Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Freezer Jam!

Yesterday I made my first batch of freezer jam ever and not only was it super fun, it was also easy and delicious (bonus!).

We decided to use strawberries, because they're one of Nick's favorites. The recipe is:

One packet of freezer pectin,
Four cups of crushed fruit
One and a half cups of sugar.

Instructions are on the back of the packet (that link is literally the exact brand I used) but you mix the sugar and the pectin together, and then you add the crushed fruit and mix for three minutes.

I figure most people would crush their fruit in a blender, but because Nick and I don't own one (sad) I sat there with a cheese grater and a fork, and grated and mashed the fruit by hand. It took ages, but I was so happy with the results I have no complaints!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Birthday "Card"

I loved the Thank You banner so much that I wanted to use the idea for something else: my brother's birthday "card". What do you think?

It was tons of fun to make, and I love that it makes a plain blue bag a lot more fun :)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Thank You Note/Banner

I've been slowing down on posting because in a few days all I'll have left to post about is a couple hand made birthday gifts, and I can't possibly post about those until the people open them to see them first, can I?!

But in the mean time, here's a thank you note/banner that I sent to my Oma for helping us out while I was in Tennessee:

Isn't that fun? I used yarn to crochet tiny flowers (called Mollie Flowers) and then clued the letters over the yarn to create a little banner. I got the idea from the Decorated Cookie's bunting. And I realize that what she did and what I did look nothing alike. But that's still where I got the idea.

Oma loved getting the note in the mail, so I consider this a good idea :) I have a few other Thank You notes I want to send out, so now I have to decide if I want to copy this idea, or do something else...such a conundrum.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Want to see something delicious?

This is five or so cups of frozen garden strawberries (yum!) three and a half cups or so of ice, and a quarter cup of water thrown in a blender until smooth. I found mine to be a tad sour, so I added a handful of blueberries to it. Perfect! I so badly want to make this at home on some of the hot days we have...but we don't own a blender :( Can you think of anything more sad??

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Nantucket Baskets

Ever heard of a Nantucket basket? No? Well that's ok, because as of a month ago, neither had I! But in Tennessee, one of my relatives (Geni tells me she is my first cousin twice removed, but it makes more sense to call her my aunt) taught me to make a basket. I won't bother to explain how they're made, because this website does it better, but there are some things I want to mention (after pictures, of course!).

Making a basket is a lot of fun, and takes more than a little patience. While I do wish that everyone could learn how to do it, unfortunately this is a fairly expensive craft. The molds alone are 50$ a pop, and then you have to buy the cane, the spokes, the bottoms, and the rims, plus lids, handles, and clasps for the fancier types. The best way to learn (other than taking a class where the entrance fee includes the materials) is to meet someone who does it and is willing to let you use their mold.

Anyway, weaving a basket is lots of fun...but it makes me want to learn to weave cloth even more!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Fruit Cupcakes

These cupcakes are a mash-up of a bunch of different ideas I got from the internet:

1. Cherry Surprise Cupcakes from Cupcakes Take the Cake

2. How to Draw on Food tutorials from The Decorated Cookie

3. Stacked Cookie Sandwiches from The Decorated Cookie

What do you get when you smoosh together that many inspirations?

Fruit cupcakes!! First I mixed my batter (I accidentally forgot milk in my first batch, but caught it too late to do anything about it. They still tasted good though!). Then, I inserted a piece of fruit into my cupcakes. In the large one, I put in a piece of strawberry, and I did a dozen each of cherries and raspberries.

After they were cool, I wanted to frost the non-cherry ones (since the cherries have stems [and pits!] they didn't need anything else). I frosted the strawberry ones with a basic frosting and then I put "labels" on them:

Since the raspberry ones were so small, I decided to stack them before frosting them:

And then I gave them labels too!

