Today we went babysitting. It was a surprise babysitting job and threw all of us off, and I nearly forgot something very important!
Today is my co-author of this blog, fellow Etsy-er, friend and sister, a true blessing from God, Abigail’s birthday (that’s all in the title; just like a doctorate)
It’s important to me that our readers know about this, because you are a part of our lives, especially since Abigail is such a great contribution to this blog and important part of my life.
What I love about my sister, Abigail (besides the fact that she’s my sister) :
She goes for a walk everyday except Sunday or days when we have to leave early (like today). Even when she’s bored of walking, sick, it gets late (a real problem in NM) or it’s a special occasion, she’ll always go for a walk. This has helped me realize I should still do things, even when I don’t exactly feel like it for whatever the reason may be.
She’s helped me on practically every sewing project, patiently explaining, patiently redoing, patiently messing up my project and then sympathizing (the key is word is obviously ‘patiently’). Definitely something I appreciate (except maybe messing up my projects. I still love you)
Abigail’s not generally Abigail. She’s usually called Abby, which has been automatic for so long I don’t even think about it anymore. And I only recently found out she prefers Abigail. You know you have a sweet sister when she puts up with a nickname she doesn’t really want for that long (sorry, Abigail, it will still take a while for me to remember to say Abigail!)
A little more you may want to know about my Ribbons co-author: She writes some wonderful fairytales, which I am thoroughly enjoying! She makes some wonderful cards – have you seen her steampunk Father’s Day Card?! – and her ornaments are just amazing. You have to see them in person to believe how cute they are. But in the meantime you can look at them on her Etsy shop, at this link.
If you want to see a bit of a different side, follow one of her most popular Pinterest boards, Visions of the World, and check out some of her posts here on our blog. She’s a wonderful person, and it’s easy to tell!
I know this post will probably embarrass you, Abigail, but that’s a part of birthdays.
Amid all the craziness of being new bloggers, putting new stuff out there, and hoping people will find it, it suddenly seems as though we have (sorta) lost sight of what this blog is really about: Our Etsy shops – what’s there, and what to look forward to.
Of course, we haven’t really forgotten about it. Etsy and our shops and where we’re going with our creative careers is never far from our minds, hearts and imaginations! But we do need to start highlighting our shops a little more. (This is a little embarrassing, since I’ve been neglecting my shop far too much lately!) We’ve been talking about making a couple of changes to our blog so that it ties in with Etsy a bit more, but until then here’s an introduction to each of our shops (in alphabetical order!):
Hannah’s shop features beautiful crocheted hats. She designs her own original patterns (which she says is easier than following someone else’s) and works primarily in cotton thread. Each creation is unique, and wonderfully wearable! She also has a line of Victorian-style handcrafted cards (paper and downloadable versions) which she is expanding all the time with new original designs. Keep an eye out for Christmas cards, sets and individual!
My shop is about small things to charm and light your life, and add a little bit of comfort and magic to even the most mundane days. At the moment, you will see several cards (downloadable and hard copies), and adorable little woodland ornaments. But my shelves are going to fill up soon with crocheted fingerless gloves, colorful and bright sachets, more cards, and some fanciful earrings that I am in the fun process of designing.
Sarah’s shop is all about bags. Her designs are clever, creative, and lovely. From handbags to totes, each creation is unique – I don’t think she’s used the same design twice yet. She uses fabrics from our Stash, which encourages outside-the-box thinking, with occasional additions specially purchased to make the bag come to life. She’s planning some Christmas bags, which will probably show up soon. But her bags are all-the-time useable. Gorgeous and chic!
So come and check our shops out! We are always reinventing, renovating, and experimenting with new ideas – and it would be wonderful to have you along for the journey.
Well, I started writing another post about this, but it was sort of getting out of hand. How is it that a simple little list can get so long, and so weird?
I wrote, in the other post, about how recently I’ve had to deal out a special task for each day so I could focus my efforts on one thing at a time. It’s helped me a lot, though I’ve not kept to it as strictly as perhaps I could have. I wrote it out on my calendar so that it’s a week of things to do, varying a little to suit the different needs of that week.
I’ll write it out briefly here, and then pick one day that I actually followed.
