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Summer Foraging Recipe: Elderberry-Blueberry Jam with Chia Seeds

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In the woodland valleys of Central California, Elderflower trees have been in bloom all spring with their prolific, lacy white blossoms.  I've enjoyed making Elderflower syrup, candied elderflowers and sweet Elderflower Tempura.  A few days ago, I noticed that some of the trees are starting to bear fruit -- diminutive, tart little berries, deep purplish-blue growing in heavy clusters.  

Inspired by a love of biscuits and jam, foraging, and adapted from a recipe from Simply Beyond Herbs, I whipped up a simple and delicious jam made from the foraged Elderberries, fresh blueberries and using chia seeds for a perfect jammy consistency.

Enjoy and Happy Foraging!
PrintWith ImageWithout Image Elderberry-Blueberry Chia JamYield: One half-pint jarAuthor: Jenn Erickson Prep time: 10 MCook time: 10 MTotal time: 20 M An easy and delicious sweet-tart jam to make from foraged Elderberries. Ingredients:1 1/2 cups elderberries, rinsedPinch of salt1 cup blueberries, rinsed2 Tablespoons Chia Seeds1/2 Tabl…

KEWPIE CLIPART AND DARLING DOLLIES

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"Dot"
I've had an affinity for kewpies ever since I purchased my first one at yard sale when I was six years old.  There's something about their cherubic little faces and plump bodies that I find irresistibly charming. 
The Kewpies first appeared in the Ladies’ Home Journal in 1909 and were the creation of illustrator Rose O’Neill. Her comic-strip like features were so popular that in a short time dolls and toys and other merchandise based on her characters were being produced and sold all over the world. The time capsule at the 1939 New York World’s Fair contained a Kewpie doll. A Kewpie doll was mentioned in Anne Frank’s diary, and made an appearance in John Steinbeck’s novel, Of Mice and Men. The first Kewpie dolls were made of bisque, then of celluloid. In the 1960s and 70s, the kewpie had a resurgence of popularity, and were made of rubber and soft plastic.
Here are a few images of kewpies I've put together from my collection of dolls.  I've also included …

PECAN PRALINE FRENCH TOAST

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This year, we spent Fathers' Day up in Crescent City, visiting my dad and step-mom.  On our drive over the river and through the woods, we stopped in Ukiah and purchased a beautiful loaf of Challah bread at Schat's Bakery. 
On Saturday night, I sliced into the golden loaf, buttered a glass baking dish, and prepared the Pecan Praline French Toast for the next day.  Sunday morning, I had only to preheat the oven, pour the pralines over the prepared bread, and bake.  The smell wafting from the kitchen was heavenly! 
We served the French toast with warm maple syrup, and fresh blueberries (which added a nice tart contrast to all the cinnamonny sweetness).
Some things are just too good not to share!  Here's the recipe:
Baked Pecan Praline French Toast

HAPPY FATHERS' DAY ~ AND THE RESULTS OF THE FATHERS' DAY GIVEAWAY

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HAPPY FATHERS' DAY!!! My favorite photo of my dad and my grandfather
"Sometimes the poorest man leaves his children the richest inheritance." -- Ruth E. Renkel
"By the time a man realizes that maybe his father was right, he usually has a son who thinks he's wrong." -- Charles Wadsworth
"When I was a kid, I said to my father one afternoon, 'Daddy, will you take me to the zoo?' He answered, 'If the zoo wants you, let them come and get you.'" -- Jerry Lewis
Congratulations to commenter #40,
Julie,
who won the Diaper Dudes Diaper Bag Giveaway!
Tremendous thanks to everyone who participated!

URBAN BABIES WEAR BLACK PART II ~ and a chance to win a Diaper Dude diaper bag for DAD!

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GIVEAWAY HAS CLOSED

I stand at the threshold to the upstairs bathroom, silently observing my daughter's morning ritual:  calm and composed, she stands atop the bathroom vanity, smooths her hair (left side, then right);  dons her black pinstripe fedora, gives herself a wink, a tip of the hat, and is ready for PRESCHOOL!  This little child has more cool in the tip of her pinky finger than I've amassed in all my thrity-eight years combined.  Some people, I believe, are simply born with it!  And for those rare little souls who come pre-loaded with a sense of identity, intrinsic chill, and an eye for style,  Winnie the Pooh "just 'aint gonna do!"
I don't mean to poo-poo Pooh, but for for 'rents and their hanging-on-the-hip-sters whose style is more cool than cutesy, funky than foofy, Doc Marten than Disney, well....this one's for you!
With Fathers' Day just around the corner, let's begin with something for Dad!  I discovered these chic daddy diaper ba…

Bake-ins: Baking Cupcakes in Origami Paper Tulip Cups DIY

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Can you bake cupcakes in origami paper? YES, YES YOU CAN!  A generous gift of several packs of origami paper from my friend Janis have kept my girls busy and creative for days, and were the inspiration for this bit of cupcake ingenuity.



You can whip up a dozen of these beautiful and unique cupcake/muffin liners in a matter of minutes, once you have your technique down.  There is no need to grease or spray, provided that you don't overbake.  Try them with your favorite cake recipe or mix, or continue the theme with a batch of green tea cupcakes (click here for a wonderful collection of recipes)!



