Etsy Favorites: Passion for Peppermint

December 28, 2013, 09:00 am  Posted by Lark

This time of the year I get struck by a nearly uncontrollable craving. As the shelves of the grocery store fill with the enticement of seasonal treats, I focus my attention on seeking out my personal holiday favorite: peppermint. I think this desire was instilled at an early age with that miracle known as peppermint ice cream, a frozen miracle of flavor, spotted with little peppermint candy bits. I looked forward to its arrival every year. Now as an adult my culinary tastes have expanded and my sweet tooth has been (somewhat) tamed, but the annual love for that cooling peppermint remains. With that urge in mind I set my eyes to Etsy to seek out some items that would bring lip-smacking, smile-inducing peppermint pleasure to the rest of these chilly winter months. What I found only fuels my need to stock up. Full credits and shop links below!

TOP LEFT: Peppermint Bark Shortbread Cookies by Butter Blossoms
TOP RIGHT: Peppermint Hot Chocolate by Carriage Door
MIDDLE LEFT: Holiday Red and White French Macarons by The Splendid Sweet Shoppe
MIDDLE RIGHT: Peppermint Chocolate Chip Blondies by Bake It Happen
BOTTOM LEFT: White Chocolate Peppermint Marshmallows by Epic Edibles
BOTTOM RIGHT: Peppermint Bark by Mother Fudger


Simple Cider: A Low-Tech Approach

December 26, 2013, 10:00 am  Posted by Lark



Lately, I have been experimenting with making hard cider. I’m really low-tech when it comes to this sort of thing. I make mead too, but I can’t be bothered with all that racking and bottling and stuff. So, I make an herbal tea, mix it 50/50 with honey, add some yeast and yeast energizer, throw an airlock on the bottle, and forget aboudit. When it’s time to drink the mead (3-6 months later), I just pour from the same bottle, which I store indefinitely with the airlock on it. I have the same approach to cider. The simplest way I know to make homemade hard cider is as follows:

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Free Recipe from Sweet Confections: Sugarplums

December 23, 2013, 12:29 pm  Posted by Lark

If you think sugarplums are simply the stuff of visions, then you’re in for a sweet surprise. An easy-to-assemble treat that’s perfect for the final countdown to Christmas, this classic candy will add some extra-festive flavor to your holiday. The free recipe featured here comes from Nina Wanat’s splendid book, Sweet Confections: Beautiful Candy to Make at Home. Give it a try and you’ll see that sugarplums don’t have to be a dream…

Download the recipe here. Happy holidays!













You can find Sweet Confections at Barnes & Noble and wherever books are sold.



A Holiday Etsy Wish List for My Dog, Part 2

December 20, 2013, 13:46 pm  Posted by Lark

Certified Coziness Expert

The other day I shared a post on behalf of my sweet little dog, who has been working on her own Christmas wish list all year long. Her first post focused on gorgeous dog portraits made by Etsy artists, and this second post shines a light on the warm, cozy, and fashion-forward items she loves on Etsy. As an expert in coziness (see photo), she’s a good curator for this kind of thing.

These projects!! Don’t you just love that heart sweater? Have you ever seen a bow tie look so dapper? And, c’mon, I think we all can agree that a cozy fleece-lined snuggle sack bed is basically what every single one of us needs in the new year.

Thanks to these talented artists for creating such awesome stuff for our dear little pups!

Happy Pawlidays, everyone.

[Pictured from left to right]

Burrow Dog Bed :: BBeds

Dog Bow Tie :: charliebegood

Pet ID Tag :: CaliforniaMutts

Chevron Dog Bed Cover :: thefoggydog

Knit Heart Sweater :: Willieratbag and MrSoftTop

Cozy Scandinavian Dog Sweater :: BobbieGlue

Snowflake Dog Sweater :: Charliecloset

Chihuahua Pillow :: YveborgDesign

What Does the Fox Say Dog Collar :: StinkyandSweetPea

Aluminum Pet ID Tag :: woowooworkshop

Red Rhinestone Flower Dog Collar :: PawshAccessories

Minky Snuggle Sack Bed :: rendachs

Wine Barrel Dog Bed :: RockCreekFurnitureCo


Dear Etsy…from Ruby

December 19, 2013, 09:57 am  Posted by Lark

As much fun as I have on Etsy shopping for myself, it’s fun to imagine what my 17-month-old daughter Ruby might pick for herself. (Have you seen Willow’s list??) At this point in her young life, Ruby’s preferences are simple: her puppy sidekick, her dinosaur lift-the-flap book, her pop-up tent set, cheese, shoes (including mommy’s cowboy boots), dancing, and all cell phones/remote controls/small electronic items. I’m quite certain, though, and mainly because she has no choice, that she’ll learn to love all things handmade. (And the Ikea kitchen set that’s waiting for her on Christmas morning!) With that in mind, from left to right, top to bottom, here is Ruby’s Etsy wishlist:

Wooden Dinosaur Toy Set from Imaginationkids

24 Piece Memory Game Set by fourthavenue

Pitbull Baby One Piece by Oliver Blu Designs

Sally Dress Sewing Pattern by VeryShannon (for mommy to make!)

Girls Hooded Cape by April Scott

Flower Hair Clips by Small Talk Shop

Wooden Toy Phone by OutsideEverywhere

Bunny Slippers by Jay’s Boutique Crochet

Play Pizza Felt Food Set by Our Childrens Earth

Kids Chef Set by Gift for Kids



Free Snowflake Design Christmas Cookie Project

December 18, 2013, 08:00 am  Posted by Lark

When I smell the spicy aroma of freshly baked gingerbread, I get a warm, holiday happiness feeling. These cookie rounds, decorated with glittering snowflakes, make pretty tree ornaments or festive party treats. Since each  snowflake is unique, it’s a perfect design for freehand drawing. Imagine the visual impact of a platter full (or tree full) of snowflake cookies, each with a different lacy design.



