Thursday, December 19, 2013
I have to credit my favourite thrift/beading supply store for this clever and incredibly simple DIY. I bought this cute blue ombre plastic bead necklace from Value Village for $1.99, which is a steal considering how many beads there are on this one necklace. On my next visit I saw this interesting little bracelet made all out of jump rings. I didn't purchase the bracelet because it wasn't entirely to my taste but I took a picture of it so that I can replicate it with my own choice of beads. The project was so much fun and easy to make that I made several in one sitting!
This is, by far, the easiest jewelry I've made; it didn't need any chains, wires, or crimps. All I used were jump rings in 2 sizes, clasps and beads. If you're a beginner, I would recommend starting with this project to get a hang of handling jump rings and tools like pliers.
Check out the tutorial on how to make this jump ring bracelet.
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Here's a quick little DIY you can make in about fifteen minutes or less. I repurposed 4 cardboard corners and decorated them with some washi tape and dollar store alphabet stickers. As usual, I've had these photo frame cardboard corners in my scrap box for a while before I discovered what I can do with them.
The four corners fit into each other quite nicely like a puzzle, but one simple enough for my five-year-old niece Zara to solve. Plus, since the puzzle forms a box, I decided to store a little surpirse in it for her!
I added the alphabet stickers so she can disassemble the puzzle and spell her name.
Check out the photo tutorial if you'd like to see how I made this quick but ingenious little DIY!
P/S: I also made a trinket box for my little niece Dina with a used plastic box. Here it is:
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
As I've warned you before, my udon obsession has just started. I had this miso udon at a cafetaria a while back and I thought it was the perfect comfort food - vegetarian, warm broth, hearty noodles and rich umami flavour. As with most of my recipes, this one takes less than fifteen minutes to cook with minimal preparation.
There are different types of miso - white miso, red miso - and it's made by fermenting soy beans. Miso is relatively salty with a rich back-of-the-pallet flavour which I can best describe as umami. Miso has also been claimed as a superfood; it's rich in protein and the fermentation process fills the miso with live, healthy bacteria. As such, miso shouldn't be overcooked; rather, most recipes I looked at required turning off the heat before finally adding miso.
I postponed making this for over a week because I forgot to buy kombu flakes, which I need in order to make dashi stock, which I need to make miso soup. But then I took a closer look at the packaging and I realized that the miso paste I bought already had dashi in it. According to one website, dashi type miso is the best way to make authentic miso soup. Problem solved! So, if you're a beginner like me, I would advice getting dashi type miso and save yourself the extra step of making dashi stock.
Miso udon is generally served with just some nori, spring onions and tofu. I wanted to make this into a proper meal so I added some oyster mushrooms and kai lan. If you've never seen oyster mushrooms, this is what they look like:
Gorgeous, right? Of course, you can include any kind of vegetables you like but remember to adjust your cooking time to make sure everything cooks evenly. I would recommend leafy greens like spinach or broccoli rabe, and enoki mushrooms and bean sprouts.
Continue reading for the full recipe.
Hang on to your pants because today's DIY is a triple threat! This tea towel tote is made from three fabrics that all repurposed/recycled: a tea towel, an old bedsheet and some leftover fabric.
I love tote bags for the obvious reason that it's the environmentally friendly alternative to plastic bags. They can also be easily folded and stuffed into my purse when I'm hurrying out the door. Plus, having all your shopping in one bag is so much more convinient than hefting half a dozen paper or plastic bags! I used to feel weird when I started refusing plastic bags during checkouts but now I feel quite confident telling the cashier, "I don't need a bag, thank you,"especially when I whip out my well-worn canvas tote bag. The one I'm using right now is at least 3 years old; it's tremendously gratifying to think about all the plastic I've avoided using with just one single bag!
