Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Crafting - Journals of Life

Once again I am inspired by my friend Kelli making these journals. I covered composition notebooks in pretty paper and decorated them with what I have on hand, staying in the spirit of using what I have.

They can be used for anything your heart desires. The above journal goes to Deb.

This one goes to Erin. They are so fun and easy to make, and I love how they turn out. There is limitless possibilities to how you can decorate them. Kelli sews so she uses pretty ribbons and buttons when decorating hers.

Thanks once again Kelli for a wonderful craft idea!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Bipartisan Political Statement - I'm Diane and I Approve This Message

Lately political emails have filled my box to overflowing -- Republicans attacking the Democrats; Democarts attacking the Republicans. ENOUGH ALREADY PLEASE! However, my friend Renee sent me a political related email and there was much discussion afterwards by most people it was sent to. It was a very interesting discussion. I want to print here what Renee's husband John said in the discussion because it is exzactly how I feel. This bipartisan lady could have written this herself.

Halloween onsie for Jacob. Too cute!

If you haven't yet, read the "Elephant" book, you will marvel at the strategy. I find the Republican message is heard by all voters, and too often the Democrat's response and subsequent dialog is wasted on other Democrat's. Instead of "preaching to the choir," they should be having more discourse with those of opposing views.

Villeroy & Boch rimmed soup bowls. Bought with Macy's Rewards coupons.

It seems to me that Democrat's spend a preponderance of their time railing at the Republicans for their "ridiculous ideas," and too little time listening, learning, and attempting to find common ground.

Buffet Server bought with Macy's reward coupons.

It may be important to remember that all Republicans are not clones of Gerorge Bush or Dick Cheney, any more than all Democrats are clones of John Kerry or John Edwards. The vast majority of both Republicans and Democrats fall within the middle fo these two extremes.

Annalee cat witch threesome from William Glen.

To say that all Republicans represent only the privleged is unrealistic, is as unrealistic as saying that all Democrats represent only the underprivileged.

Annalee Candy Corn Witch from William Glen.

In my opinion, the only way to counteract this increasing polarization of our political discourse is to find that common ground.

Canned more onions in wine vinegar.

It is the responsibility of all citizens to be informed an reach decisions based on the information.

Ingredients to make wine jelly.

Those decisions should not be formaulated as a result of a single "party line," but also take into account points from opposing views.

Cabernet Sauvignon Wine Jelly

I want to stress that I am for a change from the last 8 years, but my decision will have been made with the benfit of numerous bipartisan discussions which all those close to me can attest.

Canned Gift From My Kitchen

Thank you John for saying sp perfectly what I have been thinking. Now, back to my kitchen.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Jacob - The Apple of Gram Gram's Eye

Jacob eating baby food fruit for the first time. (Applesauce) His Mommy reports that he ate a half a jar. I'd say he likes it! How fast our little one is growing up.

A tired little boy sleeping in mommy and daddy's big bed. I swear it is from all the laughing he does. He is just such a happy boy. Check Jen's blog out to see a video of Jacob laughing. As her subject title says, Laughter IS Good Medicine.


A friend recently told me after hearing about my niece Erin's skull based tumor surgery coming up in a few weeks that things such as this happening to such a young person makes him wonder if there really is a God. It is not always easy to see God's full plan when something like this happens. However I believe that things happen for us to learn. Not just to the person who is inflicted but those around them as well; the doctors, family, friends. I think of Erin's older brother Robin who is autistic. He is a wonderful teacher and inspriation to the doctors, family, friends and the world. We need him more than he needs us. God gave Robin to us not only to love but to learn from. Erin is facing this surgery with calm, dignity and grace. Yes, my friend, I do believe there is a God and he is awesome. I put Erin in HIS hands.

In the Kitchen - Preserving

This morning I was able to get a little of the canning done that I had hoped to do yesterday.

First I made Brandy-Pecan Sauce. Above are the ingredients. Only thing missing is water.

