Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Tasty Tuesday: Peanut Buster Parfait Bar Dessert


Today's Tasty Tuesday sure is a treat! This is Valerie, one of our supporters, and her three boys; Brayden, Easton and Nolan. She and her husband Jeff and the boys live in Iowa, where they do lots of typical boy things, like camping, kite flying, and other outdoor sports! As you will see, the boys are happy to come inside and help Valerie with the cooking sometimes....and boy, do they look terrific in their Scarlet Threads aprons!




Valerie's youngest, Nolan, recently turned the big FOUR years old! She shared with us the recipe for the most amazing sounding birthday cake I've ever heard....Peanut Buster Parfait Bar Dessert!!!! It reminds me of the Dairy Queen desert, which is one of my favorites.




Peanut Buster Parfait Bar Dessert

Ingredients:

1/2 gallon vanilla ice cream, slightly softened
48 Oreo cookies
1/4 cup margarine, melted
1 (16 ounce) jars hot fudge sauce
1 cup party peanuts
8 ounces Cool Whip

Directions:
Crumble Oreos in a ziplock back with a rolling pin
 (scraping out and discarding the white middles first!) and set aside 1/2 cup.

Mix oreos with melted margarine and press into 13x9 pan bottom only.
(I use a glass casserole with a plastic lid so I can keep any leftovers in the freezer)

Gently spread ice cream over the oreo crust. (I usually just cut a brick of ice cream into 1" thick slices and arrange them over the oreos until covered)

Slightly heat hot fudge and pour over ice cream.
 (I don't heat mine, I just blop small spoonful across the entire dessert and smooth together)
Don't get it too warm as it will melt the ice cream and ruin the dessert.
Just warm enough to pour comfortably.

Cover with the peanuts.

Spread the cool whip over the top.

Sprinkle with the left over oreo crumbs.

Freeze.

Take out 15 minutes before serving time.
(You can drizzle more fudge and peanuts on top instead of Oreos if desired.)


Valerie told me that this recipe is the one that is requested for a good share of our birthdays, celebrations and get-togethers, and was used this time as the base for Nolan's Monster Truck Birthday cake, customized on top with a few scoops of chocolate chip ice cream for the mountain, extra Oreo crumbles for the faux dirt and a toy Monster Truck which was an added bonus toy for the birthday boy!! What a lucky guy! I think I am going to Valerie's house for my next birthday, as long as she makes this cake, with or without the monster trucks  :)


One more photo, with a special note from Valerie-

There was also the first one I took where the aprons are more visible and ... so is their abundant boy-ness! Most of our cooking together is usually full of no less spunk, although I would advise one boy in the kitchen at once.

I'll keep that in mind, should I have three boys someday! Or maybe I can borrow one of Valerie's boys when I am feeling low on spunk?






 I must think of a good reason to make this cake, I think. I especially love this photo and the personalities they boys have! Valerie, this photo would be great for their high school yearbooks, when they graduate!

A very special to Valerie, Brayden, Easton, and Nolan for sending us these marvelous photos and an amazing recipe! I love the various Scarlet Threads aprons in the photo too...from one of the first, to one of the newest! That's quite a range!


Monday, July 30, 2012

Monday Montage: an etsy shop of lovely dolls




If you're a long-time reader, you may be aware of my admiration and support for another amazing organization, called World Vision. In case you aren't familiar with it,  it is a relief, development and advocacy organization dedicated to working with children, families and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice.


I've been a sponsor with them for almost five years now, with three children; two from Albania, Majlinda and Redion, and one from South Africa, Boikokobetso. You may recall this post, where I showed a picture of Boikokobetso in one of our darling Summer Joy dresses! Love it!


Before Boikokobetso joined my family, and before Redion too, I had another little girl in Albania, called Inaete. Her family, after a bit of time, left the program, as they moved to Italy, I believe. Of course, I miss having her in my life, but she's still in my prayers!


I like sending packages to my children when I can, especially for their birthdays and holidays. When birthdays rolled around, I thought of something special, and what's more special than a doll? Every little girl needs a doll to love.


