Friday, November 9, 2012

Dried Apples for Food Storage and Winter Snackin'

A canners dream. A lug of apples or pears, spray free and picked that morning for $8! Two please! put them up. First thing was dried apples.

Wash, core (I don't usually usually core tiny apples), and slice your apples. You can peel but being spray free I didn't bother.

To keep your apples from browning when drying, you may choose to pre-treat. This is mostly for aesthetic reasons, but it can also help your apples to retain more Vitamin A. I skipped this step but I actually do it most of the time. As you slice, toss them in a large bowl or pot with:

  • 1 cup lemon juice and 2 quarts water 

  • 2 Tablespoons absorbic acid in 2 quarts water

Make sure they aren't in there for more than 10 minutes. Soggy apples are no good. Pat dry and pop on the dehydrator. Each one varies but mine took 16-24 hours. Some took the lesser, some more depending on their size. Look for leathery fruit with no stickiness or visible water when cut in half. Cool. Seal up in jars, vaccum pack bags, or Ziplocs. Keeps for 6 months sealed in a cool dark place, up to a year in the freezer.

You can also try them in the oven. Instructions are here, here, and here.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Handstitched Projects for Real Deal Bedrest

No more half a*s bedrest.
I didn't realize how much I've begun popping up and "just getting a little something done". The dishes in the dishwasher are not important. A half done bun in the oven...very important. It's not that I've HAD to it's just so hard NOT to! We are just 6 months along and continuing to having a gazillion contractions. My Fisherman's dear Mom has come up for the week and will be both keeping me company and generally helping get things caught up. My own wonderful mother, caring friends, and The Fisherman himself have all been wonderful. It's really I who haven't asked for the help I've been needing.  *There are baking, canning, and general busy-ness posts already photographed and scheduled to be shared but I promise I'm taking it easy*

So...this week I'll be working on the following projects:

Embroidered cuckoo clock from Little Dear Tracks. I'm particularly excited about this one!

400 pom poms. These are darling book marks by Design Mom but I'll be making little red pom poms for an upcoming holiday garland project.

Some variation of these gorgeous handstitched Frida Kahlo embroideries. Fabric and Embroidery Hoop by nicolemonjeau , all felt Hoop by BirdFace, Frida pattern by laceandsparrow.

What's up for your week? I'd love to hear!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Hearty Lentil Soup with Kale

Sometimes, my soup starts out with a theme. Like...lentils. Most often, simmering pots on the stove are the result of what needs to be cooked up in the fridge, pulled from the garden, and what I came home from the farmers market with. I rarely follow the same recipe twice. Don't have potatoes handy but the celery needs to be used up? Use it! Only have two carrots but ten pounds of potatoes? You know what to do. Throw them in the pot! Follow this recipe loosely. Don't run to the market for another carrot or kale. Use what you have and enjoy.

3 TB olive oil
3 cloves garlic, smashed
3 large onions, chopped (about 1.5 cups)
4 carrots (about 3/4 cup)
3 medium potatoes, chopped (about 2 cups)
1-2tsp kosher salt
1 pound lentils, rinsed and picked through
2-3 quarts chicken or vegetable stock (water will do in a pinch)
             *I use 2 for a hearty soup, use 3 if you prefer soupier soup
1tsp cumin
1/2tsp coriander
salt and pepper to taste
1 small bunch kale

Optional Add-ins:
1 ham bone will add soooo much flavor
sliced chorizo (you can see some in the pot)
crumbled, cooked bacon
leftover ham
1/2cup chopped celery
1cup tomatoes or 1 15oz can tomatoes
more of this, less of that

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or pot.
Add onions, garlic, carrots, potatoes, and salt. Cook 8-10 ten minutes.

Add lentils, stock, cumin, coriander, and any meat you might be adding. Turn it up to high heat and bring to a boil. Turn the heat back down to simmer 30 minutes, until lentils are tender.
 I prefer UNcovered to great a super hearty soup, covered will retain more liquid.

