Thursday, June 28, 2012

For the Love of Blueberries

Indulging in blueberries. That's what we're doing. I passed a local farm yesterday & saw a sign that said, "You Pick Blueberries". I thought, "How wonderful...we gotta take the kids!"  A call to my sister went out & before I knew it, all eight of us were outside picking & enjoying the sunshine.

The best part: no pesticides & no fertilizers! We were able to eat them right away!

After 3.30 pounds of blueberries, some sweet corn & a candy sister went home to make her amazing blueberry syrup & I gave a shot at making blueberry jam. Take a look!

I used Pomona's Pectin.

Before you get started, mix 1/2 cup of water with your white calcium
powder. You can store it in a jar in the fridge for months. You need this to activate
 your pectin. (It comes in your pectin kit.)

Mash 4 cups of washed blueberries. Add 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice &
2 teaspoons of your calcium water.

Bring it to a boil.

Mix your sugar (1 & a 1/2 cups) with your pectin (2 teaspoons).
After your fruit mixture boils, add the sugar combination & stir very quickly.
Bring to a boil again for about 3 minutes & your done!

I can't believe this jam! It is so delicious that I'm using the remainder of my blueberries
to make more!
Things you should know:
1. You can substitute sugar for honey.
2. Clean all your jars & lids with boiling water. This includes the one that
will store your calcium mixture.
3. If your calcium discolors, you need to throw it out. It's no longer good.
4. Make sure all the stems are off.
& last
5. This jam would be great to fill some Thumbprints......just sayin'

Blueberries are yummy & healthy. From lowering cholesterol & blood pressure to supporting our immune systems, they are amazing. The delicious fruit is considered a top notch cancer fighter and is also known to improve our memory & help fight depression.  
Hip hip hooray for blueberries!

Hope you enjoy!
To Happy Blueberry Trails!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Wild Blackberry Syrup

Living in the country is pretty special. Pace is slower, days are longer, & we get the perks of wild berry bushes! These blackberries are much smaller than the agricultural crop we're used to seeing at super markets. But....they are soooo much more sweeter! Every year we pick these, (for the limited time that they're available), & I make my homemade syrup. You can spot them at farmers markets & sometimes, you can even find a place that allows you to pick them:)

3 cups washed wild blackberries
2 1/2  cups sugar
1 1/2 cups water

Combine your 3 ingredients & cook on a medium to low flame for about an hour. (For me, it came to about 50 minutes.) It's ready the moment your syrup starts to boil over and get this glossy bubble appearance like a gem:) Jar it immediately or after it cools down.  Regarding shelf life... well, it's best if used within 12 months, but I guarantee... you'll eat this up alot sooner:)

Your house will smell delicious! I advise you... wild blackberries are packed with more antioxidants than you can think of, so enjoy this on everything....wink, wink. From crepes, homemade bread, to ice cream ~ it's too great not to try.

Grilled peaches served with vanilla ice cream topped with our warm syrup
right off the stove ~ Yum!

Happy Trails!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A Light Salad

Hey veggie eaters! I got something sooo delicious you'll want to try. The heat is on & what better way to cool down than with a light & airy salad? You'll need: a couple tomatoes, an onion, a couple radishes, feta cheese, fresh basil, a lemon (optional), olive oil, & salt.
Start by slicing your tomatoes. Layer them first on your plate. Continue with sliced radishes on top. Next, add chopped onions, then feta cheese. Add finely chopped basil. You can lightly add the zest of a lemon on top to make it fresh. Salt & add olive oil as desired. We love this salad. It's one of those fast, yummy treats packed with color & taste.

And..... you get something even greater out of it. A great sandwich! It's perfect for lunch. Vegetarians can totally enjoy this flavorful treat by placing it in pita bread. All I did was cut one pita & fold the halves within each other. Ya know, to soak up all those great juices!

Let's see what we get out of it:)
-Tomatoes are packed with antioxidants, great for the heart & skin.
-Basil is great for reducing stress, diabetes, & asthma. It's linked to having antiviral & antimicrobial properties. Also, it has cancer fighting agents:)
-Radishes have vitamins. Magnesium, Vitamin B6, potassium, ascorbic acid, & folic acid.
-Feta cheese....well.....that's just yummy!
-Onions are in a field of their own. From curing the common cold to reducing inflammation, this veggie is marvelous. It's known to reduce head & neck cancers & fight osteoporosis & diabetes. I've even heard it reduces the swelling of a bee sting!

So now when you enjoy this scrumptious delight, you'll know your making your body that much healthier.
Hope you enjoy!
To light & tasty salads!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Lavender Scones

I continue my love o'lavender with our take on scones.

The Internet is packed with lavender scone recipes. (Obviously you know that.) Some recipes have oats while others have walnuts. Some require buttermilk while others milk. All I wanted to make was a 'plain lavender scone'. So....after becoming overwhelmed, I decided to take my own whirl at this. The ingredients are basic. I admit this is a sweet scone & could even pass for a great cookie recipe if they're rolled thinner.

2 cups of flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 stick of salted butter
1 egg
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
5 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. fresh lavender buds (I wouldn't use more or the flavor will become overpowering)

Combine all your ingredients. Roll the dough to 1/2 an inch or thicker. Cut your shapes & place them on a floured or non-stick baking pan. Bake at 400 for 12-15minutes. That's all!
These tasty & flavorful treats are a must. They pair great with Earl Grey or Chamomile tea.

Hope you enjoy!

Monday, June 18, 2012

For the Love of Lavender

I can't believe it's already time to harvest our lavender!

Lavender is one of the most pleasant smelling perennials in existence. From the mint family, this amazing plant is mostly used for essential oils or cooking. But...did you know that it has disinfecting abilities? Did you know that Lavender honey is considered a 'premium' product? Did you know that lavender repels insects? Or that it heals acne? It is soo great! And that is why we planted it in our yard years ago. Now, those of you that visit my Etsy shop know I also use our homegrown Lavender for drawer sachets. I'm proud to say that no fertilizers or pesticides are used in our garden EVER! And that is why, I can honestly dry them & place the buds in foods, sugar, and cotton sachets for our clothing drawers. It's because it's just natural & clean. So today I start my love o'lavender by sharing my drying techniques as well as making Lavender sugar:)

I tie my lavender in clumps smaller than the circle one of my hands can make.
If you place them in larger clumps, the center portion will not dry as fast as the surrounding. Use a soft thread or twine so that you do not snap the stems. If you tie them too tight, as they dry, they will break. Then, just hang them upside down.

I love to add the bouquets in the girls bedrooms.

And then in our nook.... Our kitchen becomes the master drying grounds. I use some string and tie it from one end of the nook to the other using the window hardware. I use clothing pins to secure the lavender to the string. The aroma is breathtaking. When I start to find buds decorating our floor, it's a sign that they're dry. I take a paper bag & place the bouquets inside. I give it a good shake until all the buds fall off. This is a great way to gather the most from your crop. You will be pleasantly surprised how many buds one lavender plant can create. the unused buds in the paper bag or a glass jar. Avoiding plastic is essential for prolonging bud life & scent.

And now........

~Lavender Sugar~

This sugar is wonderful in tea & as a replacement in your cookie recipes. There's a couple different ways people can make lavender sugar. We simply take a canning jar & fill it half way with the sweetness. Then, arrange the flowers throughout. I continue to add more sugar leaving about a centimeter from the top. This space allows me to mix & shake it for a couple days. After, I will remove my stems & keep my sugar. It's simple & smells wonderful.

