Monday, November 29, 2010

The greatest thing since sliced bread

Several months back I decided to eschew store-bought, preservative-laden bread, and tried my hand at baking it myself. I tested out a few different recipes, with varying levels of success. The bread I baked was good enough to replace the store-bought kind, but I wanted to bake the perfect loaf... one that would send us into carbohydrate nirvana. Luckily, it didn't take much longer until I found Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day, which promises readers that with only minimal time investment, homemade artisan bread can be yours for the baking. I did a quick online search at my local library, and within a few days I had a copy on loan. Let me just say, this book is fantastic and definitely delivered on its promise.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Fuzzy bunnies!

Vancouver has uncharacteristically been turning into a bit of a winter wonderland, with snow piling up and temperatures dropping to -6 Celcius. Not that I'm complaining... having spent over a decade of my life living in Calgary (where it's currently -40 Celcius. Yup.), a little cold doesn't faze me. The winter weather made me yearn for something warm and fuzzy to keep my toes warm in the house, since I hate socks. As luck would have it, I had a pattern for some cute and kitchy slippers. However, it was a crochet pattern, and I didn't know how to crochet. So, naturally, I learned how. Armed with my copy of The Happy Hooker, I sat down with a crochet hook, some yarn, and a cup of coffee. I followed the well-written and easy to understand directions, and in one morning had figured out all the basic stitches I needed to know. That was a few days ago, and tonight I'm typing this out with the coziest pink bunnies on my feet. It wasn't too difficult and I'm glad I finally had an excuse to learn to crochet.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Creative Quickies

Being crafty doesn't have to mean huge time commitments, big investments in materials, or complicated projects. I try to do something crafty every day, even if I'm low on time. I'm pretty sure it helps keep the creative juices flowing, and sometimes it's nice to work on something quick and simple when I'm waiting for inspiration to strike for something more involved. As an added bonus, lots of practical household items can be made super quick, and on the cheap. Here are a few of my quickies:

Cat toys I knit up with leftover yarn, stuffed with catnip and more little bits of yarn. Voila! Delicious kitty wontons (and an eggroll)

Monday, November 22, 2010


Lately we've been getting into making our own beer and wine, and it's proving to be a huge success. It's fun, easy, and very practical- the cost of making our own homebrew is a small fraction of what we'd spend at the liquor store. We've been making an Australian shiraz for our wine, and Mexican cerveza beers. The first batch of beer is finished, and was delicious... exactly what we'd want in a store-bought beer. The second batch is freshly bottled and will be ready to drink in about two weeks. I've also got batch #2 of red wine sitting in a carboy, aging to perfection. Batch #1 has been in bottles for a couple of weeks but still needs a little more time before it's quite ready. Although, a few bottles have somehow managed to be opened a little early, and have been pretty pleasing to my taste buds. Here are a few shots of the whole process:

Starting the red wine by adding yeast and water to the grape juice concentrate. The yeast starts the fermentation process that makes the wine nice and boozy

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Knotty Boys

When I first learned how to knit, I would look at cabled pieces and wonder what sort of magic was involved to make patterns weave into and out of each other. Then I learned how to cable knit, and realized it is really easy- it just involves transferring a few stitches to a separate needle, effectively putting them on hold while you continue along your row, returning to the cable needle when called for. By changing the order in which stitches are knit, you can create some really neat patterns, such as these hats I just finished:

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Veggie yum yum + the best hummus recipe ever

I am vegan, and my boyfriend is a vegetarian. When people first hear of my dietary choices, one of the first things I am invariably asked is, "What do you eat?!" People often assume that once you rule out meat, eggs, and dairy, all you are left with is some sad lettuce, a protein deficiency, and unsatisfied taste buds. In actuality, the opposite is true. Here are a few examples of what you might find on our kitchen table on any given night:
Portobello mushroom bake, steamed green beans, and heirloom tomato salad- all organic, and purchased at our local farmer's market

Monday, November 15, 2010

Knit Cowl

Lately I feel like the Edward Scissorhands of knitting, only with needles as fingers instead of scissors, and yarn as my medium rather than bushes. I'm starting and finishing new projects every couple of days, trying new patterns, and learning new techniques. Today I finished a simple but rewarding piece- a supersoft cowl made of organic cotton:

