Monday, January 31, 2011

Dyeing Fabric

This project made me nervous, it's something I'd never done before.

I wanted a nice heavy duty fabric in plain black for a project we'll talk about tomorrow.  The only thing I could find was some heavy canvass but it looked like this.
I didn't want to wait around and try to find something so I figured I'd dye the fabric black.  I'd never done this before before but I'd read about it.  I knew trying to get a deep black might not happen so I was prepared for a light grey.

I washed my fabric and then I took this bottle

I filled my sink with hot water (I didn't want to use the washing machine because it's a front load and I rent) and dumped in the entire contents of the bottle.  I should have only need half but it said for dark colours double the quantity.  Scary looking hey?

I added my fabric and let it soak while I stirred and agitated for 40 minutes.

Looing good hey?
 When the 40 minutes was up I rinsed it really well and then washed and dried it.

The end result was not bad.  It sort of looks like an old black t-shirt, kind of faded.  For this project that'll be just fine but I think if I dyed it one more time I'd get an even better colour.

I would dye fabric again though, it wasn't as scary as I thought.

This post was long enough so come back tomorrow to see what I use the fabric for.

Friday, January 28, 2011

New Food Friday - Tomato-Feta Chicken with Orzo

Two whole link-ups!  I thought I'd go a little longer on my own, I appreciate the two that linked up last week.  

In case you're new around here, New Food Friday is where we try a new meal and then report back on the success or failure.  Tell us what you'd change and show a picture, it's a great way to add variety to your weekly menu.

Before I started documenting my new recipe's I made this orzo dish that was so bad it was inedible.  It was a bad recipe that we only ate one bite of before throwing it out.  Since then I've had half a bag of orzo I needed to use, this recipe sounded like a good way to do it.

Tomato-Feta Chicken with Orzo
2 Tbsp olive oil or vegetable oil (I used olive)
3 - 3 1/2 pound cut-up broiler-fryer chicken
1 Tbsp olive oil or vegetable oil
1 3/4 cups frozen small whole onions (I used fresh pearl onions)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup white wine or apple juice (I used apple juice)
2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro or parsley (I used cilantro)
1 Tbsp chopped fresh or 1 tsp dried oregano leaves (fresh are expensive, I used dried)
1/8 tsp pepper
2 cans (14 1/2 ounces each) stewed tomatoes, drained (Can someone please tell me why you ever use whole tomatoes?  They always say to chop with a spoon or cut them with scissors, why not just use diced ones?  That's what I used.  I also just noticed as I was typing this that it says to drain the tomatoes, I didn't do that and was a little surprised how liquid this dish was... draining would definitely fix that... oops.)
3 cups hot cooked rosamarina (orzo) pasta or rice (I used orzo)
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

  1. Heat 2 Tbsp oil in 12 inch skillet or 4 quart Dutch oven over medium heat.  Cook chicken in oil about 15 minutes, turning occasionally, until brown on all sides.  Remove chicken from skillet with tongs.
  2. Add 1 Tbsp oil to drippings in skillet.  Heat over medium-low heat.  Cook onions in oil mixture about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown.  Stir in garlic.  Cook and stir about 30 seconds or until garlic is light golden brown.
  3. Stir in remaining ingredients except pasta and cheese, breaking up tomatoes with a fork or snipping with kitchen scissors.  Add chicken.  Heat to boiling; reduce heat.  Cover and simmer about 20 minutes or until juice of chicken is no longer pink when centers of thickest pieces are cut.
  4. Serve tomato mixture over chicken and pasta.  Sprinkle with cheese and, if desired, additional chopped fresh cilantro.
It looked like this until I garnished like the above.
This dish was really delicious, I especially loved the feta on it.  I'll probably make it again but with some modifications just for convenience.  I would just use chicken breasts next time because it's what I had on hand.  The thigh and drumstick was a nice addition but Brad hates cutting around the bone.  I would also just use a regular onion next time because I have them all the time, the pearl onions were nice but I don't think they made a huge difference.  I'd also probably serve this on rice or egg noodles next time, again just because I don't stock orzo regularly and it's sort of hard to find.

