November 30, 2008

Holiday Shopping for Me

Did you all have a nice long holiday weekend? We definitely did. We had some friends over for Thanksgiving and on Friday we all headed down to San Jose for the Harvest Festival - that's a huge craft show for those of you who aren't in the know. haha

My big purchase this year was "Wooly". He's the cutest sheepskin covered footstool you've ever seen. He's a buffalo and comes complete with his own fuzzy goatie. Wooly has friends. If you'd like to see them, click here.

My friends Bob and Sue are vendors at the Harvest Festival, so that's the main reason we headed down to the show. I picked up a new snowman for my collection from Sue. He's so cute!

That's all the shopping I did this weekend. How about you?

November 24, 2008

Cake Decorating Fun

This weekend I did something I've wanted to do since I was about 10. I took a cake decorating class at the local cake supply shop! It was a 4 hour workshop, and I really loved it.

There were 9 of us in the workshop. We each got a Styrofoam cake to decorate and lots of parchment paper to practice on.

Everyone thought the basket weave technique was pretty cool. It took a long time, so I only went half way around.

We also learned a few borders, some small flowers (the teacher made those blue ones), and what every girl wants to learn...roses! Mine turned out surprisingly well.

I got a set of tips a few weeks ago so I could practice at home. I can't wait to do some more frosting art. I wish that cake had been real. mmmmm

November 21, 2008

Two Spoonfuls - Pumpkin Season II

One day, Ginny said to Jenn: "Let's do a cooking blog post." A flurry of emails later, Two Spoonfuls was born!

We are two creative gals who became friends through our mutual love of fabric and sewing. Now, we're bringing our energy and style into the kitchen, trying new recipes, re-vamping old favorites and sharing them with you.

We'll use familiar ingredients to create dishes that are flavorful and easy to prepare, while adding our own helpful tips, bits of kitchen wisdom, and a little food history too. The recipes we share will be practical, with easy gourmet touches.

Look for Two Spoonfuls recipe recommendations: always in time for a weekend, to share with your family and friends.

This week I made
Libby's® Pumpkin Roll from For the full recipe, click here. I've always been intrigued by these fun looking swirled desserts, and a little intimidated too. It was actually really easy to make. The ingredients are pretty simple: Powdered Sugar Flour Baking Powder Baking Soda Ground Cinnamon Ground Cloves Salt Eggs Granulated Sugar Canned Pumpkin Walnuts (if you like) Butter Cream Cheese I know, it's kind of a long list, but they're all really basic things that you probably have on hand. The only thing I had to purchase special was the cream cheese, oh, and the pan. You'll need a 10x15" Jelly-Roll Pan to make this cake. A Jelly-Roll Pan is basically a cookie sheet with sides.

Jelly-Roll pans can also be used to roast meat, so they're pretty handy. I bought two sizes.

When you get to the rolling stage, make sure you roll it in a non-loopy kitchen towel. No terrycloth.

You only need 2/3 cup pumpkin, so you'll have a bunch left over. This morning I added some to my pancake batter and made pumpkin pancakes. mmmm

The final cake made about 15 1/2" slices.


Ginny's Notes:

1. Be sure to read through the directions before you get started. You need to grease the pan, lay wax paper over it and then grease (and flour) again. If I hadn't watched this video, I'd have likely messed that up and had a sticky mess on my hands.

2. The cake is very sticky. When I tested it for doneness, I couldn't be sure because of this. I followed the directions and checked after 11 minutes. I could have taken it out at that point but gave it another minute or so. I think it was a little bit overcooked.

3. The cake itself doesn't have a very strong flavor. If I make it again, I'll add some ginger or maybe a little pumpkin pie spice sprinkled on top.

4. The amount of filling in the picture had me worried, so I spread mine quite thin and discarded about 1/3 cup. I think it was just the right amount in the end.

5. Don't be stingy with the powdered sugar! It will save your life and keep things from sticking.

This was a great pumpkin recipe and I can feel good about at least part of it being good for me! Pumpkin is a great source of vitamins and nutrients. It's low in fat and calories & can even be used in place of oil in some cake mix recipes.

Check out for more information on raw pumpkin and everything else you can think of. What a great website.

Now, let's check out what Jenn made with Pumpkin this week. (I think I know what I'm baking for Thanksgiving)

November 19, 2008

On My Desk

I know, I haven't played "On My Desk" since September! Sorry about that, I know you're probably aching to see what's laying around in my sewing room. Thanks for the interest. haha

I've always got several things in the works. Most of the time my works in progress are directly related to my shops. I'm not sayin' what the alphabet stamp, paper pack and Rolodex are for, but they aren't for my shop! I hope to make a new handbag out of the cool red fabric. I just can't decide which design to use..maybe this one. That orangey colored leaf print will by my Fall cloth napkins soon.

