Posts tagged ‘homemade’

2017, December 8

Winter in a jar

For this Winter, I had to decorate the apartment very simplistically. That was pretty much the case since 2014 truthfully, ever since we had a very curious kitten underfoot. The next kitten is even more energetic. Didn’t thought that possible, but oh well. Simple decorations it is, so I decided on jar ornaments. I crafted something like it for last Fall and I love the way these Winter ones turned out!

Winter in a jar

jar with a lid, to your liking in size
Winter-themed items to place inside
tissue paper
crafting paper

Wash your jar(s) out well, and remove any labels from its side. Mine were huge pickle jars which I wrapped in a wet towel to soften the labels, then ran them under the tap and used a kitchen brush to rub the labels and adhesive off.
Let dry thoroughly.

Once dried, start adding Winter-themed items into the jar. I made two jars.
In one of the jars I placed red tissue paper, a fairy ornament I received for Christmas a few years back from a dear friend (from Soul Silver by Sally Sutherland), and a car driving home a pine tree. The latter I made myself by placing a cute ribbon around a craft pine tree, then gluing it onto the roof of the car.
Into the other jar, I added a string of battery-operated white yarn-ball lights and covered its on/off switch with some more red tissue paper.

Screw on the jar’s lid.
Mine weren’t a single color, so I cut out and glued on a round piece of crafting paper to cover up the pickle brand’s name on the jar lids.

Place your jar on a side table or where ever you like, and enjoy the Winter decor.

Happy crafting ;)

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2016, December 16

Recipe of the Month: Panettone sheet cake

From what Wikipedia tells me, Panettone is a type of sweet bread loaf originally from and one of the symbols of the city of Milan, usually prepared and enjoyed for Christmas and New Year in Italy. It has a cupola shape, which extends from a cylindrical base and is usually about 12–15 cm high for a Panettone weighing 1 kg.

My recipe is definitely not the above described Panettone, but a toned-down, sheet cake version of it by the same name. I got the recipe from a friend in Paris.

page-panettone

Panettone sheet cake

2,5-3 mugs sugar
4 mugs flour
10 g baking powder
10 g vanilla sugar
4 eggs
1 mug oil or melted butter
1 mug yogurt

Stir together the sugar, flour, baking powder, vanilla sugar, oil and the egg’s yolks.
Beat the egg whites and the yogurt together with a mixer, and then combine with the other ingredients.

Line a baking sheet with baking paper, pour the mixture into it and add thinly sliced dried fruits, chocolate shavings or crushed hazelnuts, pecans, peanuts, etc. on top.

Bake for about 25-35 minutes on medium heat.

Serve with coffee, tea or a glass of warm milk. It’s the perfect sweet treat during sweater weather.

Bon appétit! ;)

 

2016, December 9

What do You gift writers?

2016 is nearly over and I’d like to thank every single one of my readers for making it such an amazing one, and my bloggy friends who have filled it with so much awesome blogging, flash fiction, poems and even essays to read, each week!

Here’s wishing you all an early Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

tea-book-gift

As for my blog post’s title? I wrote this back in 2011 for FFDO, but wanted to share here on my own blog now since that website closed.

This is the season of gift giving, and more often than not, we end up with gifts we like, but which aren’t too related to our field. When I give a gift I like to really think about what the person would enjoy and use. Shopping for writers is rather easy, in my opinion, as we all have access to the basics.

While I do not personally have the one formula you could use to determine what each of your fellow scribbler and avid reader family members or friends would like to receive, I have put together a short list of things which could tickle their fancy.

