Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Pierogi Recipes from my kitchen to yours

My Pierogi making partners 2011
I want to share my family's pierogi recipe with all of you. It wouldn't be Christmas in my house without that favorite traditional Polish food, the pierogi. For those of you who don't know what a pierogi is, think of it as a large, stuffed dumpling. In our family we made 3 kinds of pierogi, potato-cheese pierogi, sauerkraut pierogi and plum pierogi. The dough is the same for all of the pierogi-only the pierogi filling recipe changes.

Pierogi dough:
4 cups white flour
4 whole eggs plus 2 egg yolks
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup sour cream

Measure flour into a large bowl. Add eggs, salt and sour cream. Mix together. I use a mixer just to get the dough started and then hand knead to finish. You don't want to overwork the dough or it will be tough. The dough will begin to form a ball as you knead the dough. If the dough is sticky, add a little additional flour and knead a bit more. Cover with a towel and let rest about 10 minutes.

Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface-a counter or kitchen table is a great place to use. I roll the dough about 1/4 thick and then cut dough in circles with a lightly floured glass or biscuit cutter. I then roll the circles out again to about 1/8 inch think and a slightly oval shape.

Put the filling in the center of your dough. Fold over and seal the edges. Here's a tip save the water from your potaoes and use the starchy water on your fingertip to run around the inner edges of the dough. Pinch and crimp well to seal the edges.

Drop into a pot of boiling salted water until the pierogi float. About 5-7 minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water. To prevent the pierogi from sticking to each other butter the boiled pierogi and stack between sheets of waxed paper.

To serve the pierogi, saute in butter until they just start to brown. As Aunt Sophie always said to me, don't let them get brown! Serve with sour cream. Smacznego!

Pierogi Filling Recipes:
Potato-Cheese Pierogi Filling

2 lbs peeled potatoes-about 6 cups-boiled, mashed and cooled.
1 cup of minced onion
1/4 cup butter
1 lb farmers cheese if you can't find farmers cheese in you market, you can use 2 lbs cottage cheese that has been well drained in a cheese cloth.
 salt and pepper.

Saute the minced onion in butter until soft and lightly golden. Add to mashed potatoes, mix in farmers cheese and season to taste with salt and pepper. Use about 2 Tablespoons of filling to each pierogi.
Okay-I used 10 lbs of potatoes!

Sauerkraut Pierogi Filling:

1 large can or jar of sauerkraut
1 oz dried Polish mushrooms (you can substitute any dried mushrooms)
1 cup minced onion
1/4 cup butter

Rinse and drain sauerkraut. you can chop it if you like it finer. Simmer dried mushrooms in water until soft-about 15 minutes. Drain and rinse well to remove any grit. Chop until finely minced. Saute chopped onions in butter until light golden yellow. Combine all ingredients together. Use about 2 tablespoons of filling per pierogi.

Plum Pierogi Recipe:
1 large can of plums.

Drain plums. Remove pits from plums. Use 1 plum per pierogi. My Aunt Kay would dip the boiled pierogi into butter and then into fine white bread crumbs and then saute them in butter.

Sweet Cheese Pierogi Filling Recipe:
1 lb farmers cheese
1/4 cup sugar
1tsp. vanilla extract
1 egg
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. grated orange rind
Mix together ingredients. If you can't find farmers cheese, you can substitute 2 lbs of small curd cottage cheese that has been pressed through a cheesecloth to make a dry cottage cheese. Use about 2 tablespoons of filling per pierogi.

I'd like to thank my brother Adam, who compiled a recipe book of our family's traditional family recipes. Thanks to his hard work, those memories, stories and recipes are preserved for future generations of our family.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

How to remove tarnish from silver naturally

Have you ever wondered how to remove tarnish from silver without using chemicals? I don't have anything horrible against commercial tarnish removers, I just try to subscribe to a philosophy of living a simpler, more natural life.

