The Sunshine State

I realize it's been snowing all day. And I promise I didn't put this post together to rub salt in your cold wounds. I just wanted to let you know that I'm escaping to Florida for a couple weeks! If I could take you in my suitcase I would, but they charge for that now. Blame the airlines.

A sweet cocktail and some tropical Etsy favourites will have to do. I hope they warm your heart, if not your toes. They're certainly making me excited to get my pack on tonight!

My shop will remain open while I'm away, but orders placed after January 28th won't ship until February 11th. So if there is something you need, be sure to place your order before Wednesday morning.

Stay warm, friends!



The Dear Edna Newsletter

That's right, Dear Edna now has an email newsletter!

It's something I've been meaning to set up since I started, so I'm pretty excited it's finally happening. The first issue will be hitting inboxes by mid-February and every month (or so) after that.

It's the best way to keep updated on everything to do with Dear Edna, from new products, sales and events, to exclusive offers and sneak peaks behind the scenes. Basically, it will help us keep in touch!

If that interests you, please take a second to SIGN UP HERE.

And as an extra thank you, if you subscribe before the first issue comes out, you'll receive an exclusive coupon code to my shop! Can't argue with that.

Now here's the catch... you must promise to picture me writing each letter with blue ribbons in my hair and surrounded by roses. Do we have a deal?


Candied Orange Peel


One of the many things we fell in love with on our trip to Dubrovnik, Croatia was arancini, or candied orange peel. It's a pretty common souvenir that you kind find everywhere there. We were wary at first, imagining it would be horribly bitter, but when our sweet airbnb host offered us some she had made herself, how could we to refuse? We enjoyed nibbling on it every day throughout the rest of our stay and brought bags of it home for our family and friends.

I've wanted to try my hand at making it myself ever since and I did just that over the holidays this year. They turned out perfectly, just like we remember, and they were a cinch to make.

It's the perfect winter treat to sweeten up these bitterly cold days. For one, orange peels are super healthy, helping to fight everything from cancer to the flu. To think we normally just toss it in the trash. Sure, all that sugar may contradict the health benefits a tad, but it's not like you're going to eat it all in one go, like you may have done with the dozen cookies you baked last week (ahem). They're just sweet enough to feel like you're getting a treat but bitter enough to prevent gluttony. It's a nice breath freshener in the morning too. Plus, you're left with a bunch of pre-peeled oranges for fresh juice and smoothies! Win win win!

I followed the "thick" recipe pretty much word-for-word from the Remedial Eating blog. She had both a thick and thin version, which I found a little confusing to read through, so I've reposted it below with just the one I used.

But promise me you'll take a moment to read her post too, as it's illustrated beautifully with her own photography and stories of her mother making these every Christmas for her as a child.

I hope it becomes a tradition in our family as well!

Candied Orange Peel

6 oranges (organic, if possible)
2 1/4 cups sugar + 1-2 cups more for coating
2 1/4 cups water

Peel oranges: With a sharp paring knife, slice both ends off each orange, then score the peel, top to bottom, four or five times, just down to the fruit. The goal here is to easily remove the peel in diamonds, mostly intact. Remove each quarter/section of peel from the fruit. I candy the tops and bottoms, as well, punching out the stems, and adding the remaining "donuts". They will not be elegant, but they will be delicious, excellent for baking or solo nibbling.

Blanch Peel: Place sliced peels in a medium saucepan, fill with cold water, and set over high heat. Bring just to the boil, then drain. Repeat this twice more, starting with cold water each time. After draining a third time, use a small sharp knife or baby spoon to scrape only the thickest, mushiest bits of pith from the interior. Discard. The firm pith can remain; it will sweeten in the next step. Then, slice each diamond into long, thin strips or triangles, 1/4 - 1/2" across. If you are using the tops and bottoms, roughly chop those, as well.

Candy Peel: Combine sugar and water in the same saucepan. Stir over low heat until sugar dissolves. Add peel, and simmer uncovered, gently, until syrup thickens, stirring occasionally, around 60 minutes. You can judge doneness by sight: when the peel turns translucent, it is finished.

Finishing: Set a strainer over a small bowl, and drain finished peel, catching syrup below. (The "waste" syrup is intensely orange and aromatic, excellent mixed into sparkling water, smoothies, or likely, a favorite cocktail.) Set a wire cooling rack over a large rimmed baking sheet to catch drips, spread candied peel in a single layer on the rack, and allow to cool and dry for 1-1/2 to 2 hours. When peel is no longer wet but still tacky, pour a layer of granulated sugar (1-2 cups) onto a tray, and toss peel well in the sugar, until thoroughly coated. You can then transfer the peel to a lidded glass jar, and store in the fridge, where it will keep beautifully for months. I prefer to let it harden a little more by letting it sit out for another 1-2 days before transferring it to tupperware. But that's up to you.


