Saturday, December 26, 2009

globetrotting adventures - finland ii - christmas star pastries

one of the most traditional foods during the christmas holidays in finland is the "tähti torttu", or star pastry. the husband and i have always called them christmas stars. it is basically what an american would call a danish, with jam (plum) in the center of a puff pastry. with ready made ingredients, this is a very simple and delicious treat that finns enjoy during coffee time between christmas eve and boxing day.

to make these tasty treats, all you need is ready made puff pastry from your freezer section and some plum jam (and an egg for an egg wash). plum jam is something i have never come across in the u.s., but many other jams would make an appropriate filling, such as apricot, blackberry or raspberry. in finland, this pastry is so common that you can buy the puff pastry in pre-cut sheets with instructions on how to make the pastry on the box.

Friday, December 25, 2009

merry christmas

merry christmas from finland! hyvää joulua suomesta!
photo taken in tuusula, finland

Monday, December 21, 2009

globetrotting adventures - finland i - christmas markets

since the husband and i do a fair bit of traveling, i thought it might be fun to write blogs on some of our globe trotting adventures. this series will be about our current trip to finland. i say "series" because i am hopeful that i will write a few entries during our stay, but this could just be a case of me being overly ambitious (again).

anyway, seeing as i am an etsy shop owner, it is almost needless to say that i really enjoy visiting crafts markets. and in another life, when the husband and were living in finland, i was able to visit different craft markets with some frequency, as they were/are pretty abundant.

two of my favorite markets in finland occur during christmas time, and they are the tuomaan markkinat (st. thomas' market) and wanhan joulu markkinat (old student house christmas market), both located in downtown helsinki with a couple of blocks of each other. i was really happy that we were able to arrange our finnish winter holiday to include time for these markets (and yes, we actually chose an earlier departure date just to ensure i wouldn't miss out on them).

at st. thomas' market, each vendor has their own cute little red "house", lined up together in two neat rows facing each other, down this mini park strip in the middle of downtown helsinki, known as the "esplanade". the middle part of the market spreads out in to a circle and then slims back down into the rows. the vendors sell all kind of things, ranging from ready to eat hot food, jams and honey, baked goods, salted and pickled herring, wet-felted goods, needle-felted goods, hand-made soaps, lotions, christmas ornaments/decor, clothes etc. i really enjoy tramping up and down the esplanade peering at everyone's goods, although it's difficult to be thorough when it's 10.4F (-12C) outside.

below: my one purchase at this market, a jar of sea-buckthorn berry jam. this berry is only found in parts of europe and asia. alone, the berry is supposed to be extremely tart, but as a juice or jam (meaning with lots of sugar) it is DELICIOUS.
the old student house christmas market is held in an building that is owned by the university of helsinki student body, and used to be the student union. the administration has since moved to a different building, but they still use this one for various events, such as this annual christmas market. i personally prefer this market over the st.thomas' one, partially because it's indoors, but also because the goods are a little more design oriented. there are a lot of metalsmiths, felters (finns do love their felting), knitters, sewers, and many other kinds of artisans. LOOK at all the different vendors!

i purchased a christmas ornament, a "christmas fairy". i already have one from my brother-in-law and his girlfriend from a couple years ago from this series. the artists does something new with the series every year.

this was an impulse purchase, but my most prized one yet- a wrist pin cushion, by their website is pretty empty at the moment, but they were super kind and added a bow on my pincushion's head at my request, and also named her for me. her name is gunhild the grey. i know this sounds ridiculous, but i LOVE this pincushion. she is SO CUTE.

i fear that in the next two weeks i will shop so much that i will single handedly be responsible for a spurt in the finnish economy. good for them, not so good for my wallet. i have a tendency to go a little shopping crazy while i'm in this country. must be something in the water...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

felt christmas stockings tutorial

in recent years i've taken up the habit of making some of my inlaws' christmas gifts. last year we sent everyone my "extra shopping bags" (as seen in my shop). this year we thought it would be fun for me to make everyone stockings, since no one in the husband's family has them- stockings are not a finnish tradition. it was an enjoyable diversion from my normal sewing- and the most challenging part was simply the design.

the materials i used for 5 stockings:
1/2 yard 72" red felt (easily made 3 stockings with leftover scraps)
1/2 yard 72" charcoal felt
matching thread

the materials i used for the stocking decor:
scraps of white, red, and charcoal felt
grosgrain ribbon
one giant red button

Sunday, December 6, 2009

modern kids

yesterday i had the pleasure of meeting another etsian, the owner of modern kids, a super talented lady who also lives in the houston area. she makes absolutely stunning little girls clothes with gorgeous japanese fabrics.

