I don't know about you, but every year I get a little bit more annoyed than the year before at the term Black Friday. Maybe it's the fact that this time of year I'm constantly bombarded by overbearing advertisers leading up to this holiday-shopping launch, but I've gotten to the point of cringing, changing the channel, clicking away from the website, deleting the email - anything to avoid hearing or reading it.
Take a peek into my closet, or the rest of my home for that matter, and you'll see I am actually a pretty big fan of black. And I have no problem with Friday, it's a lovely day. But to me, the term conjures images of people trampling each other in store doorways, grabbing and fighting; selfish and unfriendly behavior that has nothing to do with any sort of holiday spirit. I mean, what's fun about that, anyway?
But as someone who depends on folks buying gifts for each other as my livelihood and survival, it's a rather important time of year for my business. The holiday shopping rush keeps my wholesale and retail clients' businesses running, and it's an important time for my own little shop. So what's a girl to do?
How about we start by calling it something different? Something that celebrates the happy feeling of finding the perfect gift for someone you love, of giving something personal and fun, something unique, perhaps handmade? Perhaps, something colorful?
It may not catch on with the general population but hey, who cares - just thinking about it makes me feel happier already.
And to make you feel a little happier, how about this:
Use coupon code COLORFULFRIDAY in my Etsy shop from now through Monday and get 10% off your purchase!
There's an awful lot of colorful stuff there.
And black stuff too.
Whatever you like.
Come on over and take a peek, you might just find the perfect thing.
And I can guarantee that you won't get trampled, shoved, or catch grouchy dirty looks from strangers while you're shopping.
And don't forget to enjoy yourself this holiday season!
Drawing ends Friday night at 8pm Pacific Time, so head over now and say hi and click - and you could soon be armed with an extra 10 bucks to spend on Small Business Saturday (or any other day, actually) in the Artstuff Studio Shop!
Those of you who know me personally already know that as a weird super-private introvert I entered into the world of social media sort of kicking and screaming a little. Ok, a lot. I've dipped my toes slowly and cautiously into each new thing I've tried, squinting, covering my eyes . . . only to eventually wonder why I made such a big deal out of it in the first place. Well, sort of.
I haven't exactly been out there looking for new media to share on - but it had started to feel like all these things I'm doing are just floating around by themselves randomly in space, unrelated, just doing their own things. What I needed was a magnet to pull them all together into one neat and tidy place. Well, duh.
When discussing Twitter with friends who'd known me for a long time, I'd noticed that when I joked, "I'm pretty sure I'm physically incapable of expressing myself in 140 characters or less" they never argued that point, rather, thoughtfully and contemplatively agreed with the statement. They already know my challenges: it's hard enough for me that my arms waving all over the place while I talk is not translatable to the written word.
I came to this decision last week when I was really pretty sick, so there's a chance this whole thing could all just be the fever talking - but while we're still here floating on the lingering fumes of my homemade holistic cold and flu remedies why don't you join me out there in Twitterland and let's see how this thing works.
You'll notice the little birdie above shows up as a link in my sidebar: click it to find me there!
And really. As if there has ever been any question as to where those boxes of ugly old Christmas sweaters go when they die? You always knew it was true; my weird little drawing just confirms that fact.
I didn't, until the kind and talented quilter Maria Tavey Umhey shared with me this gorgeous quilt she just finished (click to see it bigger).
This particular quilt was created in memory of her own uncle, a WWII Veteran, and will welcome another soldier home.
Quilts of Valor is a nonprofit organization bringing together quilters and longarmers from around the country with one goal: "...making quilts that would both heal and comfort our war wounded. These quilts are called Quilts of Valor (QOVs). Wounds that qualify are those that are both seen and unseen..."
If you're a quilter and would like to get involved, find out how by visiting here. If you still have questions, they have a handy FAQ page with answers here. To see more gorgeous designs by Cheerful Quilts, visit her Facebook page and Etsy shop!
The newest member of the family and cute little old man of the house isn't so sure about change, or travel, or a lot of other things for that matter - but he is pretty content with the pace of life at the beach cabin.
To say he has a favorite pastime
may be a bit of an understatement
but you've got to admit
he's awfully cute doing it.
And there's that irresistably ridiculous (or is it ridiculously irresistable?) belly fur. I can't keep my hands off it.
We're pretty smitten with this funny little old man.
I realize that the price for spending my birthday away from civilization is that I'm going to have to make my own birthday cake. To be fair, I should add that if it were important to me, Husband Guy would figure out a way to make cake appear on my birthday with no effort on my part wherever we were, but I'd rather just make myself a really good cake - I guess I'm sort of weird that way.
