Monthly Archives: August 2012

Pesto

I love pesto.  I’ve had a few simple variations and I love those too.  Basil + garlic + nuts + cheese + oil is such a winner that I haven’t strayed very far from the classic, but I would probably also be very happy with other versions.

Lucky for me I was walking with my mom a few weeks ago and just when we were going back up the driveway her neighbor said she was cutting back her basil plants.  “Would you like some?”, she asked us.  Before mom had a chance to speak I was through the garden gate.

An armload of aromatic basil and a few heads of garlic later and I knew a batch of pesto was in the making. I’ve since polished off that first batch and made a second one today because I enjoyed the first so much.

Pesto is classically made with fresh basil, pine nuts, Parmesan or Romano cheese, garlic, olive oil and salt.  Some people like and use more garlic.  I didn’t have enough pine nuts so added some toasted, slivered almonds to this batch.  I’ve seen it with lots of oil and less of everything else, but I prefer a thick pesto with lots of texture and lots of all the goodies that make it so delicious. A colleague mentioned a recipe her brother had made with plenty of heavy cream.  Sounds lovely and very decadent.  Here is my recipe.

Pesto

Ingredients:

1/2 cup pine nuts – (you can substitute almonds, walnuts or other nuts for all or part of the pine nuts)

1 to 2 cloves garlic – one good sized clove is plenty for my taste buds

2 to 3 packed cups basil leaves – basil in the store and farmer’s market comes in all different size bunches and to make a batch of pesto you will probably need 2 or 3 bunches.  My first batch probably had 4 cups of leaves.

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

3/4 cup olive oil

salt to taste (the saltiness of the cheese and your own personal preference will determine how much salt you add – taste first and add less than you think to start – you can always add more later but it is difficult to fix if you put in too much in the beginning)* see note further down

Directions:

I don’t always take the time to toast the nuts but it does add a nice layer of flavor.  The last batch I made was with already toasted almonds.  Toast nuts in a dry pan on medium heat, watching carefully and stirring often to keep from scorching.  They go quickly from not quite toasted to burnt, so keep a careful watch.

Put nuts and peeled garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the chopping blade and process until the nuts and garlic are finely chopped.

Add basil and pulse until the leaves are finely chopped and mixed with the nuts and garlic.

Add cheese and pulse to combine.

With processor running, add oil in a steady stream, stopping to scrape down sides of processor bowl a few times as needed.

Taste and if desired add salt and pulse to combine.

Note about salt: I made a batch of pesto recently and put salt in with the nuts in the beginning.  Not a great idea.  The particular brand of Parmesan cheese I had was very salty and when I took a taste of the finished pesto it was extremely salty!  I didn’t have any more basil but I did have some fresh parsley in the fridge, and more nuts in the cupboard.  I added parsley to the food processor along with another quarter cup of nuts and the results were really wonderful.  It was still on the salty side but it is a sauce that I use often but with a light hand.  This “rescued” batch was really good and was still bursting with flavor.  I couldn’t detect the parsley and I didn’t have to throw out the yummy sauce I’d made.

(I wish you could smell this stuff – it is so fragrant and so delicious!)
 

The resulting Pesto Sauce should be pureed but with some texture to it.  I understand it freezes well but can’t advise you on that as I just scrape it into a jar and keep it in the fridge, stirring it into pasta, topping pasta and pizza with it and dressing salads and other vegetables with pesto alone, stirred into mayo or hummus or shaking it in a jar with lemon juice and olive oil.

One of summers prodigious growers is zucchini.  I sliced several slender squash from the Farmer’s Market thin using a mandoline slicer from Benriner, than sauteed them and topped the resulting ribbons with fresh pesto.  Delicious.

Thank you for coming by.  Thanks for the ongoing interest and support – this is my 200th blog post!

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Readers’ Gallery

Here is a preview from my new Readers’ Gallery.  I only have a few photos now but I know some of you have made things inspired by projects or recipes you’ve seen here. If you came up with your own variation, that’s wonderful too.  I’d like to share it all.

