Thursday, February 21, 2013

Healthy Kitchen Makeover Top 10 Ingredients

Linguini With Kale and Mushrooms
Cooking, it's an art, craft, and a necessity, but unlike painting and ceramics, the more you engage in this hobby, the more chance you have of packing on the pounds and overindulging on samples. This year, I vowed to cut down on eating out and animal products and to add more vegetables and fiber to my diet. Today, I am going to talk about my top 10 favorite ingredients that I have been stocking my kitchen with. Realistically, I could probably list an entire grocery cart full of my favorites, but I decided to whittle it down to ten that are indispensable.

1) Kale

A friend of mine once said, "This is what spinach always wanted to be". More true words were never spoken. Kale is a leafy green good for adding to soups, casseroles, pasta, rice dishes, salads, and even green smoothies. It can be eaten cooked or raw and retains a firm texture with little bitterness. Kale is full of fiber and it is also inexpensive.

2) Quinoa

This South American grain was a staple of the Incas and can be used in place of rice in soups and as a side dish. It is bland in flavor, but readily absorbs seasoning. Quinoa has more fiber and protein than rice, too. My favorite dish I have been making with this grain is quinoa and poblano pepper soup with corn- high in fiber and low in calories!

3) Coconut Oil

A plant oil that is solid at room temperature, coconut oil is a great vegan replacement for butter. It makes flaky pastries and can be used in all your baked goods, as well as for sauteed foods. Like butter, it also has saturated fat and as many calories as other oils. You might be hearing plenty of hype about this being a miracle food, but you want to use it sparingly if you are watching your calories. It does not taste like coconut and imparts a mild, nutty flavor to your dishes. Look for the Lou Anna brand in a 32 oz plastic tub in the baking isle.

4) Crushed Red Pepper Sauce

This kitchen staple of mine is handmade and canned in mason jars at the International Grocery in Murfreesboro, TN. Last month, I blogged about their awesome Pad Thai. The owner, a master of spicy cooking, infused the hot peppers in oil for her special homemade sauce. It is 7.00 dollars for a huge mason jar and you only need a little big to pack a huge punch. I find that when I add red pepper sauce to my food, I slow down and eat less and drink more water. It also makes my food more enjoyable and exciting. Try mixing a little with lite ranch and hummus for amazing dips and spreads or toss in with vegetables.

5) Plain Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt is a new and popular addition to the grocery store. It is the same as regular yogurt, but with a thicker, more viscous consistency and more protein. The plain type can be used in place of sour cream to top chili and baked potatoes or as a base for ranch dressing and cucumber sauce. I puree the plain yogurt with cucumber slices, sea salt, and garlic in the blender for a tasty topping for pita sandwiches.

6) Sweet Potatoes/Yams

I admit that I hadn't really experimented much with yams outside the traditional Thanksgiving dish; however, once they showed up at my local grocery store this winter for 39 cents a pound, I bought a bundle to take home and play with. Sweet potatoes are loaded with vitamin A and potassium and they impart a sweet, savory flavor to your dishes. I am using them in vegetarian chili, curry vegetable stews, and I even made a mashed sweet potato and apricot smoothie in my blender.

7) No Sugar Applesauce

I stock up on this staple to use in baked goods and as a low calorie snack. It is a great filler for smoothies and can also be used to make thick and savory sauces. My husband, Tim, worked at a supper club and used to make an applesauce and maple syrup dipping sauce for pork tenderloins. I like to simmer my applesauce with a pinch of red pepper and lemon juice for a low sugar sweet and sour sauce. At only 50 calories a serving and plenty of pectin, a fruit fiber, applesauce is a great choice for breakfast or a low cal snack.

8) Egg Beaters

I chose to switch to pasteurized egg substitutes because my eggs were always going bad and I wasn't consuming them before they got too old. Egg beaters have a 2-3 month shelf life and they are also treated so that you can use them in recipes that you can eat raw. This rates as one of my top 10 products because eggs are necessary as a binder in many dishes, like meatloaf, and integral to the texture and rising of many baked goods. I use my egg beaters to coat vegetables before I bread them and to make a type of cornbread pancake from scratch. Zucchini slices dipped in egg beaters, coated with Cajun breading, and fried in a lightly oiled pan are delicious.

