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1  HOME SWEET HOME / Exterior Decorating / Yard Art / Gardening: Discussion and Questions / Anyone have solar panels???? on: July 29, 2015 06:54:16 PM
We have someone coming over to talk to us about installing solar panels on the roof - apparently there is a government incentive for it.  I am looking for ways to cut the electrical bill and being more environmentally responsible, but I was wondering if anyone else has roof mounted panels and what their experience was with them...

I wondered if there was damage to the roof, any issues with weather changes, how durable they were, initial $$ outlay, if house insurance is affected, etc...
2  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / The opposite of cooking... but cold-brewed coffee is AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! on: July 26, 2015 11:11:01 PM

This is not a typically hot brewed coffee, that is then chilled or iced to bring the temperature down.  This is cold steeped coffee and I recently saw ads for it, and wondered what the fuss about.  What I read was that it was less acidic, smoother, and brings out some flavour profiles that hot water brewing doesn't allow for.  I love iced coffee in the hot summer, so I decided to give it a try.

I always buy whole beans and grind them myself, and I had this cool carafe with a filter cone in the centre for brewing iced tea, so I used the beans I usually get (Costco), and filled the filter to the top, and filled the carafe to the top.  I put the lid on and let it steep in the fridge for about 16-18 hours.  I then removed the filter and ran it through my usual metal coffee filter to remove any further grounds.  I then returned it to the carafe and returned it to the fridge.  The cool thing with the carafe is that it is leak proof so can lay on the side for saving space.

Anyways, the end result is wonderful.  It *IS* less acidic and flavours come through with the cold brewed coffee that are not present with the hot brewed - it is smooth, rich, and has flavours of vanilla and chocolate that I do not taste in a hot cup.  It is also sweeter, just through cold brewing, without any addition of sweetener.  It makes a perfect glass of iced coffee IMO, or a base for a mixed coffee drink.  I am having it black, no sugar, because that is my preference, but I bet it would be super tasty with a flavoured simple syrup, irish cream, chocolate syrup, or something like Sheridan's or the Godiva white chocolate liqueur.

There are specialty brewers for cold brew, but why bother - my little carafe seemed to do the job just fine.  Or right now, I have another batch brewing in the fridge in a Ziploc container, and an old PB jar - I just need to run them through the filter in the morning!

More about it on my blog....

So if you haven't tried it, love your java, but want something cold and refreshing in the heat and humidity of summer, give this a try!!!! 
3  JEWELRY AND TRINKETS / Trinkets and Jewelry: Completed Projects: General / A triad of resin bar pendents... on: July 18, 2015 11:42:31 AM

I made these recently while making some note cards.  I had some punched out paper pieces that were leftover from those and other projects and they were small little bits.  So I decided to embed them in resin to make some pendents.  I used some plastic packaging that I had saved, likely from packages of extra x-acto blades, and layered thin layers of resin and the bits of cut paper shapes.  As a backing, I embedded washi paper on the back, with the second to last pour of resin.  The final pour was after I unmolded the pieces and trimmed away the edges, and sanded the edges down.

This one is done with mini die cut gears, cut from kraft paper.  I painted some of them with metallic acrylic paint.  A couple I left bare paper, and they darkened as they absorbed the resin, and were set in the back, so they actually look rusty/old/oxidized.  The backing paper is a textured charcoal paper with some specks.  I thought it made nice contrast to the metal

This one is done with some teeny die cut stars, cut from yellow paper, some of which were painted gold.  I backed it with a wee scrap of star patterned washi paper on a light blue background.  The paper, being such a light colour, became very translucent and made a great pale, almost luminous background.

This last one is done with some die cut red hearts that were leftover from when I made an anniversary card for DH.  I left them the bare paper, and the resin made them a nice deeper red.  I thought a dark contrast would be nice with the red.  There were some tiny dot die cuts that came from the same die, and added that as a bit of confetti detail.  I added the same textured charcoal paper which I thought was a nice contrast with the red.

