Made By Hand: Free Range Mama

A few months ago we began seeing the cute and colorful hand painted designs of Lindsay Stewart’s Free Range Mama shop on Instagram. 

We adored the customized designs Lindsay was adding to Minnetonka booties and couldn’t wait to learn more about her Minnetonka connection and inspiration behind her Free Range Mama Etsy shop.

What’s your Minnetonka story?
I have  worn Minnetonka since Day One. My mom was familiar with the brand from growing up in Starbuck, Minnesota and throughout my childhood my mom, dad and I all wore them.

When my husband Josh and I had our first son, Maxwell, my parents gave us my first pair for him to wear. As he grew out of them, we packed them away – only to bring them back out when our second son, Magnus, was born. The fact that they’ve lasted 33+ plus years is definitely a testament to the brand.

Tell us how Free Range Mama came to be.
After Magnus grew out of my infant Minnetonka booties I sealed them into a Ziploc and placed them in the bottom drawer of the boys’ dresser. A year or so later, I was reorganizing and emptied the drawer and was so excited to see them again. They were squashed flat but as I pulled them carefully from the bag, the texture of the worn suede felt so reassuring to me.

The soles of the moccasins were worn, but showed no age. I wondered if anybody found their Minnetonkas to be such a keepsake the way I did. Folks used to wear white leather booties and would later bronze them – that’s pretty special, I thought. But I wondered if anybody would want a birthday or a name painted on these moccasins. To keep and hand down. And add names later, maybe. Sort of like a lineage of moccasin-lovers.

I did love to paint but hadn’t in years. So I took a leap and ordered three pair of Minnetonka booties and some sets of new paints. For three Saturdays, I painted. With three, simple pair of custom, hand-painted moccasins, I opened my Etsy shop. First under the name “Magnus ‘n Maxwell” – unsure what the heck one actually does with an Etsy shop.

Several months later, I sold my first pair. I was so excited I texted a friend. She had no idea I had painted some moccasins! I sent her the link to my Etsy shop and she wrote back: “I’ll take three.” And then another friend caught wind: “I’ll take three.” And from there it sort of snowballed.

What inspires your designs?
Well, the music is always on. Also, album art and poster art, 1960’s photography books, flora/fauna guides, a plane ticket.

What’s your process?  How long does it take for you to create a new custom pair?
Free Range Mama is a free-hand, hand-painted, entirely custom brand. No stencils. No tracing. No sketching beforehand.  Once I’ve ironed out what the client has in their heart and it’s production time, I can have the moccasins painted and ready to roll within a few hours.

What is your most memorable (or favorite) pair that you’ve ever painted?
I have so many. Two faves are the Spaceship and Planets pair with the navy blue capped off toes and also the Psychedelic Tie Dye Swirl “Cosmic Friend” pair. Anything with owls is requested all the time, too. Luckily, even repeating styles keeps things interesting around here since they are all one-of-a-kind. Every, single pair is unique.

Sometimes clients want something they don’t see listed and then we can collaborate on a specific design.  All Free Range Mama moccasins can be personalized with names, birthdays, quotes – even music notes. A recent pair included the actual music notes for “Everybody’s Talkin’” by Harry Nilsson. My favorite words to paint are “Be True.” “Be Brave.” Such a sendoff for the moccasins; from my silly little paint brushes, to the soles of the feet so precious in your life.

For more of Lindsay’s designs visit her Free Range Mama Etsy shop.


Minnetonka at Heartbreaker Banquet

Last week the Minnetonka team left the frozen tundra of Minneapolis and headed south to the private “Luck, Texas” ranch of Willie Nelson to attend the Heartbreaker Banquet.

In its third year, Heartbreaker Banquet is a one-day music festival held during SXSW on the outskirts of Austin.  Originally used as the backdrop to Willie’s 1986 movie “Red Headed Stranger” the private ranch is home to the bank, dance hall, chapel, jailhouse, water tower and saloon all featured in the old Western film – setting the stage for this unique event.

Elisa wearing her Minnetonka Cross Body Fringe bag

Minnetonka was stationed in front of the old bank giving festival-goers the opportunity to pose in our photo booth and enter to win a variety of Minnetonka mocs, boots and hats.

This daylong festival featured a stellar line up of Americana rock and indie-folk music on two different stages – one intimately set inside the chapel – with a diverse mix of performances by Elle King, Felice Brothers, J. Roddy Walston and the Business, Nikki Lane, Shovels & Rope, Lucius, Noah Gundersen and many, many more.

