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September 29, 2012

My husband loved Chinese food when he was younger, but increasing food allergies and intolerances have made it impossible for him to eat it anymore.

Until the other night!  After a lot of research and multiple grocery store visits, I was able to produce a gluten free, soy free, peanut free, sugar free version of General Tso's chicken.  He was so thrilled he could barely chew for exclaiming his excitement.  

I started with this recipe from Rock Recipes.  I opted for baked both for health reasons and for minimizing the mess.  I didn't actually have to change much.  I used Splenda instead of sugar, and carefully examined bottles in the stores for possible allergens, and bought the safe ones.  The results were delicious and very close to the restaurants we had eaten at in the past.  I overdid the grated ginger, but know for next time to use less.  There will most definitely BE a next time.  Also for next time I will likely increase the amount of sauce, as there was barely enough.  The chicken turned out more a golden color than the dark red in the picture shown on the web site, but the flavor more than made up for it.  

I know you're saying "but . . . soy sauce . . ." right about now.  I'd been searching for alternatives off and on for a few years now, and my latest search turned up an awesome product.  Check out this company:  Coconut Secret.  And specifically this product.  Coconut Aminos!  It worked perfectly, and produced an excellent sauce for the chicken.  Previously my husband had tried fish oil, which gave me terrible heartburn, but this had no negative after-effects for either of us.  I am really excited about this product.  It opens up a whole new genre of food for home cooking that doesn't involve a lot of bread.  

I believe lo mein is next on the list - using NoOodles!
September 26, 2012

I tend to lean towards bright, cheery patterned bags and purses, so the other week I went to a wedding, and realized that I didn't have any 'formal' handbags.  I wanted something tiny that would hold only the very basics: cards, cash, cell phone, a tissue, keys and a few allergy pills.   I ended up using the turquoise leather mini-purse I had bought to throw in my backpack for school.

I certainly looked at bags and clutches.  I stared at simple little wristlets that had a price tag of $98 and wondered why $3 worth of materials could be inflated so much just by adding someone's name to it.  Something in me also snapped.  "I'm never going to buy a bag again! From now on, I'm MAKING them!"  I heard myself say.  Custom designed originals by Elaine!

It's all in the fabric choices, I realized. Buy a quarter yard of the nicer fabrics, raid the remnant bins, and invest in a few zippers and D rings and those magnetic clasps.

Fortunately I found a really cute pattern on Noodle-Head through Pinterest.  They used cutesy fabrics, but I could see the potential for a more formal look.  It was quite easy to do and customize to my own needs!

I had been hoping for more of a brocade, but could find none in black, so went with the black, silvery glitter knit.  The owl was left over from the Owl Bag endeavor, and seemed to insist that it went perfectly.  The interior is a satiny silver.  I have enough fabric left over to make two or three more!  Again, I made it JUST big enough to hold my passport, and once more, I have a hard time getting it through the zipper.  Just a quarter of an inch more is all I need!  

I have a lot of leftover orange silk from my Clockwork Doll project.  Guess what I'm making next?

September 7, 2012

Some time back I decided I wanted to make my wedding gown in 1" scale.  No doll, just the gown on a mannikin.  Dolls were giving me too many problems - either I had a dress idea that didn't suit any of the dolls I had, or the dolls I had refused to cooperate with any dress ideas! So - gown, no body.

I ran into the same problem I had with the actual gown - I couldn't find fabric I liked!  Instead, I found the most beautiful piece of lace on Etsy, sold by LaceBeauty.

I had to write and ask her to sell me just a yard, and while she probably thought I was strange, she complied, and my lace soon arrived.

Then a few months went by as I struggled with trying to figure out how to turn this piece into a gown, until one day I finally just sat down and pinned it this way and that, until, suddenly, it all worked.  It was like magic.

I'm still struggling with getting the gown to 'lay' right without anything supporting it, but am pleased that at least this much of it stands on its own.  The sleeves also gave me problems, but these will do for now.  The lace is the main attraction here.  I love it.  I also have enough left over for ONE more gown.