December 31, 2007

Definitely worth bookmarking if you ask me!

Here you will find Sew Mama Sew!'s "Ultimate Handmade Holidays Master List". This list includes allllllllll of December's "Handmade Holidays" tutorials. Once I regain feeling in my fingers (lost thanks to numerous Christmas crafting marathon sessions) I'll be sure to whip up one of these soon. And it will be for ME! Can you remember the last time you made something for just you?

Chalk Board Paint "Recipe"

Here is a "recipe" for chalk board paint. What's great about making your own is it can be any colour you like!

December 30, 2007

Gaspacho (not the cold soup kind)

It is similar to a fruit salad but I hate using those words 'cause I don't want you to think this is just some regular, old, boring fruit salad. It's really so much more than that! It's healthy, exotic, juicy, crunchy, delicious & it'll be a ray of sweet sunshine in the middle of a grey winter day! Listed below are the fruits I used for this particular gaspacho but you can use any mix of the following fruits (honeydew, cantaloupe, watermelon, papaya & mango). However, jicama & pineapple are musts! They give gaspacho its signature flavour & crunch. The other key step to making a yummy & authentic gaspacho is the size of the fruit. All fruits pieces are 1/4" diced. I know, sounds like allot of work but once you get going it's really not that bad.

So, here we go! You'll need...

2 cups diced pineapple (about 1/2 a pineapple)

2 cups diced jicama

1 cup diced cantaloupe

1 cup diced mango

1 cup diced papaya

Lime & orange juice.

These fruit amounts are flexible. Just use what you've got.

1. Peel, de-seed & dice all fruits. Don't worry about uniformity. Concentrate on size! Mix all diced fruits in a big bowl. Hands work best.

2. Scoop fruits into tall glasses.

3. Fill each glass with oj & add about a 1/2 lime splash worth of lime juice on top.

4. Eat with a spoon & enjoy!

If your feeling adventurous locals in Morelia (Mexico's gaspacho capital) top their gaspacho with a dash of hot sauce, a sprinkle of chili powder & about 1 tbsp. of "cotija" cheese. Crumbled feta or even cottage cheese would work ok too.

December 28, 2007

Clip-Art Calendar from Blueprint

A "pretty 2008 desk calendar [that you] prop up in a CD jewel case". Cheap & cheerful!

Like to Reuse?

How Can I Recycle This is a website out of the UK that offers "creative ideas for using & recycling random stuff". Now I'll know what to do with bent knitting needles, used shower puffs & not-needed wire coat hangers!

December 24, 2007

Merry Chritmas!

I'm taking a wee blog break but will be back soon. Hope you & yours have a lovely & relaxing few days.

December 21, 2007

Objectionable E-cards

These e-cards are at times offensive, unwelcomed & distasteful. I luv them.

December 18, 2007

Handcrafters' Holiday Meme Blog - Do you have a favorite gift that you love to give?

I like to give a hand kitted cotton facecloth with a nice bar of artisanal soap. You could beef it up by adding a nice mug with some tea bags stuffed in it or a candle. A great inexpensive gift for the busy lady in your life (ex: teacher, mature babysitter, a female co-worker's secret Santa gift). Plus, I usually have afew made up with blank gift tags on them in case somebody drops by with a Christmas gift I wasn't expecting.

There are sooooo many patterns for knitted facecloths online. You can get as fancy or plain as you like. Here is a pattern for a very basic one. Skip the day of the week embroidery though. Hmmm. You could do the first letter of their name though. Monogram it - would be cute. Don't forget to use cotton wool!

December 17, 2007

Mmmmm Yorkshire Pudding

Thanks for the recipe Martha!

Christmas Music Suggestion

Nothing beats "A Charlie Brown Christmas" soundtrack by the Vince Guaraldi Trio. Christmas-y but not overkill. Great for a festive dinner party or while having a long, well deserved soak in the tub with the lights dimmed low. Buy/download now, press play and thank me later.

December 9, 2007

Sew, Mama, Sew! - You Rock!

Basil Bush was highlighted on Sew, Mama, Sew! for their Dec. 8th - Meme Madness post. Woo. Hoo. Check it out here...

