Ever since I started eating chocolate again, I have been on the search for a healthy brownie option. Not that I don’t love traditional brownies, because I certainly do! But I know all of that white sugar and white flour is not the best thing for my body, so I began to do some recipe searching and experimenting.
In the last several years I have made black bean brownies (yum!) chick pea brownies (not so good) and numerous variations with multiple flours and natural sweeteners.
But these are, hands-down, the BEST brownie I have tried.
Gluten-free, they get their fudgie texture from avacados. Not that you would know they are in there! The original recipe called for one cup of white sugar, which I quickly subbed for honey and after a few trials came up with these yummy treats.
Ready to begin?
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 8×8 pan.
If you don’t have almond meal, it’s really easy to make your own in a food processor or high-powered blender. Simply place whole, natural, almonds in and whiz until they turn to fine crumbs.
Beat the eggs well. Mix with the honey until very well combined. I mixed mine in my new Vitamix (I LOVE that thing!) but it’s just as easy to do with a mixer or a strong arm.
Melt the chocolate chips and add to the egg mixture.
Stir in everything else but the avocados. If you are using your blender, this is a good time to pour out the ingredients into a bowl. Once the avocados are added things get really thick and it’s a bit of a job to get everything to mix and then scrape everything out of a blender. (Speaking from experience!)
Mash the avocados well until there are absolutely no lumps. (I ran them through the Vitamix with a little of the batter to keep things moving until they were really smooth. A food processor would work well too.)
Fold the avocado into the chocolate mixture. Pour into the pan. Bake for about 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Eat, and enjoy!
One of the drawbacks of last summer’s move was moving further away from my husband’s family. Being a plane-ride away from my own family, and being blessed with such wonderful in-laws, it was definitely a draw-back to move an additional half-hour away. However, I think we have seen them more this winter than last and it has been wonderful!
With projects to do around both of our houses, my husband declared every other Saturday as “family work day.” We spend one Saturday a month together at our house, and one Saturday a month together at theirs. Father and son use the time to help each other with projects around the house (and for that I am so thankful) and we women have been making our way through our piles of crafty projects!
There is something really special about the time women spend together creating. I love hearing the sound of knitting needles clacking, of sewing machines humming, and I have certainly benefited from my mother-in-law’s help and wisdom. Sometimes we chat, sometimes we listen to music, sometimes we watch movies, and other times we just sit in the quiet, absorbed in our projects. And there is something in me that thinks “this is the way life is supposed to be.”
Now that my sweater is complete, I have moved on to spending those Saturdays working through some of my sewing UFOs. And with that purpose in mind I rediscovered, and finished, this quilt.
And although I do love the front, it is the back that I am particularly enamoured with.
Isn’t it awesome? And it is just as soft and smooth and satiny as it looks. This was a true treasure out of my grandmother’s fabric collection, and along with many of the fabrics I used for the top, probably purchased 40 – 50 years ago. Sometimes I like to imagine what my grandmother had intended with her purchases. This is a wildly beautiful print! But I am kind of glad she never worked it into one of her own sewing projects, because it looks right at home here on this quilt.
So this is how I have been spending the cold winter days (which stubbornly refuse to turn into spring.) Quilting. Sewing. Knitting. Thinking about my grandmother. Creating quilts and sweaters and memories woven together.
It’s finished! I can hardly believe that I have knit my first sweater. I have been wanting to learn to knit my own clothes for so long. There were a few hiccups in the road, but I managed to figure everything out and was blessed to have my mother-in-law for help every few weekends, too! So without further ado……here is the finished garment!
The pattern is the Waterford Cardigan, remember this post? It was actually very easy to follow and the only part I found really tricky was adding the trim to the sleeves. I think they should be a little looser than they are, but overall, I am really happy with it, and it is super soft and warm.
I am extra excited that I finished it while there is still cold weather left to enjoy it in! (Not that I would complain if there was an early spring…)
This was actually only the first project I finished on what quickly became a very crafty March Break. One week off school made for lots of extra time to be spent in the sewing room! Here are the other projects I accomplished this week:
Not bad for one week! Now if only it were March Break every week….
What about you? How are you spending your Spring Break?Read More
Today marks the end of an era. It has been 5 years since I decided to turn my love of all things handmade into more than just a hobby. 4 years ago I opened my first Etsy shop (now replaced by artisaninthewoods), filled it will all manner of sewn and quilted things, and waited excitedly for my first sale. I was ecstatic when I received that first “sold” email from Etsy. And of all the items in my shop, that first sold item was…….
A rainbow pencil holder. 24 slots, all colour-coded to match standard pencil crayon sets. The pockets made just tight enough that the pencils are less likely to fall out during travel.
Not only were these pencil rolls my first sale, but my second as well. They went on to become one of my Etsy best-sellers, and responsible for more custom orders than anything else (except for create-a-creatures of course!)