If you go the white flooded cookie route, why not try making the snowflake design in a color like blue, or silver—or a bold pink, even? This cookie design and 60+ others can be found in Bridget Edward‘s Decorating Cookies. The yummy recipe and how-to instructions can be found here.

So is it a delicious cookie or a pretty ornament? You decide.


Last-minute Gift Idea: Low-Sew Fleece Cowl

December 17, 2013, 14:51 pm  Posted by Lark

Have your joyful intentions for a homemade holiday turned you into an over-caffeinated crafty stressball with cramped fingers? Me, too! And despite my best efforts at self-preservation, the crafting to-do list keeps growing. Sound familiar? The perfect low-sew unisex accessory for all ages does exist: it’s the Woven Chevron Cowl! Designed by Cynthia Shaffer and made with only a single seam from soft and lovely fleece, this project will save you from yourself (well, maybe). Make 2, make 5, they’re perfect in every color and for every last-minute giving situation.

Download the instructions here free: Woven Chevron Cowl

Be on the lookout for more no-sew and low-sew fun early in 2014 with my new book, Never Been Stitched!


Folks Go Nuts for Candied Nuts FREE RECIPE

December 10, 2013, 11:57 am  Posted by Lark

I don’t know about you, but every Christmas I’m confronted with the dilemma of what to give to people I don’t know terribly well. You know the category: extended family, business acquaintances, neighbors. I care about them and want to give them something nice and heartfelt—but what? Solution: homemade sweets!

Luckily, I work at Lark and didn’t have to go far to find a recipe. Poring through Sweet Confections by Nina Wanat, my mouth watering at every page, I came across a recipe for Sour Cream Candied Nuts. This old-fashioned recipe makes nuts enrobed in a thick, sugary coating and infused with alluring spiciness. Mm, what a crunchy, crusty treat! Make some up, wrap them in pretty packaging, embellish with ribbon, and presto! a gift from the heart.

SOUR CREAM CANDIED NUTS (makes about 2 cups)

You’ll need

  • 2/3 cup of packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup of sour cream
  • 3/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 cups of roasted walnuts, almonds, or pecans
  • Baking sheet, parchment paper, wooden spoon, candy thermometer, food-safe gloves


To prepare

  • Line the baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Combine the sugar, salt and sour cream in a 2-quart saucepan and stir occasionally over medium heat until the mixture reaches 240 degrees.
  • Remove from heat. Add the vanilla, cinnamon and nuts to the syrup and stir vigorously until the syrup becomes dry and matted, 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Pour the coated nuts onto the parchment paper, put on your gloves, and immediately separate the nuts. Let cool, then store in an airtight container. So easy, so fast, so tasty!


You can change up the spices and find oodles of other recipes online for candied nuts, including the variations here, here and here.

Directions for use

  • Grasp a few nuts between the thumb and index.
  • Bend the elbow and raise the hand to the face.
  • Open the mouth and pop in the nuts. Chew, savor, repeat. Yum!


Besides being snack-worthy all by themselves, you can also toss them on salads (a mixture of baby arugula, shredded manchego and candied pecans is oh-so-delicious); garnish ice cream, brownies and other baked goods, or bake them right in (sinful!); or put them in cereal to start the day off right (!).




A Year of Pies – Autographed Copy GIVEAWAY

December 09, 2013, 11:09 am  Posted by Lark

Tis the season for baked goods! Whether you’re whipping up something special to share at an upcoming holiday gathering or simply feel the urge to warm up your kitchen with the comfort of something piping hot to balance out these cold days, we have the book for you. A Year of Pies offers up a full year of seasonal, natural recipes for pies and tarts both sweet and savory utilizing the best of what each season has to offer. A total of 60 recipes are included, 15 for each season. Classics are covered, but with Ashley English’s unique culinary spin. It would make a perfect holiday gift for that foodie friend on your list.

Learn much more about A Year of Pies in my earlier post here and view some of the great praise the book has garnered here.

To further celebrate the holiday season, we wanted to provide a chance to win an autographed copy of the book. Just leave a comment on this blog post by 9 p.m. EST on Sunday, December 15. Any comment will do, but why don’t you tell us your favorite kind of pie or a fond pie memory. One lucky winner will be selected at random and announced on Monday, December 16. Click here for the official rules. Good luck!


Design Your Own Gift Wrap — FREE Project

December 05, 2013, 12:00 pm  Posted by Lark

Try adapting this idea for the holiday gift-giving season from the book Stamp It! Make a few easy-to-draw templates and carve the designs on rubber pads so you can stamp your own creation on wrapping paper and gift tags.

The illustration below shows an example that includes a flower. But you can fashion a template of your own design — trees, snowflakes, holly, stars, candles, menorahs, birds, etc. — by making a simple drawing. Then you can add a truly cool, extra personal touch to any gift you give this year.

Make your own holiday-themed template and then merrily stamp it to create beautiful, unique gift wrap

You’ll need some basic tools for stamping, including translucent paper, rubber for carving, colored inkpads, linoleum cutter and blades, and a sharp craft knife. Then, let your artistic nature flow. Go ahead, do it. It’s fun!

Get started now by downloading this  PDF for stamping instructions to make wrapping paper and tags.

Get a copy of Stamp It! for more great ideas about printing with handmade stamps