Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Bounty of Summer

We have had an unusually long growing season in Colorado this year. It's middle of September, mind you, and I still go out every day and pick fresh tomatoes off the vine. No rain or moisture in sight anywhere. Colorado usually has an early snowfall around this time of year. We get at least one brutal beating in the form of a big snow or frost that kills our tender garden plants. But not this year!

I suppose there are certain advantages to the global warming process, at least when you live in Colorado and love tomatoes. Of course, when you grow tomatoes you must grow basil, since the two go together like bread and butter. There is no easier way of cooking dinner than rubbing a bowl with garlic cloves, chopping up a handful of fresh ripe tomatoes and tossing them with cooked pasta and some olive oil. It's so easy a child can do it. Voila! You got dinner in about 20 minutes.

But while the fresh tomato taste shall be missed sorely, for it must snow or get cold sooner or later, the basil flavor can be preserved. During the hot summer months I often make pesto - this most magic Italian sauce.

To make pesto all you need is:

  1. fresh basil leaves

  2. fresh parsley

  3. extra virgin olive oil

  4. garlic

  5. Parmesan cheese

  6. pine nuts

  7. salt and pepper

I really don't use measurements any more. I am a firm believer in intuitive cooking. I just toss the lots of fresh green leaves (mostly basil and a few leaves of parsley) and olive oil in the food processor and blend them until I get a smooth paste. You don't want it too runny or too stiff. I just keep adding olive oil to the leaves until it is a nice consistency that can be tossed with my pasta. Once you have the pesto sauce you add 1-2 cloves of garlic and the other items on the list. Let your taste buds decide what combination they like best. Often I leave out the pine nuts completely because they are expensive, or I can only find the questionable kind imported from China (stay away from them!).

It is very easy to preserve the pesto for the winter! Just do the first step of my recipe! Make a pure paste from olive oil and fresh herbs and freeze this mixture in ice cube trays. Once they are frozen solid I put the pesto cubes in Ziploc bags.

Don't add any of the other ingredients for they will make your pesto funky when you thaw it out!

Now when winter rolls around, and you get a hankering for fresh basil, you just take out a couple of your pesto cubes, thaw them out, add some olive oil, and the usual ingredients. The kids can make dinner again! Voila! You have the bounty of summer at your fingertips from October through April...

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Treasury Troubles..

So I found this cool tool for generating code to put treasuries on one's blog. But it is driving me sheer crazy. I have tried it in various sizes, with and without letters. But I can't manage to use it, without having a large white space appear at the beginning of my post(see below).
I am trying to decipher the code. If only I knew how to read code. But it might as well be written in Chinese. I don't get it. Please, if you are a computer geek, and know how to fix it, tell me how!

'A Handmade Harvest' by theenchantedcupboard

I just love this time of year!

Autumn Leaf Child T...


Heart of the Fall F...


Green Acorn Pocketd...


Noodle stoneware Se...


Boston Beanies Cott...


Pumpkins for Fall, ...


Colorblocked in Cha...


Acorn Girl Bendy Do...




Carrot House Play S...


Fox and Dragonfly C...


Autumn Crochet Pump...


Tiny Acorns -8 doze...


Fall Pixie


Leaf Acorn Charm Br...


Lovely Autumn Tree ...


Generated using Treasury HTML code generator by Whale Shark Websites.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Panda Panic

Pandas anyone? Don't say "No" to the Panda or you know what will happen, right? I gave you a fair warning.
Seriously, you must check out this video! Though it may be totally off topic. It has nothing to do with fall or anything I have written about lately. Just plain weird stuff. A company in Egypt making cheese - named Panda? Is this for real?

And that is why you must buy one of my Pocketdresses with little pandas on them. Is that clear, folks?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Dolly Diaper Dilemma

I am having a hard time taking pictures of my dolly diapers. I have been making them for a few years now. I just can't figure a good way to get Photos of them. What do you think looks best? How should I lay them out? Just on a plain white background?

Or should I display them on the doll themselves?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Eat your Vegetables! Zucchinis can Be Yummy!

