Thursday, August 30, 2012

Another Pinterest Project I Actually Did!

A Pinterest project that I saw, fell in love with and knew I wanted to do right away! Especially because I just took hundreds of fantastic photos on my trip this year, that I thought this would be a great way to show them off a little.  The project I saw originally on Pinterest came from Rust and Sunshine's page but you can find the how-to of this project at: A Beautiful Mess.

DIY Photo-to-Canvas Transfer

What you will need:

- a few 8 x 10 canvases (as many or little as you would like for your collage)
- laser printed photos on regular 8.5 x 11 printer paper (photo quality pictures won't do here)
- a paint brush
- a spray bottle filled with water
- Liquitex Matte Gel medium (is what I used but any gel medium would work)

The Steps:

1.  I used 8 x 10 canvas. 

2. Cover the canvas with a good thick layer of gel medium.

3. Lay photo face up on the table and carefully place your wet canvas on top.

4. Smooth out the paper over the canvas, careful to remove air bubbles or ripples.

5. Allow the canvas to dry at least 8-9 hours or over night is best.

6. Once dried completely, you might be able to actually peel the paper off the canvas.  Otherwise you will need the water bottle.

7. Spray the canvas a few times and start rubbing the paper off with your fingers.

8. Keep rubbing until most all of the paper if off, some might be difficult to remove without removing the image but having some rough spots are what give the overall image character.

9. Repeat steps for all the canvases you  are creating.

The Finished Product! A beautiful collage of your favourite portraits.  I think this idea would also be beautiful with family portraits ... next project!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Roasted Summer Vegetables

The second greatest vegetable to have been produced by my garden - a beet! Yes, just one beet and it  sure was small but mighty ... mighty delicious that is!

I also produced this squash - the mini yellow Summer squash on  the left - the white squash came generously from Hearts Content Farm.

My sweet little beet was smaller then the palm of my hand but I was delighted to see that, when I chopped it up, it was a candy cane beet!

So, I took all of those delicious veggies and roasted them for a sweet Summer warm salad.

Roasted Summer Vegetables
Makes about 2-3 servings

1-2 beet roots, chopped
1-2 small squash, any variety will do, chopped
1 large green pepper, chopped
1 large yellow zucchini, chopped
1-2 cups of cooked brown basmati rice

For the Dressing, I mixed:
2-3 tablespoons of organic honey (or maple syrup if you want it to be strictly vegan)
2 tablespoons of tamari
1-2 teaspoons of white and black sesame seeds
2 tablespoons of water
2-3 tablespoons of sesame oil
Sea salt to taste

It was a lot of improvising and eyeballing in this recipe, so feel free to experiment a little and change things up!

1. Preheat oven to 425F.

2. In a small bowl, mix all of the dressing ingredients together well.

2. Place all the vegetable in a large bowl and drizzle the dressing over the chopped vegetables, toss to coat well.

3. Layer a cookie sheet with parchment paper and pour the vegetables out on the sheet, spreading them out well so that there is one layer.

4. Cook for about 35-40 minutes, checking on the them occasionally until ready.  If not tender when pierced with a fork, lower heat to 350F and cook for an additional 5-10 minutes.

5. Remove from heat.

6. Prepare your plate with a layer of cooked rice and top it off with a few scoopfuls of the roasted vegetables.  Allow to cool a few minutes before enjoying.  Best served warm.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Makin' Pie: Vegan Strawberry Rhubarb

Strawberry Rhubarb pie fresh out of the oven!

Earlier this Summer, I made a Strawberry Rhubarb pie, which was possibly one of the best pies I have ever had. I've made very few pies in my lifetime, however, this one was still hands down the best one I ever did make. I think it had to do with the fact that I used fresh organic strawberries and rhubarb from the Farmer's market.

The pie, just about ready to go in the oven ... before ...

And after ... all nearly devoured!

Strawberry Rhubarb pie
Original recipe from Vegan Pie in the Sky

3 cups sliced organic rhubarb in to pieces
4 cups sliced fresh organic strawberries into pieces
2/3 cup organic cane sugar
2 tbsp tapioca flour
2 tbsp organic all-purpose flour
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/8 tsp sea salt

1.5 cup organic all-purpose flour
2 tbsp organic cane sugar
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup cold non-hydrogenated shortening
4 tbsp or more of ice water
2 tsp apple cider vinegar

To make the dough:

1. Sift together the flour, sugar, and salt.  Cut in the shortening using a fork or pastry cutter to form a crumbly dough

2. Stir together 4 tbsp of the ice water and vinegar, then drizzle a third of it over the flour.

3. Gently mix to moisten, drizzle in another third of the liquid, and mix to moisten.  Repeat with the remaining mixture until the dough forms a soft ball when pressed together.  Add water, a bit at a time, if it hasn't come together yet

4. Wrap it sandwiched between waxed paper and refrigerate for an hour.

5. When dough is ready to roll out, use a large piece of parchment or wax paper and sprinkle it lightly with flour.  Flatten the dough into a disk and place it in the center of the paper.

