Thursday, December 26, 2013

One does not just make Springerles Cookies....

   About a year ago I cut out an article from the Wall Street Journal about Springerle cookies. Molded holiday cookies that looked like little pieces or artwork and that were supposed to taste like a cousin to the biscotti. Also listed was a recipe for a Molded Gingerbread Cookie from the bakery "Tartine"
   The recipe contains black pepper, cayenne and copies amounts of dried ginger. I *hate* when store bought gingerbread cookies contain no ginger....aren't they just plain old cookies then?
Heart Mold
 These cookies are a bit daunting by are well worth the effort and can be stored for 2 weeks...not that they will last that long. You can just make cut out cookies with this recipe, but if you can find any wooden molds at an antique store, pick some out. I am always on the look out and plan on grabbing some more. I just have a leaf and a roller mold that leaves a pineapple pattern.
   The cookies do not need to bake long. You'll think, 8 minutes, thats not enough-but it is. You want a cookie that comes out more like a ginger bread with a nice cake texture that leaves a small bite of pepper in the after taste.

Here is the recipe if you are hang trouble with the link.

Molded Gingerbread Cookies
Hands-down the best gingerbread I've ever had, ( I most certainly agree) this recipe is adapted from one in the "Tartine" cookbook and amplified by cocoa, allspice and red chili.
ACTIVE TIME: 1-1¼ hours
MAKES: 2-4 dozen cookies
"Pineapple" cookie roller
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup dark molasses
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons agave syrup
3¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
Scant pinch red chili powder
4 teaspoons ground ginger
1½ teaspoons allspice
3½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon baking powder
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
1. Using an electric mixer, cream butter until light and fluffy. Add sugar and continue mixing until pale and creamy. Add egg and mix until incorporated. Stir in molasses, honey and agave syrup. Scrape down sides of bowl and mix until well combined.
2. In another large bowl, stir together flour, cocoa powder, chili powder, ginger, allspice, cinnamon, salt, pepper and baking powder. Working in batches, sprinkle flour mixture into butter mixture, stirring gently until a firm dough forms and starts to pull away from sides of bowl.
3. Flour your hands and pull the dough from the bowl, knead once or twice into a ball (if it's so sticky it glues to your fingers, sprinkle in a teaspoon or so of flour and knead again). Place round on a large piece of plastic wrap, flatten gently with palm of hand and wrap tightly. Refrigerate dough at least 3 hours.
4. Generously dust a large, clean work space with flour. Divide chilled dough into four sections and, working one section at a time, roll out to 1/2-inch thickness. (Lightly flour rolling pin if dough sticks.)
5. Using pastry brush, lightly dust cookie mold with confectioners' sugar. Place mold on top of dough and press firmly and evenly to imprint. (Don't wiggle or image will blur). Repeat, dusting mold with additional sugar as needed, until entire section of dough is imprinted.
6. Using a sharp knife or cookie cutter, trim around edges of printed designs and gently transfer cookies to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat rolling, printing and trimming process with remaining dough. Then set baking sheets aside, uncovered, and allow cookies to dry (or "cure") at least 3 hours.
7. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place baking sheet in center of oven and bake until cookies are slightly springy at center and faintly browned at edges, 8-15 minutes depending on size and thickness of molds used. Transfer to wire rack to cool. Once cookies have cooled, brush with a confectioners' sugar glaze, if desired. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

I think I made about 3 dozen cookies, but I did have one rather large stamp cookie. The best way to make these is to make the dough one day and let it sit in the fridge overnight. Generously flour your work surface and for really good cookies, make sure your mold is cold too! I stuck mine in the freezer for a couple of minutes, powdered it and powdered my dough with powdered sugar before smashing my mold on it. Also, make sure your dough is thick enough to be able to get into the mold!
  By the time I had all my dough cut out and cleaned up the kitchen it was time to bake my cookies. Molded the cookies takes time and some smashing of the dough, but it was all worth it in the end. The cookies taste fine (even without icing them) and they are a showstopper!
Hear Molded Cookie before edges are cut

Pineapple Roller cut into sections

Snowman Handstamp Cookie

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas to All...

