A piece a week – a wrap skirt for Urban Bike Riding

I found this very cool wrap skirt pattern from a vintage pattern scored at FabMo (you know that they have many treasures to find!). As I have a skort I found at REI that was good to ride in, I thought that a wrap skirt would do the biz. This skirt I embellished with some scraps I had for a bit of experimentation to mix up the dark grey corduroy. It is fully lined in gingham and since the first prototype I have added buttons and it sits more on the waistline which with an A line looks super cute! 
Fancy going for a ride!

As it turned out I took this skirt for a ride this week and it was a winner with having the wrap cover the front and not being too flappy in the winds due to the heavier fabric. I am planning to make more the FabMo show in October. I think with an element of sewing on your own buttons to custom fit the waistband.

The skirt with vintage buttons from my stash

I made this butterfly skirt ages ago from a dress I found at a thrift shop on the way to Mt Shasta. It was a vintage Hawaiian dress with a built in bra & halter neck- so not to my style at all. In the end I cut the skirt off as I love the print and made it into an elastic waist skirt. I took this skirt riding the other day in heels and it sat really well on the bike without any blown away skirt issue (I did not have any tights on underneath!) – so this is another winner I will implement in my range for the Fall!

Riding in a skirt and wedges – what fun! 

And to make the week extra special – being the first week with the kids back at school and my other half on a conference trip in Seattle I treated myself to this Thai Herbal massage – I remember these fondly when I spent time in Thailand. Sawadee is just down the road from our house and so convenient! It made me feel more grounded and after 10 weeks of looking after the kids it was time to look after Mama! After the massage I had sushi next door at Joy Sushi where I sat at the bar and had a very tasty well made vegetarian roll with brown rice with a fresh salmon sake nigiri and to top it off – the service was very fast for lunch, I think I will have to go again. As I don’t wander my local strip mall too often I discovered a hair & nail salon run by some very friendly Vietnamese women – I treated myself to a manicure and a pedicure and an eyebrow wax. There is no feeling like treating yourself to something good, it makes you appreciate these times and that they should be repeated often! So I was quite amazed at what I found in my local neighborhood strip mall!

I feel just like this Lucky cat! 

A piece a Week… NYE treats, a warm bulky knit hat and a Custom Draft Snake filled with Pinto Beans!

In continuation of ‘A piece a week’ from last year I am taking the challenge to projects that I am working on to expand my knowledge of making. So with my craft room fully organized this year I plan to make clothes from the fabric in my stash and see what I can create and of course, learn!
I made some delicious treats for NYE for our neighborly celebration. For dessert this is a riff on Chocolate Crackles made with a mysterious ingredient I cannot find here called Copha. So I looked through Super Natural Cooking and made these from the Peanut Butter Krispy Treats recipe. This is using Almond Butter and Cacao Rice Puffs and they are amazing!!

Cacao Rice Crackles

3/4 cup almond butter
1/2 cup maple syrup (the cacao puffs are super sweet)
1 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
2 1/2 teaspoons agar flakes
3 cups Cacao Rice Puffs
Combine almond butter, maple syrup, sale and agar flakes in a large saucepan over LOW heat and stir constantly until smooth, hot, melted and bubbling just a little BIT. Add the cacao rice puffs and stir until well coated. Transfer to individual baking cups using a tablespoon or more to fill. Refrigerate until completely cool, then enjoy! 
Makes around 30
Super tasty cacao crackles!
As the dinner was a eat what you like from the table type meal I made a broccoli cous cous with a harissa dressing which went down a treat. This was inspired by this recipe.
Broccolli Cous cous with the Harissa dressing on top – mix it through and it is perfect with smoked salmon and salad
The spread of tasty morsels on the table including a babaganoush dip, cheeses, olives for snacks
How can I forget the cocktails – this mint inspired vodka cocktail is from a recipe I found on Food and Wine making the base sugar syrup with the herbs and adding extra vodka and lemon pieces when serving – refreshing and you can drink a fair amount and be very happy! 
Vodka lemon mint cocktail
The kids were enjoying the time by the fire and eating popcorn with nutritional yeast and watching Elf – I have to thank my friends for recommending it as the best holiday film ever! The kids all loved it very much 😀
Super warm
Popcorn with nutritional yeast – oh so good!!
The night was complete success with our neighbors leaving around 9:30 very happy and ready to get their kiddos into bed though our pair were so keen to stay up until midnight so lucky for us we had some holiday films to get through with Santa Paws and cat videos on YouTube!
Happy New Year to all!!
We had a busy New Years day with catching up with friends for brunch, lunch and dinner and in between a bike ride to Shoreline. A wonderful start to 2015!
As it was the last weekend before school was back into the swing of things we decided to go for a drive to Elkhorn Slough to check out some wildlife – sea otters, birds and whatever else we might find. We went prepared after our chilling hike last week and the weather turned out to be absolutely stunning with sunshine and warmth. Such a perfect day for a walk in a very peaceful part of the world. We spotted a sea otter cleaning himself through this super scope and borrowed binoculars from the visitor center who were full of information. 

