Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Felt-o-rama: Barrettes





My sister sent me the link to the tutorial for these adorable felt rose barrettes from the purl bee.  I wanted to make them for her daughter (my niece) Mary.  I went out and bought some barrettes and they were on my to do list for many months.


Felt-o-rama finally motivated me to get them done!  I bought a package of 8 barrettes.  So far three of them are completed felt roses, and I intend to make two more colors.  The other three I had other plans for that I will show you soon.   



I followed the tutorial on the purl bee, except that my barrettes were smaller than theirs.  I shrunk the rose pattern and just traced my barrettes to make the pattern for the part that goes around the barrettes.  



I took Mary swimming today at my park district pool, and after we dried off she was nice enough to model the barrettes for me.


She was very excited about them and wanted to put all three in her hair at the same time.  However, being the independent almost two year old that she is she would not look at the camera!



Aha, finally caught one where she is looking...


- Laura

Monday, June 28, 2010

Canning with water baths

I have been afraid of doing anything other than freezer canning.  Seriously.  I thought that I would kill everyone with some horrible strain of botulism.  Even though rationally, that isn't very likely.

So, in order to put aside my fears I took a canning class yesterday afternoon.  It was fabulous!

I had NO IDEA that canning with a water bath was so easy!  I thought it involved all of this equipment

But, really, it doesn't.  So yeah, the jar lifter is nice, and a jar is good to have, but that is it.


We did a jam by simply following a recipe (be sure not to change them as they are made specifically for the right acidity).  We boiled the jars in a big pot with an old towel to keep them separated.  Then we boiled up some peaches and liquor, sugar, lemon and sure-jell which is the common pectin add-in.  We used a kosher pectin from fruit products, not anything scary.

I would recommend at least breaking out the old Better Homes and Gardens book to take a look at what some of the recipes are.


And then, you really only need a pot and some jars, seriously.  A jar lifter is nice by you can use whatever else you have around to get a decent enough grip.

Also, thanks to my friend Sarah for showing me this great food preservation website!

-Meghan

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Market at the Square

This week is another sunny week (and that kind of messed with my photos!)  Next week we will be featuring a California market, but for now, it's more midwest!




I love this farm.  The owners are very nice and Henry loves their spicy radishes.


Today was the first day for sweetcorn.  The big pickup trucks pull up and you get your corn off the truck bed.  Then people husk it right onto the ground.  I think this one came right from a field.


Prairie Fruits Farm is amazing.  They have goat's and ewe's cheese and oh man, they are good.  Some fresh chevre with a few early tomatoes on a ciabatta roll is the most amazing breakfast.  Plus you can go meet the goats at their farm.  I am in love.

-Meghan

Friday, June 25, 2010

mmm... 'rabi!

Whenever the vegetable kohlrabi gets mentioned, my two year old chimes in with "mmmm, RABI!!"  (Sounds like cole-ROBBY) to us midwesterners.

I planted a bunch from seed in late April and it's already past due on harvesting and eating.  I was desperate for a snack today so I decided we would go eat out of the garden.  So simple!

In the garden, taking over the chard.


Dragging it inside:





Beg the two year old to please go "help" with something else while you use the knives:
(note to Laura:  He tried to ride the rolls around the room... oh college...)


Skin it!


I cut it into "Rabi Fries" for a snack:



I did it without any dip, but this would probably be the most delicious dip with it (from allrecipes.com)

             Ingredients

  • 2 cups mayonnaise
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 3 tablespoons grated onion
  • 3 tablespoons dried dill weed
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons seasoning salt
And then mix and dip!  You are supposed to refrigerate it overnight, but come on.  Who plans ahead like that!  I say just eat!  


-Meghan


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Felt-o-rama: Felt Food


My mom always told me I should start the day out right by eating breakfast.  

Meghan's son Henry recently turned two.  About two weeks after his birthday I finally completed his gift and mailed it to him.  Luckily, it fits right in to our felt-o-rama month.  I would link back to some blogs that I used for inspiration but there are just too many of them!  I looked at many different blogs and took my favorite ideas, and adapted some and made them my own.  

Henry has many different options for lunch: 




 


And for dinner I sure hope he likes Italian:  







Apparently the pizza is his favorite so far. . .  














The classic basketball, soccer ball, and bacon pizza is my favorite too! 

Monday, June 21, 2010

Gutter Garden Details

A few people have asked questions about the details of my gutter garden.  I will try to answer your questions here, and please let me know if you have any more. 

