a spring giveaway for you!

Goodness. This weekend got away from me!

All in the good sort of way, but I really did plan to swing in here yesterday to share this with you.

For those of you who don't know my friend Kate of Stubby Pencil Studios, here's a little about her wonderful eco friendly art supply shop……

In Kate's words ::

"We know that moms, dads and grandparents are constantly on the lookout for the safest and most creative art supplies for their kids and Stubby Pencil Studio is a great place to start! 
Stubby Pencil Studio offers a wide selection of art supplies and craft materials. Our products are chosen because they are healthy for children and the environment. Our crayons are made from soy and beeswax (not petroleum), our sketchbooks are made from 100% recycled paper (not virgin trees), and our pencils are made from sustainably harvested wood and recycled newspapers (not vibrant forests). 

I started this arts and crafts supply store to bring the safest, highest quality art materials to other families. You see, when my twins were toddlers, I wanted them to enjoy arts and crafts, but I didn’t want them exposed to chemicals. I tried to buy toxic-free, quality art supplies and I really had to search. Once I found products I was confident enough to give my own kids, I realized other moms would want these safe products for their kids, too. 

At Stubby Pencil Studio we use all products before we decide to offer them in our store. My kids put each item to the test for durability and ease of use – if they love it, we think your kids will too. From our family to yours, we want kids to have the opportunity to enjoy art and be creative without the worry. High quality products, that are responsibly made, are not only healthier for children; they’re also less wasteful and help to prevent damage from harmful chemicals. We believe the choices we make matter and we care about the impact to our customers, our communities, and our environment."

a spring giveaway for you!

a spring giveaway for you!

a spring giveaway for you!

Kate & I collaborated to offer you a chance to win a really wonderful giveaway!

TWO lucky winners will receive a Gypsy Forest Handmade bag with matching pencil/crayon holder AND a $25 gift certificate to Stubby Pencil Studio!

The winner will be able to choose the art bag of their choice from the shop, colored pencils or crayons to go in their matching wrap AND a $25 gift certificate for some really wonderful spring goodies from my very favorite art supply shop!!

Leave a comment here to win. Comments will be closed on Saturday, winner announced Sunday April 6th. (just changed this to give you one more day!)

Kate has also generously offered a coupon to Gypsy Forest readers. Use the code GFSAVE15 to save 15% off your order at Stubby Pencil Studio through April 15th. Perfect for Easter basket shopping!

Good Luck everyone!




**comments are closed ~ winner be ennounced this evening!**


And the winners are::

Laura who said…

Oh my, my, my, my! Thank you for the amazing offerings!


Jess Lamson who said…

Oh! What a lovely giveaway!


I'll be in touch for shipping details ~ thank you everyone for entering!!


tomato + kale + bean soup……

tomato + kale + bean soup......

Soup usually starts something like this : I pull vegetables from the fridge. Perhaps a jar of roasted tomato sauce from the freezer. I'll likely start a pot of rice to accompany it. Maybe some irish soda bread if I have the forethought. The veggie chopping begins. It always starts with onions. Diced or sliced and sauteed. The veggies get cooked according to their time needs. Peppers, onions, and garlic first. Maybe some mushrooms. Followed by potatoes or carrots. Green beans, peas and chopped greens are added at the very end so they are just gently cooked before serving the soup. 

I don't really follow recipes anymore. I may look up a recipe to get an idea….. but it's full culinary ad-lib from there on out. A little salt and pepper. Maybe some lemon juice to add some freshness. Smoked Paprika. Cumin. Or maybe an Italian herb blend. Red pepper flakes on my own bowl when it's all finished. Smokey flavors pair well with cilantro. Parsley likes to dress up a mild soup. 

Soup is the best thing to do with leftovers. Rice, beans, chicken, roasted veggies. It's my favorite thing to feed to a crowd. I could eat some sort of soup every day and not grow tired of it. Truly.

This soup was inspired by this recipe. I wanted to use a 15 bean soup mix and make something that didn't involve chunks of ham. I'm not opposed to ham. I just wanted to try something different. You know? The result was delicious. The small beans cook faster, breaking down, and adding thickness to the soup. The tomatoes, lemon, and kale provide a fresh kick that is so appreciated in the last few weeks of winter. I know the calendar says spring, but it still feels like winter out there and we're a long way from fresh vegetables at the farmer's market here in New England.

tomato + kale + bean soup......

tomato + kale + bean soup......

Tomato + Kale + Bean soup::

1 pound dry 15 bean mix

oil for sauteing (use your favorite kind)

2 large onions, diced

8 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons smoked paprika (regular paprika is ok, but the smoked is amazing!)

2-3 teaspoons italian herb blend or all purpose herb blend (we like the ones from frontier)

1 can (28 oz.) organic whole tomatoes, roughly chopped (I do this with kitchen scissors)

1 can (28 oz.) pureed tomatoes

more water if needed*

salt & pepper to taste

2-3 TBSP lemon juice

1 large head of kale, tough stems removed, chopped into bite sized pieces 

olive oil or shredded parmesan and red pepper flakes to garnish


Soak your beans the night before.

The next day, rinse them well and simmer them in about 12 or so cups of water. You will not be rinsing these after cooking, so start with 12 cups and add more water as needed. You don't want it to be too thick, but you don't want it to be watery either. Think good soup consistency when you add more water. Once the large beans are tnder, set aside until needed. If your bean mix came with ham seasoning packets, toss them out. You didn't think I was going to tell you to eat those, right? Meat flavoring sort of freaks me out a little. Just saying.

Saute onions over medium heat until tender. (use a big soup pot, you'll be adding everything else to this one) Add garlic, italian herbs, and paprika. If it seems too dry, add a splash of water. Cook for just a minute or two to soften the garlic. 

Add canned tomatoes, (or frozen equivalent if you have some from last summer. a quart of sauce can replace the pureed tomatoes) Bring to a gentle simmer, add more water if it seems too thick. Season with salt and pepper to taste. I let mine simmer for about 20 minutes to let the flavors all meld together. Add the lemon juice, chopped kale and simmer for about 5 minutes, just until the kale is wilted. (any dark leafy green can be substituted for the kale) Serve with a splash of olive oil & red pepper flakes, or freshly grated cheese & pepper flakes.




quilt peeking……

I think there's a rule in blog land that says you are supposed to wait until you're finished with a project before you share it. If that's the case, you might not see much of what I work on around here. I'm a slow and steady crafter. If this were the tortoise and hare craft race, I'd be the tortoise. Or perhaps whatever is trailing behind him…..

That being said. I wanted to show you what I've been working on in bits and pieces. Here and there. A few stitches at a time…….


quilt peeking......

quilt peeking......


It's getting closer. Little by little.

See that smaller row near the middle? That is what I call the happy oops. It happens when you accidentally cut the pieces too short then scramble to make up the difference. And if one is already creatively celebrating an oops, a grey polka dot stripe in the center is most certainly in order. A quilt that was supposed to have five rows, now has six. And while I admittedly shrieked when I realized my mistake, I'm happy I came up with this solution. My big girl is happy I finally got the top stitched together. And I have one more surprise up my sleeve for you. It's my carrot on a stick to keep you wondering….. I wanted to make this quilt a bit longer, so I added some feathers. A row along the top. Eeek! They are beautiful. I can't wait to show you.

My girl wanted simple quilting. Perhaps because she really wants her quilt. Hey, she knows her mama. The good news is I am almost halfway done with the quilting! I cheated and ordered some handmade binding from this shop. Actually, let's not call it cheating. Let's call it being time thrifty and supporting a small business. That sounds so much better. 

So there it is. My work in progress. (for almost a year now, yes.)

What are you working on these days? 

Let's have a show & tell….. leave a link for others to visit….

Off to bed now, yawn. It's been a long day….




weekending bits and links…….

weekending bits and links.......

weekending bits and links.......

weekending bits and links.......


Ahhhhhhh………… weekending.

We ran around a bit yesterday, but today is pretty sweet.

I'm finally one tiny project away from getting caught up in the large pile of custom orders I had for the shop. Mostly thanks to sweet Ginny for sharing the pencil case we designed together for her daughter's 8th birthday. I can't tell you how busy and grateful I am to have the shop steadily humming along like it is. The shop provides the extras for us…. it made it possible for us to afford two beehives instead of one. It's a sweet deal for sure. Speaking of sweet deals….. you can use the coupon code HELLOSPRING to get 15% off your order of $40 or more in the shop through the end of the month. Keep your eye out for mini rainbow silk sets by the end of next week. Perfect little Easter basket treats! (order must subtotal $40 before shipping for the coupon to work.)

I spent a little bit of time quilting Jade's quilt this morning. Oh my. It's finally coming together. Add world's slowest quilter to world's slowest knitter. Ahem. Oh well….. all in good time I suppose.

That's really it for now. The kids are running in and out, Joe is smoking something on the BBQ, and the sewing machine is calling my name…. better finish up this last bit of weekending before the new week rolls in.

