Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Originally at the beginning of November I had planned to do a whole Mandy's Bytes series of Thanksgiving recipes but here we are, tomorrow is thanksgiving, and I procrastinated too long. This weekend I may do a late Thanksgiving edition when we go home to Oregon for our celebration. For now though I have a few beautiful Thanksgiving treasuries that our aprons have been featured in.

This first treasury is my personal favorite because it showcases the cooking side of Thanksgiving dinner, and the title is so appropriate. I'm never dined out for Thanksgiving, and I don't plan to start anytime soon.
Our That 70's Apron was featured in this treasury which has a primitive feel well suited for Thanksgiving.
Lastly we were featured in this bright treasury which embodies the warmth of the Thanksgiving and the whole holiday season.

As for us, Cami and I are very thankful for all of your followers, and for the success we've had since starting this shop over a year ago. Without the support of all our family, friends, customers and followers we certainly wouldn't have made it so far with this blog and our shop. Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Drapes of Wrath See TMBG and Jonathan Coulton!

So you might have taken a hint from our Guide to PAX that we're nerds, it's not really a secret, but I hasn't come up too much here on our blog, but I hope you're ready for a little more nerdity. Last week Cami and I saw Jonathan Coulton and They Might Be Giants and the Showbox SoDo, and it was amazing! Apologies for the low quality cell phone pictures.

Jonathan Coulton at the Showbox SoDo
Jonathan Coulton was the opener for TMBG and he was fantastic, in fact I wished he'd played a few more songs, but hey that's how it goes with openers right?

If you play video games you might know who Johnaton Coulton is, he's probably most well known for writing Still Alive, the song written for the ending credits of Portal. He's also the mastermind behind the song Code Monkey, and my favorite (which didn't get played at the show) Re: Your Brains which is a song in business letter form from a zombie to his former coworker who is still human. Strangely enough Jonathan Coulton was at PAX too, but there was a million mile line to meet him.

John and John at the Showbox SoDo
However, the main event of the evening was our favorite nerd rock back of all time, They Might Be Giants. 
Thier music pops up in the most unlikely of places such as the theme song for Malcom in the Middle, Tim Burton's Coraline, and 2 well-knows songs from Tiny Toons; Istanbul and Particle Man (currently under the tyrannical oppression of YouTube, hence no animated version...)
However, of our favorite songs we were lucky enough to hear "Why does the Sun shine?" and Ana Ng. Sadly "They'll Need a Crane" was not on the set list.

Of the newer songs our favorites were "Marty Beller Mask" (their new drummer truly looks like he is having a seizure while he is playing!) and "You probably get that a lot".  The pièce de résistance was getting to touch Flansburgh's guitar (for the 2nd time!).  This is a good time to note that John Flansburgh, at 51 years old and weighing what appears to be as much as Cami and I put together has hands DOWN more hippity-hops on stage than most 18 year olds. Additionally, John Linnell age 52, even with his crooked teeth and mismatched ears is still as cute as he was in their videos from the 80's - a fact that we attribute to his intense eye contact with everyone within about 10 feet of his keyboard (because he is more or less blind without his glasses. We are all amorphous blobs to him).

One last shot of two very happy girls, status post BO assault by a bunch of sweaty, middle-aged nerds! NO REGRETS!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Drapes of Wrath is One Year Old!!

That's right! Today is Drapes of Wrath's one year shop opening anniversary, and to celebrate not only am I going to share some of our memories here, we are having a sale! There are two ways you can get your savings, use coupon code: ONEYEAR10 for 10% of your entire purchase -OR- use coupon code: 1YEARFREESHIP for free shipping within the USA.
Looking back I can hardly believe it's been a whole year since we decided start our shop. And the precise moment we decided to sell aprons specifically evades me, but here we are so we must have done something right. I thought we'd look back on some firsts from our year.

It seems fitting to begin with the first apron we ever made. We knew from the start that we wanted to do at least a fair portion of our aprons with up-cycles materials. This apron we made from a pretty Hawaiian style shirt and wrap skirt set. The embroidery was gorgeous so that's what we brought to the forefront on this apron. We made it completely from the up-cycled set, no new materials at all. It's still one of my personal favorites. (And yes that is me modelling the apron, we didn't acquire a dress form for quite some time.)

