Saturday, June 29, 2013

Cricut Challenge Card

This week at Fantabulous Cricut Challenge Blog the challenge was to use a frame in a project.  I was working on birthday cards this week and came up with this idea.  I used a dot stamp to do the background of the card.  I used the "Birthday Bash" Cricut cartridge to cut both the candle and frame.  I added a pop dot to the flame to give it a slight 3D effect.  The inside of the card is stamped "Make a Wish".  I thought the dot background was a nice compliment to the dots on the candle. 

Friday, June 21, 2013

Feathered Friday

This week it is all about the chickens. 

I cut up a cantaloupe for W and gave the rinds and seeds to the chickens.  The free range chickens still enjoy a treat now and then.

This sexlink hen is almost a pet.  She runs to
greet me and almost lets me pet her.

A buff cochin hen trying to decide if she wants a bite.

These are the babies.  They are slow to eat treats but devour
them once someone is brave enough to try it first.
The little ones are dreaming of the day they are old enough to free range.

The Rhode Island Reds are great layers.  We have a steady supply of eggs.

A black cochin hen

Foghorn the rooster and his girls

This white crested black polish was very interested in the camera.

The Grey Lady - a bantam hen

BB, a buff cochin rooster

Francesca and Jean-Luc

W calls these "teenage" bantams the rascals.  They always hang out together and love scratching around the raised beds and in the compost pile.

Thanks for taking the time to scroll the pictures of my feathered crew!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Sewing - Shopping Bags

I purchased cloth shopping bags many years ago.  They get used (and washed) regularly.  Many of them are starting to wear out. Now I am more comfortable sewing so I decided to make my own bags.  I purchased a piece of fabric at a yard sale for $2 at most. 

While I am more comfortable using my sewing machine, I am far from good.  I tend to be quite slow the first time I make something.  For the first bag I used an online tutorial.  The bag is very nice and sturdy although a bit small.  It will definitely be useful.  The straps extend the length of the bag.

For the second bag I made my own pattern.  I used one of my current cloth shopping bags as a guide.  The second bag is larger although not quite as sturdy.  It will still hold more groceries than a plastic bag. 

I have cut out pieces to make two more bags slightly smaller than the second.  I am going to use two coordinating fabrics that I bought for 75 cents total.  I hope over the next few months to make enough to replace all of the worn out shopping bags.  Plus I think the bright fabrics are so much more fun!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Dehydrating Tomatoes

I planted plum tomatoes with the intention of dehydrating them for use this winter.  I ended up with so many red cherry and yellow pear tomatoes that I decided to dehydrate them while I was waiting for the plum tomatoes to ripen.
I have an Excalibur dehydrator, which I absolutely love.  I did a bit of research online.  Following the recommendations, I cut each one in half and squeezed out the seeds.  This helps the tomatoes dry faster. 
I set the dehydrator to 155 degrees and placed the tomatoes skin side down on the trays with plenty of space between them.
After about six hours I started to remove the ones that were dry enough.  I want them slightly flexible.  I was not worried about them having a tiny bit of moisture since I planned to vacuum seal and freeze them. 

I love dehydrating produce since it intensifies the flavors.  These will be delicious on a pizza this winter when my homegrown tomatoes are a memory.  A second bonus is that dehydrated items take up much less space.  A large bowl full of tomato halves ended up being around 2 cups when dried and vacuum sealed.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Furry Friday

Leo was featured earlier in the week, and I wanted to give the cats their share of blog time.  A couple of the rabbits posed for photos also.  Next week it will be all about the feathered family members.

Lucy would never look directly at the camera.  This was her only pose.

Paris started off in the house peeking from behind a curtain.  When I went outside to photograph the garden, she came out to keep a watchful eye on the chickens.
JJ prefers to spy on the yard from behind some flowers.
Tubbs escaped a couple of times over the past few weeks.  Fortunately he never went farther than his corner of the yard and was easy enough to catch.
Crockett made one break for freedom earlier this spring.  He spent all of his time out trying to dig back into this pen. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Garden Update

In the South I am able to get an early start with the garden.  That means that some vegetables fizzle out more quickly.  Some things that are no longer growing in my garden are garden peas, potatoes, string beans, squash, and zucchini.  The lettuce and cucumbers will not last much longer.  There are still plenty of fresh vegetables.  We also have an abundance of potatoes that we dug as well as squash, zucchini, and cucumbers in the fridge for a few more weeks.

