Winter Apple Butter

One of the best aromas ever is a slow cooker full of apples and spice...there is nothing like it.  Even in the winter, the aroma of simmering Winter Apple Butter is such a crisp fragrance,  It brings back all the warmth of a sunny fall day, even if there is two feet of snow out your window.   My family loves to eat it on crisp toast, pancakes and even on ice cream.  

All you need to make this simple apple butter is a slow cooker and about 10 to 12 large apples.   My favorite kind to use are Jonathon's...they are perfect mixture of firm, sweet, tart and Granny Smiths are my second favorite.   Wash your apples and peel them.  I like to use my old fashioned apple does the job in a matter of seconds.  You can find the apple peeler I use on my Amazon shopping page.    

Once the apples are peeled, you can use an apple slicer to slice them into large wedges. Place them in a slow cooker and turn it on to the low setting.

Once the slow cooker is full, add three cups of sugar and four tablespoons of apple pie seasoning.  If you can not find apple pie seasoning, mix together cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves to a mixture you like. 

Put a lid on the slow cooker and cook for eight hours on the low setting.  Stir occasionally to mix the spices and sugars through the mixture.   You will have a delicious amount to apple juice that cooks out of the apples over cooking time.  When the time is skim off most of the juice and set aside.  Add two tablespoons of real vanilla extract and mix together.  I like to use an immersion blender to blend the chunks up into a half chunky sauce.  If your mixture is still too thin, cook a little longer in the pot.  (It will thicken ever more in the fridge.)

Once your apple butter is done, you can refrigerate it for up to six weeks or freeze it for up two months.  If you want it to last through the winter,  you can process them in a water bath for 20 minutes and they will keep for a year.  You can find the instructions for the water bath process at the Ball Fresh Preserving Site.

Just imagine a spice filled thick sweet and tart apple sauce in one bite...and you will know why we are crazy for this recipe!  I hope you enjoy this as much as we do.  It sure makes the winter mornings smell divine and taste even better!

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Valentine Charcuterie - Fresh Living

What is Charcuterie you ask?  Well, it is a beautiful way to graze on delicious food, which means you will love it as much as we do!  You pronounce it as (shahr -ku-tuh-ree).  It is a very trendy art of preparing and assembling foods, both savory and sweet.  If you go to my Pinterest Board  you will see amazing displays for all types of parties and gatherings.  

For today's KUTV Fresh Living  we are making a Valentine's Day Charcuterie Board with lots of yummy treats and a few healthy ones too.  To begin any Charcuterie Board you need first a board.  You can use a long cutting board, a slab of clean wood, or even a sheet of bakers paper down the center of the table.  The one that I am using today was purchased from my Amazon Shop.  It is large and finished so beautifully, it is my favorite board to use.

The second thing you will want to do to create a fabulous Charcuterie Board is to create elements that rise and give "depth" to your food design.  A simple way to do this it to add small bowls of dip, or a mini-cake stand, a cup of bread sticks, etc.  

For this Valentine's Day Charcuterie Board I added two small heart shaped bowls filled with marshmallow fluff and chocolate ganache (of course sprinkled with "love dust").  Once your elements of height are added, you can begin to see a flow to the design.  This is where the art of display comes in.  I added the milk glass vase with three heart shaped rice crispy pops, the two bowls of sweet dip and then .... 

...the cluster of cupcakes and cake pops.  I then swirled the cookies across the tray to give a solid shaped curve and echoes the same curve with the candied popcorn.  I then added the chocolate covered pretzels, and strawberries (with their green tops up).   If you were putting together a savory Charcuterie Board you would fan out cured meats, cheeses, spreads, baguette slices, crackers, etc.

This is an important note when putting together a Charcuterie Board.  You want different textures and colors throughout the display, so adding the strawberries with their clean, bright green tops upright, added a fresh color pop to a very sweet pink and red display.

With those large swirled-curved elements in place the board was beginning to take shape.  I then went and added little elements like the yogurt covered cranberries and the chocolate kisses in spaces that were bare. If you were making a savory Charcuterie Board you this would be a good time to add small nuts and dried fruits or any other small item.  You would also want to add fresh fruits and vegetables sliced or whole.  It is fun to have a pop of a large red apple or a beautiful cluster of grapes...kiwis sliced add lots of green pop as do broccoli florets.  

 Now with just a couple of spots left to fill, I decided to add a couple of semi-homemade treats to the board.  I took a few Oreo Cookies and melted some white chocolate...dipped them and sprinkled some red and white candies for extra love.