My 2015 Goals & Action Plans

Photo via smallglow

This time last year, instead of a list of resolutions, I set a single word to guide me through: calm. And for the most part, I think it worked. Maybe too well.

The first half of the year was completely focused on our wedding. Planning, celebrating, and then riding the newlywed high the rest of the summer. I managed to stay relatively stress-free throughout, but in order to keep it that way, many things were put on the back burner for half the year, including Dear Edna. Let's just say, it was a slippery slope from calm to lazy. And although I kicked butt from September through December, I was left feeling like I dropped the ball.

At the same time, I certainly wasn't happy when I was Super Ambitious Girl and working 15-hour days either. I guess my ideal lies somewhere in between.

I've spent the last couple weeks over-analyzing and have come up with some definite goals and action plans for the year to help me reach that middle ground.

1. Self-care: When life gets busy, taking care of myself is the first thing to go. Which is a terrible habit to get into, not to mention completely illogical. So I'm setting some self-care goals this year: predictable things like exercising more, waking up earlier (or at least on time), and eating out less, and luxurious things like more manicures, smelly candles and hot baths. Because these are the things that make us happy and we should do more of the things that make us happy!

2. Calendar Girl: There are always more things on my to-do list than I can possibly get done and I end up spending way too much time deciding which tasks to tackle each day. As much as I hate to admit it, I need structure. So, I'm experimenting with scheduling everything in a calendar. Nothing too specific, but routine blocks of time for common tasks like email, blogging, and sewing. Not only will it help me stay on task, it also gives me a clearer picture of whether or not it's actually possible to accomplish what I want... and what the repercussions would be if I decide to lay on the couch all day watching The Good Wife.

3. Sewing Sunday: A common battle many creatives face is that when we're working on our businesses 24/7, we're bitter that we never have time to work on fun personal projects, and when we're working on personal things, we feel guilty that you're not working on your business. What if we set aside a block of time, or an entire day, when we're "allowed" to work on fun projects? No work allowed. My list of things I'd like to sew for myself is as long as my arm, so I'm prepared to devote every Sunday to testing this theory . #SewingSunday. Let's make it a thing.

Do you have any big plans or intentions for 2015? Please share in the comments below. We can cheer each other on!


My Favourite Festive Teas

It's holiday tea season! While coffee lovers are instagramming their pumpkin lattes all Autumn long, tea drinkers patiently wait, knowing our time will come... the time when our tea cups will be blessed with heavenly dashes of cinnamon and peppermint. I got a little carried away this year and somehow ended up buying seven different holiday looseleaf blends, so I thought it would be fun to share my favourites from the group. So put the kettle on, grab a cookie, and join me for Edna's Great Holiday Tea Review of 2014! Ha!

Obviously taste is completely subjective. Just because I like or dislike a tea doesn't mean that you will too. So, as you read my reviews, keep in mind that I prefer relatively strong, black teas with earthy and floral notes and not too much flavouring: think Darjeeling or Nepali. I rarely like fruity, herbal teas, but they do suprise me from time to time, as you'll see below.

In order to best compare them all, I tasted all seven teas in one caffeine-crazy session. I kept brewing consistent by using 1-1/2 teaspoons of tea per 8 ounces of water and steeping for 5 minutes each. I did notice that some teas, particularly the Tealish teas, were too strong and retested those again afterwards with only 1 teaspoon of tea.

Ok. Tea time.

I'm pretty pleased that my favourite of them all was the Christmas Candle Tea by Parkermann's Fine Tea Co., a Hamiltonian company! Cafe Oranje was kind enough to package up a bag for me, as you can see. The black tea (quite lovely on its own) is the focus in this blend, with cinnamon spice and floral notes on the subtler side. A well-balanced tea — the best of both worlds.

My next favourite was Oh Christmas Tea by Tealish. This is another black tea but with stronger holiday spices, like cinnamon, coriander and cardamom. It also has apple pieces in there which give it a cider-like nose and flavour. Funny story: this is one of the first looseleaf teas that I ever tried. Mike bought it for me about 5 years ago. I loved it at the time and was curious to see if I still would, now that I'm a regular looseleaf-tea drinker, and I'm happy to report that I do! 

Now this one surprised me. My third choice was a fruity herbal tea from David's Tea called Sleigh Ride. Like I said earlier, I normally don't go for teas without a black tea base, but I really liked this one. There is a lot going on and you can truly taste it all. Apple and cinnamon are the main flavours, but there are also notes of roasted almond, hibiscus, and tropical fruit. I'm not sure what makes it's "Christmasy", but it's still nice.