Christmas comes but once a year, I hope everyone can take the day to be with friends and family. 
Merry Christmas!!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Fold

    I finally made it to The Fold! For a minute I thought my GPS was trying to get me lost when it told me to turn down a small, winding country road. Fear not, it is small and winding but it leads you to a small blue house that holds all the wonders of yarn that you could want.
   Not only that, but it holds a very knowledgable staff and a large German Shepard. I brought my shopping list and bought more that enough things to fill out my Christmas list, plus a bit of fun stuff for myself as well.
   Every type of yarn and animal can be found from merino to mohair, wool to yak, and even a rather expensive ($98 a skein) small skein of vicuna. I waked around stroking all the various yarns and my imagination ran wild with what I could do.
   The Fold just doesn't carry yarn. Knitting needles and crochet hooks of every size and material lined a side wall. Buckets were filled to the brim with hand carved drop spindles. Spinning wheels of all sizes stood by the entrance and in the back corner reeds of all sizes for weaving could be found.
   Bags of rainbow roving lined a wall that was near a happily burning fire place (not too close to the fire though). There was an entire wall dedicated to sock weight yarn from Blue Moon. There was even yarn that had sterling silver spun into it!
A lusciously soft kid mohair by Rowan knits. This whole series is named after Zodiac
signs. Had I known that when I purchased this, I would have sought out Capricorn!

A Merino super wash that I will use to knit something inspired by "Literary Knits" Tale of Two Cities Cowl. This
cowl has Morse Code messages hidden it it! How fun!

100% Merino Roving. I am going to needle felt this into a hat. I bought one of those multi point
star needle holders to make the process go by faster. 

A yarn by Fiesta that is 50% alpaca and 50% tencel. Never worked with Tencel before...

All and all, a great trip. Isn't it funny how time has no meaning in a yarn store until you realize those 5 minutes of picking out yarn were actually 1.5 hours???

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Thanksgiving and the German Market

   Did anyone else watching the parade notice that as the Broadway performances went on the actor's wore less and less clothing? By the time the Pippin cast came on all I could think was the guy balancing on the metal disk must have been really *Really* cold in his devil horns and strong man underwear.  It was bad enough watching the cast of Kinky Boots shiver as they strutted around the stage.

   I made the traditional place holder "Turkey Apples". Just take an apple and stick 4 toothpicks in the bottom for legs.  Add a toothpick neck and stick an olive on it. You can pull the pimento out for the gobbler and stick 2 cloves in for eyes. Take toothpicks and spice drops to make the feathers and you have a tasty turkey decoration!

The day after Thanksgiving I ditch the malls and shop at antique stores. Normally I go downstate to Morris, but this year I decided to go to a German Market up in Oconomowoc. Not as big as Chicago, but not as crowded and you don't have to pay $40 to park and then not be able to see any of the booths. 
  As soon as I saw the stall with the hand blown ornaments I knew I was a goner. I should have bought more of these mushrooms. A tree covered in these would be the height of holiday whimsy. Maybe next year? 

I also went to a lovely antique store just down the street from the market. They had lots of vintage Christmas items: Shiny Brites, Gurley candles, tree reflectors, mercury glass baubles and the world's scariest Santa costume....

I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving with friends and family and keep warm in the coming winter months! 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. May you be able to spend the day with your loved ones and take a moment to be thankful for your health and happiness.
   This print is from a Harper's Bazaar and while it may be bit more Christmasy, I feel that with the turkey and pumpkins it still works for Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Silk App Review

  If you are a V.I.B. for Sephora, you can get this app for free, which is how I ended up downloading it. If you aren't, than this app will cost you $2.99, but it is worth it. This is the coolest doodling app that I have found. You can download it at the app store here.  
  You can choose a single color or mix two and make generative art work with the swipe of a finger.
  Here is just a sample of what you can create. Hint: You can also save your work and upload it. No Master's Degree required to be an art god. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

New Holiday Earrings on Etsy

Hear ye, Hear ye.....New holiday cross stitch earrings now for sale on Etsy! Hand made and you can customize them with a post back or clip on. 

