Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Apple Pie Filling

It is amazing how satisfying it is to work at one task all day long and see such a pretty result of all that work.  On Monday was the women's ministries event for which I used apples as centrepieces, and once I got all the apples back home afterward, I started to panic a little!  What was I going to do with all these apples.

But today, my friend Jenn came to my rescue.  She brought her canning equipment and her kids, and we canned apple pie filling.  It was great to be able to work together with someone on a task that would be horribly tedious if I did it myself.  Not to mention all the mistakes I would have made.

The kids kept each other occupied and happy for the most part.  Even the two littlest ones were so good--content to crawl around or practice their walking while sneaking crab apples from the box.

Today we canned 21 quarts of apple pie filling (and one half-pint of apple syrup).  Tomorrow I'll make applesauce, and next week we'll tackle the crab apples.  I can't wait to have spiced crab apple preserves just like my mom used to make!

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Use Angles to Your Advantage

A while ago, someone posted about starting from a blank slate when rearranging and redecorating, by removing everything from the room.  Yesterday my living room was bothering me, because of toys and crumbs everywhere, and the kids had pushed the furniture slightly out of alignment (I need some non-slip furniture feet).  So I decided to triple my cleaning workload and remove everything from the room.  Well, almost everything.  I chose not to move the bookshelf this time, since it takes forever to unload and then replace the books.  I crammed everything into the kitchen (a mere two hours before I needed to begin cooking supper).

It is amazingly refreshing to start with an empty room!  Most of the time when I rearrange, the furniture is not placed against the walls.  That may be because we only have one (half)wall in the whole room.  The others are interrupted by windows, doors, walkways, and fireplaces.  Also, there is no proper focal point in the room, so I feel free to experiment.  I've never tried this particular arrangement before.  I wanted to mostly block Nico's access to the lamp, and also discourage his meddling with the bookshelf. 

The bookshelf is behind the loveseat at an angle in a weird corner.  Our laptop desk is against the only wall, and just about everything else is angled in the room.  I think the key to having angled furniture look like a real room rather than randomly-placed furniture is to place the main pieces at right angles to each other, regardless of where the walls are, and to have a properly-sized rug to anchor everything.

You also get a sneak peek at my new curtains that I'm making.  I have two of the four panels kind-of done.  But I will be adding a solid-colour band of fabric along the bottom because the store didn't quite have the amount of fabric I needed.  So pardon the too-short curtains, and the wonky curtain rod for now.

My last batch is mint is long gone, and I haven't cut the last crop yet (I'm not sure if I will or not...I have lots already.)  But I found a use for the string I stapled up: It's the perfect place to dry Juliana's fingerpainting.  I should have thought of this for her birthday party, rather than having every available flat surface covered with drying masterpieces.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Why I Haven't Been Sewing

I've seen a few "I need to organise my craft space" posts lately.  But none are as bad as mine.  I was in the process of cleaning and organising this space when I decided we needed to use the long table outside for this summer's birthday parties.  Then before it was moved back inside, we decided to move the computer from the left side to the right side, so that my long table would actually fit (I was using a small computer desk before, but needed more surface area.)  Then, Kevin decided to build a wall (Which I didn't take a picture of).  The wall creates a rec room on the side closest to the stairs.  It will be insulated for sound so we don't have to turn up the TV every time the furnace kicks in. 

But now I need to deal with this mess.  By the end of the month, so that Kevin doesn't have to do his CMA studying among my junk.

Since I subjected you to that horrifying mess, here are some sweet pictures to clear your mind.  This yellow skirt is the first thing I sewed this year, using the tutorial I mentioned in April.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Mini Book Reviews (well, more opinion than review)

Currently Reading:

Leap of Faith, by Queen Noor
- I just started this one, but it's intriguing so far.

Emma, by Jane Austen
- I've seen the movie and read the book before, but this time around, I really didn't like the character of Emma for most of the book!  I think she's too much like me...jack of all trades, and master of none.  Aka, lazy and easily distracted.  She was snooty and not a very nice person.  But ever since she genuinely repented of being awful to Miss Bates and Jane Fairfax, I'm starting to like her.

Robinson Crusoe, by Daniel Defoe
- Yes, this is also a classic, but I'm going to critisize it too.  I like the style of writing up until Crusoe is shipwrecked.  Oh, my, what repitition and redundancy.  I skipped most of the journal entries.  I don't need to hear about how he built his house three times in succession.  I'm hoping it will improve once he runs out of ink.  Overall, I like it. 

