Thrifty Thursday – A Giveaway! :)

Posted in giveaways!, Main, Thrifty Thursday! at 3:35 pm by carrie

We’re giving away 3 things!

1. A “Pocket Full of Posies” heat transfer canvas tote:

2. “To My Valentine” cherub small glittered hanging art board:

3. Set of 12 vintage actress portraits layered art postcards:

All of the above items are my design and handmade by me in some way :)

To win one of these items, please leave a comment below on this blog entry. One comment per person.

For a bonus second entry into the giveaway, talk about my giveaway on your blog, tweet about it or mention this giveaway on facebook and leave a second comment here with a link to your mention, or just state that you posted it on facebook or tweeted! :) (You can easily share it on facebook by “liking” our facebook page and then just clicking “share” on entry on the Violet Cottage facebook page).

If we get over 50 comments, I’ll double the loot :)

Winners will be selected at random next Thursday at 6:00 pm EST.

2/3/11 – 6:20 pm

And the winners are (using our handy dandy Random Number Generator):

The tote bag – #5 – Suzie Button

The Valentine’s art board – #11 – Jenny

Postcard set – #8 – Sheila

I’ll be contacting you shortly :)!


Look What I Can Do Wednesday – Gradient Gemstone Cluster Pendants

Posted in Look What I Can Do Wednesday, Main, Sharing the Handmade Love at 6:15 pm by carrie

Something a little different… I love this technique because it showcases each stone and it’s easier to do a linear color gradient line-up.

Spinel, tourmaline, sapphire and quartz…

London blue topaz, sapphire, tanzanite and iolite…

Rectangle faceted citrine surrounded by green tourmaline…

Peridot, tourmaline & citrine…

These will be online in a week or so. They still need the necklace part… just a small detail ;)


Two of Two for Tuesday – Shelves!

Posted in Interior Design, Main, two for tuesday at 8:33 pm by carrie

I was flipping through a magazine (of course I can’t remember which one anymore, and the photo was already cropped.)… but look at this shelving!

I know it’s been done before, and I’ve seen something similar at Ikea, and on Trading Spaces… but I just loved how this shelf grouping is set up.

I’m thinking a whole wall of shelves like this… perhaps I could assemble them on the ground then mount (to avoid a zillion holes in the wall) and paint some with flowers and leave some plain with just a clear coat or white wash. I love what they did with them in this picture, color wise. I could frame a few out with molding and put pictures or a mirror in them… make a whole focal shelf wall. Ooooh… I smell a project :) And in my office, I can customize my wall o’ shelves to include ribbon dowels, hooks, large shelves for my jars (we don’t have earthquakes in NC! woohoo! hehe) and other fun little cubbies. And in the bathroom… and in the…

Yep, I think I like them.

One of Two for Tuesday – Casi Cielo Coffee at Starbucks

Posted in Main, two for tuesday at 4:04 pm by carrie

Do you like coffee? We REALLY do :)

I know Starbucks isn’t truly the best for the snobby coffee connoisseur’s picky palette, (that’s so not us) but I must share a coffee that I really enjoy. And it’s from Starbucks, for a limited time (artificially “limited”? The jury is still out).

Casi Cielo from Guatemala. It says it has hints of dark chocolate and lemon in it… whatever it is, I’m in love and I’ve stocked up :)

Maybe I should call Tuesday’s posts “Show and tell Tuesday” ;)


Magazine Monday – A Little Blue

Posted in Interior Design, Magazine Monday, Main at 4:50 pm by carrie

I’ve only met one person in my life who dislikes the color blue… and she was very passionate about it. Otherwise, I think everyone has a blue room… even if it’s the palest iceberg blue in a tiny powder room. Blue and green are my favorite colors… I have about 12 used gallons of paint in my basement to prove it… and I like to go dark and bold ;)


Back to Making Jewelry!

Posted in Look What I Can Do Wednesday, Main, Sharing the Handmade Love at 2:25 pm by carrie

I feel like I have postpartum Christmas depression… the whirlwind of packing, shipping, rushing, inventory checking, the festive sounds of packing tape unrolling… all sort of came to a screeching halt!

Can’t I just go into suspended animation until September? ;)


I really like the color and whimsy of Valentine’s, St. Patty’s and Springtime pastels… but there’s just something about the Fall into the Holidays that I really love. Can’t I just give everything a Christmas or Halloween flavor? Trees with hearts, snowmen at the end of rainbows, pumpkins with bunny ears… eggnog hunts. Yep. Someone call Hallmark.

Changing gears a wee bit… Here are a few jewelry pieces I’ve been working on… some are a work in progress :) I really like the simpler earrings with only a few stones.

Hoping to muster up some inspiration to paint tomorrow… come on Valentine’s day bug… bite me! ;)

Speaking of inspiration, we’ve been playing Little Big Planet 2. It has oodles of inspiration. Shooting cupcakes, riding fluffy robo-bunnies, dodging flaming marshmallows… it’s pretty amazing.


Fiesta con mucho mucho comida…

Posted in Foodie Friday, Main at 6:12 pm by wordpress

Last weekend was Nathan’s birthday… We had quite the feast (with a Latin flair).

The spread…

Churrasco with chimichurri sauce

Roasted garlic mashed potatoes, corn cake & bread (The carb experience)
The tiny salad bar is over yonder, but that is not what this evening was about

Really good restaurant chips, their salsa, my salsa, sour cream, chimichurri sauce & some guacamole

Meg’s nose investigating

Simple table decor

I call this a “masculine” flower arrangement… a cabbage & some greens (Thank you, Trader Joe’s)

There was talk of recipe sharing, so here are a few…


The Chimichurri sauce was pretty amazing, you can find the recipe here, but I’ll copy and paste it, too, just in case :) (I never ever want to lose it!)

Skirt Steak with Chimichurri Sauce
Recipe courtesy Emeril Lagasse, 2005

  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2/3 cup sherry wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots
  • 3/4 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 (1 3/4 to 2-pound) skirt steak


In the bowl of a food processor, combine the olive oil, sherry vinegar, lemon juice, parsley, basil, oregano, garlic and shallots. Pulse until well blended but do not puree. Add 1/4 teaspoon of the black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and the crushed red pepper. Remove 1 cup of the chimichurri sauce from the processor and transfer to a non-reactive bowl, cover with plastic wrap and reserve at room temperature for up to 6 hours. (If cooking steak another day, refrigerate sauce and return to room temperature before serving.)

Season the steak with 1 teaspoon of the kosher salt on each side, as well as 1/4 teaspoon of the black pepper per side and place in a large, resealable plastic bag. Add the remaining chimichurri sauce from the processor. Seal bag and refrigerate the steak for at least 2 and up to 4 hours.

Preheat a grill to medium heat.

Once the steak has finished marinating, remove it from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature for 30 minutes. Brush the excess chimichurri sauce off the steak and set the steak over the hot grill. Cook for 6 minutes on the first side. Rotate the steak 45 degrees, and cook another 6 minutes. Turn the steak over and continue to cook until the steak is done, about 6 to 8 minutes for medium-rare. Once cooked, lay the steak on a clean cutting board, and allow it to rest for 5 to 7 minutes before slicing across the grain into 2-inch wide strips. Serve with crusty bread and the reserved chimichurri sauce.

Coming from California, the thought of grilling on any January night isn’t a big deal (elitist weather snobs!). But when we ventured outdoors into the windy, below 20 degree North Carolina night to fire up the grill, it was a wee bit comical. You’d think standing in front of FIRE in a Disneyland hooded sweatshirt would be enough to warm you up. That would be a negative. So, the birthday boy was wonderful enough to stand out there and help me grill these steaks as we shivered together and felt sorry for ourselves. Don’t get me wrong, it was the best steak we’d ever made, but… sacrifices were made. Even Meg, who would never ever give up a chance to be near sizzling meat, ran inside when we opened up the sliding glass door and opted to chew on a squeaky cow-shaped toy instead. I could tell she was making fun of us. I would have, too.

