Sunday, November 26, 2017

My girls are tweens!

Years have gone by since I have posted.  I got so busy with life that I let my website domain name lapse.  Some company from somewhere in Asia took it over and I cannot figure out how to get them to relinquish so I can have it as my website again.  Oh well...

In the scheme of things, this really is trivial.  What matters most is that I have an amazing career as an educator, my daughters, now 7 and 9 are healthy and happy and are beginning to find what makes them tick.  Both girls play piano and are in the school band this year.  Madrone is playing clarinet and Scarlet is playing percussion.  Madrone has found swim to be her passion and Scarlet loves soccer.  She is giving her hand at basketball this year so we shall see how that goes.

Since both girls share a room, and will always share a room, it was long overdue that we got them out of the hand-me-down bunk bed from my younger brothers and create a shared space that created a bit of privacy for them as well as giving them each their "own" parts of the room.  The girls and I searched on Pinterest and came up with the general model of two twin beds end to end.  The rest sort of morphed as the project went on.  We started Veteran's Day weekend and finished the day after Thanksgiving.  I was happy to have my living room back, where the girls slept on their twin mattresses, as well as our patio which was covered with construction materials for the duration of the build.

The room, fully outfitted with IKEA purchases.  IKEA is
a bit modern for our liking, which is why I wanted to keep
some of the natural wood color.  I am so excited how it
turned out.  The girls are as well!
Scarlet's space

Madrone's space

View from Madrone's space.  The couch doubles as a full size
guest bed.

Madrone's bed

Scarlet's bed

Reading lights from IKEA

View down the beds.  We will eventually hang a curtain
between the two beds.  We originally planned for a wall,
but decided they would not like having to go down to get to each other's beds.

Hanging lights over their desks/couch from IKEA

3/4 inch steel pipe that we spray painted silver for their hand rails

Same 3/4 inch steel pipe for safety bars

Ladders are movable and are fastened to the steel bar with hooks
that Jack welded.
Curtain rods from IKEA.  Just waiting to borrow a sewing machine
so I can sew their curtains.
Semi-flush mount light from Amazon

IKEA has everything you might need.  There was a 12" x 16"
vacant spot in the corner of Madrone's side next to the bookshelf
and her desk.  Found this gem of a table in the bathroom section. 
It even had a bamboo top just like their desks!
Can't forget about the ratties!!

Peanut, one of the ratties saying, "Hello."

An Aunt Pat original gifted to the girls.
A Gigi Hotelling original gifted to me by my Gramma
several years ago.  It looks GREAT in the girls' room!

Some of the girls' original art work on either side of the center picture.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Pear or Apple Upside-Down Cake

I made this recipe using Bartlett Pears from our orchard when they were ripe and absolutely fell in love with the results.  I just made it for a second time using Granny Smith Apples from our orchard and have made some modifications to the recipe (added oatmeal and walnuts- everything tastes better with walnuts in my opinion)  Ground flax seed is another ingredient that I add to mostly everything I bake.  I even add it to my crepes.  We are headed to a friend's house tonight for dinner so I haven't yet tasted this newly modified apple version.  I am sure it will taste every bit as delicious and probably better because of the walnuts.  ;o)

Adapted from a Family Circle Recipe

Makes 16 servings  Prep 30 minutes
Bake at 350 (325 convection) for 55-60 min
Cool 5 minutes

2 T cold butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup oatmeal
2 pears or apples (about 1 lb), 
   peeled, cored, thinly sliced
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 T ground flax seed
1 cup finely chopped nuts- optional
   (I use walnuts)
1 T ground ginger or cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cardamon 
  I omitted because I don't have it
1/2 cup (1 stick) softened butter
1 cup granulated sugar OR 
   7/8 cup honey
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup milk

*Heat oven to 350 degrees or 325 degrees if using convection

*Add cold butter to a 10-inch springform pan.  (Mine has a hole in the middle but it gets the job done!)  Heat in oven until melted, about 3 minutes.  Swirl pan to coat bottom and sides with melted butter.  Sprinkle evenly with brown sugar and oatmeal.

