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1  MISCELLANEOUS TOPICS / Completed Projects / Use The Good Beads! Prayer flag collection on: Today at 08:34:36 AM
When somebody you respect and admire goes through a major life event and offers a piece of solid advice, you'd be a fool not to listen. Recently edelC commented on how a big challenge in her life got her thinking that there is no time like the present for using the good beads, fabric, and yarn. That really affected me. I heard the background sentiments that NOW is the best time for doing the things you want, being right here, right now and embracing life. It got me reexamining my hoarding of the special stash and what the heck that was all about. I started looking at my collection with new eyes and since then I have been using the good beads etc and it is AWESOME!
I made this flag for Edel. The base is my most favourite piece of Shibori hand dyed with a group of other Craftsterers. The letters are a few kinds of faves from my scrap stash. The hanger was picked up on a road trip with my sweetie last summer at a really groovy little shop on Cape Breton Island.

There are tiny shell stars, glass leaf beads and wire wrapped flowers. The dragonfly is from a set of earrings given to me by a very special man. I don't wear them and they deserve to be flying free somewhere in the world.

Then I wanted one for myself to remind me every time I'm in the craft room. Mine has more of that shibori, a strip of shisha mirrors, and some really special beads. I was going to add the other dragonfly earring but it has escaped me somewhere in the studio, obviously it wants to be used for a different project.

Then I was inspired to keep making, I rarely create things for myself so this was cathartic. Here is "Love" with some very special beads and jewelry bits and the base is one of the first scrappy fabric pages I ever made.

I thought about the things that are really important to me and growing our own food is at the top of that list so here is "Grow". Sunshine, flowers, rain, and a bunch of special beads and buttons. This took me at least 5 hours to make but you know what? I am worth it.

And of course "Make". Backed with red velvet and including 3 glow-in-the-dark beads from suereal, a really special and important person I met here.

That last one still needs something but I'll let it tell me what whenever it happens.

I've got ideas swirling around my brain for one more, "Health". The plans are still hazy but I am committed to completing as many as I think up for myself.

Use the good beads, people!
2  CLOTHING / Clothing: Completed Projects: General / Whirling hat from old sweater on: April 11, 2018 03:12:19 PM
I saw this lovely hat on pinterest and surprise surprise, it led me back here and to a pattern even, haha!

I used a natural fiber sweater that only felted up a little bit so it still had lots of nice drape. Sadly there was not enough space to cut everything with the right side facing out so some of the pieces are wrong side out but you can hardly tell at all so I didn't mind.

The placement ended up creating a spiral pattern of the stripes at the top which I didn't plan but was very happy to see once it was together. I hand stitched a ribbon around the edge and a flower button at the top.

I sent it to Edel so the fit is better than what you see here on my tiny daughter, lol.

3  QUILTING / Quilting: Discussion and Questions / How to finish a sweater quilt, advice please? on: April 09, 2018 08:54:16 AM
Made from natural fiber sweaters felted in the wash, different fiber content and varying thicknesses and density. It was tricky to put together, had to be pushed through the machine to keep the seams from getting too wavy so my shoulders are pretty achy. I triple stitched each seam too, pain in the bum but made it nice and flat so worth it I think. Now I am just stuck on how to finish the edge.

It could be backed in something with buttons or ties at each of the crosses. Sewn like a giant pillow case and then turned right side out and edged stitch around the outside. I've got a couple of wool blankets I could use or I could buy fabric if I find some that is wide enough, or I could buy suiting wool and piece that together.
Or leave it a light-weight single layer and just finish the edge somehow. Maybe a bias like binding from more sweaters or a wide pre-fab satin. What do you think?
I'm still considering buying more sweaters and making a couple more rows so it's big enough for both the fella and I to snuggle under as a movie blanket but I was really trying to cut down on sweater stash with this project, not add to it. Isn't that always the way? LOL

I would like it noted that each of the crosses is perfectly aligned, I am very pleased with how that turned out considering the differences in the fabric. Yay me! Cheesy
4  CRAFTSTER CRAFT CHALLENGES / CHALLENGE 123 ENTRIES / A rainbow of egg shaped treat pouches, w tute link on: April 04, 2018 08:40:57 AM
I made some of these out of felted sweaters but they are a bit too fuzzy for unwrapped treats so I thought about a using woven fabric instead. I started out with one just to see how it would go and then I got a little carried away raiding the fabric bin, ha ha. These are a terrific scrap buster, I used up lots of little bits of ribbon and other trim. We might hang them around the house next year to make the Easter hunt a bit more challenging for the kids as they are getting older. They haven't seen these yet, it will be a surprise!

