Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Sew & Tell: Drapey Cardigan

I'm in loooove. This cardigan is super generous with the drape and can be worn multiple ways. I found some 4 way stretch jersey which was a dream to work with, and used this free wrap cardigan pattern by Megan Neilsen. I was impressed by how easy the instructions were to follow, and this came together in a couple hours with plenty of breaks in between.

Black Drapey Cardigan 3


It's warm and thick, and as my baby bump grows, it will still fit. You can't see much now but I'll need all that extra fabric in a few months!

Black Drapey Cardigan


I think this last photo is my favorite way to wear it: thrown over one shoulder like a shawl. It's like a blanket. It's like dressing for the post-apocalypse (which despite all the girly clothes I post, is actually more my style).

Black Drapey Cardigan 2

I only made a few slight changes to the design. I increased the width of the sleeves, and added wrist cuffs. I also reinforced the shoulder seams with some extra stitching. This was a very satisfying afternoon project, and I'm sure I'll wear this like crazy over the winter.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

DIY Cork Coasters

Coasters

When we lived in our old apartment with ancient furniture, it didn't really matter if we used coasters or not. Our tables had rings and watermarks, so it wasn't a big deal. Now is a different story. Suddenly coasters seemed like a pretty big deal since we had new wooden tables. I thought I would buy some, but then I remembered the big pile of cork in the garage. I decided to stencil some designs and cut them out.

You can buy a sheet of cork at a craft store, but also in flooring section of the hardware store. This cork was leftover under layer for the floorboards.

Untitled

The trickiest bit is the stencilling. A foam brush or a stencil brush works well. To stop smudges, you need to put just a thin layer of paint down at a time, and dab up and down, instead of brushing the paint. Every once in a while you'll also need to wipe off the back of your stencil and give it a rinse.

Untitled

When the paint dried, I used a mug to trace out circles for the coasters. If I did this again I might go with squares, because they're easier to cut out than circles. Cork is soft enough to cut with scissors but the edge won't be crisp unless you use a knife.

Untitled

Lastly, I brushed a bit of gold paint along the edges both to stop the cork from crumbling, and for a little extra decoration. I think they would have looked awesome with pink and turquoise edges too.

And that's it! Brand new coasters for free. I also made a couple of hot pads / trivets with the leftover cork. Why not?

Coasters

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Sew & Tell: Summer Kimono Style Top

kimonoTop

I dusted off (literally) my sewing machine for the first time this summer. The poor old thing needs a bit of TLC, and some cleaning, but it is otherwise still doing great 7 years on. I sewed a simple kimono top based on this tutorial by Elle Apparel. I opted to shorten the hem, sleeves, and I added a cowl band to the neckline. It's made from this wonderfully soft tissue knit in pale purple with white cherry blossoms. It's super comfy, and if summer nights get a bit chilly, easy to throw on.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Sew & Tell: DIY Maternity Band

Belly Band 3


If you're pregnant and want to wear your non-pregnancy pants for a little longer, a maternity / belly band can help.

How it works: leave your pre-pregnancy pants unbuttoned or unzipped, then slip a belly band over top so that your pants don't fall down.

It may sound a little silly, but right now I'm too small to fit into maternity pants, and my regular pants are too tight around the waist, so this is a lifesaver. They can also help post pregnancy when you're in between sizes. I've rolled up my shirt so you can see how it fits.

Belly band

They were out of black bands at the store when I tried to buy one, so using a bit of leftover black jersey, I whipped one up in about 20 minutes, and you can too! See, it's just a tube with 2 seams. In the photo above, I've flipped the band inside out so you can see the seams.

Belly Band 2


I followed this tutorial by Make It and Love It. It's so simple but it works! I'm so tempted to whip up a bunch more in different colors.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Sew & Tell: Elephant Plushie

A lot of my friends have been having babies lately, and I've tried to sew all of them a little soft toy as a present. One of my friends absolutely loves elephants, so I wanted to make one for her son.

Untitled

This little guy is made from an old sweatshirt and some scrap fabric. He's totally squishable.

You can find the pattern and instructions for free here via Birch Fabrics.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Fresh Figs with Yogurt and Honey

While we're still on the subject of figs...

This is hardly a recipe at all, but it's my favourite way to enjoy figs fresh: Greek yogurt topped with figs, almonds, blueberries, and a drizzle of honey. It's as good as any desert, so simple, and good for you too.

Figs with yogurt

Monday, August 4, 2014

Recipe: Fresh Fig and Almond Pie

It's fresh fig season right now, and while it doesn't last long and I loooove fresh figs there are so many that I'm looking for ways to use them before they go bad (which is quickly). There are only so many figs one can eat in a day!

