Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A shopping I will go

I've been MIA from the blog. The short story is that life has been madness lately! Day job, freelancing, sewing, grandpa with a broken hip, parents out of the country, yard's a mess, I could go on and on, but I won't. The good news is that I'm getting a break this weekend. We're going up to Minneapolis to visits friends, which I am very excited about. Among the sites to see, things to eat and drink and places to shop is Ikea. I love Ikea. I haven't even bought that much there over the years besides fabric, but I really enjoy the entire shopping experience. So many little things hidden everywhere, in drawers and closets and in every nook and cranny. I feel the need to thoroughly examine all the rooms so as to not miss a thing! Here's a few items that will be in my cart this trip:
New pillows!
We have four pillows on the bed. One of them is fine. Two of them are horribly uncomfortable and the remaining one is so gross, I'm surprised it doesn't get up and walk away on it's own during the day. Of course, that one is my favorite one, but every time I change the pillow case, it makes my stomach roll to look at it. Time for it to rest in peace!

 White dishes
The dishes we got when we got married aren't even five years old but they are already chipped and cracked. It's hard to find four plates and bowls to use when we have company that don't have chunks missing. At least with nice, simple white plates, if they get a chip it won't be as noticeable as it is on our dark brown dishes we have now.

Dutch Oven
These things are expensive. The one I want from Williams Sonoma is $400! Even though this blue one will look rather out of place with all my other black and red kitchenware, for less than half the price, it will do.
Tea canisters
The amount of loose leave tea consumed in our house is borderline ridiculous. We bought two of these last time we were at Ikea and they are great. Perfect size, air tight. Definitely need some more and for $8 for the set of two, we can get as many as we want!

Also time to restock the fabric for tote making for my Etsy shop. The shop is looking sad and very low on inventory. There are some old standbys that sell like crazy and a few new prints I'm hoping to pick up. 

Hooray! for new fabric and hanging out with Cavan & Scott!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Kitchen sink veggie pasta

This is a great recipe for using up lots of veggies from the garden or an over zealous trip to the farmer's market or grocery store. I think you could put about any veggies in this and it would be yummy. Vary the colors for the veggies and it turns into a very pretty dinner. 
1 lb penne or other larger pasta
2 lbs garden veggies, here's what I used:
1 small egg plant
1 medium zucchini
1/2 a large yellow onion
1 red bell pepper
1 16oz. pkg button mushrooms
1/4 c EVOO + 2 Tbsp
1 tsp dried sweet basil
1 tsp dried Turkish oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp black pepper

1. Cook pasta as directed on the box.
2. Mix all the spices together in a small bowl.
3. While pasta cooks, wash and dry veggies. Cut into bite-sized pieces. Toss with 1/4 c. EVOO and half the spice mixture. Put in a single layer on a baking sheet. Broil veggies for about 4-5 minutes, then flip/stir and broil for another 4-5 minutes.
4. Drain pasta. Toss with 2 Tbsp EVOO and remaining spice mix.
5. Mix pasta with veggies. You can add some salt now if you think it needs it or a couple of splashes of balsamic or red wine vinegar would be good too. Last time I made this I also topped it with some crumbled chevre, which was delicious. Feta would be a nice topper too.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Completely random

I spent the first half of the month researching and writing the Ten Things series for this blog with only one random post in the midst of those. Now I have a lot of random things that have no relation to each other but I decided to put them all in this post anyway. Bear with me.

Lemon Yellow
 Fabric from Mood 
(This picture does NOT do it justice.)
I have a new obsession with all things lemon. In the past, lemon scents and flavors have never been on the top of my list. I've never particularly cared for the color yellow either. (Wearing yellow makes me look a little ill!) When we went to L.A. last month and were shopping at Mood, I found some beautiful metallic gray (not silver though) linen with big, bright yellow flowers on it. It is completely not my normal style, but I was very drawn to it and kept coming back over and over. I bought some, having no idea what I was going to do with it (I think it's going to become new kitchen curtains, requiring a complete kitchen makeover). Anyway, it started my new obsession with yellow and, subsequently, lemons.

