Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Recipe: Crock Pot Apple Cider

Since winter is still in full swing I figured now would be the perfect time to share one of my most favourite cold weather creation! I first had homemade apple cider at Kristine's xmas party a few years back, and then later that same year at my staff party. Jim and I attempted to recreate the delicious warm apple spice loveliness later that winter and although it was drinkable....it was far from perfection. Lindsay reintroduced me to the crock pot wonder this December and since then I've been altering the ingredients until I had the perfect mix! This picture may not be the most flattering, but trust me, this crock pot apple cider is extra delish to the very last drop:

Onto the recipe!


- 2.84 L (96 oz) jug of Santa Cruz Organic Apple Juice. (I've tried other AJs but the pulpy organic stuff is the best)
- 4 cinnamon sticks
- 1 or 2 oranges (1 large or 2 smaller depending on what you have available)
- 1 tbsp whole allspice
- 1 tbsp whole cloves
- 1 tbsp full leaf chai tea
- 2 or 3 pieces of whole star anise
- 2 or 3 pieces of cardamon
- a sprinkling of ground nutmeg


Pour the apple juice into the crock pot. Add in cinnamon sticks, and sliced orange. Put the whole allspice, cloves, chai tea, star anise, and cardamon in tea satchels and rest them on the side of the crock pot. Add a sprinkling of ground nutmeg over the concoction and stir. Make sure you don't let the large spices fall out of the tea bag(s) or they'll be difficult to remove later. Set on medium low for 4 hours and let steep. After 1 hour remove the orange slices (or they will get bitter). At the 2 hour mark I usually taste a sampling of it and if it is spicy enough for my liking I remove the tea bags of mulling spices and cinnamon sticks (or leave in if it needs a bit more spice). Because I don't like my cider too sweet (and my crock pot only just fits the jug of AJ), I like to dilute my cups of cider with some hot water. Then drink and enjoy!

If you have lots of cider left over (which I usually do) I pour boiling water in the glass AJ jug to rinse it out and then pour the remaining cider in there. Once it cools down you can stick it in the fridge and have some microwave ready cups of deliciousness whenever you please! Hooray!

Well that's it! Sometime I like to add an extra sprinkling of ground cinnamon and cloves to the batch (since I really like both those spices). Nummers! If you're feeling extra jolly you can always spike your cup with a shot of spiced rum and a shot of triple sec (or grand marnier if you're fancy) so some added zing. Jim seemed to be pretty happy with that alcoholic alternative but I prefer the non-boozey version for my poor suppressed immune system.

So what do you think? Do you ever indulge in cider? What recipe do you use?

Monday, January 30, 2012

Playin' on the Heart String

Well you may be tired of hearing about crochet cotton hearts...but I'm still smitten with them so I've got one more day of them! After some lovely responses to my last two posts, I thought I'd take some reader advice and make a garland out of my excitedly overproduced crafts! I really liked the cute granny triangle heart garland Michelle made (link) but since I was looking for a project using the hearts without spending a ton of time making new parts I just braided together some coral yarn and sewed them on. Take a peek at the finished product:

Not too shabby eh? I am quite pleased with how it turned out and like the look of the different colours of hearts strung together. Plus the heart string turned out to be the perfect size for my new bulletin board board. Let's check it out from another angle:

Ah! I love it! In attempt to spruce up the blank walls of my craft room I think the cork board is a great place to start. So far it just has a few cards on it, some kitten pins, a moon screen print I won, and an experimental teal flower pin I crocheted (oh and the heart garland of course)! What do you think?

I'm excited to fill it up with inspiring snips of papers and things, but am really pleased with how it looks so far. What do you use for inspiration? Any cork board users? What would you pin on there?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

I may have over done it...

Unlike my usual "find a cute tutorial and never get around to trying it," I went crochet crazy yesterday! Once I made one heart I just couldn't stop - take a peek at my morning accomplishment:

Eee! So many cute pink hearts! I'm hoping to put most of them together in one big fantastic project but I'm a little undecided on what that will be yet. I did enjoy using them as handmade heart confetti to throw at Fraser (which I'm sure he was just thrilled about). I really like the idea of using them as decoration on a valentine and am really fond of the mid tone coral the best:

I fell for that heart so much I put a pin on it!

Hooray! A lovely cotton crochet pin perfect for the yarn craving winter months and upcoming Valentine's! I can't wait for some more sunny spring weather to pop in so I can sport this baby on a cardigan! I made a matching pin for Fraser to wear on his nice black coat for Valentines too. Perhaps not the most masculine of lapel wear, but Fraser is a great sport and is loving and supportive of my craftiness. Heck - maybe it will be the new trend in 31 year old males! Yipee! What do you think I should do with the rest of the hearts I made?

