Friday, August 31, 2012

The Wildflower

One of our new retailers this summer is a lovely little floral boutique in Pagosa Springs, Colorado called  The Wildflower. The owner, Rick and the shop manager, Faith were such a delight to meet while I was on vacation. Their willingness to partner with Scarlet Threads was such a blessing, especially since they are a unique type of store to carry our products. I don't think we have any other florists! I recently did a little interview with them and asked for simple flower arranging advice.

Part 1: Our interview

1) How long have you been in Pagosa Springs and what is unique about the town that makes running a floral and gift shop so enjoyable?
 I have been in Pagosa Springs for a bit over 7 years. The shop has been opensince December 2010 and I purchased it in May of this year. Almost everybody [in Pagosa Springs] is from somewhere else, so there is great diversity. We have a significantpercentage of the population that have retired here; they seem to alwayshave a need to remember a birthday or anniversary and we are ready to helpcreate the celebration.
2) How does the Scarlet Threads merchandise and vision/ values fit with yourvalues and vision as a store owner and community member?

We are strong believers in the power of capitalism and the empowering ofpeople to seek their own destiny. Providing an opportunity to be in businessfor oneself is very high on our list of priorities. We strongly encouragelocal folks to be part of what we're creating. Scarlet Threads shares asimilar philosophy, on a global scale, and we applaud their efforts.
3) What has been your favorite ST product or the one that has seen the mostsuccess? 
The sewn accessories have been the strongest sellers for us so far. We'veonly been on board for a couple of months, so we haven't seen what happensin our strongest season, but are looking forward to seeing how the productsare received by our regular customers.
4) if you had to give a profile of The Wildflower what would it say?
The Wildflower is much more than your run of the mill full-service flowershop. With a wide selection of unique gifts, every occasion, every event isreason enough to drop by for a visit. In addition our friendly staff isready and able to assist with any request.
5) What is your favorite part of owning and running a floral and gift shop?
With the exception of funerals, everything we do is fun. Even with theoccasion of the loss of a loved one, we are here to provide moral andspiritual support. We never know from moment to moment who will be comingthrough our door and we stand ready to meet their needs on whatever levelswe can.
6) If someone were planning a trip to Pagosa what would you say about thetown and recommend for them to visit (other than The Wildflower of course!)?
We often say, "We used to vacation here. Now it's a vacation every day."Quaint charm, great weather and wonderful people combine to make PagosaSprings "Our little piece of paradise."
Part 2: Helpful hints for easy floral arrangements

There is a field of sunflowers below my house that I planted last year. I used a variety of sunflowers and wildflowers to carry out their instructions.

Flower arranging has never been my forté so I was eager to hear their advice on simple floral techniques.  Their first piece of advice was to create a grid on your vase with tape.

  • In a glass vase without floral foam, using clear waterproof tape (available at your local florist) create a grid across the top of the vase. Secure by running additional tape around the lip to hold the grid in place. This will provide some support for the greenery. 

I used regular gift tape and it worked like a charm.

  • When using ceramic, plastic or basket containers, green floral tape hold well and keeps the foam solidly in the container. Floral foam designs tend to least a few days less than designing in clear water with floral preservative.

  • Make sure the container is of an appropriate size. Too big will require many flowers to be proportional. Too small can get lost within a busy ensemble.
Basic Floral Design Process-

  • Assuming a glass vase, cover the grid with selected greenery.
    •  Don't extended too far out from the vase
    • More than one type will provide different textures and give more visual interest
  • Establish the overall height of the arrangement
    • Tall slender flowers are most effective
    • Repetition using 3-5 will draw the eye to the focus
    • Unless using something especially wispy is being used, a total height of 2 1/2 times the height of  the container is as tall as most arrangements can be without looking out of proportion
  • Create the focal point
    • Large flowers placed at the rim of the vase will draw the eye
    • Multiples of the same flower will add interest and become large enough to be the focus

  • Use smaller secondary flowers to fill space 
    • Within the cone shape coming down from the tallest point 
    • And within the confines of the focal point flowers
  • Use filler flowers to add additional fullness
    • A variety can add color contrast 
    • Don't be afraid to use varying textures
  • Fillers are added last
    • Fill empty spaces between single blooms
  • For more interest add... 
    • Sticks or curly willows at odd angles
    • Long swirly grasses will accentuate the focus and add size without adding much additional cost

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Thrifty Thursday: Krazy for Kenzie

Now, there are all sorts of ways to rationalize a purchase. I am absolutely standing in no one's way of kulinary kreativity inspired by a gorgeous apron. And, by lowering the price by $10 to a $15 total, we are doing our part to remove any barriers between yourself and the apron of your dreams. As long as that apron is Kenzie, of kourse.