For the longest time, we had trouble convincing the children that zucchinis are an edible food. No matter how the hardworking parents served it, there was always lots of whining and complaining. That is, until the day I encountered a recipe for Chocolate Zucchini Muffins, when I was browsing the Internet for desserts. Since we like playing in the kitchen and experimenting with ingredients, we slightly alter the basic recipe every time we make it. But find the basic ingredients needed below:

All you need is a couple of eager assistants plus:

  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups of sugar (in the recipe it said white, but I also tried with a light brown sugar and it worked fine!)
  • 1 cup of vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 2 cups grated zucchini
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (part of it can be replaces with whole-wheat flower)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • chocolate chips
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C) Lightly grease two 9x9 inch Pyrex glass dishes. You can also bake this batter in two muffin pans. I made them as a party treat for my son ...
  2. In a rather large bowl mix together beaten eggs, sugar, oil. Add the vanilla, cocoa powder, and grated zucchini and mix them well together.
  3. Mix the dry ingredients: Flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg. Add them to the liquid ingredients. The batter needs to be moist. We did not drain any liquid from the grated zucchinis as some recipes suggested.
  4. Pour batter into greased Pyrex dishes or muffin pans. Decorate the top with chocolate chips. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 - 25 minutes. Insert toothpick to make sure it's baked all the way through.

It's so chocolaty and yummy I promise the children will fight over who gets to eat more of the vegetable dessert.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

New Family Foto

Sabine, I, and Christine are sitting on a little ledge in front of my parents' store window. Look at Sabine's cute black purse. Wish I had one like that these days. See the matching clothes? My mom made those little red vest-like dresses for us. I remember how they perfectly matched the red of my sandals. Oh, joy! I guess I must have been out of white t-shirts and put on pale blue instead. What a goofball face I am making here. Don't forget to check out the wares in the windows. Beautiful wallpaper, no? And there is a display about wallpaper glue. I remember it came in three different strengths - depending on how heavy the paper was. Who wallpapers houses any more?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Congratulations to Just Hatched!

Good Job Amanda, from JustHatched! I am so glad you made it to that dreamspot on Etsy. Many of us have wondered for years how one gets there. Maybe we can all learn from you. You so deserve being there. Love your toys and puzzles! Your shop looks super! Go NaturalKids Team!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Celeste, A new Fall Friend

I am so delighted with this new doll! Pictures can't convey how sweet her face is. She loves orange, can you tell?

Check out the cool pumpkin decor on her green slippers! Celeste was jumping for joy when she saw I was making them for her. They are such a treat...

Monday, September 13, 2010

Fake Fabric

Ever heard of such a thing? I know of forged paintings. Everybody has seen the sellers of fake Gucci handbags and Rolexes. In Germany customs has been cracking down on fake goods forever. But fake fabric? Give me a break!

I never would have thought of that one. Until it hit me last week. I had ordered some fabric on one of my favorite E-sites. The seller is located in Taiwan. I was so happy to find that they still had yardage of two of my favorite fabric patterns by Kokka, a fabric designer from Japan.
After a two-week wait my fabric arrives. The sweaty fingers of the fabric junkie rip through the brown paper envelope, anticipating another "fabric-high". Oh, no! My fabric was stained. It had yellow stains on it since it wasn't wrapped in plastic for the trip. But then I notice something else. What the heck?

This fabric is completely different. It feels rough and tough like sackcloth or a jute bag. What is this? I am checking the salvage line. Does it say Kokka there? Nope. Just the little color dots you normally see on fabric. There is no name. No copyright. No nothing. (see pictures! I put the real fabric next to the fake fabric! What do you think? Were you able to tell?)

I go back and check the listing of the place where I bought it. Clever. Nowhere does it say that I am buying Kokka fabric. Since the pattern looks exactly the same, I put it in my shopping basket, thinking I am getting the real thing. Only now, when I hold it in my hands, it's obvious what this is: A cheap knock-off. Only it WAS NOT cheap...I paid premium bucks - same as if it was the real thing! My bad! One should always ask all the questions when buying. I will be a lot more careful now. But really would you have suspected it?
I am not quite sure what to do with this strange addition to my fabric stash. I feel very bad for the fabric designer/manufacturer in Japan. How is it possible that someone can steal your designs and sell them all over the world? I still love the pattern but I think for now I will just put it in the closet and mark it as a lesson learned...
By the way when I did a search on the subject I found only one other link that talked about this...

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Pflaumenkuchenrezept / Plum Cake Recipe

Finally! Here is the recipe for the German Plum cake. For those of you who speak German or the ones would like to learn the language, I wrote it up in both languages. I wrote the German version first, so you may take guesses at what those funny words might mean?


  • 375 g Mehl
  • 75 g Zucker
  • 1 Paeckchen Vanillezucker
  • 2 1/4 Teeloeffel Trockenhefe
  • 1 Prise Salz
  • 1 Ei
  • 200 ml Milch
  • 100 g Butter
  • 2-3 kg Pflaumen

Mische die trockenen Zutaten: Mehl, Zucker, Vanillezucker,Hefe, Salz. Erhitze die Milch mit der Butter. Kannst Du im Topf auf dem Herd oder in der Microwelle machen. Pass auf das die Milch nicht zu heiss wird, sonst geht die Hefe kaputt! Gib das Ei und die Milch mit der fluessigen Butter zu den trockenen Zutaten. Mische alle Zutaten mit dem Kochloeffel oder einer Maschine mit Knethaken bis ein Teig entsteht. Sollte er zu klebrig sein muss man noch mehr Mehl dazugeben. Mit den Haenden kneten bis er weich und geschmeidig ist.

Decke den Teig mit einem Handtuch ab, und lass ihn gehen bis er sich sichtbar vergroessert hat! Teig ausrollen und auf ein gefettetes Backblech legen. Man kann auch mehrere runde Formen verwenden. Beim ersten Backen habe ich ein amerikanisches Backblech verwendet. Beim zweiten Versuch waren es zwei runde Springformen, plus drei kleine Foermchen. Die Kinder finde diese Minikuchen super! Den Teig mit den entsteinten Pflaumen belegen. Die Pflaumen werden beim Entsteinen halbiert und dann in ein schuppenfoermiges Muster geschnitten. Dann legt man sie in dichten Reihen auf den ausgerollten Teig. Wenn der Teig komplett belegt ist bei 200 Grad Celcius 20-25 Minuten im vorgeheizten Backofen backen!

Serviere mit Zucker bestreut und Schlagsahne wenn Du sie magst!

Falls Du die Schlacht mit den Eichhoernchen dieses Jahr verloren hast, kannst du den Kuchen auch mit Aepfeln backen. =)

How did it go? Did you take some good guesses? Think you can follow the German recipe? If not here is the English version:

Maybe you noticed that Germans use grams rather than cups in baking! (see scales in the first picture!) Using weight measurements rather than volume measurements leads to more precise measuring. Also, take note of the different temperatures. Germans use Celcius rather than Fahrenheit. Since my math is not the greatest my husband had to print me up a conversion table and tape it to the refrigerator when I first moved here.

  • 375g flour
  • 75 g sugar
  • Vanilla in liquid form since it's not sold in little packages like in Germany...1 tsp will do
  • 2 1/4 tsp dry yeast
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 egg
  • 200 ml of milk
  • 100g butter (a stick is fine)
  • 2-3 kg of Italian prunes or small plums

Mix dry ingredients together. Add the stick of butter to the milk and put it in the microwave for about a minute or two. You can also melt the butter in the milk on the stove top. Be careful and don't burn the milk! It should just be warm enough to melt the butter gently. If the mixture is too hot it will destroy the yeast when added to the dry ingredients...Add the egg, the milk, butter, and vanilla to the flour mixture. Knead everything together. This can be done by hand or with a machine using kneading hooks.

Put dough in a bowl and cover with towel. Let it sit until it has visibly enlarged in size! About an hour or so.

Roll out dough and place it on greased baking sheet or several smaller springforms. I used two large round springforms and 3 little tart pans. The kids really love the minicakes!

Arrange the plums closely together in rows or a circular pattern. Press into the dough lightly arranging them in a fish scale pattern. Plums must be cut halfway through and taking the pit out. Then you add too smaller slashes to flatten the plums out.

When the dough is completely covered with a dense layer of plums bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 to 25 minutes. Once the edges turn brown it's probably done!

Serve sprinkled with sugar or a spoonful of whipped cream on top!

If you lost the battle against the squirrels this year, and they got all your plums, you can also use sliced apples for this recipe! =)

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Purple Love

Somebody out there tells me there is a little girl who loves purple. So I went through my fabric stash and looked through all my fabrics that had purple in them. Considering that I am a hoarder of fabric, it wasn't that bad. I only found four or five fabrics with purple accents in them. What is my husband talking about? Looks like I won't make it on that TV show after all.

For this special customer of mine, lover of purple, I selected a really cute Kawaii fabric with squirrels on it. I made a bonnet and matching diapers for the little custom baby.

It seems so very appropriate for the season...While I am busy rearranging piles of fabric inside the house, I watch the little critters collect acorns outside. You better watch your step in front of our house! We have two gigantic oak trees. You may get hit in the head by acorn projectiles launched by those little cheeky critters. I am convinced they do it on purpose, all because I managed to pick all the plums on my neighbor's tree before they could get them. NaNaNaNa! I beat the squirrels this year! Would you like my recipe for German plum cake? Yummy! We call it Zwetchekuche or Quetchekuche where I am from. =)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Doll Maker at Work...

Check out the look of concentration on the dollmaker's face. Okay, you get three guesses. What am I working on in these pictures? I mean, what part of the doll?