August 20, 2014

Project Life 2014.....Week 20

Today I'm sharing Week 20 of my Project Life 2014.  I'm behind in sharing and way behind on my weeks but that's okay.  The kids are back in school and I plan to whittle away at those photos day by day.  Still loving the process, still loving looking back at these albums.  

So here's the full, 2 page spread.  I kept it very simple this week and continue to do so to catch up a little. 
 These pages use the August kits from Gossamer Blue.
 My mom had a knee replacement to start the Summer off so it was a busy 6-8 weeks getting her on her feet again.  I finished my quilt top too.  Now I just need to finish the binding.  All those pretty plants are drying up now.  Funny how time passes so quickly.
 Love these little sticky notes to pieces.  I typed, stapled, stamped, stitched and stickered all over this one.
 Signs of Spring and Summer....new baby kittens and my first Iris.
 Embracing every new "today".
Hope you're still trucking along with your Project Life.  Feel free to share your progress in the comments section.

August 19, 2014

Introducing Tray Tuesday...when 2 kits collide

Hey there, today I'm introducing a new little series here on the blog that should be fun.  It's called Tray Tuesday and it's all about what's on my tray.  I've developed quite a fondness for vintage trays of all kinds.  Whether they're metal with decals, wood, silver, hammered aluminum, tv trays, etc.....I love 'em.  I always spy them when I'm out thrifting and it seems they like to come home with me.  

So what is Tray Tuesday?  If I've got something in the works and it's on a tray, I'll post it on a Tuesday.   Simple as that.  It might be a paper project or it could be a batch of fresh strawberry jam right out of the cooker....or a batch of freshly baked cookies....garden fresh goodies.....a stack of stationery with pens and stamps that I'm getting ready to mail out.....it should be fun to see what ends up on a tray.  

If you follow me on Instagram, I'll be using the hashtag #traytuesday if you want to join in and post any photos.  I'd love to see what's on your tray.  
 Today I have two pretty trays with two kits from the upcoming September Gossamer Blue release.  I'll be doing a series of posts in September showing how these two kits collide to create some pretty paper projects.
 You'll be to see how easily the Gossamer Blue kits coordinate with each other in a beautiful mixy matchy way.
Hope you'll join me for Tray Tuesday....and be looking for more posts soon.  The girls will be back in school soon and I've got lots to share.

August 13, 2014

Sweet & Sour Pickled Peppers and Onions

Back to share my favorite new canning recipe that I discovered this Summer.  May I introduce to you Sweet & Sour Pickled Peppers and Onions.  This makes a beautiful canned presentation and it's so delicious too.  I'll definitely be making this every year now come garden season. 
If there's a few things I can grow well in my garden it's peppers, onions and jalapenos.  The colored peppers....I still have to buy those as I haven't found good varieties for these yet.  The color is very important if you care about presentation and how pretty your jars look on the shelf.  
 This recipe comes from the Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest magazine called Canning (preserving + freezing + drying).  I found my copy at Walmart and just saw them on the shelves still today while grocery shopping.  I'll share my adapted recipe at the end of the post.
The recipe calls for red, green, yellow and/or orange sweet peppers.  I also threw in a few jalapenos and some pepperoncini peppers because they were plentiful in the garden.  The colorful mix is really the key to this recipe.
I followed the recipe almost exactly as called for otherwise.  I stuffed all the peppers and onions into the jars, leaving the appropriate head space.  
You can see how beautiful the jars look already.  I like to overstuff my jars a bit because when you add the hot liquid the peppers will shrink down a little.  Otherwise when the jars are cooled the veggies float to the top and there's a lot of liquid at the bottom of the jar with no veggies. 
Here's the jars filled with the vinegar liquid mixture.  I love seeing the seeds and peppercorns in this mix.  It looks so fancy.  You can see here that I put a few jalapeno slices on the tops of these jars.  
 Here's the jars straight out of the canning pot.  So bright and crisp looking.
 Alas, that color doesn't last but the jars are still beautiful and filled with colorful veggies.
I know we will go through these like crazy so I've already made a second batch. I'll see what comes from the garden yet and may make a third batch.  These would make great Christmas gifts or be perfect to take to tailgate parties, etc.  
For some recipe ideas, so far we've tried the pickled mixture on pulled pork with coleslaw and BBQ sauce. The veggies stayed crunchy and the vinegar gave a little zip to the sandwiches. 
 Simple hotdogs take on a whole new meaning now.  My husband gave this a two thumps up so it's definitely a keeper recipe.

