Sunday, November 30, 2008

another happy craft fair

I seem to have trouble getting a fully-functioning camera to craft fairs with me. Last time it was the batteries; this time I forgot the memory card. So I have a very few kind-of-crummy pictures from the weekend. But I had a great time and sold lots of soap. I also met lots of people and heard lots of great feedback about my products.

And I'm pooped. I also wanted to quickly mention that my Etsy shop is closed until January - I'm taking a bit of a soaping holiday from the 'internets'. If you're local and are desperate for something, I can probably make it for you, just send me an e-mail. If you placed an order this weekend, I'm hoping to get them all made this week, and they'll be ready in a few more weeks - I'll let you know. Thanks to everyone who came out!

Friday, November 28, 2008

wish me luck!

There! Things are ready for this weekend's craft fair, and the house is a disaster! I'll post pictures at the end of the weekend (of the soap goodies, not so much of the disastrous house). Hope you have a lovely one!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

quince-tastic


Adam took these pics of Phillip a few weeks ago in our yard. P was so very, very excited to carry that quince around. Unfortunately, it was the only one on our tree that turned yellow, so no jelly.

Ooh, have I got something great coming in the mail to tell you about! I ordered volume one of my very own blog book! I realized awhile ago that this is the only place where I have a coherent record of our life since 2005. So after a bit of looking, I found Blog2Print, where you can have your blog converted into a print book. It was exactly what I wanted - minimal effort, excellent-looking result. Each book has a maximum number of photos it can handle, so I could only do a book covering a few months. I chose January to June of 2007 - months of great anticipation for P's arrival. I'll have the rest of the blog converted into books gradually, since they're kind of pricey. For that particular book, it's about $50. I think it's definitely worth it.

One other tidbit for you - I found a terrific blog last night with gorgeous photos, ample amounts of craftiness, tutorials, food and other lovelies. It's A Foothill Home Companion, by Molly, and you should definitely check it out.

And Happy Thanksgiving to you Americans out there! I know more about turkeys than I will ever need to know, thanks to Martha's Sirius channel this week. (Take your turkey out when it's 160 degrees, and let it rest for at least 30 minutes, during which time the temp will rise to 165. Don't overcook it- that's the number one trouble with turkey. There are dry and wet brining techniques, and I can tell you all about them. Cornbread stuffing? Check. Gravy? Check. Pumpkin pie? Check, check, check. Actually, I learned a technique for keeping pie crust crispy this afternoon. Blind bake your crust until it's almost done. Brush with an egg wash, bake for another 5 minutes or until that's cooked on, and then add your filling. It creates a barrier that will keep your filling from making your crust soggy. Brilliant!) Enjoy your time together!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

packing, packing, packing

In between packing up custom orders (one of which is pictured above) and wrapping soaps for this weekend's craft fair, (oh yes, and working, too), I've been enjoying P's company. Adam was at the Grey Cup in Montreal this weekend with his Dad and brother, and I'm happy to have him at home. (And not only to help get things ready for the weekend!) Hope you're having a splendid evening.

Monday, November 24, 2008

"two-times" & "lellow boots"


Phillip adores two things most especially: "two-times" and his "lellow boots". And if he's wearing the 'lellow boots', he's running. "Bing" is what he says when he (inevitably) trips.

pinecone wreath



I picked up this pinecone wreath on clearance after last Christmas - I think it was $8. I love it on the front door. It's so natural and inviting and seasonal. Happy Monday!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

a fine find



You may remember my driftwood shelves, laden with jars of herbs and spices and other natural soap additives. I like to keep things visible, so I can see what I have, and how much. I have some things which don't have jar homes, and I can never remember exactly what is stored away, so I was happy to find some more wire-closure jars at Frenchy's last week for 75 cents each. They're cute stubby ones, too, which is just right for the small amounts of many things I have. Like cranberry seeds and strawberry seeds and crushed grape seeds, for example. Kind of like red berries, I have a thing for glass jars. And seeds, apparently.

