Friday, November 1, 2013

The Wife of A Southern Man: Biscuit Update

For even better biscuits, my friend Ann suggested that I try using buttermilk.  After a few tries, I have decided that my biscuit recipe really does deserve a permanent change in this direction.  Since I am a bit on the frugal side I don't use store purchased my husband tells me that "boughten" isn't a real word  buttermilk, but I simply sour my milk as the first step whipping up a batch of biscuits.  It only takes a few seconds and the results are fantastic.  So with out further ado, the mind blowing change to my biscuit recipe is:

Mix 2 TBL lemon juice in 1/2 cup milk and let stand while mixing the dry ingredients.  The acid in the lemon juice will thicken the milk and cause it to clabber some no you didn't just ruin your milk.  Use this soured milk instead of the 3/4 cup regular milk called for in the original recipe.  It makes the biscuits just a bit lighter and improved the flavor. 
And for any doubters, yes Superman approves. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Miles From Where We Started

Downtown Miles City, MT after Monday's snowfall.
Let the adventures in homemaking commence once again!  It's been a long few months, but we are now relocated and settled in Miles City, MT.  There are still a few loose ends to tie up, but we are unpacked and getting into a new routine.  Superman is now working days, so we are also loosing our vampirish ways and enjoying all that the day light has to offer. 




Friday, July 19, 2013

Facebook to the Rescue

After taking nearly a year long hiatus from social networking, I reopened my Facebook account a few months ago.   I rejoined the masses for the sole purpose of connecting to my family back home, but have found myself enjoying several other benefits of the site.  Lately, it seems like Facebook belongs less and less to the young party people and more and more to the more settled homemaker.  Every day I find great posts about cooking, cleaning, and surviving parenthood. 

A few days ago one of my friends posted an article about using dryer sheets for cleaning. For years, I have been using dryer sheets to clean roasting pans with baked on yuck, but it never occurred to me to take that any further. The list ways to use dryer sheets to clean house started with:

 Use in your bathroom. Cut your cleaning time in half. Makes bathroom mirrors and fixtures sparkle. Cuts right through bathtub scum.

I had to try this one.  We live in an old rental who's previous tenants apparently had an allergy to cleaning and I have spent the past 8 months trying to cut through years of soap scum on the glass doors in the shower.  Nothing I tried seemed to make any difference at all, even when I scrubbed until my arms ached.  So this afternoon, I grabbed a handful of dryer sheets and headed into the bathroom.  In less than 10 minutes I found myself speechless as I realized that for the first time I could actually see through the glass shower door.  

With the doors sparking clean, they really looked like they belonged in a Mr. Clean commercial, I started in on the rest of the shower.  The dryer sheets worked equally well on the walls and trays of the shower and was able to get into the little nooks and crannies I usually scrub with an old tooth brush.  Since our tub drains very slowly, the foot goo down there gets pretty nasty and in this area the dryer sheet did prove to be less than ideal.  After a few moments of pushing the scum around with the dryer sheet, I resorted to Comet gel and wiped that mess up in no time. 

No, dryer sheets are not going to replace all other cleaning products in the bathroom, but they will definitely become part of the scrubbing routine.  Now that the baby is asleep, I am almost excited to go back and see what they do on the sink and toilet.  Yes, nice easy cleaning solutions can make me that happy! 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Wife of a Southern Man: Biscuits

Growing up, I thought men lived for homemade cinnamon rolls topped with gooey, melt in your mouth caramel.  Imagine my surprise to meet Superman and learn that he didn't even know cinnamon rolls were suppose to have caramel on top, much less be made at home.  It didn't take me long however to discover that what Southern men live for is biscuits.    Like most of his ilk, my husband would eat biscuits with every meal.  Thankfully, biscuits are much quicker to whip up than cinnamon rolls are.  Although I had to call a halt and cut down on biscuit production when we started going through a pound of butter every week.  Can we say heart attack?

Perfect biscuits can be a bit elusive, but once the secret is mastered they can easily be added to almost any meal.  The true secret to biscuits is in the butter.  It must be BUTTER.  Not margarine or shortening or vegetable oil.  Only real, old fashioned, calorie laden butter works.

 Additionally, the butter must be cold.  Don't even think about warming it up to room temperature and creaming it into the dry ingredients.  Instead, use a sharp knife to cut the required butter into 1/8 inch cubes and crumble it into flour and leavening with clean, dry hands. 

