24 December 2007


"may your days be filled with unexpected joy"
(I saw this quote on a card this afternoon and really wanted to share it with you all)

Well, I've finally finished all of the presents to be made (every last one of them!). These two cuties are my favorites I think. They're headed to Jared's little nephews, who I hope will love them for years to come. Thank you all for your amazing support this year, I can't believe I've been writing this blog for almost a full year. It's been a truly heartwarming and incredible experience thus far and I'm definitely looking forward to another year of sharing my creations and experiences with all of you out there. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my words and, occasionally, leave your own words for me as well.

Wishing all of you a joyous holiday (for those of you celebrating) and happy and healthy new year. I'm off to Florida to spend a few days with Jared's family there. I'll be back in 2008!

23 December 2007

Eating Lavender is Weird, But Good

I had a request for the lavender shortbread recipe, so here it is. I have to say, that I still can't decide how I feel about these cookies. I seriously love the smell of lavender, and it seems that my senses are confused by tasting something that I normally just smell. But I do really like these and would highly recommend trying them.

Lavender Shortbread (vegan)
{recipe courteous of epicurious}
1 cup non-dairy margarine, softened (like Earth Balance, Willow Run, etc.)
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1-2 tsp. rosewater
1 1/2 dried culinary lavender
2 cups all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 325. Cream margarine, sugar, rosewater, and lavender until soft and fluffy. Mix in flour. Dough should be soft, but not too sticky. Divide dough in two and form into flat rounds. Cover with plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Roll out dough on parchment paper or silpat mat. Each round should be about 1/4" thick (it doesn't really matter how big the rounds are as long as they are the same to make for consistent baking). Bake for about 15-18 minutes until edges are golden brown. When the shortbreads are removed from the oven, score the top with a spatula or back of a knife. When the shortbreads are cooled, they will break easily along these lines. Cool. Enjoy with tea or coffee.

19 December 2007

Holiday Cooking, part 2 {or- c is for cookie}

...and cookie is for me. Actually, cookie is not for me. Cookie is for gifts. Yeah, to top off all the gifty madness around here lately, I'm in the cookie phase. Next year (there will soon be a long list of "next year"s), I'm definitely going to bake and freeze the cookies weeks ahead of time.

The list of cookies for 2007 holiday gift-giving is: (1)orange cranberry drops, (2)chocoloate-chocolate chip cookies spiked with some creme de menthe, (3)sesame biscotti, (4)almond horns, and (5)lavender shortbread. Seriously- I've made that many cookies (and all vegan too)! I've got the last batch going in the oven in t-minus 17 minutes, and I can't wait. And then (and then) I'll only have four super quick and easy gifts left! And everything that needs to be mailed will be mailed. Hear the sigh of relief.

I'm not sure how I feel about posting all of the recipes for all of these cookies here right now because (1) I'm tired, and (2) that would make for a really long post, which most of you probably aren't up for at the moment, because you're all probably tired too. So, enjoy these photos (darkness, again) and if you want the recipes for any of these- leave a comment and I will be sure to share them here soon. I assure you they are all delicious!

17 December 2007

Lining 'Em Up

I am finally getting myself together and will be packing up some gifts to bring to the post office tomorrow. Yay! I'm not done, don't think I'm that on top of things. Of course Hanukkah's been over for how many days now? I'm trying to ignore that and just go with the whole "holiday season" thing (which I am normally totally against because, let's face, when most-not all- people say "holidays" they really mean Christmas-but we're not going to get into that right now). Anyways, here's a quick look at some of my presents so far. Most of my friends and family peeps are getting some combination of what you see here.

Number one: little notebooks. These were totally inspired by this post by Amy. They were so super easy to make, it was ridiculous. I bought this paper at Paper Source and totally wish that they had more of a variety of this printed kraft paper than these three designs. But hey, I think these turned out pretty cute. I think I'll have to keep a stash of these on hand from now on for last minute gifts.

Number two: Hot Cocoa Mix. I stole this recipe from Martha (find it here), and modified it a little by adding 1 tablespoon of cinnamon and 1 tablespoon of cardamom. Love it. It would also be good spiked with some creme de menthe.

Number three: quilted potholders. Thanks to Hannah for this idea. These are basically just large coasters, so it wasn't anything too amazingly new, but fun nonetheless. As Melissa says, these are all about the fabric (do you not just die over these itty bitty houses?!).

