Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Canning Spinach Attempt #2

If yall are following my spinach saga...I tried canning another batch of spinach.

This time I blanched it for 10 mins and then crammed as much spinach as I could in the jar and poked around with a butter knife A LOT to make sure all the air was out and filled the water up to the brim before sealing. 

And still, not good......... 

Im really getting angry at myself here. 

I have to wonder whats taking all my water away? It is at a higher level than my first attempt tho, so I must be getting somewhere.... Is it that Im not blanching it long enough? 

I think ill blanch it longer next time and not cram it so full and fill it with water as I did with these. 


Anyone got any other ideas as to whats going on here? 

Sunday, June 26, 2011

My Spinach FAIL

My son has an amazing love affair with spinach....

yes, seriously. 

I don't want to squash this, after all, who doesn't want to be like "Popeye" when they grow up?? And the hubbs and I like it a lot too. So I have to keep stock in spinach in the house and at a $1.50ish a can, this gets expensive. So, I've been trying to get a grip on how to can my own spinach. Folks have suggested that I just freeze it....I don't have the freezer space. Canning works better for me. 

I tried last year to get some canned but, I didn't get to it in time and it bolted. I totally blame my laziness, not researching enough and not knowing when to harvest. 

This year however, I wasn't gonna let that happen! I still don't know when to harvest the stuff but I researched it a lot and took a stab in the dark and came up with this...

Looks good? I was worried that I might have waited too long and got the ones that were too old. What do yall think? Are they too old? 

Yanno, you learn a lot when you do something for the first time, what you would do different next time, for example. 

You are supposed to cut the outside ring of leaves about a half inch to an inch off the ground to allow the rest of the plant to carry on with normal business of the day... then you have to "stem" them after cutting them. The boy could have done this right when we were harvesting. (since he was following me down the row not doing anything but playing in the dirt with his hoe and having a lovely conversation with me about ....umm, I don't remember. But it was nice!)  

Then you have to bring it in the house and wash and inspect....... EVERY. STINKIN. LEAF. This took me about an hour and a half and half a bottle of ibuprofen because my counters are about a half inch too low for me to be comfortable standing there all day. So my back hurt, had to take breaks. 

Then you have to chop them in large sections. I found a tip from Nanny & Peepaws Kitchen to use a pizza cutter!!

Worked like a charm and made quick work of things! 

Then you have to blanch the spinach. I did it after bringing my water to a boil and then putting my spinach in the pot. Put my lid on and waited about 5 mins. 

Then I took the spinach out of the pot and put it in my quart jars kinda smashing it down just a bit and then using the water I blanched it with, filled my jars up to one inch head space. Then I had hubbs take a knife and poke around a bit to get the air out, put 1/2 tsp of salt in, put the lid and ring on and put it in my pressure cooker. I had enough to get 4 quart jars out of it. 

Then you pressure cook them for a whooping 90 mins!! I was able to cast on for, and knit half a washcloth. 

Now mind you, when I put the spinach in the pressure cooker, the spinach was up to the top and looking pretty! When I took them out of the cooker, I was not so happy. 


I have no idea what happened and asked around and got no answers either. Im fully aware that stuff settles during processing but THIS MUCH?? I need to get a handle on this because I have two 70' rows of spinach to can. By the end of this canning season, I should have the trial and error education of canning spinach down pat. But this is me were talking about, it may not sink in right away.

For this batch tho, I fixed some with a bit of vinegar last night for supper (which is why there is only three there in that pic....did you catch that?? lol) and it was AMAZINGLY good!!! 

So I guess not a total fail, I learned some stuff and it tasted awesome, but a fail nonetheless. Anyone wanna take me under their wings and teach me all the ways of spinach? and how to can it? I would love you forever!! Im guessing I just need some tweaking. 



Monday, June 20, 2011

Blackberries are Sneaky!!

On the west side of our corn field you normally see this.

No biggie. Its just grass, weeds and brush. We walk by this every night on our walks. Never took a second look at it till tonight, when this caught my eye. (click on any pic to embiggin)

WHAT?!?! We have blackberries???? Who knew? 