I found the most wonderful etsy shop, called Gingham World. Little Miss Gingham makes the most darling dolls, and I knew that they were just perfect for Majlinda and Inaete. These little ladies are brightly colored, about 17" tall and ready for any birthday party or other special event! Their faces are handpainted! 

How wonderful are these dolls???


This little lovely went to Majlinda.




This darling doll went to Inaete.






The best part? Several weeks later, I received a letter from Majlinda, and here is an excerpt from it-


On May 5 it was Majlinda's birthday and she turned six. It was a beautiful day for her. Majlinda had a party in the kindergarten with her friends and they had a good time there. A week later, her teacher organized a beauty contest and Majlinda won two prizes: Miss Smile and Miss Kindergarten. We thank you for becoming part of Majlinda's birthday with your gifts, cards and letter. Majlinda loves the doll you sent her, you made her very happy. Do you want to know how Majlinda named the doll? She named her Alma (Al stays for you and Ma for Majlinda). I hope that you are okay with that!


How could I not be okay with that?! Lovelovelove. Her doll shares part of my name, just like Majlinda shares part of my heart. Though most people call me Lexi, my full name is Alexis, and Majlinda spells it Aleksja. Love it!


So many thanks to Gingham World and her wonderful shop! She makes everything herself, by hand, so things are always changing, and you'll never see the same thing twice! I love to see handmade items like this, and I can only hope that my sewing skills will one day be close to Miss Gingham's! She has to much talent, and I encourage you to check out her shop when you need a wonderful handmade gift for a little girl!

Editor's note: Due to summer vacation, Miss Gingham's shop is closed at the moment....we hope to have a mroe detailed feature of her shop, along with an interview and new products this fall, so stay tuned! 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Profile of a Scarlet Threads Affiliate

Your real name :
Christina- but most people call me Crissy

How did you hear about Scarlet Threads?:
I first heard about Scarlet Threads through another associate, and friend of mine, Lexi. She was always blogging, tweeting and facebooking about how wonderful your cause was and how cute the aprons are so one day I decided to check it out for myself.  I browsed your site and was hooked!

In your own words, why did you want to join the Scarlet Threads Team?:
When I was browsing the ST site for the first time I came across their vision statement page. On it was a passage that read " There is nothing more beautiful than hope restored.......We believe that the careful craftsmanship and attention to detail found in each of our products reflects the same transformation: . the beauty of a talented seamstress proudly presenting her handicraft and receiving the opportunity to meet her family's needs." That resonated deeply with me.  I knew at once what ever opportunity came up to volunteer, that I would be  putting myself forward for it because I believe strongly in giving our fellow man (or woman in this case) a chance to change their situation or destiny.  

How do you differ from the other Scarlet Threads Associates?:
Good Question: Well first things first - I am no where as near crafty as some of my fellow staffers/affiliates! Rather my strengths lie more in the  " isn't afraid to talk to anyone area."  After that point there are really more similarities than differences. For example- Like Carrie I am also a wife and mother- to a beautiful  11 month old girl named Zoie (see photo below.)


Zoie and I (photo taken recently) 

Similar to Lexi I am originally a New Englander who decided to leave the area  for a job.  The difference between us lies in location; Lexi is still on the East Coast while my family transplanted to The Woodlands, TX. Like almost all ST members my my passion is cooking- I am obsessed with the food network , as well as Julia Child (even before the movie Julie & Julia came out- perhaps that is because I grew up in Boston seeing her on PBS; but I digress.)


Tell us a little more about you, the person behind the keyboard:
For the past 12 years I have worked in Marketing Departments helping to create, launch and manage product lines and brand awareness. As such I have an abnormal amount of experience in merchandising, vendor relations, travel and event arrangements/setup (domestic and international) which I am very excited to be able to bring to ST! 

Let's see what else- I like to learn, love to travel, and have a huge love of professional football (perhaps because I grew up in the New England Patriot's backyard.) To make things even more interesting I have very eclectic tastes in current tv shows; my intrests range from the Big Bang Theory to Downton Abbey to Anime.


