Friday, February 28, 2014

Friday Fun! Five Heart Home

I'd love to introduce our friend Samantha who runs a spiffy foodie blog called Five Heart Home!

Last month, we were looking for new blog friends who might be interested in guest posting a recipe on the ST blog. And, we were introduced via facebook by one of our ST community. You could say it's a match made in ST heaven.

So, I visited her site. And, I was blown away. I love the quality of the photos, and of course the food looks amazing, and her personality shines through so brightly in her writing. Witty, meticulous, type-A, perfectionist ... now I know why we connected!

See what I mean about the photography and food? First of all, I love St. Patrick's Day. It reminds me of my mother's antics with green dye and my brother losing his thermos of green dyed milk at school for a week. Oooh, wrong thing to say. Focus on the pictures...

http://fivehearthome.com/2014/02/27/features-fun-friday-12-top-5-st-patricks-day-treats-featured-blog-scarlet-threads/

Before I knew it, Samantha and I had planned a guest Tasty Tuesday post (March 4th, so check back) and she had become our second advertising affiliate. Can I tell you how thrilled I am that she is on board? It is sooooo validating when good hearted / high energy people share your vision and provide encouragement!

The advertising affiliate program is in beta test, but essentially we've reached out to ... two ... special blogs to help us see whether blog advertising is a good way to increase sales and therefore grow the Scarlet Threads mission! If you have a blog and you are interested in becoming our third advertising affiliate, message us on facebook or send us an email!!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Thrifty Thursday: Flower Earrings

This week's Thrifty Thursday product feature is one of my favorites! Our flower earrings on sale for ONLY $5.00 (reg. $7).

Click the photo above to visit our shop and make a purchase!

Have you met the Lao Yen? He's the artisan who creates our wonderful wired art collection. I love the creativity with which he and Huan Mei approach their work because it seems like every time we visit, they have something new in store for us.

Of course, we never lose site of our favorites and best sellers. These flower earrings, for example, have been a staple in our shop since we saw them on Huan Mei's ears.

But the story really doesn't stop at a gorgeous pair of earrings on sale for 30% off. The mission of Scarlet Threads is to bring beautiful products from our (very talented) artisans to our ever expanding ST Community. Simultaneously we want to introduce you, dear Community, to our artisans so that you have an opportunity to form a connection to the people who created the products that you purchase. For me, it makes a "thing" so much more meaningful when you can make a connection. 


I think I love my Scarlet Threads aprons and rings and potholders and Sadie Bag because I know the people who created them. I know them through ST, through Hannah's stories about Lao Yen and Huan Mei, which almost make me feel like I am a part of their family - their family that is overflowing with joy. I know them through Carrie and the pains that she took to create lovely patterns with Deng Jie and the funny cultural differences like button holes being uncut because it proves that the product you are purchasing is new!

Thank you so much for being a part of our community and letting us share in our stories with you! We hope that you follow us via our blog, facebook, twitter, and pinterest!


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Tasty Tuesday: Becoming Bread

"Resolve that you will have good bread, 
and never cease striving after this result 
until you have effected it." -
Marion Cabell Tyree, Housekeeping in Old Virginia



Be the bread! I have to be the bread. There is so much feeling in the art of bread making. Truly there is a ton of chemistry, so you would think that I could wrap my scientific brain around the concepts and knead out some incredible artisanal bread. Alas! I am but a learner, and most of that learning is discerning what the bread is supposed to look like and feel like rather than the exact quantities of ingredients. I found the above quote on Wild Yeast and so I press on relentlessly.

You should press on, too. There's a recipe coming...

If you've been reading the blog long enough, you will know there is one thing that I confess to: I do not like to measure exactly. (Turns out Carrie doesn't either... reference: Shanghai Style Baozi.) So caveat now stated, let us take a look at my month-long (and counting) bread experiment. This is probably the first in a line of bread posts, so be prepared!