 I also melted some milk chocolate and dipped the tips of strawberry filled wafer cookies. the melted yumminess.  You can find the melting chocolates in most baking isles.  They are inexpensive, and fast to melt in your microwave.  Just add them to a ceramic, microwave safe bowl and microwave for 2 minutes.  Lift out of microwave and stir to get the chocolate discs soft.  Put back in the microwave and heat for 1 to 2 more minutes.  Stir again until the discs are melted smooth.  Do not over heat, or they will turn dry and hard, not silky smooth.

I placed some parchment paper on the counter and dipped the tips of the wafers in the chocolate, using a spoon to get the chocolate "line" even.  Placed them on the paper to cool and added a little "x" or "o" to the tip.  When cool and dry, I added them in layers with the decoration showing in a fan type swirl out to the edge of the tray. 

 I hope this little lesson on Charcuterie Boards has inspired you to get a little creative with your next gathering, or even your next movie night!  The total cost for this Valentine's Board was $65.00 not including the tray...and I have so many left overs!  It really is a simple way to make a big impact without spending a ton!

You can catch my Charcuterie Board segment on KUTV Fresh Living today and if you miss it watch my You Tube Channel for the segment soon.  Enjoy!

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Forget Me Not

We are so happy for the first Flourish Wildflower of 2020!  I worked on this over the holiday and fell in love with the little blue flowers of the Forget Me Not.  The Forget Me Not symbolizes "remembrance".  I always wonder why different flowers symbolize different virtues, and I have a few thoughts on this little beauty.  

With each Lazy Daisy that I stitched to create a petal, I though of how many little petals it takes to make this dainty little blue flower even stand out.  It made me think of how many little blessings and gifts we each receive and try to remember, especially as we say goodbye to a passing year and say hello to a new one.  Maybe it is about remembering the little things that combine to make something note worthy and great and not the big bursts that impact us in subtle, sweet ways.  I'm not an expert, nor am I the person who assigns meanings to flowers, but for me the Forget Me Not means remember the small blessings together as a whole.

To stitch this darling little flower you will need:

Crewel Embroidery Needle
Cotton Batting
Transfer Pen
Embroidery Snips
DMC Floss Numbers 
(Blue 793, Lt. Blue 318, Yellow 3821, Green 469, and Ecru Pearl 5)

1.  Right click on image and print from your computer to your printer.  Place image under your fabric and trace with erasable transfer pen.  (I use the Frixion pens that erase with steam.)  

2.  Place fabric tightly in hoop (remember drum tight) with cotton batting behind fabric.  The cotton batting that I use is a 80/20 Cotton.  It hides my knots, strings and gives my stitches a little extra lift.  Once your fabric is drum tight you are ready to go.

3.  Take your green and thread your crewel needle with all six strands of floss about an arms length of floss.  Tie a knot in the end and make a tail about 1/3 the length of your floss.  This helps you to hold onto your floss as you go through the fabric.  

4.  I will give you the stitches for each color and will attach the Tweetle Dee Stitching Guide to this post.  For additional help, go to the Tweetle Dee You Tube Channel.  

DMC 469 Green - Stem Stitch for Stems, and Braided Leaf Stitch/Satin Stitch for leaves/outline of leaves is back stitch.

DMC 793 Blue - Lazy Daisy for petals.

DMC 318 Lt. Blue - Satin Stitch inside of petals.

DMC Ecru - One stitch in the light blue fill in to add shading.  Back stitch "remembrance".

DMC 3821 Yellow - French Knot in center of each flower.

I am working on a video for this embroidery and will have it on the You Tube Channel shortly.  I hope you have enjoyed these little floral embroideries and are gaining a few new stitch skills as well.  Many blessings small and big to you this coming 2020.  xo
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Mamma's Potato Leek Soup - Fresh Living

Happy New Year!  It is hard to believe that 2020 is here.  We hope your celebrations were everything you hoped for and that you are renewed and excited for this fresh new year.  When the producers of KUTV Fresh Living asked me to give them my favorite winter comfort food, there was no doubt which one I would pick.  Our family's most requested soup in Momma's Potato Leek Soup. 

For years this has been our kiddos taste of home.  It is so simple to make, and yet if you skimp on time by substituting anything on the can tell!  Trust me, I have tried and have heard the complaints.  Our family takes their potato soup very seriously!  

