have passed down to my kids, like putting up a Christmas tree on Thanksgiving weekend.

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  36. I love the look of the pizza. we have a LOT of pizza happening here at the moment! The cushion is such a great idea. You've really enhanced it with your stitches...such need stitching. I love that you're using your magazines to such great effect! xx

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  37. Firstly I just want a bite of that pizza so much! looks divine... and I adore your stitching. It's gorgeous!

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