Tuesday, January 10, 2012

finally, a terrarium

i finally made a terrarium to call my very own! walking on main street last week i found a weed-whacked bunch of living moss. i'm not sure why it was lying on the sidewalk, but i couldn't just leave it there, orphaned and alone. so i rescued as much as i could carry and toted it home. 

searching for the perfect vessel, i noticed a vintage le parfait french mason jar, found last year on a thrifting expedition through the yard sales of new westminster. it was perfect! the addition of a teensy bit of soil and a tiny little fern is perfectly simple. i have a few spray-painted golden rocls to add to the mix, but they're drying and i'm impatient. ;) 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

blood orange marmalade (with scotch!)

so i must admit, i do quite like marmalade. just the right combination of citrus, tartness and sweet. in years past i've made many versions, but i can say without a doubt that this one tops them all! the sweetness of blood oranges and meyer lemons combined with the smokiness of a great scotch. this is as good as it gets - especially once a slice of sourdough toast gets involved. 

after sifting the many recipes online i ended up modifying the basic certo marmalade recipe. it's as easy as can be. i canned two separate batches, and both times it worked like a charm.

blood orange marmalade (makes about 5 1 cup / 250 ml jars)

7-8 small organic blood oranges
2 meyer lemons
1/8 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups water
5 cups white sugar
1 packet certo liquid pectin
1 oz good scotch (optional - i used aberlour a'bunadh, what i had on-hand)
  1. sterilize jars and lids using your preferred method.
  2. slice the top & bottom off of two meyer lemons and three blood oranges. 
  3. peel using a sharp knife or veggie peeler. 
  4. slice rinds as thinly as possible, in about 2 cm lengths.
  5. place peels, water and baking soda in a small saucepan. 
  6. bring to a boil over high heat. 
  7. cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
  8. chop the peeled fruit and reserve (i quarter oranges and chop into 1 cm segments)
  9. peel and chop the remaining 3-4 oranges and reserve.
  10. make sure you've removed all the seeds!
  11. combine boiled peels with enough chopped fruit to total 3 1/2 cups. place fruit in a stock pot.
  12. bring to a boil and simmer, covered, for another 10 minutes over medium heat.
  13. add the sugar and stir well to combine.
  14. bring back to a boil, stirring constantly. 
  15. boil hard for one minute.
  16. remove from heat.
  17. add certo liquid pectin.
  18. add scotch if desired.
  19. stir to settle any foam that rises.
  20. pour into hot jars and seal immediately.
  21. place on wire rack to cool for a few hours.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

holiday show schedule 2011 + swag peek

every weekend from now until the middle of december you'll find me setting up camp at a vancouver area craft show. i'll be at:

sunday november 20: BLIM community market
chinese cultural centre
west pender @ carrall streets
12:00 - 5:00

thursday november 24 - sunday november 27: MAKE IT
croatian cultural centre
3250 commercial drive @ east 16th
thursday 4:00 - 9:00
friday 11:00 - 8:00
saturday 11:00 - 6:00
sunday 11:00 - 5:00

sunday december 4 - GOT CRAFT?
royal canadian legion 
2205 commercial drive @ east 6th, vancouver
10:00 - 5:00

saturday december 10 - sunday december 11 - GOT CRAFT at river market
810 quayside drive, new westminster
saturday 9:00 - 6:00
sunday 11:00 -6:00

friday december 16 & saturday december 17 - NICE BALLS xmas market
little mountain gallery
160 east 26th street @ main
friday 5:00 - 10:00
saturday 11:00 - 5:00

and a sneak peek, while we're at it:

the first 45 people in the door at the got craft show on december 4th will score free swag bag of awesome goodies from each vendor! my contribution this year is a hand-stamped hudsonny button and a mini aromatherapy mist from my new line, feest. you've got to get there early to get one of these much coveted bags, but you not only get the goodies - also, bragging rights (and a tote to carry home your handmade finds!).

more on feest soon! had better pack the car - leaving to set up for blim in a couple of hours!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

eating: cafe medina inspired tagine

i love love love vancouver's cafe medina for brunch (if you haven't been you should, post haste!), and my favourite breakfast item has to be the tagine. it's a savory tomato & chickpea stew over merguez sausage and topped with poached eggs. this morning, too tempted by the overcast weather and cozy fireplace, we decided to stay in and try making this at home. oh my one word: delicious.

we just jotted down the recipe on our kitchen chalkboard as we went, improvising based on what we knew was in the dish, and general flavours of moroccan cuisine. everything was added rustic-style, in order, to a deep skillet:

2 tbsp olive oil
1 red bell pepper, slivered
1/2 red onion, slivered
1 tbsp garlic, chopped
1 can plum tomatoes
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cumin
pinch of chili flakes
pinch of sea salt
freshly ground pepper
1/4 preserved lemon, slivered
1/4 cup sundried moroccan olives, pitted
1/2 can chickpeas, drained
2 merguez sausages
poached eggs
cilantro, for garnish

so - easy. you simply heat the olive oil. add the pepper, onion & garlic & sauté over medium high heat until tender. reduce heat to medium low and add tomatoes, including juice. break up the tomatoes a little with a spoon. add cilantro, seasonings, lemon and olives. simmer for 30-45 minutes.

