Author Archives: eviero

Chicks at Work!!

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As you may or may not know, I am a teacher, currently in the role of teacher-librarian. I don’t tend to post a lot about stuff I do at work, but this is an exception. Last month, I got an incubator and 12 chicken eggs!

To keep the kids interested, i have done a count down, posted the development inside the egg each day, told daily chicken and egg jokes, made paper chickens, built nests, and even had a contest to name the chicks…21 days is a long time to wait for a kid!!

But yesterday, the eggs started hatching, and wow! I am truly amazed by the power of nature. It really is a miracle!

Here are a few pics of the experience, I even recorded one of the eggs hatching! It was Major Fluffy, in case you were wondering….

Notable chicken crafts include my Chicken Mom T-shirt. (I designed it, and a friend who has a Cricut cutter cur it out for me then we ironed it on a T-shirt.)

And I also crocheted a chicken that lays eggs… complete with baby chicks…

Overall, an amazing experience! I’m working on talking John into getting some chickens for the backyard. So far, he is not buying into the idea, but I’m working on him….

Easy salmon dinner

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We tend to get in a little routine with our dinners and make the same thing over and over until we get sick of it. So, I thought I would try to change things up a little and try something new.

We normally eat pan fried salmon, but I came across a package of puff pastry in the freezer, and thought that might be good way to change it up. So I let the puff pastry and salmon thaw for a couple hours.

So I pulled some salmon out of the freezer…Then I fried up some onions…Then I added some spinach to the pan, added a bit of salt, and some dried dill.I rolled out the puff pastry then spooned out the spinach mixture in the middle.

Then, put the salmon pieces on top and put it in the oven at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes, until the puff pastry had browned.

It was really good and surprisingly simple to make. I think I have to file this under ideas good for company. You could make everything ahead of time, keep in the fridge, and pop into the oven when your guests show up.

I feel like I should have added a garnish or something on the side though… maybe a salad would be good on the side.

Spaghetti a Limone

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Spaghetti a Limone

I went out to dinner with a few friends last weekend and we went to an Italian place downtown. I think three of us ended up ordering this Pasta, and it was delicious! But all I could think as I was eating was, “I can make this!” Which, if you know me I say pretty often lol… but this time I actually did make it! Yay for me!

Spaghetti a Limone sounds pretty fancy, but really it is just spaghetti with lemon juice! Anyways, I will admit that my version wasn’t quite as good as the restaurants… but it was my first try… and making it at home cost a dollar or two per plate, versus the $18 plus tax and tip at the restaurant.

The ingredients you need are lemons, spaghetti pasta, spinach, parmesian cheese, butter, olive oil, garlic salt, and garlic. Sorry about the picture, the water was boiling, and had to take the picture quickly! Lol

I used the whole pack of spaghetti, which was a 900 gram pack. After I put the pasta into boil….

I squeezed the juice from 2 lemons, and grated the set from the outside of one of the lemonsIf I had fresh garlic, (which I didn’t, but would strongly recommend) I would sauté the garlic and spinach in a frying pan with a couple tablespoons of olive oil.

When the pasta was finished cooking, I added some garlic salt, a couple tablespoons of butter and a couple tablespoons of olive oil. I added the cooked spinach as well.

Then stir it around well, add the lemon juice, and top with some grated parmesan.

It was really good! I would also think about making it with rapini, or even broccoli.

Next time, I will also make sure I have fresh garlic, and I might add a little more oil and butter.

But overall, I thought it was pretty darn good!

Enjoy!

Candy cane hearts

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Sam wanted to buy something for everyone in her program this year, (which was 36 people) so we compromised on making them something. We found this idea using the mini candy canes and melted chocolate, and thought it was a perfect little treat, that was relatively inexpensive. Dylan on the other hand insisted that we don’t even give his teachers presents this year.

Sams friends organized a secret Santa, amongst themselves, and she did presents for individual friends as well, plus teacher gifts, and these treats for everyone in her class. Teenaged girls and boys are so different!

The only ingredients you need are candy canes, chocolate, and sprinkles.

The hardest part by far of the whole project was unwrapping the candy canes without breaking them. We soon learned that is was pretty impossible to only use the unbroken ones. So as we unwrapped, we laid them out on a cookie sheet with parchment paper

We started by melting the chocolate in a sandwich bag in a cup of hot water… this is by far my favourite way of melting chocolate. When the chocolate has all melted, cut a corner of the bag off. I even started reusing the bags by using the other side of the bag to melt the chocolate, then squishing it back over to the side with the hole when it was all melted.

I was worried about the chocolate flowing out through the cracks, so I started trying to do an under layer, letting it harden, the doing the top. Turns out, it wasn’t necessary, the chocolate hardened before it had a chance to flow through most cracks.