Holly Earrings with Red Seed Bead Berries

Red Poinsettia Earrings

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Vintage Christmas Finds

    Last weekend I went to the fairgrounds for their antique show, in hopes of finding some mercury glass and bottle brush trees. No luck on the mercury glass beads but I did find some very cute bottle brush trees in white (never saw them in white before) and a tiny paper house from Japan.  I also found an unusual mushroom made from wood and seashells.

A miniature house in the woods, if I find more I can turn my mantel into a village. I used a battery operated flicker
light to make the windows glow.

The house id covered in glitter, but due to age, you really can't see it.

My sea shell mushrooms

The bottle brush tree is decorated with pipe cleaners and beads.

I did find a tutorial on how to make your own bottle brush trees and I am eager to start my own rainbow forest. You can find the tutorial at the blog Just Something I made.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The coupons are coming!

Mark your calendars, I will be offering 3 separate coupons for the Holiday season good at my Etsy store.

On Black Friday (Nov. 29) enter code BLACKMINK and receive 20% off your purchase of $10 or more.
On Small Business Saturday (Nov 30) enter SMALLSATURDAY and receive a Thank you coupon good for $5 off your next purchase of $20.
On Cyber Monday (Dec 2) enter MINKMONDAY and get free shipping (US only) on order over $50.

One coupon code per day and only for the day they are offered on! Get your shopping done early and support an independent local business-----me!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Trinity Lutheran Craft Show Post Mortem

  Another craft show....well, I made up my table fees plus $5. I guess that is a success. Especially if you account that I sold mainly $2-$3 items.
   I never get what people are going to buy, I guess if I did I would be a millionaire marketing genius and would be living in a fabulous New York City apartment.
    Last show I sold triangle treat boxes, decorative paper origami shoes, Halloween Bingo cards, hats, and crepe paper cats. Everyone wanted more black cat items and "Fall" items. So I quick whipped up some more cat pins, Fall/ Thanksgiving items and more witch shoes since I sold out. Did people buy them? NO!
    My Halloween tree of chenille stem owls and pumpkin people was nearly stripped bare by the end of the day. That's..all...I...sold......oh, and a Christmas ornament.....A lady wanted to buy a pumpkin floral arrangement, but her husband told her the flowers would just die and that something long lasting would make a better hostess gift. She apologized. But, still....stupid husband. If your wife wants some flowers, let her buy them!!!
    I just need an upscale Holiday market to show in.....Or I need more people visiting my shop and buying stuff......

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Vintage Dance Card Postcards

These aren't those cool dance cards from "The Major and the Minor", these are cool dance cards that teach you how to dance. Picked these dandy postcards up a while back.....Not that you'll be at the level of Dancing with the Stars, but at least you'll have some moves to try out at your next party!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Lake County Fairgrounds, October 2013

    Another trip to the fairgrounds this weekend. It was supposed to be vintage fashion but that seemed to be sadly lacking. There were many different kinds and colors of fur coats, so if you wanted to go as a hooker, I suppose you could find that baby blue cropped rabbit fur coat to complete your ensemble.
   But there were a few surprises. I finally managed to snag a decent antique Ouija board to use in my displays when I show my crafty Halloween goodness. The garden truck parked outside the fair grounds had a plethora of squash, one of which I bought. Its called the ghost squash and looks like those little bugger in the Pac-man game.
Ghost squash. Mine is an octo-ghost squash. To draw eyes or not to draw eyes........

Then , there was this guy. The woman who ran the booth said "Ken had to take one for the team", I wonder if the Headless HorseKen will ever appear on "Sleepy Hallow"???

