Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Busy Busy Booking

I know I took a long sabbatical from posting, but it is wonder that this is my first post about busy booking, as that has been a big part of my crafting over the last couple years and my main source of Pattiwagon revenue (!). I've made eight in total, four for friends and family and four that I've sold. If you or someone you know is interested, hmu. 

Here are the top five reasons I enjoy making them: 
  1. They're just so cute. 
  2. I get to be creative in the designs. No book (or even page) looks the same. 
  3. Nothing is wasted. Tiniest bit of black felt left? That's an eye for a cow. 
  4. They take just enough concentration. I can easily watch tv or listen to podcast while I'm working, but I still feel productive with my time. 
  5. Getting to see them in action. See below for a video of the world's cutest nephew enjoying a "peek-a-boo" page. 

Here is a sampling of some of the finger puppet pages I've done. The Harry Potter puppets are my favorites. 

And finally, nephew pointing out "Pappi." <heart melts> video

Monday, October 16, 2017

Weekend Roundup

New motto in the kitchen: Eat for the weather you want, not the weather you have.

Taking that to heart, I did a lot of cooking this weekend. I broke out some cold weather favorites from the Pattiwagon archives.

1. Pot roast*

2. Which became Pattiwagon favorite vegetable soup the next day. Recipe here.

3. Chicken Enchilada Spaghetti Squash. Recipe here

4. Baked oatmeal. This recipe is for carrot cake baked oatmeal, but I subbed the carrots for frozen blueberries and omitted the ginger. 

*Recipe for pot roast consists of browning a chuck roast on the stove, putting said chuck roast in the oven with potatoes, onions, carrots, and a couple cans of spicy V8 and sitting back and relaxing for two hours until it's done. 

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Window Treatments a la Pattiwagon: Part II

(Note: So this is only four and half years since Part I of the post. For those without a storage unit memory, let me remind you that I made some curtains for my friend Jackie's nursery. You can refresh your memory here.)

I enjoy all of my craftings, but I do not consider myself anywhere close to an expert. My interior design consists of trying to cram as much stuff as possible into my house without looking like a hoarder, which I am not. Promise. I just have a lot of stuff. I love seeing my fingerprints (and those of my family and friends) on so many different pieces in my house. 

Window treatments had been at the bottom of the priority list since I moved in. My house had plain mini-blinds. Ugly and cheap, yes, but they did a fine job of shading and shielding. Last year, however, I got new windows, so I figured it was a fine time for some proper window treatments. 

I did what any good (and frugal) crafter would do; I set out to make my own. Starting off easy (and cheap), I bought some IKEA curtains, which I simply sewed in half and hemmed the bottom to fit two small living room windows. Once those were hung, I removed the mini-blinds and now regularly enjoy the open-curtain and open-window view out of my living room. 

Feeling content (yet not challenged) with my work there, I decided to up my game on my bedroom window treatments and try roman shades. I found this tutorial and armed myself with gray blackout fabric, blackout lining fabric, fabric glue, and cheap mini blinds. That's all you need to DIY! I won't repeat all the instructions, but here a couple photos of the process. Start to finish, the first one took about three hours and the second one about two. 

Sewing Sensei, be sure to check out my mitered corner. I learned from the best. Also, hi, foot. 

Here's the finished look: 

I'm really happy with how they turned out. I do wish that I had made them a little wider to block out more light, but alas, I'm an amateur. Now, I have one window left to treat. I'm thinking a DIY valance. Check back later for Part III, hopefully within three years. 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Fashion Challenge: Week 10

Tuesday (Day 27): 

Finally broke out the booties on this post-fall break Tuesday. And it felt good. I got these as a Christmas present in NC last year and have loved them since. (Photo does not do their cuteness justice.) I wore them with a belted army green dress from the Targe. I like this look. 

Wednesday (Day 28): 

Calvin Klein "snakeskin" print pants. I'm not sure why I felt compelled to buy these on an outlet mall trip last summer, as animal prints are not really in my fashion repertoire. But, they match well with this black Target top and red Tieks, so perhaps I should open myself up more to the wild side of prints. 