just so there isn't any confusion, let me mention now that i do not have any children. admittedly, i've never even been that interested in having them, so i've never given a whole lot of thought regarding gender preferences. but if given a choice now, i'd want a little girl, just so i could dress her up in these pretty dresses. i'm really not joking.
this one is my favorite:

and this one is super cute too:

her dresses are even more beautiful in real life, super soft, and lined. lined! the craftmanship is really outstanding (can't you tell how in love i am with these clothes?). if you happen to have a little girl, i strongly suggest you visit modern kids. all her clothes are custom made to order. just think how cute your daughter/niece/granddaughter would look in one of these dresses!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

black friday - cyber monday sale

ok, so i know that black friday is over, but i thought i'd pop in and let everyone know that i'm currently having a sale through 9pm on monday, nov 30th:

free shipping on flatware pouches and extra bags within the u.s. and canada
15% off all cards (except those marked $7.20)

hope everyone had a wonderful thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

cupcake pops

i just want to show off the cupcake pops that my friend and i made a couple weeks ago. they were my first batch ever and her third (she was very ambitious that week). many of you have probably heard of the famous bakerella. i have always been interested in trying out her cake pop tutorials, but never had the patience to test them out.

our cupcake pops were strawberry cake with cream cheese frosting inside. incredibly sweet, but tasty! if you're interested in making some yourself, check out this page from bakerella's site.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

the winner is...

my holiday card variety pack giveaway ended last night, and this morning i "drew" the winner via the lucky winner is....

commenter #30: edmontonjb!

congratulations! i will be in contact with you shortly via email.

i also decided to have a sale this week, from nov 7 through nov 14: 10% off on all cards, or 15% off purchases of 2 sets of cards or more. discount will be refunded via paypal, or if you prefer, i can set up a revised listing (just convo me).

Monday, November 2, 2009


this halloween i was convinced by a coworker to be part of an "under the sea" theme. we've been dressing up for the past few years, and as usual, i wanted to be the exact same thing as i was the year before (last year i was a mushroom). however, i was immediately won over when she showed me the picture of a jellyfish costume in her family fun magazine (complete with instructions):

yes, i am aware that this is a costume for a child.

they usually are the best ones. i more or less made up my own instructions, but still used the picture as a guide. i wanted to be more realistic looking, so i chose all white and iridescent fabrics and ribbons. i also very much wanted to glow. yep, that's right- GLOW. in order to accomplish this, i hand-stitched on little elastic loops approx 3 inches apart around the rim of the straw hat as the very first step, before gluing on the felt base:

i bought a few packages of glow bracelets (see first image) which i planned to loop through the elastic the morning before i showed off my costume at work. i was able to recycle last year's outfit since i was a mushroom (mushroom hat-same concept as the jellyfish- also from the same magazine), a white dress i got from express for $10 and footless tights.
a picture of it partly complete (before the top layer of iridescent fabric):

and finally:

see how i glow? on friday i glowed blue and saturday i glowed pink. jealous much? want to be a jellyfish next halloween? mmhmm i thought so...

Sunday, November 1, 2009

teametsytx first monday sale

i recently joined teametsytx and i am participating in the november first monday sale.
beginning at 12am tonight to 12am tomorrow night, i am offering 15% off flatware pouches, extra bags, and all cards in my etsy shop.

check out some of the other great sales going on in other teametsytx shops:
there are 99 shops participating this month!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

holiday card giveaway!!!

it's finally here- my first giveaway (well on this blog)!

i will be giving away a variety pack of holiday cards- 2 each of the following, with 4 gray envelopes and 4 red envelopes. please see my shop for more images:
to enter the giveaway:

1. follow my blog (this is mandatory!)
2. leave a comment

you may leave as many comments as you like, however, they have to be real comments, and more than 3 words long. you could for example, take a peek at my shop and tell me what your favorite item is. or, perhaps, tell me what your favorite fall holiday dessert is... or what you are going to be for halloween.

the giveaway is open until friday, november 6, midnight. afterward, i will draw a number using the matching comment # wins. please make sure to leave a way for me to contact you, whether it's via etsy, email, or your blog.
to add to the merriness, i will be offering a early holiday card shopper discount- buy one pack of holiday cards, get the 2nd pack (equal or lesser value) 20% off, from today to oct 31st.

good luck everyone!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

small details

my latest flatware pouch with some minor changes ...

a) straight, angular edges on the flap
b) grosgrain ribbon for straps (reminds me of wrapping presents now!)

i'll continue making pouches with rounded flap edges, but i think i like this new edgier look. pretty appropriate fabric for a flatware pouch, no?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

a haiku

a package is lost
somewhere in kirkkonummi
a cold baby cries

remember the baby blanket i made for my friend? she never received it :(

Sunday, October 11, 2009

photo site

last week i signed up for an account on flikr: i'll be posting more photos there of products that i am currently making available locally (and by custom order on etsy).

Sunday, October 4, 2009

holiday preview

i start getting antsy sometime during september, always a little excited about what is soon to come: october. I love autumn. nevermind the fact that houston doesn’t really have a fall. i am not a big fan of halloween, but it marks the beginning of the holiday season. after living abroad for a couple years, i realized how much i enjoy the kitschy american commercialism of the fall/winter holidays. i thoroughly enjoy all the tacky store décor, along with all the useless seasonal goods, even though i rarely, if ever, purchase them. we have had a few fleeting moments of cool weather this past month (meaning, under 80F), and every time it has filled me with joy. this time of year always inspires me to bake all kinds of pumpkin based goodies, bust out the hats and scarves (not that I need them), and buy new winter shoes (once again, not that i need them). i also begin daydreaming about christmas. christmas trees. christmas treats. christmas music. christmas gifts.

to kick off the season, i decided to get a somewhat early start on my holiday cards for etsy, so, here is a preview of this year’s christmas cards. i will be posting them in my shop sometime this month or early next- i haven’t quite decided… thoughts? anyone?

