Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Lost Art of Canning: Apricot Jam

Our house is adrift in apricot heaven.

Over the past couple of days we (me, Jared, and my mom) did a ton of canning and made scrumptious apricot jam.  I hadn't canned before in the real, for sure they're gonna make it, kind of method which involves a lot of boiling water.  But this time I decided to go for it, and to be honest, it's not that hard.

My quick & easy recipe for jam is this:

3/4 fill a huge pot (think mine is maybe 16 quart size) with very ripe halved & pitted apricots.

Add to the pot 7-8 cups of sugar (how sweet do you like things? Add a little more sugar if you're a sweet tooth, or a little less to have more of that yummy apricot tang).

Then you need citrus - lemon juice is recommended, but I have oranges. I squeeze in the juice of 6 oranges, give it a whirl and it's good to go.

Bring to a low boil then keep cooking on medium low heat. Stirring. A lot. I think I probably cook and the stir the jam for 25-30 minutes. I like it to get to the point where the apricot halves are starting to fall apart and the jam is getting thick and boiled down a bit.

While the jam cooks, boil your jars and lids in a big pot. Boil for about 10 minutes then turn off the heat and let them sit in the hot water while you prepare to fill them.

Fill your jars with the hot jam...fill to about a 1/4" below the rim of the jar.  It's exceptionally handy to use a wide mouth funnel (I'm serious - you need one of these!). We also really like the specific tongs used to maneuver the jars in and out of the boiling water pot.

Put the now sterilized jar lids in place then screw on the tops. Then they're back in the water to boil for 5-10 minutes.

Set them upside down to cool for a few hours.  After they're all cooled check to make sure they're sealed. The lid should be firmly sucked in toward the jam. There should be no movement in the lid. If there is - no worries - just eat that jar of jam now instead of in the middle of February :o)

Lots and lots of apricot jam...can you believe that color??

And with all that canning, and more than one apricot crisp baked (and eaten), we still have some left.  I'm thinking mostly straight up munching, but maybe an apricot pie would be lovely too - paired with peach maybe?  Yum.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Birthday Banner - done & hung!

Thought I'd share pics of the finished sewn birthday banner I posted about the other day...it came out so cute & I very much recommend it as a project for a child's birthday or as an accent for their room.

It's not difficult sewing & if you're not comfortable free handing the text you can always use the freezer paper stencil transfer method that Alicia suggests in her book.

Such fun!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A First Birthday Party

Finally some photos of the party!

It was a super great time.  And wow, we realized we hadn't had a party for a long time. Can't let that happen again.

The deck was finished by maybe 11am, clean up and decorations up and done by 2pm, food ready and first guests arrived by 3pm, wonderful party craziness till possibly 10pm (Bird in bed much earlier than that...tuckered out, oh my goodness).

In the aftermath...we have this amazing deck now - we can hardly believe it. Huge thanks to Jared's parents for blessing us with your visit and your extreme makeover home edition incredible help to us & our elderly lady bungalow.

& the busy-ness ensues...my parents are visiting now & I'm hoping for good bonding times for them and Mbird. I'd love to work on stuff while they're here - we hit up Heath Ceramics Wednesday in Sausalito and bought overstock (amazing deal) tile for our fireplace. It's to die for. Love to start working on laying it in. I've also got a large custom owling in the works, piles & piles of laundry, and you know, just life :o) Life is just busy.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Is my widget working?

Sprucing up the lil' blog bit by bit...very much need to comb through and add & redo my tags. It's sadly impossible to find fun things like my mural tutorial or Mbird's birth story and I hope to fix those things soon! For now, wondering if this 'link within' widget is working...time to check :o) Have a lovely day!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

All in the details

Miranda's birthday was on the 8th, but her party is scheduled for this weekend.  I, of course, have dreamed up all sorts of things I'd love to do for her 1st birthday party.  I've whittled that wish list down a lot though as we're so busy as usual, and shoot, we're tired!  We have Jared's parents here which is SO wonderful and we're busy bee'ing it some more by building our backyard deck over these next couple of days.

One thing I did decide to do for the Bird's party was make a birthday banner. In this case a banner that can then be hung in her room and add to the cuteness. I love Alicia Paulson's book "Stitched in Time" and got the idea and most of the instruction from there (I say most because I almost always look at the pictures then make my own hybrid). In this case I end up with the same look but did different construction methods (sewed scallops right sides together then flipped right side out and top stitched, rather than sewing wrong sides together then edging with pinking shears). I also drew the letters on by hand instead of using freezer paper stencils. I picked my standby favorite font "one forty seven" for the letters.

