Friday, February 29, 2008

Oops I did it Again:(

I just finished packaging up a swap and forgot to take a picture of it. Oh well, on to something else then. Above is a photo that I did remember to take. Again another fuzzy picture. I really should take the time to read the instructions for the camera I guess. This is from a felt heart swap, and this particular one is now at it's new home in England. It was another quick and easy profect. A little felt, a few beads, buttons, a few sequins, some ribbon and some embroidery thread and you're practically finished before you even start. I have another one of these coming up soon so maybe I can take a better picture then. For now, this will have to do.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

More Swapping Goodness

Yet another Swap-Bot project. This one was something I had not seen before. The swap was to make 3 Button Fairies to send to 3 partners. A button fairy is essentialy an ornament made out of wire, buttons, a face, and some wings. Above is a picture of the three I made for my partners. I ended up making the wings out of felt using the outline of dragonfly wings. Each one was made with a different theme based on the preferences of those being sent to. They were a fairly quick project and turned out ok I think.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

These are a few of my Favourite Things

To be honest, food is one of my most favourite things....I mean.....Ya gotta eat? Right?? Well if you're going to eat, chocolate has got be somewhere at the top of my list. This recipe was prepared for the same Swap-Bot recipe postcard swap I mentioned earlier. This recipe has been around the block and I'm not sure how far it dates back. I got the recipe from my neighbour Rosemary M. when I was a little girl in Thunder Bay. She was an uber mom way back before it was "Martha Trendy" to be so. She made clothes for her family, quilted, baked almost everything, gardened extensively, knitted mittens and caps for her family on her knitting machine, was a very good cook and had a real interest in being self sufficient. She never had any daughters, and maybe because of it, she was very nice to me as a child. She passed away quite a few years ago now, but leaves behind a lovely family, and to me, a few recipes and a love of Thornton Burgess childrens books. Rosemary gave this recipe to me back in about 1977. I think she said she got it from a ladies magazie like Canadian Living. In any event, this recipe has been used a lot! If you like Chocolate and Cheesecake, you'll probably like these. They are practically no fail too. At least I've never had a problem with them....

Redwork Embroidery

My mother-in-law has always had this aborable little laundry bag hanging in her spare room. I think that was actually the first time I had actually seen a piece of Redwork. It has always intrigued me, and I think I even have a pattern book somewhere. In any case, I signed up for a Redwork Embroidery swap on Swap-Bot just so I could give it a try. Again, it has been many years since I have embroidered anything, so Redwork was a good fit for me as it is typically done all in the same stitch. I found some paterns here and here and got to work. The two Redwork designs were sent of to my partner in Reno NV and I did actually remember to take a photo first, although not very good ones.(sorry)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Cookies are Calling Me

They Call Me Softly from my Kitchen. They say no one is one will ever know. Really it would be just between me, the cookies and the scale of course. I think this is one of my favourite cookie recipes. It is certainly one of the easiest ones, and because of just that very reason, my six year old son entered these cookies into a fall fair last year. It just happens to be a very easy recipe for a 6 year old to read, and not too complicated to measure either. With those attributes and the assistance of my trusty kitchen-aid stand mixer, it was an easy task for my little Ike. The most difficult task, was getting him to portioin out 6 similar sized cookies by himself. Since the "cookie portioning incident of 2007" I have purchased ice cream scoops in three different sizes to take out any of the guess work or difficulties. I can now send Ike into school with perfectly portioned cookies every time. This is very handy for bake sales as the cookies are all uniform in size. Those scoops are now one of my favourite cooking possessions. We just love this maybe you can too!
To see the recipe card a little larger, just click on it. This recipe card was create using Corel Draw. I discovered I could make recipe postcards this way just a few weeks ago. I was thinking about how to make a recipe post card for a Swap-Bot swap and came up with this idea. For the back of the card, I've printed up sticker paper with all the lines you might find on a traditional postcard. I format the postcard front into a 4x6 size in Corel and print it out on photo paper and then apply the postcard sticker back. This has worked out pretty well, I think, and they are making it through the mail ok. So far they have made it to New Zealand, Costa Rica, the US, and there is one still on it's way to S. Africa.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Super Quick Sewing Project

