Tuesday, July 30, 2013

How to Make your Strawberries Last Longer

I LOVE FRUIT- and I LOVE TO LEARN WAYS TO MAKE MY FRUIT LAST LONGER ON THE SHELF {or in the fridge}. I have heard all sorts of different ideas on washing before storing, not washing till you eat, soaking for an extended amount of time (as outlined in my Two For One Strawberry Recipe post) and more for how to make berries last in the fridge.  AND I've had a few friends tell me now that they have made the plunge and experimented with rinsing their Strawberries in Vinegar Water to help preserve their freshness.  The concept made sense to me, so I thought I would give it a try this last time I purchased a flat of Strawberries from Bountiful Baskets.

I started out by pouring Regular White Vinegar about 1/10th of my LARGE bowl full.  [As ALMOST ALWAYS, I didn't measure- measuring isn't fun].  I then dumped about half of my Strawberries into the bowl and filled to the top with water.

I let the berries soak for about 5 minutes and then I gently pushed the berries floating at the top down into the water a few times to make sure all the berries were getting equal soaking time.

After another 5 minutes  [10 minutes total], I laid paper towels out on my counter and let my Strawberries dry.  I left them out for about an hour, and then I patted them dry with another paper towel.

I made sure to also rinse the plastic containers I was using to store my berries in with the vinegar water before returning them to the container for storage.  If I skipped this step I would be risking re-transferring the bacteria, or whatever it is that causes the berries to start to mold back onto the berries.  I simply dipped the plastic containers in the vinegar water a few times and patted dry with a paper towel.

I had a neighbor to thank for keeping an eye on our home while we went to the cabin, so I decided to make them a Strawberry Pie and one for my little family to enjoy for dessert for a few days, so I cut up a lot of the Strawberries then to put in my pies.
What remained was 3 clam shells of preserved Strawberries that I put in the fridge.

The berries I purchased on July 13th, were still fresh and juicy on July 27th!!! I would definitely say that rinsing them in Vinegar helped them last longer- and they tasted AWESOME!

In case you are wondering how I make my Strawberry Pie, I make it just like my Momma taught me.

  • Wash and cut Berries
  • Mix 1 container of Marie's Strawberry Glaze with the cut berries
  • Bake an empty pie shell and let it cool
  • Gently spoon the Glazed Strawberries into the Baked Pie Shell
  • Refrigerate and serve chilled

{Photo borrowed from Google Images- My pie crust didn't bake pretty and I was embarrassed}

The neighbors loved their strawberry pie, and we enjoyed ours for 3 nights after dinner.

I highly recommend soaking your Strawberries in Vinegar Water- it does make them last longer!

Do you have any other berry preserving tips?  I'd love it if you share!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

[Cars and Trucks] Drawer Pulls- FREE SILHOUETTE CUT FILES

One of Madisyn's best friends, Hunter is a few weeks older than her.  He celebrated his 2nd birthday last weekend!  Time has flown since our babies were born, where did our little babies go?!
I try really hard to gift personal, thoughtful gifts for close friends.  I wanted to make something for Hunter and his Mom told me that she had yet to order drawer pulls for his new big boy "Car and Truck" bedroom.  I asked her if I could make them for him, and she said YES!

We bought 6, high quality metal drawer pulls from Home Depot that had a large, flat surface to apply some car and truck vinyl.

I created 6 different Silhouette files for cars and trucks to cut my 1.5 inch wide shapes out of primary colored permanent vinyl.  Some of them proved to be more difficult than others due to very small cut lines and removing the pieces necessary to create negative space.  {My trick for this is to use a very sharp dental pick... shhhh... don't tell anyone.}
Kyle quickly drilled some holes in a scrap piece of stained wood we had, that presented the pulls very nicely as a gift.  

The pulls came out exactly how I envisioned them and Hunter and Mommy Candace LOVED them!  Success!

I wasn't able to host the Silhouette Files on my webpage to download for some strange reason.  So, please leave a comment with your email address and I will send them to you!  I'd LOVE to see what you make with them!