As it turns out, hubbs did. He said hes known about these since we bought the place. 

Great. You couldn't have told me about this? 

I went to looking more after seeing those berries on the fence, and saw this....

and further down the road theres more! 

As it turns out, they are all up and down the road and on up along the south side of the field as well! Hubbs said they have never been as dominate as they are this year, and the fact that im inattentive they havent been as dense before this year is probably why I haven't ever noticed them before. 

Ok! I'll go with that! 

But in my defense, check out how sneaky these things are.....

Heres that patch with the grass pulled back....

See! Its not my fault that I've walked by these things every evening all summer for the last 4 summers and didn't see them...

And that's my story, and I'm stickin to it!! 

Speaking of "stickin"....after hearing/saying the word "Ouch" 498 times, we came up with this....

There probably would have been more if I could have stopped the boy from eating more than he put in the bag. 
We will be going back every night with a bucket and gloves, and scouring the grounds for ripe ones till there isn't any more....but until then, my boys want a pie. 

Now to find a recipe. Anyone got one? Can I make some jelly/jam with this stuff? 

Off to look in my books and ask my friend google for some answers. I look forward to learning more about this plant and recipes made from the fruit from it. Looks like imma have a bunch blackberries from now on.  If anyone has any tips for these plants, please let me know!! 

Ive been doing some knitting. I was over at Hooked on Needles and Mary Grace has been crocheting up some seriously awesome washcloths for her shop...that gave me an idea to knit some for my shop. So Ive been knitting some washcloths at night when its cooler and I cant do anything outside, and everyone is asleep. Ill take some pics when I have the set done. 


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Pea Time!!

The peas are ready and its time to can them. YAY!!
I know what your thinkin...."Well thats not enough to even get your pressure cooker out!" Agreed. But this is only the first pickin....the next one will yield heaps more and I will have already had all the stuff out and ready to go. So, Its ok.

Now, if you have dealt with peas fresh off the plant before, you know its a royal PAIN and are wondering what drugs im on that make me say YAY to pea canning time ... No drugs, I assure you! Check out what I bought.

We lovingly call this the "Pea Combine". You can do beans too, so if you do both, this thing is a must have for sure!!
This thing is amazing!! You can use the hand crank or hook up hubbys drill to it or your kitchen mixer and go to town with these things! No more days of dreading getting the peas ready to can!! If your gonna do many peas/beans at all, you should run right out to your nearest website and grab you one!! I must urge you to find the best deal for it tho. The link I pointed you to earlier, is just one I found by Googleing it.

The attachment for using the mixer wont reach in mine tho, so I use the hand crank, still super easy. And its even easier if you have child labor available.

At this point, Im not going to tell you that you need to wash the crap out of everything and then take your peas to the sink and wash them again. 

I like to cold pack my peas so Im not gonna tell you that after you wash your peas, pack them in pint jars and fill the jar up with boiling water leaving 1 inch of space, add salt and put your lids and rings on. 

Im also not gonna tell you to put your prepared jars in the pressure cooker, (this is the one I have) and get it all locked down and get those to cookin at 10lbs. When your cooker starts to whistling(and you see steam escaping) ...set your timer for 7 min, when thats up, put your weight on and wait for it to start dancing. Set your timer again for 40 min and play with the heat till the gauge stays where it supposed to and your weight only dances around 1-4 times every minute.....and then go knit something...when your timer goes off, turn the stove off and wait for the gauge to read "0", then take the weight off. Wait for pressure to release(a min or so) and unlock everything and take your peas out and set them in an undrafty area sit back and count the pings...(my fav part) 

Then you will have the tastiest peas on your block!  

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Time Stamp....

Last night, hubs told me to let the boy do the discing he needed done, and that he thinks he would do fine with it.

So, reluctantly, I let him.

My son has been driving tractors since he'd been brought home from the hospital. (with help of course) Now, Im used to him driving a tractor by himself, but this is the first time he has had an implement on and driving it, much less a disc! Much less WITHOUT DADDY STANDING HERE!!! (can we say heart attack??)