October Craft Show, Take Two

Next weekend I will be showing at another craft show! It is an antique fair and holiday craft show, so please stop on by!
  My booth will be the one with the Halloween tablecloth.

Sat Oct 19
9AM - 3PM

Trinity Evangelical  Lutheran Church
25519 W IL Rt 134
Ingleside, IL 60041

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Banned Books Week

So, I know I am a week off on this, but I was cleaning up this past weekend and found the perfect quote for Banned Books Week....

" I think we ought to read only the kind of books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside of us."

                                           -Frank Kafka-

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Another Craft Show....

Well, another craft show under my belt. Good things: it was indoors, I brought food, I sold more than one item. Bad things: people wanted Fall items, not a lot of people came through, people said it was too early for Halloween.
   Too early?! Its freakin' October, the frost is on the pumpkins so why not decorate for it?
I thought most people had a Halloween tree....guess I was wrong. The good news is that I get to keep my flock of owls and Tilly, she's hiding above the cat!

I did have the best damn display there! And I was right near the bathroom-plus! Don't you just love my tablecloth?! 

This was a new item, it's not up on the Etsy site yet. I wanted something a little more elegant for Halloween. I love the blues and her hair!

This bingo card is a girl peeling an apple. At the turn of the century if you peeled an apple in one long strip on Halloween and then threw it over your shoulder, the apple peel was supposed to spell out the name of your betrothed. Beats walking down the stairs backwards at midnight holding a candle and a mirror!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Fall Craft Show

   The last weekend of this month I will be at my first BIG show. The last two shows I did were rather small and were not the best weather wise. One show it rained and was bitterly cold, the other was under a Tornado warning and both were outside. This show will be indoors and I am getting ready for it.
   I finally found a folding table (yay!). Who new that they were so hard to find? I guess I just had to wait until the start of the Holidays when people need that buffet table....
   I am bringing all of my Halloween goodies: ornaments, postcard holders, hats and quite a few things that aren't on my Etsy Store. I will also have some jewelry and scarves for those that want to do some super early Christmas shopping.
   I have the table set up and I am slowly working on my display. If nothing else, I will have the best damn table at the show. Here's just a couple of my display ideas....

My beaded bracelets ome in all colors and what better way to display that in a Shabby Chic frame?

Since my inspiration for these hats came from the "Hunger Games" books why not display them on a artsy book sculpture? They have literally come from the book!

If you are in the area, mark your calendar and stop by the show. I'll be behind the table that has the killer medical art table cloth with the large wooden sculpture on it. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The $50,000 coat

    What are you willing to pay for a coat? Would you pay $50,000? You're probably thinking that is insane, right? After all the Wall Street Journal often lists a luxury item; say a $10,000 designer dress, and then lists all the similarly themed items that you could buy instead of that one item.
      What if your coat was completely handmade? What if you knew that the fabric was crafted by hand in every step, from the shearing of the animal to the final stitches?
   In Meg Noonan's book, "The Coat Route Craft, Luxury and Obsession, on the Trail of a $50,000 Coat" she explores such a coat.
    The book traces the last of the bespoke tailors in London's Seville row. Well, the book traces the last of many people and companies that craft experiences. That is really what buying clothing is about anyway? The cheap thrill of buying 20 t-shirts made in some factory in Bangladesh for $10? How long are those going to last you? Did you need those 20 items anyway? Why not buy one really well made item? This logic works on food items too. Why eat lots of low fat items when you can savor a few bites of one really rich, well made food product? That could just be me being a chocolate snob and having recently shelled out $6 for a chocolate bar from Chuao Chocolates. Their bars can last me a least a week and their flavor combinations are bizarre enough to be delicious.
   Even if you think spending that much money on clothing is ridiculous, 'The Coat Route" is a fascinating read. Ms. Noonan starts at the source of the coat, the Vicuna, an animal that looks like a cross between Bambi and a camel. The Vicuna is softer than cashmere and was at the brink of extinction. Apparently they are doing quite well now that the shearing process has been revamped. The Financial Times magazine even has a spread on them this weekend.
  Every step of the coat is laid out. The lining, made of silk hand loomed and silk screened to make it one of a kind. The buttons, hand carved from horn. Even the gold hanger bar, hand engraved with the name of the owner and the tailor. Especially the engraver, who wears a signet ring with what has to be the best motto ever on it: Cave Furorem Patientis, "Beware the Fury of a Patient Man".
   Everyone mentioned in this book is a patient man. And everyone in this book says the same thing. Their craft is slowly dying, who will take up the mantel? No one wants to work with their hands, apprentice for 5, 10, 15 years. No one sees what this means.
    Cursive handwriting is soon to be cut from curriculum. More power to the schools say most people. Why do we need handwriting? We can just type. This is like when the telephone came about. And on and on it goes. If you can't write it, you probably won't be able to read it. A generation will be unable to read the great documents that gave them their freedoms that they so strongly believe in.
   If we don't have the people that make beautiful things how will we be able to have future generations know what goes into making a button and what that means. People take it for granted that they can go in any store and buy an article of clothing and they neglect what goes into that article of clothing.
   I fear that soon certain things will be lost on future generations, so I highly recommend that you pick up this book and read about what goes into a $50,000 coat. It may be very well worth that price, maybe even more. 

