Friday, March 25, 2011

Easter Market April 14 & 15

Relief Society Birthday Party Invitation

I was asked by the Relief Society president of our ward to create 125 invitations to announce the Relief Society's birthday celebration. She prefaced the favor with, "I'm so sorry Aimee, but we have no budget for invitations." That always presents a "fun" challenge and an expectation to rely more on the labor end rather than compensating with expensive materials. My 8 year old daughter and I hand stamped 16 separate images on to the 125 invites. Hmmmm, do the math...that's 2000 stampings. I got out my trusty Bernina sewing machine and stitched the top and bottom of the text to the cardstock. I wanted it to look like the old time cut ornaments from the newspaper presses. It didn't quite have that exact look, but it was cheap and fun. I figured out they cost $12.00, we won't talk about the labor though.

Note: The Relief Society is one of the oldest and largest women's organizations in the world. All women 18 years of age and older, as well as women younger than 18 who are married or are single mothers, are welcomed into the sisterhood of Relief Society. There are approximately 6 million sisters in Relief Society. Since its organization on March 17, 1842, by the Prophet Joseph Smith, Relief Society has spread throughout the world into nearly 170 countries. Joseph Smith was quoted regarding the organization's purpose, "Relief Society, whose object is the relief of the poor, the destitute, the widow and the orphan, and for the exercise of all benevolent purposes. . . .[W]e feel convinced that with their concentrated efforts, the condition of the suffering poor, of the stranger and the fatherless will be ameliorated."

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Welcome! Come on in...

I love that there are gigantic eggs on my front porch. That must have been some bird.

Happy weekend.

Gatherings for Easter Market

Waiting to come alive, these little chicks aren't making a peep yet, but with strokes from the paint brush next week, I'll take care of that.
There will be bunnies too.
And many other "egg"-cellent treasures.
Look at the spring fireworks on my floor. This afternoon I was moving fabrics and other mediums around to get the right color combinations.

I'll be creating for the next 2 weeks, hope you'll come to my Easter Market. Send me an e-mail with your contact information and I'll get you the details. Mark April 14-15th on your calendar! Watch for more photographs of all the spring curiosities I'll have available for purchase.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

"Follow the Ways of Your Ancestors" -Old Irish Proverb

"There is no fireside like your own fireside." - Old Irish Proverb

We have a tradition around here, you know I'm part Irish (along with over 40 million other Americans), from me-grandmother's side of course? But today, we all turn a little Irish. At our home on March 17th, Larry the Leprechaun comes to flip furniture upside down, turn milk green, leave sweet treasures of Lucky Charms and gold to enjoy, and shares swatches of green for the wearin'. This small little exercise of looking for their treasures reminds me, and someday hopefully them, that while they may search for the end of the rainbow elsewehere, they will always find the pot of gold in their own backyard.

So host a little ceilidh (pronounced kali) tonight, and dance a little jig with friends and family around your fire while listening to Celtic music. But don't make corned beef and cabbage if you want to dine with a traditional Irish meal, that is an American-Irish invention. Whip up a dish of Colcannon and Irish Soda Bread with lots of butter smeared on top.

Mrs. Sharp's Colcannon:
1 lb new potatoes, peeled
4 leeks, chopped (or green onions)
1 small cabbage, chopped
Milk, just enough to moisten potatoes
3 TBL heavy cream
2 ounces butter (1/2 stick), softened
1 tsp ground thyme
salt and pepper

Bring a pot of water to boil and cook potatoes until tender Slowly saute the chopped leeks and chopped cabbage separately until soft and limp (but not brown).

Mash potatoes with a hand masher, then add the leeks and milk and mash together until smooth. Next mash in the cabbage, adding the heavy cream, buter, and thyme; blend well until smooth and fluffy. Season with salt and pepper. Put this mixture into an ovenproof dish and place under broiler to brown.

If the colcannon is prepared up to the point of browning ahead of time, reheat covered with foil in a 350 degree oven for a half hour. Uncover and brown under broiler.

Mrs. Sharp's Favorite Irish Soda Bread:
4 C white flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbl sugar
1 1/2 C sour milk (not buttermilk or milk and vinegar, just simply leave out overnight)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Sift dry ingredients together. Make a well in the center. Add sour milk and stir together with a wooden spoon. The dough should be thick but not too wet. Turn dough onto a floured surface and form with hands into a round loaf. Place the loaf into a cast-iron frying pan or heavy round casserole dish that has been greased with butter. Score the top in the form of a cross with a wet knife. Bake for 40 minutes. Bread should cool for an hour before serving.

Today's recipes, proverbs and facts were taken from Sarah Ban Breathnach's "Mrs. Sharp's Traditions - Reviving Victorian Family Celebrations of Comfort & Joy"

Thank you Sarah!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Reminders of Spring

Every year I hang up my little basket of color on the front porch. And every year the birds know just where to set up home. They haven't come yet, this photo was from a few years back. But with the storm blowing in, I just wanted to remind myself, "If I build it, they will come."

