Strawberry Vanilla Bean Jam

There are few things that taste more like spring than fresh strawberry jam.  I've made my own jams since I was a young momma because they were so easy to make, and always tasted amazing on fresh bread.  The two things I would make when I needed a lift, bread and jam!  Well, if you have followed me long, you know I've been on a Sourdough bread journey since January and when the last batch was proofing, I opened my fridge and took out two baskets of strawberries, and go to washing. 

It was just two baskets of store bought berries, and it took less than 10 minutes to wash and lop off the green leaves, quarter and place in a medium stockpot.  I added a cup of water and two cups of sugar, turned on the heat to medium high and gave them a stir. 

Just look how bright they are.  After they were cooking for a few minutes, I thought about the Vanilla Sugar I made a in January and wondered how adding fresh vanilla sugar and a bean or two would make the strawberries taste.  Curiosity always wins, right?  

I opened the jar of Vanilla Sugar and felt like I was floating, it was so fragrant and light.  I added a cup of the vanilla sugar to the pot and pulled out two vanilla beans.   To make your own Vanilla Sugar take some real vanilla beans and press down the down into the center of a jar of granulated sugar, top with a lid and store for 6 to 8 weeks.  It's the perfect way to have a little extra vanilla in anything you use sugar with.  

The pot of strawberries kept at a low boil for about 20 minutes.  Meanwhile I stirred it a few times and watched it thicken slightly.  After 20 minutes, I took it off the heat and poured it into a jar and placed it in the refrigerator to cool.  

As it cools, it thickened to jam consistency and I got my sourdough out to slice and toast.  I couldn't wait, and called Mike in from the shop to enjoy a yum moment with me.  He loves warm, fresh sourdough as much as I do and even more, homemade jam.  I didn't tell him that the it was infused with real vanilla.  

We both were shocked at how amazing this jam was with that little hint of vanilla.  It was the best we have ever had.  In the past few weeks we have been enjoying it on sourdough toast with a shear of ricotta cheese and a spoonful of the Strawberry Vanilla Bean Jam.  We've shared it with friends for late night desert and one of them, said it tastes like a cheese cake.  I agree!  It is amazing.  

To recap this simple recipe...

Strawberry Vanilla Bean Jam

2 Quarts of Fresh Strawberries
2 Cups Granulated Sugar
1 Cup of Water
1 Cup of Vanilla Sugar
2 Whole Vanilla Beans

Place cleaned, hulled and sliced strawberries in a medium sauce pan on medium heat.  Add water, sugar, vanilla sugar and vanilla beans and heat, stirring occasionally for 20 to 30 minutes.  Take off heat and let cool.  Pour into jars and place in refrigerator with lid to cool completely.  Jam will thicken more as it cools.  

Jam will keep for 2 weeks in fridge or 3 months in freezer.

I hope you enjoy this little change up in your Strawberry Jam experience.  Add the vanilla and turn every bite in spring heaven on toast.  xo

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Flora Angels

Angels Among Us was one of our very first collaborations when I married my husband and learned that he knew how to use tools.  I had been designing and stitching angels for the years that I was a single mom, stitching in the evenings after work at the mortgage company.  In fact, my very fist embroidery pattern that sold was a garden angel with the saying Whatsoever Ye Sow, So Shall Ye Reap.  I think I needed all the angels I could keep around me.  

After our angels were published in several national publications and shared on a few home networks, we set them aside for other projects.  These sweet angels keep making their way back to our worktables and now we have added our Flora Angel to the collection of angels in our online shop.

Our Flora Angel is a sweet minimalist angel made from wood and wire.  Her cedar wood basket is stained and filled with bright wool flowers to welcome the garden's most beautiful guests.  

This year, we have also added the option to purchase kits to make your own Flora Angel.  The kits include the wood cut out pieces, wire for the halo and basket handle, and wool to make your own flowers for her basket.  We are so excited to offer these kits so that you can create a little joy for yourself in making your own angel.  It's like sharing the creative happiness with you!

