Saturday, August 29, 2009

It's a Wrap

Do you enjoy a beautifully wrapped present?  I do so much that I want to take it all in and just look at it awhile.  Usually the gift bearer urges me on and I give in with a sigh.  When I remember, I take a picture of the wrapped present, and yes, people think I'm crazy... Anywho, we're talking about wraps this time: food wraps, knit wrap patterns, "green" gift wraps.

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I'm pleased that the United States is embracing the concept of going green, I've noticed almost every public place  has recycling opportunities readily available.  For me, recycling is not really a fad and I hope it isn't for you either. Once, a rather Bohemian Californian friend gave me a gift wrapped in a scarf held together with a lovely vintage pin.  I knew immediately that it was three gifts, a great idea, and something I would be sure to do whenever the opportunity presented itself.  Years later, I do not recall what was inside but I can still see the divine wrapping and remember the glorious feelings it imparted.  There is an actual term for this style of gift presenting, it is furoshki, an eco friendly japanese culture concept which promotes caring for the environment and reducing waste.  These can continue on as gift wraps or become scarf adornments but mostly know that they needn't be avant garde or ostentatious, a nice subtle fabric may be more to the liking and still absolutely wonderful.  Bobo wrapping scarf design has videos on making these lovely presentations found here

Do you ever want to just bring along bottles of wine to a dinner gathering but wish to do it with a touch of panache? Of course you do and that is why this 2 bottle wrap  these from BoBo comes in 48" styles :

Cuisine Wraps:

Abeego all natural and reusable food wrap is eco friendly food storage.  Really, though, I want to share a little recipe for food wraps.  Not necessary I know, because you can figure this out on your own but consider these recipes a little food inspiration:  recipes are a click away for an Asian lettuce wraps, avocado lettuce wraphealthy food wraps,  tortilla and lettuce base wraps. If you try any of these, I'd love to hear about it.  Please leave a comment after you wipe your hands and don't talk with your mouth full.  

Random thought, but people remark about the word gay like it's a negative thing so much so that I receive cringes whenever I use it.  Get a grip people because it's a lovely word and I love the gay little things which go along with being feminine, particularly the wraps I get to wear on cool evenings out.  I saw some wonderful potentials to knit and come on, you should share some of yours with me.  The ones I saw were at Ravelry, Knitty , and Stitch Diva and even unconventional places like this German site I found called Wollmeise which had this dazzling moebius wrap.   Not to worry though because there is an English translation for this pattern on the same page a little further down.  At left, right and center below are pattern source for Stolen Moments wrap, knit tissue cozy,  crochet Garden party wrap.
Ok, your turn, share a favorite wrap pattern with us here in comments.  Can't wait. ~Olive 

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Food and Flowers

I have a sunflower plot in my yard, it's 4'x4' and full of nothing but tall sunflowers. I grow them for bird food but of course other critters didn't get the memo and likely help themselves.  It's pretty wonderful watching small birds land on them and pick the seeds right out of the flower.  I can never seem to get a picture of them though.  One son of mine usually says we should roast them and eat them but we haven't yet.  He wants to enjoy them as you would sunflower seeds that come salted in a bag but I would likely make this Basil Sunflower Seed Pesto recipe.   I have often substituted the basil in pesto recipes with other vegetables like spinach and broccoli and even used dried basil flakes to taste.

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Sunflowers hint that fall is coming but we don’t need to wait for fall in order to have some of it’s fun... Why not carve a watermelon and make it beautiful instead of the harvest pumpkin with it’s face. If you’re having a gathering for labor day, this may just be a highlight of your table-scape. 

I have not tried this but I discovered it when looking for things to do with a melon instead of the usual fare. Pretty cool thought can use other melons such as honey dew and a simpler technique which would work for beginners to this craft.  Once, a friend brought a watermelon punch to a gathering of mine.  It was such a treat and she said it was no big deal to make and when I tried the recipe I added frozen melon balls as "ice cubes", the fancy thing about that is the melon balls bubbled as they thawed so the drink had a pretty neat action to it.  If you thread them onto bamboo skewers you can use them as a stirrers because the watermelon punch separates.

I'm thinking about having some guests over for labor day.  I really shun entertaining large crowds lately because I never feel like I can relax and enjoy the party along with my guests.  Small crowds also afford the opportunity to make incredible hors d'oeuvres without breaking the bank.  I favor martini glass appetizers (no alcohol involved) but you can certainly make these in daiquiri vessels as well for larger servings.  These recipes are Shrimp CevicheLobster Martini Appetizer, and even a heavenly Tiramisu all served in chilled martini glasses.

I have to tell you about a dish I make whenever there is a cool day - Cuban Black Bean Stew.   My family loves this meal!  I serve it with brown rice and add lots of crushed red pepper to mine and some cayenne, also.  People compare the taste of this dish to the inside of a burrito and I don't make it with the cilantro or lime most times because I don't always have those handy but dish is still excellent. I make a vegetable to go with this, I prefer to couple it with a braised bitter green because the friend who introduced this to me actually had it in Cuba and said it was always served with a sauteed collard green.  I braise bok choy when collards are not handy.

