This Sandwich is Going to Change Your Life.

Bold.  I know.  But, I stand by my blog title.  The Tempeh Reuben has changed my life.  It has rocked my world.   I hope that by sharing my recipe with you, friends, it will also rock yours (in a good way).

The Tempeh Reuben

First, some background:  I met this sandwich at a vegetarian restaurant in Harrisonburg, VA called The Little Grill.  It was 9pm and we were heading back to Charlottesville after a long day of cross-country skiing and I was a little hangry (hungry + angry).  Being a vegetarian, restaurants don’t always have a lot to offer me.  But, I’d heard that the little grill had fine veggie fare.  So, I was excited.  When we got there, though, there wasn’t really anything on the menu that stood out to me.  One of my friends encouraged me to give the Tempeh Reuben a try.  I was skeptical.  I don’t like swiss cheese.  I’m not a huge fan of sauerkraut.  And, at that time, I wasn’t sold on tempeh.  (For those of you who haven’t been formerly introduced to tempeh, it’s a block of fermented soybeans and it’s delicious.  Meet soon!)  But from the moment that Reuben first hit my tongue, I was smitten.  I still don’t know how I love this sandwich, when its singular components aren’t my faves.  The flavors, when melded, however, are next to Godly.  And, the best part is that it is a super quick fix after a long day at work.

So, what are you going to need to create your masterpiece?  These:

The ingredients

Here is the recipe.  I made two sandwiches at a time, but you can increase the measurements for the sauce to make as many as you need.

Tempeh Reubens:

  • 4 slices of Rye Bread
  • 1/2 package of Three Grain Tempeh
  • 1 can of Bavarian style sauerkraut
  • 2 slices of Swiss cheese
  • 2 T of Mayo (I use mayo made with olive oil to cut down on fat)
  • 1 1/2 T of ketchup
  • 2 T of dill relish
  • 1 t of cumin
  • 1 t of chili powder
  • 1 1/2 T of olive oil

First, you want to get your tempeh ready.  I cut the block in half and then butterfly each half into two pieces.

Preparing the tempeh

Those two pieces go into a frying pan and the rest goes back into my fridge for next week.  Next, add the olive oil to the pan and then sprinkle the tempeh pieces with 1/2 of the two spices and then flip them over into the oil and sprinkle the remaining 1/2 of the spices on the other side.

Spiced tempeh ready for sautéing

Cook the tempeh over medium heat, flipping occasionally, until they are nice and golden brown.  This will take 5-10 minutes.  When they are finished cooking, take them out of the pan and set them aside.

Nice and golden brown tempeh.

As your tempeh is cooking, you can go ahead and make the spread.  Combine the mayo, ketchup, and dill relish in a small bowl and mix well.

The yummy sauce.

Next, put your rye bread slices in the toaster.  While they are browning, you want to heat up the sauerkraut and melt the swiss cheese on it.   I use the same pan that I cooked the tempeh in.  Partly because I am lazy and hate doing dishes and partly because the rest of the spice then gets incorporated into the kraut.  Yum!

Heated kraut and melted swiss

The only thing you have left to do is assemble!  Spread the sauce on each slice of rye bread.  Then, the tempeh goes on one side and the kraut/cheese on the other.  Smoosh.

The assembly

Voila!  Easy peasey.  You now have your tempeh reubens!  (I usually eat these with a salad so it’s a healthy and well-balanced meal.) We never get tired of eating these because they are SO GOOD.   I challenge you to try these lil’ babies and then tell me if it doesn’t change your life, too.

One of the best sandwiches ever. Period.


Adventures in Drafting-An Asymmetrical Skirt

Unfortunately, our Jo-Ann fabric store is moving.  This means that until their new store opens in mid-April, the current store is slowly running out of inventory.  There are no more interfacings or stabilizers.  There is no more fusible fleece or magnetic snaps.  Ack!  (Although, I did find a .8/yard of charming Route 66 fabric (pictured below) in the remnant bin.)   So, in a desperate search for any or all of the above (which I need to make my Amy Butler Blossom Bag), I went to Wal-Mart.  Gasp!  Someone had told me that Wal-Mart was getting back into selling fabric and sewing supplies.  Sad to say, that while this might be true at some locations, ours only sells pre-cut and packaged small yardage packages.  Needless to say, I didn’t find my Pelltex.  But, I did pick up some cheap, lightweight denim, $9 for 1 and 1/2 yards.