Here's the recipe that you can copy and paste into a word document if you want to print:

Sweet & Sour Pickled Sweet Peppers and Onions

from Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Canning (preserving + freezing + drying) ...adapted by Michelle Wooderson

3 pounds red, green, yellow and/or orange sweet peppers, sliced into bite size strips ( I add jalapeno and pepperoncini too)
2 large onions, halved and thinly sliced (can add more if you like more onion)
4 cups sugar
4 cups water
3 cups white vinegar
2 cups cider vinegar
1 tablespoon celery seeds
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
4 cloves garlic, smashed
4 bay leaves
2 teaspoons Kosher salt

Combine pepper strips and onions in large bowl.  Set aside. In cooking pot combine all other ingredients.  Bring to boiling, stirring to dissolve sugar and salt.  Reduce heat to low.  Simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.  Discard garlic (I left mine in) and bay leaves.  Pack pepper-onion mixture into hot sterilized pint canning jars, leaving 1/2 inch head space. Pour hot vinegar mixture into jars, maintaining the 1/2 inch head space.  Discard any remaining vinegar mixture.  Wipe jar rims; adjust lids and screw bands.  Process filled jars in a boiling water canner for 10 minutes (start timing when water returns to boiling).  Remove jars from canner.  Cool on wire racks.  Wait for the "ping" sound of sealed jars. Rejoice.  Enjoy.  Makes 7 pints. 

Recipe ideas:  Use as topping for hotdogs, chili dogs, hamburgers, pulled pork sandwiches, sloppy joes, roast beef or salads.  Chop and add to meatloaf, hamburgers or potato salads.  



August 12, 2014

Greeting cards from Gossamer Blue August Kits

Today I'm sharing some fun cards I made using journaling cards and lots of little embellishments from the August Gossamer Blue kits.  
 I typed up some simple greetings onto a journaling card, trimmed them out and added pop dots to the backs.
 There were lots of little bits and pieces from the kits that were perfect for adding to card fronts.  These fun Grand Bazaar Die Cuts & Transparencies from Basic Grey are from the Life Pages Main Add-On Kit.
 I decided to create six cards so I lined up six various journaling cards (there are lots of patterns in one set) and started with some basic layering of little sticky notes and tags.  I always love when there's a set of post it notes in a kit....these are from Heidi Swapp and are in the Life Pages Add-On #3 Kit.  This is a great little kit, loved it this month.
 I built up the layers using clear embellishments, vellum pieces, brads and the resin pieces.  I set my sentiments where I wanted them too.
 Before adhering the sentiment pieces down I used some simple white thread to create a messy bundle, wadded it a bit and secured it in place with double sided tape.  For the pretty Basic Grey Resin Stickers, check out the Main Add-On Kit.  Gosh, this is a good kit too.  I love the 12 x 12 papers in this kit and plan to use them for scrapbooking some of Josey's senior photos.
 Now that I had all my journaling card pieces finished, I selected some papers from the August Bits & Pieces Kit.
 I took my card front pieces over to my sewing machine along with some yellow thread.
 I added stitching to the journaling card pieces to either secure pieces into place or to just add some decorative stitching. I always love how that adds such a homemade feel to a project.
 I secured all the pieces to my card fronts and in no time I had a happy little pile of cards.
 Here's the six cards all sitting pretty.
 I love how everything is layered on top of the simple journaling cards to begin with.
 So many fun pops of color and texture.
 Once you've used your Gossamer Blue for your main projects, I always make a little mini kit of sorts to create some cards.  Those leftover bits and pieces are perfect for creating cards.
 We all know it's fun to have cards waiting in a basket...instead of scurrying around to make a card at the last minute.
 By keeping the sentiments simple, you can create cards that can be used for any occasion.  Or you can get specific like I did with my thank you cards.
 Don't forget that cards make great gifts too. I like to give a card with a written note on a sticky note tucked inside the package.  That way that card can be reused also.  Oh, the colors just make me happy.
Okay card makers, I always get messages that you miss my cards and would like to see more.  Please chime in to let know what you think and what types of cards you'd like to see these days.  Thank you for stopping by!