I still have to cut and sew the binding that will hold the letters together. Tomorrow. Hopefully. The ends will have loops to enable it to be hung from wherever. I'm thinking of hanging it from one of our big trees or from the patio umbrella. And when it's in the Bird's room it can stretch sweetly across the space (like those adorable sewn flag banners you see around).

Fun project!

Park Life

We had a great Saturday...picked up Jared's parents from the airport (visiting from TX) then headed to Menlo Park for a picnic.  Our lovely midwife, Rosanna, hosts the annual get together for all who are/have been a part of her homebirth midwifery practice.  So naturally there are little kids, babies abounding, pregnant mamas, etc., etc. - quite fun.

And Miranda had a blast.
She kissed little boys.

Then made them jealous by kissing their little brothers :o)

Then convinced them that crawling is superior to walking.

She also got her first ride down a big yellow tube slide.  I foresee many many more trips to the playground.  You gotta love that bouncy mulchy ground under the play structures.  It was making me want to do cartwheels & walkovers.

Have a great rest of the weekend!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Just Lookin' Around...

Found this awesome belt - on etsy of course.

Perfect for Father's Day right?

It's so hard to find good stuff for guys, but I think this is pretty rad (for not being electronic or a gadget). 

fancy schmancy

Not much new here today. Just getting the studio ready for visiting grandparents tomorrow.

But look, I got a new signature!

You can get yourself a nifty signature too.  Just click on mine to take you to the right place.

Have a happy Friday :o)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Nine is a great number

It's been a busy week 'round the Holzy household.  Miranda's birthday Monday, Phylo's birthday Wednesday, now Jared's and my ninth wedding anniversary today!

Nine years of marriage and 13+ years together :o)  That's something to smile about.

And so is this.  You gotta love the cheesy photographer we had.  Making Jared peek through a hole in the tree like a hobbit.  We've got a whole slew of others like this.  At the time we were so giddy we never said "hey, we're paying you to have us do what??"  Then later we were irritated.  Now I think they're pretty cute.  Funny what time does.

It's been a beautiful 9 years of adventurous good times.  I love you so much Jared!  Can't wait for the grandparents to visit so we can get out of here and go see a movie or something.

And please let's plan something fabulous for next year.


Dogs at Play

Our local dog park is about to close for a year but we managed to get in one last visit last night.

A good time was had by most (mean standard poodle went and ruined it for the bassett hound and almost for Phylo too - mean, mean, mean!).  Phylo enjoyed his time sprinting back and forth between us, being frisky with some pooches, and avoiding squabbles with others.

Jared and Miranda mostly hung out looking cute.

And I guess I did some of the same with the Bird too :o)

Phylo got a nice romp and play and is somehow completely back to normal today as though he got no hard exercise at all.  Darn hound dogs - where do they get that energy?

Off to get Miranda back to s-l-e-e-p...back into those tough sleep times it seems.  Gosh, we're all ready for more of that magical dreamy stuff.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Mister Phylo Bubba Twinkletoes

There's the Bird.
& then there's the bird dog.

Our big boy bird dog Phylo is 5 years old today. I remember bringing him home like it was yesterday.  We picked him up from his foster mom's house and he rode all the way home on my lap - like he belonged there.  He's still a lap dog - a 49lb lap dog.

Phylo (Greek for "friend") is from Cyprus.  Yep, the island of Cyprus.  An American couple living there found him and two other tiny German Shorthaired Pointers on the street and took them in. When they were just 6 months they boarded a plane to California and were placed with the South Bay Purebred Rescue.  Phylo was split up from his brother and sister but was happy with his foster mom and her dalmation Ziggy (and foster mom's learning disabled daughter who totally abused Phylo even though he kinda deserved it because he stole all her toys and ate them...). It was at 8 months old that we discovered Phylo (previously named Ajax) through Petfinder.com and fell in love with our squirrel hunting, sofa cruising, smelly sock loving, cuddleybug goofball.

It's been nothing but doggie manipulation since then. 
(walk! walk! walk!)

You can imagine he adds a lot to the mix...

Happy Birthday sweet boy!
May we have many many many more years with you our Mr. Phylo Bubba Twinkletoes.