Saturday, September 4, 2010

My First Slipcovers

We can never go to the Maine house without a few projects waiting for us.

Last year it was apparent that we needed to buy new cushions for the wicker furniture on the front porch. I had some cute "lobster" fabric that I had never used - so I thought I would try my hand at slipcovers to save the cost of buying something new.

I have to say I was nervous at first, but it ended up being an easy project and looks great!

No new cushions for a while for these chairs!

Before: (Not very inviting.)

After: (A great place to sit and relax.)

I'm pretty proud of how they turned out. The lobster fabric was perfect. Plus - they were free! Hopefully they will last for a few years. The weather can be a bit brutal, but the fabric is very heavy weight. We'll see how they hold up.

I'm feeling empowered to try more slipcovers - and I have the perfect project in mind. It will be a little more complicated, but will really transform the pieces. And, it will save us the cost of new furniture. That's a bonus I can get on board with! Now, I just have to wait for the fabric to go on sale. I can be very patient.

I have to say - this was the easiest project of the trip. We cleaned out part of the attic and made a few trips to goodwill and the dump. The guys rebuilt a wall and put a new header in the garage.

One of these days vacation will be just that - vacation! Right?!

Maybe that's just wishful thinking.

The J9

Pickles, Pickles Everywhere!

We had a pickle party at our house last night!

I had about 10 cucumbers from our garden that I wasn't sure what to do with. So, my good friend KB offered to come over and teach me how to make and can pickles. Of course, I took her up on it!

She brought her family, we ordered pizzas, let the kids and hubbies hang out, and we got to work! We always have such a good time hanging together - our husband's have become good friends, our kids are the same ages and are great friends, and we have such a similar outlook on life and family!

It is amazing how much fun we had in my kitchen! We both commented on how much more enjoyable it is to can, bake, whatever . . . with a friend. I have such great memories of my mom and her best-friend (my "ma") canning in the kitchen when I was little. It felt so good to carry-on that tradition. And, I was amazed at how easy it was!

We now have 8 cans of "bread and butter" pickles to enjoy! We used a recipe that KB's husband had from his grandmother. I don't think I have been this proud of something I created in a long time. Now the hard part - we have to wait 30 days to enjoy the fruits of our labor. They are just so tempting sitting on my counter - I may have to move them out of sight!

Probably the most fun of the evening was sitting in the family room talking with the hubbies and listening for the "pop" of the canning lids as they sealed. I know - you're thinking we're a bit corny - but come on - you would have loved it too!

I'm now inspired to do more, so I pulled out a couple of cookbooks that I inherited from my mom and "ma". Both are books with recipes for homemade mixes and then recipes for how to use the mixes.

I would love to be able to pull out something like the "Quick Mix" and use it to create recipes like "Sunshine Coffeecake" or "Crispy Breadsticks". Besides being quick and easy, it's so much more healthful for my family.

I'll let you know how that turns out.

In the meantime, here is the recipe and a photo of our pickles.


The J9

Grandma H's Bread & Butter Pickles

4 qts. cucumber sliced thin (I made mine into chunks instead)
6 medium onions sliced thin
1 green pepper diced
1 red pepper diced
1/3 cup salt
3 cups white vinegar
3 cloves garlic
5 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp. tumeric
1 1/2 tsp. celery seed
2 tsp. mustard seed

Slice cucumbers thin, add sliced onions and diced peppers and whole garlic. Sprinkle salt over layers as you work. Mix a tray of ice cubes through the pickles and let stand for 3 hours. Drain and divide into two batches. Combine vinegar, sugar and spices and pour over pickles. Heat just to boiling. Ladle pickles into hot jars and seal. Allow to stand 30 days before using.

Makes 8 pints.