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Archive for the ‘Homemade crafts and gifts’ Category

I am so excited about this Christmas. Germany definitely breeds the Christmas spirit with its busy Christmas markets, fresh white snow, and variety of Christmas traditions. What it doesn’t foster is that crazy Christmas materialism that so often comes in the US. Instead, I have been sweetly knitting gifts and crafting thoughtful tidbits for the people I care most about.

Here are the ravelry links to what I have knit; these could all be whipped together in one night if you were a quick knitter (unlike me):

 

Gingerbread House Kit

Label from Giverslogs

 

 

My coworkers are getting little gingerbread house kits. The idea and recipe are from Martha, but the label was adapted from the Giverslog. These are easy to make and could be pulled together in one evening. I hope they like them.

Merry Christmas.

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I love breakfast. Actually, you will notice most of my posts here are about breakfast. And here is yet another revelation for your mornings – overnight oats.  They taste refreshing almost like a smoothie or pudding, but they are so easy and healthy. The idea is simple: combine oatmeal, milk, half a banana-mashed, and vanilla; set in the fridge overnight — wake up to breakfast. The oats are eaten cold, which might sound strange, but is truly delicious.

There are a bunch of recipes out there. I based my recipe off of the Oh She Glows recipe.  Non-vegan overnight oatmeal varieties can be found here.

Overnight Oats

1/2 cup oats
3/4 soy milk
1/2 large banana or 1 small
dash of vanilla extract

Directions:

Mash the banana. Combine ingredients. Leave overnight in the refrigerator. Enjoy.

A few notes about my ingredients. I only had “tenderly” cut oats, which are rolled oats, I think, but this works with regular oats. It just won’t have the pudding consistency. I also would love to try using almond milk, but I just can’t find it here.

Unrelated, I just finished another knitting project. It was another dishcloth from Wools Happenin. She had a pattern for a monogrammed K dishcloth and I couldn’t resist. Unfortunately, I only had pink yarn in my stash (leftover from the bunny project). Still, it makes a nice dishcloth or hot pad. I am going to make one more dishcloth, but then I am going to move onto something bigger and better.

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I love granola bars or more specially protein bars. It boils down to this: I’m a girl of habit and I’m not a morning person. So granola bars are perfect. They are my morning staple. Through the years, I have gone through some phases. I loved the crunchy granola bars, cliff bars, homemade granola, but here in Germany there really aren’t many options. There are tons of muesli options, which I do like, but requires doing dishes afterwards. There just aren’t a lot of option for breakfast bars. The only widely available option is called “corny”– with no granola in it at all.  So this week’s challenge was to make something delicious, filling and easy — that wouldn’t need to be supplemented by scrambled eggs like last weeks ginger scones.

I started with this granola bar recipe from smitten kitchen (found via domestifluff and originally adapted from King Arthur). I made some changes, partially because of what was available here in Germany and partially cause, well, I made some mistakes that actually ended well.

Rather than copy the recipe here with my simple changes, just follow the links above, but keep my substitution in mind. I didn’t have a food processor so I substituted “oat flour,” which is just processed oats, with finely ground coconut (readily available here) and two tablespoons of wheat flour.  For dried fruits, I used 1 cup chopped prunes. For nuts, I used a package of “salad seeds” which included pumpkin seeds *highly recommended,*  sesame seeds, and sunflower seeds. After baking, I realized these are too sweet and a little too thick, so make your own call, but maybe less than a 1/2 cup of sugar and thinner. With a wax paper or tin foil lined pan, these come out really easily. Just cut them up when cooled and enjoy.  I know, I will.

Hopefully, they will make it so I can enjoy more sleep and have a hearty breakfast. These bars could have saved me on Friday, when I woke up a 5am for work/breakfast and stayed out until 4am. Ug.

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So, what’s happened in my life? My sister had her beautiful baby boy.

And I got offered a job in Germany. The kind of opportunity that you don’t even hesitate accepting because right away you know it’s going to be great. So, the last few months, I got rid of most of my belongs: sold my car, donated tons of clothes, and gifted some of my fabric stash. Pairing down my things has been both freeing and frustrating. And now, that I am living with just one suitcase worth of belongings (and a furnished apartment) I can hardly imagine why I needed so much.

I’ve still been crafting and cooking. It’s a nice way to fill the down time.

A gift for my new coworker’s daughter using the bunny nugget pattern. She sweetly invited me to Easter.

A little heart dishtowel for the house. From this tutorial.

Both of these projects were really fun. Since I left my sewing machine in storage, knitting is my new hobby. I am a very basic knitter, but these were easy enough. I have to admit the heart dishtowel took a little bit too much thought and time for me. (It was my first time with a purl stitch.)

But the bunny was a blast. I think, next up is Rebbeca Danger’s “monster chunks.” It would make a good ball to throw around my new classroom.

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Picture from Paper Source

I have lusted after these flowers for years and finally shelled out the $17 for the Paper Source kit. When I opened it, I was a little disappointed. The whole process is pretty simple. I could have thought of it on my own. Plus you get a grab bag of colored paper, which may or may not be the colors you like. (I got lots of brown and chartreuse.) Still once I got started I fell back in love with these paper source flowers. And now that I have the pattern I can buy generic paper, floral tape and wire and make as many as I want.

They are really easy to make and so beautiful. We are going to use them at my sister’s baby shower. Some will serve as centerpieces — two flowers and one adorable stuffed animal. Others will line the ceiling with the streamers. I think they’ll look so cute. The question is: will I have enough patience to make 50? 25? 15? I have five so far.

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Thank you Grace for brightening my morning and reminding me that even in fall, the sun shines. This morning Grace from Design Sponge posted a video about making sunprint fabric. I had no idea such a thing existed. Here is the video

You can buy the fabric online here. I am going to call our local fabric superstore (Fabric Depot) and see if they have it in stock because I don’t think I can wait for the sunprint fabric to arrive in the mail.

I can just see a beautiful tote. Or a wonderful silk pillow on my bed. Or a cute new print for my wall. So many beautiful possibilities. I don’t think I’ll be able to resist… even if the fabric is $18 a yard.

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I have been sewing like crazy this week. It started on Sunday night. I made my favorite kind of reusable grocery bag. Next week, I’ll talk about that. This week, I installed my first zipper. Maybe it’s something small, but to me it was as daunting as installing a toilet.  Turned out perfectly. Despite the confusion the explanation from Sewing for Dummies caused. I loved three bear‘s tip about using an extra long zipper. I used her bag tutorial. The bag was a total flop, but the zipper… ahh it was perfect.

My problems with the bag: I doubled the size and because of its construction it looked wonky. At that size it also needed a handle and maybe interfacing. (completely my fault) I made it again in the suggested size and it’s tiny. I am not sure it would hold half my daily makeup. But it is pretty cute and I have gotten a bunch of compliments on it. It hold one ball of yarn nicely.

As for the other projects, they’re gifts. I’ll tell you about them after they have been gifted.

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