Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Old to new.......to old. Vintage inspired makeovers.

Visually what often comes to mind with vintage pieces of furniture is the wear or the colour of the wood itself.  Now modern furnishings are seen in different materials and lot's of dark wood. When I close my eyes and try and try to visualize old, I see whites or soft blue's and greens.

Today, I decided to re-vamp and old plant holder and wanted to give it a bit of a vintage feel.  I decided to use a soft green but a nice apple green would look great too.  Now, I'm not going to give lessons on how to paint - all that "long and even strokes" jazz, but if you don't have the world's handiest father to show you (like me) then there are plenty of videos you can watch online.  One thing I will say though is don't paint over the holes where your screws go in,  it's a real pain to put your stuff back together again if you do.

By the way, Ikea is a great place to find wood that has not been finished yet.  No varnish = no sanding = less work!  You can paint almost anything, however, if there is a sealant or varnish (glossy coat) already on the wood then you must sand it with 100 grit sand paper first before painting.

Now for the pictures!

Here is the very common "before" shot.  

I suggest taking apart your project before painting.

I like to paint around the holes first with a smaller brush just so I don't need to get too close with the big brush and risk filling them with paint.  

Allow to fully dry before attempting to put back together.


Looks even better with plants on it!

Hope you feel inspired!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Pomegranate Peeling Made Easy

Dating back to beyond 1000 B.C, the pomegranate is considered one of the oldest fruits in existence.  Growing up to 15 feet in height, with the ability to live for over 100 years, and an antioxidant potential thought to be up to 3 times more powerful than green tea and wine, I can see why this fruit is considered a power food. 

Pomegranates offer amazing dietary benefits, providing substantial amounts of potassium, Vitamin C and niacin, and high fiber.  With so many health benefits, the pomegranate should be included in everyone's diet.  They're a fabulous snack, great on salads, amazing stewed with meat and makes the tastiest juice! Oh, and lets not forget the classic pomtini!

With over 600 arils (seeds) in one fruit, I can see how most people would look at eating the pomegranate as a daunting and tedious task.  But adding them to your diet can be easy!  I am here to show you how to de-seed this fruit in minutes!

The first thing you'll need to do is fill a bowl with water and then cut your Pomegranate in half.

Second, submerge one of the half of the fruit in the bowl of water and gently pull seeds away from the skin.  The seeds will sink and the membrane (yellow) will float making it an easy and clean way to get the fruit out.

Once completing both halves, pour into strainer - look at that beautiful red deliciousness!!! 

At this point it's ready to eat!  You can store the arils of a pomegranate in a sealed plastic bag in the fridge for up to 3 days or freeze them for later consumption. Frozen arils will be good after a span of 6 months in the freezer!  

To freeze:  spread them apart on a baking sheet that has been lined with wax paper. Put them in the freezer for no more than 2 hours and then place them into a plastic container or bag.

Enjoy your pomegranates! (and Pomtinis!)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

My First Quilt

I am a huge fan of quilts.  Whenever I'm at an art show I often find myself at the quilt booth running my fingers over the different textures, admiring the beautiful colours and work that goes into making one.   Buying a quilt is several hundred dollars so I decided to take a class and learn the art so I could make one for myself.  Now I use the word "art" because if you look closely at the detail in a quilt, the fabric, the texture, the colours and the patterns, you will see and appreciate the masterpiece that it is.  All these factors take a lot of thought and tons of time!

Was I the youngest in my class?  Yes!  But I feel quilting is making a comeback especially among younger people.   Take the modern quilt guild for example, it started in 2009 and now there are over 100 branches across the world with members of every age.  Even Toronto has one!  Take a look at the website and see how the quilt patterns have changed.  Long gone are the days of flowers and farm animals,  now it's about colour and shapes.  


The quilt I decided to do is called a sampler quilt.  I't's made up of many different squares which is a great way to learn each one.  I'm far from finished my quilt but I thought I'd post a few pics of my progress so far:

Still need to finish quilting it and then do my binding. (The edges)

My quilt is made up of squares and those squares are made up of even smaller squares.  Here's a picture of one square being pieced together.

 These squares are called Flying Geese.

  This is "Log Cabin (left) and "Friendship Star" (right)

I will post more pictures as I finish it and of course the final product!  If anyone has an interest in learning I encourage you to do it.  There are many people in the city that teach both hand and machine quilting so there's an option for everyone.  I've had so much fun making this and all my hard work (many, many hours) will be rewarded upon the completion of my beautiful new quilt!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Best Sugared Pecan Recipe for the Holidays!

