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from Nylon, May 2007

This is one of those projects where it might have been nice had I taken pictures of my process for you to see. Sorry, I was too busy watching Project Runway.
I made a hoodie like this for myself shortly after I bought the magazine. My lovely friend Sabrina fancied one for herself, and was willing to shell out the steep payment of, get this: one men’s XL pullover hoodie. Using the tutorial in the magazine, I was able to churn out this cute little number, custom fit to her cute little figure!
While trying to find info on the designers Mike & Chris, I found a site that actually has the magazine in it’s entirety available online. If you look hard enough, you can probably find it… but basically, it’s such a great idea: you chop the hoodie in half, just above the pocket (it won’t work with a zipper hoodie), and cut again just below the bust for an empire waist. Cut off the sleeves. Make a pleat on the shoulder, and fit the hoodie to the body that will be rocking it, and sew it back together. Hem the sleeves, and turn the excess fabric from the middle into a fancy little “neck belt” (that’s the genius part, really), add some buttons, and BAM. You can do that, right? C’mon, it’s SEW EASY.

from Gluten-Free Goddess

You’ll find the recipe here!

And with this recipe, we wrap up my Holiday 2010 Baking Marathon. I didn’t make a single savory item- not from scratch anyway. It was all about sugar and flour and fruit this year for Wootie. After making this pumpkin cake (like 6 times) from The Gluten-Free Goddess, I thought I would try out another of her recipes for Christmas dinner with my family. You might recall that my sister has trouble with gluten and soy, so again I turned to the source of what has become one of my favorites. This cake was really good, but it was almost too reminiscent of the pumpkin bundt- I think due to the buckwheat flour. Still a really tasty, moist and satisfying cake! Spicy and weighty, with little fruity chunks of heaven. I’ve never used cranberries in the kitchen, so there’s another item to cross off my list of things to try. I have some leftover, so we’ll see what else I can come up with. Any suggestions?
One of my favorite things about this cake is how pretty it is. The colors are so festive, and the way that sugar glistens on top is quite fetching, if I do say so myself. Topped with some Coconut Bliss, and things became REALLY FETCHING. It was a really nice way to wind down our busy Christmas day.

from Apron Strings

You’ll find the recipe here!

I’ve had this recipe printed out and lurking next to my grocery list for the longest time. But then the holidays got in the way, and then I wasn’t in the mood for cauliflower… but finally, the time came. It was a super cold day, and I felt a bit like I was coming down with a cold. Thankfully I didn’t- perhaps because of this soup? I busted out my big soup pot, as this was a recipe to be doubled. Again, so glad that I did! What a hearty bowl of soup to cozy up to. Mike had seconds, but one bowl was super filling for me. Perhaps it was the rice? I used a brown and wild rice mix, which was super yummy- adding some texture to this smooth soup. The funny thing about this soup is that it isn’t overly sweet potato flavored, nor is it cauliflowery. I’d say it’s mostly a savory curry veggie flavor, very mellow. I might even guess that there were garbanzo beans in it, if we were playing such a game. It’s pretty thick- I ended up needing extra broth to cover the veggies before I could simmer them, but that was easy enough. And Daiya cheese? Heaven. I didn’t have enough of the mozzarella style, so I did a mix of both mozzarella and cheddar style. Ungh. So glad there’s still some in the fridge; I know what we’re having for dinner tonight. Thanks for the great recipe, Lana!

Happiest of Holidays to you, dear reader! Here are a few things that I’ve been working on this past month. The secret ingredient is LOVE! With a few shots of caffeine….

Here is a Cuddle Kitty Toy that I made for the lovely little girl that I watch regularly. I’ve missed her over Winter Break- her mom is a teacher. I’m sure they’re having fun together… Still, I can’t wait to see her next week.

You might know how fond I am of making multiples when crafting- and you might recall how much I enjoyed making this Collapsible Shopping Tote. Well, I had made a set of 4 since the original post, and given them away as gifts, and got such great feedback (and loved using the original that I made myself), that I just had to share the greatness of this tote with the rest of my loved ones. Here are nine of The Twelve Totes of Christmas. I hope that they are all well used!  This pattern alone has made One Yard Wonders one of my favorite sewing books so far!

