Tuesday, January 24, 2012

I haven't been around here much.

And I haven't made it to any PMQG meetings recently. I started teaching Thursday late afternoon and early evening, which makes it harder to get to meetings. Also, I've been extra-tired recently because I'm *drumroll* 7 months pregnant.

Please ignore the ridiculous look on my face and the fact that I'm standing in the cereal aisle at Target. Also, it has already been pointed out to me that vertical stripes would be more slimming. :)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Apple Rings

I ordered an apple peeler / corer / slicer from amazon. It got here Tuesday, but I haven't had a chance to test it out until today.

It's awesome. You stick an apple on the little fork thing and turn the crank and out comes apple peel strings, a core, and perfectly sliced apple rings. It took me less than an hour to fill the whole dehydrator, which fit somewhere between 25 and 30 apples (I forgot to count them). An hour includes the time it took me to dig the dehydrator out of the cabinet, wash everything, and get everything set up.

I've got a billion apple rings dehydrating right now. I'm very excited.

The dehydrator was a wedding present from a friend of my dad's. This is the first time we've used it, although it was one of the first wedding gifts we got.

Friday, November 4, 2011

And then there were apples.

I started with two of these three boxes of apples. 

Last time I canned applesauce, it involved peeling and coring all the apples. Peeling that many apples is a pain in the ass, so I tried to avoid that this year. I decided that if I cored them and then ran them through my Vitamix blender, I would be able to not peel them. I don't peel apples that I put into smoothies, so it seemed like a reasonable idea. I blended about half the apples, then brought the sauce to boiling. I had slightly over 7 quarts. It tastes pretty darn good!

Here's the results from canning today!

Tomato Canning Exploits

Today, I'm canning tomatoes and (hopefully) applesauce. I may also be finishing up applesauce tomorrow.

I started off the day by making a batch of roasted tomato sauce. This is going to get frozen rather than canned. I couldn't find a roasted tomato sauce recipe for canning in a water bath. The recipes I found that addressed this said it was a bad idea because of the olive oil in the recipe. Frozen is fine. I have a silicon baking thing for tiny cakes where each hole holds about 8oz of liquid. This is a fabulous size for single-serve soups and such. We have frozen chicken veggie soup, lentil soup, and some spaghetti sauce (made with our CSA and all my garden tomatoes) already in the freezer. We like tomato sauce on spaghetti squash... in fact, that's probably what we're having for dinner tonight, since we have a large spaghetti squash sitting around.

Here's the tomatoes, onions, and carrots after roasting for an hour. Mmmmm....

I blended everything up and boiled it for about an hour to thicken it up. 
It looks and smells extremely tasty.

Next up is herbed seasoned tomatoes. My tomatoes are ginormous, so I quartered them rather than halving them and it seems to have worked out pretty well. These are awesome to throw in any recipes that call for canned tomatoes. Apparently canned tomatoes leach BPA from the lining of the can. I feel safer using my home-canned tomatoes.

This is what they look like once they're canned. 
They've got basil, oregano, thyme, sage, and garlic powder in the jars.

I canned 12 pints and then ran out of pint jars. I decided not to do any quarts of whole / quartered tomatoes because I don't think we make many recipes that use a quart of tomatoes at once.

I also did a big batch of plain tomato sauce. This is just a base that I can use for making more interesting spaghetti sauce later on. I ran the rest of the tomatoes through my Vitamix blender in batches so I wouldn't have to take the skins off or remove the seeds. This is what I started with (it's about 10 quarts of liquified tomatoes). The pot is next to a 2 cup measuring cup for scale.

I boiled the sauce down to about 6 quarts. Here's what it looked like at the end:

I ended up with 6 quarts of plain sauce.

On to the apples!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Fall Canning!

It's been a busy term. Not much crafting has gone on and not much WILL go on until it's over (mid December). Luckily that gives me a week or two to get some Christmas crafting done.

I did score on produce today thanks to a friend who emailed me a coupon for the Pumpkin Patch (out on Sauvie Island, for those of you who are local). Right now, almost all their produce is on sale and then is an additional 20% off. We also had a 10% off total purchase coupon. They close for the season on Sunday, so if anyone is interested in heading out there, let me know and I'll email you the 10% off coupon.

Apples were $0.69 / pound. I got about 50 pounds and B, who came with me, got another 25. We're going to can applesauce (for me) and apple butter (for her). I'm excited as I used up my last jar of applesauce a few weeks ago. This will also give me a chance to try out the new wedding-gift dehydrator, which will be awesome.

I also got two 20 pound boxes of tomatoes (tomatoes in November? What a weird year...) for $15 a box. It's a bit more expensive than what I paid for tomatoes last time I canned them ($0.49 / pound), but those were pick-your-own and it was a much better year for tomatoes. We used up all our canned tomatoes pretty quickly and I haven't been able to do more because the last two seasons have been pretty crappy for tomatoes. These tomatoes don't look supreme, but they're definitely good enough to make some stewed tomatoes and some sauce.

All the candy was buy one, get one free, so I bought a few. Halloween gummi worms or chocolate peanut clusters, anyone?

The goal is to start canning tomatoes tomorrow and continue on Friday, and to get the apples canned Friday and Saturday. It'll be busy, but hopefully worth it. I may head back out and get more apples on Saturday depending on how things are going. Apples will keep for a little while, so I could dehydrate and can a few more next week. Tomatoes have to be processed ASAP.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


And after the wedding, we left on our Honeymoon. We decided to go on a cruise to Alaska for several reasons. We chose Alaska because my mother had been on an Alaskan cruise and enjoyed it a lot. We decided on a cruise because I didn't want to have to actually plan much of the trip.

