Monday, June 29, 2015

Garden Harvest

Our limited watering is definitely hurting plants.
I am loosing the blueberries, and soon I will be pulling those out and saving the pots.
My little cherry trees have some bacterial thing that seems to be killing them.
The tomatoes are wilting faster, but not without giving their all.
So, the other day I harvested 8 lbs. of tomatoes from out front.
I gave a few to a friend and we are quickly consuming the rest. Yummy.....
Shown here are Big Rainbow, Cherokee Purple, and Mortgage lifter....
Then the next day I harvested a big basket full of Casady's Folly....a plum variety that is so pretty and prolific, but they have thick skins....so they really have to be skinned.
So, I pierced their skins and dunked them in hot boiling water and then when they cooled a bit I was able to peel the skins off...they went into the freezer for future sauce....
I also put some in the dehydrator....but I didn't skin those....They will be quite chewy when hydrated in a sauce....
I also harvested a bunch of peppers. This year I dedicated an entire raised bed to peppers, jalapenos and sweet peppers so I would have enough to make my family's favorite pepper jelly. These too have done extremely well...and I harvested a bunch to chop and freeze.
Then, I found some beans that were ready, and blanched them and froze them. Not many, but enough for a meal....later.
Our weather has gotten quite warm due to monsoonal moisture. It's early this year, and it will be time to dine outside tonight.
I fear that with the drought I will lose more plants. I have also lost my lavenders...both those not in sprinkler proximity and those in sprinklers. Can't figure out why. Anyone know why my lavender is dying? Some in the ground, some in pots, there is no common answer. Is there a virus that attacks lavender??
Anyway....take care...stay cool.
Nancy

Monday, June 22, 2015

Oh what a bit of paint can do!

Long story short.
We bought a "fixer" condo, 2 bedroom/2 bath as an investment and to use as a rental. One tenant is our eldest daughter, who after a year of housesitting found she needed a place to live. The other is for another girl our wonderful Realtor found for us.
Rents here in Orange County have gone through the roof. We would have had to help financially either way...so, why not buy and then rent? It seemed like a good idea, if we could find one. Well, we did.
A 1125 sq ft, full two bath condo...with a dining room area to boot!
It still needs some things done, mostly minor...the most important to get done so our daughter could move in was paint. So, our fantastic painter was able to get the whole thing (I mean everything, including the interior closets and linen cupboard) done in 2 1/2 days...so that she could move today!
Before I show you the before and after, I have to say that doing this was not easy...and definitely not for the faint at heart (which I am)...but wonderful Hubby was able to get it all pulled together. Of course, now we have a mortgage again.....
When we first saw this place, it was hard to visualize what it could be. It had resistant tenants with plenty of stuff. Lots of stuff.
But once they moved out, it became a little easier to see....
 First thing we wanted to do was address the dark original 1963 cabinets in the kitchen. We don't have the budget to buy new and do a complete overhaul. So, we all agreed that painting the cabinets white would make a huge difference.

 It is a nice feature to have a real wood burning fireplace.....
but really this boring shiny beige they had painted is pretty dreadful.....

So, here is the kitchen now....bright, white, and grey....The color grey is called Apparition by Benjamin  Moore....


Now, one of the things we all wanted to do first off is tear down that cupboard that runs across the top. But we decided, that we need to leave it, at least for now, because they are so few cupboards. Our daughter is a bit disappointed but agrees, that one needs to live in it for a while...so for now it stays.
This is a view from the living room...The ceiling fan was replaced with a flush mount ceiling fan...it raised up the fan by 6 or more inches...now one doesn't feel like their head will be chopped.
Do you like the color?? It looks blue-ish here. It isn't though. Just a lovely soft grey.
The whole condo is this color with white trim....perfect.
Oh what a dash of color can do!!
Another thing we did??
Well, the tenants had used mixed light bulbs...some fluorescent, some incandescent and then odd spot lights here and there. Weird.
So, we put in all soft white LEDs! Not only do they show white light, but they are easier on a budget too. They claim they will last 14-22 years! Well, even if they didn't, they are cooler running, so they won't heat the room and its a safer light as well.
So, today was moving day for her from our house, where she has had to live while waiting for another home. At the age of 34, she wasn't so fond of Mom telling here to "do this" and "do that"....
Tomorrow, all her stuff comes out of storage where it has been for 1 year and a week. That house sitting/dog sitting job was only supposed to be about 6 months....guess she did it well...
So, that is what I have been up to....
What do you think of the paint? Pretty remarkable what paint can do!
Nancy

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day to all the Dads out there!
To the special people in your life and mine...
Nancy

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Where did the time go??

It's hard to believe that it was 38 years ago that Hubby and I got married!
Such children then! We were 21 and 22 ...
Now  we are grandparents to an adorable little 8 month old. Wow, time flies!
So, today, we plan to do something fun and then go to dinner...
What does everyone else do for their Anniversary?? Do tell.....
Have a great day everyone...summer has begun....
Nancy

Friday, June 12, 2015

Fourth of July Table Runner....in the works...

Ok, so I am working on a 4th of July table runner to be given as a gift for a friend...
I hope she doesn't see it, but I wanted to share it with you.
It is known as a "Lattice" pattern and turned out to be a bit more difficult than the tutorial described. So for it to turn out at all is, I think, remarkable.
The table runner is 55" long and about 18" wide. It is comprised of 5 Square blocks and I am almost done.
I took pictures of it on the sewing machine so you could see....
 Now, it is still being quilted, so what you see on the edges is batting and backing and such sticking out...the red is the border and edge when completed, and will have a red binding....


