Sunday, October 31, 2010

Recipes: Homemade Pumpkin Muffins

It's Halloween! And what would be more suitable than fresh baked pumpkin muffins. I used the flesh of one of the Vif D'Etampes Pumpkins that we grew in our garden this year. Fresh made pumpkin puree lacks the tinny taste of canned pumpkin and allows you to use the flesh of the many wonderful varieties of pumpkins available on the market.

Dry ingredients:
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/3 cup flax seeds
1/3 cup pepitas or sunflower seeds (unsalted)

Wet Ingredients:
2 eggs
1 cups milk
1/2 cup (1 stick) melted butter
1 cup pumpkin puree (canned or *fresh made)
2/3 cups packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line muffin tins (makes about 18-24 regular sized muffins)

Mix together all of the dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl and set aside. In a medium sided bowl combine all wet ingredients. Combine the wet and dry ingredients until just mixed (do not overmix). Fill muffin tins about 2/3 full and bake for about 16-18 minutes until a knife comes out clean when inserted in the middle. Cool and enjoy with fresh butter.

* Fresh made pumpkin puree
Select a pie pumpkin, vif d'etampes, or long island cheese pumpkin. I prefer the long island cheese pumpkins. These are the pumpkins that are the same color as a butternut squash on the outside and yield a sweet creamy bright orange flesh. Cut in half and scoop out seeds. Place upside down on a baking sheet (be sure to use one with sides as cooking pumpkin WILL release water). Bake for 40-55 minutes at 375 degrees (larger pumpkins take longer than smaller ones). Your pumpkin will be done when the dome collapses. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Carefully remove the flesh from the outer shell. Mash the flesh with a potato ricer (for muffins or breads) or puree (for pies and custards) in a food processor. You will likely have ALOT of pumpkin puree, the excess can be frozen and stored for up to a year. I portion out the frozen puree into 2 cups portions (this is how much puree is called for in my pie recipe).

Thursday, September 23, 2010

In the Studio: Homemade Dust Filter

My super fantastic dust collector.

If you've ever used a serger, you know that it can generate some serious lint. With what I do, the lint can get overwhelming both physically and emotionally. I worry what all those little fibers are doing to my body and our home. My first step to battle the lint was to purchase a canister vac with a hose so I can periodically suck up the lint. This did help, however I knew I could do better.

I often wear a dust mask when I lay out skirts (just moving cut sweaters is linty) and when I sew. I found that traditional dust mask work well, but they tend to irritate my face, so I fashioned a cowboy style dust mask from several layers of fleece. Between this and the constant vacuuming, the air in my studio has improved, but constantly wearing a dust mask makes my work feel like hard work, so I began to look for an alternative.

Here I am sewing with my dust mask and headphones.

I considered buying an expensive air filter but worried that the amount of lint I generate would instantly destroy it. Instead I rigged up my own air filter using a recycled mail box, a small fan, and several layers of high lift quilt batting.

small circular fan (mine is about 10" in diameter)
box (I recycled a 12 X 12 X 8 priority mail box, just make sure your fan barely fits inside)
2 scrap pieces of high loft polyester quilt batting the same size as your box
packing tape
box cutter or serrated bread knife

1. tape the box on one side be sure to tape on the edges for all four flaps.

2. Cut a circle the approximate size of your fan using the knife (i prefer a serrated bread knife b/c it works like a saw) tape the flaps around the circle to secure.

3. on the side of your box cut a rectangular opening on three sides to allow access to your fan to turn on and off. Leave the flap attached to act like a door.

The access door for fan controls.

4. Put the fan inside the box and tape it to the bottom of the box. Pull the cord through one of the corners between the flaps.

4. On the untaped side of the box, cut off the top flap. For the three remaining flaps, measure in 1" and on the inside of the flap using the dull side of the knife (or a pen) score a line to allow easy folding.

5. fold the flaps in and then measure out 1" and cut off the remainder of the flap. fold in the flaps and tape. This will create the channel for your filter to sit.

This shot shows the handle attachment and the filter slot.

