Saturday, February 27, 2010

Midnight Update

It should be noted that I like to appear tough. 
At all times.

This is one of those times (which occur more than I'd like these days) that I'm quite frazzled.
Just got in from friends house (who happens to live 5 minutes away), to find the whole road (in the middle of the night) blocked by a wall of fire.

Now if any of you guys know anything about Bahrain, you would have heard, that as of late protests have been increasing, and taking a less passive form. 
Now I've studied, read extensively, seen the aftermath daily and know quite a lot about the tire burning methods that are used by dissenters. 
But I have to admit it's really frightening firsthand. 

Though what frightened me more was that there were only two officers on the scene taking pictures and looking around.  Granted, I tried to get out of there as fast as I could (and can't make a definitive observation), but the whole thing scared me a bit.
I don't know.
And I always thought that I would end up working in a war zone.
After tonight I'm not quite sure.

I'm no expert....(ok maybe a baby one) but there may be better ways to protest government policies (not that I'm advocating that).  I was there for a few minutes, and have been wheezing ever since. 
Just imagine what the children (or the adults for that matter) in the area have developed as a result of all that burning tar and tires.
Just a thought. 
And a midnight update.

Thanks for listening.

Friday, February 26, 2010

How To Make A Pajaki (or Polish Paper Chandelier!)


Hi Guys,

It should be noted that I’m one of those people who strongly believe that if you do your research, you can pretty much do, or become an expert at ANYTHING.

In my field (politics/pr) it has become glaringly obvious that those who go far are not the ones who know a lot about their given field, but those who know HOW to get the information necessary to succeed.

With all that in mind I found myself looking through the realm of craft blogs about a week ago, and came across the cutest thing ever!
On my quest to find the perfect paper chandelier (don’t ask me why, but I’m obsessed with them!) I came across this.

Upon further research, I found out that these festive crafts are a Polish decorative paper chandelier called ‘Pajaki’.
The prefect addition to all my outdoor entertaining!
Like all things, I thought that I’d be able to find instructions online, but couldn’t seem to find anything specific, so I looked at some pictures, and made my own pajaki, with a slightly different spin on it!

It doesn’t look exactly like some of the pictures, but turned out exactly how I wanted it to, all with things I had lying around the house (because I honestly can’t be bothered to go out and get things specifically for one craft!)

If you want to find out how to make your own Pajaki, keep on reading!

Time needed: About a day

Things you’ll need:
For the flowers:
·      Several colours of Tissue Paper (I had some lying around from my art days)
·      White Tissues (or Kleenex)
·      Wire to tie off the flowers
·      Patience

For the Structure:
·      Cardboard box
·      Masking tape
·      Paint
·      Skewers (or kabob sticks)
·      Thread or Wool
·      Coloured straws
·      Coloured paper
·      Clear string
·      Scissors


To Make Flowers:
  1. Cut between 6-8 equal rectangular pieces of tissue paper.
  2. Place them on top of each other and fold them accordion style.
  3. In the center wrap a piece of wire to keep the pieces in place (making sure to keep a small opening before twist tying the ends).
  4. For a varied look, round off or fringe the edges, then separate the layers!
  5. Repeat to make as many flowers as you like! I varied the sizes (to make small flowers for the top tier, medium ones all around, and one large one for the center).


To Make the Structure:
  1. For the white band (that I used as a divider between the two levels of flowers,) I used an old cardboard box.  To make things slightly easier I ended up flattening the box and cutting through the two layers of cardboard to get a more equal ring of cardboard.
  2. To give the ring a bit more structure (mine was very very flexible) I wrapped it with masking tape, and slapped on a layer of paint.

[Note: For a more permanent, more finished look, if you have the time I would suggest covering the cardboard ring with paper mache and foregoing the next few steps.]
   
    3. Since my cardboard tier was still a little floppy (and I wanted to add a few flowers in the center) I
        decided to take skewers and wrap them in a coloured thread or wool.  Since my ring was kind of
        large I took two skewers duct taped them to the appropriate length, then wrapped them in thread. 
   4.  Make two or more skewers (depending on how you want the support structure to look), and fit
        them into the ring creating tension and support to the structure. Tie the two skewers together in the
        center, forming an X structure.

For the Top Tier:
  1. Make 4 (or more) equal braids from the same thread or wool used earlier, and attach one end to each corner of the cardboard ring.
  2. Cut the coloured straws into smaller pieces, and thread them through the braid.
  3. Using clear thread and a needle, sew on the smaller flowers, in the desired place, filling up the gaps with additional straws pieces.
  4. Repeat step 3 for all four braids, tying them together in the center.

[Note: I used approximately 4 flowers per braid. Also keep in mind that the back of the flower will show from the top (since the flower will naturally be pulled down), however I didn’t find it to be too much of a problem, since you are looking at it from below (it’s a chandelier after all!) But if you want a more polished look, you can sew two together back to back.]


For the Bottom Tier:
  1. Take a variety of coloured paper and fold each sheet to the desired size, and cut out a circle or flower shape. Do this with several sheets of paper.
  2. Cut a long piece of clear string, with a needle attached.  This will form the diagonal bottom tier (so make sure it’s long enough!)
  3. Tie the end to a corner of the cardboard ring and begin stringing a paper circle, then a coloured straw. Repeat until just after a third of the way through.
  4. String one of the medium flowers through the wire space created earlier, making sure that it is secured in place.
  5. Continue adding the paper circles and straws, then add another flower, and repeat step 3 tying the end of the string to opposite side or the cardboard ring.
  6. Make a second garland slightly longer than the first to be tied below it.

