Friday, August 27, 2010

Featured Square, Week Whatever: CORN!

One of our lovely ears of corn!
Yes, corn! We were so excited when we saw the first ear of corn pop out. We'd just had two ladies on two separate occasions tell us that we wouldn't be blessed with corn because we "didn't plant the seeds right." The said, "corn will only grow if planted three rows by three rows." They both said the exact same thing and do not know each other, so we believed it must be fact. Well, fact or not, we have about 30 ears of corn growing wonderfully in out garden! We haven't tried any yet, but there are a few ears that will be ready when Michele comes home next week and try them we will! SO EXCITED!
I love the look of corn stalks in the garden...and I
love it even more that there are ears of corn upon them!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Church Fundraising

This little beauty goes on the auction block on Sunday. I wish
I could keep it, but it's for a good cause. (And I COULD make
myself one.)
I'm on the fundraising committee at church and it is surprisingly fun! We get together and plan wonderful events that will 1. raise money, 2. attract new members, and 3. increase community within the church. I love being so involved and brainstorming with the three other folks on the committee. This Sunday we're having a silent auction and I am coordinating it - a first for me! It's fun collecting things from the congregation to auction off. I planned to contribute two items myself: a mini quilt and a prayer journal. I've been so busy with everything that I just started making them yesterday, though! I got the quilt done, but have yet to start on the journal. Hopefully I can get that done tonight (because tomorrow I need to get all the auction sheets done and Saturday I plan to make more pickles (yes, more pickles) and can some peaches (yum!)) I actually had so much fun designing and making the quilt that I am really tempted to make another one instead of the journal. Hmmm. We'll see. So, what do you think? Will it do well at auction?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Star Trek

As I've mentioned before, I have a Star Trek mission: to watch every Star Trek episode and movie in the order they happened in "real life." I started my mission after I'd already watched several seasons of The Next Generation (TNG), so I just went from there through Voyager (VOY) and then started from the beginning: Enterprise. Well, I've been slowly making my way through Enterprise these past many months. It's the only series I'd never seen and it is my very least favorite. I really had to work to get through it, but there were some points I enjoyed. They ended up explaining things that never really made sense, like why Klingons in The Original Series (TOS) looked human, but don't in any other series. It was fun to learn the history of the Federation, too. That being said, I'm glad I'm done with Enterprise. Now, I get to watch the latest Star Trek movie, which actually fits chronologically between Enterprise and TOS, and then I start on TOS - I know, it's full of flaky over-acting, but I really love it! I figure I'll just keep watching all the series and movies over and over in order for the rest of my life - I doubt I'll get tired of them (except maybe Enterprise, but it's worth the pain to continue my life-long mission).

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Birds, Birds, Birds!!

Bald eagle - see how
she eyes me!
This weekend, in addition to the fun I had at our church picnic, I went to a fabulous craft show at the Braddock Bay Raptor Research Center. Yes, that's right, I said RAPTOR. It was fearsome at first because at the very first booth was a display of birds of some sort - living ones that were not in any sort of cage. I hurried by and the rest of the show was lovely - full of wonderful crafters whom I know and adore. I was about to leave when my friend Casey, whose bird I've actually held and petted, said "Oh, why don't you stay to see the eagles." And I said, "well, that sounds like a really good reason to leave." But I stayed, oh boy did I stay. And I swear those HUGE birds eyed me the whole time - and they are bred to kill and eat, so I think it's completely understandable to fear them! Those talons and hooked beaks look just perfect to peck my eyes out!

She's looking right at me hungrily,
don't you think?
Golden eagle - staring me down
I'm so proud of myself, though, for staying and being in a very small room with two very big birds. I mean, I'm afraid of little birds that eat bugs and worms and have no interest in people. It's uncommonly crazy to be that close to birds that are actually MADE to eat meat and that are probably strong enough to at least rip off an arm. Baby steps to facing my fear (actually, I would consider this a great big giant leap, which should satisfy my quota of fear facing for the decade.)

