It’s beautiful, but where do I begin?

In addition to selling polish pottery on our website, we also take our pottery to Pittsburgh area craft and vendor shows throughout the fall and spring.  We are always surprised by the number of people who have not only seen polish pottery before, but have large collections of it in their homes.  Their eyes light up when they spot our tables of polish pottery and they excitedly talk to us about the pieces they already own and the pieces they still want for their collections.

But there are also many people who have never seen polish pottery before and are simply drawn to our tables because of the beautiful patterns and pieces that catch their eye as they walk past.  We always enjoy telling people what they are looking at, how we found out about it, and why we love it so much.  And it’s always very exciting for us when one of those people decides to purchase their very first piece of polish pottery from us.  Often, they will say to us, “These pieces are all so beautiful!  Where do I begin?”

Standing in front of a large display of polish pottery, or browsing the many pages of our website, can be very overwhelming for the new polish pottery collector.  There are so many beautiful pieces and patterns that it becomes difficult to make a decision about what to buy first.  So here are a few tips that might help…

1)  Pattern- There are hundreds of different patterns to choose from, each one prettier than the last.  But keep in mind that mixing and matching patterns is not only allowed, it’s encouraged!  So don’t think that the first pattern you buy is the only pattern you’ll ever own.  You can mix and match as many different patterns as you like.   Don’t over think it, just pick one that you really like and go for it.  It will mix perfectly with whatever patten you buy for your second piece.  I promise!

2) Shape – Polish Pottery is available in everything from plates to bowls, mugs to teapots, and crosses to candle holders.  One of the wonderful things about polish pottery is its versatility.  Bowls make a great first purchase, whether large or small.  Use the larger ones as serving bowls or put them in the middle of your dining room table for display.  The small ones are extremely versatile.  Use them for dips, condiments, or even as candy dishes.

Another great thing about polish pottery is its durability.  Everything is microwaveable, oven safe, and dishwasher safe.  So choose a mug for your morning coffee, knowing that you can safely reheat it multiple times in the microwave.  Or select an 8″ square baker, knowing that you can bake everything from appetizers to desserts in it.  What if you really want a piece of polish pottery but you don’t cook much or entertain people in your home very often?  Consider a soap dispenser for the bathroom.  Or select a napkin holder that will double on your desk as a mail holder.

But the very best advice I can give you is this…select the piece that makes YOU happy.  There are no rules.  There are no right or wrong answers.  Choose the piece and pattern that speaks to you the most.  And rest assured, there will be more beautiful pieces available for you to choose from when you are ready to purchase your second piece of pottery!

Polish Pottery Scalloped Edge Bowl

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Polish Pottery Gifts for $20 or less

This is our second annual Polish Pottery Holiday Gift List, featuring beautiful pieces for $20 or less.  Polish Pottery is a beautiful gift than can also fit within your budget.  Whether you’re looking for a teacher gift, office secret santa gift, or a hostess gift, these gift ideas are sure to please.  Take a look at these five gift ideas, then browse our website for many more wonderful gift ideas!

1)  Coasters –  Retail Price $6.95

Polish Pottery Coaster featuring the Blue Berries Pattern.

These coasters are a lovely gift at a bargain price.  We carry multiple patterns that mix and match nicely together.  Use them to round out a gift basket.  Or wrap a couple together with a beautiful ribbon and bow.

2.  Christmas Ornaments-Retail Price $9.95

Unikat Polish Pottery Ball Ornament featuring the Elyse pattern.

Looking for an ornament for your holiday ornament party?  Our polish pottery ornaments are one of a kind!  Giving a cookie tray to your child’s teacher or the neighbors?  Why not attach one of these ornaments to the tray of treats.

3.  Cracker Trays- Retail Price $16.95

Polish Pottery Cracker Tray featuring the Floral Peacock pattern.

Our very popular cracker trays make a fabulous gift for your favorite hostess.  A wonderful serving piece for crackers and cheese, appetizers, or even mini desserts.  And if your budget allows, pair the tray with a dipping bowl (Retail price for cracker tray and dipping bowl is $27.90).

4.  Straight Mug- Retail Price $18.95

Unikat Polish Pottery Straight Mug featuring the Violets pattern.

These beautiful Unikat mugs are great for your favorite coffee or tea drinker.  We carry many patterns, each one signed by the artists.  As with all our pottery, they are microwave and dishwasher safe too!

5.  Luminary House-Retail Price $18.95

Polish Pottery Luminary House featuring the Old Poland pattern.

What a cute gift!  These adorable luminary houses hold a tea light or votive candle.  Other patterns are also available on our website.

Holiday Gift Guide

It’s hard to believe that November is already here.  Seems like only yesterday that we were swimming in the pool and just beginning to think about back to school.  Now it’s time to start thinking about Christmas!  We’ll be featuring many great gift ideas on our blog over the upcoming weeks.  But we first wanted to mention how excited we are to be featured in the Market Mommy 2012 Holiday Gift Guide!