Clear plastic, tulle or netting can be used for the little windows, I have tried all 3 though the tulle is a bit difficult to make out.

I posted a tutorial here if you're interested in making some for yourself. I think they would be very cute stuffed ornaments or seasonal package tags or even small gifts and am working on some other shapes to share later.
5  OCCASIONS AND HOLIDAYS / Easter / Egg-shaped treat bags on: April 01, 2018 12:18:12 PM
I made some of these using felted sweaters and I like them but not everybody has a stash of that so here is another version using regular old woven fabric.

I didn't have any candy in the studio so this one is filled with eyeball beads because whatever, ha!

I drafted a pattern for the egg on printer paper so I could fold it in half to make it even, I marked orientation lines on it then traced everything onto a cardboard template which you see here. I cut 2 pieces of fabric large enough for the egg shape and then 2 more piece of fabric folded in half and just a bit smaller than the egg. Can you see how one is larger than the other? It will make sense in a few steps. Read through the entire tutorial and if you are still confused please let me know and I will clarify anything that's hazy.

Place the 2 pieces of fabric large enough for the egg right sides together, center the template with room for a seam allowance all the way around and trace the inner circle. Sew along that line, cut away the inner fabric and clip the curve all the way around.

I'll show this part in 2 steps. Pull the top fabric through the hole like so...

until you've turned it right sides out. Press everything flat with a hot iron.

I added some trim here and pinned a piece of blue tulle to the back, it's a bit difficult to see.. You can also use netting or clear plastic for this step. See the tutorial linked at the start of this topic for advice on sewing plastic. Sew around the circle to secure the tulle then trim the tulle on the inside.

Now place the larger folded piece of fabric on top of that with the fold at the top. The smaller piece goes next with the fold at the bottom. Overlap those pieces about 1/2 inch. I found the ribbon trim very helpful here for orientation. Then I used a fingernail to press an outline of the circle in the bottom piece of fabric.

Using the orientation marks on the template to position it, lay it evenly on the fabric and trace the outline. If you want to add a ribbon for hanging now's the time. Pin everything together, sew around the outline, trim close to the stitching line and turn the egg right side out.

Carefully press the edges on the back of the egg taking care not to melt any trim, plastic, netting etc on the front.
Edge stitch around the outside of the egg.

I made a rainbow profusion but I can't share them until tomorrow Wink.
6  OCCASIONS AND HOLIDAYS / Easter / Treat pouches with tutorial on: March 31, 2018 09:03:06 AM
I've seen some bunnies like this and thought I'd try my hand at making them from from felted sweater stash but craft felt would work just as well. Hand sewing would also work for this project. Those fabrics turn out a bit fuzzy so unwrapped treats should be in a small zipper baggie.

First trace 2 small circles on a piece of plastic with sharpie marker.

Place that on the wrong side of a piece of fabric and pin in place.

Machine sew along the inner circle then trim at the outer circle. *** notes on how to machine sew plastic below Smiley.

Turn the fabric over and very carefully trim away the fabric inside the sewn line to reveal the little window.

I used freezer paper for the shapes I wanted. Hold the fabric up the light to centre the shape and gently press in place with a hot, dry iron for only a second or 2. Take great care not to melt the plastic! Iron around the sides of the shape. You could also opt to draw directly onto the fabric and sew along that line, whatever works best for you.

The back will be 2 pieces that overlap about a half inch or so. Place front and back wrong sides together so the nice side of the fabric shows on both front and back.

Pin in place and sew around the edge of the freezer paper (or drawn line) taking care not to catch it under the needle.

Peel off the paper, trim very close to the stitched line and voila!
I'm afraid the egg ones are shaped more like avocados but considering what's inside I don't anticipate any complaints, ha ha.

I did a variety of shapes:

Loops could be attached to the tops of these to hang them up. They'd look cute on a tree or hidden in unexpected places for older kids to find on a treat hunt.