Monday, September 2, 2013

Not a typical Labor Day weekend

   Oh, Labor Day, the end of Summer, a three day weekend to simply sit back and relax......*right*!
I got to spend most of my time on the phone with my internet subscriber trying to get my wi-fi back up and running. It only took 2 days and 4 different customer service reps....Nothing is so frustrating as technology.
  Speaking of technology, I recently came into ownership of this lovely piece of equipment.
Vintage 1955

I am currently trying to figure out how to cast on. So the fight against the machines continues.....

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Off-Duty For Now

I am currently set up with bursitis of the elbow, so no new crafty things or blog posts for now. I had some really good ones too: DIIP updates, flow magazine, smencils and a garden update.

Well, at least I have some great books to keep me company while I recover! 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Steampunk Pumpkins

   On a trip to Hannah's today to pick up some of their fantastic Halloween scrapbooking paper (more to come on those crafts later!) I noticed that they had some quirky Steampunk-ish pumpkins in with their Halloween decor.

   I think a trip to the hardware store is in order! Oh, like I need an excuse to go to Lowe's......
I'm thinking of whipping a couple of these up to bring to the craft show in September, what do you think??

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Bowling for Bunnies Game

I always love all of the strange and unusual items I come across when I go to antique shows. I especially love the items that are vintage that I have never seen before.

Case and point...This children's board game called 'Bowling for Bunnies".

This is a "classic" game where you try and knock down the bunny bowling pins with cabbage balls. Now, there are multiple bunnies in the backyard that I would love to throw something at so they would stop trying to eat all the vegetables.....I should have opened this up to see exactly how bunny-like the pins were.
  I couldn't help thinking that after many days of bowling abuse that these bunny pins would come to life one night to seek their revenge!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Etsy Halloween Shop (Again)

Not to brag....but....A while back I found this rad vintage Bingo cards. The are black and white and are printed on a thick card stock; so thick that the back resembles a leather bound book. I combined them with my love of Shrinky Dinks and vintage Halloween and I created some one of a kind wall hangers.
   Gaze upon what will be in the Mink Couture shop this weekend!

Enjoy the Halloween Dance! A couple dances around a giant pumpkin. A clock and fan charm ad some dimension and the "31" is highlighted in orange glitter....right, like we would forget Halloween???

Feeling a bit more mysterious? A lady with a most unusual hat has a secret...maybe the goblins know???