I was happy to make these three - I basically use scrap washi paper and scrap die cuts, and some left over mixed resin from another project I was making - would have hated to toss it away...
4  ORGANIZED CRAFT SWAPS / The Swap Gallery / OMG - I need a drink swap GALLERY (send outs July 10) on: June 19, 2015 04:19:38 AM
Original Discussion Thread

Post 'em as you get 'em and let's all admire our own and each others creativity and cleverness with a cocktail or two - SALUD!


holistic knitter (07/10) <---> edelC (06/18)
Ludi (07/10) <---> rantyhippie (July 10)
Audania1(07/03) <---> legtostroke (07/07)
Megz1027 (06/26) <---> texscrapper (07/11)
fluffypants (07/06) <---> SheridanLA (sent 07/13)
spazgirl1981 (07/14) <---> Wulf (07/14)
emilywilde (06/30) <---> Onyxnox (07/09)

sent and received
sending late with communication
feedback given (on both sending/receiving)
contact organizer immediately (if not contact/proof of shipping within 2 weeks from the deadline, negative feedback will be provided, but it can be reversed pending valid proof of shipment or receipt of package by recipient.

As per swap rules:

10. At two weeks past the swap deadline all participants must have either positive or Negative Feedback, unless their package is in transit.

If someone failed to fulfill their swap obligation and has not been in communication with you, give them Negative Feedback.
If a participant has communicated that they are going to be late but has not shipped, they should still receive Negative Feedback two weeks after the swap deadline if their package has not been received. If they have been in communication and you feel that they will send soon, leave a comment such as: "has not sent, but is in good communication." This feedback is easily reversible once the package arrives. It is only used to insure that the participant focuses on the swaps they are already involved in before they sign up for others. Participants who have provided proof of shipment can remain In Progress until their package is received.
If the swapper has sent his/her item to the partner and the package meets the size requirements of the swap, they get a positive, whether or not they communicated or failed to send a DC# to you, etc. These issues should be noted in the comment section of the feedback.
5  MISCELLANEOUS TOPICS / Completed Projects / and the new day was a great big fish... on: June 08, 2015 06:40:58 AM
This was the quote that roler gave me for inspiration for the recent Terry Pratchett swap.  It made me think of cosmic fish - that the fish was dawning like the sun... after all, if Discworld is resting on the backs of 4 elephants, who ride on the back of the Great A'Tuin, why can't there be cosmic koi in the pond of the universe?

Anyways, that inspired me to make an altered tin based on that quote and this is what I came up with...

I removed the lid, and decoupaged the outside with a decorated Japanese paper that made me think of a star speckled sky roughly, and the inside was decoupaged with black on the edges, and a swirled gelli printed paper on the background.

I made some polymer clay koi fish to set inside the tin.  Was pretty happy how they turned out.  Then I layered them, some rhinestones and stars, and the banner with the quote, slowly, in about 5 separate layers of resin.  Patience was needed - and it took a lot of effort to sit and wait until the next laying of elements and pouring of resin...

I added a bit of mica powder for some sparkle to one layer of resin.  I was hoping it would keep a distinct swirl, but I also added some heat, which made it a bit more liquid and mixed the mica powder in more than I would have liked.

I added about 5 layers of matte decoupage glaze to the paper layer on the outside, so it had a nice texture to it, and made a little easel to help display it.  I was very happy, generally, how it turned out.

A bit more about it on my blog if you are interested.

Comments and constructive criticism always welcome...
6  MISCELLANEOUS TOPICS / Completed Projects / Puffin Chunky... on: June 06, 2015 07:16:07 AM
I made this recently for the OTT Bird Swap recently.  I swapped with HSG, and she listed puffins in her list of birds.

I was playing around with sketching out some puffin images with water colours/water colour pencils.  I was happy how they turned out, and wanted to incorporate them into one project.  Oddly enough, that was not even the project I had in mind, I was just playing around to see what would happen.

I had a couple of chunky 4x4 canvases, and I decided to make a little chunky piece.  I love the chunky canvases because you can decorate all sides, and they can be stood on a surface or hung up.  I figured I could use both the back and the front for the two puffin pieces and have the short sides to add some more decorations.

Here is the front of my canvas.  I prepped the canvas with acrylics in blues, whites, and a touch of gray, and a bit of stenciling.  I tore the water colour paper and adhered it on with gel medium.  I love the walk of the puffin - it's awkward, yet adorable.

