Friday, April 29, 2011

ewe are my favorite

One of my favorite short people is turning a whole year older next week, so yesterday I whipped up a birthday surprise. 

Isn't she precious? 

Thank ewe.

I had bookmarked this great lamb pillow how-to at the Purl bee several months ago and was excited for a chance to try it out.

She's shy, but I think she'll get over that real quick.  No room for shy where she's headed

In other exciting news, I just mailed this baby blanket to a customer in Vienna, Austria!  I am slowly posting all the items left over from the craft fair (the blanket was one of them) in the shop, so be sure to stop by and check them out over the weekend!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

what moms want

Don't you think that handmade gifts are best, even if you didn't make them with your own hands?  There is just something about giving someone a present that has been crafted with care, that is one-of-a-kind.  They've never seen it at Target before.  It's just for them.

Many of the items in my shop have been created with moms in mind (my mom, other moms I know, maybe even your mom?) and I wanted to share some of them as Mother's Day gift ideas.  But there are also lots of amazing items in other Etsy shops that would make great gifts, so I am including some of those as well. 

This fabric rose wreath by Fa Sew La Stitches is so lovely and the best part is that you can custom pick your colors!  I love this pink and purple one, but all of the combinations are really pretty.

This travel bag is not necessarily budget-friendly, but gosh is it fun!  The Wren has all shapes and sizes of amazing bags made out of old coffee sacks.  Their style is distinctive and unique and I love the idea of reusing old materials.

To toss into your larger travel bag, how about these cute zipper pouches from Plumfield Shop?  When I made this set, I envisioned using the larger bag for cosmetics and the smaller one for jewelry.  You could even hide a sweet gift inside like....

this necklace!  What a sweet reminder of all the little chicks in her nest!  MDsparks has such cute jewelry and you won't believe the prices!  Earrings start at $7!  I also love that you can get different colored pearls and not just white. 

While we're talking about jewelry, check out these fancy earrings from cardinalhouse.  I think that the turquoise would be a lovely pop of color with a white summer dress. 

I am (obviously) partial to this super cool burlap pillow.  When I found the screen printed garden fabric, I knew I needed a great way to showcase it.  This pillow looks great right in the center of the sofa because it is so long.  It would also be nice on a (covered) outdoor bench. 

I do not have a monopoly on pillows though, because here is another one that I loveThree Red Apples is a fun shop that features amazing freehand machine doodling, plus a great mixture of pattern and texture.  Each piece is truly unique. 

Moving away from fabric for just a minute, how about some handmade goat milk soap?  It's great for your skin and the lavender scent is so relaxing!  The folks at Rose of Sharon Acres make a whole line of personal care items that are really good for your skin and teeth.  I think that special soap is a great gift because it turns a necessity into a treat!

I'm sure you remember this classy number, but I just had to include it since it was inspired by my mom (and by the way, she is loving hers, so it's already mom-tested and approved).  Don't forget that, while it was created for a checkbook, it's also great for coupons.  You could slip a Starbucks gift card inside for an extra treat!

This In Touch Clutch by downstairs Designs is such a great idea!  Don't you think you'd be more likely to write thank you notes if you had all your supplies ready to go in a stylish clutch?  Wouldn't your mom love to write thank you notes for all the awesome Mother's Day gifts she's received?  You could fill this with cute cards and a book of stamps- it already comes with a pen!

If art is more mom's thing, check out this cheerful bird family print entitled "Love beneath the lemon meringue sky".  enrouge has so many beautiful prints that it was VERY hard to pick just one- be sure to check them all out. 

And last, but certainly not least, how about a silky spring scarf?  The great thing about scarves is that they are one size fits all and there are so many different ways to wear them!  I still have three different color choices in the shop, so be sure to grab one before they're all gone!

I can't speak for the other shop owners, but all of my items are ready to ship, so you still have plenty of time to order before Mother's Day.  Thanks for gawking with me over all the great stuff available and I hope you've been inspired by something you saw! 

*photo credit goes to the shop owner for each item*

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tutorial Tuesday- granola bars

If you love granola bars as much as we do, you're going to love this tutorial. 

Whenever I realize that we are consuming a lot of something, I like to try to make it myself so that I know exactly what we're consuming.  And since we eat granola bars pretty much daily, I have been making them for us for a couple of years now.  They are super easy and taste amazing!  Once you try them, you'll be hooked. 

Preheat the oven to 400.  Mix together the following in a shallow dish:

2 cups oats
3/4 cup wheat germ (usually found in the cereal aisle)
3/4 cup crushed nuts or sunflower seeds
1 cup crushed peanuts

To crush the nuts, I put them all in a Ziploc bag and beat them with a saucepan (that I will be using later in the recipe).  I like to use walnuts or pecans, but any nut would be great.  You could even use all peanuts instead of using two types. 
Once you have mixed all the dry ingredients in a shallow dish, put it in the oven to toast for 10-12 minutes, stirring every 4 minutes.  You want everything to get a little golden, but not very dark. 

While you're toasting, bring the following ingredients to a simmer in a sauce pan:

2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
4 Tbsp. butter
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt

Then pour your toasted dry ingredients and your sweet sauce into a large bowl and mix well.  This is when you get to add the extras.  Most often, I make our granola bars with dried cranberries and chocolate, but there are a million great combinations.  Dried apple and toffee bits, peanut butter chips and chocolate chips, white chocolate and dried cherry.  If I am adding something that will melt, like chocolate, I do not stir it into the mix at this time.  I don't like for the melted chocolate to get into every bit of the bar.  So I just add the dried fruit in the bowl during this step.

Line a 9" by 12" pan with waxed paper and grease the paper well.  This is when I add my chocolate by sprinkling it along the bottom of the pan.  This gives a nice thin layer of chocolate on top of the bars. 

Pour the mixture from your bowl on top of the chocolate and smooth it out with a spoon.  Then take another piece of greased wax paper and use it to press the bars down firmly into the dish.  This ensures that they will be sturdy once they have set and not have lots of air pockets. 

The bars will need to cool in the dish for at least 3 hours.  Sometimes I put mine in the fridge if it is too hot in the house.  Once they are cool, turn them out onto a cutting board and cut them into whatever size and shape you like.  I usually do 2 1/2" squares. 

You could store all your bars together in an airtight container, but I individually wrap ours in plastic wrap because we pack them for lunch. 

This recipe makes 18-20 good sized granola bars, so a batch usually lasts us two or three weeks.  It takes a little bit of time, but is well worth it!

Now that I've recovered from the weekend festivities, I'm back to sewing for the shop and looking ahead to the next holiday- Mother's Day.  Tomorrow I will be sharing a Mother's Day gift guide with some awesome handmade gifts that any mom would love!

Monday, April 25, 2011

one enchanting afternoon

I had one goal for our Easter party this year.  I wanted our guests to feel enchanted. 

I think that feeling enchantment can be pretty elusive.  Sometimes you don't even know how to get it.  Maybe you've never thought about it.

But I think about it.

I think about how it feels to know that someone has carefully set a place at the table just for you. 

I think about the joy of seeing pitchers full of cool drinks on a hot day. 

I think about how good a salad straight from the farm tastes, especially after a long winter.

I think about piles of homemade biscuits that never seem to get any smaller, so it is perfectly acceptable to take two.  Or three. 

And I think about savoring a slice of pie that took hours to create.  About how that is a gift I can give my friends and family- time.  I can take the time to make things that they may not make for themselves.

In return, they gift me with the sound of laughter through the whole house, with tables stretched across two rooms, filled with faces I love.

It's a lot like Christmas, with all these gifts flying around.

And after we had all eaten our fill, the party moved to the yard, where a rousing game of croquet ensued. 

There were plenty of spots in the shade for spectators.

Some of us started the afternoon as perfect strangers and finished it as fast friends.

After we had waved goodbye to the last guest, after every last dish was clean, after we'd moved all the furniture back to its usual spots, we finally had a moment to rest.  And as we sat on the sofa, eating chocolate berry pie by candlelight, we talked about how wonderful the whole day was.  How great the food and the company and the yard and the sun.

It was...enchanting.

Friday, April 22, 2011

hopping down the bunny trail

This guy knows what's coming.  We've had a yard full of bunnies, just waiting for the big day.  I wonder if I can get a few of them to hop around while we play croquet on Sunday.  Wouldn't that be the best party trick ever? 

Inside the house, this bunny has come out, as well as last year's eggs.  I have been sewing table cloths and extra napkins and....

an awesome party banner.  I saw this idea here and modified it a bit and after a long day of tracing and cutting triangles (and feeling like a preschool teacher again), I ended up with, what I am sure will be, the life of any party. 

Forty-five feet of it, to be exact.  You know the motto- go big, or go home. 

We are all giddy-ed up with excitement. 

We've trucked in extra chairs and tables.

My mom is coming!

Steve is cutting the grass at the optimal croquet-playing height.

I'm making new dining room curtains now that we're done painting.  The fabric arrived yesterday afternoon and I hope to have them hanging by tonight.  I'm quick like that. 

The curtain fabric is called "April in Paris".  Not to be confused with "Winter in Paris", which is the paint color we chose for that room.  We may have to start speaking French during dinner.

Here's the thing about Easter: I love all the sprucing up and meal planning and parties; the beginning of spring and flowers blooming and croquet.  But I never want to get too tangled up in all that, because it's just the icing on the cake.  All those trivial things are celebrations, not in themselves, but in honor of the one thing we really have to celebrate-

"But he was pierced for our transgressions, 
he was crushed for our inequities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed."
Isaiah 53:5 

By his wounds we are healed.  This weekend, I plan to celebrate with joy, like someone who has been healed.  Happy Easter, indeed. 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

I'm a farm girl at heart

Last Saturday when we showed up at the farmer's market, we made the happy discovery that it was tractor day.  Of course!  How could I have forgotten tractor day?

This was our first venture out to the farmer's market this year and it did not disappoint.  And while we arrived home loaded down with strawberries and asparagus and herbs for the garden and a chocolate croissant, all we took pictures of were the flowers. 

There are rows and rows of flowers.  They used to be $5 a bouquet, but now have crept up into the $10 range. 

Oh, but they're lovely. 

Farmer's Market flowers are a once-in-a-while treat for us.  Last Easter we bought tulips for the table and I was drooling over these tulips on Saturday and picturing myself coming back for them.  I get wrapped up in the colors- spun honey and rosy cheeks and that perfect shiny pink you find inside seashells.

There are also tons of flowering plants in the greenery shed and we investigated every last one of them.  And still managed to restrain ourselves to only purchasing lavender, sage, and mint.  I think we both still remember how much water it takes to keep plants alive in the summer here.  We might as well be living in the Sahara. 

Today I am finalizing the menu for our big Easter lunch.  I'm dreaming about buttermilk biscuits and chocolate berry pie.  Tomorrow I will share some of the final preparations for the big day!


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