Christmas cookies

As Christmas is this Saturday, I think you will enjoy putting yourself in a christlassy ambiance by cooking these little Christmas biscuits.

If you’ve come to one of the wreaths workshop in December you might have tried some of these… and it’s all about butter and sugar!

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Melt the butter
  2. Mix all ingredients in a bowl, with your hands or an electric mixer.
  3. Let it rest for 1 or 2 hours.
  4. Flour the surface and pull out the dough. Make the little biscuits using cookie cutters to make any shape you want.
  5. Bake in the oven for 10minutes at 210C
  6. Let the cookies cool down for a bit. You can decorate them or just enjoy them like that!
  7. You can store the biscuits in a metallic box or a jar for approximately 2 weeks… but you might eat them all before that


Tell me if you tried them and send me some nice pics!

The Vision Board

What is a vision board/ a dream board?

The vision board, or dream board is, as its name suggests, a picture in which you will express your wishes, desires and you dreams for the near future.

The more precisely these are expressed, the more likely you are to see them come true. In general, we make a vision board for the year that is about to begin or for the months to come. We can put absolutely anything we want in it.

The law of attraction

The vision board is a practical exercise in the law of attraction (The more positive you think, the more positive you attract. The more negative you think, the more negative you attract). It allows us to visualize our objectives in order to achieve them. This is a collage of visuals that represent our goals.

For example, my goal is to eat healthier. I'm going to put images of healthy dishes, vegetables, fruits, but why not also healthy people on my vision board… this will increase the chances of seeing this new healthy habit appear in my life. I will draw him to me.

How to achieve it?

To make a vision board it is important to be quiet, away from everyday life or noise. Do not think too much about your vision board in advance and above all do not set limits on what you want to put in it.

to start the vision board, you can either list the things you want for the coming year for example on a sheet of paper, or simply take random magazines (and of different types) and leaf through them.

You will thus gradually cut out images or words, or even just shapes, which speak to you and attract you.

It is not necessary to always see a meaning in it, sometimes it will reveal itself during the following year!

Be careful, the more specific you are in what you put on your board, the more likely you are to attract it to you, so don't hesitate 🙂

After selecting the images and words that speak to you, you can cut them out and paste them on a large sheet. Add, if you wish, textures, paint, colors, drawings etc. Anything that seems important to you and that you want to attract to you.

Why is it important to display it at home?

Once the vision board has been created, display it in your home. It's important to put it somewhere you'll be looking at every day.

The more you look at it consciously, the more likely you are that these elements will come true. So it is not enough to take a look at it, but really to observe it for a few moments each day.

Coming to a Vision Board workshop

let yourself be carried away by the instructions to build your vision board step by step. During a 4-hour session, you will let your creativity and your dreams shine through.

I'll walk you through the process, and we'll share this sweet moment together.

You will therefore have the opportunity to create your own vision board, by making collages, drawings, writing on a large poster. You can then take it home and display it proudly in a place you come to look at every day. Throughout the following year, you will be able to see and attract these dreams to you.

During the session, you will also share this moment with the other people in the workshop. You can come and help each other if you wish, chat, eat small biscuits and drink coffee or tea. The idea is also to spend a pleasant moment of sharing that cuts you off from your daily life. It will then be easier at this time to let your desires and your dreams speak, without thinking about it too much.

VISION BOARD WORKSHOPS

A sustainable Christmas

Christmas is a time of year when we tend to consume a lot more than usual. Although it is often part of the magic of this season, I like to think that it is also possible to minimize our impact on the planet.

A big impact on the planet

Carbon impact

In a few figures, just over the 3-4 days around Christmas, the carbon footprint per person at 650 kg of carbon emissions. That's almost half of what we should emit in 1 year to stay on course for 2050 (during the Paris COP21 agreements in 2015, an annual carbon footprint target of 2 tons per person has been set for 2050)… In addition, this figure of 650 kg per person was revealed in a study by the Stockholm Environment Institute in 2007. We can imagine that with the explosion of the consumer society in the last 10 years, we have certainly exceeded this number to reach rather 1 ton per person.

Travel

Very often you will spend Christmas with your owns, i your family and it is completely understandable and part of the spirit of these end-of-year celebrations. This is why the Christmas period has such a significant impact on our beautiful planet. Indeed, while some will take trains and other means of public transport to join their families, most households will take their personal vehicle to get around. This will ultimately represent a very significant pollution during the holiday seasons, all over the world. Some families even travel by plane to join their loved ones at the end of December. On the other hand, given the number of journeys made by car compared to the plane, it is the use of cars that pollutes the most at Christmas, contrary to what one might think.