I've made rye, french country, boules, ciabatta, and more french country, and things resembling french country. Crunchy crust, burned crust, just right crust. Too dense, very spongy, small holes, big holes. Breads that have maintained their integrity, breads that have fallen down when I take them out of the oven. Perfectly done, undone, overdone. 450, 425, 420 degrees F. Convection Bake, Conventional Bake. More gluten, less gluten. Less yeast, More yeast. Bread flour, all purpose, whole wheat, rye. Sugar vs. honey.  Olive oil or no olive oil. Water a tablespoon at a time.

I started with a simple quest: holes... big holes... lots of big holes. And, I read recipes... lots of recipes. And I practiced... lots of practice. And I resolve to keep practicing!

My best bread was last night, so that's the recipe that I'm sharing. One thing to note is that I am using a starter, which I made myself. I read that it was easier to achieve holes by using a starter, I think I read that on King Arthur Flour's blog about Ciabatta. I read a ton of recipes on how to make a starter, but at the end of the day I made my own - a recipe is just a guideline anyway, after all!

You can read all about starters, but here are the basics. You mix it up, let it grow, come back the next day, pour off half, feed the remainder with a scant cup of all purpose four (or substitute a couple tablespoons for rye flour on occasion if you like that provincial flavor) and a half cup of luke warm water. Repeat. You can either toss the poured off starter or you can use it to make a loaf of bread! Once you get the flavor you are looking for, stick the starter in the fridge (full quantity). When you are ready to bake another loaf, pull it out, use a portion for your bread. Feed the remainder and let it sit out while you bake and then return it to the fridge.

Eileen's Starter:

1/4 c. Rye Flour
1/2 c. Whole Wheat Flour
3/4 c. Bread Four
1 c. luke warm water
1/2 tsp. active dry yeast

Mix the ingredients above, cover with plastic wrap and leave it on the counter. King Arthur's website says start this process 2 to 16 hours in advance. Or as you can see from above, it's really no big deal to let it sit out longer. I keep having this hope that eventually it will become sourdough... don't know if that's possible, though.

24 hours later... (or repeated see the above cycle... I think I'm at day 21 or so...)

Eileen's Bread

1/2 c. Starter
1 1/2 c. Bread Flour*
1 tbsp. vital wheat gluten
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. dry active yeast
1/2 c. luke warm water*
1 tbsp. olive oil

Instructions (Short version). Mix. Knead. Rest. Knead. Rise (4 hours). Form. Place on baking sheet. Rise (2 hours). Bake 35 - 40 minutes, or until done. Serve!

It is great the next day toasted, buttered, and served with a touch of honey. It's equally great as grilled cheese sandwich bread. Of course it's kind of amazing right out of the oven.

Instructions (Long Version):

*Note: Water and Flour is more about feel than it is about quantity. I read that you should start out by keeping some flour in reserve and allowing the ingredients to meld. If you find that your dough is TOO sticky or soupy, consider adding flour a tablespoon at a time. If you find that your dough is too dry, add water a tablespoon at a time.


I use a bread maker, mostly because I got it for Christmas several years ago. I don't find that I prefer the french bread that it makes/bakes, but it is very handy for handling the labor intensive work. I appreciate its kneading capabilities. I am certain (I've seen it done) that you can mix the ingredients in a bowl and hand knead the dough to your textural satisfaction. I'm equally certain that you can bust out the mixer that you received as a wedding present, clip in the dough hook, and be on your way!

Add all of the ingredients to the bowl (or in my case, bread maker rectangular thing-y with paddle installed). I have, in fact, done all of this without the paddle installed, but no harm done - just some fingers in the food which should bother anyone. A little reminder for the absent minded in all of us.

If you are using your bread maker, turn on the manual knead function. What? Don't have one? Me neither. Just pick another bread setting, they should all start with a knead cycle. You're going to pull it out in a minute anyway.

Knead the dough for 10 minutes (or until all of the ingredients are absorbed), then let the dough rest for 10 minutes. Prior to the rest, resist the urge to add flour if it displays lack of form. If it is too dry, add water a tablespoon at a time until it demonstrates more movement (it should look more stretchy/pliable but not quite pourable).

This one needed a bit more water...


Now you are ready to let it rest. This rest should allow for some more absorption of the flour and it will give the dough an entirely new texture. I read about this, totally didn't believe it, but then I observed the phenomenon for myself. Once the dough has rested, turn back on your kneading device. At this point you can add flour as you see fit.