6. Using a lightly floured rolling pin in long, even strokes, roll out the dough into a circle about 12 inches in diameter.  Rotate the dough once in a while to get a pretty even circle.

7. To transfer the dough to a pie place, slide your hand underneath the center of the paper and quickly flip it onto the place.  Peel off the paper and gently press the dough into the plate all around.  Trim the edges if necessary.

You will have remainder dough.  I used mine to create the lines on the top of the pie filling.

To make the pie filling:

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

2. Combine all the filling ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.

3. Add the filling to the prepared pie shell and top with the remaining strips of dough, or create any pattern or design on top you like.

4.  Cover loosely with aluminum foil and poke many holes in the foil to let steam escape.

5. Bake for about 20 minutes.  Lower heat to 350 degrees and remove foil.  Bake for an additional 30 to 35 minutes, or until filling is bubbling a lot and the top dough is lightly golden.

6. Place ready made pie on a cooling rack and let cool for at least 30 minutes before serving

Another delicious pie ...

Maple-kissed Blueberry Pie also from Vegan Pie in the Sky.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Urban Garden III: From Around the World

I decided it was time to explore my friend's garden, that is gardens of my friends from around the world.  Here are just a few beautiful gardens from Europe and Asia that I wanted to share with you, to wrap up m y Urban garden tour ...

Growing grapes in Switzerland.These look delicious!

A variety flower and vegetable garden from somewhere, in Switzerland.

I love this photo because of the garden along the path that takes you to the gate, such a beautiful idea! 
Thank you to Dave for the wonderful photo submissions of his garden in Rapperswil, Switzerland.

 Gorgeous container gardens in Berlin, Germany from my lovely friend Geka.

She is growing zucchini as well!

More from Germany, in Frankfurt, lush tomatoes almost ready to pick!

I haven't seen many raspberry gardens around Toronto so I was happy to see this one from Maria, in Frankfurt, Germany.

An eggplant! From my friend Tomo's balcony in Osaka, Japan ... just goes to show you, you can grow anything almost anywhere!

Finally, but certainly not least, some awesome photos of a bonsai garden from a friend in Japan.

Bonsai garden, Japan.

I love the frog statue ... too perfect.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Zucchini Basil Soup, Delightful!

A delightfully delicious soup I made using the remaining zucchinis I had and purchased from the farmer's market.  The basil in this soup really adds some nice flavour and aroma.  The recipe comes from one of my most favourite food websites/blogs, Fat Free Vegan Kitchen. It was really simple to make, a lovely Summer soup.

What you will need

Boil then simmer the vegetables with the broth.

Zucchini and Basil Soup 

Original recipe from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen, this is what I used:

  • About 7-8 cups of chopped zucchini (2 pounds zucchini)
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 3 tbsp raw cashews
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • additional salt & pepper, to taste

  1. Cook the onion in a large saucepan for about 5 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Stir in the chopped zucchini, salt, and pepper and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the broth and simmer until zucchini is tender, about 15 minutes.
  2. Once cooled, pour everything into a blender in 2 batches, if necessary.  Add the basil, cashews, and nutritional yeast and blend until smooth.
  3. Return soup to the pot, heat over med to low heat and season again with sea salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Chop or Shred any remaining zucchini to use as garnish. Pour soup into bowls and sprinkle garnish on top. Serve warm to hot.

Thank you again Susan for a great recipe!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Urban Garden II: In My City

The Don Valley Brick works, possibly my most favourite place to visit in Toronto, is one of the best places to get your fill of nature in the city. I go there nearly every weekend to volunteer but it's also a great place to just hang out, bring your family and kids or to walk your dog through.  There is so much to enjoy and see in the area and Saturdays of course you can enjoy their Evergreen Farmer's Market.

One of my favourite things about the Brick works are the gorgeous outdoor gardens that surround the area and Chimney court.  This one above is especially pretty, full of fresh herbs and edible flowers.  Every weekend the kids get involved helping to water the garden.

I wish I had these containers for my garden!  Perhaps this photo doesn't due it justice but they are huge and chalk full of plant-life - tomatoes, variety of herbs, flowers, peppers - it's wonderful!

Another great place I enjoy visiting in the Summer is The Cutting Veg Farm.  This year Mike and I went for a day to help in the fields.  It was a good, long days work, hard work, but we loved it. It felt like the kind of work that people were meant to do; laborious but meaningful and fulfilling.

From behind the barn at The Cutting Veg Farm.

Mike helping out in the green house, tying up tomato plants.

The arrival of the new millennium provides an ideal opportunity to implement a positive vision for the future - one which draws together the peoples and
 nations of the world behind a common goal. 

Thursday, August 9, 2012

12 Cool DIY Projects I Wish I had Time to Do!

There is only so much time in a day, and sadly, these days most of our time gets used up working, maintaining a household and/or running errands ... oh yeah, and Facebook!  However, I definitely do take time out to do the things I love, dragon boat, boxing, scrap booking, cooking, writing, etc.

Sometimes I just wish I could find more time to do more stuff. Isn't that always the way?  Perhaps if I wasted less time on the Internet browsing websites like pinterest or stumbleUpon to find more creative things to do then I might actually find more time to do them.  Alas, I have an addiction, I love those websites and the ideas that flow out of pinterest are endless.

Today I wanted to share with you just a few of those ideas that I love and wish I found more time to do ...

12. Turn an old glove into a chipmunk or other small fury animal, from Bored Panda.

11. This cute plant or candle holder would be great for an outdoor deck or patio table, from Word of Decor.

10. A lovely gift idea from A Beautiful Mess, personalized his and her mugs.

From A Splendid Assemblage

9. I can't even remember how many over-sized, old t-shirts I have donated that I could have kept and made into cute gym tanks, time to raid my boyfriend's closet again!

8. It's not so much I would need for this project as it is space - I just love this idea! From Cuarto de recha.

7.  I have done step one of this project: purchase unsanded grout, which I only did because I got it for free from a friend. I am eager to try this project, I especially love the colour chalk boards (from A Beautiful Mess).

6.I would love to make this beautiful tower display for my next cupcake assignment (from Scene of Sublime).

5. One can always use more reusable bags.  I love the idea of reusing or upcycling old jeans and other scrap material here (from Snip Snap Happy)

4. A beautiful idea for a wedding from Snug as a Bug Baby.  I think it's also a great green alternative - reusing burlap material to make flowers instead of purchasing imported or rare flowers for one day.

3. I honestly may never get around to doing this project but I just think it's a beautiful idea and great way to reuse scrap craft paper (from Ellinée).

2. So, if I never get around to trying project number 9 then I would definitely want to try this instead: turning an old t-shirt into a throw pillow.  Because let's face it, you just might look better resting your head on a pillow then wearing that old souvenir t-shirt (from DIY Life).

1. My current wallet is brown, boring and about the size of a small purse.  It would be very nice to downsize, add some brilliant colour and make a pretty new wallet from recycled material (from Modest Maven).

For more craft ideas, check out these lists: DIY Projects or 31 DIY Projects

Monday, August 6, 2012

Urban Garden I: Back on Deck

Echinacea flower
My garden this was suppose to be in the backyard, in the ground, this year.  But alas, that is what happens when you leave the country for two months, your landlord takes it over forgetting the promise she made to you.  Annoying, but I'm over it.  In fact, it was perhaps a blessing in disguise.  Besides being incredibly busy this Summer, I have absolutely fallen in love with my urban container garden this year.

So, on this lovely relaxing holiday Monday I share with you a few of the items I am growing this year ...

Summer Squash.  I started this beauty from a seed back in early June, so it was a bit delayed getting started but it is growing surprisingly well in a container.

Some squash are finally coming in! I learned recently that to speed up the process I can self-pollinate the plants.  Every plant grows a male and female and of course, only the females bare fruit.  So, the trick is to pollinate the plants to create more females.   Don't ask me how, I just know this and hope I did it correctly!

My ever-bearing strawberries are spreading like wildfire!  Here is just a small glimpse of the over 20 plants I now have.  I think they will make good birthday gifts for friends.

Mint also spreads like wildfire if it isn't kept under control, so it actually makes for an ideal container plant.  I also kept mine outside last year but it all came back!

Edible Flowers: Marigolds.  These are beautiful flowers that I like to keep as an attractive item in my  garden.  They are also edible however, just cut the flowers off and add to your Summer salads or use  them in cake decorating.

Lavender, parsley, dill ... no garden is complete without an amazing array of herbs.  These herbs came in late this year, again I started them from seeds in early June but they will be worth the wait!

Garlic chives ... and a zebra.

 Lavender ... and a bear.

I am also attempting to grows beets in a container this year.  Now beets will only grow as big as the room available to them, so in this case they probably won't get very big.  Trial and error is the greatest way to learn when growing a garden.  If you never try anything you will never learn what to do/not to do next time.

When people can see a vision and simultaneously recognize what can be done step by step in a concrete way to achieve it, they will begin to feel  encouragement and enthusiasm instead of fright.

Erich Fromm, To Have or To Be?

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