Sissy's Southern Style Biscuits

2 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup cold butter (cubed)
3/4 cup cold milk

Mix together dry ingredients in medium sized bowl.  Crumble in butter until well incorporated (the bowl will look like it is full of pea sized crumbs).  Add milk and knead in lightly to create dough. 

On a floured surface roll out dough into a sheet 1/2 inch thick and cut biscuits out with the mouth of a drinking glass.  For quicker biscuits, omit this step and shape dough into balls by hand then flatten to 1/2 disks.  Just keep in mind that these are what Superman calls "ugly biscuits," but they taste just as good. 

Place shaped biscuits 1 inch apart on an ungreased baking sheet.  Once biscuits are panned, place them in  the refrigerator while the oven pre-heats to 475 degrees.  The cold dough produces light, flakey biscuits. 

Bake at 475 for 12 minutes or until golden brown.  Serve right away (with more butter of course). 

*                               *                            *

As much work as I have put into my biscuit recipe, it is not perfect.  That market has long been cornered by Bojangles'.  If I can ever get my hands on their recipe, then I will claim to make perfect Southern style biscuits.  For now, I just make good biscuits. 

Baby's first meal out was at Bojangles': she slept, we ate.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Wonderful White Sauce

White sauce is deliciously simple and should be a staple in any cooks bag of tricks.  Using a little imagination and 20 minutes, one can create restaurant quality meals at home.  It is a great accompaniment to pasta and chicken of course, but also can be used as the base for cheesy dipping sauce or homemade mac and cheese.  Thickened and heavily peppered it is also what many folks call Country Gravy and will transform last night's biscuits from fossilizing hockey pucks into breakfast (wrap the biscuits in a damp paper towel and microwave 30 seconds to soften). 

Besides it's versatility in flavor and use, white sauce is very easy to create in any quantity desired. Really it is more of a formula than a recipe.

1 Tbs Butter -to- 1 Tbs White Flour -to 1 cup milk 
Easy peasy!  That said, I am going to present my first tutorial along with my recipe for Easy Peasy Pasta.   It is a great summer weight pasta that is quick, easy and incredibly tasty. Uncharacteristically, this recipe has no onion or garlic, but derives the majority of it's flavor from the bacon.  As a one dish dinner, this meal feeds 4. 

Easy Peasy Pasta
2 Tbs butter
2 Tbs white flour
2 cups milk
4 strips turkey bacon
1 cup chopped fresh spinach
1 cup fresh or frozen sweet peas/ English peas
salt and pepper to taste
pasta prepared to package dirrections

Melt butter in a large, non-stick pan.
Add flour and work into butter using the bottom of the spoon to create a smooth paste.
Slowly pour in a small amount of milk and work the same way as the flour. Once a smooth paste is obtained the remaining milk can be stirred in with out worry. 
Stir sauce frequently while it thickens.  For this recipe the sauce will need to thicken to nearly a gravy consistency to make up for the water that the vegetables will release when they are added.  Salt and pepper to taste.
Cook bacon until firm and chop.
Add chopped spinach and peas to sauce and heat through.
Stir in diced bacon and remove from heat.  Serve immediately over hot pasta.
There it is, easy peasy just like I promised.  This dish is inspired by a fancy $12 dish I ate at a Miami Beach bistro a few years ago.  It lacks nothing in taste compared to the original, but feeds 4 people for right at $3.  For that kind of savings, I will gladly do the dishes myself.  

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Wife of a Southern Man: Sweet Tea

Here in July, I know we all are feeling a bit patriotic and all warm and fuzzy about the big American family.  Yet as someone who has moved around the country a bit, I can tell you that this big messy family has as many differences as it does likenesses.  Truthfully, that is part of what makes us so beautiful.  Nothing drives it home more than being a northwestern girl married to a southern man.  Our differences in culture and speech allows for a lot of discovery and a even more laughs. 

For me culinary differences has been a great source of adventure.  I am constantly learning how to prepare new southern style dishes and a few of them I have become quite proficient at.  With that in mind, I came up with the idea of a weekly series of posts entitled The Wife of a Southern Man.  Since these southern folk (Superman included) drink sweet tea like us northern folks drink coffee, maybe even  a bit more enthusiastically, I thought that a few pointers on that front would be a great place to start.  No tea will not make or break a marriage, but I sure love the reaction I get every time I hand my husband a glass of perfectly brewed sweet tea. 