So in honor of this event, and to have this documented somewhere in his history, I made a video.

I think its so important to have some sort of document, ie: picture, video, receipt, written down somewhere, ect...just SOMETHING that documents what happened at any given monument in their lives. I say this because when I went thro my parents stuff after their passing, it would have been great if there would have been time stamps on stuff to let me know at least when this event took place or when they got ________.
So after having to wonder about my parents stuff, I decided that I was going to put at least dates on everything and if I could, put where/who/how I got whatever it was so that I wouldnt be putting my children thro the same thing.

I decided also, I was going to do the same for my son for when he grows up and looks back on stuff, so he can both remember, and watch a video/look at pictures/read his history.

So for now, I present to you this particular time stamp in my sons life.

Because Im so stinkin proud of him, and want to share this, check out the video.

Looks like a regular ol' farmer don't he?? lol 

Do you guys "time stamp" your stuff? And do you document your kids' lives for them to look at when they get older?

Just sayin...........

Saturday, June 11, 2011

A pretty good use for an old pillowcase (very pic heavy)

Got a pillowcase(or extra material) hanging around taking up space? Well, if you know your way around a sewing machine and can run a pair of scissors,  put it to work and beef up your summer shirt inventory with some spaghetti strapped babydoll shirts.

These things are awesome to work around the house in. And super comfy! And if you get a wild hair, you can go crazy and make it with pretty stuff on it or just outta pretty material, and wear it anywhere. 

Alright enough of the build up....heres how I did it. 

Disclaimer: I am a crafter, I sew when I need to. ie: make my sons play/sleep/work clothes, make my own clothes(most of them) I've even done some work making a boot for our feed grinder. But sewing isnt my strong point. I can do it, but only when I need to. So, if you are one of those sewers that cringes at the work of a lazy sewer...pass this post up. I dont hardly do anything by the book and this is just a get in, get it done, get out, wear it kinda pattern. On the flip side of things, if you see something here that can be modified, should be modified or anything can be reworded for clarity, or general comments...PLEASE let me know. 

Ok, you will need these things.

1.  A pillowcase or any material equal to a pillowcase. I bought a yard each in two different patterns of jersey fabric from walmart that I'm going to make these shirts out of. So if you dont happen to have a pillowcase, but have some extra fabric...carry on. (Im not sure if I can do it, but I think I might be able to get 4 shirts out of these two yards. Ill keep you posted.) 
2. A spaghetti strap shirt your fond of.
3. 2 plastic rings. med to small sized  
4. matching thread
5. extra wide double fold bias tape. you will use the whole package which is 3yds so if you like long straps...better get an extra package. 
6. A page of the newspaper. or some large paper
7. something that marks. I used a sharpie
8. sewing machine/serger.
9. scissors
10. chocolate and dr. pepper...or vices of choice. 

Sheewww! I didnt know I used all of that stuff till I wrote it 

First, we gotta make a pattern, so grab your newspaper, sharpie, and your spaghetti strap shirt and hit the floor.. 

Lay the newspaper out on the floor and put your shirt on top of it, making sure the front of the shirt is up and the top of the material is at the top of the newspaper, like this...

Now take your sharpie and trace the shirt  from the bottom side of the shirt to the top. I must mention that this particular shirt is too big for me, so I just traced it as is. Normal seam allowance is 5/8 of an inch, so if you are tracing a shirt that fits, go out an extra 5/8 of an inch of the outline of this shirt only on the sides. 
Now trace the armhole area and the neck area. If your using a pillowcase, your kinda restricted to the length of the pillowcase but, if you are using a sheet or bought material, you can lengthen or shorten your shirt here. Add an inch to the length you want, and draw and outline across the bottom. I didn't mess with it. I just let the pillowcase dictate my length, which was fine. When I use the stuff I bought for these, I may add some length to hide my fat a little better.
BTW: You only need to do all this on one side. 

Remove the shirt and fold the paper in half making sure you can see the marked areas. Cut the outline you just drew and then cut the paper in half. Mark on one of the pieces: "FRONT" Like this....

