Sunday, December 30, 2012

    This weekend the Wall Street Journal ran an article about hand cream, "Balms for Palms", and gave us the good excuse to finally write about our favorite hand potions.
    Some people may think that one moisturizer can rule them all, but seriously folks....then you might as well wash your hair with soap. Hands are hardworking! Especially if you are in a field where you use them heavily (and I'm not talking about typing all day!). If you're in a field where you are getting down and dirty (sculpture, the arts, construction, cleaning), or you're in one where you wash your hands several times a day (food service, medical) or you just live in a extreme climate; your hands suffer.
    So here are some of our favorites for keeping your hands nice and moisturized and chap free.

2 oz. for $12
   First Aid Beauty (FAB) is great for people with sensitive skin, psoriasis, eczema or just plain dry skin. This lotion is great to wear just before bed, it's extra thick and is pretty intense. All FAB products are free of paragons, harsh chemicals and colorants. They even have a board certified dermatologist and their ingredients are FDA approved.
   This hand cream really has no scent and since FAB is all about having a good product, you're not going to get any flowery packaging. Which also makes it great for men.

$12.60 gets you 4.9 oz
  Cake Beauty is definitely one of my favorites on smell alone.
All of their products transport you to a bakery and their Milk Made sugar scrub is no exception. Some people may tell you a salt scrub is the way to go for silky smooth hands. Unfortunately, if you have a paper cut or other wound, a salt scrub will let you know it. Sugar is much easier on your skin and this scrub leaves your hands feeling baby soft.
    Milk Made smells like unbaked cake batter and contains milk proteins, avocado and coconut milk. All Cake Beauty products are paraben free. Some of their products are vegan and gluten free.
    The only downside to Cake is that Sephora has stopped carrying them on their online store. Now you have to either travel to Canada or order through their website.
    Their Milk Made hand cream is a great also; with warm hints of vanilla and raspberries.

$15 for 2 oz. 
   Professional Make up artist Laura Mercier's collection branches out to bath and body. Her hand cream comes in a range of scents (vanilla, fig, creme brûlée), but our favorite is Creme de pistache. The body scrub is especially luxurious.
    You get a lot for your money with this hand cream, since just a dollop goes a long way. Soy proteins help keep your hands feeling soft  and the grape and olive oil help lock in moisture.
      The lotion has hints of hazelnut and whipped cream under a strong pistachio tone (and color-the lotion is a light mint green).
     The packaging is also simple and attractive and this fits nicely in your purse.

$18 for 3.5 oz

   If you prefer the really natural beauty routine, you can't get any better than Lush. Fresh and handmade daily, their products even come with a (very short) expiration date. Helping hands may look like nothing special, but hiding inside is a wonderfully moisturizing, non greasy lotion. With hints of chamomile and honey, this is  great lotion for any time of the day.
   The lotion has a slight scent, but nothing too girly or overpowering. Their Lemony Flutter and Margarita Salt are also wonderful to help your hands through the toughest winter.
   They now have store in most major upscale mall, so you don't have to worry about shipping from Canada.

$21 for 4.2oz

   Aveda's Hand Relief is another great hand cream. Thick and rich with a wonderful scent (all Aveda products have a great scent) this cream is great at night.
  One of the main ingredients is licorice, which is an anti irritant. You only need a small amount of this lotion, so don't  think that this is expensive, you can make this last.
   Aveda also has travel sized of all of their products, so you can try that out first to make up your mind and then keep it in your bag when you find out how wonderful this lotion is.

$18 for .6 fl oz

       You want to keep your cuticles nice and moisturized too!
The best product to help in in the fight against raggedy cuticles?
Butter's Holiday Handbag is a miracle cocktail of olive and almond oils. It even comes with a little brush so you can slather it on right before bed, top with some hand creme and by the time you wake up; soft, even cuticles.
   This is the one product on this list that is a must have. Raggedy cuticles are a bane and can lead to infection and just plain gross looking nails.
   Ulta cosmetics now carries Butter, so you can bypass ordering straight from London; though you can only get some products through their website (like the brilliant new shade of Emerald they have to celebrate the Pantone color of the year).

The important thing to remember is, as in all things, the $75 item may do nothing spectacular and the $5 drugstore find may be your best bet. If you can, try and get a free sample before committing to a whole bottle. Most store will do this for you.
   Here's wishing you happy hands for the new year!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Old Postcards and Creepy Santa's

      I love collecting old postcards, especially holiday ones. Vintage Christmas postcards have wonderful motifs and an overall cool quality to them. Except when it comes to the creepy Santa. Now, this isn't Krampus-those are super creepy and hard to find. Krampus was the anti-St. Nick. If you were a naughty child, Krampus would stuff you in his sack and carry you off to his lair.
    What I'm talking about are the postcards with Santa looking into your window and the Santa's with the toothy grin (this ends up looking evil, not cute).  Here are some examples.....(All images by Dover)

Here is the toothy grin-not quite warm and fuzzy, right?