You can easily remove tarnish from silver using a few ordinary items that can be found in your kitchen.  All you need to remove tarnish from sterling silver are: aluminum foil, baking soda and some hot water. That's it!  Take a look at this tarnished sterling silver that I had in my studio:

Pretty ugly-right?

Here's the same sterling silver beads and ear wires afterwards :

Amazing isn't it? What a difference. In less than a minute the sterling silver went from unusable to bright and shiny as new! Here's the steps to remove the tarnish.

1. Place a piece of aluminum foil in a shallow dish. I used a glass cake dish, but a shallow bowl or plastic container would work just fine. Just line it with the foil.
2. Put in your tarnished silver. Add about 2-3 teaspoons of baking soda.
3. Cover with very hot water.

The water will foam up a little -it's the action of the baking soda. I shake around the container a few times. If all the tarnish doesn't come off right away, you can repeat this a couple of times. I use a fresh piece of foil each time I repeat the process.

Finally just rinse and dry. Your sterling will be bright and shiny. This works just as great on your tarnished jewelry too! The only caution is using this on dyed pearls and stones-you might want to test this first to be sure you don't lose any color. I have used this on my dyed stones and pearls without any trouble, I just use warm water and don't let the pearls and stones soak to long, and dry them promptly.

Please let me know if you have tried to clean your silver with this method. I'd love to hear about your results.

If you share this natural method of cleaning your silver, please cite my blog. I hope you will share my tipsand leave me a comment!

Thanks Friends!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

It's time for a beach getaway

Handmade Gifts

I hope you will check out some great ideas for a beach get away on my ArtFire Collection.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Exploring Handmade Holiday Shopping Event-Day 6 Jewelry Designers

Today is the day that I'm part of the Holiday Shopping Event!

I hope you will have a chance to check out all the artisans in this Holiday Shopping Event. To celebrate my addition today I'm offering a special offer: Free Shipping to the US and Canada. It's for today only and all you have to do is enter the coupon code FREESHIPPING when you checking out and paying for your items!
So be sure to check out my studio.

Happy shopping everyone!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Exploring Handmade Holiday Shopping Event-Day 5 MIxed Media and Personalized Gift Artisans

Happy Holiday shopping everyone! Today's artisans are mixed media and personalized gift artisans. The holidays are the perfect time for personalized gifts. Be sure to order soon, to allow the time for your custom pieces to be done. These ladies are seriously multi-talented and can make you great gifts for any occasion and anyone on your gift list! 

Here's an example from  Christy Carroll of Taylor June Gifts:

Sometimes talent does run in the family. Yesterday you met Kae's daughter, Yasuko. Yasuko originally started her online shops to promote her mother's work. Kae, born and raised in Japan, has been a Japanese Calligrapher for over 40 years. She creates beautiful calligraphy artworks, Shodo and Sumi-e paintings.  

This piece is very lovely:

I hope you are keeping up with all the Days on the Shopping Event. Just a heads up, tomorrow I'll be one of the featured jewelry artisans. I hope you'll stop buy and take a look!

Happy Holiday Shopping!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Exploring Handmade Holiday Shopping Event-Day 4 Quilters and Seamstresses

We're off to another great day of shopping today! Today's featured craftspeople all are make sewn items. Whether you love the look of hand made quilts like this one by Sieber Designs:
Or perhaps you're in the mood for a new purse? Just like shoes, you can never have too many purses!
I love the vibrant colors in this bag by Yasuko of KaeArtworks.

There are more crafts people to meet on the event blog. We've got a week to go, so I hope you are checking back in every day. I have to say Debi has put in a lot of work, selecting and doing all the write-ups and promoting. Just think about it, if every person bought just ONE item handmade this year, what an impact it would be. 

In these economic times, wouldn't it feel great to support local crafts people and artisans? I know I'm going to be shopping hand made this year. I hope you will join me.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Exploring Handmade Holiday Shopping Event-Day 3-Jewelry Designers

I hope everyone is enjoying the Handmade Holiday Shopping Event.
Today's featured artisans are Jewelry Designers, but wait where am I? Not to worry, my turn will be coming up soon! Can you believe all the different things  that are available out there?

