Saturday, June 30, 2012

Grilled Fruit for Dessert

Last summer one of our favorite cookout treats was grilled peaches. Today we were grilling again and decided to try some different fruit combinations.

There's nothing complicated about this, and there really isn't even a recipe. We simply took pears, peaches, and apples, pitted/cored them, tucked some brown sugar, spices, and nuts into them, and wrapped them in foil. Pop these foil packages onto the grill and let the hot coals work their magic. The peaches took about 30 minutes to cook, while the pears and apples were closer to an hour, but of course this would depend on your grill. Check periodically to see if the sugar has caramelized and when the fruit is tender, it's ready to serve.

We chose brown sugar and nutmeg for the peaches (which are still our favorite). The apples got a filling of walnuts, brown sugar, oats, and cinnamon, while the pears were filled with sugared almonds and a dash of ginger. We served on shortcakes with whipped cream, but they would also be delicious with vanilla ice cream.

My husband always talks about grilling bananas in the peel with chocolate tucked inside (cut small slits in the peel to add the chocolate), and that sounds amazing, too. Have you ever grilled fruit? What's your favorite?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Friday, June 08, 2012

The Winner of the Gardeners Gift Set...

This is the part of the giveaway that everyone's always excited for, but it makes me kinda sad. After reading all of your lovely comments about gardening with family members, how much you love digging in the dirt (me too!!), and how much you could really use something like this for your gardener's hands, it's hard to choose just one winner!
But as promised, I randomly selected a number at midnight last night. Out of 134 entries—our most popular giveaway yet—the winner is #76. Congratulations to Gala, whose winning comment I've shared below. I hope you enjoy the gardening goodies from GCDSpa and Sarva Soap Co.!

I know it's disappointing not to win, and I want to thank you for participating by offering something special. Through June 10 (this coming Sunday) you will find our gardening gift sets are 15% off. And yes, you can also use your Facebook or mailing list discounts on top of this.

There are only a few of these gift sets available with the Sarva Gardener's Hand Soaps (see photo at right).

Looking specifically for Sarva Soap? You can find their gorgeous soaps and soap sets at their website. Patchouli soap, Lavender and Rosemary soap,  creamy-dreamy olive oil soap and even Beer soap...all beautiful and all natural. 

Thank you so much for participating and sharing your gardening stories in the comments! I hope you'll stick with us right here or on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or your other favorite spots to connect! Have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Planning a Puppy Shower

Anyone who has ever cared for a puppy knows that it's a lot like having a new baby. Think long nights, hours of crying (and trying to figure out what that crying means), lots and lots of clean-up. Just like new moms, "puppy moms" need pampering time, too!

I recently made a gift set for a new mom (and her puppy) and I got thinking: why don't we have Puppy Showers? When you're "expecting" the pitter-patter of four little feet, why wouldn't you want to celebrate? There are lots of things the new puppy parents need. Here's what you could include for gifts:

- food dish (use this instead of a basket or box for the base of your gift)
- puppy "potty" training gear
- balls and squeak toys
- treats for training (make sure they're okay for puppies)
- treats for "mom"...a little pedicure set would be perfect for a "time out"

Place the dish inside a clear bag, arrange your goodies inside, and tie with a bow (I recommend paw print ribbons). A special gift tag welcomes the new girl or boy.

Our tags have puppies with pacifiers--and so do our puppy shower invitations, stickers, and tote bags. (I even made T-shirts because I just like this little puppy!) If you're planning a puppy shower, or you just want to express your Puppy Love, you can see all of the puppy gifts and notes here!

Most of these gifts would be great for someone adopting an older dog from the shelter, too.

Here are some other doggy products that would make great gifts:

Pet wash and fur freshener from Dirty Dog Organics

Dog toys and accessories by Wags and Wiggles

Dog collars and leashes from MacKenzie Couture Accessories

Personalized stationery and accessories by Lydia & Pugs

 Have you ever been to a puppy shower? What types of gifts do you give to the "new mom" adopting a fur kid?

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

"Yes, and..."

'Tis the season for Commencement speeches. I shared Neil Gaiman's advice a few weeks ago, and when I ran across Jane Lynch's speech at Smith College, I knew I needed to share. This is all kinds of fabulous. Happy Wednesday.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Be Kind To Yourself

"I am so fat."

"I have no willpower."

"I must be dumb, everyone else can figure this out."

Do you ever say these things to yourself? Lots of people seem to. We look at other people or the messages shared by the media and we don't feel like we measure up. We beat ourselves up for not knowing enough, having enough, being enough.

I say, enough.

Just for today, stick up for yourself the way you would if someone said those things about your best friend. Today, be your own best friend. If the world feels full of people who are criticizing you, make a safe place inside yourself.

Just for today, don't put yourself down.

Just for today, think of something nice about yourself. And then something else.

Research shows that "all the benefits of having high self-esteem are equally found among the self-compassionate." So just for today, be kind to yourself.

“Both friend and enemy reside within us. One lives by the rule of compassion, the other by the rule of hard knocks. Though potential influence of either extreme is inevitable, our actions bear witness to the one we embrace.” ― T.F. Hodge

Friday, June 01, 2012

How To Make a Garden Tote

Last week we announced our Garden Gift Set Giveaway: our favorite gardening products along with seeds and gloves and more, all wrapped up in this garden tote. If you haven't entered yet, make sure to click on over and leave a comment before June 7.

If you'd like to make your own tote bag for a gift or maybe for your own garden tools or books, here's how I did it.

You'll need fabric in the following sizes and dimensions (I used remnants of heavy cotton in two different patterns, washed and pressed before cutting):

- 1 piece 16" x 28" (This is the bag)
- 1 piece 7" x 8" (This is the pocket. I made this in the second fabric pattern, but you can make it the same as the bag if you'd like. Cut two if you want a pocket on each side of the bag.)
- 4 pieces 2" x 18" (These are the straps; I cut two in one pattern of fabric and two in the other.)

You'll also need scissors, thread, measuring tape, and of course a sewing machine and iron!

Once you've cut out all the pieces, start by finishing the top edge of the bag. On each 16" edge, press down 1 inch (see photo left), then open and press down 1/4". Fold along first pressing, tucking  the 1/4" under, press, then stitch 5/8" from edge. Leave about 1 1/2" open on each end of the seam (this will allow you to finish the top edge over the side seams.)

Next you'll want to prepare the pocket. Press down 1/2" along each side. Press each corner toward the middle, as shown right in (a). Then fold in both sides as shown in (b) and press. The finished size of the pocket will be 6" wide by 7" long. Stitch along one of the 6" sides 1/8" from the edge to finish the top pocket edge. 

Pin the pocket to the bag, placing the finished pocket edge 2" down from the finished top of the bag and centering with approximately 5" to each side (see left). Stitch pocket to bag along sides and bottom 1/8" from the edge.

If you'd like a second pocket, repeat steps a and b above to prepare it, then pin and stitch as you did for the first pocket.

Now you can prepare the straps. Take two of the 2" by 18" pieces you cut earlier, one of each pattern. Pin along the long edge with right sides together, then stitch with a 3/8" seam allowance. Press seam open, then press under 3/8" along the outside edges (as shown below). Press corners toward the center to make triangles (as you did with the pockets), then fold under to make a clean corner. Fold in half lengthwise along the seam with wrong sides together and pin along outside edge. 

Pin strap to tote just above the pocket, lining up the outside edge of the straps with the edge of the pocket (see below). Stitch strap to tote 1/8" from strap edge, then continue all around both sides of the strap. Repeat with the second strap; if you have only one pocket, position the second strap with the ends 2" down from the top of the bag and 5" in from the side. Stitch as you did with the first strap. 

Next you can stitch the side seams. Fold the bag in half bringing the straps together and pin sides with right sides together. Stitch with 1/2" seam. Repeat on the other side.

Press side seam flat at the top (as shown on the top at left), then fold under 1/4" and tuck under (middle left) to finish the top edge (bottom). Press and stitch 5/8" from the edge to finish the top seams we made earlier.

Repeat for the other side.

Flatten the bag with handles together and press the bottom edge flat. Then turn the bag inside out to create the gussets, which will give your bag a flat bottom.

With the bag inside out, take one bottom corner and fold it toward the middle, lining up the seam with the center bottom of the bag (using the press line you just made as a guide). Pin the fold to create a triangle, then repeat with the other corner (see below).

Draw a line perpendicular to the side seam that is 4" long (see below). Stitch across this line, then repeat for the other side. Press toward the center bottom of the bag, then turn the bag right side out. Press one final time and you're finished! 

I chose not to add any embellishments to this bag, but you can add burlap flowers, buttons, or any other "extras" you'd like! Fill with gardening gloves, shovels, seed packets, some gardener's hand soap, and a gardener's hand care set and give to your favorite gardener! 

Who will you make this for?


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