Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Gluten Free Empire Cookies

I've published a post on how to make these delightful cookies the traditional way, but 
as I now have a gluten free child in the home I feel I need to at least try my favourite recipes gluten free so he can have a chance to enjoy our holiday food traditions.  
Luckily for him, these turned out SO well you can't even taste the difference!
Gluten Free Crying (Empire) Cookies!

Gluten Free Empire Cookies
1 3/4 cup butter 1 1/4 cups fruit sugar 1 tsp vanilla
3 1/4 cup gluten free baking mix (I prefer Namaste or Bob's Red Mill) 1/4 cup rice flour
raspberry jam
icing sugar 1-2 lemons
Cream sugar and butter, add vanilla. Add 3 1/4 cups flour, 1/4 cup rice flour. Mix well and knead slightly.  Roll out using icing sugar instead of flour to keep it from sticking. Cut as large or small as you please - I usually prefer small so I can share with more people.
Bake on parchment paper lined cookie sheets at 300F for about 15 minutes. Don't let brown - they should be a little brown on the bottoms but not on the sides.  
Once cooled (I usually wait until the next day), put raspberry jam in between cookies. I like LOTS of jam!  
Mix 1-2 tbsp soft butter with 2 cups (maybe more or less, icing is very personal ) and add the juice of a freshly squeezed lemon a teaspoon at a time until just the right consistency. You want the icing to be thin enough to spread but thick enough not to run off the sides! Spread the icing with a butter knife and let dry.

These freeze really well - just freeze them on a baking tray individually for 2-3 hours and once frozen transfer them to an airtight container. WARNING - They are delicious even when frozen, nothing will stop you from eating these!

I used food colouring gel to personalize the gluten free cookies.  This way, at our large family gatherings no one will accidentally eat the gluten free treats, leaving those with sensitivities/intolerances without any goodies!  

I also "painted" some of the other cookies with Christmas themed images.  Just wait until the icing is totally dry (overnight) and personalize as you need.  This would be great for birthday parties, Valentine's cookies, etc.

You could also choose to personalize just one cookie as the "gift tag" on a tray of baking

Happy Gluten Free Baking!  

Crying Cookies

Alright, I know these are called Empire Cookies or Belgium Cookies
but every time I taste them, I cry.
My Nanny, Marjorie O'Neill, used to make these cookies and ever since she passed away
I simply can NOT taste one of these cookies without crying.  
Crying Cookies.

Belgium Cookies, Empire Cookies, Crying Cookies
1 3/4 cup butter 1 1/4 cups fruit sugar 1 tsp vanilla
3 1/4 cup flour 1/4 cup rice flour
raspberry jam
icing sugar 1-2 lemons
Cream sugar and butter, add vanilla. Add 3 1/4 cups flour, 1/4 cup rice flour. Mix well and knead slightly.  Roll out using icing sugar instead of flour to keep it from sticking. Cut as large or small as you please - I usually prefer small so I can share with more people.
Bake on parchment paper lined cookie sheets at 300F for about 15 minutes. Don't let brown - they should be a little brown on the bottoms but not on the sides.  
Once cooled (I usually wait until the next day), put raspberry jam in between cookies. I like LOTS of jam!  
Mix 1-2 tbsp soft butter with 2 cups (maybe more or less, icing is very personal ) and add the juice of a freshly squeezed lemon a teaspoon at a time until just the right consistency. You want the icing to be thin enough to spread but thick enough not to run off the sides! Spread the icing with a butter knife and let dry.
These freeze really well - just freeze them on a baking tray individually for 2-3 hours and once frozen transfer them to an airtight container. WARNING - They are delicious even when frozen, nothing will stop you from eating these!

Do you want everyone to think you're crazy? Why not try hand painting the cookies with food colouring! I used food colouring gel, with a clean paintbrush and a little bit of water to achieve these beautiful looking cookies!

Why not decorate just one cookie as your "gift tag"?