Recently Read:

The Swiss Family Robinson, by Johann Wyss
- I love this book.  I've read it close to ten times, I'm sure.  It would never be published by today's standards, without a good half it cut out, but I love it just as it is.  I have two copies of the book, and one of them is a children's library edition from the 50s, which cut out a lot, and even changed some important details.  But it was fun to read anyway.

The Forgotton Garden, by Kate Morton
- I don't usually read many current bestsellers.  Mostly because I'm a bit out of the loop, but also because I don't buy books often, and bestsellers are usually not in stock at the library.  But his book is really good!  The cross-generational story is excellently told and the book was hard to put down.  I got it to read on vacation, for golfing days (I don't golf).  I only have two complaints about the book.  The first is that the ending seemed rushed.  But that could have been just because I stopped reading with only a chapter left, then when I picked it up again, it seemed to end too quickly.  Second, two little things were never resolved:  Cassandra's dream about Eliza, and her convition that she had seen or held the cottage key before.  Developing that little possibly-supernatural plotline would have given even more depth to the story, and turned a book that is very very good into one that is my opinion.

The Adventures of Kathlyn, by Harold MacGrath
- This book was published in the early 1900s, and is full of rather predjudiced language regarding non-whites.  So I cannot recommend it.  But as a specimin of its time, I thought it was a very well-written and interesting story.  I have also read The Princess Elopes by the same author, which is a typical Ruritarian Romance so obviously a copy and possibly a mockery of The Prisoner of Zenda  by Anthony Hope that the writing suffered.  The Adventures of Kathlyn, writing-wise, was infinitely better.

I hope you've enjoyed this peek into my bookshelf.

Tarts and Twists, and One More Pie

Juliana and I did some baking again.  It was too wet to go outside.  We made Apple Tarts, Cinnamon Twists (out of the scraps from the tarts), and one more pie for Daddy to take to work.  Juli had fun putting the apples in after I made the crusts, and of course, tasting everything.

On a somewhat related note, I just read an article in the newspaper about a group that volunteers to pick people's unwanted fruit to donate it to the food bank.  I think when Nick is older, I'd like to do that.  Juliana had great fun picking my friend's apples last week.  So did I.  The picker gets a portion of the fruit, some goes to the fruit's owner, and the rest to the city's food bank.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Pretty Apple Pies

A friend gave me some lovely apples to use in some centrepieces I'm doing for a fall event.  I need them to last for a few weeks before the event, so I picked out all the bruised or blemished ones to keep them from making the other ones decay.  I had enough for a few pies, so yesterday morning while the kids ate breakfast, I made one.

I love making apple pies.  Especially now that I have figured out how to make good crust (Psst!  The secret is margarine).  We headed out to the lake so Kevin could help his dad with bring in the seadoos and the boat lifts and we brought the pie along.  It was so good!  I need to make another so Kevin can take some to work.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

My Kids Made My Day

Yesterday I was a bit sick.  I needed sleep.  I was miserable.  I could barely function.  Kevin was great, taking Juli to her friend's birthday party and then taking both kids to have dinner with his parents while I stayed home and got some rest.  But before they went to dinner, I was lying in bed trying unsuccessfully to fall asleep.  I told Juli that I was sick and needed a nap.  She said, "Do you want to cuddle the little bear?"  What a thoughtful girl I have!  I have a small stuffed bear that Kevin gave me when we were dating and I was in the hospital for an apendectomy.  Juli loves this bear, but she only gets to sleep with it when she is sick.  She ran to get it for me and tucked it under my chin, saying "There you go Mom."

And earlier that day, Nico was trying to get my attention.  He said "Mama.  Mama."  This is the first time he has said that and I've been fairly certain that he was using it as my name.  Most of the time he just babbles, "Da da da da da da da" or "Na na na na na".  Lately he's started to say "Ma ma ma ma" a little, but this was different.  He distinctly said "Mama."  I love my boy!  He's also starting to say "yeah", and "nah" at appropriate times.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Sad Cookies

It may technically still be summer, but we've had such cool weather that the leaves are starting to turn already.  Inspired by the crisp air and an adorable set of ABC cookie cutters that Kevin's mom gave me, Juliana and I decided to make what she calls "broken ginger-mans".

Juli is so excited for winter to come.  She wants to make snow angels and "snow-mans".  But for now she'll have to be content with a paper version: