E is for Entertaining


Christmas tends to be party time, doesn’t it?  Christmas and summer, both big on parties.  I suspect that the Christmas party idea extended at least back to pioneer days, when neighbors got together for one last hurrah before the winter weather had them all penned in at home. 

I can’t imagine Christmastime without the people I love the most.  I love to entertain, although entertaining need not be fancy.  A mug of hot chocolate and storebought cookies with a friend can be just as wonderful as a full meal with appetizer and dessert with the full extended family.


I like to try at least one new recipe each year, as something special for my friends and/or family to try.  So far so good!  We haven’t had a dud yet.  Last year we made these little savory thumbprint cookies that were almost like little egg and cheese souffles.  They were SO good – I got the recipe out of a Martha Stewart magazine, I sure wish I could remember which one.

My most important "entertaining" of Christmastime is a special dinner just for Chris and I.  It’s pretty simple, and usually enjoyed for Christmas eve.  In my house, we called it "bits and pieces."  We go to some fancy grocery store we don’t normally shop at, like Central Market, and wander the isles picking out "fancy" finger foods to enjoy.  Usually this consists of a couple cheeses, fresh bread, flavored olive oil, a selection of choices from the olive bar, dried figs and dates, nuts, a pomegranate, salami, turkey breast, and I don’t even know what else.  All I can say is yum. 


Some of our best moments together are spent over food.  Did you ever notice that?  We’re intoxicated by the yummy flavors, tantilizing smells, the pretty table set before us, and we’re all seated, facing each other, giving our full attention to one another, rather than TV or radio.  We just get along better.  Shortly after I started college, I got really into formal entertaining, specifically tea parties.  Throughout the years I’ve learned more and more about the balance between making the event extra special for my guests so that they feel pampered, and spending less time in the kitchen and more time at the table.  I enjoy cooking so much, and I also enjoy expressing to my loved ones how important they are to me, but I also want to actually spend the evening with them too.

I’m not sure what we’ll do this year, now that we have Ben.  I imagine a lot of entertaining will be involved, whether it be at our home, or at someone else’s.  As this is a time of celebration to us, we find it best to spend with others.  We want Ben to be able to spend time with people that love him, and for those people to get to hold him and love on him.

Its been a while since we posted a photo.  Here is one of him last night.  Daddy put a toy on his head. 


Silly daddy.

D is for Decorations

Christmastime is a feast for the senses.  I love the myriad of colors, lights, shapes, textures, and themes that dazzle and delight everywhere I go.  I’m 29 years old and I have yet to tire of it all.


Vintage glass glitter goodies from Wendy Addison of Seasons of Cannon Falls.


Angels watching over us…


Rudolph, of course.


Festive entertaining, by Park Designs.


Ho Ho Ho!

We have so many different styles and themes in the store.  This is my third Christmas as owner of The Weed Patch, and I have to remind myself that there will be many more Christmases to come, and many more fabulous shapes, colors, characters, textures, themes, and styles to come, so I try very hard to limit myself to my favorites.  Sometimes I actually succeed…

C is for Crafts


Crafting is simply the best way to enjoy the holiday season – well, besides cooking, baking, singing carols, visiting friends and family, decorating the tree, and gift-giving, of course.  I enjoy a wide variety of arts and crafts, and they tend to follow the seasons – Spring is watercolors, Summer is oils, Fall is collage and crochet, but Christmas is all about crafting.  Out comes the felt, buttons, paper, scissors, bells, beads, glues, glitter, pipe cleaners, fat quarters, googly eyes, and more.  I could just sit and start at all the fun goodies waiting to be turned into something wonderful, and sometimes I do.  A sort of tradition my friends Beth, Holly, and I started is having a tea and crafting afternoon together – we drink tea, eat goodies, and talk, all while working on some sort of Christmas crafting project.  One year I made cards, another year I knitted a scarf for my mom.  I have some ideas about what I might do this year, but then again I’ve never been lacking ideas.  My problem has always been which one to choose!


