BitterSweet

An Obsession with All Things Handmade and Home-Cooked


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Jellyfish Season

Up until recently, I was blissfully unaware that a creature may proliferate during a specific season, just as a fruit or vegetable may have a small window of sudden abundance. That was, until a family of these gelatinous creatures descended upon my kitchen without warning.

Gravitating towards the fridge, they seem happiest near a readily available source of food, and seem wholly uninterested in moving on to warmer shores. Far from threatening and actually quite cheerful, I see no harm in letting them float about in the comfort of a safe environment. Miles away from pesky beach goers and without a care in the world, it may permanently be jellyfish season in these parts from here on in.

It couldn’t be easier to whip up a whole swarm of these sting-free softies. Simply print and cut out the template, trace the shapes on your desired color of felt, and carefully trim the fabric. Glue small eyes and embroider a happy smile on the plain head (without the tentacles). Use a matching color of thread to whip stitch the head to the head with tentacles, pausing as you reach the end to very lightly stuff it with batting. Glue a magnet to the back, stick it on the fridge, and admire your handiwork.


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It’s Tea Time…

If there were ever a time that my inspiration might wane, all I ever need to do is hop on over to see the latest issue of Desserts Magazine. A source of endless ideas, recipes, and unfailingly stunning photos, this is one online publication that seems as though it was designed just for me. Happily, there are always at least one or two vegan recipes as well, and many others can be easily adapted. It was such an honor to share my Meyer Lemon Bundt recipe for issue #7, but now, I have an even more exciting contribution to share…

The cover picture! Surprised to have been given such an important task, and even more so when the editor asked me to make a felt cake this time around. So while fake food may be adorning the cover this time, I promise that the contents are far more delicious.

You definitely wouldn’t want to miss this one, all about tea-infused sweets, so go check it out!


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Life is Like a Box of Chocolates…

Plain dark chocolate, mocha, strawberry-filled, mint, plain white chocolate, ricemilk, maple, and raspberry white chocolate. Such a vast selection could easily be overwhelming if not clearly marked, but perhaps the real surprise in this box of chocolates…

…Is that they’re actually not even edible!  What better gift for a sweetie watching their sugar intake, or a long-distance lover who might otherwise recieve puddles of melted truffles after a long journey through the postal system?  After already overdosing on so many Valentine’s delights, I think I might want to stick with this felt version for just a little while longer!


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Scary or Sweet?

Who knew that a confection as simple as candy corn could be the subject of such controversy? I absolutely adored the stuff as a kid, and really, what’s not to like- A simple, colorful candy that tastes primarily of sugar and very little else. Depending on your palate, I suppose that could be what inspires such hatred from detractors, and the soft, waxy texture may not do much to improve things, either. Still, this sweet little kernel deserves a break- A cheerful symbol of Halloween fun, it can even be vegan, if you have the patience to make it yourself.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have the patience this year… But that doesn’t mean I’m going to spend the holiday without any candy corn.

Regardless of your preference, this is one version of that classic candy that everyone can appreciate. It would be easy to whip up a whole bowlful of these felt sweets for decoration if you felt so inclined, or make two and turn them into earrings. I made mine into a magnet, and depending on what size you print the pattern out at, the options are pretty much limitless.

So if you’re interested in making some felt candy corn, click here to get the pattern. Print it out however big or small you’d like, and cut out the pieces on the color of felt that each part indicates.

To assemble, start by sewing one yellow bottom to one white piece; Line the bottom up over the bottom of the white piece, use a pin to secure it, and sew across the top with a whip stitch. Line up the middle orange piece right against that one, and sew along the bottom (in the same place that you just put your first line of stitches). Now sew up the top of the orange piece to secure it, and tie a knot at the back of the piece. Repeat with the other side. Embroider a face if desired. Line up the two pieces back to back, with the good sides facing out, and sew along the edges. If the white bits get in the way, feel free to trim them a bit so that the colors are continuous. Attach earring fixings, magnets, or whatever you please!


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Lazy Mornings

Still riding the last swell of the summer vacation wave, my daily routine is almost entirely the opposite of what I might have done last year. Still buzzing from caffeine, working into the long hours of the night, it takes a lot to finally close up the laptop and close my eyes. With my shift at work starting at 4:00, it’s almost reasonable to stay asleep for as long as possible, although now those times are stretching later and later into the morning, corresponding with my 3- or 4- am bed time. Waking up around 11 to an empty house, a comfortable quiet hangs in the air, as I slowly make my way into the kitchen, still clad in full pajamas for at least another hour. This may sound terribly lazy, but for the time being, this new routine seems to suit me just fine. Slowly sipping on coffee and contemplating the day’s tasks, the only thing that I might rather would be…

An appropriate lazy-day breakfast, perhaps! Of course, donuts are no longer a lazy treat, since I can’t just run out and pick up a box at the neighborhood Donking Donuts. Although it takes a bit of initiative to take on such a venture so “early” in the morning, it’s no trouble at all to whip up one or two felt donuts instead. Too bad that only satisfies the basic impulse, not so much my appetite!

