Poole Party Gift Ideas

THERE IS STILL TIME!!

:: Order your holiday onesies for wearing now…

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:: And your monogram totes and shirts for easy gifting!

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:: Free gift wrap available and custom orders encouraged!

:: We are happy to send gifts directly to your recipient, to help you check things off your list!

:: Happy Holidays from Poole Party Designs

A Bright Idea

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So there is a wonderful little item on the market that you might just add to your wishlist this holiday season… Michael’s sells Submersible LED Lights.  Have you ever heard of such a thing?  These little lights are so fun.  I placed them inside Cranberry Rosemary Arrangements and they just made the whole thing glow!

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Cranberry Rosemary Arrangements

For these arrangements, I used empty mason jars for my vase.  I placed a ring of rosemary in the bottom of the jar and then dropped a light or two in the center at the base.  By doing this, the lights shine through the greenery of the rosemary and the rosemary hides some of the light casing.  Remember to turn on your lights before you do any more steps, as the arrangement will need to be taken apart in order to remove the lights.

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Then drop a couple handfuls of fresh cranberries on top of the lights and fill the jars with water.  Adjust the water and cranberry amounts until you are happy with the amount of space between the floating cranberries and the rosemary at the bottom of the jar.  (In a few of the jars I inserted a few sprigs of rosemary that I had tied together with hemp twine to add to the height of the arrangement and maintain the natural evergreen look I was going for.) DSC_0034 DSC_0035

Lastly, tie a burlap ribbon around the top of the jar.  These arrangements are beautiful as well as wonderfully aromatic!  Happy decorating!

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Make It Personal

When my second son was born, my favorite presents were those that differentiated his arrival from his older brother’s.  Having been through it once, we already had all the equipment, clothes, and “stuff” we needed and the correct gender to boot.  I loved receiving things that were personalized for him.  Whether it was a name or a letter, I found this gesture of individual recognition to be so very thoughtful.  I have kept that sentiment in mind to this day.  Often, when I give a gift to a family that already has one child, I try to personalize it.  It is nice to recognize those older sibs as well!

The “letter” and “number” shirts have arrived!  Simple cut.  Clean lines.  Gotta have ’em.

American Apparel 3/4 sleeve, personalized, raglan tees.  Now available for the big kids!  Poly-Cotton construction.  Durable rib neckband.  Available in sizes 2-8.  The perfect gift for big brother or sister.  Great for birthday parties and sibling photos.  An ideal tool for teaching letter and number recognition!  Start your engines and get ready to be a monogram trendsetter at school!  Head over to Poole Party Designs to start shopping the new collection!

Book Bag Fever

Apples on the trees, school in session – seems like the perfect time to start making some book bags!

I will admit that this project began out of necessity.  The boys’ new preschool does not like the kids to bring backpacks.  Curious.  Apparently, the cubbies are just too small.  They were being overwhelmed by backpacks.  I love the image of backpacks pouring in from all corners, filling the room!  Be that as it may, the kids are bringing stuff home every night – artwork and papers everywhere!  Hence, the need for a slimmer, more streamlined bag to keep the mama from losing her head.  Ideally, it would be appropriately sized for a preschooler to carry.  Where does one find such a thing?  “Hmmm…” I say, (with a closet full of awesome fabric…) “I’ve seen a book bag before, I bet I can figure this out.”  And so the bag-making frenzy begins at the Poole house…

Why do school supplies evoke such lovely memories?  Even though I don’t need to buy myself #2 pencils or lined paper anymore, these book bags make me feel like a kid all over again!  This little project was not based on a pattern, so if and when I refine my process, I will post a tutorial.  Also, I am feeling a bit obsessed with monograms, if you haven’t noticed.  You will be seeing more of them in items soon to be listed to the shop.  In the case of the book bag, there was a dual purpose for the monogram; easy preschool identification and style.  Here is Duncan modeling his new tote (I find his cross-body-carry especially hip).  My personal favorite, to date, is the elephants!

Heirloom Tomato Basil Jam

The last preserves of the season… well, for this season anyway.  Tomato Basil Jam.

I read about this jam last year and have been intrigued by it ever since.  I wondered if it would taste good, if it would be tough to make, and if I could figure out what to put it on.  Well, it is delicious.  It was not too tough.  And like many of the more “decorative preserves” they go great with cheese and crackers, a component on an interesting sandwich, or simply on top of an english muffin… maybe not an everyday work horse, but since I enjoy eating these things, it works.  More importantly, in November, or January, or June when tomatoes are not in season this little number will provide a hit of late August sunshine that might be very welcome in any form.  Things have been very busy, so I almost didn’t write this one up, but I do like the idea of having a record here of what I made this summer and photos of heirloom tomatoes are simply good for the soul.  So here it goes.

I found these lovely heirloom tomatoes from our local farmer’s market and was given a deal because these were not even the most attractive of the bunch.  Keep that in mind when shopping for produce for jams – you want the fruit to be ripe, but it does not need to be beautiful!  The recipe I used is taken from Canning For A New Generation, by Liana Krissoff.  The thing that sold me on this recipe is the opening line, “There’s almost nothing more appealing than a toasted and buttered english muffin spread with the herbal sweet-tart goodness of tomato and basil jam.”  I mean, who wouldn’t want to make that?

Tomato and Basil Jam with Sherry Vinegar

3 pounds ripe tomatoes, peeled, cored, and diced

2 pounds Granny Smith apples, diced but not peeled or cored

1 lemon, chopped

2 cups sugar

1/4 cup sherry vinegar (7% acidity)

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

 

Put the tomatoes in a wide, 6- to 8-quart preserving pan.  Bring to a boil over high heat and cook until the juices cover the tomatoes, about 5 minutes.  Pour into a colander set over a large bowl.  Return the juice to the pan and add the apples and lemon.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Boil, stirring occasionally, until the apples are completely broken down and the peels have separated from the pulp, about 15 minutes.

          

Dump the tomato solids into the bowl and place a sieve over the bowl (I didn’t have one of these, so I used my colander.)  Pour the apple and lemon mixture into the sieve and press as much of the juice and apple pulp through the sieve as you can.  Discard the solids in the sieve.

Rinse the preserving pan and pour the tomato mixture; add the sugar and vinegar.  Bring to a boil over high heat and boil, stirring frequently, until a small dab of the jam spooned onto the cold plate and set in the freezer for a minute wrinkles when you nudge it, about 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in the basil.  Fill jars and process in water canning bath for 5 minutes.

Makes about 4 half pint jars.

Enjoy!

Fruit Flies, Lemons, and A New Book

It is late September and we still have fruit flies!  I thought these guys were supposed to go away as the temperature dropped!  This year they appear to be sticking around, possibly it is all the yummy things I am trying to preserve.  Happily, I have a tried and true solution that keeps them at bay.  What is it, you ask?  I put a small amount of cider vinegar in a bowl with a few pumps of dish soap.  The sweetness of the cider vinegar draws them in and the soap coats their wings, so they don’t fly out.  Voila!  This sounds awfully vicious, I know, but I really hate fruit flies.  One more tip, I tried both regular cider vinegar and an organic vinegar that I happened to have and for some reason, the bugs prefer the non-organic.  There you have it, go forth and rid your kitchen of these pests!

Next, I was just given a book that I cannot wait to tell you about.  America’s Test Kitchen just published a book this month called: d.i.y. cookbook can it, cure it, churn it, brew it.  It is “100+  foolproof kitchen projects for the adventurous home cook.”  It is so cool.  I am a little bit giddy about it.  It covers lots of the canning and preserving we have talked about before, but it also goes new and exciting places such as cheese making, charcuterie, and home brewing… how to make corn chips and marshmallows too!  If you were to buy one book to test some fun new things out in your kitchen, this would be the book I recommend!  The directions seem clear and the pictures are lovely and informative.  I am excited to try making lots of things from this book.

  

One of the recipes is for Preserved Lemons.  This is something I have been intrigued with for a little while now and I am happy to report it is very simple.  Essentially by adding kosher salt to lemons and allowing them to cure for a few weeks, you end up with rinds that have become soft in texture and mellow in flavor, with a truly interesting brininess from the salt.  You can then keep them on hand in your fridge for about 6 months.  One can add them to salads or serve them with roasted vegetables to add a bright citrus flavor that seems like it would enhance just about anything!  I am currently in the curing stage with mine, but I have great hopes that this will become a staple in our house.  It seems like we always have a few lemons around, don’t you?

The recipe that I used for this was actually from another cookbook, Canning for a New Generation, by Liana Krissoff.  I just used the two lemons that I had in my fridge already and a smaller pint size jar, as I think that is a more usable amount, but do whatever feels good to you.

Preserved Lemons

This is a classic North African staple; the funky salted lemons are featured in tagines, salads, rice dishes, and so on.  To use the lemons, scrape off and discard the lemon flesh, leaving just the preserved peel.

