Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I'm moving

I have a new blog address: http://www.tangerineandturquoise.com/!

Please update your bookmarks and readers, as I won’t be posting here anymore.

For my Christmas gift, Will secretively set everything up for me. I wasn’t planning on having a new blog this quickly, so I am thrilled with my present. I can cross one item off my list now.

I’m still fiddling with everything and making some changes and additions. Once I had my pretty new blog, I wanted to start using it as soon as possible instead of waiting for it to be perfect. There are so many more options on Wordpress, and it’s been a little overwhelming trying to figure all of them out. The only bad thing is that I’ve lost all of my Typepad Connect comments. Supposedly they are working on a way to export them, but that was back in May so I’m not holding my breath. When/if there is a solution, I’ll export them.

So, come visit my new site and tell me what you think! I think I have a pretty great husband.

Monday, December 28, 2009


It is 2:18pm and I am still in my pjs. This is the first day since school got out that I was able to do nothing. I had no food to make, nothing to sew or assemble, nothing to wrap, and no one we had to visit. We stayed at home, and while the kids played in the bug house and drew with their new art materials, I got to play with the Christmas present Will made for me. It’s been a lot of fun, but I still have some learning to do. I’m hoping it will be ready soon, because I am very very excited.

I just realized there is leftover Beef Wellington in the fridge. I think I’m off the hook for dinner. Sweet! Off to do more of nothing…

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Yesterday, the Day Before and Today

They were all lovely.

A few seemingly quiet moments. With two houses full of family and kids, they weren't. But we all had a good time, and I loved watching my children enjoy everything so much. Now for some rest...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

More Teacher Gifts

A few days ago, I realized this is the last week of school before Winter Break. That meant I had to figure out teacher gifts and sew them up quickly. I decided to sew something small and fun I had wanted to make for a while, Erin's coffee cozy. It also looked easy and fast, which I needed since each of my children have two teachers. Erin's final presentation ends up being a paper to-go cup with the cozy on the outside and a gift card to a local coffee place on the inside. Add a tag, and the gift is complete.

I wanted to make patchwork cozies, so I chose scrap fabrics for a warm colorway and a cool colorway. I mixed quilter's cotton, with home decor weight and linen. I had a lot of long strips for the warm colorway, so I was able to cut out two exteriors from the same piece which saved me a little time. I chose high loft cotton batting for the inside, which I actually wouldn't recommend. I figured it might be nicer if the cozies had some extra padding and insulation, but the high loft batting made the cozy harder to turn, the points rounded, and overall it was a little too bulky. Whenever I try to use some of my leftover high loft batting, it usually doesn't turn out well.

The piecing for the exteriors took the longest, but Erin is right as she wrote today - this project is fast. The pattern and instructions are easy and easy to follow. I printed the cozy page on cardstock to make a sturdier template. By the end of last evening, I had 4 completed coffee cozies and I even had time to sew the buttons on. Agnes's teachers received theirs today and they loved them. I'm pretty sure Ely's teachers will feel the same tomorrow. I always wish I could do a little more for them, because they do so much for my children, but at least I can give them something pretty and functional, and also let them get a special treat or two for themselves. I hope they enjoy their vacation, because on January 5th I'm sure I'll be more than ready for school to begin again.

Monday, December 14, 2009


Remember when I was trying to figure out what to do with my big bag of fabric selvedges and thread waste? Well this weekend, I realized it would be perfect stuffing for Stephanie's soft trees. I've been meaning to make some for 3 years now - ever since I saw the wonderful trees made for the window at Purl Patchwork - but the trees always get pushed aside for gift sewing. The kids and I spent Saturday morning at home in pjs, and while they played, I got to sew. I managed to get 3 little trees done before lunchtime, and I have plans for some larger ones. This pattern is great for using up all sorts of odds and ends - fabric scraps, random buttons, almost done spools of thread, small pieces of ribbon or lace, and I found that my fabric waste made the perfect stuffing since the trees look cutest when they are slightly lumpy. I did stuff the tree tops with regular cotton stuffing in order to get the tips filled out, but used then the fabric and thread waste for the rest, with a layer of lentils at the very bottom. The kids thought they were wonderful, and I love how you can make these trees out of virtually anything.

Now to figure out how to make french knots! I have trees I want to decorate.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Food Gifts, Part 2

So what happens when someone or a family has a nut allergy and I can't make my famous spiced nuts? I make my second favorite food gift, maple popcorn. The recipe is vegan and nut free, so it is great for people with allergies or with specific food restrictions. Though if you desire, you can always add nuts to it (my friend Paige - who is the source of this recipe - likes to add buttered almonds).