Market Mommy is a wonderful resource for Mom owned businesses, specifically small, online businesses.  We are thrilled to be part of the Market Mommy 2012 Holiday Gift Guide, featuring a variety of fabulous Mom owned businesses.  Click on the button below and browse through the holiday gift guide today.  Not only will you find some great and unique gift ideas, you’ll also be supporting small businesses owned by mothers, just like ours.

Apple Crumble

We’ve had some beautiful fall weather these last couple of weekends.  This past Saturday, we decided to spend the morning at a local farm.  The kids had a wonderful time seeing the goats, finding their way through the straw maze, and especially picking apples.  Perhaps we were a little overzealous in our apple picking.  When we made our way up to the cashier, she told us we had over 50 pounds of apples!  Yikes!  Now I’m on a hunt for good apple recipes so I can hopefully use up a lot of these up before they go bad.

First on my list…a delicious Apple Crumble from the pages of a cookbook from my childhood church.  I think the most complicated part of this recipe is peeling and slicing all the apples.  It’s good all by itself, but I like to make it even better by serving it warm and topped with vanilla ice cream.  Enjoy!

 

Apple Crumble

8 large apples, peeled and sliced

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup white granulated sugar

1 cup flour

1 egg

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine cinnamon and brown sugar in a bowl.

Line the sliced apples in a 9×13 baking dish that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.

Sprinkle with 1/2 of the cinnamon-brown sugar mixture.

Combine white sugar, flour, egg, salt, and baking powder.  Spread over the apple slices.

Sprinkle with remaining cinnamon-brown sugar mixture.  Pour melted butter or margarine over the top.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

 

 

Iced Pumpkin Cookies

Nothing says Fall like the smell and taste of pumpkin.  I went on allrecipes.com to find a good pumpkin dessert, and found this recipe for iced pumpkin cookies.  They sounded easy and delicious, so I thought I would give them a try.  And I’m so glad I did!  They were simple to make and oh so yummy!  Not to mention the fact that our house smelled so good all evening.

Here’s the recipe:

Cookies

2 1/2 c. flour

1 teasp. baking powder

1 teasp. baking soda

2 teasp. cinnamon

1/2 teasp. nutmeg

1/2 teasp. cloves

1/2 teasp. salt

1/2 c. butter, softened

1 1/2 c. sugar

1 c. canned pumpkin puree

1 egg

1 teasp. vanilla

Icing

2 c. confectioners sugar

3 T. milk

1 T. melted butter

1 teasp. vanilla

 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt; set aside.

In a medium bowl, cream the 1/2 c. butter and white sugar.  Add the pumpkin, egg and 1 teasp. vanilla to the butter mixture and beat until creamy. Mix in dry ingredients.

Drop onto cookie sheet using tablespoon, and flatten slightly.  Bake for 15 – 20 minutes (mine were definitely done in 15 minutes).

Cool cookies, then drizzle glaze onto cookies with a fork.  (I alternated between drizzling and spreading.  I think spreading worked better, but it depends on how much glaze you like on your cookie.)

To make glaze:  Combine all glaze ingredients together.  Add more or less milk as needed to create drizzling consistency.

 

 

 

We now return to our regularly scheduled broadcast

First, let me apologize for the time that has elapsed since my last posting.  My life became a bit busy in the months immediately following my Earth Day post.  You may recall a much earlier post on this blog where I talked about the many times my family and I have moved.  I talked about what it meant to live somewhere for more than 3 years (our record at that point).  I referenced our desire to stay put, make our house our home, and settle in.  Well, perhaps putting those ideas in writing was just too much temptation for fate.  Because after Year Four in Pittsburgh, we decided to make the move back to Maryland!  We packed up our belongings again, (along with those pictures I lovingly hung on the dining room wall), loaded a moving truck, rented a house, and started over again in our new town.  We’ve been here for about 2 months, and it’s been an adjustment for everyone.  But now that school has started and our boxes are unpacked, (well, some of them anyway), I’m finding time to resume some of my previous activities.  So be on the lookout for more recipes, more polish pottery, and new stories about our life here in Maryland.

It’s Not Easy Being Green

Earth Day is this Sunday, April 22nd.  I would like to say that I have big Green plans for that day, like planting a tree or buying a Prius.  But I don’t.  Now, don’t misunderstand me.  I am not anti-earth day, or anti-green.  I try to be green.  I have reusable bags, we have a low-flush toilet in our powder room, and I try to remember to turn off the water while I’m brushing my teeth.  But I have a confession to make…being Green doesn’t come naturally to me.  I’m trying, but it’s really hard.

