Tuile We Meet Again… Vegan Tuile Cookies! Tuiles Végétaliennes! It’s the Daring Bakers January Challenge

blue_db

What a fun and easy challenge! I loved it! The Daring Bakers were baking Tuile (pronounced tweel) this month and it was pure joy!

I’d bookmarked Vegan Yum Yum‘s recipe for Tuile Cookies back in April, but never got around to making them. What a sillyfish I was! These cookies came out perfectly : light, crisp with a hint of chew…I served these with a luscious maple-lemon custard (and of course with sprinkles, because that’s Guppy’s signature touch) and they were just heavenly. Vegan Yum Yum’s recipe is a slam-dunk, her directions clear and her style impeccable, so really I cannot take much credit for this culinary success – it’s thanks to Vegan Yum Yum!

Here’s what I did (per VYY’s instructions ) :

trace

I traced three circles in some cardboard. She’d suggested not baking more than three at a time because they cool quickly and shaping would be tricky. I followed her advice and had no problems.

tuile-mould

Using my lil’ knife and self-healing mat I cut out the circles.

dough

I put a few dollops of dough in each circle, then using a butter knife I leveled things out.

first-shaping

For a more traditional shape, I used my rolling pin. But the their traditional shape doesn’t lend itself well to filling, so I decided to use espresso cups.

cooling

Right out of the oven I would slide them onto the outside of the cup, then one by one I would pinch them into a taco shape and slide them into the cup. They retained their shape as they cooled.

taco

Here’s a cooled tuile just waiting for some maple-lemon custard…

filledtaco

Notice how the custard opened the taco just a smidge? The key is not to fill them before you’ll be eating them as the filling can lead to soggy tuiles…

stuffedtuiles

Notice how the ones on the left are all perdy and the one on the right is creeping open…it was filled about a half hour before the picture was taken. So, be sure and wait until just before serving to fill your tuiles!

This month’s challenge is brought to us by Karen of Bake My Day and Zorra of 1x umruehren bitte aka Kochtopf. They have chosen Tuiles from The Chocolate Book by Angélique Schmeink and Nougatine and Chocolate Tuiles from Michel Roux. Thank you both for a great challenge!

Be sure and visit the Daring Baker’s Blogroll to see all the tuile-y goodness!

W.I.P. Wednesday : Stitch-Along Progress & more

Exciting news! One of the most lovely vegan graphic artists, Lovlie of Veganlovlie is creating a fabulous W.I.P. logo and web button that you can add to you blog and feel super-cool (because you are!). We should have them ready for next week – how cool is that?

Stitch-Along check-in : How is your Love Bear coming along? I am, true to form, juggling four or five projects at once, and so haven’t finished my first bear project for the stitch-along. Almost done.

lovebear1

Like the wrinkles? Just ask Monsieur Fish to come “pick up” around your house. He’ll pile everything from your craft table on top of your W.I.P. to help you “straighten up”. The wrinkles are just extra. Sigh.

unstuffed-pillowUnstuffed pillow love…

I’d like to make two of these little “love pillows”, so I need to get cracking. Or, stitching I should say. I’m not thrilled with the way the eyes turned out on this one, and I think I’ll do my second one differently. I’m also thinking some lace or some some ribbon or something would make the love pillow a little fancier. This one is going to be part of a (late) birthday package for one of my sweet sisters.

Don’t forget, I’ll be posting a round-up of all the Love Bear Stitch-Along projects on February 14th, so if you’d like to be a part of the round-up love, just email me a link to your posted project and a photo, too if you’d like.

Here’s a little peak at one of my newest hobbies – the rectangle pin cushion.

pincushion

I’m almost obsessed, but in a healthy “look at me using up my cute fabric scraps” way. My Auntie Martha (who was actually my great-aunt, but in my family you’re just an Aunt or an Uncle) was the only crafty-stitchy person I had contact with as a child. She was DIY before it was trendy, (you know, back when it was just common sense), and she re-used and recycled everything.

