Saturday, May 26, 2012

Rose Syrup


Every year around this time, our house smells like Heaven. Wanna know why? It's because I'm making my grandmother's wonderful rose syrup. I remember going to her house and eating spoonfuls of pink sugary, rose petals. I felt like it was magic. Like it gave me super powers. It was the most amazing thing...I was eating a rose.  I knew it was something I wanted to pass down to my kids. I asked my grandmother for the recipe, & without hesitation it was given. Today, I've decided to share our little bit of magic with all of you.  You'll get to enjoy the most beautiful, fragrant, & delicious syrup that you shall ever try!
For this recipe..... you will need:
-hand washed edible rose petals......(the more the better, but make it one variety). Either pick in the morning right after the dew or late afternoon. Midday will cause for saggy, droopy, & dehydrated rose petals. We have a great edible tea rose growing right in our backyard, (thanks mom!), called Hansa, which has an old fashioned rose & clove fragrance. Make sure each petal is clean. (This is the most tedious part but soo worth it.) And remember...if you used pesticides, it's not edible!
-a wooden spoon with holes so you can drain the petals as you remove them from your liquid
-purified water
-alot of sugar
-a white interior enamel pot. DO NOT use any stainless steal for ANY part of this recipe. (not even a silver spoon.) The metal will cause the liquid to turn a green color. Yuck! I've been searching the Internet and only came across a 'Denmark' brand on Amazon.com that closely resembles my cookware from Europe. (Thanks Grandma!)
-paper towels
-a ceramic or porcelain dinner dish. You will need these with paper towels on them to absorb the liquid from the drained rose petals.



Look at these beautiful petals!
 

Now... when making syrups, I've learned that EVERYTHING is based on ratio. For my recipe, I had over 16 cups of rose petals. This means, I only needed 8 cups of water for my recipe. So....lets say you have 12 cups of petals. You will only need half, or 6 cups of water. Now..... place your water in your enamel pot and almost bring it to a boil. Ya know, ......when it starts to get the little bubbles. After that, quickly put your petals in and quickly flip them with your wooden spoon. Then use your spoon to remove them from your water onto the ceramic plates lined with paper towels. You should have pink water and your petals should be a lighter pink. This whole process, literally, should last less than a minute. So.... as soon as you poured your petals in, you should give them a spin & start taking them out. Got it? Inevitably you're going to lose some liquid because of the roses absorbing water. Your ceramic plates could be holding some 'juice' so....just drop it back in. I added 10 cups of sugar to my pink liquid and boiled it on a low to medium flame for about an hour and a half. During the last 10 minutes, add your beautiful petals back in. The greatest thing is that I tweaked the recipe just a little bit. In some jars, I placed fresh sprigs of mint and lavender. How great is that? Originally, we place lemon slices at the bottom of the jar to prevent sugaring. That's it! Could you believe it?

I took this picture VERY quickly. The roses let color out immediately.


After your syrup is all cooked, you can then use a silver ladle to fill your jars.
I promise, it won't turn green:)
Here's a couple things you need to know prior to making rose syrup:
1. The petals will shrink......ALOT!
2. Because our plants only produce so many roses a day, you can refrigerate the picked ones for up to a week, ( so you can collect more)
3. Don't replace the plates and paper towels for a strainer unless it is plastic or wooden. Remember, no silver!
4. You can wait till your syrup cools off to place it in the jar, or you can do it right away. I prefer while it's hot because it will cool in the jar to a seal, & you can hear that 'pop'.
5. Have fun! Even if you end up with only one jar......your still eating petals:)



This is extremely rich & tasty. Enjoy it mixed with your teas, or placed on your crepes, & pancakes.
Happy Trails to all things sweet!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A Summer Dress



