Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Inspiration Wall

So, I was chatting with my BFF on facebook, actually, shes my best friends mom, quilting goddess(she owns a long arm quilter), she posted a comment on my facebook page, but alas, she mentioned I needed an design wall. WHAT? Why is it that it takes one, one line comment to get my creative energy flowing? Seriously, why didnt I think of this a LONG TIME AGO?!?!? Well, it only took me about an hour to decide what my plan of action was going to be. In my craft room, I have the  Expedit shelf from Ikea and I love it, I knew it would make the prefect backdrop for my design slash inspiration wall.  Here is what I came up with.

I used 4 yards of flannel, its always on sale after thanksgiving for around $2 a yard. I cut it in half and sewed both pieces down the center. 

Here is the shelf behind the "design wall" lol
I forgot to mention that anything seen from this photo forward can not be held against me.  I have nothing to say about the amount of fabric jammed in those boxes.  lol

Here is apicture of the top of the fabric, where it attaches to the shelving unit.

All I had was black velcro.  I didnt want to use anything that would damage the shelf and i wanted this "wall" to be removeable.  The way it hangs, it will be really easy to roll up, and store on top of the shelves, and it will easily roll back down to be used.

What is special about this, and why I used flannel you may ask?  Well, the flannel works like magic and it holds your fabric up on the "design wall" with out any pins.  This way you can lay out your project, or quilt and move things around, take a step back and see how they look before commiting to it.  Seeing things up and in front of you at eye level gives you a much better view and perspective then having it laying on your cutting table. 

I plan to steam the wrinkles out of the fabric tomorrow, but I was so excited to get this done, I had to share right away!

Here is the top to the table runner I posted about a few days ago.  See how nice it is hangin up there, no pins or anything. 

Monday, August 30, 2010

Baby Boys

Just about everyone I know who is expecting is having boys.  Blech!  Seriously, I long for someone to have a sweet baby girl, so I can justify buying some cute girly fabric. And I want to sew ruffles!!!! Yes Ruffleeesssss! Instead, we will settle for all these boys and keep praying for more girls to enter this world soon. ;)  I shouldnt have this attitude about the topic.  All the boys who have entered this world to friends and aquaintances have been healthy and happy, bouncing baby boys. I know, trust me I know, that we should just be blessed with the bundle of joy, but I really want to sew some girly stuff! Work with me here.

Here are some pictures of some gifts for friends.  I was even blessed to get photos of the sweet little guy in these, but I wont post those here. 

I made her a total of 4 burpies and two onesies.  I added jumbo ric rac to the tops of the fabric on the burpies.  But would these be super cute in some purple and hot pink? 

I will list similar sets in my shop this week.  2 burpies and a onesie $25 includes all custom embroidery work.

Join in on the link up for Making Friends Monday More details by clicking on their button below

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Table runner pattern making

I have been on th elook out for the perfect pattern for a table runner.  After loads of surfing the net, I found several.  My problem was I had fabric in mind to use, and the patterns I found, well, I want to make those in the colors they are shown in.  Oh well, here are some pictures of where I am starting.  More to follow this week to chart the progress.  I am also drafting my own pattern for this, lots of notes and changes to measurements, its been a fun process. 

These are the fabrics I went with.  My daughter picked these out.  I was going to help her make a dissapearing nine patch but with a broken arm, that will have to wait. 

Here are my triangle pieces waiting to get joined.

It is a modified log cabin type pattern that I was going for.  Here are the pieces for the logs.

The Great De Stash! Huh WHY?

So many of you are probably thinking the same thing I was when I read The train to Crazy's blog and saw her post about The Great Destash! WHAT? WHY?  Its like sacrificing your first born! Never, Im not going to do it.  Not this sewer, crafter lady, nuh uhhhh! Well I read through some comments and realized there were some great ideas that seemed practical and applicable to my own sewing situation.  Check it out and take the pledge. I have, and I vow, from this moment forward, to reduce, reuse and repurpose from my own stash! 
Do you have suggestions or solutions that work for you?  Post them here and help the rest of us material girls.
I Took The DeStash Challenge Button

Friday, August 27, 2010

Canning and Preserving

A good friend has a great garden and graciously shares her harvest with me.  This week I went over for a dozen or so tomatoes to make a little spaghetti sauce.  We grabbed our bags and buckets and headed to the garden, next thing you know we get to chatting and an hour later we had two full bags of maters.

Here's what I came home with

Large maters will go to the sauce, little ones for tomato soup tomorrow since I strain that and all those little guys and their seeds wont matter.

For the sauce I gathered several recipes and used the ingredients that I wanted to.  When canning, all my reading has brought me to believe you use the ingredient with the longest processing time and that's what you go by.  Since I added meat, we went with that.

To start, cut out the stem area of your tomato and discard. I like to keep a bowl nearby to collect all the "trash" or if you have a compost bowl, throw them in there.  Next you can either cut your tomato into quarters or slice an X on the bottom of your mater like seen here

What we are trying to do with all this cutting and slashing is prepare our maters for skinning.  While we core and slash the tomatoes you need to start a large pot of water boiling and prepare a second bowl with cold water and ice.  Several at a time, add the slashed tomatoes to the boiling water. 

 Let them boil for a minute then remove and place in the ice water bowl we prepared. 

By placing the tomatoes in the ice water, you stop the cooking process.  Once they sit for a minute in the ice water start pulling the skins off.  At this point they should slide right off.  This step is hard to photograph so picture one slimy mater with the tough outside cover slipping right off the juicy mater flesh.  Got it?

OK here are some of my tomatoes all skinned and ready for cooking.

Since tomatoes on their own create such a large amount of juice, I didn't add any extra juice to the tomatoes before cooking them down. In a separate skillet I cooked up onions, green peppers, mushrooms and garlic then added it to the tomatoes.  I also added a handful of fresh basil to the mix.  Then my chosen spices.  I also cooked the meat but wait til the end to add it.  I used my immersion blender to puree all my ingredients.  Our kids wont each chunky sauce so I have to hide everything.  The blender does the trick with that.

Here is my blender and my sauce getting all bubbly and sauce like.


Because tomatoes are SO juicy, you need to cook them down for a good bit to make your sauce nice and thick.  This is the perfect time to start cleaning up all your prep supplies, and also make some cookie dough! More about that later but here is a picture to hold you over.

At this point your sauce has cooked lets just say an hour or so.  Your area is clean.  You really need a treat.  Go ahead, I know you do.  One of my all time favorite cookie recipes comes from http://www.thepioneerwoman.com/  and its her classic/basic cookie dough recipe.  I like to make a batch and freeze some for later.  I think this falls into the preserving category so it deserves a spot at the canning party.  Once you get your dough made, whatever you favorite is of course, I set out 4 sheets of wax paper.  You can divide yours however you see fit.  Its just two of us here, so 4 sheets will do us fine.

Here they are

Make sure while you are having all this cookie dough fun, you remember to stir your sauce, and, stir your sauce, there you go.  Now back to the dough.  Once its divided on your paper simply fold one edge over and  press it into a tube shape and roll it up.

  I twisted the ends and placed them in a freezer safe gallon Ziploc bag.  This will hold us over for at least a week, uhhh, I mean a month, lol.

So back to work we go.  Here is our sauce getting all saucy.

Mine has cooked down as far as I think is good so I add my meat and get my canning stuff ready.  All my jars are washed and sterilized.  At this point you want to start your canner boiling and also prepare your lids and rings. I always make sure I have enough jars prepared and a few extra just in case.  In this case, I needed more jars, and they were all ready to go!  This bunch made 6 full quarts and enough for a bowl for the fridge so my hungry patient has something to eat later on.

Once you get your jars filled with the proper head space, wipe the rims clean and place your lids and rings.  Pack your canner and wait.  These beauties "canned" for 90 minutes.  The wait is always worth it!

This week of canning has me all jazzed to get more stuff canned for our family.  Since we had a chilly morning and a cool night tonight I am in the mood for some chili. Check back and I will post our favorite chili recipe.

Don't forget to check out A Latte with Ott, A   and   From Mess Hall to Bistro  for more great canning fun.


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Decorating your canning jars

Besides using my jars for canning, I also like the way they look around the house.  They serve many uses in my house, candle holder, button container, candy corner corraler, etc.  I decided to  put together a little photo tutorial to share over at A latte with Ott, A  she is having a canning party this week.  Stop by her blog and check out all her fun recipes and ideas and visit the linky party.

I am all for deocrations that are reusable and easy to move from one jar to the next in the event I actually decide to use a precious jar of home canned goodness. 

I made two versions and here are the final products.

FYI Just imagine that jar filled with little pumpkins. 
(Many were sacrificed during the making of this tutorial)

This projects requires the following
sewing machine or needle and thread
elastic in your choice of size, I used 1/4 inch width
fabric or ribbon in several sizes and colors

I started with fabric for one jar and ribbon for the other.  I measured my jar and doubled that to get the length of my fabric and ribbon.  I also took away an inch and that was my measurement for the elastic.