*Fan slices of pear (or apple) over sugar, with pointed ends toward center of pan, overlapping slightly.  Sprinkle more brown sugar on top of fruit.  Set aside.

*In a small bowl, whisk together flour, ginger (or cinnamon), baking powder, salt, cardamon (if using), ground flax seed and walnuts.  With a mixer, beat softened butter in a large bowl until smooth.  Add granulated sugar (or honey) and beat 2 minutes, until creamy.  Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in vanilla.

*On low speed, beat in flour mixture, alternating with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture.  Spoon batter over pears (or apples) and spread to pan edge with a spatula.  Wrap bottom of pan with foil and bake at 350 degrees (or 325 degrees convection) for 55 to 60 minutes.  Test center of cake with a toothpick; if pick tests clean, remove to a wire rack.  Cool 5 minutes.

*Invert cake onto plate; use a knife to loosen all edges from pan and remove side of pan.  Carefully lift off pan bottom and cook cake to room temperature.  Serve slightly warm with ice cream or whipped cream, if desired.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Most Scrumptious "Ketchup" Recipe Ever

So with another summer coming to an end, the summer garden is also coming to an end.  We still have tomatoes to pick and the chard is going strong.  I just processed 40 pounds of asian pears into spiced pear butter and am really looking forward to harvesting apples from our orchard in a month or so.  However, my favorite recipe for the season was ketchup.  It is NOTHING like store bought ketchup and I love it so much I would consider putting it on anything!  My dad is that way with Tabasco.  He puts it on everything...  I processed 34 pounds of heirloom tomatoes (picture to the left) from our garden and made this recipe as well as BBQ sauce.  I got 10 1/2 pints from a double batch and after giving all but 4 jars away I decided this sauce is precious as gold to me and I cannot afford to be giving any more away.  When my daughter's teacher gave me 12 more pounds of tomatoes, I knew I had to make some more of this delicacy.  

The great news is that it is easy to make, although a bit time consuming, and it is soooo worth the effort.  I was able to cut down on the time consumption aspect of reducing it down by using the oven rather than the stove and with future sauces like this, I will forever use that method.  Rather than having to be near the stove for several hours, stirring every few minutes to prevent burning, all you have to do is stick it in the oven for a few hours and let the oven do the work.  With that said, here is the recipe and some photos (although I did not take any at the start because I decided to do this after I had already washed and de-skinned the tomatoes.)

Recipe adapted from The Big Book of Preserving the Harvest by Carol W. Costenbader:

Tools you will need:
  *kitchen scale (optional but in my kitchen it is now an essential)  I have the Soehlne Page Profi and I LITERALLY use it daily for cooking and/mail.  Here is a link to purchase from Amazon if you have any interest.  You will NOT regret it!!  Soehlne Page Profi Digital Scale 
*cutting board and knives
*large pot
*bowl for ice water bath
*wire mesh strainer or similar to strain tomato seeds from juice if you want to make tomato/basil soup with the fresh tomato juice.  Here is the recipe I use and it is AMAZING!  Tomato Basil Soup
*food processor (blender) or stick blender- I use both for this but you will need just one
*water bath canning supplies: large pots with wire baskets, jar tongs, jars and lids 

  Ingredients (for a single batch):
*8 pounds tomatoes
*1 medium onion (I run through the food processor rather than chopping)
*1 cup sugar or 1/2 cup sugar + 7/16 cup honey 
*1 cup distilled white vinegar
*4 tsp salt (I use sea salt)
*2 T dry mustard
*1 1/2 inches cinnamon stick
*1 1/2 tsp whole cloves
*1 tsp celery seed
* 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper 

1) Wash and destem tomatoes.  Dip in boiling water for about 60 seconds, until the skins split.  Transfer to ice water bath, then slip off the skins.  Do this with all the tomatoes before halving them and squeeze out seeds and as much juice as you can.  I feed the skins to my chickens and collect the seeds and juice in a clean bowl so I can strain later to make tomato/basil soup.

