Tag Archives: OKMH = One Kitchen Many Hearts

OKMHHOU: The Great Reunion

OKMHHOU - Group Snap

I love this photo! What’s most notable is not the colorful donkey piñata (whom we named Kevin), but that all seven of our OKMH (One Kitchen Many Hearts) crew are in the same place at the same time for the first time ever. That’s right. We all gathered here in Houston so that we could gaze upon each other’s faces live & in person for the first time ever. Granted, some of us have met over the past 3 1/2 years since we met via The Pioneer Woman‘s website, but never have we all been in the same place at once. Until now. But let’s start at the very beginning. In a galaxy far, far away…. no, wait. That’s another saga.

Once upon a time, about 3 1/2 years ago, several of us started reading The Pioneer Woman‘s website. And during that time, we began to reply to one another’s comments, or comment on the recipes each of us would upload to the Tasty Kitchen page. Over time, we began to write our own blogs and continued to comment and subscribe to each other’s blogs. That gradually morphed into closer friendships via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Eventually, we all joined Group Me (an instant messaging app) where we began to share even more personal aspects of our lives. Things we wouldn’t share on the Internet for everyone to see. Personal things. Things you share with your closest girlfriends. And eventually, we became more like sisters.

Before the girls arrived, I made two keepsake crafts for them – handmade monogrammed pillowcases and toast-themed coasters (aka Toasters). Pinterest – it’s where the magic begins.

OKMHHOU - Pillowcases

OKMHHOU - Toast Coasters

Kirsten of Comfortably Domestic was the first to arrive. This was actually her second visit; she came last May for a long weekend. We joke that we are Sisters From Other Misters. She came in from Michigan around noon. When she left that morning, her journey involved black ice on the highway and a night spent with family in another city to ensure she could get a plane out. Once here, it was sunny and 70F and we were dining on burgers on the patio at Good Company Taqueria. The Polar Vortex can bite it.

OKMHHOU - Kirsten @ Lunch

After lunch, we drove home to prep a Mexican fiesta banquet for the others because nothing says “Thanks for flying all day” like a fiesta and a pitcher of Mexican Martinis. This is where things got dicey. The remaining five of our group (Madelyn from La Petite Pancake, Megan from Country Cleaver, Beka from Kvetchin’ Kitchen, Allison from Decadent Philistines and Kat from Tenaciously Yours) were subjected to all kinds of drama. First, three of them were delayed in Denver due to high winds. It all worked out, though barely in Allison’s case, and they all 3 boarded the same plane from Denver to Houston. Kat came from the tundra of Minnesota where the roads were treacherous, but the airport was up and running. Let it be noted that Minnesota knows how to winter. Ice and 8′ of snow? They barely flinch. Madelyn, from the LA area, flew straight in. No sweat. Californians make everything look easy.

But wait – there’s more! After being blown away that they had scheduled all their flights to arrive within 30 minutes of each other, they gathered at baggage claim and made their way to the car rental shuttle. Our group had made a reservation for a 7-passenger Dodge Caravan minivan for the weekend. As soon as Madelyn stepped up to the counter to get the car, the entire building lost power. I’ll let the others explain what occurred since they were there in person, but let’s just say the rental company failed us. There was no car rented and the cab called by the rental company charged them $115 to drive them one-way to my house that night (which they were told would be reimbursed but still haven’t been). If ever a group of ladies deserved a pitcher of margaritas, this was it.

The next morning, Madelyn & Kat spent at least 2 hours on the phone with Customer Care only to be shifted from number to number, each time getting yet another disinterested service rep. After two hours, the bottom line was no rental van, a strong probability they would be forced to eat the cab fare, and no car to use for our planned day trip to Brenham. Finally, we resolved it by canceling the reservation from hell and calling another rental company near my home. It cost twice as much and ended up being a 10 passenger panel van, but hey… it was wheels and they were great to deal with. Thank you Walter at Avis! Of course, we took Kevin the Piñata Donkey with us everywhere.

OKMHHOU - Party Van Collage

For our first full day together, we were off to the Hill Country and Brenham, Texas where we met up with Katie from The Hill Country Cook. We had so much fun! We hit a few antique shops and bought a few blog props, then hit Must Be Heaven for lunch. It’s a family owned sandwich shop that also has an old-fashioned ice cream counter and a case full of pies. What is not to love about that? I chose the daily special consisting of a slice of quiche (I chose the bacon, cheese & mushroom) and a bowl of soup (broccoli cheese).

OKMHHOU - Lunch at Must Be Heaven

Then we dove into the pie case. Together, we tried the Dutch apple pie, the cherry, a lemon meringue and a slice of chess pie. Madelyn opted for an ice cream cone and although I don’t remember what it was called (something something Mexican cheesecake maybe?) I’ll never forget her face while she was eating it. When asked if it was vanilla, Mads said something like “It looks like vanilla, but it tastes like heaven in my mouth.” Ringing endorsement indeed. A cookie made it in there, too, but my focus was on the pie. I love pie.

