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Archive for the ‘crafty goodness’ Category

i’m a knitter!

Today I have finally gotten around to posting the gift I was working on for my sister, Mari. My sweet little sis and her husband are expecting their first child and she (it’s a girl!) will be here so soon! Her due date is May 12, and while I’ll have to wait to see her in person a little while longer, I’m eagerly counting down the days for that first iChat to see my beautiful niece.

Mari had a baby shower that I so wanted to attend, but living in Edinburgh just made that impossible. But, with the help of my mom I was able to send along a little gift to join in the fun. I’ve recently taken up knitting, and who knew how much I would actually enjoy it?! I’d made several attempts at knitting in the past, but only ended up with half finished scarves. However, knitting a sweater for a baby comes together so quickly, and it is just so cute in all its itty-bittyness that I now find myself hooked!

The idea for this project came from my crafty friend Rachel, who told me about a blog she reads where the mother is making outfits for her daughter by knitting sweaters and sewing dresses to match. That sounded just up my alley as I LOVE a theme! So, I decided to make three outfits (0-3 mo, 6-9 mo, and 12 mo +) and then add an age appropriate book to go with each. So fun!

If you’d like any info on the patterns I used just leave a comment or email me and I’m happy to pass the info along. And now, on to the outfits!

(0-3 mo)

(6-9 mo)

(12 mo+)

Thanks, Mom, for the pictures! 🙂

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etsy round-up

Hi dear blog loving friends! It’s been a while. Don’t worry, I’ve still been busy crafting, I’ve just been working on some top secret projects for my sweet sis. I promise to post pictures once she’s received the gifts, but for now no peeking!

Instead, I thought I’d share an etsy round-up and tell you about a great swap one of my friends in Edinburgh is currently hosting. It’s so fun!

First the round-up. For as long as I can remember I’ve loved stationery and letter writing. As a kid I had a close friend move to Italy and we spent several years exchanging letters and then I also became pen-pals with one of her Italian friends. So many wonderful memories of eagerly anticipating a letter, picking out just the right stationery, and learning the art of writing meaningful letters. Sadly, I’ve gotten out of the habit with the onslaught of email, but I’m resolved to reconnect with my letter writing self and these notecards are the perfect encouragement to get me to pick up my pen and start writing.

There are so many beautiful options when it comes to purchasing stationery. I especially love the letterpress technique, and really appreciate the whimsy that is so much in fashion at present. Today’s round-up is a *small* sampling of some of the gorgeous/fun/creative notecard sets available on etsy. Hope you enjoy them!

(l to r, top to bottom)

SilhouetteBlue – Breeze Stationery Set

Vanessa Boer – Hedgehog and Fox Note Card

Vintage Paper Boutique – Dressmaker Post Cards

We Heart Paper – Letterpress moustache notecards

Half Full Martini – Bird Sihouette Thank You Cards

Naomi Lynn – Wallpaper Stationery Set

Brookish – Mr. Darcy Proposal Notecard Set

Humunuku – Vintage Bike/Watch Carte Postale

Lucky Bee Press – Hedgehog Letterpress Notecard Set

Aren’t these lovely? I especially love the set by Naomi Lynn, and everything in her etsy shop is equally delicious. You really must give it a look.

And now for the swap! My good friend Rachel has a lovely crafty blog, and since meeting her I have greatly increased my ability to knit. Seriously, who knew knitting could be so fun? Currently she is hosting an entire month devoted to letter writing, and I for one am inspired. As part of this month-long write-a-thon, she’s hosting a letter writing swap. This is a chance for you to get paired up with another stationery aficionado, swap letters, and get some fun new stationery. How can you say no to that? Plus, you might just get me and I promise to send you a whole lotta love from the UK. Click this link to check it out to get all the details. Now, go sign up, the swap sign-ups close March 16! I want to send you a letter!

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We woke up this morning to another windy and rainy day here in E-town. Thankfully, I had a yummy soup and long anticipated project all lined up and ready to go. So, while the weather may have been less than ideal, J and I had a lovely little domestic day in.

When J and I got married I hated mushrooms. As a young child I apparently loved eating raw mushrooms, but from adolescence onward I viewed mushrooms as gross, slimy things to be avoided at all cost. (I had a particularly awful sautĂ©ed mushroom encounter in Santiago, Chile when I was 17…) However, J grew up loving mushrooms and his family had them often, so as a new member of the family I decided to just go ahead and give them a try. And guess what? They weren’t bad. In fact I really liked them raw, and as the years have gone by my love of mushrooms has only grown. I now love them in any form and J and I enjoy them so much we are gearing up for this next fall, and once we return to the states plan to buy a couple of these. I know there must be others of you out there scarred from early childhood experiences of poorly cooked mushrooms, or even worse mushroom soup from a can (bleh!). I promise you this recipe is so much better than any other mushroom soup you’ve tried that it may just be able to win over even the most skeptic mushroom-haters. So, don’t hate, cook! I think you’ll be really glad you did.