I came home feeling stressed.  It was supposed to snow 8 inches on Sunday and I didn’t have any of the supplies that I went out for.  What was I going to craft when we got snowed in for days and days in the blizzard that surely would ensue?   So, as the snow flakes began to fall, I decided to poke around on the internet for inspiration and interesting projects.  That’s when I came upon this little gem on Kirin’s blog (she’s co-owner of a fantastic hand-printed textile shop in Australia, Ink & Spindle):

Ink & Spindle Skirt

Ink & Spindle Skirt on Model

Well, I fell in love immediately and knew that I needed to figure out how to make this skirt.  And, then that got me thinking…..I had two cute new fabrics:

New Fabric!

Thus, began my first real adventure into drafting a pattern from scratch.  While I have tried my hand at this before, it was under the tutelage of my good friend, and master seamstress, Caroline.  Could I really do this by myself?  Sure, why not?  🙂

One of the first things I did was draw up some sketches.  While they probably look like chicken scratch to you, they were sort of helpful once I began to actually draft the pattern.  And, if anything, they made me begin to think about how different pieces of the pattern would be put together.

Crazy Chicken Scratches

Then, I assembled my tools.  To draft, you need some large paper.  I had previously bought a roll of brown paper.  But, many people just use old wrapping paper.  You can even disassemble grocery bags and tape them, if need be.  You’ll also need a pencil, meter stick, smaller ruler, eraser, and a curved ruler for making your hip, hem and waist lines curvaceous.  (You’ll also need a cloth measuring tape for taking your own measurements, if you don’t already have them written down.)

Drafting Supplies

I already had my measurements written down.  But to make sure I was on the right track, I also cross-referenced all my skirt measurements with an actual black skirt I own that sort of has the shape and waistband of the skirt-to-be.

Skirt to Check Measurements With

As there are many better websites that explain pattern drafting for an A-line skirt, I won’t go into explicit details here.  If you’d like to see some of the sites I used, here were my favorites:

The Cordelia Files



First, I drew my waistline, waistband line, hip line, and hem line.  I used my measurements for each + ease divided by 4.  Then, I used the curved ruler to make sure the waist, hip and hem line were slightly curved.  Next, I cut out the two pattern pieces.  I cut out the whole thing first and then separated the main skirt panel from the waistband and the waistband line  (4 ” down).

Pattern pieces

Then, believe it or not, I made a muslin.  For the girl who never swatches in knitting, this was a milestone for me. While it was a painful to hold off actually creating the finished project, I will tell you, it was very helpful.  There were still several parts of the pattern (i.e. the waistband) that I was unclear of how to best assemble.  Making the muslin gave me some opportunities to play around with the angles and assembly.  And it pains me to admit, but it didn’t take THAT much longer.

Then, it was time to cut the fabric!

Cutting the main skirt panels

Waistband pieces

Once everything was cut, it was sewing time!  I’m sorry I didn’t take any pictures of the actual assembly.  In all honesty, I didn’t think it would actually turn out.  So, I didn’t bother.  But miracles of all miracles, it turned out beautifully!  (Yes, I’m standing on the side of my bathtub for this pic.  Classy, I know.  DH wasn’t home for the photo opp.)

My Asymmetrical Skirt!

Side view

I plan to make this skirt again now that I know how I would change things to make it easier.  I also will use some nicer material next time.  The denim from Wal-Mart began turning my fingers blue.  Ick!  But, this was a great learning project and will be a really, really nice skirt the second time around.  I’ll do a better job of chronicling the next one.  Hope everyone had a nice holiday weekend!

