Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Granny Square Slippers

Granny Square Slippers
Granny Square Slippers I crocheted

I was browsing through one of my favorite crafting websites, The Purl Bee and found a tutorial for Granny Square Slippers and just had to make them.  It definitely took some trial and error to put them all together but I made it happen and the next pair should be much easier.  The pattern says it will fit woman's shoe size 7- 9 1/2.  I am a size 8 and feel that they are a little big.  I may need to go down a hook size or just omit the single crochet that is added to each granny square before they are crocheted together.  I haven't figured it out yet but for some reason the slippers in the tutorial have more rounded corners than mine do.  Not that big of a deal but my pointy slippers look more elvish than they are supposed to I'm sure.

Granny Square Slippers from The Purl Bee 

Granny Squares are so simple to make.  I learned how to crochet a traditional granny square by watching crochet videos by Teresa tjw1963. I love all of her videos.  She makes it so easy to learn crochet.  

Each slipper consist of six granny squares.  I could easily crochet several dozen granny squares in one day and then attach them all in a few hours. I think I may add some to my etsy shop.  We will see.

Tutorial from The Purl Bee
Granny Square Slippers

Bring out the hippie in you and make a pair of Granny Square Slippers!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Tea Making Tips (1941)


Tea Time!

I love making a cuppa tea (as the British call it) in the middle of the day and my 2 year old daughter loves joining me!  I usually choose Raspberry leaf, Peppermint, Ginger, Chamomile, or decafe Irish Breakfast tea.  Recently I had to give up my daily cup of java (except for the occasional decaf coffee) because of digestive sensitivities and anxiety issue.  Since I love coffee for it's full body and flavor I knew I had to find a tea alternative that wouldn't make my tummy hurt and didn't taste "watery" or "thin".  I found Irish Breakfast tea to fit the bill pretty closely.  The flavor is full and heavy.  I add coconut creamer by SO Delicious and a little raw sugar.  It's my perfect coffee alternative.
Above is a sweet and touching video of British tea making tips filmed during WWII.  Check out the size of the tea pots they use for the soldiers!  Huge!  Making tea is an art form and this video will show you how to make the perfect cuppa tea.  In Britain they drink tea like we drink coffee.  I think I will make 4 O'clock tea time a regular happening in my home.  Now to find some gluten-free "biscuit" recipes.  

Gorgeous Tea Set from Anthropologie!

This Tea Set from Anthropologie is beautiful!  It's called Shipwrecked which makes it even more charming.  Can you imagine finding this on an island somewhere?!?!  I WANT this ridiculously priced item.

Tea Infuser
Tea Strainer
Don't forget a tea infuser or a tea strainer because to make a proper cuppa tea you need to use loose tea leaves.  I don't get any money or discounts for constantly suggesting them BUT Mountain Rose Herbs has some of the best loose leaf teas and prices to boot.  They give discounts for buying bulk!  I buy most of my herbs from them and have been very pleased with everything.

Hopeful the vintage video will help you make a better cuppa tea.  I know it has helped me!

Tea Biscuits by Whipped Bake Shop I want to try and make these!


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Favorite Finds- Charm Bracelets

I LOVE charm bracelets and charm necklaces for that matter. I especially like this new take on a charm bracelet. It seems more grown up and elegant compared to the dangling ones we had as children. These gorgeous charm bracelets are made by one of my favorite jewelry makers, Tamar from Nest Pretty Things. Her work, as well as her new kids line can also be found on Etsy, !

Handmade Coconut Oil Lotion

I finally made handmade lotion.  It turned out great! I was so excited. This lotion is great for really dry skin which is what my husband and daughter have. Most homemade lotions follow the same ingredient ratio which allows room for creativity.  An ounce of natural bee wax for every cup of oil/butter plus a few tablespoons of a "water" to change the consistency from thick, like a cream or thinner like a lotion.  I developed my own recipe using these ratios.

All of my ingredients, except my essential oils, came from Mountain Rose Herbs.  I love MRH.  They have tons of bulk herbs and tools. They can also be found on facebook which is awesome because they always answer your questions when you post. 