The instructions for brewing a good batch of tea can be found every box of tea bags ever manufactured, but there are a few additional hints for consistently perfect sweet tea. Trust me, I learned these the hard way: through trial and error. 
Have a picture set aside for tea only. Tea picks up flavors easily and can become tainted very quickly. (If you use a pot instead of a kettle for boiling the water this applies again.)
For ideal southern style sweet tea, use 1 1/2 cups sugar per gallon of tea. Be sure to stir in sugar while tea is still nearly boiling hot.
Make a fresh batch every 2-3 days, if it lasts that long. Old tea gets cloudy and will develop sludge.
Always serve sweet tea ice cold. 


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Go To Goulash

As much as I love slow food and cooking from scratch, with a new baby in the house I find myself relying on quick meals a few nights a week.  This goulash is similar in concept to Hamburger Helper, but is almost homemade and costs merely $1 more for three times the yield.  Not to mention it tastes a whole lot better and has a recognizable ingredient list. 

This happens to be one of Superman's favorite meals and it dresses up enough to serve to last minute dinner guests as well: just add a salad and garlic toast.  Serves 4-6. 

Go To Goulash

1 lb ground chuck
28 oz diced tomatoes with juice
28 oz cut green beans, drained
1/2 cup onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

1 lb pasta noodles, prepared to package directions

In a large pan, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add onions and garlic, cook until just tender.  Crumble in ground chuck and cook until no pink remains.  Drain off any excess fat remaining in pan.

Stir in tomatoes and green beans, then cook over low heat to warm through.  Add hot pasta and stir well to incorporate.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Serve hot.   

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

You've Got Your Own Bed

Co-sleeping is probably the only early parenting issue Superman and I were unable to come to an agreement on before Onyx was born.  We both knew she had to be breastfed and cloth diapers were just a given, but we had widely different ideas as to where our little girl would sleep.  Each of us had opposite experiences and opinions.  After co-sleeping with four babies, I couldn't imagine laying my baby down in an empty crib to sleep alone.  He had never shared his bed with an infant and insisted that he was not about to start.  When he set the play pen up next to our bed I didn't argue, but in my heart I hoped never to use it. 

On our first night home with the baby, Superman saw my exhaustion and sent me to bed with her. That night I hoped he had resigned himself to sleeping with baby in the middle at least for a few months.  I had only slept a few hours when I realized that my husband was laying on the other side of the bed stiff as a board and wide awake.  Groggily, I asked him what was wrong and the disgruntled man informed me that he was unable to sleep for fear of rolling on our daughter.  A few minutes later he packed up his pillows and moved to the couch.  At the time I was too tired to do anything other than promptly fall back asleep, but when I woke up in the morning to find him gone it was all I could do not to start crying.  I still hoped it would get better, but the next night was the same and just before sunrise I found myself trying to transfer Onyx to the play pen so my husband could come back to bed.  I say "trying" because he had no sooner settled himself back into the bed when she started crying and he headed off to the couch once again. 

If nights were bad, days were worse.  It seemed as if the baby and I were taking refuge in the bedroom while Superman holed up in the living room, leaving the kitchen and bathroom as a shaky no man's land.  While we hadn't so much as argued over the new sleeping arrangement, it seemed as if we were at war.  The distance was excruciating.  I wondered if I had been na├»ve to think that I could be a good mama and maintain my relationship both.  As much as we loved our new baby, both of us just wanted the us we knew to come back and the only way to get there was to reclaim our bed. 

Night three was exhausting.  I knew that I had to teach our little girl to sleep by herself, but I am not the kind of mama who can let her baby "just cry it out."  Over and over I nursed Onyx to sleep only to have her wake up yelling the moment I laid her down.  We paced the tiny kitchen, snuggled on the couch, listened to music, sat in front of the computer; yet no matter how deeply she seemed to sleep it just wouldn't last.  Finally when I was just about to my breaking point, I laid her down and she simply sighed.  I held my breath just waiting for the insulted screams, they didn't come.  I tip-toed to the bathroom just hoping for enough time to relieve myself, but the silence remained long after I had reemerged and stood over the play pen expectantly. 

