Holy Moly!  Its been WAY too long since my last post!  My apologies – I’ve been in the throws of moving which for a craft lady is the PITS.  When it comes down to the wire – do you really need to pack all those odds and ends others presume to be trash that you see as reuseable resources?  I did my best to let it all go and I think I won!  I now have a lovely crafting corner on the back porch of my new home and couldn’t be happier.  But it was a challenge let me tell you…

My new apartment is finally truly a home.  I now live with my best friend Andrea and her brother Jonathan and yes, we had a white party as our housewarming.  Nighthawks collar was made by CatAtelier but I made the handsome white bow tie.  Don’t we make a lovely modern family??

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Aside from that I’ve perfected a lovely purse design which I will hopefully be sharing with you soon.  I’ve also gone into full on artisan mode (yes portlandia has my number yet again) making my own yogurt and then cream cheese from said yogurt, and then cream cheese frosting for my cinnamon rolls.  NO BIG DEAL.  Someone buy be a cow already!  I’ve also found my favorite recipes for artisan bread and pizza dough.  My pound of SAF Yeast is going pretty fast these days – if you’re interested in baking your own bread and doughs it really is the way to go.  It will last in your fridge for years, costs as much as a few packets from the grocery store and is much more reliable than readily available instant yeasts.  Seriously I cannot recommend it enough.  And of course, I’ve been wrapping crystals and also experimented with making friendship bracelets out of yarn which creates a nice bulky effect – but have yet to figure out what to do with the clasp situation – more on this later.

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Anyhow, I’ve done my best to post all links to mentioned recipes, but if I’ve missed anything you’ll be sure to find it on my pinterest!  Hopefully I’ll figure out the best way to share my new purse DIY with you soon!

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I can never justify buying a half gallon of milk.  Its usually like 30cents cheaper than a gallon and then I run out too fast – but with a gallon I have way too much!  I always feel bad when the time comes to dump all the leftover milk down the drain – so what to do?  Make paneer!  Its an indian style cottage cheese used in many Indian dishes.  So when that milk starts smelling a little funny I throw it in the freezer to save for an Indian feast.

You need:

  • Milk
  • Lime/Lemon juice or vinegar
  • Cheesecloth

1. Heat the milk to a boil

2. As soon as the milk starts to boil add lime juice or vinegar until it curdles.

3. Pour everything through the cheesecloth and hang to dry for about 30 minutes.

4. Squash it under a heavy pan for an hour to get out remaining liquid

And that’s it!  It should be reasonably solid.  Now you can cube it up and use it in your Indian treats!  I ended up using this recipe to make some Mutter Paneer.

Its been a bit of an Indian theme at my house this week!  I also made some Tomato Chutney using a recipe my friend Hope sent me from The Wednesday Chef.  Its incredibly easy and delicious.

Also my internet crush Joelle from The Apothecarium and her partner in crime have started writing some amazing DIY’s over at their new tumblr Fennic Designs.  Their recipe for Ginger Ale is literally a game changer here.  I’m on my third bottle – ITS THAT GOOD.

Now go stock up on some ginger and get to cookin!

I was at my local Binny’s perusing the whiskey section.. Jameson 750ml $18, Jim Beam 1.5l $23, or Canadian Whiskey 1.5l $12. Shiiiiiiiit. I couldn’t help myself. I bought the giant bottle of cheapy cheap Canadian Whiskey. How bad could it be? I could always make an infusion right? Right. Its really not so bad but the idea of the infusion had been struck. I looked up a few ideas and was having a hard time deciding what the heck would be good in a whiskey infusion when I stumbled upon a few recipes made to mimic Orangerie.  I’ve had a few yummy whiskey drinks with a touch of orange and I had a few oranges laying around the kitchen – this could work.

Supplies:

Airtight container for infusion – mason jar would probably work best

About 1L of whiskey

2 small oranges’ peels.

6 whole cloves

1/2cup honey

splash of vanilla (if you have vanilla beans i’d use that instead but all I had was extract)

Funnel

Cheesecloth or filters

Heat the honey in the microwave until its runny then toss in your splash of vanilla and shake.  Then add your cloves and oranges and shake.  THEN add your whiskey and SHAKE.  Then you just toss it somewhere dark and safe and let it set for a week.  Then you just filter it through the cheesecloth with the funnel into a decanter or bottle.

This stuff is SO good as a sipping drink with a bit of ice.  $12whiskey is my new favorite.

I’ve got a few projects in the works right now I can’t wait to share with you guys!  But in the meantime – the weather here in Chicago has taken a turn to spring and that means BERTIES BACK!    I took the 80degree day to go for a little ride down lake shore drive and check out the beaches on the south side. I went to rainbow beach and then south shore – this place is so gorgeous.  I can’t wait to go back when summer is in full effect and see how the giant empty buildings come to life.

Have I mentioned I love Chicago?

Sorry I’ve been MIA the past week and a half – I have not been stagnant I promise!  I’ve been doing lots of smaller projects like planting little seedlings and replanting my jade clippings which have taken very well!

