Complete Knife Skills

knifeskills If you have read my blog for any amount of time you know I have a passion for two things sewing and cooking. One skill they have in common is accuracy.  Have you noticed I rarely post pictures of my veggies cut up? Well, that’s because my knife skills are lacking! Ummm, actually lacking is probably an understatement.

Are you wondering why knife skills are important? I mean it’s all going to be eaten , right? Well,  aside form presentation the way a food is cut affects how it cooks and the length of time needed to cook. This is really important when it comes to pot pie, soups, stews and casseroles.

Since I eat a lot of soups, salads and other fruit and vegetable based dishes I often feel like my lack of cutting skills leave me at a disadvantage if for no other reason than I think my dishes don’t look as pretty as they could.
So you can imagine how excited I was when I received an e-mail from Craftsy announcing their latest FREE mini class Complete Knife Skills. Here is the class description:

” Become faster and more accurate with your knife work, and create dishes that cook evenly and look truly professional. Guided by chef Brendan McDermott, you’ll explore proper hand placement and the four fundamental cuts. Learn to dice, mince and julienne a range of produce. Find out how to chop herbs without bruising them or losing flavor, and never again cry when cutting an onion. Uncover Brendan’s favorite shortcuts for working with butternut squash, pineapple, chiles, citrus and more. Discover the four knives every chef needs in their kitchen, and finish the course with a lesson on honing and sharpening your knives at home!”

Doesn’t that sound wonderful? I signed up and am starting the course this week-end, be prepared to see a lot more food pictures on the blog in the near future!

Mystery Grab Bags

When I was little my mom and I would go to the mall together every Friday.That trip HAD to include stopping by  Claire’s to get a mystery grab bag. It was always so exciting to rip into the little brown bag and see what shiny new bobble awaited me!

That memory is what led me to put together a fun new option in the Hearts & Home shop. If you like to sew, receive packages in the mail or enjoy surprise  then you will  want to grab one of my sewing pattern mystery grab bags. I have a limited number available so don’t wait! Your purchase includes 10 random sewing patterns!
All patterns are NEW! They have never been opened, unfolded, etc. Instructions are included and patterns and their original packaging are in great condition. This is a great way to add some mystery to your sewing, add in some discontinued patterns and maybe even encourage you to try a project you may have normally shied away from.

Lil Blue Boo


In my post welcoming 2014 I mentioned that I would be working with some new companies. The first one I would like to introduce you to is lil blue boo. When I found this site via Pinterest I knew I wanted to carry her patterns and dress of the month


The patterns come as pdf’s enabling you to store them on your pc instead of taking up room in a container, you can print multiple sizes,  the pattern pages print out directly from your computer onto regular 8.5″ x 11″ paper and there are guides for attaching them together. My favorite part about purchasing patterns from lil blue boo is after you check out you will be redirected to your file download, no waiting!


The Lil Blue Boo dress of the month changes every month. The dresses all have a theme and  on the 15th of every month a new dress will be released, along with the pre-order listing for the following month. Each themed box will include a dress along with a hand picked special gift and two double sided trading cards (one for a friend!) to collect or frame.The January dress is perfect for Valentines Day and on into the spring and summer. Does the little girl in you life like dressing her doll to match? Then you will want to visit the doll dress page!


Looking back, moving forward

2014 can you believe it is already here? I know we are almost two weeks in and this post may seem late but I tend to stay in holiday mode until after my birthday on January 5th.

thankful 5

As I looked back on 2013 I was amazed by all the wonderful things that I was able to be part of. My youngest child turned 18 and started college. My older son entered into a serious relationship including a ring and my daughter started her own business.

I paid off my truck early, learned how to ride a motorcycle, bought my first motorcycle and have taken several long trips on it (well long to me). Walked away from a job that paid well but made me miserable and found out I had a heart condition. I guess some people wouldn’t put the last one on wonderful things but for me it was. Now I know why my heart races, I get dizzy and can’t do cardio. I also now know how to prevent it or at least decrease the episodes.

2013 was truly a wonderful year filled with ups and downs but most of all happiness and growth!


Now on to 2014! I am ready for an AMAZING year. I have lots of things planned in my personal life and for my business. Like I said, I walked away from my full time job and am now fully focused on Hearts & Home.

I have partnered with several companies and designers to bring you some fabulous sewing supplies and patterns, new line of home decor products and my favorite part I will be putting together some sewing and cooking videos. 2014 is going to be a fabulous year and I want to thank you in advance for sharing it with me.

To stay up to date on all that is happening be sure to like me on Facebook and follow me on Pinterest.

DIY Egg Replacer for Vegan Baking – Flax Seed ‘Eggs’

DIY egg replacer for vegan baking using flax seeds

I have been really itching to bake lately, but after my last failed attempt at baking cookies using powdered egg replacer, I have been sort of avoiding it (unless the recipe is totally egg-free in the first place, like this yummy vegan coffee cake).

I was SO excited to find a recipe for an egg replacer I could make myself in Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s The Joy of Vegan Baking that I just had to try it out! It’s so easy and I just happened to have the ingredients already on hand – flax seeds and water.

Vegan baking experts seem to all agree that it’s not a good idea to try to replace more than 3 eggs in a recipe – the results will usually be disappointing. That is possibly what my problem was using the powdered egg substitute, though I honestly don’t remember which recipe I tried or how many eggs needed replacing. I do seem to remember a funny after-taste, though.

I found a new oatmeal raisin cookie recipe that only had one egg in it, so I thought I’d give it a shot. I’ll share that recipe another time, but let me just say they turned out perfectly using this homemade flax seed egg replacer!

How to Make Flax Seed Egg Replacer

(makes 1 ‘egg’):

1 TBS ground flax seeds + 3 TBS water

It’s recommended that you grind your own flax seeds instead of buying them pre-ground* (in the form of flax seed meal). You can use a coffee grinder, or do it by hand with a mortar and pestle.

DIY egg replacer for vegan baking using flax seedsOnce your flax seeds are ground into meal, add the water and whisk until you get a gooey consistency.

You could also use a blender. Either way, be sure to clean up right away – this stuff dries hard as a rock!

You may need to let the mixture sit for a few minutes to thicken up before using it.

Store the flax seed egg replacer in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

How Much Flax Seed Egg Replacer to Use in a Recipe

3 Tablespoons = 1 egg

Remember, try to avoid replacing more than 3 eggs in any recipe for best results.


* I will admit, I used flax seed meal because I already had it, and it worked great. The reason it’s recommended that you use freshly ground whole flax seeds is because apparently in ground form, the exposure to oxygen breaks down the oils and releases free radicals much faster – in other words, it will go rancid very quickly. Good to know!

If you grind up more flax seeds than you need, you should store the flax seed meal in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer instead of the pantry.

Recommended Reading:

The Joy of Vegan Baking

Chloe’s Kitchen: 125 Easy, Delicious Recipes for Making the Food You Love the Vegan Way 

Related Posts:

Delicious Vegan Coffee Cake

Vegan Vegetable Lasagna

9 Reasons to use a Gourmet Cooking Oil Sprayer

9 great reasons to use a gourmet cooking oil sprayer instead of a store-bought cooking spray

I’m not the kind of person that has to have every fancy little kitchen gadget that comes on the market. But I do recognize when there’s something that stands to add a bit of value to my life, whether that’s in the way of saving time, money, or making it a little easier to be healthy.

That’s why I got myself a Misto Gourmet Oil Pump Sprayer, and I use it ALL the time!

The Misto is a pump sprayer with a very fine misting spray nozzle. You fill it halfway with the cooking oil of your choice*, screw the top on tightly and then use the pump lid to pressurize the chamber. Pump about 10 times or until you feel resistance, and you’re ready to spritz!

misto gourmet oil sprayer in brushed aluminum

Misto Gourmet Oil Spayer in brushed aluminum

Why use a Misto Gourmet Oil Sprayer?

1.) You can use the oil in your Misto like you would any aerosol cooking spray – to coat casserole dishes, frying pans, or cake pans before baking, sautéing, or grilling to prevent food from sticking.

2.) Spraying your cooking oil means that you can control the amount of oil you are getting to be exactly what you need, whether you’re spraying it in a pan or right on your salad.

3.) This pump spray works without chemical propellants, unlike store-bought cooking sprays, which makes using the Misto sprayer a much healthier choice as well. You know exactly what’s in your cooking oil spray, because you poured it in there yourself!

4.) The Misto is a more environmentally friendly choice – since it doesn’t use any aerosol to propel the oil, you’re not responsible for adding to the destruction of the ozone layer. Also, since it’s refillable, you’re not adding empty spray cans to the landfill every time you need more cooking spray.

5.) It helps you save money because it makes your cooking oil last so much longer. Pouring oil out of the bottle tends to give you way more than you need almost every single time, which means you’ll go through the cooking oil that much faster. Since I started using the Misto sprayer, my cooking oil lasts about ten times longer!!

6.) Using the Misto helps you be healthier too. Using less oil not only means saving pennies, it also means saving calories!

7.) Making your own cooking oil spray means you have more options than you do if you buy a can of cooking oil spray. You can use olive oil, grapeseed oil, avocado oil, walnut oil, truffle oil, etc.

8.) You can use the Misto to spray flavorful oil, lemon juice, lime juice, or vinegar on top of salads, pasta, or vegetables.

9.) Mix oil & vinegar in the Misto to spray a light homemade vinaigrette dressing!**

The Misto is available in a variety of fun colors and patterns:

Misto gourmet oil sprayer in raspberrymisto gourmet oil sprayer with damask patternmisto gourmet oil sprayer in eggplantmisto gourmet oil sprayer in orange

Tips for using the Misto Gourmet Oil Sprayer:

* I don’t recommend using coconut oil in the Misto sprayer, because coconut oil will solidify below 76˚ and it will clog up the sprayer. Similarly, DON’T keep the misto in the fridge with other oils either because you will have the same problem. Just store the Misto at room temperature in the pantry just like you would your other cooking oils or sprays.

Try mixing a flavored oil or more expensive oil (like truffle oil) with a less expensive oil like olive oil to extend it that much more.

**Don’t use any oil mixtures with food particles in them – like pepper or herbs – since they can clog up the Misto nozzle.

Clean your Misto regularly as recommended below to keep it working well and your oil tasting good.

How to clean your Misto Oil Sprayer:

Clean your Misto every 6-8 weeks. Do NOT run it through the dishwasher. Instead, discard any remaining oil and fill the bottle halfway with warm water. Add one drop of liquid diswashing soap. Replace the lid and pump 15 times, then spray for 15 seconds. Remove the lid and dump out the soapy water and rinse the inside of the bottle. Then fill it again with warm water only this time and repeat the 15 pumps and 15 second spray to clean the soap out of the nozzle. Rinse well and it’s ready to fill again!


What about you? Do you have any favorite money-saving kitchen gadgets?

Delicious Vegan Coffee Cake

Vegan coffee cake recipe - with delicious crumbled topping. Even non-vegans will enjoy this one!

A friend of mine used to bake for a small coffee shop, and she shared this coffee cake recipe with me. She said it’s the kind of vegan recipe that even non-vegans will enjoy, which usually means it tastes pretty darn good!

Sometimes it’s not easy to find vegan desserts that will satisfy a non-vegan palate, so I had to give it a try. And it’s a hit at my house, so I’m passing along the recipe. Hopefully you’ll enjoy it too!

3 cups unbleached flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
3/4 tsp nutmeg
3/4 cup organic coconut oil*, melted
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

3 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 cups soy milk
1/2 cup raisins (optional)

* Extra virgin coconut oil tends to have more of a coconutty flavor than regular coconut oil, so keep that in mind if you don’t want such a strong coconut flavor. If you don’t like coconut at all, 3/4 cup of margarine will work fine too. If you’d rather stay away from the hydrogenated fats then a great alternative to margarine is Earth Balance Buttery Spread.

Either option can be melted on the stovetop over low heat or in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time until liquid.


Preheat oven to 375˚.

Mix flour, sugar, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, coconut oil (and nuts, if desired) until all flour is incorporated. It should be crumbly, but break up any lumps larger than a dime. Set aside 1 cup of this mixture to be used for the topping.

Vegan coffee cake recipe crumbled topping

Mix the remainder of the crumbly stuff with the baking powder, soy milk, and raisins (if desired) to make the batter.

Grease a 8″ nonstick spring form cake pan, pour in the batter, and sprinkle the topping evenly over it. The mixture won’t take up much of the pan, but it will rise a little during baking.

Vegan coffee cake recipe - with delicious crumbled topping

Bake the coffee cake at 375˚ for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 20 to 30 minutes and then remove the spring form part and let it cool further until it is a temperature that is comfortable enough to eat!

Vegan coffee cake recipe - with delicious crumbled topping

Have you tried this recipe? I’d love to hear what you thought! And do you have a favorite vegan dessert that you like to bake?


More vegan recipes: 

Vegetable Lasagna

DIY Christmas Tutorial Round-Up

Christmas Tutorial round up

Growing up with a crafty mom that loved to sew meant every year we could count on something made by her for Christmas. This was a tradition that I have carried over into my children’s life. When they were little we would joke and say that Mrs. Clause had made it.
With that in mind I thought I would share a few of my favorite DIY gift tutorials. Yes, I know Christmas is getting close but lets be honest you’ll probably be working on gifts up until Christmas Eve if you’re like me.

Most of these are quick and use supplies you probably already have and are sure to be cherished throughout the year.

Bath & Beauty Products

Be sure to make enough for yourself.

DIY Lemon Butter Lip & Skin Balm in Altoids Tins

DIY Lemon Butter Lip & Skin Balm in Altoids Tins

Bath Fizzes

Body Scrubs

For The Kids

super hero cape

super hero cape

Double Sided Headband Perfect for girls or all ages

Super Hero Cape 

Stick Horse I made these for my nieces birthday party

Hanging Cradle - What child wouldn’t want to nap n one of these

Just For Him

car wash kit

Honey Do Belt

Paracord Lanyard Project - Great for the boys that are driving

Car wash Kit - I am making one of these for my husbands motorcycle.

The Crafty Friend




DIY 2-Sided Washer Pendants {Video}

Not a DIY but who wouldn’t like a Craftsy Class? 

Fur Baby

dog coat tutorial

Pet Coat Pattern

Puppy Toys

Doggie Snuggle Sack

Healthy Dog Biscuits

Homemade Cat Treats

I know there are a lot of other great tutorials out there that I haven’t included. Please use the link up below to share them with us.


Artisan Bread Making at Home

Homemade artisan bread. Learn to make your own bread with an online course from bread making expert Peter Reinhart!

One of the things I would really like to dedicate more time to is baking fresh bread for my family. I’ve got my eye on this Craftsy class: Artisan Bread Making, which is taught by award winning author Peter Reinhart.

He teaches all the basics – what he calls ‘the baking triangle’ and details the importance of time, temperature, and ingredients and how they must balance for the perfect loaf of bread. This bread making course covers 12 bread making stages, including mixing, the instructor’s ‘stretch and fold’ method, fermenting, shaping, and baking.

The bread baking guru himself teaches 6 unique dough types and how to make the perfect baguette, focaccia, ciabatta, marbled rye, sandwich rolls, as well as a few sweet dessert breads. AND we get all the recipes to download with the course materials. I have made a few basic homemade breads before, but it would be so great to be able to have all these fantastic options!

