Adding a sleeve to your quilt

There are many reasons for which someone may want a sleeve on their quilt. Perhaps they are entering it into a quilt show or contest, or maybe they want to use it as a wall hanging or window covering. Regardless of the reason, attaching a sleeve is the best way to ensure your quilt will not be damaged in the process, and will hang beautifully.

Rather than recreating the wheel here, I have come across a great tutorial video that explains the whole process. It’s a quick lesson, but worthwhile, as sleeve attachment can indeed go awry.  Click HERE to watch – Enjoy!!

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CORN COB JELLY

Yep, that’s right, corn cob jelly. Never heard of it? I’d bet you could find it in some really old journals or cookbooks, maybe from the early American frontier days, when people really had to use everything they had to get by in life.

The funny thing is, this doesn’t taste like it is a nourishment bourne out of necessity. It tastes like smooth honey, with overtones of corn and a hint of citrus at the finish from the pectin. If you have never tried making it, I recommend you do, or at least find some to taste. You would likely be tasting something from our ancestor’s day.

It’s crazy simple, and starts with you buying corn. Fresh = better, so if you have a local farm, get it from ‘that guy’. But waste not: blanch your corn until the kernels are bright, cool your cobs and cut the corn off. Freeze it, can it, eat it, whatever you want. Just don’t toss it. Don’t toss the cobs either; follow along my friends!

CORN COB JELLY:

Ingredients:

  • 10 corn cobs
  • 4 cups water (use the water you blanched your corn in)
  • 1 package pectin
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp butter (or oil if you’re vegan)
  • 2 drops yellow food coloring

Directions:

Break cobs in pieces, throw back into blanching water and bring to a boil for 20 minutes. Cool and strain (if you want more corny flavor, you can actually squeeze the liquid from the cobs prior to discarding). If you want, you can put the little corn pieces into the jelly liquid for some texture and appearance value. Totally a personal decision.

Measure the liquid you boiled the corn cobs in; save 3.5 cups. If you need to add water to come to that quantity, do so. Put that liquid back into your put, and add your packet of pectin and butter. Bring your liquid to a slow boil for one minute, then add sugar SLOWLY! NOTE!! Add 1 cup, stir and taste. From here, add sugar to taste. Adding too much sugar will mask the natural flavor coming out of the cobs and make your jelly taste too sweet.

Once you have added all the sugar you want, add your food coloring to make the color less blah and return to a full boil for one minute. Remove from heat. Fill your jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace, wipe rims, cover and process for 10 minutes.

The only tricky thing about this jelly is that when it cools (as you fill your jars), it will get that weird film layer on the top. Just be wary and quick filling your jars.

OTHER NOTES: I actually had 37 cobs when I made this batch :). I filled the pot with the cobs and as much water as I could add to the blanching liquid to fill the pot. It ended up giving me about 14 cups so I used about 2.5-3 times the pectin and I think 5 cups of sugar.

After I boiled the cobs, I let them cool and squeezed all the milk from the cobs. I strained ALL my cooking liquid (and that milk) through a fine seive lined with cheesecloth, so there aren’t any chunks, but the liquid is opaque.

This jelly may take up to a week to set. You can ensure you have hit the jelling point by taking a spoonful of the jelly from the pot on your last boil and sticking it in the fridge for a minute. When you take the plate out, run y our finger down the middle. If the jelly doesn’t come back together, it will set. You can also judge by the boil – the bubbles look like they are boiling up through some liquid thicker than water (which they are), almost like slow motion.

 

So when winter rolls around (in this heat I know I can barely wait for it to get here!), throw some wood on the fire, grab yourself some fresh-from-the-oven cornbread and slather this on top, letting it melt just slightly. Close your eyes as you take the first bite, just listening to the crackle of the fire, and find yourself in a wonderful place.

Happy canning my friends.

Quilts of Valor (QOV)

 

Generally speaking, quilters are a very generous and trustworthy group of people. Yes, that’s right: people. There are a growing number of men joining the ranks, some quilting for many years, at award-winning level. I digress…

If you go into any quilt shop, you will find information of some sort regarding charitable causes. Project Linus, Quilts For Kids, and Quilts of Valor are some very popular organizations. Click here for a list of other charities that could use your quilting help!

Quilts of Valor is popular with ladies interested in supporting our military members in particular. It is a simple process really. You sign up on their website, letting them know what you are interested in doing for the project. When they need you, they send you an email, letting you know who your partner is and providing a link to information about the project.

I have participated in three so far, over the last six months or so, each time being the quilter. For the first project, the quilt maker chose to assemble a string quilt (foundation pieced) with pentagon shaped horse panels in the center of each block. With most QOV quilts, it is safe to assume the quilt will go to a male, so the quilting patterns I choose from are a bit more limited. I decided on a baptist fan pattern, which did nicely to complement the quilt without accentuating the angles any more. I then bound the quilt, attached the label, washed it, filled out the destination form and mailed it as directed. This one went straight to a military medical unit overseas.

my first QOV

The second project was a red, white and blue quilt, and I did a simple angular quilting pattern to mimic the stars in the fabric, using variegated thread on the front and back. The quilt maker requested I send it back to her to bind and mail.

