Blog Fav: First Day of School

by Emily on September 9, 2012

There’s nothing more exciting, nerve-racking and emotional as the first day of school!  I have just adored the little chalkboard notes commemorating the start of a first or another school year.  I remember a few of the photos that my parents took and am looking forward to starting a tradition of our own!

Jessica from Somewhat Simple has some beautiful shots and suggestions for this time of year and capturing it all.  Check it out…

There are so many cute ideas on Pinterest too!  Here’s one involving future careers…

I hope you enjoyed your school year beginning or are trying to calm a sleepless little one as they prep for the big day this upcoming week!

images via Somewhat Simple & Pinterest

 

 

 

 

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Mo’s Summer Olympics

by Andrea on September 5, 2012

A few weeks ago, we celebrated Mo’s second birthday.  I still can’t believe the little man is two, but there you have it, and it was time to party.  This year, in honor of all of the London festivities, I decided to go with a Summer Olympic theme.  Athletic uniforms was encouraged, international treats and brew were enjoyed, and sporting events were accomplished.  Oh, and we had cake and blew out some candles.  Here are some of my favorite details.

The invitation was the Olympic torch sending out the welcome to our fellow athletes. Here are the front and back of the invitation.

The torch also welcomed guests at the door.

The food was primarily treats from around the world with little food labels indicating their origin. And yes, I made the spanakopita.  After the first two layers, I was really regretting this filo adventure, but then I got into a good groove and it was delicious!

One of my favorite elements as a beer lover was for the older kids – the Beer Olympiad featuring beer from around the world.

Next up we had sporting events that included sailing, badminton, jump roping, hula hoop, and corn hole.

Finally, we mustn’t forget the Olympic rings.  I made Olympic rings both for decoration and for the birthday cake.

And in case you are wondering, Mo went as a Greek wrestler.  I had way too much fun making his uniform and getting him into it.

All in all, as his thank you cards say, birthdays with friends and family rock! Mo had a blast, and it was fun celebrating him.

Enjoy!

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Welcome back and hello to September!

I don’t know about you, but it was hard for me to wake up Saturday morning and see Sept 1 on my alarm clock.  Seemed like yesterday that Andrea put up the post that we needed a little summer R&R.  But alas, here we are and ready for some more Our Little Gems fun!

While I spent yesterday re-organizing the garage, packing away summer plastic dinnerware and trying to get a handle on the days of fall around the corner, I will admit I am a bit sad.  But the fall will also bring some exciting changes for us all and therefore I’m just going head-on to try to embrace them.  Andrea doesn’t consider summer over until the end of September but I fall to the public K-12 school schedule and am looking 36+ fresh faces in the eye very soon.  Sorry if I’m jumping into the “fall mode” too soon!

After a couple of OLG talks over August, we do have some news to share.  We have decided to adjust our format and schedule.  We have realized that although we find great creative strength in what we do here, we both have some exciting adventures (an awesome running store, a wee one on the way, our adorable kiddo’s and then those “other” jobs) that need some additional attention.  To balance them out, we have decided to maintain the Bit & Bob we ♥ on Monday and the Blog Fav on Friday but our only other post of the week will be Wednesday with some creative endeavor, local/world-ly adventure, or really, really important gem to share!

We’re also looking forward to sharing some of the summer fun that filled our late July and August!  Stay tuned for some info on camping, family time, crafty little projects and more!

Thanks to those who wondered where we went!  It was nice to see that someone reads us!  🙂

image via etsy

All the best,

 

 

 

 

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Summer Vacation

by Andrea on July 27, 2012

UPDATE: …. and apparently Summer is too good to not be fully relished. So our two week vacation has turned to five, and we’ll be back with more goodies on September 3.  We still have some last minute Summer to squeeze in!  What you may ask?  There will likely be farm animals and berry picking in Pip and Mo’s near future (tomorrow).

Summer is here, and before it slips away from us, we are going to sign off from Our Little Gems for the next two weeks for a little bloggy vacation.  We wish lots of popsicles, sand between your toes, reading in hammocks, cups of sweet tea, and anything else that screams Summer to you!

See you soon!

image via Etsy

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Berry Butter

by Emily on July 26, 2012

I have to thank Pioneer Woman for giving me some creative ideas for an upcoming Family weekend.  Our little family is in charge of the Saturday morning breakfast and given 7+ years experience working in a Bed & Breakfast through high school and college, I think I had too many ideas floating in my head.  We’ve opted for a French Toast morning with some traditional breakfast sides for the 30 attendees.  But it was Pioneer Woman’s cookbook that got me thinking about how I could make this a wee bit different!