So, my advice, is to fill it all in one go. Just squeeze the chocolate out, give the tray a few gentle taps to settle the chocolate, then add sprinkles.

You can let them harden in the fridge, but I found that they became very brittle, and we broke a few because the chocolate and candy cane just snapped apart, so if you are storing them in the fridge, let them warm up before you try to package them or transport them.

We put them in little individual bags, they were so cute!

I would make these again for sure, quick and easy!

New family room theme this year!

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Everyone who knows me, knows that I quite regularly engage in craft projects, or redecorating when I am trying to procrastinate. There is a term for that… procraftinating…I found it on Pinterest when I was avoiding doing work 🙂

So I have managed to avoid work a few nights lately because I decided to change up our family room this season. I just love the trendy black and red decor that is everywhere this year. I learned that it is called Buffalo Plaid. This is the picture I started with for inspiration.

I started by going to fabricland and I bought some plaid fabric and a black and red checkered pattern.

I used the thicker plaid fabric to sew a table runner. I just sewed the rectangle, and did a blanket stitch around the edges.

And I used the checkered material to make some heart ornaments.

Then, I used a few of the fabric scraps to make checkered bows to add to the tree. I dug up all of the rustic, and red or brown ornaments I could find for the tree. Here is a pic of our family room buffalo plaid themed tree.

It’s probably not the best picture of the tree skirt, but I also bought a panel from fabricland that had a tree skirt. I cut it out and finished the edges with a blanket stitch, and I also sewed the stockings -you can see them in the photo with the fireplace.

Here is a closer shot of a few of the ornaments….

And here are some other pics of around our kitchen and family room…. I love the black and red with our new table.

I ended up using the table runner I made on the desk. I got tired of taking it off and on the table every time we ate.

Here are a couple pics of the whole room…. and yes, it totally always looks this neat! (No, it doesn’t.)

I think I might stick with this theme for a couple years! Although, the week after Christmas is when I tend to buy most decorations. I have them sorted by colour, and sometimes I will just move the decorations and colours to a different room.

If I have time, I’ll post some pics of our hallway tree, which is gold and silver theme; our upstairs tree, which has a Santa and snow globe theme; and our dining room, which is a work in progress.

Also, I have a couple quick and easy non-baking food ideas to share. Sam has decided that she needs to have a gift for everyone in her program this year…so we are doing an assembly line sometime this weekend 🙂

Cork Reindeer Ornaments 

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I wanted to post instructions for these reindeers last year, but never got around to it 😦 but, I came across the pictures, and thought I would share now. I have done a couple craft sales in the last couple years, and the reindeers always sell really well… there is just never enough time in December to make stuff, bake stuff, and post about everything! And, by the time I have some free time, Christmas is over and it’s too late to post about Christmas crafts! So, I’m going to take a few minutes to share tonight.

My other “issue” with wine cork crafts is that you really have to commit to drinking wine to keep up your supply (luckily, I’m a dedicated crafter, and have made the commitment to up my wine consumption to further my crafting production… I know, admirable, right?) There is a place in Markham where you can make your own wine… it’s called Markham Heritage Wines, close to Markville Mall, if you are ever in the area, it’s worth a visit. Delicious, wide variety of make your own wines, you can even design the label yourself. Anyways, I mentioned my craft projects last year, and I was given a bag of old corks, so I have a surplus right now 🙂

Here is a photo of the last batch of reindeers I made:

 And here is the stockpile of corks I got from Markham Heritage Wines! 

Here are the materials you need: some thicker wire for the legs and neck, some narrow wire for the antlers, googly eyes, rhinestones for the nose, a hot glue gun, and a pin and embroidery thread or cord or ribbon, for the hanger

To make the legs, you need to cut four lengths of wire, about two inches each. Then bend a loop at one end, like shown below:


I used the pliers to poke holes in the cork, but a barbecue skewer also works great.

Then, stick in the legs.  
For the antlers, you need four lengths of thinner wire, about four inches long each.

Then use a pair of needle nosed pliers to bend the wire into a spiral. I left about an inch at the bottom of each wire straight.

Then, bend two of the antlers at a 90 degree angles, and leave two straight, like in the photo below.

Place the antlers into a second cork in pairs, like the below photo. Next, use a smaller length of the thicker wire to make a neck and attach the head to the body. Whenever I used the thicker wire in the cork, I found that it went in much easier if you poked the hole first with the needle nosed pliers, or a bbq skewer, otherwise the wire kept bending.

I used the needle nosed pliers to bend a figure 8 to attach a little coloured bell for around the reindeer’s neck. A bow would also be cute. 
I used a hot glue gun to add the googly eyes and rhinestone nose. You could also use a red Pom Pom, I just prefer the look of the gemstone.

 The final step is to add a hanger or loop so he can hang on the tree. I just used some embroidery floss and a pin, and pushed the pin into the back of his head. Be careful as the pin tends to bend. I used the pliers to help push it in.  