Here is the back - I cut the image to cover the opening in the back, glued and tacked it on.  I  have this thing about unfinished backs - for some reason, I can't stand them and often will finish them somehow.  Often with a placard, but this was a good way to use the second image I had done.

I found a wee image and note about puffins in a vintage dictionary I had, so added that, and a wee quote on the side.

Here is a bit more about it on my blog
7  Craft Swaps / ACTIVE SWAPS WHERE SIGN-UP PERIOD HAS CLOSED / OMG - I need a drink swap (Sign ups May 23 - June 11, send outs July 10) on: May 23, 2015 02:09:43 PM

Swap name: OMG - I need a drink swap
Craftster member who is organizing this swap: Onyxnox
Sign-up date range: May 23 - June 11
Date to send item by: July 10

Limited to a certain number of people? (optional):24

Restricted to people who all live in the same country? NO
If so, which country? N/A

Additional Age requirement? 18 and older

Swap Organizer himself/herself meets these conditions:
- Has fully read the Swap Info Guide: YES
- Has successfully completed two swaps as a participant: YES
- Is not organizing more than three swaps right now: YES
- Will recruit a co-organizer or give all details to a Swap Moderator if this swap has more than 25 participants: N/A
- Is at least 18 years old: YES

Swap Organizer will check each participant to make sure they meet these conditions:
- Has been a member for at least one month: YES
- Has posted at least 15 times: YES
- Has completed one swap successfully before signing up for multiple swaps at a time: YES
- Is not currently signed up for more than five swaps: YES
- Does not have any negative feedback: YES
- Participant has agreed that he/she is at least 16 years old: YES
- If within the US, understands that Delivery Confirmation number is required for this swap: YES
- If outside the US, understands that a mailing receipt copy is required for this swap: YES

Details of swap:

Ever have one of those moments... days... weeks... lifetimes... where you feel that you need a firm grasp on things to get control?  By things, I mean the stem of a martini glass, the handle of a stein of ale, the neck of a gallon of wine... the switch to the bar tap, what have you...

This swap is not meant to encourage drinking alcohol to excess, but as a fun ode to those moments in time when a good drink does help - at the least to refresh the palate, if not the soul and nerves.  So craft an ode to Bacchus, Dionysus, Dom Perignon, Methe, the mighty grape, a favourite cocktail, a favourite famed drunk (NORM!... Barney... ), your local favourite watering hole, or what other boozy delight comes to mind.

* my favourite drink du jour is a Bombay Sapphire gin and tonic with a double lime squeeze *

This is a 3-point swap, so one large item, or 1 small+1 medium item.  Also, include a couple of your favourite drinks recipes presented creatively/prettily, so that we can all eventually toast each other when we post in the gallery, and share a drink, so to speak.  Extras are not needed or encouraged, but allowed if agreed upon by the partnered swappers, so please communicate well with each other.  Also, please remember to look up the rules of shipping through what service you use - if anyone is thinking of sending ingredients, there are strict laws about things like shipping fluids, foods, booze, etc, so know your postal rules before sending items like that!

Size definitions as per Craftster Swap FAQ

By Time
-Large = 3 or more hours
-Medium = 2 or more hours
-Small = 2 or less hours

By Size
-Large = A shawl, a shirt, a skirt, a set of jewelry with four to five items, a purse
-Medium = one single necklace or bracelet, a scarf
-Small = Earrings, stickers, wallets, pouches, bookmarks

By Price
-Large = $30 or more
-Medium = $10-$30 dollars
-Small = $10 or less

A bit more business...

Please remember to post in this thread before sending me a PM with your questionnaire.

Please remember to PM myself and your partner when sending and receiving, with tracking information if possible, if not, then remember to take pictures of the receipts for verification.

Please maintain good communication - PM as above, and communicate with your partners, and in this thread.

... and stay safe - if you drink while crafting, then you are drinking and crafting at your own risk!  Remember - needles are sharp, heat guns get hot, scissors can cut, vodka/gin/rum is flammable, etc, etc!

Update:  It was brought to my attention to ensure that everyone is aware that as per Craftster swap rules (and undoubtedly some POs rules and customs rules too) that there is to be no alcohol to be sent in the packages - it is prohibited.  So please, no samples of actual booze, or anything containing booze...

