Friday, September 23, 2011

Lemon sponge cake Semifreddo

This lemon sponge cake is great for light desserts' admirers. It has a very saturated but not dominating lemon taste.
The cake was baked by Andrei Utkin with a recipe by David Lebovitz from his book Ready for Dessert.
We will have to cook three separate ingredients for the cake. First we prepare a lemon curd, then a lemon syrup and finally a sponge cake itself.

Ingredients for the lemon curd:
1/2 cup 9125 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
6 tablespoons butter
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks

Ingredients for the lemon syrup:
3/4 cup (180 ml) water
1/3 cup (65 g) sugar
1/4 cup (60 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons kirsch (not required)

Additional Ingredients:
1 cup (250 ml) heavy cream
2/3 cup (75 g) crushed amaretti cookies

lemon curd
In a saucepan combine lemon juice, sugar and butter. Set the saucepan over low heat. In another bowl whisk together the eggs and egg yolks. Pour the egg mixture into the saucepan whisking constantly, until the curd starts to thicken. Don't boil it!
When the curd is ready let it cool and then refrigerate.

To make the lemon syrup warm the water and sugar in a saucepan. When the sugar dissolves remove from the heat, stir in lemon juice and the kirsch. Let it cool completely.
sponge cake
Bake a sponge cake 12 by 18 inch (30 by 46 cm) and cut it in two pieces so that it fits into a baking dish. Whisk the cream until it turns into a whip cream. Mix the whipped cream and the lemon curd.
Put one layer of the sponge cake on the bottom of the baking dish and brush evenly with about 1/2 cup of the lemon syrup. Spread 1/2 of the lemon cream evenly on top of the first cake layer and sprinkle with amaretti crumbs. Lay the second piece of the sponge cake on top and repeat the procedure. The cake is ready. refrigerate until chilled. Sprinkle with the rest of amaretti crumbs before serving.
Lemon sponge cake Semifreddo

Ginkgo hand felted yellow leaf brooch

Ginkgo tree is an amazing plant. It is a true living fossil which means that its fossils date back 270 million years. The plant survived all major planet Earth's cataclysms and extinction events. At some point of its history Ginkgo trees were widespread all over our planet. In our times they have long been cultivated in Asia where its seeds are widely used in local cuisine.
Ginkgo felted brooch
Ginkgo leaves are of a very peculiar shape. They look like fans with veins pointing towards an edge of a leaf. During the summer leaves are of a regular green color but in the fall leaves turn canary yellow making Ginkgo trees excellent ornamental yard and street plants.
Ginkgo yellow leaf
Ginkgo leaves have long been used in medicine. Some studies suggest that extracts of Ginkgo leaves improve blood flow and enhance memory. Seeds of Ginkgo trees are considered by some Asian nations to have aphrodisiac properties and are sometimes offered at special occasions such as Chinese New Year or weddings.
green Ginkgo leaves
A unique shape and bright yellow color of Ginkgo leaves in the fall are very inspirational. I always wanted to create a brooch that would remind me of these canary yellow fans. There is something really ancient and pre-historic in the way these beautiful leaves look.

According to The Sibley Guide to Trees "four Ginkgo trees about a mile from the 1945 atomic blast at Hiroshima, Japan, were among the very few living things that survived, and soon regained their full health".
 Ginkgo yeallo leaf felted brooch

Monday, September 12, 2011

Fresh Ginger Cake

This yummy and spicy fresh ginger cake was baked by Andrei Utkin. An inspiration came from David Lebovitz recipes book "Ready for Dessert".

We will need:
4-ounce (115 g) piece fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
1 cup (250 ml) molasses
1 cup (200 g) sugar
1 cup (250 ml) vegetable oil
2 and 1/2 cups (350 g) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup (250 ml) water
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 large eggs

ginger cake piece

Preheat the oven to 350 F (175C) and butter a round cake pan.

