Sunday, October 30, 2011


I've been known to go all out for costumes in years past, but this year it's all I can do to keep myself afloat.  So I'm opting for a good t-shirt joke instead. 

I made a matching one for the hubs to wear with me to a Halloween party.  His response was simply, "Oh, look, we're going to Sadie Hawkins." 

Bats pattern here

Friday, October 28, 2011

Maple Syrup to Can

One of the simplest things to can is Maple Syrup.
My family, i.e. kids, will have nothing to do with store bought syrup. 
They absolutely refuse to eat it. 
Actually they'd rather put homemade raspberry jam and powdered sugar or peanut butter, instead of syrup, on their pancakes if it really came down to it.

What I do to make maple syrup is also easy--I use Mapleine® Imitation Maple Flavor that you buy in a little blue and white box in the baking section of your grocery store.  And just follow the recipe on the box.
Instant Syrup Recipe
(from the back of the box)

Pour 1 c. boiling water over 2 c. sugar.
Add 1/2 tsp. Mapleine® and stir.
Makes 2 1/4 c. syrup.

For canning:
Makes 7 qts.
12 c. boiling water
24 c. sugar (4 lb. sugar = approx. 8+ c. sugar)
6 tsp. Mapleine®
Get jars, lids and rings HOT in simmering pot of water.
Add HOT (almost boiling) syrup to HOT jars.
Wipe rim and add lid and ring and hand tighten.
Leave jars set out to cool and while they are cooling the lids will seal due to the heat.

Ball® Blue Book says 10 minutes hot water bath for their syrup recipes.

Doesn't that look pretty with the light shining thru it?
Thick Syrup Recipe
(from the back of the Mapleine® box)
2 Tbs. water
1/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. corn syrup
1/2 tsp. Mapleine®

Boil 2 min.
Thickens as it cools.
Makes 1 pint.

There is a recipe in the Ball Blue Book for Maple-Walnut Syrup that I wanted to try too.
I am a nut girl. 
Any and all kinds of nuts.
Instead of using their recipe, which includes corn syrup, sugar, and real maple syrup, I just made the above simple maple syrup recipe and added 2 c. chopped walnuts per quart jar.  (1/2 c. chopped walnuts per 1/2 pint).  Then I did the hot water bath for 10 minutes.

It was delicious.  The kids won't try it, but too bad for them.  I'll just use it all myself.  The only thing is next time I probably won't put in as many nuts as it calls for.  I think I'd cut it down to 1 1/2 c. chopped nuts per quart jar.

I think we are also going to try from the Ball Blue Book their Praline Syrup.  Corn syrup, brown sugar, water, pecan pieces and vanilla.  Doesn't that sound delicious for an ice cream topping?

Both the above recipes are also found in the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

It's going to freeze tonight...again...

...and I've decided I'm done covering up my tomatoes.  I cover them about 2 or 3 times before I decide that I'll just pick whatever I have left hanging on and figure out what to do with them.

I had a lot hanging on. 
Now I get to figure out what to do with it all.
I did give some to my neighbor and she told me how she fries up her green tomatoes.  I am so going to try that.
You can also use green tomatoes in the Tomatillo Green Salsa recipe.

Or you can make mincemeat using green tomatoes.
I am down to my last 2 jars, so I'm pretty sure I'll be doing some of this.
But not this week yet.
After Halloween and class parties are done.
Then I'll be up for some canning.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

"Gearing" Up for Hunting Season

Another kid is joining the ranks of hunting this year.  I needed to make another blaze orange hat for the kid so they don't get mistaken for a deer themselves during rifle season.  I bought some orange fleece last year some time with the intention of using it for hunting gear. 

When I was in the mode of making these little fleece hats at the end of the summer I whipped up 2 of these hats also. 

McCalls 9063--out of print. 
One 16" piece of fleece (60 wide) will make 2 hats.

This is an easy pattern to make.
Since it is out of print I'll give you a basic tutorial:
Cut your piece of fleece 16" by 23 1/2" with the stretch going the direction of the 23 1/2" (around the head).

Fold in half lengthwise and sew up the side and across the top.

On right side of the hat, fold the top seam about 3" from edge.

Match the 2 folded edges together and stitch down about 1 inch--a little stitch in the ditch to hold it in place.

This is what the hat will now look like on the inside of the hat.

Take the 2 little end corner flaps, match them up in the center and tack down--sew thru all layers real quick.

This is what the top of the hat on the outside will look like when you complete those two parts.

Fold the hem up inside the cap 4" and either hand stitch or what I do is use the multi-zig-zag stitch to keep it in place while also giving it some stretch.

Then fold up the edge another couple inches and you're done.

This is not a snug fitting cap--there is a bit of bulk on top, but Z. loves this orange hat because it is #1 for hunting and #2 it also happens to be one of our HS colors--go Hawks!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Wreath Transformation

I wanted to make the wreath from here and since I recently received some birthday money and a gift card to Jo-Ann's I decided to use it to buy supplies to make a fun Halloween wreath for us.

I started with this "lovely" wreath that I bought at the thrift store.

I bought it for the wreath form only I assure you.  Although I must say that I feel a little bad about taking this wreath apart as some grandma put a lot of time, effort, pins and lace into making this. 

Oh well....there were about 5 more similar to it at the thrift store. 

Once I removed all the old embellishments it was transformed into this fun Halloween wreath.

I thought about hanging it outside, but was a little leery.  I haven't ever had anything stolen while in our current home, but I've had other decorations stolen off our door while we were students at BYU.  Nice!  Even hanging in between the screen door and the front door wouldn't work as it would get smashed some. 

In the end I decided to hang it on my "new" mirror (scrounged from the biannual city clean-up day) by my entry for just our family to enjoy.  Excuse the pile of shoes.  They really should be in that toy box on the left, but obviously we have issues with that.

To hang it I just used one of those 3M hook things and put it on top of the mirror.  It is high enough that no one can see it, not even my 6' self.  This way I didn't have to put a nail in my mirror.

Little "Hootie" is everyone's favorite part of the wreath--glad we found him. 
We like him better than the crow and spider we were thinking about.

Wreath -- 12" form for $2.69 at thrift store
                             (cheaper than any of the floral wreaths or other wreath forms I found, even with a coupon, at Jo-Ann's or Michaels).
Tulle -- 4 spools of 25 yds. each for $2.99/spool
Ribbon -- 4 different spools 3 x $2.39 and 1 for $1.99 (you can get 3 good size ribbon roses out of 3-4 yds.)
Owl -- Michaels $2.99
Flowers -- Jo-Ann's clearance $2.39
Squiggly stick picks -- 4 at $.49 each

TOTAL:  approx. $31

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Grandma Quilt #4

I should nickname this quilt the "Loaves and Fishes Quilt" because this is the result of making a 4th quilt after already using the fabric for 3 previous Grandma's Shirt Quilts.  What was left to choose from was scraps of already scrap fabric--literally scraping the bottom of the scrap bag barrel.

Also, I hesitate to share all of the story behind this quilt, but let me just suffice it to say that this quilt was not in the grand scheme of the plan when Emily and I divided everything up and figured out how to use Grandma's shirts for 5 different quilts (3 aunts and one each for us) back in February.  Fast forward a number of months and now we needed to come up with another one (#6), and this was after everything was pretty much cut apart, divided, and cut out.

Well, thank goodness for a minor miracle: there were enough scraps to cut 3" squares (albeit a few had to be pieced) and I found this quilt design from Oliver + S Moda that was perfect inspiration for less than ample amounts of fabric. 

Voila!! the "Loaves and Fishes" quilt.

  • Finished measurements approx. 48" by 66"
  • Cut 3" squares
  • Sashed between and outside edges with 3" strips.
  • Thrifted multi-striped sheet for the backing
  • Cross hatch machine quilting
  • Machine binding from thrifted stash
This quilt is going to our cousin Doug, therefore, it needed to be a bit more on the manly side--even though he has 3 girls.  So why is Doug getting it?  Well, for a couple reasons: first of all his mother was the one aunt who didn't want a quilt (but then said he could have it), also he lived with Grandma for a number of years before he was married, and he is the first born grandson.  So I guess that rank does have its privileges.
And really, there is no more fabric to be used....really....there isn't.  So don't ask. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Class Quilts Preview

Instead of waiting 'til the first of the year, I figured I better get a jump on the quilt project ideas that I have for the kids' classes.  Last year I didn't do any class quilts because I had planned on getting all the blocks designed in February during the kids' class parties, and have them ready for the end of April auction.  Well, it turns out they changed the auction date to February and I didn't know that until January and there was no way I could throw it together in time.  Well, maybe I could have... had I ignored my family and everything else for an extended period of time.  I wasn't willing to do that.

I'm ready for them this year: one each for Kindergarten, 3rd grade, and 5th grade.  For kindergarten we're going to do handprints (inspired by this quilt).  The 3rd grade teacher wanted the kids to draw a pic of themselves (similar to this quilt).  I'm excited to try out these new styles--at least new for me.  And then the 5th graders can design their own 9 patch blocks, which is what I did 2 years ago with two of my kids' classes.

I started w/ 3rd grade and as always, working with kids is interesting.  Only 10 of 24 were able to complete their drawing on the first day.  I spent 1 hr. each for 3 mornings working with about 3 kids at a time.  You could do it more quickly if you have LOTS of fabric markers.

Here's what you might expect when working with kids:
  • One giant meltdown because I wouldn't let this boy take home his fabric square, even when proclaiming "it is special to me" and he would do another one and bring it back.!
  • Pic of boy morphing into Pokemon, even when I told him he could NOT draw that for this project.
  • Cyborg boy...see above. Ditto.
  • Pics that might inspire the phrase "less is more".  Really girls, you don't need to fill in every blank space.
  • On the flip side, sometimes more would be better--there are a couple really sparse self-portraits.
  • "To each his own" as our mom would say.
  • Missing hands or feet because they were too busy drawing other important details.
  • Twins:  i.e. some copying of each other like 2 boys with the same multi-colored hair and another set of girls with the same polka-dot background.
Other notes:
  • Fabric markers work better than Sharpies. Sharpies bleed some, but if you don't care, they are certainly cheaper than fabric markers.
  • Iron freezer paper onto the back of each block before the kids draw.  That way it holds it all in place and makes it easier to draw.
  • Freezer paper can be reused again after you peel it off.
  • The kids think it is so cool to peel the freezer paper off themselves.
  • I took an individual pic of each kid with their block so they can have a memento themselves. 
  • Once the quilt is all completed we'll take a group shot and I'll get copies again for all the kids.

Monday, October 10, 2011


Somehow I got caught up in some swapping madness and am doing three swaps right now!  All three are totally different, but I thought it would be a fun way to trade, swap and use up stuff that has been hanging around my stash for too long.  It's also a great way to freshen up my stash without breaking the bank.
So, how 'bout you?  Wanna swap?  
Here's the details:

(photo from Sew in Peace)
Hurry! The deadline for mailing is Saturday Oct. 15th!

Guidelines and Sign Up Instructions Here
You've gotta be quick for this one too! Deadline is also Oct. 15th!

We are making wonky cross blocks in any combination of red, aqua, and white.
Guidelines Here
Mailing deadline is Oct. 29th.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Canning Turkey Broth

Recently I cooked up a turkey that had been in the freezer for some time.  It was delicious!  One of the things I try and do when we have turkey is make sure that I can some turkey broth afterwards.  It makes me a bit crazy to just throw away everything once we're done eating the turkey.  

So here is what you do:

  •  Dump all bones/carcass & any turkey leftover drippings into a large pot.
  • If you want to remove the fat then add some water and put it in the fridge overnight.  The fat will rise and congeal a bit and you'll more easily be able to remove it and throw it away.
  • Some celery tops
  • An onion, peeled & quartered
  • A couple bay leaves
  • I also throw in the neck and giblets if I haven't cooked them up for stuffing, etc.
  • Add water to cover all and then maybe a bit more.
  • Bring to a boil and then cover and simmer for a couple hours until the remaining meat will fall off the bones.
  • Strain liquid into another pot.
  • Discard everything else.  (You can go thru and pick out the meat and save it for something if you'd like)
Turkey broth MUST BE pressure canned.
10# pressure for 25 min. for quarts or 20 min. for pints. (adjust for altitude as needed)
I usually get at least 4 quarts of broth when I do this.
Click HERE for the Ball recipe for Chicken Stock, and here for Beef Stock
You can find the recipes in The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving
pg. 399 for Chicken Stock
pg. 400 for Beef Stock 
pg. 401 for Vegetable Stock.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Someone please save me from myself!

While in the throngs of my latest scrap quilt I got a wild hair and decided to do some organizing of my stash.  I don't have a huge stash by any means, but at times it feels large and overwhelming.  Mostly though, I needed to go through it, use up pieces I've had for awhile, cut up small/irregular pieces into usable sizes, and give away anything I don't intend to use.  It made for a royal mess in my sewing room, but in the end I am so happy I did it.  It should be an annual event I think...Kind of like purging your wardrobe. 

