November 20, 2011 § 8 Comments
Ok, so a month later, finally a recap of my first TV appearance!
I had the most wonderful experience at Canadian Living Magazine headquarters and Citytv Breakfast Television here in Toronto on October 25th! It was a very early morning, which started at 3:45 when my alarm sounded, after which I immediately threw hot rollers in my hair, and loaded my car with carved pumpkins. Arrival and set-up was 5:30. Make-up 6:00. And my super short three minutes of fame slated at 7:53 am.
This may sound odd to you — in the spring months I had actually visualized being on Breakfast Television and carving my butternut squashes. A premonition? “The Secret” come to life? Ok, I’m not here to prove nor disprove the law of attraction. However, back in the spring, I had a moment of reflection after a couple of friends urged me to pitch my crafts to the show. I supposed if I would pitch anything in the spring, it would have to be for something six months ahead, in the fall. I thought, if I were to make my first crafting appearance on live local TV, I’ll carve squashes.
As it goes, I didn’t bother with the pitch. Who cares about a random blogger carving anything on live television? The end to a reverie.
Then the bizarre twist of fate. While I was in California last month, I received an email. The short of it: Breakfast Television. Me. Carving Pumpkins. Here’s to you, universe — in my hands are the fate of pumpkins, not squashes! Seriously, though, what are the chances that my first television appearance would be to carve some autumnal gourd as I had earlier prophesized?
More importantly, you’re probably wondering — how do I get a random email request such as this?
I could not be more thankful to Canadian Living Magazine. I guess I have been silent here and not been revealing much about the work I do outside of this blog, until the work manifests itself in public. This year, I have had the greatest creative opportunity to work on crafts projects with Canadian Living Magazine. You’ve read the posts I wrote for The Craft Blog earlier this year. But, I have also been busy designing some fun crafts for the magazine’s print issues in 2012. The process is lengthy for print publication, and crafts ideas and articles go through a gestation period of sorts for about ten months before they are born into the world. In fact, this month of November, I was busily crafting for the April and May 2012 issues. Yep, despite my lull online, I’m not totally a slacker (not entirely, though I should totally pick up the pace on this blog)!
So, on with the show! We had four segments filmed live inside the Test Kitchen (where the magazine prepares all recipes in-house). I joined the three amazingly talented women: Austen Gilliland (Senior Editor and Craft Editor), Adell Shneer (Test Kitchen Manager), and Rheanna Kish (Food Specialist), and we each did a segment on creative Halloween ideas.
Of course, seeing that this is a month late, I just went to Breakfast Television’s site and wasn’t able to find the full episode that day. However, I found our individual video clips. I have no idea how to embed non-Youtube videos, so please click on each image to link to the video:
Adell had the first segment and concocted a cauliflower “brain” with dip. You totally have to try this recipe out. It is packed with cheese and absolutely delicious!
Me and my hair and, oh right, my pumpkins went for the second segment. I really did not anticipate a third of the segment would become about my hair! I wish there was time to explain the “convertible pumpkins” which let your children design and paint the features of the pumpkin. The features can then be placed on the pumpkins for funny faces during the day and removed to make jack-o-lanterns at night
Rheanna had the third segment and she made some yummy sweet-salty-spicy zombie popcorn. I could not have enough! Sweet. Salty. Spicy. You would be remiss not to try this recipe out!
The fourth clip of Austen doing creepy crafts is not available. Boo. It’s really too bad, she made awesome paper packaging for the popcorn! On a good note, I did a search and found this clip from last winter when she shared cool crafts ideas from the book, “Create, Update, Remake”. How timely — these are fantastic projects and gifts for winter and Christmas! Enjoy!
July 25, 2011 § 27 Comments
Here’s another beautiful way to recycle your plastic bottles into decorative vases. Ridged rectangular juice bottles are so simplistic, they make quite some modern vases. Add a dusting of glitter and you have yourself a stunning set to add to your table or mantle.
To make your own recyclable glitter vases, you will need plastic juice bottles (I prefer ridged rectangular ones, like Ocean Spray), glue, paint, glitter, foam brush, paint brush, and X-Acto knife.
1. Using an X-Acto knife, cut off the top half of the plastic juice bottle.
2. Paint the outside of the juice bottle.
3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 for all juice bottles you are using. I painted each a different shade of purple.
