Encounters with a Sewing Machine

I got my first sewing machine as a college graduation gift from my roommate at the time. I say this as if I have more than one. False. I just have one.

It took me 3 years to take it out of the box because I was intimidated. My only other experience using a sewing machine was in my 7th grade Home Economics class, where I did somehow make some sweet totes and bags I never used. But what I mostly remember about that whole experience was the teacher describing how one of her former students got his finger caught under the needle as the machine was running. Talk about traumatizing.

Four years ago, I opened the box, took my machine to a friend’s place, and re-“learned” how to sew from my expert friend. I say this in quotes because although you can learn how to thread the machine (I just looked at the manual) and make the machine run, actually making something (that’s functional/recognizable) is a whole ‘nother story. For my first project, I made bedroom curtains for my sister, because it was the easiest possible thing I could think of.

A friend happened to take pictures of this day; I found them as I was looking through old tags on Facebook (oh, trusty slash scary FB…). Sorry for the terrible quality!

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Sat on the wrong side of the machine for awhile ’til I worked up the nerve to try myself. 🙂

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End result!

Something as simple as curtains still seemed to take forever. All that measuring, folding, ironing, pinning.. urgh. Since then I’ve moved onto some more complicated projects but I still consider myself a beginner-ish. Most of what I do is trial and error but I guess that’s the best way to learn. Can’t wait until I can call myself an expert! 🙂

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Removable Wallpaper: A Godsend

I knew it. I knew I couldn’t continue the “Tina Made” title for all of my posts. “Tina Made… a Pretty Wall.” Doesn’t quite work. *weeps*

Let’s be real here. I live in a very old apartment with off-white walls. It’s kind of annoying that as a renter I can’t do much to the apt. but it’s fine. I can deal. EXCEPT. Except there’s this one half-wall in my dining area that’s covered with the most hideous 70s-esque wallpaper. It looks like the readings of an EKG. I wish I had a picture to post. Although maybe even if I did, I wouldn’t post it, because I wouldn’t want you to gouge your eyes out.

So it was truly a miracle from heaven that I discovered Chasing Paper on Design*Sponge a few months ago. It was literally the day or day after the launch of their site, and I made an impulsive purchase of 6 panels of removable wallpaper. Each $25 panel is 2’x4′ and is essentially a ginormous sticker that you peel and stick to your walls (or furniture, or behind your bookshelves, etc.). Awesome for renters, for those who get visually bored easily, and for the non-commital.

Here’s how it turned out:

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To be completely honest, it was pretty difficult getting the wallpaper up, mostly because I did it alone. Managing 2’x4′ stickers (lining up seams, trying to keep everything level, avoiding bubbling) by myself was tedious, arduous, and dangerous (Jk. It wasn’t dangerous. I just wanted another -ous word). Having a second set of hands would have made the job 2904x easier. Yes, 2904x. In the bottom right picture, you can see that the seam between 2 panels is pretty visible from up close, but it’s not noticeable if you’re not carefully looking. Nor in the background of pictures, which is what really matters… right? 😉

Difficult or not, would I do it again? Absolutely yes. The wallpaper totally livened up my dining room space and now when I walk in, I don’t think about cardiac arrests and hospitals.

Check out all of the different patterns on Chasing Paper’s website— they added tons more designs over the past few months!

Tina Made a Wooden Necklace Hanger

You know what’s pretty awesome? Friends who like having DIY crafting days.

There are tons of necklace hangers sold on Etsy and such these days, but my friends and I decided we could make our own. And make them cuter than what’s already out there. Yeah, I said it.

Wood. Chevrons. Gold. Tiffany Blue. What’s cuter than that?!

Here was my end result:

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One of my friends went on to make several more with other patterns so if you want your own necklace hanger (and can’t commit to a full-blown DIY project that involves tools like a sander and power drill), check them out on her Etsy shop here.

Tina Made Rosemary Chicken

By no stretch of the imagination am I “good” at cooking, but I realize that it’s a very necessary life skill (sigh). With that said… Holy smokes. This is the best recipe I’ve tried in a long time. I’ve been on a let’s-eat-more-fish-and-less-chicken-and-beef kick, but this dish has ruined me because it’s been officially added to my rotation of favorites. Here it is from Food Network, rated 5 stars and all, with a few ingredient modifications in italics below.

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Ingredients:

  • 3/4 pound small red-skinned potatoes, halved, or quartered if large [increased to 1 lb.]
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, plus 1 tablespoon leaves
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed [increased to 3 cloves]
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes [what’s considered a pinch?! I used a dime-sized amount.]
  • Juice of 2 lemons (squeezed quarters reserved)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 skin-on, bone-in chicken breasts (6 to 8 ounces each) [used 1.5 lbs. chicken thighs– also can use drumsticks]
  • 10 ounces cremini mushrooms, halved [increased to 1lb., threw away the stems, and quartered]

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Preheat the oven to 450. Cover the potatoes with cold water in a saucepan and salt the water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until tender, about 8 minutes; drain and set aside.

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Pile the rosemary leaves, garlic, 2 teaspoons salt and the red pepper flakes on a cutting board, then mince and mash into a paste using a large knife.

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Transfer the paste to a bowl. Stir in the juice of 1 lemon and the olive oil. Add the chicken and turn to coat.

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Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, skin-side down, cover and cook until the skin browns, about 5 minutes. While chicken cooks, wash and quarter cremini mushrooms. NOTE: I don’t have a cast-iron skillet so I used a regular large fry pan.

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Turn the chicken; add the mushrooms and potatoes to the skillet and drizzle with the juice of the remaining lemon. Add the rosemary sprigs and the squeezed lemon quarters to the skillet; transfer to the oven and roast, uncovered, until the chicken is cooked through and the skin is crisp, 20 to 25 minutes. If you’re using a regular pan like I did, transfer everything to an oven-safe dish before putting in the oven; I used a 9″x13″ Pyrex baking dish.

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An additional change I would make for next time would be to use skin-on chicken thighs/breasts or drumsticks like the original recipe recommends. Mine was skinless, and therefore lost all crispiness. Delicious regardless. 🙂 Yields 4 servings.

Tina Made a Blog

I’ve been promising myself (and many friends) to Start.A.Blog. For like, the past 2 years. Better late than never, so Here.It.Is., folks.

Well. Who knew that writing a first post would be so incredibly daunting (me, actually… I’ve been experiencing a low-grade level of anxiety over this. Jk…maybe). The pressure of creativity! It’s paralyzing.

So I’ll insert this instead, and stop here:

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Me, for the last few months, trying to think of a blog name. Everything cool was taken, I promise.

Whew. That was rough. Anyway, if you want to know more about me and this blog, you can check out my About section.

My next post will jump right into a yummy recipe. Hopefully I won’t crumble under the pressure. 😉

xo, Tina