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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

My guilt free Mac.

I can’t remember when I first ate Macaroni & Cheese. Most kid’s growing up in the seventies ate it. My first fond memory was going to Steinberg supermarket with my Dad to buy Kraft Deluxe Macaroni & Cheese. He bought it for me and I loved it.

The box design has changed but I bet you it still taste's  the same!

Kraft introduced this tasty meal to Canadian and American families in 1937. For me, I loved the Deluxe version. The cheese sauce came in a can. All one did was to open the can mix it with the cooked macaroni and add  pepper. I did one better. To be fancy, I used Kraft pre-sliced Mozzarella cheese on top, then put it under broil. It was great. I can still taste it.

I went through a phase feeling ‘guilty’ eating it. It’s far from healthy. Now, I’ve found a recipe I’ve modify over the years to make it more complete.

So, here it is my guilt less (at least for me) Mac & Cheese recipe…

500 ml  of Carrots cooked and pureed
625 ml  of Chicken Broth
450 grams of uncooked pasta (I like the spiral, it  holds the cheese sauce better!)
1 large finely chopped Onion .
2  cloves of Garlic
60 ml of Butter
60 ml of white Flour
375 ml of sharp cheddar or Gruyere

1 can of Tuna drained
250 ml of grated Parmesan cheese
2 slices of homemade bread for the breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 350 F. The carrots are pureed with 1/4 of the chicken broth. Put aside. Cook pasta until al dente. Cook on slow heat, onion, garlic & butter about 10 minutes. Don’t let it caramelize. Add flour, cook for another minute adding the rest of the chicken broth slowly as if you are making a béchamel. Stir constantly. This must simmer for 5 minutes. Add the pureed carrot’s to this as well as the cheese. Add plenty of pepper. Mix in the pasta and lay into a large 9X13” glass baking dish (Pyrex).
Prepare your topping by mixing together the tuna, parmesan and the breadcrumbs. Spread this over the macaroni. Put into the oven for 20 minutes. Then broil for the last few minutes until golden brown. 

Serve and Bon Appetit!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Thinkin' of a new old Singer...

My first sewing machine is a Singer Fashion Mate 257. So there's good chance that  my next machine will be  an older model  Singer. I'm just use to it. A certain trusted companion that I've grown up with love and admiration for. You know how a certain comfort zone is safe and secure. I love the old mechanical metal machine. Well made, durable beyond compare & long lasting craftsmanship bringing valuable service back like a boomerang.

There's an old video, I've included  from the fifties publicizing the lifestyle of Singer. I love the era. And the idea of how easy the life of a homemaker could be if you had a Singer. It's comical today, but it makes me appreciate why women have fought so hard to work outside the home. To become an equal partner in raising a family. I look at it from the point of publicity and how it left a message for a better 'lifestyle'. It was directed towards the women to be at home, to save money by sewing her own garments and home decor. To make her home  a cozy place for her family.

This is the model in the video!

I'm looking at a few all beautiful metal machines. They're all pretty basic mechanical machines producing straight and zigzag stitch. My Fashion Mate has worked extremely hard and it's due time to have a second machine. I'd like to give her a rest, but not for long because she's meant to work. She deserves a gold medal for her amazing effort. A backup would be useful, just in case if she needs a break. Funny, It seems that these machines are older than my current Singer. The machines are  from the 60s & 70s. My favorite time.

The beautiful and regal, 237!

There's one site that I'm loving. You can feel the LOVE for vintage sewing machines. I really like to put my hands on the 237. A good choice for me. I look at it and drool for the style and design of the machine. This beauty would suit my needs well. The Rocketeer is another kindred mechanical soul to my heart. Full of style and almost Jetson like. Typical of that era, ridiculously Fabulous!

The outer space connection...
The Rocketeer!

Of course, I've looked at other brands but I don't know them as well as the Singer. One things for sure, my next sewing machine  will be all metal. I'm off to sew something, bye for now!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The ‘G’ Evolution.

The premise for the ‘G’ in Galstudio came to me with the help from Richard and two bottle’s  of wine. A  winning  combination for brainstorming.

I opened Galstudio on Etsy back in November  2008 to sell my hand knit items. Now, the evolution of my little business has moved forward selling cycling caps and recycled bike inner tube products.  I’ll give Richard the deserved praise for inventing the Galstudio name. It was his idea.  Gal is the first three letters of my last name. And add the word studio and voila!