Another milestone for us was our first sale, and oddly enough it was not on Etsy from our shop. When we first started out we also posted quite a few of our aprons, with links to the Etsy shop, on Craigslist in the Seattle area, and that's where our first sale originated. The best part is that I was able to get this picture, a lasting remembrance of the moment, because the apron was delivered in person. (Even if I do look incredibly short...) This apron meant a lot to me since the strawberry you can see on the pocket was hand embroidered by yours truly.

Unfortunately not all of our memories can be positive, in the world of the online sales there will always be problems. This apron represents our first real test of customer service, it is our first casualty of the United States Postal Service. It was shipped and then marked delivered, and weeks after we come to hear from the customer that it never arrived. We may never know what happened to it, but I just hope that someone out there is enjoying it. We've been lucky to have few problems like this one, but every mistake we've made has helped us to constantly improve our methods.

It has been a crazy year, and none of it would have been possible without our family, friends, fans and of course, our customers. Thank you Mom and Dad for teaching us how to sew and craft, and for drilling into our heads that what we can dream, we can accomplish. Thank you to all those who have lived with us and tolerated our cloth hoarding and constant sewing mess. Thank you to everyone out there who put your faith in our work by purchasing an apron for yourself or someone else. And especially thank you to every single one of you who reads this blog, or shares our aprons with your friends on Facebook, or told a friend of a friend where to find our shop, it is you guys that keep people coming to our shop.

Thank you so so much, and here's to many more years of aprons! 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Goodwill to Good Lookin': Linen Scotch Broth Recipe Dishcloth

Up until we found the linen calendar dish cloth that we made the That 70's Apron out of, I didn't really know that these linen decorative dish cloths were a pretty big thing. But they make such cool aprons that I've been keeping an eye out for them ever since. And I'll be honest, a lot of the ones I find are pretty hideous, like the one this one was paired with when I bought it (something to do with coffee), but I had to buy it to get this one, because this one is so damn cool.
I would have bought this based on colors alone, it so vibrant and fun. I went through a long punk/goth phase of fashion in high school, and my dad is very involved in genealogy (we're part Scottish), so I have a secret love for tartan plaid. And I don't know what it is about the veggies, but I love them, they're so cute.
For the process of making it into an apron, we wanted to preserve as much of the original design as possible, so any pleating or darts were out of the question. We went with a simple butcher style apron design, and added additional chartreuse linen around the skirt to make it more full.
Since we were adding this extra fabric, it was easy to do a simple pocket across the front, as I like to call it a kangaroo pocket (baby kangaroo not included). And because Cami has an obsession with ric rac, we added some around the edge of the dishcloth to give it a extra pop of color.
Plus Size Up-cycled Linen Dishcloth Apron
I love the way it turned out, and I'm glad we found a good match for our yellow linen, too, it's a very unique color but it compliments the blues and greens in this apron very well.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Goodwill to Good Lookin': Green Plaid Linens

Todays Goodwill to Good Lookin' project is one that I'm really excited about. The up-cycled item is the green plaid shown in this photo, which is a top sheet that we picked up at a thrift shop.
We picked it out originally because the colors were very crisp and there was no fading evident, which is often the deal breaker on using up-cycled linens. That and because Cami's favorite color is green. The problem was, once we got it home, nothing else we had matched it. We've had this fabric for months, and we would never remember to bring a swatch with us to the store, and it clashed with everything!
Last week when we used our awesome coupon to stock up on fabric we got this awesome leaf print. On a whim I pulled out this green plaid just to see if it
Green Plaid & Fall Leaves Apron
might match and lo and behold it did! I was pretty surprised, it was a total coincidence, but it turned out looking great.

It's really nice to bring fresh inspiration to a piece of fabric that has been sitting around forever, when you've almost given up hope that you'll ever use it. We've got a couple new man aprons in the works, too and I'm excited about those. It's definitely been too long since we had one in the shop.