August 6, 2014

Project Life 2014....Week 19

Today I'm back, sharing my Week 19 of my Project Life 2014.  This week's spread was made using the August Life Pages Kit from Gossamer Blue.  The kit is packed full of journaling cards, stamps, embellishments, an alphabet and fun new cork designs.  
Here's my 2 page spread for the week. 
 The left page.
 The right page.
 This is my 4 x 6, main insert which features the week #, stitching, the alphabet and cork pieces.  I punched a circle from one of the cork pieces and used the reverse side to stamp on my own sentiment from the Life Pages stamp set.
 This 4 x 6 insert features a Heidi Swap transparent embellishment, machine stitching, a journaling card designed by Traci Reed and some Notebook Paper Labels from my shop.  I ran them right through my typewriter for easy journaling.
 One of the things I've loved lately is staging my photos so that there are blank spaces for embellishments or journaling.  Here I photographed 2 of my favorite vintage platters then used my typewriter right on the photo....then I added sticker letters.  You could easily use a phone app like Phonto to add journaling right to the photo before you send it to be printed.
 On to the 3 x 4 journaling cards.  Love this notebook paper looking card.  I added typewriter journaling and a stamp from the Life Pages Kit.
 More 3 x 4 cards from the kit.  It's so easy to add a bit of journaling and a photo.  Instead of a full 12 x 12 that only has one photo and a bit of journaling, I've simply added it to a 3 x 4 slot in my weekly spread.  Easy enough.
 Here I've stitched on some sequins and adhered a cork piece above a photo.  You can easily staple or stitch through the cork if you want.
 More journaling cards to finish off my spread.  I love rummaging through my kit to find just the right journaling card.  Sometimes just a little pattern is all you need behind a photo.
I'll be sharing more weekly spreads made from the Gossamer Blue kits soon.  In the meantime I hope you've had a chance to check out our new Design Team.  There are so many new creative gals joining our team....the gallery is going to be rockin'.

Gossamer Blue is also now a manufacturer.  I'm super excited about this!  It means that now in addition to a great assembly of monthly kits, there will be full collections of papers, stamps and embellishments....all designed by our talented Gossamer Blue designers.  There are three new collections coming soon......Get Happy designed by Allison Pennington......On My Desk designed by Paislee Press........and Gramercy Road designed by One Little Bird.  Can't wait to create projects with these three new lines soon.

Have a great day everyone!

July 23, 2014

Summer canning...55 jars of homemade goodness

Summer around here means tending to the garden, pulling weeds, keeping everything watered and then waiting for everything to grow and ripen.  It's that time so I've been busy canning.  I wasn't quite sure I'd find a canning pot that would work with my induction top stove but I found this large size, stainless steel one at Walmart.  Works like a charm.  If you use an induction top stove, just make sure you see the induction compatible icon on the sticker.  Then you'll know you're good to go.

Good canning supplies and clean jars are a must.  I use only sterilized jars that are meant for canning.....no mayonnaise jars or cleaned up pickle jars.  Usually I stick with Ball or Kerr and Ball lids.  I like Certo Sure Jell for my liquid pectin but I tried the powdered version this Summer with good results too.
There's always a little pan of simmering water ready to warm up the lids.  This is key as it gets the rubber on the lids softened and makes for a perfect seal every time. First up was the fruits and Peach Jam.  My local grocery store had some nice, ripe fruit this year that was really sweet.
 This is a favorite and probably reminds me of Summer the most come Winter time. Nothing like it on homemade biscuits.
 My mom always freezer Strawberry Jam but I opted to can mine.
 My jars ended up a little foamy but there was just too much to scrape off.  Tastes just as good on some toast made from homemade bread.
These little jars of Blueberry Peach Preserves will be yummy warmed up and poured over a bowl of vanilla ice cream....or over homemade yogurt with granola.
I spent two full days in the kitchen canning.  Temperatures were very mild so I didn't mind heating up the kitchen for a while.  My kitchen usually looks like this during canning season.  The stove is a boiling, sticky or bubbly mess, the countertops are lined with clean towels and cooling jars.  There's fresh picked zucchini, cucumbers and the like laying around....and there's always that wonderful sound to any canner's ears....the pop, pop, pop of sealing jars. 
Next up I moved on to some sweet green peppers that I picked from the garden.  I purchased the colored varieties at the store. 
 This beautiful mixture is Picked Peppers & Onions with a garlicky/peppery brine.  I added in a few jalapeno slices for a little heat. I plan to dump these over a roast, use on hamburgers or maybe mix some into some salads.  Lots of possibilities here.
 Loved how these turned out straight from the canner.  So bright and fresh looking.
 As always, the heat always turns the veggies a little muted color but these are still so pretty.  I might even enter one of these in the fair this year....just to relive my 4-H days.
Next I picked a variety of hot peppers from the garden.
I was just about out of Candied Jalapenos.  My family loves these over cream cheese with crackers, some dips and in Chili with a cool dollop of sour cream. 
 These are more mild pepperoncini peppers. I sliced some and left some whole.  I'll use these over salads and will dump some over roasts in the slower cooker this Winter.
 That's my beautiful bounty so far.  55 jars of homemade goodness.
It feels so rewarding to grow your own garden goodies, preserve them in fun ways....and then reap the fruits of your labor come Fall and Winter.  All the sweat and hard work pays off.  I have lots of veggies still in the garden so most likely I'll be canning up more jars for Christmas gifts this year.  

Haven't tried canning?  Think it's too hard?  It's not.....just get the right supplies, use fresh ingredients, follow the instructions exactly and you'll be on your way.  Hope you give it a try and that we start a new canning revolution!
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