Friday, June 25, 2010

Say Goodbye to Another Caroline!

Lately, Scarlet Threads has had to say goodbye to a lot. Two weeks ago our best selling apron "Caroline" sold out and today Scarlet Threads had to say goodbye to another Caroline . . . our best photographer. Caroline has been with us since the beginning and is responsible for making our products look as good as they do! In addition to photography, Caroline was one of our key designers and, as you can probably tell, the inspiration for the “Caroline” apron. (Turquoise and brown are her favorite colors!) She moving to America to start the next chapter of her life and will be missed by everyone here at Scarlet Threads.

In honor of Caroline’s new adventure and her flair for style, we will have a coupon code for 15% off. Just enter “welovecaroline” at checkout to show your love for Caroline and receive this special discount!

We will miss you Caroline!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Tasty Tuesday: Spiked Shrimp and Sausage

This week's recipe comes from Heather at Contemporary Western Design. They have a "Daily Dish" segment and we have decided to swap recipes. Here is one of her favorites: Spiked Shrimp and Sausage.

Fantastic flavor combination. Great served over pasta, rice or with them as a side.
1/3 C olive oil
6 cloves garlic, sliced
6 oz fully cooked chorizo sausage, sliced
2 lb peeled, deveined jumbo shrimp (21 to 26 per lb), thawed and patted dry if frozen
1/4 t salt
1/4 t crushed pepper
1/3 C dry sherry or dry white wine
2 T chopped parsley
Serve with: French bread
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook 1 to 2 min until golden. Remove with slotted spoon; set aside.
Add chorizo to skillet; saute 3 minutes until browned. Add shrimp, salt and pepper; saute 2 min or until shrimp turn pink.
Return garlic to skillet; add sherry and cook 1 min or until shrimp are cooked through.
Transfer to a serving bowl; stir in parsley. Serve with toothpicks and bread for dipping in pan juices.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Apron Giveaway!

One of our friends, Valerie, in the blogosphere is giving away our Anna Apron on her website. And, through that giveaway she's hoping to publicize a fund raiser that she is sponsoring to aid a deserving family trying to adopt a child. Scarlet Threads has donated another apron to that cause and we hope that you will take time to drop by the sites.

Now, I must say that I have not been on top of my game. I am getting married in 13 days, and I am going slightly insane. In fact, I never even announced the winner of our Apronize America in April contest. Even with a two week deadline extension, I only had 4 entries (including my own, and my sister-in-law-to-be Jane's -- who I begged to enter). While I loved both of the remaining entries, I could not help but be swayed by the sight of Valerie's beautiful (er, handsome) Nolan in his mommy's Phoebe apron right next to a pretty spectacular tractor. I mean, can you blame me? Look at that face!

Thanks to all who entered, and I will be in touch with your runners up coupons!




Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Buttons and their Holes

QA/QC. For those of you unfamiliar with the term this is Quality Assurance/Quality Control, a staple in any manufacturing environment and a standard acronym in the business world. Rural China is somewhat different. I don't believe that standardization is a need for most businesses and certainly profit margin comes before QC concerns. Needless to say it has been a learning process for both the Scarlet Threads founders and the seamstresses we employ.

Snowman fabric doesn't necessarily belong on a summer apron, but when it is the fabric that already resides in our seamstress's home, chances are it could find a new use as a pocket. This is an example of a challenge that we have had in the formation of our cottage industry. In the West, we expect everything to look the same coming out of a specific shop. In our village, that expectation simply does not exist. This is just another instance where survival trumps fashion. However, in order to have a product in a marketable outside the village (even in urban areas in China), we needed to create some boundaries and quality standards. We've had to teach our seamstress how create products from a pattern, with each piece being the same dimensions and using the same fabric scheme so that we can sell them in bulk online -- and remove some guess work for the consumer (you!).

One of the most entertaining learning experiences surrounds buttons. It's my understanding that buttons in the village are primarily for decoration, or such is the opinion of our lead seamstress. So, when Carrie designed an apron requiring button holes, it was quite a shock and learning curve for Deng Fen. In fact, her husband has turned out to be more skilled in this arena and makes the button holes on all our products! A few months ago, Deng Fen brought her lately produced products to Carrie for final inspection and payment. All but one was immaculate. That one had a slightly tortured look about the button hole, which Deng Fen explained was because she attempted to create that button hole while her husband was away from home. (Don't worry, as we are not selling the off-spec product -- no surprises, here!)
There is something amazing about the cottage industry. Maybe it harkens back to a simpler time, where people took pride in the work of their hands. Maybe it is the joy that you see in an artisan who is able to sell her products to the other side of the world, when she has scarcely left her village. Either way, this is a tremendous opportunity for me to see a real side of life that is not sterile or mass produced or busy. It is life: survival, ingenuity, effort and pride.

I wrote this post for our Fair Trade Blog Carnival, the next edition of which will be published on the 20th! Woo!