Saturday, January 28, 2012

crochet saturday

Back in December I featured the lovely crochet works of Cornflower Blue Studios as one of my Friday Finds. Well, I may not have got around to picking up my hook over the holidays like I had hoped, but I am still craving some yarn crafting while winter is still around! I started searching through Rachel's blog and found this darling tutorial for crochet hearts!

What a fun (and quick!) Saturday project don't you think? After swooning over Velma's crochet hearts she was making on instagram I figured this was a great craft! They would be super fun strung up in a garland, or maybe pinned onto your toque or lapel? Oh the possibilities! What do you think? What would you do with your handmade hearts?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Friday Find: Made by Anna

Today's find is none other than the fantastic brooch wonderfulness of Etsy's Made by Anna. If I have ever fallen for laser cut pins before, it was nothing when compared to these lovelies. Take a gander:

Oh! The colours, subject matter, shapes, and awesomeness! I'm positively smitten. Here is an instance where I legitimately can't decide which one I like best (and I always have an opinion)! Eek! I'm in love. Yet another situation where everything is better from the UK. Good work Anna Betts, you rock! So what do you think? Can you pick a favourite?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

bring on the hot wings

Looks like the good ol' spam filter has come to rescue my blog posting yet again. Behold:

Ahahahahahahaha...ha! Yup, just made my day (but I can't say no to owls and puns). How about you?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

full of beans

I'm fairly certain most kids get to do some sort of art project with dried beans (or pasta) during elementary school. Then you give your masterpiece to your mother and she gets to joy of holding onto your weird dried food art for years to come. When I saw the bean jewelry over on the etsy how to tuesday, I thought this was a bean project I'd actually love to keep! Just check out those black eyed beaut's:

Isn't it interesting? I love how the beans turn into wonderful natural looking beads that are strangely kindergarden chic. Mind you, with all the drilling you'd have to do this project isn't for the kiddos, but regardless I'm sold! I'd love to make a necklace out of some brown pinto beans (or maybe even those white and pink ones) and see how many comments I get when I wear it. Too bad Victoria doesn't have a Bulk Barn like Kamloops does. Guess I'll need to search the sad bulk food sections here and see if I can find some great bead material. What do you think? Anyone want to do some bean jewelry with me?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Kitty Spam!

After a wonderful weekend with my Mom and Uncle I am beat! Looks like early bed for me - and kitten spam for all of you! Let's all thanks Lindsay for providing such wonderfully filtered Pinterest felines and enjoy:

Ahahaha! Snail kitty and the one with the netting on his head are my favs - how about you?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Tape = January's Fresh Flowers?

I always love a nice bouquet of fresh flowers to really liven up the apartment with a touch of colour. Of course, I'm not Martha Stewart, and I don't have a farm yard full of blooming wonders to chose from, nor do I have an unlimited flower budget (especially in the off season of January). I do however have a selection of washi tape and some plain vases to decorate. Not sold? Take a peek at these:

Okay, so they're not exactly flowers (well...not at all really...) but they are a nice centerpiece and they do add a pop of colour during the winter blues months! I love the rainbow effect they created and think some little tea lights would look amazing shining through the translucent washi tape! How fun! In fact, the ladies over at Santa Barbara Chic have an entire post about decorating your table with tape you must check out (link). Oh, and clearly I need to buy myself some more washi tape now right?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Only the best cookies have facial hair.

I may not be able to eat them, but the cookie fellows from Hambly are quite possibly the cutest baking I've seen all year! Just take a peek at their cute faces, facial hair, and little bow ties:

I'm in love! I think these would make great party favours or even be fun in a bouquet for a nice present. Plus since they're on sticks you could always arrange them interestingly to make a center piece and by the end of the night you could split it up for a delicious gluten-y treat! Yum! I mean look how wide set those eyes are. I'm sold. How about you?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

In the marmalade forest

As you may recall, I made some felt Albi magnets back in May when I went on my cruise. They were a ton of work (with lots of tiny stitching details and pieces) and loads of fun to make! I've had a few people email me asking me to make more of these lovely geeky pals so I figured I'd try to please the masses (and my masses I mean two people...) and make some! Let me reunite you with Albi and his friends the badly burned Albainian boy from the day before and the dragon tear turned rainbow jelly bean that put an end to racism:

Aren't they fun? Very similar to the polymer clay magnet set I used to make, but considerably less messy. I also appreciate not having to wait for paint to dry and sculpy to bake. Take a peek at my sculpted version:

Hehe! Those sets were enormously popular a few years back when Flight of the Conchords was still on tv. I think I saturated the handmade FOTC loving market and now I just get a few random die hard fans looking for their own Albi set. I do however still love the heartwarming tale of anti racism just as much as ever and made three new felt sets to list:

Yay! One set is already on its way to its new home in Australia while the other two wait patiently in my craft room to be adopted!