6. using 1" scraps of cardboard, staple the two layers of quilt batting to the cardboard on all four sides. I taped the corners of min to be sure they stayed together (the staples do not like to go through two layers of cardboard).

The filter sitting outside of the slot.

7. put your filter in and secure with a few straight pins (if not when you turn on your fan the air pressure will suck the filter inside the box).

This shows the filter being inserted into the slot. I taped the top of the filter and stuck a few straight pins through the cardboard to hold it in place when the fan is on.

8. Using a 3-4" scrap of cardboard, create the handle by folding it in thirds. About 1 " up from both ends of the handle cut through the outside folds and spread out to create feet. Tape the middle section around to make a smooth handle and securely tape the to the top of the box.

I have my filter placed directly behind my serger at tableheight and it seems to do a really great job pulling the dust away from me. I can actually see the dust collecting on the fiberfill. When it gets full, I will try vacuuming it first and if that fails, I'll make a new filter.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Songs to Live By: Decemberists - California One /Youth and Beauty Brigade

While moving away from Los Angeles definitely had it's benefits (home ownership, Grandma Louise), there are definitely days I miss it. Growing up, aside from the fact that my Aunt Carol lived there, I could see no reason to even visit California, yet through a twist of fate I ended up at Cal Arts for graduate school in 2001.

We lived there for almost six years. We grew two babies, made friends, ate delicious food, hiked the mountains, sat on beaches, saw a few B list celebrities, but my favorite memory is driving down highway 1 on the fourth of July. The sun set just as the highway hit the beach. There were people camped out on the beach shooting fireworks out over the ocean. Sylvia was sleeping in the backseat and Scott and I quietly took it all in.

There are so many little unexpected things about Los Angeles that I miss. Hazy layers of city stacked against the hills, mountains hugging the edges, full of people from all over the world where a person can eventually find anything they should wish. It's a longing I never thought I'd be capable of feeling for a gigantic monster like Los Angeles.

I fought the urge to romanticize California (truly it is not in my nature to romanticize ANYTHING) yet anytime I hear someone singing about California my heart swells and my sappy side shows. Iowa is where we'll stay, but for some reason, it's these quiet drizzly days (the days I liked the most in Los Angeles) that remind me that we've left.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Around Our House: Squash Gone Wild!

ONE days harvest! I am so sick of eating summer squash!

This is the year of the squash! We planted several varieties, but ONE has managed to take over nearly our entire back yard... Zucchino Rampicante Squash.

It IS delicious. It is firmer than regular zucchini, and it is hilarious and slightly pornographic (we like to wear the big ones around our necks while we stroke the swollen bulb at the end for comedic effect).

I was happy to see OTHER neighbors with squash gone wild. I suppose it likes the super wet summer we've had.

Tonight I shall make stuffed squash blossoms. We'll see if we can't stop the reproduction for a few days!

Here is our plant. Taking over the world. Look for it in your neck of the woods any day now...

Monday, August 30, 2010

Around Our House: The Shoulder Incident

The two "bulletholes" on the front. It took three tiny incisions to get the job done.

The "bullethole" on the back.

So many of you may know that in June of 2010 I had shoulder surgery. Most of you probably do not know why, so here goes.

I have hypermobile joints, and I always have (fingers, knees, and shoulders). When I was about 10 I remember jumping into my aunt's swimming pool, finding that something was wrong with my arm, and barely making it to the edge of the pool. I am fairly certain this was the first time my shoulder dislocated (or subluxated). When my shoulder would dislocate, at first I could wiggle it back in joint, but in recent years, reducing (or relocating) the joint required traction. I can remember at least 12 instances of my shoulders dislocating. Here are a few examples of the activities during which dislocation happened:

Swimming (jumping in, and straight swimming)
Swinging on a Swing set
Playing air hockey
Sleeping on my belly
Making the bed
Getting up off of the couch
Lobbing the cat (i know i know bad cat mommy)

My list of things I wouldn't do kept getting larger and larger. When I was in high school, I actually had a doctor tell me that I was just looking for attention and that if my shoulder had actually dislocated, I would have been in the hospital. In 1998, I learned of a procedure where they would heat shrink the capsular tissues (the sock of tissue that surrounds the joint for stabilization) to create a tighter joint and prevent dislocations. I had this done on both shoulders. As it turns out, this procedure wasn't very successful for most people (a lot of people with recurrent dislocations are athletic) so they no longer do this surgery. For me, it worked pretty well. After the surgeries, I went almost ten years before my next dislocation.

