Saturday, September 29, 2012

Easing the Change

Does it get much happier than this? Huan Mei and Lao Yen obviously have a little too much joy bubbling up inside of them.

We're almost ready to launch Huan Mei and Lao Yen's work on the website, are you excited? Think of what great Christmas presents these items would make!?

Huan Mei and her family are also excited. You see, they're going through a rather rough transition right now. Lao Yen, father and husband and bread-winner of the family, is going to need to "move shop." The row of booths that his stall is located at in the city is getting closed down and he will need to find another location to sell his wares.

This is going to put a strain on the family... I can already see the stress that the unknown is bringing.

But with the upcoming launch of their products on Scarlet Thread's website, you can see the hope in Lao Yen's eyes as he hears that his family may be alright after all. Without us, Huan Mei and her family would survive... but the transition of the next few months would be rough. 

We're helping to ease the change.

...and by easing the changing, eliminating stress so that joy can continue to bubble.

Making a difference is exciting, isn't it?


Ni Hao Yall

Friday, September 28, 2012

a most Fantabulous Friday- strawberry infused vodka!

Since today is Friday, and the last weekend of September (can you believe it?!), I have a fun recipe to share! I could, of course, wait until a Tasty Tuesday....but why wait, when it's this good?!
I saw it on the blog for Washington Green Grocer, a produce delivery service here in DC, and thought the idea was too good not to try.
A few weeks ago, I was at TJMaxx and saw this giant canning jar for just $5.99, and thought it was too good a deal not to buy. So buy I did, and then stopped at the liquor store around the corner from my house. I knew I had strawberries at home.
Since the jar was a bit larger than I had anticipated using, I didn't fill it all the way up. I used one container of strawberries, hulled and cleaned, which filled the jar about a third of the way.  When I poured in the vodka (Polish, of course!), it filled about halfway up. Then I closed up the lid, made sure it was sealed tight, and tucked the jar away for safe-keeping!

The jar snoozed in our liquor cabinet (which is under this table!) for three weeks before we cracked it open. I will admit, that I never peeked at it at all during that time- apparently we drank wine those weeks  ;)  The blog post indicates that you should shake the jar a few times a week. Ooops, forgot about that! Oh well!
As you can see, the strawberries lost their color, and we had pink vodka!

(I think I need a nicer looking pitcher...)

As suggested, we drank it with lemonade, and it was delicious! We really enjoyed it. 

This was such a simple thing to do, with great results. Vodka is such an easy thing to infuse, and we are debating what to try next! I'm thinking seasonal, so perhaps cranberries and limes?  What sort of vodka would you like to infuse? What do you think we should try next??

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Tasty Tuesday: Owl-dorable (Or How to Make Fondant Work for You.)

This recipe is from one of my college roomies and an amazing cook, Teresa.  I told you that you'd be seeing more of her on the blog!  She makes this look so easy that anyone can do it!  Come on Threaders!  I know you wanna try this!!  :)  (If you do, please send pictures of your efforts please!  Even if they don't go as you planned, we won't laugh!!  Promise!)
Best, -C.

I love to decorate cakes. It all started with a cake decorating class at my local community college a few years ago and has become a surprising hobby, especially considering that I don’t particularly like cake (give me a pie any day). Nothing says a party like a cake though, so I have enjoyed getting to bless various friends and family members over the years with something fun and delicious. I haven't really had any time since having my daughter, but when my friend Catherine asked if we could make a cake for a baby shower she was hosting, I said bring it on!

The nursery theme for the new baby is owls so we had some pretty fun material to work with. First we baked the cakes, layered them and iced them (first a crumb coat and then the final coat). We just used boxed vanilla cake mix with milk and butter substituted for the water and oil; we filled the layers with strawberry jam.

While the cakes were baking, we got started on the fondant decorations. We used marshmallow fondant, which is super easy. All you do is put eight ounces of marshmallows in a bowl (the non-store brand works the best) with one tablespoon of water and microwave for one minute. Stir to a smooth consistency, and then gradually add one pound of sifted powdered sugar and work in. 

You can only get so far with a spoon before you need to transfer it to a work surface to knead. It might take a while, but keep at it until it is a smooth consistency.

Now you have a perfect ball of fondant.

Our first project is to make the owls, so we start by adding some food coloring (gel kind) to make some yellows and oranges.

I didn’t want to have to do a giant ball of fondant for each owl so I found some Styrofoam balls left over from a Halloween costume that worked perfectly. We wrapped each ball for the owl body.

We double wrapped one to make it a little larger than the other.

Adding on to that, we mushed on some ears and then rolled and cut out some fondant for the eyes, chest and wings. Simply add a little water to “glue” them on.

Here is Catherine with a partially completed one. (yes, she is an Aggie – please forgive her)

Here is the completed small owl. (I could not resist so I added a little sprinkle bling to the wings!)

Next comes mixing some more colors and rolling and cutting flowers (using a shaped cutter) and leaves (using a pizza cutter). After just a little while, we were able to come up with all the decorations for the cake.

