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Monday, November 26, 2012

Design Studio Update: Photo Studio for Quilts

Over a year ago I converted my guest room into a design studio or craft room for my sewing, scrapbooking, painting and other creative pursuits.  I updated it again to have more storage and now I've updated it again to help me take photographs of my handmade quilts.

I've been using thumb tacks, push pins and even safety pins to hang my handmade baby quilts so I can photograph them for our Etsy store.  This has left hundreds of holes in my wall and has caused my post production color issues as my wall is slightly pink.

I had been doing research on backdrop systems photographers use for photo shoots, homemade pvc alternatives, quilt hanging wood blocks, really everything I could think of.  On a visit to my favorite furniture store, Ikea, I found the perfect thing -- a curtain rod with curtain rings with clips! Great news, its not expensive or hard to install either ;)

I can move my storage containers around, quickly and easily clip up a quilt and take pictures.  When I'm not photographing quilts then I can put my storage containers back.  While I mostly only use a small portion of the curtain rods and clips for the majority of our baby blankets, I got a curtain rod long enough to support a a king size quilt to show off my larger master pieces.
With the white clips and rod I can more easily find true white when correcting the color of the pictures.  I also added colorful, inspirational fabric in black frames to help provide more color to help the graphics program make better 'automatic' adjustments.

Ikea Shopping List:
Racka curtain rod
Betydlig wall/ceiling bracket (I got 4 for the length of my curtain rod)
Vasentlig finial set
Syrlig curtain ring with clip and hooks (comes in 2 sizes, I got 4 packs)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012 Celebration

As always, Thanksgiving was a special family gathering for us this year. It was just our immediate family and grand parents.  We spent a lot of time talking, munching on olives, catching up on each other's lives -- new jobs, home projects, ideas about the world.  Jeanine, my mom and the 'traditional' partner of Creative Tradition, spent most of the morning in the kitchen prepping and cooking.

Thanksgiving is really her favorite holiday.  She shows her family love through cooking and on Thanksgiving she really gets to shower us with food and love.  She had the large bird in its bag, in its pan and in the oven before most of us arrived. The table was also dressed and ready with scraps of paper telling everyone what food went into what serving dish.

While waiting for the turkey to cook we had an opportunity to Skype with our far away family.  We got to watch my younger nephews playing, dancing, nearly walking, doing somersaults, having fun.  Its nice to be able to connect with family across the miles. It may not be the same as having them in the same room with you but seeing smiles and hearing voices is a wonderful thing.

As the time got closer to the meal everyone stepped up and helped in the kitchen stirring gravy, mashing potatoes, carving the turkey or really what ever mom asked of us. It made the kitchen a little tight to maneuver at times, especially with heavy, hot dishes but the feeling of family was palpable. My sister and I acted like the children we are in our hearts and stole little bits of food while mom chased after us with a wooden spoon. Despite the drama, hot plates, and MANY cooks in the kitchen the table got set, food was served and the family began the meal.

Table set with side dishes, waiting for the carved turkey.

A perfect Thanksgiving plate!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Crockpot Creamed Corn

One of the Bass Thanksgiving traditional foods is Jeanine's creamed corn. It's rich, creamy with bright bursts of sweetness when you bite into the corn.  This year my in-laws weren't able to join us for Thanksgiving and they requested this recipe to make and bring to their potluck Thanksgivings with their friends.  It's great for fall or winter potlucks as you can make it in a crock pot and keep it warm all night long.

Gulliver's Creamed Corn

2 boxes (8 oz) frozen corn
1 c milk
1 c whipping cream
2 T butter
2 T flour
2 T sugar

On the stove pot:
In a large pot, melt butter.
Stir in flour till well mixed with butter.
Add rest of ingredients.  Cook until thickened.
In a crock pot:
"I use the crock pot to give me more room on the stove and you don’t have to watch it as closely so it doesn’t burn. I put mine in in the morning on high and then once it’s thickened, I turn it to low until it’s time to serve." - Jeanine

At meal time, creamed corn is served in vintage colored, textured glass dishes my mother inherited from her Aunt Mary.  They are green, orange, brown and red... perfect for our Thanksgiving table.

Mom loves her cream corn unseasoned. She says its so everyone can season it to their taste but really I just think she prefers the sweet cream taste.  I usually season it with sea salt, ground pepper and would serve it with some chopped parsley to brighten the flavor.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Tart Cherry Pie

Cherries are one of my favorite fruits and cherry pie is one of my favorite Thanksgiving pies.  Growing up when mom would make extra pies to feed everyone it always seemed there was never enough cherry pie!

2 cans red tart cherries in water
1 1/2 c sugar
5 tbsp corn starch
pie shell and top crust

Drain cherries, saving the juice.  Mix sugar and cornstarch together so there are no lumps.  Pour mixture into juice in a saucepan and cook, stirring constantly until the sauce is thick and clear.  Cool for about 5 minutes then add the cherries and stir.  Pour into a pie shell and top with the crust.  Put a whole in the center of the top crust to let the steam escape.  Bake at 425 for 40 minutes or until the crust is done.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Traditional Granny Smith Apple Pie

It's not Thanksgiving with out mom's traditional apple pie! Mom prides her self on stuffing her pies with more fruit than the usual bakery restaurant bought pies so you can always tell her apple pies based on the big domed top crust.

8 to 10 granny smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
pie shell and top crust

Put a little water in the bowl with the apples and sprinkle a little sugar and some cinnamon over the top.  Mix well.  Put into the pie shell and put the top crust on.  Crinch the sides closed using your thumb and first two fingers or a fork. Put a small hole in the middle of the top to let the steam escape.  Bake at 350 about 50 minutes or until the pie crust looks done -- slightly golden and flaky dry.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Thanksgiving Pecan Pie

I absolutely love Pecan Pie for Thanksgiving!  My husband is allergic to walnuts and pecans so I don't ever cook with them any more. So Thanksgiving is one of the few times a year I can indulge in my love of these nuts as my mom, Jeanine, the 'traditional' partner of Creative Tradition, usually bakes them. She uses the recipe on the back of the Karon corn syrup and uses Grammy's Pie Crust though it would still taste yummy if you used a store-bought graham cracker crust.

We usually half slices of pecan pie as it is very rich. And well, it's Thanksgiving!  If you take half slices of pie you can taste every pie and not feel guilty for eating 4 full pieces!

Karo Pecan Pie

1 c Karo corn syrup
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1 c sugar
2 tbsp margarine or butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 c pecans
1 unbaked pie shell

Stir together the first 5 ingredients, then add the pecans.
Pour all into the pie shell and bake at 350 for 50 – 55 minutes.
Serve with whipped cream.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Real Pumpkin Pie

A family favorite at Thanksgiving is mom's famous pumpkin pie. We never were allowed to carve pumpkins for Halloween.  We could pick out our own pumpkins and put them on display at the front door. But after Halloween, before they rotted, mom would cut up the pumpkins, roast seeds, and boil the pumpkin flesh in preparation for Thanksgiving pumpkin pies.

I've had bakery restaurant pumpkin pie before and it was good, but the pie filling was so mushy.  Using real pumpkins and not canned gives a better texture and very fresh taste.  It is more work but definitely worth it!

2 c pumpkin
3/4 c sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 c whipping cream
1/2 c milk
1 unbaked pie shell

Combine pumpkin, sugar, and spices.  Blend in eggs, cream, and milk.  Stir until well blended.  Pour into pie shell and bake at 400 for 40 to 45 minutes or until a knife in the center comes out clean.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Best Roasted Chicken I've Ever Tasted

On a recent trip to Pier1 I found a roasting pan on clearance for just $25. I had only cooked a full bird once before. When I was 16 my mom had me cook our family's Thanksgiving dinner. It was a lot of fun but whole poultry just seemed a bit too daunting with out my mom in the kitchen to answer my questions.   I thought it was time to give it a try on my own, get some good use out of my new  roasting pan, and hopefully find another healthy meal to enjoy on a regular basis.

I did a quick search online and discovered Eating Well's Simple Roast Chicken Recipe. It didn't have too many ingredients, simple cooking instructions, and even had calorie information. I followed the recipe exactly instead of my usual glance and do whatever I want type of cooking. I'm glad I did. Even though  I was hesitant about using tarragon in the stuffing (I don't like the smell of it) everything turned out delicious! 

Nothing is so satisfying as a perfectly golden brown meat.

I served the roasted chicken, minus the onion herb stuffing, with roasted vegetables and a box of Stove Top Chicken Stuffing. I cooked on the rack above the chicken for the last 30 minutes. Just drizzle with olive oil and throw some extra tarragon and thyme with some carrots, pearl onions and mushroom caps.