Crafting for Crib Midgets

To my utter delight, my sister had her first child (my first niece!) on Christmas Eve of this year. In addition, my best friend also had her first child back in October. Thus, one of the the major themes to my DIYing for 2012? Crafting for crib midgets. All kidding aside, I’m super excited to be able to make things for these two sweet little ones in my life. Therefore, two of the first things on my list were 1) finding a sewing book with lots of great baby patterns and 2) searching Ravelry for cute baby knits and queueing them up. After a quick trip to Barnes & Noble, I had checked the first thing off of my list. This is the book I chose:

My new crib midget go-to book

This book is chock full of adorable baby things, from clothing to diaper bags to crib accessories. I usually steer clear of pattern books because I find I’m usually only buying the book for a few patterns. But in this case, I thought 2/3 of the patterns looked adorable. Book acquired! I immediately went to work. First order of business was making my sister something for her baby shower. I decided to make her “Everything Bag”, with the addition of the “Changing Pad” from the “Modern Diaper Bag” pattern. For the bag, I chose a lovely Waverly brown, purple and chartreuse ginkgo print home dec weight fabric for the exterior and a coordinating solid lavender home dec weight for the lining. Bothbof these were purchased at Jo-Ann’s. The bag also requires fusible interfacing, fusible fleece, and fusible stiffner/stabilizer. I thought that the pattern instructions were actually fairly easy to follow (despite the lack of diagrams and pictures Amy’s patterns are known for). And, the bag went together fairly quickly after all the pieces were cut and interfacings/fleece fused. The only problem I had was trying to topstitch the lining to the exterior because ultra-stiff (that’s what she said) inside divider meant that it was nearly impossible to get beneath my presser foot. Also, at that point I was sewing through so many layers of fabric that I thought my trusty Kenmore might die on me. After many rounds, several expletives, a few glasses of wine, and some surreptitious hand-stitching, I was triumphant.



So triumphant in fact, that I decided to make another one of these bags for my BFF. (Why mess with a good thing?) Her bag is made in a Premier Print blue/brown elephant fabric for the exterior and a solid brown quilting weight fabric for the lining. Modifications: I thought that using the quilting weight for the lining would help with reducing the bulk for the topstitching. Who loves you lil’ Kenmore? But, in retrospect, I think you need the two home dec weight fabrics to withstand all the pushing/pulling that must happen for you to get the bag under the presser foot to topstitch. Secondly, I decreased the height of the divider by about 1 inch, which helped me be able to topstitch the whole bag this time by machine. All in all, though, I think her’s turned out ok, too.

Amy Butler's Everything Bag

After getting the bags done, I needed to make the changing pad for my sister’s bag. It is really a simple pattern. I used the same ginkgo fabric for the exterior and chose a light green terry cloth for the interior fabric. There are two layers of organic cotton batting sandwiched between them. I’ve never quilted anything before. What I learned? I need to explore a walking presser foot. It’s dang hard to keep all those layers lined up with a normal presser foot. But, I think it’ll do the trick for changing my lil’ niece.

Amy Butler's Changing Pad

Next, since I had some leftover fabric, I thought I’d give the Elfin shoes from the book a go. So, I crafted two pairs of these adorable little shoes. When cutting out the fabric, I couldn’t see how exactly the fabric came together to make the shoe, but the instructions were clear and I had smooth sailing until trying to figure out how to add the second sole. I thought that the instructions could have been a little clearer (or could have had a picture) on where exactly you were supposed to sew. The first time I did it, the seam of the second sole (on the inside) was visible and the fabric did not lay flat against the exterior sole. I had to take it out and retry a couple of times before I figured it out. But, ta-dah! Cute, eh?

Amy Butler's Cutie Booties

Cutie Booties v2.0

Love hurts. Science heals.

It has become something of a tradition at our school for my friend and colleague Deb and I to dress like fools for our students. What can we say, we like molding the minds of America’s youth WHILST embarrassing ourselves.  And we certainly don’t want to leave you out, dear friends.  So, for your viewing pleasure, some of our favorites through the years:

The Disney Princesses

Biking Vikings.

Giddy Up!

(My class pet, Watson, who was not happy with me.)

