Monday, June 25, 2012

New Owl Fabric Snack Bag

I found some new fabric recently that I fell in love with - Bright Owl by Alice Kennedy for Timeless Treasures Fabrics.  "Hoo" knew this owl trend would be so poplular?  I certainly knew owls were ridiculously cute when the trend started, and that feeling hasn't changed.  But honestly, owls are everywhere!

It's funny to think owls had a huge trend back in the 70s, when I was born!  I remember my mom always having this super cute little hand carved wooden owl that sat in the kitchen windowsill. You can find a collection of adorable vintage owls at The Owl Lady's shop on Etsy.

Anyway, I decided to sew some new reusable snack bags with my new owl fabric.  I just listed them in my shop where you can check them out.  I've already had an order for one, so the trend must still be alive!

Look at those cute owls!!!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Scrumptious Scones with Fresh Local Strawberries

One of my favourite times of the year is here - fresh Ontario strawberries are in season!

There is nothing like a freshly picked, ripe strawberry - so red, sweet and juicy!  I have such memories of picking strawberries in the fields when I was a kid - burning hot sun, mosquito bites and toads hiding under the plants (to which I have a ridiculous phobia of).  But on the bright side, there was an endless supply of fresh berries to pop in your mouth as you worked.

Strawberry season was one of my grandpa's favourite times of the year as well.  He loved those fresh berries.  He appreciated every day of the season as he devoured bowl after bowl.  It helped that his wife, my grandma, was an excellent baker and found a way to put strawberries into just about everything.  Her strawberry pie was to die for!

I want to share with you my new favourite way to enjoy fresh local stawberries - on top of warm scones with homemade strawberry jam and whipped cream!
I make these scones quite often.  My family LOVES them!  I don't know their true origin.  Many years ago, we had friends over for brunch and one friend brought them with her.  They were delicious and I had to have the recipe immediately.  Thankfully, she passed it along.  They are perfect with a cup of tea, for breakfast or an afternoon treat!  I make the cheese variation throughout the winter to have with our vegetarian chili and soups.  Yum yum!

Scones with Currants
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp granulated sugar
2-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup cold butter, cubed
1/2 cup currants
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg, lightly beaten

In large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Using pastry blender or two knives, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Stir in currants.
- add buttermilk all at once, stirring with fork to make soft, slightly sticky dough.
- with lightly floured hands, press dough into ball.  On lightly floured surface, knead gently 10 times.
- pat out dough in 3/4 inch thick round.
- cut into 8 equal triangles or use a round cutter and cut into circles.  Place on ungreased baking sheet.
- Brush tops of scones with egg.  Bake in 425 F (220 C) oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden. 

Dried Fruit and Lemon Scones: Substitue 1/2 cup raisins, dried blueberries, dried cranberries, chopped dried cherries, apricots or prunes for currants.  Add 2 tsp grated lemon rind to dry mixture.
Cheese Scones: Omit sugar and currants.  Add 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper to flour mixture.  Add 1 cup shredded old Cheddar cheese after butter has been cut in.
Cutting the butter in
Leave those lovely chunks of butter
Add your currants
Add the buttermilk
Mix with a fork
After kneading, pat into a round
See the bubbling butter?  Such a good thing!

My husband and I load our scones up with everything - our homemade jam, whipped cream and fresh berries.  Sometimes we have them with lemon curd, instead of jam.

Little L's preference - only whipped cream!

Little V's preference - only jam!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Pepper Picnic Reaches New Zealand!

This little business of mine just keeps getting more and more exciting!  I shipped off my first order to New Zealand today!  So incredibly exciting for me! 

While my husband and I were living in Australia, we were fortunate enough to take a trip to New Zealand's South Island.  We toured the Island in a super ghetto campervan.  This was our first campervan trip and it was amazing!  We have since toured the Canadian Rockies in a campervan.  We can't wait to do another trip like these with the girls.  They will LOVE travelling in a campervan.  It's just so much fun!
Look at the hot steamy breakfast you can make once you fold up your bed and turn it into a table!
Our trip began in Christchurch, where we flew in and out of.  It is such a beautiful city.  From there we heading to the mountains, through Arthur's Pass.  I loved this tiny little town.  We did our fist hike here and it was our first time seeing and touching snow since we had left Canada a year and a half prior.
We then made our way to the Tasman Sea, and then followed the coast South to Franz Josef Glacier.  It was a beautiful sight.  So different from most glaciers because it's so close to sea level.  You can hike to it in a relatively short amount of time and once you are there, you can actually get close and personal with it.  It may be roped off now, it has been 8 years!  It was advised that you not actually climb it unless you were with a guide and in crampons.  Still, we were able to explore it enough without having either of those.

 You can actually see the carved steps in the glacier above.

From there we made our way to Queenstown - an incredibly beautiful town, despite it's high volume of tourists.  Any cute town on the water, surrounded by mountains, is truly my dream town!  Queenstown is known as a resort town and I believe it is also referred to as the Adventure Capital of The World. Thrill seekers have endless options for spending their money here!

That's a pretty big kiwi bird!
Instead of taking the famous Skyline Gondola to the top of Bob's Peak to enjoy the panoramic views of the city we decided to hike the Tiki Trail to the summit and then take the easy ride down on the gondola.  It actually got pretty cold the closer we got to the summit.

The ride down.
Our next big destination was Milford Sound.  We stopped along the way in Te Anau, another beautiful little town, where we managed to fit in some great hikes.  The hiking trails are endless in New Zealand.  It was awesome to have so many choices all the time!

Words cannot describe Milford sound.  It is literally breathtaking.

We spent the day on the water kayaking.

We had a long drive back to civilization (civilization for New Zealand).  Milford Sound is very isolated.  Our last big stop before flying home from Christchurch was Aoraki/Mount Cook, the largest and highest peak in New Zealand.  It's a pretty neat place to be if you have any appreciation for mountaineering.  Since we have been there they have built a Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre which looks pretty amazing.  

With the little time we had, we started the hike to Mount Cook but given our time restraint we barely even made it to the first hut before we had to turn around.  Maybe one day we will make it back here and do a full-on climb to the top!

What's a trip to New Zealand without a few photos of sheep?!  These sheep dogs (I think they were Border Collies) were amazing!  The heard of sheep were on the mountains in the middle of no where and along comes this farmer with his dogs to round them up and move them to another pasture.  The farmer stood by his truck while communicating with his dogs by whistling.  They truly do all the work, and they do it very well!  I grew up on a sheep farm and this was nothing like I had seen before.  I was very impressed with this farmer and his dogs!

I hope my little reusable snack bags cover even more of New Zealand than I did!  It`s a beautiful country filled with wonderful, friendly Kiwis!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Fox Themed Birthday Party Favors

Is this fabric not the cutest?!

I just sent off an order of 12 reusable snack bag party favors, made with this fabric, for a little boy's fox themed birthday party.  What a cute idea!

This fabric always makes me want to pack up and head out camping.  Ohhh, a camping themed birthday party, that would be so much fun!  Maybe next year?