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Cupcake Party for Betz White!

Cupcake Celebration | a happy stitch

Did you know that the amazing Betz White has been blogging for 10 years?! Amazing, isn’t it!  She launched herself into the sewing/crafting world with her iconic cupcake decoration made out of felted, re-purposed sweaters from the thrift store ten whole years ago.  I’ve been so lucky to get to know her in that time and it’s been such fun to be a part of her sewing collective this past year.  So, I was really excited when she asked me to help her celebrate the anniversary and I decided to throw her a cupcake party of the real variety (no felt in these bad boys!).

Cool Whip Icing | Cupcake CelebrationBetz is the queen of the repurposed DIY world and she deserves serious accolades.  Now, I’m not much of a baker nor do I have the disposition for fussy recipes but I do have a secret up my sleeve and that is a family recipe for the most scrumptious icing of all time!  As a bonus it only take three minutes to make it. Do check it out on her blog.  Warning: It’s a little naughty!  While you are visiting her, make sure and congratulate her.

Perfect Gift for your favorite snarky Parents :: Peppermint Schnapps with a side of cheeky

It’s Christmas mode at our house right now.  Full throttle.  My favorite response to all things chaos and crazy is to get a little punchy.  And, that my friends, is where this peppermint schnapps comes in.

Peppermint Schnapps with cheeky recipes for using it  including Elf Tea, Santa's Little Secret. etc.  Funny and the perfect gift for your favorite snarky parent friends.

I am going to be honest, I am laughing at my own joke right now.  I had so much fun concocting this little gift.  We have a few friends we have relied on since our babies were little and we have been through it all.  I decided alcohol was the best and most appropriate gift for them.  So, I made homemade peppermint schnapps (the recipe is from the Handmade Winter e-book) and got completely carried away making up ways to use the schnapps. (more…)

(gluten free) french lentil stew

Yeah. I know.  You are super busy making desserts and turkey glazes for your holiday meal.  But what, I ask you, are you going to make all the other days?  Huh?! What will you eat to counteract all the rich and sweet stuff?  Here is your answer: my gluten-free french lentil stew.  It’s also easy to make it vegan.

french lentil stew

I’ve been avoiding gluten, in earnest, for a year or two now and have been a vegetarian for decades.  To be honest, I long for a bagel and a beer like nobody’s business.   But, I love how good I feel.   Honestly, I’m a much healthier eater now that I can’t just fill up on bread & pasta.  This stew is the kind of meal that feels really filling but energizing at the same time.  Lentils are packed with protein and iron and nothing is quite as satisfying as a good, hearty stew for those days when you are working your butt off getting ready for the holidays.

A few quirky things:  I hate celery and avoid it at all costs.  I often replace celery with the stalk from broccoli.  Peel off the rough outer skin and the inside is sweeter and soft and yummy.  It provides the same watery addition as celery does but without the gross taste (did my celery-hate just pop to the surface?).

lentil stew prep

Also, french lentils are smaller and very different from regular green lentils.  They stay firm when cooked and are more toothsome.  A much better taste, in my opinion, in a stew because they don’t dissolve into a mush like green lentils.  So, don’t cheat…make sure you use french lentils!

Here it is, the iron-rich lentil soup that makes my house smell amazing and makes my vegetarian soul sing:

Ingredients

  • 1 finely diced onion
  • 3 cubed carrots
  • 2 stalks from broccoli, just the stalk, with the rough skin peeled off and finely cubed (or replace with 2 stalks of celery)
  • 2 Tablespoons oil (coconut or canola, whatever you like)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/4 cup diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup french lentils, rinsed and sorted
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • splash of red wine vinegar
  • splash of worcester sauce (omit if you don’t eat fish)

In a dutch oven or other heavy bottomed saucepan sauté, over medium heat, the broccoli stalk, onion and carrot in the oil until the onion is transparent.  Add in diced tomatoes and the bay leaf cooking for another 4-5 minutes.  Throw in the lentils, vegetable broth, spices and splash of red wine vinegar and worcester sauce.  Bring to a boil and then cook for 20-25 minutes at a slow boil.  Enjoy!

Once your tummy is filled with this goodness, you will be ready to tackle the holidays head on! Go tiger!

