Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Mini Pumpkin Box

This all started because I needed to test my arm and see what it could take - if I could embroider yet or if it hurt too much after my arm injury. I'd been joking around for a while that I'd make one of the cookies from the Cookie Clicker game I play.  The latest update of the game has Halloween themed cookies and one of them is a pumpkin. I decided to do that one as, if it worked out and I was able to finish it on time I could then also enter it for the Deviant Art Artisan Crafts gallery  Trick or Treat Contest for the fake pumpkin category.

I made this on a scrap of even weave that I had left over from the fruit sewing kit I'd made. It took quite a bit of effort to manage to do this as my arm and had really didn't like me doing this all that much but as it wasn't really painful I decided it would be ok to keep going as I'd been told that was ok as long as it didn't hurt.

The embroidery took me about 5 hours to do - about 4 times longer than I'm used to for such a small piece. Once it was done I needed to do something with it as a tiny embroidery all on it's own wasn't going to cut it. I remembered that I also had a couple of bits of thick cardboard from making the fruit sewing kit so i grabbed them and cut one strip into 2 squares of 2 1/2 inches and the other into 4 strips of 2 1/2 x 1 1/4. I dug around the bits of fabric I had handy and found a pumpkin fabric and a autumn leafy print.

I first sewed the pumpkin embroidery to the square that would make the lid then I fixed the outer fabric to the cardboard by doing a herring bone stitch to pull the edges around the card, next I folded over the seam allowance of the pumpkin fabric and sewed that down with smallish stitches. Once all the pieces were made I sewed them together with a whip stitch. I added a little orange leaf bead to the lid as a way to open and close it.

Size of embroidery: 1 1/4"
Colours used: 7
Number of stitches: 239
Size box: 2 3/4" wide  x 2 3/4" deep x 1 1/2" high

Apple and apple/strawberry jam

This time of year when fresh apples are plentiful I like to make apple jam. It's not something people tend to make which is a shame as it is the yummiest jam ever, especially when it's made with strawberries too (though people who don't like strawberries would probably disagree on that point hehe). If you like apple sauce but want something a bit more grown up then apple jam is for you! It's also very easy to make and doesn't require any special equipment.

Equipment you need: 
  • Large pan (I used a 5 litre/10 pint pan but larger is probably safer)
  • Wooden spoon
  • Jam jars:  4 - 5 jars with a metal screw lid per kg/2 pounds of fruit
  • A slotted or perforated spoon if you have one - otherwise a normal spoon will do.
See - nothing really special needed :)

Ingredients for about 4 jars of jam*:
  •  1 kg / 2 pounds roughly grated apples** (on a 4 sided standing grater I used the largest one)
  • 1/2  kg / 1 pound of  granulated sugar
  • 1/2 kg / 1 pound of jam sugar
  • A pinch of cinnamon (optional)
  • A teaspoon of lemon juice (optional)
  1. Put the grated apple into the large pan with the cinnamon, lemon juice and add the granulated sugar only.
  2. Put it on a low heat and stir the apple and sugar together - it will be quite dry at first but s the sugar gets wet from the apple and starts melting it will soon become liquid.
  3. Bring it to the boil slowly, stirring all the time - by doing it slowly you give the apple some time to cook which results in a better flavour later on.
  4. Use the slotted/perforated spoon to remove any scum (white bubbly stuff) that floats on the top of the jam.
  5. Once it's getting close to the boil add the jam sugar.
  6. Stir it in carefully and keep stirring till the jam is boiling even when you stir.
  7. Take the spoon out and let the jam boil for 4 minutes exactly.
  8. Meanwhile wash the jam jars up in the hottest water possible - you need the jars hot when you pour the jam into the jars and carefully dry them on inside as water in the jam is a bad thing.
  9. Keep the jars warm in the oven on a low setting.
  10. When the time is up turn the heat off.
  11. Do the next bit as quickly as you can - you need to do this while the jam is still close to the boiling point.
  12. Get the jars out of the oven and place them on a tea towel to protect your work surface and avoid them shattering.
  13. Fill the jars almost to the top with the jam.
  14. Close the jars as tightly as you can with the lids and then turn the jars upside down.
  15. This will create the vacume seal jam always has.
  16. After 5 minutes turn the jam the right way round (don't leave it any longer or the jam will stick to the lid and not move down.)
  17. Leave to cool while still on the tea towel, add a lable with the type of jam and the date.
  18. The jam should be kept in a cool dark place when sealed and in the fridge when opened.

  If you wish to make apple/strawberry jam just use half apple and half strawberry and don't use cinnamon.

* Please note that I'm using whole pounds even though a pound is less than half a kg as its easier to weigh and it doesn't make difference to the end result except there being slightly less jam. Just choose either pounds OR kg and stick with that and it will be fine.
** I used Elstar - a crisp semi sweet apple - I'd suggest using any apple you like to eat.