Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A couple of new items in the shop!

I just wanted to share these. I personally think they are adorable and am planning on stuffing some with beauty products to give as gifts to some ladies/girls.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Thanksgiving is near

Last year was the first time that I had ever cooked a turkey or hosted a Thanksgiving dinner. I spent the entire week beforehand prepping, cooking, cleaning. Needless to say, it was a LOT of work. So, this year, while we are hosting Thanksgiving again, we're doing it more of a potluck style. However, after the rave reviews from last year, I will be making my turkey, gravy, and stuffing again. While I'm hesitant to share my recipes since I don't want everyone in the world making MY turkey, who am I to keep it from you? Besides, I got it off the Internet and everything is better when shared with friends, right?

Turn turkey naysayers into turkey lovers with this Cider-Brined and Glazed Turkey from Bon Appetit, November 2005.

4 quarts apple cider, divided
1 1/2 cups kosher salt
1/4 cup whole allspice
8 bay leaves
4 quarts cold water
1 20-pound turkey (neck and gizzard reserved)

Sage Broth
2 cups low-salt chicken broth
1/2 onion, quartered
1 celery stalk, cut into 4 pieces
8 fresh sage leaves

2 cups apple cider
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

3 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 tablespoons fresh sage leaves
1/4 cup applejack brandy or Calvados
1/4 cup whipping cream

For brine:
Simmer 1 quart apple cider, salt, allspice, and bay leaves in 20-quart pot 5 minutes, stirring often. Cool completely. Add remaining 3 quarts cider and 4 quarts water. Place turkey in brine. Cover and refrigerate overnight.Drain turkey and rinse. Arrange on several layers of paper towels in roasting pan. Refrigerate uncovered overnight.

For broth:

Simmer all ingredients in large saucepan 30 minutes. Strain sage broth into bowl.

For glaze:
Boil cider in saucepan until reduced to 1/4 cup, about 15 minutes. Whisk in butter. Cool completely.Set rack at lowest position in oven; preheat to 350°F. Remove paper towels from roasting pan. Pat main and neck cavities of turkey dry; stuff loosely with stuffing. Place turkey in pan, tuck wings under, and tie legs together loosely. Roast turkey 1 hour. Brush with some of glaze. Roast until beginning to brown, about 1 hour. Cover with foil. Roast until thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 175°F, brushing with glaze every 30 minutes and adding up to 1 cup water to pan if drippings begin to burn, about 3 hours longer. Transfer turkey to platter; tent with foil. Let stand 30 minutes.

For gravy:

Pour pan juices into large measuring cup. Spoon off fat. Reserve 3 tablespoons fat and degreased juices. Pour sage broth into roasting pan. Bring to boil, scraping up browned bits. Combine flour, sage leaves, and reserved 3 tablespoons fat in heavy large saucepan; stir over medium heat 1 minute. Whisk in broth from roasting pan and reserved pan juices. Add applejack and cream and boil until gravy thickens slightly, whisking often, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Strain into sauceboat. Serve turkey with gravy.
Simmer all ingredients in large saucepan 30 minutes. Strain sage broth into bowl.

Also a Bon Appetit recipe (November 2003) is my family-award-winning Italian Sausage and Parmesan Cheese stuffing. I changed it up quite a bit, though.

12 cups 1/2-inch cubes french-sourdough bread (from two 14.5-ounce loaves)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound Italian HOT sausages, casings removed (do yourself a favor and just buy the ground sausage)
3 cups chopped onions
1 cup chopped celery with leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 cup coarsely grated Parmesan cheese1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
2 large eggs, beaten to blend
1 cup low-salt chicken broth

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread bread cubes on large rimmed baking sheet. Bake until bread is dry, about 15 minutes. Transfer to large bowl and cool. Maintain oven temperature.

Generously butter 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add sausages and sauté 5 minutes, breaking up with back of fork. Saute until cooked through. Using slotted spoon, transfer sausage mixture to bowl with bread cubes. Add 1 tablespoon oil to same skillet. Add onions and next 4 ingredients; sauté until onions and celery are tender but not brown, about 10 minutes. Add onion mixture to bread cubes. Stir in 3/4 cup Parmesan, parsley, salt, and pepper. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Mix eggs and broth into stuffing; transfer to baking dish. Cover dish with foil. Bake 40 minutes. Uncover; sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan and bake until top begins to brown, about 20 minutes.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

My turn to rant: Target

So, the Better Business Bureau won't accept my complaint and Target has turned a blind eye to this issue.

I was one of the many people that Target has decided to upset by not honoring the price tag for a Britax Marathon car seat. It was shown as being priced at $42.99 with free shipping on their web site. A super fantastic deal. I placed my order and received a confirmation e-mail. The next day, I checked my order and from Target's account page, at one point it was there and later in the day it was gone. I later received this e-mail from Target:

Greetings from

Due to an unexpected error, the following item(s) you have ordered
were incorrectly priced at the time of your order.

Britax Marathon Convertible Car Seat - Granite

We're sorry, but we are unable to offer this item for the incorrect
price. The correct price is $279.99. We have canceled your order for
this item. If you would like to order this item at the correct price,
please visit to check for availability.

Despite our best efforts, a small number of items on our site are
occasionally mis-priced. We do, however, verify prices as part of our
shipping procedures. If we discover that an item's correct price is
higher than our stated price, we will either contact you for
instructions before shipping or cancel your order and notify you of
the cancellation. This pricing policy is posted in the Help section

Again, we're sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused
you. Thank you for being our valued guest.


