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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Recycled sweater for Baby Gigi

This is a winter outfit I made for my baby from a recycled cashmere sweater

Laroyces' Fig Jam Recipe

My neighbor Laroyce is an amazing woman. She has lived on and run her 10 acre orange and avocado ranch next door since the 50's. She works outside doing hard work every day , teaches Sunday school, was a missionary in Thailand and raised three boys alone because she was widowed years ago. Many people in the community know her and love her since she was a third grade teacher and taught until she was in her 70's. When I first moved here she convinced me to take in a 12 year old  Chinese exchange student for three weeks. We suffered torrential rains that year and our road was washed out for 5 months. I felt bad taking that boy in since he didn't get to see much those three weeks as we were basically stranded! Laroyce also teaches my seven year old piano, runs a bible study from her home and babysits various neighbor children. All that and she's 82! 

Laroyce makes incredible jam,  especially fig jam , so when she called me saying she had a bumper crop of figs and would I like some,  I headed right over. I made fig jam with pectin from my own trees a couple months ago and honestly, it was pretty mediocre. So when I asked her about her delicious recipe she shared it with me and now I'm going to share it with you. With her permission of course. She has been making this no pectin jam for years . Pectin wasn't always available in the old days. The trick is just to use an equal amount of sugar as fruit and cook it a long time until it thickens up on the spoon. She also never uses a water bath for the jam but I do like to use a water bath just to make sure the jam is sterilized. She didn't want me to take her picture even though I think she is beautiful but she did allow me to take a picture of her fig tree above.

Laroyces' fig jam
Supplies and ingredients
A large canning pot
Canning funnel , tongs, and jars with lids and cover
A food processor
An equal amount of sugar as figs
A lemon

Sterilize the jars and lids in boiling water for 10 minute
2. Wash figs and take the stem off each one

3. Put figs in food processor. You can also just chop them finely.

4. Measure chopped up figs

5. Measure out an equal amount of sugar

6. Add the figs, the sugar, and the juice of a lemon to a stockpot. Cook and stir frequently until the jam runs thickly off the spoon. Mine cooked for 45 minutes.

7. When you first get started put a small dish in the freezer. When you think the jam is ready drop some jam onto the plate. If it hardens up the jam is ready. If it still runs you need to cook it longer.

8. Funnel the jam into the sterilized jars and place the lids and screw caps on them.

9. Place the jars in a large pot of boiling water with the tongs. I forgot to photograph this step but this is what the pot looks like. The water has to cover the tops of the jars at least two inches. Boil the jars for ten minutes, then remove the jars and cool them. Enjoy !

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Little girls peasant style dress

As you probably can tell if you've looked at any of my other girls' designs, I love patterns! This is a new design of mine that still draws on my cupcake theme. Sometimes  my dresses are a little busy but colors and trims on little girls' clothing make me feel happy. I think they make little girls feel happy when they wear them too. They are just on the verge of being costumey and I think they love that. 
This dress has an underskirt with a pleated ruffle with a vertical tuck.
The peasant style top ties in the back. 
Holding the skirt out and a detail of the ruffle and crochet trim.
This dress will be available at my new etsy shop at sewcountrychick in sizes 2 to 8

Monday, September 20, 2010

Sew Along A line skirt Part one

Hi Folks, I'm teaching a class for school girls that starts this week and  called It's Sew Cute! We are making our own pattern for an a-line skirt and then sewing it together . I will be posting the directions on what we are doing in class so the students can follow along starting Thursday. Anyone can join along and I would love to hear any comments you might have. Following is a list of what you will need for the first class :

  1. A sharp pencil and paper scissors
  2. A see thru quilting ruler that we will need for adding seam allowances to the pattern
  3. A hip curve ruler which is really great for drawing waistlines and hip curves but is expensive so optional
  4. Brown butcher paper for making a pattern. You can also use wrapping paper or large pieces of drawing paper taped together.
  5. A soft measuring tape to take your measurements.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Baby sweater made from mens' thrift shop sweaters

I have been collecting wool sweaters at the thrift shop for awhile now. I have an ever-growing assortment of cashmeres, merinos, and plain wools. I know this idea has been getting pretty trendy but there is something about a two dollar cashmere sweater that I just can't resist. Being a sweater hoarder however isn't one of my life's goals so it's time to get sweater crafty!
 The sweaters I don't keep or give away keeping get thrown in the washing machine on hot and the dryer to shrink with the intention of making baby clothes. I've made a few pairs of baby pants and tops and hats but this is my first more complicated piece. It's a little sweater coat I made from a Mccall's pattern designed for polar fleece.
I made this from some Merino Wool sweaters I shrunk in the machine.
I had some trouble with the collar and setting in the too puffy sleeves. This is just a prototype .
The appliques sort of look like eyes don't they?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Happy Labor Day from Port San Luis

Greetings from my 1966 Driftwood Trailer

The perfect kitchen for a Betty Crocker Camp Dinner!

