31 May 2011

Memorial Day

Soldier, rest! Thy warfare o'er,
Sleep the sleep that knows not breaking,
Dream of battled fields no more.
Days of danger, nights of waking.  
Sir Walter Scott
 
THANK YOU VETERANS!

29 May 2011

Weeked Book Review - The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe


A few weeks ago, I was watching Shadowlands - which I highly recommend if you haven't seen it - and I was reminded of how much I enjoyed C.S. Lewis' Narnia books. The first in the series, we are introduced to the Pevensie children and to Narnia. Fantasy and magical realism combine to tell the universal tale of good, evil and the Greatest Love. A great book to read to your kids this summer.

28 May 2011

Bedroom Re-do

I had a moment a few weeks ago when I realized that I was completely done with my daughter's pepto pink bedroom (to be completely honest, I never liked it). Purple has been her favorite color for a while, and it turns out there is purple in the decorator fabric I have been saving for her room. We talked and looked at paint samples, painted sections of the wall with different colors, and together we chose Martha Stewart's Phlox. We painted her room and then started putting it all back together.


 The chandelier came from Ikea - it attaches right to the existing light

 She loves Fancy Nancy, so we framed pictures from an old calendar

We upgraded her bookshelves - all chapter books!

The mirrors are hung on plywood that Grandpa cut and covered with fabric. We painted the mirror frames and hooks to match. On the hooks she hangs all her purses and boas and other accessories.

I made the dust ruffle for her bed with the coordinating fabric - I will use the green fabric that is on the mirrors for her bedspread. I'm still trying to decide what style of bedspread I will make. 
The sheets are amazingly close to the paint color. Not on purpose.
Next up (aside from the bedspread):

 I want to make her a magnetic chalkboard like this one at Design Sponge 
although I don't think the frame will be this fancy. I wish.
AND
She has definitely outgrown the drawer she is using to keep her necklaces and hair accessories, so I want to make something like this, but with hooks:

Stay tuned!

27 May 2011

Fun With 4 Year Olds


During playgroup, I discovered a few of the boys engaged in the game of LIFE. Intrigued to see how it would go, I quietly observed from the kitchen. They played happily, handing out random salaries and LIFE cards, until they reached the Stop sign. "What's this for? Why are we stopping?" one boy asked my son. "Oh," he said, "This is where you have to get married." There was silence for a moment, then a loud chorus of "Ewwwww!" And the game was over.

26 May 2011

Etsy Favorites this Week

Peas on Eearth magnet by Polpette Clay
This one just cracked me up. I love their little faces!

Cool bag! I think she made it out of my Grandma's bedspread.

Flower brooch by Kunkle Baby
 
 
Who wouldn't love this?

25 May 2011

Custard Ice Cream with Fudge Sauce

Last summer, my ice cream freezer died. We got it as a wedding gift, and I guess 17 years of making ice cream is a pretty good run. I went looking for a new one. This is what I got.

The Rival 1.5 quart gel canister ice cream maker

It's smaller than my old one, true. It is also very quiet and it makes ice cream in about 20 minutes. Hooray! 

We had friends over for dinner, and I made custard ice cream and fudge sauce for dessert. The hot fudge sauce is to die for. It's like Magic Shell, only not plastic.




Vanilla Custard Ice Cream

3/4 cup sugar
1 3/4 cup whole milk (I used 2% because that's what I had)
1 1/2 cup whipping cream
1/8 tsp. salt
2 eggs, beaten
1 Tbsp. pure vanilla extract

Combine sugar, salt and milk in saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until mixture almost boils. Reduce heat to low. Gradually stir 1/2 cup of hot milk into the beaten eggs. Add eggs to remaining hot mixture. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until slightly thickened, 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and refrigerate at least 2 hours.
Whisk together whipping cream, vanilla and chilled custard. Follow freezer instructions.

Hot Fudge Sauce

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup evaporated milk
1 (12 oz) bag chocolate chips
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Combine butter, sugar, cocoa powder and evaporated milk in a saucepan. Heat, stirring constantly, over gradually increasing heat until boiling. Boil one minute. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate chips and vanilla. Let cool a bit, but serve warm.


I just had to show you this photo of my son downing his ice cream. That bite actually went in his mouth. I would have had a permanent brain freeze.

24 May 2011

Provident Living

It's been on my mind lately - as it probably has most everyone's - that looking to the future and basing decisions on good long term goals is not a gift humans are born with. We have to learn it. Ever notice how hard that lesson is to learn?

I belong to a church that really encourages this planning and goal setting behavior and you would think I'd be better at it, but I'm a slow learner.

This last year I have been working really hard on several things.

