Rich And Easy: Potato Soup

Sunday, October 30, 2011

 

 I LOVE soup! Maybe it's because it's the one thing I can make with little effort and, yet, it always tastes good, healthy and comforting.

This morning I woke up to rain and hankering for some potato soup. There are so few ingredients involved I actually had them in my fridge and set off to make some soup at 10 am. (It was a really intense craving!)

What you need: 

Mascarpone: if you don't know what it is it's kind of in-between a sour cream and cream cheese. It's just really delicate and delicious. You can use cream or sour cream in place if you don't have any. I use about 3 larger tablespoons to cream up my soup.

2-3 Large Russet Potatoes: Use two if you want a lighter soup. Use three if you want something a little thicker and more hearty. I like it both ways.

Half of one large Sweet Onion: If I had leeks this morning I would have used two leek stalks,  because I love leeks and potatoes and leeks kinds of go together like peanut butter and jelly. But sweet onion is just as good. And as the name implies gives it a subtle sweetness that is really good, unlike the more savory leek.

32 ounces of chicken stock.

4 tablespoons of Butter.

Suggested Spices: You can use any of these or a combo of them depending on your taste: Bay leaf; thyme, dill, tarragon, salt and pepper to taste. For mine today I used Bay leaf (1), thyme and salt and pepper.


What to do:

Cut your potatoes and onions into bite size pieces.

Heat up a pot with the butter and saute your onions and potatoes over medium-high heat.

Once they are heated up a bit and mixed with the butter add your stock and spices. Let it boil until potatoes are tender. About 10 - 15 minutes.

Add mascarpone and mash up some of your potatoes. I just mash up a little so that there is a thicker texture and also some chunks of potato.




Serve while hot and add a dollop of mascarpone, season with salt and pepper to taste. 



Eat!

Godzilla Sweater: Recycle A Mom Cardigan Sweater Into A Toddler One

Thursday, October 27, 2011


For this tutorial I use a serger, which is what makes this so, so simple to do! First I found a sweater that I did not want any longer, didn't fit me right, etc. but that I still "liked," and wasn't too bulky.


Then I shortened the arms by cutting them off. Just like this here. Measure you child's arm length to get the right length for your sweater recycling project. You can use the sleeve remnants for arm or leg warmers! Cut the length of the sweater as needed as well.



So then I take the back of the sweater and fold it in half, long ways. Pin it as the picture in the right shows, basically, you are going to take the sweater in, to do this you just take off  inches from the back. In the following pictures you will get to see what this looks like. You will have a big serged seam going all the way down the back of your sweater.Be sure to remove your pins as you are working though!


















In these photos you can see that I have serged the back seam. After it is serged I lay the back flat and flatten the serged seam; I  run a straight stitch all the way down the back so that it looks clean and tidy. (the left photo shows cutting off the excess with the serger. the right photo shows flattening the seam and sewing a straight stitch all the way down.)
Here is what the sweater looks like after you are finished with the back seam.

Then go ahead and serge the arm sleeves and the bottom of your sweater if you took off length there.


To add an applique to your sweater it is also really simple to do: First you will need to find your image or shape. I chose Godzilla for this one. Trace it on to a piece of heat n' bond (the paper side; that won't be being applied to your fabric).Then iron it on to the WRONG side of your fabric piece, follow manufacturers instructions. You will peel the backing away, as shown, and place it on your sweater; reheat it with an iron to affix it in place.


After it is on your sweater you will then sew around your applique to keep it secure through wear and washings. I often use a small zigzag stitch.You can also add a button or any other embellishments you may want to add at this time. That's it you are done! It's really simple and a great way to upcycle/recycle old or unused cardigan sweaters.







Here's another one I did using a cropped sleeved sweater cardigan.

Design Trend Alert {The Leather Tufted Sofa}

Thursday, October 20, 2011

1stDibs

I keep seeing these leather tufted sofa's pop up all over the internet. And I have to say I am loving them, a lot, they do have my favorite elements - rich texture, classic lines and an eclectic-homey feel. But with price tags around the $5,000 mark I don't see myself getting one anytime soon.  But if you happen to be going to clean out your old uncles library don't send one of these amazing pieces off to the goodwill pile! 

This blue beauty is from Anthropology.

 You can find this high back vintage couch named "Mr. Chesterfield" at Inheritance

For a more modern look and a more affordable price you can find this one at West Elm

Favorite Finds | 2 | Knits For Cozy Days

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The rain is here in Portland and we have about 9 more months of it to look forward to. The days are getting colder and I know by the time Halloween is here it will be time to pull out all the cozy gear. I love knitting, but for some reason while I can embroider the motion of knitting wrecks havoc on me, so I knit no more. Or at least very rarely. But I love knit wear! And as you will see from these selections knits are not only practical for keeping warm but can be extraordinarily modern and fashionable. Today I am here to share some of my favorite knit wear finds from Etsy for man, woman and child.