Monday, August 23, 2010

On Display

How fun to have my work displayed
for all to see - and looking SO gorgeous!
My work is on display in a local Michael's! It's actually to show folks how lots of different items can be framed. My friend Karen's husband Randy, who works in Micheal's framing department, used to work of local artists and crafters to create the display. I can believe how awesome my hotpads look! Thanks Randy!
The mat he used for this one looks like it
was made just for it!
The framing makes a pair of simple
hot pads look like a work of art!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Canning Addiction

Sweet pickle spears - oh yum!
Absolutely the most divine bbq sauce
Pickled tomatos - so pretty!
Salsa and hiding behind in the quart
jars is roasted roma tomatos

I've become addicted to canning. It's just so fun that I can't stop myself. Last Friday, I made sweet pickle spears, roasted roma tomatos and garlic, and salsa. Saturday morning I made pickled cherry tomatos with garlic and rosemary. And Sunday afternoon, Michele and I made barbecue sauce. I just love the whole process from planting to harvesting to preparing to cooking to canning to enjoying the fruits of my labor! This weekend I have a craft show to visit (not vending just supporting friends), our church picnic, another church event tomorrow, and I'd like to wedge some canning in there tomorrow afternoon. I don't even know what I want to can, but it will probably be variety #4/5 of pickles (I've already made bread and butter, garlic dill, sweet pickle spears, and relish (though I don't know if that counts as a pickle variety, hence the 4/5)). I plan to do either kosher dill or a zesty sweet - I'm really leaning towards a zesty sweet this week and a potential kosher dill next week if I can harvest more pickling cukes. Like I said, it's an addiction!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Zucchini Cupcakes

Zucchini cupcakes with cream cheese frosting - I'm sure my
icing piping skills will improve with practice!
I've never made cupcakes before that I can remember. I've only actually made cake a few times. So, I wanted to try making cupcakes for our church's anniversary picnic tomorrow. I also wanted to use something in my garden to make them - enter the zucchini cupcake. I just used that zucchini cake recipe I made for the Squash You Very Much dinner, but I tripled the recipe. I had no idea how many cupcakes that would make, so I ended up with 70! Oh well, they are really yummy so any not enjoyed at the picnic can be taken to church on Sunday for after-service socializing. And since I really like trying lots of new things all at once, I wanted to trying piping on the frosting (my friend Karen does that and it just looks divine!) After a bit of trial and error and a LOT of mess - i.e. icing on the floor, counters, hands, feet, and most body parts in between! - they turned out pretty good looking - and they taste just awesome! If you remember from the dinner party post, the recipe calls for raisins in the cake, but I substituted craisins. Well this time, I used half craisins and half dried apricots - oh heaven!

Friday, August 13, 2010

We All Scream for Ice Cream!

Making vanilla ice cream for the first time
I'm not sure how I keep forgetting, but since April, I have been making ice cream about once a week (I don't eat the whole quart in a week. I have about 6 in the freezer at a time so I can choose from a variety). Small batches of creamy dreamy ice cream. Oh, it's been so fun! Michele and I made vanilla together when we first got the ice cream maker - it was wonderful. We even made some the morning of my birthday brunch to have atop the blueberry stuffed french toast - so decadent!

Yummy bowls of vanilla - Michele's fave!
My favorite flavor so far is sweet potato. I know it's a bit unusual and not at all a standard flavor, but it tastes amazing! It tastes simply like sweet potato, but icy cold. It even retains its sweet potato texture. Michele does not at all enjoy the sweet potato - in fact of all the flavors we and I have made, she really only likes the vanilla.

Jack Fruit ice cream
Tied for favorite in the exotic ice cream category is Jack Fruit! I brought a bunch of Jack Fruit home with me from Georgia and used most of it to make the most amazing ice cream I've ever had. Since Jack Fruit has flavors of several other fruits, Jack Fruit ice cream has a flavor that is uncatagorizable. Michele actually conceeds that Jack Fruit ice cream is very good, but she doesn't like the aftertaste. I admit that it does indeed have an aftertaste, but to me its like getting to enjoy the deliciousness twice!