A few years ago, Deb and I crafted Valentine’s Day shirts to wear for our students on the 14th. We found colorful and anatomically correct hearts on the internet, printed them on iron-on transfer paper and then ironed them on. I wish I still had this shirt so that I could showcase the poor quality of the transfers. After one day of wear, they were rolling off of the fabric. After washing, the were fading and disintegrating. As we found out last night, iron-on transfers have come a LONG way!

We began in the same way, thinking up geeky, science puns and finding (read: illegally stealing) graphics from the interweb. We also wanted a really great font for our wording. We started off looking for “bloody” fonts, as we thought they would go nicely with the gross anatomy theme. As you might guess bloody fonts have some hilarious names–bloodgutter, homicide effect, creeps Ille, solstice of suffering, etc. After looking at all of them and deeming them cheesy, we went with the TrueBlood font. Quirky and odd in that good way.



After printing out all of our great images using my Cannon inkjet printer, we cut them all out as close to the ink as possible. IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are printing anything with words, you need to remember to flip the image horizontally in the printer dialog box. We remembered this the hard way with Deb’s heart. Doh!



Then, all we had left was the ironing. You’re not supposed to use the ironing board. Not sure of the logic there. So, we put a pillowcase down on the glass of my sewing table and used that just to be safe. Three minutes for larger pieces and half that for smaller pieces and you are good to go. Some pieces seemed to take longer, as when we began to peel them up, there was still a lot of color on the paper. In those instances, we just laid the paper down again, and kept ironing. It seemed to work fine.  When you have pieces that lie close to one another, you need to put the paper backing down so that you don’t lift up the color of the adjacent piece.




All in all, it took us about 30 minutes after we finally stopped arguing over the aesthetics. (Read: When Deb finally bowed to Jen’s awesome sense of design.) And, then we had our professional looking products that not only demonstrate our talents but also how much we love our rugrats.



What to do when you get carried away at Costco

I live by myself, but that doesn’t stop me from having a Costco membership. My mom has always made the best cobblers and sometimes I find myself wanting some on a cold night in Minneapolis. But, unless I want to live at the gym I can’t make a cobbler for one person or I will eat all of it and it won’t be pretty. I bought a giant clamshell of blueberries from Costco and decided to put the ramekins my sister gave me for Christmas to good use and make mini blueberry cobblers. I love mini desserts. They make me feel less guilty about eating my favorite food group…sugar.

This is a lot of blueberries for one person!

Mini Blueberry Cobblers

Yield: 3 mini cobblers


For the filling:

  • 1 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/8 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries

For the crumble:

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/6 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/4 cup oats
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 stick room temp butter


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl add blueberries, lemon juice, sugar and flour. Toss to evenly coat the blueberries. Spoon them into 3 ramekins.

For the topping, combine the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, oats and the butter in a bowl with a fork until you get little crumbles. Sprinkle evenly over your 3 fruit ramekins. Place the ramekins on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the tops are browned and crisp and the juices are bubbly. Serve with a big ‘ol scoop of vanilla ice cream.

All warm and bubbly


After yesterday’s antiquing fail, the Beefy Broads (Deb and Jen) were excited to put the past behind us and make antiquing our bitch.

DH and I picked up Deb and her partner, Caroline, and we headed to the Antique Mall in Verona, our old standby.  One of the largest antique malls on I-81, it’s hard not to find something that you love.  Leave it to Verona not to disappoint.  Within 10 minutes of walking in, I found my new craftroom lighting for a mere $32.

My new vintage glass light fixture.

I thought it was simply gorgeous as is……But, wait for it………..

OH MY!!!

Look at it lit up!  It is AMAZING!  Now, I know what you’re thinking.  Jen, you were complaining about not having enough light in your craft room, why buy a light that won’t help?  Hello!?!  Have you seen this beaut?  Look again.  I also found a pair of pinking shears (brand new) for $12, which is a fantastic buy since my grandmother’s aren’t sharp and it costs an arm, two legs, and your first born to have a pair sharpened.  Caroline found a great new pair of eyeglasses for $2.10.  She was even videotaped for a new commercial for the antique mall to boot (while holding  my light — so really, it’s as if I was interviewed, too).  I felt upon leaving Verona that we had more than made up for our antique disappointments of yesterday.