Mushroom Soup
adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home

Ingredients

  • 15 ounces fresh mushrooms (try a combo of whatever is fresh at the farmer’s market, or a mix of shiitake, portobello, and cremini… really any mixture will do, you could even use dried mushrooms in a pinch)
  • 1 tablespoon good olive oil
  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme plus 1 teaspoon minced thyme leaves, divided
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts, thoroughly cleaned (2 leeks)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • truffle oil (optional)
  • lemon

Directions

Clean the mushrooms by wiping them with a dry paper towel. Don’t wash them! Separate the stems, trim off any bad parts, and coarsely chop the stems. Slice the mushroom caps 1/4-inch thick and, if there are big, cut them into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.

To make the stock, heat the olive oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large pot. Add the chopped mushroom stems, the onion, carrot, the sprig of thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until the vegetables are soft. Add 6 cups water, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Strain, reserving the liquid. You should have about 4 1/2 cups of stock. If not, add some water. (I know this step seems like a lot of effort, and if you really have to you could use store bought vegetable stock. However, this stock is absolutely gorgeous and is a large part of what makes this soup so delicious, I highly recommend trying it!)
Meanwhile, in another large pot, heat the remaining 1/4 pound of butter and add the leeks. Cook over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, until the leeks begin to brown. Add the sliced mushroom caps and cook for 10 minutes, or until they are browned and tender. Add garlic and stir for a minute or two more. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute. Add the white wine and stir for another minute, scraping the bottom of the pot. Add the mushroom stock, minced thyme leaves, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the half-and-half, cream, and parsley, season with salt and pepper, to taste, and heat through but do not boil. Serve hot and garnish with the following: Mix together a pinch of salt and pepper with the zest of one lemon and the juice of half of it. Drizzle the soup with a drop or two of truffle oil and place a slice of grilled crostini topped with a bit of the lemon zest mixture on top of the ladled soup. Delish!

Laundry Sacks x 2!

Those of you who have followed this blog for a while will be well aware that space in our little flat is at a premium. For a long time now J and I have been trying to figure out a better way to store our dirty clothes as there isn’t room for a proper laundry basket. The default became an awful florescent pink Rubbermaid tub that we used for shipping stuff over here when we first moved. A complete eyesore. But thanks to an easy pattern out of this book, the Rubbermaid is no more! (This book has lot’s of great ideas, but I’ve found the directions a bit cumbersome… better for those with a bit of sewing experience.) Our laundry has now found a nice new home on the back door to our wee box room. And our bedroom just gained back some highly prized floor space. Success!

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I hope you’re all enjoying the fun giveaways happening all over the blogosphere today! If you’ve not already done so, be sure to head over to Sew Mama Sew to check out all the fantastic crafting blogs and giveaways taking place. They’re wonderful!

And now, for my own giveaway… Living in Edinburgh has really renewed my love and passion for traveling to new places. As such, I thought I’d pass along that same spirit of adventure by giving away a travel clutch and luggage tag. I hope you enjoy it! To enter into the giveaway, simply post a comment sharing where you would like to travel to if you could go anywhere you liked and money was of no concern. Top spot on my current destination wish list? Morocco! Also, please be sure to leave some way for me to contact you so I can get ahold of you if you win! Then, on December 17th I’ll randomly select a winner and announce it here on the blog. Happy blog surfing everyone!

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are you ready?

Give away day is almost here, and I for one, can hardly wait! I’ll be joining in the fun again this year, so be sure to check back on December 13th for your chance to win a fun handmade gift.

It was snowing like crazy again in Edinburgh today, so much so that my office actually closed early. Unfortunately all the buses were shut down, so after the three mile trudge home in the snow I’m now all warm and cozy in our little flat. With the extra time I decided to bake up some yummy bread, put on the Christmas tunes and get to work on a couple craft projects. Not a bad way to spend a Monday afternoon… Hope that wherever you are reading this from you’ve got an equally cozy day ahead of you. And just before I get going on my sewing I think I’ll make up a pot of festive Wassail punch. Traditionally this punch has a lot of egg in the drink, but I prefer my sans egginess and think this recipe is delish. Care to join me for a cup?

Wassail Holiday Punch

  • 2 quarts apple cider
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 1 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup lemon juice (depending on how tart you like your wassail)
  • 12 whole cloves
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 pinch ground ginger
  • 1 pinch ground nutmeg
  • 2-4 Tbsp honey (depending on how sweet you like your wassail)

Combine all the ingredients in the crockpot and let simmer away all day. Alternatively, if you’re pressed for time you can cook all the ingredients on the stovetop. Simply combine, bring just to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 45 minutes.

Enjoy!

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cozy

J was off early this morning to catch a train up to Aberdeen, which would have been fine, except our dear cat, Sam, took that to mean it was time for me to get up too… at 4:30 am. And if Sam wants you up, you’re up. He is one tenacious little fluff ball. So, once I accepted it was going to be an early start to the day I decided to embrace the coziness of dark fall mornings and make myself a yummy breakfast, cuddle up with a good book, and enjoy the stillness of a new day.

so self satisfied.