Sweet potato &
chocolate chocolate chip sweet potato
And because I am me, I am going to make carrot ice cream as soon as my carrots are ready to harvest. I've found several recipes online (I guess carrot is a popular Thai ice cream flavor), but I'm not quite happy with any of them. I think I will make up my own recipe: Carrot ice cream with crystalized ginger chunks. I imagine it will taste like ginger glazed carrots (but cold.) I'll keep you posted. And now I think I will have my after dinner bowl of ice cream - Jack Fruit tonight!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Mama's Got a Brand New Bag. . .and Wallet

All my favorite colors - and of course they
coordinate with my carrot bag charms!
About a year ago, just after I opened my shop, I designed a tote bag that I wanted to offer for sale. Before selling most items I make, I give them a trial run to make sure I like the design and that they hold up well and function as expected. So, I dutifully made myself one of my Perfect Big Sis totes and have been carrying it day in and day out for a year (I've never been the type to switch bags often or coordinate my bag with anything, like my clothes. I just use one bag until I'm forced to retire it.) My bag has held up so well and its use has provided me hoards of information so that I can continuously work to perfect the design. And now I've decided that it's time for me to make a new bag for myself. And so I did - I made my dream bag (I have indeed actually been dreaming and thinking about it for months!)

I simply love just taking this out of my
bag and opening it - simple pleasures!
Making a new bag also provided me with the opportunity to make a matching wallet in a new design I have been working on for a few weeks. It is a billfold-type wallet with space for six credit cards, business cards, or IDs and space for money. I'm very pleased with the design, but I want to use it for a few weeks before I introduce any to my shop. It's such a fun process to design and make and test and redesign and make and . . . ahhhh!
The card slots in this wallets are SO fun to make!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Fire and Ice

While I was sick, I looked through the pictures I've taken this summer - I missed my garden so much, but "flipping" through the pictures made me no so sad that I couldn't go out and play. Well, while looking through them, I found two images that I took while Michele and I were in Georgia. It was hot, hot, hot. It had been 107 the day before we got there. The day after we arrived, we drove to Atlanta and I took this picture that morning:
100 degrees at around 10 am! WOW!!
And then later that day, I noticed this car and thought 1. what a great juxtaposition against the heat and 2. the person whose car this is must feel even hotter than Michele and I are feeling!

An Alaskan in Georgia in the summer heat

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Simple, Garden-Grown Meal

A delicious, simple, garden-grown meal!
I don't always take pictures of my meals, though it seems that I do throughout the summer when that meal is made up of garden fare. This meal was very fun. I made mini grilled cheese sandwiches with tomatoes from our garden and asiago cheese. I paired it with a pickle slice I made from a recipe a friend sent me - oh yum! - and some tomato slices that didn't fit in the sandwiches. It was a simple, fun, and fresh meal for a lovely Sunday afternoon.

The pickles we so fun to make and they came out so crisp and delicious. The recipe is from a very popular local restaurant to which Michele and I have never been, but we always mean to go. It's a barbecue place, but I think they have something vegetarian. Regardless, their pickles recipe creates a divine pickle!
Dinosaur BBQ Garlic Dill Pickles

Monday, August 9, 2010

Getting Up to Date: Squash Patties, Blueberries, and Broccoli

I have been sick in bed with the flu for the last week and a half (and then on Thursday I ventured outside for the first time in a week to get a little fresh air and after five minutes got stung by a bee! After which event I discovered that I have a "vigorous localized reaction" to bee stings, which means it caused a very itchy, painful rash radiating away from the sting halfway down my arm and side! Not a good time!)

So, I thought I would quickly update you on what's been going on with me, aside from my lovely summer flu and bee sting.

1. While Michele was home last, we made yummy, yummy squash patties. I found the recipe on a very wonderful blog, Turkey Cookies, which is written by a Rochester woman, though we've never met. We used yellow squash for our patties and they turned out so yummy. We made two varieties - one with pepper jack cheese and one with smoked gouda - oh they we so good and got even better as leftovers! 
Yellow Summer Squash Patties with Michele
2. My friend Deb and I went blueberry picking a couple weekends ago. So fun! We picked loads of berries - and tasted loads of them as well.
My picking bucket of blueberries, very nearly full
And then I made Very Very Blueberry Jam - it is so incredibly intensely blueberry. It tastes like heaven!
Jelly jars of jam all in a row
3. Last week's Featured Square would have to hands down be broccoli. I have never seen broccoli growing, so it amazes me to see it in our garden. Beautiful heads of broccoli. Michele should be home this weekend and then we will feast - a great broccoli feast!
A beautiful head of broccoli


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