And then there is the backing, which I went and bought a new fabric for....I decided I wanted something she could use and make it reversible (in case she couldn't take the imperfections)....

I am quilting it with the Kimono silk thread, using the Surperior threads needle and cotton batting.....
Hope you have a great weekend...I will be busy quilting...
Nancy

Monday, June 8, 2015

Just a Hint....

This last weekend, I made Hubby buckwheat pancakes. Buckwheat is not wheat by the way, it is a grass that is tolerated well by those with Wheat intolerances and great for those with gluten free diets.
Buckwheat pancakes tend to be a bit denser and heavier, but are so yummy. They beg for fruit syrups!
But I can't have most fruit syrups as they often use corn syrup in them....a big allergen for me. So, what to do?? Make your own!
In a pinch, no fruit or syrup??
I have a suggestion....use a jam or jelly you have and melt it down....you can add a maple syrup to help or water to make it thinner....
I used a couple of jams that were in my fridge....

I used a bit of maple syrup as we were almost out of that too, and poured it on the pancakes....
Hubby had a little butter and then the syrup....
Tres Yummy!!
It's a great way to use up old jams and jellies....
Enjoy!
Nancy

Friday, June 5, 2015

Hunter's Star Quilt

Well, I did it! I quilted the Hunter's Star Quilt! It needs its binding, but I have to show you...I'm rather pleased with it.
Now, keep in mind, this is done on a home machine using free motion techniques. It is not done with a long-arm machine. It is also my first full attempt on a quilt using a free hand feather technique. What does that mean? It means every feather in every triangle and on the border etc was done free hand so no two are exactly alike. Starting and stopping on every single piece! Yup...I'm crazy, but considering a few months ago I had never done this at all, I think it turned out rather well....
The proof is in the backing.....




Well, what do you think?? I know it isn't perfect....but I think it turned out fairly well....
Have a great day!
Nancy

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Making cute and useful "Burp" cloths

Over a year ago, I saw a post on a blog about making "burp" cloths from diapers. I was impressed and proceeded to make my then pregnant daughter some. Then, that daughter made some for a friend who was having a baby....
Yesterday, my other daughter decided to make some for her friend that is having a baby. She kindly let me take pictures to share with you. Hers turned out so cute!
These diapers turned into art for "burps" are invaluable! They are large, washable, absorbent and soft. Never leave home without them!

First step is removing them from their packaging and iron! If you don't iron, nothing will be straight or smooth....
 Here is my darling daughter, Emily, sewing. She is doing her first applique! (the applique was purchased from Etsy)...


 Here she just used ribbon leftover from other projects, cute though huh??
 This applique was also purchased on Etsy....
 This applique was created by me...for another project and I ended up not using it....
 Here she used quilting leftovers for a different look....pretty cute though....
 When all is said and done, she had a great packet of "burp" clothes for the mother to be...
These are simple to make and a really great gift. You can do most anything with them.....
Recommendations be sure your cloths can be washed....
Don't use fabric that can't go into the washing machine....they will get dirty...that is what they are for...
I hope this has inspired you....
Nancy

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Adventures in Jelly and Pickling

So, today was the day to make the pepper jelly from the peppers I picked from our garden!
So exciting!
I chopped the peppers in the Cusinart and then put them into the jelly maker.....and then put the mixture in the canner....





And so, while I had the canner out, I decided to harvest the pickling cukes I had in the garden.
However, according to the recipe from Ball, I was short on pickling cukes. No problem, I thought, just run to the market and buy a few more.....
Wrong.
I went to a local market, with a name that starts with "V" and the manager was incredibly rude! I asked for pickling cukes, he handed me a bag of persian cukes....not what I wanted. I tried to explain, he cut me off! I tried again, he said, "you want gherkins"....no, I want pickling cukes....and then he cut me off again and said  that didn't carry those....He was so rude, it is hard to give you the picture. But, Off I want to Stater Bros. They also didn't carry pickling cukes.... off the Sprouts, same there....then I went to an Asian market down the street...they had some, not great but would do.....
Can you imagine? No one knows what pickling cukes are! I so live in the wrong part of the country!
Anyway, I made my small batch of bread and butter pickles......



So, that is my big adventure....using the jam/jelly maker and canner I had shelf stable pepper jelly in 40 mins total. The bread and butter pickles (after getting the extras from the store)40 mins. That's not bad. And while it's busy canning in the canner I can write you my story!
Well, I'm off to go get some more coffees.....
Have a great day.
Nancy

Monday, June 1, 2015

Our Bounty

It is just the first day of June. Wow, how did that happen?
Well, the last three days were lost while we took care of our grandson. His parents were in North Carolina for a big wedding, so their darling little one, who is only 7 1/2 months old stayed with us...for three very long days. I had forgotten how hard it is to have little ones around...especially infants....

However, he is home now with Mom and Dad, and we can eat a dignified dinner. What did we have? Soy-Ginger Cod from Trader Joe's and veggies from the garden.
We had a tomato salad with parsley and basil, baked figs with honey, and "happy" strawberries with figs and some rice to round it out....



It looks like our garden might be productive even with watering restrictions...though we will see...but so far so good.
It was a delight not to have to eat in shifts or eat quickly because of a little one.  And then sit and relax with a glass of wine and put our feet up....a joy really....
In the next two days I will be making a batch of pepper jelly from the peppers in the garden and soon, some bread and butter pickles from our own cukes! That is very exciting.
Oh, how I wish I had a bigger garden at this time of year, but life doesn't always send us what we'd want....so this is what I have...a small suburban garden that might perform or not...and a lovely family to share it with....
Hope you have a great week...
Nancy