Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Yarn along and possibly a stash busting update

This week, I was really hoping to have finished my penguin project.  I really really wanted to finish them in February, as I self-imposed a deadline on myself.
Penguins in various stages of completion...
 I have 6 nearly done, although none have a beak on them yet...
...and I have the parts for two more (and to finish the nearly done ones).  I am currently working on the last two penguin bellies.  I had thought to make 24 of these for an advent calendar for my sister but these 8 took up my entire ball of black yarn.  Who knew?  So, as part of the stash busting challenge...
they sure worked,  but I thought there would be more of them.
I'm putting them away for a little bit, because my sister was right...I do get bored of making the same thing over and over.  I will take a break from them and come back.  

Oh, the pattern is this one by Linda at Natural Suburbia.  

The book is "New Treehouses of the World"  by Pete Nelson.  I picked it up at the library because it looked interesting and the boys and I have spent hours going over this book.  It has amazing pictures of amazing treehouses, like this:

 I thought it was a greenhouse, but it was built for communication with outer space.  I'm not kidding.
This is one of my favourites, because the second floor (the second floor of the treehouse!!!) has 4 beds in it, with lamps and drawers and it just looks fantastic (unfortunately I couldn't seem to get a picture of the picture).  If you ever see this book, check it out.  I promise you will be amazed!  Some have hydro, and running water, and wood burning stoves (in a treehouse!!!)

Anyways, hop on over to small things to join the Yarn Along fun, and check out Creating a Family Home just in case the stash busting update is Wednesday too.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Crafting on...

Twice in a row now, I don't have anything for "Using what I have to make what I need".  I seem to be spinning in circles lately, getting distracted by everything that "needs" to get done "right now".

Having said that, I will join Frontier Dreams for "Keep calm, craft on".

 The Green Man mug I worked on this weekend.

 S really likes it, even though it isn't done yet.

The only thing about using the studio at the college is the amount of time it takes to get something back.  It will be 3 to 4 weeks at least before this one comes home finished.  I am looking forward to it.  I  worked on another mug too, that looks like an eyelet fabric

It is based on this fabric...
Do you see it?  I cut this piece of fabric from a ballet costume I had when I was a child...I have boys, I don't think I will be needing the costume any time soon.  It was a skirt with a pair of bloomers underneath.  I have another piece for my bathroom curtain.  OOOH, does that count as using what I have to make what I need?

And for those of you who join me on Tuesday, there is still a little time to use the discount code for my etsy shop.  15% off purchases excluding shipping until the end of the month for my blog readers as a "grand opening sale".  Use the code GRAND2012.  For those of you who read this daily, I apologize for the broken record...I just wanted to catch those who come weekly.

What are you "crafting on" this week?

Sunday, 26 February 2012


On Saturday, our local nursery and greenhouse hosted an alpaca show.  N and I went to spend some quality time with these adorable creatures:
 I love the colour of this one above.
 The one with the face in the hay ate the whole time we were there...at least an hour and a half.
 N is loving these little ones...they were born in August.
 The one above was my favourite...just look at that face!
 This little guy above was born in November...N loved him too.
 ...but he was really smitten with this one...the friendliest one there, I think.

One of the women there showed N how to use a drum carder, which he thought was pretty neat.  And she gave him the carded wool to take home and make something.  He hasn't decided yet if he is going to make "another" ball for the cat, or try something new.  

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Sandwich Wrappers

Now...Sandwich wrappers...for my Stash Bash.
I have been making these sandwich wrappers for years - originally just for my kids and myself.  Then some of the teachers at school wanted some, so I gifted some.  Then a few of the kids wanted some, so I made a few more.  This past week, I decided ours needed refreshing and I still had some material on hand so I made a few more.  I had thought about putting some of them in my etsy shop, but when I did a quick search, I realized that there are tonnes of them out there already...who knew?

They are easy peasy to make...

Cut squares of vinyl and squares of  cotton fabric into the same size...I like 11" x 11" but we have some smaller, right down to 8" or so for snacks.  With right sides together, serge around the edges leaving about 4" open in the middle of one side.  Turn right side out.  Pin your opening closed and sew around the edges at about 1/16" from the edge...on my machine that is right where the groove is to line up my fabric, so that is what I use as my guide.

Or...cut two squares (one of vinyl and one of cotton).  Put wrong sides together and sew about 1/8" in from the edge.  Then, pin some double folded seam binding around your outside edge and sew it into place.  That's the first picture at the top...

Or...if you don't have any seam binding...cut your piece of vinyl to the size you want your finished wrapper to be.  Cut your cotton so that it is 2" bigger each way (if your vinyl is 8" x 8" your cotton is 10" x 10").  Lay your cotton right side down.  Center your vinyl right side up right smack in the middle of the cotton.  Now fold over each edge of the cotton 1/2" and then 1/2" again.  Pin in place.  Start with the two parallel sides, and then do the two other sides to get nice corners.

Ta-La....all done.  I am going to make a few with some nylon left over from the year I made raincoats for the boys (yep...the year that there was not a single boys raincoat to be found in the city to fit my boys) to see if they are more durable cuz no matter how many times you say "DO NOT PUT THESE IN THE DRYER" they end up in the dryer.

The snack bags I made are lined with the nylon so I imagine that it will work just fine.
So for today...the stash bash...
8 sandwich wrappers, done...oh and not to worry...these are for me to take my lunch to work...I will not be sending my boys to school with these in their lunches :)  and a few for giving to the teachers at the end of the year.

Join the Stash Bash fun over at Crunchy Catholic Momma today.

Edited:  I forgot to include how these close up...thank you to the reader who commented and pointed that out.  The boys use a rubber band around theirs once it is all closed up like an envelope.  You just need it to hold down that last flap really.  I have seen them before with a velcro closure, but that doesn't work for us because the items inside are never the same size so we would need a million different sizes.  When I want to be fancy, I close mine up with a piece of kitchen twine and wrap it up like a present.  I have also, in the past, sewn a ribbon into the middle of the back (just tack it in place really) and you can use that to tie it up like a package when it is all wrapped up, but with the usage ours get, I don't think it would last very long that way....Plus, the boys don't like to take the time to tie it...a rubber band is the best solution for our family.

I'm also going to link up to Creative Friday on Natural Suburbia.

Linking up with The Backyard Farming Connection's permanent link up

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Versatile Blogger Award

About 2 weeks back or so, Debby from cooking up a storm in a teapot awarded me the Versatile Blogger Award.  Thank you Debby!  Now it is my turn to pay it forward.

So, here is what I am supposed to do:
1.  Thank the person who gave it to me and link to their blog.  Done, see above.
2.  Share 7 things about myself.
3.  Pass this on to 15 new to me versatile blogs.

OK, step 2...7 things about myself.

1.  I love good food.  My favourite food groups are waffles, cookies, strawberries from the garden when they are still warm from the sun, a good cup of hot chocolate, tempura crab sushi,  and I eat "dessert" with my bedtime snack (usually a cookie, or a piece of chocolate, or some dried fruit).

2.  I love to dig in my garden.  When I am in a lousy mood in the spring/summer/fall, I just need to get out there and dig around for about half an hour, and everything is just fine.

3.  I am terrified of cancer.  I am terrified of my kids getting it mostly, but really, anyone I know.  It is just so horribly frightening and seems to be ever more common than it used to be.

4.  I have too many hobbies, and I think I have a bit of a tendency to go crazy with them.  I usually have multiple projects on the go all at the same time.  I am working on it.

5.  My dream is to have a farm some day, with bees, and ducks, and sheep or alpacas, and a huge monster of a garden.  I want to try to grow wheat to last a year.  I want to try to grow flaw to spin and weave into cloth big enough to make something even if it is just a coaster.  I have big goals, but don't know how to make it a reality with the price of land the way it is around here.  I want to build our own furniture with wood we chop down ourselves, and sleep under warm quilts.  I want to be an old-time pioneer.  For now, I do what I can in the city.

6.  I am boring, but I know it.  My idea of a great night is having a good dinner at home with the family, some crafting time, and falling asleep with my library book (because magically, the cleaning up and  chores would do themselves, you know).

7.  If I could go anywhere for a trip, I would visit the east coast of Canada, go on an Alaskan cruise, or possibly, if I ever want to get on a plane again (unlikely) visit the UK.

And now...to pass the award on to 15 new to me blogs that have a mix of recipes, crafts, gardening, family, etc...

I had a bigger list, but this last week, a bunch that I would have given it to already got it from someone else.  
So, I am going to add a few that are not new to me, but may be new to you:

There are others I would add, but they already got the award...but they are on the sidebar of blogs I read.

If you have some you would like to share...leave a comment below.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Making what I need - a recipe

So Tuesdays is usually "Using what I have to make what I need" day here on my blog.  Well, tonight, what I needed was dinner on the table...so I thought I would share a recipe.