  1. Gift baskets. I know what you’re thinking. Gift baskets come in all shapes and sizes, but not one shop or website carries one named “Writer’s gift basket”; right? They don’t, or at least not the ones I looked through around here as research for this article. So why did I include this here? Because, you can make it yourself!
    Grab a pretty basket and fill it up with: pens and pencils, pencil cases, bookmarks, journals, stapler & staples, ink (either for a pen or for a printer), notepads, erasers, post-it notes in any or all shapes and sizes, stationery, note books (maybe something fancier, like a leather note book), day planners, diaries, bookplates, writing-themed magnets (magnetic scrabble fridge tiles), a book light, memory sticks, and chocolate. Every writer loves chocolate.
  2. Books. Kind of obvious, yes. But every writer I know has a never-ending wishlist. Many have books on the craft of writing, technical books, collections of writing prompts or all those wonderful novels and poetry out there which they would love to own, yet simply can’t afford or feel that they shouldn’t indulge.
    See if they are willing to share the wishlist (or they might have one online on Goodreads, Amazon, or BookDepository so you can check it without them even suspecting what you are up to).
  3. I’d like to include Literary Magazines, either Single issues or Subscriptions under this category, too. This is a luxury most poetry or short story writers would appreciate as it’s always nice to hold a magazine in hand while reading rather than the average e-mail subscriptions.
  4. Amazon Prime might be a good idea as well. I think if there weren’t the added benefits like free same-day or two-day delivery, unlimited streaming for movies and series, hundreds of playlists and unlimited photo storage, the single reason a writer would choose Amazon Prime is: borrowing one book per month with no due date from the collection of over 800,000 books of the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library!
  5. Other Software or Updates. In this very tech-y day an age, most writers use a laptop for writing, on a daily basis. The key software for these writers is a word-processing software. Most PC users use Microsoft Office-based Word, however there are other ones out there as well, like Scrivener or White Smoke.
    If you’re feeling fancy, ask if they’d like to switch from their free blogging platform to their own self-hosted domain. They’re not as expensive as eight years ago when I first started blogging.
  6. An editor. Let me rephrase that since editors might not let you tie a pretty red bow around their neck and agree to sit pretty under the Christmas tree: An editing session. Are the writers in your life in need of a second opinion? Are they letting their masterpiece collect dust on a shelf, or putting off writing/sending out query letters because it needs more editing? An editing session could help them out big time.
  7. A creative writing class, workshops or conferences. Either in “real-life” or online, many writers would like to further perfect their craft. Have they got fear of writing, issues with time management, or are in need of fresh creative energy to move out of a rut? There are several websites you can check out, and in case you can not decide on your own, include the writer in the decision making process. They are the ones who best know what they need.
  8. Customized items. Great for stocking fillers. In this area of gifts, there are many things you can customize, like jewelry: cufflinks, pins and badges, pendants, bracelets engraved with their favorite (short) quote, earrings;
    clothing: T-shirst, neck ties, hats, scarves;
    and even kitchen items: mugs, serving trays, bowls, wine bottles, etc. And you can never go wrong with writing-themed Christmas tree ornaments!
  9. High end pens. Quill pens, fountain pens, ballpoint pens. These are good choices for every writer of course, but especially for pen-enthusiasts.
  10. Book ends. They seem underrated, but I think they are worth keeping in mind because they not only keep books from falling off not-yet-filled-up shelves, they allow for building a bookshelf anywhere – on a windowsill, a desk, etc. They also come in all shapes and sizes and are customisable to your writer’s dreams.
  11. Time to write. This can be as simple as arranging play-dates, taking the kids to a movie one day per week, going to visit the grandparents without your spouse on a weekend, taking over some of the chores or cooking dinner yourself so your writer will have a bit of time to themselves, to clear their head from the everyday worries and write without interruptions.
  12. A place to write. If you are in the mood to make over a room in your house, how about giving your writer a cozy space to read and write in? A door to shut would be ideal, but even simply rearranging a shared space to make room for a bookshelf, a comfy chair, or a desk will go a long way. Build them a book lover’s Christmas Tree!
  13. A writer’s retreat or travel for research. If you can afford it, check out a few places close by and send your writer on a short writing retreat. Or if they have a trip coming up, offer to extend it by a few days. Send them on a short trip for research, if for example, they are city-bound yet writing about a beach setting.
    A weekend away from a noisy house, in a cute little bed and breakfast is guaranteed to make their year!