Oh the joys of kouponing. Half of what I own was purchased on sale. But, long ago I learned that there is more to it than a cheap price! If I wouldn't want it for full price, I certainly shouldn't be buying it because it is on sale. That's my first maxim.

The first maxim applies readily to cases of Thrifty Thursday short sales. Scarlet Threads only makes perfect products with perfect prices and pretty patterns.

My second maxim kannot apply perfectly, however. My second shopping maxim is to purchase items only after sustained need/desire of 30 days. Now, if you have been kraving the krafty Kenzie for near 23 days, you are JUST going to make the 30 days. So in cases such as these, I advise you to lower the sustained need standard to a doable 3 days. That way, you have plenty of time to komplete your purchase and kapitalize.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tasty Tuesday- Taco Salad!

One of my favorite summer dinners is taco salad! My mother used to make it often, and she had this dark brown ceramic bowl that she'd serve it in. I wonder if she still has that bowl, now that I am thinking about it! So random of me, but I can't think of taco salad without picturing that bowl! 

It's just such an easy thing to toss together, and tastes so good. Also, I love that you can add various things to it, depending on your mood, to keep things interesting!  

A few weeks ago, I was at Target one Sunday afternoon, and I saw this big glass bowl on the clearance bin for $7. I knew that I needed it. It was no sooner in my cart that I decided to make taco salad for dinner, and then I was buying the necessary ingredients.

I didn't do step-by-step photos this time, so you will just have to settle for the finished photos of the results of my labors  ;)

I served my taco salad with multi-colored tortilla chips, black olives, black bean and corn salsa, avocado, and sour cream. Of course, you can do any or none of those things, depending on your mood at the moment! 

Hey! My tomato is Canadian! 

Turns out, the bowl I bought is really big...that is about four servings worth of taco salad, and barely filled 1/3 of the bowl! Who wants to come over for dinner next time?! 

Taco salad:

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 package/envelope taco seasoning mix
  •  iceberg lettuce
  •  tortilla chips
  • shredded Cheddar cheese
  • chopped tomatoes
  • sour cream
  • salsa

(and anything else you'd like!)

In large skillet, brown the ground beef, and drain excess grease. 

Stir in taco seasoning and mix well. 

When ready, pleace at bottom of large bowl. Cover with layers of chopped tomatos, shredded cheese, chopped lettuce. Serve with tortilla chips, and any other toppings. I know some people might like to include beans in there too, and that would also be so delicious! 

Then, eat and enjoy!

What is your favorite summer meal? 

(also, just a few days left to enter our giveaway!!!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Monday Montage: Ruffled Feathers!

I'm so pleased to share this marvelous shop with you today, as our Monday Montage feature! Here comes Ruffled Feathers, run by our good friend Valerie in Iowa! 

Valerie started Ruffled Feathers Company after sewing skirts for the Love Without Boundaries Art Auction and just enjoys it so much. She loves sewing designing, and is a graphic designer by profession! Many of these dresses are one-of-a-kind ... sewn the ol' fashioned way with love and care, no fancy serger seams, but rather, french seams and neat zigzags and trimming. 

The beginner quilter and seamstress in me is so impressed with the skills that Valerie has! Incredible! 

As you've seen in previous posts, Valerie and her husband have three boys (remember our monster truck birthday cake? our karate-kicker?), so she said that  isn't much call for dresses in her house  :)   

In her own words, Valerie said  

"I have a passion to speak out for orphans and am blessed that my sewing and designing can be used to be God's hands and feet in tiny ways. As a stay-at-home mom my sewing allows me to sponsor children and adopting families who are fundraising. A portion of every sale goes to help orphan care. And in case you are curious about the name ... When I was sewing up my first skirts I had quite a few "Ruffled Feathers" from the male-folks around the house who were a little put off about the girly-girl things suddenly popping up ... therefore the name "Ruffled Feathers." 
Sometimes it's good to ruffle a few feathers!" 