Painting these cookies was a lot of fun, I really enjoyed doing it!  It also made all my children flood with me compliments - I'm not sure if they really loved the paintings, or just wanted to eat a cookie!

Happy Baking

I love and remember you Nanny.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Cashew Cookies & Burnt Butter Icing

My sister makes these cookies almost every Christmas.  
The first time she told me what they were - I thought, well cashews are a great way to ruin a cookie!  
And then, I tasted one.
They were delightful.  Yes, they - I definitely had more than one. 
I've realized that nuts, fruits and seeds don't ALWAYS ruin a perfectly tasty dessert - haha. 
Well, that sister is in Haiti until 2 days before Christmas so I'm left to make my own 
delicious, addictive, freezable, share-able, oh-so-tasty
Cashew Cookies!

Preheat oven to 375

1/2 cup softened butter
1 cup brown sugar (packed)
1 egg
1/3 cup 0% Greek yogurt (you can use sour cream if that's what you keep on hand)
1/2 tsp vanilla

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add egg, yogurt and vanilla and mix well.  

2 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

1 1/2 - 2 cups cashews
     I used whole cashews because I knew my stand mixer would break them down.  If you are using your hands, or a hand mixer you will want to use cashew halves. 

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl and add to the wet ingredients in thirds until well mixed.  Once dry and wet are combined add cashews and mix again.  

I used my lovely melon baller scoop to make evenly sized 1 inch ball cookies, and baked them for 8 minutes.  If you are using a bigger scoop put the timer on for 8 minutes and have a peek, they may need up to 11 minutes depending on the size.  Bake until just lightly browned.   They will seem spongy but if they're brown they're done :)

Let cookies cool completely before icing.  Don't bother eating a bunch of the cookies without icing, they are ok - but they aren't amazing without the icing.  Trust me on this one.  

1/2 cup butter, browned and cooled to room temperature
1/4 tsp vanilla
2 cups icing sugar
2 tbsp cream (heavy cream, full fat milk, whatever you have will be fine)

If you missed the post where I made burnt butter icing for my Shortbread Saturns, first of all - you're missing out -   Second of all, to brown butter - place butter in sauce pan on medium high heat.  The butter will melt and as it stays on the heat it will start to brown and smell very much like caramel.  Swirl the pan or stir the butter to ensure the brown bits don't settle and become black bits - and that's it.  Once the butter is a lovely brown colour and smells like heaven, take it off the heat and let it come back to room temperature before making icing.  

Ice the cookies and enjoy!  If you want to store these in the cupboard, let them "dry" on the counter (maybe under a towel) for the night before packing them away.  If you plan on freezing them for Christmas, just line a baking tray with the cookies - pop in the freezer until solid (2 hours) and then transfer to an airtight container.  When thawing, be sure to separate the cookies so they don't begin to stick together.  

Bon Appetit!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Apple Fritters (Gluten Free)

Oh how I love apple fritters. 
I chose fritters for my treat this past Friday, but felt a little sad for my little gluten-free guy who would see and smell the fritters and not be impressed that I wasn't sharing.  
Fritters are VERY simple to make, and I assumed gluten free fritters would be just as easy.  
Luckily and I was right, and the whole family got to enjoy fritters!
  Maybe treat yourself this weekend….

I used a pancake mix, but you can do this from your favourite scratch recipe, or find a recipe online for "funnel cakes" - I like King Arthur Flour's recipe the best.

Follow directions on your pancake mix, or recipe.  When it comes to adding the liquid - milk or water, do NOT add all of it.  You want your batter to be quite thick, so add a small portion of your liquid.  Example:  your recipe calls for 1/3 cup milk and 1/2 cup water - skip the water and see how the batter turns out.  If it is too thick, slowly add water 1tbsp at a time.  

If you have an apple corer you have a better equipped kitchen than I!  I cut out the core of the apple as best I could with a knife and sliced the apple into thin sections.  If you'd like thick chunks of apple, just remember it may not have time to cook thoroughly and may still have a bit of crunch.