I just have to mention that I'm having a fantastic weekend, in case you didn't get that impression from last night's post. P and I visited a bit today, did a couple of teensy errands, and cuddled and read lots. What more could I ask for?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

post #800: snowy crafty afternoon (and evening)

Welcome to our house on a snowy, snowy Saturday (although it doesn't look terribly snowy in the picture taken this morning, it got much worse later in the day.) My only complaint about the snow is that it wasn't on a weekday, resulting in a snow day for me.
Did you notice the sweet wreath on the cellar doors? I think it fits perfectly, and the snow was so lovely on it. It was an ideal day to be domestic and hunker down inside, so Ingrid and Annie came over.
Ingrid wore this snazzy washed-but-wrinkly apron (which I found at Frenchy's) over her clothes for the day,
and I was snug as a bug in this soft-yet-acrylic sweater I found at Frenchy's last week. (Note which shouldn't need to be written: the jeans, belt, and t-shirt are also from Frenchy's.)
We looked out at the weather as we chatted and had tea,
read, of course,
while there was also knitting and the baking of scones. I did manage to clean out my recipe binders while Phillip was sleeping, which was very satisfying.
Ingrid brought apple pie,

and I made this garlic dip. I used roasted garlic, because I thought the flavour would be milder. It was, but it was too mild. Next time I'll definitely use fresh. I used the leftover dip mixed with frozen chopped spinach on butter puff pastry to make little appetizers, but due to poor timing, they were post-meal appetizers, if such a thing is possible. The meal was delicious butter chicken and rice, courtesy of Annie. Y-U-M. After clean up, bathing P and putting him to bed, we made some Peppermint Poppyseed soap! Could you possibly fit more fun into one day? A day with organizing recipe binders and making cute appetizers? I think not. Hope you're having a lovely weekend, too.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

all dolled up

How do you like the changes over here at my little blog? I had some fun changing things up and making it a little bit warmer and cozier. Hope you like it!

Pictured above are some shampoo bars; part of a custom Christmas order. They're Eucalyptus Lime, and I think they're quite lovely. I've been getting together lots of custom Christmas orders lately; if there's something you'd like to speak for before the craft fair on the 29th and 30th, let me know and I can set things aside for you. The shop was getting very bare, so I beefed it up with a few new listings for the last week and a half of November, before I go on a soaping hiatus for December. If you're local, don't forget that you can always buy soap directly from me and skip the shipping.

We have company this week, so things are a little busier than the usual routine, but good fun. Happy Wednesday!

Monday, November 17, 2008

798


Don't enjoy about November: it gets dark so very early.
Do enjoy about November: on a long drive home, watching the sky change from day to night.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

scones

I've tried making scones once before. They tasted like cardboard. These ones, on the other hand...
are amazing. I didn't have as many dried cranberries as were called for on hand, so I threw in some raisins with the ones I did have. And I didn't use any of my usual hippy-dippy whole wheat flour, so they're light and fluffy and perfect. Yum.
And I had a helper in the kitchen. P stood on a stepstool at the kitchen sink for one hour this morning, as I washed dishes, made scones, and cleaned up. He had a pot and some utensils, a bit of sudsy water, and was a very happy camper. What a great boy!

The Mother-in-Law Scones

3 c. flour
½ c. sugar
2 ½ t. baking powder
½ t. baking soda
¾ t. salt
¾ c. cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 c. buttermilk
1 c. berries, raisins, nuts, etc.

Mix dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Cut in the cold butter until the butter is the size of small peas (or, rub butter in with fingertips, but work quickly so as to not warm up the butter). Add the berries (or whatever you are using) and mix well. Add buttermilk and mix just until blended. Work dough into ball and knead 10-25 times (this is what the recipe says, what can I say?). Pat dough into two circles about 2 ½ inches thick. (The dough will be sticky and a bit hard to deal with. Don’t worry. Keep going.) Cut each circle of dough into 6 or 8 pie-shaped pieces. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Brush with buttermilk and sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 425 degrees for 12-15 minutes, or until lightly browned. Serve warm. (These can also be frozen and heated in the oven until they are crusty on the outside.)

The recipe is from over here, at Jora's lovely blog.

Friday, November 14, 2008

a knack for winning, and a million links

I seem to have a knack for winning things. As you may recall, I got an early Christmas gift of a Sirius satellite radio. Which has a Martha channel. I am a confessed Martha-holic, and listen to it often as I'm driving for work. (I must admit that I do laugh often at the ridiculous things some of the hosts say - I think their sense of the grand scheme of things is rather skewed, and there's lots of time-filling repetition, unlike CBC. But I did learn how to brine a turkey today, so all is not lost.) A few weeks ago, swept up in the newness of the radio, I called in to tell the hosts of the morning show how Martha I had been the previous weekend, selling my handmade from scratch soaps at the craft fair you've already heard lots about. The prize for the 'most Martha' listener was a copy of her new cookbook, "Martha Stewart's Cooking School". I think it may even be signed. I was on my way to see a student and missed the end of the show, and having heard nothing for a few weeks, assumed that another listener had won. Here's the best part, and I'm not making this up: this afternoon, on my hour long drive to see a student, I was thinking of the list of things I want to do this weekend and how on Monday morning it would make a great contending list for being the most Martha. Then my cell phone rang, and it was a producer, calling to let me know that I'd won! I may have scared her with my enthusiasm. I can't wait to receive the book!