In a food processor chop the ginger and set it aside. In a large bowl, mix together the molasses, sugar and oil. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, cloves and pepper. In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil, then stir in the baking soda. Whisk the hot water into the molasses mixture, then ass the chopped ginger.
Gradually sift the flour mixture over the molasses mixture, whisking to combine. Add eggs and whisk until thoroughly blended.
a piece of ginger cake
Bake until the top of the case springs back when lightly presses with a finger for about 1 hour.
The cake is moist and will store well for a few days. Enjoy the cake!
fresh ginger cake serving

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Summer Wedding Essentials contest results

Russian Artists team on Etsy just had its Summer Wedding Essentials contest. Fifty six team shops took part in the contest submitting their hand made wedding-themed items. All of the entries were fantastic! They can be checked out at Russian Artists Facebook Page.

Although all of the items submitted were amazingly beautiful, creative and unique, I picked up a few of my personal favorites. All of the wonderful items presented will make any wedding an unforgettable experience!

1. Dog Crochet Wedding Floral Collar by mailo

2. Event Decor for the Wine Glass by MamaTita

3. Tea Set, Original decorative painting by Yury Tarler

4. White earrings with pearls by HoneyCase2

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Coconut Macaroons recipe

These yummy and simple to make coconut macaroons were baked by Andrei Utkin. An inspiration came from David Lebovitz recipes book "Ready for Dessert".

You will need:
8 egg whites
2 and 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons honey
5 cups dried unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large saucepan we mix together egg whites, sugar, salt, honey, coconut, flour and vanilla. We cook the mixture gently over a medium-low heat until the bottom just begins to sizzle. Let the mixture cool a bit.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. With your fingers form 1 and 1/2 inch pyramids out of the mixture and place them on the baking sheets.

Bake, rotating the baking sheets midway during baking, until the macaroons are evenly deep golden brown, about 20 minutes. Let macaroons cool on the baking sheets.
The recipe makes about 60 macaroons.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Tutorial How to make hand crocheted necklace with buttons

I've recently came across a large bag of multicolored buttons in a crafts store and just could not stop myself from buying one. The buttons are of different sizes, shapes and hues of blue and green. They are great for a hand crocheted summer necklace.
To make a necklace we will need a mercerized cotton thread, a toggle clasp, a crochet hook and about 30 buttons of different sizes and colors. To make crocheting simple and to safe us some time we will start with beading all out buttons on a thread first. Once all our buttons are ganging there nicely we can start crocheting.

I'll crochet a simple foundation chain adding buttons with 1 or 1 and 1/2 inch. intervals. In case you would like to make your necklace longer you can add some more buttons or make a space between them larger. I like to mix and match hues of green and blue so that the necklace looks unique and stylish.
TonyaUtkina shop
I plan on crocheting 34 inch. necklace so that I could wear it either on my neck or my arm. Some people wear crocheted necklaces on their waist instead of a belt or on their ancle.
The necklace crocheting shouldn't take more than 15 minutes. When the thread is ready we will attach toggle clasp to it and our summer bright necklace is ready to wear. It's a perfect summer accessory and will make you look beautiful and special!
happy necklaces

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Water lily felted flower brooch in purple violet

Flowers come in different shapes and colors. The diversity of nature always inspires me. This time I've decided to make a felted flower brooch that will look like a water lily.

First of all I hand felted a large number of purple colored wool pieces in shapes of flower petals. I tried to make my petals long and somewhat narrow. At first I planned on making two-colored flower brooch and hand felted pieces of white wool as well. Later I changed my mind and created a purple colored brooch adding a few white shiny beads instead.
hand felted accesories
After my wool petals dried up I started arranging them into different patterns to find the one I liked the most. It's easy to do it while they are not yet attached and turned into an actual brooch. It's always fun to lay out different designs with different pieces of felted wool.
hand felted brooches
After a while I figured out what exactly I wanted to do with my wool. I attached all my numerous purple colored felted wool pieces to a hand crocheted base. To accent the color I added tiny white beads that look like small flower stamen.
The brooch is ready to wear now!
hand felted necklaces

Friday, June 10, 2011

Summer wedding decorations white acorn wind chime

This year summer is all about weddings! It's not only about Mr. and Mrs. Wales' one but about all those wonderful couples that are having a moment of their life this summer. Interestingly the color scheme is not always white. This summer purple, lilac, green, pink, turquoise and aqua colors are en vogue. Even yellow and orange somehow fit into the perfect wedding color palette.