I love to make gifts.  I love to receive handmade gifts.  On Sunday, I received my Christmas gift from Holly rather early.  I haven’t taken a photo yet, though, happily, Holly has, so I stole it from her blog to show you here.  Not only has she blessed me with a handmade gift of my very first Advent calendar ever, she did indeed fill each one of those handsewn little white felt envelopes with a small gift, one for each day.  The first gift was this book.


It is just the kind of thing I had been looking for to read together with my family during December – it is full of stories, devotional readings, scripture passages and prayers.  The second gift was an adorable little pair of socks for Ben.  We haven’t opened today’s gift yet.  Words simply cannot express how much I love this gift.  Leave it to Holly to know exactly the kind of thing I want, without even asking me, and then make it herself.  I’m just blown away.

By the way, Holly wrote a lovely blog entry about Advent the other day – she has this wonderful talent of taking the big pile of words swimming around in my own head like a school of a billon tiny fish in the ocean, and expressing it perfectly and eloquently and sensibly.  Without all the wild hand gestures and the "you know what I mean?"  Thus I am also so excited to see that she has started a second blog devoted entirely to spending a year in the church calendar.  Having grown up in a baptist church, I hadn’t heard much about the church calendar (that I can recall), such as Lent, until I went to college.  I find I really love the focused, scheduled times of celebration and introspection, so I plan to follow this blog quite closely throughout the year.  If you’d like to join in, visit the blog here.

But anyway, I digress…

C is for Crafting.  Crafting is one of the most coziest things ever, and I’m all about the coziness in winter, especially for Christmas.  What are your favorite Christmas crafts?  Do you have ones you like to do with your kids?  There is a myriad of ideas out there – some related to Christmas themes, and others more general for an anytime gift.  Here are a few tutorials from some of the blogs I love to read: 

Felt Elf Clogs
Travel Tissue Holder
Super Easy Keychain
Festive Felt Penguins
Embroidered Felt Ornaments

I’ll be listing a craft tutorial myself, but I’ll do it on a separate post, because I can’t seem to stop typing and this post is getting really loooooong.

B is for Baking


Cooking all manner of things has become more and more enjoyable to me within the last several years – baking feels among the most artistic forms of creating food, one that I seem to enjoy the most at Christmastime.  I have memories of making sugar cookies as a child with my mom, mixing up the dough, waiting impatiently for it to chill in the fridge, rolling it out on the counter, eating bits of it raw.  Then we’d cut them out, bake them, and mix up different colors of powdered sugar icing and art them up.  We also made peppermint bark, english toffee, fudge, Russian tea cakes, and for Christmas morning, a gooey cinnaman and sugar pull-apart.

Chris has memories of his Grandma’s Spritz cookies.  Enjoy the recipe!

Grandma Esther’s Spritz Cookies

¼ lb. margarine
¼ lb. butter

½ c. sugar
1 egg yolk
2 c. flour
1 tsp. almond extract

Cream margarine, butter and sugar.  Add egg yolk and then flour.  Add almond extract.  Put through cookie press.  Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes.

Makes 6 dozen.

Baking feels like the cooking version of crafts.  Add this and that and the other thing, put it in the oven, and you have something that is sweet, tasty, and pretty.  A few sprinkles here, a dollop of colorful frosting there.  Yum.  I will so enjoy it when my son is old enough to start baking our favorite Christmas recipes with us…


A is for Advent

I love Advent. I actually don’t recall ever having an advent calendar as a child – you know, those paper posters with the little cardboard doors that you got to open once a day starting in December, with a little piece of chocolate hidden inside. And I must have totally missed it when our church did the readings and candle lighting for the Advent Sundays, because I don’t remember them. It wasn’t until college when I started being exposed to different family traditions and religious celebrations that I recall realizing what advent is. Holly says I’d enjoy being catholic or Lutheran, because I love calendars and seasons so much. And I really do. I have such a hard time tracking one moment to the next that I love any period of focused thought or introspection on a particular subject or season, leading up to a final event or celebration. It helps me to focus. Maybe because was never forced to do such a thing as I child, I love such tradition now.

Anyway, I love Advent. I love to be able to check off a day, and anticipate opening some little door, or peeking inside a little envelop, or hanging some sort of little object to count off the days leading toward Christmas. I also love all the different kinds of advent calendars out there. The photo above is just a smattering of different personal takes on the calendar idea that came up when I searched on flickr. I can’t wait to make my own someday. I’m taking forever to decide what to do, because I love so many different ideas, I can’t possibly limit myself to one. Although, who says you have to have just one? You can have more than one, couldn’t you? I think so. There aren’t any rules, I don’t think!

I also love the Advent Sundays in church. We have finally decided on a church to attend, since we have moved out of Snohomish. The decision was an agonizing one, since we have grown to really love our little Snohomish community church, but since we no longer live in that community, and likely won’t for several years, we felt it was important to attend one closer to where we live and work. We have decided to join our very best friends at their church, which is in the same community as the store. What in the world can be better than attending church with your best friend, and watching your kids grow up together in the same nursery and Sunday school? I’m very excited. This Sunday is the first Advent Sunday, I think – this first Sunday is for Hope.  Each church likely will have its own readings for that day, so we’ll see what we see tomorrow, but one thing I think of is the familiar poem by Longfellow – its message of hope has struck a chord with me, and has become one of my favorite carols:

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

I thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head:
"There is no peace on earth," I said,
"For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men."

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men."

Till, ringing singing, on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,
Of peace on earth, good will to men!

One Day To Go


Only one more day to go before December!  Can you believe the last month of 2007 is finally here?  What a year.  My news that I never did explain was that we bought our first house.  Finally!  It seems like it has taken so long, but then we’ve only been married for 5 years – many couples wait a lot longer than that to get into their first house, so I think we’re actually especially fortunate.


So, this means we get to celebrate Benjamin’s first Christmas in our first house.  We have a bunch of photos of the place, but I don’t have them right now.  I’ll post them another time.  At any rate, needless to say, I am very excited about the Christmas season this year.  Not just Christmas day, but all the wonderful moments leading up to it.  Sights, sounds, smells, tastes, songs, stories, and games.

As such, I have decided to post every day during the month of December, to include a decorating idea, poem, song, recipe, craft, or memory, anything that sparks my interest for the month.  I hope you find this holiday season to be a very merry one!

Thanksgiving Goodness


"Welcome to my heart, Spirit of Christmas – I’ve been waiting for you all year!"  -Kimber Anne Engstrom.

Well, it was a fine Thanksgiving weekend, wasn’t it?  The weather over here in Washington State was our family’s absolute favorite – bright and sunny, but cool and crisp.  I of course was inside for all of it, however, but that is exactly where I wanted to be, as I was cooking up a storm.  I know that most people are trying to get away from the whole spending-all-day-in-the-kitchen thing, but I’m young and energetic and still want to make things from scratch, so I was very happy. 

I split most of the cooking with my mother-in-law – she made the traditional things, and I made some brand new things.  I was so proud of myself this time, I actually was staying on schedule.  See, i print out my recipes, and write down exactly what needs to be done for each, and what time they need to be done, so that everything’s on the table at the right time.  Unfortunately, I hadn’t taken into account the need for Elaine and I to coordinate when she arrived at our home with four dishes that needed to be heated up, and two dishes of mine that needed to be made at the last minute, while keeping the stuffing and meat warm. 

Ah well – I know better now what to do for next time, and the food really did all taste good.  We had turkey, stovetop stuffing, mashed potatoes, candied yams, green beans with toasted almonds, balsamic cipollini onions, cornbread stuffing with roasted fall vegetables, brussels sprouts with chestnuts and gorgonzola, cider glazed pork loin, then all the usual accompaniments.  I made Chris’ favorite appetizer – a baked brie wrapped in phyllo dough and stuffed with a mixture of toasted pecans, caramelized onions, and dried fruits.  I was thinking of putting this recipe in the next newsletter, but then I realized that is the January/February Newsletter, so it isn’t really fitting.  So, I’ll just blog it, then you can make it for your guests!

