Friday, April 29, 2011

Fabulous Finds Friday: Pretty Petals

We've unpacked our short sleeve shirts and shorts. I even had an opportunity to dig the kiddie pool out of our shed, hose it off, and fill it for my two year old to splash around in this week. Now granted, he didn't swim but merely waded around in the cold water. Still, it was great to see spring out in full force this week with just a peak at the summer months ahead.

To celebrate the warmer weather and the passing of April's showers, today I have a collection inspired by May's soon-to-be blooming flowers. Today's Fab Finds Friday features all sorts of tutorials and posts about flowers. And, if you know of a great post, scroll down to the end of this post and link it up!

  • This is just too cute - a flower headband made from a zipper! I don't know about you, but I have a drawer full of zippers. For a while, I'd buy them each time they were on sale, imagining the projects I'd use them on - dresses, handbags, jackets. Of course, I didn't have the pattern or the fabric, but I'd grab a zipper. And so I ended up with a drawer full that didn't quite match whatever project I was actually sewing. Now I have a reason to bring them out of hiding! What a creative use for a zipper. And Kolleen's tutorial is easy to follow over at Design by Night. I urge you to pop over and take a quick peak.

  • Local Fun For Kids had a great post this past week on recycled flower crafts. She posted this great tutorial from Crissy's Crafts for making flowers out of water bottles. I can't think of a cuter way to recycle!

  • And speaking of recycling, Measured By the Heart has a cute tutorial for recycling your old t-shirts into braided headbands decorated with a twisted rose. So much cuter than using old t-shirts as rags!

  • I keep mentioning Modern Parents Messy Kids during my Fab Finds Friday posts, but Steph just keeps writing up great posts like this one on DIY Flower Vases for Mother's Day. I especially like this wrapped yarn vase. It would be pretty to do something like this around a terra cotta pot or planter and give a planted flower or herb pot as a Mother's Day gift.

  • And here's another crafty home decor idea from Beverly over at of Flamingo Toes. This set of framed flower vases would be great decoration on an outdoor patio. And since I have my first craft fair coming up this weekend, I think this would make a lovely display for some of my wares. Quick! Get me some chicken wire!

  • I found Pink Paper Peppermints by clicking on a link in Quentin's tutorial over at Q-Made for making a springtime wreath, which I found through a Craft Gossip post on 6 Springtime Wreaths. See. Random clicking is not a waste of time! But back to Pink Paper Peppermints. This series is a few years old, but it is such a great collection of flower tutorials that I just had to share. Her series of posts - 31 Flowers in 31 Days - is a fabulous collection of tutorials that you can use to spruce of everything from pillows to skirts to tablecloths and more. I'm still clicking around and bookmarking her tutorials. Have fun clicking around!

In addition to sharing my finds, I want to encourage readers to share their finds, posts, and tutorials. Use the Fabulous Finds Friday linky below to share blog posts on our weekly theme - FLOWER-INSPIRED CRAFTS. You can share your own blog or a post from someone else's blog that fits our theme this week.

And if I've featured you in a Fabulous Finds Friday, please grab a button for your website or blog from the menu on the right side of my blog.

So link up, friends!

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Pretty Practical Gift

I love giving handmade gifts. I wrote a bit about this last November, about a tradition that started with my parents crafting our big Christmas gift each year. Hand stitched dolls with homemade gingham dresses, the toy box my dad built and mom painted, the clothes my mom would sew for my sister and me. There's just something about giving a handmade gift. It's a gift that comes with a story.

So when a nephew recently announced that he was engaged, I knew I would need to craft up something good for the bridal shower! About a month ago, I created an organic diaper wreath for my Etsy shop. In a recent post, I mentioned that I would love an opportunity to customize such a gift for a housewarming or wedding gift. Well, looks like I've got my chance!

Take a peak. Using the bride and groom's kitchen colors of black and red, I created this wreath using dish towels and washcloths. No glue was used in the process of putting the wreath together, only ribbon and rubber bands, which means the whole thing can be easily disassembled and used! So, if it doesn't fit with their decor, it's still quite practical!

Unfortunately, these don't quite fit with the theme of my online shop, but I would be happy to create a custom listing for anyone that might be interested in having me craft a customized housewarming or engagement gift like this. Just shoot me an email with your request!

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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Weekend Recipe: Chicken Vindaloo

I know many of you have wonderfully elaborate family meals planned for this holiday weekend, but I hope you'll bookmark this recipe and return to it later. A number of years ago my husband and I went searching for a vindaloo paste recipe. After some trial and error, this is the recipe that we've used, a combination of a number of recipes we've tried in the past.

This is the recipe we've used to make chicken vindaloo, but you could easily substitute lamb or pork. It makes a hearty, delicious meal on a rainy day! And, you could easily make up the paste in advance to use later, cutting your preparation time down.