Again, it was delicious and Brad really enjoyed about it, I think it even got a cheer (we took a page from Doug's book and we cheer over our good meals).

What did you make this week?  Link up below.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Apple Roll Up

This is a dish that my Mom made the other night.  She said it was delicious and wanted to link up to New Food Friday but she doesn't have a blog.  I said I'd share it with you so here is a yummy apple recipe.

Apple Roll-up
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
6 tbsp butter or margarine
3/4 cups  milk
4 cups cooking apples, peeled, cored and chopped
2  cups water
11/2 cups granulated sugar
butter or margarine to dot
cinnamon and sugar to sprinkle

Vanilla ice cream

Measure first 4 ingredients into a bowl.  Cut the butter until crumbly.  Add the milk and mix to form a ball of dough.  Don't mix too much.

Roll out 1/4 inch thick in a rectangle about 9x12 in. in size.
Spread apple over dough.  Roll out from the short end   (I rolled from the long side to make more slices)

Boil water and first amount of sugar in small saucepan slowly for 5 min.  Pour into a 9x12 pan.

Cut roll in 1 1/2 inch thick slices.  Lay slices cut side down in the syrup.

Dot with butter.  Combine sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the top.
Bake at 450 for about 25 min. until apples are tender.  (I found they needed about 10 more min.)

Serve hot with ice cream.  Made 8 rolls.

Doesn't this sound so yummy!  I think I'll have to try them. 
Sadly Mom left her camera in Utah so there's no picture of these.  If you make them you should send me one.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Beaded Wrap Bracelet

I've mentioned before that I read a lot of different blogs, with those blogs comes some really great idea.  This idea on C.R.A.F.T was one of them.  I loved it immediately and loved that she linked to such an awesome tutorial.  I'm not going to tell you how to make one of these because she does so well but if you want your own you can make one, really.  C.R.A.F.T. tells you everything you need to know.

The back clasp has this pretty bling.

Surprisingly I had just about everything on hand.  I really wanted one that wrapped around my wrist a couple of times but I didn't have enough beads so I went to Walmart and made this beauty.

I love the champagne beads with the black leather.
Also with the pretty clasp.

I think it would be really pretty wrapped 4 times with smaller beads.

I'm really trying to make to make an effort to wear more accessories but I just can't ever bear the price tag of new jewellery, making it myself is the perfect solution.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Rainforest Bouncy Chair (2 of 3)

I mentioned last week that I'm working on 3 different bouncy chair re-covers, you can see the first one I finished here.  This is the second and this chair turned out to be significantly more difficult than I was prepared for.  It's a different design that the other chairs I've re-covered (you can see them here and here).  It's finished but it sure tried my patience.  The toy bar on this one is different, not fabric covered and it plays music, vibrates and has lights.  I thought I'd stick with the jungle theme and bought some cute giraffe print to go with it.  The brown in the centre is soft, minky dot.  I think a baby will be snug and cozy in this chair.

Here's the before

Big improvement hey?  And some more before and after shots

Friday, January 21, 2011

New Food Friday - Roadhouse Pizza

Two weeks ago I issued a challenge to spice up your menu, cook a new recipe and share it here... sadly it seems I'm the only one interested.  Whether you join me or not I'm going to continue with the new recipes so I may as well blog about them.  I'll continue with my sad little linky parties just in case someone decides to join but if no one does it's okay, I'll carry on anyway.

We love pizza in our house, whether it's homemade or take out we love it all so I make it fairly often.  This week I decided to re-create a pizza we like to order out, it's called the Roadhouse and it's from Two Guys and a Pizza Place.  I also tried a new crust recipe, the one I used in the past is not great but it's probably the 1st and only dough recipe I used.  I figured it was time for a new one.