To Happy Lavandula!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Parrot's Beak

I have something so great I want to share with all of you. It's my hanging basket! I am blown away by this delightful & divine perennial. My sister & I stumbled across this amazing plant at our local garden center about a month ago. We decided that each of us had to go home with one. As we carried our huge, over sized baskets to the checkout, a sales clerk asked if we had any questions regarding the plants. We turned to each other & shrugged our shoulders. Neither of us had a clue as to what they were in the first place. We just knew we wanted one in our yards. The women saw we had no idea & told us about this really neat flower. The name is Parrot's Beak Lotus & let me tell you, it is gorgeous! Packed with a silvery foliage, it survives as a perennial only in the warmer climates. ( in Ohio, I'm going to bring it indoors over the winter to see if it will survive.) Even though it's considered a ground cover, it makes a breathtaking hanging basket. They trail extremely well & if you want to promote those bright orangey, red flowers, all you have to do is trim the hanging parts off. I waited a couple weeks to post this because I wanted to see how the plant works. Or..shall I say....will it die after a week? I am glad to report this is an amazing plant that will always have a place at our home! It's alive & doing well. Since the three weeks have gone by, the flowers have tripled and no....I did not have to trim any ends like the lady at the garden center told me to. It has a home on our porch that gets great morning sunshine & shade the rest of the day. I'm also happy to report that my sister's plant is doing great as well. She has hers in a mostly sunny location all day, up until late afternoon. The only thing I would like to pass along is these need to be watered consistently. I was blown away by how 'thirsty' this plant gets. A plus is that you also will get to enjoy all those hummingbirds as they just love the bright flowers & no dead-heading is necessary! How great is that?

To Happy Hanging Baskets:)

Monday, June 11, 2012

Who's got Hot Pants?

Hey readers! Remember those New Year's resolutions I had? Well, it turns out I've finally made those hot pants. Today, I share with you my colorful, new shorts & the interesting way I came to create them.

I started off by meddling through layers of fabric until I found the perfect, lightweight cotton print. Originally, I was going to do a plaid, but who wants that? I could've just taken a pair of men's boxers & worn them. Right? So I opted to go for an unusual print. It had to be something fun & colorful that I couldn't find at a clothing store. Take a look at my choice:

"Jomo Dot" The Alexander Henry Fabrics Collection

Now, I know the next steps sound a little off kilt, but overall this is what I did.
I mentally cut my body in half - from the front and from the side.
I measured from below my belly button to the outside of my hip.
Next, I measured from in between my legs, where the shorts would fall, to the outside of
my thigh.
Then, I measured how long I wanted the shorts to be & how high I wanted them to sit at my waist. 
I added 2 inches to all those measurements which included seam allowance throughout.
I drew out my front side pattern on tissue paper. (cut 2)
For my behind, I added a deeper arch, (for the bum), and added 4 inches for space & a loose fit.
I drew out my back side pattern on tissue paper. (cut 2)

Usually, I go straight for the fabric, but I really wanted flawless shorts. And the only way I was going to get them was to make a 'false' pair using scrap fabric.
And I'm so happy I did, because I got to try them on, see how they feel and tweak my measurements.
I took them apart from the center so that at my hips I had no side seams on my end product.
I traced it onto tissue paper again & that is what I used for my pattern.

I drew this out on paper to show you what my pattern looked like.

(The fold would be your side.)

I cut my fabric, serged & straight stitched the tops & bottoms of each piece prior to connecting them.

The picture below shows you how different of an arch your front & back will have.
That is why I could not create a pattern where the material was cut 'on the fold'.


I stitched the front & backsides together from the waist to in between the legs.
Then, I 'opened' my shorts.....

Next, I serged & stitched in between my legs like the picture below.

The top portion was folded over to create the waistband, keeping pins
in place to remind me where to stop stitching so the elastic could go in.

I made this thick fold inward to be able to fold them out having the same fabric side showing.
Lace was added too:)

The completed shorts!

So comfy!

I love these shorts! Are they really hot pants? Nahhhh... not really. I would say that they're more like house or pajama shorts. The lace adds a delicate detail making it feminine & fun. If you're planning on taking a try at creating your own pair, here's a few things to remember:
1. You will always have a deeper arch by your bum, for your bum.
2. How short do you wants your 'shorts' to be?
3. Do you want hip huggers or belly bands? ...... belly bands it is!
4. Don't forget seam allowance!
5. Make a false pair first. It's better to do a project twice to get a good
result in the end. 
& last...
6. Elastic is a women's best friend:)

To sportin' shorts till next time:)
My legs shall be enjoying the sunshine!