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Monday, December 15, 2008

A Merry Little Book

While browsing through the fabric section, I came across a printed panel that could be assembled into a children's book. The story is an abbreviated version of A Merry Little Christmas by Mary Englebreit. This was the first time I had ever seen such a panel. I immediately decided to make one of the fabric books for my niece for Christmas. The directions were fairly clear, but I adapted them slightly to save time.

I did not cut out the panels on the outside edge. Instead, I cut in the middle between the two panels. After making the 3 quilt sandwiches, I sewed the pieces together making sure to leave an opening for turning. Before turning, I trimmed the excess fabric and batting with my rotary cutter and mat. I also cut the corners off to reduce the fabric that would bunch up when turned.

Once the fabric was turned, I pressed each piece to flatten the seams. I also pressed the seams of the opening inward to make it easier to sew. Using an invisible slip stitch, I hand sewed the openings closed then pressed the seams again.

Lining up the 3 "pages" was a little challenging since they weren't exactly the same size (I am certain this was due to the panel printing, not my sewing skills). Once the binding was sewn the only thing left to do was to write my niece's name on the back cover.

The book is really cute and I think my niece will enjoy chewing on it.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Peppered Citrus Jam

For our annual Christmas raffle I was selected to buy for my husband's cousin. This was a bit challenging since this cousin isn't the easiest to buy for. I didn't want to take any chances so instead of asking around, I went straight to the source. After asking him what he would like, I found out that he would enjoy some peppered citrus jam (he is a foodie).

I have recently started making jams and jellys, so this was a good fit. The process portion wasn't too difficult. I have already successfully made mint jelly, pomegranate jelly, and quince jam/jelly. The challenge for this gift was a recipe for the peppered citrus jam. I wanted to use locally grown mandarins as the primary citrus source, so I started from there.

After doing a quick google search, I found a reference recipe that I could use for general ingredient guidelines. In the end here is the recipe I created:

8-10 Satsuma mandarins (seedless with very thin skins)
1 lemon (from my backyard)
1 jalepeno
2 cups sugar (100% pure cane)
1.5 packages Ball No Sugar Needed Fruit Pectin


  1. Prepare the jars, lids, rings, and boiling water canner
  2. Peel the mandarins, reserving the skin. Separate each mandarin into two halves so they lay flat. Slice across each half so you get 1/2 inch chunks. Toss into the saucepan.
  3. Add enough water to barely cover the mandarins
  4. Using a potato peeler, peel the outside layer of the lemon (leave the white behind). Slice and chop the skin from the lemon and 3 mandarins into small pieces. Add the peels to the pot.
  5. Remove the remaining white from the lemon. Slice the lemon into chunks like the mandarin and add to the pot.
  6. Remove the stem and inner membrane/seeds of the jalepeno. Chop into small pieces and add to the citrus mixture. Note: Be careful when touching the pepper, I used a disposable glove so I wouldn't get any oil on my fingers.
  7. Bring the mixture to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for about and hour. There should be about 4 cups of the citrus pepper mixture in the pot.
  8. Following the directions for Cooked Jam from the insert in the pectin, bring the mixture back to a boil and add the pectin.
  9. Once the mixture is at a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down, add the sugar. Boil for 3 minutes stirring constantly.
  10. Fill and process hot jars in a boiling water bath. Set on a towel and cover until cool. Don't be surprised if you hear a popping sound coming from your kitchen, it's just the jars sealing.
I haven't opened one of the jars yet to taste the final product. I did sample a bit off the spoon when I was cleaning up. It had a nice citrus flavor, not too sweet, with a solid pepper finish. The jam set well and has a good color.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Reversible Apron

After taking the week of Thanksgiving off (and having a great time), I woke up Monday morning with a sore throat. Yep, I had finally caught whatever bug was going around. I already bought fabric to make sister in law #1 this cute reversible half-apron for her birthday. After recuperating for a couple of days, I was feeling well enough to sew. I managed to make the apron and even added some pockets to one side (not from the original design). This was the first time I made pockets and was happy with the results. They are a little difficult to see since I used the same fabric as the background. By the way, she really liked the apron.
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