The first time I saw a simple but effective hole punch with the swirling ‘G’ it was my eureka moment. This was the launch of my Galstudio name design. On the other side, it took me long to cut the cards and most of the time the punch didn’t work properly and my cards were trash. The other way to have a cut out design is to spend too much on outsourcing it. Not cost effective.

Mooing along…

Then I came across Moo. It’s not selling diary products but business cards. What is fantastic about Moo is that there is endless ways to design your own cards. I like to work with color and Moo provides me with a vast choice.  I’m now waiting for our business cards and the anticipation is high. I can’t wait for them to arrive.

Like all design,  change is constant. And my product labels have changed too, over time. I’ve experimented with fabric and I realized it was bulky and I didn’t like the result. Working  with the inner tubes, I’ve found a way to combine to make my own labels. People have emailed me how to do this.

But, I have to keep a few secrets …right?! 

Sunday, March 21, 2010

20 steps to my cycling caps!

Getting ready to sew the darts.

I mentioned to Richard the other day about our cycling caps and wanted to know how many steps it takes.  Every hat maker has their own method and not to mention standards. I thought it would be fun to compile a list. Here goes…

1.              Designing the cap.
2.              Finding a name & description
3.              Buying the fabric & trim
4.              Washing all fabric & trim
5.              Cutting the fabric & interfacing
6.              Assembly of darts.
7.              Ironing
8.              Tucking in all the loose threads
9.              Assembly of all panels
10.          Finishing  the inside cap
11.          Sewing the stripe on the cap
12.          Assembly of the brim
13.          More Ironing
14.          Sewing the inner band
15.          Sewing the Galstudio logo
16.          Trying the cap for size
17.          Sewing the elastic
18.          Finishing the inner band
19.          Threading
20.          Putting on the hang tag.

 After all those years as a production manager, I still think in terms of breaking down a project into shorter tasks. It comes in handy as I now have Richard in production!

Oh, and let's not forget. The secret ingredient that is part of all the steps in making a good cycling cap...

Finishing the Orangeman!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Great change in fashion history.

I have many interests. Back in the day, quite a few years ago, I studied fashion design in College back in Quebec. My love for fashion has always been based historically. Years later I graduated from the Emily Carr Art School touching upon art history. Their both share a rich, visual & social history. None couldn't be without each other.

Living close to a brand new library, just a walk away, means so much to me. The library is so exciting for me. I remember when Quebec City opened it's new centralized main library around 1984. The library means to me an endless amount of knowledge and inspiration for free. Everything is there. I love the internet but I do enjoy holding and reading a book. It's all visual & tactile.

I've come across this wonderful book, The Empire's New Clothes by Christine Ruane. When I took fashion history class it was unexplained how Russia was influenced by European fashion. There was no choice for the people. On January 4th, 1700 Peter the Great imposed a reform stating that all Russian dress will not be worn. He said, "All residents of the city of Moscow must wear German dress, French & Saxon coats and ride in German saddles..."

Peter the Great in European dress.
From: The Empire's New Clothes.

Today, It hasn't changed much, there's still a few fashion 'dictators' who choose what we will wear. But at least we can all make a choice!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Singin' the Opera Cake.

I love cooking but there's a certain magic about baking. My fascination first started as a little girl. Around 6 years old. I was too small, so I had to stand on a chair so I could be high enough to stir the cake.
Mom would put out the ingredients. And I would mix everything together. Then Mom would bake it. I would make the icing. My favorite thing about baking is creaming the sugar & the butter. You know when you have a good foundation. It's so important. I love it when I have company over so I have an excuse to go all out and bake something extra special...

Ricardo Larrivée is one of my three influential cooks. When I received his magazine in the mail I looked at the recipe for the gateau Opera and just had to make it. Even my partner, Richard, screamed for it.

After reading the recipe, at least three times, it looked complex but not complicated. It's a real thin almond cake that is dipped in coffee with three different butter creams: vanilla, chocolate & coffee... topped with an ganache. It always iffy when you go about tackling a new recipe for the first time. Especially for guests. I felt confident and it turned out perfectly. Jim, Jen & Richard went twice. I called it successful.