Well that concludes this post- if you have any questions you'd like to ask me please leave a comment & I will be sure to respond to you!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Thrifty Thursday: Betsy the Beauty

Without further delay, Thrifty Thursday continues. Today we bring you this breathtaking baking buffer named Betsy. She remains one of our most popular styles of all time. The chocolate brown trim accents the blue floral print beautifully. (Incidentally, my entire house is painted in this motif.)

Regularly $26, we've dropped the price by $11 for this week only.

$15? Really? Yes. Really.

And, don't forget that she also comes in a miniature version - perfect for those little kitchen helpers!


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Photoshoot Director


We had some help from the littlest member of the Scarlet Threads team in our most recent apron photo shoot.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tasty Tuesday- Winner, Winner: Chicken Dinner!

Hello Everyone- this is Crissy one of ST's newest affiliates. I'm thrilled to be on-board and presenting you with my very FIRST  Tasty Tuesday Recipe: Apricot Chicken with Oven Roasted Potatoes. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. chicken (minimum) - please note this can be breasts, or thighs, bone in or out.
  • 1 large jar of your favorite apricot jam
  • 1 packet of onion soup mix  (I recommend Lipton's) 
  • 6 medium sized potatoes 
  • Cooking Spray
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup Olive Oil
  • large zip lock bag
  • fresh herbs according to your personal taste
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of pepper

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • While the oven preheats clean and trim the excess fat off the chicken parts. Once you have done this   spray a glass 13x9 inch pan with the cooking spray and arrange the chicken in the pan as shown.  Put aside for now. 

 

  • Once the chicken is prepped as mentioned above start working on the potatoes. First wash and scrub them. Quarter the potatoes then cut those sections into bite-sized pieces.  Place all potato pieces into the large zip lock  bag. Next drizzle olive oil into bag to lightly coat potatoes. Then select the fresh, or dried herbs you wish to use. A great combination to use is Rosemary, Thyme, and a pinch of dry mustard if you have it- but if you are feeling less adventurous you can select the pre-blended Herbs  de Provence and be assured of a very tasty side dish! Once you have selected the herbs sprinkle them into the zip lock bag, remembering to add a dash of salt and pepper , then seal the bag. Shake vigorously to coat the potatoes evenly- remember if you added to few herbs you can open the bag and add more if needed. Once the potatoes are coated open the zip lock bag and pour contents into an additional baking pan and set aside. 


  • Now it's time to create the Apricot glaze for the chicken.  On the stove place a medium sauce pan. Empty the contents of the apricot jam into it and start melt the jam down while stirring(with a whisk) over medium heat. 
  • Once the jam melts down it will begin to bubble along the edges of the pot. When this starts to happen add the dried onion soup packed to the jam. Quickly whisk this together.
  • Keep the jam on the heat for an additional 3-5 minutes after adding the soup mix to allow it to absorb and thicken, remember to continually stir the jam once on the stove as to avoid burning the glaze. Once the jam looks like the picture below remove it from the heat.
  •  Immediately pour the glaze over the chicken- coating each breast as you do so. 
  • Place the chicken and potatoes in the oven  and bake for a total of 1 hour. 30 minutes into your baking time check the chicken and potatoes. At this point in the cooking time I like to baste my chicken with the pan juices, and use a spatula to turn my potatoes to ensure even cooking. 

  • At the end of the hour plate the chicken and potatoes. Feel free to use the remaining glaze in the pan as sauce to drizzle on the chicken if you wish to. 
  • Serve with vegetables or a light salad for a complete meal!
*** ST Apron shown is the Anna; I thought it was a fitting way to commemorate my first ST Blog post by wearing my very first ST purchase ever!***

Friday, July 20, 2012

Lavender Festival



The Los Ranchos Lavender Festival in Albuquerque, New Mexico was this past weekend. Albuquerque is the home of one of Scarlet Thread's newest affiliates- me! One of my favorite things about living in Albuquerque is the numerous community festivals, markets and gatherings that are available. It's a very little, big city and Lavender Fest is one of my favorites. The festival includes food trucks, farm animals, a farmers market, arts and crafts fair and of course- lavender! 