I couldn't agree more, Valerie! 

Just have a look at some of these darling creations! 

the Hope Knot Dress

Blooming Hearts Knot Dress 

In addition to these skirts and dresses, Valerie also makes DOLLS!!! Plus, your doll (daughter!), and her little dolly can have matching outfits! 

Skirt with Matching Lydia Love Doll

Lydia Love Doll 

Here are a few of our favorite dolls, modeling Valerie's creations: 



Aren't these all just wonderful??? I'm wishing I had little girls of my own, and thinking of all of the little girls that I know, so that I can outfit them all in Valerie's creations! 

I have a funny feeling that I will need to place an order with Valerie. I think that the little girls that I sponsor would just adore these dresses and dolls! 

Valerie has been a longtime supporter of both Scarlet Threads, and New Day Foster Home and I know I've seen her work on their blog from time to time! She says that her designs are a beautiful and intricate part of a much larger tapestry that God is working on weaving, which is just such a lovely thought, wouldn't you agree? Here's a few more words from Valerie, and I really love this - 

I will also add that my sewing machine was a gift from my mother soon after we were  married. At the time, I was a full time graphic designer who flew around the country working with Colleges and Universities to design their promotional material. 

I was very appreciative to my mother for the gift most definitely ... but I can still hear my words ringing in my head, "Thank you mom! But I don't know WHEN I'm going to have time to use this?!"
She just game me that look that only mother's can give ... with a quiet smile ... and a sparkle in her eye. (It's actually frozen in my mind's eye.)

I'm not sure if she realized what that sewing machine had in its future ... but she knew motherhood would change me.

And it certainly has.

Thinking about Valerie's story and reading her words, I got a few chills. Really. I really admire her for what she is doing, and find it so inspiring. I think that the next time I am in Iowa, I might need to stop by Valerie's house for a sewing lesson. I have a feeling that we'd get along famously. 

Valerie has so graciously offered our readers a 15% discount on any dress or skirt orders for the next two weeks! She can also do custom orders, and indicated that it is best to contact her via email, which is listed on the sidebar of her blog. When you email her, and I sure hope you do, please let her know that you found her site from ours, mentioning Scarlet Threads, in order to get that discount applied. Of course, you can also order directly from her site. She is also working on creating an etsy shop, and when she does, we will be sure to let you know! For now, find Valerie and Ruffled Feathers HERE

Friday, August 24, 2012

Fantabulous Friday: Not my Time

It's painful to recognize that "my time" isn't my own. It is spoken for. Absolutely. There are the things I'd like to do - things for my own glory and gain. But, somehow - even when I do devote myself to me - I come up empty. I'm thinking more and more of my time as on loan to me. From my Maker. What would he have me do with this life?

I find it irksome when claims on my time over-rule my desires. What? I can't just triathlon train and play piano all day long? Shoot. Even ST has become my idol at some point or other, but my husband is quick to call me back to reality. Scarlet Threads is the Lord's work - in my opinion - but I have to be careful. Sometimes I flail about in futility in the name of ST, when I could be doing something useful or more importantly RESTful. 

This world is for training. We win and we lose, but every day we are working towards a goal.
Daily, the ST Ladies are working to provide a safe place to work for women around the world. Starting in China - and recently extending to Uganda - and a possible expansion to a new country impending. We have had set backs. I won't lie to you, there were times when we nearly closed our doors. The details, I won't share. What I will share is that the women who we employ in China helped us to overcome those difficulties. Their belief in the product they create and in our ability to guide and grow ST (along with some answered prayers) gave us the strength to continue.

We are so glad that we did. If you've been watching, and reading between the lines, you'll have seen that our "training and correction" has paid off. You've met our gorgeous new staff (Christina, Faerl, Hannah, and Lexi), you've seen our new blog format, and you'll see that we've added four new Retailers. We have our heads on straight, now! We don't expect this road to be easy - we don't want it to be easy because we are in training. It is the path before our feet that is important and rewarding on this journey, and it's not so bad.

Scarlet Threads is like triathlon - the more difficult the obstacle, the more prepared I become once I've conquered it.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Thrifty Thursday: Ella Grace

Sweet Ella Grace! What a blushing beauty. The delicate roses on the soft grey with a pop of pink trim. It just gives me that southern sweet tea summer feel. What sort of feeling does she give you? A thrifty one, I hope!

