When life hands you apples…

Last week, my sister in law gave me a bunch of apples – like, a bunch. Usually, I’d find an occaision to make pie with them, but a) I haven’t really been in the mood for pie, b) we aren’t entertaining any time soon (and pie to me says “party!” or “picnic”).  It was time to figure out what to do with them, before they got too fragrant and not edible.

I did some thinking – apple butter? Too gross for words. Fritters? Too fattening. Individual, take along mini-pies? Too Martha.

Applesauce sounded just about right, but  I was a little worried because I’d bought some applesauce while I was pregnant and it just sat in the refrigerator for months.  (I swear, I’m not the scarey food-lady from Hoarders, but I’m worried that one day I’ll be playing her on TV).  I went ahead and made some this weekend, and it was gone by last night.

I used a recipe from A Year of Slow Cooking – which is now one of my new favorite blogs.  I followed it exactly, cooked for about six hours and just mashed everything with a fork.  Personally, I liked it better after it sat in the fridge for a day vs. warm, but Jason was a big fan of the warm version. The best part is, that since its in the crockpot, you pretty much just had to peel the apples, cut them up and shove them in, then try not to forget about them 6 hours later.

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The Crafty/Make-y Bucket List

As I mentioned yesterday, before the baby was born I cobbled together a list of crafty/maker(y) oriented stuff I wanted to start learning after the baby was born and I regained the use of my hands.  I found this list the other day, and in the interest of starting to actually use it, I thought I’d start organizing and sharing it.  If you’ve done anything on the list and have some ideas or thoughts on where/how to get started, by all means – share away.

I’ve decided that I want to organize it into categories, and instead of having a HUUUUGE list, and getting totally intimidated, I culled it down to 10 things that I believably can do or try by the end of this year. This isn’t about patterns I want to do, but techniques I want to try, or new things I want to learn how to do.

Knitting

  1. Use my “crazy yarn” to create a blanket or throw – damm the way it looks!
  2. Knit something with beads

Spinning

  1. Make a skein of coiled yarn longer than 20 yards – and use it
  2. Make yarn with beads (not to be used in item 2 above – that’s for attaching beads to non-beaded yarn)

Fiber

  1. Prep my raw alpaca

Sewing

  1. Make myself a dress I wouldn’t be ashamed to leave the house in

Food

  1. Make homemade ice cream
  2. Make freezer jam

Other

  1. Make paper
  2. Etch glasses

Summer Crafts, Bacon, and a Super Cat

While I’ve been busy with the baby there have been some great posts out and around that have been incredibly inspiring:

  • The Long Thread has some great posts about summer reading crafts – crafts you can do with kids based on books that you read. I can’t wait to do something like this with the boy! (via craftgossip)
  • My friend Clay has a great blog called The Bitten Word – and this recipe for Asiago Stuffed Bacon probably takes the cake from last month. Of course, their freezer jam is something I plan on trying too.
  • I totally plan on doing some etched glass for presents for Christmas. I know what I’m doing and for who, now I just have to try it! But these jars are a great idea!
  • I don’t crochet, but Craft Leftovers Face Cloth/Cat Cape made me snarf.

Saturday Yums

Every weekend, I spend a little bit of time just playing online – looking at different things that are interesting, inspiring or cool from a design, crafty, or visual perspective. It gives me a little bit of focus for the week to come, and adds some ideas for things I’d like to try. (Of course, right now, everything I want to try is superceded by “Getting the baby out of me” – but I am keeping a list for things I want to do in the future.) Here’s some cool stuff I came by this week:

This No-Sew Jersey Scarf makes me want one. Even though I have 18 million knitted scarf, now I want a jersey scarf. ( Altered Cloth)

This recipe for Citronella Soap recipe on Craft Gossip has me wanting to try soap making. And I don’t even like the smell of Citronella!

I tried salted hot chocolate, which was VERY good, so I’m going to try salted coffee, just to see if I like it. However, the commenter at the very bottom reminded me that I want to make some vanilla sugar, so I can change my regular sparkling water to vanilla creme soda (minus the storebought yuk taste).

Really want to use some of my random wool roving to make a felted vessel. The rest of her blog just went on my “must read” list as well (HomeWork)

If you haven’t been following The Object Project, you totally should be.

Sweet Tea Alabama

As I’m getting slower and more sluggish as the baby gets bigger and more obstinate, I’ve found that some of my grand crafting plans have to get scaled back a bit – even though I have the time to sit and knit for four hours a day, I can’t do it thanks to carpal tunnel syndrone kicking in. Because of this, I’ve had to get my maker thrills from other places – making bread, cookies, spinning, etc. My goal is to make something every day – and it doesn’t have to be big, it just has to be something.  The goal is less about finishing than about doing.  I think one of the important parts of making something is that you want, you enjoy and that makes you and others happy.

Which brings me to the Southern Sweet Tea, which is pretty much the ONLY way to truely drink iced tea in the world.  My mom makes iced tea, and I grew up and went on my own, I went about making iced tea according to the package directions, thinking that’s what she did. What I got was NOT what I got when I drove over to my parents house. So I finally asked how she did it, which is now the only method I use. This is the good stuff people, and in the tradition of trial and error, the measurements aren’t exact.

Step One: Fill a pot with water (2-3ish cups) and bring to a boil.

Step Two: While water is boiling, fill a pitcher with water, and dump in about 1/2 cup of sugar. (Note: the original recipe calls for a whole cup of sugar, and if you reallllly like your sugar or aren’t watching what you eat like we do, go for it. Just for the love of all that is good and holy, DO NOT use anything like splenda, sweet n’ low, etc. That is a crime reserved for unsweetened tea at restaurants).

Step 3: Take the  off the burner, and put in 4-5 tea bags*. Put a plate over the pot, and let sit for 10-15 minutes (The water won’t be cool, but it won’t be boiling hot either).  The plate, for some reason, is really important. So make sure you put it on.

Make sure you put the plate on, ok?

Step 4: Dump the tea mixture into the pitcher, stir to dissolve the sugar, and put in the refrigerator. Wait to drink until the tea gets cold (I’m serious here – do NOT try to cool it down with iced cubes. It won’t taste as good and you will be sad).

tea 3

Serve in a glass, preferably outside on a porch.

*I used either the Lipton or the Kroger “made for iced” tea variety.  Occasionally, either because I need to go to the store and am lazy, or because we want something exotic I’ll add a bag or two of something herbal, but I never make this with just herbal tea, and we all know that’s not really iced tea anyway.

We have worms

I’ve seen the Make Magazine post on starting your own worm composting bin make its way around the blogs in my RSS reader, so I wanted to share that we actually have our own worm bin, courtesy of my husband Jason. Our setup is pretty much the same as the one in Make. This was wierd to me, because growing up in Germany I remember stomping outside to the compost “bin” in friend’s yards and dumping stuff. As far as I remember, it was all outside. In fact, even though I was in 5th grade and incredibly small for my age, the compost bin at my Tante Annette’s was HUUUUUGE (think garden sized).

That said, the whole thing is pretty easy, from a cook’s side (I let Jason do the dirty work).  I just keep all my vegetable scraps and coffee filters, etc, in a bowl during the day and we dump them at night. If you use a garbage bowl at all in your cooking, its just a matter of having two – one for veg matter and one for non-compostable stuff (like plastic bags for the veggies, etc).

(NOTE: I have yet to actually look at said worms, but I can say that even with my ultra pregnant nose, when I go down to the basement where the worm bin is, I don’t really smell anything different or out of the ordinary.)