Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Friday, June 25, 2010
What did I do? I managed to put a sewing machine needle almost all the way through my left index finger. I was working on some embroidery, set up the machine, and after I'd pressed "start," one of my wonderful children distracted me. It was just for an instant, but it was long enough for me to move my finger into the path of a very fast-moving needle. It broke off of the machine when I jerked my hand away.
I looked around my desk for a moment, searching for the broken needle, before I realized it was lodged in my fingernail. It went down through the middle, across at an angle, and almost out the other side. I could feel where it was, and the needle was maybe an eighth of an inch from going completely through my finger. Yeah. Yowch!
A 911 call, three police cars, several MP's with guns drawn, one very good friend to pick up the kids, and one ambulance later, I was on my way to the hospital. It actually wasn't a very big deal to get the "foreign object" out. They X-rayed my finger to be sure I hadn't pierced the bone first, and once it was determined that I had not, the doctor gave me a couple of shots in the finger to numb it and yanked that bad boy out. My finger is now wrapped in layers and layers of gauze until Monday, and bathing myself and the kids is going to be interesting for the next couple of days, but otherwise, it should be fine. I have antibiotics to keep it from getting infected, and I got an update on my tetanus shot out of the experience, too.
What have I learned? There are occupational hazards to sewing, and from now on, I will only work when the kids are napping or asleep for the night. No more distractions!
A couple of months ago, I finally got a handle on the wall over the couch. You can see it here.
A little while after that, I invested in some curtain panels from Wal-Mart. That's right, Wal-Mart. I had to order them, because the store doesn't stock the longer length. Want to see the ones I got? Click here. As an added bonus, they're energy efficient.
Around the same time, I ordered some green ticking stripe fabric to make shades for the living room. We have some lovely metal mini-blinds that I'd rather not look at every day. They're just one more layer of white-ness. Also, the living room has four windows, and our loveseat is pushed up under two of them. I didn't feel like the long drapes would look right there, so I've put the shades on all four windows and the curtains on two. The fabric shades serve the purpose of tying everything together. I'm posting pictures even though they're not completely finished. I think I want to put dowels in the bottoms, roll them up a little, and secure them with some cream ribbon. I just haven't found the right ribbon yet.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Monday, June 21, 2010
Friday, June 18, 2010
I got this in the mail today, and I'm feeling a bit wistful. We're about to start the process of having a big girl bed built for Neely, so I went ahead and ordered part of her bedding. Don't even bother trying to read that price sticker. I got it on eBay and didn't spend half what the quilt alone should've cost. ;)
Anyway, I can hardly believe that it's time to put away the crib for good. I will probably most definitely cry. Her birthday is still three months away, and I'm already having a hard time with the fact that my baby is going to be two years old. Where is all the time going???
Find the positive, Audra. Okay. Regrouping. The positive? I have a new project to work on. Neely's room - the big girl version.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Monday, June 14, 2010
Voila! And the giveaway winner is...
Friday, June 11, 2010
All you need for this is jars, the canning equipment I've listed out in Part One and Part Two, fresh berries, water, sugar, and a saucepan.
First, make a sugar syrup to preserve the berries in. I used light syrup for mine (2 cups sugar + 1 quart water), but in hindsight, I probably should have used a medium syrup (3 cups sugar + 1 quart water), since my blueberries floated to the top of the jar. The heavier the syrup, the less likely it is that your fruit will float. To make the sugar syrup, simply combine the necessary amounts of water and sugar in a saucepan, heat, and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved.
Pack your jars with fruit. (Remember, the jars need to be sterilized and kept hot.) I filled mine to just under the rims. The berries cook and shrink a little during the canning process.
Now, using a funnel, add sugar syrup to the jars. Again, you can get them pretty full since the fruit shrinks in the hot water bath.
Add the lids and rings, then place jars in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. Voila! Preserved berries. I'll be glad to be able to use mine once we switch to the maintain mode of this dieting mess.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Monday, June 7, 2010
Jars (with the coordinating rings and lids, of course)– the recipe calls for seven 8-ounce jars. I used four 16-ounce jars.
- Sterilize your jars. Your dishwasher may have a cycle that can do this step for you. If not, first wash your jars, lids and rings in hot, soapy water. Dry the rings, and place the lids in a small bowl of super hot water. Drop the jars down into one of your stock pots, fill it with water, and set it on the stove to boil. Leave the jars in there until you’re ready to fill them up. Those babies need to stay hot.