A few links for your Sunday::

Healthy Bees Healthy Hives :: Pledge to have a chemical free yard.

Running Stitch Napkins by Purl Bee

Fire Cider Trademark :: A heated topic in the herbal community.

Honeycomb Coasters

Pinning :: *  This Dress  *  This Salad  *  This Souffle  *

Lastly, if you are anywhere near Seven Stars Bakery in Rhode Island…… you should treat yourself to a chocolate almond croissant. Life changing deliciousness. Truly.



the fisherman…….. finally!

the fisherman........ finally!

the fisherman........ finally!

the fisherman........ finally!

the fisherman........ finally!

the fisherman........ finally!

the fisherman........ finally!

This has been in the works for quite sometime now. I've knitted on and off again for (eek) months. Not because of any other reason than pure busy-ness. My hat goes off to those knitters that take their knitting everywhere….. I'm just not usually one of them. My evenings have been full of kid activities, bee school, (lots) of shop sewing…… and the knitting just sat and waited for me. It's good like that you know? It just waits….

But finally….. FINALLY it's done. 

Just in time for spring weather when they shed their jackets as they run and play in the woods. I didn't even block it. I should, I know. But I was so excited to put it on that boy of mine. I am smitten. Jackie of Luna Grey Fiber Arts dyed up the soft brown just for me to match her stunning orange spice. The yellow is curry. I can tell you every time I did venture out with this sweater, I got lots of ooohing and ahhhing over that orange. It is so lovely! This bulky yarn really knits up quickly too. Thank goodness for the world's slowest knitter. Ahem~ 

You can see the pattern and yarn details here. I should have knit those sleeves longer, I made an 8 thinking it would be long enough…. it is but perhaps not into next fall like I had hoped. The only time I strayed from the pattern was to add those stripes in. And I wanted stripes on just the one sleeve. I like the way it came out. Sort of puts a modern edge on a soft chunky handknit, no?

And one last thing, that furry girl of mine up there. Sweet Maggie Blue…. she loves this boy. She loves the two little kids in general. That picture of her *so* captures her personality. Swoon…..

I'll see you tomorrow for a belated list of weekend link love….



ps ~ I'm visiting over in Meryl's space today with some thoughts on spring….. do come & say hello!


new bee*ginnings……

Pardon the pun there, but we're pretty excited around here!

Well, by we… I mean mostly Sam, Sophie and I. Yesterday a rather large delivery from Betterbee arrived at our doorstep! A good bit of everything I need to get two hives setup for the BEES arriving sometime in the next few weeks. Oh. My. It's all really happening! As we unpacked the boxes the little kids wanted to know what each tool was used for and what everything was. 


new bee*ginnings......

new bee*ginnings......

new bee*ginnings......

new bee*ginnings......

new bee*ginnings......

new bee*ginnings......

new bee*ginnings......


Funny thing about bee suits, everyone wants to try it on, even the biggest kid of them all.

I've been attending bee school for the last few weeks offered by the local Bee Association. I've met a great group of people and plan to attend the monthly meetings and workshops they offer when Bee School is finished.

I have two hives to build and paint in the next few weeks, and then it's waiting for the bees to arrive! Which is both exciting and completely nerve wracking. Sam has offered to be my assistant for the summer, the gear above is actually his. He's always been very calm and kindhearted with any sort of insect, even stinging ones, so I'm glad to have him out there with me when we coax two boxes of 10,000 bees into their new homes. (yes, that's 20,000 total!)

You know I'll have pictures to share with you for sure!

Happy first day of spring everyone!




nutmeg vanilla cashew creme……

Here it is, my recipe for cashew creme.

It was inspired by a recipe from Heather in her Whole Food Kitchen workshop. It's vegan. Creamy. Decadent. Delicious. There really isn't anything it doesn't taste amazing on. In fact I've seen a few savory versions of it that get used like nacho cheese dip with tortilla chips or spooned into burritos in lieu of sour cream. I'm trying one this week from this cookbook. (one of my favorites)

This version is delicious on fresh fruit, spooned over granola, or fruit crisp. I could probably tell you a dozen ways to eat it, but where's the fun in that? You should just make it and figure out something amazing on your own. I have one hint. Raw cacao powder + fresh raspberries + a spoon. Wow. 

You can make this in a regular blender! I made it that way for a few years before I got the new fancy one. It's not quite as smooth, but it doesn't really matter because it's still incredible……..


cashew creme......

cashew creme......

cashew creme......

cashew creme......

cashew creme......

cashew creme......

cashew creme......


*Cashew Creme*

(makes about 3 cups)


1.5 cups cashews (soaked in water overnight)

1 c almond or coconut milk*

2 TBSP coconut oil

2-4 TBSP maple syrup (by taste)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 generous dash of salt (maybe an 1/8 of a tsp or so?)

freshly grated nutmeg*


*how to*

Soak the cashew in water overnight. In warmer months, this is best done in the fridge to avoid fermenting your cashews. (I speak from experience on this one.) The next morning, drain the water from the cashews & place all ingredients into your blender. Blend until smooth and creamy. If you use less milk (1/2 c) it will be very thick, 1 cup of milk results in stirred yogurt consistency when chilled. Keeps for at least 5 days, if it lasts that long!

*Coconut milk in the carton, not can.

*Fresh nutmeg makes all the difference! I'm guessing I use about an eighth of a tsp? I started using grated fresh nutmeg after taking Heather's class & I have not looked back since. The taste is SO much more vibrant. It makes granola *amazing*, seriously. And one jar lasts you a very long time, even if you use it regularly (like me). 


chilled consistency::


cashew creme......

cashew creme......







snowflakes and weekend links……

snowflakes & weekend links......

snowflakes & weekend links......

snowflakes & weekend links......


I took these pictures earlier in the week. We had just visited the museum and had the opportunity to see actual slides from Snowflake Bentley. (one of our favorite books!) Sophie was feeding the birds and ran inside to show me the flakes…… she was so excited! I have never seen them like this before. It was a very dry+cold snowfall for sure. Aren't they beautiful?

In other news, this was a week I was glad to see the end of. Joe is home tonight from his two week class. I scrubbed and cleaned the house this morning & there will be pizza for dinner. I am *so* looking forward to an easy evening. Our friend is flying in from Louisiana this afternoon and we can't wait to spend the weekend with her. The main event planned is the first seasonal trip to our favorite ice cream shop. It might be snowy, but we don't care.

That's all I got for now. I'm beat…. and I need to make a grocery store run or we'll be eating only oatmeal and eggs for the weekend. Which doesn't actually sound all that bad……

Before I leave, some link love for you…..


Foraging & Feasting

Little Feather

Pinning : summer dreams and clementine glazed salmon

Gearing up for a hefty order from this bee supplier. (exciting stuff!)

And just for fun, a year ago this week : hanging with our peeps……

Wishing you all a very lovely bit of weekending…..




pitch perfect……

pitch perfect.....

It's taken me a lot of years to be able to look someone in the eye and say, "I'm a writer." There is this idea that one should be published and be making an income off of writing to call themselves one. This, of course, is silly. Being a writer means you write. You show up to that pen and paper (or screen and keyboard) and you fumble through words to make a thought. Again, and again. Maybe you put it out there for the world to see, or maybe you tuck it into your notebook. Either way, that showing up part makes you a writer. Truly.

Of course, at some point, it would be nice to see your work in print. To share it in ways that can reach many and perhaps even buy you a coffee, or more. Wading the waters of becoming a professional writer are a bit murky for me. I don't even know where to begin. The only thing I do know, is that most of my ideas stay in my notebook. I don't know where to start to get them out there…..

Then Elizabeth emailed me. (Okay, she emailed everyone who is subscribed to the Squam Art Workshops email list….. but those of you who have met Elizabeth know that anything she sends feels like it's written just to you.) Elizabeth announced the newest Squam Online Workshop, Pitch Perfect, taught by Christine Chitnis. I've swooned over Christine's work for a few years now, both in Taproot and her book New England Markets. Christine created Pitch Perfect as a Squam Art Workshop class in 2011 and is now offering it to you (and me) online. Hello talent and Squam magic right in your own home! If you've been looking for the how of getting your ideas out into the world, this could be your answer. It's a four week online workshop to guide you as you create a perfect pitch letter. Learning how to write a strong query letter can be valuable in so many aspects of life, so this class isn't only for people wanting to publish their written work. Writing, photography, job interviews, networking, grant proposals….. we use words to share ourselves in so many ways.

I'm really looking forward to taking this class and I wanted to share it with you, because I know that a few of you (like me) will read through the class description and say "this is it, this is what I've been looking for." Registration is open now & class begins in May. You can read more about the class here. I hope to bump into a few of you there!



{ps ~ yesterday's post was a-ma-zing. I haven't laughed so hard in a long time. I came home after bee school and read your comments….. so *SO* funny. you ladies are awesome. I love you!}