This week only, we have drastically reduced the price on this ethereal apron to $15! If you are looking for a bridal shower gift or an unique hostess gift or you have an excuse to reward yourself for a life lived well, drop by our shop!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tasty Tuesday: Cinnamon Brown Sugar Muffins

I can’t buy molasses here in China, but I can find just about every shade of brown sugar imaginable. We have super light brown, light brown, very brown, dark brown, darker brown, super dark brown, practically-black dark brown etc. etc. etc. So, if I want to make something like molasses crinkles or gingerbread, I can make up a suitable substitute by stirring some hot water into my practically-black dark brown sugar and no one knows the difference. Unless, of course, I can’t get the clumps of sugar to melt and the cookies or bread have little dark dots looking suspiciously like chocolate chips all over.

That is what happened to these deceptive muffins. Hopefully you will be more successful with your brown sugar and won’t be forced to settle with a brand that has clumps only a hammer can granulate (hammers and countertops are not friends, please remember). As long as your guests are expecting brown sugar and not chocolate, all will be well.

2 cups white flour
1 ½ cups whole wheat flour
1 ½ cup milk
1 ½ cup sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 tsp nutmeg
2/3 cup oil
2 eggs
Chopped nuts

  1. preheat oven to 350
  2. mix all dry ingredients
  3. beat the eggs and add rest of wet ingredients
  4. combine and add the nuts (1-2 cups, walnuts would be divine)
  5. place in greased muffin tins (you should be able to make about 3 dozen with this recipe)
  6. bake for 25 minutes

Enjoy warm with a cup of tea... or coffee.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Monday Montage: Red Letter Ink

Does anyone else out there have an etsy addiction? As in you can decorate whole houses in your imagination just while browsing? Or is that just me. Ahem.

Found this adorable little shop, and just had to share!  Red Letter Ink makes stationary and beautiful prints, ready to frame and hang.

Personally I have a soft spot in my heart for their adoption prints... which involve maps.  One of my favorite things.  (Actually, two of my favorite things.  I heart adoption and maps.)

And birds.  Who doesn't love birds?  Everything is better if you "put a bird on it."  :)

I also really liked this print that has words from an old hymn.  Reminds me of the little white chapel we got married in...

And this would look so adorable in a kitchen. 

Anyway, enough of my rambling.  Time to shop!!  And Aimee of Red Letter Ink is offering a 20% discount off items in her shop for the next 3 days!  (Aug 20-22) Just enter SAVE20 at checkout. So take a few minutes to browse her shop and find the perfect print... and be sure to tell her we sent you!  :)

Oh, and if you like Red Letter Ink on facebook, you will be the first to hear of new releases and special deals!

Friday, August 17, 2012

giveaway! Sing us a SONG!

I have a giveaway for you today! It is one of our new aprons, the lovely SONG.

In case you are new to our blog, Scarlet Threads is a group of women running a fair trade company specializing in fabulous textile products. We are all about the fabric selection - it's kind of our thing! And, we are all about cooking - another thing of ours. So, you put that together and you get an amazing line of aprons - fun and funky or sweet and spunky. What started this movement and what keeps us going as worker bees - and our community coming back to support us - is our mission to provide emloyment (and a path out of poverty) to women in rural Asia and Africa. So, enter the giveaway, and then don't forget about us! We're always sharing recipes, craft ideas, "product development" sketches, photos of our village, and of course product sales. Aprons may be our favorite, but they aren't our one and only! We have something for everyone in our shop. Thank you so much for stopping by, we know we will see you again soon.

Enough introduction - although, I don't know your name yet! There's a giveaway to get to!

My friend Brayden is so excited about the Song that he's sharing his karate moves! You may recognize Brayden from a recent Tasty Tuesday post, and I'm thrilled to have him back for today's giveaway! I love his enthusiasm, both for Song, and for soccer games with his brothers!

I hope that you will leap for joy at the thought of winning a Song of your own!

Now, if you can't wait to win, or you have your heart SET on a different product in our shop, use "Lex10" at checkout for 10% off!

I do love the Song too. Such pretty fabric, and in the same pattern as our very first Anna! Love the colors, and that pocket! THAT POCKET! Keep a snack in there while you're baking!

