31 March 2010

Happiness is...

Handwoven fabric from Guatemala paired with an embroidered vintage linen tablecloth. I've had them for years, but I had a round table. Now my table is a rectangle. Hooray!





Make Your Own Easter Candy - YUM!

I am about to share with you the best Top-Secret-in-Plain-Sight recipe for fudge. It's called Fantasy Fudge, and the recipe is on the back of the Kraft Marshmallow Creme Jar. It is basically the no-fail fudge recipe. Of course, now that I've said that.... just follow the directions, OK?

Fantasy Fudge
1 1/2 cubes butter
3 cups sugar
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1 small jar marshmallow creme
1 - 12 oz. package chocolate chips*
1 tsp. vanilla

Combine butter, sugar and evaporated milk in a large pot. Stir constantly. Bring to a boil. Boil 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in marshmallow creme, vanilla and chocolate chips. Pour into a buttered 9x13 dish and let cool.
*Any flavor of chips can be used. For the two types of fudge in the pictures below I used white chocolate chips and violet food coloring (Wilton's) and milk chocolate chips.
Boiling

Stirring in the marshmallow creme and chocolate

*If you are using white chocolate and you plan to color it the fudge and put it in a mold, you can divide it (if you work quickly) and color it different colors if you wish. I just show one color below.

 Using a toothpick, dip into the food coloring

Stir the toothpick around in the fudge. 
Do not dip it back in the food coloring jar.

Stir until there are no more streaks of food coloring anywhere.

Pour into mold and cool for several hours. 
You can put it in the fridge if you want to, just cover it well.

Lovely!

 You can also use cookie cutters to make cute fudge shapes.

All done!
Happy candy making!
OK, maybe there will be another recipe tomorrow...Chocolate covered Easter eggs anyone?

30 March 2010

It's All About Groovy Grrl (or The Olde Crone)


Meet Amy from Denver who makes fabulous soap (I have some, do you?). But she's not limited to soap! In her Etsy shop , you will find creative and whimsical gifts and e books with soap recipes.

1. Have you always been crafty, or is this something you picked up more recently?

I have ALWAYS been crafty. I have always loved art, and creating something "from scratch."  That's how I got into soaping--melt and pour soap wasn't crafty enough for me, so I taught myself how to make 'real' soap. For visual art, I enjoy disassembling something into pieces, and assembling it as something else. This means I enjoy mosaics (smashy, smashy!), quilts and other crafty sewing, and gardening, too.


2. How do you balance your time - mom, crafter, business woman, other things you do?
It's not so much of a balance as a daily attempt at such. I've learned to be very good at multitasking, and using every bit of time I'm given. I can usually run two errands right after my day job, and right before I pick my daughter up after school. While she's doing homework, I'm doing soap orders or publishing, or blogging. On my lunch break at work, I'm checking email and responding to it. Most of my days are very full, so I make sure to eat well and take vitamin C. I also limit my business work each day to two major things. When those goals are met, I focus on home life. 


3. What are some other things you enjoy (books, crafts, sports, etc.)

Right now I mostly read business nonfiction (books and blogs), and I do enjoy that. I've begun experimenting with casting small objects in resin, inside a bottlecap, for necklaces. My first two attempts were good, but I can do better. In another attempt to find some balance, I have created a Wednesday afternoon social circle that meets every other week, so that I am socializing with other adult humans. Otherwise, I devolve into a one-dimensional, "all work and no play" character. That's no good. My daughter is young, and last year discovered how much she loves bowling and mini-golf. I discovered right along with her that I continue to love both of those things, and I love them even more when I'm with her. Last summer I taught my daughter to swim, and we do that together, as well.

4. What are some of your favorite Etsy shops?

Oh, my, this is going to be revealing about my personality and style, I think:

mentalembellisher 
GlitzGlitter  
KeysandMemories 
pinkquartzminerals 
abbeychristine 
MidwestFinds 
beanforest
redhotpottery
greenwaredesign

There. That oughta keep folks busy.

5. What would you like people to know about you and about your business?

My publishing business has my heart. I absolutely love writing and publishing. My new project, Craft e-Revolution <http://www.crafte-revolution.com> is launching this August. It is my sincere hope that other crafters who have a passion for writing and teaching will inquire about being published through me. I believe I can make it the premier craft e book site on the Internet.

6. What is the first thing you ever made?

I remember writing a book in first grade: The Book About Some,Teeth. I was enamored with commas, apparently. It had chapters about different kinds of teeth, with illustrations, and ended with a trip to the dentist. I'm certain my mother has it in a box, somewhere.

You can find Amy at
Olde Crone's Bewitching Bath Soap
Pay her a visit!

28 March 2010

Weekend Book Review - All Over but the Shoutin'


Pulitzer Prize winner Rick Bragg is a great story teller. All Over but the Shoutin' is his autobiography. In his own words: "This is not an important book... Anyone could tell it, anyone who had a momma who went eighteen years without a new dress so that her sons could have school clothes, who picked cotton in other people's fields and ironed other people's clothes and cleaned the mess in other people's houses, so that her children didn't have to live on welfare alone, so that one of them could climb up her backbone and escape the poverty and hopelessness that ringed them, free and clean." I highly recommend it.