Preheat a non-stick skillet on medium high and use 1/4 - 1/2 cup of oil to fry.  You can use coconut or vegetable oil, but you may need to replenish the oil after a few rounds so keep it handy.  
Get the oil nice and hot before adding any fritters - test the oil by dropping a bit of batter in to the pan and seeing if it sizzles and cooks nice and fast.  You don't want to burn your fritters but you don't want them to absorb all the oil.  

While the pan is heating up, get a bowl of cinnamon and sugar ready.  I mix half and half - 1/4 cup of each.  We have cinnamon and sugar pre-mixed in a shaker in the cupboard but I don't know if that's normal or not!  Haha. 

Once the pan is ready, just dip an apple slice in to the batter - ensure it's coated thoroughly and lay in frying pan.  Flip gently (use a fork or pair of tongs) after 1-2 minutes or batter is golden brown.  Remove from pan when golden brown and the batter is cooked, and lay on newspaper to allow any oil to drip off.  While fritter is still hot, dip in to bowl with cinnamon and sugar and coat thoroughly.  
Serve hot, with a side of pure maple syrup or as is!  Bon Appetit. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Sweet Potato & Carrot Soup (Vegan)

I really feel like this should be called "ingredient" soup.  It's so flexible (most soups are) - so if you don't have the exact veggies or amounts, just give it a try with what you DO have.  
This soup is the hilariously distant cousin to a soup my sister makes, the recipe she shared with me was the starting point for this recipe.  

Absolutely no enhancements necessary!  This is the vibrant colour of the finished soup!  So beautiful to look at, it does NOT disappoint when it hits your lips.

*Before you start*
You will need to roast or otherwise cook your veggies before making this soup.  I roasted veggies while the stove was on making pizza this weekend.  If you know me, you know I HATE turning the stove on for only one thing, so will pre-cook things for later or make other batches of things for the week.  I left the roasted veggies and garlic in my fridge for 4 days before finally making the soup.

Sweet Potato & Carrot Soup

Preheat oven to 425

2-3 Sweet Potatoes
5 Large Carrots
1 Head of Garlic

Cut sweet potato into even sized pieces and place on parchment paper lined cookie tray.  I left the skin on my potatoes while baking and took them off once cool - they peel right off with your fingers. Slice carrots in half lengthwise and place on the parchment lined cookie tray as well.  Using a small, oven safe baking dish (something for creme brûlée ideally) place your head of garlic and drizzle olive oil over it.  Bake your veggies for 20-40 minutes depending on how large you cut your pieces and how large the vegetables were to begin with!  The garlic shouldn't need more than the first 20 minutes to be soft, smell like heaven and be slightly brown.  Once garlic is cooled, peel off the "paper" and squeeze the garlic out.  

Here's what my veggies and garlic looked like after days in the fridge!

I love letting sweet vegetables get a little too dark on the edges.   When pulsed into something like a soup it adds a wonderful deep caramel flavour!  

I blended my carrots, sweet potato and garlic in my blender, but you could use a food processor OR use a potato masher (that's what my sister does).   I added to the blender:

1 can of coconut milk (accidentally bought light, but you could use either)
900 ml Vegetable stock

If you buy vegetable stock, good for you - I buy it a lot of the time too!  If you want to make your own, simply save scraps of veg - celery, broccoli, cauliflower, onion, etc.  Fill your biggest pot with water and all your vegetable scraps and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low, cover the pot and let simmer for 3-4 hours.  This is a great way to control the flavour of your vegetable stock, and if you're concerned about sodium intake you can leave out the salt altogether!  

This is all I needed to make soup for 4 adult servings.  I forgot to move the vegetable stock over in to the pick, so imagine it off to the left.  :)

Once all your carrots, sweet potato, garlic, coconut milk and vegetable stock are blended, add:

1-2 tsp Curry Powder
1 tsp Turmeric
1 tsp Ground Ginger
1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1/2 tsp Salt

Transfer soup to a large pot to warm up.  Once the soup is warm, add 3/4 cup of natural nut butter.  I used almond butter, but you can use peanut butter or any other nut butter you have in the house.

