A home for all things crafty, health-conscious, cake-related, or in need of a wagon!



Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Craftmania!

For the past few weeks, I've been crafting up a storm! To start with, my neighbor and I are in charge of the block party this year, so I've been wearing out my Cricut making giant signs and banners for it.  Those will go up tomorrow (since it's next Tuesday)!


For the 4th of July, I made a Ruby Dress


 It actually was very easy (aside from picking the top fabric; does it look familiar?) and I finished it in one night after cutting it out!


I got the blue lotus fabric in Portland at Fabric Depot; it's actually designed by the same person who designed the dress pattern! How could I resist?


Then, this weekend, I modified a Staple Dress.  The first one I made turned out like a giant sack; which is fine, I just wear a belt with it, but I wanted this one to be better.  


I changed the neckline at the last minute, and I really like it.  Just having a bit of a time getting it to lie flat. 


I based the idea for the ties on this shirt from Purl Soho (what a fantastic blog that is!  You should check it out if you have any interest in sewing or knitting.)  I think they worked out pretty well!


Up next?  I'll show you the fancy streamers that I made for the block party, and the finished pennant banners! 





Friday, July 18, 2014

Gardening at My Parents' House


My parents' garden is going gangbusters right now. 


This is their view from the backyard



Wild poppies


Artichokes; going on year 3 or 4.


Tomatoes and whirligig (can you believe that I've already harvested more tomatoes than they have? It's the first time ever!  They pretty much have a tomato farm over there, so it must be all of the heat we've been getting.)


Raspberries


I've never seen raspberry flowers like this; they were really cool.



Baby "sputnik" squash


Now, on to the front yard...





  
So peaceful!



My mom's new bottle tree


Crocodile's not pulling his weight; look how he's just letting that wheelbarrow sit there! 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Hot Weather Eats; Grilled Veggies and Couscous Salad




 When it's hot and you don't want to heat up the house cooking, you should try this!  I think I adapted it from an old Weight Watchers recipe.  

Roasted Vegetable and Couscous Salad

1 c. whole wheat couscous
2 yellow squash
1 medium onion
1 bell pepper
1 c. cherry tomatoes
some herbs: I used green onion and a bit of fennel from my garden
1-2 cloves of garlic
1 can of chickpeas
1/2 c. feta cheese
several tablespoons of olive oil
spinach, for serving

Chop up your veggies and put them in a foil packet or a grilling basket with the garlic.  Drizzle them with olive oil and the herbs.  Add a little salt and pepper too!  Grill over medium high heat for 20-30 minutes, until the onions look done.  You can also throw in a couple of tablespoons of water if you're worried about them burning.

before grilling
 Now comes the fun part.  You can either cook your couscous like normal, or you can just boil some water in the microwave, pour it over the couscous, and let it sit for 10 minutes or so.  Couscous= done!


 Add in the grilled veggies, chickpeas, and feta.  You could also throw some lemon juice in there if you want to.  Serve over spinach.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Superhero Seed Cracker/bread

piles of seedy goodness


So far, this is one of my favorite recipes from my sugar-free book.  Eat some for a snack, and feel like a superhero!  (I spread some yogurt cheese on them; pretty amazing!)  ((side note: yogurt cheese is just plain Greek yogurt that's been strained for a few hours.))

The only issue I've had with these "crackers" is that they don't ever really get crunchy.  Despite baking for over an hour, they still are a bit soft.  But delicious!

Superhero Seed Cracker/bread
adapted from I Quit Sugar, by Sarah Wilson

1/3 c. chia seeds
1/4 c. ground flax seeds
1/2 c. sunflower seeds
1/2 c. sesame seeds
1/2 c. almond meal
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 large basil leaves, fresh
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/4 c. water

In a small bowl, mix together the water, garlic, salt, and basil with a hand blender.  In a medium bowl, mix up all of your seeds and the almond meal.  Stir in the liquid, and let it sit for a few minutes until the water is absorbed.  Prep a square baking dish with some greased foil or parchment paper.  Press the seed mixture into the pan, and try to make it evenly thick. Bake at *325 for 30 minutes.  If you are really adventurous, you can try to flip the whole thing over, but this never works out for me. Bake for another 30 minutes (1 hour-ish total) until they are browned on top.  


Cut into squares or rectangles and let cool.  Will keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.  



Friday, July 11, 2014

Woodland Park Rose Garden


After a really busy week, we decided to go to the Woodland Park Zoo today.  Then the unreliable 520 bridge was mysteriously closed for "boat traffic". I didn't mind too much because I got some pictures of the construction.  (How many times in your life will you see a floating bridge being built?)


Then the zoo was closing super early for some special event, so we just went to the (free!) rose garden instead.


Daisies, at the rose garden


Peace Roses



White Coneflower (or echinacea)


This rose was a really amazing bright bright pink.  It didn't show up as much on "film".



