Sunday, December 31, 2017

New Years Eve 2017

So.... it’s a night like any other.    But it’s New Years.  So it should feel different.  It should BE different.  But it’s not.  It’s the same. It’s your life.  Your LIFE.  So no fireworks.  No radical craziness. Just your life.  It’s what you have. For good. For bad. For what you can do with it.  I guess that’s the thing: what’s next?   Seriously, felt where you are sitting now, what is next?   That is the real question for all of us. Never has there been a time where we have had more choices   Today, my friends, what’s next for you?

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Book Review: Seven Days of Us

Lots of fun! Some predictable plot points..... but a fun story of a family quarantined together for a week :-)

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas!

I wish many good things for you, my readers....
         much peace with lowered holiday expectations and gratitude for the blessings you have...

We will see how much I actually do find my voice again in writing .... but for now - gratitude for the opportunities in front of me

...and some joyous anticipation for new roads ahead in the new year.

I hope your day.... season.... is fantastic!

Saturday, December 23, 2017


okay so

the social anxiety post from the other day was pretty raw

but I have to say there is progress....

last year I had two holiday functions and a family function - all people I wanted to be with - and it wasn't too bad

the year before - we left town and visited elsewhere - which is another story altogether

the year before that?  I barely managed the family function - and it's MY family!

So THIS year?

one work holiday function - very strained - so the anxiety was HIGH
one fun holiday function - I love these ladies!  but the struggle is real :-(
         I must say that these were HARD

one family function today that *I AM LOOKING FORWARD TO*

and a possible function Christmas Day that I am considering
                probably won't happen - I will probably exercise my right to stay home

BUT I am considering it without too much angst.
      (of course it is 2 days away and I am NOT expected so we shall see)

My point is....  progress

I am grateful.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Social Anxiety Sucks

Social Anxiety Sucks

any gathering
   party, dinner, meeting, club

any size
     bigger than 2

any people
    friends, family, strangers

you spend days before on edge
       preparing, psyching yourself up, calming yourself down, trying to be logical, trying to figure a way out

the day of
       well... headaches, sleep loss, over eating, being late, oh so late, but hey I made it!.... name your stress reaction

        whether you cave and hide... or cave and go....
          paralysis, self doubt, exhaustion, tears, more overeating and/or drinking

the 'holiday' season is filled with these gatherings!

every group of people that you are part of
         gathers in some capacity to celebrate

yet for many of us
         there is no celebration - just weariness, exhaustion, mild relief as we gear up for the next one    <sigh>

once in a great while, it turns out okay.   rarely good... but sometimes okay. 

please have compassion for those in your group
         who don't / can't show up
             who do show up but are stilted and uncomfortable
                who over compensate somehow or are 'weird'

we are all doing the best we can

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Sporadic Writing

5 years or so ago

I broke down

my life fell apart

Outside looking in - everything looked the same
                        but inside?

                I broke

I've spent the last several years crawling out of a hole - and am experiencing some success....

But I stopped writing back then

I tried to keep up with crafts and home stuff -
         and I will get back to that

But I lost my voice
           I had to hide

I'm getting back on the page - and will share my journey
         but I wanted to write this first before I begin to speak of things that sound negative

I'm not negative - but life is hard for all of us
       and maybe - just maybe some of the stuff I experience will resonate with someone else

so.. watch your inbox

more is coming


Sunday, March 19, 2017

Buttonholes, Bills, Shrubs and Jellies

I apologize for not keeping up lately!

Life has been full!  One of the things I do in my life is substitute at my little local library.  Well.. the branch manager left for a full-time position.. and I applied for the job.  It's a part-time position just a couple of miles from my house doing things I love to do - read and talk to people :-)   I haven't heard from anyone about the position per se - but for now I am covering the hours left with the manager's absence.  So.. my personal library schedule has gone from a 4 hour shift once a month or so... to 3 4-hour shifts per week at the moment.  I do love it - but it IS a schedule change and that is always tricky to maneuver!

But today is a day at home so I will try to catch you up with what's happening!

Buttonholes!  I have 3 dresses I am making for my granddaughter.  She chose the fabric last fall and I got sidetracked with other projects.  Well.. they are made :-)  I need to make buttonholes and do handwork..... and my machine went NO!  Anyway - I took it in for help and now have it back.  I will get the silly buttonholes done today and if I am lucky - I will never do another buttonhole!  [actually this is a dumb idea.. because after today I will have made 9-12 beautiful buttonholes.... but will forget all about it by the next time!]  But I still prefer quilting to dressmaking - and short of another little girl showing up in my life... I may not be making more dresses!

 Bills!  Yuk - but it has to happen....  On a day at home, I try to take a little while to assess the finances.  Not fun, but catching up from way behind isn't fun either.  Last week, I finally got the tax paperwork together for the accountant - so now it's time to pick up the more current pieces of my life!

For the Food in Jars Mastery Classes, I have 3 shrubs brewing in my fridge... Blueberry Ginger (which tasted so good, a friend asked me to put a jar together for her), a cranberry shrub cold brew, and a coffee shrub.  The coffee one sounds a little strange [just think vinegar!] but I couldn't NOT try it :-)  I will talk more about these in a specific shrub post.  I also have some blood oranges sitting here waiting to become shrub today...