Oh, and I used the leftover sauce to marinate and cook some chicken a few nights later… it was SO good. Best sauce ever.


The potatoes… SO easy to make. Basically it’s a bag of small golden potatoes. Scrub them well, cut them into halves or quarters with their skins on. Boil until tender. I put them in a Kitchenaid bowl mixer with a stick of butter, roasted garlic, a rectangle of cream cheese and salt and pepper to taste.


The corn cake… something we expect on a plate while dining at El Torito in Pasadena… the corn cake is a favorite of ours. Here is the recipe:

* Exported from MasterCook *

El Torito Sweet Corn Cake

  • Recipe By : El Torito Restaurant, California
    Serving Size : 12 Preparation Time :0:30

    • 1/4 cup butter
    • 2 tablespoons shortening
    • 1/2 cup masa harina
    • 3 tablespoons cold water
    • 10 ounces corn kernels
    • 3 tablespoons cornmeal
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • 2 tablespoons whipping cream
    • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • —–
    Place butter and shortening in mixer bowl and whip until soft; continue
    whipping until fluffy and creamy. Add masa gradually while mixing; add water
    gradually and mix thoroughly.

    Place corn kernels in blender or food processor fitted with metal blade;
    coarsely chop. Stir into the masa harina. Place (regular) cornmeal, sugar,
    whipping cream, baking powder and salt in large mixing bowl; mix quickly.
    Add masa mixture and mix lightly, just until blended. Pour into greased
    8-inch-square baking pan. Cover with foil.

    Method 1: Bake in 350-degree oven 40 to 50 minutes or until corn cake has a
    firm texture.

    Method 2: Place pan in a larger pan and pour boiling water half way up corn
    cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees 40 to 50 minutes, checking water level and
    adding more boiling water, if necessary. When cooked through, remove corn
    cake pan from water.

    Let cooked cake stand at room temperature for few minutes before cutting
    into squares or using a small ice cream scoop to serve.

    Makes 10 to 12 small servings. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.

    Cook and Tell recipe swap column, Riverside Press
    Enterprise 3 Oct 96.
    H. McRecipe.


    Last, yet never least, was dessert. I made croissant bread pudding. I don’t have a picture of it. It’s like bigfoot, not around long enough to get a non-blurry picture of it. But I can give you the recipe, which I modified a bit. (Raisins have no place in bread pudding… in my opinion).

    Chocolate Croissant Bread Pudding


    • 1 stick unsalted butter
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 5 large eggs
    • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream or during the later months, eggnog (I know, I know)
    • 10 – 14 croissants
    • 1 small bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips


    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

    In a kitchenaid bowl mixer, cream the butter and sugar until well blended. Add cinnamon, and vanilla.

    While the mixer is running crack 5 eggs into the mixture. Turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides. Add the heavy cream.

    Lightly butter a 9 by 13-inch baking dish (I use two deep smaller 9″ round casserole dishes). Chop up the croissants into 1-inch pieces and layer in the pan and mix in handfuls of the chocolate chips in when you do this. Pour the egg mixture over the croissants; soak for 8 to 10 minutes. You will need to push croissants pieces down during this time to ensure even coverage by egg mixture.

    Cover with foil and bake for 35minutes (you may want to use that cool non-stick foil). Remove foil and bake for additional 10 minutes to brown the top. The croissant bread pudding is done when the custard is set, but still soft. Allow to cool and serve with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream.

    Of course I only got a few pictures before the guests arrived and not after. Oh well. It’s pretty astonishing that we got all the food ready and set up BEFORE anyone arrived. Normally people show up to some raw chicken, hot beer and lots of time to kill ;)

    Happy Birthday Queso ;)