Thursday, April 05, 2012


While wasting time doing "research" on Pinterest the other day, I came upon this picture of a homemade travel watercolor kit made from a mint tin, and remembered I never put up any pictures of the one that I made myself. The one above is from the blog One Golden Apple, and if I had it to do over again, I'd probably make the pans in a way more similar to the way she did hers. She pressed them into the polymer clay with the end of a tube of lip balm, while I layered thin strips of PC (with much trial and error) to make mine. And then I ended up carving out notches in mine anyway so I could fit my travel brush inside. It's always the way.

I covered the outside of mine with more PC, and fancied it up with stamped PC, faux silver leaf, and a little acrylic paint antiquing. It could use another coat of clear acrylic because the leaf is flaking in places, and I may even do that someday.

Seriously, I could look at pictures of paintboxes and other art supplies all day. That's why I always end up buying tons of crap I hardly ever use. At least I do keep my small collection of vintage paintboxes out for display, so I can see the colors.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

When Life Gives You Dandelions

Been making jelly out of wildflowers, because really, if I don't, who will? That's how I roll.
First I made dandelion jelly, because I saw a blog post on dandelion macarons, and as usual I was seduced by the lovely photography. And there was a recipe for the jelly, which seemed pretty straightforward, so what the hell.

I picked a bunch of dandelions.

I pulled off all the green stuff (the calyxes? I think so.) Mildly tedious, but I was sitting on the front porch on a beautiful spring day, so that was nice.

Then I steeped the flowers in boiling water for around 10 minutes, added sugar, lemon juice, and pectin, and let it cook down for about 700 hours, maybe a little less. Poured it into sterilized jars, and after all that ended up with 3 whole quarter pints, huzzah!

And it's not bad. It mostly tastes like lemon juice and sugar, with a certain je ne sais quoi. It's fine.

Since I had a lot of dandelions left over, I thought I'd try this recipe  for dandelion quick bread, and it wasn't bad either. Pretty much like any quick bread that doesn't have fruit or nuts or anything else more interesting in it. Toasted with the dandelion jelly it was quite acceptable, but I doubt I'd bother again. I didn't take any pictures of it, just couldn't be arsed. 

We had plenty of violets too, and they're one of my favorite flowers, even if some people think they're a weed. I don't care, I think they're beautiful, and I like violet flavored things, so again, what the hell. Picked a bunch of violets, etc, and used the same recipe I used for the dandelions.

That turned out much better, if rather faintly flavored. Your common violet just doesn't have as much scent or taste as viola odorata, which is what I understand most commercial products use. I tried growing some years ago, but they never came to anything. If I ever see any plants or seeds I'll have to try again.

I added a little creme de violette to bump up the taste a little, and 700 hours later (give or take), violet jelly! 
(I could say "Viola!" as many people seem to think "voila" is spelled, but I'll restrain myself.)

And thus, dandelion and violet jelly. A pleasant little experiment. You could try it. It's fine. (Although I did just have a rather more exciting idea of making hibiscus jelly using dried hibiscus infusion, which could be a very good thing. Or regular tea, maybe Earl Grey....)