DIY Falafel, An At Home Guide to Middle Eastern Street Food

Don't let the pictures, or my husband's commentary, fool you. This was either the most ingenious use of DIY resourcefulness or a total fast food impostor recipe abomination. I lean towards best at-home lunch ever!

Although I live in a city bursting full of kosher schwarma shops that line the main street, there are precious few places that sell falafel.  Why is that you ask? I honestly have no idea.

If you live somewhere with a great discrepancy between available schwarma to falafel or just want to know the easiest way to make your own (healthier) falafel and also fix up your pita like a genuine street food experience in your home, this tutorial is for you.

 Super Amazing Falafel DIY Impostor Recipe

Step 1). The easiest way to get genuine falafel is to purchase a ready made powder which you can purchase here or if you're adventuresome you could grind your own chickpeas (garbanzo beans) and mix in spices like these found here. Both options will produce falafel and it all depends on your personal preference. Although I have ready mix waiting in my home (usually due to the family Etsy shop) I like doing things the long and tedious way (grinding beans and adding fresh spice).

Step 2). If you happen to keep a deep fryer around the house, you can toss in the tiny balls of mush chickpea mix till browned. If you are like me and terrified by the thought of cooking with vats of oil, it's time for the oven. This is where my husband and I disagree because I find no reason falafel needs to be a burning hot ball of grease whereas he absolutely believes this is exactly what falafel should be.

Step 3). Cut your pita in half, throw it in the over for just a minute to help it open up a bit if it is giving you trouble.

Step 4). Cut up your essential pita stuffers. At a genuine falafel street vendor you'd find a wide variety of salads and pickles but luckily I enjoy a simple palate of pickles, onions, Yemeni spice and humous (oddly enough, also ground chickpeas... there is a bit of redundancy in available ingredients throughout the Middle East).  

If it's fresh and a vegetable it also belongs in a pita. Middle Eastern fast food is not really as detrimental to your health as the American variety (minus the flaming balls of fried grease).

This is some serious humous. In Hebrew it's just called "spicey" and is found at our local grocer.

Step 5). Shove all your ingredients and freshly baked falafel into your pita. The most genuine Israeli falafel (in my mind) includes chips (french fries). Again, my aversion to deep fryers leaves my falafel just short of greatness until I realize I have potato chips. A totally reasonable compromise. 

Viola! Everything a genuine falafel should be; a mix of texture, extreme spice and stomach soothing fresh veggies. Not too healthy but not a heart attack in a bun. I highly recommend giving this a try at home.

Le Pâtisserie Playset Continued and Another Giveaway! UPDATED

 Remember these?

And what about this? What does it match anyway?


Our newly completed French Bakery hanging playset!

Complete with salivating poodle, ice cream soda, cupcakes, madelines, macaroons, croissants, Eifel Tower, and cherries galore.  And after nap-time there will be pictures galore of this set in action!

You may remember the doorway castle I made some time ago, it's the same principle. Take some heavy canvas and dive right in. This is a great project if you really want a fun interactive mural in your kid's room but rent or aren't sure you're that committed to French bakeries and poodles. Both is true in our case.

With a little impulse and crafty courage, you can take the plunge and finish the entire thing in a few short hours.

I think I love this sign the very most.

Just some photos of the kids having fun with their new playset. 


(We take signs very seriously around here)
Not to worry, there's still a GIVEAWAY!
I seem to get more people looking over this remake of the Anthropologie Fresh Deliveries Clutch than any other post.

Today's giveaway is a scaled version of this superb flower clutch purse. 

All you have to do is follow me, leave me a comment, let me know you're out there and you'll be entered to win today's giveaway.

Make sure to have a look at the rest of the French Bakery Playset and visit my other giveaways  this week for your chance to win other neat and crafty things.

Le Pâtisserie DIY Play Bakery & Birthday Giveaway-A-Day Day 2

Today's Birthday Giveaway is after the post, scroll down, you'll get there. 
This project has been a very long time in the making. Originally it was one of the gifts of a fourth birthday extravaganza that was scaled way down after a week long family emergency that kept the set from being completed. I even sat in the hospital with an injured toddler stitching felt food by nightlight but just couldn't make this deadline.

Months and months later, I think that my own birthday is the right time to give the littles in my house their play set. Lucky for them, the extra time of hiding in the craft room has expanded the set to include all sorts of neat extras.

Have a look!

Can't get baking without cracking a few eggs first

Meringues and tarts

Sugar Cookies


 Fortune Cookies

 And apron to match tomorrow's surprise play-set finish.

Seriously, come back tomorrow to see how this set all fits together. I kid you not, it's going to be super. 

And now for today's Birthday Week Giveaway-A-Day!
Rules: Follow me and leave a comment letting me know. Bonus entry tell me your favorite project you've ever made or received as a gift or anything else on your mind. 