How about you? Would you be happy to receive any of the above listed? How do you shop for the writers (and readers) in your life? Any ideas I could steal?

~~~

As a disclaimer, the above listed are things I use and love, or I would love to receive.

I have personally worked with Karen Schindler in the past, and she has edited my work in such a way that she kept my voice throughout the stories; sometimes sending them back with edits that I didn’t even notice at first were not my own writing. I highly recommend Karen’s services.

In April 2012, I took Milli Thornton’s Ace Your 10K Day online class. She has several classes to choose from, her insight for the issues I had were more than helpful as they were easily applicable; and overall, Milli was a pleasure to work with.

If you’re crafty, a while back I made myself some classy handmade bookmarks, and cute corner bookmarksa writer’s clock, pretty calligraphy ornaments and a travelogue and built a Booklover’s Christmas Tree! With a little imagination, they can easily be transformed to your own needs and even crafted with your children to gift to the writer in their life.

Happy gift giving!

2016, November 4

Fall in a jar

So, last year around Halloween, I bought some pasta. But not just any kind of pasta, Halloween-themed pasta! It is in three different colors and they’re shaped like pumpkins, spiders and bats. So very cute!

I’ve only tried cooking them once, and albeit still cute after done, they are so awful-tasting I had to throw them away.
I kept the left over pasta in the bag though, figuring I might try to use it for some kind of DIY project. And that day has come!

It’s a bit difficult to decorate the apartment with a way-too-curious and mischievous kitty underfoot, so for Christmas two years ago, I made a jar ornament (I’ll write about that one in December.) And it was perfect – no kitty attack whatsoever!
Two days ago, I remembered that little DIY project when rescuing the chestnut and acorn bowl from falling off the shelf due to curious paws, and decided to try the same for a fall-themed decoration. Here’s how I did it.

fall-in-a-jar page-fall-in-a-jar

Fall in a jar

jar with a lid, to your liking in size
Halloween-themed pasta
chestnuts
acorns
tea candle
crafting paper

Wash your jar out well, and remove any labels from its side. Mine was a huge pickle jar which I wrapped in a wet towel to soften the labels, then ran it under the tap and used a kitchen brush to rub the labels and adhesive off.
Let it dry thoroughly.

Add the pasta as a first layer, then place the chestnuts and acorns on top. Place the tea candle in the middle. I love that you can even burn the candle if you want, and then put it out by screwing the lid on.

Screw on the jar’s lid.
Mine wasn’t a single color, so I cut out and glued on a round piece of crafting paper to cover up the pickle brand’s name on the jar lid. It just so happens that it’s a Halloween poem, so it adds even more to the Fall feel of the decoration.

Place your jar on a side table or where ever you like, and enjoy the Fall decor.

PS: of course, you can skip adding pasta or any of the above mentioned and use what ever Fall things you have laying around. The possibilities are endless.

Happy crafting ;)

2016, August 12

Recipe of the Month: Three-Ingredient Banana Pancakes

I’ve made banana pancakes before, and I still love that recipe a lot!
But I’ve tried being more cautious of what I eat lately, which led me to search for a healthier variation on banana pancakes. I found several that I wanted to try, and ended up with combining ideas and recipes.

The result is below. ;)

page healthy three ingrediant banana pancake

Three-Ingredient Banana Pancakes 

2 bananas
2 eggs
1/2 cup Brinta, or whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon or pumpkin spice
pinch of salt

Mash the bananas in a bowl using a fork.
Beat the eggs in another bowl with the Brinta, baking powder and cinnamon. Add to the mashed bananas and mix the batter well.
Of course, you can use a blender to combine all the ingredients at once if you want.

Heat butter in a skillet over medium heat. Spoon the batter into the hot butter and cook the pancakes until bubbles form and the edges are dry. Flip them over and cook until browned on the other side as well.

Serve as is, or with fresh fruit on the side and a cup of Vanilla-Caramel Tea.

Bon appétit! ;)

2016, June 10

Recipe of the Month: Easy Oven Fajitas

