This is the birthday gift I bought for frequently-mentioned blogless Annie - it was all I could do not to keep it for myself! This ring is handcrafted by Jennifer Hunter of Hunter Street Silver, out of old silverware. She's based in Halifax, and all of her work is beautiful. I bought a bracelet for another friend's birthday in October, pictured below (with her daughter's little legs seemingly growing from her hand.) I love that the jewelry is made from recycled material, is made within my province, supports handmade, and is beautiful and unique.
But then, when one forgets which list contained which items, and scraps of paper end up here, there, and everywhere, one has a mess on one's hands. (I'm that one.) I'm hoping to get my fantastically giant pile of notebooks, lists, craft ideas and other miscellaneous bits whittled down sometime before summer. (No joke - it will take awhile, and I'm prepared to take it one bit at a time).
This little piggy (P's piggy bank with a woefully meagre assortment of coins in its belly) went to market and brought a Valentine's dessert I think I forgot to share with you. Easy peasy - puff pastry, whipping cream (mentioned twice in one day!) and melted chocolate chips, drizzled by MIL when she was visiting. It would be extra delectable with berries of some sort, too.
I made crème brulée yesterday. In the slow cooker. I am not usually a fan of custards or puddings or other slimy things, but since Amélie likes it, I thought I should at least try making it. And if it's mostly whipping cream, it can't be that bad, right? Oh, my.
Can't be that bad?
I rarely swear. Very rarely. My first taste of this made me say the worst word I know. I had no control over it. It is that good. 'Good' doesn't even begin to describe it. Divine, heavenly, perfect.
The recipe is here; I followed it exactly, for a change, using my homemade vanilla.
it will be summer again, with plums from the farmer's market, still damp and fresh on the table. I'm snug as a bug at home with P this evening as 15cm of snow is making its way down from the clouds. It will be summer again, I promise!
How's this for a beautiful crockpot? If you love your slow cooker (and not just for making soap in), you must check out A Year of Crockpotting. A crockpot recipe every day for a year! There are desserts, soups, the regular meats and such - I can't wait to see what the rest of the year holds! I think I'll try the Crème Brulée this weekend. It's something I've never had but have wanted to ever since seeing Amélie for the first of many times. Elle aime...
A big thanks to Joanna of The Soap Bar and Product Body for her kind review of my Chocolate Peppermint soap! You can read the review here.
I currently only have two cured Chocolate Peppermint bars left in my Etsy shop; I unmolded a batch today which will be ready in a few weeks. They’ve been selling like hotcakes lately, mostly to people I know, which is great. Everyone loves the chocolate-y scent of the cocoa butter. I think I may try making a batch with a top-secret new method a friend devised by accident (those are always the best discoveries) which would make another batch ready sooner. It’s not regular hot process, that’s all I can say. And speaking of that friend and secrets, a birthday gift I ordered for her arrived today, and I'm trying my best not to post it until her birthday, which is next week. The gift is fabulous, and I can't wait to share it with all of you. It's handmade, recycled, local, beautiful... that's all I'm saying for now!
Picture is from sewfussy's etsy shop.
You may have seen the recent campaign by Proctor and Gamble to distribute disposable pads to girls in Africa. Not being a fan of disposable products in general, (and knowing that Proctor and Gamble are in it for the money) I was tickled pink to see that some pretty swell people got together and launched 'Goods 4 Girls' which works with aid and relief organizations to distribute new, reusable cloth pads to girls who need them. You can contribute by offering your sewing skills, or monetary contributions - check it out!
Things are happily and busily humming along around here. I made a new batch of chocolate peppermint soap a few nights ago, and sold some more bars today. The chocolate peppermint is a bit softer than usual, so I think I'll wait a few more days before unmolding it, lest I end up with a gooey mess. I'm looking forward to a bit of time curled up with a good book this evening - I hope yours is as pleasant.
Some more (and better) pictures I had taken earlier in the week of my antique sale finds last weekend. Soap updates tomorrow!
It's been a busy week for Phillip, to say the least. There have been doctor's visits, first bruises (not related), plenty of crawling and pulling up to standing. Trying to climb up the stairs, not sleeping well at night, and lots of slimy kisses. Adam's home again, which is wonderful. (It also means I have the use of our Mac again. Which means I have the decent pictures I took earlier in the week. Ahhhhh.)
Why the title, you say? Because this blog and those legs in the picture make my day. Every single day.
It's yet another snow day; it's really yucky out with snow changing to freezing rain throughout the day. So after shovelling the step for the mailman and filling the woodbox, I lit a fire and we're cozied up snug as bugs here. MIL is going to look after P while I do whatever I want. Eeeek! That's so exciting.
Annie and Ingrid came over on Monday evening for some knitting and visiting, and Ingrid brought the most beautiful cake I think I've ever seen in person. You can see it here. (It was delectable, too. Even though I'm not usually a chocolate fan, I loved it. The textures of whipping cream, the cake, and the ganache combined made it better than perfect, and the raspberry tanginess with the whipped cream creaminess - divine.) Annie made some rosemary mint soap for Ingrid which is also lovely, and although you can't smell it, you can see it here. (Ingrid asked me to make it awhile ago, but Annie was much quicker on the draw.) It's very lovely, and while making it, she accidentally came up with a new soapmaking process which I'm eager to try. More details to come. Thanks for being so nifty, and for sharing your ideas, Annie!
