Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Happy 36th!

I am over the 30s hump and on my way to the 40s. Oh well. I'm starting to get cards that refer to old age. I had escaped them until now. We spent my birthday at a Rockies baseball game. It was fun....and HOT!

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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Jamming or is it Canning?

Our garden is overflowing with strawberries and we had to act fast before the birds got to them. I've never made jam before, but with such an abundance of berries, I needed to learn. I started by cutting the tops off and washing all the berries. Pretty, don't you think?

Then I had to wash all of the jars, bands, and lids. Two summers ago I had purchased these jars at a garage sale for $3. They were still packaged brand new in the box. I am not sure if that is a good deal or not but I've been saving these jars long enough, it was fun to get them prepared.

Once the berries were cleaned and jars washed, I started a large pot of water to boil. You have to put the clean jars in the water prior to pouring the jam to ensure no bacteria is alive to ruin your canning (or jarring, whatever). You also have to boil the lids. Don't start heating the jars until your mixture is starting to climb past the 200 degree mark because you will be stirring for a long time and you don't want your jars sitting in boiling water for such a long time.

There aren't many ingredients required for jam. Here they are:
4 cups of mashed berries (I used the food processor)
1/4 cup of lemon juice
4 cups of white sugar

Add all the ingredients to the pot and stir. They look like this:

The key is to stir and stir and when you are tired of stirring, you stir some more! You wait until your mixture reaches 220 degrees. It seems to linger at 200 degrees FOREVER. You can tell that once it starts climbing past the 200 mark, it starts to look much more like jelly. And here is about the time you want to put your jars in the heated water. Make sure it is a slow and light boil, not a running fast boil. Have your tongs handy to pull them out! Sorry, no pictures of any part of this process--you have to operate fast so no time!

But here are my jars of fresh jelly. I was able to fill 5 jars using the above amount of ingredients. I had to make two batches. I thought about doubling the recipe, but when the mixture is boiling, it rises up so violently. I thought it safer to just do the whole thing twice.

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Fabric Art-Done!

I finished my Fabric Art project. For background, read here and here. It turned out to be much easier than I thought. I had some issues but they were all staplegun-related. If you are considering this project, have no fear! It was pretty easy.

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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Congratulations Dad!

My dad received his Master of Divinity degree on Friday. We're so proud of him! It took him three years of a lot of hard work. Good for him. What an accomplishment!

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Friday, June 5, 2009

Kids and Water

What is with kids and water? I don't remember being so fascinated with water. MiniB could spend hours pushing his toy boats and fish around the sink.

And this weekend we had quite a few water mishaps in our household. First, MiniB thought it would be a great idea to dump half the bath on the bathroom floor. He bathes with MiniMe who is always happt to tattle so I took for granted that she would have told me something. I was one room away folding clothes and their door was open and I had no idea the mischief going on. We want to tile the bathroom next spring but were waiting until MiniB got a bit older so he wouldn't slip on the wet floor. Why any homebuilder puts carpet in a bathroom is beyond me. The carpet is probably not recoverable now. I used 8 towels to try to soak it up and still go squish squish when I step in there. I am worried about mold/mildew!

On Saturday the kids took another bath. They played with their squirt guns. These are itsy bitsy guns from a birthday party. They apparently thought squirting the ceiling would be great fun. I poked my head in and water dripped down on me. The irony is that they both woke up the next day with really sore necks--probably from staring up at the ceiling. We had to put Ben Gay on their necks and everything. Hopefully they learned a lesson.

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Thursday, June 4, 2009

Spoonflower Lessons

I would love to hear from anyone else out there that creates fabric via Spoonflower. I got back some of my fabric swatches and I'm so amazed at the color differences from my original file. Luckily, I knew this could be an issue and I had read Rachel Galloway's tutorials ahead of time on this very subject. She recommends getting a printout of all of the possible color combinations on a one yard swatch. I did just that. See how each color corresponds to a 6-digit code? Those are universal color codes that you use when designing your image. What I think is so interesting is that the colors you are imagining when you are designing look nothing like the file that you ultimately want to send to Spoonflower to print. You really have to buy a color swatch so that you aren't disappointed with your finished fabric.

I ordered some Spoonflower samples based on some of my designs. Mostly, I wanted to compare the color I see on my screen with what it actually prints out to be. The difference is quite amazing and I don't think my computer is going to capture the difference at the level you could see in person. See the polkadot image below? That is the image file I sent to Spoonflower to print. I had used my color codes and was not happy with the image file but had to trust the actual fabric swatch would print out with the colors as I wanted them to look. I would not ever think to combine purple with mustard yellow and a very deep red.

I had specifically chose those purple dots to be brown but they don't appear that way on my screen. When I punch in the correct color code, the image changes to to purple. But my fabric swatches printed out brown as I specified. The reds aren't so deep as in the image file and the yellows aren't as mustardy either. And my pink background color isn't so vibrant as the image file.

Then there are these stripes.

And the fabric swatch of that same file. See how the greens are pretty different? And the thickness of the stripes are much thicker than I thought they'd be. I've got to keep thinking about size when creating my file.

Then there are these flower circles. Here is my image file with my color selections as they look on screen:

And here is the fabric swatch of that same file. I like the image file much better. The flowers get lost in this drab swatch. Not sure what I can do here.

Do you ever hit the Explore button in Spoonflower? I love to see all the designs. There are some lovely designs and some very talented and artistic people out there! Their color choices are so great. But I wonder if they are finding that their fabric prints out to look like their color choices? When I save my files with the "correct" colors, my image files aren't so pleasing though they print out to what I want them to be. In order to have a pleasing image file, I'd have to not really care about the fabric result. I prefer the other way around. All this is just to say that I don't know how you can have a lovely image file with pleasing colors for people to explore and also have the fabric print out as the colors you choose in your software. I don't think it is possible. So are you Spoonies out there creating two files? One that you post for aesthetic-sake and one that is what you want your end result to really be?

I am glad I printed a swatch. I'm not sure I'd do that every time. I actually don't think I'll be purchasing this fabric in greater quantity. But I'll take from this the knowledge that 1. Color on the image file is going to look weird. I've got to trust the swatch with the color codes. 2. I have to really think about size. My stripes that look thin on screen translate differently when I save the image file using dpi conversions.

If you have other lessons or anectodotes, please share!

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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Fabric Art, Part 2

I worked on my fabric canvas art this weekend. I had purchased five 10 x 10" canvases. I decided that I need to purchase four more because the five get lost on my large wall. See how puny just three look (I know these are off center but that is where the nails of my old art are still)?

I'm going to copy the 3 x 3 pattern listed in the article. More when I finish!

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