Recipes, some mix ingredients, and boozy crafts/art yes, but no booze itself, please!

If you want to participate, information to send to organizer:

Name of swap - OMG - I need a drink swap
Craftster username
Email address
Your real name
Mailing address including the country
Would you be willing to ship to an address outside your own country?
Confirm that are at least 18 years old: (YES/NO)

1.  What are your favourite drinks/cocktails?

2.  What are your favourite colours/combinations/patterns?

3.  What colours/patterns/things do you hate/not want to receive?

4.  Any favourite drinks/cocktail themed quotes/scenarios?

5.  Any allergens in your home?

6.  Any allergens or aversions you have?

7.  What kind of crafted item(s) would you really like to receive?

8.  What kind of crafted items can you make?

9.  What is my favourite drink du jour (do you need to answer this?  Yes, that way I know you read the details)?


Also, remember to read the Swap Info Guide to find other rules about participating in a swap.

Swap members:

1.  Onyxnox (Canada)
2.  Audania1 (USA)
3.  Ludi (USA)
4.  rantyhippie (USA)
5.  edelC (Ireland)
6.  fluffypants (Canada)
7.  emilywilde (USA)
8.  Wulf (Canada)
9.  texscrapper (USA)
10. legatostroke (USA)
11. SheridanLA (USA)
12. Megz1027
13. spazgirl1981
17. holistic knitter


holistic knitter <--->edelC
Ludi <--->rantyhippie
Audania1 <---> legtostroke
Megz1027 <--->texscrapper
fluffypants <---> SheridanLA
spazgirl1981 <---> Wulf
emilywilde <---> Onyxnox

As per swap rules:

10. At two weeks past the swap deadline all participants must have either positive or Negative Feedback, unless their package is in transit.

If someone failed to fulfill their swap obligation and has not been in communication with you, give them Negative Feedback.
If a participant has communicated that they are going to be late but has not shipped, they should still receive Negative Feedback two weeks after the swap deadline if their package has not been received. If they have been in communication and you feel that they will send soon, leave a comment such as: "has not sent, but is in good communication." This feedback is easily reversible once the package arrives. It is only used to insure that the participant focuses on the swaps they are already involved in before they sign up for others. Participants who have provided proof of shipment can remain In Progress until their package is received.
If the swapper has sent his/her item to the partner and the package meets the size requirements of the swap, they get a positive, whether or not they communicated or failed to send a DC# to you, etc. These issues should be noted in the comment section of the feedback.

8  OCCASIONS AND HOLIDAYS / Mother's Day / Mother's Day cards x2 on: May 21, 2015 04:13:50 AM
These were the cards I made for our mothers this year.  I made the rose bouquets last year, but did not order the jumbo crepe paper in time to make the jumbo ones this year.  Also, because I went out and bought my mother new carbon monoxide detectors earlier this year and would not let her or Dad pay me back for them - they demanded that I not get them anything further for Mothers/Fathers day (they are not big on gifts).  Still, they got flowers and a card...

This one is for Jim's mom - she likes pinks and purples more...

and this one for my mom...

I made A2 sized cards, and used water colour paper, and washes of metallic water colour paint to make the pastel skies, and a cherry blossom/branch die to cut the flower detail out.  I added some more pics and details in the links above for each card.

I really do have to try to order that jumbo crepe to make the roses for next year.  I know my mom would get a kick out of them.
9  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Gluten Free Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip Cookies... on: May 21, 2015 03:46:23 AM
Peanut butter and chocolate is Jim's favourite flavour combination, and traditionally I made bags and bags of cookies for him to take away with him to the hunt camp in the Fall as a treat to share with his friends and family up there, so when he found out he had Celiacs disease, I had to revamp how I cook/bake.  He already said that no matter what, even if he doesn't eat them, I still had to make cookies for his trip because they were loved by a number of guys at the camp.  But I know him - if the others are eating them, he would just not think about it one day and grab a few to munch on - and regret it later on...

That's not to say it won't happen anyways - with the dinner rolls, the bread, the treats the other wives send up, someone handing him a beer, whatever....

