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101  HOME SWEET HOME / Exterior Decorating / Yard Art / Gardening: Completed Projects / Heirloom Tomatoes on: July 04, 2012 04:56:12 PM
We started seeds saved from last year's best tomato specimens the second week of January under lights.  They were potted up in our greenhouse in April then transplanted in May.  We're at peak season now, and really enjoying the fruits of our labor.  Smiley  They're surrounded by a batch of canned dill pickles on the left and some freshly picked shallots on the right.  I love summer!

102  JEWELRY AND TRINKETS / Trinkets and Jewelry: Completed Projects: General / Mosaic Pendant on: July 04, 2012 04:26:50 PM
I had the opportunity to learn a new craft this past weekend from HSG, our glass crafts board moderator.  She brought mosaic pendant supplies to a small Craftster moderator get together.  I've never worked with mosaics before and was very happy to learn!  I selected a few glass discs, some colorful shards and silver microbeads.  The decorative elements were glued into a pendant tray using E6000 and then sealed using a two part resin.  I fussed with my design for a good hour before I was satisfied with the placement and am happy with how it turned out.  It reminds me of the ocean.   Smiley

103  HOME SWEET HOME / Exterior Decorating / Yard Art / Gardening: Discussion and Questions / Great Garden Challenge 2012! Enter your garden now through August 31st! on: June 28, 2012 08:23:41 AM
The Great Garden Challenge is UP! Enter now through August 31st! http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=413141.0

Hey everyone, make sure to get photos of your flowers, fruit, veggies and anything else you've got going in your garden this summer.  We're going to have a Great Garden challenge announced some time in July.   Smiley

104  HOME SWEET HOME / Exterior Decorating / Yard Art / Gardening: Discussion and Questions / Great Garden Challenge - 2012 on: June 27, 2012 05:53:59 PM
Start getting photos of your lovely flowers, vegetables, fruit, trees, etc. together.  We're going to host a great garden challenge in late July! 
105  HOME SWEET HOME / Exterior Decorating / Yard Art / Gardening: Completed Projects / Growing Mushrooms at Home on: June 22, 2012 11:02:02 AM
We've had shiitake mushroom logs for a few years now.  Once you get through the initial process of introducing the spores to your logs, they pretty much take care of themselves.  We purchased plug spores and drilled lots of holes in 3-4 foot lengths of dead white oak logs.  The spore plugs were inserted in the holes and then sealed with melted beeswax.  It took a year to get our first crop.

We keep the logs up off of the ground in a shady place by our back door where we can keep an eye on them.  My husband built them a swing of sorts under a bradford pear tree.

Once we notice the mushrooms sprouting, it takes about a week until they're ready to harvest.  These photos were taken a day apart across a few days to show how fast they grow.

This is our spring crop, we're expecting another in the fall.  They're a huge hit at our farmer's market and make a wonderful addition to risotto! 
106  HOME SWEET HOME / Exterior Decorating / Yard Art / Gardening: Completed Projects / A Sweet Harvest on: June 09, 2012 12:21:06 PM
We just completed our spring honey harvest.  The bees have been visiting our vegetable garden, flowers, tulip poplar trees, wild blackberries, orchard and clover. 

We extract honey from the hive frames in our kitchen.  Here's a frame with the beeswax capping sliced off to prepare it for going into the extractor.

The extractor is the large white container, it holds two frames at a time.  The crank causes the frames to spin inside the container and the honey flings out by centrifugal force and drips down to the bottom. 

We strain the honey into a 3 gallon bucket.  From there it gets ladled into jars.

A few of our frames had brood in it, here's a baby bee emerging.

The entire process took us about 8 hours, from removing frames from our two hives through cleanup.  Not a bad day's work!  I took 12 quarts to our small farmer's market yesterday, they sold out pretty fast. 
107  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Pimento Cheese on: June 05, 2012 09:26:10 AM
Pimento cheese is a southern staple and pretty simple stuff.  I grew up on it, so did my husband.  I don't buy it at the grocery store because I make it myself.  I always serve it on saltine crackers cuz it isn't fancy.

