Hooked on Needles

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Peach Jam ~ No Needlework Experience Required

The only needlework getting done around here lately has been crocheting a few rows each evening on Mary's wedding gift afghan. We've been trying to squeeze every last bit of summer into these few days before school starts again. I had a list of things I wanted to get done over the summer while I was out of school, and making peach jam was one of them. For the past week or so, I've been harassing the friendly workers at our local Gove Farm for some of their peach seconds, which are just as delicious as their first quality peaches but with a few bumps and bruises on them. Finally yesterday I struck gold! A fifteen pound box of the most beautiful peach seconds for $8.50! If I had not been pressed for time, I would have bought two boxes, but one would have to do.

Keep reading to see what I did with them...

Using THIS RECIPE, I made peach jam with about half of the peaches. Here's how:
First I gave them a little rinse off in the sink. Not that they really needed it since they were so fresh and yummy looking! I do believe they had just been picked a few hours before I bought them!

Working with a few at a time, I gave them a minute or two dunk into boiling water...

...and then a dip into ice water just until they were cool enough to handle...

...and then I slipped the skins right off the peaches, leaving luscious, juicy, naked peaches! It was so hard to resist just gobbling them up at this point!

After removing the pits, I roughly chopped them up and measured out 10 cups for the recipe. The rest of the peaches also got chopped up and measured into freezer bags and mixed with lemon juice, labeled and put in the freezer for later use. I have enough in the freezer for another batch of jam, so another 10 cups, plus another bag with 4 cups in it which I will probably use for smoothies or a small cobbler or muffins or something else yummy.

The first 10 cups got dumped into a big bowl and mixed with the lemon juice and sugar called for in the recipe. Then it just sat there getting juicier and juicier while I finished chopping the rest of the peaches. I had to transfer it to a bigger bowl so the juice wouldn't overflow the bowl!

When it was time to start cooking, the peach/lemon juice/sugar mixture got dumped into my big pot and started cooking its way to becoming peach jam. I used my potato masher to break up the peach chunks while it was cooking so the jam would have a bit smoother consistency. The recipe says about 25 minutes to the jelly point...

...but almost an hour later, my candy thermometer finally reached 220 which is the appropriate temperature for a good jelly consistency at my sea level! You can see that most of the water has cooked out of the mixture, leaving just the luscious flavor of peaches and the sweetness of the sugar.

I ladled the hot peach jam into hot canning jars and topped them with hot lids for a good seal. I turned them upside down for a few minutes to sterilize the lids, then right side up to cool. I love listening to the lovely tink sound of the lids when they finally seal shut! This batch yielded two 12 ounce jars, three 8 ounce jars and about 4 ounces in another jar which I just put in my refrigerator once it had cooled, for us to enjoy. It was delicious this morning, and the consistency of it was perfect for fresh peach jam! This whole process took me about three hours from beginning to end and was worth every minute of it!

Are you doing any canning or jam making to preserve a little taste of summer to enjoy when the cold winter comes?

Happy Stitching!

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Monday, August 19, 2013

Winner! Winner! Yep, two winners!

Fiesta is the winner of my cotton washcloths and Jeanna is the winner of one of my reversible aprons! Congratulations to these two winners and a big thank you to all of you who entered my 700 Facebook Likes giveaway!

Happy Stitching!

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Thursday, August 15, 2013

New Clothes Pin Bag Design

Do you hang clothes out on the line to dry on breezy days? If I had an outside line, I surely would! One of my sisters does, and she is one of the lucky relatives we got to visit on our road trip earlier this summer. She is very creative too and while we were talking about bags and designs and other such creative things, she told me of her wish for a clothes pin bag that she could wear over her shoulder and that would stay open. I guess chasing after the ice cream bucket that hangs on her line, or filling her pockets with clothes pins wasn't much fun anymore!

Quite some time ago, I posted a tutorial for making a clothes pin bag from an old pair of jeans and a plastic hanger. You can check that out by clicking HERE. But that kind of bag is not what she is looking for. So I came up with something I think will work for her, and for anyone else who would like to save a few steps while hanging clothes out on the line. Here's my new Always Open Clothes Pin Bag...