Fabulous Prize for today!?! A vintage button and pearly beaded bracelet, perfect for Valentines Day or a little winter pizazz (or if you indulge in Victorian reenactment or think of yourself as the Ms Havisham of accessories, which I often do).  

Remember, comments will be open through the week so you can enter until Friday on any post.

Rainbow Cake How-To and Birthday Giveaway Day 1

Birthday week Giveaway-A-Day is After the Tutorial

Looking back through the online family albums I was reminded how popular this cake was.

It inspired comments like "Best. Cake. Ever!" and  "Wow!" and my personal favorite "Will you be my Mommy?" Now that's validation for the day of work you took off to bake a cake for a toddler.

Although it may seem simple enough, I admit I googled through a dozen or so blogs to see the variations on rainbow cake just to give me the start-up courage. In keeping with the birthday spirit, I want to share with you the straight forward how-to of this cake (it's a monster but worthwhile). But onto the How-to.

How To Bake your own Huge Rainbow Cake

1). If you're smart, you'll buy 2 packs of (white/vanilla) cake mix, prepare batter and proceed to divide into 6 bowls. If you're me and don't live where this is an available option, mix two batches of batter from scratch and then divide into separate bowls. *Modify number of bowls if you want more or less colors but I'll emphasize that six bake nicely.

2). Break out the gel food coloring. You really want your colors to be vibrant now before you bake (some colors may dull out a bit in the oven).

3). Pour and bake each batter in separate aluminum pie tins, unless you have 6 or so cake pans lying around your kitchen. These make slightly thinner layers than a normal batch of layer cake (1/3 batter vs 1/2) so watch carefully. 

 4). Take random pictures of your kitchen until your cakes are baked and cooled entirely. Again, if you are smart you will level out the layers of your cake that have puffed during baking before using your store bought frosting to layer and crumb-coat the ginormous cake tower.  If you're a renegade like me, you will throw caution to the wind and begin stacking your puffy cakes with homemade buttercream and hope the shear weight of the piled cakes will hold it upright.

5). If you're looking to go all the way with this cake (come on, you know you want to) cover in fondant and create 6 balls of gum-paste to match the colors of the inside of your cake and decorate in an outside ring. If not, decorate as you please.

My favorite thing about this cake was that it was an absolute surprise for my then 3 year old child. From the outside, it looked like a pretty normal birthday cake and wasn't too exciting. 

 But cut one of these babies open at your party and wow! Even when you see it open for the first time, it's impressive and worth all the tiny steps.

6). Cut yourself and your party-goers a slice with a very large and very sharp knife (keeps the colors tidy) and enjoy!

BUT WAIT! I promised a birthday giveaway today and everyday this week. 

Giveaway Rules:
1). Follow me and comment and let me know you're following me (mandatory)
*Bonus Entry:  Tell me how far you'll go for a party, a kid's a spouses or your own. What is the craziest thing you'll do to make it a Par-tay?
What's the  Super Giveaway Prize?
A romantic red rosette headband for one lucky winner. The winner's headband will actually be red but the pink one shows off the design nicely.

Comment for a chance to win until Friday!

Giveaway-A-Day for my Birthday

This is the world's most expensive dessert which I will not be trying anytime soon.
I don't care for birthdays much. There, I've said it. I'm just not a fan.

I am not concerned about aging and most often don't remember how old I really am. Seriously, who asks another adult "So, how old are you?" I just find this doesn't happen once you are out of grade school.

On the few occasions I've been asked this in any professional context (I work in a field with many older men and it singles me out for the question at the most inopportune times), I make a note to resent the heck out of my inquisitor and make them feel purposefully old by throwing around social media language that they can't grasp.

My dislike of birthdays is born out of my old-soul from birth and wallflower nature, I enjoy going by unnoticed. A birthday is like a day of people staring at you wherever you go (ok, not everywhere but it can feel like that).

Now personally flowers agitate me, gifts make me nervous and the 100's of shallow facebook wishes make me rethink my friending policies. I may be a total pain to buy a gift for but I do happen to be an excellent gift giver.  

So this year I will be embracing my birthday, with gifts for you! A Giveaway a day all week long! Come back throughout the week for fabulous birthday gifts and super tutorials.

Here's some more exclamation points in case I didn't use enough to show my excitement!!!!!!!

If You Can't Buy Love, Can you Craft Away Resentment?

I am not the mother who bribes her children (normally).

Really. My kids aren't looking at the candy at the check-out line to take home with us, they know it won't happen. But if they behave very nicely for the entire time in the market, they are allowed to reorganize the misplaced packs of gum.

So why is it that this week, a week with no birthdays or holidays, I'm trying to craft little gifts to get them through the days?