Roadhouse Pizza

Pizza Crust
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 tsp brown sugar
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

1. In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast and brown sugar in the water, and let sit for 10 minutes.
2. Stir the salt and oil into the yeast solution. Mix in 2 1/2 cups of the flour.
3. Turn dough out onto a clean, well floured surface, and knead in more flour until the dough is no longer sticky. Place the dough into a well oiled bowl, and cover with a cloth. Let the dough rise until double; this should take about 1 hour. Punch down the dough, and form a tight ball. Allow the dough to relax for a minute before rolling out. Use for your favorite pizza recipe.
4. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). If you are baking the dough on a pizza stone, you may place your toppings on the dough, and bake immediately. If you are baking your pizza in a pan, lightly oil the pan, and let the dough rise for 15 or 20 minutes before topping and baking it.
5. Bake pizza in preheated oven, until the cheese and crust are golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes.

For our toppings I started with a sauce of Ranch dressing.  Then I added cooked, sliced chicken breast, red pepper, bacon and cheese.

This pizza was delicious and very close to the take out we order.  I wish the crust had been a little crispier but I probably could have cooked it slightly longer.  I also needed to use more dressing and more cheese.  I think in our house we tend to over due it with the cheese so I was trying to cut back and I got a little carried away, a tiny bit more would have been nice.

I'm calling this recipe a success and we'll probably make it again.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Bouncy Chair Re-Cover - 1 of 3

There are lots of pregnant ladies around me right now and most of them are family.  With pregnant ladies come fun baby gifts and since there are lots I figured I'd get a head start on some baby gifts.  The best gift I was given with Catie was a bouncy chair so that's a gift I really like to give to others, they're really ugly though so I like to re-cover them first.  Over the Christmas season I bought 3, second hand bouncy chairs so now the re-covering starts.  I've finished one of the three so take a look and stay tuned for two more (I don't know the gender of any of these babies so they'll all be gender neutral).

This chair is the exact same style as the other two chairs I've done here, and here.  Since I've done it twice already it was a pretty quick project with no problems.

Here's how it started.

And a photo with the toy bar removed.

This chair vibrates and plays music and I think the Mommy will be very happy with it, hopefully she loves it as much as I loved mine.

Monday, January 17, 2011

A Look Back at 2010

I realize it's the middle of January but I still haven't posted any resolutions and I enjoyed reading this from last year so I thought I'd update it.

1. Did you keep your New Year’s Resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I didn't keep any of my resolutions, shame on me.  I wanted to watch the news daily (which I actually did for probably 6 months).  I also wanted to organize my day better, (I did sort of revise this by not being allowed to craft unless the kitchen was clean, that helped a lot) finish sending out thank you cards from Catie's baby shower (sorry, they're not coming) and become a Photoshop pro.  I didn't do one thing that make that happen.

I have set a few goals for this year, I'm going to roll-over the news one and do that again because I think it's important to be informed.  I also am setting a goal to sew in a zipper this year.  It's something that intimidates me but I feel ready to tackle it.  I also want to have less to apologize for this year.  You know those small situations where you look back and think how much better you could have handled things?  I don't want to do that anymore. I don't want to snap at my husband for no reason or treat people less than they deserve so I'm going to work on that.

2. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Surprisingly, I don't think anyone did.  I do have a pregnant sister, cousin and 3 sister-in-laws though so this year will be a busy one.

3. Did anyone close to you die?
 Two of my cousins husbands died and my Aunts husband.  I wasn't terribly close to any of them but all of them were sad.

4. What countries did you visit?
I went to the USA and that's it.  Not very exciting especially since I only went to Cutbank, Montana.

5. What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010?

An income!  Brad finishes school and will hopefully get a job that pays him money.

6. What dates from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

I'm terrible with dates so probably none, but it was nice when we found out the amount of the student loan given to us.

7. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
All of the sewing I've done.  I've done some projects I'm really proud of and I love the way I've been able to improve a talent.

8. What was your biggest failure?
  I tried making this skirt for Catie... it was really bad.  I know a skirt isn't a very large failure over the whole year but it's the only thing I could think of.