meanwhile, cook sausages in a cast iron skillet. once your sausages are cooked through, remove from heat, slice on an angle and return to skillet. allow edges to crisp slightly. add stew to the cast iron skillet. leave on low heat while you make eggs.

softly poach eggs - two per person. i use this tried & true method from everybody likes sandwiches. meanwhile, plate stew, remove eggs with a slotted spoon. add on top of the stew and sprinkle with chopped cilantro, a few slivers of preserved lemon and freshly ground pepper.

you can serve with a side of warm flatbread or grilled focaccia. i might add a side of roasted zucchini as well, if i was trying to stretch this into a family-style meal for a large group. as this is, it serves 2-4 people, depending on how hungry they are.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

inspiring: portland

earlier this summer we traveled to portland, oregon. for me, it was the first time. and then the second time in rapid succession. this city is everything i had hoped! inspiring, creative, small yet personal, full of foodie goodness and crafty love. i would live here in a heartbeat, and in terms of vancouver pricing we could probably afford it without selling major organs or winning the lottery! alas, for now, my love must be captured in a few meager photos.




my favourites? in no particular order: powell's books | ruby j ice cream | the tin shed | pambiche | little big burger | mcmenamins kennedy school | townshends tea | flutterthe doug fir | the florida room | ken's artisan pizza | king burrito | bolt | stars antique | skidmore bluffs | the lowbrow loungeportland farmer's market | voodoo donuts | the waterfalls. so much more too! vintage & yard sales, food at every turn, outdoor spaces and people and everything you could imagine. i hope to go back this fall. really, try to keep me away...

for those who wish to go (or go again!) check out the rad city guides from lotus events. they were key for me in finding nooks and crannies. also, tips from everybody loves sandwiches were top-notch sure-fire too! i'm sure most of my recommendations were originally from each of these places!

Monday, September 12, 2011

homemade: sea spray for beachy hair

i have just-about-shoulder-length hair and lately i've grown quite tired of the usual ponytail. my hairdresser suggested the messy pin-up as an alternative, and succeeded in getting me hooked on bobby pins just the other day. it's easy - just pull your hair up a bit at a time and secure the ends with bobby pins at random and frequent intervals. this is what mine looks like today after a day in the wind & a nap:

one of the tips she had was to use a sea salt spray on dry hair to create a bit of texture. i've paid a pretty penny for sprays in the past to get beachy waves, with varying degrees of satisfaction, but i've been working with essential oils and i wanted to create my own. after some helpful googling and a bit of experimenting, i have come up with this recipe:

1 8oz / 250 ml spray bottle
fill with distilled water
2 tsp / 10g sea salt
1 tsp / 5ml vitamin e oil
15 drops peppermint essential oil
10 drops vanilla essential oil

add all ingredients to the bottle and shake well to blend. simply mist liberally on dry hair and let dry. it gives a bit of that texture without being too heavy or sticky, and the vitamin e oil helps to keep your hair from drying out.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

making: vintage paper buttons!


i have added a few new products to my line up in the last few weeks! first up: 1" pinback buttons made using recycled paper from thrifted vintage children's books. each button is handpressed and one-of-a-kind. 

this project began as a wisp of an idea some time back - i acquired nine golden book illustrated encyclopedias from 1959 a few years ago at a thrift store on main street. the information was spotty, but the mid-century illustrations were delightful, and i couldn't resist. it wasn't until this summer when i realized that 1" buttons were the perfect use for these treasures. once i started cutting, it was addictive! i began scouring thrift stores up and down the pacific northwest coast for additional books and have since found some great ones - cub scout manuals, music books, kids craft tomes. each book is specially selected for just the right style of earnest yet tongue-in-cheek appeal.

i'm packaging the buttons in 3 packs, on say-it-yourself text bubble cards and as pick 'n mix singles. they've been a resounding success at the last three craft shows! i've named the button line "awesometown" - a family in-joke about a vintage playschool sesame street toy as well as a throw-back to that mid-century flavour of moderated perfection, a la pleasantville.


we sometimes take the press on the road - on a particularly productive night we pressed buttons while eating late-night breakfast at lucy's eastside diner (excellent eggs benny with bacon & avacado!). it's quite the crowd-pleaser. we did a quick diy freebie button tutorial for our server and several other guests, and the table next to us purchased several fresh-off-the-press. 

summer turns to fall

we vancouverites had a rather rough start to summer, if temperatures are anything to factor in. july was a bleak affair, but somehow - as it always does - this fair city turned things around and we've gotten our summer after all. a few photos that remind me of mine:




summer is always one of those busy times where i seem to be getting a lot creatively accomplished but not always seeing the results straight away. it's a time for spending out of doors, for living, for loving and for embracing the moment. for me it was also a time to do a bit of west coast traveling & creating - more on both soon!

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