gifting

It’s the gifting time of year, and no matter how many items I check off the gift list, I never feel right until I include something home-made in the mix.

Over the years, I have made and given:

Ginger Lime Syrup - web

Ginger Lime Syrup for making home made Ginger Ale – also delicious in tea and apple dishes

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A beach bag with a hand made pouch

 

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Home made bird suet

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A refillable burlap bird feeder

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It was popular with the recipients as well as with the birds.

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Regifting wine bags

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And various gifts for my chicken lover friends –

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And my cat lover friends

I hope someone will get some ideas for making some hand made gifts of their own. Let me know if you have any questions about any of these. Happy Gifting!

 

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managing the produce

DSC_0013My vegetable garden is in full production this time of year, and I’ve come up with some strategies to not waste a bit of it.Tomatoes, Pillows, L & T Homecoming 001Tomato pie is a favorite. It gets a layer of goo over it before I cook it, but that wasn’t a pretty picture.Dill veggies, apple crisp, kitchen 022Green beans, daikon, and cucumbers all get thrown into the same brine. I don’t trust my canning skills, so I just put them into the fridge. I also toss hot peppers into an empty jar of pepperoncini (save the brine). This preserves them until we get around to eating them.DSC_0059I make pesto out of the basil and freeze what I don’t use.

Salsa and IngredientsI keep a big bowl of salsa in the fridge all season long. We eat it with pizza, eggs, pasta AND Mexican food.DSC_0036Lastly, I just chop it all up to add to salads, sandwiches & cooking. Whatever’s left over gets frozen and added to soup in the fall. What do you do to manage the produce?

empty nest

I wanted to be a mom for as long as I can remember, and I have been blessed to be a mom for more than 27 years. I desperately wanted to be the best mom in the world, but I didn’t know how. So, like every mom, I did the best that I could.BabiesLuckily, my best was good enough. These three people are all stellar human beings.Kids readingThis week, my youngest moved out.DSC_0039Our spice jars sent him on his way.

 

 

EDIT – FOR DERRICK

 

Tiger Lilies

Every year I look forward to lily time, and these are my favorite. I don’t know their real name. In our family, these are Grandma’s Tiger Lilies.

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Grandma’s Tiger Lily

 

This is Grandma in 1930 at age 18. I see my mom in her.

Grandma

Anna Burger Age 18

 

This is Grandma and Grandpa holding a baby me in 1963. Grandma & Grandpa

And this is Grandma with her siblings in 1978. They are all gone now.Grandma & SibsThis picture was taken on Grandma’s farm in Fawn Grove, PA. This is where the tiger lilies came from. My mom took some (as she is wont to do) and made them a part of her yard. When I moved here 22 years ago, she shared, as she is also wont to do.

 

DSC_0024 (2)They are tall; many of them are well over my 5 feet 7 inches.

DSC_0021I’ve planted them everywhere.

DSC_0077I want to have plenty to share with my children.  And grandchildren . . .

epilogue : bunnies

So far, so good with our baby bunnies.

DSC_0054They are still little, as you can tell by this photo by a coneflower. (Gee, Riley, how did that lovely coneflower get trampled on to the ground?)

DSC_0041About a week after the bunnies left the nest I got up at 5:30, which is earlier than usual. I saw an adult rabbit and a baby together. They were grazing near the herb garden and when the adult hopped into the herb garden the baby immediately followed. I like to think it was the mom hanging around with her kids.DSC_0043I’m not seeing them as much; I think they are making their way to greener pastures. It’s been an interesting experience, but with a bunny-hunting dog in the family, I won’t be happy if I find another nest.

bunnies

Remember the little bunny from my last post? BUPDATE bunny update   I kept an eye on him and he didn’t move from that spot all day. When his mom showed up that evening, she didn’t sit around eating for hours as was her habit. She hopped right up to where the baby was, hopped inside the fence and started nursing him. I had never seen her even near the nest in the daylight.

I am now thinking that he was the LAST to leave the nest, not the first, because there are baby bunnies everywhere and they are all bigger than he. They all have claimed a garden, and when Riley gets too close they shoot out the other side.

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The bunny from the herb garden

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The bunny from the party garden

And here’s the most interesting one:DSC_0002 (1)This bunny chose as his special spot the area under our upside down kayak. He’s been there for two days and never runs away, even we walk within 6 feet of his hiding spot. Riley has yet to notice him.

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The kayak bunny

BUPDATE ***bunny update***

My daughter, Laney, was the first to see him. DSC_0017 (1)This little cutie is the first to emerge from the nest.  In backyard nature , I explained that I was afraid the mother had been killed. But, as you can see, all is well. This little guy is only a foot away from his nest. He likely got impatient waiting for mom to come and feed him at dark.

