Thursday, February 4, 2021

Thermomix - my cooking miracle

 Last year I joined a facebook airstream group called ThermoStreamers.  A group of enthusiasts who use their Thermomix in their airstream to cook delicious food.

I watched for awhile and decided I did indeed need one of these versatile machines.  The price is not for the faint of heart for sure, but I will say it has changed my cooking life.

At best I am a so so cook, returning to old tried and true favorites and often resorting to the simple fish/chicken/salmon with some rice and a vegetable.

I needed inspiration!  Thermomix comes in handy with that, providing a recipe index that can be catalogued and accessed directly from the machine.  They call this 'guided cooking' and is a great way for learning what your machine can do and it can do a lot!

It can steam, boil eggs (soft, soft medium, medium, medium hard or hard) ferment (yogurt), sous vide, slow cook, saute, heat up to any temperature and those are the cooking functions.  It will also grate, grind, chop, puree, and knead dough.  I regularly grind up almonds to use as a topping on yogurt, or grate fresh parmesan, or grind coffee to use in coffee ice cream.  Pizza dough and bread making have become staples.

There are also accessories. I purchased the juicer which is a great way to make fresh orange juice, or margaritas!

One of my favorite things it does is measure accurately each ingredient as it is added in the guided cooking function, so no intermediary measuring cups to deal with.  

The other great feature is the easy clean up with a stainless steel bowl which is easily rinsed and blades that are easily removed.  There is also a self cleaning function to use with a drop of detergent and some water.

So it may be clear I love this machine.  It's big and it's heavy so it stays out on the counter at all times and gets used daily.  So many different tasks it is up to.

Let's review just this week:

Pizza dough

Sandwich bread

Plain yogurt

Butternut squash soup

Chinese chicken salad (one of my most favorite recipes)

My morning protein shake with coconut millk, banana, turmeric, protein powder, some ground almond or flaxseed and a few ice cubes

Honey thyme ice cream with honey powder (soooo good)

Steamed broccoli with hollandaise on baked potato

I'm going to start to take some photos of the various makes and devote the occassional blog post to my favorite kitchen tool! Cooking is making after all.

Here it is steaming the chicken for the chicken salad.  The top bit is called a varoma and is used for steaming.  It has an insert so that you can do two tier steaming.  Maybe a salmon filet in the bottom and a layer of asparagus on top.  If you're really ambitious you can cook rice at the same time in a steaming basket in the bowl below.

Here's the packet of marinated chicken (a little sesame oil and soy sauce) steamed for 20 minutes or so on varoma speed. When done you dump the water, put the chicken in and set to 6 seconds on speed 4 or 5 to shred the chicken.  Chill the chicken and start the dressing.  Sesame oil, vegetable oil, 1 garlic, 1 inch fressh ginger and a teaspoon of Thai chili sauce.  Cooked for a bit, add some honey, drizzle in the oils to emulsify and then chill.  Dry out the bowl and chop a few peanuts.  Dinner is ready and waiting in the fridge.  Chop some romaine lettuce or napa cabbage whichever you prefer (I do this with a knife, I haven't tried but not sure the thermomix would excel here).  Add the chicken, toss with the dressing and top with the peanuts.

Here's the honey thyme ice cream.  I just used my favorite sweet cream base ice cream, soaking the thyme sprigs in the heavy cream and simmering for a few minutes then chilling.  In place of sugar I used honey powder and then just carried on with the recipe.  The thermomix does not churn ice cream, for that I have my cuisinart ice cream maker.

Not every cookidoo (Thermomixes subscription guided cooking recipes) recipe is a win.  But for the most part I've had great success with the majority of them.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

My love affair with shrinkets

Long ago during the height of my bead career I toyed with shrink plastic a bit.  I had designed the dream keeper vessel ring and needed a material to put 'the dream' safely inside the ring.  It needed to be sturdy and at least somewhat water proof.  I hit upon shrink plastic being a good medium for that and developed a template that could be stamped or written on to reflect whatever sentiment was wanted.  Once tucked in to the ring it would not be seen, but the wearer would know what it said.  You can still purchase the tutorial and if you're into shrink plastic and beads it might be a fun bead for you.