Then it was just a matter of figuring out where we wanted everything and generally just making it look pretty. In addition to the fondant we cut out, I rolled some balls for the layer transition and added some edible green pearls to the bottom trim and dusted the green fondant with green shimmer powder. All in all I was pretty pleased with the results and hopefully the mommy-to-be was too!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Monday Montage: Sequins, Sugar and Silk

What a delightful etsy shop I have to share with you today! Allow me to introduce you to Sequins, Sugar and Silk, a lovely shop in Tijeras, New Mexico!
I do love the community that etsy is, and this new shop is sure to tickle your fancy. It is filled with vintage clothes and decor, repurposed supplies, and other handmade novelties that I know you will find as lovely as I do! All of the items are either vintage, upcycled, or made with love by the shop owner, Faerl Marie! She also says that things are easily customizable- add your monogram (aDg, for me please! monogram everything!), an initial, your full name or any other sweet little love note! I always love to personalize my gifts as much as possible, so this is just perfect, I think!

vintage black and tan clutch? I just love it. I might need it.

A customized scrabble board! A friend getting married? Having a baby? Write the couple a special message that they can display in their home! This could also be fun for a "congratulations on your new home" gift! Maybe spell out the address? 123 Main Street, Washington, DC? This would be just the cutest thing ever! 
Now I think I want one of these too...

An infinity jersey, made to order! Send along your measurements, and the dress will flatter you like none other! Black, brown, red or grey, and strapless, one-shouldred, halter, sleeves, straps, racerback and the list goes on and on. What a fabulous dress! Add some funky jewelry and crazy shoes, and you're ready for a night out on the town.

My favorite is this darling vintage Bisquick biscuit tin! I love finding little treasures like this whenever I pop into antique or secondhand shops, and this is just the sort of thing I would scoop up if I saw it! 

I collect tea tins, but perhaps I should expand to other sorts of tins too???

So! Pop on over to Sequins, Sugar and Silk and see what treasures await! Also, use the code Scarletthreads for 15% off any purchase you make! 

Also! We have a giveaway going on! Go visit our friend at Preppy Girl Meets World for a chance to win a Daphne apron!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Snapshot Sunday: Meeting the Whole Family

It shouldn't have come as a surprise to me when I met Huan Mei's husband, that Lao Yen, as he's called, is just a passionate and joyful as his wife! 

After talking with Huan Mei and Lao Yen about making some product samples (oh, you're going to LOVE these!), I asked them if we could take a quick family photo. The four of them had too much fun with one another and laughed through the whole thing. Jack tried to eat sunflower seeds while I took photos...

They were so proud to show me the big basket of rings in-the-works. Lao Yen sells these in the city, but he and Huan Mei are super-excited to to be marketing these online too! They can make them according to US ring sizes so don't worry, you'll get a chance to wear one of these beauties no matter what your size.

Lao Yen wanted to give me a few rings to take pictures of, so he pulled out his handy pliers and put the finishing touches to a handful of rings. 

Their house is very dimly lit - electricity is hard to come by when you're living in Huan Mei's situation, so I took the rings outside to photograph. There were eggplants and hot peppers out drying on the widow sill... quite an interesting background, to say the least!

...and then came the hand modeling! Isn't Huan Mei's hand lovely?

more coming later...

Ni Hao Yall

Friday, September 21, 2012

Funny Stuff

Living overseas can be challenging to say the least, but it can also be downright hilarious at times.  I’ve come across a few things that have made me smile, chuckle and laugh out loud, and I thought I’d share some with you.   

Let me throw in my disclaimer here, so that I know you read it: I am NOT making fun of Indonesia, their awesome people or their culture.  I simply find amusement in our cultural differences sometimes.  Also, please forgive the photos, I am not a professional photographer and these were take while out and about so the quality is not the best, but you should be able to get the picture (pun intended! Ha!)

There is to be a Finance Expo to discuss the growing economy of Batam, and I guess they decided to throw in a beauty pageant just for the fun of it!

 “Miss Batam, Indonesia Finance/ Banking Expo 2012” is quite a mouthful!

We all have heard that Americans tend to be on the larger side, so maybe we should look into getting these babies in our grocery store aisles.

And this one might need a little explanation; the toilets we are all used to are not common all over the world.  Many countries have porcelain toilets that are set into the ground, which you stand over to do your business instead of sit on.  In the new houses and nice hotels on the island, there are Western, sit-down, toilets, but not everyone is accustomed to using them thus this sign is necessary. 

On a more serious note, I am still hard at work searching for the next line of products for Scarlet Threads to be produced here in Indonesia.  Our original idea of working along side a local orphanage to train the older children in a craft, which we would in turn purchase from them for a fair price, has fallen through, because the local orphanage already has a sponsor, and they pay for the children’s college education.  We are obviously very happy that these precious children are being cared for, so we are off to look somewhere else for people and products!  I’ll keep you posted, and as always, feel free to post comments, questions or ideas!

Until next time, someone go enjoy some good old fashion American food for me! 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Thrifty Thursday: Betsy's Day

It is Betsy's day to shine!  
Half off this week in the Scarlet Threads Shop!  
Perfect Christmas present at $13!!