OKMHHOU - Desserts at Must Be Heaven

After lunch, we had no choice but to walk it off with more shopping. Here in Texas, we love our state. Not just “Oh, it’s great here” but in a more rabid “Our state is the best. Long live the Republic!” way. As such, we hang lone stars and things shaped like Texas in the same way others hang family photos. Case in point – this wall hanging made from vintage Texas license plates. Because the only thing better than Texas stuff is Texas stuff layered on more Texas stuff.

OKMHHOU - License Plate State

It wasn’t all antiques and rusty metal, though. There were hats, vintage clothing, baubles & beads, sandals & flip-flops and crocheted vests galore. Also food blog props, vintage literature and a handful of Christmas ornaments were involved. We stayed so busy shop-hopping that when we finally slowed down enough for a few of the ladies to try on clothes, the rest of us hit the sofas and took advantage of a Twitter & Instagram break. As we like to say, “Snaps or it didn’t happen!”

OKMHHOU - Twitter Break

When we eventually noticed that the shops were closing and the streets were rolling up, we said a sad farewell to our buddy Katie. So happy she joined us! Top Row: Kirsten, Allison, Me & Beka. Bottom Row: Megan, Kat, Katie & Mads.

OKMHHOU - Group in Brenham

We waved goodbye and crawled back into the panel van to head home. On the way, we impulse stopped at Buc-ee’s – the greatest convenience store on earth. Why? 1) ladies’ restrooms with 30+ stalls featuring full wood doors, complete privacy, individual hand sanitizer dispensers and a full-time cleaning crew. 2) clothing department with beaver emblazoned t-shirts, cammo everything and beer koozies to match. 3) full-size BBQ grills, Lodge cast iron cookware and a cooking/cookbook area. 4) an entire aisle devoted to jerky. 5) Beaver Nuggets – both caramel corn & the nugget equivalent of Flaming Hot Cheetos. They’re seriously addictive. What’s truly hilarious is while we were in Buc-ee’s near Hempstead, Katie was simultaneously hitting Buc-ee’s on Highway 71.

One kitchen, many hearts. Many kitchens, one mind. It’s spooky, really.

OKMHHOU - Buc-ee's Stop

Back at the ranch, we feasted on TCP’s brisket, sausage, beans, slaw, and all the sauces & relish tray items you can imagine. If it could be pickled, it was probably there. We also cracked open the Shiner and assorted beers on ice. When we were filled to the brim and crying for mercy, The Complete Package broke out the homemade peach cobbler and Blue Bell vanilla ice cream. Lord, I love that man.

Sunday, we slept late and were treated to French toast waffles. The recipe isn’t on the blog yet, but it’s coming soon. After snarfing up waffles and enough bacon to make your eyes roll back in your head, we hit the road for Alvin, Texas. On the way, we stopped at Rustic Metal Works where we checked out the cute lawn art, wall hangings and assorted hardware. And since there was a taco truck right next door, we decided to stop for a snack that included one 5-piece taco plate with salsas, one lingua taco (tongue) and a chicharrón (pork rind) taco. Following the Blogger’s Rule, first we photographed and then we dug in.

OKMHHOU - Taco Truck Snacks

After passing the wet-wipes and blowing out a flip-flop, we made a quick pit stop at Walmart for replacement footwear and to take in the local color (read: topless woman in a pickup truck). From there, we hit the antique mall to shop for more blog props and household items we couldn’t live without. I found this vintage locker basket and fell in love. For $20, I couldn’t resist and now it’s on my sewing table holding fabric and ribbons. Love it!

OKMHHOU - Locker Basket for Fabric

Since Kirsten’s visit last May, we have cooed over the miniature donkeys near my house more times than I can count, so of course we had to take the others to visit. Luckily, when we arrived they were in the meadow close to the road and we even got an up-close encounter with two of them. They are beyond adorable. Keep in mind when you view the photos – these donkeys are full-grown adults. The baby we saw last May was the size of a cocker spaniel. That’s right, people – the babies are practically pocket donkeys and I adore them.

OKMHHOU - Field of Miniature Donkeys

OKMHHOU - Miniature Donkeys Coming to Visit

OKMHHOU - Allison & Beka Pet the Donkeys

Mads & Megan - Petting Donkeys

OKMHHOU - Donkey Close-Up

OKMHHOU - Megan & the Donkeys

Two out of two tiny donkeys agree: ear scratches are the best.

Monday was another late start. Over many coffees and a few chai teas, we pulled together the breakfast we’d dreamed of while planning our weekend – The Biscuit Bar. We made a big tray of buttermilk biscuits, a pan of sausage gravy, and pulled all the jams & jellies out of the fridge. Oh, and there was more bacon. Of course.