And last, but definitely not least, a gift for my sister. From (drum roll please…) Prudent Baby.

I just knew I had to make these for her when I first saw this tutorial. Jacinda sold me on those fabric covered buttons like nobody else could. And let me tell you, they were even more fun than I was expecting. So satisfying! I can’t really describe. I got so into assembling them that after I finished 10 of them (yeah I only needed enough for 8 napkin rings, but they came in packs of 5 and I COULD NOT STOP), my thumb was really sore from shoving them together. It hurt so good! I’d do it again in a heartbeat. Aren’t they fabulous? These are actually the completed napkin ring closures. A fabric button sewn to a regular button. I used embroidery thread and an upholstery needle- it got complicated with plain old sewing thread.

Here is the other side of the napkin ring, with the unexpected side of the button closure. How slick would it look with the fabric covered button here too? I wanted to show you variety though, so… Here.

Another reason that I was so interested in this one was the button holes. I haven’t done any on my new machine, which I got last March, and I figured it was time. One of my more recent goals is to challenge myself with sewing projects, so here we go, right? Due to the thickness of the project, the button holes did not come easily. But my mom came to the rescue! She suggested that I put a piece of paper under the project as reinforcement before I try to sew the button hole. Prior to doing so, the feed dog (those grippy teeth that hang out just below the presser foot that help to move your sewing project along while the machine stitches) wasn’t moving the project at all, and my blood was boiling! It was almost Christmas and I was supposed to be wrapping this gift, instead of being 16 impossible button holes away from finishing. NO! So, yeah. Plain old printer paper works. Just a little piece. Give it a try.

Now, to start scheming for next year’s gifts…

from Basil & Wine

Here is the recipe!

I have no idea how I stumbled upon this, but I’m so glad that I did! She’s got a lot of really great recipes, and I was really intrigued by this one. And just recently, I saw that our local vegan cupcakery has a similar treat in their case! With chocolate frosting! So really, it’s a fabulous idea. I made a few without chocolate chips for my daughter, and froze them. She loved them! The rest of them tasted mostly of chocolate, with a hint of avocado and banana, but really, they great thing about them is the texture. Dense and chewy and heavy (they taste like they’re a little underdone even!). Totally my style, and apparently my daughter’s as well. Sadly, the recipe didn’t quite make a dozen (it claims to make 10-12). Ten smaller muffins is what I got out of it, but so worth it! And really, for a treat they’re pretty healthy, and beyond easy to make. These will definitely be a staple in our house for snacks for baby, without the chocolate chips. But maybe with chocolate sauce as an option for us older folks.

from a tutorial on Prudent Baby

Here are the instructions!

Have I mentioned how much I love Prudent Baby? Oh, yes, I have. Almost every day a new project from them appears in my email box, and I swear at least half of them I plan on making. I don’t know when I’ll have the time… but I can dream, right?
These pants though, were a necessity. My baby girl wears cloth diapers, and so often regular pants in her size range don’t fit because of that diaper bulk. There are a few store bought pairs that we have that fit nicely, but they keep getting shorter! These pants are the perfect solution, and they’re so easy. SOOOO EASY! If you’ve never made clothes before, this is a great place to start; you can really get an idea of how pants are constructed with this simple tutorial. Also, it’s easy to see how adjustments in length of the pant leg or in the rise will change the fit- and since just half a yard of fabric is enough to make these for your wee person (Cleo is 17 months old), it’s not like you’re out $20 if you mess up (unless you’re using ridiculously spendy fabric). I plan to make some in heavier fabrics- jeans are the biggest challenge with our diapering system (which we love, BTW… If you have questions about cloth diapering, I love discussing!), so I’ll try some denim once I feel I have the fit just right for it. I do love how wide these pants are, but they do have a very lazy day pajama feel to them. Also, I need to add length in the next pair I make! Yikes! Stop growing, baby. As it is, your inseam is almost as long as mommy’s.

