The past 6 months…

It doesn’t seem like long ago I was posting photos of the fires and looking forward to our summer trip home to Michigan. And now I am once again looking forward to a trip to Michigan, but it is for Christmas. Where on earth did time go? It was a time filled with stories, events, friendships, as well as some hardships. Things continue to be crazy, but in an effort to assure you I am still alive and kicking, here is a very summarized version of what I’ve been up to: Planned and implemented another even bigger clothing swap! It appears it will be a successful bi-annual event that I have  laid on myself to own. I hope to post some more specific tips and tricks in the coming months.

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I had yet another show in November at my favorite place in town, Yobel Market. They even allowed me to sell some of my crafted goods, of which I did many. It was a last minute switch to show in November instead of December, so I didn’t take many great pictures, but you will be seeing some tutorials on these goodies in the months to come. A little late for the christmas gifts for you, but there are many reasons to give gifts between now and next Christmas!

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SO MUCH BAKING. The people want to gather and eat when the whether starts cooling off, and I hate keeping things simple, so how about some apple, brie, and honey crescents? Or maybe a baked apple, squash, cranberry and brown sugar dish?

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And the following is where a large amount of my time has been spent. I have a great passion for what the store Yobel Market (yobelmarket.com) does. By encouraging fair wages, having personal relationships with suppliers, and supplying business trainings, they are helping people around the world break their bonds in poverty. In areas where a woman’s only hope of survival was the prostitute herself, she is has now learned to sew and is making a living for herself and her children. People living in poverty in northern India thought they were cursed because their businesses always failed, no matter how hard they tried. After getting business training and making local support groups, they have newfound hope and success. Every item sold at Yobel has a beautiful story of hard work, of perseverance, of redemption, of HOPE. And they are simply beautiful products to begin with! I have been wanting to do something meaningful with my photography. I do believe having a cherished family photo is meaningful, but I also have a conviction to help the poor, not just those who can afford to pay me for a photo. So, Yobel had a need, and I had the ability to to fill it, and I have had the joy (seriously, joy, even with the extra  hours of work) of helping expand their online selection and make it easier for people around the country to find and buy these great products that raise awareness and literally save lives around the globe!

web board

birds stroyboard

Kantha Coin Purse

Necklace Storyboard

Other Storyboard

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“Holiday Extravaganza” Recipe!

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This is my pinacle recipe. When I lived in Michigan my dad would pawn off his surplus butternut squash from the garden to me, a college student. What on earth does a very undomestic college student do with butternut squash? Thankfully I went to college when the internet was starting to become quite useful, so I googled a few recipes, got inspired, walked down the street to get some local apples and assembled this concoction that has been a hit at parties from Thanksgiving to Christmas ever since. I have yet to come up with a better name… I am taking suggestions!

I am flattered that people always want the recipe…The problem is, I don’t measure ANYTHING when I make this. I made an attempt the past couple times I made it this season, so hopefully these guides are helpful. *ALL MY MEASUREMENTS ARE APPROXIMATE*

INGREDIENTS

  • Butternut Squash – 1 large should be sufficient, or equivalent.
  • 4-6 apples, granny smith are my favorite for this.
  • Cranberries, about 6 oz (half a bag of Oceanspray cranberries. You can use the rest to decorate for Christmas!)
  • Walnuts, chopped (1.5 cup)
  • Cinnamon (I use 3-4tsp)
  • Ground Cloves (2tsp)
  • Ground Nutmeg (2tsp)
  • Brown Sugar (1cup)
  • Butter,( 4-6 Tbs)

EQUIPMENT

  • Vegetable Peeler
  • Good knives (This is always a must, but especially helpful with the squash)
  • A baking dish. I use this one, which is deeper than most traditional baking dishes. If you use a shallower dish this will affect the number of layers and I assume cooking time.

Prep Time: 1/2hr to an hr
Bake Time: 1.5 hr (may vary depending on baking dish size)

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Preheat oven to 350.
Start off by using your vegetable peeler to get the skin off the squash. I found this is the best way to loose the least amount of useful flesh, harder to get a close cut with a knife. How much skin you peel off is up to you, the light color and green lines are just as soft, but not as pretty. (Getting people to eat squash can be hard enough!)

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Cut the squash into easier to work with pieces.
I love how a fresh healthy squash leaks after cut…

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Scoop out the seeds and the muck inside the belly. If someone tries baking and seasoning these, let me know!

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Cut the squash into slices about 1/2 in thick.

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Then chop the slices into smaller pieces. I aim for around finger size. Don’t get your actual fingers mixed in.

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Start layering into the pan. I layer about 2 “fingers” deep, where the bottom of the dish is mostly covered. Then move on to the apples.

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I failed to photograph apple cutting… but hopefully you can figure it out.
I flip flop on whether I cut the peels off or not, but usually I keep the apple peel on to save time. Cut each apple into about 12 wedges per apple. Cut about half of those wedges into halves and/or thirds. Enough to cover most of the squash.

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Now for the extra tasty additions!
Slice up some butter and disperse around the surface of the apples.
The sprinkle with HALF the spices, we will be doing more layers. I don’t pour these into measuring spoons, just sprinkle across the surface. Go lighter on the cloves and nutmeg, they are a little stronger and more bitter. The cinnamon, though actually pretty bitter as well, helps to sweeten the flavor.

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As my husband says, “you can never have too much brown sugar.” I don’t 100% agree, but it sure tastes good!
Also disperse halve the nuts and half the cranberries somewhat evenly.

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Then, repeat! Another layer of squash, another layer of apples, top with butter, spices, brown sugar, cranberries, and walnuts.
With the top layer I often like to keep the apples in their long slices and make a fun design on the top. Again, depends on time. And how impressed you want people to be.

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If your lid doesn’t fit snuggly, you’ve done it right. It will bake down, and you will have more in the end.
Bake at 350 for about 1.5 hours until apples and cranberries look softened.

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And then YUM!
Doesn’t look quite as pretty after baking, but the smell in your house will MORE  than make up for it!
Make sure to wrap it up if to keep it warm if you aren’t eating immediately, it’s definitely best when hot.

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Let me know if you try any variations or alterations to make for shallower pans.