After breakfast, we broke out the packing supplies and the flat-rate boxes, and packed up everything that couldn’t or wouldn’t fit in suitcases. It was frantic. And hilarious. And Mads & I both scored a bag of Beaver Nuggets that wouldn’t pack. Hooray for Bonus Nugs!

OKMHHOU - Packing Suitcase Overruns

The only thing left was a return trip to Rustic Metal Works to rescue a flying pig. You see, Beka fell in love but talked herself out of it. Then we were distracted by street tacos, and it was decided that if she still woke up the next morning thinking of her new spirit animal, we would go back for him. Arriving to find the place locked up (closed Mondays) was like listening to air slowly released from a balloon. Luckily, if it fits it ships, so I agreed to go back later in the week and rescue a pig. Meet Al Porccino.

OKMHHOU - Al Porccino Comes Home

He’s adorable. And speaking of Beka, she had my name for our last OKMH box exchange. Check out my package. (Stop giggling.)

OKMHHOU - OKMH Box Items

That’s an assortment of hot sauces from her recent trip to Mexico, a bag of Australian Jungle Jellies, assorted bars of chocolates (not sharing), a bottle of Mexican vanilla, and a squirrel ornament from our day in Brenham. Perfect.

And so, after four days of endless chatter, late nights, very little sleep, way too much food and a few bottles of wine, beer and bubbles, our first live & in person One Kitchen Many Hearts weekend came to a close. It was fun. It was heartfelt. And it was way too short. Anyone who says friendships formed on the internet aren’t real are doing it wrong. These ladies are my friends, and I couldn’t love them more. We may be different shapes, ages and personalities, but that’s what makes us work as a group. We fill each others gaps. We support each other, both on our blogs and in our personal lives. It may have started with random comments on a website, but it has grown into so much more. I treasure these ladies, and it was really hard to watch that huge panel van drive away. If you don’t believe me, just ask Kevin.

OKMHHOU - Goodbye is Never Easy

I seriously can’t wait to do it again next year! I’ll bring Kevin.

OKMHHOU - The End

To see what the other ladies posted from our weekend, visit:
Megan at Country Cleaver
Kirsten at Comfortably Domestic
Beka at Kvetchin’ Kitchen
Allison at Decadent Philistines Save the World
Mads at La Petite Pancake
Kat at Tenaciously Yours

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Filed under Blogger Collaborations, Things I Love, Travel Tales

DIY: Girly Decorative Pillowcases

DIY Pillowcase - Finished Collection Collage

Feeling crafty? I am! Our OKMH gang is getting together for a weekend in just 10 days, and I’m beyond excited. All seven of us under the same roof for the first time ever? It’s going to be epic! As a special treat, I made pillowcases for the girls – bright, colorful, girly pillowcases. What’s a girlfriends weekend for, after all, if not pampering, shopping, cocktails and flashy floral prints?

This is my simple DIY tutorial for decorative pillowcases.

For one queen-size pillowcase, you will need:
one yard of cotton quilting fabric (42″ wide x 36″ long)
one 6″ x 44″ piece of a coordinating solid
one 44″ piece of 1/2″ grosgrain ribbon
thread to match
felt & embroidery floss, to make a monogram (optional)
one tiny color-coordinated button (also optional)

Start by washing and ironing your yard of quilting fabric and the coordinating solid, then trim off any scraggly threads along the unfinished edges.

DIY Pillowcase - Loose Threads

Fold the yard of quilting fabric in half lengthwise with the good sides facing each other. Because quilting fabrics come from the factory with finished edges, this means your longer sides will already be ‘finished’ and only the top & bottom of the pillowcase will need to be edged to keep it from unraveling.

DIY Pillowcase - Factory Finished Edges

Pin the long side of your pillowcase and stitch it twice, so it’s extra sturdy. CAUTION: some fabrics have white edges and print along the finished edges. Be sure to stitch inside that line so this doesn’t show on your finished pillowcase. I’ll show you what I mean.

DIY Pillowcase - Double Stitched Edges

Here’s a simple trick for stitching the bottom of the pillowcase. Because the edges are ‘raw’ they can unravel when washed. I like to use bias tape to cover the raw edge. It helps create really sharp edges when the case is turned right-side out. Place your bias tape halfway beneath your unfinished edge, leaving at least 1/2″ of excess tape on each end. Fold the edges in so they’re flush with the edge of the fabric, then bend the bias tape in half to cover the entire edge and pin it into place. Double stitch all the way across to secure the tape. When done, trim off your thread tails and turn the case right sides out. Use a ruler to push your corners into a perfect right angle, and press your pillowcase.

DIY Pillowcase - Bias Tape Collage

Now we’re ready to tackle the opening and decorative trim. For the opening of the pillowcase, I turn the raw edge under 1/2″ and press, then turn under 1/2″ again and pin it in place. Again, double stitch for a more professional finish.