27 March 2010

Whatever You Need, We've Got IT!

 Be sure to visit the EtsyMom Team Blog and read about one of our Marvelous Moms.

Keep the link because another EtsyMom and I will be presenting weekly, seasonal gift guides with links to some great Etsy Mom shops.

26 March 2010

More Easter Ideas



I was visiting Make it and Love It this morning, and she has posted a link to an Easter basket tutorial that is fabulous. I have just the sweater for the job. It is by Resweater, one of my new favorite shops. Check it out!

Remember the bread recipe from a couple of weeks ago? Here is one of the things we do with it for yummy holiday breakfasts, or any breakfast. 

*Some notes: 
1. I used half white flour and half whole wheat for this recipe, that's why it looks so brown.
2. If you only want bread with fruit in it, then add the fruit before the flour and stir it in. 
3. If you (like me) want a couple loaves with no fruit, then you just knead the dried fruit in after the dough has risen two times.
4. Use any kind of dried fruit that appeals to you. I used about 3.4 of a cup of the fruit bits.

After kneading in your desired amount of dried fruit, separate your dough into three equal pieces. Start to form a long snake like when you played Play-Doh. Each strip should be about 18 inches long when done.


Using a lightly greased cookie sheet, form a braid by attaching the three strips of dough at one end, and braiding until you run out of dough. Tuck the ends neatly under on both sides and let it rise in a warm, draft-free place.


Bake at 350 degrees for about 25-30 minutes. If it looks too brown on top, but doesn't seem done, cover with foil for the rest of the baking time. For extra fancy sweetness, drizzle a light powdered sugar glaze over the top before serving.


You will see that the dried fruit is not as incorporated in the dough here as it would be if it were mixed in before you add the flour. But who cares? Slice and eat! YUM!

25 March 2010

Cowboy Quilt Update

It's coming along - I am loving how it has come together. I can't wait to get it done and on the "big boy" bed. I have sewn all the squares into 16 strips, now I'm sewing the strips together. You should know - if you're ever planning to sew with corduroy - it's slippery. Lots of pinning is good. The wide wale corduroy is especially bad. I'm just saying. Also, basements aren't the best place for photography, but that's where this project is, and I wasn't bringing it upstairs. Not this time...




23 March 2010

Knitted and Warm

Sorry, me again, but for all you fiber lovers out there, here is a great film.

"The idea of the film is simple. How to visualize the warmth of natural gas? By the use of the stop motion technic, we see how warmth spreads through the house as knitted wool. A film of TBWA Brussels,directed by Olivier Babinet produced by Lovo Films. Don't forget to check out the making of how we did it"




13 Days to Easter!

I love Easter. I aim to be a good Christian girl, and I love Easter for all the reasons I was raised to love it - a celebration of the life of our Savior and a time to be reminded and reflect on His life and how my own progress is going.
I love Easter because it's spring time and my tulips are coming up out of the ground and it's even warm some days.
In a mercenary way, I also love Easter because of the candy. Holy Cow! The Easter candy people really know how to do candy. I'd rather start a diet at Christmas than Easter any year.
Growing up, my family would always have a picnic and Easter egg hung the Saturday before Easter. Usually the Easter bunny would come that day as well. We have picnicked at the beach, at home, and even once on a landslide that was blocking the way to our planned destination. 

In keeping with the theme of Easter, there are so many fun and amazing things to make and bake and share. For the next 13 days, I plan to post as many fun ideas as I can find.

Today it is The Easter Basket!

To buy, check out these great baskets made by talented crafters:

 For your wild one - from  TheFrolickingFairy

Sweet and old-fashioned by Henry and Zoe

Vintage fun from In With the Old

 Something for the boys by Sew Gracious


Now, if you're interested in making your own Easter Baskets, check out these fun links and tutorials. I think there's something for everyone.

How to recycle a stuffed animal into an Easter Basket 

We can always count on Family Fun for great ideas


  A tutorial for a great messy project found on Alpha Mom

What is your favorite Easter tradition?

22 March 2010

Weekend Book Review - The Willoughby's



A tongue in cheek parody of all the old-fashioned children's books (think Mary Poppins and The Five Little Peppers). All the requisite elements are included: sinister parents, orphans, a kind nanny, a benevolent benefactor and a happy ending. A completely dysfunctional group of people who are somehow also completely charming. The most fun I've had in a while.  In fact a good time and a happy ending are guaranteed. Absolutely a must read. It's 157 pages. You can read it in a day. Or less. Just do it.

21 March 2010

I FOUND IT!!! (OK, it found me)

You may not remember (but I do) that awhile back I was posting about gift giving and I mentioned that I had misplaced a truly awesome blog related to gift giving? I searched and searched, but I could not find it. I knew that I had clicked the "follow" button, and I couldn't understand how I lost the blog. 

Today, oh happy day, I got that glorious e-mail, updating me on Giver's Log. I am dancing with joy. If you love gifting, and if you love great mailing ideas and more, this is the place for you.