Finally, I slipped into the living room to retrieve my husband.  He was skeptical too and we both held our breath while climbing under the covers. With a strange mixture of tiredness and relief I curled up against him and I could feel the tension of the previous days melt away as he wrapped his arms around me.  "That's better," he mumbled into my hair and sighed.  We were back where we needed to be and thank God, the baby was asleep. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Ames Family Breakfast

Living in my husband's home town, he frequently finds the opportunity to show my a glimpse of his childhood.  The other morning I decided it was high time to show him a glimpse of mine and set out to create one of the ultimate comfort foods of my childhood:  sourdough pancakes. 

Not trusting myself to eyeball the process and come up with a satisfactory "dough" I once again hit up the internet for some direction.  Seriously, what did we do before internet searches?  This recipe had all the right ingredients, so after quickly jotting down the proper quantities of each I headed back into the kitchen and got to work.

I made the doughs just as the recipe instructed up until the moment they went on the hot griddle.  Then instead of using a large scoop of batter, I opted for a much smaller scoop and spread it thin like my Grandpa would have done.  While the doughs were cooking fried several eggs over easy and a stirred up a small batch of Mapleine syrup for a complete George Ames Special:  served with the eggs sandwiched in a stack of doughs. 

Quite honestly, I was in breakfast heaven.  The sourdough pancakes came out just like the ones I remember from my childhood.  Superman wasn't quite so impressed (like me and fried bologna sandwiches), they just didn't taste right to his southern pallet.  He ate them politely, then asked for "real pancakes" next time.  He even turned down my offer for seconds ***SHRUG*** which worked well for me since I wanted the last stack for myself anyway.  I polished off every single one of those doughs and even forgot to save one to eat for an afternoon snack all rolled up with peanut butter and jelly. 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

A Quick Loaf

A few days ago, I peeked in the refrigerator and realized that **GASP** we were out of bread.  Now as the Queen of Carbs I just couldn't let that plague my kingdom, so I took immediate action.  With my sourdough starter still on late pregnancy hiatus in the fridge, I scanned the internet for a simple white bread recipe.

After briefly considering a batter bread, I settled on this Rich White Bread recipe that requires no kneading and is made in the food processor.  It looked quick and easy, and since it only yields one loaf there was little commitment.  Since a few reviewers labeled it as "too dense" I added 4 tsp vital yeast gluten, but otherwise followed the recipe exactly. 

The process of making the recipe was as painless as it looked and the resulting loaf rose nicely (which is always a pleasant surprise with quick breads).  Once baked the loaf was as beautiful as any baker could ask for and had an enticing aroma, but we somehow managed to resist cutting into it until the following morning. We both enjoyed it as toast for breakfast and shared what remained of the loaf with my aunt and uncle over a country dinner.   I must say that this recipe produced very tasty bread and I will keep it on hand for future carb related emergencies.  It is a bit dry, so next time I will slightly increase the butter content. 

Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Nine Month Project

This past week, my domestic excursions have been a bit limited.  I was in the midst of wrapping up a very important project that started last fall and ended this Wednesday morning (10 days excruciatingly behind schedule).  Of course, I am talking about the process of carrying and giving birth to our precious little girl. 
With my Superman and very pregnant

After four pregnancies one would think they had it figured out, but this experience was a completely different ride than any I've had before.  From the first weeks when I experienced morning sickness for the first time to the last week when I found myself laboring for nearly three times longer than in the past, this pregnancy was one of a kind.  It constantly turned me this way and that, leaving me with no idea what to expect. 

I take that back, there was one thing I did learn I could expect with this pregnancy: the love and understanding of my precious husband.  Every step of the way he was there with me, infinitely patient through the ups and downs, and totally on board with three am Icee runs.   Even when my labor wanted to spend three weeks starting and stopping at random intervals he patiently endured, reassuring me of his continual support. 

Mall walking and belly bound to induce labor naturally

At nine days overdue the midwives called the hospital to schedule a medical induction, but at the same time implemented some natural methods.  Believing that my labor was starting and stopping due to Miss Onyx shifting away from my cervix during contractions, they bound my belly with a sheet to limit her mobility.  They also suggested Suki's Blends Labor & Delivery tincture, a product available from one of our local herbalists.

A long mall walk and several hours later I started my sixteen hour labor that included a rather uncomfortable drive to Chapel Hill during the morning commute. Superman was incredible patient while maneuvering traffic and risking severe injury to his fingers in my grasp. Back labor in the front seat of a car is not something I recommend adding to your bucket list. 

