Decor on a Dime~~ Birch Bark Name Tags

Silly things can sometimes make me giddy-happy. Like pulling into the parking lot at TJ Max and spying the Birch trees peeling bark. In an otherwise cement laden parking lot, it was magical to behold. I did my errand inside the store, ( I often investigate home decor stores to get ideas of things I can make, take pictures and make my own versions at home), and went to investigate the trees closer. I gently peeled some layers and discovered that if I was careful I could come away with a nice intact piece. 
 I had no idea what I was going to do with the bark-paper that I collected, but it was too beautiful to pass up. Maybe I could wrap a few candles? Or cover some small Christmas gift boxes? 

 When I arrived home, I laid out a couple of pieces between some thin fabric and with the steam set to the "on" position, I carefully ironed my bark-paper to see if it would flatten. After letting it cool completely, I was able to lay it out like a piece of paper. It's so delicate and beautiful.
I thought how lovely it would be to use the small pieces as name tags. They could even be used for gift giving. One of the things I love about using things from nature is that there are so many things that you can use and they are free.  I like free. I like nature. And I love that combination.

Ever so gently you need to write so as not to tear the paper with your nib. 

 Simple pretty lettering. Beautiful leaves with the last colors of the almost barren Fall colored trees, one last sprig of a rose all tied up with a string. You're set.

Lay it out gently on your place setting and wait for your lovely guests to arrive.  

Take a lovely picture, and tag your friend. "Dear Lovely Friend, I made you something to brighten your day. XoXo" 

 What do I love most about this pretty setup? It's imperfections. It's perfectly imperfect. 


Persimmon Pudding Cake

Persimmons are like some mysterious, mythological fruit. I bought some, with no plan in mind, and put them in a bowl to display on my table to let them rippen. I gave them no thought. I had no idea what I would do with them other than to figure that out once they were ripe enough to use. They sat in that bowl for a few weeks before they were soft enough to use. And then I sat looking at them, wondering what to do with them. A tart? A cake? A pudding? A pie? I had no idea what to do. But I recalled that I had made a pudding when I was studying culinary arts in school. Researching recipes landed me right back to where I thought I'd end up. A pudding was on the to-do list. I combined a few different recipe ideas and used my gluten free ingredients so that my daughter could enjoy it. It turned out beautiful, and she enjoyed every bite she could get. I'll count that as a win!

 As I cut into them I was fascinated by the fact that they are seedless. Or are they? I think they are. I used 6 of them, and came across no seeds or pits, though there was a tough inner part where you see  star pattern when you cut them across their width. It got me to wondering how they grow these, and cultivate an orchard of Persimmon trees. Do they take cuttings and foster those into more trees? They must! I must research this. Curiosity is getting the better of me.
 After I had cut up the Persimmons into chunks, I pureed them in my Ninja and used Rice and Oat Flours in place of wheat that all the recipes called for. Most of the recipes that I read called to for baking it in a square baking dish, but I decided to go a bit more fancy and baked it in a bundt cake pan. It turned out very pretty. The pudding turned out like a very moist cake! 
This would definitely make a wonderful holiday dessert with some Apple Cider or coffee. Please enjoy the recipe following the photograph.

 Gluten Free Persimmon Pudding Cake

2 Cups of Persimmon puree
2 Cups of sugar
2 Eggs
1 1/3 Cups Coconut Milk
1 Tsp Vanilla
1 Cup of Rice Flour
1/2 Cup of Oat Flour
1 Tsp Baking Powder
1/2 Tsp Baking Soda
1/4 Tsp Salt
1/2 Tsp Cinnamon

  • Spray your bundt pan thoroughly with cooking spray. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 
  • In a mixing bowl whisk together your dry ingredients and set aside. 
  • In another bowl stir together your wet ingredients, except for the coconut milk. 
  • Add in your dry ingredients, and stir to combine. 
  • Slowly stir in your coconut milk until combined. 
  • Pour the batter into your bundt pan and spread evenly. 
  • Set in the oven and bake for about an hour, or until a skewer comes out clean. Let set for a few minutes, and then flip it onto a platter while still warm. 
  • Let it cool. Serve with whipped cream or a simple powder sugar icing.