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Saturday, July 20, 2013

"Healthy" Blueberry Muffins {No Sugar Added}

My sweet little family went blueberry picking at a farm we recently learned about through a friend.  It was just about half an hour from our home, organic growing practices and only $2 per pound!  Madisyn SERIOUSLY thought she died and went to Heaven.  Mommy was pretty content as well.  We had a blast picking, and we will definitely be back several times before all the varieties are done blooming at the end of September.  I HIGHLY recommend visiting The Rusty Plow Blueberry Farm in Enumclaw, Washington!
Here are some photos from our picking adventure:

With the last few cups of our Blueberrys I wanted to make something special.  The guys at Kyle's work always enjoy some home baked goods to snack on throughout their day, and we all know I hardly EVER bake.  So this was a special occasion.

I found a recipe on Pinterest for a "Healthy Blueberry Muffin" over at Liz Eats and thought I would give it a try.

I followed the recipe below, but I didn't have flax seed- they turned out great without them and the guys at the store ate them all in just a few minutes.  

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseed
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup 2% milk (or any milk substitute you prefer)
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons fat free, plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line muffin pan with paper liners.
Combine flours, flaxseed, baking powder and salt in a bowl and whisk together.
In a large bowl, stir together bananas, milk, egg and yogurt until well-blended. Mix in dry ingredients then gently stir in blueberries.
Divide batter among muffin papers. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove muffins from pan and cool for 10 minutes.


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

An Invitation...Lavender Farm Faire- Sequim's Lavender Weekend

Lavender flows through my family's body like blood.  About 10 years ago my family picked up our roots in the Seattle Area and moved over to the little town of Sequim on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State.  We purchased a 10 acre Lavender Farm with a Historic Home as a Gift Shop and a Restaurant in a separate greenhouse style building.  It was exactly what my mom thought she wanted as her retirement.
Things didn't go as smoothly as planned with the downturn of the economy, and there have been  a lot of changes on the farm (I wrote a bit about them in my Barnwood & Vintage Window Planter post, if you want to read more).
Needless to say, we still have a Online and Wholesale Lavender Based Business and some beautiful fields to tend.  Each year, the 3rd full weekend in July, the whole City of Sequim lays out the Lavender Carpets for guests from all over the globe to come enjoy All Things Lavender at the Sequim Lavender Farm Faire
My sister, Emily from Lola Floral, Madisyn and I headed out to Sequim (a 2 hour drive from the Seattle Area) this morning to help pull the last minute preparations together for our Pop Up Shop we create at Lavender in the Park each year.  It is a TON of work to put it all together, but it is always very fun and worth the stress.

We spent our day putting together our Baking Mixes, such as Cranberry Lavender Scone Mix and Lemon Lavender Shortbread; Labeling our Bath & Body Products and pulling out vintage treasures we use as Display Pieces (and all are for sale) to create our Pop Up Shop.  It always portrays the character of the farm, even though the Shop is off site, you feel as though you've stepped into a French Country Market.

Emily and I wanted to cordially invite you to attend, please come say "hi" to us at Lavender in the Park.  Or, if you are unable to attend in person, you can always visit our Lavender Shop Online at www.CedarbrookLavender.com.  the bunch will be taking over all of our vintage treasures, woodwork and Bath & Body Products as well!

We are in the final phases of re-branding our product line, and are VERY excited to debut it with our Purely Lavender products this weekend!  I can't wait to post some photos!

For now, enjoy some photos I took on the farm today.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Backyard Garden Fence Quote Project--- I need your help...

Hello Friends!  I have come up with a really fun idea to make use of some large vintage windows that were given to me.  The large ones are always hard to make use of- and I have a surplus, so I've been trying to think of a way to use them in our back yard to add some personality.
We are renting, so we have not created any "outdoor" spaces like I would in a home I own, but a project like this could be taken with us when we go, so it is perfect.

I want to take these:

Add some bright and beautiful vinyl quotes or designs and hang them along this fence:

So, I can't decide on a theme; should it be garden or growth themed using the same or a similar quote to the one I put on my Barnwood and Vintage Window Planter Box?  I do love that quote, and I could spread it out over the 5 windows.

Or I could just do inspirational words?

Or images- like a vine, or simple single color flowers such as these- Just one Large per window-

What do you think would be cool?