Sunday – Rest day (no Etsy related activities)
Monday – Art Day
Tuesday – Blog Day
Wednesday – Flux Day, but most likely another Blog Day again, or maybe different Social Media
Thursday – Art Day again
Friday – All the Way Crochet Day (or knitting, of course, just doesn’t sound as funny!)
Saturday – Extra Housework
So anyway, I’ll pick one day this week when I did what I was supposed to do. My Art Day. I walk with Sarah every day but recently we’ve started walking my neighbors dog, so that takes up the morning, plus a few other things.
But after the morning stuff, and checking a few things online (wow, online stuff can be so distracting sometimes!), I went to my picture gallery. You know, I have
way too many pictures to choose from, but I was really wanting to do a portrait again – they are my favorite thing to paint!
And another thing that I wanted to do was a painting on the Surface with the pretty cool program Fresh Paint. It has all these cool settings like different kinds of paper or canvas to work on, and either watercolor, pencil, pen, pastel or – my favorite – oil paint! That’s the one I worked with for my painting on Monday. It’s not done yet, but I’ll show you the little part that I did get father along than the rough sketch that the rest of the painting is in.
I have a bad habit of getting to my painting too late in the day and getting too caught up in it to want to stop and help get the family meal together, which is always a big operation at our house. This time I was able to pull myself away a little earlier than sometimes, so that’s a step in the right direction.
One thing I’ve realized from keeping (somewhat) to a schedule is that some things just won’t get altogether completed on the day that they’re “supposed” to get done by. And that’s ok.
The other thing is that by actually getting to painting (or crocheting or blogging) for a certain amount of time on that day, I can actually get not only that task done, but I can have a little more time to get another one of my tasks done, or at least started.
I have a lot to learn in the way of organization, I know, but these are just a few things I’ve started understanding better as I try to get my life a little more orderly. If you have any thoughts I’d love to hear from our readers – do you know of any tips on getting a little more orderly?
I think it’s about time that we let our readers have a behind-the-scenes look at our creative process – inspiration, ideas, brainstorming, working and re-working, all the way until we finally have a finished product. We are, in fact, formulating something that will form a regular part of our blog and allow us to showcase works in progress. But until we get some cork board and a home for it, I’ve found the perfect project to get started on!
The Maxi Skirt
This is a personal sewing project. I sew almost all of my own clothes – it’s a bit of an obsession – so this isn’t unusual. If it turns out really well, I might start putting maxi skirts on my Etsy shop; but for now I’m just experimenting.
I like the maxi trend. It shows less skin than is often popular, and yet is very attractive. It’s elongating, which is important to someone who is short (like me). Also, I like the Boho look, and that’s where I’m going with this.
I’ll do regular updates, showing my steps and progress, my options and choices, and finally the end result – however it looks!
I found the fabric I’m going to use in our Stash. In fact, there was a view of it in my post on the subject of Stashes and Inspiration. It’s calico and a little too cute for my usual taste, but as a skirt it should be a lot of fun!
Our Stash also includes an abundance of ribbon and lace – very useful, but often forgotten. This project should give me the opportunity to play a little.
I’m not sure if Stash is the right word for patterns, but we certainly have a library! There are a lot of different patterns that I can choose from in our library. But the style that I want – multi-tiered A-line – would be simple to create from scratch. Here are 3 alternatives that I just sketched (I was playing with Fresh Paint on the Surface, and might’ve gotten carried away!):
This might be more Prairie than I want, so I’ll have to be careful. There are many more skirt options that I can also consider.
So what do you think? I will be finding a pattern and cutting soon, and update then with more pictures!
One questions comes to mind, as I tackle #14 on our list of 25 post ideas for new bloggers: Where in the world did the phrase “kick the bucket” come from? Did somebody in his death throes kick a bucket over? There have been all sorts of euphemisms for death, of course. Like “I’m going south!” And I suppose having a South List doesn’t have the same kick as having a Bucket List.
#14 Share your bucket list.
I’m ambitious, so my Bucket List is very long. Probably – I haven’t actually given it much thought. To keep things brief (hopefully), let’s set the limit at 5 before-I-die goals.
