Recipe Review: Real Deal Cookies (Against All Grain)

Coooooooooooookiiieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeees.

Something tells me that the Cookie Monster wasn’t thinkin’ “paleo” when he said that. But these days? I sure am.

While never positively diagnosed with celiac disease, a gluten intolerance has frequently made itself very well known to me. I used to be able to cheat on the weekends and have a bite of gluten… a bite? Sorry, a plate! I would have some Chick Fil-a nuggets, a bbq sandwich (on a REAL bun!), a cupcake, etc. Only the weekends though! The biggest side effect I’d feel was sluggishness and sometimes body aches. Was it wise to do that? No, but old habits can die hard until they have to be put to death.

Some weeks ago, my husband and I went to get some BBQ with some friends. I know that a lot of BBQ sausages contain gluten, but I thought I’d be okay. I wasn’t. Not to mention, the previous night, I’d added some jalapeno crisps to my salad and had IBS-like symptoms the next morning. After this situation, I knew that I couldn’t even cheat with gluten anymore! One of the catalysts to pursing paleo, I decided that I needed to learn more methods of making gluten free treats. I usually replace the all purpose flour in a recipe with gluten free flour, but those gluten free flour blends often contain potato and rice flours. I also wanted to use alternative sweeteners. I like coconut sugar and would sub that cup for cup as well, but I really wanted a new method of doing things. More about that later.

I discovered this cookie recipe in Danielle Walker’s “Against All Grain: Delectable Paleo Recipes to Eat Well & Feel Great”. The first time I made them, I added some leftover pecan pieces. The cookies were different than the textures I was used to. They were really light, so much so that my husband jokingly called them ‘air cookies’. I only wished they were a little more moist & chewy. The second time I made them, I added a little more palm shortening and omitted the pecans. I also used a mix of dark chocolate & mini chips from Enjoy Life. Baking time was decreased by 30 seconds as well. This was a better batch! I love how the coconut sugar mimics the smell and taste of brown sugar.

I think this recipe is a great base to play with. Maybe some cocoa powder for some chocolate cookies? Peppermint extract for mint chocolate cookies? Macadamia nuts and white chocolate? Unsweetened coconut? Definitely something I am planning to get creative with!

All in all, I do recommend this recipe and look forward to manipulating it. She does have a 2.0 version of this recipe in her “Against All Grain: Meals Made Simple: Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, and Paleo Recipes to Make Anytime” book that includes tahini (not sure how I feel about that!) and only uses egg whites. Her notes state that she wanted to create a nut free, coconut free alternative that everyone can enjoy. As I do have friends with more severe allergies and intolerances than myself, I will try my hand at these in the future.

Recipe Review: Paleo Paprika Garlic Shrimp (Per Chance to Cook)

I came across this recipe a few weeks ago on Pinterest while looking for some paleo dinner ideas. It looked pretty yummy – shrimp, garlic, coconut milk, paprika… how could it NOT taste good?

A few months ago, during a visit, my mom had given me some shrimp that she’d frozen. I’d been looking for a good recipe that would make me actually WANT to peel and devein (a*k*a remove the yuck!) them and so I came across Per Chance to Cook.

Now, I always always ALWAYS have paprika. Not just one kind either! I usually have Spanish smoked paprika and regular paprika. Of course this is the one time that I have barely 1/2 a teaspoon of either one in my cupboard. How does that happen!? And I wasn’t about to make a run to the store! I just added that to my grocery list and kept it moving! But, let me say – this recipe was so good that I cannot imagine how much better it would have been with that right amount of paprika! I was concerned initially that using a whole head of garlic would be overwhelming, but it was perfect. I added a little ghee to the mixture and added extra coconut milk because my husband and I both enjoy sauciness in our foods. To keep it paleo, I used some arrowroot (instead of cornstarch) to thicken up the sauce a bit.

I served it over some cauli-rice that was sauteed in coconut oil. I added granulated garlic, ghee, kosher salt, fresh cracked black pepper, and light coconut milk to the cauliflower and let it soak it all up in the pan. Perfect compliment to the shrimp! I think that I will add some spinach next time for color and for nutrition and to round it out. Our home is never lacking in spinach (of all the things, right?) so I know I’ll have some on hand for that.

It was a delicious dish! My husband gave it the eyebrow of approval as he ate. I couldn’t help but smile as I watched this man eat cauliflower! The same man who turned his nose up at the thought of it now eats cauli rice regularly. I love it! The flavors were not overpowering and everything tasted great together.

Note: This recipe is clean as well as grain free, gluten free, dairy free, and paleo & contains healthy fats from the coconut oil and milk as well as great nutrition from the cauliflower. Adding broccoli or spinach adds to the nutrition and ensures you have a well rounded meal!

