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Sunday, 19 December 2021

Roadmap to Spending Christmas Alone and a Christmas Tree for One

 Hello Friends! Today’s the first day of “new” restrictions. I say “new” in quotation marks because this isn’t our first rodeo is it? Thus far, December has gone by in solitude and it is likely that Christmas will be spent alone as well. I wrote about spending Christmas alone last year.  If you are in the same boat as me, fear not. It truly isn’t that bad. In fact, it can be a time of inner reflection and contemplation. Relieved of the pressures of having to buy gifts for difficult family members, juggling the inevitable family squabbles and trying to come up with multiple menus for people with different requirements, it is possible to actually discover the peace and joy that lies at the heart of Christmas.

I stopped putting up a real tree a few years ago. It was just too physically arduous for one person. I have several tabletop ceramic trees that I adore bringing out but it really isn’t possible to stack gifts under or around them. I don’t have a modern artificial tree either due to a severe lack of storage space. Last year, I tried stringing lights around my miniature indoor palm tree but it just looked like a sad, feeble rendition of a Christmas tree. For some reason, I forgot about the vintage artificial tree that was buried in a closet. I had never actually assembled it and just assumed that it was a short miniature tree because of the size of the box. Imagine my delight when I hauled it out and put it together. Fully assembled, it is a little over 6 feet. The genius of it is that it packs down into a very small, lightweight flat box, perfect for a lone person with no storage. I have been collecting bird ornaments for years and lo and behold, I had exactly enough for my bird themed tree. There is something so sweet and charming about a vintage tree. It is miles away from its modern, over the top counterpart. Of course all trees are lovely in their own way but a vintage tree has that indefinable charm of yesteryear before rampant consumerism took hold of our collective consciousness. 

After a panic stricken 5 minutes thinking I had neither angel or star, I remembered that I DID have angel.  So up the top, she went. How can you not love that face?

Just because you are the spending the holidays alone, doesn’t mean you can’t indulge in festive cheer. Bring out those cherished decorations and string up those twinkly lights! The goal is to make your home a sanctuary and a haven. 
So tell me, do you prefer a real or an artificial tree? Angel or star?

Monday, 13 December 2021

How To Make A Snow Globe

 Hello Friends! Can you believe that Christmas is steadily marching closer and closer?  Today I have another Christmas craft to share with you. As the title of this post suggests, it is a snow globe. What could be more magical than making your own snow globe that you fill with meaningful memorabilia? It makes an unusual and thoughtful gift as well.

You will need:

A small glass jar with a tight fitting lid. Jars with an interesting shape provide visual interest.

Small figures that are waterproof to create your tableau

Cold water

Glitter or sequins

Glycerin: this is optional but it helps to keep the glitter or sequins stay suspended in the water

Hot Glue Gun


Use a hot glue gun to glue your figures to the underside of the lid. Fill the jar with cold water. Add the glitter or sequins. I used large silver glitter in mine. Add a few drops of glycerin to the water. You may wish to glue the lid to the jar as well to provide extra security.

I have found that setting aside time to engage in crafts has had a wonderful nurturing effect on me. What sort of crafts have you been doing lately?

Monday, 6 December 2021

Christmas Gift Ideas Crafting with Felts

 Hello Friends! It’s been a long while since my last post. I needed a break to take care of my mental health. It just got to a point where I needed time to do a lot of soul searching and healing. Lately, I have been discovering the calming effects of crafting. I can forget all of my worries for awhile. It feels so satisfying to create something with my hands.

I have always had a fascination with pincushions. It is such an unsung hero in the crafter’s toolbox. Swallows symbolize a safe return home and, as we are spending so much time at home these days, I wanted to add a swallow to my pincushion.

Pets are such an integral part of home and family life, aren’t they? I designed a pincushion to reflect that as well. This pincushion above which I called “Cat Love” features a cat playing with a ball of yarn (a vintage button). 
With my creative juices flowing, I have been busily crafting felt flowers that multitask as brooches and hair clips as well.

I just think there is something so sweet and wholesome about painstakingly crafting a gift to give away. It truly is a gift from the heart.

Monday, 26 July 2021

Simple and Easy Egg Bites

 Hello Friends! My obsession with my bento box continues apace.  I am sure that like me, the endless days of sheltering in place have meant that meals have become a blur and not only that, a boring, burdensome chore.  Put your hand up if delivery of meals and takeout became a way of relieving the tedium instead of an occasional treat.  Pulling out my bento box again (which I wrote about here) forced me to get creative.  I decided to make a batch of delicious egg bites, sometimes called egg muffins, to stow into the box.  They are incredibly easy to whip up and are great for breakfast or a quick snack. I used extra large silicone muffin cups but a muffin tray would work as well.

Grease the interior of the cups.  I needed 8 large eggs for 6 cups.  Crack the eggs into a large mixing bowl.

I do love cheese so I mixed in 2 large handfuls of grated cheddar cheese to the eggs.  I also layered in diced mushrooms, cherry tomatoes and peas.  A couple twists of the pepper grinder were added as well. Bake in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit or until the tops are crisp. I filled the cups halfway as the egg mixture puffed up to the edge of the cups but when I took them out of the oven they deflated.  Place them on a rack until they have cooled down.