***I have a special slippy plastic presser foot for sewing vinyl but if you do not have such a thing a small piece of scotch tape on the bottom of a regular machine foot will work, the one labelled "magic" that's a bit hazy instead of completely clear. It will peel off if you remove it right after your project. I have found the tape gets a bit extra stuck when left for a long enough time. If the tape does not work for you, placing a small piece of tissue paper over the plastic will do it though you may find it difficult to see the traced circle. In that case draw the circle right on the tissue, sandwich everything and pin it in place and it should sew just fine.
7  HOME SWEET HOME / Exterior Decorating / Yard Art / Gardening: Completed Projects / We "destashed" a garage! on: March 30, 2018 09:49:40 AM
This is only step one of the process, well most of step one anyhow. There is still a whole lot of cleaning up to do but yay, the garage is torn down! We've been wanting this to happen since we put in the garden boxes 2 summers ago and discovered it was not an ideal spot in the yard. Right under a walnut tree that drops lots of leaves and other plant matter that does something nasty to the soil. The garage sits in the sunniest part of the yard too, we'll move the boxes over when the debris is all gone.

Here are fellas starting on the roof yesterday:

And here they are at the end of the day after some triumphant wall knocking-down moments. There is still part of a wall up as a make-shift fence to keep the neighbour's dog in their yard. It's a bit too cold for fence post digging still but that project is coming up shortly.

It rained all day and the fella had surgery only 2 1/2 weeks ago so that's his dad out there doing the heavy work. I sure hope they rest up over the holiday weekend and the young man took it easy enough that he doesn't feel too sore. They'll come again and clear up debris though the large bin in our driveway is close to full already. I am darn excited about getting this on the go!
8  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Butter chicken with tandoori masala on: March 26, 2018 04:25:33 PM
I made up some Tandoori masala (spice mix) to get some different flavourings into our dinners. The kids have been complaining about us always having the same old thing Undecided. It's because there are only a few dishes all 5 of us enjoy and/or can actually eat so, short of making more than one meal at a time to satisfy everybody at once, my range has been a bit limited.
Tandoori masala is an ingredient used in butter chicken which all of us enjoy so that's what I made for dinner tonight. Everybody claimed to like it I'm happy to say  Smiley.

Here's the recipe:

Mix about 1/2 cup tandoori masala with 1/3 cup yogurt and 2 Tbsp lime or lemon juice, marinate chicken for at least 8 hours, over night if possible. I used 2 med breasts and a couple of thighs.
Heat the oven to 375 and cook chicken chunks in a single layer on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or in a shallow glass dish for about 10 minutes, until nearly cooked through but not quite. Set aside

**You do not need tandoori masala or tandoori paste to make butter chicken so if you'd rather a simpler version you can skip that part and add the raw chicken chunks right to the sauce, simmer until they are cooked through, not too long or they can become tough.

Melt about 2 Tbsp of butter in a heavy bottomed sauce pan and slowly saut 1 large thinly sliced onion over med heat to caramelize it. If it's getting browned at all turn the heat down, this is best done low and slow.
Add 2 cloves of minced or crushed garlic and saute until fragrant, about a minute or so.
Add 2 more Tbsp of butter, melt and stir in
    1 Tbsp garam masala
    2 tsp paprika
    1/4 tsp cinnamon
    1 tsp chili powder
    1 tsp cumin
Stir about until fragrant, a minute or so (I put it all in at once because I cheat, ha ha).

Add one can of tomato sauce or diced tomatoes, bring to a simmer and cook 5 minutes. Diced tomato yeilds more of a rose sauce flavour, sauce will amalgamate with the other flavours more. Both are nice, whichever you prefer is fine.
Slowly pour in heavy cream, the amount can be from 1-3 cups depending on your tastes. I recommend you eyeball the amount of sauce that will go best with the amount of chicken you prepared. Use a stick blender to puree it all, not completely smooth but no large chunks remaining. Here is where you exercise a little kitchen finesse and don't make the immersion blender spray creamy tomato sauce all over the counter, your clothes, the cell phone, etc. Sigh.
Taste and salt as needed.
Bring back to a simmer and once bubbling add the chicken. Simmer just until the meat is cooked through, too much may toughen it up.
Remove from heat, stir in 2 more Tbsp of butter and serve immediately over rice or with fresh, hot naan bread. Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves and a wedge of lime.

Please let me know if anything is not clear enough in my instructions Smiley.
9  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Tandoori masala spice mix on: March 26, 2018 10:16:44 AM
I made some Biryani masala (spice mix) the other day that was very nice in rice and went looking for some other spice blends to try.

The first recipe I concocted was good but not amazing. It consisted of powdered herbs blended together but it lacked the oomph of toasting the seeds and grinding them fresh. Most tandoori recipes call for chilis which I never add to anything because my kids can't take the heat. You can include something spicy or add it to the dish after cooking if you like it hot. The recipe is:

2 Tbsp ground coriander
1 1/2 Tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground clove
1 tsp ground mace
1 tsp ground fenugreek
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

Stir all together and store in an airtight container.

