Saturday, July 30, 2011

My Summer of Dresses!

It's been miserably hot around here.  All of this hot weather has inspired me to sew (well mostly the inspiration comes from doing anything that involves A/C).  So between canning the garden goods and keeping things alive in this heat I have made a few summer dresses.  

I started with a mission to update my "at home" wardrobe with some dresses I could wear around the house and in the yard but also out to the grocery store and for quick errands.  I ended up only making one "house dress" and then ventured on to other more versatile dresses.  I discovered the technique of "shirring" with elastic thread and I have fallen in love!  It means I don't have to fool with zippers or too much with sizing.  I have 2 more dresses in mind and hope to finish them this week or next!  The best part about these dresses?  Between the material and the thread, each dress cost less than $8!

Here is what I like to call my House and Garden Dress.  It is made from Batik fabric.  I like the pattern on the material and it is dark and sturdy enough to hold up to the dirt I encounter on a daily basis but still pretty enough for the grocery store clerk :-)


This is me demonstrating the all important and nifty pocket for my pump.  I built a button-hole into the back of the pocket so I can run my pump tubing through.

This is my "I copied a dress I tried on at Khol's Dress"

This is a lightweight stretchy-ish denim fabric.  I put thicker straps so it's a little more modest and allows for undergarments.  Perfect for Spring and Summer and probably Fall with a sweater.  I can dress it up or down with belts and shoes to wear on most occasions!

And last but not least what I like to call my "Picnic Dress"...because honestly don't you think I look like I am heading to a picnic in Central Park?  The material is striped seersucker so it is lightweight and easy care.
This dress has a large twirly skirt and a side pockets.  I also did a button-hole in these pockets for my pump tubing

The belt/tie is removable so I can change it to a colored one or a real belt for a different look.  Again this dress could be dressed up or down with different accessories (you know this garden girl is SOOOO into accessories)....oh and for those of you who have never seen me in real life....that streak of gray hair is very much real!

I am quite proud of myself as I did not use any patterns for these dresses.  I did use some various tutorials on hoe to do the shirring process.  I am so happy to be learning some new skills.  I never thought I could make my own clothes!  What are the possibilities? 

Friday, July 22, 2011

Every Clink

Remember this post when I said to ask me how I feel about our tomato jungle in a few weeks?  Well, it has been a few weeks and I am up to my eyeballs in tomatoes.  Everyday, beautiful red globes shine from the garden.  Red globes that I swear were green the day before.  I find myself did I miss this one yesterday?  Navigating the tomato jungle is now a daily adventure.  The ripe fruit is them piled on my kitchen window sills and in my fruit basket waiting to be turned into fresh tomato sauce, canned for later use or eaten freshly sliced with homemade mozzeralla and home-grown basil.  Ah...summer is grand.
 Tomatoes have not been the only produce gracing my counter-tops.  I have also been canning beans and pickles from the garden.  Our bean plants have slowed down at the moment but they are covered in a new crop of flowers.  Our bees are busy pollinating and we expect another bumper crop of beans in about a week.  Last week you would have found me processing fresh picked blueberries making them into no-sugar added jam and freezing the rest.  Farmer's Market peaches were turned into Jalapeno Peach Chutney today! 
 I think my summers can be defined by my canning calendar.  Ebbs and flows of ripening food determine what days I am free to manage my own time and which days I am chained to the metal beast that is my pressure canner.  Don't get me wrong, canning is wonderful, just often time consuming and a little tedious.  Oh and there is nothing like steaming up your kitchen on a 100 degree day!  
 Thermometer in the shade!
I love to preserve food.  The self-sufficient nature of the whole process, the sense of pride in producing a beautiful jar of food, nothing can take the place of those feelings.  There is something very satisfying when you hear the "clink" of a mason jar sealing as it cools.  A sound that I know generations of homemakers have relished for many summers before now.  Every clink fast-forwards me to this winter when I will open a jar of tomatoes, as red and tasty as the day they were put in that jar.  Every clink is another homemade gift for Christmas and birthdays.  Every clink reminds me of why I am here...making my career as a homemaker, providing for my family and preserving a way of life that will never go out of style.  
 Beans and the some of the tomato sauce I canned yesterday (aren't they pretty!)
I canned this hot sauce hubby made from our hot peppers! very hot dog chilling in the A/C...not sure why he is lying in this position...I promise his neck is not broken.  Sometimes I think he is just trying to make himself look if I would feel sorry for this spoiled pup!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Blueberries and Birthdays

Today is my 31st birthday!  To celebrate I picked 12lbs blueberries with my friend Frances at this local farm and will make Maple Blueberry Conserve with Walnuts this afternoon.  Right now I am making a gluten-free, low-carb chocolate cake!  Tonight dinner with friends and tomorrow smoked pork butt with my family.  The weather today is and breezy...a rare experience in the middle of July.  Here's to 31 years!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

To celebrate my D-aversary

I have to apologize.  Summer has swallowed me whole.  Our garden is at full-steam ahead with beans and cucumbers coming in every day.  This means I get to can those beautiful veggies every other day!  Our first tomato is ripening.  Ask me again in a few weeks how I feel about that when I am up to my elbows canning tomatoes!

 That's my hubby (he is 6'4'') in our sea of tomato plants I promised I wanted to tell you all about what I did to celebrate my 4 year d-aversary (I know it's a little late).  Back in January Hubby and I planned to head to the Outer Banks of NC and kayak-camp this June to celebrate my 4 years with diabetes.  We were to paddle out to a small island and camp for 2 nights.  The island was close enough to civilization that I felt it to be a good challenge for me...packing supplies in a small kayak, making room for diabetes supplies, and keeping insulin cool for a weekend. true and typical fashion for our vacations...our trip to celebrate my D-aversary was canceled.  For those of you who don't know me well, most of our vacations are plagued with bad luck.  It's true...not many of our vacations go by without a major incident (hospital visits, sickness, horrible weather and many diabetes related malfunctions)

This time, I was sick.  I will spare you the details...but I have been getting sick since about March of this year.  I tested negative twice for Celiac Disease (a common concern and first test for Type I diabetics with stomach issues).  From doctor to nutritionist to allergist we are working through the elimination of food groups.  Since late June I have gotten things under control by eliminating certain foods...but unfortunately this discovery didn't come until after our planned trip.  

Don't worry about me...I feel pretty good now.  Hubby and I had planned this trip as a kick off of yearly trips to celebrate another year of living with diabetes.  My idea was that we should plan trips to do the things we love that have often fallen to the wayside since my diagnosis (backpacking, backwoods camping, climbing).  Since we were unable to go on our trip to the Outer Banks, we decided to take an evening and head out to one of our local lakes.  I felt good enough on that Friday to go out for a few hours.

We took the kayaks and a picnic dinner and hit the backside of one of our bigger lakes in the area.  We arrived at the lake around 5pm and paddled around.  We found a nice shady spot for dinner and enjoyed a yummy spread. 

After dinner we paddled some more and fished a little (ok well Hubby fished and I relaxed in my kayak).  We ended our excursion as the sun was setting.  We had a nice time and in true D-aversary blood sugar was PERFECT the entire time :-) 

While paddling and watching Hubby fish I pondered what celebrating my D-aversary meant.  For me it means 4 years of triumph.  Four years of strength and dedication.  Four years of support from family and friends.  Four years of life.  Cheers to all of you who have lived another year with diabetes and cheers to the years to come that WILL be better than the last.