We’ll have to keep the dog on a leash for a while – at this point the little fellas could be anywhere.

Do you see the white mark on the top of his head? I hope he keeps it forever.

backyard nature

My policy concerning nature is to never interfere unless I must. Often I must. When our first nest of bunnies this year was found by our dog, my husband yelled at her to drop the (unharmed) bunny. I searched for an hour to find the nest and put the baby back where he belonged. I checked for a few days to be sure the mom was coming and going. Now there are tiny bunnies in every garden

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The first bunny nest was behind the chairs in the jungle of plants.

The most recent bunny nest is out in the middle of the yard.DSC_0030

I found this nest before the dog did, and put a few layers of fence around it. Again, I checked for a few days so I knew the mother was visiting and feeding her babies, and I hadn’t scared her off with the fencing.

But this afternoon, we saw an adult bunny that had been killed by a car. We’re really hoping it’s not the mom of any babies.DSC_0029I put this marking over the nest, so I can tell tomorrow if mom has been by.  I’m really hoping she has, because I don’t want to be faced with a nest full of hungry babies.

THE NEXT DAY:  When I first checked the nest this morning, the X of straw was still there and I was crushed.  I assumed that the mom hadn’t been there. But then I checked the picture I had taken last night, and nothing was the same. The X wasn’t at right angles, as it is in the first picture. There was no visible fur, and that brown and green leaf was nearly buried. So if anyone ever is faced with a similar situation, taking a picture is a great idea. The changes are subtle.

 

a ruckus and a fracas

We have a bird house full of baby house wrens, and they are the noisiest baby birds I have ever heard. As they have gotten bigger, their noise is nearly constant and is audible from all over the yard. I Googled “noisiest baby birds,” and house wrens were often listed. So it’s a thing.

I took a video so you could hear them:  Our noisy baby house wrens

DSC_0020There was one baby who clogged up the exit hole. His is the voice most often heard.

 

DSC_0017Does he look a little grumpy to you?

 

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creativity 5 – persistance

Do you remember this?grilling-june-garden-hummingbird-009This is a photo from my post creativity 2 – make mistakes , nearly two years ago. Despite heroic efforts on my part, I was never able to overcome the effects of gravity, and the plants kept falling out of the frame. But I liked the idea and I persisted.DSC_0011I replanted the succulents into the garden so they could growDSC_0003and thriveDSC_0013and establish roots.DSC_0135And then I tried again. I found this weird little box at Goodwill for $1. I thought it needed some succulents. So, far, it’s Gravity: 1,  Jodie: 1.

a hard year on the garden

About a year ago, my biggest (75% of my annual income) client retired without notice. What ensued was what I can only call “The Year of Work.” When I wasn’t working, I was searching for other clients, jobs, etc. I gardened and created very little, and I missed it terribly.

The garden missed me, as well. DSC_0127This is my vegetable garden today. Riley is quite disappointed in the weeds and the chaos. All I can do at this point is to dig up the good stuff (asparagus & strawberries) and start over. It’s mostly weeds and I don’t have the gumption to fight them.

And then there was the winter: DSC_0006 (1)The heavy, wet snowfall in March was too much for my evergreens.

DSC_0002Branches snapped right off.

DSC_0077And a whole tree toppled over.

It was a hard year on my garden, and, I have to admit, it was a hard year on me, as well. But no more.

This year I will continue to work hard on my business. But I will make the time for those things that make me happy. That means relaxing with my family, gardening, and creating. Thus begins The Year of Jodie.

writing for magazines

My newest sewing article is out, and I thought it might be interesting to explain how the process works.

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Almost a year ago, I sent Sew News an email with the picture above. I said I’d like to write an article explaining how to make these 3 pillows I was working on. After 3 weeks or so, they got back to me and said yes, I have the assignment. At that point they sent a contract detailing what they wanted (process photos, instructions, patterns, etc). They also gave me a due date and told me what they would pay me. I got to work.

Prior to the due date, I packed up the pillows and mailed them to the Sew News office for a photo shoot. I sent the article, patterns, and photos of the process via email. Months later, I got paid. Months after that, I got the pillows back along with the latest copy of Sew News magazine with my article in it.

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It’s on sale now in bookstores, sewing stores, and craft stores.

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Cozy Place

Ever since my kids started moving out, I’ve been thinking of ways to lure them back. Not permanently, I love that they are off living their own wonderful lives, but I do like lots and lots of visits.