Please send me your pictures and be a part of my Readers’ Gallery.

Click on the tab at the far right at the top of the page to see the gallery or click here.
Thanks for stopping by.

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Another Winner

Congratulations (and thank you) to Juli.  I guess I warned everyone away from the Plastic Spoon Rose Pin but Julie who shared her “Epic Fail” about a dress she was sewing in the wee hours that she managed to sew half backwards and had to spend a lot of energy and time with a seam ripper correcting her mistake. Sewing and I never got along and this sounds like something I would do if I tried to tackle it.  Bravo to Juli for fixing the mistake and wearing the finished dress.

I say thank you because Juli is the only one who entered.  I’m hoping my next giveaway will get a little more interest. Coming soon: Glass Tile Pendants giveaway.

Thanks for stopping by.

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Another Giveaway!

This white rose pin is made from plastic spoons! It was created during 30 Days of Creativity and…it’s kind of funky.  I wore it to work once and though I received a few compliments on it, it’s really not something I’m going to wear again.  But for someone out there (you?) it’s just THE thing you want.  It’s fun for me to give stuff away and I just put the notebook in the mail yesterday from my last giveaway.

Look at it – there is a hole in one of the petals.  It is kind of clunky and needs to be pinned to sturdy fabric because it will tend to pull forward.  I want to be sure you know what you are getting.  Still interested?

This is how you enter the giveaway: In the comments section of this post, post about a crafting fail or challenge:   Whatever, just put it in your comment.  One entry per person, please.  My recent attempt involving balloons and melted chocolate (I know, sounds crazy, but I was trying to make cute little chocolate bowls) ended up with me splattered in chocolate.

Chocolate in my hair, on my glasses, down both arms, on my shirt and shorts.  Oh, and all over the kitchen too.  So – maybe you haven’t baptized YOUR kitchen in chocolate but we want to hear what didn’t work or at least what was a crafting challenge.

You have until Sunday, August 19 to enter.  To pick the winner, I will number the comments (omitting my responses and anyone who either doesn’t want the rose or doesn’t follow the rules) and randomly pick a number with this nifty free random number generator.  I’ll send an email to the winner and they will have three days to respond.  If they don’t respond, I’ll pick another number. Once I have my winner, I will get their shipping address via email and send them the rose pin!  Feel free to share this with your friends.

I’ll be giving away a few more of my 30DoC creations ( Button Rings, Macrame Bracelet, Glass Tile Pendants)  so keep an eye out and don’t forget to enter with your comment in the comments section.  There were only 12 entries in the Notebook Giveaway so don’t hesitate to enter if you want this Plastic Spoon Rose.   Also – winning one item does not block you from entering in a future giveaway.

Feel free to share this.

Thanks for stopping by (and good luck!)

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Beaded Braid Bracelet

I’ve gotten hooked on crafting different bracelets this summer and these Beaded Braid ones are my current favorites.  I first saw them on Pinterest and followed the link back to Honestly WTF, the home of this and many other great bracelet tutorials.

I think these are even easier than the macrame bracelets I made during 30DoC.  At least once you get going…

My local bead store only carried a few colors  of Irish waxed linen for this project, and now, sadly, I see they’re consolidating with their store in Berkeley and closing the local shop.  I finally stopped procrastinating about ordering online and followed the link on Honestly WTF to Ornamentea.  What yummy colors: Emerald, Turquoise, Cobalt, Lavender, Garnet and Pomegranate.

I understand about wanting to start crafting something right away.  Go ahead and purchase supplies locally if you can.  But think about looking online and placing a little supply order for some waxed linen and beads so you can make more, beautiful bracelets.  The supplies will arrive before you know it and you can start braiding these sweet, little bracelets.

The closure is a button so you don’t even need any special findings or tools.  Just the waxed Irish linen, the beads, a button and if you want, a little charm.

I think the clever and creative ladies at Honestly WTF must be especially dexterous.  I’m good with my hands and I’ve made a lot of things but I can’t manage to do some of these macrame and braided bracelets unless I tape them down or pin them to something.  I always feel like I just don’t have enough fingers!