Here is the ribbon and ric rac I used for my Halloween jar along with the elastic cording

Here are my strips of fabric.  I cut them with a pinked edge so they would have a more primitive rustic frayed effect.

next you are going to go to your sewing machine or grab your needle and thread.  we are going to sew two lines of stitching and create a tunnel for our elastic to go through.  Make sure you make it wide enough fo ryour elastic and to allow for whatever you will use to thread your elastic through.  I like to use a large safety  pin.  You can see it in the pictures below.

When you have your little tunnel made start threading your elastic thru until the end is even with the edge of your fabric or ribbon.  STOP at this point we are going to make a few stitches so the elastic stays put and we can keep threading our elastic thru so our material will gather up.

Once we secure the first end, continue threading the elastic thru and secure on the other end with a few stitches, either by hand or using your sewing machine.

Once your elastic is secured at each end, put right sides of fabric or ribbon together and sew the edges together.  Seam allowance is what ever you think works for your fabric.  You may also heat seal your ribbon ends at this point to keep from fraying.

And here is the finished product.  I trimmed my fabric down on the first one I made.  I think it looks better this way on my jar.

 Tomorrow I will be canning meat sauce.  Stop back in and see what I come up with.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Its a makeover

Many thanks to Dreamlikemagic for my business makeover   I loved working with her and am very pleased with the process and finished product.

Check her out on Etsy here Dream like Magic


Monday, August 23, 2010

Its time to PARTY!

Ok,  so its a canning party, but hey, a party is a party and these days I will take what I can get.  ;) 

Ott, A from aLatte' with Ott, A and her partner in crime Jenn from Mess Hall to Bistro are hosting a Canning party this week.  Stop over and check out all the fun canning jar craft ideas, canning recipes, and canning tips.  I am linking today to their linky party, and I am sharing my canned BBQ Chicken adventure. 

This is my first official year where I feel I can wear the badge of "Canner".  I have been a gardener for quite a few years and this year decided to go all out.  Part of the reason I set out on my canning expedition was to simply find a healthier way to feed my family.  We are a part time family of 6, most of the time family of 3 and every other year a family of 2.  Feeding this many by buying organic is costly.  And up until this year, I thought buying organic was the only way to feed my family and be assured I was providing healthy foods for them.  But I found by canning my own foods, I know what is in each and every jar, and it puts a smile on my face. 

I must admit, I am still having a really hard time breaking even a single seal on a jar of my precious green beans.  A month or so ago, my neighbor and I decided it would be a great idea to each buy a bushel of green beans.  For those of you who don't know, that's about 33 pounds of green beans.  Mine yielded 18 quarts.  I gave away two, the rest are tucked away nicely in my cabinet. Where they will reside until I get really really hungry, have a recipe that calls for green beans.

Today, we are a family of 2.  My dear sweet husband, is deployed,and I found I am still buying those large packages of chicken breasts, because lets face it, its cheaper.  I decided to can most of them, with a little BBQ sauce. I found a recipe in the Ball Blue book and got busy. 

I decided to raw pack my jars.  I had 6 boneless skinless chicken breasts.  I sliced them up into thin slices that would be tasty on a sandwich.  I seasoned them with my favorite spices and prepared the BBQ sauce.  I thinned out a sauce that our family likes and heated it up on the stove. 

I packed the raw chicken in my jars, I used 2 quart jars.  I wished after this was done that I had started with more chicken, and made a few more jars.  After raw packing the chicken I poured the hot sauce over top.  Using a butter knife I swished the chicken around in the jars releasing as much trapped air as I could.  Leaving an inch head space on the jars.  Lids and seals were warmed, and jars were wiped cleaned, lids and rings were affixed and place in the pressure canner.

Everything I read said to process for an hour 30 minutes for quarts at 10 pounds pressure.  I followed the manufactures instructions for my pressure canner.  I was a little leery of canning meat, but it looks yummy and we cant wait to try it.  
I tried the little trick this time of adding vinegar to the water bath, I am reporting that it works.  Clean happy jars!

Here is my next item to hoard enjoy.  Come back tomorrow and I will show you how to dress these babies up for hoarding gift giving.  Later this week I will be canning meat sauce for spaghetti.  Yummy!  I welcome your comments, concerns, or questions ;)

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