Add kale, simmer another 5-10 minutes. Enjoy! For more of my favorite recipes, follow along with my Pinterest board, Eat!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Little Chick Thrifty Quilt- in progress

This isn't your average quilt. It's thrifty and easy. I know you can do this and if you have actual quilting doubt even better. But if you have no experience but can stitch a stitch- you can make this, too.

I used:
a thrifted sheet with embroidered trim, cut into 42" square
wool blanket someone had washed and tossed in the dryer- super soft!
found doily and sweet hanky I stitched with one of my favorite embroidery patterns you can see here, Aunt Martha's 3753

Lay 'em out, stitch 'em up!
Place your scrappy bits (lace, trim, doilies, hankies, etc) on your top sheet until you have the look you want. Sew in place.

Now, lay your blanket right side DOWN on your kitchen floor. Layer your sheet on top, right side UP. Pin and smooth, pin and smooth. You want to make sure you don't stitch any lumps in place.

I used my acrylic ruler that happened to be four inches wide to draw lines across the quilt with a disappearing ink pen. Hand stitch (or machine) down each line.

The blanket is almost done! I still need to make the binding (using this method) and bind it. Bedrest has me stitching up a storm but no able to dash off for the perfect fabric for the trim. I'm a big believer in using what you have but I want a certain something not in my collection of fabrics. We'll see if I hold out for a fabric shop run or make do! I'll post the finished quilt soon. For more crafty ideas, follow along with my Pinterest board, Handmade and Handmade Embroidery!
What are you working up lately?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Happy Fall! My Hopes for the Season

Enjoying breakfast on the porch this morning.

It's the day after Halloween! Time to get started planning and making holiday goodness. This is the first holiday season as a family for my Fisherman and I, plus the wee one on the way. Being on bedrest, moderate or not, it's a humbling chance to slow down. Soak up the season. Enjoy tiny moments. My hopes for celebrating the season:

  • not spend any money on decorations, including a Christmas tree. use what we have, make the rest, use nature to bring the season inside. 
  • purge even more of my own holiday decoration collection 
  • make a short list of simple gifts to make and share and stick to it. 
  • spend time on handmade cards. mail early.
  • above all else: keep it simple and roll with it.
Bam. That's really just about it. How do you hope to celebrate this season?

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Embroidery Projects- finished!

A couple of weeks ago I shared a handful of stitchery projects I was working on. Well, I finished them up and a few more, too!

                                                   Aunt Martha's 3753 Barnyard Happenings

another pick from Aunt Martha's Hooty Owls #3771
a happy little whale. not sure where I found him.

What projects are you working on? For more of my favorite embroidery ideas and patterns, follow along with my Pinterest board: Handmade, Embroidery!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Easy Gnome Costume with a Vampire Bonus

This isn't really a tutorial. It's an idea you can easily re-create.
A few years ago, I was a gnome. One of my guys was a vampire. Easiest. Costume. Ever.
For the mere hefty price of some super realistic glue in fangs and a black jacket, you have one instant costume. I know. It's been done. Because it's pretty darn good and easy.

A friend was going to be a gnome and had some great ideas on the basics. We split up the sewing, each making two of the same piece. Easy peasy! Share the work or spend a couple of hours whipping up the basics.

The Basics:

  • red felt cone hat (tutorial here, and here, 
  • beard (tutorials here, and here )
  • peasant blouse
  • wide leather belt or sash cut from brown fabric and tied
  • rain boots, faux boots, brown shoes or just forget the bottom half 'cause people will see the hat and the beard and smile and that is enough for me. 
Bam. You are a gnome!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Roasted Garlic Tomato Marinara

It's the close of tomato season, even here on the mild Central Coast. And yet...I somehow scored twenty pounds of small, sweet tomatoes at our local Farmers Market for $20! This could not be passed up. The first round of tomato madness was Roasted Tomato and Garlic Marinara. Oh, my heavens. This is flavor packed!

Ready to make some sauce? Let's go!

This recipe can easily be doubled, even quadrupled!

2 quarts (about 8 cups) tomatoes. really big pieces, I only halved these small tomatoes
2 onions, cut into 1/8th's
3 cloves garlic, smashed
2 Tablespoon fresh oregano
2 Tablespoons fresh thyme
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (red wine or vegetable stock works great, too)
1 teaspoon salt
sprinkle with pepper
Preheat oven to 425.
Keeping the ingredients in large pieces saves tons of time! I never seed my tomatoes but go ahead if you prefer.

Spread everything out on a roasted pan or half sheet pan with a lip to contain the juices.
Roast for about an hour, stirring things up half way through. I roasted one pan for an hour, and a second for 90 minutes simply for my own convenience.
Now you can use an immersion blender (after putting it in a bowl), your blender, or as I did- throw it all in the food processor. Don't forget to add all of those flavor packed tidbits in the pan. Scrape them in, too. We like a chunky sauce around here so just a few pulses and it's done. Blend longer for a smoother sauce.

You can use your pressure canner for shelf stable storage, and a pretty pretty pantry. I haven't checked the seals on my pressure canner this season and chose to freeze in jars this round. Fill wide mouth mason jars with 1" head space. Flash freeze to allow for full expansion before sealing with lid and ring. Remember to label with name and date. Enjoy! For more of my favorite recipes, follow along with my Pinterest board: Eat!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Little Embroidery Projects

Just a few things I've been working on in my abundant down time. I've been embroidering anything that will stand still long enough for me to get some stitches in! What have you been working on?
Aunt Martha's 3753 Barnyard Happenings

Just starting this little guy and haven't decided what color he'll be. Colorful is my go-to combo but he might be all in Blackwork...
Aunt Martha's 3771 Hooty Owls

Baby bumps are darn handy.
For more of my favorite embroidery ideas, follow along with my Pinterest board: Handmade- Embroidery!
Update: Whew. See the finished embroidery here!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Freezing Fresh Eggs for Winter

The girls have not even begun to slow down and not sure how much they really will. After all, it's late October and 80 degrees today! Still, this bounty of eggs can't last all winter as even our hardy hens will need to slow and give themselves a break. Green beans and strawberry jam from the garden- no problem. But eggs? I found a few resources and gave it a whirl. When eggs are on super sale or your own flock is laying like crazy, consider putting some up for later and you'll never find yourself running to the market mid recipe.
1. Crack however many eggs you intend to freeze into a bowl.

2. Optional: Add 1 teaspoon of sugar/honey or salt per full cup of eggs. Sweet for baking, salty for savory cooking. This is to prevent graininess in the yolk when thawed. Not sure if it's necessary but better safe than sorry. Be sure to LABEL which one is sweet/salty!

3. Whisk to combine and mix the yolk with the egg, ever so slightly. You don't want to mix air in, just combine.

4. Measure out in 3TB increments. 3TB equals 1 large egg. Quite handy as our chickens lay more medium size than large and all my recipes call for large. The teeny weeny 4oz jars perfectly held 6TB or 2 large eggs, with plenty of head room to freeze without cracking the jar. I also used a salsa jar, 1/2 pint size with wide mouth, for 3 eggs and it was a good fit.

5. Freeze. If freezing in solid containers, glass or plastic, flash freeze before you put the lid on. Pop them in the freezer till they are hard and expand so they don't crack the jar. Usually takes a couple of hours. Then put on the lid AND LABEL for storage.

6. Defrost in the fridge and you are ready to roll. Use 'em up within 6 months.
I tried freezing in the ice cube tray (each little nook held 2TB) but couldn't get them back out! Defrosted and made a scrumptious frittata but still. Will not be doing that again.
That orangey richness is one heck of a lot of beta carotene.

Handy sources for slightly different takes on freezing eggs and other homestead advice:
The Prairie Homestead

Fresh Eggs Daily

Mother Earth News

The Incredible Edible Egg

For more ideas on keeping chickens, follow along with my Pinterest board: Chickens and Garden!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Vintage Book Bunting

I know it's not even Halloween but it's never too early to start getting ready for Christmas. The bias tape was made in one long Saturday of sewing heaven using a lovely tutorial by Coletterie Patterns (see link below). You are going to want to spend some time on this blog. Bite size tidbits to help your sewing skills grow.
Green Eggs and Ham with a damaged cover becomes a cheery bunting instead!

