Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Jam Good Time

I realize that there a lot of posts out there on how to make jam but I wanted to share a few of my, well let's just call them calculated mistakes. I am a Splenda junkie, now I know there is some controversy on Splenda but I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it. With that said I was wanted to make a low sugar/no sugar jam that everyone in my family could enjoy whether they can't have sugar or they are anti-Splenda. I found this great pectin that said on the package "No Sugar Needed Fruit Pectin" which was exactly what I was looking for. I started by picking 4 quarts of strawberries from a local farm that had pick-your-own. I was a bit late in the season but I managed to find the ripest, freshest strawberries left in the well picked patch.

I started by capping (cutting the green top off) the strawberries and mashing them with a potato mashed until they reached the chunkiness I like in my jam.

Once I had the strawberries all mashed up I turned to the directions on the package for freezer jam because I think that it taste so much fresher from the freezer. After reading the directions on the package I saw this little box in the corner and after looking at it I realized it was guidelines for adding sugar… hmmm. So I decided I was going to try the honey substitution and then I made a few batches with no sugar. I ended up making A LOT more jam then expected but I am very excited to have strawberry jam in January. A few tips from my experience in jam making.
  1. Clean and dry all your jars/containers before starting the cooking process.
  2. Follow the directions exactly, including the exact amounts of ingredients.
  3. Fill the jars, leaving ½" for expansion in the freezer.
  4. Clean the rim with a damp cloth to allow for the best seal to keep in the freshness
  5. KEY TIP!!!! Only make ONE (1) batch at a time. Doubling the recipe could prevent the jam from setting properly.
  6. ENJOY!

Happy Jamming!

Sammy Gene

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Hedgey Hedge-Hog

I know this one is late but I have been a bit preoccupied with an addition to our family… Stella our newest family member is quite a handful and needs lots of playtime and attention.

So on with the crafty post. The past few holidays I have struggled with what to get my nephew because he isn't at that age where he needs/wants cool toy or toys that his mommy wouldn't appreciate (they come later when he has full range to bang and make a racket).  I decided that I was going to start using my crafty skills to create a gift for him that was age appropriate.  After skimming through mountains of blogs I found the cutest pattern for a stuffed hedge-hog at Matsutake.  I have never made a stuffed animal before but I was sure that this one was manageable and could be done in a reasonable timeframe before Easter (I know this is overdue but it is good for anytime).

You need:
Sewing machine
½ yard soft snuggly fabric
Matching thread

The first thing I did was print trace the pattern. I found it much easier to lay my lap top on its back and trace the image right off the screen. Please Please Please be super careful when doing this I wouldn't want any screen destruction to happen per my instructions. Next trace and cut two body pieces and one bottom piece. Then you want to cut the ruffle strips. I cut four 1-inch by 24-inches strips of fabric and four 1-inch by 12-inches strips. Once you have all the pieces to the puzzle you are ready to sew.

First you want to sew the two body pieces together, outsides facing in, leaving a 1/16 hem. Next you want to sew the bottom on. Now this was the tricky part and I had to visualize it a few different ways. You know how they say measure twice cut once, well it is the same with sewing.

Once you get the bottom on, stuff the little guy, and sew the stuffing hole shut, you are ready to move onto the ruffles.

Sew a running stitch (loose long stitch) down the middle of the strip. Sew all eight strips this way. After all your strips have running stitches you want to pull the loose string creating as much ruffle as you desire. I used the stuffed body to gauge how long I needed the ruffles. Tie a knot at both ends of the ruffle to secure. The last step is to sew the ruffles on. I secured the ruffles on with pins and hand stitched the ruffles on. Add eyes and a nose with black thread or small buttons (I did not use buttons due to the age of Baby B).

Isn't he sooooooo cute. P.S. his onesie says "My Aunt Rocks"… that's me!!!

Happy Sewing!

Sammy Gene