Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Wicked Winter Breakfast....Baked Apple...

I thought it was worth reproducing this post from over four years ago, as aside from cakes, bohemian decorating tips, and tips for going gracefully grey, it has the most views of any post since I started my blog. A baked apple. Who'd think??? Thousands of views. Go figure. And thankyou to whoever keeps looking at my humble baked apple....lol!
So here it is from 2011....

This luscious looking baked apple with home made greek yoghurt was my breakfast this morning. I prepared it last night, left it in the refrigerator, and just had to pop it into the oven for 30 minutes to bake before consuming with relish. That's figuratively speaking, there was no relish on the side of my plate!

If you've only ever thought of baked apple as a dessert, now's the time to review that idea. It's fruit, it's healthy, and it's tasty. Not for me the smoothies and mueslis favoured on cafe menus. Not at this time of the year. This is so easy, you'll want one for brekky every day.

You'll need:

One small apple. Mine was a Royal Gala, about the size of a tennis ball or a little smaller.
2 teaspoons dried mixed fruit of any kind. I just used commercial mixed fruit.
A large pinch of almond slivers or flaked almonds. You could also use coconut, macadamias or any other nut you fancy.
A large pinch of cinnamon.
1/2 teaspoon local organic honey.
1 large tablespoon thick drained Greek yoghurt for serving.

Then just:

Wash and dry the apple and core it. I have an apple corer for this but you can easily do it with a sharp knife, but cutting a square around the stamen, then running a sharp knife all the way through the apple top to bottom, using the square as a guide. You should then be able to just push the core out, leaving you with a tunnel down the middle of the apple.

In a small bowl, combine the dried fruit, almond flakes, cinnamon and honey.

Using clean fingers, push this mixture into the tunnel of the apple. If preparing the night before, you can now refrigerate your apple.

Preheat the oven to 180C and put your apple on a lined baking tray. Bake for approximately 20-30 minutes depending upon how firm or squishy you like your apple.

When cooked to your liking and oozing juice and honey, remove to a serving plate and enjoy with yoghurt on the side.
Very yummy.

Monday, June 1, 2015

It's only 206 days to Christmas!

