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Click on the image to link to The Purl Bee's website and tutorial. We heart these!!

If you're anything like a few of us in The Pantry, you love a good coffee!  Sadly, for me the days of receiving a lovely flat white in a ceramic cup or mug are but a distant memory, living as I do now, in this part of the world (in fact even after looking all over Manhattan, I still haven't managed to find those giant cups Rachel used to serve at The Central Perk?!).  Instead, I am served up my brew in a thin paper cup and, if I am lucky, also receive a (recycled) cardboard holder.
When I saw these sweet felt cup cosies on The Purl Bee's fabulous site, I was instantly sold - and keen to source some colourful felt to start sewing some!   They would make a perfect hostess or teacher gift, perhaps with a gift voucher to your favourite coffee house.  The tutorial is wonderful - and they have plenty of other fantastic, crafty ideas on the site.  Even for a novice like myself, they do look sew easy!!
Nikki xx

 
 

We recently came across this very clever idea for inside a kitchen cupboard - a great way to utilise space in smaller kitchens too!  They created a vinyl transfer with common cooking measurement conversions as well as a holder for all your measuring spoons.  From Infarrantly Creative, with transfers available from their friends at Say It On The Wall.

 
 

Just a spoonful of sugar and a few of our favourite things from the very creative and super chic- Milk and Honey Collection...Pop into etsy and day dream, or purchase something special from Milk and Honey xo 
(See below for a few of their lovely things)

'Good morning!

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Click here for the lovely Sarah's Etsy Store
Now that it's 9am here on the east coast I have finished my first cup of coffee and am feeling a little more human (that lost hour of sleep from daylight savings time has really messed with me this year!)
First of all thank you so much for writing about me and etsy in general. I'm still relatively new to it, but I just love that there's a place where you can find literally ANYthing you're looking to buy and all of it is by handmade small businesses. If i spent half as much time listing items as I do drooling over all the offerings, I'd probably be even busier with my shop.

Best, Sarah'

Brunswick Stew

Here is one of my favorite recipes. It's Brunswick Stew, which one claim says actually originated here in Virginia, in Brunswick Country (though nearly every southern state has tried to lay claim to it). The original recipe calls for squirrel meat, but I don't think anyone makes it that way anymore (or at least I really hope they don't!). I usually make an enormous pot of this on the first really cold fall day and serve it with a side of cornbread. Here's the recipe I use: 
Pantry must haves:
~1 3-pound Chicken, cut into pieces (I use one of the rotisserie ones you can find already cooked at the grocery store)
~ 6-8 cups chicken broth
~1 cup chopped onions
~ 1/2 cup diced celery
~ 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
~ 1 16-ounce can tomatoes, drained
~1 10-ounce package frozen butter beans (or lima beans)
~2 cups diced potatoes
~1 16-ounce can shoepeg corn
~ 1/4 cup of catsup
~2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
~ 1 tablespoons sugar
~ 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
~ 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce (tabasco)
~ 2-3 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
~2 tablespoons butter
Directions:
  1. Place the chicken in a large heavy pot, with a tight fitting lid; cover with broth. 
  2. Bring to a boil and add next 4 ingredients; cover and reduce heat to low.
  3.  Cook for 1 hour or until chicken is tender (if I use the rotisserie chicken this part is easy). 
  4. Remove chicken pieces and skim off fat. 
  5. Cool chicken to handle and cut into bite sized pieces. Return chicken pieces to broth; add tomatoes and next 5 ingredients and cook for 20 minutes. 
  6. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serves 6-8. 
NOTES: 
When I make this in the summer I use fresh veggies instead of canned/frozen. But it's such a great winter dish that I usually don't have fresh on hand. 
Now I've made myself hungry, off to the kitchen to graze!

I need, I want & I must have... 

love kate xo



& all cakes need forks!

 
 

Is it just us? Do you struggle with the idea of the party bags? It is apparent that a child can't attend a party without ultimately coming home with some piece of crap (not sure what worse the McDonald's toy the party bag of rubbish)! 
PS I'm a guilty cheap party bag creator! 

So here are  a few clever party bag ideas xoxo

Recycle: hide something special in a unique party bag that can be re-used!
Click on photos below to link with their creators
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If you still like the idea of a bag, get your little birthday boy or girl to design their own, using brown paper bags and create fun tags (check out Michaels for supplies)
A great way to theme your bags and other party items and save on $ is to use 'printables' ...check out the fabulous range at SimoneMadeIt

Make something special- Place your creation in a clear plastic bag, tie with a ribbon and you're done...

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Click here for recipe
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Click here for the POP, HOW TO...

