EtsyKids Design Challenge: We have a Winner!

Posted Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Congratulations to the winner of this month's challenge 31. Shoes Apple Children's Painted Girls Denim Back to School by boygirlboygirldesign!

"How perfect are these shoes for Back to School or Fall Time!! We hand painted these denim colored shoes with a delicious apple on the toes. We then added fun red with white polka dots ribbon for the shoe laces. So cute for the little apple of your eye."

BoyGirlBoyGirlDesign is an Etsy store filled with wonderful hand dyed and hand painted children's items, ranging from clothing to shoes. All are created by a very artistic mother and daughter team. You can check out more of their wearable art right here!

Fresh Tomato Soup

Posted Saturday, August 27, 2011

I love today’s recipe so much that it is taped inside my cupboard door so I can always find it. I got it online several years ago when I wanted to make tomato soup but didn’t have onions. I don’t remember the source of the recipe, but apparently this is what comes up when you search for “tomato soup without onions.”

I make this soup year round, cheating by using a 28-oz can (or two) of crushed tomatoes. They’re a good substitute in the winter and spring months when good tomatoes are just not available.

Fresh Tomato Soup

2 lb. tomatoes
3 T butter
2 T flour
1 t salt
1/2 t sugar
1/4 t pepper
1 c water
1/2 c vegetable broth

Wash and stem tomatoes. Fill a large pot full of water and bring to a boil. Blanche the tomatoes by dipping them in the boiling water for 10-15 seconds. Plunge tomatoes into cold water (ice water, preferably). Let cool just a bit and carefully remove skins. Dice.

In a large saucepan, heat butter and add tomatoes. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and run through a blender. (I use an immersion blender right in the pan; just watch for splattering. It’s hot.)

Return tomatoes to pan. Sprinkle with flour, salt, sugar and pepper. Stir well. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add water, then broth. Heat to simmering.

Garnish with butter and fresh parsley, and serve with crackers. Serves 6.


I like to add a couple of cups of cooked macaroni to the soup. Here are more variations from the original recipe:

  • Serve with croutons.

  • Sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan cheese

  • Sprinkle with chopped fresh basil leaves and a little bit of shredded mozzarella cheese

  • Add fresh rosemary or chopped chives while simmering

  • Add a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of sage

  • Reserve a tomato half and dice it, adding it to the creamy soup near the end of simmering

  • Add 1 cup cooked white rice
Bon appetit! -Cori of Peace, Baby! Batiks

My Little Pony

Posted Thursday, August 25, 2011

My husband gave me horseback riding lessons for my birthday a few years ago, and I couldn’t wait until the first one. I‘d bring a pocket full of apples to the stable. The horse I rode would look up at me with those adoring deep blue long lashed eyes, and I’d reach out to pet that gleaming lavender coat with the butterfly tattoo on it’s butt—knowing that I had found a devoted friend for life who would follow me anywhere .
What no one mentioned was the pain… or the punching.

I was apprehensive about that first lesson. How ridiculous would I look to all the 12 year old girls in their smart little riding outfits (I had on jeans and sneakers, the helmet the stable provided was too big, and hanging past my eyebrows-- someone actually said to me while I was riding ‘Use the Force, Luke’), not to mention the 20 something year difference in ages)? But my instructor, Holly, was really great. I was totally relaxed & confident until she mentioned the bus dropping her off at the stable after school and I realized she didn’t mean college.

Learning to ride a horse is a lot like learning to drive a standard shift car-except the horse can sense weakness and put itself into any gear it wants to whether your foot is on the clutch or not. The hardest part is getting the darn things started. You don’t just jump on and go. There’s a lot of kicking and swearing. Holly handed me a crop. I didn’t want to take it. Why would I need to kick Chief when he just had to understand how much I loved him and then he would take me wherever I wanted? Next week, when I road Charmer, I took that crop without hesitation.

That second lesson on Charmer was better. I think that after Holly laid back and punched him when he started head butting her, he was in more of a mind to pay attention. I got him to walk and trot and run away with me. Ok, he ran on his own, but I didn’t fall off. I pulled back and sideways on the reins and said, ‘Whoa’. Holly said I handled it very well. I didn’t tell her that I was falling off and just happened to be holding onto the reins and the ‘Whoa-Aaaa’ usage as a horse term was pure coincidence. It's a saying I stole from my 3 year old niece who uses it when she’s gotten too dizzy and is going to fall down.

Even so, I felt like I had accomplished something and couldn’t wait until the next lesson. Imagine my surprise when after an hour on Charmer, I found the body parts I normally use only for sitting, weren’t even good for that. During the first lesson Holly had said something about doing stretching exercises and warming up, but I was too busy kicking furiously and trying to make my ‘giddyup’ clicking noises sound like I meant business to pay attention. Besides, I wasn’t really straining anything sitting there and kicking. The pain didn’t go away until a bottle of ‘Aleve’ and 5 days later.

