Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Stamp Collection

I thought I'd share my stamp collection to inspire you to make your own stamps. If you want to learn how to make some, simply follow my tutorial here.

My stamp designs come from different inspirations, from designs I've seen on Pinterest, to paintings in museums, to my own crazy imagination.

I hope you like them and get to create some awesome stamps!

Vegan (Duck) Apple Pie

There's no ducks involved in this recipe, except for the cute ones made of crust covering the top of this delicious vegan apple pie. It is one of my most coveted recipes, and I must say every time I make this pie it disappears within hours. I also make it with whole wheat flour and minimal sugar, so it ends up being healthier than most!

This recipe is good for three small pies (9" diameter pans). You will need:

For the crust,
- 2 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour
- 2 sticks (16 tbsp) of Earth Balance
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- Ice-cold water

For the filling,
- About 9 medium apples, any kind, although I like honeycrisp apples
- Nutmeg
- Cloves
- Cinnamon
- Whole wheat flour

To make the crust,

Mix all the crust ingredients thoroughly except for the water in a large bowl. After you have a nice consistency, slowly pour some of the cold water and mix. This will help the dough become more sticky and less dry. Add more water as necessary until you have a nice doughy consistency. Divide the dough in six equal parts and put them in the fridge for one hour.

To make the filling,

In the meantime, peel and slice your apples in nice thin wedges and put in a bowl. Sprinkle them with a bit of nutmeg, cinnamon, powdered cloves, and the whole wheat flour. Mix lightly until all apples are covered with some of these ingredients.

Now combine,

Preheat your oven to 425 °F. Take one of the pieces of dough and flatten in a circular shape. This will be the bottom of your pie. Place it in one of the 9" circular pans and make sure it covers all its surface, from the centre up to the borders. Place a third of the sliced apples inside in a nice concentric way, starting on the outside and making your way to the center. Then take out another of the pieces of dough, flatten, and using a cookie cutter in any shape (I used ducks -above- and stars -below-) start cutting the dough and placing it on top of the apples. Keep flattening and re-using the dough until you use it all up. Repeat these steps with the other four pieces of dough and extra apple slices to make two more pies. Sprinkle the top with a bit of brown sugar before placing in the oven for 45 minutes or until golden. Once it is done, let cool for about 10 minutes before you dig in. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

DIY Les Misérables 24601 T-shirt

After going to see the iconic musical Les Misérables, based on the Victor Hugo novel, my fiancé and I came out of the theatre singing "One More Day". We stopped by the souvenir shop at the exit to quickly glance at the overpriced products, when he saw a long-sleeve 24601 t-shirt that he loved. 24601 is the prisoner number of Jean Valjean, the main character, and it is sung in some of the songs. The shirt was also about $40.

The official 24601 shirt.

I immediately told him not to spend his money, as I figured a similar shirt would be quite easy to make… and it was. I got a plain black t-shirt from Wal-mart, number stencils from the dollar store, and white acrylic paint I already had (although you can also use white fabric paint, they will both work).

I first passed a lint-roller through the surface of the shirt to make sure the paint will adhere properly onto the fabric. Then I played around using a ruler and the stencils to make sure they were in a straight line and evenly spaced out. Next I used a little bit of tape to hold them in place. I used my left hand to further hold the stencils in place when I was applying the paint. Not a lot of paint was needed, just enough to cover the fabric evenly.

I waited a few minutes and took the stencils off carefully. Then I waited for the paint to be completely dried, and then I ironed the design, using another piece of fabric in between the shirt/paint and the iron.

The shirt was a success! My fiancé was over the moon, and immediately put it on. Also, the stencil design I chose and the black and white colours used, further the prisoner look that Jean Valjean is all about.

Stencils after use.

Final t-shirt.

Monday, January 20, 2014

One of the Greatest Smoothies Ever

I cannot take credit for this delicious smoothie, because the recipe was passed onto me by a friend. However, it is my duty to make sure everyone can enjoy this delicious healthy smoothie. It is actually quite simple to make, just mix orange juice, kale, some baby spinach, apples and mangoes in a blender and voila! You can also try adding apple juice or mango juice instead of the actual fruit, but it is better if you get the natural fruit. The orange juice is also preferably natural, none of that sugary stuff.

One of the best benefits of this smoothie, besides being delicious and a great snack or after-workout drink, is that it includes two of the best greens out there, kale and spinach. A lot of people don't like this taste, but the orange juice camouflages it quite well. The smoothie is actually more on the sweet side, and it can be a great way to get kids to drink it and take advantage of all the vitamins. You can also freeze it and make it into popsicles for the summer. It is a nice and healthy dessert. Also, if you are iron deficient like myself, this is a great drink for you. The high iron levels in the kale and spinach get absorbed better in the company of vitamin C, which there is plenty of because of the fruits, especially the orange juice.

Even this guy seems to like it!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

DIY Stamps

Creating my own stamps has been a recent passion of mine, and in the last few months I have created over 300! I will post some photos of my stamp collection soon, but for now I want to show you how to make them. It is super easy, fun, and you can make whatever designs you dream of and use them in many MANY ways (I used mine in my wedding invitations - also an upcoming post).

You can make stamps out of different materials like linoleum, potatoes, styrofoam, etc, but my favourite materials are erasers and Speedy-Cut rubber blocks, which have a similar consistency to erasers. If my designs are small, I tend to use erasers bought at the dollar store (like the round ones shown in the third photo below - you can take advantage of these shapes and use them as part of your design!).

You will also need something to carve them. Speedball's linoleum cutters are very practical, they come with a variety of cutting sizes and are pretty easy to use. You can get these at your local art store, or online.

Finally, you will need pretty inks and surfaces in order to use your stamps. Inks come in a variety of colours and textures, and have different uses too. I have also used fabric paint to stamp my own designs on pillow cases and other fabrics. Your options are plenty!

Other optional materials include a pen, pencil, and tracing paper. These will make it easier to transfer your design onto your eraser before you start carving away.

Once you have all your tools and materials ready, it is time to begin (I have posted a series of photos of all steps below for your convenience!). You can play around and create your own design on a clean paper or decide to use another design. I played around and came up with a simple fox design. Place the tracing paper on top of the design and trace it with your pencil. Then carefully place the paper, tracing face down, on the desired location on your eraser. With the back of your pen or your fingertips, gently press down on the paper, transferring the image on to the eraser. Make sure you hold the paper with your other hand so that it doesn't move around while you are transferring it!

Using your lino cutter start carving the design on the eraser, being careful not to cut yourself and making sure you are pointing the tool away from you. As you can see by the photos below, since I chose a circular eraser, I could choose to leave the stamp with the circular border around, or I can choose to carve the outside of the fox figure so that my stamp will only be the fox without the border. I think both are beautiful and will give you variety in your designs, so you can decide what looks best to you. After that, you are done, feel free to ink up and try out your beautiful stamp!

TIP: After you are done stamping, you can take good care of your creations by gently washing your stamps with warm water and liquid hand soap, that way they will last you longer. For really intricate stamps, I also use a soft toothbrush (you can get it at the dollar store), and rub softly in circular motions to get the ink out, specially in the corners.