Salt Preserved Citrus 


Month 2 of the food in Jars Mastery Challenge was just right for me. I have always wanted to make salt preserved lemons but never had a reason to. This February I decided to make both salt preserved lemons and key limes. 

For the lemons I used a recipe from The Homemade Kitchen by Alana Chernila. I can. It wait to try them. 


I am the most excited about the key limes. I can not wait to add these to some tacos. I’m dissapointes that I’ve never tried salt preserved citrus before considering that it’s so simple. 


Salt, sliced fruit, salt, sliced fruit, salt and you are done. I did have to add a bit of key lime juice just to avoid air contact on the top layer.

February Make Nine 2017 Update 

Month 2 of 2017 is almost over and I have knocked out 2 of my planned make nine projects for the year. This one is near and dear to my heart , literally and in terms of my sewing skills. 

      With February being the month of love I figured it was the perfect month to start my operation lingerie drawer project. I started with the Boylston Bra from Orange Lingerie. I searched a lot for the right pattern and from the reviews to the gorgeous versions I have seen all over it was clear that this was the pattern for me.

       I ordered a kit from Tailormade Shoppe  on Etsy and then put those gorgeous fabrics and the pattern in my WIP pile and walked away.  Then Orange Lingere and Tailormade linked up and offered kits specifically for the Boylston Bra and I was smitten so I ordered 2 more kits! My reasoning being if I’m going to revamp my Lingerie drawer I might as well get the right tools and materials. 


  It took me a while to get up the guts to cut into the fabric and even to read the instructions. It was all so silly, once I got started I was immediately confident in my skills and could see that this was going to be a smooth process. My first wearable muslin was not the best sizewise so I readjusted a bit and got started. My first completed Boylston is far from perfect, the topstitching  is a bit wonky but it’s wearable and a whole lot prettier than anything else in my Lingerie drawer. 


Even after my fit adjustments I still feel I can get a better fit the next time and I can not wait to start in my next one. I had such great success with this first finish I know I will be making loads more. It’s a relatively quick finish as long as you have all the materials you need. This went so well it may have inspired me to fill out my Lingerie drawer with even more styles and types of garments, keep your eye out for some silky, pretty things coming soon.   

2 snow days = marmalade 2 ways 

I was so excited to see that Marisa from Food in Jars is hosting a year long challenge on  her site. The Food in Jars Mastery Challenge  is meant to push you to learn new skills and techniques with a new focus each month. This challenge gets to the heart of what I want for my Mean Lean 2017, cut out distractions  and really challenge myself to stop saying no to what I want to do. Canning and preserving has become such a big part of our lives now I really wanted to spend this year improving my skills and learning new ways to put food up for our family.

January’s challenge is Marmalade. I have never been a fan of marmalade, all those chewy bits of rind and the overpowering bitter flavor. It’s never been something I’ve wanted to eat let alone make myself. In the name of learning new skills and techniques I was not going to back out of the first challenge. Just before we had a big snow storm last Saturday I went out citrus sourcing. One of my favorite jams is grapefruit and vanilla so I thought about making a pink grapefruit vanilla marmalade might be manageable. My back up plan was to get some Cara Cara or Blood oranges.  I was able to find Ruby Red grapefruit without much of a problem but I didn’t like the look of the Blood oranges available that day and went with Cara Cara  oranges instead. On my last stop of the pre-snow errand run I stumbled on some Satsuma Mandarins. I picked those up thinking that we could at the very least have a great snack while we were snowed in if they didn’t make it into marmalade.


For my first batch of marmalade I wanted to use a simple recipe to see if it was marmalade itself or  commercial marmalade I didn’t like. Food in Jars has several small batch marmalade posts that will give you a head start and explains the different processes that you can use.  I used Marisa’s Cara Cara Orange  and Ginger marmalade recipe , with a few adjustments.

  1. I boiled the rind for the full 25 mins to remove as much extra chew as I could.
  2. I switched out the ginger juice for the same amount  of  the water I boiled the rind in.
  3. I added the scrapped out seeds and pods of 2 vanilla beans to the pot when I started to cook the marmalade.  ( don’t forget to remove the pods before to put it into your jars)

Everything else was exactly the same as the recipe. I did get a looser set than I remember commercial marmalade being, but I prefer a looser jam texture anyway. It took quite a while to reach 220 almost 40 minutes I’d say. In the end I had 9 half pints plus  a small portion to test. The flavor is more bitter than the grapefruit jam I love but it was delish and I immediately started thinking about how I could use it.


The next day I couldn’t stop thinking about those satsumas and what other flavors I could combine with them. I have always loved the smell and flavor of clove and orange. It always feels so warm and cozy. I was dreaming about a warm wintery  marmalade with a little hint of spice from the clove on top of a warm clementine cake or English muffin. I got to cooking almost immediately.  


Satsuma and Clove Marmalade

  • Prep Time: 30m
  • Cook Time: 1h
  • Total Time: 1h 30m
  • Yield: 7 Half pints

You will need

  • 9 Medium satsuma mandarins
  • 4 c Sugar
  • 1/4 c Lemon juice
  • 10 Whole cloves
  • 2 c Reservedrind boiling liquid
  • 1 tbsp. Powdered pectin if needed

How to make it

  1. Peel the rind off of all 9 mandarins and cut to the size you desire.( I prefer very thin strips) Cut enough rind to make about 2 cups. Fill a pot with 4 cups of water and the chopped rinds. Make a cheesecloth bundle for the whole cloves and put it in pot with rinds and water. Boil for about 20 minutes.
  2. While you are boiling the rind, purée the manadarins and lemon juice by using your food processor or with immersion blender. Once rinds are done strain into pot with your mandarin purée place Clove/ cheesecloth bundle to the side for now.
  3. Into the pot with your mandarin purée add sugar* and reserved boiling liquid. Stir to combine. Place clove/cheesecloth bundle in the pot and bring ingredients to a boil. Heat until mixture reaches 220 degrees
  4. Always test you set as some fruit has less pectin than others, I generally prefer a loose set in my jam and now my Marmalade. Fill jars leaving a 1/2 inch headspace and process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes.
  5. * if you want to use pectin, whisk it into your sugar before you add it to the marmalade

 


See those little guys floating around in the half pint in front? For this batch I didn’t taste an enormous amount of Clove flavor so I did a test half pint with 3 whole cloves in the marmalade. My plan is to taste test in about a month or so to see if there is a more warm and cozy flavor or if I just wasted 3 cloves. I will let you know either way.

 

2017 Quilt Nine Plan 

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Introducing the other half of my Mean Lean 2017 Plan. I thought that the Make Nine Challenge was such a great way to jump start my year why not use it to inspire my quilting too. This is my Quilt Nine Plan, some of these are things that I want to finish or start. Some of them are just things that I am inspired by. Looking at my picks,  I was surprised  that I have quite  few seasonally inspired quilts in the mix.

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  1. Donut Quilt by Pen and Paper Patterns and  for Love Pathcwork & Quilting 

This one is part request from a special someone and part inspired by a book. I can not wait to see what this one turns out to be. If you are looking fro the pattern you can find it in Issue 37 of Love Patchwork & Quilting

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2.  The Make Do Challenge, I love the idea of using what you have and continuing to love it after its original use has ended. The idea behind it is inspired by Sherri Lynn Wood  and trying to do a small part to eliminate textile waste by using salvaged clothing or textiles to make a quilt.

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3. The first  of my seasonally inspired quilts to pop up. I love the way that Nicole of Modern Handcraft interpreted this great pattern by  Sherri K. Falls from her book Holiday Wishes. We have very bright and cheery holiday decorations with a mid century feel, aluminium tree included. this Quilt is the perfect holiday quilt for our house and I cant wait to stare at my color card for hours deciding on the perfect shades to use. this is also a bit of a challenge to my self to try and use mostly solids.

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4. I am going to call this my 2nd seasonally  inspired quilt. I participated in the #pineapplequiltblockswap on instagram and I have 20 pineapples all stitched up and ready to turn into a quilt.

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5. In my opinion you cant have pineapples hanging around without flamingos. I have been dreaming of a flamingo quilt fro a few years and this year I want to at least get a solid plan together.

 

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6. On-Point Quilt by Sew Fresh Quilts 

I bought this pattern, picked and bought  and fabric last January. I even cut all the fabric last January. Then it just sat and sat and sat. This year I will finish it.

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7. The Collection Quilt by Carolyn Friedlander

This quilt has been on my wishlist for a while, I can not wait to get started on this and spend the year truly slow stitching.

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8. Stars and Stripes by Thimble Blossoms. 

I absolutely adore this quilt and can see it being used for picnic after picnic.

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9. The Quilt by Me

Last but not least is this lovely monster. This quilt is truly a labor of love and sweat and tears and  a few years. I would love to have this finished by November so that we can use it this winter.

Mini Polaroid Quilt Blocks


I joined a quick  fun quilt swap this fall and can’t wait to get my blocks in the mail. The idea was that we would be placed in groups of twenty and each of us would make a Polaroid block for everyone in the group. The blocks are very quick and easy to put together.  Follow along  if you like #polaroidgreetingswap.

I start all my swaps and projects by sketching them out ahead of time. For this swap I sketched out the basic shape and size for all the pieces I needed to cut then made a  graph to keep track of each swap partners likes and color preferences, then I numbered each box to make it easier to keep track of.


Then I made  a little Polaroid template to use as a viewfinder when I was looking for the snapshots for each person. This part was the most fun, since I got to shop a bit for each persons likes and find the best fit in my stash. It was nice to have a wide range of different colors and a few “surprise me” ideas mixed in too.

 

After fussy cutting my little snapshots out I only used about a fat quarter of white to cut out the strips for all the  sides of my Polaroids. I used 12 – 1″by 20″ strips and  4 – 1.5″by 20″ strips for all 20 Polaroids. I chain pieced them 5 at a time with a 1″ strip (1)  on each of the sides of the snapshots (2). Then trimmed and pressed them open with the seams away from the center of my snapshot (3). Then chain pieced them 5 at a time to the top of the snapshot (4). Then trimmed and pressed the seams away from the center of the snapshot(5).Then stitched on the final 1.5 inch strip to the bottom of the snapshot (6.)

your first little polaroid

Press your seams away from the center of your snapshots and you have your first mini polaroid. Trim them to 3″ by 3.5″ once all complete and you are all ready to ship out or turn them into something for yourself!

all ready to ship out

I’ve been trying to figure out what I am going to do with my polaroids  from my partners and have been eyeing these ideas lately, what do you think?

Love in Polaroids with do. Good Stitches

I love this quilt from http://www.stitchedincolor.com/2012/06/love-in-polaroids.html its got such a great scrappy feeling and seems so happy to me

Rainbow polaroid quilt block

and this one from http://wherejanecreates.blogspot.jp/ it’s the ultimate in happy and you could make it really fun if you combined the top quilt and the bottom quilt somehow.

 

Looking Back

Last January we sat down and tried to come up with things that we would actually do in 2014, not necessarily resolutions but more of a list of reminders. We were able to keep to most of them for about half the year and then everything changed and we had to reevaluate our goals and reminders for 2014. In the end we were able to end 2014 in a good place, not quite where we wanted to be but never the less in a really really good place. For the most part our year turned from a year of sparking our interests and starting to do more of things that we had never done to a year of really letting things go and just letting things happen as they happen. Looking back we accomplished a lot of things and I tend to make our list of to-dos a bit on the high and time demanding side.
  Canning and Pressure Canning
 This goal was a huge success we ended up with a fairly decent canned food pantry. I have gotten pressure canning under my belt and we make and can our own chicken stock every few weeks. We canned just about everything that we could from our local farms and farmers market. We also have been coming up with a plan to keep track of everything we made and how much we used. in 2013 we only made 6 pints of salsa, we ran out in about 3 months so this year we made 12 pints of 2 types of salsa. Hopefully this will be enough for the year!
  Project Life Photo Albums.
I had planned to continue doing our project life for the year, but lost interest about 2 months in and never really picked it back up again. I still love it as a way to keep track of our lives but it got so that I was making myself feel guilty when I didn’t get a chance to work on it and then never wanted to work on it because I was so far behind. Eventually I just decided to let it go for the year and see what would happen.
  More Day Trips in the Area
 This was one of our more challenging ideas for the year. My varied schedule and only having one weekend off each month (sometimes not even one weekend off a month) made it hard to complete this challenge and we did not accomplish our goal of spending more time in the Richmond and Charlottesville area. We still plan to try and do a bit more traveling this year but just like this year we aren’t caught up in the idea of completing our challenges so much as thinking about them and enjoying the opportunities to take them on.