9. Did you suffer illness or injury?
No illness, no injury.

10. What was the best thing someone bought you?
  I got a palm sander for Christmas, I'm pretty excited about that one.

11. Where did most of your money go?
Housing and groceries.  And possibly fabric. 

12. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
3 really's is a lot of excitement, I just can't think of anything that major happening.  I was excited with how my car seat turned out or the great finds I got when Mom and I went to Great Falls but I'm not sure any of those deserve three really's.

13. What song will always remind you of 2010?

Brooklyn, by Wakey!Wakey!

14. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? I think I'm happier.  Catie is a fun age, Brad did well in school and I developed a new talent.
b) fatter or skinner? I think I'm slighly fatter.  The Christmas season was a delicious one this year.
c) richer or poorer? Richer (if you count the big student loan, poorer if you don't).

15. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Letting Catie play with other kids her age
16. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Watch TV

17. Did you fall in love in 2010?
I suppose I've fallen deeper in love with Brad and Catie.

18. What was your favourite TV program?
Lost. 6 seasons in 6 weeks, good show.  We also really like to watch Love It or List It.

19. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

Thankfully, no

20. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Mindy Gledhill

21. What was your favourite film of this year?

Lost and Found (short)

It's a 28 minutes kids movie that is perhaps the cutest thing I've ever seen.  I've seen it three times and wish everyone could watch it.

22. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I can't actually remember what I did on my birthday... I think Brad made me dinner though and we hung out which sounds perfect.  I was 29.

23. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

I feel like I had everything I could have wanted.  Having to drive less would have been nice though, being even closer to family would have added a lot to the year.  

24. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010?

Comfortable.  This year included lots of pajamas.

25. What kept you sane?

26. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
I can't say I follow any celebrity's.    

27. Who do you miss?

  Calgary family.  We're really ready to be back there.

28. Who was the best new person you met?

29. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2010?

Just be nice to everyone, all the time.

Friday, January 14, 2011

New Food Friday - Chicken Pot Pie

Okay, you've had your week to choose and make a new recipe, here's hoping I'm not the only one interested in the challenge.

This week I made a chicken pot pie.  I'm a little surprised that I haven't ever made one before and now I think it's a shame that it took me so long.  This recipe was delicious, one of those classics that I won't ever need a recipe for again.  The only change I made was leaving out the mushrooms since I hate them.  This was a real keeper that I'll make again and again, we felt so satisfied after the meal and the leftovers were just as delicious.  I think it would be super yummy with mashed potatoes on top instead of pastry some time.

 I hate mushy peas and I was really worried these ones would be overcooked but they were yummy.  The recipe says you may have to cover your pastry with foil to prevent over browning, I pulled my pie out 15 minutes early, covered it and put it back in because it was starting to brown too quickly.  I really appreciated that tip.
My version certainly didn't look as pretty as the one in the picture and for some reason my pastry did not turn out well but it was still tasty, just ignore the goo seeping on top (it was such delicious goo).

Chicken Pot Pie
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
salt & pepper to taste
2 tbsp finely chopped onion
3 cups chicken brother (I made my own from a store bought cooked chicken)
2 carrots, chopped in small pieces
2 celery stalks, chopped in small pieces
2 potatoes, cubed in small pieces
3 cups sliced mushrooms
2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup peas
3 cups cooked & diced chicken (I used the meat from the store bought chicken)
Pastry to cover 3-qt (3L) casserole or frozen puff pastry dough (I made my own even though it was not great)

Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat.  blend in flour, salt, pepper and onion.  Gradually stir in chicken brother.  Cook, stirring constantly, until smooth and thickened.  Add carrots, celery and potatoes.  Cook until fork tender.  In a small frying pan, cook the mushrooms in butter.  Add mushrooms, peas and chicken to vegetable mixture.  Mix well and pour into large casserole.  Cover with rolled pastry and slash to allow steam to escape.  Bake in preheated 400F oven for about 45 minutes, or until pastry is golden.  If pastry becomes too brown, cover loosely with foil.