Today I will be filming a tutorial for how to make a Flora Angel from our kit as well as how to make the felt flowers in her basket.  You will be able to find the video on our Tweetle Dee YouTube Channel.  We hope you enjoy making these beautiful angels with us.  They are the sweetest and so are you!  Have a wonderful day.  

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Indian Paint Brush Wilde Bloem Embroidery

Of all the flowers that grow in the wild, the Indian Paintbrush makes my heart jump every time I'm blessed to find one.  This wild flower grows in the west among  dry, rocky soil and is found in the wild fields in the east, both places I have called home in my life.  It symbolizes the Wayfinder or following your own path, which is my "word" and has a deep connection to my soul.  

Wild Bloem Indian Paintbrush Embroidery 

This month we painted the Indian Paintbrush Barn Quilt as part of the Wild Bloem Collection, our 2023 Block of the Month.  I am more in love with this collection of wildflowers everyday as I stitch and paint these 9 wildflowers and of course the Wild Bloem Bee.  

There is something so vintage about simple embroidery done on black and our Wild Bloem embroidery florals are stunning stitched alone or in the Wild Bloem Hoop.  This week we released the WB Indian Paintbrush Embroidery Kit so that you can stitch along with me on Instagram @tweetledeedesignco or our Tweetle Dee YouTube Channel.

Wild Bloem Indian Paintbrush Embroidery Kit

The kit includes the Indian Paintbrush Embroidery Pattern, fabric, hoop, thread, needle, and scissors to make your own Wayfinder.  The frames are also sold in the shop.  We hope you join us this year as we paint, quilt and embroider the Wilde Bloem Collection.  It was designed from the heart and I know you will feel the love with each of these beautiful florals.  

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Mountain Maple Syrup

At the end of the winter season as the days get longer and the temps get a tad bit warmer, the sap in the maples begins to run.  One of my most fond childhood memories was walking the woods to check maple sap buckets with my Grandpa Lyke.  He would sneak a little cup for me and let me drink the sap and with a twinkle in his eye, remind me not to tell Grandma. 

Our First Maple Syrup Bucket

I didn't understand how valuable that clear sap was until now.  Our community in Woodland Hills, Utah is experimenting with tapping the Bigtooth Maples on our mountain to make maple syrup.  A few families have been doing it the past couple of years, and we had the pleasure of watching their operation.  So, Mike and I decided to try making some from the trees in our yard.  

Grandpa and Grandma Lyke Hugging a Very Old Maple in the Woods

Our first step was to identify the Maples on our 1 acre property.  We found four and a few little ones trying to grow in the Scrub Oak Stands.  The two biggest are two of the prettiest in our back yard, near the chicken coops.  When we moved here 13 years ago, they were just tiny things, but every year they get a little taller and their leaves turn flaming red.   I have photographed them every year in the fall and hope someday to replicate my grandparent's picture with my sweetheart. 

The Sugar Shack

A few years ago we visited the Sugar Shack down in the woods on the farm that my cousin and her family live on and got to see all the old Maple syrup making equipment as well as the new processes they began using to harvest the sap from the many, many trees in the NY woods around the farm.  I loved the patina on the old metal buckets and remember watching the sap drip out of the metal taps.  I know that the tubes and modern systems are way more efficient than the old ways, but for our little experiment and four trees, I ordered taps and buckets that looked like the old ones from the farm.   

The Tallest Bigtooth Maple Tree in our Yard

We have had a long and cold winter, so it took a little work to get out to the trees, but Mike was as excited as me to try making some syrup the old way.  Four taps, four buckets and four trees.  It has been a few weeks, and we have collected about five gallons of sap.  It's not much, but it is enough to start.

Maple Sap Boiling on the Stove

After filtering the sap to get out any "things", we got a huge pot and began the boiling process.  My Grandma sent me pictures years ago of the Maple burning party they had a long time ago.  I'll have to find them and share them with you.  Their were a lot of family around a big metal vat with wood fire burning under it.  Lots of kids and family with smiles.  

As we watched the sap boil on my stove, it made the air in our home smell sweet, and it brought all the memories back from my childhood.  Grandpa at the stove frying Fritters to dip in the dark syrup.  All of us littles would stuff our cheeks full of the fluffy pasties soaked in syrup and laugh and smile along with the old ones.  I love those memories of all of us together in that kitchen.  