Perfect side dish: oven roasted vegetables with thyme.
Want to try it for yourself? Visit Eating Well's Simple Roast Chicken Recipe.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Design Studio Update

Unused craft space from June 2011
Over a year ago I shared how you can build out your craft room or design studio for under $1,000 at Ikea.  I've loved using my ultra-functional and totally-beautiful work space but found the random extra pieces of furniture to be a bit combersome when breaking down the room for guests.  Each time we have visitors a bookcase, dress form and quite a few totes have to be moved next door into our office.

I decided to get some white Ikea Billy bookcases to utilize unused vertical space against the window. Not only do the white Billy bookcases look great with the rest of the room they are cheaper than the other color options. I only spent about $155 only spent on the 5 new bookcases! (That's a pretty great selling point if you got to convince your husband to let you update your craft room -- Ikea is much cheaper than Craft-specific furniture out there.)  I also invested in more black Kassett boxes to organize everything in.  This set up has 2 great advantages for serious sewers... the thin bookcases are great for holding bolts of fabric and the Kassett hanging file box is just wide enough to hold patterns. I also love the adjustable shelves so I can configure perfect spaces for boxes or organize and show off colorful supplies like fat quarters and skeins of yarn.

Update with Ikea Billy bookcases and more labeled boxes

Updated Design Studio.  It only looks this clean after Guests leave ;)

Once its time for guests to visit transforming this Design Studio is very simple.  The sewing machine fits tucked away in the desk alcove. The main work space is a gate table which breaks down to a very low profile and serves as a night stand for guests.  We carefully vacuum the floor several times to ensure all stray pins have been found before filling up a high queen inflatable bed.  Its not as nice as a real bed, but with some egg shell padding its pretty comfortable. Not too comfortable... you don't want guests to stay too long and keep you away from your current crafting projects ;)

Craft Room transformed into Guest Room

Want this craft room or design studio for your self?  Visit my first post about how to create a craft room or design studio for under $1,000 at Ikea.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Pink & Chocolate Baby Girl Jungle Animals Nursery

A friend recently had her second child, a cute little baby girl, and decorated her nursery in pink and chocolate brown with jungle animals.  She found some cute mass-produced nursery decor sets but it wasn't perfect -- too wild and way too much green for her taste. We got together, used the inspiration of her wall decal and designed a twin quilt, curtain valance, and crib skirt to furnish her baby's room. With an older son, my friend realized a traditional crib quilt would only last her baby for 6 months to a year, so instead she wanted a handmade twin quilt that could be grown into and used for years.

Lions, Elephants & Owls, Oh My!

The twin quilt features 5 large windows each with their own animal framed with random fabrics in magenta, floral, white eyelet, brown polka dots and pink diamond plaid and accented with magenta rick rack. Each animal is appliqued, hand embroidered and has sensory items like floppy ears or tails. The blanket is backed with an amazingly soft brown with pink polka dotted minky fleece.  Along with the quilt I made an adorable little stuffed giraffe with pink rick rack hair and cute brown rick rack horns.

Baby Mia playing with her handmade giraffe on her new quilt.

Initial design sketch of the twin quilt.

Quilt detail of Hippo with its floppy teeth and cord tail.

Brown monkey with felt flowers and embroidered tree.

Pink owl with fuzzy tummy and hand embroidered branch.

View our Pink & Chocolate Baby Girl Jungle Animals Nursery Pinterest board for more ideas how to recreate this nursery on your own.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Our Debut at Yorba Linda Farmers Market

Creative Tradition had its first day at the Yorba Linda Farmers Market.  We set up our mobile boutique and had a blast meeting all the local vendors. I ended up coming home with amazing food including tamales, danish cookies, chocolate covered strawberries and of course kettle popcorn (my husband's fav and frequent bribe for him helping us).

Visit our Events Calendar to see when we'll be at the Yorba Linda Farmers Market or other venue near you next.

This will actually be the last time our storefront will look like this!  We've upgraded our display racks to rotating garment racks. They show off our product wonderfully and will help shoppers browse more of our product faster.  We set them up as part of a dry run and they look so cool I can't take them down. ;)  Here is a little sneak peak.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

A Valentine's Day Salad full of Heart

This Valentine's day my husband and I had our traditional home cooked meal of Chicken Parmesan.  It's his favorite meal but I don't make it too often. I still haven't found a recipe that I like enough to keep in our standard rotation of meals.

I did a bit of research to see what new recipe I could try this year and I found the Hungry Happenings blog.  Beth has some great recipes but I especially like how she creates themed meals. She won me over with her heart shaped Chicken Parmesan recipe but her Salad with Tomato Hearts completely made the meal!  You can see how our Valentine's Salad inspired by Hungry Happenings turned out this year.  The instructions how to create the hearts are so simple I might be adding grape tomato hearts to all of our salads through out the year.

The best part was the look on my husband's face when he saw the tomato hearts.  It was the icing on the cake... or the tomato heart on the salad ;)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Seasonal Decorating: Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day isn't a very big holiday for my husband and I. We skip out on all the busy commercial stuff like restaurants, chocolates, and flowers. Usually we stay in, cook a dinner together and then snuggle on the couch while we watch a DVD. But that doesn't stop me from decorating the house! I started the Valentine's decorations last year with some wooden words and wreathes and kept the pillow cases very basic. This year JoAnn's had a gorgeous Antique Valentines fabric that fit perfectly with my style and the decorations we had already. I ended up loving the fabric so much I designed a Valentine's Quilt that I'm going to try to complete this month.

I've also made matching his and hers aprons with the remaining fabric for us to wear as we cook our annual Valentine's Day dinner together. Mine is a skirted apron in the Antique Valentines fabric and my husband has a BBQ apron in the coordinating plaid.

The couch covered with Valentines Pillow Cases.

Our LOVE jars filled with silk roses.

The original LOVE wooden words decorate the mantle.

Even the bathroom was decorated with a tissue box cover.

The table decorated with reversible placemats. I love the coordinating plaid.

This is the end of the Seasonal Decorating series.  In 2012 we plan to blog about all of the quilts we have made in the past or projects we are currently working on.  The first of which should be the Valentine's Quilt with the Antique Valentines fabric and coordinating plaid.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Garlic Mushroom Couscous Recipe

Continuing on with our healthier traditions in 2012 I'm experimenting with new recipes and products.  This is the second time I cooked couscous, the first being a winter salad for our annual Christmas party.  The salad didn't make much of an impression on my guests but I had left over dry couscous and wanted something healthier then mashed potatoes (my personal weakness) so I tried a savory couscous last night. It turned out very nice with sauteed chicken breast, white wine gravy and roasted fancy carrots.

Garlic Mushroom Couscous
Makes about 2 cups.

1 Tbl. butter or olive oil
1 Tbl. minced garlic
2 medium shallots
1/4 cup chives
1/2 to 1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 cup chicken broth, reduced sodium
1 cup couscous

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Healthier Traditions in 2012

New Year's has never been a big deal to me so it didn't seem that important of a date to change my life over by making shallow resolutions. My birthday, especially big ones, are great days to make goals for myself. However, now that I'm married and we have combined goals it makes more sense to set goals at the beginning of the year. This is the first year we've decided to set goals. Last year, our first year of marriage, was spent celebrating, redecorating, and generally getting used to each other's schedules.  Now its time to get our married life organized.

Our first goal is to live a healthier lifestyle with more activity and more home cooked meals.  We're starting breakfast with some great products I've discovered recently.  Both my husband and I don't really eat breakfast during the week, something I've learned isn't that healthy as you should be eating more than 200 calories for breakfast.  My husband's solution was LeanPockets but I've convinced him to have fruit smoothie and english muffin. 

We discovered Orrowheat's Double Fiber English Muffins  while visiting my in-laws.  They are filling, give us the extra fiber, and taste a bit sweet because of the wheat just at 120 calories per muffin. A spray or two of I Can't Believe It's Not Butter! Spray give it a perfect hint of butter with just 1 calorie per spray.

Cuisinart Compact Blender
A post-Christmas shopping trip to Bed Bath & Beyond led me to the Cuisinart SmartPower Compact Blender with 4 16oz travel cups and lids, chopper, and blender bowl.  At $70, it's more expensive then other compact blenders on the market (like $20 ones at Target) but it has larger travel cups, more of them, and a trusted brand name.  If you get it at Bed Bath & Beyond you can use a 20% off coupon and there is a $20 mail-in rebate making it about $40!

The blender is perfectly matched with Jamba Juice Smoothie Kits I found at Ralphs.  For a 16oz smoothie at 120 calories, add 1 smoothie kit bag of frozen fruit and a cup of juice or milk in a travel cup and blend.  It's that simple!   If I can't finish the smoothie that morning, I save the travel cup in the fridge then add more frozen fruit to thicken it up the next morning.  I also got a few Yoplait Smoothie mixes but I haven't tried them yet.  Next thing I'm going to look for are smoothie boosts like Jamba Juice has in their shops to add protein to the morning smoothie mix.

All together that makes about 245 calories for a healthy breakfast of fruit and fiber!