Tea

I've been seeing a lot of blog posts, treasuries, items proclaiming "Fall is Here!"  Kids are headed back to school, so it just seems natural that thoughts of cooler weather and Halloween will quickly follow.  I love this season.  I like getting back into wearing sweaters, going to fairs, picking pumpkins, and all of the other great activities that are part of fall.  This morning in particular I started thinking that fall really is coming.  With Irene going through, we are now having cooler nights and mornings, where I'm more comfortable in jeans than shorts if I'm outside.  And this morning I was particularly in the mood for a cup of tea.  This isn't unusual- I love tea.  And I'm just as likely to drink it hot in the summer as I am in the winter.  But today I was particularly in the mood.  It was just cool enough that a good cup of tea would be particularly warming and comforting over breakfast.

I'm pretty equal-opportunity as far as types of tea go; I'll try pretty much any kind (one of my favorites is a chocolate tea that the hubs says smells like feet, but I don't agree with him on that at all).  I even have a tea board going on Pinterest for some of the fun things I find and either want to buy or make.

What an awesome wreath for the kitchen!

Look- all straight lines!  I think I could handle this, and how great for travel?

I love the attached bag holder.

Are you having feelings of fall yet?  What does fall mean to you?  What's your favorite fall activity?

Looking for a Brand New Bag

To the ladies: how's your handbag?  Is it big?  Small?  Cloth?  Leather?  Organized, or a total disaster?

In my single days, I had a Vera Bradley Little Betsy bag, which was the perfect size and held everything I needed in its inside compartments.  Now I have been upgraded to a larger-sized Vera Bradley Stephanie bag that is either half-empty or completely jammed full depending on the circumstances.  When traveling (i.e. running errands) with Gus in tow, things are more on the jam-packed side with his snacks, drink cup, and toys, and if we're going someplace like a relative's house for several hours, generally a second bag is required. 

I figure at some point I'm going to need to upgrade again either because this bag is going to wear out, or life in general is going to force me into an even slightly larger bag.  Of course, when on Etsy, nice handbags tend to catch my eye anyway, and I've favorited several along the way that I've been considering.

First, this lovely style from marandalee.  Formerly under the shop name of babyeverafter, I love this style of bag that comes in several sizes, has lots of pockets inside, and her fabrics are oh, so cute.


Another of my favorites is this one from tanneicasey:


More cute bags, more cute prints!

I'm sure I could go on, and on, and on, but you get the idea of what I've been looking at and where I'm headed.  And maybe some day, eventually, I may be able to revert to something like this, which is so classic and beautiful:

A gal can dream.

Ideas?

To all of my sewing readers out there, and for the rest of you who have some great ideas, I need some help.

While in Jo-ann's Fabrics yesterday, perusing the remnant bin, I came across this fabric:


This little beauty is just under a yard (.97) and was in the clearance bin for half off $6.99 a yard.  When I got it to the register, it was on sale even more and I got it for just over $2.  Score!  My Gus is completely and totally about heavy machinery.  I want to make something for him, but I'm not sure what, so I would love to hear some ideas.  It's flannel and the whole thing is that pattern.  I was thinking a blanket with minky or soft fleece on the other side, but that is kind of plain and he has a lot of blankets, so I'm at a little bit of a loss.

Help?

Happy Friday!

Pinterest: I Tried It


Today is our first Pinterest link-up!  As you know, I've decided to start trying out the things I've actually pinned on Pinterest.  I started out with the Outback brown bread, then last week tried out french toast bites and pretzel bites (which, I have to say, I've already made the french toast bites again, they were so good).  And since I coordinated with my blogger friend Paige and that was a lot of fun, I decided it would be even more fun to invite anyone reading to try out a pin during the week and then blog about it and link up here today.  I'll tell you what I worked on this week, and then the linky party is at the bottom of the post.  I can't wait to see what you've all come up with.

Me, I decided to try these out this week:



Looks good, doesn't it?  Oh, and did I mention that it's Martha?  I never look at the link to where things come from until I actually want to know more, so that was a pleasant surprise.  I figured they would be like lemon bars, which I love, and decided to make them to take to a family cookout over the weekend.  Now, as you know, in my last Pinterest post I said that I had learned my lesson and actually started reading the recipes before I started.  Well, I lied.  I only learned my lesson that time.  I didn't read the part where you have to melt butter and let it cool, or bake the crust and let it cool, etc.  Lots of down time I wasn't prepared for.  Until this:


That's my one can of sweetened condensed milk from probably earlier than 2010, because those can have way in advance expiration dates.  Gross.  So, I melted the butter and while it cooled, ran to the store to get a new can.  Time crisis averted.






