Monday, August 31, 2015

Trick or Treat Halloween Bag

I know it's barely the first part of September, and here I am talking about Halloween. I'm old school though, so when kids go back to school {like many did this month} I'm ready to call it "autumn."  Since we had a bit of a population explosion in our family with four little ones born this year, it was time to make some more Trick or Treat Halloween Bags.

Last week I made five new bags and will show you two of them today.  I have two different patterns for Halloween bags. Today I'm featuring my ric-rac pattern.

Click here to be directed to the pattern and the tutorial...

I adore this spooky haunted house fabric that I chose for these totes. I bought it at our local Hancock Fabrics. Unfortunately, they don't offer it in their online store. The black cat with orange background fabric below is found at Hobby Lobby. There are so many cute Halloween fabrics online and in stores this time of year.

In a couple of days I'll show you some more Trick or Treat Bags in this same ric-rac pattern. I usually use this pattern for my little girl Halloween totes.

Again, if you are interested in this pattern, just click 

Friday, August 28, 2015

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Freezer Jam...

Freezer Jam.... where have you been all my life?

This last weekend we made a "quick" drive to Omaha to go to our granddaughter's princess birthday party. The next day we went with their family to Bellevue Berry and Pumpkin Ranch and picked some fresh raspberries. I was amazed at how many berries we were able to pick in short amount of time -- about three pounds!

That night after treating us to fresh raspberry shakes, my daughter and I made some freezer jam. I never really knew how easy it is to make freezer jam. It is sooo quick and easy!

I've always thought freezer jam was a step below jam made with a water bath canner, because some of the freezer jam I've eaten has had sugar crystals remaining in the jam, which doesn't taste or look that that appetizing.

To reduce the risk of this, we heated up the raspberries in the microwave for a couple of minutes before and after adding the sugar. This helped the sugar dissolve more quickly and thoroughly. Then we added the hot pectin and water mixture, which further helped the sugar dissolve into the liquid mixture.

The one thing I love {other than it being so easy to make} about freezer jam, is that it tastes so fresh. The berries haven't been cooked, so they still have that delicious just-picked flavor and their color is still vibrant! I was so inspired by our berry picking experience at my daughter's that when I saw raspberries on sale at our grocery store yesterday, I couldn't help making some freezer jam for us too. So delicious!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Bloomin' Tuesday...

Every so often I get in the mood to publish a Bloomin' Tuesday post, and I am long overdue for one. My morning glories are finally at the top of their "tepees." This area of our garden gets a lot more shade than it used to, so it's taking these climbers a lot longer to cover the plastic covered garden stakes that we use to make the tepees. I absolutely love their beautiful blueish-purple faces that greet me every morning...

Here are a couple of before and after shots of my impatiens. The first was taken from an upstairs window in our home the middle of May right after planting them...

Here they are today. They've filled in the whole area with bright blossoms...

And one more before and after. This time our birdbath that I planted with succulents in May...

Same birdbath --three months later...

I'm convinced succulents do best when they are totally ignored. 

Wishing you a happy Bloomin' Tuesday.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Garden Produce...

I've ignored my garden this year. It's not the kind of garden that takes neglect well. It's a high maintenance kind of girl. Instead of working on it a little bit every couple of days, I've had hours of work every few weeks. I prefer the "a little here, a little there method", rather than a day of backbreaking labor. Still, she's produced rather well in spite of me turning a blind eye. In early June we planted lettuce and tomatoes. I prefer planting earlier than that, but we had a really wet spring that prohibited planting earlier. We've had a bumper crop of lettuce for awhile now, and the tomatoes have been ripening the last couple of weeks.

Even though our vegetable garden is small, it produces more than enough for the two of us and enables us to keep our neighbors knee deep in greens!

Yesterday I felt ambitious and especially domestic so I made some bread, picked lettuce and tomatoes from our garden, and made BLT sandwiches for dinner. Seriously good stuff.

There's a sense of accomplishment when you can grow some of your own food.

I've decided I want to live on a little farm. "Little" being the operative word. I'd like a place out in the country where I can have chickens, a goat, a bigger garden, and fruit trees. I'd also like it to be 10 minutes away from a Super Target and Hobby Lobby.

