{guest post} how to: make lavender-lemon ice pops

I couldn’t be more excited about today’s guest how-to, courtesy of Andi McDaniel, co-owner of 10,000 Licks, the Twin Cities’ new gourmet farm-fresh ice pop business. You can find these gals’ insanely delicious treats at the Midtown and Uptown Farmers’ Markets, beginning July 16th. They’ll also be sampling mini-pops at the Mighty Swell’s “Summer in the City” event…an idea, I think is, well, mighty badass. Learn more (and peruse flavors!) on their website here. And for goodness sake, become a fan on 10,000 Licks on Facebook! Take it away Andi…

My husband and I bought our house in Longfellow in late winter, when the entire yard was still covered in a stubborn layer of snow. So imagine my surprise—and delight—when the snow melted and revealed a wealth of edible riches—Blueberries! Rhubarb! Thyme! And best of all—the healthiest looking lavender plant east of California. Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but I’ve heard that lavender is finicky, and yet ours, miraculously, isn’t. But enough about our dumb luck. Let’s talk about how to turn lavender, and it’s flavor-soulmate, lemon, into delicious homemade ice pops. Because it’s finally summer and it’s best we forget about snow for awhile.

This recipe is actually the first “official” 10,000 Licks ice pop recipe my business partner shared with me the other day. We’ve been making our ice pops in our home kitchens so far (we move into a commercial kitchen on July 1), and as we’ve been test-driving recipes, we’ve each adopted our faves. I’m the Sweet Corn gal, as well as the steward of Rhubarb and Vanilla Beet. Meanwhile, Sarah is the genius behind Lavender Lemon. She’s been in charge of them—so I had no idea how to make them. I emailed her for the details and here’s the scoop.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED

♥ Juice of six large lemons (makes about 1 1/2 cups juice if you use a juicer, so if you’re doing it by hand use extra lemons)

♥ Equal parts water (to match the lemon juice)

For the simple syrup:

 1 cup of honey (raw is tastiest, I’ve found)

 1 cup of water

 Approximately 4-5 tablespoons of lavender

 HOW TO MAKE

1. Juice the lemons.

2. Combine lemon juice with equal parts water (strain out lemon seeds and pulp if you’re doing it by hand).

3. Refrigerate lemon mixture.

4. Meanwhile, combine honey, lavender and 1 cup of water in a medium-sized saucepan and bring to a boil. Once boiling, stir to dissolve honey, then remove from heat almost immediately. Cover and let sit for as long as overnight or as little as one hour (if you can’t let it sit overnight, just use more lavender—it’s all about flavor potency!).

5. Once syrup is cool, combine with lemon mixture and poor into molds. (We use these.)

6. Freeze overnight.

Note: These pops would do fabulously as ice cubes, for use in the cocktail of your choice. If freezing in an ice cube tray, a few hours in the freezer will be plenty of time.

 Enjoy!

how to: DIY frame collage wall

Rae and I are up to our elbows in all kinds of crafty goodness this week, making pretty stuff for Mighty Swell’s storefront windows. Gathering ideas and inspiration for our displays and then seeing them to fruition (while sticking to a bare bones budget!) is one of our favorite things about owning our own shop. So, I figured I’d start sharing some of our favorite projects and DIYs with y’all here on the blog! Sound good? Cool. Without further ado, here’s Rae on how to make a collage wall with thrifted frames and wrapping paper.

This DIY project served as the background for Mighty Swell’s spring sneak peeks as well as pretty décor behind our checkout table. We got so many compliments and inquiries about them (and even a few offers to buy them off the walls), Meghan asked me to write up a little how-to. I’ve been collecting vintage wrapping papers since who knows when… YEARS. I’ve wrapped many a gift in them, but I still have a lot leftover. This project was the perfect way to use up some remnants and display some of my favorites patterns. Like most of the DIYs we undertake at the store, this project is multi-purpose, affordable, easy to accomplish in a short amount of time and when it’s all said and done, super cute!

-Rae

WHAT YOU’LL NEED

Miscellaneous frames in different sizes. I like to gather as many different shapes, styles and textures of frames as I can. These were all thrifted for 50 cents to $3.00! Think about where your finished pieces will live after you’re done so you can choose frame sizes accordingly.

Spray paint in your favorite color. Ours just happens to be YELLOW!

A variety of vintage wrapping papers. (Vintage fabric would be cute too!)

