Monday, August 31, 2015

Meet Mel!

Full name: Melisa Gwen Boren.
Age: 40
Where did you grow up? Menomonie, Wisconsin
Siblings? I have three, all sisters. Julie, Cara and Kristen
How many kids do you have? I have two children, Cody age 20 and Carsten age 14

How long have you lived in the Prior Lake area? 8 years in Prior Lake and I moved to Savage August 30th!
What other jobs do you have? Just being awesome in general. Just kidding. I don't have a full time job because I have Rheumatoid Arthritis for over 20 years and that has not allowed me to keep a job long term. It is a pretty unpredictable and painful disease, and no matter how much I would like to be a full time Gypsy, it just isn't something that is realistic.
How did you start working at TVG? When I moved to Prior Lake I reconnected with my childhood friend, Gus Kirk, who was friends with Marie. Marie's shop had only been open a few months when Gus brought me in and introduced me. After that I was in TVG almost every time it opened.... during one visit I said, I love it so much I could just live in here! Marie said, wellllllll..... we want to go to the cabin, do you think you could help out while I am gone? And that's how our Gypsy Unicorn love affair began. It is now 4 years later and I am not in the shop as often, but I still fill in when they need help, behind the scenes at buyer's markets and I blog here at

What is your favorite thing about working at TVG? Just about everything. I probably enjoy the buyer's markets the most. I love finding unique clothing, accessories and home items. There is nothing like the rush of seeing customers love the things you picked out! Being in the shop less I have realized I really miss seeing the customers and being able to work with all the other gypsy girls, we have so much fun together it doesn't feel like work!

What animal best represents you? A unicorn. DUH.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why? I have always wanted to go to Spain, ever since I was in high school. I have this dream that somehow, someday I will all of a sudden be fluent in Spanish. It could happen.
What was your dream job growing up? I wanted to be a police officer.
What fad do you wish would come back? Well, as a child of the 80's most of the fads I loved have ALREADY come back! These include legwarmers, stirrup pants, big earrings, crop tops and oversize tops! But, I really wish Swatch Watches would be huge again, because I LOVE THEM!!
What fad do you wish would go away? Tassels on just about anything.
What fad do you hope NEVER comes back? Shoulder pads
What fad do you hope will NEVER go away? Skinny jeans/leggings and boots!! Just don't ever wear leggings as pants. PLEASE!
What makes you happiest? Spending time with my family.... my children, my sisters and their families and my parents.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I tend to be shy at first and don't make the best first impression.
What motivates you to succeed? Accomplishing something difficult and doing things people think I am not capable of.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Happy. A lot has changed for me lately and I am excited to live my life for myself, starting over and seeing what exciting things life has to offer! Hopefully Carsten will be in college but still living with me. Cody will be 25 and I hope he will have found a job he loves. I hope I have at least ONE exotic pet and that I am still helping out at TVG!
Favorites TV Show: Homicide Hunter: Lt Joe Kenda, this guy is cheesy narcissist and I literally want to carry him around in my pocket so he can deadpan insults at people all day. I am kind of in love with the actor that portrays him in all the recreations! Also, American Ninja Warrior, The Walking Dead, Fear the Walking Dead, any Real Housewives franchise (but mostly RHONY) Bachelor and Bachelor in Paradise!
Music: Ed Sheeran and Mat Kearney Color: Orange Food: Anything with Sweet Potatoes! I just discovered them a YEAR AGO!!! Wine: Moscato or Pinot Grigio

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Patina DIY

The other morning my son said to me, "Do you want to do a project with me?"  When my 20 year old asks to hang out with me, I say yes! no matter what it is!  So, I followed him to the kitchen where I saw these supplies:

Well, THIS should be terrifying interesting....  Cody tells me that we are going to patina some copper!  OMG.  He truly IS my son.  Or Marie's?   But he is related to one of us for sure!  

