Saturday, November 30, 2013

Cutting Evergreens for Decoration

Well, Thanksgiving is past and I have a good start on my Christmas decorations.  Every year I try to cut back a little and not get so stressed out.  Thank goodness I can depend on my daughters for gift ideas for the kids.  Half the time I don't have a clue what the older kids are asking for.  My granddaughter saw my phone and said "I see you upgraded to OS7".  I asked her how she knew that and she said "it looks entirely different".  It looks almost the same to me.

The Saturday after Thanksgiving is a day my daughters come out to our house to cut evergreens.  They get a variety to decorate their homes.  We have a little bit of everything from cedar to soft white pine.  It was a pleasant day with temperatures in the 40's.  I think we need some snow to make it feel more like Christmas.

Heather cutting greens for decoration.

She didn't bring the pickup truck this year, but she filled the trunk.

Sarah sent a photo of the first project.  She just needs a bow.

After lunch the kids went out to play.  They went for a walk in the woods, played football and played with the dog.  Piper got quite a workout.  I bet she is tired tonight.

Playing outside with Piper.

See the shovel on one side of the garage door and a rake on the other.  You never know which you will need around here.

Piper waiting patiently for someone to chase.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Jellied Cranberry Sauce

It is recipe Tuesday.  Since it's Thanksgiving week, I will post a new recipe that I am trying this year.
My family doesn't like regular cranberry sauce.  They like the sauce in the shape of a can.  I just open
the can and plop it out.  This year is going to be different.  Canned jellied cranberry sauce has high fructose corn syrup plus more corn syrup.  I had to find a recipe to make my own.

I found a website that had a pressure cooker recipe because I make most of my meals in a pressure cooker.   It was easy, but makes a big batch.  More than we need.  I also used my vitamix blender instead of a food mill.  There weren't any seeds or skins left but I put it through a mesh strainer just to be sure.  Here is the web address to give credit to her.

I put it in a jello mold but I won't know if it unmolds properly until Thursday. I had this mold in the shape of a leaf.   If it doesn't, it tastes very good, and we will just use a spoon.

This photo from the website put it in cute turkey shaped molds.

 Cranberry Jelly
  • 2 bags (12 oz each) fresh cranberries, about 6 cups
  • 1 cup apple juice
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 tablespoons liquid pectin
  1. Wash and pick over cranberries. Add the cranberries and apple juice to the pressure cooking pot.
  2. Select High Pressure and 5 minutes cook time. When timer sounds, turn pressure cooker off and use a quick pressure release. When valve drops, carefully remove the lid.
  3. Pour the cooked cranberries in a food mill over a large bowl to separate the cranberry juice from the skins and seeds. (You could also use a blender to puree the berries and then use a strainer to strain the skin and seeds.) Rinse out and dry the pressure cooking pot.
  4. Put the cranberry juice back in the pressure cooking pot and add the sugar and the liquid pectin. Select saute and bring the mixture to a boil. Boil one minute. Remove the pressure cooking pot from the pressure cooker.
  5. Allow mixture to cool slightly and then pour jelly in to a bowl or molds. Chill until set.
  6. To unmold, dip mold in warm water for 5 seconds, then invert jelly onto platter. (I turned them out on to a Silpat.)
If you don't have a pressure cooker, cook on the stove for 10 to 15 minutes until cranberries have softened and popped.

*This recipe turned out great.  It is definitely a keeper.  My daughters ask me to make it again.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Our Yellow Finches

Today was a quiet day.  My husband has a bad cold, so he is laying low for a few days.  He wants to feel better before Thanksgiving Day.  I made a kettle of Chicken Soup and put in extra onions and garlic.  That should help. 

I checked the trail camera, and I didn't see our big buck but all the other deer are still safe and sound.  In fact, our doe brought her friend again.  As I was sitting watching the birds, I noticed they were very busy.  In the summer we have a hummingbird feeder hanging with suction cups on the window.  In the winter, I hang another feeder.  This year a feeder with finch food in it.  The birds are so close it's like having a pet bird in a cage without having to change the newspaper.  Today the finches were taking turns with the nuthatches.  I saw these two finches, and they looked like very good friends having a conversation.

In this picture it looks like he is whispering in her ear.

Here he is saying "Do you understand what I'm saying?"

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Knitted Headband Ear Warmer

Last week I saw a wide headband ear warmer for sale.  It was really cute, and they are popular right now.  My daughters both asked me if I could make them one.  Rather than reinvent the wheel, I went online and searched for a pattern.  I found a blog post with a pattern.  I asked permission to post the pattern and she allowed me to do so.

I decided to dig in my yarn stash to see if I had some yarn to make a sample headband.  I found a ball of bulky yarn that I thought I could use.  I basically followed the pattern for the thick yarn version, and this is what I came up with.

I had Heather try it on to see if it fit.   The flower can go in either side.

Next I needed to find some yarn in a color that would match better.  Our options are so limited where we live, but I found some chunky yarn to try.  I wanted to see how that would work.  I modified the pattern a little.  Instead of increasing to 23 stitches, I increased to 19 stitches.  It didn't stretch as much, so I made it an inch longer before the decrease.  It is a little bulky but it looks fine.  Next I will try a regular worsted weight yarn in a double strand.  These headband work up really fast, so I can try different yarns until I'm satisfied with it.

I tried another headband with worsted weight yarn.  I used Caron brand Simply Soft paints.  Rainbow Brights was the color.  It seemed a little thinner than some worsted yarn, so I used three strands for the band and two strands for the flower.  It turned out almost the same size as the one I made with chunky yarn.  Being able to use this type of yarn increases the color choices and availability for me.

Sarah and Melissa in their new headbands.