Friday, July 30, 2010

Fun in the Sun

It's funny how something so simple
can be SO fun!
My local Etsy team, RNEST, has a ball monthly participating in team challenges. This month we are having fun in the sun with summertime or picnic themed crafts. I had a great time over the weekend making a summertime version of my tic tac toe sets and then Michele and I had a ball "testing" it out! I swear we played tic tac toe for about two hours! Check out all the talent and vote for your favorite here.
Bumblebee "Os" and Blossom "Xs"

Monday, July 26, 2010

I am the Pickle Master

All the yummy ingredients for
pickles and relish
Oh boy did I have fun making pickles this weekend! Wow! And I canned for the first time in my adult life - we canned when I was a child, but I don't remember helping. I was VERY fun. I made bread and butter pickles and zucchini relish - except that I had such a wealth of yellow squash in the garden that I used that instead of zucchini, so I guess I should say I made yellow squash relish. I cannot wait for more things to ripen so that I can 1. eat them and then 2. can them!
Pickling cukes and onions taking
a COLD salt bath

The finished product: bread and butter pickles on the left
and yellow squash relish on the right. YUM!!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A Squash You Very Much Dinner

I wanted to have Deb over for dinner to thank her for caring for my garden during my Georgian vacation. I thought it would be lovely to feed her the very items she'd been caring for (which is a concept unique to garden-sitting and would be not at all appropriate for baby-, house-, dog-, or cat-sitting.) Unfortunately (or fortunately since everything was DELICIOUS) the only thing ripe, ready, and meal worthy was summer squash - zucchini and yellow squash. Well, that and pickling cucumbers, lettuce, and basil, but that doesn't really make a meal, does it? I had my doubts about making a meal out of squash, but it was really fun!
This was as delicious as it is pretty!

We enjoyed a Marinated Squash Salad - which I did serve on a bed of lettuce from the garden. This salad was SO good and refreshing, not to mention colorful!

Blossoms patiently waiting
in my messy fridge
Our entree was as fancy as can be with a Squash Blossom Frittata. Squash blossoms are best picked at dawn, so I arose from my bed this morning and dashed outside to pick these lovelies, then stored them in a glass of cold water in the fridge to keep until dinnertime. The frittata itself came together in a jiffy and was simply delicious!
Here it is while it's still cooking and before it is
topped with the cheese. I used both female
and male blossoms (the females are attached
to the tops of the two baby squash in the center.)

And here it is topped with asiago
cheese after a few minutes
under the broiler. YUM!!
This was so good! Oh, so good!
Now, I was at a bit of a loss about dessert. Since I'd hit on a theme, I didn't want to stray from it, so I googled "squash desserts" and got about a million hits! Whodathunkit?? I decided to try Zucchini Cake. I thought the green of the zucchini would look pretty against the white(ish) cake. For the same reason I used craisins instead of the golden raisins the recipe called for (color, color, color). The cake is like a light, fluffy cake version of its denser cousin, zucchini bread. The cream cheese icing lets the enjoyer know that it is closely tied to sister dessert, carrot cake. Zucchini cake is the less sweet, less dense sibling.

Deb, I and the garden thank you VERY much!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Featured Square, Week Six: Pickling Cucumbers

I get so much joy everytime I walk past this week's featured square and see fat pickles hanging off the vine. It's a very cool sight! I cannot wait to try my hand at making pickles - oh how I love pickles! Bread and butter pickles are my favorite.

I have two pickle-related goals: 1. to eat a carrot dog topped with my homemade bread and butter pickles and 2. to send my mother a jar of homemade pickles - I got my love of pickles and olives from that dear lady (oh how we had fun eating copious amounts of pickles, olives, and cheesecake when we shared an apartment!) So, to get started toward my goal, I need to find one of those fancy crinkle-cut slicers so that mine come out all ripply and cool like those that are commercially made and I need to settle on a recipe. Oh what fun!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Fruit Tastings, Year Two

On our visit to Georgia, I decided to reprise my exotic fruit tasting adventure from last summer. What fun. We went back to the same two farmer's markets, but I picked totally different fruits this time (except for guava, but this guava was totally different.) Here are the results:

I found three that I did not like at all: Dragon fruit, Horn Melon, and Papaya. I don't think it was the fruits' fault though. Dragon fruit was so beautiful it really raised my expectations. The taste wasn't awful, it just wasn't as fabulous as the outside made me think it would be. Horn Melon must have some use other that eating it straight because it has absolutely no flavor. And then there is papaya - again, my expectations were too high. I fully expected to love papaya, but didn't like it at all!

And then there were three that were OK - not great, but definitely likeable: Korean melon, Pepino melon, and guava. The Pepino melon tasted like a combination of every melon you've ever had, which was fun. The Korean melon was a richer tasting honeydew melon, and the guava, well it tasted like guava, though I didn't like it as much as last year's pink guava. 