Ounce for Ounce
I really like shopping on One of the newer features is showing you how much a product costs per ounce so you can compare how much you'd save if you bought the giant bottle of laundry detergent verses the smaller one. Today I was looking at eyeliner and it is $75.00 per ounce! Good thing it's only 0.08 ounces. I don't think it's unreasonably prices or anything; I just think it's funny to see it priced out per ounce.

Preening Peacock
This infatuation started last winter when I bought a deep turquoise wool coat that, at least according to the receipt, was peacock colored. This shade has been infiltrating my wardrobe in everything from scarves and shoes to eyeliner. Similar to the yellow flowers on the Mood fabric leading to my new found love of lemons, this hue has resulted in me now adoring actual peacocks. How can you not love these beautiful birds? They get to wander around their entire lives in showy, black-tie-affair, luxurious formal wear. Did you notice peacocks infiltrated several of my Etsy picks for the Ten Things series?

São Salvador da Bahia de Todos os Santos
 Photos from Wikipedia
I want to visit Salvador, Brazil, also know as the "Capital of Happiness." As far as I can tell, it has about everything I want in a vacation destination: beautiful beaches, 500 years of architecture, museums and a lively local culture with native, Portuguese, African and Spanish influences. Plane tickets are quite pricey and there doesn't seem to be any direct way to get there. The best I found was three flights to get there and four to get back. Some of the routes have five or more flights!

Wikipedia has an extensive page with lots of photos and Seth Kugel wrote a very good article called 36 Days in Salvador for the Times. I have a couple of books on the area in my shopping cart on Amazon. I don't know if it's feasible yet, but I do have a week off in June. I've never been to South America or anywhere south of the equator. Have you been to Brazil? I'd love any suggestions.

A Few More Random Thoughts & Happenings
Last night one of our cats (Alven) brought something into the bedroom and was making a lot of racket. Upon investigation, he had brought some mail to us. It was an envelope with a clear window that he apparently like crinkling for the noise. Some people's dogs bring them the newspaper. Our cat brings us the mail, while we're still in bed. Beat that. 

Today I opened the closet in my art room only to find a deck of tarot cards all over the floor. When I bent down to pick them up, a 20 pound tool box full of art supplies fell on my head. Ouch. Again, I believe I have Alven to thank for this. 

If you made it this far, thanks for hanging in there for this very long, very random post.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

10 Things (Post #10): Write to someone who inspires you

This is my tenth and final post in a series about ten easy things you can do to be more environmentally friendly inspired by the book Change the World for Ten Bucks and N.E.E.T. Magazine. Read more about the rest of the list here.

While I'm not sure how this works for the whole save the planet thing, I do agree that this can help make the world a better place by making someone's day. A few years ago, I was given a whole bunch of fun blank cards and about the same time I bought a bunch of new stationary. I went on a letter and note writing spree. I'm all out of my favorites and rarely send a handwritten note anymore. I think just having a stock of note cards, stationary, funky desk accessories and pens can inspire you to write to a few friends without the computer.

Here's some finds on Etsy that will inspire you to break out the stationary and cards to write a good old fashion snail mail letter:

1. Robot Hello notecards from Sweet Harvey Letterpress
2. Natural sealing wax from Green Craft Store
3. Swirl tree thank you cards from Designs By Adj
4. Peacock calling cards from Michelle Brusegaard
5. Apple memo pad from Naraya Bags
6. Post Script card from Enormous Champion
7. Hand Stained Mini Envelopes from Shabby Chic Shack
8. Through my binoculars notecards from Gramkin Paper Studio
9. Recycled bike inner tube journal from Pale Pink
10. Matchbook notebooks from Zany Hoopla
11. Return address labels from Posh Girl Boutique 
12. Wax seal stamp from Istanbul Designs

The volume of cards, journals and paper products on Etsy is beyond overwhelming. just started an Etsy search where you can scroll through everything in your search criteria all on one page. I highly recommend giving it a try, especially for searches with hundreds of pages of results.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

10 Things (Post #9): Buy fair-trade products

This is my ninth post in a series about ten easy things you can do to be more environmentally friendly inspired by the book Change the World for Ten Bucks and N.E.E.T. Magazine. Read more about the rest of the list here.

