Monday, March 25, 2019

Ostara Calling

Fuchsia Chickadees
On a shortlist of the top three things that performed the best in my garden last year, two of them were a nest of birds, and a few wascally wabbits that hunkered down in the roots of my peppermint plant.  It's safe to say that my garden soil is thoroughly depleted at this point, so I'm spending the first few weeks of Spring looking for ways to bring abundance back to my veggie patch!
Peppermint Patch Bunnies
Ever the optimist, I'm still starting a hefty batch of garden seed indoors this year, mainly so my fine feathered friends don't throw a block party, and pick everything out of my beds before anything has a chance to sprout, but also because I'm hopeful I'll find the right trick to revive my jungle.  I'll report back when I've found the correct formula ... Until then, happy planning & planting!

xoxo

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Chilling Out

Or is that thawing out?  Well, if it's March in the PNW it's both, and everything in between, which inspired my latest batch of chia seed pudding.
Part One
Here's what you need:
3T dried peppermint leaves
2 c boiling water
Here's what you do:
Combine, and steep until cool.
Part Two
Here's what you need:
2 c full-fat coconut milk
2 c peppermint tea (above)
3/4 c coconut shreds
1/2 c chia seeds
2 1/2 T pure, organic maple syrup
1 tsp organic vanilla extract
Pinch of pink Himalayan salt
Here's what you do:
If using canned coconut milk, empty 2 cans into a small dish or glass measuring cup, and whisk to ensure the milk has not separated due to cool temperatures.  Once smooth, combine 2 cups of coconut milk with 1 cup peppermint tea, and shredded coconut in a blender, and whip on high until the mixture is fully incorporated.  Pour back into your glass measuring cup, and set aside.

In your newly freed up blender, pour in the other cup of peppermint tea, and add maple syrup, vanilla, and salt.  Mix until fully incorporated, and empty into a large mixing bowl, whisk in chia seeds, pour in coconut milk, and whisk once more.  Cover and place in the refrigerator for an hour (or overnight).  After the mixture is chilled, and all set up, whisk by hand one more time before spooning into dishes.  Serve immediately.

What I love about this treat aside from how fast it is to make (aside from the chilling part) is how it combines the warming flavors of summer like coconut, and vanilla with a whisper of winter with peppermint lingering in the background.  This is not a recipe that screams "PePpeRmInt!" It's delicate, and refreshing, and what's even better is that it can be frozen into a "nicecream" form if you prefer that texture to the more custard-like state of chia seed pudding.

Bon appétit!

Friday, February 22, 2019

Baby, Baby, How Was I Supposed to Know ...

FTC Affiliate Disclosure

... The stork was on the way here?  

"Special Stork"
With Basic Invite's selection of chic baby shower invitations, and announcements, of course!  This utterly charming online stationery boutique has got every major bash, ceremony, and holiday covered.  More personal than an email blast that ends up in a spam folder and automatically deleted before you even get a chance to open it, or events that fall to the bottom of our newsfeeds, these beautifully designed, and remarkably customizable pieces of ephemera convey the sentimental significance of your celebrations, and let recipients know you truly want them to be part of any upcoming merrymaking you have planned.  Beyond delightful paper products, Basic Invite's services (especially those for weddings) like free web page hosting, and address capturing which allows you to use social media to collect addresses that will be stored in your Basic Invite account that you may access during the design process will ensure your friends, and loved ones will never be caught unawares, or worse, sent on a digital scavenger hunt to find notices that have slipped into the endless void.

Still, why all the hype?

First of all (or should I say, "finally"), Spring is right around the corner, and now that we're all beginning to thaw out, and emerge from the post-holiday slump it's the perfect time to start planning baby showers for all of our expectant cohorts ... Remember those early Summer weddings we all attended last year?  Well, some folks brought back honeymoon souvenirs the kind that, while ultimately expensive, were not required to be declared at customs, that they'd like to welcome into our lives with festivities of all sorts, and what better way to communicate, and commemorate the moment than with an enchanting, keepsake quality token of your special day printed on FSC certified paper so that there's still an environment left to protect once these children are old enough to plan their own celebratory occasions?