As for me, I'm off spending the day with my family who have come to visit (so no FOTC marathons in my immediate future). How are you spending the weekend?

Friday, January 20, 2012

Friday Find: Allisa Jacobs

Since January is all about new starts, organization, and cool wintry blue tones (or at least I think it is) I thought I'd chose the lovely sewn goods of Allisa Jacobs for today's Friday find. Her shop is stocked full of wonderful pieces each with perfect fabric choices and lovely details. Just take a peek at this amazing chevron pouch:

Isn't it darling? I love the contrast of colours, simplicity, and that awesome red poppy pin that you can detach and stick on anything! If you're swooning over the pin (much like I am) you can buy them on their own as a brooch, or if you'd prefer some different designs how about one of Allisa's clutches, snap pouches, or to do list organizers:

I must say the list organizer on the right hand side there is really calling to me. Maybe it would even help me stick to getting things done? Okay...probably not, but I do love all the goodies in the shop! What do you think? Which is your favourite?

In other news - Mom and Uncle Gary come to visit today! After an early morning of work I'm off to the airport to pick them up and then we've got until Sunday afternoon to see the sights and get some visiting in! Now to decide what to do...

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The snow continues...

So you know how we got a little dusting of snow yesterday? Well, it didn't stop. That slight ground cover turned into a blanket and by the end of the morning it was a full out blizzard. Snow fall warnings, ghost town roads, and panicked Victorians were all the buzz and school was even canceled! Wow! A full out snow day! I still had to work and even though the majority of people were frightened of the thought of driving, my trip home was a breeze. The biggest threat is all the stupid people on the road who don't know how to drive in the snow (and the fact that Victoria has two snow plows and loads of busy roads to keep up with)! So how much snow validates a snow day here? Take a peek:

Ooop! My ivy and bamboo got a bit of a snow covering! Here's the rest of the yard:

Apparently 10 cms is enough to close up the town for the day and with the forecast seeing nothing but more snow for the next few days I wonder how people will deal! I took the opportunity to enjoy the deserted-ness and go shopping for some yarn. Why you may wonder? So my sis can knit me some adorable totoro mittens like the ones Cindy made for Sarra:

Ahhhh!!!! Those are totally the cutest mittens ever! Micheals was completely empty making a perfect shopping experience since loads of staff was available to help, tons of stuff was on sale, and I even had some coupons! Hooray! Now to get ready for my mom and uncle to come visit tomorrow (and then take the yarn up to my sis so she can get knittin')! How is your day going? Have you ever had a snow day?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

My kind of snow!

While the rest of the province is dealing with -30 C weather and boatloads of snow I am soaking up the lovely dusting of the white stuff here to go with out +4 C. Take a peek at the wintry scene from the patio:

Just right! A smidge of the white stuff with mild temperatures and clear roads. Apparently it is still too much to deal with for most Victorians though. Yesterday at work tons of our regular customers said they barely made it in, and on my drive home I saw a car being pulled from the ditch! Seriously? The roads are CLEAR!? It totally baffles me, but I guess if you aren't used to or prepared for the weather it might be a shock. Nothing but snow in the forecast for the next few days so we'll see how everyone does this week.

Since we're on the topic of snow - in case you're jealous of all the flakes falling around here, why no make some geeky snow flakes of your own. Check out these amazing star wars themed ones from over at Man Made DIY:

I can think of a few people who would love a few of these (Lisa - how about the bf?) and think they would be extra fun strung up in a window! I was meaning to blog about these before xmas since I think they'd be a perfect way to festive up for the holidays, but I figured with all the snow around here they'd be good all winter long! What do you think? Who's your favourite star wars snowflake? (Mine's Boba Fett.)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Granny Please

I seem to be having a love affair with crochet granny squares lately. I keep seeing them around the internet and swooning over their fun colours and simplicity. I think I am particularly drawn to them because, well, I know how to make them (and can pretty much do so with my eyes closed). It's always a plus when I see crafts I am actually capable of (unlike most knit items). With no further ado, here are my three favourite granny square projects I can't wait to try out:

Project #1 - Granny Square Lamp Shade. I love the colours on this one and how it really jazzes up a normally quite simple table lamp. I think it would fit in perfectly in my living room (even though I doubt any more lighting is really required there...). Perhaps I'll hunt down an old lamp from a thrift shop and give it a new grann-i-fied life for my craft room!

