Sadly, this blog is a bit sleepier than I'd like these days. Pop over here if you'd like to know why.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Vegan Rice Krispie Treats

I love being a vegetarian. Not only do I feel healthy and happy... but you get to be silly excited about the simple things. Like marshmallows.

I love marshmallows. Most of the foods I miss (there are only a few!) from my pre-veg life include marshmallows. (Rocky road ice cream and the Rocky Road candy bar are the most prominent.) As you can imagine, the gelatin free marshmallow making process is a bit of an ordeal. Several manufacturers have attempted to produce a yummy veg-mallow with varying degrees of success. There was even a scandal, people! Having sampled a few different brands, my absolute favorite are Dandies. Like, whoa. So good. (So expensive). But so good.

Vegan Rice Krispie Treats

Having sent out a plea to my lovely friends and family, I received two packages of Dandies in the mail just in time for camping season. Delicious s'mores ensued. Now that it's far too hot to camp (or even be outside during daylight hours), I decided to use up the Dandies in a batch of rice krispie treats. The best part is that you can follow the recipe on the box (ok my box had a weird recipe for cereal fruit cake but I'm pretty sure that's regional, yours should be normal) without any of the adjusting often required to veganize.

I totally made a half batch a few days later to use up the remaining marshmallows. They are definitely on my list of specialties to collect while stateside this summer.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Spring Top Follow Up

Thanks to those of you who voted for my top! Nearing the end of voting I had about 12% of the votes... which put me in third for my batch of 12 finalists! Not bad for a very amateur seamstress!

Spring Ruffle Top

The finalists are up now so pop over and vote for your favorite! (If you can choose... they are all quite impressive!)

Friday, May 7, 2010

Spring Top Week Finalist!!!

Spring Ruffle Top by Pilliebee

Oh my goodness! I just found out that the blouse I entered into Spring Top Week over at Made by Rae was selected by the judges to be a finalist... out of 368 submissions! I submitted my top with only a few hours to spare and zero expectations. But yep, my simple little top is right up there with the blouses made by some very talented seamstresses. I am completely flattered.

You can vote for my top here! Go on, vote vote vote! Tell your friends and family! Post it on your blog! Rally the troops! Voting ends early Saturday morning.

So let's talk about the top.

Spring Ruffle Top

I knew I wanted to enter a top in the contest, but to be honest, my garment sewing skills are quite limited. Having only ever made two shirts before, I went back to the tutorial that started it all published by the lovely Rae herself.

As I have mentioned, fabric selection is pretty limited here (although I did find a Liberty retailer and just about forgot to breathe as a I browsed the rolls and rolls). I knew I wanted to use stripes and I was pretty intrigued with a combination of gray and red. In the basement of Cairo (fabric shop), while chatting with the attendant about life in Abu Dhabi and India, I selected this gray and white striped print. I didn't realize until I brought it out into daylight that it's not cotton. I was distracted... ok?

It's a bit silly that although my top is called Spring Ruffle Top... it doesn't actually have any ruffles! I decided to leave them off and keep the lines simple.

Spring Ruffle Top

Then I needed to add a bit of red so I whipped up the broach with wool felt. (More on that later!)

Spring Ruffle Top

I ended up with a top that I love. It's quite thrilling to know that a few people out there love it too! Don't forget to vote (for me...hehe)!

Thanks to Molly and Frances, my photographers!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Toiletries Bags and Fused Plastic

A few weeks ago a friend passed on some information about a church group collecting items for women in our local community. When you live in a place with a high rate of domestic staff (nannies, housekeepers, cleaners, etc), especially ones who are sponsored by their employers, come from impoverished countries, and may not speak the local language fluently, there is, sadly, a high rate of domestic abuse and mistreatment. I won't go into detail about it here, but you can read about a few cases in particular here, here, and here.

The group I was recruited to help supports the women who have luckily escaped abusive employers and are currently living in safe houses around the city. The current focus is to collect toiletry items and undergarments for the women.

Normally, I prefer to support independent organizations. (I'm defining "independent" as "no affiliation whatsoever to a religious group.") Otherwise, there just always seems to be a caveat involved, as I felt there was in this present option. However, choices for charities or support groups are quite limited in my present locale. After an email plea to a couple of ladies back home and reading their thoughtful responses, I decided that the need of the women outweighed my own personal discomfort.

So let's get on with it!

In addition to collecting toiletries and undies, I also made a few toiletry bags. For some reason, toiletry bags are difficult to find here so I ended up making four in total (though only three are shown).

Cosmetic Pouches

To construct the bags I put my brain to work and combined my sewing knowledge from two projects. The zipper pouches from Bend the Rules Sewing, and the beloved Market Bag tutorial from Film in the Fridge. (I also made a weird and lumpy box bag, but you should just ignore it).

My favorite part of these bags is the lining. I decided to use up a resource that I have plenty of... plastic bags! Oh good grief... it pains me to see how overused plastic bags are here. If you go to the market to buy 15 items, the attendant will bag them up in no less than 5 bags! Not an exaggeration. There is a movement by the government to reduce the use of plastic bags... but someone needs to relay the message to the supermarkets. Seriously. As much as I try to remember to bring my reusable bags, I still end up with plenty of the plastics. Thankfully, I was able to put a few to good use.

Cosmetic Pouches

So you might be wondering how I did it. In that case, you should check here and here. Both are awesome resources for fusing plastic. Basically, the process I followed was:

1. cut open the bags
2. layer 3 or 4 bags on top of each other (depending on desired thickness)
3. put plastic between two sheets of parchment paper (baking paper)
4. run a hot iron (you have to experiment with the heat) over the parchment paper, paying close attention to the edges

Eventually you'll end up with a sheet of material that is surprisingly easy to sew through. Treat the plastic just as you would a regular fabric lining and sew your project as usual. Pay special attention to any wrinkles you're adding to your outer fabric. You won't be able to iron them out very easily once the plastic is sewn in.

Pretty easy. Pretty neat. Don't forget to crack a window.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Tofu Sushi

Always have friends who can cook and cook well! An important life lesson, I believe.

Tofu Sushi

This past weekend I headed out to the desert to visit Frances and her culinary skills. For dinner she readied all the bits and pieces for sushi while I pan-fried some tofu. We rolled it all together and had delicious vegetarian sushi.

Tofu Sushi

It was so good we ate it again for lunch the next day. These pictures are from my rolls which were a bit heavy on the rice. I actually cut them in half to avoid that unpleasant "Oh my I might just choke on this little bundle of yum" feeling.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Cinnamon Raisin Bread

For all my talk about how I don't like to mix sweet and savory... I suddenly needed to have cinnamon raisin bread a few weekends ago. Weird.

I followed this recipe and even though it required a bit more from me than my standard choice, I really enjoyed the mixing, kneading, rising, and baking process. Just like the instructions said... this recipe makes a lot of dough. I ended up with two loaves in bread pans and one free form "masterpiece" baked in a foil takeway box. It worked!

Cinnamon Raisin Bread

The picture quality isn't fantastic, but you'll notice that I used golden raisins. Fancy.