Friday, October 29, 2010

Holiday Sugar cOOkies for Generations

This has been a family favorite for generations. We especially enjoy them at Halloween and Valentine's Day.

Sugar Cookies
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
2 Tbsp cream (heavy or sour)
1 tsp vanilla 
3 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Cream the butter, sugar and egg. Add cream and vanilla. Beat in the remaining ingredients. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Roll out on a floured surface until about 1/4-1/2 inch (I like mine thick). cut into shapes. Bake at 400 F for 7-8 min. Frost when cooled completely.

The kids had a great time frosting them...and dumping frosting on them...YUM!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

How to Can Peaches

You will need:

Ladle or cup with a pouring spout
Quart Jars
A Water Bath Canner

1. Choose peaches that are ripe and sweet- as ripe as you would like to eat them fresh.
It takes about 5 peaches to fill one quart jar (so you will need about 15 pounds to make 6 quarts).
2. Prep the jars and lids
Place the jars in the dishwasher and run it on a hot rinse so they get hot and sanitized. If not you can just boil them for 10 minutes.
3. Wash and slice the peaches
Wash the peaches in cold water. Peel them. Slice them and remove the pits. You can either can them as halves or slices.

4. Bring the syrup to a light boil and remove from heat
I pack my peaches in a light syrup. Sugar helps improve flavor, stabilize color and retain  the shape of the fruit.

Syrup Recipe (yields 6 quarts)
2 cups sugar + 6 cups water = 7 cups of syrup

5. Fill the jars
Remove the hot jars from the dishwasher and fill them with the fresh sliced fruit. Pour hot syrup over the fruit and fill until there is only a 1/2 inch headspace (1/2 inch to the top of the jars rim). Remove any air bubbles with a wooden or plastic spoon (do not use metal). Wipe the rim of the jar, add the lid and screw on a band.

 6. Process the jars in a hot water bath
Put the jars in the canner and covered them with water. Boil for 20-35 minutes depending on altitude (we are at 6000 ft and I did them for 30 minutes).

7. Remove and cool
Remove jars from water and cool. Gently press the center of each lid to make sure it sealed before storing in a cool, dark dry place.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Motivational School Charts

This week has been the most organized and productive of the year! I'm thinking my new motivational charts must be, well...motivational.

The charts have two purposes. First, they provide a weekly goal for each child to meet. It is so much easier to reach a goal that you can visualize. Second, they provide an automatic reward for their hard work. After a lesson is completed each child gets to stamp that day's box on the chart and review their accomplishments.

I made the charts pictorial so they would be more fun. Then I bought a bunch of little prizes to fill a prize box. When they complete the chart for the week they get a prize. This week they finished their work in just 2 days allowing more time to play with cousins and do some hands-on activities.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Ode to the favorite chicken...

The night before we left for Texas our dear Snowball died of natural causes.

To the chicken that was kind and did nothing but quack,
To the chicken that hobbled and let us rub her back.
Sorry you were *stabbed by a naughty two year old,
Remember in his eyes you were better than gold.

*The stabbing was with a letter opener when she was just two days old. She survived it but suffered some ill effects.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Making a Renaissance Corset with Boning

David and Cam are getting married at the Texas Renaissance Festival in just a week. I have spent the last three weeks sewing dresses and vests for the occasion. The most time consuming was a corset with boning. This could have been way easier and taken about half the time if I had understood what I was doing.

Here are some pictures of my corset in progress:
Corset front and back layed together

Cut the pieces to make the two layers of the corset. Sew them so that you have two separate corsets. Line them up and lay them on top of each other.
Paths to hold boning

Sew lines from the top of the corset to the bottom, creating a path for the boning to run through. Cut your boning and round the edges. Slide all the boning pieces into place.
Baste edges to keep boning in place

Baste the top and bottom edges of the corset to keep the boning in place (some types of boning can be sewn right over- this keeps them from shifting).
Corset almost done

This is the corset before the finishings.
At this point, you can simply add the binding and grommets to be done.

To cover the corset with a fancy fabric:
Pieces for top corset layer
Cut the pieces to make another layer. Piece them together. Lay front piece over the corset and baste into place.
Putting grommets on the corset
Now you can add the binding and grommets. The binding is supposed to be hand sewn, but I don't believe in hand-sewing anything other than a button. The grommets are much easier to insert if you have a grommet hole punch. The longer metal tool laying on the wood block is one that I bought for scrapbooking- it saved me LOTS of time on this project.

I will post pictures of us all decked out when I get home from the wedding.

As we say in Guatemala... Nos Vemos!