I grabbed the button and put it on the sidebar so I won't lose it again. I recommend you do the same.

Happy gifting!

20 March 2010

Show and Tell

Remember back in this post I promised I would show you the finished Patchwork Notebooks  from Sew Mama Sew? Here they are!


I am particularly pleased with the decorative stitching on the black one.


I loved this project. It went pretty quickly, and it was fun. I'd make more of these in a heartbeat! 
Which one is your favorite?

19 March 2010

What Have I Been Doing?

I've been relatively quiet this week - for a few days anyway. I've hit a minor speed bump. It should help me get more reading done, I suppose.


This is my left leg. I thought it was a sprain. Turns out I have a stress fracture. Please don't ask me what I did. I don't know.  It's an amazingly large boot, don't you think? If you ask me, the boot is more likely to be the death of me than any fracture in my ankle. I have nearly fallen down the stairs 6 times since I started wearing this. My natural klutziness is not remotely improved by this ungainly and (while we're at it) unsexy footwear.

Here are some photos of things I hope to work on, regardless of the boot, and the stairs.

My daughter has designed this dragon, and she would like it made with this fabric.









My three year old has a big boy bed, and it's his turn to have a quilt to fit. We are doing his room sort of cowboy. We have some cool hats and old photos of his great-great Grandfather and cattle. I'll post some photos when it's done. Meanwhile, the quilt:


I need some more red, and then I will start designing and piecing. It's 6 inch squares of cowboy fabric alternating with up cycled corduroy from old pants and a Nautica bed skirt I bought at Goodwill for $2. Hooray!

Or, I could put my foot up and read one of the 6 or 8 books I have checked out at the library...

A Happy Knitting Update

I have been truly stuck on the Baby Sweater on Two Needles. I am sure part of the stuckness is due to my really really not wanting to un-knit what I have knitted, and so I am reluctant to forge ahead when I am not sure what I am doing. However, after several days of ruminating, cogitating, sleeping on it and searching the internet, I have figured it out! Some large portion of the credit must go to Ruthless Knitting and SouleMama for having knit this sweater and generously shared their notes.

OK - think Choose Your Own Adventure. If you knit, read on. If you don't then skip to the pictures and admire my progress. 

What I ended up doing was knitting the first 25 stitches in pattern, then slipping the 28 stitches for the first sleeve to a stitch holder. Then I counted back 25 stitches from the end of the row and placed a marker. I then counted the 28 stitches for the sleeve and placed a marker. I knit the back, again in pattern (of course it works folks, we are talking about Elizabeth Zimmerman after all) up to the marker for the second sleeve. I slipped those 28 stitches to another stitch holder and then knit in pattern to the end. I have continued with the body in pattern as you see below.

I have about 2 inches to go on the body. I will then proceed to cast on the extra stitches, slip the sleeve stitches to my needles, and knit the sleeves in the round, because I love and adore the idea of no seams. It truly is an itsy bitsy sweater. 


back
front

Now that I know what I'm doing, I am going to use SouleMama's notes  on Ravelry (thank you!) to make my daughter a sweater. I'm not totally safe from the math, as she made a size 5, and I will need to make a size 6, but it's nice to have a place to start. Look for updates on the "Margo" sweater. She has chosen a lovely wool blend in silvery gray. We're discussing buttons. She favors purple.

16 March 2010

St. Patrick's Day Food

This morning I am looking over my favorite recipes and deciding what we will eat on St. Patrick's Day.  Naturally we will be having the Corned Beef. I like this recipe because it goes in the crock-pot. I don't put the carrots and potatoes in, just the cabbage. We prefer our potatoes without the corned beef flavor. I cook them separately with a little broth to flavor them. Also - I don't use beer in my recipe, I usually substitute chicken broth, sometimes ginger ale.


I am also going to make Irresistible Irish Soda Bread because it's irresistible.


If I have time, there will be a pot of gold to search for as well. But probably not until after school.


15 March 2010

Weekend Book Review - Big Stone Gap


If you haven't read anything by Adriana Trigiani, this is a great place to start. The simple ups and downs of a woman living in a small Virginia town make for charming and funny stories. A quick, fun read.

14 March 2010

Tie Dyed Shamrocks

This is a quick and easy craft to do with your kids. Perfect for ages 3 and up, younger children may need a little help. When you're done, you will have some fun St. Patrick's Day decorations!


Supplies

* Coffee filters
* Shamrock pattern
* pencil
* scissors
* food coloring in blue and yellow
* plastic cups for mixing food coloring
* water
* eye droppers or straws


 Trace Shamrock pattern on coffee filter

 
Cut out the Shamrock 

 In a cup, put 2 Tablespoons of water and 10 drops of yellow food coloring. 
Repeat in another cup with blue food coloring. 

Cover your table with a table cloth, or work in a place 
where stains from food coloring won't bother you.

 Using the eye-dropper, put drops of blue where you want them on the coffee filter shamrock. Repeat using the yellow. 
The colors will run together and make green. Let them dry. 

 The End.

We're going to hang ours in our windows. What will you do with yours?