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Post-Holiday Recap

11 Jan

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Holiday or Festivus, I’m sure many presents were exchanged, much sugar was consumed, and tackiness abounded. At least, that’s how it is in my world! I got out my ugly Christmas dress from last year and sewed sewed sewed! I made this new dress:

A definite improvement on my first dress, but I still think I look like a tree skirt.

I also made some felt house hoops inspired by the artistic genius of Checkout Girl (pictures to come!) and a nerdy hoop for my Star Trek-loving lady friend:

My brother got the pink bunny pajamas from A Christmas Story. You know, the one where the kid shoots his eye out?

"You only need to wear them when Aunt Clara comes to visit!"

And for Mr. C, I did something a little different! Instead of sewing, I painted. I ordered a set of blank Russian nesting dolls, or “matryoshkas,” from this site and painted them like Serenity and her crew from Firefly! He was stunned. At first, he thought I bought them already painted like that, but when I told him otherwise, his jaw dropped.

Firefly Russian Dolls

My favourite is little Jayne.

However, Mr. C had to one-up me by hand sewing me a bouquet of Mario flowers. Most guys just buy them from the florist. And most bouquets don’t have piranha plants!

The work that went into these is unreal. I think Mr. C will have to post a tutorial, because he made the patterns all on his own! I just love them. They are in a place of pride above our Wii.

Here’s hoping everyone had a magical holiday (even though it probably wasn’t as awesome as ours).

(Mrs. A)

Vincent Van Groovy

8 Oct

Another Dollarama canvas has been transformed! Like the canvas from my earlier Mona Lisa makeover, this one had a black and white, paint-by-numbers-esque line drawing of Van Gogh’s famous “Sunflowers” painting. I toyed with the idea of doing another steampunk painting, maybe with clockwork flowers, but I was finally inspired by the beautiful felt artwork over at Checkout Girl’s blog. If you have not seen it, you are missing out!

I completely covered the canvas with fabric, so the black and white sketch didn’t really help me as far as layout goes. I just cut a bunch of felt into sunflowerish shapes and layered them together in a pleasing way. The buttons were a last-minute addition, because I felt (ha) that something was missing. I think they help pull the whole colour scheme together.

When I hung this on my wall, I couldn’t help but think that a little bit of the 1970s had worked its way into my living room. Something about the orange, gold and brown hearkens back to the days of this and this. In a completely pleasing way, of course. I am now considering painting my dining room orange. According to the crazy psychologist people, orange is a good colour for digestion…is that why A&W does so well?

(Mrs. A)

Empire Cookies Strike Back

5 Sep

How have I never thought of this before! They are called EMPIRE cookies! Inspiration finally hit when Mr. C and I were discussing the possibility of opening a comic book shop slash bakery, and I decided that every baked good must have some sort of geeky reference in the name. Stay tuned for Wookie Pies.

Empire (Strikes Back!) Cookies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1 1/2 c. unsalted butter, softened
1 c. icing sugar, plus extra for icing
1 c. corn starch
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. almond extract, plus 1 tsp. for icing
seedless raspberry jam
decorating gel

Cream butter with icing sugar until fluffy. Add corn starch and cream again. Stir in almond extract. Gradually add the flour and mix well until soft. Roll out dough on floured surface to about 3mm thickness. Cut into desired shapes (Death Stars! Well…round, actually) and place on lined cookie sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until edges just start to turn golden. Let cool.

Next, sandwich the cooled cookies with a spoonful of seedless raspberry jam. To prepare the icing, mix a couple of cups of icing sugar with enough warm water to make a thick paste-like consistency. Add a few smears of black food colouring and the rest of the almond extract and frost cookies! Decorate with gel (I made whole Death Stars here, but feel free to make the Death Star II work in progress). Let sit for a few minutes to let the icing harden, otherwise they will become a huge mess if you stack them!

EAT! And may the Force be with you.

Dragon Eggs (a late Easter post)

4 May

To celebrate International Chocolate-Eating Day, sometimes called “Easter,” we decided to make our own cream-filled chocolate eggs! Even though the amount of fat and sugar in these babies probably rivals that in the store-bought variety, making our own just seemed more wholesome.

We happened to be in the middle of an intense Dungeons and Dragons game over the Easter weekend, so we decorated these eggs accordingly (see the Mister’s lovely d20 in the centre?) and dubbed them “Dragon Eggs.” If only dragons really did lay chocolate eggs…but that’s just fantasy.

Now for the recipe!

1 c. butter, softened
1/2 tsp. salt
4 tsp. vanilla
1 can sweetened condensed milk (Eagle brand!)
10 c. icing sugar
1 tsp. liquid yellow food colouring
1 lb. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
Your choice of decorations! We used coloured molding wafers.

Beat butter, salt and vanilla until fluffy. Add sweetened condensed milk, beat some more, and then start adding the icing sugar. It helps if you have a super-powerful, sexy KitchenAid stand mixer like I do! The icing will start to get stiff, and may burn out a less sexy hand mixer. Add the sugar gradually, beating well after every cup or two.

Set aside 2/3 of the icing. Add yellow food colouring to the remaining 1/3.

Shape the yellow icing into round “yolks” and mold the white around the ball, forming an egg. Let set for a few hours in the fridge, as this stops the cream from melting when you dip the eggs in the chocolate.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler (or a stainless steel bowl over a boiling pot of water). Dip the eggs into the chocolate and place on lined baking sheets. Let cool at room temperature, then refrigerate.

Decorate!!!

WARNING: These eggs are extremely sugary! Consume slowly, or face the consequences.

(Mrs. A)

Jammer Cookies!

