Egg Free Irish Soda Bread

The basic recipe for a simple Irish Soda Bread has lately been turned into a more decadent version with raisins and caraway seeds. Usually, eggs are also added to make this versatile tea bread richer. Here I have for you an egg-free version of the Spotted Dog (with raisins) Irish Soda Bread, just in time for Saint Patrick’s Day!

Egg Free Irish Soda Bread Spotted Dog

My first ever Google+ Hangout was hosted by Brooks Walker of CakeWalkr.com on Making Irish Soda Bread. It is his recipe that I have tweaked to make my own egg-free version. There are also a couple of minor changes in the quantity of ingredients that I felt were necessary as I examined my dough at various stages.

Soda breads do not require yeast and are fairly easy to make. The Irish Soda bread tastes like a Scone and beneath its thick, golden crust lies a beautifully moist interior – dotted with beautiful raisins in my case.

Irish Soda Bread

Click Here to see Brooks recipe. My recipe is almost exactly the same except for:

1. I used Egg Replacer Powder equivalent of 1 egg to replace the egg.

2. I used 7 tablespoons of butter as opposed to the 6 mentioned in the original recipe since my dough would not hold well. I test my dough by holding it tight in my palm after I have mixed in the butter. If the dough takes the shape of my palm, it is done. If it does not, it needs more shortening.

3. I was out of caraway seeds, so I skipped them.

4. My dough required more liquid, so I ended up using 1 and 1/2 cups of buttermilk.

Sliced Irish Soda Bread with Raisins

I baked two loaves from this recipe. Which means we had 2 hours of divine smells coming from the kitchen (you know – the kind when you bake something with cinnamon in it). The first one did not last long after it came out from the oven. The second, we served with softened butter and marmalade and it tasted equally heavenly! The gorgeously rustic loaf was cut into thick slices that we slathered with salted butter and orange marmalade.

You can serve it with your favorite tea for a perfect teatime snack on St. Patrick’s Day or any other day throughout the year! And check out Brooks Walker on Google Plus. He hosts regular hangouts that food lovers wouldn’t want to miss.

Adorable Valentine’s Day Cupcake Designs

Pinks, Reds, Roses, Chocolate & Hearts – these adorable cupcake decorating ideas are easy to follow and look so stunning, you will wish Valentine’s Day was here already!

Valentine's Day Cupcake Decorating Ideas

Valentine's Day Cupcake Decorating Ideas from Celebrating-ValentinesDay.com

Celebrating Valentine’s Day has these dainty cupcakes featured along with many more recipe ideas for Valentine’s Day Desserts, Valentine’s Day Breakfast Recipes, Valentine’s Day Dinner Recipes and many more Valentine’s Day Ideas. Don’t forget to enter their annual Love Message Contest while you are browsing!

New Year Wishes

New Year’s eve is like every other night; there is no pause in the march of the universe, no breathless moment of silence among created things that the passage of another twelve months may be noted; and yet no man has quite the same thoughts this evening that come with the coming of darkness on other nights.

- Hamilton Wright Mabie

Happy New Year 2011 - from Lata Tokhi

Happy New Year 2011

Here are some great ideas for New Year’s Eve:

Fortune Teller Theme New Year’s Party
Take advantage of the timing and host a fun and interesting fortune telling New Year’s party that your guests are sure to love!

Host a New Year’s Cocktail Party
Complete Party Planning Advice for hosting a stylish New Year’s Cocktail Party. Includes recipes for cocktails, Hors d’oeuvres and desserts

Plan a Fabulous New Year’s Eve Dinner Party
New Year’s Eve is the perfect time to invite your closest friends over to share good food and good company. An elegant dinner party lets you and your friends review, renew, and rejoice.

New Year’s Party Games
In addition to invitations, decorations and food, you’ll need fun party games to keep your guests entertained.

Ending with another wise quote:

Never tell your resolution beforehand, or it’s twice as onerous a duty.  ~John Selden (Very true, from past years’ experiences!)

Saint Patrick’s Day Decorations

Leprechaun Hats Decorative Accents

Leprechaun Hats Decorative Accents - DIY St. Patrick's Day Decorating Idea

Easy to make and quick to assemble, these cute decorations will perk up any surface or corner you choose to decorate them with. Click on the image for instructions.

Handmade Saint Patrick’s Day Cards

Shamrocks, shamrocks everywhere! These easy cards took me just about 15 minutes to make and did not require a hoard of crafting supplies to make. Click on the cards for instructions:

 

Little Shamrocks Card - Handmade St. Patrick's Day Card

Your Valentine’s Day heart punch comes to use here. Punch out little green hearts and glue together 3 or 4 to make shamrocks. Easy!

Lucky Shamrock Card - Handmade St. Patrick's Day Card

Same way of making the shamrock, but the only difference is that 3 heart cutouts are used since this is a large shamrock. I usually have an assortment of basic shapes in different color but I ran out of green heart shapes and hence had to use poster color to make white heart die-cuts green. Again, when searching in my sewing box for matching floss or yarn to use, I could find none to match the exact color. So the poster colors came to my rescue again. I trimmed the yarn and then painted it with the same color.

Handmade Easter Cards

I love to participate in worldwide Easter card exchanges and prefer to send handmade cards – ones my kids can help making. Easter card ideas that are easy to make for little kids (from 2 years to 8 years) and interesting enough for me to try them, is what I have researched upon and I came up with quite a collection. For moms looking for handmade Easter cards that they can create along with their kids, here are the best of them all!

1. Colorful Striped Easter Eggs Card

And this one is for kids to make and share on Easter! The eggs are made by gluing strips of colored and patterned paper.

