Sunday, January 30, 2011

Illuminating Before & After

This craft was made possible by my lovely friend, Katie.  We’ve known each other for almost 7 years now, and we’ve been talking about this lamp of hers for quite sometime.  Katie’s great aunt recently gave her a ton of antique furniture.  Some pieces are truly beautiful in the way that only antique pieces can be.  Some pieces, on the other hand, are in desperate need of some TLC, like this lovely lamp. 
As you can see, we forgot to take a “before” picture with the lamp in it’s original location.  And we also forgot to take a picture before we removed the top, which was really complicated.  So, you get the idea.  Here is the before.
As you have probably noticed, this lamp is a beast.  The base is huge, the shade is huge, the colors are intense and bold and not necessarily in a good way. 
We decided to paint the base.  We considered using painters tape for a two-toned effect, but after we found a very bold pattern for the shade, we decided the base should be a simple and black.  We used a regular black spray paint. 
Above, Katie displays how sad it is when you run out of a material mid-craft.  Luckily, we have men in our life who are more than happy to make Home Depot runs for us. 
While the boys were out buying another can of spray paint, we started on the shade.  We found this fabric at Hobby Lobby and it was honestly the perfect fabric for a novice lamp redo.  The linear pattern made it really simple for us to cut and measure straight lines, and make sure that our pattern was level around the shade.  Additionally, it helps that the lamp shade is completely cylindrical.  The fabric fit nice and snug and it was really a no fuss process. 
The finished lamp shade!! First, we measured the fabric to fit the shade, cut our fabric out, and used binder clips to hold the fabric in place while we used a hot glue gun to fix the material onto the shade (I am no expert here, I’m not sure if hot gluing is the most appropriate fix here, but it seems to have worked just fine!)
We finished spray painting the base, and let it dry.  The lamp found a temporary home in their basement for the Christmas holiday, because the lamp sits right where their Christmas tree went in their front room. 
Now the lamp is at home in their front room.  Later, we might tackle that blue chair (it could use a nice new print, to fit their front room’s white, black and red color scheme).  Unfortunately, I have no experience whatsoever in re-upholstering, but I’m open to learn.  If anyone knows of any great resources, please let me know! 
                                     Before            &             After
And that’s all.  I love turning something old and blah into something new and lovely. 

imageSome places where we find inspiration.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Challenge 4: Play with your Food

Our first challenge of 2011!  Pretty exciting...  And it's a challenge that I think we both were pretty excited to try.

The rules: Combine two food genres to make a new, unique recipe.

And that was the basic premise of our challenge...Other than that, no real stipulations.  So, here goes. 

Mexican Sushi
(Where the Japanese art of sushi meets Mexican flavors)

I love, love, love sushi.  It's a little expensive, though.  The last time I had sushi, I saw that they had a "Mexican Roll" , which was really a traditional type sushi with jalapenos.  But it led me to think about making sushi with other flavor profiles.  So, I decided on making sushi with a Mexican flavor profile.  I had never made sushi before...So this was quite the adventure.  My biggest concern was how to make it all stay together (seaweed seems to do that for traditional sushi...But I didn't want to use seaweed considering it contradicts the whole Mexican flavor profile...At first, I considered replacing it with something like romaine or something like that, but I decided to just skip it and hope that it would all stay together without seaweed or a seaweed substitute).

Begin by making your rice.  I used 1 c. rice and 1 1/4 c. water and my fantastic (and fairly inexpensive) rice maker.  When the rice is done cooking, I mixed it a drizzle of rice wine vinegar (this was on basically all sushi rice recipes), juice from half a lime, and about a tablespoon or two of chopped cilantro.

Then, I started on my chicken.  I seasoned it with my go-to Mexican spices (chili powder, oregano, cumin, onion powder, garlic).  Baked it at 375 F for 20 minutes, flipped them, then baked for 10 more minutes.  I considered buying the roasted chicken that Safeway sells (super convenient, good price) but I have lots of frozen chicken at home, so I decided to go that route.  When it was done, I let it cool, and thinly chopped it.

While the rice and chicken were cooking, I sliced my fillers (orange bell pepper, avocado and tomato).  I pretty much selected these ingredients based on what was on sale at the grocery store.  I imagine there are plenty of other tasty fillers (onions, jalapenos, cucumber, cheese, etc).

I also decided that the filler should have some sort of "sauce".  Honestly, this was my attempt at using some sort of glue to hold it all together.  So, in a small ziplock bag, I mixed a couple spoonfuls of low fat cream cheese with about half a can of green chilis.  Jalapenos would also work if you're looking for something a little spicier.

So, I began the assembly of my sushi roll.

After rolling everying together (I left the saran wrap on), I placed it in the fridge for about 10-15 minutes in hopes that this would help everything retain it's sushi like shape.  Then, I sliced the sushi rolls (with the saran wrap still on...I found it easier to take the saran wrap off the individual pieces).  Aaaand, the final product.

With a drizzle of Chalula...  Delicious. 
It was delicious, and it all stayed together better than I anticipated.  So I consider it a success.  