One hour after reaching the Women's Birth and Wellness Center we were holding our little lovie.   Although I had not planned a water birth, I ended up having her in the bathtub when the midwife suggested it to help ease the discomfort of back labor.  The amount of relief it provided was absolutely amazing and I will be asking for the tub to be filled our next time around. 
Miss Onyx at two days old (her Papa wants you to know that I ruined this photo and she did not vomit all over herself)

This project wasn't quite what I expected when it begin, but it was incredibly successful and I learned a lot along the way.  The most exceptional lesson I was able to take from this whole experience wasn't taught by the midwifes or through the actual pregnancy process itself.  It was taught by the tenderness and care of my husband.  I learned what it is to truly be loved. 


Sunday, June 23, 2013

Hounds Tooth Boots

41 weeks pregnant and I am just too tired to do much of anything. I set the pieces for a little skirt out on the ironing board earlier this week and have done nothing more than look at them.  It's a simple project, but still too much.  Dishes and laundry are the extent of my activity this week....oh, and one batch of chocolate chip cookies to satisfy a killer craving.  Luckily, I do have a back up post to share.
As soon as I found out I was pregnant, I just had to sew something and came up with these little boots.  Luckily I am having a girl, so they will be worn!
In one afternoon, I made the pattern and two pairs of boots.  The pattern was created with MollyChicken's tutorial as a guide.  I followed her instructions for assembling the booties, but for future applications I will use my own method of attaching the lining (instructions to come if and when that happens).  

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Hearts To You

"I'm home alone all night and having contractions.  What should I do?  Hummm...sewing sounds like a good way to pass the time."

This simple little upcycle dress with its matching headband took about two hours (counting bathroom and popsicle breaks).  The base of the dress was a long sleeved onesie handed down from my nephew (either he didn't wear it long or my sister is a laundry diva) and the skirt started life as a pair little girl's leggings. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Not Miss Muffet

I love this versatile little design I came up with most recently.  It can be worn as either a sundress or a jumper depending on the season and sews incredibly easy.   The fabric was left over from Halloween and I picked it up for fifty cents a yard back in December.  I used the same tulle as for the first dress and once again, I fully lined the garment. 

Of course, I had to add a little bit of fiber art to keep things interesting.   

Friday, June 14, 2013

Let Him Eat Cake

Superman doesn't have much of a sweet tooth, but he does have a weakness for cake.  This past week, I indulged him with a White Sour Cream Cake slathered in Orange Butter Cream Icing.   Uncharacteristically , I followed the cake recipe exactly and used my basic butter cream recipe as a base for the icing.   The humidity was pretty high and started getting to my icing before I could get it in the fridge, but even messy it tastes amazing (if I do say so myself).

Orange Butter Cream Icing

1/2 cup butter (softened)
zest of 1 orange
4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
Using a mixer blend the butter, orange zest, and powdered sugar in a large bowl.  Add orange juice and mix until creamy.  If icing is too dense, add more orange juice 1 tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached. 
Since I originally planned to use marmalade between the layers of cake, I only made one batch of icing.  When Superman nixed the marmalade idea, I didn't feel like making more so I scrimped on the inside layer.  For best results, when laying and frosting double recipe. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

More on Sourdough

After posting what I thought was a fairly thorough article on sourdough starter, I started thinking about all the little details I take as a simple matter of course when working my "doughs."  Since I want the best out come possible for anybody who attempts a starter, I decided to expand this topic a bit and add a few more tips. 

-When feeding the starter, use room temperature to lukewarm water.  Hot water can kill the culture and cold will slow down its activity. 

-To keep the sides of the sourdough crock clean, use a sharp knife to scrape the sides when you stir it down in the morning.  The dried scraping will fall into the crock and be incorporated back into the starter. These dried bits end up on the side of the crock because after feeding the bacteria works on the added ingredients and will raise the content level slightly before settling back down. 

-Always stir the starter gently.  It is a living thing and does not like to be radically disturbed.  One thing I always remember about my Grandpa was how slowly and methodically he maintained his starter.  Everything was done carefully, properly, and with love. 

-A forgotten feeding or stirring down is not the end of the world.  It's not a good habit to get into, but on occasion it will do little to harm the starter.  Just resume regular care as soon as possible.

