November 22, 2015

DIY Cute Needle Minders

I have always had a soft spot for embroidery, especially cross stitching, but had never given it a try before. It all changed when I bought a Mollie Makes magazine and got a beautiful cross stitch flower kit. I promised myself that flower would be my first attempt at cross stitching. They say it is never too late to try a new thing, right?

I started my new project last week, or at least I tried. Most of the time I spent looking for the needle, or trying to thread the needle.

Like my glasses, I have the terrible habit to put needles where I can't find them later.

I was about to give my new project up when one day, browsing for tutorials on the internet, I read about something completely new to me - a needle minder.
I've never seen, or heard about it before (remember, I'm so new to the embroidery world), and when I saw a super easy diy needle minder on youtube, I gathered all the supplies and had fun making my own pretty ones.

Make sure to buy strong magnets. You will need 2 magnets for each needle minder - one that is glued to the back of the cover button, and one that you put on the back side of your project to hold the minder.

I used Gorilla glue, but I believe any strong glue will do it.

The cover button kit I bought includes a round template to cut the fabric out, but I did not use it. I cut a 2x2 piece of paper and use it as my template.

  • Center fabric, wrong side up, over the mold and press button shell into mold. Turn mold over and adjust fabric if image is not centered.
  • Tuck fabric into button shell.
  • Place back over tucked fabric and press down firmly with pusher to snap into place.
  • Glue a magnet to the back of the cover button.  

This diy caught my attention not only because it's easy and quick to make, and very useful when we are stitching, but the cover buttons can be used on inspiration (mood) boards as well, adding some whimsy to it. Don't you agree?

November 11, 2015

Home is where my plants are

I don't follow trends per se. I like to know what is happening out there, new ideas, new concepts, and get inspired by them, but I'll never buy an item, a product just because it is popular at the moment.

Like indoor plants. For a few decades they have been abruptly removed from inside the houses and put back outside. Bad taste to have them. Really? Well, I've never followed that trend. Since I moved out from parents home, I've had all kinds of greenery surrounding me. Plants are alive, they make any room look happy and cozy.

It's time to reclaim the idea of indoor plants. In fact, the indoor plant trend is in full swing again, and I believe two people have been considerably responsible for this idea. Judith of and Igor of Happy Interior Blog, with their project called Urban Jungle Bloggers.

I feel at home when I visit UJB. So many beautiful rooms, so many good ideas.

Every month they come up with a new theme for bloggers to style up their homes with plants. How cool is that?

This month's theme is to get creative and style up shelves at home with plants.

I have plants all around my home, not in the bedrooms, I must say. In the winter, even the garage window sill holds some succulents.

Growing indoor plants is easier than having an outdoor garden. They not only help clean the environment around them, but they are a pretty and alive decorating item.

Pop up at UJB to get inspired and join the fun. 

November 6, 2015

"I'd rather wear
flowers in my hair,
than diamonds
around my neck."

October 29, 2015

Coconut Candies - Beijinho

They are creamy, they are gooey, almost addicted. They are pure sweetness. Do yourself a favor and go make these Coconut Candies, known in Brazil as Beijinho, or Little Kiss.

These decadent coconut candies are a surprisingly easy-to-make treat, it's love at first bite. 

The process of making these Coconut Candies is similar to the ever popular Brigadeiro, they all start with a can of sweetened condensed milk, but instead of chocolate, to make Beijinho we use coconut.

Originally, these candies are rolled in sugar, but you know me, I really love coconut.

As Halloween is around the corner, I tried to make them look fancier and halloweeny (is this a real word ?!), like these orange pumpkins I made last year.

My idea was to make them look like white pumpkins, so I coated a few with pearl glitter crystals, and placed a clove upside down to resemble stem.

Although they did not ended up with the look I expected, I had fun making them, and that counts too, right?

Coconut Candies - Beijinho
Makes about 35 candies

1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 tbsp butter - keep some room temperature butter handy to grease a plate and your palm hands later
4 tbsp shredded coconut
flaked coconut - for decorating
whole cloves - to embellish

Bring sweetened condensed milk and butter to a simmer over medium-low heat, add the shredded coconut.

Stir constantly, this is important, until the mixture becomes thick and shiny, and starts to pull away from the bottom and sides of the pan.

Remove from heat, and immediately pour the mixture into a plate greased with butter. The mixture needs to be cooled off completely before being rolled into small balls.

Place coconut flakes in a shallow bowl. Lightly rub some softened butter on your palm hands, and using a teaspoon scoop out the mixture and roll it into small balls between your palms.

Coat each ball with coconut flakes, place them in small paper candy cups, and stick a clove into each one of the candies just to embellish them.

October 18, 2015

Making an Apple Galette and a day of Wonders

It was one of those perfect Fall days in Connecticut, when the sky is blue, the air is crisp, and a bright and gentle sunshine makes everything glow around you, that we decided to go apple picking, and we have been cooking all sorts of old and new apple recipes ever since.