This kumihimo braided necklace really caught my eye.
 It's from the Etsy shop of Kim Stewart. I've tried  kumihimo braiding-it's not that easy. Her necklace is very well done.

I hope you've had as much fun looking at some of these talented artisans. I can hardly wait for tomorrow. I think I need to start buying some items.  Be sure  to let me know if you have taken a look at the shopping event. I hope you have liked it on Facebook.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Exploring Handmade Holiday Shopping Event-Day 2 Crocheting and Knitting Artisans

I hope you had fun exploring the lampwork artisans on Day One of this Holiday Shopping Event! Today's featured artisans of Textile Artisans-also known as Knitters and Crocheters! We're having so much fun showcasing craftspeople and bringing you a handmade shopping experience.

Here's just a sample of what 's in store for you!

Shopping handmade does so many things, first you're dealing directly with the artisan or crafter. You get to meet and find out a little about who created your purchase. If you need customization, they right there to help you out. Also, small craftspeople tend to continue to spend and buy in their local communities. I know that when I source my materials, I try to shop local.

You can follow the Holiday Shopping Event on Facebook to hear about the latest shopping news.

I'd love to hear your comments!

Happy Shopping!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Exploring Handmade ~ Holiday Shopping Event ~ Day 1

 Exploring Handmade ~ Holiday Shopping Event ~ Day 1

Here's a way to explore a myriad of gift selections for the Holiday period. From today until November 28th over 75 Artisans will be showcasing some special gifts for the Holidays. Think about it, no driving to the mall, no hassling with parking, You don't even have to get out  of your pajamas to shop!

Occupy Wall Street this Holiday Season AND Get Great Gifts

Need gifts for loved ones? Want to send Congress, Wall Street and Corporate America a message loud and clear? Want to do both at the same time
I'm sure everyone's heard about the "Occupy Wall Street" movement and others like it around the world. Well, I'm hoping to start an Occupy Wall Street movement of my own to aid in global economic recovery... yup, BIG dreams :) How, you ask?
Well, we know Congress, Wall Street and Corporate America are NOT going to get us out of this mess. That's for sure. It's SMALL businesses like mine and those of other artisans and entrepreneurs that are going to do it.
We're all doing more with less so make the most of your hard-earned dollars this holiday season...let them do TRIPLE duty!! No matter what gift-giving holiday you're celebrating, you can Occupy Wall Street AND help our economy by shopping with handcraft artisans online and locally.
When you buy from individual designers, artists and other crafts people, you're supporting small businesses. You're supporting the business of the individual designer AND all the businesses...usually small businesses...that they do business with. And growing these small businesses is what will get our economy back on track and be instrumental in keeping it there! This applies in any country around the globe.

AND at the same time, you'll get truly unique and precious gifts for your family and friends that will make your holidays more meaningful. It's a win-win-WIN :) And I'm going to help you!

Todays featured artisans are lampwork bead makers. Oh their work is so pretty! This is just a sample of one of todays featured artisans.

I'll be part of this unique shopping experience too! I'm not sure what day my work will be featured, so keep checking back and as soon as I know I'll let you  know to! To find out more about this event and to get all the current info-like this on FaceBook! I'm asking all my followers to pass this on to their friends.

Happy shopping!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Is there such a thing as work life balance?

I've had my shop active on Artfire for a while. Admittedly, I really haven't put much effort into it in the last few months. It got to be a bit overwhelming. I really enjoy creating my jewelry, but I'm not good at marketing it. Do you really expect people to be beating down door with sales if you don't try to get some exposure? Yes, I've had sales. Mostly I think I've been found through searches. So I decided it was time to figure out what I wanted to do for my business and how much time and energy I wanted to put into this. Since I have a full time career outside of Artfire, work life balance is something I really struggle with. Do you feel this way too? Life seems to tug at me in all directions at once!

