Top Tips for Cooking Light (Even during the Holidays)

Contributor post by Amy of BeadsAndThreadsbyAmy

The Holidays are all about indulgence, opulence, and spending time with the ones you love.  Our Team has come together to offer you suggestions for shaving off a few calories so that indulgence doesn’t go all to our hips!

1) Tisha from quiltytherapy says

 In an effort to get more fiber and heart healthy fats into our diet we almost always have avocado on Taco Tuesdays. We sub out the sour cream and cheese and use avocado to provide that creamy texture. We don’t miss the salt and excess fat.  Make sure to have napkins handy on Taco Tuesday, it can get really messy.
Napkins for Taco Night!

Napkins for Taco Night!

2) Angie from SucculentBathAndBody says

 Each year we have a large garden, and that alone inspires healthier eating with fresh veggies grown in our own soil, not over-farmed land depleted of minerals. It starts in the spring with homegrown lettuce for salads, and continues into late summer with tomatoes and peppers. I love to combine a 15 oz. can of chickpeas with fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and a little onion for a quick salad that is low in calories and high in protein, vitamins and minerals. Simply dress the salad with 4 tablespoons olive oil, 3 tablespoons of lemon juice, 4 teaspoons white wine vinegar and salt & pepper to taste. And, if you like to garden (or just know that fall yard and garden clean-up are coming up soon), you’ll need Succulent Bath & Body’s “Johna’s Garden” gardener’s soap, made with organic essential oils, activated charcoal for extra cleaning power, and magnesium-rich Epsom salts for scrubbing.
Great idea for gardeners!

Great idea for gardeners!

3) Sandra crochet from Ankleknits says

 I was born in Europe. And when I was a child we had our own fruit and vegetable garden, so my mom always used fresh produce from garden all year long. And now I have 3 children and I am growing my own vegetables and strawberries so my kids would know how they grow and tastes. We often drink peppermint tea from our little garden and I always use coasters under the tea cups.
Coasters under healthy tea is a great idea for those cold winter evenings!

Coasters under healthy tea is a great idea for those cold winter evenings!

4) Elizabeth Wellburn from ElizabethLovesGlass says
A “build it yourself” salad is always fun and healthy at family gatherings. A big bowl of greens, then smaller dishes of sliced tomatoes, green peppers, cucumbers, etc. so guests can choose what they want. We tend to keep the dressings simple – often just a pair of shaker bottles for oil and balsamic vinegar. Goes with almost any meal!These crystal serving utensils could be a great part of such a mini salad bar.
Salad Bars are a great idea for holiday gatherings!

Salad Bars are a great idea for holiday gatherings!

5) Angie Fitzpatrick from CraftyMom75 says

 WE love pureeing and “hiding” veggies in our meals so our little guys will eat their veggies. For example, pumpkin puree blends magically into spaghetti sauce and no one knows it! Plus, always have a great helper to keep you on your toes!
Nothing says cooking like potholders!

Nothing says cooking like potholders!

6) Kelly from ColourscapeStudios says

Growing my own herbs and veg has become one of the smartest things I decided to do. I have pots full of goodness, ranging from basil to strawberries, red onions to thyme! Our two year old thinks it’s awesome that we can go into the backyard and pick our food, and it’s really made her more interested in eating more, so it’s a win/win!
Great gift for the chef with everything!

Great gift for the chef with everything!

7) Megha Silvano from byTheArtBug says

Instead of buying ready-made Jams from the store why not make your own!

This way you can control and know the ingredients that go in. Here is a simple 3 ingredient home-made Strawberry Jam Recipe.
1 Cup chopped Strawberries.
3/4 Cup Sugar.(or you can add more if needed)
1 Tsp Lemon Juice.
*both sugar and lemon juice act as natural preservatives.

Mix everything together and cook in a non stick pan till the mixture thickens and leaves the edges of the pan.
Cool and Store in an airtight glass container and refrigerate.
It would be good for 2-3 months. (Unless you like eating spoonfuls like me)

Warm jam and biscuits on Christmas morning sounds just lovely!

Warm jam and biscuits on Christmas morning sounds just lovely!

8) Amy Spock from BeadsandThreadsbyAmy says

I love substituting oil or butter in cookie recipes with applesauce. My husband loves my applesauce raisin oatmeal cookies made this way. It takes some playing around with the amount, but it is well worth the effort! Any time I bake, I love my apron! Saves me laundry and stains on my clothes, and wearing it always reminds me of my grandmother.

Aprons are great holiday gifts for the health-conscious chef.

Aprons are great holiday gifts for the health-conscious chef.

#CIJParty – Making A Handmade Christmas Ornament

Contributor post by Michelle of EviesToolEmporium

Good morning! Thank you for joining us for the third class today. Tisha from quiltytherapy – has been quilting for over 10 years and it is her passion. She loves to create designs and original works! Tisha shares with us how to make a handmade Christmas ornament.

  • Introduction
    Creating a handmade Christmas ornament can be a nice gift or something to do with the kid’s for the holidays.  Once completed the ornament looks like a Christmas tree.  This project will take less than 30 minutes to complete.
  • Materials Used
    Thread spool (I used vintage ones in my stash)
    Fabric scraps (6″ squares make a good size to go on the thread spool)
    4″ ribbon
    Sewing machine (can be hand sewn too)
    Stuffing (poly stuffing or excess batting)
    Pencil or disappearing ink pen
    Hot glue
  • Tutorial Directions
    Select the spools of thread you want to use and coordinate with fabric squares.?????????????????????????????
  • Tutorial Directions
    Fold the square in half with right sides facing each other.?????????????????????????????
  • Tutorial Directions
    Draw the shape you want.  I chose a U shape.  When marking on fabric I use a disappearing ink pen to mark my lines.  You could use a regular marker as well since you will be leaving a seam allowance and turning the U inside out.?????????????????????????????
  • Tutorial Directions
    At the pin there is a 4″ ribbon loop inserted to hang the ornament.  If making a table top item, the ribbon isn’t necessary.?????????????????????????????
  • Tutorial Directions
    Sew the line you drew and cut a 1/4″ seam allowance outside of the line.?????????????????????????????
  • Tutorial Directions
    Turn the U inside out.  Use scrap batting to stuff U to fill it out.
  • ?????????????????????????????
  • Tutorial Directions
    Once the U is as full as you like, gather the fabric at the open end.  I folded mine in like a present.?????????????????????????????
  • Tutorial Directions
    Add a dab of hot glue to hold the fabric together.  Once dry add another dab of hot glue and adhere the thread spool over the closure.  Press hard to help it adhere.?????????????????????????????
  • Tutorial Directions
    Hold for a minute or two and there you go.  Hanging Christmas tree inspired Christmas ornaments.
  • Conclusion
    Note:  There are tutorials out there to make this more of light bulb look.  However I tried it and it didn’t look right.  So I flipped the hanging part over and the trees were much better.?????????????????????????????
  • Share Your Social Media Sites
    twitter:  @quiltytherapyfacebook:  quiltytherapyinstagram:  @quiltytherapy


Thanks for stopping by for Tisha’s handmade Christmas ornament class! Be sure to check out our full class schedule for today’s Craft Party on our main party post.

Using Social Media to Drive Business – Facebook Pages

Hello everyone, it’s Jen from Caffeinated Papercuts! I’m back to kick off a new mini-series here on the CIJ blog; Using Social Media to Drive Business. We all know as shop owners that we’re supposed to be using everything possible to keep our customers engaged and, hopefully, generate new ones. But how? What works? What doesn’t work? Those are the questions we’re going to be answering one social media outlet at a time!


Today we’re starting with one of the most popular sites out there – Facebook. Most if not all of us have gone through the motions to set up a business page, keep our content fresh, engaging, and not too spammy, but it is anything but easy. I reached out to my fellow CIJ teammates to see what has and hasn’t worked for them.

Tisha from QuiltyTherapy has found that she’s had a few sales by using Facebook as a promotional tool. “Photos or a link really engage people versus just an wordy update.”  So true, yet how many of us actually stop to think about it before posting? When we’re scrolling through our news feeds, do we take a moment to look at the pretty pictures more or do we stop to read the missive of an updated someone posted? Let’s face it, we like the funny cat pictures, so one of our favorite shops posting a photo of new earrings vs. typing all about what they did today is going to attract our attention more…and maybe we’ll just click through and buy them!

Turns out Tisha uses Facebook the same way I do; “Once I have a custom item sale it’s great to be able to show others what I’m creating for someone see their excitement along the way. I also like to do sneak peeks of new items, giving my followers first chance to buy an item before I list it. “ Who doesn’t love sneak peeks?? Photo teasers of what’s coming are fabulous and make the reader want to come back for more. Get your customer’s imagination going with those custom order shots; someone may not know you could order that in purple instead of green just by asking!

Amy from BeadsandThreadsbyAmy brought up what we all feel like at times: “I feel like I am not using Facebook to its full potential. I post new items as they become available, share treasuries that I make or am featured in, blogs I find interesting, and a few household tips. I try not to flood my followers with just “new items”. The most successful posts I have made are for the two giveaways I have done on my website.
I do have several followers (I am up to 136 likes as of today), and several of my posts have made their way around Facebook with likes and shares, and I do have a steady stream of views from Facebook to my Etsy shop. I do enjoy clicking on the “Share with Facebook” link when I am featured in a particularly lovely treasury or list a lovely new item. I have had the best success with Facebook for local sales. Friends and family have been huge supporters of my small business.”

Never forget your local customers! Going to be in a craft show? Create an event then post it to your page; how else will people know to come looking for you? I’m also jealous of her success with giveaways, mine have never gone well (hmm, future blog topic?). Sharing treasuries, blog posts that are not your own, and tips ‘n tricks are wonderful ways to diversify your posts as well. After all, it gets boring fast if all  you ever post are pictures of what you’re trying to sell; let your customers learn more about YOU as well!

I typically post a mix of products, blog posts (both my own and others), sneak peeks and funny cat pictures. What, everyone loves funny cat pictures! To help me schedule everything, I’ve actually started using an app called StoreWoot – you just schedule your material for the week and it does the rest. That way I’m only sitting down once a week to plan my posts, not trying to find time every day to do so. More time for creating!

As for what hasn’t work, both Tisha and I have tried the Facebook ads to no avail. Tisha explains she did get some new ‘likes’ from it, but they are not a truly engaged audience.

So what has and hasn’t worked for YOU on Facebook? I’d love to hear all about your experiences in the comments! Thanks for stopping by today, and happy crafting!