INGREDIENTS (serves 4-6)
  • 2 tsp. whole cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp. black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp. cardamom seeds
  • 3-inch stick cinnamon
  • 1 ½ tsp. whole black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp. whole fenugreek seeds
  • 5 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp. light brown sugar
  • 10 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 large yellow onions, peeled and cut into half-rings
  • 6 Tbsp. water
  • 1-inch cube of fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 8-10 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. ground coriander seeds
  • ½ tsp. ground turmeric
  • 2 lb. boneless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 8 oz. tomato sauce
  • ½ lb. new potatoes, peeled and quartered
  1. Grind cumin seeds, black pepper, cardamom seeds, cinnamon, black mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds together in a spice grinder. In a small bowl, combine ground spices, vinegar, salt, cayenne pepper and brown sugar. Set aside.
  2. Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Fry onions, stirring frequently, until they are a rich, dark brown. Remove onions with a slotted spoon and put them in a blender. Turn off the heat, but do not discard the oil. Add 3 Tbsp. water (or more if necessary) to the onions and blend until you have a smooth paste. Add this onion paste to the spices in the bowl. This mixture is the vindaloo paste.
  3. Put the ginger and garlic in a blender. Add 3 Tbsp. water and blend until you have a smooth paste.
  4. Heat the remaining oil in the saucepan over medium heat. When hot, add the ginger-garlic paste. Stir until the paste browns slightly. Add the coriander and turmeric. Stir a few seconds. Add the chicken, a little at a time and brown lightly.
  5. Add the vindaloo paste, tomato sauce and potatoes to the chicken in the saucepan. Stir and bring to a slight boil.
  6. Cover the saucepan, reduce heat to low, and simmer for about an hour, or until potatoes are tender.
  7. Serve over rice.
  • Don't undercook the onions. They should be cooked until dark brown. If the onion paste turns out gray rather than brown, then the onions were not cooked enough.
  • This dish is spicy. It may not seem so at first, but the spices have a cumulative effect that builds up over the course of the meal.
  • This is a time intensive meal, with about 30 minutes of preparation and 2 to 3 hours of cooking, but it is well worth it.

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Friday, April 22, 2011

Clover Market - Lucky Finds for the Home

Check it out! I'm featured over at the Clover Market blog. And if you want to see more, be sure to stop by my booth on Sunday, May 1st in Ardmore, PA!

Clover Market - Lucky Finds for the Home: New Clover Sellers - Coming May 1: "Our May 1 sellers group is REALLY shaping up.  We have over 50 confirmed sellers and we're still reviewing applications. I've posted all of..."

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Friday, April 15, 2011

Fabulous Finds Friday: Springtime Crafts

Whew! What a busy past few weeks! Having skipped last week's Fab Finds Friday due to a crazy spring schedule, this week's post is jammed packed with fun springtime and Easter crafts. And it looks like the crafting and mommy blog-o-spheres have been just as busy because they are just so many posts, tutorials, and activities to select from. So in the event that I missed a wonderful post, which I know I have, scroll down to the end of this post and link them up!

  • Steph over at Modern Parents Messy Kids has a great tutorial for creating Easter egg garland out of paint chip samples. And, since I'm currently contemplating color choices for my dining room, this gives me inspiration for what to do with all the runner-up color choices. And trust me, I have enough to make garland to wrap my whole house!

  • Dana over at Made has a fabulous collection of spring and Easter crafts, including this too cute peep bunny bunting. In addition, you'll find links to tutorials for creating beautiful butterflies from felt, a wee bunny pattern, and some fab flower ideas.

  • Another of my favorite blogs, I am Momma - Hear Me Roar!, has a number of very cute tutorials for spring. I especially like this one, a useful and cute centerpiece idea for your Easter dinner table. And in case you haven't caught it, I have to mention her Wake Up, Wednesday series, a wonderful invitation to do good in the middle of your week.

  • Okay, this is perfect timing for Easter. This post, also by Modern Parents Messy Kids, features a great collection of kits for kids. As I was reading through this post, my two year old peaked over my shoulder. Gabbing toward my laptop screen, he repeatedly declared, "need that! need that!" And I can see why! These are great!

  • Readers know that I love AlphaMom. It's one of those blogs that I read every post, every word. And here's great post on spring celebrations. Make sure you check out the link for dying eggs using silk ties. What a cool idea!

  • These little birdies are just too cute! I stumbled upon this tutorial via Craft Gossip (man, I could get lost on that site!). First a warning, if you haven't checked out Craft Gossip...don't. You will get sucked in, bookmarking page upon page upon page, so many projects and not enough time. But this tutorial from Salty Pineapple is a perfect (and easy) springtime craft.

  • Ohdeedoh (another fabulous resource to get lost in) has a great post on natural Easter egg dyes. This is a link that I will definitely be using in the next few weeks. And Ohdeedoh introduced me to yet another great site, Curbly. Check out this link for natural egg dyes.

In addition to sharing my finds, I want to encourage readers to share their finds, posts, and tutorials. Use the Fabulous Finds Friday linky below to share blog posts on our weekly theme - springtime crafts. You can share your own blog or a post from someone else's blog that fits our theme this week.

