Jams

Its been a while. The world got crazy. But here I am again with a few good recipes made with apples, rose hips and grapes after a few frosts that lead to some pretty amazing Apple Butter and Grape Jam.

The secret here is that every jam follows a basic recipe of a few pounds of fruit, a package of pectin to give it the right texture, and a few cups of sugar to make sure it’s sweet. It all gets boiled down together into a delicious, sticky mess.

Lucky for me and my friends, apples, rose hips and citrus all have pectin naturally, and if you use enough, you can forego the store bought pectin. Even better, after the first frost (or the first few) all that freezing and thawing creates more sugar in the fruit, which means less refined sugar needed when you boil it all down.

The first recipe is more of a process for making grape jam than a recipe and it is specific to grapes that can be picked off the vine late, store bought will require more sugar.

Rose Hip & Grape Jam

Unfortunately, we did not take a ton of good photos of the process so you will have to rely on my descriptive writing skills to follow along 😉

Rose hips are a great source of pectin and the flavor is actually really nice, but they are a PAIN IN THE ASS to work with. The seeds are tiny and spiky, they fill the whole center of the rose hip and getting them out can lead to the total destruction of the tiny bit of fruit you are after.  These were free to us as we have a serious wild rose bush problem and were able to pick two pounds in an hour, but honestly, I am not sure they are worth the effort.

We washed all the grapes and removed the larger stems before pressing the grapes to get out all the delicious juice. After pressing we saved about two gallon ziplocks worth of pulp, not quite the whole two pounds.

Next we boiled the juice, pulp and a cup of rose hips (seeds removed) in a big pot with only 1/2c of added sugar. The real hard part was constantly stirring so that it wouldn’t burn (ok, we may have let it burn a little, oops). We did this for over an hour until a dollop on a frozen plate kept it shape. 

As someone who does not usually love grape jelly – this may be my new favorite.

Now apple butter. Also one of the easiest things ever. Again, this process is specific to apples that can be picked after the first frost or two, as store bought require more sugar which creates a different flavor, not bad just different.

apple butterWe boiled down as many apples as we could fit in our biggest pot with 3/4c apple cider vinegar. We did not add any sugar or pectin to this because late season apples have it all.

Luckily you do not have to sit and stir this, the apples will create plenty of juice to keep them rolling for an hour as they break down.

Once they are mash-able go to town (I used a potato masher) and then pressed the mash through a fine metal sieve (use whatever you might have in your kitchen, get creative! No need to buy a sieve) to get out all the seeds and weird bits that don’t break down.

Finally we boiled it all down again, this time stirring constantly for up to an hour until it passes the frozen plate test.

voila, delicioso!

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S’moregasm brownies

This was not actually my idea, but rather a glamping (glamorous camping) kitchen mash-up miracle created by the one and only Caitlin McKenna!

All you need is butter, brownie mix, vanilla, graham crackers and marshmallows. 

brownie prep

You could get a pre-made graham cracker crust but who wants to pass up the opportunity to break out the culinary hammer and a ziplock.  Drizzle melted butter over the crumbs while mixing (4-8tbs) and then press into the bottom of a greased 9×9″ brownie pan.

In the meantime, make your box brownies as instructed (Caitlin adds some extra magic in the form of a dash of vanilla) and pour the brownies into the crust.

smore pie

Then, grab your mallows and push into the brownie mix leaving the top quarter or so exposed.  We used the really big mallows and it worked really well but I imagine minis would be delicious as well.
cooked smoresWe baked at 8000ft of elevation so you may have to experiment, but we baked according to box brownie instructions and removed them a little early using the darkness of the mallows as a guide.  

They came out gooey and the mallows had melted into the brownie batter – sinfully delicious s’more variation. Enjoy!

And thank you to Caitlin again for the post!

Window Wallpaper

finished windows

I live on a busy downtown street with a busy alley running by my back door so I invested in pretty curtains early on.  However, I am sick of not being able to open the curtains without curious walkers by staring into my house – especially because I often forget to close the curtains until AFTER I get out of the shower.