The first of my most recent series of dislocations happened right after Beatrice was born. I was sleeping on an air mattress with a toddler and an infant (right after our move to Iowa before Scott arrived with our furniture) and the damn cat kept walking across us on the bed. I grabbed him and tried to lob him off the bed which caused my left shoulder to come out. It took a lot longer to get back in joint and I was completely freaked out. I took some advil and that was that. About a year and a half later, I was making Sylvia's bed and went to pull myself up and my shoulder went out inferior (down). All of my previous dislocations had been anterior (they went out the front of the joint) which is the most common type of dislocation. Inferior dislocations are rare and mine required traction to get it back in joint (thankfully I have watched a lot of medical dramas on TV, and had the sense to grab the bunk bed and pull down).

After the second time, I started seeing a physical therapist. Fortunately, he had been through the same type of issues, and was very informative about exactly what was going on with my shoulder. After about a month of therapy (with little improvement) i went to see an osteopath (Dr Honkamp). He did x-rays and an MRI and determined, that I had Hill-Sachs defect on the humeral head (which is caused from the soft head of the humerus butting up against bone during the dislocations) and that my caspular tissue was indeed "floppy". I was given the option to either have the surgery or not. On one hand, joints tend to tighten with age. Since I am in my mid 30s, there was a good chance my joints would tighten and this would no longer be a problem. On the other hand, random shoulder dislocations are scary and painful. I opted to wait it out. I decided that if I had another dislocation in a year, I would do the surgery. I lasted 14 months.

My last dislocation was the final straw. When my shoulder would dislocate, it was painful, but the worst result was the three months of painful back spasms and spinal misalignment that would follow. The last dislocation happened while I was stretching (I literally had my arms up over my head and the joint clunked out). I made my appointment with Dr Honkamp that day.

The surgery I had is called a Bankhart Repair. Basically what had happened in my joint was that as my humeral head came out of the socket, it had been pushing the labrum (a disc of cartilage that cups the head of the humerus on the scapula) off of the bone and stretching it out. In addition, the capsule (a cuff of tissue that fits over the entire shoulder joint) was loose (like a pair of socks whose elastic has failed). During the surgery, Dr Honkamp gathered up the loose edge of my labrum and re-sutured it to the scapula. He also added some very stylish pleats to my capsule to make it tighter. It was all done orthoscopically.

This is a before and after of my capsule. To the trained eye, you can see how terribly stretched out it was. For the rest of us, just imagine the blue stitches pulling the big pink center part tighter together.

This the the before and after of my labrum. The photo on the left shows a wispy translucent tissue. That is my labrum all floppy and floating around. The photo on the right shows the stitches reattaching the labrum to my scapula.

This is the backside of my humeral head. The white is cartilage (which should be covering most of the head). The pink is bone. I've had so many dislocations that the cartilage is significantly worn off.

When the surgery was done, I spent a few days in extreme pain. I had a bad reaction to the hydrocodone and had to take an anti-emetic with it to keep from throwing up. I slept a lot (propped up like a princess on ton of pillows). After about two weeks, I was able to function on Darvocet. It took a full month and a half to get down to regular pain meds like Advil and Tylenol. Now, about three months out, I do not need to take anything as the pain is minimal.

I had to wear an immobilizer for a full month (the one the gave me at the surgery center was so hot and ugly I had to make a new one - if you need a pattern to make one for yourself, let me know!) I was not supposed to drive while wearing the immobilizer, but honestly after about two weeks of being driven and being stuck at home with two bored kids, I did some driving. I started physical therapy to regain my range of motion after the first 4 weeks. After 2 months, I started doing a little strengthening. I currently have a good range of motion (I lack a little rotation) and hope to have it strong and normal in the next month or two.

