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21  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Radish decorations on: December 19, 2009 06:40:55 AM
(I'm not sure if this is the right area to post this, since it doesn't involve any cooking, but I dunno where else would be more appropriate...)
I made a bunch of salad decorations out of radishes, a while ago:



There were five different sorts of flowers, a bee, and two... um... disk things. I'm not sure what to call them.
A better view of all of them:


Way too tilted a picture, but the bee was captured nicely:


And a close-up of one of the flowers:


Then I ate them all.  Grin
22  COOKING / Vegetarian / Vegan / Lazy Not-Really-Borsch, or, What I Do When I Feel Bad For Unused Food: A Novel on: December 19, 2009 01:07:46 AM


See, I have a problem -- our house has no central heating, and our little electric heater mostly stays in one room.
Going into our kitchen is like going into the Arctic -- well, it the arctic was 40 to 50 degrees or so (in Fahrenheit). My boyfriend puts on his coat to make cheese sticks, for god's sake.

As a result, I don't make food much and mostly live off of oatmeal, quick sandwiches and tea. You'd think this would mean I don't have much food, right? Wrong. Unfortunately, I go through phases of delusion when I look at others' food blogs and think, "Well, they can make healthy food every day! Why can't I? It'll be easy!" So at one point, I became convinced that what I really needed to do was try more vegetable recipes, particularly those with winter vegetables (it being winter and all). See, usually when I eat vegetables, it is in the form of slicing onions and cabbage up (sometimes with some other additions, like a bagful of radishes) and dousing them with vinegar, salt and pepper -- voila! Salad! Just ignore my boyfriend's disgusted looks and eat it obsessively 50 times a day! I don't often actually cook them or anything.

So I went off and bought a small bunch of beets, even though I hate beets. I've no idea what I was thinking.

Two or three weeks later, they were still sitting untouched in my refrigerator (along with a bunch of other unsandwichable things). So today I decided that since I obviously wasn't going to make that recipe, I'll just use them up in the only form I've ever liked beets -- borsch (or borsh' -- it would make more sense to spell it that way, at least to my picky Russian self). I used to eat it when I was little -- tons of it -- with sour cream. Unfortunately, I moved to the U.S. before I could figure out how my grandmother made it. So I looked it up.

Hmm, I became vegetarian some years ago, so of course I can't make it with beef broth. I shall use vegetable broth. Reference the recipes for some basic ingredients -- "onions, carrots, potatoes, cabbage..." Ok! Easy enough. Ish. Onions will be substituted with a wilted-looking onion end. Carrots? Well, there are some baby carrots... I don't remember buying them, though, hmm. Potatoes? I know! Now I can use that one potato I bought months ago! I'll just cut off those five-inch sprouts coming off of them... and no cabbage, damn. Well, brussel sprouts and cauliflower are from the brassica family, so maybe they'll do. I'll just cut any dark spots off the cauliflower...

All in all, just like real borsh! Perfect. Ish.
Whilst looking in the refrigerator, I found some sour cream. It was somewhat... old. But no mold is a good sign, right?
And then the bread. I bought some half-dark bread a while ago, and the remains have since turned brick-hard, very suitable for giving someone a concussion or shooting out of a cannon. I would have liked a small electric saw to cut it, but I had to do with a flimsy knife. I decided microwaving it might make it softer.

Results: The soup tastes vaguely like borsh, but more like vegetable soup with beets in it. Not bad, though not up to my expectations. I hope the sour cream doesn't kill me.
Eating the bread was difficult, to say the least. I gave up. It is sitting sadly on a plate next to my computer.
Better luck next time, I guess.
23  CLOTHING / Clothing: Completed Projects: Reconstructed / Ugly corduroy pants into skirt (lots of pics) on: October 23, 2009 02:18:57 PM
So almost a year ago, my SO's boss (also his relative by marriage) gave us a bunch of clothes he didn't need anymore. I've been slowly using them up for sewing projects, but so far hadn't really done anything to the pants he gave us.  They were these black corduroy pants -- when I put them on, they were too big to stay on, and too long to not trip me up, and baggy in all the wrong places. Here's a picture of them:



So I decided to make a skirt out of them. Without a pattern, of course. Who needs patterns?  Roll Eyes
So I tore all the seams and re-sewed the front together, then measured myself and cut out something approximate. As I was doing all of this, my cat decided to help. He did this by laying down on what I was doing.




No matter how many times I chased him off, he seemed absolutely enamoured with the future skirt and as I was trying to shove him off it for about the 20th time he attempted to eat my hand. Then I gave up and just let him sit there and tried to sew sort of under his side.
I had to re-sew the back several times because my patternless approximations turned out to be not so correct, and just when I thought I was done, I noticed that the back slit of the skirt is weird --sort of... wobbly? basically, I cut off too much and now it wouldn't close.
So I thought back to a skirt I saw once and decided to sew on some -- ruffly bits, I guess. Like this:



And here's some photos of it in use:







Since my sewing machine is broken (again) and I'm back to sewing by hand, it took me almost 8 hours to sew it -- I stayed up all night to do it because I didn't want to go to sleep until I finished. Then again, I guess that gives me more to be proud about. Tongue
Thanks for looking.
24  HOME SWEET HOME / Interior Decorating: Discussion and Questions / Need ideas for redecorating horrible rental kitchen on: July 15, 2009 11:20:33 AM
We're currently living in a rented house, and the kitchen is horrible. Well, it has nice wood cabinets, but that's about it -- it has barely any natural light, ugly counters, and a horrible wallpaper that the last resident (many, many years ago) put up. There isn't much counter space, either -- we were recently given a microwave (I don't care for it, but my boyfriend wanted it) that takes up most of the counter space you see in the picture.

