Tuesday, June 27, 2017

"Repair, Don't Throw Away"

"To combat a throwaway consumer culture, Sweden is giving financial incentives for people to repair clothes, bicycles appliances, and other goods, according to the World Economic Forum.  In addition to providing tax incentives for repairs, levies are being added to the manufacture of new appliances based on the amount of chemicals used.  More people paying for repairs should mean more people in the labor force and more local jobs." - quote from The Mennonite May 2017, which is summarizing from Christian Century

My purse which I love, but it is vinyl and the corners are wearing off; I took a blue Sharpie to the worn corners.  A stopgap while I shop for a new purse (hopefully not vinyl).

 A Moses basket whose handles were fraying off the basket.  I darned the handles back on to the basket with twine.
 A tiny hole in our plastic watering can melted by a neighbor's cigarette cinder; I thought it was worth trying to fix with a small piece of duct tape inside and out.  The fix has been holding for months.


My granny shopping cart had a frayed back pocket.  I handsewed some patches over it so important
things (wallet! phone!) wouldn't slip out.


I would love to see incentives for repairs!  It's hard to find repair shops for anything these days because so many people say it's cheaper to buy a new one.  Do you try your hand at fixing things or know a fix-it genius?

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Just a New Handtowel

Because an old one got too stained to look good and because Phoebe can't pull this one off the oven handle.  Hurray for a small, discrete task where I can exercise my creativity!  And it's crossed off the to-do list unlike various projects (we need to replace our boiler this summer, for one) and emotional burdens that we pick up every morning and try to lay down at night.  Or maybe that's just me.




Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Strawberry Jam Starts the Season

I took my children strawberry-picking for the first time ever.  We went to the farm where I went on a field trip as a first-grader, when I had a young, enthusiastic teacher with a strawberry farm.  The only activity I remember was using fresh strawberries as crayons to draw pictures.  My kids have begged for that "story" (memory fragment, really) over and over.  Do you embellish memory fragments like that into real stories for youngsters?


Anyway, we picked 15 pounds of strawberries ($1.75 a pound) while Phoebe sat in a wagon nearby with a bowl of strawberries.  I made strawberry freezer jam, for the first time ever using Pomona's Pectin which is a lower-sugar variety.  We'll see if we like it.

The process was easy and the jel was good before the jars went to the freezer.  I also froze some whole berries - an idea from a friend at the berry patch.  She said her kids like to eat them straight from the freezer as snacks.  Then I used two cups of strawberries to make strawberry rhubarb jam - the rhubarb provides the thickness, the jel, and I used vanilla sugar for a little something special.




The strawberry rhubarb jam required my canning gear, so the preserving season is officially begun!



A few weeks ago, I did an inventory of my freezer and canning shelves so I could make goals for this year's preserving.  Cherries will be up next, I think, followed closely by beets.  And blueberries!  Thank you, dear God, for all this wonderful food.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Funny Fabric on the Ironing Board

My commercial ironing board cover was ironed to literal shreds.  I had a length of funny fabric in my stash that I bought just because I loved it. It's got scenes of a retro family and their pets grooming themselves for the day.  Would this make a shower curtain?  Toiletry bag?  Not sure how other people would use this fabric, but I made a double-sided ironing board cover.  Hopefully I can flip it and get more use out of it.

I used a slightly different method from previous covers I've made.  I did trace my old cover, but I added two sets of ties to the back of the new cover and elastic at the top and bottom.  One method I saw had you make a casing for elastic the entire way around the ironing board cover.  I didn't want to use that much elastic, nor did I feel like inching a piece of elastic through such a tortuously long casing.


In the end, my new cover was a wee bit short and required some diaper pins in the back to keep it in place.  I thought I was cutting generously when I traced the old cover, but oh well.  This is get-er-done-and-functional sewing.  The fabric happens to make me giggle, too.


More giggles. They pounced on the jeans legs I had cut off.  Otherwise, I have no explanation.



Here, Ben made "a guy" for Phoebe out of her duplo blocks and she kissed him.


Friday, June 16, 2017

And Then My Checkbook Cover Broke

I had never liked that cheap vinyl thing anyway.


I dug through my free upholstery samples and thought I could make a new cover.

I simply traced around the old old one, held the vinyl together tightly while I sewed, and bingo!  a new cover in about 20 minutes.  I did use a sewing machine needle that I have set aside for sewing on paper.



There's a pocket for the debit card that accesses the account.



There's a binder clip to keep the checks for deposit handy.

I'm very pleased with its looks and functionality.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Sheet-Pan Chicken is Hot and So is the Weather

It was 97 degrees F in the shade at our house today, but I still need to tell you about this chicken recipe before I forget (and shout out to Sarah, where I saw the link to the recipe first).  It is fabulous, a total crowd-pleaser and a cook-pleaser because it's so easy.  The vegetables get roasted and, in spots, caramelized; the vegetables under the chicken are bathed in drippings as well. The chicken is juicy, tender, and perfectly savory from the salt.  The crisp chicken skin is highly coveted.


The first time I made this chicken, my family exclaimed over and over - my husband even said it was the best chicken he ever had.  Whoa, baby!  The big kids begged me to make it again.


However, I will not be making this chicken again until the weather cools down because you crank the oven up to 500 degrees for almost an hour to make it.

I think it's kind of an internet sensation right now, sheet-pan chicken, and for all good reasons.  When it's not so stinkin' hot, I will be looking for variations because this will go into heavy rotation in the winter at my house.


Simple Sheet-Pan Chicken and Veg
Ingredients:
--1 chicken thigh per person, bone-in and skin on
--assorted vegetables that take well to roasting - root veg as well as onions, broccoli, green beans
--salt, pepper, some dried rosemary (optional)

Prepping the Pan:
I made 5 thighs on a half-sheet pan (13x18 rimmed baking sheet) with a crowded single layer of vegetables underneath.  It's important to have the veg crowded together so they don't burn to a crisp, but also important to have a single layer so they can be caramelized (yes! yum!) in spots. So, size your pan according to how many veggies you want to use.
You can line it with heavy-duty foil if you want even less clean up (regular foil just peels up with the veggies when you try to serve them - you can learn from my experience!).  I didn't line it with foil the second time and the clean-up was still very easy as long as you're willing to break out a Brillo pad.

Method:
Cut veggies into large bite-sized pieces.  Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, and some dried rosemary if you wish, and spread in single, thick layer on rimmed baking sheet.
Lay the chicken thighs skin side down on the veg.  Sprinkle each one generously with salt.  Flip the thighs over, peel back the skin, and salt the thighs generously UNDER the skin.  Pull the skin back into place.  Pat the skin dry with a paper towel or old kitchen towel. This will make amazingly crispy skin.
Bake the chicken and veggies at 500F for 50 minutes.  No need to stir, check, or bother for that whole baking time.  Serve hot.  We like a side of coleslaw or something vinegary on the side.  Shown here was steamed asparagus with lemon juice.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Long-Enough Sleeves for the Tall Girl

Genevieve requested a bathrobe, and I thought I'd check the thrift store first before I made her one.  She wanted a big old floor-length robe - so much fabric if I was sewing one!  And while I was finding the robe that she now loves and wears every day, I saw a pair of pajamas for me.  


Vera Wang, if you please, for $3.  But the sleeves were a bit short - a perennial problem for a tall person like me.  I bought a $1 purple shirt, cut off the sleeves and attached them inside the pajama sleeves at the piping seam. 



 Now my wrists will be covered and warm. . . which is not a pleasant thought in this heatwave.  The pajamas are tucked away with my other winter clothes for the cold days.

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