Archive | September, 2011

9: Discouraged

27 Sep








I wanted to write about how we’re looking forward this month.  That we’re trying to plan our lives for ourselves and not for our fictitious baby.  I don’t feel that optimistic tonight.  I feel discouraged. I feel sad.  9 months.  It’s been a bad day.

“And the World Turned” by the Gabe Dixon Band

Girl stood on the rocks with the water at her feet
the sun on her skin and a tear on her cheek
With her hand on her chest and the wind in her hair
Underneath her breath like a beggar’s prayer she said

I miss you, come back to me
I wish you’d come back to me

But nobody heard
And the world turned and the world turned and the world turned

And thats when the girl reached in her pocket
pulled out a silver heart-shaped locket
Opened it up and stared for a while at her faded boy
with a lazy smile, oh how

I miss you, come back to me
I wish you’d come back to me

But nobody heard
And the world turned and the world turned and the world turned

And she walked to the deepest part of the river
And she thought about diving in
She imagined how the current would overtake her
How easy it would be to disappear

But instead she tossed the locket
In the cool, blue, water

That night in her bed, she let herself weep
She let herself cry herself to sleep
And there in a dream somewhere in the night
Saw the boy and the locket by the riverside, saying

I miss you, come back to me
I wish you’d come back to me

But nobody heard
And the world turned and the world turned and the world turned

Sewing Summer…

27 Sep

I don’t knit in the summer.  I don’t like the way the needles feel in my fingers if there’s any humidity in the air.  I don’t like the feeling of wool or wool blends or acrylics, or fibers of any kind really, when it’s warm out.

But this summer, I found that I really needed to do something.  I was doing a lot of sewing for the store and for our craft shows.  I decided to take my sewing a little farther and start making things for myself.  It was almost all trial and error as I’d never actually made myself something really useful before with a sewing machine.  Once I got my new Brother CS-6000i machine, I really had no excuses…

Don't mind my poor picture quality... 😉

I made these skirts to wear for our first and last mall craft show.  The pattern is really forgiving and really versatile.  It’s a good base if you want to design something farther.  The pattern is Lil Blue Boo’s Twirl Skirt.

Next, I spent the summer perfecting Lil Blue

The birds just fit. Just go with it.

Boo’s Tunic Top pattern.  I made a few different variations as I learned what I needed to do to make them fit me comfortably.  I made the arm holes longer (to better fit my obvious man-shoulders? 😉 ), I made the stomach and hips smaller (for my disproportionately large chest? I wish 😉 ), and finally, I cut them shorter than the pattern called for because they were way too short to wear as a dress (I’ll own my longer than average legs) and I wanted to wear them with shorts.

Each one of them incorporate some kind of old, unworn article of clothing.  I’m really enjoying be able to reuse something that just isn’t working for me any more.  I think I lived in these for a good chunk of the summer.
This pattern made me realize how much I want a serger. (Did you get that, oh husband of mine?  **Early Christmas/Birthday present?**)  I don’t love the way my machine sews with jersey.  It’s doable, but a serger would look awesome.  Overall, however, I’m happy with how they turned out.

After that, I decided a dress form would make my life easier if I were going to continue to make clothing here and there.  But spending hundreds of dollars on a dress form that still wouldn’t match my body?  No thanks.  Jeremy helped me use Prudent Baby’s duct tape dress form tutorial.  I’m not going to lie, if you’re at all claustrophobic like I am, this whole process is going to bother you.  I could get out of that duct tape fast enough.  No pictures of that process for you though… It wasn’t pretty…
Anywho, my dress form turned out really great.  I think she needs a little tummy tuck still, but she’s technically the right size.  🙂

Finally, I wanted something warm and comfy now that it’s starting to get cooler out.  I found this pattern from 1984 on ebay for $2 and got the thicker jersey fabric on sale.  I’ll make some more modifications on it the next time I make one, but I’m really happy with how comfortable and decent it looks. 🙂

There have been a few other things that I’ve been working on, but we’ll save those for later.  I’m really glad that I’m finally learning some useful sewing skills.  I really enjoy it and often it’s quicker than knitting, so it offers some quicker gratification. 😉

Canning and Pickling!

22 Sep

Garden season is winding down.  😦  So sad.

We’ve had cucumbers, tomatoes, and jalapenos coming  out of our ears for the past couple months.  I went ahead a pickled some of our jalapenos in July, but when the plants seemed to catch their second wind a couple weeks ago, I knew more pickling would need to ensue.  Soooo, on Tuesday I pickled and canned the morning away turning a pile of fresh jalapenos and tomatoes into delicious preserves that should last us into the winter.


There are still lots of unripe jalapenos and tomatoes out there, so I’ll probably do another batch next week.

Want to pickle or can some of your own veggies?  Here are the recipes I used…

Pickled Jalapenos:
2 stainless steel stock pots
5 cups vinegar (5% acidity)
1 cup water
4 tsp pickling salt (no, you can’t use table salt)
2 tsp sugar
however many jalapenos you can get your hands on (this recipe is usually good for 2 lbs)
rubber gloves (don’t even think you don’t need them.  You totally do)
canning jars

Sanitize your jars and lids in boiling water in your largest stock pot.  Keep that water boiling when you’re done.  In another stainless steel pot,  bring your vinegar, water, pickling salt and sugar to boil.  Stir occasionally.  Once it’s boiling, cover and bring the heat down to low.  This is your brine solution and it needs to stay hot.   Slice your jalapenos between half and inch and a quarter inch thick.  Discard the stems.  Fill up your jars with the slice jalapenos.  You want to put a little pressure on them, but don’t squish them.  If you want to add a piece of onion or carrot or both, it will give them a little extra flavor.

Once your jars are full, take that hot brine solution and pour it over the tops of your jalapenos until it’s 1/4 to 1/2 an inch away from the top.  Take the handle of a plastic spoon and run it between the jar and the jalapenos to make sure you get out all of the air bubbles.
Wipe the top lip of the jar clean and place your sanitized flat lids on top and screw them into place.  Not too tight though. 🙂

Place all of the newly filled jars into the large stock pot for 10 – 15 minutes.  The jars are sealing and resanitizing during this process.
When the time is up, pull the jars out and place them on a towel, a cookie sheet, or a cooling rack.  I bought a jar grabber from the grocery store.  It makes grabbing metal lids out of boiling water a little less terrifying.

Once the lids are cool enough to touch, check to be sure the center of the lid has been sucked down.  It should NOT pop in and out.  If it does, your jars have not sealed correctly.  You can either replace the lid and reprocess your jar in the boiling water or stick it in your fridge to use right away.

Cool jars completely and store for up to a year.

Canned Tomatoes:
2 stainless steel stock pots + one more pot for boiling tomatoes (I used my nicer pot for this because nothing acidic will be in it)
lemon juice
Pint jars

Sanitize your jars and lids.  Keep that water boiling for processing.  Boil 2 more pots of water.  You’ll probably have 3 pots boiling at once.  Open some windows, it’s going to get humid in your kitchen quickly.

Next, you’ll want to peel your tomatoes.  Tomato skins are going to be really tough once preserved, so you want to get rid of them.  The easiest way to do that is to stick a few tomatoes into  one of your pots of boiling water.  Leave them in there for 30 seconds.  Pull them out and stick them into a cold or ice water bath (I didn’t have any ice and cold water worked just fine.  You’ll just have to replace it after a few rounds).  Take your tomatoes one at a time and slice in half.  The skin should almost fall off the tomato.  Cut off the stems and any bruises, quarter the tomato and stick into the sanitized jar.   You do want to try to pack the jars a little.  Tomatoes are mostly water and will separate after they’re processed.

Once your jars are full, put 2 tablespoons of lemon juice into each jar.  Next, take your boiling water and pour it into each jar until it’s 1/4 of an inch from the top.  Take the handle of a plastic spoon and run it between the tomatoes and the side of the jar to release any air bubbles.  Wipe the top of the jar and place the sanitized lids on.  Don’t screw them on too tight.

Stick your jars into the boiling stock pot for 35 minutes.

Once the lids are cool enough to touch, be sure the lids sucked in and are NOT popping in and out.  If the jars haven’t sealed, you can replace the lid with a new sanitized lid and reprocess for another 35 minutes.  Or, you can put it in the fridge to use right away. =)

Put the jars somewhere safe to sit overnight and then store them in a cool, preferably dark place for up to a year.

Happy preserving!

Socks and Typewriters

21 Sep

It has been a good week so far. 🙂

I feel so much more positive than I’ve felt in months.  I think the fact that it’s getting cooler out is helping.  I’ve never loved summer.  Too warm and not enough hand knits. 😉 I love fall.

I’ve started really knitting again.  Last year was spent figuring out my favorite stitches and mastering important to know techniques.  I’ve decided that this year I’m going to work more on textures.  I’ve always been intimidated by lace and chart knitting, but I’ve spent the last month or so really working on different kinds of socks.  I’ve discovered my favorite heel, cast on, and cuff size.  I love my new socks!

The first picture is of my finished Snow Day Socks! YAY!  That only took 8 months.. 😉  Next are my Mojo socks.  Awesome for getting back into the knitting groove as they focus on knitting, purling, and ribbing.  I used the Schopelle-Wolle Zauberball yarn that my mom and I found at Stitches Midwest.  The colorway is “crazy”… and it is.  The third picture is of my Kalajoki socks.  The pattern is supposed to mirror a Finnish river.  I had to rip out the entire second sock at one point because my river got a little out of control.  Finally, my Watercress mocks (mystery socks) .  Ravelry’s Sock Knitters Anonymous has a different challenge every month.  September’s was to knit all in one color: Chartruese.  They also offered a mystery pattern with clues throughout the month.  The pattern was good and forced me to embrace lace.  The color really grew on me. 🙂

I have a few more socks in progress right now, but then I’ll be hanging up my size 2 needles and getting down to some sweater business.  I have at least 3 sweaters planned for this winter and I already have the yarn for each, so no excuses. 😛

Meanwhile, I went with my sister, niece, and Jeremy to the Barn Sale at the Kane County Fairgrounds last weekend.  We found a few books and something even more fabulous…

  That’s alright, you can go ahead and be jealous now… 😉

It’s a functioning 1963 Smith-Corona Sterling typewriter.  I’ve always loved typewriters.  They force you to really think about what you plan on writing because there is no backspace key.

I’ve never owned a typewriter before because if they’re cheap they often don’t work and if they do work they’re far our of my “unnecessary accessories” budget.   Jeremy found this one though and just take a guess as to how much it was… You’ll never guess, so I’ll tell you: $1.  That’s right.  ONE DOLLAR. 🙂

Epic score.