I'm in super fast hand made mode the past few days to keep up with supply and demand at the shop. All caught up at the moment, but that seems to change rather quickly this time of year.
Lennis was off today and we made a big pot of stew and homemade biscuits. A pioneer meal, I suppose. It's cold enough to knock your socks off out there. So thankful I have a warm home and food to prepare. Life is good.
I never use a recipe for the Winter Stew but always generally make it the same every time.
Warm 1 Tablespoon of oil in large kettle. Add chopped onion, garlic, celery and a few carrots. Add lean stew meat and a couple of cups of water. Turn up heat to high to make a rich broth. Let simmer on med, high for at least 30 minutes. Add a couple more cups of broth. I use the Knorr condensed broth and then add a few cups of water. Add you potatoes, carrots, green beans, squash, turnip, or whatever vegetable you wish to add. I add fresh tarragon, lots of pepper, smoked salt that my friend Clarice sends me and coriander, thyme and oregano. About a teaspoon of each. Oh and a bay leaf from my friends Washington Bay tree. Allow the stew to simmer on low for an hour and half or so. I then stiffen the broth by adding a couple of large tablespoons of flour to a half cup of water. Add it to the stew and give it a good stir.
I'll try and post the open house recipes soon. I've had a lot of request but little time to perform the request.
We had a record breaking open house this past weekend. I had planned to take pictures, but was so busy assisting customers that I never had the chance. Our tree is up and it's snowing today and my mood is filled with gratitude and happiness. The season of love is filling my heart with sweet sincere thoughts.
I'm thinking of starting my Christmas shopping today. I have a hand written list of things. One of my favorite from the list, Smart Wool Socks. If you live in cold climate country like I do, definitely a must have on my entire family's wish list each and every Christmas and the only socks I choose to wear anymore.
Winter wedding and holiday party's our coming up. My friend Julie's son is getting married this weekend. It's going to be a large wedding with four-hundred guests. The bride chose to have the ceremony in one of the coolest churches in K.C. This beautiful old church also has one of the longest isles. The bride will look stunning walking the extra long runway. Exciting!
I don't know about you but for me a hand made gift from the heart is much more fun to receive than a store bought item. I guess I'm a bit biased in those thoughts but nevertheless, I've always loved receiving hand made gifts.
A few years ago I made homemade hot chocolate mix and packaged it in simple brown bags. I also made homemade marshmallows to go with the cocoa. Everyone loved it! It's easy and fast and I'm going to share the hand made labels with you so that you can add them to your packaging if you wish.
What a week! It's been busy with a big fat capital B at the shop. Now I'm gearing up for the holiday open house. It's the biggest one of the year and promises to bring great moments to add to the memory bank. My little secret hiding spot where I safely keep the treasured open house pasts.
The shop is so busy during the holiday open house that I usually need help. So I asked Becky if she could come in on Saturday to help out. Always a joy when Becky assists in the big event.
The shop is filled to the brim! Lots of stocking size hand-made gifts available in small, medium and large.
Lily's Soap Bites, Shower Bursts, and Holiday Soaps made fresh to order. Aromatic and soothing little things to help make your Christmas more pleasurable.
Yesterday some old friends dropped by to visit. The impromptu wonderful surprise kicked me into a happy, joyful mood and helped me to realize more, the reason for the season, LOVE!
The huge poinsettia courtesy of my dad and M.J. They brought the big beautiful plant by on Saturday.
Watching closely for those caring and sharing opportunities to arrive. They always do this time of year. If you're a regular reader, you probably recall the moments past. If not, you can read more under caring and sharing. Watch for the moments. They always arrive promptly during the Christmas season.
I had a little elf come in and decorate my entire living room on Thanksgiving day. I came from upstairs after watching a Hallmark movie and the entire room had been transformed into a winter wonderland! I'll share later.
Lennis strung the lights and we put up the tree and decorated the mantle after we dug into a roasted turkey, sweet potatoes, rolls, and chocolate pie.
I decided to do a dry brine for the turkey. Have to tell you that I believe the dry brine is the way to go. So easy and the flavor soaks all the way through the turkey meat. Lennis commented he thought this was the best turkey we'd ever had. I simply patted some herbs and a tablespoon of salt for every five pounds of bird. Allow to rest in fridge for 3 or 4 days. The salt and seasonings slowly absorb into the bird making it moist and tasty. It's a misconception to believe the salt drys the bird. It does not. Allow bird to sit for an hour at room temperature before roasting. I did a moist brine last Thanksgiving. Kind of messy and a pain. The dry brine returned better results and was simple. Have I convinced you to try a dry brine?
Tomorrow and Saturday are usually super busy at the shop. I'm headed in early to do some last minute decorating before the shoppers come in. We have a birch tree right outside the shop and I want to gather some of the wood clippings. I love the white chippy wood and the idea of decorating with the unique wood appeals to me.
