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DIY Advent Calendar

Sunday, November 27, 2011
This is the first year that Tobias really 'gets' what Christmas is, so I thought it would be fun to make an advent calendar so we can count down the days.  I love the idea of making it myself, so that it's reusable, and I can choose the treats so that he's not just getting a generic chocolate everyday, but rather, personalized treats/toys that he especially likes.

I got some fun Christmas fabric at Fabricland, as well as glittery felt.  The dimensions are:

I sewed on some festively coloured bias tape.

With the leftover fabric, I sewed little bags for the treats.

The numbers were hand embroidered.  A little tedious, but not too bad.  I'm not much of an 'embroiderer', so it was a bit of a learning curve for me, and all the numbers are definitely not identical in size.

Time to sew them on.

 A star for the top with a loop for hanging.

Ready to fill the bags with treats (while Tobias is napping, of course!)

All done!

Now...can he wait until the 24th to open the last one?  Time will tell!

Pizza Dough

Saturday, November 19, 2011
Here's a recipe for pizza dough from scratch...super easy.  I haven't bought ready made dough since I found this recipe (and tweaked it a little).  For a thin crust, this recipe is enough to cover two rectangular cookie sheets.

3 cups unbleached white flour (or whole wheat...just be prepared to bake it longer)
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 tbsp brown sugar (or white)
2 tsp basil
2 tsp rosemary
2 tsp oregano
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup warm water

1. Combine dry ingredients in large bowl
2.  Mix in oil & water
3.  Knead until all ingredients well combined.  Let rise while you prepare the toppings & sauce.
4.  Spread and top with your choice of toppings
5.  Bake at 375 degrees for about 15 mins for thin crust, or until edges are slightly browned

Recipe: Gluten Steaks

Monday, November 14, 2011
One of our favourite meals is gluten steaks, but for a long time, I was too afraid to try and make them.  The recipes I had found seemed so complicated and the process too long.  I finally was brave enough to give it a try, and it was a lot easier to make, once I simplified the recipes.  I just love serving this protein-rich meat alternative to my family.


8 cups water
1/4 cup soy sauce OR a 2 vegetable bouillon cubes*
4 cloves chopped garlic
2 tbsp your choice of herbs (I usually use oregano and thyme)
1/2 cup of barbecue sauce 
* I try to keep my cooking low sodium, but feel free to add more depending on your personal taste

1.  Bring to boil in a large pot

2.   Mix 1 1/2 cups of vital wheat gluten and 1 1/2 cups of water in a bowl.  It will have a spongy consistency.

3.  Form dough into a log, similar to a loaf of bread.  Slice into 'steaks' about a half an inch thick.  Normally, gluten is quite difficult to slice.  I've discovered if you dip your knife in very hot water before each slice, it's so much easier.

4.  Drop steaks into boiling broth, turn heat down to simmer, cover, and stir about every 20 minutes or so (when the gluten is floating at the top).  Cook for about an hour.  The gluten will more than double in size as it absorbs the broth.

5.  In a shallow bowl, prepare 1/2 cup whole wheat (or unbleached white) flour, 1/2 cup nutritional yeast flakes, and 1 tsp salt.  Once the gluten is cooked, dip each steak in this mixture and fry.  I make a gravy out of the remaining broth.  Serve.  Eat.  Yum!

Toy Beach Ball Tutorial

Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Yesterday I worked on a quick project that I'd like to share.  It was so easy and when you don't have a lot of time, it's nice to make something fun that can be completed in about an hour.

I got the pattern from here:
(I chose the medium size).  Some changes I added was a 'shaker' for added fun.  I used the plastic container from a Kinder Surprise, and filled it with dried beans.  Also two circles for each end of the ball, 7 1/2 cm in diameter.

Pieces cut out:


Make sure you 'meet' your previous line of stitching a sew a little past it.

Don't forget to leave a hole for stuffing later!
Should look like this when you're done:

For the circles, I sewed around the edge, and then pulled the bobbin thread to make it easy to turn under. 

 Iron, and then attach to the end of each end of the ball.

Time to stuff with fluff!
In hindsight, I should've kept the hole bigger so the circles would have been easier to attach.

Hand blind stitch:


Anja approves!

When Tobias saw Anja's, he asked for one as well, so here is his.  I kept it simpler because I wanted to have it done before he woke from his nap, so no circles on the ends.

Sunday Morning Pancakes

Sunday, November 6, 2011
Sunday morning pancakes

In our household, despite having two, often unpredictable, young children, one thing is always certain: we have a pancake breakfast every Sunday morning.  It is Tobias and Anja's favourite meal, and it is a joy to get to prepare a meal together with Mr. K.  He is the egg expert, and I have managed to, after a lot of trial and error, perfect the fluffy pancake!  

1 1/2 cups unbleached flour (sometimes I choose to use whole wheat for a healthier variation, but with heavier results)
 1 cup soy milk (or regular, rice, almond, etc.)
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp flaxseed meal (optional, but very healthy)

1.  Put milk & egg in the blender
2.  Add dry ingredients and blend

It will probably seem too thick, but don't thin it out.  Just pour on your griddle and flip once you see the bubbles on top start to pop.


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