That's it!  You're done and ready to dig in!  
Bon Appetit!

3 of my "Littles" fighting over the last bites of my soup I couldn't finish.  I guess they weren't fighting, they were actually sharing really nicely.  

My hubby and I are on different dinner schedules so when I was done blending I put in straight in the fridge in a tupperware container.  We each warmed up our own portions when it was our meal times and added a tbsp of almond butter once the soup was warmed.  

Monday, December 9, 2013

Make your own Wind Chimes!

You still have time to make this for Christmas!  

My baby sister recently had a "milestone" birthday and a few months before it arrived, I started to rack my brain for what I could make/give her.  After a few sessions on Pinterest, Etsy and good old fashioned Google I decided I would make wind chimes! 
 I chose to make chimes out of old spoons, which my loving hubby said would only make her think of doing dishes every time the wind blew - but I am happy to report they sound beautiful and nothing like doing dishes!  

The wind chimes I made for my sister hanging on her front porch

I happily spent a day visiting thrift stores (the good ones - tiny shops with insanely low prices) and bought as many good quality, heavy spoons as I could.  I got all sorts of sizes - including teaspoons.  I also checked out the jewelry areas for any beaded necklaces, bracelets or earrings in my colour scheme.  While browsing the thrift shop I kept my eyes open for what would serve as the main piece in the wind chime.  The piece to which I would attach all the beads, string, spoons, etc.  I found cool cheese graters with lots of rust and character.  I found a candle holder with beautiful detail and lots of holes to string my wire through.  What I ended up using was a brass candle holder that I took apart and drilled holes in to.  I had to visit a box store for heavy duty craft wire, and also picked up a few stamped silver beads.  The last thing I needed was a letter and number stamp.  You might know someone who has one - my Dad has one for stamping his equipment with his name.  Ask your favourite handy-man if they have one and if they don't, you can attain one for $20.00.  You're looking for a 5/32inch set, nice and small letters for stamping names on the spoons.  

Now you're ready to get to work!

You will need something incredibly hard to hammer your spoons flat on.  Something that won't shatter and will stay flat while you smash the spoons.  I used a large piece of nickel (the things my Dad has laying around is unpredictable to say the least).  
You will need to hammer the spoons flat, including the handle.  Next, take a drill bit meant for drilling metal and carefully put holes in the handles of your spoons.  If you've chosen a main "frame" for the wind chime that doesn't have holes, drill them at this time too.  
Drilling the holes in the spoons was actually kind of fun!

To stamp a name on the spoon, you will need the number and letter stamp set, a black permanent sharpie, hammer and a block of wood.  Mark out on the spoon where each letter will go with the sharpie.  Be sure your placement and spacing is correct before beginning the actual stamping.  Once you have the spacing figured out, simply retrieve the letter you need and hold firmly on the spot you've marked with your sharpie.  Hammer the letter stamp firmly into the spoon (the spoon is resting on the block of wood).  Get angry, and really hammer it in!  If you pull the stamp away and find you haven't gone deep enough, you can move the stamp over the area and find the indentation to line it back up again.  Once the name is complete, colour it in with black sharpie and rub off the excess so the font stands out.  I wrote the family name on the largest spoon, the grown-up names on the regular sized spoons and the children's names on the teaspoons.  

I'm going to take a small moment here to say one of the main reasons I chose to make wind chimes is because it allowed an opportunity to honour the babies my sister has recently lost in miscarriage.  The loss of a child is devastating and a heavy burden on a mother's heart. It often gets overlooked and treated casually because it is so commonplace; but the loss of a child is never "commonplace" to a mother.  Our tendency is to ignore uncomfortable problems, but that only compounds the pain.  Drop off a meal, maybe a box of tea, offer your shoulder to cry on and don't ignore the loss.  

