Wednesday, December 22, 2021

my annual post!

 Well that was not the intent to make this blog one annual post,  but a quick look tells me that is what is true, I posted last, in December of 2020 and now it is December of 2021.

So what did I do in a year?

We used the safety of the airstream to do some travel including visits with friends and family.  I returned to sewing class and have had varied results, but the last two makes were good ones.

I made some health changes, choosing to eliminate alcohol for the most part (for now, we'll see what the future holds) increased the walking and lost twenty five pounds (so far).  I feel 90% would be 100 but my body is sometimes in reaction to my age and is sometimes achy and crickety.

I also made a lot of stuff!

metamorphosis by sew liberated

Sew sweetness train case

Tiny tassels

a few shrink plastic bottles

How I roll socks with yarn cafe creations mini skeins

sweet bottle in pink

Sabine Lippert heart

Yarn Minder bag by sew sweetness

Tracy Stanley heart

Pink fizz by Andrea Mowry

Shawl pin by Sabine Lippert

Tiny tassels
hand warmers with beaded cuff

fabric bowls from Modern fabric bowls

Merriweather in Kestrel by quince and co

Sugar slip in white linen by Tina Givens
Gifted earrings
Yarn minder gifted

sugar slip in black linen tina Givens
airstream travel in Santa Cruz Ca
summer socks little boxes by Summer Lee knits
ghastlies fabric coin purse by Sew Sweetness
Noodle head bag purl fabric
sunshine in my pockets for Bella's 6th birthday
Julies wrap by Joji Locatelli
uneek socks by Urth
Levenwick in Brooklyn tweed, buttons by Lisa Peters Russ
woolfork by Jacqueline Cieslak from the book Embody.  Fabric by Tina Givens
Felix in Peace Fleece from the wooly thistle
Thalia by Tina Givens in stretch bamboo fleece from Mood
Vanilla sweater kit from wooly thistle
heart by Tracy Stanley embroidered by me
magnolia cardigan, yarn from Apricot yarn supply 
noodle head pattern redwood tote in canvas linen, gifted

Birdie designed by Heather Kingsley Heath
Vogue 7700 in Tina Givens cotton lawn
me with my honey at Sensorio in Paso Robles

Half of the family at Chaminade Santa Cruz

Merry Christmas to all!

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!