The Modernization of Marmelade

A year ago a friend asked me if I had ever made Marmelade.  I had to tell him, “No,” but then I went right home and looked up the recipe.  “Ugh!–Too much work,” I thought.  But then I also realized that it would be silly not to try and learn how to cook it and make it just as tasty, but less labor intensive, especially since I have citrus trees right here in my own back yard–2 orange, 1 lemon, and a ruby red grapefruit–all which are highly reputed in the family and among neighbors for having especially delicious fruit!  So 20 batches of jam later, and this is what I have developed & know will work:

Fruit Needed:  About 13-16 Tangerines, or 11-14 Lemons, or 10-14 Oranges, or 4-6 Grapefruit–It depends on what sizes are your fruit.  I had great fun making Tangerine Marmelade, Lemon Marmelade, Orange Marmelade, Ruby Red Grapefruit Marmelade, and Mixed Citrus Marmelade with some of each!  Next time maybe I’ll get some limes to try Lemon-Lime Marmelade. . .

Step 1= Prepare your work site.  Place a double layer of paper towelling under a medium-sized cutting board and lay a medium-sized knife, citrus zester (or grater), & citrus spoon adjacent.  Add a quart measuring bowl to put the zest & juice into as you work.  I also found it helpful to cover other tools or decor on my countertop with a tea towel in order to protect them from the citrus acid that sprays out from the skin while zesting. (And it really helps save on clean-up time!)



Step 2= Zest the peel of the fruit onto the cutting board, working around any pokes, scars, or blemishes on the citrus skin.  I love zest, so I zested every piece of fruit before I juiced them.  Put the zest into the quart measuring bowl as it builds up on the cutting board.


Step 3= Cut the fruit into halves and juice it, adding the juice to the zest until you have about 4 1/2 cups of zest + juice–It barely fits; the bowl is full, almost to the brim!



Step 4= Pour the zest & juice into a 6-quart sized cooking pot and heat over medium on the stovetop until it comes to a full rolling boil.  Boil for 10 minutes.



Step 5= Add 6 cups of sugar to the boiling fruit and zest, while stirring constantly.  Continue to stir the fruit & sugar mixture until it comes back to a full rolling boil, & then boil for exactly 1 minute.


Step 6= Immediately 1 pouch of liquid fruit pectin, & bring the jam back to a full rolling boil again, stirring constantly.  Again boil for exactly 1 minute, and then remove the jam from the heat. (If you want to us dry pectin, the process is slightly backwards–adding the pectin before the sugar–refer to the enclosed instructions in the dry pectin box.)


Step 7= Immediately give the jam a few final stirs, & then skim off any foam.  I actually didn’t have hardly any foam with the variety of fruit I used–I think this may be due to the citrus oil in the zest.  Then ladle your jam into prepared jars, filling each to within 1/4″ of the top.  Make sure the top of each jar brim is clean so that the lids will seal, cover with a canning lid, and screw the band on tightly.  This recipes makes just about 7 cups, so I mostly used the 8 oz. “Quilted” Jars that are sold just about everywhere now due to the popularity of using canning jars in decorating/crafts. (These photos are of pints, though.)

Step 8= Process jars for 10 minutes in a canner of boiling water, having 1-2 inches of water covering the jars.  Yeah, I remember when we didn’t have to do this step and when we used to seal jams & jellies with paraffin–But that was in the good old days before we had “Super” bacteria & viruses in the world!  Now, this is the recommended way of sealing all your hard work to keep it safe.


Step 9= After processing, remove the jars from the hot water and allow to cool on an absorbant dish towel on the countertop. Blot the water off of the lid tops carefully; then allow them to just stand there–overnight is good!  Be sure to label & date your product before you put them away.  I have also found that it helps to carefully loosen the screw bands the next day so that they can completely dry without forming a rust bond to the lid.


(And so what am I doing with 20 batches of jam?  Ssshhhh!  It’s called “Christmas!”  Who doesn’t like gourmet jams and jellies?–Do an online search & check out the prices that some people are charging if you order theirs!)



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Easy T-Shirt Memory Quilt Top, My Method

After my children grew up and left home, I was somehow left with stacks of folded t-shirts in their former drawers.  Most of them were personal, from teams or clubs or special groups like high school choir.  The t-shirts were still mostly new, held special memories, but were not going to be worn again–ever!  Hence, the t-shirt memory quilt was born.

