Monday, June 29, 2009

Cheery Cherry Apron

For years, my mother and I have talked about opening our own bakery, baking cookies and brownies and doughnuts like my gramma used to make for Shrove Tuesday and almost entirely fattening stuff. In my fantasy land, it's the Cheery Cherry Bakery and our shop is full of us and lots of happy teenagers wearing adorable cherry aprons.

So I made this one for Tie One One. My fantasy bakery is really far off, but the apron is a cute first step.

It's from Amy Karol, Bend the Rules Sewing. It is the first apron I have ever made, since I am kind of new to sewing, but I think it's pretty OK.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Leftover Magic

I just got a fantastic rice cooker. It was recommended to me by a friend, who heard I was making rice and freezing it so I did not have to wait for it to cook when I got home. (I am feeding a two year old, so immediate dinner is pretty high on our priority list.) This cooker knows what time it is, and you can tell it "oh, have our rice done at 6". BRILLIANT.

As a result, we've been eating a ton of rice. Friday, I set the cooker up to make mexican-ish rice and black beans. We ate it with cheese quesadillas, which was a nice and fast dinner. I had 3 zucchini in my farm box that I needed to use, so I hollowed them out, filled them up with the leftover rice, and covered the whole mess with enchilada sauce and cheese. It was a very yummy dinner that baked while I chased my son around and tried to clean the kitchen. (note to self: I should look up how people do photography of food. this picture does show a bit of my hand knit trivet. Knit in a circle!!! Very exciting.)

I have been doing a lot of sketching and then trying to shop for jewelry supplies that match my sketches. Not 100% working out locally, so I may need to buy some things online. I should have some exciting new things going up on the shop in a week or so.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Busy Beading

I have been busily beading away between breaking in my new netbook, watching the Pens wil the Stanley Cup and a bit of sewing.

This is one of the pieces newly listed on my etsy site. I had a really hard time deciding to part with it because I love the toggle so, so much. Plus, matching earrings. Yum!

My brother's fiance had a birthday, and I made her a mother of pearl and crystal illusion necklace and earrings in a pretty hot pink color. I forgot to take a picture of it! She wore it to dinner tonight and it looked very nice on her.

After dinner, my mother asked for the same necklace in tan mother of pearl with dark wooden 3mm beads. Very funky and neutral, but I still failed to take a picture. Oh well.

This week, I also learned a valuable lesson about using the right lighting for your photography. I made a DIY macro light studio out of things I had around (duct tape, a box, and parchment paper). The website claims that it takes stunning gorgeous pictures, and I was so hopeful. I used the clamp lights my husband has and shot away and....everything was so dark and tan! Not at all the results promised. After poking around with different white balances, I decided it was probably the bulbs. (I have no idea what kind of bulbs or what color temperature). I took the whole works outside and used the sunlight, balancing my camera for sunlight and got much better results, including the picture I have in this post. I think it was really worth the

After I had my whole macro studio set up on the deck, a bird flew DIRECTLY into my head. Seriously! I literally didn't know what hit me. Then the little guy stood on the deck looking kind of confused and his birdy friend landed on the railing and started chirping at us in a really lecturing fashion. I told the lecturing chirper that it was very much not my fault and told them both to get off my porch. Jeezch!

P.S. Most creative submissions for the giveaway are past due. I am trying to decide which is the most creative, but it's hard! Such good answers. Winner coming soon, I promise.
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Sunday, June 7, 2009

Background Rhubarb Jam

My family has a farm box subscription through Penn's Corner, which I love to pieces. I've had other farm subscriptions before that did not work out as well. Too many greens, too many tomatoes, not enough variety. Penn's Corner has given us eggs frequently, cheese, loaves of bread, fresh pasta, in addition to herbs and greens and strawberries and.... rhubarb.

Rhubarb always seems somewhere between a luxury and a curse in the farm box. It's not the kind of thing you see at the grocery store every day and I think it has a relatively short season. However, it's also not the kind of thing you can quickly saute and serve, since it absolutely needs a decent amount of sugar and to be cooked into something before it tastes good.

With this weeks' rhubarb, I was determined to make jam or jelly of some variety. It was a busy week, though. My husband was sick, and then had to work a lot of nights, and is now in San Fransisco. This did not leave lots of time to make jam. Enter Freezer Jam Pectin.

Ball makes this, and also some freezer-safe jam containers for you to use with it. I improvised this recipe, based on a handful of possible internet recipes. It's tasty, a bit luxurious, and did not take much time at all, easily cooking away in the background.

Rhubarb Peach Vanilla Freezer Jam
makes 4 jars

  • 1 envelope freezer jam pectin
  • 1 bunch rhubarb, chopped
  • 3 peaches, peeled and chopped
  • 1.5 cups granulated sugar + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar (divided)
  • 1 vanilla bean

  1. Measure out the chopped peaches and rhubarb. It should be 4 cups worth of fruit, roughly chopped into chunks no bigger than a centimeter cubed.
  2. Combine the fruit and 1.5 cups of sugar in a saucepan, cook over medium to high heat until the fruit comes to a low boil. Give this a stir with a wooden spoon every so often while it cooks for 10 - 15 minutes. The fruit will lose structural integrity and start to get a bit jelly like.
  3. Scrape the seeds out of the vanilla bean* and mix with 2 tablspoons of sugar. You may need to use your fingers to get this well combined. Empty the packet of pectin into the sugar/vanilla mixture and slowly incorporate into the fruit mixture.
  4. Ladle the finished jam into the 4 freezer jam jars. Put 3 in the freezer (for up to 1 year) and stick the other in the fridge so you can start eating it right away.
  5. Feel totally awesomely accomplished. You are the modern incarnation of Laura Ingalls Wilder! And you did it all while you were waiting for the dryer to finish and while your kid watched one single episode of Yo Gabba Gabba. You're a rock star.
*Get the seeds out of a vanilla bean by slicing it open with the point of a paring knife, legnthwise. Now you have two long bean-halves. Use the flat of the knife to scrape the very teeny black seeds out.

As a bonus, you can keep the remaining vanilla bean halves in a quart mason jar full of granulated sugar. After a few weeks, you will have tasty vanilla sugar in addition to your freezer jam.