my etsy gift shop, with lots of goodies for new babies and mommas

Monday, August 31, 2009

Pumpkin Cookies

There's no better way to celebrate crisp fall days than pumpkin cookies. (Surely it's not still August. . .) Once again, I have to credit my mom with this recipe. It's a family favorite, and anybody I can convince to try them is won over to the pumpkin side. Don't be put off by vegetables in cookies - you've got to try them! And count them toward your daily intake of veggies. Or just make them and give them to me. My feelings would not be hurt.

2 cups flour
1 cup quick oats (Quaker, of course - does that count as a Pepsi shout-out?)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup Libby's pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling - just pumpkin)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
(optional: icing, peanut butter, candies, raisins, nuts)

Preheat oven to 350.
Cream butter, add two sugars. Beat until light and fluffy. Resist the urge to eat this mess. Is it just me who's tempted?
Add egg and vanilla. Mix well.
Add flour, oats, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and pumpkin, mixing well after each addition. Stir in chocolate chips.
Drop 1/4 cup balls of dough on lightly greased cookie sheets, allow plenty of room for them to spread out; bake 20-25 minutes. Cool on racks.
Decorate with toppings like jack-o-lanterns.
*Okay, I don't do the decorating. I'll probably start when P gets old enough to get into that. Until then, what I do is drop the dough by tablespoons onto cookie sheets and bake about 14-16 minutes.

Also, this week is a children's supplies consignment sale at the John Q. Hammonds Center in Rogers called Rhea Lana's. Here's the website. I've never been to this before, but I've heard from other mommas that it's good stuff. I'm new to the outfit-my-children-in-used-stuff idea, but some of my favorite blogging mommas swear by it, so I'm going to try it out. That, plus I get in a day early because I'm currently pregnant. Maybe they do that to keep all of the cranky, slow ones out of the way once the real shopping starts. :) I'll report back on how it goes.

One final idea. I just got a new lotion from Bath & Body Works called Optimism and today's the first time I've used it. Call me crazy; I honestly feel more optimistic today! How's that for the power of persuasion? Or maybe Bath & Body Works really knows what they're doing. . . maybe I should go back and see if they have something called "Motivation to Clean the House."

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Rule of Thirds Greeting Card

Greetings and good rainy day! It's a good day - we're almost through the awkward gap between my birthday and D's when I'm two years older than him. He's agreed that, starting this year (since I've hit 3-0), he's just going to pretend that he's my age. So, happy 30th birthday!
I wanted to mention to my "followers" with limited blog experience that you can leave comments in the guest book at the bottom, even if you can't comment at the end of a specific post. The comment part is easier if you have a g-mail account. No pressure. I won't call you out on it.

Okay, here's the project of the day: greeting cards. First, the envelopes. I have a template for an envelope from Fiskars that I bought at an SSD garage sale, but you don't need one of those to make your own cards. Just carefully unfold an existing envelope that you like the size of, and use it as a pattern. Trace around it (I like using double-sided paper, so it looks special from the outside and the inside), cut it out, and fold in the flaps and glue. That's it. Super-easy. To make a card to go in it, measure and be sure the folded card is 1/4 inch smaller on all sides than the folded envelope. (My cards need to be 4 1/2 by 5 1/2 inches to fit the envelopes, so I cut them out as 9 by 5 1/2 inch rectangles.)

Easy Rule of Thirds Card Design
For this card, I used the rule of thirds to guide the design on the front. (Rule of Thirds: imagine a tic-tac-toe board over a square space and arrange elements at the intersection of the lines, not in the middle square.) Since my card is a rectangle, I imagined six squares instead of nine. I found six coordinating paper scraps to be the squares and cut them out, then rounded to corners for a more finished look. (I got double-duty from a few of the papers that are reversible - I used both sides.) I put the message, "thank you," on the bottom corner square, then treated each block as an individual picture and just cluttered it up with embellishments I had on hand. Greeting cards are great for scrapbookers - we always end up with scrap paper and extra little embellishments, and making cards gives us more justification for our obsessive collection of supplies. ("But D," I say, "it's for scrapbook pages and cards!" You can see what a convincing argument it is.) I also like to use found items on cards - I don't worry about archival-safe when I'm doing cards, so I use tags that come on clothes, I cannibalize other greeting cards, I cut out pictures from magazines. . . For this card, the top middle square is a price tag that came on a jar of buttons - I just used the back of it.