This Thanksgiving was one of my more meaningful ones, I think.  I am so thankful for so many things, and I love a holiday that centers around gratitude.  Gratitude must be rather important to have an official, government-declared holiday dedicated to it, don’t you think?  I am so thankful that I was able to celebrate Thanksgiving in our new home.  I realized that at 29 years old, we now have a business, a home, a son, friends and family, even a cat.  I’ve had some less than wonderful days lately, but when I look at the big picture, I realize that we are truly richly blessed.  Currently I’m reading a series of books I haven’t read since I was a child, which is set with a family of pioneers who have traveled west to stake their claim in uninhabited territory.  We take a lot for granted here in America.  I can open a refridgerater full of food and complain that there is nothing to eat.  I could complain that our house needs a paint job, new carpet, or a bigger kitchen, but I have running water, a roof over my head, and warm bed to sleep in.  My child is not only healthy and happy, he sleeps through the night!  And now we welcome in the first Christmas season in our new home, with our new son, and I am just tickled.  To see Christmas through the eyes of my child…I can’t imagine any higher privilege in life.

Happy Thanksgiving, and welcome Christmas Spirit!

Fall Cupcakes!


Yes, fall is here.  Some of you are groaning because this means that summer is over, but remember this also means that, well….autumn is here!  Time for brisk mornings and hot drinks, good books and cozy fires, nature giving its grand finale in firey red leaves and big crysanthemums, and of course, baking!  This year for my father-in-law’s birthday I added to his gifts by whipping up some cupcakes. 

Cupcakes5_5   Cupcakes7_2

I‘ve never made cupcakes before, believe it or not, and I’ve never made frosting.  We didn’t get home until almost 9pm last night and I thought I’d be too tired to get these done, but they went very quickly and easily.  I actually ended up with a little leftover, which I poured into a heart-shaped ramekin for Chris and I to share. 


The long part was the decorating, because it was of course the fun part.  I LOVE baking with pumpkin.  If you do too, you’ll love these.  It’s based off a recipe from Martha Stewart, which I modified to fit my liking.  Hope you enjoy!


Mike’s Birthday Cupcakes (Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting)

  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted and cooled
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree
  • 1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, room temperature
  • 1 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Food coloring or paste, in reds, oranges, browns, yellows
  • Candies for decorating, such as chocolate sprinkles, orange sugar crystals, various candy corns, black licorice strings, candy pumpkins, etc.

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pans with paper liners (this recipe makes about 24 cupcakes, depending on how full you fill yours); set aside. Measure flour by lightly spooning it into measuring cups and leveling with a knife.  In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice; set aside.

2.  In a large bowl, whisk together, brown sugar, granulated sugar, butter, and eggs. Add dry ingredients, and whisk until smooth. Whisk in pumpkin puree, chocolate chips, 24 drops yellow food coloring, and 16 drops red food coloring.

3.  Divide batter evenly among liners, filling each about 1/2 to 3/4 full. Bake until tops spring back when touched, and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating pans once if needed. Transfer to a wire rack, let cool for 10 minutes.  Remove cupcakes from pan onto wire rack; let cool completely.

4.  Meanwhile, make the frosting:  Place cream cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until smooth. Add butter, and beat until fluffy. Reduce speed to low; gradually add sugar, and continue beating until light and fluffy. Add vanilla, and mix to combine.

Now comes the fun part – decorating!  Spoon a little bit of frosting into small bowls and experiement with adding color.  Red and yellow make orange, add a tiny speck of green to red to make an autumny brick red, etc.  Sprinkle orange sugar crystals over white frosting, wind a rope of black licorice in a spiral on orange icing, nestle a candy corn on red icing.