One of my favourite things to “play” with at her house was her collection pin cushions. In all shapes and sizes, they were most often made of fabric odds and ends, bottle caps, bits of this and that. I hadn’t thought of her pin cushions in ages, but when I began playing with this corduroy and pink velour – boom!

pincushion2Sorry about the wonky photos – I’m actually leaning out my window to get a little light! Rain, rain, go away!

This little pin cushion is on it’s way…somewhere…

bookexchange1

…accompanied by a sweet and a book. Carmen’s book “exchange mates” will be unveiled on February 14th – what suspense! I just love surprises, so I’m totally into this! My only fear – the glue on the handmade card I included in the package wasn’t 100% dry…I hope it makes it ok!

The W.I.P. List continues to grow! If you’d like to be a member of the elite, sophisticated and creative W.I.P. Team (tee hee), than just link back to the W.I.P. Wednesday page and leave me a comment. I’ll add you on quick as a cat can wink its eye! (Wow! That’s fast!)

And thank you to the ever-so-sweet Amanda of Walking The Vegan Line fame for bringing W.I.P. Wednesday to Flickr. She’s just kicked off our Flickr group, so you can add your W.I.P. Pics to Flickr!

Whatever Happened To Sunday Dinners? Twice-Baked Potatoes, how I love thee!

This was one of those dinners that made me feel all down-home and comfort-foody. Love that!

The closest I had ever come to making twice-baked potatoes are the Samosa-Stuffed Potatoes from VCON. Monsieur Fish and Guppy both really like them, they’re quick and easy and they are always a big hit with omnis, so they work well as appies when we have a little soirée. However real, honest-to-goodness born in Betty Crockeresque kitchen in the 1960′s twice-baked taters had never been on my list of things to make. Maybe because I’d never had them before? I have had potato skins – those were considered “party food” when I was little and my mum wanted to make us a special finger-food type meal. But twice-baked potatoes? Nope. Never.

Oh how wrong I was to have neglected such an easy and delightful dish!

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Sunday Dinner: Twice-Baked Potatoes, Basic Seitan Crumbles, Roasted Green Beans with sautéed Mushrooms & Onions, and Orange(r) Carrot Coins

These Twice-Baked Potatoes were dangerously good. I mean, hide the left-overs so there will be some left for tomorrow good. Don’t get me wrong, they are not to be considered low-fat or something I will make every week, but they are now in the canon of “comfort foods”. And those Basic Seitan Crumbles? Outta sight! So versatile, they could be used in a myriad many ways – on pizza, over a salad…we ended up sprinkling them on our potatoes like bacon bits. Heaven. The Carrot Coins also scored high on their “not tasting like health food carrots” according to Monsieur F. We were having trouble not having thirds, and fourths…

With the exception of the roasted beanies, this meal was built by Celine and Joni, the goddesses of vegan recipe creations. You’ll have no choice but to pick up a copy of their 500 Vegan Recipes. Ok, you’ll have a choice, but really, you won’t be able to help yourself from wanting all this goodness! Want to see more? Go check out the 500 Vegan Recipes Flickr Group.

While preparing the potatoes for this dinner, I couldn’t help but thinking about my friend Ricki of Diet, Dessert and Dogs, but I couldn’t figure out why. I mean, this wasn’t one of her recipes – though I do use her recieps often! Then it hit me: last year Ricki wrote a very moving post, one of my favourites, and she therein mentions potato boats. This post touched me for many different personal reasons, and so deeply that well over 6 months later I was brought back to her childhood memories as I prepared my meal. As most of you know, Ricki was recently nominated for a blogging award grâce à her beautiful prose. I just wanted to say that award or not, Ricki’s talent, culinary and literary, is undeniable!

The unbearable deliciousness of Marmite Biscuits (Crackers)

marmite-crac

Like many of you, my first Marmite experience was rather brutal : I’d heard Marmite and Vegemite mentioned before here and there, but I had no idea what it tasted like. I was 16, and visiting England for the very first time.

