Friday, August 29, 2008

Pickle update.

It's been a week. The pickles have been waiting patiently on the counter, just waiting for us to dive in. So, today, we did. And, they are fantastic! Considering 10 more pounds of cucumbers I harvested this afternoon, it looks like another batch will follow this weekend. Maybe some blueberry jam as well if I'm able to procure some good berries!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Pickles

We have been enjoying a plethora of produce from our little backyard garden - who knew these crazy things would get SO big when we started them from seed last spring? We nurtured the seeds on the kitchen table, in the feeble springtime light for weeks and weeks - finally transplanting them to a couple of bare spots in our play area. They were tiny forever. Then, it got hot. And they grew. And grew. And grew. And now, in late August, they have completely taken over that space! Check it out -Cucumbers are in the foreground, with a cherry tomato plant in the background. Below, you can see a better view of the tomatoes - they are so big they have actually moved in on the third swing, causing much dismay to the 8 and under crowd.What to do? The whole project got started, actually, as a way to get the kids to eat more vegetables. As in, you plant it, you eat it. Lauren voted for carrots (those didn't work out, which she still is happy about), Reed asked for tomatoes, and Grace said we should plant pickles. What we didn't count on, however, was the sheer volume of cucumbers we would get from that one plant. Here you can see one evening's harvest, along with the counter top full of cucumbers!
The obvious solution, of course, is pickles. I have actually really wanted to try my hand at canning for a few years now, so this gave me the perfect excuse to finally buy a canner. I followed a recipe for dill pickles found in the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. It was pretty simple, yes a bit stinky, but that was gone within an hour of opening some windows. Kirk actually claimed he liked the smell!

So, the process. First you sterilize your jars, lids, and rims... here they are drying...Then, there was a lot of cutting to do while the water came to a rolling boil in the canner.I got the brine going in a pot next to the canner - this is the stinky stuff! Water, apple cider vinegar, and pickling salt - this too has to boil. And once finished cutting I filled my jars leaving 1/2" headspace...I added the brine as well as dill and mustard seeds to the jars, wiped the rims, put on the lids and bands, and then processed in the canner for 10 minutes. I honestly have no idea if my method was correct (like, how much water do you actually need in the canner? ) Probably some important details got missed. Oh well. We actually won't know for another week or so, as the jars (which did seal, I might add) are currently fermenting. In the meantime, this is what they look like, next to another little bit of handmade goodness. This was one of the towels my great-grandmother made for me, for my wedding. I'm sure she made many a pickle in her day.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Work in progress


Yesterday I worked my tail off getting the room painted. It is a really, really lovely blue that turned out so much better than I ever anticipated! It's brighter than pictured...so hard to get true colors photographed properly. In any case, it's all done! I'll continue to update with a few more photos - the beds come next week, and I still have a rainbow decal to hang on the wall.
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Friday, August 15, 2008

changes, they are a-comin'

Remember a week or two ago, when I hinted at big changes for the little girls in our lives? Well, I wasn't kidding. At ages four (well, she'll be four tomorrow) and six, they love to play together. Sure, they fight, but the lines are constantly blurring about whose toys are whose, which clothes belong to which girl, etc.

So, sneaky mom that I am, I have been planting hints this summer about how fun it would be for them to share a room. They could have bunkbeds! And they could choose the paint color! And wouldn't it be so fun! Because then, hint hint, Grace's old room would become THE ART STUDIO. Seriously, both girls ooohhhed and aaahhhed over that prospect. They are never two steps away from paper, markers, and scissors, so the idea of us girls sharing a whole room devoted to crafting was very, very appealing. And, I have been antsy to graduate from my closet work space (that would be my ulterior motive, of course).

I almost thought it would never happen.

And then, it did.

Lauren (whose room has now become The Girls Room) suddenly had a lightbulb moment and she fully understood how cool it would be to have THE ART STUDIO. And she just changed her mind, like that. She started begging me to make the changes, to get the ball rolling.

And so, I did. First we moved Grace's top mattress, then after a few days we moved the rest of her bed. Followed by clothes, her bookcase, etc. Little steps, considering I did not want to haul an entire room-full of clothes and toys and books only to find out our experiment had gone south!

The plan is working. They are doing fantastic with the set-up, and last weekend we made the leap and bought bunkbeds. They are learning the art of compromise and are frankly demonstrating more sisterly love than they ever have. Shared space, shared experience, shared lives.

Oh, and the picture above? That shows the new paint color, which little hands helped paint this morning. Their plan is to have walls that are the sky, and white clouds, and a big rainbow. Just perfect for two sweet little girls.
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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Oooh, it makes me so mad!

Don't you just hate being patronized?

Standing in the plumbing section at Lowes...
A three (almost four) year old doing naughty things in the shopping cart...
Trying to guage whether I need to purchase soldering wire for more silverware...

And then, a big sweaty guy walks up.
Laughing.
Do you even know what you need? he smirks.

Grrr...

Yes, I know just what I need (walking away).

I'm still fuming as we pull out of the lot.
It was the tone (and the laughter) even more than the question.

I am an artist, I need this for my work. Period.
(This is what I figure I should have said).
Or, how about, hey buddy, walk your sweaty self into a fabric store and we'll see who's lost then!

Thank you for allowing me to vent.
All is well now and I'm moving on (but saving the comeback - the artist one - just in case I need it someday - and filing it in the back of my brain).
Trouble is, the filing room in my brain? I think the door is locked, and the key only becomes available after such incidents occur.

Monday, August 11, 2008

An exciting development


So where are all of these pieces of silverware headed, you ask? Well, I am excited to say I was asked to sell my silverware in a very cool, funky gallery here in Omaha - The Blue Pomegranate. I have been working all summer to amass enough stock to sell - up until now, I've typically done things on an order-by-order basis. Although I had a listing for custom silverware in my Etsy shop, I decided to pull it out because it didn't quite jive with the rest of the feel of the shop. To have lots of sewing, some knitting, and then silverware? It didn't seem to fit. (I may offer it again towards the holidays, who knows...) Anyway, this has been a super-fun project and I look forward to making more! My eyes are always on the lookout for new gemstones, as well as perfect (and inexpensive) silverware.

Half of the order, ready to go. Some things are multicolored, and a few were themed - red/green for Christmas, red/white/blue, even a few red/white combos for those Husker fans!

And, Christmas ornaments! Little dip spoons and relish forks - why are little things always cute?
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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The stack.


Just look at all of the crafty goodness that came in the mail yesterday....I can't wait to dig in a start playing around!
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Monday, August 4, 2008

Our little monkey


Yep, that's right, our little monkey fell off the monkey bars and broke her arm. It all happened in mid-July, actually, but I guess I'm only reporting it now because I finally got a picture of her rockin' hot pink cast! The upside? The cast is waterproof. That's right, it can go in the shower, the tub, the pool, and it merely drains and eventually dries out. Some kind of special padding underneath the fiberglass, I guess. Still, that part is awesome. This would have been a HUGE pain (no pun intended) if we had not been able to go to the pool for the last month of summer vacation! But really, it's only been a blip on the radar for the most part. I think Lauren has been enjoying the attention from family and friends, but gets a little freaked out when strangers ask her "what happened to you?" Actually, that freaks me out a little too. And I can't tell you how many people we have met who apparently did the same thing (even on the monkey bars) when they were six.

Oh, and another little newsy bit around the house. Two girls. One bedroom. Shared space. Oh yes, it's happening. More to come!
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