I first had maple popcorn at the end-of-the-season CSA potluck picnic. In the food tent was a large brown grocery bag with maple popcorn written on it, full of yummy looking popcorn. I put a large handful on my plate, alongside my other food choices, and brought it back to our picnic blanket. I think I only ate one or two pieces, because Ely devoured the whole pile in less than a minute. I had to go back for more (and probably for more again). Next year at the same picnic, we arrived at the same time as my friend Paige, and I saw she was carrying a large brown grocery bag with maple popcorn written on the front. "Did you bring that last year?" I asked. She replied that she did, and that maple popcorn is one of her family's favorite treats and something she often brings to potlucks or parties. Needless to say, I procured the recipe from her and it has become a favorite of ours too. When dinner is skimpy or a letdown, maple popcorn is a must. Trader Joe's has very large, inexpensive glass bottles of maple syrup and there is always one in our fridge.

Maple Popcorn
I've found that 6 Tbsp of popcorn kernels will fit nicely in a 6 quart lidded saucepan. This is the perfect amount for an afternoon or evening treat. To make larger quantities, double or triple this recipe and pop your kernels in a large, lidded stockpot. The recipe below is light on the maple syrup - if you want every piece of popcorn coated, then increase the maple syrup to 1/2 cup or more.

-6 Tbsp popcorn kernels (buy small amounts frequently because popcorn dries out quickly and won't pop as nicely, I've also found that the cheap grocery store brand is usually tastier and pops better than anything organic or in the bulk bins)
-3 tsp canola oil (or whatever vegetable oil you like to use)
-1/3 c. maple syrup (I use grade B, but whatever you like best will work)
-1-2 Tbsp of water
-ground sea salt to taste
-optional toasted nuts like peanuts, almonds, pecans, etc.

Pop your popcorn in a heavy, lidded saucepan or stockpot on the stove over medium heat, shaking the pan frequently. Dump the finished popcorn into a brown paper bag and season to taste with sea salt. If you want nuts in your maple popcorn, add them to the paper bag with the popcorn. In a small heavy, lidded saucepan, bring the maple syrup and water to a boil. The syrup needs to reach soft ball stage, so either use a candy thermometer or keep checking to see when a tiny drop of syrup forms a ball in a glass of water. The syrup heats slowly at first, then progresses rapidly at the end so keep your eye on it. If the mixture gets too hot and reaches hard ball stage, the popcorn won't turn out quite right. When the syrup is candied, drizzle over the popcorn in the bag, close the top and shake vigorously to mix everything together. Let cool before eating or storing. For gifts, package up in bags or tins.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Food Gifts, Part 1

It's that time of year again. Yesterday, I spent part of the afternoon compiling my various gift wish and gifts given lists on my computer from last year's and from the random notes in the blank book I carry in my purse. I really try to keep everything simple and handmade (by me or someone else), but I do like to give a little something to neighbors, friends, and of course the many teachers in my children's lives.

This is when I turn to food gifts, and my absolute favorite treat to make and give are spiced pecans. Everyone always raves about them, and I've given out the recipe at least a hundred times. They aren't a dessert, so you don't have to worry about the guilt associated with cookies or fudge, and they will keep for a while in a sealed container (though not in my house, as Will wrecks havoc on the spiced pecan stash). They are good to eat by themselves, and I always have a bowl of them at any party I throw. One of my favorite salads is spinach with apples or pears, thinly sliced red onions, goat cheese, and balsamic vinaigrette topped with spiced pecans.

Ely's school has their Winter fundraiser on Saturday and we are having our business's 3rd anniversary party that evening. This morning I made 6 lbs (24 cups) of spiced pecans for the two events, and it only took me 45 minutes. For the baked goods area or for friends, I package one cup amounts in labeled cellophane bags tied with ribbon.

If you buy big bags of pecans (like at Costco) or nuts in bulk, you can easily double or quadruple the recipe below. I've found that 8 cups of nuts (a 2 lb bag) will fit on one half sheet pan.

Spiced Pecans
Adapted from Southern Table by Frank Stitt; makes 4 cups

-4 c. pecan halves
-1.5 tsp kosher salt
-pinch of freshly ground pepper
-1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
-1 Tbsp dark brown sugar (if you only have light like I seem to, add a tiny bit of molasses)
-1 Tbsp freshly chopped rosemary leaves (do not substitute dried or leave out)
-1 Tbsp melted butter (if you need these to be vegan, you can just add extra olive oil)
-2 Tbsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 350. Place pecans on a baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes. Mix the rest of the ingredients together in a large bowl. When pecans are done, add to bowl and toss together until thoroughly coated. Return pecans to baking sheet and bake for 2-3 more minutes until toasted and fragrant. Watch carefully, because the pecans can burn in a matter of seconds.