Saturday, December 29, 2012

Pot Roast Recipe

After a long day of holiday shopping, it can be exhausting to make dinner. Here is a great recipe to make in the morning, and by the end of the day all you have to worry about is eating it!

 Slow Cooker Pot Roast
 - 1 (4 -5 lb) beef roast, any kind
- 1 (1 1/4 ounce) package brown gravy mix, dry
- 1 (1 1/4 ounce) package dried Italian salad dressing mix
- 1 (1 1/4 ounce) package ranch dressing mix, dry
- 1/2 cup water - 1/2 cup Baby carrots
- 1/2 cup Rutabaga, chopped
- 1/2 cup Pearl onions
- 1/2 cup Baby spuds 1

Place beef roast and veggies in crock pot. 2 Mix the dried mixes together in a bowl and sprinkle over the roast. 3 Pour the water around the roast. 4 Cook on low for 7-9 hours. Voila! Everything is so tender and juicy, and perfect to warm those chilly nights!

 What's your favorite slow cooker recipe? Let everyone know in the comments section below!

 Written by Spry Sprout

Friday, December 21, 2012

Friday Finds: Winter Wedding

Need some last minute items for your Winter Wedding?  Check out these great Etsy items.

Lava Gifts

Three Initial Bridesmaids Necklaces Personalized Bridesmaids Gifts Set of 3, Pine Cone Necklaces, Winter Wedding Bridal Jewelry
Vie Bella

2 Snowflake Red Wine Glasses . Hand Engraved . 'Floating Flakes' . Holiday Stemware . Winter Wedding
Daydreem Designs


Bozimite Art

By Abby Bohn from Abigail Leigh Handbags

Monday, December 17, 2012

Thrifty & Crafty Holiday Decorating

I love holiday arts and crafts! Handmade snow globes are a fun and easy project, especially with kids. Baby food and pickle jars worked well as the globes. You simply adhere plastic figurines to the jar lids with superglue. Cake toppers make excellent figurines. Once the glue dries, fill the jars with water, a few strong shakes of craft glitter and a few drops of glycerin to slow the glitter fall. Then add a small amount of glue to the lid before securing it.

Inline image 1 

Acorn garland is another fun project. You need collected acorns, a small paintbrush glitter, crafting glue, tiny eye hooks and twine. Simply add a dab of glue at the end of each eye hook and then carefully screw one into the top of each acorn. Paint the acorn tops with glue and then coat them in glitter. Once all the glue dries, string the twine through each hook and then tie a knot to keep the acorns from sliding. You could also skip the eye hooks altogether and just fill a glass canister with a handful of glittered acorns.

Inline image 2

Both of these crafts adorn my mantel, along with other knickknacks that I've gathered: an antique vase filled with cinnamon sticks, an over-sized pine cone, candles, crocheted snowflakes, an old spool wrapped with red twine, old wood ornaments and other fun finds.

Inline image 3

Written by Charms City Company

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Chiffon & Tulle No Sew Flower

And the obsession with flowers continues. I don't understand I was such a tom boy as a child and now all I think about are flouncy, flirty, girly, fabric flowers. I blame it on the time a brick was dropped on my head and my mom thought it was hysterical...from tom boy to tutus!

Anyway here is another no sew flower. However, this one is a bit trickier because of the light weight of the fabric and the hot glue. So BE CAREFUL not to burn yourself, it if very easy. No one wants hot glue gun burned fingers!

Hot glue gun
Butter Knife (I used a plastic one so I didn't ruin a good one)
Small piece of felt
Chiffon (about an eighth to a quarter of a yard)
Tulle (about an eight of a yard)
Medium to large sized decorative shank button

  1. Print out the pattern below. (Use the scale to make sure the print out is the correct size). Out of the felt cut one 2.5"circle. Using the square, cut 30 pieces of chiffon and 10 pieces of tulle.
  2. Take a square of the chiffon and fold it in half but make sure it is off center (A). Then take that half and fold it in half again (B). 

  3. Place a dab of hot glue near the edge of the circle and place the corner of the folder petal on the glue. Using the butter knife, push down the fabric and hold it in place til it dries. Note: the knife might stick a little but the smooth surface should be easily removed from the glue leaving the petal attached to the felt backer.
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 using the chiffon to fill all around the edge of the backer. Don't be afraid to pack them in, you can always cut more fabric! After the edge is covered, repeat steps 2 and 3 using the rest of the fabric going around in circles until the felt backer is covered. To make my flower I used one circle layer of tulle right after the first outer circle. Then I continued with the chiffon to finish it up.

  5. Put hot glue on the back of the shank button and glue it to the center of the flower. Hold in place til the glue cools/dries.

Note: I did not make this flower into an accessory, however it would be great on a headband, as a hair clip or a pin. For ideas on different things to do with the flower refer to some of my other tutorials (headband, brooch, hair clips.

Written by Kolleen Kilduff from Design by Night

Friday, December 14, 2012

Get Grumpy this Holiday!

Meet all your last minute handmade shopping needs this Saturday at GRUMP at Artisphere!!

"GRUMP is the best ever alternative holiday craft show and is your chance to shop local this holiday season. Let’s be real, the mall is sad and full of Pillow Pets and online shopping is lonely. So, join 40 of your favorite local makers as they show and sell handmade goods. From kids clothing made from vintage t-shirts and handmade soap to plush anteaters and t-shirts about zombies eating pizza, GRUMP’s mix of vendors should help you score something unique for everyone on your list. It is like shopping in real life, but without having to rely on a search function. And with a tacky-sweater photo booth and DJ"

I also hear that there will be a real life Yeti and a giant hot dog.  What more could you ask for? This is one of the last craft shows of the year, so don't miss out on the fun! 

Plus meet some BESTies:

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Big Night Baltimore New Year's Eve Celebration

It might be early but do you have your plans set for New Year’s Eve yet?  Check out Big Night Baltimore, MIX 106.5 New Year’s Eve Extravaganza!!!  It’s located at The Sheraton Baltimore City Center from 9pm – 2am on Monday, December 31st.

There will be:
Nine amazing themed party areas
Open bars ALL NIGHT
Food buffets (included)
Multiple dance floors
Ten incredible bands & DJ’s
Party favors for all
Baltimore’s biggest midnight celebration with balloon drop, toast, etc…
Discounted hotel rooms
And two ticket options

Check it out and make it a new year’s to remember. 

Written by Abby Bohn from Abigail Leigh Handbags

Monday, December 10, 2012

Local Volunteering Opportunities

'Tis the season for sharing and giving, and what better way to do that than by donating your time to people and places in need!  The holidays can be a lonely time of year for some folks, and it's always good to remember those less fortunate than us.  A great way to give back is by volunteering to help, even in the smallest of ways.  

Getting children involved is a great way to encourage responsibility as well as a sense of dependability.  Volunteering also puts children in contact with other adults to serve as positive role models. As children work side by side with grownups on volunteer projects, they observe adults giving time and effort to worthwhile causes. Instead of looking up to a rock star advocating skimpy outfits and numerous marriages, your children just might say, "Mom, Mr. Stevens is so cool! Do you know he helps sick eagles and hawks at the bird sanctuary?"

Here are a few ideas to get you started in your philanthropy:

Bedtime Snack Sacks:
While most kids enjoy a bedtime snack, children living in homeless shelters seldom have that treat. With your kids, decorate a number of lunch bags with markers, sequins, and glitter. Fill each bag with a juice pack and non-perishable treat such as a granola bar, packaged crackers, or dried fruit. Add a small "Happy Meals" type toy as a surprise. Deliver the snack sacks to a women's shelter. For privacy reasons, your child may not actually see any residents at the shelter. The experience should foster some meaningful conversation with older kids about why the shelter exists and how it's supported, while younger children will feel good knowing they helped another.
Dog and Cat Fun:
Local humane societies look for volunteers to walk their dogs. See if your family can register as dog walkers. You'll get exercise along with the dogs! Kids can also collect old towels and newspapers to donate to shelters to use for animal care.
Many senior citizens cherish their pets. Seniors on limited incomes often have difficulty paying for pet food and supplies. How about getting your children to collect pet food and then donate it to a senior center? One family I know got out their trusty red wagon and went door to door in their neighborhood, asking pet owners to donate food. (Ask people without pets if they can make a cash donation.)
Outdoor Clean-Up:
Contact your local Parks and Recreation department to see if they need help on trail clean-up. Kids can help staff create trails, plant flowers, and maintain park facilities. 
Road Runs:
Offer to be a volunteer with a local road run or sports event. Organizers always need people to take registration or to distribute T-shirts. Children can pass out water or even hold the ribbon at the finish line.
Do your children have dramatic or musical talents? Have them practice a skit, song, or musical piece. Offer to present a "talent show" to a local nursing home.
Coupon Collecting:
Look through newspapers and magazines and collect coupons for groceries and household supplies. Ask your neighbors to contribute some also. When you have a bundle of coupons, donate them to a shelter to help stretch their budget.
Decorating Delight:
Volunteer to decorate for seasonal activities at nursing homes or group homes. You can purchase inexpensive streamers, balloons, and decorating supplies—and for a personal touch, kids can make some of their own decorations. Even toddlers can help out with paper chains or adding their own artwork.
Reading Fun:
Check if the local library needs help with reading programs. Children can make posters about upcoming events or dress as a storybook character. Additionally, older kids may read to seniors at nursing homes or to someone who has lost his or her vision.
Do you have any other ways you give back to the community?  Sound off in the comments section!
Written by Spry Sprout

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Charm City Craftivists Last Chance Holiday Craft Show this weekend!

Still looking for that perfect, locally made holiday gift? Many of our area's handmade craft shows may have passed but you still have one more chance! Check out the Charm City Craftivists Last Chance Holiday Craft Show to be held Dec. 8th, 2012 from 11:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

 This juried show will feature a wide variety of quality handmade crafts by Baltimore's top crafters including some brand new faces to the Baltimore craft scene! Make sure to check out the five minute photo booth where you can have your photo taken and later order prints online.

There will also be free craft activities for the kids and a visit from Santa at some point during the day too! The food vendor will be offering a wonderful assortment of mostly locally sourced foods including chicken corn soup and pulled pork sandwhiches, plus cold and hot beverages including locally roasted Zeke's Coffee. Heck, the food alone is worth stopping by!

Free parking plus free admission seals the deal.

 Vendors will include BEST's own Charms City Company, Doxallo Designs, Greenwood Creations, Wood Art for Living, and Baltimore Soaps and More.

 Written by Baltimore Soaps and More

Friday, November 30, 2012

Merry Mart Sunday!

Come see BEST members at this year's Merry Mart. Merry Mart is a craft show featuring a diverse mix of art and craft from Baltimore and beyond. This is a creative and festive indoor show that showcases local Baltimore talent with unique handmade work. Shoppers will find one of a kind gifts, clothing, handbags, plushies, felt accessories, ceramics, soaps, kids toys, mixed media, amazing jewelry, and great art!

Support artisans and get great gifts all in one day!

You can find the vendor list and preview of their work here:

When: December 2nd, 2012
Time: 11am-5pm
Where: Creative Alliance at the Patterson
3134 Eastern Ave., Baltimore MD 21224

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Holiday Heap is this Saturday - don't miss it!

A Baltimore holiday tradition for many is heading to Holiday Heap in search of the coolest gifts.  Put on by the Charm City Craft Mafia, Holiday Heap is taking place this Saturday, December 1st, from 10-5 at St John's Church (2640 St Paul St, Baltimore).
Click here for the list of talented vendors.  Here's a sneak peak!  

Alice & Wonderland Journal by Sugar Paperie

Charm City Print by Nargol Arefi

Cable Knit Mitten Necklace by Block Party Press

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

What I'm Working on: Susie Brandt

Cards You Can Wear. Scarves You Can Send.
These are scarves for the season. Merry Christmas is repeated on the scarf which I hand-painted in festive colors. The scarf is then tucked into a card that says, what else, Merry Christmas. The scarf card can be mailed for $.80 or simply presented to the lucky recipient.Other "scarf cards" say Thank You, Celebrate, Congratulations, or Happy Birthday.
These are great tokens of appreciation for service providers or from a business to valued clients.
Another option is for a business to customize a beautiful scarf with their name or catch phrase.

Written by Susan Brandt

Monday, November 19, 2012

Favorite Etsy Shop: Cynthia's Attic

This Etsy store is so much fun to visit, it's sort of like the Cyber version of taking a long walk in a new city and finding a crammed to the ceiling antiques store around some forgotten street. You feel a breath of anticipation when entering and know that there is a treasure inside waiting to be found. And with 26 pages of items in Cynthia's Attic, it could be a wonderfully long browse. Here are a few of my favorites-

This vintage flour sifter would be cheerful and useful while making Holiday goodies.
This Kodak Brownie Camera has a bakelite case, and would be a great display item for photography or vintage buffs and also fun to use.

I have so many fond memories of reading Nancy Drew's adventures under the covers with a flashlight.

This 1967 collectible truck has just the right amount of patina. Could be a wonderful gift for that hard to buy for man on your gift list.

By Clare Hayes, Fiorella Jewelry

Friday, November 16, 2012

It's getting cold out there!

Fall is upon us and the air is getting chilly! Etsy is a great resource for finding fashionable ways to stay warm. There are some amazing knitters out there!

The shop Rima and Genute makes incredible hand knit socks:
The shop City Crochet makes adorable candy striped mittens:

For maximum warmth, an over-sized chunky sweater from Perfect Knit:

Written by Holler & Whistle

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Holy Hedgehog!

Imagine my delight when I saw these cute things in the catalog of Crate & Barrel's subsidiary company, Land of Nod.  Made by Baltimore's own Jen Strunge, of Cotton Monster!!
The site even has a fun little bio on the featured artist.  
You can get your own handmade Cotton Monster on her shop, or at Holiday Heap!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

What I'm Working On: Susie Brandt

When I take my silk scarves on the road to craft shows it makes my day when people admire them. It's great for an artist, who often works alone, to get validation from people who see her work. Sometimes, however, these very nice people go on to say, "I just don't wear scarves." These products are for you. They are made with my hand-painted silk scarves stretched over 6" x 6" canvases.
They can be displayed individually or in groups. You might group three of the same color, related colors or just pick your favorites.
They are newly available at my Etsy shop or come see them in person at an upcoming craft show like Merry Mart on December 2. I will be at several other craft shows in the upcoming months as will many of us BESTies. Please check out the BEST calendar which lists upcoming shows as well as which BEST members will be attending.
Written by: Susan Brandt

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Tutorial: Lampshade

How to Make a Lampshade

Anyone who has shopped around knows that finding just the right lampshade to replace or renew an existing base is no easy task.  Not only can pre-made shades be expensive, they usually come in a very limited variety of designs and colors.  Well, limit no more!  This tutorial from Amanda Brown at Design Sponge shows you how to make a custom drum shade using any fabric of your choice.  Check out the full how-to here, and pickup your shade making supplies online at Lamp Shop

Anyone who has shopped around knows that finding just the right lampshade to replace or renew an existing base is no easy task.  Not only can pre-made shades be expensive, they usually come in a very limited variety of designs and colors.  Well, limit no more!  This tutorial from Amanda Brown at Design Sponge shows you how to make a custom drum shade using any fabric of your choice.  Check out the full how-to here, and pickup your shade making supplies online at Lamp Shop

Written by Open Eyes Press.  Photo courtesy Design Sponge/Amanda Brown.