Wednesday, May 28, 2008

I.D. Bags

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Ovos moles

I haven't mentioned this before, but I am of Portuguese heritage. I'm very proud of the culture, it's extremely fascinating and rich. One of my favorite aspects of it, is the Portuguese cooking. Call me biased, but I think it's the best cooking in the world ;)

I thought it would be fitting to start sharing a little bit of this part of my life. Since I was young, my mother always took the time to teach me these different recipes. I'm glad she did, and still does, because this way family traditions are kept.

One of my favorite recipes she thought me is called "Ovos moles", which translated means "soft eggs". It's a delicious dessert, sort of like a pudding or custard. It is extremely easy to make and it uses very few ingredients. See I'm always thinking of saving you money! haha...

Here is the recipe. If you decide to try it out, let me know how it turned out!

Ovos Moles

- 2 eggs
- 10 egg yolks
- 0.5 kg of sugar
- little over 1/3 cup water

In a small saucepan, mix water and sugar together and let cook in low-medium heat. Stir until sugar is completely dissolved. Let cool. In a separate bowl, beat your 2 eggs and 10 egg yolks together until they start to thicken. It should be a light yellow color.
When done with yolks, simply pour them in the saucepan where you have your sugar and cook in low heat, stirring constantly. Stir for a few minutes until your mixture thickens a bit more. Make sure it's on low heat, as we do not want this to boil! Once done, let cool down and once again it should thicken.

This recipe should serve around 4-5 people. You can serve in small cups and sprinkle some brown sugar or cinnamon over it. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

dig, dig, dig. plant, plant, plant.

The weather this weekend was perfect for gardening. Finally!
I've been outside planting and harvesting since Saturday morning, and now I can barely move I'm so exhausted.

Since part of this blog is about sustainable living, I thought I should probably mention a few items everyone should have growing in their gardens.
Remember, if you don't have a large yard, like me, it's all about container gardening! So make your own containers with some plywood or simply use any old bucket you can find.

Now in order to make your garden part of your sustainable life, well you have to forget about all those cutesy decorative flowers and plants. They are useless, really. They will simply suck up water and your money.

My big thing these past few summers has been fine herbs. They are super easy to grow and maintain. Plus you have the benefit of having your seasonings grown at home, and that my friend makes your wallet super happy. These are the herbs I currently have growing in my garden: Mint, Basil, Oregano, Parsley, Chamomile, Thyme, Coriander, Dill, Rosemary and Tarragon. A lot of these I can use year long simply by drying them.

Here are some of the different ways I use each herb:

Mint--> Lemonade (already posted a recipe for one), tea, fruit salads and soups.

Basil--> Soups, salads and on chicken.

Oregano--> most tomato-based sauces, on potatoes and soups.

Parsley--> on Fish, vinaigrettes and salads.

Chamomile--> My favorite tea!

Thyme--> great in chicken (jerk chicken), on potatoes, tomato soup and sauces.

Coriander--> with chicken (especially a stir-fry)

Dill--> dips, in sour cream and mashed potatoes. Also in that salmon recipe I previously posted.

Rosemary--> great on all types of meat and fish marinades.

Tarragon--> amazing for salad dressings, and great on chicken.

All these herbs have many more uses and all of them are really low maintenance in your garden. So they're really easy for the beginning gardener.

Besides herbs though, everybody should have a few fruits and vegetables planted as well. I currently have big beef tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, red and green peppers, cucumbers, strawberries, raspberries and apples. Those take slightly more work, but will reward you with lots of food if taken care of properly.

One of my favorite sources for gardening information on the web is Patti Moreno, from Garden Girl TV.
Her website has loads of videos teaching you how to get started in container gardening and doing it organically. Her site is definitely worth a look:
A few minutes on her website and you'll get the urge to go outside and start planting, I swear!

Over the next few weeks, I'll be posting my garden's progress, so make sure to check back!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

better link

Here is a better link to the cyberseams website and videos:

One stitch at a time

I've only been knitting for about 3-4 years now. It was my maternal grandmother who taught me when she visited one summer from Portugal. She would spend most of her evenings either knitting or embroidering. I just loved sitting there watching her do this without even having to concentrate on the task. It just came to her naturally.

