Copper Harbor Lighthouse

Copper Harbor Lighthouse

Friday, September 30, 2016

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Pumpkin-Palooza 1


It's fall decorating time again! I made some simple, no-cost pumpkins last year with a scarf, a cloth napkin and a small drapery panel; but those were all deconstructed at the end of the season.
2015

I decided to switch things up a bit by using different patterns/textures for my pumpkin projects this year. I'll show you the first two projects today.

First up, another super simple T.P. pumpkin using a Waverly Fat Quarter in gray houndstooth (Pattern = WV PC HOUNDSTH STEEL). 

After ironing the fabric, I simply grabbed a roll of T.P. from the master bath linen closet and wrapped an old dish towel around it to fatten it up a bit. I placed the fattened roll in the center of my fabric and pulled up the corners of the fat quarter - carefully tucking the loose ends into the center of the roll.
Instead of using a stick from the woods for the stem as I did last year, I cut a length of jute rope I had on hand. I doubled the rope and doubled it again while twisting it, and I tucked it into the center of the roll. 

Then, I smooshed the top edge of the pumpkin in & down a bit with my hands making the shape a little less cylindrical. Done! I had everything on hand except the fat quarter (Walmart - 97¢). 

Next up is my rope pumpkin. I wish I could take credit for this idea, but I saw it somewhere on the web a while ago, and it popped up in my mind when I was creating the stem for my T.P. pumpkin. 

This rope pumpkin also took just a few minutes of my time and 3 things - an empty paper towel tube, jute twine and some jute rope. 

It would be nice if I had photos of the process, but my hands were both occupied, so no photos! I'll try to explain the process. I started by cutting a piece of twine - maybe 6 inches longer than the paper towel tube. While holding the twine parallel to the length of the tube (extending 3 inches at both the top & bottom), I wrapped rope around & around the tube - side by side in a single layer - making sure the twine stayed in place between the tube and the rope - until about 2/3's of the tube was covered in rope. 

Next, I carefully began sliding the rope off the tube while holding the two ends of the twine together. (The twine was now running through the center of the rope.) As the rope was coming off, I stopped and made my first tie with the twine (like the first step in tying a shoe). I continued to slide the rope off the tube - stopping to tighten the twine one more time. When the rope was fully off the tube, I tightened that first tie in the twine until it was snug. Then, I tied a full knot in the twine to make sure it was secure. After that, it was just a matter of shaping the rope into a pumpkin-shaped form, tucking the 2 loose ends of rope into the center of the pumpkin and sticking a short stick in the center for a stem.

There you go - 2 easy pumpkin crafts. Best thing? They can both be deconstructed at the end of the season, and you can do something completely different next year!

Look for Pumpkin-Palooza 2 next week.

All is well in the Keweenaw.

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Saturday, September 24, 2016

Bullwinkle!

When we were coming down Brockway Mountain with friends in early August, we had a bear run out in front of us on the road. That's fairly common.

When we were coming down Brockway Mountain with my cousin and his girlfriend on Thursday, we had Bullwinkle run out in front of us!
Brockway moose

Can you believe it? We knew they were here, but this is the first moose we've actually seen in the Keweenaw. 
Brockway moose

These photos aren't of the best quality, as that road is pretty bumpy. 
Brockway moose

What a fantastic experience!

By the way, Brockway Mountain is still mostly green - a tad too early for a fall color tour.

All is well in the Keweenaw.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

First Day of Fall?

OK, today is overcast with a high of 62°, but this is how things looked a few days ago. 

The foliage is fading and thinning out, but it's still pretty green up here.

I'll keep you posted.

All is well in the Keweenaw.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

In Color

What a blessing it is to be able to see the world around me in color. 

Instead of the western sky looking like this during a recent morning sunrise:

It looked like this:

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of color.

All is well in the Keweenaw.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Copper Yarn-Wrapped Wreath

copper yarn wreath

Here we go with the first of my fall projects. I haven't done a lot of fall decorating yet - just a few things here and there. Why hasten it when our Keweenaw foliage is still mostly green? When we made our recent trip to Marquette, Steve said we should also hit up a few other stores, since Marquette has lots of stores we don't have in our area. Well, if I'm going to be within a hop, skip & a jump of a Michaels Craft Store, I'm not going to pass up the opportunity! Right? I had a list and admittedly took the time to look at everything. Needless to say, several items landed in my shopping cart. (OK, more than several.) One thing that caught my eye was a skein of gorgeous chunky copper yarn. I actually had "chunky yarn" written on my list with plans to make a fall wreath, so this yarn fit the bill perfectly. Dollar Tree was just down the road, so we made a quick stop there to pick up a foam wreath form and some faux maple leaves. (I'm sure the Dollar Tree items were also available in the Houghton store, but we had time for another stop in Marquette and it's a larger store.)

The yarn is made by Loops & Threads and the color is called Autumn Blend. It almost seems to have a metallic sheen to it - very pretty.

This project is fast and easy - good project words in my book. I simply wrapped & wrapped the yarn around the wreath - tucking in the ends of the yarn at the beginning and the end. I also left enough yarn at the end to make a knotted loop on the back to assist with hanging.

Now for some leaves. I purchased 2 bags of faux leaves - one being the typical fabric type - and this bag with leaves made with stiffened webbed threads sprinkled with a little glitter.

I snipped the stems on 3 leaves to make them shorter and tucked them under a few strands of yarn. I also reinforced their position on the wreath by adding a spot of hot glue to the back of each. Next came a simple rope hanger, and I thought I was done.

I tend to like wreaths that aren't overly fussy, but this one still looked a little too plain for me. I went to my craft stash and retrieved a small pinecone. That did the trick.

Now it was finished.

It's hanging in a window in our dining area. . .
but it's going to look much better when the trees outside are decked out in their full fall glory. That should take another 2-3 weeks up here. (Yes, I'll be posting some pictures!) 
copper yarn wreath

All is well in the Keweenaw.

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Friday, September 16, 2016

Thimbleberry Pie

The Keweenaw had a bumper crop of thimbleberries this year. That makes everyone happy, as thimbleberry jam is big business up here. Since the berries grow in so few places in the U.S., thimbleberry jam is a hot commodity and is sold in many of the local shops for $13-$18 a jar. I'm talking a jelly jar, not a pint! Expensive stuff, right? 

There are people and/or groups who pick berries to sell to jam makers, and some of the local jam makers had so many berries this year that they actually had to turn pickers away. They had no more room in their freezers. I'm sure that's probably happened in the past, but we've never heard of it happening in the time we've lived here. Since we make our own jam for our own consumption, we're fortunate to have thimbleberries growing on our property. We also pick in a few other top-secret spots which will only be revealed in our will. Those spots are closely guarded - sort of like season tickets to Packers games.

Because we were able to pick so many thimbleberries this year, Steve requested a thimbleberry pie. This is not a pie you'll find in the local restaurants or bakeries, as it would be very expensive to make. It's not a recipe you're going to find in a normal cookbook either, so I knew anything I attempted would be purely experimental. It's true that we have an abundance of berries in the freezer, but I wasn't taking any chances. I dared not waste too many of those precious red beauties on an experiment. Let's see. Cream cheese goes well with other berries, so why not attempt a pie with cream cheese as a key ingredient?

I have a lemon cream cheese pie recipe that's always a big hit, so I thought I would modify that one a bit. It's a recipe that actually makes 2 pies, so you can eat one now and freeze one for later! It calls for lemon juice and lemon instant pudding mix. Thimbleberries are tart, so I knew I would need a similar amount of sugar. I add lemon juice to my thimbleberry jam, so I would still add some of that. Now, what could I substitute for the lemon pudding that would go well with thimbleberries? I thought about strawberry rhubarb pie. Rhubarb is also tart and pairs well with strawberries, so I picked up a box of strawberry cream instant pudding to pair with the thimbleberries. 

This is a 2-day recipe, but the 2 parts can be made 3-4 hours apart in a pinch. I didn't think to take photos on the first day, but here's what I did. The original recipe called for 2/3 c. lemon juice. It uses 1/3 c. the first day and the other 1/3 c. the second day. I used 1 Tbsp. lemon juice added to enough mashed thimbleberries to equal 2/3 c. (I know most of you don't have access to thimbleberries, so I'll include the complete recipe at the end of this post for those who do.)

I combined water, sugar, cornstarch & half my mashed thimbleberries & lemon juice in a large sauce pan; and cooked & stirred over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Reduced heat; cooked & stirred for 2 minutes. I beat a cup of the hot mixture into beaten egg yolks, and transferred it all back into the saucepan. After I brought it to a gentle boil, I reduced the heat and cooked & stirred for 2 more minutes. I removed it from the heat and stirred in butter & salt. I poured it in a glass bowl, covered the surface of the mixture with clear plastic wrap and chilled it in the refrigerator overnight. 

The next day, I put the other half of my thimbleberries & lemon juice in a large bowl. . .

with cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk and the strawberry cream instant pudding mix.

I beat it with a mixer on low speed until smooth.

After adding in the chilled mixture from the previous day, I beat it on low speed until just combined.

I then poured it into 2 graham cracker crusts. 

I put one in the refrigerator, and the other one is still resting nicely in the freezer. It's rich; only a small slice is needed. Add a dollop of Cool Whip when serving.

Steve loved it. Even my mom loved it, and she's not addicted to the jam!

What would I do differently? Next time, I'll add all the mashed thimbleberries (2/3 c.) to the sauce pan on the first day & add 1 Tbsp. lemon juice to the bowl on the second day. (That's the way I wrote it in the recipe below.) I'll also use regular-size graham cracker crusts. I purchased the larger size this time, but I ended up making one pie a little shallow in order to fill the second crust. I might even experiment by going back to the lemon pudding, but the pies will probably be orange instead of pink.

There you have it. I guess I'll call this one:

Thimbleberry-Strawberry Cream Cheese Pie
  • Yield: 2 pies (8 servings each)
  • Made in 2 steps (minimum of 3-4 hours apart)
Ingredients
  • 2-1/2  cups water
  • 1  cup sugar
  • 1/3  cup cornstarch
  • 2/3  cup mashed thimbleberries
  • 3  well-beaten egg yolks
  • 3  tablespoons butter
  • Dash salt
  • 1  14 - ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1  8 - ounce package cream cheese, softened
  • 1  sm. 4-serving-size package instant strawberry-cream pudding mix
  • 1  tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2  graham cracker pie crusts (regular size, not large)
  • Cool Whip (optional)
Directions
  1. In a large saucepan - combine the water, sugar, cornstarch & thimbleberries. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Reduce heat; cook and stir for 2 minutes.
  2. Beat about 1 cup of the hot mixture into the beaten egg yolks. Transfer mixture back into the saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat. Reduce heat, cook and stir for 2 more minutes.
  3. Remove from heat. Add butter & salt; stir until butter melts. Transfer to glass bowl. Cover surface of mixture with clear plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 3 to 24 hours.
  4. In a large bowl - combine sweetened condensed milk, cream cheese, instant pudding mix & lemon juice. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until smooth (about 2 minutes). Add chilled mixture, beating on low speed until just combined.
  5. Turn into 2 graham cracker crusts. Keep refrigerated. Add a dollop of Cool Whip when serving.
Make Ahead Tip
You can make these pies ahead of time, then cover with plastic lids (from crusts) and freeze one to eat later (wrapping aluminum foil around the pie and lid). To defrost, let the pie stand at room temperature for 3 to 4 hours or place in the refrigerator overnight.