  March is also Jelly month and I have done NOTHING yet for that except buy wine and pectin and collect a few dandelion blossoms.  I am hoping today to have the opportunity to make the Wine Jelly and see how I do.  The one day there were a few dandelions popped out.. I got them - about 2 cups which I stuck in the freezer!  And then I pulled my back.... and then the weather turned and has fluctuated between too cold or too wet for me to bother.  I'm pretty sure over the course of time, I will have no shortage of dandelion blossoms!

And then for today - since it is a HOME DAY... I also need to do the usual stuff... like declutter something... like clean the bathrooms... like assess food for the week and prep some meals & veggies...  like look at the week ahead to plan for the family...

and it is raining.. so walking out side will be at a minimum so I need to see if I can get a little more movement going on indoors. 

I've been feeling so rough lately... I don't think I've shared my physical stuff.... nothing to worry about per se.... some facial numbness / pain I am trying to deal with - which sounds less annoying than it is!   I'm working with the specialist from my surgery last spring.... and have been going through rounds of antibiotics and steroids..... which has added a lot of nausea & digestive issues to the process.  Anyway, on a really good day, I feel okay.... but am usually not feeling good at all... for months :-(     All tests come back  negative.. but you can add all those deductible medical test costs to my life - BOO!  I seem to be caught in the midst of feeling bad with nothing discernible going on.  Which happens to all of us one time or another and will dissipate over time.  It's okay and I'm moving along the process

BUT it makes the thought of extra exercise a lot harder!  So.. I am definitely keeping my daily walking as a NO EXCUSE thing... I'm still getting 8-9K in steps daily and I think that helps me overall.

So... there are my plans for the day.... nothing earth-shattering....  I will poke my head in again soon with more details in the days to come.  Hopefully I will hit a better stride and be more regular. 

How are you doing?  What are your plans for the day?

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

March Preserving.. Jellies and Shrubs... and...

This month's challenge is new to me....  well, last month's was too and I learned a lot!  I think I am going to refer to this challenge as a COURSE.  I feel more like I am learning than challenging!

I have never heard of a SHRUB before - so there is the first challenge.  What actually is it?  A syrup.  In a nutshell, It is a simple mildly acidic syrup to add to soda water or tea or a cocktail.  It is supposed to have a long refrigerator life - about 6 months.  And there are ways to prepare it for actual canning.  But I think I want to see if I like it first!  It sounds to me like a Kombucha relative.... I like store-bought Kombucha but have only been marginally successfully with brewing it myself.  Anyway - I am gathering recipes!

And jelly.  I've ignored jelly in my canning adventures for two reasons.  A) I LIKE chunks in my jam... and b) straining the fruit is another step of work PLUS the additional decisions of what to do with the pulp.  [my same juicing vs smoothie dilemma]

Plus, it is MARCH.... so I challenged ME.... what can I make jelly out of that is fresh and seasonally available?

   I found a recipe for WINE jelly :-)  that sort of fits the bill.  And I found a bottle at our little country store left from Christmas that is both local and likely NOT to be drunk before I get to jelly-making!

   I asked for ideas... and got CORNCOB jelly (? - not seasonal but an idea for using a waste product this summer just in case I am not inundated :-) ) and DANDELION jelly.  Now THAT is intriguing since the little yellow blossoms are just now beginning to pop up in my lovely untreated lawn.  So.. foraging AND jelly .... more new things!  I popped one afternoon last week and clipped some blossoms to store in the freezer.  I got 2.5 cups.... but pulled my back out the next day and haven't been back.

Anyway - the jelly is made a tea made from the blossoms.. so that is on the list too.  And in the back of my mind, I am watching and waiting for some pretty leaves to come up with them to dry for tea....

AND herb jellies is another possibility if more herbs pop up this month... though I will def use them when they do come!  The mint is not up yet - the rosemary needs new growth to pick.... I will watch.

The AND in my title comes from 2 batches of marmalade I processed this weekend - I thought I was through and then there was this sale on blood oranges.....  and I had limes in the fridge to use up... I added Blood Orange and Coconut Lime Marmalades to my repertoire!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

February Preserving Recap

So.....  a recap - most of the recipes are available on prior posts or a simple Google.  Most are from The website

February's Preserving :-)

Salt Preserved Meyer Lemons
Salt Preserved Limes
Salt Preserved organic Key Limes
Salt Preserved Grapefruit with Peppercorns and Cloves

**  I've started using the limes pretty regularly with my avocado and the simple baked chicken with the lemons was pretty awesome!  I found a Cambodian chicken soup with salted limes that I want to try - and the Vietnamese salted lemonade - Chang Moui - is also good.  Though I will probably LOVE it better in the summer!

* a side note I picked up from research... salted citrus is used often in Asian & African cooking... I found quite a lot of articles and recipes from Morocco, India, Viet Nam, Cambodia.... that really helped me a lot to envision what to do next.  I still have 4.5 pints of assorted salted citrus in my fridge to deal with..

