Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Mulberry Jam

Let's just preface this post by saying it doesn't hurt to ask. Our mom always said that and she's right. What's the worst that will happen? Someone may tell you "No." But then again, they might just say "Yes."

There is a 4-plex near our home that is currently vacant and up for sale. It is en route when we walk our dog. And it also has the largest mulberry tree that is absolutely LOADED with berries. In the past we have snitched some during the walk and they are oh so lovely.
However, since the building is now vacant it pains me to see all those berries go to waste. So I made a point of going to the building the other day and reading the info posted on the door. The realtor's name and number was listed so I called to see if he would have any problems with me picking mulberries. His response, "None whatsoever, pick as many as you'd like." Hallelujah!!

So we took our rake, a tarp and the kids and shook down 4 - 5 qt. buckets worth of mulberries. And we'll be back in a couple more days as there are even MORE not quite ripe. It pays to ask, that's all I can say, it pays to ask.
All that I've found out about mulberries indicates that anything you can do with a raspberry, blackberry, or other similar berry you can do with a mulberry. They supposedly freeze well and will last for months that way. I plan on freezing a good portion of them so we can have them during the winter months.

My kids eat them straight off the tree.

I made one batch of Mulberry jam.

I found the recipe in the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, pg. 31.

It may end up being more like syrup because I almost forgot the lemon juice and added it at the end instead of the beginning. I'll have to try one more batch to see if that little detail makes a difference or not. I'm looking forward to trying it on vanilla ice cream with a little bit of nuts, too.

How to collect and freeze Mulberries found HERE.

You may want to try this Mulberry Jelly recipe.

Mulberries STAIN EVERYTHING!! Don't wear nice clothes or shoes when picking. You may even want to use plastic gloves when rinsing them out to freeze. Bring newspaper to set your shoes on once you get back in the car.

This is what they will do to everything they touch.

They'll stain your towels, when canning jam. Use a dark dishcloth to clean up and dab up the water. Seriously...they STAIN everything!! But man they taste awesome! And when you can get them for FREE--even tastier!

Monday, June 28, 2010

4th of July jumper

French seams anyone? Yes, Please! I love them so much.
I don't own a serger so I like to finish this way.

Since it is a summer jumper I just finished the facing with bias tape.
(instead of lining it)
(like some of the others)

Pattern is New Look 6576
I cut a size large for my two year old. She's on the smaller side. Fits her perfectly.
Fabric is from JoAnn's calico wall. I have no idea what it is called, but it had the Joann's logo printed on the selvedge edge.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Baby Coco

I know that this news is only exciting for me, but after being out of commission for a couple of weeks my trusty repairman was able to FIX my broken sewing machine. I'm not going to say it was because of divine help, but I was praying (literally!) that it would get fixed. Evidently Heaven listens to the small prayers of a certain seamstress, to which I am extremely grateful!!

My machine arrived back at my house just in time to finish up this little quilt for my niece. It's one of the twins I was working on last month.

Again, I made a matching doll blanket and pillow. My niece seemed to like it. But, really, who doesn't love a mini!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Old Red Barn Quilt Along #1

I don't think I could ever be accused of cranking out the quilts. As proof here is yet another quilt that has taken months to complete. I think I started this one in November/December, but first posted about it in January. That would be over 6 months from start to finish. Yep, I'm quick I tell ya!

The design is from a quilt along that was going on over at Old Red Barn Co. It is from Round #1 ~ they are now on Round #6!

This was quite possibly the easiest top to put together. Since I used a Jelly Roll, all the cutting was done for me. I think I got the whole top done in about an hour and a half. Easy, easy! I would definitely use a jelly roll again. And I would definitely make this same design again. . I did buy 2 half yard(?) pieces to make the borders. You know how I like quilts with borders.

For the back I pieced some solids from my stash. The light green is one I dyed myself last summer. It's the only color that's made it's way into a quilt thus far. I should really try harder to use the other pieces up...

With the scraps from this quilt I made a baby quilt that I showed off here.

Finished Quilt measures 57" by 67" (144cm by 170cm)
Directions and fabric requirements can be found here.
Fabric is Hello Betty from Moda.

Monday, June 21, 2010

New Garden Beds

This project was not necessarily in my plans for this year.

However, with that being said when hubby agrees to something I am more than happy to jump in there and do it. He told me he'd be willing to help if I didn't plant any more raspberries in these beds. (I don't hear him complaining when he is eating raspberry jam....)

This is what the back garden area looked like before we did anything. 10' x 12' raspberry patch on the left and garage/woodpile on the right.

Planning stage--4' x 8' raised vegetable beds. Inspired by our Aunt Gayle's garden--she is hardcore and always has LOTS of yummy garden produce.

Originally we were going to use railroad ties ($7.99/ea), but it ended up being cheaper to buy 8' landscape timbers and layering them. ($1.97/ea on sale at Home Depot)

Hubby cut the timbers in half for the ends and then we laid them out where we wanted them, making sure to leave room between each for the lawnmower to pass. Aunt Gayle just kills all the grass around/between her beds because she doesn't want to deal with it. You can make that choice for yourselves. I knew hubby wouldn't go for that particular idea.