Coletterie Bias Tape Tutorial. Start with this one until it really clicks.
Then kick out your bias tape quick with this more advance method for continuous bias tape here.

For more of my favorite paper crafting ideas, follow along with my Pinterest board: Handmade- Paper!

Friday, October 19, 2012

How to Make an Owl Cupcake DIY

 A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I had a cupcake company. This little cupcake tutorial was shared on my former cupcake blog and I'd like to share it with you here and now. Owl cupcakes. Happy Fall!

  • cupcakes. any flavor. mine are coconut vanilla bean
  • white buttercream frosting
  • walnut halves
  • Lifesavers, I used gummy
  • chocolate chips
  • coconut flakes, toasted or untoasted
  • Milk Duds
1. Slather a messy swirl of buttercream on top and spread to cover. You don't need a lot, this is just to glue your goodies on.

2. Grab the bottom of the cupcake, turn it over and roll the top in coconut to cover. Gently so it stays a bit fluffy and isn't totally mashed into the frosting.

3. Using Lifesavers for eyes, put them in place. Add chocolate chip to the center.

4. Turn the walnut half on it's side and make grumpy or perky brows, depending on your mood.

5. Turn the Milk Dud on it's side for a wee beak.

For more sweet ideas, follow along with my Pinterest board, Eat: Sweet!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Quick Halibut with Capers in White Wine Reduction

Halibut is one fish I have never cooked. Eaten and enjoyed? Heavens, yes. A rather delicate fish and not as common of a catch as salmon, I didn't want to try a practice recipe on what the Fisherman brought home.  But I certainly didn't have a tried and true recipe ready in my handy recipe binder. A 5 minute Google search yielded this little gem from So, I took a deep breath and got started. This recipe was so simple and had so much surprising flavor! Ready in under 30 minutes, start to finish. A new favorite.

2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 8oz halibut steaks (I used 1 piece about 10oz)
1/2 cup white wine
2 tsp chopped garlic
1/4 cup butter
salt and pepper to taste
3 Tablespoons capers with liquid

Heat medium size frying pan. Add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the fish and brown on both sides. About 6 minutes. Remove before finished cooking.

Add the wine, scraping brown bits up, and reduce until almost evaporated. Toss in butter, garlic, salt and pepper and simmer for a minute or so.

Return the fish to the pan and coat with sauce. Cook until fish flakes easily with a fork. Serve immediately, pouring sauce over each fillet. I served over quinoa. For more of my favorite recipes, follow along with my Pinterest board, Eat!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Thrift Score

One 15 minute mad dash (with a couple of rests on the stairs) through a tiny, local shop yielded this little haul. Happy day! Not sure what the vintage sheet will easy gathered skirt for something "new" to wear after this wee one gets here, I'm thinking. The tiny Scottie dog bowl simply had to come home with me. Perfect for the end of season fresh strawberry snack or to hold crafty bits later. A happy haul, for sure.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Simple Marinara Sauce

My ingredients vary widely as does how much of this or that I throw in. Cooking with what I have on hand, what needs to be pulled from the garden or what might have been deliciously bountiful at the farmers market is what ends up in the pot. I also don't actually measure. Adjust for what works to your own taste. You really can't go wrong. Here is my basic go to recipe:

6 Tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1 28oz can crushed tomatoes, include juice
3-4 cups of chopped fresh tomatoes (or an additional 28oz can tomatoes)
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon thyme
dash of balsamic vinegar or red wine
salt and pepper to taste

If you feel daring or need to clear out the veggie bin (note the end of summer squash chopped and simmered into the pot above) toss in one or more:
1 shredded carrot
2 stalks chopped celery
1/2 bell pepper
3 small squash, chopped

Heat heavy, large pan over medium heat. Add oil. Toss in onions until clear. Then add garlic. Cook for a minute or so. Pour in tomatoes, herbs, vinegar or wine, and any other veggies that please you. Simmer for at least 45 minutes, uncovered. Taste. Add salt and pepper to taste. For more of my favorite recipes, follow along with my Pinterest board, Eat!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Lola. Our Black Sex Linked Hen

Lola is one of our Black Sex Linked laying hens. See the touch of iridescent in her feathers? She's a pretty one and likes to strut her stuff. Here she is coming in from the rain.

The other girls pretend not to notice as Lola rocks to her own tune. 

 A few things to ponder if you are considering this breed:
  • mega layers! these girls lay around 300 eggs per year.
  • chosen for their above mentioned egg laying power house but sometimes used as dual purpose
  • they are less aggressive than Rhode Island Reds but they can be pretty darn bossy themselves
  • a hardy bird, good for colder climates
  • averaging 5.5 to 9 pounds
  • their name come from the direct link between their color and their sex: females are a beautiful iridescent black, males have much more red
  • beautiful chocolate brown eggs
  • a cross between Rhode Island Red and Barr Rock

Do you have chickens or thinking about them? What are your favorite breeds? For more ideas and resources on raising chickens, follow along with my Pinterest board, Chickens and Garden!


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Dilly Beans with Thyme

Dill is not my favorite herb. And it's very difficult to find fresh here on the Central Coast. So, I used the thyme I had in abundance from our garden and, boy howdy! This is my current favorite snack. They should really be called Pickled Green Beans with Thyme but I grew up on Dilly Beans so regardless of the herb, that is what I shall always call them. Like bacon in any given recipe, I also double the garlic from the original recipe to be eaten enjoyed as well.

Recipe originally found in Ball Blue Book with a few tweaks of my own.
2 pounds green beans
1/4c canning salt
2 1/2c water
2 1/2c vinegar
2tsp pepper flakes
8 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
one big handful of thyme or other herb that sounds good to you (dill, oregano, etc)

Trim ends off the beans and cut to fit in the jar. Combine water, vinegar, and salt in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Pack beans lengthwise leaving a 1/4" headspace. Tuck garlic and herbs in around beans. Sprinkle pepper in each jar.Ladle hot liquid over beans, leaving 1/4" headspace. Remove air bubbles, wipe rims. Adjust two piece lids. Process 10 minutes in boiling water canner.

Yield: about 4 pints, 2 quarts, or 8 half pints.
This is not a complete canning lesson. More of a simple recipe. For a few great canning tutorials online, head here:

  • Ball Jar Company has an abundant website full of recipes, tips, and resources. See the basics here.
  • Simple Bites Canning 101 is easy to follow and you'll enjoy poking around this lovely food blog
For more of my favorite ideas and resources on canning, please follow along with my Pinterest board, Can It!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Bed Rest DIY Project Round Up

All is well but Chillaxin' is the order of the week by my midwife and by order of my Fisherman. Carrying both of my boys required three months of full bedrest. Practicing Spanish, stacks of audiobooks, learning new embroidery stitches...I kept busy.

I'm not worried about this wee one either, just taking it easy to keep things calm and rolling along in good time. A little walk here and there and getting up to cut out 24 tiny  pinwheels are all on my Can Do list. Then it's back down for resting. Not exactly resting. One can get a heck of a lot done while laying on your side. Trust me.

Later this week I'll be sharing more of what I've been working on but for now, here's a round up of projects to do while on bedrest, full or moderate. Oh, and here's a great over-view article with a list of things you might not of thought of if this is your first rodeo time on bedrest. One word to the wise: ask for help in prep and gathering materials. People want to support you, they just might not know dropping by a handful of glue sticks will make your day.
1. Stitching Handwriting on Cards 2. Sweater Wreath 3. Home Management Binder 
4. Handmade Envelopes from Magazines 5. Paper Pinwheels  6. Organize Recipes
7. Photobooks 8. Scrap Map 9. Learn to Embroider Videos

For more of my favorite crafty ideas, follow along with my Pinterest board, Handmade!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Radishes: Pickled, Fermented, Just Plain Sliced

Headed out to the garden today and found a handful of radishes ready for harvesting. Our fall garden is just starting to kick in. Time to plant more radishes! The first two I nibbled on while the chickens kept me company. Now...what to do with the rest. I'm thinking...