Rusty Forks Fox Scarf (this has to be one of the coolest items on etsy I have ever seen!)


This shop, Celapiu, based in Poland, has amazing, like, crazy amazing knit wear! They are totally worth checking out; and you may want to grab a tissue for your drool. Here are a few examples of my favorite items from their shop. I want all of these items, right now. They are so unique, I have never seen anything like them, ever. Yep, amazing!



For the bambino's I love these these items from MoonFlowerCreations, based in Coeur D'alene Idaho. 

I love the idea of a little cowl scarf for the little ones, for one it's about the cutest thing in the whole entire world and for two it will prove more difficult for them to pull off and subsequently lose.
 
Fingerless mittens, also another ingenuous idea to keep your tots warm and cozy. I don't know about you but as a child I never liked having my digits in lock-down.

And while this last image doesn't really go with my "cozy up with knits" theme, it is so adorable I couldn't not include it here! If I wasn't for sure super done with having babies of my own, I would want another one just so I could buy that little hammock and take pictures of my precious bundle in it! So, I am glad I am done because in reality that is a pretty poor reason to have another baby! But if you happen to have a little pea of your own or are planning one and you buy this awesome knit hammock feel free to send me a couple pictures! I could look at pictures of babies in this hammock all day long. And let me just say it's only 36.00 dollars! A steal in my opinion.

 This sweet knit bow tie qualifies as irresistible!
Made by: Frankintonknits
Another fantastic deal at only $12.00 (no, not a typo)
And I am confident that one of these will make your little guy the talk of the party.

For the guys...here is great cowl scarf from HappiKnits. Which, according to that fabulous smile, looks like these knits will indeed make you happy! This shop has sooo much more, I strongly suggest taking a look at the more than 120 items
in the shop.There are some amazing women's items too.

 
 For those of you who are knitters out there here is a really cool PDF Pattern I found! From BySol


How cool are these little jar covers?! You can get a pattern from AlpacaYarnShop, and make some up. I think these could make a really cute holiday gift, especially if you filled your jars with some extra goodies.


I haven't purchased anything from these shops...yet (emphasis on yet), but they all have wonderful feedback! So check them out!

What's Love Got To Do With It?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

October is national breast cancer awareness month, but you might not know it  is also national domestic violence awareness month. Two issues that greatly affect women. Breast cancer awareness has come along way, people are willing to talk about it now due to the pioneers of women who fought to make this issue public. There are pink ribbons, pink kitchen appliances, you can easily make donations when you go to your local grocery store during the month of October, or join a race to run for a cure. Women have come along way quickly to raise awareness of Breast Cancer, one of my dear friends is a breast cancer survivor and I am among those that is fighting for a cure. And this fight is not over we still need to find one. And please go here to find out how to do a self breast examination and do one monthly!

Unfortunately the same cannot be said for the issue of domestic violence (DV), it is still something that people aren't so willing to talk about publicly; unless it is in the face of a tragic event, which is usually homicide, then we can talk about it for half a second on the nightly news. But it is an issue that we need to be aware of. Sadly it is an uncomfortable topic for people, so most people are unaware that there is even a National DV awareness month. I don't think it is because people don't care, I think it is because it's scary and as I said, just uncomfortable. However, one in four women are affected by this or have been at some point in their lives. Children that witness abuse are more likely to go on to be abused or become abuser themselves. And like breast cancer it is an issue that affects so, so many.

In my past employment, I was a domestic violence advocate and director of a local domestic violence shelter. So DV is kind of my expertise and my cause, which also includes child abuse. Of course child abuse is, as society, not tolerated and it is a much easier thing for us to get behind and take a stand on, but a good thing to remember is if someone is being abused and there are children involved those children are also being abused. This doesn't necessarily mean physically but emotionally and mentally. If a parent is abusing another parent they are also abusing their children by doing so. So many times a person that is in a violent relationship will say "but he/she is such a good parent." This isn't a true statement. It also doesn't mean abusers don't have good qualities or good moments. Of course most do and this, this fact is what makes it so, so difficult. But a parent or partner who is abusing someone else in the house is not being a good parent. Violence is learned, it is passed down and finds it's way into peoples lives through depression, insecurity, violence being a known place no one should know, anxiety, drug and alcohol addiction,  and through violent behaviors themselves.



Domestic Violence does not only affect women or married couples. It can affect anyone of any age, in any type of relationship, any background or socioeconomic status and any sex or sexual orientation. It is a cycle of abuse where one person exerts power and control over another (see power and control wheel). This includes physical, sexual, mental and emotional violence.

