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!

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