I had been wanting to try a chocolate cake with salted buttercream frosting. But I wanted it to be as simple as possible, and small since there were only 2 of us to eat it (and we would finish whatever size cake I made, believe me). After wandering around Tastespotting a while, I stumbled onto not only a pretty picture of moist looking chocolate cake, but the words "ridiculously simple" and "foolproof" and I soon knew that this was going to be the cake. Stir n Frost from scratch! Always a fan of a good oxymoron, the mere concept of this cake was way too intriguing not to try.
But that buttercream idea: I was stuck on it. I already had a little jar of salted caramel sauce Husband Guy hadn't been able to resist on a recent visit to our neighborhood fancy-schmancy market and I was determined to use it somehow.
I found a couple good looking recipes online for salted caramel buttercream, but Husband Guy suggested that the little extra tang of a cream cheese frosting might be the perfect thing to compliment all that caramely salty sweetness.
Yeah. This is a man who knows his cake.
So instead of looking further I just sort of invented a salted-caramel cream cheese buttercream. Buttercream frosting isn't rocket science - that's one of the reasons I love it so. Well, that and, er, butter.
I mean, duh.
This is basically Beth Dunham's recipe for Cockeyed Chocolate Cake (from the awesome-sounding 1960 I Hate to Cook Book) except I had forgotten to bring oil so I melted butter in its place, and I changed up the topping part at the end. Husband Guy calls it Crazy Cake. I still call it Stir n Frost. Whatever you call it, oh man, this cake is yummy.
Preheat oven to 350F and grease a 9" square cake pan. Gather together the following ingredients:
1-1/2 C sifted flour
3 T unsweetened cocoa powder
1 t baking soda
1 C sugar
1/2 t salt
5 T melted butter
1 T white vinegar
1 t vanilla extract
1 C cold water
Sift the dry ingerdients directly into the greased cake pan. Tap the sides of the pan so the ingredients settle into a flat layer. Use your fingers to make 3 grooves in the sifted dry ingredients. Pour melted butter into one groove, vinegar into another, and vanilla into the other. Pour cold water over the whole thing and combine with a fork. Keep stirring until the mixture is lump-free. Bake at 350F at the center of the oven for 25 minutes.
After baking for 25 minutes, remove the cake from the oven and while it is still hot, spread salted caramel sauce over the top. I used all but 1/4 C of a 7-oz. jar on mine. Return the cake to the oven and continue to bake for 5 more minutes until the sauce has melted into all the cracks, crevices, and weak spots and gotten a little chewy-gooey around the edges.
Remove from the oven and let cool completely before frosting. Try to keep Husband Guy's fingers off the cake while it cools. If he's not at your house when you're making it, you'll be fine - just let it cool then.
1/4 C (1/2 stick) butter, at room temperature
1/4 C cream cheese, at room temperature
2 C powdered sugar
1/4 C salted caramel sauce
Beat the butter and cream cheese on medium-high (I used a hand-mixer because that's what we have at the cabin!) until fluffy. Reduce speed and slowly add powdered sugar, a little at a time, until it's fully incorporated. If you're using a hand mixer, try not to blow powdered sugar all over the kitchen like me. I suppose this would be good advice whatever mixer you're using. Add salted caramel sauce and beat on medium-high until it's super light and fluffy and looks like irresistable frosting!
When your cake is cool, spread with this frosting and dive in. Birthday candles optional (I forgot to pack them). I had originally planned on sprinkling a little sea salt on the top right before serving, but I forgot, and it was perfect anyway.
This cake - ehrmagerd, this cake. It really is foolproof. And so good. We ate the entire birthday version at the cabin, and since coming home I've already made the original version with that awesome coconut crumble. I was short on white flour so substituted whole wheat pastry flour for part of it, and it was still really good. See? Foolproof. Sorry, no photos of that one - but it looked pretty much just like this for like a minute, then we ate it.
Be warned: this is a dangerous cake. Dangerously simple to make, and dangerously simple to finish.
There was more small driftwood on our beach this month than I remember seeing in a long, long time.
A gazillion tiny canvases waiting for tiny paintings.
At least that's how I see driftwood.
Every day the tide would cover it up with sand
or wash more sand away,
move it around a bit...
but it was always there.
Waiting for little crows
or a tiny version
of the drawing in my sketchbook
that Ted had so kindly posed for.
And there was one piece that just happened to be the perfect size and shape for a portrait of Edgar the white-winged crow from a book I thoroughly enjoyed pouring completely through my first couple days out there in the quiet...
...just what I needed to thank my amazing neighbor for taking such great care of my garden while we were away.
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Please don't use or reproduce anything you find here without permission.