We spent a fun day with family up on the Columbia River yesterday, a four-hour drive round-trip (whew!)--so I'm just getting settled in and back to business here this morning--getting focused, sorting things out, answering emails, returning phone calls.But I wanted to pop in and share a little autumn loveliness, by way of my glorious birthday bouquet (from the Mister), that is ushering in the new season and making me smile.It looks like it's going to be another beautiful fall day here—hope yours is too--wherever you are.
There's so much bounty from the garden right now.My dining room table is taken over with canning jars ready to be filled.More pickles, some tomatoes, and soon, applesauce.I love this time of year.Sweet September, with autumn beckoning and sumac turning red along the creek, always one of the first signs of fall.And it's my birthday month!But Indian Summer, where did you go?The skies are gray and there's a nip in the air.I'm not quite ready to slip back into socks and sweaters and close my bedroom windows at night.Though, around two o'clock this morning I wished I'd had, as I was abruptly shocked from sleep by a wild pack of yapping coyotes that went racing through the back field.I bolted up half-awake; still dreaming, and thought I was at the beach house, and for a few seconds I feared for my life thinking those varmints were coming in after me through the open windows.That is the first time in my life I've ever had a waking dream. I was looking around my bedroom, but I was seeing a completely different place.Quite, strange.
I love this little vintage cutting tool.The serrated edge makes perfect pickle chips...
...and another yummy addition to the pantry.
Sometimes I find this time a year a bit overwhelming with all that needs to get done before the weather lowers the boom on us, and I'm definitely feeling that urgency right now.Like a crazed squirrel gathering nuts.Making lists and checking them twice.I'm often working on so many things at once around here.However, I do remind myself to appreciate what I have accomplished this summer, and I'm so hugging myself right now for finally sewing up some new curtains for the kitchen.Sixteen panels in all.Yes, I did have a bit of a production line going. But I spent one afternoon cutting, and a couple of weeks sewing in my spare time.I'm thrilled they're done because it was a project that's been on hold for such a long time...mainly because I just couldn't find the right fabric.Then last month, just by chance, I ran across a whopping big bolt of lovely off-white cotton lawn (at a thrift shop of all places), and I couldn't believe my luck.Plus—it was "on sale" for half-price that one day.So double-woot! Not bad for covering eight large windows for $15.
Turkey Talk:: Thought some of you might like to hear an update on Turkey Lurkey and her flock of chicks, that I blogged about a few weeks ago. They have been making frequent visits to our house, although sadly mother turkey is hopping on one leg, apparently the victim of a predatory attack. I've been sitting here watching her hop along with her crumpled leg drawn up, still diligently herding her chicks, and standing guard over the remaining five left (out of a dozen). They often nap in my flower bed.It makes me a little sad to witness their struggle to survive, but how I admire their fortitude.I know that wild turkeys can create problems when left unchecked, and we often hear such stories about that from a nearby town that is over-run with them.But I like watching them pass through, and do appreciate their foraging and feasting on those pesky summer bugs.They do seem to enjoy the cracked corn and raisins I (ahem) "accidently" toss out on occasion too.
I've been receiving such good mail lately...and as a result I've been crazy busy. This bundle is from Mary of Billings, MT. Most of the patterns belonged to her Mother and Grandmother and I'm so happy they saved them. I was able to reprint quite a few designs for pillowcases. I'm always getting requests for more of them, so there ya go. ( check them out over here.) Yep, the PatternBee website has been dusted off and is back online and open for business again. Seems there's always room for improvement; I still have a few more things I'm working on behind the scenes, but the site will remain up, so not to worry. Plus, I've got another bundle of vintage patterns--from Rochelle in MI, that will be making their debut on the new additions page soon. Thank you Ladies!
When you visit my vintage embroidery shop you will find the site closed until mid-month while we make a few improvements behind the scenes. Nothing major, just a little spruce-up.All pattern orders that have already been placed are being processed and shipped without delay.If you have any questions or concerns about your order feel free to contact me (link in sidebar). Have Laptop, Will Travel. . .so where ever I may roam, I'm usually accessible and will do my best to get back to you as soon as possible.
It's good to be back amongst friends.I missed you guys too!Thanks for the nice welcome back.
It's so nice to know there are many of you out there still making jam and that I'm not a dying breed.I hope I didn't imply that there was anything wrong with freezer jam.(Heavens no--if you are making any kind of jam: kudos!)In praise of FJ; I do like that you don't need to use as much sugar to make it and that it tastes more like fresh fruit.But for those reasons I mentioned canned jars still work best for me.I'm often asked how I make my jam, so I thought I'd share a little bit about that for beginners or anyone else interested in reducing the amounts of sugar called for in traditional recipes.
Basically, the amount of sugar needed to set up fruit depends on pectin.Some fruits are naturally high in pectin, but determining that is difficult because pectin breaks down considerably as fruits ripen.Without sufficient amounts of pectin you have to add nearly double the amount of sugar-to-fruit ratio, and then boil to the "soft-ball stage" for jam to thicken properly. It's a bit of a guessing game, even with a candy thermometer for guidance. Additionally, the cooking time can seem endless because you need to stand over a hot spattering pot and stir at intervals to keep the jam from scorching.
When I began making jam years ago, I didn't like adding gelatin (because of its animal origins), so that is the way I did it.Then I discovered natural pectin made from citrus peel and it was transforming.I use Pomona's Universal Pectin (available at most health-food stores), which allows you to use low amounts of sweetener.Even honey.It's power is activated by calcium (included in a packet you mix with water), not by sugar content--so you retain more of the fruit flavor.Recipes for making jam are included in the box.
More recently, I chanced to try Mary Jane's ChillOver Powder and was not disappointed.Her product is marketed as a gelatin substitute, but also works great for jam.It's made from Kanten (agar agar) a sea vegetable used primarily in Japan. I must say the flavor, color and texture of this jam was excellent.The sugar to fruit ratio was half—4 cups fruit + 2 cups sugar, not as low as citrus pectin, but still very good, and again, short cooking time.It was a little watery when I was spooning into jars, and boy was I nervous, but it set up beautifully.The only downside is the price.One box contains four packets which is enough for 8 cups of fruit.So if you have a lot of jamming to do, it might not be economical unless you are getting your fruit and berries free from your backyard.But worth it (I think) if you are entering your jam at the county fair.Or, inviting friends for tea and scones.