Monthly Archives: October 2010

Faux Bois Fever

little faux bois cylinders

I’ve been doing lots of work with my Jadeflower Etsy Shop in recent months, not only working on day to day ceramic items, but also working on what I want my Jadeflower Brand to be. I’ve seen stuff all over my favorite crafty sites and blogs about the importance of not just making cool stuff, but making cool stuff that relates to this identity that a successful business needs to create.

Now, I certainly haven’t gotten to the point where I have a cohesive brand identity (and at this point, I’m not really a full-blown business yet…trust me, I am working diligently on making that happen soon!). But I am slowly reeling myself in, and focusing on what I want Jadeflower to BE. I’m not going to reveal all of my brainstorming yet, but I will share some stuff that is already popping up in my shop.

stoneware faux bois vase

I found this really great wood-grain pattern at my local ceramic supply store, and I’ve been using it on some new items. I first stumbled upon the faux bois decor phenom while I was planning my wedding – so many woodsy-chic wedding ideas out there. Lots of centerpieces incorporated tree branches, log sections and birch bark. I guess it reinforces my idea that the woods are very romantic.

faux bois tealight holders

 

So I’ve been making new items to incorporate this new pattern. I’m still playing around with colors and sizes to see what I like the best (and what gets the best response). And I think my “product line” is moving in the right direction, with the addition ofย  home decor items inspired by nature, with an earthy-yet-chic vibe.

rustic chic utensil holder

 

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Filed under Etsy, Jadeflower Ceramics

Homemade Everlasting Vanilla

Here’s a great DIY project that any baker will appreciate. And it makes a fabulous gift, too! (In fact, this was part of my thank-you gift to my lovely bridesmaids)

Homemade Vanilla!

This project is so easy, it’s amazing more people don’t make vanilla themselves. I guess the most difficult part of the whole process is collecting all your supplies (and really, it doesn’t take that much effort to find the stuff). And if you’re giving vanilla as a gift, you need ample time to let the ingredients sit (I’m talking weeks, or months!) So you still have time to do this for Christmas! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Anyone who bakes regularly knows how essential good vanilla is. And how expensive the real stuff is! This homemade vanilla will never run out, so long as you have vodka on hand to replenish the bottle. The vanilla beans just keep infusing the alcohol!

SUPPLIES:

homemade vanilla supplies

  • Vodka (the cheaper the better)
  • Whole Vanilla Beans (two per bottle)
  • Glass Bottles with tops

I found my vanilla beans on Ebay, and searched around for the best deal. I found these cool “Boston round” bottles at an online supplier called Specialty Bottle – lots of bottles to choose from! (But you can find bottles from lots of sources – be creative!)

The method is very simple! Take your vanilla beans (2 per bottle) and with a sharp knife, slit them down the middle, length-wise, part way (don’t cut them entirely in two). This will allow the vanilla to infuse much quicker and easier than whole, intact beans.

vanilla beans, bottles, vodka

Insert the beans into your bottles, and fill the bottles with vodka (using a funnel makes this easier). Cap the bottles tightly and store them in a cool, dark place (like a kitchen cupboard) for several weeks. Every so often, check on their progress, and give a gentle shake. Your vanilla will slowly turn light brown, and eventually, it will be a beautiful amber color, and smell like…well, vanilla!
The longer your vanilla infuses, the darker and richer it will be! And any time you use some, just add in more vodka, and it will never run out! Not too shabby ๐Ÿ™‚

Homemade vanilla!

For a fun touch, add a printed label and a bow.
M & I modified an awesome label designed by EatDrinkChic that originated here. Another great vanilla label can be found here. And here’s a great resource for blank vintage labels you can customize!

If you’d like the exact label that M & I created, you can download it here: Vanilla Labels

Above all, have fun with it. Happy crafting!

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Filed under Crafts, DIY, projects, Recipes, tutorial

Propagating Succulents

A year ago I introduced you to Clement, my jade plant. Yup, he’s still thriving and takes up the big space in front of our living room window!

He does get so over-zealous with his new growth sometimes, though. Not that I don’t love that he’s getting bigger and fuller – I want him to grow as huge as possible! But it can be a strain on his branches if his growth goes unchecked. There was a time when he was growing faster than his trunk and branches could support – his big fleshy leaves got so heavy and numerous, his branches started to sag, and a couple of timesย  he even fell over completely! (Not a fun thing to come home to, I assure you.)

So I have gotten in the habit of pruning Clement every so often. I find that this ensures he doesn’t get too big for his britches. Also, any small branch that I prune generally stimulates two new branches to grow, thus making his new growth fuller, instead of long and spindly.

But of course, I end up with all these beautiful jade cuttings, and I hate to just toss them. So here’s what I do…

I collect little ceramic pots at the local Goodwill (no more than $1 each).

I make sure that the jade (and other succulent) cuttings have healed over at the cutย  – this only takes a day or so. And then, with fresh dirt, I plant them in the pots.

Succulents are really hardy little plants – they are survivors. And that makes them so easy to propagate. After a few weeks, these little guys will be pretty established in their new homes, with little roots growing from the stems planted in the dirt. Just amazing.

I plan to give most of these away as gifts, because I am of the mind that everyone should love jades! ๐Ÿ˜›
But I am also working on an new idea for my Etsy shop – making small ceramic pots and propagating jade plants for them. I mean, my shop is called Jadeflower. It makes sense that I should sell some jades! We’ll see how this idea pans out.

Until then, happy propagating!

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Filed under DIY, Jadeflower Ceramics, Plants, projects

Blackberry Limoncello Sorbet – a homemade indulgence

I’m still on my blackberry kick (since acquiring a huge back of frozen berries from my parents), and M and I discovered a beautiful way to enjoy them. Homemade Blackberry Sorbet, yummmm ๐Ÿ™‚

blackberry limoncello sorbet

M & I just bought ourselves a new toy, a KitchenAide Ice Cream Maker! It’s an attachment for my stand mixer (which I adore and use all the time). We’ve only just begun to test it out, but M loves ice cream, so I’m sure we will get plenty of use out of it in time.

Fruit sorbets are a much healthier (not to mention, way cheaper) alternative to homemade ice cream made with heavy cream and lots of sugary extras. I found this recipe for a delicious sorbet on the Chocolate Gourmand, and the picture instructions are great for a newbie like me.

This recipe is so great for a few reasons – first, since you don’t heat the berries (you just puree them in a blender) you don’t lose any of those wonderful nutrients that berries are so lauded for; second, the addition of the liqueur really does keep the sorbet from becoming rock-hard in the freezer (which is usually one of the drawbacks of homemade ice cream treats); and lastly, it’s simply delicious (not to mention, gorgeous)!!

I only made a couple of changes when I made this sorbet, due to ingredients I had on hand – I upped the limoncello to 3 tablespoons, and since I didn’t have Chambord I used 1 tablespoon of cherry brandy. Also, since I cut out white sugar whenever I can, I subbed 1/2 cup of Agave syrup for the 3/4 cup sugar, and it worked out beautifully. ๐Ÿ™‚

blackberry limoncello sorbet on a sunny porch - perfect

So here’s to enjoying summer’s bounty and the sunny crisp days of fall before the winter totally takes over! Cheers.

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Blackberry Cream-Cheese-Filled Muffins

I’ve been a very remiss blogger, and I do apologize! You know sometimes you just get into those ruts where you don’t think you have anything interesting to say.
Well, I’m going to try to break out of that mentality!

October First already! I don’t know about you, but I love the fall. Autumn is one of those seasons that I think you hate as a kid, but grow to adore as an adult. I love the crispness in the air, and the changing leaves, and all the bounty of the harvest. Thoughts turn indoors as the days get shorter.

Blackberry Cream Cheese Filled muffins
One bit of bounty that has carried over from summer is the stash of blackberries in my freezer. My dad is notorious for picking (and hoarding) loads of blackberries that grow wild all over the place out here. Last time I was visiting home, my mom told me to take some with me – I discovered at least a dozen 1-gallon bags of frozen berries in their freezer! Yes please, I’ll take some.

I combined a couple of recipes to create these yummy muffins. They are perfect for breakfast, snack, or after a meal (any excuse works for me!)
Blackberry muffin batter adapted from Simply Recipes, and Cream Cheese Filling adapted from The Delicious Life.

Muffin Batter:

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tesp cinnamon
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon milk (or soy milk, etc)
  • 3/4 cup agave nectar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups blackberries (slightly thawed if frozen)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease muffin tins, or use cupcake liners (yields about 18 muffins).
In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, sour cream, milk, agave, oil and vanilla. Add blackberries, and dry ingredients, combine with swift, broad strokes – do not over mix!
Fill each muffin cup 3/4 full, and make an indentation in the center of each (for your cream cheese filling!)

Cream Cheese Filling:

  • 8 oz cream cheese or neufchatel cheese (one block, softened)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup agave

Beat together all the filling ingredients until smooth. You can use a spoon to fill the muffins, or use a piping bag for more control. I filled a ziplock bag with the filling, then snipped the corner off and used it like a piping bag. Fill the center of each muffin until you run out of filling.

Pop the filled muffins into the oven and bake for about 20 minutes, or until starting to brown on top. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to cooling rack.

It’s a little fusion between muffin and cheese cake. Gotta love it ^_^

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Filed under food, Recipes