The selection of decoration ideas and wedding gifts offered by numerous on-line shops is outstanding. I thought I would share with you one decoration idea that came to my mind and that I created using felted acorns, wire and cotton thread.
felted accessories
Wind charms and mobiles look great as garden decoration. Why not to use them as a wedding ornament? White acorns with real acorn tops are attached to a round base. They quietly swing and wave in the wind adding style and elegance to wedding arrangements.
crocheted and felted accessories
The acorns could be of any color. Bright blue acorns would accent white of the bride's dress. Lemon yellows would play well with bright green of the surrounding landscape. Not too overriding acorn wind chimes will add flair to any summer wedding.
wedding decor

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Russian Artists Team Fathers Day Contest

The Fathers day is less than 2 weeks away and we are all looking for great gift ideas for our own fathers and our husbands. Russian Artists Team just had a Fathers Day Contest when all of the team shops were welcome to nominate their gift idea for the holiday. So many great items took part in the contest and all of them without an exception will make a great Fathers Day gift. All of the nominations are available for viewing at Russian Artists Team Facebook page.

Although all of the hand crafted and unique items taking part in the contest are special, I picked three to feature on my blog. Each of the three items is very different and they will make a great gift!

1. Forest cuff links by HoneyCase2 Forest cuff links

2. Morning Original by marina826

3. Adorable birch bark helmet VIKING by fromSiberia
birch helmet

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Blue and chocolate felted flower brooch

I continue experimenting with hand dyeing. It's such a fun process and I just love the colors that turn out at the end. To create my chocolate blue flower felted brooch I first hand felted flower petals in white and dark brown. I had all three types of wool available at home.
citycrochet accessories
To add color to my brooch I hand dyed each felted petal with blue drink mix which contains food coloring. As the result my petals have spots of bright blue to contrast their dark brown color and they smell like raspberry. My pieces of hand felted wool look so different now. Bright blue color makes them vivid and summer-like.
felted necklaces
After assembling all my hand dyed pieces into a flower and attaching petals to a hand crocheted jute base I've got an exotic flower brooch in blue, dark brown and white. It will go well with any neutral or white outfit and will add color to a business casual dress.
felted brooches

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Summer suncatcher by FleetingStillness

I've recently received an amazing gift from a very talented stained glass artist FleetingStillness who lives and works in Maryland.

It's always nice to receive gifts from fellow artists who are members of vast and diverse hand made community. When such gifts turn out to be beautiful hand made pieces of art it's twice as nice!
stained glass suncatchers
I always had a soft spot for pieces made of glass. I praise glass for its transparency, variety of colors and opportunities for creativity. The suncatcher I've got is made of bright yellow and blue glass and a copper foil. It was created in a "Tiffany" style meaning no lead was used to attach pieces of glass.
glass objects
The suncatcher is a perfect summer gift. The sun shines through brightly colored glass lighting up everything around and making me happy! Yellow and blue colors are of the warm sea, sand beaches and vacations! This piece of art will always remind me of the summer. From now on I'll have a small part of an ocean beach in my room.
glass candle holders

Alla, thank you for such a great gift!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Flower brooch hand dyed in burgundy

I keep experimenting with hand dyeing. It's such a rewarding and inspiring process. So many new ideas come to life when one starts mixing colors. The end result is always a surprise and the whole process is much fun!
burgundy dye
I hand felted many many wool petals for my flower brooches and dyed them in my freshest color mix. The final dye color is more like a burgundy with hints of red and even yellow. It's such an interesting color that is not eye popping bright but rather stylish and elegant.
felted brooch
I've assembled my petals into a flower brooch with a hand crocheted jute base that I had made earlier. The brooch looks like a flower and will no doubt decorate any outfit. It will go well with any office neutral colors especially the ones with hues of light green, dusty pink and pale blue.
burgundy felted flower petals

