Sunday, November 22, 2009

There's Always Room for Jell-O

OK, not actual store-bought Jell-O, not when you've got a pantry full of beautiful canned fruit juices, straight out of your garden. This is the best fruit gelatin you'll ever have, and I doubt you'll want to go back to that awful chemical stuff once you've tried it.

Fruit Juice Gelatin

Each tablespoon of gelatin should gel 2 cups of liquid. The original recipe from Joy of Cooking calls for a total of 1 cup water (1/4 cup cold, 3/4 cup boiled), and 1 cup of juice. I use all juice, what the heck!


1 tablespoon gelatin


1/4 cup cold fruit juice

Dissolve it in:

1 3/4 cup boiled fruit juice

You might wish to add up to:

1/2 cup honey

for sweetening, depending on the juice you're using (e.g. unsweetened cranberry juice, you might wish to try 1 cup of Sprite or 7Up or ginger ale to the 1 cup of fruit juice, or perhaps all juice with more honey).

Let set in refrigerator about 4 hours or more. If you want to do this in a jelly mold, make sure to chill and wet the mold before pouring the jelly into it. I've not tried that, but it would be neat!

If you want to add pieces of fruit, wait for the jelly to set mostly (but not entirely) so that the fruit will stay suspended.

You can also replace 1/2 cup of the juice with 1/2 cup of vanilla yogurt for a bit of a different flavour.

Crochet Project

Last year, I purchased a Wacom Bamboo graphics tablet for my art. A few months ago I decided that I needed to protect the tablet somehow, because I travel quite a lot with it. I place it in a pocket in my bag, but I still wanted something a little more substantial to protect it. So I took up one of my trusty little steel crochet hooks from my Grandma Hillaby, a couple of fine Mercerized cotton yarns (yes, bamboo yarn would have been much more appropriate, but I had this in stock and didn't want to spend any money), and my favourite crochet pattern (I've created two baby blankets out of this pattern to date) to create a little Bamboo Pocket!

Here's the pattern, for anyone who might be interested. I believe I started with 87 chains (there are 8 full repetitions of the wheel across the body of the pocket, plus the 3 stitches to start, and 4 stitches to end the first row. I just crocheted a "scarf" (i.e. a rectangle), folded it in half, and single crocheted the pocket together at the two edges. I attached a button at the top inside to just keep it closed. I had thought of doing an envelop flap, and I might do so still at some point, but the holes in the pattern fit a little button nicely, so I think this'll do fine for my purposes.

Catherine Wheel

The circular motifs are achieved by working one row of clusters and one row of shells. Try a piece starting with 27 chains.

Row 1: (wrong side) 1sc in 2nd ch from hook, 1sc in next ch. *skip 3ch, 7dc in next ch, skip 3 ch, 3sc, rep from * to last 4ch, skip 3 ch, 4 dc in last ch, turn
Row 2: ch1, 1sc in same place. 1 sc, *ch3, 1dcl worked over 7 sts, ch3, 3sc, rep from * to last 4sts, ch3, 1cl over 4dc, turn
Row 3: ch3, 3dc in same place, *skip 3ch, 3sc, skip 3ch, 7dc in loop of cl, rep from * to last 5sts, skip 3ch, 2sc, turn
Row 4: ch3, 1cl over 3 sts, *ch3, 3sc, ch3, 1cl over 7 sts, rep from * to last 5sts, ch3, 2sc, turn
Row 5: ch1, 2sc, *skip 3ch, 7dc in loop of cl, skip 3ch, 3sc, rep from * to last st, 4dc in last st
Rep rows 2-5 to desired length.

For two colour Catherine Wheel, work as above, changing to the second colour on row 2. Change colour on every alternate row. Here's a video; it's about 20 minutes, but she goes through the whole pattern - very helpful if you don't figure out patterns easily without help from someone showing you what to do. It's a little different pattern than the one above - the demonstrator only does 1sc rather than 3sc in between each 3ch/cluster/3ch combination (and obviously she must only do 1sc wherever it says to do 3 sc above), but you get the idea of how to do the cluster stitch really well by watching.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Renos Progressing

The original house layout was this:

A few years ago, Dave constructed these beautiful built-ins at the window end of the living room:

This year, Dave's built a pair of china hutches to go into the dining room:

Then in October, Dave framed in the new walls between the dining room & living room, to house the new built-ins, and installed them:

Here is the new layout of the house:

Along with framing the walls to house the built-ins, Dave moved the entry from the hallway into the living room down towards the other end of the hallway from it's original placement:

This has already improved traffic flow and has made the living room both physically (because it's blocked the draft from the front door) and psychologically more cozy. A huge side benefit to all this construction is the addition of a "hall" closet (it's actually in the living room, but close enough).

Dave has a beautiful piece of furniture that he'd built to hang jackets and store shoes on; however, it takes up a huge chunk of the hallway. Now, we can move all that stuff into the new closet when it's completed, and repurpose that furniture piece somewhere else, thus opening the hall even further.