Toasting the pecans in unsalted butter over low heat until they absorbed all the butter and developed a rich, nutty aroma. Once troasted set pan aside. Then mix the rest of the butter, water and brown sugar in a saucepan and dissolve the sugar well. Then cook over medium heat until slightly thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the spices. Then add the brandy and cook, stirring constantly until reduce to a medium syrup, about 5 minutes. Then stir in the pecans and cook 2 more minutes and remove from heat. Fill jars.

Place in a water bath for 10 minutes.

Finished product. This smelled rich while cooking. I think I may have cooked my syrup too long though. It may be a heat in the microwave before using. Over ice cream? Heart be still!

Next I made Pineapple Upside-Down Topping. The drained heavy syrup from the crushed pineapple and brown sugar brought to boiling after the sugar fully dissolved.. (Note: Try finsing fruit in heavy syrup anymore. I was able to find chuncks of pineapple in heavy syrup. I drained to cans of crushed pineapple to see how much juice there is in the cans. Then I measured that amount of drained heavy syrup from the pineapple chunk cans, and continued. I put the chunks with the pineapple juice in the fridge for another use.)

Simmering for 5 minutes.

Then add the crushed pineapple, bring back to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 2 more minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and add in the rum if using.

Lids in boiling water.

Filling the jars with pineapple topping, leaving 1/2-inch headspace.

In the water bath for 10 minutes.

Finsihed product. This was so easy to make and smells heavenly when cooking. Looks beautiful in the jars as well.

More Fall - Halloween Decorating

Candy corn; a special treat for Deb when she is here next week visiting. When we were teenagers (okay, don;t think of asking when that was!) we actually wrote a silly poem about candy corn.

I decided to go ahead and put some of the Halloween decorations out early since Deb, Erin and Mackenzie will be here.

These little critters are so delightful in their Halloween costumes that they are guarenteed to bring smiles.

These are Annalee dolls, and every face is handpainted and handmade so they are different. Annalee is gone now, but years ago when she first started, she made every doll by hand and painted their faces as well herself. There is a factory of people now, but they are still as creative, cute and different as they ever were.
I just love the little mice dressed as Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy. I smile every time I look at this scene.

While David was driving around yesterday, one of the stops was BelAir market. We saw this cute friendly witch and couldn't resist. She is not mean or scary, but makes us smile and laugh. We have named her Esmerelda.

The lighted pumpkins made from small branches make the designs on her clothes dance in the soft glowing light. I know Justin is going to love her. Jen, John, Jus and Jacob will be here in a few weeks visiting.

A few more fall related things around the house.......... Candles on the coffee table.

Kitchen goodies. Speaking of kitchen goodies, into my kitchen I go.................

Some Days Just Aren't What They Were Planned To Be

Yesterday I had planned to spend the day at home cooking and canning.

And deciding what fall items to fill these glass pumkins with to use as the centerpiece for my dining room table.

And what to make to fill these bottles?

And these. (There are a lot more of these that aren't shown.) Hey, all ideas are welcomed!

BUT.........our van wouldn't start, even after charging the battery. So we called AAA and they sent out Batt Man to our rescue.

Batt Man checks it out. Yep, it's gone, gone, gone.................

Do not fear, Batt Man is always prepared. Within 15 minutes the van had a spankin' new battery. Holy smoke Batt Man, that was fast and efficient. Thanks!

David decided he wanted to try driving. He hasn't been behind the wheel of a vehicle since he fractured his heel 6 months ago. I went with him just in case. He did great! YAY!!! He was so happy to be behind the wheel again he started driving all over to different stores to shop. We didn't get home until well into the afternoon. He did really good walking on cructhes all that time too.

We were expecting a gardner to come by between 3 and 5 PM to give us an estimate on pruning everythign in our back yard when the appropriate time comes. I didn't want to start canning because it isn't something you can stop in the middle of, so I got down some of the fall decorations. I decided on burnt orange candles and fall leaves in the empty glass pumpkins. I think I will set these on a black tablecloth on the dining room table.

Okay, it was time for a glass of wine. VJB Tocai. A fruity wine and very good.

I decided to keep decorating since my sister-in-law Deb, niece Erin and great-niece Mackenzie will be here Tuesday. It's a difficult time with Erin's skull-based tumor surgery right around the corner, so I think warm fall decorations are in order to brighten our spirits..

