Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A little giggle and my thoughts while canning

While I was browsing blogs early Sunday morning I came across a very funny lady and a post that cracked me up. I forwarded it to my youngest sister and she thought it was hilarious -- if you have time for a laugh, check out Becauze I Said So. Scroll down to Friday's entry (Aug 22) titled An Author Gets Her Start. She comments on drawings she made as a child - very funny!

Back to my world, my tiny little garden is still producing cucumbers at a record pace. I don't understand this. In other years, we got just enough to eat and a few to share. Maybe it's our comfortably wet year, but this is what we got in two days -

So I made MORE pickles.
Now I've never had this happen, have you? I heard a pop (didn't sound good) and when I looked, the lid on this half-gallon jar had buckled outward! I thought we'd have to use these right away but can you believe it still sealed?! You should have heard it pop back! It's got a little wrinkle to the lid but it's a solid seal.
After the pickles were complete, I realized I had to do something with the apples, so I made pie filling. And we had too many necatrines so I made jam. Then I picked tomatoes at Tammy's and they became salsa (the kids' special request), more spaghetti sauce and tomato juice.
Are you all sick of seeing photos of home canning jars in my kitchen? Me too. So this is the last one I promise, as I am officially putting away the canner for this year.

While I was canning I had a lot of time to think so I was trying to answer my husband's question - why do you do all this? Granted, it is a lot of work. Besides the obvious - first, I'm so frugal I just can't stand to see anything go to waste and second, when you make it yourself you know what goes into it, that it's clean and chemical free. (If you don't know, I have this thing about eating chemicals and artificial food!) So besides that - I think that some people have a special drive to do-it-yourself. I'm not saying that's necessarily always a good thing. I admit that there are times when I spend way too much time, effort and frustration when it would be far more logical to just buy it!

But also I was thinking about some influences from my childhood. My paternal grandmother read me the story about the little bread baking hen. Do you remember? As she sowed, tended, harvested the wheat, ground it to flour and made the bread dough, she asked for help at each step of the way but all the other animals declined as they were too busy enjoying other activities - like playing in the sunshine etc. So as you can guess - in the end the little hen had wonderful fresh bread to eat while they had none because they had spent their all their time indulging themselves. Oh how I took that to heart! Then when I got just a little older she told me the real story about the poor pilgrims who starved to death because they didn't anticipate the hard winter and weren't properly prepared. Remember that one?!

My husband keeps telling me we're not going to starve . . . Yeah I know, now we're not! You just go play in the sunshine Rude, I've got you covered.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

A note of thanks

I just want to say a quick THANK YOU to each of you who takes time out of your day to stop in and visit my blog. Occasionally someone will mention to me that they enjoy it and that makes it so worth my while. And it is such a thrill when I get a notification that I've received a comment! Not to mention looking at where my "hits" come from. This week's surprises were Utah and Hawaii. I've also had visitors from Canada, Israel and Australia - can you believe it? I can't!

Canning, baking and sewing baby stuff

I've begun my annual slide into late-summer depression, feeling sorry for myself that summer is almost gone. Where we live, the cottonwoods are always the first to turn and their leaves are picking up a yellow cast. Ah, where did the summer go?!

This week I did more pickles and worked with apples - making pies and applesauce. I have more apples in the garage and I think I may can some apple pie filling. Tammy's grapes aren't quite ready but getting close - we're thinking grape jelly.

Along the lines of 'where did our summer go', I got the delightful task of picking up my charming little friend Maddi from her first day of pre-school. (Let's clarify that's this year's pre-school, she'd be offended if y'all thought she was a first-timer.) Maddi is one of Rusty's biggest fans and couldn't wait to get home to see him.

These are gifts for a baby shower this weekend. I've been sitting on that onsie phrase for some time now and this new momma has the perfect sense of humor for it! I picked up her colors from a registry page and found the perfect combination of brown and dusty turquoise - at Jackman's of course. Did I mention I have a teacher's discount card? (Yippee!) Reminder - you can double-click photos to zoom in.

Matching reversible bibs.

Another shower also this weekend:
This denim/bandana bag was a custom order. Can you guess the new parents are horse people!? The appliqued ponies are fleece so they are touchable-soft. I was pleased with how it turned out. Then I got the SWEETEST note ever from the grandma-to-be. (An adorable handmade note, I must add!) That is why I do this -- I am hopelessly addicted to the feeling you get from making someone happy. I hope that doesn't sound nearly as self-serving as it feels to say it!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

What a week!

Busy and fun! Summer produce is in full swing here in Illinois and it doesn't wait for an "appropriate" time. Tammy and I canned spaghetti sauce this past week with her lovely fresh tomatoes and some of my overabundance of cucumbers became dill pickle sandwich slices. I had never made pickles before - I am so excited about these! Now I'm hoping the cukes keep producing because I'd love to do more of these. This week we'll be working on apples and grapes . . .

On Thursday Jamie & Preston arrived! They flew into St. Louis, spent that night with Amy at her apartment, then we picked them up on Friday morning and brought them to our home for the weekend. It was our first time to meet Preston and it was a fun and magical time.

