Sunday, June 12, 2011

Summer's Sunday Selections- Featuring Etsy Entrepreneurs

Starting today, this will be a weekly feature for my blog.  I am going to comb through the vast reaches of Etsy, and maybe even beyond, to find my favorite things.  Thats pretty much all I do anyways, at least when I'm not working on a new purse or sleeping.  This week my favorites came from a team challenge we did for Etsy Entrepreneurs.  All of today's featured shops/items are from fellow EE team mates.  This was a great exercise in marketing and was beneficial for all who were involved.  All of the items featured here are currently for sale in the featuree's shop.  Make sure to click the shop links and check them out!

Now, on to the good stuff:

The first shop I would like to show off is Christine's Jewelry!  She has some super awesome things, but this red and gold necklace is my favorite.  (hint hint to anyone who may be in the market for a gift to me!)  I just love the color, and the combinations of textures and shapes.  Those green earrings are fab too!

If I hadn't just gotten married, I would totally be planning to use this next shop... Sugar Robot!  They make elegant, edible cake decorations, like these oh so brilliant and life like butterflies!  Aren't they gorgeous?   And those little monsters would be perfect for a kids birthday party.

Next in my line up of featured shops is the lovely Subliminal Beauty.  Her photography is wonderful.  I love that she doesn't stick to just one thing.  She has nature shots, urban shots, close ups, everything.  It was hard to pick just two of her photographs to feature here, but these are my favorites!

Who doesn't smile when they see a lovable, huggable, classic teddy bear?  Bailey's Bruins has been stitching up bears (and I've seen a bun or two as well) for years.  They would make a great first teddy for any child, and they are all unique!  I just love those little embroidered noses.

Almost done folks, just two more shops to go!

Lil' Bundle of Joy makes all manner of baby things, from bibs to burp clothes, to my personal favorites, little stuffed owls.  If I had a baby, or one near by that has parents who would let me play with it, I would totally get this little owl.  She's just so cute.  Or this cuddly looking blanket.   Adorb! (<-thats short for adorable, for those who may not be up on the lingo.)

Last, but certainly not least, I have Beguiling Vintage!  As much as I love hand made crafts, I also enjoy the old stuff.  I have to, I have a degree in history.  BV has some truly awesome stuff, from cute 50's dresses to jewelry to kitschy home decor.  Here are a couple of my favorites from her vast and varied stash of vintage goodies:

Annd that concludes the first set of Summer's Sunday Selections!   If you made it all the way to the end, thank you!  And go take around these wonderful shops.  This is just a small sampling of what they have to offer.  

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Blog Update and Another Cooking Guideline

Blog update first!  I'm going to be rolling out a new weekly post this week:  Summer's Sunday Selections!  I'll be featuring some of my fabulous favorite items from Etsy and around the webs on Sundays.   Now, on to the good stuff!

Whole Wheat- Multigrain crackers

Who doesn’t love good crackers?  They can be simple or complex, and go well with so many things.  But why settle for those store bought ones when a few simple ingredients can give you healthy, preservative free crackers with as little or as much salt and other flavorings as you want?

 I bring you another “cooking guild line,” this time for some multigrain crackers.  These are fantastic and easy to make if you have a grain mill or something like a magic bullet blender.  I have the later.  I started with this simple whole wheat cracker recipe from, and modified it to fit the assortment of grains/beans that I had on hand.

I replaced 1 cup of the whole wheat flour with 1/4th cup each of ground barely, cracked wheat, ground lentils, and corn meal.  I also replaced a half of a cup of the all propose flour with soy flour.  The resulting dough was a little sticky, but adding in some more whole wheat flour would probably fix that right up.