What would you make for a lazy-day breakfast?


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Mac Attack

Food trends come and go, but there are some that just seem to take a hold of the general public and refuse to die out. Take cupcakes, for example; They may not be the run-away smash hit that they used to be, but you’d be hard pressed to find someone who didn’t foster at least an ounce of love for the miniature cakes. More recently, I’ve noticed a new player step up to the game, and while it’s taken some time for them to catch on to more mainstream venues in the US, I think they’re another tend-setter in the making. I’m talking about macarons, the French sandwich cookies typically made primarily of egg whites and almond meal. These aren’t your awkward, bumpy, coconut-laced macaroons that are more common of American bakeries, but instead elegant and refined morsels that come in every last flavor one could dream of.

For the longest time, I’ve sat back and watched as other bloggers whip up scores of these brilliantly colored and creatively flavored gems, and lacked the confidence to give them a whirl myself. At long last, after diving right in and experimenting with vegan alternatives, I’m thrilled to finally present to you my own version…

Okay, so they still need a bit of work in the flavor department, but look at those lovely feet! That perfect ratio of filling to cookie! They’re real beauties alright, and I can see how addictive they can be to create. With so many opportunities for creative variations, it’s hard to stop thinking about how to make the next batch, even after finishing a dozen.

Better yet, they’re so small, they’re truly a guilt-free indulgence! Yes indeed, macarons will definitely be sticking around, at least in my kitchen (and crafts!)

**Edited to add: These are indeed made of felt.  I didn’t think I really needed to clarify after categorizing this post under “sewing,” but it seems that more people than usual are missing that small detail.  I’m flattered that anyone would think my stitches are that well hidden!


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You Know You’ve Been a Bad Blogger When…

…Your own mother suggests that you should post something already. Yikes, I am just riddled with guilt over this- Has it really been almost two weeks? Final exams consumed my brain and free time, forcing me to abandon all conscious thought that didn’t involve either statistics or “logic” (Which, in case you were considering signing up for, is the worst class EVER. You would be better off sticking your head in the ground and seeing how many earth worms crawled up your nose in the course of a semester instead.) But anyway… School’s out for the summer, I’m back at home with my lovely family and kitchen, and the dust has begun to settle again. Thanks go out to all of the sweethearts who left comments and worried emails about my disappearance; I promise not to do it again!

Besides the mind-numbing studying and essay writing for my finals, the worst part of the whole ordeal was having absolutely no time for myself. It got to a point where I couldn’t even spare 30 minutes to go run down to the grocery store and pick up food, let alone cook it. I ate far more saltine crackers than I’d care to admit, and I’d be perfectly happy to never ingest another one again. In the minutes between classes, my mind would wander to getting something better to eat, and thus translated into a creative outlet- If I couldn’t have delicious food inside my fridge, I would just have to put it on the outside!

Although it didn’t do much to sooth my stomach, their smiling faces did cheer up my otherwise stressful and frustrating days. I want to share a bit of that happiness with you guys, because I can’t thank you enough for your patience and kindness. It’s a very simple craft that kids might enjoy as well, so I hope you will do likewise and share around. They’re so easy to make, even a rushed college student in the middle of finals can finish them!

First of all, download the template and print it out. Cut all of the pieces out and grab some felt.

For the apple, orange, and pear, cut 1 leaf out of light green and cut 2 of the main body out of the appropriate color of felt. Embroider a face into on one of the main pieces. Use a whip stitch to sew both pieces together, right sides out, and add just a tiny bit of stuffing in between. When you come to the top, stick in a short scrap of brown or green yarn for the stem and the leaf right next to it. Sew them in as you go around the perimeter of the shape. Tie it off, bury the knot, and use either hot glue or crazy glue to attach a magnet to the center of the back. Let dry.

For the banana, cut 2 of both the banana peel and main body. Embroider a face into one piece of the main body, and then sew to the other using a whip stitch, right sides out, with a tiny bit of stuffing in the middle. Take the peel pieces and sandwich the main body in the middle, and sew around the edges of the peel. Stitch the peel across the body where it covers it to attach, tie tightly and bury the knot. If desired, cut two tiny rectangles of brown felt and glue them to the very bottom to make a “stem.” Glue two small magnets to the back (so that it isn’t unbalanced or falls off your fridge) and let dry.

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