Let me start by saying that I love Fajitas seasoning! I once bought some and used it for basically everything I cooked, including sprinkling it on sandwiches – but then couldn’t find that exact brand ever since.
The recipe below also has the seasoning mix recipe included, so I was beyond excited to try making it myself. It is perfect, honestly!

Looking for new ideas of how to cook chicken, I gave this easy oven Fajitas recipe a go a few months ago. It was one of the best recipes I tried, and I just love that it’s all done in next to no time. The only thing I’d change is my choice of casserole dish, since the one I used was a tad on the small side for the amount I was preparing. It cooked well and all, just a little hard to stir in.

page fajitas

Fajitas Seasoning

4 Tbsp chili powder
2 Tbsp paprika
2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cumin
1 ½ tsp cayenne pepper
4 tsp sugar
2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp corn starch

Mix all of the ingredients for the fajitas seasoning in a small bowl and place in a small jar or seasoning mix bottle. Use especially for Fajitas, but it tastes delicious in sandwiches as well.

Easy Oven Fajitas

2 small (or 1 lg.) onion
2 medium green bell peppers
1 medium red bell pepper
1 medium yellow bell pepper
1 lb. chicken breast
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
4-5 Tbsp Fajitas seasoning
1 medium lime
8 (6-inch) tortillas
½ cup sour cream (optional)
¼ bunch cilantro (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the onion and bell peppers into ¼ to ½ inch wide strips. Place them in a large casserole dish. Slice the chicken breast into very thin strips and add it to the casserole dish with the vegetables.

Sprinkle the seasoning over the meat and vegetables. Drizzle the vegetable oil over everything, squeeze the juice from half of the lime and then use your hands to toss the ingredients until everything is well coated.
Bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, stirring once half way through. Squeeze the juice from the other half of the lime over top of the meat and vegetables after it comes out of the oven.

Scoop a small amount of meat and vegetables into the center of each tortilla. Top with a few sprigs of cilantro, a dollop of sour cream, and an extra squeeze of lime if desired.

As a side note, this is a great dish all by itself – in case you’re not feeling like wrapping it up in a tortilla or having any bread on the side.

Bon appétit! ;)

2016, May 20

Recipe of the Month: Leek & Green Beans Chicken Stir-Fry

While thinking of recipes for my birthday lunch, I realized that I’ve only recently started adding leek into recipes when cooking.
I recall my grandma making some recipes with leeks when I was little, and me hating the taste of every single one of them. But now that I have control over what goes into certain dishes, as is with many other things actually, I especially like cooking chicken with leeks.

When in the mood for something super simple, yet delicious and filling, I turn to this chicken stir-fry recipe.

chicken leek green beans

Leek & Green Beans Chicken Stir-Fry

500 grams chicken breast
1 large leek, or 2 small leeks
300 grams green beans
pinch of salt, pepper, ginger, and curry
olive oil
splash of wine or chicken stock
1 tbsp soy sauce

Cut the green beans up (if you want to) and cook them in a pan with a bit of olive oil, seasoned with salt, white pepper, ginger and maybe some curry, tossing frequently for about 5-10 minutes. Add a little water if you’re not using frozen green beans straight out of the freezer.
After the beans turn color, cut the chicken up in small cubes and add it to the pan.

When the chicken is nearly cooked, add in the leeks, thinly sliced. The leeks get sauteed quickly while the chicken finishes cooking. You can add a splash of wine, too, for an extra flavor; or just add a bit of chicken stock so the leeks have some “juice” to saute in. Add one tbsp of soy sauce.

Cook for another 5 minutes, then serve as is or with a side of rice.

When in the mood for something fancier, I go with my homemade Szechuan Chicken recipe. Come to think of it, it’s not even that it’s fancier, just has more ingredients, hence more prep work to it.
And to tell the truth, when in lack of time or if I’m just plain lazy, I leave out the green beans and make the chicken stir-fry with leeks only. It still tastes wonderful!

Let me know if you try making either of these! I’m curious to see if you liked them.

Bon appétit! ;)

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