It is a very important issue to learn about, especially if you have children of your own. It is often a cyclical pattern and raising awareness can help break these patterns and reduce the occurrence of abuse. If you do educate yourself and talk to your own children about having healthy relationships and what that looks like. Calling names is not okay, stalking is not okay, controlling behaviors is not ok, slapping, pushing, shoving is not ok. And once you have raised your awareness help them understand warning signs of domestic abuse and dating violence. One of the most difficult parts about it is that it develops slowly over time and often by the time a person realizes they are in an abusive relationship it is very difficult to get out of that relationship.


Do you know someone who is in a violent relationship? If so, I know it can be really difficult for those people who are in a supportive role for those that are victims of domestic violence. When I worked at the shelter I had countless calls to the crisis line from friends and family who were "fed up" with the victim, which resulted often in that victim getting further victimized by being put down or put out by their family and friends. It takes the average victim 7 or 8 times of leaving the abuser to actually break free. Telling a victim what she/he should do isn't actually helpful, even when it can seem so obvious of what they need to do, which is to get out of abusive relationships. It is important to keep in mind when you are the victim of DV your power has been stripped from you. The victim needs to be empowered. The victim also needs to unlearn these patterns of behaviors in a relationship and begin to understand what a healthy relationship looks like.With that said learn your own limitations as a supportive role, find ways you can help and keep boundaries so you do not get burnt out on that supportive role. Find out what your local DV crisis line number is and give it to your friend or family member. Let them know you love them and support them, but be honest when you are feeling burnt out and refer them to a crisis line, assure them they can call and it will be kept confidential.

So what can you do to help? First, you must help to educate yourself on all the complexities of what it is like for the victim in a DV relationship and the risks involved for a person attempting to leave an abusive relationship. First, find information and gather information for the victim. Pamphlets or books on DV can be great places to start, and you can also offer to keep these for them so they don't get "caught" with this information by the abuser. Offer to keep copies of important records or documents and a bag of clothes at your house so when the victim chooses to leave, they can do so knowing they have copies of important paperwork and enough clothes for a few days if they need to leave their home quickly. Find local DV support groups or a counselor that specializes in DV, offer to drive them or babysit so they can attend. Offer this information and then let it be. The victim may deny the abuse at first or down play once they feel like they are being put into a position of having to take some action for themselves, and know this is very conflicting and can be scary for the victim to accept all this. But if you aren't pushy or disappointed in their acceptance of this help right away, they will trust you and go to you when you are ready. Keeping these items and offering this information does not make you responsible for their choices, it only makes it available. The victim needs to be encouraged to put their control back in their hands. A supportive role is just that, find ways that you can support but the victim has to do the work and make their own decisions. Remember when a victim does leave her abuser this is the most dangerous time. If the abuser knows where you live and knows you are helping may not feel comfortable with the victim at your house and this is OK. Make this clear from the beginning too. Let the victim know the ways you are willing to help, that you will help him/her find a hotel room or shelter and will bring items or give them a ride to a safer location. This is all "Safety Planning" and a victim of abuse needs to safety plan in order to get out of the relationship. If children are involved it's important to talk about safety planning with them too; where can they go if things get out of control? Is there a safe neighbor or teacher at school? Talk to the parent about their making a safety plan with/for their children. 

Other ways to help in the community: you can try to volunteer at a local shelter or crisis line. Keep in mind 40 hours of training is needed before you can volunteer. You can find out about these opportunities by calling your local shelter or crisis line. Other ways to help are to supply much needed items to those who have recently left an abusive relationship. At the shelter what we needed most were bus passes and bus tickets. This, hands down, was our most needed item. Other ways to help are gift certificates to places like Target where they can get most anything, clothing, diapers, tampons. Most people that end up in a DV shelter have nothing, no job, no car, no savings. So the goal at the shelter as an advocate are to get started on acquiring these things so victims can go on to be independent.

If you yourself find that you are in an abusive relationship, first learn to accept that you are never at blame for violent actions towards you, again this includes putdowns, threats, isolation, sexual abuse, and of course, physical violence. Call a hotline and start taking steps to gain your freedom and independence. Crisis line workers can help you make a Safety Plan. Love has nothing to do with being abused and someone who has a true capability for loving you will not hurt you.