Project #2 - Giant Granny Square Blanket. This one is particularly interesting since I started a granny square blanket back in 2003 and never finished it. After making a million little squares I realized they weren't a consistent size and would be a giant pain to sew together. This one, however, is just one giant square that gets bigger as you go! Hooray! No sewing at the end!

Project #3 - Granny Square Ear Warmer. I spotted this one on the wonderfully fashionable (and cat loving) Elycia a while back and totally went head over heals for it! I've been dying to make myself an ear warmer for my walks by the ocean and this one is super cute. Now to decide what colour to make it...

So what are your thoughts? Are you sold on the awesomeness of granny squares? What crochet projects would you make out of them? And (most importantly) which should I do first!?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Take a pill

Being a person who suffers from chronic illness, I seem to take a lot of prescriptions. Each morning during breakfast I take out my pill case (yes, I am an old lady with one of those days of the week pill containers), pour myself a cup of milk, and admire the pretty assortment of different pills I am about to take. When I came across these crochet pills from Greedy for Colour, I fell in love! Finally someone else who enjoys the beauty (and novelty) of capsules:

Hehe! Aren't they fun? I love the colours they picked and they totally remind me of Dr. Mario (a game my mom is insanely addicted to). I think these little guys would make perfect get well gifts, or even funny to pass along to any stressed out pals (as chill pills)! Heck, you could even stack them all in a glass jar and have one interesting center piece! I think they'd be particularly appealing with some little wide set eye smiles on there so when I get around to making some, I'll be sure to show you the results! After all, they are a pretty tiny so they'd be quick to whip up and Greedy for Colours tutorial is clear and easy to follow! What's to lose? What do you think? What would you do with your own set of yarn pills?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

What a weekend!

After an entire week of resting my poor torn ab muscles, I was determined to have a hospital-free fun weekend this time around. We woke up early Saturday morning and went out for breakfast at the Blue Fox. It was delicious as always and didn't even have a long line up to compete with. Yay! On our scenic drive home I found the new location of my favourite yarn shop and a new fabric and notion store to check out in the future! What fun! Then it was back home for some productivity! Okay, so I am still in recovery mode, but Fraser was nice enough to finish making a light box for me:

This light box thing has been a long time coming and I can't believe how quick it was to finally finish up! Fraser did an amazing job and once I get some long sheets of paper for backdrops I will be taking pictures like the pros! Well...hopefully anyways. I have been dying to spiff up my etsy shop item images (especially the button ones) and the nice filtered light from my new light box will be perfect! Any tips for what sort of lights I should use with it? I guess I'll have to experiment to find out.

Next we planned to take a wee trip downtown so Fraser could use some of his xmas gift cards and it started to snow! How exciting! It certainly wasn't cold enough to stick, but the fluffy blistery snow flakes were super fun to watch. Take a peek from our deck:

Yay! We've been told it is supposed to snow even more today (Sunday) and Monday so maybe some of it will hang around this time too! Hooray!

To finish up the day off I sewed up some more avocado felt brooches to list in my etsy shop:

After seeing a picture of my last pin on Sarra's blog I decided it would be fun to make a few more! The first one I made actually turned into a reserved listing so I thought it would be neat to see if the little smiling fruits (are avocados fruit?) would be popular sellers! I even whipped up two more Totoro brooches to list too! Yipee!

Here's to hoping today is just as fabulous as Saturday was! What did you get up to this weekend?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

To the Museum!

Last week while my good pal Jim was visiting we took a trip downtown to check out the BC Royal Museum. Leslie (my ever lovin' sis) always tells me how I never seem to take many pictures of myself out doing things so I thought this would be the perfect opportunity! As it turns out, I am pretty unphotogenic and the dim lighting of the museum is not the easiest to take pictures in. Alas - Jim and I had a great time! Here I am on the walk there doing a traditional tourist pose in front of the parliament buildings:

Some very nice old men greeted us when we arrived and told us we had to check out the chubby bird photographs in the National Geographic photography display that was currently going on. How great! I love little chubby birds! Unfortunately I couldn't take any shots of that exhibit, but it was certainly worth the trip! Now onto the rest of the museum...