The next Saturday I was back on Charmer, with a pair of $15 boots, a better fitting helmet and having done a bunch of stretching exercises. I didn’t have to use the crop as much as I had before and I learned to canter. Best of all, when the 12 year old girls smiled and said ‘hello’, I could smile back. I realize we have more in common that I thought. We’ve all been handed a lot of hooey about ‘pretty ponies’ by a toy company and are discovering what horses are really about. It is too bad about the butterfly tattoos on their rear ends, though. It would give us a place to aim for when we use the crop.

Loveys Among Strangers

Posted Monday, August 22, 2011

Bedtime around our house consists of the typical rituals; bath, pajamas, teeth brushing and story reading. Somewhere in the midst of these activities we also have to hunt down "Lovey", the tattered little blanket that my toddler son is so attached to, and couldn't possibly sleep without. I don't even like to contemplate what life would be like around here if Lovey were to be permanently lost, and we have had a few close calls.

My Etsy shop, Little Sidekick had only been open a few months when I received an email from a woman with an unusual request. She wanted to purchase something from me, but not any of the items I had listed for sale; she wanted to buy a stuffed monkey toy that I had used as a prop in one of my photos. Her son had officially adopted an identical monkey as his "security" item, and it had gone missing for a few days.

"I think I cried almost as much as he did" she told me, and after the monkey was recovered, she was determined to find a back-up. After searching exhaustively for one, with no luck, she stumbled across a listing of mine for a crocheted monkey hat. In the photos my son is modeling the hat and holding the exact stuffed monkey she had been looking for.

Her note went on to say that before she emailed me to ask about the monkey, she visited my blog "to see if you might have mentioned anything about the monkey being special to one of your children before I asked about it." From my blog, she discovered I was in a band, and that I had just met her husband a couple of weeks before, when my band played the music venue he owns! Given that I live in Texas, and they're in Maryland, it struck us both that this was an amazingly random coincidence of the kind that really makes you realize what a small world we live in.

Of course, I sent the monkey to her. I had to search for it, found it under the changing table, and warned her that it had probably spent at least some amount of time in my own son's mouth. For us it was just one of a gazillion stuffed animals we own and had had a brief career as a photo prop, but for her son it was a treasured childhood toy, so I was so happy to be able to help. She also ended up buying a monkey hat from me and later reported that the original monkey had lost its nose, so the replacement arrived just in time!

EtsyKids Design Challenge: It's time to Vote!

Posted Sunday, August 21, 2011

It's time to vote for your favorite item! Voting will be open through midnight EST, August 27th. This month, EtsyKids members were challenged to create an exciting new item based on a theme "In the Mood for School!". We received a bunch of fantastic entries from some talented people. Each participant was assigned a unique random number. Please note your favorite from the list below and place your vote. You can also view each entry in detail by clicking on links provided at the bottom of this post or HERE.

(If you can't view the voting poll above, please follow HERE to vote.)

  1. bebbyjumpers

  2. mylittlenuggets

  3. TriedandTrueDesigns

  4. harmonygirlsclothing

  5. TheFeltedPear

  6. kadydiddesigns

  7. sugarbumps creations

  8. tzburps

  9. aBcchildren

  10. angelswan81

  11. stewey75

  12. fabricblooms

  13. elephantsnbutterflys

  14. StoryBuilderToys

  15. My Poplin

  16. loveinbloomboutique

  17. claraclips

  18. BuggleAndBoo

  19. Tuscanycreative

  20. Ladesigns2

  21. MLarsendesigns

  22. PetalPetal

  23. bisongirl

  24. PaperTreehouseStudio

  25. craftybeever

  26. nJoyArt

  27. IrishHooksAndYarn

  28. Little Sweetie Boutique

  29. apple n amos

  30. Pink Stripe

  31. BoyGirlBoyGirlDesign

  32. kyandkin

  33. CreartivityDesigns

  34. littletadpoledesigns

  35. Mysticmoor

  36. twogreenolivetrees

  37. babeagogo

  38. thelivelybaby

  39. kendrasred

  40. Trendy Tykes

  41. AddieKaeSnaps

  42. SweeterThanSweets

  43. LittleTicket

  44. FireflyBlankets

  45. annarellagirl

  46. ducksinarowboutique

  47. mamieco

  48. monsterinthecloset

  49. hickitypickity


  51. Gumdropgrove

  52. The Pink Pixie Shop

  53. KnittyMomma

  54. SwagMags

  55. pieceofcupcake

  56. thenook

  57. DollsAndDaydreams

  58. FiestaKidsBoutique

  59. jjkgirlythings

  60. nwalkercreations

  61. Tuscanycreative

  62. stitchinnetka

  63. Jilly Bean Jar

  64. ogekko

  65. ThreeCsCustomDesigns

  66. tenderblue

  67. All Things Girly!

  68. SugarPlumFairyBows

  69. sewsonancy

  70. sunnybrookfarmdesign

Tutorial:: Summer Sponge Balls

Posted Saturday, August 20, 2011

I am so happy it's summer. Pools & water play are my Bug's favorite! She got a water table last year for her birthday and we now live at a complex with a pool! Hooray! I just made these Sponge Balls last weekend and figured today was the perfect day to give you a little how to so you can have some summer fun with them!