Here is what Rudolph looked like on our tree!

 And, here are a bunch that I made before the last sale I did…

I have been selling them for $5.00 each, and I have had to make a few batches of them already. I’m not sure how much that would amount to if I costed out the work by the hour… but it’s enough to support my crafting habit (or at least contribute to it…lol)

I’ll try to post some of the holiday snacks and treats I have been making in the next few days…

Memory cubes

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I’ve made it a tradition to save a little bit of sand and a few shells from everywhere we visit. But, I ended up with a few mason jars, a few coffee cups, and a few paper towels filled with sand. I wanted to make a nicer looking container to display our souvenirs from our trips. Here is my final product 🙂

I started out with a display in mason jars, but it didn’t look exactly like I wanted. I found some ideas on Pinterest

I started by cutting a whole bunch of pieces of clear glass into 2 inch squares. Sorry, I forgot to take a picture, but here is the type of glass cutter I used. To make each cube, I cut out 5 clear glass squares and one blue glass square. I thought the blue glass would make a nice beachy background.

Once I had all of the squares cut, I taped around the edges with copper tape . It’s a bit tricky getting the tape even on both sides, but if one side looked better than the other, I made sure the better looking side was on the outside.

Then I used a plastic tool to smooth and stick down all of the edges. I’m not sure exactly what the tool is called, but it is sold for specifically that purpose and it is worth the $6 or $8. I think it is called a burnisher.

Then I painted all of the pieces with a tiny tiny amount of soldering flux. The purpose of the flux is the help the soldier stick. I have learned that you just need a tiny bit at a time.

Then I used my soldering iron to roughly assemble the box together. I just put a drop of solder on each side to hold it in place.

it’s probably now that I should mention that my cutting skills are not that precise, so the sides mostly matched, but there were a couple joins that I had to fill in gaps. The other thing is that my soldering skills are not the best either, so I used the solder to add some texture to each join. This covers up the gaps, and my poor soldering skills 🙂 I also kind of like the textured look.

I should also probably mention that the last time I really spent any time doing stained glass was before the kids were born… it’s not exactly a baby or toddler friendly craft. It has been boxed up for years. I learned how to do stained glass because I came up with the brilliant idea of making all of the table center pieces for our wedding out of stained glass. (No pressure there to learn, lol)

OK, back to the boxes, After I had 5 sides soldered together, I washed off the flux from the inside, made sure it was aand added the sand, and sealed the top.

I am pretty happy with the results, I have them displayed on our fireplace mantle now.

I also wrote on the back of each one where it was from, I still have to add the dates.

I’m still trying to think of a cute way to put the destinations on the front. Maybe I should have written it on a shell or something inside…

Now, I have to make another one from our trip out to the east cost! Check out the sand we collected from P.E.I.!

Jam Making! #canningparty #YMCTest.

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For girls night, a couple of my girlfriends and I have taken soap making classes, made cosmetics and cream, so when I heard about a canning, party, I immediately thought of them! I know I have posted how to make various jams before, and over the last 20years, I have made thousands of jars, but I’ve never invited friends over to make it a social kind of thing!

We started by cutting up a whole bunch of fruit! (Well actually, we sat there, had some coffee and muffins, and chatted for a while, but after that, we got started) My friend had just been to Niagara, so brought some freshly picked peaches, so we decided to start with those.

Once we had cut up all of the peaches, we decided to throw in some strawberries, and make another mixed batch of peach, strawberry.

So generally, I find then the no fail formula for jam making is to use about 4-4 1/2 cups of any fruit and about 6 cups of sugar. So, once all of the fruit is cut up, mix in the pectin.

Then bring it to a boil for a few minutes. You need to stir frequently here…. this is where having extra friends around helps!

while those two were busy stirring, I measured out the sugar. So, by the time the fruit and pectin had boiled, the sugar was ready.

We let the sugar and fruit come to a rolling boil for a couple minutes. Then, I always let the jam thicken and cool for a few minutes before pouring into the jars. This way the foam floats to the top so you can scoop it off, and because the jam thickens as it cools, it helps make sure all of the fried doesn’t just float. So, we had an assembly line to pour them into the jars, and then put the lids on and seal.

We were too busy with our jobs to take any pictures of the pouring process. But I used my hot oven method, where we put the sealed jars into a hot oven rather than having to boil them all to seal them. It works perfectly!

We ended up making 4 batches of jam… peach, peach strawberry, blueberry and blueberry strawberry. Almost 30 jars to split up! So I sent my friends home with their jam wrapped up in towels to keep them hot so they will seal properly. Kind of like loot bags!

It was a fun morning! We went out for lunch after too.

I almost forgot, I also made us personalized labels. We had joked before about calling our new craft company J.E.M. Designs (the initials of our names) so I made up JEM jam labels.

