Monday, October 31, 2011

Giveaway!

I'm so excited to announce my first Giveaway from The Striped Straw! I thought it would be a fun way to kick off November. You could win your choice of one of the following: the Charcoal Gray Blossom Ring or the Plum Flower Earrings. Read on for the details...

Here's what you must do to enter the Giveaway:

1. Visit my shop on Etsy. Leave a comment below telling me what your favorite item is from my shop.
2. Join my blog by becoming a Follower.

The Giveaway will close next Sunday at 12:00pm EST. One winner will be randomly chosen and announced on Monday, November 7th. Thanks for entering my Giveaway!

Refreshed

Although illness stormed our house, I'm happy to say it did not prevail over us. We salvaged a couple of days of vacation and went up to the mountains for a wonderful time. Everyone was feeling well in time for our littlest C's birthday. My baby is 5. I love his sweet, fun, loving little self more than I can say.

In fact, I'm completely enamored with the whole crew. Ahh...time to slow down and enjoy my family. What a blessing!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Bummed

We've looked forward to this week for a long time...vacation at a cabin in the mountains.  But, our vacation has turned into a staycation because our 3Cs came down with strep. So, we've been resting and healing at home. It's been a bummer to say the least. I confess that my heart was sad yesterday. But still, there's plenty to be thankful for: access to medical help, lots of snuggles, naps for Mama, time together as a family, lazy days with time for talking and reading. It's not what we were hoping for but it's a relatively minor bump in the road. Part of my consolation has been looking at loveliness on the blogosphere and imagining another time when we'll all be well and able to travel and enjoy some fun. Looking at mountain retreats was a little too sad so I turned my attention to a new-to-me blog, La Maison d' Anna G. And there was this beautiful home in Denmark...

Team Living dk / photo Per Wadskjaer / stylist Helen Wiggers

So, not a vacation in a cabin in the mountains but a nice little distraction as I nurse my little ones back to health. Hoping your weekend is full of good health and good time with loved ones.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pretty Pairing

The colder weather that's been blowing in this week has me thinking about keeping warm with lovely scarves. And this beautiful cream and navy indie scarf looks just about right. Wouldn't this scarf make a pretty pair with the Indigo Petals Ring?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pink and Brown

These sweet little hair pins found their way into the Shop yesterday...
but they've found a new home. If you would like hair pins like these or any item in my shop but it's no longer available or you'd like it in a different color or style, please convo me at my Etsy shop (conversation button at the top), leave me a comment here or email me at thestripedstraw@gmail.com. I'm currently working on a custom bow ring and I'm really excited about it. I'd love to work on something unique for you.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Birthday Goodies

This is our family's birthday season. Starting yesterday and continuing for the next couple of weeks, all three of our boys will be celebrating their birthdays. Such fun! And it follows that I'll be making lots of birthday treats. Yesterday, I made a Pumpkin Maple Coffee Cake per my son's request. It has been my go-to Fall dessert for a number of years and it is full of flavor. See the recipe below.

Pumpkin Maple Coffee Cake
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
2/3 cup buttermilk (sour milk also works; also discovered almond milk will work)
1/2 cup pumpkin puree (canned is fine)
1/3 cup oil
1/2 tsp maple flavor
2 eggs, beaten
Topping:
1/2 cup sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp maple flavor
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350°. Grease bottom only of 9-inch square pan. 
  2. In large bowl, combine flour and all remaining coffee cake ingredients; mix just until dry ingredients are moistened.
  3. In small bowl, combine 1/2 cup sugar and cinnamon for the topping; mix well. Add 1 tsp of maple flavor; mix well with a fork. (I often double this amount to make plenty for covering both layers.)
  4. Spread half of the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle with half of the topping. Spoon remaining batter over top; spread evenly. Sprinkle with remaining topping.
  5. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 15 minutes. 

And I also made some gluten free, dairy free chocolate chip cookies from a recipe I found on Elana's Pantry. I'm really pleased with how they turned out...tasty and a good texture. I made a couple of substitutions based on what I had on hand, one intentionally and the other, well...not so intentionally. I finished off one bag of almond flour after measuring out 2 cups worth. I opened my next bag, started to pour and gasp! - what is that texture?! - what did I buy?! (To hear my sons tell it, I freaked out.) I grabbed the bag and read amaranth flour instead of almond flour. I had no idea what amaranth flour was so I googled to find out. Turns out amaranth flour is a super nutritious, gluten free flour derived from the seeds of the amaranth plant. So in it went, and it worked, and added extra nutrition to my treat. Nice. The other little substitution? I used semi-sweet chocolate chips instead of dark chocolate. Here's the recipe:

