Monday, 30 September 2013

A request for a few moments of your time

Help support children's literacy with a moment of your time.

Just thought I would put this out there...We are trying to get some much needed new books for our school library.  If you have a spare moment, would you please consider going to the Indigo "adopt a school"  site and "adopting" our school - it's free, but each 50 adopters gives us one free book for our school library. Enter Hanna Memorial, Ontario in the search.

And, if you happen to have $12.00 to spare, each $12.00 donation on that site also gives us one new book.

Thank you in advance for your time.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

A new venture

For those of you who come looking for me every once in a while, I may be posting more sporadically than normal in the next couple of weeks.  I am in the process of setting up a blog...and writing it...for an artists' collective I am a part of.

If you are curious,
or interested,
or related to me (*wink*),
you can find it over here.

Hopefully, though, you won't even notice a difference.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Tissue box upcycling part 2, and some recipe links

I promised you more ideas for those wonderful tissue boxes, so here is part two:  price tags.
 I happen to have this handy dandy Fiskers circle cutter, but tracing a small cup and cutting it out works just fine too.  I cut a variety of sizes because a small tag looks ridiculous on a big piece, and a big tag looks ridiculous on a small piece.
 I also (by eye) cut some strips from the side panels of the boxes, and then trimmed off the corners.
Punch a hole, and voila!  Custom made price tags for your lovely hand crafted items.  The store I have my pottery in right now has a big focus on eco-friendly packaging, so I thought these would fit the bill.  They are big enough that I can write a little description or care instructions if I need to.
AKA: gift tags too, if you need to label a whole bunch of things.  I actually like to make a whole bunch of these at once and then keep them in a bowl for adding a tag to just about anything.
I tie them on with yarn or twine.

As always lately, there is pottery drying and awaiting transport to the kiln.

And since it was nice and chilly this weekend, I took the opportunity to test out a few recipes:
 This Amish Coleslaw  that I found at The Sanctuary Homestead.  Thank you Kristine.  I imagine you are supposed to wait a while before you eat it, like pickles, but we cracked one open the same day and it is quite tasty.  Crunchier than I was expecting.  3 out of 4 of us enjoyed it a lot... surprisingly, N (who loves coleslaw normally) would not eat it, but S, who usually only eats it if he HAS to, gobbled it right up.
 And these Chocolate chip zucchini, coconut cookies from Practical Stewardship were a big hit.  They were meant to be for snacks before cross country training, but everyone snuck some in their lunch today.  I guess that means they like them.

Linking up with: Frugal by Choice, Cheap by Necessity for Homemade Monday
                         Keep Calm Craft On over at Frontier Dreams

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

From the recycle bin - a pennant garland

We had our open house over at N's school last night, and I was looking for something to add interest to the "we are trying to get volunteers" table, so on my lunch break at work yesterday I came up with this little number. 
It is made of tissue boxes, and was easy peasy.  Here's the how to for new crafters:
And yes, if you are wondering, I DO choose my tissue boxes based on the patterns.
Open up the tissue box along the glued seam.

Using a paper cutter, or a pair of scissors, separate the patterned panels from those with print.

For this project, I only used the side panels.  Keep the smaller bits though - they can be used for other projects later (like these gift tags - you need to scroll down a bit).

I cut each piece to the same length (4 1/4") but I wasn't too worried about the width (tissue boxes are not standard, I have found).  I figured that would just add to the "home-made charm".

To cut the triangles, I just centered the bottom on the edge of the blade.
and then slid it over to do the other side.
NOTE:  If this project is being done by children, I recommend using scissors instead.

I hot glued along the top of the back, and tucked it up under one edge of a long piece of seam binding.
I glued all of the backs first, 

and then flipped the whole thing over to glue the front down as well.

I'm pretty sure a sewing machine could go through the cardboard as well, but hot glue is what I could fit in my purse :)

This is half of it, as we were setting up...

It's a nice, quick, easy project if you need a last minute decoration for an event that sneaks up on you.
Go ahead, start saving those tissue boxes.  You will start seeing so many ways to use them.

Linking up with: Transformation Thursday at the Shabby Creek Cottage
                         Creative Friday at Natural Suburbia
                         Craft Frenzy Friday at Obsessive and Creative
                         Homemade Monday at Frugal by Choice, Cheap by Necessity 

Monday, 9 September 2013

Shop Update - the gift tags are listed

 The quilt block ornaments / gift tags are finally listed over in my Etsy shop.   

 Each piece is hand stamped, hand cut, and trimmed before firing.  They are unglazed to show the texture more, and are all traditional quilt block patterns.
 They will make lovely ornaments...

 ...and really dress up a package.
Supplies are limited...there won't be another batch in time for Christmas.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

A pottery update

I realize it has been quite a while since I posted any pottery related goodness.  This week (tomorrow in fact) marks the return to the studio.  While I'm waiting, I have been playing around with a few ideas this week:

 A new pitcher style I am trying.  I think this time around I'm going to focus on hand building.