By the way – I made most of the bracelets using 8/0 seed beads but in several of the photos, including the one above, I used flat spacer beads made out of nickel which you can also find here at Ornamentea.

When I first tried making this bracelet it didn’t look anything like their photos.  I kept undoing it and starting over.  So I  read through the directions carefully and made another attempt and it finally worked! I’m hoping my directions and pictures will help you do it right the first time.

Here’s how you can make your own Beaded Braid Bracelet.

Beaded Braid Bracelet

Supplies:

1.5 yards Irish Waxed Linen (4 ply, aprox. 1mm in diameter)

55 to 70 8/0 size Seed Beads

1 2-hole Button (aprox. 1/2 inch, or between 10 and 13 mm)

1 Small Charm (optional)

Scissors

Tape (optional but highly recommended) to tape your bracelet to your work surface – I found it difficult to hold it while I tried to add beads, keep the braid tight and keep the bracelet from twisting.  Washi tape is just the thing for keeping the bracelet in place while you work. Masking tape or painters tape would also work.

The 1.5 yards of cord is a little more than you’ll need but it is easier to work with and have a little to trim off  than to skimp and be just a bit short.

Directions:

Cut the Irish waxed linen cord into two pieces: one of 26 inches and one of about 18 inches.

Fold the longer piece in half, lining  up the two ends evenly.  Take the shorter piece and line one end up with the other two and curve the other end around the fold of the longer piece forming the loop which is one end of your bracelet.

In the picture below you can see the longer piece folded in half.  The shorter piece has one end lined up with the two ends of the long cord and the short end bending around the fold of the long cord.

Hold the two cords together at the bended end, forming a two-strand loop.

Tie a knot about 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch from the loop. In the picture below, I’ve tried to mark where you first tie a knot… (follow the PINK tape) than you trim the short tail off, just below the knot (follow the neon green tape).

Which leaves you with with a double loop of cord, a knot and three strands ready for braiding.

(Side note on braiding.  I assumed you would know how to braid.  If you’d like directions on braiding three strands, you can go here.  You just keep repeating the steps until you have the length of braid you want, which in this case is about1/2 inch as follows.)

Already know how to braid?  Continue here: Braid the three strands tightly together for about 1/2 inch. At this point I find it easiest to tape it to my work surface to I can keep the braid fairly straight and even.

Now you will start adding beads to each strand as you cross them over.  Start with the left side and put a bead on the cord.

The trick with this bracelet is pushing the bead all the way to the base of the braid and when you cross the cord to the center of the braid, the bead should be behind the x made with those two pieces of cord.

In the picture, above, I put my first bead on the left side.  It isn’t pushed all the way down here.  In the next picture I’ve pushed it down to the base and crossed the left cord over the center cord.

You can see the two cords make a little X with the cord that is now on the left pushing back on the bead.  The next bead is added on the right and that cord will than cross to the center.

Again, the bead is pushed tightly to the base of the braid and the cord is crossed to the center with the cord now on the far right pushing the bead back and the two cords forming the X in front of the bead.

Continue adding a bead before each time you cross the cord to the center.  Push the bead down than cross the cord to the center, keeping the bead behind the X of the cords and keeping the braid tight.  The wax on the cord helps keep the braid snug and the beads in place.

This next step is optional – I am not sure it really saved me time, and I don’t think saving time is really my goal when I’m crafting.  But you can try it if you like: once you have the rhythm of adding a bead and crossing the cord over you can add several beads to each strand, pushing them tightly down one at a time as before.

Other people have told me they enjoy doing it this way.  I found I would get lost trying to figure out which strand I was on.  So again, this is an optional step.

Either way, continue beading until you’ve reached your desired length, keeping in mind that after the beaded section you’ll still have another half inch or so of braided cord and the button. I don’t want a tight bracelet so I measure my wrist and add about 1 inch to that length to get my finished size..  You can un-tape your bracelet from your work surface and measure on your own wrist or, once you’ve got one completed that is the right size, measure against that one.