You will need:
Sponges {I got a pack of 3 for $1}
Dental Floss
{and an extra pair of hands would be, I just did it myself somehow!}
Here's what you do:

Cut up your sponges into strips. I did about 4 strips per sponge.

Now take a few different colored strips and pile them on top of each other. You may want to use more than I did. Mine didn't come out very full, but I didn't have enough hands to handle more by myself.

Here is where the extra set of hands come in handy. Twist them tight and tie a strand of floss around the center. I couldn't take a pic of me tying the floss and twisting since I only have 2 hands. Wish I had more some days!

Now it should look like a little sponge pom pom ball!

Throw them in a water table or a bath tub! You can also use them with older kids as water bombs and try to tag each other with them!

Brought to you by Lauren from crocheting4baby {and} Tutus & Tea Parties

Treasury Thursdays!

Posted Thursday, August 18, 2011

Enjoy this super cute EtsyKids August Leo's Step Right Up Treasury created by an EtsyKids Team member Babswool

Back to School Printable from Creative Mamma

Posted Wednesday, August 17, 2011

School is starting back up all over the nation and super talented EtsyKids team member Joy Charde, the talented lady behind Creative Mamma, created a fun Kawaii Back-to-School printable to share.

I know you'll find great ways to use this multipurpose pack ... book labels, blank cards - use them as lunch box notes or messages to the teacher, weekly homework planner, and of course bookmarks.

Print off a couple sheets of book labels, blank cards, or bookmarks, cut them up and send them in as a little surprise for your child's teacher. They will appreciated and will quickly be put to good use in the classroom.

You can find more of Joy's sweet printable designs on her website Creative Mamma, and in her shop, TheArtOfJoy.

EtsyKids Design Challenge for August: In the mood for school!

Posted Monday, August 15, 2011

Each month EtsyKids Team members are challenged to create a unique item within a chosen theme. "In the mood for school!" is our challenge for August, picked by our last month's winners Redrane and BellaSeraBoutique. We'll be featuring items such as book bags, backpacks, lunch carriers and fall fashion.

EtsyKids members will have until August 19th to submit their entries, and voting will be open to everybody from Sunday, August 21st to Saturday, August 27th. So, be sure to come back to the EtsyKids blog for a new post on the 21st to see all of the entries and VOTE! In the meantime, please click here to get a sneak peek at some exciting entries so far!

Summer Recipe: Sauteed Green Beans

Posted Thursday, August 04, 2011

When I was in college at Syracuse University, we used to eat out from time to time at a Chinese restaurant near campus. With rare exception, I always got the sauteed green beans. I loved them, and every time I’ve ordered Chinese since, I’ve looked for something similar. I never really found it.

Then, a few years ago, I picked up a recipe at the grocery store for “Green Beans Chinese-Style,” and lo and behold, there were my beloved sauteed green beans again! It’s a simple, fast recipe, and whenever I have fresh green beans (as I did from last week’s farm share), it’s the first recipe I think of.

Plus, it gets my son to eat green beans.

Sauteed Green Beans

1.5T minced fresh ginger*
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 green onions, minced**
2T dry sherry
2T sugar
2T soy sauce
2T vegetable oil
1.5 lb. green beans, trimmed, rinsed and patted dry

* I often substitute 1t ground ginger.
** If I don’t have green onions, I use a couple of tablespoons of regular onions.

In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine the ginger, garlic, green beans, onion, sherry, soy sauce, and 1T water. (Important note: don’t double the sauce. It might seem like there’s not enough, but there is. The sauce is supposed to mostly cook away and get sticky on the beans.)

Heat the oil in a wok or large skillet over high heat. Stir fry the green beans for 2 minutes. Add 2T of water and cook for another 2 minutes or until the water is evaporated. Add the sauce and stir fry for 5 more minutes or until the beans are tender. Serve over rice.

Serves 6. (Yeah right — my husband, son, and I can polish this off in one sitting!)

Enjoy! -Cori of Peace, Baby! Batiks

EtsyKids Design Challenge: We have a Winner! ( ..well two winners really)

Posted Monday, August 01, 2011

We had a tie this month. Congratulations to our two winners of Etsy Kids July Challenge
56. Little Stinker Skunk Hat - Baby to adult sizes available by Redrane!

78. Custom Boutique Crochet Tiger Hat UNISEX ANY SIZE photoprop each hat unique by BellaSeraBoutique!

Each of our winners deserves an introduction, so without further ado.....

~About Redrane
Full of vibrant color and artistic design, Redrane shop presents items such as baby slings, cozy blankets, baby hats, cute dresses with hand painted details and more. You can visit Redrane right here.

~ About Bella Sera Boutique
Bella Sera Boutique features unique hand crocheted designs, hand painted items, accessories, and graphics. It' fun, whimsical, and you can visit it right here.

Very special thanks to our Blog Captain, Inter-Blog Coordinator, EtsyKids Treasury Team Captain and all of the guest contributors for your incredible work in promoting the EtsyKids Christmas in July Event.

Thank you all.
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