Thursday, July 24, 2014

Thoughtful Thursday

“A woman's voice is a wonderful revealer of her character.  Every young woman should train herself to speak softly and kindly.  Nothing is more beautiful in a woman, than a calmness and quietness in manner.”

~ JR Miller

~ Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.  1 Peter 3:4 ~

Monday, July 21, 2014

52 Crafts in 52 Weeks ~ Week Forty {and why I love being at home...}

It is so exciting to share the fortieth craft in my fifty-two week craft challenge!  This challenge was of course meant to be completed by the end of 2013, but as we had a rather busy year last year, I didn’t quite manage to stay on schedule...

 This year I set myself a few crafty things to do over a longer period of time, such as my cross stitch project and embroidered cushion...  I shared a few photographs of the beginning stages back in May in this post...

I was delighted to see this sweet cushion come together after all the hours of love I poured into it.  My dear mother saw an idea for a cushion very similar to this one in an old magazine of hers.  I then took the idea and added my own personal touches and used my own design for the embroidery...

I just love how it turned out and I am so inspired to make another one or two or even three...perhaps a few for gifts and maybe even some for sale, we’ll have to see! 

A lot of time and effort went into this cushion.  First of all I had to choose and cut out all the little squares and sew them all together on the machine...then came the lovely part of drawing the design lightly and carefully onto the piece of patchwork... 

Such cosy hours spent by the fireside watching Sense and Sensibility and Larkrise to Candleford while I stitched to my heart’s content...  After the embroidery part was completed, I made two little flowers out of felt and sewed them to the cushion, as well as two crocheted flowers which I bought from our local haberdashery (I haven’t learnt to crochet yet).

Lastly I stitched on two butterfly buttons and a flower button and created a little ‘flight trail’ for the butterflies with embroidery cotton.  And let me not forget dear Ladybird who was secured to the cushion cover with fabric glue.

After this was all done, I made a cushion inner to fit and a backing piece out of light pink polycotton which I sewed to the front embroidered piece......

How special it felt to stand back and admire the finished project and reflect on all the happiness that went into creating it... 

If I do decide to make another cushion (and I am certain I will for I enjoyed this one so much), I will most definitely share a few photographs of it with you! 

I am simply longing to go through all the gorgeous fabric on the shelf and decide which colours and patterns to work with this time...

 I love creating and this is one of the reasons I treasure being at home so much...  I have the opportunity to pursue my interests and delight in the pleasures of sewing and crafting in the comfort of my dear home!  And I have my mother (who is a constant inspiration to me and comes up with such wonderful ideas) to discuss things with, as well as my sisters and dad who are all praise and admiration – I could very easily become conceited I think :)    

And one of the ways I find great joy is in creating...I prefer my hands to be busy rather than idle – I find I am so much more contented if I have a project in my workbasket to pick up and put down throughout the day.

How about which ways do you find joy?

~ I hope all my dear readers are having a beautiful and blessed day today! ~

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Thoughtful Thursday


“A desire to be beautiful is not unwomanly.  A woman who is not beautiful cannot properly fill her place.  But, mark you, true beauty is not of the face, but of the soul.  There is a beauty so deep and lasting that it will shine out of the homeliest face and make it pretty.  This is the beauty to be first sought and admired.  It is a quality of the mind and heart and is manifested in word and deed.  A happy heart, a smiling face, loving words and deeds, and a desire to be of service, will make any girl beautiful.”

~ From Beautiful Girlhood, revised by Karen Andreola

~ Charm is deceitful and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.  Proverbs 31:30 ~

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Three Fruit Marmalade & Pretty Presentation Ideas...

We have had such a wonderful time lately preserving our orange and lemon harvest!  Oranges and lemons mean marmalade, you see, and there is nothing quite as delightful as making a few jars of lovely orange coloured goodness to be enjoyed throughout the year... 

Spread thickly on buttered toast and served with a pot of tea, marmalade makes a delicious treat indeed!

Apart from making marmalade, we have also dried some of the orange peels for firelighters and the rest we packed into big glass jars and topped up with vinegar to be used as household cleaner...

The lemons we juiced and froze in ice trays to be used in the months to come when lemons are no longer cheap.  We also saved the lemon peels for cleaner...

It certainly makes us feel like homesteaders when we preserve our harvest, even if our efforts are still quite small at this stage... 

And if you’re a Paddington like my family are (excluding my dad), perhaps you would like to try our delicious three fruit marmalade?  I’ll admit that this recipe is a little time-consuming, but it is also very rewarding...  And if you’re feeling up to playing with presentation, I have included a few simple presentation ideas which are both charming and practical!

Three Fruit Marmalade

4 Lemons
2 Oranges
2 medium Grapefruit
3.4 litres Water
2.7kg Sugar
10 Jam jars

Weigh your fruit – you should have about 1.4kg in total.  Wash the lemons and oranges. 
Using a vegetable peeler, peel the rind off the oranges and lemons in thin slices. 
By peeling the rind off and leaving the thick white pith behind, you are preventing the marmalade from being too bitter and chunky – this is what puts a lot of people off this delicious treat... 
Halve the fruit and squeeze out the juice and the pips.  
Wash the grapefruit and pare off the peel as with the lemons and oranges. 
Remove the thick pith and membrane and chop the flesh into small pieces. 
Put the orange and lemon juice, grapefruit flesh, orange, lemon and grapefruit peel and water into a preserving pan. 
Tie up the grapefruit pith and membrane and the pips from the oranges and lemons in a muslin bag and add to the contents of the pan. 
Simmer for 1 – 1 ½ hours until the peel is very soft and the liquid is reduced by about half. 
Remove the muslin bag and squeeze it out over the pan. 
Add the sugar, stirring to dissolve completely.  Bring to the boil and boil rapidly until the setting point is reached. 
I like to keep a cup of clean, hot water and a pastry brush on hand...  While the sugar is dissolving, I wipe the sides of the pan down with the hot water to prevent the sugar from crystallizing... Stir often to prevent the marmalade from sticking. 
Test for the setting stage as for jam.  See here.
Once your marmalade has reached the right consistency, remove from the heat and leave to cool slightly. 
Pop a knob of butter on top of the marmalade to prevent it from forming a skin. 
Once it has cooled down, ladle into warm, sterilised jars and wipe the rims of the jars with a clean, damp cloth and seal. 

Note:  The reason marmalade is left to cool for a bit, unlike jam, is because it stops the peel from rising to the top of the jar...  I sterilise my jars by washing them in hot, soapy water, giving them a rinse and placing them in the oven on the lowest setting till hot and completely dry.  Lids may also be sterilised in this way, but I prefer to boil them for a few minutes in a saucepan of water before using.

Once your jars are cool, polish with a damp cloth.  Now for lovely part...the presentation!

Here are a few of my favourite presentation ideas which I am adding to all the time...

 ~ Dried orange slices make beautiful little ‘labels’ – see instructions to make your own below...

Thinly slice a few oranges (do more than you need and save for future projects) and place on a wire rack in the oven for a few hours or overnight at the lowest setting...  Once completely dry, use an awl to make a hole in the edge of the orange slice, thread a piece of raffia through and tie around each jar of marmalade... 

~ Pretty tags made from scrapbook paper are lovely, too...  You could either adhere printed out lettering to each label (choose a fancy font for added interest), or if you have beautiful handwriting, use a coloured pen instead...  Secure tags to jars with ribbon, lace or raffia...

~ My granny likes to place a piece of fabric over the lid of each of her jars. She first secures it with an elastic band and then with a piece of ribbon.  This can also be done with pretty scrapbook paper, although it is a little challenging to achieve the required look – speaking from experience here!

Previously I would only label those jars I intended to give as gifts...  But this year I chose to spend a bit of extra time prettying up our own as well... 

Touches like these are so special and help to show your family how much you love and care for them...

If you are a busy mother of many, might I suggest you give an older daughter the responsibility of labeling your family’s preserves? 

She will enjoy the creative learning experience and you will appreciate not having to worry about a mix-up in the pantry a few months down the line - (again, speaking from experience here!)

~ I hope you are having a beautifully blessed week, dear friends ~


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