And if I've featured you in a Fabulous Finds Friday, please grab a button for your website or blog from the menu on the right side of my blog.

So link up, friends!

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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Tasting Life

Inspired by the beautiful weather, I've spent some time in the the sandbox recently.

Tiny shoes filled with sand push up mountains. The sandbox is their world. Together they create craters, peaks and valleys, castles and roads. They are building their world together. Brothers.

Outside the sandbox, my little one, just learning to sit, grasps for a stem, holds a crispy brown leaf at arm's length. Shaky. And in a surprisingly swift move, without hesitation, he tries to stuff the leaf in his mouth. Oh, to taste his world. To understand.

My oldest son grabs his own remains of a past season, a stiff pear leaf to crinkle in his palm. He stuffs the remains into his sweatshirt pocket. A treasure for this two year old.

My boys, brothers, want to be here, in their world - creating, tasting, saving. They want to gobble it up. They remind me to taste a few leaves each day.

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Monday, April 4, 2011

There's a Bun in the Oven...okay, not in my oven!

Go to Etsy. Type washcloth cupcakes into the search box. Last I checked, there were 24 pages of baby washcloth gifts fashioned into cupcakes and packaged in cupcake boxes. Don't get me wrong. They are adorable. You'll find them in my store, too. But, I'm trying to find ways to set my baby gifts apart. So you'll find my baby washcloth sushi set and coffee-inspired baby gifts, and now something new - my "bun in the oven" sets. I love these!

I've been on a creative kick the last few days, practicing my oragami skills while crafting "ovens" out of cardstock paper. It's just too much fun! I love taking the antiquated turn of phrase "she's got a bun in the oven" and playing with it for these cute little welcome baby gifts. You'll see quite a few more of these popping up in my online shop over the next few days. And don't forget, I do custom orders as well!

I would love to put together a whole baby shower set using this idea - banners, invitations and thank-yous, a bigger centerpiece oven and bun made out of receiving blankets, and shower gifts (perhaps buns made out of women's socks for each guest). Oh, I can see a whole retro theme coming together already! So if it sounds like something you might be interested in, let me know! I've got all sorts of ideas baking up!

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Sunday, April 3, 2011

Weekend Recipe: A Michigan Favorite - Pasties

I know what you are thinking. No. It is not pronounced the same way as that tiny bit of fabric an exotic dancer wears. Pasties (pronounced past-ees) are a favorite meal for those in Michigan's Upper Peninsula (da U.P.,eh, for those in the know). My younger sister used to work for a pastie shop (yes, there are restaurants dedicated to the delicacy) while in college and passed along this recipe, which has been a favorite of ours for a number of years. And the great part about this recipe - it makes A LOT! Freeze the extras for an easy and delicious family meal mid-week.

Crust Dough
  • 8 cups flour
  • 3 1/2 cups shortening
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup ice-cold water

Crust Basting
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar

  • 3 pounds diced, ground round steak (or try hamburger or venison burger)
  • 1 1/2 pounds finely-chopped rutabaga
  • 2 1/2 pounds peeled, sliced potatoes
  • 3 large chopped onions
  • 1/2 pinch salt
  • 1/2 pinch pepper
  • optional: 3/4 pound diced carrots

  • Mix dough for crust, being careful to not over-handle. Divide dough into 4-ounce pieces, shaping each into a flat, 10-inch circle. Place 1 cup of filling into each shaped dough crust. Fold top of dough crust over and crimp edges. Bake 45-60 minutes at 375ยบ. Baste tops of pasties. Makes enough to freeze for leftovers, about 10-12 pasties. Serve with either gravy or spicy pastie sauce. Can't find pastie sauce? Try Heinz spicy ketchup.


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Friday, April 1, 2011

Fabulous Finds Friday: So Silly Crafts

April marks the beginning of spring, and what better way to start than with a few silly crafts. I found a number of wonderful crafts and practical jokes just in time for today's April Fools Day. Have some fun with these silly crafts in the coming weeks.

  • Martha Stewart has a number of kid-friendly April Fools pranks, including this simple little surprise of using food coloring to dye your milk, an unexpected twist for little ones!

  • The Tip Junkie's site is always full of wonderful finds and her collection of April Fools Jokes is no exception. She has a great collection of recipe related pranks that are sure to cause a few chuckles. She's linked to a number of sweet to savory switches, as well as to these cute prankster printables. It is a collection worth checking out!

  • I'll be pulling this little joke on my husband soon. AlphaMom's site has a great little craft for making fake ice cubes.

In addition to sharing my finds, I want to encourage readers to share their funny finds, posts, and tutorials. Use the Fabulous Finds Friday linky below to share blog posts on our weekly theme - so silly crafts. You can share your own blog or a post from someone else's blog that fits our theme this week.

And if I've featured you in a Fabulous Finds Friday, please grab a button for your website or blog from the menu on the right side of my blog.

So link up, friends!

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