Friday, March 11, 2011

The End Table and "The Leg Lamp" Score at the D.I.

See the table between the green chairs? Well that was my big score a few days ago.
You may or may not know that I love to second hand shop. It is the only way I ever look to purchase furniture. I love old stuff with a history, especially when I know the generous giver, (like the previous owner of these green velvet chairs above, thanks Grandma Barbara!). I usually love the quality of retro originals more than the balsa-type wood pieces the furniture dealers try to sell you and then give reference to them as being heirloom quality. Uh huh, you could put your foot right through the table top, or the leg will break off the moment you move it to vacuum.

My girlfriend, Julie, and I saw the Sugarhouse D.I. within our distance the other day and we just had to take a peek inside. She shares my love of gently used items. In addition, I think I just felt lucky that moment. I have been looking for an end table on ebay, in the classifieds, at garage sales and every thrift store I've been to for the last 7 years.

My checklist for an end table:
1. Must be able to view it from all angles, I move my furniture around all the time. Sometimes I'll put the table up against the wall, and other times I need it out in the open.
2. Must be hard wood with stable legs.
3. It must fit the era of the old chairs and couches I already own and love.
4. If I could ever find one with a shelf or drawer, that would be ideal. I love to display books and magazines near my seating.

And behold, there it was, between the child's vinyl card table and the midcentury twin size headboard. I began to walk away at first, thinking it might be too big for the space, but then I realized the perfect table had been found. I had the employee tag it immediately. The perfect table came with only a $25 price tag. Was everyone here crazy to have missed this item? The style is a perfect compliment to my existing furniture. The hardwood is in good shape, the legs are solid, it can be viewed from all angles, and it has a bonus shelf for magazines! Check. Check. Check. And bonus check. Sold to the lucky woman with the smirk on her face.

But wait, that wasn't all. For $1, I saved myself hours of work this next holiday season. You will never completely appreciate the beauty of this find by the photo below, but someone painstakingly pinned into a perfect pattern on the styrofoam topiary all of these little sequins and jewels. This will be a lovely vintage addition to my candy jar ensemble for next Christmas.
The woman manager at the cash wrap thought I was insane when I walked up with my treasure and asked her to name a price. "The base is detached from the cone and sequins are missing", she points out, as if to try to change my mind about my poor selection process. "You can have it for $1... I guess," she says reluctantly, then realizes I'm dead set sold on it. "I'm not crafty or anything, but maybe you could find some colored pins that match and add them in where there is white foam showing", she reassures me.

"Oh great idea ma'am, I'll look from some," I say.

I walked to my car feeling as though I found the Mona Lisa on the bottom shelf next to a pile of old TVs.

That evening Matt asks, looking a little bewildered as the whole family silently studies it over dinner, "Are you seriously keeping that, or is this just a joke purchase like the gilded turkey carcass from the 70's you dream of finding someday?

Remember the leg lamp scene from the movie classic, "A Christmas Story"? I was looked upon at that moment like the father, except at this point now, Matt has unleashed his opinion after the initial silence regarding my aesthetic judgement.

I thought we were taking things to the D.I., not buying from the them," he continues.

Clearly he's confused about what the Circle of Life means.

"My grandmother could have easily made this Matt, you want me to pass it up like it was just a peice of junk among the 50 cent glassware?" I confidently questioned.

"Yes," he firmly responds.

"Anyway," I interrupt, "I'm giddy over this gilded treasure, and when the mamma is happy, everyone should be happy," I reassure the girls who by now can't stop laughing. "Besides, this is the kind of photo opportunity that puts blogs to the top of the search engines," I explain in his terms.

Matt finally looks at me.

Well maybe not the top, but close?

Prayers to Japan

Thursday, March 10, 2011

This cake is my favorite cake. I continue to make it year after year, and have since a girlfriend's baby shower in 1997. I made it for a Relief Society function recently. I had to drop it off at the church and then leave to go to my night class. At the end of the women's event, there was none left, not even a crumb. The very next day a woman that lived in another area who I didn't know, called me to ask if I ever shared my recipes with others. Of course I do. If Martha can share hers, I'll share hers too. Just keep in mind the lemon curd must be made a day ahead, and the cake must be assembled to set in the refrigerator overnight. Lately I have not been good about pulling out my camera for my creative moments. It was my father-in-law's birthday and this is the only snapshot I got of the birthday cake. I'll have a do over post another time and you can see it in all it's beauty and sweetness.

To Alta Lady Hawks Basketball With Love

I put these on the lockers for the JV/ Varsity girls basketball team the day after they took state. Not alot one can do colorwise when the school colors are black and red. But when assembled as a little momento for a tournament well played? Not too bad. In fact, someone at Chloe's junior high loved it so much, he or she ripped it right off her locker. Sorry babe, I guess these kinds of prizes are pretty rare to find these days. (Note to prize stealer: Go earn your own!)