[Note: It is important when making the bottom tier to keep both sides of the garland symmetrical, or else your pajaki might look a bit lopsided!]

So yeah, there you have it!
One very detailed description on how YOU can make your own pajaki.

Keep in mind though that I altered my chandelier a bit from the original photos I looked at online.  The best thing about this craft is that the variations are endless, and you end up with such a fun creation!

It can be as intricate or simple as you like!

If you want to check out the sites I looked at for inspiration, the links are below!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Outdoor Sushi Lunch


Hey guys!
I’m so so sorry for not putting these photo’s up!
I can’t believe it’s been almost 2 weeks…. I really have no idea where the time flew by!
So as I mentioned during my last post, I was attempting to pull off a sushi lunch for about 12 people all with an evening’s notice. So yeah it was nervewracking!

I ended up waking up the next morning slightly frazzled, until my mum informed me that the main people we had invited had a hankering for candy apples, and was wondering if I could make her some. Yeah. I get this news about 3 hours before they were due to arrive! So I said sure, and ran off to find a recipe that was do-able…. And here are the results!

Amazing huh?

Granted, they look fabulous, but according to my sources they were quite hard (but then again we realized that none of us had ever tried any- since ALL of out parents had never let us… you know teeth rotting etc!)

After our mini adventure with that, we decided to start making sushi (only an hour beforehand… eek!) and well, let me just say this… things could have gotten much much much worse!

We ended up making 6 large platters, each with the same combinations.

 Mostly vegetables (cucumbers, avocado, red pepper) and some with fish bases (crab sticks and smoked salmon). 
It turned out pretty awesome, and everyone had a great time!

To supplement the meal there was quite a bit of jasmine green tea going around (which turned out amazing, given that we were sitting outdoors, and it was slightly chilly), as well as some icy pink lemonade. 
For dessert, candy apples and the valentine whoopie pies from Annie’s Eats!
The guests loved them, even though the colour didn’t come out quite right, and I used whipped cream instead for the filling…

All in all it was a great lunch and afternoon!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Cooking Fiasco...

Hi Guys,

Being the girl that I am, I decided after yesterday's ordeal (with testing out 4 different pizza crust recipes, a new fruit cocktail recipe, and a batch of valentine's day fortune cookies), that I would give myself a bit of a rest.
Instead I woke up this morning with determined to try my hand once again at ravioli (the white flour kind this time) as well as a dessert I've been dying to try every since I read about it on one of my favourite food blogs- The Kitchn.
To keep things brief, I ended up making two pots of ravioli, creamy banana ice cream-with one ingredient only! (which turned out amazing!!) as well as some oats, brown sugar and cinnamon baked apples.  All in all it was quite an adventure!

By the time lunch had rolled round i was quite exhausted, (and somewhat glad that the weekend was finally here; slower pace), until my mum walked in to let me know that she had told a few friends of our sushi making experience, and invited them over tomorrow! The second my sister heard that she was out the door and had called 2 of her friends over.
So yeah.
Tomorrow I'm cooking for about 10.
Should be interesting given that my mum doesn't trust raw fish here in Bahrain (which means NO fish allowed) and the guests expecting fish.
We'll see how it goes!
But anyway after this news we ran out to get all the necessary ingredients (which was a fiasco!) and by the time we got back I'd decided that I wanted to try out the amazing Red Velvet Whoopie Pies I had recently spotted at Annie's Eats.
Here's how the pro's make them look:

Let me just say mine don't look anywhere near as awesome, but definitely something to strive to!
Pics of the mayhem should be up tomorrow...
Wish me luck... I'm going to need it!
Laila

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

What A Week!

Hi Guys,
I hope you've all been well, and I'd just like to apologize for not putting anything up the past week or so.
I guess I could explain by saying that I've been super busy (which I have), that I haven't had the time (which is also true), but to be honest with you, I'd kind of gotten sick of blogging.

Well, let me explain.  Even though I've always loved writing, and have mostly been doing comms works recently, I'm supposed to be all over it- but somehow I'm not.  And according to a story I read about.... hmm.. a week ago (wait a minute...) young people have started to get sick of blogging and are finding it increasingly longwinded!

So to keep things brief, here's what I've been up to!
  1. Planned and cooked a weekend lunch for a few of my parent's friends (about 25 people) all while trying to calm my mum down.
  2. During that process I discovered a few new recipes, and an amazing book entitled Outdoor Entertaining that gave me (and mostly my mum) a push to try and make things more presentable, which lead me down the path of trying to make the outdoor tables look presentable. 

Here's the blue table, which I thought would look great white flowers (and cutlery), and was very very dreamy.
Although the entire area looked amazing, the only problem was that the bougainvillea flowers started wilting almost immediately, and since nothing else really grows in our garden, there really weren't any alternatives (so if anyone out there knows any tips please let me know!)

So the next table was a bit brighter, but also looked amazing by the time I had everything in order.
    
And an overview



All in all, the experience was exhausting, but very educational!

Other things I've been up to:
  1. Discovered an authentic Japanese store in Bahrain, and commenced to make some kickass sushi (best meal in the world!)
  2. Tried four types of pizza crust in my attempt to find the best crust in the WORLD!
  3. And most importantly, I just got in from bringing back my kitten from the vet. Here's a picture of him a few weeks after we rescued him! Very very cute!!

Anyway! I should run (it's late, and I just finished trying my hand at fortune cookies for the first time!)
Will fill you guys in soon I promise!
Thanks for listening,
Laila

Some of my Vlogs

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