Tuesday, September 30, 2014

September Week 5: Catch-Up Week

This plan entails four weeks from every month, so whenever there are five weeks in a month, we take a breather on that last week. And by "breather" I mean, catch up on anything you're falling behind in. Make sure everything is up to date. Shop if you need to. Then, be sure to take some time and do organizing in your food storage area. Somehow things seem to get a bit disheveled here and there, and it's good to have a designated time to organize.

Also, at the end of each month, go back through the main inventory sheet and be sure that everything coded in that month's color has been checked and updated. This way things don't fall between the cracks.

And once all of that is done, sit back and enjoy the rest of this week. And feel Oh-So-Good about what you are doing for your family!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Jelly Roll Jam Strip Quilts Label and Binding

A few weeks ago, I posted the fun easy way to make Jelly Roll Quilts. To see that post, click here.

After the jelly roll strip quilt has been quilted (either by hand or by machine), trim the edges all nice and even. At this point it would generally be time for binding, but I decided I wanted to put a label on my grandbabies' quilts, so they would always know who made it for them and when it was made. Furthermore, I decided I wanted to have the quilts be from both Bob and I since he provided the money in our bank account for the materials, and I provided the labor -- a perfect working team! 

To make the label, I just cut a square out of an off-white fabric. Then, I folded it in half and wrote on it with a Pigma Micron Pen. Just a note about Pigma Pens. I LOVE them. Does that sound over-dramatic? It may sound that way, but I have used them for years and years, and they are always my go to pen. They don't bleed on fabric, they have a nice, precise point, and they are permanent. Perfect, I tell you!

After pinning the piece of fabric in place, as in the above label, it is then time to bind the quilt. There are many different philosophies to binding. To me, there is no better finished look than hand binding. It is a beautiful way to finish the quilt, and all of the stitches are hidden. When I make a quilt that is a keepsake quilt, I hand-bind. Having said that, there is also a time and a place for machine binding, in my book. And these baby quilts are the time and place. I want these to be quilts that they use, and therefore they must be able to be thrown in the washing machine. So, machine binding it is. It will hold together well through wash after wash after wash... and also through little kiddos dragging the blanket around wherever they go. 

I could show you photo after photo of the binding process, but then I would probably be pretty much copying the directions from someone else's website, since that is what I looked at for these particular quilts. So, instead, I will refer you to Cluck Cluck Sew, a terrific website devoted to quilting and sewing. Click here to see their machine binding tutorial.

After binding the quilt, this is what the finished product will look like.

As a side note, when I got them machine-quilted, there were hundreds of designs to choose from. My grandson loves foxes, so I had his quilt quilted in a forest animals pattern. You can see an owl, and an acorn in the photo below. There is also a fox somewhere in there.

And for my granddaughter, the quilt had big loopy flowers, which are adorable.

I love how the quilts turned out. They were fast, simple projects, and very do-able. Especially considering the five more I need to make for the five additional grandbabies coming our way.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Some really, really big news.... times 5!

I mentioned in a previous post that I got caught up with my first two grandbabies' baby quilts, which is awesome and makes me feel so very good. But then, we got this photo over GroupMe...

Shoes: Daddy's, Mommy's, Big Brother's, and Baby-To-Be

Woohoo! Our daughter and her husband are expecting their second child!

And then, our youngest son and his wife told us that they are expecting. Yay!!!! We were beside ourselves with the excitement.

You're going to need to sit down somewhere in this story. Probably now.

Our other daughter came over a few weeks after that, and as we were holding her little baby, we happened to read a little sign hidden under her bibdana.

Yep. She is going to be a big sister... only 13 months older than her little brother or sister!

Seriously. If you haven't found a seat yet, find one. It just keeps getting better. Just when we thought we couldn't contain any more excitement, our oldest son and his wife gave us the amazing news that they are expecting.... twins!!!!

So, if you're keeping track, that means ALL FOUR of our kids are expecting babies!  All five babies will be born within about three months of each other! Can you believe that? It makes me smile so often throughout the day. Really, really smile. I love thinking about those babies joining our other two grandbabies. Oh how we love our grandkids around here! They are the light of our life. There is no other way to say it. We are so thrilled! And the mommies are all darling and so ready for these babies. I love to think about the five little cousins growing up together. Fun times ahead!

I realize that there are a plethora of exclamation points in this post, but can you blame me?

And now, since I've got five more grandbabies coming, and they'll be in dire need of a baby quilt, I've got to get crackalacking on some quilts. I've started working on them for the first two babies (expected in January and February), who we know are girls. Remember in a post a few weeks ago, I mentioned that I had decided on a simple quilt idea for the two grandbabies we are lucky enough to have so far (click here to see how I made the jelly roll jam quilts). And now you can understand why the quilt pattern needs to be simple. :) I'll be posting the finishing instructions for the quilts (binding and label) in my next post, so check back for that.

Til then, you'll find me smiling....

