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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Ideas on organizing Halloween Party

Our last year Halloween party was a huge success and everyone is still talking about it. This year we are going to use some of the ideas but we also have lots of new ones so we'll see how this one goes!
 
If you are hosting a party and not sure where to start here is some ideas for you:

1. Choose a theme for your party, it is always fun.
2. Get some large-scale decorations or a photo background. Everyone is so excited about it and it looks good on photos.
3. Potluck is the easiest way to save some time and work for the hostess.
 


4. Some food decor and colorful tableware is a must. It's Halloween and it should be fun! Get matching colors napkins, plates, silverware and table cloth. Ask your guests to decorate their dishes.


5. Chain stores have a wonderful selection of Halloween items but don't forget to check garage sales and thrift shops. They might have something unique.
6. If you make the decorations yourself, there is no need to be perfect. Use purchased or free printables for a wall decor, make a colorful pillow out of old Halloween t-shirt, a couple of garlands from cardstock cutouts and you will have some great OOAK things.
7. Be ready to offer your guests some games and dancing. Have costume, best decorated dish or best decorated pumpkin awards.
Halloween is so much fun. Organize it well and everyone will have a great time!

Monday, September 25, 2017

Apple butter recipe

The Golden Delicious apples we picked at the apple farm were slightly under ripe so I decided to save some fresh for later and preserve the rest of them. I decided that apple butter made in slow cooker would be the easiest way to cook them. It took all day to make this but there is really little work involved, just cooking time.
So I am glad to share this recipe with you. I used ground cinnamon and cloves but you don't have to if you prefer non spiced apple butter. Here is what you need:

6 lbs organic apples, cored and chopped to about 3/4" pieces
1 cup white sugar
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves (optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt
Wash, core and chop your apples. Mix the seasonings, pour into apples and mix well.



Place the apples in a slow cooker, cover and cook on high for about an hour. Stir the apples and reduce heat to low. Cook an additional 8 hours, stirring occasionally. The mixture should become thick and brown. Use a hand blender to get a smooth texture and cook on low for additional hour.
Prepare your jars, wash and sterilize them. Spoon the hot mixture into the prepared jars, cover with a lid and turn them over on a clean kitchen towel. Let the jars cool and store them in the refrigerator.

Enjoy and please let me know how you like it!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

A day at the apple farm

We had so much fun picking apples and looking at the farm animals at the Date Creek Ranch farm (Wickenburg, AZ) last weekend. It is hidden in a middle of the desert so if you would not notice a small road sign we would have never found it.
So we turned from the main road to a rougher desert one that leads to the lovely place with barns, fruit stand, the rows of fruit trees and farm animals resting in the shade. 

We were there just for fun so we did not pick up too many apples. But whatever we got was enough to eat fresh and make some apple butter (recipe here).

 A wonderful day filled with sun and fun!


Wednesday, August 23, 2017

A Labor Day sale, August 31 to September 4, 2017

A Labor Day sale! I am happy to offer my customers a great end of summer deal. From August 31 to September 4, 2017 you will be able to get 10% off on selected items in both of my shops on Etsy.

So if you are interested in quality hand knit and crochet items for the coming Fall, Winter season and of course, Holidays gifting, please visit us at socksandmittens.etsy.com.
 https://www.etsy.com/listing/547659365/knit-cowl-and-fingerless-gloves-dark-red?ref=shop_home_active_2 
https://www.etsy.com/listing/513336142/crochet-tote-cotton-off-white-aqua-blue?ref=shop_home_active_12

If you are looking for rare or hard to find vintage items, including jewelry, sweet home decor and collectibles, please stop by agardencottage.etsy.com.
https://www.etsy.com/listing/516220733/sterling-silver-ring-vintage-ladies-ring?ref=shop_home_active_17 
https://www.etsy.com/listing/481124343/shelley-tea-cup-and-saucer-dainty-blue?ref=shop_home_active_12

Hope you will find what you are looking for at my shops!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Summer eggplant salad recipe

I love the taste of this easy to make eggplant salad. It goes well with a BBQ or fresh baked bread. Delicious! 
You will need:
1 eggplant
1 large carrot, shredded
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
3 garlic clove, minced
bunch of fresh parsley, chopped
olive oil for frying
salt, pepper, white vinegar to taste

Prepare the eggplant: wash it, cut in half and then cut to wedges. Place in a colander, add some salt and mix. Leave for 30 minutes, then wash under running water and squeeze out the water from the wedges.

At the same time, place the shredded carrots in a large bowl and add minced garlic. Fry the chopped onion with the small amount of olive oil. When the onion will turn golden in color, add it to a carrot-garlic mix and stir all together.

Fry the eggplant wedges until soft and golden brown and put in a bowl. Add the rest of vegetables and parsley, mix and add salt, pepper and vinegar to taste. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

A lavender bottle sachet / La bouteille de lavande

I was browsing facebook this morning and noticed the prettiest lavender wand sachet made by Irina from Belarus (JewelryFloren). She got so many blooms this year that she was able to make 25 pretty sticks from just 2 lavender bushes.
I love this idea because all the sweet buds stay inside after the stick has dried out and it still will look pretty and ready to do its job to refresh your linen closet or dresser draw. The idea of  "La bouteille de lavande" came from France where lavender is a part of culture and history. Oh so romantic!
All you need to make 1 stick like this is about 25 to 30 lavender stems, 2 1/2 yards of narrow satin ribbon (about 1/4" wide) in your favorite color and a sewing thread.

–°lean your lavender stems from the leaves and bottom flowers. Gather them together and tie the stems tight right under the flower heads with a sewing thread. Now, bend the stems to the sides to cage the flower heads inside. Run one end of the ribbon along side the flowers to poke out of the bottom of the flower cage. Tie your pretty satin ribbon on top of sewing thread and start weaving the other loose end of the ribbon around the top of flower cage using basic under-and-over basket weaving technique. Push the sticking-out flowers back to cage with a toothpick.
Keep weaving tightly (very important since the lavender will shrink as it dries) to get a bottle shape.
Tie both ribbon ends tight around the base a few times and make a pretty bow. 

Voilà! It's ready to use, just let it dry and enjoy!


Thank you, Irina, for this great idea!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Lavender in my garden

A couple of years ago we drove 4 hours up north for a lavender festival to see those beautiful purple fields. While people from cooler areas might not see it as a big deal, for us in the low desert with hot and dry summers it is very special. I bought a little potted plant of lavender as a souvenir and planted it in my garden later with not much hope for it to survive.

Surprisingly, the lavender bush is thriving and happy! I am still learning how to care for this but I was so happy to gather some flower stems.


The plant is blooming in a weird time (September through February) and giving just 2-3 stems per week but its alive and it makes me happy :)