Handmade Coconut oil Lotion

(Make sure all tools and containers are clean and dry)

2 ounces Natural Bees Wax
1/4 cup Calendula Oil
1 1/4 cup Organic (unrefined  cold pressed) Coconut Oil
1/2 cup cold pressed Olive Oil

8 tablespoons Chamomile Infusion
61 tablespoons Aloe Vera Juice
(less "waters" will make more of a cream)

2 Tablespoons Vitamin E Oil
1/4 teaspoon Tea Tree Oil
15 drops essential oil Fragrance (add more if you prefer)

I made my own chamomile infusion by putting 1/2 ounce chamomile flowers in a clean pint jar and then adding boiled distilled water to the top.  You will need to use a knife or chopstick to stir out the air bubbles.  You may need to keep adding water until it reaches the top of the jar with 1/4 inch space left from the rim.  Let it 11steep for at least 2 hours. Strain into a strainer lined with a coffee filter or layered paper towels.  You can make all types of healing herbal infusions for lotion and salve making.  Lavender, Calendula, Plantain, St. John's Wort, Rose, etc. have healing and calming properties.  You could also use Flower Waters (Hydrosols).  
"Hydrosols, also known as floral waters, hydroflorates, flower waters or distillates are produced from steam-distilling plant materials. Hydrosols have similar properties to essential oils but are much less concentrated. Unlike their "essential oil added to water" counterparts, true steam-distilled hydrosols contain all the beneficial components that whole plant materials have to offer.
Hydrosols are usually a by-product of essential oil production, but the highest quality comes from devoted distillers who, with artist-like precision, steam small batches of fresh floral and plant material strictly to produce hydrosol (the hydrosols offered by Mountain Rose Herbs are produced in this fashion)." -- Mountain Rose Herbs

Chamomile Flowers

You don't have to make an herbal infusion if you don't want to.  You can just add more aloe vera gel/juice instead. Also Rose water which can be found at most grocery stores can be used.

After the herbal infusion is ready then the next step is to melt the bees wax in a double boiler.  

1oz Beeswax bars

Melting beeswax in a double boiler
While the bees wax is melting, measure out your oils/butter.  No matter how much of each oil/butter you use, it has to equal 2 cups total.  So next time I may try one cup coconut oil, 1/2 cup shea butter, and 1/2 cup of an herbal infused almond oil. See? So versatile and fun!

Calendula Flower Oil

Cold Pressed Olive Oil

Virgin Coconut Oil
Once all oils/butters have been measured, pour into bowl with melted wax.  The wax will seize up at first but it will melt back down again as you stir. 

Melting oils and beeswax
Once everything has melted pour directly into the blender so that it can cool.  You just want it to thicken like a pudding but not harden.  Next you will add your "waters" through the top of the lid while you are blending.  You will notice the sound of the blender change as the water is being added.  Add any essential oils or natural preservatives at this time as well.  

Cooling oil mixture
 Blend well and then pour your finished lotion into your desired container of choice.  Something opaque and air tight is recommended.  I re-used a plastic pump lotion bottle that I cleaned well. I am storing the extra in a glass jar and placing it in the fridge.   

Oil mixture blended up with the waters

I recommend storing extra lotion in the fridge unless you use a natural preservative which I am going to get for my next batch.  I am told that unrefrigerated lotions containing NO preservatives will last a few weeks at room temperature. I did add a little tea tree oil to my lotion which will help cut back on bacterial growth but there are definitely stronger natural preservatives available.  

Both T-50 Vitamin E Oil and Grapefruit Seed Extract are used as natural preservatives because they are anti-microbial and will extend a product's shelf life. Both can be found on From Nature With Love.  (Stay away from the parabens!)

Well I hope you all try this recipe and maybe even experiment and develop your own special handmade lotion or creme.  I know I am hooked!!!  Next I will make a face cream. Yay!

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Classic Aga Stove

I fell in love with AGA cookers a few years back. There is just something so "Old World" about them. They have the look of a wood stove but the convenience of gas, kerosene, bio fuel or electricity. They come in so many colors and several different sizes. AGA cookers were developed in 1929 and are still widely used in England. I love the way they look and I hear their cooking abilities are amazing.
I love the set up for this AGA featured in the movie Practical Magic. I adore this kitchen!