- Put that small plate in the freezer. Don’t ask questions. Just stick it in there. J
- Measure the 7 cups of sugar into a medium-sized bowl.
- Using the potato masher, mash 5 cups of blackberries. Get some elbow grease in there. It takes a few minutes to get ‘em good and soupy.
- Set up your canning area. I like to lay out a towel, to put the jars on when I get them out of that hot water to fill them. I keep my lids and rings right by the towel. You’ll also want your jar lifter or tongs nearby, along with your canning funnel, spatula, and ladle.
- Set up your jamming area, too. I put all my ingredients (blackberries, Sure-Jell, sugar) within arm’s reach of my jam pot, because you’ll be stirring it constantly.
- Dump those soupy blackberries into a large pot. Turn the heat on high. Slowly add Sure-Jell, and stir constantly until the mixture boils.
- Add the sugar. Yes, all of it. Just dump it in there. And stir, by the way. Stir, stir, stir. Keep stirring until this mixture boils. Once it boils, turn it down to low.
- Using a slotted spoon, skim any foam off the top of the mixture.
- Get that plate out of the freezer. Scoop about a teaspoon of the jam mixture onto the plate, and put it back in the freezer. Set a timer for two minutes. At the end of two minutes, check to see if your jam has gelled correctly. If it has, the surface of the jam will wrinkle when you push your finger into it from the edge. If it doesn’t wrinkle, crank the pot back up, boil the jam for five more minutes, then try the test again. (And if you’re me, take this opportunity to lick the teaspoon and taste your delicious jam!)
- Using tongs or jar lifter, remove jars from the hot water bath and place on a towel.
- Fill the jars with jam. As I said before, a canning funnel comes in really handy here. This was actually the first time I’ve done any canning with one, and I loved it. Anyway, leave 1/4 inch headspace between the top of the jam and where the underside of the lid will be.
- Using a clean, damp cloth, wipe any stray jam from the rim of each jar and from the threads where the ring will screw on.
- Place lids on top of jars, then screw rings onto the jars. They only need to be fingertip tight. You can tighten them more later, when they’re not so hot.
- Put the jars back into the canner, making sure that there is about an inch of water covering the jars.
- Boil for 10 minutes.
- Remove jars and place back on towel to cool for at least 12 hours. You should start hearing those lids pop after just a few minutes. If ten minutes goes by and they haven’t all sucked down like they’re supposed to, put those jars back in the hot water bath for a few minutes and try again.
- Once they’ve cooled, you should be able to keep unopened jam in a cool, dark place for up to a year. I’m afraid mine will probably be eaten long before a year is up.
Sunday, June 6, 2010
Friday, June 4, 2010
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
It’s time to come clean. That isn’t exactly the best way to start a blog post, is it? I do, however, feel like I should admit what has been consuming my time and thoughts for the last couple of weeks. I’ve been terrified to talk about, because if I put it out there, you’ll hold me accountable to it.
I’ve started a new diet. I really don’t like that term, though. Diet. It just sounds negative and oppressive, not to mention that dull ache of hunger it induces in my stomach.
Let’s try again. I’m trying to change my overall attitude about food consumption and make healthier choices. Yikes, that doesn’t really sound great either. Too bad. I’m sticking with it.
Three weeks ago, while visiting family, I stepped on a scale for the first time in nearly a year. That’s right, a year. Aidan broke ours, and we just never got around to replacing it. The number that stared back at me horrified me. It was only a few pounds shy of what I weighed the day Neely was born, you know, when I was nine months pregnant. The fact that all of last summer’s clothes were fitting a little snug should have been a clue.
Needless to say, it was time for a change. Upon returning home, I purchased a new scale and got to work. I plugged my height, weight, and goals into a handy dandy application for my phone and started calorie counting and focusing on eating more produce, whole grains, and less processed food. I’ve also quit drinking sodas altogether. And I started jogging. (Oh, my aching legs!)
It’s working. I noticed after only a few days that I felt different, less bloated. I think a lot of my poor eating choices were causing me to retain water. My goal has been to lose two pounds a week, and for the last two weeks, I have succeeded.
The next step I’d like to take is to join a gym and get some advice on how to tone things up. We have a lot of things planned this week, so that may not happen until next week, but it’s definitely on the to-do list.
So now that I’ve shared with you, I have to keep it up, right? ;)
Here are a few websites I’ve been using to find recipes and inspiration…