Saturday, October 9, 2010

A Baby Shower Gift Set

I'm going to my first ever baby shower for my cousin's first child. I wanted to make a special gift and found this wonderful gift set tutorial. It was really easy especially for me since I had absolutely no experience in making items for babies.


I used a Butterfly Princess Fabric and binded it with a beautiful cream dots fabric. It has plush pink minky on one side and I also added a layer of batting for stability.  Then I added my own personalized hang tag.


The burp cloths were crafted from both fabrics and a pink terry cloth fabric on the back. I also added batting to make it thicker but it didn't really need it.


I made 2 bibs since I loved these.  I did add some pockets on the bottom because I had extra fabric. Instead of velcro I used pearl snap buttons. Terry cloth is on the other side but no batting as I didn't want it to be too thick.


I appliqued the onesie with a bird cut from the polka dot material.


I  just put it all in a gift basket, added a couple of toys, and have a complete personalized handmade gift.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Top 25 Best Beauty Products That Work for 2010!

For face, body and hair, not including cosmetics, some are budget, some definitely are not. Some are available here in the US, some were imported from Europe. If I could publish the marie claire list and talk about what changes my life, then these are in my top 25... (in no particular order as each is needed equally)

1)  Phytonectar bain d'huile with egg yolk oil for hair.  This brought me back from some serious damage once and I'll always have it around.  $55

2)  La Roche-Posey Hydraphase Masque. I use this mask as a nighttime moisturizer in the winter. I brought as many as I could back from my last trip to Paris but just recently my Mom cleaned me out.  Caudalie Moisturizing cream mask is a good alternative though. $5/small packet

3)  Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Body Wash. Recommended to me by my aesthetician. She swears by it's gentle ingredients and she's right! Nice scent too. $7


4)  Trader Joe's moisturizing cream, unscented. Perfectly thick and only $3.50

5)  Duri polish in baby bottom. A high quality polish that makes the perfect french nail. It's remains shiny and last and lasts. Their Rejuvacote base coat is excellent as well.  Based in Brooklyn, NY but those of us on the West Coast can find it online for $4

6)  Garnier Clean & Fresh Gentle eye make-up remover. The best remover I've ever used. Absolutely not greasy and it removes everything. Only found it in Europe.  Brought about 30 of them home from my last trip.  Have emailed company begging them to please sell in US. $6.
.

7)  C Booth Glycolic Acid Skin Resurfacing Solution. When you're older, this is something you need. A wonderful peel for only $15


8)  Old school Vaseline. Nothing beats it for dry soles on feet. Put it on under socks and have nice soft feet. And the price is right. $3

9)  Paul Mitchell Paddle Brush. Been buying it since I was 18 to keep my mop in shape. I can detangle my hair in three swipes. It has been $11 for at least 20 years.

10)   Honey House Bee Bar Lotion. Perfect and portable lotion. I like to keep it in my pocket at work and it's honey scent is intoxicating. The tin is cute too. $8

11)  Tweezerman slanted tweezers. I absolutely obsess over my eyebrows. No small hair escapes this sucker. I have one in my make up bag, and one on my make up counter, and one in my travel bag. $20

12)  Pureology Nanoworks Shampoo. Heavenly scent. It's thick and creamy goodness doesn't fade color. It's worth every penny. $25


13)  Australian Gold 30 SPF spray gel. It's perfect that I don't have to rub my sunscreen in anymore. Now I just spray as I please. I'm sure to use it more often. Australian Gold has the best scent I've ever smelled. Worth it for $10


14)  Korres Guava Body Butter.  I keep some in the bathroom, kitchen, and my travel bag. I obsessed over these all natural products a long time ago.  I used to to bring Korres products home all the way from Greece. $26


15)  Korres 3 in 1 cleansing milk. The most incredible facial cleanser that also removes eye make-up. It leaves my skin feeling impeccably clean and soft. This Athens based company now has a US website that we can order from! $21

