July 13, 2011

I hate ants...

I really do. I hate ants. They smell of black licorice. How do I know that you ask? One summer my dad set up our tent right between a giant ants nest and their source of food. Rather than going around the large tent, the long line of ants crawled over the tent, day and night. All you could hear was the sound of them scratching their way up and down, there were so many ants!! and the smelt of black licorice, it was terrible. Ants also seem to love my favourite flowers, peonies, the horrible little things crawl all over them and bite me whenever I try to cut a few blossoms. They are evil. We have even had trouble with ants in our house; a few years back we saw a long line of ants heading up the side of our house into the attic. They had decided to relocate there and since they were carpenter ants it cost us over a grand (yeah, that's right, $1000) to get rid of them.
Up until yesterday I honestly didn't think that I could despise them more, that was until we found some in our bathroom. Yes, that's right, the bathroom that we were renovating, the "quick, 1 week, cosmetic" reno. So, it turns out that only part of the bathroom was plaster, half was drywall covered in tile. The drywall under the tile was rotten, crumbly and the studs under that are also black with rot. Oh, and don't forget that we found carpenter ants in there, along with mold. Ugggggg.
So, our one week reno will now probably take a month since we have to completely gut the bathroom, even the studs and ceiling.
Damn those ants!

June 9, 2011

Reno Inspiration

I’m super excited and have spent a good chunk of the day searching for inspiration. We are renovating our main bathroom! It’s currently hideous, I’ll post some before & after pictures once we get to work. Our house was built in the late 40’s but the bathroom was redone in the 70’s and it is soooo ugly. The tub and sink are an odd yellowy-green colour, the tiles are an odd funky brown & pea soup floral print (are this covers all of the walls) and the lights are “lovely” round frosted pendants hanging from some chain. There is also an odd mirror frame that is an ornate plastic painted brown and gold. The bathroom is not only ugly but it is falling apart, the paint is peeling from the plaster and tiles are literally falling off the walls. It’s bad.
So, my husband has agreed, we will gut the bathroom. I’ve tried to put together some inspiration board but had a little trouble. The bathroom is tiny so we are short on options, we also have a budget, so that limits what we will do. Also, because of the tile and the condition of the walls underneath we have decided that we have to have wainscoting. I really love the “Hollywood Regency” style and Art Deco style but I’m not sure that those styles really go with wainscoting.
I can’t wait to go shopping…

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May 25, 2011

I'm Back, I Swear

Well, I’m back, for a bit at least. I know it’s been a long time since I’ve written anything and I even debated just deleting this whole thing but I’ve decided that I won’t, I’ll give it another shot. I’ve been super stress out at work lately, tight deadlines, lack of resources (and by that I mean people) and having to stay late. A few disappointments in lost work opportunities as well (I have no backup so I can’t work on certain projects). Life is just so hectic that I was finding this blog to be stressful. Frankly. I know I’m not a strong writer and trying to come up with multiple interesting posts a week was keeping me up. Work has kind of calmed down (or maybe it’s that I just don’t care as much) and I think I know how to tackle this blog again. I’m just going to write about what’s going on in my life and what I’m passionate about. I’ve been having a bit of a fight with my sewing machine lately so there probably won’t be any sewing posts for a little while but I have been busy so I will have things to write about.

I'll start with the exciting news that I had this morning; I won a pattern from Rebecca at UglyCuteDesigns (go check out her blog)! It's a lovely retro leotard and I honestly can't wait to make it. Look at it's glory:

I can't decide between the yellow and green though. I really hope I can pull it off. I promise not to wear it out of my house (unless someone tells me I look awesome in it).

April 20, 2011

Dying Easter Eggs

Easter is coming up and I’m really tempted to dye some eggs, they always look so pretty. I haven’t done that since I was little. We often bought kits to dye eggs but I did recall my mother mixing up a batch using food dye. With a quick google search I found the following recipe:

For colorfast egg dyes, mix 7-8 drops of food coloring into 1 cup of hot water. Stir in 1/4 cup vinegar. Let them dry thoroughly between coats of dye.

I haven’t tried these but here are some recommendation for natural dyes that I’ve found online:

Boil ingredients in water with a tablespoon of vinegar until the desired shade is reached. Strain to remove solids.
Yellow: Yellow onion skins or ground turmeric
Orange: Same as yellow, with added beet juice
Pink: Cranberry juice concentrate
Red: Beets or paprika
Blue: Canned blueberries, red cabbage or grape juice concentrate
Green: Spinach and/or kale
Brown: Strong brewed coffee or tea (although I'm not sure why you would dye eggs brown since they often come that colour)

I’ve heard that the onion skins work really well for a yellow colour, a bit of a side note, but apparently using a whole, un-pealed onion to make chicken broth produces a really nice yellow-y stock.

I am also seriously considering making this Easter Egg Bread:
Image from Allrecipes.com, http://allrecipes.com/Cook/13263181/Photo.aspx?photoID=207651, accessed April 20, 2011.


