Pickles, Tomatoes and Peppers!

It's been such a hot summer and my garden is thriving because of it. The tomatoes just keep coming as well as the peppers and the cucumbers.

I made pickles using many of my cucumbers and when I was done I still had more cucumbers left. It is amazing how much produce I get from a few plants.

This year I thought I would try brussels sprouts. They grew on these giant stalks and I had to pick them off one-by-one. It was hard work but they are a wonderful addition to my garden.

I also sliced green bell peppers and jalapenos and put them in the freezer for winter.

One of my favorite things to do with my harvest is can salsa. This year I blanched tomatoes all summer long and I have 4 gallon ziploc bags full of tomatoes in the freezer. I also made a case of salsa with the fresh tomatoes.

I still have carrots and cabbages growing and plan on canning jalapeno carrots and making spring rolls from scratch. I also have been picking raspberries all summer long. Once I have enough in the freezer, I will make more jam.

What a wonderful year!


My Little Free Library - Completed

This summer has been all about projects around the house so sewing projects are taking a back seat. And that's OK. Sometimes it's nice to take a breather; it re-energizes my desire to sew. One of my fun summer projects was to build a little free library. I've always wanted one since I read about how the movement started in Hudson right here in my home state of Wisconsin.

They can be fashioned out of recycled materials and made up of anything your imagination can come up with. So my husband dug through all his leftover scraps and came up with enough materials to build one. We chose a pre-made plan but decided to make some adjustments in order to make it our own style. The plan we chose had more to do with the design on the inside of the library than on the outside.

For Mother's Day this year my son and husband went about the chore of digging a post hole and installing a 4x4 post in the hole. It didn't only take some brawn and sweat, it took a plan to call Digger's Hotline well in advance. And as it turns out, we had to move our chosen location a little to the south to stay away from buried gas and water lines. I also made a call to the city government to make sure I did not need any permits and to check to make sure I was working within all city ordinances. So once the post was installed we went about the building process.

In the meantime, I hung a little sign on the post stating: 'Coming Soon! A Little Free Library!'. My husband spent the rest of June making the body of the library and putting in the shelves. I painted and urethaned both the interior and exterior of the library over the course of a few weeks. It wasn't a fast process since I was at the mercy of the weather. We had many very hot and rainy days making the conditions unsuitable for painting. And I put 3 coats of everything on it since it was going to be exposed to the elements year-round.

On the 4th of July I was in the local parade. I had many neighbors shouting out to me, "When is that library going to be ready?!" I was thrilled that they were excited about it but it also felt a lot like adding stress to what was to be a fun project.

The entire library was done, the main box, the door and the roof panels were in place. However we needed to either put shingles, or cedar shake or something protective on the roof. We scoured the home improvement stores, Goodwill and the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store for ideas. We came up with nothing. By then July was done and we were heading into early August. That's when my husband came across some old siding from when we built our house. After looking at if for a few days he figured out a way to turn it into our roof covering. He fashioned a roof from aluminum siding and an aluminum corner post. It wasn't the right color, but anything can be painted. I got out my Rust-Oleum paint the covers any surface (including metals!) and away we went.

All that was left was to add our little embellishments and we waited until it was installed on the post that has been waiting so patiently all summer long.


Kitty Zipper Pouch

This is a little project made from a toddler t-shirt. The cute little shirt has a kitty on it and it is a little faded - a sure sign of shirt love from lots of wear.

I cut the image from the shirt while trying to keep as much surrounding fabric as possible. Thus the rectangular shape of the pouch.

I used a pretty cotton fabric on the back that complimented the colors within the image. I also found some cute kitty fabric in a green print, the same color as the text on the t-shirt image.

I made some pockets inside the pouch to make it a little more versatile. The color combinations in this little bag were so very much fun to use.


New Kitchen Curtains

For the most part Pinterest drives me crazy. It is loaded with fun cool ideas and I am not afraid to give them a try. The problem is that most of them do not work out as easily as they look. I can't even count the number of recipes I've tried that turned out terrible. And the number of patterns/tutorials I've sewn that just do not look right when they are done. I guess you could say I don't have a lot of Pinterest luck.