Finally, I made a mix CD with custom made CD sleeves (they're the same printed paper as the mini notebooks above-I'll show photos later). I used a lot of the music I've bought recently and included lots of local bands that I've come to know (not personally) and love over the last year since moving to Minneapolis. Here are the artists I included: nada surf, feist, love-cars, st. vincent, iron and wine, ice palace, mirah, yo la tengo, rilo kiley, the decemberists, travis, low, tortoise, sparklehorse, mason jennings, that dog. If you like any of the artists I just mentioned and haven't heard of others (most likely the local mpls ones), I highly recommend checking them out, this mix is on very heavy rotation over here. I haven't put together a mix in a long time and I had so much fun with this one-I picked out all the songs and then Jared helped me put them all in order. I did have to talk him out of doing this is in some fancy audio engineering program and crossfading (blah blah blah) between all the songs. Yeah, we're keeping it simple.

I hope I'm not giving too much away to people who may be receiving these gifts... There's still more to come, including the baking that will get underway tonight. It's been really fun putting this all together, and (as you can tell from the links above) I've tried out some fun new projects that were totally inspired by many of you out there in blogland, so thanks!

Also-the shop is now updated with many many new items. There are still a few more that I'm hoping to get up there tonight or tomorrow. I've got lots of new items, so please head on over there to see what's available. I'm happy to do gift shipping if it's a present and if you need this by Christmas, let me know and I'll do my very very best to get it there in time. Thanks!

14 December 2007

Quick Reminder

Just wanted to remind all y'all local folks that I'll be at the Women's Art Festival tomorrow (Saturday, December 15) from 10am-5pm at the Midtown YWCA (2216 East Lake Street in Minneapolis). I'm looking forward to it, and hope I see some of you there! If you come, be sure to come find me (not sure exactly where I'll be) and say hi.

I'll be back in a few days with some photos of some new projects-mostly gifts now. I've got some WIPs, but I'm tired of posting dark and crappy photos, so we'll wait until there's some nice light during the day. I thought I was burnt out from sewing all this stuff for these two shows, but I've been having fun making new things for gifts and can't wait to show them off. I have officially stopped adding ideas to my holiday projects/gifts list, even though there are so many good ones out there (can't post links now, later I promise), and now have a healthy "post holiday projects" list going. Can't wait for that too! Hope everyone has a great weekend and stays warm for those of you in the midwest and northeast (the forecast on the radio said that it would be "ridiculously cold tonight"-great.)

13 December 2007

The Office

I have officially worked at my current job for a full year now. I love my job, I really do. I mean, yeah sometimes I get bored and spend most of the day catching up on blog-reading and flickr-looking, but I love it. There are about 30 people in my office and after a year, I feel like I can finally appreciate shows like The Office, and even Office Space. Don't get me wrong, it's not that bad or anything. But we've got our fair share of quirky, hilarious people. Like the guy who keeps calling me Diane, or the woman (make that women) with the super cackly loud laugh, or the people who kept their halloween candy stashed away in a filing cabinet and only told certain people where it was. Yeah, I get it now. And then, and then, there was Secret Santa last week. Let's just say, some people didn't give their Secret Santa gifts, and there was a bit of a scandal. (For the record, I opposed the name Secret Santa and and lobbying for something more secular next year-we'll see how that pans out).

Anyways, in addition to Secret Santa, someone also organized a Gift Exchange with the theme "comfort." To my own disappointment, I didn't go too handmade for the Secret Santa gifts I gave (except for the jar of homemade hot cocoa mix- more on that later). My recipient has a very different style than me, so that's just how it goes (oh crap- does that mean I broke the pledge? I hope not, I didn't mean to). Well, I hope I made up for it with my Gift Exchange gift. It's the pieced pillow from Last Minute Patchwork and Quilted Gifts. Let me just say this: this was a super fun and simple project. I only wish that I had bought more of those pillowforms that were on sale at JoAnn's a few weeks ago, because this was a great project. I guess we know what else is getting added on to my "post-holiday project list." {The only thing I would modify about it would be that there's no way to remove the cover, I might have to try something like this next time}.