This is a fairly major surgery. They treat the recovery as if the bone has been broken. It is more serious than a rotator cuff surgery. After the surgery, it will take almost six months to get the joint back to "normal". For me the most frustrating part at this point is the weakness of the joint. After a solid two months of atrophy, I find lifting and carrying to be difficult. Most of my pain comes from stress on the joint due to lack of strength. Hopefully this will improve as I continue with physical therapy.

If anyone out there is scheduled for this type of surgery or if you suffer from frequent dislocations, please contact me! I am happy to share my experience.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Songs to LIve By: Cut Copy - Far Away

I love this song. I must admit, it totally freaks me out to hear music I like on television shows, for example when this song showed up in a club scene in the 6th season of Nip/Tuck (yes. I watched Nip/Tuck on Netflix). Having gone to college in the 90s, I was so used to having to struggle, pour through music rags, spend hours at the record store, and attend countless hours of live music to find anything worth listening to. Thank you internet....

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Around Our House: Bea's 3rd Birthday

Cutting the cake. Note the reuse of our old sea themed shower curtain as a table runner.

Well I am a little late with this post, but for those of you gearing up for your own birthday parties, here's our version of a fun fish party. The girls and I had a great time planning together and working on the decorations and goodie bags. This party was at least four afternoons of crafts and activities.

We started out by making our goodie bags. I found some fun fish stickers, made little packs of gummie worms and swedish fish, and purchased beach balls for all of the kids. We always buy plain paper bags in different colors and have the kids draw on them. It is hard to find printed birthday materials that aren't covered in Disney characters. For the candies, we found clear plastic treat bags and bought bulk packages and divided them up to save some money. I bought the beach balls from Oriental Trading (not a big fan of cheap throw away toys, but the beach balls SHOULD last all summer).

We also bought cheap plain paper plates in fun aquatic colors and had the girls either draw on them or if you kids are too young, have them stick a few theme related stickers on them. We also purchased three rolls of streamers and a package of balloons. I had an old sea themed shower curtain that I cut into table runners and a cover for our fireplace screen. I had also scored a few seaweed like decorations from a garage sale (by the way always look for decorations at thrift stores or garage sales and conversely anything you do not use or can be used again, be sure to try selling at your garage sale or donate to a thrift store).

I like to have a craft for all of the kids to do, so for this party, we made fishing games. Ahead of time, I made the fishing poles. I purchased short (about 12") dowels, twine, and magnets. If you can find magnets with holes, get hose, otherwise the regular ceramic discs are fine.

Do it Yourself Fishing Game:

Craft foam cut into fish shapes with paper clip hooks. Allow the kids to decorate their own with markers and crayons.

Finishing up the poles with hot glue.

12" long dowels about the thickness of a pencil (or wooden chopsticks)
ceramic magnets (with a hole if available)
assorted colors of craft foam
paper clips
hot glue gun and sticks

Cut your twine into 12" long pieces. Tie to one end of the pole and seal it with a small dab of hot glue. If you have magnets with holes, tie them to the other end of the twine. If not, apply a dab of glue to one side of the magnet and stick the twine to the glue allowing yourself enough room to tie the twine around the magnet.

Cut the craft foam into fish shapes including eels, octopuses, starfish, or any other sea creature you can think up. Allow the children to decorate their own fish using markers and stick on shapes. Slip a paperclip over the end of the fish mouth to act as a hook.

This game is fum for all ages, but you should use caution with magnets around small children who might choke on or swallow the magnets (they can come loose from the twine and pose a serious health risk for young children if swallowed).

Day Before the Party

The girls decorated the starfish with sprinkles and I edged them with frosting.

The day before, we baked and decorated our starfish and fish shaped sugar cookies. We also made our gummie worm and peep sushi. If you have ever made real sushi, these are very similar.
Use a rolled out fruit roll-up in place of the seaweed, rice crispie treats as the rice mixture, and gummie worms and peeps for the "meat". Form the sushi rolls while the rice crispie treats are still warm and flexible and thoroughly butter or grease your hands while working.

