Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Sewing Tutorial!

As a sewist who is constantly trolling the internet for free patterns, it's about time I give back! I once bought a pair of earrings in Doylestown and they came in a cute little fabric envelope. For a long time I wanted to make something similar, but on a larger scale. My friend Emily had a birthday the other day and it seemed like the perfect occasion to create it. Emily has flawless taste and has that "modern vintage" look down. I tried to choose fabric that she would like, but that would also match the only wide ribbon I have. Working from the same stash for 4 months can be a challenge. When working this pattern, it's best to not think about it. If you're like me, the folding and flipping will mess with your mind. Just follow directions, people.

Fabric Envelope
you will need...
  • one piece of fabric 6 1/2 x 20 inches (roughly. you could certainly go larger or smaller, but this is what I have pictured here)
  • one piece fusible webbing in corresponding dimensions
  • 5 inches of ribbon (or enough to span the width of the envelope) I used about an inch wide ribbon here, but that can also be adjusted to your liking
  • coordinating thread
  • straight pins
  • coordinating thread
  • sewing machine
  • iron

1. Fuse the webbing to the wrong side of the fabric (see the packaging on the webbing for instruction).
2. Sew the raw edges under on the short sides of the fabric. And don't make fun of my ironing board, I got it here!

3. Pin the ribbon about an inch or so from one of the short edges.

4. Fold the short edges in, leaving about an inch of space in the middle. Pin.

It should look like this after you sew it and turn it right side out...

And this when you fold it in half and flip the ribbon around both sides!

Then of course, I had to wrap it!

I know it kind of looks like a Valentine, but again, you work with what you have. I actually got the card stock here, surprisingly cheap. But the ribbon came from home. All I did here, was stitch 2 sheets together, trim about 3 inches off the top sheet (so the other one could fold down) Then, I stitched the top flap and tied it with ribbon.

And here's the birthday girl with her cake that her husband magically made appear at the end of dinner. This may be the cradle of civilization, but the cake situation is usually pretty dire. But this one was great! Happy Birthday, Emily!

Monday, September 27, 2010

~Maadi Moments~

So here is my other new feature of the week, a profile of my favorite places in Maadi. This week, I chose a new place to me. La Gourmandise!

I heard about it before we came back from the States last month. It's everything I dreamed it would be. Pink. Marble. Sweet...

The staff is helpful and competent, the treats are divine, and if I close my eyes I don't feel like I'm on Rd. 9 in Egypt, but on a Boulevard in Paris. My favorite items are the macrons (different from a macarOOn) these are less coconut and more a divine meringue sandwich in colors like green, pink, and yellow. The flavor I love at the moment? Earl Grey. Wow.

They also have ice cream! We don't get much ice cream here, at least not any that is worth mentioning. This is gelato quality. We had blueberry, yum! They package everything in pink and brown wrappings, which if you know me, delights me most of all. I am amassing a stash of pink and brown bags and boxes for who knows what. But I can't get rid of them! They're too pretty!

So now when I visit my favorite veggie guy on Rd 9, I can also pick up a sweet treat to enjoy with my afternoon tea. Heaven.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Snack Sunday

I'm hoping to make this a weekly post, my favorite snack of the week!

This week, crusty bread with cream cheese and a fresh fig all smooshed on top...

Stay tuned this week for a new "about town" feature AND my first pattern!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Yoga and Cookies

Who says they don't go together? On thursday, I had some of friends/yoga students come over for some tea, cookies, and other assorted baked goods. We had a lovely chat about yoga, Cairo and travel, among other things. It was a wonderful morning spent on the semi renovated balcony. And after everyone had a belly full of sugar we decided to try some yoga tricks. Always a good idea...

I made some maple leaf cookies for the gathering. Still inspired by Fall, even though it was at least 90 degrees out on the balcony that morning.

They went a little some thing like this...

Maple Leaf Cookies with Maple Nutmeg Frosting


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • Powdered sugar, for rolling out dough


Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. Place butter and sugar in large bowl of electric stand mixer and beat until light in color. Add egg and milk and beat to combine. Put mixer on low speed, gradually add flour, and beat until mixture pulls away from the side of the bowl. Divide the dough in half, wrap in waxed paper, and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Sprinkle surface where you will roll out dough with powdered sugar. Remove 1 wrapped pack of dough from refrigerator at a time, sprinkle rolling pin with powdered sugar, and roll out dough to 1/4-inch thick. Move the dough around and check underneath frequently to make sure it is not sticking. If dough has warmed during rolling, place cold cookie sheet on top for 10 minutes to chill. Cut into desired shape(like a maple leaf!), place at least 1-inch apart on greased baking sheet, parchment, or silicone baking mat, and bake for 7 to 9 minutes or until cookies are just beginning to turn brown around the edges, rotating cookie sheet halfway through baking time. Let sit on baking sheet for 2 minutes after removal from oven and then move to complete cooling on wire rack.

