Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Wine Time

When we lived up in Chicagoland we often took trips to the wineries that were just over the border in Michigan Wine Country. We would make a day of it with a few friends. Tasting wines from the sweetest dessert wines, to great dry reds. Some of the wineries hosted getaways with wine pairing as the theme. Though we never did one of the weekends, they sounded like fun.

Now that we are in Florida, we like to host our own wine pairing dinners. Where we select a wine and find great dishes that compliments its flavors. Using the wine grades as our guide we try to pick wines that are scored above 90, but we do occasionally give the underdogs a try. Sometimes we just go in and pick a wine just by looking at the label, by picking that way believe it or not we have found some really great ones. Price is another contender when we are picking wines for our parties. You can easily find fabulous wines for under 20 dollars.
Half the fun is picking out the wines, but once we pop open the corks, that is when we really start having fun. Sharing the bottles with friends helps us determine the different subtle flavors in the bottle. We have mini wine reviews and have some good laughs too.
Wine parties can be fun, have your friends bring two bottles to the party. One bottle can be shared as you share stories, and the other can be a take home for another person. That way everyone goes home with a different bottle of wine.
Tell me about your wine parties, have you found any great wines for under $20?

Even my socks are Eco-friendly

On a whim I purchased a pair of socks with my Keen hiking shoes a few weeks ago. I have had plenty of time to try them out. I first wore the combo to New Orleans, where it was the hottest day I can remember. It would have been a day that my keen flip flops would have been great. However, I had on my teko socks and keen hiking shoes. While the rest of me was unbearably hot, my feet were not. They are so comfortable. I would recommend them to all my friends, and I will be buying a few more pairs for my new walking regimen. I can't say enough about these socks.
Teko is a eco-friendly company too. They use recycled polyester in their product, which in turn uses something that already exists, and reduces new products (pollutants) from being produced. As a manufacture they do use electricity, but to counter act that they buy wind credits to offset some of their electric use. They use recycled materials for their packaging. So you can pop it into the recycling bin when you unwrap those fantastic socks. Drumroll please.... as stated on the website in the "walking the talk" section they like to keep manufactures here in the USA busy, they have a factory right here on American soil in Mount Airy, North Carolina. I think I will buy stock in these socks!
If you need a good pair of socks, check them out, they are worth a few extra bucks.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Your daily Grind - More Green

Coffee sleeves are routinely used at coffee shops, you know the ones they are cardboard, dull and brown. Every time we go we say no to the coffee cozy that the barista is slipping over the cup. The other day we were grabbing a cup of joe at Starbucks and I asked the girl to leave off the sleeve, and she looked at me as if I were crazy. Then she asked if I would like a double cup instead. So I handed her the cloth reusable coffee sleeve and she effortlessly slipped it on to the cup. She said she loved the cloth sleeve, and could not believe that I made it.
I have a ton of these coffee sleeves in all sorts of recycled fabrics. They make great gifts for the office, or an addition to a gift basket or a little extra in the form of a tie on for the top of a pretty package. If you know a daily coffee drinker, and I know you do, this might just tickle their fancy. Many of the sleeves are just tossed out with the trash, despite the fact that they could be recycled. Why not just skip the trash and use your fashionable cloth coffee sleeve. Keep your eye on Threadbeaur I will be stocking the shop with new bags, and coffee sleeves all week. Of course, if you are looking for a bunch of the coffee sleeves email with the details.

Saturday Blues

So the craft fair was shaping up to be good. All the vendors buzzed around the lot setting, and resetting their goods, until they had it just right. The temperature at 9 in the morning was reaching 90 degrees and the humidity felt like 100%. It was hot. So after fixing the displays I sat down for a much needed rest, and some water. Our location was the best thing about the day. My booth over looked the bay, and we watched the dolphins swimming and the pelicans flying. That was really the highlight of the day. The only thing that went was a few business cards, and I mean just a few. The parking set up for the show was not great. The vendors were able to park in the lot close to the tents, and the visitors to the show had to park across the street. The street happened to be a 4 lane divided highway... So you can imagine that it would take a bit to cross the road, and people seeing that probably just kept on driving. I think about 60 visitors total passed my booth, which is not very many. I was highly disappointed, as were the vendors just beside me.
So when we saw the storm clouds rolling in around 3:30 we really hoped for rain. When all the other vendors started packing up we did too. All in all, it was a long hot day, with not much more than a business card passed out.
At least we got to watch the dolphins.