Here are the other nifty material things of the week:
1) We sometimes use disposables on P. Adam opened a package a month or so ago, and there were very sharp melted plastic bits on some of the diapers, rendering them dangerous and useless. I promptly packed them up with a letter to Huggies and received coupons for $66 worth of diapers. Nice.
2) My replacement Kitchen Aid mixer arrived.
3)
I have been looking for decent toilet locks for months. I found these ones at Canadian Tire the other day, and so far, so good! They were about $9 each, which is a little steep, but much better than replacing a flushed phone or ring. They're held on by suction cups, and the lever which keeps the seat down pushes to the side when the toilet is in use, and clicks back into place afterward. They're made by Safety 1st, and if you have a curious babe, I think they're a good investment. Much better than some others we tried. A bit tricky for guests to figure out, though.

Okay. I'm stepping away from the computer to sit still and read a magazine. Christmas crafting coming up tomorrow, yay! Happy weekend!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

a peek into my pantry and Christmas ramblings


My current pantry may not look like this one, but I do love it. I love whipping something up, tucked away in there, away from the rest of the kitchen. It's also where my Kitchen Aid resides once more - my replacement mixer arrived earlier this week. It sounds entirely different from the first one I had, which is probably a good thing. As is the case through the rest of the house, in my pantry glass jars abound. See that barley on the right? It's been there for way too long. Do any of you have recipe suggestions for barley which don't involve mushrooms? Adam can't eat them, and it seems as though barley is usually paired with those fun fungi. Let me know - I'd love to see your recipes.

And this little Martha-fied stack has been getting me in a festive kind of mood. I'm very excited that on Saturday, Annie and Ingrid are coming over for some Christmas crafting. I haven't decided what I'll be working on, but it won't be soap! I can't wait. I know that the whole Christmas thing isn't for everyone, but I am one of those people who love it. The planning, gifts, and food, of course. But especially the music. I'm very sheepish about my all-time favourite Christmas album, since it seems to be so out of character for me but I'll tell you - it's Mariah Carey's Christmas album. I know. In high school, a great friend (Hi, AC!) and I made incredible gingerbread creations each year for the annual school-wide contest, and I remember listening to it with her in her kitchen while we made a model of our school from scratch. I've loved it ever since. Listen carefully, and you just might hear me singing away in the car. Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

a life in lists

My favourite pen, my favourite kind of notepad for carrying around. Always in my bag. Often illegible.

I seem to be having a lovely but very busy week. I have lots of pictures to share, but they may have to wait until the weekend. Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

best brownies


I tried this recipe last night. It is perfect, and I didn't change a thing. Adam took the diptych pictures because he loved them so much, too. Here's the reasons why I love them:
a) they take about 5 minutes to put together
b) they make a small pan, which is good if you're tempted to eat as many as possible
c) they take regular pantry ingredients, nothing out of the ordinary
d) they really are perfect brownies with amazing texture

So. Get out your 8x8 pan and whip these up for a mid week treat!

Monday, November 10, 2008

pom-wonderful

This is one of my favourite pictures of mine, originally posted last year.

Buying seasonal and local food is obviously the best way to eat, and we do quite well through the summer and into the fall with the farmer's market. Uncharacteristically, I didn't even check to see what country today's pomegranate came from before buying it. And it was absolutely perfect and delicious.

I've found that I haven't been thinking as much as I did before about ways I can continue to change my habits to be a sweeter steward of the earth. Not knowing where the pomegranate came from brought that to my attention today. It could be for a variety of reasons:
a) 'Green' is a big thing in the media, and I tend to avoid trends, even though this is a good one
b) I've made so many changes to my lifestyle and habits over the past several years that I don't know what else to do on a day-to-day basis.

What green changes have you made that I haven't? Do you have a challenge up your sleeve? I'll take you on! Just to sum up, here are some things I'm already doing: cloth diapers, natural and homemade cleaning products, Diva Cup, reusable bags, minimum shopping for new things (we buy mostly used), not buying stuff for stuff's sake - it has to have a place and purpose, minimal driving in our one very compact car, wood stove for most heat, whole foods and cooking from scratch, drying clothes on the line, composting and recycling, and probably lots of others I haven't listed. I need some inspiration, and maybe you can help! What else can I do?