You know how I love to decorate with natural. I also made a pine cone garland from the white pine cones. It's one of my favorite things. A chalkboard idea that I've been tossing back and forth with the help of some of Julie's vintage Christmas ornaments and the shop will be holiday ready.
The names were chosen for my family's gifts. Too funny, I drew the same names as we had last Christmas!
No black friday shopping for me. I've never participated in the crazy day. I'll be on the opposite end of things wrapping and packaging hand-made gifts for my customers tomorrow. I love the wrappings! What's that Christmas song, pretty paper, pretty ribbons of blue? No blue here, kraft and white our choice in wrappings.
I hope you enjoyed a relaxing and peaceful Thanksgiving.
How does one explain the feelings of love and gratitude I have during this time of year? All year for that matter, but those feelings much stronger and surface more during Thanksgiving and Christmas.
I'm blessed with good health and a wonderful family, friends. A hand-made shop where I am allowed to make most everything I sell. A cozy warm home, that's by no means perfect to most, but indeed to me it is home sweet home. I have a strong mind that although sometimes gets preoccupied with day to day goings it still works. These feelings never go unnoticed, but I feel there is little time to proclaim my blessings.
Today I'm taking time to do just that...
Please remember, a gentle smile, a pat on the back, or a simple hug may just offer a life changing difference in someone's day.
My wish this holiday season is that we spend more time being thankful for everything. Even the bad times, because without those, we would never appreciate or maybe even recognize the good. Also remember this, please. Where one door closes, another always opens. That's how life works, courtesy of God, I believe.
Never say never, and stay in the white rather than the black. Positive thoughts and good things always come from the white. Negative, unhappy thoughts always are directed by the latter. When you believe in the good, your bounty far exceeds material riches.
My words for this holiday season come from the heart...
You may recall my post about my recent antique find. The vintage scale that when I first saw sitting in the store took my breath away! I was told the piece came from New York and was used in a market. Sweet! It's right on and accurate, which makes the treasure even more sweeter. Wouldn't you agree?
My little entrance into my shop. Beginning to look festive and bright. The small "Shop Small" mat greets you at the door. Something I feel passionate about, shopping small and supporting small business. I believe small business to be the heartbeat of America.
We've been playing Christmas music and warming ourselves by the fire.
I got up early this morning so that I'd have time to list the new Winter Woods Perfume and Lily's Soap Bites. My customers love both of the new holiday items. I'm really fond of the Winter Woods Perfume.
I've been blessed with tons of holiday cheer this past week. My aunt and I have been having a wondrous time together. I gave her the royal tour of downtown and we traveled afar to visit old friends and stop by a great antique shop. I found the find of my life at the vintage shop. Share later, since I'm headed out this morning to the shop. It's been high speed ahead at my shop. By the way, while it's fresh in my mind. Thank you far away customers, friends. I'm thrilled beyond words that bittersweet is going to be in your home during this special time of the year. A time for caring and sharing and my artisan gifts are going to be a part of that. Merci.
My spirit is filled with holiday love and I feel as though I'm floating on cloud nine. Thank you Betty for creating the popular phrase.
Early start since I have so many new things to take to the shop. I'm also taking my big lens camera. If not to busy today, I'm going to take pictures so that I can list the new items on the web shop.
You may recall me chatting about Lily. Little Lily's mom and dad own the coffee shop above my shop. Lily likes hanging out at both Julie's shop and mine. She's the smartest eight year old I've ever had the pleasure of knowing. A couple of weeks ago Lily had a grand idea. The notion was to offer my soap in small bits and pieces so that you could add a few dots into a warm bath.
The idea was expanded when a favorite customer came in and suggested Lily's Soap Bites would be an ideal choice to carry in her purse while out and about shopping or dining. That way she wouldn't be forced to wash her hands with that harsh synthetic detergent that is in all or most department store, restaurant dispensers.
The great idea was then put into action.
I chose a clear tube to house the tiny pieces of soap and created a wrap around label. I asked Lily if she wanted to have her favorite color purple incorporated into the label. She answered yes. The heart labels seemed to fit too.
Lily's Soap Bites will be available at my brick and mortar shop and the web shop, soon. Just in time for Christmas. They make a great stocking stuffer, by the way.
We went out to dinner Saturday night and after I washed my hands with that yucky stuff, I said to myself, I need some of Lily's Soap Bites. Then on Sunday we visited a local antique market. Again, when I needed to wash my hands, Lily's Soap Bites where are you?
I love it when an idea transforms itself into a living breathing thing. In this case a practical necessary one, that honestly I'm not sure how I lived without until now.
The new Noel soap bags made from cotton linen and winter birds. I love them! A cotton twill tie for closing. They are available on my web site. New Winter Woods Perfume arriving later. Sweet Orange, Cedar, Spruce, and Patchouli. Heavenly Holidays... Then Lily's Soap Bites.