Step outside the BOX for something homemade and truly original

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Make some Paint- Click here for the recipe
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A Jar of Playdough- From our Aussie Baker at CP xo
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Create Crayons- Click on the above
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Make your own chalk- Click here to connect with Mad Maggie Designs
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Bubble Up- click above
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Make your own Lip Gloss (Meet the Dublins)- Click on the above
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OR Slime it up- Click here to connect with Domestic Charm
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I SPY....Click here to connect with counting coconuts

OR Purchase something USEFUL with love Nikki

Beach toys - always getting lost at the beach so you can never have enough.  Perfect for summer parties.
Sports Equipment - great for sports themed parties - check out Walmart or Target for specials as low as $5 per ball.
Gift Cards - even low denominations such as $2 or $5 to kid friendly stores are probably more cost effective.
Comic books- lots of fun and encourages reading!

Treasures are always GOOD xo

Today, among school notices, crumpled artwork and graded homework, I found a real TREASURE.  My youngest daughter (6) brought home from Kindergarten a beautiful old Chinese coin tied onto a simple red string.  One of her Chinese classmates brought the necklaces in for all of the Kindergarteners as a Chinese New Year gift.  It is truly one of the most lovely and simple things I have ever seen.  After 11 years of my children bringing home junky goody bags, plastic gifts with purchases and a thousand other tacky and useless freebies, this simple coin necklace was like discovering a tiny piece of fine art. STACEY xo
The Organised Housewife
Chubby Cheeks Thinks
 
 

Pooh's Honey POT
makes a  fabulous cookie jar 

Some Handy tips from the Real Martha xo

Soft Cookies
If you prefer soft cookies, slightly underbake them. In most instances, simply substituting brown sugar for some or all of the granulated sugar in the recipe will produce softer cookies because it contains more moisture.

Crisp Cookies
If you prefer crisp cookies, try using egg whites in place of some of the whole eggs called for in the recipe. You can restore the crisp texture of a cookie that may have softened by heating at 300 degrees for about 10 minutes.


Source: Martha 

This cool little POT can be found at...

 
 

Tea or nibbles?
Tea cups have many uses.
 
the tea cup Recipe
Pop into grandma's, your local flea market or Op shop! 
They don't have match. Quirky is so in!
Add a few nibbles, pour a cocktail and enjoy your company xo 

 
 
Okay, I know one of The Pantry's first rules for surviving December is to BUY LOCAL, but shopping online at the Etsy store is probably the next best thing.  For the uninitiated, etsy is a wonderful online shopping destination that has been described as ..."a crafty cross between Amazon, eBay, and your grandma's basement'.  It is the perfect place to shop at this time of year as there are no scary mall carparks to brave, no tacky gimmicks luring you into stores, no dreadful and deafening carols, and you can 'visit' from the comfort of home - ie in your pyjamas!

As most items are either handmade, homemade or vintage you can feel good in the knowledge that not only are you are supporting local artisans, you are ALSO helping to save the planet!  A word of warning though: enter etsy.com at your own risk as you can get caught up in there for hours...!

So...we have saved you a bit of time and rounded up a few of our favourite finds for foodie friends and family on etsy.  Happy shopping!
[Click on the images to go directly to the etsy page]

 
 
I still remember my grade school Christmas show when we belted out the tune "It's a Marshmallow World."  Yeah, I know it's probably on your list of top 10 Christmas songs of all time (has anyone ever heard of it?!).  

Cue the music!
It's a Marshmallow World in the Winter
When the Snow Comes to Cover the Ground
It's a Time for Play
It's a Whipped Cream Day
I Wait for it the Whole Year Round ...
Sorry, got sidetracked in my grade school memories!  So anyway - I decided to do a marshmallow wonderland and make this fabulously delicious looking wreath!  My girls love s'mores so I attached a few skewers with a clothes line (love that it looks like butchers twine) I found at my old standby - the Dollar Store.

So easy - all you need are large marshmallows (I used four bags), small marshmallows (just a few handfuls), toothpicks, a white foam wreath form (mine was 16") and a ribbon for hanging.  Tie the ribbon in a double knot around the wreath, poke in a toothpick then put a marshmallow on top and continue until you've covered the whole form.  The best part was this only took about 1/2 hour.  Love me a simple craft!  When you're done, just pop it in the fridge to harden a bit.  You may want to keep this wreath inside so the critters don't get to it!


Check out Eclectically Vintage to see this and more amazing wreaths (from cups, corks, cookie cutters, clothespins, cards - oh my ...) plus unique decorating, cool vintage finds, one of a kind tablescapes and simple crafts.  It's a party!
 
 
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And while we're on the subject of afternoon tea (one of my favourite topics!) check out these sweet cake stands by Olivia Rae James - handmade from vintage china plates and crystal candle holders.

See Olivia's Etsy store and also check out her beautiful website/blog, Everyday Musings :http://www.olivia-rae.com/

 
 
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We think these gorgeous lace doilies are perfect for making your afternoon teas (or cakes) extra special...the bonus - they are completely edible!!

Made by Sweetdejavu a cute company based in Utah.  Check out their Etsy store for more details.
Nikki xx