Use some olive oil to grease a glass bowl, turn the dough into the bowl, cover with plastic wrap (or a damp towel) and let sit for 4 or so hours. Often I do this at night before I go to bed and throw it in the fridge for a slow rise.

It is totally ok for your dough to be a bit sticky... See? I promise it will turn out okay.


As the end of rise time approaches, sprinkle a baking sheet with corn meal. Gently remove the dough from the bowl form into a baguette or a boule (that circular looking thing) and place onto the baking sheet seam side down. Slice the top to make those beautiful caverns that you see on bakery bread - they will grow as it rises. Let rise for another hour and a half.

This rise time can be shorter or longer as you see fit. My bread tends to expand horizontally more than vertically, but don't worry it turns out delicious either way! This is because I tend to use less flour. More flour yields a stronger form.

Preheat your oven to 420 deg F. Grab a baking dish, fill it with water, and place it in the bottom of the oven. I used a 9 x 9 brownie pan and it made this delicious crust so I say the more steam, the better!

When you and the are ready, put your bread in the oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes. It is done when a cake tester comes out clean or the internal temperature approaches 212 deg F. I'm finding the cake tester method is working well for me.

So what do you think of my latest obsession? More bread posts? Make sense? Questions? Leave me some comments!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Adoption Fundraising with Scarlet Threads: Tips and Tricks

Scarlet Threads launched the Apron Fundraiser concept last year to join our fair trade sewing cooperative with our heart for adoption and orphan care. Over the course of the year, we partnered with adoptive parents, including Lauren Childers who sold several batches of our aprons and other products to raise funds for her adoption.  Lauren graciously offered to give some fundraising tips and share how she made the most of the Scarlet Threads Apron Fundraiser. Here we go!!



Tips and Tricks:
Aprons are easy to sell because you can always own more than one. Since Scarlet Threads Aprons are pretty, well made, and fair trade, they are even easier to sell. The key I have found is to show the aprons. I have a pretty Easter type basket that I bring to church with me on Sundays. The ladies in my class were able to see the aprons and take home their purchases that day. The Apron Basket even made its way to my mother’s church, to family get-togethers, and with friends on outings.

I should also note the generous terms of this adoption fundraiser before I go farther. Many fundraisers I researched might give a few dollars of a purchase such as 10%, $3, $7 and so on. But with Scarlet Threads, I get 50% of the purchase price! My friends and those kind strangers who have purchased aprons from me have been very impressed that half of what they are paying will actually help me bring my daughter home.

This was my chat up line: "By purchasing this apron, you are supporting my adoption AND helping another mother in Asia provide for her family. Just $30!”



- Sell other gifts to coordinate.
At Christmas time, I made Vanilla Chai Tea Latte mixes, Hot Cocoa Mixes, and Chocolate Chip Brownie Mixes. I put them in mason jars with some pretty ribbons, and a tag with directions and sold them for $5 each. It was a hit for people to order gift bags with a apron and a cute recipe jar. They were great for teacher gifts or co-worker gifts! There are tons of recipes for mason jar gifts on Pinterest, so get creative.

- Team up!
You know those one time parties where you sample all sorts of delicious foods and then order packets and jars to make at home? Yea, those! Team up with another adoptive mom to sell both food and aprons!

- Coordinate with a holiday
We choose Christmas, since frankly it was next on the calendar. However, we have another big apron push scheduled for Mother’s Day. With Christmas we played up the fact that aprons were great gifts for hard-to-buy mother in laws, the aunt who has everything, and the girlfriend who loves to cook. For Mother’s Day, we are planning to match up aprons with muffin mixes and tea for a great mother’s day gift.



- Network
We have page on Facebook where we post updates on the adoption as well as fundraisers. We posted cute pictures of my daughters posing in the aprons. In addition to online, we advertised to our church group, our preschool, our work, my tennis team, and the elementary school my daughter attends. It doesn’t have to be much more than an email or simply chatting with friends.