Let me start off by saying that I love egg rolls.  However, I do not love frying food.  So, my solution...baked egg rolls.

Once again, my recipe is a guideline...after all, it's about using what you have, or what you like.

2 cups mushrooms, diced
3 celery sticks, finely diced
2 heads baby bok choy, finely sliced
2 green onions, sliced
3/4 lb bean sprouts
Chinese 5 spice
sesame oil
soy sauce
wanton wrappers, spring roll wrappers, phyllo dough...whatever kind of wrapper you have

Put about 2 tbsp oil in a pot/ large pan/ wok.  Saute the mushrooms until they are almost cooked through.  Add the celery and continue to saute until they are soft.  Add the bok choy and green onion.  Saute about 1 minute.  Add the bean sprouts.  Stir.  Sprinkle on a little soy sauce.  Stir.  Sprinkle some Chinese five spice over the top.  Stir.  Sprinkle a little sesame oil over the top.  Stir.  Add whatever flavour you like in your egg rolls.  Stir...you see where I am going with this.

Let it cool for a few minutes.

Put a good whopping spoonful of the filling in the middle of your wanton wrapper.  You want to have it laying out like a diamond.  Fold it up like an envelope, sides in first, then top, then bottom.  I like to rub a little water on the edge when I fold up the bottom to get a nice good seal.

Continue until you run out of filling.  Lay them all out on a cookie sheet lined with a silpat liner.
You could use spring roll wrappers instead if that is what you happen to have, or even phyllo dough.  I have made these little pockets with phyllo dough before and they have come out lovely.

Ok, once they are all lined up on your cookie sheet, brush on a little olive oil...a little goes a long way with these.  Flip them over and brush the other side.  My brush was MIA so I just rubbed it on with my fingers.  I used a little less than 1 tbsp of oil for 12 egg rolls.

Bake at 450 for about 10 minutes... Flip...bake them another 10.  It is the bottom that gets golden, so just keep them in there until you like the look of them.

They come out nice and crispy, just like a fried egg roll, without the frying.  We had it with rice and lemon chicken, but any stir fried veg is nice with it too...that's what we do in the summer when we have all that nice fresh stuff.


Thursday, 16 February 2012

Building a well with some cookies

The boys' school has decided it is going to run a series of small fundraisers to build a well for a community in, I believe, India.  The have had a "hat day" where the students get to wear a hat in class if they pay $1.00.  They have a few other things planned, all for $1.00.

Tomorrow, they are having a bake sale...with items ranging from 25 cents to $1.50...so, tonight, I am making cookies.  Chocolate Malt Cookies.  This is one of my all time favourite cookie recipes.  It is from this book...
...from 1985.  Don't you love vintage cook books.  I will show you some images from my favourite page, and then I will share the recipe.

Yep, uh-huh...that is a doll making the gingerbread cookies.  Seriously, I love vintage cook books.

OK, so the recipe:
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour (I use half all purpose, and half whole wheat)
1 cup instant sweetened chocolate flavored malted milk powder (I use Ovaltine)
1tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter (I use about 3/8 cup)
1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed (I use 3/4 cup, lightly packed)
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup undiluted evaporated milk
1 cup chopped walnuts (which I omitted as there is a nut allergy at the school)

Sift together the dry ingredients.  Set aside.
Beat butter, sugar, egg, vanilla until fluffy.  Beat in milk until smooth.
Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients.  Stir in nuts, if using.
Refrigerate at least 1 hour, covered.
Drop by rounded teaspoons, 2 " apart on lightly greased cookie sheet (or silpat liner).
Bake at 350F for 10 - 12 minutes until set but not browned.
Remove to wire rack to cool completely.
It says that it makes 4 1/2 dozen cookies, but I beg to differ.  Tonight, I made small cookies and it made 72 for a double batch...so 3 dozen per batch.

I had forgotten that they had to go in the fridge for an hour, so while I was waiting, I licked the beater I made little flags for the cookies:
using these stickers for the printer...they are address labels:
Avery 8160 if you are interested.  I just lined up the edges so that is was kind of looped in half, put a toothpick in the opening, and finished folding them together.  I actually tried printing them in colour first but they look much better in black and white for some reason.

They will be packaged 2 in each paper cupcake wrapper (kids will be touching this stuff, so I thought it would be much more hygienic to have paper wrappers than have kids pawing all over the cookies - oh, you may not know that about me yet...I am a germ-a-phobe!  A big time, gross me out, I can't believe you are going to touch/eat that, germaphobe).