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

September Week 4: Sugar, honey, corn syrup, molasses

This week's food storage items are:

September Week 4: Sugar (white, brown, powdered), honey, Karo corn syrup, molasses

It may be hard for you to know what your family consumes in sugar every year. One helpful thing is that sugar (granulated, powdered and brown) has an indefinite shelf life, and the same goes for honey, as indicated in this post from stilltasty.com:

Does Pure Honey Ever Go Bad?

Question:  I have a bottle of pure liquid honey that’s starting to get thick and sugary on the bottom. Does this mean it has gone bad and I need to replace it? 
Answer: No — your honey should be fine, provided you’ve been storing it properly.
From a safety standpoint, commercially produced pure honey has a practically indefinite shelf life,says the National Honey Board. It’s not unusual for honey to crystallize over time —  but that doesn’t make it unsafe to use, adds the Honey Board.
That said, prolonged storage can potentially take a toll on the taste and appearance of honey. Besides crystallizing, your honey may also start to darken, change aroma and lose flavor after a couple of years. So it’s a good idea to check your honey from time to time, to see if it’s still satisfactory for your tastes.
As for honey that’s already crystallized, you can revive it by placing the opened honey jar in warm water and stirring until the crystals dissolve. Another option is to transfer the honey into a microwave-safe container, with the lid off. Microwave on medium-high power, stirring every 30 seconds, until the crystals dissolve.
To help keep honey at its best, be sure to store it in a cool, dark area and keep it tightly capped after each use.

So, you can feel good about buying whatever you can, and knowing that if you buy too much, it will stay on the shelves until you need it. I like to pick up sugar at case lots sales once in a while, and keep extras on the shelves. As you go through this system for a couple of years, you'll be able to see how much of each product you use in a year, and then you will know how much you need on the shelves. I keep way, way more granulated sugar than I need, but that is all to be saved for a rainy day!
Decide how much sugar and sweeteners you'll need this year, and write them on your shopping list. In the next day or two, when you're out on errands, stop by the grocery store and pick up the items from your shopping list. Bring them home, get them on your shelves, and update your inventory sheets. And think how happy your family will be that you will have something sweet for them in the years to come!

If you would like the full info on the Week-By-Week Food Storage Plan, just click on the tab at the top of the page. You can then click on any single week and it will take you to the most up-to-date post that featured that week's items. It also has the information as to how you can get a copy of the weekly schedule as well as the complete inventory sheets.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

September Week 3: Dry Beans and Legumes

This week's food storage items are:

September Week 3: Dry Beans and Legumes

Depending on what your family uses of these items, this week should be pretty easy and straight-forward. I have white beans, black beans, pinto beans, and dehydrated refried beans that are in cans and will all last for 20+ years. Those, I generally don't open and use during the year (though I could, if needed). I have bags of beans (lentils and split green peas) that I do use throughout the year, so I will decide what our yearly need is, and be sure that I have that on my shelves.

With the Week-By-Week plan, you will decide on your family's needs for the year, and enter those numbers on the Inventory Sheet. Subtract what you already have, and then you'll be left with the amounts of each item that you need to purchase this week. Next time you're at the grocery store (within the next few days), pick up the beans and legumes you need, put them on your shelves, and update your Inventory Sheet. There. Done for the week. Smile at what you have done for you and your family, and then relax til next week's items come up!

If you would like the full info on the Week-By-Week Food Storage Plan, just click on the tab at the top of the page. You can then click on any single week and it will take you to the most up-to-date post that featured that week's items. It also has the information as to how you can get a copy of the weekly schedule as well as the complete inventory sheets.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Fall Tasks in the Garden

I love Country Living Magazine. I could live somewhere within its pages. Alas, we do not live within it's pages, and so we've settled for trying to make a bit of our own happy, serene spot. It is definitely a work in progress. Never finished. Never perfect. Every year, in the early spring, my husband humors me by digging up and moving around bushes and plants that need a different spot to really thrive. And every year, my boys humor me by digging up some sort of plant that has taken over its area of the garden, and threatens to dominate the whole yard. Always something to tweak and try to improve out in the yard.

And now that fall is literally right around the corner, it is time to start wrapping things up and get the plants and beds ready for the snowy winter months. I came across this list from Country Living Magazine today, and it's a pretty good list of To-Do's for the next several weeks...

10 Must-Do Tasks

1. PLANT BULBS AND PERENNIALS. Fall is the time to place spring bulbs in the ground and plant bare-root roses, deciduous trees and shrubs, and evergreens.

2. TIDY BEDS. Cut back spent perennials after the first frost and pull up annuals. Leave some plants with beautiful seed heads, such as grasses and sedums, for winter interest and to help feed the birds.

3. WEED. Get a head start on spring, when weeds are potentially most harmful, by ridding beds of weeds in fall. Be certain to pull the entire root out of the ground. Avoid using harmful pesticides.

4. MOW THE LAWN. Give your lawn a final cut before winter. Apply corn gluten, which inhibits weeds and fertilizes lightly.

5. ADD MULCH. Give perennials an extra layer of protection in winter by mulching. Wait to apply mulch until after the first frost to help prevent rodents from nesting in it.

6. APPLY ORGANIC FERTILIZER AND COMPOST. Give plants food in late fall so they will be well-nourished in early spring after the winter thaw.