Marissa of Food in Jars has a quick pickled radish recipe posted on Serious Eats.

Or maybe give fermenting a try? Serious Eats shares how here. 

Martha has a plethora of radish recipes just waiting for me to try.

We'll see! How do you like to enjoy your radishes? For more of my favorite foodie ideas and recipes, follow along my Pinterest board: Eat!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Easy Baby Pants with Room for Cloth Diapers

I admit it. At only three months along, I had already sewn up all the basics and simply could not wait to find out if I should focus on ruffly skirts or cargo pants next. So...I started sewing both. Even though we've been told it's a girl, ya just never know until the day they actually come to show you themselves. Besides, she just might not be a twirly skirt kinda girl.

Free tutorial and pattern I used from Made by Rae here. 

  • Dana Made It has a kids pants pattern with all the bells and whistles: pockets, warm lining, knee patches, and more here.
  • Sweater sleeve sweat pants by Green Kitchen.

I whipped up all three of these in less than two hours, including plenty of time to hem and haw over fabric from my scraps bin and a piece from a vintage dress. They have an extra big bum for cloth diapered kiddos- hooray! For more ideas on sewing for little ones, follow along with my Pinterest board, Handmade: Wee Ones! Enjoy.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Easy Teeny Tiny Baby Skirts with Vintage Linens

I love vintage linens. Tablecloths, sheets, fluffy floral terry cloth towels, lone luncheon napkins- all of them. Sewing up teeny tiny baby skirts is the perfect thing to use up some of my scraps.

Using a rough tutorial from Bulldogs and Babies, I whipped up these little sweeties. Actually, they aren't super teeny tiny. My boys both came in form or pretty darn close of ten pounds each so I'm not really expecting a dainty little daisy from this little one either. I added an inch to her waist measurements and two inches to the length.  Here are a few more tutorials:

  • some good suggestions and tweaks to the Bulldogs and Babies tutorial I used are shared by I Times 2 here
  • super cute circle skirt by Dana Made It here
  • Wink Designs has a tutorial using only one fat quarter of cotton here

Pick one that works for you and whip up some yourself! Easy peasy baby shower gifts to have on hand, too.
For more ideas on sewing for tiny ones, follow my Pinterest board, Handmade: For Wee Ones!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Welsummer Hens and the Perfect Hard Boiled Egg

 Meet Squirrel. When she first came home from Farm Supply at about two days old, she was tiny. I mean teeny tiny her whole first month. It seemed like she hardly grew in her first month as our other chicks grew and matured around her. She looked just like a baby squirrel. Hence, her name. She's caught up now with other girls but follows me around telling me all about everything. Other chicken keepers have called the Welsummer's flighty and easily spooked but our Squirrel's (we have two) were handled so much as chicks they aren't as easily spooked. Welsummer hens are just about my favorite breed out of the eight different types we have. Sweet, chatty, and beautiful. Photo by Jessica Wilson. 
Photo by Jessica Wilson
Like leaving dial up behind, once you have fresh eggs you really can't go back. Buttery rich in flavor as well as higher in Omega 3's (double!), protein and other good stuff. When you buy farm fresh you aren't just supporting small farmers and chicken keepers, you are truly getting more nutrition for your dollar. Okay. Hopping off my soap box. Now, how to make a perfect hard boiled egg.

1. Cover the bottom of your pot with one layer (just one) of fresh eggs. Add enough cold water to cover the eggs by and inch or two.

2. Bring to a quick boil. Leaving on the hot burner, put a lid on it, turn off the heat
and let sit for 12 minutes for a softer egg and up to 15 for a firmer egg (my preference). Rinse in cold water.
No more dry eggs, and sulfury grey rings!

For more tips 'n tricks on raising chickens, follow along with my Pinterest board, Chickens & Garden!

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