Have a winner of a weekend!

Fresh Piped Spring

I love this "fluffy neighborhood bakery cake frosting" that I piped where my mantel should go. It temporarily hides the fact that the mantel isn't there yet. It screams "Fiesta!" to me every morning. It was purchased at my favorite little store, Tale of the Yak, in Berkley, California. I'll save that little curiosity shop for an entire post someday. But for now, celebrate that spring is almost here with a sweet nibble of cake off of my wall!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Lady Hawks Basketball Mom M.I.A. During State Tournament

I've been a little spotty in my blogging the month of February. I put my blame on Alta High School Girls Basketball.

Matt and I got to support our oldest in her high school basketball experience. Under normal conditions, I am not overly excited about the madness of the sport, but I do try to support all my daughters with what they love to do. And guess what they all love to do? Play basketball. It is no longer their dad's passion. I think I caught a terrible fever in the process of supporting this week. A high fever. Her team taught me a lesson about determination, setting goals with a purpose and completely fighting for something with all their heart, might, mind and strength.

We beat Weber on Monday and Riverton on Wednesday by the skin of our noses, with nail biting and screaming until my voice gave out. We defeated Fremont on Friday with sheer excitement over the opportunity to fight against the Titans in the final game. Then we unexpectedly, (but only unexpectedly to the spectators, not our girls), beat the 2 year undefeated team, (count 49 games in your mind), the Syracuse Titans.

There were so many little stories along the way of this tournament that movies are made from. My most favorite vignette is the story of our girls in the locker room on Friday afternoon, sharing with Mrs. Shurtz (#21's mom) that they were dedicating their game that night to her in respect to her fight with breast cancer. She was diagnosed during the tryouts at the beginning of the season, and she had just finished her final treatment that Tuesday. The girls wanted to fight for her that night. We dyed shoelaces pink, parents wore pink bands bearing her last name, and a few of the moms' sponsored a box for the girls to enjoy as a reminder of their dedication to her.
The box was full of pink delights: Pink bubblegum, chocolates, the dyed shoelaces, a homemade pink ribbon sugar cookie, and other little favors in her honor. It was an emotional meeting and lasting in their minds. I know the girls won against Fremont because of their commitment to fight for her that night. Not that they didn't have the talent, they have plenty of that, but they had a purpose. We already knew the game would be a tight fight to have the opportunity to move on to the final championship game.

And the final championship game? Well that was a night that summed up what these girls were made of. Sure, there were bad calls, and most definitely on both sides. Yes there were moments of anxiety and frustration. But the girls just kept moving forward. Right to the end, 8 points ahead to beat the unbeatable.

A movie.

And you should have heard the soundtrack!

PS Our little freshman, even got to play two quarters in the tournament. I admit, I cried. I cried again this week when I got the bill for the state ring we "must"purchase, I'm sure the letter jacket isn't too far off either.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Is it Spring Yet?...

I thought so.

I hosted a dinner last night for a group of women. When I began the staging yesterday morning, I still didn't know if I should keep up my Valentine decor or if I should move on to Easter, but we haven't had St. Patrick's we really do St. Patrick's though? Easter is just so far away this year. It is a ridiculous dilemma to even openly admit I struggled with making a final decision. I finally pulled out the Easter boxes, but as I unwrapped the little curiosities, it just felt too premature when I came to the faux chocolate bunnies and feathered yellow chicks. But yet celebrating with Spring felt so much more encouraging than living one more dreary day of winter's end. I settled with the Spring theme, but decided to leave the bunnies and chicks out of it. They were fine with it.

Of course we were on a strict budget, think church function. I wanted so desperately to go buy flats of wheatgrass, fresh pussy willow, rhinunculus, tulips, gerberas and lisianthus for long clear troughs I had as containers. But it was all dreaming in my head, and I quickly came to my senses and became resourceful. I went to Costco and spent $8.99 on a gardeners bunch of white tulips. I re-purposed the mini pink carnations from Nanette's birthday brunch (it's amazing how long those things will last) and gathered dead curly willow branches from a neighbor's backyard. Then I followed a trail of glitter down to the basement and waved my magic wand to find handpainted and glittered butterflies, birds, and paper flowers from last spring's Art Market. I also gathered moss, fake greenery spheres and pussy willows, and silk lilies of the valley to really give it the natural forest setting. Oh my goodness, I was giddy over the results. At night, I lit tealights in clear glass votive cups and placed all throughout the organic display. The flickering glows scattered around almost felt like little fireflies dancing around our faces.

Wish I had thought to photograph the desserts served. Lemon tartlets garnished with whipped cream and a blueberry, chocolate mousse in dark chocolate cups with red raspberries, a flower and butterfly cookie and a fresh strawberry. All my favorite desserts in one sitting, yessssssss.