Recipe found here.


Doesn’t it look pretty?

I do have two dinners to go to. This might be a nice thing to bring. What do you think?

Is it rude to bring bread even if they have said that I don’t need to bring anything?

April 18, 2011

Swiss Meringue Buttercream

We had a nice little visit from some of the in-laws last weekend (my brother in-law, sister in-law & boyfriend & another sister in-law) which involved bowling and food. We fired up the BBQ since it’s no longer completely buried in snow (only a couple of feet left) and I made a very yummy cake. DSC00964 I’m not going to include the cake recipe since I cheated and used a cake mix (I added a few crushed chocolate bars to give it a little extra oomph) but I will share the icing recipe. I made a Swiss meringue icing and it was amazing, not quite as good as the stuff that was on my wedding cake but still amazing. Meringue icings have always intimidated me, for some reason they just seemed really difficult and so much work (compared to a traditional buttercream). It turned out to be really simple, a bit time consuming but worth the effort for a special occasion. I adjusted the recipe to make it smaller (Only 4 eggs and 1.5 cups of butter & 1 cup of sugar) but it almost wasn’t enough icing (to coat and fill two 9” cake rounds). I would recommend make the full amount and eating freezing the leftovers. This icing isn’t as sweet as a traditional buttercream, so if you like really sweet icing this may not be for you, this one is super buttery with a mild sweet taste. Unfortunately with this recipe you will be left over with some egg yolks (unless you use that carton stuff); I used mine to make lemon bars later in the week, but you could make pudding or custard with them.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Recipe
6 egg whites
2 cups white sugar
3 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Steps:
1. Place the egg whites and sugar into a metal bowl and set over a pan filled with about 2 inches of simmering water. Stirring frequently, until the temperature of the egg whites reaches 140 degrees. I didn't have anything to measure the temperature with so I heated/stirred until the gritty texture was completely gone.

2. Transfer the heated egg whites and sugar to a large mixing bowl or stand mixer. Mix at high speed (or as high as you can go without egg flying out of the bowl) until they have reached their max volume, 5 to 10 minutes and are stiff and glossy.
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3.Mix on medium or medium-high speed while throwing in small pieces of butter and mix in vanilla. The buttercream may look like it is breaking down, but keep on mixing and it will come back together.

After I added the butter I thought I had ruined the icing, it became oddly runny and liquidy, so I left the machine running and hoped that it would somehow work out. I came back a bit later and my icing looked horrible, like it had curdled or become dry curd cottage cheese, slight panic set in but I figured that I had already ruined it so I would just let the mixer keep going and maybe it would smooth out. It did, about 10 minutes later I came back and it started to look like this:
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Normal icing.

After some googling it looks like I’m not the only one this happens to, so if you make this be prepared, it will turn into liquid then chunky curds and then glorious buttery goodness, don’t panic! Since I didn’t have enough icing to make this cake look nice I dressed it up with skor bits on the side, crushed chocolate bars and drizzled melted chocolate on top. In the end I think it looked great and it tasted pretty good too. The skor bits and topping ended up being really sweet but the icing wasn’t so it seemed to balance out.

April 17, 2011

I have been a horrible blogger...

That's right, I have been a horrible blogger. I haven't blogger in quite awhile and now that I have a chance to blog I do so with a terrible entry that is basically just a list of excuses. It's been very busy around here. Work hasn't been going well, I was put on a great project then taken off because someone else with more pull wanted me for their crappy project and I've been a little down ever since. I've been working late because of tight deadlines and the new project. I've basically have just been working, going to the gym, eatting and on the weekends entertaining family and in-laws (not this is really horrible, it just doesn't leave any time for fun little things and blogging). Of course to top it all off, my sewing machine was jammed beyond belief, however after 4 hours of working on it, I managed to get it going again. I'm still not entirely sure what was really wrong with it. The stress of life has really been getting to me. I've been eating way too much junk food and I am sad to say that my belly has gotten bigger. In conclusion, I haven't done much with my blue dress but I will be able to post a bit on food (yummy, yummy, belly inducing food).

March 31, 2011

What I’m working on...

I’ve had the fabric for this dress for months now but I’ve been procrastinating on making it. I think because I’m not crazy about the fabric and I’m a bit unsure on the pattern. Don’t get me wrong, the colour is nice and the pattern is pretty, but now I realize it just isn’t a very practical dress. It may be too dressy for my lifestyle. The fabric is a crepe backed satin and plan to use the crepe side as the good side, so it won’t be as flashy (as the satin side would have been). I am going to power through it the dress because I am not going to let myself buy any more fabric until this dress is complete. This will be a big motivator since I have recently bought a few (okay maybe more than a few…6 or 7) that I really want to make up. I actually wore my red dress out for dinner and to the bar last weekend, and received a few compliments from strangers, so I am feeling better about my sewing, this one might turn out really well. DSC00956 I have the dress mostly cut out (I haven’t cut the interfacing yet) and am planning to start sewing this weekend. Stay tuned…