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.