This wouldn't really be my first choice of fabrics for my own house, but I think my recipient will like it. It seems like her style. I bought this pink "mod paisley" over the summer thinking it would turn into a skirt. And then, when I got home, I thought- this is kind of a cute pattern, but I would never actually wear it. So I'm glad I found a use for it. And the blue is flannel (it's also backed in this same fabric)-what could be more "comfort"-able than a flannel pillow?

12 December 2007

Holiday Cooking, part 1

Well, Hanukkah has come to an end. As I mentioned, I had two wonderful Hanukkah dinners last weekend and I wanted to share a couple of the recipes. Even though Hanukkah is over, these would still be delicious for any holiday or even just a regular meal. I made vegan potato latkes for the second year in a row. Last year, when I first read my mom the recipe we both thought "that sounds good, but it won't taste like a real latke" ("real" latkes have eggs and no carrots). However, I was surprised by how much they really did taste like traditional latkes. When Jared first tried them, he said "it tastes like a tater tot, where's the ketchup?" Can you tell he's not Jewish?! (For a great read about latkes, check out Emily's post).

Anyways, in addition to the two recipes listed below, I also made this delicious white bean salad. I've never had white bean salad on hanukkah before, but the recipe came up when I googled "vegan hanukkah recipe" and it looked good, so what the heck. Also, Cranberry-Orange Tart has nothing to do with hanukkah either, but it fits the season, and again, the recipe sounded good. As you can tell, there really aren't that many traditional hanukkah foods- just fried things (mainly latkes and jelly donuts) to commemorate the miracle of the oil lasting for eight nights. My family was never big on jelly donuts, and even if they were- they're not so much vegan (although I did just come across a decent-sounding recipe for vegan donuts- I'll have to test that one out later). So here's what I've got...

Vegan Potato Latkes (from Myra Kornfeld's "The Voluptuous Vegan")
1 1/2 lbs russet potatoes
1/2 cup unbleached white flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cup minced onion
1/2 cup grated carrot
1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions
2 tbl soy milk (or rice/oat/almond milk)
canola oil for shallow frying

Peel potatoes. In a food processor, puree half of the potatoes and grate the other half (this should be about 4 cups). Place potatoes in a strainer over a bowl and drain for about 10 minutes. Let the liquid sit and the starch settle to the bottom. Pour off the liquid, saving the starch. Mix potatoes into the bowl with the starch. Add the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, onion, carrot, scallions, and soy milk. Heat about 1/2 inch of canola oil in a shallow frying pan. Press a heaping tablespoon of potato mixture in your hands to form a pancake and drop into the hot oil. Fry latkes for about 3-4 minutes on each side until brown. Keep warm in the oven. Eat with applesauce (you bet your ass I used up some of that applesauce I was swimming in way back when).

Cranberry-Orange Tart (from Myra Kornfeld's "The Voluptuous Vegan")
Crust: 1 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
pinch of salt
Filling: 1 cup walnut halves
3 cups cranberries (fresh or frozen)
1/4 cup apple juice or cider
3/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbl orange zest
1 tbl agar flakes
1 tbl arrowroot powder
1/3 cup orange juice
1/4 almond butter

Make the crust: Preheat oven to 350 and oil a 9-inch tart pan. Spread the flour on a baking sheet and toast for about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer to a bowl. Add the baking powder and mix. In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, maple syrup and salt. Add wet ingredients to the dry. The dough should hold together easily when squeezed in your hands. If it seems too dry, ad a little bit of apple juice or water. Press the dough into the tart pan and bake for 15 minutes or until it's brown. Remove the crust and let it cool, but do not turn off the oven.

Make the filling: Spread the walnuts on a baking sheet and toast for about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and place the walnuts in a strainer and rub agains the sides of the strainer to loosen the skins. Chop walnuts into small pieces and set aside. In a small saucepan, combine cranberries, apple juice/cider, maple syrup, cinnamon, orange zest, and agar flakes. Cook uncovered until the agar flakes have dissolved, the cranberries start to pop and the liquid reaches a boil (about 8-10 minutes). In a small bowl, combine the arrowroot and oj and mix to create a slurry. When the cranberries start to bubble, add the slurry and stir constantly until the mixture changes from cloudy to clear and the cranberries begin to bubble again. Remove from heat. Spread a thin layer of almond butter over the bottom of the crust, sprinkle a layer of chopped onions evenly on top of the almond butter, and pour in the cranberry mixture. Refrigerate for about 45 minutes to set the filling. Serve cold or at room temperature.