I think I'm getting to that point now. Sometimes when watching television, I can sit there and knit without really focusing on the work. Almost like I don't have any control over my hands, they simply do as they please ;)

As much as I love knitting, I had been neglecting this hobby lately. So the other night, I decided I would find myself a new project on the web. I was able to find this adorable vintage shawl pattern on . It was a slightly more challenging pattern since this one uses three needles, and well I've only ever worked with two. To my surprise though, it's been pretty easy to follow. The name of this pattern, if your interested, is Crescendo. It can be downloaded in pdf format from the above mentioned website.

I also thought, that some of you may not have a grandmother to teach you how to get started in knitting. There are many sources on the internet to help you learn, but most of them are hard to follow honestly. The best one, and it is easy to follow, is cyberseams on YouTube. The link to their videos is here
They teach the basics of knitting, but also offer a few more complex stitches. They are great really and definitely worth a look.

Anyways, I'll leave you with a picture of how it's looking so far:

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Reusing Newspaper

Well yesterday I should have posted something, but my stupid internet connection acted up again. So my Tuesday "sustainable craft" bit will be done today.

I thought it would be great to share a new idea of what to do with old newspapers. Sure, it's nice recycling them, but sometimes it's even funner to craft ;)

A few weeks back, I realized I needed some new baskets around the house, to hold some clutter I've got all over the place. Thing is, I'm kinda broke lately. So I remembered something I had seen on TV ages ago, it was an interview with a woman in Brazil who did all these household items out of newspapers and magazines. One of the things she did was baskets. They looked just like the regular ones and they actually were just as solid.

Inspired by the idea, I decided I would give it a try. Here is how my first attempt turned out:

Ok, I know it's not perfect, but I find that the imperfections make it more rustic looking. On top of that, it really is as solid as though it were a regular basket. You wouldn't believe it's made of newspaper!

I won't post a full tutorial now, but I'll give you the basics at least. What you will need for this is:

- a few old newspapers
- white glue
- scissors
- paint brushes
- acrylic paint
- varnish

First of all you need to cut your newspaper into these strips. They should measure approximately 3 inches wide OR as wide as four fingers.Then you're going to roll these strips diagonally like this:

when you're done glue the tips so that it doesn't "unroll" itself. Then, you can start with your basket, by starting you're base like you would do for a normal basket. You can find many basket tutorials online. I might end up writing one, but frankly this week I'm a bit swamped.
Anyways, here is how it looks when you start:

Since the strips aren't that long, you have to keep inserting them into one another and glue them together. That way you can keep working continually as you would making a regular basket. If I'm not making any sense, well then I'm really sorry! haha ;)

When I make my next few baskets, I just might film it and post a tutorial video on here. Or better yet, if I find a great tutorial made by someone else (like someone who is better at English lol) then I will post it here.

At least, for now, you'll have another idea of what to do with all these old newspapers pilling up in your home.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Mmmmmm Mmmmm Good

From now on, I'm going to try to organize this blog a little more. I decided I would assign each day to a particular subject matter. Like on Monday's (like today!) I will focus on my culinary experiments. I still haven't decided the order of the rest of the week, but I know I'll be incorporating sewing, needlework (knitting, crochet etc...), recycling and other miscellaneous crafts.

Ok but now back to the cooking!

Today, I decided I would try out something new for supper. I knew I was going to have salmon, but just didn't feel like just seasoning it with some pesto like I always do. That's when I came up with this delicious recipe (I swear it really is good!)

Fast and Easy Creamy Salmon

4 Salmon steaks
3/4 cup of Milk
1/2 container of Philadelphia Vegetable dip
1/2 Cucumber, chopped
Fresh Dill, chopped

First, put a little bit of salt on your salmon steaks, not too much, just to flavor. Heat a little bit of extra virgin olive oil on a pan and cook your salmon on it. About five minutes each side, or until fully cooked. In a small saucepan, pour milk and add your philly veggie dip. Cook until dip is all melted, then add your cucumber and dill, and let sit for a while. Once your salmon is ready simply pour your sauce over it and serve. It is delicious!

I served it with some rice, and I was really impressed at how good the veggie dip was for the salmon. Anyways hope you enjoy this recipe. OH and by the way the picture isn't of my recipe, but it's similar enough! haha....

Check back tomorrow, to see what I decided would be the "Tuesday Topic" ;)

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Ok so maybe today wasn't the best day to garden. At least I had a great time browsing the garden centers around town. For once, I was probably the only customer around I think ;)

I made some nice purchases such as : tomato plants, bell pepper plants and stevia. For now I can just keep my fingers crossed that tomorrow I can start planting. I might even start harvesting some of that lovely basil I have and make myself some Pesto (I've been craving some all week!).

