Important (Happy) Announcement for the Ribbons Blog

Abby in ShadesToday 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.

Abby, Raisin Fairy 4What 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.

Happy Birthday, Abigail! I love you

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Our Etsy Shops

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!):

Annavania

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!

TheRaisinFairy

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.

SallySewing

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.

-Abigail

Observations on Organization (From a Very Unorderly Individual)

15. What’s a day in your life like?

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

Abigail in her Victorian dress - with a lizard on her shoulder, it really liked her!
Abigail in her Victorian dress – with a lizard on her shoulder, it really liked her!

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 like how it's coming along, and I'm really excited to get it finished.
I like how it’s coming along, and I’m really excited to get it finished.

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?

Maxi Skirt: A New Project

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!

The Fabric

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!

Trim

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.

WIN_20150924_13_45_38_Pro
The wildflowers will not be included in the finished garment. But they are terribly inspiring!
WIN_20150924_13_45_50_Pro
A few of my different options. I want to include some openwork under the lace, for a touch of peek-a-boo. And I’m not certain what color ribbon to choose. Or perhaps several different colors? So many choices! Part of the fun will be playing with the limitations of material – if I don’t have enough of the lace that I choose, perhaps I can use it minimally elsewhere.

The Pattern

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!):

MaxiSkirt, Draft1
A simple 3-tier. I want the top tier fairly wide, perhaps ending at the knee
Again, wide tier at the top; but this time with 4 tiers
Again, wide tier at the top; but this time with 4 tiers
A slightly different look: This time I've added a ribbon tying up the bottom tier to reveal - I don't know. Perhaps I can find lace to make an undershirt. This is a look that I've seen with several Boho skirts, and it might be fun to experiment with it.
A slightly different look: This time I’ve added a ribbon tying up the bottom tier to reveal – I don’t know. Perhaps I can find lace to make an underskirt. This is a look that I’ve seen with several Boho skirts, and it might be fun to experiment with it.

First Impressions

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!

-Abigail

Bucket List

A Bucket – rather small, which I have absolutely no desire to kick (it might get dented)

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.

A Bucket who could probably use kicking

#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

-1- Travel

I’m a cozy sort of person who likes my safe spots, but I’m trying to push myself out of my

One of the interesting places I have seen: The Gorge bridge, near Taos.
One of the interesting places I have seen: The Gorge bridge, near Taos.

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

A couple of volumes from my finished book
A couple of volumes from my finished book

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?

 

The Season of ….. Whatever Comes Along

Fall There and ThereHannah 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!

A Group of GeeseHave 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.

Abby, Raisin Fairy 3So, 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

 

An Ice Cream Recipe We Love

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!

Purple Opal Basil
Our home grown basil, of the purple opal variety.

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.Four Free Range Eggs

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.

Egg Yolk and Hot Milk Mixture
The eggs and milk and sugar in a metal bowl

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.

Heating the Custard
You can see here the delightful yellow color, courtesy of the egg yolks

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.

Cooling the Custard
Sitting in the ice bath. (It really looks small, doesn’t it? But I think it’s an optical elusion!)
Minced Basil
Minced basil on my favorite cutting board, and my favorite knife, both Pampered Chef!

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! Ice Cream Maker, doing it's thing

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!

A Scoop of Basil Ice Cream
Basil Ice Cream

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.

Basil-Scented Vanilla Ice Cream

Serves 4

  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk (or 2 cups milk)
  • 3 vanilla beans, split (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
  • 4 medium egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar (or a little less)
  • 1/2 cup chilled crème fraiche (or 3/4 cup cream)
  • 1 tbsp. thinly shredded or chopped fresh basil

Well, I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do. I hope to be doing a lot more of these cooking posts in the future, so you can see more of the fun things that we work on in our kitchen.