I've got about 5 boxes of sewing patterns in my sewing room closet. I've been slowly trying to destash a bit so they've been making their way into my shop. This is the next round that will be available. Lots of wintery stuff like coats and Christmas crafts. If I haven't used them by now, I probably never will.

This is for a custom order for a market customer. It's a simple project, but large. I'll be tackling it very soon. So much to do, so little time!

November 17, 2008

Too Many Magazines

Normally, I'm not a magazine reader. (Scratch that, I'm never a magazine reader. I'd say I'm more of a magazine looker-atter.) I like to look through them and pour over the wonderful crafts & pictures, but I don't know that I've ever read an article. I don't even buy them that often. That being said, I find that lately I've acquired a few more magazines than usual so I have to share a few of them with you. (At least I'm getting some use out of them this way.)

The first is "Sew Hip", a new sewing magazine from the UK. It just arrive the other day and it's quite nice. There's an interview with our sewing hero, Amy Butler. Tons of great patterns and lots of nice photos too. I pre-ordered my issue from the Sew Hip website. If you go to this page, you can order a copy for yourself.

What's cool: There's a whole page dedicated to Etsy sellers! It's a nice magazine, but I simply can't afford the international pricetag. Perhaps they'll carry it at my local ginormous book stores. I will definitely pick one up when I'm in the UK again.

Magazine #2 "Holiday Crafts", an impulse buy at the checkstand. Perfect! This one is from Better Homes and Gardens and it's just crammed with adorable craft ideas for the holidays.

I find it hard to resist a cute snowman project. What else could I put a cozy on? hmmm I'm thinking Gadget Snowmen for next year.

If I received a gift with one of these guys on it, I'm not sure I'd even want to open it. What could be better? haha Anyway, I highly recommend this magazine if you're looking for some crafty ideas. It's really great.

Last on my list today is Martha Stewart's holiday isuue. It's all about making a handmade Christmas. I'm not known for being a big fan of Martha, but I do love her "stuff". Or the stuff in her books & magazines, that is. However, I'll admit I was disappointed in the projects in this magazine. It's just not my cup of tea and I wish I'd taken the time to look through it before I bought it. You might love it though. To each his own, right?

I'm not saying there's nothing in it for me, just not enough that I'll ever look through it again. I do like the idea of snowflake shaped marshmallows. My guess is that Martha expects me to make my own darned marshmallows and then cut them into cute shapes. In my spare time. Right. Don't count your snowflakes till they've fallen.

There are tons of great magazines on the racks this time of year, tell me which ones you've found.

November 14, 2008

Quantum of Sadness

I'm afraid I'm not a Bond fan, but I'll be seeing the film today. If it wasn't for Daniel Craig, I don't think I could do it at all. Someone please bring your husband over for a play date so I can stay home.

November 12, 2008

Away for the Weekend

This past weekend Nick and I went to visit our friends who hosted our wedding back in April. It was nice to see them and to be back in such a special place. I love that they still have the wreath on the door from the wedding. So pretty!

We spent an afternoon wandering through some shops in Mariposa, a small town about 30 minutes away. I was most interested in the kitties hanging out by Chocolate Soup.

On our way home we stopped at the biggest outdoor shop I've ever seen. It was amazing. At the entrance we walked through a giant tree and there were taxidermy animals all over. It was really neat, and Carnaby had a great time too.

It wasn't all fun & relaxing. I got lots of new monkeys made while we were away. Better get busy with my camera and get these guys into the shop.

November 06, 2008

Two Spoonfuls: Pumpkin Season!

One day, Ginny said to Jenn: "Let's do a cooking blog post." A flurry of emails later, Two Spoonfuls was born!

We are two creative gals who became friends through our mutual love of fabric and sewing. Now, we're bringing our energy and style into the kitchen, trying new recipes, re-vamping old favorites and sharing them with you.

We'll use familiar ingredients to create dishes that are flavorful and easy to prepare, while adding our own helpful tips, bits of kitchen wisdom, and a little food history too. The recipes we share will be practical, with easy gourmet touches.

Look for Two Spoonfuls recipe recommendations: always in time for a weekend, to share with your family and friends.

For the first installment of Two Spoonfuls we're going to make some yummy pumpkin recipes...I made a Spiced Pumpkin Cake.

You know those cool cake pans you can get that look like something? I mean something other than a traditional cake, something cool like a giant cupcake or a beehive? Yeah, well I love those fancy cake pans. A few years ago, before I moved to the UK, I bought The Great Pumpkin Pan from Williams Sonoma. They don't carry it any more, but you can buy it direct from Nordic Ware. Did you know that Nordic Ware invented the Bundt Pan in 1950? That's so cool - I love Bundt pans too (I've got this one)!

The Great Pumpkin Pan is cast-aluminum and it's fantastic. Cast-Aluminum pans are said to distribute the heat evenly and this one is also nonstick. The cakes just fell right out, amazing!