Look at that wholesome goodness!
Here’s the modified recipe-
¼ cup lentils
¼ cup barely
¼ cup wheat berries
¼ cup corn meal
¾ cup whole wheat flour
½ cup soy flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup oil
1 cup water
½ teaspoon of salt (or to taste)
Spices to taste

   1.     When measuring the lentils, barely and wheat berries, make sure to use generous ¼ cups, as they settle to less once ground.  Combine the lentils, barely, and wheat berries and put them through the grain mill (with this method, you may want to grind the lentils separately with the stone for wet or oily stuff).  If are using a magic bullet, simply combine them and use the grinding blades.  It took me a couple of turns of about 10 seconds to reach a smooth consistency. 
   2.     Mix the resulting flour with the corn meal, whole wheat flour, soy flour, all purpose flour and salt.
   3.     Add the oil, water and any spices you want to include.  I used a ½ tbsp basil, ½ tbsp oregano, and a tbsp of garlic.  Stir until the dough is well mixed.  If its too sticky, add more whole wheat flour.   It should be a fairly dry, almost crumbly dough.
   4.     On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough.    It should be no more than an 1/8th of an inch thick.  Place the rolled out dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet (or two if you want them really thin).  Line with aluminum foil if you are worried about sticking.  
5. Sprinkle the top with salt, to taste. I also added some sesame seeds to mine.  Using a knife, score the crackers where you want them to break apart once baked.  Don’t cut all of the way through though.
6. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees.

You can use any kind of grains or beans that you have on hand to make these crackers.  The next time I make them, I'll probably throw in some oatmeal.

Tada!  Delicious, fresh baked, wholesome crackers.
Here they are, right before going into the oven.  No after shots though, they were gone too fast!

Monday, June 6, 2011

I'm baaaack, and I have vintage silks!

Wow, it has been a long long time I've had the time or motivation to blog.  So sorry I wasn't able to post in so long!  Teaching Algebra II was probably the hardest job I've had in a long time, and took up a lot of my time outside of school and was a general energy vampire.  Its a real challenge to motivate kids who just don't give a rat's butt about math and don't understand how important math skills are, and I'm not just talking about knowing how to rationalize radical expressions and factor polynomials.  I mean the thinking and reasoning skills you gain from math.  Of course it didn't help that they went for 2 weeks without a real teacher.  By the time I got them, they had lost all motivation to do well, and had missed some necessary skills we just didn't have the time to pick up.  But, enough about that... I'm back to blogging and crafting!  I’ll be posting more regularly now that its summer time and I have all of my important business squared away.  So, hello again!
The original collection of silk sleeves.
I’ll keep my first post back short and sweet, and talk about my newest project to use up the kimono fabric I acquired back in early march, and mentioned in my last post.  I got them from Kyoto Kimono, which has great deals on vintage, workable Japanese silks. Each sleeve that I got was about one yard by 14 inches after the seams were ripped.  My first project with the kimono fabric was okay, and I think it would make a great small purse for someone who wants something simple and lovely to carry around.  However, I decided that this wasn’t the best or most efficient use of this awesome material.  I was just having trouble coming up with something better, and became distracted by other fabrics and life in general.
The first project, it can be found on Etsy as well.

I rediscovered the kimono sleeves while I was reorganizing my working area.  I had moved my sewing cabinet to the opposite wall and was switching up my fabrics.  This was really just an excuse to take them all out and look at them, which is a great way to spawn inspiration.  That, and I just enjoy looking at them.  What can I say; I’m a fabricaholic.   

I pulled sleeves out and was ogling them, enjoying their varied textures and weights when the idea came to me.  What if I mixed them a nice sturdy, natural fabric (like the drill I already had a lot of) and made something bigger, with a bit more of a specific use…  I’ve been meaning to try making a laptop bag, and had already experimented with a messenger style bag before.

So dropped what I was doing, leaving a pile of fabrics still on the floor, and I sat down with a piece of blank paper.   I sketched out a simple, squared design in about 10 minutes.  The shape would keep me from having to cut out any curved pattern pieces and make a clean, geometric bag.  I liked what I came up right away, and just needed to pick which sleeve I wanted to use.  I decided on one I did because it looked simple from far away, but had a beautiful textured look up close.  Aaaand!  Here are the results:

So, the moral of my story is:  Spring cleaning can be an awesome source of new ideas from old inspirations.

p.s. If you want this bag, it can be yours!  Check it out on Etsy and give it some love.