I used a silicone mini baking tray, which is nice except it was very near impossible to get the mini cupcakes out in one piece. If you're going to use one, you almost have to use baking cups. I finally found some at Micheal's, but I never could find any at the grocery stores.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Salmon Caprese

This was a salmon dish that Nick and I made one night for dinner and really enjoyed:

Salmon with pesto and lemon juice and mozzarella baked on, served on top of fresh tomatoes, from that cookbook I mentioned, No More than Five Ingredients. So delicious!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Hot Pad

After the failed attempts to felt (or full) the ex-sweater pieces, I was really wanting to try to felt something else, so I bought some yarn and made a hot pad that I plan on felting later:

I know it looks weird now, but it should look really nice after it's fulled. That one missing bauble...yeah, that was on purpose. Yeah.

Friday, August 20, 2010


Remember the brown rag rug? Well that same designer had a second pattern for a rug using the same techniques that I also wanted to try! So I ripped up an old burgundy sheet and made this:

She also has a pattern using plastic grocery bags that I'm excited to try!

Thursday, August 19, 2010


First I have to say that today I have such a brilliant day! I got two birthday gifts made, and one wrapped (I'll share later-- I told you I'm behind!) and I got the apartment straightened and pretty, and the menu for this week written! Here it is:

Thursday: Cheeseburger Pie (Yes, I know it sounds weird, but we figured we might as well give it a try-- it's not really possible to screw up ground beef and cheese, is it?)

Friday: Apple-Stuffed Chicken Breasts. I love cooking stuffed chicken. Once we stuffed the chicken with tomatoes, spinach, and Parmesan, and that was fantastic, so I figure apple should be pretty marvelous, too.

Saturday: BBQ at my Aunt's! Fun!

Sunday: Stuffed Potatoes. This is like a baked potato, except instead of putting everything on after the potato is baked, you mix the boiled potato with everything and then spoon it back in the potato skin to bake it. We'll see...I love potato, so I'm sure I'll like this fine, but there's something kind of fun about building your own meal at the table, you know? So this might not end up being a favorite.

Monday: Sesame Shrimp Pasta. We did a shrimp dish awhile back, so we already have that, and we always have a stock of pasta. That makes this a fairly cheap dish-- all we need to buy is the sesame and veggies!

Tuesday: Rice case we're out of leftovers by then! We take leftovers from dinner for our lunches, so we always try to have a lot of them in the fridge. When we start to run low, rice dinner is the meal we make! It makes tons of leftovers!

Wednesday: Baked chicken in Lemon and Wine. We don't cook with wine very often since it's so expensive, but occasionally we splurge-- and then you have the added bonus of a glass of wine with dinner. I'm collecting wine bottles right now for a project I have in mind (my own home-made flavored vinegars and oils, with the name of each etched into the glass) so all the bottles are on top of the fridge. It makes a nice display up there!

I like sharing menus. Last time, I even got some tips from my Mom when she noticed I was about to screw up (apparently, bbq sauce is not a good substitute for Worcestershire).

Major Project: Brown Sweater Update!

I know it's been forever since you heard anything about the brown sweater, but look!


And here you thought I wasn't getting anything done!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Ethiopian Food

Nick and I are big fans of Ethiopian food, especially the injera. So we did some research on some recipes for faux injera (which uses soda water instead of sitting out for a week) and chicken stew and made ourselves dinner!


Isn't that fun?? We loved the food, although it's way better at the restaurants (of course)!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Purple Butterfly

Remember the purple bag my boyfriend made as a Christmas gift for his Mom? Well look what he made as a package top:

Isn't he just the cutest ever?

Monday, August 16, 2010


This is just a silly little thing. My boyfriend's grandmother (so sweet) gave me a big bag of yarn and patterns, and in the bag was a couple of pieces she had started, but decided not to finish. I studied the piece and was able to finish the stitch to complete the row, which left me with a long, narrow piece of cloth. I could have pulled it all apart and used the yarn, but I thought it would be nice to have a runner that was made by someone I knew-- I always like looking around the room and being reminded of the people I love! So here's the finished piece:

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sleeping Shorts

My cousin gave me this pair of sweat pants that turned out to fit like this:

...which was not particularly comfortable. So I cut them off at knee length, and stretched the jersey tight while I was sewing a zig zag along the edge, which resulted in:

Much better :) They're a child's size large...but that seems to work out just fine.

