Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Pattern Cyber Sale still on Today

If you want a GREAT deal on patterns, go check out the McCall Pattern Company Cyber Sale which ends today.

The sale is on the new patterns, just click the link on each page, Buttericks and McCall's are $1.99 and Vogues are 3.99. The other awesome news is that orders over just $15 can enjoy free shipping to the US AND Canada. It's not often such shipping deals are extended to Canada too.

It's a good thing that the sale spanned two days, because I spent the whole day yesterday checking out patterns and deciding which I should really buy. I originally had a list of 24 patterns, which I've culled down to 9 or 10. I need to rethink my pattern storage, mine is now overflowing!!!

I'll place my order today and share the pattern haul soon. Check it out and have FUN!!!

EDIT:  I've just ordered and realised the free shipping was only on yesterday, but the prices are still fantastic.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

African Fabric Stash

My parents work in Ghana, West Africa, so I've been lucky enough to get beautiful Ghanaian fabric as gifts over the last few years. I thought it was about time I took the fabric out again and contemplate the projects that they could inspire. The fabric is all cotton, so they would be more suited to summer wear, so it is a funny time of year to be hauling these out, but I was actually pulling out "winter" fabrics and decided to put these aside too.

Photo 1: All the brights...All are 100% cotton Made in Ghana wax prints, all but one were produced by Akosombo Textiles Ltd.

Photo 2: An orange and black large scale print (see apple size for reference). When I researched the company name, it came from China, so not Ghanaian, but in that style and at least bought in Ghana.

Photo 3:  The two blue fabrics have a coating on top and are textured. They would probably work for a big bag??? The brown wax print is slightly thinner than the others in the collection and says "London Wax Print".

Photo 4 & 5:  My favourite, a beautiful turquoise and gold design with a gold and black border. It is printed with "sukhotthai style" in the selvage, so it is probably from Thailand. I want something really special with this fabric.

So what do you think? Which is your favourite? Do you have any suggestions for patterns to use? I was thinking about summer dresses, skirts or loose tunic styles. My husband has some beautiful examples of the men's shirts made from this fabric, but I thought I'd leave you a photo of the little men in my life wearing their Ghanaian shirts.

Here are Willem and James with their cousin Daniel last Christmas in South Africa. It is Daniel's 2nd birthday today, so HAPPY BIRTHDAY little Danny Boy!!!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Cafe World Challenge Week 38

Happy Thanksgiving to my American readers. I hope you all had fabulous food and some fun with your families.

I had some fun with my boys making cupcakes this week, but unlike the Cafe World version, which is for birthdays, mine is just because its fun to eat cupcakes and we decorated with a Christmas theme. The boys have been bugging me to decorate the house and put up the tree, but its not even December yet, so I'll wait till next weekend. I did compromise and put up the wreath, helped them make their Christmas list (so we can write to Santa) and we made Christmas cupcakes.


My husband loves spending hours wandering through bookstores, so I accompanied him and browsed the cookbook offerings. I was steering towards buying a book dedicated to baking, but really didn't want one of these huge baking "bibles" that, though great to have, will probably cause my over stacked cookbook shelves to fall over. I discovered the Cake Boss's new book. Buddy Valastro has a show on TLC, which admittedly I've never watched, but I found the book intriguing. The first part is basically a biography of his family's bakery and the recipes are at the end. I used his recipe for Vanilla Cake found here.

I was very impressed with the recipe, the cupcakes were great. I cheated with the frosting and used store bought vanilla frosting, but I first removed it from the container and gave it a vigorous whipping and then piped it on. I used Christmas candy decorations on top of that and I used Christmas themed cupcake liners.

The cake turned out so well, I'm thinking I'll try his recipe for Biscotti next. I volunteered to make cookies for holiday cookies trays, so I'm leaning towards Chocolate and Hazelnut Biscotti.

Progress: 68/83

Next Up:  I will need to look at the remaining dishes and see what fits in to my next week, check back next Friday.

Disclaimer: Image owned by Zynga. This site is not owned by Zynga. This site is not the owner of the intellectual property

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Cafe World Challenge Week 37

I had a very good cooking week, not only did I make 3 of the Cafe World dishes, but I also had yummy mushrooms stuffed with scallops and made homemade fettuccine Alfredo. The pasta making is really getting so much easier each time I attempt it, the fettuccine turned out perfectly.

I also had a lovely lunch with my husband (without kids) at the buffet restaurant inside Caesars Windsor, so I'll consider that research for the Vegas Buffet dish. Not Vegas, not Caesars Palace either, but close enough. When I went to Vegas, I didn't eat at one of the famous buffets, we were too busy watching shows, casino hopping and consuming absurdly vast quantities of margaritas. If my husband hadn't sworn to never, never go to Vegas again, I'd have thought it would've made a great victory weekend after finally finishing this challenge. Maybe I can still convince him.


I love Philly Cheesesteak, not that I've ever been to Philly and had the real thing, but I love the various versions you get at sandwich shops.

