Thursday, September 30, 2010

Life's a (Dill) Pickle

Although this is a separate post, I canned my dill pickles the same day as I did my bread-and-butter pickles.  It was a looooooog day, but it's not often I can be on my feet that long without being in a lot of pain so it was worth it!

Dill pickles require a little more than the bread-and-butter pickles.  You can't use just any cuke at the local produce stand.  You need Kirby cukes.  They are smaller and crunchier but taste pretty much the same.  And you need fresh dill and fresh garlic.  And short, wide-mouthed jars.  And the lids and rings that fit the wide-mouthed jars. 

Anyway, once you've made sure you have everything you need (preferably before you start the process...unless you have a hubby that is willing to drop everything and run to get you whatever you didn't realize you absolutely had to have until you are at the point you can't stop to go get it yourself...yes, this is my life!) it's time to make pickles!

So, here are the Kirby cukes, washed and waiting to be re-created into something a little more tart!

You may be wondering what in the world I was doing to the pickles.  Dill pickles should be crisp when you take a bite and the last time I made dill pickles (all four recipes and about 20 jars in total) they were soggy, limp and not a crunch to be found anywhere.

So I did some research and everyone suggested to have some extra crunch to soak the cukes in a lime bath.  You may be wondering where ketchup fits into a dill recipe.  The simple fact doesn't.  Cukes tend to float and I was trying to make sure they all stayed submerged to get the full benefit of the lime bath.  But it confused my hubby when he first walked into the kitchen and saw it.  Lots to be said for keeping the mystery in the relationship (or the kitchen)!

Here's the jar with the sliced cukes, fresh dill and fresh garlic just waiting for the brine to boil! 

This quart jar is full of the little pieces that were left over when I cut the cukes down to fit in the smaller pint jars.  Couldn't see wasting them and thought dill pieces would be a great idea!

Wish I could tell you this batch and new process (for me at least) turned out great, but dill pickles need to sit for a minimum of EIGHT WEEKS before you can open them and try them out.  So the beginning of November we'll open on of the jars and see how it turned out.  That's a long time to wait to see if you did everything right, but life isn't always instant gratification!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tantalizing Tuesday

You never know when you will discover an artist that creates pieces that makes your heart sing.  I was featured in a collection titled Let Me Entertain You on ArtFire by Gypsy G Designs and that is how I was introduced to Kiln Fired Fine Art .   I hope you are intrugued enough to check out all her work! 

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sunday's Symbols

Teach me thy way, O LORD,
and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies.
Psalm 27:11

The paths our lives take will vary with the experiences we have. But we have the assurance as a believer in Christ that we will never walk alone.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Life's a Pickle

Of the many skills I learned from my Granny, I think I am most thankful for the ability to make jams and preserves.  It's so nice to take the beautiful and delicious fruit in the summer and have it available for my family in the winter.  

But the one thing I can--without fail---every summer is pickles.  My mom was not one for canning but my dad loved Granny's bread-and-butter pickles and I can remember at the end of every summer, just before school started up again, making batch after batch of these pickles with her. 

It's always hard to get people Christmas presents as the years go don't want to get something unneeded or unwanted.  But I know that for Dad and Granny, I have their Christmas shopping done when I get the last of the spices needed for their bread-and-butter pickles!

First step is to scrub the cucumbers and let them dry.  You can use regular cukes, but I used Kirby this year because I was going to try my hand at making a batch of dill.


Six quarts of thinly sliced cucumbers and three quarts thinly sliced onions soaking for several hours in a salt brine.

Two batches soaking...please ignore the messy kitchen.  I think I was on my third and fourth batch when I took this picture!

Two batches soaking and one in the boiling water bath...I was on a roll!

Here's the "fruits" or should I say "vegetables" of my labors...they look so pretty on the shelf in the basement!  And it's great to have some of the Christmas shopping done already (yep, I'm my Granny's girl!)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Tantalizing Tuesday

Whether you like to create jewelry or simply wear beautiful pieces, you'll love Kara's shop IDZYNE.  I found her shop while browsing on Etsy for all things created with pumpkins.   Have a great Tuesday, everyone!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sunday's Symbols

As the weather turns from summer to fall, the sunsets around here seem to get more colorful and stunning.  And I am constantly reminded of God's creativity and his love for us, even in the small details.  He didn't have to create colors.  There is nothing necessary about the colors in a sunset (or sunrise for that matter!)  It is simply to be enjoyed as it happens.