Plastic Bag Holder

Ahhhhh plastic bags. If you're like me you use your fabric totes for groceries whenever you can but the number of times you actually remember to bring them is well, let's just say not as often as you'd like. So, you find yourself with a crap load of plastic bags. Here is a tutorial for a plastic bag holder so you can try to tame those enviro. meanies and at least reuse/recycle them. Plus, if you have dogs (I know K9 mention AGAIN) then like it or not plastic bags are your best friend.

So, here we go.

1) Cut 2 pieces of fabric. One 16" x 22" (40 cm x 55 cm) for the "body" and
the other 2.5" x 10" (6.5 cm x 25 cm) for the handle. You can follow these measurements or make the holder fatter or skinnier around, longer or shorter etc. You're the boss.

2) French Seam the "body" piece lengthwise. For a good tutorial visit...

3) For the handle, with wrong sides together - sew. Turn inside out and iron. I like to have the seam ironed down so it is in the middle. Put aside for now.

4) Back to the "body". While inside out fold both ends up twice (approx. 0.5" or 1.25 cm). You can go a bit bigger if you like. Here, I did. Iron & pin.

5) At one end of the
"body" insert both ends of the handle into the fold. Pin them back up over themselves. Iron. Sew the fold & handles down (I like to use a zig zag). Back stitch over the handles to reinforce.

6) Now go to the other end of the "body". This will be where the bags come out. Sew down the fold. You are going to put the elastic in here so it is important to leave a hole big enough to feed it through AND stitch close enough the fold's edge so it'll fit the width of the elastic!

7) Cut the elastic to your desired length. Depends how tight you want the opening. Feed it through the hole from step 6. I use a blunt knitting needle and a piece of thread.

8) Once through sew the two ends of the elastic together - many times. I like to make the elastic a little tight since I find over time it'll stretch a bit.

9) Sew your hole closed. You may have to pull the elastic taught to do this.

10) Ta-da! You
're all set to stuff those pesky plastic bags.

Note: The monster bag holder pictured here was made specially for a friend with many plastic bags. If you followed the measurements in step one yours will measure approx. 20
" tall x 14.5" round.

December 7, 2007

Handcrafter's Holiday Blog Meme - Family Traditions

Have you started any new traditions with your family that you didn’t practice growing up?

This is nouveau Family Tradition is good for ppl. not able to be with family during the holidays OR ppl. already sick of their families and just want alittle no-talk time.

My husband & I have been unable to return to our hometown for Christmas for the past 4-5 years. We've been lucky enough to have close family come to visit us but usually only after Boxing Day. In our town, during Christmas, the weather is quite miserable so all you really want to do is stay in. The tradition the two of started is...we watch all three
"Lord of the Rings" movies back to back. We usually watch the first on Christmas night followed by the other two on Boxing Day. We eat Christmas dinner leftovers on the sofa & snuggle under a blanket. We only ever watch them during Christmastime so they keep their charm. I think this could work equally well for other movie series like Harry Potter, a bunch of 007's or (if your up for it) The Godfathers. You could even base your choices on directors (all Scorsese or Fellini), an actor/actress (Julie Andrews! - Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music etc.). Your imagination (and video rental store) is your only limit!

December 5, 2007

Handcrafter's Holiday Blog Meme - What is your favorite holiday food?

For the past 7 or 8 years I've made a savory strudel (from "A Veg. Christmas" Cookbook) in place of the traditional bird. I still make the usual fixin's like mashed potatoes, mushroom gravy, cranberry sauce, side vegetables, a big basket of buns, etc. so the meal still feels all Christmas-y and festive. It is great as a veg. alternative for the usual bird or as an addition to your traditional holiday meal for any vegetarians you may have coming. Use vegan margarine instead of butter and you've got yourself a vegan main! Parts (ex: filling or toasted nuts) can be made ahead of time & refrigerated or you can even make the entire strudel and freeze it until the big day!

The recipe is....