Berry Butter…yep, that’s how it’s going to be a little more special.  I’ve never made a fruit berry (done honey butter & jalapeno butter) before and I have to say I’m super excited for breakfast still one week away!

So here are the easy peasy tips:  Soften 2 sticks of butter then put in a mixer and whip up real good until light and fluffy!  Then add your berries (here I added about a cup of raspberries) and let them break down just a bit, but not too much because you don’t want a completely pink butter mush.

Here’s what the butter looks like once the mixing is done.  Lay it on a piece of plastic wrap with a piece of foil underneath it.  Wrap up into a log shape with the plastic wrap and then do it again with the foil really squeezing the ends so that it makes a tight log wrap.

For flavor #2, I went with blackberries, again using 2 soften sticks of butter!  Looks so yummy to me.

Then wrap and roll!  I’m going to freeze these logs until closer to the big french toast date!  I’ll leave them out overnight to soften so the family can enjoy a slice on top of their toast.

This was super-duper quick, and I started thinking of some other ideas for berry butter like muffins, crepes, pancakes, scones or just plain old toast.  Wouldn’t this jazz up your morning routine?

Having not tasted this yet, I’ll let you know how the review goes.  I did have to remind myself that I was whipping up butter and not frosting because it looked so light and fluffy.  I was so tempted to take a little taste but then I reminded myself…this is butter!  Darn.

Have any good breakfast side ideas that would go along with this?

 

 

 

 

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Preserve, Pickle & Can

by Emily on July 25, 2012

This summer I really wanted to tackle a little kitchen goal of mine to learn to preserve, pickle & can.  Now August is approaching and I’m starting to worry that it might not be in my near future.  That’s okay….there’s always next summer.  My Mom made jam when we were growing up and I’ve fallen in love with the pickles that my in-laws make so I determined to learn one of these times!

When we purchased our little fixer-upper home, there was even a canning storage room.  Well, I decided to turn it into my craft cave and add some height to the tiny little jar sized shelving instead.  I don’t regret this decision but it certainly makes sense when these older homes don’t really have a lot of pantry space.

My MIL purchased this book for us to share and she’s done some great things with it.  There are so many super yummy ideas in here and things that I never even thought could be stuffed into a can to preserve for the year!

I know the canning thing is a new fad around the city because classes are popping up everywhere, which is a good thing, don’t get me wrong!  I think it’s probably a quiet art that is not yet dead but as people are planting and harvesting their own gardens, they are also thinking about how they can preserve their harvest throughout the year.  Here are a few places in the Seattle area that offer classes:

Fresh Picked Seattle:  Offer a variety of classes on canning & preserving, as well as other things like knife skills, cheese making, etc.

Seattle Can Can: Run by a Food Preservation Enthusiast, they offer both beginning and advanced courses for canning.  Their site is great for inspiration for things that you can put in those lovely mason jars!

I’ve also heard that several of the local Community Colleges, Whole Foods, PCC Natural Markets & Sur La Table have also offered classes on this topic in their school/store locations.

I hope that this helps if this is also on your to-do list this summer!

image via Amazon

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I’m sure you have heard of microfinance organizations that are making big changes with small amounts of money all around the world.  But have you heard of Vittana that is taking microfinance principles into the global field of student loans?  The US and a handful of countries are the only locations were the concept of student loans even exist.  For the millions of students that live outside these countries, getting an education is basically impossible as they don’t have access to funds to pay for the school related expenses.  Vittana was not okay with that and created a tool for everyday people like you and me to become micorfinanciers and help students get an education.  Pretty awesome, right?

That means that you can take $25 or any other amount of your hard earned money and loan it to a hand selected prospective and eager student of your choosing.  Once they are done with school, they will pay it back.  They will, 99.8% of the time.  And then, you get to invest your money again in another student selected by you. Lather, wash, repeat. Just think what a difference your investment will make, over and over and over and over again.  It’s remarkable really.

I have a particular interest in Vittana because from the get go, they were on the ground in Nicaragua helping connect students will school loans and educational opportunities.  I have a tremendous soft spot in my heart for Nicaragua and have been following this organization ever since. It doesn’t hurt that they are based in Seattle, and I’ve heard the inspirational founder speak several times.

