Welcome to A Tranquil Nook Blog

We welcome you to follow along on our crafty adventures. Frank is a farmer by day, jewelry and hand braided cord-maker by night. Jane simply fiddles with fabric and fiber any time she can. We share things about what we make, how we make it, where you can get it.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Love the snow, hate getting wet or cold?

Here in the north country, sledding, skating, snowman making are great outdoor activities.  When the wind chill goes double digit below or it is simply time to come indoors and warm up, it is nice to have creative actives ready to go.

Felt and button Snowflakes to the rescue.  Create gigantic snowflakes to dangle and dazzle with indoor crafting on a cold winter day.  Keeps fingers occupied and minds engaged.  A fun activity for one or for a group, young and old alike.

You will need:

-thick white wool felt (you could also use cardboard)
-white buttons
-glue that will bond fabric & buttons
-mono-filament line or white yarn/ribbon
     or AccuCut Cutting Machine and                         Snowflake die # S1614 

Gather supplies:
Lay out a pile of white buttons.  The ones shown here were collected over a number of years, they include basic white shirt buttons, mother of pearl buttons, fancy vintage buttons, most with holes, a few with stems.

Plain buttons become background and filler, fancy & shinny buttons add glam and focal points. 

You can find buttons at thrift stores,  Antique shops, maybe in your grandma’s button box.  You can also buy new buttons in bulk packages. Instead of buttons, or in addition to buttons use broken pieces of costume jewelry, beads, sequins. pompoms.

Want a more decorative hanging loop use ribbon or yarn instead of mono-filament line. 
Snowflake Pattern

Hand cut snowflakes from thick felt or cardboard.

If you have access to a die cutter that can handle AccuCut Die  S1614 use that to crank out a number of bases.

It helps me to put two felt snowflakes side by side.  One to layout buttons and one to glue.

When a pleasing arrangement is achieved, put a swirl of glue in the center of the blank snowflake and transfer the buttons one by one.  The finished arrangement may be a little different, you may add more or use less.  When you are happy with the look, set the snowflake aside to dry. 

When you have all the snowflakes done on one side take a little stretch and refreshment break.  You earned it.  Then come back and add buttons on the second side of each snowflake if you want buttons on both sides.

In general, the arrangement will be more pleasing to the eye if larger buttons are toward the bottom.  The buttons with a metal shank often work well to fill in holes or open spaces.  Add a dab of glue to the shank and slip them in place.  The main thing is to do an arrangement that pleases YOU.

 Cut the monofilament line to lengths desired.  You may choose to make them all the same length or grade the length so the snowflakes dangle in a line.

Dangle in a window, on a door, or hang on a ribbon banner/bunting.

Enjoy the snowflakes falling while you stay warm and cozy.

Thanks for dropping in today, always a pleasure to share crafting ideas.

Vintage Button Guide 

Have Children help by Sorting Buttons

The Button Box by Margarette S. Reid and Sarah Chamberlain (May 1, 1995) a children’s book about buttons

Button Ornaments using craft sticks/pipecleaners

Glue: I prefer Beacon Fabric Tac (it is made in the USA), you could use hot glue. If working with children choose a glue that you prefer for use with & by young ones.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Touchdown Taco Hot Dish

A friend came over the other day, helping Frank with the endless woods work in the aftermath of the “big storm” last summer.  Taking down “widow makers” and other unsafe tumbled snarled trees in the side pasture.  Helpers here are always welcome to join us for the mid-day meal, a regular warm big farm lunch.  That day they were served Touchdown Taco Hot Dish.  Our friend really enjoyed it and requested the recipe.  I replied “Oh it is just a little modification of “The Pampered Chef” Touchdown Taco Dip, you can find the recipe online.  I just throw in more things.

Well, this friend worked pretty hard to help us, so I went to find the original recipe.  Ho Wah!  Over the years, seems I’ve more than slightly modified the recipe.  So figured as an additional thank you would write it up and give the redesigned into a hearty meal recipe to our friend.  With that work done, well of course, am happy to pass it on to all of you as well.  Sorry though, no photo as it never occurred to me to get a photo of a routine farm meal.

Touchdown Taco Hot Dish

1 can beans (whatever is in the pantry, black beans are our favorite, but Kidney Beans or Navy Beans) work too.
1 lb. lean ground beef (we use our own grass fed beef)
1 to 2 Tablespoons taco seasoning (Pensey’s is divine)
1 to 2 Onions chopped
1/2 to 1 avocado chopped
1/2 cup or so of sour cream
1/2 to 1 cup thick Salsa (home canned from our garden vegetables)
1 cup or more fresh grated Cheddar Cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F

Brown chopped onion and ground beef seasoned with taco seasoning.

In a large round stoneware baking pan layer the ingredients:
Spread Beans in bottom.  May drain or keep some of the liquid. 
Next add the browned seasoned beef-onion mix
If avocado is available mix this into the meat layer.
Spread sour cream on top (can also use or mix with cream cheese if preferred).
Dab Salsa by the spoonful to desired amount.
Top with grated cheese.  (Sharp Cheddar is awesome, but other cheese works too.)
        ***tip: I vary the amounts and ingredients above based on what is in the pantry & frig AND with an eye to how full the baking pan is getting.  Too much stuff and it boils overWise is the one who puts a cookie sheet on the shelf below the baking pan. :D

Bake at 425 degrees F until cheese is browned.  about 45 minutes in my oven at this temp. Ovens vary so adjust to what works for you.

Serve with sides of carrot sticks, celery sticks, taco chips, guacamole, salsa. 


We so enjoyed the original dip that it evolved into a full meal deal.  Has that happened to you too?  Would enjoy hearing about any recipes you have changed so much they are no longer much like the original.

Now I must be off as our friend is here again, out in the woods with Frank.  And on the stove is a smoked turkey vegetable barley soup that needs a little stirring and attention.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Seed Orders Have Gone Out

After much dreaming, consideration, planning and plotting, Frank made the commitment.  Wrote up the order, prepared a check and the envelopes were sent.  In a few months seeds will arrive.  The 2013 garden seems more officially on the way.

When do you order seeds? Or do you save your own?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

From A Tranquil Nook to YOU

Wishing you a wonderful New Year filled with things and events that glisten like diamonds in new fallen snow.  May you also enjoy the wonder of ordinary days. 

Let Balance, Peace, and Harmony reign in 2013.