Celery Salt
Basil Salt
Parsley, Scallion, Garlic Salt
Toasted Parsley, Scallion, Garlic Salt  (this one actually I scorched a little but it only changed color - not taste - so renamed!)
Habanero Salt

*** My general takeaway here is that these are too salty for me.  Yes, yes, I know - they are SALT!  But I never realized how little I use salt any more.  So I have enough to last a long time - and to share as gifts.  Also - I know I will use them on very low salt items like potatoes or refried beans - they will be perfect!

I DID love learning about drying the herbs with just a hint of salt [or not].  I can tell you I am READY for when the summer basil and mints come in.

New habits?
   Zesting and drying citrus.  I did not make the citrus salt because at this moment, one more salt would be terrible overkill even for me!

BUT - No more tossing good zest out!  I don't use it often but have you priced that stuff?  This is nuts when I have it right here most days for 5 minutes of work. 

I also want to tried some candied peel.... but it's a LOT of sugar so we will see!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

WIP Handwork - Hawaiian Quilting #1 2017

There is something special about hawaiian applique quilts.  Thinking of a fabric tradition introduced to a culture with no need of a quilted bedcovering....  and the art form that emerged is so incredibly personal.  As always when I quilt, I imagine generations of women working together (even as I play alone in my studio!)

I fell in love with the idea of Hawaiian quilting years ago.... and even got a book or so.... and cut out two motifs.....  and basted them on..  and stalled!

In 2015 I had an opportunity to actually GO to Hawaii!  And I discovered that there are several classes held in the community where you can learn traditional Hawaiian quilting.  I blogged about my first class in the Royal Hawaiian Mall.   

This is the completed block I purchased that day.  (It was actually a pillow kit - and I still have the backing, etc.. that I will probably use as a quilt block.)  And I should clarify that the applique is completed - not the actual quilting.

But I got lazy and didn't share about the second - and much more important - to me - one.

The second class was held at the Iolani Palace on Saturday morning.  And, I might add, there is a gathering of quilters and a session for interested newbies almost every Saturday!  The cost was minimal... and I was to bring 2 pieces of fabric - 5/8 yd each of a backing and a color.

I had corresponded with the ladies who run the classes via email and felt like part of the family before I ever got there!  Their dad, John Serrao, is a designer of Hawaiian quilts and this is a family passion.  I am honored to be a little part of it.  I have to admit to a real FANGIRL obsession with the Poakalani family.  I own all their pattern books and watch their website religiously.

Anyway - they allowed me to choose a pattern and walked me through the traditional methods of folding and cutting, basting and stitching.  I thoroughly enjoyed the traditional wisdom and ease of learning.  Being a booklearner usually, it was wonderful to just be guided along.... (and, I admit, a little gratifying to be not too far off the mark!)

This is the block I started in that class - applique is complete!

See..... I do have all there books - and there is another by Elizabeth Root peeking out from behind.  Her designs are definitely simpler but I kind of like the tradional ones better.

Below is one of the two ones I originally cut out (also a Poakalani design)

I finished the applique during my handwork week.  I have one more ready to applique... which will make FOUR total.  I think I will work on a design for a quilt that is mostly these 22-inch blocks..... maybe I will feel competent enough to do a size larger one for the center?  We will see.....

Anyway - I also chose some designs for moving forward.. and cut out ONE to baste next time....

I will let you guess what it will look like.....  show you next Hawaiian post!

What are you stitching?

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Salt & Herbs.... Success....

Oh my goodness... so so easy!

My only personal issue is that we use very little salt.... so my salt-herb mixes are too salty!  But I am working on them!

Celery Salt

I have some celery leaves in the fridge that I will dry and add to this until I get the combo right to suit me!  At least I have learned how to effectively dry herbs....  I am going to be so ready for the summer bounty :-)

Basil Salt

I have already doubled the basil in this one and not ground it up yet.  I am dreaming of summer tomatoes and basil salt!

And Parsley - Garlic - Scallion

Prepping the herbs and veggies for this one makes the whole house smell like GARLIC!  This is partially ground with my lovely new mortar and pestle....    I am working today on getting more herbs into the parsley salt mix.

Chopped parsley, garlic and scallions.... sprinkled with a bit of the salt mixture and drying in the oven....  at the lowest oven setting for 20  min or so... and then just turn off the oven and come back later....  maybe cook some more :-)  Until the leaves and veggies are crumbly.


oh yes....

I took one of my little salty key limes and diced it up into my Avocado Tomato Salad...  Whoopee!  Loved it!  It will take some practice to get the combo right - but what a nice addition to the flavor!

Food in Jars - Salted Citrus.... Success, I think! Post 3

Original articles are at these links:

Post 1

Post 2

Final Products - TA DA!

Salt Preserved Limes

 The one on the left is my very first one.  They are basic limes from the grocery store.  I took the instruction to pack the salt very literally!  But I have read enough conflicting instructions to know that I didn't ruin it :-)  I did use one lime quarter - rinsed - muddled in some ginger ale.  And it is really good.... I think it will be terrific in a mixed drink :-)  It tastes like you are adding salty lime... truly.  Might be a blessed addition to a Margarita!