The candy sushi was a BIG hit. I wish I could claim credit for this one because they are FABULOUS!

Day of the Party

I woke up early and decorated the cake that I had baked the night before. I was going for an aquarium cake. Check with your local library, many have cake pans to loan.

My kids are always grouchy on party day. I can't figure it out.

After squaring away the food, I decorated the house with three rolls of streamers. I made sure to use them all and the effect was really fun.

The food table with streamer skirt.

I put streamers everywhere.

Grandma Louise keeping my very pregnant cousin company. The green seaweed spirals were a garage sale find.

The party was really fun and the girls and I are already planning for the next one...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Recipes: Super Duper Easy Fruit Juice Slushie

Beatrice enjoying her Apple Raspberry Slushie

Nothing is more refreshing in the heat of summer than an icy cold slushie. My problem is that I can't bring myself to give my kids the nasty sugar packed toxic blue slushies they want from the ice cream shop, so we make ours at home. All you need is a decent blender, frozen juice concentrate, water, and ice cubes.

1 can frozen juice concentrate
16-18 regular sized ice cubes
1 1/2 c cold water

Add all ingredients to the blender and blend on high until smooth. If the slushie is too thick, add a little more water. Serves 4-6.

Note: we often cut this recipe in half (i've got two small kids) and reserve the remainder of the juice concentrate in the freezer for next time.

Monday, April 26, 2010

New Product: Giant Fleece Dice

Six dice ready for some fun! Shown here are purple, red, light green, kelly green, yellow, and lavender.

When a customer requested giant fleece dice, I had no idea how much I would like them! The second Sylvia (my 5 year old) saw one, she informed me that I would have to make her a green one. Beatrice (my 3 year old) quickly followed up with her order for a purple one.

It turns out there are numerous ways to use these giant dice, but my hands-down favorite is to play the clean-up game. Each night before bed, we all take turns rolling the dice and then putting away that number of toys. It usually takes about three rounds to get the whole room tidied up, and the girls are thrilled to play!

We have also been playing a math game where we roll two dice and then add the two numbers together. And admittedly, when the room has been destroyed, we roll BOTH dice during the clean up game.

These can be made in any color, I have a large stock of fleece on hand. I can also make these out of wool for a slight bump on the price.

Order yours today by following this link:

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Around Our House: Blue Violets... For DINNER

Lovely Blue Violets in a tossed salad of fresh picked spinach and dandelion greens accompanied by blooms and leaves of a very resilient Pak Choy that overwintered in our garden.

If you ever needed a good reason not to spray your yard with nasty chemicals, consider all of the edible "weeds" that voluntarily grow each year. One of my favorites (aside from the dandelion) is the Common Blue Violet (Viola papilionacea). Every spring, little heart shaped leaves peek out from the ground to be soon followed by a sea of dainty purple and white blossoms. When I was a little girl, we had violets all over our backyard and spent countless hours picking them and pressing them in books. As a botany student at Iowa State in the late 90s, I discovered these cuties were also edible.

Taken from Peterson Field Guides: Edible Wild Plants by Lee Allen Peterson.
Use: salad, cooked green, soup thickener, tea, candy The tender young leaves can be added to salads or boiled for 10-15 minutes to make a palatable green, or added to soup as an okralike thickener. Violet leaves are rather bland and are best mixed with other greens. The dried leaves can be made into a tea. The flowers can be candied. The leaves are rich in vitamin A and C.

My FAVORITE thing to do with my violets is to add the flowers to salads. In the early spring, when there is not much color in your garden aside from the lovely greens, these little flowers make a cheerful addition.

In the past we've also made candied violets by brushing each petal with a diluted mixture of egg whites and then coating each flower with extra fine granulated sugar and allowing to completely dessicate before storing. One year we packaged these up for Mother's Day.