Sooo... here's something that might last a little bit longer. Might. The almond is only lightly sweetened so it's not overwhelming, and so easy to eat waaay too much of it.

The instructions look long, but its really just as simple as making a pie. You could always use a ready to bake pie shell to make this quicker.

Fresh fig and almond tart. Still hot. Drooling while I wait for it to cool off. It smells so buttery.


Fresh Fig and Almond Tart

Ingredients:

Pastry
  • 250 g flour
  • 4 oz butter / 124 g (cold) cubed
  • 6 tbsp cold water
  • pinch of salt

Filling
  • 4 oz butter / 125 g (softened)
  • 1/2 cup vanilla sugar (regular sugar is ok)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cup almond meal / ground almonds
  • 3 tbsp flour
Toppings
  • 5 - 6 fresh figs, quartered
  • Honey for garnish
Method:

Preparing the pastry
  1. Cut butter into flour using a pastry cutter, or your fingers, working it until it resembles breadcrumbs.
  2. Add the salt, and water.
  3. Bring the dough together into a round flat shape, and refrigerate for 15 minutes covered in plastic wrap or parchment paper.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Preparing the filling
  1. Cream butter and sugar.
  2. Add vanilla and eggs.
  3. Mix in almond meal and flour.
Assembly
  1. Roll your dough into a round shape slightly larger than a pie tin and then place it inside, pressing the pastry into the sides of your pie tin. Prick the bottom of the dough with a fork. Let the extra dough overhang the edges for now.
  2. Spread the filling into the pie tin.
  3. Top with figs.
  4. Fold the extra dough back over the edges of the filling and figs.
  5. Bake for 50 - 55 minutes
  6. When the tart is finished cooking, brush the top with honey heated in the microwave for a few seconds so that it's runny. This will give it a glossy look.
  7. Serve warm or cool.
  8. Leftovers should be refrigerated.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Recipe: White Current Blackberry Jam

So the title is a bit of a lie. This jam's full of white currants, blackberries, AND raspberries. We have one little raspberry bush in our new garden, and while it's fruiting well, it's not large enough for more than a handful of raspberries at a time.

White currants and raspberries from the garden

My haul of berries was decent, but not quite enough to make more than a little bit of jam. But enter my mother in law to save the day! She discovered a patch of blackberries near the house, and had harvested a bag full of them.

So this happened...

Fresh jam

Currants are naturally high in pectin, so you can use them in lieu of store bought pectin (which is just a fruit sugar)! Handy huh? Unfortunately our two currant bushes produced about 4 cups worth of berries (the entire harvest for the summer) so I think this is all we're going to get.

In the meantime, there's jam to enjoy.

Fresh jam

White Current Raspberry and Blackberry Jam

Ingredients:
  • 4 cups white currants (black or red would do just as well)
  • 6 cups blackberries and raspberries (I used a mix)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 3 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 lemon squeezed
  • Zested peel of 1/2 lemon
  • optional:1 tsp butter
Method:
  1. Clean and pick stems off currants.
  2. Boil water and currants together until the currants burst. 
  3. (optional) Strain seeds and reserve the currant jelly.
  4. Boil currant jelly, berries, lemon, peel, and sugar and butter for 20 minutes (The butter keeps it from foaming over and you won't taste it) or until the jam is set. How to test jam.
  5. Pour into sterilized jars, or can according to your preferred method.
  6. Enjoy.
Confession - E and I stared at those currants suspiciously all summer. We weren't quite sure what kind of bush was growing in our yard, and if the fruits were edible or ornamental. It took a bit of Google fu to figure out what they were. White currants aren't as common as the red. I don't think I'd ever even tried them until now, but they're not too sweet, and pleasantly tangy. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Summer Blooms

I'm not up to my usual self these days. Things have been a bit tough in Walnutville, but hopefully this passes soon. I was feeling a bit blue and thought that some flowers would help cheer me up. Thankfully, our house is in full bloom, and I didn't have to go very far to put together a bouquet.

Summer in a jar, anyone? It smells like heaven because there are honeysuckle and lavender stems tucked in with the hydrangeas.

Summer in a jar. #flowers from the garden


That was my first foray into craftiness after a long spell... maybe it means the start of a more normal routine soon?

I'm all hope and crossed fingers.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The start of something new

Buying a House in the USA
[ Photo: Buying a house via Images Money CC]

After many years of searching and saving, we bought a house. I'm so excited, and not just because we'll finally have a permanent address. When I was a kid, I dreamed of picking paint colours and furniture instead of weddings or dresses. This really is a long time dream come true.

We have some renovations to do to the place and I'm already dreaming up projects like re-upholstery or refinishing cabinets. Also wonder of wonders, I'll actually have space for a desk!

Photos soon :)