DIY Pillowcase - Finished Hem Collage

If you’re making a simple pillowcase, you can stop here. But if want to embellish, a simple ruffle with ribbon trim is a great way to go about it.

DIY Pillowcase - Ribbon Collage

1. Fold your solid trim fabric in half lengthwise and lay it on your finished case. I like to place the folded edge about 1″ from the finished opening of the case.

2. Lay out the ribbon, aligning it so that it just overlaps the cut edge. Pin the ribbon and ruffle into place so that the two edges meet at the side seam.

3. Stitch it all into place. I like use a ribbon with decorative stitching, and sew just along both sides of that stitching.

4. To join the two ends, fold one edge of the ruffle fabric in about 1/2″ and press it flat. Tuck the unfinished edge inside to hide it. Fold one end of the ribbon under 1/4″ or so and pin it to cover the other end of the ribbon. To finish, stitch across the folded edge of the trim to close it.

5. One last flourish – monogramming.

Do you have to monogram your pillowcases? No, but it does add a nice finishing touch and it’s easier than you think. Using your computer, open a Word document. Type in the initial you need and change the font until you find one you like. Play with the font size so that the finished letter fits easily on your solid border. Then hit ‘print’ and grab your paper off the printer. Roughly cut out a square around your letter and pin that square onto a piece of felt. Using sharp scissors, cut out the letter. When done, pin it to your solid ruffle and sew it on with your machine OR by using a simple stitch and a contrasting embroidery floss. (This one is machine-stitched. The others below are hand-stitched.)

DIY Pillowcase - Finished & Rolled

I took this one a step further with an iron-on flower and a small felt butterfly because this one is for the young daughter of a friend. I hope she’ll love her butterfly with pearls. For the ladies, I embroidered the monograms and finished them with a cute little button in a contrasting color.

When done, I folded the pillowcases and tied them shut with a coordinating ribbon. Here’s a look at some of the finished pillowcases for our first One Kitchen Many Hearts weekend. I just love how they turned out.

DIY Pillowcase - Finished Cases Collage

There’s so much joy in a handmade gift, and I admit I had a ball making these! Even better, the ladies will all have a keepsake from our first weekend together. Now I just need them to hurry up and get here. Not that we’re watching the clock or anything (we’re all totally watching the clock), but SHAKE A LEG, LADIES! We need to get this party started!

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Filed under Craft Projects, Things I Love

OKMH – The October Box

OKMH Collage 2013

It’s that time again, kids – time for another One Kitchen Many Hearts box. Wahoo! I love mail days like OKMH, where blogging buddies send care packages to one another round-robin-style. For October, I sent a box of love to Madelyn in California and received a box from Kat in Minnesota. Here’s what Kat sent. It started with this card. So much promise in a 4×6 format.

OKMH - October 2013 - Card

As promised, there was so much to squeal over. As the postscript hints, there was a pashmina (possibly from Paris) in a lovely blue hue. So pretty. Ooo la la!

OKMH - October 2013 - Pashmina

And two bags of what can only be deemed the Rolls Royce of rice.

OKMH - October 2013 - MN Wild Rice

I already have plans that involve roasted chicken with mushrooms and grilled shrimp with lemons. Or maybe a wild rice salad with dried cranberries, oranges and nuts. So many possibilities hidden in those gorgeous ebony grains. In sharp contrast, these next goodies have no possibility of lasting. Zero. Zip. Zilch.

Caramello Bar - RIP

No mincing words here. That Caramello Bar died instantly. Thankfully, it was a quick & painless death. I made sure of that. It wasn’t pretty, but it was quick. These are lasting a little longer, but not by much.

Chocolate & Caramel Collage

Okay, confess. When you see a chocolate bar with grid lines, and that bar breaks contrary to said lines, are you compelled to ‘fix’ it by evening it up? To the point that you may eat additional squares just to make sure the bar is neatly within the lines? No? Tell the truth! It can’t just be me!

Yes, I color within the lines.

But my favorite squee-inducing gift from Kat is the vintage cookbooks (cookbooklets?) from the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. Seriously, they are too much fun!

OKMH - October 2013 - Vintage Cookbooks

Techniques, ingredients and product sizes may have changed over the years, but the tried & true recipes and killer artwork of yesteryear never go out of style.

40's Cookbook Art Collage

Vintage Cookbook Collage

Never has a sandwich filling been so happy to leap onto a loaf of bread.

OKMH - October 2013 - 50's Happy Sandwich

Hello 1950’s Thanksgiving Dinner. Hubba hubba! Please pass the gravy.

OKMH - October 2013 - Thanksgiving Spread

Pillsbury’s annual bake-off contests have been bringing home bakers together through blood-sport baking battles throughout the years, but I had no idea how many years. Kat’s flea market collection included these two vintage gems.

OKMH - October 2013 - Vintage 50's Baking Books

OKMH - October 2013 - Pillsbury Bake-Off Book

That’s the $25,000 winner from the second annual Pillsbury Bake-Off. From 1950. At the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. Amazing. Also stellar – Mrs. G. Harold Kirk of Bar Harbor, who knows how to dress for an occasion.

OKMH - October 2013 - Dolled Up Contestant

In an age where people feel comfortable wearing their pajama pants to shop and/or board airplanes, Mrs. Kirk is a breath of fresh air. She is, without a doubt, even more fabulous than her prize-winning crabmeat cobbler.

I was super excited to find this recipe for Raisin Cream Pie, since it reminded me of the Sour Cream Raisin Pies of my youth, and then this recipe card fell out of the booklet and I got a bonus recipe for Baked Beans. Like a gift from heaven.

OKMH - October 2013 - Bonus Baked Beans Recipe

The best indication a recipe was loved is the stains all over it. This one was obviously a favorite. Most touching for me, was this wee booklet that still had the mailing label attached. It was a simple shortening recipe booklet from Swift & Co. addressed to Mrs. Robert Fleischehhacker of Fort Ripley, MN.

OKMH - October 2013 - Vintage Mailing Label

Did you catch that? Two pennies for postage? No way! Most notable was her address – Route #2 with no zip code. These, my friends, were simpler times. When people knew their neighbors, shared their tables and crafted meals not only from scratch, but with a great deal of love. And just like the recipe booklets, this box from Kat is meant to be shared. I may make a dish soon to share on the blog. And I’m thinking of baking a wild rice casserole for our extended family at Thanksgiving. But I probably won’t share the chocolate.

And just when you thought I was getting sentimental.

OKMH - October 2013 - 40's Cookbook Art1

To see what everyone else shipped & received this month, visit:

Mads @ La Petite Pancake – recipient of my box
Kat @ Tenaciously Yours – who sent this box to me
Beka @ Kvetchin’ Kitchen
Kirsten @ Comfortably Domestic
Megan @ Wanna Be A Country Cleaver
Allison @ Decadent Philistines Save the World

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One Kitchen Many Hearts: August

OKMH Collage 2013

It’s that time again – time for another OKMH box exchange! I love getting a box of love from my blogging buddies almost as much as I love sending them. This month, my box came from Megan of Country Cleaver fame. Megan hails from the Seattle area and mark my words – she will be a famous foodie soon. She’s destined for greatness and a spot on the Food Network. And I’m going to be a founding member of her fan club. Perhaps even Vice President.

Our theme this month was “Pimp My Desk” or “Office Essentials” or “Back to School” – whichever you think is less offensive. Here’s what Megan sent:

Photo5

This sweet little bookmark is adorable and Megan’s timing was perfect. I literally just set a new paperback out to read when her box arrived. It was immediately put to use in my copy of ‘The Winter Garden’ by Kristin Hannah. Ever read her stuff? This one tells the story of two sisters who grew up with an adoring father and a ridiculously frigid mother. Without giving too much away, the girls learn more about their mother through the Russian fairytales she shares from her youth. It’s a good story, but overall I think I preferred her other novel ‘Firefly Lane’. If you’ve read any of her other books and have recommendations, please share!

Collage3

What better accompaniment to a good book and a lazy Saturday than a cup of tea and some sea salt caramels? Again, perfect timing. The caramels died as soon as the box was opened (yes, all 3 of them). The tea lasted longer, but only because it wasn’t rolled in caramel and dipped in chocolate. So stinkin’ good!

Next up was a spa treatment box filled with lip balm, hand salve and a soap truffle. See my previous comment to know why Megan slapped a post-it note on it that read “Soap Truffle – DO NOT EAT!” She knows me well.

Collage2

She knows me so well, she fostered my obsession with Seattle’s Beecher’s Cheese by sending me a bag of their crackers. Beecher’s is always the first place I hit when we go to Seattle and walk through Pike Place Market. I love that place. If it were possible to die from the over-consumption of fresh squeaky cheese curds, I’d be the first to do it. I could eat them by the tub. Oh wait, I totally HAVE eaten them by the tub. I’m not called ‘The Cheesel’ (like weasel) for nothing, folks.

Collage1

These little pupper magnets have to be the most adorable things ever. There’s actually a Boston Terrier magnet in honor of our beloved Ziggy who passed away in March and a pug to represent our sweet friend Miss Josie Pugglesworth of the Long Beach Pugglesworths. If the magnets didn’t having me smiling ear to ear, the pens certainly did. They’re anti-theft pens for your desk. Why anti-theft? Just read them. Springfield Sexual Addiction Center? Hilarious!

I loved everything in my box, but I’ll cherish this card from Megan most.

Collage4jpg

The post-it notes explained each gift, but that sweet card and the love behind it are the real treasure. Our Story: Seven friends meet on the internet via their blogs and become real-life friends forever. And that is the greatest gift of all.

Want to see more? Check out what I sent to Kirsten at Comfortably Domestic by clicking HERE. From there, you can click from blog to blog & follow the fun.

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OKMH – The Summer Picnic Edition

Nothing beats a OKMH mail day. This month, our One Kitchen Many Hearts gang chose ‘Summer Picnics’ for our gifting theme. My box came from Kirsten of Comfortably Domestic from the northern regions of the great state of Michigan. Home of The Cherries (my favorite fruit). Did I mention she brought me a 4 pound bag of dried Michigan cherries when she came to visit in May? Because if there’s one sure way to get me to invite you down for a long weekend of antiquing, Texas Martinis and traditional southern cuisine, it’s to pack a huge bag of cherries in your carry-on (for future reference).

OKMH Collage 2013

Here’s a snap of Kirsten’s picnic extravaganza box:

OKMH June 2013 - Box O' Goodies

For the record, this might just be my favorite theme to date. There’s so much going on in this box. Let’s just break it down into manageable bits, shall we? First, each parcel was lovingly wrapped in cute polka dot tissue and tied with a ribbon and a ‘cherry lug marker’ as a gift tag.

OKMH June 2013 - Polka Dot Packaging

You’re probably thinking “What the heck is a cherry lug?” Welcome to the club. I didn’t know about them, either. Here’s what Kirsten said in her card about them: “The tags are vintage cherry lug markers from Morgan Farms – now the spot of an exciting new subdivision. I thought you’d get a kick out of having a few pieces of (Michigan) history.” She’s right. I love them. Not sure what I’ll do with them just yet, but stringing them onto a charm bracelet has crossed my mind. What would you do with them?

Cherry Chubs

Kirsten knows me well. A perfect example is this Dagoba chocolate bar. While friends send friends chocolate, true friends know what you love and send the good stuff. The dark stuff. As a bonus, this one had organic mint & rosemary essence. It was all that and a bag of chips, as we used to say back in 1993.

OKMH June 2013 - Mint & Dark Chocolate

In case the chocolate didn’t soothe all things, she also threw in a jar of Ancient Healer Herbal Salve. Oh, baby… you should smell this magical potion!

OKMH June 2013 - Ancient Healer Salve

It smells of all the great herby things – rosemary, evergreen trees, and earth. I love a good herbal salve. It’s my ‘go to’ ointment for burns, rashes or scrapes but is also perfect to soothe those summer sunburns. It’s lovely and perfect and made in Michigan. Know what else is soothing and made in Michigan? Wine!

OKMH June 2013 - Michigan Wine from Brys

This beauty came in a separate box, shipped directly from the Brys Estate in Michigan (seeing a theme here?). It’s one of my all-time favorite whites – a . Ever tried one? If you enjoy a nice chilled white wine for summer, you need to try one. But you’ll have to get your own – this Brys Gewürztraminer in mine. All mine! (You can’t hear it, but I’m doing my evil laugh while hugging the bottle.) Kirsten also included two ‘travel size’ bottles of Jose Cuervo margaritas – the perfectly portable picnic potion.

This cute post-it pad sums up how I feel about my morning coffee. As I said, girlfriend knows me well. She’s my sister from another mister. My pal from another gal. My… okay, I think you get what I’m saying. She gets me.

OKMH June 2013 - Coffee Post-Its

She also has the memory of an elephant. I wish I had her brain cells for even a day. Menopause has officially robbed me of most of mine, but Kirsten remembers all the good stuff. Like this vintage find from an antique shop. We saw one while antiquing when she was down in May. Next thing you know, there’s one in my June box. Do you know what it is?

OKMH June 2013 - Antique Cake Comb

Ultimate meat fork? No. Beard comb? No, and I’ll thank you not to mention my beard. :) It’s a cake comb! It’s used to slice delicate cakes like angel food or chiffon cakes. Even more effective than today’s serrated knives, these cake combs are the unicorns of baking utensils. This one will be perfect for my Berry Week contribution next month, so stay tuned. It will be making a return appearance in a few short weeks. (Thanks, K! Perfect timing!)

And a picnic isn’t a picnic unless it’s portable. Kirsten had that covered, as well. Check out these beauties! The first is a thermal insulated chill bag in a cute owl print. Who has two thumbs and loves owls? This girl! You pop the bag in the fridge or freezer to pre-chill, then pack and go. The second is a stainless steel thermal beverage bottle. In my favorite color, no less. It goes without saying that I love them both and will put them to good use this summer.

OKMH June 2013 - Portable Containers

And there you have it – a perfect summer picnic box from my blogging bestie Kirsten. Nailed it! Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a potato salad to make and a chilled wine to chug. I mean sip. Yeah, I totally meant sip.

To see what I sent to Megan, CLICK HERE.

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Filed under Blogger Collaborations, Things I Love

OKMH – It’s baaaack!

