Historic Garden Week in Albemarle County

Lost tablet…goal to catch up on posts not achieved.

Find tablet…..back to work!

On April 23rd, some friends and I decided to attend the tour I Albemarle County as part of Historic Garden Week, planned by the Garden Club of Virginia. We got the chance to tour the gardens, and a couple of interiors, of five homes on the tour. It was a nice mix of traditional, modern and woodland gardens. There were also lots of flower arrangements done by the Garden clubs and on display both inside and outside the home. Pictures were only permitted at some of the homes, and that included the woodland gardens which was my favorite! I even took my photos and made them my computer desktop wallpaper. Enjoy the slide show!

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Quilt Show Weekend!

So I have gotten really far behind with my posts. I keep starting them but not spending the time to get them ready for publishing. I’m going to try to get them caught up over the next couple of weeks and then get back on track!

Our local quilt show took place on April 1st and 2nd. There were almost 200 quilts and accessories on display made by the membership of my guild and our sister guild. I have included several photos in the slideshow below of some of the great work on display.

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I bought a kit for a cute and cozy looking winter quilt made with flannel applique and won some beautiful quilted wall hangings and a bed quilt at our bag auction. I had a great time volunteering, viewing and shopping over those 2 days. What a success!

Shrubs and still more salt preserving

I really may never tire of salt preserving. I finally got around to making some lime cilantro salt a couple of weeks ago and can’t wait to use it to season some flanks steaks soon. I used the lemon garlic parsley salt this weekend in my warm potato salad, and it was great….especially reheated the next day! Sorry no picture!

And now that it is practically the end of March, it’s time to write about this month’s preserving challenge….shrubs. I had heard the term, but, before this month, I couldn’t have explained what they were. However, I am now a shrub convert! I made a strawberry balsamic shrub following a recipe from the Sweet Remedy blog. I can’t believe how much I am loving adding a splash of it to a glass of seltzer water for a refreshing drink. I’m also planning to try it in iced green tea and use it in a homemade salad dressing. I used the last pound of strawberries in the freezer for this recipe and am really looking forward to trying it with more strawberries this spring, peaches this summer…oooohh, and cherries and raspberries and the list goes on!

Unfortunately, I haven’t made much progress in my quilting projects this month. I pulled out a project that I started in 2014, Lisa Bongean’s 10th anniversary stitch along. I kept up fairly well for awhile, and then I didn’t πŸ˜€. I really want to get this completed because I think I’m going to try to hand quilt it or maybe machine quilt. Obviously, I don’t have that part figured out, but it really inspires me to try to quilt it myself because it is relatively small, and with all the different borders, I can really play with some different designs. I found this blog post which is also inspiring me to quilt it. Now just to find the blog post to inspire me to finish piecing it πŸ˜€. Here is where I am so far. 

Our local quilt show is this weekend at the Prince William County Fairgrounds. I’ll share some of my favorite quilts after the show is over.

Not quite done with salt preserving…. and another finished quilt project

I was very interested in the topic of salt preserving that was introduced in February’s Food in Jars challenge and wasn’t quite done after the salt preserved lemons. This evening I finally had all the ingredients to make lemon parsley garlic salt from Preserving by the Pint. It smells amazing! It’s sitting out on the plate for the next few days to dry out. 

Then it will go in a glass jar to sit in the pantry with my other spices. I’m excited to experiment with it and taste how much fresher it is going to be compared to commercially available flavored salts. And it was so easy that I might not be done…..cilantro lime salt, anyone? #fijchallenge

In the world of quilting, I was able to complete my Annette challenge last week. Annette was a member of my quilting guild and bee and a dear friend. She passed away last year, and we are putting together a display at our quilt show next month. She loved snowmen so when I saw this pattern from Primitive Gatherings, I knew this is what I wanted to make and display in memory of Annette.

I have a small series of gardening classes starting this weekend offered by my county extension office. I hope it inspires me because I have done zero planning for my garden this year, and although there is snow outside now, spring is coming!

Salt Preserving and finishing my Color Challenge quilt

This month’s challenge in the Food in Jars Mastery Challenge is Salt Preserving. I have never attempted to do any salt preserving so this was a real eye-opener. I had no idea how many things you could preserve with salt that were not meat. Last weekend, I started some salt preserved Meyer lemons from Marissa’s book, Preserving by the Pint. After a week, I decided to add some more salt and lemons to the jar since there was a considerable amount of room left in the jar after the lemons had been sitting in the jar for a week. They are just such a beautiful sunny color in the middle of winter! #fijchallenge

 I’m going to concentrate the rest of this month on creating some herb flavored salts. I also opened a jar of marmalade from last month’s challenge and made some amazing orange marmalade rolls (forgot to take a photo)!!

In quilting progress, I have completed a quilt for my guild’s Color Challenge. Every year my guild and our sister guild pick a topic for our challenge quilt. They are placed on display at the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival in February in Hampton, VA. This year’s topic was Color. We were to choose one color, and along with black and white (no gray, unless that was your color), creating a quilt that measures 22×28 inches. I had picked up the embroidery pattern (Birdie Batter Crock from Meetinghouse Designs) last year at a local show and decided to use it as my center after enlarging it. I designed the borders to bring the quilt size to 22×28 inches. Then I practiced some big stitch hand quilting with no. 8 thread. I have some more quilting I would like to do but I ran out of time. I’ll have to wait until I get it back to add more quilting.

January Retreat and Quilting Goals

I’m not much of a New Year’s resolution person, but I do like to take some time at the beginning of each year to write down some monthly goals in different parts of my life. One of those parts is quilting. I like to draw my focus to both a “new” project and a UFO (unfinished object). I focus on making progress on both of the projects each month. My list for the year is not complete, but here is what I have to work from so far. As you can see, it’s a dry erase board, so it is subject to changeπŸ˜€. 

This weekend I was able to really make some progress on my list while attending my quilting guild’s 3 day retreat. We spent three days in a local hotel’s conference rooms with our projects and friends. I spent 2 of the days working on the big stitch hand quilting of my Blue Bird Crock quilt.

I was also able to spend one of the days with my Featherweight, Fern, and my Talking Turkey quilt project that I started in August 2015 when I took the class from Bonnie Hunter in Bedford, PA. I still have a long way to go, but progress has been made on sashing for the blocks and the first border. Here is photo of one of my blocks. 

The time with my quilting friends is the cherry on top! It was such a relaxing and inspiring weekend. Here are just a few of the quilts that were shared this weekend.

Looking forward to the next retreat in June!

Sour Orange Marmalade

I’ve decided to challenge myself to complete the Food in Jars Mastery Challenge.

This month’s challenge was MARMALADE! I’ve eaten commercial orange marmalade in the past but never considered trying to make it myself. I ordered some Seville oranges from The Orange Shop, and they arrived this past week. Time to get started!

I followed the Bitter Orange Marmalade recipe in Marisa McClellan’s book, Naturally Sweet Food in Jars. The first step was to simmer the oranges, and then let them cool. I got a late start on Saturday, so I decided to break this recipe up over two days. After the oranges simmered, I took them off the stove to let them cool for awhile, and then placed them in the fridge overnight with the cooking water.

On Sunday, I pulled everything out of the fridge and started scooping out the pulp into a strainer over the pan I was planning to use for marmalade cooking. Holy seeds! I picked all the seeds out of the pulp, and then placed the pulp in the pan with the juice. I’m using Pomona’s pectin for this recipe so the seeds were discarded. I sliced the rinds into strips and added them to the pulp, along with the rest of the ingredients.

I boiled the pulp and rinds for about 35 minutes before adding the calcium water and boiling for 10 more minutes. The volume reduced quite a bit in those final 10 minutes, and I would probably only boil for 25 minutes before adding the water next time. The pectin and remaining agave nectar were added and boiled for only a couple more minutes before it was thick and ready for canning. Yum!

Jars were filled and processed. I was able to fill five 12oz jelly jars and one 8oz jelly jar. Now they sit on the counter to cool.

Can’t wait to place a spoonful in my yogurt! Oh, and I’m planning to make some orange marmalade cinnamon rolls… maybe next weekend.🍊
I think this recipe was a great confidence builder. I’m planning  to try my hand at Strawberry Meyer Lemon Marmalade next, where I will take advantage of the natural pectin in the lemons. Stay tuned! #fijchallenge