Thursday, 21 February 2013

Working my way through my Grandmother's Stash

Around the time my grandmother turned 95 or so, she was no longer able to remain in her home full time.  She was able to keep her home, and go spend a day or so there at a time, but for the most part she was in a nursing home.  During one of her visits to her home, she packed up a rather large fabric stash for me and sent it my way via my parents.  She has since passed a way, and for a while, I couldn't bring myself to cut into most of the pieces.  Since then, though, I have been working my way through the stash bit by bit - because that is, after all, the reason she sent it to me in the first place.  Enter:  the picnic bowl cover I saw on Meadow Magic.  I thought the fabric pictured above would make a lovely set of picnic bowl covers...
  ...and also in the stash was this piece of quilted material that I used as the inner layer.  Exactly enough to make two covers.  I simply cut my two kinds of fabric to the same size as the quilted material, serged 3 edges, and flipped it inside out.  I then folded under the last edge and sewed it shut, continuing all the way around the rest of the square to make it neat and tidy.

 The picnic bowl cover at Meadow Magic used fabric loops at the corners with caribeener style clips to hold down the corners, but I wanted a quick project.  She also referred to one that uses grommets in the corners, but I didn't have any on hand.  What I did have on hand was a handful of alligator clips and a variety of red beads from my sister.
I put a bit of beading wire through the alligator clip, strung on a couple of beads, and viola!
I made two covers and then sewed the rest into a rather long tea towel.  I will need to make some smaller ones I think, since this one is on the largest bowl I own...I guess I wasn't thinking.

 Here's a shout out to Kathryn at Kathryn's Brain.  On her "things that work" post last week, she said that if you bite a match while cutting onions, your eyes won't water.  It reminded me that I had heard if you light a candle, your eyes won't water - a huge problem for me.  I cut all the onions on the board without my eyes watering, and N was mesmerized by how much the flame was crackling, snapping, and fizzing during the process.  And since he was in the kitchen...
 ...I put him to work...(he's on a stool there...he's growing, but he's not quite that tall yet!) we could have two pots of soup instead of one.  Ta-la!

Linking up with: Stash Bash with Crunchy Catholic Momma
                         The HomeAcre Hop #7 at the self sufficient homeacre
                         Fiber Arts Friday at Wisdom Begins in Wonder
                         Creative Friday at Natural Suburbia

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Low tech kitchen gadgets and home cookin'

I thought I would share two of my handy dandy kitchen gadgets with you...
 My trusty mortar and pestle - I use the same one for grinding bread crumbs, herbs, crackers/cereal or whatever else I need to grind.  I was laughing at my own self this weekend while making up a batch of bread crumbs.  I used to buy bread crumbs in a package.  I guess I just thought it would be a big job to do a whole container full at a time.  Now, whenever I have that last slice of bread that is going stale - I chop it up into crouton size pieces, and toss them into a bowl to dry.  When I need bread crumbs for dinner, I just grind what I need.
And is actually and old wood working mallet, but I use it for smashing my potatoes.  I cook the potatoes (in the microwave - I know...still working on eliminating the microwave cooking) and then smash them flat with my mallet, drizzle on some olive oil and a little salt and roast them in the oven until they are nice and crispy on the outside.  Even picky pants N (who does not like potatoes-or anything else it feels like some days) will eat these.

Do you have any low tech kitchen gadgets you just love to use?
Both were used Sunday to make our "smashed pork tenderloin" - a dish I save for weekends, but which really only takes an hour to make the whole dinner.  Not sure why I always think of this as a labour intensive meal.

And since I was in the are some easy peasy home-made chewy granola bars:
 In a large bowl, mix 2 cups quick oats, two cups puffed millet (or puffed rice, or rice crispies or whatever you like that is kind of light and fluffy), one cup of nuts (I used pecans here but almonds are delicious), one cup flaked coconut - unsweetened, 1/2 cup chocolate chips (or more), one cup dried fruit of any kind you like, one 14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk, and 2 tbsp butter.  Pat it into a 9" x 13" pan lined with parchment paper.  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.  Wait a few minutes for it to cool and then cut into bars.
Mmmm.  These are so great in the lunchbox...if they make it that far.

And if you are in the mood for baking:
I finally got around to making the 100% whole wheat bread from old world garden farms and it was indeed delicious.  It doesn't need to rise for nearly as long as my old recipe, and it is really nice and fluffy...not at all dense like most whole wheat breads.  I will be making this again.

And here is something disturbing:
While grocery shopping the other day, I was in the baked goods aisle which I seldom visit.  I was in the mood for biscuits with dinner and wasn't sure I would have time to make them after finishing the groceries.  There was a package with 6 little biscuits for $4.99!  $4.99 for 6 biscuits???  Yesterday, I made 16 for about $2.00.  Half went into the freezer for the next time I get a hankerin' for a biscuit.

It was a re-fill the freezer kind of weekend (yay for new stat holidays).  What did you do with yours?

Linking up with: The Backyard Farming Connection
                         Keep calm craft on over at Frontier Dreams because I'm creating in the kitchen.
                         Homestead Barnhop over at The Prairie Homestead
                         Homemade Mondays at Frugal By Choice, Cheap by Necessity
                         Eco Kids Tuesday at Like Mama Like Daughter 
                         What I am Eating over at Townsend House

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Knitting and Reading - taking it easy

My last couple of knitting projects have totally taken it out of me.  I had to unravel my colour work sock which I had spent hours on because it was too tight (although the colour work itself, I really liked) and after spending two weeks on a project that I had to frog and knit and frog and knit only to have it come out so bad I actually threw it in the garbage can (I couldn't even salvage the yarn at that point), I decided that I needed to spend some time with a mindless project.  No new skills, no paying attention, just grab a ball of yarn and go.
I am calling it my 2 year blanket because I would like to have it finished by next summer.  It takes me roughly 12 and a half minutes to knit one row of this blanket so it will be a long long process, but, I don't even have to pay attention to it.  Right now, that is exactly the kind of project I need.  I will be casting on some more complicated projects shortly but I think I will enjoy having this one sitting around to pick up when I need a break.

I finished Middlemarch on the weekend, and have moved on to "A Rose for the Crown" which is set in the midst of the York/Lancaster battle for the throne.  I am only on the second chapter so far.  It is also exactly what I need right now...something I can pick up and read here and there for pure entertainment.

What are you working on and reading this week? 

Linking up with Ginny at small things for Yarn Along.  Won't you come join us?

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Around the "Farm" This Week.

Like most areas around here, we got some snow...
 I think the city looks so much prettier when there is snow...well, until the snowblowers and plows come out.  We are one of the few families left on the street shoveling the old-fashioned way.
 Our indoor cat was let out for a little adventure.  He liked the snow, but really did not like the wind at all...which is strange because in the summer, he loves the wind.
 Random pretty things...
I always like the look of snowy branches against a grey sky...
 Inside, we are keeping warm with soups, stews, baked goods...
 Something I am testing out - more on this later if it works...
 ...and of course, there are repairs being done.  N's room is currently empty so the ceiling can be fixed. 
I found our creature in there before I remembered to shut the door.

What is happening around your "farm" this week?

Monday, 11 February 2013

Using what I have - Camping Seats

A little while ago I found a fantastic idea for crate seats at a day in the life of miss kranz via pinterest. I thought they would be positively fantastic for camping...bring up the camping gear in them, and then sit on them once they are empty (or still full, whatever).

I happened to have some empty milk crates and a bunch of scrap materials so here we go:

I would guess that milk crates are standard size, so I am including my measurements.  You may have to adjust if you are using a different crate.
For each seat, you will need a 13" x 13" piece of wood for the top (or whatever the dimensions of your crate are) and a 12" x 12" piece for the insert (so the seat doesn't wiggle around, you know).  My husband happened to be out in the garage one day, so he willingly cut them for me from a trunk we had taken apart.  So far - all scrap.

Then I cut 13" x 13" squares from some 3 or 4" foam (this used to be a cushion on said trunk that was taken apart, but lately, the cat has been sleeping on it).

 It was pretty thick so I had to go through it layer by layer.  It took three passes to cut through it. 
By all means, feel free to use thinner foam depending on what you have around.  I had planned on adding a layer of quilt batting over the top to smooth the edges, but I was all out.  I did happen to have a baby blanket that had a stain on one end, so I cut out 4 squares 19" x 19" to layer on top instead.
The "blanket" goes on the bottom, then the foam, then your larger wood square on top.  Pull the blanket up snugly in the middle of one side and staple in place.  Then do the same to the middle of the opposite side, then the middle of the two remaining sides.  This will help make sure it is all neat and tidy and doesn't shift around while you work on the corners.