We left the timbers laid out for about a week and it left the impression in the yard so that when we rented the sod cutter (also at Home Depot) he would know where to cut. Otherwise you'll need to mark off the area somehow. I highly recommend renting a sod cutter. For us it was $53/4hr. time period, and even though we were done in a half hour it sure beat shoveling it out by hand for hours on end. Plus we moved the cut sod to a different spot in our yard that needed some TLC. (Kids and dogs are rough on lawns) We also shared the cost of the sod cutter with some friends who needed it for only an hour too. It worked GREAT!

Here is hubby lining up the boards and getting ready to secure it all in place.

Here we are all completed and filled in with dirt.
We bought a cubic yard of black dirt at a local nursery here for $25. It filled the back of our pick-up and then I put the kids to work (I helped too) with shovels and wheelbarrows to move it from the truck to the garden beds. One cubic yard filled both beds.
I don't know how much garden produce we will actually get this year. Planting mid-June is not the ideal time, but we added some more tomatoes, zucchini, cucumber, broccoli, green peppers, and honeydew. We'll see what we actually get. I still have more room to plant some things, but I think that I am done for now. And we'll be more than ready for next year's planting and harvest.

Total cost:
2 - 4'x8' beds, dirt, and sod cutter rental---$100.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Shirred Empire Tankini

I sort of patterned this suit for my oldest daughter after seeing 2 Land's End swimsuits: this style and this style.

We tried a little something different on the straps. L. thinks it is really cool looking.

I used Kwik Sew patterns 2275 (discontinued but very similar to 3239) for the bottoms and then altered 2690 for the top.

To shir the top I cut a strip of fabric a bit wider than the width of the bodice piece and double the length. I ran a few gathering threads and then gathered and pinned it in place to the bodice lining. I basted the gathered top in place on the lining and then cut down the excess fabric to match the lining piece.

Next time I may cut it a little longer still--really it depends on how shirred you like the bodice. L. was very happy with how it turned out. Her dad, not so much--he's not quite ready to have his "little" girl turn into a young woman. In fact, I think I saw him cleaning up the shotgun the other night.....:)
You can always check my Etsy site for suits too!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Ruffle Apron {Bridal Gift}

This is the first time I've made this pattern (Leslie's fav) for anyone. I was in need of quick gift for a bridal shower tonight (I made the apron earlier this week) and had some leftover fabric from this quilt that I thought would work great.

I like how it turned out--rather fun and sassy. The bride-to-be is pretty fun and sassy herself, and really I'm pretty sure she'll like it. Congratulations, Cheyenne! We wish you all the best!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Library Bag {Spanish Version}

We just love SeƱora Belistri. She is from Uruguay, and my 5th grade kids are about the same height as her, but we love her anyway.

Our oldest daughter had her for 5th grade, and now daughter #2 has had her this past year, which is good for them, but then I am left trying to figure out what to give as a gift that I haven't already given her.

I joked with her about that fact and she said she would gladly take another tote bag--because she uses the one we gave her all the time. I'm not one to readily turn down requests. If she wants another bag, then so be it. So with her suggestion and help we came up with the Spanish version of a library bag.

"Me gusta leer!"--I like to read--Spanish style! I tried a little embroidery embellishment using my most recently acquired machine. I like how it turned out.

Velcroed pocket on the backside to hold your library card.
Inside lining

Thanks, Sra. Belistri for another great 5th grade year. We'll keep our fingers crossed we have you again in another 2 years for kid #3.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Summer Reading Incentives

Summer is upon most of you already. We have 3 more days of school next week and we can't wait. My kids usually bring home something from school at the end of the year encouraging them to keep reading during the summer. Sometimes school has offered some reward if they bring their completed list back (usually 50 books read in English and 50 read in Spanish) at the beginning of the following school year and other times we've just kept our own list and come up with our own prizes.

However, many companies also have reading programs and incentives for summer reading. Below are listed some of the ones that we've found and are going to try this summer.

Pizza Hut's BOOK IT! Sweepstakes, Reading program, games, tips to encourage reading.

Borders Books Double Dog Dare Summer Reading Form
Earn certificate for a Free Book.

Half Price Books Feed Your Brain Summer Reading Program
Earn $3 shopping cards to Half Price Books, each week starting June 1st thru July 31st.

Barnes & Noble
Earn a Free Book from a list of paperback titles available at the store.

TD Bank Offers $10 into a children's savings account for books read.

Scholastic has lists and info on summer reading.

Our local Dairy Queen and Public TV station have joined together for a reading incentive program. Check locally if either one of your's is doing the same.

Many public libraries also have summer reading incentive or programs to try. Check yours to see what they may offer.

You could certainly come up with your own reward based on pages, minutes, or number of books read. One summer we paid a penny a page to one daughter to encourage her to read. We ended up adjusting it to a penny per 5 pages because we were going to owe her over $100! Obviously she doesn't need anymore encouragement to read a good book. Maybe they earn a special outing with one of the parents, or something special to do with a friend. Be creative!

I bought little 3 ring folders and each kid decorated the outside of it how they wanted with as many stickers as they desired. Then we keep all their sheets inside so they can keep track of their reading.

Along these same lines, just in May we had a kids' book club with 6 moms and about 15 of our 25 combined total of children. We had boys and girls both ranging in age from 7 to 14. We read "The Candy Shop War" by Brandon Mull. This was the first time my kids have attended a book club and they LOVED it! Thanks Cindy for hosting. We all had a great time. They are ready for another one again this summer and so all of us moms are working on that. If you haven't ever held a book club with your kids I'd encourage you to give it a try.


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