16)  Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat. Go ahead, try to buy some! It's usually sold out. I sometimes have to order some from my nail technician. In 3 minutes my nails are dry and shiny, and ready to go.  And it lasts! $8

17)  Boots No 7 Total Renewal Microdermabrasion Exfoliator. I was so excited that this London based company began exporting to our Target stores here in the US.  If only they would bring the Royal Jelly line too!.  Their Protect and Perfect Beauty Serum is great too! This exfoliator leaves your skin baby soft. It is comparable to the $50 brands at Sephora. There is no other for the price. $14

18)  Go Smile Home Teeth Whitening. Portable. Easy. Can just swipe it on your teeth and tastes minty. Can whiten teeth while quickly applying in the car. Yes please. I love it! $89

19)  Avene Ystheal + Cream. What a bargain to fight aging. It has 0.05% Retinol and leaves my skin feeling great.  I used to buy it by the truckloads in Paris at the Galeries Lafayette for $17. Now I get it here in the US online for $34

20)  Solar Care Moisturizing Sunscreen SPF 30. I've been using SPF on my face since I was 18. This is so moisturizing I don't see the need for added moisturizer in the morning. I get it from my aesthetician for $30

21)  Tigi S Factor Smoothing Lusterizer. Luster is right! My hair feels great after I put this on! $26

22)  Fekkai Glossing Conditioner. This whole line is incredible, and this conditioner fights frizz and smooths locks. I alternate between Pureology and Fekkai all the time. $21

23) Gillette Venus Embrace Razor. I can't believe I was suckered into buying yet another overpriced razor after the original Venus, but this is actually wonderful. It's bigger and smoother then the original Venus and almost worth the exorbitant price. I guess it's better then waxing. $9


24)  Lather Lip Conditioning Balm. Based in my hometown of Pasadena, California, it's packed with rich moisturizers like avocado oil, sweet almond oil, and macadamia nut oil. It's natural, smooth not sticky, long lasting and unscented.  Kiehls doesn't compare. $8

25)  Crabtree & Evelyn La Source Foot Smoother. I saved the best for last because this foot smoother has made such a difference in my life. When I wear sandals, I never have ugly soles. Here in California I use sandals everyday. Use a pumice stone when using this scrub and you too will have luxurious feet. A must must have! The hand scrub is wonderful too! $18

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Most Amazing Blueberry Muffins


When we finally decide to start eating healthy, we will stop eating things for breakfast like this amazing muffins. Not that they are really bad for you or anything, it has eggs just like any other traditional breakfast. It’s that these are just too hard to give up.  Making muffins from scratch is way too easy!!


Amazing Blueberry Muffins

1 stick (8 T.) unsalted butter
1 1/3 c self rising flour*
1 t. vanilla extract
1/2 c. sugar**
2/3 c. milk
2 large eggs
1 1/4 c blueberries (fresh or frozen)
brown sugar

*  if you prefer to use 1 3/4 c all-purpose flour then you can add 1 T. baking   power and 1/4 t. salt to the flour and sift together.
** if you like to omit the brown sugar topping then increase granulated sugar to  2/3 cup.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and butter a large 6 muffin tin or standard 12 muffin tin or use muffin cups.

Melt butter over stove or microwave in a bowl.



Add vanilla, sugar, milk, and eggs and combine. Mix in flour mixture.


Fold in blueberries using no more than 10 strokes. I used Trader Joe’s frozen Wild Boreal Blueberries from Quebec, Canada. They are all natural, free of pesticides and smaller then the curiously overgrown blueberries that you find in your local grocery store. I feel like you can get a lot of them in the muffin. My husband likes them very blue so I used 1/2 the 16oz bag.  Yeah! Very blue!


Pour into muffin cups. Top with brown sugar or you can top with a streusel. I think they are perfect with brown sugar but if you need more richness then here’s a streusel recipe I love.

5 T. melted unsalted butter
2/3 c. all-purpose flour
2/3 c. powdered sugar
1/4 t. cinnamon (optional)
pinch of salt

Put all ingredients in a medium bowl, mix with your fingers until the mixture is moist and crumbly.


