Friday, February 03, 2012

a little last-minute valentine

these torchy little numbers - hey, it IS an Olympic year! - are a cinch
to make and easily reproduced for a crowd
my little boy and i were playing around the other day with colored cardstock and tissue paper, using it to make paper lanterns in honor of chinese new year, when i started thinking about Valentine's Day. 
lantern-making. and, no, those are not child-safe scissors.
we need to invest in some.
h isn't in school, yet, so we're not at the point where he needs to make valentines for all his classmates, but he does have some special friends and family it would be fun to celebrate this year. i got the idea to make treat cones out of the cardstock, with a tissue "flame." a home-printed tag completes the torch. the best part: all you need is a few supplies you're likely to have lying around.
supplies: heavyweight paper such as cardstock or leftover holiday cards, tissue paper squares
(approximately 6" x 6"), scissors, clear tape or glue, ribbon, hole punch, candy

to make the cones, cut the paper into rectangles - an 8.5" x 11" sheet cut into equal quadrants makes a perfect little cone, but 4" x 6" photos or 4" x 8" holiday cards work well, too. form each rectangle into a cone and secure with tape or strong glue, and decorate as you see fit - my kiddo went wild with the markers. 

this is a great way to repurpose your child's drawings
print and crop the tags, then punch a hole in the top corner of each. (click here to download and print your own "i hold a torch for you!" tags). tape a length of ribbon to the middle back of the cone and attach a tag. 

finally, fill with candy or other treats and top with the tissue paper square. (for these photos, i used hershey's kisses santa had brought us, but will invest in fair trade goodies for those we give away. click here to find out why.)
you can also use this technique to make easy little ornaments
out of last year's holiday cards to hang on this year's tree!
happy valentine's day!

Friday, January 20, 2012

answer to a maiden's prayers

this blog has seen several iterations, from travel journal to home reno blog to a small business-centered space, but at its inception, it was all about the meals i was making as a newly married person. i don't blog much about food anymore, though as a full-time parent, i cook more now than ever. as 2012 dawned, bringing with it a new addition to our family (Virginia Frances, born on January 6), i realized i had to get more organized about the way i plan, shop for, and make our meals. my biggest challenge: dealing with all the recipes i've clipped from magazines over the years. i'm a nearly lifelong magazine junkie (seriously, i can remember hoarding my Highlights  magazines as a child) and have always struggled with what to do with issues i've already read but with which i'm not quite ready to part. enter technology: pinterest has now helped replace the shelter and design mags that used to fill boxes and boxes in my basement (okay, they still do, but i have big plans to divest myself of those this spring). but i was still holding on to years and years of Martha Stewart Living, among others, just for the recipes. a couple of years ago i started tearing out recipes and putting them in paper folders, but that was getting terribly unwieldy in my tiny kitchen. i thought pinterest might be my salvation again, but my "recipes to try" board there was starting to look like a Better Homes and Gardens recipe archive, and while i'm not embarrassed to admit to subscribing to the same magazines my grandmother reads, i didn't really need to recreate elsewhere. 

then this week i just stumbled upon a site i have to share, since it's already revolutionized the way i think of and file my recipe clippings. project foodie shares (and lets you save and share) recipes from the most recent issues of Bon Appétit, Cooking Light, Cook's Illustrated, Martha Stewart Living, Everyday Food, Fine Cooking, Food & Wine, Gourmet, Saveur, Southern Living, Sunset, and of course, Better Homes and Gardens. and it's FREE. i feel like a huge organizational burden has been lifted from me. all this new digitizing is so divine, i fear it can't last - will project foodie go the way of my dearly departed-then-reconfigured bloglines, and will pinterest end up as the next myspace? let's hope not, since i'm off to save scores of recipes and images to both. first, i'll share a recent fave here, for old time's sake, from Sunset via