Isn't he a cutie?
We had so much fun!
Having an expanded household was certainly different though - when everyone was gone on Sunday evening Randy & I said whew! and we headed to the country for a camping night!
It was quite a hectic week - every free moment between canning and preparing for company I spent sewing for Preston. I almost made it! I finished the book gift after they arrived, while he was here sleeping. These are reversible baby bibs -
Doesn't every kid lug around a special pillow? (I'm thinking of you GG and your floppy!) Bright kid colors are so much fun. A one candle cupcake to celebrate Preston's first birthday on December 30th.
Every page on this "quiet book" has respositionable pieces. For instance, the bear's bow can be a bow tie or be moved to between the ears for a girly, momma bear look. The bird and cloud can be moved on the house page, as can the bumble bee and the worms. The front pocket can store the pieces - or something else.
Okay, this one was for Jamie -
I was pleased and relieved when she seemed to like it. (I struggle when I try to guess someone else's taste.) She did say this was her favorite picture of Preston, so that was a good guess!
So -- don't you agree, it was quite a week?! Catch you soon - J

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Who likes to read?

This morning I found an interesting link in a newsletter from Discover Card. This book swap site is a forum for readers to list books they'd like to trade and wait for an acceptable exchange. Books are swapped by mail and your only cost is postage. Although I don't buy a lot of books (we're faithful library fans), I know that a lot of people do and I think this is such an interesting concept. There is another site for CD DVD and Video Game Swaps too. Here's the full list of cool sites from Discover in case anyone's interested.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Scooter Dog

Isn't he cute?! Rusty loves to ride the scooter. You can't tell in the photo but he's much safer than it looks. He wears a harness that is attached to the faring of the scooter. He can't move more than an inch or two so can't jump or fall off. And I always ride slower when he's along. He peers around the front to see where we're going and it is so fun to see children watch him - they are so intrigued with seeing a dog on a scooter! And by the way, those shades (called 'Doggles') aren't just to look cool, they protect his eyes from wind, rocks or whatever. :)

On to sewing - here's a photo tote I made for a dear lady I worked with at the bank. Marcia retired last week after 40-plus years. I know she struggled with this decision for a long time (believe me, I know how hard it is to let go!) but now she is ready to have fun. She was leaving the day after the party to visit her youngest daughter in Florida - now that's the perfect way to start a retirement! Anyway, her family is her life so I enlisted her daughter's help to pick out some special photos to make this bag.

I have another adorable diaper bag in the wings but can't show photos yet as the shower date isn't until next weekend. And there are still more things I haven't photographed yet - it's been a busy week and a crazy weekend to come. Catch you later!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

And then it stormed . . .

Wow! Last night was one of those out-of-nowhere storms. Earlier in the evening the forecast was for scattered storms. All was calm, then in the blink of an eye around 7 pm there were tornado warnings (2 spotted locally) and straight line winds of 60 to 80 mph. We had chosen this night to camp at "the 80" and by the time warnings were out we didn't know if we'd be able to make it back to town so decided to ride it out there. We called our friends and next-door-neighbor to see what was happening in town and this morning we even got a first-hand report from George (my MIL's friend) who had surveyed our yard, but we still weren't prepared for what we came home to.

Rounding the corner of the house . . .

a few steps further . . .

. . . looking back towards the house.

Taken from the deck, you can see there are at least three different trees making this massive mess.

One is a big portion split from a huge oak. I don't know all that much about trees but it's hard to imagine what's left of that tree will survive. I hear Randy's chainsaw firing up now - I think we'll be cleaning up forever, don't you? Fortunately though, everyone is safe and we can't see that there's any damage to the house either so we've got a lot to be thankful for. And on a good note, my highbush cranberry (aka bird food) survived the storm and looks lovely with the berries turning.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Absolutely Adorable . . .

Do you feel lucky today? Wait till you see this giveaway from Lila Tueller Designs!She's inspiring me to do something fun - there's fabric calling my name!

Take 2 minutes to watch this, you'll be glad you did . . .

This very touching video is short (just a little over 2 minutes). Apparently it was featured on the Today Show recently but not everyone can or does watch morning TV -- so if you've got a couple of minutes, this is so worth your while.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Summer and all its Glory!

I just love summer! Having these gorgeous hydrangeas on my table makes me so happy. Compliments of my friend Tammy; I don't have a hydrangea bush. I've also enjoyed zinnias, snow peas, okra, green beans, tomatoes and zucchini this week - all shared. So far I have my bumper crop of cucumbers. LOL.

So on to this week's projects . . .
A custom order diaper bag, changing pad and wipe case. I scanned then digitized parts of the fabric design to coordinate the embroidered monogram.

Remember the twins? They had more than one shower. These are infant-size hooded towels their grandmother had made for the second shower.

My friend's mother had this hooded towel made for a birthday party. This one's made differently, more appropriate for a toddler.

Here's another diaper bag. Anna's mommy picked out this plaid fabric and it was a challenge for me. The soft, muted colors and small scale aren't what I'm used to working with so I had to think about this one for a while.