Gullible, trusting and rather naive, I allowed myself to be seduced by the groans of pleasure coming from the 6 and 9-year-old children who were seated near me at the kitchen table, as the bit into their Marmite and cucumber topped slices of bread.

“So what does it taste like?” I asked, sniffing the open jar. The colour reminded me of the pints of Guinness I’d had the night before with the children’s uncle and cousin at the local pub. I was still marveling over the staying power of the foamy brew, the way the “S” the barkeep traced in frothy white top of my glass remained intact until I managed to finish it down. My head hurt too, but I was 16, who cares about that?

“Here, have some,” the elder of the two beamed, slathering a gigantic dollop of Marmite onto a slice of bread. “It’s kind of like peanut butter, only different,” he offered reassuringly.

I couldn’t help but notice the 6 year-old giggling, but she seemed to giggle all the time, so I wasn’t really sure what that was all about.

Blek.

Of course I obligingly took a big bite of the tartine offered me, only to realize that I was about to be sick and needed to get to a toilet fast. Embarrassment. I was teased it was the Guinness from the night before. It wasn’t. It was that damned Marmite. Bugger.

I’m a peace and love kind of gal, and I’m always trying to make amends with my enemies. Like the yeasty-spreads. Thrilled I am to say that during Grad school one of my sweethearts had a real thing for the “mite” sandwiches, and I was all about people making me lunch, so I became a fan.

These crackers, however, take the love to a whole new level:

fall

These biscuits are rich, buttery and have an almost eyebrow-raising bacony taste to them. The yeast spread gives them a depth of flavour that is satisfying and surprising. These are perfect for snacking, and would also be lovely dunked in a steamy bowl of soup. I served them with cocktails and billed them as crackers because here, biscuits are sweet and that would have been weird.

This recipe and 499 others will be available for your vegan pleasure in Celine & Joni’s 500 Vegan Recipes. You can check out the Flickr photos if you want more food p*rn, too. It’s a real treat to be working on such a comprehensive book. I’m not trying to be a tease, really! Come on over and I’ll make you some so you can have some, too. Promise.

*Another grand merci to Libby who sent me these super-cute cookie cutters. She was turned away at the polls during the 2001 election in Florida when that phoney election when down. She was there, man. Yet another moment in my day where I am thankful for Obama!

Japanese Sewing Pattern Help, Found?! Oh, yeah, and VOTE!

flowersFlowers, which have nothing to do with this post, other than they were on my table and I hate blogging without pictures!

Remember my quiet call à l’aide* when I told you about the Stylish Dress Book that I received for my birthday (and which I can’t put down because it is so beautiful!)?

Well, guess what?

I found this immensely helpful post by Mari over at The Purl Bee. For those of you not in the know, ahem, like I was (or wasn’t?) until recently, The Purl Bee is a gigantic treasure chest of inspiration, help and eye candy for the crafty (and crafty at heart). Their beautiful site is loaded with tutorals, knitting, crochet and sewing ideas, a glossary… of course if you happen to be in NYC you could sign up for one of their classes.

There are also tons helpful posts over at label-free (fantastical sewing site) : on cutting and one on sewing patterns from Japanese craft books – there are actually multiple helpful posts. So awesome – thank you sewing people!

Crafting Japanese has some great examples of finished dresses, too, but be warned…time flies when you’re looking at this stuff!

Ok, one last link : My Daruma est un blog pour mes copines francophones! Beautiful creations, and many of them from or influenced by various Japanese craft books. Much of the blog is in French, but there are often little summaries in English, too.

I am so going to be making these little dresses…I just need a little practice, that’s all. And the right fabric.