My latest project has been a “guest room” in the space in the attic that was my former office. I cleaned it up and used what I had to try to make it cozy. I guess it worked; my daughter’s boyfriend liked it enough to take a picture.Cozy Place

Then my daughter put it on Reddit last night and almost 30,000 people liked it. Cozy Spaces

My grandmother’s rug anchors the space. It was a real treat hauling that up from the basement. Old pillows and pieced-together fabric scraps make comfy floor pillows. The sturdy felt bin is great for blanket storage.DSC_0045

I recovered a chair the cat had ruined. Then I layered on a quilt and another pillow.  I use the old shutter and clothespins to put up pictures and notes.

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An old milk crate is the night stand.

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I didn’t want to block any light with curtains, so I made a “valence” out of embroidery hoops and fabric scraps.DSC_0034

My husband built this bookshelf years ago. It’s great for storage and keeps people from plummeting down the steps.

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Happy Holidays

One of the great things about having adult children is the people they bring into our lives. After a while the friends and boyfriends and girlfriends start walking in without knocking. The dog knows them and stays on the sofa and wags her tail. (Instead of going ballistic like she would if a stranger came into the house.)DSC_0009

I decided this year that my daughter’s boyfriend and son’s girlfriend needed their own homemade stockings. An official welcome to the family.

Enjoy your holidays, everyone.

the summer day

My husband spotted two Luna Moths the other day. They had just emerged and were drying out.

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I’ve only ever seen one before, despite that fact that we have cherry, willow, and persimmon trees (all of which are host plants), on our property.

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Note the grape-sized persimmon for scale. This is a BIG moth.

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They don’t have mouths and will live only one week.

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I’ve been given 54 years already: what riches. It makes me embarrassed to squander even a moment. I like how Mary Oliver said it: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

 

my favorite things

I’ve been thinking about my favorite vegetable to grow, harvest and cook, and to my utter surprise, it’s swiss chard. It’s super good for me; it has vitamins K, A and C, and it is anti-inflammatory & has anti-oxidants.DSC_0031As a plant, it’s easy. It always grows; I’ve never had one die on me. It forgives me if I don’t pick it at just the right moment. It keeps growing all summer, and it’s pretty. DSC_0048It’s simple to prepare. I rinse the leaves off, pile them up, slice them lengthwise 3 or 4 times, then chop it up.DSC_0056 I saute it in olive oil and water with onions, garlic, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes (because red pepper flakes are good with everything). It’s tasty just like that.  But I make a ton of it and keep it in the fridge to do this:

  • add to eggs and omelets
  • spread over sautéed chicken & top it with swiss/parmesan cheese
  • spread on top of pizza
  • add to any kind of pasta
  • add to soups and beans
  • toss into salads
  • spread onto toasted bread (with or without cheese – oh never mind – WITH cheese)

So I have to give an A+ to swiss chard: healthy, easy, simple, delicious.

the double bind

Riley web 002Have you met Riley? She’s 112 pounds of hairy love. And I do mean hairy.20170422_213444

I’ve made a bunch of scrap quilts to try to keep the furniture clean.  I pull them up and wash them: so much so that they are now frayed along the edges.

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I sewed a second binding to this ragged quilt and loved the result. Not only did I clean up the ragged edge, but I added a second layer of fun to the binding. Super cute. It makes me want to have a double bind on all of my quilts.

love spring

I haven’t seen a hummingbird yet,  April 29, which is late for me, but Spring is in full bloom here in South Jersey.DSC_0031Some of the Columbines are over 4 feet tall.  Sigh. I remember when Columbine was just a flower.DSC_0033Aren’t they pretty?

DSC_0037 (2)The bed by the front porch looks to have a promising year.DSC_0040 (2)The bed by the driveway looks pretty good, as well.DSC_0043The raised bed herb garden has some winter survivors as well as popsicle sticks promising good things to come.DSC_0045And here, my dears, is what my beloved party garden looks like on this very day. A sad, sad remnant of our glorious fall season together, as witnessed below.DSC_0006But, happily, my Sad Clematis has hung in there.DSC_0046Love Spring.

creativity 4 – know yourself

DSC_0009Do not adjust your screen; there IS no color in this quilt.  When my son saw how my daughter’s quilt birthday quilt looked, he let me know that he’d like a similar one some day.  So, here is my third big quilt, and the only other color I ever used was yellow. i am a quilter

All the quilts have been unplanned and random. I used what I had and only bought fabric as needed. The quilting on all three is straight (ish) line and close. I know this kind of monotony would drive some people nuts, but I like it. DSC_0016I also like silence when I’m at a difficult point. I can watch TV or listen to music when I am quilting the straight lines, but I prefer quiet when I am piecing the front of the quilt. I tend to be supply driven; what do I have and what can I make from it? I’d rather not follow patterns; I prefer to stumble along on my own. This results in lots of failures, but it’s what works for me.

What works for you?