Here is the smallest version of the AGA cooker.

Below is a video of Martha Stewart showing how easy it is to cook a full meal on an AGA cooker.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Favorite Finds- Nest Necklace

I LOVE birdies, nature, robin's egg blue, etc so I was excited to find this beauty in Pinking Edge Design's Etsy Shop. My husband remembered that I was drooling over it and bought it for my birthday! So sweet he does listen! hahaha

Gluten Free Chocolate Cupcakes

The Better Homes and Gardens cookbook has to be one of the best and most versatile cookbooks out there. It covers most of the basic recipes that we Americans know and love. It even explains how to make coffee and cook rice. I know those are simple things but I would recommend this cookbook to any new bride or someone wanting a great cookbook that they can learn the basics from. The front section of the BH&G cookbook explains cooking terms, the uses for herbs in cooking and different types of store bought items you would need! Perfect for those lost in the kitchen. Every woman in my family owns a Better Home and Garden cookbook!

I decided to be bad today and make some Gluten-free Chocolate cupcakes. I used the basic, One-Bowl Chocolate Cake recipe from my BH&G cookbook. I substituted the plain flour with Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free flour.

(I love these paper cups I found at Micheal's)
One-Bowl Chocolate Cake

1 cup all-purpose flour or Bob's Red Mill Gluten-free Flour (if using Gluten free add 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk (I used buttermilk)
1/3 cooking oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg

Grease and flour 8x8x2 inch square baking pan or use muffin tin with paper cups.

Mix all dry ingredients together. Add milk, oil, and vanilla. Beat with electric mixer on low speed just until combined. Add egg and beat for about 2 minutes. Pour batter in pan or divide evenly into muffin tins lined with papers.

Bake in a 350 oven for 30-35 minutes for cake or 15 minutes for cupcakes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes.

While the cupcakes cool you can start the yummy butter cream frosting which can also be found in the cookbook.

Butter Cream Frosting

3/4 cup butter, softened
9 cups sifted powdered sugar (about 2 pounds)
1/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
I add 1/2 teaspoon sea salt. It adds a lot.

In a large mixing bowl beat butter until creamy. Gradually add in 2 cups of the powdered sugar. Slowly beat in the 1/4 cup of milk and vanilla.

Gradually beat in the remaining powdered sugar. Beat in additional milk to reach spreading consistency (about 2-3 tablespoons). This made more than I needed but it does freeze well for later use.

I piped my frosting on with a large star tip. They were so moist and they tasted "real".

Excuse the terrible quality of the pictures. They are from my iPhone. I hope to get my computer back soon so I don't have to keep blogging with my iPhone!

Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Tis The Season for Corn Chowder

We haven't had much of a summer here in the Bay Area. We have had some hot mid days but our mornings and nights have been cool. That could be one of the reasons why my little garden hasn't done too much. It needs the Virginia humidity.

I finally gave in and decorated for fall. I picked up a few more fall pieces from Michael's which were all on sale! Michael's is so good about putting there decorations on sale before the season even arrives.

The mention of the word Fall automatically reminds me of the rich autumn colors of the East coast, the smell of fall leaves, the smell of cured tobacco, trips to Williamsburg, Yankee Candle, spices and let's not forget soups, stews and chowders!

Tonight I made a yummy corn chowder. I used a recipe from my epicurious app but change quite a bit to make it my own. I love the sweetness of the white corn.

Corn Chowder

3 tablespoons olive oil
4 stalks celery, cut into 1/2-inch slices
8-10 small red potatoes peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/4 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
1 bunch green onions, coarsely chopped, including half of greens
4 cups frozen white corn
5 cups chicken stock
11/2 cups heavy cream

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat and sauté the celery for 3 minutes. Add the potatoes, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Stir in the green onions and corn and add 2 cups of the stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until the potatoes are almost tender, about 15 minutes.

Add the cream and simmer, uncovered, until the potatoes are tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Mash 1/3 of the potatoes and add remaining stock. Let simmer till it thichens.

Serve with crusty bread or crackers.

Oh it was SO yummy!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone