Tuesday, March 24, 2009

On my favorites list

I hope you shop on Etsy.
I really do,
because it's the best shopping place
in the whole wide world.

Here's a peek at some of my recent favorites.

Buy Handmade

What's on your favorite list right now?
Make your own Etsy mini here.

Friday, March 20, 2009

I make stuff

I've been busy making stuff around here. The machine never seems to stop, but it's the season for it. I always get the itch to sew like a maniac in spring. I don't know why.
I thought you guys might like a peek at what's been sliding out from under my presserfoot.

My 1st project was Olivia's dress. My crazy beautiful child who picks out fabrics and colors I would probably never look at. She pick out the fabrics for this dress all on her own. We decided on the bird fabric and I thought I would pick out the coordinating fabric, but no matter how many bolts of dark purple and magenta I pulled out, Olivia kept saying "no." We went upstairs and enlisted the help of our local quilt store employee and friend, Mary. Still nothing suitable to a 5 year old's taste was found in purple. So I finally asked her "Well, just what fabric do you want?" (I think I may have said this with just a touch of desperation in my voice.) She makes her way oh so casually down the row of bolts, running her finger across them and then stops in front of the section I never go to, the oranges. She stands there studying them for about 2 seconds, says, "I was thinking more like fall colors Mommy." Grabs 2 bolts of fabric off the shelf, carries them over to the cutting table, thumps them down, "Like these!" she says and then walks off, totally unconcerned, to get herself a cup of tea. Mary and I walk over and study her fabric choices. They match the bird fabric perfectly. Colors match, the prints are perfectly sized to coordinate, the tones are perfect. Everything is a match. Mary's jaw about hits the table in amazement and I just shake my head. Mary tells me that I should listen to Olivia more often. And I laugh.
Because I don't know any other 5, almost 6 year old who can match fabrics better than 2 women who have been sewing most of their life. Maybe I should listen to her more.
My 2nd project wasn't really my project at all. Well, it kind of was, but it kind of wasn't. See that bunny in Olivia's arms? She sewed it together, and stuffed it, and dressed it. Two Christmas's ago, a dear friend with the most dearest of hearts bought Olivia a "Sew-A-Bunny" kit. She meant well. She really did. I put it away in the top of the closet until last fall. Then I pulled it out because Olivia had been asking to learn how to sew and could she use the machine? Well, I was busy using the machine myself at the time and thought this might be the perfect "1st project." Let's just say it wasn't and I put it back in the top of the closet. But Olivia has never forgotten nor has she let me forget that she had an unfinished bunny up there.
Some time recently the bunny got taken down, how I don't know. Probably by the unknowing father, I'm guessing. Olivia decided to give it a try again. So I threaded the needle and showed her how to hold it, reiterate the same instructions again and again. Then I promptly went back to my own sewing. Which was not a good plan. Every two stitches, Olivia came to me for help. It was definitely not my best teaching moment and tears were shed on both sides and a few swear words rolled around in my head. But, we took a little break, sat down on the bed together and finished that rabbit. She stuffed it and I sewed the last bit closed and we were done!
I can not tell you how proud she was to show her daddy when he came home.
I think we both learned valuable lessons with that project. One being: Never give a child a "sew-your-own-stuffed-animal" kit before the age of 8!

My 3rd project was a special order purse for my friend Jenni. I showed her the one that I had made and she immediately ordered one of her own. I have enjoyed making it again. It is good practice for me since I'm teaching a class on this very bag in two weeks. I used some more of the chocolate linen and she ordered the cutest Japanese print fabric from this great Etsy seller. (He shipped it 1 hour after I purchased it!)
I'm very pleased with the results and can't wait to take it to her.

If you are interested in one of your own, please feel free to email me for prices.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Camping We Must Go...

with pretty things and flowers on our table. Real dishes and curtains fluttering in the wind. Tiny beds made up with warm down comforters, and thumb-tack postcards on our wall.

Mike and I are in the very middle of planning out our vacation time for the 1st half of the year. And while we do have differing opinions on most everything else, one thing we always agree on is a camping trip. It's usually a big one. 4 days, no electricity, no showers (ick, I know but we do "wash" every night,) cooking over the fire, sleeping in a tent, lots of hiking, etc. It's always tons of fun and we love it. But, we have thought about purchasing a camper to take with us, to ease the amount of work and leave room for more of the "fun" stuff.
In this months MaryJane's Farm magazine there was a whole article on "glam-ping" (glamor camping) and ladies who use vintage campers. We thought it was pretty cool and then low and behold I found a vintage camper on craigslist over the weekend. And today I've run across the coolest photo shoot ever and I think this is seriously something we are going to have to do!

Because seriously, who wouldn't want to go camping, if you could look this cool while doing it? :)

Photography by Nicole Hill Gerulat for Rubberball

Monday, March 09, 2009

Food on my table

Last summer I read a post on Kelly McCaleb's blog about a little thing called "Square Foot Gardening." I thought it sounded interesting so I followed the links to the website and the books. Mike and I both grew up gardening and both of our parents are big gardeners still. But they live in the country with plenty of land and we live on a very small lot in a subdivision. So, any way that we can garden has to be done on a small scale. I looked up Mel Bartholomew's book at our local library and was pleasantly surprised to see that they had it. I checked it out and was impressed, if slightly skeptical, of the methods used. I showed both the website and book to Mike, but at the time he was work overloaded and stressed with no time to think about gardening. I bookmarked one and returned the other, putting gardening notions on the back-burner.
So spring turned into summer, summer into fall, and I saw Kelly's posts with pictures on the abundance of their own square foot garden, and fall started to lead into winter.

After almost 7 years of looking, Mike and I have finally found several like-minded, dear friends that we hang out with, do Bible studies with, and go to church with. During these fall/winter months we have all been talking about our desire to grow our own food. With the rising costs of groceries, organic or not, we have found it difficult to purchase food that meets our desires and standards at a price we can justify. The concerns of genetically modified foods and pesticides and chemicals keep us discussing for hours. So we kept talking, and talking, and talking. Finally deciding that the only realistic thing to do is grow it ourselves. My husband and I, and one of our couple friend's, jumped in with both feet and Mike found a way to make some raised bed gardens for a minimal cost outlay (my ever resourceful husband!) We all began researching ideas and strategies, seed companies, and plans. We checked out multiple books on container gardening from the library and one of those books just happened to be Mel's book, The All New Square Foot Garden." Imagine that! Mike was immediately impressed and decided that this was the one and only way to go!
So full speed ahead! We gathered our boxes, compost, peat moss, and vermiculite and mixed it all together. Cut the boxes to size and filled them. And they have sat, for several weeks now, waiting. Our last project before we planted was to lay down a grid across the boxes, and with the lovely weather we had this past weekend, that's exactly what we did. Miss Rose had so much fun playing in the water and muddy dirt after we were finished. I think it was the delight of her day.

Mike and I have spend hours and hours and hours pouring over seed catalogs. My friend and I became a little impatient and, without waiting for all of the seed catalogs to come in, went ahead and ordered the bulk of our seeds from the old Burpee's.
May I strongly strongly urge you not to use them if you are gardening. We've been very disappointed with their service and products. Shipping is a whole other story that I won't go into here. I wish that I had waited 2 more days before placing our order, because a catalog came to our home that Mike and I have completely fallen in-love with. It is called, "Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds." It is a "pure seed" company that was started 11 years ago by a 17 year old young man named Jere Gettle, who had a passion for gardening and saving heirloom seeds. His passion has grown and so has his collection. He now has heirloom seeds from all over the world. Mexico, Taiwan, Iraq, France, and Australia to name a few. He is now married and he and his wife have built a living-history village and farm in the Ozark hills of Missouri (Oh! be still my heart!) as well as growing and running one of the most successful heirloom seed companies in the US. They even have a brand new blog! (I'm very excited about that!) What the Gettle's are working at is very near and dear to Mike and I's heart. We love seeing the passion for this kind of work and the success of following your dream. We would dearly love to met Jere and Emilee some day in the very near future.

After Mike's total disillusion with Burpee's, he was determined to fit in a few more seeds to our list and we quickly sent off an order to Baker Creek. Our heirloom, non-GM seeds arrived early last week. We jumped in right away and planted all 7 varieties of tomatoes in our seed starting tray Thursday night. Monday, at noon, half of our tomatoes had sprouted and by dinner time, all 7 varieties had popped their little seedling heads up! Talk about exciting!
Last night Mike did all his research and now has plans to get our Dwarf Pak Choy, Ping Tung eggplant, Carentan leeks, and Siamese Dragon Stir-fry mix planted right away. We are happy to already be seeing results of doing something we enjoy and find almost a necessity. So, even though we are far from our heart's "home" in the country we are still going to make a way to do a little of what we love.

As the sun was setting on our gorgeous Sunday, Mike and Olivia planted some onions, while I took the pictures, and Sadie~Rose got dirty. Soon we will have more, and I can't wait to show off the fruits of our garden, the food on my table.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Contemplations from the Kitchen

When I started my old blog several years ago, I did a weekly post called "Contemplations From the Kitchen" that usually consisted of a favorite recipe that I had made that week, and a family story surrounding it. A friend recently told me that several of her family's now favorite foods were from those posts and why didn't I start doing them again. And it didn't sound like a bad idea. I love to cook and bake. I don't mind sharing and most of us are always on the lookout for new tried-and-true, never fail, good for you recipes that our families will love. I don't know if this will be an every week thing or just random times, but I hope you enjoy them.
I promise they will always be delicious and usually {fairly} good for you.

This recipe is from my friend Morgan. One afternoon my girls went over to play with her boys and while we were over, she offered us brownies. Being female, a rarely turn chocolate down and said "yes." She cut me a nice big square and I was hooked at the 1st bite. After eating all of mine and eying Olivia's, I asked her if they were from scratch or if they were a box. I have never had any luck with from scratch brownies and I'm always looking for a good recipe. She said, "Oh no! Their from scratch! Here, I'll write the recipe down for you." She whipped out her recipe, grabbed a blank recipe card and wrote it down for me and I've guarded it with my life ever since then.
It's that good.

Best Brownies Ever
1c. butter, melted
2 1/4c. sugar
1 T. vanilla
4 eggs
1 1/2c. flour (you can split it and do half AP and half WW and no one will know!)
1c. cocoa powder
1t. salt
1c. chocolate chips

While the butter is melting in a saucepan on the stove, add the sugar and vanilla to a large mixing bowl. Sift dry ingredients into a small bowl. Add melted butter to sugar/vanilla combo and mix well on low speed. Add eggs, one at a time. Slowly incorporate dry ingredients into the wet. Fold in chocolate chips. Spread in a buttered 9x13" pan. (I use olive oil) Bake at 350ºF for 30 minutes.
Enjoy the best brownies ever.

Real Time Web Analytics