Looks similar, right?  Well, it was all well and good up to this point when I actually cut the thing and the whole crust just completely fell apart.  As in, if it wasn't sticking to the filling, it wasn't sticking at all.  Not pleased, Martha.


That's about half the crust right there, so I did what any self-respecting non-food-waster does and I rolled the whole square in the crumbs.


Better.  But the taste was only ok- kind of sticky-sweet, kind of bitter at the same time.  I wasn't overly pleased with them, and despite planning on making them again for a function this weekend, we're going to have strawberry shortcake instead.

So how about you?  Did your experiments go any better?  Link up below or leave a comment!  And remember- same time next week!  I think I'm going to stray from my food board for a little bit and actually try another type of project.

Feel free to grab a botton to add to your post to share this link-up with your readers!

life by the book
<div align="center"><a href="http://bythebookpaper.blogspot.com/2011/08/pinterest-i-tried-it_25.html" title="life by the book" target="_blank"><img src="http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-2ynpCaflZks/TlZBKSBzTTI/AAAAAAAAA2U/-8QL3erLaN0/s1600/Pinterest+Button.jpg" alt="life by the book" style="border:none;" /></a></div>

If you link up, please leave just the name of what you made this week.  Thank you for participating!

Sunshine

In an effort to have Gus socialize with other kids his own age, I've been taking him to library programs basically since he turned one.  This past May, one of the themes of the day was flowers, and as a final activity, the kids got to plant a sunflower seed in a styrofoam cup, which was fun for Gus and he got to mess around with some dirt.

Fast forward:


The seed is now probably about a 6-to-7-foot-tall plant with is beautiful flower right at the top, getting so big it's pulling the stake over.  Now I just need to see when's the right time to pull the seeds out of it!

P.S. Don't forget: tomorrow is the first Pinterest link-up!  If you've tried something from your Pinterest boards this week and blogged about it, come back to post your link.  I'm excited to see what other people have been working on!

Sausage Bread

This morning I realized I didn't have anything planned to write today- EEP!  But then I remembered that during the whole Pinterest-pretzel-bite ordeal when I was also cooking supper, I had taken a bunch of photos of the sausage bread I made so I could eventually share that with you.  Well, eventually is now, so here goes!  This is one of our all-time favorites, though I don't make too often it for the obvious reasons (hello, pound of sausage!).  It's great for supper with soup, which is now we do it most often, but it has also been requested at family parties as an appetizer many times as well.  This recipe comes from my oldest friend's mom, who passed it to us as we moved into our own apartment together so many years ago.


Sausage Bread

1 lb. sweet sausage (though you could use hot as well)
Chopped onion (1 medium) and garlic
1 T. olive oil
1 package fresh baby spinach
Grated Parmesan cheese
Pizza dough

In a large skillet, sautee onion, garlic, and sausage in olive oil until brown.  Add fresh spinach and cook, turning until slightly wilted.


Roll out pizza dough.  I make mine from scratch in the food processor, but you can find the pre-made stuff usually at the deli and the bakery at the grocery store.  Spread the filling evenly over the dough like topping a pizza.  Sprinkle with the cheese.  Roll like a jelly roll, starting from one side and tucking the ends under.  Slit the top several times.  Place onto a foil-lined and well-sprayed cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for about an hour.


Made the dough a little too big!




Cut into desired-sized slices.  I lined my pan with Reynolds Release foil, and I sprayed it with cooking spray as well because this bread tends to stick, and the last thing you want to do is pull the bread apart trying to get it off the pan.

Enjoy!

Pinterest: I Tried It

It was about two weeks ago when I wrote about trying the Outback brown bread recipe that I found and pinned on Pinterest.  I also asked anyone who was reading to check out my food board and help me decide what to try next.  Paige from Final Clothes-Out suggested the pretzel bites or the mozzerella balls (she had also pinned both on her board) and said she'd make one and I could make the other.  So after finding out that the mozzerella balls recipe had no link to it (complete disappointment, though I did find another similar recipe) we decided that I would take the pretzel bites and she would take mozzerella sticks.  Or bites.  I'm actually not sure which one!  But you can head over to Final Clothes-Out today to find out which one she chose and how it came out.  I'm excited to find out whether they're worth making.

