Thank you, Banana Bread, and A Few Details

My go-to recipe, Heather's Banana Bread. It's by far the best I've tried. I make it at least once a week, and it always gets devoured. I double it, which makes three large loaves. It's wonderful on it's own, but I add a little cinnamon and vanilla, because I love spice! And substitutes for the dairy work great.

May I take a moment to thank you all for your kind words? I love reading your comments, and appreciate your support of my blog more than I'm able to express. Regarding my woven fence post from Monday, some of you have emailed me with questions. Here are a few more details:
  • The posts are about 2-3 inches in circumference which I cut to about 3 feet in length.
  • I dug the holes about 9-12 inches with a small post hold digger, then buried the posts with just dirt.
  • The rails are fresh-cut, green branches that were still pliable. Fallen branches would be too brittle to bend and mold.
  • I have since tied the branches to the posts with garden twine, just to stabilize it a bit more.
  • The finished fence is only about 1-2 feet tall, just enough to keep my critters at bay.
Wishing you all a wonderful day!


Woven Fence

A few weeks ago I started a new little herb patch in a little corner of my garden. I needed some fencing to keep critters out, the two, four and three-legged ones :).

My neighbors accross the street had several trees they were trimming, so I took the branches. It's not the greatest or prettiest of wattle fences, but it was free and it's functional. Doesn't get much better than that for me. The seeds and starts I planted a few weeks ago have nearly doubled in size, so the fence is obviously working.

There are several pictures and tutorials online, just do a google search for "woven" or "wattle" fence. I didn't follow any instructions, I didn't measure anything, I just started digging holes, cutting branches and weaving everything together. It sort of took on an organic shape of it's own, and I'm happy with that.


Can I Have a Re-do?

I cringe when I read my interview from my Etsy feature last fall. I was still such a fledgeling little shop owner and crafter back then, I wish I had had more time to grow as an artist and crafter before I was chosen to be featured. Since that time I've grown and developed so much and it hasn't even been a year. I still don't concider myself an expert or seasoned shop owner, more of a crafter in her teenage state, but still so much has changed and I wish I could re-do my interview. Had I the opportunity, I would most like to change my answers for Advice to other Etsy shop owners:

1. Turn the flash off your cameras. You may have to best item, but if you have that flash turned on, it makes it look plain homemade and cheap.

2. Don't be afraid to be original and take risks! Discover who you are, and BE yourself, confidently. That's what makes Etsy shops successful.

3. Don't imitate other shops. If there's something you like, use it as inspiration and make it your own, rather than copying it. When you are a copier, you'll always be at least one step behind someone else. And you just won't flourish.

4. In my particular area of crafting, expect to spend a minimum of $10K before making a profit. I'm still not making a profit from my shop. Everything I make, I put back into my shop to improve my products and packaging. I'm not willing to make that type of investment, so I'm happy with my shop in it's current state, but I can only go so far until I make that investment. Mothering my children is far more important in my life than expanding my business right now. Making that type of investment, for me, would mean being less of a Mother.

5. Unless you make that $10K investment, don't expect to make a living off Etsy.

6. Find your marketing niche. What's comfortable for you? What's easy for you? I have two areas of comfort that have added great richness to my life, and in turn have helped me grow as a shop owner. First, I LOVE giving things away! And I don't just give things away in hopes that it will bring a sale. I just really love giving things away! Even to people I know will never buy my products. There's just something so rewarding with being generous with the small luxuries I create. And it may eventually bring business my way, which is always nice, but I cerainly don't expect it. If you give things away with the expectation of making money, it isn't sincere and just won't be received the same way. Sort of like a cheesy cars salesman trying to push something on you. Secondly, developing friendships online has added greatly to the quality of my life. It's been a wonderful thing for me to find kindred spirits online, and develop friendships with other artists and crafters via Etsy, Flickr, Big Cartel, etc. Pen-pals have been awesome! My friends support my work, and I support their work. And we all recommend and refer each other, it's a great circle of friendship that we all benefit from.