Fair-trade practices aim to help producers in developing countries obtain better trading conditions with developed countries while promoting sustainability as well as social and environmental standards. Most fair trade products are arts and crafts or edibles like coffee, tea and fruit.

Fair-trade is one of those buzz words right now that a lot of people are using, without actually meeting any specifically set guide lines, so it's good to do a little research into a product or company to be sure they meet the standards you are after before spending the extra money to purchase a fair-trade product.

Here's some interesting and unique fair-trade items I found on Etsy:
1. Small Mahogany Ladle from Slightly Twisted Wood
2. Amate Top from Zelaya
3. 5 Tea Collection from Wild Root
4. Silkscreened Scarf from Toy Breaker
5. Tagua Nut Ring from Muichic Turquoise
6. African Shea Butter from Simple Organic Beauty
7. Paper Bead Necklace from Maid 2 Crochet
8. Coffee Sampler Set from Downtown Roasters
9. Fizzing Bath Melts from Mmmm Handmade Soap
10. Southeast Asian Spice Kit from Purpose Design
11. Handspun Yarn from Recycled Silk Yarn
12. Lavender Soap from Elephant Soap

Next post in this series: Write to someone who inspires you.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Fun in the bathroom

When I was little, my cousin and I would hide out in our grandma's bathroom and play in order to avoid pesky brothers and sisters. We'd stay in there for hours playing Monopoly and using entire cans of Aqua Net hair spray to do each others' hair. When our family would ask what we were doing in there and if we ever planned to be come out, we'd tell them we were "just pooping." I am sure we weren't fooling anyone, but it kept intruders at bay a little longer.

Although Lindsay and I didn't camp out in the bathroom this weekend playing boardgames and styling each others' hair, thanks to a few new products I picked up, I still had an enjoyable time of hanging out in the powder room. Here's why:

I HATE our bathtub. It is so shallow that my toes stick out of the water when it's full. (I wear a size 6 1/2, small feet by most standards!) We found the Bottomless Bath at Bed, Bath & Beyond and I tried it out yesterday. Amazing! Added about 4 inches to the depth of my bath water. Now I can sit in there and not freeze because more of my body is out of the water than in. Totally worth the $6. Word of caution though, if you have kids, this is probably a bad idea. The tube was quite full and could easily splash over if you're not careful.

Burt's Bees Lemon & Vitamin E Bath & Body Oil. Love it. I'm usually not all about bath oils. Too many of them are greasy or too strong smelling and leave the bathtub all filmy. The fresh, bold - but not overpowering - lemon scent woke me up and put me in a good mood. My legs feel so soft and my skin looks radiant. I can't wait to go home tonight and have another bath! It did make the tub a little slippery, so be careful, especially if you fill the tub to the brim by using the Bottomless Bath above!

I also bought an Almay eyeliner in deep jade. I have never worn colored eyeliner on days besides Halloween and St. Patrick's Day but I think I'll be wearing this a lot. "Deep Jade" would lead you to believe its green but it's not at all. It's a very dark turquoise or peacock color and the result is very subtle, not gaudy or costumey at all. This shade says it's recommended for hazel eyes, but I have very dark brown eyes and it makes them look almost golden. So pretty.

*Note: I am not being paid in any way to review or recommend any of these products.

10 Things (Post #8): Use a mug

This is my eighth post in a series about ten easy things you can do to be more environmentally friendly inspired by the book Change the World for Ten Bucks and N.E.E.T. Magazine. Read more about the rest of the list here.

Here are some great items from Etsy to help you reduce the number plastic and paper cups you use, or least stop using cardboard sleeves.