Step 1:  Determine the size of your quilt block by making a square or rectangular pattern of paper that covers the largest design on front or back of the t-shirt, wherever it was printed, plus add 3/8 inch for seams on all 4 sides of the block.


Step 2:  Covering the edges of the paper pattern with a plastic quilting ruler, cut around the outside of your block with a rotary cutting tool  (works much better than scissors!). Continue by cutting out all of your t-shirt blocks.


Step 3:  Lay the t-shirt blocks out in a large space, like the top of a bed or the floor to determine the order to place them, or the pattern that you wish them to make.


Step 4:  Join the blocks at the sides to form rows by stitching with a slightly larger straight stitch.  Then stitch over the first seams again with a “stretch” stitch designed for knit fabrics.


Step 5:  Join all of the rows of blocks together using the same technique, first sewing with a slightly larger straight stitch, followed by a second stitching over the first seam with the stretch stitch.  You may “splay” these vertical side seams as you stitch the rows together, laying the top side seam going one direction and the bottom side seam opposite, in order to avoid a big fabric bump where the four layers of fabric meet in each corner.  After sewing all the rows of blocks together, you will have your quilt top.


Finishing:  Now that your top is sewn, you just need to buy a lightweight batting for the center layer, prepare your quilt back, and then quilt it.  I didn’t feel the need to use fabric stabilizer or interfacing, etc., for my quilt top as some people have, and I’m glad that I didn’t–I used flannel for my back, and it kept the top stable enough while quilting.  I used a “lazy daisy stitch” to quickly quilt along the seams because it’s less noticeable than a bunch of yarn ties.  Then I folded the edges of the flannel back forward over the edges of the quilt top to “bind” it, and stitched around it on my Bernina.  My grandkids think that this is best, “snuggly-est” quilt ever!  And I was happy to find that t-shirts are just as comfortable “off” as they are “on” the body!

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The Covert Robin Flies (by AirMail) to England

Today ends the Covert Robin gift exchange. It was an especially fun experience for me because I was assigned Sarah from England. Anybody that knows me will swear to the fact that the greatest desire of my heart, and #1 on my Bucket List, is to spend a summer in England, touring the land of (most of) my ancestors, and doing a little genealogical research there, too. So I had a great time, sleuthing and checking out Sarah’s blog, learning a bit about her life and her darling kids. I even left a secret friend comment on one–Hope I didn’t give myself away, Sarah! Unfortunately, this blog will have to be “sans” photos–I was in such a hurry to mail my package so her kids would get their knitted chicks in time for Easter, that I forgot to take any pictures. But you can check out her blog posting, and see what handmade gifts I sent @
Someday I’ll come to England, Sarah, and we’ll go to Lunch!

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Retro Hair Bling Bling

Here is another recent discovery from the never-ending saga of “Let’s Clean Out. . .” I discovered this retro hair ornament pattern that was “all the rage” in the late 60’s and 70’s. With all the focus on hand-crafted bows, flowers, bands, etc., for hair decor, I thought it would be a good idea to share. Or if you don’t want to make any for your self, children, grandchildren, friends, or whatever, then order what you want from me at my etsy shop!

Cascading Hair Spirals:

Materials: Size J crochet hook, some 4-ply yarn as have or desire

1. Chain 105.
2. Double crochet in the 3rd ch from the hk, then dc again in the same ch
3. Work 3 dc in each of next 23 ch sts.
4. Work 1 sc in each of next 54 ch sts.
5. Work 3 dc in each of remaining sts (24 ch sts).
6. Fasten with a tight knot and drop of super glue.
7. You may need to twist & turn the second half backwards so that the spirals hang down and are directionally opposite of each other when worn.

Click here to see it in my etsy shop!

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Vintage Americana Transformed. . . Now a Picnic Tablecloth!