It's true! Christmas isn't far away!
Well....if you're a DIY-er that is.
This Warrior Princess inspired headband, styled on similar ones by designer brand Mimco, was something I made for my daughters Dance Troupe, and I've already had a dozen requests for similar ones just to wear out! Tip your head to the left, and imagine this one worn headband style, with the stunning applique` on the left of the wearers head, and the gold tipped black feather facing back and pointing down behind the shoulder. It's rather fabulous!
So these are definitely on the to-do list here.
Here's how I made mine....
I needed:
1 wide plain black headband
1 sheet gold temporary tattoos
1/2 metre (approx. 1/2yd) two different types of small feathers on satin binding, usually called 'feather trim'
6 large feathers of varying sizes and colours
Metallic gold acrylic paint and a small paintbrush
Sequinned or rhinestone and beaded long applique of choice approx. 15cm/6 inches
So the first thing to do is to cut a length of each of the types of smaller feather trim, long enough to glue to the rhinestone applique`. That's the feathers attached to satin binding. Use a hot glue gun, to glue one row lower when viewed front on, and the second so it peeks above that one. I left some of the fluffy, lower tufts showing but you could just have the silky tips visible if you preferred. So you have a rhinestone applique`, with two rows of feathers attached all the way around, making it significantly larger.
Now, the larger feathers. I bought two each of large black Coque feathers, one white Coque feather, some oilslick feathers with vivid blue bases, and a purple and black flecked one. First position them in their approximate spot on the headband (halfway down on the left for us), and trim them so they don't dig into the wearers neck or shoulders. Trim the spines to fit the width of the headband so they're not showing at the front once glued into place.
Using the small paintbrush and resting the feathers on a surface you don't mind marking, such as an old dinner plate or chopping board, paint the tips and edges gold. As much or as little gold as you like. Set them aside to dry. This takes about 30 minutes.
 Once they're dry, take your plain black headband and your hot glue gun, and carefully glue the large feathers into place, facing them so they point to the back and down behind the wearers shoulder blades, or according to how you want them positioned.
Now take your embellished feather and rhinestone beaded applique`, and glue it over the spines of the glued feathers to hide your handiwork.
Now take a metallic gold temporary tattoo, and following the instructions, apply this to the unadorned side of the headband to make it look finished. Alternatively, you could paint it gold with your metallic paint, or simply buy metallic headbands to begin with.
And you are done!
Similar Mimco headbands sell for between $75 and $95, and my daughters dance teacher loved these so much, she has commissioned one from me for herself!
I adore making gifts, and I make a list about now, and decide what is going to whom.
Starting early on Christmas planning saves money, sanity, and time, and gives us the ability to source gifts and treats that are truly meaningful.
How do you know what special thing a special person longs for, if you don't ask?
Now sometimes the best way to ask, is not to actually 'ask', but rather to be observant and attentive.
For example, it's only through looking at my daughters Pinterest boards, that I know she adores sloths (of all things!). So I am in the process of making her a little sloth made from grey tipped white fur.
It's only through watching my sons Facebook feed that I know he really loves a particular whiskey...something I can plan to buy when it's at a good price between now and December.
My husband only mentioned yesterday how much he loves a particular Cinnamon and Citrus soap I gave him a few years ago. It's hard to come by, so I have plenty of time to find some.
I make little entries in my notes on my phone all the time, as ideas arise in conversation. A particular plant for this person, a book by a favourite author for that one. A silk scarf, $32 at a designer shop nearby, can be found for less on eBay or at the sales, and a gorgeous wallet my sister admires, can be a special purchase.
Some things like pencils with pompom tops, adored by my younger nieces, can be purchased on eBay for mere cents if sufficient time is allowed for the 'free shipping' that means that they must come via Outer Mongolia and the North Pole, judging by the length of time they take to arrive!
And then of course, there's the lovingly crafted hand made gifts and cards that take time to create, but sometimes are the most valued of all.
This year I'm making Viking themed gifts for many family members as they are all fans of both the Vikings series, and Game of Thrones. Bib style necklaces adorned with rhinestone and beaded appliques for the women of the family, and regal throw rugs for the men, in rich brocades sourced from the remnant bin or when Spotlight have a sale on those fabrics. Again, it's having the time up your sleeve to gather the materials at a comfortable price.
My little granddaughters will get vibrant pompom trimmed linen for their beds, and very special nightgowns to match, trimmed with all sorts of pretty ribbons and braids. I'm also going to attempt some 'just-like-me' rag dolls, meant to look like the girls themselves. I'm starting to think it's a rather ambitious project though, so I'll have to see how I go. In the end, it might just be rag dolls or a softie, depending on time constraints. See? I'm already thinking I don't have enough time!
So let's start now. Let's make our lists, check them twice, and start looking for those special somethings, or the materials to make them. Let's give ourselves and those we love, a special Christmas, not from a store, but rather, as The Grinch says, something a little more.
For me, this is an opportunity to really be creative. As you would all know, my gifts have been almost exclusively food based for many long years, but I feel it's time for a change. There will undoubtedly be some last minute foodie gifts come November-December, but I'm not planning those just yet.
The joy of my new craft and sewing room, is the ability to have the sewing machine set up permanently, with materials at hand, to drown your thoughts in at a moments notice. The other day, I made a little Babushka inspired doll, scented with lavender flowers hidden in the stuffing, and trimmed with fur and lace, for my granddaughter. A little face was appliqued using some scraps of pink sheeting, and a face stitched in black for the eyes, and red for the mouth in mere minutes. All up it was a 30 minute project and my darling little girl, at 3 years old, has not let the funny little thing out of her sight since!
Don't let your lack of skills stop you from being creative. I believe everyone has a creative gene in their heart somewhere, and it's just finding the 'right' creative, that slows us down. I know after many years, that I am best with small projects that are finished quickly. Not for me the long haul, unfortunately!
Pillowcases and trimmed sheets, simple nightdresses, softie toys, beaded appliques (where the hard work is already done for you!) used to embellish cardigans, jeans, bags, headbands, cushions and decorative bed scarves, scarves cut from vivid scraps of silk and trimmed with neon pompoms or fringing are hot at the moment too, and sell for wild prices in the boutiques. Gucci recently released a denim skirt embellished with rhinestones, and selling for $1600, and Dolce & Gabbana showcased ripped jeans, with chinese brocade showing through the rips for over $1000. Gosh. I can steal that idea and make it my own!
You really don't need more than the most basic skills, a sewing machine and a hot glue gun for any of those, take my word for it! I am actually the laziest of seamstresses and crafters, and if it ain't finished in 30 minutes, forget it!
I love the Bead, Trimming and Craft Co. for my bits and pieces, but mainly because they're not far from me, and I don't have to factor exorbitant postage into the equation. I also find the owners there really accommodating and helpful, and willing to work within my budget on projects.
Just walking in there is inspiration personified, and you must (if you're a local in my city) see the divine samplers, supplied by the Swarovski company to showcase their new products, displayed on the walls. Much like the old embroidery samplers I did as a child, they are just a series of pretty effects on calico, made into a wall hanging, but with SPARKLE! The crystal studded front door step is a thing to behold as well.
For me, it there is sparkle in the way of beads, rhinestones and sequins, textural interest in the form of brocade, silks, satins, braid, ribbons, pompoms, ric-rac or other trims, or detail in embroidery or lace, I'm hooked :)
What's your 'thing', and why do you love it, how do you use it, and where's the best place for the rest of us to follow your lead?