Friday, August 28, 2009
Today is Tasha Tudor's birthday.
My friend Clarice at Storybook Woods organized the first official Tasha Tudor Day last year on August 28th and the tradition continues on. Celebrate the amazing woman, Tasha Tudor, with me and others by having a cuppa tea in the garden, by doing a little handiwork like embroidery or knitting, by working in your garden or by making homemade jelly or jam, or simply by appreciating the simple joys of everyday living like our dear Tasha did.
I used to dread the end of summer. As soon as the goldenrod bloomed it meant I had to go back to school. I hated it! But it's a beautiful time of the year when the southwest wind blows with a distinctive sweet scent and the crickets' chirping starts to slow down and the constellations shift in the night sky. Spring's chicks and ducklings have grown into fine plump specimens and the geese gather under the apple trees looking for the first ripe apples to drop.
~Tasha Tudor from the book The Private World of Tasha Tudor
In celebration (and because it's time), today I plan to go to town and buy some fresh sweet corn from the local farmer in the Valley. I'll shuck it, cut it from the cob, and blanch it for freezing so that we'll enjoy that sweet summer corn even in the dark winter days. I'll use my Grandma Kathryn's Recipe which is so easy and delicious. I also have a few apples that I plan to sauce and make into apple butter. Of course, I'll take time to appreciate the last of the summer flowers and have a cuppa tea while reading from one of Tasha's many books.
For more about this special lady, click here.
Happy Birthday Tasha!
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Monday, August 24, 2009
The crescent moon is shining tonight
So often we darken our woods by sadness over one dear to us whom we long to see relieved or released, and all the time the Lord of Light is shining on that heart, and speaking words that will never be forgotten, and which, handed on to others like a lighted torch, will travel, who can tell how far? We must learn to look on and see the far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory that is being prepared for our beloved.
Does St. Paul regret the thorn in the flesh that drew forth words that have comforted countless millions? Do the men for whom the winds were contrary wish they had been spared the storm that brought their Lord to them walking on the sea and caused Him to speak that immortal It is I: be not afraid? Could we wish to skirt a wood where our Master waited to give us a word to lighten the dark woods of others? No, not even now, while the pressure is upon us, would we choose, if we might, to escape from this which is but for a moment, and which worketh that which is eternal.
Excerpt from Gold By Moonlight
(And Then the Dark Wood Again)
By Amy Carmichael
"And there was darkness over the the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was hovering..." ~Genesis 1
"The moon and stars to rule by night, for his mercy endures forever." ~Psalm 136
"If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.....If I say, 'Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, and the light around me will be night,' even the darkness is not dark to You, and the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You."
Sunday, August 23, 2009
click to enlarge for more detail
A Lil Red Apron became a housewarming gift for a friend far away.
A *shout out* to Aimee Ray, author of Doodle Stitching Fresh & Fun Embroidery for Beginners. This is a lovely embroidery book with lots of great ideas for the beginner as well as for someone who has been embroidering for a long time. I don't consider myself a beginner because I've been embroidering on-and-off since 5th grade, but there is always something to learn as you go along in the World of Embroidery. The apron I made is an idea I took from Doodle Stitching, but I added my own twist to it. For more samples of doodle stitching, click here and here. I first read about doodle stitching from Cassie at You Go Girl.
The simple threaded running stitch that trims the pocket and the edges of the apron excites me because it reminds me of ric-rac. I love, love, love ric-rac and most of the time I don't have the color or size that I want in my stash and a trip to the store means a 2 hour drive, so I'm thinking of using this easy-peasy stitch as a replacement for ric-rac on some things like this tea towel....
A *new* item to me that I'm excited to use is called Transdoodle. It's a transfer paper that has a chalk side that is laid on the fabric. You then lay your embroidery pattern or quilt template on top of the pattern and trace. It makes a very crisp, easy-to-read transfer and it is removable. The Transdoodle paper is also re-usable many times over and is available in blue, yellow and white. Check your local sewing/crafting centers for it. I bought mine online at Overstock.com where the price was decent and the shipping was just a buck (that day).....way cheaper than that 2 hour drive to the city.
Addendum: After using the Transdoodle product, I cannot wholeheartedly endorse it. I had a hard time seeing my transfer after tracing with a pencil and a ball point pen. I followed the package directions, but I was hoping for a much darker transfer. After all, I have 47 year old eyes! I can, however, recommend washable quilting pens and Crayola Washable Markers. I used the Crayolas on the apron to mark the pattern and at first, I didn't think it would wash out, but with a gentle soaking and a light wash, the marks came out just fine. Does anybody else have a favorite transfer method for embroidery or quilting? Please share.
Friday, August 14, 2009
By request, I made a Flickr set showing my denim quilt-as-you-go method. I'm just glad I thought to take pictures of the steps. I guess I either anticipated a "how to" tutorial or figured I'd need it as Old-Timer's disease set in. Click here for the Denim Quilt tutorial.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
It is finished! My Fourth Born's jean quilt is done just in time for him to take it to college. He doesn't leave until end of August, but I'm glad he will be taking this with him. The jean quilts are a family tradition. Each child gets one when he or she leaves home, and each quilt is made up of the family's worn-out blue jeans that are trimmed up for quilts and other uses.
This quilt was fairly simple -- it's a four patch block that was sandwiched with a thin cotton batting and backed with a larger block of batik in gold, brown, or green. After the blocks were stiched-in-the-ditch, I did a "quilt-as-you-go" assembly method that involved sewing a row of blocks together so that the backing was at the top (think rag quilt). I then pressed the seams open on top, folded the back fabric under and top stitched on the jean side of the quilt. By the time all the blocks were sewn together and top stitched, the quilt was completely done, except for the top stitching around the outer edge. This worked quite well since denim can get very heavy and unruly to sew.
