Sunday, July 14, 2013

Summer Harvest

This summer has been unusually wet and cloudy. While I'm personally fond of wet and cloudy climates, my dad's tomatoes and corn have suffered a bit. At least he has them this year as opposed to the veggie drought of 2012. We've canned tomatoes and rattlesnake beans and frozen creamed corn so far this year. The summer squash must really cherish the wet soil because we can't give it away fast enough (we don't store summer squash because it taste gross and has a lousy texture after it has been frozen.) I eat enough of them during summer to keep my cravings sated until next season.

I have the impression, from speaking with my friends, that storing vegetables on a large scale is a dying form of survival. For some reason I thought we were making a comeback thanks to the new interest in sustainable living. I will post pictures of my canning set up at some point.

Saturday was a tomato canning day and I canned most the day. Today I will rest, but tomorrow I will be right back to it again and making tomato jam. It's a lovely condiment that my entire family fell in love with when my Granny made and shared it way back when. We eat it on field peas for the most part, but I smear it on sandwiches rather than using mayo and it's lovely. It is great served with cream cheese and crackers, or with crackers and cheddar. This is the recipe I follow:

Tomato Jam
1.5 pints

3 1/2pounds tomatoes, coarsely shopped
1 small onion, chopped
1/2cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
1teaspoon salt
1/2teaspoon coriander
1/4teaspoon cumin
1/4cup cider vinegar
juice of 1 lemon
 
Put all ingredients in a 2-quart pot. Bring to a gentle boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until thickened to a jam-like consistency, about 3 hours. Transfer to sterilized glass jars and store in refrigerator for up to two weeks, or use a hot-water canning bath for 15 minutes for long-term storage.
 
It's time to read a while then sew a little more on my Grandmother's Garden (renamed Mama's Garden because I'm not a grandmother. )
 
Again, I will post pictures once I discover the easiest way to use pictures that I've taken with my phone. Picasa confuses me, sending them to Google worries me because they don't value my privacy. I'll post them soon. I'm so excited about this project and I can't wait to share.
 
Ta! for now!

Good intentions . . .

. . . were definitely there, but I am a terrible blogger. I keep a personal joural so it's difficult to make myself post here. To be honest, I'm not even sure why I post here other than I want to share my craft. Since the first of the year I have finished the construction and quilting of an heirloom baby quilt for my auntie's first great grandchild. Each of the blocks were made from clothing from people in the child's family tree. Here is a look at the final project.

 

 

 
 
I made a good friend a draft dodger for her front door.




 
 
 
My favorite project completed this year is the quilt I made for my first great niece - Avery Elle. I made her a baby quilt. The first is the back.

 
These are a few pictures of detail. I used yo-yos for the centers of the flowers and decor on the back. and appliqued the bird and butterfly and name.


 

Friday, January 25, 2013

My Mexican Star

Three nights ago I perused "Google Images" of quilts in an effort find great new ideas to add to my quilting repetoire and to get sleepy enough to sleep for at least 5 hours - #2 being the primary goal. Instead of finding the Sandman, I happened upon the Mexican Star! This is the first picture I saw.

From there I searched the web, for the better part of an hour, for the block pattern. No such luck. By now it was near midnight and a spark flickered... I bet I can draft the block myself! Suddenly the idea became a flicker of light, and I made a bee-line straight for the studio. After five minutes I had the preliminary block sketched. By 1:00 am I'd put together my first Mexican Star block. This is what it looks like.




Day 1: The fabric I used for this trial project is some that my daughter found on the end of bolt table at Hancock's of Paducah. It's wild, but because it is not my usual colors I deemed it worthy of a test project (expendable.) When I hung the first block on the board and stepped back to look I gasped, because it looked like a wicked eye in the low light. Doesn't it, though? Anyway, I was so pleased with what I'd done I slept better than I have in a long time.

Day 2: The next morning I could barely manage to stick to my normal schedule of scanning job boards with my morning coffee. All I could think of was getting back to the studio. After a couple hours work six blocks were complete.

 


Over the course of the day I began pondering what I would do with these lovely odd looking blocks and considered sashing. I'd love to bring out the purply-pink print of the "eye-ball" center, but nothing in my stash would pop! It has to pop! Finally, after pondering spending the money, I jumped in the car and visited my local quilt shop Kiwi Quilts
This is the color sashing we all came up with! Isn't it fantastic!

 

My exuberance lasted well into the evening, until I realized I didn't have enough of the red to finish the piece as I designed. :( It's back to the sketch pad. This is what the 10 blocks looks like at this point:


I really wanted to replicate the "Six Pack" adding it to the lower section then frame the entire center with additional blocks with half color and the outside yello... as the picture of the completed Mexican Square suggests. Now it's all up in the air, but I have not lost steam. I will keep you posted!

 
 
 
This is how far I made it before realizing I didn't have enough of the yellow fabric to finishe the quilt. :(  Since, taking this one off the wall I have obtained the fabric, but have since begun and finished another quilt and started yet another. Soon, I will finish this one. It will be a favorite. 
 
 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

It's A New Year!

Well, the new year has begun, and my desire to live happy, healthy and prosperously has become a mainstay in my thoughts. I have begun to set a few goals with the intent on taking one day and one goal at a time until forward movement begins once again. This is my 20th month being unemployed. Three weeks ago I was told that my unemployment extension would not renew and thus my life comes to a scary screeching halt. I moved from Washington, in April, to live with my dad in case the worst happened, and seems, for now, it has. Times are pretty bad, but they could be worse - I guess. I could be on the cold wet winter streets of Olympia vying for a dry place to sleep among the other homeless. God bless my dad for loving me enough to take Sam and me in.

Looking ahead... Life can become so complicated and though I have some major hurdles ahead of me this year I plan to focus on a concept: K.I.S.S. - Keep It Simple Stupid! My sewing will obviously keep me happy in between interviews and hopefully hours at work (soon!) If I keep my mind focused on sewing I won't have a lot of time to get into trouble unless I become tangled in thread! Ha!

In project news I began the new year by preparing the materials for a quilt that must be hand sewn; Grandmother's Garden. During the holidays I had the opportunity to spend some time with family, away from my sewing studio. It was great fun to spend time at the Lakehouse, but it is so different there in the winter vs. the summer visits in that we aren't outside playing most the day. During the winter visits we spend time around the crackling fire, curled up in the sunshine (from behind a pane of glass)reading, or preparing the next meal. I totally missed out by not having a hand project with me. So, with the time I had I devised a new plan for my future road trips. I went straight home and began tracing, cutting and gathering the pieces for Grandmother's Garden. When I finish that quilt, I will begin a new hand quilting piece so I will always be able to grab a bag and go!

Before I close this first post of the year I thought I would share a couple recipes that I used for New Year's dinner. They were so tasty I simply have to share them. I found both of them on Food Network. Both dishes are what I consider comfort foods so know I'll be making more of them both.

The braised greens I substituted Mustard greens for the Lacinato kale, which I have growing in the garden along with the collards, chard and spinach. Such a tasty dish... http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/dave-lieberman/braised-collard-greens-mustard-greens-and-red-swiss-chard-recipe/index.html

Also, the Mac N Cheese recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/baked-macaroni-and-cheese-recipe/index.html I've made homemade mac-n-cheese all my adult life, but, I have never had a recipe. Recently, my daughter asked me for my recipe so thought I would look for one that is similar and use it as a base rather than starting anew. I found Alton's recipe and followed it directly. I've never used onions in my b├ęchamel, but will forever more as the onion added so much yummy goodness to the flavor I can’t imagine ever making it without. Love love love!

It's been a great start to 2013.

O & O