I'm already thinking of how I can modify this wonderful cake to give it a festive feel to it. Baileys or Contreau? How about egg nog? I'm certainly keeping this cake in my book!

The finished creation:
my Opera Cake.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

And... five more!

We've been working hard since February 22nd with five more cycling caps. Introducing: (Top center clockwise) Orangeman, Tempo, Routier (French for road racer), New Pave Racer & Amore.

The New Pave Racer is back and is a slick darker color than the previous model. This crop of new caps are extra special. With a request by Hans for a good fitting cycling cap, we introduce the Orangeman our tribute to the cycling nation of Holland. All five are now for purchase on my Etsy site!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Ventoux on the Isle of Islay!

I now have an association with thewashingmachinepost in a good way that Richard from has. Sending off my Ventoux cycling cap for a hopeful review has garnered an positive & warm reception over on the Isle of Islay. Scotch is the drink over there and I approve of it. I definitely love my Single Malt Scotch after a hardworking day. My half Scottish side supports it.

Brian sent me a response on his famous cycling review website about Galstudio's Ventoux cycling cap. Of course, it's name is from the famous volcano in the Tour de France. And yes we (the minions) are producing more Ventoux's as I speak. I've put down my scissors to write this, of course. It's a popular cycling cap, probably my third best seller.

I like the fact that Brian referred to the tweed run in London. Vancouver just had one in February. My tweed cycling cap would go very well on the heads of all riders. Brian writes well and I enjoyed his review very much. I feel honored to receive such a positive review.

Thanks again to Brian at thewashingmachinepost!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Under my cycling cap.

Galstudio's Paris-Roubaix Cycling Cap.

Today marks the first anniversary of selling my very first cycling cap. With the Belgian Classics starting it's appropriate that it was called Paris-Roubaix cycling cap.

Upon reflection, I started to sell my knitting goods on Etsy and that was my plan. Until, Richard came up with a request for a good cycling cap. Richard was searching for one and he was stuck with store bought ones that was ok but lacking in style and quality. I looked at his existing cap and I knew that I could make one much better. I took measurements and made a paper pattern and made my first one. My first cap was made from a cheap cotton that's used as a model to make sure it fits perfectly before cutting into the good fabric.

Surprisingly, the first cap was the ugliest but between the actually pattern & sewing something had happen. The brim was too wide, not deep enough and just too big. No problem, I made another pattern thinking it should work. It didn't. I had to calculate what a really cap should fit like. The challenge is how a flat form can fit on an egg shape. Not every fabric can do your bidding. I knew somewhere in the back of my mind that I could do it. I do have a diploma in fashion design from Quebec. It's been a long time but it's like riding a bike. Eventually it will all come back to you!

Measurements are crucial and to get a good fit is important unless you don't mind to have a diaper on your head! Overall it took me ten trials and trying different fits with three, four and seven panels. I finally came back with the four panel with darts, it fitted the best. Why? It fits deep, feels snug not tight, the brim is nice and soft and will bend without damage. The fabric is pre-washed so no unsightly color bleeding. And you can re-wash it without shrinking. Of course, Richard loves the sportiness and urban look.

When Richard saw the final project, he went nuts and said that you gotta sell this. I'm happy to say he still wears the Paris-Roubaix as well as a dozen more. Galstudio has grown since the very first cycling cap. I've added all sorts of accessories ranging from recycled inner tube pouches for Macbook Laptops, keys/ID/coins & the latest for the iPhone. Soon I will start selling a coffee cozy made from inner tubes. Just after this cup of coffee!

Monday, March 1, 2010


My Eureka Moment!

You know it when a eureka moment happens. Well, I had one and as I looked at Richard we both knew...

We had Peter over for dinner on the weekend and asked him for his iPhone. It's important to have the actually item to model with. Our idea was simple make a fun iPhone holder, the Galstudio way. My first prototype was a sad one. Just a sleeve. Even Peter wasn't moved by it. But, then on his second visit over he liked it. Caressing it he liked the second version the best and even gave us input on how to close it.

My inspiration came from my handmade journal and kept with the design of the gray & black textured strip. I've added a new sexy twist like a corset with reusable bicycle chain links. It's stunning.

Look for it in my Etsy shop in a week or two!