 

So far I’ve planted chamomile (pictured above), lavender, catnip, basil and a TON of catgrass (which Nighthawk LOVES – did I mention I kept him?).  Its so exciting to check on them every morning and see all the new little sprouts!  I ordered a few books on macrame at the library so I can make them into a little handing garden.  There’s already a great tutorial on hanging gardens at Skinny Laminx but I am never satisfied.  Have you noticed that all the best “how to” books are from the 70s?  I found a great on on needlework at the thriftstore this weekend – covered in corduroy nonetheless.  Also a bead loom for a mere 90cents!  I promise I’ll share the bounty once I get moving on these new acquisitions.  I’ll even get Vintage Resources going again once I find access to a scanner!

I’ve also been on a major Shibori kick.  Here are a few before and afters I’ve done – also available for purchase in my etsy shop if you don’t feel like doing it yourself!

So that’s what I’ve been getting into lately!  I’ll try and get some more tutorials up soon – any requests?  Also – I’ve finally succumbed to pinterest AND instragram so follow me to get a peek at what I’m up to when I’m busy not updating here.

I hate throwing away food or on a even more regular basis- coffee grounds.  Every morning when I’m emptying yesterday’s grounds I would think “my what wonderful compost all this would make”.  Well I’ve finally gone and done it – I’ve start a vermicompost bin system in my apartment!  Its super easy and cheap to get started!

Materials

  • 2 tubs (i’ve read rubber lasts pretty much forever but i’m just using the cheapest plastic ones i could find!)
  • 4 blocks/containers/anything of equal size to prop under your bin to keep it off the ground
  • Drill with 1/4 and 1/16bits
  • Newspaper
  • Redworms

Take your two lovely bins and drill about 20 holes in the bottom of both bins using your 1/4in bit.  These are for drainage and for your worms to crawl from one bin to the other.

Next you load up your 1/16th in bit and drill a bunch of holes about 1.5in apart around the top to work as ventilation.   You will also drill similar holes in ONE of the tops.

Now – you’re pretty much done with the construction.  SUPER EASY.  Next you make the bedding.  Rip your newspaper into 1in strips and drop them in a bucket of water.  You want them to be wet but not soaking so wring them out and place them in the bottom of one of the buckets.  You make the bedding about 3-4inches high when fluffed and then toss a bit of soil to help with the worms’ digestion.

Now let your worms loose in their new habitat!  I got mine from freecycle.  You can order them from several sources online but they regenerate so quickly that your fellow vermicomposters should be able to share enough to help you get started so ask around!

Next you cut a piece of cardboard the size of the tub to lay on top of them.  Get it wet and then cover em up!  To assemble you take your lid without the holes and lay it on the floor where you’d like to keep them, stack your blocks and put the tub with the bedding on top.  Then you can place the other tub with the ventilated top on top of that – VOILA!  VERMICOMPOSTER!

Now – the second tub isn’t actually necessary at this point so I put it away for now and just have one tub with the ventilated lid on it.  Your second tub will come in handy a few months from now when your compost is ready.  You’ll know this is the case when all of your bedding has been eaten.  You will want to seperate your worms from it so you can use it.  You’ll set up your second bin with bedding as you did before and set it in the firsst bin with the lip on top.  From now on you’ll start placing your worm food into it instead and the worms will crawl up through the holes in the bottom to get to the food.  After a month or so your bottom bin will be straight compost!

Worms love vegetable & fruit waste, coffee grounds & tea bags, paper waste, starches like bread, pasta and rice (in moderation), and crushed egg shells (also in moderation – its said they will help stimulate reproduction of worms!).  Worms aren’t big fans of meat – they will help to break it down but it will be low going and your meat will STINK, best to avoid to altogether if you ask me.  Definitely avoid adding any dairy products, greasy & oily foods, or pet waste.

Here’s a list of problems you may run into that you’ll have to troubleshoot from Chicago Recycling:

Symptoms Problems Solutions
Worms are dying. Not enough food Bury food in bedding
Too wet Moisten until slightly damp
Too dry Add bedding
Extreme temperatures Put bin in a 55-80 degree spot
Bedding is eaten Harvest compost and add fresh bedding
Bin smells unpleasant Not enough air circulation Drill more holes in bin
Too much food Bury food and add less food
Non-compostables present Remove source of odor
Flies in bin Food exposed Cover food with bedding, secure lid, use a fly strip or fruit-juice trap

I’m so excited about composting in my apartment! So far the bin isn’t stinky at all and the worms seem to be happy enough hanging out with a bit of cornbread I tossed in there earlier this week.  So far I’ve been nervous to put too much food in at once since I only have a small amount of worms so I’ve been saving my scraps in an old coffee tin.  Hopefully some crushed eggshells will get em going and I’ll have enough to handle all my scraps before long!

Sometimes you’ve got to take a step back and let others handle the building – but its still exciting to be close to the process of making something from scratch.  My boyfriend Ryan and his friend Dane have started making longboards out of their basement in Glen Ellyn.  Instead of poking my nose in where it doesn’t belong and trying to help – I took it upon myself to document their progress.

The boys have some pretty incredible ideas for painting these things and I can’t wait to see how they turn out.  You’ll soon be able to see(and purchase!) the boards for yourselves at Replica Chicago.  Is it spring yet?