Sunday, February 26, 2012

Crafting Madness

I happen to be a person who generally likes to craft, but happens to have little talent bestowed on her. Therefore I am always excited to find interesting and easy-to-do inspirations that even let me hope for a success. My latest art project was totally inspired by my latest addiction, Pinterest. Several people have done this collage, unfortunately I didn't find the links any more in order to give the more creative people out there credit for it.

Finished piece

Even though we have moved into our place about a year and a half ago, I have been slacking decoration-wise. Therefore, our large living room wall is still bare. At the same time, there is no lack of random papers with little girls' scribbling on them, and I tend to be one of these mothers that I will not toss the paper once one of my girls has taken a pencil to it.
Bare living room wall

All I needed was a large canvas (I used 40cm x 40cm, about €7.00 at NanuNana), dark brown acrylic paint (€3.00 at the art supply section of a local drug store), a glue stick (the original poster used a hot glue gun, but I rather not fidget with that just yet), scissors and plenty of our girls' scribbles (only paper where they scribbled a few lines here and there, I did NOT cut up their artwork!!). A glass of red wine was also helpful!

My supplies (scissors and glue not in the picture)

First, I painted the entire canvas with the acrylic paint (don't forget the sides!). While the canvas dried I cut out leaves of the scribble paper. I cut them in 3 general sizes (S, M and L, having most of the small ones and just a few of the large ones).

Painting the canvas

 After the paint had dried I arranged the cut-out leaves in an asymmetrical flower pattern (you can play with that around as much as you like) and then started to glue the individual leaves on the canvas. I plan on getting some spray finish at some point just to secure the leaves better on the canvas, but it already has been up for a few days now and no fall scenery in our living room, so I might just leave it at that..

Close-up of the finished piece

A little hint: If you don't have kids' scribbles available but like the design, just use craft, wrapping, scrap book, or even news paper for the leaves!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Introducing: Modern Cooking

I have thought for a while to re-activate "Tasty Tuesday", but somehow this title didn't seem right any more, since Tasty Tuesday was more focused on yummie comfort food while modern cooking will focus more on nutritious, quick-to-prepare meals that feed a family with different dietary preferences or needs. Until a while ago, our family of 4 had to serve 3 different diets: regular omnivore (Richard and Lily), lactose-free (Violet), and vegetarian (me). Luckily, Violet's digestive system has matured enough now so that she is able to eat milk products. I am still a vegetarian though, which I stress is a personal decision which I refuse to force on my husband or children but decided to work around.

I am starting this column with a healthy meal that can be adapted to fit almost any dietary preference while being easy to prepare and extremely yummie without the slightest feeling of guilt:

Feta Cheeseburger with country potatoes and salad.

Did I ever tell you that my husband makes the most delicious hamburgers in the world? Well, he does. For the burgers you need:

- 1lb of ground beef
- 1 egg
- steak seasoning
- small hand-full of bread crumbs (I make mine fresh from day-old bread)

Mix above well with your hands and cook to taste on a grill or grill pan.
Serve on a bun with thinly sliced feta cheese and tsatsiki.

For the tsatsiki you will need:

- 1 cup of plain (or Greek) yogurt
- 1/4 cucumber very thinly cubed
- fresh garlic finely diced to taste (we use lots)
- freshly ground black pepper and sea salt to taste

Mix the yogurt with the cucumber and garlic and season with salt and pepper to taste.

For the country potatoes just wash as many potatoes as you need, quarter them and arrange them on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with pepper, salt, and rosemary; bake until done and crispy.

For the salad wash the produce (lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, olives, etc.) and cut it into bite-size pieces. Prepare a dressing of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, pepper, salt, and Italian herbs (oregano, basil, rosemary) and toss with the other ingredients.

Make it vegetarian:

Forget the burger and toss the feta cheese on the grill. Watch it carefully because it will become runny (optional you can wrap the cheese in aluminum foil). Serve with the country potatoes, tsatsiki, and salad.

Veganize it:

Swap the cheese for tofu and marinate over night in garlic-infused oil. Grill and serve instead of the cheese. You can also cook up a nice soy burger to go with it. Prepare the tsatsiki with soy or rice yogurt.

Make it lactose-free:

Switch all regular milk products to either lactose-free versions or use the vegan options with the burger.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

I'm Back!

Yes, people, here I am again, re-emerged from the depth of my hobbit-hole hiatus. These past months I have not been idle but writing privately, thinking about new columns to be added and in which direction I want to go with this blog. A lot of new ideas have sprung up, starting with a new food column “Modern Cooking” with delicious dishes accommodating working parents with easy modifications for different kinds of diets (vegetarian / vegan, dairy-free, etc.); luckily, our family does only have to accommodate 2 kids of diets now, since Violet has outgrown her lactose intolerance. I have also become a member of the growing crowd of Pinterest addicts, trying myself (mostly unsuccessfully) on various crafts projects (pictures to come). Our family life has been fairly uneventful, even though radical changes have taken place in the extended family (sorry people, nothing to be discussed on here at this point). It is amazing how events that are supposed to be painful can still make you emerge relieved and stronger. Mostly, I am at a good place these days, even though shopping for clothes has me in despair at times (even though I love my body most of the time, the fashion industry certainly doesn’t). So, I am definitely looking forward to how this works out in the months to come. As always, feel free to comment, I am grateful for any kind of critique from my readership.