Getting Caught Up

I’ve been working hard the past week to get caught up. First on the list, I made a set of art cards for week 27 to remember my road trip to a quilting retreat.

I spent a good part of last week picking raspberries from our garden, getting about a pint each day.

I think I have over 2 quarts so far, and there’s probably another quart to be picked.

I made raspberry jam over the weekend, which I haven’t done in ages. I added a handful of strawberries that were getting a little old and mushy. Man, I can’t believe how much jam I have now! Guess I’ll be eating more peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or making scones to spread raspberry jam on.

I’m SO happy I finally finished my chocolate lollipop quilt, after piecing it in Spring 2010 for Randi’s quilt-along.

I don’t know why I procrastinated doing free motion quilting on it because I love how it turned out. It measures 48 inches wide by 62 inches tall.

I’m surprised I even managed to finish the binding already, since I have three other quilts waiting for the binding to be handsewn to the back.

So these highlights are represented on my art cards for the week.

I copied the illustration style of Michelle‘s gorgeous strawberry card because I loved the look and because she always inspires me! It felt good do be drawing and painting again, since it’s been over a week that I’ve worked on any art projects. For my other card, I used a scrap piece of fabric and the selvage to record my new favorite quilt accomplishment.

I have so many project ideas I want to work on, but I also want to get caught upon my unfinished projects so I can move on.

Homemade from My Kitchen

I spent Saturday morning making yummy things in my kitchen.  I adore strawberries, so I stocked up on them over the summer, freezing them for a winter smoothie or some other concoction.  I decided to make this strawberry jam adapted from a recipe in Barefoot Contessa’s new Back to Basics cookbook, which I got for Christmas.

granola and jam from Ina's new book

Easy Strawberry Jam

3 pints fresh strawberries

3 cups sugar

2 T. Grand Mariner or other orange-flavored liqueur

½ Granny Smith, peeled, cored, small diced

½ cup blueberries

Rinse strawberries. Drain & hull. Cut large ones in half. Place in kettle & toss with sugar and liqueur.  Bring to boil, stirring. Add apple & blueberries and continue boiling until mixture reaches 220 degrees with candy thermometer, about 25-30 minutes. Allow to cool and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks or in canning jars for longer term storage.

homemade jam

I changed a couple things in that recipe.  I only had 1-1/2 pints of strawberries in the freezer, so I reduced the amount of sugar.  I didn’t have the liqueur so I used brandy instead, which believe it or not, turned out quite tasty.  I also used the entire apple because I didn’t read the directions closely – turned out just fine.

pan of granola

I have been wanting to make granola for awhile too, since my stash of my favorite organic granola from the last outdoor farmers market in November is gone now. 

jar of granola

Cherry, Almond and Cinnamon Granola

4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

2 cups sweetened, shredded coconut

2 cups sliced almonds

1-1/2 cups dried cherries, chopped

½ cup vegetable oil

1/3 cup good honey

2 tsps. Ground cinnamon

Reheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Toss the oats, coconut, almonds and cherries together in a large bowl.  Pour the vegetable oil and honey over the oat mixture. Add the cinnamon, and stir with a wooden spoon until all the oats and nuts are coated with the liquids. Pour onto a sheet pan. Bake, stirring occasionally with a spatula, until the mixture turns a nice, even golden brown, about 25-30 minutes. Remove granola from the oven and allow to cool, stirring occasionally. Store the cooled granola in an airtight container.

Again, I changed a couple things in this recipe.  I’m not a big fan of coconut so I left that out, and I had dried craisins in the house so I used those instead of the dried cherries.   I didn’t have enough of the almonds to I added chopped pecans to get to the 2 cups.  While the granola was baking, I set the timer for every ten minutes so I wouldn’t forget to stir it to keep it from sticking to the pan.  I use the timer a lot in the the kitchen because I am usually doing something else at the same time as cooking or baking, and because I get easily distracted and forget what I was originally doing!

Next I would love to design a cute label for these jars because I will definitely make these again, maybe even give them as gifts.  I don’t have Illustrator yet and my drawing is still in the very beginning stages but definitely making progress.