5 Things I want to do before I (ahem) move on to a Better Place
I’m a cozy sort of person who likes my safe spots, but I’m trying to push myself out of my
comfort zone. And not just the touristy thing (take a cruise catch a flight see the towers Eiffel and Pisa Caribbean Europe Asia…!). It would be much more fun to wander around Japan, linger in the British Isles for a few months, see Israel (with and without a tour; you get access to different things)… I’d like to explore other cultures, and not just their cuisines!
-2- Finish college, with an interesting degree
I love to learn, but life (and budgetary considerations) keep on getting in the way of my academic aspirations. It doesn’t help that the fields of study I’m really interested in don’t generally lead to well-paid careers. But I’m already launching a career, so that doesn’t matter
as much; I’d like the education for its own sake.
-3- Publish at least two or three books
I have so many stories that I want to tell, and sometimes such a difficult time telling them. But someday (soon I hope), I’ll get a book out there which will hopefully make a difference for the better.
-4- Get married
This one might seem odd. Most people drift into relationships and marriage easily (perhaps to regret it later); but it’s not easy for me. It’s something that I will have to strive for. But I think that gives me an appreciation for all that marriage involves and entails. Someday (soon) I’d like to marry a good, godly man – and that’s a goal, not just something that will probably happen.
-5- Go somewhere in the TARDIS
“All of space and time…! Just something to add to your bucket list.”
All of these seem odd to me as a Bucket List. They’re more like “Goals to Begin a New Phase of Life” rather than little things to accomplish before death. But perhaps in 18 months I will have accomplished them all and be ready to make some new goals, like “Perfect crème brulee” or “BASE jump from Sandia Crest.”
So, what would you want to do if you were told that you’d likely expire in 6 months or a year?
Hannah sometimes asks me if I dream. “Of course I dream”, I tell her. “Everybody dreams”. “But what do you dream about?”, she’ll ask. “The same thing everybody dreams about”, I tell her. “I dream about where I’m going.”
Yeah. I guess I dream about where I’m going- although, more often I’ll dream about a mash-up of The 100, real life and possibly the Muppets- but I do dream up plans about what I’m going to do, even within the next month (or week). And usually that’s all they are- dreams.
For instance, in the season in between now and Christmastime, I probably have so much planned that there would be 6 months before mid-November!
Have you ever had one of those days when you think over the time you have between now and a deadline, and you suddenly realize you’ve got a lot to do? What am I saying? Of course you’ve done that! I’ve done that plenty of times- in fact, just about at this time of year I’m coming up with huge plans, forgetting that I usually make a few things for my family for Christmas, I’ve got to get more Christmas stuff up on my Etsy shop and… I live in New Mexico. (To those who don’t live in the NM, that means one’s winter wardrobe is a bit dull and limited, because winter lasts about 2 months here)
So, having come to this time of year, when I need to make several things for the winter, either for myself, my shop or my family, I will go ahead and figure out a few things I have planned.
So, having thought over my various projects I want to do, I realized I am aiming to be unusual. I want to turn my wardrobe slightly upside-down (probably getting embarrassed in the process- don’t ask me why) with ‘artistic’, unusual dresses, complete a long-forgotten corduroy coat, make everyone rethink their idea of gift wrapping and surprise my family with unusual gifts.
Do I have a life outside of sewing? Yes. For one thing there’s the crochet poncho thing I want to make (for all our readers, I’m not the sister who can crochet with her eyes closed while watching Inception) And there’s also NaNoWriMo. Ah- NaNoWriMo.
Well, those are my plans for the next few months. And I haven’t even got it all planned out yet. My ideas are still in a jumble, as they usually remain until they’re completed. I have expectations, dreads and follies. And this is the stuff that dreams are made of.
Good luck to all our readers with this following season. May you get done what you hope, plan and dream.
P.S. just so you know, this is part of our 25 Blog ideas
So onto 12. Talk about a hobby or something you’re passionate about
Ethnic (doesn’t matter what ethnicity) cooking is my hobby. Actually, it’s definitely more of a passion. Sarah mentioned in an earlier post that we love the cooking from different countries, and one of them is French cooking.