Ravioli Masala alla Mozzarella, Paneer e Spinaci 
(Or, Spinach and Mozzarella Ravioli in a Paneer Tikka Masala sauce)

I live in the land of the multicultural.

Vancouver is pretty much the best place to be if you're into fusion foods with strong ties to the U.S. and many other international profiles. Not to mention we hosted the 2010 Olympics, which showed everyone that no matter where you are from, you are welcome and you are in one of the best places in the entire world. (But lets not get political here)

At my school coffee shop, they sell samosas. You can find butter chicken pizza and Ukrainian food stalls at craft fairs. I've had durian-falvoured gelato. Japanese style hotdogs. Chinese apple pie tarts.

Being immersed in this area with these flavour profiles is always interesting and not always necessarily for the weak of stomach. But more often than not, if you are open to new things, you will find some amazing cuisine that you know you simply cannot find anywhere else. At all.

Though of Chinese descent, I decided to venture out and try two cuisines which were not all that familiar  to me. I chose Indian and Italian. Oh yes.

Now being a student of very little means and very little time, I didn't make anything from scratch, for which I apologize. But I promise you, the final product was delicious. And this is coming from someone who has a pretty weak palate for Indian cuisine. I hardly have it because I find it too overpowering and strong most of the time. But this was... delectable.
I blurred out the brand name here, but the masala came in a bag that you heat up in hot water (like poaching?) for a few minutes. Found at the supermarket in the 'Oriental Foods' aisle 
I opted for ravioli (the Italian component) and instead of a traditional sauce to accompany it, I used paneer tikka masala, a cheesy curry-type sauce. Both were ready made, store bought. But it saved a lot of time and was really, really tasty.
The masala had great consistency and you could probably throw in some cooked chicken if it tickles your fancy, but I kept mine vegetarian (the ravioli was a spinach and mozzarella breed). The dish turned out wonderfully and is strongly recommended if you want a completely new flavour profile to spice things up!

Of course, the components are so versatile and you could use any type of filled pasta and any type of curry to your tastes. It was definitely something different... and I think I'll have it tomorrow.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Christmas Present Reveal

It's been a busy week month. So busy, in fact, that since school started up again, I haven't really had any time to do things of luxury, like laundry. And I have been wearing things out of my closet that I never wear any more and realize for a second time why I don't wear these clothes anymore and there is actually a reason why they are in my closet.

But backtrack to one month ago, when I was not so busy and happily crafting up a storm for my blogging partner and great friend, Maggie!

Now that Christmas is over and she already knows what she received, I am happy to show everyone else what I had been up to. My gift was in three parts:

1) Monogrammed magnets
2) Vintage map picture frames
3) Customized recipe cards

I was heavily inspired by the store Anthropologie, which I happen to know is one of Maggie's favorites. I was lucky enough to visit a store once-- unfortunately they don't have one in my home town! But luckily the internet showed me what sort of things they sell.

I started with the magnets first, in a style that is almost identical to the button magnets I had done a few posts ago for a past challenge, instead using cardstock and alphabet stamps. You can visit the tutorial here. (K magnet shown here, I forgot to take a picture of the M's before I shipped them off)

The picture frames also made their blogosphere debut in the aforementioned post. I snagged an old atlas of my Mom's that dated back to 1972, which said great outdated things like 'U.S.S.R.' and 'West Germany'. I suggest scouring used bookstores and old Salvation Army/Value Villages for old atlases rather than paying $2.00 per page for vintage maps of equal quality.

The frame I used was a plain wooden one from Ikea that came in a pack of 3 for about $4.00. All you need is good glue, a sealer (like Mod Podge or similar), scissors and a brush for ther sealer. Vintage frames give a fun, eclectic feel and I thought that Maggie would like that.

The last part was my favorite- Customized recipe cards! This one required creativity in a way that wasn't conventionally crafty (if that makes any sense). Inspired by these recipe cards from Anthropologie, I decided to make something that was all hers.

The template
I am used to using Microsoft Paint and have become fairly proficient at in these last years. Making the switch to a Mac in August sort of disregarded any talents that I may have possessed and so I had to start from scratch. Using Keynote and Pages (the Microsoft version of PowerPoint and Word, respectively) as well as images of my own or that I found, I came up with a template for the cards which I exported into a .pdf file.

 I printed these on plain 4" by 6" index cards (unlined) and they came out amazing! I put together a set of 60 cards with a special 5 cards that featured 5 of my all-time favorite recipes, one of which I will share with you:

UBC Ponderosa Cake
This cake was first introduced to me by a friend's mom when I was 14. The best recipe can be found online, but I have tweaked it here:
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup mashed bananas (approx. 2 bananas)
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup milk chocolate chips

Cream butter and granulated sugar. Add egg, then vanilla and bananas. Combine flour, baking powder and baking soda. Add to banana mixture alternately with sour cream. Pour half of batter into greased 8" square pan. Mix cinnamon and brown sugar together. Sprinkle half on top of batter, then half of chocolate chips. Repeat layers. Bake at 350 degrees F for 40 minutes or until cake tester in middle comes out clean.

And here's to a brilliant new year!

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