Favorite Younger Sister – Sarah!

Well, today is a special day. Today is the day we celebrate our favorite younger sister, Sarah!

She’ll get annoyed at me posting pictures, but I can’t help it – I love her flower-like face, and her summery prettiness, so she’ll just have to skip over the pictures parts!

Sarah, having a Frappuccino
My lovely sister, drinking a Frappuccino almost as sweet as she is!

 

You have seen her photography, which is truly beautiful and amazingly talented. I’ll repost a few of her pictures, so you can see again some of her aptitude in this area. She is always dashing off a few more photos, constantly and quietly surprising us with her talented eye.

You also have seen her delightful bags – pictured below. And they are well worth looking into, since she puts a lot of thought and care into all of her projects.

Pic 4 for Ribbons
My Blue Pink Tote Bags, now on Etsy

But before she sewed bags (and placemats, and mug warmers, etc…) she sewed for herself lovely clothing! You might remember seeing detailing for this dress – she did hand embroidery as little sprigs of flowers all over the skirt. She is always sewing a new and awesome project! (Oh, and she sewed that adorable little bolero that she’s wearing in the first picture)CIMG3027.JPG

She also cooks and bakes! This year, Sarah made out favorite Blackstrap Molasses Cookies. And they tasted so good that they did not last very long!

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But she is so much more than her talents and abilities. She is one of the most dependable, patient people I know – she wouldn’t be able to put up with me if she wasn’t as patient as she is. She has a funny sense of humor, and a quality of light and laughter and bright beauty about her personality which is like summertime and spring beginnings – which are, not surprisingly, a couple of her favorite seasons. She is always there to be a ready listener for either Abigail or me. She is a dedicated worker, working at places where the rest of us are uninterested or too lazy.

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There are too many things to say about this wonderful, delightful, funny, sweet, quiet great young lady who I am proud and honored to call my sister. But for now, I will just say that the Lord has blessed me and my family greatly Sarah

Happy Birthday!

Hannah

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3 Christmas Traditions

Merry Christmas to all!

In honor of the day, I thought I’d share a few of our favorite traditions for celebrating the holiday:

Luminarias

So simple, so beautiful! You take paper bags and tea candles (cheap) and sand (ubiquitous), and put them together to make lights. Then, line Mary and Joseph’s path to the inn – and the path to Christmas Eve mass. This is a lovely New Mexican tradition!

Plum Pudding

Being Anglophiles, it was only a matter of time before we tried this Christmas treat mentioned in so many seasonal British stories. And it’s worth it! Full of spice and plums (raisins) and love, it is quintessential Christmas. (I use butter rather than suet, and it turns out fine!)

We don’t end Christmas on the 25th

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Seriously, try it! Some of the best fun is to be had after the stress and expectations of the day are over. Plus, if you’ve maybe forgotten a gift or two, there are the post-Christmas sales to hit. After all, traditionally, the season isn’t over until Epiphany (or 3 Kings Day), which is January 6th! I love Christmas so much that I would rather extend it than call it over after all the presents are opened!

I hope that you all have a blessed and wonderful holiday weekend!

-Abigail-

Saturday Random Recipes: Candy-Like Cookies

Introducing a new semi-regular weekly feature!

We’ve always wanted to include recipes and talk of food and ingredients in our blog. So on Saturdays as often as possible we are going to start putting out some of our favorite recipes.

This, alas, was our very last candy-like cookie. We forgot to take pictures of our most recent batch before there was only one left. It's like that with these treats!
This, alas, was our very last candy-like cookie. We forgot to take pictures of our most recent batch before there was only one left. It’s like that with these treats!

First, something that we try not to make too often because it tastes way too good:

Candy-Like Cookies

(Aka No-Bake Cookies)

  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup cocoa
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter
  • 3 cups oatmeal
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Mix the butter, cocoa, milk and sugar in a large sauce pan and cook over medium heat until the syrup starts to simmer. Cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute (unless, like us, you’re high altitude: at 5000 feet, cook 2 minutes).