The surprise of the evening was an appearance by Willie himself thrilling the crowd with a few classic hits including “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys,” “Whiskey River,” and “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before.”

Couldn’t make it to Heartbreaker Banquet this year?  Check out the full lineup of bands on Spotify and enter to win a Minnetonka hat signed by many of this year’s Heartbreaker Banquet performers.

And be sure to check out more of the Minnetonka’s SXSW adventures on Instagram.

Caelan spotted in her Minnetonka Woodstock boots

Nikki Lane performing on stage

Laura from Roots & Feathers festival-ready in her Bandera boots

Heartbreaker Banquet Artist Lounge

A Chapel performance by Noah Gundersen

Elle King autographing our Minnetonka hat

A Minnetonka hat to win - signed by Heartbreaker Banquet artists

Heartbreaker Banquet Chapel

A surprise performance by Willie himself!

DIY Project: Beaded Fringe Mocs

A new DIY Project try this month!  Today Shio from Sweetnessaboos shows us an adorable and easy way to accessorize your Double Fringe Side Zip Boots for spring.

Check out the tutorial below on how to add beads to your favorite pair of fringe boots (or mocs!) and be sure to visit Sweetnessaboos for more fun DIY ideas.

Minnetonka Double Fringe Side Zip Boot
Turquoise seed beads
Sewing needle
Black thread

Step 1: Measure around top fringe, and double that measurement, plus some extra. Cut thread measured length. Fold thread in half so that you are doubling it up to make sure the thread is strong enough and won’t easily break. Thread your needle, then insert thread into hole on bottom of fringe, double knot it and make sure it is secure. (make sure you start at the fringe closest to the zipper then when you make your way around it meets up with the other end that sits by the zipper as well. that way you don’t thread over the zipper)

Step 2: After you tie off thread and secure it in the first hole, add your first bead, then come from back of fringe through the hole, then add another bead, and continue this until you meet back up with the beginning. Once you get to the end, double knot it and make sure its secure. (tip: try not to make it too tight while beading around or the beads won’t lay right and may appear hidden and the fringe may end up laying on top of one another)

Step 3: Grab more thread (make sure to double it up for more strength), add bead to thread, place bead under silver disc, then tuck thread under each side of disc and double knot at top. Cut off excess. I’m so glad I ended up adding this last minute detail, because it really pulled the whole look together!!

Store Spotlight: Alice’s Wonderland

Minnetonka Store Spotlight: Alice’s Wonderland 1581 Route 6 Greeley, PA 18425

Today meet owners, Jenn & PJ Karpiak, along with their family Matt, Jane and John, in our Q&A and learn more about Alice’s Wonderland of Greeley, Pennsylvania!

What’s your Minnetonka story?
We are a family owned, year-round, outdoor specialty store, that has been in business since 1941. Greeley, Pennsylvania is a seasonal resort area, but our store’s main focus is on work apparel and footwear, which has included Minnetonka since October 1982!

What is your favorite pair of Minnetonka mocs?
Currently my favorite pair are the Feather Mocs, but I also like all of the bright colors in the Boat and Kilty Mocs.

What is the most popular Minnetonka style in your store?
Currently the most popular style is the Men’s Pile Lined Hardsole Slipper, with many of the other cozy slipper styles in a close second for popularity.

How do you like to style your Minnetonka mocs or boots?
We have several areas in the store where we like to showcase various moccasin and sandal styles outfitted on our mannequins, as well as displayed in our footwear department.

What are a few must see destinations near your store?
A few of our favorite must-see destinations near Alice’s Wonderland include -
Shohola Falls Recreation area featuring beautiful waterfalls and hiking trails; and Lake Wallenpaupack which is a 13 mile long man-made lake that offers swimming, fishing, power boating and sailing!

Also near us is Promised Land State Park – perfect for hiking and camping, along with the Delaware River which has become very popular for bald eagle watching, and is also great for rafting and tubing in the summertime.

Everyday Adventure: Modern Pioneering

Meet Georgia Pellegrini, a new monthly contributor to the Minnetonka blog.  Today she shares her approach to finding adventure in every day life, along with a delicious Rose Petal Hazelnut Cake recipe from her new book “Modern Pioneering.”

Because of my Great-Aunt Gray, I have always liked to get dirt under my fingernails.  I can still picture her standing in her gardens, hunched over with shovel and trowel, her white hair puffing out from below the brim of her baseball hat, her floral skirt falling just above her oversized muddy sneakers.

She opened my eyes to what it means to be a fearless girl, the last of a generation that knew how to kill a chicken in the backyard for dinner, that wasted nothing, that made the best of what they had and never pointed out what they didn’t. Thanks to her, I learned to cook with economy and respect for simple ingredients.

For her it wasn’t about survival, it was a way of life, and she taught me to stop and smell the rosemary and to look for purslane in between the sidewalk cracks, and turn it into a tangy healthy salad. I also learned to wear a little homemade beet juice tinted lip-gloss while doing it.

There was comfort and strength to be found in the deliberate churn of Aunt Gray’s ice cream maker, which set the day’s tempo. Aunt Gray was famous for her rustic cornbread and her homemade ice cream, which she prepared with the bare minimum of sugar in order to accentuate the other flavors. She probably would have eliminated sugar from their recipes altogether if she could have gotten away with it, such was their disdain for added sweetener.

In the years since my time with Aunt Gray, I have spent countless hours in the outdoors, but I have also traveled constantly, and have lived in small urban spaces without the luxury of lush land around me. Yet I still have the desire to feel the dirt slip between my fingers, to stir ruby-colored jam in a pot and watch it grow thick.  And I have come to realize that Aunt Gray’s generation got more than a few things right and there are still ways, both large and small to “get back to the land,” even if the “land” is only a fire escape or a patio planter; even if the land is a parking strip where you are picking wild dandelion greens for a salad.

Even in my urban Austin home, I can still mark the seasons by the scents of the herbs growing on my windowsill and the rose petals blooming in the parks. Yes, Aunt Gray taught me that those pale pink rose petals that grew on her arbor were edible too, and make the most festive party presentation on a cake.

Thanks to her, I’ve realized that we can all be both modern and a pioneer if we seek out new experiences with a sense of fearlessness. Sometimes stepping outside of our comfort zone is a reminder that the lost world we seek can be within arm’s reach.

It is empowering ourselves to find adventure in new experiences and in a little self-sufficiency that is what makes us feel truly full. And sometimes it can be as simple as scattering a fistful of rose petals onto a hazelnut cake on a warm sunny afternoon.

Rose Petal Hazelnut Cake

Serves 8

This is a simple, nutty cake good for afternoon tea. Because it is flourless and not too sweet, eating it any time of day is suitable. You can of course dress it up with whipped cream or frosting if you would like.

Tip: If you whisk the whites by hand, use a large, heavy whisk for efficiency and make sure the whisk and bowl are very clean and dry so that your whites form stiff peaks.

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 40 minutes

Unsalted butter for greasing the pan
1½ cups hazelnut flour (or finely ground hazelnuts)
2 teaspoons baking powder
4 large eggs, separated
½ teaspoon almond extract
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup heavy cream
½ cup fresh organic rose petals

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. butter an 8-inch fluted tart pan with a drop bottom and set aside. You may also use a cake pan, but if you do, be sure to use a toothpick to check for doneness.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the hazelnut flour and baking powder and set aside.

3. In a large bowl, combine the egg yolks and sugar and whisk vigorously until pale yellow. Add the almond and vanilla along with the cream and whisk again until fully combined.

4. Add the dry ingredients to the yolk mixture and mix together until uniform.

5. In a large bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form.

6. With a spatula, fold a third of the egg whites into the batter, then incorporate the rest of the whites all at once.

7. When the batter is uniform, gently fold in the rose petals.

8. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Place the pan in the oven on the middle rack and bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let the cake cool for 10 minutes, then remove the cake from the pan and let it cool to room temperature.

9. Sprinkle the cake with powdered sugar, slather it with whipped cream or frosting, or leave it be, whatever you please. It will keep for about 3 days, and should be stored in an airtight container or wrapped in plastic.

Click here to enter for a chance to win a pair of Minnetonka boots and a copy of Georgia’s new book “Modern Pioneering.”

About Georgia Pellegrini:
Georgia’s taste for simple food and outdoor adventure evolved as she grew up in the Hudson Valley. She followed her passion to the French Culinary Institute and then to Gramercy Tavern, Blue Hill at Stone Barns, and La Chassagnette in France. Georgia is the author of “Food Heroes,” “Girl Hunter,” and the new book “Modern Pioneering.” She has appeared on Today, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Iron Chef, and much more, and her outdoor Adventure Getaways have been featured everywhere from the New York Times, to the Wall Street Journal, to HBO. She lives in Austin, Texas and chronicles her adventures on her wildly popular website and her Facebook fan page.