One Kitchen Many Hearts – it’s a box exchange program we started last year among a small group of blogging friends. Every other month, we send a box of local, handmade and/or favorite goodies to another blogger on a rotating basis. By the end of the year, each of us has received a box of love from everyone on the list. Last year was so much fun we hated to see it end, so it won’t! With absolutely no arm twisting, we’ve decided to continue for another year.

OKMH Collage 2013

My first OKMH box of 2013 came from Allison of Decadent Philistines Save the World. Here’s what she sent from her neck o’ the woods (AZ):

OKMH - Feb13 - the loot

Yeehaw! That’s a big pile of fun! Let’s take a closer look. First up is the card. I almost ruined a panty liner laughing at this cutie patotootie.

OKMH - Feb13 - Cutest Card

Allison knows me well. If there’s two things I love in life, it’s squirrels and corn. I joke with The Complete Package that some day we’ll retire to a squirrel ranch where we’ll sit on the porch each night, sipping whiskey and watching the ‘herd’ come in over the hills for the evening. Because I’m weird like that.

Speaking of hooch, check out this Scottish style ale called Kilt Lifter.

OKMH - Feb13 - Kiltlifter

She had me at kilt. After a few of these, you can bet I’ll want to know what’s under the kilt. I’m hanging on to it for a little while so I can pair it with a big fat toasty rueben or pastrami sandwich. Or maybe a batch of Beer Bread.

I jumped for joy when I pulled this next bottle from the box:

OKMH - Feb13 - Prickly Pear Syrup

It’s syrup made from the fruit of the prickly pear cactus. It’s sweet & tart and fabulous. Yes it would be great on pancakes or drizzled over ice cream, but my mind went straight to margaritas. Have you ever had a cocktail you can’t stop thinking about? Well, one of mine was a big frozen margarita swirled with this lovely elixir. It was probably 8 years ago at a business dinner in downtown Houston, and I still think of it fondly. For me, this stuff is liquid gold.

Remember Sweets Week? I made my retro Raspberry Divinity. Allison made Lemon Marshmallows. I’m thinking we should schedule all future theme week endeavors so that they publish just before our OKMH boxes are shipped, because I got a bag of these beauties:

OKMH - Feb13 - Lemon Marshmallows

Big soft fluffy lemon marshmallows. It goes without saying these are NOT the dry spongy flavorless version you find at grocery stores. These are the perfect texture with a burst of lemon zest that makes your tongue tingle, and they are lovely. One died instantly; the rest are being rationed for maximum pleasure.

Our theme this month was “Winter Essentials” and Allison outdid herself by crafting a handmade scarf in my favorite colors – blue & green.

OKMH - Feb13 - Handmade Scarf

It’s so delicate and light as a feather. I cannot imagine the number of hours spent creating it. What a treasure! We don’t really experience winter down here, but this lightweight beauty is perfect for those occasional chilly evenings. Thank you hardly seems adequate when someone puts this much time & love into a project, but THANK YOU, ALLISON!

Did you notice that snowflake in the background? All of the gift tags were made from hand-crafted paper snowflakes – the closest thing to snow we ever get on the southern coast. Not that I’m complaining (okay, I’m complaining).

OKMH - Feb13 - snowflake tags

I’ve saved the best surprise for last. This one really knocked my socks off because it was so unexpected. Remember the felt mouse tutorial I posted last month? Well, look who just got an A on her homework:

OKMH - Feb13 - Little Cutie

Oh my goodness! Isn’t she adorable? Here’s what Allison had to say about her.

“Her name is Mousidora, from the Greek that means “from the Muses.” She’s so named because I felt inspired to make her. Obviously she is a coffee drinker, and while she’ll take a splash of cream, she prefers it strong and black. That being said, she won’t say no to a wee nip of cheddar schnapps, if you know what I mean. Keeps the chill off. Her scarf is functional, but of course it’s a good look for her as well. Mousidora takes great pains to look good, even when it’s cold outside. She knows that the cranberry sets off the sparkle in her eyes. Mousidora’s hobbies include antiquing, lunching with her lady-mice friends, and betting on the ponies. She’s as sharp as a tack and likes a good nosh.”

Words cannot describe how fun it was to find this little sweetie. She and her tiny ‘cup-a-joe’ are forever perched on my kitchen coffee station so we can enjoy our morning brew together (like the bag of Sumatran coffee beans Allison included – yum). We’ll just be sipping our coffee under the Eiffel Tower, sharing our plans for the day and expressing our gratitude for great friends like Allison.

OKMH - Feb13 - Mousidora's Perch

I swear, we could do this for 100 years and I would never tire of these boxes.

If you’d like to see what I sent to our newest member of the OKMH tribe, visit Beka at Kvetchin’ Kitchen. Since it was her first ever OKMH Box, I may have gone a smidge overboard. I wanted her first adventure with our group to be one she would never forget. From there, you can also visit the other ladies and peek inside their boxes by clicking on any of these links:

Kirsten @ Comfortably Domestic
Megan @ Country Cleaver
Kat @ Tenaciously Yours
Mads @ La Petite Pancake
Allison @ Decadent Philistines

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Filed under Blogger Collaborations, Things I Love

OKMH – The September Edition

OKMH – One Kitchen, Many Hearts

That’s what we call our little group of blogging buddies and the goody boxes we send every other month. Who are these ladies? Let me show you.