Like this:
Ta-La!  Now, if you will excuse me I am off to eat some cookies tuck the kids into bed.  Good night all.

Sometimes you just feel fancy

...or otherwise could be called "in which I spend way too much time on a bookmark"

In general, I am not a very fancy person.  I don't where fancy clothes.  I don't have fancy things in my house.  My garden is almost strictly functional rather than for "landscaping".  But once in the while, I find myself spending an insane amount of time on an every day item to make it just simply over the top.  This week, I did just that.

This is my new book mark.  It is gigantic.  I made it to hold the page in the book I was using for learning cables (see yesterday's post if you wish).  It is 15" long...and beaded...
This is the top.  It has three rows of beads.  Hold on, I think I have a more close-up view...
This is the bottom...
Ok, here is the top.  There is a row of dangly bits in the center, and then a loopy kind of row on each side.

and here is my very sad attempt at showing you how to make it.

I had a tiny piece left from my kitchen curtains.  Fabric that I love.  Fabric that I thought would be too small to make anything useful with, but I kept it anyways.  So I cut a rectangle, folded it in half, sewed around the edges.  Then, I strung on the beads.

I started with the middle row.  Just string the beads onto your needle in the order that you want them.  Top off the row with a seed bead, then string back through the row the opposite direction...all except your seed bead, which will hold everything in place.  Then stitch back through your fabric and do the next row. 

For the loopy rows, I strung on the beads for each loop, and placed a stitch where I wanted the loop to end, and kept going along both sides.  I took me well over an hour and a half to make this bookmark,
but isn't it fancy?!?

So, although you can see by the size of it, it didn't make much of a dent in my stash...but, it was stash busting just the same (the beads are left over from a bracelet I made for a friend a few years back).
Please come on over and join the stash bash fun at Crunchy Catholic Momma.

And speaking of fancy...it is time for Three Things on Thursdays.

I have 6 of these green goblets.  We use them for grapefruit (as here) or fruit salad, or whatever, when we are in a fancy kind of mood.  And for "feasts", warm water and a lemon wedge as finger bowls.

So, three things:
1.  Whenever we use them, N calls whatever is in them the "appetizer" (except when they are finger bowls, although they have both been known to skip the finger bowl part and just drink the lemon water).  He sets them on the table, and is just thrilled to be eating his "appetizer"...even if it was part of his supper anyways.
As I said, we are not fancy people, so a real and true appetizer does not make a frequent appearance around here.  It is enough just to get the dinner on the table most days, yes?

2.  I love them because for years, I imagined them as Tasha Tudor's finger bowls from "Becky's Christmas".
These finger bowls were a part of every holiday.  They were of thick green glass, and after dinner everyone wet the tips of his fingers and ran them around the edges of the bowls, making thereby wonderful singing vibrations without which Becky would have considered a Christmas or Thanksgiving dinner incomplete.
Note:  Mine do not make "wonderful singing vibrations".  They are just pretty.

3.  I once found another set identical to this, but in orangey-yellow at a vintage shop while I was looking for something else.  For $1.00 a piece.  It took every ounce of my will power to leave them behind (we are working on living with less "stuff", right?).  I have never been back to that particular store because I don't think I would be able to leave them behind a second time on the off chance that they are still there.

Enjoy your day everyone...will it be fancy?

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Halted in Progress Yarn Along.

It is in fact Tuesday night, but I am going to pretend it is Wednesday morning...  and get my post ready to join Ginny at small things for another round of Yarn Along.

Moving on to a new cable this week.  This is as far as I got on it...the pattern was in a library book which I had to return today, so I am on hold.  Not to worry, I have purchased the book, and it is in transit, and should be here in a few days so I will be able to move on.

The book in the picture is Brian's Return, which apparently is the last in the series.  I had read Brian's Winter, and knew that I had missed Hatchet (the first in the series), but I was OK with that since Brian's Winter was kind of an alternate ending to Hatchet.  I didn't know that there was another book in the series that I missed called The River.  So now, I will be on the lookout for both Hatchet and The River.  Briefly, it is about a boy who is returning to the woods after two years of being in the city.  He had previously been in a plan crash and had to survive in the wilderness for months before finally making it back.  He returns because he just can't live in the city anymore.  I truly enjoyed this book...a big part of which is because we feel the need, every single day, to get our butts out of the city.  We don't know where, we don't know when, and we don't know how we are going to do it...but we feel the need.  And for some of us, it grows stronger every day.


