Love, love, love, blah, blah, blah....
It may be a February love fest out in the world, but I think
it should be ‘Love-Ones-Self’ all year long!!
With that in mind, and while searching for the most appropriate
image to send my single friends on Anti-Valentines Day this year, I stumbled
across one that made me laugh all day long!
It’s not complicated, and I think it’s pretty much self-explanitory...hahaha. And when the kids ask ‘Mom, why are you
making us these mixed message cookies’, you can tell them ‘they’re from your
Auntie Lisa’. They get me ;D
There aren’t any special requirements or stipulations on
this one – just make the crap out of any delicious heart shaped cookies of your
choosing and ice the single ladies mantra onto them!! Let’s face it boys - If
you liked it, then you shoulda put a ring on it!! (they know who they are!)
Good luck, and have fun!! Maybe put your heart into it xoxoxo
Procrastination to deliciousness!!
Well first off, sorry that it took me so long to complete
this challenge! I know it was meant to
be a nice relaxing challenge, but man I had a mental block for it!
If Carla had simply said, make a hot chocolate, I could have
pulled out the package I have stashed in the cupboard for guests, popped in a
couple marshmellows and called it a day ;D
The vegan twist made me work a little harder in the kitchen (which is
not my forte).
A little recipe hunting online, and bam, here we are. The hot chocolate was definetly the success here. My salted caramel was possibly runnier than
water, and my ‘whipped cream’ was Ninja’d almond milk and icing sugar.... ok, I
totally improvised here, but it gave me a nice head of foam to dollop on
top. Which reminds me, I better ‘stir it
before the foam settles’.
I’m willing to not finish topside in this January (gulp,
February) challenge, so good luck sisters on first and second place 😀
All in all, this was a flop that flipped into a very nice
treat on another -34’c evening. Welcome
to Saskatchewan folks.
We have experienced extremely cold weather this winter and on a No Buses Running -47C day, Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate was just fitting!
This challenge started with an “Oh, I got this!” confident with a smug look sort of attitude that lasted right up until the cup was filled….and the whipped coconut cream plopped straight to the bottom of the hot chocolate.
It began so well…I decided on 3 layers: hot chocolate, salted caramel sauce and whipped cream. The Vegan Caramel Sauce (from www.jessicainthekitchen.com) called for date paste which is super easy and delicious (I used the one from https://thecoconutmama.com). Simply blend dates with the water they are soaked in! The paste lasts several weeks in the fridge, so I’m dipping into it whenever I need just a smidgen of sweet. I added extra sea salt until it tasted ‘right’. And gosh darnit, it was yummy!
The Hot Chocolate recipe was from the side of a long-gone cocoa powder tin. I substituted coconut sugar for white sugar and added cocoa powder. Some water mixed in and warmed until it was a lovely smooth paste and then added coconut cream. I make Coconut Whipped Cream with cans of coconut cream that have been refridgerated overnight (at least!) blended with maple syrup and vanilla to taste – so good!
The Salted Hot Chocolate was a decadent dark chocolate colour, rich and thick…unfortunately, too thick and rich for any of us to drink! While it tasted good, it was just too sweet and TOO MUCH chocolate – something I never thought I would experience. The sinking of coconut whipped cream really ruined the visual I was trying to create. It just ended up looking messy *sigh* and most of it ended up down the drain.So I poured a glass of wine and ate 4 cowboy cookies..not a completely wasted day after all 😉
Happy New Year!
Well, ladies. This is a late challenge, so I am going to keep it very simple. It's mid-winter, post-Christmas, and, in this house at least, hot on the heels of a couple weeks solid of a nasty cold doing its rounds. In fact, in honour of Blue Monday on January 21st – aka The Most Depressing Day of the Year – I figured it was time for a little luxury!
My challenge to you is the perfect cup of Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate. My challenge to you, Lisa, is to make it vegan.
Here is an example from the blog 'Lifted Dish':
Since we won't be able to try each others creations, this challenge is going to weigh heavily on presentations to make the other participants drool!
Good Luck and Have fun!
Well holy crap, that was a doozy!
My purpose in choosing this project was to end up with a gingerbread ‘looking’ house that I was going to be able to enjoy for many years to come and fondly remember the year I created this amazing beauty.
We are going to re-title this project: ‘Looks are Deceiving’.
My original plan, which I somewhat followed, was to create a masterpiece from homemade dough art. I wasn’t going to wing it on the pieces, so I started by measuring and cutting all my tracing pieces and stencils out of cardboard. Although this took an evening of my time, it did save me heartache on the shape and size of things as I went along.
Following a dough art recipe I found online (4 cups flour, 1 cup salt, 1.5 cups water) I modified it to create a more ‘gingerbread’ look by adding a half cup cocoa and another half cup water. I was pretty impressed by myself at this point, things were looking good! And after listening to how proud Deb was of her creation, I knew I had to crush her – in a loving sisterly sort of way of course! lol
I spent two days doughing, cutting, baking and re-baking pieces that needed twice the average cook time. Even after that, the pieces are still half soft and not lying flat. I remember making dough art ornaments as kids, and those things could have held up a house or at least chipped a tooth if you bit into one! Maybe the cocoa and extra water were the factors here, but there was no stopping me now!!
I decided to go with classic sugar glass for the windows (another medium I hadn’t tried on my own before). To contain the glass in my window cut outs, I used a heavy duty masking tape on the backside. This would contain the contents and I could just peal it off later. After a failed first attempt at sugar glass (since I hadn’t read the instructions properly the first time) and a very sticky cleanup, I waited a few hours, did my research and tried again. It says 1 hour stir time on the cooktop. Truth was, an hour and a half of standing and stirring later...I had beautiful stained glass to pour into my little windows, but that’s an hour and a half of my life I’ll never get back. Time for sleep.
Upon return the next morning, the glass was looking good. Hard on the front, but a bit unset on the back after removing the tape. I stood up the pieces on the counter to let them air out – both glass and structure pieces. A few hours later, I was ready to start the next phase but was disheartened when I discovered that the sugar was now slowly running out of the windows!! Action must be taken. I tried sealing them with spray paint, coated the fronts with an acrylic resin and also used clear packing tape on the backsides to stop spreading all the sticky around. What a mess. Oh well, moving on...
After much inner debate on what was going to be the best icing trim to use over the house details, I decided to try royal icing. At this point I already knew that this wasn’t going to be the everlasting house I wanted at the start, so I mind as well make the icing authentic right!?! Great thought...and then there goes my hand mixer, nearly set on fire at the final round of mixing.
Who’s idea was this to make this project???....oh right, MINE! Arggg.
<Personal inner dialog: So let’s pipe on this fricking icing. Guess I’ll go buy a new mixer after Christmas when all the sales are on. Frigg, why won’t the icing come out of the piping bag?! Maybe I should just invest in a KitchenAid Stand mixer so I don’t set my house on fire next time I mix something. Come on icing. Maybe I’ll try using another tip. How much is a stand mixer anyway? I’ll check a flyer next week, there are going to be a million of them in my mailbox. Ok there it comes, but why is it not staying on the surface!? FRICK.>
Ultimately, I put the royal icing in the fridge and walked away. Moved on to white school glue mixed with white paint and then onto white 3D fabric paint after a trip to the store. Tada, just like that it was done (hahaha, so, so many hours later). One thing I did do which turned out to be very helpful, was to outline where I wanted my ‘icing’ to go with a white pencil crayon first.
The rest is glue and tape! HAHAHA- snort. Finished off with the royal icing and the largest piping tip I own to cover up all the hot glue it took to hold my pieces in place!
I did a bit of fun color to the backside and placed some mini lights inside so I can enjoy the window while they last (that’s right, they are still slowly melting down the sides as I type).
Ok, from a distance now it looks pretty great.
And maybe with a bit of time I’ll forget about the frustration. But talk about a time investment in something that I will most likely toss and try again with different materials. For now, I’ll enjoy the view and wait for the appliance flyers!!
Happy Holidays everyone!!
Hello and a belated Merry Christmas!
I think you can tell from my title's exclamation mark that this Challenge was a SUCCESS!!
Before I launch into my Challenge, I have to say to Debbie, OMIGOSH! Kudos!! That is so fricking adorable! I had no idea you were going to KNIT it! What a great idea!
Honestly, if I had looked at Deb's before finishing mine, my heart would have quailed. As it was, I procrastinated on this one even though it was given to us so early, and then I was swept up in Christmas preparations and before I knew it, I had no time. I can't do any big projects during the day with the little boys, and evenings were eaten up by other Christmasy things.
And another reason I probably procrastinated in the first place was sheer fear about this one. Why? Because years ago when I was probably about 11 or 12, my Pioneer Girl's Pal [Pioneer Girls was like Girl Guides, but church based] and I attempted to make a Gingerbread House and it was a lesson in frustration. I loved spending time with Myrna -- a wonderful, sweet and loving woman who was also my mom's friend -- so I still had a ton of fun that day. But my overall impression of Gingerbread houses was that they were impossibly hard to put together.
So anyways, I finally got the nerve to start this project this week. I made the dough and put it into the fridge to chill, and then used cardboard to make myself a pattern. I used tape to keep the pieces in place so that I could get a good idea of how the finished house would look.
Here's the recipe I used for the gingerbread:
The next day, I put chickpeas in the crock pot in preparation for making the Aquafaba Royal Icing. [Omigosh, Aquafaba is amazing!]
Then I went to YouTube to consult the experts! I needed all the help I could get for this one.
And who's video should I find, but the Queen of Good Things herself ... Martha Stewart.
Wow, what a game-changer! Now I knew what we had done wrong all those years ago!
So I'm happy to say that the pieces turned out perfectly!!!
When I finally got a chance to work on it after supper, I whipped up an awesome batch of icing:
I added at least a cup more icing sugar to make it thicker and I probably could have added even a bit more, but it worked!
Now for the super tricky part. Thanks to Martha Stewart, I realized that I should decorate the pieces FIRST, and THEN put the house together. Brilliant!
I had completely forgotten about the windows on the roof, so I had to improvise with a bit of cardboard. And it worked! Yay, yay, yay!
I TOOK MY TIME this go around ... wow. What a difference that makes after all. I waited till the icing hardened each time, built the front porch thingy and the chimney separately so they were solid.
Oh, also, I didn't have Smarties [which I just found out are vegan!] so I added more icing sugar to the icing along with red food colouring [Wilton gel], and rolled it into little pseudo-candies.
I didn't have any greenery, so I used a bit of parsley from my window herb garden.
I was running out of icing, so I used the yellow for the base of the house and what I could spare of the white to fill in the yard, then used coconut for snow. I think the yellow under the windows looks a little bit like light spilling out from the windows ... what do you think?
I borrowed some ornaments from the tree and voila!
Without further ado, here it is!!
Happy New Years!
Challenge #3 – Gingerbread House
I was very greatful that Lisa gave us our Christmas/Holiday Challenge early November because we had booked a family holiday in December to celebrate our son’s upcoming High School Graduation. With the general crazy-busy holiday festivities before and after our trip, I knew my time to create was limited. It was a good thing too - this project took up many evening hours!!
When Lisa sent me the picture of the Gingerbread House, with the ‘Edible or Non-Edible, but NO CARDBOARD’ parameters, I rubbed my hands together gleefully – “Non-Edible It Is!”
Maintaining our white sugar-free lifestyle is monstrously hard at the Holidays. The abundance of sweets from school, gatherings, generous friends and family is part of the fun of the Holidays and I relax my rules quite a bit. However, I try not to add any more sugar than necessary!
So what could I use to create the Gingerbread House? I thought of felt, which I had already, but I just didn’t feel like that would be special enough. I wanted a project that I would feel happy to bring out year after year. I decided on KNITTING…a skill I learned this year! So far, I had only produced dishcloths with varying degrees of success…
But the Challenge was Accepted and I was determined to make this House cute!
I used an online Gingerbread Cookie pattern and printed it out to what I hoped was the right size. Then I just started knitting! I had to create all the pieces and simply eye-balled as I was going to make sure they would match up. I’m sure there are plenty of knitting patterns online, but I don’t actually know how to properly read them (the dishcloth one was confusing enough!) so I just went for it!
I found the perfect Gingerbread coloured yarn from Michael’s, embroidery thread, green yarn and beads from previous projects, and Red Buttons from Wal-Mart. Polyester filling and a piece of Styrofoam packaging from an appliance recently purchased created a soft but sturdy House. Trying to keep the House true to the picture that Lisa sent was not as simple as I thought – those dormer windows weren’t easy to get right!
Overall, I think I did pretty good, although I totally underestimated the amount of time it would take to knit and put together!! I’m sure the Sisters did a beautiful job on their Gingerbread Houses….but if there’s a prize for Time Spent Creating – I’m the Winner!
Welcome to challenge#3 - the Christmas edition!! Although November is a lovely month, we passed over a monthly challenge and headed straight into the holidays - YAY! Lucky me, because I was able to choose something that I have wanted to do for a long time, and haven't taken the time to try - a GINGERBREAD HOUSE!!
Now, I sent my pick to the ladies at the beginning of November so that they would have time to tackle this gem and they have accepted my request. (although I'm finally doing this post in December. Oops!)
I also gave a few guidelines on the matter:
1. It needs to look as much like the picture as possible.
2. It does not have to be made of gingerbread or edible at all!
3. It cannot be made of cardboard (sorry Carla).
This may seam a bit overwhelming when we get into it, but trust me, it's tame compared to some of gingerbread mansions I was drawn to while searching!
Good luck ladies, and may the ginger-strength be with you!!
It's cold and very wintery already in Northern Alberta - our first 'staying' snow landed on November 1st. Already the stores were being filled with Christmas decorations and reminders that we better get shopping early - The Countdown Has Begun! It is easy and fun to get caught up in the energy of the season and I am definitely one who likes to decorate early and watch The Grinch asap.
Growing up, Remembrance Day was honoured at school and talked about a little bit at home but I don't remember going to any of the city-wide services. However, my husband served in the Canadian Armed Forces when he was younger and views Remembrance Day as Sacred. My eldest son is heading in that direction as well, planning to sign up after graduation next year. So the significance of Remembrance Day is very close to our hearts.
This year, I created a Memorial Wreath for our front door using a wire form and burlap roll, and sewed on simple red poppies. This simple wreath is in honour of those who didn't make it home, those that did, and those yet to Serve.
Thank you, we will not forget.
Well ... not a fail!! [I don't think, anyways]
I haven't seen Deb and Lisa's results yet, but I think mine turned out alright! Yahoo! I have to admit that my confidence was mightily shaken after the last challenge. I can't quite rid myself of this nagging feeling that I am likely to come out in these challenges as the underdog. I could blame it on the fact that I have to do my challenges late into the night after the little ones are in bed, but the truth is, I'm just really, really impatient. Especially when things aren't working out and then I tend to say screw it, good enough. WRONG ATTITUDE! I think these public challenges are going to be a nice little life lesson for me.
Anyways, this project was a lot of fun. I felt pretty confident with my material of choice in terms of it's forgiving texture, but I really felt horrible when I looked at the name of the product after the fact. It was called Plastilina. I thought, oh great, here I am trying to radically reduce my use of plastic, and I've gone and bought a whole brick of the stuff. It's bad enough that it was encased in plastic packaging. I was in a rush, and it looked like the perfect material, so I bought it. I'm going to have to be a little less impulsive and more aware when I buy going forward. On a happier note, turns out that I'm not so sure what Plastilina is after all. According to the internet, it's made of wax, oil and clay flour. Is it compostable? I'm not sure. I hope so.
So, I started out really strong. I didn't have enough to make this a large project, which I came to regret as I tried to paint it. C'est la vie. I loved the result of the unpainted sculpture and it helped that family members kept saying it looked awesome!
The painting was the tricky part, especially with such a small surface. I tried using my husband's acrylic paints, but I'm so clumsy with the delicate writing via tiny paintbrush and the paints were dried out a bit and difficult to use. I switched half-way to a permanent marker. It was a lot easier to use, but by the time I was done, it looked amateurish and I was frustrated. My daughter came to the rescue! She agreed that it didn't look that great with the marker. A bit of honesty is refreshing sometimes, even when you are frustrated because -- dammit -- I was not going to fail again!
So I carefully scraped all the lettering off, grateful that I was using clay! I smoothed it out as best I could and started again. But it was about 10:45pm and I was freakin' tired! Gracie brought me some of her paints and we experimented not only with the paint dilution but also with its application.
Turns out the Wilton fondant tool came in handy again! I used the needle end like a fountain pen. It took awhile, but it was much better in the end. Finished it off with a coat of my daughter's clear top coat nail polish, and voila! I didn't get to bed till nearly midnight, but I went to sleep with my pride intact!
So without further ado ... here is my offering!
Until next time!