1. Tree Coffee Sleeve by Hazel Handmade
2. Owl Cup by Catherine Reece
3. Reversible Coffee Sleeve by Red Owl Designs
4. Cappuccino Cups by Page Pottery
5. Felt Coffee Cup Cozy by Megan Auman
6. Llama Mug by Patty Bilbro
7. Coffee Bat Coffee Sleeve by Bat Girl 93
8. Red Flowered Tea Cups from Open Your Window
9. Mustache Coffee Cozy by Thee Jamie Leigh
10. Hussy Coffee Mug by House of Ting Ting
11. Two Huge Mugs by Karin Lorenc
12. Button Coffee Sleeve by OC Styles Creations

Next in this series of posts: Buy fair-trade products

Thursday, March 11, 2010

10 Things (Post #7): Have more meals together

This is my seventh post in a series about ten easy things you can do to be more environmentally friendly inspired by the book Change the World for Ten Bucks and N.E.E.T. Magazine. Read more about the rest of the list here.

I could have done a dozen treasuries for kitchen and cooking related items on Etsy. There are so many cute, unique and beautiful items. Here are a few of my absolute favorite.

1. Yellow Recipe Box with Vintage Record Dividers by Freestyle Gifts
2. Greek Herb Blend from Kitchen Stories
3. London Tea Pot from Esther Coombs
4. Peacock Table Setting by Mary Wibi
5. Letterpress Recipe Cards by 1 Canoe 2
6. Muddler from Forest Treasures
7. Red Trivet from To Hell in a Handbag
8. Snow White Child's Apron by Lover Dovers Clothing
9. Yellow Serving Bowl from Jason Russell Potter
10. Lemon Apron by Spice Rak Designs
11. Betty Crocker Good & Easy Cook Book from Ross Road Relics
12. Kitchen Scrubbies by More Than Hats

There are so many cute aprons it's dizzying. I want an apron wardrobe now. One for each day of the week, or maybe even the month!

My MIL bought me some scrubbies similar to the ones in #12. I had never seen them before and at first I thought they were ugly coasters. They are amazing and work so well. I absolutely love them and will never be without them again!

Next post in this series: Use a mug

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

10 Things (Post #6): Turn off unnecessary lights

This is my sixth post in a series about ten easy things you can do to be more environmentally friendly inspired by the book Change the World for Ten Bucks and N.E.E.T. Magazine. Read more about the rest of the list here.

Turning off unnecessary lights seems like a no-brainer to me. If you're not in the bathroom, the light doesn't need to be on. But I also don't like watching TV or being on the computer when the room is completely dark either. Solution? Light a couple of candles. They smell good and give off enough light to not be sitting in the pitch black.

The fire light is also very flattering so maybe you can turn off the TV or computer and have a make out session with your honey, lowering your electric bill while generating a little electricity yourself! (Wiggle eyebrows suggestively here - which usually is a little more creepy than suggestive!)

Anyway, here's some fire light related finds on Etsy:


Next post in this series: Have more meals together.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

10 Things (Post #5): Try to watch less TV

This is my fifth post in a series about ten easy things you can do to be more environmentally friendly inspired by the book Change the World for Ten Bucks and N.E.E.T. Magazine. Read more about the rest of the list here.

We have been watching very little TV lately. After a bitterly cold winter with too much time spent in front of the television watching shows we don't even like, we've had enough. Our evenings are now spent playing games together or making something. There are so many fun options for adults and kids to keep you thinking and talking for the evening.

Some ideas for games: card games like Uno, Skip-Bo or cribbage, checkers or chess, puzzles and games you may not know how to play now but are easy to learn, like mancala. Not into games? Try painting, crocheting or knitting, scrapbooking, bead work/jewelry making or sewing. I find so much peace and tranquility when I sew; everyone should have an activity like that just makes you feel happy and relaxed.