As I have entered my 40's (can that really be true?!?!?) I am starting to think about the changes that will inevitably occur as I enter the second half of my life.  And I guess you could say the sunset has in a sense started for me.  But I hope that as long as God allows me to be here, that I continue to shine with a depth of color that only comes with a long and close walk with HIM.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Getting ready for Christmas 2010!

I still feels like summer most days, but if I learned nothing else the past few years is that I need to start thinking Christmas before it feels like Christmas. 

I remembered to take pictures of these ornaments as I was painting them so I thought it would be fun to share the insanity with you!

This is what the stands looked like after the last craft show...we don't normally leave them like this but a sudden thunderstorm and driving rain made a neat and orderly take-down impossible!  First order of business...untangle the mess!

Next, all the glass has to be prepped and allowed to dry.  This is just half of what I'm working on this morning.

For the first step, the flamingo bodies, necks and heads as well as legs are painted on.  Love this color pink!

Next come the palm trees.  This is tricky because you will see these through the glass so the "lights" have to be painted first.

Next are the Santa hats...even flamingos like presents!

Next I painted the palm trees.  I think they look really cool with the white lights on them!  (Although hubby will ask where they get electricity on an island...don't know and don't care.)

Finally I can paint the sand and water to complete the design.  I really like the 3-D effect painting on this type of ornament can achieve. 

Here's a straight on shot...really looks like this flamingo is wading through the water on Christmas morning looking for his presents!

No matter how this ornament turns, you have a great image to look at.  Took some tries to get it to look just right (too many do-overs to count) but it's a fun design. 

Most of these will be heading to The Hive, a shop in Florida that is carrying some of my work, but I will be offering these in my Etsy shop and my ArtFire shop in the next few days.

Keep watching...snowmen are coming!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Tantalizing Tuesday

Today's artist really has a passion for PURPLE!  Today I would like to introduce you to Tracie from Dean Design!

How did you get started with your craft/art?

I wanted a cell phone charm for my phone and could not find anything in!!!! I also wanted a pretty dangle charm for my purse but there did not seem to be anything out there at the time.

What prompted you to set up a home-based business?

I went to a local bead shop and picked out purple beads and a sun charm to make my own cell phone charm!! The lady at the shop was telling us of Etsy and how we could sell handmade items there. She really liked my cell charm.

What part of your craft is your favorite?

I guess you could say my favorite part is "seeing" my design come to life after piecing it all together!!! Of course when it sells is a great high!!!!

How have you changed since starting your business? How has this impacted your craft?

I have learned a lot of new ways to create my pieces. Wire wrapping, clusters. Trying to get better pictures in my shop!! I am always trying to find new ways to improve everything. Some day I hope to actually take classes.

What is the most challenging aspect of running your business?

I would have to say trying to market and sell my product!! Everyone says you need to find your target group, however, with the economy the way it is I think my target group is in!!!

How did you come up with your shop name?

My last name is Dean so it just sorta came together. Not that original but I like it.

Where do you see yourself in five years? Where do you see your business?

I hope to see my business grow! I would love everyone to have a Purskey on a purse, key chain, backpack, diaper bag, or wearing any of my charm bracelets. It would be wonderful to be a household name.......

How do you keep a balance between home and business responsibilities?

I wait for inspiration and money to work on my designs. In between I work on the My husband helps out with marketing and sales. It is a team effort.

What is the funniest/craziest/most touching thing that has happened while having a business?

Customer Satisfaction all the way!! I am always thrilled, humbled, and honored when a customer says they are amazed at the craftsmanship.

If you could give one piece of advice to others who are just getting started with their businesses, what would it be?

Take your time. Make something YOU like. If you have an online store, try to make the pictures as pretty as possible. Show the item as it is intended to be used. Customers can not touch the product so do all you can to make them feel like they are.

Can you give us some links to be able to follow you?

My Etsy shop