Does this sound like something you could see yourself getting behind? Well let me sweeten the pot for you, just a bit.  Between now and Friday, July 27, one of their supporters is hosting a give back birthday. Tim will match up to $50,000 of all funds donated in honor of his birthday.  Yup, double your student loan by donating this week.

Orrrr…. consider having a give back birthday of your own. It would certainly make for a memorable way to celebrate a special birthday. On that note, you know we love parties around here, wouldn’t this make for a fun spin on a back to school party? The possibilities are endless.  And so are the opportunities created for these students once they complete their education!  I invite you to visit Vittana and see what they are up to.

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If you haven’t tasted Molly Moon’s ice cream, you really need to make it a priority!  Up until this year, you could only enjoy Molly Moon’s variety of flavors in our hometown, but Molly Moon is bringing her secrets to you.  But before I go into that, let’s talk ice cream.

I’ll admit; I’m not an ice cream fanatic.  In fact, we rarely ever have it at home.  But when I do get some out and about, it’s never rushed and always enjoyed to the very last bite of the melted ice cream filled waffle cone end. Last night, our little family headed to the Molly Moon’s on Capitol Hill.  You walk in and your senses are instantly blanketed in waffle happiness.  I ADORE the smell of waffle cones.  Next up, which flavor of the many daily and seasonal offerings will you pick? I usually get just one of their generous scoops, but I was sharing with Mo, so two were definitely in order.  (hee hee, so easy to convince myself on the merits of splurging.) We picked strawberry and scout mint.  Strawberry is my all time favorite ice cream flavor, and I always get it.  This strawberry did not disappoint.  The scout mint was awesome. I couldn’t get over how delicate and subtle it is.  Brian mocked me a bit for my description and said his Stumptown Coffee milk shake was brash and in your face.  You now have his editorial commentary as well.

So for the non-Seattlelites, let’s get to the promise that I started this post with.  How do you get this ice cream into your home?  Well, Miss Molly Moon has published a book this Summer called Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream.

All of the delicious recipes are now yours to experiment with and wow your friends and family!  However, if you do make it to our little hometown, you must include a visit to one of the four Molly Moon’s locations.

Happy eating!

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Blog Fav: Let’s Go for a Balloon Ride

by Emily on July 20, 2012

Okay this post may blow you mind, probably not as much as yesterday’s Coconut Bonbon but check out what I found this week on Paper Matrix

Yep, that is paper and some absolutely, remarkable paper-folding skills by Paper Matrix.  This amazing duo of Dad, chemical engineer who made paper dolls, Danish Christmas heart, puppet theaters, among other things for his daughter Anna, who is now an architect herself who designed these unbelievable paper balloons.    They are Danish and provide so many wonderful free templates for our pleasure.

When I saw this first balloon picture, I thought it would be a great baby mobile. And the site did not disappoint because look what was published earlier this year:

Wouldn’t they looks cute above a crib?  They look a bit intimidating to try by yourself.  I know, I’m feeling the same way!  I couldn’t even figure out those darn Martha Stewart paper flowers so how on earth could I do this???  I did a bit of poking around the site and found that maybe we should start here with the sphere instructions which provide the very base for how these are put together.

It appears that you can download the free template and print on the colored paper of your choice, cut, then start folding/wrapping together! Easy right?  Ughh….I think I’d have to start with the sphere to see if I could progress to the balloon!

Isn’t the internet amazing????  Thank you Paper Matrix for your inspiration and generosity of providing all sorts of wonderful template for us to enjoy.  You’ve got to go to their site to see all the other mind-blowing paper crafts they have been working on over the years together!  Makes me want to take a wee trip to Denmark to shop thru their paper stores!

 

 

 

 

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Coconut Bonbons

by Andrea on July 19, 2012

Hang on to your seats! I was cruising the new goodies section at Trader Joe’s the other day…

… and found Coconut Bonbons (bottom right).  The package actually said Moist Chewy Coconut Bonbons.  Let me just tell you, they are divine!  Crazy good!  May I admit that I’m onto my second package in one week? (I may have just confessed too much.)  Just look at them:

And if the luscious coconut filling wasn’t enough, they are covered in my favorite of favs, dark chocolate.  These are gooooooooooood, and I mean greeeeeeeat!

Given how often I go to Trader Joe’s (something that I don’t care to confess, let’s just say it’s a lot), I rarely pay much attention to the new goodies section.  Clearly, that is about to change.

So run, don’t walk, and get your fingers on these little morsels of heaven!

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