Anyway, I had meant to try at least one of these pinned recipes a week, but, of course, life got in the way and there was no recipe made last week.  However, I found this awesome-looking french toast bites recipe earlier this week and having bought a baguette at the grocery store on Monday, set about trying it on Tuesday morning. 


Turns out it is a Williams-Sonoma recipe, and though I completely forgot to take pictures while making it and we ate every bite of it before I even thought of it, it looks just like what you see above except not as well plated.  And it is awesome.  The only thing I changed in it was that I used half and half instead of buttermilk because I didn't have any and never will.  Simple, easy, and so good you think you don't need the syrup but it's actually even better with it.  I'm drooling a little bit just thinking about it.

Ok, on to the planned recipe at hand: Soft Pretzel Bites


Let me preference this by saying that yes, I waited until the last minute to make these.  I could have done them earlier in the week but I didn't.  Yes, I was one of those people who waited to write their paper at the last minute, too, because that was the only time I was actually "able" to write.  Go figure.  And because of that, I was making these in the middle of making supper, which was sausage bread and French onion soup; neither of which are overly complicated but are slightly time-consuming, so that may have made this seem worse than it was.  Note to self: when trying a new recipe, don't try and do other various multiple things at the same time.

Now, having learned from previous mistakes, I actually read the recipe before I started, which caused me to learn that the dough in this recipe is designed to be made in a bread machine.  I do not have a bread machine.  So, on to the next best thing:


The Kichen Aid stand mixer with dough hook that has been used probably once since I got it at my wedding shower about four and a half years ago.  Don't get me wrong- it's an incredible machine.  But not having room for it on the counter makes me forget about it, and so I use my hand mixer all. the. time.  I decided to break it out figuring it would mix slowly and steadily the way I imagined a bread maker would.  I also read that the pretzels need to be boiled, so I started that pot going before I did anything else because I'm sure you know it takes awhile to get water boiling.  And I also discovered that the recipe calls for the dough to be made into pretzels.  But wait- isn't this pretzel bites?  So I rolled the dough into 38 balls instead of shaping pretzels.

Verdict: This one is pretty easy if you have something to mix the dough in- you don't have to activate the yeast beforehand or anything, just throw it all in the bowl.  The dough mixed up nicely, formed into balls just fine (though I would make them smaller the next time, or roll it out in a long snake and just cut it into small pieces), and cooked nicely.  I admit- I had to bake them in the toaster oven since the big oven had the sausage bread in it (planning!!) and they were crammed in, so I'd like to try it on a larger cookie sheet the next time.  Yes, there may be a next time!  I brushed them all with butter and sprinkled half with salt and rolled half in cinnamon sugar.  The hubs and I both agreed the cinnamon sugar was the better of the two, so we'll do them all that way the next time.







They did taste a little yeast-y right out of the oven, but got better as they cooled a little bit.  I would suggest letting them sit and cool for 10-15 minutes to let them set up and give you a more authentic pretzel taste.  They are also good as they get cold, but I think that when I go to eat the leftovers later today, I'll probably pop them in the toaster oven for a few minutes to crisp them up.  But, overall, they were really good, and as you can see, most of them were gone by the time I got the end shots.  I got hungry as I was making supper.

I find this exercise of trying my "pins" to be a lot of fun, so I'd like to try and make it a weekly thing, like Pinterest Thursdays.  I think I'm going to stick to my food board, plus a few of my Things to Do/Projects boards for ideas.  Feel free to go take a look at what I've got there and make suggestions, and if you've got boards you want to try from, feel free to make something and let me know about it.  I'd be more than happy to link up your Pinterest Thursday on my post.  I love to see how other people's projects come out.  Does that sound like a good idea?

And don't forget to head over to Final Clothes-Out right now to see what Paige ended up making and how it came out.  That's where I'm headed!

Wednesday

A few weeks ago, I got an e-mail asking about bookmarks for a library storytime-based birthday party.  Could I make some favors for the party?  Absolutely!

Orange for the boys, pink for the girls
And actually, there's a baby shower coming up to that's also book-themed.  Can we do bookmarks for that, too?  Sure!


I love these so much.  This lousy picture does them no justice.

Oh, and how about some thank you notes for the shower to match?  Ok!


And actually, while we're at it, do you make signs, like the kind that has the string attached?  Yes!