I didn't find the nice bigger hero/sub rolls I wanted, so I had to make do with regular wholewheat rolls. So here goes my version:


Hero/sub rolls, split
vegetable oil
onion, thinly sliced
green pepper, cut into strips
1 lb sirloin cut into strips
hot sauce
shredded cheese

The quantities you use will depend on how many sandwiches you're making. I made enough for 6 rolls so, I used 1 large onion and 1 regular green pepper.

Wrap rolls in foil and warm in a 350F oven. Heat on in a large skillet and add onion and green pepper. Cook until vegetables are soft. Add meat and cook until no longer pink. Season to taste.
Divide meat mixture over rolls and top with cheese. Place in oven for a few minutes until cheese melts, remove, replace top and enjoy hot from the oven.


I lucked out with this one, because I was searching for a few days for escargot in shells, as depicted in the game graphic, but finally settled on buying the canned version. I didn't want to eat the escargot, so I was buying scallops for myself at a fish store. What did I find in the same freezer as the scallops....escargot in shells!!! So I bought them and I still have a $1.99 can of escargot in my cupboard. The package said the snails were already cleaned and ready to cook, so I just made an adapted version of the snail butter recipe in Joy of Cooking and plugged the shells with the butter.

Snail butter recipe:

In a blender combine:

1/4 cup softened butter
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp minced shallots
2 garlic cloves minced
1tbsp parsley
1tbsp minced celery

Plug the snail butter into the snail shells and cook for about 15 minutes in a 300F oven or until the butter bubbles. Serve with toasted wholewheat bread to soak up the excess butter.


To finish off the week, I made a super easy batch of caramel corn. I generally prefer plain salted popcorn. I always have a huge box of microwave popcorn available and it makes the best quick snack for myself and hubbie while we watch some TV and the kids adore popcorn when they watch a movie on the weekend. My little one calls it "Cocorn", very cute.

I found the caramel corn to be very filling, I can usually eat half a regular package, but I struggled to even eat a quarter of the package, so the kids had extra.


1 package light butter flavoured microwave popcorn (or your favourite type)
1 package (170g) toffees (I used Mackintosh's Mack toffees - the package said "great for baking")
1 1/2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp milk

Prepare popcorn as usual. Empty into a LARGE  bowl  (you need to stir popcorn around without it overflowing everywhere) and remove unpopped kernels.
Unwrap toffees and place in a glass bowl or measure, add butter and milk. Microwave on high for 2 minutes or until it starts boiling. Stir once during cycle. Give a good stir and pour over popcorn, stir popcorn till coated. Pour out onto a wax paper lined tray and allow to cool and crisp for 15 minutes.


I admit I haven't really been playing regularly, so I haven't unlocked any of the new dishes. You now get new dishes when you complete a catering order with a 3 star rating. I'm finding it almost impossible to get them done in time, since guess what...I have a REAL life too. So I won't be adding those, but over the Thanksgiving period, it seems you can cook Deep Fried Turkey and unlock Chocolate Pecan Pie. The latter would be great in real life though.

Next Up: Cupcakes...although not specifically for a birthday, just because I can.

Progress: 67/83, which, read my lips, equates to 16 dishes left. Whhooohooo!!!! Okay that is until more get added or something, but the end is near.

Disclaimer: Image owned by Zynga. This site is not owned by Zynga. This site is not the owner of the intellectual property

Friday, November 12, 2010

Cafe World Challenge Week 36

Another delicious dish was made this week, I opted to make a nontraditional Tempura Udon, a westernized version with eastern flavours.


Traditionally Udon is served with a dashi, soy sauce and mirin broth. Since I didn't have dashi or mirin and really didn't want to go out and buy ingredients again that I'd hardly use so I opted for a different type of broth. My eldest son is also sensitive to certain seafood ingredients so I would prefer to avoid anything that could upset his tummy.

Since I've never made Tempura before and am not very good at deep frying, I bought a Tempura mix for the shrimp topping the Udon soup. I also thought that the traditional recipes lacked vegetables and as I was making the soup as a main dish, I added some.

Udon - Jen style


1 Tbsp hoisin sauce
3 1/2 Tbsp tamari soy sauce
1 1/2 Tbsp fresh ginger chopped
2 cloves garlic
3 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
2 1/2 Tbsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp sugar

In a blender puree the broth ingredients till smooth.

1 package (200g) Udon noodles (I used instant)
2 tsp olive oil
About 4 oz shitake mushrooms, stems removed and cut in thirds.
1/4 lb (125 g) snow peas, ends trimmed
1 tsp tamari soy sauce
1 bunch (6) green onions chopped
fresh cilantro to garnish

Cook Udon noodles according to package instructions. Mine asked for 1/2 litre water and this served as the basis for the broth.

In a frying pan, heat oil on high and add mushrooms, sauteing for 2 minutes. Add snow peas and tamari and stir-fry for a further 3 minutes. Remove from heat and add green onions.