Thursday (Day 29): 

Had planned an outfit of a cute dress and black blazer for this Thursday, but alas, I woke up ten minutes before I had to leave the house. I quickly realized leg hair depilation wasn't going to happen, so I grabbed the first ensemble I could put my hands on. Wide leg (not my fav right now) Old Navy khakis, blue chambray Levis shirt, and a much beloved scarf from my friends Corrie and Michael. On my feet are dark brown Sperrys. Not bad for ten minutes. 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Fashion Challenge: Week 9

When I started this fashion challenge, I had a lot of confidence that I could find enough outfits because of the seasons changing. Namely, I don't have enough summer outfits to last a full year, but I do have enough to get me into fall. And just enough fall to last until winter, etc. However, I guess I forgot that I live in Memphis in 2017. And apparently we're not having fall this year. (It was 93 yesterday.) I was talking to some friends about this, and my wise (and very fashionable!) friend Erin said, "Dress for the weather you want, not the weather you have." So I took that advice this week and decided all fall despite the 90s on the thermometer. 

Monday (Day 23): 

Military-inspired button-down with a canvas belt, J. Crew pants, and Target mocs. I'm not sure where this shirt came from, but it's been an occasional favorite in my closet for the past several years. 

Tuesday (Day 24): 

Plain gray button-down from Gap, fleece vest from Limited (haven't shopped there since high least it's not Limited Too, my middle school store of choice), and corduroy capris from J. Crew. Paired with Sperry's and a new hair color (!). 

Wednesday (Day 25): 

Bargain Barn alert! This dress is originally from Old Navy, but I didn't have to pay those *exorbitant* prices. No, I found this dress in the Goodwill castoff bins for twenty-five...cents. I discovered this gem a few years ago, and it has been in the rotation every since. I am probably down to less than one cent per wear at this point. It amazes me that no one snatched it up at Goodwill for a whole two dollars, but I'm not complaining. Finds like this keep me going back to the Barn to sift through the dregs. I'm wearing it with black leggings, black Target cardigan, and black Nine West flats. 

Thursday (Day 26): 

Another fall look that would be even cuter with booties. Saving that for the next weekend fall activity. This shirt is from Target (circa 2003) and has a lot going on with it: plaid, pleats, ombre, buttons, and tie back. Somehow I think it all works. (I guess that's why I'm not a professional fashion designer.) I'm wearing it with black skinny jeans and Nine West sandals. 

Sorry for the tardiness of this post, Pattiwagoneers. I was sipping Bourbon in Kentucky with this cool cat. You understand the delay. He's a keeper. 

(To be honest, I did more spitting than sipping. Sorry, Kentucky, please don't disown me. Andy, on the other hand, became an honorary Kentuckian for the weekend: Keeneland, Commonwealth, and Bourbon. Check. Check. Check.)

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Fashion Challenge: Week 8

After a couple back to back whirlwind weekends, life aboard the Pattiwagon calmed down a bit this week, as evidenced by the four work-attire outfits I had this week. No special days, no days off, just L-I-V-I-N and W-O-R-K-I-N. 

Monday (Day 19): 

Pink sweater from the Gap, purchased perhaps in college (?) with a beloved brown Old Navy skirt, purchased definitely in college. Nude Nine West flats purchased much more recently. Fairly nondescript but added some color to a muted week. 

Tuesday (Day 20): 

This is a very special dress that I bought when I was in middle school and very into vintage clothing. I got it, along with several other items, in Atlanta at a store called Psycho Sisters. Based on the zipper and construction, I'm pretty sure it's from the 1940s. Except for using it in a school project on 20th century fashion, I never wore it until I started working. And now I love it. It's definitely not the most glamorous look or the most beautiful dress, but it has a story. What that story is, exactly, I have to make up in my head, but maybe that's even more fun. 

Wednesday (Day 21): 

Another special outfit, made for my by dear sister Laurel. The skirt is linen with a giraffe embroidered at the bottom. Every time I wear it, I get tons of compliments on the uniqueness of the design. Wearing it with a black t-shirt, sweater, and mocs from Target. 

Thursday (Day 22): 

Blouse was a gift from dear sister Laurel and skirt is ancient Old Navy. Shoes are peep-toe Nine West and belt is Target, maybe. This wraps up my super teacher-y looks for the week. 

Friday, September 22, 2017

Last Gasp of Tomatoes

Despite the lack of fashion pics last week, don't think you loyal Pattiwagoneers were forgotten. I have an end-of-season tomato recipe just for you. I’ve made this recipe twice now, slightly differently each time, and I think the variations are limitless.

I had three very large and very delicious looking tomatoes with no purpose after the possibility of a tomato pie went unfulfilled L. Like the tomato pie, this recipe is by-the-seat-of-my-pants (my favorite kind of recipe), and unlike the tomato pie, this recipe is healthy. (See Training, Marathon.) The tomatoes are the star of the dish, so it is probably best to save it for some super ripe, super fresh tomatoes, but I think you could do a mini version with the Campari vine-ripened tomatoes while you wait until next summer. Just bookmark this page 'til then. I’ll try to remind you.