Hanging hardware, glazier points, needle nose pliers, hammer and nails.

Spare cardboard (optional)

HOW TO MAKE

1. Prep your frames. Carefully remove all artwork, glass and paper backing, leaving just the naked frames. Hold onto glass, cardboard, mat boards and backing boards as you will use these in the assembly proccess. You may find it necessary to remove nails, staples and other things that are holding the glass in the frames…This is where the pliers comes into play.

2. Spray paint! Make sure to do this outside of possible or in a well-ventilated area. Lay down plenty of old newspaper or a drop cloth. Give your can of paint a good shaking, and be sure to get sides and inside of frames while you’re spraying. Pro tip: It’s always tempting to spray on one thick coat and call it a day—resist this urge! Several lighter coats of spray paint will yield a MUCH better final product with fewer unsightly drips and uneven patches. Let the paint dry completely before moving onto step three.


3. When your frames are totally dry, start playing with the layout and configuration of your frames. This will help you decide which paper goes into which frame and will result in a perfect collage wall. When you find a layout you like, snap a pic so you can remember what goes where before you start hammering nails into the wall.

4. Assemble! This is where those materials you saved in step one will come in handy. To cut your wrapping paper  down to size, trace the backing board that came out of the frames. This will ensure a perfect fit! If there is no backing board, you can trace the glass (very carefully) onto a piece of cardboard and use that. When you have your paper cut, use a glue stick or spray adhesive to mount the paper to the backing boards. This step is crucial in preventing bubbles and other unsightly blemishes in your artwork. Finally, place your new wrapping paper covered boards into the frames and secure. If you removed the securing parts of the frame, you can use glazier points to hold them in. Refer to your pic of the layout you liked and start hanging!

Ta-da! You’re done! Now you have a lovely wall collage to call your own!!

how to: make your own bubble bath

Researching for yesterday’s Beauty Bets post re: making bubble bath at home, I tried out a couple different methods and recipes. This recipe for foaming vanilla-honey bath, found over at Real Simple, is so easy and delicious I just had to share it here. Spoiler alert: I’m totally giving jars of this stuff out come Christmas time!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED

1 cup light oil (almond, canola or sunflower will do)

1/2 cup honey

1/2 cup mild liquid hand or body soap (I used Dr. Bronner’s Unscented Mild Baby Soap, available at Target, Whole Foods and co-ops.)

1 tablespoon vanilla (preferably organic)

HOW TO MAKE

1. In a clean clear container, mix together the liquid soap, oil, honey and vanilla.

To use, pour 1/4 cup or so under running water as you fill the tub. (This recipe makes enough for about eight baths.)

Enjoy!

xo,

Meghan

 

guest post: thrifting with kids–tips & tricks from moms

This past Memorial Day, Mary and I went on a thrifting binge, and at it seemed like at every (crowded) store we stopped at, we encountered children of all ages in various stages of meltdown-dom: Some were crying, others were screaming, a few were in full-out tantrum mode.

After my headache subsided, I started thinking…how on earth can you keep your sanity as a thrifting-loving mama?

So, I called on some experts: Mom pals of mine who love to thrift, rummage and flea. As a non-mom, I loved hearing what works for them, and have definitely filed away some ideas for (way far away) future use. For the lovely mamas out there reading, I hope you find their tips helpful!

Thrifty Mama #1: Andrea

In addition to being a treasured friend, my girl Andrea is as close to a domestic Wonder Woman as you can get. Besides being an amazing cook, her beautiful home is full of sweet vintage finds; spoils from her many jaunts to the flea market with her man, Jason, and their five-year-old Hank. Here are some of her tips…

Start ’em young: We bring (and when he was younger, brought) Hank everywhere; thrifting, antiquing and in the summer, to flea markets almost every weekend. “Don’t touch!” was something he learned at a very, very young age!

Bribery works: Find something your kids enjoy getting and use that as a reward. We can get Hank to do almost anything for a toy car, and flea markets and thrift stores are loaded with them. If he behaves, he knows he can pick out a few and that works like a charm for us. Thrift stores also have a lot of kid’s books, so he looks through those while he’s in the cart, giving us time to look around. Now that he’s older, and starting collections of his own, it’s really fun watch his vintage collection grow, and seeing what oddities he picks out.