Airplane Baby Shower Invitations

Along with "baby season" quickly approaching, I am still very much an analog girl in a digital world in many ways, and I appreciate how Basic Invite marries technological convenience with a refinement commonly demonstrated by the highly-skilled artisanal crowd to create next level tangible goods.  So, when they reached out about the possibility of me chatting with you about their products I took a long look around, and folks, I think I'm in love.  You don't see me running a lot of ads on this page; I have one tab where readers can find items, and companies I use and stand by, you'll also see the occasional link to something I think you should know about dropped into an odd post, but I'm not a throw anything at the audience, and see what sticks kind of gal, and I think that says a lot on its own.  While we all know there are other companies in the custom print game, I don't think anyone is doing it quite like Basic Invite.  I have used several print-on-demand companies for business cards, stickers, and to pad out my small stash of personalized office supplies, so I know what it's like to try and navigate a clumsy site, or submit a high resolution image, or see a stock design that looks detailed, and crisp only to have a fuzzy / blurry mess arrive weeks later, but that is not the case here.  Not only are their products professional looking, but they couldn't make it any easier to get from "I have no idea what I want," to a unique, and endearing memento in your hands in mere days.
Whether trendy or timeless, there are literally thousands of products available, and with most of them offering custom color alterations (180+ colors, and foil options), the possible combinations are immense!
I can hear you now, "Thousands?  Be real."  We've all been to print shops where you have to slog through page after page of truly heinous motif compilations before you narrow it down to a meager 4 products that could even be considered, but what really took me by surprise about Basic Invite is that I haven't seen one product that is at all unfortunate looking, or the victim of bad design.  They're all actually quite good.  Good design is good design whether an item is your personal taste or not, and what's more?  You can take advantage of their Try Before You Buy program, and order samples of your desired products before you commit to large batch orders so you're sure to get exactly what you want!  Again, this is yet another thing they've made incredibly easy with each product page having an "order a sample" button in the same row as the "add to cart" function so there is no added drama to the process.  Aside from developing a streamlined system for ordering, and a place where you can flex your creativity, Basic Invite is an inclusive, non-discriminatory company with friendly, and thorough customer service standards, and I think they're a company worth looking at ... I've definitely got my eye on one or two new-to-me items I'd like to order!

Right now, Basic Invite is offering 15% off your purchase with code: 15FF51
But, don't be shy!  If you create an account you may receive an email with a personalized code for 20% off any order placed within one week of activation. 
Marbled Paper Business Stationery









Thank you, Basic Invite, for sponsoring this blog post!
Thank you, Reader, for coming along as I wax poetic about paper products!

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Love-Bites


"When I say 'I love you,' it's not because I want you or because I can't have you.  It has nothing to do with me.  I love what you are, what you do, and how you try.  I've seen your kindness and your strength.  I've seen the best and the worst of you.  And I understand with perfect clarity exactly what and who you are."

-Spike; Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Monday, February 4, 2019

Peas Be Mine!

Princess Elizabeth Sweet Pea
We are currently six weeks out from Spring, although you'd never know it from the view of snow flurries outside my window, right now, and for me that means it's time to start sowing seeds indoors in order to get a jump start on thriving Summer garden beds.

Last year, I accidentally found the perfect location for my sweet pea patch, and they absolutely exploded both in blooms, and in height.  To be honest, my expectations were kind of low since I'd never had much luck with robust sweet pea plants before.  I had done a little research, and also stumbled through blogs, and online articles about all of the "keys to growing sweet peas" I could stand, and it seemed that all clues pointed to starting the seeds indoors, and not waiting until after the last frost to take action.  The truth is though, for all of my indoor-plant-starting, I found no difference between the indoor starts, and the seeds I'd just kind of tossed out there late in the season to sort of fill in any bald spots.  So, I'm left believing that no matter when you plant, as long as you find your Goldilocks location (and you're in a temperate climate) you'll have a full season of hearty plants, and vigorous growth.  For reference, the area my sweet peas did the best had dappled morning light, and what I call afternoon sideways sun - where plants can receive sunlight, but it's not a harsh, direct beam shining straight down on them, it's an indirect exposure to the sun hanging low in the sky.  I'm curious to find out if I can get away with the same laissez faire approach this year, and have the same results, or if my 6 foot tall, late season sowing additions were just a big, wild, and happy accident.

At any rate, February is an excellent time to start poppy, tomato, and sweet pea seeds inside, if back yard gardening is your thing.  For my experiment, I'll be splitting my sweet pea stash in half, and starting one batch early, and adding the rest directly outdoors later in the season.

Happy planting!

