Tuesday, December 15, 2009

What we did last night

Hey! Not what you're thinking! We made Christmas presents! That's not a euphemism!

If you're my friend in real life, (as opposed to this internet life?), and you're reading this, you have to stop right now! Yes I'm talking to you, JUDY! No scrolling down, just close the window and go cuddle your gorgeous little girl. Or go enter my Chocolatey Chai Tea giveaway (it's the last day to enter). Or else you will ruin the surprise. And all Santa will bring you is a lump of coal!

Everyone else is allowed to look :)

Ta da!On the left - Apple Cinnamon Cider Jelly. And on the right - Pinot Grigio & Thyme Jelly. One of each for our closest friends (DH already took some to give to co-workers). I think I will complete the set with some homemade crackers (also super simple and always impressive) and a tin full of an assortment of homemade cookies. Nothing beats homemade gifts, in my book. Hopefully our friends feel the same way :)

Jellies are really easy to make, especially when you're using juice or wine to start with (no pressing or straining the fruit). These two recipes are from one of my favourite preserving cookbooks, The Complete Book of Small Batch Preserving. Each recipe made 8 baby jars for gifts plus one 1-cup jar for our fridge (shh! the cooks have to taste it - quality control, folks!).

If you or someone you know is interested in preserving, I highly recommend this cookbook (Christmas idea?). The recipes are easy and usually fast, and you can work with what's in season or what you have on hand, since it makes small batches - you don't need (or need to chop) a bushel of anything, and you won't end up with a pantry full of 30 jars of that peach-pear-lime jam that only you love.

I topped each jar with a circle of fabric - the apple jelly has 'apple, bee' fabric on it that I found at Lens Mills out in KW, which is like a quilter or seamstress' heaven (how I miss that store!), and the pretty green floral is from a stack of fat quarters that I was lucky enough to win over at Use the Loot. It's perfect - kind of retro, kind of modern.

Which reminds me, I am still trying to figure out what sewing machine to buy. It's an investment, I want to make the right choice. Ever since my sewing machine died, I've had a zillion things I want to sew. Doesn't that figure? I have narrowed it down, in theory, to a couple that have gotten good reviews online and that have the features I want:
  • the Janome Sewist 625e (though I think it's about $700?!)
  • the BabyLock Grace (a renamed CreativePro BL40)... still nearly $500...
  • a Kenmore machine, maybe - they're apparently made by Janome so might be a good choice
I need to get out and test some machines! What I really want is a simple machine that also does a one-step buttonhole, which is the dreamiest feature I can imagine. The price tags scare me... but then again the last machine kept going for nearly 50 years; hopefully a new one will be long-lived, too. If you have any further thoughts on sewing machines, I'd love to hear!

OH and I was featured on an Etsy treasury today!

Enough already about me, right?! Time for some giveaways.

For baby:
For the ladies:
For grown-ups:
For anyone:
  • Win a $25 gift certificate to EcoStore USA at Melinda Joy. Ends January 5th.
  • Win a $50 gift certificate to Lavish & Lime at My Wee View. Ends December 18th.
  • Win a $25 gift certificate to Chapters Indigo at Cool Canucks! Open to Canadians only! Ends January 31st!


  1. You've convinced me to make some jelly (you said they were easy), so I checked with my local library and they DO have "The Complete Book of Small Batch Preserving" on their shelves!

    A close family friend recently give me a jar of red pepper jelly, and oh my goodness, IT'S DELICIOUS and truly very addictive! I've never had better jelly in my whole life! She's writing out the recipe for me, so I think I'll give a try at that one... or maybe since my son really likes a port imported from Africa, I might make port wine jelly (Mom made some when I was a kid) :)

  2. I love that you used the give-away fabric for this - it looks perfect! And thanks so much for the book reference. I'm totally going to put that on my list of things to try. Yum!


Hey, why not leave a comment? I'd love to hear what you think. If you're entering a giveaway, be sure to leave your email address if it's not set to public in your profile!