The first time I experienced Autumn in Connecticut I remember thinking how magical Nature is, and how blessed I was to be here. I still feel the same. Grateful.

The colors, the light. The multicolored leaves bursting with golds, reds, oranges.

It is a a special time of the year. It is spectacular, and takes my breath away.

When we got back home, Brady baked his traditional apple pie.

The sweet and tart aroma of fresh baked pie mixed nicely with brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg filled our home with a cozy, warm scent, as always.

"Will you make it again?" I asked him. So he did, and soon afterwards I baked my first apple galette.

What is a galette? Well, I asked that myself and found out that basically a galette is a free-form pastry baked without the stability of a pie pan or a tart ring.
In a few words, a galette is a rustic pastry with hand-folded edges, virtually formless hence so easy and quick to make.

At the beauttiful orchard we visited, we found apples and pumpkins galore, we picked a variety of apples that later turned into pies, cider, galettes, or we just had them as they come, delicious and healthy sweetness.

In Litchfield county, it seems there are farms at the corner of every back road, places where we can go pick our own produce, buy raw milk, goat cheese, fresh eggs direclty from the farmers, or sign up for cooking classes, wine tasting, horsebacking riding.

As we drive along the roads we are spellbound by gorgeous-looking horses, curious-face sheep, lots of cows, cute donkeys, chicken and roosters running freely, and it's hard to remember we are just a couple of hours from New York City.

There are many reasons why fruits and vegetables should be eaten in season, but the basic reason to me it's because when they taste their best, and if you want an easy, straightforward apple dessert, this is the perfect recipe.

You can use a pie crust of your choice, of course. You can even use a good store bought one, if you prefer.

Apple Galette
Makes about 4 servings

1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp sugar
1/8 tsp salt
6 tbsp cold butter, diced
4 tbsp cold water

4 apples - peeled, cored, and thinly sliced (save peel and cores) I used pink lady apples
juice of 1 lemon
2 tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp brown sugar
1 cup water
drops of vanilla, to taste

Mix together the flour, sugar and salt. Add the diced butter and work the dough with your hands until it becomes crumbly and slightly tacky. Add the water and mix until it's smooth but not completely smooth. It should have a crumbly texture.

Wrap dough in plastic film and refrigerate for about 30 minutes, or until easy to handle.

In a bowl, toss the apples with lemon juice and cinnamon.

In a saucepan, combine apple cores and peels, add sugar, water, vanilla. Simmer for a few minutes until color turns into a caramel color, and hints of sweetness fills the room.
Remove peels and cores.
Pour the syrup over the apples tossing them.

Preheat oven to 375F.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
On a slightly floured surface place refrigerated dough and let it rest for about 5 minutes.
Roll it out into a circle, and carefully transfer dough to the baking sheet

Overlap the apple slices in the middle of the dough from about 2 inches from the edge
Fold the dough edges over the filling, leaving the center uncovered.
Sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon over the apples and dough edge.

Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown. Slide tart, using the parchment paper, onto a wire rack.

Once cooked, let the galette cool to room temperature. You can have it plain, or with cream or ice cream.

October 9, 2015

Have a wonderful weekend!

Sapo jururu na beira do rio
sapo quando canta, ó maninha, é que está com frio.
A mulher do sapo, deve estar lá dentro
fazendo rendinha, ó Maninha, pro seu casamento.
cantinga de roda (minha versão :))

Bom final de semana!

October 6, 2015

Simple Orange & Mint Macerated Berries

Summer has slowly faded away, crisp air, chilly mornings, the leaves are burning up in reds, oranges and yellows, time for sweaters and boots, but... look at these gorgeous-looking strawberries. I took this picture on September 29! 

I bought this pot in an organic farm in the middle of Spring, I was told to keep it in a sunny spot, but it was doing very poorly. About a month and a half ago I placed it in an area where it would get just the morning sun, and now look at this beauty, it keeps blooming even tough it should be gone by now.

So I had to do it again, I had to take more pictures of them. 

I hope you love them as much I do because I feel I am on a real fresh strawberry mood

I was surprised, however, how juicy and sweet and flavorful they still were, so I decided to prepare them in a simple and light way - I made an Orange and Mint Macerated Berries, where my homegrown strawberries were the star, and had it over homemade yogurt for breakfast, just because I never get tired of strawberries!

Orange & Mint Macerated Berries

♥ Fresh strawberries, raspberries and blueberries
♥ orange zest
♥ orange juice
♥ brown sugar
♥ some fresh mint leaves

Cut half of the berries in half. Place whole berries and berry halves in a bowl,
add orange juice,
add brown sugar,
add orange zest - do not add much otherwise it will be bitter,
add some mint leaves

Cover and chill for about an hour. Before serving remove the mint leaves.

A deliciously easy and healthy way to satisfy any sweet tooth.

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