QOV 2

The third quilt is again a red, white and blue, and I tried a new quilting pattern, again with variegated blue and white thread on the backside. This one I will bind and send to the quilt maker for her to ship, per her request.

QOV 3

We also create journals to go with the quilt. It’s more of a letter or log, from the quilt top maker and the quilter, with pictures (if possible), but the purpose is to inform the soldier of how the quilt came about, who was involved in it and the process of making and quilting it. It’s really a nice touch.

This is a great charity to be involved in, especially if you have a busy schedule and want to support our combat veterans. And it’s a wonderful way to get to know others that share this wonderful hobby! Happy quilting my friends!

Birdhouse Artwork

 

It took me some time to decide the appropriate name for this post. Really the idea is repurposing, but the idea is also to be creative with something simple and blank, by which we are continually surrounded. I have a current fascination with birdhouses, and am even adding quite a bit of decor around the subject to my previously empty shelves and walls.

over kitchen cabinets birdhouse decor

 
 

birdhouse decor

It’s amazing how little I paid for these items, seriously. I found many of these items at local (chain) craft stores, and a Goodwill store.

birdhouse decor

Some items required very minor repairs (the hanging above the door was missing something on the front, so I stuck a fabric butterfly sticker on it). Others were able to be used as is.

There is a project here, that can be done with your children.

naked

In fact, all of my projects seem to begin by my attempt to entertain my children. This one was no different.

We found these little birdhouses at Joann’s in a bin for $1 per!! The store also had larger models for around $5 each.

We stuck with the small version so we could buy a greater number to play around with.

When we got home, I don’t think we were in the door more than 38 seconds before Amy asked if she could start painting her houses. 

painted

I conceded, and she quickly broke out all the acrylic paints, brushes and trays.

It wasn’t much longer before I wanted to join in her fun. So we painted!!

It was fun to do together. After painting our houses, I took a break (you can see I didn’t even finish my red house) to do something in the kitchen. Probably making dinner…

painted and embellished

embellished house

Amy decided she wanted to continue decorating her houses, so I showed her where the glitter, jeweled and fabric butterfly and heart stickers were.

I loved her finished product! I was proud of her and decided to mount a shelf in the living room to showcase her artwork.

amy's painted houses

I had a little something different in mind as an end result, but Amy had creative license on her items, and wouldn’t allow me to touch her birdhouses. I completely respect that, so I had to finish painting my set and get to work on embellishing my own, in a similar manner to what she had done, but that’s where the similarities end.

I had envisioned a stack of these little houses, enveloped in various ribbons and charms, so I dug into my bucket of goodies (it is actually a bucket, filled with items I have found at chain craft stores on clearance, and includes buttons, chains, twine, ribbons, pins, patches and charms.

I used her glue stick and my needle nose pliers to wrangle the bits I wanted into place, and voila, my structure is complete. The most beautiful part of this project is that anyone can go to the craft shop and invest just a few dollars for at least an hour of fun with their kids. Your birdhouses will turn out as beautifully as you can dream them up to be. Just use your imagination!! Happy crafting!

finished structure

 
 

Rustic Vegan Creamy Mushroom Soup

rustic vegan mushroom soup

I LOVE mushrooms. All of them, every single type. So when I started eating vegan, I was sad to be missing out on all the soups I used to make with Cream of Mushroom soup as a base. Today I have erased every bit of that yearning by creating this relatively easy-to-create soup.

I began with my basic method for “sauteeing” mushrooms. I bought 2 8oz packages of sliced baby portabellas, put them into a glass dish, sprayed them lightly with Bragg Amino spray and microwaved the dish on high for 5 minutes, uncovered. Soy sauce works well as a substitute, just don’t overdo it because your mushrooms will be too salty.

Any juices from the glass dish can go straight into a large saucepan. I added 5 carrots chopped in half, 5 stalks of celery chopped in half, an onion chopped in quarters, 6 cloves of smashed garlic, 1 tbsp dried thyme, 2 bay leaves and about 4 cups of water. I was roasting veggies, so I used the tough stalks from my asparagus as well. You can really use any veggies you have around, or stalks from them that you won’t eat. I also squeezed half a lemon into the pot.

In a large glass measuring cup, I heated 3 cups of water with 2 large vegetable bouillon cubes and soaked 1 small package wood mushrooms and 1 small package shitake mushrooms. Feel free to use any mushrooms you can find (fresh or dried), I just used what I happened to have.

Once the mushrooms were soft, I poured the remaining liquid into the saucepan and combined the mushrooms with my other bowl of mushrooms. Now I boiled my vegetable broth until the veggies were soft and it smelled awesome. Then I strained it and tossed the vegetables. EASY VERSION OF BROTH = POUR IT OUT OF A BOX. Season to taste.

I combined the broth and the mushrooms in the saucepot. I didn’t like so many large mushroom pieces, so when I put my little 12.3 oz box of firm tofu in the blender, I added some of the mushrooms and broth from the pot. This created a creamier texture. I heated it through, added a few shakes of cayenne and topped it with chopped green onions and a squeeze of lemon to serve. I only stopped at one bowl because I should have waited for dinner to eat it in the first place! Happy cooking!!