Thursday, November 17, 2011

Living Design team treasury blitz


Cat portraits and gift ideas for your Kitties

Cat portrait. Isabella - October, 2011

From ScooterKnits on Etsy. I'd love to mash Thomas's head into this knitted pointy number. Oh the humiliation!

Cat portrait: Thomas, September, 2o11

I've purchased some collars from sweetpicklesdesigns. This one is called the Einstein. I had to order a "fat" size for Thomas! I am in no way saying that Thomas is smart like Einstein, because he is not. He's a big, hairy duffus and I love him :)

Cat portrait: Thomas, November, 2011 (it's hard to get an upside down cat to stay still.....say "cheese!")

And check out this knit mouse cat toy from VivaLeChat on Etsy. Only $6! That's a bargain. There might be some of these in the kitties stockings this year. So cute!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Pear Jam

We have a pear tree. This year it was so laden with fruit that the branches were sagging and some even dragging on the ground. There are still about 6 gazillion pears out there on that tree and we've harvested one five gallon bucket full.

What to do with pears? Well, besides eating them straight away, we wanted to try pear jam, which I've never tasted in my entire life, but sounds good, right? My first attempt was made using the instructions found inside the SureJell powder pectin box. You get this long paper foldout instruction sheet with instructions for all kinds of jellies and jams. This version has you dice up the pears finely, add them to the pot with lemon juice and the pectin and heat it until it breaks down, liquifies (mostly), and comes finally to a rolling boil, at which point you add the sugar....lots and lots of sugar.

The first batch didn't set so well and hasn't completely jellified, but the chunkiness of the jam is really pleasing, almost a kind of marmalade version. It's really great on english muffins.

The second attempt, made yesterday, has produced a better set jelly, but the pear broke down so much that it's more like jelly than jam.

For the second batch I followed the instructions from the packet of liquid pectin (instead of the powder). I seem to always have a better result with the liquid pectin across the board, so maybe I have learned something here. Basically, it gave me an actual measurement for cut up fruit (4 cups as opposed to 3 lbs of pears in the first recipe....does that mean before peeling and coring them or what?) Anyway, you add the sugar first and the pectin after the boil.....seems the stirring with the granular sugar broke the pears down more, but the jam tastes more like pears than the first batch.

Note: After the jam episodes, I searched for more storage ideas and found Pear Butter over at Frugal living. Such an easy recipe and such delicious results. Honestly, I'd make the butter before making the jam again, hands down!

We've got a pretty good store of sweetness put up for the winter!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

ArtHampton! Today October 1, 2011 from 10 - 3!

Come and see me!

Check out the ArtHampton map

I will be showing a limited amount of paintings, but mostly my quilting items. You can also meet and see work by Jeff Derose at Latent Echo, who is showing in my studio as well.

Update: What a wet, rainy, yucky day. It definitely kept the crowds down for the 2nd Annual ArtHampton event. Better luck next year.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Friday Deal!

Today Only!

Start your Christmas shopping early! Get 15% off this set of nesting bowls by using "FRIDAY" in the coupon code box during checkout! (15% applies to bowls only). Thanks so much and Happy Friday :)

Monday, September 5, 2011

It's National Sewing Month

Did you know this? Me either. It was created in 1982 by Ronald Reagan to recognize the importance of home sewing in our country. Sweet! Funny I didn't hear about this till just a few days ago. I can't remember where I saw it or how I was tipped off about it, but it is indeed true. It is National Sewing Month, and I plan on celebrating it!
A treasury I created firstly about memories of sewing with my Mom, but then decided it was about this month as well.
Part of the plan is to start creating table runners again. They were really popular. (see the detail of one above)

And over at Loft Full of Goodies you'll find this awesome needle book. I bought one recently, but it's blue, and I cannot sing its praises enough. If you hand sew, get one of these lovely little felt books to keep your needles in. I adore mine!

Check out the National Sewing Month website. They are holding a sewing contest through the end of September with three large baskets full of sewing supplies and notions as the prizes.

Friday, September 2, 2011

30 days of lists

Join 30 Days of Lists

After my huge success with The August Break 2011 (LOL) I've decided to participate in 30 Days of Lists (sept. 2011)! I signed up for this one a while ago and got caught up in the excitement and challenge of posting a list every day in September based on a given theme.

You can still sign up by clicking on the link above, it's only day 2 after all, and I haven't even made my first list! I'm thinking that my lists might happen once a week (all 7 of them), given that my time is in high demand these days. There is a tiny subscription fee, I think it was $5.95 or something like that, but well worth the fun and challenge it gives for the cost.

I still haven't really figured out if it is ok if it's a blog/digital list. They have a flickr page that people are using to place photographs of their journal entries of their lists! Not sure if that's my cup of tea....or if I actually have time for it right now. So, mine just might be a blog entry. We'll see.

It's still early, the day is just beginning. Enjoy it everyone!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

And the Winner is.........

PoetessWug!!! Woooooo!

I'm sorry it's so late in the day, but my day was hijacked by errands, traffic, frustrating situations, and much more. I've just gotten home and managed to get to the's 7:00 p.m.! I bet you were all wondering where the heck I was. Well, traffic with UMass move in day was a nightmare for one. Ok, I'll stop complaining.