Do you have a piece of fabric or other supply that has you stumped? Tell us about it!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Fall Fabric Sneak Preview

Yesterday Cami and I took a trip to the fabric store and got a killer deal stocking up for fall, thanksgiving, and of course Christmas goodies. I really love the color themes of fall and we got some very cute fabrics, and some basics to match vintage and up-cycled pieces we already had. We've got a lot of idea in mind and I'm really excited to get started bringing them to life. In the mean time, here's a little sneak peak of what you'll be seeing in our shop soon.
Up-cycled Green Plaid Linens and Retro Leaf Print Cotton
This leaf print is from the fabric store, and I was so thrilled when we got it back and realized that it matched these green plaid linens. We've had them sitting in our stores for quite a while now, and I was convinced we'd never find something that matched.
Vintage Turkey Trim, Cotton Leaf Print, and Burnt Orange Linen
We were given this awesome vintage turkey and pumpkin trim from our grandma last spring when we visited our family down in Florida, and I have been waiting to use it ever since.
Green Wrench Print and Black Canvas
I don't know if this really fits into fall themes, but I love this print and I think when it's finished it would made a good Christmas present.
Retro Leaf Print, Burnt Orange and Mustard Linen
We've had that mustard yellow linen hanging out for a while, too, like the green plaid, it just isn't easy to match. But if any season is perfect for mustard, it's fall and I love this combo of yellow, orange and the leaf print.

Keep an eye out in the Seasonal section of our shop for fall aprons, and you can still find out Halloween aprons there as well.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Sandwich Bag Freezer Smoothies

I recently made a pretty exciting purchase while browsing the kitchen wares isle at Ross, there was a nice Black and Decker blender sitting there all alone, for just $15. In hindsight it seems a little strange that it took me so long to buy one, since they're so very useful. Naturally to celebrate the awesome blending opportunities I also bought a huge tub of plain yogurt and two big bags of frozen fruit for smoothies. On my first attempt I made almost an entire blender full of smoothie trying to balance fruit and milk and not kill my blender.
So I was very excited to find this idea via Pinterest for bags of smoothie goodies ready to just pop in the blender. Not only are these a perfect way to save time on preparation, you don't have to worry about yogurt and fresh produce going bad if you go smoothie-less for a week. The first step is to make yogurt cubes.
My boyfriend helped me out on this step with the genius idea to go piping-bag-style with the yogurt. So I dumped a huge tub into a quart freezer bag and snipped the end off to squeeze even amounts of yogurt into the ice cube trays. Stick these in the freezer and wait a few hours.
Originally I bought frozen strawberries and frozen peaches, because they were extremely cheap at Grocery Outlet. To these I added fresh bananas and kiwis and frozen blackberries, there's a world of possibilities out there.
It's not exactly easy to measure chopped and frozen fruit, but you want roughly 1 1/2 cups in each bag, and 3 yogurt cubes. Each bag is enough for two smoothies, just dump into a blender and add milk or juice until you reach the consistency you like.
I did combinations of blackberry-peach, strawberry-banana, and strawberry-kiwi. I even had one bag that ended up strawberry-blackberry-banana because I ran out of strawberries and bananas, but it was eaten right after I made it. It was clearly the weakest member of the herd.
This post in entered in the Pinterest Challenge: Round 3, you can vote for it here between Oct. 28th and Nov 3rd.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Where Have I Been, You Ask?

Sick, still sick. As you may recall from about two weeks ago I mustered enough energy to make Apple Cake even though I was sick. I thought I was on the up and up, I made cake, so I must be getting better. Unfortunately as you may also recall from this post, I am a pediatric home health nurse. I work day shift, which means that every Wed-Fri I spend 7 hours in an elementary school (aka germ cesspool). As a result I have been feeling crappy for pretty much the last two weeks straight, even spiking a 100.4 fever. So I hope you can forgive me for not blogging.
Purple Chiffon Spiderweb Apron
Today I wanted to celebrate with you guys a little excitement, one of our Halloween aprons has been featured in three treasuries in the last two days! How cool is that?
This is an awesome collection of Whimsicle Halloweenery from the April's Army team.
I love this bunch of cool and creepy stuff, especially that bloody bowl, spooky!

This last one is just purple for the sake or purple, which is great, because I love purple!
I never get over the sense of flattery and what an ego boost it is that someone else, most times a total stranger, like our work enough to put it in a treasury. And maybe I should just take it as a compliment to my photography skills, but even that is a boost when I'm feel sick and congested. So thanks very much to everyone who's featured our work, it really means a lot.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Occasional Vintage: Hazel Hues

