Monday, June 28, 2010

The Fruits of Summer

We try to live the "Cottage" way of life, which means to me that we live simply, be as self-sufficient as we can, use what we have {and be grateful for it}, work hard, play some too, and ALWAYS enjoy life! 

Strawberry-picking {which led to jam-making} embodies all of these concepts.

{Picking strawberries at the field. My 7-year old shows his treasures so far}

Last Thursday, my friend, Jennifer and I decided to take our families strawberry-picking at a local farm. After stopping by another friend's house, she {Tracy} decided to bring her two boys along too! The more, the merrier! 

It was a perfect, sunshiny day with big puffy clouds and a nice breeze.

Armed with 4 quart buckets, all nine kids had a great time picking and eating those jewel-like berries, and wandering through the fields and tree line! Even my husband, who is a bit allergic to strawberry plants, had a great time picking and talking with Jennifer's husband.

{a partial bucket of home-grown strawberries . . . don't they just look like rubies?!}

Our family picked 28 quarts of strawberries alone. The price was right at $1.50 a quart, and there's nothing like locally-grown, sun-ripened strawberries! 

After a quick trip to the grocery store to stock up on lids, sugar, and pectin, we were off to Jennifer's house to can up some strawberry jam, while the kids and husbands jumped in the lake for a relaxing swim.

{stirring the pot}

In the years past, I've done quite a bit of drying and freezing of fruits and veggies, but shamefully, it has been years since I've canned anything! And this was the first time I've made cooked jam. I've always made strawberry freezer jam, so this was a new experience.

I was actually really surprised at how quick and easy the process was!

Hull and crush the berries, measure and pour them into the pot, add the pectin, let it boil, add the sugar, boil a bit more, pour into clean jars, process them in a water bath for 20 mins, and . . . voila . . .

14 pints of beautiful, gleaming, homemade strawberry jam!

Breakfast on Friday consisted of whole wheat toast with homemade jam . . . there's actually nothing like it! Even though we cooked the jam, it still tasted like fresh strawberries!

I spent the rest of the day on Friday hulling the remaining berries, making 14 pints of triple-berry jam with raspberries and blackberries, freezing some, and making the strawberry portion of strawberry shortcake with the rest. Is there ever such a thing as TOO MANY strawberries?

We worked some, played some, used what nature gave us, had a LOVELY day, and now I've got half a year's worth of jam in my pantry made only from pectin, sugar, and homegrown strawberries.  

Here's to the simple pleasures in life!

Fondly, Kate 

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Front Page of Etsy

Good Saturday Morning, lovelies!

I awoke this morning to a convo from an Etsian friend telling me that my nest shoe clips made the front page of Etsy this morning from 5-6 am! :)

There they are, in the upper left-hand corner!

Have a lovely weekend all!

Fondly, Kate

Friday, June 25, 2010

Friday's Fancies {an eco-friendly summer}

Happy Friday, lovelies!

Wow! How can a week go by so fast?!? And why do they call them the lazy days of summer? Since school got out, we've been busy with one thing or another every day!

My Cottage philosophy aligns with the well-known adage coined in the Great Depression era: "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without."

At our home, things are repurposed, upcycled, recycled, patched . . . even my kids get into the act by creating "toys" from cast-away items.

In honor of this philosophy, this week's Friday's Fancies is a tribute to all things eco-friendly.

 {clockwise from top left}

I just love this newsboy-style upcycled Kinn Jones hat by Sparky Jones. Super-cute style, and created with upcycled fabrics! Perfect for keeping sun off of your face in the summer, whilst feeling environmentally responsible!

Wow! This organic tangerine toothpaste from twig & leaf botanicals is SO much more appealing than brushing your teeth with plain baking soda! This toothpaste just looks beautiful! Packaged in a recycled glass bottle, and created with natural ingredients that I can pronounce!  And the tangerine flavor sounds so refreshing!

I've never seen anything like these lavender laundry sachets from SubEarthen Cottage. Just toss one into your washing machine. The laundry soap inside the sachet cleans your clothes. Then you pop it into the dryer with your clothing, where the lavender buds are heated, scenting your clothes with the lovely smells of summer! The nice cotton sachets can then be reused in many ways! Very clever!

I just love reusable bags, and these great organic reusable vegetable bags by Wonder Thunder are so cheery! Made with organic cotton and screenprinted with a happy motif, they are sure to turn a few heads at your local farmer's market!

Next week, I'll be posting a few photos of my own eco-friendly creations.