Add vegetables and broth ingredients to cooked noodles and water. Heat through. Serve with a sprinkling of cilantro and tempura shrimp.

This recipe produces a very flavourful broth, dilute further with water to your taste. Any of the broth ingredients can be removed according to your likes/ dislikes.
I personally didn't like the idea of my nice crispy tempura floating on soup and getting mushy, so I just took the photo and plated them separately. I like this meal because my husband and I can have the shrimp which we love and keep it separate from the soup, so my sons just eat the soup and still get a full meal and avoid what they can't eat.

Up Next: I've been looking at recipes for Escargot, I thought I'd look for some at the store and make it for my husband. Otherwise I'm making Philly cheesesteak tonight, Yum!!!

Progress:  64/83

Disclaimer: Image owned by Zynga. This site is not owned by Zynga. This site is not the owner of the intellectual property

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Executive Curl

As part of the Canadian Naval Centenial celebrations, the executive curl has been reintroduced to naval officer's uniforms. My husband is particularly happy about this change. I heard about this change weeks before it came into effect and he ordered new shoulder boards and sent his mess dress uniform away for the alteration. His usual tailor is in Victoria, BC, which is on the other side of the country, so it usually takes a few weeks to send out and get back, but at present the wait time is higher because the whole navy is trying to get their uniforms altered. So Jenny to the rescue. My husband ordered the new braid and I had to alter his "Service Dress" tunic within a few days, so that he had the "New Look" for all his speaking engagements and parades for Veterans week. Little did I know he went full monty on me and ordered the expensive GOLD braid (as opposed to the gold coloured braid he had previously). I need to have a little chat with him...maybe that $90/yard cashmere could be justified somehow, since he just spent $175 on just the braid for his tunic. Surely that much for a whole jacket is not unreasonable!!! (wink, wink)

So anyway, back to the sewing task. I did a little experimenting with the little bit extra and found that I needed to use a fine needle (I used a size 70 machine embroidery needle), else the machine punched holes in the gold. I really expected it would've been harder to sew, but it was not too bad. I'm not sure of the actual content, only that it is partly real gold. Since I did work in the gold industry, I found this use very interesting...but knowing that gold is very malleable and pliable, it isn't too surprising though.

It actually took longer to carefully open out the lining and sleeves and remove the previous braid than it took to sew it all back up again. One very hepful tip I got from the tailor...the measurement between the stripes was exactly the same as a cable tie (zip-strap), and she actually sent one with the order. So I didn't have to carefully measure or pin. I just laid the sleeve flat, placed the cable tie snugly against the adjacent braid and then the new braid against the cable tie and sewed carefully. Brilliant!!! The cable tie was also the same height as the braid so it was very easy.

The new gold braid with executive curl on top, the bottom two stripes are still the old coloured braid. In person you can really see the difference, the gold shines beautifully. Before the curl came back, the top stripe was the same as the bottom two.

A close up of the completed sleeve braid. I admit that the real gold does look mighty fine.

Peter wearing his tunic with his new executive curl braid. He's happy and I'm happy that he's happy, and boy he looks good in that uniform.

A Final Thought:

This week, and especially on Remembrance Day, we remember the sacrifices of our veterans. Where we are today is a reflection of their service and sacrifice. I encourage you to wear a poppy, to engage with our veterans, and to attend a Remembrance Day ceremony near you.
On the 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour, we stop and remain silent for two minutes to think about our veterans. It’s a short two minutes, but it’s long enough to reflect on the great country we live in, the freedom to live as we do, and our courageous veterans who helped make it that way.

It’s the least we can do.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Cafe World Challenge Week 35

This week's cake really didn't turn out well, but the kids had an influence in the design and making and they seem to like it.

I'll keep the post short, as I've just watched Megamind in 3D with my son and the 3D thing seems to hurt my eyes after a while. Very cool movie, by the way, LOVED the music.


To be honest there was nothing angelic about this cake. My kids were begging to use the food colour we had bought for making cookies, so I attempted a type of rainbow cake. They went a little crazy with the green colour and it turned out quite darker than I'd planned. I was thinking pastel shades and it turned out quite differently. I also got the bottom and top a little too crispy, as I was using a silly silicone pan and I forgot to adjust the cooking time accordingly.

So lessons learnt:

1. Rainbow cake = not so pretty
2. Angel food cake and silicone pan = bad idea
3. Go out and buy a proper pan.
4. A recipe that requires 11 egg whites should not get !#$%^'ed  up

I think the recipe was good, I used Joy Of Cooking again. Just user error again.

Have a laugh at this silly thing:

Next Up: I'm thinking I'll try Tempura Udon, I love Tempura, but have never made it myself, although I'm NOT keen on deep frying.

Progress: 63/83

Disclaimer: Image owned by Zynga. This site is not owned by Zynga. This site is not the owner of the intellectual property