This mix in it's entirety or half for a less heavily spiced dish is blended with 1 cup of yogurt and a 1/4 cup lemon or lime juice which is then used to marinate chicken chunks for at least a few hours if not overnight. The clove and nutmeg are a bit heavy handed for my tastes so once I'd put the marinade together I added paprika and turmeric paste as well as salt to taste. Once marinated to your liking bake the chunks of meat in the oven until no longer pink inside, 375 for about 12 mins. You can serve as is or simmer gently in a sauce of your choosing for about 5 mins and have it over rice. It's tasty but mild enough for those who don't want overwhelming flavour. I'll be using it for butter chicken tonight and will post that recipe later.

What I was really after was something a bit more fragrant so decided to make another batch by roasting the whole spices   and grinding them myself as well as adding in a few more elements to get a taste I was happier with. That recipe is:

2 Tbsp coriander seed
1 1/2 Tbsp cumin seed
1 tsp fennel seed
dry roasted in a cast iron pan and set aside

1 3-4 inch cinnamon stick broken into pieces
1 whole nutmeg roughly smashed
2-3 tsp cardamom seed (green or a combo of black and green)
1 tsp clove
1 tsp black peppercorn
1 tsp mustard seed
dry roasted in a cast iron pan and set aside

1 tsp fenugreek seed
Well toasted in a pan until nicely browned and incredibly fragrant, this step takes about 20 minutes. Here is a photo of toasted and not side by side for comparison.

1 tsp ginger powder
1 tsp hing (aka asafoetida, garlic powder is a fine substitution)
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp mace powder
dry roasted in a cast iron pan and set aside. Take great care to continuously stir powders so they do not burn, you only want to toast them until they are fragrant.

Once cooled all the chunky bits were ground in a dedicated spice mill (coffee grinder that is never used for coffee) and put through a fine sieve to remove larger particles, then mixed with the powdered herbs. I confess the second mixture is much more fragrant, I'm very much looking forward to trying it soon.

* tandoori is traditionally quite red in colour, this is achieved by the addition of elements that don't contribute to taste so I've left them out. If you want that dark red you can use a variety of things; powdered beet root, ratanjot, alkanet, or red food colouring.

Here's some butter chicken made with this tandoori masala, pretty tasty Smiley.
10  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Biryani rice, super fragrant and delicious. on: March 25, 2018 04:03:12 PM
The mister goes to the big city once a week for work and has lunch there at an Indian place he really likes. He very rarely brings home leftovers but the last time he did it was the most delicious biryani rice I have EVER had. So fragrant and tasty, yum yum yum. Usually rice is just a vehicle to get something else into your mouth; meat, veg, sauce or whatever, but I could have eaten this all on it's own. I thought I had better try to find a good recipe. Here's the mash-up I used:

Heat 2-2 1/2 Tbsp oil in a heavy bottomed pan and fry until fragrant: 1 bay leaf, 1 star anise, 1 strand mace*, 1/2 tsp cumin seeds, 4-6 green cardamom pods, 4-6 green cloves, 1 two inch cinnamon stick.

Add 1/2 cup chopped onions and fry until golden.
Add 1/2 Tbsp each garlic and ginger finely minced and fry until fragrant, do not burn.
Add one large tomato, chopped and deseeded, 1/4 cup yogurt. 1/2 tsp red chili powder, a handful of mint and/or coriander leaves, 1/4 tsp turmeric powder, 1-1 1/2 tsp Biryani powder*, salt as needed.

Fry until tomatoes turn mushy, the oil will begin to pool in the mixture as well.

Pour in 3.5 cups stock and/or water and bring to a boil, Add rice and bring back to a simmer, cooking until done to your liking. It may be a bit saucey if you want the rice firm but that is very nice. If you prefer it done more just set it aside once the liquid is absorbed with the lid on for a bit longer.

Fluff with a fork and serve with fresh chopped coriander and a wedge of lime if desired.

We had it with a spiced beef and veg stir fry and oh ho ho, it was delicious!

* Mace is not always easy to find, you can substitute powdered (any of the spices can be subbed for powdered and added along with the turmeric powder.) The Biryani powder is entirely optional, it's basically the same spices but concentrated so it just bumps up the flavour.  You could add a little curry powder or garam masala instead of just do without it.
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