My crafting and family life journal

Late season apples

Apple pieYesterday I picked the norther spy variety of apples in our small orchard. They are an extra special treat since they mature so late in the season and only produce biannually. This semi-tart crush Apple is great eating apple that is also good for baked goods and sauces. After picking through and crating the apples for storage we were left with a few dozen damaged apples that would not keep. Since we already used early season apples to make enough cider, apple sauce and apple butter of the next year so I used some of the damaged apples to make the first apple pie of the season for our house. The remaining set-asides were peeled, sliced and bagged for the freezer. We waste very little in this house so the peels were prepared and stored to age into Apple cider vinegar.

Apple cider vinegar

Frosty evenings have started for the season so we had some major yard and coop cleanup to do yesterday. The long day in the yard left little time for dinner preparation and after a fair amount of physical labor we really wanted something hot and filling for dinner. Fortunately the early morning hours were a bit cold to head outside so I made a couple of loaves of Hawaiian bread that was paired with a Swiss chard and cannelloni bean soup for dinner. The semi-sweet bread paired very well with the satisfying savory soup that took less than 30 minutes to prepare.

Swiss chard and bean soup


  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped or crushed
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup uncooked orzo ( I use Delallo organic orzo)
  • 1 bunch of Swiss chard, cut into thin ribbons. Separate and save chopped stems ( can also use bunch of kale or 3 cups of chopped spinach)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed
  • Juice of a fresh lemon
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over a medium heat. Add garlic, onions and chopped Swiss chard stems, and cook until onions become translucent.
  2. Stir thyme and basil into onion mixture and cook until fragrant (about 1 minute).
  3. Stir vegetable stock, bay leaves and 1 cup of water into pot mixture. Bring mixture to a boil.
  4. Add orzo to the pot and reduce the heat so that the mixture simmers. Cook until the orzo is tender (10-12 minutes).
  5. Add cannelloni beans, Swiss chard and lemon juice to the pot and simmer for another 3-4 minutes
  6. Turn off heat and stir in chopped parsley, salt and pepper. Serve with a nice bread.

Hawaiian bread

Hope you enjoy the soup as much as we did.

nestedSquaresFinished another quilt top this morning. I wanted to make a thank you gift for a friend who stepped outside of her comfort zone to assist us in a time of need. Even though I have not felt like quilting for the last month or so I needed to create something relatively quickly that I would be proud to gift. What I ended up doing for the project was to match a solid Kona cotton with a jelly roll of Batik fabrics to create blocks that created blocks within blocks using the log cabin technique.  The jelly roll fabrics were 2 1/2 inches wide, solid fabric within the blocks 1 1/2 inches in width, solid bands between blocks 2 inches wide, and border 2 1/2 inches wide. I really like the finished top and hope that she will as well.

What do you think of this top?

September project update

This month I finished one needlepoint project and start two more and a Blackwork piece. I have a tendency to  loose interest and items have a tendency to risk falling into the UFO pile if I don’t switch back and forth between projects.

A canvas I bought 5-6 years ago has made it onto my frame. I work on this unit when we are watching tv in the family room ( I really don’t pay much attention to tv so it is always nice to have something else to do).


Progress is also being made on one of my own needlepoint designs. I really love working on this 14 point canvas. It allows me to use some yummy knitting yarns.

Lady at the water needlepoint

Closeup of dress stitch

Closeup of dress stitch

Closeup of water stitch

Closeup of water stitch

This past week I also started a new Blackwork project. I really love the geometric pattern so have been spending a number of my evening hours working on the project.


Lady at the lake

I started the second project in my dancing lady series a few weeks ago. The series will contain four 4 foot by 6 foot works when completed. Each work will have the same female figure as the central focus with a different background and medium.

The first lady project was a quilt top finished in the spring that still waiting to be quilted.

dancing to the light of the moon

The second is a large needlepoint piece that allows me to explore a series of very interesting stitches and yarns. I found drawing the pattern on the canvas very easy, but made a number of mistakes when painting the canvas. I used the wrong type of brush to paint with so had some heavy spots on the unit, and allowed the painted canvas to dry on newspaper which caused the newsprint to adhere in places on the back of the canvas.  Both mistakes could be worked around with a bit of effort but I distorted the canvas a bit when correcting the issues, hopefully I can correct the situation when blocking the unit. All in all I learned a number of valuable lessons and will do better with my next needlepoint design.

lady on the lake needlepoint

So far the stitch that I am using for the dress is one of my favorites, but have selected a really interesting bargello pattern that uses three shades of blue for the water that may become a new favorite.

needlepoint stich
What are some of your favorite stitches?

Blackwork sampler complete

Finished my first blackwork sampler yesterday. Many of the stitches used in the piece can be found on the Byrd’s Nest, Imaginesque, and Blackwork Journey sites if you would like to try them out.blackwork_samplerAfter working on the project off and on for the past four months I put aside two days to finish the sampler, knowing it I didn’t finish it soon it would end up in the UFO pile. I really enjoyed the complexity and geometry of the patterns but don’t think I take on another sampler. Instead I will take the skills learned from this project and create something closer to the types of designs I normally create — that is when a few of my started projects are finished :)

When the winter weather keeps us in the house for longer periods of time the blackwork sampler will be integrated into a quilt top I am making for a family member.

What are some of the projects that you have been working on this summer?

August: the month of canning

tomatoesAugust was so packed with activity that it came and went very quickly. During the month we took a road trip to visit with family in PA, picked blueberries and blackberries, harvested and canned a number of vegetables, and dehydrated a large number of herbs and root veggies.

canningWe canned green beans, carrots, various types of tomatoes, cucumbers, condiments, fruit jams, and small batch specialty items (even made some tomato jam for my mother).  The dehydrator ran almost daily packed with dill, basil, flat and curly parsley, sage, cilantro, kohlrabi, carrots, green beans, kale chips, apple chips and various greens.

dehydratorMid-month I also started the first batch of sauerkraut and apple cider vinegar to fermenting.

fermentingThe cool summer caused a number of our herbs to bolt so we let them go to seed thus allowing us to collect things like dill seed and coriander for the pantry.

At this in time point in time most of the flat surfaces in the kitchen are covered with trays of beans and seeds in various stages of the drying cycle.

In general, we got a lot of winter food prep done this month, but we didn’t get in any kayaking or hiking… hopefully we will have better luck in September.

How have your gardens been doing? What type of items have you preserved?


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