After laying "dormant" for a a while-was my last post really in July?I decided it was time to try to figure out how I could fit in my jewelry business in with the rest of my life. One of the first things I came to realize is that when we try to allocate X amount of time to everything we do, life gets in the way! Work life balance needs to be just that. It doesn't mean that I have to have a rigid schedule everyday. Life happens.

I decided to sit down and figure out what it is I REALLY want to do. And I came to the conclusion that I really do enjoy making jewelry. In fact, I want to further my craft. I took a beginning solder class and I want to pursue that further. As far as business is concerned, I've decide that it is something I like to do. I'm going to work a bit harder to promote my studio, and to get onto a schedule and habit of posting new items and blogging and promoting.

Do you have have any suggestions on how you balance your time? I'd love to hear about your challenges.

In the mean time,  have a wonderful day!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Frozen Key Lime Pie

Easy, No Bake Frozen Key Lime Pie


A super simple summer dessert. This key lime pie has no raw eggs in the recipe. Cool and tangy with a zesty lime flavor. Perfect for a hot summer day!

1 8 oz container Cool Whip-thawed
1/2 c key lime juice
1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk

1 prepared Graham cracker crust

2 limes
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 Tblsp confectioners sugar

In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together lime juice and sweetened condensed milk. Gently fold in Cool Whip, mix until well blended. Pour mixture into a 9-inch prepared graham cracker crust. Freeze 3-4 hours or overnight until firm.

Zest 1 of the limes, and slice the other lime thinly for garnish. In a chilled bowl, Mix whipping cream until thickened. Add the confectioners sugar and lime zest. whip until the cream is thickened and stiff. Garnish the pie with the whipping cream and lime slices.

Serves 8

This is a super easy no fail recipe. It's always a hit at summer cook outs. Light and full of lime flavor. I prefer to use key lime juice, but regular lime juice can be substituted. I hope you enjoy this!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Industrial Revolution. I think you need to join me.

My new studio home on the web is a wonderful place called Artfire.I've been so happy to join a talented group of artisans and craftsmen. Artfire has been having a promotion in which they feature a daily Collection curated by a  member-and in today's email...what a surprise! My collection, Industrial Revolution, was chosen! I enjoy making the collections, not only do I get to showcase some very talented artisans, I get to see many types of craftwork that I would not normally look for.

And don't forget-if you use my referral code to join up you can get your third month free! How great is that!

So need five great reasons to join me?
Here's my top five:

1. A fabulous group of quality artisans. I used to sell on Etsy and always felt I was competing with resellers and millions of other pieces of jewelry. Here on Artfire you notice the difference in quality as soon as you start browsing.

2. Reasonable usage fees- low monthly fees and you can list as much as you want-no more paying relisting fees just to get your product higher in the searches.

3. A commitment to the artisan members by the staff. I can't say how important this is. I think Artfire is continually working on its site and giving us all the tools we can use. The staff is quick to help out and answer questions and give suggestions. A great help to those of us how are fairly new to online selling. They listen to their community and implement many of our suggestions.

4. Feeding our items into the search engines-If you're a seller you know how important it is to be "found".

5.You'll make friendships with many talented artisans. If you need some help you can just give a shout out and someone will give you a hand.

I hope you will think about joining me on Artfire. I can't wait to see your studio.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Working my way through the 45 Day Success Guide-Week Three