Friday, September 25, 2009

PhunFest is upon us.

The car is packed with my table, two chairs, tent, and my inventory for the craft show. They are expecting to have 2,000 visitors to the show on Saturday September 26th. My inventory includes a ton of reusable bags and some coffee sleeves. I am sure I will have enough, and the ones that don't find new homes during the PhunFest will come home with me and find their way up to my shop on etsy. The weather man says that the rain should hold off until later in the afternoon, so we are hoping he is right for a change.

With only a few last minute things to do like fill the cooler with some water, ice and a few snacks, we are ready to go. I hope that it is as busy as they think it will be. I have been told there will be some great music, and other great vendors at Navarre Beach. So if you are out that way, stop by and say hello!

Blogging for Money

A friend sent me a link today to a great site that shows you how you can be blogging for money. I update my blog almost daily, as my readers will know, and this site I was directed to could help fund my blog through advertising. Who would like to investigate that, right? Well, I am going to check it out. The page even offers the opportunity to blog for charity instead. They have a few great causes that can always use funding.
Learning how to make money blogging can benefit you or if you wish a charity. Either way it seems like it might be a good idea. If you don't have a blog, you can start a new blog through the site. They seem to have all the bases covered!
This community is a revenue sharing community, and they share half! I think by signing up with them you would get more readers to come to your blog, which is really the reward. I am always looking for places to advertise my blog, and get people to come to read. Maybe this site could help in that. I will just have to see. Thanks to my friends, they are always on the lookout for new sites.

Interior Design: not just for the pros.

The living room was looking a little drab the other day. Less than functional, and it was time for a change. I need to change it around so that it was fresh. I was not buying furniture online, it was time to rearrange. Not to say there aren't a few pieces of furniture that I am drooling over, but we are decorating on a budget, and sometimes you just need to move the furniture around for a fresh perspective. So I cleared out the room, mostly, and cleaned the area. I brought the couch back in first and placed it in a different location. Already I could see what a difference it was going to make. With a few more small moves, and perfect placement of the throw rug I had a brand new living room.
Interior design is not only for professionals, this simple transformation made my day. When M got home from work he noticed immediately and loved it! And since the day that I changed the furniture around, we have used the living room more than any other room in the house! It went from a room that we did not like, or use (wasted space) to the best sitting area in the house.
So next time your space looks a little dull, try something new. A different layout might be exactly what you need. Don't let that couch stick to the wall, try moving it out in the middle of the room. Couple it with an antique trunk, and a modern end table, perhaps you will be surprised with your eclectic look. Move that furniture around and get a completely new look, it is worth the effort.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Under Lock and Key

I had an idea for a modern way to store fabric. Something fresh. All the colors could be separated into lockers. Yes, like your old style gym locker. Or a fresh look with one that has a great see through front. So all your happy fabrics could be seen without opening the door. I think this might look really neat in a studio setting. Can you imagine having an entire wall dedicated to fabric stored in fabulous see through lockers. You could have lockers specifically for scraps of each color, then you would always know that they were ready for the next project.
There are so many ways to organize fabric and unfinished projects I could go on forever. I need a separate space for all the unfinished quilt tops, and those that have been backed and not quilted. I think I would choose wood lockers for my projects. They look great and it would keep the dust off of them. Wether your studio is modern, small, larger or somewhere in between, a fabric locker could be the next big thing in fabric storage! Then again maybe it is just fleeting idea.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

What's in the Pot?

Since our move down here and the catastrophe that was the avocado plant my green thumb days were limited. Now that weather permits I have started my seed experiments again. My dreams of large outdoor planters with my avocados thriving are a thing of the past. Now I interested in a several garden planters where I can start seeds from palms, and some of the fruits and veggies that I buy at the store. There are so many different palm trees that I will need to invest in planters that are not too expensive to start, but once the seeds start popping up I would love to get a few of the high end planters for my prize palms. Our yard does not have a ton of space for this sort of experimentation in the ground, so the planters are the way to go. For the more delicate plants that might need a little shelter from a freeze will be planted in an indoor planter that can easily be moved outside when the freezing weather has passed.