Interweb and mason jars

The internet is an amazing resource for anyone who, like me, wants to take matters into their own hands and grow, make, bake, build, and create as much as possible, rather than relying on commercially available, mass produced stuff. Sites such as Apartment Therapy Re-Nest, Ready Made, and Planet Green are full of inspiration. There are also so many great blogs written by folks who are taking the road less traveled, and reaping the rewards. If anyone doubts that living a DIY life is possible or rewarding, it won't take much more than a little bit of online research to prove otherwise. I'm still a rookie, looking forward to the day when I am as self-sustainable as possible, but these sites go a long way in keeping me informed and working towards my goals.
One goal I've recently achieved has been learning how to can and make preserves. I kind of came into it late in the season, when most of the summer's bounty was spent, but I was still able to give myself a little intro, and some tasty treats too. I learned the process reading Put 'Em Up, which I got from the library initially, and then decided it was worth owning. I stocked up on local, organic treats at the farmer's market, and then got to work:
First, grape fruit roll-ups. These turned out a little soft, I maybe should have cooked them even longer to dry them out more.

Cooking up the grapes

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Here are some ways I found to reuse glass jars and bottles instead of tossing them in the recycle bin:
1. Use empty, clean wine bottles as water bottles to keep tap water cold and ready in the fridge. No need for a plastic water jug, and if you have a few (we have 3), you will always have a next bottle chilled when you empty one.
2. An empty soda bottle (Jones Soda in this case) can be used as a dish detergent dispenser when topped with a plastic spout. It's much nicer looking than the plastic one at the store, and most detergent can be diluted with an equal amount of water, making it last twice as long.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Rainy Daze

I love spending rainy fall days cooking, knitting and generally being homey. Living in Vancouver, there's certainly no shortage of rain, and today was no exception. I spent my morning finishing this beehive-esque hat, which was super quick and easy to make:

I'm going to give it to my best friend for Christmas, along with these pretty, leafy, armwarmers that I made a couple weeks ago:

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Leaf gloves

I finished a new pair of fingerless gloves today. I knit them using this pattern from Knitty. However, for some reason, while the cuff turned out great the hand was enormous and kind of misshapen. I had been really excited to knit these, and since I loved the pattern and had already made both cuffs, I decided to overhaul the pattern, kept the design on the back of the hand, and redesigned the rest of it. I'm quite happy with the results, although I made a couple of changes for the left one after I knit the right. I'm going to keep this pair for myself as a prototype, and make another pair soon to see if I can perfect the design. I've been wanting to start designing my own patterns and have done a few little customizations, so these gloves gave me a good excuse to kick it up a notch.
Any suggestions for improvements?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Kale, mail, and politics.

These are kale chips, and they are delicious. Personally, I think kale is highly underrated- curried kale and rice is one of my favourite side dishes. However, kale hasn't ever really screamed "snack food" to me- at least, not until I read the recipe for these kale chips on one of my favourite blogs. They are easy, tasty, and healthy, which makes me a guaranteed fan. To make them, wash some kale, blot dry, and cut out the thick middle vein. Then cut into 2" pieces, toss with a little olive oil and spices of your choice (sea salt, pepper, and cayenne is a winner), and bake at 350F for about 10 minutes - until edges start to brown. Then eat. See? Easy. Try it immediately!

Monday, November 8, 2010

DIY Candlelight

A while ago I made a little tealight holder out of a mason jar, some gorgeous fall leaves, and a few strips of packing tape. I got the idea over at Resurrection Fern, and I really like it. I used the same materials to decorate a recycled wine bottle I now use for olive oil, as well as another glass bottle I plan on using for homemade bath salts. Those didn't last too well though- there was still too much moisture in the leaves and they lost their colour. Luckily, I think the heat from the candle in the mason jar was just enough to dry out those leaves fully, and the candle holder looks great at night.

 To make this, all you need to do is take a mason jar, and place lovely dry leaves all around. Then cover in clear packing tape to seal it in. Get out any air bubbles and voila! Done.