By the way, a note on herbs and spices – this recipe calls for ground allspice, which I did not have on hand.  When I got to the store to pick some up and saw the $9+ price tag, I just about gave up.  I only needed 1/4 tsp!!  Turns out they had a bulk herbs and spices section along with their bulk foods.  I’ve noticed more and more grocery stores doing this – our QFC when we lived in Northgate had one, and this was the Top Foods in Snohomish.  I bought about a tablespoon of ground allspice and it cost me exactly $0.01.  Needless to say, I may never buy bottled herbs and spices again!


Crochet Pumpkin Tutorial


For reasons I won’t speak of just yet (but they are good, not bad!), I have to take a temporary break from blogging – there’s a lot going on for the next couple of weeks and I’m just not sure how often I’ll be able to blog.  So, I’m sharing a tutorial to keep you all busy!  Here are instructions for a pumpkin I crocheted last year – feel free to experiment with different yarn types and colors.  It is a pretty forgiving pattern, because if your pumpkin doesn’t end up perfectly round, its completely OK as there are all different shapes and sizes of pumpkins.  Feel free to email me if you have any questions.  Enjoy!

Crochet Pumpkin


1 skein Monteza Classic Elite llama/wool blend yarn in
pumpkin orange (I used #3885), or similar bulky wool yarn
1 ball Crystal Palace Kid Merino yarn in brown (I used
#4673), or similar mohair/wool/nylon blend yarn in complimentary color
1 skein Monteza Classic Elite llama/wool blend yarn in olive
green or brown, or similar bulky wool yarn for the stem
Size H/8 crochet hook
Large eye needle
Fiberfill for stuffing
Optional: Dark green
wool felt, olive green pipe cleaners, small orange button with 4 holes

This project uses only one stitch, the single crochet (sc)
for the entire pumpkin, working in rounds, making it a doable project for
beginners. The stem incorporates a few
half-double (hdc) and double (dc) crochet stitches, but once you get the basic
stitches down, the rest is a breeze. For
instructions on basic crochet stitches, check out any crochet book from the
library, ask a friend or relative to show you, or go to our website www.theweedpatchstore.com.  (Feel free to use this pattern for your own personal use, to make your
own decorations or a gift to a friend, but you may not reproduce or
create for selling.)


For the pumpkin (using the orange wool and brown mohair
yarns together):

Foundation and Round
 ch 2, then 6sc in 2nd
ch from hk. Place marker by placing a
stray length of yarn of a different color in the last stitch you did, so you
know where the round ends.

Round 2: 2 sc in
ea st around (12 sts total). Move marker
to last stitch (continue moving with each round)

Round 3: [1 sc, 2sc in next st] repeat around (18 sts)

Round 4: [2 sc, 2sc in next st] repeat around (24 sts)

Round 5: [3 sc, 2sc in next st] repeat around (30 sts)

Round 6: [4 sc, 2sc in next st] repeat around (36 sts)

Round 7: [5 sc, 2sc in next st] repeat around (42 sts)

Round 8: [6 sc, 2sc in next st] repeat around (48 sts)

Round 9: [7 sc, 2sc in next st] repeat around (54 sts)

Round 10: [8 sc, 2sc in next st] repeat around (60 sts)

Round 11:  [9 sc, 2sc in next st] repeat around (66 sts)

Round 12: [10 sc, 2sc in next st] repeat around (72

Round 13: [11 sc, 2sc in next st] repeat around (78

Rounds 14 – 27: sc in each st around (78 sts each time)

Round 28: [12 sc, skip next st] repeat around (72 sts)

Round 29: [11 sc, skip next st] repeat around (66 sts)

Round 30: [10 sc, skip next st] repeat around (60 sts)

At this point, stuff the pumpkin with fiberfill (not too
stuffed!), and continue adding bits of stuffing as you complete the closing

Round 31: [9 sc, skip next st] repeat around (54 sts)

Round 32: [8 sc, skip next st] repeat around (48 sts)

Round 33: [7 sc, skip next st] repeat around (42 sts)

Round 34: [6 sc, skip next st] repeat around (36 sts)

Round 35: [5 sc, skip next st] repeat around (30 sts)

Round 36: [4 sc, skip next st] repeat around (24 sts)

Round 37: [3 sc, skip next st] repeat around (18 sts)

Round 38: [2 sc, skip next st] repeat around (12 sts)

Round 39: [1 sc, skip next st] repeat around (6 sts)

Round 40: [1 sc, skip next st] repeat around (3 sts)

Finishing: make one
more sc in middle st to close the opening, clip yarn and weave in the tail.