OKMH Bloggers – Mads, Kirsten & Megan; Bottom: Me, Allison & Kat


Top Left: Madelyn (Mads) of La Petite Pancake
Top Center: Kirsten of Comfortably Domestic
Top Right: Megan of Country Cleaver
Bottom Center: Allison of Decadent Philistines
Bottom Right: Kat of Tenaciously Yours

That’s our official OKMH photo collage, but it’s this informal photo that really makes me giggle. Kirsten is responsible for this treasure:

The ‘unofficial’ group photo – this is how we picture us.
Megan waving to someone on the beach cracks me up every single time.

I don’t remember how we all met, but we’ve been as thick as thieves for a few years now, and I love them more every day. We may be from every corner of the U.S., but we are one kitchen with many hearts.

This month I received a box of love from Megan, the effervescent chef behind Country Cleaver. She’s amazing. She lives in Seattle. She’s a newlywed who loves her big hunk o’ burning love Ben, her sweet yellow lab Huck, enjoys long walks on the beach, craft brewing, bread baking, salmon, and pumpkin spice Hershey’s kisses (she hoards them). If there was such an award, she would surely be named “Blogger I’d Most Like to Drink A Beer With” or even “Blogger Whose Kitchen Pantry I’d Most Like to Secretly Live In”. Or both.

Here’s what Megan sent:


For the record, we love Halloween in this house. So she nailed it. Jonah Bear & Lilly Bug are going to love this. Spiders and witches and pumpkins – oh my!

Speaking of the grandkids, Jonah is going to lose it when he sees these:

He’ll be six in December and he L-O-V-E-S all things gummy. The fact that these are kind of creepy will only enhance their attraction. Well played, Megan.

Lilly Bug, who turned three this month, will love this rubber ducky (as do I). Who needs sparkly vampires with this little cutie around? #TeamJacob

When it comes to sharing, the only person in my immediate family that loves coffee like I do is my daughter. It goes without saying that she and I will be savoring these together. Look, honey! Maple Pecan & Caramel Pumpkin!

Did you know that our Megan is an ambassador for Copper River Salmon? Yup. She just got back from a spectacular weekend in Cordova, Alaska where she saw first hand what it takes to process salmon. And because she knows I share her love of this gorgeous fish, she included this tin of salmon rub. Move over, brisket. There’s a new gill in town. (Sorry. Bad joke. Okay, I’m not sorry.)

Megan also sent two gorgeous green ceramic chili bowls so we could celebrate fall Texas-style. Unfortunately, the postal service beat the crap out of that box and both bowls were shattered. Completely demolished. But that’s bound to happen when you ship stuff as far as we do, and I SO appreciate the gesture and the love behind it. The Complete Package tried his best to glue them back together, but they were beyond repair. I started to include a photo of his “Frankenbowls” but I didn’t want to break Megan’s heart. It wasn’t pretty. Funny, perhaps, with his big gaping seams oozing with hot glue, but not pretty.

UPDATE: After much urging from The Complete Package, I’ve decided to add a photo collage of the broken chili bowls. Not because I want Megan to feel bad that they didn’t make it intact, but because of the hilarity that ensued when TCP tried to step in and save the day. Determined to “make this right”, he grabbed my hot glue gun and spent a good half hour trying to put my chili bowls back together again, Humpty Dumpty style. Reality was more in line with Megan’s Halloween theme, and so (with that in mind)… I give you the Frankenbowls.

Know what takes your mind off broken bowls? I mentioned it before, and I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw them. Megan sent a bag of her beloved Pumpkin Spice Hershey Kisses. A vision of Ben prying them out of her hands to put them into the box flashed for a split second, but then I thought, “No, that’s Megan. Always a giver.” She sent an entire bag. It couldn’t have been more significant if it had been a kidney. Okay, maybe that’s a stretch, but Megan really, really loves these pumpkin spice kisses. Like for realz, yo.

And as soon as they spend some time in the fridge firming back up, Ima dig in. And I’m going to think of her each time I enjoy one. Because (and I know she’ll gasp when she reads this) I have never… ever… had one. Ever. And that will make these even sweeter.

Oh, before I go all pumpkin kiss bliss on you – go to Mads’ website and see what I sent her. You can get there by clicking HERE. You can also click on the all blog links at the top of this post to see what everyone got in their OKMH boxes. It’s always fun to see what the girls are sending and receiving.

Now go. I’ve got candy to eat and I’m not much of a sharer around chocolate. Move along, folks. Nothing to see here.

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Filed under Miscellaneous Thoughts, Things I Love