Another creepy grin-is he writing down the naughty names?

Okay, this is not a Santa, but disturbing all the same. What
are we not going to let hang around?

Santa looking in the window-okay, so he sees you when you're sleeping and
all that...but we don't want it in the literal sense...

A very literal one- Santa is watching you through spy glasses!
Ah! Santa should just know if you are naughty or nice
without all the spying.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Sunday, December 2, 2012

A Look Back at Small Business Saturday

   Now that the first push of the Holiday crazies is over, it's time for a new round. Every year I tell myself that I'll make my own gifts, design and print my own cards, etc, etc...and every year December comes and I'm always way behind schedule.
    Luckily, I found some great vintage inspired cards to give out this year from Paper Source.

The set comes with cards, stamps, stickers and envelopes all in
a nice tin.

Just some of the cool flat cards you can send out.
  I also went down state and went to some local boutique/ antique stores. here's just some of the cool things I found.

I thought this guy was exceptionally cute.  I saw him
Main Street Estate Sales. 

A cute idea for any stray buttons you have hanging around.

This little guy and the stocking above were at
Rural American Crafts and Antiques.
If you every happen to find your way to Morris, I highly recommend stopping by Ruby Begonia's and checking out all the Three French Hens have to offer.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

   A belated Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Why is it that after the turkey is carved the whole year seems to compress on itself like some vicious black hole? You're going along just fine, giving out Halloween candy, celebrating the Harvest festivals and then BAM! Thanksgiving melts right into Christmas and then you're throwing confetti and then before you know it the  year is done and you're buying chocolate for Valentine's Day.
    It doesn't help much either when the retailers assault you with ads and Black Friday now begins on Thursday. Nothing gets you into the Holiday mode like gobs of people battling over another TV after they've spent the day shoving food in their face and arguing with the in-laws. Thanksgiving is a time to be grateful you have a roof over your head, heat and food on the table. That you're family made it through another year in good health. That you have a job. That you're home wasn't completely destroyed in Super Storm Sandy.
    I do not participate in Black Friday. Too many people, too crazy. I do participate in Small Business Saturday. I went to several small towns, shopped in boutiques and antiques. It was lovely. No crowds, no shoving. Everyone was friendly, everyone had a story to share. There was Christmas music and lights and every shop had cookies or something to snack on. One shop even had homemade wassail. I supported the local communities and made it home in time to watch some football. It was a much more relaxed experience than the mall and I know that all the gifts I bought are one-of-a-kind.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Turkeys, Twinkies and the True Nature of People

    In "Waiting for Godot" Samuel Beckett wrote that people are, "bloody ignorant apes". Satre wrote that, "Hell is other people". I say that, holiday shopping turns people into bloody stupid idiots and it makes me want to move to some far off dessert island.
   The holiday shopping season is almost upon us and I had to run out and pick up the turkey and some final trimmings today. One year I waited to long; its not pretty picking out your bird the closer you get to Thanksgiving Day. It was bad enough today. Memo to stores: If you say its fresh and I can knock on's not freakin' fresh.....A fresh bird should be nice and squishy, not be Exhibit A in a murder trial.
    Also, if you are any store and you hit a store display, sending vitamins rolling about the aisle...Maybe you should stop to pick them up. Say, "I'm sorry"...that kind of thing. You should NOT knock it down, laugh and keep walking. Person standing next to said display; you should maybe alert the sales clerk. You should NOT kick the bottle out of the way where you are standing. Store clerk; you should reprimand the person who knocked it over; you should NOT roll your eyes and ignore the 50 bottles of vitamins rolling down the aisle.
   When you are trying to escape from said store you have to face the parking lot. The lot where people decide because they are: older than you, younger than you, richer than you, poorer than you, a higher social ranking, etc that means they can drive the wrong way down lanes, almost rear end you and generally just drive like their head is up their ass....Yes, now I am in *such* the Holiday mood. It's a good thing I picked up a couple of bottles of wine.
     Another thing...why are people more concerned about the fate of the Twinkie than what is going on over in the Gaza Strip?! Unless it's due to the fact that Polysorbate 60 is an ingredient in Twinkies and rocket fuel. Which means that the run on Twinkies might have a darker side to it than just people wanted a sugar high.
   I thought that since the Election was over, people might get a bit nicer with Thanksgiving and Christmas coming. The fact that they can have a Thanksgiving and Christmas, unlike some of the people that got close and personal with "Superstorm Sandy".  Might as well stay away from the malls and people until....well....