Other fine edible (midwestern US) plants include white clovers, common plantains (not the bananas), dandelions, lamb's-quarter, day lilies, and shepherds purse (to name a few more common yard weeds). Wild plants typically contain a broader range of phytochemicals and nutrients since they are tasked with having to survive outside of the neatly confined and carefully tended environment of the garden. So before you destroy the bounty that nature has bestowed upon you, take a moment to get to know your weeds (buy a book of your region!) and take a nibble.

Common plantain. Very young leaves can be added to salads or boiled for cooked greens.

Shepherd's Purse. Young greens can be eaten as salad or cooked. Dried seed pods can be ground for a pepper-like seasoning.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Around Our House: ASPARAGUS!

Victory is MINE!

It took two growing seasons, but this, the start of the third growing season, has given us ASPARAGUS! I just cut my first handful about five minutes ago. My stalks are about the size of my fingers and beautifully green. Admittedly, I will have a hard time waiting for Scott to come home for dinner to eat them.

In honor of my asparagus, I want to share one of my favorite asparagus recipes. Lemon asparagus coleslaw.

Lemon Asparagus Coleslaw

1 pound asparagus
1/2 head green cabbage
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 lemon
2T olive oil
salt and pepper

Lightly steam the asparagus (about 3 minutes) and immerse in an ice bath to stop the cooking. Pat dry and slice on the bias into thin slivers. Thinly slice the cabbage and onions. You'll want equal parts asparagus to cabbage. Zest the lemon, and add to the mix. Add the olive oil and the juice from one half of the lemon (unless you like your coleslaw with a bit more zing). Toss and salt and pepper to taste. Serves 4-6.

I also like to add white beans or dried cherry tomatoes to this salad.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Handmade Pretties in the Press: Readymade - April 2010

This is the cover you MUST find on your newsstand!

This is the perfect example of why I ALWAYS do my best work with every order I ship. When Shay Ometz purchased a set of rainbow sweater balls and a personalized giant fleece ball from me, I had no idea they would end up in the pages of one of my favorite magazines!

Pick up the April 2010 issue of Readymade and immediately turn to page 70 and 71 to see three of my balls in the amazing East Dallas home that Ometz shares with her husband and two children. A few of these photos were also featured on Design Sponge.

Don't forget to check out page 34 to see Brianne Sanchez' awesome engagement photos. She's a friend of mine who writes for Juice Magazine in Des Moines.

Page 70. I have dreams of a kids' room this lovely.

Pg 71. Divine

Monday, April 05, 2010

Around Our House: Kombucha or Bust - Part 2

Well I have successfully started a kombucha mother from a bottle of Original GT's. Due to the fact that we are total cheapskates, I had to wait about 4 weeks for it to grow to a decent size (our house is at about 65 degrees in the winter). After it warmed up a bit (in the 70s last week!) it really took off.

Last Wednesday, I started my first batch. I am using organic green tea that I bought at Wang's in Urbandale, although next time I think I'll get my tea from Friedrich (they have a great selection of bulk teas). I brewed about 1 1/2 gallons of green tea (about 14 tea bags) and added 2 cups of turbinado sugar (i would have used regular refined since it gets used up by the kombucha mother, but I actually did not have any.) I moved the mother out of the starter jar (never letting her touch metal!) and into the shiny new 2 1/2 gallon jar I bought at target for $19. I also added about 2 cups of the starter kombucha. The remainder I bottled with a slice of ginger and it is sitting on my counter for 5 days then it is into the fridge for consumption! I have heard the first batch used to grow the mother is not as tasty, so we'll see how my first bottles taste.

As you can see it is getting disgusting! In about a week and a half, I should be able to bottle the batch and start the next one! For those of you in the Des Moines area interested in trying this out, I should have mothers to share in the next few months.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Recipes: White Bean Fennel Salad with Lemon and Dried Cherry Tomatoes

This salad is a good reason to grow fennel this summer. Its bright slightly sweet anise crunch pairs nicely against the tang of the fresh squeezed lemon and creamy starch of the beans.