This bag features an adjustable strap with buckle so it can be worn by people of different sizes. It can be worn over the shoulder and across the body like a messenger bag, around the waist, or hung on the line.

The bag is big enough to hold a lot of clothes pins and will always stay open for easy access to the pins.

I will soon be posting a tutorial for this design so you can make your own Always Open Clothes Pin Bag, and I might also make a few for my Etsy shop in case there are a few people out there who would like to have one without making it!

Editor's note: Free picture tutorial can be found by clicking HERE. There may also be some already made and available for sale in my Etsy shop. Click HERE to check.

If you are a clothes line user, I would love to hear your thoughts on this bag and if you think it is something that would make your job of hanging clothes on the line easier. You can leave your comments below. Thanks!

My 700-Facebook-Likes Giveaway is ending this weekend, so be sure to click HERE to sign up for that!

Happy Stitching!

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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Mary's Wedding Gift Afghan ~ Snowbound Throw in Thistle

After finishing my hexagon granny afghan and shipping it out to the newlyweds recently, I got right to work on the next wedding gift afghan for another niece, Mary, who will be getting married in Wisconsin and moving to Texas very soon. I found this pattern on the Red Heart website and it's called Snowbound Throw, which I thought was kind of funny because I doubt these newlyweds will be encountering any snowbound situations in Texas! Anyway, you can get the pattern by clicking HERE. Take a look at what I've done so far...

This pattern makes a very lightweight fabric when crocheted in worsted weight yarn, and it works up pretty quickly too. It is just a repeat of four rows, two of which are sets of three double crochets, one is the double crochet V-stitch, and the other is a single crochet/chain 3/single crochet pattern.

From a distance, the simple pattern gives the appearance of something like a crossed stitch or even broomstick lace, but it really is just as easy as pie and not complicated at all.

I am using Bernat Waverly yarn in Thistle, which is a lovely shade of light lavender. Mary's favorite color has always been purple and this is what she asked for! She also asked for an afghan in all one color, and I wanted to do something different than my usual woven stitch or basket weave. This pattern seemed to fit the bill nicely. I am really enjoying working on it during our unusually cool evenings lately and have been able to get quite a bit done so far.

Don't forget to sign up for my 700 Like Giveaway for your chance to win some of my crocheted cotton washcloths or one of my reversible aprons! Click HERE and leave a comment on the giveaway post to enter!

Happy Stitching!

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Friday, August 2, 2013

700 Likes on Facebook! ~ Time for a Giveaway!

This giveaway is now closed. 
Fiesta and Jeanna are the winners! Congratulations!

To quote 1985 Oscar winner Sally Field, "You like me!" Well at least 701 facebook users clicked the Like button on the Hooked On Needles facebook page! So I think it's time we have ourselves a little giveaway here. What do you think?

It's going to be easy peasy. Here are the rules:

Leave a comment on this blog post telling me what craft, crochet, knit, quilt, sewing, remodel, renovation, refurbish, or any other kind of handy project you are working on this summer. If you have written a blog post about it or have Flickr pictures to share, please include a link so I can come and check it out. I love to see what other people are working on!

One entry per person, and only US mailing addresses are eligible. So sorry to my international friends, but the cost of international postage has just gotten too high. I know you understand.

Giveaway will close in about seven days, or when I get around to it. It is summer after all, and we are very much on a lazy summer schedule here at our house. No pressure, no hurry, no stress. That works as long as I don't look at the calendar and see that school starts in less than a month! Yikes!

Want to know what you might win? I will send one lucky winner a set of three of my hand crocheted cotton washcloths which you can see a sampling of HERE. I will send another lucky winner one of my reversible aprons, which you can see a sampling of HERE. The exact items in the pictures may not still be available, so please allow me to choose for you.

If you have a preference for washcloths or apron, please mention that in your comment too. If you win, I want you to receive something you will like and use!

So that's it, easy peasy. I'd love it if you share this giveaway with your social networking friends, but you don't have to. And I'd also love it if you follow Hooked On Needles through your favorite Blog Following Thingy and on facebook and twitter and pinterest, but you don't have to. See, no pressure and no stress!

Now go enjoy another sip of lemonade by the pool and relish these lazy days of summer!

Happy Stitching!

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