Monday, March 28, 2011

Make-it-from-Scratch Monday: Raspberry Jam

Whew! It's been quite a few hectic days around here at Chez QT! I've been putting still more stuff up on Etsy, so check out the link at right and spread the word- I'd love to get this thing really going and sell a lot of vintage goodies!

I've also been spending a lot of time in the kitchen. I just realized that with warmer weather approaching (eventually!) I need to empty my freezer of all the roasts and cold weather-type things. So it may surprise you to note that this week's cooking feature is a most un-seasonable raspberry jam.

But there's a story in this (as always). I sometimes shop at a local discount grocery, the type that sells dented cans and opened cases of this and that. They often get the castoffs from the big grocery stores around here, and sometimes the bargains really can't be beat, as long as you're willing to do a little work.

Case in point- a few weeks ago they had 1 pound boxes of California raspberries at 50 cents a piece. Yes, you read that correctly- they usually run about $4.99. Problem was, they were starting to turn moldy. But I scooped up about 6 pounds of the best boxes. Once I went through them, there were very few berries that were completely unsalvageable, and the rest went into the freezer for this project.

Sometimes when I make jam I do not have enough of one kind of berries (5 pounds of anything out of season can be $$) so I make a mixed batch with some strawberries, blueberries and cherries- the recipe is the same.

I also really like the Ball No Sugar Needed Fruit Pectin, because I do not have to add copius amounts of sugar to get it to jell. I follow a diabetic diet, so I love anything that does not require additional sugar. But if you like you could add some sugar- I would say no more than 1 cup would yield a sweeter jam.

Raspberry Jam


about 5 pounds raspberries, crushed (about 8 cups)
1 cup unsweetened apple juice
1 package Ball No Sugar Needed Fruit Pectin
0 to 1 c. sugar according to your taste.

6 to 8 pint canning jars, bands and lids, sterilized and hot. I run my jars and bands through the dishwasher, at the same time my canner is heating up. I keep the clean lids in a cup of hot water I take out of the canner.

First, bring 2-3 gallons of water in your canner to a boil. This may take as long as an hour.

Meanwhile prepare the jam.

Crush the berries gently with a potato masher (I am using an antique wooden potato masher- it is a great tool for this job) in a large saucepan. Don't use a food processor or blender, as it breaks down the natural sugars in the berries and your jam will not set.

Add one cup of unsweetened apple juice and the package of fruit pectin and bring to a rolling boil.

Once the mixture is boiling begin to stir it continuously for 3 minutes.

Remove pan from heat and fill hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch headroom.

Place lids and bands in place and tighten gently- just finger tight.

Place filled jars in the boiling water canner, making sure there is at least 2 inches of water covering them.

Boil for 10 minutes.  

Remove jars and place them on a cutting board or towel (not a cold counter top, or you risk some serious breakage!). Listen for the seals to pop. Allow the jam to stand at least 24 hours to set. (This is the hardest part! :)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

More Etsy goodies!

Hi all- been busy adding new stock to my Etsy store. Take a look:

Some good stuff there- an H Bar C white women's western shirt, that green Schiaparelli men's shirt, and some cheap stuff- two 1970s women's blouses in fun prints.

I have so much more to add- next up should be a bunch of men's ties. Then a 1950s mens sweater and a 1950s beaded women's sweater. And more- keep checking in! The clothing takes so much time, with the photographing and measuring; it makes me want to sell only housewares! ;) But I have so much stuff, so it has to go!

And if you're a blog follower, I'll take 20% off your order. Just convo me before you buy and I'll give you a coupon code!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Real Life at Chez QT

 Here are a few snapshots that just go to show that real life is not always prim and proper, vintage-y perfection here at Chez QT! Like everyone out there, we have our moments. All of these photos were taken in the last couple of weeks, but not all on the same day!

My "helpers" cleaning up. Note the cords (2!) wrapped around the table base. And Kate's skirt-over-pants fashion statement.

The kids make a mess and stare at Spongebob while Daddy examines the inside of his eyelids.

Don't you love Kate's outfit? She dressed herself!

And I have my peculiar obsessions as well. I think my neighbors thought I was nuts, but hey- my sheets smelled outdoor-fresh!

Is it bedtime yet?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Thrifted Thursday- Birthday Thrift Crawl Haul, pt. II

Here's part deux of the goodies I brought back from my annual birthday thrift crawl two weeks ago!

First, a long sleeved Ship-n-Shore blouse with a mandarin collar. It's hard to see from the photo, but the stripes are burgundy and grey. Perfect for all my grey pencil skirts - I have tons of those!

Second, a pair of deadstock wedge-type sandals. They're made in Germany, and I guess are similar to Clark's or Birkenstocks in that they have an orthopedic cork footbed. So comfy!

