Guest Post: On Following My Heart

I'm so excited to share a guest post today from my good friend (and our wedding officiant) Leslie.  She and her husband got married last November but delayed their honeymoon so that they could do it right and take a long backpacking trip through India before they moved from DC to San Francisco.  They're about three weeks into the trip right now, but she wrote this before leaving, capturing so beautifully and honestly something that I suspect most of us struggle with as we move through life phases.  Not just across state borders, but from job to job, relationship to relationship, single to married, childless to parenthood.  Embracing the new and letting go of the old is rarely a simple matter for the heart.

From the ktmade collection

Moving across the country with a three month journey to India as a detour seems scarier and more challenging tonight than it did when my husband and I first conjured up this plan.

And letting go of my DC life has been one of the most difficult parts of this move. In honesty, I didn't even think about this part of it all. It was a detail I'd overlooked--I don't think I've gotten this attached to a place and family of friends as I have to my DC world. Letting go of it all is really painful. And it's oddly painful to be excited about the next few months when I know it is coming at the cost of letting go of this known and comfortable life.

I don't know what I'm more scared about--traveling around in a country new to me, starting a new life in San Francisco, leaving my friends and colleagues here in DC, or stepping away from my job on the hunch that what my heart keeps telling me will work out.

And why shouldn't it work out? Right now the only obstacle standing in my path is my own doubt shadowed by my own fear. But when I think about it, the last few times I've followed this type of heart call, it set me up with this life that I'm so scared to let go of today.

I'm of ball of great excitement and great fear as I bounce between complete and unquestioning trust in my heart's song and forgetting and doubting my own faith in it.

I think that may explain why I've been putting off doing the same task for over two weeks now. There is a certain feeling that I won't ever get to do anymore tasks like it once I'm done, so it's got to be awesome and I sure as hell better enjoy myself doing it. But it's difficult to enjoy myself when the task is mixed with wistful reminders from my coworkers that tomorrow is my last day, and the thought that after tomorrow, I won't get to spend my days surrounded by their loving energy.

I'm leaving this place that my heart led me to five years ago, only so I can go down the path it's pointing me to today. I guess I didn't realize that just because my heart is leading me elsewhere it wouldn't also be leaving a part of itself here.

If you're interested in guest posting on ktmade, you can email me at ktmadeblog (at) gmail (dot) com.

Guest Post: Winter Headband from a Sweater

I'm so excited to be welcoming Kara to the blog today.  Not only does she share adorable and inexpensive projects on her site, but she's also one of the nicest folks I've met in the blogosphere.  You must go check out her blog (which she designed herself even though she's not a graphic designer!)!  Clearly a talented lady.  Today, she has a great project for upcycling a sweater, and as you know, I'm all about that.  So, without further ado, here's Kara!

Hi there! I'm Kara, author of the blog Nest Candy.  I recently became blogging friends with Katie. She was so genuine and sweet right from the beginning. When she asked me to guest post on ktmade, I was thrilled!

Nest Candy is my creative outlet. It's a place where I share my crafting projects, tips and tricks, and a little about my day-to-day life. Money Saving Mondays and Quick Tip Tuesdays are two weekly features. Here are some popular projects found at Nest Candy.
Peep Cupcakes
Handmade Greeting Cards of July
Menu Board
Today I've got a fun and frugal project for you. It is the Sweater Upcycle Series {Part 2} - The Winter Headband. Check out Part 1 here.  If you live anywhere cold (where I live it gets down to -20 F without windchill!) you're going to need one of these babies!

To get started, all you need is an old sweater. Your pieces might look a little different than mine, depending on the type of sweater, but you can just work with what you've got. For this project, we will be focusing on the bottom ribbing of the body of the sweater.

 1.  Measure around your head where the headband will be. Measure the distance on your sweater. I measured how far my sweater would stretch and subtracted a few inches to compensate.

2. Cut the section.

3. Cut a section of grosgrain ribbon and stitch it to one end of the band. This is reinforcement for a buttonhole. I just quickly hand-stitched mine. You really don't need it to be perfect.

4.  Pick out a button and sew a matching buttonhole over the ribbon reinforcement. I used a stretch/knit fabric specific buttonhole. I wasn't too concerned about my placement, but if you want to be specific, you can practice on a scrap piece of fabric first.

