Crafty Projects, Bottling Apples & Garden Pretties

Crafty / Decor Things

My nesting drive turned to getting some decor things done around the house. I’ve been meaning to do some of these things for quite some time but the outdoors usually gets so much more of my attention. These are the things I think I’ll do during the ‘downtime’ of winter. But we have such mild winters that now I have a cool season round in the garden and I tend to end up working on building projects while it’s nice and cool. Just not right now. I guess there’s nothing like an impending baby to make you get things done inside the house.

The first project I got going on was the herb hook cross. This is for our living room and serves as an inspirational decor feature as well as a place to hang herbs for drying. The reason I needed to get it done is because the pieces of timber and the bolts were sitting on the desk in the baby’s room, just waiting to be assembled and finished. If I didn’t do it now it would get put away somewhere and forgotten about. It was nice to get something creative done too, other than knitting. I’m not going to pretend that I attached the pieces very well though. Some watered-down paint wiped on with a cloth has given it a nice touch. It isn’t quite finished as I want to paint a scripture on it, but it is on the wall.

The herb hook cross.

I got one of my photos printed and put into a frame to hang in our bedroom. The frame has only been sitting waiting for about two years… There were no hanging parts on the back of it so I had to take a crash course with Uncle Google on what to get and how to attach it safely, since it is a large frame. We used to use Command hooks for all our frames but have had too many come unstuck and fall off the wall, with some casualties.

I was looking for D-rings to screw onto the back of the frame but could only find picture triangles in Bunnings. They’re fine as long as they’re set on a 45 degree angle so the wire hangs nicely. I made sure I got a strong braided wire as last time I used thinner wire to hang something it snapped. And I made sure I used the correct looping technique to attach the wire to the triangles so it doesn’t unwind. Now we have something beautiful to look at in our bedroom. It’s like having a window looking out on a forest. Excellent. This wasn’t directly related to the baby, but when I’m sitting in bed feeding the baby I will definitely appreciate the forest view.

Hello, trees.

I installed a few little floating shelves in the baby’s room that had been sitting around in there. They used to be in the living room where the big bookcase now resides. I figured it’s always useful to have at least some form of shelving to put things on.

Little shelves for Little Seedpod’s room.

I haven’t bottled fruit much before because I’d rather slice and freeze it than bottle it with sugar. But I found a video about bottling apples without sugar. Sugar helps to stop apples from browning and to keep their shape better but apparently it doesn’t prolong their shelf life. You can bottle apples with just apples, citric acid and water. Here is the how-to video by Piwakawaka Valley Homestead.

Since late apples are in season right now and the apple peeler/corer/slicer I was stalking from a few different sources came on special, I decided to take the plunge. There’s a local apple orchard that has good prices and a good selection of varieties that taste rather nicer than supermarket apples too. I got a large bag of Granny Smith seconds for $5 and a bag of kid-sized ones for The Little Fulla and my middle-of-the-night snacks.

It was a nice family effort. The Husband and The Little Fulla operated the apple peeler and put the cores and peelings into a bag for the freezer. I want use these later to try making my own apple cider vinegar. I did the jar sterilising, water bath and other prep things and the quality control – cutting off any missed skin and brown spots on the apples. The spirals of apple created by the peeler are simply cut in half, then all the slices are put into a pot of water with 1 tsp citric acid to help stop browning.

After heating these to a simmer they were bottled in the jars with 1 tsp citric acid each and put in the water bath pot to boil for 30 minutes.

We got five large 1L jars of apples out of the $5 bag of apples, so I’m rather pleased with that. One jar could fit up to six apples. We can use them for baking or desserts like apple crumble, in our rice porridge for breakfast, in pork dishes or just eating when we don’t have much fresh fruit on hand.

I would like to return to the orchard to get some more apples. It would be nice to try another variety or two, now that we know what to do and while they’re in season. Except the baby has gone back downhill on the rollercoaster so I don’t know if it will let me accomplish such things.

Bottled apples.

June has arrived, heralding the official start of winter. Yesterday was a beautiful blue sky day, in contrast to the thunderstorms and plenteous rain we had on the weekend. Last week we had a -2degC (28degF) frost, which killed off the late beans. We got a decent supply of green beans and a few of the bush beans got to the drying stage, so it was definitely worth doing the second round. The fast-climbing Blue Shackamaxon beans were looking great and had flowers on them, but a -2degC frost was too much for them. I will have to plant them sooner to get a second crop. In contrast, some of the slow-and-steady Selugia beans from the original spring planting were still producing their last few beans when the frost got them. They have such different growth habits!

Despite the rampant weediness of the garden, I am appreciating the pretty things. So here are some pretty plants in the garden from last month.

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