When Fun Stuff Happens

Are you one of those people who loves to go Flea Market shopping or Thrift shopping?
I love it. It's fun to find new and different things. My mind seems to always be in this mode of curious creative mode, where I look at something and think, "What can I make with that? It's so neat!" I just had a flash to the Little Mermaid, with her collection of Thinga-ma-bobs.

I had found this amazing length of wool fabric. There were several ideas that came to mind, but nothing that I could really place in my "I NEED to make that!" category. My friend, though, had an idea for a checkerboard mat for beach play which I think is going to turn out awesome and will be tons of fun for her and her boys!

Have you ever tried to paint on wool??? Oh my, I had no idea what it would be like. The wool absorbs the paint almost completely so several coats are needed. Wool is amazingly absorbent!

The extra fabric end I used to make this gorgeous pillow with crocheted edging. How beautiful are all the bright colors!
Can't you see this popping on a white couch or bedding?
  Perfect! I'm surprised by my fondness for brights, but I'm loving how lively they are.

Check out the Shop to purchase this beauty!


Decorating on a Dime~ Fall Foliage Table

We're heading into that time of year when tables are being prepared for guests and we're laying out our best for our guests. But what if you are just the everyday Joe or Jane, and you can't afford fancy tablescapes and new dishes for every dinner party and holiday? 

With a little bit of creativity you can bring together something lovely for nothing more than the cost of your time and a little energy. 

 We started with what we had:
  • Plastic "Paper" Plates that we had from Target, but you could also just use regular paper plates
  •  Mason jars and baby food jars
  • Seasonal fruits from the fridge
  • Seasonal Fall Foliage, collected from the yard and a bike trail
 We collected some of the last blossoms from our rose bushes and some other seasonal plants, leaves and branches. The trick is to pick a color palate and try to work that into what you know you will be able to collect. Leaves are turning and some berries are coming into season. By collecting them and pairing them with the roses that were similar colors we were able to keep a color scheme going throughout our table decor.

 We made a large bouquet for the middle of the table and set each seat with their own little bouquet nestled inside a babyfood jar. You don't have to be super fancy to make it super elegant. If you make your jars full enough and use different heights the jars are barely noticeable.

The sweet and fun thing about this idea is that your friends and family will be in awe of your ingenuity, and you won't mind sending your guests home with a sweet bouquet of their very own when the night comes to a close.  

 For each place, as I mentioned before, we use a large pumpkin leaf. If you use this idea, you'll want to wait until the very last minute to set your plates on your leaves. Either wait until the last minute to cut them from your plants, (or tree, as large Fig leaves would also serve for this purpose), or keep your leaves soaking in a sink of water to keep them fresh. Pat them dry and spread them as flat as you can to put your place setting on each leaf.

A variety of different flowers, different colors and textures of leaves, and different height and sizes can give each little bouquet it's own personality and add interest to your table.

You could also add a handwritten name card for each person if you are interested in seating people in specific places, then they have the joy of finding what special and unique little posies are at their very own place setting.

Above all, enjoy the process. Start with tall pieces in the middle and make it pretty from each side so that your guests can enjoy your bouquets from where ever they are seated. 
Here's to celebrating the Holiday Seasons!

I've linked up at Tater Tots and Jello! Be sure to check out the great party going on over there.


Liturgical Wheel Giveaway!

It could be your lucky day! I have joined with Catholic Sistas to giveaway to one lucky person one of my Liturgical Wheels. 

It could be YOU

Head over to Catholic Sistas to enter to win.  

Good Luck!


Comes the Season of Giving...

Hello dear friends. It's nearly Halloween and if you haven't been out of the house in a while, you're probably the only one who hasn't noticed that Christmas decor is starting to show up already. Seriously, right?! It's not even Halloween yet! But you and I both know that that is coming quickly.