A cotton playsuit. I haven't yet decided if I will keep this or sell it- it's a little big for me, but with a belt might be OK. Excuse the wrinkles; in the middle of ironing this my iron died.

Close up of the pattern- it's green dots with either white or black centers:

This is probably one of the rarest things I have ever thrifted. It's a Schiaparelli silk shantung blouse, never worn. I am guessing that this is either early 50s (right before the fashion house went out of business) or from the 70s when they tried to resurrect the brand. Take a look at the label, and if anyone has any more info, please leave a comment. This is probably headed to the Etsy store, so I want to get it right. 

Close up of the label. If you look carefully underneath the label, the shirt is stamped "Factory Sample." 

And lastly the ivory beaded cardigan I scored at the Salvation Army. I believe it's cashmere and it had never been worn.

Next thrifting adventure is this Saturday- I'm on the hunt for a good vintage iron! LOL

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

My pet peeves- a rant

I have to get something off my chest. My apologies if this offends anyone, but if I don't say something about this I think I'm going to burst. And this is my blog and you're all entitled to my opinion, right? LOL

I am a grammar nerd. But most of all I am a pedant for punctuation (as someone once told me).

The improper use of apostrophes has always bothered me. Especially with the words "its" and "it's".

It's (with an apostrophe) is only used when you are using the contracted form of "it is". As in, "It's entirely possible that I failed to learn about that in school."

If it does not make sense to say "it is" where you are using "it's", then drop the apostrophe. (Confusing then and than is another pet peeve of mine, but that's for another day.)

It's (i.e. it is) never used as a possesive, meaning something that belongs to it. That would be "its" (no apostrophe): "Its color was red."

And another thing that is really bothering me lately is the use of the word "fail" as a noun. As in, "I had an epic fail".

Fail is a verb, as in "to fail". It is not a noun, as in "I had a sewing fail last night". That does not even make sense, if you take it literally. I just want to ask, what did the sewing do, that it failed so miserably?

Why not just say "I made a mistake?"

Perhaps that is the answer- we don't want to admit that we made a mistake, and are trying to blame an inanimate object for our "fail"? I don't know, I just know that it really irritates me to read that!

Well, I feel a little better about that now.

It's a miracle.

P.S. Enjoy some of these pictures I took at the Philadelphia Flower Show a couple weeks ago- see it's not all bad!

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Family Outfit post: Western Wear!

Yesterday was one of those rare days where the kids and I all dressed vintage- with a theme. My daughter started it off with choosing a darling 1950s vintage western-themed dress. She is almost three and chooses her own outfits. No matter what I can get her to put on, it *has* to include a dress. The end result is often a mix of several patterns, several layers and pink and purple. Plus a dress over top of everything! But this outfit was pretty simple- at least until she put a Halloween costume over top later in the afternoon (no pix, sorry! ;).

Since she chose this dress, in a blue oxford cloth with red bandana-like yoke and belt, I remembered that I had a matching shirt for my son. Alas, that did not fit him- it's headed off to the Etsy store, I guess- so we got out a different western shirt, this one with an embroidered Mexican scene on the yoke. It's a little big for him...

To finish the familial ensemble, I got out a 1970s-vintage western shirt for myself, a Montana Silversmiths belt, cuffed jeans and some of the shoes I got on my birthday thrift crawl. They are deadstock caramel-colored leather mocs, in the style of the classic 1930s  LL Bean moc . I didn't realize it until I was wearing them around the other day that they are also steel-toed! Seems a little strange to put steel toes in this style shoe, but at least I don't have to worry about dropping anything!  I have been looking for a vintage lace-up outdoors shoe for a while, and this is the closest thing I have found.

I'm looking to re-create this outfit from a photo published in a 1950 issue of Sports Afield.

I haven't yet found the exact shoes I want; I think those in the photo are like these vintage Buster Brown shoes of my daughter's:

I can't find any in a women's size 7, but I'll keep looking- I know they're out there!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Make-it-from-scratch Monday: Roast Wild Duck with Cherry-Juniper gravy

This week's recipe is cribbed from this one at, but modified to use the ingredients I had on hand. It uses one of my favorite ingredients in wild game cooking, juniper berries, so I had to try it. If you can't find juniper berries, try a specialty store or bulk foods retailer online- they are worth seeking out!  

