Summerdays: DIY Fabric Pinboards

let your imagination free

let your imagination free

Inspired by the new trend in the fabric art department, I’d like to share how to make your own fabric covered bulletin pinboards. I can’t help to fall in love with how easy and versatile these can be. These fabric covered pinboards retail from under $10 to as high as over $100. But what’s better than custom-made: something that really speaks your own personality out loud? Because these pinboards come in all shapes can sizes, and you can choose any pattern your heart desires to fit your style, I can’t think of any DIY project that is as simple and functional as these boards.

Instead of boring you to death with me rumbling on my affection towards pinboards, let’s get started 🙂

To demonstrate, I went for the easiest way possible with no measurement and cutting required.  I got a 12” by 12” piece of corkboard. For the fabric cover, I simply got several pieces of fat quarters from my local fabric store. Have you heard of fat quarters before? The name “fat quarter” amuses me: how can a piece of fabric be fat? Fat quarters are basics pieces of square fabrics that runs about 20”on each side (or 50cm). They are actually used a lot in quilting. For this particular project, I don’t recommend using fat quarters to cover larger boards because we want to leave enough fabric to be secured onto the backside of the board. The materials you need for this project is very simple:

-2 Essential materials:

  • Fat quarters
  • 12” by 12” Corkboards

-Optional materials:

  • Pins
  • Ribbons
  • Jewels (not the real ones that cost a fortune…)

-1 Essential tool:

  • Stapler

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Step 1: Wrap the fabric around the corkboard and fold them towards the backside of the board

Step 2: Staple to secure the fabric to the backside of the board

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This is what you are going to end up with if you decide to keep your design simple. I went for the “ombre” effect starting from the deep magenta to baby pink (left to right), and I also had lots of fun picking out the mishmash prints.

If you want to add ribbon matrix to your pinboards, please continue from here:

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Step 3: Wrap pieces of ribbon that cuts diagonally across the boards and staple them to the backside. Don’t worry about being perfect because all of it it’s going to be hidden once you flip the boards over.

Step 4: Secure the intersections with pins. You can unleash your creativity with the pins. I don’t have enough material so I snipped the ends off some of my dress-making pins and use their heads (doesn’t this sounds horrifying?). I think it looks quite cute~DSC00006

Alternatively, I also experimented with hot glue gun to attach pieces of crystals I found in the dollarstore to some thumbtack nails to give the boards a more glamed effect.

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To install these cuties on your wall, simply pin a piece of ribbon to the backside of these boards and display anywhere in your lovely homes! 🙂

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Hope you enjoy this little project and having fun during the process.

By the way, I would also like to share this feature on my new camera: it turns a regular photo into digital paintings. Isn’t it fun?

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Sick days…How do I get better sooner?

It’s always fun to be sick 🙂 Not really 😦 I was feeling very sick for the past few days and now I’m finally getting better so I’d like to share some tips and tricks that has helped met get over with this nasty cold.

First,

love is the best medication in the world~

love is the best medication in the world~

One of my biggest fear is to feel alone when I’m sick. It’s good to know that I have friends and family who care about me and want me to get better soon. Just by thinking of them makes me feel a lot better. Although they might not be physically by my side every minute, I still feel their love is surrounding me no matter how terrible I felt.

weapons against a nasty cold

weapons against a nasty cold

Second, there are some little things I keep on hand for those sick days.

1. Keep hydrated is so important. It can be anything from plain water to a warm cup of decaffeinated tea. My current favourite is Ginger Peach, because I love its warming effect when it sets in my stomach and it turns into this lavender colour when I add milk (like this blog if you pay attention to tea colours, too!)

2. 8 out of 10 time I’d been sick I would lose my voice. Bentasil in the blackcurrent flavour is my favourite throat candy. It’s so yummy and it contains no sugar 🙂

3. Mom always nags me to take my Cold-Fx when I’m showing symptoms of cold. The formula contains natural herbs to help boost the immune system without the bad side effects.

image-14. While remembering to keep hydrated, Vitamin C is another secret weapon. Large amount of Vitamin C from natural sources, such as citrus fruits are proven to decrease symptoms of cold.  Other good sources of vitamin C are: fruits from the citrus family, kiwi, mango, pineapple, tomatoes (especially love those bite-size grape tomatoes).

image-25.  Warm soup to give you the energy you need to fight with the cold. There’s something soothing about having a big bowl of chicken noodle soup . When warmth hits my stomach, it makes me feel like I will get over with this nasty cold in no time. I always lose my appetite while I’m sick but a little bit of carb, such as bite-size crackers to go with the soup can also help with the energy level.

Hope my tips are going to be helpful to arm you against those train-wreck feeling days…It’s always important to keep up with your activity level, so your immune system can stay strong to protect you against those bad germs.

Take care and stay healthy 🙂

Summerdays: Easy Jam-Making for Beginners

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As we roll into the peak of the summer season, all kinds of berries have also ripened to their sweetest. One of my favorite summer activities is to preserve the juicy deliciousness into little jars. There’s something about homemade jam vs. store bought ones. It might be because I was fully engaged in the canning process which often results in berry stained hands and counter tops. I might also be the extra TLC I put into the jam makes it tastes especially good. Anyways, homemade jams are often lists as one of my must-do items on my summer to-do list. Unfortunately, I somehow have been putting off jam-making this year until I realize I am completely out of jam (which is one of our fridge essentials) for weeks. To re-motivate myself, I put myself on a jam-buying ban. Basically, I wasn’t allowing myself to buy any jam from stores until I make my own. I might sounds a little funny but you can tell how special I feel towards my own jam, haha. After a long jam-ban, I finally got into my canning project.

This is my 4th (maybe 5th) year of making my own jam and I would like to share some of my tips on making delicious preserves for you to enjoy months beyond the summer.

Since the first year of canning, I have refrained from investing into a set of canning equipment, mainly due to the concern of keeping too many “mono-taskers” around the house. But now I feel deeply regretful by doing so, because if I would have a large, deep pot, I can totally making more jam without worrying about putting them in the fridge. This is because the canning process usually allows the jam to stay shelf-stable for about one year. Do not be scared by the name “canners” because it’s not a high-tech machine (canning is an 200-yrs-old technology anyways!). All you need to look for is a large pot with a significant depth that allows you to cover your jars with at least 1 inch of water, while allowing space between the jars. By doing so, you are able to sterilize and seal your canning product so it can be kept safe without a refrigerator 🙂

Although the following tutorial is lacking the deep canning pot, it is still going to be helpful in demonstrating the canning process. Just by substituting the regular pot with a deeper canning pot, the shelf-life of these jams will grow up to one year. Jam that are made this way do have a very long life if keep refrigerated. My jams usually stay good for at least 3 months in the fridge. For beginners, following my this tutorial will give you a taste of canning, which will help you decide whether or not if you would like to invest further into other canning equipment.

Without further adieu, let’s get canning (did you get the pun?)

Recipe (yield six 1-cup jars):

8 CUPS                   Fresh or frozen berries

2 1/2 CUPS           Sugar

1 PKG (57 g)         Pectin crystals

1 TBSP                   Lemon juice

1 CUP                    Water, boiling temperature

Water to fill the canning pot equipment of your choice

Water to boil your jars

Step 1: First we are going to start with the berries, use fresh or frozen doesn’t matter because we are going to boil the jam later anyways.  Unpack your berries into a large sauce pot. You can use any kind of berry of your choice. We went blueberry-picking about several weeks ago. I found the best way to preserve my blueberries is to rinse off any twigs with cold water then blanch them with almost boiling hot water. Dry, portion, seal and then they can be keep frozen to be used up to a year. Blanched berries are able to retain more than half of their nutrients than unblanched ones.

Sealed freshness in little bags

Sealed freshness in little bags

Pour about 1 cup of boiling water over the frozen berries, this will help to defrost the berries. After the frozen berries are softened, mash them till they turn into a paste-like consistency. Then add a dash of lemon juice into the paste.

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In the meantime, save time by setting up your sterilizing station. Remove the screw bands from your canning jars and put the lid and the jars into a pot of water. Turn the heat up to med-high and them wait till the water turns to a rolling boil.

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set up your time-saver sterilizing station

set up your time-saver sterilizing station

Step 2: According to the recipe, mix approximately 1/4 of the sugar with pectin crystals and put this mixture into the berry paste, turn up the heat to med-high and bring the mixture to a boil. Stir constantly.The sugar will help draw out the liquid from the fruit with reduce chance of scorching.

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Add the remaining sugar and bring to a boil again, this second boil will make sure the jam is fully cooked, free from bacteria and deactivate any enzymes. Reduce to a simmer and stir constant to prevent the jam from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Skim off any foam that has built-up on the surface.

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Step 3: After your canning jars has been boiling for over 5 min, remove them from the pot to dry completely. Ladle your jam into your sterilized & dried jars, leaving about 1/4 inch (5mm) head space. The head space will allow the jam to further expand during the canning process without exploding the canning jars.

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Step 4: Put the jam jars back to boiling water (note that the real canning process require the water to immerse over the jars) and boil for the time required for your altitude. I boiled mine for 20 min just to be safe. Remove from boiling water and let cool in room temperature for at least overnight.

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Hours later, test the seal by pressing the centre of the jar lids. Sealed lids should not bounce when pressure is applied.

Thank you for coming along with me and happy canning 🙂 Comments below if you want to see more canning projects or if you have any questions or suggestions~

Product Info:

Mason jars, no name pectin crystals from superstore

References:

New CookBook 15th Edition (pg 197-220), The Good Housekeeping Cookbook (pg 512-535)