Over the River and Through the Woods...

I'm off to Vancouver early tomorrow morning, so actually it is over a few rivers and through a lot of woods. In spite of the awful weather and treacherous roads we have loaded up the car (including a quilt for a new baby who may or may not be named Franklin) and will bravely venture into the cold, cold world. Nothing less than a plea for help from one of my kids (and the promise of meeting a new baby) could induce me to do this. I hate bad roads!!!! But maybe they won't be that bad and for sure it will be beautiful. And at the end of the road are two of my very favorite people. So well worth lots of rivers and (practically) endless woods.

I'll let you know about the name.



Toothpaste is good for:

a. ridding one's hands of the ever so alluring (and enduring) smell of chopped onions and garlic.
b. cleaning teeth
c. causing canker sores
d. brightening bling!
e. all of the above

The correct answer is 'e' because:
 a. You can indeed have fresh smelling hands after a stint at the cutting board by washing up with your garden variety toothpaste. (Good to know,  I really hate rushing off to some commitment or other and realizing that my hands smell quite definitely onion-ish.)
b. And of course, your pearly whites look a lot better after the same treatment. Just remember to floss!!
c. If you have a sensitivity to sodium laurel sulfate - the sudsing agent in most toothpastes - the unfortunate result is very often a mouthful of canker sores. Look for a brand that doesn't list SLS as an ingredient and you will likely be a lot more comfortable,  and  your teeth will be just as clean.
d. When all your diamonds are looking a little lacklustre, a tiny dab of toothpaste on a soft toothbrush applied with a gentle hand will brighten them right up. (I don't know what a jeweller would say about this one but I have done it for a pretty long time and whenever I get my ring checked nobody tsk tsks)



When I was just eight years old my mom taught me how to do magic. Those of little imagination call it sewing, I believe. But it really is magic! Just think. You can take something (say a piece of fabric) that may be beautiful - or not so much - in and of itself but usually of limited use, and make something that is not only very useful but also beautiful and interesting. And you can have fun and enjoy a challenge while doing it. I call that magic.

Last week I had a fun afternoon practising some of the best kind of magic - making something great out of something that is no longer needed. We had three pair of pajama bottoms that had been Merin's. They didn't fit Eden the way she liked (too short for her beautiful long legs) and Aubs needed some new pjs. So, time to make magic.

It is actually stupidly simple. You need a pair of old pants or pajama bottoms, a basic pant pattern (I used Butterick # 4647), basic sewing notions (thread, elastic, maybe some bias tape), good scissors, a bit of imagination, and about 45 minutes per pair.

Start by cutting the old bottoms along the crotch seam and down the inseam. So that what you have looks like this.

Lay both legs out together, either right sides facing each other or wrong sides facing (doesn't matter but you want them to match up along the edges and to have the existing seams be both on the inside or outside - this is getting a bit long but trust me, you need to have them match). Lay your pattern piece on the fabric and pin, then cut it out. Because kids grow so very fast I cut the leg length on the long side.

Sew the crotch seam and then the inside leg seam. Make a casing for elastic at the waist and thread a piece of elastic through that is cut to the waist measurement of whoever you are making the pants for.

About now is when the real fun begins because you can get creative. For Aubs I had fun with the 'style' of the hem or bottom. For one pair I made tabs that we tied to hold up the extra length and look style-y.

For another, I took advantage of the nifty hem detail of the original pants and made a casing under it so that there was a little frill. I used the silk tie from the waist of the original pjs to thread through the casing and tie at the ankle. Very cute!

And the last pair, has a simple elastic casing to stop her from tripping over her hems. It makes a darling "bubble" finish at the hem.

Some of the advantages of making over? How about - really soft? really cheap? (free!) really fun? or really magic?

I am the luckiest grandy. I love this little girl soooo much - we have the best time together. It seems like yesterday when I was sewing with her mom hanging over my shoulder. Like mother, like daughter.
Photo credits to Aubrie's mom: Eden Lang. You can see a few more really adorable pictures of the projects on Eden's blog.


Drowning in Tear Sheets

Full disclosure - I like to read magazines. A lot of magazines. Much of my vast (ha!) store of semi-interesting and potentially useful information can be traced to one publication or another. A somewhat frustrating by-product of all this reading is that sometimes (okay, all too often) I can't remember where I read that fascinating statistic or yummy recipe when I want to refer to it with more authority than simply 'I read something about that...', so I started to pull the articles and recipes from the magazines to keep for reference. I fully intended to file them. I did. But the tear sheets piled up. I tried putting them in binders with clear pages but that was too "fiddle-y" and so I always put it off to a day when I had more time (which means never). But being a person that craves order I needed a better solution. One that looks good. And I found one!

It is super-simple - like all good solutions. I bought a file box at the book store, some simple file folders from the office supply store, and used a free printable from Cathe Holden that I found at www.scjohnson.com. I printed it on sticker paper, cut out the labels, applied them to the folders, sat down and sorted the tear sheets, 'floating' handwritten recipes, as well as recipes that I had printed from various favourite sites. Filed everything. And sat back, well-satisfied with it all. And the best part is that it is so simple I keep it up.