Here are some great games and art supplies from Etsy


Next post in this series: Turn off unnecessary lights

Sunday, March 7, 2010

10 Things (Post #4): Give your change to charity

This is my fourth post in a series about ten easy things you can do to be more environmentally friendly inspired by the book Change the World for Ten Bucks and N.E.E.T. Magazine. Read more about the rest of the list here.

Whether you're putting your change in a traditional piggy bank or throwing it in a bowl on your nightstand like I do, those quarters, dimes, nickles and pennies can add up pretty fast. There are many eco-friendly charities out there who could really use your contributions. Find one that supports a cause close to your heart and you'll be more likely to remember to save your coins for them.

American Forests is the oldest environmental charity in the country, founded in 1875. The charity works to conserve forests, plant new trees and increase environmental awareness. Just $1 plants a new tree when you give to American Forests.

A second charity to consider worthy of your lose change is the World Wildlife Fund, which was founded in 1961. WWF works to protect wildlife - animals and plants - and to make better use of the natural resources we have. You can adopt a polar bear, support indigenous communities by buying their artwork or just give to their general fund.

Here are some selections from Etsy to give you somewhere pretty to collect that change. 


Next post: Try watching less TV.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

10 Things (Post #3): Shop Local

I'm big into shop local, especially during the summer when the downtown farmers' market is in full swing. Not only can you get fruits and vegetables, cheese, bread, meat and a huge variety of dry goods and condiments are also available. Beyond food, there are booths with clothing, plants, jewelry, art and so much more. Besides my friends, the farmers' market is what I will absolutely miss the most when/if we ever move from this area.

Alas, the farmers' markets - at least this far north - only run May through October. There are other ways to shop local by going to locally owned restaurants and stores that use raw materials from other local businesses, but you can also shop local right from your couch - on Etsy. Once you have an account, fill out your profile to include your home town or nearest larger town/city. Then on the homepage, click "Shop Local" and it will find up to 10 pages of the most recently updated shops in your area.

Although shipping within your own area cuts down on fuel needed, it still takes the proper packaging. Through the convo feature (kind of like emailing within Etsy) you can arrange to meet the seller somewhere, have them drop it off or pick it up yourself. No shipping cost, no using fuel to drive your package all over the county and you still get amazing products and possibly the opportunity to meet the creator and artist. Win, win all around as far as I can see.

Here's a treasury with some of my favorite items found by shopping local on Etsy in the Des Moines and Ames area.

1. Turquoise & coral beaded bracelet by jFrances Design
2. Hand painted mid-century platter from Odd Bits at Etsy
3. Hand printed eco binder by Urban Posture
4. Composition vintage journal by Paper Cake Creations
5. Vintage aluminum folding desk from Fusion Furniture
6. Japanese printed masking tape from Happy Tape
7. Letterpress calling cards by Sweet Harvey Letterpress
8. Wood bangle from Auryn Design
9. Argyle t-shirt by Hard Love Apparel
10. Reusable grocery tote by Tonya Dusold
11. Vegan mint soap from Two Rivers Soaps
12. Sango orange china creamer from Mary Marie

Next post in this series: Give your change to charity.

Friday, March 5, 2010

10 Things (Post #2): Plant something

This is my second post in a series about ten easy things you can do to be more environmentally friendly inspired by the book Change the World for Ten Bucks and N.E.E.T. Magazine. Read more about the rest of the list here.

The second thing on the list is "Plant Something." I live in Iowa where we are all lucky to have some of the most fertile soil on the planet. If you plant it outside, odds are it will grow with very little effort on your part. Two years ago, on a crazy whim, I decided to plant a garden. Other than occasionally helping my mom weed the garden growing up, I had no experience. I planted whatever popped into my head or had an enticing seed packet at Wal-Mart. Everything grew except my onions, which grew but popped out the ground too early. I am sure I didn't plant them deep enough, so that was my fault.

I have had HUGE success growing herbs in pots on the back patio, which are my absolute favorite part of summer gardening. Last year I had thyme, oregano, chives, mint, rosemary, cilantro and basil. They all did exceptionally well so I had fresh herbs all summer long. I can't wait to have them again this year!

