Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Sweatshirt to Jacket Transformation for a "Tween"

Here's yet another sweatshirt to jacket project.  I bought this sweatshirt from Nancy's Notions, along with several others, on sale.  I used the quick fitting method on this very fast jacket project.

When I went to the Quilt Festival in Houston a few years ago I bought some Fusible Stay Tape (pictured above) from Londa's Creative Threads booth, as well as some of her books.  This Fusible Stay Tape is so easy to use - it is narrow (unlike others I found) and stabilizes the knit fabric by simply fusing it (fusible on one side only) so no stay-stitching is required.  There are two types: "Knit" and "Straight".  I use the "knit" tape on necklines or curved areas.  I use the "straight"  tape on front openings (after cutting open).  Before I found this product I "tried" to stabilize with fusibles, but couldn't find anything narrow enough.  There is a LOT in each package.  I still haven't used it all yet.

Since this jacket was for a "tween" I used sweet and fun flower appliques from BunnyCup Embroidery.  It was free! It stitched out very nicely and I resized it with no problems.  It's amazing how many free designs are out there.

The brown print was a small amount  bought years ago to "audition" for baby bedding.  It was ultimately not used for that purpose and I've since used just about all of it up.  I had just enough for this project.  I didn't have quite enough for true bias tape, so I had to make due with simple foldover.  If you look closely at the neckline you can see that bias would have been better, but... I used the same fabric as a ruffle at the sleeve.

Closure detail
In this close-up of the closure you can see that I used a black hair elastic and two covered buttons.  The one on the left anchors the elastic and the one on the right is the one the elastic goes around to secure. (not sure if that even makes sense, but it's late).  I love covered buttons and they're so easy and cheap to make!

Close-up of the appliqued flowers.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Home Grown Kidney Beans

When shopping for seeds at the feed store this past spring, I saw a package of kidney bean seeds.  I've never grown them before and thought it might be a fun experiment.

Marc planted three rows of kidney beans, next to the regular bush beans.  The bean pods took a bit longer to flower and set than other varieties but otherwise, they looked very similar.

I had the idea that I would pick them as they matured and can them without having to dry, soak, cook, etc. As I said, I'd never done it before, but had this bright idea.  Turns out, that's not how it works at all.

There's really not a lot of info out there on raising these types of beans.  I'm guessing that's because not many people do it nowadays.  Everything I read said to leave the pods on the plant until dry, shell and store.  That was about it.

As a couple of beans matured, I picked them and ate them raw.  Nothing to write home about.  As I did a little more googling I learned that eating raw kidney beans will make you sick! Supposedly even a few will produce vomiting, diarrhea, etc.  I literally learned that right after I'd eaten those few raw ones.  I waited for the violet illness to set in but it didn't happen thankfully.  I'm pretty sure I'd have thrown them all out. Anyway, they must be well cooked before eating.

For the most part, all the beans were ready at once and before I knew it they were all dry on the plants.  It was a very simple harvest job - just grab the dry bean pods and dump them in a bucket for later shelling. Unlike the fresh eating beans, the dry pods are brown and stand out against the green bush, making them easy to spot.  There were a few green ones still not dry when I harvested them, so I popped out those beans and put them in the dehydrator for a bit to get good and dry before storing.

We had 3 rows about 25 feet long total, and harvested 5 pounds of beans.  That may not sound like much but again this was only 3 small rows.  The beauty of the whole thing is you drop in the seed and walk away until they're dry on the bush.  So little effort, unlike the fresh green beans, which have to be picked as they mature and canned, these can sit around until it's convenient to deal with them.  At the height of harvest and canning season, it was nice to have something that I didn't have to worry about going bad before I could deal with it.

I made a pot of chili with some the other night and they were quite good.  Maybe it's my imagination but I think they were better than store-bought.  ; )

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Fun in Kindergarten

Home schooling was a family affair this past year.  Mom and Grandma taught Kindergarten (and PreSchool to little Sis). We were fortunate to have space to create a fun school room.  We painted the walls and floor, installed a white board, bulletin board and Mom created a fun life size 3-D tree. Our theme was "Owls".  We set up the play kitchen and light table.

Dad painted some vintage school desks in aqua and pink.  We found that the more modern desk/tables were preferred by the girls.  They have a larger flat surface and weren't so confining.

Aunt Dana provided a really fun language arts curriculum - "Sing Spell Read and Write".  We used colorful posters, music, songs, games and more.  We used Singpore Math for the math curriculum.  We tried to incorporate lots of fun into the lessons.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Paprika Peppers

Fresh Paprika Peppers
This year's tomato crop would probably seem large to most people, but it was a small one for us.  We had about 125 plants in all - about 1/3 of the usual number.  The first few trays of seedlings died (due to operator error).  So, since the harvest would be smaller, salsa was the number one product we wanted to put up.

I have shared the Salsa Recipe I use before, but for the last couple of years we have been adding something extra - about 1 tablespoon of SMOKED paprika.  This really is the best salsa we've ever made, and really the smoked paprika is the difference.

We have canned about 65 jars of salsa and that's got to last us till next tomato season. That's just slightly over 1 jar per week. In our minds, that's not much at all!

I had never tried smoked papriks until sister Dana picked some up at a really neat spice and meat processing supply shop called Townsend Spice in Melbourne, Arkansas, and ever since I tried it, I'm hooked.  I love it. 

I set out on a quest to make my own smoked paprika.  It seemed simple enough - find paprika pepper seeds, plant them, harvest peppers, smoke, dry, grind, etc.

The first challenge was finding paprika pepper seeds.  I only found a couple of different sources on the internet.  I ended up buying seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.  They carry two varieties, and I bought the Leutschauer Paprika Pepper.  They are supposedly originally from Hungary.  The package contained only 25 seeds and almost all seeds germinated.  The plants stayed quite small (probably because we neglected the seedlings) but produced a lot of peppers.  They are a lipstick red when ripe. 
Peppers in the dehydrator
The fresh and dried peppers are too hot for my taste, even though I remove the seeds and membranes before drying.  My next experiment will be to cook the peppers before drying them.  Cooked jalapenos don't seem nearly as hot so I am hoping this will help the paprikas as well.