Stuffed tomatoes, here we come: 

Slice the tops off the tomatoes and scoop out the inside membranes, seeds, and flesh. Then, sprinkle some salt on the inside of the tomatoes and place them upside down on a paper towel. This will suck some of the moisture of out of the tomatoes so they don’t get too soggy.

While the tomatoes are hanging out upside down, cook about a half cup of quinoa in chicken broth according to the package instructions. While that is cooking, sauté a couple of chopped garlic cloves in olive oil and then wilt a few cups of fresh spinach. (Variation: use frozen spinach that has been thawed and thoroughly wrung out.)

Once the quinoa is done, mix in the spinach. Add in some mozzarella and parmesan cheese at this point. To give it some level of creaminess, add either a spoonful of sour cream or ricotta cheese. (I have made it both ways and liked both. In order to really judge the difference, I’d need to do a side-by-side taste test. And this blog is free. And Pattiwagon has been busy lately.)

Season that mixture with salt, pepper, and a squeeze of lemon juice or rice vinegar. (It will need some acidic pep.)

Fill the tomatoes with the quinoa, spinach, and cheese and then top with panko bread crumbs. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes. Enjoy! 

Fashion Challenge: Week 7

Sorry for the lapse, Pattiwagoneers. Last week was homecoming, so that meant jeans every day for me. Today will be a twofer, so look for a food post in your feed. HoCo week was a nice break from the fashion challenge, but I'm back in Week 7 with three new looks. And please, hurry up, fall. I'm ready for you and your sweaters and your tights and your boots and your scarves. 


Tuesday (Day 16): 

Went casual after a jet setting weekend with a chambray (still my current favorite fabric) tunic from Target and black pants from Banana Republic. Shoes were black thong sandals from Nine West. This look would be cute with some booties, too, right? I spy a Saturday outfit this fall. 

Wednesday (Day 17): 

Black and white polka dot dress (from where else but Target) and red Tieks. New backdrop here, the beautiful LHS library. And shout out to Gracie for being a good sport and taking my photo after school. 

Thursday (Day 18): 

Seersucker shirt from Gap that I bought my very first year of teaching to give Baby Pattiwagon some professional airs. I wore it with black pants, again from Banana Rep and Nine West nude flats. 

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Fashion Challenge: Week 6

Another short week on the Pattiwagon due to Labor Day, and yet again, who's complaining? I am coming off a whirlwind weekend (See: Houseguest, Amazing), so I went for some easy breezy hair, makeup, and clothes this week. 

Tuesday (Day 13): 

Calvin Klein pants in bright pink, Target high necked top with peplum and lace, and Nine West flats. Check. Check. Check. (Although these pants have been begging to be hemmed since I bought them. Sorry pants, you'll have to wait another year.)

Wednesday (Day 14): 

I love how this look exudes the transition from summer to fall. Black tee and army green vest from Target. Black jeans from J. Crew. The shoes are my favorite moccasins from Target, I believe. They have served me so well and are just barely holding on at this point. Someone please remind me the next time I find shoes I love that I need to buy three pairs. 

Thursday (Day 15): 

Pattiwagon original alert! I made this shirt a couple years ago from really simple pattern. I think the fabric choices really make it pop. Black/white houndstooth with teal lace on top. It's a shirt I can't wear too often, and for that reason, I really like it. Paired it with black J. Crew pants and my Malachi shoes

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Fashion Challenge: Week 5

Yet another short week for the fashion challenge. We had an in-school volleyball game on Thursday, making it the perfect opportunity for a bonus jeans day. So, just three days this week. No complaints here. As this was the last week of August, I tried to wear some "last gasp of summer" looks. Neon green pants are slightly out of place in January. 

Monday (Day 10): 

This Old Navy dress goes way back, as in back to high school. I can't even figure out how many tag designs ago it was, as all the tags have fallen off. (Side note: I'm not sure why I felt the need to dress like a teacher when I was in high school.) But here I am all teachered out, matching it with a cardigan from Gap and pearls. Like this ice cream cone, I wonder if this dress will still be intact when I break it out next year. 

Tuesday (Day 11): 

I got these Target pants for Christmas a few years ago, and they have served me well. The photo really doesn't capture how blindingly bright they are. So I paired them with a more subdued top, a Lucky brand tank and my old reliable Sperrys. 

Wednesday (Day 12): 

I'm not sure where this maxi dress came from, but it's been another standby in the Pattiwagon wardrobe for several years. I like the print a lot, but it's one of those dresses I can only break out once or twice a year. Denim jacket ensures the look is school appropriate. Now, the denim jacket I can break out once or twice a week. I'm going to try to avoid it, but I may have to add it to my original list of exceptions. We'll see how it goes. 

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Fashion Challenge: Week 4

It's a short week for the fashion challenge, because I missed school on Monday and Tuesday. The Clayton Clan coupled their annual canning camp with the solar eclipse in Madisonville, so we enjoyed three days of tomatoes and two minutes of totality. The eclipse was one of the most amazing things I've ever experienced. Nature, man. And as far as canning goes, it was a very productive year. I'll post our stats at some point. (Really need to update this post...) 

On to the fashion challenge!

Wednesday (Day 9): 

This week saw another Pattiwagon (+parents) original. This shirt began in 2014 in Uganda with Daddy Pattiwagon purchasing some beautiful emerald fabric for the seamstresses in his life. The fabric patiently waited for a year until Mama Pattiwagon and I started this peplum top with exposed zipper at a rendition of sewing camp two years ago. It was a great pattern and a great fit, but I made the whole shirt assuming I could buy a zipper to fit in later. Not so. So, the semi-completed top patiently waited until I got motivated this summer to finish it. The fix did involve superglue, a tried and true Pattiwagon technique. But I made it work, and I'm so happy with how it turned out. 

Pants are black J. Crew, so you'll be seeing those again. Shoes are a DC Rack Room purchase, a purchase I won't soon forget, as it involved losing my phone and seeking out a man (or more accurately, a guardian angel) named Malachi to find it. (Yeah, that's a long story. Thanks, Malachi.) 

Thursday (Day 10): 

What I'm enjoying most about this challenge so far is how varied I'm making my outfits. I haven't worn this blazer in a couple years, but I think it works with this look that channels Lily Tomlin in Big Business. (Side note: How does that movie have only a 6.3/10 rating on IMDB???) The pushed up sleeves make it just casual enough for school. Dress is linen, from old standby TJ Maxx. Blazer is from J. Crew, and shoes are nude Nine West flats. 

Friday, August 18, 2017

Fashion Challenge: Week 3

Monday (Challenge Day #5): 
Monday night was open house, so I was aiming for professional, comfortable, and cute. Oh, how things have changed since my first year of teaching when I aimed for old, old, and old on open house night. I think I wore a suit (!). Thankfully, I no longer have to overcompensate for my youth with my fashion, so I opted for this Target dress from last year with a pair of mustard yellow flats that perfectly match one of the colors in the dress (as well as my hardwood floors). 

Tuesday (Challenge Day #6): 
I went coastal casual chic with my seersucker cropped pants (definitely second hand, probably Goodwill), a white linen shirt I bought on Amazon, and some simple Target sandals. Easy Breezy. 

Wednesday (Challenge Day #7): 
This day sees the first Pattiwagon original fashion. I made that chambray skirt a few years ago, and it may look familiar, as I have shown it off on the blog previously. Chambray is definitely one of my favorite fabrics to wear (and work with). I found a bunch of it on sale, immediately made the skirt, made (now forgotten) plans for the rest, and then immediately put it in fabric purgatory. Currently seeking chambray inspiration if anyone can offer. Until then, I'll just love this skirt, which I wore with well-loved plaid shirt from Gap and my red Tieks. 

Thursday (Challenge Day #8): 
Maxi skirt and plain black tee from Target with Aldo sandals. I was feeling comfort on this day, and this skirt always brings it. 

Side Note: I feel like my photography is perhaps getting worse with each week. I blame it on the fact that it is still dark outside when I take these photos, and my indoor lights aren't exactly photo studio quality. So I guess we'll be suffering until DST ends in November. Buckle in for more shadows and blurriness! 

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Fashion Challenge: Week 2

Monday (Challenge Day 2): 
Navy J. Crew pants with a striped sweater-ish shirt from Express. Necklace is a red leather flower with an unknown origin. As this challenge goes on, you'll notice that I don't wear a lot of jewelry. It's strange. I'm not at all picky about buying clothes. (Looks halfway decent, fits halfway decent, and is affordable? Sold!) Jewelry and shoes, on the other hand, can be an excruciating purchasing process with eternal hems and haws. Luckily, I found some shoes that pass the Pattiwagon Pickiness Test for this outfit: Tieks. They are super comfortable leather ballet flats with a teal sole. My look was dubbed "Perfecty Patriotic" at school. 