4. Turn the bottle upside down. Apply glue to the flat bottom (currently the top) of the bottle, on the outside.
5. Spread glue using a foam brush.
6. Pour glitter over the glue.
7. Tap off glitter onto a large sheet of paper.
8. Repeat steps 4 to 7, applying glue and glitter to short segments of the bottle. It’s best to apply glue and glitter in segments to prevent glue from drying before glitter is applied.
9. Continue apply glue and glitter until the entire surface is covered.
10. Repeat steps 4 to 9 for all juice bottles you are using. I used a different shade of glitter for each bottle. Let dry upside down.
I smiled from ear to ear throughout the making of this craft yesterday, as it came into being with the help of serendipity. I knew I was going to make glitter vases out of my collection of juice bottles, but hadn’t a single idea what color it should be nor what flowers to display. I figured, I’d have the idea sorted out by the time I finished instructing a dinosaur workshop (my wonderful weekend job and the origin of many creative musings).
Along my drive, I randomly caught sight of purple lavender-like weeds on the side of the road. It was decided my vases would be gradations of purple. I made a mental note of the exact location of the weeds so I can later return for some pickings. After teaching the class, I decided to stop into a Dollarama I hadn’t ever visited (no, I haven’t visited all of their stores in the Greater Toronto Area; well, at least not yet). There, I found a trove of beautiful, fine glitter in cute jars and in an assortment of colors, none I had seen at other Dollaramas before. I also found artificial lavender stems available in exactly three shades of purple, as I envisioned. The weeds and the artificial lavender stems are so uncannily alike, it’s just so amusing how things turn out sometimes. Everything I imagined appeared before my eyes. I love those days.
July 20, 2011 § 1 Comment
My cousin and I had a delicious dinner last night at Julie’s Cuban, capped with a sweet serving of tres leches. I was had at the mere mention of milk (“leche”), but three (“tres”)? My knees buckled. My head felt faint. I have had many a love affair with milk, but none with such gusto as with this dessert of cake soaked in three types of milk – evaporated *heart racing*, condensed *palms sweating*, and cream *moans*.
Not surprisingly, twenty-four hours later, here I am blogging about my very own twist on tres leches: milk-soaked cake donut holes topped with golden ripe mangoes.
Canadians are so loyal to our famous coffee/donut shop chain Tim Hortons that the term “Timbits” has become generic for all donut holes. If you are in the US, there are many Tim Hortons shops sprouting in the northern states, and many have started to swarm downtown New York. It is a must-try, if you find one in your neighborhood! For these tres leches, I used the simplest, least sweet donut holes: old-fashioned cake timbits.
It is the season for mangoes. They are plenty in the summer and are sweetest at this time. I recommend sweet Philippine mangoes. If you cannot find them, ataulfo mangoes are the second best thing. Make sure to pick the one that is most golden.
Here are the easy steps into turning your donut holes into tres leches. This is a recipe per portion:
3 cake donut holes (not yeast donuts)
1/4 c evaporated milk
1 tbsp condensed milk
1 tbsp heavy cream
1. Place donut holes in a cup or goblet.
2. Slice the donut holes through the middle to ensure they will absorb as much of the milk mixture as possible.
3. In a separate cup, combine all three milks.
4. Pour over donut holes.
5. Chill in the refrigerator for an hour. Every fifteen minutes, turn the donut holes in order that all sides are soaked evenly.
6. Top with chopped mangoes and whipped cream.
July 17, 2011 § 2 Comments
I was never an advocate of homemade ice bars until last summer, after experimenting with batches of almond muhallebi for O.T. Muhallebi is a Turkish milk pudding thickened with rice flour and topped with nuts. During one of my kitchen experiments, I coarsely ground a generous portion of vanilla roasted almonds which I combined right into my homemade milk pudding, instead of as garnish. It was nuts. Like, nutty. Like, utter nutty goodness. I was inspired to freeze the almond muhallebi mixture in a popsicle mold. Since it is a milk pudding, there is none of the crystallized ice often found in popsicles (in fact, it is the crystallized ice that always had me disappointed at homemade ice milk bars). Even though no cream is used, the result is a thick and creamy ice bar (merit goes entirely to the rice flour), packed with bits of soft crunch and a wallop of nuttiness
I left my popsicle mold in California with O.T. and regret not picking up an extra set for my use here in Toronto. I have scoured so many dollar stores and home stores in Toronto in search of a bar-shaped popsicle mold, to no avail. If you are in the west coast, you can find popsicle bar molds at Daiso for $1.50. I finally found this pretty one for $2.99 at Meijer in Michigan when I visited my parents for the 4th of July weekend. And impressively, they perfectly match the milk/juice carton basket weave vases that I crafted in April.