Yesterday I picked some lettuce and an abundance of tomatoes.  I had nearly four pounds and over half of those were red cherry and yellow pear tomatoes.

These are the plants that produced most of the yellow pear tomatoes I picked.  They came up voluntarily in my compost pile, and I moved them to the garden.  They are still loaded.

Okra and Jalapeno Peppers - We are picking an average of 75 jalapeno peppers each week.
Corn, Tomatoes, and Cucumbers - All of the extra tomato plants went into the garden this year.
Sprouting Herbs
Radishes & Carrots
Tomato Jungle in the raised bed
The other end of the Tomato Jungle
Dill growing in a container
More Jalapeno Peppers growing in buckets
This is not quite everything, but it does cover most of what is growing now.  I have a variety of herbs with more sprouting.  I also have many more peppers.  I got a bit carried away with those this year.  I think I will be drying some as well as some tomatoes.  I do not want any of my garden produce to go to waste.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

FCCB Challenge # 164 - Father's Day

I cannot remember the last time I made my dad a Father's Day card.  This week's Fantabulous Cricut Challenge was a perfect opportunity.  I used the Celebrate with Flourish cartridge and chose the fishing pole since my dad loves to fish.  I used a blend of colors including a background piece this week.  I think he will love it.  The card is still not fancy, but I am making progress.

Low Sugar Blackberry Jam with Pomona Pectin

I love making homemade jam.  I am not so fond of all the sugar required when using traditional pectin products.  I have heard mixed reviews on the usual low-sugar pectin and getting the jam/jelly to set properly.  Last year I started using Pomona Pectin, and I love it! 

A typical recipe for blackberry jam requires 4 cups of mashed fruit and 7(!) cups of sugar.  The recipe using Pomona Pectin also uses 4 cups of mashed fruit, but I only added 1 1/2 cups of sugar.  The resulting jam tastes like the fruit rather than sugar.  I did only get 4 1/2 cups of jam compared to the 8 cups that a traditional pectin recipe would yield.  You have to consider the differnece in the amounts of sugar though.

I do prefer to can the low sugar jams in half pint jars.  The jam will last 3 weeks in the refrigerator once it has been opened.  A lower sugar content means less preservative so the jam needs to be eaten within 3 weeks.  It is delicious so that is not a problem. 

You can double, triple, halve, or even quarter a recipe with this pectin.  The directions even include some guidelines for developing your own recipes.  The new Preserving with Pomona's Pectin book is absolutely on my birthday wish list.  You can purchase Pomona Pectin from the Pomona website

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Give a Puppy a Bed.......

And he will sleep in a box.  Leo has several very soft pillows to sleep on as well as tunnel bed.  His spot of choice at the moment is a cardboard box.

When he is really tired, he will sleep on one of his pillows - sort of.

He started out on the pillow but ended up half off the pillow with his blanket all in a bunch.  The #1 rule of being a puppy - Play hard; Sleep hard!

Monday, June 10, 2013

I'm Back

The garden, crafting, and the animals have been keeping me busy.  You can see half of the 73 jalapeno peppers I picked at the end of last week.  I have some posts lined up all this week including a garden update and updates on the animals.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

FCCB Challenge #163 - Ribbons, Ruffles, & Bows

I am such a novice that I  feel like I should not be taking part in any paper craft/Cricut challenges.  At the same time I know the only way I will improve is by challenging myself.  I am joining in on the Fantabulous Cricut Challenge Blog's weekly challenge.  The challenge for this week is to create a project with ribbons, ruffles, or bows.

I used the Birthday Bash Cartridge to cut out the balloons.  Then I attached a ribbon bow with a small pop dot.  It is a very simple card, but the bow is a nice addition.