After Verona, we decided to try an antique store that we’d never been to in Lexington, VA – Duke’s.  We were pleasantly surprised.  Although it has about 100 stray cats hanging around the entrance and a ton of rusted junk strewn about the outside, it was a treasure trove.  I found a great, old picture frame that I plan to spray paint silver with blue flowers for my craft room.  Not sure what to frame, though……any ideas?

What shall I frame?

I also found a really beautiful, albeit largey, knit wool sweater.  After a burn test to ensure that it was indeed all wool, it was purchased for $20.  I will unravel it (with reverence for the person’s time and effort who originally knitted it) and it will have a new incarnation.  Again, any pattern ideas?

What will I become next?

Lastly, I found a bunch more sewing notions (buttons & bias) for $0.25.  Caroline and Deb bought a bunch of old books to make picture frames out of.  Even Todd came away with something, a pig picker.  It sounds disgusting, but really it’s just a large chisel for his woodworking.  (As a vegetarian, I needed to have that explained to me before allowing it in our home.)

With 15 minutes until 6pm, we decided to drive another mile to the other large antique mall in Lextington.  We just wanted to see if it was worth coming back to at some point.  Wouldn’t you know, another fantastic antique mall.  We decided to play a game to see who could find something worth purchasing first.  After agreeing upon the rules, we literally took off running through the shop.  Deb and Todd went straight for the tools, whereas Caroline and I split in opposite directions, zig-zagging through the store.  It felt like Bladerunner.

I’ll have you know dear readers, that as I ran I was selflessly looking for additional tools for Todd.  Aren’t I a good girlfriend?  While I didn’t find any worthy tools, I did see a nice wool sweater out of the corner of my eye.  At first, I thought that perhaps I had found another wool sweater to unravel for wool — but upon closer inspection, I saw that this was an Eddie Bauer sweater (one of Todd’s favorites).  Even more amazing was that the sweater was size large TALL.  What were the chances?  Often we cannot even find large tall in actual clothing stores.

So, I grabbed the sweater and ran up to the register.  No one else had found anything.  Todd quickly approved the purchase– and it was sold all within 1 minute of 6pm.  That’s what I call winning.

And the Oscar Goes To….

While this blog was my idea, I have had a hard time finding the time to sit down and write my first post. My lovely sister has been doing the heavy lifting. So…here goes my inaugural post!

Working at a big food company comes with it’s highs and lows. A high for me is getting to talk about things like muffin flavors we should launch (dobule chocolate raspberry chunk, yes please), a low for me is when you do something that just seems like it should be an episode of the Office.

I volunteered to help with our Fiscal 2013 planning initiative.  Organizing the day we realized we need a theme; something to try to make the day a little bit of fun. I’d like to think I’m good at coming up with ideas so my first thought was the Oscars, because after all we were “nominating” the best ideas to work on in the next year. Every one got on board with it pretty fast. And yes the whole thing reminded me a little bit of the Dundy awards episode on the Office. My contribution to the day was to make Oscar shaped cookies. Too bad I decided to do this on a Friday and our planning day was the following Monday. I searched for Oscar cookie cutters online and found one that would have ended up costing $20+ to get to me in time. No biggie I figured I would just make a cookie stencil and use a knife. I free handed the shape and then made my handy dandy Oscar stencil.

In googling to try to find a cookie cutter I came across this blog post from the fabulous Bakerella. I used her recipe for the cookies and icing. The dough was really easy to work with and rolled out really well for me to trace my shape on to. I decided I didn’t need to wow people too much at work and I didn’t make the stands for the statue. I liked that the frosting had a slight lemon taste, but it gets really hard and I think if I made this recipe again I would do just a simple royal frosting recipe.

Dough with my stencil

Awaiting a trip to the oven

A little sprinke of gold

A little gold

Many thanks to the fabulous kitchen store in my neighborhood for having meringue powder for the icing and for carrying gold sugar crystals! Having a good specialty cooking/kitchen store is a must.