Instead of a 5 lb. domestic duck, I used a 2 1/2 lb wild duck (so I had to cut the cooking time in half), and used dried cherries instead of the prunes, which I probably would have done anyway, even had I had prunes. I also always read the reviews attached to an online recipe (some good advice from real people there!), and one of the reviewers mentioned that it would be a waste to stick the giblets, heart and liver in the cavity of the bird to roast and then simply discard- why not use them for gravy? And I always make it a point to use every usable bit of an animal that we hunt, so I wanted to incorporate those parts into the gravy


1 whole duck; gizzard, heart, liver reserved
2 cups water
20 juniper berries, slightly crushed
1-2 oz dried cherries or prunes
1 lemon or orange, quartered
3 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried
1 oz dry sherry
1 oz brandy (I used some plum brandy)
salt and pepper to taste

First, macerate the dried fruit in the brandy to soften.

Then make the juniper broth by boiling 15 of the juniper berries in 2 c. water.

Prepare the duck.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Season inside and out with salt, pepper, thyme. Place about 5 juniper berries in cavity of duck, and all but one of the lemon slices.
Put duck in oven for 30 mins.

Add one lemon slice and macerated fruit to broth and steep. Reserve brandy for later!

Place giblets and heart (I cooked the liver separately- a special treat just fo me) in the broth and boil. When cooked through, remove and dice finely.

After 30 mins, remove duck from oven and pour half of the broth over top. Try to reserve as much fruit as possible.

Turn duck over so breast side is down.
Bake for another 30 mins, then remove and pour remaining liquid broth over top (still reserving fruit).
Turn duck again so breast side is up.
Lower heat to 350.
Bake for 30 mins until done.

Remove duck from oven to rest and pour off pan juices (separate as much duck fat as possible- keep that for some other use!).  Combine juices with reserved fruit, brandy, and diced giblets. Add water if necessary. Bring to a boil and add sherry. Turn heat to medium-low.

Make a slurry with a couple tablespoons of flour and water in a separate dish. Add slowly to juices to thicken. Keep stirring or your gravy will burn or get lumpy.

Meanwhile, summon the house butcher to carve the bird.

Plate and serve with gravy. I added herb-roasted redskin potatoes and broccoli. Roasted brussel sprouts would be great with this also.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Thrifted Thursday: Birthday Thrift Crawl Haul, Pt. 1!

As promised, here are some of the goodies I brought home last weekend. I hit four thrift stores in one day of shopping- it's my annual birthday present to myself. The first three items are all from a vintage clothing store/secondhand shop that is so large it takes hours to go through it all. I forgot to take my camera, but you all would die just to see how crammed it is. And on many of the items, the prices are really good. I was totally in heaven.

This is a 60s polka dot dress. There is a zipper on the left side and a shawl collar- it's hard to make out the details with all the dots, but it's really cute and fits perfectly. There are a couple of spots that need mending, and I may need to replace the zipper, but not a bad buy for $2 (the red belt was $1). I now have three navy/white polka dot dresses, but can you really ever have too many? :)

I also bought this boucle beach cover-up for $4. I could use it as a lightweight cardigan as well, but I really needed a beach cover-up, and this fits the bill nicely.

I was on the hunt for vintage blouses in particular. This one will be nice with a gray or brown pencil skirt.

This was one of my bigger scores. I stopped at a brand new Sally Ann outpost that wasn't on my original itinerary, and boy, am I glad I did! It's a Lilli Ann two-piece knit set from the 60s. It has a nice 1940s collegiate look to it, though. It's probably headed to the Etsy store, unless I feel like breaking out the saddle shoes and keeping it for myself.

Most of all, I was looking for cardigans. Red ones in particular. This is a nice beaded cardi with a scoop neckline, that I can wear with all those polka dot dresses! It's modern, but classic. I did find a beautiful vintage beaded ivory cardi at the same shop as the Lilli Ann suit, but that will be in part II.... ;)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Trash-picked Tuesday: A third vintage suitcase

Longtime readers may recall that I have a set of mint green Samsonite suitcases, the larger of which I trash picked about 10 years ago.

This weekend, on my annual birthday thrift store crawl, the trash-picking gods (if there could possibly be such a thing, LOL) smiled on me once again and I found a third green suitcase in the set!

At my favorite vintage clothing store this was parked outside, marked "FREE"! 

Well, I love me some bargains on vintage clothes (more about that Thursday ;), but I cannot pass up free stuff, especially something that is part of a set I already have.

I'm not sure what is the proper name for this style, but I believe it is something like a hard-sided garment bag. The two halves are not hinged, but rather come apart. There are clasps along the other three sides to hold it together, and on the inside there are collapsible rods to hang your suits.

It wasn't in the greatest of shape- the lock had been drilled out and it had some mildew inside. But after a throrough cleaning and a good airing, it's definitely usable.

Maybe over a couple more years I can finish my curbside set of suitcases with the hatbox and matching Bermuda green traincase!

(And after a quick cruise around eBay and etsy, I'm gonna have to score them for free, because I sure can't afford what they're asking for these anymore! Yikes!  And double yikes!)