Sadly, I have not been able to find vanilla roasted almonds since last summer. But there is a new kid in town — cocoa roast almonds. I am a vanilla type of gal, however these bad boys have won me over.
To make these creamy, nutty ice bars, you will need:
2 c milk
3 tbsp rice flour
3 tbsp sugar
1/2 c cocoa roasted almonds
1. In a food processor, process the almonds to a coarse grind.
2. In a sauce pan, whisk together milk, rice flour, and sugar over medium heat. Whisk continuously until the mixture boils and thickens, approximately 20 minutes. Remove from heat.
3. Whisk in ground almonds.
4. Let cool for five minutes and spoon into popsicle molds. Freeze overnight.
You may substitute the rice flour with all purpose flour if you do not want the hint of rice milk flavor in your popsicles, as the rice flour will leave that. I enjoy rice milk and, like the Turks, I come from a culture that makes a majority of desserts with rice flour. All purpose flour does the trick of thickening without any added flavor. Next time, I will try it with some almond milk.
July 16, 2011 § 5 Comments
Has it really been over a week since I last crafted? Our summer in Toronto has been Tremendous and who wants to offend the sun by staying indoors?! When I started the full-time job in March, I would scramble home to make sure I could craft before sunset. I absolutely refuse to take pictures at night (I’m sure you can tell which crafts were made at night from their poor pictures) and I have yet to build a “studio” or light box of sorts where I can take pictures under artificial light. I was under the assumption that come warm weather, I would have extended hours, as late as 9 pm, to craft and take pictures with natural light pouring through the windows. Right. Of course. Well that theory is out the window! Extended hours so my crafts could see sunlight? How about me and my very vital human need for some Vitamin D? Yes, that’s where I have been — scarce and out of doors and making up the weight I lose in sweat by gorging on an equal (or greater) weight in summer treats. How has your summer been? By no way is this question an affront to those in the opposite hemisphere undergoing the opposite. It’s just that our summer has been gorgeous.
Speaking of gorging on summer treats, here’s one that is guilt-free. I’ve wanted to make these rolled paper ice creams since I rolled paper ornaments for Christmas. In fact, I’ve had planned for a long time now to make rolled paper everything. We’ll get to that later (if ever!…or at least not during these summer days). For now, rolled paper ice cream!
You will need construction paper, double-sided tape, mounting tape, and 1/8″ red ribbon.
1. Cut construction paper lengthwise (9″ long) in 1/4″ increments starting from 3″ wide down to 1″ wide (e.g. 3″, 2-3/4″, 2-1/2:, 2-1/4″ and so on until 1″). Take the widest piece (3″) and adhere mounting tape across the center. Take 8″ of ribbon, fold, and place on the mounting tape.
3. Take the second widest piece and adhere mounting tape across the center.
4. Center the strip on the previously rolled strip and roll.
5. Repeat, going from widest, until you’ve rolled the 2″ piece.
6. Adhere mounting tape on the bottom.
7. Take a brown sheet of construction paper. Cut into an 11″ circle. Cut circle into quarters.
8. Take one quarter and place double-sided tape on one of the edges.
9. Roll on top of the mounting tape to make a cone. Peel off the double-sided tape and affix.
10. Continue steps 2-5, by rolling the remaining strips (except the narrowest strip).to form the ball shape of the ice cream,
11. When you get to the narrowest strip, place the mounting tape directly on the center and cut it about 3/4″ from where you began. Place double sided tape where the seams will meet. This will ensure the final seam is flat, and not raised.
12. Roll the final piece only once around and cut at the seam.
14. Cut red construction paper into 4-1/2″ length and 3/4″, 1/2″ and 1/4″ strips. Repeat same rolling process to make a cherry.
Hang them up as fun summer party ornaments — how about some ice cream bunting?!
July 8, 2011 § 27 Comments
I realize the crafts I’ve most enjoyed making on this blog are ones inspired by my musings at hardware stores. In hindsight, the four years I toiled running a hardware store customer service desk during my late teens have paid off in dividends in the form of knowledge of unlikely crafty materials. I hope you enjoyed this week’s no-carve stamps made of caulking because I am not done with caulking yet!