Also, I joined this site called My Sewing Circle, and it works a lot like Ravelry, except that it's more difficult to share patterns. Anyhow, if you're into sewing, it might be a good thing to look into!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Knitted Belt

A small aside to point out that this is my 200th post. Yeah, pretty cool.

I have this cool little book called The Little Box of Knitted Gifts that Nick gave me for Christmas last year. and this belt was one of the projects.

Obviously, it's not quite finished yet. When I have the money, I'll buy buttons to add to it and a belt loop. Until then, it's just a strip of cloth that someday wants to grow up to be a belt!

Friday, August 13, 2010

I'm Back!: Menu

Sorry for the long silence, I was in Tennessee looking at things like this:


Anyhow, now that I'm back, I thought I'd share with you something that me and my boyfriend do every week. We sit down, surrounded by cookbooks, and pick out that week's menu, writing the shopping list at the same time. It's a lot of fun, and it gives us a chance to balance new techniques with things we already know how to do (which is nice).

Here's our menu for this week (we used to start on Tuesdays, and now we start on Thursdays, for no particular reason):

Thursday: Rice Dinner-- Rice dinner is our easiest meal that we do at least once a week because it produces tons of leftovers. It's the typical college student meal: two cups of rice, sausage, a couple eggs, veggies, and beans...and then we look in the fridge to see if there's anything else we can throw in. I eat mine wrapped in a tortilla with some cheese: Nick tops his with cheese and eats it with a fork. It's anything but classy, but it's fast and filling, and we tend to like it!

Friday: Chicken Roast-- This recipe comes from More than a Cookbook, which my Mom gave to me when I moved here. The point of the cookbook is to use their weekly recipes, but Nick and I just pick one to do a week. The "chicken" roast we picked is actually called a "pork" roast, but we tend to prefer chicken to pork. 

Saturday: Colorful Frittata-- From The Taste of Home Cookbook. My grandmother (on my Father's side) gave me this cookbook just yesterday, and I love it. It's huge and I doubt we'll ever get tired of it. This recipe is an egg dish with tons of colorful (and yummy) veggies inside. I tend to forget to cook vegetables separately from the main dish, so I prefer dishes that have vegetables in them.

Sunday: Zucchini Creole: From Mama Trude's Special Cook Book which I am quite sure is a family friend of some sort. This book is written on a type writer with no publication information. The recipe calls for a pound of hamburger (we'll probably use ground turkey), 3 cups of zucchini (chopped), 2 large tomatoes (chopped), 1 large onion (chopped-- we'll used minced out of a shaker), 2 cloves of garlic (chopped-- we'll used powdered), 1 large bell pepper (chopped-- I'm thinking red would be pretty), 2 ribs of celery (chopped-- which we will skip because neither of us likes celery), 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 2 T Worcestershire (we're going to use bbq sauce), 1 t sage, 3 bay leaves: Cook the meat, put all ingredients into a large pan, add water to cover, cook all together like a thick stew. Eat over rice or noodles. Suffice it to say, we rarely follow a recipe to the T.

Monday: Macaroni au Gratin-- From the Rumford Complete Cook Book. This cookbook is from 1931, and an inscription on the inside cover declares that it belongs to my Great-Grandmother. She has filled it with other recipes and comments, and I am so in love with it. Hopefully the binding holds up-- I'd like to pass this one along.

Tuesday: Tempting Tacos-- From Good Cookin' from Good Friends: A Collection of recipes from family and friends around the country. This one is done by some friends of my Grandmother's, and while it does have some publication information, there's no copyright so I feel ok sharing :) 1 cup chopped onions (we'll use minced), 1 1/2 lbs ground beef (we'll use turkey), 1 T cooking oil, 1 15oz can tomato sauce (I have paste, we'll see), 1 cup beef bouillon (I have cubes-- we'll see how that works), 2 t chili powder, 1/2 t cumin, 1/2 t salt, 1/4 t pepper: Brown onion and meat. Stir in tomato sauce, bouillon, chili powder, cumin, salt. Simmer uncovered for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Fry tortillas in deep oil (which we will skip). Spoon beef mixture into shell, garnishing with shredded cheese, chopped lettuce and tomato. Salt and pepper to taste (salt and pepper on tacos?).