Our Little Garden 2014

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This year we have made a lot of changes in the garden as well as a few new additions. I have a personal goal to grow wonderful tomatoes this year and am following the same tomato pruning and sucker reducing plan as Elise at Elisejoy.com.  ( Thanks for the great pruning ideas) Last year we had so much rain that it was almost impossible to get into the garden unless you got out the rowboat, everything got way too much water to survive. Our solution was to dig out the grassy patch and fill it with rocks to raise the path a little bit. We have had a lot or rain lately so we have been able to test out our theory and eventually had to add a few more bags to level things out. We have finally gotten it to the right height and even after 2 days of heavy rain we can get into the garden without boots or a boat. I switched up the mix in the garden this year too. We only had one flower in our garden last year. This year we are trying some natural pest deterrents and companion planting to increase our crop this year.
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We are still using the square foot gardening mindset and trying to maximize our small space for the best return. I learned a few things last year from some major failures. We have tried to grow tomatillos, either transplanted or grown from seed, the past 3 years. The seedlings never survived and last year we found some starts at our local nursery and tried one of those…. it grew beautifully. We had  a very vigorous  healthy plant with tons of blooms and strong branches, but we never saw any fruit forming. In July I started to get a bit nervous and started researching, turns out you really need 2 plants so that they can cross pollinate each other. So we know we can care for and grow the plants we just need more than one. We also had an epic battle with cutworms last year and lost almost all my seedlings and starts in the first month of our growing season last year. This winter we did a lot of prep work in the dirt to try to eliminate any little creatures that might be growing in there. We also saved as many toilet paper and paper towel rolls as we could  so that we could try putting those around our little starter plants to protect them in the beginning.
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We added a fun little spot of Lula to play this year and tried a sweet pea and sugar snap pea tee-pee for her. She picked out the seeds for the flowers and helped me plant them. She is very excited about putting ribbons on the top in the summer and I am thinking about weaving some scrap material  through the bamboo stakes to help the vines climb and make it a little more cheerful. kind of  like this little weaving how-to for kids from Acorn Pies.   I’m also planning on some ladybug habitats like these.

100 Happy Days

 

 

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I joined the 100 Happy Days challenge in March. So far I am a quarter of the way into the challenge and love it.  It’s simple, inspiring and has been a lot of fun. Most days I have a hard time picking out which picture I want to use. The best part ahs been the reminder that there are so many happy things that happen even on your worst day. A lot of people have asked me about the challenge and don’t seem to understand the idea or why I would want to do it.

 

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Honestly I am not doing this challenge for anyone but me. Yes, I am, posting the images for anyone to see but the reason behind them is completely selfish, I don’t care who likes them or how many people look at them. At the end of the day I feel better about how my day went and remember to think about the little happy things the next day.

Photo Mar 25, 8 14 55 AMPhoto Mar 26, 9 39 57 AMPhoto Mar 27, 2 17 22 PMPhoto Mar 28, 7 47 28 PMPhoto Mar 29, 11 25 21 AMPhoto Mar 30, 3 15 23 PMPhoto Mar 31, 5 43 44 PMPhoto Apr 01, 8 04 47 AM2014-04-02 20.54.13Photo Apr 09, 8 47 28 PMPhoto Apr 10, 7 14 41 PMPhoto Apr 11, 10 33 39 PMPhoto Apr 08, 7 42 51 AMPhoto Apr 06, 5 40 08 PMPhoto Apr 07, 2 14 13 PMPhoto Apr 05, 7 09 52 PMPhoto Apr 04, 8 54 34 AMPhoto Apr 03, 12 24 45 PMPhoto Apr 12, 8 45 15 PMPhoto Apr 13, 9 10 25 AM

Photo Apr 14, 7 16 53 PMPhoto Apr 15, 4 08 32 PMPhoto Apr 16, 6 29 25 PMPhoto Apr 17, 5 30 54 PMPhoto Apr 18, 12 47 29 PM

 

want to join the fun?

#100Happydays