Handmade Gifts

A bunch of my friends got married this year, and another is having a baby in December. It has been a great opportunity for crafting! I have handmade something for each of them.

First, for the four bridal showers I attended, I bought everyone pottery and knit them each a hand towel and two dish cloths. The pattern is from Mary Maxim and my grandma has been using it for years. She makes these every Christmas as gifts. I made another set for a buck and doe prize basket as well, and you think I’d be sick of making them, but I really like making these! I used a few different cotton yarns, and tried to pick a colour specifically for each girl that I thought they would like.

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Our first set of friends got married in August. I cross stitched a wedding sampler for the bride and groom. I even framed it myself… which is not something I want to do again. This photo isn’t great, but it was a 5″ x 7″ pattern (if I remember correctly) in quite a bit larger frame. It is a Gold Collections pattern, which is my favourite cross stitch brand.

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Next, we had a September wedding. I knit pillows for them from this pattern. They were simple and knit up very quickly. This was my first attempt at knitting pillows and now I want to make new covers for all the pillows in our apartment! These were knit with Patons Decor, which is nice and soft.

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The last wedding was my best friend’s, and it took place last weekend. I was the maid of honour, and wanted to give her something special, so I decided to knit a blanket. I saw this “Lucky Horseshoes Throw” pattern in the Mary Maxim catalogue and thought it was exactly her style. It was super fun to make as well and I LOVED the end result! This was knit with Mary Maxim Aran Irish Tweed yarn, which knit up quite nicely for being on the cheaper end of the yarn spectrum.

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Lastly, the first of our friends to have a baby are due in December! I am so excited, I love babies and think our friends will be awesome parents. I can’t wait to meet their new addition, and I think I’ll probably be making quite a few things for him or her. For my friend’s baby shower yesterday, I knit the very popular owlie sleep sack and hat. There are tons of photos of this set online, and I can see why it’s so popular – it’s quick to make and absolutely adorable. I used “Diamond Luxury Tradition” yarn in “Azure” and I loved it! The quality was excellent and it knit up super nicely. It’s also machine washable which is nice for baby clothes. I am making this again for a friend at work whose daughter is having a baby later this winter, and I’m looking forward to using this yarn again.

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Phew – there is my wedding/baby gift wrap up. All of these projects were so fun!

As a little bonus project, I also made a cowl for Andrew’s cousin’s birthday. It’s called “Tom’s Crossed Cowl” and I found the pattern on Ravelry. I think I’ll make this one again, it only took about two days from start to finish. I don’t love the quality of this yarn, but I do love the colour!

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Fast and Slow

I am officially obsessed with the new Skinnytaste cookbook I mentioned last week. It is absolutely amazing! I am testing out recipes all week. So far I’ve made three of the slow cooker recipes. I LOVE my slow cooker(s… I actually have three). They are easily my favourite kitchen gadget. My husband and I both work an hour from home in opposite directions, so we spend a lot of time driving. It’s awesome to come home to dinner ready, or at least partially ready.

The first recipe I made was “Stuffed Pepper Soup,” which is actually also on the Skinnytaste website as well as in the new book. I’ve been wanting to make this one for a long time.

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This soup is awesome! It actually tastes better than a stuffed pepper, in my opinion. It’s more tomato-y and so full of flavour. I loved it.

For dinner tonight, we had “Slow Cooker Hawaiian Pork Tacos with Charred Pineapple Salsa.”

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They were absolutely delicious, beyond words! The smokey pork flavour with the sweet salsa and vinegary cabbage was so fantastic. We’re having leftovers on Wednesday and I am already looking forward to it.

I made “Slow Cooker ‘Baked’ Oatmeal with Coconut, Blueberries, and Bananas” for breakfast this week as well, but I forgot to take a photo before I divided it into bowls. It was also excellent! I just can’t get over this book! I would recommend it to anyone. When you first start cooking from scratch, it can feel like you are endlessly buying ingredients. After a little while you’ll build up a collection and will have a lot more on hand.

Long Weekend

Thanksgiving weekend is one of my favourite times of the year. This year was especially perfect: the weather was cool and crisp, we went to Oktoberfest, we had a campfire, and… I got the new Skinnytaste cookbook!! Skinnytaste Fast and Slow is officially released tomorrow, but my mom found it on Saturday and picked up copies for both of us.

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This book is amazing. All of the recipes are either for the slow cooker or take less than half an hour to make. It’s perfect for anyone trying to cook more at home because it makes it so easy! I had already made my meal plan for the week by the time I got the book, so I won’t be making any of the recipes until next week.

I make lunches for my husband and myself on the weekends so they’re ready to go all week. For my lunch this week, I made Inspiralized Spicy Asian Chicken Turnip Noodle Soup.

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This soup is one of the best Inspiralized recipes I have ever made! It’s very simple but so full of flavour. I’m so excited that “soup season” is officially here, and I will definitely be making this one again.

I recently discovered The Lemon Bowl (from my mom, who also introduced me to Skinnytaste…are you seeing a trend here? We have very similar interests). I haven’t tried very many recipes yet, but for breakfast this week I made Healthy Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins. They smelled delicious and I can’t wait to try one tomorrow morning!

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Inspiralized: Chicken Tikka Masala with Butternut Squash Fettucine

Inspiralized is one of my all-time favourite food blogs. Ali Maffuci, creator of Inspiralized, has also published two cookbooks (“Inspiralized” and “Inspiralize Everything” – both of which I own) on top of tons of amazing recipes online. I usually make a spiralizer recipe at least once a week.

I have the Paderno three blade spiralizer:

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If you’ve never heard of spiralizing, it’s simple: using a spiralizer, you turn vegetables into noodles (or rice!) which can be eaten in place of pasta or used as part of a whole new recipe. I, along with many others, started out spiralizing zucchini (to make zoodles), but there are so many other vegetables you can use.

This week, I made Inspiralized’s Chicken Tikka Masala with Butternut Squash Fettucine. The butternut squash was spiralized with the thicker noodle blade to resemble fettucine pasta. Squash is definitely one of the more labour-intensive vegetables to spiralize: its skin is difficult to peel, and the hard flesh makes it a bit tricky to process through the spiralizer. The end results are definitely worth the work, though. This type of noodle is generally cooked on a pan in the oven, rather than on the stove.

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This recipe is definitely a winner!

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The flavours went so well together. The chicken was spicy which went great with the sweet butternut squash noodles, and plain Greek yogurt was mixed into the sauce at the end to add creaminess without using cream. It was also very filling. I’ll definitely be making this again!