3 tbsp. olive oil
2 onions, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 x 400g/14oz cans of tomatoes
1 tsp dried basil
1/3 cup red wine
225g/2 cups mushrooms (cremini work well), sliced
salt & pepper
275g/10 oz phyllo/fillo pastry
1/2 butter, melted
3/4 cup roasted cashews, roughly chopped (pecan or pine nuts would work well too)

1) Heat oil in large sauce pan. Add onions and saute on med./high heat until tender (but not brown (approx. 10 min.)

2) Add garlic, basil, wine, tomatoes & their liquid. Simmer uncovered until mixture is quite dry. Stir occasionally. The recipe calls for 20 min. but I find I need longer. If the mixture is too wet it'll rip the phyllo later on.

3) Add mushrooms and cook another 15 min. or until soft.

4) If dry enough (there should be no liquid left at all really) then remove from heat and season to taste with salt and pepper. ALLOW MIXTURE TO COOL BEFORE MOVING ON.

5) Preheat oven too 200C/400F. Lay out phyllo. I like to do this directly on my Silpat or parchment. Makes transfer to the baking sheet allot easier. It should be approx. 30cm x 20 cm/12 " x 8". Double up two sheets side by side if need be.

6) Brush phyllo with melted butter and sprinkle with 1/3 of nuts. Place another sheet of phyllo on top, brush with melted butter and sprinkle again with 1/3 of nuts. Don't fret if the phyllo tears abit around the nuts. It'll be a-ok. Repeat phyllo, butter & nut step. Lay another sheet of phyllo and brush with butter.

7) Spoon cooled filling onto phyllo layers and spread leaving 2.5 cm/1 " clear at edges. Fold all edges over to enclose filling. From long end roll phyllo up like a Swiss/jelly roll. Brush with butter, garnish with phyllo cut outs (see NB below) and transfer to baking sheet.

8) Bake for 25 min. or until brown. Slice widthwise to serve. Enjoy!

N.B. I use leftover phyllo (5 or 6 sheets together so it's nice & thick & won't burn & crisp off) and cut out decorative shapes (holly leaves & berries or the words "Merry X-mas") and lay them on the top of the strudel and brush with the melted butter. It gives the dish a cute & kitschy kick.

December 3, 2007

Reversible Dog Scarf

Sorry for so much dog stuff. However, I have many dog owners in my life and with X-mas coming I need gifts! These are easy-peasy. I used an existing dog scarf for sizing but you can also free style it. Just make sure to consider what breed your making the scarf for.

1) Cut two identical triangles of complimentary fabric. Mine roughly measured in at 20" (50 cm) x 12" (30cm) x 12" (30cm).

2) With right sides together sew. Leave a small hole so you can turn the scarf right side out. Once finished trim the seam. I used pinking shears but regular scissors will do too.

3) Turn the scarf right side out through your little hole & iron seams nice and flat. Hand stitch the hole closed.

4) Grab the nearest dog and embellish for festive fun.

December 1, 2007

Homemade Dog Cookies

I make cookies for my dogs. They are super easy (Rex or Regina really won't care if they're not perfect), when compared with gourmet treats are quite inexpensive and are chalk-a-block full of luv! Here is the nice & basic recipe I often use (Thanks Natural Health Magazine).

2 cups whole wheat flour
2/3 cup corn meal
1/2 cup sesame seeds (flax would work too)
3 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup chicken broth (avoid sodium heavy powders)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced (some dogs should not have garlic so omit until you check with your vet)

1) Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a second bowl, beat 2 eggs, milk oil & garlic together. Mix wet into dry well. Let sit for 15 min.

2) Roll dough out (1/4" or 6mm thick) on a lightly floured surface. Cut with cookie cutters. Beat remaining egg and brush on tops of biscuits.

3) Place cookies on a lightly greased cookie sheet (Silpat or parchment paper ok here too) and bake at 350 F for 25-35 min. or until brown. Remove and allow to cool. Store in an airtight container.

Couple these with the reversible dog scarf or plastic bag (aka poo bag) holder tutorials (I will soon post) and you've got a great x-mas gift for the dog lovers in your life. It would also make a unique dog- owning host/hostess gift too!