Living The Sweet Life: 9/1/09 - 10/1/09

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Bra Planter

If I could combine a lot of the things that are me, I guess it would something like this! It's hard for me not to love this. Recycling, gardening, the colour pink and girlie lingerie. Wouldn't you just die laughing every time you saw this thing hanging on the fence? And oh my god, what would the neighbours think?

Craft Tip: Use a padded satin hanger and it will look really classy.

Indian Chicken Balti

This Indian chicken dish is one of our very favourites. We really love Butter Chicken as well but it's laced with cream, so this is a tasty healthy alternative. My Spencer said it's better than the Balti Chicken we get at our favourite Indian restaurant. At the restaurant I fantasize about getting my own bucket full of Balti and a big plate of white rice and not having to share it.

Chicken Balti

Try it, I know you'll love it.


2 tbsp olive oil
1 chopped onion
1/4 + 1/8 tsp mustard seeds
2 cans (14 oz) chunky tomatoes, diced tomatoes or even crushed tomatoes - I've used them all.
1 1/2 tsp coriander
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 + 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 + 1/8 tsp garam masala
1/4 + 1/8 tsp turmeric
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
4 boneless chicken breasts, cubed (about 2 lbs)
1/4 cup of water as needed


1. Heat oil over medium heat.
2. Add onion and mustard seeds, cook until the onion begins to soften.
3. Add garlic and cook stirring about 1 minute.
4. Add the chicken and begin to brown.
5. Add the cans of tomatoes and the sauce.
6. Add all of the spices.

7. Add water if needed, it should not cover the chicken. The idea is to cook the sauce down to the consistency of spaghetti sauce.

8. Cook down about 15 minutes, until the chicken is fully cooked yet tender and you have the spaghetti sauce consistency.
9. Server over rice.

The taste heat on this dish is about a "medium". A tip would be to buy your Indian spices in small amounts so that they're always fresh. I found some information on Indian Spices that you might find helpful. They convert the Indian name to the English name making them easier to identify.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Heirloom Nightgown

Well here it is my lovely my new seafoam Heirloom Nightgown and I must say turned out great! Since I've last posted we've both been to Calgary and back - that's me and the nightie! The ladies in my class loved it and they almost got the whole top part of their own nightgowns done while learning in one day. The one thing I realized this past week while sewing is that you can really get alot accomplished in just a few minutes here and there. My new plan is to always have something on the go in my sewing room. I'll keep you posted as to the next project.

A tuck here and some "puffing" there...

It's so pretty!

OK, here comes the shameless plug...
You can make this Heirloom Nightgown
Pattern and Supplies at Labours of Love

Saturday, September 19, 2009

My Rick Rack Top

See the yellow top? My Mom made that for me when I was about 8. I loved it because of the way it closed in the back with that tab and that it had big rick rack along the eges. Funny out of all the things I could remember for me it was my rick rack top. So,I'm poking around the vintage patterns in Etsy and look what I found. I could not believe my eyes - there is was exatly as I remembed it.

Friday, September 18, 2009

My Sewing Room

I love to sew.  Is that news to anyone? Not to anyone that knows me that's for sure. I'm excited and proud to say my sewing room is the cleanest it's been in ages. There's a place for everything and everything is in it's place. I'm not saying the places are organized but most of the "stuff" has been put away. Finally, I can sew!

This weekend I'm making a new Heirloom Nightgown in that pretty frothy seafoam green with white lace and trims. I'll post a picture when it's done.

I love when I can see the counter and don't
have to dig for a seam ripper.
Wow, looking at this I can hardly believe it's my room.

This is where I do my cutting.

So, I was at my Mom's the other night and she let me take
some pictures of her sewing room...

She is going to kill me for doing this....

Mine looked something like this before I cleaned it up!
And I would say my Mom actually gets to do more sewing
than I do so she should be able to have a bigger mess.
Mom I am so sorry, I couldn't resist...

Just look at all her stuff.
Trust me, she knows exactly what she has and where it is!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Starbucks Paris

I can finally go to Paris!

My Favourite Drink: Grande, Non Fat, No Foam, 180 Degree, Two Pumps of Sugar Free Vanilla, Shots on Water, Americano Misto. After 4:00 pm you can make that a Decaf. Add one Splenda. 70 Calories

June Update:  The temp is now 190 degrees and add a long pour to the shots.