It's got just 5 ingredients; 8 oz. of sharp cheddar cheese,  3 Tbsp. of Duke's mayo, 2 oz. of drained jarred pimentos, 2 good splashes of worcestershire sauce and hot pepper flakes to taste.   Oh, and salt & pepper. 

I start by cubing the cheese before putting it in my mini food processor.

I process the cheese to break the cubes into crumbles then in go the rest of the ingredients.  The red pepper flakes are from our garden.  They're a super hot mixture of ghost, habanero, Joe's round and red caribbean peppers.  If I was going to use store bought flakes, I'd add about 1/4 teaspoon.

Give it a whirl in your food processor and it's done!

I met two documentary filmmakers at a cookout last weekend who recently completed a short film titled 'Pimento Cheese, Please!'  I took a batch and it was very well received (they took home the leftovers).  It makes a great appetizer and is usually even better the day after you make it. 

108  MISCELLANEOUS TOPICS / Completed Projects / Mushroom House Pincushion on: June 02, 2012 04:28:30 AM
For the sewing accessories swap, I made thisbirdsabsurd a mushroom house pincushion in a cup based on something she had on her wist. 

This project really tested my limited embroidery skills!   Cheesy

Here's an in-process shot.

109  HOME SWEET HOME / Exterior Decorating / Yard Art / Gardening: Completed Projects / Spring Harvest on: May 17, 2012 07:03:43 AM
Here's this morning's harvest; asparagus, carrots and garlic scapes.  Scapes are the flower stalks of garlic plants and they're delicious grilled with a little olive oil, salt and pepper.  Smiley 

110  MASTER CRAFTSTERS / BERNINA 3 Series / Sweet Appliqued Tote Bag using the BERNINA 350PE on: May 15, 2012 10:20:08 AM
Sponsored Content
* To see the overview of this Master Craftsters campaign, click here.
* To read more about the machine used in this project, explore BERNINA's website here.

Sweet Appliqued Tote Bag using the BERNINA 350PE

One of my favorite Craftsters is funthreads.  I fell in love with the 'Snack Attack' quilt she posted last year and it inspired me to make a tote bag using her sweet theme.  This project gave me a chance to give applique a try using the BERNINA 350 Patchwork Edition.

The adhesive product I use for appliqueing is called Lite Steam-A-Seam 2.  It's an iron on fusible webbing that is sticky on both sides and comes packaged between two sheets of protective paper.  

I drew the pattern shapes on the protective paper on one side of the webbing then peeled away the opposite paper and ironed the webbing onto the wrong side of my fabrics.  This allowed me to then cut my applique pieces to their exact finished sizes with a bit of adhesive on the back.  In this photo, on the left you see the webbing and paper ironed onto the wrong side of my frosting fabric and on the right you see my cut finished cupcake liner and cherry fabric pieces.

I sewed a strip of wood-grain fabric to the bottom of my background fabric and laid all the pieces out the way I wanted them.  I set aside the frosting and cherries then peeled the paper backing from the cupcake liners and ironed them in place.  

From here, they are lightly adhered to the fabric and ready to be sewn on.  I decided to use the BERNINA's blanket stitch (#78) and sewed carefully along the edge of the cupcake liners.  The BERNINA has a speed control feature, so I was able to adjust it to a speed I was comfortable with for this intricate work.

Once all the liners were sewn in place, I peeled off the paper backing from the frosting layers and ironed them in place.  A super quick change of thread color and I was off and running again.

Here's a close up of the machine blanket stitching around the cherries on top.    

Here's the finished tote bag front with everything sewn in place.  I was very pleased with my experience appliqueing using the BERNINA 350PE.  

For the back, I made a patchwork gumball machine filled with a fun candy fabric.  I'm obsessive about collecting candy and snack prints, I love to have them on hand for inspiration.

I lined it and added some complementary straps to finish it off.  This immediately became my favorite tote bag ever!  I'm expecting to get lots and lots of comments on it.  

Funthreads is hosting the full quilt pattern for free on her blog for a short time.  If you're inspired by her as much as I am, hop on over soon to download the PDF!  http://funthreads.blogspot.com/p/quilt-tutorials.html
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