If you haven't cooked with Leeks before, you are in for a treat.  You can watch today's segment on KUTV Fresh Living to see how to wash and prepare leeks, but let me give you a quick review. 

Leeks are a part of the onion family.  They are sweeter and more mild than your regular onions and add a rich flavor to any dish.  My favorite way to eat them in saute in butter and olive oil with a little sea salt.  They are so good all by them selves, but when added this soup they are out of this world.  

You can find leeks in most grocery stores or if you are lucky and live on a beautiful farm in upstate NY...they grow in the woods.  I know first hand about that.  In the spring my cousins and aunts trek to the woods and gather the leeks from the dark rich soil.   The earthy smell of soil and sweet leeks is one of my favorite scent memories.  The family gathers for a ham and leek dinner cooked together in the farmhouse kitchen.   Yes, it is as magical as it sounds.  Because I live a thousand miles away from our family farm in the west, I go to my local produce store and can find them in the greens.

Leeks are not only delicious, but super good for you.  They are natures antibiotic, with powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.  They help support a healthy digestive tract by keeping good stuff growing and eliminating the bad stuff growing in our tubes.  They are the oldest recorded vegetable and it's easy to see why.... good for you and good to eat.

They grow in soil, so make sure you wash them well.  Choose stalks that have white ends, light green in the middle and dark green tops.  You want to avoid the brown or yellowish greens, as they are not so fresh.  When you get the stalk home, trim off the roots and the top dark green.   I trim about two inches above the white.  I love the greens, but the top of the stalks are tough, so just use the light to medium green parts above the white.  Cut them as you would an onion, slice, chop or roast whole.  A little Olive Oil and Sea Salt and you have a fabulous side.

So, with the introduction of Leeks and how to use them we are ready to make this Oh soooo good, over the moon, Momma's Potato Leek Soup...

Momma's Potato Leek Soup

10 to 12 Large Golden Potatoes (peeled and cut into 1/2" chunks)
1/2 Gallon Whole Milk
3 Cups Chicken Broth
1/2 Cup + 3 Tbs. Butter
Olive Oil
2 Large Leeks (washed, sliced, and chopped)
3 Cloves Garlic
2 Cups Chopped Bacon 
4 Cups Grated Cheddar Cheese
2 Teaspoons Garlic Powder
Flaky Salt
Fresh Ground Pepper

Place peeled and chopped potatoes into a large pan and cover with water.   Add salt and boil until the potatoes are fork tender.  While the potatoes are cooking wash, slice and chop your leeks into 1/4" slices.  Chop your fresh garlic.  Heat a 1/2 cup of butter and 2 Tbs of Olive Oil in a frying pan.  When the butter is melted, add the garlic and leeks.  Sprinkle with some Flaky Salt and saute until the greens are bright and the white is slightly translucent.  Set aside.

Once your potatoes are fork tender, drain potatoes into a colander until the water is removed.  Add potatoes back into the pan, saving 2 cups of potato chunks to the side. Add softened butter and let melt over hot potatoes for a few minutes. Using an immersion blender or a hand mixer, mash the potatoes until they are soft.  

Add the chicken broth, and milk and mix until you get the consistency that you prefer.  I like my soup thick, but my husband like his thin.  Which ever way you like it, add the milk to that consistency. Once this is blended, add the saute leeks and reserved potato chunks. Stir in and let simmer on low to medium heat until everything is warm.  Salt and pepper to taste.  

Serve garnished with cheddar cheese, bacon, chopped parsley or cilantro and green onion!

I promise you, this will be your new favorite go to comfort food forever!  It is the soup that all of our children request when they come home and it is so worth the added bit of love to peel your potatoes and saute those is a sure bit of heaven in a bowl.

Enjoy xo

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Merry Christmas 2019

It's been a magical December for all of us here at Tweetle Dee!  Our family gathered together as often as we could and enjoyed every second of it.  We had a Kiddo Christmas with just the kids was crazy elfin fun.  Then we had the family party with food, games, and an ugly Christmas Cookie decorating party.  It's a real thing at our house.
Christmas morning we woke up to a heavy blanket of new fallen snow.  It was pure magic.  If you follow me on Instagram you know that this shot of our back yard is our one of my favorites.  I take it every year, and sometimes more than one shot shows up on my feed...but this Christmas morning with the silence of the snow, it was especially beautiful.