1 can great northern beans (or 1 1/2 C freshly cooked white beans)
1 fennel bulb
2 T chopped green onions
1 lemon for zest and juice
2 T chopped dried cherry tomatoes (if using regular sundried tomatoes, soak and chop first)
2 T olive oil
salt to taste
lettuce leaves for garnish

First rinse the beans and place in medium bowl. Slice the large portion of the fennel bulb into thin bite sized strips. Mince 2 T of the fennel leaves if desired. Add the fennel, onions, and beans together. Mix in the zest from one lemon, and the juice from one half of the lemon (the whole lemon can be used however I find the result to be a tad too tangy). If using dried cherry tomatoes, pulverize in a baggy with a rolling pin to create a fine mince. If the tomatoes are not dry enough to shatter, you should soak briefly and mince with a knife. Add to the other vegetables. Add the olive oil, mix well. Salt to taste. Serve on fresh lettuce leaves.

Serves 2 for a meal or 4 as a side

Dried Cherry Tomatoes

When summer gives you too many cherry tomatoes, a food dehydrator can be your best friend. We try to dry at least two quart jars of cherry tomatoes each season. Simply slice your cherry tomatoes in half and place on the tray of a food dehydrator for one to two days. They are delicious on salads or reconstituted in stews and casseroles.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

New Product: Vintage Tie Gadget/iPod Cases

Dad does NOT want another tie! He WANTS a gadget case MADE from a tie!

I finally found a use for the giant stash of vintage ties I have been saving. These fun little pouches are perfect for cell phones, iPods, and any other device that needs protecting. Each is lined with wool blend felt and closes with a flap.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Around Our House: Seeds are in the Mail

We ordered seeds for these cute little egg gourds. It is never too early to plan a craft for the kiddos.

Last night Scott and I finally made our seed order from Baker Creek Heirlooms. The catalog showed up in December and we have been oggling it for the last three months.

We ordered from them last year and got a great Purple Podded Pole Bean, that grew more beans than we could ever eat. I was harvesting over 7 pounds every few days! We also got a few orka varieties, pak choy, and three different melons.

This year I made sure to add a good variety of lettuces, broccoli, herbs, carrots, and most importantly squash and pumpkins. I found it the hardest to pick out squash. I love all the different colors and shapes of squash. After making pumpkin pie out of one the the most beautiful Long Island Cheese pumpkins last fall I don't think I can ever use a regular pie pumpkin again.

The girls and I will start planting out seedlings today, and then it is out into the muck to clean up the garden and get it going! I did notice yesterday that some very helpful bunnies have fertilized for us...

I couldn't resist this French pumpkin, Musquee De Provence.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Etsy Favorites: Bonnet!

I didn't even know I wanted a bonnet until I opened Etsy this morning and found this fantastic reversible bonnet!

Miss Minoes out of Leiden, has created this amazing reversible flip-flopable sunhat/bonnet (there are four ways to wear it) that is so casually crazy that I think even I could pull it off (and I am NOT a hat person). I might need this for our summer outings and even a little light gardening.

Friday, March 12, 2010

New Products: Something for the Ladies

Here are a few pics of my new line of ladies skirts! I got bored with making straight panel skirts (not to mention finding copy cat sellers), so I put on my thinking cap and designed these fabulous skirts!

They twirl and sway a little like a square dancing skirt but are fabulously light and cool. Perfect for spring and summer. They are made from recycled jersey and T-shirts. Each one is guaranteed unique, as I do not follow a specific pattern (it's more of a process!) I pull together coordinating fabrics, and get to work. Each skirt is overlock serged for extra durability. My wide jersey fold over waistband allows you to wear your skirt up or down a few inches depending on your mood. It also allows for a wide range of fit, so if you plan to drop a few pounds over the summer, order a size or two smaller than you need and wear it as you lose weight!

Click here to order one of your own!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

New Products: What's New in March!

I have been diligently designing new product lines for Handmade Pretties. Here are a few gems that have come off of the machines in the last few days.

Recycled Jersey Skirts!

Recycled Jersey Skirts with built-in Pantaloons!

Recycled T-shirt Bloomers!

And One Super Fantastic Floor Length Sweater Skirt!