Resources:

Domestic Violence
National Domestic Violence Crisis Line: 1.800.799.SAFE

Here is a link for a SAFETY PLAN

Breast Cancer:
Susan G Komen for the Cure

Recap: My Pillow + Emily = HGTV Eclectic Artsy Odyssey Love

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


Recap on my much anticipated debut of my pillow (my work) on HGTV. So finally after three months of waiting, from overly excited, to nonchalant, to overly excited again, the HGTV episode aired! That day I prepared for my big moment - I cleaned my house, put my babies to bed, made some snacks, lit some candles and sat down to watch it. I found I was a little more stressed than giddy (as I thought I would be) while watching it, because of course, I was ended up just watching for my pillow, which proved to be weird. I'd get too distracted and flustered by brains lack of ability to do anything else but search the screen, so I'd pause my TV, then try to sit down and watch it again and "enjoy it" of course. I'd see the tip of it, a corner of it...I sat through 26 minutes,it was almost over, and realized I hadn't allowed big expectations to form about  this, but I never considered my pillow being tucked away from the view of the camera the entire episode. But then finally in the 11th hour, there it was! At that point, of course, I had to pause my TV again to take some pictures. Then they showed it again and again! It really only got about 5 or 6 seconds of airtime (which, by the way, you do not notice how darn fidgety those cameras are zooming in and out all over the place until you are looking for your pillow!) but those 5 or 6 seconds were good ones, which included a few stellar close ups. They didn't "talk" about it on air and initially I was a little sad about this. But once the episode was over and I re-watched the last few minutes again, I was super excited and very satisfied.

I didn't care whether they talked about it, or not or whether it got 5 seconds or ten second of air time in the end. I was really grateful for the experience because it was a great one; one that came at such a surprise and such a good time in my life to happen. The owners of the home that Emily designed for even contacted me - once here on my blog in my blog post about the upcoming episode and a couple times after it aired to my facebook page, where they sent me a couple of these photos of my pillow from the episode (also known as their "home"). From the craziness of Emily being my second Etsy customer, to the owners being so kind as to get in touch with me, I realized that was what really was so meaningful and exciting. I mean those 5 seconds on TV were pretty awesome, but the rest outshone that by a mile. And of course just the way it all has pushed me to take myself and what I do seriously. One of the best gifts ever.

Emily Henderson with the owners Louis and Jenny (from Louisiana)



So what happens when your Etsy item makes it to network television on a beloved design show? Well, that's what I had been wondering for 3 months. I should say I knew in that 3 months that while Emily purchased my pillow for this design there was a chance it wouldn't make it into the final look, so I didn't spend a lot of time actively wondering about this, though it was in the back of my mind. So, what happened? I wish I could share more about the brass tacks "outcome" of it but I don't know, exactly. I know partially, I suppose, but I couldn't give an exact breakdown. That night I did get a few orders for the pillow, which was great! It was a sort of validation that I wasn't crazy and making all of this up ; ) But I wasn't flooded with orders right away either. The reason I am not exactly sure how this affected my shop and sales is because a few days after this episode Etsy also featured one of my pillows in their daily "Etsy Finds" emails titled "Hot This Month." A sort of buying guide of September trends.



So, last Wedneday morning I woke up and sat down with my coffee to check my Etsy shop and check my stats, something I compulsively do anyway, but was way more excited about after this HGTV thing. So I look and I had above average views, then I looked 20 minutes later and I had 700 views! I thought, what the heck is that all about?! So I assumed maybe Emily had posted on her blog about the episode but upon fact checking, she didn't, (and I wasn't convinced it would bring me that much traffic anyway!). (You can read the blog she ended up posting later that day here, which got me even more views and sales!) Anyway, then I started getting emails about my pillows and orders! Every time I checked my stats I had 200 more views, 20 more hearts on my Home is Where The Heart is pillow. So I had no idea. I thought the only person who could be behind this was Emily but why would she promote a different pillow? Well, that just didn't make any sense. Finally I asked a customer who was emailing me about pillows (thanks amy!) who let me know I was in an Etsy email. OH!? Okay. Apparently they do this sort of thing without warning (warning would be nice btw) but I am not looking a gift horse in the mouth!

 
I ended up with outrageous amount of views and hearts and even orders. It's been an amazing couple weeks! I am still getting orders from both these strokes of luck for me and my shop : )

Again, all this has just been an amazing experience. I would really have to attribute much of it to luck. And I tend not to take too much credit for it because, as I have said in previous posts about my pillow venture, the idea just kind of came to me, and I didn't even think it was that great of an idea. I feel like in sharing this I should have some advice for others like "what to expect if...," but it's just been more of a personal success which I think has allowed me to translate that to the beginnings of business success. So with that, if I have any advice to offer for other sellers out there it would be pretty cliche, do what you truly love to do and listen to your gut. I am generally not a "put yourself out there" kind of person, but I found myself at a time where I truly decided I would rather try and fail than have not tried. And while I am still new at this and failure can come at anytime, I want to keep trying. And if you do put yourself out there, you really are doing just that and you never know what kind of attention it could bring. So if you open an Etsy business or any business, be ready to do business : )

So thank you to Emily for giving me a jump start on confidence and 5 or 6 seconds of personal stardom, and to Louis and Jenny for being so kind and making this whole thing so much more meaningful!

All of the professional looking photos were taken by the owner Louis : )

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