I love candles and use them every where in the house.

Material of a table runner I used.

Another table runner. The gardener never showed up nor did he call. I really do not like when people do this to others. Especially when they are supposed to be a professional. It is such a waste of time to wait around for someone and they don't even have the curtesy to call and say they can't make the appointed time.

Dinner was simple -- BBQ boneless counrty pork ribs in the oven, brown rice and steamed green beans. As much as I am disppointed I didn't get the canning done that was on my list, I did use the time to get a head start on fall decorating and making and creating a warm atmosphere for family when they come to visit. That makes me happy. All in all, it was a good day.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

By Request - Meyer Lemon Jelly Recipe

Meyer Lemon Jelly
4 cups filtered lemon juice, preferably Meyer lemons, or juice with an electric juicer that removes most of the pulp and seeds
7 cups sugar
2 (3 oz) pouches liquid pectin
In an 8-qt stainless steel pan, over medium high heat, heat the juice until warm. Add the sugar and heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar is completely dissolved. (This is a slow process but necessary.) Increase the heat to medium high and bring the mixture to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. (This is also a slow process, especially when making a double batch as I did.) Stir in the entire contents of both pectin pouches. Return the mixture to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat.
Quickly skim off any foam and immediately ladle the hot jelly into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe there jar rims and threads and apply screw rings. Process half-pint jars in a 200 degreeF water bath for 10 minutes, pint jars for 15 minutes.
This is a tangy jelly with an intense taste. I am very pleased with the finished product. From Blue Ribbon Preserves cookbook.
Yield: 7 to 8 half-pint jars

A Day In the Life of...............

Some days are just full of errands, but they still turn out to be great days.

Yesterday started with a blueberry muffin from the freezer, defrosted and warmed in the microwave, and spread with homemade Meyer Lemon Jelly. This could become addicting. (Oh oh! she says to herself.)

Then I drove David to Kaiser for an appointment.

This time it was with his Opthalmogist to check the pressure in his eyes. David has glaucoma. Pressure is good. Yay!

I brought him home and then I headed out again running errands and keeping appointments. I started at Walmart to pick up pint canning jars.

While there I saw these fleece pajama bottoms for Justin. He loves Spiderman. Pretty cool.

I still had a half hour before my appointment so I stopped in at Mervyn's and picked up a few more outfits for Jacob. Everything is just so cute Gram Gram can't resist!

Love these outfits. The light blue one is a velour type material. Very soft and cozy. Love the race cars on the jacket.

Is this just too cute or what?!

And look! It comes with a matching hat and socks! I can't wait to see Jacob wearing it!

Then it was on to the hair salon to spend an hour and a half with Robbie for some hair pampering. And not a moment too soon!

I stopped into the Korean market a few doors down from the salon to pick up some red onions (going to can more in wine vinegar) and fresh tomatoes to make Salsa Ranchera when I get home for gift giving. This market has great produce among many other wonderful items for speciality cooking Oriental/Asian style, and amazingly they have a large Mexican speciality foods area as well.

Produce ready to make Salsa Ranchera. This is an all-purpose Mexican tomato sauce, probably mostly known for Huevos Rancheras and it comes from the Central and Northern areas of Mexico I believe. It is a great tomato sauce base for all kinds of Mexcian dishes.

Chiles charring on the stovetop.

Tomatoes, charred serrano chiles, and garlic blended until fairly smooth.

Chopped white onion in vegetable oil sauteeing gently just until translucent, not brown.

Pou in blended tomato mixture and cook over medium high heat until the sauce has reduce some and is well seasoned. I made a qudrupal batch so it took about 20 minutes cooking time. One bacth might only take 5 minutes to cook down some.

In jars and cooling before going into the freezer. This sauce tends to sparate in the freezer, so just defrost and blend briefly before using. Exact ingredient amounts for 1 batch:

1 pound tomatoes, broiled or not

2 to 4 serrano chiles, charred

1 garlic clove, roughly chopped

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 tablespoons finely chopped white onion

1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste