Sunday, 29 April 2012

Mexico Part Three: Oaxaca!

It was a million years ago now, but I thought I might continue with my Mexico posts!

After Mexico city, Jack and I hopped on a bus and made our way on down to Oaxaca. Oaxaca City was one of my favourite towns in Mexico. It's so quiet and pretty and full of beautiful old colonial architecture.

On our first full day, we visited the Monte Alban Ruins, about ten Ks from the main town. I was excited for my first Mexican ruins, and was definitely not disappointed!

It was such a beautiful landscape - particularly the dry yellow grass contrasted against the bright blue sky.

On our second day in Oaxaca, we went on a tour with Fundacion En Via - a charity organisation who provide interest free micro-financing loans to women in the Oaxaca region. If you're anywhere near Oaxaca, I would definitely recommend going on one of their tours. All money raised from the tours goes directly towards providing more loans, and it is such a great experience. It really was a wonderful opportunity to see some of the villages surrounding Oaxaca City, as well as hear the local languages and understand a little bit more about local handcrafts.

On day three, we hopped up bright and early to take the bus to Llano Grande - a teeny village in the mountains, a few hours from Oaxaca city. We stayed in a sweet little log cabin and spent two days hiking, sitting by our smokey fire and sipping on bowls full of Oaxaca hot chocolate in the village's only restaurant (which happened to be in a family's lounge room).

We made our way back down the mountain to Oaxaca City that night, tired and sore from all of our hiking, and ready for tomorrow's beachy adventures!

Friday, 13 April 2012

DIY Pillowcase Bicycle Basket Liner!

I bought this pretty old sheet and pillowcase set a while ago on etsy. It’s so bright and happy. Practically made of sunshine. And it always reminded me of my bike. They’re both blue and yellow and a little old and faded. I'm planning on using the sheet to make a pretty summer dress!

Jack bought this lovely basket for me last year. While I love the sweet pink material, it’s getting a bit faded. I decided it was time for an upgrade! Perfect use for my pretty pillowcase!

Here’s what you need:

One pillowcase
A bicycle basket
A sewing machine
An overlocker if you have one

Begin by ripping your pillowcase apart, into one big piece of fabric. Place your basket on top of the fabric and trace around it onto the material. Of course, you could be a pro and use proper paper, but I’m a bit lazy. Cut your shape out. You won’t need to leave any extra fabric for seam allowance, as you traced around the outside of the basket, which is obviously a bit bigger than the inside. Next you will have to measure the sides of your basket. Begin by measuring around the top rim of your basket, from one side to the other. Mine was 55cm. Then measure the height of your basket. Mine was 25cm. Next, measure the bottom of your basket, from one side to the other. Mine was around 44cm. Add around 10cm to the height of your basket (mine becomes 35cm) and draw up the shape using your ruler. Leaving a few centimeters for seam allowance, cut out two of your side shapes.

You should have three shapes that look a bit like this:

You will then have to snip a wedge out of each the top hand corners of the side pieces. This is to allow room for your handles! Simply draw a straight line down, around 3cm from the top corner of your piece.

If you have an overlocker, serge down each side of your side pieces. Then, with the right sides facing each other, sew down the two edges. Do not sew the top parts where you snipped off the triangle.

Now you will have to pin your bottom piece to the bottom edges of your side pieces. Once they have been pinned in place, sew all along the edges. I went round with my overlocker as well.

Next, you should fold out the edges of the liner, in the top triangles where your basket handles will go. Press them down using your iron.

Now move on to the top of your liner. Fold the raw edge over once, leaving a very small amount of fabric. Then fold it over once more, leaving more room – approximately 2cm. Sew along the edge. This is where you will pop your drawstring!

You could use a pretty ribbon for the drawstring, but I chose to use the same fabric as the rest of the liner. Cut two pieces of fabric approximately 6cm by 80cm. Fold the right fabric in half, with the right sides facing each other. Sew down the edge, then turn the long strip out the right way. This is a little bit tricky and you will need a paintbrush or pencil to push it through.

Using a big safety pin, thread both of your strips through the tops of your liner. Pop the liner in your basket, tie it up at the sides, and you’re good to go!



Sunday, 8 April 2012

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter Everybody! I'm spending today eating vegan treats. And watching everyone else eat non-vegan treats. And wishing I could eat non-vegan treats too. Not to worry. HAPPY EASTER!

Saturday, 7 April 2012

ohmygosh yum: vegan easter cupcakes!

Easter can be a little dull for vegan atheists like myself. I'm not a huge fan of vegan chocolate. It tends to be a little disappointing. Whenever I've been to the supermarket recently, I've found my self lingering a little while walking through the Easter egg aisle. While vegan chocolate may be a little disappointing, vegan baking definitely is not! So I decided to bake myself some easter-themed cupcakes. They are deeelish. Sure to cure any chocolate cravings Easter Sunday may bring on!

Cupcake Ingredients
2 cups of soy milk
2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar
1 and a half cups of sugar
2/3 cups of canola oil
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
2 cups of plain flour
1 cup of cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder

Chocolate Eggs
1 egg mould - I bought mine from Let's Cook & on Little Bourke Street
125 grams of dairy free chocolate - I used Whittaker's

Icing Ingredients
110 grams Toffutti Better Than Cream Cheese
3-4 cups of icing Sugar

Chocolate Eggs Method
Break all of your chocolate into small pieces. Place a pot of boiling water on the stove top. Put your chocolate into a bowl and sit it on top of the saucepan. The bowl will heat up and the chocolate will melt. Keep stirring the mixture until all chocolate has dissolved. Then spoon the chocolate into the moulds. Put the mould into your fridge until the chocolate has set - this should take an hour or two.

Cupcake Method
Begin by whisking the soy milk and vinegar together in a bowl. Set the mixture aside for a few moments while it goes all curdley. Sift all of the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Gradually mix the soy milk mixture and the oil into the dry ingredients. Spoon the mixture into patty pans, filling them approximately 3/4 full. Pop them into a moderate oven for around 20 minutes.

Icing Method
Put your cream cheese into a medium bowl and add about 2 cups of icing sugar. Beat them together with an electric mixer. Gradually add more sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy. Continue to beat it until the sugar has dissolved completely.

Put the icing on top of the cupcakes in any way you desire and decorate with your chocolate eggs.

YUM! Happy Easter!