Sunday, November 21, 2010

Winner of the Drawing!

Hello everyone!  Life is starting to get busy, now that we are getting into the holiday season!  I have most of my Christmas shopping done already, and am getting ready for family to arrive for Thanksgiving.  As such, I have had no time for crafting whatsoever.  I am missing it!  Hopefully once Thanksgiving is over, I will have some time before Christmas to do some stuff.  I got some new Spellbinder circle dies that I've been eying at Craft Warehouse, and since I had a 40% off coupon I splurged and got them.  So now I'm anxious to use them!

But onto the important stuff- the drawing for a 4-pack of bookmarks!  I had entries from the holiday bazaar a couple of weeks ago, as well as some entries from here on my blog.  A few people got double entries for following my blog, and for that I thank you!  All of the entries were combined, and one lucky winner was drawn.  And it is.....Heather!  Congratulations, Heather!  Heather entered my drawing at the holiday bazaar, and being that she is the mom of one of my daughter's best friends, she will be easy to find to give her prize!  Thanks so much to everyone else for entering!  Please be sure to check back, because this is the third giveaway I've done, and I plan to do more in the future, so you may get lucky yet!

Take care everyone, and have a great Thanksgiving!  I'll be back next time with a new Kitchen Creation that is good for the holidays, and if I have time to do any crafting between now and then, I"ll post what I come up with then!  Ciao!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

1-Flower Bookmark Launch and a New Kitchen Creation: Chicken Tikka Masala

Well, I hope everyone has remembered to enter the GIVEAWAY for a four-pack of bookmarks of your choice!  Instructions to enter are HERE.  Only one more week to enter and win!

Last weekend at the holiday bazaar, I caught up with my friend Michele, who I haven't really seen much of in awhile.  It was really fun!  I have known her for several years- she was my son's kindergarten teacher, and being that she has a stepson the same age, we found that we had a lot in common and became friends when the boys were young.  My daughter also had her for kindergarten, but since Michele still has young kids, we don't see a lot of each other anymore.  I totally get it....when my kids were young (4-6) I barely had time to sleep and go to the bathroom!  Anyway, in addition to teaching, she also sells Avon, and had a great table at the holiday bazaar.  She got a couple of bookmarks from me, and asked for a custom one with blue dragonflies for a gift for another friend.  Well, I can do that, no problem!
I actually used sliver for the bodies, but the rest are  in lovely shades of dark and light blue.  You can't tell in the picture, but the paper I used has an iridescent finish.  I really like how it came out!

I finally have my 1-flower bookmarks listed in my Etsy shop, and will soon be adding a 3-bookmark bundle of these for one low price.  These will be great for stocking stuffers, gifts for teachers, coaches, daycare providers, or coworkers, all for one low price!  I listed most of them already, but still have a few to put up, and will get to those later in the week.
 Now, onto the latest Kitchen Creation.  As I have mentioned, I love to cook and really enjoy trying new recipes.  This recipe is from the cooking magazine I mentioned a couple of posts back, America's Test Kitchen Special Collector's Edition Best-Ever Recipes , which is a FANTASTIC cooking resource!  I have now made 5 recipes from this issue, and all have been outstanding!  This is the latest.  It is an Indian-inspired chicken dish that is wonderful served over rice with a veggie side.  I have found that it is at least as good as leftovers as it is cooked fresh.  I made a big batch yesterday so that I will have some this week to take to work for lunch.  That is, if my husband will leave me any!  Here is the info:


Chicken Tikka:

1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt
2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, trimmed
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
2 tsp vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger

Masala Sauce:
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, minced (about one cup)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 serrano chile, ribs and seeds removed, chile minced
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp garam masala
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
2 tsp sugar
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1. For the chicken: Combine cumin, coriander, cayenne, and salt in a small bowl. Sprinkle both sides of chicken with spice mixture, pressing gently so that the mixture adheres. Place chicken on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate 30 to 60 minutes. In a large bowl, whisk together yogurt, oil, garlic and ginger; set aside.