I quickly realized that I really enjoy the natural history part the best (just like my trip to the natural history museum in LA last May) and the actual "history" part (which was all first nations and early 1900's stuff) is totally not my cup of tea. Oh well, a little something for everyone right? I managed to take a few pictures of the most well light parts of the super awesome natural history floor! If I didn't know any better I would totally think these were actual animals (not taxidermied) in their habitats! Check out mountain lion:

and black bear:

They also had some really cool ocean-like displays (that I didn't get any good images of). I had no idea sea lions could be so enormous! This would be a super fun place to take some biology loving kids since every corner was oozing super fun information! They even had a huge underwater wall with loads of critters to check out!

The most famous of the Royal Museum's displays has to be the woolly mammoth, and for good reason! He is super impressive! I'm totally in love with this picture I took (on my phone too!):

After meandering through the rest of the exhibits (and the whole third floor of actual history stuff) we came back to check out the owls again! I just couldn't stay away! It is so neat to be able to see them all close up! Take a peek at snowy owls:

or how about the super tiny adorableness of barn owls?:

That's pretty much the only picture of Jim I was able to nab, but I do enjoy how it turned out. I really wanted to get a good one of me in front of the owls, but no such luck. In fact, we took about 45 pictures of me by them and this is the best of the bunch. Please note how super creepy the owl glare is behind me:

Watch out! That owl has his eye on you! Hehe. It was certainly a great trip and I cant wait for more museum loving friend to visit so I can take them there! I wonder if baby Jean would appreciate it? What do you think? Are you a museum goer?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday Find: Nicola Clare

Feeling extra lonely lately? Not to worry! Manchester's super talented graphic designer Nicola Rowlands has you covered with her selection of pocket man friends in her etsy shop Nicola Clare! Meet Ray:

Each man friend has his own special name and traits and conveniently keeps your company in your pocket. Take a peek at a few other men to pick from:

I love all the little details and packaging! What an awesome gift this would make! Not into men? There is a selection of female pocket friends too! If these little handpainted pals don't tickle your fancy Nicola has a huge selection of odd and charming prints, cards, pillows, brooches, earrings, and totes for your shopping pleasure as well! Oh my! I must say next to the man friends, the feed me tacos kitty earrings are on my favourite list! What about you? What do you like best?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Swap Time!

Just in case you're terrified you won't be getting enough Valentine themed mail this year - it's time to sign up for Oh Strumpet's Valentine Craft Swap:

After participating in their spring swap (and loving it) I am stoked to join in for another one! All you need to do is head over to the Oh Strumpet's blog and leave a comment (then email Becky to confirm/give your email address) by this Friday (the 13th). Then you will be assigned a craft swap partner and you have until the 6th of February to get your craft in the mail! Sounds easy enough right? I think so!

I am thrilled to have met my last swap partner (and now pen pal) Robbie Lee and can't wait to make a new craft friend! If you aren't particularly creative, not to worry - you only need to make one craft for your swap partner and there are no rules so if you like knitting, painting, card making, sculpting, or what have you it is all fair game! Hooray! So who's in? Have participated before?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Dream Weaver

This year Fraser's brother gave me a Micheals gift card for xmas. Excited to see what the wonderful world of crafty supplies has to offer I ended up splurging and getting a Martha Stewart knit and weave loom kit:

I've always wanted to try my hand at weaving and figured since I am so lousy at knitting, loom knitting might be perfect for me! After all, I did have a 50% off coupon and it was a xmas gift right? Plus it has loads of pieces to mix and match together for a whole assortment of different loom shapes and sizes for all sorts of projects! Hooray! I thought I'd start off with something simple and used some variegated green cotton yarn to try weaving. Take a peek at that cross hatching wonderfulness:

Lovely! This was actually my third attempt at making a square (the first ones were too thin and too tight), but I am very pleased with my new woven coaster:

Since I was originally trying to make a hot pad/trivet I thought I'd give it another go in a larger size. This time I went with hot pink to match my new pink kitty place mats Fraser bought me and went with two strings of yarn instead of three. Check out the finished product:

This one looks much neater and cleaner than the first (with fewer little missed woven strings and blemishes). I ended up doing a round of crochet around the outside to really finish it off:

Ooo! I love how it turned out! I really enjoy having cotton square hot pads to hold bowls when they come out of the microwave and this one is my new favourite! Sure my experimental granny square ones I made many years ago still do the trick, but it's nice to have a new pink woven one too!

Now the question is - what to weave next!? Or more importantly - what to attempt at loom knitting?! Have you ever used one of these kits? What did you make?