I love this quote from You've Got Mail:

Joe Fox: The whole purpose of places like Starbucks is for people with no decision-making ability whatsoever to make six decisions just to buy one cup of coffee. Short, tall, light, dark, caf, decaf, low-fat, non-fat, etc. So people who don't know what the hell they're doing or who on earth they are can, for only $2.95, get not just a cup of coffee but an absolutely defining sense of self: Tall. Decaf. Cappuccino.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Free Butterick Projects

Butterick is giving free patterns for some really cute projects.  The one I liked right away was the Retro Wrap.  There is also a Retro Tie Bag that is cute, cute, cute!  Just enter your email address and print off the pattern.

The Ruffle Tower Cake

This is the most beautiful cake ever!
It's Perfection in Pink and Ruffles.

Lemon Cake With Swiss Meringue Buttercream

And there it is, the magic word "Buttercream"

 The Ruffle Tower Cake Recipe

I love you Martha
(Photo From Martha Stewart)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Pacific National Exhibition

We went to the Pacific National Exhibition in Vancouver.  I guess this was the last big event before we host the Olympics next year.  It was the first time back for me in years. Most of it was the same - the rides, the games, lots of food and exhibits.   I was really surprised it wasn't too busy on the Friday of the long weekend just before the kids headed back to school. 
Some random observations of the day. 

1. The people watching was awesome and we got to see real "Carnies"

2.  We rode the "Bay Watch" and while spinning I noticed it was
propped up with plywood - uh oh.

3.  Hand sanitizer was installed for when you got off of the rides.
I did think "swine" more than once.

4. I wondered why anyone would want to deep fry a Mars Bar?

5.  There were lots and lots and LOTS of rides that spin.
If you don't like to spin you won't like this place.

6.  We got to see the pretty midway lights at night.

7.  I got to see other people working a trade show.

8.  Those Little Donuts always taste the same.

9.  I Found a Fisher Scone truck in Canada.
I celebrated by having one.

10. We decided not to go on the ride that the vice grip flew out of.

11.  I know to run when a ride is "temporarily out of order" but
they have it spinning and water is flying out of it.

Those Little Donuts

Have you ever gone to the movies, just to eat a bag of real buttered popcorn in the dark?

Well, you know summer is almost over when you're at the Pacific National Exhibition in Vancouver in early September and the real reason you're there is not for the rides. The highlight will be when you smell "Those Little Donuts". Everyone knows exactly what they are and where they are. What is so mesmerizing about that little doughnut machine? I can tell you what, knowing that the little floaters, will be in a bag and in your mouth in about 36 seconds that's what. 

Sharing these is pretty much out of the question.

They pop out one per second, and float in the circles with one "flip over" until they shoot out and get hand tossed  in a heavenly mixture of cinnamon and sugar. Nothing wrong with that!

Oh and good news you don't need worry about the deep frying, the cooking oil is trans fat free.  The "green" in you can rest easy knowing they are sold in little paper pouches.  The calories aren't listed on the bag so forget about that part - they're quite small. 

It's all good, just get it out of your system and load up on the sugary treats knowing you won't be able to get your hands on them again until next year.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Spencer's Meatloaf Pepper Rings

This summer Spencer (my son, 14 yrs) has been going to the gym with me.  I like to watch CNN on the TV that is hooked to the treadmill to distract me from what I'm really doing there.  Once I get CNN set up on close caption, I plug in my ipod and try to run for half an hour.  Spencer  right next to me, prefers to walk and watch the Food Network.  It's distracting seeing all that cooking going on out the corner of my eye.  One morning he saw this recipe and was telling me all about it on the drive home.  It didn't sound too complicated and he seemed excited to try it so we decided to made it that night for dinner with our favourite meatloaf recipe and winged the rest by his description.  We made it as healthy as we could so there is no cheese or ketchup in the meatloaf like original recipe called for.

Organic Pesto and Vine Tomato Italian Cheese Dip

You know when you really love something someone has made at a party - an appetizer or salad, or whatever? On the big camping trip last weekend we had appetizer night. Each family made an appetizer and we met up about 4:00 and had a happy hour.  I made Japanese chicken wings and they were a big hit. But, there was a gal, (you could tell that she was a hard core camper) that made this great and I mean great pesto, cheese, dip deal all wrapped up in tin foil.  I'm sure this dip would be even better made under controlled normal circumstances in a cute baking dish baked to perfection in a real oven. I didn't want to ask for the recipe right then and there and seem desperate.  Ok, I did ask about the recipe, more like inquired about the ingredients but I couldn't remember them it because it was happy hour.