And back to the yarn along...I think my cable looks OK for the first run at it.  I like it much better in white.  And I like it much better in the book.  I am hoping by the time I make the second and third of the strips I will have it looking just dandy.  The book, if you are wondering, is Country Weekend Knits and it is so nice that I have bought it.  It is only the second knitting book I have ever purchased if that gives you a hint.  Usually I get them from the library.

And...all of the yarn for this work in progress is from my stash of wool, so I am adding the link below for any that have missed it.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Something I needed...

I have had a piece of fabric that I have been keeping for a while because I just couldn't dare cut into it.
...well I finally did it.  I found the perfect project for it.
I have finally made myself a knitting bag.  It is full of all kinds of wonderful pockets:
...and it is tapered so that it is smaller at the top than at the bottom so my project isn't always trying to fall out.
...and I love it!

I love it so much, I put the pattern in my new etsy shop so you can make one too.  I have also added the button to my sidebar.  

Hop on over to Frontier Dreams to check out what other people are doing for 
Keep Calm and Craft On.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Shameless self promotion - times two

I received some rather exciting news today.  Exciting for me anyways...

Debby at Cooking up a Storm in a Teacup has given me a Versatile Blogger Award.

Da da da DAAAAH!  Thank you Debby.  I appreciate it muchly!  And now, I get to give the award to 15 new to me, or newly discovered blogs.  Yippee.  It is going to take me a bit of time to get my list together, but you bet our bippees that I will be doing just that.  Can you tell I am excited?  I just said "you bet your bippees"!

Pop on over to see who else she gave the award to.  I am in some seriously good company.

And for part two of tooting my own horn...I have finally done it...well, I have finally started it.
I have actually gone and opened an Etsy site.  There is not too terribly much listed yet, but I have been working for several weeks to make things, and will be working this week to get them listed.

And...when I am done listing, I will be doing a GIVEAWAY.  So stay tuned.  It should be next week or the one after.

And totally unrelated...
something interesting I saw today:
We went sledding today, to make the most of our second snow this winter, and look what I found.  Tiny little roly-poly snowballs stopped in their own tracks partway down the hill.  Huh!
Just thought they were cute.  I don't know how they got there since we were the first on that particular hill.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

My husband is a genius and he calls it Pilgrim Pie

A few weeks ago, my husband asked me if we could come up with a way to make something like Shepherds Pie but made with the ingredients for Thanksgiving dinner, or a big turkey feast.  After tossing some ideas back and forth, this is what we came up with:
The following are some general instructions rather than a recipe per se, because if  you want to make this (and let me tell you, it was delicious) you would probably want to tailor it to suit your regular "feast" flavours.

Middle layer:  I cooked up a turkey breast the night before, so that it would be faster when I got home from work.  Then I just sliced it thinly when it was cold.

Bottom layer:  Stuffing - You could make whatever your traditional stuffing is - here is what I did:
Chop up 3 celery stalks and 1 onion into tiny little pieces and saute in a pat of butter (generous) until they are nice and soft.  Add about a cup and a half of broth.  Sprinkle the entire pan with ground sage.  Toss in some "stuffing croutons" (I just chop up some bread into cubes a few days in advance and let them dry out - this time around it was italian semolina bread).  Mix it all up until the bread has soaked up the broth.  Add more broth if your bread is still to crunchy.  Pour this mixture into the bottom of the dish you will be using for your Pilgrim Pie and bake for about 20 minutes at 425F.

Top Layer:  While you are toasting up your stuffing, roast your vegetables at the same time.  I know a lot of people have green bean casserole for their Thanksgiving dinner, but we stick with root vegetables, so this is what I did:  Cut up 5 small white turnips, the 2 largest carrots I have ever seen in my life, and 5 or so parsnips into chunks.  Basically, you would want enough root vegetables (or whatever) to fill a 9 x 9" pan.  Drizzle with a little olive oil, and mix them around to coat.  Roast for 30 minutes or so (I think I had the oven at 425 F).

While the root veg are roasting continuing their extra couple of minutes, layer the turkey on top of your toasted stuffing.  Cover this with gravy (shhh...I used a packet mix...it was a work night).  Then cover the whole thing with the roast veg and bake again for another 20 minutes or so until everything is nice and bubbly and warm and your root veg are soft enough to your liking.

This is the best shot I could get of the layers.
Enjoy, my friends.  Enjoy.