Wednesday: Easy Pasta Skillet-- From No More than Five Ingredients, a cook book I bought as a fundraiser from my cousin. I can't find anything about it online, but it is a handy little book, and the recipes are quick and pretty good. This recipe is a one-pot meal (my favorite kind!) and has the meat, pasta, and sauce all cooked together. It's pretty crazy, but it looks pretty good!

So anyway, there's this week's menu. I'll share these from time to time!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Tea Cozy Sachet

Back when I made my Tea Pot Cozy, I decided to make the version that had a small pocket in the bottom of it for a scented sachet. On a walk through town I picked some lavender from the side of the road, and I let it dry in my kitchen window. When it was dry, I crunched it up and pulled out an old cloth napkin:

I cut circles out of the napkin that were about the same size of the pocket:

Last, I sewed it up by machine and tucked it into the cozy:

 And so now every time I make myself a pot of tea the smell of lavender fills the kitchen :)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Swap Gift Shrug

Remember the awesome yarn Jan got me for our swap gift? Look how cool the shrug I knitted up turned out:

 I plan on adding eyelet lace cap sleeves and a white ribbon border to the neck line, but for now I love my little shrug :)

I did have a problem with having enough yarn, but I wanted the shrug badly enough that I made it work by matching the color (although not the fiber). I don't recommend doing this if you can avoid it, because now it will be super difficult to wash the piece, but if you're desperate, it is an option.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Rag Rug Doily

I love love this idea. First take a bed sheet you don't need. Fitted or flat, satin, cotton, or jersey, whatever you have that you don't need. Now tear it into strips and string it all together to make yourself...yarn. Yeah, you're about to knit with an old sheet. How awesome is that?

So I made a doily mat using this pattern my boyfriend found online (and which was also on Ravelry-- very handy) and now it's next to my bed so that every morning I step out onto a rug instead of the wooden floors :)


Isn't it pretty? here's a close up of the detail:

The artist displays her half-circle version as a door step, and several other knitters made theirs as full-circle rugs.

The large needles and bulky sheet-yarn are difficult to work with, but I am of the opinion that the final result is well worth the effort!

I have one more sheet that I can use, and I'm lucky that this artist has a second rag rug pattern! I look forward to using that one, too :)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Colorful Cupcakes

A while back (before I blogged) I made a cake that had rainbow colors inside, and I decided to replicate the idea with cupcakes. I had a bag of Jelly Beans in my pantry, and wanted a cool way to use them.

When I went to Whole Foods to pick up a jar of frosting, I also picked up food coloring to color that frosting (and we all know how that went).

So when I wanted to color white cake, I used these same colorings. These are the cupcakes from the outside:


And this is the insides:


That white? That's supposed to be blue. So disappointing. Whole Foods can't even do food coloring right.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Kitchen Window Treatments

When I first moved in, I didn't have curtains that fit the kitchen window, and the sun coming in during evenings (right as we're washing dishes, usually) was absolutely blinding. To solve the problem temporarily, we put up a fitted bed sheet.


(P.S. You can see my air orchid hanging in the window-- I have two of them, and they're the only house plants I can keep alive!!)

So originally the plan was to take some of the floor length curtains I had and make it into Austrian Blinds...without buying any supplies. Needless to say, I had to find a new plan after failing miserably.

So when my Oma came to visit, she helped me make these instead:



This was really simple: we just took two store bought, floor length curtains that matched and cut them to the length of the window, plus a couple inches. We hemmed them, and hung them. Now I have an open window when I want the light, and a closed window when I'm blinded while doing dishes. Perfect!