I decided that I'd try out the recipe that came with the pan, you can download it here. I like to get all of my ingredients out and measured before I begin following the steps of a recipe. This one has a ton of ingredients but I think it was worth the effort. Even Nick loves this cake and he says he's not a huge pumpkin fan (though, secretly I think he is).

I found the directions pretty easy to follow, even though I'm a novice mixer operator. I made a huge effort to distribute my batter evenly in each side of the pan, but there was still some trimming required. The best thing about the trimming: we were able to give the cake a taste test before I take it with us to visit friends today. hehe

There were 3 photos of the cake along with the recipe and none of them impressed me as far as decoration goes. I decided in the end that with a cake this sugary and dense, I don't need frosting. I just sifted a little snow (powdered sugar) on top and added a few leaves from the tree in front of my house. I'm so glad I finally got a chance to make a cake with my fancy pumpkin pan. I'm sure it'll be a hit with our friends, it's delicious.

Ginny's Notes:
1. It took me all afternoon to make this recipe, mostly because of the number of ingredients. This isn't a last minute cake and you might have to do a bit of shopping to make it.

2. I over floured the pan and ended up with some unsightly edges on the pumpkin halves. Generously grease, lightly flour.

3. The recipe calls for walnuts. I left the nuts out because Nick's allergic and I'm opposed to nuts "in things". If you want to try something other than nuts, I recommend chocolate chips. They'd be delicious with this rich cake.

4. If you don't have a fancy pan, try making this cake as a Bundt. If you have some batter leftover, make a few cupcakes too. They'd make a nice addition to a packed lunch.

Now, lets stop in at Jenn's to sample her pumpkin bread pudding!

November 05, 2008

And the Winner Is....

Thanks so much for stopping by to see the Virtual Home Show the past few days everyone. It was a lot of fun! I hope you enjoyed it too. And now I'd like to tell you who the lucky winner is...

Cascade! That's Cascade Lemonade to you folks. Thanks a bunch for playing everyone. I'll be contacting the winner so she can choose one of these three monkeys to have as her own.

Have a great holiday season!

November 03, 2008

Virtual Home Show

I'd like to welcome you to the
Some friends and I have gathered together to show you some great handmade gift ideas to get the holiday ball rolling. I'd like to invite you to our two-day event, showcasing some lovely items from these talented ladies:

Sue Bleiweiss has some beautiful handmade notebooks to show you.

Felicia Haywood has been making the cutest toys around.

Lisa Jordan makes the sweetest felted treasures.

Jenn Maruska's sewing gifts are just the best!

Julie Thomas has some gorgeous pottery to show you.

Karen Wittkop
will help you wrap things up with her adorable gift tags!

Stop in and check out the beautiful things these girls are working on, there will be prizes and lots of great holiday shopping ideas.

As for me, it's all about monkeys! Yep. It's monkey season so I decided to tell you a bit about how it all started...
Early in 2007, while on a trip to California (I was living in the UK at the time), Nick and I paid a visit to some friends of ours who live near Yosemite National Park. (These friends recently hosted our wedding at their home...I had to mention that.) Anyway, I'd just made the first ever official Gadget Monkey, seen above. His name is Randy and he was promptly adopted by Jim & Julie. We took Randy along on a trip into Yosemite and that's when we all came up with the idea for the Monkey Travel Club Flickr Group and shop. At first, I sold my monkeys out of my orginal Etsy shop, iSew, but later the monkeys took over and demanded their own space. So, on January 1st of this year, Monkey Travel Club opened it's virtual doors. And the rest, as they say, is history. At this point I've made over 430 monkeys!

When I started, the Gadget Monkey was the only style. Now there are pencil cups, coffee sleeves and whole lot more.

Anyone for a pumpkin spiced latte? I always get a smile when I bring a monkey along for a cup of coffee.

Isn't that sweet? Mick got Esther an iPod for Christmas. And Woody finally got the little brother he's been asking for.

I've just started working on some new Christmas monkeys for the shop. These 3 say they want to stay here, but I'm not sure I can put up with them. Leave a comment (by midnight on Tuesday night Nov. 4) and pick some names for them and maybe you'll win one! I'll announce a winner on Wednesday.

Now I'd like you to swing by and see my friend Felicia and her adorable little friends. Enjoy the home show!

November 01, 2008

Handmade and Homemade

For a while, I've been thinking about making myself some new recipe cards. The inside of my recipe box is a complete mess. There are folded sheets of paper, random cards, pages ripped from magazines and who knows what else. So, I went over to Paper Source and got myself some blank cards, whipped up some artwork, and voila! What do you think?

I used the A2 size flat cards with a scalloped border. They are the palest shade of pink with a little bit of texture too. Perfect for my particular recipe box.

Here's the little cupcake I created for the corner. Are you surprised I went with a cupcake?

Now that I've got all these cards, I need to rewrite all the messy recipes. I suppose I'll get to that after Christmas. Baby steps, right?

p.s. Sorry about the bad photos. It's been raining here for a few days and it's practically dark in the day time!