Wild Mushroom and Butternut Squash Bread Pudding 

3 cups cubed butternut squash, cut into ¾” chunks
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1 teaspoon pepper, divided
About 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
3 leeks, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced and rinsed well
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 pound mixed wild mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
6 cups cubed rustic white bread, cut into 1-in. cubes, lightly toasted
3 cups half-and-half
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon flour
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded gruyère cheese
1. Preheat oven to 375°. Heap squash on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with oil and 1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Bake, stirring occasionally, until tender and golden brown, about 35 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.
2. Melt 2 tbsp. butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add leeks with 1/4 tsp. salt; cook until softened. Add garlic, cook 2 minutes, and add mixture to squash.
3. Melt remaining 2 tbsp. butter in same pan over medium heat. Add mushrooms and 1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring, until mushrooms have released their liquid and are beginning to brown, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in thyme.
4. Add mushrooms to squash-leek mixture. Stir in bread; scoop into a buttered 9- by 13-in. baking dish.
5. Whisk together half-and-half, eggs, remaining 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper, the flour, and parmesan in a medium bowl. Pour custard over bread mixture and let stand 10 minutes. Top with gruyère, then bake, uncovered, until cheese is melted and beginning to brown and custard is just set (poke with a knife to check), 30 to 35 minutes.
Make ahead: Through step 4, 1 day ahead, covered and chilled; or finish bread pudding 1 day ahead, chill, and reheat at 375° for 30 minutes.
Serves 8-10

Friday, December 23, 2011

Guest posting on baltimore etsy street team: My three things: Gifts for Boys to Inspire Craftin...

baltimore etsy street team: My three things: Gifts for Boys to Inspire Craftin...: I was reading one of two-year-old son’s favorite winter books, the truly lovely Shall I Knit You a Hat , by Kate Klise and M. Sarah Klise, t...

Monday, October 31, 2011

don't quit your day job(s)

Marigan bag 007 one of the things about being a crafter is that you're often so busy making your stuff that you can't take time to learn new techniques. because i'm not doing any major holiday craft shows this year, thanks in part to the impending arrival of a new little one in january, i've been taking some time to hone my craft. i've started gretchen hirsch's craftsy course as a dressmaking refresher. i'm working with fabrics i haven't used since high school, to get reacquainted with sewing on satin and taffeta. and i made a pleated satchel at the request of my dear friend marigan, who has been so generous with her insane photography skills for my family.
Marigan bag 005 making a bag tested all sorts of sewing limits for me, especially since i (a) didn't want to use a pattern, and (b) wanted it to be both functional and attractive. i based the look and functionality on tannei casey's pleated hobos, using the same IKEA fabric that she used in one i bought from her last year. marigan wanted slightly different detailing - a long strap and two shorter ones, instead of one long adjustable strap - so i tweaked my design to include those. the bag is faced and lined and includes a gusseted bottom, interior pockets, interior key hook, and a snap closure. my sewing machine wasn't quite up to sewing through many layers of heavy fabric, so the straps involve some serging that i wouldn't have otherwise chosen, but all in all i'm very happy and thrilled to have learned how to do things like gusseting. that said, i'm not going to be providing competition for tannei casey or my lovely beeps' peeps anytime soon - i'm happy sticking with non-handbag accessories and apparel in my little shop.

Friday, September 23, 2011

last minute excitement and a guest post

this just in: brita of beeps' peeps and i will be showing our stuff at the sublime, and astoundingly huge, Crafty Bastards show in dc next week. if you're anywhere near the district on october 1, stop by to see some of the nation's most talented craftspeople, and us, of course. we'll be at booth 101.

in other news, i had a guest post on the baltimore etsy street team's blog last week that i missed because we were in chattanooga celebrating my little one's second birthday. it's all about the podcasts i listen to while sewing, though since i wrote it, i've stumbled on so many more that i need to do a companion piece over here. anyway, check it out at (something is going on with BEST's blog coding, so it looks a little wonky, with apologies.)

Friday, September 02, 2011

BEST for Breasts

i recently joined the baltimore etsy street team, aka BEST, and am already learning a lot about the business of crafting, both on etsy and locally. this month, BEST launched a new shop to benefit breast cancer patients. BEST for Breasts: A Titillating Fundraiser features pasties made by BEST members from a host of interesting materials, including ceramics, metals, and of course fabric.

err, what's a pasty, you say? nope, we're not talking edible treats here - some of the photos in the shop are NSFW. i had way too much fun making my contribution, even without trying them on. i used some of my favorite remnant fabric, stiff fusible interfacing, and tassels i made from embroidery floss:

BEST pasties 003

all proceeds collected from the sale will be donated to the Red Devils, a maryland organization that funds services to improve the quality of life for breast cancer patients and their families. the BEST for Breasts shop is still being stocked, so check back often!

Thursday, September 01, 2011

new stuff in the shop!

the post title basically says it all. with the cancellation of fenton street market this past weekend, thanks to miss irene, i have quite a bit of new inventory and more to come as soon as i can photograph it. check it out at