Now it's your turn, what new recipe did you cook?  Would you make it again?  What changes would you make and I'd love to see a picture.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

High Chair Re-Cover

Some time ago I put out a call for projects because I didn't have anything to work on.  One of the responses was from a friend Carla who has a high chair she wanted re-covered.  A high chair is something I've thought about doing many times but we use one of those little clip-ons that doesn't have a cover so I didn't have a chair to work on, Carla's was the perfect opportunity.  I picked up a sample of vinyl from Fabricland to test sew and made some passport covers, confident that I could work with the new fabric I gathered supplies, Carla brought over her chair and went on vacation.  She'll come home to this beauty.

Here is the before.  I don't understand why all baby items must be so cutesy.

I was surprised at just how nervous I was to work on this project, I've done a ton of re-covering but when it came time to cut I was really hesitant.  Most of that came from this project having very unique challenges, mostly being I couldn't use any pins (I'd make holes in the vinyl) and I couldn't iron anything (melting!).  I solved the pins by using binder clips and tape and just did without the iron.

I started like usual by taking the old cover apart.  I wasn't willing to unpick all the button holes (where the straps go) so I cut around them.  Even though the old cover looks like it's three different pieces it was really just one that was painted.  Since I wanted to use solid black with the damask I had to do some careful piecing and that part worked even better than I'd hoped.  I also hadn't bought a long enough piece of the damask vinyl (I thought it was two) so I pieced it together lining up the pattern, I'm pretty pleased with how well it lined up and unless you look really close you can't even see where my seam is.

I added thick piping to the top (I had to make my own because both fabric stores I went to were out) and I put bias tape all the way around.  I hadn't planned on replacing the straps so I put them back on and it looked like this (except I'd already taken one back off in this picture).

I figured since there was navy blue on the frame I'd leave the navy blue straps to tie the two together but they looked awful!  The cover was classy and sleek and then you had these ugly blue straps.  I zipped off the Fabricland, bought new black strapping and replaced them.  If I'd had a larger selection of vinyl I would have chosen something to co-ordinate with the blue but with very limited options the plastic on the frame will just have to be ignored.

Here's what the back of the cover looked before

and after

I managed to hit some good sales so this entire project ended up costing $11.  Not too shabby for a piece of furniture that can now be displayed in her kitchen with pride.  Doesn't hurt that the high chair was second hand to begin with (I think it was even free).

One more before and after

It seems this is just like the strollers I cover, looking at the finished project I think, "well that wasn't too tough" but I distinctly remember hating lots of parts of this process.  The end justifies the means though and I'd do another in a heartbeat.

Sorry there isn't a real tutorial for this but being my first time I certainly wasn't ready to teach others.  I am more than happy to answer questions if you have them though.

Don't forget to check out my New Food Friday linky where we try out new recipes together.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Felted Brooches

My Mom is a crafting genius.  She went to Value Village and bought a Grey wool sweater, then she took it home and washed and dried it until it looked like it could fit Catie.  Out of that tiny sweater we made these cute pins.  It was a lot of Grey so she pulled out some red fleece and it was a perfect compliment.
Here's a close up of the individual pins (except the lone red one, I must have forgotten a close up).

They're so cute I just may make some for myself.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Baby Stroller Re-Cover

My friend Teddi called me up and asked if I was interested in working on a project for her, and was I ever.  This little baby stroller is adorable.  Not a little umbrella stroller like we're used to seeing, this stroller was very similar in design to the full size navy stroller I covered here.

It started out like this and it was in pretty rough shape.  The fabric was torn in a bunch of places and it was really dirty and just plain boring.

I took the old cover apart and used those pieces as my pattern.  I then cut pieces out of my new fabric and put them back together.  The solid pink is broadcloth that I doubled up and I finished all the edges with narrow pink bias tape, it's secured to the frame with heavy duty snaps.  The original had a seat belt for dolls but it closed with D-rings.  I can't really imagine a child being able to use D-rings so I replaced them with the kind of clip you'd use on a high chair.  I know all my nieces love clipping and un-clipping those so I think it's a nice improvements.  I think this stroller is adorable so I'm going to show you a bunch of after photos.