I must have browsed a dozen tutorials on how to sew a tote bag. I got even more excited when I realized I have materials I can repurpose into a bag. The tea towel is a mystery in that it's one of those things that's been laying about the house and no one in my family is 100% sure where it came from. We believe my brother bought it on an impulse (albeit, a weird impulse) during one of his trips to downtown Toronto, but we have yet to confirm that. The bedsheet is an old one from my own bed. The colour has gone from pale blue to even paler lifeless blue so I replaced it with a new one (in the exact same colour, I now realize...); but still, I couldn't bring myself to simply throw away all that fabric so I decided to dice it up and use as lining material. I wanted a jumbo-sized tote bag so I extended the height of the bag with some fabric, also from my scrap box. The extension fabric is actually from an old sarong and the tartan-like motif happened to match my tea towel quite perfectly.
Note: I took the extra step of sewing box corners for this bag; box corners give the bag dimension and a flat bottom, which I think is necessary for a bag this size. But it is optional and you can skip it if you like (Sew4home has detailed instructions on sewing boxed corners here).
Read on after the jump for the full picture tutorial.
Thursday, December 12, 2013
Toasted fresh veggie sandwich with honey mustard and pickled ginger. How does that sound? Delish, I know. I love fresh veggie sandwiches because they're easy to make and can be quickly customized to suit your tastebuds. There's an infinite number of ways you can tweak the flavours with different breads, spreads, vegetables and relishes. My mom bought pickled ginger a while ago - the type you get with your sushi - and I've been experimenting with it as a topping. I found that it complements the mellow mozzarella and sweet honey mustard perfectly.
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Confession: this may be the start of yet another food obsession. I had udon in miso soup at an Asian supermarket's cafetaria a few weeks ago and I was absolutely smitten. The broth was simple and loaded with rich umami flavour and the fat udon noodles did a great job of carring the flavors. Plus the weather was pretty cold that day so some warm noodle soup felt just perfect!
Udon noodles are made from wheat and they come in several forms - dry, partially cooked or frozen. I opted for partially cooked udon, which can be thrown in straight into the pan without prior cooking or thawing. I whipped up an experimental batch with beef and oyster mushrooms when we had guests last week - which was quite a gamble! - but they turned out great. So tonight I decided to make some with egg tofu and gai lan (Chinese greens which resemble broccoli rabe but not at all bitter). I added the egg tofu for protein but it's optional - you can substitute it with regular tofu or skip it altogether. I must warn you, though, that egg tofu is quite delicate so handling it might take some extra effort.
As usual, this is a really easy dish to make. You can customize the veges and proteins according to your liking and no special skills are required besides chopping. With only a handful of ingredients, you'll have a hot plate of noodles in less then 20 minutes!
Read on after the jump for the full recipe.
Easy stir-fried udon with egg tofu and gai-lan
2 packets of cooked udon
1 tube of egg tofu, cut into 1/4" pieces
1/4 cup shredded cabbage
1/4 cup sliced sweet bell peppers
5-6 stems of gai-lan
1 tbs light soy sauce
1 tbs sweet soy sauce
pepper to taste
2 tbs oil and extra for frying tofu
1. Wash and drain gai-lan. Separate the leaves from the stems. Place the leaves in a stack and chop in half. Slice the stems into 1/4" lengths.
2. In a small pan, heat about 1/2" of oil over medium-high heat. Fry egg tofu slices until golden brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels.
3. In a medium skillet, add the 2 tablespoons of oil and bring to medium-high heat. Add all vegetables except gai-lan leaves. Stir-fry until slightly wilted, about 2 minutes.
4. Add noodles, gai-lan leaves, light soy sauce, sweet soy sauce and pepper. Stir well to combine for about 3 minutes. Turn off heat, adjust seasoning if necessary, add fried egg tofu and stir gently to distribute. Serve hot.
Serves 2-3 people.
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
I'm not over the craze of upcycling thrifted plastic bangles, apparently. I usually go to thrift stores to get my fresh supply of vintage beads but, nowadays, plastic bangles are the first things I see. Like my Embroidery Thread Wrapped bangles project, this one took only three materials and about fifteen minutes to make.
I already had a duo-toned ribbon on hand but you can opt to use two different coloured ribbons. The bangles came in a set of three for just $1.99. Altogether, I estimate the cost of these bangles came to about $5.00. Awesome, right? Check out the full picture tutorial if you'd like to give this a try.