My Free Patterns

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


I've just spent a few hours canning baked beans in my pressure canner.  I learned to can from my Grandma, wonderful woman that she is, and we spent a fun summer putting all sorts of things in jars.  I started canning beans mainly to cut down on sodium, and because sometimes it is hard to find a certain type of bean (like black).

Canning baked beans started when we lived in the United States, and we couldn't find British style baked beans anywhere.  If you don't know the type I mean, they are small white beans smothered in a lovely tomato sauce.  Not sweet at all like most of the American baked beans.  I had purchased this book Fix-It and Forget-It for recipes to use in my slow cooker.  Let me just say, the book is useless.  I am not a person that likes to open tin after tin, dumping them in the slow cooker and calling that dinner.  So most of the recipes are just no good to me.  Except one.  The sole reason I keep the book on the shelf is page 203, From-Scratch Baked Beans.  The recipe is credited to Wanda Roth, from Napoleon, OH, and she has got it just right!  I double the recipe, tweak it a bit, and then can it.  Here is what I do:

     From Scratch Baked Beans
     5 cups Great Northern dried beans (2, 500g bags)
     8 cups water
     3 cups tomato sauce (passata)
     2 tbs brown sugar
     3 tsp salt
     1 onion (med-large), chopped
     1 tsp chili powder
     dash of cayenne pepper

Combine beans and water in slow cooker and cook overnight or 8 hours.  I always do this at night so I can can them in the morning.  If you don't want to can, the next step is adding the remaining ingredients and cooking for another 6 hours.  If you want to can, add the other ingredients and then prepare your jars.  I usually get 9 pint jars from this recipe.  Can according to your pressure canners instructions.  For me it is 10psi for 75 minutes.  Viola!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Time to sew

I'll admit I've been obsessed with knitting for a while now.  I've started knitting for a charity called KASCare,
knitting up blanket squares, hats, and pullovers.  These are then sent to South Africa for children in need, often orphaned by AIDS.
toddler pullover and hat

So while I've been doing my part to keep children warm, I've neglected my sewing machine these past few months.

I am sure most parents would agree, but it really seems my kids grow at an exponential rate.  They are 4 1/2 years old, but already wearing trousers for age 5-6. They have long legs, and they just keep getting longer.  I was trying to figure out a cheap way to keep them in trousers, which they will only get covered in paint, glitter, and glue at nursery.  I find it hard to spend a lot of money on trousers only to have them covered in stains in a week.

Then it hit me--I've got a huge pile of fabric thanks to my wonderful Grandma and Mom, I can make them skirts.  So off I went to buy them some tights, as it is getting cold here in Scotland, and today I started on the skirts.

Rori modelling a skirt

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Crofters Pie

After just having dinner, I had to write about this.  A few years ago I started messing about with a Shepard's Pie recipe, and now I've pretty much perfected it.  My husband and I renamed it Crofter's Pie, in the hopes that one day we will actually be crofters.  

Today we took the kids and Granny to see Disney on Ice.  It was a very good time, but knowing that we would get home late, I made dinner before we left.  I cooked the Crofter's Pie, then just left it in the oven for when we got home.  A few minutes in the microwave and we were good to go.  I don't think it has ever tasted so good.

Crofters Pie
3 large potatoes
2 tbs butter
1/4 cup milk

1 lb ground beef (or turkey, pork, lamb, I've used them all)
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
I large carrot either grated for diced
2-3 large mushrooms (more if you love them)
1/4-1/2 cup frozen peas 
a couple of sprigs fresh thyme or 1/4 tsp dried
a beef bullion cube
1 tbs flour
black pepper to taste

1) Boil potatoes until tender.  Mash with butter and milk.  Maybe now is a good time to say I don't believe in peeling potatoes.  Who has the time, or in the inclination?  Just scrub them really well and off you go.
 2) While the potatoes are boiling saute onion, meat, garlic, carrots and mushrooms all together.  I find you don't need to add oil because of the fat in the meat.  Add pepper and thyme and peas.

3) When the meat is done, if there is a lot of fat you can drain in, then dissolve the bullion in a bit of hot water (say, 1/4 cup) and mix that into the meat mixture.  Add the flour to thicken a bit, and give it a good stir.
4)  Transfer meat mixture to a casserole or deep pie pan.  Spread mashed potatoes over meat.  At this stage my Mom would put cheese on the top, knock yourself out if you want to as well.

5)  Bake at 375F, 190C for 30 minutes or until potatoes are lightly browned.
Ready to eat!

Saturday, September 11, 2010


Yesterday evening Isla and Rori helped me pick blueberries in the garden.  Now, we've only got one plant, and it is a miniature at that, in a container, but we are getting loads of blueberries this year. I guess pruning it properly for the first time last winter paid off.  Next up, raspberries! 


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Baby hat

I love knitting.  My sister has told me that I am the oldest 32 year old she knows, but I can't help myself. There is something wonderful about creating things with your hands.  I also like to sew and cross stitch, but right now knitting is my thing!

Hats are great projects because they are relatively fast, and you can complete a project within a day or two (or three or four, depending).

It seems just lately a lot of friends are expecting babies, so I thought I should get started now on baby hats.  Ok, truth be told, I just wanted to try this pattern.  The above picture is the latest one I have finished, and I love it.  It was a free pattern I got from It is called Ripple Eyelet hat, and I think it turned out very well.
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