So the morning after the trip I e-mailed and said how wonderful the dip was and asked for the recipe - this time in print with the exact ingredients and amounts. (Of course I googled Philly Dip and gave up on that dumb idea!)  Oh my god, I was doing the happy dance when I saw it in my "in box". You have to try it - you will love it!  Thank you Suzanne :)

Camper's Philly Dip In Tin Foil

In real life when you serve it or take it to a party do not mention the camping or the tin foil.  The new name will be: Organic Pesto and Vine Tomato Italian Cheese Dip

1 Pkg. Cream Cheese

¼ cup of Pesto sauce (She said she used lots)

2 Roma or other flavorful tomatoes chopped (think vine)

¼ cup of Kraft 4 cheese Italian blend (She said she used lots)


1. Layer in the above order on heavy foil (like a foil bag).

2. Place on BBQ on med-low heat for 10 minutes or until the Philly cheese is very soft.

3. Open and serve with crackers. The crackers she used were Triscuits with cracked pepper.

You can thank me later!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Camping Girl

In British Columbia, camping is really popular.  I haven't camped in years and years - well since I was just little.  I do have some really fond memories of family camping trips when I was a kid.  My Mom and Dad built a tent trailer together.  Mom sewed the canvas top on her Husqvarna sewing machine.  It had bug netting on the  windows and zippers and everything.  My dad built the whole bottom part with pop out sides to sleep on and storage compartments.  Can you believe that?  I know for sure that my fear of  pit toilets came from our camping trips when I was little. 

On the way to our camping destination my dad would take charge and cook dinner for the family.  Mom would make us each a "chicken pack" of a chicken breast, potato, some carrots and celery and a few dabs of butter all  wrapped up in tin foil.  My Dad took those packs and somehow hooked them to the engine of the car and cooked them while we drove.  What would make somone even think to do that?  What are the chances it would actually work?  That is a true story and that's what I call living green.  You go Dad, use that gas, drive that car and cook that dinner all at the same time - lets rough it!

I would say I'm more of a resort, condo, flushing toilet kinda girl but it is hard not to appreciate nature when you're out there.   It took three days to plan meals and figure out what to take.  It took another two days to pack and get organized. I don't even want to remember that last hour before we were out the door because it was something else!  It takes alot of planning and work to pretend your homeless for a few days.  This is not the kind of deal where you say "If we don't have it, we'll buy it - lets go".

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Peach Cobbler

I went to my Mom's a few days ago because she had some fresh organic peaches for me.  I couldn't get over there fast enough.  When you have a box of fresh peaches, you better get cracking and do something with them.  My son Spencer found a great recipe for Peach Cobbler in the Red Gingham Better Homes and Garden cook book, so the baking was on!  In all the years I've been baking - and I do LOVE baking, I've never made a cobbler.  I think it's because I associate it with cooked fruit and that automatically makes me think of apples.  Because my parents had an apple orchard and we had alot of cooked apples - I have pretty much stayed away from cooked fruit.  All I can say is what was I thinking?  We loved this cobble, and it was gone in one night!

Inspiration in a box
For a recipe go to
Why do a two star recipe when you can do a five star recipe?

A little flour and butter, some peaches and brown sugar.
Some heating, some topping....

And 40 minutes later one great smelling "cobbler" just out of the oven.

It was wonderful, still slightly warm with home made French Vanilla ice cream.
I love making ice cream, it's really easy.
The best book for that is by two guys called Ben and Jerry!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Grandma Irene Justice Gown

I showed you Grandpa Clive Justice's fancy silk christening gown in August (Post "Family Heirloom") and the story of how Grandma and Grandpa raised five boys on a turkey farm on Salt Spring Island in British Columbia. They were perfectly happy and in love, but did come from different worlds growing up.  What a love story!  When Grandma gave me Grandpa's beautiful silk christening gown, she also gave me her gown.  What a stark difference.  We could call Grandpa's "ruffles and flourishes" and Grandma's "sweet and simple". Even though Grandma's family couldn't afford silk with all the trimmings she was christened in her simple little gown that was lovely.  I love her gown because of the care and love that went into it.  When I teach Heirloom Sewing Classes  I show both  of these gowns to show my ladies that you buy the best fabric and lace you can afford and go from there.  You don't have to have the best fabric and yards and yards of lace.  I've seen christening gowns made out of fabric that was as rough as feed sacks with lace that had been recycled from petticoats.  So as humble as it may be, this Grandma's gown and I love it just as much as Grandpa's.

"Sweet and Simple"

The tiny piece of French cotton insterion lace on each shoulder.

More French cotton insertion lace around the cuff of each sleeve.

Traditionally mother of pearl buttons are used on the back. 
And here we have two mother of pearl buttons with hand stitched button holes.
 The dress is gathered onto twill tape ties that close the back.

This is the hemline of the dress, two rows of the matching French cotton lace used on  the sleeve and shoulder.  Notice the use of folded tucks, they don't cost more, and look lovely.