7. PROTECT TENDER PLANTS. Wrap tender plants, such as fig trees or boxwood, to protect them from harsh winter conditions. Bring indoors any potted plants that you want to keep for years to come.

8. COLLECT SEEDS. Seed saving is a thrifty and easy way to get a head start on next year's garden. It is also important in preserving treasured heirloom varieties.

9. DISINFECT POTS. Clean pots with a coarse brush to remove all traces of soil that could harbor harmful bacteria and disease. Let terra-cotta pots dry out completely before storing them.

10. CLEAN AND SHARPEN TOOLS. Prevent disease by keeping tools cleaned and sharpened.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

September Week 2: Veggies - canned, bottled, dehydrated and frozen

This week's food storage items are:

September Week 2: Veggies - canned, bottled, dehydrated and frozen

What canned or dehydrated vegetables do you consume in a year? We generally use fresh or frozen vegetables, but I do like to have some canned veggies on hand. I have recipes that call for cans of vegetables, and I definitely like to have some on hand for emergencies. I don't use my dehydrated vegetables regularly... those are kept for the long-term food storage. So far, I only have dehydrated carrots and chopped onions, but I think I'll add a few different dehydrated veggies to my shelves. If you bottle your own vegetables, obviously you will have to do this when the veggies are ripe and ready for bottling, but include the updates and information in this week's inventory. This is also a good time to stock up on frozen vegetables (whatever you can store in your freezer).

So, determine what your family's needs will be (for the coming year) as far as vegetables go, whether canned, dehydrated or frozen. Write them down on your grocery list, and next time you're at the market, pick up what your family needs. Get the items on your food storage shelves, and then sit back and feel really good about what you've just accomplished for you and your family. Update your inventory sheet with the information, and relax til next week! 

If you would like the full info on the Week-By-Week Food Storage Plan, just click on the tab at the top of the page. You can then click on any single week and it will take you to the most up-to-date post that featured that week's items. It also has the information as to how you can get a copy of the weekly schedule as well as the complete inventory sheets.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Apple-Pears Are On!

It is definitely that time of year again. The apple-pears are on. And by "on", I mean done. Ready. Kaput. Finished. We've spent several hours picking, and we've declared that job complete.

I mean, we still need to leave a few for the birds over the winter, right? The pickings are pretty slim when everything is covered in snow. They are so happy to see pears here and there among the branches. Some pears just find nooks and crannies to settle in over the winter. A perfect feeding spot for the birds.

This year was not a bumper crop, but we never lose too much sleep over that. There are still plenty of apple-pears to harvest, and we got more than enough this year.

We've been making deliveries to all of the people on our annual list, and I still have plenty to dry. I've been drying a batch every day. It makes the house smell like so yummy... just like fall! To see how I go about drying my apple-pears, click here.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

September Week 1: Back to School Supplies, etc.

Since we have wrapped up August, I always go back through my comprehensive inventory sheets and check to be sure I've had a chance to update each of the items for August, which would be the light purple color. It's easy to scan the list for that color, and check to make sure each item is current and inventoried. Now, on to September...

This week's food storage/emergency supply items are:

September Week 1: Back to School -- 12 pencils with erasers, pencil sharpener, rubber bands, Super Glue, copies of important documents, contact information for family, friends, doctors, etc.

This week is pretty basic, and inexpensive. Once you have it gathered, you shouldn't have to do too much when this same week comes around next year. You might need to update the contact information, or documents that you have gathered, but that is about it. Easy stuff.

Keep the pencils, sharpener, rubber bands, Super Glue, and documents in a bin on your emergency supply shelves.

There are many resources online on what to keep track of as far as important documents go. Since I haven't done a really stellar job of gathering important documents in the past, that's what I'll be doing this week to complete my "September Week 1" items.  As far as what to gather for important documents, I like the list I found on iwillprepare.com (the list is shown below). It is pretty comprehensive and may take a while to gather each of the items, but I think it will be a worthwhile project. One thing I would add to the list, is to make a note next to the information that may need to be updated from year to year so that I can run down the list in the years to come, and know exactly which things I need to update. The author of the original website says that they keep their documents in a fire-proof safe, which is an excellent idea, if you have one in your home. You can buy these fairly inexpensively at office supply stores, Amazon, and I have seen them at Costco, too. If you don't have a safe, keep it in a very safe place. With all of the information you have in the binder, it could be detrimental for it to get into the wrong hands!

You can go to their website and download or print off the pdf version.

Also, you may think it unnecessary to make a list of the contact information of family and friends. If your cell phone was incapacitated (maybe out of batteries, or ruined because of fire or water), would you have the phone numbers of family members, friends, doctors, police, fire, etc? Think of anyone you might need to call during an emergency, and write their names and numbers on the list. Keep the list with your emergency supply items and also keep a list posted inside a cabinet door in your kitchen for emergency reference.

If you would like the full info on the Week-By-Week Food Storage Plan, just click on the tab at the top of the page. You can then click on any single week and it will take you to the most up-to-date post that featured that week's items. It also has the information as to how you can get a copy of the weekly schedule as well as the complete inventory sheets.