5.  Sew your button onto the opposite side of the band.

6. Try it on, and admire your handiwork.

If you're worried about the unfinished edge unraveling you can try to finish it in some way. I wasn't sure the best way to go about this since I don't knit. If you've got suggestions, let me know! Hope you enjoyed this upcycling tutorial. Don't forget to come say hi over at Nest Candy!

Thanks for popping over, friends.  I look forward to sharing some Smoky Mountain photos very soon! 


GUEST BLOG: Hearty Apple Muffins

Hello world! Katie asked if I’d be interested in guest blogging every once in awhile, and I am thrilled to accept her generous offer.  I’m excited to share some of the things I cook with everyone.  Who am I? Well, I’m a friend of Katie’s.  I grew up mostly vegetarian, so lentils, beans, and baked potatoes are some of my comfort foods.  I’m engaged to a meat-and-potatoes man (Mr. MP, which makes me Mrs. MP-to-be).  We love to cook together, and it ends up being a series of compromises (“Honey, aren’t we going to have a vegetable?” -- “Darling, is there going to be any protein tonight?”).  Local, seasonal produce gets me going; show Mr. MP charred cow flesh, and his heart sings.  Alas.

Yet we are BOTH absolutely crazy about Honeycrisp apples. 

They are the best apples ever.  I love the crunch when you bite into the apple and the rosy skin.  Mr. MP loves the sweetness balanced with acidity.  Ideally this apple is eaten alone, right off the core.  Pick it up, wash it off, bite in and enjoy.  It’s perfection.  They come in big, bigger, and gigantic sizes.  It’s an apple that could be your entire meal—and you wouldn’t even be upset about it.

Sometimes, though, an apple on its own won’t cut it.  Sometimes life gets in the way and you have to go to work - a place where Honeycrisp juice running down my arms and onto legal documents (or my keyboard) does not please my co-workers (or tech support) .  Enter the apple muffin.

My muffin preference generally runs toward a lighter, fluffier muffin that has a low level of sweetness.  (I’m not looking for a round piece of pound cake.  But I do enjoy an individual jalapeno-cheddar cornbread.)  I also enjoy a bit of texture in my muffin, so I frequently substitute some of the flour in a recipe with rolled oats, oatmeal being one of my favorite breakfast foods.  The grated apple adds flavor, moisture, and color (pink skin bits!) to the finished product.

In addition to Honeycrisp, this muffin is about nutmeg.  I think nutmeg has played second-fiddle to cinnamon for far too long.  I adore cinnamon—what would an oatmeal cookie be without it?—but I’m also now a huge fan of nutmeg.  It has a spicy-woodsy-floral aroma that’s more complex, and less sweet, than cinnamon.  Buying it in seed form, not pre-ground, is the best way to go.  I think I really can taste more nutmeg-ness. I also think the pattern you see in the inside of the seed while you grate it is pretty—like Katie, I’m a huge fan of pretty AND delicious.

A few tips: (1) Honeycrisp apples grate quickly, generating a TON of juice, so it’s better to grate into a bowl rather than onto a cutting board.  (2) If you want extra fluffiness, add another ½ teaspoon of baking soda.  (3) If you want more sweetness, add another ¼ cup of brown sugar.  (4) I add water to the empty muffin tins for the second batch so the crumbs left do not burn.

Many thanks to Katie for sharing her space with me- hopefully this won’t be the only time.

Mrs. MP-to-be

Honeycrisp Muffins
Adapted from Deborah Madison’s Basic Buttermilk Muffins in Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone
Makes 12-18 muffins

2 cups all purpose flour
½ cup rolled oats
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
½ cup packed dark brown sugar (or more, to taste)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/3 cups buttermilk
¼ cup butter, melted
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
1 Honeycrisp apple, grated, including skin

Preheat oven to 375 F.  Grease the muffin tins, or add liner cups.
Mix all dry ingredients (including sugar) in a large bowl.
Mix all wet ingredients in a second bowl.  Grate apple into the wet bowl.
Add the wet mix into the dry, and combine with a few swift strokes using a spatula to stir the batter up from the bottom of the bowl.  Don’t over-mix the batter—it should look uneven.
Scoop batter into muffin tins, filling each nearly to the top.

Bake in middle of oven until browned, about 20-25 minutes, depending on your oven.  Turn out muffins and serve immediately or let cool on wire rack and then store.

I store in an airtight container for up to one week on the counter.  These freeze well if very well-wrapped.