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Pig Rocker

A sweet find at the antique fair today, if only I owned a bar to display this in....

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween!

Sometimes I go a little overboard in my Pumpkin Carving
Note: No pumpkins were harmed this year!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Easy Halloween Treat That Goes Squeak!

  "Back in the day" used to get homemade treats from your neighbors when you went Trick-or-Treating. Well, thank you crazy people for ruining that for the rest of us. Even prepackaged candy is supposed to be looked over by concerned parents. 
    If you are throwing a party, cute and creative treats are a must. If you are looking for something kid friendly (and adult friendly too) and you have 10 minuted to spare, I highly recommend making these easy and super cute chocolate mice.


Here are the three basic things you need. Marischino cherries with stems, slivers of almonds, and Hershey's kisses.

Drain and pat the cherries dry and unwrap the Hershey's kisses. Melt some of the kisses in the microwave or in a double broiler. The cherries are the bodies of our mice and the stem will be the tail.

Dip, dunk or otherwise just cover the cherry in the melted chocolate.

Try and position the tail so it curls
or is pointed up.

Next, take your almonds (the ears) and stick them onto the melted chocolate. Try and position them so the points are up.

You can add some personality depending on how
the ears are put on.

Next, take your unwrapped Hershey kiss and use the melted chocolate to "glue" the head on.


Now all that's left is the eyes. You can use sprinkles, red chocolate, or jimmies.

I used these and picked out the red ones.

"Glue" the eyes on with the melted chocolate. A toothpick helps with getting the chocolate on.

Eat your heart out "Halloween Wars"!

Pop the mice in the fridge so the chocolate hardens up. You can set them around a cheese plate, use them as a cucpcake topper, or serve them as is.

Halloween magic in no time!

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Incognito Pie

You remember Bobby Bear singing the Shel Silverstein poem "The Wonderful Soup Stone"?

"I swear you could taste the chicken and tomatoes
The noodles and the marrow bone,
But it really wasn't nothing but some water and potatoes
And the wonderful wonderful soup stone."

Well, I found the wonderful, wonderful Red Kuri Squash while I was at the craft fair. The fair was at a garden co-op and while I was trying to warm up inside the farm stand I was looking at all the goodies they had. 

Mis-named as "Red Kurl"

     I had never seen this kind of squash before, normally you see butternut, acorn, kabocha, spaghetti, etc...I was told that this squash is more of an heirloom that is grown in Meso America and that it tastes like had me at chestnuts. I love chestnuts and I'm happy that they are making a comeback in the American garden. If I could find a place to plant a tree in my backyard, I would. No Thanksgiving in my house is complete without chestnuts. Right before turkey day, I like to roast them in the oven. I put my chestnuts in my stuffing and the stuffing does NOT go in the bird! I always get twice as many chestnuts so I can eat them as I peel them.
     Back to the squash. I picked out a lovely squash and took it home. Then I ran into my problem...the problem of "Oh crap, I just bought this really cool thing and have no idea how to use it". Then I though, well, squash is squash....soup? Though I found this really great recipe at The Kitchn for a Kuri Pumpkin Coconut Soup, sadly I didn't have enough squash.
   So I thought how about a pie? If this squash is supposed to be in the pumpkin family and tastes like chestnuts......
   I first cut the squash and roasted it in the oven. The squash is *very* hard to cut. I ended up using a big sharp knife and banged another knife on it to hack my way through it. I scooped out the seeds and quartered each half. I drizzled melted butter over the squash (it was on a cookie sheet) and placed it in the oven for an hour at 400 degrees.
   When it was all nice and golden brown, I took the squash out and let it cool. Then I sliced the skin off and had my first taste. I tasted exactly like chestnuts! It was so weird....
    I then pureed the squash. You can use a food processor, blender, etc.....
    Wile the squash was cooking I was making my dough. I used Martha Stewart's recipe for tart dough because it sounded really good and when it's baked, it tastes like a sugar cookie.


6 tbspn salted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 egg yolks
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour

First beat the powdered sugar and the butter in an electric mixer (with the paddle attachment) until they are creamy. I chopped my butter up and added it slowly.

Add the egg yolks one at a time and mix them in.