I am right on track this summer to make my jam making quota for Christmas presents! My jam cupboard is almost full! Thanks for the inspiration Bernardin and Chatelaine!

Sgrafitto pottery

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Sgrafitto pottery

My daughter Sam and I have been taking pottery classes at the Markham Museum for the past few months. It has a fantastic studio space with lots of tools and glazes. We have been making some great stuff, and it’s been nice time that we have spent together. We decided that it’s more about the process and enjoyment of making, more than the finished products.

I have been wanting to try this technique for years called, Sgrafitto. It is a technique where you scratch off a layer of underglaze or paint, from a piece of clay to make a design or pattern with the contrast of the white clay underneath. I have had a lot of fun with it and have spent hours and hours watching Netflix and carving my plates. Here are some of my finished pieces from last session.

You might be wondering why I would be making so many plates… well….I am so excited to tell you! The McLaughlin Gallery and museum in Oshawa is now selling my pieces in their gift shop!!! I’m not going to be able to retire from the money, but it might pay for my pottery classes, and I can cross off selling in a gallery from my bucket list!! Here is my display on the gallery shelves, and a pic of the gift shop, in case you are ever in the area.

Anyways, as much as I would like to go on about how excited I am to be selling in a real live art gallery, let me show you how it’s done!

I start with a hunk of clay..Then, I roll it flat with a rolling pin, just like play dough, or pastry.

Here’s a tip: if you are not that great at rolling out a consistent thickness, use a couple dowels on either sides as guides. They will prevent you from rolling too thin, and will make they clay the same thickness all over.

Once I have rolled out an even layer of clay, I use styrofoam plates to cut them out the correct sizes, and I smooth out the clay and the edges with my fingers. Then, I use an underglaze, which is basically a coloured clay, to paint the top of the plates. Most of the time in pottery, you fire or bake your pieces, then glaze or paint them and they are fired again. But with underglaze, you paint it on when they clay is still wet. This way I can carve designs into them before the clay is hardened in the kiln.

As you may already know, I have a few issues with hoarding things like egg cartons, and containers. One of the things I am unable to throw out is sushi containers. They are so pretty, and the perfect size for baking, so I just wash them, and store them in my basement, along with the other things I hoard. Anyways, turns out they are the perfect size for my plates! I make the plates in the studio, put them in sushi containers to take home, and then take them home to finish for homework. I am also using them to package the finished plates with my business cards. Here’s a pic.

So once the plates have a couple coats of underglaze, it needs time to dry…. like a day or two. I never start carving right away, I have learned that you have to wait a couple days until the clay has started to harden, so you don’t gouge the clay when you carve it, but it also cant be too dry because then you end up having to scratch the underglaze off the surface.

Once the clay is ready, this is the part I love! I turn on a Netflix show, or movie, and start carving! I do many different designs. I usually know what I want to do before I start, but I basically freehand the designs. Rather than try to explain, I have filmed myself carving a couple different designs.

Then, I let the plates completely dry, pack them back up in the sushi boxes, take them to be bisque fired, or baked. Once they have been fired, they are hard, but dull and need to be glazed. So I put three coats of clear glaze on each plate, send them in to be fired again, and that’s it!

I have to say that the for couple months that I have been doing this, my learning curve has been huge. I have gotten so much better. I’ve even tried some new designs like summer, and food…(since I know my family reads this, try to find the Tiny Tom’s donuts on the summer plate 🙂

The above two plates haven’t been fired or glazed yet, but I’ll try to share a pic once they are done!

Hope you enjoyed!

Blueberry pancakes and syrup

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Blueberry pancakes and syrup

So, we have recently discovered frozen blueberries from Costco. They are grown in Canada without pesticides, and are so delicious, we eat them with a spoon, frozen. Delicious!

I have also used them straight out of the bag to make jam as well. Sometimes (only when we are out of chocolate chips) I toss a few in my baking as well. There is something about the way that that they turn everything purple that I love. Anyways, today I tried making blueberry pancakes with blueberry syrup and they were delicious!!

Oh, and I almost forgot to share this amazing new pan John and I bought! Our stove has this weird element where you can connect two elements together… since I’m not explaining it that well, here is a picture…

I could never figure out what it is for, until we found this pan! It cooks 12 small pancakes at once!! Amazing!

So, back to the pancakes…. I make a whole load of small pancakes…

Then, put about a cup of frozen blueberries in a small pot.and added a couple tablespoons of sugar…I let it cook until it was a rolling boil…Then I mixed about a teaspoon of corn starch with a few tablespoons of water in a glass…Then I slowly mixed it in with the blueberries…

And it instantly thickened it up.

A couple tablespoons drizzled across a line of mini pancakes, was delicious!

Only took a couple minutes to make and was well with the effort!

If only we had some whipped cream to go with it!!