I put a doll in this one so you can see the size and how the belt clips.

Love how the handle changes position.

Now all I need to do is find another one of these for Catie because she loves it.  She won't stop pushing it around and she keeps putting random things in it.

Friday, January 7, 2011

New Food Friday - Lettuce Wraps

I like food.  Really good food.  I like to cook and eat yummy food but sometimes (and I hope I'm not alone here) I get stuck in food ruts.  I cook the same things each week or month and the really yummy food starts to seem ordinary and mundane.  In an effort to get out of this food rut I thought I'd try out a linky party.  Since this is the first week I don't expect a whole lot of participation but here's your warning for next week.

Here's how it works, this linky is all about new recipes.  I'm challenging you to try a brand new recipe every week.  Blog about it and then on Friday's you can come here and link up.  Tell us if you liked the recipe, what you liked about it, what you would change about it and if you would make it again.  Give us the recipe and a picture would be nice but not mandatory.

I've personally been doing this for a couple weeks, I've made some really good meals, some really blah meals and one really un-edible meal but I've loved the challenge.  It's made me go back through my recipe books and choose something I've been passing over for years.

Lettuce Wraps
This week's recipe was technically made for the first time last week but I made it again this week because we enjoyed it so much.  The only change I would make had nothing to do with the recipe, this is technically an appetizer.  We ate it for dinner and while it was lots of food we ended up not feeling satisfied.  The first time we ate this it was New Year's Eve and we had tons of appetizers so it was perfect, make it for an appetizer, not for dinner.

1 tsp cooking oil
1 Boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced into 1/2 " pieces (I used some shredded chicken I had in the freezer)
1/4 cup grated carrot
1/4 cup slivered onion
1 Tbsp slivered green pepper
1 Tbsp slivered orange pepper
1 Tbsp slivered red pepper
1/4 cup water
1 pkg Ichiban noodles (chicken) broken into 6 pieces
1/4 cup unsalted peanuts
1/2 Ichiban seasoning packet
1 Tbsp Hoisen Sauce
1 tsp liquid honey
1/8 tsp pepper
1/16 tsp chili powder
1/16 tsp garlic powder (I used a clove of garlic)
1/4 tsp hot pepper sauce
1 head Butter Lettuce

Heat oil on medium.  Add chicken, scramble fry until no longer pink.  Add carrots, onion and peppers.  Stir fry until veggies are tender-crisp.  Add water and noodles, stir.  Cover.  Simmer for 2 minutes until noodles are softened.
Add next 8 ingredients, stir until heated through.  Transfer to a small bowl, set bowl on platter and surround with lettuce leaves.  Have person spoon about 1/8 of chicken mixture into lettuce leaf.  Roll.
Makes about 8 wraps.

This recipe starts off so lovely and bright.
Here are my peppers all cut up.  Confession... I didn't notice how little of each colour pepper this recipe called for before I bought all three.  Had I noticed I probably would have stuck with one but I'm glad I didn't notice.  The three colours were so pretty and tasty.
My carrot and garlic grated together.
So for my chicken, like I said I used some shredded, cooked stuff I had in the freezer so I skipped the fry step.  Instead I started by frying my veggies.
Once they were tender-crisp I added my Ichiban.  Now the recipe says to break into 6 pieces but I really wanted it broken up a bit more, I'd do that next time (sorry the photo is sideways, I couldn't bear to fix it).
Once that was done I threw in my chicken and everything else and it looked yummy like this.
This looked much prettier on New Year's Eve when I put it on my Mother-in-law's platter but I had to make do with a cereal bowl and dinner plate this time.
To eat you take a lettuce leaf and fill it with the yummy stuff.
Wrap it up and eat.

This recipe was a huge hit and everybody was wowed by it.  I'm sure it would be the hit of whatever event you took it too.