9) Cabbage

This traditional vegetable has a potent amount of vitamin c and fiber. It is versatile in soups, stir fry dishes, and shredded in salads. My favorite thing about cabbage is that it is cheap and lasts forever. I can always get a huge cabbage for less than a dollar. I love to add shredded cabbage to ramen noodles and Asian dishes and mix it with my more expensive salad greens to stretch them further. If you are trying to eat healthier, price is often an obstacle, but cabbage is the queen of economy.

10) Vitamin C Powder

Available in the supplement section, this is the "chef's secret" to add zip and zest to your cooking. Use it wherever you would use lemon juice. I find it gives more depth to my berry smoothies and fresh fruit salads. It is also good to sprinkle in sugar free beverages and teas for a little excitement. If you are really feeling adventurous, you can use it to add a sour component to savory dishes. I add this to noodle soup with green onions for my version of "Tom Yum Soup".

Honorable Mentions:

Liquid sugar substitute:
 I use sucralose, liquid Splenda, but if you prefer something more natural, you can get liquid stevia, monk fruit, or agave sweeteners. I use this in coffee, tea, flavored beverages and more.

A Well Stocked Spice Rack:
I am trying to be more adventurous with spices to liven up my cooking, and there are many I haven't tried. To shake things up, I like to browse ethnic groceries for new spices. My essentials are garlic, cayenne, Italian seasoning, ginger, cinnamon, cardamon, curry, lemongrass, black pepper, sage, turmeric, cumin, celery, and minced onion, and, of course, sea salt.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Shop For a Cure, Cystic Fibrosis Fundraiser March 1-15th 2013

Handmade Goods Made by Amy Tilley Bachman for CF Fundraising Event
I am pleased to announce an exciting new fundraiser with several local businesses participating to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Hosted by Amy Tilley Bachman of Murfreesboro, the fundraiser will be simple and fun to participate in, all you have to do is shop! Amy, a crafter herself, of rustic, primitive household decor and wedding items is not only organizing the event, but donating 100% of sales from her personal online store- now THAT is commitment to a charitable cause! Here is a description from Amy about the event and a list of participating shops. If you are a seller that wants to be added to the list, contact Amy through the Facebook event page, linked below:

Shop for a Cure for CF
From March 1-15, shop ONLINE with the following businesses and a percentage of sales will be donated to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation! Every dollar raised will fund vital research towards finding a cure for this disease.
My husband, Jake (age 29) has Cystic Fibrosis, a life-shortening genetic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system. I am hosting this event to help raise funds and awareness for this disease. Let's make CF stand for Cure Found! To learn more about Cystic Fibrosis, please visit
Please help spread the word about this exciting event by sharing the Facebook event invitation with family & friends!
Not interested in shopping but would like to submit a donation? Go to to donate online.
Thank you for supporting the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation!

Handmade Jewelry from Earrings By Susan of Nashville 
My Milk Money – 100% Donation
Custom badge holders, Shabby chic style gifts & home decor
Blessings Unlimited – 15% Donation
(*Website will be down March 1-5*)
Inspirational home decor & gifts
Coffee, Kids & Dolls – $1 Donation for every item sold
Custom handmade items including tote bags, backpacks, doll clothes, crochet scarves, household decor & products for baby
I3aby Steps - 25% Donation
Bows, tutus & shirts
Earrings by Susan - 15% Donation
Pewter charm jewelry, Scrabble jewelry, wine glass markers & more - from fun upcycled pieces to elegant lace. Earrings for every ear!
Little Black Dog Boutique – 25% Donation
Handmade, unique high-quality dog collars, leashes, paper goods & accessories
(Be sure to include "Cystic Fibrosis" in the Notes to Seller with your order)
Marygolds - $5 Donation for every pendant sold
Unique and meaningful hand stamped pendants
Mylana – 15% Donation
Candles, soap, jewelry
Nellie Bug’s Tutus & More - 20% Donation
Custom clothing for boys & girls, bows, headbands, tutus & more
Pampered Chef – 15% Donation
Contact Kristie Hisey via e-mail or phone to order / 949-340-6891
Everything you need to cook & entertain at home
Stella & Dot - 15% Donation
Fashion jewelry & accessories
Thirty-One Gifts – 10% Donation
Totes, purses & accessories to help organize your life in style
Vivi's Jewels - 12% Donation
Fun felt creations for little heads and hearts
Handmade Soap from Mylana
Origami Owl - 20% Donation
Customizable jewelry line that allows you to tell your story through your very own living locket using the various charms, dangles & plates offered

