Monday, May 30, 2011

The Place to go for great tips & inspiration

The internet is a treasure trove of hints, tips, tutorials and endless inspiration.

Have an idea for something in your head but not sure how to translate it into reality?

Google it and see what results you get back. You may find nothing but often you will find inspiration and if you get really lucky you will find some instructions on how other people have done things themselves.

One of my favorite websites for inspiration and great How-to's is Fave Crafts 

I subscribe to the newsletter and love all the great projects that find their way to my inbox every week. The newsletter connects the reader with Fave Crafts and also with a network of other talented crafty bloggers.

The site is full of great patterns, tutorials and inspiration for crafters of all kinds. I found a few crochet patterns for dolls to make for my daughter and her cousin (I can't crochet but my Grandmother is great and is making them for the girls).

The sewing patterns are great! I have been inspired by many of the baby and children projects as well.

There are lots of simple crafts that kids can do and many eco-friendly projects to choose from too! I have a tutorial post coming soon that was inspired by some of the ways to re-use old glass canning jars that I received in a newsletter.

Stop by, stay and browse - You'll love it!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

In memory of a dear friend

I have been working on keeping this blog more updated and useful for readers. Some of my favourite blogs have a little bit of everything and I guess that mine does as well. 

I am making a bit of a departure today from tutorials and recipes to write about something close to my heart. 

This month I am making an extra post in honour of one of my dearest friends. She passed away four years ago and I am thinking about her and her family today.
Today I am missing my friend. We met as roommates in Residence at SAIT many years ago. I didn’t know at the time that a random assignment made by the Residence directors would bring one of my very best friends into my life. 

The first time we met I was struck by her vibrancy. Brandi seemed to radiate with energy, exuberance and life. She lived every experience fully, every day and was willing to take a chance if she needed to. She could make a person feel like a million bucks with just a few words and almost never missed the opportunity to do it. She would flash her brilliant smile and it was infectious, you could not help but smile back.

I think we were both a little nervous, each meeting the stranger we would live with for the next 8 months of our lives. We had a few tests of our combined patience in the first couple weeks; faulty plumbing on day 2 resulted in a flood of our apartment & several below us, a broken refrigerator and a few other adventures that make me laugh when I think back on them. We laughed about them then and we became good friends. We kept a carton of Oreo ice cream in the freezer in case of emergency – If either of us had a bad day or needed a pick me up we knew we could pull it out, grab a couple spoons and sit down to eat ice cream and have a chat. Ice cream and good company always seemed to make things a little better. To this day I cannot eat Oreo ice cream without thinking of Brandi. 

I will be forever grateful that I got to spend those 8 months as her roommate and the years after that as her friend. She taught me how to embrace everything that life gives us and to take a chance and try something new. She challenged me to step outside my comfort zone; however I am glad that she liked my more timid self too! 

After she graduated from SAIT, I was in awe when she said she was moving to Hay River, NWT to work at the radio station. I thought she was so very brave going off to follow her dreams that way. At the time, I was working at a job I did not particularly like and was dreaming of taking a chance and trying something new myself. I was very excited for her and wished that I could be as brave. 

I visited Brandi in October that year – I shopped for weeks for things that she asked me to bring with me and I brought all the trimmings (complete with instructions on how to cook everything from my Mom) for Thanksgiving dinner. We had a great time! The dinner turned out great and I was so glad to get to spend time with my good friend. We talked for hours, checked out the town, she introduced me to her friends and we even checked out the nightlife and made a few new friends of our own. 

I loved to see her whenever our paths would cross. It was not always as often as we would have liked, but we tried to stay in touch with phone calls and letters in between.  It often seemed like no time had passed in between visits, even if it had been a few months or longer. She stood up with me at my wedding, I was grateful to have her and my friend Julie by my side that day. We made a beautiful trio that day, my girls and I.

I was in Saskatoon the weekend she passed away. I had the feeling that something was terribly wrong all weekend. I could not place exactly what it was but I could not shake the feeling. When her Mom tracked me down a few weeks later and told me I was shocked, but I knew immediately what had been wrong that weekend. That was the weekend I lost one of my best friends.
I am not the only one who misses her and thinks of her often. Her passing affected everyone she had known in her life, her family, friends and community.  

Her mother set up the Brandi Costar Memorial Endowment Award at SAIT as a legacy to her daughter. The story is here under “Labour of Love”.

