Friday, June 30, 2017

Today I baked

As I've said in previous posts, we mostly eat gluten free in our house.  My husband has no choice because even the tiniest big of gluten makes him sick, but I don't restrict what the kids eat.  Gluten free baking can be a depressing thing and I love to bake.  For a long time, I stopped baking much but I missed it, especially after watching the "Great British Baking Show"!    

Lately I've started making things again, inspired by two books, one that focuses on the flavors of alternative flours and the other that tackles the thorny issue of gluten free bread.  A really good loaf of bread is the Holy Grail of the gluten free world!  



I came upon this book on Amazon and after spending a bit of time on the website that works alongside the book, I purchased it.  I've only made the basic bread recipe because I feel like I'm still getting used to making it.  The basic dough recipe makes either freeform loaves or sandwich bread in a pan and I've done both.  The bread tastes like bread.  It has a fabulous crust and it isn't at all dry or crumbly.  None of my loaves have been perfect but they're improving and all have been better than anything I've bought in stores.  


The bread dough is weird, as all gluten free bread dough is!  It is very wet and feels all wrong (I've made regular bread at home for years).  I use the whole grain version of the recipe and add some of the seed and grain mix below that I get from Trader Joe's.  


And Ta Da!!  Here is the baked loaf.  It is good, crusty bread.  It keeps really well on the counter for two or three days although I only make small loaves so it doesn't usually hang around that long!



The other book that I am absolutely loving is all about the flavors of alternative flours.  I've made several things from it and, without exception, everything has come out beautifully.   


This carrot cake is one of our favorites.


If you haven't checked out the website Gluten Free On A Shoestring yet, I recommend it.  I make several cake recipes from there and they also have all turned out beautifully.  Today I made a ginger cake.  This was a tough one, because the standard is my mom's ginger cake which I remember from when I was little.  It was soft, and gingery with a lovely sticky top.  It always reminds me of Fall and Bonfire Night and hunting for chestnuts in the woods near my Aunt's house.  

This is a pretty simple recipe and I mixed it by hand.  The mixture smelled awesome.  The whole house smelled awesome.  




When it was cool and I cut it and tried it, I was so happy to find that it tasted just like my mom's even down to the sticky top.  The cake is moist and spicy.  This recipe is a keeper.  You can find the recipe here.  Don't wait for Fall.










Thursday, June 29, 2017

More felt cacti

The last time I was up in the mountains I worked on some more felt cacti.  The hardest part of making these is picking the colors and making the flowers!  While we were there it snowed really hard (in June!!) and so it was really nice to be working on something really brightly colored while the wood stove kept us cozy.  




I was able to get them all stitched and the flowers added and then I "potted" them when I got home.  This involves very carefully hot gluing them into their little pots.  I'm really happy with how this batch turned out, my favorite one is the very pale green cactus with the pink flowers. 










Friday, June 23, 2017

Barn Owl Pincushion

One of my very first pincushions had an owl on it and I haven't made any other owl ones since but recently I decided to work on another one in a different design.  I did my drawings as usual using my bird book for reference.  This is a barred owl which seems to me to be the owl shape that everyone thinks of when you say "owl".  


I cut out all the felt pieces and stitched the branch and then put it down and left it because it just didn't feel right.  When I came back to it a few days later I realized that it was the owl that was bothering me and I went back to the bird book and found myself drawn to the barn owl.  

I see barn owls sometimes.  I live in a town but there are hills, farmland and wild open spaces all around the town.  I've even seen barn owls late at night flying across the road near a piece of open land in the middle of town.  It is pretty startling to catch one in your headlights.  My daughter works at a horse barn out in the countryside and in the Fall and Winter I see lots of owls when I drive to pick her up in the dark evenings.  It always feels like a privilege, like they've allowed themselves to be seen.  


As soon as I made the decision to switch to a barn owl, the stitching came together smoothly. 


I've made a few of these now and they sell as soon as I list them.  I need to make some more.  Sometimes it would be nice to have just a few more hours in each day!






Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Sequins

I order most of the sequins I use from an Etsy shop in Australia called Pretty Craft Things.  That makes it sound like I use sequins all the time, I don't, but I do like them on special Christmas and Thanksgiving items, like the felt pumpkins below.  Look at that gorgeous sparkle!  Some are a solid color and others like these little cup shaped flowers are iridescent. 




It has been really hot here this week so I am trying to ignore that by making these little felt pumpkins.  These can be hung on a cupboard door knob (I hang one on my china cabinet door in the Fall), draped on the neck of a bottle of wine as a hostess gift, or used as napkin rings.  I also hang several on some tall sticks that I cut from a tree in the garden once the leaves have fallen and put in a wooden vase on the mantel.  


I've also made a few as custom items with a child's name on who has a Fall birthday.  They then become special personalized Christmas ornaments.  I use hand dyed wool felt for the pumpkins because it has such a nice texture and some pieces have a pattern too.  I get all my lovely soft hand dyed wool felt from fellow Etsy shop, Quilting Acres.  I have a pile of pumpkins to photograph and list and some more to finish up.  












Sunday, June 18, 2017

Pretty crocheted doilies and vintage style pinucushions

I recently purchased this bundle of little crocheted doilies in various shades of cream and white.  They range in size from about 2.5inches to 4inches and are really pretty.  The second I saw them in another Etsy shop, my brain was playing with all kinds of ideas for using them.  Search on Pinterest for doily craft ideas and you'll see lots of cool things people are making with doilies.  



I wanted to use them for making needle books and pincushions.  Part of the fun of making a new design is auditioning felt colors.  I really liked the combination below but in the end I didn't end up using the orange flowers.  They just seemed a bit too loud for this project.  


Once I made my color choices, I cut out flowers and leaves and started stitching.  



Below are the almost finished pincushions waiting for stuffing.  I usually try and save up a bunch and then find something good on Netflix and sit and stuff them and finish stitching the openings closed.



As I was choosing the color palettes the blue and mustard one was my least favorite but when the details were added, the blue needle book and pincushion became my favorite!  I was trying to go for a soft, vintage feel and I think this color combo really worked well.  









I've still got a bunch more doilies and a few slightly larger ones too and I have some different ideas for those.  These pincushions and needle books are all available in my Etsy shop.