Little Lily, the coffee shop owners eight year old daughter. She hangs out at my shop on Saturdays. We love her. She's the sweetest little girl. Miss Lily had an idea about how to create something special with my soap. I thought it was a grand idea so much that I ordered the packaging material needed to make a prototype. The idea was then advanced when a customer came in and added to the idea. Short on time this morning so I can't fill you in on the new soap creation, but I know you'll be impressed. I don't know that I've ever seen the concept before. Something new, useful and a must have. I will definitely have one in my purse! I've got you going... Sharing later.
The new bottles have arrived, lip balm aroma's sitting on the table. The little Christmas trees have been placed outside the shop door. I was going to hang the colored lights yesterday, but the wind was blowing out of the south, right into the trees and they kept falling over. Today, tree lighting ceremony commences.
So funny my old UPS man dropped by the shop yesterday afternoon. His annual holiday visit. His daughter loves Bittersweet Lip Balm and he was stocking up on some goodies, no pun intended. Those UPS guys, girls are some nice folks. Over the years, and with my business, I've had several different drivers and each one of them have become great friends. The friendships date back to almost seventeen years when Bittersweet was born.
My little shop is beginning to look a lot like Christmas!
Red and burlap, twine of all sorts sitting here and there. To be used for wrapping pretty holiday packages for my customers. My favorite time of the year!
The beginning of the week and it's been quiet and low-key around here. I've actually been doing non-bittersweet things. Painting, cleaning, bringing in, clearing out, getting ready.
I really haven't done any of that since opening the shop. It feels good in a whisper twinkle kind of way.
We rescued the plants from the bitter cold spell and they're now safe and warm.
When I was young living in an apartment plants were my thing. We used to have a really cool plant store that sold a variety of unique hard to find species. I had eighty-seven plants in my tiny apartment! It was satisfying and gratifying to take care of them at the time. Now I struggle to take care of a couple. Life changes. Always changing each and every day. You don't notice it changing, but each day is completely different from the last.
I wished my dermatologist a happy Veterans day yesterday during a check up. I'm finding out my past life of worshiping the sun, even had a tanning bed for awhile, can cause issues with your skin later in life. Nothing serious. Did you know that most skin cancer doesn't show up until you reach fifty years of age? I did not know that. Something to keep in mind. I periodically check myself for strange looking skin tags. If you have something that comes and goes, comes and goes that's when you should get it checked out. Changing the subject.
Our home is getting holiday ready. I have not planned the Turkey menu yet, but since we generally prepare more traditional foods it's no biggy. It's also just the three of us, so we don't fret to much. Having said that, we love Thanksgiving and I'm excited for the day to arrive. We will begin putting up our Christmas decorations later after we turkey it up.
I made these the other night. Very good and I seem to be on a muffin crazed phase lately. When I was a teenager muffins were my thing. I remember making them all the time.
I'm off to sew some holiday soap bags for the shop.
Thank you, thank you for your holiday orders. I truly wish I could give you a huge kiss on the cheek and two hugs!
The past few days I've encountered some magical moments, spiritual happy ones that are wrapped in sweet honest soulful thoughts. My thankful thoughts and feelings are more precious than any material gift on earth.
Your kind words and thoughtful gestures fill my heart with gratitude and I feel blessed with abundant blessing on top of blessing.The spirit of Christmas sometimes comes from the unexpected. A gathering of kind generous souls that take time from their day to offer a kind word, a smile or simply a pat on the back.
Enjoy caring and sharing days and may the spirit of goodness and love feel your heart each and every day.
I tend to be attracted to less rather than more when styling or decorating. Those notions have always been part of my style.
The studio is getting a much needed clearing and I'm contemplating baby pine tree idees for the shop. The look is even more simple when using what I have. Vintage glass canning jars are perfect to house the holiday greenery. The little pine tree planted next door of the shop may be getting a light pruning. The baby pine jars will be displayed on the mantle and hanging below, the burlap and linen stockings.
By the way, I'm thrilled and over-joyed with the response I'm getting about the hand-made stockings. It's a joyful thing to know the stockings will be hanging in your happy holiday homes. Thank you. Some of you have not received your stockings yet since I just packed them and shipped them out yesterday. Thank you again and happy hand-made Christmas to you and your family.
Switching it up...
Have you seen all the different varieties of burlap garland and ribbon at the craft store? I browsed three entire shelves of it yesterday. Almost too many to choose from, if that's possible.
I also saw burlap ruffled trees skirts and a burlap lamp. I purchased the lamp. It was exactly what I've been on the lamp search for. Isn't that a great feeling when you look and look for the perfect something and then one day you spot it?