The finished product came out pretty well for having no cookie cutter if I do say so myself. So fear not people, if you ever want to make a cookie in the shape of something funny, like a humpback whale perhaps, you can DIY.  People at work were mighty impressed, which is always nice when your cooking gets accolades.

The Antiquing Roller Coaster

Friday after checking out of our hotel, we were super excited to go check out the annual Antique and Garden Show at the Nashville Convention Center (located conveniently right across from our hotel.)  We’d heard from a few fellow-confrencers that it was a good show and the Beefy Broads are always on the lookout for crafty things.  So, we headed over….stopping at a few Nashville landmarks on the way:

Nashville Visitor Center

Kiss a hero? Ummm, yes please.

Oh, the Ryman. Where art thou, Emmy Lou?

Finally, we arrived at the convention center.  And, everything started off fantastically……

Nasville Antique & Garden Show

We were immediately wowed by some of the artistic garden installations.  The first one, right as you walk in, was wild…..These green human forms were hanging over a garden pool.  Upon closer examination, I realized that they were human chia pets.  Way cool!  The flower’s fragrances were also intoxicating.  

Garden Installation #1

Human Chia Pet. I want one.

Surrounding the chia pets, were a bunch of floral arrangements in stumps.  Each had its own color scheme.  Among the flowers were some interesting additions — apples and artichokes.

Flower arrangements

The last beautiful garden installation was called the “Moon Bridge.”  It was really spectacular, as well.  The reflection into the pool below really sealed the deal.

Moon Bridge

We began walking around the vendor maze on an artistic high.  We were chomping at the bit to find vintage treasures.  What we should have noticed when we first walked in, but we were instead distracted by the beautiful garden installations, was that we were surrounded by obscenely rich people.  That should have been our first clue that this wasn’t our gig.  After walking by three booths where every piece was priced at over $5,000, we finally admitted that we were way out of our league.

I cannot describe to you the antique roller coaster low that we fell into.  We had been able to survive nauseating school bus rides and mind-numbing conference workshops only because we knew that this show was waiting for us.  We had giggled into the night about what we’d hoped to find — vintage sewing machines, eclectic knick-knacks, more sewing notions.  What we found instead were stuffy antiques and measly garden representation.  We were dejected.

We got our $15 worth by taking pictures of stuffy antiques that we, or my DH, could DIY.  Here are some of those:

We could totally make that. Price there? $250. Wow.

Sweet wooden bicycle

Great storage buffet...antique meets industrial.

Railroad Coffee Table at Convention, $8500. Same table at Duke's in Lexington, $350. Stuffy.

My favorite of the day.....

We tried to bolster our spirits by telling each other that we would stop at some fun antique stores on drive home.  So, we loaded up the car and rolled out of Nashville.  Unfortunately, we didn’t find any additional antique stores that looked worth a stop.  What we did see was a sign for Dollywood.  And, I don’t know how we didn’t realize it before, but Dolly’s hometown is only 5 miles off of I-40.

As we pulled off the interstate headed for Seiverville, TN, we began seeing all kinds of antique store signs.  Things were looking up.  And then, upon cresting a hill, we saw the great Smoky Mountains before us.  Good God almighty, they are majestic.  That alone was worth getting off of I-40 for.  Welcome back, antique high!  We decided that the first order of business needed to be food.  We were both starved.  With that simple decision, we sealed our antiquated fates.  What we had failed to realize was that it was close to 5pm.  After we finished our “lunch” and pulled up in front of our first antique store (which looked AMAZING BTW–old claw foot tubs and wagon wheels in the front yard, tons of glassware and old gasoline signs in the windows), we were greeted by the shopkeeper turning the “open” sign over to “closed”.  We tried another store and another store, where we were met with the same thing.  Oh Dolly Parton, why hast thou hometown forsaken us?!?  We even payed you homage by listening to “Jolene” on the way in……

We did the only thing we could, tucked our tail between our legs and pointed our trusty steed north.  The whole drive back to Virginia was accompanied by a raincloud, both literally and figuratively.   All of those enticing and mysterious antique stores just out of our reach……We were so let down.  But, the Beefy Broads are resilient and we were not about to give up.  Upon saying goodbye to our rental car and each other, we made a pledge before God and Shaggy that we would antique again the next day AND we would triumph.