It sure was a pretty ring and I had fun with colors.

I dabbled with some earrings in shrink plastic but that was the extent of my play until....

I met Julie Haymaker in Tucson last year and was introduced to her line of shrink plastic,  but much more importantly her line of silicone molds which made the warm plastic into 3d shapes.  Oh what fun I've had.

Julie has a full line of shrink plastic products on her website.  It's a reasonably affordable medium to begin to dabble in requiring some shrink plastic, a heat gun, a couple of molds and some type of coloration.  I've used stamps, prisma pencils, alcohol ink pencils and even printing in my inkjet printer although this takes some practice and a spray on fixative to make it permanent.

Be sure to check out Julie's videos as well, there is a lot of good information for learning to use the plastic in interesting ways.

The other thing I especially like about the medium is that it's relatively easy to develop one's own style.  I'm heavily inspired by Julie's makes, but have managed to eek out my own style of coloring to differentiate my flowers.  The finished shrinkets are fun to put into jewelry, or stack on top of bottles,  or put into a shadow box.

Since I used illustrator in my bead weaving career I decided to use it to make some shapes that I could cut out and shrink.  Julie reached out to me and now you too can use my shapes because Julie had them made into pre-cuts.  Pre-cuts are a great way to jump right in and get started.  It's one of the things available on Julie's site to make your journey easy to start.

Here are a couple of examples of my recent love affair with bottle top art!   The large flowers I ran through the inkjet to add the script of peace and love.  I sprayed it with krylon matte fixative before and after shrinking.

Here are some examples of my foray into pendants

and one of  a series of Peace and Love earrings I made, also using the inkjet printer and fixative.

Here is a larger piece that I did for a challenge in Julie's facebook group Shrinkets, shrink plastic beads and art.  If you're on facebook, it's a great group to join.  Lot's of inspiration and lots of information on how to get started.

I hope you're getting the idea of the versatility of the medium!  

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

A long year, a lot of makes

 I am incredibly grateful for the fact that I am happily contented by making stuff.  I can't really remember what I made before the age of ten when I learned to knit, but perhaps my early adventures in play doh shaped my creative desires.

It's been a long year and a lot of making.

I started listing in my mind the things I completed and I thought I'd keep track of them in a year end post.  Covid combined with a year of almost retirement (I taught once in February and once virtually in October) left me a lot of time for making.


Sweaters (7)

Volition, Ranunculus, Love Note (two),  Garden Gate, Cumulus blouse, His vest

Cumulus blouse with Rosales necklace

Love Note sweater for a six year old

Casapinka's Breathe and Hope

Socks, 2 pair of Urth shorties, 1  pair of lavender shorties, 1 pair of Urth ankle length (gifted), 1 pair of Evening in Paris (gifted)

hats (7 gifted) and one crown

Lighthouse Hat pattern
1 scarf (gifted)


1 beaded tile for Museum of beadwork

3 Amarissa pendants

2 Bell Mabel pendants

1 solaris (Miriam's design)

1 peace sign

1 Sabine dodecahedron  pendant

1 sabine shawl pin

1 painted lady bead embroidery

5 shrink plastic pendants (sold and gifted, kept 1)

3 shrink plastic heart pendants

1 shrink fairy wing pendant

1 Rosales pendant (for Autumn memories retreat next year)

1 feather tree with shrink plastic oranaments

15 pair of peace and love and word earrings from shrink plastic

2 shrink plastic challenge pieces (coral for a tidepool challenge and a floral challenge)

1 pair of woven pearl earrings


1 pair Elope pants and top by Tina Givens in pale pink linen

1 gypsy jacket by Tina Givens

1 kimono jacket in a watercolor floral fabric

1 vest

a skirt for a six year old's birthday

10 pouches and a  yarn minder bag

5 clear front project pouches

1 pencil pouch for my daughter's drawing pencils

6 tula pink paper pieced medallions

a bazillion masks

and 1 repaired baby blanket

That is one heck of a lot of makes......