Thursday, May 26, 2011

My Red Rose brooch featured on Etsy Front Page

It's so cool that my Red Rose brooch was featured on Etsy Front Page today in a beautiful red and white treasury curated by Baronyka. Thank you so much for creating such an amazing collection and featuring me in it!
romance in red and white

Monday, May 23, 2011

How to dye in green with blue and yellow drink mixes

Since I bought Kool Aid brink mix in blue raspberry I now have all prime colors I need for dyeing. I am eager to start experimenting with mixing different colors and creating new ones. My first experiment will be in mixing a bright green color. We will need one pack of yellow drink mix. For that we can use lemon Kool Aid. In addition we will need a blue drink mix and blue raspberry Kool Aid works just fine.
green felting mix
I mix both drinks in a plastic container. It makes sense to first make a yellow mix and start slowly adding blue drink mix into the container with yellow water. Keep stirring for colors to mix well. I suggest you do it slowly so that you can control the hue of green and stop when you think the color of the mix is the one you are looking for. I've noticed that for a pack of yellow mix I used about 2/3 the blue one.
dyeing in green with drink mix
I dyed my hand felted white wool pieces in the mixture of two drinks and got brightly colored green stripes.
Now it's time to turn them into something nice and beautiful. I assembled white and green pieces of wool on a base that I hand crocheted from jute earlier. The green color turned out to be even better than I've expected. It's a true positive and happy green. The brooch is bright and vivid making it a great accessory.
dyeing in green drink mix

Friday, May 20, 2011

Dyeing hand felted bracelet with blue Kool Aid

Since I bought plenty of blue colored Kool Aid on line I continue experimenting with dyeing different hand felted items in bright blue. This time I decided to create a hand felted bracelet.

I first hand felted eight beads mixing white and dark blue wool. To read more about how to make wool beads please visit my earlier post.

To create a blue dyeing mixture I poured Kool Aid blue raspberry drink mix into a plastic container with water. It's important to stir the mixture well before soaking beads in it. Thus, the color will be applied equally on all the beads.
blue beads
When my dyeing mixture is ready I placed all my eight hand felted wool beads into the container and microwaved it for about 3 minutes or until it starts boiling. Don't overheat the beads as they can get burned! Please be careful handling beads after the microwave as they get extremely hot!
blue dyed beads
My beads absorbed bright blue color. They now look like marbles with spots of light and dark blue.

Dyed beads could be turned into a necklace, a bracelet or a pair of earrings. I decided to create a jewelry set this time. First I made a bracelet chaining six beads together. I still have two blue beads left. They will look great as a pair of earrings.

The set is of bright colors of sea waters, ocean lagoon and sky. It's completely unique as beads were hand dyed and now have their own special color. That's the beauty of hand dyeing. It creates unique colors and special items!
blue bracelet and earrings

Thursday, May 19, 2011

How to dye with a bright blue Kool Aid drink mix

I finally found the bright blue drink mix I was looking for. The Kool Aid drink mix in blue raspberry has exactly the color I needed to create happy blue items for my on-line shop. It's not easy to get by in local supermarkets. For some reason stores normally don't carry this particular color. However, one can always buy it on the Internet.
CityCrochet felting
To dye with blue drink mix you will need to create felted wool layers first. We will felt white wool and dye it later. To learn about felting you are always welcome to read my earlier post on how to hand dye a flower brooch. When the layers are ready just pour water in a plastic container with blue drink mix and stir it well. Place all your layers in the container and microwave until it starts boiling.
CityCrochet elted scarves
Let your bright blue felted wool layers cool as they are extremely hot in the beginning and gently squeeze the wool until somewhat dry. I usually let my wool dry overnight.
When our bright blue layers are ready we can use them to create a brooch. I personally like to mix colors so to create my brooch I added a few layers of dark blue hand felted wool. The result is a bright and vivid brooch that will go well with happy colors of the summer.
hand felting CityCrochet