Food waste

The impact of the Christmas holidays on the planet in terms of food is essentially reflected in a disproportionate overabundance and considerable food waste. According to a 2019 study by the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), throughout the year, we throw away and waste almost 17% of what we produce as food in the world. In some areas this rises to almost a third, even 50%. Food losses and waste have an estimated impact on the climate of 3.3 giga tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year.

Gifts and packaging waste

The impact of the Christmas holidays on the planet is also present at the level of our garbage cans, since, each year in France and in other European countries such as Germany, we observe a 20% increase in waste at the end-of-year holiday season. In addition to food waste, the culprits are gift wrap and all cardboard and plastic packaging for gifts. Very often, the papers used are used only once and are crumpled up and then thrown in the trash. Imagine all the paper (and therefore the resources used) that we would save if everyone wrapped their gifts with recycling or reusing paper from other years. The madness of gifts and the very strong belief that "you have to give a gift and a new one" remains rooted in our society. Unfortunately, consuming only new products forces production and therefore the consumption of resources. According to a Kantar study for Ebay, in 2020, 18% of French people planned to resell the Christmas gifts that had been offered to them. According to the same study, no less than 363 million euros are spent on unwanted or unpopular gifts each year. In short, it is 1 out of 3 gifts that will be bought new but will never be used. Another waste of resources.Pay attention to the quantities this year, or just eat the left overs for a long time if you’d like, but don’t waste ! There’s always the option of giving to your invités the left overs of the big Christmas dinner, if you are not able to finish everything yourself before it gets too old.

The solutions available to you

A sustainable meal, but not in quantity

If you pay attention to the food you buy, you can mostly choose local products and vegetables that are suited to the season. You can also give an extra care in buying from local providers, seasonal products and organic veggies and fruits, and even cook a vegetarian Christmas dinner!

Pay attention to the quantities this year, or just eat the left overs for a long time if you’d like, but don’t waste ! There’s always the option of giving to your invités the left overs of the big Christmas dinner, if you are not able to finish everything yourself before it gets too old.

Buying eco friendly presents

Try as much as you can to buy eco friendly gift.

No wrapping paper : use furoshikis

Do you know about Furoshiki?

It’s a Japanese traditional wrapping cloth. It can be use to wrap a present or just transport objects. It will allow you not to use to much paper this year, and it is also part of the present. A beautiful Furoshiki is already a beautiful gift. And I will make some, only on special orders this year. You can ask me for the colors and patterns I have in stock or check out in the shop.

Avoid travelling miles

If you can, try not to travel too much for Christmas as it is part of a very big pollution. If you have to travel, prefer taking the train than the plane or the car. Think sustainability. Maybe this year you don’t need to go to see your family a cross the ocean?

What we should remember…

The impact of the Christmas holidays on the planet is huge and yet unsuspected. The most important thing is to be conscious and aware when we consume for Christmas.

It is essential to remember why we celebrate Christmas even without being religious: to rest during a break, to enjoy with family and friends, to share moments together and reunite, to create memories or to show gratitude for the past year.

These reasons are not supposed to harm the planet and the environment, they are actually opposed to it. Thus, remove all the superfluous that we added unnecessarily to Christmas, to find the pure essence of this holiday: gather with your loved ones and share a great time together.

Drying Oranges at home

Why drying oranges?

For this winter you can decorate your home with slices of citrus fruit to make in the oven. It’s easy to make, cost effective and gives a very nice sent in your home during the preparation. If you have an oven you should defenitly try it!

You can use these dehydrated slices for:

  • decorate your Christmas wreaths
  • make a 100% natural garland
  • decorate a potpourri in the living room
  • decorate your Christmas table
  • decorate gift packages to your loved ones

In this post I would like to tell you how I did it for the first time this year. It was really easy but I must warn you that it can take a long time to dry well. Let’s see how to make some at home…

Preparation

Tools

To make some nice orange slices you will need :

Preheating the oven

Once you have everything in front of you, you can already preheat the oven at 75°C or 80°C. Make sure your oven stays that temperature during all the drying part. If it gets too hot, you will see your slices become brown (and we don’t want that!).

Cutting the oranges

You can start cutting the oranges in beautiful slices of approximately 3 to 4mm maximum. Make sure your knife is really sharp (and be careful not to cut any finger^^). The thinner the slices are, the easiest the drying part is gonna be. If your slices are more than 6mm, don’t use them (you can eat them right now). They will take forever to dry or will burn before they are completely dry.

Wringing the slices

Before putting the slices on the oven rack, you should wring them with a towel or paper. A big part of the juice will come out and you will save some time for the drying part in the oven. Make sure you don’t smash the slices during this procedure.

Drying in the oven

You can now put the slices on the oven rack (on a parchment/backing paper). Dispose them in one single layer, they can touch each other because they will become a bit smaller when drying.

Put them in the oven now, and keep the temperature between 70°C and 80°C.

Every 30min you will turn them upside down, so each part of the orange is dried the same way. It’s important to do so, otherwise your oranges can burn on one side.

The slices will be completely dry in 3 to 4 hours approximately, depending on the thickness of the slices, and your oven of course. Some pieces may dry quickly, in less 2 hours. Make sure that every 30min you remove the ones that are already dried.

If the oven becomes too hot, just remove the racks and let them dry a bit outside, until they completely cool down. Of course you will set your oven to a minimum temperature, or let the door open for a few minutes. Then you can put the slices back in the oven and continue the procedure (but normally this doesn’t happen if you follow the instructions).

If the oven becomes too hot, just remove the racks and let them dry a bit outside, until they completely cool down. Of course you will set your oven to a minimum temperature, or let the door open for a few minutes. Then you can put the slices back in the oven and continue the procedure (but normally this doesn’t happen if you follow the instructions).

Do not try to dry them faster by adding some degrees in the oven, it just doesn’t work.

Each time you will remove some dried slices, you can put them on a cold rack or a plate to let them cool down slowly.

How to store the dried slices

Once every slice is dried, you can let them in your kitchen during a day, to make sure they don’t stay humid or warm. Then, you can store them in a jar, a metal box, or anything that will keep them from getting dry or humid.

Of course you can use them directly for whatever you want : nice decors in your living room, setting a table for celebrations, etc.

If you have tried it please let me know I would be so happy to see it!

What sewing machine for beginners ?

1. Why buy a sewing machine?

If you think you're going to fix a few buttons and the holes in the bottom of the pockets with a sewing machine, I'll save you some money: it won't be necessary to buy a sewing machine! 😂

A sewing machine is for sewing bigger pieces such as clothes, accessories, bags, pouches, covers, bed sheets, cushion covers, furniture...

Thanks to the purchase of a sewing machine, you will be able to let your creativity speak. It will be a great weekend activity, you can go for a walk at the fabric market on Saturday morning to finally wear your new, freshly sewn dress, on Saturday evening or at Sunday brunch! 🤩

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2. What are the different types of machines?

So let's start by telling you what types of sewing machines are there.

2.1. Electronic Sewing Machines

Electronic machines have a wide selection of stitches (including decorative stitches) and features thanks to a mini computer built into the machine. They are no more complicated to use than mechanical machines (older ones)! They have several motors to control the movement of the needle (sideways, forwards or backwards), which allows them to operate with a degree increased precision.

2.2. The lockmachines

These machines are used to finish the edges of fabrics to prevent them from fraying and give a more professional look to seams and hems. You will not need one to start. The zigzag stich on a classic electronic machine will do to start.

2.3. The embroiderers

These machines make it possible to do embroidery on fabric. Some do just that while others can also do the job of a sewing machine. Some sewing machines also offer an embroidery unit to add to the machine, for embroidery.

2.4. Industrial sewing machines

These are machines generally designed for a single point or a single task. For example, a quilter only sews straight stitches! The most common industrial machines are overlockers, coverlocks, stitchers, buttonhole machines... These machines are robust and efficient. Of course you will not need one for now.

3. How to choose a beginner sewing machine?

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3.1. What use I will make of it?

The first question to ask is: "what use will I make of it?". If the idea is to use your sewing machine for leisure, occasionally, keep it simple. Avoid going to sewing machines that offer 30 different stitches. Quite simply, because you won't have any use for it, but also because a machine that you use using several points may quickly break down.

3.2. Robustness

This naturally brings us to the second essential criterion: robustness! A relatively heavy machine is a solid, stable and resistant machine. In summary, if you want to invest in quality equipment, avoid colorful, light machines, which offer a host of different stitches. It’s tempting, but they are not the most reliable!

3.3. Fonctionnalities

Your sewing machine must be equipped with a forward stitch, a reverse stitch and a zigzag stitch and the automatic or semi-automatic buttonhole. This is more than enough to start sewing. You can always choose a sewing machine that also offers one or two decorative stitches, but no more.

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3.4. The budget

Brands like Singer or Brother are very reliable. But there’s no real “good” or “bad” brands. I think they are all good in the end. The ideal is to go to a shop to have an someone who will guide you at the time of purchase but also in case of difficulties afterwards. On the budget side, count about 150-200 euros for a quality sewing machine, corresponding to the needs of a beginner.

4. Top 5 budget models

People often ask me which sewing machine I recommend for beginners. It is always something complicated because there is not really a “cheap” sewing machine. I would say that the first prices of sewing machines are from 150€ (to have something nice), and can go up to several thousand euros of course!

So it is not at all easy to find your way around. When we want to get into sewing we always have this dilemma. Whether or not to invest in a sewing machine. We don't really know if we're going to like sewing, since we may have never tried it, or just a few times. But if you love it, then don't you want to spend 200€ on a cheap machine and have to buy a better one later?

Especially since the more expensive the machine, the more pleasant it will be to use. And contrary to what you might think, starting out on a machine that is difficult to adjust makes sewing less fun and much more difficult in the beginning.

In any case, you can come and test the sewing during the sewing workshops of L'Atelier de Pandora. You can even come with your own sewing project and we will discuss it together!

I have therefore selected 5 sewing machines for beginners...

4.1. Singer 333 Fashion Mate 

Singer 333 Fashion Mate naaimachine (about 150€).

Strenghts of this sewing machine

  • Easy handling
  • Good finish
  • Functional and easy to use
  • Very competitive price...
  • Lightweight and easy to carry

4.2. Singer Single 3221

Singer Simple 3221 White/Blue Sewing Machine (about 170€).

  • Automatic threading
  • 21 programs
  • Extra high foot position
  • 1-step automatic buttonhole

4.3. Bernina Bernette Sew & Go

Bernina Bernette Sew & GO8 (about 380€).

  • Very quiet machine
  • Easy to use
  • Many decoration points available
  • Nice design

4.4. Brother FS 40 Electronic Sewing Machine

Brother FS 40 Electronic Sewing Machine (about 380€).

  • Simple to use
  • Silent
  • Great variety of stitches
  • Lightweight

4.5. Pfaff Smarter manual sewing machine

PFAFF SMARTER 140S sewing machine with 5 year warranty (about 260€).

  • Easy to use
  • Good value for money
  • Silent

5. The sewing machine I use every day: the PFAFF Passport 2.0

I bought this very first sewing machine in 2018. I actually started sewing in the 1900’s when I was young, with my mother's old Singer. It was with a manual sewing machine that I learned to sew, little by little. Then, during teenage, I completely stopped sewing and only resumed when I finished my studies, after my first job.

In fact, that's when I really learned to sew, and from there came my passion for sewing. I had just moved to Nantes and started as a freelancer in web communication (a job that I still do full time). I then spent half the week sewing and testing techniques, and the other half at my web agency.

I finally perfected myself thanks to youtube videos and free patterns on the internet. Something that wouldn't have been possible when I was little since we didn't even have internet! 🙈

So this famous first machine (and still current) is the passport 2.0 from the Pfaff brand. Although this is not of great importance when it comes to choosing a sewing machine, it should still be noted that the pfaff passport 2.0 sewing machine is of particular beauty. Indeed, it attracts the eye with its beautiful colors and its particular finishes. In addition, it must be admitted that it is not only beautiful to look at, it is also robust, solid and resistant to shocks!

In addition to its sleek design, the Pfaff Passport 2.0 sewing machine is also ergonomic and very light. In fact, it weighs only 6.3 kg, which makes it easy to transport (but still quite heavy I can tell you).

The Pfaff Passport 2.0 machine is sold with many accessories. Much more than necessary for a beginner, but you will end up using them some day believe me. What I prefer about this machine is its noise: it is very low.

In other words, you can easily sew your fabrics with this machine, because it is fed with great regularity above and below. This therefore makes it possible to work on all types of fabrics (thick, thin, stretchy), without folding them, and even with faux-leather. Thus, the PFAFF Passport 2 sewing machine achieves precise assembly and smooth sewing, while avoiding shifts.

To recap, here are the main features of the Pfaff Passport 2.0 sewing machine:

I am truely happy about this sewing machine and I wouldn’t change it !!!

6. The sewing machines that are available in the Workshop

I offer sewing workshops all year round, by appointment only. the workshops aim to open you up to the world of sewing, to discover your talents, and why not, to improve your skills.

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I offer projects such as making small handbags, or make-up remover wipes. You can also come with your own project, and ask me how we could work together for you to carry it out. This was the case of Virginie, who wanted to make her white dress for her civil wedding.

During these private workshops, all equipment is included! You don't need to bring your own machine, I'll lend you one. These are second-hand sewing machines, which I buy from individuals on the internet (on marktplaats or on facebook marletplace). They all work well, and are beginner machines.

Come and test them, and tell me if, following a workshop, you ended up buying your own machine!

Make your own Granola !

The origins of Granola

Granola was invented in the early 1860s in the United States by Dr. James Caleb Jackson, manager of a health resort in New York. He uses for its manufacture a dough of flour spread in a thin layer and baked, and then calls it “Granula”, from the Latin name "granum" which means "seed".

The grunola was then soaked in milk overnight and served as breakfast to patients. The whole point of this was to provide healthy food for his patients.

A few years later, Doctor John Harvey Kellogg would have had the same idea. Following legal proceedings, Dr. Kellogg was forced to change his name from "grunola" to granola !

It was in the 1960s that the Hippie movement, which modified the basic recipe to obtain a more natural mixture, made granola truly known and healthy at the same time. They decided to add fruit and honey, for example, for more indulgence and a truly complete breakfast.

Today, the granolas that we find on the market are often of low nutritional quality or very expensive. Yet, prepared and eaten the right way, granola can offer a multitude of health benefits, and in some cases even be a real healthy snack.

When to eat Granola ?

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Of course, it can be consumed at any other time of the day and even as a dessert. Personally, I never eat breakfast. I'm just not hungry when I wake up! So I eat granola as a snack at 10 a.m., or in the afternoon.

Sometimes, I even take it as dessert, for lunch or dinner, with 0% cottage cheese or yogurt. This really makes it possible to close the appetite and it is both so good!

Most of the time granola is eaten for breakfast. It represents a rather complete contribution for this important meal of the day.

The benefits of Granola

Granola, due to its composition, offers many health benefits for everyone, at all ages. Of course, it all depends on what you are going to put in your granola. But on the basis of a “classic” granola, we can easily say that it will:

And the best thing about granola is that it is suitable for everyone, young and old, athletes, pregnant or breastfeeding women, etc!

Why doing it yourself?

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I always find it interesting to do it yourself, in general. Products like Granola are so easy to make that I don't see much point in buying a ready-made one. Especially since it gives us the freedom to put what we want inside. For a few months I have been on a diet, and I try not to eat too much of things that are too sweet or too fatty. Being able to make my own granola and take it with 0% yogurt is a great way to keep control over my diet, while having fun.

So here are some reasons why you should make your own granola, rather than buying it:

The Basic Ingredients of a Good Granola

I think you are now convinced about making your own granola ! So, here are the traditional ingredients to make a good granola:

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  • Oats (oatmeal): it is one of the cereals richest in protein, but also has a large amount of amino acids that promote digestion. Oats do not contain gluten.
  • Nuts: they contain fiber, protein, minerals, vitamins B and E, as well as healthy fats for the heart and the whole body. You can use the ones you prefer: walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, cashews, pistachios, etc.

How to make it?

Nothing's easier ! Just mix all the ingredients together. Once the mixture is done, you can choose to add a sweet binder, such as agave syrup or maple syrup.

Here is my recipe :

Mix everything in a large bowl, except the chocolate chips.

Spread the blend on a baking sheet and bake at 170°C for 30 minutes.

Then let cool completely, untouched, to form small packets of the blend. When almost cold, add the chocolate chips on top. Then let it dry for a while.

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How to store granola?

To best preserve your granola, it must be stored in a dry, cool and dark place.

It is best to place it in an airtight container such as a glass jar for example, in the cupboard.

I advise you not to store it in the refrigerator, because it will loose taste and will soften. Just use old jars of tomato sauce or jam, no need to break the bank !