SNICKERDOODLEDOO ICE CREAM ~ I don't mean to be cocky, but this recipe's worth crowin' about

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Apple Pie, Fourth of July, Mount Rushmore . . . Snickerdoodles?  Unlike Apple Pie, this American icon is one that we can truly claim as our own.  Around the turn of the century, the good folks of New England developed a peculiar penchant for giving whimsical and often silly names to their baked goods.  Snickerdoodles comes from a tradition of this ilk that includes Graham Jakes, Jolly Boys, Branble, Tangle Breeches, and Kinkawoodles.  Most would agree, it doesn't matter what you call 'em, these chewy little sugar cookies, rolled in cinnamon sugar -- by any other name they'd still be delicious! 
Did you know, however, that Snickerdoodle was the name of a tiny folk-tale hero from American folklore?  I didn't, until I did some research and found a great article HERE.  Turns out that this pint-sized pee-wee was delighting children, teaching sound moral lessons, and making his way via oral tradition throughout the American South and on West in his tiny peanut car! 
So, whic…

RETRO LUNCH BAG PRINTABLES -- OR -- THESE GOOD LITTLE KITTENS DID NOT LOSE THEIR MITTENS, SO THEY SHALL GET SOME PIE

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My girls are off to day camp today, so I sent them off with these cute little lunch bags bearing a gentle reminder to mind their Ps and Qs.
I created this easy printable for paper lunch bags with coordinating strawberry stickers, using the vintage school posters I posted yesterday.  To print your own, simply download the files, open, and set your printer's paper settings to a custom size of 5.15" x 10.8.  When loading the bag into your printer, make sure it is flat and smooth.  For the stickers, use full-sheet adhesive paper. 
Remember Thank You Lunch Bag

Take Turns Lunch Bag

Strawberry Stickers

SMITTEN WITH KITTENS ~ some charming clipart for the classroom, playroom, or nursery

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(SEE THE ORIGINAL BELOW)
A dear friend retired from teaching this year, and as she was cleaning out her classroom she came across a set of "Good Manners Full Color Posters" from 1969. The colors are so bright and cheery, and the messages are simple and timeless! These charming vintage posters would be perfect for a playroom or nursery, and have excellent graphics for a myriad of craft projects. ~ I'm already envisioning a sweet little chore chart and some lunchbox-notes for back-to-school time. I wonder if a full wall mural of "PUT THINGS AWAY" would have any effect at my house? Probably not, even if I added a really scary-looking mama-cat holding up a trash bag in the background. ~ What sort of crafty vision do you have for these well mannered felines? Please share your inspirations, and feel free to download the images to use as you'd like (for non commercial projects).







REBORN ~ the rise and fall of the Marzipan Baby ~ and a DIY for making your own SUGAR BABIES at home

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DO YOU REMEMBER THESE GUYS?  A few years ago, the "MARZIPAN BABIES" had their 15-minutes of fame on the email circuit when someone concocted a story that these incredibly real-looking miniature babies were sculpted out of marzipan.  I was forwarded this incredible story a few times, but never ceased to be amazed and dazzled by the realism and detail of these miniature miracles! The story was later revealed to be a hoax.  The truth of the matter is that the babies were made of polymer clay (no less impressive) by artist Camille Allen (who was NOT responsible for the erroneous claims). 
I've always thought that the "marzipan babies", regardless of their original material, would be a fantastic challenge to try to recreate as baby shower cupcake toppers.  The problem rests in the fact that the level of detail required for these marvelous creations would simply take too much time to reproduce sufficient quantity for a special event.  I recently had the opportunity t…

SAVE THE WHALES ~ The care and naming of your bathtub whale ~ and an appeal to the President from "MY BOY THURSDAY"

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I am the proud mother of two delightful, exuberant, creative little girls. As the oldest child and only girl in a family of four, this was everything I ever wished for growing up. Now that our youngest is five ("graduating" preschool tomorrow as a matter of fact) my husband and I are happy to have diapers, 3 a.m. feedings, and bulky baby accessories behind us. We've decided that "we're done." Every once in a while though, especially when I hold a baby, I get that little pang of doubt. And every so often I think about the fact that my husband's family name stops here, since we have no sons. Then a friend's toddler throws the tantrum of the century in a quiet store where we're browsing, and I thank heaven the terrible twos, threes and fours are in my past! Today my 8-year old daughter's friend offered to carry my groceries into the house. Yes, I'm enjoying this older kid thing!


For the past several weeks, I've had the pleasure of having…

CREAMED LIFE IN A BASKET CASE ~ OR, THE WOES OF THE MODERN MAMA

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(to view a full-screen version and take in all kitchy character of this period piece, click HERE)

ARE YOU FEELING A DRASTIC TIP IN THE SCALES IN YOUR LIFE'S BALANCING ACT?

IT SEEMS, THIS MONTH, THAT EVERYONE IS BUSIER AND MORE OVER COMMITTED THAN EVER.
And yet, while dusting off some old cookbooks in my collection this week, I came across this section of "The Modern Hostess Cook Book for this Season" from 1939, and was startled with the realization that my plight is nothing new. Our grandmothers struggled with the same trials in having to finesse more than 24 hours of work into a 16 hour day, 7 days a week! The challenge of finding new ways to be more efficient with our time is not merely a symptom of our modern cyber age!
In 1939, one way that modern women found a solution to their balancing act was to use prepared and prepackaged foods. A marvel! A boon! "Hallelujah, it's Creamed Beef in a Bread Case! Now, we find ourselves swept up (thank heavens) in a movement …