A week before Halloween, I decided to make this costume. In the past, I would have these HUGE costume birthday parties the weekend before Halloween, and in the last few years, I’ve somehow lost the urge to spend an entire month preparing for my birthday drinking weekend. I was actually really let down by myself; that I wasn’t eager to find or make the perfect costume for my little one- something that I’d always looked forward to doing as a mom. But that urge kicked in as I was dredging through the limited selection of reduced price costumes online a mere seven days before my favorite holiday. I saw a costume like the owl one pictured above in a virtual shop that my bestie showed me back in August, but it was too springtime flowery and too spendy. It haunted me as Halloween got closer. Finally, when it seemed that I already had too much on my plate between trying to finish up a commissioned portrait, taking a watercolor class, and the rest of daily life, the urge really struck.
Six days before the holiday, we headed out to the fabric store to purchase our fabrics. I used scrap felt for the eyes and beak, a scrap of fuzzy fleece for the chest and face, and the rest is purchased flannel, perhaps about a yard in total. I did a few sketches, and used an existing hood from one of her sweatshirts and a tighter hat as a guide for the owl’s head, and then constructed the rest of it on my own. I must say, I work best under pressure. Because in those six days, I was able to finish a 3×4 foot portrait of my nephew dog, prepare this cake (for the 4th time, with raisins, BOMB!) for mine and my mom’s birthday, spend a day with mom, learn some new watercolor techniques, carve some pumpkins (see below) and bust this costume out.
I’ve taken some pattern drafting classes in the past, and I must say, if you like to sew, and want to learn to sew your own clothes that fit perfectly, I highly recommend seeking some out. It definitely helps if you are one of those people who enjoys visualizing and translating a three dimensional idea into a two dimensional pattern and back into a three dimensional product, but it’s something that you can definitely get better at. I found my class at our community college, and learned SO much in just two trimesters.
I don’t have a pattern for this costume 1) because I didn’t have time to make one and document as I worked, and 2) because it’s so similar to the one I was inspired by. Next year though, I’m thinking ahead. I’m going to start early. It’s going to be fabulous. Hold me to this. Please.
Another festive thing that took place were these bars:

Salted Caramel Popcorn Pretzel Bars adapted from Shutterbean

Nonstick cooking spray
12 cups plain popped popcorn (from 1/2 cup kernels or 2 microwave packages)
4 cups coarsely chopped small salted pretzels
1 cup toasted almonds, chopped
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
2/3 cup Unsweetened MimicCreme
2 cups (1 package) Dandies vegan marshmallows

Coat a 9 x 13″ baking dish with cooking spray.  In a large (your biggest!) bowl, toss together popcorn, almonds and pretzels.  In a medium saucepan, bring sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 cup water to a boil over medium high.  Boil, undisturbed, until mixture is amber in color–8-12 minutes.  Remove pan from heat and slowly pour in cream (mixture will sputter).  Immediately add marshmallows; stir until melted.

Pour caramel mixture over popcorn and pretzels and quickly stir with a rubber spatula to coat.  Transfer mixture to dish and use a dampened hands to press the mixture into the pan.  Sprinkle with a heavy dose of kosher salt.  Let cool completely before cutting into bars.

They were SO GOOD. I veganized them, using this awesome product called MimicCreme that I found recently at my market, in place of the heavy cream, and Dandies vegan marshmallows in place of the regular marshmallows. Those marshmallows have the best flavor, I had to resist eating half the package. It paid off, and these made such great treats to share with friends and family. As Shutterbean shared with me, the recipe claims to make 12 servings, but those would be HUGE. I ended up with 24. And I’m the queen of out of proportion portions! I’d recommend chopping up the marshmallows so that they melt more easily- though they aren’t jet-puffed, they’re not minis either! They’re much denser with a better flavor than the regular nastioso marshmallow. A special thanks to Bean for coaching me through this- from not disturbing the boiling sugar mixture to reassuring me that this concoction really WILL fit into that 9×13″ pan!
And, here are my pumpkins. I like to wait until just a few days before Halloween so that they don’t get all yucky and moldy, needing a shovel to be disposed of. Also, I was smart this year and wore vinyl (Latex would work too, if you aren’t allergic like me) gloves to guard against that awful dry skin that I always get from carving multiple pumpkins. I can’t believe it took me so many years to figure this out. I always do a kitty as my warm-up pumpkin. It’s tradition:

I hope that you had a happy Halloween!

from Veggie-Wedgie by Nina Savidi

Here is the recipe!