How much do I LOVE this cake mold? Ooodles and oodles. We're not really big cake people around here, but I would be if all of my cakes could be giant cupcakes! Or I could make a GIANT cupcake soap. If you want to buy one of these molds for me or someone else, they're $29.95 here. Speaking of cupcake soap, check out these beauties!
I updated my shipping information in the shop as well; it's difficult to have standard pricing when they charge me different amounts every time I'm sending soap. So I'm asking people to wait until I e-mail them a payment invoice with the actual shipping cost before making their payment. I'm also now charging an additional dollar for my cute little bags; the price of the material has gone up, and along with the time needed to make them, I think that's reasonable.
I'm going to list another delightful soap later on today, and I'm hoping to make two batches this afternoon. I'm going back to cold process for Peppermint Poppyseed (it's so much prettier) and I'm getting low on Chocolate Peppermint. I can't think of a better way to spend a snow day!
An oval enamel basin (I'm picturing hand towels and soaps and other bath-y things in it,
And these sweet little infant undershirts. I'm picturing these on a wall, maybe of a baby girl's room someday.
Our random drawing this morning was conducted by Phillip with the help of his Nanny who is here for the week. He reached to the left, he reached to the right, and he finally chose local yokel Connie as the winner! I'll drop your bar of Peppermint Vanilla soap off next time I'm at your school, Connie!
We were blessed enough to wake up to this view from Phillip's window earlier this week.
I have some splendid soaps to add to my Etsy shop this weekend; I just completed the finishing touches on two hot process batches - Iced Tea with Lemon (which is made with real Red Rose tea and lemon juice) and Cleaning Day - the batch which I had to modify mid-creating and I now love. The scent has mellowed beautifully and it smells just like a clean house. A very mild, clean smell with a hint of lemon. Pina Colada (which I think will be a favourite, especially since it's made with real coconut milk) is looking like one of my best soaps ever, and I can't wait for it to finish curing. That pineapple coconut combo is so tropical - exactly what many of us are wishing for while we shovel!
This is the easy-peasiest, most delicious dessert, especially if you like chocolate and add some whipped cream. (Really, have you ever gone wrong by adding whipped cream to anything?) This was also a part of supper last night with the amazing rice. It's made with very basic ingredients, and takes no time to whip up. The cake does this magical thing where a fudge sauce is created on the bottom of the baking dish... mmm. You can find the recipe here.
FOOLPROOF OVEN-BAKED BROWN RICE
Hands-on time: 10 minutes
Time to table: 80 minutes
Makes 4 cups
To minimize any loss of water through evaporation, cover the saucepan and use the water as soon as it reaches a boil. An 8-inch ceramic baking dish with a lid may be used instead of the baking dish and foil. To double the recipe, use a 13 by 9-inch baking dish; the baking time need not be increased.
1 1/2 cups long-, medium- or short-grain brown rice
2 1/3 cups water
2 teaspoons unsalted butter or vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1. Adjust the oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 375 degrees. Spread rice in 8-inch square baking dish.
2. Bring water and butter or oil to boil, covered, in medium saucepan over high heat; once boiling, immediately stir in salt and pour water over rice. Cover baking dish tightly with doubled layer of foil. Bake rice 1 hour, until tender.
3. Remove baking dish from oven and uncover. Fluff rice with dinner fork, then cover dish with clean kitchen towel; let rice stand 5 minutes. Uncover and let rice stand 5 minutes longer; serve immediately.
Let me know how it turns out for you!
I mentioned quickly in passing the other day that you can sign up with the Red Dot Campaign to have Canada Post stop delivering unaddressed mail to your mailbox. That's about all I said - I think it deserves a bit of further explanation. It's been mentioned on CBC on a few different shows lately, and I think it's great. Here's why:
Flyers are made from trees, require fossil fuels for production, ink, shipping, and delivery, are outdated in a very short period of time and end up in the recycling bin, requiring more energy to recycle. And here's the thing: they're available for free, online at store websites! So, as a former flyer fanatic, I'm signing up with the Red Dot Campaign and checking out weekly deals on store websites from now on.
This will only stop the flyers and unaddressed mail which Canada Post delivers from appearing in your mailbox. In these here parts, independent carriers deliver the larger bundles of other flyers. So here's what I'm going to do as well as signing up for the Red Dot Campaign: put a cute little sign on our mailbox with the polite request: "No Flyers Please", which will hopefully prevent those ones from appearing as well.
Other green goings on for the Grahams and other local folks to write in your calendars:
Saturday March 29 at 8pm: Earth Hour party at our house (it also happens to be the day before my birthday!) Should be a good time.
Tuesday April 22: Earth Day Potluck at our house! More details forthcoming.
And check out www.worldchanging.com for some inspiration and gobs of thought-provoking, quality green information (I'm particularly interested in 'Shopping Our Way to Safety' (left sidebar) and am on my way to request it from the library right now!)
Lastly - another contest! (To reward those of you who either read the whole post or at least scrolled to the bottom.) One bar of Peppermint Vanilla soap to someone randomly drawn on Monday, February 11, who comments with a promise to sign up for the Red Dot Campaign (I'll keep asking you about it, too!)