Until then, I'll enjoy the little garden I've got
and be thankful I don't have more weeds to pull.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

French Wedding Brunch

It's been an especially busy couple of weeks as our family celebrated the marriage of our son and his beautiful bride. The last few months I've given you glimpses of plans and items we made and bought for the big occasion. Last weekend was the wondrous event, but I'm going to hold off telling you some of the details of the reception until we get back the professional photos. For now I'll just tell you that those invited to the reception traveled through San Francisco on classic cable car buses, stopping at iconic venues to sample San Francisco at its best. We were treated to tasty appetizers, clam chowder in sourdough bread bowls, and scrumptious gelato.  Below is one of our grandchildren celebrating by dancing with the bride on the Hyde Street Pier. Their joy was felt by all!

These beautiful photos are courtesy of my talented daughter, Jillian.

Early on in the planning my husband and I were asked by Justin & Meghann (our son and his fiance') if we would host a brunch after the wedding. Traditionally, a reception is held after the wedding, but in this case the reception was the day before in San Francisco and the wedding the next morning in the LDS Temple in Oakland. The wedding brunch would be the last activity in a weekend filled with events, so we wanted it to be beautiful and relaxing. The brunch was held at my sister and brother-in-law's grand home, built in 1905, just 10 minutes from the temple. The home is beautiful and has an imposing view of San Francisco and the bay, so it is the perfect backdrop for this kind of occasion.

We didn't really want the luncheon to begin before the bride and groom arrived, so I decided to make a little "tide-me-over-lunch" for the smaller kids because we knew they would be ferociously hungry the minute they approached the house. I bought these cute sacks at Michael's and filled them with a drink, applesauce, chips, fruit snacks and half a PB&J sandwich. This held them off till all the adults had gone through the buffet line. {This was a brilliant idea, if I do say so myself.}

When Meghann told me that she loved all things French, the "theme" for the brunch was born.

I called La Boulange {a restaurant & caterer in the Bay Area}, and
we designed a menu consistent with what one might order for brunch in France.
 For example, chocolate croissants...

fruit cream and lemon curd filled tartlettes...

"smoked salmon & cucumber," "apple, brie, & jam," "prosciutto & fig jam," 
and "chicken & provolone" brioche tea sandwiches...

an assortment of petite quiches --
"vegetable," "bacon & pea," and "ham & cheese"...

chocolate ganache tartlette...

mini-pastries, and an assortment of fruits, nuts & cheeses...

a "pear, walnut, & blue cheese salad" and a "hearty chef salad"...

 and macarons.

One must never forget the macarons at a French-themed brunch...

The bride's sister made this traditional French wedding cake, called a croqembouche,

and I ordered three different styled cakes to be shared among the guests.

One was chocolate cake with chocolate filling, 
another was lemon cake with raspberry filling, 
and the last was vanilla cake with salted caramel filling.
Simply beautiful and beautifully simple.

 I would highly recommend Andrea at "Cake" in Lafayette, California.
Her cakes were beautiful and absolutely delicious!
Go here to learn about the cake toppers that were bought and made for these cakes.

I love the feeling of satisfaction after a party that's gone well,
when you realize all your hard work and effort made a difference.


Friday, August 07, 2015

Friday's Fabulous Finds...

I spy with my Etsy eye some... 
cool blue and cherry red!

Clockwise, starting top left:

Have a wonderful weekend!

Monday, August 03, 2015

Wedding Dress Sash...

A few of our grandchildren visited us last week. While they were here they got to know my soon-to-be daughter-in-law, Meghann, very well. I think our nine-year-old grandson fell in love. Truly. I'm a little concerned that my son will be elbowed out of the way so our grandson can take his place the weekend of the wedding. I was telling one of my daughters about this last week, and we agreed we all have a crush on Meghann. I knew once she started talking crafts, sewing, and the like that we would get along famously. 

One of the last things Meghann had on her list to do before the wedding was to make a sash to go around her waist for her wedding dress. She saw some photos on Etsy and Pinterest of beautiful bridal sashes, but they were expensive, and she felt confident that she could make her own. At first I was going to help her, but when she was ready to begin I was busy with another project. I became her cheerleader instead as she made this gorgeous sash...

I love what she created on her own. I think the flowers are stunning. She had to get her wedding dress altered, so she had already ordered extra lace which she used on the sash as well. Some brides put the embellishment on the front of the dress, but she'll put the flowers in the back.

This beautiful sash inspires me. I think it's so special that she made it herself, and I can't wait to see it on her...