The previous tenants had used diamond pattern frosted shelf lining on one of the windows in the kitchen.  It is only $8 a roll for sizable chunk but it looks old, has a sticky back which make removal an involved process and the tiny grooves make cleaning it a bit more difficult.

After a Pinterest search and a horrendous home depot experience I pulled my head out of my ass and zoomed over to McGuckin’s, my local hardware/we have everything store and discovered Etch Arts Wallpaper for windows! This will run you quite a bit more than the shelf lining, $20-$45 depending on how wide you need, but it is worth every penny.  Goes on with water, no adhesive, so while its wet you can easily move your pieces into place, no worries about bubbles or wasting sheets. 

This project ended up being SUPER easy – even those who consider themselves to have no crafting or artistic abilities should go for it!

I tried two different techniques for my windows, a stencil approach and a geometric shapes approach.

The stencils were really easy. I set my computer screen as bright as possible and was able to see right through and trace with pencil. I traced the utensils out on the paper side so there wouldn’t be any marks on the film, but then I didn’t want my words to be backwards so I traced those onto the film side.  After cutting the pieces out with an exact-o knife, the pencil erased right off with no marks so you can go either way. 

cut outs

What is awesome about this, is that anything you cut out can be used on other windows, as a computer or mirror decal – What?! AWESOME!

negatives

The geometric ones I went with because I wanted to see how far I could stretch the smaller sheets (ie spend as little money as possible) – the results were less privacy than the stencil technique, but work really well in the living room where we don’t need as much privacy.

I used my clear quilting ruler again and made a ton of pieces out of the scraps.

cut-outsThis is where it was really helpful to get the window really wet before placing the pieces. If there was plenty of water on the window I could easily slide the small pieces into place and play with how they fit in the frame.

triangles

The end result was better than expected!

Geometric

Radish Refrigerator Pickles

Radishes are so delicious especially in the summer and they flood the farmers market just begging to be saved for the winter.  The more pickles I make the more I value vegetables that don’t require too much pre-prep and have a brine that doubles as a salad dressing – these definitely fit the mold.

radish boiling

This is based off a Pinterest find that I tweaked after finding there was not quite enough liquid and to add a bit more spice to make the brine more flavorful as a salad dressing.

I grabbed 3 large bunches of radishes from the farmers market – cut the greens off and save for radish green pesto 

Cut radishes in quarters (halves if they are small) and mix with the salt in a large bowl and cover with ice. Set aside.

In a medium size pot bring the rest of the ingredients to a boil.

Rinse off radishes and add to liquid. Bring back to a boil and then remove from heat and add to jars.

You can sterilize and process the cans or throw them into the fridge – your choice.

So beautiful, so delicious!

radishes done

Ingredients:

3 radish bunches

1/4 c salt

2 c  Apple Cider Vinegar

3/4 c sugar

1.5 tsp Coriander Seeds Whole

1tsp Peppercorns

Bookworm A-Z

The crafts have been taking over, and I only have so much time before school books take over my brain again, so I have been re-focusing my would be craft energy into reading.  This change in focus caused me to peruse a different set of blogs than usual and I found myself looking for reading suggestions in other bloggers reviews and A-Z Book Surveys.  As much as I like to think I could write book reviews I thought better of it and followed the survey instead.

I hope it helps you find reading inspiration – Now hit the books!

Author you’ve read the most books from:

I have read an equal number of books by Terry Goodkind and Charlaine Harris – 12 in each series. However, Terry Goodkind is done with the Sword of Truth Series while Charlaine Harris continues to write Sookie Stackhouse novels.  I have also read a few Terry Pratchett books so who knows, Discworld could take the book count soon.

 SwordOfTruthSeries

Best Sequel Ever:

“Speaker for the Dead” Sequel to “Ender’s Game” by Orson Scott Card.

 speakerforthedead

Currently Reading:

“Milagro Beanfield War” and loving it.

 Milagro Beanfield War

Drink of Choice While Reading:

Coffee on Sunday mornings, tea in the winter, wine in the summer and water when I’m on the farm.

E-reader or Physical Book?

I’m definitely a physical book girl, even when it means a heavy bag while backpacking or traveling.

Fictional Character You Probably Would Have Actually Dated In High School:

In high school? Man. I was into brooding and athletic in high school (who am I kidding, that’s my type in adulthood too) – Tomas from “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” Maybe or Oliver Wood, and Cedric Diggory from HP.

 Tomas

Glad You Gave This Book A Chance:

“Enders Game” – It taught me that I am a fantasy novel geek.

Enders Game

Hidden Gem Book:

“ Lamb” Christopher Moore

 lamb

Important Moment in your Reading Life:

Junior year of high school, IB English Lit Reading List. Isabel Allende and Toni Morrison. Opened my eyes.

 the-house-of-the-spirits

Just Finished:

Grad school makes me boring – “Getting to Yes” by Fisher and Ury for the third time.

Kinds of Books You Won’t Read:

I’ll read anything, but erotica generally bores me as do technical books.

Longest Book You’ve Read:

No clue. “Pillars of the Earth” by Ken Follett was close to 1000 pages though, printed on an 8”x5” binding…

Pillars of the Earth

Major book hangover because of:

Wally Lamb’s “She’s Come Undone” and “Glamorama” by Brett Easton Ellis. Both were intense.

 Glamorama

Number of Bookcases You Own:

2.  I have overflow from my 6’x5’ bookshelf though, even after going two deep on a few rows, and the second one is full as well.

One Book You Have Read Multiple Times:

I have read all the HP books multiple times and will continue to pick them up again and again.  I deliberately pick up “To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee periodically as well as a few other favorites.

 to-kill-a-mockingbird

Preferred Place To Read:

On the grass, in the sun or on the couch under a blanket.

Quote that inspires you/gives you all the feels from a book you’ve read:

“Anyone whose goal is ‘something higher’ must expect someday to suffer vertigo. What is vertigo? Fear of falling? No, Vertigo is something other than fear of falling. It is the voice of the emptiness below us which tempts and lures us, it is the desire to fall, against which, terrified, we defend ourselves.”
― Milan KunderaThe Unbearable Lightness of Being

Reading Regret:

Not getting into fantasy novels until after college. I could have enjoyed myself so much more!

Series You Started And Need To Finish (all books are out in series):

Does Discworld count as a series? I read about five of those and would like to read more.

Three of your All-Time Favorite Books:

“Half Blood Prince” by J.K. Rowling. “To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee. “The Red Tent” by Anita Diamont.

 The Red Tent

Unapologetic Fangirl For:

Harry Potter. Always.

 HP Always

Very Excited For This Release More Than All The Others:

Right now there are no books I am waiting on however “Ender’s Game” is FINALLY a movie!

 

Worst Bookish Habit:

The world becomes dead to me. I get totally engrossed and ignore anything and anyone around me until I’m done.

X Marks The Spot: Start at the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book:

“Cadillac Dessert” – Started it, but things got in the way. It is high on the list for next reads though!

Cadillac Desert

Your latest book purchase:

“American Gods” by Neil Gaiman.

 American Gods

ZZZ-snatcher book (last book that kept you up WAY late):

Every time I read “Deathly Hallows.”

Deathly Hallows

Mixer Cozy

My kitchen aid lives on the counter (as you may have seen in my second post) and with all the day-to-day cooking going on around it, the mixer often gets dirty between uses forcing me to clean it before every use.  I had the afternoon off and I came up with this awesome cover.

final

A few weeks ago when I was making a pair of short for my hubby’s Muddy Buddy team I found this awesome cupcake fabric on sale so I bought it for the stash knowing it would come in handy soon enough.  I also had left over quilt batting from a baby quit i made a few months back.  Looking up at my awesome filed fabric stash I saw the two and knew exactly what I wanted to do!

What you need:

measurementsCut the three pieces each out of your cover fabric, your lining fabric and your batting. My fabric has a clear direction so I made sure to cut all pieces keeping the cupcakes going top to bottom.

I wanted a little detail on the bottom of mine so I cut my long cover piece at 30×15 instead and then cut two 3.5×15″ yellow pieces and sewed them to the bottom before staring.

Next, you need to add the curve to the tops of your side pieces. I used a turned over 8″ bowl to get matching curves.

round

 

After your pieces are all cut, it is time to quilt them. Layer them so that the lining is wrong side up, then put the batting down and then layer the top fabric right side up – pin together and quilt.  I went with straight lines, but feel free to get creative here.

Once all of your pieces are quilted, pin the sides to the main piece rights sides together around the curve. I like to start in the center and work down to the ends. This way if your cutting was off you will be equally short on both sides and can fix the length at the end. Next sew the side in using a 1/2″ seam allowance. Repeat on the other side.

Next, take your ribbon and hand sew it to the center top in a loop. I used a 1/2″ ribbon, but you could create a loop from extra fabric, or larger ribbon or even leave it out if you don’t want one.

ribbonOnce your pieces are all together, if the bottom is uneven, cut the fabric so that it is straight all the way around.

Then press the bottom in a half inch deep, roll over so the raw edges are hidden, and press again.  Then sew around the bottom to finish.  Another option here is to cut an inch off the bottom and use bias tape to finish.

photo

Other variations could be to add piping around the sides, or add pockets – make it your own and have fun!

 

 

 

 

Getting Organized – Filing Your Fabric

Fabric stash disarray is an epidemic. Every seamstress I know has piles of folded fabric that inevitably fall over, yardage they lose of forget about and random bags, boxes and drawers of notions and pieces they have to dig through every time they start a project.

 With all of the sewing I have been doing lately, I was going crazy! Folding all of my fabric into bags, forgetting what I have and digging through like a dog looking for a bone every step of the way and ending up at the fabric store when I can’t find what I know I already have some where.

I started my solution search on Pinterest, as one does, and came across this.

The problem for me was that I don’t have extra closet or floor space in my 650 square foot flat for a filing cabinet, but what I do have are nine foot ceilings and shelves. I also wanted something clear so that I could easily see what I had stored, especially if it was going to live nine feet high – I want to know what I’m grabbing without opening every drawer.  So, I went to my local office supply store and picked up several clear vertical filing boxes, 100% recycled file folders (why not? They are the same price), an accordion folder and a stiff file folder with pockets.

SuppliesMy original intent was to use the accordion folder for my patterns, but I found that the hanging folders worked better for that.  I ended up using it to sort my notions, mostly ribbing, bias tape and elastic and I used the zip envelope for zippers and closures. I kept my sewing box to takes care of all my pins, scissors, needles, thread etc.  

I think deciding how to file your patterns and notions is going to be very personal depending on how big your collection and if most patters are for you or children or whomever.  Some ideas are to file by sex, or size or garment type.  Most of my patters are for me so I went with the latter.

The next step was just following along with the original tutorial. In the tutorial they suggest you cut the folders so you get two-for-one as it were, but I left mine intact in case I have smaller pieces I want to file with the large piece or a project I want to keep together. I  tend to have several projects going at once, (and by that I mean I have bought the notions and patters for them but not started) so I filed the zipper and patters in the hanging folders before draping the fabric over the top. I was able to fit a surprising amount of fabric in each box (the picture below is before the box was full).  You can also iron your fabric before filing it, but I did not because I end up ironing before I cut anyway.

filed fabricI don’t have a ton of fabric right now, so I organized by project type: a box for clothing, a box for quilting, patterns and notions, and a box for costumes and upholstery fabric.  The division worked out perfect. You can fuss and organized depending on the composition of your stash.  The good news is the files are so easy to pull out and move, changing your mind after you start is no big deal!

Now I just have to set up more shelves so I don’t have to stake them 😉

finished filed fabricand voila! filed fabric stash! But beware, this could lead to higher fabric stash capacity and corresponding fabric shopping sprees. Happy sewing!