On Paper Selection
For each card, you'll need one double-sided piece of cardstock for the envelope and one coordinating piece of paper for the card. Be sure that one side of the envelope paper is light enough that you can write an address on it - the inside can be as busy as you want it to be. For the card paper, make sure you can write legibly on the side that will be the inside of the card. If you're in love with paper that won't let you do that, an option is to cut out a rectangle of plain coordinating paper and glue it to the inside of the card for your message. If you're using 12x12 inch paper, you'll need a whole sheet for one envelope, and you can get two cards out of a single page. I usually buy two pages of the envelope paper and one page of the card paper, so out of three sheets I can get two card-and-envelope sets.

Happy scrapping! Oh, and I finally got some new slipcovers up on my Etsy site! I was inspired by Anthropologie and decided to use non-literal names for all the different designs. D totally didn't get it, but I'm going for evoking emotion, here!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

New Boppy Covers and Baby Clothes

Just had to share a few new Boppy covers I'm working on. Sometimes I feel like I'm in a rut with them and need to do something different; I think I have creative ADD. I've been trying to figure out a different way to do the zippers, and I found it! I've started putting them on the back of the cover instead of around the outside seam, so they lay flat and look a lot more professional, I think. (You can kind of see on the second picture - there's a flap covering the zipper, so you can just tell where the fabric changes.) So that, combined with the boat-load of new zippers D found for me on clearance (what a guy!), has really got me motivated to work on these things again. And I love these new fabrics! Especially the scroll one. It's almost a dove gray or light, light blue, and the scrolls are in faded-looking black with white shadows. Very sophisticated, but still in soft baby colors! I'm always looking for baby stuff that's not too sweet. They're brand new; I haven't even put them on Etsy yet. But pretty soon, check them out at my Etsy store.
More to come. . .

I'm afraid poor little baby boy Smith is going to end up looking pretty in pink in all his sister's hand-me-downs, so I've started shopping for manly baby clothes. (Actually, P and I just needed to get out of the house yesterday and didn't have a legitimate errand to run, so we hopped on over to Gordmans, where you can find things at a price that makes you believe you desperately need them.) Nine tops, four pairs of pants, and six pairs of socks for just over $50. That's right, I'm a professional. Does anybody else arrange and photograph clothes after a successful shopping venture? No? Just me?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Black Bean Soup

The dear husband is fervently planning his tailgating schedule. This can only mean one thing: Razorback football season is upon us. Well, almost upon us. In the middle of these sweltering days (and me with an 11 ounce internal heat pack) I'm looking forward to crisp mornings, fires in the fireplace, leaves changing colors (as they do best in the Ozarks), and even Razorback football. I love fall foods, too, and I wanted to share my favorite recipe: black bean soup, which has been just slightly modified from my momma's version. Don't be fooled; this soup is not messing around. It's hearty and filling, and totally worthy of being whipped up, even while we're still in the middle of summer.

Black Bean Soup
one or two cups chopped celery*
one or two cups chopped carrots*
one or two cups chopped white onion*
1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro*
1 (10 ounce) can Ro-tel
4 (15 ounce) cans Ranch Style brand black beans
2 tablespoons butter
* I buy a package of celery, a package of carrots, one big onion, and a bunch of cilantro. I chop them all up and use all of the celery, carrots, and onion, and about half of the cilantro.

1. In a large pot, melt butter. Add celery, carrots, and onion; cook 15-20 minutes, until tender.
2. Add Ro-tel, beans, and cilantro (don't drain any of the cans); heat to a boil.
3. Reduce heat and simmer at least 30 minutes, up to a couple of hours, stirring occasionally.
Serve with shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, cornbread, corn chips, or whatever.
Makes 6 to 8 servings, and is great left over.

Enjoy! And go Hogs!

Oh! And this is exciting - we found out today we're having a boy! So P will have a little brother to torment this winter. She's very excited. She saw the DVD of the ultrasound (scary - all ultrasound pictures make the babies look like Skeletor - or maybe my kids just look like Skeletor), and she pointed and squealed and laughed.

Also, a few people have asked me why I'm blogging under my maiden name. It's just because my Etsy shop is under that name, and that's because my e-mail is "melshort," and that's because I've had this e-mail since I was Mel Short. So it just sort of happened; it's not an intentional pen name or anything.