A few years ago, I asked for a French cookbook as a present for my birthday, a cuisine we as a family had not really delved much into. I got this lovely, interesting, fun and useful cook book about Provençal cooking. Here is the link for it on Amazon.
It’s not fancy, but goes more in for rustic, hearty, Mediterranean-style cooking, which is totally my type of cookbook. I will someday get into the fancier styles of French cooking, but I love this cookbook so much that I’m fine waiting for that day for a while!
Anyway, I wanted to write a post on one of my favorite recipes in this cookbook – the Basil-Scented Vanilla Ice Cream. When I first saw it, I thought it would be really weird, but actually, having made it a few times now, it has to be one of my favorite homemade ice creams!
I’ll give you the ingredients at the bottom of the post, but I’ll show you how I went through the steps here.
How I Did the Recipe
It starts off with heating the milk with the vanilla beans, over a low heat, in a heavy saucepan. Bring this to a gentle boil, the bubbles just starting around the edges, just a little past scalding the milk. Then you simmer it for about five minutes. Turn off the heat and leave it covered for about 30 minutes. (This is steeping the vanilla in the milk, so it becomes really infused with the vanilla flavor.)
I’ll just say here, I didn’t do this step all the way, because we make our own vanilla with the seeds all happily dancing around at the bottom of the bottle, and vanilla is certainly not the cheapest of commodities, so I just went with a little of our homemade extract, and didn’t let the heated milk it sit for quite as long.
While it’s sitting around, getting all flavored, you separate the eggs, (and keep the egg whites for wonderful Chocolate Meringues later on!) and then you take those lovely yellow yolks and the sugar (I like to add less sugar than they call for, since I don’t always like my ice cream the sweetest) and then you whip them, and whip them, and whip them, until they become light and fluffy. Really, they do – it’s kind of awesome! Sort of a pale, lemon yellow. I love eggs – they really are magical!
Now you take your milk, and if you have the vanilla bean in it, you can strain that out, but leave the seeds in it. It makes it look really cool later on. Pour it over the egg mixture, really slowly, so you don’t cook the eggs all of a sudden. Doing it slowly is called tempering the eggs (I learn all of these cool terms from my mum who taught us good cooking techniques – thanks Mum!) and whisk the mixture up vigorously while you pour it in.
Then they put it back in the saucepan, but I actually use my double boiler system, where you use a heat resistant bowl (like metal), and put it over a big saucepan of greater size than the bowl. The pan has a little bit of boiling water at the bottom, not enough to touch the bowl once it’s sitting in the pan, but enough to steam the whole thing through. Of course, if you actually have a double boiler, then you don’t need all this set up – you’ve got it already figured out.
Now you heat it very slowly, over a pretty low heat so you don’t curdle the eggs. (The double boiler helps with this part, since it makes it really gentle heating.) And you stir it constantly, although I had to do something elsewhere for a moment and it did fine. Heat it till it’s really steaming, but make sure it doesn’t actually boil. That would be disastrous. I’ve done that before. Sort of like sweet, ice cold cottage cheese. Weird.
But now that it’s all getting properly heated up, you can test to see if it’s done by seeing if it coats the back of a spoon. It won’t coat unless it’s actually done, but once it’s coating, then you take it off the heat and put it in an ice bath. And really, I would suggest the ice bath, since even after you take it off of the heat it will keep on cooking unless you cool it off. But it went really quickly, actually, and it was cool enough in no time to go on to the next step.
Now you whip up your crème fraiche (it’s sort of like sour cream) or, in my case just use the same amount of cream, or a little more (I wanted to make the recipe stretch, so I added more, plus a little extra milk) and you pour this into the custard. And now you stir in the basil, all minced up into pretty small pieces.
And now you pour this lovely, yellowy, purple-speckled mixture into your ice cream maker. We have the Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker, which works wonders in our house!
At about 25-30 minutes, the mixture has turned into a frozen, sweet, smooth, ice cream that has a little herby, piquant bite from the basil. Really yummy, trust me! But you’ll have to make it to see for yourself. See, I’ll show you a picture of my scoop, just barely melting in the bowl, and absolutely wonderfully melting in the mouth!
