Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Just call her stump

See what happens when you get a fire lit under you, miracles can happen.  My daughter's ami, that has been in the works for...a very long time is getting closer and closer to being done.  It doesn't hurt that my oldest has been haranguing me day and night to finish it.  "is it done yet?"  "mom, are you working on my rabbit?"  "mom, I can see that you are making dinner, cleaning the house and working on world peace...but are you done with my rabbit yet?"

I told her it'd be done by Saturday.  I think it's doable.  Cross fingers.

I decided to give this rabbit a twist by giving her some cute little knee socks.  I think it's going to be adorable.

I wanted to give you a working shot of what it means to work on a fairly involved crochet project like this...it means keeping track of multiple spots, and keeping them separated from each other.  To do this, I like these little crochet clips.  As you can see I am employing 3 at one time.  This is about the max that I use at any given time.  But as I am splitting the torso into two legs, I need to know my boundaries...otherwise you get one leg that's 1" round and another that 2" around vs two that are 1.5" round.  See, nobody wants one fat leg.

Here's another shot of the madness.  So two are keeping track of the leg I am not working on and the 3rd is keeping count of the rounds on the leg I am working on. 

When I am actively crocheting, I am doing it with the ami upside down.  Sometimes this is obnoxious because it feels like it gets in the way, but I guess if I tried to sew it rightside up, it would get quite heavy and flop over any way.   Oh yeah, and I am watching Dancing with the Stars in the background.  Go Maks and Hope!

I decided to give the rabbit rainbow panties...I think they're cute but they have wound up blending in with the flesh. So I am going to have to sew ruffles on or something to give it a little emphasis. I probably should have sewn a row of slip stitches, but as I am making this up partially on my own, I didn't think about it until I had sewn most of a leg...oh well.  I'll figure something out.

 Another Amigurumi book review:

Amigurumi World Seriously Cute Crochet by Ana Paula Rimoli

Okay, this book has many cute things in it, but they are in no way as detailed as "Amigurumi Super Happy Crochet Cute".  This book focuses on tiny critters that can be completed in a few hours.  So, a really good book if you want to bust out some cuties in not too much time.   And there are some seriously cute things in here.

This book was an awesome purchase for me....for this very reason.  She gives instructions on making cute little eggs.  My youngest loves "h-eggs".  I think she was at particularly influential times in her life her first and second  Easters.  She would walk around carrying plastic eggs wherever she went and loved looking at the eggs in the carton and wanted to (and still does) help crack the eggs.  So I was able to make these for her birthday and I cannot tell you how often I have seen her wandering around carrying an egg.  There was a time when she almost wouldn't put them down and wanted to sleep with them.  Due to eggs getting lost in the covers and her waking up distressed in the middle of the night that she couldn't find her h-egg and Mommy having to come in, tear the covers apart to find the eggs to restore calmness, we decided to banish eggs as lovies in bed.  But they are great toys.

Gotta love the chicks too!

Get crocheting friends, it's a great hobby.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

@#$% Jam...nope...Butter?!?

Homemade peach butter.  What is it?  It sounds like you take a hunk of butter and mix some peaches in it and spread it on toast.  Sounds good if you ask me...but nope, it's basically jam.  You cook it for a long...let me repeat...LONG time so that it cooks out most of the liquid and it gets really thick and the flavor is really concentrated.  No pectin needed.

Thanks to Smitten Kitchen I had to try it.  I had wanted to make peach jam this season and this sounded fun.  I am all for trying new things.  So I got my box of peaches, yes I said box and set out to conquer this new canning delicacy.  I referred to her recipe as well as my Ball Blue Book guide to preserving canning recipe book...but that one ticks me off because it tells me not to use my steam canner...which then sends me into a tizzy that I am going to kill my family off with botulism...which then has my Mom reminding me that she has canned for upteen years using a steam canner, her mom used a steam canner and her mom's mom used a steam canner so simmer down now!  Deep breath.  Okay...secretly look up pressure canners on amazon.com and covet them and think about when I will have riches again and will buy one.  Ahem...

So, peach butter.  I doubled the recipe which turned into a fiasco because Smitten Kitchen said it takes ohhhhh....40 minutes max to simmer it down to the appropriate thickness.  Bull.  It took me almost 3 hours and that's just because I decided to give up getting the appropriate thickness and kept turning my temperature up hoping for a faster reduction.  As my pot's contents got lesser and lesser from it slowly being put in jars, the remaining product eventually got there....so some will be thicker than others.  Oh well.

Take 4 to 4.5 lbs of ripe peaches and 4 C. sugar and 1/2 C. water
Really, the easiest thing to do would be to check out Smitten Kitchen, I referenced her above and find her post on peach butter, but I'll give you the quick version here.

**********The thing you need to know about canning is...well there are three things that I feel are most important. ***********

1- READ THE INSTRUCTIONS COMPLETELY BEFORE YOU BEGIN.  I can't tell you how many times I have messed up a step because I think the sugar should go immediately in the fruit...it doesn't.  READ FIRST!

 2- The 7 P's!  Proper Prior Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance (for those of you who didn't know the 7 P's).  Have all your supplies ready.  Pre-measure things.  Have your canning gear ready to go.  Fill things with water and get them boiling.  Because you just know you're going to want to do something and you're going to have to go find it, because canning crap is usually at the bottom of a pile in your garage or you have to wait for water to boil.  Not fun.  Be ready.