My embroidered quilt label.
Here's the back of the quilt. It 's a coincidence that these are the school colors of the college that S. is attending. I never even thought about that when choosing them.... a mother's unconscious consciousness....or something.
Sunday, August 09, 2009
Last night, just before supper, a great, gray cloud boiled and swirled and in a matter of moments, began dropping pea-sized and marble-sized hailstones upon us. It pelted down for a good 5 minutes and brought down leaves and branches from the trees and mostly halted my gardening efforts for the year. I'm hopeful some of the tomatoes will continue to ripen on the vine, but time will tell. I'm sure glad I picked the chokecherries because those that were left on the branches are mostly beaten off.
The bulls in the House Pasture went running for cover, but there wasn't any so they put their butts to the wind and dropped their heads to brace for the beating. The good thing is that cattle have a very thick hide which does protect them from such things. Very young livestock, on the other hand, can really take a beating, especially if the hail is severe. It could've been much worse.
The weather-folks are predicting more of the same tonight. I think I'll save the raking and clean-up for tomorrow.
A good thing....
My Darling Daughter who works at a flower shop happened to come out visiting. She made me this sweet arrangement from my garden flowers. Thank God for little intuitions of picking flowers when you have them. Today, pick some. You know not what tomorrow brings.
Thursday, August 06, 2009
This is the first year that my chokecherry bushes have produced fruit. I'm thrilled! When I was a young girl visiting my grandpa's horse farm, we used to pick chokecherries from the bushes and eat them right off the stem. If you've ever popped a chokecherry, you know the bitter-sweetness. Most grown-ups pass on eating chokecherries. I, on the other hand, must have a small handful or two when picking just so I can relive the taste of my childhood for a moment. Eating lots of chokecherries (minus the pits) can dry out your mouth and give you a belly ache, but made into syrups and jellies, they are a delicious treat.
Some of my chokecherries were more red than purple, and really, purple chokecherries are the ripest and best, but you have to beat the birds to them so one must watch carefully and diligently when the berries start turning from green to shades of red to purple. Today I picked a full gallon of these little chokecherries and still, there are many left on the bushes yet to ripen and pick.
Out of that gallon of cherries, I got about 3 quarts of juice. I cover the washed chokecherries completely with water and set them to boil for about 15-20 minutes. Once they soften up, I use my potato masher to gently squeeze the cherries for a little more juice. In the picture above, I'm straining the juice through an old, thin tea towel. (One of my kids embroidered the puppies on it)
Most recipes for chokecherry jellies and syrups call for commercial pectin and LOTS of sugar. I prefer to make syrups with as little sugar as possible and so I use *natural pectin* that comes from crabapple juice. You can also use a tart apple from your fruit drawer. If I don't have raw apple juice on hand, I will slice an apple or two and boil it along with the berries to add natural pectin to the juice. Using apple juice as a pectin allows you to use about half as much sugar in jellies, jams, and syrup recipes.
After straining the juice, I mixed half chokecherry juice and a little less than half crabapple juice (that I had canned last year) and brought it to a boil. I added sugar and boiled it for about 7-8 minutes and poured the chokecherry syrup into jars. Oh, I love this stuff drizzled over waffles and pancakes, pound cake and angel food. MMMmmm.
Chokecherry Syrup Recipe
5 c. chokecherry juice
4 c. crabapple juice
6 c. sugar
Blend the juices together in a large pot. Bring to a boil. Add the sugar and stir in. Bring it up to a boil again and boil on moderate heat for 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and pour into sterilized jars and seal. Allow to cool on the counter and listen for the *pop* that says the jars are sealed. This recipe made about 13 half-pints.
*If you boil the mixture a little longer, you can get it to set and turn into jelly, but I like pourable syrup best.
I found a wonderful website with lots of chokecherry recipes that you may like to try. I want to try the chokecherry liqueur. Doesn't that sound like a nice elixir for wintertime sniffles?
Wednesday, August 05, 2009
A little note about this picture....
I harvested the head from this cabbage plant and left the bottom 5-6 leaves according to the instruction of Dick Raymond's Joy of Gardening. He promised the plant would grow a few new heads before the growing season was done. And look here -- five new babies are sprouting. The thing I love about cabbages is that they seem to be hardier than most plants in my garden and continue growing even in the cold, late fall of the north country.
Sunday, August 02, 2009
The Fourth-Born Child took the cherry-red truck to go picking cherries for me. Wasn't that sweet of him? I thought so. He was so dear, he took the time to click a few pictures for me. ( He knew I'd want to blog about it)
The two trees were absolutely loaded with sour cherries.
My friend, Kathie was here and together we pitted those cherries, froze some, and made a pie with the rest. I was so glad she was here to help me, but she also offered a fabulous pie-making tip. If you're in a summer heatwave like we're just gliding into, you'll appreciate her tip because the oven will only be on for a few minutes instead of an hour or so. Thanks Kathie!
Kathie's Fabulous Pie-Making Tip
Make any fruit pie according to your recipe.
Preheat oven to 400*.
While the oven is preheating, pop the un-baked pie into the microwave and set it for 10 minutes. When the timer goes off, place the mostly-baked pie into the oven on the lowest rack to finish off the baking and to brown the crust. This should take approximately 10-15 minutes depending on your oven. When the crust is golden, remove and cool the pie.
Kiss the cook!