In the next few years, I hope to have a supply of small palms to take to our next home. They do take some time to become established, but if I leave them in the planters they will be much easier to transplant when the time comes. Of course, if you have any tips about plants, and palms, let me know. My thumb is not as green as I would like. I am off to fill some planters with soil and a few seeds that I got last time I was at my parents house! I hope the seeds take to their new home.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Are you a Pastry Chef?

I am not a pastry chef, but I do love fresh made cheese danish. I wanted to try and make a few of these for a fun breakfast treat. I searched the Internet and found and easy to do recipe for great tasting cheese danish. Much to my surprise, with the help of some frozen pastry dough, they were really simple to make. The name says it all Easy Cheese Danish recipe.

I picked up the needed supplies at the store on Friday so that we could have just out of the oven delights on Saturday.
I followed the recipe as written on the food network, but I did put the cheese filling in the frig for about 20 minutes since I forgot to thaw the pastry dough. Once the dough was warm enough to unfold, I continued with the recipe as written. I cut the dough into quarters and filled like this.

By this time I was getting too hungry. I skipped the step that says chill for 20 minutes once the pastry is filled. I just could not wait any longer. So into the oven went the pan, and 20 minutes later I had warm cheese danish. I added a little icing just like my favorite bakery. It is just a quarter cup of confectioners' sugar and a teaspoon of water, but it is so so good.
For a twist you can add a little jam just before baking, and that would be really great too! Next time I will give that a try.

Monday, September 21, 2009

What's Cooking

Over the weekend we had some culinary delights. From dinner on Friday night that was meatloaf muffins with homegrown green beans (compliments of the neighbor), to the cheese danish experiment for breakfast.

The meatloaf muffins we have had before, but they are one of M's favorite comfort food dishes. I got the recipe from online of course. You can check out meatloaf muffins for yourself. Next time you are in the mood for some comfort food give them a try. A fun new twist on an old favorite.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Recovering can be fun

We had an old chair from Ikea. The kimsta looks like the Poang only it has no head pillow. I decided that we could recover the seat and it would be perfect in the nursery. I did not like any of the covers that Ikea sold, so I took my color scheme of brown and blue and went searching for some fabric. I found the perfect print for the room. Modern, not too kiddie.
The task of recovering started with examining the old cover, and with a few quick sketches we had a plan. I was going to sew it like a big pillow sham. I did not want to have to do the zipper, so in the back the fabric over laps like a pillow sham.
It was coming together smoothly, but when we gave it a try on the chair the top was a little too big.
Not to fret, with a quick zip across where the back and head connect, the bulkiness was eliminated, and the cover fits nicely.
I really like the way it looks in the room, and I guess that is what matters most!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

On Task

One of the best items I have is my pocket calendar. This small but useful object keeps me on task, and I never forget appointments. I, however, would like one for the house that the entire family can use. We can put up game night, meetings, appointments. It would be a great place to write down every ones chores for the week, too. Everything that keeps the household running. We would use it at the nerve center of the house. I really like the idea of a dry erase calendar, one that can be updated easily when appointments changes, no more pencil erasing all over the place. Yes, we change our calendar that often.

The dry erase calendar can be put up on any wall surface, and can be customized, another really great feature for me. Why not use a great photo for your calendar background. One of the best features of a dry erase calendar is that it is reusable! Of course, it is eco friendly. You can just erase last months happenings and then you have a clean slate for next month. Add the meetings as they arise, and you will be super organized! No more throwing out last years calendar. One less thing to clutter your desk, if you are like me there is no room on the desk for a calendar anyway. I think it is the perfect solution to staying on task and keeping the house running smoothly.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Full View

Well now that the recipient of the project has gotten it. I can reveal it in full.