P.S. Here is a coupon code for 10% off in our shop. Just enter "blairlovesaprons" at checkout.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Tasty Tuesday: Apple Pecan Cheesecake

Valerie was kind enough to share this recipe that she made for her son's 7th birthday party! And, I must say the pictures look amazing, and her son of course is adorable!

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups of honey made graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup of butter, melted
2 tbsp brown sugar
4 pkg. (8 oz each) cream cheese
1 1/2 cups of packed brown sugar, divided
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup of sour cream
4 eggs
3 apples, peeled and chopped
3/4 cup chopped pecans
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 325 deg F. Line a 13 x 9 baking pan with foil, with the ends of the foil extending over the side of the pan. Mix graham cracker crumbs, butter, and brown sugar and press onto the bottom of the prepared pan.

Beat cream cheese, 1 cup of brown sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl with electric mixer until well blended. Add sour cream; mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing on low speed after each addition just until blended. Pour over crust. Mix remaining 1/2 cup of brown sugar, the apples, pecans and cinnamon spoon evenly over cheese cake batter.

Bake 55 minutes until center is almost set. Cool completely. Refrigerate 4 hours. Use foil handles to lift cheesecake from pan before cutting to serve.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Say Goodbye to Caroline!

Well, she had a great run but that run was a sprint not a marathon. We should have given you some advanced notice, but before we knew it all our little Carolines had flown the coop - we've retained one for posterity. If someone is particularly fond of her, fond enough to place a bid, I might consider parting with her.

Oh, Sweet Caroline!

Where it began, I can't begin to know when
But then I know it's growing strong
Oh, wasn't the spring, whooo
And spring became the summer
Who'd believe you'd come along!

Thanks to each of you who purchased a Caroline, the most successful product in Scarlet Threads history.

Wordless Wednesday: Beauty

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Tasty Tuesday: Cream Cheese Cake Cookies

This week's recipe comes from Rebekah, and we are grateful. She insists these are "the easiest cookies to make ever, and the only cookies my husband will eat."

These are the easiest, most delicious cookies in the world, guaranteed.

1 – 8oz. package of cream cheese, softened
1 large egg
1/4 cup of oil
1 tsp of vanilla extract
1 box of cake mix, your choice.

Preheat oven to 350F. Beat cream cheese until smooth then add egg, oil, and vanilla. Mix in cake mix. Either roll dough into balls or spoon out teaspoonfuls of dough onto an ungreased baking sheet (I like to line mine with parchment paper = easier cleanup) about 1 inch apart. The cookies do tend to spread out a bit. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

I got this recipe from my friend Carrie right after I got married. It is so easy and quick and my husband loves them. Yellow cake mix tends to be the favorite choice, but I have also used varying styles of chocolate cake mix and funfetti cake mix to excellent reviews.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Looking for a way to help? We need you!

Friends!

Hi, my name is Lauren and I am working with Scarlet Threads as an intern over the summer.

We need your help! Scarlet Threads is looking to place our products in more stores and we are looking to start in your town. Who knows which boutiques are interested in selling our trendy, chic aprons better than you?

Here’s the plan:

First: You can give us the names of boutiques or coffee shops (anything works!) that you know of that might be willing to carry Scarlet Threads products. We will then try to contact them about carrying our merchandise.

Or if you want to go above and beyond. . .

We can send you a packet so that you can contact your local boutiques! An added personal touch might be just what these businesses need to say “Okay!”

So rack your brains for your favorite coffee shop or boutique that you would like to see carrying Scarlet Threads products! If you are interested you can contact us by sending an email to sales@scarletthreads.org with your suggestions. Any help, ideas, or suggestions for possible carriers are welcome as we are trying to get the Scarlet Threads name out in many communities!

Thanks!

Lauren

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Tasty Tuesday: Heart Healthy Carrot Cake

Is that an oxymoron? Does Carrot Cake count as a serving of vegetables? Maybe.

This recipe was graciously provided by Sharon, a Scarlet Threads supporter with a special connection to China.

I have two beautiful grandchildren from China: Annali, age 4 (almost 5) is from Jiangxi province and Tyler (age 3) is from Jiangsu province. I was fortunate to be able to travel to China with our daughter to get Tyler in 2008 and love taking care of both of them part-time.

Here is a recipe that I adapted to be more heart-healthy: Carrot Cake


3/4 cup prune puree (baby food) or unsweetened applesauce
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup egg substitute
2 tsp. vanilla
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup crushed pineapple with unsweetened juice
3 cups grated raw carrots
1 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Coat 13X9 inch pan with vegetable cooking spray; set aside. In large mixing bowl, beat prune puree or applesauce, sugar, egg substitute, and vanilla. In another bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Add to previous mixture, half at a time, alternating with pineapple and blending well. Stir in carrots and raisins. Spread batter in prepared pan. Bake 30 to 40 minutes, until pick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack. Serves 12 to 15.
Doesn't Sharon make her Olivia apron look gorgeous? I just love her adorable grandchildren, too. Give her Carrot Cake recipe a try and let us know how it goes! If you have a recipe to contribute, send it along with a picture to info@scarletthreads.org!

Eileen