Being stuck inside for a good part of the day, I decided I'd sew a bit. I've been unfortunately avoiding my sewing machine for the past couple of weeks and I think she's starting to miss me. At least now that I'm done driving my father to his radiation treatments, I get some more time to myself. So miss sewing machine will get all the deserved attention! LOL

What was my comeback project you ask? Well nothing much really. I just put in some finishing touches to a laptop carrier I had started a while back. I've been meaning to make a few of those to put up in my Etsy shop, but due to the current situation with my father ( lung cancer ), I've been mostly mopping around.

The bag turned out great, all I needed to finish was the interior. I'm pretty sure these bags will do ok on Etsy. A few weeks back, I had posted this as my avatar on the forums and also on facebook, and I've had already quite a few people interested in such bags. So now that is completely done, I'm hoping it'll find a new owner soon!

It honestly felt so great to be sewing again, that I think I might spend a good part of my day tomorrow, doing it. After the gardening, of course...

Geek is the new Hunk

I went for drinks with a few friends tonight, and as most conversations between women go, this one turned to men. I've recently found myself single, and one of my good friends insists on setting me up with this guy she works with. Only problem is, I keep telling her this guy is not my type. He is too "perfect" looking, if that even makes sense.

I just am not into this whole "metro sexual" thing that is happening with guys right now, and this particular one looks like he spends way too much time in front of the mirror. So what is my friend's response to this? "Oh D, your are so shallow for judging this guy by his looks"

Umm...excuse me? I'm too shallow because I won't go on a date with a guy who goes to the gym everyday, goes to tanning salons, and has a wardrobe that could probably fill up every closet in my house! Then fine, I'm shallow.

All my previous boyfriends have had a similar style I suppose. You could say they were all geeky looking ;) I can't help it, I love seeing a guy wearing the buddy holly style glasses. I like a guy who's well informed on current events and news, but still finds some time to play his silly video games and shout at the tv like an angry child, when the game isn't going his way. A man who can probably recite the entire Star Wars trilogy by heart. A guy who would rather go to a pub, or just have drinks at home instead of going to the hottest newest club in town. I just want a guy who doesn't give a rat's ass what the hell he looks like. As long as he's clean though! Yeah you need to take a shower!

So does that make me shallow? Maybe. I suppose I wouldn't like being dismissed by a guy just because I didn't fit his "mold" of the perfect girlfriend. Honestly though, I don't think I should force myself to go on a date with a guy I'm 100% sure I have nothing in common with. In fact, this guy is more my friend's type. So why the hell is she setting ME up with him??

Yep, I think I need to have a talk with her...

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Cleanliness is next to Godliness (yeah right...)

Alright, I've got more economical and ecological cleaning tips coming at ya! Since I've been seeing a lot of people talking about the economy is hard on them right now, I thought it would be fitting to incorporate these solutions in my blog everyday from now on.

Ok so first tip: Instead of buying some window cleaning product, use this little recipe to clean them. All you need is to mix about three tablespoons of white vinegar in around 11 liters of warm water. If there is a lot of grime and dirt on your windows, then lightly clean them with water and soap first then move on to this mixture I told, using an old cloth made out of a used cotton shirt. Voila! Clean windows!

To clean the bathtub, all you need is a brush, some baking soda and a little bit of warm water. It'll be as clean as if you used one of "those" expensive products.

Finally, for your sink, simply fill it with half white vinegar and half warm water. Let this sit overnight, and remove the next morning and dry with an old cloth. That's all really.

So remember people, Vinegar is your friend!!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Mint Mint Mint!!

So today I went in the garden, and to my surprise, I was faced with a fresh mint invasion! It is everywhere, in fact it's already making way for the neighbor's backyard.

I brought a little bit home, and let me tell you, the kitchen smells even better! I'm just faced with a little dilemma though. What do I make with this mint besides lemonade and mojitos?