But here we go again. I love love love the cool curtain rods made from plumbing parts. They look raw and edgy, modern and old-fashioned all at the same time. I want them in my new pretty kitchen.

I am very lucky to have an extremely handy husband. He rarely complains about my crazy ideas and he did not say a word about this one. I measured my patio door and kitchen window and off we went to the local home improvement store. We bought pipes and nipples and fittings galore! What fun!

We took all our pieces home and I sewed linen curtains while my husband put together the "curtain rods". As for the curtains, I acquired 25 yards of beautiful white linen at an estate sale and I used that fabric for my new patio curtain and kitchen curtain. They turned out beautifully. The fabric was very old and the drape of it was heavenly. They don't make that kind of quality any more.

The curtains weren't the easiest things to install, in fact, once they went up they won't be easy to take down. I got the curtains done just as he was ready to hang them. I can't believe how great they look. The bright white fabric against the dark walls is a gorgeous contrast and everything finally looks like I was hoping it would look.


Sweet Sundays Quilting Group Field Trip

Our church quilting group went on a field trip to St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Tess Corners, WI. They invited us to lunch and to see the work their quilting group does. We exchanged ideas, shared stories and enjoyed a nice lunch.

We brought some of our quilts along with us so we had 'show and tell'.  Everyone in their group and ours had an opportunity to share some of the things we've made over the course of the year. The St. Paul's group has many more quilters than our little church so their outreach goes much farther than we do. They support both local and Lutheran sponsored missions. We were all so happy to see their many good works.

We support the Joy House and the Hope House as well as the local VA Hospital. There are so many ways we can all do our part, and we are happy to share our quilts with those who need them.


Cold Pressed Iced Coffee - What a Treat!

Iced Coffee
I decided to learn how to make iced coffee. It sounds easy enough; coffee, ice cream and some whipped cream on top. How complicated is that?

After some research I found out it's not as easy as I thought. There is a process called cold pressing that must be done to get the right stuff for iced coffee. Cold pressing involves mixing a pound of coffee with 2 quarts of water and letting it steep overnight.

Once 24 hours goes by, you just take the sludgy mixture and pour it through a cheese-cloth lined strainer. That required some patience and a desire to have more than 2 hands. It was a bit messy as I tried to squeeze all the liquid through the cheese cloth. My hands were covered with the coffee grounds and it was a struggle to keep from getting the grounds into the pressed coffee but I got it done.

On a side note, a few years ago I purchased 5 yards of cheese cloth, took it home and washed it in the dish sink by hand with a drop of Dawn dish-washing liquid. After it soaked, I rinsed it thoroughly twice to get the soap out. After it was dry, I stored it in a Ziploc bag to keep it clean. So I was comfortable using some of the clean cheese cloth for this purpose.

The recipe I used for this said to put a teaspoon or two of sugar in a mug with some ice and pour the pressed cold coffee over the top. Mix it up and add half and half. Well, I don't drink my regular coffee with sugar, just cream. So I thought I could drink this stuff without sugar and boy, was I wrong! You see, the cold press process ensures that the coffee is stronger, a little more bitter with much more caffeine still in the coffee. I had to give in and add some sugar. I stirred it up, added some whipped cream and a straw and it was well worth the wait.

I could tell there was more caffeine in the iced coffee; I had a bit of the jitters after I finished it. It was fantastic. I also took some of the mixture and made ice cubes out of it. I thought it would compliment the coffee on these hot days. And luckily it stores for a month so I can enjoy the coffee for the entire hot month of August. What a treat!


What's on the design board?

I recently purchased the book, Quilts for Scrap Lovers which was written by my friend, Judy Gauthier. The book is amazing and perfect for me since I love scraps and modern fabrics and Judy's book represents both very well.

I started my first project from the book called Row Houses. The technique for making this quilt top is a little different as it uses applique to attach the houses to the background fabrics. So far it's been fun mixing the 'house' colors into rows.

I still need a few more background fabrics to complete my quilt top but I will take my time to make sure I find the right color values to compliment the rows that are already completed.