Monday, October 25, 2010

Me a Reporter!?!

A few weeks back a national magazine posted a call on their facebook page for bloggers who might be interested in writing for their publication, asking that we post a link so they could check them out and see if anyone fit the pun intended.  What happened when I saw the call sort of defies definition except to say I just knew I was supposed post the link to my blog...that this was my opportunity.  I cannot explain it any other way, I knew this door was something I was supposed to walk up and knock on.
""There is an appointed time for everything." Ecc 3:1

Friday I received an email from them saying they needed a bit more info and would be making a decision very soon.  So I was left to wonder all weekend what would happen.  I did alright until this morning when I could feel my muscles tense with anticipation and found myself checking my mailbox more than normal in hopes finding their email with the final decision in it.

Somewhere around 8:30 am my time I took one more look in the ol' email inbox and there it was...from the senior editor...I GOT THE JOB!   Its not a lot of money, it is actually quite a humble paycheck but it will be fun, I will be challenged to keep learning which I love, answer people's questions which I love to do and I will have a perfect excuse to watch birds.  Oh and of course I'll get to write about a favorite subject and get paid to do so!  WOW! I am crazy excited, full of good tension and my brain is going a hundred miles a second on what comes next.  Probably a good time to sit down and write up a list of things I need to accomplish.

I wonder how well I will do, where this may take me in the future, what connections I will garner through this work and how long I will be doing it.  God only knows so I'm putting my hand in His and walking out into this strange and exciting adventure, dedicating each step to Him and giving Him thanks for a wonderful opportunity. 
For the ways of a man are before the eyes of the Lord and He watches over all His paths.  Proverbs 5:21

So in January when you pick up a copy of "Birds and Blooms" magazine, look for me in the regional reports section.  I will be writing blog postings for them starting in January also.

Have a blessed day,

Friday, October 8, 2010

Lettuce Sow Hope Card

Lettuce Sow Hope

A few weeks ago a good friend of mine was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Then a couple weeks ago another friend was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  Not everyone I know is suffering from cancer though as a third friend is awaiting a lung transplant after being put on the top tier of the transplant list.  It seems there is a lot of physical suffering going around.  However there is also something else going around that somehow in the midst of sometimes dire diagnosis blooms and thrives in these seemingly desperate situations...hope.

I am always amazed at the hope that I find in the midst of the lives of those I've seen walk through suffering.  It is one of the most surprising and uplifting things a person can experience when the one who is suffering administers a dose to the onlooker.  So this is my inspiration for this card design.  So, Nancy, Roger and Ron...this one is for you.  May you and your families be encouraged along this journey, find rest in the Lord who watches over your lives and may you never lose hope.  I love you all.

At my local Craft Warehouse Store in Gresham they have a "Stamp and Scrap"  club that meets the second Thursday of each month.  Its one of those in-store show-and-tell crafty get-together clubs where we get to see all the cool new products, share things we've made and also take part in "the challenge" and sometimes, like this last time, we get samples of products to see what fun things we creative types can come up with.  This last club we were offered these fun molded plastic shaker box embellishments that you can attach to a card with some fun stuff inside so it shakes making the already your already wonderful project even more fun.  I knew exactly what I wanted to use them for the second I saw them so grabbed them from Amber (our awesome club leader).
Edges are peel and stick..easy peasy!
Every year I save seeds from my lettuce, flowers and from other gardens when I find something I love...with permission of course if it is from another person's garden.  So with all these seeds  I am always looking for creative ways to present a few of these seeds as gifts to friends for their gardens.  When I saw those little shaker boxes I knew the seeds would work perfectly in them and what a great way to share them.  So my "Sow Hope" cards were given birth.  Here's the how-to so you can spread a little hope around too.

  • White glue
  • Beacon's 3-in-1 Advanced Crafting Glue
  • Pop-dots - 1/4" size
  • 1/4" foam glue dots
  • Bright colored tissue paper (gold and turquoise)
  • Shaker box embellishments
  • 1/4" satin ribbon
  • Graphic 45 Paper "On the Boardwalk Collection-Malt Shop #4500198
  • 4" square card with envelope (white)
  • Lettuce seeds
  • Letter stamps - The Angel Company "Alpha Bits"
  • Pallette Ink - Noire (black) and Bourdeaux
  • Fine textured Sponge (for distressing edges)
  • Tombow Marking Pen - #452 (a sky blue color)
  • Distressing tool
  • Tweezers - the finer the better for this project.
  • Fine scissors - for paper piecing.