Oh, and before you give yourself a scoop right out of the freezer bowl, it really does help to put it into another container and freeze it for a bit. Not too long, but just enough to make it really frozen. The Ice Cream Maker has done the hard bit of braking up the ice crystals as it’s freezing it, but it’s helpful to finish it off in the freezer.
I’m beginning to think that I don’t enjoy any other ice cream quite as much as I love our homemade stuff. The freshness, the clarity of flavor, and the lack of weird additives really makes a difference. And that goes for our frozen yogurt and the other frozen delights, too.
I’ll just write out the ingredients as it appears in the cookbook, with the variations that I did in parentheses.
I’ve taken some interesting photos this week, and I thought they were fairly relevant to our blog. In a way, this will be a test of one of my future blog posts for the 25 blog posts ideas; to create a daily feature of some item.
So, here goes. On Labor Day- I’m still trying to figure out how to treat that holiday, sense I have an Etsy shop– we went to a new hiking area in the Sandia (I forget the name) but it was a lot of fun. The first part was hot but enjoyable, and then we got to the pools and springs! I took some pictures all along the way, and the picture to the right was one that turned out pretty well, I think. It seems to be a good example of New Mexican beauty.
On Tuesday, I made a couple dishes from a new Jerusalem cookbook, including a variation on a sweet and sour fish, pictured on the left, which turned out pretty well. We also made a butternut tahini dish, which I did not photograph, but it was delicious.
By the way, the Jerusalem cookbook is a lot of fun, and I would recommend checking it out! We have yet to do the chocolate braid bread thing that looks absolutely wonderful.
A lot is happening in our garden, including squashes, basil, grapes, tomatoes, Lesser Goldfinches- planting next year’s sunflowers- lizards, pouncing black labs and grasshoppers- one of which I got to photograph (I forgot which day it was)
I took a lot of pictures of this grasshopper, as it inspected this sunflower and then slowly moved along down. Unfortunately it’s venture from one flower to the next was fuzzy, but I did get some good pictures of the ants.
Also in our garden; a pink zinnia! I am very pleased with our zinnia plant. Sometimes you want a plant that will produce something that looks exactly like it should, and this flower does! (actually, most of the time our produce looks right)
Somehow or another, I’ll have to remember that I want to plant zinnias in my pot next year, where alyssum is currently residing.
While I was outside, I took pictures of an idea I have for my Etsy shop, which I got from the handle of my current project. I’ve seen an interesting (still thinking about it) pattern for ties, so this might work out as an interesting tie/scarf, especially with the brooch.
So, dear readers (and sisters) now is your chance to decide if I should start putting these ties on my Etsy shop! I’d love to hear what you think!
They have a lot of possibility, as I can add flowers, frills, tucks, darts, buttons, lace and anything else you can think of! (zipper? hmm) It would even be good, in pink, for Breast Cancer awareness! Please give your thoughts.
And finally, a preview of my current Etsy project (besides the model tie pictured above)
I’m hoping to finish it by Wednesday, or so, and hopefully photographed and up on Etsy soon afterwards. Unfortunately I ran into some problems, which I feel should never, ever happen, but I can’t try being perfect. Much of the time, being a seamstress mostly involves the stress part of that word!
I have enjoyed the process so far, and it’s been a good challenge. I’m pretty pleased with how it’s turning out and looking forward to the finished results.
Today, I made some Lemon Honey Basil dressing, which I tried taking pictures of, but they didn’t turn out well.
And that’s been my week. I hope you enjoyed it
Please, tell me about some of the fun things you’ve done! Hopefully we’ll be going to our State Fair soon, and maybe we’ll have some photos to put up!
Today I have arrived at #11 on our ideas for new bloggers list: Share Something That’s Been Inspiring You Lately. Oh, why do I keep picking all the difficult ones?! Why couldn’t it be something easy, like “Tell Your Favorite Flavor of Ice Cream”?
Well, actually that isn’t so easy. I like a lot of different ice cream flavors, and it varies from month to month – chocolate or strawberry, mocha or basil, or just plain vanilla.
The same goes for all that inspires me. I find inspiration in so many different places, times, people. In fact, I’m inspired at the drop of a pin (the same way I get embarrassed or feel guilt – I’m hoping they’re not related). So I’ll try to narrow it down to three areas, particularly related to our efforts in crafting and creating: People, writing, and our Etsy shops.