The one on the right is made from organic key limes - with a lot less salt!  Both jars needed to be topped off with bottled lime juice to keep the fruit submerged.  I haven't tried these yet - but I plan to chop one up and add to an avocado-tomato salad and see how that goes.

Salt Preserved Meyer Lemons & Chanh Muối  (Chang Moo-ee)

The Salt Preserved Lemons are in the jar on the left.  The Chanh Moui is on the right.  The Chanh Moui has been sitting out for a couple of weeks - I put the others in the fridge because I got nervous.  I am convinced now that they would be fine left out as well.  One more week left for the Chanh Moui before it is ready to make Vietnamese Salty Lemonade....  since the limes worked, I am pretty sure this will work too!

and... Salt Preserved Grapefruit with Cloves and Peppercorns

 Absolutely beautiful and smells heavenly.  The only problem is that I have not one idea what to do with it!  I think I may need to find a chef to use these wonderful goodies I am creating.

Seriously - I am an uninspired cook.  When I ask for ideas to use these things.... I get people waxing enthusiastic about Moroccan this... and Tuscan that.... and I appreciate the help.  But as one who is mostly accustomed to tossing chicken in a crockpot.... I think I need a little more direction :-)  As I navigate this conundrum, I will share my discoveries...

*************** Oh - along that line, I did find something helpful for me the other night....  I have had a jar of pesto languishing in my pantry for almost a year.  I bought it because I like pesto.  It sat the pantry because I didn't know what to do with it!

but I found this: Slow Cooker Pesto Spinach Lasagna

A little skittish because I am not generally a fan of greens in things (I like greens but I like them raw), I tried it because I am trying to use up my pantry items.  And it is a WINNER!  And now I have a dish to use my pesto AND add a bunch of spinach.. that I like!  Of course it made a ton and I have a good bit in my freezer now.... so.. the pesto kind of moved from the pantry to the freezer... but it is ready to use and will not stay there long :-)

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Food in Jars Mastery Challenge - Salt Preserving Take 2

Okay.... I'm still not sure about this skill... BUT

the challenge is still on!

I found some beautiful Meyer lemons in the grocery store today - well, Walmart of all places!  And organic key limes....  so.. here I go again!

The basic recipe is for salt preserved lemons.... and people seem to prefer Meyer lemons.  [seriously - I thought lemons were lemons]

And I followed the instructions carefully.

The lemons were really juicy - the limes were not.  I did use pint jars so I would end up with a smaller amount.

I put them together - and this is what I had:

These lovelies are supposed to sit out for 3-4 days... and I am to shake them... maybe poke and prod to release more juice.   In theory by Day 4, they should be submerged in juice.   Some recipes say to add more juice... some say to put in the fridge.... I'm not sure so I will take this day by day and see what happens.

I had also found another possibility for salt and lemons that intrigued me - a Vietnamese pickled citrus used to make a salty drink with clear soda - like ginger ale.  I used this recipe:

This one is filled with a salty brine so it already has a lot of liquid... and it is supposed to sit out for three weeks to ferment.

Jar #1 that was put in the fridge - the limes still are not submerged in juice.  I brought it out to hang with the others.  I will poke at it today and decide whether to put more juice on them or not!

Since this is a grand experiment, I think I will leave them all on the table and watch them each day.... I'll share with you what happens!

Friday, February 10, 2017

Food in Jars Challenge - Salt and Herbs... Take 2

So.. I made celery salt....

and I made basil salt....

My latest foray to the grocery store brought me parsley, scallions and garlic..

In all my concoctions, though - for me - I think there is more salt than herb and I'm not sure that will work for me.  Today I plan to double up..... I have more celery leaves..... and I have more of the parsley, scallions and garlic..   I am going to dry all that and add the herbs to my salt mixes!

What I love most about this project is that it only takes little bits of produce and salt - and is a bit of recycling / upcycling.

I saw lots of ideas for citrus salts that might make wonderful gifts.... and a process where I zest the orange I am about to eat - and use that zest from a rind I would throw away....  is appealing to me.   Zest the rind with a grater....  let the zest dry (either naturally or in the oven) while you eat the orange! ... add salt and there ya go!

Also - another salt project I did NOT do (yet :-) is Herbs Salee - a combination of many herbs preserved with salt..... more salt preserved herbs than herbed salt.  I think this will be a fantastic idea in the summer when the garden overflows with parsley, oregano, rosemary, basil and all the other herb bounty.

Since it is now February, I really don't want to purchase enough of these to make up the product.   [But then, this is me we are talking about... I may find something intriguing while I shop!]

BTW.....  the preserved limes I was worrying about the other day....

The liquid level is rising now! 

The newer ones still look the same

I guess I just need to have faith :-)  They still smell heavenly so I think I am still in business :-)

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Food in Jars mastery Challenge - Salt Preserving Herbed Salts

So now to try the herbed salt.  That sounds do able.

I will pick up some basil next time I am in the store - I could see using a salt-basil mix in Italian foods.... or maybe on a fresh summer tomato?

But today - I will use the celery in my fridge.

All those little leafy bits that I usually chop up for salads and soups...


Chopped finely...

Laid out on a cookie sheet and put in the oven at the lowest setting to dry.  (Instructions say you can leave it out open to dry in the air - but with pets and dust... nah... I'll use the oven)

I checked it every 10 minutes or so.. stirred it around...

I roughly covered the celery with salt... stirred it around.... and added more til it looked right to me. (sorry - that is how I measured!) 

And it smells divine!

The thing I need to figure out how to do is crush the celery leaves more for a consistent texture to my salt.  I used a finer sea salt - which may have been an error aesthetically.  Certainly this is still good - but it might be prettier if the salt & celery were a similar size...

Getting basil ready to dry now......mmmm.... thinking summer ripe tomato with Basil salt....   this is something that could be addictive!

What do you think you would use to make salt?

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Weekly Finish! Pillowcases and Curtains..

I promised the older grandkids pillowcases a month ago!  Snow themed - the three oldest chose their own fabrics....  those who know the kids can probably guess whose is whose!

My machine was in the shop getting its annual cleaning and tune-up for about three weeks... so it's been mostly handwork.  It's BACK and I am getting going again!

I am SO glad to get these done!   4 snowy pillowcases for the 4 oldest grands...

But wait there's more!!

Bathroom curtains....  for way too long we have had curtains that were too short!

and... whoops!  These are longer but still too short!

 I will leave them for now.....

I sense a design change coming.....

need longer curtains for sure....

What would you do?

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

February Food In Jars Mastery Challenge - Salt Preserving Take 1

When I heard the topic of the month - salt preserving - I had no clue.  Seriously.

And it got worse.

Salt preserved lemons.  Lemons?  Really?  And then what?  What on earth can I do with these?  I read lots of suggestions for Moroccan this and Mediterranean that... and homemade salad dressing (on my list for some day)... and anywhere I would put a little citrus. 

Sorry... uninspired cook here.  If it isn't made in a crockpot, I'm already stretching my limits :-)  Well... canning.... I do like to can.

I did a little more research... and decided... limes.  At least limes and salt sound like margaritas...  that might work.  I can do margaritas :-)

And herbed salts sound cool..  of course I don't use much salt so - again - a stretch!  BUT at least this sounds like it could last for a while or be gift worthy :-) 

So... I bought limes.... and put this together:

I think I might have already posted this pic....  I shook it.... and poked it... and a couple of days later, I started freaking out and put the last of my bottled lime juice in it.  And now it is in my fridge.

I'm frustrated and I don't know what I am doing....   or why :-(

Time to sit back a day or two and regroup.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

WIP - Handwork - New Hexagon Rosette 1

I spend most of my evenings doing handwork and watching either television or dvds.  This year, my focus is more on sewing than crocheting.

Each week I am working on a different project trying to make headway on all of the ones I've stalled on.

This last week I spent on the Millefiore Quilt Along I started this year.   In a nutshell, I will be creating hexagons and sewing them together into rosettes.  All by hand.  the end result is a quilt that looks like a kaleidoscope (or one of those Venetian glass paperweights known as millefiori [which means Thousand Flowers in Italian]

The patterns come from Katje Marek's book New Hexagon and she also hosts the

It's made in smaller sections - rosettes.  I've decided for each rosette - to choose a floral pattern in a similar color scheme as that in the instructions.  Hampered a little by choosing from my stash only!  This will be a "free" quilt made from leftovers or fabric unused for some reason...

So - for the first one, I chose a floral that I love... it's bright!  I've used it in a Lovers Knot (sandwiched but not quilted) and in the Sister's Choice quilt I made for my sister

 The hot pink was used in my granddaughter's dresses.. and the green came in a bag of scraps somebody gave me.

By the end of the week I got to the third round of four:

..and have the next round all prepped and ready to sew!  See the little sandwich bags?  Those are the prepared pieces for the next round of hexagons!

Fabrics:  Let's see.... the outer round.... center peach is a solid of an uncertain age :-) (I have no idea where it came from!), the darker peach I bought once when trying to add this color to my stash, the darker orange I bought for my grandson's quilt I made in 2015, and the fuschia is a recent purchase for Bonnie Hunter's latest mystery - En Provence.  I did it when it was a free mystery quilt and now it is available as a paid pattern!  (still working on it!  I will share another day)

I also have - ready for basting... the bags of pieces for the Rosette # 2 -

I keep forgetting to mention the WHY of so much handwork this year.... travelling!  I expect that we will be doing a good bit of travelling this year so I want to make sure that - at any given time - I have sandwich bags of things to work on.  As you can see from the note above - ONE week of dedicated work got me ALMOST through the first rosette.

Anyway - Handwork Progress!   Next week - the Hawaiian quilt project :-)

What are you up to?

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Home Days....

I feel so much like I'm getting little done these days.....

We've both had colds.. staggered a few days apart so the progress is predictable for me - since my husband got it first! 

Today I woke up to a day I always look forward to - a day at home!  So much to do... so much I WANT to do....  I felt almost normal yesterday so I had great hopes for today.  I planned to SEW. ALL. DAY. 

It seems like home days are either 'very productive' or 'at loose ends'.   It was all about 'loose ends' today!

We got up, walked the dog... got my husband out the door to a meeting..... and..... whoop!  the bottom fell out.  I was already pooped.  Didn't feel particularly bad... just pooped.

And, added to that... I think I told you my sewing machine had been in the shop?  Well, it's been a week - and I still haven't gotten back to it.  So.. where to start?

I looked at the cutting table.... 

I must admit..... this does not making me feel like working!  My friends here are not much help!

there is a) getting back to piecing and b) NON-quilting sewing I have promised to do.  B is really where I should start because there are things there promised to GRANDS.  And those promises are sacred.  4 SNOW-themed pillowcases, 3 dresses, curtains for my bathroom and sheets to de-construct for curtains for a granddaughter.   The granddaughter-curtain things morphed into a long discussion with my daughter about the fabrics and her desires and so forth...

So - during that computer chat (she was at work), I decided to take a little time to work on downsizing my marmalade tasting jars instead while I was thinking about it.  I have 8 (8?) pint jars of marmalades in my fridge + one half pint that didn't seal.  I decided to use up my quarter-pint jars sealing the different varieties on the off chance I can sell a jar or two.  I am preparing for a tasting day... so want to have labelled half-pints open for tasting instead of random leftovers from my fridge :-)

Two batches with the canner...... no more partial pints loose in the fridge......  10 new tiny quarter-pint sealed jars & 2 half-pints

Also started my first batch of limes while I was there....

I'm not sure I did it right...... but we will see.  First one is always an experiment!  (I chose limes because I think guacamole and margaritas are a possibility!  I hate to make something I cannot imagine using... and I can't find anything I would do with salted lemons yet.  I found lots of ideas but I don't really cook a lot so am a little stuck!)

 ... and I figured a direction to move in for resuming sewing.

In the curtain conversation.. I will find different fabrics for the curtains and we will use the sheet fabric to make a sort of curtain for under her top bunk... a play house of sorts...  And we chose fabric for me to find..... so there we go.

Tonight my son and his fiance will come over for Friday night dvd watching... so it's a good time to pin pillowcases, and deconstruct sheets, and other mending sorts of things....  Will update you on that later!  Hope you had a great day!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Marmalade Wrap-Up part 2 :-)

OKay - I didn't exactly stop making marmalade....

I still had enough oranges for a second batch of plain Orange marmalade (if you remember, my first batch was pretty much syrup)....

This one did really well - except that cheap thermometer never did hit the required 220 degrees.  But the freezer-plate test worked for the set :-)

and then.... random citrus in my larder is on its way to being Five Fruit marmalade.  Don't you just love being able to search the internet?  I was just thinking about the citrus I had left and what kind of marmalade might work.... and found it!  Grapefruit, lemon, lime, orange and clementine.....  pretty tasty :-)

And an orange that will be eaten today!

I have a few more recipes to try later on.... but am really through for now... I think.   Total production was 4 cases of half pints, 8 quarter pints...... and a tasting jar of each in the fridge.  And only one jar out of all that had a seal that didn't take. 

Time to turn my brain to February's salt preserving challenge....

Friday, January 27, 2017

Marmalade Wrap-Up

Funny thing about me and projects...  I do jump in head first!

At the grocery store yesterday, I popped in for just a few items... but found myself lingering at the citrus display....   I haven't made marmalade with blood oranges yet - or cara cara...  and I did find a recipe for lime coconut that intrigues me...

But I slapped my hands, remembering that I still do have a few fruits still at home - and I need the pleasure of a wrap-up!  [though I did promise myself that NEXT week.. if I still feel the same way.... I will buy the blood oranges!  ... or the cara cara... or something :-)]

What is marmalade?
According to
a jellylike preserve in which small pieces of fruit and fruit rind, as of oranges or lemons, are suspended."
or - in my words - Preserves (or jam) made with citrus fruit
I like the idea - it means I'm not throwing out the rind.  Less waste, right?
I do need to find more ideas for citrus peel!  Anyway - back to marmalade and what I learned....
There are several ways to prepare the fruit.... depending on the  thickness of the membranes (the 'skin; between the fruit segments) and the pith (that bitter white stuff between the outer rind and the fruit).  A good contrast would be a grapefruit - with tough membranes and thick bitter pith we do not usually eat.. and a naval orange which we peel the rind off and eat everything else.

My personal preferences for preparing (isn't it cool to have tried so many techniques that you now have a preference?) are as follows:

                            a) **Most favorite because it is the easiest!
                                     Chop up the whole fruit right away

                             b)  Boil the entire fruit... then cut up when cool

                             c) Supreme the fruit (cut off the two ends, stand up and carefully slice off rind, cut off pith, and then section out fruit)

C is my favorite for the fruits with thick membranes.  B can work with any type of citrus.

You always reserve the extra stuff (membranes, pith and seeds) because they are the natural source of pectin that will cause the marmalade to thicken.  [so you won't need to add pectin!)
I learned about weighing fruit and using thermometer (still don't have a kitchen scale though)

   The weighing is important because you add sugar to the fruit cup for pound (1 cup sugar to 1 pound fruit).  I weighed and purchased at the store for these recipes.  But I did find several recipes that added sugar cup for cup (1 cup sugar to 1 cup processed fruit) and I found that to work for me.