3-Have all your jars and twist-on lids already washed.  Nothing killed an attempt at canning faster than jars that have been sitting in a cupboard for a year. This really is part of the 7 P's, but felt it was important enough that it deserved a specific mention.

Here's my work set up just so you get an idea...

Here is my bowl full of sliced peaches and the box my canning jars were in to hold my peaches that are waiting to go in the boiling water and to hold the pits and be thrown away later.  No time to throw a pit away in the middle of canning.  I have set these in between my sink and my stove.  So on my stove I have a large pot of boiling water and in my sink I have...

A bowl that is directly under a slight stream of cold water that is continuously running...don't tell me not to waste water.  It kept the water cool so I could handle my peaches, it was just a tiny stream and it was available for me to wash my hands whenever I needed to.  That's my paring knife waiting to chop peaches and i was just tossing the skins in the sink to be later dealt with.

Here are the instructions....
Peach Butter

-Cut an X in the bottom of each peach. 
-Toss in pot of boiling water for 30 seconds.
-Take from boiling water and plunge in cold water for a minute or so.
-The peach skins can be pulled right off.
-Slice the peaches, remove the pit and toss in a pot
-Add 1/2 C. water.  Simmer until soft.
-Using an immersion blender, puree until smooth (Ball says not to liquefy...but I'm pretty sure mine were mostly liquefied by the time I was done).
-Add sugar.  And the juice from 2 lemons.
-Cook until thick enough to round up on a spoon (this is what Ball says again...and I don't know what round up on a spoon means.  According to Smitten Kitchen you should be able to put some peach butter on your spoon and it won't slide off for 2 minutes...or if you drizzle a ribbon back into the pot, it won't immediately get mixed in, it'll be visible for a bit).
-Put your canning jars in a 200 F oven (make sure to put them on a cookie sheet, so they don't tip over and are easier to remove...and when you remove each jar, use a set of tongs or something.  200 F is still hot!)
-In the bottom of each jar, put 1 tsp lemon juice.  This is a "just in case" move.  Ball doesn't say to do it, but I want my canned products to be as safe as possible and felt a little added acid was a good thing.
-Ladle in Peach butter, leaving 1/2" space at top, top with lids and then process for the appropriate amount of time.

Yes that's the raspberry jam I made the day prior.  It has been a canning kind of week.

Get canning, it's a trip back in time and worth it.  I promise.

Monday, September 12, 2011

A Ghastly surprise!

My final big fabric purchase of 2011...and boy was it a doozy.  The Ghastlies by Alexander Henry was my final purchase since the great purse tightening and I am so happy I bought it.  I coveted this fabric line last year...and yet did nothing!  So, when it was released again this year I hopped on that ghastly train as soon as I could.

Here is what I bought of the awesome Addam's Family-esque fabric.  And you'll have to tell me what you think of the color-way.  LOVE IT personally. 

The lady in the lower right-hand corner...she is mean.  I would not mess with her...just look at her eyes...she's had a little too much crazy for breakfast.  I love the Mama witch hovering over her son.  You just know he's a mama's boy.

And this nice gent...don't get me wrong but...he kind of looks like my...Dad.  I love that he's walking an invisible dog too!

Family supper.  I love it.  It' just like when my family gets together...except for the spooky servants and the bell.  But...OH...how I wish I had a bell to summon my heart's desires.  I also love the cat lounging at the foot of the table.

If you look closely, pardon the wrinkles of course.  But there are the Weird Sisters in the middle.  The furthest one on the right is looking at you...looking at her...looking at you.  So suspicious.  Don't you wonder what they are up to?

And here is the family enjoying their evening after the tasty supper.  The knitters in the corner kill me.  They are so suspicious...and what are they knitting anyway?  I figure it's something for their...pet. 
And all the rest.  This is the rest of the fabric line, plus the solids that I have chosen to go with my project.  What do you think of the color scheme...MAUVE!!   I mean, I haven't been this into mauve since my next door neighbor decorated her house using a tasteful combo of forest green and mauve.  SEXY!  I so wanted my house to be forest green and mauve.  But, now I get a little taste of the mauve love....in my Halloween decor.  It's perfect if you ask me.  It's kind of a corpse color-way.

Next the problem was...what am I doing to do with all this fabulous fabric?  My sister says it looks Roald Dahl.  I agree.  What's the book about the really gross people and there's a picture of the man's beard and he's got all kinds of nastiness in there.  Gross! 

Anyway, I have all kinds of ideas and pictures for all kinds of quilts...but the problem with this fabric is the pictures are so large, and I love them, so I want to showcase the fabric as well as patchwork.  Mr. Because I Can tells me ever since my Wizard of Oz quilt that I have developed a love for panels...I told him, this doesn't count as a panel.  A panel is yucky and runs across the entire width of the fabric.  This is just cute design.  It's different...clearly.  So I have decided to cut large 15 x 15 blocks for the fun scenes and then do a string-quilt block that's 15 x 15 and have these blocks run 3 across and 3 down in an alternating fashion.

Here's the beginnings...

You might wonder what wild quilt pattern is that?

It's because I forgot to mention I am paper piecing the string quilt.  I love paper piecing.  There really is something satisfying about ripping off the back paper.  It's totally fun...unless you mess up and don't rip cleanly and then it just leaves a giant chunk of paper that's a pain to get off.  So rip cleanly!  Oh, and rip from the outer edges in.  So once you make it to the middle, start at the other end and work in to the middle a second time.  Much easier!


Here is the final outcome.

Hope you like it.  Stay tuned for more Ghastly updates!

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