- Lots of products
During Christmas, I also sold the ornaments from Scarlet Threads. There are also necklaces, pot holders, and children’s clothes. There are lots of options to choose from to keep your fundraiser items fresh and new!  (Scarlet Threads note: Our standard fundraising kit includes only aprons, but if you are interested in selling other items we produce, please contact us for details!)



Thursday, February 13, 2014

Thrifty Thursday: Sweet Suzy

So many people ask "where can I find a cute apron?!" The answer is simple - in the Scarlet Threads shop, of course! And, we're going to make one apron super duper appealing this week. Our beautiful Suzy is on sale for Thrifty Thursday. Normally $25, the sale price is $14 now through next Thursday!

If it is your first time visiting our blog and our shop, there are a couple things you should know:
Suzy, our simple shift apron, is one of our most popular. I'm thinking it's because it is so cute wth the bold floral on denim. Plus, it is so functional! Perfect coverage for that adorable outfit underneath!

Click the picture to make a purchase on the web site!
http://www.scarletthreads.org/shop.html/Aprons?product_id=70

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Tasty Tuesday: Shanghai Style Baozi

I posted this picture of our Chinese New Year celebration meal on my personal facebook page and was immediately asked by several people how to make baozi. Let me start by saying that this was my first time to make baozi, and I by no means am a food blogger (nor did I intend to do a post about it), so I don’t have Pioneer-Woman-Style step-by-step photographs nor perfectly posed/colored pictures of the end result. So with that disclaimer out of the way, here’s my best stab at explaining how to make these.

So some of you might be wondering, what is baozi? Pure deliciousness, that’s what. And next to jiaozi (you may know them as dumplings/potstickers), quite possibly the most ubiquitous Chinese food around. A traditional dish you’ll find in just about every nook and cranny of the country, it’s a steamed bun often filled with a meat and vegetable mixture. Think bread – but not baked – filled with a savory blend of ground meat and veggies. To be honest, they can be an acquired taste. By its self, I find the plain baozi to be well… rather plain. And some of the fillings don’t appeal to my western tastebuds. But the little ones with the right combo of meat and bread… especially on a cold morning… well, my mouth waters at the thought of it.


In all the parts of China I visited, baozi are a favorite breakfast food and found on just about every street corner. The fillings change up by the region, and our favorite preparation style was in Shanghai. I visited Shanghai ONE time 4-5 years ago. (I can’t remember exactly how long it’s been, but Eileen would know to the day as it was when she and her sweet hubby got engaged. She needs to tell her engagement story on here someday. It’s quite possibly the best ever.) But back to the baozi. In Shanghai, they were famous for very small baozi that were pan-fried on the bottom… and friends, I have CRAVED them since that visit.

But I don’t like labor-intensive kitchen projects, and they kind of intimidated me, so we never attempted to make them. Until now. Jacob started researching recipes a few weeks ago, and when he found this one, we knew we had to try it. It came from the LA Times, and it served as our launching point. I could never find the dough recipe on that site, so I tried this recipe for the dough.

Baozi Dough (Recipe here)
1 packet dry yeast (or 2 1/4 teaspoon)
3/4 cup warm water
2 tablespoons oil
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder

Add yeast to the warm water, then add oil, and set aside to proof. Combine flour, sugar and baking powder in a mixing bowl. When yeast is ready, add it to the dry ingredients and mix well. To be honest, I found the dough to be INCREDIBLY dry per this recipe, so I added more water. You want the final product to be about the texture of very pliable playdough… not sticky at all, but also not crumbly. I made mine in a stand mixer with the dough hook, and I added the water a teensy bit at a time while the mixer was on, and when the dough finally clumped together around the hook, I stopped adding water and then let the mixer run for about 5 more minutes to knead it. You should be able to pick the whole ball of dough up easily with very little sticking to the bowl and with none sticking to your hands. If it is crumbly, add more water. If it is sticky, add more flour. I’d definitely start with the amount of water they suggest, and add it about a Tablespoon at a time until you get the playdough texture. When complete, cover with a towel and let rise till double. (To be honest, ours sat for about 3-4 hours, and it was fine… though I think that was way too long.)