But I was determined to try to find some GF stuff that I could make either just for him, or that he could share and others would like too.

I made these the other day, when two of our friends were here.  They are both very familiar with my normal baking and regular cookies I make, and on having these, they gave full approval. 

The texture is a bit grainier, but tender, with nice light peanut butter flavour, and good chocolate flavour.  The grainy texture will also depend on the type/brand of GF flour you use, and how finely it is milled.  I used a commercial blend by Robin Hood (a Canadian brand), for convenience.

Gluten Free Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes 2 dozen cookies.

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup gluten free flour blend (Robin Hood was used)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1/4 tsp fresh grated nutmeg (optional)

Preheat oven to 375F

Combine gluten free flour blend, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg if using in a bowl until blended well, and set aside.

Cream sugar, butter and peanut butter together in a bowl with a mixer, until well blended, and creamy.

Add egg and vanilla, and mix until well blended.

Add flour mixture and mix on low speed until combined well.  Mix in chocolate chips.

Roll into 1 inch balls and place on parchment paper lined baking sheet, about 2 inches apart.  Flatten with fork slightly.

Bake in center of oven for 8-11 minutes, or until lightly browned on the edges. 

Remove baking sheet, let cool on baking sheet for a couple of minutes, then remove with spatula and cool fully on rack.

The nutmeg is optional - sometimes I just like that little bit of spice flavour with my PB or chocolate recipes.

Here they are on a dessert tray I made with the flourless brownies I made the other day.

A bit more about it on my blog if anyone is interested...
10  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Blueberry Boyfriend Bait - gluten free blueberry coffee cake on: May 20, 2015 03:28:33 AM
A friend loaned me an allergen free cookbook by Cybele Pascale that had a blueberry cake recipe in it.  Since I am now trying to bake gluten free for Jim, I made this to see how it would turn out.  We had friends over for dinner one night and I wanted to see if there was a gluten free dessert they would like as well.  I made this and the flourless brownies I just posted about, and they all stated they quite liked it, so at least there are two desserts I can make that Jim can have with friends!

The gluten free flour blend is not as fine as the wheat flour, but the cake is quite buttery and moist, so that helps to disguise it.  Next time I may not use as much of the sugar blend myself, on top of the cake, as we do not have as much of a sweet tooth. 

Also, we are not lactose/dairy, or egg-free, so I adapted the recipe to add back in the butter, egg, etc.  But I also liked this and am interested in enough of the other recipes to pick up a copy of the book myself to see what else we can make at home that Jim will be able to eat and like.

Blueberry Boyfriend Bait
(modified from Cybele Pascal's The Allergen-Free Baker's Handbook)

makes 16 servings

2 C Gluten Free flour blend (I used Robin Hood Gluten Free)
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs at room temp
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup milk
1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen, tossed with 1 tbsp flour blend
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, combined with 2 tbsp granulated sugar.

<note - I found this a bit sweet so maybe next time I will leave out 1/4 cup of the sugar>

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Prepare a 9x9 inch pan by greasing, and dusting with gluten free flour, tapping out excess <don't skip this step, the cake will still more without both steps, or lining with parchment paper>

Whisk together flour blend, xanthan gum, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.

In mixer bowl, combine butters and sugars, and mix on medium high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix on medium to blend well, scraping down the sides as needed. Add vanilla and mix well.

Add 1/3 of the flour mixture and beat on medium for about 15 seconds.

Add half of the milk and mix for 20 seconds.

Add half of the remaining flour and mix, then the remaining milk, mix, then the remaining flour, and mix, scraping down the sides as needed.

Add half of the batter to the pan, using a spatula to spread the batter evenly across the bottom of the pan.  Sprinkle with half the blueberries.  Top with the remaining batter, and spread as evenly as possible.  Top with remaining blueberries and sprinkle with the cinnamon mixture.

Bake in the center of the oven for 1 hour, or until the cinnamon mixture caramelizes, and the top is golden.  Cool in pan for 30 minutes before turning out.  Serve warm or at room temperature.  Make the day before, as it gets better the next day!

More about it on my blog if you're interested

Here is the original recipe from the book/her site if someone is interested in the more allergen-free and vegan version, and she has many other allergen-free recipes on her site too.
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