Now for the how too.
First lets make the seed confetti so they can be drying while we create the rest.

Run a couple lines of glue on your tissue paper

Spread out the glue using your finger.

This does two makes it faster for the glue to dry and creates  a good surface to place the seeds.  Also you don't want the seeds sitting in too much moisture for too long or they might begin to sprout and that would be a bad thing if they were not for planting until next spring.

Use tweezers to place the seeds on the glue

The fact that you may get a bit of glue on the tweezers can be helpful in picking up the seeds as long as its not a glob of glue.

Fold the tissue over the top of the glued area.

I suppose you could actually use two sheets of tissue but that is more cutting and more steps so I just folded one piece over on itself which worked great.

Press firmly so the seeds are secure between the layers of tissue.

**Set aside to dry**

When dry begin to cut apart into diamond shaped confetti, each with its own little seed

To do this you just cut diagonal hash lines between the seeds.  Then cut down the paper to make each one a diamond shape.  They don't have to be perfect.

Set these aside to further dry.

They need to be completely dry or they may mold inside the shaker box.

Make the Ribbon Frame for the shaker box

Take the shaker box and cut four pieces of ribbon to just a bit longer than sides and cut a v into the ends of each piece.  Glue them onto the plastic edges to create a frame that will hide the edges. I ran a thin line of the 3-in1 glue on the top edge of the frame and then laid the ribbon on top of that to glue pressing it down.  This was easier and not nearly as messy as putting glue on the ribbon and then trying to place it on the shaker box edges.
**Set aside to dry.**

Make the card base and image for paper piecing
Cut a 4" square piece of the swirl patterned side of the paper to glue on the front of the 4" square card.
Carefully cut out one of the ladies from the opposite side of the remaining sheet

Dry fit your card layout

Dry fit just means you are not gluing anything down yet.  Do not miss skip this step as once things are glued down you cannot move them. Once the glue on the ribbon is set you can figure out the layout of the card by setting everything up without gluing it down yet.  You can use a light pencil mark to note where you want to glue things down.  Just remember the marks will need to either be covered up or erased later.

When the seed confetti is completely dry you can begin to construct your card.  The biggest challenge in making this card is getting the shaker box on properly.  I noted by eye where I wanted it during the dry fit process and then when ready put the confetti inside the box and carefully, bottom edge first, placed it on the card.  This is quite tricky since it is a peel and stick product and wants to be glued down all at once.  The confetti wants to stick to the sticky edges too so you need to be sure to not let them slip onto the sticky edges so the whole shaker needs to be open side face up or pretty close to that during this process. You sort of have to hold it above eye level to get it where you want.  I positioned mine, pressed down the bottom edge and then could flip it over to finish pressing it on where I could see it better. wasn't perfect but I got mine nearly where I wanted and almost straight.  I think I need to find some tips and tricks for doing this better.  If I find any I will let you know...or if you know of any please post a comment for us will you.

Stamping the word lettuce

Once the box was in place I could then stamp the word "lettuce" in a free form fashion on the card front using the black stamp ink.

Next place the lady in her rightful spot.
I liked the idea of a dimensional card so I placed her so she is resting on the upper corner of the shaker box and used foam glue dots to raise up the rest of her up off the face of the card.  To achieve this I put the foam glue dots on the part of her that would float above the card but without removing the protective paper from the side where she would be glued down.  They were stuck on her but would not stick to anything else that way until I was ready.  When I was ready to glue her down I took a pop-dot and stuck it on her elbow where she would attach to the shaker box.  Then removed the covers off from her foam glue dots and set her in place pressing her on firmly.

Foam Glue Dots add dimension
The foam glue dots work great to add dimension to paper pieced items on cards and scrapbook pages.  You can stack them up to make a couple different heights for an even more interesting piece if you have more than one paper piecing item to attach.

Distressing the edges
I used the "distressing tool" to rough up the clean edges of the card and paper.  These little tools are so cool...they cost about $3.00 and are one of my "must have" tools because they add so much character to a project.

Next I took a fine textured sponge and dobbed it into the Bourdeax Ink pad and onto the edges of the card and also a bit on the lady to pull the look together better.  It really made the edges of the card pop and the whole project come to life.  I do this a lot on cards that seem to look "flat" to my eye.