So the other day, I nearly had a break down in my craft room. For the life of me, I couldn't figure out why my favorite sewing machine was jamming up. The motor was rough & it stitched extreeeeemmmmlyyyy slooooowww. I tried everything.....I re-threaded, tried a different bobbin, re-threaded again, tried different material, played with the feed....I even searched for my machine guide, which was a quest in itself in our overwhelmingly packed craft room. And then finally, my do-it yourself skills kicked in because this had become a mission..... I took a screwdriver and began 'undoing' my machine. You'll never believe what I found. Thread fibers from years of sewing were sitting inside, basically creating what my girls called a 'fluffy mouse.' It's all cleaned out now & hip hip hooray, because it's working better than ever. My quest was driven by a wonderful pattern that I couldn't resist. A big THANKS to  Molly's Sketchbook Triangle Dress at the Purlbee website for posting a great summer project. Molly shows in detail how simple it is to make this dress with great instructions & pictures. I just had to share how ours came out.




It's perfect for the pool or beach. I love it the most because my 8 year old can wear it too....
(as a top).
You can literally reconfigure size by focusing on how many inches you leave for under the arms. And at less than an hour of work time, you just can't beat it!



To fun sewing & clean machines!
  

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Growing

Nature is an amazing thing. Everything we know has evolved from it. And in the 'computer age' of times, I feel like my children are so lucky to see it up close.  Everyday, the girls walk by the nest of baby birds & say hello. It's a wonderful thing to share & wanted to post how just after 1 week these little ones have grown:)


Thursday, May 17, 2012

A New Project


 

Recently, I scored a deal on a wonderful, vintage, fabric that was literally a steal. (And by recently, I mean 2 months ago.) For a great price, I got 12 yards of this iridescent, lightweight, cotton fabric. Yellow flowers dance along with a green, soft flowing design. It's just beautiful. After being laundered, it sat, and sat, and sat, folded up on my craft table. It wasn't until I made that gray dress in the previous post that I thought it might be time to give another one a try, & maybe with more perfected skills? So....I have a couple patterns I'm playing around with & just thought I might share them with all of you. I'm voting towards the one in the middle but only because of the gathered bottom. The material is soo lightweight, it really would make the perfect retro style daydress. And, I had to show all of you the cutest pair of boots:)







Is this not the cutest salt & pepper shaker? I picked this up at my local garden center. They're held together by a little magnet. And...as you can see they're pretty small. To cute not to share.

Happy Trails till next time:)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day


Happy Mother's Day:)
And....Look who arrived right on time!
Hope everyone enjoys the day with the little ones that make our lives
so remarkable:)


Friday, May 11, 2012

Enjoying Spring Lettuce

Remember our little salad seedlings.......



Can't believe it's already time, but thanks to my 'window' covering, we're enjoying spring
lettuce, straight from the garden. Every year I mark the day we've picked our first salad, tomato, & peppers.  It's kinda been my way of keeping note with the weather changes in Ohio.  Sooo...when someone says, "this weather's horrible. I won't have any veggies ripe." I'm usually the person that says, "No...actually we're right on time."  One year, I recall a certain somebody saying the tomatoes were late, when actually they were earlier than the year before. Anyway, today's treat was delicious. We enjoy it in the simplest form. Just a dash of salt, olive oil, & vinegar. This beautiful salad that has a green center & red tipped leaves is called Yugoslavian Red from The Cooks Garden. This salad goes good with sweets so you can easily pair it with raisins & blueberries with a honey based dressing. 
(I'll have to share that recipe some other time.)
Until then, to enjoying the fruits of our labor:) 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

An Old Dress, A New Dress




One of the best things a self taught seamstress could do is try to replicate a work of art. It's a great learning experience & you gain an extreme respect for pattern & dress makers. For those who don't know me, I'm in awe with all things from the 50's, retro, & vintage. Not only were they simpler times, the style was amazing. Women wore beautiful dresses that were made with such quality and care.  It was all about the details. The layering, the form, pleats, tucks, & pins..... I love it all! So...as if I didn't have anything else to do....I thought I'd give one a try. I have a couple beautiful vintage finds in my closet, but only two that I feel are true treasures, (and that's were my inspiration came from). One, I got when I was just a youngin' & the other about a year ago on Ebay. (It's one of my super finds.) Why did I want to replicate this, you ask?  Well for starters, the beautiful peachy dress is wayyyyyy too small. Second, I'm always up for a little challenge. Third, I just wanted to & felt it was time.  So.... off I went to my stash o' oldies & found the perfect pattern to help along with this project.




