Tuesday, June 28, 2011


It's summer - depending where you live, this may bring a smile to your face, or the other option (which is the category we fall into) the amount of laundry you have to do has doubled due to the fact that everyone needs to wear more than 1 shirt a day, because it's just so blisteringly hot!!!It's not all bad though, with summer comes an abundance of different fruits - raspberries, blueberries, peaches to name but a few. We have a peach orchard not too far from us, that we try to go to at least once every summer .... I can tell you with confidence that there'll be more than one visit this year. A friend of mine and all of our kids, plus Girl Childs BFF, headed out there last week .... it was lovely:-D

We all headed out buckets in hand ....

We climbed the trees .... why is it that the best peaches are always at the top of the peach tree? I'm going to just sneak in here and tell you, that the orchard did have plenty of ladders scattered throughout, for the very task of reaching those peaches, but hey, what fun is that to a 10 year old boy, especially when those peach trees are just so climbable!!!

We picked perfect peaches ....

We had little taste stops along the way .... as it was explained to me - "How do you know what you're buying mom, if you don't let me check it out first?" A pretty logical question. The verdict of the the taste test ...... "you can buy them mom, just buy lots":-D

Then once we had filled our buckets, we got to sit a while under the shade of a huge tree, and slurped down cups of ice cold lemonade, and enjoyed bowls of tasty - infact lets make that EXTREMELY tasty - peach ice cream. Yummy !!!!

It was a fun day, and once home, I got busy ....

Yes ... 6 little jars of golden jammy goodness :-D

It has become a love affair with jam making, I can't get enough of it!!! I bought apricots yesterday .... apricot jam will be next. I'll have most of my neighbor/friend Christmas gifts made by the end of summer:-D

We also got to gobble down a yummy peach crumble for dessert (the pictures of this were too blurry to post). Usually I find fruit crumbles too sweet, this one however, was just the right mix of tart and sweet ... very yummy:-D

We'll be going back to the orchard for another visit, that's for sure. I've also just learned that there's a Pick Your Own Lavender Farm not too far from the orchard ..... hmm, I guess a stop in there may just be in order ...

Friday, June 24, 2011


It's been a quiet blog week or 2 for me - not that I haven't got goodies to show you, but they've all been gifts, so I've had to wait until the recipient has recieved them, so as not to spoil the suprise.

As we all know, last Sunday was Fathers Day. The kids and I decided that Dad needed his very own grilling apron. We grill so often in summer (it's our way of keeping the kitchen cooler!!!), and he is the grill chef. I made it out of some denim (so much more practical for wear and tear, and I has it in my stash). I added webbing at the waist, which I attached a clip to. Hubby always needs somewhere to wipe his hands .... many of my "inside" dishtowels have met their demise at the hands of charcoal dust or marinade !!! Not anymore - I cut some dollar store dishtowels in half, hemmed the cut edge, and attached a loop. This clips onto the clip at the waist, and there you have it, a dishtowel close at hand. The best part - when they get too grubby, and can no longer be washed clean, they can be cheaply replaced. He liked his apron, and wore it very proudly when delivering a peach crumble to our neighbors earlier today. His little sidekick (aka Boychild), is learning some good grilling skills ... I'm thinking a grilling apron for him too, may be in order soon:-D
Hope y'all had a memorable Father Day.

Monday, June 13, 2011


That's exactly what we had going on this weekend. I think that raspberries may just be my favorite berry .... perhaps even more favorite than strawberries ... unless they're dipped in chocolate:-D
I spent yesterday making raspberry jam, and a raspberry tart. I had been watching them in all of the grocery stores waiting for them to go on sale, and yesterday was the day!!! Given the horrendously hot weather we're having (can you see my VERY grumpy face ... I HATE the heat), I had to use them straight away. The jam turned out just perfectly (I get so excited every time I manage to turn out jars of lovely, perfectly gelled jam - one of lifes little pleasures). I used liquid pectin for the first time with this jam too. I enjoyed the little bit that didn't fit into the jars, on my toast this morning ... scrumptious!!!!

The raspberry tart, is an old favorite. I make it often in summer, and it's my most requested dessert. I made this one as a gift for a friends birthday. I'll pop it in a cellophane bag with some pretty ribbon, and there you go. It's so easy, and so heavenly, that I thought I'd share the recipe with you.

- 5 cups fresh raspberries
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup cold water
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- a prepared and baked 9" deep pie shell

In a saucepan combine 2 cups raspberries, sugar, water, cornstarch and lemon juice.
Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently until thickened and glossy. Cook for 2 minutes more.
Remove mixture from heat, and cool slightly.
Cover and refrigerate mixture for 1 hour.
Fold remaining raspberries gently into mixture and then transfer mixture to pie shell.
Cover and refrigerate until set. I prefer to do this overnight.
Serve with whipped cream.
Totally delicious .... the perfect summer dessert.

Friday, June 10, 2011


This year we only had 4 teacher gifts to come up with (Middle schooler don't give gifts to their teachers, so Girl Child informed me). Because of circumstances being what they are, my rule this year was to spend a maximum of $5 per gift and use what I had in my stash to make the rest. It turned out to be quite a fun challenge. I made 2 of each gift, and then let Boy Child decide which gift he wanted to give to which teacher.