Strain the seeds from the tomato juice using a wire mesh strainer or any other strainer.  The tomato juice is delicious to drink or make into homemade tomato/basil soup (as I keep mentioning because it is sooo good).  My five year old LOVES it!  I mean really with ingredients like fresh tomato juice, butter and whipping cream, who wouldn't?  ;o) husband...

The picture above is my chicken scraps container.  It was my grandma's flour container.  She was a make everything from scratch kind of gal so I love having one of her kitchen utensils that I use daily.

2) Begin heating deseeded and dejuiced tomato halves in a heavy pot and puree the onion(s) in a food processor before putting in the pot with tomatoes.

3) Using a stick blender or your food processor, blend the tomato and onion mixture until it is a fairly smooth consistency.  This is all to preference as to how thick or smooth you want your ketchup to be.  I make mine pretty smooth, although it is not as smooth as store bought.  It is still a bit lumpy.  

Below is the consistency of mine.

4) Reduce the mixture down for several hours.  I put my batch and a half in convection bake 250 degrees for 3 hours and it was just the right amount of time.  You want it to reduce down to about half.

Above are the whole spices I put in the cheesecloth (cinnamon stick, whole clove and celery seed)

5) Return tomato mixture to a heavy pot and add sugar, vinegar, salt, dry mustard and cayenne pepper.  Mix then add spices that are in cheesecloth.  I use a clip to hold the cheesecloth spice bag to the side of the pot.  Simmer until sauce "rounds up" on a spoon and there will be no separation of liquids.  I think this took about an hour.  You could always put back in the oven and use that method if you don't want to have to stir frequently.
Note- I would start your water bath pot(s) as the spices are simmering because they take a while to boil.  Because of water's high heat capacity they will stay hot for a long time so if they boils before you are ready just turn off the stove and then turn back on when you are ready.  It shouldn't take long for them to return to a boil. 

6) Remove and discard the spices in the bag.

7) Fill clean, hot jars- leaving 1/8 inch headspace.  I sterilize my jars in the dishwasher and then put them in a cool oven and set the temperature to 225 degrees.  That way they are nice and hot when I put the hot contents in and they don't break.  Clean rims with a clean, wet rag or paper towel before putting hot caps on- I put caps in a bowl of hot water.  Hand tighten rings.

8) Process in a boiling-water-bath canner for 15 minutes.  Add 1 minute for every 1000 feet elevation over 1000 feet.

9) Remove jars and cool on a wire rack on the counter.  DO NOT tip jars to get excess water off the top.  You can use a rag or paper towel to soak up if you care that much.   My water is so hard there is always a white residue from the minerals left on the lids that I then have to go back and wipe off.  Let jars cool for 24 hours before testing lids for seal.  I remove the rings and lift on edge of lid.  If they don't lift up and the center of the lid is indented you have a good seal.  Store up to a year and ENJOY!!!  There is NO WAY mine will last a year.  :o)

 I would love to hear from you if you make the recipe and also if you have any feedback for my FIRST recipe write-up.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Moxie Glass Company Straws

