Jamming in the Kitchen!

I got up early Saturday morning and decided I wanted to make jam. I make my Christmas presents every year and decided I’d like to add jam into the baskets this year. The two Farmers Markets in Sparks are on Tuesday morning and Thursday afternoon, so I drove over to the one on California Avenue in Reno. Bought a flat of strawberries and four baskets of blueberries. Figured that would be a good start!

Blueberries went off without a hitch…made 7 – 8oz jars.

Then came the strawberries. All was well until the last minute of boiling! Gonna need a bigger pot! AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!!

Luckily I only had 3 feet to carry the pot over to the butcher’s block (I did leave a trail of strawberries on the wood floor) to pour the mixture into the jars…I knew that I would NOT have strawberry jam, probably strawberry syrup, but I was not going to waste anything by throwing it out. I ended up with 10 – 8oz jars of strawberry goop. Sunday morning I opened up a jar and put it on our whole wheat pancakes…OH MY GOODNESS! It was very tasty! And it wasn’t as syrupy as I thought it would be. Good save, if I say so myself! 🙂 Unfortunately, my stovetop did not fair too well. That large crescent on the right side somehow etched itself into the ceramic top. Boo Hoo! 😦

I have lots of peppers growing in the garden so my next canning project will be to make Hot Pepper Jam. I also would like to make either peach, plum, or orange marmalade jam.

After the Farmer’s Market I went to a couple of yard sales in the area and lookie what I found! The cutest wooden sewing machine!

And three hardback books of Selected Journals of L.M. Montgomery ~ the lady had bought them at Prince Edward Island.

Sunday morning while picking some squash I was admiring said peppers and just happened to look over at the green beans. I have beans! Went inside to grab the colander and started to pick green beans…then saw the black beans were there too. Picked enough for dinner that night and a bag to give to my mom. So dinner was bbq-d chicken breast with steamed beans (which I then lightly sauteed them with two strips of bacon) and extra-sourdough bread.

I picked lots of carrots…needed to thin them so the rest of them will grow bigger. Ate a bunch right then and there and brought in a gallon bag-full to work. They are VERY GOOD! Also had two funky looking cucumbers.

Garden Life, Yard Sale Finds & Family

Some more favorite things ~

My garden, as most of you all know, I just love. Especially finding veggies growing!

And pumpkin vines! Also Pea vines…actually any vines! I love how they curl and attach themselves.

Sunflowers and their sun worshipping…I love how the plant follows the sun…can’t wait for the flower to bloom and watch it migrate. A trio of pictures follows…morning sun, mid-day sun, and evening.

I was pulling weeds when I yanked one up and had a blast of Chamomile up the nose! Took a REAL look at it and exclaimed “that IS Chamomile!” What the?! I took the plant out back and put it in a container until I found my wildflower book. Sure enough ~ Wild Chamomile! I’m going to replant it near my rhubarb plants when I get home tonight…it’s being kept company in the small garden box at the moment.

The many faces of Hannah, my niece ~ we were at the Sparks Marina for lunch on Friday.

Finally…yard sales. They weren’t all that great this weekend, but I did pick up a bunch of books for a quarter each at the Sparks Methodist Rummage sale.

Tyler Florence’s Tyler Ultimate Cookbook
I am Morgan le Fay by Nancy Springer
Because of Winn-Dixie by DiCamillo
Shadow of Shaniko by Clamity Jan (signed copy)
ColorVision by Joe Marvullo
Greenwater – Death Valley’s Greatest Copper Camp
20 Mule Team Days in Death Valley
The Worst Best Halloween Ever by Barbara Robinson

And for 50 cents each ~ three cds ~

Clannad’s Anam
Sarah McLachlan’s Music That Matters To Her
Ken Burn’s The Civil War soundtrack.

Willy Vlautin ~ Northline & The Motel Life

My husband doesn’t read books much due to an old eye injury when he was a kid (dirt clod in the left eye, now has a man-made lens) ~ so when he finds a book that he actually sits down to read, I get pretty excited.