Step 1:  Gather your supplies.  
Copper item to patina
Petroleum Jelly
Ammonia in a spray bottle
Paper towel
Plastic container with lid
Gloves and Mask

Cody had a small cylinder and I used a copper pitcher from the shop.

Step 2:  Lightly sand your object.
Make sure to sand in the same direction.

Step 3:  Wash your item with soap and water.  
Avoid direct contact with your skin after this, the oils in your skin can alter the process.  We didn't have any gloves, so we just handled our items with paper towels.  Cody's item had threads, so we rubbed a generous amount of Vaseline onto the threads so that no patina developed on those areas.  You could do this to any area of your item where you don't want it to patina.

Step 4:  Fold paper towel and place it in the bottom of the container.
Spray the paper towel with enough ammonia to soak it.  Cody used a washcloth mask to breathe, because that ammonia is pretty potent!  It's probably better to have a mask and gloves available.  Do as we say, not as we do!

Step 5:  Place your object inside a plastic container.
Use a container large enough to hold the item with the lid on, this speeds up the process and prevents you from having to spray it so often.  If you don't have a container large enough, you can place it inside a container without a lid or use plastic wrap to seal it.  We suspended Cody's item with some string and tape, so that it would have an even pattern.

Step 6:  Spray your item with ammonia solution.

Step 7:  Sprinkle salt evenly over your object.  

Step 8:  Place lid on your container and let the item sit for 5-24 hours.  

Step 9:  Check your item every 2-4 hours.  
If it starts to dry out spray with more ammonia again.  You will need to spray it less often if it is in a covered container.  It will start to turn really green, don't panic!  This is good!

Step 10:  Let your item dry out.
Cody's cylinder was in the ammonia soultion for almost 24 hours, we purposely left my item in for 8 hours because I am impatient so you could see how much different the result would be.

 Step 11:  Lightly brush the salt off of your item.

 Step 12:  Seal your item.  
Cody used masking tape to seal the ends of his item.

We used a quick drying sealant, we applied three coats with a one minute dry time in between each coat.  Then we let it sit for an hour until it was completely dry.

 And here are our finished projects!

Cody's cylinder has so much more color, so I guess it is better to not be so impatient let it sit longer in the solution!  This was a super fun and easy project, as long as you don't inhale too much ammonia and almost pass out, not that I did this.  Ok, I did.  But, I am pretty confident that you will be much more careful when you attempt your project!

Let us know in the comments if you have tried this and have any tips and tricks to share!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Cooking with Marie & Mel - Zucchini Bread

It's that time of year again, when co-workers, friends, neighbors and sometimes even strangers give you gifts from their gardens!  If you are anything like Marie, you know you want a large zucchini to turn into a yummy loaf of carbs, but you don't know how to get there.  Well, welcome to cooking with Marie and Mel!

Last week Lee brought Marie two gargantuan zucchinis, so she texted me and a plan was hatched.  We poured some wine and got down to business.

We started out as we typically do, with Marie reading the recipe 76 times.

We were baking at my house this time, so it took Marie a little bit to get the lay of the land.

I left her alone to figure most of it out because I was already a glass of wine ahead of her and American Ninja Warrior was on TV.

First she mixed together all of the dry ingredients.

Next she had to gather the rest of the ingredients and beat them together.  

I left my cat Bus Stop to supervise.


He didn't do a very good job because he let Marie use a teeny tiny bowl and then we ended up transferring it all to a bigger bowl.  Can't trust that cat to do anything.  

Meanwhile, I shredded up the zucchini.  

Marie smelled all the ingredients.  This is an important part of her process.  

Next Marie beat together the eggs oil and sugar until they were light and fluffy, then added the dry ingredients.

Then it was time to fold in the chocolate chips.  

You should always test them first, to make sure they are edible.

We lined two loaf pans with parchment paper and sprayed them with cooking spray.

Then Marie evenly divided the batter between the two pans.

Making sure she didn't waste any of the batter.

Marie placed them in the oven where they baked for the next 50-60 minutes.

Then we relaxed and hydrated while our bread baked.

We watched Bus Stop try to drag Marie's shoes to his water bowl.

Before we knew it the bread was done!  We cooled it on a wire rack for about 10 minutes.

Then we enjoyed it with some butter and another glass of wine!

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread

Yield: 2 loaves

Prep Time: 15 min

Cook Time: 50 min


3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 large eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups grated zucchini
1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips


Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line two 9x5-inch loaf pans with parchment paper then grease the parchment paper with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg.
In a separate large bowl, whisk together the eggs, vegetable oil, sugar and vanilla extract until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients just until combined. (The batter will be very thick.) Fold in the grated zucchini and chocolate chips.
Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared pans and bake for 45 to 50 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Remove the loaves from the oven and allow them to cool for 20 minutes in the pans then transfer them a cooling rack to cool completely. Slice and serve.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Upcycled Branches and Twigs by Mel

This past winter I saw a picture of Branch Weaving on Pinterest and I immediately thought it would be a perfect present for Marie's birthday.  My first attempts were a lot of trial, error and frustration!  It took me a couple branches before I weaved something worthy of a birthday present and Marie loved it!  Since then I have been meaning to weave some branches to sell in the shop and this past weekend was the perfect opportunity.  I spent the weekend at my sister's house in Wisconsin, her house is surrounded by peaceful beautiful woods.  It was like going to the outlet mall of sticks!

Step #1:  Find branches.
My dog Moose and I set out on our branch hunt and within minutes we found more sticks than I knew what to do with!  You can choose any size branch you want, the smaller the branch the easier the project.  Try to pick sticks with a wider "v" shape, the more narrow the stick, the less colors of yarn you will be able to use.

Step #2:  Avoid evil plants.
Moose and I learned a very important lesson.  Watch out for plants that look like this:

Because if you don't, your dog will look like this and you will waste valuable weaving time picking evil stickers out of his fur and off of your clothes!

After this Moose was banned from stick hunting....

Step #3:  Gather your additional supplies.  

You will need:

  • Yarn in various colors and sizes
  • Scissors
  • Fork
  • Large plastic needle
  • Small crochet hook

Step #4:  Tie your yarn to the bottom inside of the "v" part of your branch.

Step #5:  Twist the yarn around each branch twice.
You want to make sure to not twist the yarn TOO TIGHT or it will be difficult to weave your yarn close to the stick.

Step #6:  Tie off the yarn at the top of the stick.
I liked to wind a little excess yarn at the end, just in case you need to adjust the tightness of the yarn at any point.

Step #7:  Begin weaving!
You can pick any pattern you like, a simple over and under each row, or over two and under two.  I experimented with some using the same pattern the entire time and some I used a different pattern for each color.  Leave a tail of yarn at the beginning and end of each row, I left mine about 3-4 inches long.

Step #8:  Use your fork!
You can use the fork to move your rows of yarn close to the sides of your branch.  You can either start at one side of the stick and weave all the way to the other side, or if you want to make a "v" pattern you will weave equal amounts of each color yarn on both sides of the stick before moving on to the next color.

Step #9:  Weave in the ends.
You can do this as you work or leave it until the very end.  You will use your crochet hook to pull the ends in and out of your weaving.  The tighter your weave, the easier it will be to hide these ends.  Once they feel secure, just cut off the ends.  I usually only weaved in half of the tail that I had left hanging.

 Step #10:  Display your branch weaving!
You are done!  Congratulations!

Larger sticks can be displayed by simply standing them upright.

Or you might choose to tie on some cording and hang your branch weaving from the wall!

 I taught my niece to branch weave this weekend and she swore and sighed loudly A LOT said it takes of patience!  She ended up taking parts of her weaving out and doing it over several times, and I did too when I first started, so don't give up!

Once you get the hang of it, you will be addicted!

All of the branch weavings pictured are now for sale at The Vintage Gypsy!