Up to that point in our banter, I actually had previously made all of the things she asked about.  The bunting sign was something new to me, but I knew I could do it, and really wanted to try.  Not too bad a result:



Needless to say, I had a lot of fun with this particular customer, who picked out some seriously cool paper and color combinations.  As far as the bunting goes, I was thinking, wow, I could sell these in my shop, but then I actually spent the time putting them together and I actually don't know if it would be worth it!  After hand-cutting the traingles with a rotary hand cutter and sewing them to the ribbon, and printing and layering, it was a lot of time, and everything basically went smoothly.  Luckily Mr. By the Book came and helped me out a little bit with all those triangles, and lucky me, he's just slightly more perfectionistic than I am so the signs look great.

There was a little bit of a time crunch due to a slightly later than anticipated delivery date on all that pretty paper, which arrived on Monday.  Everything needed to be shipped basically by Tuesday morning to be sure it would make it there by Saturday.  So, hence the rush and hence the lousy pictures taken both at night and early the next rainy morning.  Plus those are the only pictures I was able to get, so that makes me a little bit sad, but I'm happy with the result and glad that they are on their way.

And so now today will be back to business as usual: running errands, playing with Gus, and a new Pinterest recipe to try out for tomorrow's post (so check back!).  Maybe I'll also read those things I pinned on how to take a good photo......I hope everyone has a great day!

Goals


In general, I am not a goal-setter.  I don't like to say: Here's my master plan.  Not that I've never had an idea of where I'd like my life to go (hello college, job, marriage, kids, etc.), I just don't like to make definite decisions on what's going to happen to me.  I mean, what if things change radically?  I feel like if I say something out loud, then I'm locked into it and have to stick with it.  I'm really bad at believing that I can change things once I make a decision.  In fact, I think the worst question to be asked at a job interview is, "Where do you see yourself in five years?" because I never have a good answer for that.  Who knows?  Usually I want to say, "Working somewhere that pays me money, like here."  However, I don't think that answer would go over too well.

Anyway, I have been thinking about my little Etsy shop lately and I had a pretty good month in July, and looking at my sales, I started planning- just a little.  And so now I am going to do something a little but unprecedented and make a goal for my shop: I would like to have 100 sales by the time my one-year Etsy birthday rolls around in January.  I think it's good to have something to shoot for, and I don't think that number is anything too wacky or wild to project, and if I don't make it to 100 then that's ok, too.  But I'm going to work at adding some new items and would love to have a good run through the holidays.  We'll see what happens!

What goals have you set for yourself lately?

Inspired

I don't usually post shop stuff two days in a row, but I had to share.

First, I got some of those back-to-school bookmark samples that I mentioned yesterday done and listed- hooray!  Completely customizable and personalizable, you can find them here.



Then, I was trolling Pinterest yesterday and came across this:


After being wowed and wishing I had a place to wear this and be able to pull it off, I thought, I have teal and copper paper!!  So I ran into my crafting room and started to pull stuff out.  Along the way I came across this completely lovely gold metallic print paper that I've never been able to do anything with, and this was born:



They remind me of a wedding at Tiffany's.  I am so beyond excited about them.  My only beef is that I could not not NOT get completely amazing photos of them that do them justice because that gold is so tricky to photograph in the light!  Someone is just going to have to buy them and revel in their awesomeness.  These are being sold as a set of three here but I also added them to my wedding favors listing and need to add them to the blog page here.  So yesterday ended up being pretty productive!

I hope everyone has a lovely weekend!!

Ready for Fall?

As summer is coming to a close (I can't believe I'm saying that in the not-quite-middle of August, but doesn't it feel that way with the school suppies everywhere??) it's time to start thinking about fall.  I love the fall.  In New England, that means lots of fairs, leaves changing color, apple picking, jeans and sweaters.  This will also be my first fall season with Etsy, which means I've been working on some autumn-colored bookmark sets to add to my shop.

I love the combination of orange and teal backed with the brown!



These have matching note cards!


Ok, not quite "fall" but they are so fun! They hook around your book and help point out where you left off.

Not all of these are listed yet, as I am not completely happy with all of my picture-taking as of late (I know what I'll be working on today), but a few of them are here.

I would also like to offer classroom sets of bookmarks to teachers or parents as a welcome-back gift at school.  I actually did a classroom set of mini bookmark valentines this past winter, which was a lot of fun.  If I'm going to do that I need to get on the ball and make some samples and take some photos- quick!  It's going to be a busy day here.  Luckily we're looking at a sunny and 82 degree day so maybe I'll get some outside photos taken.

Happy Friday!