Last year I read an article about Willy Vlautin, an author who is a Reno native and now resides in Portland, OR, and his new book at that time,The Motel Life. Read the article to my husband and off we went to buy the book. He loved it. I can’t comment about it myself, as I haven’t read it yet…so here is the Booklist’s write-up:

Author Vlautin, a member of the critically acclaimed alt-country band Richmond Fontaine, has crafted a beautifully artless first novel. It tells the story of Frank and Jerry Lee Flannigan, who are on the run because of a hit-run-and-run accident in which Jerry Lee was involved. Eschewing compound sentences and even similes, Vlautin illuminates the lives of two decent young men from Reno who have been dealt a very bad hand; their mother died when they were teens, and their father, a thief and an inveterate gambler, left years before. They live in down-at-the-heels motels, drink too much, and work at dead-end jobs. Jerry Lee is a self-described “loser”–but with a conscience. He fails at suicide occasioned by grief, but Frank is there, inventing naive stories to keep him going. It’s as ineffably sad as a lyric by Willie Nelson, but it’s also a richly compassionate and sweetly sad meditation on what Billy Clyde Puckett in Dan Jenkins’ Semi-Tough (1972) called “life itsownself.” If there’s any justice, anywhere, The Motel Life will be widely read and widely admired. Thomas Gaughan

Over the weekend I read another article that Willy has a brand new book out and will be at Sundance Book store for an autograph signing and might possibly play his guitar too. He is part of the group Richmond Fontaine ~ which by the way, is a great band! After buying Willy’s new book, Northline, we popped the accompanying cd and listened. It’s an acoustic cd that is absolutely wonderful! Great music to read to…or in my case, putz in the garden to.

Taken from Richmond Fontaine's Blog:

Northline ~ Timorous, twentysomething Allison Johnson is pregnant. She didn’t complete high school and has worked as a waitress for several years. She often gets drunk and quickly passes out and then writes herself letters that shriek her lack of worth. But her biggest fear is of Jimmy Bodie, her abusive, budding-skinhead boyfriend. So she leaves Las Vegas and moves to Reno. She gives her son up for adoption, begins waitressing again, and has imaginary conversations with actor Paul Newman that help her carry on. Vlautin uses the same strikingly spare and simple prose in Northline that distinguised his critically acclaimed first novel, The Motel Life (2007). His essential subject, decent people enduring difficult lives, also remains the same, but here he takes a giant step in his growth as a novelist, plumbing much deeper into the emotional core of his characters. Northline recalls a dust-jacket blurb on an early edition of John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men: “Two hours to read, 20 years to forget.” —Thomas Gaughan, Booklist

Tuesday, May 20th 6:30pm
Sundance Books
1155 West 4th Street #106
Reno, NV

Sundance is delighted to welcome back Reno native Willy Vlautin to read from his latest novel, Northline. He may also break out the guitar and play a few numbers from Northline’s accompanying CD.

Well…my husband now has two autographed books and really enjoyed himself with the reading and music.

Lots of New Books! Metalcrafts, Quilting & Jewelry

Oooohhh!  A VERY HAPPY DAY is  getting books in the mail!  And I received a lot yesterday!  Five books for $25 ~ that included the shipping.

THE BORDER WORKBOOK by Janet Kime.  Easy Speed-Pieced and Foundation-Pieced Borders ~ 10ty Anniversary Edition.  2006.

I normally just add sashing type or flying geese borders to my quilts ~ so I picked this one hoping it would inspire me to add prettier borders to my future quilts! 🙂 The borders included are ~ Easy Braid, Log Cabin Spiral, Flying Geese, Tilted X, Kitty Faces, Eeek! Mice!, Spinning Stars, Sawtooth, Double Sawtooth, Stacked Strips, Checkerboard, Paw Prints, Stacked Bricks, Squares on Point, Beads on a String, Small Dogtooth, Large Dogtooth, Folded Ribbon, Shaded Squares, Arrows, Zigzag, Side-by-Side Hearts, Vertical Hearts, Speed-Pieced Braid, Diamonds and Accordion Pleats.

From what I’ve seen by just flipping through the book ~ Nice layout and easy to read instructions.

SIMPLY BEAUTIFUL BEADED JEWELRY by Heidi Boyd. 50 Quick and Easy Projects. 2006.