Ok, the hard work is done and you get to be more creative!  Attach the spoon to the end of your wire and leave a long "tail" so you can twist it back up the wire - ensuring it won't come undone if someone knocks their head in to it one too many times.  Once the spoon is attached start arranging your beads.  If you're unhappy with what you've done - start over!  Nothing is worse (craft wise) than wishing you had done something differently and not fixing it when it's easiest to change!  Get creative with your bead arrangement.   For this piece I included purple beads on the "girl" strands, a certain blue for the "boy" strands and added special stones for the "parent" strands.  I also used some chain pieces to add more silver to the colour scheme and to help tie in the silver spoons.  

Once the beads are all arranged, attach it to your main "frame" as suits your piece.  I used a bead to hold mine in place and twisted the wire back through to the other side.  I was worried it would fly apart during a good ole' country wind storm and made sure nothing short of a twister would do damage.  

You will need to decide how it will be hung.  I removed a screw from the candle holder that I knew I would replace with an eye hook.  I spray painted the eye hook and an "s" hook to match the wind chimes so the bright silver didn't stand out like a sore thumb.  There are plenty of spray paints that will bond to metal, and I had some in my shed - so, it worked out well for me!  

That's it - get wind chiming!

I sound like a paid advertisement with the amount of times I've repeated this - but try making a gift or two!  Put some time and thought in to the gifts you give.  Even if they don't turn out perfectly, a handmade gift is a great way to show someone how important they are to you.  

*Thank you sis' for taking pictures of your wind chime and sending them to me!  You take such beautiful photos!*

Friday, December 6, 2013

Friday Selfie Time!

Sorry the post is a little late today.  I had a real, live, human visitor in my home!  She was very brave to visit me and I certainly wasn't going to pull out the laptop and sacrifice grown up human time!  

Happy Friday Friends!

A GREAT (sorry it's late) submission!  This was sent in TWO weeks ago, but I was a garbage human being and totally forgot to post it.  

Best submission by this lovely lady YET!  I can't imagine how you made that second face, but I love it more than ice cream.  That's a lot of love.

The "bad" one is how I ALWAYS look when I'm "FaceTime"-ing.  I can't ever manage to look like a normal person when I'm doing that!  

Hiking Selfies.  I wish there were dripping boogers in the second one… that would have put you at the top of my post ;)

Last but… ok, least.  I have such a hard time getting a "good" one - it's insulting.  

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Getting your Kids to love Healthy Food!

Maybe the title of this post is an overstatement…
My kids LOVE junk.  Our Friday "treat nights" are always the highlight of the week.  With the exception of a trip to Oma's or baking for company, my kids eat healthy all week.  Making homemade shakes is one of the ways we help them love healthy food.

I know talking kids into eating their veggies can be tricky, but this is one way your kids will love.  I let my kids help make what they've titled "Hulk Shakes".  

I think you can guess why they've named this drink the "Hulk Shake".  When we add blueberries or blackberries they just call it a "Healthy Shake" because the colour is more purple.  My husband and I play on the "Hulk" part and remind the kids how great it is for your body to give it nutritious food and how it helps build muscle and stay healthy.  My 5yr old wishes it would turn him green, so he drinks the lions share in hopes he will someday drink enough to change colour.  

Simply collect any fruits and veg you have in your house that will blend nicely.  I probably don't need to say skip the cauliflower.  Blend them with a bit of water or coconut water and ice or frozen berries.  We try to stick to fruits that are low on the GI 
Pack as much leafy green as you can into the shake.  I usually add 6 cups of spinach to each batch, more if I can get it in!  

We also love to add things that aren't in this picture 
-Adding avocados makes it really creamy. 
- Frozen berries makes the drink ice cold and almost slushee like.  
- Chia seeds are a great add-in, and the kids can't detect them in the thick texture. 
- Bananas are a surefire way to sweeten the shake.  
- Cucumbers add an amazing fresh taste 
- Kale has a ridiculous amount of nutrients you just don't want to miss.  If the texture doesn't blend well enough for you, try baby kale!