10 December 2007


Yeah, it was a looong weekend. But oh so good at the same time. The weekend began on Friday evening with a truly lovely Hanukkah dinner with some friends (my group of Jewish friends here is quite small, and as much as I love educating others about my culture and traditions, sometimes it's just really nice to be around others that already get it and don't require an explanation). Saturday followed with another Hanukkah dinner- vegan potato latkes, white bean salad, and delicious cranberry-orange tart (recipe and photos to come later this week).

I also spent the day on Saturday preparing for the Handmaidens Craftsmas Spectacular show.
This was, seriously, one of the most fun craft shows I've ever participated in. Full props go out to Sarah, Angela, and Becca Jo of i like you for pulling this together-it really was a blast! I sold a lot of stuff and also saw lots of people that I know, and that, to me, was one of the most fun parts of the day. See, I've only lived in Minnesota for just over a year- and seeing so many people that I recognized or knew somehow made me think about where I was this time last year (i.e. not knowing anyone really) and how well I've done at establishing myself and getting involved in the (awesome) crafty community here. I ran into the woman who was the first person that I knew of who bought something of mine in a store- I met her this time last year at my second craft show ever. And I also met a woman whose friend had bought one of my picture frames in a store because there was a part of map in the frame that showed Ethiopia and the woman was about to travel there to pick up her adopted child. The frame now holds a photo of her new child.

Anyways- it was really a great day, and I'm so excited for the next show that these ladies put on. (They are planning to have shows four times per year). I also met some amazing artists. I didn't take any photos of the show itself or my table (I'm not doing so well on the take more photos front), but here's what I picked up at the show-have I mentioned how much I love trading? (I see now that I was in a very green mood- go figure!)

My very own "duckie ugling" by Becca Jo (I'm thinking of naming him Gus, but I'm not sure- any suggestions?)

Vintage buttons on bobby pins from Deux Amis Designs

Jade earrings from Deena of Arctous

In preparation for this weekend's show, I will not be updating the shop until Monday, December 17th. At that time, I will post whatever I have left from Saturday's show, and I will do my best to get any products to where they're going by Christmas if that's necessary. Thanks!

07 December 2007

Show Preview {or I'm too tired to think of a creative title}

I've mentioned a few times the upcoming craft shows I've been working on, so here's the info...I'll be at the Handmaidens Craftsmas Spectacular this Sunday from 10am-6pm at the Uptown VFW at 2916 Lyndale Avenue South in Minneapolis. This looks like it'll be an awesome event, organized by the lovely ladies of i like you, and I'm super psyched for it (see the link in the sidebar for more info). **And as an added bonus there will be $2 bloody marys and screwdrivers until 1pm!

I'll also be at the Women's Art Festival next Saturday, December 15 from 10am-5pm. This show will be held at the Midtown YWCA at 2216 East Lake Street in Minneapolis. I'm really excited for this show as well- it's the 15th year for them and I'm honored to be one of the over 70 artists who will be participating.

As I mentioned- I've been sewing up a storm in preparation for these two events. Here's a little (and I mean little) preview of some of my new products. Even though I'm feeling a little burnt out right now and am definitely looking forward to shifting my focus towards making some gifts, I am really happy with how everything came out, especially these bags. Depending on how well this weekend goes, I may have a shop update next week.

04 December 2007

Happy Hanukkah

Not too much else to say here. Things have been crazy busy. I had a three-day weekend chock full of sewing trying to prepare for two craft shows that I'll be in- one this weekend, and one next weekend. I'll post more info on that later this week for those who are local and want to come by. Today was the second snowstorm in three days and, although exciting, it seems to make life feel harder at first. In any case, I'm a bit worn out at the moment, but I did want to share this with you all.

This menorah is the one I made back in my daycare days at Morah Esther's. It's just a simple block of wood with some nuts glued on. And painted, although by now most of the paint has been scraped off along with over twenty years worth of wax. I received a "fancy" silver one for my Bat Mitzvah, but always loved this one more (I also always loved the stuffed felt one with velcro on "candles" that had my brother's and my name appliqu├ęd onto it-must get that from my parents). I guess I've always been a freak for the handmade. I hope you're all enjoying the first night of the festival of lights (whether you're celebrating or not).