Well it's been a bit over a month that I've had my Artfire Studio up and running. I'm still working at my own pace on the Artfire 45 Day Success guide. I've been taking my time to set-up my shop, join some guilds and do a bit more in the way of promotion. Here's some of what I've been working on:
  • Day 15-Setting up your SEO testing. SEO? anything like REO? What the heck is SEO and how do test it? SEO means search engine optimization. In other words, it's how people find you in search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other search engines. Each search engine has it's own way of ranking your listings. It's usually a combination of your product title and description. By testing different ways to write your descriptions you can help determine what descriptions work best for you. I try to vary my titles-especially when I list similar items. Today I listed 13 pairs of sea glass earrings. In some of the listings I started off with the words "sea glass" in others "beach glass" in others I started out with other descriptions. This way I hope to capture the attention of people searching  using different terms.
  • Day 16-Has you listing some of your prior work. I listed some things I've listed when I was on Etsy, but that I haven't listed yet on Artfire. Many times people will list things from their art or craft shows or prior sold items.
  • Day 17-Meet the staff. The staff often posts in the forums-hey it's nice to know that frittering away some of their day hanging out with us too! Tony, one of the co-founders is usually checking in daily. If you have a problem just ask. I had an issue come up this week with my studio announcement and they we right on top of it. Good work!
  • Day 18-It's a work day. Hey it's fly fishing season for me around here. I think I'm heading to the stream. Work can wait. The trout won't.
  • Day 19-Setting up your Rapid Cart and Facebook Kiosk. If you look to the right side of my blog you'll see a Rapid Cart feature. I've got it set up to view 6 random items from my studio. The cool thing about it is, that instead of just linking to my studio, you can actually purchase something without navigating away! I haven't had any on try it yet. But for my type of blog, which brings in a lot of people looking for things likes recipes or tutorials, I'm hoping it will be a nice feature. The same thing goes for the Facebook Kiosk-it's a check-out application on your  business page.
  • Day 20-More SEO-by now you should be starting to get more comfortable with writing titles and descriptions. The one thing to remember is that your not really writing nice flowery titles naming your products. Think of them as you would try to "Google" an item.I suggest searching on a couple of different search engines on how your titles show up. Here's a good example. If you search "strawberry jello pretzel desert" in exactly that order you'll find my recipe number 1 in Google-and I might as it's been in number 1 (or very close to it) since 2009! I even beat out places like cooks.com and allrecipes.com! On Bing and Yahoo it doesn't come up until page 3. It also places on the first page on Ask.com.. So you can see I'm happy most people use Google and I try to optimize my titles for Google searches. One of the things you'll notice in my posts are links. Click on my titles and the highlighted words and you 'll be taken to something I've mentioned. Did you know that having these links in your posts actually improve your credibility? I didn't. But having links in your posts increase the likelihood that you will increase your ranking in the search engines. But, don't over do it. You want to be credible without selling every word to an add or link! Don't you just hate it when you get to a post and just about every word in the post is an ad!
I hope you're finding my journey interesting and helpful. I'd love to hear how some of you are doing setting up your shops and studios. If you have been around for a while, I'd love to hear your suggestions.

Nobody trips over mountains.  It is the small pebble that causes you to stumble.  Pass all the pebbles in your path and you will find you have crossed the mountain.  ~Author Unknown

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Working my way through the 45 Day Success Guide-Week Two