1.  Does it really grow enough lettuce?  Yes!  Right now the lettuce is not fully grown yet, but it is a 10 foot gutter, so I have one ten foot row of lettuce.  The plants are jut starting to get big enough to pick the lettuce, but I think that I planted them a little bit late.  The problem with the water displacing the dirt also put me back a little bit.  I have had enough lettuce for the occasional salad so far, but more importantly I use it a lot for lettuce in other recipes, or on a sandwich, in tacos etc...

2.  What did you buy and how much did it cost?  I purchased a 10 foot piece of gutter.  My balcony railing is about 12 feet long, so this worked perfectly for me.  If you need a shorter piece you can cut it smaller, and if you need a larger one there are connector pieces that you can buy.  I also needed to buy a total of two end caps to seal the gutter at each end, and three pieces for mounting the gutter.  These were both found next to the gutters.  I wish that I had thought to take pictures of the pieces before I assembled the gutter. . .  I had to choose between a metal or plastic gutter and accessories.  I went with the plastic because it was thicker and seemed like it might withstand the weight of the dirt better than the metal.  Then I picked out some wire to mount it with.  I chose wire because in my condo complex there are association rules that nothing can be screwed into the brick or railings.  With the wire I can take the gutter down leaving no damage to the railing at all.  There were many different weights of wire to choose from.  I chose one that is about the same thickness as a paperclip.  I found this in the section near hardware to mount pictures on your wall.  On the same shopping trip I also bought organic lettuce, cilantro, parsley, basil, and dill seeds along with a bag of organic potting soil.  For all of these items the total cost was about $35.  I also had to purchase the piece of siding that I used for an awning at a later time.  The siding is twelve feet long and it cost $13.95. 

3.  How did you hang the gutter and the awning?  Pictures will help here.  The first thing that I did was drill a hole about every six inches along each side of the bottom of the gutter to provide adequate drainage.  Then I had my sister help me hold the gutter on the outside of the railing while we attached the gutter to the railing with wire in three different places.  Below you can see the wire in the middle of the picture. 


Below are close ups of three different angles.  I hope they help.  There was a hole at the top of the gutter hanging piece meant for a screw (I think) so we threaded the wire through the hole and then up and around the top of the railing to hold the gutter up.  Then we went around the side of the railing so that it could not slide back and forth or swing outwards. 


We also drilled this hole seen on the bottom of the L shaped piece holding up the gutter and fed the wire through so that the gutter would be held securely to the railing in two different places.  This is just to add security and stability.  Once we had all three of the L pieces secured to the railing the gutter seemed very secure.  We filled it with dirt and then planted the seeds and watered them. 

Now for the awning. . .
Here is a picture of my balcony so that you can see the brick pillars  that sit in each corner.  I wrapped the same wire that I used to hang the gutter around the pillar.  I wrapped two pieces of wire around each pillar and put one a row of bricks higher than the other.  


I threaded the higher wire through the corner of the siding closest to me, and then twisted it as tightly as I could to keep it secure.  I used a pliers to really pull it tight. 


Then I threaded the lower wire through the outside corner of the siding so that it would hang lower than the inside side.  This way when the water drips onto the siding it all rolls off out over the edge of my balcony.  

 
Here you can see the edge of the balcony above me and how the water drips onto the awning and then right out over the edge of the gutter so that the lettuce stays safe from the rough water drops.  The gutter does still get some water on it though, which is good so that I do not have to water it too often using non rain water. 

4.  Do the neighbors below you get mad because the water drips onto their balcony?  No, if you look closely at the picture above you can see that the awning hangs out past the bottom of the balcony above.  All of the balconies are lined up. so that means that the water actually drips out past the balcony below me and straight down to the ground.  They actually probably got more wetness from the rain before I had the gutter there because the stuff dripping from the balcony above me would then continue on off the edge of my balcony and to the one below me. 

- Laura

Farmer's Markets

Every Saturday throughout the summer we would like to feature local produce or local farmer's markets.  If you have a great market or pictures of your produce/market, please let us know!  We would love to share and link back to you!

You can contact us at halfayardblog@gmail.com

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Market Day!

It was very Sunny today for the Urbana Market at the Square.  I brought my camera to grab a few photos of the things I am most excited about:

the flower stands


I think this is a dahlia.  Does anyone know?

cucumbers

blackberries and raspberries

black raspberries...yum!

Um, these roots.


It was a big decision:


But I came home with these:



-Meghan