Set the "front" pattern piece aside and turn the other piece over and set the shirt back on it, this time with the back facing, and matching sides up to the armhole. Tuck the front under and trace the armhole of the back, and the this

Remove the shirt and cut the outline you just drew. Mark: "BACK" on it and lookie!! You just made your pattern!  

Now we can get down to business. Take your pillowcase and cut it along the side seams and across the bottom so you have 2 equal this.  

Fold one piece of fabric in half, and lay one of your pattern pieces on it, straight side on the fold, pin it to the this.
sorry for the crappy pic

Cut around pattern piece and you should have something like this....

Set it aside and repeat last two steps for the other pattern piece. 

With wrong sides together, sew up side seams. 
I feel compelled to mention that you will need to treat your seams somehow after you sew them up to keep them from fraying. Most people just sew up the sides and then use the zig zag setting on them and that does the trick. It also depends on the fabric your using. With the jersey t-shirt fabric, I could prob get away without doing anything, but I treat them anyway. With most fabrics, you will have a ratty, ugly seams and will be slapping yourself for not doing anything. Just for good measure, treat your seams. 
If your lucky enough to have a serger, you can use it and sew up side seams and treat them at the same time...Ahhh someday I shall have one!! 
But for now, this is how I do seams. For this method, you will need to allow another 1/4 inch. Before you sew up the seams with the right sides together, you sew them with the wrong sides together, trim the excess material close to the seam, and then turn the garment inside out, iron the seams flat, sew them again. You wind up with something like this.....

Moving on.......To make your bottom hem, turn your shirt inside out and fold up 1/4 inch from the bottom, press and then fold up another 3/4 inch from the bottom and sew. 

Now for the top: Grab your bias and find the top front of your shirt and fold the bias over the the material and sew it down, and do the same for the top back portion of your shirt. Trim ends and you should have something that looks like this...

I battle with how to tell you to do the rest of this. So if anyone can help me word this where it makes more sense, please help! 

Starting at the edge of the back top, and leaving 1 1/4 inch of bias, fold the bias over the material in the armpit area, take that extra 1 1/4 inch you left and thread thro a ring.

Fold the excess over the back, where the ring has only minimal room to move, pin it, and sew across the back top sew line. Using the backwards function on your machine, go over that area again, work forwards to the armpit sew line, lift foot and turn. At the end of all that, you should be here.....

Fold the bias over the material and sew along the armpit to front top. Take it off the machine but Don't cut anything!!(but the thread) 
Heres where we measure your straps: 
Take the remaining bias and thread through the ring, put shirt on and measure how much strap you want, plus 1/2 inch. Mark it, cut it, fold under that last half inch, and pin it. Measure how bias you used for this side and cut a length of bias for the other side so they both are the same size. (I used 35 inches per side)

Starting a little bit before where you left off before measuring straps, sew bias together up to ring making sure you catch the folded under part.  
Lift foot, turn sideways, sew across. 
Using backwards function again, sew back over for security, and remove from machine. Your "ring" area should look like this when finished. 

Cut extra threads and try on again just to make sure.
Repeat for other side. 

And you have your cute shirt! 

Im editing this still, this post will get better I promise!! But I wanted to get this out so I can maybe get some help.  Soooo...Again, please help me clarify stuff in this pattern. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Which one???

As y'all know from this post, Im making Sara a shawl.

Here's what I have so far.........

I have done a couple of the repeats and at the point in the leaf, you have to do a double decrease. Well I dont like how she writes it, all of them one direction, so, Im changing it. I just can't decide which one to change it I come to you guys.

In each of these pics, I've circled the area in question for no attention to my photo shop skills......
(or lack thereof). click on the picks to embiggin.

Option one: 
double decrease slanting to the right for the left side of the spine,(k2togtbl, return st to left needle and pass next st over) and to the left for the right side of the spine.(sk2p) This will make the leaves sorta look at each other. And each leaf is defined.  

Option two:
Center Double Decrease for all of them. This will make the leaves just point down, and the "spine" of each leaf wont be defined. It will just kinda blend in with the rest of the shawl.