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All is well in the Keweenaw.

Monday, September 12, 2016

I Finally Caved

OK, I finally caved - gave up - surrendered - threw in the towel - sent up the white flag. I guess once you've put 12 screw holes in your bedroom window trim, you might as well put 8 more in the window trim in the dining area. Yep, we purchased more drapery panels.

Because we normally have dinner at 6:00 p.m., the sun shines directly in my eyes during our meal in the summer months - blinding me so badly some days that it's difficult to see what's on the table in front of me. Yes, I could move to the opposite side of the table, but having the sun burn a hole in the back of my head is almost as annoying. Plus, that doesn't solve the problem when we have company. I suppose we could adjust our dinner time during the summer so as not to correspond to the eyeball-searing rays of the sun, but we're both way too routine-oriented to be happy with that solution.

If you remember, I was resisting the whole window-covering thang for our first year in the new house; but I eventually decided the best solution in the dining area would be to hang one of those temporary paper adhesive accordion shades in that window - again, just during the summer. I would take it down at the end of the summer, clean up any leftover sticky residue on the trim with Goo Gone and enjoy my bare windows all fall, winter and spring. I convinced myself I could live with that. Turns out - no matter how hard I tried - I'm just not a paper shade kind of girl. I could kind of ignore the fact that the shade was paper. . . but, those double-ugly plastic clips used to hold the shade in the UP position did not agree with me at all. Maybe if we were talking about the window on an enclosed porch - but not on the window right smack dab in front of our dining table. I briefly (like 10 seconds) entertained the notion of gluing something "cutsie" to the clips - perhaps a stone , flower or butterfly - but that would have drawn even more attention to the paper shade. Uh, uh. Not gonna work. 

I started weighing my design options. What could I buy that would resolve our problem attractively and be most agreeable to my frugal nature. OK, it had to be floor-length drapery panels with grommets, and the color had to be light - preferably off white - some texture - no flowers or graphic design. They had to be sun-blocking, but not blackout panels like I needed in the bedroom for my migraines. We made a trip to Menards in Marquette on Labor Day for some lumber Steve needed, and I spotted my solution. Yes, another screamin' deal! How does 4 window panels meeting everything on my wish list at $6.99 each grab ya?

That comes to $27.96 for 2 windows. Yes, please! (You've heard the song. Help me sing it now. "Save big money - save big money - when you shop Menards!")

I was also able to get the same bronze curtain rods I used in the bedroom while we were there. They're so simple (not fussy) that you almost don't notice them. They're also very sturdy - no center support is needed - so they won't interfere with my Christmas window wreaths. Yeah, I thought ahead. Steve was amused.

I was amused because one of the options I had been considering to get the look I wanted was to purchase cotton drop cloths (like a painter would use), hem them to the desired length and hang them from rods using drapery clips. (Stop laughing now and do a Google search; you'll find plenty of examples on the Internet.) These drapery panels from Menards came in under budget - without dragging out my sewing machine - without purchasing drapery clips - and I get a very similar look. I know! Fist Bump!

Now that the drapery panels are hanging in the dining area, we're really loving 'em. They give our windows a little more personality. Grommets allow curtains to take up very little space when they're pushed all the way open, so the panels aren't blocking our view, they're framing it.

I don't know why we were so resistant to putting screw holes in our window trim. Maybe it's because we do have such a personal relationship with the wood. This pine window trim and all the tongue & groove boards covering our walls and ceilings came from our own trees - trees that had to come down anyway to clear the path for our driveway. It was milled, stacked, restacked, dried for years and cut to the proper dimensions before going up on the inside of our home. Steve's hands have been on every single board many, many times. It's very special to us. In the long run, we've decided that we're not really destroying or covering up the wood by hanging a few curtains. We're just enhancing it. Don't be surprised if we enhance it a little more the next time we go to Marquette. The patio doors are feeling a bit neglected.

All is well in the Keweenaw.