Many of our children were in other parts of the country, so it was a more quiet Christmas than we are used to.  We miss our family, but with the different parties and Face Time we were able to feel close.  This will be Adam's last Christmas with us before he leaves on his mission, and my Mom heart could feel it.

We bought him luggage and mission scriptures and a special wallet engraved with a Mother's wish for him.  He cried, I cried and Mike had to get busy picking up wrapping paper so he wouldn't.  He is the youngest of this big family and I think all of us will miss him being with us for the next two years.

It was also Molly's first Christmas and she loved the sugar cookies and her presents.  It took her a while to figure out what to do with them, but she hugged them all.  Gracie is almost at the age to figure out the whole Santa story and had lots of faith that the giving of the Christmas season is real, no matter who the giver is.

One of the best parts of the season was the prayers that we gave asking to find people we could give to, and we found our hearts growing each week as opportunities for giving came in ways we did not expect.  I really know that we are given what we need and this year I think my Mom heart was held whole as we gave more than ever.  

Christmas morning with a house full of kids sleeping in every room, left me one quiet place, this seat on the couch.  No one wanted to wake up early, so I sat in silence and watched the sun come up over the mountain and cast a blue light through our windows.  It was the reflection of light on the new snow and I was a gift for me. 

 I love this season more now than at any other time in my life.  I recognize the calm of peace more than ever and love the stillness it brings.  I hope this season was a beautiful one for you and your family, and if it wasn't, let me send you a hug and a hope that time passes and things that are hard change in time.  I send you my love for the rest of 2019 and will see you in 2020 with an exuberance for the new year!

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Prairie Christmas Trees and Fred the Snowman

Most of you know we flip houses in our family....lots of houses.  This year has been a record year for the number of old homes we have tackled and our last one just closed.  Which means the best of all the old doors, windows, knobs and trim have made their way to the Tweetle Dee storage building.  We were going though it the other day and I asked Mike if he would make some trees for my front porch that I could paint with our soon to release Prairie Paints.

Well, not only did he make a few...he made over 30 of them in all different sizes.  I love, love, love that he trimmed them in walnut and made their stands to interlock so they fit together as a grove.  But, the thing I love the most about them is the angles he cut them at to show off the moldings and door knob holes.  Seriously so cute!  They come in four sizes from 50" tall to 24" tall and, come in four colors (white, pink, light green, and dark green).  Don't delay in getting them because they will go quickly.  

So we have a forest of them and I placed them in Our Shop for this week, ready to ship and of course FREE SHIPPING!!!  We have free shipping on all orders this week.  Use code SHIPFORFREE.  I am keeping mine up until the flowers bloom again!

Along with our Prairie Christmas Trees we also have new to our shop Fred the Snowman!  He is a dear friend on Frosty's and ours.  He loves the snow and all the fun it brings.  He stands 24" tall and is pieced with so many hand carved embellishments and ohhh, that scarf!  Crackled paint and all, he is a darling that will be with you from first snowfall to the hint of spring.

We hope you enjoy these new products to our shop and remember to order before next Friday the 20th to get your items before Christmas & we have FREE SHIPPING through this week with code SHIPFORFREE.

Have a fabulous Merry weekend!
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Village Square Barn Quilt

Our newest barn quilt, the Village Square was inspired by the small town I grew up in in New York.  One main street went through the center of town with beautiful old homes, a country store, a library, fire station and the community church.  No gas stations or movie theaters, and definitely no big box stores.  Whenever we visit, no matter how much time has passed, it remains unchanged.  

I love those small village squares and because I am from New York, the big pines had to be make a statement in this quilt.  I am working on a fabric quilt version of this and a pattern book too, which should be out the first of the year.  It will also include templates for wreaths, mini barn quilts and lettered signs. 

For now, this holiday season, the simple Village Square Barn Quilt is in The Shop in three gorgeous sizes.  I can't wait for the orders to come, because this is one of the funnest barn quilts to paint.  It really is magical, which is what this season is all about.  

We send our love to you and hope you are enjoying the beginning of the holiday season.  Remember to take some time to rest amid all the celebrating....a little time to dream and for sure some time to create something new.   

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Thanksgiving Pie in a Lid

As you know, I am soooo in love with pie anything.....pies in a jar, pie pops, pie bites, pie...pie...pie etc.!  I thought I had mastered them all until I thought of "pies in a lid".