So there it sits on my counter, ready to reference or add to, just looking pretty!

You do need to check out Cathe's blog. She has oodles of really great ideas and projects. Super fun!


clever baby

Could she be any more beautiful? or clever? I really doubt it. And if she is neither clever or beautiful I don't know it and you couldn't tell me!

In the category of things I love I would have to put my iPhone. It may be totally boring but it is one life changing tool. And one of the things that I looove about it is the camera - and I have only the 3GS! I have so much fun playing with it. One of my favorite photo apps is "picture show". I used it for this image. Lots of fun, I would say.


Scones with Lisa T.

A couple of weeks ago my friend Lisa (maker of the most delicious scones) graciously invited me to come over and see how she made them. I had been the happy consumer of her scones on a few occasions and jumped at the opportunity. (To be honest, I was just plain excited - she really makes incredible scones. And I like scones.) Lisa modestly claims that she has no special ability and just follows an Ina Garten recipe. I think she has a magic touch and hope that she shared not only the recipe but that magic with me. At any rate it was fun, as easy as she promised and best of all we got to eat scones at the end! With tea.*

Cranberry Orange Scones

4 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsp baking powder
2 tsp kosher salt
1 Tbsp grated orange zest
3/4 lb cold unsalted butter, diced
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup cold heavy cream
1 cup dried cranberries
1 egg beaten with 2 Tbsp milk (for egg wash)
1/2 cup icing sugar
4 tsp freshly squeezed orange juice

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and orange zest. Add the cold butter and mix at lowest speed until butter is the size of peas. Combine the eggs and cream and with the mixer on low speed, slowly pour into the flour and butter mixture. Mix until just blended. The dough will look lumpy. Combine the dried cranberries and 1/4 cup flour, then add to the dough and mix on low speed until blended.

Dump the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead it into a ball. Roll the dough 3/4" thick. You should see small bits of butter in the dough. Flour a plain round cutter and cut circles of dough. Place the scones on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Brush the tops of the scones with the egg wash, sprinkle with sugar and bake for 20-25 minutes, until the tops are browned and the insides fully baked. allow the scones to cool for 15 minutes. Whisk together the orange juice and icing sugar (adding up to 2 Tbsp more sugar if needed to make a good consistency) and drizzle over the scones.

All that's left to do is give a bunch away because otherwise some people may eat more than they aught.

Thanks soooo much Lisa!

* herbal of course! in good LDS tradition. ha!


Just Plain Old Chocolate Pate

Last night we had a few friends over for a casual meal and some good conversation. It was fun and easy. We had gyoza (as a main course - which the Japanese would consider odd for sure but then we are not Japanese and we love gyoza so...) and rice and one of the couples brought a broccoli salad (which is also not very Japanese but like I said before....). Also not very Japanese is the dessert concept - at least it isn't traditionally Japanese but you should see the line-ups at the high-end chocolate shops in Roppongi Hills. Anyway, I decided to try a new recipe that I had seen in the November Chatelaine magazine that had arrived the day before. It promised to be easy and reading the ingredients it didn't look like it could possibly be anything but very, very good. It was more than that - it was incredible! And as easy as promised.

I have no pictures to seduce you with - by the time I decided that this should be shared there was nothing left but the 'remains of the day' and although that would have been a testament to the yumminess it would have been less than seductive as a visual image. Without any more fanfare here is the recipe.

Chocolate Pate

168 g dark chocolate, preferably good quality*
2/3 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 Tbsp sugar

Line bottom and sides of a small (6x3.5") loaf pan with plastic wrap, letting wrap hang over sides of pan.

Microwave chocolate, cream, butter and sugar in a bowl. Heat for 3 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. Pour into prepared pan. Refrigerate until firm, at least 6 hours.

To serve, turn out of pan and remove the plastic wrap. Slice into pieces and serve with cocoa powder. (Or do like I did and put it on a pretty serving platter unsliced, with a knife, and let your guests serve themselves.)

* I used my very most favourite bar - a Lindt Excellence Sea Salt Dark Chocolate. In my opinion the bit of salt really does something amazing to the chocolate.

Just so you know - it was a definitive hit with all. And again, so you know, you really, really want to make this. Soon. And often.

I served it with some softly whipped cream and bowls of raspberries, blueberries and some wonderful ripe red pears that we sliced at the table. It was (again) pretty casual presentation but it looked impressive and tasted better.

A Little Bit Giddy

About a month ago my old and very valued iMac developed symptoms of a terminal illness. So very sad. And I was very sad because this is not a good time for our family to be buying things like new computers and other such luxuries. But my very wonderful husband agreed that I should have my own computer still and ta da!!!! today the Purolator man brought me this super-cool,amazing, fantastic (I know - way too many superlatives but I mean it!) and much anticipated new iMac. I am so excited. I can't tell you. But I am feeling a bit giddy.