Uppercase Living - 50% Donation
(Be sure to click 'Associate with Open House' on top right corner of website, then select 'Shop for a cure for CF'!)
Inspiring and creative vinyl expressions for the home

Wall Art From Little Black Dog

Monday, February 18, 2013

Featured Artisan: Nashonta From Kiia Bath And Body

Brown Sugar and Fig Soy Candle

Mmmmm, cranberry chutney, cherry almond, and pink passion are just a few of the featured scents from Middle Tennessee resident, Nashonta McDowell's online bath and body shop. Nashonta makes the products herself and her business is named Kiia Bath and Body. You can see her shop here:

Nashonta was kind enough to answer a few questions about her shop and creations for us. Let's hear what she has to say and see some pictures of her fragrant creations! Thanks for taking the time to tell us about yourself and your products:

Handmade Body Mist
I live in Nashville Tn. The favorite thing about my community is the support and love for local small businesses.

I own a natural bath & body business,I wanted to open a 
store-front selling other company's products but due to a lot of red tape and frustration I decided to make my own products and started my business in 2009 .I make Soy Candles, Body Butters,Body Creams, Bath & Body Oils etc.

I am always looking for something new to add to my business.Currently I am working on getting my products into some of the local natural food stores.

My favorite place to shop is Hobby Lobby for crafts, I could stay in there for hours.

If I had to pick a favorite item it would have to be my Body Butters because they help keep your skin moisturized all day they contain Shea Butter,Cocoa Butter and Jojoba Butter in them and my favorite scent would have to be Essence.

You can LIKE us on FB-
Twitter- @kiiabathbody
Pintrest- kiiabathbody
Check our facebook page for specials!!

Black Cherry Body Butter

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

How To Wrap and Label Handmade Soap on a Shoestring Budget

Plain Soap All Wrapped Up
 All artisans want their finished products, whether for sale or for gifts, to look professional and have an accurate label. This is of particular concern for craftspeople who specialize in bath and body items and need to be concerned about the potential for allergic reactions to their ingredients. Even "all-natural" soaps need to be labeled with full disclosure of ingredients. Plenty of people have reactions to herbs, nuts, oils, and other botanical in natural products. Therefore, it is in the best interest of everyone to have a nicely packaged product; the question is, how to do this without breaking the bank?

When you are just starting out a business or if you do your crafts for a hobby, you might not have a lot of spare cash to invest in product packaging. Luckily, soap can be wrapped very inexpensively. There is one "secret" ingredient to a good looking finished product that you should splurge on. Everything else costs literally pennies, but it is imperative to use a quick drying, high quality glue. Generic school glue sticks won't cut it. They dry wrinkly and you need to use a lot more product.

Here's what you all need:

Paper of any kind cut into 2 inch strips that are 12 inches long

Labels- mine are printed on vistaprint business cards, which can be purchased 500 for 10 dollars, I print 2 labels on a card and cut it in half for 1000 labels, the labels do not have to be self adhesive, you can glue them on

High Quality Glue or Tape Gun

Washi Tape, twine, ribbon

Nekkid Soap
 Here's how to wrap the soap:
1) Get your label and paper strips cut
2) Wrap soap in tightly in the strip of paper
3) Glue your paper band tightly
4) Set aside for 5 minutes to dry
5) Glue on label
6) Finish with ribbon, twine, washi tape or other embellishment.
Soap Label on a Business Card

Strips Of Paper From a Brown Bag

Soap Wrapped and Glued With Quick Dry Glue

Monday, February 11, 2013

Featured Artist: Ashley Rogers

Alcohol Ink Art
Today we are going to hear from Ashley Rogers, a multitalented artisan who makes decorated tiles, magnets, plaques, jewelry and more. She also blogs and lives in Oregon. Ashley owns the online shop Ashley After Dark.

