Saturday, October 18, 2014

Poached Pears

One of our favorite desserts looks complicated but it isn't. It just takes a bit of time and it is delicious, sure to please guests!
Bring 1 1/2 cups of red wine (I used a Zinfandel) to a boil with 2/3 cup of sugar, 2 tsp vanilla and 2 tsp of cinnamon. When it comes to a boil, reduce temperature down to a simmer, and carefully put in your peeled and cored pears. Here are 4 halves, you can easily do 3 whole pears, 6 halves, with the same amount of wine.....cook the pears on both sides until tender and then take them out....
Continue cooking down the wine mixture until it thickens and is reduced by more than half...it makes a delightful syrup to put on top of the pears....

Now, because it isn't dessert unless there is chocolate in our house, I threw in some chocolate chips on top, just about 10 chips....although you don't have to....many people like a touch of cream on top...
You will have to try this...there are many recipes out there...try some. I prefer a red wine, many swear by a white wine....so use what you like to drink.
Have fun....and enjoy....
Nancy

Friday, October 17, 2014

Jammin

Well, it is a lovely cool FALL day!
Almost had rain (1% chance)...so my daughter and I decided we needed to make Pepper Jelly....
We were at Surfas and there was a small jar for $10! Really! Well, we have my jam/jelly maker and that is my favorite recipe....so off we went to buy some peppers (I like red peppers best) and I had some jalepenos in the garden....perfect!
The recipe that comes with the machine is so easy and in 21 mins, you have jelly!
Now, I am not in the actual canning mode, so clean jars and a fridge will do just fine.....
I use the white plastic lids to let everyone know, these are to refrigerate only.....not shelf safe....

When we were at the market, we also bought strawberries...hummm, strawberry jam anyone???
Yup, after we cleaned up from the pepper jelly and the machine cooled down while we ate lunch, we made strawberry jam....

How's that?? Too much work?? Nah, just clean the fruit (or peppers), chop lightly, pop into a food processor to really almost puree....follow the directions on the machine...and in both cases it was 21 mins to jam (and jelly)! Yup! Best small batch jam/jelly maker ever!!
Now I am asking Santa for the auto canner that Ball has......all these could be shelf safe in no time at all!! I've read reviews on the machine, people are happily canning even in summer!
Yup....good stuff!
Nancy

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Minus the binding....

I wanted to show you how the quilt, Blue Willow Stars, turned out.
I am pretty happy about it.
As the batting I used an heavy old flannel blanket, the kind you find at camp.... It worked quite nicely and since it only cost $2.50 at the Salvation Army, I am extra pleased as batting gets pricey, even with a coupon.
So, then my only cost, the border and backing material...with a coupon, $20; not bad for 4 yards! And, I used up a lot of my stash! Well, I am not out of fabric....but it helps....
I had a few little foibles but was able for the most part to remedy those, so I am extra pleased.
I wanted to do more than just a meandering pattern on the quilt, and I didn't want the blue thread that I have on the back to be on the white parts, so I did a little "flower" on the navy centers with navy thread and then did a meandering pattern on the blue areas all in navy. The white areas got the same "flower" in white. Then for the borders, I played....doing a vine that goes all around it.
Overall, not a bad days work....I even got some laundry done and early morning shopping, so I got a lot accomplished today!
 So, here is the quilt top ready to go, with no batting.....
 Here is the white area, showing the little vine .....you can also just make out the vine that is echoed on the blue border...

 This shows you the "flower" in the center of the navy and then the meandering pattern that runs through the rest of the strips in blue.....
 I used the same blue in doing the vine on the borders....

Tonight I get to stitch the final hand stitching on the binding while I watch TV....then this little quilt is ready for a new home.....
Have a great evening!
Nancy







Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Inspired by Blue Willow

I have been creating a quilt, which of course came to a halt recently.
So, today, I decided I needed to work on it and get it almost done.....
I got the top stitched....here is what I have...