 A couple of lanterns in various stages of drying...playing with pattern.

Playing with texture...I can't wait to see this one come out of the kiln (unless I ruin it).

And testing out a few ideas with tiny pieces, all packed with "fluff" to help them survive the trip across town.

I tend to post individual pieces on my facebook page as I work on them, rather than here, so if you just want to see the odd picture here and there,  feel free to "like me" over  here.  I would enjoy a few more "likes".

Linking up with:  Creative Friday over at Natural Suburbia

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

What I learned processing home grown fruit

This is the first year that I have had enough fruit in my own garden to process.  I learned a couple of things.
When you leave for work in the morning and there are 3 peaches on the ground, and you come home to find 100 peaches on the ground, it is time to pick them all...even if they aren't ripe.  I considered trying to salvage the fallen peaches too, but they were too bad to be salvaged.

I still managed to get about 20-25 pounds (our estimate - I forgot to weigh them).  I learned that the boiling water trick to remove the skins does not work with under-ripe peaches.  I learned that it takes a whole lot longer to peel a basket of tiny peaches from the garden that have bug bites than a basket of perfect peaches from the market.  I learned, belatedly, that I should have trimmed off the bottom branches of my peach tree as the fruit is too shaded to get very big - it's marked on the calender for next spring.  And I learned that 2 1/2 hours of peeling does not result in very many peaches at all.  I had planned to can them, but ended up freezing them in portions that will be just right for with waffles this winter.  I just couldn't add the amount of sugar that was required for canning.  I. couldn't. do. it.
 12.5 pounds of grapes that I picked from my friend's driveway.  If they were my own grapes, I would have made juice with half and jam with half, but the deal was - I would pick her grapes, make jam, and then split the jars between us.
I questioned the part of the recipe that called for peeling 8 cups of grapes, and reserving the skins to add back in.  I'm glad I followed that part of the recipe.  I followed the whole recipe.  From a cookbook.  Because it would be tested.  It failed - miserably.  I ended up with 14 pint jars of grape sauce/syrup.  I re-opened all the jars, poured them into 2 big pots, added pectin (of which there was none in the original recipe) and reprocessed them.  Now I have 14 jars of very thin jam, bordering on sauce.  I questioned the part that said to add 2 cups of water to the 3 cups of sieved fruit (per batch) but did it anyways.  Next time I won't (the joy of cooking says add up to 1/2 cup, if necessary).  I learned that grape seeds really jam up the food mill, so I will try to find something better for next year, however, I also learned that boys really love to peel (squish) grapes, so I will remember that for next year.

I processed some apples too, and learned that my new apple corer doesn't work nearly as well as my mom's old apple corer.  Darn "new and improved" design.  Its just different enough to be useless.  I learned that, like the peaches, the tiny little apples don't go far once you remove the "weird" bits.  I was trying to make a couple jars of apple pie filling but ended up with just one, because once the boys saw the bowl of apple chunks, they wanted apple crisp for dessert (and S actually stepped up to make it), and because I gave up with a third or so of the batch left to peel.  Arthritis is not my friend.
And last but not least, I learned that there is a reason I label everything.  I label the spices, but apparently, someone else in my house does not.  A jar of unlabeled spice that I took to be paprika (because there wasn't one labelled paprika) was actually cayenne pepper (of which we have 2 jars???).  Add that to the fact that little tiny jalapenos are stronger than great big jalapenos and you end up with 10 quarts of salsa that is borderline too spicy to eat.  I did correct one mistake between batches though, and used the plump juicy tomatoes for tomato juice and bought more plum tomatoes for the salsa to save an hour and a half or so of simmering time.  And by the way, juicy tomatoes just have to be roughly chopped for salsa, but plum tomatoes stay in great big chucks if they are roughly chopped.  Another item to note on the recipe for next year.

The biggest lesson I learned:  although I consider myself quite old-fashioned and about the most "could-make-it-as-a-pioneer" person I know in real life (I'm not counting my internet friends), I would fail miserably if I had to support our family on the food that I could put up.  The weekend of canning just about did me in.  I can't imagine having to put up a whole winter's worth of food.  It's not all bad, though.  So far, I have managed to put up a year's worth of dill pickles, sweet pickles, hot peppers, salsa, tomato juice, half a year's worth of jam (with fruit in the freezer waiting for me), and dried all the herbs we should need and a few extra bits here and there. I'm not giving up yet though...I have cancelled my weekend plans and hope to stay home to do round 2 this weekend.

Linking up with: Wildcrafting Wednesday at Mind Body and Sole
                         Homemade Monday at Frugal by Choice, Cheap by Necessity
                         The Backyard Farming Connection - Hop