I'd love to hear your opinions/ideas.  Please comment and have a great Friday!  The WEEKEND is upon us!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Quick and Easy Smoothie Pops

Popsicles are such a great way to cool off in the summer heat.  It has been very warm in Seattle for the past couple of weeks- and the extended forecast isn't showing any change in the near future.  I love the idea of Madisyn cooling off with a Popsicle while she's playing outside- but I'm never super excited about unhealthy snacks full of sugar and no nutrients... SO I decided to make my own!

Here's the recipe I used:

  • 2 cups frozen berry mix (I used Raspberry, Blueberry, Blackberry)
  • 2 cups Non-fat Greek Yogurt
  • 1 cup water

I put everything in my magic bullet blender attachment and blended it up.
Then I poured the smoothie into our Popsicle molds and 3 hours later- MADISYN WAS IN HEAVEN!!!
No sugar added- and they are full of protein!  I buy my Non-Fat Greek Yogurt at Costco- in the 2 big tubs and it has 24 grams of protein and only 7 grams of sugar in 1 cup!

"Don't you want to try some?!"

You could switch this up with all sorts of fruit!  Tomorrow I plan on adding in some Cantaloupe to make them a little sweeter.  Please share any recipes you've tried and love!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

My tips and tricks- WORKING WITH BURLAP and a bonus project idea

Kyle and I have some really special friends named Andrew and Ashley.  Oddly, Kyle actually met Andrew online in one of those really manly "diesel truck forums".  They've turned out to be true blue friends- that time and time again always are there for each other when they need something.  Kyle and I have really valued their friendship.
Recently, Andrew and Ashley joined one of two of the best clubs on earth- MARRIAGE (the other is parenthood).  I was honored to get to help Ashley with some of the planning of her wedding decor.  And I had so much fun keeping my eyes peeled for "lavender and rustic" themed details.
When Ashley came across the concept of a burlap and wood ring bearer pillow, I jumped at the opportunity to make one for her ceremony.
It turned out so cute, I wanted to share it with  you and a few tips to working with burlap.

Tip #1

Burlap stinks, is messy and itchy.  I've learned a trick to helping with these three issues. The first is ALWAYS WASH AND DRY IT BEFORE DOING ANYTHING!!!  I stand by this piece of advise for almost all fabric, but in the case of burlap it is especially important.  By washing and drying it-most of the stink, stiffness and excess fibers and dust are removed.  It will leave less of a mess on your work surface and be much more pleasant to work with- after being washed.  You can even wash and dry it a couple of times if you'd like it to be even more pleasant!

Tip #2

SHAKE, SHAKE, SHAKE.  After I wash and dry my burlap, I always take it outside and shake it as hard as I can to remove any of the residual dust.  I have TERRIBLE allergies, and as strange as it sounds, burlap makes me sneeze, my nose drip and my eyes itch.  So the more I can do to make it pleasurable to work with, the better!

Tip #3

Cutting burlap can be a challenge- it can be super frustrating to measure out the piece you need, use a hard edge to cut and then end up with 18 frayed edges that seem to pull all apart when you start to work with it.  I'll illustrate my solution to this problem using photos I took while creating my gift for Andrew and Ashley.

I started with a strip of scrap burlap, about six inches wide.  So then, to make a square for the pillow, I needed two pieces that were 6 inch square.

To create the straight line at 6 inches, find 1 strand of jute that looks to be right about 6 inches and give it a little tug.

Because this was a thin piece of fabric I was working with, I was able to pull the whole string through at ease.  If you are working with a wider piece of fabric, you may need to use a tool to pull the string up in the middle of the fabric, cut it and then pull on the two strings you've created out through the middle.  

You can see at the left of the fabric, that the void that is being created by the 1 piece of jute being pulled out, is enough to follow with scissors to cut a straight line.  That is EXACTLY what we are going for!

Now, you can use this void to cut along and have a perfectly straight edge!

Now, in this case, I wanted to have slightly frayed edges.  But at least I had a straight edge to begin with to pull some jute strings out to create the fray!  

That concludes my tips to working with burlap- I hope you learned something, try it out and find it useful!  
Below are photos of my finished project- a gift to our dear friends on their wedding day.  

Love it, have to have it and don't want to make it?!  No problem- I'd LOVE to make one for you!  Find the listing in my Etsy Shop here.

Do you have any other tricks or tips to working with burlap?  I'd love to hear about them, please comment below!

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