So, this isn’t a new recipe, I made these tasty little bars shortly after she posted the recipe. They were so good though! I had to make them again when I found myself surrounded by lemons recently. We had some family visiting from out of town, so I was able to share. What I enjoy most about these is that they aren’t sickly sweet or heavy. I used to love the non-vegan lemon bar, but obviously it’s been a while since I’ve had one. Unlike the traditional lemon bar, this one isn’t sticky and heavy; the crust is a little drier and almost… savory. The recipe says coconut oil or butter, and I’ve only used the oil; I’ve never put anything like peanut butter into a pie crust, so I figured the oil was what she meant.  The coconut in the lemon filling brings this dessert to a whole new level, tempering the sour of the lemon (it has a nice pucker power!) with a slight sweetness.

from Gluten-Free Goddess by Karina Allrich

(Here is the fabulous recipe…)

Good thing I was making this for a crowd, because I could have eaten the entire thing by myself. I love pumpkin, and I love spice. And there’s something to using quinoa flour in a recipe- it adds a sort of nuttiness that is so faint and light, yet still substantial. Plus, it adds protein and fiber! This cake is practically good for you! Ms. Allrich is so right when she claims that this cake is moist enough that it doesn’t need a topping. But I thought it looked a little naked, so I modified this recipe, using orange juice instead of lemon, and maple syrup in place of a couple of those tablespoons of nondairy milk, and maple flavoring in place of the vanilla. It was like the topping for a maple bar! Sickeningly sweet and delicious. I drizzled it on top of each slice, just before serving. All i can say is UNGH.
Now, about some alterations due to my lack of altitude. I live basically at sea level, so I panicked a little bit when I saw that The Goddess bakes at 7,000 feet! Looking back, it’s a good thing that I didn’t read this before I was actually in the kitchen with the ingredients out to make the cake, because this intimidated me so greatly that I would have backed out, even after having purchased sorghum flour just for the occasion. I did a quick search and found this guide, which totally saved the day! I ended up mixing the flours together, as instructed for the cake, and then I took out a few tablespoons of the three combined, since I didn’t want to upset the balance of flours, figuring that Ms. Allrich had chosen that ratio for a reason. Adjusting for the sugars, baking powder and soda was easy, and since the recipe called for an eyeballing of liquid anyway, it was pretty easy.
This truly amazing cake needs to be made for one of the 63 gazillion people that I know with an October birthday. Now, who’s deserving?

from The Gluten-Free Vegan by Susan O’Brien

4 c washed and chopped baby spinach
1 c Maple Candied Nuts (another recipe from the cookbook, but I used some from Shutterbean– recipe to follow)
1/4 c finely chopped red onion
1/2 c seeded and chopped red bell pepper
2 large pears, cored and chopped (about 2 cups)
Vinaigrette of your choice (I used Balsamic)

Place all of the salad ingredients in a large bowl and toss with your preferred dressing. Chill and serve. Serves 4.

The Gluten-Free cookbook author wrote that she loves to make this salad so that she can eat the walnuts. As soon as I read that, my mouth watered as the memory of some spicy walnuts that arrived in a fabulous Christmas package from my BFF last winter came to me. I don’t think my husband even knew that they were in our house. Surely he didn’t know how many I had- I might have given him a sample and acted like I was going halvesies with him, but really I’d already eaten 90% of the bag. (Sorry Mike, I hope that the fact that I made this batch and will certainly make more will make up for that. Sheepish grin…) They’re really, really easy to make, and when I brought them over to my mom’s house the day before we were to eat the salad, they asked me to hide the container so that there would still be some left for the salad! I know what I’ll be stuffing stockings with this year… Just look at these little gems! Spicy and sweet perfection.

Spicy Maple Glazed Walnuts from Shutterbean

(Recipe from Rachael Ray Magazine)

1/4 c sugar
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp maple syrup
2 c (about 7 ounces) walnuts

In a small bowl, mix together the sugar, salt, black pepper, cayenne, ginger and cinnamon; set aside. Pour the maple syrup into a large bowl and set aside.

In a large nonstick skillet, toast the walnuts over medium-high heat, stirring or shaking the pan constantly, until they are hot, about 5 minutes. Immediately add the nuts to the maple syrup and toss to coat. Stir in the spice mixture until the nuts are evenly coated. Spread the walnuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Let cool completely before serving, about 20 minutes. Makes 2 cups.