July 31, 2011

Blackberry Breakfast Bars

First of all I have to say that blackberries are one of the most beautiful berries. Their color alone is scrumptious! Just look at how the light dances and glistens on each plump, juicy delight. Yummy!

I want to share three of my favorite blackberry recipes with you. The first one I'll be featuring is a breakfast bar that makes you feel like you're being healthy when baking. wink wink~

We made a trip to our local pick-your-own farm. The sky was sublime that day and I managed to get a quick shot of my kids running towards the blackberry patch.

It was a cooler day than usual here in VA, only reaching the high 80s. So to me it was a perfect day to pick berries and my son was in agreement. He had his eye set on the prize thinking about all the desserts I would make using these pretty black beauties. We picked all the ripe berries we found. I believe the following weekend was going to be a blackberry lovers dream. I think all those unripe berries in the photo would be just perfect in about a week.

And without further ado here is the Blackberry Breakfast Bar recipe:

For the base and topping you will need:
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup quick cooking rolled oats
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
½ cup butter melted

In a mixing bowl stir together flour, oats, brown sugar, ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, and baking soda. Stir in melted butter till thoroughly combined. Set aside 1 cup of the oat mixture for topping. Press remaining oat mixture into an ungreased 9x9x2-inch pan. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes.

You see I had a fabulous little baking assistant. I hope you have an assistant of your own while making these bars. My "Wee One" really enjoyed packing down the oat mixture.

Now mix up the following in a saucepan for the filling:
2 cups fresh or frozen blackberries
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

In a medium saucepan combine berries, sugar, water, lemon juice and ½ teaspoon cinnamon. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for about 8-10 minutes or till slightly thickened, stirring frequently. Remove from heat.

Carefully spread filling on top of baked crust. Sprinkle with reserved oat mixture. Lightly press oat mixture into filling. Bake in the 350-degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes more or till topping is set. Cool in pan on a wire rack. Cut into bars.

For the finale...

A yummy bar, with low sugar content, that tastes way better than any granola bar you can buy in the grocery store.

Give this recipe a try. You won't be disappointed.
(To give credit where credit is due you can find the original recipe here.)

Thanks for stopping by Blue Sky Confections!

Jenny K.

p.s. I'll try to share my other two favorites in the next couple weeks.

July 29, 2011

Market Materials & A Bit of Branding

You can see I also freshened up my blog header.
I recently bit the bullet and designed a "Market Banner" and some calling cards for my new handmade business & Etsy Shop. I decided that I would participate in a local farmers market that takes place the 2nd Saturday of each month through September. If you know me I'm an all or nothing kinda girl. I wish it wasn't so but it is what it is or I should say, "I am what I am so I embrace it".

The banner will have pole pockets and I hope to string some jute rope through the top and hang it at the front of my tent. The white triangle at the bottom of the banner & card are still an option for me at this point. I may cut that portion out to give them a bit more pizazz. I'll make that decision when I get my package. I'm hoping this vertical banner will create some visual interest for me. I've also got several other presentation ideas up my sleeve. Now I just need to find the time to pull it all off.

If you, or someone you know, are in need of a great banner or calling cards let me know. I've got a fab vendor that I use and if I do the design work for you I'll pass along the print savings. If you've got questions about my graphic design abilities visit my design site and check out the kinds of things I've done throughout the years. Lots of experience under my belt.

Thanks for stopping by Blue Sky Confections!

Jenny K.

July 26, 2011

Back To My Regularly Scheduled Lineup

Family Roadtrip 2011 Campfire, Fireworks & Boating

My son could not wait for this very occasion. A campfire that Grandpa built. We told him that we would roast marshmallows around a campfire. We did... but on a different night. On the 4th of July we had a campfire without smores. We had ice cream bars that my sister & brother-in-law purchased as a sweet treat for the kids. However, the adults enjoyed them just as much, maybe even more.

Then there were the fireworks that Grandma bought and Grandpa set off. Can you see my dad and brother-in-law walking briskly away from the sparks? I would have been running. What am I talking about? I'd never light those things.

Boating the Chain of Lakes in Eagle River, Wisconsin was a lot of fun despite the fact that our pontoon boat rental kept dieing out. (we ended up getting it for free because of all the headache) We watched my sister and her husband buzz circles around us in the speed boat. The older kids got to go tubing while the little ones hung out on the pontoon snacking away. I did manage to get a great photo of my parents in the captain's seat. Great looking couple, don't ya' think? My mom bought herself and my sister and I hats for this very occasion. Mine is a salmon pink. Sorry no photo's. I'm always the one behind the camera. Doesn't my sister look adorable in her little hat with her nautical striped shirt?

The handsome hubby looks happy chilling on the boat deck and the little ones are really enjoying the sights. My son got in the water for a split second then decided that the lake was much to cold. He then had his cousins & sister hand him clams that they were grabbing from the bottom of the lake with their toes.

We stopped the boat in a shallow area and everyone that wanted to swim could. My wee one fell asleep so she didn't get a chance. The little girls sure liked the hats Grandma bought.

If you happen to visit Northern Wisconsin, a day on the Chain of Lakes is well worth your time.

Still more vacation photo's to come.

Thanks for stopping by Blue Sky Confections!

Jenny K.

July 19, 2011

Tomato Harvest

I interrupt the previously scheduled vacation photo lineup to bring to you...
Caprese Salad
Using some lovely heirloom tomatoes I recently harvested from my garden, coupled with sweet basil I started from seed, I made this mouth watering Caprese Salad. The basil is so fragrant and sweet I could have eaten the entire platter myself. A gourmet meal, perfect in every way. (at least for a girl)

This is so easy to make, simply layer sliced tomato, large leaf sweet basil and fresh mozzarella. Drizzle with olive oil, salt & pepper and serve at room temperature.

