May 29, 2009

Did I mention how much I love that thing?

My serger, of course! Every day I look for reasons to use it, and it just doesn't get old. I've made A's dress, skirts, baby wipes, and many other things with it. The other day I chopped my old maternity cropped pants and turned them into a pair of pants for Elijah. Didn't take much time at all, I only switched to sewing machine when I was doing elastic waist. A pair of pants, complete with 3 cargo pockets that cost me next to nothing in time and money. Can't beat that. You just can't...

and this sweet face(and her fingers) couldn't stay away from the camera. she deserves an 'A' for the effort to get into the shot.

May 27, 2009

Anya's all-night swaddle

Anya's all night swaddle (with link to instructions)

I meant to post it here sooner, but better late than never. This is also a shameless plug for Aden & Anais muslin swaddling wraps(which I DON'T sell) that we love SO MUCH. I honestly think that every parent needs to give them a try, and I'm not exaggerating. After all, we have 3 kids and by now we are all about necessities. Oh, and they are also sold at Target now for and even better price with some exclusive designs. I didn't try those personally, but hope they are the same amazing quality!

We stopped swaddling Anya at around 10 months, but due to recent requests I took some photos and turned them into quick instructions on the swaddle that we did for A since she was about 3 months old.

I initially planned to do it with a teddy bear, but it was too small (newborn size) and I decided to risk it with A. Surprisingly, she didn't mind at all, stayed still the whole time, either remembering or wondering what was going on and how it was going to end :)

Check out this Swaddle gallery for instructions on how we did Anya's all-night swaddle.

I hoping to post either some photos or a video of a different swaddling techniques that worked better for teeny tiny newborns.

May 26, 2009

Busy days

It's been a busy month. We've been looking for a car since April, and the search was consuming pretty much all of our free time. Now it's DONE. The car is purchased, we are really really happy to have a car that better suits our needs and also to be done with looking at ads, reviews and driving to dealerships.

Now if only we could get just one step ahead of our laundry, you know, the kind that's been washed and maybe even folded, but never makes it back into the dresser and gets unfolded by busy little hands? Yeah, the story of our life right now...

Aside from that, it's good to have my 'free' time back (the time when I'm supposed to be sleeping but instead chose to work on my projects and then regret it in the morning). I've been branching out (as always) and trying my hand at new things, mostly working on bringing back my drawing skills and adding watercolor painting to it. I've also finally carved a few stamps, something I've been wanting to do for a long time. I don't scrapbook (intentionally trying to avoid it, or I'll get addicted quickly), but I always loved the added touch of a stamped picture to the gift wrap (brown paper bag in our case) or a letter/envelope. Plus I've been wanting to use stamps on fabric as well.
So, viola, my first stamp was carved.

my attempt at hand carving a stamp

I also was happy to return back to my serger and make a quick, easy and, ultimately, adorable dress for Anya. Just found a small onesie, shortened it, added skirt, finished the bottom with rolled edge hem (using serger for it as well) and completed the look with tie-dyed bath for the dress.

loving my serger

I decided to get the most use out of the dye bath, so in went 3 more small items, one of them was a t-shirt for Elijah:

These are just some of the things I've made recently, and I'm hoping for many many more creative opportunities soon. Tonight will be soon enough :)

May 5, 2009

No-meat Korma

I've made this dish several times and it's quickly becoming my favorite. At the beginning it was based on one of the recipes from one of my cookbooks, but the last few times I prepared it by memory since I couldn't find the book, adding my own personal touches. Since I'm not very creative with names for dishes, I'll let it have it's original name - Korma. However, if you are intimately familiar with Indian cooking and this is no where near what Korma is supposed to taste like, let me know and I'll drop that name. I completely understand the frustration of having a random dish named after something that it doesn't even remotely related to.

Oh, and last time I used cauliflower for the first.time.ever. Don't know what took me so long, probably the memories of it being all soggy and smelly after being boiled for half an hour. It's not like that at all. Even Mark admitted that he liked it.

Disclaimer: I'm lousy at writing recipes, or following them for that matter. So if something sounds unclear, feel free to ask. Be aware that I don't measure, everything is eyeballed so don't put too much trust into my measurements, they are only given as guidelines. Start with less if you are not familiar with a certain spice, and keep adding more to your taste. In other words, have fun!