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Purple Rain

I like the idea of spending a little time each day doing something for myself that will result in an actual tangible outcome, so when the idea of making a temperature blanket found me I was pretty well sold on the idea from the start.  As 2018 wrapped up, and projects wound down I had begun negotiations with myself not to start any new, long, and drawn out activities for the upcoming year ... So, naturally, that's exactly what I did!  For the last couple of years, I'd been toying with the idea of knitting a "sky scarf," where you look out the window and whatever color the sky is at that moment of each day, that's the color you use to knit a row of your project, but this being the PNW, and all, I figured if I wanted a grey scarf with little bits of blue in it here, and there I could just make that in a weekend, and not drag it out for an entire year.  I'd also kicked around thoughts about the Doctor Who scarf, but does anyone really need a twelve foot long scarf?  Answer: Yes (but I just wasn't feeling it this time around).  I needed something easy, with enough color variation to be exciting to me, and something that wouldn't take up too much of my time, and end up feeling burdensome.

Enter the temperature blanket. 

Each day this year I'll be recording the temperature for my location, and knitting the corresponding color into my blanket.  First, I needed to make my own temperature gauge, since the ones I'd found floating around the interwebs had numbers on them I see in these parts only a few times per decade, and I want to make a blanket that has more than three and a half colors in it.  Shrinking my color palette down to nine colors, and adjusting the numbers to reflect temperatures (in Fahrenheit) that are more common to my area was a crucial step.  Since my climate is so temperate, I'll also be recording the year's lowest lows to its highest highs transitioning on days when the temperatures stay the same both night, and day.  Not only will this make a more interesting blanket, and ensure the use of all of my colors, but the finished piece will depict a broader summary of the year's fluctuations.  To me, recording just the highs would be like telling a partial story.  Next,  all I had to do was figure out what on earth I was going to make.

Visions of chevron, and cabled lap blankets danced in my head, but I didn't want to have to learn something new for this, especially if it was going to be an everyday sort of thing, and since I began planning this around December 28th, I didn't feel I had enough time to perfect a new technique.  Also, this project is supposed to be relaxing and result in a gift for myself ... It's not going to feel like much of a present if I'm giving myself a headache every day for a year trudging through difficult patterns.

Then I found this

In a brief yet informative post, Staci walks us through everything we need to know about knitting a scrappy bedspread.  Bingo!  "I mean, why knit a little throw blanket, when you could knit an entire queen size bedspread?" I said to myself as I, once again, over-complicated something I'd been attempting to simplify, but when I saw her adaptation of Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's Traveler's Life Afghan pattern resulted in 620 rows of stitches, I knew I was barking up the right tree.  I wanted to knit a garter stitch piece that could accommodate my desire for knitting two rows per day which will give the blanket a solid cord of color for each day on one side resulting in clean, sharp stripes, and create a bit of a gradient effect on the other side.  In the end, mine will come out at 730 rows, which will probably create enough fabric to pull over my pillows and create a nice, old fashioned crease of a smartly made bed underneath them, but we shall see.  Like Staci, and Stephanie I'll also be using the color changes as a further design element by clipping my yarn free from its skein at the completion of every row to create fringe up both sides of the blanket as I go instead of having to add it later.  Hopefully, tying them off at 5 strand increments should work out alright (stay tuned).

If you're interested in joining in, it's not too late!  

You can use my color / temperature chart, make your own, or find something else online.  Pinterest, of course, is loaded with ideas, and if you're not into the Care Bear Stare of a color palette I've created, there are folks who've made some pretty slick tonal combinations that elevate the look of the entire project I think, and give it a little more polish, and make it feel a little more grown up (that I wouldn't mind trying myself at another time).  Anyway, if you do want to take the leap, sort your yarn out, and you can find a back log of daily temperatures HERE.  Just click on your region, and go to the light blue "NOWData" tab to narrow down your selection even further.  Once you do, you can then select the dates you wish to view, et voilà, all of the daily highs and lows!

The Knitty Gritty:
Needles - Addi 40" Circular size: US 9 (5.5 mm)
Pattern - Staci Perry's adaptation of The Traveler's Life Afghan by, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
Yarn - Red Heart Super Saver Yarn (It's cheap, durable, and available in a wide variety of colors)

xoxo

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Affirmative


My word for the year: YES

Monday, December 31, 2018

Uncorked


Pop your top, and flip your lid!