Monday, September 21, 2009

featured on the front page

the best kind of surprises are the unexpected ones. after i returned from work today, i checked my etsy shop and noticed some unusual activity. i realized that i had gained 17 new store hearts, 31 new item hearts, and one more sale. oh, and not to mention, i had over a hundred new views from out of nowhere.
i did some research, and apparently i was featured this afternoon on the front page of etsy! my very first etsy front page feature! thanks to craftcult for keeping track of these things. see my flatware pouch? bottom row, middle.


Saturday, September 12, 2009

faux quilted baby blanket

i wrote this a while ago, planning on posting it after my friend received her blanket just in case she checked my blog. i think she must have received the gift by now, but i'm not sure, and i can't wait any longer!! so i hope i don't ruin the surprise for her by posting it.
babies. babies everywhere. in the past two years, i know at least eight couples who have had babies. five more are currently expecting. clearly i need to be avoiding whatever water they are drinking.

the nice thing about babies is they use tiny things. and tiny things are very cute. a couple months ago, i ambitiously decided to make my expecting friend a "quilted" baby blanket. had i ever made a baby blanket before? no. do i know anything about using batting and quilting? no.

so i googled. i looked at a lot of baby blankets. i read various experiences. and this is a tutorial i found: afterall, why reinvent the wheel?

i discovered what minky fabric is. it's a very interesting type of fabric. first of all it is very soft. you immediately want to jump into bed with it. sometimes it comes with these little raised dots that you can push in, and then back out. very enjoyable. also it is as slippery as slippery can be. in other words, a real giant pain to sew.

making the baby blanket is pretty straightforward, as you can see from the tutorial above.
you just need two pieces of fabric- one minky fabric, one patterned fabric, and to faux quilt, quilt batting. i used alexander henry's apples and pears fabric and light green minky. i don't know what gender my friend's baby is going to be, so i thought a blanket with blues, pinks, yellows AND greens was a safe bet. i chose to make the blanket 35" by 35", so all my pieces were 36"X36". the tricky part for me was that i wanted to add some thickness to the blanket. google wasn't very helpful in this matter, so i devised my own faux quilting method.

i designed a little pattern of squares (see below). then i drew the lines onto my top fabric with my trusty dritz fabric pen, yard long ruler, and my right angle ruler. i positioned the batting under it, pinned it all together and sewed. voila. faux quilting.

then i pinned down the minky fabric, face down on top of the faux quilted piece. i used a lot of pins. some of them stuck me. i sewed the pieces together, leaving a gap on one side.. oh maybe 6 inches? unlike the tutorial, i didn't follow the edge of the cotton fabric because the batting was in the way and i feared the edge would be deceptively straight or crooked. the minky wasn't exactly perfect either, but it was a tolerable alternative. after i finished sewing around the edges, i flipped it inside out, pressed the seams a bit, and top stitched around (crookedly. i apologize to my friend. i blame the slippery minky!!)

so to review the steps:

1. cut top fabric, minky fabric, and batting 36" X 36"
2. draw faux quilting pattern on top fabric
3. faux quilt the top fabric and batting together
4. sew around the edges of the new faux quilted piece and the minky piece with their top sides facing together, leaving a gap
5. turn blanket inside out
6. top stitch all the way around (making sure to tuck in that seam where the gap is)
7. wash your blanket

there you have it. faux quilted baby blanket. soft. fluffy. and living in finland now.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

mint-filled brownie cupcakes

my friend's birthday was last week and i wanted to surprise him with something delicious. i wanted something that would be somewhat durable in the texas heat, in case he wasn't home, so i could just drop it off on the door step. who doesn't like to come home to a bundle of treats?

i was pretty certain that i wanted to go with cupcakes. the problem with most cupcakes is that they have icing, which would not hold up in 100+ F degrees. naturally, i went to my martha stewart cupcake cookbook (where else?!) and found an interesting recipe for mint filled brownie cupcakes. i had no idea if my friend likes mint, but i took the risk and went with it anyway!
the best part of this recipe is that it can all be done with one bowl! if you don't have the book, you can find the recipe here.

the ingredients (note the special, genius, yet simple filling):
making the brownies:
final product:
taste test: the husband loved it. i loved it.

i bought some pretty boxes from michaels (also martha brand) for packaging and carted them on over to my friend's house the next day. he was pretty surprised. and pleased. i think. he also claimed to love the brownies, so i'll consider this recipe a success.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

gifts and new products

i've been busy...

gifts for friends:

more badge id obsession:

i LOVE making these fabric covered button items. it's so satisfying.
i haven't posted any badge ids in my shop yet, and i'm not 100% sure i will. i've already sold a few badge ids and key fobs kind of by accident. i will most definitely sell all three of these at the craft fair i am participating in coming up in december. well. almost most definitely.


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