Normally I would have titled this post a "Weekly Vintage" but then I realized that it's really not fair to call it weekly if I don't do it every week... None the less, here is my latest find for our vintage shop. When I saw these I had to get them, it's a set of 70's ceramic corn dishes.
Set of 4 Ceramic Corn Dishes
Genius! How have I never heard of this idea before? Perfect little plates just the right size for corn on the cob, and I'm always down for some 70's brown and cream glaze. These would be a great decoration item for Thanksgiving, even if you don't use them for some delicious corn on the cob, slathered in butter... mmmm.. But I digress, these lovely dishes were also featured in a beautiful treasury which highlight pretty much the only fall color we were missing: brown.
Another treasury with a harvest theme feature our Stalk of Wheat Mug. After living on a hazelnut orchard for 10 years, I still have lots of fond (and some not so much, heh) memories of harvest time, so I really like this one.
I still haven't decided on a Halloween costume for this year, but I've been doing a lot of inspiration searching on Etsy and Pinterest. We'll have more Halloween aprons coming out this week in our shop, including a few more sexy designs, I'm excited to get them posted. I'm also excited to go eat some more of the delicious apple cake I made yesterday. Who needs real food?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Mandy's Bytes: No Cinnamon Apple Cake

I know I promised this post to be yesterday... but you'll have to forgive me because I've spent my first two days of a four day weekend with a cold. So I was too busy having a pity party about being sick to bake a cake yesterday.

The original recipe for this cake was one I found on A Whisk and A Spoon, I made some slight adjustments this time after making it last fall as well. My favorite part about this apple cake is that it doesn't use cinnamon! Cinnamon and apple are such an overdone combination, so this recipes use of vanilla instead is a nice change.
No Cinnamon Apple Cake
aka Fresh Apple Cake with Brown Sugar Glaze
- 3 cups flour
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 3 cups chopped apple
- 1/2 cup tightly packed brown sugar  - 3-4 Tbsp butter
- 1/2 tsp vanilla                                       - 1 Tbsp half and half

The first thing I do when making this recipe (besides preheat the oven to 350 degrees) is to chop up the apples, because it's the messiest part, and I like to get it over with. I used honeycrisp apples this time because, well if you've ever tried them you already know, and if you haven't tried them, you should. They're amazing. I actually only ended up using two apples to make three cups chopped, but obviously this will depend on the size of apples you use. You can also add chopped nuts to this recipe if you like, the original recipe calls for pecans or walnuts. In a medium bowl, combine all your dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Mix these together with a fork and set aside.

"Foamy" Eggs
In a large bowl you will now need to "beat the eggs until pale yellow and foamy." Now in the original recipe they suggest that this can be done either with a mixer or a wooden spoon. Big hint: DON'T try to beat eggs with a wooden spoon. I don't know what kind of Hulk-like upper body strength the person who wrote this recipe had, but trying to make eggs foamy by hand with a wooden spoon sucks! Of course I was much too stubborn to give up and transfer over to my mixer, resulting in eggs that were bubbly at best.

Once you eggs are nice and foamy, thanks to a mixer, you will add in the oil and vanilla. Fortunately these are easily mixed in with a wooden spoon. To this mixture add in the dry ingredients from the other bowl. Stir the dry ingredients into the liquid until the flour just disappears. The resulting batter will be very thick and, coincidentally, look quite a lot like applesauce.

Now you can stir the apples, and nuts if you choose, into the batter and mix until they are evenly dispersed. Mine ended up very wet, I think because of the apples being so juicy, but you'll be thankful later when you cake ends up super moist and delicious.

You can make this cake either in a 13" x 9" sheet cake, two 8"-9" rounds, or three 8.5" x 4.5" loaf pans. Whichever you prefer, grease it with butter or cooking spray, and spread the batter over the pan using your wooden spoon or a spatula. The dough is pretty sticky, so it needs a little coercion to get into all the corners.

The cake will need to bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown and the edges begin to pull away from the sides of the pan. About 5 minutes before the cake is done baking you'll want to prepare your glaze. In a medium saucepan combine all of the glaze ingredients: brown sugar, half and half, vanilla and butter. The original glaze recipe is actually double what I have listed here, but in my opinion it was just too rich. Bring the glaze to a boil and let cook for about 5 minutes. When the cake is done, take it out of the oven and immediately pour the glaze over the top. Use a spoon or spatula to evenly distribute the glaze.
Pre-glaze Cake
Post-glaze Cake

Let the cake cool completely before serving. This is important for two reasons: 1. the glaze is very hot (hot sugar=burnt mouth) 2. the apple chunks are also very hot (hot juicy apple chunks=burnt mouth). You get the idea, you won't be able to enjoy the cake if you singe all the taste buds off your tongue with the first bite. Believe me because, being the impatient type, I'm speaking from personal experience.
Once the cake is cool, dig in! It is moist and sweet, but not too rich, and the edges have a perfect amount of crispness. I imagine it would also be great served with some vanilla ice cream on the side. This cake will be a hit, and is not too difficult, for a yummy fall dessert.