Add 3/4 cup of flour and mix on low speed until combined. Then add the remaining 3/4 cup flour and mix until that is combined. Do NOT over mix!!!! Then you will have tough dough that will not want to be rolled out. The key is to mix the flour in until it is just incorporated into the rest of the mixture.

Turn the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap and shape it into a circle, flatten it, wrap the dough and put it in the refrigerator for 2 hours or overnight.

If you time things right, the dough can be chilling while the squash is cooking.....

On a lightly floured piece of parchment paper (or a silpat pad), roll out the dough so it will fit into a 9 inch pie pan. Trim the overhanging dough. I used my left over dough to make "cookies". I just cut up the strips of dough and popped them in the oven for a bit, they tasted like sugar cookies. Put the pie pan with the dough into the freezer for 15 minutes.
Pie crust ready to go in the oven

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Remove the pie pan from the freezer, place a piece of parchment paper over the dough and fill the pie with dried beans or pie weights. Bake until the edges are just beginning to turn golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove the parchment and pie weights/beans (the weights will be hot!) and return the crust to the oven and continue baking until light golden brown all over, about 15 to 20 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack. While the shell is cooling, you can make the filling!

I had enough dough to make a mini-tart as well.

Kuri Squash Pie Filling

I modified one of my favorite pumpkin pie recipes for this. 

8oz mascarpone cheese (this is what gives tiramisu it's creamy texture)
1 1/2 cup roasted kuri squash puree
1 egg
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tspn fresh ground cinnamon
1/8 tspn fresh ground nutmeg
2 tblspn all-purpose flour
1 tspn vanilla extract

Pre heat your oven to 350 degrees F.

In an electric mixer with the paddle attachment beat the mascarpone cheese until smooth, a minute or so, you'll be able to tell that it's loosening up a bit. Add the kuri squash puree, egg, brown sugar and the spices. Beat until they are incorporated. Then add the flour and the vanilla. Beat until everything is combined.

Pout the mixture into the crust. Place it in the oven for 45-60 minutes. The surface should have some cracks in it. If you are worried about your crust burning, you can add some tin foil around the edge to protect it. 

Remove the pie from the oven and let it sit for 15 minutes. The you can put it in the refrigerator for 4 hours or overnight. Garnish with some whipped cream and enjoy!

Cake needs a reason, pie, not so much. Yay Pie!

Now, you might want to substitute another squash for the red kuri, I say, okay, but at your own risk. 
  This pie has a super velvety texture and the flavor is outstanding. It's not too sweet and you can definitely taste the chestnut tones. I don't know what another squash, like butternut, would taste like in this. 
   If you can get your hands on some Red Kuri Squash, I highly recommend making this pie!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Rainy Day Craft Show

MinkCouture's first craft show!

Some of our Vintage Halloween items
DIY's to come!

Doesn't our Book Transformation make a great card holder?
And don't our Halloween cards look cute?

Some of our mini-fascinator hats

Halloween Postcard hanger

Upcycled Bottle cap and vintage neck tie jewelry

Hand Dyed Scarves

Our Adopt-a-Spider Program

Hand beaded vintage button bracelets
More hats!

It was a rainy day, but a fair turn out! If you didn't get a chance to buy your item, contact us and we'll let you know if its still for sale since we havent gotten around to putting everything up on Etsy!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

From the Shelves: The Snark Handbook

I love a good snark, who doesn't? That perfect punchline to the joke that someone is trying to make you into. Or, maybe just that thing that was missing from the presidential debate last week.
   "The Snark Handbook: A Reference Guide to Verbal Sparring" written by Lawrence Dorfman  defines snark as:

n1: biting wit 2a: a smart ass remark: slylying disparaging  comment 3:bastardization of "snide remark"

adj: Irascible, snappish

More known to the Brits, the epitome of American Snark, in my opinion, is Dorthy Parker. She of "guys don't make passes at girls who wear glasses" and "It's a small flat, I've barely enough room to lay my hat and a few friends". Snark is the smart comeback, but with that edge that borders on someone saying to you, "What a bitch!". Which you know you like, you snarky devil you!
  So, here for your viewing pleasure, some of my favorite passages for  you to use in your daily life.

Snarky Sex

I had a rose named after me and I was very flattered. But I was not pleased to read the description in the catalog: "No good in a bed, but fine against a wall"
   -Eleanor Roosevelt-    

Anything worth doing is worth doing slowly
    -Mae West-

If all the girls who attended the Yale prom were laid end to end, I wouldn't be a bit surprised.
  -Dorthy Parker-

Snarky Relationships

You cannot make someone love you. All you can do is stalk them and hope they panic, and then give in.