The cruise left from Seattle. We had one fairly rough day at sea, which we spent mostly in bed, napping. Except for the sea sickness, that day was pretty darn enjoyable.

Our first stop was in Juneau. We went whale watching. We saw whales, including one who was breaching. That's when they fling themselves out of the water and crash back down, presumably to impress other whales. It's apparently unusual to see them do that in Alaka. Normally, they reserve that behavior for Hawaii, where they are getting busy with the mating. I didn't take any pictures of whales because, having whale watched before, I knew the pictures would all look like water with little black dots ("Oh look! It's a tail!").

In Juneau, we also visited Mendenhall Glacier. We were going to hike up to the waterfall that can be seen over Mike's shoulder, but the trail was completely flooded out. As in entirely submerged under water. We viewed the glacier from the viewpoint instead. I thought we needed quite a bit more time at the glacier. We didn't have time to go through the visitor center other than watching their 7 minute movie on glaciers.

Our next stop was Skagway. We went on an early morning train ride up into the mountains. Lots of very nice scenery, but the weather was a little overcast, so my pictures are mostly of trees with fog. We did see a bear! It was sort of meandering along beside the tracks. I happened to see it because I spent a lot of time looking down at the ground near-ish to the train looking for squirrels (never saw any). I'm not sure many other people on the train actually saw the bear because they were all looking off into the distance at scenery. The bear was right next to the train and looked up at me as we rolled on by. Closest I've ever been to a bear, by far.

Here we are, on a platform on the train. In the background, you can see trees with fog.

That afternoon, we went ziplining. The zipline people took us up into the rainforest and we went on 5 different ziplines. There wasn't particularly different, exciting things to be seen from the zipline that couldn't be seen from the ground, but we did finally see our first squirrels.

There were also salmon spawning. We saw these from the train, then walked back through the town to find them after ziplining. I was exhausted at the end of this day.

We spent a morning in Glacier Bay. We had a balcony room, which meant that we could hang out on the balcony and admire the glaciers. They were huge and blue and made all sorts of cracking, popping noises.

Here's another glacier off in the distance. There's no sense of scale in Alaska. You can tell that things are "big", but there's really no way to see how big they are. For example, the glacier behind us in the picture above is something like 250 feet tall.

Next stop, Ketchikan. We went on a tour of Totem Bight Park. There were totem poles. The tour guide was very good. After the totem poles, we went to a lumberjack show, which was pretty corny but entertaining. And that was it for Ketchikan.

The last stop was Victoria, BC. We were there at night and saw Butchart Gardens and the Butterfly Gardens. I would totally go back to Butchart Garden to see it in the daylight. It was quite dark by the time we got to the end. All of the butterflies were roosting, which made them easier to photograph, but not quite so exciting to watch. I don't highly recommend butterfly gardens after sundown.

Overall, it was a very enjoyable trip. We ate very well on the ship. I fell asleep every time I stopped moving because the rocking of the boat was just very soothing. We only had the one day of roughish weather and other than that, sea sickness wasn't much of a problem. Beautiful scenery was always just outside our door and could be viewed from bed while reading a book. What more could you want?

Major updates.

I've been very remiss about updating this blog. It's partially because I haven't been crafting, but mostly because I just haven't thought about it when I have been crafting. Also, I got married and went on a honeymoon and just got back at the beginning of this week.

One of the first things I made was a purple petticoat to go under my wedding dress. It involved 180 yards of chiffon strips from this website. I never could have done it without chiffon pre-cut into strips. Also, without my ruffler foot, purchased specifically for this occasion. This was actually the second ruffler foot I bought for the project. The first was from amazon and was much cheaper, but didn't work well with my machine. Even with ruffler feet and pre-cut chiffon strips, the project probably took easily 30 hours. But it was worth it.

We got married in the Peninsula Park Rose Garden, so I didn't want to do a lot of flowers. Instead, I had my bridesmaids carry pinwheels. A lot of R&D went into these pinwheels and they would have made a great project to post about on here. However, I didn't and that's that. I don't even have any pictures of them in development or production. They were fabulous and sturdy and they spun, which was what I needed them to do.

Here's me and the groom. I also made my veil, which involved hand-sewing a string of pearly beads to the bottom of two layers of shimmery veil stuff. Quite time consuming, but easy to do while sitting and watching a movie.

Here's a portion of the ceremony. We're in the middle of the chalice ceremony where we pour both of our cups into one and then drink from it.

We had a fabulous cake made by Pastrygirl in Portland. The wedding theme was squirrels and pinwheels. The cake was delicious.

In the picture below, you can also see my tie-dyed napkins stamped with a squirrel, our names, and the date. These were our wedding favors. We had about 55 guests and I had dyed about 90 napkins.. and we only came home with 6 or so, so they seemed to be pretty popular.

We also had pizza catered by the Girasole wood-fired pizza food cart. The food was great. There were three different kinds of pizza, antipasto skewers, and roasted veggies. Also, beer, lemonade and a variety of interesting sodas. Girasole was awesome to work with and I highly recommend them.

 Rather than having people sign a guest book, I had them sign quilt squares. Eventually, I'll be putting these together into our wedding quilt.

It was a fun wedding for me to be at, which was the overall goal. I wanted to have people and things that I enjoyed and to not be stressed out. It worked out fabulously well, mostly thanks to my excellent friends who helped me with everything.

The most difficult part so far has been remembering to say "husband" rather than "boyfriend". I suppose I'll get used to it someday. :)