Friday, July 29, 2011

Lazy Days of Summer

Not sure about you, but the lazy days of summer are here! I've been indulging in lots of walks with the dog, summer reading galore, many no-cook dinners and the best indulgence of all...pretty in pink sangrias. These, my friends, have been a hit! If you're in need of a quick and easy recipe to bring to a gathering or just in need of a good old cold drink for the front porch, this IS the one.

Pretty in Pink Sangrias:
- 10 oz. of frozen sliced strawberries
- 1 can frozen pink lemonade
- 2 bottle of white wine (I prefer Pinot Grigio)
- 2 cups pineapple juice
- 1 liter of ginger ale

Mix, stir, refrigerate and serve to good friends looking for the taste of summer.

Monday, July 18, 2011

A Summer Swap

Having never been to a food swap, I didn’t really know what to expect, besides the obvious. Through The Women’s Building, I came across the 'From Scratch Club' blog and an upcoming food swap at All Good Bakers and immediately signed up. Only 24 spots were available and they went fast! Suffice to say, I went and it was the perfect foray into food swapping. I’m hooked! 

The premise is simple: make a homemade dish, baked good, seasoning, drink or even soap, as long as it's homemade and package it into smaller quantities in order to swap with other homemade items on the day of the event.

Walking in, and not knowing a soul, I instantly knew this was going to be nothing but a good time. The room was filled to the brim with happy chatter, smiles, laughter and of course a small sea of canning jars and other containers filled with eye catching food. Food that joyfully reflected their makers as well the colors of the season.  

After a little mingling and sampling, the swap was on. My lemon lavender shortbread cookies helped me score rosemary soap, sweet and sour pickles, dill biscuits and a delightful cold green summer soup…all of which I raced home with to try immediately. Like I said, I’m hooked. It was two hours of time well spent being warmly welcomed into a community of like-minded people that known their way around the kitchen. My only regret, forgetting to take more pictures. 

For those of you looking for a uniquely rich in taste cookie, here’s the recipe for Lemon Lavender Shortbread cookies.  Enjoy the rich and decadent flavors of lavender, lemon and mint with a cold glass of iced tea. Packaged, they make sweet (no pun intended) gifts. 

  • 1 1/2 cups butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup sifted confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh lavender
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
1.       In a medium bowl, cream together the butter, white sugar and confectioners' sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the lavender, mint and lemon zest. Combine the flour, cornstarch and salt; mix into the batter until well blended. Divide dough into two balls, wrap in plastic wrap and flatten to about 1inch thick. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
2.       Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut into shapes with cookie cutters. Cookie stamps will work well on these too. Place on cookie sheets.
3.       Bake for 18 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven, just until cookies begin to brown at the edges. Cool for a few minutes on the baking sheets then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Business Cards With a Twist

They have arrived! And in the nick of time too! Never have I been this excited about business cards. I’ve been to one too many gatherings where I’m jotting down my info on a scrap piece of paper. This afternoon when I attend a swap meet up I can proudly hand out my cards. Not only do they have one of those techie QR codes on the back that when scanned with a smart phone will take you right to my blog, but they have a homemade sleeve that gives them that extra tactile detail.  

Plain old white coin envelopes were used along with a lace style hole punch to create a sleeve for the cards. A custom stamp kit found at the craft store along with a lavender colored ink pad helped create the Lavender Nest packing for these cards. A stem of lavender in each proved to be the perfect final touch.

If you happen to be looking for ways to package those special moments in your life, whether it be for a baking swap, a picnic with friends, a birthday party or a larger celebration like a shower, Garnish knows how to do it right. Their site is filled with great ideas and supplies to make it all happen. This quote on their site just sums it all up for me. 

“Have you ever wondered what makes the difference between special and spectacular? It’s the garnish…that little something extra that brings a sparkle to the eye and a giggle to the heart.” 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Weekend in Pictures

For the most part, it was a warm sunny weekend here and lots to be thankful for. It was our first anniversary, which we celebrated with a lobster bake on our front porch and a day trip to the Berkshire Botanical Garden. I’ll let the pictures do the talking {with a few captions}. 

{a wishing tree in the children's garden}

{reading other people's wishes was just as fun as writing our own. its nice to know that sometimes we all wish for the same things in life}

{just love this idea}

{serenity found on a nature trail}


Friday, July 1, 2011

Paper, Paper, Paper

It seems I have a love hate relationship with paper. If we’re talking mail, clutter and other business like papers I’m NOT a fan. I throw things out to a fault. On the other hand, if we’re talking pretty paper I collect it to the point where I am almost a hoarder. With a good sized container filled with paper, its time I start creating using the things I love on a more regular basis. Paper was the natural place to start.

I made one custom cover notebook this week using an old black and white mead notebook and just couldn’t stop; it was way too much fun. After making a couple, I started thinking I should diversify the designs a bit. And interestingly enough that thought happened around the same time I took a a wholesale 101 class with fabulous designer, Marika Contompasis of Marika Charles.

She emphasized the need to focus one’s work (which I so need to do) and create coherent sets or lines of products that can be much more easily sold when compared to a variety of random pieces that don’t fit well together and make it harder for a potential buyer see as a whole. Wise words from a worldly woman who has made quite the career for herself. It was nothing but an inspiring evening hearing about her lifetime of successes.

You’re selling wholesale you may ask?! Even though I am not quite ready to throw myself into that arena, it was a class I couldn’t pass up and it will come in handy when the time comes. For now, here’s a sneak peek at a few of my newly made journals.

Happy Fourth of July J