2. For the sauce: Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until light golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, chile, tomato paste, and garam masala; cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, sugar and 1/2 tsp salt; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in cream and return to a simmer. Remove pan from heat and cover to keep warm.

3. While the sauce simmers, adjust an oven rack to the upper-middle position (about 6 inches from the heating element)and heat the broiler. Using tongs, dip the chicken into the yogurt mixture (the chicken should be coated with a thick layer of yogurt) and arrange on a wire rack set in a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet or broiler pan. Discard the excess yogurt mixture. Broil the chicken until the thickest parts register 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer adn the exterior is lightly charred in spots, 10 to 18 minutes, flipping the chicken halfway through cooking.

4. Let the chicken rest 5 minutes, then cut into 1-inch chunks and stir into the warm sauce (do not simmer the chicken in the sauce). Stir in cilantro, season with salt to taste, and serve.
My notes: I served this with rice, which did a good job soaking up the yummy sauce. I subbed half and half for the cream and probably just put in half a cup, rather than the 2/3 it called for.
Seriously, this is SO.GOOD.  It's spicy, but not necessarily hot- just a WHOLE lotta flavor!  Apparently, this is not a traditional Indian dish.  It's a fake Indian dish invented by Americans who really really like Indian-type food.  The fact that it is not authentic should not deter you from trying this, however.  Because it is REALLY REALLY good!

That's all for now!  I will be back next time with the winner of the drawing , and a few new items for the shop.  Have a great week everyone!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Holiday Bazaar, New Stuff About to Launch, and THE GIVEAWAY!

I mentioned last time that this weekend, I would be participating in a holiday bazaar that a friend of mine does with one of her friends.  This was the fourth year that they did this, and though I heard it was not as busy as years past, I thought it went pretty well!  My daughter and I packed up our card table and LOTS of bookmarks and got over there in time to set up our table with some nice festive decorations by the opening at 11:00.  We had our first sale by 11:10!  We sold 11 bookmarks and a set of magnets, plus got a custom order for a bookmark, so all in all, we did way better than I've done in the last 4 months in my Etsy shop!  Here is my daughter at our table, just before the bazaar started:

You know, card tables are really not good for much else besides maybe playing solitaire- there was NOT enough room to display all the stuff I had!  I had to encourage people to dig through my piles of bookmarks so that they could see all of the designs.  It was a full table indeed.

Anyway, it was lots of fun, and I got to see all kinds of neat stuff that other people were selling.  There was a Pampered Chef consultant there, and I just LOVE their stuff!  They have the BEST garlic press I have ever owned- I had one for many years and it finally broke just recently, so I ordered another one.  Can't wait to get it, because I use a lot of garlic!  So, good fun, a few sales, so I'm happy!

So I am gearing up for the holidays now, and in preparation for both the bazaar and the upcoming holidays, I have made a lot of new stuff.  I mentioned before that I would like to have some holiday-themed bookmarks, and also some flower bookmarks that I can sell in packs of 3 or 4, which would be great for stocking stuffers.  I finally got some holiday designs that I like- see what you think!

These holiday ones I think I will sell in a 3-pack with one of each.

Here are a few of the new one-flower bookmarks.  Remember I did a few awhile back, and I was kind of luke-warm on those designs?  I like these a lot better!

Needless to say, I have been VERY busy in the last week or so!  The good news is, my inventory is stocked.  The bad news is, I have a LOT of bookmarks to photograph and do photo editing before I can even think about listing them in my shop!  That, I have to say, is  my absolute least favorite part about being an Esty seller....I have never been much of a photographer, it is not something I enjoy, and that is the real *work* part of what I do.  I did a marathon photo session today, and am about halfway through the editing, so this week will start listing in my shop.

Oh, one more I want to show you!  This is so cool:

Kendra sent me this cool scrapbook paper that she had that looks like maps.  There were three different map patterns, and I made one bookmark out of each pattern for the holiday bazaar.  This is the only one that is left- the other two were among the first to sell yesterday.  So at least I know there is a demand  for these!  I am thinking that maybe I need to abuse my AAA membership just a little bit and go get some maps so that I can make some more!  I had a couple of people ask me about maps with specific places on them, so I think that is a market that can be explored.  And very fitting too....I make maps in my day job (not cool ones like these, just stuff like zoning and population density and stuff that), so it's interesting that on my journey into a creative pastime, I have come full circle back to what I have always done.