While that was rising, we made the filling. We did two types… a very traditional green onion filling and then one I made using my friend Grace Zhang’s (the Chinese director of NDFH) recipe for the Best Jiaozi Filling Ever. That’s the official name, of course. The recipes for both are below, but basically you just mix everything together in a bowl. We made a lot more filling than 10 ounces worth, but you can adjust the end amount and keep the same ratio. If possible make the filling at least 3 hours before you plan to prepare the baozi, as the longer it marinates, the better. (Overnight would be great!)

Green Onion + Pork Filling (recipe adapted from the LA Times)
10 ounces ground pork (preferably the 20 percent fat kind)
1/4 cup finely chopped green onions
1/4 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon salt (I’m certain we weren’t that precise. Don’t sweat it.)
1/8 teaspoon white pepper (we used black)
2 tablespoons of minced garlic (This isn’t in the original recipe, but we’ve never had Chinese food without garlic.)
1/2 teaspoon sugar 1 tablespoon regular soy sauce, plus additional (optional) for dipping
2 teaspoons Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry (We used the cooking Sherry)
2 teaspoons sesame oil 1 tablespoon water

Grace Zhang’s Best Jiaozi Filling Ever
Basically you follow the Times’ recipe except you leave out the green onion and add GENEROUS helpings of minced carrot, grated fresh ginger, and minced garlic. And when I say GENEROUS, I mean GENEROUS… I’d say the final product should be about ¼ carrot, ¼ ginger, ½ meat/other spices. (There’s another reason I’m not a food blogger. I’m not very precise.)

Once everything is ready, it’s time to make the baozi. This is what really intimidated me, but it wasn’t so bad! I just don’t like labor-intensive projects, and this is for sure that… I made about 30 baozi from one recipe of the dough. (However, I really rolled my dough too thin. They tasted good, but more authentic ones would have had thicker bread. I think you could probably get about 20 out of one batch of the dough and have a better proportioned baozi. Ahhhh… live and learn.)

If you want more details on how to assemble, visit either of the recipes I mentioned for good pictorial instructions and detailed written ones. But what I ended up doing was tearing off enough dough to roll a ball slightly smaller than a golf ball. Then I used a rolling pin to roll it out. Like I said, I made them too thin… If I were doing it again, I would probably aim for the thickness of a single wafer of an oreo cookie+cream. That would be about perfect.

I didn’t need to flour my surface. The dough isn’t sticky, remember, but I found that it would stick ever so slightly to the cutting board and actually make assembling them a bit easier for me. I’d pile the meat on them and peel the top and bottom edges of the circle off the cutting board and pull together and seal. Then I’d do the same for the left and right. (Note: I use top and bottom loosely… after all, you should have rolled it into as much of a circle as you could.) After that, I’d crimp the four edges and pull the very ends of it up towards the middle and add a little twist. A dab of water can help to seal it if you are having trouble. I wish I would have taken pictures for you. I’m sorry. You want to fill them with as much meat as they can hold, but not so much that they burst out. And don’t worry if they don’t look pretty. They’ll still taste great. Oh – and one tip… after they’ve finished, put them down on a tray seam side down to help keep everything together. That isn’t normally how you’d see it done in China, but then again, we aren’t the pros and our seams need all the help they can get.

It’s time to cook! We pretty much followed the instructions from the LA Times exactly for cooking.  Here they are for easy reference:
To pan-fry the buns, use a medium or large nonstick skillet. Heat the skillet(s) over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of canola oil for a medium skillet and 1 1/2 tablespoons for a large one. Add the buns 1 at a time, arranging them, pleated side up, a half-inch apart; they will expand during cooking. The buns will need to be cooked in batches. (In general, medium skillets will fit 8 or 9 buns; large skillets will fit 12 or 13 buns.) Fry the buns for 1 to 2 minutes, or until they are golden or light brown on the bottom. Use your fingers to gently lift them to check the color.
Holding the lid close to the skillet to lessen the spattering effect of water hitting hot oil, carefully add enough water to come up the side of the buns by one-fourth inch, about one-fourth cup. The water and oil will sputter a bit. Cover with a lid or aluminum foil, placing it very slightly ajar to allow steam to escape, so condensation doesn't fall on the buns and perhaps cause their collapse. Let the water bubble away until it is mostly gone, about 6 minutes.
When you hear sizzling noises (a sign that most of the water is gone), remove the lid. Let the dumplings fry, uncovered, for about 1 minute, until the bottoms are brown and crisp. At this point, you can serve the buns, crisp bottoms up, like pot stickers. Or you can use chopsticks to flip each bun over (separate any that are sticking together first) and then fry the other side for about 45 seconds, until golden.
We fry both sides… partially because the crispy bits are delicious, and partly because it gives that pork more time to cook! You don’t want to burn them, but a dark garden brown is wonderful. Serve hot and with a dipping sauce like those mentioned in the other recipes… or if you want something very traditional, mix Chinese black vinegar and soy sauce. It’s pretty wonderful! Enjoy! If you make these, tell us how they turn out.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Monday Montage: New Mommy Advice Needed