My husband always thought it was ridiculous that I used a plastic straw with my mason jar cup when I told him the reason I liked using my jar cup was because it was glass and therefore did not leach any chemicals into my beverage, PLUS it was better for the environment.  I did major in Environmental Studies for goodness sakes!  ;o)  He is absolutely right that it is a little silly I was not also using glass straws.  I knew they were out there so I did a little research to see what I could find.  There are actually quite a few different places you can purchase glass straws, just as there are thousands of people who make tutus and hundreds who make mason jar cups.  I was perusing the glass straws on Etsy and fell in LOVE with the critter straws made by Melissa of Many Mini'sShe owns Moxie Glass Company in Fort Collins, CO.  Melissa and I got to chatting, as I LOVE to do, and we decided to start working together.  She is going to be supplying me with straws and I am going to be supplying her lids for mason jar cups.  She actually is a VERY talented glass blower and offers many other unique glass creations at very reasonable prices.  You have to check out her art!  I just found that she has a Pinterest page too, but I have YET to get into Pinterest.  I hear from MANY people it is addicting, but between my girls, the goats, chickens, teaching part time, my hobby/side job- Jeni Harvey Designs, I just can't find the time to check out one more thing!  Anyway, if you are looking for the most adorable, custom glass straw to go with your mason jar cup, I know just the lady to help you out.  :o)  Or if you decide to get a straw with your cup from me, stay tuned as I should be carrying her straws very soon!!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Mason Jar Straw Drinking Cups and Lids

It's been a while since I've posted and I must say that I am much better about keeping my Etsy shop up to date than my blog and Facebook page.  Life has been extremely busy keeping up with Scarlet and Madrone (2 and 4) (check out my friend's jewelry shop named after them- Scarlet & Madrone), the chickens and goats, my side jobs of making mason jar cups, tutus and photography, teaching Transitional Kindergarten and of course trying to stay on top of housework!  The last one I tend to just keep the laundry and dishes done and everything else I get to when I can squeeze in time because as most of you know, it will ALWAYS need to be done so it can wait.  ;o)  Currently, my 3' x 6' island is covered in gift baskets filled with a 24 ounce mason jar cup, several recipes I canned this year (peach butter, roasted pepper dipping sauce, all fruit plum jam, grape jelly), venison jerky as well as jam filled shortbread cookies.  I love homemade items for presents so I am hoping that others do as well.  Also on my island are the last of my Christmas cards that need to get sent out, movies, mail and a whole bunch of other miscellaneous other items.  Unfortunately it is a catch all for everything and it is also a huge pet peeve of mine to have clutter on it!  Kind of a vicious cycle!!  

Anyway, we are loving the country life we live and are continuing to add more work to our load.  My husband is currently building a greenhouse so he can easily grown produce year round and I want to start growing fodder for my animals.  It is seed that you sprout and then grow for 8 days and feed it to all the animals.  It reminds me of wheatgrass.  It does not grown in soil and the animals eat the green and rootmass.  It is super nutritious and way less expensive than corn based bagged feed and alfalfa.  I just recently started researching Dexter Cattle.  They are under 1000 pounds and are a dual purpose breed: good milk production as well as a good meat breed.  Currently we drink raw goat milk and I make cheese, but I would LOVE to have fresh butter and cow milk cheese.  My friend who makes the most amazing sourdough (I get a loaf every week in exchange for eggs) wants to go in on the cow with us so that'd be great!  Well I hope I didn't bore everyone too much.  If you are interested in homesteading or any of my products or photography, send me an email or message.  I would love to chat!  Thanks for stopping by my blog.  I have got to get back to work.  It's going to be a LONG day!  Thankfully the sun is out so the girls can go outside and play!  Doesn't get much better than winters in CA.  :o)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Halloween costumes 2012

When Madrone was born, she was given a BEAUTIFUL vest and chaps set from a friend.  This year she was finally big enough to wear them.  I pieced together the rest of her costume, red hat from a thrift store from Lala, red plaid shirt from an online Carhart store, red Ariat boots from an online store, belt buckle from Amazon and jeans were hand-me down Levi's.  I figured to top off her costume our Miniature Horse Gambler had to included in the equation.  We had our annual Fall Festival at the school I work at and I asked my principal if Gambler could attend as well.  I explained that he is more like a dog than a pony and is as broke as a horse can be.  She said that would be fine so I loaded him up in my minivan and he was the hit of the festival.  My crafting buddy Sierra of Legal Needle and I had a booth there where I was selling my tutus and mason jar cups and she was selling her knit and crochet goods.  So when Gambler wasn't walking in the costume parade, he hung out next to our booth getting lots of love from students and families.  My other daughter Scarlet is a piggy, if you couldn't tell.  :o)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

April 2012 Tutu Giveaway Winner

Since Blogger was not cooperating and some people were having a hard time leaving comments on the post, I counted ALL comments that were left on the Facebook post as well as the Blogger post.  There were 7 total entries!  I think I had 5 for the last giveaway I did so that is GREAT!!  The entries are numbered in order they were posted.