I knitted wash cloths using 100% cotton yarn from my stash. I used these colors specifically because I had seen (and smelled) these delicious lavender and tea tree oil soap bars at World Market, and because I had knitted the lavender sprigs a while back. I had made them as decorations for a function, and I knew I could use them as part of the wrapping.

I wrapped the washcloths and soap up in cellophane, added the lavender sprig, a label and some tulle (also reused from the same decorations), and voila, we had ourselves 2 pretty gifts. The teachers whom he gave them too, loved the gifts.

I bought these dishtowels as a pack at Wally World. I decided to give them a facelift, so I added a border to each. The strawberry towel, I crocheted a scalloped edge onto. I had never done this before, but thanks to a great tutorial I found online, I managed it, and I really like how it turned out. The checked one, I sewed some pleated binding onto, that I had left over from a previous project.

The jam holders I also found at Wally World (they hold 2 half pint jars perfectly). They're pretty useful things to have, I've decided (maybe I need to stock up on a few for Christmas before canning season is over, and they're all gone)... I made little jar lid covers from some fabric scraps, and I popped a jar each of my homemade strawberry and kiwi jam into the holders. I wrapped all of this together with cellophane and ribbon and finished the gift off by making a fabric strawberry to hang on each.
So now we head into the long, hot, lazy days of summer ...

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


Today's post is going to be completely unrelated to crafts .... shock and horror I know!!! But there are times when things happen, that make you sit back and think. This awful economy continues to affect so many families - our family is a victim to it too, as are so many others. The education system just happens to be the latest victim. When our kids return to school in the Fall, it will be to bigger classes and less resources .... this worries me greatly, more so for our son than our daughter. He is still in Elementary and has accomodations that make use of Special Ed resources (we're not even certain these resources will be available next year). The purpose of this post is not to complain though.
I believe that the aim of our years spent at school, should be to send out into the world, well rounded young adults. There should be a healthy balance between academics and life skills taught at school.
Each year every class in our school has to do a community service project. Boy Childs class chose to do a Skin Cancer Awareness Campaign, in honor of one of the moms in our class who lost her battle with melanoma late last year. The campaign, through sheer hard work and determination on the part of the kids, and tremendous encouragement from their teacher, became huge. The kids made posters, designed a website, designed and had T shirts made, organised a sun screen collection drive for under priveleged families among other things. Last week our class walked up to our high school and during passing period handed out information pamphlets and sunscreen samples to the high schoolers, as well as educated them on the dangers of skin cancer - a huge thing for a group of 10 year olds to do. As a mom who chaperoned, I couldn't have been prouder:-)

The class on their way to High School

Boy Child educating some High School boys on the dangers of skin cancer

The T Shirts they had printed, and the literature they distributed.

This evening his teacher and class made an appearance on the evening news!!!

Boy Child standing by the WFAA 8 broadcasting van

Their teacher and class on the evening news

As our school year ends tomorrow, I believe that his 4th grade year has taught him 2 very valuable life lessons...

- It doesn't matter how big or small you are, everyone CAN make a difference in this world.

- Whatever you dream, CAN become reality, if you're prepared to work hard enough at it.

Long after math and science lessons have been forgotten, I have no doubt that he will remember these 2 things, taught to him by a teacher who truly believes in teaching the whole child ..... for that, I will be forever gratful to her.

If you want to, pop over to the website the class created, I think it's pretty impressive, but I may be just a little biased:-D

Saturday, June 4, 2011


They're all the craze right now .... at least they are here, down in the deep south!!!
Today a good friend of ours daughter is having her birthday parties, and her mom asked if I'd make cake pops for the parties - Elmo and cows to be precise.
Enter the queen of cake pops, Bakerella :-D
Thank goodness for her blog and that wonderful book she published not so long ago. Her instructions are both precise and easy to follow.
Here they are, 3 dozen cows, and 3 dozen Elmos.

I wanted a fun way to display them, especially as these will take the place of a traditional birthday cake. To construct the boxes, I used cake boards, that I cut to size and then glued together. I poped a piece of styrofoam inside the box (to stick the sticks into), that I covered with shredded paper. Elmo was made by covering part of a round cake board with felt and adding his features, while I used wooden cutouts from the craft store for the cow box. I made her name sign using some of my scrapbook stuff.
Here are a few things I learned while making them, just in case anyone wants to give them a go ....
They are VERY labor intensive, so you really need to plan ahead and allow plenty of time to get them done.
I am not a big fan of Make and Mold brand wafers that you buy at Hobby Lobby ... when melted, it is REALLY thick. Wiltons worked a little better. I see that there are some crystals that you can buy, that you add to the wafers which thins them, and makes coating the cake balls easier - I will get some of those next time.
They are really high up there on the cute scale ....
As long as the birthday girl loves them, that's all that matters and all the hard work was well worth it:-D

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Let me start out by saying ..... my hubby and I both have black thumbs. We joke about my ability to kill a cactus plant!!!
We decided to try and turn that around this year .....

Hubby got to work and built me a raised bed. He did an awesome job on it.

We planted 3 varieties of tomatos, beets, carrots, onions, green peppers and beans. We then lovingly tended our new veggie patch. We got very excited when the first shoots sprouted ...

Yesterday I harvested our first Big Beef tomato, amid much excitement ...

Just perfect .... nice and firm, not too squishy, a lovely color:-D

This morning, I ate some of it for breakfast .... it passed the taste test with flying colors .... delicious!!!

I'm beginning to think that we can do this after all!!!