Ok, so I have saved the best for last.  I am finally going to do the giveaway I have been promising!  I kicked it off yesterday at the bazaar and got several entrants already.  I am going to give away a four-pack of bookmarks of ANY design in my shop- a $20 or more value! You can choose from any of my designs that are already in my shop (sorry, custom/personalized bookmarks are not eligible) if you win.  This would be a great way to start off your holiday shopping, because bookmarks make fantastic stocking stuffers or gifts for teachers, coaches, coworkers, or to pair with a book or book store gift card for a nice holiday gift!

You can enter the drawing by leaving a comment on this blog post.  If you follow my blog, I will enter you twice- this goes for existing and new follwers!  Make sure I know how to get ahold of you if you win, especially if you comment anonymously.  You can also increase your chances of winning by promoting this giveaway on your blog!  Just leave a separate comment with a link to your blog post where you mention this giveaway, and I will enter your name to the drawing AGAIN!  I will take entries until 6:00pm Sunday, November 21st (PST), and will announce the winner later that evening.  I will also contact the winner by email, so if you comment anonymously, make sure you leave your name and email address in your comment.

Good luck everyone!

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Busy Season

It is officially here.  Know how I know?  Because I"m losing track of stuff.  I'm one of those types who writes stuff down, but only as a backup, because usually I can keep track in my head.  But now?  Well, it's getting harder, and I can't take any risks.  I'm actually having to go back and look at my notes!  But it's all good- I can handle it. Been doing it a long time, so no problem!

Anyone got a Valium??

So, this past weekend was Halloween, and we were SUPER busy.  My son had a band competition to go to, and the rest of us had a party at friends' house on Saturday.  I cooked a whole bunch, and it was SO worth it.  I even got to bring home some leftovers!  I have to tell you, this cooking magazine I got last week is really fantastic- three of the four dishes I made this past weekend were out of it!  America's Test Kitchen Special Collector's Edition Best-Ever Recipes has an unbelievable number of incredible, easy to understand recipes for dishes that we all recognize and are absolutely delicious.  And I am not being paid to endorse this magazine at all- that is how much I love it!  I have only had it just over a week, and have already made four recipes from it- all with amazing success.  If I can make one point right here, right now: GET.TO.YOUR.NEWS.STAND.NOW and get a copy, because according to mine, it should only be on display until December 13.  Anyway.  For the party this weekend, I made two recipes from this magazine: Korean Fried Chicken, which I adapted for chicken wings, and Apple Slab Pie, which is an amazing glazed apple pie made in a rimmed baking sheet, the equivalent of two regular pies.  Both are somewhat labor-intensive, but so, so good!  I encourage everyone to get a copy of the magazine.  I look forward to trying many other recipes in it in the future.

Another dish I made for the party was one of my own design, a Halloween trifle.  I found this fantastic Halloween cake mix that was orange (colored, not flavored) with a fudge swirl, and that is what I used as the base.  I layered chunks of the cake with Cool Whip, chocolate pudding, and crushed Butterfingers, topping it with Cool Whip decorated with chocolate syrup.  I *attempted* to make a spider web design...but what can I say- I'm not much of an artist!  Here is my final product:

 Trust me, it tasted a lot better than it looked!  I took it to our friends' party, and I did not have much to bring home when it was over.  It was really yummy!

My exciting craft-related news this week is that I will have a table at a holiday bazaar that is put on by a friend of mine and her friend every year.  It is coming up this Saturday, so I don't have much time to prepare!  I got a table cloth and some decorations for my table, and hopefully I will have enough inventory to make it worth everyone's while!  I am really looking forward to it.  I enjoy shopping at this bazaar every year, so am really excited that I get to sell there this year!

I am trying to catch up and am still planning a giveaway, so don't think that I forgot!  Soon, I promise!