Plants in the house are a different story. Right around the time we got married, I decided I wanted a bunch of house plants. Most of them did well for a while and then died. The ones that survived didn't make it in the sweltering car when we moved in July almost three years ago. It's mostly me, partially that our house doesn't get a lot of sun and partially the monsters cats eating and pestering them. I am willing to give it a try again. I think I might start easy with some succulents and go from there.

I found tons of cute, unique and affordable planters, seeds and identification stakes on Etsy. Here's a few of my favorites:

Next post in this series: Shop Local. Pay attention central Iowa because my Etsy selections will be local for you.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

10 Things (Post #1): Decline plastic bags whenever possible

This is my first post in a series about ten easy things you can do to be more environmentally friendly inspired by the book Change the World for Ten Bucks and N.E.E.T. Magazine. Read more about the rest of the list here.

The first thing on the list is "Decline plastic bags whenever possible." The best way to do this is buy and, more importantly, USE fabric totes for groceries and mesh bags for produce. The first excuse I always hear on this one is "I can't remember to bring them with." We had that problem too, so now we have enough to have several in each car at all times. Then you'll never be without one. Once they are brought in the house full, we empty them and they go right back into the car, or at least on the door knob of the door to the garage.

Next step is to remember to take them into the store with you. Force yourself to go back out to the car to get them if you're in the store and end up with more than you meant to or forgot them when you parked. One or two trips to the parking lot in the dead of winter before and after you go to the cash register will help you remember to take them in with you in the first place.

Here are some great reusable totes and produce bags I found on Etsy. I am a HUGE fan of #2 - Love for Earth and highly recommend her products. You can read my post about them here. Also, note the shameless plug of my own store at number 10!

1. Bee Things
2. Love For Earth
3. Earth Cadets
4. Cozy Creek
5. PearAphenalia
6. Made by Molly
7. Rusty Bike Shop
8. Pink Crocodile Designs
9. The Craft Pantry
10. Tonya Dusold
11. Two Knit
12. Whimsical Stitches 

Tomorrow I'll have a post on either "shop locally" or "plant something" for you.

10 Things

In a recent issue of NEET Magazine there was an article about the book "Change the World for Ten Bucks." NEET Magazine gave a list of 10 things from the book that you can do to be more environmentally friendly. They are all small, easy things that we can all do. Here's the list:

1. Decline plastic bags whenever possible
2. Plant something
3. Shop locally
4. Give your change to charity
5. Try watching less TV
6. Turn off unnecessary lights
7. Have more meals together
8. Use a mug, not a disposable cup
9. Buy fair-trade products
10. Write to someone who inspired you

This list inspired me to come up with a few related posts. The first of which will be today, with a list of great stuff on Etsy that can help you avoid plastic bags.

Anything not on this list that absolutely should be?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

All my loving - music loving that is

I listen to music at work constantly. I'd say of the 40 hours a week I spend in my office, 39.5 hours have iTunes blasting out of my speakers. I have a few play lists - Friday Gangsta Rap, Feel Better/Life is Good, a play list for my birthday and one play list of angry/I hate you music. More often than not though, my entire collection of music is on random, which leads to funny sequences of songs. Eminem followed by Elton John? Yep.

Anyway, a few random combos today made me wonder what songs I hear most often. Here's my top 25 played. (They aren't actually in order of most to least because I wanted to see how many artists are on the list more than once)

P.I.M.P. by 50 Cent
Not the Doctor by Alanis Morissette
Rehab by Amy Winehouse
Piece of Me by Britney Spears
Still Dirrty by Christina Aguilera
Cornbread by Dave Matthews Band
A Little Priest by Helena Bonham Carter (from the Sweeney Todd soundtrack)
Summertime by Hello Dave
It was a Good Day by Ice Cube
All My Loving by Jim Sturgress (from the Across the Universe soundtrack)
Anything's Possibly by Jonny Lang
Loose Lips by Kimya Dawson (from the Juno soundtrack)
Black Horse and a Cherry Tree by KT Tunstall
The Turn by M.I.A.
Tell Me Something Good by Maceo Parker
Heard the Word by O.A.R.
Farmhouse by Phish
Another Brick in the Wall by Pink Floyd
America by Simon & Garfunkel
Lodi Dodi by Snoop Dogg
Gin & Juice by Snoop Dogg
Octopus's Garden by The Beatles
I Want to Hold Your Hand by The Beatles
Your Lucky Day in Hell by The Eels
Regulate by Warren G

