b.y.o. bamboo

I'm stoked about these b.y.o.b.s!

They are simple utensil rolls for bamboo knife, fork, spoon and chopsticks, plus a napkin. But I made them while a baby slept in the next room! Are you finding a common theme in all my sewing-related posts? Apparently I still can't believe I manage to complete a project.

I wanted to make these for a few friends that go camping and grab take-out a lot. The blue one is already given away, and the matching set are waiting around here until Christmas.

The utensils are shorter than average so the carrier measures about 7 x 10." For the basic design, I consulted Lotta Jansdotter's pattern for picnic placemats (Doh! I've made two sets of those, but gave them away before taking any pictures.)

There's one small extra piece that I'm working on for the xmas set. I got a couple of these half-spoon, half-fork spork thingies and I'm going to make a tiny matching pouch for them. I'm imagining a little grommet at the top with a carabiner for easy transport, but we'll see how they turn out. Stay tuned.


blackberry & almond cakes

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Donna Hay rocks. Her recipes are so uncomplicated! And yet they taste so so good.

This little dessert is no exception. The caramel sauce makes for quite a sweet dessert, but it pairs very well with the slightly crunchy almond cakes and juicy berries. A winner for sure, and a most excellent finale to a great evening with friends.

blackberry & almond upside-down cakes
From Donna Hay's The Instant Cook
makes 6

6 1/3 Tbs* unsalted butter
1 1/4 C brown sugar
3 Tbs water
2 C defrosted or frozen blackberries

5 1/4 Tbs unsalted butter, melted
1/2 C superfine sugar (caster sugar)
2 eggs
1 C almond meal**
1 C all-purpose flour
1 teas baking powder
1/3 C milk

*I've converted some of the measurements from metric, so some of the amounts look a little funny.

** To make almond meal, you can process whole skinned nuts to a fine meal in a food processor. I processed skinned almond slices until a course meal for a crunchier cake.

Preheat oven to 320 degrees. Butter a 6 x 1-cup-capacity muffin tin; set aside.

Place butter, sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Heat, stirring, until the butter dissolves to make a caramel syrup. Add blackberries and cook for another 2 minutes. Divide berries among prepared muffin tins. Add a couple of spoonfuls of syrup to each, reserving the rest of the syrup for serving.

For the cake, mix together the butter, sugar, eggs, almond meal, flour, baking powder and milk. Spoon the cake mixture over the berries in the muffin tins. Bake for 30-40 mins, or until tester comes out clean. Cool in tins for 5 minutes, and then invert onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Place on serving plates; top with fallen berries, some reserved syrup, and vanilla ice.


bread bag

A side benefit of making my own bread every week has been that I have something yummy to offer when I want a wee gift for someone. But I definitely needed to create some better packaging than the re-used, re-washed plastic bags I have on hand. Enter: drawstring bread bags.

This polka-dot one is for a loaf of cinnamon raisin bread -- and both are for a hostess gift.

Bread: I add 1/2 cup raisins to this recipe. After the first rise, I roll it out on floured surface, sprinkle with water then with a mix of 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/4 cup sugar, roll it into a log, tuck the ends in to make a loaf, and then proceed as usual. Bonus: there's a nifty-looking swirl in the middle of the loaf.

Bag: If you need a refresher on making a drawstring bag, this tutorial is great. I used unbleached muslin for the lining.


menu planning

I was stoked to find I'm not the only one who knows what we're going to eat for the week. This menu planner (scroll down for the freebie), however, looks waaaay cuter than my usual torn bit of scrap of paper.


stitch markers

There are some things I just can't bring myself to buy. I don't like to pay good money for an item for which I'm certain there's a free alternative I just haven't thought of yet. This is why I didn't own any stitch markers for my knitting. Whenever I needed markers, I cut up bits of scrap yarn and made do.

But who was I kidding? Those scraps were annoying. Coming unraveled and untied.

I was about to break down and purchase proper stitch markers, but then I remembered my jewelry-making stash and bought silver split rings instead (like mini key rings.) New silver rings + old beads = stitch markers.

So yes, I did end up paying money for something, but supplies are different than the actual item, right? Anyway, now I have 50 rings to make all the stitch markers a gal could ever want.


summer lovin'

adorable yellow ruffled swimsuit (my size, please!)
the skinny on making jam
dreaming of a beach house like this
bookmarks for your summer reading
time to crochet those beach rocks you've been collecting
sew a roll-up mat for camping with the kiddos

fresh mushroom pasta

Making fresh pasta on a weeknight just sounds scary and like you won't get to eat until 9 o'clock. But as long as you've got 2 cups flour and 3 large eggs, fresh pasta can be yours in hardly no time at all.

Though many folks do without, I think some sort of pasta maker is necessary -- it makes for much less work and makes thinner noodles than I can make with my rolling pin.

Using the pasta recipe from The New Best Recipe (but there are a million variations for 'fresh egg pasta'), we recently enjoyed Donna Hay's recipe for mushroom ragu pappardelle. Dee-licious!

The goat cheese melted into the warm noodles and mushroom sauce to make for a deliciously creamy dish. And the fresh taste of those noodles? Totally worth the extra effort!


quick refashion

I've taken my seam ripper to a fair number of baby clothes this year -- removing an itchy label or cheesy applique, and doing minor refashions such as this. This little collar was just a little too cutsie for us.

Better, no?

Baby clothes are funny. I'm coming to the conclusion that most clothing companies think there needs to be a cartoon bear or pastel heart plastered on the front of an otherwise cute shirt to make it suitable for a kid. Hey, I know someday this little babe of mine will probably want nothing but pink, hearts, and flowers. But until then, I'm trying to keep the cutsie to a minimum and outfit her in simple, modern, and comfortable. You know, adult clothes in miniature with fun, kiddie fabrics.

Maybe I shouldn't try to define what I think is cute and what is too cute -- it's feeling a bit like trying to define my taste in jewelry. I'll know what I like when I see it!


knitting for babies

A knitting bug recently bit me again.

I got all ravelry-crazed the other day and put a ton of projects in my queue. Since it will take me a lifetime to knit my way through said queue, I figured the best thing for me to do was to jump right in on a new project and definitely ignore the half-finished ones decomposing hibernating in my closet.

I started with this quick and cute cabled bib (free ravelry download.) Next up? The little sister's dress in kelly green.

Jeff isn't buying the 'there's a knitting bug' defense so I'm not sure what I can blame for my splurge on two knitting books. Maybe when he sees just how adorable the toys I can make out of itty-bitty toys are, he'll gladly keep going to work and allow me a life of knitting leisure.

Anyway, if you're interested in adding some baby knits to your own queue, head on over to Whip Up's recent list of tutorials. So many sweet sweaters, so little time.