So the dress is made of cotton, with matching French lace throughout and mother of pearl buttons. 
All the elements that make a true heirloom. 
Just knowing the Gramma was christened in this gown makes it priceless.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Fisher Scones Recipe

The Fair Scones (Fisher Scones)

Over the years I have given friends and family packages of the Fisher Scone Mix from the grocery store in Sumas, Washington.  These scones are sold from a big white truck at the Puyallup Fair in Washington State.  That's when I first tried them and loved them.  I have on occasion talked the man in that truck into selling me a large bulk 25 pound bag of the mix - I haven't told too many people that so it will come as a bit of a surprise.  But I have an even better secret to tell my friends....

This recipe was in the 1930's Fisher Cookbook. The original recipe called for raisins, but they no longer make them that way at the fair. You can buy the mix to make at home by just adding water,  but if you want to do them from scratch, this is the recipe. To serve like they do at the fair, when still warm, cut open but do not cut all the way through. Fill with a slab of butter and spoon full of raspberry jam.  These are also the base for the strawberry short cake that also sold at the big white truck!


2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons shortening
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup raisins (if no raisins, add another 2 Tbsp. of milk)


1. Sift the flour and then measure the 2 1/2 cups.

2. Re-sift with the other dry ingredients.

3. Work the shortening into dry ingredients with your fingers.

4. Add raisins to the flour-fat mixture if desired and mix thoroughly.

5. Add milk to mixture. (no raisins, add another 2 Tbsp of milk)

6. Turn out on to a floured board and divide into two equal pieces.

7. Pat each into a round that is a little higher in the center and tapers out to the thickness of about 3/4"

8. Cut each round into four to create 8 wedge shaped pieces. Bake about 15 minutes at 450 degrees on an ungreased baking sheet.  

This receipe makes 8 scones at about 280 calories a piece.

** Hide, oh I mean store these little gems in an air tight container. Just reheat in the microwave and enjoy!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Garter

I love ribbons. Old ribbons, new ribbons, satin ribbons - they're all wonderful. On one of my expeditions I found this garter. It's so simple but so pretty and girly - I love it. Someone like me can't imagine why a bride would ever buy something like this when they are so easy to make. They are so simple and really the sky is the limit as far as the decoration.

History of the Garter - beware, probably more than you want to know!
Tossing the wedding garter is an old time held tradition. It is said that in the days of old the bride and groom had to consummate their marriage. But in order for it to be proven it was common tradition to have people like family and friends come into the room with the couple to witness it. The "witnesses" would obtain the garter as "proof" of the consummation. Also having any article of the under garments was considered to be good luck so sometimes things would get out of hand in the newly wed's bedroom as crazed onlookers snatched at clothing to get for good luck. This was not appreciated much by the bride nor many grooms, hence the groom started tossing the garter out so that no one would need to obtain it themselves.
The blue silk satin ribbon is on the outside and the inside and is almost 1" wide and about 20" long. (this includes about 1/4" on each end to turn under at the center back seam where it will be hand stitched together.
The elastic inside measures 5/8" wide.  The length should be cut to whatever length is comfortable then stitched together.
The ecru cotton lace on the top and bottom is slightly gathered and is sandwiched between the front and inside ribbon.  The amount of lace showing measures 1/2", so buy it a little wider and a little longer than the length of the blue ribbons to gather up slightly before you sandwich it between the two layers. I would guess about 24" of lace for each side would do it.   The stitching from the right side that "sandwiches" the lace is placed just under 1/8" from the edge on the top and bottom edges.
So from what I can see without picking this apart the construction would be something like this:

  1. Gather the lace and pin along the top and bottom edge of the blue ribbon for the inside.  Stay stitch in place by hand or machine.  

  2. Pin the blue ribbon on top of the lace, matching the edges perfectly.  Stitch along the top and bottom edges just under 1/8" from the edge sandwiching the lace between forming a casing.  If you look closely at the picture above you can see the stitching.

  3. Thread a piece of elastic through the casing you've made.  Cut the elastic at a comfortable length, use your own leg or a friends leg if you don't like yours and then stitch the elastic together by hand or machine.

  4. Turn under each end of the blue ribbon 1/4", butt the ends together and hand stitch together to finish the back seam. 
You can embellish the center of the garter however you like.
If you need some cotton lace and silk ribbons, I know just the place.

Healthy Hamburger Buns

All I can say is on the way camping, we had one last stop to pick up healthy hamburger buns.

These are NOT healthy hamburger buns.

These are NOT my homemade vanilla Betty Crocker.

This is NOT my new four star Buttercream recipe.

These are NOT from a cute Cupcake shop.

This IS what desperation looks like in a plastic box.

Previousely frozen from the local "Save-On-Foods".

No comment. :)