Sunday, May 27, 2012

Canning: Strawberry Syrup

We simply have to start this post with, Yummmmmm!

Strawberry Syrup

Wash and cap your strawberries.  For every 6 cups of strawberries, you'll need 1 cup of water.  Put your strawberries in a large pot, mashing as you add them in, and then pour in your water.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often to prevent scorching.
Set up your jelly bag, or a colander lined with two layers of cheesecloth, over a large bowl and slowly pour in the cooked strawberries.  Allow to drain fully and then refrigerate the juice overnight so any sediment will settle to the bottom.  There probably won't be much, but as with jelly, if you skip this part your syrup may end up cloudy.

The next day, ladle the juice off in a large measuring cup, being careful not to get the sediment mixed in.  In a separate bowl, measure out 1/2c. sugar for every cup of juice.
In a large pot, heat your juice to a rolling boil.
Do not skimp on pot size here.  You'll need the extra room.
Pour in your sugar.
Continue boiling until mixture is slightly thickened.  Mine took about 35-40 min.
You'll need to stir this occasionally, but since there are no pieces of fruit in it, it doesn't really stick much.
I checked the thickness by setting a small, stainless steel mixing bowl into a slightly larger bowl that had ice water in it and then pouring just a little syrup into the metal bowl.  The cold metal will bring the temp. of the syrup down quickly so you can see how thick it's getting.

Prep your canner and jars while the syrup is cooking so you'll be ready to go once it's done.
BTW - I put my washed jars on a cookie sheet in the oven, with the oven set on 225.  That's hotter than boiling water, and much easier than trying to jockey another pot or pan of boiling water around on the stove.
I know some people suggest putting the jars in the canner while it heats, and that would be fine, but I'm usually doing several successive batches of  things (I was processing jam when I started the syrup), so that doesn't usually work out for me.
Pour the syrup into to hot, sterilized half-pint jars.  Leave 1/4" headspace, wipe the rims and fit with lids and rings.  Process in a water bath canner for 5 min. once the water has reached a full boil.  Remove from canner and cool overnight.  Check for proper seals in the morning.
You'll get roughly 2 half-pints for every 6 cups of strawberries.  I started with approx. 18 cups of strawberries and lacked about 1/2" of filling the 6th jar to the proper 1/4" headspace.
But that's okay, because it tasted great on our waffles the next morning.

I've linked this post with the Homestead Barn Hop.
Check out the wonderful posts there.

I've also liked with the Carnival of Home Preserving.

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Monday, May 21, 2012

Re-purposing Denim

I save all kinds of fabric scraps, but one of the most useful has been denim.  I save everything from old skirts, jumpers, or my hubby's jeans, to leftover material from skirts or dresses I, or one of the girls made.  Some of the ways I've made use of these scraps are:

1) Patches.  Let's face it, not every hole someone makes in a pair of jeans or a skirt can be covered by one of those pre-made patches.  Since I take in mending from friends, whose husbands work manual labor, I've seen some pretty whopping holes.  Take it from me, lawn care guys can be the worst at making those super-sized holes.  It's easy to make your own patch any size you need by using some wonder-under (fusible webbing).  Just make sure you zig-zag around the patch so it will stand up to a fair amount of abuse.

2) Patchworking denim scraps into a triangle in order to make a pair of jeans into a skirt.  The girls got a skirt from one of their favorite stores a year and a half ago that looked like someone had taken a pair of jeans apart along the inside seams, and then sewn random pieces of denim into large triangles to be fitted between the left and right legs (front and back), in order to form a skirt. (I'll have to post about this one day.)  The skirt  was really cute, but it was also fairly expensive - around $60.  We decided we could make them ourselves, and have done so several times now.  Since I keep denim scraps on hand, all it cost us to make one very similar to the first was $4.50.  I don't know about you, but I'll take $4.50 over $60.00 any day of the week.  Thrift shops and Goodwill are great for your budget.

3) Pot holders. Since denim is heavy duty, it makes some really durable pot holders.

4) Patchwork rugs.  Here again, denim makes a pretty durable rug that can stand up to a lot of washing.  Here's the one Beenie made for Ri's hope chest.

She sewed the top together by herself.  I thought she did a marvelous job, especially since all she's ever sewn before were a couple of small pillows for her bed.  The dark pieces with little critters on them are pieces I saved when I was making what became T.Lynn's favorite skirt.  The back was made from the back panel of an old denim jumper that had started to wear out at the seams.

I'm sure you could find many different ways to put extra denim to good use, so if you haven't already, start saving it now.

I've linked this post with the Homestead Barn Hop.

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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Just Four and No More

Ri will have to excuse me for borrowing a line (and the title, I think) of a post she made a couple of years ago.  Her post was in reference to something T.Lynn had said when Ri was trying to talk her into letting Superman have some cookies they were making one afternoon.  After wheedling, and eventually bribing her, Ri finally talked T. into letting Superman have some cookies, but T.'s response was, "Just four, and no more."  That, as I said, happened a couple of years ago; before he and Ri were engaged.
Now those lines apply to how many more weeks I'll have her here at home before Superman takes her as his wife, and they start their new life together.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not sad.  I know things will be different around here, and I'm sure I'll miss her, but I don't really feel as though I'm losing her, as so many people have described it.  I love my daughter dearly, but this is exactly what I raised her for - to start her own life and family.  I feel as though it would be inappropriate to be morose about it.
On the contrary, I'm excited for her.  I look forward to seeing them grow in their relationship, and of course, I'm also looking forward to any grandbabies the Lord sees fit to provide. :D
So, four weeks to go before she gets married.  May God richly bless them as they join their lives and form a new family.
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Friday, May 18, 2012

Happy Birthday T.!!