I found the pattern for these little bags on Nancy's Notions and it was called a 10 minute totable. I cannot remember where I first saw them but I went on a google for quite some time to find them. There were quite a few patterns to buy, but this was the only free one I could find, and I think they turned out well enough. If I can find the link, I will post it right here, although they were quite easy enough to make. You can easily make one in less than a half hour, and they require very little fabric, a zipper, and a short piece of ribbon. I happened to have some quilted fabric in an oriental pattern, lots of 6 inch zippers from a clearance at Fabricland, and an overabundance of ribbon in my ribbon jar, so I was off to the races. Now that I have a serger I will have to revisit the project since that satiny fabric did tend to fray more than a simple zigzag could handle. But there was no problem at all, when I used a cotton like in the green holiday print above. I gave away a number of these that year for Christmas with homemade candy in it. One friend gave it to his mother, and she was in love with it's shape. She said it looked like a Joong. (A Chinese sticky rice and cooked meats wrapped in a lotus leaf and steamed...very yummy)

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Because I Felt Like it!

Since last fall I've been involved in a little something called Swap-Bot. I had been introduced to craft swaps in general at the beginning of 2007 quite by accident. I chanced upon the sign up for a mini swap and had thought my little boy would find it fun. The swap was quite fun and 6 months later I was actively looking on the internet to find another one and happened upon Swap-Bot. No more looking for swaps...there's plenty there. So far it has been a very positive experience. There certainly is a lot af variety there and I have managed to recruite one more swap-bot junkie and there may be one more in the works. It definitely isn't for everyone, but for me, it's been a lot of fun. And I just bet Canada Post is enjoying it too! Pictured above are two different projects I have sent on their merry way. One was for a felt ornament swap and was made for a lady who loves to bake, and the second was for a felt bird swap. The pattern for the bird was free off the internet at Better Homes and Gardens, and the cupcake was hand drawn. Check out the table runner under the lamp in the cupcake photo. my mother -in-law made that many years ago. It is beautiful cutwork that is so precise it's amazing.

Mitten Knitten;)

Here is another example of knit and felt goodness. These mittens, before felting, were so huge! Very close to the size of a sheet of paper. This project, if I recall correctly, required one 100g skein of wool (not super wash). These particular mittens are now in New Zealand along with one of my very nicest friends, Alison, who just moved to the north island with her family about one month ago. The mittens were decorated with a little bit of wool embroidery. The blue felt purse I made was from the same colour wool and was needle felted with a purple flower and had an oriental purple lining. Should have taken a photo....hmm. Also a very forgiving pattern for an unskilled knitter such as myself.

Friday, February 22, 2008

I Can Knit, a Bit;)

I had not knit in many many years. Let's just not go into exactly how many. About a year ago I decided for some strange reason to give it a go. I mean how hard could it be really.... I have this beautiful Brother knitting machine with ribbing attachment and everything sitting practically new in a box in my basement and it intimidates me. So I thought " If I understood knitting" more it wouldn't be so intimidating. So..... I decided to knit. I found a cute pattern on MagKnits, right here for a little knit and felt purse to start of with. I will preface this with the fact that I have never knit with a pattern before. When I was little, my grama taught me to knit mittens on four needles without a pattern. I remember rocking and knitting in her big rocking chair which would slowly wander the room as you rocked. Wonderfuly easy mittens with strangely unattractive pointed thumbs and finger tips. But I had never seen or even heard of circular needles. Grama sure didn't have any of those in her Black Velvet needle cylinder. I found online insructions for stich names and fancier manouvers for increasing and decreasing and made out just fine with the MagKnits pattern. In fact, the most fabulous thing about felting handknit objects is that you can be the most terrible knitter ever, and by the time it is all shrunk and felted one can tell. Now you just have to love that!

The moral of this story is that if you ever feel like learning to knit...A felted project is very forgiving and is a great place to start. I found I could knit up one of these purses in two evenings. So I proceeded to make one cream, one black, one light blue, and one brown. I think I even have another one half made in a bag somewhere. The process of this "hand knit then felt" is very cool. As you knit your way along you will find that the project requires one full 100g ball of worsted weight 100% wool yarn and is knit up on fairly fat (size 6 I think) needles. The end result is that the bag before being felted in the washing machine is quite large. Almost the size of a white plastic shopping bag. After felting in a hot washing machine however it is magically transformed into a cute little hand bag.

Since having such great results with the little felted bag, I went on to try mittens, slippers, and even a hand puppet. The mittens were from a Felting book I got as a gift, the slippers were the "Fuzzy feet" pattern from, and the hand puppet was from a library book. I wish I had taken a photo of the blue purse as it had turned out to be my favourite. I had decorated the front of it with a needle felted flower, and now it's gone on a swap to Europe. I guess I'll just have to try another one. The hand puppet still sits in my cabinet waiting to be felted. One of these days....I'll put it on my to do list.

Sometimes I Like to Sew

Sometimes I like to sew. As long as it's a small project, I can usually see it through to completion. This is the very first swap I did. I accidentally came across a mini swap posted on a blog somewhere and thought it sounded like fun. The swap was for kids and you were to send some things that your swap partners child would like. As my partner was just about to make a big move overseas, I decided to make an activity bag for Isaac who would likely be looking for some things to do on the long flight to England. I made an assortment of felt finger puppets to put in it, and filled the other compartments with little golden books, colouring pads, crayons, memory cards, hot wheels etc. I also made some Robeez type slippers for baby sister Thea.

Sometimes I Like to Bake;)

Sometimes.....I like to bake. This was a wedding cake I made for a relative's wedding. I have now made three wedding cakes for friends and relatives. As long as they understand, it's going to look like I made it for them, everything was fine. It's just one of those things that you wonder if you could do. I thought about making one for my own wedding but opted not to since I figured there would be enough things to worry about. In retropect, I really wish I had. My purchased cake certainly looked no better than if I had done it myself, but more importantly, it tasted much worse. A few years later, I had the opportunity to make a small wedding cake for a friend's wedding, and then a few year after that, I made the one shown here. This one was all white cake. Each of the three tiers had a different flavour fruit filling and each level was torted into four layers. The bottom tier had alternating fillings of apricot and buttercream. Middle tier had lemon and buttercream, and the top tier had strawberry and buttercream. The apricot was my personal favourite. The couple saved the top tier in the freezer and ate it on their 1st anniversary. They said it was good. Hopefully it was!

This cake was a bit of an undertaking as I baked the cake layers, torted, filled and froze them at home two weeks before the wedding. Then packed them all in a box with dry ice for the 10 hour drive to the wedding. The dry ice I would highly recommend as everything was frozen solid at the end of the drive. This was the first time I had tried it. Once at the wedding hall, I used their kitchen and assembled and iced the cake. Even though the decoration was extremely simple I think it ended up taking over 4 hours. I have tremendous respect for the talented people who do this for a living. I was really pleased with the cake itself, but not so much with the decorating. But after all I don't do this for a living so......

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Giving this whole blog thing a go.

I've been saying for years wouldn't it be nice to start a blog to catalogue what's going on in my little world. A good place to keep a record of things.... Well several years later here we go. What you can expect to find here is posts of what I've been up to as well as instructions in case it's something you'd like to try. What I've been up to could be sewing, knitting, felting, crochet, paper crafts, cooking, stained glass, just never know. Must be some kind of uber anal gene that makes people feel the need to catalogue their life in this way, but..... I must say, I think this could really work for me. So here we go... I will update as I figure out how this all works.