Such a pretty, peaceful place.

All in all, still a very nice day!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

I Quit Sugar- Book Review



I got this book about a month ago, and have been incorporating its ideas into my daily eating.  The idea that sugar is bad for you is not really a new one, but it's something that's been reinforced alot for me lately.  The author recommends using her 8-week program to completely rid your diet from sugar, and then add back in a reasonable amount (6-9 tsp./day or 24-36 g.) including fruit.  Being that it is summer, there is no way that I could forego eating fruit for 8 weeks, so I decided to just reduce my sugar intake as much as possible- and stay within or below that recommended range.  I did it as kind of a "try it out and see how I feel" experiment.  
For the most part, I felt really great- it was relatively easy to eat less sugar, I had more energy (even on days with less sleep) and I lost some weight after being on a plateau for several months.  This last week has been pretty hard (with lady-related issues) so I gave myself a break and had some sugary things for a few days.  Surprisingly, I really wasn't too far out of the normal range, even with treats.  

The basic recipes in the book incorporate more fat and protein into your diet to make up for taking out the sugar.  She also uses brown rice syrup and stevia as sugar replacements; they metabolize in your body differently than sugar does- reducing cravings instead of creating them.  She also uses a lot of coconut products- coconut oil, coconut flour, coconut milk.  There's even a sugar-free Nutella recipe!  I've been making this almond bark (with a few modifications) on a weekly basis and it's really helped me with any sweet cravings that I've had.  I really recommend this book for anyone who is struggling with sugar addiction, diabetes, high cholesterol, or any other health issues related to sugar. 

Unfortunately, this is all that's left in my fridge right now.
Almond and Coconut Bark
adapted from I Quit Sugar, by Sarah Wilson

5 Tbsp. coconut oil, melted
4 Tbsp. almond butter
1/4 c. unsweetened coconut flakes
1/2 c. rice krispies
1 Tbsp. brown rice syrup
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
2 pinches of salt (I use fancy French sea salt)
handful of cacao nibs for on top

In a small pot (or microwave-safe bowl) heat the coconut oil and almond butter until melted.  Stir until it is a uniform color and consistency.  Add the vanilla and brown rice syrup, and mix again.  Remove from heat and add in the coconut and rice krispies.  Pour onto a parchment or foil-covered cookie sheet.  Sprinkle with salt and cacao nibs.  Put in the freezer for 20 minutes or so, until it has solidified.  Break into small pieces and store in the refrigerator.  (I put mine into these small jam jars that I've recycled.)

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

What is wrong with my tomato plant?


When I bought this plant, it looked pretty normal.


But as it grew, the leaves started curling like nothing I've ever seen before.  I opened one up to look for bugs, but nothing.


An internet image search makes me think that it's been exposed to some sort of herbicide; but I really don't know how that could have happened.  For the first time ever, I know that this plant is sourced from an organic place (either Seattle Tilth or PCC) and the potting soil and compost are also organic (from Molbak's).  The only guess I have is that my neighbors sprayed something that somehow got onto this plant; it's only happening to the tomato plant on my back deck, nothing on the ones in the front yard.  Or Zizi put some play sand on it, and that's causing it?  Otherwise I have no idea.  Thoughts?

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Stumptown Iced Coffee!


I'm not much of a coffee drinker.  I like the taste of it, but if I drink an entire mocha, I usually end up sick and jittery after a few hours- just too much sugar and caffeine for me, I guess.  But, I added some of this fancy stuff to our dairy order this week, (I was thinking that John might like it) and after last night's baby-waking marathon (3 hours asleep, 3 hours awake, 3 hours asleep) I decided to give it a shot.  

It is freaking amazing!

I had about half a cup, and added some ice to it.  Online it said that it was just milk and coffee, but there is a little sugar in it- I'm glad I checked because I've been really monitoring my sugar intake lately (more on that later).  It's not bad though; about +3 grams per cup, so not even a whole teaspoon.  And it is DELICIOUS. I might just make it through this morning alive.  

(Side note: If you wanted to make this yourself, cold brew some coffee, add some milk and sugar or stevia, and store in the fridge!  Serve with ice.  I'm thinking of all sorts of things I could make with it; ice cream, popsicles, fancy mixed drinks with Irish Cream or Kahlua....)

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Special Announcement!


Starting next week, I will be writing a second blog!  In addition to Crafty Cakewagon (for crafts, cooking, and gardening) I'll be writing at The Creative Parent (for all things related to parenting, arts and crafts with kids, and how we manage to keep our household in one piece).  Hope you will join me over there as well!  You can find it at http://creativeparentandchild.blogspot.com and on Facebook.   I'll also start doing more regular Crafty Cakewagon post notifications on FB too, it's just kind of annoying to make sure that you get all of them. (because they want to charge me to make sure that all of my "followers" see my posts) (Here's CC's FB;  )