A few quick eco-friendly summer tips:

*ride your bicycle or walk everywhere you can* 
{you save gasoline and get exercise at the same time! :)}

*hang your clothing out on the line* 
{it saves electricity, and your clothes smell so much better!}

*use a mixture of baking soda and pure orange oil for cleaning purposes*
{it's not toxic, works great on any kind of grime, and leaves your house smelling fresh}

*grow a kitchen herb garden on your windowsill or just outside the back door*
{no need to worry about pesticides, and fresh herbs just taste yummy!}

Wishing you all a very happy and eco-friendly weekend!

Fondly, Kate

Friday, June 18, 2010

Friday's Fancies

Happy Friday, Lovelies!

Just had to share with you these absolutely LOVELY Etsy items I found while browsing, using the term "shabby chic". Sigh . . . such romantic, soft, and dreamlike creations!

Hope you enjoy these as much as I do!

{clockwise from top left}

This beautiful handkerchief blouse by Ruby Chic  is quite possibly my most favorite blouse I've found yet! I love the carefree, patchwork look of it! Plus, I'm always attracted to vintage handkerchiefs at yard sales and have quite a collection of them!

I love the garden look and soft green colors of this lovely Cluster Vintage Necklace by lonkoosh! The perfect accessory for a cheery summery day!

The texture and laid-back, comfortable feel of this Rustic Wood Picture Frame from for your nest would fit well with my shabby chic decorating style, and would be the perfect item to frame the photo of my four lovely boys taken at our local arboretum!

I've always loved the kind of sweet pink ticking used to create this cute Handmade Decorative Quail from Sea Pinks! Could anything be sweeter than this little birdie?! A cheerful reminder of summer, and all the little birds I wake up to singing their little hearts out!

Wishing you all a cozy, comfortable, and cheerful day!

Fondly, Kate

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

It's Summer!

This is how I feel today!

Summer vacation has begun! I've got my school-teacher husband and 4 sons home for the summer! Yippee! What could be better?

This cheerful, vibrant, and absolutely beautiful print entitled "Life" has been created by the very talented Tali from Tush Tush on Etsy.

Thank you, Tali, for this lovely reminder that life is a wonder and something to be celebrated every day!

Fondly, Kate

Friday, June 11, 2010

Friday's Fancies

There's no better sound at 6 a.m. than sweet birdies singing to their little hearts' content!
So this Friday's Fancies is a tribute to all the little songbirds who sing every morning outside my kitchen window and start my day on a hopeful and cheery note!

{clockwise from top left}
I just LOVE this sweet Baby Bird in Nest of Threads by Cotton Bird Designs! I'd love to find a little corner in my home for him to brighten up!
These sweet little lovebirds all snuggled up close together in "Lemon Chiffon Sky Print" from enrouge remind me of all that is good and right in the world.
The smooth texture of these papier mache Blue Birds with Wire Feet from Middleburg Folk Art Studio is intriguing! I'd love to set one of these on the shelf in my front entryway to greet guests as they enter our home!
Every seamstress needs a good pincushion! And this cheery Bird Pin Cushion from The Shabby Chic Cottage is the perfect little helper to do the job!
Give a listen today to all the little songbirds in your life who brighten the day and give freely a bit of music to anyone who will lend them an ear!

Fondly, Kate

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Little Muslin Pouches

Well, I've had many, many ideas swimming around in my little brain over the past few weeks.
I've been in the middle of production on these little lovelies for a couple weeks now, printing up these sweet little vintage seed catalog images and getting the design just right.
Meet {Summer's Tale} . . . the first in a line of 8 cotton muslin pouches! Sewn with raw edges, these soft little pouches will fray and soften even more with time!

I can't wait to introduce them into my little Etsy shop!
Let me know what you think!

Fondly, Kate

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Antiquing Treasures!

A few weeks back, I had a lovely visit with my mother-in-law!
We met up at the antiques shops about 20 minutes away from my house.
We chatted while roaming through the shops, eyeing lots and lots of treasures.
I love going antiquing with my mom or mother-in-law as I'll run across things, wondering what their original purpose was, and my moms will say, "Oh, I remember my grandma using one of these for . . . "
We chatted and laughed, and ate lunch at the little "Outback Post" restaurant situated right in amongst the shops.

We left after lunch to go pick up my kindergartner from school, but even the 2 1/2 hours we had were enough to find some treasures.
I left with an enamelware baby bath that I paid $2.00 for, which is now serving to rinse feet in before entering the pool. :) I also bought 6 zinc canning lids for 50 cents apiece. And my mother-in-law purchased a lovely candle for me that smells of fresh rain! {thanks, Mom!}
All in all, we had a wonderful time together. I actually went back the next day to purchase a $5 screen door for the back door of our house {we don't have one as yet}, which will need some paint, hinges, and a handle. So, another project to get done this summer! :)
Have a LOVELY weekend!

Fondly, Kate