Truly, you need almost no skill level whatsoever to make these yummy snacks and it is a good way to sneak some veggies into your diet.

Egg bites are the perfect size to tuck into a bento box or your child's lunchbox.

I added a pesto pasta to my bento box that day as well.  I am on the lookout for smaller sized silicone cups as the extra large ones are a tad too tall to fit into my bento box.  The silicone cups are a handy way of partitioning off food in a bento or lunch box if it doesn't come with compartments or dividers.  If you try this recipe, let me know!

Tuesday, 20 July 2021

Simple Bento Box Lunch

 Hello Friends!  I know, I know, it has been awhile.  Long story short, my car was vandalized.  It just threw me into a tailspin.  I had been laying low and following all the guidelines.  Yet somehow, even though I did my best to stay out of trouble, trouble found me.  It was all too much after the 18 months and counting of stress and tension.  There has been a huge spike in crime where I live and you can literally feel the tension in the air.  It took a long time for me to feel "okay."  I dove headfirst into emotional eating and my health really suffered as a result.  Today, I decided to pull out my old bento box.  Bento boxes are a great tool for portion control.  Packing a meal into a bento box forces you to think mindfully about the contents as well.

Even though I am not Japanese, I do know that presentation is everything especially when it comes to bento boxes.  After all, you feast with your eyes first.  This isn't for a child so I didn't emphasize the "kawaii" element when assembling it although I couldn't resist making a smiley face with tomato slices.  I have a double layered Takenaka bento box so I added snack items to the top box like frozen avocado and mango chunks and edamame pods.  If you prepare it in the morning, by the time lunchtime rolls around, the frozen chunks have defrosted enough to provide a delightfully chilled summer snack.  The dividers really come in handy for organizing the contents.  The main meal is steamed rice, tuna with mayonnaise, peas and tomato slices.  It was incredibly easy to prepare with zero cooking skills required.   I must say that even if you are still working from home, lunching from a thoughtfully prepared bento box will guarantee to put a smile on your face.

Sunday, 4 April 2021

Lemon Zest Scones

 Happy Easter, friends!  I hope you are having a lovely long weekend.  We have been plunged into another lockdown after a scant few weeks of freedom but easing into it with Easter long weekend makes the medicine go down a tiny bit more easily.  I have been debating what to do with the lemon slices preserved in syrup that I wrote about here and thought that the aromatic and zingy zest would be wonderful in scones.

2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
1/2 heavy cream
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 handful of lemon zest, enough to flavour the dough and for a pinch on top of each scone

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2) Line a baking tray with a silicone baking mat
3) Mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Add the butter, cutting the butter into the dry ingredients with a fork.
4) Add in the heavy cream, egg and vanilla extract.  Add in the lemon zest, reserving enough of the zest to allow for a pinch of zest on top of each scone.
5) Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface and work it into a ball, then flatten the ball into a 7" circle.  Cut the dough into 8 equal sized wedges and place them on the silicone baking sheet.
5) Place a pinch of zest on the top of each wedge.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the tops are lightly browned and the scones are cooked through.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

I love my scones with marmalade as the lemon zest marries well with the citrus flavours of marmalade.  Happy Easter baking!


Tuesday, 30 March 2021

Diving into Slow Living with Lemons in Sugar Syrup

 Hello Friends!  We are all spending more time than ever in our kitchens and homes in general.  It took a while for me to fully embrace my home and this new state of being as there was so much fear and uncertainty in the early days.  But now I have come to accept it as a blessing in disguise.  I am so much more intentional with my actions these days and have a newfound appreciation for food and where it comes from. I have been trying to pick up new skills such as preserving food which I believe to be an integral part of the slow food and slow living movement.   I have always been scared of preserving what with having to faff about with a giant pot of boiling water and countless jars to sterilize.  As well, this was a skill that I had never been taught or exposed to when I was growing up.  But one way to get around this fear is is to do small batches, just one or two jars at a time.  I had been gifted a bag of lemons so this was the perfect opportunity to try preserving lemons in sweet syrup.

Just focusing on one jar makes it less intimidating for a newbie like me. In this case, I used a 500 ml jar and sterilized it first with boiling water.

I managed to get 3 sliced lemons in there.  I made the sugar syrup by dissolving a half cup of sugar into 300 mls of boiling water.  I then poured the hot syrup over the lemons leaving 1 cm of headspace.  I think I need some sort of weight to keep the slices from floating upwards.  The syrup is supposed to completely cover the slices but without something to weigh them down, this wasn't possible.  Any expert jam makers, pickle makers or preservers of food out there, please let me know if there is such a thing as a weight or stone that doesn't react with the food, available or if you have any ideas for what I could use to weigh down the slices.

Here is my very first jar of lemons in syrup!  The brightness of the lemons had infused the syrup after just a couple of days.  It really is like sunshine in a jar.  There isn't any of the bitterness found in commercially prepared products.  The lemon slices are lovely in a cup of tea or as a garnish on a sweet dessert.  The syrup and slices stirred into some sparkling water make a deliciously refreshing drink.  I keep the jar in the refrigerator and seeing it there gives me a tremendous amount of pleasure and satisfaction.

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