Gluten Free and Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 ½ cups blanched almond flour 
½ teaspoon Celtic sea salt 
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup grapeseed oil 
1 tablespoon vanilla extract 
½ cup agave nectar 

1 cup dark chocolate chips 
  1. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl
  2. Stir together wet ingredients in a smaller bowl
  3. Mix wet ingredients into dry
  4. Form 1-inch balls and press onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet
  5. Bake at 350° for 7-10 minutes
  6. Cool and serve
Makes 24 cookies

Monday, October 24, 2011

Glittery Green

Happy Monday to you! I've been working on some new ideas for the shop. I'm having lots of fun experimenting with new colors and designs. Stay tuned this week for new items!

Up first is a new ring. It's the Glittery Green Blossom Ring.

The glitter adds a nice, subtle shimmer to the sage-like green. I love green and when you throw in a little glitter...well, I think you have something wonderful. 

Find more jewelry in The Striped Straw.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Home Inspiration

I find this home full of inspiration...
Images: Hello House via Lovenordic blog
I love this mix of gray, white and black, stripes, pennants, maps and pops of color. And I really love bringing in touches of nature...branches and that tree wall art. And someday, I really want to explore cobbling together some pallets to make a fun seating area like in the children's bedroom above. Has anyone tried it? 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Pretty Pairing

Bringing together two vibrant colors like turquoise and red can be daunting; but when it's done well, I really like the two together. This outfit seems to find that good balance. (And doesn't that tunic look like it's softer than soft?) Wouldn't this tunic and scarf pair nicely with the Shimmery Red Blossom Ring? As for earrings, I think these or these would be charming companions. What do you think?


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Crafting Lil' Pumpkins

Last Fall, my Aunt A showed me how to make this lil' pumpkin...

It's such a cute little guy in its classic colors of orange and green. This year, I decided to add in a little sparkle and mix up the colors. 
In order to make your own lil' pumpkins, read the instructions below. 

What You Need
  • Cardstock paper in the color of  your choice
  • Scalloped 1 3/4" punch (OR - use a plain circle punch - OR - draw your own circles using a stencil or jar lid)
  • Cinnamon sticks (OR - use a small branch or chenille sticks)
  • Glue
  • Scissors
I used a 1 3/4" scalloped punch.
Fold each circle in half, right-side to the inside.
Once all the circles are glued together, flatten and snip the bottom edge.

Instructions

  1. Punch 8 scalloped circles out of your cardstock (a 6" square is big enough for all 8 1 3/4" circles.)
  2. Fold each circle in half with the decorative side on the inside. If using the scalloped punch, make sure you fold in such a way that your rounded edges line up and there are no pointed edges. (See above)
  3. Glue the folded-in-half circles together, one at a time until all eight are glued in a stack. Let the glue dry for a few moments.
  4. Glue the last two circles together, completing the round pumpkin shape.
  5. Flatten the circles and snip off one edge so that your pumpkin will sit flat. (See above)
  6. Open back up and gently push a piece of a cinnamon stick in the center of the the pumpkin for the stem.
  7. For leaves, you can punch them out with a leaf punch or simply cut a lead shape out like I did. If going for the classic look, use green for the leaves. Otherwise, mix and match for the look you want. Place a dot of glue on the back of the leaf and place it just inside the pumpkin.
  8. Extras: I decorated the shimmery orange pumpkin with two amethyst-colored glass beads, tied on to thin beading cord. For the plum pumpkin, I cut leaves in each of the three colors I was working with and attached them to each other with a little brad (an eyelet would also work.) I gently pushed the open bracket into the cinnamon stick. For a curly vine, just cut a thin and long piece of cardstock, twirl it around your finger and glue just inside the pumpkin. 
  9. A few ideas for decorating: place your lil' pumpkin(s) in a decorative dish, on your mantle or tucked in and around picture frames. They also make great place card holders for a lovely Fall dinner. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Sunshine in the Shop

 A little bit of sunshine is warming up the Shop...
Yellow...it has a timeless quality that I haven't always appreciated. As a child, I remember hearing the comment that yellow made me "wash out." I understand now that what was meant was that yellow shirts with my light blonde hair made me wash out in pictures. But back then, what I understood was that I should avoid wearing yellow. Which I did up until a few years ago. Now, I'm finding that I like yellow quite a bit. And my husband likes me in yellow, which is always nice. So, this pair of Yellow Lacy Flower Earrings is a very welcome addition to my shop. I do hope you like them and that your day is filled with sunshine and love. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Spiced Carrot Cake for Pop

Yesterday was my Pop's birthday. We enjoyed a nice family lunch together. I was asked to bring dessert so I made this gluten free Spiced Carrot Cake. For the recipe, visit the lovely and inspiring Roost. In addition to delicious recipes, you'll get a sweet story about God's goodness.