Friday, October 7, 2011

T.G.I.F. + Giveaway Winner!

Thank god it's fall! You see what I did there? I bet you though I was going to say Friday, and well.. that too, haha. Fall is one of my favorite seasons, and I'm enjoying it so far, but this last week and a half lasted forever! I worked five days on, one day off, and four days on, TGIF indeed. So in the spirit of enjoying a lazy Friday evening, tonight's post is going to show off some of the beautiful fall treasuries we've been featured in this week. The colors and ideas that are going around are just lovely.

This first treasury highlights the bright yellow, rich oranges and deep reds of fall. It was curated by Karen of Facets Jewelry, a fellow Washingtonian.

Our next featured treasury showcases, as the title states, the Stunning Reds of fall. This treasury is by Christie, a fellow member of April's Army, who runs the shop Sophisticated Lady Jewelry.

Last but certainly not least, is this gorgeous collection of purple hues for fall, my personal favorite items are the purple glass pumpkins. SqaureJane created this treasury, and is also a fellow April's Army member. Go team!

Tonight's post does have another, arguably more useful, purpose, which is to announce the winner of our giveaway sponsered by AnOptimisticCynic.

 Congratulations to Michelle from Aisle 3!
I promise tomorrow I'll have a delicious fall recipe for you, just to tease you it involved apples and caramely goodness.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Our Sewing Pegboard: Round Two

Last month, after the drawn out process of preparing and mounting our peg board, I wrote a nice long post about how we did it and declared the pegboard project "done." But as you can see from the picture at the end of the post, I was kidding myself, we were far from finished, the whole middle was blank! I realized that I really had not planned out what all should go on it, and where things should be placed, so it took me a while to mull over what would be most helpful.
Now that it actually is finished I've procrastinated taking more pictures, so shame on me. But now I present to you documented proof that it finally became the wonderful thing we had hoped for! Before it gets all messy from the holiday season....  And really, I'm hoping that having the pegboard will eliminate most of the messes that used to occur while we were working before.
My personal favorite parts are the thread racks. I do all of the serging on our aprons, and having all the threads I use frequently literally right next to me is a lifesaver. Before they were in three different plastic cases, which were terrible, and as a result the threads mostly got thrown in our catch-all "supplies bin" where I would have to dig them out from the next time. So I'd say we've improved on that area. Along the bottom edge are small bins that hold everything from needles to extra sewing machine feet and all of our small tools for machine maintenance.
The regular thread rack is great for Cami too, since her old thread box was just as bad as the ones for our serger thread. But Cami's biggest problem with our old digs was never being able to find a pair of scissors (or other sharp tool of choice). So now she has hooks for the fabric scissors, regular scissors for snipping threads, and our good rotary blade. She also has the quilting ruler within reach, and a bin where she likes to keep the binding to be used on our current project, and the case of bobbins is right next to the thread racks.

Up top we have all of our ribbons on a dowel for easy access, as well as a set of jars that hold our buttons. To tell the truth we really don't use that many buttons, but I just love the way they look and hey, it's my pegboard, so there!

We also have a larger bin that holds all of our colorful pens and card stock for writing thank you notes and care tags, as well as our fabric marking pens and pencils. Next to this bin is also a hook for our single hole punch.

Lastly I also wanted to show off our new fabric organization, we used to keep all of our fabric in large Tupperware bins, the kind that are everywhere this time of year. They're great for storing decorations. They are, unfortunately, not very good for storing fabric that you need frequent access to. No matter how often we folded and organized, they were constantly being pawed through in search of this or that fabric and were always a total mess. Our solution was to use these simple closet organizers that hang from the rod. Not only is it much easier to keep our colors separated and well folded, you get a lot more inspiration from an open display of fabric than from staring at a plastic bin, that's for sure. And that what is all comes down to, isn't it? Inspiration. How can you expect to create inspired work in a workspace that doesn't enable your creative process? You can't.

Tell us about how you make your workspace inspired.
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