7. Start a blog. This has been (and still is) an area where I need development. I'm not confident in my writing skills, which keeps me from blogging more often. But the longer and more often I blog, the more confident I feel. It's also much easier for me to open up online. In person, I tend to be quiet and shy. A lot of people I know in person still have no idea that I run a successful Etsy shop.

Really, out of all of these words of advie, finding and being myself has been the most rewarding and beneficial aspects of my life, and in turn my shop. I'm still discovering who I am, and I hope I never stop finding out what my potential is.

Long live creativity!


Pumpkin Seeds

I'm not sure what happened to the post I did last week regarding these seeds. I hope my blog hasn't been hacked. Long story short, I dried and saved some certified organic pumpkin, gourd and squash seeds last fall, and have a lot left over. If you'd like some, leave a comment and I'll send you some. I know a few of you already left a comment, and I remember who you are, just send me your address to ambermek@yahoo.com.
Happy Monday, friends.


My Little Kitchen

It's my least favorite room in my home. Not because of it's small size. No, I rather prefer small and cozy. It's that it's smack dab in the middle of the house, with non-existent natural lighting. And the orange faux-wood counter tops just don't do it for me. Neither do the Home Depot Special vinyl covered cupboards. Or the electric oven. Or the 1981 laminate flooring. Or the fluorescent lighting.

But oh! If I could have a new sink with two little windows above it that open outside! And a wood/ gas cook stove. And this chandelier. And some wood or tile or granite counter tops. It can even be really small, and I'd be a happy camper.

But alas, it's a perfectly functional kitchen. Everything is complete, and working, and tidy. And really, aside from aesthetics, there's no reason to change anything. A fiscal investment of that magnitude wouldn't be a responsible move for us to make in this home, that we really don't plan on staying in forever. So for now, I'll have to just keep dreaming, waiting and planning for when it's time to build our dream home.


Some Sun, Finally

It's actually sunny today! A novel thing here in Seattle as of late. I'm spending the day outside with my gang. Some seeds going in the ground today:

Lemon Balm
More Carrots
~Just to name a few :)

Enjoy your day, my friends.


Old Windows, Part Two

Remember a little bit ago my post on greenhouses and structures made from old windows? And how I've been collecting ones I find for free on Craigslist in hopes of building one someday?

I put together my first cold frame a couple weeks ago, over some carrot seeds I had just planted. Burl was outside with me, barefoot of course, helping. Just as I was leaning the windows together, some paint chipped off and fell to the soil right next to his sweet, chubby little foot. Light bulb!!! Lead poisoning!

These old windows come from old, old homes, and most likely are treated with lead paint. I can't have that in my garden. So all those windows I've collected immediately took a new location, the furthest spot on our property from the garden. I don't know what I'll do now. That lead paint is bad bad stuff, and I no longer want anything to do with those windows. I don't know why I didn't think of it before. I still LOVE the look and idea of those greenhouses though, so I'm not quite ready to get rid of them.

I've considered sanding the paint off. But still, I'd have to deal with the lead, and where would I dispose of it? I won't use any chemical strippers, so that 's out of the question. Another concern I have is the glass itself, which also is leaded. Who knows if there is a potential for lead to seep out into the environment just from the glass alone. I don't want to be the one to test it.

Any thoughts friends?


The Last of Last Year's Crop

This year's carrots need to seriously start growing faster. Of all that I grow, carrots are by far one of Burl's favorite. I absolutely love providing him with food that he can eat straight from the ground. And I love that he can just go out to the garden whenever he wants, and pick a snack. We only have a few carrots left in the ground that I'm trying to ration, but the sweet little boy begs for a carrot at least once a day. And he specifically requests that I not rinse them, because he prefers the taste of the dirt :).

One of my favorite ways to prepared carrots goes a little something like this:

Ginger Glazed Carrots

Sliced carrots into 1-2 inch pieces (I leave the peels on)
1 clove chopped garlic
1 teaspoon chopped fresh ginger
the juice of two oranges
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 C water
4 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cumin
salt and pepper
Bake at 400 degrees until tender, about 30 minutes.