Initially, I only wanted to list my top three teas, but I couldn't not include Santa's Secret because of the adorable little candy canes! Just look at them! You can't help but smile when you see those little guys twirling around in your cup. However, cuteness aside, I thought it tasted like artificial chocolate mint flavouring, the black tea didn't stand out as anything particularly nice and there were numerous stems in the mix. Those candy canes, though!

The other two teas that I tried were the Winter Blend by Tealish and Eggnog by David's Tea. The Winter Blend was strikingly similar to Sleigh Ride, but with less complexity. I found the hibiscus and blackberry were a little overpowering and tart, and the citrus notes made it taste kind of like cold medecine. The Eggnog was completely undrinkable for me. It tasted more like hay and tabacco than anything. I immediately threw it in the trash and made a real eggnog!

So there you have it — the contents of my Christmas tea cupboard! Honestly, I would've loved to try more brands, especially local companies like Steeped Tea or Terra's Tea. But I didn't have the time, cash, or storage space. Maybe next year I'll try seven more! What are your favourites? Are there any festive teas that you love (or love to hate)? Please share in the comment below!


9 Things on My Wishlist

I'll admit, with only a week until Christmas, it's probably pretty late for wish lists and gift guides. But, at the same time, I'm super sad that I haven't posted a single Christmas-themed post this year!

I begrudgingly gave up on my beloved 12 Days of Christmas series this year because, well... it was certifiably insane. I love everything about Christmas, so I loved doing it, but it was a lot of extra work at my busiest time. With my calm "word of the year" in mind, it just made sense to ditch the self-pressure. But then I went in the complete opposite direction and wrote absolutely nothing. Oops.

I couldn't possibly leave it at that. So, now that the craft fairs are done and the online orders have slowed to a trickle, why not just cram a bunch of festive posts into the next 7 days? Haha! Are you with me? Let's start with my wish list, because I've had it half-written for weeks and because it may help give you some ideas for any hard-to-buy-for ladies still left on your list!

1. The yoga mat I've been using for over 10 years still gets the job done, but it's on its last legs. Shocker. I'm not picky about brands, although I've read good reviews about this eco Jade Harmony one — as long as my feet don't slip, I'll be happy.

2. I love my Tamar Shalem boots so much, I've been dying to get another pair. These leopard print ballet flats are super cute (and on sale). I'm also pretty smitten with the black oxfords (also on sale).

3. I've always just used a rolled up towel to press darts when sewing, but I used a proper tailor's ham at Needlework last night and I swear my darts have never looked so good. (Needlework sells them, of course.)

4. I'm been struggling with a growing obsession for washi tape lately. I've justified purchasing a few rolls for business packaging purposes, but it took some serious self-control to not buy every colour of the rainbow. Naturally, a washi tape dispenser is the next step in my addiction. This wooden one is lovely, but I'm also kind of in love with this bear-shaped one that will hold up to 8 rolls! Care to enable me?

5. Another obsession of mine is calendars. Most of the time I'm trying (and failing) to simultaneously use three at once: my google calendar, a monthly desk planner, and a pretty wall calendar. Overkill? Maybe. This large wall calendar by Rifle Paper and Co. could be an all-in-one solution to that problem — pretty and practical. But I also love this floral one and this monthly planner by She Plans. You decide for me, because I can't. (You can find the Rifle Paper and Co. calendars at Mixed Media).

6. I'm going to attempt crocheting myself mittens and a scarf in the new year, but a toque might be too advanced for me. Plus, there are so many amazing ones you can buy, like this handmade beauty by White Lodge Knitwear. I also love the new merino styles by Icebreaker, like this cute pom pom guy and this neat reversible one.

7. Johanna Masko opened my eyes to the wonderful world of starch when sewing patchwork and I've been using it faithfully ever since. I could do without the chemical stench and fussy aerosol can, though. Flatter by Soak is a starch-free smoothing spray that solves all of those issues and is kind on the environment. With about 90 farmer's wife blocks still to go, this product would make the process much more enjoyable. (Available at Needlework.)

8. I'm still trying to sew as many new garments as I can in my free time, so patterns are always a good bet as a gift for me. Last year I asked for the Grainline Archer shirt pattern. This year, I want their Alder dress. Honestly, you can't go wrong with any Grainline pattern. I love them all!

9. No Christmas list of mine would be complete without books! I've read Diana Gabaldon's entire Outlander series and I'm ravenous for the newest edition!


Show Time: Makers' Market

My final craft show of the season is this Saturday! It's the Makers' Market at Christ's Church Cathedral in Hamilton. This will be the third year I've done this show -- it's one of my favourites as both a shopper and a maker. There's always a great selection of talented artists, it's a beautiful, cosy space and when you're done at the show, you can browse the lovely shops along James Street North with a Relay coffee in hand. Now doesn't that sound like a great Saturday? Seriously, you should come!

Don't live in the area? Don't worry, you can still shop online for one more week. Yay!


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