They are the easiest most simple way to make a little individual pie I have ever seen!  All you need is a wide mouth canning jar lid and ring, a baking sheet, non-stick spray, your favorite pie dough and filling.  Lay the rings on a baking sheet and place the lids inside the rings.  Spray with a coat of non-stick spray and press your pie dough into the lid.

I found the easiest way to do this was to find a round "template" to cut the dough out.  I used a round plastic bowl just a half inch larger than my wide mouth rings.  This allows for extra dough to pinch into a lovely crust.  Pour in your filling and bake at a normal temperature.  I have found that these little pies bake in a quarter of the time of a regular set your timer accordingly.
Once they are finished baking let cool a few minutes and pop the ring and bottom off the shell and serve! They come out perfect every time.  I am busy making some up for our family's Thanksgiving feast...a little apple, pear & cranberry, and of course pumpkin!  I hope you have fun with this new little idea!!!

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Watercolor Embroidery

After weeks away teaching at conferences and filming upcoming projects (to be announced later),  I am so happy to be home and to have everything put away...and to be able to play with my favorite things - paint & fabric!  To be more specific watercolor and embroidery on fabric.  Did you know you can watercolor on fabric just as you do on paper?  If not, you are in for a crazy, fun surprise.

You all know I love to paint and I especially love the way color blends and fades in watercolor.  You also know I love to paint florals and trust me when I say that nothing mimics the color of naturals flowers than watercolors.  So, one day I was wanting a background for a floral I was planning to stitch and I got out my watercolors and painted the background I was dreaming of on my fabric, and fell in love with it.

All you need for watercolor is available in most craft stores, and the fabric and hoops are there one stop and you can have it all!  You will want watercolor paints, brushes, a tray to mix on, fabric, a hoop, and of course your thread and needle.  We will talk about that later.

Just look at those colors!  Seriously so pretty.  You will want to choose in your mind what type of watercolor application you need for your stitch.  Meaning, do you want an all over landscape or sky scene where you float colors across the fabric OR do you want a more controlled pop on color such as a leaf or a specific flower.  

Once you have decided, place your fabric tightly in the hoop.  You can paint on anything that is smooth (such as a cotton or linen)  don't use a velvet or minky.  Make sure your fabric in "drum tight".  

If you are planning on an all over color, you will begin by spritzing the fabric with water.  This will help with getting your colors to move and blend on the fabric.  Place the colors you want in a tray and mix a little water in them to get them ready to use.  You will want to wet your brush.  Use a large size watercolor brush for all over color.

Begin by dipping your brush in water and color and then on your fabric with light soft strokes across the area you want color.  You can add a little extra water with your brush to float the color across the fabric.  Add a second complimentary color if you want above or below the first color and blend together with your brush and a little water until your landscape or sky scene is all across the fabric area.  Let dry and then it is ready to stitch on.

If you are wanting a small specific area painted in, I draw out my design first with a Pilot Frixion pen that comes off with heat.  Do not spritz your fabric for this type of watercolor as you do not want your colors spreading beyond your design element.  Load your brush with a base color and fill in the element your are painting.  Wipe your brush and paint a second color and shade using a little water on your brush.  

Have fun with trying different colors and blending them.  It doesn't matter if the lines are filled in because the heat will remove them after we are done.  If you want specific detail added, use watercolor pencils over the fabric.  Just as you would on paper, the watercolor pencils work beautifully to shade and blend colors.  

On this little flower I want to shade it in softly, so I used my watercolor pencil and gently added color to the fabric and then...

...I used a damp brush to soften the lines and edges of the pencil.  I can't wait to add embroidery floss to this holiday design.  Multi-medium projects are so fun!

This is the finished Joy Watercolor Embroidery Wreath!  I love the pop of shaded green in the leaves with the detail of pine needles made with embroidery floss.  We will be adding this kit and a few more to the shop in time for Christmas.  So, watch for the announcement next week.  In the meantime, get out a scrap of fabric and your watercolors and paint yourself a gorgeous November sunset.  

To watch a tutorial on the prep and painting go to the Tweetle Dee Design Co. You Tube Channel.  The video will be uploaded this weekend.  You can also catch today's Fresh Living segment to see the gorgeous sunset Kari made.  

I hope you have a fabulous weekend and be sure to take care to rest and refresh however you do it.  For me, we will be watching the lighting of the town tree tonight and maybe a movie.  Tomorrow is a full day with teaching at the Corn Wagon in Springville.  I can't wait!  I'll check in with you next week to see what you did to celebrate, dream and create!

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