At the height of lavender season, I find I always want a reminder of summer.  These lavender wands found at Lady Farmer Parables blog (scroll down a little) do just the trick using about 13-18 fresh lavender stems.  If you don't have lavender, try this with butterfly bush stalks or another fragrant stemmed plant.  Give it a try and tuck one in a drawer or near the bed for enjoyment. I tucked mine in my car's glove box.  

Saturday, August 15, 2009


Life feels pretty hectic for me right now with the start of a new school year and trying to finish writing a book.  I really need some sweet distractions from my sense of hectic that were not illegal, immoral or fattening - know what I mean?  Yes, well, I did intend to show you... here is a recipe, music, flowers, window shopping and a little scrapbook craft.

Stopping to smell flowers always cheers me and a new beautiful way of arranging them is all the nicer.  I picked some from my yard and scattered arrangements around the house: powder room, bedroom, office desk.  I even shared some with a friend.  The smells invite me to glimpse and seem to celebrate nature and pretty femininity.  The little puppy bouquets by the way, are white chrysanthemums gathered and fastened together with toy eyes and nose such as you'd find in craft store for making plush animals.  River rocks and painted daisies float on top of water.  Lastly, the instructions for flower cones are a click away and if you use a small container for water wrapped with wire, you can wrap a cone of paper around it and add a small bouquet to hang from some low spot in your domain. 

My music player from helps lessen that hectic feeling and it was very easy to create.  It was also free and the instructions easy to follow.  I can’t quite appreciate Pandora music radio though I know plenty who do so I’m sharing it in case you may enjoy it.  On Pandora, you create a radio station that plays music based on your taste in music.  I'm a little random in my taste and sporadic as well, so...and no, I am not a control freak...sort of.  This is my playlist and it is on pause right now but you can start it by pressing play if you wish. Click on CREATE YOUR FREE PLAYLIST to make your own.

New recipes also generally tickle my fancy, this one for mini bagels (recipe) was so cute.  You can make them the size you like with dough, boiled till floating and then a quick finish in the oven with toppings.  I’m going to reward myself by making this between projects.  I like bagels but not the carb commitment one makes even with half a bagel.  And seriously, I don’t really want to keep thinking about that unfinished work of the other bagel half! Seems silly I know but I’m sure can hear that little bagel half calling to me and I have to kill it!  

The making of sweet nothings for loved ones clears my head but I can only bring myself to make functional things....I just hate perfunctory junk!  I found this little Altoids tin project (scroll down for directions) and thought how nice it would be to collect for my BFF (best friend forever).  She’s the sentimental type and this would be so touching to her.  I certainly would not mind receiving one either come to think of it.    

I’m rereading this and thinking it sounds so me-me-me... yikes.  Well, before you think I’m totally self absorbed I invite you to go window shopping.  It’s made better when done online in the middle of the night in the privacy of your own home.  I shop here at FashionUnder100.  This blog is updated often and not all looks work for me but we all know that shoes and accessories always fit.  I also like this other one because, notice the trend, I am so champagne-frugal!  Cheap Chic Daily hits that spot.  

I surely hope you found something fun here.  I love it when you take a minute to tell me in comments =)  Take care of yourself.

Sunday, August 9, 2009


My son number one came to me with his  his favorite jeans in hand and said to me  “please fix these”.  Intent on granting his wish,  I inspected them and  knew with their damage they were no longer  wearable.  All need not be lost though, I decided.  I  held on to them as I considered how to repurpose them; something functional in order that he  could go on having good times with those favorite of jeans .   It came to me at the grocery store that I’d make them into a tote bag.  I  planned, wrote directions, executed my fine idea.  He came upon me in my making  of my gift and although I was not finished I did feel pleased with myself.  That is up until he asked with an exclamation point “You turned my jeans into a purse?!”.  "Oh, I, I... "  Sigh, so I have,  it’s what  happens when I think like a girl.  Well, maybe you can appreciate this pattern for the bag on the left.   I jotted down the instructions as I sewed it.   I've used it at the grocery store to cut down on using plastic grocery bags.   Mean while, I will figure out how to make this more rugged looking one on the right  as well as the cute one in the center and report back later.  No, I don't see him using that one either, he's not exactly the metrosexual type,  but I  am.  I just love semi-masculine things =).

I've been a recycler consciously since the age of 10 when I first heard the word and that was a long while ago.  I really have quite a love of antiques and vintage especially the minuscule utilitarian items whose original purpose requires wondering.  Vintage, in fact, was my first adult hobby.  In this time of “green” popularity I’m certain you also seek ways to re purpose.  Share? I love comments.  Follow this blog automatically by clicking the RSS button which says POST . Thank you for visiting =) .

No mere dust collectors for me as I am not really a fan of clutter so I personally only chose things I can use.    I am especially fond of classic architecture and things with a past. Wrought iron work has a beauty deserving of a recycle.  This piece of fencing works nicely as a headboard.  You can find bold treasures like this at architectural salvage stores in your local directory.  Diminutive and demure treasure can often be found at estate sales and certainly resale shops and tag sales.  I use an antique flower frog like the one on the right to hold pens in one room and makeup brushes in another. 

