February 24, 2009

Really Good Granola

The winter baking, cooking and eating is making me feel guilty. I feel the need for a healthy dose of fiber, exercise wouldn't be a bad idea either. Just as soon as it gets into the thirties again. In the meantime I am still hibernating.

I am posting this very easy, very good granola recipe. I make it often and it doesn't last long (see chocolate cake post). You can add any cut up dried fruit or chocolate nibs (unsweetened cocoa, available at health food stores) after it bakes and cools. We like ours with a strong vanilla flavor, but you can add a teaspoon of cinnamon to it also.

Here is the basic recipe, as well as some of the optional ingredients I have used, depending on what is in my cupboard.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees

4 1/2 cups whole oats (not quick)
1 cup flaked sweetened coconut
1 cup sliced almonds and/or chopped pecans, walnuts
optional: 1/4 cup wheat germ
1-2 T. ground flaxseed
1 T. cocoa (especially good if you add the nibs later)
1 T. sesame seed

Mix together the above ingredients in a large bowl.

In another small bowl , add and mix
1/3 cup canola oil
3/4 cup real maple syrup (I have used Aunt Jemima, in a pinch)
1/4 brown sugar and/or honey ( I use both if I have added the cocoa)
1- 2 T. vanilla extract (yes, tablespoons)

Pour this mixture over oatmeal mixture and fold together to combine well.

Line large rimmed sheet pan with Silpat liner or parchment paper.
Spread out granola evenly. Bake about 40-45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.
Remove from oven when golden brown and cool completely.
Add 1-2 cups of dried fruit and / or chocolate nibs. Store at room temperature in a
covered container. I use a glass cannister that I bought at target, and keep a 1/2 measuring cup in it.

I hope you will try this one...enjoy!

P.S. Just for fun....go here!

Crazy For Trimmings, Birds!

Okay, so I never throw out any of my fiber, yarn ends, fabric scraps, etc. Just cannot do it. I even have a hard time throwing out the threads cut from sewing projects. Selvedges...don't get me started. Trust me, I have little ziploc bags filled with these treasures in every project bag and drawer. Sometimes, I actually use them. It makes nice stuffing for little softies and pillows.

In the spirit of being green and lending nature a hand, I found this little idea. Can't remember where. You know those smallish mesh bags that those winter tomatoes come in? The very red little tomatoes that we are somehow convinced will "taste like a tomato" in February, or those green mesh bags that they put over the wine bottles, so that they don't smack around in the bag. The larger meshed bags will also do. Well, you take all of your endings of thread, yarn, fiber, and small fabric trimmings, and you stuff them into the bag. When it is full (it looks so pretty), hang it up in a tree or like me, an empty hanging basket hook on the porch. The birds will take string and fluff from it and will make sturdy nests for their spring families. Yeah, I know, I was skeptical too. My husband and the kids thought I was certifiable.

That is until, the day Ian came into the kitchen and said "you need to come and look at this large hawk in our tree". Now we've seen birds in the yard before, many varieties, finches, blujays, crows, sparrows, humming, cardinal...not a hawk, not this close! I instinctively looked at the hanging net. Guess what? It was empty! Just a few days before it was bulging and full with just a few strands hanging down. I am positively giddy. My relationship with birds hasn't always been pleasant. Let's just say the Montessori classroom I taught in didn't use cages during the day for our "pets". And of course, there was the time we "babysat" the African grey parrot, "Oliver" for our neighbors. He could mimic a full dishwasher cycle, cell phone rings, and a whining, back talking teen perfectly. Oh, and he did a near perfect Cary Grant. Did I mention, we also had an ice storm that week and no electricity and the daughter, son-in-law, three grandchildren (one a newborn, with colic), and my parents staying with us. I ramble.

Somewhere around our home, are some pretty styling birdnests. We usually find a few abandoned nests in the summer, hopefully they will be in color...I know, you need to see a picture! I'll keep you "posted". No pun intended. Meanwhile, this is a great project for the kids in your house...even if they look at you strangely!

P.S. I have a new update to my Etsy Store

February 16, 2009

Mary Janes Applique Tutorial (PDF link now fixed)

I thought I would share with you this very cute applique I designed, for a cover to the heated rice bags I gave as Christmas presents this year. Anyone who knows me is aware of my love for red shoes...bags too! So naturally these had to be red maryjanes.
You of course, can choose your favorite color! Wouldn't they be adorable done in black velveteen?

The pattern PDF is below. You could also make this into a pillow cover.
I have included below the steps for the applique on the cover. To finish sewing your insert and cover please visit V. and Co. excellent rice bag tutorial!

Supplies needed:

1/2 yd or less of decorator fabric for cover
small amounts of cotton fabric for shoes and straps
1/2 yd or less muslin for rice bag and insoles
double sided fusible web
heavy cotton black thread
all purpose black thread (for bobbin)
small amount of gold/yellow embroidery thread

Transfer pattern to cardboard and cut out pieces. Fuse shoe, straps and insole fabrics to webbing per directions in package. Place pattern pieces face down on to paper side on fused fabrics. Draw around and cut out carefully. Set aside.

With muslin cut out 2 rectangles measuring 14 x 8 inches, with decorator co
ver fabric cut out 3 rectangles measuring
14 x 8 ", 10 x 8 " and 8 x 8".

Place the 14 x 8" decorator fabric on the ironing board. Remove paper backing from Shoe, straps and insole pieces.
Arrange shoes (red) as in the picture, touching at an angle, to your liking and centered on fabric. Press according to the directions
for your fusible.

Next, position the insoles as pictured. Press in place. Add straps (should look like a slight U) on insoles and shoes as pictured and press.

Now you are ready to stitch. I used the rough applique technique which I think adds a naive charm to these shoes. It is
very easy to do. Thread you machine with black bobbin thread (all purpose) and black (heavy) stitching thread. Start stitching around perimeter of shoes, then straps and finally around insoles. Go over a few times on the perimeter intimating bottom soles at toes. Don't try for perfection, these are meant to be loosely outlined (refer to picture). If you have the setup these can be stitched free motion, which is how I did them. Thread an embroiderer's needle with gold thread and stitch a buckle on the outside of straps.

Please let me know if your need any clarification. I hope you enjoy making one of these!

February 3, 2009

I made the Etsy front page!

Apparently, the one day I am busy uploading new product to my Etsy store, I did not notice I made it to the front page. Yeah! Now if I could just get moving and finish the rest of my projects...Thanks Etsy!