After cookies have cooled, blend 1/2 cup of very soft butter with 2 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar and about 1/4 cup of maple syrup. Stir in 2 to 4 tablespoons milk until icing spreads smoothly. After frosting the cookies, I sprinkled a combination of sugar and nutmeg over each cookie.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

All hail the pomegranate

It's officially Autumn, and in some ways, the hardest time for me to be away from home. I am a Fall girl, I love it all, the sweaters, the cider, the leaves, the school supplies. Now that Ramona is here, I am trying incorporate Egyptian "Fall" things, as well as decorate and discuss what Fall means at home, too. This time of year, we are blessed with the pomegranate.

By the way, I can never spell that properly. It always ends up looking like pommegranite?, pomegranete? Anyway, thanks to spell check, I don't have to embarrass myself. The "poms" here are wonderful, giant and pink and juicy. A fairly decent substitute for apples, I think. We like to just eat the seeds, but I made a couscous salad with them that I thought I'd pass along.

PomPistach Couscous

2 Cups couscous
1 cup pomegranate seeds
1 cup shelled pistachios
1 cup crumbled goat cheese
drizzle olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Prepare couscous according to box. Allow to cool slightly. Toss together with other ingredients. We enjoyed it just as it is, but it would also be lovely on a bed of lettuce.

Happy Autumn!!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

If you come to visit...

You will likely be sleeping on these!

They are Guest Room Pillows from Weekend Sewing by Heather Ross. At first I was scared, but they turned out to be easy.

Surely they are worth a plane ticket to Cairo, no?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

What I've been making...

So I'll keep the words to a minimum and focus on some pictures for a change...

Ramona's birthday quilt (finished a month and a half early!) I'm calling it "Girl in Africa" for the animal theme fabric and well,
because she is a girl in Africa!

Spelt pizza

Throw pillows for the deck to go with our lovely new plants!!

I'm so excited about the Indian Jasmine!

I've also been testing recipes for Ramona's party, trying to spread the sugary treats across several weeks. So far, I've attempted Fleur de Sel Caramels, they were really good, but not firm enough. And I also made Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese frosting just for fun. And then, of course scones and chai for any friends or visitors.

And lastly, here's an "update" of sorts. Remember these pants?? Well, here they are being worn by the little legs they were made for! She's finally big enough to wear them, although, if I make them again, I'm going to leave much more room for the cloth diaper butt...

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

jet lag and jet fuel

One of the major downsides to living abroad is the inevitable jet lag you have at least once a year when you go home. For those of you who are not world travelers (I myself was not one until I embarked on this crazy adventure!) it goes like this; traveling west, you just go to bed early and wake up early. Traveling east, you can try to go to bed at a normal/late-ish time, but you wake up at like 2 or 3 or 4am (notice the time on this post) and then you want to sleep and nap all day. Super. Now, that is all well and NOT good. But when you have an infant who is also jet lagged, it's pretty much the worst. I wouldn't be surprised if wars, divorces, and famines happened because of this very thing. So Ramona has been taking normal naps, going to bed at her normal time (maybe a little early) and then waking up ready to play at like 1am. I have been so tired and grouchy this week! I wish I had some advice, but I'm still working it out in my head. Time zone math, and all other math, is not my strong suit. It's like "if a train is traveling at 60 miles an hour..." kind of stuff and I can't do it. However, I will say, that it seems like keeping her up as late as possible is the way to go. And not letting her sleep too late during her afternoon nap, but that's kind of a no brainer. Tonight was pretty good, she went down around 8:30 and slept til midnight, was awake for maybe a half hour (big improvement over 2 or 3 hours) and then went back down. She's fussed a few times since then, but it seems that she's doing better. So how am I getting through the days on not enough sleep? Well. Let me tell you about a tragedy first. Right before we left, I broke the french press. My only link to good coffee, shattered on the kitchen floor. I brought back some yummy pumpkin spice and snickerdoodle, but alas, unless I want to eat it out of the bag (and I've thought about it) I have to wait until I have the energy to go shopping for a new one. So, I've been drinking this amazing tea instead. I love tea, but normally it doesn't give me the jolt I need. It's more of a relaxing, end of the night kind of thing for me. But Chai usually works. So, I've tried lots of different things, brewing it in the milk, brewing it water and adding milk, but it never has that, please forgive me, Starbucks kind of taste. It's never thick enough or something. I had read about this "chai concentrate" on a few different blogs last spring and I thought it sounded interesting, but I didn't have access to some of the spices so I bookmarked it for another time. Well, before I left the U.S. I wisely looked up some recipes I had been wanting to try and gathered the ingredients I needed. So the stuff works like this, you make a batch of the concentrate, throw it in the fridge, and then it's good for 6 months. And it's enough for 28 cups! I had bought some cinnamon tea at One Good Woman and it seemed like the perfect match. Oh yes. It was. This is what has been getting me through the week people.

Chai Concentrate

Makes about 1 1/2 cups (enough for 28 cups of chai)


  • 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Empty condensed milk into a jar or plastic container with tight-fitting lid. Stir in the sugar*, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Store in refrigerator.

To use: Brew a cup of strong black tea, then add two heaping teaspoons of concentrate or more to taste. Stir well until concentrate has fully melted.

To give: Pour into small jars with lids and tie with an attractive bow, or wrap the jar first. Attach a tag with instructions to keep the mix refrigerated and how to use it.

To keep: Store in refrigerator for up to 6 months.

*I thought it was pretty sweet and I think I'll leave out the sugar next time...