Keep your eyes open for these and more on the store! 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Mastering the Art of French Cooking

   I just finished reading "As Always, Julia: The Letters of Julia Child and Avis Devoto" Edited by Joan Reardon.  Most of you should know by now that I love a good book of other people's letters. Its not the voyeurism part; it the history and the nostalgia. It's why I joined Postcrossing and LWA, why I did Letter Writing Month. Its so that someday I can find that perfect pen pal friendship that blossoms. And, for purely selfish reasons so that when I am a big and famous whatever my letters will be published in a book as well.
   Who wants to read the e-mails of President Obama or the tweets of Damien Hirst? Boring reading if you ask me. Nothing personal about that.
   I have decided to try a once a week book feature that ties in with an Etsy treasury. So here is this week's.

Julia and Avis Master the Art of French Cooking

I hope you enjoy!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Halloween in July with Crepe Paper

Halloween is coming! Halloween is coming! A quick trip to the Hobby Shop yesterday and...they are putting out all their Halloween items! Which means I am not that far off in my timing of starting to list my Halloween items on Etsy. I have hats of all sizes and some lovely vintage postcard hangers.
   I have also started to list my vintage inspired one of a kind crepe paper hats. Crepe Paper used to rule the holidays in the first half of the 1900's. You'd celebrate Halloween by donning a hat and a crepe paper costume. I guess you would also hope it didn't rain on your way tot he party!
   The good news is you can get this hats now and use my anniversary discount-better hurry, I'm sure these won't last long!

What other Halloween decorations do you guys want to see on the Etsy site? Would you like a "how to" so you can make your own hats??

Saturday, July 20, 2013

A Heat Wave, the Weather in general and Art HIstory

 This past week most of the U.S. was baking in a heat wave. Here in Chicago, it was 108 with the heat index. Not only was it hot, but the air was downright thick and soupy to walk through. When you wake up at 5:30 and you step outside to get the paper and break out in a sweat, it's hot. You couldn't even cool off in the lake, the water there was 78 degrees.
   Whenever the mercury rises and people say stupid things like, "Hot enough for you?!".....seriously my only options I have to reply are to say "No, I'd actually like it to be as hot as, wait the surface of the sun!" or to punch them in the face. Well, I can't actually punch people in the face, so you just nod and smile and say something stupid like, 'Yeah...its really something".....
  I was thinking (which is very hard to due in the heat, I have no idea how anyone in the 1800's managed anything in wool and hoop skirts with no air conditioning and Ice tea)....what the thermometer would look like if it was visual instead of numerical.
     If you want a visual representation of the week, this is pretty much what it felt like. Anything over 90 is pretty much going to melt your face and maybe your watch.

Salvador Dali-  "Persistence of Memory"

Most of the time in the summer it just feels like this....
It's hot, but hey, upper 80's are nice after a winter of freezing your butt off and shoveling snow. 

Mark Rothko- No. 8

When the weather is in the 70's to low 80's it's tolerable enough to go outside, maybe have a picnic, go out on one of the many lakes in the area. 
Auguste Renior- The Boating Party

In the late summer, early fall the temps are in the 60's to 70's, pleasant harvesting weather. 
Pieter Bruegel the Elder- Harvesters 

Spring is normally marked by 60 degree weather, maybe some 50's, either way it feels warm after a long winter! What other painting could better represent Spring???

Sandro Botticelli- La Primavera

One of the nice things about living in a state that has seasons is watching the leaves change color. I still collect leaves and iron them on wax paper to ship to friends who are less fortunate and don't get to experience the bright colors of fall. But, when the leaves start to turn, it's a sure sign that the weather will be turning colder too...

Ando Hiroshige- Maple Leaves at the Tekona Shrine

Then it happens...winter comes! It's fine at first, 40s and 30's aren't totally unbearable and you get snow. White, fluffy, untouched, first snow. 

Ansel Adams- Half Dome Apple Orchard Yosemite

Anything below that and you just might freeze in place; especially when the wind chill hits those below zero temperatures!

Alberto Giacometti- Walking Man

So, whenever you are feeling the heat, just take a look at some art to beat the heat!