What does this list say about me? That I'm random and weird?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Goat tote update



Wild foliage
The totes I showed you a couple of days ago that were only half done are now actually complete. The top two are in my shop and the third one will be yet this week. The last one doesn't actually have any goats on it but I still like the crazy flora and the back side has a happy tree similar to the Pink Pear Tree tote

Happy trees make me think of my grandpa, whose name is Richard Ross. When I was little, he would tell my cousins and me that he taught Bob Ross how to paint and we believed him. Nevermind that we'd never seen my grandfather ever paint anything, let alone landscapes filled with happy trees.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Centro's tomato basil soup doppelganger

If you've ever lived or worked in downtown Des Moines, you've likely had lunch at Centro, which hopefully included their tomato basil soup, which is delicious. I found this recipe on Breaking the Recipe Rut, made a few of my own changes - more basil, add tortellini, etc. It turned out so good - exactly like Centro's. 

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup
1/2 c butter
1 c flour
4 c chicken broth
3 1/2 c fat free half & half
1 1/2 c marinara sauce
1 can diced tomatoes, Italian style
1/4 c chopped fresh basil
1 package tortellini
Ground black pepper

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour and stir for 5 minutes to slightly brown the mixture. Whisk in the broth. Increase the heat and cook and stir until thickened. Decrease the heat to low, stir in the half and half and simmer for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile cook the tortellini according to package directions.

After the 20 minutes of simmering, stir in the marinara sauce, tomatoes, basil and tortillini and cook until heated through. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

A few notes: After you whisk the flour into the butter, it will look a little like sugar cookie dough. This was unexpected to me for some reason, but appears to be correct, so go with it. Also, I doubled the basil to 1/4 cup and thought it was perfect, but if you don't like basil as much as I do, go back to the 2 Tbsps recommended in the original recipe or 1/2 a teaspoon of dried basil. You can also switch to vegetable broth to make this vegetarian.

Three billy goats gruff

I sewed this weekend! It's been a long time and it felt very relaxing. These three totes just need trim and handles attached and then they are ready for the shop. They have swimming goats, goats on a bridge and mountain goats on them and crack me up. I don't know when my love of goats happened, but now I love everything about them. They are cute and funny plus make wonderful milk that doesn't hurt my lactose intolerant tummy. The milk can be turned into so many great products like cheese, soap and more.

Random side story - Did your mom or grandma ever make you one of those shirts in the late 80s or early 90s that starts as a t-shirt, but they cut strips into the sleeves and bottom half, adding beads so you end up with a sort of beaded, tasseled top? Mine also had a pair of hot pink high tops ironed on the front. I was obviously the coolest kid in 4th grade. Anyway, I wore said shirt to the Milwaukee zoo on family vacation. In the petting zoo, the goats started gnawing away at my fringe and eating the plastic beads. I was not amused. I now realize that the goats were just trying to tell me what an awful fashion statement I was making.

I'm not sure why I've been in such a funk lately with sewing but I think I'm over it now. My list of projects is long. Besides yards and yards of printed canvas just waiting to become reusable grocery totes, I have fabric for new kitchen curtains, a skirt and a jacket.

I did finish and list this tote this weekend. For some reason, it really makes me think of hanging out on the beach in New England in the summer - which I have never even done - so I named it "Weekend in the Hamptons." I bought this fabric for a custom order and this is all I have left, so this will be the only one, so if you summer on the coast, better grab it quick!


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