Guest Service Department
WHAT? You know, I don't really feel like a valued guest right now. I feel like I've been duped. You offer something on your Web site, you honor the price. Mistakes happen to everyone. If I incorrectly priced something on my Etsy shop, do you think I could turn around and tell the buyer "oops, sorry!" NO. I couldn't and I WOULDN'T. It is an ethical issue to me. I respect my buyers and it is obvious that Target is indeed a corporation and cares about one thing, their bottom line.

So, bye Target. No holiday shopping for me or my family there and I encourage others to do the same. Buy handmade, buy local, buy from the small folks.

Another gift post....for the ladies in your lives

If you are a part of my family and/or are expecting to receive a Christmas gift from me, STOP READING NOW. If you read and your present is spoiled, too bad, you were given fair warning.
I have a girlfriend that makes absolutely beautiful and gorgeous jewelry. I've received three pieces now and they are all TOP quality and absolutely beautiful. She has a beautiful sense of style and uses only the highest quality of materials and her prices are still very reasonable. Items range from about $7 to $100, something for everyone. So, if you are in the market for jewelry and you want to buy handmade and/or mama made, please visit Jenlight at Polestar on Etsy.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Give the gift of.....

If you are a part of my family and/or are expecting to receive a Christmas gift from me, STOP READING NOW. If you read and your present is spoiled, too bad, you were given fair warning.
I guess I need to start thinking about *gasp* CHRISTMAS GIFTS.

Anyways...on to gift giving. As I'm sure most of you know, I'm alllll about giving the handmade, but it just isn't always practical OR the right gift. Take both of my children for instance. They love plastic much to my dismay. Last year I made Elise a stuffed cat for Christmas and they have barely looked at it twice. And sometimes, you just have to pick up something that you know without an absolute doubt that the receiver will LOVE.

I tend to put together gift baskets for family that is far away and also for Jeff's employees and coworkers. This year, I plan on giving lots of Grounds for Change coffee and mugs. Jeff and I have been so lucky to have dinner a couple of times with the family behind this tremendous organization and I can tell you, both the family (I'll try to keep some of their anonymity) and the business is top notch. You couldn't be friends with nicer and more giving folks.

We recently hosted dinner at our house for a get together with them and afterwards, they sent us a fantastic sampling of their coffee. It arrived the day after it was roasted. Serious. Comparing it to the beans I already had, this coffee is of the highest quality. Two of the roasts that I've sampled so far are their Solstice blend and their Cafe Femenino blend. And I have it from the best source (a friend that I sent the mug to) that their mugs are awesome (and also locally made to us).

I've had a lot of coffee in my life. I've been drinking it ever since I could sneak snips and while I wouldn't say I was an expert, anyone that loves coffee would appreciate something from Grounds for Change. They also have items for tea lovers, too.

Seriously, I cannot praise this company and group enough. They are huge supporters of the environment and give back soooo much. If you give coffee this year, give Grounds for Change. I know that I will. I couldn't imagine handing over a Starbuck's gift card when I could give this.

WHAT a Week!

Both of the girls have some sort of stomach bug and Jeff and I were serenaded with (please turn away if you are easily offended) synchronized throwing up by Elise and Darsie at 2:55am today. Elise has been throwing up once or twice a day for the last three days or so and Darsie succumbed to the evilness last night. I'm hoping they are both on the mend. No more upchucks since this morning.

A reminder to everyone - BACK UP YOUR COMPUTER'S HARD DRIVE(s). I installed some software on my computer so I could connect to the new external hard drive that we bought last weekend and somehow it totally jacked up my OS. I couldn't start it up so I had to do an archive & install. I was crying at the thought of losing months of photos and hours upon hours of freelance design work. I seriously did, on the phone, with Jeff. Luckily, I was able to recover everything and have been backing up everything all today.

On another note. Does anybody have a Mac Mini? I'm working on a seriously old OS here (10.2) and a lot of web features and new programs/hardware just won't work with my computer (hence the back-up warning above). I'm torn between just updating my OS (think noisy fan/hard drive) or getting a new system. My real issue is that I have thousands of dollars worth of design software that I cannot upgrade and will not work on a new OS. It is sort of like being stuck between a rock and a hard place. I NEED to upgrade or buy a new system but the money issue really sucks. I did pick up a new freelance job this week which should help but GAH! I need new software NOW, too.

Oh well. My girls are relatively healthy, Jeff is healthy, I'm healthy. I really do not have anything to complain about.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Because NOBODY Can Resist Halloween Costumes on Kids!

Botox Update

In other news, we've decided to go with sedation when D gets her Botox injections. After much thought, advice and talks with other parents, it is just the best route for us to go with her. It can take up to 30 days for insurance approval, so I'll keep updating when we know more. Thanks so much for everyone's words of encouragement with this process.

A New Addition to Etsy

I just wanted to share these new additions to my Etsy shop. I've also got a couple of different style of wallets in the works as well.

Forecast of Rain Bag

Fishing for Compliments Messenger Bag

Free shipping for the entire month of November on any of my items.

I love "designing" new patterns. I think sewing is so enjoyable and it really stretches my brain to work in ways that it usually doesn't need to. I am now thinking of myself as "part engineer/part mama". I love that someone can take a flat piece of cotton and construct it into so many forms and variations. It is pretty amazing.