Tonight I will hold my daughter a little closer, a little longer and let her know how much I love her. I will embrace every moment today and every day and take a chance sometimes just to see what happens. I will remember my friend and all the fun we had together. 

Brandi, I wish that I had the chance to say goodbye and tell you how much you and your friendship meant to me. Actually, I sincerely wish that I had not had to say goodbye at all, until we were old ladies but unfortunately that was not to be. Thank you for all the late night chats, all the fun that we had and everything that you taught me. Thank you for being my friend. I will never forget you.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie

Mmmmmm Cookies! We love cookies at our house – I can’t for sure say if we have a single favourite type of cookie but we do make these chocolate chips cookies quite often. 

My daughter and I love to make these together. They are quick and easy to make. We use our KitchenAid mixer to do all the heavy mixing for us. We just pour in the ingredients and turn it on.

We got the recipe from the September 2009 issue of Chatelaine. My daughter insists that she gets the first taste of the cookies, still warm from the oven, with a cold glass of milk.

Here they are cooling on the rack. The empty spots are from the cookies that we just could not wait to try.

Here is the recipe from Chatelaine's website for the Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie

  • 21/4 cups (550 mL) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
  • 1 cup (250 mL) unsalted butter or magerine, at room temperature
  • 11/4 cups (300 mL) lightly packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 11/2 tsp (7 mL) vanilla
  • 2 cups (500 mL) dark chocolate chips or coarsely chopped dark chocolate chunks (** We use mini chocolate chips)
** We made a double batch of cookies this day to send some home with a friend **
  1. Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Lightly spray a baking sheet with oil. In a medium bowl, use a fork to stir flour with baking soda and salt. In a large bowl, using a wooden spoon or an electric mixer, beat butter with sugar until creamy, about 1 min. Beat in egg and vanilla. Gradually stir flour mixture into butter mixture, until just combined. Mix in chocolate chips.
  2. Scoop about 1 tbsp (15 mL) of dough and place on prepared sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, placing at least 2 in. (5 cm) apart. Don't press down; they will spread as they bake.
  3. Bake in centre of oven until cookies are golden around the edges, from 8 to 10 min. Remove sheet to a heatproof surface and leave for 2 min. Then remove cookies to a rack to cool completely. Cool baking sheet or use another one and repeat with remaining dough.
  4. If making ahead, form dough into a thick disc and wrap well. Refrigerate up to 2 weeks or freeze up to a month. Cookies will keep in a covered container at room temperature up to 2 days - but we doubt they'll last that long.
Nutrients per Cookie
  • 1 g protein 
  • 5 g fat
  • 12 g carbohydrates
  • 1 g fibre
  • 8 mg calcium
  • 92 calories

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Project of the Month - May 2011 Kimono Slippers

This month I wanted to do a project that was just for me. I regularly make gifts for other people and items for my shop, but rarely take the time to make something nice for myself. I figured that it could be my turn to get a wonderful item handmade by me!

I was searching on Etsy for some inspiration and found a wonderful shop, Lena’s Patterns.  Lena has a great selection of patterns for babies, children, and adults as well as some home decor patterns.

I saw the pattern for the Kimono Shoes and wanted a pair of my very own. I also thought that they would make a lovely gift for some dear friends of mine so I bought it.

The pattern was delivered quickly and was very clear, easy to read and follow along. The pictures that accompanied the instructions were very great. 

It is still cold here in Alberta so I used anti-pill fleece as the lining instead of cotton and I did not add interfacing because the fleece made the shoes stand up enough. I also used my serger instead of my sewing machine to finish off the edges.

I think it took me about 90 minutes to cut out and put together 3 pairs of adult shoes. I think I could have completed them faster on my own but my daughter wanted to help so we went a little slower. We had fun together and made some great shoes.

My pair was pink fleece on the inside and green cotton on the outside.

Once my shoes were done, my daughter took them and wore them all over the house. They were loads to big, because her feet are much smaller than mine. She declared that she loved them and wanted a pair of her very own, that were made just for her. 

So, back to Lena’s shop I went and bought the children’s pattern for the Kimono shoes. Thank goodness she had one.

We picked out some fabrics and about 30 minutes later my daughter had her very own kimono shoes. She is so pleased with them!

Thank you for a fabulous pattern Lena and for letting me share my project with everyone!

Lena’s Patterns are available in her Etsy shop.