Crafty Bloggers Unite

One of the greatest things about blogging is the connections I have made with other bloggers.  And not just online…in REAL life too!  Last weekend I was lucky enough to attend a gathering of Crafty Bloggers sponsored by and EK Success.

I got to spend Saturday afternoon meeting and getting to know 24 crafty bloggers!  It just so happenes that 4 of the Craft Gossip editors live in the Little Rock area.  They decided to host a luncheon to bring together bloggers in the southern region of the US.  While most of the girls were from Arkansas we did have one girl from Missiouri, one from Tennessee and even one from Virginia! The talent of the group was amazing.  Many of the girls have turned thier crafty love into profitable businesses.  We even had several people who have authored books.  The crafty interests were vast! From sewing, to quilting, jewelry making, to knitting, to several crafters who like me are “Jane-of-all-trades.”

We played some crafty games, ate some good food at Trio’s Restaurant and crafted.  We laughed and even shed some tears.  We celebrated and shared stories of our best and worst crafting experiences.  It was a wonderful and exciting day that went by too fast!

Crafters are a funny bunch.  We get just as excited over a home improvement store as we do a craft store.  And who doesn’t enjoy a pile of mismatched craft supplies?  We had fun raiding the pile and using all kinds of goodies to give “make-overs” to the photos of our Craft Gossip editors!

The most exciting part of the day came in the last 30 minutes or so when we got our bag of swag!  EK Success hooked each of us up with a HUGE assortment bag of different supplies that they offer!  We seriously took home over $250.00 worth of some really cool stuff!  Do you wanna see what I got? I know you do!  Here it is along with some of my thoughts on a few of the products.

Can you believe all of this stuff? It was such an amazing assortment of goodies!  Here is a list (with links!) of all of the stuff we got.

Isn’t this a TOTALLY amazing assortment of supplies?!  My summer will be filled with all kinds of crafty adventures!  My three favorite product were:

K&Company – Engraved Garden 12×12 Specialty Paper Pad

Inkadinkado – My Recipes Card
Jolee’s Boutique – Lace Adhesive Borders
Thank you EK Success!
Disclosure:  I was given a free lunch and all of the above items from EK Success and this post was required in return for receiving the items.  My opinions of individual items (if discussed) is my own and was not influenced by the fact that I received the items for free.

Lemon Thyme Cupcakes and Maple Bacon Popcorn

The last two weekends have been a blur of blogger related activity! Last Saturday I attended the Fork and Talk Crafty Bloggers Meetup (more on this soon) and yesterday I attended the Arkansas Women Bloggers Meetup (more about this soon, too) and the Food Blogger Bake Sale in North Little Rock’s Argenta District.

If you purchased one of my goodies at the bake sale and this is your first time here, THANK YOU so much for stopping by!  My recipes are listed below!

The Food Blogger Bake Sale was hosted by one of my Arkansas Women Bloggers friends, Chrisitie Ison of Fancy Pants Foodie.  Some of the bloggers who provided baked goods included: Hillary Kleck of Sensory Sun; Lisa Mullis of Arkansas Outside; Heather Nabers West of Bake Create Love; Sunshine Crawford of Make Life Delicious; Julie Kohl of Eggs and Herbs; Stephanie Hamling of Proactive Bridesmaid; Kelli Reep of What Have You Heard; Gina Knuppenburg of Desperately Seeking Gina; and Paige Burkham of Approaching Joy.

All proceeds went to support Share Our Strength programs such as No Kid Hungry and Cooking Matters.

When I first signed up to supply some baked goods I thought I might stick with a traditional item like chocolate chip cookies.  I make pretty decent chocolate chip cookies but chocolate chip cookies can be pretty boring.  I decided I needed to make something that better reflected by cooking personality.  I love flavor and bold tastes and since I grow herbs I really should be showcasing what you can do with them.

 We have tons of beautiful thyme growing in our garden and it is a perfect herbs for both sweet and savory dishes.  I decided to make some Lemon Thyme Cupcakes and since I also had some dried lavender left over from last year I though a sweet Lavender Buttercream would be a perfect addition.  These cupcakes were super moist and flavorful. I was really happy with the results.

Lemon Thyme Cupcakes – Makes 12

1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 large lemon, zest and juice
2 tablespoons fresh lemon thyme, finley chopped
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
12 cupcake paper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line your muffin tin with the cupcake papers.

In a small bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.

In the bowl of your electric mixer cream the butter and sugar together until smooth. Add two large eggs, the zest of one lemon, and the chopped thyme leaves, juice of one lemon and vanilla.  Mix until well combined.

With the mixer on low slowly add half of the flour mixture followed by half of the milk.  Combine and then add remaining flour and milk.