This small quilt measures about 45 by 45 and I think will be perfect for a new little girl. It could be a playmat, picnic blanket, or just something to tug around the house. I used the fabric from my stash, the black, which is no doubt vintage, and the fun green with small pink ants crawling around it!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Rainy Day Crafting

Today I got all my errands done before noon. The only bad thing about that is that there was a monsoon rain storm as I was walking out of the grocery store! I parked my buggy under the over hang, and ran through the puddles in the parking lot to the very furthest spot where the car was waiting. I jumped in the car and drove to the front of the store. The rain was just coming down as hard as I have ever seen it. Once out of the Santa Fe I opened the back hatch and used it as a shield from the rain until I could run to the buggy under the protection of the overhang. Grabbed my cloth grocery bags and ran back to the car. That took about a minute or two maybe. I pulled down on the hatch to close it and as I did a gallon of water that had collected in the well that holds my license plate came gushing down on me! I was then really soaked! Time to go home and put on the PJs and do some crafting.

Now I have Pandora playing the Bishop Allen station and I am making bags. My inventory is increasing, and now I am enjoying this rainy day! What is your favorite thing to do on a rainy day? Crafts, movies, other ideas?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

New Family and Finance

With a new baby on the way it is the perfect time to improve credit ratings. This way you will be prepared for what will come after baby arrives. We are getting our finances back in order so that we will be ready for any unexpected expenses that may arise with our first child. Bad credit can be hard to get under control and getting back to the the right track can also be difficult. But it is worth the time and effort to fix your credit. Whether you are struggling with foreclosures, credit card debit, or were the victim of identity theft there are people that can help you. I saw over at Ovation Credit that they have several ways to help you out of a jam.
Getting a plan is the first place to start, and you can help with all your credit repair needs. It is better to just get started right away, the longer you wait the worse off your credit can get. Even now in this down economy you can fix your credit.

Clean Slate

Here we are starting a new adventure. It is time to decorate the nursery for a baby boy. We are starting with a clean slate, and with a few gallons of paint (no VOC paint of course) and some free furniture we will see what we can do. A co-worker gave us, yes, gave us some great things for the nursery including a crib, dresser/changing table, clothes, and other goodies. This is what we are starting with, and when we progress I will drop in a few new pictures.
The adventure begins here.

Friday, September 11, 2009

What was the address again?

We were in New Orleans last weekend, and while we were there we walked the streets to look at all the old buildings. I noticed that many of the buildings were adorned with fabulous address plaques. Mostly they were made of dark metal they looked great and gave the historic buildings even more charm. I really liked the look of the home address plaques. I think our house would look great with a wall address plaque. Something classic with a modern flair! The house number and street name, or maybe our last name. That is something to think about. Which will I pick, address plaques with numbers, or one with our name.

Like the one at the hotel where we stayed, it was bronze, and had the name of the hotel, and when it was built! I don't think we need to go that far, since our house is not historic, but none the less the plaques were a unique way of having the address on the wall, without the stick on numbers!

Becoming a Bag

In a few short days this will be my newest bag for the shop. This great old blackeye pea sack has been revamped into a shopping tote. This I think would be great for the market. Of course, nobody will have one just like it! The printing on the bag is still sharp, and dark. It would make a perfect gift for your California friends! Watch for it in the threadbeaur shop, or if you just have to have it, let me know, and I can list it just for you! For the strap, which I will be putting on this afternoon, I will use a khaki colored fabric, and the recycled red sheet. What a great way to re purpose items headed for the dump, now this has a second chance as a unique fashion friendly shopping bag.

Unpack the tent

Since we moved in our camping equipment has been collecting dust. It was just to hot here to do any camping. A fall trip to North Carolina might be just what we need. We will miss the fall color from the midwest, but a camping trip to see a little fall foliage and enjoy some cooler weather sounds like the perfect remedy. Not that I am complaining, I love being back in the warm weather. Recently some friends went to NC rv parks, and they said that it was just fantastic. The parks were clean and fun. Of course there is the task of choosing the right rv park NC for you. We are always on the look out for the places that accept pets, since our big dog likes to go on vacation too, we don't want her to be left out. She loves making s'mores at night around the campfire!

Wether you are tent camping or traveling by rv, you will have your choice of RV park North Carolina. So dust off that camping gear and head on out for a fall trip to see the leaves change color. So much to see, so little time.