A couple hours of reading later, most people were just starting their days, but I was fully awake and ready to go! I decided it was a perfect time to work on a project I’ve long wanted to make as my hot water bottle and I are somewhat inseparable during the cold long months of winter here in Edinburgh. But, the bottle is made of rubber and always smells a little, well, rubbery which is not quite ideal. When I came across this tutorial, I tucked it away knowing I would eventually get around to making one. The project came together really fast, and in about an hour my hot water bottle had a cozy new cover, and no more rubber smell.

Hot water bottle covers are quickly gaining popularity as people are using them more these days as they are a good alternative to cranking on the heater, making them a more environmentally friendly way to keep your tootsies warm on chilly nights. If you’re not up to making a cover yourself, there are currently some great designs available for purchase. Check here, here, here and here for some fun ideas… great Christmas gift idea, no?

Also, in case you’ve missed it, it’s my favorite time of year over at Sew Mama Sew again as all month long they are celebrating handmade holidays. Go over and check it out. Loads of great ideas to make or buy from etsy as well as lots of opportunities to win some great prizes! Hurrah!

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I admit it. I. Love. Christmas. And I honestly don’t see anything wrong with listening to Christmas music year round. Unfortunately, J disagrees so we’ve had to negotiate a listening schedule we can both abide by. That means no Christmas tunes before my birthday at the end of October. It used to be no Christmas tunes until after Thanksgiving, but as we keep moving to countries that don’t celebrate Thanksgiving for J’s schooling, I’ve managed to gain a little ground.

Anyway, in preparation for the upcoming Yuletide season I’ve had a lovely weekend filling our home with the delicious smells of Christmas and working on an Advent Calendar that I’d fully intended to make last year, and am determined to have finished in time for Advent this year!

One of my favorite hangouts in Edinburgh is a lovely cafe called Peter’s Yard. It is situated just off a gorgeous park, and come rain or shine the cafe always feels light and airy. I love it. On top of the perfect-for-me atmosphere, they also have the MOST incredible baked goods. My absolute favorite pastry is their cardamom bun. Truly delicious, and mildly addictive. Served alongside a steaming mug of Rooibos tea and a good book and that’s me sorted for the afternoon. I’ve been wanting to try my hand at making some cardamom buns for awhile now, and though they aren’t quite the same as the buns from Peter’s Yard, they are quite tasty, and a good substitute in a pinch.

Cardamom Buns

(adapted from Tessa Kiros’s recipe in Falling Cloudberries)

bun dough

  • 250 ml (1 cup) milk
  • 100 g (3 1/2 oz.) caster sugar
  • 2 packets active dry yeast
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 125 g (4 1/2 oz.) butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp. allspice
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 470 g (4 1/4 cups) plain white flour

spiced butter

  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. freshly crushed cardamom seeds
  • 50 g (1 3/4 oz.) caster sugar, plus 1 tbsp. for sprinkling on top of prepared buns
  • 80 g (2 3/4 oz.) butter, softened
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

Put the milk and sugar in a bowl, stir to dissolve sugar. Add yeast, leave for 10 minutes, or until the yeast begins to activate. Add the egg, butter, cardamom, allspice and salt and mix in. Add the flour, bit by bit, mixing it in with a wooden spoon until you need to use your hands, and then turn it out onto the work surface to knead. It may seem a little too sticky initially, but will become compact and beautifully soft after about 5 minutes. Put the dough back in the bowl, cover with a clean cloth, and leave in a warm place until it has doubled in size (1 1/2 – 2 hours).

To make the spiced butter, mix together the cinnamon and sugar. Divide the butter into four  portions and keep on one side.

Put the dough on a floured work surface roll out to a rectangle measuring 20×16. Spread softened butter over the surface of the dough with a palette knife or blunt knife. Sprinkle with spice mix, covering the whole surface with quick shaking movements of your wrists. Lightly press dough to push spice mixture into the butter. Fold the bottom 1/3 of dough over itself. Next fold the top third down, so that the dough has been folded as you would fold a letter, only in a landscape, not portrait orientation. Then, using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut 1″ strips of the folded dough. Take each piece and tie into a knot, tucking the ends under.

Line two large baking trays with baking paper, or bake in two lots if you only have one tray.  Put the buns on the baking trays, leaving space for them to puff and rise while they bake. Brush lightly with beaten egg and sprinkle a little sugar, cinnamon and crushed cardamom over the top.

Leave the buns to rise for half an hour and preheat your oven to 180C (350F/Gas 4). Bake them for about 20 minutes, or until they are golden. Check that they are lightly golden underneath as well before you take them out of the oven. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature and, when they are cool, keep them in an airtight container so they don’t harden.

Makes about 20 buns.

Advent Calendar

This next project is one that I have been working on for far too long. I first saw it here, and have been dreaming about making one for our home ever since. Well, this year is the year, and this weekend I’ve been busy cutting all my squares for the pockets and lovely red felt numbers to mark the days. I’m so excited for the finished project and can’t wait to hang it up to use this year! What do you think, is mid-November too early to start decorating for Christmas? Here’s a pic of my progress so far, I promise to post another once I’ve got it finished. Now I just have to figure out what to fill the sweet pockets with…

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