This is a nice book ~ easy to read layout with good introduction on findings, materials, tools and techniques. But it probably isn’t a book I would have bought if I was able to thumb through it at a bookstore. Very good book for a beginner ~ I’m not a beginner. I may pass this one onto my my sister and my soon-to-be 8 year old niece to use.

I picked the right one as this book is loaded with good ideas and tips. Lots of pictures and very good directions and explanations. This book is mainly for lead-free low temp soldering ~ if you are jumping right into silversmithing you may want to skip this, but then maybe you wouldn’t. As I said…great foundation of learning this art. It would make the transition into using silver easier, me thinks…

Introduction has Project Tools and Materials ~ tool setup, glass cutting area, soldering tools, tools for beading, finishing tools, soldering materials, bead materials, art materials. A few words about safety. Lots of projects.

METAL CLAY THE COMPLETE GUIDE by Jackie Truty. Innovative Techniques to Inspire Any Artist. 2007.

Not really sure why I picked this book up other than the fact that it fascinates me that metal clay can look like traditional silver and gold jewelry! I may play with this later on down the road.

With metal clay there is no initial preparation with wax, no sprues, no investment, no burn-out, no melting of metals, no vacuum or centrifugal casting. If you prefer, there’s no soldering of any kind. Molding, carving, drying, sanding, firing and polishing metal clay are the only steps involved. Best of all, everything in metal clay prior to firing is recyclable into more clay and paste, ready for reuse. That’s not to say that mastering metal clay techniques is easy, but the time, money and product investments are far less than those associated with traditional metalworking.

HOME & GARDEN METALCRAFTS by Jana Ewy. Included 15 easy-to-make Projects. 2002.

This is one of the books that Sue of Perpetualplum sent me with a bunch of others in trade for soaps.

I’ll be using this book ~ lots of great ideas for outdoor artwork, lamps and other stuffus made of copper.

I Played Hooky Yesterday!

Didn’t even tell my husband…got up at the regular 4:30 am, got dressed…but then said I was going to eat breakfast at home instead of at work.  Then he left for work and I got back into my sweats and dug out my butters and oils to make a batch of soap!  Hee!    He had no clue…I hate when he knows I have a day off as I always end up running HIS errands and never get anything done that I took the day off for in the first place.

So!  I made cold processed Raspberry Lemonade Salt bars and I had an order for Oatmeal Milk and Honey solid lotions and two regular lotions ~ finished all by 8:30 am. 

Here is the Raspberry Lemonade salt soap bars (the box that my friend Sue mailed books in made an EXCELLENT soap mold!) before cutting them.  These have to be cut sooner than my regular soap as coconut oil and salt make for a harder bar.  I used coarse Dead Sea Salts and fine Pacific Sea Salt in this batch ~ along with colloidal oatmeal.  The oils used were Sunflower, Castor, Jojoba, Palm & Coconut.  Butters used were Shea, Cocoa and Mango.  Then I swirled with ultramarine pink.  Berry Berry Pretty if I say so myself!  Smells great too.   This will be ready in about 3 weeks…they cure faster then the regular soap.

I made my first salt bar last year and used Pineapple fragrance oil…came out pretty good. Just couldn’t sell any of it ~ which is ok as I make all my soaps as if I’m the only one going to use it. That way if it doesn’t sell, I’m happy as can be using it. I love the salt bar in the shower…makes my skin nice and soft. Doing wonders on my face too…those “monthly” pimples are gone gone gone! I hate being 41 with pimples! Patooey! 🙂

After 1/2 hour on the elliptical I headed to the Sparks Library to check some silvermithing books that Sue of PERPETUALPLUM recommended for me to read…found those, plus another that looked really interesting.

Speaking of Sue…she sent me four books in trade for some of my soaps, lip balms and room sprays. Received those in Monday’s mail. I really like the metal crafts book…will probably pass on the Tinwork books.

Anyone still do puzzles?! They are so addicting ~ like eating a whole bowl of popcorn. Started one Monday night and worked on it yesterday too. This one is a Charles Wysocki puzzle ~ Hellraisers on Halloween Night…my favorite time of the year! 🙂 It was a .50 cent puzzle from Thrift Depot in Sparks.

Spent the rest of the afternoon out front in the lounge chair soaking up the sun reading JEWELLERY AND SILVERSMITHING TECHNIQUES by Carles Codina.