24 Mar

The other night I hosted a meeting for my roller derby league. That’s right, roller derby- as in girls on skates knocking each other to the floor. It’s a tough sport for tough girls, but we still like adorable things like star-shaped shortbreads with jam in the middle and icing. Who doesn’t?

Empire biscuits are my favourite cookie- they are super easy to make, taste freaking amazing and they last for days! Not like stupid chocolate chip, who tastes great right out of the oven and only so-so afterward, forcing me to eat the entire batch in one sitting. Stupid cookies.

Where was I? Empire biscuits (formerly called Linzer biscuits, but changed in a “Freedom fries” kind of way when England and Germany were not playing nice)! They are awesome. But I decided they could be more awesome by cutting the shortbread into stars (like those on the jammer’s helmet- if not familiar with roller derby, please see here and join in the fun, already) and dying the icing to match our team colours. Then I realized- there is jam in the middle! Jammer cookies! Could that name BE any more perfect?

And now, the recipe (makes about 18 large sandwich cookies, 36 un-sandwiched ones):

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.Jammer Cookies
1 1/2 c. butter, softened
1 c. icing sugar
1 c. corn starch
2 c. all-purpose flour

Cream butter with icing sugar until fluffy. Add corn starch and cream again. Gradually add the flour and mix well until soft. Roll out dough on floured surface to about 3mm thickness. Cut into desired shapes (stars!) and place on lined cookie sheet. Bake for 12 minutes, or until edges just start to turn golden. Let cool.

Next (and this is more slapdash than the previous instructions), sandwich the cooled cookies with a spoonful of seedless raspberry jam. To prepare the icing, mix a couple of cups of icing sugar with enough warm water to make a thick paste-like consistency. Add a few drops of food colouring and frost cookies! Let sit for a few minutes to let the icing harden, otherwise they will become a huge mess if you stack them.

EAT!

(Mrs. A, a.k.a. “Smasha Yar”)

Beef and Broccoli Heaven!

1 Mar

Time for some culinary arts!

Beef and BroccoliI’m trying out some new recipes to get us out of our dinner rotation funk, and to get some more veggies on our plate. I realize that this dish isn’t the healthiest (quite a bit of sodium from the soy sauce), but it gets us some broccoli into our tums, so that’s cool with me! I never thought I’d eat so much broccoli in one sitting and actually enjoy it! This has to be one of the best recipes I’ve tried in a long time. Super easy and no weird ingredients (like oyster sauce, which is called for in a lot of Chinese food recipes- ew!).

Prepare yourself for deliciousness. This is better than any take-out beef and broccoli I’ve ever had. It’s from the Taste of Home magazine (which has never failed me), but I’ve modified it slightly. I used fresh ginger and garlic instead of the powdered forms, but you could use either, depending on what you have.

3 tbls. cornstarch
2 tbls. plus 1/2 cup water
1 tsp. garlic (reduce to 1/2 tsp if using powder)
1 pound round steak, cut into strips
2 tbls. oil (I used peanut, because the bottle had Chinese characters on it, and it seemed appropriate)
2 heads of broccoli florets
1 cup bean sprouts (not in the original, but I LOVE bean sprouts)
1 small onion, diced
1/3 c. soy sauce
2 tbls. brown sugar
1 tsp. fresh grated ginger
Brown rice, for serving

-Combine 2 tbls. cornstarch, 2 tbls. water and garlic. Stir until smooth. Add beef and toss to coat.
-In a large pan over medium-high heat, stir-fry beef in 1 tbls. oil to desired doneness, remove and keep warm.
-Stir-fry broccoli and onion in remaining oil for 4-5 minutes. Return beef to pan. Add sprouts.
-In a measuring cup, combine soy sauce, sugar, ginger, 1 tbls. cornstarch and 1/2 c. water until smooth. Add to the pan. Cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Serve with rice.

Serves 4! Or 2, with lunch made for the next day (get creative with some beef and broccoli wraps made in a whole wheat tortilla with alfalfa sprouts. YUM).

(Mrs. A)

My little baby Yucca brevifolia

26 Feb

We have just returned from a very sinful Vegas vacation (with all the mix-ups and hi-jinx of the National Lampoon movie) and we have brought with us an adorable little baby Joshua tree! Well, right now it is just a small terra cotta pot with some desert dirt and seeds, but hopefully it will sprout in 10-21 days and become an adorable spiny twig.

Is gardening an art? I like to think so, but let me know if you disagree. Gardens themselves are pieces of art, says Wikipedia, so I’m going to go ahead and file this post under “Arts.” Also, I’ll be a little ahead of myself and file this under “Home Decor,” in hopes that this boring pot of dirt will eventually lend something to the room.

I’m going to call him “Bono.”

(Mrs. A)

Steampunk Mona Lisa

28 Jan

I get into moods (just ask my husband). Right now, I am in the kind of mood that makes me pine for a world of airships, journeys to the center of the earth and time machines.

Maybe four months ago, the Dollarama was selling grey scale canvases of popular works of art. I immediately snatched up the Mona Lisa, Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, and Monet’s abysmally overused Water Lilies. The latter two are still sitting in my library/office/art room, and probably will be for a while. But who can resist $2 canvases? I knew that I was going to do something to poor Lisa, but I hadn’t decided what.

Then, of course, genius struck and I have my very own steampunk Mona Lisa! I’m sure Da Vinci would appreciate her snappy goggles and the flying machine in the background, so I have no qualms about “ruining” a masterpiece. Plus, I think that it is much more tasteful than this.

PS: This piece was done with Prismacolor Nupastels (my favourite thing to draw with ever).

(Mrs. A)