Summertime (& Beyond!) Goals

bitmoji-20170602125601I often wish I had a job where I was off for the Summer! As a former preschool teacher, I appreciated those few months that I had to just have some really good downtime. While I miss that, I do not miss the pay. I remember driving around Austin and seeing the marquee signs of fast food restaurants, advertising starting pays of more than I was making as a preschool teacher! But anyway – Summer is coming! As I think through the Summer and what I would like to have accomplished by its end, I think of sewing, reading, and health.

Last Wednesday night, I was chatting with two close friends about reading. We were discussing books we’d read lately and how they are becoming better readers. Because being a better reader is something I want to grow in, I made a small list of books I would like to read this Summer. I am a frequent visitor at my local library branch and have these books on my virtual bookshelf. I have “Rise” in my possession and have started it already. “Brave New World“, “The Explicit Gospel” , & “Fahrenheit 451” are on the way, being transferred from other branches.

My list for the Summer consists of:

“Rise” – Trip Lee
“Brave New World” – Aldous Huxley
“Fahrenheit 451” – Ray Bradbury
“The Explicit Gospel” – Matt Chandler
“1984” – George Orwell
“Amusing Ourselves to Death” – Neil Postman
“The Screwtape Letters” – C.S. Lewis
“Til We Have Faces” – C.S. Lewis
“The Roots of Endurance: Invincible Perseverance in the Lives of John Newton, Charles Simeon, and William Wilberforce” – John Piper

What do you have on your Summer reading list?

Another thing I want to get done this summer? I’d like to continue to grow in my sewing skills & sew at least 10 garments. At least! Sometimes I wish I could have dedicated days to sew, but I have to sew when I get a moment. In one of the sewing books that I have read recently, the author suggests sewing everyday, even if it’s just 15 minutes here and there, and eventually you’ll be done with that new garment. Right now, I am in the process of dropping 20 – 30 pounds so I am focusing on outer garments like this Simplicity 1318 pattern & items that will adjust along with me like a nice maxi dress. I dread making a dress for my current measurements & doing necessary adjustments just to not have it fit me in a few months! So – that is the plan for now. Hopefully, by the end of August, I will be sewing some dresses. I have my eye on completing several patterns, especially some from “Gertie’s Ultimate Dress Book” (soooo many that I want to make!)

Do you keep a sewing to-do list?

That leads me to my health & fitness goals. A couple of years ago, I was running & exercising pretty regularly, losing weight & feeling pretty awesome in the process. I had surgery in May of 2015 which sidelined me for some time, then a series of events happened – injuries (patellar tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, hip pain) allergies, moving, and the list somewhat goes on! I have had a hard time being able to exercise consistently which bothers me. I felt so much better when I weighed less. With the injuries & such, the weight came back on and it’s been hard to get it to go away again. My husband and I have goal weights we want to reach and have come up with an ultimate reward, so in addition to the reward of having good health, I have a monetary reward in view. I often look at it like this – the next few months are going to pass whether I am active or not. Either I will weigh the same, weigh more, or weigh less. I’d much rather weigh less & be healthier! I want to be a much better steward of the health & body that God has given me. And so that is my goal for the Summer as well – consistent exercise, weight loss (& maintenance of that weight loss this time!)

Do you have any Summer goals? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

All (Back) on Deck!

We’re back on one blog!

I decided to put everything back on one blog for several reasons:

  1. Keeping up with 2 blogs is something I cannot juggle at the time.
  2. I learned that there are companies called “JGR Creative” and didn’t want to deal with the potential headache down the line!
  3. My life is varied & so it makes sense that my blog would be. I am a Christian, I like to make things, I am a wife, and I am learning in life all around. Why can’t this all be on 1 blog? :-)

With that said, you will find some new content! There is a new page called “Why I Create” as well as some posts imported from my other blog. Also, feel free to check out my Instagram – jgrcreates.

My Latest: Fabric, Books, Feet, & More!

Fabric from Austin Creative Reuse
I learned about ACR on Instagram, following a user with the name kmakesthings. She posted how she’d donated some fabric there, and of course, I visited as soon as I could! Fabric is often just $1 per yard and you can find SO many types of fabric. I have purchased cottons, knits, denims, chambrays, crepes, rayons, and so much more. I have also purchased notions & tools such as bias tape, rings & sliders, buttons, a 45m Fiskars rotary cutter, bobbins, rotary blade replacements, and more. It has been so economical for me to get some of the things I need as well as some beautiful fabric! While Hobby Lobby & Joann’s have their place, the price point is a bit much for me currently (I love to budget!) and it makes it easier for me financially as a beginning garment sewist.