These teeny tiny ice cream charms are made of caulking. And wooden dowels. And screw eyes. Yes, all hardware store materials. And to make them, you will need hardware store equipment. Don’t be alarmed, these cute charms are amazingly simple to make!
a. 1/4″ wooden dowel.
b. 13/16″ screw eyes.
c. Tube of white caulking/sealant.
d. Pencil sharpener. A regular sharpener will do, however, I used my electric sharpener.
e. Hack saw.
f. Drill with the smallest bit you can find. Drilling is optional, but I promise it makes things a lot easier.
With under $5 worth of materials, you can make dozens of ice cream charms to give away this summer!
1. Sharpen the dowel.
2. Using a hack saw, cut the sharpened point of the dowel into a cone. I literally did a hack job. The cut edge does not have to be perfect because it will be covered with caulking.
3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 until you have as many cones as you need.
4. Using a drill, create a very shallow pilot hole on the flat end of the cone. This will help ease the screw eye through.
5. Screw one screw eye into each cone, only deep enough to secure the screw eye, ensuring most of the length remains exposed.
6. Cut the tip of the caulking tube to create a hole no more than 1/8″ in diameter. Squeeze the caulking out onto the flat end of the cone, covering the edge. Continue squeezing the caulking while twirling the cone until you reach the eye of the screw.
7. Press each charm upright into a Styrofoam block to dry. Let cure for 24 hours.
I must say, this is a project I contemplated long and hard since my first caulking project, candy heart coasters, back in January. It was almost natural to arrive at the visual idea of soft-serve ice cream from caulking, however, I spent an absurd amount of time considering the material of the “cone”. At first, only considering the shape and size of what is available in stores, I thought: wall anchor. But the color selection and the disproportionate ridges left me with little interest to undertake the craft. I eventually considered cutting the shafts off of wooden golf tees and keeping the top wider portion of the tee to create flat-bottomed ice-cream cones, as most soft-serve typically come. But I wasn’t happy, I wanted a cone — pointy, as it should be, in the truest meaning of the word. Then yesterday, with a conscious glance at my pencil (the very one I use everyday to log my ideas on paper) it occurred to me that my pencil sharpener could go on a dowel-sharpening mission It’s almost miraculous that we can alter our perspectives when are minds are willing to do so!
June 25, 2011 § 7 Comments
Here’s a DIY-fashion kickoff to the first weekend of summer! Now, if I may say, the last time crop tops were this explosive was in 1991, twenty years ago. Yes, I have full recollection, considering I was already in sixth grade. Now, if I must add (if you can add the numbers) — I really couldn’t, wouldn’t, shouldn’t wear a crop top now at my age. Or…not at least without layering a tank underneath? I do not have the guts to wear the top alone, the irony of which is needless to say, my gut itself.
I’m sure you’re catching on, I am really loving the basket weave. I baked that gigantic basket-weave cornucopia cracker, crafted those eco basket-weave vases from milk and juice cartons, so why not basket-weave my clothes, too?
For this project, you will need two identical t-shirts, a rotary blade and cutting mat, or fabric scissors. Conveniently, when I started planning to make this tee two weeks ago, Michaels had their shirts on sale, 2 for $6.
1. On one shirt, cut a boat neck.
2. On the same shirt, trim the sleeves to your preference.
3. On the same shirt, cut equal vertical strips (I did 3/4″) from the left of center, starting from the bust all the way to the bottom of the shirt. Make sure there is a centered strip. When you get to the end, trim off the last strip — this will provide the horizontal gaps on the sides.
4. Repeat from right of center, until your entire shirt has vertical strips across. Trim off the last strip, as above.
5. Take your second shirt, cut equal horizontal strips from the bust all the way to the bottom of the shirt.
6. Start weaving. The easiest way is to fold back alternating vertical strips on the front and back of the shirt, then sliding one horizontal strip through.
7. Take your folded strips and bring on top of the horizontal strip, on the front and back.
8. Repeat the weaving by folding back alternating vertical strips on the front and back of the shirt, then sliding one horizontal strip through. Take your folded strips and bring on top of the horizontal strip, on the front and back.
9. Continue weaving until you have used all of your horizontal strips.
10. Tug on each strip to stretch it out.
11. Knot each vertical strip to the last horizontal strip. You can play with the distances of the vertical strips to create various gaps. I knotted about half of vertical strips close to center to be as close as possible to each other. Then I knotted the remaining strips on the side at about 1″ apart. Patterns can differ greatly from where these knots are tied.
Now wear it and bare it!!