Keep the corners as neat as possible so that you don't have a problem with the second layer.

 It should look something like this...
I actually really really like them just like this...but they are for camping, so can you imagine how dirty they would get?

Now repeat the process with a nice sturdy fabric (I cut three squares from the old cushion I mentioned before, and one square that was left over from last week's floor pouf).  I cut this fabric a little bigger so I would have plenty to work with to make the corners neat even over the first layer.  Once your centers are stapled in place, pull the corner down, staple it, then tuck in and pull while it is held in place with the staples.

Last step: lay the 12" x 12" piece of wood in the centre and drill a screw into each corner.
I inset the screws to avoid drilling through too much fabric.  My plywood was 3/4" thick so I used 1 1/4" screws on three of the seats.  The seat with the thickest fabric (and not so tidy corners, I must admit) did not hold with 1 1/4" screws because there was just too much fabric in the corners.  I used 1 1/2" for that one, and I put a screw in the middle of the seat as well as the corners.
The 12" x 12" wood piece fits just perfectly inside the milk crate, while the rest of the seat sits on the rim.  It is sturdy, and quite comfortable actually....and it was all scrap/ re-use/ things I had on hand.  Total cost for 4 camping seats with storage:  $0.00.  If the fabric wears out, I just need to unscrew the 4 screws and change it.  I may consider doing something about the crate itself down the road...I am not overly fond of the red plastic, but it's camping, so I won't be picky!

Linking up with: Backyard Farming Connection Hop #19
                         Keep Calm Craft on over at Frontier Dreams
                         Eat Make Grow Blog Hop - no Buy February at Foy Update
                         stash bash over at Crunchy Catholic Momma
                         a new blog hop I found over at Frugal by Choice, Cheap by Necessity
                         Creative Friday over at Natural Suburbia
                         The Homeacre Hop over at the Self-sufficient Homeacre 
                         Eco Kids Tuesday at Like Mama Like Daughter 

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Using up and making do...

...this one is about finishing up projects.

 I have finally finished my "floor pouf".  I started it so long ago that I can't find it in my archives.  It was inspired by a picture at maya made when she released her book.  It is made with some random piece of thick fabric from my stash, a zipper salvaged from a pair of old coveralls at work, and it is stuffed with...
... all kinds of bits and pieces.  Fabric bits too small to use, failed projects that can't be salvaged, strange pieces of material passed on to me by others (that aren't nice enough to be used in other projects), and the trimmings from the crocheted T-shirt rug project.  It took me months and months to stuff this pouf bit by bit (hence, the zipper).  I brought it out to show the family when the last bit of stuffing went in and they quite literally dove on it.
S wants one made out of old jeans, and N wants one too - he's not too particular what it will look like, so I will be saving every single piece of scrap for the next long while to stuff some more.

 I have also finally used up the herbs I had dried this past summer (the non-food herbs that is) to make a quite large sachet for the linen closet.
This one is stuffed with lavender, penny royal, mint and tansy because that's what grew well enough to harvest enough to stuff a bag.
 Remember the dyeing with walnuts post from the fall?  I just kept throwing fabric into the pot to see what else I could dye...this is the last piece that went in.  It didn't come out as I had hoped so it was in the reclaim pile.  I folded it in half, serged two sides, stuffed it, and then used some "lavender" embroidery floss to sew it shut.
I think it is so pretty!  It kind of looks on purpose, even though it was made with scraps.  I love when that happens.  Also, a note - the blanket stitch was added because when it is time to replace the herbs inside, it will be super easy to rip that out and refill it.

And because it is three things on Thursday:
#3) patience pays off.
I have been looking for a stainless steel tea kettle for camping for the last several months.  I didn't want to buy a new one (but I almost did when they went on sale 1/2 price).  I picked this one up yesterday from our local on-line perpetual garage sale for a great price.  Now I'm so glad I waited.

                         The HomeAcre Hop over at the self-sufficient homeacre
                         Backyard Farming Connection Hop # 19  
                         Keep Calm Craft on over at Frontier Dreams
                         Eat Make Grow Blog hop at Foy Update  
                         Wildcrafting Wednesday at the self sufficient homeacre