One of my favorite features of this and other festivals is the farm animals. They are so sweet, cute and functional! This pygmy goat was calm and cuddly; almost as cute as this little girl (my best friends' daughter). 



You can pet these docile chickens! What a dream.


Young alpacas are even softer than their parents and they have such sweet eyes.



The north valley in Albuquerque is very rich agriculturally and the lavender plants thrive.


Lavender is one of my favorite fragrances. It's calming, fresh, herb-y and feminine without being too floral-y. It's a very balanced scent. I use lavender oil to scent lotion and the dried flowers to make a milk bath that is really helpful in this super-dry climate. The plants do well in full sun with well-draining soil in fairly hot and arid climates like the Southwest. 


Lavender Milk Bath

3 tablespoons dried lavender flowers (you can find these at most natural food stores)
1 1/2 cups of cream or whole milk
1/3 cup honey


In a blender, process the dried flowers until they form a powder. In a bowl, mix the lavender powder, cream and honey until well blended. This can be used as a milk bath to soothe and nourish the whole body, or it can be used as a foot or hand soak. Rinse off the mixture and pat dry when you’re done. Store any leftovers in a jar in the fridge. 


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Thrifty Thursday: Simply Sadie

Now is your chance to own our adorable little Sadie! We are down to single digits of our popular bag. I've gotten tons of compliments around town - in the grocery store and at the office. In addition to being made in a rural village in China, another thing that makes it unique is that it is made from sustainable flax fiber. (That's just a fun fact for the earth lover in all of us!)

Back to the message! We are putting this lovely bag on sale for $10.00. Take advantage of the offer now, because it is doubtful that she'll remain with us until Christmas!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Tasty Tuesday: Easy As Pie

I love pie, especially cherry pie. It's the perfect combination of sweet, buttery, tart and fruity and it's more perfect if you make all the ingredients from scratch. Making a pie from scratch may seem daunting but it's quite easy and people will rave about how delicious it is. My in-law's cherry tree was laden with fruit this year so I picked, pitted and canned my own cherry pie filling so I could enjoy delicious pies all year long without having to buy canned pie filling from the store which I find too sweet and fake-y. 



This is my best crust recipe, adapted from one of Martha Stewart's. I get so many compliments on this pie crust, particularly from people (like myself) that don't usually like pie crust.
Ingredients:
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 cup/ 2 sticks of chilled unsalted butter.
  • 6- 8 tbsp. ice water
Directions:
Combine flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Mix very well to insure it's well blended. Add butter by slicing it into pats and cutting the butter into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles course meal. A few pea sized pieces of butter is fine. Sprinkle the mixture with 2 tbsp. of ice water at a time and working the dough with the pastry blender. Continue adding water and working dough until it's crumbly but holds together when pinched. Don't overwork the dough. 

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and form into 2 3/4 inch thick discs. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour or two or until firm. *This recipe makes two pie crusts which you'll need for a latticed pie. I recommend always making two at a time since you can freeze them for several months.*

Cherry Pie Instructions:
Ingredients:
  • two pie crusts
  • tow cans or jars of pie filling
  • 1/4 cup of butter
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 tbsp. heavy cream or half & half



Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Roll out pie crusts on a lightly floured work surface to less than a 1/4 inch thick. Place one pie crust in the bottom of your pie dish. 

Pour pie filling into the pie dish, it should be very full and a little heaped up in the center. Slice the butter into pats and place throughout filling. Cut the second pie crust into strips and lattice them over the top. Fold the hangover from the bottom crust onto the latticed crust and crimp to seal.  
Whisk the egg white with the heavy cream and brush over the entire latticed crust. This insures that the crust will be golden and flaky without burning or drying out. Bake for an hour and half, until the filling is bubbling and the top and bottom (lift the pie out of the oven and look at the bottom- helps if you use a clear glass dish) crusts are golden.


A Few Tips and Tricks:
  • Cherry pie filling stains really badly- wear a full apron to avoid messes.
  • If you have a glass stove top use this surface to work your dough. The dough sticks less and clean up is easy.
  • Make sure your filling doesn't have too much liquid when you start. The cherries will cook down quite a bit. Drain off extra juice before you fill the crust.
  • The pie is boiling when it first comes out of the oven. Let it sit for 15 minutes before slicing and serving, preferably with vanilla ice cream.
Happy cooking!!



Monday, July 16, 2012

Monday Montage: Calling all Earth Lovers!

This world is a very small world and the "fair trade" community is even smaller. Two years ago, we contacted Tammy from a lovely shop called Earth Lover. She quickly responded, in part because it is rare to find a fair trade company operating in China - admittedly, there aren't many! She offered advice and counsel to this fledgling start up as someone who had walked in our shoes and made it through the the trying first few years.

Well, wouldn't you know that two years later my vacationing mother would meet Tammy in a shop in Georgia? Somehow they got to talking and Scarlet Threads came up. At work, at my day job, I started receiving text messages with continued advice from Tammy via my mother - "Become Fair Trade Federation members!"

But of course! Why didn't we think of that? (The mountain of paperwork? Sheer laziness? Both?) No longer! As soon as we can find a free moment, we are starting the process. Guess what! ... I can't wait for the guesses to pour in ... Once we are FT certified, Earth Lover might or might not carry our gorgeous aprons in their shop!

To the point of the post. As I mentioned in paragraph one, Tammy has a wonderful online shop called Earth Lover and we think you should hop over and take a look at her unique finds. One of my favorite products that they carry are Recycled Sari Throws (featured above and below) from a fair trade company in India. They retail for $28.00, are both lovely and unique - and they look so soft - and they provide jobs to more than 50 men and women!


I think the shop lives up to its name! Take a look at their green profile. I have never seen a shop do so much to live up to the 3Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) and to ensure an absolute positive impact on the planet and all of its inhabitants (especially those humans!). What interested me the most on the site, is how they select the people with whom they do business. When you purchase from Tammy's shop, you can rest assured that every product is sweat-shop free (just like ours) and often they are made in small work shops or homes (just like ours!). No, we aren't desperate for a new retail partnership, we are just dying to partner with Tammy!

So, show your support for her fabulous mission and pop over to the shop. You can use the code "SCARLET" for 10% off in their shop until July 31, and don't forget to bookmark the site so that you remember it at Christmas time!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Fly-Away Style

I am fascinated by our new obsession with fascinators! Princess Kate's style hasn't been off yet but I am having a hard time working fascinators into my wardrobe and daily style. Unfortunately, I don't have any weddings, charity brunches or Jubilee celebrations coming up because I really want to incorporate a fabulous little hat into my look. Good news- yesterday I came up with the solution- vintage feather headpieces!



The perfect style is something between a fascinator and a hat, sort of like a very wide headband, and without any really dangly or "fly-away" pieces. My favorite piece is a combination of pheasant and peacock feathers, mostly in shades of brown with a few blues and greens, all of them iridescent and glamorous.
The best part- you don't have to spend a fortune at the milliner's or Saks Fifth Avenue, you can find great vintage pieces online (try Ebay or Etsy) and at vintage and thrift stores. It may seem a little daunting but go with it! If you're unsure how to wear it without looking too formal or stuffy try it with a sundress and minimal jewelry or even more effortless, wear it with jeans, a tee shirt or blouse and ballet flats like you would a headband- that's the direction I went.

The Goods: 
Headpiece- Vintage- Sequins, Sugar, Silk
Jeans- AG
Tee Shirt- Theory- TJ Maxx
Flats- Tory Burch
Earrings- Target

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Thrifty Thursday: Delightful Daphne

What can you get for $10 these days?  Not much... 

But this week only, you can get Daphne for $10!