Keep ’em comfy: We like to go to flea markets pretty early in the morning on the weekends and sometimes Hank doesn’t want to go just because he’s tired. We found if we bring along his wagon, so he doesn’t have to walk, he’s much more apt to want to come along…willingly!

Know your child: When they’re young it’s easier to lug them around everywhere in their carrier, but as they get older, you have to work around their nap schedule and moodiness. You can sometimes coax them into going, but there are days they just want to be at home. The more fun you make it and the more often you go, the more they’ll enjoy it.

Mom #2: Kara, Golden Age Design

My mom took us garage sale-ing every Thursday growing up—I remember peering out the hot backseat of the car, looking for…who knows what! From a young age, she instilled in me the wisdom that things don’t have to be new to be special. Now I have my own munchkin and he not only has one parent who has a passion for vintage, but two! (Poor guy.) The most important thing I’ve learned is if my little man isn’t happy, no one is happy, so I’ve come up with some ways to make the thrifting experience enjoyable for all.

Snacks! A hungry kid usually isn’t a gas to be around, so I make sure I have plenty of yummy goodies stashed in my purse. Some favorites? GoGo Squeeze Applesauce (best invention EVER), Annie’s Bunny Fruit Snacks, Cliff Fruit Twists, organic baby carrots and a good ole standby, raisins. If we need to each lunch on the road, Subway is a good place to stop. Whole wheat bread, veggies, milk and apples make a thrifting mom rest a little easier.

Entertainment! The iPhone has been life-changing. There are so many great educational apps sure to impress your little one. I have a 2.5 yo and here are his favorite games: Tozzle, LunchBox, BabyFirst. Another way I keep him content is bee-lining for the toy section at the thrift store. I let him pick out a toy he gets to play with while we’re there and he’s usually thrilled. (I always keep Wet Wipes in my purse to give his selection a little bath before he gets his paws on it.) Also, before I go out for the day, I make sure the car is plum full of toys and books. We listen to the Current and do lots of car dancing. Keeping the car ride light and fun, especially if you’re garage sale-ing and making lots of in and out stops, is key.

Essential Gear! (1) Sunglasses. For some reason L thinks it’s really cool to wear his while mom and dad are wearing theirs. (2) Layers. The day can easily turn from 65° to 85° without much warning. Keeping kids cool + comfortable is always a plus. (3) Our BOB jogging stroller has been a life saver when we’ve hit the flea markets. It’s easy to maneuver, L is comfy in it and you can hang bags on it. Win, win, win.

Mom #3: Mary Beth, Top Drawer Vintage

One of my favorite activities, pre and post-parenthood, has been thrifting! I could go on and on with reasons why I love thrifting, but I’d rather give you some tips I’ve learned about shopping with my 15-month-old son, David.

My #1 Rule: Don’t set your kids up to fail! Work around your child’s schedule and take them out when they have a full tummy and are well rested. If nap time is at 1:30, thrifting anytime after 12:30 seems like a rotten way to spend a wind down.

Include your kids in your thrifting experience: Point out all the different items, colors, price tags! Let them understand why it makes you happy and why it is exciting. Help your kids learn from their time out of the house and interact with them so they can not only just be your shopping buddy, but a fun experience you can have together.

Timing is everything: I prefer shopping in the morning because that’s when I have the largest chunk of time, but that can vary day-to-day. (Going in the morning also allows me to take advantage of the slow times at the thrifts.) By the time David gets up from his afternoon nap around 4 p.m., we have a smaller window before it is dinner time. After David’s afternoon nap is a perfect time for a walk—possibly to a garage sale? (When we garage sale I often go on Thursday mornings to avoid the rush of the weekend.)

Are you a thrifty mama? If so, what are some of your secrets to success?

xo,
Meghan

how to: make a beermosa

Seeing as it’s officially the weekend, I figured I’d share how to make my go-to drink of late: the beermosa. Fancy-pants it is not, but refreshing, unfussy and cheap it most certainly is.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED

 Cheap beer (I like to dip into my honey’s PBR stash.)

 Orange juice

HOW TO MAKE

1. Fill your glass 1/3-1/2 full with orange juice.

2. Fill the rest up with beer.

3. Drink responsibly. But not that responsibly, because it is the freaking weekend. Whatever you do, don’t drink and drive. (Or drink and trim your bangs. That’s also a  bad idea.)

Well, I took a shower more than an hour ago, and yet here I sit, towel turban on my head. Which means…I better scoot. Happy weekend y’all!

xo,

Meghan

how to: store your vintage fur

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As the rule of thumb goes, when it’s too warm to wear your furs, it’s time to store them safely away until next season. Your options? Have them professionally stored at a furrier or stash ’em away at home. Before you decide which route to take, take a minute to evaluate the condition and age of the pieces you are considering storing. Furs older than 20 years are generally not worth storing professionally. (That said, some furs, like mink, age really well. Talk to a pro if you’re on the fence!) If your furs are all 20-30 years old, keep on loving them and skip right to “Tips For Home Storage.”

Option #1: Store your furs at a professional furrier.

Pros: A good furrier will have a storage facility that’s kept at a stable 40 degrees and around 55 percent humidity…conditions proven to extend the life of your fur. Your garments will also be safe from moths and other vermin. Another bonus? When a furrier stores your garments, they can also clean your fur, which boosts its life expectancy, or make any necessary repairs like fixing a ripped lining or replacing a missing button or hook.

Cons: It’s not cheap. At the L.A. Rockler Fur Company in Minneapolis, storage runs $40 per garment or $75 for professional cleaning and storage. (This cost does however, include home pick-up and drop-off. Win!)

Option #2: Store your furs at home.

Pros: It’s free and convenient.

Cons: Maintaining perfect conditions for storing fur at home is nearly impossible, and you run the risk of moth damage and premature aging.

Tips For Home Storage

-Store your furs away from direct sunlight, in a place that isn’t damp (like a basement). A spare bedroom closet is a good choice, as long as your rooms aren’t kept too hot.

-Hang your furs on quality hangers, making sure there’s plenty of space or breathing room in between them. You don’t want to crush or smush the fur!

-Cover them with clean cotton sheets or cotton garment bags. DO NOT use plastic garment bags to store fur—it needs to breathe!

One more tip!

-If you decide to store your furs with a professional, ask to see where they’ll be kept. (God forbid they charge you an arm and a leg to stuff them in a back room!)

What am I doing? Since most of my fur pieces are vintage and/or thrifted, the majority of them will stay at home with me this summer, in a closet, covered in sheets. I do have two inherited pieces that are sentimentally important, and those are going into professional storage. Any investment I can make to keep wearing them longer is well worth it to me!

***A big thank you goes to Rockler‘s General Manager Wally Hennessy for answering my many questions!***

xo,

Meghan

 

diy: pretty thumbtacks

Hi dears!

I dabbled in a spot of diy-ing this weekend in between moving, housework and work-work. It felt so good to sit down, watch a movie and do something that didn’t involve heavy lifting or heavy thinking. My decision about what to make was essentially made for me when I saw “you don’t have to be a careful cutter” in the instructions for these fabric-covered thumbtacks. Because a careful cutter is a thing I am not.

I won’t go over the entire how-to because the original tutorial on How About Orange does a fantastic job of doing just that, but here are a few peeks of the final product. Cute right?



I would say they add a cheery touch to my cork board and I’ll definitely be making more soon. Are you having decent Mondays so far? I turned in a project today that had become a giant monkey on my back and I feel so, so, so relieved to be done with it. Here’s hoping it sets the tone for a stress-free week!

xo,

Meghan

how to: clean your thrifted jewelry

Hey lovelies!

I’ve had some great luck thrifting jewelry lately, so I thought I’d do a little how to post on cleaning it up so it’s sparkly and ready to wear. (Thank you to the lovely Hannah Kuhary, for sharing this DIY recipe with me!!)

WHAT YOU’LL NEED

Liquid dish soap
White vinegar
A toothbrush (softer is better, but any kind will do)
A lint-free rag or cloth
A smallish bowl
♥ ♥ ♥ This method is safe for cleaning gold, silver, platinum, diamonds and hard stones. It is NOT SAFE for pearls, opals or jewelry with adhesives or loose stones. ♥ ♥ ♥

HOW TO

1. Place jewelry in a heat-proof bowl.
2. Heat 2 cups of water almost to the point of boiling.
3. Add a couple drops of dish soap, one tablespoon of white vinegar and mix to combine.
4. Pour the solution over jewelry, swirl it around a bit and let it soak until the water is cool.
5. Brush jewelry with a toothbrush under running water and leave to air dry on lint-free rag or cloth. And…voila! Your thrifted accessories are sparkly and clean!

Hannah wanted me to mention that this method is perfect for people with skin allergies or sensitive skin—many drugstore jewelry cleaners have ammonia in them which can be irritating and harsh.

I hope you all are having wonderful Wednesdays so far! It’s snowing like crazy here and I’ve got a long day of editing and interviews ahead. But tonight, I’m trekking to Dinkytown to see this band play, so I can’t complain too much not going to see Warpaint because they are snowed in. So excited sad!

xo,

Meghan

 

how to: make salted caramel shortbread

I’m an awful baker. I’m trying to get better by baking a new recipe every Sunday. After two weeks of epic fails, finally…success in the form of salted caramel shortbread! This recipe alone was reason enough for me to plunk down $6 this week and subscribe to Ready Made magazine. The finished result is insanely yummy, but even more than that, if I can bake this without screwing it up, so can you. A few words of warning: You’ll need a good chunk of time to make this, as there is quite a bit of waiting in between some of the steps.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED

For the shortbread:

1 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. cornstarch
1/2 c. confectioner’s sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, chilled and cubed

For the salted caramel:

1 1/4 c. packed light brown sugar
3/4 c. heavy cream
6 T.  unsalted butter, softened
1 t. crushed sea salt

For the chocolate topping:

7 ounces dark chocolate (60-70% cocoa solids)

HOW TO MAKE

1. If you’re lucky, mix the shortbread ingredients together in a food processor. Or, do it the traditional way by sifting the dry ingredients in a large bowl, adding the butter, and using clean fingertips to rub them together until a dough forms. Form dough into ball (it’ll be super crumb-like), cover with plastic wrap  and put in fridge to rest for an hour. Meanwhile, line a 9-inch square brownie pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper and preheat the oven to 325°. Flatten the rested dough into the pan.

2. Prick the top of the dough all over with a fork  and bake for about 40-45 minutes, until the top is light brown and starting to come away from the edges of the pan. Allow to cool in the pan for at least one hour before you make the caramel.

3. To make the caramel, put the sugar and cream in a heavy-bottom saucepan set over low heat. Heat gently, sitting with a wooden spoon as it comes to a boil. Bring the caramel back to a boil and let it bubble gently for 5 minutes, sitting occasionally. Take the caramel off the heat, add the salt and stir vigorously to ensure that it is thoroughly mixed in. Then, working quickly, pour the caramel on top of the cooled shortbread. Put the pan in fridge (or, if you live in Minnesota, your porch) and let set for at least 1 hour.

3. Once the caramel has set, melt the chocolate over a double boiler. (If you want to temper it properly, here are the directions for how to do that.) Pour the melted chocolate on top of the caramel and spread it evenly with a rubber spatula. Allow the chocolate to set before lifting the shortbread out of the pan and cutting into squares with a hot knife.

These babies will keep stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three days. But I’m guessing they won’t last you that long.

xo,

Meghan

 

 

how to: roast root veggies

Happy Tuesday, lovelies!

Today’s how-to pertains to roasted root veggies. Also known as, vegetables that taste like candy and are addictive as crack. The directions below are adapted from Yellow Rose Recipes, an (unfortunately) out-of-print cookbook that gets a ton of use in my kitchen. Anyway, this is a comforting winter side that’s easy-to-make, all-around delicious and healthy.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED

3 medium carrots

1 yam

2 medium yukon gold potatoes

1 parsnip

1 beet

[You can mix up what root veggies you want to include—try red potatoes, golden beets, rutabagas and turnips…]

1-2 T. olive oil

2 T. tamari or soy sauce

1-2 T. maple syrup

3-4 cloves of garlic, pressed or chopped

1 t. dried thyme

1/2 t. rosemary, crushed

1/2 t. dill

1/2 t. salt

1/2 t. pepper

HOW TO MAKE

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel yer veggies and chip-chop them into 3/4-1-inch pieces.

In a large bowl, whisk together the rest of the ingredients.

Add the roots and toss.

Add veggies to a lightly sprayed 9-by-13 inch baking dish or roasting pan.

Roast for 20 minutes, remove from  oven, toss around with a wooden spoon, and put back in oven for 20-30 more minutes. Your kitchen’s going to smell delicious!

Remove and serve, adding more salt and pepper if necessary.

Roasted roots go well with pretty much anything, and I like to think they taste even better the next day. Try piling a scoop or two over some arugula and top with goat cheese for a super veggie-licious lunch. Yum!

xo,

Meghan