And now for my absolute favorites - the fruit I would eat again and again if I could: Mangosteen, Guinep, sour and sweet Tamarind, and Jackfruit, glorious jackfruit! Now, I'd had mangosteen juice, but a conversation with a Thai woman in the stored informed me that mangosteen juice is made from the skin of the fruit, while you eat the white flesh inside - oh how yummy it was!! Guinep reminded me of lychee in looks - eyeballs - but its taste is very unique, wonderfully so! Tamarind, sweet or sour, is just divine! There is nothing I didn't like about it. And now for my absolute favorite: Jackfruit! WOW!! It looks extraterrestrial, which in and of itself is cool; it tastes like everything good about tropical summer: bananas, mangos, peaches, mystery, heat, love, joy, everything heavenly and sweet! I adore jackfruit! I even tried a few boiled jackfruit seeds, which I think taste like mashed potatoes without butter and milk (which would normally be bad, but works in jackfruit seeds.)

I had a ball tasting all these lovely fruits, Gloria, my stepmom, had fun eating them with me and telling me stories about growing up eating many of these in her native Phillipines, and my dad and Michele had fun refusing to taste anything and watching me eat too much jackfruit and get an upset stomach! A grand time was had by all!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Missing You

I'm actually in Georgia for the weekend having a wonderful time with my dad, stepmom, and Michele. . .but of course I am missing my garden. I found this picture of the daisies in my front yard and can't think of anything more cheerful!

My great and wonderful friend, Deb, is watching over the garden for me (and my wonderful neighbor, Rita, is likely watching over Deb!) so I know it is in good hands, I just am so afraid that I will miss something new and wonderful while I'm away. It's so worth it, though, to get to spend time with my family!

Secret Garden

My yellow squash truly amaze me. At first glance it just looks like a wild bunch of huge leaves:

But there's a secret garden of beautiful golden goodies underneath! It's just amazing!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Featured Square, Week Five: Peas

A special request from Michele was that we have peas in the garden this year, so I planted a box of peas and found my first pod today! They really seem to sneak up on you and are even pretty hard to see in this photo:
Can you find the pea pods?

I really couldn't bring myself to pick just one box this week, so here are a few of my favorite things:

Potato Flowers - I had no idea they would be so elegant and beautiful

Pickling Cucumbers - aren't they adorable!

Literally a "busy bee"

Boy am I proud of our garden! It amazes me every day!

Monday, July 5, 2010

My Fourth of July Weekend, Part 2

I also spent part of the weekend working on another mini quilt. This one is for a very dear friend who loves dolphins. I named it "Dolphin Frolic" and I used the same technique that I badly described in my last post about quilting. The water and the dolphins are individual "quilts" that are partially attached to the main quilt. To give the sky a bit more dimension, I did the same with some of the clouds.

I'm off this week - my company closes for a week for 4th of July every year - and it is very hot outside, so I think I will be spending a lot of time quilting. I'm excited to get started on the next idea that's in my head!

My Fourth of July Weekend, Part 1.5

While I was sleeping and then later while Deb and I were mooning over the lilies, Michele was navigating her big truck through the streets of New York City! She sent me some pictures that I thought I would share with you:
This image is just quintessentially NYC!

Central Park

Central Park, too

Taken through the windshield! I love this picture because you can see the hood of the truck - it's exactly from the driver's point of view! It's also just a little scary because that underpass doesn't look quite big enough for a big rig!

My Fourth of July Weekend, Part 1

I hope everyone had a wonderful and safe Fourth of July weekend! Mine was great. Michele is on the road, but will be meeting me in Georgia this coming weekend to go visit my Dad, so I didn't mind that she was away for the fourth!

I got to spend some wonderful time with my very good friend, Deb. We went to a day lily garden and an arboretum on Saturday. Oh, how lovely!

Here are my favorites from the lily garden:

I see another Lily Garden quilt coming in the near future!

And here are my favorites from the arboretum:

Now this birdhouse is gorgeous! I'm thinking about building a replica of our house as a birdhouse (but I'll display it in the sun porch, not outside! I'd hate to actually ATTRACT birds!)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Quilting in the Rain

OK, I wasn't really quilting in the rain, but it was gray and rainy outside this past Friday evening and Saturday afternoon, so I decided to spend some time making a couple mini quilts for two wonderful friends of mine. This first one is for a friend who is very fond of bright colors. I thought it would be fun to pair a bright, bold pieced tumbler block background with a white flower applique. I named this one "SummerSault" as a little play on the tumbler block and summer flower and colors. This one will is in the mail on the way to its new home!

This second one was so fun to make. It is for a very fun friend who loves Converse All Stars / Chuck Taylors. I've had this quilt in my mind for quite a while now - about a year! - and I've finally got it down on fabric. I wanted to try something a bit three-dimensional and I think it turned out really great! It's definitely a technique I'll use often. The way I did it was to make some parts of the shoe little quilts in and of themselves: pieced front, batting, and
backing - and then instead of sewing the whole piece down, I only sewed parts of it, so that the rest would stick up a bit and give the piece dimension. Then, once I had the whole shoe pieced together, I backed it again with batting and backing before sewing the whole thing to the main quilt. I'm probably not explaining it well, but in my mind it was a very easy process - though I'm sure there are lots of other ways to do it, too! This little baby is called "You're an All-Star" because, well, it just makes sense, plus the recipient really is an all-star in my book! Wish I could see her face when she receives it!

I had fun this weekend and kept myself busy. You know what they say about idle hands, right?


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