    The thermometer - in theory, marmalade sets (becomes gel-like) at 220 degrees F.  I have an inexpensive candy thermometer that only hit 220F once.  I still do better with my eyes.. and the freezer plate method (you keep a plate in the freezer and drop a bit of the cooking marmalade on it.... if it doesn't RUN down the plate, it's ready)  So I kind of fell back upon my personal experience of how the jam mixture changes as it cooks!

I learned that I DO like marmalade :-)

I learned that I need to buy more quarter-pint jars because that is a better size for gifting and for my personal use (of jam stuff)  Today I am going to down size my tasting jars by canning some quarter pints.

and.. am really enjoying the Food Mastery Challenge.  Let's see how many months I can do this - bring on the SALT PRESERVING for February (whatever that is) .  

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Batch #6 Honey-Lemon Marmalade

Still marmalad-ing!

Honey-Lemon Marmalade in Marisa McClellan's Preserving by the Pint  was next up on my agenda...

This recipe called for ANOTHER way to cut the fruit.....

slicing both ends off the lemon
   standing it on end and cutting 6 wedges
     cutting out the membrane and then laying the wedge rind side UP to slice..

I did one that way but it was a little tricky.... I did the rest with the supreming method I explained in an earlier post.. EXCEPT I left the pith (because I saw nothing in the first recipe saying to remove it)

I must say that 4.5 pounds of lemons is a LOT :-)  But I weighed it out in the grocery store - because I still don't have a food scale here at home...

Day 1 was slicing all that fruit (about 10 lemons)

Day 2  I made the marmalade - which was relatively uneventful - except for running out of my half pint jars.  I had a few quarter-pint ones though so I used those.  They might actually be better for gifting.. hmm...

I found the little 'Actually I Can' block in the clearance section at Joann's Fabric some time ago...  I keep it handy when my brain says "I couldn't do that!"      like ..... making marmalade :-)

The one thing I learned - for me - is that I need to take out the pith.  The product is a bit bitter for me though still tasty.

Today was the last day to enter the Food Mastery Challenge.. and I chose to enter the Cranberry Clementine marmalade.

I have to admit that I still have a grapefruit, a couple of lemons and 7 oranges in the house.... will we eat them or will I marmalade them?

I'll let you know!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Marmalade - Batch #5 - Cherry Limeade Marmalade

So... today's marmalade adventure is Cherry Limeade marmalade..... which sounded awesome when I first found it!

The only real downside is the cost of frozen cherries... 2 pounds of them... yikes!  This had better be good :-)

This is the basic recipe.......  Cherry Key Lime Marmalade

I changed it up just a little... first off..... lemon verbena stems?  Really?  I can honestly say that these are not at my local Food Lion.... which is 30 minutes away AND the closest store.... so... yep - left them out.   I wondered about giving the mix a spritz of lemon juice - but then decided to just do without.

I also used regular limes because that is what I found.

And the recipe called for cutting the limes in half and then slicing thinly.  I did that - for 8 limes - and cooked as directed.  But while they were cooling in the fridge overnight, I decided the rind pieces were larger than I liked.....  so this morning, I chopped them up more finely.

I must say, my cherry-lime mixture on the stove smells divine.... enough that I starting singing the Lime & Coconut song...... and started thinking about a lime & coconut marmalade... hmm.......  I wonder if that would work....

....and then .... I got distracted here writing... and scorched it!  I sprang into action and dumped it into another pan to keep cooking - lowered the temp of the burner... and scraped all the burned mess into the garbage disposal :-(    I got a new oven for Thanksgiving and am still figuring out the dual burner thing on the top.   I try not to walk away from something cooking without a timer on but apparently did forget that this time!

At any rate - I think it is salvaged.... and I will know later.

It's pretty anyway - and I have a tasting jar in the fridge too.

I must say - the Orange-Ginger Marmalade I scorched the other day doesn't have any of that scorch flavor today so... cross your fingers!

I think though - if I do make another batch today - it will be later on when I decide to babysit it better!  I have one more recipe to try but I need to get some lemons.  I do have enough oranges in the house to make another basic batch and redo the syrupy #1 batch with it - so that WAS my plan.....   I will decide later and add a post script if I do it!

Tomorrow I have an appointment in town so will get the lemons and more seals and jars... and honey, too I think..  The Lemon-honey marmalade sounds awesome - particularly this time of year when everybody is sick - it sounds like it would be a great add-in for hot tea.


ps..... I did NOT make another batch of marmalade..... It was a foggy misty day and I settled in to watch some dvds and stitch on my kaleidoscope hexagon project..... which I will share more about in another post.....

Sunday, January 22, 2017

WIP - Flower garden #1 2017

It's not just marmalade happening here - though it seems like it!

My sewing machine is in the shop for maintenance so all machine projects are on hold!  I am finishing up a week of working on my Grandmother's Flower garden - with English paper piecing.

So - handwork.  I am thinking this year - when I am at home, I will be working on several handwork projects so will prob focus on something different each week.  At the moment for the Grandmother hexy project, I do have several flowers completed and am sewing them together in twos.

