Oh, how I love the autumn. It’s my favorite time of year, and not just because of all the eating and drinking. Though you might not believe it, even here in sunny Southern California the leaves change and the weather gets crisp.

Stitched Place Card -- The Tamara Blog

I have a “thing” for leaves. Friends call them “my motif.” Some people love hearts, some suns or fleurs de lis… I love leaves. They’re natural, beautiful, readily available and ephemeral.

I have been tutoring a young girl in sewing the past few weeks, and came up with this idea after my first class with her. I had her sewing on paper to practice, and realized that the results were pretty versatile and well suited for paper crafting.

Stitche Place Card

So for this easy craft, I combined leaves and paper. Here is all you need to make these lovely place cards!

Score and fold cards, if necessary.

Scored cards

Punch or cut leaf shapes from patterned paper. I use between 3 and 5 leaves per card.

Leaf cut outs

Use a glue stick to lightly stick the leaves to the card. Take care not to use a large amount of glue, as it will gum up the needle.

Sew cards

Once all the cards are glued, sew to secure leaves.

P1070803

Using a swirly stitch pattern suggests wind-swept leaves.

Stitched place cards

Hand write names or print on computer, cut out and glue onto cards.

Cute Stitched Place Cards, The Tamara Blog

Stitched Cards

Leif's card

Stitching on Paper

The Tamara Blog -- Stitched Placecards

Think of the possibilities for all types of cards… perhaps a Christmas gift follow-up is called for? Stay tuned, and have happy holidays!

 

 

20140710_193103

The Best Blueberry Pie Ever

I have a super cute 2-year-old nephew who absolutely is obsessed with blueberries. (Or as he pronounces them, bloo-bewwies.) He would, and has, eaten them for breakfast, lunch and dinner. So this summer, when we were all visiting my family in berry-land, I thought it might be fun to take Mr. Super Cute to the local berry picking patch for a treat.

20140710_113514

We arrived and he started going to town on the bushes, shoveling ripe as well as unripe blueberries in his mouth by the handful. It was a proverbial kid-in-a-candy-store afternoon.

20140710_114953

After about 30 minutes of picking, we had as much as we could carry, and headed back to the house to see our haul. Nearly every year I make jam while in the San Juan Islands berry-country, but this year I wanted to do something different. I hadn’t had pie in a long time, so blueberry pie it was.

20140710_120322

I must say, this pie turned out to be one of the best desserts I’ve ever made. The crust so tender and flaky, and the filling… divine. Probably because of the pickers! We had the pie for dessert that night, unfortunately for Nephew, it was after he had gone to bed.

The next day, Sister, Nephew and I were driving home, so Mom had us take the remaining pie with us. “Car Pie,” we named it. Mom packed up the pie in a bag, adding utensils and bowls, so whenever we wanted it, the Car Pie would be ready.

20140711_122734

We headed south and stopped in Seattle for a little detour on the big Ferris wheel there on the pier.

20140711_113340Gorgeous day, great view and a fun adventure.

20140711_115327

P1070443

20140711_115125

Before we got back in the car, Sister and I decided that we needed drinks to accompany our tasty treat. We kept telling Nephew that we were going to have Car Pie in a few minutes. He had no idea what that was, but we assured him it would be wonderful.

Sister, holding Nephew, approached the nearest restaurant… a crab-shack sort of take-out spot. We walked up, the guy behind the counter asked, “What can I get you?” Nephew declared, “Car Pie Please!”

20140711_123015

We about wet our pants as we laughed and told the counter-guy we wanted iced teas and milk. Still laughing, we went back to the car and served up the pie.

P1070477

20140711_123207

20140711_123624

Nephew was very serious as he experienced his first taste of Car Pie, and in the end it was a huge hit. Even now, after nearly every meal, he still asks for Car Pie. I’m a happy Auntie! Click here for the Car Pie, I mean, Blueberry Pie Recipe Tamara

20140710_154423

To make the flowered crust, I used these cutters:

20140710_160425

20140710_173116

20140710_211640

Click here for the recipe for my Blueberry Pie.

The Best Blueberry Pie, the Tamara Blog

Happy end of summer! It’s been a wonderful one!

20140709_094425

 

Hello friends!

I’m very excited and honored to announce that I’ve partnered with my pal Fabio Viviani (Top Chef fan fave, chef extraordinaire, restauranteur, and super fun guy) to write for his wonderful online magazine, titled appropriately, Fabio’s Magazine! 

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 7.52.50 AM

Starting with the August issue, that just came out, I’ll be a regular contributor with my DIY Style with Tamara Berg articles, offering crafting, food and lifestyle projects and ideas. You can make sure you always get the latest issue by subscribing here.

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 5.52.34 PM

And, if you want to know a little about me and my relationship with beets… take a look here.

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 5.51.28 PM

Oh, and one thing got mixed up… #4. I’ve never been to Colombia (yet!). Here’s what should have been there for my “weirdest food” answer:

4) What is the weirdest things you have ever eaten and where were you?

Most of the weird food I have eaten has been in China. There was Ox-Liver Mushroom in Shanghai, and Ant Soup in Hong Kong. Whenever I travel, I like to steep myself in the culture; so trying the local fare is a part of the experience. I love the inventiveness of everyday chefs. People make some crazy food in other parts of the globe!

This is a special occasion breakfast treat, perfect for Father’s day.

Candied Bacon Hearts -- The Tamara Blog

I should note here that the irony of taking bacon, something considered not good for your heart and shaping it into a heart, is not lost on me. But my  justification for this recipe is that the heart shape could represent how you feel for the person to whom you’re giving the bacon. In my case it represents one thing and one thing only – how I feel about bacon itself. I just love it! Sorry, all you vegetarians, I know your pain. I used to be one, but the bacon beckoned.