One thing you always need to add is CITRUS!  Adding freshly squeezed lemon juice, pineapple or an orange cuts out any bitterness from the leafy greens.  If you don't like citrus, don't worry - you can't really taste it, it just hides anything you don't want to taste.  Trust me.  CITRUS.

I added protein to this batch because it's for my husband's lunch that he takes to work.  (I blend enough to fill 4-6 mason jars and freeze them)  I don't normally add protein to the children's shakes but if you chose to do that be sure to find ones that are safe for 18 & under. 

If you have food that is about to turn, just cut it up and put it in the freezer for a shake!  Cucumber, watermelon, pineapple, banana, etc.  Freeze the fruit or veggies on a cookie tray and transfer to a ziploc bag once frozen.  You will feel better about not throwing your money in the garbage and you will have readily available frozen items to make the shake nice and cold.  

Speaking of freezers, these make GREAT popsicles!  
You probably have a popsicle tray somewhere in your cupboards - just pour the shake into the forms and freeze.  It's a great snack for teething babies, and you can feel good about what they're teething on!

Stop fighting with your kids about their veggies and try making shakes with them! 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Gift Giving - Locally, Ethically & Green.

It seems our society loves trends.  For some people, the trend turns in to a lifelong commitment (like my commitment to leg warmers) and for some it passes as soon as the craze does.  The last few years there has been a "buy local" trend. This is/was in order to support local struggling farmers, lessen our environmental footprint, and to know where our food comes from and how it's produced.  While we have become quite focused on where our apples may have been grown, we still don't seem to mind that most everything else comes from overseas.

This past April, a garment factory in Bangladesh collapsed killing over 1000 people.  While most people and news outlets were outraged and disappointed, it didn't stop anyone's dollars from flowing into stores like "The Children's Place" (yes, they made clothes there too - not just Joe Fresh).
Another "trend" where consumers were outraged for 15 minutes, demanded change, and ooooh 75% off pajamas…….

I'm saying this not to be "heavy" but to remind you that your consumer voice counts!  Put your money in things you say you believe in.  It is easy to beat up big retailers, but they are filling the demand we are creating!  

Whether or not you care about your environmental footprint, slavery and inhuman conditions in factories overseas, or don't think about what you buy at all 
you can still appreciate something handmade.   

While many of you are busy busy busy shopping for Christmas, I'd like to encourage you to support local artisans (or even friends and family) - and incorporate some handmade items to your gifts this year.

A gift for the Kitchen

Community Centres and the like are very busy this time of year with craft sales, Mom to Mom sales, and bazaars.  Make a point of visiting a few!  I picked up so many nice things this weekend.  Knitted dish cloths for $1.00/each?!?   In addition to hats, scarves, hand mixed scented room sprays, (and so much more) I found a great little gift for the kitchen!  

I'm going to go ahead and pull the description from the website:

"The SewEco Kitchen Wet Bag is perfect for storing wet rags, dishcloths, unpaper towels, etc., between washes. Waterproof, zip closure, and hangs from your stove or where ever you need it... it could hang from your stroller, too, for cloth diapers or wipes, wet swimsuits... or whatever you can think of :)
Wet Bags measure approximately 11x15 inches, have a waterproof PUL liner and a high quality 100% cotton outer. The liner and exterior are sewn separately to prevent any leaks and for a thorough clean when it needs a wash."

This is a local woman in my community, who also makes snack bags (perfect gift for kids - especially if you put something inside!), bowl covers and more.  If you're interested in something beautiful and homemade for the kitchen - this is the site: or

Gifts for Coffee & Tea Lovers….

I recently bought my first Cuppow.  Cuppow is a company in the United States (I know - not local, but NOT overseas)  Here's an excerpt from their site:

Cuppow is an American company that grew out of a need to develop everyday products that would help us decrease our own eco-footprint; we have been committed to that ideal from the outset, and seek to achieve it along every part of our process.