Because Blue Willow inspired me...I am calling it Blue Willow Stars.....
I will take a picture of the final quilted quilt, when I am done. I have quite a bit to do....even though I will be machine quilting it....
Hope you are having a productive day....
Nancy

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Baby is born

Those that follow me know I am not into sharing pictures of family, let alone myself....
But today, I will make one exception.
Yesterday, our daughter went into labor, her water breaking in bed at 1am. We got a text from our son in law at 1:30 letting us know they were at the hospital.
Yes, we got up and got there about 2:30 am.
LOng story of sitting in the waiting room and waiting.....11 1/2 hours later our baby girl gave us a little grandson....so glad we were there, though all we did was give moral support from afar.
Meet our grandson, Royce!
6lbs 15oz and 20" long....
Now the fun (and work) begins.....
Talk later....
Nancy

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

In the garden

Here in Southern California, we have been barraged with uncommon and prolonged heat. It has made gardening impossible and endangering the plants we have growing.
Because we live in Costa Mesa our water is coming from deep, deep wells...so we are not on the same restrictions of water that everyone in LA and parts of OC are experiencing. Even so, we have been careful with our watering. Our sprinklers are on early in the morning for 5 minutes per cycle and three times in a week. It may sound like a lot, but our water use has been reduced by about 40% from last year. So, when it is very hot like it has been, some extra hand watering is required to keep our meager crops and all alive. Luckily, the "crops" at this time of year are few and are in raised beds, which also require less water due to size.
But today dawned foggy. To that I rejoice....it appears that the heat wave (for now) has broken. The tree man came yesterday and cut the jacaranda back, so I am able to plant the favas in the old veggie garden.
The old garden is where all crops were raised....until the size restricted me in what we grew.
That area has been somewhat resting over the years...growing mediocre this and that.
Today was the day all that would change.
I dug it up and turned it, adding my favorite amendment, Harvest Supreme.
I planted two rows of Fava Beans with dreams of being able to share with friends and family.
In So. Cal this is the time to plant Favas as they can grow all winter with our temperate climate. They are hardy unlike other beans in cold almost frosty weather.....
 This is my seed container, a metal box that I picked up at a garage sale......
 I use an inoculant with all beans and peas...it helps them grow better....
I planted two varieties one a small variety and the other is the largest broadbean....
I also wanted to show you my new method for preserving the package so you can see what is in the row....A sandwich ziploc! A hole is created in the tiptop part so no water gets in to the bag. Other methods have failed me, so I am hoping this truly works. So far, so good!
Last week, I planted two packets of beets and one of carrots...the packets are doing well here and as you can see, they are already coming up! Opossums have come into the yard and thankfully they have been enjoying the snails! So far, snails haven't eaten the small beets!
As I type this, the fog is lifting and revealing a very blue sky....and other chores call.
I hope you have a wonderful day!
Nancy

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Table Runner

For Fall, I wanted to make a table runner...with leaves appliqued on it.
Now, as for appliques, I am untrained. I have read about paper piecing, and needle-turned and all that...but I am one of those people who has to have a "trainer" sitting beside me and showing...so here we are....a desire and an accuquilt cutter that cuts leaves. Hummmmm
Well, "just do it" comes to mind....so why not? So what if it isn't perfect? So what?
So, I cut up fabric from my stash and bought some dark brown that went with the fabric...then I played at layout....


And then, using a temp adhesive, I set about trying to stitch them to the fabric with a machine. Well, that didn't work....thin fabric with no support and then the temp adhesive starting letting go....
So, then, I set about hand stitching. I am not so great at embroidery stitches, and I didn't want to use embroidery floss....I started using the embroidery thread that I use on the machine. But the long brown fabric was being difficult. Hummmm
So, I cut the fabric into four sections so that I can put the leaves into a frame for stitiching. That seems to be working better. Still, not such pretty stitching. Someone looking at it will undoubtedly think it is a child's work. So what. I am enjoying it...great to do while watching TV.
Oh, and I created acorns for the runner....it needed those. So, when its done, I will share.....
Anyone got great tips on applique by hand??
Nancy