For the stem (using the green or brown wool yarn):

Foundation and Round
 ch 3 (counts as 1st
hdc), 11 hdc in 3rd ch from hk (12 sts total, incl. ch 3)

Round 2: sc in
each st around (12 sts)

Repeat round until the stem reaches desired length, approx 2
– 3”.

Next round: ch 4 (counts as first dc), 2 dc in each sc
around (24 sts total, incl. ch 4)

Last round: 1 sl st, 1 sc, ch 5, 1 sc in 3rd
ch from hk, 1 hdc in next ch, 1 dc in next ch, sl st in next 2 sc (one pointy
stem base made). Repeat around,
completing 6 evenly spaced pointy stem base pieces, or alter as desired. Stuff stem with fiberfill.

Putting it all together:

Using a very long length of orange yarn, make three even
wraps around the entire pumpkin to create the pumpkin-like grooves, threading
through an orange button on the bottom if needed to keep secure. Pull yarn fairly tight so that nice deep
grooves are created, and so that the yarn doesn’t slide. Using a length of the green yarn and the
large eye needle, whip stitch the stem to the top of the pumpkin. 


  • If
         desired, cut leaf shapes from dark green wool and stitch near the base of
         the stem.
  • Create
         tendrils by wrapping olive green pipe cleaners around a pencil and tucking
         into the base of the stem.
  • Make
         your stitches tight so that the stuffing doesn’t show through.
  • To
         make a smaller pumpkin, use a lighter weight yarn and a smaller crochet


Happy Independence Day!

Happy Independence Day! This has been an especially long enjoyable weekend for me, since I took Monday off from work. The four day stretch gave me a taste of what it would be like to work on my business and our store full-time, rather than have an office job. I don’t know if it is the high of living in an actual home in a dream location in our favorite town, with a shop to own and run full of colorful creative things, and with a budding art business, but office life is definitely making a slow and graceful exit from my list of great things to do for the rest of my life. But I digress…

Saturday fortune twisted so that I covered the store counter all on my own, so I spent my day greeting and helping customers, chatting with happy people, smelling candles with them, looking for a star just the right color and shape to fill that spot on someone’s display shelf, eating my lunch out by baby bunnies roaming around the lawn.

Sunday morning found me down at the Java Inn enjoying an iced latte that actually tasted like coffee (Starbucks has linked arms with office life, I think), while people watching and journaling. A favorite store, Queen Bee, expanded down the street to a space twice its size or more, so I checked it out on my way back home. This is a fun, French-style store, a successful blend of foofy upscale whimsy and vintage charming country – she carries art depicting scenes of bistros and French cityscapes, paper arts by Ashley Carter, millinery leaves and flowers, a wide selection of ribbons, chunky soaps, candles, stationary, tags, and dishes. I walked through very slowly, savoring every bit of eye candy.

I then stopped by my favorite antique mall down here, Remember When – this is where I bought all my Fire-King dishes for the tea party last week, as well as my turquoise lamps (did I actually blog on that? I’ll have to check that later…). I found a set of three turquoise bowls for $3.50 and an orange carnival glass bowl going for half off because the vendor is moving – score! I’ll post some photos, as soon as I have them.

I’ve had this hacking cough for the last week now, with no explanation, but today is driving me crazy and I can barely sit here typing. I’ll write again soon – for now, I just wanted to say hi, share a little of my weekend, and wish you all a safe and happy 4th!