 

spotty table runner

I have my preferences…I like linen, I like red and teal together, I like a touch of modern embroidery, and I like spots.  I’m sticking to it.  it’s working for me.  that is why I am not feeling shy about proudly displaying our new table runner.  I love it.  this is a little embarrassing but I sometimes walk by the dining room and just smile at it…as if it were a very well-behaved and cute child.  I am indeed in love. did I mention that?

as soon as I saw the pillow case in this book by the amazing ellen luckett baker I knew that I wanted to use the reverse applique technique for a table runner.  I love the way the right runner makes a table look pretty and inviting.

but that is enough gushing.  time to get down to brass tacks.

to make this I cut a strip of linen 17″ wide and just long enough that about three inches hang over both ends of the table.  then I cut circles out of card stock in two different sizes and used them to decide where I wanted to place the circles.  once I had the paper circles in locations that I liked, I traced around them onto the linen with a marking tool.  next I prepared the patterned fabric by cutting circles out of them using a fabric circle cutter being sure to cut my fabric circles 1.5″ larger than their respective paper circles.

with careful placement and using fusible hemming tape I ironed the fabric circles onto the wrong side of the linen (translation: it took me forever to get the circles secured in the right position).  because I had already drawn with a marking tool around the card stock I was able to machine sew along the lines I had drawn to complete the circles and really secure them in place.  of course, at this point, all I had was a strip of linen with sewn circles on it, I couldn’t see the patterned fabric.  so, using my sharp little ‘could never live without you’ scissors I cut the linen inside of my sewn circles without cutting the patterned fabric.  and voila, the patterned fabric pops out! next, I simply used embroidery floss to make even little stitches around every circle.  once that was done all I had to do was sew a muslin fabric on the back.

the patterned fabric I used was almost entirely vintage…some from vintage sheets (the dark navy and the blue and gold flowers).  but, the most special fabric in this runner is just peeking out of the corner in the picture above.  it came to me as a gift from my lovely aunt who appreciates both beautiful things as well as the way that things hold onto history and memory.  the fabric is actual flour sack fabric from the flour mill owned by her husband’s family, my awesome uncle.  starting in the great depression all the way to the 50s flour would come in printed fabric that was then reused to make everything from clothes and wash towels.  flour mills apparently printed lots of different patterns to encourage people to buy lots of flour.  to have the real thing and with a family connection is a real treat! I was so touched to receive it (really, I am just lucky my aunt doesn’t have any girls!).

I’ve been holding onto this fabric for a long time, afraid to chop it up but this seemed like the right project for it.  it was a flour mill in rural Minnesota so it’s got a bit of me in it.  seemed a good thing to have at my table, right? right.

and, by now it has hosted many of our meals but the first one was this tomato salad (chopped up with basil, garlic and olive oil) from our abundant garden.

advent and adios

our advent calendar was a raging success. both of our boys love a predictable routine anyway and the morning draw of the day’s advent only added to their joy.  it was really fun to have an activity each day even when it was a simple one.  we did lots of ‘making’ and they loved knowing that an activity was coming in the afternoon, it made everything run smoother.  no lie.  I’m trying to figure out how to keep up something like that during the rest of the year…maybe a really big family calendar of some sort. anyway, her is the run down on some of our favorite activities:

*two kinds of snowflakes…one made of paper (a major success!!) and the other from a way-too-fussy Martha Stewart thing that was mostly a disaster.

     

* decorating really big snowmen to hang up on the wall. this activity was actually an on-the-fly response to having an advent activity that read “build a snowman” on one of the many warm weather days we have had in these parts.  (it’s getting really old.  I’m starting to shake my fists and rant “we need snow!” to no one in particular).

 

* we built a ‘snow castle’ from white christmas lights  in a cardboard box. i got the idea here, which incidentally is a fantastic site full of great kid-craft ideas.  in fact, I think most of my ideas might have actually originated here.

* a door wreath out of a wooden wreath with pom-poms glued onto it. we used clear glue, which is really impressing me these days.  it honestly dries clear.  I got the inspiration for this from here, even though ours is nothing like that, it is what sparked the idea.

  *and shrinky dink ornaments! I am pretty sure that I let out a little squeal when I saw shrinky dinks in an art supply store. and, they are just as much fun as I remember. both boys loved how they shrink and they were able to color on them the way they would like to and still have the final product turn out small like a real ornament.  word! next year might be the ‘year of the shrinky dink filled Christmas tree’.  we will see.

  

but, this year is nearly done and all remaining energy is now being diverted to the cooking and kitchen fussing…it must be done. so, we are unplugging (mostly), grabbing the cookbooks and the wine.  it’s Christmas time! have a beautiful and relaxing holiday friends!

bring on the food

i really can’t express how happy thanksgiving makes me.  we’ve been menu planning all week.  here is part of an actual conversation:

what about brussel sprouts? oh my god! we don’t have a brussel sprout plan!

babe. babe. it’s okay. remember, we are going to do them for Christmas.

(and then i calmed down.)

 

it’s urgent and important these decisions.

in the end, we are having homemade cranberry relish and green bean casserole from here (horrible name but great magazine); roasted root vegetables; raw kale salad; marinated radishes because i couldn’t stop thinking about them after hearing someone discuss a recipe on the radio;  roasted potatoes; apple crumb pie; cupcakes from here; and oh yeah turkey/fake turkey and stuffing.

a mix of new and old, i suppose.  we will eat well, that much is for sure.

what about you?

whatever you munch on…have a great thanksgiving!

 

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