5 lemons, (about 1-1/4 pounds), washed
1/3 cup pure kosher salt
1/3 to 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice, as necessary

Pat the lemons dry and cut them lengthwise into eighths.  Layer the wedges with salt in a clean 1-quart jar, pressing them down with a wooden spoon handle to fit the jar.  Cover and set aside in a cool spot for 3-4 days.  The juice will be drawn out and should cover or almost cover the lemons.  Push the lemon wedges down so they are all submerged in the brine; if necessary, add more lemon juice to cover.  Put the lid back on the jar and set in a cool spot for about 3 weeks, until the peel is soft.

The preserved lemons will keep, covered, in a cool spot, for at least 6 months; use a clean, dry utensil to remove wedges and make sure all the peel remains covered in brine.  Discard any parts that exhibit mold.

Makes 1 quart

And the Winner is…

When one of my best friends got married seven years ago, her 92 year-old grandfather spoke during the wedding and he stole the show.  He gave some wonderful marital advice that Gus and I refer to to this day.  He spoke with fifty years of marriage under his belt and he said something to the effect of, “For a marriage to last, there are three things you need to say to your partner.  Hopefully the first one is easy and you say it often, ‘I love you.’  The second one can be a little bit more tricky, but is still very important, ‘I’m sorry.’  And the third can be downright maddening, but is probably the most important of all… ‘You might be right.'”

So honey, “You might be right.”

When I decided to try making pickles this summer, you might remember that my husband’s one request was that we please try a few different recipes in small batches, versus going whole hog down the road of one untested recipe and then not liking it, but having a massive amount of jars sitting waiting to be consumed or not (I assume this was his thought process).  Although I followed his advice, I did think it was rather silly, because of course all the pickles would be delectable.  Well, it turns out I was wrong… and this was a good idea.  I tried three recipes and there is a very clear winner!  Yippee!  The one that I thought would be the best, was not, in fact it was not good at all.  But I still call the event a success, because one of the recipes turned out very well.  It is a classic dill style and has just the right amount of tart, dilliness to enjoy many different ways.

So, as promised, here is the recipe for the very clear winner, Spicy Dill Pickles.  The recipe I used was from Tart & Sweet, by Kelly Geary and Jesse Knadler – a wonderful cookbook that takes urban canning to the next level with innovative recipes and great instruction.  This particular recipe is very straightforward and easy.  With pickling, since you add your spices to the jar itself, you can play with how spicy to make your pickles or omit a spice completely if it is not to your taste.  So satisfying!

Spicy Dill Pickles

4 cups white vinegar

2 cups water

1/4 cup kosher salt

4 1/2 pounds Kirby cucumbers, ends trimmed, quartered into spears

Per Jar

3 cloves garlic

3 dill heads or 4-5 large dill sprigs

2 hot peppers, such as habanero or serrano

1 tablespoon yellow mustard seed

1 tablespoon brown mustard seed

1 teaspoon dill seed

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

        

Bring the vinegar, water, and salt to a boil in a medium nonreactive pot.  Stir to dissolve the salt.

Place garlic, dill, peppers, and spices in each hot jar.  Pack cucumbers in as tightly as possible without crushing.  Pour in boiling brine, leaving 1/2 inch headspace.  Make sure the cucumbers are submerged in the brine.

Check for air bubbles, wipe the rims, and seal.  Process for 15 minutes, adjusting for elevation.  Yield 4 quarts.

Note: I brined the pickles overnight and kept my pickles whole as they were on the small side.  I also used pint jars versus quart, so my yield was 8 pints.  I will try these again next year, but I might also try fermenting a batch to see how they compare!

Happy Pickling!

Pretty Packages

Because who doesn’t love receiving mail… and a pretty package at that?  All Poole Party Designs packages come “ready for gifting” with beautiful tissue and bow.  Gift wrap included.  Why, you ask?  Because I love making pretty packages and hopefully it takes one thing off of someone else’s to-do list.

This clearly is a family affair.  My assistants went with me today to the post office to mail the first round of shipments out to our customers!  My what a great help they were!  I know you are jealous.  These guys are the best in the business.

Thanks everyone for all your wonderful words of encouragement!  I appreciate it so much in these early days!

Poole Party Designs :: OPEN for Business

Based on the all the fun I have been having sewing and the positive feedback from both Inspiration and Product Testing, I decided to open an Etsy shop to sell my handmade items!  We’re pretty excited around here!

Click on the above page titled Shop to see what we’re up to!

Thanks for visiting!

~ Lesley