'Twas the Wednesday before Christmas,
Outside not a 'flake,
This little creature was stirring,
Because she had to bake!

So here we are days before Christmas and the second day of Hanukkah and the baking has begun!
As the dear reader knows, I always like to try new recipes and this time of year is no exception (this year was lace cookies) but an annual favourite is my Sugared Pecans.  As my gift to all of you here is the recipe.


2 lbs Pecan halves
2 cups white sugar  (no one said these were low cal)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
dash of allspice (optional)
2 egg whites
2 tbs cold water
splash of pure vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 250*

In a bowl mix sugar, salt, nutmeg and allspice.

In a second bowl beat egg whites and water until fluffy.  Add splash of vanilla and beat for a few more seconds until vanilla is mixed in.

Gently fold pecans into the egg mixture.

In 3 or 4 parts add the sugar mixture to the pecans and continue to fold until evenly coated.

Spread the pecans out onto a lightly greased baking sheet and bake on middle rack of your oven.

Bake pecans for a total of an hour stirring every 15 minutes. 

Allow to cool before storing in an airtight container.  

These little bites of heaven won't stick around for long!  You can give them away in cute little jars or keep them for yourself to munch on (also great in a salad).

Happy Holidays!!!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Savoury Shortbread

Most people associate shortbread with the holidays but I think they work well as an appetizer or to enjoy with your favourite glass of wine all year round!
There are so many combinations for savoury shortbread that it's good to just look at the ingredients you already have in your fridge and go from there.   I like the combination of using a cheese and a fresh herb - sharp cheddars go great with rosemary,  mild cheddars go well with garlic and just think of the possibilities that go with asiago!  Gulp.... so good.
Last week I purchased some fresh sage for a braised beef recipe and had a ton left over.   I always keep a big block of parmesan in my freezer so behold I had my combo!

In a bowl mix together 2 cups flour,  1 cup butter, 1/2 cup grated parmesan (or other cheese), 20 small leaves of sage (chopped) and a tsp of salt (I like to mix half regular salt with corse salt)  I also added a pinch of cayenne pepper and mustard powder.

Work ingredients together until the dough comes together.  If it's too dry add some more butter or a bit of water.

Here's a little tip - If you want to use your butter right from the fridge, grate it and it will become room temperature faster!

Once you dough comes together roll it out into logs in some plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least a half hour.

After you remove it from the fridge you can either cut it into rounds or if you prefer, you can  press into cookie rounds.

Place on parchment paper and bake at 400* for 10-15 minutes - until golden brown.


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Mitten Ornaments

This morning marks the first snowfall (that I've seen) of the year!   My new fireplace is being installed as we speak and the large flakes are slowly making their way to the ground so naturally I'm feeling inspired.
Here's a tutorial for an adorable christmas ornament that will look great on your tree but also as a gift topper.  It's so easy to make and if you don't have a sewing machine, you can use glue.

What you will need:

Felt  -purchase at a craft store
Fur - bought  at Fabricland in the ribbon section
Stuffing - bought at Fabricland but you can even use cotton balls.
Thread or glue.


Download a template from the internet-  I used one from Better Homes and Gardens.  Then cut out two sides from your felt.

Sew around the edges leaving the top open.  You can do this by hand, machine or glue.

Now stuff your mitten.  I used quilters batting but you can use something as simple as a cotton ball.

Insert a ribbon loop for hanging, place the fur sticking out of the top and then sew a straight line across to secure it.  
I think these are adorable and so easy to make!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Christmas Stocking for your Dog

This time of year always makes me excited for the Christmas holidays ahead and nervous for the chaos that accompanies them.   All I know is that I have 4 different sewing projects on the go and I need to start finishing them before most of my free time runs out!

One of the smaller projects on the agenda was a Christmas stocking for Putter (my dog) and with the total time for this project being less than an hour, I felt it was the right one to complete!

Now I'm sure we can all agree that a stocking in the shape of well, a stocking could potentially be a "pet Peeve" (worst joke ever) so I thought a more canine friendly version might be nice!  What better than sewing a cute bone to fill with your pooches favourite things!

So the first steps in making the dog bone stocking is to determine the size you want and the fabric you want.  Once decided,  draw out the pattern and then cut it out of your fabric.

Lay your fabric right sides out and pin the ribbon that your stocking will be hanging from between the fabric in the spot you'd like it to be.

I chose to do a zigzag stitch.  Sew all the way around through both fabrics except leave the top.  This will be your opening so sew them as 2 separate pieces still with the zig zag stitch.

Lastly, tie a big ribbon around it!

Complete!  I think Putter likes it :)