2. 3D Butterflies

For slightly advanced crafters, this card uses stamped butterflies and acetate sheets for the striking 3D effect.

3D Butterfly Card for Easter or Spring

3. Woven Ribbon Easter Card

Simple and easy card made using pastel colored satin ribbons.

Ribbon Easter Card – Easter Card-Making Project for Kids

4. Religious Cross and Daffodils

Here’s a card I really enjoyed making. The kids handled the ‘cross’ and I enjoyed doing the ‘stamping’ and cutting out bit.

Cross and Daffodils Card

5. Easter Basket Card

Let kids decorate the ‘eggs’ while you work on the basket.

Easter Basket Card

6. Pop Up Easter Chick

With your help, kids will love to create this honeycomb style pop-up Easter chick card. The instructions are in French and you will need Google’s ‘Translate’ tool to read them. The images accompanying the instructions are also very helpful.

pop-up-easter-card

7. Pom Pom Chicks Card

Cute little chicks made with yellow pom poms look pretty on a green card blank.

Pom Pom Chicks Card

Pom Pom Chicks Card

8. Embroidered Easter Egg Card

Easy stitches that any kid would love to accomplish – under your supervision, of course.

emboirdered-easter-egg-card

9. Easter Egg Card

Here is a card I made for my friend Nat who stays in the UK. My daughter made almost all of it. Cutting out a few basic shapes from patterned and colored paper is all that is required.

Green and Blue Easter Egg Card

Elegant Black and White Gift Wrap

Black and White is a classic color combination that looks good everywhere no matter how it is used. Using this combination for wrapping gifts looked like a great idea and once I started dabbling around, the results pleased me. Black and White wrapping paper looks very chic and elegant.

 

Make your own Black & White Gift Wrap

Making wrapping paper at home is an interesting craft activity and also a great way to save money by avoiding the extremely expensive gift wrap. I was making these designs with two goals in mind – they they be simple and easy to make, and that this be a frugal activity. These wrapping papers are made using craft paper and some basic supplies like white paint, a silver pen etc. You will not need an assortment of stamps and embellishments to make these. And which means that those who do not fall into the ‘avid crafters’ category will also find it easy to complete this project since it does not require any specialized techniques or supplies. I hope you enjoy making them and wrapping your gifts in these.

Dotted Stars Gift Wrap

Metallic Gift Wrap

Stenciled Stars Gift Wrap

B/W Striped Gift Wrap

B/W Stroked Gift Wrap

Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas for Him

My Valentine’s Day gift to my dear husband this year were the Lindor truffles mentioned in my last post, a handmade Valentine and a Silver photo frame ready for his desk with the photo of his ‘two favorite girls’ – me and our daughter, Sanika.

Valentine's Day Gift

I prefer Valentine’s Day gifts to be for ‘us’ rather than for ‘him’ or ‘her’. Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate romance and what could be more romantic than sharing a gift together. Some gifts that can be enjoyed together are:

1. DVD/VCD/Audio CDs

2. Chocolates

3. Photo Frames/Albums/Scrapbooks

4. Spa Gift Baskets

5. Movie Night Gift Baskets

6. Movie or Show Tickets

7. Dinner Gift Vouchers

8. Wine

9. Gourmet Gift Basket

10. Scented Candles or Aromatherapy Goodies

So, save the shirts, belts and ties for numerous occasions throughout the year like his birthday or a promotion or simply a ‘Happy No Reason’ and gift him something you will enjoy together on Valentine’s Day.

Red and Gold Valentine’s Day Decorating Ideas

It all started with the pretty Lindor ‘milk can’ chocolate tin. We both love Lindor truffles and this lovely can seemed like a perfect gift for my husband (and myself) this Valentine’s Day.

Lindor's Truffles in a Milk Can - a Valentine's Day Gift to my husband

This red and golden can inspired me to build a Valentine’s Day color scheme around it. Some of the pretty ideas this color scheme sparked are:

Red and Gold Valentine’s Day Card

Handmade Red and Gold Valentine's Day Card

and

Butterflies on Roses

Red and Gold Satin Roses with Paper Butterfly Love Notes

And here are some more ‘Red & Gold’ decor ideas:

Red & Gold Valentine’s Day Decorating

Creative Easter Egg Hunt Ideas

Creative Easter Egg Hunt IdeasAre your kids (and you) bored of the same old Easter egg hunts year after year? Spark some creativity in this year’s egg hunt with these ideas from my website devoted completely to Easter – http://www.celebrating-easter.com/- and some from http://www.DotComWomen.com.

15 Unique Easter Egg Hunt Ideas

A spider web treasure hunt? Secret Notes? Color Coded Eggs? Make your egg hunts unique with these superb ideas.

Creative Easter Egg Hunt Ideas for Older Kids

Give your tweens and teens something different this year. Get creative with Easter necklaces, coupons, Easter story messages and more ideas.

Interesting Ways to Write Egg Hunt Clues

Stuck on how to write the clues? Get some interesting ideas.

Egg Themed Party Games

Eggs are not just for egg hunts. Plan some ‘eggy’ games this Easter

Church Easter Egg Hunt Ideas

Creative ideas to combine the story of Easter into your Church Egg Hunts.

Interesting Home/Apartment Egg Hunt Ideas

Living in an apartment does not mean a boring egg hunt. Here are some cool ideas for indoor and small space egg hunts!

easter-egg-hunt-cupcakesThe Ultimate Easter Egg Hunt

A step-by-step guide to planning the perfect Easter Egg Hunt

Easter Egg Hunts in Inclement Weather

Know what to do if you wake up to rain?

Easter Egg Hunt Cupcakes

Let cupcakes lead the way to your Easter egg hunt!