The one thing I would say is I did all this distressing as an afterthought and after the rest of it was all put together.  I don't recommend doing it this way at all.  After I had put the card together it just looked like it needed something more and that is why I did mine this way.  The next time I make it I will definitely do it before things are put together to avoid damaging the card or to ensure that if a mistake were made I would not have ruined what I had already created in the process.

Inside the card

Finally I wrote inside the card.  "Lettuce Sow Hope" on the right side of the card leaving room for a personal note.

Including the seed name

On the backside of where the shaker box on the left side I wrote the type of seeds they are.  I will also be inserting sowing instructions for the little seeds. On the back of the card I noted the seeds were collected from my garden.

Have a blessed day and I hope this will help you to sow your own seeds of hope to others.

Copyright © 2010 by Patty Hicks

All rights reserved. No part of this blog may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including printing, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system without written permission from the author, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a review. All reviews must include author's name and a link back to this blog.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Quince Adventures Continue

Today is one of those drippy gray days that begs for a good book and something warm to sip on.  However today I found that the last of the quince fruit was calling my name begging to be processed.  Oh the sacrifices we make for food.

Now I don't mind this sacrifice much except that I ended up with a really nice raw spot on my finger after I peeled back the skin off a blister I didn't realize I  had gotten from cutting up the first crockpot full of quince.  I told you it took some doing to cut them up and this proves it.  Makes me wanna wear gloves next year.  Enough whining.  Where was I?

So the sauce turned out yummy.  I found that a crammed full crock pot needs at least 3 cups of sugar to get it to a good sweetness.  This sauce is so yummy and rich with just the right tartness that I could eat it every day and never get tired of it.  We don't like sugary sweet stuff in our house much and I just adore the juxtaposition of flavors so this sauce is my favorite hands down.  Sweet and tart, smooth, yet a bit of texture and the color is gorgeous.  I think it would be amazing made into a quick pan chutney type sauce with bits of sauteed onion, mustard seed, raisins, some spice, a splash of vinegar, some brown sugar and fresh lemon zest...oh and a dash of fresh ground black pepper.  (It must be the cooler cloudy weather today...I am so inspired to cook!)

I discovered that the longer you cook the fruit the rosier they become in color.  The bowl on the right was cooked for about 45 minutes on the stove.  The bowl on the left is the crock pot version which was simmered for a few hours.

(This looks a bit more orange than it really is.)
 The first crock pot full made 10 pints plus 5 cups of beautiful rosy juice that I can make into jelly or glaze or maybe gelato.  It has such a wonderfully rich yet refreshing flavor I think it would make delightful gelato.  (I promise I'll post what happens if I do.)

Food mill and a glass of Quince juice (watered down a bit)
Getting the cooked fruit to sauce is easy using one of the hand crank type food mills.  My German sensibilities make me a real stickler for getting as much as possible without waste so I take my time and have very little that doesn't end up in the sauce.  The peels actually grind right up being much more tender than apple peel.  Because this fruit does not cook down like apples do I do not use the core of the fruit...I may have to figure out how to remedy this loss...maybe for jelly or something where the pectin from around the seeds can be taken advantage of.  I'm sure there has got to be a lot of pectin in the seed cavity of the core too as those little seeds are loaded with it.  Another idea for another year I suppose.

As I'm cutting beautiful fruit with their pristine light yellow exteriors and sliced it open and found these brown spots (oh no!!!) Having no idea what makes these brown spots I decided to just toss the affected fruit unless the spots were easy to cut out.  I just hate when this happens.  Its so disappointing.

Gotta find out what this is all about.
I guess part of my disappointment is I always have secretly wanted this tree to somehow magically remain relatively pest and disease free.  Looks like that is not going to happen without a little help from the gardener (me) but it still is pretty care free so I'm happy.  Back to the sauce.
All boxed up ready to freeze

Freezing is my preferred method of storing this sauce and I have found it a good idea to mark the top and sides of the containers and pay attention that the labels are facing out so I can see them easily when needed.

Here's a little historical note I found while looking for why the fruit turns rosy when cooked.  (thanks to Wikipedia for the factoid)
"Marmalade" originally meant a quince jam, which originates from the Portuguese word for the fruit.  Quince is native to from the Middle East, Ukraine, southern Europe to China.

Copyright © 2010 by Patty Hicks

All rights reserved. No part of this blog may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including printing, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system without written permission from the author, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a review. All reviews must include author's name and a link back to this blog.