 I spent last week working on them and will have completed two by the end of the day to have a total of 8 sets of two.  I think I will need about 30 whole flowers for the quilt and some halves.... so am currently shooting for 15 sets of two flowers before I go further.  I am hoping that doing it in segments will make joining all 30+ of them a little less daunting at the end.

I know we will be traveling a bit this year - and the English paper piecing projects travel well - so I have been creating little sandwich bags with hexagons ready for assembly.  I can make the flowers on the road - and do the assembling at home.

I have more projects going on that I will write about as time progresses.

I do want to get my blog up and running again.  I seem to have somehow lost my voice in the last few years.

Food in Jars Mastery - Marmalade #3 (Three Citrus) and #4 (Cranberry Clementine)

I was lucky enough to have the whole day today to stay home so I could play with my marmalade making!

The next recipe was Three Citrus marmalade - also from Marisa McClellan's Food in Jars.   For this recipe, the rinds of the fruits I used needed a little more prepping.  With straight orange marmalade, you use all of the fruit, rind and all, in the jam (not seeds!).  But in this recipe, I also used lemon and grapefruit... both of which have a lot more of the white layer between the fruit and the peel (pith).  That layer is very bitter, so it's not good in the actual jam.  BUT you do save it and the seeds and wrap it up in cheesecloth to cook with. 

Somewhere in my marmalade research  [sorry I can't remember now but will add the link when I find it again,] I also learned how to get the fruit sections out and leave the membranes behind - it's called 'supreming'.   New word, new technique - go me!

Anyway - last night I actually peeled the fruits as a first step to the preparation.  This morning, I actually supremed and cut up the fruit and made the marmalade.

I think this batch is just right!  And I love the flavor... you can really taste the grapefruit.  (My little fox kept me company today as I played!)

Second batch for today was sort of accidental..... just the other day, my husband (the clementine eater) mentioned that he was really tired of eating them..... and, since they are citrus and I am in marmalade mode. I decided to hunt down a recipe.  And voila.... Cranberry Clementine Marmalade!  Perfect since I had cranberries left in the freezer from the holidays!  Win-win for using up!

I was tired though and didn't do this exactly as directed.... the instructions said to put the fruit itself in the cheesecloth bag along with the pith.   It didn't make much sense to me since there really isn't much pith to a clementine.   So I used the bag for the lemons... but the fruit of both the lemons and the clementines got chopped right up into the marmalade.

The jars are really pretty!   The spread is fruity-chunky..... and nice and tart.  My tasting jar is on the right.... Can't wait to finish my project and have a tasting party!

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Food in Jars Mastery Challenge - January = Marmalade

In early January I ran across a random post about a Food in Jars Mastery Challenge... by one of my favorite canning gurus..... and the event sang to me :-)   I enjoy canning... and the thought of a monthly canning adventure?  Well...  yeah... I'm in....

This month is marmalade.

My memories of marmalade are exactly two.....

     When I was a child, my sister used to make it and I hated it
      Paddington the Bear loves it.   [children's literature is a FAVE hobby] 

Check out Paddington from Amazon here   [I do get a little kick-back when you click through here and purchase]

And in my own inimitable fashion...... I started on the internet.... gathering recipes and info.

First up, the Mastery Challenge site has plenty of instructions - which you should read carefully [and I did not :-)]   But I did start with their basic recipe for Small Batch Orange Marmalade....

   Mine is lovely.......

But it didn't set - so currently it is syrup :-)   I am sure there are things I can do with it but I'm not sure yet so I plan to do another batch of this later and add this syrup for a do over!  I don't use pectin in my jams so sometimes it takes a batch or two to get into the rhythm of having the right consistency.  

The second batch was a little better..... Orange-Ginger Marmalade.  Still not quite the right set... but a bit of scorch so I got it off the heat as soon as I realized!  Again, flavor is reasonable - not too burned :-) .... still learning...

I do have one jar of each open in the fridge for tasters!  I will have to make some fresh bread to enjoy this with :-)

Batch 3 fruit is being prepped now..... stay tuned!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Food in Jars Mastery Challenge

Oohhh... a new project!

January brings me doldrums...... it's a fallow time of year when it takes all my energy to get out of bed in the morning...   My world feels gray.  Most of the time....

But one of the things that always perks me up is learning new things..... provided it catches my interest :-)

I haven't done any canning in a few months - so maybe that is why the Food in Jars Mastery Challenge grabbed me this year.

And January's challenge is marmalade.  Which I have never made.  So there ya go...

The other months - some I am familiar with, some I am not... so a good mix.. and the challenge author / sponsor will have instructions for me.  I'm kind of excited.... so watch and wait and see what happens.   

I included the month's listings below..... some I have absolutely no clue... so this should be entertaining!

Calendar of Preserving Skills
January – Marmalade
February – Salt Preserving
March – Jelly
April – Quick Pickles
May – Cold Pack Preserving
June – Jam
July – Hot Pack Preserving
August – Low Temperature Pasteurization
September – Fruit Butter
October – Drying and Dehydration OR Pressure Canning
November – Fermentation
December – Fruit Pastes