And the winner is...
                                         Equi-Endurance said...                                                                                 2

Your TuTu's are so cute and so are your girls - Oh and can you post a pic of the hen tutu again please :)


May 1, 2012 8:52 AM

Congratulations Carol-Ann, you have 48 hours to contact me with your order.   If I don't hear from you, a new Random winner will be chosen.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Tutus for chicks

Last year I not only started making tutus but also got in to chickens.  I got 10 different breeds of chickens including the very dark brown egg laying Marans breed.  I contacted someone on the website and she gave me the name of a breeder who lived pretty close by to me.  I bought two hens from her and sent her a link to my website when I posted the picture of one of my hens wearing a tutu.  She loved my tutus.  When I contacted her this year about getting some more chicks from her she asked if I would be willing to trade tutus for chicks.  I said, "ABSOLUTELY!"  Bartering is the best!  So today her daughters got their tutus and I got my chicks.  Here are the adorable sisters wearing Extra Full Whimsical K's Tutus.  Look closely at the pictures and you will see the rain drops.  Of course it started raining right as we started to take photos!!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Comment on this Post to Win a Custom Tutu!

Enter to win a custom tutu, shipping included if you are unable to pick it up!

Ways to Enter

1. Comment and tell me what style and/or color scheme is your favorite.
2. Follow Pretty Tutus for You on Facebook. (If you already follow, comment saying so.)
3. Follow Pretty Tutus for You on Blogspot- Enter your email address on top right side of my blog  (If you already follow, comment saying so)
4. Post a picture of the tutu you purchased from Pretty Tutus for You on my FB fan page.
5. Tweet about our giveaway with a link!
6. Blog about our giveaway with a link!
7. Post about our giveaway on any related forum- If you post on multiple forums, you will can get one entry per post.  You MUST make a separate comment for each one.

Come back and comment that you have completed any of the above items. Each one needs it's OWN comment. You may do each of the above for a total of seven comments = seven entries (unless you post on multiple forums). Be sure to enter comment using the "Name/URL" option if you are not a registered user. URL is not necessary, but name is so I know who you are if you win!!

Giveaway Rules

Giveaway ends on Monday, April 30, 2012 at 11:59 PM PST (MIDNIGHT). Comments are numbered in the order they were posted. The winner will be chosen via Random Number Generator and posted on blog by 12:00 PM Tuesday, May 1, 2012. Winner will then have 48 hours to contact me or a new winner will be chosen.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Chosen Shop

I had a customer, Mary Beth, contact me about wanting to order five tutus.  She is having her first child and is going to use them to hang in her nursery and then her daughter Violet will wear them as she gets bigger.  I was honored and excited to make these tutus.  She chose five Extra Full Whimsical Tutus all of which were color schemes I had never made before.  They ended up amazing and the Mimi tutu is my new favorite color scheme!  I asked Mary Beth if I could take some pictures of Scarlet and Madrone wearing two of the tutus before I shipped them to her and she said sure.  Scarlet (blond hair) is wearing the Extra Full Whimsical Ella Tutu and Madrone (brown hair) is wearing the Extra Full Whimsical Mimi Tutu.  Of course I had to take pictures of the girls with our baby goats.  These are triplets from my goat Tilly.  My milking goat Clara had one little spotted buckling and I should probably get some pics of him wearing a tutu before he gets too big.  ;o)

Ok, back to the tutus.  I also asked Mary Beth why she had chosen my shop to buy tutus from when there are THOUSANDS of people who make tutus.  She gave me these reasons:

"1) Quality. Some of the tutus on other shops looked thin. I love the extra full and the whimsical style that you do. Your tutus looked like they were made well and were pretty. Also, some of the tutus had flowers or ribbons on them. That isn't what I was looking for.

