July 10, 2009

Spring Pillows

Well, I'm glad I showed you an update on my vegetable garden just the other day because we got a HUGE thunderstorm that rolled in at 3:30 AM last night that left my garden looking rather mangled. I think it will all spring back, but it is surely in no photogenic state! I do have a little ripe cucumber that looks like it will be ready to be picked in the next day or so. I'm very excited about that.

Here I go making an awkward transition from gardens to living rooms. I hope you'll stay with me. I've been making some small tweaks to my living room decor. Here's what our living room has looked like since we moved in 2.5 years ago.

I still love the blues, greens and browns. But, the rug was starting to get to me. I'm discovering that I'm the type of person that needs variety and needs it often. I kept feeling like the rug was hindering me from changing out the pillows, accessories, etc. because it was hard to coordinate with.

So, I guess a couple of months ago I just came to the conclusion that I would remove the rug altogether and maybe save my pennies and purchase a more neutral one for the living room. I picked out some fabrics online that coordinated with our room colors, but not necessarily the rug, that I used for pillow covers. I bought fabrics that we will use for spring/summer pillows and another set that we will use for fall. I'll just show you the spring/summer ones now. And, when I redecorate in the fall I'll show you the others.

I used a very simple tutorial for pillow covers - adding an extra 1/2 inch to each side to accommodate the "edging." I ended up having a few old pillows in the house that I could recover, so there was no need for pillow inserts. Here are the spring/summer pillows. The fabric is Amy Butler's Lime Tree Peony and Full Moon Polka Dot:

Here is the new room (minus a rug):

After Jesse got over the initial shock of a lack of rug in the living room (I happened to remove it one evening while he was away, which resulted in him waking me up at 3 AM when he got home to discuss it) and after he made fun of me for sewing 10 pillows covers in one week (which cluttered the living room and dining room tremendously for a long time) he seems to like the change too. Whew.

July 8, 2009

Eat Your Veggies (Part IV)

Photo courtesy of Martha Stewart Living, May 2008

Time for a veggie garden update. After A LOT of weeding last weekend here is what my garden looks like now. I was able to pick a green bean from the plant and eat it. It tasted a little like it needed to stay on the plant for another week or so. (Whatever that tastes like.) So I left the others there. Hopefully we can enjoy them next week with dinner.

The pumpkin is the plant near the front. It is huge! This is from just one pumpkin seed. I can't believe it. I was warned about the potential size from many people, but chose to ignore them and try it out for myself. Turns out they were right.

The beautiful flowers behind my garden are my neighbor's. She does a delightful job with those beauties. I'm so glad we get to enjoy them. In fact, she let me pick some of those white snowballs just this week to bring into the house. Yay!

Here's my first tomato! So far, so good.

July 6, 2009

Strawberry Jam

This one starts with a new years resolution. In the last couple of years I've been trying to keep my resolutions simple so that I actually feel like I accomplished something by the end of the year. For 2009 my resolution was to . . . pick berries and make jam. I should say right now - if this is all I accomplished in a year then all of you reading this have the right to come to my house and kick my rear end. And, especially, if that's the excuse you need to visit then I will welcome it.

I started this adventure by inviting a friend of mine and her kids to join me in picking strawberries. We chose a lovely farm nearby, and of course, got lost on the way! It took us nearly an hour to get there.

Her youngest, Luke, is 18 months and especially enjoyed picking the berries and squeezing them between his fingers. I don't think my friend even attempted to get the stains out of his clothing!

The picking went quickly. But, it was a little hot outside so our time concluded with meltdowns from both kids. But, by that time our boxes were as full as we needed them to be anyway. Success.

I came home with 11 pounds of strawberries costing $1.47 per pound. I cut up one pound and divided them into sandwich bags to freeze. That way when the margarita urge comes my way I can just grab a bag from the freezer and throw it in my blender. I cut up another 1/2 pound to just put in the refrigerator to graze on.

A couple of days later I gathered some canning supplies and hoped to make jam with the rest of the berries.

There is a strawberry jam that sticks out in my memory from my childhood. I wonder if Em remembers it too? Our pastor's wife made the most wonderful jam. She used to stockpile it in the freezer and pull it out for Sunday lunches. It occurred to me that it probably wouldn't be difficult to find a similar recipe and make some of my own.

Then, serendipitously, House on Hill Road (one of my favorite blogs) posted about her strawberry jam making process. I love it when that happens. I ended up using her recipe and made 12 jars of my own.

Boy, does it have a lot of sugar in it. But, it is so good! Just in case you're at my house (you know . . . in case I'm spending far too much time on the couch and you need to kick my rear end) be sure to grab some jam on the way out the door. You'll be glad you did.

Faribault Flowers

This one is really for Mom. Just wanted to show you how happy my flowers are on the front porch.

Jesse convinced me to buy the terracotta pot rather than a black flower pot. I'm loving it. So simple. So classic. He tends to be right when it comes to those kinds of decisions. I better keep trusting him.