For my part, I didn't quite get the frosting right...pretty sure it was because I substituted some maple syrup for the honey. So, I improvised with some organic cream cheese, turbinado sugar and vanilla. Thankfully, it worked out and the cake was yummy. Pop even snuck two pieces, which made me smile and thankful that this cake is full of good, wholesome ingredients.

When it came time for the grandkids to gather around Papa for singing and pictures, my littlest C stuck his two fingers up in the air and solemnly said, "Peace, Papa, peace."

The day was topped off by Pop pulling out his new metal detector. He had buried some treasures in the ground for the grandchildren to locate. Each grandchild took a turn swishing the metal detector over the ground until it went off. After some digging and with treasures in hand, it was time to call it a night. Happy Birthday Pop!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Dreaming of Spain

Ahhh...Spain. Have I mentioned that I love Spain? Half of my family tree finds its roots in Spain. And it was also my home for a year. And it's where I got engaged. And it's where our oldest son learned to roll over as a baby when we were staying there one summer. Good memories.
As I was looking at these lovely pictures from Spain-based photographer Isabel Lopez Quesada, it got me thinking about the flat in Sevilla that I called home. It had new, almost squeaky new, furniture that was quite uncomfortable. But my flatmates and I had the requisite round table dressed in a heavy tablecloth. During the winter, a little floor heater was placed underneath the table and everyone would sit around the table with their legs under the tablecloth so you could soak up the warmth. It created a cozy little space for having long conversations. The only down-side was that it was hard to get yourself up and moving again. But on to this gorgeous home in Asturias...





I love the colors, materials and textures of this home. In other rooms, you'll see pops of more vibrant colors but these soothing neutrals are striking me right today. And aren't those metal animal sculptures in the kitchen a nice whimsical touch? (And you know I like whimsy.) Life is full of work, busyness, stress and trials. Visiting these lovely rooms, even for a moment, is a welcome reprieve. Have a restful weekend!
Thank you,  Desire to Inspire, for introducing me to Isabel Lopez Quesada.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Winter White Mosaic Flower Ring

It's a new day! It's a new color! It's a new design! The Winter White Mosaic Flower Ring has floated into my shop. I like its sweet charm. Do you like?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Come On In Fall

  

Today was a family field trip to the Pumpkin Patch. It was a perfect day to go, sunny and warm. My three C's ran around the corn maze, tossed bean bags, tried their hand at roping and, of course, picked out little pumpkins to bring home. And now Fall is finding its way into our home and making itself quite comfortable. And I'm welcoming it with arms wide open.




Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Pretty Pairing

This Perfectly Plum flower ring, elegantly set on a sterling silver band, is a favorite of mine. In the light, its deep plum color lightens to a softer shade. Wouldn't it pair nicely with this leather tote from Madewell? Classically beautiful! And I think it would look lovely up against this little mocha number.

More Perfectly Plum accessories here.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Charcoal & Yellow

I love gray, especially charcoal gray.  Pair it with a sunny yellow and you have a handsome duo. My take on this classic combination is a set of sweet little flower hair pins. New in the shop!


Salty Fingers

After dipping my fingers into my Celtic Sea Salt bag for the hundredth time this weekend and getting my entire hand salty, I began to think it wouldn't be such a bad idea to look for a salt cellar. I love little bowls and dishes and while I've given salt cellars as gifts, one has yet to grace my kitchen counters. This glass salt cellar from Crate and Barrel is a cute and affordable way to go. But there's also something appealing about keeping my counters clear (ha!) with this hang-on-your-wall-out-of-the-way salt cellar from Pottery Barn. Or maybe this little chunk of maple or this milk blue rose cellar. A little antique baby spoon would be too cute with that milk blue cellar. Spoons! That's a whole other story....and maybe that's what I should be looking for to keep my fingers from getting salty. How do you dish up your salt?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Crafting a Joyful Note

I am very fond of this Arctic stamp set from ink+wit. (More whale whimsy here.) Wouldn't it be fun to make your own card with this set? Then imagine sitting down and penning a hand-written note to a loved one using this Ice Blue Tornado pen. And, of course, a beautiful card deserves a beautiful envelope so decorate it with a bit of Japanese Washi tape and top with a vintage stamp. Imagine the surprise and pleasure your hand-crafted goodness would create on the other end. Joy to make. Joy to receive. Bliss.