I've come into a tradition of sorts, myself, of making my kids each a gift and then adding in something to read, something they want, and something they can wear. And of course family and friends will spoil them rotten ;) I'd like to invite you to do something similar with your own family! It makes the shopping experience so much more enjoyable and easy. Please consider shopping Handmade as well. I've reopened my little Shop for the holiday season and am excited to accept some requests for unique items or one-of-a-kind gifts that you have in mind for your special someone. 
 You'll find some of these pictured items in my shop, and can send me a quick note if you have an idea in mind! I'm happy to work with you and give you something special. Also, any item purchased, the proceeds go back into my family's pocket to help provide them with a little something extra that they otherwise might not get to enjoy.

Hope you'll give the shop a visit!


Near + Dear.

 It's a very special day for so many families. This is a day when families are able to bring awareness to the fact that they have lost a loved one very dear to them...They've had to endure a most sensitive pain, that of losing a child. When you lose a baby to miscarriage or infant loss, it is a pain like no other and often leaves mothers and fathers feeling alone in their grief. It is the loss of a future you thought you had to look forward to. It lasts a lifetime-- the wondering what would have been, who this little person would have been, and who you would become after knowing this person. Take a moment to share your story with someone that you know has recently lost a baby so that they know they are not alone.

It's been many years since I lost my baby, it was December 5th of 2008. I still remember it like it was yesterday. The intense pain has passed, but the sense of loss will always be there. Thomas Christopher will always be a part of our family.

You can read my story, and how I worked through my grief by following this link.

Today, I'll be praying for you fellow mommies and friends. 


Hey there, Today.

The last few weeks have been really full of taking care of kid needs, so the crafty goodness and fun ideas that have been floating around in my head have been added to my "to-get-to" list, and eventually will take fruition. On days like this one, what I can manage is to get us all where we need to go when we need to be there and try to take in the beauty of the moments when they present themselves. Is it that way for you, too, my dear friends?
We rushed through the farmers market the other day because one of my kids anxiety was rearing it's head, but I needed those few minutes of fresh air, to see something different than our four walls and to see that Autumn is peaking through the morning fog and shinning on the beautiful things that come with the season. Sometimes that is good enough!
Autumn and all it brings are bright and vibrant with colors that are deep and magical, rich in flavor and make you think outside the box a bit, which I love.

Something I read just recently spoke to my heart, about finding contentment where we're at in our daily mundane. The thing is that that is the real, the true, the essence of life. Living in the moments of mundane well. So, for today, we're taking on what we can and letting go of the "extraordinary", to live in the now and do it well. It's all you can do, and it's good.
Hey there, Today. I'm going to live you well. 


The Butcher

 Last weekend my sister and I took an hour away from the kids and went to wander downtown Petaluma. There is an awesome array of little stores and shops, to include a little butcher shop called Thistle Meats. We were walking on the opposite side of the street and saw their pig out front to indicate that their shop was open. It was Sunday, so many places were closed. We crossed and stood and stared in the window, and were waved in by the friendly folks inside. It was fun. A very open space with their small cases in the front and behind their work area where you can watch them prepping their meats. It was one of those places where you could go and just have a conversation with some nice people. Oh, and buy some really amazing meat. There were things I'd never seen or heard of before. I love places like that.
 It gives me a good opportunity to expand my own knowledge of available foods and to come up with interesting new recipes. And it helps me to stay up to date with a field that I love--Culinary Arts and the Restaurant Industry. I may or may not ever end up back there, but I have a deep love and appreciation for all things food. Perhaps food styling? That would be dreamy.
 A midst the Duck legs and pate, salami's and sausages, there was this meat item I didn't recognize. It was fascinating. Ground meat wrapped in what looked like sausage casing, and flattened like a burger. "Let's try it," said my sister. And so the fellow picked one out and wrapped it up.

Atriaux are made ​​of minced meat of pork, liver chopped pork, parsley and spices, all formed into pellets and packed together. 

 I had to look up how to cook it. It can be cooked like a burger in a pan, with some water. Or in a lovely white wine. Guess which I chose.

 It smelled amazing while it was cooking. All those fresh herbs, mixed with wine. It smelled amazing.

I imagine that it would make some amazing meatballs, of a sort, to go over some pasta with a white sauce. It may be something to look forward to in the near future. 

What is the most unique food item that you've tried lately? I'm always up for trying something new.


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