-Any sign of mold or black scum on the starter is a red light.   Throw it away, sterilize the crock, and start over.  Between workings the starter will separate with the ticker starter below and a light brown liquid on top, this is normal.  Any nasty growth is fairly unmistakable and is usually accompanied by an unpleasant odor. 

-After spooning out the starter required for cooking, use a just laundered dish rag moistened in hot water to clean any starter that may have dripped on the rim of the crock.  Do not let the rag come in contact with the remaining starter. 

Grandpa and I, the last time I saw him. 
***Please note: since my last post on sourdough starter, my sweet hubby bought me a proper sourdough spoon. 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Just Like Grandpa's...

My kitchen is starting to smell like sourdough!

Sourdough flap jacks were the comfort food of my childhood.  My grandpa made them every morning for over 50 years and even when he traveled his crock of starter rode along with him in a red Coleman cooler.  I have kept a starter myself off and on most of my adult life and now that I am once again settled in to a domestic existence, I just had to get one going again. 

Growing a starter is a process that to initiate takes 5-7 days.  It also requires adhering to a few simple rules.

  1. Use clean, preferably seamless, metal utensils.  The spoon in the photo is NOT ideal because of the rivets and seam that can collect bacteria you wont want added to your starter. 
  2. Keep loosely covered.  I use a square of clean, light weight cotton secured with a  rubber band.
  3. Don't neglect it.  Feed your starter every evening and stir it down every morning.  If you are not going to be using it at least every other day, store in the refrigerator and remove 12 hours prior to planned use. 
  4. Keep the sides of your sourdough crock clean. 
With those few things in mind, the only materials required to get started are a glass jar or crock with a loose covering, a clean metal spoon, flour, and water.  Any kind of flour can be used in a starter, but for the initial week I prefer rye since it is less likely to mold than other varieties.  After the bacteria has taken hold and my starter is going well, I switch over to all purpose white flour. 

Day 1:  Mix 1 cup of rye flour with 1 cup water in your very clean container.  Cover loosely and set aside for 24 hours.

Day 2-6:  Stir down and feed your starter 1/2 cup of flour and 1/2 cup water every evening.  Over the course of this week you will start to notice first a sour smell coming from your starter and then see some bubbling activity.  The consistency of the starter should be like thick pancake batter and the ratio of flour/water can be adjusted to obtain this. 

Day 7: Use 1-2 cups of your starter today!  Stir it down early in the day and remove what you want to use. Good first uses for sourdough include biscuits and bread.  I usually give two weeks before attempting flap jacks. 
Tonight feed your starter as usual, but switch to white flour if you have been using rye. 

A well cared for starter can live indefinitely and with all the fun recipes to try there is little chance you will grow tired of it's use.  

Friday, June 7, 2013

Homemade Wet Wipes

I have always been a cloth diapering mama, but this time around I have decided to use cloth wipes also. Might as well, I'm already washing diapers!

These 8x8 squares are simply cut from soft flannel using pinking sheers and then layered in a Rubbermaid container with a tightly closing lid.  After using up all the flannel scraps in my fabric stash, I purchased an additional yard (the pretty pink batik pictured) and was able to make 20 wipes.  When I am ready to start using them, I will wet them with a simple solution of baby oil, baby soap, and warm water. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Her Heart Belongs to...

her Papa, of course!
Every little girl should be privilege to a serious case of hero worship. Rather she calls him Dad, Daddy, or (like at our house) Papa, she deserves to have the man of her dreams wrapped right around her finger. This dress is just as much for Papa as it is for Onyx.
For this epic first dress I chose a very classic 1950's silhouette with dark touches for a fun, rockabilly look.   It is fully lined with hand stitched hems and custom details.   
The main fabric of the dress is a cotton/spandex blend from a re purposed dress I wore only once and the lining is cotton gauze.  When I designed the dress I didn't plan to add a collar, but my design consultant (Papa) decided it needed one.  I painted tiny skulls on a remaining piece of the lining fabric and used an over layer of tulle to blend the bright pink with the overall design.  Heavy cross stitches hold the narrow collar in place and add to the rockabilly theme. 

For the key element of the dress, I painted a stylised human heart and the word "Papa" on white cotton broadcloth.  The applique is muted with three layers of black tulle and stitched on by machine. 
A rhinestone zipper adds a fun finishing touch and is stitched in by had for finesse.  All the hand work made this a labor intensive garment, but I couldn't be happier with the outcome!