Every time I look at you, I get a fierce desire to be lonesome.
  -Oscar Levant-

Man: Your body is like a temple
Woman: Sorry, there are no services today.

Snarky Remarks About Children

Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city.
   -George Burns-

My husband and I are either going to buy a dog or have a child. We can't decide whether to ruin our carpet or ruin our lives.
  -Rita Rudner-

I can't believe that our of ten thousand sperm, you were the quickest.
  -Steven Pearl-

Being Snarky at Work

I have plenty of talent and vision. I just don't care.

I'll try being nicer if you'll try being smarter.

Sorry, I can't hear you over the sound of how awesome I am.

Some people see things that are ans ask "Why?". Some people dream of the things that never were and ask "Why not?". Some people have to go to work and don't have time for all that shit.
  -George Carlin-

Snarking About the Economy and Money

If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to.
  -Dorthy Parker-

A lawyer was reading out the will of a rich man to the people mentioned in the will:
 "To you, my loving wife Rose, who stood by me in rough times, as well as good, I leave you the house and $2 million"
  The lawyer continued, "To my daughter Jessica, who looked after me in sickness and kept the business going, I leave her the yacht, the business and $1 million."
  The lawyer concluded, "And to my cousin Dan, who hated me, argued with me and thought I would never mention him in my will: Well, you are wrong. Hi Dan!"

Snark and Politics, a Beautiful Combination

Suppose you were an idiot and suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.
   -Mark Twain-

What do I think of Western civilization? I think that it would be a very good idea.
   -Mahatma Gandhi-

Don't be humble. You're not that great.
  -Golda Meir-

 The snark continues through the book, covering death, music, movies and literature.
  Let's hope our candidates pick up a copy and bring the snark to the next debate. If not now, then when?!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

AppleFest 2012

Apples of all kinds!

Happy AppleFest to all. Though the fest was a little light on the apples due to the drought, it was still a fun time. Apple doughnuts, apple taffy, apple wine, apple salad, apple cider, apple martinis, apple apples......

Locally made Pumpkin Wine and apple doughnut

 The best was sitting outside in the crisp fall air, leaves falling, bands playing while I sipped my giant glass of pumpkin wine and ate some freshly baked apple doughnuts. The only bad thing was that the bees seemed to want some of my apple goodness too!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

And this little figgy stayed home....

Fall is in the air and there's nothing like cool weather to make you want to bake. Who wants to make cake in the summer in a hot kitchen when it's 100 outside? Really!
   This is always how my baking adventures start....At the store I find some yummy item and buy it, not know what to do with it. Then I have to hunt through all my cookbooks, or God find something to do with my food item. Luckily, I didn't have to work all that hard this time.
   Yup, I bought figs....again...I can't help it, they are so good and only come out for a short time. I also had just returned from the library where I picked up a copy of John Besh's "My New Orleans". After drooling over all the seafood I noticed a whole section on figs! Huzzah! What goes better with an LSU Tiger's game than a fig cake?

Cane Syrup Fig Cake

2 Cups sugar
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup milk
2 cups chopped fresh figs
Grated zest from a quarter of a lemon
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons Steen's Cane Syrup (or Golden Syrup)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons baking powder
4 egg whites
Cooking Spray

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Spray a Bundt cake pan with cooking spray.

Put the sugar and butter into a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on medium high speed until light and fluffy, about 7 minutes.

Adding the butter and sugar

Add the milk, figs, lemon zest, cinnamon, cane sugar a vanilla and beat on moderate speed until everything is mixed together.
Everything but the figs in my favorite measuring cup from
The Museum of Useful Things

Sift together the flour, salt and baking powder into a large mixing bowl. Use a rubber spatula to fold the flour mixture into the sugar and butter mixture. Fold in by making figure eight motions with the spatula. Just fold in until everything is mixed together. 

In a clean mixing bowl beat the egg whites with clean beaters. Clean, and you want to make sure you separate your eggs in a separate container and transfer them into the mixing bowl one at a time. Beat the eggs on medium high speed until stiff peaks form (5 minutes). 

Carefully fold in one-third of the egg white mixture at a time. Do not over mix-you need the whites to be fluffy and airy in this cake! 
Folding in the egg whites

Pour the batter into the pan and bake until the cake is golden brown, 35-40 minutes.
Cooling the cake on a rack.

The cake is delicious and freezes quite well. The sugar settles in the crust giving it a crisp crunch and the figs add a nice tartness to the cake. It's great as a mid morning snack or a simple after dinner dessert.