In Memory of a Sister-In-Law

I was 19 when I married into my hubby’s family. I went from zero sisters to 5. Let me tell you that was some kind of change. I had never had any sisters, just one brother. I wasn’t exactly sure how to handle being enveloped by a large family.

But I was never made to feel like an outsider. I was treated as if I had been part of the family my whole life.

Jean was my oldest “sister”. She always had a smile and a hug for me. She treated me, a stranger, with love and kindness and patience.

She had a great sense of humor too. She was always laughing at something and it was contagious. She made me feel good just to be around her.

And she raised her children with the same kind of love, kindness and patience. It is evident in the adults they have become.

Jean, I miss you and will always remember you with love in my heart. Heaven scored when they got you.

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How to Care for Handknit Wool Items

Christmas is just a couple of days away. Perhaps your sister-in-law, or mother-in-law, granny, mom or aunt thought you were special enough to knit/crochet something for this year.

First, let me say handmade/homemade is NOT cheap. Your relatives/friends are not trying to slide by on the cheap side by knitting/crocheting gifts. A skein of yarn, whether it is acrylic or Merino wool, can cost from $6 to $50+++ per skein and it will take at least 2 skeins to make a gift. Now add in the time spent to create said items and multiply by at least minimum wage. There, got it? Not cheap, is it.

Now, that being said, lets get to the care of said knitted/crocheted item. If it is acrylic, more than likely it is machine washable and dryable. Great for kids’ items.

If it is wool, or any other natural fiber, care is a little more involved. Most will involve washing by hand. This does not mean you take the item and scrub it against an old washboard. That will just cause the item to felt and shrink enough to fit your youngest child. What that means is to SOAK the item in warm, soapy water. Then rinse in cool water. Gently squeeze the water out. Roll item in a towel to remove more water. Then lay the item on a flat surface, shaping as you go, and allow the item to dry. This will take a day or two.

Granted this is a little time consuming, especially in our society where most folks want instant gratification. But keep in mind your relative/friend felt that you were knit/crochet worthy and felt in their hearts that you would take care of the item that took them hours to create.

I can guarantee you if you don’t take care of said item, you will be OFF their knit/crochet worthy list.

Merry Christmas!

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DIY….Extracts!

Most folks don’t think about extracts unless they are baking something. And if you’re out, you just run down to your local grocers and buy some. You pick up that cute little bottle of extract made by that well known spice company for about $3 to $4 per bottle. Or, if you’re into organic, you pick the one that is $11 or more $ per bottle.

But have you REALLY looked at how much you are getting for your money? I mean REALLY looked! ONE OUNCE! Let’s look at it differently. Most recipes call for 1 teaspoon of extract per batch. You are getting only 6 teaspoons for that ounce of extract that you paid anywhere from $3 to $11+++ for.

Why are you doing that when you can make it yourself??

First you need Vodka or Bourbon or other liquor that is at least 40% alcohol. Not top shelf, just the cheap stuff. A liter bottle may cost you $10 to $15 dollars. You will need 5 grade B chopped Vanilla beans(about $0.45 each, less if bought in bulk), or the zest of 1 lemon + a Tablespoon of sugar, or the zest of an orange, a handful of chopped raw almonds, etc. per Cup of liquor. Use some Mason jars and pour your liquor into the jar. Add your Vanilla beans or lemon zest or almonds, etc. For the next 2 months, give that jar(s) a shake daily. After 2 months or longer if you wish, you have your extract of choice. Just filter it through a coffee filter or cheesecloth to remove the solid particles and pour into jars (decorative if you wish) and store in a dark place.

Lets do some more math. You initial outlay will be anywhere from $25-$35 dollars for about 4.25 cups of extract or about $1 per ounce. That is, if you are using a liter bottle of liquor. So that liter bottle will make 33.8 ounces of extract. Multiply the 33 x $3 = $99 or 33 x $11 = $363. Now subtract your total cost to make that same amount, you will be saving $65 to $300+.

And it makes great gifts for that person you know who loves to bake.

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