Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Knit Skirts


I love skirts. But that's not new news. (I think I need to count the skirts in my closet again. It's been awhile. Thanks for the reminder, Jessi.)

I have been thinking a lot about knit skirts lately. I see them often on other people, but with my long legs, it's always difficult finding anything to fit the lower half of my body that is long enough. That goes for pants and skirts. No one really wants to see any one's butt hanging out of a skirt. I just wish more people realized that.

I ran into the fabric store to buy a zipper for a dress I want to sew and came out with some knit fabric. It was seriously on sale. Like $3.49-3.99 a yard. I thought it was the perfect price to experiment.

I used my serger, ballpoint needles and not really any pattern. It's a basic A-line skirt with a waistband.

(No, I'm not pregnant. I am trying to awkwardly take the photo myself.)

And, had my serger not been acting up again, it would have taken only minutes for each one. But if you have to thread and re-thread your serger 95 times in a row, it might take a tad longer.


I thought about doing a rolled hem for the bottom, but ultimately decided to leave it untouched. I was afraid of stretching the hem in a lettuce-edge fashion and, while I love that look, it wasn't the look I wanted for the skirts.

I may never take them off.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The She-Still-Sews ?? Skirt

Yes. I still sew. I hadn't sewn in awhile because my serger and I had a falling out. I said some things I shouldn't have and she wasn't very happy with me. I decided it was best that we both part our ways and take a breather from each other. And it was the right thing to do because now we're friends again.

Last Saturday we were invited to my aunt and uncle's 50th wedding anniversary party. It was a casual afternoon luncheon at a local Irish Pub/Restaurant. (My cousin's wife is the manager there.) Just the night before I decided I should wear a new skirt.

I guess it's hard to see, but it's made from a vintage sheet. The skirt is a basic A-line with a tie waistband and zipper. I think I did a rolled-hem along the bottom. (I can't remember.) I wore it Saturday to the luncheon, Sunday to church, and Monday for a town meeting.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Blowout


So a friend stopped by yesterday while I was making a batch of strawberry-rhubarb jam. I was trying to convince her how fun and easy it is to can your own fruits, veggies and jam.

I know I was a little distracted while I was working, because I was trying to carry on an adult conversation at the same time. So, when I noticed some random rhubarb floating around the water bath just seconds after dunking the jars, I wasn't worried. I assumed I was too distracted to remember to put a ring on one of the jars. When I pulled the jars out of the water, they all looked fine ... from the top. I dunked the jars again and I saw more rhubarb floating about. I pulled the jars back out and discovered that one of the jars had broken.


It was a clean break. Well, clean as is no miscellaneous shards of glass to contend with. Not clean as in a whole pint of strawberry-rhubarb jam floating around a pot of boiling water ...

I'm not sure if I convinced her how fun and easy canning is. I did tell her repeatedly that this was the first time I had a jar break like that. As much canning as I do, it was bound to happen sooner or later.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Pie That Almost Caught My House on Fire

So yesterday I decided to make a strawberry-rhubarb pie. (I actually went to the produce market and bought more rhubarb. I tell you, my obsession runs deep.)

Anyway, all was well and fine while I was baking the pie. With only ten minutes left of baking, I removed the foil from the edges of the crust. I came back in a few minutes later and removed the pie from the oven. It had bubbled over in the oven. I was annoyed about the mess, because in May the same thing had happened right after I had cleaned the oven and I really loathe dirty ovens. (And microwaves! Don't get me started on that one.)

I had a "rustic raspberry pie/tart" in the oven on a small baking sheet, but it needed a little more time, so I turned on the timer and walked away. When I came back in, the inside of my oven was on fire. At first the flame was small, like a candle. Then it grew to about 10-12." Smoke was billowing out of the oven. I was freaked out a bit and freaked the little ones out a bit, too.

The flame extinguished itself in what seemed like forever. And after I determined we were safe from danger, Sawyer and Spenser walked into the kitchen wearing plastic firefighters' helmets on their heads and paper doctors' masks on their faces.


But I saved the pies! Oh, and the house, too.

Today I think I'll stick to making another batch of strawberry-rhubarb jam.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Jammin'

Last week was a regular old jam-week at our house. We've been finding great deals on fruit, either very inexpensive or free.

We started with apricot jam. Apricots at the produce market were 99 cents a pound. I bought a bag and made jam. It was such a hit at the house, I bought another bag and made a second batch. (When I made the second batch, I invited two of my nieces over to help/watch the process. One niece is working on her Knowledge Value Project for church. Last fall I taught her how to draft an A-line skirt pattern and sew it. And last winter I taught her how to make soap w hen I was making it for Christmas.)

And then we made raspberry jam with all the raspberries we picked for free. The kids loved doing a toast/bread sampler testing both varieties at the same time.

Then, while at the store, I noticed bing cherries were $1.99/pound, which is really cheap for bing cherries. So I picked up two big bags. Joe loves cherries and we can only afford to buy them when they are $2 a pound. I had just planned on eating the cherries, but while I was browsing my beloved Ball Blue Book, I ran across a recipe for bing cherry jam and well ...

Who am I not to try the recipe? It would have been a crime to pass it by. (I didn't add the liqueur or cloves to the recipe and it was still delish. This recipe is similar except mine didn't call for salt.) I accidentally pitted and chopped too many cherries, so I immediately made a second batch.
And a neighbor of mine, who knew of my rhubarb obsession, went to an auction and bought four large bunches of rhubarb for $1 and brought them down. I stewed the rhubarb and canned it for future strawberry-rhubarb pies. (Just before the neighbor brought down the rhubarb, I had made a batch of strawberry-extra-rhubarb jam. My second batch of the season.)


So, that's what I've been up to. I've gone through about 15 pounds of sugar and several boxes of pectin in the past week. BUT, here is the unofficial breakdown of what I accomplished:

apricot jam: 10 1/2-pints + 2 pints
raspberry jam: 7 1/2-pints + 1 pint
strawberry-rhubarb jam: 1 1/2-pint + 3 pints
cherry jam: 8 1/2-pints + 2 pints
stewed rhubarb: 3 pints
Plus I had enough of each to sample and put a jar in the fridge (and give a jar to my nieces for their hard work).

I wanted to mention that I picked up this little set at Walmart for $10 last week. Although I'm not a "beginner" canner, it's great for smaller batches. It fit right inside one of my cooking pots, using less water. It would be great if you are short on storage space or don't want to invest a ton of money on a larger canner.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Summers are Busy

I thought I'd catch a break with summer after a long school year, but that is not the case. Last week I attended the MML Convention at the beach. This is the only proof I have that I actually touched the sand this year. Last year I only touched the sand that the children dragged back in to the hotel room from the beach. This year I went to the beach. Albeit at 7 p.m.

A photographer goes around and takes photos of everything and everyone. I really don't like my picture taken, so I'm always a little freaked out when the flash goes off and I notice it is flashing in my vicinity.

I always sit in the front of the class. These classes can go on for two hours and sometimes the subject matter is a little, uh ... sleep-inducing. This class was actually very informative: Ethics. I ended up taking six classes total. Two a day while we were there. I am a fellow in the Academy for Excellence in Local Governance through the University of Maryland and I only need a few more classes, which I can hopefully finish next summer.

After our return from the beach convention, we went on a field trip with the boy and cub scouts to visit a local quarry. Joe arranged for the trip so that the older scouts could earn their geology merit badge and the younger cubs could earn their belt-loops and pins. The quarry, in this location, is 300 feet deep. Yes, those are huge trucks down at the bottom that look like Matchbox cars.

We went berry picking, too. My cousin and her husband have a piece of property that is overrun with wild raspberries. Yum.

We also celebrated my father's birthday with some patriotic birthday cake. His birthday is the 5th, but it's close enough for a patriotic celebration.

And, finally, a little tomato. This is the first of our tomato harvest. I bought a tomato plant called "Tiny Tim," because I liked the name. I didn't realize it was a patio plant, so I quickly plopped it into a planter. It has yielded our first tomato.

A few days ago we had another chicken casualty. I don't know why she died, but it's been 100 degrees the past few days and I'm about to die in it. It seemed to be a peaceful death, even if her chicken sisters started to eat her. Again.