I decided this week that a little focus and finish was in order which is how Miriam's solaris pendant got done.  I still have a second Sabine rivoli pendant and a Franklin compass rose.

I have a new shrink plastic project that wants some time as well as a Bella pouch by sew sweetness that I'd like to make. 

I have a Place for Everything bag By Annie and of course my Tula pink sunrise quilt which needs attention.

Knitting plans are my urban jacket from Christel Seyworth, Pink Fizz by Andrea Mowry, and a white linen ranunculus.  I have a cowl I'd like to do as well, we'll see.  In process are a pair of color work socks.

Of course I hope travel will be some part of next year which is always a better opportunity for knitting so I may front load the year with some sewing.

I am not even sure how to process this year of makes.  While at times it felt like I was flitting and not focusing, the year in review would argue that I was pretty darn productive.  Much of the making was gifts for people I love and I can't think of a better way to spend time. 

Monday, October 26, 2020

A threadbare baby blanket and it's third repair

 Thankful for my making history that I keep here.  I was able to go back and find the last time I repaired this blanket for now six year old Layla.  You can read the history here.

The blanket was made with a bulky cotton yarn whose name I don't remember and was made from the pattern Baby Chalice blanket.  One of my favorite to make.

Daughter Lucia reached out in October letting me know that once again the fibers were at risk of totally disintegrating and what might I be able to do.  I posted on facebook and called out for advice from all my lovely knitting friends.  Whatever solution there would be would need to be quick as Layla loves sleeping with her blanket and misses her night time routine without it.

As it was UPS became a big delay, arriving 5 days after being mailed, so time was of the essence.

I had one skein of yarn and I thought I might make some crocheted medallions to attach to the surface. I was able to make twelve but in the end I didn't love it as a solution.  I did stitch one down to a corner and left it because it shows the original yarn and I decided it was a nice bit of history.

I carefully cutaway the frayed stitches which left a lot of white space between the lace but also revealed the underlying shape of the lace as it had been knit. (the previous repair entailed stitching the lace down to a white flannel backing)

Then I used a zig zag stitch to outline the edges and hopefully keep them from unraveling further.

I was inspired by the Japanese style of repairing broken pottery.

Kintsugi is the Japanese art of putting broken pottery pieces back together with gold — built on the idea that in embracing flaws and imperfections, you can create an even stronger, more beautiful piece of art. 

I decided then to fill in the white spaces 'cracks' with love of all the people in her life.

I had a tula pink variegated thread and after adding all the names in pink I surrounded them with variegated hearts.

Today, three days after it arrived I packed it up in a priority mailbox and sent if off.  I hope she loves it!

Thursday, October 1, 2020

The making continues.....

 I am so grateful that being a maker is at my core.  I'm not sure what I would be doing during this time of staying home if I weren't able to create.

I had a couple of months where I got myself a tad overwhelmed with the frantic beginnings and learning curves, but I've settled in and am happily working my way through projects.

When I left you I had just finished ranunculus....almost.  But it turns out I didn't really like the twisted knit ribbing and I thought the entire sweater was too long.  So I ripped it back with an after thought lifeline, threw in some decreases and did an cord Bind-Off.  While I was at it I decided there must be a better way to join the two ends of an icord when working in the round and there is!  I used these directions.

Then I turned my attention to fabric project bags.  The dog print was a request from one of my daughters for a pouch to hold her drawing pencils.  I bought this fabric on an early March outing to Roxannes in Carpenteria.  Friends Carole of  Creative Castle and Heather Kingsley Heath who was teaching at the time accompanied me.  Little did I know what a last outing it would be!  I was glad to use the fabric.

