Tuesday, April 22, 2014


I am a crafter, although for some reason I hate that word.  I hand make a number of things, but I just can't bring myself to say that I make "crafts". I feel that people equate that word with Popsicle sticks and macrame.  So, instead I prefer to say that I hand make "novelties and gifts" since typically the items fall into those categories.  Pretty generic enough.  A customer is buying an item which isn't life changing, or an absolute need-to-have, but they are usually convenient items that are fun and functional.  I don't often think of them as much more than that.

But then I hear the stories and that makes all the difference.

When I hear WHY a customer is buying something it turns my ordinary "novelty" into something much more than that.

Recently with the one year anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings interest in my Boston Strong items, particularly headbands, really picked up.  I know that many people were purchasing something because they planned to head into Boston on April 21st to watch in person.  But occasionally someone would include a note with their order and that made all the difference to me.  Those headbands were even more special as I packaged them up.  For example:

"A friend and I volunteered with the blanket distribution team at the Finish Line last year.  We'll be again this year and can't wait to be wearing these snazzy headbands"
She was there.  She witnessed the chaos and tragedy.  And she was heading back there again, undeterred.

"I'm running the marathon in a couple of weeks and I hope to wear this!!"

"We just walked away from shopping and walked around the corner of the first bomb when we heard the first bomb.  My son finished almost 2 hrs. before."
I have no words for this.

But it is not just the Boston Strong items that bring forth stories.  Just this week I started work on a custom order for a woman who recently lost her grandmother.  She wanted some accessories for her children to wear to the memorial service that represented the grandmother's favorite flower, the daffodil.
I actually felt pressure trying to find a print that would work for this project and I do think I managed to find an ideal selection.  I finished the bow ties last night and posted a picture to my Facebook page.

The customer saw it and commented that they were "perfect".  Knowing the significance behind the request made this project that much more important to me.  Her story made these bow ties more than just a novelty or a craft.  It made my work something more than that.  I suppose now I can say that I make "novelties, gifts and memories."

Thank you for letting me be a part of your story.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Previously unpublished post! Holiday Baking - I got this

After I posted a small entry this morning I noticed I had something still in my draft folder.  I was a bit shocked to find this entry that I started back in December!  Apparently the holiday rush hit be a little harder than anticipated and I never got to finish this.  So, here it is...months later, but maybe you can refer back to it in 8 months when planning your holiday baking!

December 21, 2013

So, after my brief freak out about Christmas approaching way too fast, I decided I needed to get my bake on. Each year I like to make a small basket of goodies for our neighbors and the executives that I support at work. I think this year I had 21 people/families on my list.  I was already planning to go in late on Wednesday because of the holiday program at my son's school, so why not just take the whole day and get everything cranked out at once.  Boy I am glad that I did!  Now, I did start some of these on Tuesday night because I like to cool the truffles overnight if I can, but I was definitely busy in the kitchen all day and night when I wasn't visiting my son at school (twice that day)!

Since I posted a picture of my goodies on Facebook (natch), I got a few inquiries into the recipes.  Here is a snapshot of everything together:

So from the top left: Chocolate double peppermint bark and white chocolate bark; Cinnamon sugar almonds
Center: Chocolate peppermint cookies; Butter spritz cookies drizzled with chocolate
Bottom: Oreo balls; Raspberry chocolate truffles.

Now, I debated putting recipes out there because it's embarrassing at how easy they all are, but I will share anyway.  The most time consuming thing is rolling the truffles into balls, otherwise so easy!!

Peppermint Bark
Adapted from Betty Crocker
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Standing time: 1 hour

  • 1 package (12 oz) Giradelli white chocolate morsels OR Nestle Dark Chocolate and Mint Morsels (or other mint flavored chocolate pieces)
  • 1 box of mini peppermint candy canes
  • Cover cookie sheet with waxed paper or aluminum foil.
  • Heat chocolate morsels in the microwave or over a double boiler.  If microwaving, start at 2 minutes, then stir until smooth.  Candy will retain it's shape until mixed around.  White chocolate has a very thin line between melted and overcooked.  If not entirely melted, microwave for 30 seconds at a time. .
  • Using a food processor or Magic Bullet, pulverize half of the candy canes into a fine powder.  Put the other half in a plastic bag and crush with rolling pin or bottom of small heavy saucepan. Pour crushed candies into wire strainer.  
  • Stir coating to mix evenly.
  • Spread coating evenly on cookie sheet.  Sprinkle evenly with remaining candy pieces.  Let stand about 1 hour or until cool and hardened.  Break into pieces.

Butter Spritz Cookies
From: Instructions that came with the cookie press
Yield: 6 – 7 dozen cookies

  • 1 ½ cups (3 sticks) Margarine or butter, softened
  • 1 cup  Sugar
  • 1Egg
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • 3 ½ cups Flour
  • Pre-heat oven to 375ยบ
  • Beat butter on medium until creamy
  • Add sugar, egg & vanilla; beat well
  • Add flour, 1 cup at a time.
  • Dough will be soft.  DO NOT REFRIGERATE.
  • Press 1” apart on cookie sheet using cookie press
  • Bake 10-12 minutes or until firm but not brown
  • Cool 2 minutes and transfer to cooling rack.

  • 8 ounces softened cream cheese or whipped cream cheese
  • 18 ounce package of Oreo cookies, crushed
  • 2 cups semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon shortening

  •  Mix cream cheese with electric mixer until fluffy. Add the crushed Oreos and beat on high until well mixed.
  • Chill for at least 2 hours in the freezer. Then roll Oreo cookie mix into one inch Oreo Balls.
  • Melt the chocolate chips and shortening with a double boiler or in the microwave.
  • Dip the Oreo balls completely into the melted chocolate using tongs or a toothpick.
  • Put on wax paper. After the Oreo balls harden, keep them in the refrigerator.
  • Makes about 3 or 4 dozen Oreo Balls, depending on the size

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 3 minutes
Chilling time: 1 hour
Yield: 4 dozen

  • 1 (14-ounce) can eagle brand sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated milk)
  • ¼ cup raspberry liqueur
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 2 tablespoons seedless raspberry jam
  • 2 (12-ounce) packages semisweet chocolate morsels
  • Coatings:  confectioners sugar, colored sugar, finely chopped walnuts, nonpareils, chopped coconut

  • Microwave first 4 ingredients in a large microwave-safe bowl at high 3 minutes.
  • Stir in chocolate morsels until smooth. Cover and chill 1 hour.
  • Shape mixture by tablespoonfuls into balls, and roll in coatings

See previous blog posts for the Slow Cooker Cinnamon Sugar Nuts and Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

So, that was what I made for my food gifts in 2013.  Now it has me thinking about what to do this year!

Little notes

I love getting notes from customers letting me know why they have chosen a particular item from my shop. It's fun to hear that a headband is perfect for their daughter who loves sparkly things, or a key fob really shows off their friend's personality, or that they plan on wearing a Joatmon Creation for a special occasion. Last night I received an order from a woman who volunteered at the Boston Marathon finish line last year and she is planning to be back there again in two weeks, wearing the Boston Strong headband she was purchasing from me. Even though I am not going to watch the ‪#‎Marathon‬ in person, I feel like a little part of me will be there.