2) Choice. I liked that you would custom make the tutus with any color. And that you offered a large variety of colors and styles.

3) Picture quality makes a difference. I like the format of showing the tutus as they are being worn so you can get idea of how they fit and the size, and also showing them laid out. Some shops did not have clear pictures- glare, etc.

4) Price. I felt like the price was right. The thin tutus that I saw on other shops were less expensive, but they were not as pretty. Some of the shops were charging a lot more, but I didn't feel like I would have gotten a better tutu.

I hope this helps!

Mary Beth"

I was honored to have gotten such an amazing and in depth reason for choosing my shop.  She received her tutus and was extremely pleased with the product.  That makes me VERY happy Customer service is just as important to me as a quality product.  She was so cute; she asked where else she could post comments about the tutus and my shop to help.  :o)  Thanks Mary Beth for ordering tutus from Pretty Tutus for You and CONGRATULATIONS on Baby Violoet!!

Pictures to come of all five tutus hanging in her nursery.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Lily's (Smash the Cake) 1st Birthday Session

A FABULOUS photographer in Spring Texas, Lauren Gaines, purchased two tutus from me. The first one was an Extra Full Hybrid Fall Tutu.  After waiting two weeks and over 100 Etsy conversations later, we finally deemed the tutu lost and I made and shipped her a new one.  She received the new tutu and a few days later the first tutu showed up.  Turns out her post office had it delivered it to the wrong house!  When she asked her postman about it he said he hadn't seen it but then he noticed it in the wrong bin after talking to her!

She ordered a second tutu for her daughter, an Extra Full Hybrid Lily Tutu.  It was for her first birthday.  I shipped that one delivery confirmation the first time around and it arrived within two days, just like it should shipping from California to Texas.  Lauren had a vision for Lily's first birthday party and she captured this vision BEAUTIFULLY on camera.  Here is a collage she made me from the pics I chose from her website.  Check it out, the pics AMAZING!

Now, not only do I have some wonderful photos of my tutus being used, but I have made a new friend in Spring Texas.  Thanks Lauren for your purchases and allowing me to use your photos!  Hope to make some more tutus for adorable Miss Lily and I hope to meet you in person some day!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Digital Design

So with my passion for photography and my love of Photoshop, I have decided to sell some of my digital designs.  My tutu business is morphing into a tutu/digital design shop.  I am sticking with the name Pretty Tutus for You because I still have a bunch of business cards and tags for the tutus, but just know, I am starting to do photography and digital design as well.  

I added a photography page to my site and I will be adding a digital design page as soon as I get around to it.  You can see all of my products for sale at my Etsy shop if you are interested in looking right now: 

So far I have photographed two families, one engagement session and have an upcoming wedding and family photo session as well.  I have sold my Minnie Mouse inspired invitation to four people and I have also sold my Bunco score sheet!  Pretty exciting!  

 Every excuse I have to make a card, invitation, announcement, I jump on it because I enjoy taking pictures and creating cards, etc., on Photoshop.  My latest was our Christmas card.  I made a 5 x 7 flat card and also a 4 x 5.5 accordian fold card.  I went with a bee theme because we are trying to live more self-sustainably- living off the land I guess you could say.  :o)

If you like my work, I would love to know.  If you have something in mind and want me to do it for you, I would be honored!  Have fun perusing my site and I hope to work with you in the future- whether it be making a tutu for you, taking photos for you or designing something...maybe all three! 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Extra Full Hybrid Fall Tutu

Here are some pictures taken by a photographer in TX.  She found me on Etsy.  The Fall Tutu is red, burgundy, brown, yellow and gold.

These pictures were taken from another photographer in Pennsylvania  :-)