Tuesday (Challenge Day 3): 
Could I look more like a teacher? Cotton dress is super old from Old Navy (like, at least 10 tag designs ago). The belt came with a shirt that I don't really like so much from Anthropologie, so thank goodness I like the belt and thank goodness it was on clearance. (I did have to put some interfacing on the inside of the belt to give it structure. Pattiwagon Sewing Tip of the Day: if you don't like the look or feel of something you own, experiment with ways to improve it. The worst that could happen is you ruin it. And, well, you didn't like it to begin with.) The little sweater is favorite from Gap. Shoes are a random brand from DSW. 

Wednesday (Challenge Day 4): 
I found this outfit right before I started my challenge in the clearance section of Target. Pants: $12.98. Shirt: $4.98. Yes, I know, a little pricy for me. But I think I'll get a lot of wears out of the pants (on the weekends, of course!). Shoes are tan Sperrys, making an appearance in Week Two. 

We had a big "Minute to Win It" competition at school today, so my principal allowed us to wear jeans today. (FYI, this happens fairly frequently at school. Don't mean to harp on this so much, but during the school year, we teachers are overworked, and there aren't many tangible carrots to dangle in front of us. Fortunately, we can be bribed, assuaged, and cheered with the currency of denim. 

Saturday, August 5, 2017


It's early August. Late July has come and gone. You may be wondering about the most wonderful time of the year, tomato camp. Well, due to the eclipse, we moved tomato camp to coincide. (Hopkinsville, KY is among the best places for viewing, what?) So, with tomato camp being moved to mid-August, here's a tomato pie recipe to tide all of you tomato fiends over.

This tomato pie is legit. It combines four of my favorite things: pie crust, tomatoes, cheese, and most of all, mayonnaise. But, all you mayo haters out there, you really can't tell. It just melds into the pie like velvet. The whole concoction is one velvety, cheesy, tomato-y delight. (Yes, it is an indulgence. And, no, it's not on the diet.) This recipe comes from my parents' friend, Martha, and it is my kind of recipe. No measurements. No times. Just eyeballing. I've eaten it a few times, but this was my first solo flight.

Unfortunately (but not surprisingly), I did have one in a long lineage of pie crust fails with the recipe. Martha's recipe stated to use Mark Bittman's pie crust recipe. I respect Mark and all, but his pie crust uses sugar. Sugar not really being my thing in a pie crust, I found this New York Times pie crust recipe that had all the hallmarks of Bittman other than the sugar. Followed the directions to a tee, until it talked about pie weights. Umm, who needs pie weights when you can just prick the bottom and sides with a fork? Well, me apparently, when I make this recipe. Because, here's a before and after. 
(Just spent a cool 45 on that braid, nbd.) 

Better Homes and Gardens recipe, why do I betray you? The NYT crust tasted delicious (So! Flaky!), but clearly, it was not going to be filled with tomatoes, cheese, and mayonnaise. So, one in a long lineage of emergency Kroger trips was in store. Pre-made pie crust in hand (sigh), I made the pie. Here's what I did. 

First, bake the pie crust according to directions. As soon as it comes out of the oven, lay thin slices of provolone cheese on the bottom. This will prevent future sogginess. 
Then, prepare the filling. I sliced two tomatoes, placed them in a colander, lightly salted them, and then let them sit for about 10 minutes. After that, I placed them between two paper towels and soaked up any moisture. This, like the provolone, is a sogginess prevention technique. 
While the tomatoes are soaking, grate some Jarlsberg. I used 8oz total. Mix the grated cheese with a bit of grated pepper and some mayo. Hellmans. In a jar. There is no other option on mayonnaise. I used about a cup. (Note: this picture was my first "eyeball." I ended up using about double this amount.)
Now you're ready to pie. Place one layer of tomatoes in the pie crust, followed by a layer of chiffonaded basil and about half the cheese/mayo mixture. Repeat the layers once to complete this savory delight. 
I baked it at 350 for about 45 minutes. Notice, I put tin foil around the crust about 15 minutes into the baking because I noticed the edges were getting crispy. Also, I baked it on a cookie sheet, again, to prevent sogginess. (Sogginess is clearly the archenemy of this pie.)
Bake until it's lightly brown and bubbly on the edges. Before you enjoy, be sure to complete the most important pie-making step, #posewithyourpie.