1) Please tell us a little about yourself and what types of crafts you do? How did you get started and how long have you been doing it?
Pebble Magnet

I am an artist that loves trying new ideas and projects. I specialize in designing an assortment of gorgeous and unique alcohol ink products. You will find a very colorful variety of coasters, tiles, framed art, motivational and inspirational art pieces, as well as upcycled and repurposed jewelry. I am also in the process of adding a new line of trendy magnets. As time progresses I continue to branch out on new adventures in order to create fresh and new products.
I had been seeing etsy here and there and one day my sister in law mentioned she was opening a shop, knowing I had a love for creating, she suggested I look into it. Once I did, it was love at first sight. There are so many amazing items on etsy. The talent is so diverse and wonderful, its eye candy at all times.
I opened my shop July 2012, and have had fun ever since.

2) I see you work with alcohol inks. Can you tell our readers more about these inks, what they are and what types of craft applications you can use them in?

Domino Necklace 

Alcohol inks are by far my favorite medium to work with. It is a versatile acid free ink. It reminds me a lot of tie dye in the sense you have a lot of freedom with colors and mixing. 

3) What type of advice do you have for our readers that also have etsy shops about promoting and selling on etsy? What is the best advice you got about etsy when you first started?

Creations of any sort come from the heart and have meaning behind them for each and every individual. You must have confidence in yourself and in the products you are selling. In order to make it worthwhile you have to believe in yourself. 
The first craft fair I did was very intimidating, but it was also a great learning experience. There was a blind vision on my part that I could hide in the corner and magically sell my art. But as many of you know that is far from how it works. It forced me to communicate with buyers as well as various sellers in order to get my products out there. When I began to see results there was a confidence about me that I wanted to share with the world. If you are able to connect yourself with craft fairs and galleries it's something I would highly recommend to any artisan. 

You also have to go into selling with realistic expectations. Most etsy sellers aren't able to throw some items together, take a few pictures and make money. It takes patience and realistic goals. Success is not going to happen overnight.

4) Do you have any big plans for your shop in 2013?

Decorated Tile

I have already started on one of my plans, and that was to open a blog. You can find it at . I also would like to do some more craft fairs this year and keep selling my products. 

5) Most of our readers live in the Nashville, TN area, have you ever been to TN? If so, what was your favorite thing and if not, what would you like to see and do here in Tennessee?
I have never been to Tennessee, but would love to travel there someday. I would love to go to see all the musical sites.

6) Can you share your blog, Facebook, Twitter and other social media links with us?

Friday, February 8, 2013

DM Photography, Original Scenic Photos and Home Decor by Michelle

Ocean Sunrise Landscape Photography by DM Photography
Today, we are going to talk to Michelle, owner of DM photography and resident of Middle TN. She sells original photographic prints on easy, and also has a second shop, TN Craft Company, with mason jar crafts, including handmade soap dispensers. Her official business name is DM Photography, altough she sometimes goes by DDM. These are her 2 etsy shops:
1) Where do you live in TN and what is your favorite thing about your community?  I live about half way between Nashville and Cookeville in a small town called Carthage.  I am lucky to be close to many great photographic sites and opportunities.  Within a few hours drive I can be in the historic battlefields of Franklin or the majestic beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains.

2) What crafts do you do and how did you get started?  Well, photography is my first love.  I started it about 8 years ago.  I really started concentrating on it in the last few years with my desire to learn as much as I can and have my own business.  I focus on three main genres: landscape, macro, and portraits.  I sell artistic prints and miscellaneous photographic gifts, and portraits to clients.

Peaceful Stream Photo

I also love to quilt!  I picked this up sometime last year.  I had wanted to make myself a quilt for a long time but it seemed like a big undertaking.  I finally decided to jump in.  That was four quilts ago!
Mason Jar Crafts Made and Photographed by Michelle

3) What future plans or projects do you have in store for your crafts and business?  I want to expand my photography shop online.  I need to get a lot more things in my shop, more prints, and I want to add iPhone cases and the like.  I also want to add more variety in my letter prints.  I photograph objects that resemble letters and make prints.  I don't have any listed now because I am in the process of revamping all my offerings, but I want to get those re-listed.  I also want to get into more portrait work.  I have taken a break from it in the last year but I am ready again to build relationships with clients and take on more portraiture work.

4) Any favorite places in TN to buy craft supplies, take classes, or enjoy others' arts and crafts?  Hobby Lobby.  They always have an excellent supply of frames!  I can wonder around there for hours.
Letter Photograph Framed Art by DM

5) What is your favorite item in your store now?  That would have to be my Ocean Sunrise Photograph from St. Augustine Beach.  It brings back fond memories of our visit to the area.

6) Do you have any social media (Twitter, Facebook, Pintrest...etc.) to share? How about sales and promotions codes?  You can find me on Facebook at, and at  I am also getting ready to host a giveaway over at my Facebook page for all those living in the area.  The winner will receive a free mini session.  Be sure and like my page to keep up to date on this contest and what's going on with my portraits and my shop.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Handcrafted By Carol in McMinnville

Autumn Bracelet Made By Carol Hobbs
Today, we are going to hear from Carol, the owner of Ivy's Pebbles Jewelry shop on Etsy. Carol makes handmade jewelry, featuring many natural gemstones and boho themes. Her shop has plenty of leather and stone jewelry, along with wrap style bracelets, that are very popular. I am proud to present another artisan from the heart of Tennessee! Let's hear what Carol has to say about her crafts, and don't forget to write down the free shipping coupon code for Ivy's Pebbles. 

From Carol:

I live in McMinnville. I love the mountains here, but I love living in a small town where people take care of each other even more.
Southwestern Bracelet

I primarily make jewelry but I do have other arts and crafts interests. I started doing color pencil drawings in junior high. I did not have the opportunity to take lessons so I never developed that seriously. I have recently started a water color class. I've dabbled in other crafts...making jewelry hangers, painting chairs, etc.  

I plan to open a destash store on Etsy. I also plan on spending more time developing my website and possibly doing some craft fairs.

We have a store in downtown McMinnville (Et Cetera) that sells arts and crafts from local artisans, along with giving art, sewing, crocheting, and other various classes. I do make pieces that I sell at Et Cetera.

My favorite item in my shop is

I have a facebook page!/IvysPebbles

Ivy's Pebbles on etsy is currently offering free shipping FREESHIP13.

My blog:

Swaravski Pearls on Brown Cord

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Brewing Happiness in Murfreesboro: Coffee Kids N Dolls

Today, we are going to hear from Patty Ferguson, owner of Coffee Kids N Dolls, and Middle TN resident. Her online etsy shop features handmade doll clothes, doll parts, kids clothes, and more. She makes clothes and accessories for populars dolls, including Barbie and American Girl.

Handmade Doll Hat
1) Where do you live in TN and what is your favorite thing about your community?

I live in Murfreesboro, TN.  I moved here from out of state about 6 1/2 years ago and love the fact that Murfreesboro is a stand alone community.  We have a major university system here, a growing medical community, a rapidly improving school system, and almost every shopping amenity I could ever need.  I also have access to the greater Nashville area and top notch music, arts, and sports!

2) What crafts do you do and how did you get started?

I started sewing when I was a little girl.  My Mom used to sew clothing for people as a second job to pay the bills and we learned from her skills.  I grew up in a very small town in West Texas and there was little to no entertainment outside the home.  We would do lots of embroidery work and make our own crafts to pass the time.  I have ventured into several craft areas, but I prefer to work with fabric.  My favorite crafts are tote bags, backpacks, baby toys and supplies, and doll clothes.  I've also talked my Mom and sisters into creating some items for my Etsy store.

Baby Toys
3) What future plans or projects do you have in store for your crafts and business?

I am planning to get a "stock" supply of handmade backpacks ready by the end of the summer.  I am making patterns for some tablet covers and cases.  I plan to expand my baby items and toy line with gift sets and my original sensory tag animal line.  And, I just got an embroidery machine that opens the door to a lot of possibilities for personalized items.  I make all of my own patterns -- that is a big part of the fun in my projects!

Handmade American Girl Doll Red Dress

4) Any favorite places in TN to buy craft supplies, take classes, or enjoy others' arts and crafts?

I have my favorite stores, depending upon the supplies that I need.  I frequent Jo-Ann Fabrics for thread, Hobby Lobby for Canvas, and Wal-Mart for some basic supplies such as batting.  I also love to visit several stores in Franklin, especially the sewing machine and fabric centers. 

5) What is your favorite item in your store now?

My favorite store item is either my quilted tablet case or the baby tag toy animals. 

6) Do you have any social media (Twitter, Facebook, Pintrest...etc.) to share? How about sales and promotions codes?

I do have my own website at:
You can also find me on Facebook -- my id is "coffeekidsndolls"
And, I've created a special coupon code for anyone who finds me from this article.  Use the code "Blogspot" to get free shipping on any item in my store!