Back in November, some friends and I got to participate in Project 15 of Craft Hope. I totally forgot to post the finished pictures until someone asked about them the other day. I have to give my friends great credit for joining in one of my crazy projects. Whether they had sewn before or not, these ladies agreed to make a sock monkey none of us had made before and then give it away to someone who had just had their house burned down in Texas.
I have cool friends.
For those of you who don’t know Craft Hope (and Jade who runs it, it is a WONDERFUL organization that reaches out to different suffering areas of the world through handmade projects. It might be a natural disaster or burn victims, but they are all people in need and have had their world tipped upside-down. Each project is directed at a certain need, this last project being sock monkeys for victims of the crazy fires in Texas last year.
Check the site today for a new project! We’ve all been on the edge of our seats waiting for this announcement!
It’s funny how helping can be so fun, isn’t it?
Melissa, Me, Diane, Jessica, Jennifer, and Leah (who missed the group photo. sorry :/)
We worked from 7 until midnight, but only finished parts. Actually, Melissa finished hers (Yahh!). Mostly, we laughed a lot and drank wine which is always a good time. We followed this tutorial which has great step-by-step photos.
A big thanks to my sister for helping to finish eyeballs, ears, noses, and mouths during Thanksgiving to get ‘er done! :)
Our box at its first destination. It’s the one with the blue polka-dots and the sock monkey on the front.
(picture from crafthope.com)
The whole 300+ sock monkeys ready to go into loving arms! It’s SO great to have been a part of that!
(picture from crafthope.com)
Back in the very very beginning of my time of writing posts here, I made vanilla extract. It was a wonderful experience. No, I’m not weird for thinking that. The reason it was so wonderful was because it was SO easy. I love replacing things that I buy at the store with homemade versions, but even more than that, I love it when they are EASY projects. I do have to warn you that you will probably never buy it again if you make it. That’s probably exciting for some of you, but there are others of you who will be doubtful of it. If you were a vanilla snob already and are used to forking over $19 for the big Nielsen-Massey vanilla bottle (although my mom has given some to me in the past that she found cheap somewhere…thanks, mom). If that is you, this will definitely save you some big bucks. If you typically buy the grocery store brand of vanilla that is “imitation” and usually doesn’t contain alcohol, this will not save you money. You should still make it, though, since that imitation stuff is pretty yucky.
The only ingredients are:
Vanilla Beans (2 for every 1/4 c. vodka) & vodka
I followed this site again in their recommended ratio of beans to vodka.
I got these perfect size little bottles at The Container Store last year and they would be perfect if you can find them. I went this year (during the annual awesome wrapping paper extravaganza) and they didn’t have any. UGH!! I search all over online and nobody ships this size. The will ship one that is 10X as big, but not this teeny tiny one. So weird. This year I decided to try the cheaper beans from Trader Joe’s which are $4 for 2. Trust me, that’s a deal compared to $14 from McCormick’s at the grocery store or $8.50 for the Nielsen-Massey.
Before you start, sterilize the jars in boiling water for 8 minutes. Erica is doing an awesome job showcasing this :).
1. First scrape the beans. If you slice the bean down the middle without going through the bottom layer, you can peel it open and get a good, clean scrape.
2. After a the seeds (called caviar…love that!) are removed, cut the beans in about 1 inch pieces. They will not float to the top if they are smaller pieces.
3. Measure your liquid space in the jar by using water first. Once you know how much liquid you need, you will know how many beans to use. For example, I used a cup of vodka in my jars, so I placed 8 beans inside.
4. At first the bottles will just look murky, but as you shake them every day, the fluid will get darker. For the first few days, shake them a few times a day. After that, shake them once a day for 2 weeks. Then, you can shake them only when you think of it.
After 6 months, you can strain the extract. I’ve kept mine in for a year, but I’ve heard the beans go bad after a while. You can also put new beans back in the bottles if you like.
I am aching to make something I tried today at WhiskandLadle. We went to the Scripps La Jolla Aquarium and then over to WhiskandLadle for brunch. To start, I had a piece of butterscotch banana bread with dulce de leche. Yes, it was as good as it sounds and was a perfect comfort food since I wasn’t feeling really great. I really want to make it and this vanilla extract will be perfect in both the banana bread and the dulce de leche.
Now, for some vanilla extract labels…
Back before Christmas, I was privileged to be able to take family pictures for some sweet friends. It was their baby girl’s 1st birthday coming up, hence the cupcakes you will see. We meandered down to a local lake here called Otay Lakes (Holla, San Diego!). I brought a basket with some yellow balloons attached, one of my old vintage chairs, an old plaid blanket, and MY sweet baby girl. Since it’s not every day that you bring that combination of things to a nearby lake, I thought it would be amazing to catch a few shots of my girl as well. I am so thankful for her curiosity, her strength, precious humming in bed at 10pm, her love for Jesus, her desire to constantly try new things, and even her stubbornness. Yes, even that. With stubbornness there often comes great strength and common sense. I comfort myself (amongst the difficulties with this ambitious child) that these difficulties, if set on the right course, will make for an awesome person one day. At least that’s what I tell myself for now.
Enjoy and soak up some of that love! :)
The sweet girl who turned 1. She has a little of her Mama’s homemade cupcakes on her lips…no biggie. :)
Craziness! It’s already been a year!
The official time I started my blog was actually back in August of 2010, but I wanted to get things just right on the design end before posting. It’s kind-of a joke when I think of it now because it was FAR from nice and my posts were pretty sad-looking. I knew they were not awesome, but you have to start somewhere, right? I did like my first real banner above, though. I kind-of miss it.
Speaking of design, how do you like my new comfy space? I wanted to go back to my roots with a wood background (my very first wordpress website had a dark wood background) and just step it up a bit. I think it’s pretty cozy. Special thanks to Jay Woolwine for installing the parts I couldn’t and to Erik Weston Homestead for listening to my blubbering about colors, banners, and whether there should be lines separating other lines and other very important details.
1. Be sure to check out the categories to our right which will link you to pages with visual links to all my posts. —————>>>>
It’s SO much easier to use. Yes, it took me a LOOOONG time. If you like it, please let me know. If you don’t like it, keep it to yourself :).
2. <<<<————–I also have a cute new scrabble social bar which you can use to share my page after you read this :).
3. ^^^^Above is my new banner which is hopefully reflecting my handmade style. ^^^^
It’s been a great year for this little space. I started my first month of viewers with just a few of my closest buddies and some obliging family members. Now, I am astonished at grateful at having over 15,000 people visiting in just a single month!! Wow, people! There must be something just a teeny tiny bit likeable goin’ on here.
My second year will hopefully bring even better things. A few cool things to come are some useful printables in the name of Valentine’s Day, some embroidery hoop projects and a hoop swap, cool thrifted products remade, some exciting kid’s room redecorating with help from here, a revamped garden with new techniques, things I’ve never canned before are going in those cans, working on a dress for myself, and I’m dragging my friends here to do some of this stuff with me! Sound good?
In honor of this special day, I am sharing a cupcake with you all. Yeah, I kinda thought you would like it too. My sister actually made these back in April for my Miss F’s birthday I just totally forgot to post them. I guess it was meant to be. I saw them on Pinterest and asked my sister to make them and since she’s awesome, she said yes.
I used my neighbor’s freshly cut olive wood firewood for their little perching area.
Thanks for your support and for hanging out with me in this little space.
The community here means a LOT to me.
Thank You, friends!