It turns out I like working with beautiful fabrics and small projects.  So I gathered up a collection of fabrics for my other daughters birthday request.  Two of the bags were from a tutorial by the Missouri quilt company on installing a zipper with zipper tabs.  They are beautiful and while the inside is lined they do have interior raw edges. Next time I'll learn to do the lining so that seams don't show, but I love the fabrics together.  The clamshell and small tote bag are patterns by Sew Sweetness.

This is called Kismet and it challenged me quite a bit but I perservered and I'm happy with it.  I'd like to make more of these for sure!  The pattern comes with three sizes of round and thee of the rectangle.  This is the smallest size at about 6 inches across.  You can buy just the pdf tutorial or you can purchase a video to go along with it.  In the end I purchased both since I"m new to bag making I wanted to see it done.

We went off for a short travel break in the airstream and this is my favorite airstream position and pastime.  This is Breathe and Hope by Casapinka with a yarn kit from Four Purls with Emily's yarn.

My airstream knitting time was well spent and I can now add Breathe and Hope to my finished shawls.  I'm wearing it over a Cumulus sweater in Malabrigio English  Rose held with a Lang Mohair.  It's one of my favorite sweaters to wear.  

And now a bit of beading.  This is Solaris by my good friend Miriam Shimon (who by the way is launching her new website store soon, stay tuned.)  Miriam has never met a crystal or pearl she didn't know how to bezel and these tiny navettes are nestled together to make a beautiful pendant.  I'll show you next time!

I'm busy getting ready to teach six classes for the virtual Beaders Dream retreat.   Virtual classes is a  whole new learning curve and I'm busy getting some video prepared so I can demo the fiddly bits close up and personal.   Two long weekends in October and then some time, I've been 'off' since I came home from Tucson in February, the last time I taught.  But I did build 90  Amarissa kits and step up my zoom game with a microphone, lights, and a document camera. So plenty of learning to keep me busy.

Until next time, take care of yourself and each other.  I love you.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Ranuncululs is Done

 Well let's see, a few weeks back I made my list , let's see how I'm faring,  I don't consult the list daily or even weekly, I just carry on with the projects that were documented there.  It's really nice to revisit it and see that I am getting things done.  I've also embarked on making some healthy living changes but that's for another time.  I don't want to exit the other side of the pandemic and have regrets based on coping behaviors.  I just have to explore new coping mechanisms and I am.

So onto what's done. I finished my Bead museum tile which I wrote about here.  I finished a bead project for a deadline, I finished 3 more colorways of Amarissa for the Beaders Dream retreat which will now be virtual, I started my beaded object from the beaded object class with Heidi Kumlli, I finished two pair of shrink plastic earrings that I gifted, I made about 12 masks for friends and family, and I finished Ranunculus.

Ranunculus Midori Hirose in Kestrel


Mark's vest 'His Vest' from Churchmouse in Malabrigo

Amarissa in three colorways for Beaders Dream Retreat

Masks for Tracy

Gypsy jacket from Tina Givens in light weight linen

Breathe and Hope for by Casapinka in Emma's yarn from Four Purls

I have to get going on some birthday socks, I'm doing 'Dreaming of Paris' by Joji Locatelli  and finish up Mark's vest for his September birthday.  I've cast on Breathe and Hope which wasn't on the list and started a  Tina Givens Gypsy coat which was sort of on the list.

My compass rose, dodecahdron and Tula pink sunrise quilt are all languishing.  But all in all when I look what I have accompmlished it's a lot.  Making is keeping me mostly sane although there are days the worry of our future weighs heavily.  One of my children is a hair stylist in Califonia where they have been re-shut down for the last four weeks with no date for re-opening.  

I'm also preparing myself to teach a retreat via zoom.  I'm glad to have the skills I need to participate but I was so looking forward to the energy that happens when we all get to be together, not this year.

I put in a full morning of work on my bead business readying myself for the virtual retreat and now I shall spend a little time sewing.  What are you up to?