So many awesome people to choose from – friends and bloggers and fellow crafters, and even my sisters! Here is someone we’ve mentioned before; our friend Lexi.
Lexi is an amazing person. Like us, she loves crafting, sewing, and historical clothing. We can talk crinolines, pleating, bucks, and the subtle variations in fashion from the early 1860s to the 1870s for hours, in-between trying on each other’s corsets and Spencers. She has overcome many different issues and blossomed into a beautiful and confident person, with a deep interest in Civil War history and exuberance that keeps her dancing! Her Etsy shop is called oldfashiondolls, where she once sold enough to take her on a Jane Austen trip to England. Lexi is our go-to person for all Etsy questions, and a huge inspiration in getting us to open our shops.
Inspiration is not my problem here; the problem is working until I’ve made the ideas that are inspired into full and coherent stories! But I’m not talking about work – just the inspiration. So, here’s the germ of a new idea:
I’m a science fiction lover, brought up on “Star Trek” and space opera. But I’ve never really been too interested in setting a story out there in the stars among worlds ancient or bran-new. But lately, the movies have been daring to create civilizations and landscapes of a kind that the early sci-fi masters only dreamed: “Man of Steel,” “Guardians of the Galaxy,” even “Serenity” and “Doctor Who” (with its recreated and redestroyed Gallifrey). All of these make me want to write of gallant starships, space knights of old orders, brave young cities on outpost planets, tribunals following the established good rules of ancient societies, a convent of nuns standing valiant on the edge of nebulas against lawless raiders…
So many ideas, so little time!
For Etsy crafts.
We have so many different things available to use, so many sources for inspiration! The internet has so much there’s no way you can even begin to look at it all (Pinterest, blogs…). There are books and things on TV, tiny details in movies and shows – all those different ideas of new things to make! But the one thing that has been really inspiring my lately? Our Stash!
I don’t know if we’ve mentioned our Stash. It’s way too big for our own good. We have the terrible habit of buying new fabrics, with every intention of making it into something beautiful, useful, and usually necessary – often with a specific pattern in mind. And then life comes along and pushes the fabric aside, and then we find some other fabric that we like and must have , and we bring that one home, too. So we end up with boxes and shelves full of forgotten treasures. It’s not just fabric, of course; there’s yarn and paper-crafting stuff.
We’ve been trying to go on a no-new-fabric diet (which would be easier if you could find exactly the fabric that you want in our Stash). So far this has resulted in two Stash dresses that I’ve made this summer – one green and the other a marsala-roses on gold floral – both beautiful successes! But I have found that when you just go out looking, sometimes you can find a fabric you never expected to use which inspires an idea for a project you might never have thought of otherwise.
There are many other areas of inspiration, of course: I haven’t even gotten to food! Recipes, cook books, etc… But that’ll have to be another post later.
A few weeks ago I put up a new listing on Etsy, and then I forgot to talk about it here. (definitely one of my goals; staying on top of the things I do!)
Leading up to our boutique- which was at the end of July- I wanted to make some bags, hot out of the oven so to speak. So I went searching through our stash and (for a time I thought I wouldn’t find anything!) I eventually discovered some gray corduroy, of an inconvenient amount to make anything, except some bags.
I liked the idea of making some bags out of corduroy. It’s different and I think it would be really fun to accent an outfit with. I’ve also discovered that I love sewing bags with corduroy! It was very cooperative, staying where I put it.
I love the way the bags turned out too. It’s not much like my original idea, but what else is creativity but changing the original thing? In any case, I am pleased with the way they turned out.
I managed to get 4 of these bags out of the fabric, as well as 2 smaller bags, which will soon be going up on Etsy. I called them Christopher Corduroy bags because I liked the idea. Of course, if you feel like calling these Christie Corduroy bags then you can!
As always, please check out my Etsy shop, SallySewing, to see what I have there. If you’re a bag-loving person, you might like what you see (or see what you like). And here is a link specifically to my new Christopher Corduroy bags, which I think will be great for this coming winter!
Thank you very much, and a very happy labor day to everyone!