The studio is cleansed and I'm washing my vintage linens. You would marvel over my vintage linen collection, I know. I've been collecting it for years. My favorite piece is a long embroidered night dress. I'd really like to wear the gown to sleep in, but it's fragile threads are frail and delicate.
Oh and in case you don't frequent Bittersweets face book page, the holiday soaps are wrapped and ready! You can order off the web shop or drop by our brick and mortar shop. Thank you.
Beginning to see speckles of Christmas throughout the hand-made shop. Lily traveled next door with me to cut a few branches of pine to place in old glass canning jars. Kind of like having little Christmas trees scattered around, and I like the look. Kind of fits in with my "less is more" decorating scheme this season. The red & white, love ya always!
We've been working on our home this fall. Installing new windows, painting the stucco, etc. We always do the work ourselves. Since Lennis is a carpenter he has the hands-on knowledge of doing it all! Luck girl, aren't I? I also enjoy before and after results when I've done the work myself. Wonderful gratifying mood sets in, and similar to the feelings I have when making things, almost.
I hope you're having a pleasant autumn. The seasons are here for a short time. It seems they disappear as quickly as they come nowadays. Whipping by fast. Having the shop has allowed me to capture more of these precious golden days.
We made this yummy dish last night. I've made several varieties of veggie lasagna, and this was by far the tastiest of all. A bit time consuming to make, but worth the extra time involve, I'd say.
photo courtesy of Color Me Food
It looks just like the picture too, once it's made.
I worked on closets yesterday. Please notice the choice of words to describe my closets. So funny, I remember as a kid, my mom kept the cleanest, tidiest home, and my mom and dad had separate closets. My dads closet was clean and organized. He kept a shoe box filled with shoe shining essentials on the top shelf of the closet. I remember one day getting the box down from the shelf to explore his little shoe cleaning box more. I also remember him spitting on his shoes and then wiping them off with a cloth. He had a unique shoe shining spit technique that I'd never seen before. It intrigued me as a young girl.
My moms closet opposite of my dads. Chaos and miss-hap, piles and clumps. I take after my mom when it comes to closets. Not to mention we live in an old home. Back in the old days folks generally owned one suit and maybe two pairs of shoes. Little space was needed to store clothing. I kind of like the idea. It's definitely a feng shui idea. Just bears to witness, the concept has been popular for a long time.
It took me all day to organize and feng shui a couple of closets.
Then I ordered these shoes to put in my nice clean closet. I was in need of some heel shoes. The reviews appealed to me as did the shoes. Mostly the reviews.
The guest room closet in our home is always the worse. It's an extra space, you know how those extra spaces always end up crazy. Don't you?
The close to my heart Snowberries sitting in the mik glass container. I'm fond of white milk glass hobnail, but am fastidious in choosing the pieces I wish to have. That one caught my eye several years ago. Not an average milk glass container. Swiss dots and hobnail admiration, maybe a psychologist could read into that. Let's not go there!
Oh how I love red & white! Always have. I'm not fond of traditional red and green at Christmas unless of course the green hues come from a freshly cut tree from the forest. I'm headed to Julie's new farm to hunt for the perfect little volunteer seedling. Cedar's are known for growing in the forest. The birds drop the seeds and within a few years a little cedar sprouts. I'm not hunting for a big cedar, just a small one that I can save the roots so that I can transplant it in a white bucket. I'll need my rain boots since we've been getting substantial sprouts of fall moisture.
Oh yeah, Halloween. I'm not a big fan of the day, night. Maybe when I was a kid. I do love seeing the wee ones dressed up. We're taking picture on our big porch tonight. It's the annual Trick or Treat on the Square. Julie & Patty hand out candy. I'll make sure to get some shots.
After Hallows Eve, CHRISTMAS! Well I guess we can't forget Thanksgiving, but hey I own a retail shop and 'Tis the season to get ready for the big red day!
A visitor is coming in a couple weeks. I'm so excited! Share later...
Even though the shop has been super busy I've been keeping up with the hustle bustle of the pre-holiday season. It seems anyway. A very long list this morning, but it's much shorter now.
The burlap and linen stockings are dissapearing as fast as I can hang them on the mantle. I'm going to plan on listing the stockings on my on-line shop. Hoping for Thursday. That's the plan. I post last minute announcements on face-book now so if you're interested in anything Bittersweet, you may wish to hit our like button. Stay in the loop!
Oh yeah! A big pot of chicken and dumplings is a simmering on the stove. I never use a recipe, just a basic chicken dumpling recipe. I'll share later. This chocolate cake is baking as I type and a quiet evening is planned. Gearing up for the big Hallows Eve at the shop. We hand out candy to the wee ones and the not so wee ones. It's fast paced and both left and right hand are turning, spinning and handing out approximately thousands of sugar treats.
Working on putting it all together and making it uniform. The color red is jumping at me. Love red and white in a less traditional motif.