Turn off (or remove from) heat and add the vanilla extract – which is amusing (you’ll see what I mean!). Stir in the peanut butter and oatmeal. At this point, the consistency should be thick and gloppy. But it smells delicious, so try not to taste because the high sugar content makes it hot enough to burn.

Deposit in teaspoonfuls on wax paper. Let cool completely. Depending on the humidity, these may take several hours to set up. During this time, again, try not to eat too many. They won’t burn your mouth, but it does kind of defeat the purpose if half are gone in the first 30 seconds.

Makes about 4 dozen.

Alterations and substitutions:

  • Soymilk works. But this last time, we used cashew milk and were very pleased with the results!
  • Replace peanut butter with almond or other nut butter.
  • Replace half the sugar with brown. We haven’t experimented much with other sweeteners.
  • Coconut oil does not work. Something about the interaction of sugar and butter works a bit of magic and makes the cookies set up.
  • Depending on your taste in chocolate, decrease to 1/4 cup or increase to 1/2.

These would make great Halloween treats, and are reliable gluten-free snacks.

-Abigail-

A Look at Our Boutique

In two days it will be a week since our boutique. Right about now, last week, we were going crazy getting everything pulled together. Now, looking back on it, I know it was worth it. And now, I will finally get to doing a blog post about the event, with lots of pictures included!

A view of Haynes Park from just about where we set up. This was probably almost 8:00, so it was quite pleasant and cool
A view of Haynes Park from just about where we set up. This was probably almost 8:00, so it was quite pleasant and cool

We got the essentials into our car- ourselves, food, Etsy items, a table and a shelf plus various things including badminton equipment- and headed over to the park about half an hour late. Basically we were ready for the day, but several trips were necessary to get everything in order.

The cold coffee in the new container our sweet mother got especially for the occasion. It was ready to be enjoyed in- what else- small mason jars
The cold coffee in the new container our sweet mother got especially for the occasion. It was ready to be enjoyed in- what else- small mason jars

We got everything set up pretty quickly, and a tent was kindly provided by a friend who joined us for science in the park. We had lots of fun with water balloons, and exploding them with lemon juice, but unfortunately I didn’t think of taking pictures.

About nine o’clock we were completely ready, blueberry muffins, peanut butter honey milk balls and mini quiches ready, not to mention our Etsy items hung up and looking nice.

One of Hannah's heads for showing hats and scarves
One of Hannah’s heads for showing hats and scarves

There was last minute preparations, as Abigail finished some of her beautiful calligraphy letters that look like fairy tales and, sadly, I forgot to get pictures of while I was there, and final prices were decided on.

Before it got hotter, or the pleasant shade of a tree got too far from our spot, Hannah and I played some badminton, which is our favorite sport besides all the things we want to try. We did not play as long as I would have liked, because soon after we got started, we were rejoined by our mum, and setting up continued for another shelf and a table.

Two of Hannah's hats, both available on Etsy, before they were taken off to be tried on by our friends
Two of Hannah’s hats, both available on Etsy, before they were taken off to be tried on by our friends

We got a lot of people passing by who glanced our way, and maybe even thought about seeing what was under the tent, but they usually had dogs or else were in cars, so they couldn’t stop.

Pretty soon friends started coming by to see us. The food was uncovered- sense it was generally covered to be protected from the flies- and I felt that the boutique had officially started.

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We had everything there (well, actually some items were not easily accessible) from small to large, Christmas to Summer. There was a small Christmas section, where I included some Christmas gift bags- which I think have made an appearance in some recent pictures, but which I’m waiting to put on Etsy. Abigail made a couple of these wonderful ornaments for our Christmas tree- I personally love to decorate Christmas trees in the grand, memory-borne and unique, and these are some of the best for bringing some of the wild from whence the tree came into the home.

