Saturday, April 8, 2017

Gluten Free Hot Cross Buns

Eating gluten free is not a life style choice in our house.  The tiniest trace of gluten makes my husband very sick.  I try to eat gluten free as much as possible because I have arthritis and feel better when I eat this way.  Over the last few years I've got to grips with gluten free baking except for making bread.  I've tried a few times with limited success.  

But today I made these gluten free hot cross buns because it is that time of year and I had a recipe I wanted to try.  


Gluten free breads are usually quite disappointing but these are wonderful.  They have a great texture and taste of warm spices and raisins.  Best of all, each bite feels like proper bread in your mouth.  They aren't even hard to make but they do take some time.  


As with all gluten free bread doughs the actual dough is very wet but I was easily able to shape these with some extra flour on my board and hands.  They took about an hour and a half to double in size and they smelled incredible as they were baking, yeasty and spicy.  


The recipe called for grated lemon zest and grated orange zest but I only had lemons.  This is a Meyer lemon from my garden.  These are a cross between a lemon and those little oranges so the flavor was perfect for this recipe.  I also switched out currants for golden raisins and coconut sugar for regular sugar because those are things I had in my cupboard.


The recipe can be found here on the Gluten Free On A Shoestring blog.  It doesn't require any strange ingredients and I used my own flour blend made from brown rice flour, oat flour, white rice flour, potato starch and tapioca starch.  We ate some with a cup of tea, I've stored some for tomorrow and put a couple in the freezer to see how they fare.  One thing is for sure, they won't last long!












Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Spring

It's been a long time since I've written because life is busy just now.  Then it was Winter and now it is Spring already and my allergies are in full bloom.  I picked the flowers below from my garden yesterday.  Everything is green, flowering, pretty and laden with pollen. 


I've been working hard on custom orders for my Etsy shop and I am teaching a costume design class again this year.  Here is the newest pincushion in my shop.  

I was inspired by the idea of an impossible stack of pretty pastel macarons on a white tea plate with some fresh flowers for a garnish.  These colors feel perfect for the season. The pincushion top is navy blue which makes all these lovely pastel colors really pop.  




Lots of french knots make up the special filling for these macarons.  I used a variegated thread when I had one which was the right color.  



Around the side of the pincushion, I embroidered "Oh la la".  My french grandmother used to say this frequently and we always knew what she meant by her tone.  Usually there were many more "la la's" plus accompanying hand gestures and the classic Gallic shrug!  

I'm really enjoying these colors together.  I kept one of these finished pincushions out on my work table for a few days so I could enjoy looking at it but it is now back in the box to keep it safe and clean.  



Here are some more garden flowers on my mantel, safely out of reach of my flower-eating cat!  





Saturday, January 21, 2017

How To Make A Felt Cactus

Felt cacti are all over the internet, you can't browse Pinterest without seeing them and for good reason.  They are so very cute.  My reason for making some is that I have a demented cat who insists on eating any and all plants or cut flowers I bring into the house.   


For this project you need

a tiny terra-cotta plant pot (mine are 1.5inches in diameter and came from Hobby Lobby) 
green wool felt and some bright colored wool felt (for the little flower)
paper and really sharp scissors
embroidery thread and needle
polyfil
hot glue gun   


Make a paper pattern for your cactus.  The shape below will give a nice round shape but you can make it taller if you like.  The bottom portion of the paper pattern is the diameter of the flowerpot so I know it will fit snugly.  Pin this to your green felt and cut out 6 pieces.  


Take 2 of your green felt pieces and stitch all around the curved edge, leaving the bottom open.  You could do this on a sewing machine but I love the look of hand stitching.  Repeat with the 4 remaining green pieces. 


You should have three round shapes which need to be put on top of each other with all the edges matching.  Stitch straight up the middle as shown below.  There are lots of layers here but wool felt is easy to stitch.  I drew a guide line with a fine permanent market so my stitch line stayed straight.  



This is what you should end up with. 



Now it's time for stuffing.  This is probably the trickiest part as the holes at the bottom are pretty small.  Using something like a chop stick, push stuffing up inside the sections of the cactus.  I used a good amount of stuffing and made my cacti firm because they will be used as pincushions but you can make them as firm as you like.  Want a squishy cactus?   Go for it!  It is exciting to watch it take shape.  When your cactus is stuffed, cut out some bright colored felt for the flower.  I cut three shades of pink for this flower and stitched the three layers together before stitching the flower to the top of the cactus.  It's a bit fiddly but not difficult.  



Finally heat up your glue gun and when it's ready, put a good amount of glue around the inside of the flower pot.  Push the cactus down into the pot until it is where you want it to be.  


Smile, how could you not?












Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Spring Flowers

I enjoyed making this batch of pincushions and needle books with lots of pretty Spring flowers.  We have had a few days of sunshine after the last big storm which brought so much rain, snow and mayhem.  Tomorrow it is all supposed to begin again....  









Friday, January 13, 2017

Some Brightness For This Dreary Weather

I live in California and you may have heard that we've been having some Weather.  In truth it's been completely crazy.  We had several inches of rain from a wild and windy storm system that caused localized flooding, downed trees, power outages and all our local reservoirs to overflow!  Up on "our" mountain we had 9 inches of rain in one day. This then froze and was followed by 6feet of fresh powder and high winds over the next couple of days resulting in dangerous avalanches and forcing the the ski resort to close for the week.  

This is what 6 feet of fresh snow and high winds actually looks like on top of the three feet or so of existing snow.  These are not my photos but from Bear Valley's Facebook page.  The first one is the front of the main building!





The sun came out today and they have been digging out and grooming and I am heading up there tomorrow for some fantastic skiing!

Meanwhile back in the gloomy flatlands, I've been cheering myself up with lots of color!  My orders of wool felt arrived and are just gorgeous.  



I've been working on some pincushions and coordinating needle books with pretty Spring flowers - my way of handling the dark, grey weather and unrelenting rain.  There are wild roses, lily of the valley, forget-me-nots, daffodils and snowdrops.  I think the snowdrops are my favorite.  Every flower and leaf is cut freehand.  This design takes a little longer than some of the others because of all the cutting out but I think it's worth it.  










Saturday, January 7, 2017

Things I've Been Working On


I've been working on several things at once this week.  I have a couple of custom designs that I'm doing, one is being stitched and the other is still at the sketch stage.  I also finished up this batch of woodland pincushions and some matching needle books.  I'm sometimes asked why needle books are a thing.  Did you ever lose a needle inside your pincushion?  Enough said!  



I've also been working on these colorful needle books.  They match my rainbow flower tree pincushion.  We've had some really gloomy and wet days and I needed something bright to cheer me up.  I can't sit and cut out little felt flowers in all those lovely colors without smiling.  


This being California the gloomy, grey, wet weather doesn't usually last very long and we have also had some very cold days.  We rarely get really sharp frosts but this week we had an unusually cold morning when the birdbath was frozen solid and I couldn't manage to scrape all the ice of the windshield of my car for the school run!  The ground was still sparkling when I took Tia for her walk mid morning!  



I was given a gift card to a local craft store for Christmas and this week I spent a bit of it on this luscious handful of thread.  I love thread and looking at it all neatly organized at the store -  all those colors and it has such a pretty sheen.   This is not for any particular project, I was just restocking and adding a few new shades to my stash.