Happy Labor Day folks! We took the Driftwood out for the second time to Avila Beach up on the Central Coast of California. Every RV in the world must have been out so I felt it fitting to send a greeting from my little trailer. I actually cooked sausage and eggs on the tiny stove! There was no water where we camped and the bathroom was down the mountain but the views were unbeatable. Port San Luis in Avila Beach is one of the oldest ports in California, having been a working port for the Spanish and a passenger ship embarcation spot until the early 1900's. Nowadays it is a fishing pier and you can go out fishing for a half day or a whole day on the fishing charters that leave from there. There is an old fish restaurant on the end of the pier called the Port San Luis Inn. There are lots of  sea lions you can watch on the end of the pier too. The whole place has a kind of old California John Steinbeck feel to it. With the economy being the way it is it looks like camping is making a comeback in a major way. It seems the RV world is not immune to the American tendency to supersize everything . The trailers just keep getting bigger and so do the trucks . Our little trailer was totally drarved by these behemoths! It reminded me of the little House in one of my favorite children's books, The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton after they build all the skyscrapers and the little house is left in the middle.
The view of Port San Luis from our campground

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Last week of Summer andBack to School.

My suntanned Dad at Dinner

The pleated Skirt made from One Yard wonders

Goodbye Summer Vacation!

Jean Christophe and Baby Kissa

Friends at the Baby Shower

An art filled wall at Darla's

The view from the glass walled dining room at Darla's

Fist Day of School.
It's been a busy week. Yesterday, Wednesday was the first day of school for my three older kids who are now in the 11th grade 10th grade and second grade. My friend Monique and her husband Jean-Christophe and new baby Kissa are also in town from Paris and they also spent the day with us yesterday. We had a little dinner party last night so I spent all day Tuesday cleaning the house because between having the  kids and their friends home all summer and all my  projects things were really a disaster, kind of like the inside of my sewing box . I also spent the evening trying to find school supplies at  Target and Office Depot. All the other schools started a week before ours so everything was picked over. Isabelle was thrilled to find the last Harajuku Girls notebook at Target. Lily had to settle for a Barbie Folder. Oliver being a teenage boy is way too cool for character stuff and bought plain black and khaki green everything. Upon leaving school Lily informed me that her really "kawaii" meaning cute in Japanese school pencils we bought in Little Tokyo were too flashy for her teachers' utilitarian taste and she is supposed to have the plain yellow ones. So last night after our dinner party we did a KMart run and there wasn't a plain Ticonderoga pencil to be found. Isn't wearing  a uniform enough for her school? I sent my kids to private Catholic School for many reasons but can't they have a little freedom to choose their own pencils? Monday I took Lily to  Vons to sell the last of her candy bars because our first meeting of American Heritage Girls was that afternoon. And what might you ask, is American Heritage Girls? I guess you could call it an offshoot of the Girl Scouts only with a Catholic vein running through it. And guess who co leader is for the 6 to 9 year old Tenderfoot Unit? That's right yours truly. We had a great time making peanut butter pinecone bird feeders. The leaders have to wear khaki bottoms and red polo shirts. I wasn't inspired to make myself something as drab as all that but I did find a cute khaki straight pencil type skirt at the Ralph Lauren Outlet. On wearing it to the meeting I found it a little hard to walk in though. Oh well! Sunday was also a busy day. After going to morning mass the whole family, except 16 year old Oliver who went to the beach with his friends headed down to Venice Beach for a Baby Shower for my friend Monique held at her friend Darlas place. Darla owns a boutique on Abbitt-Kinney in Venice and her significant other is an artist who built their house which was modern and interesting . It was half made of glass and filled with funky art. We had fun at the party and ended the day having dinner at I Cugini on Ocean Avenue, our old standby for delicious Italian food which we have been going to for 20 years. We also checked out the newly rebuilt Santa Monica Place which is now an outdoor mall. It was beautiful but felt really touristy without the charm of the Third Street Promenade next door. Last but not least I started working on my first patternless garment since I'm tired of patterns that don't fir right. I draped it on to my dress form. I call it the Barbie Dress. I also made a little girls simple pleated skirt from the book I bought One Yard Wonders. It was super easy  to make. You draft it right onto the fabric.
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