Starbucks Love

If you know me then you know that I'm a Starbucks junkie so I was super excited to see this craft come up over on the Echos of Laughter blog and I had to try it. I'm not going to put up a tutorial for this because if you've ever scrapbooked you can totally do this and besides, there's a bit of a tutorial over on the E.O.L. blog. I'll just give you a pictorial of what I did. The only difference is that I used a vente cup (large) instead of a tall (small) and I didn't add photos as I decided to turn mine into a little book of holiday cookie recipes. Really, you could put whatever you wanted in it ~ breaking down a Christmas poem or story on each page would be cute too ~ but what better to go with a cup of coffee or tea then a delicious cookie!

This would make a great gift along with a Starbucks gift card or any one from any coffee house or the favorite of the gift recipient as you could do this with a cup from Pete's, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, It's A Grind, etc.

This would be a terrific holiday gift for your child's teacher!


Orange Studded Cranberry Chutney

Let's face it, one of the best parts of the holidays is the food. Treasured recipes are pulled out and dishes that only get served once a year begin to grace our tables deepen memories. It's like that in my family and with Thanksgiving right around the corner, my mom and I are already planning the menu and making sure it includes many of our favorites. One of those is my Cranberry Chutney.

I can't exactly remember when I started making it but I think the idea of something different began when I heard that vacuum pack slurrrrrp of canned cranberries (you know what I'm talking about) for about the 20th time and decided then and there that something tastier was in order for next year.

This chutney is SO pretty (much more so than the can-shaped store bought kind) and SO good you'll want to make it every year when cranberries are in season. And...it makes the perfect hostess gift! So does the Banana Chutney which I posted about earlier.

Orange Studded Cranberry Chutney
(adapted from The Herbal Pantry, by Emelie Tolley & Christ Mead)

6 cups cranberries (two bags from the market. a bit of overage here which is fine)
1.5 cups unrefined sugar
1 orange, unpeeled, chopped and seeded
1 cup orange juice
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped crystallized ginger
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dry mustard
3 tbsp fresh sage, chopped
2 vanilla bean pods, split

Place all the ingredients except 2 tablespoons of the sage in a non-aluminum pan and cook over medium low heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves.

Increase the heat and boil until the berries pop and the mixture thickens slightly, about 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in remaining tablespoons of sage. Remove vanilla beans and ladle chutney into sterilized jars. Wipe the rims clean and seal tightly. This chutney can be refrigerated for up to 6 months. To store for up to one year, process in a hot water bath for 15 minutes. Store in a cool, dark place.

If you're not familiar with canning, head to your local library or bookstore - there are great how-to books out there and, of course, the internet is filled with easy to follow instructions.

This chutney gets better after it sits for a week or two which is why I made mine now for Thanksgiving. And I love love love it on a turkey and stuffing sandwich with lots of mayonnaise and coarse salt. YUM! Annnnnd....it's scrumptious as a topping for cheesecake! Promise!

Make it. Give it. And be sure to keep some for yourself!


Banana Chutney Brilliance

Sometimes, there's no other way to describe a food accept to use the word "Brilliant!" That's what this chutney is...pure brilliance in a jar. It completely hits your tongue running and sends it's warm curry and piquant vinegar flavors all through your mouth and up into the nose.

I know, bananas in a chutney seems an oddity but they so work and their smooth texture really adds to the overall consistency.

If you've never canned anything before, not to worry. There are about a bazillion books out there on how to do it not to mention many websites for the same. I do recommend some kind of canner though; mine uses steam and after I wash everything in hot soapy water, I sterilize my jars in a 250 degree oven (start cold) for 30 minutes and my lids on the stove. There are, of course, alternative ways to sterilize.

Brilliant Banana Chutney
(adapted from The Herbal Pantry, by Emelie Tolley & Christ Mead)

2 cups onion, chopped
1 pound pitted dates, chopped
7 ripe bananas
3 cups unrefined sugar
2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 cup golden raisins
3/4 cup crystallized ginger
1.5 tsp curry powder
1 tsp salt
2 whole vanilla beans

Combine all the ingredients in a heavy non-aluminum saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat then simmer until thick, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Spoon into half-pint jars (I used 12 ounce jars), seal and store in the refrigerator (I processed these in my steam canner for 15 minutes).

A jar of this accompanied by a sweet little spoon would make the perfect holiday gift for anyone who appreciates good food and interesting accompaniments to go with it. I think it would also be an elegant addition to a cheese tray (think white cheddar, brie, and herbed goat) or a generous dollop served alongside a pork tenderloin.

Say "Yum!"


Fat Quarter Fun!

I love when I can take just a little bit of nothing and turn it into something cute and serviceable which is exactly what I did by starting with a couple of fat quarters and a great pattern by We Wilsons which I purchased in their Etsy store for the low price of $7 (totally worth it when you figure in all of the gifts you'll be able to make by using it) and ended up with this cute little purse.

Let me go on the record by saying that I am neither a fancy or very experienced sewer and my machine is uber basic so this is a great pattern for someone who may find themselves in the same boat but who wants to make a quick gift for their daughter, a neighbor or themselves (a girl's gotta have a purse after all).

A fat quarter (a piece of fabric measuring 18" x 22") can be found at just about any fabric/craft/quilting store and even on line. They can range from under $1 to over $6 depending on the fabric or designer. Joanne's often has them on sale for $.99 which is the perfect time to pick up several. Honestly, for $10 you can get enough fabric for five of these little purses which is a bargain in my book.

The tutorial/pattern is very easy to follow. I chose black and white for my outer fabric and hot pink for my liner.

I also didn't have a sliding belt buckle and so cut the handle short and used big black buttons to secure the strap to the D-rings.

And just before I took all these pics, I added some beads to the zipper just to pretty it up further.

What I love about this purse is that once you make it one time and get the gist of it down you could embellish it so many different ways. Have fun and whip up some of these for Christmas gifts. You could get really crazy make a matching coin purse or cel phone holder or key chain...Get the idea?

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