Friday, July 13, 2012
My first batch of jam this year was strawberry. It's nice to start off with a classic. We went out to the strawberry field behind our house and picked 2kgs of strawberries. I'm not sure what type of strawberry these are, but they were beautiful and very sweet.
I've never seen such blood red strawberries before this. They were that same true red all the way through the fruit.
So far I've done Peach and Strawberry fruit jams. I want to do some apricot, maybe blueberry, and some cherry pie filling too.
My favorite though has got to be the Jalapeno Jelly that I did yesterday. Love it! I found the best recipe from the Texas homestead blog. It is the best Jalapeno jelly that I have ever made. This recipe is a true jalapeno jelly and not one that is mostly bell pepper with just one token jalapeno. You can find the recipe at the Texas Homesteader site.
The only changes that I made were to use powdered pectin and half of a finely chopped red bell pepper (just for some added color). I added the bell pepper half way through the cooking process so that the small chunks wouldn't disintegrate. I also did not add any food color (really, I think the natural color is so pretty that it doesn't need any food color, but to each his own.
Tuesday, July 3, 2012
Happy 4th of July!!!
So today I found myself inspired by the many patriotic wreaths that I've seen on Pinterest lately. I wanted to make something patriotic and fun for my apartment door to celebrate Independence day, but I didn't have a wreath form or any of the things that easily convert into a wreath form (pool noodle, big tube, pipe insulation). I tried to buy a wreath form at some of my local stores here in Germany, but everywhere I went they were out of the light cheap kind that I wanted, and there was no way I was dropping 10 Euro on a metal form that didn't suit my needs! I'm not much into power shopping so I admit to giving up the search after two stores and some subtle hints from the kids that they weren't digging the wreath form hunt.
Then inspiration hit me! I could make my whole project out of stuff I already had. Actually, I took it as a challenge. I knew that I had all that I needed, and more, at my own house. No wreath form; No problem!
So, here is a little tutorial on making a Plastic Bag Wreath Form, and then the patriotic sparkler wreath.
Plastic Bag Wreath Form Tutorial
What you need for the wreath form:Plastic grocery bags (any supermarket style bag will do. You know that you have a ton of these stashed somewhere :)
Wire Coat Hanger
Pliers or strong fingers
1. Bend your hanger into a circle shape. It doesn't need to be perfect, but get it as round as you can. Then, bend the hook over to form a loop. This makes a nice hanger at the back of the wreath when you're done.
2. Grab your shopping bag by the bottom and tape the end around the hanger. Then, begin to twist the bag around the hanger. You don't want to do it too loose or too tight. Once the whole bag is twisted around the hanger, tape the end to the hanger.
3. Continue adding bags around the hanger. Slightly overlap the ends when adding a new bag. Tape at the ends and at spots that don't want to behave as you go. Continue adding layers around until it reaches the thickness you desire.
4. When you reach the loop you made from the hanger hook weave the bags through it for the first few layers so that you can get your finger through it. If you continue to add layers, like I did, just go around the loop without covering it too much.
5. You should end up with the nice sturdy wreath form. If at this point you think it's not quite round, don't be afraid to tug it into shape or add a bag in a spot that is not quite thick enough.
You can see in the last photo that I've already started to add my crepe paper to the wreath.
To make this 4th of July wreath (or your own variation) continue on.
Crepe paper party streamers in Red, White, and Blue (1 roll each)
Stiff Paper for the stars
White Glitter (or Sugar) *optional*
Glittery ribbon in silver and gold (mine is the kind used for wrapping presents)
Black paint and White paint
Blue and red ribbon (or whatever you have) to make a bow
You are going to cover your wreath using little crepe paper florets for this project. It's cheap and its easy. I found it was easier to make a whole big pile of each color and then glue them to the form, but you can make the florets as you go.
1. Make the florets by cutting two pieces of crepe paper and crossing them over the top of each other (1). Don't make the pieces too long or they will stick up too much. They should only be cut a bit longer than they are wide. Pinch the center (2), and then twist them together (3) to form a little point at the bottom (4). It's that easy.
2. Glue the florets onto the form in a flag style pattern as seen in the photo.
3. Cut your star shapes from some stiff paper. Paint them with white glue or white paint and shake on some glitter for sparkle. I didn't have any glitter so I used sugar instead. It worked great and my four-year-old thought it was super cool. Glue them to the blue field on your wreath.
4. To make the sparklers, paint the wood skewers black and then cut your sparkle ribbon into about 3.5 inch pieces. fold them in half and glue them to the tip of the skewer. I just had mine going every-which-way so they would resemble real sparklers. Then glue them to the wreath at a few points along the stick and where they cross each other.
5. Make a bow with your blue and red ribbon and glue it over the sparklers where they cross. This gives it a nice finished look. Then just hang your wreath and enjoy your holiday.