Well, I'm working my way through the Artfire 45 Day Success Guide, albeit it's going a lot more slowly than the 45 days. Like many others, my Artfire Studio isn't my only job. I have to fit it into my schedule as time permits. I check in daily-I'm hoping to see that first sale on Artfire-I usually post in the forums, check out facebook when I can and even sneak in a couple of tweets. When do I have time to create? So here's the second weeks goals:
  • Day 8-Listing and Starting your blog. One of the features of Artfire is that your studio has it's own blog tab. I find this a bit redundant for those of us who already have outside blogs such as this one. I have posted a couple of articles, but I'll stick with this as my main blog. The upside is that Google seems to like blogs when it crawls for content. The goal is to post 10 more items and 3 posts in the forums.
  • Day 9-Studio Clean-Up-silly me-I thought this meant the cleaning genie was going to appear at my house and clean up my studio-A prayer answered! funny thing, that's not what Artfire had in mind. Their idea of studio clean-up is to add categories to your studio. Lucky for me I had them already in place. Oh yeah list another 10 items. Well, I'm still working on that.
  • Day 10-Work Day! Yeah a day off to create....or just catch a few extra zzzz's. This is the kind of a day I can enjoy!
  • Day 11-Social Media Set-up Day. Now I know why they gave me that day off yesterday-Artfire want to lull me into believing I was sailing right along. Yea, more like a moth drawn to a flame. Here's todays goals: Set-up a Twitter and Facebook Fan Page. But if that wasn't enough How about 3 tweets and 2 Facebook posts, 3 Forum posts and just for good measure post 5  more items. Hey these people aren't fooling around! Well I may not be the most Social Media savvy person on my block, but I do manage a tweet now and then, and Facebook-I don't like to be too spammy. In fact, The fastest way to have me "unfollow" you is when I see dozens of posts from your shop. 
  • Day 12-Social Media Day Two-What there's more? Actually Artfire recommends an outside blog...like here on Blogger. Well at least I've got that covered.  Maybe I should tweet about it...
  • Day 13-Listing and Interacting-Hey isn't this Social Media Day 3? List 5 more items-Tweet one and feature another on Facebook. Didn't I say something about not being spammed with all those look at this item I listed today posts. Really people, I don't mind looking at all your things, but not all in one day. And make it a bit interesting for me.
  • Day 14-Work Day! thank goodness. I need to take a nap.
Actually, following the 45 Day Success Guide  has done a few good things for me, it keeps me off the streets, out of the bar, neglecting my family, shot my diet all to Hell...no really, I find myself at least trying to maintain a bit of a schedule of working on my studio daily. I just need a bit more time to create and photograph my items-it isn't easy to get natural daylight at 9 pm in Michigan this time of year!

So if you're new to Artfire...How goes your Week? For the rest of you lucky souls, why don't you go check out some of my latest designs. And how about leaving me a link to your Facebook Fan Page or your Twitter Link. I promise-I won't spam you! And for all you lurkers-Hey leave me a comment!

Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.  ~Thomas Edison

It's A Handmade World: A Glimpse of Spring

It's A Handmade World: A Glimpse of Spring

If your looking for some spring gifts, or just some inspiration, how about going over to the blog It's a Handmade World. She put together a blog post where artisans with handmade goods can post there items. This weeks theme is spring. It's quite a collection.

No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow.  ~Proverb

Friday, March 18, 2011

Red Winged Blackbird

What's your harbinger of Spring? For some it's a robin, but here in Michigan we get robins that stay all winter. For me it's the first red-winged blackbird that I see.I look forward to seeing the birds and hearing their distinctive call. I got a bit curious about my favorite spring bird and found out some interesting items about him on this entry:

The blackbird has long been associated with omens and mysticism. Its color, alone, has evoked both fear and promise. Although called a blackbird, only the males are black. Females usually have a streaky, brown plumage. Not all blackbirds are black. One variety has a yellow head and throat which stands out strongly against the black plumage. The yellow and black coloring has long been associated with the Archangel Auriel. Auriel is considered the tallest of the angels, with eyes that can see across eternity. This being oversees all of nature and all of the nature spirits. Auriel has traditionally been associated with the summer season.

Another variation of the blackbird is the red-winged blackbird. This bird has a red path on its wings, with a dash of yellow as well. These colors connect this bird to the level know as Binah in the Quabalistic Tree of Life. This is the level associated with the Dark Mother and primal feminine energies. This bird has ties to all of the creative forces of nature. On the Tree of Life, black is the color for Bnah and red is the color for Geburah (Mars type of energy). Yellow or amber is the color of the path that connects the two, and it is the path of Cancer, the mother sign of the zodiac. The red-winged blackbird is thus a totem associated with the stellar energies of Cancer.

Who knew? My astrological sign is Cancer, maybe that's why I like this bird so much. Anyway, I hope you like my harbinger of spring. Do leave a comment and share with me what you consider to be a sure sign of spring. I can't wait to hear what you have to say!

"It's spring fever.  That is what the name of it is.  And when you've got it, you want - oh, you don't quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!  ~Mark Twain"
Until later,

Enjoy your day.