This Candied Bacon is a favorite for fancy brunches, but I often make it as an hors d’oeuvre. (When serving as an appetizer, I just make simple strips.) It’s crispy and crunchy and sweet and salty and a little bit spicy. Just a bite or two satisfies all your food cravings. It’s beautiful for a party, and equally welcome for a breakfast-in-bed special treat. A word of caution: be sure to make plenty. I’ve never had leftovers… darnit!

Make ahead and serve at room temperature or serve warm.

Candied Bacon Hearts (click for printable recipe)

  • 1 package thick-cut bacon
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • Light brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350°. Place a rack over a foil-covered pan with sides (not a cookie sheet).

To make hearts, cut bacon in half lengthwise, then crosswise. Each heart will require one half a piece of bacon.

Working on a piece of paper towel, and one heart at a time, season bacon with pepper, then sprinkle with a light layer of brown sugar.

Sugared bacon in process
Move bacon to the prepared rack. Place the bottom short edges of two bacon strips on the pan, overlapping to form the bottom point of the heart.Sugared bacon in progress

Overlap bacon edges

 

Next, fold over the top ends, twisting each once to create the top loop of the heart. When forming the heart, alternate bacon ends. Gently press the intersection of the four ends together. Sprinkle on more sugar, if desired.

Bacon hearts on rack

(If making as simple strips, lay the strips on the rack, pepper, and sprinkle with a layer of brown sugar.)

Place in oven and bake 25 to 40 minutes, depending on the thickness of bacon. Remove when crispy.

Candied Bacon Hearts -- The Tamara Blog

Serve immediately, or set aside to cool. Can be made one day in advance, and reheated before serving. They’re tastiest when served warm or at room temperature.

TIPS: Clean-up from this recipe can be a mess if you don’t use the rack-and-foil method. If, by chance, you don’t have a rack & pan combo that will work, try this kitchen hack: Take a sheet of heavy-duty foil, twice the size of your sheet pan. Fold the foil in ½” accordion pleats. Spread out over a foil-covered sheet pan. Lay bacon perpendicular across the foil ridges to lift it from the pan bottom. Once the bacon is done cooking… simply toss all the foil in the trash.

Fabio Vivianni Loves my Candied Bacon!
If making this bacon as an hors d’oeuvre, it’s probably best to serve in simple strips (like the ones chef Fabio Vivianni is holding in the pic above), as the heart halves sometimes separate. And that just won’t do!

Enjoy this decadent treat – your loved ones surely will!

 

 

 

Caption Beautiful sweet and salty toffee pretzels.

 Beautiful sweet and salty toffee pretzels.

Ah yes, there is a holiday for everything. And April 26th is, at it turns out, National Pretzel Day here in the US.

By far, my favorite way to eat pretzels is dipped in toffee. I posted this recipe a few years back, but here it is again. It’s worth a revisit. Enjoy!

Click here for a printable version of my Toffee Pretzels Recipe.

DSCF7003 Tamara's Toffee Pretzels


I do love a good soft pretzel, and have made them at home (key: look for a recipe that uses baking soda, like this one). They’re really worth the effort.

DSCF6583 Pretzels Cooling

DSCF6589 Brown Pretzels

I hope you have a delightful and carbo-licious Happy Pretzel Day!

 

DIY Soap Petals

Mother’s Day (in the US) is May 11th this year. Here’s a quick but special gift for any Mom.

 

Scented Soap Petals

These soap petals are, in effect, beautifully scented, teeny, tiny washcloths. A little treat for your guests and a great twist on the hostess gift.

Tools and Supplies:

  • Fabric Rose Petals — available at craft stores in the Wedding section.
  • Glycerin soap base, unscented – from craft stores, or sometimes found at grocery stores.
  • Essential oils –your fragrance makers. Get them at drug stores, craft stores, or online.

Instructions:

Cut the soap into cubes and place in a glass bowl, 5 oz will make about 75 petals. You can melt the soap using a microwave, but a double boiler is better at maintaining a constant temperature.

When the cubes have melted, stir in your essential oil. 5-10 drops is plenty. When choosing your fragrance, you can always use rose, as the petals are usually rose petals. But you can also consider the color of your petals – neroli or grapefruit oil for peach-colored petals or lavender scent for purple petals.

One by one, give your fabric petals a quick dip. It’s important to only dip one at a time, so they don’t stick together and make a mess. Make sure they’re fully coated. Remove them with chopsticks, tongs or tweezers. Cool on a metal rack and your petals are done!

Place in a pretty dish on your bathroom counter. For those who aren’t sure how to use them, a friendly note is always helpful (see below). No messy bar-soap, no ugly hand soap. Yay!

They can also be scattered to make a romantic bubble bath. But do remember to remove the petals before draining the tub or you’ll have to call a plumber.

I’ve included some text for you to put in your soap petal dish. (Soap Petal Labels)

Bonus Tip: I like to make mine semi-waterproof by covering with packing tape before cutting out.

If you’re looking for more fancy labels, check out the printables at my pal Cathe Holden’s blog, here.

 

A quick revisit of several of my blogs that are great for St. Patrick’s day.

PatricksDayCollage

For my Toffee Pretzel Shamrocks, see here.

You can find the Rainbow Cookies here.

How to make a Celtic Knot bracelet here.

My Lucky Penny necklace blog is here, and my book, A Penny Saved can be found here.

Have a lovely St. Patrick’s Day!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,469 other followers