And I forgot to say this super-important thing:

Get thineself over to Ricki’s blog right now! Have you heard her amazing news? She’s up for a well-deserved award and it’s up to us to help her! We’ve seen what can happen when people get out and vote in the recent past, so let’s keep the ball rolling kids! Get on over there and while you’re at it, sign up for her giveaway! (Shellyfish muttering under her breath something about wishing she lived in the greater Toronto, Ontario area in Canada because she too wants the homemade goodness).

Why are you still here reading this, Go. Go now.

Stop reading this.

You’re still reading…

Go!

*for help

W.I.P. Wednesday – Let’s Have A Valentine’s Day Stitch-Along! Basic Embroidery Tutorial & Recycled Valentine’s Day

Ok, it doesn’t have to be for Valentine’s Day, but this cute little project does lend itself well to the upcoming holiday!

Because we can’t craft together in real life (unless you care to share the secrets of teleportation that is), my lovely friend Krys of Two Vegan Boys suggested we do a stitch-along. I loved the idea, and we thought you might want to join the fun!

True to the W.I.P. Wednesday philosophy, this is just a no-pressure way to “virtually” craft together in a fun, supportive and happy place. Have a question? You’re welcome to comment me a question and I’ll try to help. Never threaded a needle but feel inclined to give it a try? Fear not! Below you will hopefully find all the information you need to get started on a very basic embroidery project.

Krys found a cute (but not cutesy) free pattern from artist Andrea Zulli’s blog Badbird’s : Musings of a small angry bird. She also has the most beautiful prints in her Etsy Shop, Badbird. Wow!

love-bear-web

Click on that little bear and you’ll find yourself chez Andrea where you can get your crafty hands on this free download – and many others! Andrea is a generous artist and has many free patterns.

Now that you have your pattern, what would you like to do with your finished project? You could make a Valentine’s Day card, stitch it on a t-shirt or other clothing, offer your framed embroidery as a gift to someone special… The size of your project will determine if you need to enlarge or shrink your pattern before beginning. I’m going to use this to make a little pillow as a gift, so the size of my “Love Bear” is based on that.

Needlework is a great craft when you’re on a budget because you don’t need much to get started!

You’ll need :

pattern-penciltape

The printed “Love Bear”, some masking or painter’s tape and an embroidery pen. These pens have “disappearing ink”, which is pretty groovy for tracing patterns onto fabric (which you also need). I don’t want to be kicked out of the “Crafty Club”, but above is a light pencil, because I don’t have an embroidery pen and this has been working really well for me -just be careful to keep your lines thin!

thread

You’ll also need some embroidery floss! This “thread” is usually composed of multiple strands -most often 6. You can use more or less of them, but for beginners, it’s usually easier to work with all 6. You’ll be using short lenghs of thread, so hold it between your thumb and pointer finger and you’ll want it a little shorter than your forearm (any longer and it’s apt to tangle up). Floss is most often cotton, but Vegans beware of wool floss which is also available.

hoop

Don’t forget an embroidery hoop to hold your work taut while your stitching – this will prevent puckering. If you stitch on a stiffer fabric, you won’t need one.

needles

You’ll want an embroidery needle – its bigger eye (the better to see you with!) is easier to thread with embroidery floss. Here you see the difference between a sewing needle and the larger needlepoint counterpart.

To thread your needle, pass the floss through the eye, but don’t knot the two ends as you would with regular thread. Leave a shorter “tail” of thread on one side, the longer section on the other. Normally with embroidery you don’t knot the long end of your floss, but you’re a beginner and it’s totally ok!

Now you need to transfer your pattern to your fabric. Here’s how :

tape-to-window

Tape your “Love Bear” to a window

fabriconpattern

Next secure your fabric over the pattern. You may want to tape the sides, too, because you’ll be tracing the pattern and you don’t want your fabric slishing about!

in-the-hoop

Once your pattern is traced on your fabric you’re ready to start stitching! How exciting is that! You’re about to embark on a fun project with blogger peeps, right on!

There are loads of different embroidery stitches, and a google search or a trip to YouTube will give you many stitchy options. I’m going to show you how to do a split-stitch, one of the most common and versitile there is. You can easily complete this and many other projects using only the split-stich, so here we go:

firststitch

1) To begin, bring your needle up through the fabric from back to front.

secondstitch

2) Now bring the needle back down just in front of where you came up.

third-stitch

3) Now bring your needle up through the fabric in the middle of your first stitch. Try to bring it up in the centre of your floss. For example, if you’re using six-strand floss, ideally it would come up with three strands on each side. This is something you can play with depending on the look you want, but for today let’s stick to the basics.

fourthstitch

4) Here you’re going to do what you did in step 2 – just bring the needle down in front of your stitch.

finished-stitches

Here’s what 4 stitches look like. You’re creating a kind of “chain” if you will, each stitch connected to the next.

And there you have it! I hope this is helpful and will encourage you to give it a try! My big disclamer is that I’ve only been practicing embroidery for about 6 months and much of the jargon I’ve learned has been in French, so if you see errors or if something isn’t clear don’t hesitate to let me know and I’ll fix it up tout de suite! (That’s right away for you kids playing at home!).

Don’t forget to visit the other W.I.P. participants to see what they’re up to! If you’d like to join the W.I.P. list, to share your stitch-along progress or share your other projects, just let me know!

UPDATE : I’ll be posting a finished-project round-up on Valentine’s Day, so be sure and send me your links!

recycled-heart-button

If you’re looking for some crafty ideas for Valentine’s Day gifts? Do you want to avoid buying more paper and plastic junk that will end up in the trash? Then visit Ellen at The Long Thread. She’s running a Recycled Valentine’s Day series with weekly links and ideas for great handmade gifts without adding more plastic and junk to our landfills.

Whatever Happened To Sunday Dinners? : Wild Rice, Mushrooms & Flageolets Verts Au Vin Blanc

In our continuing series of Sunday Dinners, I bring you some earthy yummieness I cooked up today. Born from the need to use the mushrooms and leeks that were in my fridge, this delicious dish was of the “stick to your ribs” type.

If you don’t care for or have a difficult time finding flageolets (which are a French green kidney bean), you could easily sub any mild-tasting bean like cannellini beans (which are the white Italian version of the same bean!). You can play with the proportions of wild rice to whole rice – I used my extra special wild rice stash sent to me from Libby in America! Lucky me.

Oh, and did I mention the wine? It sounds a little classier to say “au vin blanc” than to say “hey, there’s wine in it!”, right? Now pour yourself a little vino and get cooking!

thiswildmushroom

Don’t be deterred by the rather drab-looking photo, this is a flavourful dish with lots of depth and a hearty, toothsome texture thanks to the mushrooms. I tried to remember to write this down, but it’s not as precise as it could be so if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to let me know! I’m here for you!

Wild Rice, Mushrooms & Flageolets Verts

  • 1 cup wild rice
  • 1/2 cup brown/whole rice
  • 1 leek, top & tail removed and sliced into thin half-moons
  • 400-500g mushrooms I used crimini, cleaned & roughly chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves sliced thinly
  • 2 cup dry white wine 1 cup for you to sip while preparing your meal, the other is for the recipe (or veg broth would work, too if you’re sans vin.)
  • 2 cups cooked flageolets
  • salt, pepper, dried herbes de provinçe
  • a little olive oil
  • pine nuts (optional)

Cook your rice – if you’re rather organized you could rinse and soak over night, but if you’re not, don’t sweat it. I wasn’t that organized today, trust me.

While your rice is doing its thing, get to the veg prep. Heat a splash of olive oil in your pan and add the garlic, and when it’s fragrant add the leeks. Stir that around, and in a few minutes, add your mushrooms. If things seem a little dry you can add a few splashes of water. When the mushrooms are tender lower the heat and add the wine and spices and let this simmer – I think this was about 5 minutes or so. Now add your rice and your beans and cover. I had the heat on low and just let things simmer to share their flavours.