No-meat Korma

EV olive or coconut oil for sauteing
1 med. onion chopped
3-5 cloves of garlic, minced
hot red pepper flakes
1-2 T freshly grated ginger root
1t turmeric
2-3t ground cumin
2-3t ground coriander
2t garam masala OR 1t ground cardamom (or a little of both)
maybe a tiny pinch of cinnamon (honestly, don't remember, but won't hurt to try)
3-5 medium tomatoes, chopped
bell pepper, cut in heart-shaped pieces (or whatever shape you like)
lots and lots of cauliflower (or a little less than that, combined with extra firm cubed tofu)
water or some kind of stock (about 1 cup, depending on how much sauce you want)
1/2-2/3c sour cream
add lemon juice if you like extra 'kick'
baby spinach (optional)
fresh cilantro

Saute onions with garlic until golden brown, add ginger and spices, stirring frequently. Add vegetables and cook uncovered with a tiny bit of water until they start getting tender (just don't wait until they get soggy, please). Add the rest of the water, stir, add sour cream, stir some more. Throw in some spinach if you want (I do it automatically). Let cook for another couple of minutes. Served over rice, quinoa or buckwheat, topped with fresh cilantro(or not).

May 4, 2009

Having fun=hard work

I don't know why, but whenever we try to have a fun outing for the kids' sake, it often turns out the opposite. We have no problem with having spontaneous fun, but as soon as it stops being spontaneous, the fun ends and the tears with screaming take over.

It took us some time to find a good day to go fly a kite which was gifted to Elijah for his birthday. We got into the car, drove to the park, found a perfect spot for running and practicing with kite flying. Turns out kids lost all the interest in doing what the whole outing was about and instead decided to run wild. Don't get me wrong, running wild is cute and fun, but with our two runners it means running as far away as possible, preferable in two different directions, with one of them being towards the busy street. That's where fun ends. Our begging and pleading to stay closer to us didn't do any good, then there was a good deal of fighting, tears, screaming and almost going home.

We gave up on the kite idea, partly because the wind was no good (or we were just lousy kite fliers), and partly because we needed to re-focus and have just a bit of fun before heading home so that we'd have something good to remember. Fortunately, playing hide-and-seek and catch left us with plenty of happy memories.

Looking through the photos makes it seem like the crying only lasted for 5 seconds and the fun lasted all night. Time will pass, and we will be telling our grown up children that we don't remember them acting up. EVER.

And had to add this cute little clip, makes me smile every time I watch it :)

Shiny new things

I've been enjoying using my new set of stainless steel cookware. I'm slowly getting used to using super low flame, which does the trick for me without burning the food, thus making my pots and pans almost as non-stick as Teflon coated pans that we finally got rid of. Good times, I have time for cooking (most days), I have fun cooking and I love the end result. Now I just need to write my made-up recipes before I forget them...

Disclaimer: I'm lousy at writing recipes, or following them for that matter. So if something sounds unclear, feel free to ask. Be aware that I don't measure, everything is eyeballed so don't put too much trust into my measurements, they are only given as guidlines. Start with less if you are not familiar with a certain spice, and keep adding more to your taste. In other words, have fun!

Lentil soup with Bulghur stuff(or whatever spelling you want to use for it)
4 quarts or many many servings

2 c green lentils (soak for at least 30 mins)
1 c bulghur wheat (coarse would give more texture, fine will make soup more creamy)

fresh garlic cloves, the more the better (5-7?)
1 medium onion chopped
dried or fresh mint (3T-ish of dried or medium store-sized bunch)
2t ground cumin
2t ground coriander - optional
1 t turmeric

1 can tomato sauce or 3-5 tomatoes pureed in a blender
vegetable or chicken stock
2-3 T lemon juice of 1 lemon squeezed (start with less and add more to taste)
salt/pepper to taste

baby spinach

Cook lentils for about 20 minutes in stock of your choice. When tender, add bulghur wheat and let simmer. Meanwhile...

Saute onions with minced garlic until golden brown, add all the spices and saute for another 2 minutes.

Add the spice/onion/garlic mixture to the pot, stir, add mint, salt/pepper and tomato sauce/puree. Stir and add lemon juice to taste. Throw in some baby spinach and cook for 2-3 minutes. Done.