Here's what I did:   I started by cutting 5" charm squares, then I cut 2.5" squares, and then finally if there was anything left after that I cut it into string pieces.  I know that may sound crazy to some of you, but I really love having organized scraps.  It makes future projects so much easier when everything is pre-cut.

But the bad thing that came out of all that cutting/organizing, was that I decided on no less than 2 new quilts for myself.  Seriously, have you seen my current WIP list on the sidebar?  I do NOT need any or more new projects!

I'm thinking this charm square stack will be turned into a warm/cool quilt
This one is my favorite so far.
(Does anyone else notice my lack of yellows and purples?  Didn't know I was deficient in those colors...)

My overflowing string bin. 
I'm definitely NOT doing another one of these anytime soon, but I'd like to turn them into something pretty.  Maybe something like this or this.

Finally, my 2.5 inch squares.  I used most of them up to finish my scrap-tastic quilt, but there are still some stragglers left.  Can't believe I'm saying this, but I've started another 9 patch with them.

So many ideas, so little time...
Anyone else have this problem? Or is it just me?

Yours Truly, 
Emily the Scrap Hoarder

P.S.  Anyone else as excited as I am for the this book to be released?!  I think it could be the answer to my problem! :)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Swim Team Swimsuit Pattern

I've had this pattern for years.  Kwik Sew 3153


I bought it for the wrap and have never made the suit until just this past week.  And why, you might ask, am I still making swimsuits in October in Minnesota?  Well, it was 84 degrees here the other day, for the entire week.  But my two oldest girls joined the HS swim team (7th thru 12th grade are all combined together) this year and the season doesn't end 'til the end of October.  And when you're in chlorine every day it kind of does a number on your suits. 

This suit is actually for my friend Andrea's 13 yr. old daughter, A., who is also on the swim team.  She likes my suits better than Speedo's.  Thank you, A.!

The pattern indicates to attach the straps straight back, but for swim team you need to never have to worry about your straps slipping off.   So we attached them in the center so they sort of "V" on your back when you're wearing it.

A. looks great in this suit, if I do say so myself. (little smile)   
We LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this color of green! 
Glad I have more of it. 

This was pretty straight forward pattern and I really like it.  It also has some potential to do some different looks--I've already been thinking about options with contrasting binding, 2-tone, etc.

The only change I made to this pattern here the first time around is that I did not make it hook in the back as indicated on the pattern.  Swimmers don't want or like that.  Instead I made that top back piece one continuous piece.  I cut it on the fold, lining up the center line to the fold.  It worked out perfectly.

I was worried that the high cut leg version would be TOO high a cut per the pic on the pattern, but for swimmers it is just great.  No changes needed there.

Fully lined suit, definitely needed since the green fabric is a bit thinner than some of the others I use.  But I fully line suits regardless once the girl gets to be about 10 yrs. old.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Boy Baby Quilts

This is what happens when I'm stressed...either I obsessively sew or obsessively eat chocolate. 
Sometimes both...but I'm really trying to avoid the chocolate. 
It isn't easy. 
But hey, some of my sewing projects are getting done.

Remember these thrift store fat quarters I found earlier this year.  Well, I've been playing around with them lately and have made a couple baby quilts to donate to one of our local hospitals. 

#1  This one was a practice in HSTs and maneuvering those around.  I like how it turned out.

I ran out of the backing/binding fabric but luckily had a little leftover from the light blue to add a piece to the binding.  Machine quilted in zig-zag pattern.

This one was inspired by Charm Squares Baby Quilt Pattern from Oh, Fransson! using more fat quarters from the same bundle as above.  I wanted to try this pattern out.  I like it and will probably try another one.  Or try a slightly bigger version.  And I think I'll add a little sashing on the sides of this one too, just to make it slightly bigger.

Here is my little cauldron head helper. 
You can see his head peeking out over the top edge of the quilt top.

  Later in the day he sat in the cauldron and got stuck. 
I had to help him get out of it.
Aren't little boys great!?

Flannel Blocks

This one was made from flannel scraps (4 colors of blocks shown above) for the top and binding and then the same striped ticking that I had sent Emily and she used for her Vintage Stars Quilt binding.

A Little Hang Ten
Just in time for Halloween.  I really love the colors on this one.  Marbled burnt orange on the back and the olive green plaid for the binding.  Not so typical baby boy colors, but I love them anyway.  It must be because I am an October baby myself.

Now I should get obsessive about some other projects that I have.  Not sure I'll get there though, 'cuz sometimes a girl just needs to sew....and sew....and sew.


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