While this is happening you can toast your pine nuts in a dry frying pan – if you’ve never toasted your own pine nuts you’re missing out on one of the easiest and gratifying little tricks in the kitchen. Just add your pine nuts – I used a handful – and with a wooden spoon or spatula just shiggle them around so they don’t burn – you can lower the heat if you need to, don’t worry, you can always turn it back up. They’ll get all toasty and smell yummy.

And voila! In the interest of nutrition you should serve this with a green salad or a bowl of soup, but I didn’t do that. Today was one of those “feeling sorry for myself because I’m still not able to run or do much else” days. I’m also feeling helpless and terrible about the horrible war crimes happening in Gaza. My heart just breaks when I think about the families who have no water, electricity, can’t bury their dead with dignity…not even aspirin or antibiotics to give the wounded. I cannot help but feel embarrassed to be human.

We all stayed in our p.j.s all day and watched movies and I did a little crafty sewing. We were salad-less and I wasn’t up for making soup. Be a better vegan than I was and have a little something with this, ok?

Celine’s Chocolate Breakfast Cake & Happy Mail

chocolate-breakfast-cake

I love chocolate. I love cake. I love Celine.

I am a huge fan of any holiday, festival, day off, etc., but one of my favourite things about the Winter holidays is the relaxed, lazy mornings sipping coffee and hanging out in pajamas, munching on brunchy food and of course the goodies.

We were at my brother-in-law’s for les fêtes de fin d’année, and my in-laws once again gave me free reign of their kitchen. Love them! One of my breakfast contributions was Celine’s lovely Chocolate Breakfast Cake. Holy deliciousness, Batman!

breakfastcake-closeupMelty chocolate fantasticalness!

I love baking for omnis and hearing the ooohhs and awes as they feast on the cruelty-free goodness. This isn’t even as sinful as it looks, which is always good around the holidays! The chocolate flavour is dense, satisfying and it’s just sweet enough to feel like a treat, but the sweetness isn’t too much or an A.M. treat.

Speaking of sweet, check this out :

magnets

Like a million years ago I won these adorable magnets from the very talented Melanie of Creating Nunde. They arrived just before we left for the holidays, and I didn’t have a chance to snap a photo before leaving, so there they are! They look good enough to eat, don’t they? Thank you, Melaine!

And hey, speaking of giveaways (notice a theme here?) head over to Maggie’s Blog – she’s celebrating her blogaversary with a very sweet giveaway!

W.I.P. Wednesday : A Painting Lesson & Some Crewel

I want to learn to paint.

I’ve wanted to learn to paint for a rather long time, actually. I have always admired people who knew how to paint, and I wanted to give it a try. But I was afraid.

For some very confusing reason I had it in my mind that if you weren’t good at something, well, it was better not to do it. Weak attempts at new skills could lead to moments of embarrassment, being ill at ease amongst your classmates or even all out humiliation!

To buffer my feelings of inadequacy, I learned early on to announce to everyone that I was just terrible at art, and only produce half-efforts during my bi-weekly hour of state-required “art class” in grammar school. It’s a known fact that if you tell everyone you lack talent, it’s far less shameful to produce sub-par work, and who knows, you may even impress someone with an accidental success (but because it was surely a fluke so no pressure to re-produce the greatness).

When I entered middle school, Art was no longer required, and I came to terms with this lacunae in my life and manifested my artistic side with ballet, music and writing. Life was good.

Then one day, many years later, I realized I was a closet perfectionist (I literally gasped in horror when I saw the forest for the trees) and that I needed to allow myself make lots of mistakes if I wanted to be happy.

So, I openly admitted I wanted to learn to paint.

Enter my blogging friend Maria Rose from Little Things Are Big. An accomplished artist (check out her work), she generously proposed to teach me to paint. The quirky challenge to this is of course that she is in the United States and I am in France! With the help of her husband, Maria Rose is creating a series of virtual painting classes for me.