Our First Bottle of Maple Syrup

Today, we bottled our first little bottle of Maple Syrup from our home on the mountain.  It took four gallons to get two of these bottles.  It was so sweet and good.  I licked the spoon, not daring to take a whole spoonful all to myself.  I'll save it for a special day when our grandbabies and children come home and we make Grandpa's Fritters (recipe in blog archive) for them all to enjoy together.  

If you follow me on Instagram, I will make a highlight bubble for the syrup making stuff and where we got our things.  I'll post the old pics as I find them, and the new ones of our family too.  I'm so happy for the four little trees on our property and the sweet fun we've had doing something new together.  It's was for sure a moment to celebrate!

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Castle Creek Furniture

Farmhouse furniture has been trending for a few years now, typically with white on white with minimal wood finishes.  Though the  exterior of the old farmhouse I grew up in was white with black shutters, the interior rooms were full of color.  The rooms all had wood, marble, crystal, and colored glass and furniture in the home had a story to tell.  

I've had this little breakfast table in my kitchen for many years, all white with white chairs, until this past week when I decided to paint it in one of my favorite Prairie Paint  colors, Castle Creek.

The inspiration for this deep green came from the colors I remember in an area of the woods adjacent to the family farm, aka The Woods.  After a hike over the corn field hill, through the woods, and along the slate gorge, you come to a small pond called Castle Creek.  It is surrounded by towering trees and vines, moss and a green field with an aged fishing shack complete with a little covered porch.  

On a recent visit to our local antique shop we found a set of black chairs from the 1870's for $100.  That find was the push I needed to paint my table dark, and I knew the best of our greens was Castle Creek.  So, we took our white chairs to the ReStore and dropped them off to go to another family and picked up our new antique chairs, threw a tarp down and sanded the top and rough spots of our white table. 

Then one coat with a furniture paint roller and a brush for the curvy parts, we let it dry and then added two more for good measure.  Let dry and then added a coat of our Prairie Paint Finishing Wax.

Our Prairie Paints Finishing Wax is made of bees wax and compounds that add  richness to our gel-chalk Prairie Paints and seal the wood and paint for years of beauty and use. 

We let it dry and then a light wipe of a soft cloth and it was ready to place these beautiful black chairs around our deeply moody breakfast table.  Putting them all together it was clear that they had belonged together all along, like two peas in a pod.  

The Prairie Paints we used were Castle Creek, and the finish is the Prairie Paints Finishing Wax.  Both of these are available on Our Shop.  We hope that this post inspires you to add a little color to your farmhouse.  We love ours and know that you will too.  

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Wilde Bloem Barn Quilt Collection

Our newest collection is so close to my heart and I am beyond excited to begin the introduction of Wilde Bloem.  With whispers from the meadows surrounding our beautiful farms, each block is a flower with a message.  We are so happy to focus on one flower and message the next nine months of 2023.  Introducing Wilde Bloem which translated in Dutch is Wildflower.

Wilde Bloem Barn Quilt Collection

Nine florals, a gathering vine and two adorable quilted bees come as kits to paint, sew or embroider together.  As we discussed which of our favorite wildflowers to add, and create quilt blocks for, we choose those that had messages of hope, belonging, community.  We hope you will join us this year to create Wilde Bloem meadows all over the country.

Wilde Bloem Bee Barn Quilt

In addition to the Wilde Bloem Barn Quilt Collection we will add individual blocks of these original designs for purchase to those who want them in larger sizes for outdoor sharing.   The first this month is the Wilde Bloem Bee Barn Quilt.  This singular bee was designed with beautiful wings to give flight and light.  The points of the stars shine in it's wings.  I am so very in love with this bee and I know my bee loving friends will be too.  It is available for order in five large sizes.  

You can find the growing collection of Wilde Bloem by going to The Shop.  The kits will include everything you need to paint a darling 12" Bloem Barn Quilt. We hope you will join us in celebrating, dream and creating a beautiful Wilde Bloem meadow of your own this year.  

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