Divide the batter evenly between the 12 cupcake papers (I use an ice cream scoop) and then bake for about 25 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.  Cool completely before frosting.

Lavender Buttercream

1/2 cup of milk
2 tablespoons of dried lavender buds (be sure to purchase culinary grade if you dont grow your own)
2 to 2 1/2 cups of powdered sugar
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), at room temperature

At least 20 minutes in advance place 2 tablespoons of lavender into a metal tea ball or tie in a small piece of cheesecloth and place in a mug.  In a small saucepan heat the milk until it just begins to boil.  Remove from heat and pour into the mug over the lavender.  Place in the fridge until you are ready to use it.

In your mixing bowl combine the sugar and butter until fluffy and smooth.  Slowly add the lavender infused milk until the frosting reaches the desired consistency.  You may not use all of the milk.

When cupcakes are cool frost the cupcakes with a knife or transfer buttercream into a pastry bag and pipe onto the cupcakes.

Top each cupcake with a little piece of fresh thyme.  Enjoy!

Being a Vermont girl at heart I LOVE anything with maple syrup.  And it MUST be REAL maple syrup! And who (besides my vegetarian friends) doesn’t love bacon?  Popcorn is such a traditional easy snack but often lacks the pizazz I love in my food.  So I thought I would jazz up some boring popcorn with some salty bacon and sweet maple syrup!

Maple Bacon Popcorn – Makes about 6 Servings

8 cups of popped popcorn
4 slices of Bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/4 cup REAL maple syrup
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon salt

Cook 4 pieces of bacon until golden brown and crispy.  Cool, crumble and set aside.

Now here is the secret to REALLY flavorful popcorn.  Cook the kernels in the bacon grease!  If you don’t have enough bacon grease to cook the popcorn according to the package directions you can add canola oil as needed.

Once the popcorn is cooked place it into a bowl large enough for you to stir in the maple sauce.  Cover a large baking sheet (or your counter top) with a piece of parchment paper.

In a saucepan, combine the syrup, sugar, butter and salt.  Stir constantly until it begins to bubble.  Stir for about 30 seconds more then remove from the heat.  Quickly stir in the crumbled bacon pieces. Stir and then pour half of the syrup mixture over the popcorn.  Stir with a wooden spoon and then pour the remaining syrup mixture over the popcorn.  Stir until well coated and then dump the popcorn onto the parchment paper to cool.  Once cool, serve or place in an airtight container until ready to eat.  Eat within 2 days (this shouldn’t be a problem) for the freshest taste.  Enjoy!




Pappardelle with Leeks, Sugar Snap Peas, and Lemon {Find it, Make it}

Hi. I love to search out new recipes and try new things. As I find them in magazines, on blogs, and various other places, I will make them and let you know how they turn out. I will also give you any tips to make it easier or offer suggestions on how I changed the recipe to better suit me and my family. Check back frequently for new recipe ideas.  Take a look at the other recipes in the {Find it, Make it} series or enjoy the other posts on Julie’s blog. – Amanda

In Martha Stewart’s March issue she has some great easy pasta dishes that have creamy sauces made from the starchy pasta water. Since March was so unseasonably warm here in norther Illinois I was craving something fresh and with spring flavors. This was a cinch to make and really tasty. I cut down on the butter a bit and used a part skim ricotta to decrease the overall fat. Here is the recipe and you can also link to it here.

Pappardelle with Leeks, Sugar Snap Peas, and Lemon

Course Salt and fresh ground pepper
1/2 stick unsalted butter
2 med leeks (white and pale green parts) cut into thin half moons and rinsed well
2 lemons
1/2 lb sugar snap peas, trimmed and cut in half crosswise
3/4 lb dried pappardelle or other flat egg noodles
1/2 C fresh ricotta
2 oz Pecorino Romano cheese, grated (3/4 C)


1. While bringing a large pot of salted water to a boil, melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add leeks and a pinch of salt; cook until leeks begin to soften and are bright in color, about 4 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until very tender, about 5 more minutes. Turn off heat. Finely grate zest of lemons directly into skillet, and season generously with pepper.

2. When water boils, add sugar snap peas to boiling water, and cook until bright green, about 2 minutes. Transfer peas to a plate using a strainer.

3. Add pasta to boiling water, and cook until just tender, about 4 minutes (do not drain water). Transfer pasta to skillet using the strainer. Add sugar snap peas. Gradually stir in 1 cup pasta water, about 1/2 cup at a time, alternating with ricotta and half the Pecorino and tossing until pasta is coated and sauce is creamy.

4. Divide among 4 bowls, and top with remaining grated cheese.

Martha also recommended using other veggies that were crisp and in season like asparagus or green beans.

From my searches to your dishes. Enjoy!