I've been searching on the web for some great recipes, but so far 99% of the ones I found use mint only as garnish. That sucks. I'm might make some mint jelly for the first time though. Don't know if I like it yet, since i've never actually had mint jelly.
Here's a amazing lemonade recipe I found on the web years ago, and have been making since. It's great and at least I get to use some of my mint:

Lemonade with Fresh Mint


* 1 1/2 cups sugar
* 2 1/2 cups water
* 1 cup fresh mint leaves
* juice of 2 oranges
* juice of 6 lemons
* 4 teaspoons grated orange peel
* fresh orange or lemon slices and sprigs of mint for garnish

Lemonade directions
Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan; bring to a boil and boil 5 minutes. Remove from heat; cool slightly.

Place mint leaves in a small bowl; add sugar syrup, orange juice, lemon juice, and grated orange peel.

Cover and let steep for 1 hour. Strain into a 1-quart container; cover and keep refrigerated.

To serve, mix 1 part lemon mint mixture with 2 parts water. Serve over ice and garnish with lemon or orange slices and sprigs of mint if desired.
Makes about 1 quart syrup, or 3 quarts of lemonade.

Get ready to make lots of this lemonade during the summer, because it's delicious!!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Recycle old cooking oil

So cooking oil is something that is very hard to dispose of. You can't really throw it down the drain or it will clog your pipes and make a big mess. Can't throw it outside as it's not good for lawns and plants. So what CAN you do with it? Well how about some soap! Here is a great soap recipe I came upon while reading one of those Brazilian magazines for women that my mother owns.

Soap Recipe

- 5 liters of used cooking oil (make sure to remove impurities)
- 2 liters of water
- 200 ml of softener
- 1 kilo of lye

Put lye carefully in a large plastic container, and slowly pour the boiling water over it. Mix it slowly until all of the lye has been diluted. Add the cooking oil, and mix again. Finally, add the softener and mix once again. Once you are done, pour the mixture in soap molds and let dry.

BE CAREFUL when handling lye. Make sure to always wear gloves and keep lye and soap mix out of reach from children and pets!

I translated this recipe from Portuguese, but I'm pretty sure I've gotten everything right. Now think twice about discarding your old oil!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Look Ma, I'm gardening!

My crown gourds are finally growing!! So is my Arugula!! I can't wait to bring these babies outside. If only the weather permitted it! It's early may and we're still freezing half the time. GRRRRR

At least, I can finally walk around the garden centers in town. I've been going a bit crazy buying new herbs (haha!) I've got my basil, sweet marjoram and oregano to add to the garden. Right now, I'll just let them consume the kitchen with scent!

My main issue this summer though, will be to fill the front of the house with new plants. Damn grubs ate all the lawn! Since this seems to recur, I'm giving up on lawn, I just want perennials plants and shrubs now. It'll look prettier at least.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Eco-Friendly Fabric Softener

Ok so here are two other recipes for an easy to do eco-friendly cleaning product.
This time it's for fabric softener.

Fabric Softener Recipe #1

- 5 liters of water
- 4 tablespoons of glycerin
- 1 plain soap, grated
- 2 tablespoons of Rose milk

Boil 1 liter of water with the grated soap, until the entire soap is dissolved. Then add the other 4 liters of water (cold), glycerin and rose milk. Mix ingredients well and bottle. Use 1/4 cup per wash.

Fabric Softener Recipe #2

- 2 cups White Vinegar
- 2 cups of Baking Soda
- 4 cups of Water

Mix all ingredients together, slowly because the baking soda will fizz a bit. Bottle mixture and shake well. Use about 1/4 cup per wash.

Please, keep these products out of reach of children and pets! Now go on and do your laundry!!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Enviro-Friendly cleaning

We all know that a lot of cleaning products out there aren't exactly "green" material. Plus, most of these new environment friendly detergents aren't exactly cheap either. So I asked a good friend of mine, who makes her own cleaning products, if she would gladly share some of her recipes. She was kind enough to give me quite a few, so here is the first one:

Multi-use detergent

- Water
- Vinegar
- Liquid Ammonia
- Sodium Bicarbonate
- Boric Acid

Preparation: (make sure to use gloves when using some of these ingredients!)
In one liter of lukewarm water (around 45 C), add a tablespoon of vinegar, a tablespoon of ammonia, a tablespoon of sodium bicarbonate and a tablespoon of boric acid. Mix together and bottle. Please make sure to label your bottle, and store it someplace out of reach of children and pets!
This cleaning product can be used in all sorts of cleaning chores around the house.

I will be adding some new recipes from time to time. If you have any suggestions as well, I would love to hear them!