Music City, Baby!

This week, I was fortunate to attend an Alternative Education conference in Nashville, TN with my good friend, Deb.  (Side note:  We are known collectively as the “Beefy Broads” by our friends and family due to the large number of DIY projects we have undertaken together.)  We knew we were off to a great start when the rental car company showed us our ride.  Apparently, they’d been trying to give this baby away all day.  But, the businessmen to whom it was offered turned it down from some reason.  Being the forward thinkers that we are, we jumped all over this opportunity.

Beefy Broads Sweet Ride.

To our delight, it got better when we actually got into the car — it came with shag!

"Shaggy", our mascot

We immediately realized that we could not be apart from Shaggy from this point forward.  Thus began a series of pictures that we call “Shag, the forbidden love.”  Here are some of those gems:

Shag, the better State Seal of Tennessee

Yes, I am placing Shaggy somewhere inappropriate. But, it's a could I resist?

Shag. It makes you want to jump.

Don't have a cute baby? Shag.

We felt sure that others surely shared our fondness for the Nissan Cube’s Shag.  We felt that surely others had captured their own unique memories with shag.  We looked on Facebook.  We searched on Loogle.  To no avail.  Apparently, once again, your Beefy Broads are trendsetters, dear readers.  And, you’re welcome.

We ended up driving to Knoxville Friday night and staying with our friend, Jessica.  You know someone is a good friend when they agree to put you up on a moment’s notice and stay up until 12:30 am to greet you.  You know that someone is a great friend when they have a warm, onesie waiting for you.

Beefy Broads, the epitome of runway fashion

While we didn’t get to visit with Jessica for as long as we would have liked, it was fantastic to catch up with our famous artist friend.  We said goodbye to her after a stellar breakfast, in which she too, began to understand our fascination with shag.

Shaggy begins to take over the world.

Now, as you may know, the Beefy Broads love a good road trip.  We seek out adventure around every turn.  So, of course, on our drive between Knoxville and Nashville, we were on the lookout.  What we noticed is that almost every exit in TN boasts a flea market or an antique store.  We felt that the universe was giving us a hint, and so we obliged accordingly by trying to stop at all of them.  Our first stop was Rockville, TN.  The town felt like stepping back into the 1920’s.  There was a soda fountain and a downtown (a block long) that had a cute row of downtown antique stores.  Alas, while we found no old-time goodies, we did get a spectacular view as we climbed some backroad out of Rockville to get back to I-40.  I think this is where we got onto the Cumberland Plateau?

Our next antique stop was Crossville, TN.  Here the stars aligned, the heavens opened and we found an antique store with a vendor dedicated solely to old sewing machines and notions.  Hallelujah.  We parked ourselves on the floor of that booth and probably sorted through bias, lace, buttons, and ribbon for over an hour.  We were like fat kids in a candy store.  We took so long that the owner kept coming by to check on us.  We ended up with a ton of good loot!  This is only about a 1/4 of what I purchased.  What can I say, I’m a sucker for $0.25 notions.

Antique Sewing Treasures

I came to this conference fully prepared to craft.  I brought bags of crafting material (much to the amusement of Deb).  What I didn’t realize was how much schmoozing goes on at conferences.  So much of my precious time has been spent drinking wine (not complaining) and mingling (complaining) that I haven’t gotten to work on my Katrine sweater yet.  😦  I have, however, worked on my Party Lace scarf (more of a mindless knit).

Party Lace Scarf

And right before leaving for the conference, I gave Bunbun (my newest angora) her first real haircut.  Her fiber is fantastic!  She may be the best one yet!  So while we drove up, I spun up a bunch of her fiber.

Bunbun after haircut

Bunbun's fiber


We have learned that there is an Antique and Garden show at the Nashville Convention Center on Friday.  So exciting!  So, we plan to hit that up on our way out of town.  Hopefully, we’ll be able to find some more treasures and provide you with some great pictures!

Vintage Singer’s – Which One?