One has a mysterious returning (but otherwise symptom-free) fever and the other a spastic cough with an asthma diagnosis trailing behind. With MD visits, x-rays, blood tests and long inhaler sessions, my 4 year old's child-sized patience is waning (the penguin is our nebulizer friend, he's sort of a frienemy).

So what can I do to make the littles in my home feel better?

Ten minutes of playing with scrap organza and some shredded black chintz turn very unhappy child above into super happy child bellow.

So my question is this; Is it still buying your child's affection if it's handmade and doesn't involve breaking the bank to create? What do you think?

Anthropologie Fresh Delivery Clutch Purse- Yeah, I can do that

I'm beginning to see the beauty of the many crafty blogers who scan the Anthropologie catalog for things to remake. First, the style is often simplistic and lovely. But then, there is the part that these simple snazzy accessories can cost a good chunk of your hard earned cash. Where's the fun in that?

So here is my latest inspiration, ripped from the (online) catalog. It's a purse, it's a garden, it's a work of wearable art. It's also $268... umm no, for many reasons not in this lifetime.

Let's see if I can't make this for under $5.

Start with my favorite (not quite) a dollar store clutch hardware (ripped from the infamous cigarette purse).

I happen to have a few spare yards of black chintz from an old project so I'll be making the basic clutch out of that.

While I would like to keep in the spirit of the garden that abounds, I actually don't love the pinked edges or these tones 100%. So I made an insane amount of fabric flowers from scrap chiffon.

The rest is in the art of assembly and color play.

Looks like I just saved my family $263. I'll be putting that in my birthday fund.

Actual time for this craft, 1 week of idle sick-time on the couch or possibly 1 hour for the bag and a few hours to cut and assemble all those flowers.

Bonus purse!

I was not in like with the colors of the first attempt, so I tried a few different combinations. You should too, it's fun.

Just look at her Hair! Jasmine the Sex-Slave.

The winter chill has caught up with us here meaning mommy is sick. And with our daytime care providers also out of commission, everyone is stuck at home with whatever sick-mommy can dream up as appropriate time-occupying activities. Although we haven't got a TV, we have laptops and YouTube and lots of cartoons that have never been seen by the likes of my kids before.

The 4 year old is familiar with the story of Aladdin so I figured I could give in and let her watch this one Disney-ized cartoon without scarring her for life. We skipped over some of the more fiery "Cave of Wonders" parts but somewhere towards the end of the movie I must have passed out only to be awoken by a very concerned child screaming.

"Mommy! Mommy! This is wrong! Look! Isn't this all wrong?"

Ah yes, we'd arrived at the scene where Jaffar has become an evil sorcerer and Jasmine his helplessly bound prisoner. The costume our heroine now dons is straight-up Princess Leih, but crafted by Disney so slightly more sexually explicit (cause she's a cartoon and that makes it OK).

I shook myself from my fevered stupor I began to think of the ensuing discussion. I figured it could be brief and PG but include some of the following points:

1). Jaffar is behaving very badly
2). It is never OK to force someone to do something they don't want to
3). Our bodies are just for us
4). Forcing a princess to be your sex-slave is wrong etc...

"No Mommy! Look at her hair. It's all wrong! That's not her dress! It's WRONG!"

Wait, we're concerned about a ponytail and a red version of her usual harem costume? Jasmine the sex-slave hasn't phased you? Don't you even care that this princess is in chains and in imminent danger?

(Cause this get-up was so much better?)
Oh, alright then. 

In all honesty, I was slightly relieved that the world was still this simple. Evil exists in inconsistency and bad is just bad. By her estimation, Jaffar had not grown in his scoundrely evilness from the beginning of the movie to this point. Jaffar just had greater control over Jasmine and her ponytail now, and that's wrong.

Does this make my child insensitive to another's plight? I am sure it does not.

She responds appropriately to babies crying, her brother's playtime injuries and even sick mommy passed out on the couch. She is concerned when she feels story book characters are in danger and when Brobee is about to eat food off the floor. Women in chains kneeling before evil men is just slightly out of her frame of reference, the whole situation is wrong and she doesn't have the spectrum of evil to help her decide which is worse, not yet at least.

I suppose the outrage a grown adult feels over a cartoon depicting something reminiscent of the final enslavement of women is just not the appropriate response of a four year old. At least not this one. And you know what? I'm glad. She has a lifetime to fight misconceptions and discrimination, unfair treatment and objectification. Today she is allowed to be pissed about the inconsistency a couple of animators tried to perpetrate against her otherwise enjoyable cartoon.

The above Demotivational poster was found during a quick web search titles "Jasmine sex slave."

It seems there are plenty of results of pissed off people who also think that Jasmine, the sex-slave, is wrong. Or maybe they're just concerned about her hairdo?