Sewing is not the difficult part. It's paying attention to all the tedious details vintage patterns require. I start off by ironing out all the pattern pieces, counting, & making sure everything is there that I need. (Vintage patterns are notorious for missing pieces.) After, I know you should probably make a muslin, but I didn't.  I figured the skirt is wide and the top could be fitted prior to sewing. I picked a gorgeous vintage, lightweight suiting fabric that was an all over gray with light pink stripes. The lining was a simple blackish navy that added coverage and weight for the dress. Lining is great. It makes your item practically flawless & clean. The actual pattern was not lined throughout. It only consisted of a two inch border that lined the inside of the neck, & arm areas. But instead, I just made a second dress and fitted it on the inside. I should let you know something. I never follow a pattern all the way through. I have a horrible habit of 'eliminating' a "do this" and "do that." I read the patterns & often find myself saying, 'well that's just dumb....I'm gonna do it this way.' Sometimes, I'm wrong, but with this dress, I think I made out pretty good. So here it is. Take a look!






Gotta admit....that smile screams "I'm proud" :)

And take a look at the back:)





I added ribbon & a button.....These were needed!



I just love the cut, the fit, & everything.


So overall... What did I learn? I learned that my fabric choice was not sooo 'lightweight'. This dress has a pretty descent, 'heavy' weight. I learned DO NOT eliminate  a 'do this' or a 'do that'. (You really do need these steps as my 'elimination' caused ribbon ties for straps. I also learned that gathering is a real pain depending on fabric choice. And last... I learned that I can make an amazing dress! No matter what things I should've done, one things for sure. I ended up with a beautiful addition to my closet... And I'm wearing it at the next tea party my girls invite me to! I still have to adjust the length, but thought I'd post it as soon as I got done. Happy Trails to sewing & doing the unthinkable:)

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookies



Now... I usually am not one to fall for those "World's Best" recipe stuff. But....this one caught me off guard and I have to share. These literally are the world's best chocolate chip cookies.
They are not your typical thin, crispy on the outside, homemade ones. They are soft, chewy, full & delicious. So here we go!

Cream 1/2 of a cup of butter, 1/2 a cup of margarine, 1 cup of brown sugar, and 1 cup of white sugar until it's super smooth.
Beat in 2 eggs, one at a time.
Put the mixer speed on low and add 1 Tablespoon of vanilla extract.
Then, get 1 Tablespoon of hot water and dissolve a teaspoon of baking soda.
Add that to your batter along with a pinch of salt.
Add 3 and 1/2 cups of flour with about a cup of m&m's or chocolate chips.
Indulge in these cookies after cooking them at 350 for 10-13 minutes. Don't cook them longer, and take them out as soon as the time is up. (Even if they don't look done, they are.) Let them
 cool off just for a little bit:)

Hope you enjoy as these don't last more than a day at our house!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A Little World for Little People



It's May! This is the month for saying goodbye to frost, planting outdoors, & getting our patios & porches ready. It's time to take trips to your local greenhouse for plants & all sorts of goodies. So today, I give you a look into two fairy gardens my girls & I whipped together on a warm day. There's more to come as we'll have a few of these in places around our home.
We still have fences, chairs, & huts to use.


This particular one is a nice size for a table centerpiece outdoors. We used moss, grass, rocks, & forget me nots from our yard.


Our local greenhouse is booming with color. I just had to share how beautiful everything looked! There are so many choices when creating these little worlds.










And this is what we came home with:) A little bit of everything!

I used an old wine box for the base.








This is a great spring time project. By mid-summer, they will be overflowing:)
Don't forget to use fabric scraps for a flag, wooden bobbins, & marbles for magic. All kids can have a blast creating these little worlds:)
Happy Trails to fairy gardens!