Pull up a chair, get a cup of tea, and enjoy reading the recipes and tidbits of my journey through Life.

Monday, November 5, 2012

I Am Gobsmacked!

Well, as the title of this post says, I am gobsmacked.  I have been making crafts and handmade items so I can have my own Etsy shop.  I honestly have almost no confidence in my work and am my own worst critic.  That said, I think my confidence is picking up after Saturday night. 

I had bought some pieces to try making a pair of earrings to see how difficult it would be.  I thought they turned out well so I posted a picture of them on Facebook for my friends to see.  Well, evidently they did turn out well cause within fifteen minutes of posting them one of my friends had bought them!!!  My first sale!!!  WOOHOO!!!! 

So the last few days has been a whirlwind of activity.  I have bought packaging materials and still have more to buy.  Tonight I bought craft punches to make earring cards and decorative tags with my logo on it.  This is the logo:

After trying out the punches this is what the earring cards look like with the earrings I sold look like:

And I spent $20.19 on two craft punches and 21 sheets of cardstock at Michaels...saving $20.18 thanks to sales and coupons! Love me some 50% coupons!  Now I just have to buy the black kraft paper for wrapping and the black/white baker's twine to finish the packaging.

This has set a light under my considerably large ass to get busy on shop stock.  Today alone I have finished two tea trays and half finished a crocheted shawl.  I hope to have the items photographed and uploaded to my Etsy shop in the next day or so.  I will post a follow-up when they are up along with the web addy. 

So excited!!!  *does a happy dance*

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Samhain Traditions

So much has happened in the last week I honestly have trouble knowing where to start.  First off, we survived Sandy without losing power or any damage (extended Fam as well), but that cannot be said for everyone.  A candle will be burning for those that are displaced form their homes, or are suffering without power; as well as prayers being said for their well-being.  All we got, luckily, was a lot of rain and some moderately strong wind.  For a while we thought She was coming straight for us, but changed at the last minute and headed farther North.  Once again, those affected by Sandy are in my thoughts.

Happily, the weather was back to normal, though cold, for Samhain (a.k.a Halloween).  Since our daughter's school has decided not to allow any Halloween activities in the school I decided to keep her out of school for the day.  To me it is a huge holiday and not just for the dressing up and trick-or-treating, but because it is when the Veil thins and our Ancestors are able to return to us.  It is a time to honor Those Who Came Before. 

So, we started the day with donuts and milk, then had some time to play and watched Nightmare Before Christmas.  Around noon we made Soul Cakes and I got some pictures of our daughter making them.  She is six and was almost able to make them by herself.  We used my pentacle cookie stamper to flatten them.

Soul Cakes
1 stick butter, softened
1 3/4 cups flour, sifted
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg 
1/4 teaspoon saffron
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Dash of ground cloves
1 egg
1 tsp malt vinegar

Cut the butter into the flour with a large fork. Mix in the sugar, nutmeg, saffron, cinammon and cloves. Lightly beat eggs, and add to flour mixture. Add malt vinegar. Mix until you have a stiff dough. Knead for a while, then roll into 1-inch balls.  Place on greased baking sheet and use a cookie stamp or floured glass to flatten slightly.  Bake 25 minutes at 350 degrees.  Cool on wax paper.
Makes 3 dozen.

Once the cookies cooled, we decided it was pumpkin carving time.  She drew the face she wanted on the pumpkin and then I tried to cut the top off her pumpkin...but the knife wouldn't even go into the pumpkin.  That is how hard her pumpkin was.  So I tried cutting the top off my pumpkin and had no problem with it, so we went with that one.  I had her draw another face and then she tried to use the little pumpkin carving knife to cut it out, but it was too difficult so I cut the face out for her.  I did a pretty good job if I do say so myself!

Now was time to set up the Ancestor Altar.  I had bought silver picture frames from Dollar Tree the week before (LOVE that place).  I cut white copy paper into strips that would fit into the frames, then using a Sharpie wrote the names of our Family's Ancestors.  I ended up with twelve names and then I used a thirteenth frame as a Welcome frame.  I had cleared them out of this design frame, which was 18 frames so I had plenty.  We placed a tealight in front of each frame and a white and a black jar candle on each end.  The Jack-o-lantern went in the middle with offerings on either side.  We had soul cakes, pumpkin seeds, and water, as well as my daughter's "spells" (pieces of paper with random scribbles...but they meant something to her and we all start somewhere).  As I lit the White candle I said "Candle White, welcome spirits this night" and as I lit the Black candle I said "Candle Black, welcome our Ancestors back".

Once everything was lit, it looked like this:

Then of course we went trick-or-treating at my Maman and Baba's neighborhood cause they give out better candy.  :-)  We all had a blast and then ended the night with tea and a roaring fire.  Oh the decadence!

Then I decided to make some beef stew now that the temperatures have plummeted, but I wasn't in the mood to really cook, so out comes the crockpot!  It was to DIE for!  Yummy!

Old-Fashioned Beef Stew (Crockpot)
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
3/4 cup Flour
1 tablespoon Garlic powder
1 teaspoon Paprika
2 pounds lean stew beef
1 onion, cut into eighths 
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups beef broth
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
2 bay leaves
1/2 pound baby carrots 
6 medium potatoes, cut in pieces
1/3 cup cold water blended with 3 tablespoons cornstarch

Combine flour, paprika and garlic powder in a food storage bag; add stew beef and toss to coat. Brown coated beef in hot oil in a large skillet; transfer to the Crockpot. Add the remaining ingredients except for water and cornstarch mixture. Cook on Low for 8 to 10 hours, or High for 6 hours, until vegetables are tender. About 30 minutes before serving, add cornstarch mixture to the pot. Turn to high and cook until thickened.

I was also feeling a little adventurous since the stew turned out well, so I made Spiced Pomegranate Apple Cider.  I did not have all the ingredients for the original recipe, so tweaked it to what I did have and WOW, is it good!

Spiced Pomegranate Apple Cider
2 cups pomegranate juice
4 1/2 cups apple cider
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon whole allspice berries
1 tablespoon whole cloves
2 whole cinnamon sticks

Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a boil.  Lower heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes.  Serve. 

Note:  If you need to keep it warm, use a crockpot set on Low.  Make sure you do not serve the spices in the cups, keep them in the pot.

So far it is even good at room temperature (Mine has gone cold while typing this) so I wonder how it will be chilled.  I will find out in the morning.

I hope to have some a DIY post for y'all soon.  Sandy kinda derailed me on redecorating my home office, but I have plans to start back on it tomorrow.  Maybe I can get it all done by Sunday.