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Sunday, September 17, 2017

A day at the apple farm

We had so much fun picking apples and looking at the farm animals at the Date Creek Ranch farm (Wickenburg, AZ) last weekend. It is hidden in a middle of the desert so if you would not notice a small road sign we would have never found it.
So we turned from the main road to a rougher desert one that leads to the lovely place with barns, fruit stand, the rows of fruit trees and farm animals resting in the shade. 

We were there just for fun so we did not pick up too many apples. But whatever we got was enough to eat fresh and make some apple butter (recipe will be posted).

 A wonderful day filled with sun and fun!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

A Labor Day sale, August 31 to September 4, 2017

A Labor Day sale! I am happy to offer my customers a great end of summer deal. From August 31 to September 4, 2017 you will be able to get 10% off on selected items in both of my shops on Etsy.

So if you are interested in quality hand knit and crochet items for the coming Fall, Winter season and of course, Holidays gifting, please visit us at socksandmittens.etsy.com.

If you are looking for rare or hard to find vintage items, including jewelry, sweet home decor and collectibles, please stop by agardencottage.etsy.com.

Hope you will find what you are looking for at my shops!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Summer eggplant salad recipe

I love the taste of this easy to make eggplant salad. It goes well with a BBQ or fresh baked bread. Delicious! 
You will need:
1 eggplant
1 large carrot, shredded
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
3 garlic clove, minced
bunch of fresh parsley, chopped
olive oil for frying
salt, pepper, white vinegar to taste

Prepare the eggplant: wash it, cut in half and then cut to wedges. Place in a colander, add some salt and mix. Leave for 30 minutes, then wash under running water and squeeze out the water from the wedges.

At the same time, place the shredded carrots in a large bowl and add minced garlic. Fry the chopped onion with the small amount of olive oil. When the onion will turn golden in color, add it to a carrot-garlic mix and stir all together.

Fry the eggplant wedges until soft and golden brown and put in a bowl. Add the rest of vegetables and parsley, mix and add salt, pepper and vinegar to taste. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

A lavender bottle sachet / La bouteille de lavande

I was browsing facebook this morning and noticed the prettiest lavender wand sachet made by Irina from Belarus (JewelryFloren). She got so many blooms this year that she was able to make 25 pretty sticks from just 2 lavender bushes.
I love this idea because all the sweet buds stay inside after the stick has dried out and it still will look pretty and ready to do its job to refresh your linen closet or dresser draw. The idea of  "La bouteille de lavande" came from France where lavender is a part of culture and history. Oh so romantic!
All you need to make 1 stick like this is about 25 to 30 lavender stems, 2 1/2 yards of narrow satin ribbon (about 1/4" wide) in your favorite color and a sewing thread.

–°lean your lavender stems from the leaves and bottom flowers. Gather them together and tie the stems tight right under the flower heads with a sewing thread. Now, bend the stems to the sides to cage the flower heads inside. Run one end of the ribbon along side the flowers to poke out of the bottom of the flower cage. Tie your pretty satin ribbon on top of sewing thread and start weaving the other loose end of the ribbon around the top of flower cage using basic under-and-over basket weaving technique. Push the sticking-out flowers back to cage with a toothpick.
Keep weaving tightly (very important since the lavender will shrink as it dries) to get a bottle shape.
Tie both ribbon ends tight around the base a few times and make a pretty bow. 

Voilà! It's ready to use, just let it dry and enjoy!

Thank you, Irina, for this great idea!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Lavender in my garden

A couple of years ago we drove 4 hours up north for a lavender festival to see those beautiful purple fields. While people from cooler areas might not see it as a big deal, for us in the low desert with hot and dry summers it is very special. I bought a little potted plant of lavender as a souvenir and planted it in my garden later with not much hope for it to survive.

Surprisingly, the lavender bush is thriving and happy! I am still learning how to care for this but I was so happy to gather some flower stems.

The plant is blooming in a weird time (September through February) and giving just 2-3 stems per week but its alive and it makes me happy :)

Monday, June 19, 2017

How to make a leather cord necklace with amethyst druzy pendant

An amethyst druzy stalactite slices are so popular these days for jewelry making. You can buy them as a raw crystal or with the plated edge and ready to wear. They are large, flat and have a free shape bottom what makes each necklaces an OOAK.  

Crystals are pretty and fun to wear but not every chain or cord will work with them. Each time I am putting pieces together I am going through dozens of these. For this large druzy Albina (aroundbeads) and I decided to use a leather cord.

It is not hard to do and it will work with so many other pendants. Here is how to make it:

Materials and tools:
Leather cord, 2mm thick
Cord ends - 2
Jump rings -2
Lobster clasp – 1
Chain nose pliers

1. Measure and cut a piece of a leather cord for your necklace (desired length).

2. Flatten the end of the cord with your chain nose pliers.

3. Place a flattened end  into the slot of a cord end and fold the edge down over the cord. Fold one edge at a time.

4. Using a jump ring, attach a clasp and a cord.

5. Slide a bare cord end into the pendant’s loop(s).

6. Repeat steps 2 and 3 for another cord end. Attach a jump ring.

It is ready to wear!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Peaches are in season!

I went to a grocery store after my morning walk and as soon as I walked in I smell the fresh peach & nectarine's aroma. A perfect summertime smell!
White nectarines

So I bought some of these beautiful fruits and while we love to eat them fresh we still would like to treat ourselves with healthier dessert from time to time. I tried that cheesecake stuffed peaches recipe last year, it was so good that I think it might be a hit for this Fathers Day.
Cheesecake stuffed peach

The recipe was originally published in the August 2011 edition of Better Homes & Gardens magazine.

To make this you will need:

6 peaches, halved
1⁄4 cup butter, melted
3 tablespoons cinnamon sugar, purchased or combine 3 tablespoons granulated sugar with 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon.
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
1 1⁄2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 350. Line a 15 x 10 x 1" baking pan with parchment paper; set aside.

Trim a very thin slice from the round side of each peach half so the halves will stand flat on the baking pan. Dip peach halves in melted butter to coat. Arrange peach halves, cut sides up, in prepared pan. Sprinkle cut sides of peaches with cinnamon-sugar; set aside. 
 In a medium mixing bowl beat cream cheese with a mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add sugar, egg yolk & vanilla. Beat until combined. Spoon cream cheese mixture into peach centers.
Bake, uncovered, about 30 minutes or until lightly browned & softened. Serve warm or at room temperature.
I sprinkled mine with powdered sugar:
Try it, I think you will like it!