Bias Tape Maker Set
biastapesetIn one of my books I purchased recently, these were recommended. I’d seen information on them on several blogs (such as Make It, Love it) along with instructions, but seeing that I had never used bias tape, I didn’t see the need for it at the time. Now, as I am making various garments, I am seeing the need for it! Sometimes it is difficult to find that perfect color, so why not make your own? It is easy and fast and saves you so much money in the long run. And per the previous post, I am all about saving some money!

32 Piece Presser Foot Set
presserfeetI saw this on another blog (So, Sew Easy) and I must admit – I wasn’t buying the hype at 1st. It seemed too good to be true, especially since one foot can start around $10 and go up from there. I posed a question about it in a Facebook sewing community that I am part of and several ladies attested to these! I was surprised. The only downside is that many of the sets have the feet names in Chinese from what I understand. Mine hasn’t arrived yet (should arrive today! YAY!), but I will be sure to share my findings when my set comes. Also, if you order them and need a legend, there’s a YouTube video for that: Which Foot Does What? Some of the feet included: 6mm round rolled hem foot, edge stitch foot, gathering foot, adjustable bias binder foot, and so many more! Now, it is important to know that the feet are for a low shank machine. If you are not sure what this means, check out this link: Will This Presser Foot Fit My Sewing Machine?

The Magic Pattern Book  (Amy Barickman)
I found this book at Half Price Books while looking for something else. This book, in one word, is amazing. There is an overview of methods, tools, and notions. Seam finishing, pattern marking transferring, and so much more are included in the beginning. I think it is pretty thorough especially for a beginner as you prepare to create from the patterns included (or whatever patterns you may own!). It’s also a great wardrobe starter including patterns for skirts, dresses, coats, tanks, jackets, sweaters, and other pieces. It comes with a CD that you use to print off the patterns and the URL for pattern printing is also in the book. My only drawback is having to print out each of these patterns. Some of the patterns I viewed on the CD have 92 pages. NINETY. TWO. That is a lot of ink and a lot of paper! I do wish the patterns were delivered in another way. I likely will be taking my time working through the patterns in this book specifically because of that reason.

Clotilde’s Sew Smart (Clotilde Lampe)
Another Half Price Books find! She details how to make your home sewing look more professional. Needle type selection, hem & seam finishes, and more. There are SO many invaluable tips & tricks in this book! I recommend it for any beginning sewist / seamstress. It will become your go-to as I can definitely see it becoming mine.

Dressmaking Step by Step (Alison Smith)
I bought this one from Half Price Books the same day that I bought The Magic Pattern Book. Patterns are included in this one as well, but they are traceable and must be blown up. Another additional cost on top of things like notions & fabric, so like the MPB, my usage of the patterns will be a slow process. However, the book is very thorough, also discussing how to mark patterns, darts, stitching, etc.

All in all, I am extremely pleased with my latest purchases and am looking forward to seeing how they help me grow in my sewing. Hopefully this list is helpful for you! Have you had any experience with any of these items? I’d love to hear about it!

Pattern Review: Simplicity 1064

(Click images to enlarge)

Pattern Link:
http://www.simplicity.com/simplicity-pattern-1064-misses-tunics/1064.html

Review Link:

https://sewing.patternreview.com/cgi-bin/readreview.pl?readreview=1&ID=134093

Pattern Description:
Misses’ easy to sew tunics with length variations and tie belt. This versatile mock wrap tunic pairs well with leggings for an easy on-trend look. Make it with a long sleeve, short sleeve or sleeveless with a front flounce.

Pattern Sizing:
I cut a 12, but actually feel like I could have gone down to a 10 to make it a tad bit more well fitting in the top.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
Yes!

Were the instructions easy to follow?
Very!

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I didn’t dislike anything major. I liked that it was very clear with instructions and there were no guessing games involved. Personally, I wish the cut were a little higher in the bust area, but it is nothing that a tank or cami cannot solve. Also, the darts did not seem necessary with this particular pattern. I also really love the hem. That is what drew me to this pattern from the start!

Fabric Used:
I used a poly interlock from Walmart. The exact description: Shason Textile Poly Interlock Floral Print.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
None.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
Yes, I plan to make it again! This one is view A. I plan to make B and C, and a C with short sleeves. Not a fan of flounce, so not doing D.

Conclusion:
This was a very easy, quick sew. It took me the course of a few days due to other obligations, but I love it! Cannot wait to make it again. Great wardrobe builder!

Understanding & Dealing with Pattern Ease

gertie-easeWhen it comes to patterns and sizing and fitting, it can be tricky. An important thing, I have learned, is pattern ease. Gertie, creator of the most wonderful retro patterns (!), has a great article written several years ago on just that – understanding pattern ease.

This helps me a lot as it assists me in knowing how a garment will really fit once it is completed. With so much to learn with pattern making, this article was great to come across!