With a passion for cooking, I absolutely adore any  kitchen tool and am a fan of what quirks - such as these re purposed forks.  I count myself lucky when I happen upon nearly antique kitchen helpers and some say this is not re purposing.  I beg to differ, they could be headed towards the trash can.  I have a recipe for you to try, a recycle of sorts.  Frequently the rice remains when ordering take out and mind finds it's way into the trashcan more often than not.  Here is a recipe to stop that immediately, it is rice salad from a favorite food blog.   Using this recipe will require the substitution of leftover rice for the wild rice but it works nicely: Wild Rice Salad Recipe.

Lately I've been entertaining what to do with the idea of recycling yarn, specifically the yarn unravelled and

 wound into a ball of what was formerly a ruined or unfortunate looking sweater or other thing which did not deserve to go on living it's mundane or downright YIKES sort of existence. Works well with cotton items.   I thought of this before  I saw yarn recycling actually done while watching something like Knitty Gritty  or something on HGTV.     Oh, I found this Pattern for Kureyon Coffee Cozy and am going to make one for my friends who enjoy those take out designer coffee and use those cardboard sleeves which are admittedly recycled also but, you know? =)  I like this one because it covers the entire container. I keep finding myself with leftover Noro's and with their prices and beauty, they beg to be put to good use. I tell you in order that yo u consider the same re purposeful thing about a ruined sweater or other.  While  we ponder that, check out this crochet pattern for a Yarn Ball Cozy from a CD Canister. This one made by Jennifer Offenstein is also found on Ravelry and Crafster.  It is a little basic, and would look even better using leftover sexy yarn like a Noro and add beads or organic stone buttons to the ends of the ties.  It's a utilitarian way to recycle/repurpose those CD continers while others include bagel lunch container or even a gift box (you can add a cut to fit piece of wrapping paper to fit the inside).

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Pomme de Peau - Apple appeal

From the early days of childhood, I vaguely recall something about bringing an apple to school for the teacher. It was my mother's idea my kindergarten year idea and nearly the only memory that remains of that first school year. I felt silly bringing the apple and my heart was not in it but I was an obedient child (chuckle) so I did it dragging my feet all the while and protesting and a with a few tears. What I did not understand then and found out later is that it was a traditional gift given to the poorly paid teachers of an era. Yes, money would have been nicer but that wasn't nearly as accessible so kindness stepped in. You can't go wrong with kindness.

Nowadays, some schools celebrate what is known as teacher
appreciation day where some sort of gift is bestowed in recognition of their above and beyond the call of duty efforts. The designer caramel apple confections available today are an appealing gift. They overwhelmed me when I first saw them as I wondered how to bite into the darned things. Now I laugh at myself as I discover that they were intended to be sliced into wedges and enjoyed at a slower pace than I had imagined, shared even.
I liked the idea of them but I don't desire that much dietary decadence and sought a more diminutive version of that pleasure. Ever handy with the kitchen gadgets, I determined that using a melon ball scooper and carving out rounded portions of apple while leaving the skin in tact provided a bite sized candidate for caramelizing and spilling other confections upon. Add a candy stick or wooden toothpick into the bullseye of the remaining apple skin and you will have created a dippable candidate for miniature candy apple. I would love to know if you use this idea. It is not exclusive but it is fun for fall gatherings, teacher gifts and any occasion where you want to entertain or delight in an adorable manner.
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With all their varieties, who doesn't like apples? I have a particular one which I enjoy so much that I bought an accessory for it from Decal Girl and then one for my close-est companion who was actually shamefully naked for a time. I realize that your closest companion might not be an Apple product but Decal Girl does not play favorites, she'll improve most any of your technology based friendships. The product line there caters more to the masculine perspective with aggressive skins and the background page downloads that match them but there are quite a few feminine designs among them worth browsing for.

Apple Bottoms jeans is a line of trendy clothing celebrating the natural curves of a woman's body. These are a favorite of celebrities but my interest remains in the particular fit which undulates where I do (^_~) . Expect to pay what you would for a moderate jean and enjoy the fit as well as stylish details. The artisans at Apple Bottoms have an exciting approach to clothing and therefore will appeal to the vibrant woman.
It was my intention to share my personal German Apple Pancake recipe with you. These are so fantastic because they call for a thin batter to be poured evenly over fruit and finish quickly in the oven where they puff up. You flip them onto a plate then and sprinkle with powdered sugar because if you add whipped cream with these and it's breakfast time, I am going to raise my eyebrows at you. Well, again this was what I was going to share with you and then I recalled that I don't buy apples in the summer because I will get more than enough of them this winter when the cherries, mangoes and all are scarce. What I ended up with was making a Plum pancake instead and it turned out beautifully! The colors of the sauteed plum against the golden pancake were more visually appetizing than anticipated. I eat with my eyes and nose and taste buds so I like the look of beautiful food. When I put my fork into this beautiful creation I found the taste was bright and had a zing as a finish on the tongue. It left me wanting more so I had to share. Don't even think for a minute that this is a low calorie food, just do something fun to burn them off and enjoy yourself with this!