When I was cleaning out my linen closet a couple months ago, I came across a forgotten stack of bandanas. I had forgotten I even had them, it was so long since they had been used. I formerly had taken them to Pioneer Village Living History Museum, just north of Phoenix, for use as costumes by the boys in my school class, when we were on that field trip. (But it’s been five years since that district banned field trips for financial reasons!) So, being in a “piecing” frame of mind, I had the idea of sewing them together to make a tablecloth long enough to cover one of those 8 foot city park picnic tables. Luckily, I had 18 bandanas, so I . . .
1st–arranged them (still folded up) into an array of 6 rows of 3 columns. And with only 1 coral, 1 turquoise, 1 purple, and three red bandanas, I then was able to randomly place one of these colors into each row with 2 navy bandanas.

2nd–I sewed the “side” seams of each row, just overlapping the bandanas onto each other by 1/4″, and then stitching through the two thicknesses. This also made it possible to follow the hemstitching 1/8″ in from the edge of the top bandana.

3rd–Be sure to stack the rows of bandanas as you sew them, in order to NOT lose your determined pattern.

4th–After sewing each row together vertically, join each row to the row under it in like fashion, horizontally overlapping the bandanas 1/4″, and stitching through both, following the hemstitching on the top bandanas again.

5th–You’re finished! This project turned out to be very fast and easy. The tablecloth dimensions are approximately 8 1/2 feet by 4 1/2 feet,and it took me less than two hours to sew. Plus I was able to “re-purpose” some items that would probably not get more use into something that WILL have a lot of use, especially with Spring and Summer right around the corner, especially Memorial Day and 4th of July picnics!

And Thank-You to Grandma for lending her LONG table to be my model!!!

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“Green Bags” from old T-Shirts

I was sorting through a pile of old T’s when I had this idea, and I thought it was definitely worth posting to share with others. You can make more “green bags” for shopping, outings, etc., by repurposing old t-shirts that nobody wants to wear anymore. The first bag I made was the most simple thing I have ever sewn in my life! I had a tank tee that one of my girls had worn back in the past when she did synchronized swimming. It had such good memories that I hated to just toss it. So I turned it into a shopping bag.

1= Turn the tank tee wrong side out. Stitch the bottom together, sewing through the middle of its hem to give the seam extra strength.

2= Open up the bottom seam to form a diagonal point, and then sew about 3 inches from the point to form a “side seam” for the bag bottom. Repeat on the other side of the bottom seam.

The finished product!

3= Turn it right side out, pop out the corners, and you’re finished!

T-Shirt With Sleeves:

1=Find an old T-shirt with sleeves. (A pocket is a great additional feature!)

2= Cut the sleeves and neck ribbing off.

3= Fold the cut edges over about 5/8″ on the neck and stitch a “hem” with your machine’s stretch seam stitch. (The edges have to stretch without breaking as groceries, picnic items, etc., are placed inside.) Repeat this step with both sleeve/armhole rough edges.

4= Now sew the bottom edges together as in step #1 of the tank tee above.

5= Open up the bottom seam to form a corner diagonal point as in step #2 of the tank tee above, and stitch about 3 inches away from the point to form a “side seam” in the bottom of the bag. Repeat for the other side.

6= Turn the bag right side out, and pop out the corners, and you’re finished! Voila`!!

I know it’s hanging on a hangar, BUT it IS a bag. I also left the pocket on because you can use it for holding coupons, keys, lip gloss, etc.!

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Guiness Book of World Records?!?!

Guiness Book of World Records Here I Come!!!

I am famous throughout my extended family as the Knit Chick. This is because I have knit custom Christmas Stockings for every single family member as they have joined, whether by birth or marriage. I also have a variety of tiny mini-stockings for sale in my Etsy shop, “TheKnittedChick.” So I wasn’t too surprised when my second-oldest daughter asked me to knit her a large Christmas stocking to hang on her front door as a decoration. I zoomed off to buy several “pound” skeins of white yarn and several skeins of red “glitter” yarn so I could make her stocking reminiscent of a candy cane. (She and her family LOVE peppermint candy canes.) However, somehow I failed to compute my gauge correctly. So after about 1 1/2 years of knitting every chance I had, this is what I ended up with–an entry for the GBWR!!! It is made of about 64,00 stitches, 30 inches in diameter, and 8 feet long!

Here it is with my almost 12-year-old grandson using it as a sleeping bag!

Needless to say, it was too large for a front door! But here we have it hanging on my daughter’s 14 foot-ceiling-ed wall=

And–Oh, yes!–I did officially apply to the GBWR!

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