That's 55% off the retail price!!!!!
(Which is actually a better price than our wholesale customers get! Shh... don't tell!) 

It's such a fun and cheerful apron... and do you see the pom-pom pocket?  Well those were handmade by Dou, a woman in our village who uses the money she earns to send her son to school.  She's also the woman who packages each and every one of our aprons.   

It's a super sale on a delightful Daphne for thrifty Thursday!
And yes, these awful alliterations are laughably lame.  But that's what happens when you try to do productive things at 11pm.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Tasty Tuesday: Oat Scones



Sometimes the best recipes are those dreamed in the early hours of the morning, scribbled onto a piece of scrap paper with a green marker and popped into the oven before the house has awoken.

That’s the gist of these scones and their story. If you’re looking at the picture and thinking, “wait, I thought that scones were triangles?” then you’re thinking the same thought I was a few years ago, before my studied-in-the-UK-friend told me otherwise. Granted, scones look a lot prettier when they are shaped like triangles, but they aren’t proper.


These Oat Scones are delightfully sweet (but not too sweet) and chewy. The oats give them some healthy denseness and the chocolate chips make up for all the sugar that these delicious scones need.

Make these for breakfast, like I did, or for teatime like I should right now.


Ingredients:
1 cup oats
1tsp salt
4T butter
1 cup milk
1 1/3 flour
2 tsp baking powder
Chocolate chips

Method
1. preheat oven to 475f
2. mix dry ingredients together in a bowl
3. cut in butter
4. stir in milk
5. add the chocolate chips – as many as you prefer
6. spoon batter onto a greased baking sheet (the scones will not spread very much, so you can squeeze them in!)
7. bake for about 12 minutes, or until beginning to brown
8. eat while the chocolate is still melty!

Ava

P.S. These scones would probably be delicious with some chopped walnuts!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Monday Montage: Jiayin Designs

I love finding little treasures buried around the web, and this little shop is just that -- full of little treasures. Kelly is one of those mamas who seems to have time for everything! In addition to writing an always-fun blog, My Overthinking, she manages quite a few other sites, too!  We Are Grafted In is a great source of support and encouragement for adoptive families.  And through The Sparrow Fund, she helps support families in the process of adopting by providing training and grants.  (Speaking of all her adoption advocacy work - can you take a minute to go to this site and vote for her video - third from top?  It seriously takes 5 seconds (no registration required), and if they get the most votes they get a free trip to an adoption conference.)  And did I mention she has 4 kids?  I told Kelly the other day when I wrote to her that I can't figure out how to keep Cora from drawing on my furniture with bars of soap while I get one email written... certainly don't know how she juggles so many different responsibilities while caring for four little ones!

But I'm not really writing this to share my admiration for women who seem to keep a thousand balls in the air at once.  (Though it is worthy of a blog post.)  Really I just wanted to tell you about one of Kelly's little treasures... her shop, Jiayin Designs.

As you know, Scarlet Threads' roots are in China, and so the products she sells go straight to our heart.  Beautiful charms with Chinese characters... and get this, you can even custom-order charms with specific words or names!  (And the story behind the shop is as precious as the charms.)

Mama 

The character hao, which means "good." 
Composed of the characters for woman and child and backed with mother of pearl.

I know lots of you are connected to the Chinese adoption community.  So do you know someone who just received a referral?  You can have a custom-made charm created with the little one's name... keeping him even closer to mama's heart while they wait.  Do you already have a little brood of your own?  They even offer charms with space for multiple names!  

And it isn't just necklaces!  Jiayin Designs partners with a young woman in Hunan province who makes handmade dolls and the animals from the traditional Chinese zodiac.  A former school teacher, she started sewing as a way to support her family.  If we could, we'd be selling these dolls through Scarlet Threads!  But for now we'll tell you to go buy them from Jiayin Designs.  :)




This week, Jiayin Designs is offering a 25% discount off their charms this week to anyone who mentions Scarlet Threads in their order!  You have until midnight Monday, July 16 to take advantage of this generous offer.