A big ol' HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my baby.  T.Lynn turned 11 today and we marked the occasion with a trip to play mini golf, bumper boats, and arcade games.  We had a great time, and finished off the day with her requested birthday dinner of macaroni and cheese with bacon, fresh cut veggies, and the requisite cake and ice cream.  
When you look around all the goofing off and clowning, you can see glimpses of the fine little lady she's turning into.  She does love to make people laugh though, and she has a rather quirky way of looking at things that keeps us in stitches on a regular basis.  She is also very affectionate.  As I type this, I have two labels (she has a fondness for my label maker) stuck to my monitor, telling anyone who cares to read them that she loves her mommy.
I love you so much honey - Happy Birthday!!
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Sunday, May 13, 2012

Cookie Dough Dip

This is great to serve at a party.  Lys, Ri's maid of honor, shared the recipe with us, and Ri wasted no time requesting it for her bridal shower.  Although we serve it with chocolate graham crackers, the girls have been known to just sit and eat it with a spoon.

Egg-less cookie dough dip
1 - 8oz package cream cheese - softened
1 stick (1/2c) butter - softened
1 & 1/2tsp vanilla
1c powdered  sugar
2Tbls brown sugar
1c mini chocolate chips
1c heath toffee pieces 
You can use chopped heath bars if you can't find the pieces.

Cream together the cream cheese and butter.  Mix in the rest of the ingredients and chill.  That's it - super simple.  It has quickly become a favorite among our family and friends.  It tastes better if you let it hang out in the fridge for at least a few hours (or overnight), but it usually gets sampled here right off the bat.  So far we've only served it with chocolate graham crackers, but I bet it would be good with plain or cinnamon too.

I've linked this with the Homestead Barn Hop.

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Saturday, May 12, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

There is an instinct in a woman to love most her own child - and an instinct to make any child who needs her love, her own. ~Robert Brault
Happy Mother's Day to you all.
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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

More quilting.

After my intense dash to get Ri's quilt done in time for her bridal shower, you might think I'd take a break from quilting.  Trust me, during that mad dash I did want to take a little while off before I did another quilt.  But, we had a friend just about to have her 8th baby and Ri and I wanted to give her something special, so we decided to work together on a crib quilt. 
Ri made the top and I did the quilting and binding.
It's a little on the simple side since we've been busy and didn't have much time to get it done, but the blues and greens are perfect for our friend's new little boy.

I've liked this post with the UFO (unfinished objects) roll call. 

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Thursday, May 3, 2012

Bridal Shower Favors

As promised, here is how we decorated some rather nondescript bridal favors, to make them fit in with the party decor.  I found this idea somewhere on the internet - I wish I could give credit where credit belongs, but as usual, I didn't make a note of it.  Sorry 'bout that.
Ri's Maid of Honor, her best friend from church, her sisters and I all pitched in to make the favors.  In fact, we did several things that week.  We made the bridal shower favors and invitations, and tested out recipes for food and punch.  We drank so much punch one afternoon we weren't hungry for supper.
We started with packs of bridal favors that we got at the dollar store.  You get 10 for $1, which is good, because all the decorations can get pricey if you don't watch it, or keep scrapbook paraphernalia on hand.
Start by cutting the dress part off the bottom of the box.  You'll use this as your pattern.  If you have more than one person doing it, make sure you cut off the front and the back.  We ended up sacrificing two of the boxes because we had so many people helping. 
On the back side of a piece of scrapbook paper, trace around the pattern, and then glue the "new" dress onto one of the intact favors.
It didn't take long for the girls to get even more creative.
Here, she's made what will look like the underskirt portion of a dress by tracing the bottom.
Then she traces the top part and glues that on,
embellishes it, and...
An adorable dress.
Whether the dress was made from one piece of paper, or more, to create a layered effect, they were all enhanced with bits of lace (from my sewing stash), ribbon, sick-on jewels, or other decorations we picked up in the scrapbook section of the craft store.  The girls also used markers to draw some things, like lace-up backs.
My job was bending wire into miniature hangers.
I just used some wire I found with the jewelry making supplies, and shaped it with a pair of needle-nose pliers, clipping the ends off once it was done.  I had measured the width of the top of the dress so the hanger would stick out just a bit on both sides.
 And be prepared; creativity is messy.
But we had so much fun.
Once the boxes were filled, I put glue dots on the top, stuck the hanger on the dots, and then pressed the top closed.
We used my jewelry box to help display them since it looks a little like a wardrobe.
We had a dress hanging on one of the hooks on the other side.
The whole thing was so pretty.  The girls all did such a wonderful job.

And I'll leave you with this:
This was one of the other things we did that weekend; T.Lynn's flower basket.
She will be able to throw the petals that are in the center.  She's pretty happy about that.
Oh, and don't worry.  We took the monkey out before we stored it, so he could stay in her bedroom 'till the day of the wedding.  Now, we just need to remember him that morning.
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