Here’s a perfect example.  We live only a few blocks from my son’s school, in a school district where there are no busses.  Everyone walks to school.  Well, everyone is supposed to walk to school.  But in reality, some kids walk to school while many others are driven to school by their parents.  Sounds ridiculous right?  The school district is 1 mile total.  It doesn’t take that long to walk to school, no matter where you live.  And as I said, the distance to school from our house in only a few blocks.  I wish I could tell you that I’ve never driven him to school.  I wish I could say that we ALWAYS walk, regardless of rain, cold temperatures, or how late we are.  I guess I could say that we always walk, but then I would be lying.  Am I embarrassed by this?  Yes, I am.  Does that stop my from driving him?  No, it does not.  Because while I have the best of intentions, there are still those moments when my 4 year old daughters are still wearing the pjs, we are very close to being late, and it’s pouring down rain.  On those days, it is so much easier to toss the kids in the car and drive to the school.

The problem is that my weakness for driving has not gone unnoticed by my children, especially Daughter B.  Everyone says that she takes after her father, and she does in almost every way.  Every way, except for one.  Mark loves to walk.  He would walk for hours and miles.  He has made me walk all over every major city we’ve visited, from San Francisco in the rain to Paris in the snow.  He walks everywhere he can.  I, however, do not love walking and neither does Daughter B.  She hates to walk even more than I do…and that says something.  And so it goes that on the mornings when I do decide that we will walk to school, she is quick to complain.

“Mommy, we take car today?”

“No, we’re going to walk.”

“NOOOOO, we don’t walk.  We take car!!!!!!”  She screams at me as I drag her out the door (and she continues to scream this at me halfway down the street).

This interaction does nothing to strengthen my walking resolve.

One day, we were watching “Sid, the Science Kid” on television.  Sid was talking about taking care of the environment.  Sid and his Mom decide to walk to school because it’s good for the earth, and Sid says, “It’s better to walk than drive!”  This gives me an idea.  The next morning, as we head out the door and Daughter B asks if we are driving, I reply,

“No, remember what Sid said?  It’s better to walk than drive!”

She looks at me, smiles and says, “Oh yes Mommy, you’re right.”  And we walk all the way to school and back without one tear.  I’m feeling really proud of myself, the way parents feel when they think they’ve outsmarted their kids.   That afternoon, we are getting ready to pick up my son from school, and Daughter B says to me,

“Are we driving?”

“No, remember what Sid said?”  I ask her, thinking that this one sentence is the answer to all my prayers.

“Yes, Sid said ‘It’s better to walk, then drive.” she says proudly.  “We walked before, now we drive!”

For a moment, I’m confused.  Then I realize that we have a communication problem.

“No sweetie, Sid didn’t say walk then drive, he said, ‘it’s better to walk than drive.’ ”  I try to explain.  But she doesn’t understand the difference between these two words and bursts into tears as she realizes that we are, in fact, walking.  She cries the entire way there and I grow more and more frustrated as I try explaining the English language to her.  Thanks for nothing, Sid.

It’s not that I don’t understand that driving the car to the school is bad for the environment.  I understand that walking is better than driving.  I also understand that buying local produce is better, and using eco friendly cleaning products is better.  I understand it and I really do want to live a greener life.  But what I’ve come to realize is this:  The decision to be green does not, by itself, make you green.  There’s the decision to be green, and then there’s the commitment to being green…and those are two very different things.

And isn’t that the truth about most things in life.  I’ve decided on more than one occasion to lose 15 pounds.  But guess what?  Those 15 pounds are still here.  Because the decision alone doesn’t make those 15 pounds go away.  And until I’m actually committed to losing them, they will continue to hang around.  Deciding something is really just about intention.  I have the intention to lose 15 pounds, I have the intention to exercise more.  I also have the intention to be a better parent, the intention to procrastinate less and stop wasting time on Facebook and web surfing.  I have the intention to be green and take care of the earth.  But the intention alone, the decision alone, just doesn’t cut it.  Because all of those things take a daily commitment.  They require action, not just thought.  If I really want to exercise more (and procrastinate less and be green all at the same time), I need to get up from my desk, put on my tennis shoes, and walk to the local farmers’ market where I can buy some locally grown produce.  Just sitting here and thinking about it makes me feel good but doesn’t achieve anything.

One of my favorite movies is “Keeping the Faith,” with Edward Norton, Ben Stiller, and Jenna Elfman.  If you haven’t seen it before, stop reading this blog and go find it on Netflix or something.  About three quarters of the way through the movie, Edward Norton (who is playing a priest) is talking to another priest, Father Havel, about priesthood and marriage.  Father Havel says,

“The truth is you can never tell yourself there is only one thing you could be. If you are a priest or if you marry a woman it’s the same challenge. You cannot make a real commitment unless you accept that it’s a choice that you keep making again and again and again.”