For the last several years I have been stitching rainbows. I have made them from scrap fabrics, customer-chosen fabrics, and hand-dyed fabrics. I have made them large enough to hold an artist’s set of 36 markers. I have monogrammed them and tied them with ribbon, buttons, and velcro. I have even made them to give as gifts myself, and two people have benefited from receiving one out of my “oops” bin. (Like the one I made with 23 slots instead of 24 – how did I miss that???)
But yesterday, I stitched up what may just be my last rainbow rolls. I love sewing. I love these rainbow rolls. But I also love new projects, and I feel it is time to move on. So last night, with a little hint of nostalgia, I put my last 3 rolls for sale.
It is the end of an era. But the beginning of one too. (If you follow me on Facebook then you will have already seen the newest in laptop fashion!)
You have been good to me rainbow rolls, but now we move on to new adventures!
If you’ve been looking for a rainbow pencil roll, you will still find a few in the shop.
What new projects are YOU embarking on?
Sewing a button by hand is quick and easy. But sewing buttons by machine is even quicker and easier, especially if you are already familiar with a sewing machine. I don’t often use the machine when I’m just sewing on an odd button here and there. But I always used the machine if I am sewing multiple buttons, such as after sewing a shirt, or if I am replacing all of the buttons on a thrift-store find.
A sewing machine, capable of a zigzag stitch, threaded to coordinate with the button.
That’s it! Don’t forget to raise your feed dogs up when you’re done so you will be ready for whatever you want to sew next!
This is one of those basic sewing tasks that everyone should be able to do. Seriously. Everyone has had a button fall off at some point in their life and it only takes a minute or two to sew it back on, and no stellar sewing skills are required.
Beginner’s Tip: if you are a total non-sewer (and don’t want to be one) make this even easier by cutting a piece of thread as long as your whole arm, putting it through the needle and pulling until both ends meet. (The needle will be in the middle of the thread.) Then tie your knot using both ends at the same time. This keeps the thread securely on the needle and you won’t have to worry about holding onto it as you pull.
An easy way to make a knot:
Wrap the thread around one of your fingers several times.
Using your thumb, push the threads off your finger. They will sort of roll over each other and form a tight circle.
Hold the “circle” between your fingers and pull on the thread.
Voila! A knot! (It might take a try or two to get the knack for this, but once you’ve got it, you’ve got it!)
Hold the button in the correct position. Working from the back of the garment, push the needle up into one of the button holes. This will leave the knot on the back of your clothing where it won’t be seen.
(My button still has a bit of thread on it as it hadn’t quite fallen off the sweater yet. If you are replacing a button that has completely fallen off, all your holes will be empty at this point. )
Then push the needle down the opposite hole. When you do so, try to aim the needle point so it comes through close to, or on top of, the knot. This will keep all of your stitches in one place and even the back of your garment will be tidy looking.
Come up again into the first hole.
Go down the second hole.
Repeat a number of times until the button seems good and strong.
If your button has 4 holes, like mine, come up into one of the other holes and do the same thing on that side.
Now that your button is nicely sewed on, you don’t want to lose it again! Tie a good strong knot to keep it in place.
An easy way to do this is to make a stitch on the back of the garment. Pull the thread, but leave a loop as shown.
Pass the needle through this loop and then pull on the thread to close the loop and create a new one.
Repeat three times, then pull tightly to create the knot. There are step-by-step photos to show this process at the end of this tutorial.
Clip your threads close to the knot.
Next week I’ll show you how to do the same thing using the sewing machine!Read More
I am extremely blessed to have a wonderful second family. My husband’s parents are almost as near and dear to me as my own, and we enjoy doing so many of the same things! This week-end, my mother-in-law helped me start my very first knitted sweater. Up to this point my knitting has consisted primarily of dishcloths and scarves, so this feels like a big step. My mother-in-law is an experienced knitter and I appreciate her patience and willingness to help me learn!
This is the sweater I picked out to try:
It’s called the Waterford Cardigan and it’s a free pattern from Lion Brand Yarns. It uses a bulky yarn and large needles which is perfect for me as it’s working up nice and quick! Look how much I got done yesterday!
The yarn is Loops & Threads Country Loom which was on sale for half price just after Christmas! I had actually picked it up for another sweater project which didn’t work out, but I think it will work nicely with this pattern.
It was really nice to spend the day with my Mom-in-law. We shopped for yarn and then spent the afternoon curled up in cozy chairs, knitting the hours away. Bliss!
And even though this sweater is only just beginning, I have already picked out my next project. I bought this pattern on Ravelry and can’t wait to knit it! The yarn she used is beautiful, but just a tad too expensive for me. I am thinking of substituting something like this as it is a similar heavy weight. We’ll see when the time comes!