Checking out the sea otter!

Hang on and don’t fall in the mud

Selfie with a background sign

Sea otter skeleton at the visitor center

After our walk of about 4 miles we were pretty hungry and decided we wanted to check out Phil’s Fish Market. Man we waited and waited in line for maybe one hour and we were just about to faint when there was the cashier! Thank goodness we ordered and sat down outside with the aggressive seagulls and our food was with us in about 15 minutes. We ordered sardines with a lemon and caper sauce, a salmon burger, chowder in a bread bowl and the kids had fish and chips and squid and chips. What a feast – there was no dinner for us when we got home! I would say this place is well worth the wait and judging by the line even when we left it does not matter what time you get there, this place is very popular. According to the guy we were chatting to in the line Phil’s has been in Moss Landing for over 20 years and has always been excellent. Oh and keep a lookout for the black cat near the boat.

The freshest fish in Moss Landing

Entertainment with the fisherman

 I knit a bulky hat for our walk as last time we were hiking it was super cold – this time I did not necessarily need this as it was warm and sunny but I could not take it off because of hat hair! This hat is super comfy and warm and made from a hand spun merino my friend gave me from Australia – I love it! Super easy to knit up and fast as well.

With Mr Ash who enjoys Selfies!
Our farewell to Moss Landing

 A friend of mine at school ordered a custom snake at the holiday boutique and wanted it as a draft stopper so I filled it with a pound of pinto beans in between the stuffing! Here it is ready to go to it’s new home!

‘Drafts be gone!’

Oh and how can I forget our last day of the holidays and a ride to Shoreline again – 8 miles with the kiddos going at their pace still worked my legs! We stopped for a ice cream and sweets and headed back home in the cool evening air. We found this friendly ground squirrel wanting a snack!

Hanging at Ground Squirrel HeadQuarters at Shoreline

52 week project – Sri Lankan Cookbook – Milk Toffee

This post is super late as the first time I tried this I burnt the sugar and I felt somewhat perturbed about trying it again! Today with a bit of time and confidence I felt let’s go and did it as the week is flying by – yet again! I have had this as a treat throughout my life as we used to buy it from friends who made it. It is quite time consuming and you have to definitely keep watch over it as the sugar will burn and then your pan will be a great mess. Oh and when you finish this recipe and all the sticky residue is left behind in the pan just boil some water in it to clean it out – good as new. Certainly other internet advice was to put bleach in the pan – I don’t think so!

So here is the recipe with a little help from my daughters teaches mum in Sri Lanka, an Australian website and some videos I finally got it to come together and it tastes delicious too – especially with a cup of tea.

Milk Toffee

Mellow out with some Milk Toffee in the afternoon

300g / 10 oz brown sugar (to give the rich colour)
300ml / 10 oz or a small tin of condensed milk
3 tablespoons water
30g / 1 oz chopped – not to fine as you want a bite – cashew nuts (mine went missing as someone ate them all so I substituted with Pecans)
1 teaspoon Vanilla


1. Combine the sugar with the water and place pan on medium heat until the sugar begins to dissolve. Do not stir once on the heat as the sugar will crystalise. Prepare a 20cm or smaller square baking tray with parchment paper and baking spray.

2. Once the sugar is melted, pour in the condensed milk and keep stirring till it becomes thick and gooey and takes on some colour. It takes usually around 20 minutes so set your timer once you start stirring. Let the mixture bubble away till it starts leaving the sides of the pan. I made sure that it did not burn by using my candy thermometer and making sure the temperature did not go over 118 degrees C or 245 degrees Fahrenheit.

3. About a minute before the mixture comes off the heat, add the chopped nuts and vanilla and mix well till combined.

4. Once the mixture is ready, pour into the baking tray and spread it so it is even, and set aside to cool for around 5 – 10 minutes. You don’t want the mixture to set completely as you will not be able to cut neat pieces of toffee. Slightly unset in the middle is a good indicator to start cutting the mixture.

In the baking tray with marks ready to cut

A Spring Craft Party

Spring baskets for my daughter 4th birthday

These are the little felt baskets I have made as goody bags for my daughters birthday this weekend – they are made from a wool felt with some gorgeous colours found from etsy.com. I found the pattern here and got sewing away with my new favourite toy my sewing machine. I love the crafty ideas on the maya made blog so a big thank you! There will be some treats and crafts made my the kiddos to take home in the basket with them – I am trying to rid myself of all the plastic and what better place to start than at my own party!