We talked about it and agreed these virtual lessons need to be shared with everyone! So here you have my first Painting Lesson. It would be great if you want to join in the fun! Do let us know if you’ll be painting with us. I’m really excited about learning to paint – what fun! I promise I’ll be sharing my progress, however unsophisticated, throughout this little artistic journey.

crewel

Here’s a cryptic little peak at what I’m working on from this wonderful book from my friend Natlaia. To be clear, this isn’t technically creweling because I’m not using wool thread, but cotton. I couldn’t wait to start a little something from this book, the patterns are so beautiful. And speaking of beautiful, go take a peek at Natalia’s amazing handiwork – she’s so talented!

If you’d like to be added to the W.I.P. List, please leave me a comment on the W.I.P. page – don’t forget, there’s no obligation to participate every single week! Play along when you’re feeling crafty!

Birthday Recap Time, Kids!

Thank you from the bottom of my little vegan heart for all of your love, electronic and virtual well wishes and other forms of birthday cheer. Birthdays are generally a very big deal for us- we normally celebrate “Birthday Girl (or Boy) Week”, but it’s been a bumpy little time here in Fishland, and my birthday was all but brushed under the rug – until some super friends and blogging buddies like YOU came along to make me feel all special and stuff. I won’t blather on, just know that I feel so grateful for you all. (Snif, snif).

It wouldn’t be a birthday without cake, right?

vwav-carrot-cake

This scrumptious carrot cake from Vegan With A Vengeance has been all over the blogosphere of late. I’m usually a lemon cake or tofu cheese cake kind of gal, but when I saw Virginia’s carrot cake from VWAV last week, I gave into the peer pressure. Know why I’ve never made it? I can’t find vegan cream cheese here, and I didn’t want to make it without “right” frosting! Sillyfish. I opted for an almond & coconut buttercream, which wasn’t too shabby. I added about 1/2 cup crushed pineapple to the cake (because for me, if a carrot cake is sans pineapple, it’s just a wanna-be) and used a little less pineapple juice – it worked out just splendidly!

Now for the gifts!

stylish-dress1

I asked Monsieur Fish for this Japanese Couture book from Pomodor24 (Highly recommend her! She has a shop on Etsy, too). He seemed incredulous and felt obliged to remind me I don’t read Japanese, but when I insisted that I’d be able to understand the diagrams and patterns, and that many other stitchy folks who lacked the Japanese skillz managed to sew some beautiful dresses from this book so why not me, he did acquiesce (though I didn’t know it! I was indeed a happysurprisedfish when I opened the mail). Look at how beautiful some of these are!

stylish-dress2

stylish-dress3

Now I just need to find me some perdy fabric and I will be all over this! That being said, have any of you made anything from this book? Cause, you know, it’s in Japanese! Ahem. I’ll figure it out, duh! (whispers: but you can email me if you’ve made something so I can see it on your blog & bug you with questions, right?). Whew.

And you need these to cut fabric for a new dress, right?

moms-gift

My sweet parents sent me these! They actually came in a few days before my birthday (meaning I’ve been able to use them) and man, they cut through four layers of cordoroy like non-dairy buttah, baby! Just shows you, getting by with any old tool is possible, but using the right tool for the job makes it so much easier!

I also received two very surprise gifts which made me feel so special!

new-crewel1A book, the new crewel : Excuisite Designs in Contemporary Embroidery by Katherine Shaughnessy. I made my way to the mail box thinking I’d find the light bill, but instead was this lovely book sent by my sweet friend Natalia!

crewel2

crewel3

My other suprise gift was a book card! Everybody’s favourite Texas Vegan Mum Krys, and her Two Vegan Boys, Arthur and Adam sent me a gift certificate so I can treat myself to one of my very favourite things – a book!

I am so moved by the friendships that have grown out of our little blogging community, and Natalia and Krys, you are both so special to me! And you made me feel special – hey, come on, group hug everyone! Thank you!