Sunday, November 09, 2008

november morning




The calendar says that it's November, but the weather disagrees. When we went for a walk this morning, I was plenty warm in a long sleeved t-shirt. I think it was around 15 degrees. And it has been wet, which those sweet little mushrooms must love. I got a bit of yard work done while Phillip was 'resting' (translation: he should be sleeping, but he's talking to himself and reading in his crib), and it felt really good to be outside accomplishing something. When he was sleeping this afternoon, I got some soap made - a new layered Chocolate Mint Square (!) and a plain peppermint batch, which was a customer's special request. Fun - I can't wait to cut them tomorrow.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

egyptian licorice tea

My new favourite thing in the world is a cup of Yogi Tea's Egyptian Licorice tea. A few times a day. It's organic and caffeine free, and I can't even describe the flavour - it's amazing and delicious and tastes nothing like a stick of licorice candy. It tastes kind of like the Aveda Spa tea, only better. And not at all like regular tea. I leave the bag in for maximum flavour. And I'm going to enjoy a cup right now. Happy weekend!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

gingerbread house


Is this not the cutest little house? I stopped in the rain to take a picture on my way back from seeing a student this morning.

Birch Bark Handmade Soap now has a Facebook group! Check it out and join the fun.

I have batches of soap to cut, dishes to wash, laundry to do, and a few magazines to read. So I think that's all for now. Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

a fabulous frenchy's find

Is there a prettier thing in all the world? Twenty-six fitted cloth diapers hanging on the line. For which I paid approximately $9 total - they were thirty-five cents each. Thirty-five cents. They're the snapping type, and there are a variety of sizes, although none have tags. There are even some newborn ones, which might come in handy for any future babes (nope, none impending yet!)

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

cranberry upside down cake and fish sandwiches

Have you noticed the lack of quality pictures here lately? It's been getting darker progressively earlier for weeks, and our time change was on the weekend. And it's just getting bright when I'm on my way out the door in the morning. So picture-taking light is hard to come by during the week. I think I'm going to try taking my camera with me more as I travel around for work, so I'll get some more photography in, and get to know my new camera.
This is the Cranberry Upside-Down Cake from Great Food Fast, which I made on the weekend. It was delicious, but the berries didn't pop and become soft and beautiful and melty like the picture accompanying the recipe. Only around the edges. The berries in the middle were just kind of whole and surrounded by unmelted, wet granulated sugar. But the cake was well done when I took it out of the oven, and I didn't want to overbake it... any suggestions? Ingrid suggested cutting the berries next time so more juices are released. Or maybe a lower temperature for longer? Would that dry out the cake?
Also from Everyday Food, Adam made these Fish Po' Boy sandwiches on the weekend. Amazing. The kitchen smelled pretty terribe for the rest of the day, but they were worth it. And the tartar sauce would be delicious with any white fish.

Monday, November 03, 2008

more P and a new KitchenAid!

P helped me vacuum on the weekend. It was the first time he touched the vacuum while it was on; it's louder than a jet.
Sometimes he lies down, just for fun. Like tonight, after supper.
Odds and ends:

KitchenAid update: They're sending me a new one! They called tonight to let me know. While Phillip was screaming about having to get in the bathtub. More accurately, it was screaming about having to get undressed, which involved taking a toy out of his hand for 0.07 seconds so his arm would go through the sleeve of his shirt. It was a bit difficult to execute the conversation. But I can expect my shiny new mixer to arrive in 7-10 business days, yipeeee!

Americans: get out there and vote tomorrow! I'm very interested to see how it all goes.

I am making all kinds of wonderful things for an upcoming Christmas craft fair at the Fire Hall on Pleasant Street here in Yarmouth November 29&30. Mark it down - I'm going to have a few fantastic new things (like Moonlight Pomegranate soap and a Dead Sea Mineral Mud) which I haven't offered before.

Oh, and I bought a new camera on the weekend! My old little one has been temperamental lately, and I wanted another one with a few more features, including video, for clips of P. I bought a snazzy little Kodak, and I love it so far. There are a lot more features than on my old one, so I'll have to play with some of the manual settings and figure out all of the details. In all of my free time. Of which I seem to have very little as of late. Speaking of which, I need to clean up the kitchen. It's a bit of a disaster right now, to say the very least. Here I go, rambling away. Time to scoot.

Good night, and sweet dreams!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

helping and other odds and ends

I found this sweet embroidered dish towel at Frenchy's yesterday.
Along with this fabulous mug. It's especially great that it's shaped like a pitcher on three sides. Perfect to pour tea directly down the throat. Objects in photo are larger than they appear.
video
Phillip helped me sweep the kitchen a few weeks ago. I nearly cried, it was so sweet. Especially when he was sweeping around the piles of milk jugs and bowls he had strewn around the floor.