Homemade artisan bread. Learn to make your own bread with an online course from breadmaking expert Peter Reinhart!

I am putting this Bread Making class on my Christmas list, along with a couple of the instructor’s books that appear to be his most popular ones: Artisan Breads Every Day and The Bread Baker’s Apprentice.

Maybe I’ll get all three and be able to really master the art of making homemade bread! I doubt there’s a single tummy in this household that wouldn’t support me on that :)

Homemade artisan bread loaf, artisan boule. Learn to make your own bread with an online course from breadmaking expert Peter Reinhart!

If you close your eyes right now, I bet you can imagine the wonderful aroma of fresh bread baking in the oven. That mouthwatering scent filling the air – bringing children, husbands, and pets from the farthest corners of the house to linger in the kitchen until they’re allowed to indulge on the warm and crusty deliciousness of the oldest comfort food in the world.

To me, fresh baked bread is home. It’s about taking care of family, and spending time with those you love. It’s wholesome and comforting, nourishing, and delicious.

There’s just nothing quite like fresh baked bread, wouldn’t you agree?


You might also enjoy: 

Basic White Bread Recipe

Macaroni Grill Rosemary Bread

Stuffing the Stockings


My favorite holiday without a doubt is Christmas and one of my favorite things to do is plan out the stockings. My kids always know there will be a piece of fruit, a new toothbrush, and something made by me, everything else is a surprise. One year we exchanged names for stockings and that was a lot of fun but this year I am back in charge of making sure the stockings are unforgettable.

I like to keep the gift small, relatively inexpensive, fun and a mix of useful and impractical things. My youngest is 18 so hot wheels are out of the questions but gas cards are welcome though, I am sure. So, what do you put in a stocking when candy is not on their list?

Here are a few of my favorite things. These are not items I have bought yet, in case my kids are reading, just things I thought would make good gifts. I also created a Pinterest board with items not listed here. Next week I’ll share some tutorials I have found that would make great stocking stuffers!

Hand painted keychain ice cream sundae on silver keyring with beads with word sweet

 Hand painted keychain

Vintage Lace Bauble Pin in Purple and Black or Purple and White

 Vintage Lace Bauble Pin


Pink, Purple, Red, 4 oz of Hand-dyed 21 Micron Merino Roving or Combed Top, 'Lovebird', Spinning Upgrade Available

 Hand-dyed 21 Micron Merino Roving


Silver Octopus Cufflinks Popular Men's Cufflinks Vintage Inspired Silver Cufflinks By Cosmic Firefly Best Men's Accessories & GIfts For Him

Silver Octopus Cuff-links



Fresh Apple and Berries Wax Melts


Bacon Bacon Bacon Badge

Bacon Bacon Bacon Badge


Lip Balm Butter Choose Your Fragrance Vegetarian Gluten Free

Lip Balm Butter Choose Your Fragrance Vegetarian Gluten Free

Snowflake Necklace - 25mm Swarovski Crystal Snowflake (Clear Crystal) with Sterling Silver Chain

 Snowflake Necklace

These 4.25 x 6 inch folded cards feature an image of Fort Worth's "Homeless Christmas Tree" on front and the story of the noted landmark on back. They make great (and very unique) Christmas cards!

 Homeless Christmas Tree Cards

Tardis Doctor Who Inspired Book-Inz Magnetic Bookmark

 Tardis Doctor Who Inspired Book-Inz Magnetic Bookmark


Preppy Dog Collar/ Plaid Dog Collar / Christmas dog gift

Preppy Dog Collar

Do you put out stockings? If so what do you like to fill them with? Be sure to come back next Monday for a DIY Christmas special. It will include links to my favorite tutorials for gifts that will be cherished throughout the year. I will also be holding a link-up where you can share your tutorials and crafty post.