My Blue Pink Tote Bags, now on Etsy
My Blue Pink Tote Bags, now on Etsy

One thing I noticed upon preparing for the boutique was that my items are generally the largest. Among them were these bags I’ve just put up on Etsy (they made their debut appearance at the boutique) and here is a link for them: https://www.etsy.com/listing/242224830/blue-pink-tote-bag?ref=shop_home_active_1

As the days passed, we had other visitors, never in full mass, but coming in a trickle to enjoy seeing our things and getting some refreshing coffee. It was wonderful seeing them there- some of them friends who I have not seen recently.

Anniversary cards and Thank you cards, made by Abigail
Anniversary cards and Thank you cards, made by Abigail

These cards were made with great care, thoughtfulness and enjoyment. I believe they are available on Etsy.

Among these cards were several other cards, made both by Abigail and Hannah. I took a picture of several of them at once, but there was so much prettiness it was hard to take it all in.

About the time our last visitors came, it was quite warm and I was getting my third glass of mint green tea. I had already eaten most of the peanut butter honey milk balls.

One of Hannah's heads, wearing one of her hats, Thank you cards, which, I think, Hannah made, and a couple of Abigail's wonderful sachets. The goldenrod one is on Etsy
One of Hannah’s heads, wearing one of her hats, Thank you cards, which, I think, Hannah made, and a couple of Abigail’s wonderful sachets. The goldenrod one is on Etsy

We made several sales there, I sold three of my garden pockets- but it was just a pleasure to be able to talk with our friends.

For the last twenty minutes or so- before taking things down- we pulled up some chairs and talked in the warmth of the day and the shade of the tent. It was really the killer flies that drove us away (to Cold Stone ice cream)

Business is a lot of things. Obviously a part of it is selling your items, but some of it is just making sure there is a business. And what makes up a business is having things to fill it out, having a way to give it to people, having a reason to give it to people and, in the meantime, having something to help pay for those cold stone trips. And basically that’s exactly what I found the boutique to be. I got to hang out with friends and family, to show them what we have in our Etsy shops, and I pray my things bless people. God has bless us so far.

Here are links to our Etsy shops, if you want to see everything that was there on Friday

The Raisin Fairy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/TheRaisinFairy

Annvania: https://www.etsy.com/shop/Annavania

and SallySewing: https://www.etsy.com/shop/SallySewing

Etsy Boutique

Yesterday morning saw, at last, our long-planned Etsy Boutique! We finally made it happen, we had a good amount of items to display, and it looked really nice.

Our boutique tent in the park! Thanks to our friend Lesley for the use of her tent, and for the beautiful sign (even though it’s crooked in this picture! oops…)

I’m not sure I would call it an unparalleled success. We had half a dozen visitors – friends who made the trip to see us; though a couple of friends who I was extra hoping to see didn’t make it! Half a dozen is few when we were hoping for many.

But it’s also a good, comfortable number! I love hosting parties, but a few guests are better (or at least easier!) than many. This whole marketing and selling thing does not come naturally to me; so a small boutique to begin with is a good way of easing into it.

A variety of items from our various shops, on a very useful collapsible shelf (also courtesy of Lesley)
My wee Woodland Creatures ornaments, in a nutshell. And some of Sarah’s Christmas bags!
Some new items for my shop – hand illuminated and hand-drawn initials. Part of a new and continuing and hopefully definitive line for The Raisin Fairy.
Sarah's beautiful bags. They are hanging on the white picket fence shelves that we almost completely forgot we had, which made excellent displays!
Sarah’s beautiful bags. They are hanging on the white picket fence shelves that we almost completely forgot we had, which made excellent displays!

It was an excellent learning experience! I mean that in the best possible way; it was great to do a first run, throw a party, work out some kinks, and see where we could use a little work. In fact, we have lot’s of ideas – and can’t wait to do another one!

Ok… Maybe I can wait a little. Right now, actually, I think I’ll just collapse!