Finish the bracelet with a half inch of plain braid (without beads) like at the beginning.  Add a charm if you want.

Braid a bit more after the charm so it doesn’t get lost under the button.  Tie the three strands in a knot and slide on the button – 1 cord through 1 hole and two cords through the other hole.

Tie a knot on the other side of the button.  Pull the strands apart to tighten the knot.

Trim the ends and you’re done!

Make some more.  Stack them together or wear them with other bracelets.  Like these.

The bracelet with spacer beads is made the same but the spacer beads are narrower than the 8/0 gauge ones so it takes a few more beads to make a bracelet.

Thanks for the visit.  Let me know if you make one of these fun bracelets!

UPDATE: Check out my Readers’ Gallery to see pictures of some great bracelets made by readers’ of my blog.

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We Have a WINNER!

Congratulations to Ericka!  She is the winner of my Marbleized Paper Covered Notebook giveaway. Ericka wrote that she “recently made great apricot jam from organic u-pick apricots, and dill pickles, and a pickle garden medley.”

Thank you to everyone for your entries.  It was great to read about all your creativity.

Up next I’ll be giving away the Plastic Spoon Rose I made.  You can pin it on a lapel or a hat.  Both of these were projects made in June when I was doing 30 Days of Creativity.  You can read all my 30DoC posts here.  Watch for the next Giveaway and see how you can enter.

Thanks for stopping by.

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T is for Tiger, C is for Craft

These wonderful little letters are from Markus at Digitprop – a site loaded with great papercraft creations, including a whole alphabet that you can print, cut out and assemble.

If you decide to do that you have more patience than I.  His latest post has a great tutorial on assembling the alphabet letters.  Too late for mine which I printed on regular copy paper (too lightweight) and assembled with increasingly sticky fingers as mine got covered in glue.  But even with my patience wearing thin I found these cheerful letters a pleasure to work on. I love the colorful and whimsical designs.

Each letter is about two inches wide at the base and two inches tall.  I started with the T is for Tiger  since it looked pretty easy and who could resist this adorable little face?

I fully admit to cheating with some colored pens when I didn’t get all the seams matched up and glued perfectly.

Markus suggests putting a weight of some kind in the base to keep the letters from toppling over and it was a good idea he did. I used a coin in one, a button and beads in others.  They still look a bit off-balance.

After completing the little Tiger I made A is for Astronaut.

His boots were a challenge and I seemed to make them worse the more I fiddled with them.  These are fairly fiddly little things to put together.  As I mentioned before, heavier paper would have helped.

I decided I was ready to try the R is for Rainbow with all it’s tricky curves and angles.

Rem pointed out that I could stop with these three letters as I could spell out:

I could also spell TAR or RAT but I kept on with my original plan.  Next up was the F is for Fly.

When I finished C is for Chameleon I finally had CRAFT!

These great papercraft letters have a home at the base of my lamp on my craft desk.

Just in case a whole alphabet of three-dimensional letters crafted from paper isn’t enough, Markus also created his own take on nesting Matryoshka dolls! In fact, it was this link sent by a friend (thanks, Sam) that got me to Digitprop in the first place.

Those of you who’ve been reading for awhile may remember the Matryoshka Dolls Card I made back in February along with a long post showing various Matryoshka-themed items from Etsy.

The Matryoshka Dolls on Digitprop are also made of paper but they really nest one inside the other.

Not only was I drawn to Matryoshka Dolls after making my own version, but I love the unique take that Markus has.  I could make an astronaut to go with my letter A astronaut.   Or a Scientist.  I knew I didn’t have the patience to make all 6 but I decided to make the smallest two.

Here is the Princess with the template for the Rosie.  Rosie as in Rosie the Riveter, which just happens to be who I dressed up as for Halloween!  (And Princess, you know who you are!)

Thanks for stopping by.  Be sure to take a look at Digitprop and all the clever and creative DIY papercraft projects there.

What will you spell?

Thanks for stopping by.

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