Observe:


Sorry for the darkness of the picture...
There is also a grate on the floor around which the flooring stuff is peeling and dirty, and I'm afraid to use half of the cabinets because they get moldy so quickly.
I should also mention that I am fairly poor right now, I don't have a permanent job and have to mostly rely on money I either save up in coins or that I make from occasionally helping farms out.
Help? Sad
25  JEWELRY AND TRINKETS / Trinkets and Jewelry: Completed Projects: Reconstructed / Glass necklace on: July 11, 2009 09:20:01 AM
This is kind of an old creation. At my old house, there was a place in the woods where I would always dig up glass, and one day I found several very beautiful iridescent pieces with a design on them. One of them was perfect as a pendant.







It goes between blue, gold, purple, and green, depending on which way you look at it; it's quite beautiful.

26  BATH AND BEAUTY / Bath and Beauty: Completed Projects / Homemade Nettle-Rosemary shampoo on: July 11, 2009 09:14:08 AM
I ran out of shampoo the other day and decided to make my own, since I prefer organic shampoo (as in, no weird chemicals that end up making my hair greasy within an hour, as they tend to) and the only place nearby that sells it is about 30 minutes of annoying traffic away. As you can see, I used the old bottle, because I am lazy.



Both nettles and rosemary are good for any sort of hair, and rosemary tends to darken it slightly over time. I simmered 1/4 cup dried nettle leaves and 1/4 cup dry rosemary in about a cup of water, then mixed the resulting tea with about 1/2 cup castile soap and added in some cedar essential oil. It's a little runny, but works well anyway.
27  COOKING / Dessert / Earl Grey Cupcakes on: July 11, 2009 09:05:00 AM
Erm, it's really not the best picture, I know...



I forgot to take one right after I made them, so this was taken on the day after, after most of them were gone and the icing sort of melted (think 95 degree weather and no air conditioning in the kitchen -- sticking them in the fridge just made the icing sort of hard, bleh).
But good god, they were delicious. I had one for breakfast, and with lunch, and after dinner... These are now my favourite cupcakes. Cheesy
28  HOME SWEET HOME / Interior Decorating: Completed Projects / Sewing room and decorated sewing table -- pic chubby on: July 11, 2009 08:59:00 AM
So up until recently, my sewing room looked terrible -- instead of a real table, I had a tiny one from a previous, non-working sewing machine, and since I had no storage, my floor was invisible due to large amounts of clothes, fabric, pins, needles, and god knows what else scattered all over it. Every time I wanted to sew, I would spend an extra 30 minutes or more searching for something and dropping things off the table. Instead of a curtain, I had a semi-transparent white sheet thumbtacked over the window. Needless to say, I didn't get much sewing done...
After some pestering, my carpenter boyfriend agreed to make me a table -- or two tables, rather, one of which was to have cubbyholes. I helped him put it together and we painted them, and after they got to my room I actually got to organizing and decorating.











I made the curtains and the pencil holder; the swirly thing you see by the pencil holder is a magazine-trashcan in progress.
Then! I decided to decorate one of the tables. I was inspired a while ago by a couple of tables I saw here... So I bought some pretty paper, and voila!:









Cheesy
29  BATH AND BEAUTY / Bath and Beauty: Completed Projects / Plantain and Tea Tree Oil Salve on: July 01, 2009 12:17:04 PM
By plantain, in this case, I don't mean the banana-like fruit, but the common leafy plant the Latin name of which is Plantago Major (http://botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/p/placom43.html). I've been taught to use it since I was little for bruises and cuts. It's great for skin problems of any sort, actually -- I didn't have the oil made until recently, so I ended up making plantain tea, most of the time, and that worked well enough -- stopped the pain in blisters and so on.





I don't know if I've added enough tea tree oil, considering I can't really smell it, but oh well, it's in there anyhow.
30  COOKING / Dessert / Peanut Butter Cake on: June 21, 2009 10:06:13 PM
So my boyfriend's 20th birthday was today, and I decided to make him a cake. He has the habit of eating peanut butter and marshmallows together (who knows why, he has odd tastes), so I decided the flavours would correspond. Both the cake and the filling are peanutbutter-y, and it is covered in ganache and marshmallow flowers (as you see):


Making it was sort of a fiasco. See, I have only made cakes twice before, and both of them, they were, erm... odd. I didn't even bother to decorate them much. This time, however, I was set on making it look "professional".
Have you ever heard of the superstition that you shouldn't bake when you're on your period? Well, it seems to exist in Russia, anyway. I couldn't put it off, however, so on the very morning it started, after eating a ton of Midol, I went ahead and tried to make it.
After a lot of swearing, this is what came out:

I have titled it "Failcake".

After yet more swearing and some moody weeping, I tried again, this time with the help of my boyfriend. Fortunately, he has the magic ability to get cakes out of cake pans without breaking them.
I decorated it, splattering much of the kitchen with melted chocolate in the process, but it looked pretty good at the end. I was going to do something to the middle, but by then it was midday and the temperature in the (non-air conditioned) kitchen rose to somewhere in the 90's, and everything was melting. I decided I didn't care. Anyway, both he and his family seemed to like it a lot, so I guess it was a success.

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