Poetess, I will email you, or just come on over to your blog and let you know too! I'll be putting the bag in the mail to you tomorrow :) Yay!


Friday, August 26, 2011

Ya, just in case is right

From Nasa - check out this site for more awesome photographs
I don't know about you, but one of the most annoying things to suffer is a power outage (well, I'm sure there is a lot fact I know it, but right now I'd be annoyed with a power outage)....Especially if it goes on for more than a day and you have well water and sew in your basement for a living. If you don't know why the well thing plays in, it's because you need electricity to actually pump the water out, and so, no water with no power. Of course you can fill up your tub, fill up spare containers, buy water at the store, but this won't give you the usual hot shower in the morning, which I have kind of grown to love. I don't know about you.

Anyway, I'm reading all the info on, checking out our local tv stations to see if they really think this thing is going to create any significant damage. Turns out Patrick Deval has declared a state of emergency already for Massachusetts and Springfield has already canceled school for Monday. Really? And even worse, my Sister and I were at the mall today and the Gap girl told us that The Gap was not even going to open on Sunday....just in case. Gasp! I guess it really IS a dangerous storm. The Gap not open. Cripes!

So, busy person that I am, I'm planning a no power plan of attack. I've got a great new book about the Quilters of Gee's Bend ready,(Jeff just gave it to me!) the new Smithsonian Magazine and Wired. (I've got new batteries in the flashlight too), and I'm making a bunch of items that require handsewing.... mostly the nesting bowls. I'll have plenty to do if we actually do lose power for a week like the Western Mass Electric Company is telling people. It's true, they are calling their customers and telling them to be ready for power outages that could last up to a week. I hope not. Be safe everyone, and don't go plan on going to The Gap on Sunday.

I'm not planning on posting again until after Monday when this all blows over. See you Tuesday :)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Badminton Season is Open

requisite pre-game gin & tonic

Yes, my friends, badminton season is officially open at our house. We set up the net today and played a smashing game. I've always been way too competitive at sports like these, not that I'm a big sports nut, I'm all.... but I just love a fun game you can run around swinging a weapon any which way with hardly any rules or guidelines.

I can't remember who I used to play with as a kid, but I know I played, and I remember playing hard, until the sun went down and you could no longer see the shuttlecock, the net, or the other player across the yard. Must have been my Sister, cousins, friends next door, my Mom, someone I can't remember. Probably because I was so fixated on not missing the shuttlecock every time it came my way.

Today was no different (well, except that we only played for an hour and it still wasn't dark when we quit). We played really hard, and reacquainted ourselves with our celebratory stances when we won a volley (mine is a kind of olympic gymnastic dismount landing, except with a racquet in one hand), Jeff has perfected the open legged, one arm raised swoosh.

The gin and tonic waits close by.

I did a search on Etsy for Badminton to see if I could find some vintage shuttlecocks or racquets. I did find this from Dain Larson

And this from IllknowitwhenIseeit

Apparently Badminton has an unconfirmed history. It was either played by the Japanese, or Chinese before Christ was born, or the Greeks or Egyptians, all ancient and all some different form or kind of game. It was called Ti jian Zi in China, but there were no racquets. It later was called Battledore and Shuttlecock, until it migrated to the UK with some British soldiers. It was also played in India and was called Poona. "In 1873, the Duke of Beaufort held a lawn party in his country place, Badminton. A game of Poona was played on that day and became popular among the British society's elite. The new party sport became known as "the Badminton game". In 1877, the Bath Badminton Club was formed and developed the first official set of rules." And so, that's where it got its current name. I wish it was still called Battledore. I can hear the monster-truck-pull-voice-over now!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

OK, so the Mint Jelly demanded its own post

Perhaps taking on two kinds of jelly making in one day is just asking for too much. Yesterday, I made elderberry jelly and following immediately, I attempted to make mint jelly. It didn't set. I'm guessing it must have been in a twist because I devoted a whole blog post, photos and all, to the elderberries, and all the mint got was a tiny mention at the bottom of the post. Ok, Ok...I get it.

So today, after another run to the market for more pectin, I devoted my full attention to the mint. Of course, the mint plants are completely flowered out right now and there are a gazillion bees, hornets, wasps, beetles, and a huge assortment of all kinds of crawly things infesting the whole patch. The recipe demands 1 1/2 cups of packed mint leaves....that's a lot of leaves and takes a long time to collect when you are dodging stinging insects. It didn't help that Jeff disturbed an underground nest of yellow jackets close by the mint patch the day before and has waged complete and entire war on these guys since yesterday, including running the nest over with the car a few times. Needless to say, there are some really pissed off yellow jackets zooming all over the place still trying to place blame on whatever happens to walk by.

My Sister will be happy to know that the jelly is successful this time, so I'll have some jelly to trade for those eggs this week! Yippeee! I'm hoping to make one more batch of mint this week. This recipe only makes 4 - half pint jars....not enough to get hungry bears through the winter. The jars, above, are the results. Only three squat jars left, so there's a regular 1/2 pint mixed in. The mint, when boiled down, turns an ochre color, so I added only one small drop of green food coloring to give it a more appealing color.

This is such an easy recipe, if you manage to follow the directions precisely.