If you have been sewing for even a short amount of time, you’ve probably come across a vintage Singer sewing machine.  With their shiny black cast iron bodies and gold decals, these sirens are always calling to me as I passed by them in antique stores or caught a fleeting glimpse of them in a Craigslist ad.

Beautiful, old Singer Sewing Machine

The first aspect of purchasing an old Singer is deciding which one.  The old Singer machines all have an array of advantages and disadvantages to them.  So, you really need to first ask yourself what you need in the machine.  Do you need it to be portable?  Do you need to be able to reverse?  Do you want free motion? Do you need more than one type of stitch?

Here is a quick run down of each of the types of old Singers that I researched and their positives and negatives:

Singer 15-91:

Positives:  All metal parts (no plastic!), gear-driven “potted” motor (which means you don’t have to worry about belts wearing out!), sturdy (the body is cast iron), industrial-strength (while it’s not _really_an industrial machine…this baby will sew through layers of  leather, denim, etc.), sews delicate fabrics just as well!, large throat (lots of space between the needle and the machine – so lots of room to quilt), true reverse (a must for beginning and ending seams), electric, feed dogs drop, can free motion relatively well, takes standard sewing machine needles, accessories are easily found on Ebay, can change stitch length and pressure foot pressure, has a light mounted on the rear of the machine, can find them in the $75-up range fairly easily.

Negatives: Very heavy at 29 lbs. (cast iron – read: freakin’ heavy), only straight stitch, no free arm, needle plate usually doesn’t have measurement markings (however, they’re easily added with a sticker), usually you find these babies in a piece of furniture, but they are easily removed and attached to a wooden base to save space, often need to have the wiring completely overhauled for safety reasons.

A beautiful, vintage Singer 15 91.

Singer 15-90:  

Pretty much the same as above except the motor on the 15 91 is belt-driven, instead of gear-driven, which makes them less appealing in my mind.

Singer Featherweight 221:

Positives:  All metal pats, lightweight (11 lbs.) and very portable, true reverse, electric, has embroidery hoop accessory, has fold-up extension of sewing machine bed for extra sewing room, accessories are easily found on Ebay, one variant of the featherweight (the 222) has a free arm, takes regular sewing machine needles, they come in colors besides black (tan, white/green), has a front-mounted light

Negatives:  Only straight stitch stitch, belt-driven motor, cannot sew through layers of denim and other thick fabrics as well as the 15 91, feed dogs cannot be lowered on the 221 (222 allows for this) so free motion quilting is harder, throat is smaller so getting a quilt or large sewing project through there might be hard.

The lil’ Singer Featherweight

A beautiful Featherweight variant

Singer 201:

The positives and negatives of the 201 are pretty much the same as the 15 91.  The only real differences are the position of the light (rear 15 91, front 201), bobbin (15 91 holds more thread because it’s a class 15 instead of 66), hook type (15 91 has a vertical hook that allows for thicker thread and better free motion quilting), and price – the 15 91 is usually less expensive.

A vintage Singer 201

Singer 66 (Red-Eye Decal Pattern):

Positives:   all metal, takes standard sewing machine needles, front-mounted light, adjustable stitch length

Negatives: heavy, belt driven instead of gear driven, straight stitch only, feed dogs don’t drop, not all of these models have a true reverse, it must be mounted in a piece of furniture for it to work properly

Singer Red-Eye 66

Singer 99 (the mini-66):

Positives:  all metal, 3/4 size (so more portable than the 99), it can be used on top of a table or cabinet and does not need to be mounted in furniture,  can be converted back and forth from hand crank to electric (not sure why you’d need to do that…), takes standard sewing machine needles, front-mounted light, adjustable stitch length

Negatives:  still heavy at 22 lbs,  belt driven instead of gear driven, straight stitch only, feed dogs don’t drop, no reverse


So after reviewing all my options, I decided to try and find a functional (and not necessarily pretty) 15 91.  What I quickly learned was that it’s hard to figure out which machines are which from Craigslisters providing a serial number, no model number, and blurry pictures.  So, my next research project was learning how to differentiate between the models.  This will be the fodder for my next post.