We have a new Mommy in our midst!!

If you've been following the blog, you will know that ST is going through a lot of change this year. Well let's rephrase, the ladies who work at ST (I say work, but really it's volunteer) are going through quite a bit of personal change. 


In addition to Carrie and Jacob adopting from China, our steadfast Blogger, Pinterest Curator, ST Affiliate, Virtual Volunteer - Lexi - has just become a first time mommy! I must say, her baby might be the most beautiful newborn I've ever seen. Don't you think she's gorgeous?


Take a moment to leave a comment to congratulate our Lexi and offer some new Mommy advice!!


Here's mine:


Sweet Lexi! We are so happy for you in you and Steve in your baby joy. I hope that you bask in the glory of motherhood. We thank the Lord for delivering a healthy and beautiful new soul into a loving mother's arms. You will be such a wonderful mother. I love that over the past few months you kept mentioning that you will have more time for Scarlet Threads when you go on maternity leave - but, I hope that you forget all about it.


Many Blessings!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Thrifty Thursday: Hearts of Wire

 It is almost Valentine's Day! I have mixed memories of the holiday from my school days. But I did enjoy without qualification celebrating friends and family and agape love.
 
Oh! It is Thrifty Thursday so we are offering our sets of rings (4) for $3 this week, regularly $5!
What better way to celebrate the love of family than gifts that help artisans provide for their families.
http://www.scarletthreads.org/shop.html/wired_art?product_id=76
Carrie and I quasi independently came up with the same idea for unique Valentine's Day cards and small affordable gifts. Our collection of Wired Art rings (sets of 4) will make perfect gifts for little girls and big girls this year. As do our hair ties (just 5 sets of 5 left). They are perfect attached to valentines - do you like my hand made cards?
 
http://www.scarletthreads.org/shop.html/wired_art?product_id=76
 
http://www.scarletthreads.org/shop.html/wired_art?product_id=76

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Tasty Tuesday: Valentine's Day Recipes

Since Valentine's Day is coming up, I thought it was time to revisit some of our best recipes for the occasion! My mother always made special treats for the family - heart shaped sugar cookies, heart shaped cakes (invariably mended with buttercream frosting), and certainly an icebox cake or several.

Remember, there are a couple of keys to a successful outcome with these recipes! First and foremost, a Scarlet Threads apron invariably improves the quality of cooking. And, second, the way to a man's heart (at least my man's) is through his stomach - so, cook from the heart!


In fact, icebox cake is a general family favorite. I've seen it served at all family occasions - especially birthdays - and most recently to celebrate my dear Aunt's final chemo treatment (see the picture below!!) So, naturally it is first on my list. I've prepared for the occasion and purchased the Famous brand chocolate wafers and the large container of heavy whipping cream.



2, 3, & 4. Red Velvet Cheesecake CupcakesRed Velvet Cheese BallRed Velvet Brownies

I don't know what makes a few drops of food coloring in a devils food cake so enticing! Perhaps it really is the cream cheese frosting paired with the decadent chocolate goodness. Regardless, this cheeseball is to die for.




I'm not sure if that Polar Vortex freaky thing is coming back, but it is best to be prepared. Print out our hot cocoa recipe and get ready to cozy up by the fire...


6, 7, & 8. Hannah's Favorites: SnickerdoodlesCinnamon Brown Sugar MuffinsOat Scones

Hannah - our China Operations Manager and resident Gourmet - has posted some fantastic recipes on this blog over the years. I love the way she improvises, substitutes, and innovates her way to deliciousness. And these 3 recipes are some of our readers' favorites. The Oat Scones are a personal favorite of mine!




Who can forget Tina from Mommy's Kitchen - one of our favorite food bloggers and one of our new affiliates! If you haven't visited her blog, don't wait a second longer. Visit and book mark. I know sugar cookies are generally a Christmas thing, but my mother always cut them out in shapes of hearts for Valentine's Day. And, as luck would have it, Mommy's Kitchen guest posted a fantastic recipe for Sugar Cookies on our blog. 




One of our all time most visited recipes is Caroline's Buttermilk Scones post. Seriously, like a million (okay, I'm exaggerating) people have visited this post. I'm sure it's because Caroline is wearing our Phoebe apron in the picture! Or, maybe it's the recipe. You'll just have to try it to find out!


Monday, February 3, 2014

Adoption Grant: The Jensen Family


 
Through the sale of items in our Scarlet Scraps line, we raise funds to distribute as grants to families adopting.  When it came time to disperse this past year's funds, we decided to reach out to families who had utilized our adoption fundraising program to see if they could use additional support.  I'd like to introduce you to one of those families... The Jensen family welcomed their sweet boy this year, and we are sending them (due to your generous support!) $400 to help with the remaining steps of their adoption as they work to finalize it. 
 
-----------
 
Our names are Bradley and Erika Jensen….formally a family of 2, now a family of 3!  We're adopting domestically (first adoption, first child) and welcomed Theodore Bradley Jensen into our hearts on September 24, 2013.  If you’re reading this, you might know someone adopting, or considering adopting, and wondering….well, how hard is it?  I can tell you, when we first set down the adoption road, we had NO IDEA what we were in for ;)  From the paperwork, home studies, profile book, finding an agency or consultant, fundraising and the emotional roller coaster that accompanies it.  
 
 
Through being open with friends and family, we found a HUGE support network from all areas of our lives, past and present.  It was truly a blessing from God to see the outpouring of adoption stories, and to rekindle friendships from old friends and new customers that had encouraging words about adoption for us.  Besides becoming transparent in all aspects of your life for the whole public to see, there was the financial hurdle…the elephant in the room.  *sigh*  
 
 
We read books and blogs about fundraising.  We started an adoption cookie jar at our store, did a garage sale, chocolate dinner with silent auction, trimmed the fat on household purchases, wrote letters and emails, became a part of a 501c3 adoption website for online donations.you name it, we were doing it.  During one of my million adoption story searches on the internet, I stumbled across Scarlet Threads and was blown away.  What an amazing company that had a heart and passion for people next door and around the world.  I saw they had an apron fundraiser and I thought, “No way, they’ll never accept us for fundraising.”

 
After sending an inquiry about our situation with infertility, the desire to adopt, and the fact we were BOTH self-employed, with no liquid funds at all due to a business investment, they said “Awesome. can’t wait to get you set up!”  And boom. First shipment of aprons came to my door.  
 
 
These aprons were beautifully and skillfully made (and being in the chocolate business, I see my fair share of aprons!).  I loved the brochures that came with them talking about the mission of ST and how them helping me was helping women across the ocean.  When friends and family also read about ST they immediately bought 1, 2 or 3 aprons for themselves or gifts and wanted a brochure to boot!  They loved the heart behind this company….and that love for others is what really sold these aprons.
 
I can not even remember how many aprons we sold….I’d have to say we raised over $300 easy.  It was one of the most fun, and stress-free fundraisers we did, and I was so grateful that ST was kind enough to lend out their company to help me fundraise for my son.

Thank you Scarlet Threads for helping people near and far, and for the love you spread with just a needle and thread ;)  
 
 
PS- I would note on that poster that yes, it says we are expecting a girl…and he WAS a girl…till 8:17 pm, when he came out….a BOY! ha!  God has a plan for everything ;)