Real commitment to anything doesn’t just happen once.  You have to recommit to it again and again by the decisions you make.  Does that mean that one poor decision means you’ve failed at your commitment?  If I drive the kids to school once in a while instead of walking, does that mean that I’ve completely failed at being green?  Not any more then eating a cookie once in a while means that I’ve failed at leading a healthy life (not that I’m claiming to lead an incredibly healthy life, but that’s a blog post for another day!).  For me, being green isn’t about one decision…it’s about the sum of all my decisions.  Every decision I make is an opportunity to be green.   Sometimes I’ll choose the green option, and sometimes I won’t.  But with every decision, every choice, I get the chance to try again.

Caramel Popcorn Recipe

I found this recipe for Caramel Popcorn in the October 2011 Real Simple magazine and had to try it out.  It was wonderful!  It was easy to make and oh so yummy!  It’s perfect for your next movie night or make it for your next party.  You won’t be disappointed.

Here are the ingredients:

The recipe says to make your popcorn on the stovetop but I cheated and used microwave popcorn.

First you make the popcorn and dump it into a bowl.  Then you mix the butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup in a sauce pan over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes.

Make sure you stir it frequently.  This is how it looks when it’s ready…

Stir in the vanilla and salt.  Then pour it over the popcorn and toss it all together.

After it’s tossed together, spread it on a baking sheet and bake it in a 300 degree oven for 30-35 minutes. (Mine was perfect in 30 minutes).  Toss the popcorn once while it’s baking.  Allow it to cool on the baking sheet.  The popcorn will crisp as it cools down.  We only left it cool for 5 minutes or so because we couldn’t resist tasting it!  Delicious!

CARAMEL POPCORN RECIPE 


(Originally found in the Real Simple magazine, October 2011)

Ingredients:

Nonstick Cooking Spray

One bag of microwave popcorn (or if you wish to make it on the stove top:  1/4 cup popcorn kernels and 3 T. canola oil)

6 Tablespoons butter, cut into pieces

1/3 cup packed light brown sugar

3 Tablespoons light corn syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions:

-Heat the oven to 300 degrees.  Spray a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.

– Pop the microwave popcorn.*  Transfer to a bowl when done popping.

– In a medium saucepan, combine the butter, brown sugar, and corn syrup.  Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture bubbles and lightens in color, 3-5 minutes.  Stir in the vanilla and salt.  Pour over the cooked popcorn and toss to coat using a rubber spatula (I used a wooden spoon).

– Spread the popcorn mixture on the baking sheet and bake, tossing once, until deep amber, 30-35 minutes.  Remove from the oven, toss, and let cool on the baking sheet.  (The popcorn will crisp as it cools).

The popcorn will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

*If making popcorn on the stovetop:  Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the popcorn kernels, cover, and cook, shaking the saucepan constantly once the kernels begin to pop, until there is a 2-3 second interval between pops, 5 to  7 minutes.

The “But What Can I Do With It?” Series ~ #4. Polish Pottery Baskets

Have you seen our adorable Polish Pottery baskets?  The Easter holiday is over, but these baskets are versatile enough to be used all year long.  Yes, that’s right…all year long!  I know what you’re thinking…”But what can I do with it all year long?”  I’m so glad you asked!

Ten Uses for Polish Pottery Baskets

1)  Set it on your dresser to hold safety pins or loose change.

2)  Perfect on your desk for paper clips.

3)  Cute holder for sugar or Splenda packets.

4)  Makes a unique gift holder!  Buy your Mom some earrings for Mother’s Day and give them to her in this basket!

5)  Great place to put all those matchbooks you collect from various venues.

6)  Put it on your daughter’s dresser to hold ponytail holders or barrettes.

7)  Pretty Potpourri holder

8)  Set it in the bathroom for your cotton bowls or Q-tips.

9)  Use it at your next party to hold toothpicks for your cheese plate.

10) Perfect as a candy dish for left M&Ms, Hershey Kisses, or even those left over Jelly Beans!

Polish Pottery Love for your Valentine

Do you love someone who loves Polish Pottery?  It’s not too late to surprise them with some polish pottery for Valentine’s Day!  Not sure which pieces to buy for them?  Here are three gift ideas your Valentine is sure to love.

1.  Small Unikat Pitcher

This lovely pitcher features one of our newest Unikat patterns called Strawberry Fields.  It stands 6″ high and has the artist’s signature on the bottom.  A wonderful gift alone, or fill it with flowers to really impress your Valentine!

2.  Tea Pot

A beautiful gift for your favorite tea drinker!  This tea pot holds approximately 4 1/2 cups.  Purchase some of your Valentine’s favorite tea bags to go with it.

3.  Square Baker

Does your Valentine love to bake?  This 8″ square baker will make the perfect gift!  Fill it with heart shaped cookies or other sweet treats to really make her day.