Pictured above: Purple Cherokee, Brandypink, Giant Oxheart, Roma & Tomaccio.

So far I've made two large batches of salsa which the kids devoured without hesitation. I need to decide what to do with this batch of tomatoes. I wanted to can but I'm nervous I'll ruin an entire batch of tomatoes and that would be so wasteful. A fellow gardener suggested freezing them. That makes me nervous as well. Homemade sauce may make it to the top of the list and then freeze that. Anyone out there with experience canning have any great tips?

Pictured Above: Tomaccio & Chocolate Cherry.

The Tomaccio are supposed to be a specialty tomato best when sun dried. They're wonderfully sweet and I think work well in a salad. I may try my hand at sun drying. That was my original plan but I'm hesitant to try something new right now. My plate is really full. No pun intended.

Thanks for stopping by Blue Sky Confections!

Jenny K.

July 18, 2011

Photo Session

Family Road Trip 2011 - Part 2

Aren't these some of the cutest kids you've ever seen? I have to say they were pretty good sports considering the mosquitoes were out in FULL FORCE! My oldest daughter wore a store bought outfit. I ran out of time and didn't get a chance to make her anything. She's growing up fast and she is so beautiful. My littlest nephew looks adorable in his over sized outfit. An absolute doll with that red hair and those chubby cheeks!

This is a small snippet of our trip but I took a lot of photo's trying my best to get the PERFECT shot and I never quite succeeded. However, I will cherish these photo's of the cousin's together. (one was missing)

I managed to photograph all seven on the swing under the apple tree. Of course my wee one was not clothed. She refused to wear her dress. All that work and no dress.

My oldest nephew is quite a handsome young man. Gotta love the Justin Beiber 'do.

My baby brothers three kids side by side. I love their expressions. The oldest is looking at me like, "you've got to be kidding, more pictures?" The younger two must be watching my daughter throw her pull up at me and then run around to the other side of the house to show daddy.

This is why I could never be a photographer. Who wants pull-ups thrown at them? LOL

Thanks for stopping by Blue Sky Confections!

Jenny K.

July 14, 2011

Family Road Trip 2011

Part 1
The Great Lakes are such a treasure and the Mackinac Bridge is an amazing architectural fete. A must see if you get the chance to travel to this part of the country. The summer weather is perfect and the natural resources are abundant. We made sure to stop at the lookout on the Upper Peninsula side of the bridge after crossing. The kids had a great time playing in the cold, cold water. They got soaked and we had to do a clothing change before hitting the road on our way to Grandpa and Grandma's house.

Don't ya just love a Small Town USA 4th of July Parade?!? I do! My camera battery went dead half way through so I missed a lot of good stuff. Our oldest daughter was with my brother and his family but our two youngest stocked up on their candy supply. We must have been standing in the perfect spot because sissy didn't get any candy.

After the parade and before our cookout and fireworks the kids had fun with a frog they found in Grandma's garden. They had a blast on the slip-n-slide set up on the backyard hillside and my son got a ride on Grandpa's six wheeler. Definitely can't have one of those where we live right now.

I grew up in a kids paradise and I'm glad my children got to experience a little bit of the country life.
Thank you Grandma and Grandpa for being so hospitable.

Thanks for stopping by Blue Sky Confections!!!

Jenny K.

July 12, 2011

A Collection of Sorts

I'm back! I went missing for a while. My family and I took a trip to the Northwoods to visit parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews and to deliver some handmade gifts. We had a great time over the July 4th holiday with campfires, fireworks, boating and eating. Lots of eating. I think I gained about 10 lbs. Yikes!

A few weeks ago I blogged about a dress that I made for my youngest daughter. I also stated that I had challenged myself to make a small collection. Now this collection wouldn't pass Heidi Klum's test but I happen to be pleased with my first time efforts.

I used the same fabrics to create each ensemble. This is a sz 3-4 pant set made for one of my nieces using the chambray denim for the pants with a floral, linen, ruffle at the base.

This is the set that I made for my son. I love these shorts with the cargo pockets and the cuffed, button-up leg. I found a great white and black pinstripe linen to coordinate with the floral pattern. I purchased a simple white "t-shirt" for each of the boys and embellished them with their first initials using a zig-zag stitch. The key to getting a nice sharp cut letter is fusible bonding. It makes the fabric nice and stiff and easy to cut and sew. I used Pellon Craft Fuse.

I made this sz. 3-4 short set for another one of my nieces, trimming out the top with the linen stripe and trying my hand at smocking. Smocking, while a simple concept will take me a few more sewing projects using the technique to master the skill.

I created this paper bag skirt for my youngest brothers, oldest daughter. That's a moutful! I didn't use elastic so the belt loops and the tie around the waste are the only thing to hold this little number up. I also made use of the salvage edge on the denim. I love the fray. To pull a style like this off I believe you have to be rail thin and my niece wore it well!

This little outfit was made for the youngest of the nieces and nephews on my families side. Same concept as the first boys ensemble in this post but the button-up tab is striped linen rather than denim and it is of course a smaller size.

Here are some of the children in their outfits. My youngest daughter refused to wear her dress and be photographed and one of my nieces was not at the gathering.

I had visions of splendor with children frolicking in the hay field wearing their handmade clothing and letting me photograph them with great big smiles. The sleep deprived children had other ideas and between being viciously attacked by mosquitoes and dogs running in and out of the picture this is the best that I was able to capture.

Despite my failure to get the creme de la creme photo my nieces, nephews and my own children are B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L and they wore their outfits well!!! Don't ya think?

I'll have to do a post on our Northwoods trip very soon until then...

Thanks for stopping by Blue Sky Confections. I'm glad to be back!!!

Jenny K.
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