Bake muffins until tops are golden, 19-23 minutes for large, 15-17 minutes for standard muffins.


Let cool for 10 minutes and transfer out of pan. Serve warm.




Variations:

1 1/4 c. boysenberries/raspberry mixture (another husband favorite)
3/4 c. walnuts
3/4 c. pecans
1 1/4 c. sliced strawberries
1 1/4 c. sliced peaches
2 T. fresh lemon zest
2 T. fresh orange zest
2 T poppy seeds
1 t. nutmeg, 1/2 t cinnamon

Oh and here's a shot after my husband cracked into one. It tastes just as good as it looks.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Apron Chic

There was a time when I wanted a modern and stylish apron, and everyone I knew wanted one for themselves as well. So I drafted a pattern and proceeded to gather my favorite fabrics. I started off with a hot pink daisy apron for one of my sisters with a matching pot holder. It has a flange bottom, cute pockets with bow, and lace trim. She loved it.


I was commissioned again when a different sister wanted a Christmas Apron so I used the same pattern and added rick rack. Another one is available in my store as well.


Then my friend too, of course, wanted one.  I still don't know how she knew about my apron making. She provided this lovely fabric and I added a waistline. Eyelet fabric made the straps and trimmed the inside of the pockets.


This one I gave to my aunt. I was making it for me but she pulled me aside one day and whispered..."you'll make me an apron too, right?" I agreed, but then she made me promise her so I gave her the one that I just finished. It was a beautiful Robert Kaufman cupcake fabric with eyelet trim and, my favorite, pockets.


I drafted a slightly different pattern keeping the popular flange at the bottom, this time adding bias tape around a lovely Loralie Designs Eiffel Tower fabric. This was to be for me finally, although a lady in my Mom's boutique saw it and promptly bought it. Alas, I will have one for me one day.
 

Thursday, September 9, 2010

French Market Bag Collection

I was feeling like using up my unbleached canvas material and started on a tote bag. The size and shape came out well. I just sort of improvised and did a simple box technique at the corners.  I call it a French market tote. To make it French, I needed to embroider something on it and I thought 'the market' would be perfect. Embroidering without an embroidery machine was easy. I just hand drew the words then zig zag stitched on top of it. A gingham lining finished my French Market tote. Of course these items ended up in my shop.



I had a canvas bag that I never used and just repurposed it into a French Market zippered pouch embroidered with 'a small bag' on front and lined with Amy Butler's Cypress Paisley in Blush.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Peach Hand Pies



I had some leftover white peach preserves that I had made earlier and decided to use my favorite galette recipe to make hand pies. I lived in NYC for 11 years, and in the east coast they say things a little differently. Instead of dolly, they say hand truck. Instead of turnover, they say hand pie. To this day I still call turnovers hand pies. It's nice to have some dough ready in your freezer.




Galette dough: makes enough for 10 hand pies (can store in freezer for 1 month)

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 sticks chilled unsalted butter, cut in pieces
1/4 cup to 1/2 ice water

Place flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer or food processor or simply use a pastry cutter. Add butter to flour mixture and process until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add ice water in a slow steady stream just until dough holds together. Turn the dough out onto a work surface. Divide into 2 equal pieces and place on 2 separate sheets of plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before using.



I used 1 half of this recipe and separated the dough into 5 equal pieces. Roll the dough and cut into a 4-6 inch circle. I chose 6 inches and used a bowl as a cutting guide. Transfer dough to baking sheet.


Fill one half with 2 tablespoons of fruit filling. You can use apples, cherries, plums, peaches, or berries. Cook the fruit with some lemon juice, sugar, and a little bit of flour or cornstarch. I used peach preserves that worked out perfectly.


Fold over and press edges with a fork. Cut a steam hole on top. Brush with an egg wash.


Sprinkle a course sugar on top such as turbinado. I only had granulated. Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes. So quick and tasty.