We'd love to give a Song to one of you, our loyal readers and supporters.

click here to enter -- a Rafflecopter giveaway Hurry! This Giveaway Ends Friday August 31st!
Good luck to you, and tell your friends!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Thrifty Thursday: Summer Joy!

Well! Thrifty Thursday is here again, and the deal du jour for you is the Summer Joy- the "big sister" of our lovely Poppy! Just $9.00 for this week - that's our best deal, yet!
We had so much fun with Poppy last week, that we thought that Summer Joy would be a great deal to follow. We think that the new Poppy wearer in your family will look especially nice with her big sister in a Summer Joy! Please note that the Summer Joy has two designs! One is the paisley (and I'm a sucker for anything paisley myself!), and then the floral design, like the Poppy. The darker colors in the paisley are a great ease into fall...add some leggings and a turtleneck, and your little doll will be the best dressed in class!

Need an inspiration? Check out these photos of Boikokobetso, the little darling I sponsor in South Africa with World Vision! I've posted the photos before, but here's a refresher-

Isn't Boikokobetso fashionable?! Straps up or straps down! Pink pants and shoes to match! For a bit of reference, I sent her a small/3T, and she just turned five this month. I don't have any children of my own yet, so I had to guess, and I think I did okay. Having room to grow is a good thing, eh?

So! This week, grab a Summer Joy for just $9! Best deal! Hurry and grab one today!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tasty Tuesday: Labor of Love Banana Pudding

Made from scratch pudding, caramelized bananas, toasted Nilla wafers and maple whipped cream.
I made this banana pudding for my parents while I was visiting them in Houston last week. As I gave my momma the grocery list she was shocked that it didn't include vanilla pudding mix, she was further surprised by the time and "labor of love" that goes into scratch-made desserts. While we were cooking together she was doubtful that all the extra time and work would be worth it but she recanted vehemently after the first bite of the finished product.

If you are accustomed to mixing the pudding, pouring it over slices of banana and Nilla wafers and calling it done then prepare for a little more prep time- I promise it's worth it!!

3-4 ripe bananas
Half a box of Nilla wafers
2 c. Whipping Cream
3 Tbsp. Maple Syrup
3 c. 2% or low fat milk (I mix them together)
3/4 c. Sugar
1/4 tsp. Salt
1/2 c. Flour
4 Tbsp. Butter (room temperature)
2 Tbsp. Vanilla
3 Egg Yolks
A little shake of cinnamon

First thing to do is caramelize your bananas. Melt 1 Tbsp. butter in a saute pan. Slice bananas diagonally for longer slices and add to pan. Brown on both sides. Set one banana's worth of slices aside and mash them well. Set aside. Allow the rest of the slices to cool- these will be layered in the dish.

In a bowl, combine the sugar, salt, and flour; stir to blend. Slowly stir in milk until smooth. Pour into the top of a double boiler over simmering water. Cook, whisking frequently, until the mixture begins to thicken. If you don't have a double boiler- no problem! Set a metal mixing bowl or pot over a larger pot of simmering water. Just make sure that the top bowl/pot isn't touching the simmering water below. Since I was at my parents' I had to do the pot in a pot method and it worked fine.
My "Double Boiler"
In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks; gradually whisk in about 1 cup of the slightly thickened hot milk mixture. Return egg mixture to the double boiler, stir in the vanilla, butter, and a little shake of cinnamon and continue whisking and cooking until well thickened. This takes a little time so pull up a stool. Remove from heat and mix in the mashed bananas until the pudding is smooth again. Set aside to cool slightly.
In a large mixing bowl whip the whipping cream with the maple syrup until soft peaks form. Gently fold half the whipped cream into the cooled pudding. Set the other half of the whipped cream in the refrigerator to keep cool.
Fold in the maple whipped cream
Arrange a single layer of Nilla Wafers on a baking sheet and toast lightly in the oven at 350 or on a low broiler setting.
Toasted Nilla wafers smell so nice.
You can serve this in one large dish or in small individual dishes. Either way you choose layer toasted Nilla wafers, sliced bananas, and pudding and repeat. Top with a dollop of whipped cream and a cookie.
Caramelized bananas layered over toasted Nilla Wafers
It's worth the time and effort and your family and friends will know you love them when they take a bite!

Enjoy and please let me know if you make any delicious alterations or upgrades!