My dilemma: Im not sure if the goal was to make the leaves defined or im just wondering what looks the best. What I do know is that both sides don't need to be going the same direction. That's just the anal knitter coming out in me. 

 So whatcha think? 

I got some peekers....

do you see the ones peeking out? (hubbs said to title this
picture  "plant life on moon" lol)

And I promise these taller bean plants weren't here yesterday. I swear I could just grab a lawn chair, a dr pepper, settle in and watch these things grow!

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Mystery Row

We got some carrots and second planting of spinach planted today, oh and yanno that pile of seeds that fall out of their packages into the bottom of whatever container you put your seeds in?

Yea, I got one.......

click the pic to see the seeds better

Any guesses as to what these seeds are?? Im thinking possibly some turnips and the big white ones are some sort of melon. 

But what do you do with your mystery seeds? 

You plant them of course! And then you get the "Mystery Row". It will be interesting to see what these actually turn out to be. 
The boy thinks this is just cool. He has dubbed this "his row". Yea we will see how long it takes him to give it back when weeds start coming up. He said this while I was reminding him about weeds: "These are old seeds so they prob won't come up anyway." He's too smart for an 8yo. 

I harvested 4 heads of lettuce today! Yes hubbs, I said "heads". (He said they wouldnt head in our climate.....)


Ive already separated and cleaned 3 heads. Im gonna leave the other one for later but they sure do look good!! Does anyone have a good recipe for wilted lettuce salad? What do yall do with your lettuce? 

Im thinking some chef salad for supper tonight! 

And on the knitting front............

Yall should check out this post by indigirl on picking up stitches....and then bookmark it for future reference like I did. Very good stuff, this post.


Saturday, June 4, 2011

Sara's Shawl (and some potatoes)

A Christmas present. 

Now dont be thinkin im all that organized that I have Christmas presents going already. Just this one, and I just started it this past week. And couple of purses Im working on for my nieces (which I need yalls help with because Im "style" challenged ) 

its the Carmen Shawlette, which I got from Patternfish

Im using Knit Picks Pallette on this and let me give a little yarn review/warning. This stuff is NOT GOOD for crocheting. I bought all this yarn for this little number and totally gave up on it, not because of the pattern (very easy), but because of the BLASTED YARN!! I decided that this yarn is only good to use for knitting. 

As it turns out, I was right. This one seems to be moving right along when I can get more than 4 stitches done before I have to get up again.........I'll keep y'all posted. 

On another note......................

Check my potatoes out!! 

I was out working in the garden this morning and..well, yanno how things sometimes kinda creep up on you? I stood up to stretch my back and caught sight of my potato patch. Ain't they purty?? Not like I haven't already been looking at it....I guess not in the morning like this.  I think its going pretty good. Had to show yall. 

Update: These potatoes have been harvested!! See this post.


Friday, June 3, 2011

Still working on it!

I have been doing some research by looking at other blogs and got some ideas as to what to do with mine.

One thing I wanted to do is get my patterns on here and make them available to you guys through here. The way some others were doing it was to just make a post about each pattern. So I am going to do that. So get ready for some pattern posts!!

Unless of course, y'all have a better idea! I kinda wanted just a list on the side of my there a way to do that?

While im asking questions....what would yall like to see for my next post?

Is there a knitting technique that y'all would love to see explained?

Im planning on doing a running theme about "Whats on my Needles". Maybe once a week.


Hello there!

My name is Melissa and I wanted to start this blog to talk about crafty stuff, (mostly knitting, but I'm unbiased) gardening, (mostly veggies, but again, not biased) cooking, canning/preserving....and well whatever else we take a notion to talk about..
I could use LOADS of help developing this site. Its seriously under construction so any and all suggestions would be more than welcome!!

I live with my son and wonderful husband on some acreage in the middle of BFE Missouri. I also have 2 daughters, one of which is in the United States Air Force(22), and the other is too young to figure out what she wants yet...(19) We grow corn, beans, kids and chickens.

Wanna be my friend?