May 18, 2012

La Tartine Gourmande {Book Giveaway}

As a home cook, I love paging through cookbooks and blogs looking for inspiration to change-up the usual menu in my kitchen.  Most recently I came across La Tartine Gourmande, both the blog and the subsequent cookbook of the same name, and both by Beatrice Peltre.
What a fabulous book, both in its photography and content.  La Tartine Gourmande, Recipes for an Inspired Life, is a beautiful read, filled with foods for all times of day, snacks and desserts included.  Oh yes, desserts!  Like the Spiced Panna Cotta below, the recipe of which can be found here.

The book has inclinations toward French food, due to the author's French heritage, however the recipes are simple and accessible (really, isn't most French cuisine like that anyway?  Fresh ingredients, simple and traditional techniques, etc.).
Beatrice Peltre writes in a friendly, upbeat manner and her charming stories and vignettes pepper each chapter, reflecting on her upbringing in France and her experiences in the US and abroad.

I like that her recipes use fresh ingredients and are also encouraging of gluten-free diets.  Peltre herself has a gluten intolerance, so many of her recipes use flours other than wheat-based ones.  Yet the recipes don't seem fussy or weird; I doubt I'd miss wheat much if cooking my way through this book.

While I've yet to really knead my way through the recipes, I did have a chance to make her Nutty Maple and Vanilla Granola.
Super-delicious, really easy, and great for her yogurt and fruit parfaits.
I'm certain it's will be my go-to granola recipe from now on.  The pumpkin seeds are a wonderful addition.
La Tartine Gourmande is a great companion to my kitchen, and I look forward to trying more of Bea's recipes throughout the year.

One lucky reader will win a copy of La Tartine Gourmande from Roost Books!  Enter via Rafflecopter below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I received a copy of La Tartine Gourmande for review purposes. All opinions are my own.

May 6, 2012

Colorful Summer Clothespin Wreath {tutorial}

Now that the weather has been consistently warmer, beckoning summer, it was time to change out my wool wreath from the front door to something that went a little better with the front porch color scheme.
It seems like I've been churning out lots of wreaths lately, but no matter. I decided to add one more to my portfolio, this time using clothespins.
I love using materials that are cheap and plentiful, and clothespins certainly fit that description.  Though my laundry will be a bit lacking for a while, until I replenish my stash.

Here's how I made it and what I used:
Clothespins (roughly 40) | Mod Podge | Scissors or craft knife | Decorative paper 
paint brush | Cardboard | Ribbon and a pin for hanging | mini chalkboard (optional)
Make your wreath base.  I traced two bowls onto a piece of cardboard to make a "donut" then cut it out with a craft knife.
Once I had my shape cut out, I glued it onto a piece of decorative paper.
I cut the paper a little larger than the donut, so I could fold it over and conceal the cardboard edges.
You just cut some notches in the paper and fold them over.
Then I glued them in place with Mod Podge
On to the clothespins.  You'll want to cut out rectangles to fit the front of the pin.  I used a paper cutter, but you could do this by hand.  I cut 6 rectangles of 7 different colors, then glued them onto the clothespins with Mod Podge.  I forgot to take a photo of this step, but you should get the idea.

When dry, simply pin your clothespins to your wreath form in whatever color pattern you'd like.
Add a ribbon for hanging, by either stapling, gluing, pinning or tying a ribbon to the back.
Note: Sandie commented below with a brilliant idea: decoupage the back sides of the clothespins with another design! Maybe something seasonal or a holiday color scheme.  You've got my wheels turning, Sandie. Thanks!
Hang and enjoy!  You could even pin little notes onto your door with the clothespins.

STEP SIX (optional)
While the wreath would look fabulous as is, I ended up using one of the leftover mini chalkboards from my other summer wreath to make a little "welcome" sign inside the circle.  I love how it looks!
You could write all kinds of things on it, like "happy summer", "here comes the sun", "at the beach", etc.  You can buy the mini chalkboards HERE.
Happy crafting!

May 3, 2012

Simple Mother's Day Bouquet

We have our own little cottage industry/art studio here in the afternoons when our neighbor kids come over.  Since two of them are older than Soren, they make the perfect students for me to relive my art teacher days.

Within moments of opening the front door, they're asking about making a craft, which makes me smile, even if I don't always oblige, depending on the events of the day.

Yesterday I broke out the glass painting markers (great buy for under 7 bucks) and let them decorate some baby food jars, ahem, vases (pronounced with the highbrow short 'a').
I scrubbed the jars, then removed any sticker residue with Goo Gone.
Then it was a simple as letting the kids color the jars.  Soren did great writing the word "mother" as I spelled it out loud for him.
Once the paint was dry (in a few minutes), I wrapped the top of the jar with ribbon, then wire to make a hanging vase or May Day basket of sorts.  Then we headed outside to scavenge some flowers and greens from the backyard.
I think Soren's choice of a hosta leaf is perfect for a backdrop.  It's not something that I think of adding to my flower arrangements, but he's inspired me to do so.

I'll bet we'll be making more of these for all the special mothers in our life this coming Mother's Day.
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