I love drinking from Mason jars and this little invention made it so much easier (and less embarrassing).  

I enlisted the help of a knitter to make me some cozies for my Mason jar so I wouldn't burn my hands. Look at how wonderful this is!  I love this combo for so many reasons:
- I don't see a lot of other people with this cup, it's very unique
- the Cuppow lid is eco friendly, BPA free and made in an accountable factory where workers are compensated fairly
- It keeps my coffee and hot lemon water REALLY hot!

The lovely lady who made this cozy for me doesn't do commercial orders, so I traded the cozy for some wool (she kept all the leftovers) which means 2 of them only cost me $10.00
Enlist a local knitter to make you a few and give it as a gift with a Cuppow lid and a bag of Fair Trade coffee for a thoughtful and unique gift!

Support the Arts

I've mentioned supporting the Arts in your community in a previous blog post 
And I'd like to add to that by encouraging you to buy original art!  I have a few original pieces in my house and I LOVE them!  They always get compliments, start a conversation and even lead to others looking for original art for their home.  
I may be partial, as my Oma and husband are wonderfully talented artists - but I really feel that everyone can enjoy art.  Here are two Ontario painters who sell their work:

Melissa Fernandes

'is that so' 24*36 acrylic 2013
Could you imagine having this beautiful piece hanging on your wall?  Melissa Fernandes is an incredibly talented woman in all areas of the Arts and visual arts is no exception.  She has had many successful exhibitions and has a beautiful portfolio   There are so many beautiful pieces of original art - stop buying mass produced crap and support a talented artist!

Amy-Lyn VanLondersele

Full disclosure, this artist is my sister.  She has been locally commissioned many times to create individualized pieces for.  Her artwork is whimsical and vibrant and should inspire you to start adding original pieces to your home! 

Last but not least….. Get Creative!  You - YOU, the reader - Get Creative!

These toys have been well loved the last few years.  Around 3 years ago, when my son began to read he could not get enough of Mo Willems' books!  He loved them so much I made him toys of the characters for his birthday.  The Knuffle Bunny can be seen to the left, and The Pigeon (with his own Knuffle Bunny) can be seen to the right.  I didn't have patterns for these, and just pieced them together as I went along.  I had made a few monsters prior to making these but by NO MEANS could be regarded as a professional - not even close!  Take your time and be confident in your creativity, you CAN make something wonderful and unique as a gift!

Side Note:
Notice that the Knuffle Bunny book has a barcode on the front cover.  I purchased that book from 
They sell discarded library books and new books to support worldwide literacy.  
Here is a small excerpt from their site:

"Better World Books is among a unique and growing group of triple bottom line companies who understand that profitis not the only way to measure business success. People also matter. And so does the planet on which we all live.
For Better World Books, the triple bottom line comes in lots of forms. From helping to build a nursing library in Somaliland to offering customers carbon neutral shipping on every book they buy, doing good is not just a part of Better World Books’ business—it is the business."

Let me encourage all of you to spend your money differently - spend it to make it count!  
Your consumer voice is important. 
If you have any other ideas for shopping local, ethical or green 
send me an email, I'd love to hear from you!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Dreadlock Care

99% of my current readers don't have dreads, so this post may seem out of place.  The truth is, I get as many questions from un-locked people as I do from fellow knotties.  
If you're thinking about getting dreadlocks, I recommend using Knotty Boy.  Their products are natural, smell great and their customer service is excellent.  I didn't get paid to say that!

Dreads are more maintenance in the first year than they are at any other time.  After your locks are tight and mature there isn't a lot to do other than touch up your roots every few months depending on how fast your hair grows.  Thankfully my hair seems to barely grow at all and I can get away with every 6-9 months.  

Enough chatter, here's a video clip of my lovely dreaded boy getting his locks tightened.  

Just say Yes

Utilizing a budget means making small choices that add up to big numbers.  No impulse buys (even when it’s only a dollar or two) , and n...