 1. Getting control of my money (Thank you Dave Ramsey)

2. Getting control of my stuff


3. Being more self-sufficient

Last Tuesday night, I was asked to teach a class on gardening to my church women's organizationI started out preparing information on plants, planting times and basic gardening, but it just wasn't coming together. Then, I realized, what I really needed to talk about was why? Why garden at all? You see, we live in a covenant controlled community. Most of us don't have very large yards and we have requirements as to how much grass we should have and how much water we can use. Our growing season is short and our weather is - well - changeable. Gardening is a challenge. So we talked about being self sufficient and learning skills that will be of benefit to us and to our families - even if we don't have a garden big enough to provide all our produce. It was a great conversation, and I learned a lot from the other women (isn't that how it always works?). 

What I came home with - and have been thinking about ever since - is that we need to do what we can, whatever it is. Small garden? Great. Big garden? Great. Recycling? Great. Making your kids summer PJ shirts from your husbands old t-shirts? Great. Small changes, a little at a time, and after a year you look back and realize that a lot of good things have happened. There will always be work to do, but we've made progress. Hooray!

22 May 2011

Weekend Book Review - Jane Eyre



One of the foundational feminist works of the 19th century, Jane Eyre is both a love story and a discussion of the role of women, morality and courage. I have read it several times, and each time I find something new to love. Find a quiet corner and curl up with this book. You won't regret it.

21 May 2011

Apricot-Almond Muffins


Apricot-Almond Muffins
Cooking Light Magazine

1/2 cup apricot preserves
1/4 tsp. almond extract

1 cup flour
1 cup wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 egg white (I used two eggs here - not being in the mood for separating eggs)
1 cup low fat buttermilk
3 Tbsp. canola oil
2 tsp. grated orange rind (optional)
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Cooking spray
Granulated sugar
1/4 cup sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine apricot preserves and almond extract in a small bowl and set aside.
Combine first five dry ingredients in mixing bowl and make a well in the center. Combine brown sugar and eggs in a small bowl, mixing well. Stir in buttermilk, oil, orange rind and vanilla. Add wet ingredients to the dry and mix until just moist.
Spoon 2 Tbsp. batter into each muffin cup. Spoon apricot preserve mixture evenly over all twelve cups. Top with remaining batter. Muffin cups will be full. Sprinkle sugar and sliced almonds on top (I left off the almonds because my kids don't think they like them) and bake for 20 minutes or until done. Makes 1 dozen.


19 May 2011

A bowl full of lemons.: May Silhouette Giveaway!!


I just keep trying... Go visit A Bowl Full of Lemons for a chance to win a Silhouette.

Fairy Tea Party

My daughter turned 7 last week. We only have birthday parties on odd numbered years, so it's a big deal. It was so hard for her to decide what she wanted. She considered bowling, a beading class, a craft party at Michaels... I have never, ever held a birthday party away from our house (I do recognize the charm of having the mess somewhere else). Realizing that I am running out of years when dressing up for a themed party at home will be fun, I offered her the idea of a fairy tea party. We talked about decorations and food, and she agreed to the at home party. 

We wanted to have the party outside, but May in Colorado can be dodgy weather-wise. Sure enough, it was 45 degrees the morning of the party and cloudy. We opted for inside.

 Custom invitations by Grandma



Gift bags for take homes

To eat, we had little ham sandwiches, jelly sandwiches in heart shapes, fruit skewers and cake pops and cupcakes. Lots and lots of cupcakes. The actual cake was a fairy village made by my husband.




For fun activites, we decorated "fairy houses", made bracelets and twirled. Lots and lots of twirling to the tune of The Nutcracker. The girls were so sweet and fun.


 Happy 7th birthday sweetheart!

18 May 2011

A Few of My Favorites


Pamper yourself with some Hard Working Mama hand scrub from Raised Bedz

Support breast cancer awareness with Cards & Moore


Celebrate spring with some subway art by I Heart Quotes


Loving this sundress byHot Lava Clothing







17 May 2011

Vermicomposting (really truly)


I have been wanting to get into composting for a long time. Not only do I want to reduce the amount of garbage we send to the landfill, but I love the idea of saving money on soil amendment. Finally, this year, we're going to do it. What's more, as a bonus, it counts toward a gardening merit badge requirement for the Boy Scout.

Vermicomposting: the process of having redworms and other decomposer organisms process organic waste and turn it into a great natural fertilizer (called vermicompost).

Through another blog - Homestead Revival - I found this great website: Red Worm Composting.
This website is a great resource. He has tutorials and videos and other educational materials on composting. I read all about it, then ordered my worms.

 They arrived this week. The box was pretty beat up, so I was a little worried. 

 The Boy Scout and his dad, shredding cardboard

 Fresh and not-so-fresh food waste layered in

 The Boy Scout, objecting to the smell of the (not-so-fresh) food waste. 

The worms are installed in their new home. They were definitely moving around, so maybe shipping wasn't too traumatic. I hope they like it!

16 May 2011

Meringues

I must be having a thing for meringue lately...


My daughter's birthday is Friday, and her party is on Saturday. We are having a fairy tea party. I thought it would be fun to make meringues. They are pretty easy to make as long as you follow a few basic rules.

1. Make sure your eggs are at room temperature
2. When they say "stiff peaks" they mean it

Basic Meringues

3 egg whites
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1/8 tsp. salt
6 Tbsp. sugar

Heat oven to 200 degrees. Butter a baking sheet and then line with parchment paper ( I am making small meringues, so I used two jelly roll pans.
Beat the egg whites, cream of tartar and salt until soft peaks form. Add sugar, one Tbsp. at a time and beat until mixture is satiny and forms stiff peaks. Stiff.

Put meringue in a pastry bag with desired decorating tip. I used Wilton 74. Pipe onto prepared baking sheet. Bake at 200 degrees for 45 minutes, then switch pan on bottom rack to the top rack. Bake another 45 minutes. Turn off the oven and prop the door open with a wooden spoon and let the meringues cool off. When they are cool, remove from baking sheet. Store with wax paper between layers. Will keep at room temperature about a week, frozen up to three months.

*To make the chocolate meringues pictured above, sift 2 Tbsp. cocoa powder into 2 Tbsp. sugar and set aside.  Beat the egg whites, cream of tartar and salt until soft peaks form. Add 4 Tbsp sugar, beating after each addition. Continue beating until stiff peaks form. Fold in cocoa/sugar mixture gently, but thoroughly. Pipe onto baking sheet and bake as above.

15 May 2011

Weekend Book Review - Howl's Moving Castle

Please welcome my son, guest reviewer, here to review one of his favorites:

 

Howl's Moving Castle is a great novel by Diana Wynne Jones. When the young woman Sophie gets turned into a old woman by a evil witch, she must leave her comfortable place in a hat shop and find the infamous wizard Howl, known to kidnap young women, to change her back. When she finds Howl, Sophie is quite surprised  on the kind of person Howl really is. Along the way you will meet delightful characters, From Howl's fire demon, Calcifer, to the king of Ingary. I gladly recommend this book for readers age 10-110.

14 May 2011

All You Need Designs

Do you like my sunburn?

I recently received this beautiful necklace from Heather of  All You Need Designs. I love it! I thought I'd share it with you, and tell you a little bit about the awesome EtsyMom team member who made it. She'll be featuring a nightgown I made for her daughter sometime soon too - I'll let you know when so you can go check it out!


Have you always been crafty, or is this something you picked up more recently?
I'd say that I've always been crafty.  I took every art class that I was offered in high school - drawing, painting, sculpture, jewelry making.... art is such a passion for me. It makes me really happy when I can create something original with whatever medium I'm working with. 


How do you balance your time - mom, crafter, business woman, other things you do?
Well, I work full time outside the home, run my Etsy business and take care of my kids, family,house, etc.  I'm not quite sure how I manage it all.  I do a lot of my Etsy business stuff in the evenings, after the kids are in bed.  I find that I get a lot more done that way!


What are some other things you enjoy (books, crafts, sports, etc.)?
I am an avid reader - my husband gave me a Kindle for my birthday last year and I love it.  It allows me to take books with me wherever I go, so I can sneak some reading in whenever I have a free moment.  I also love baking.  Just did some fancy birthday cakes for my kids and I love how they turned out. I think that it's part of my crafty side - always trying something new and challenging. 


What are some of your favorite Etsy shops?
Twisted Ribbons  is one of my favorite shops - I just love her hair accessories and she is super nice and easy to work with.  Twirl Away  is my go to place for fun skirts for my daughter.  I also love CreativeBee - she makes the most adorable dresses!!


What is the first thing you ever made?
Well, the very first thing I ever made was most likely a drawing or painting.  The first thing I ever made for my shop was a beaded bookmark.  I had planned to make my shop all digital items, but I really got into beading and decided to include both kinds of items in my shop - graphic designs and handmade items like bookmarks and jewelry.  It's nice to have multiple creative outlets - I never get bored! 


What would you like people to know about you and about your business?
I love the color lime green.  My kids are the most important thing in my life. The three TV shows I must watch each week are Glee, Survivor and Amazing Race.  I recognize that good customer service is critical to a successful business - and I strive really hard to make sure each and every customer feels special and is completely happy with their order.  It's really important to me that the customer is satisfied.  And keep watching my shop, because I'm always rolling out new things!