Gail's Nest · Recipes · Uncategorized

Making Your Own Relish

I’m an avid gardener and the garden is abounding in peppers and cucumbers. So, what do you do with all that produce that you can’t possibly eat? You make relish, of course.

Here’s a great simple recipe:

  • 5 cups finely chopped unpeeled pickling cucumbers
  • 2 cups finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped peeled onion
  • 1/4 cup pickling salt
  • 1 3/4 cups white vinegar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons mustard seeds
  • 1 tablespoon celery seeds

Place all the vegetables and the salt in a stainless steel bowl to mix and then let rest for about 4 hours.


Place your glass jars into the dishwasher and time it so they will be clean and hot right before you’re ready to put the relish into them.


Place the vegetables into a colander and drain out the liquid. Use your hands to squeeze out extra liquid. Next, place the vegetables into a pot along with the sugar, mustard seeds. celery seeds, and vinegar. Bring to a boil, cover,  and let simmer for 10 minutes. While that’s boiling get your canning water boiling.

Place the vegetable mix into hot jars. Be sure to dunk the lids and rims into boiling water to sterilize as well, and then place the lids on to the jars. Place the jars into the canning water (which should be at a rolling boil). It will cool a little after you lower the jars. Let it get back to boiling and then let them boil for about 10 minutes.


Take them out carefully and let cool. Listen for the “pop” that indicates the lid has sealed, Later, test the lid by pressing the center to make sure it’s sealed. It shouldn’t give. If it didn’t seal properly, you can try boiling it in the canning water again, or putting it in the fridge to use up right away.


Try your relish on hot dogs and sausages! Yum!





Making Your Own Window Seat Cushion

Hey Everyone – It was time to update my window seat. The primary “sitter” of the seat is our dog, Dutchess, who loves to gaze out into the world every day, and as you can imagine, over time that cushion got pretty threadbare.



So off to Joann’s…

I needed a piece of foam that measured out to 62″ . The kind ladies at Joann’s will cut if for you to fit your length. The width, however, is up to you to cut.


So, out came my electric knife! After I measured and drew a line to mark my width, I used my electric knife to cut right along the line.

Then… the fun part. I picked a heavy cotton fabric with colors that matched my decor. I  used the measurements of my foam (remember it was 62″) and added the 2 inches on both the top and the bottom (making the total length 66″ plus seam allowance). Then the width of the foam was 13.5 and I had to again add 2 inches for the width of both sides, as well as allow for seam allowance. Then I cut the fabric, sewed it up like a pillowcase, and finished the top by folding over a hem. I chose to not sew it closed and left it just like a pillowcase so I can remove it easily to wash. I just use safety pins to close it up.


I’m happy with the look.


And Dutchess likes it too!


There it is! It didn’t take long at all and it makes such a difference!




Gail's Nest · Refashion

Refashioning a Too-Small Skirt

One of my favorite Ithaca, NY stores on the Commons is Petrune. It’s a vintage clothing store. You never know what you’ll find. My latest visit turned up a 70s skirt whose pattern I loved but whose size was too small!


I immediately noticed the length and the large hem. The light bulbs went off! I could take out the hem, thereby lengthening the skirt further, and then cut the whole skirt off below the zipper in the back! So I spent the $8 and bought it.


As I enjoyed a favorite television show I unpicked the hem.


I discovered that the hem had been doubled up so when I unpicked there was another hem already in place. When I lowered the hem I saw the “rest of the picture” of the print. So pretty! Now it just needs a good ironing.


I carefully measured the length of the dress from the bottom of the zipper to the end of the hem. I marked the measurement (happened to be 18 inches). I did this all around the skirt so I would cut the top off evenly.


I know – it’s scary, isn’t it? Once you cut into a garment there’s no turning back.


Now I have a skirt that is long enough and wide enough to fit me. All I need to do now is make a waist casing for elastic.

skirt 3

I simple folded over the top of the skirt a layer that would be wide enough to insert the elastic. When you sew it in place, be sure to not sew it entirely closed! Leave an inch or so opening for the elastic. When the elastic is through then you can sew it closed.


And that’s it!

Well – I also indulged in another purchase at Petrune. I found a top that happened to have a similar pattern and color and I thought would look so cute with the skirt. But I was aghast that it cost $24! But these places sometimes will negotiate so I was so pleased that the gal working there that day accepted my offer of $18.




Gail's Nest · Refashion

A Refashion of Wrap-Around Pants

My mother-in-law gave me an outfit she had bought years ago from a trip to the Caribbean island of Antigua. It is silky and cool, but odd. She wore it a few times and then gave it to me suggesting I refashion it.


When I laid out the pants they looked like this:


It’s certainly a clever design! You have straddle the opening and then it wraps around the waist. Anyway, I knew I wouldn’t wear them as is, so I found a skirt pattern in my stash that I thought would work well with the fabric:


And so, it was an easy thing to lay out the pattern pieces on the pants – there was plenty of fabric. I simply pinned and cut!


This is an extremely easy pattern and so I just followed the sewing directions and it came together rather quickly.



The matching top was a little big on me so I took it in on the sides. It’s a nice cool, updated outfit for our upstate New York summer!



Gail's Nest

Blanching Vegetables

It’s the time of year that garden is producing more than your family can eat and so preparing your veggies for the freezer will give you great satisfaction in storing up food for the winter! If you don’t have a garden, consider stocking up on that fresh locally grown food you can purchase at farmer’s markets.

Freezing is a great alternative to canning if you have the freezer space. Blanching and freezing locks in as much nutritive value as you can possibly get next to eating fresh from the garden. Canning takes a lot of equipment, lots of time, and poses some risk for botulism if done improperly. Freezing, however, is safe, simple, easy, and quick.


The steps to getting a package of cooked vegetable into your freezer for the winter are as follows:

  1. Wash and cut up your vegetable.



2. Ideally use a steamer or stock pot to place your cut veggies in. This allows you to immediately pull out the veggies without draining the boiling water.


3. Get your water to a rolling boil. I usually put the lid on the pot to get it to boil faster.


4. Place the steamer with your veggies inside the pot of boiling water, cover and boil for 3-4 minutes (check a cookbook for accuracy of the timing for the particular veggie you’re doing, but usually it’s 3 minutes). You don’t want to overcook or you’ll lose nutritional value and you’ll end up with mushy vegetables that won’t freeze well.


5.  While that’s boiling, fill your clean and sanitized sink with cold water and add ice cubes. When your timer goes off, immediately take your steamer out of the pot and plunge it into your icy water. This stops the cooking process.


6. The last step is to put the vegetables into freezer bags. Label them with the name of the veggie (because you know you’ll ask yourself in 6 months, “What is this?”) as well as the date (not good to keep more than 18 months).


Your water is still boiling so do another batch!

There it is! There’s something very satisfying, very cave-womanesque about storing up food for your family for the winter.






Gail's Nest · Refashion

Refashion Challenge Reveal

Our mother/ daughter refashion challenge is partly finished! Here is my big reveal…

First, you may recall that Lydia sent me very large burnt orange pants and a cute sundress:



I made the pants into a skirt. It’s tricky laying pattern pieces on the limited fabric of pants because you have to avoid the pockets and seams. So I added fabric from the dress to compensate.


Then from the dress I made a top with an overlay to make the dress more practical and comfortable for work.


Here’s some pics of the process:


This pattern was my inspiration for the top.



The full effect:







I wore a black tank top underneath since it was a little chilly that day.

And now… it’s back to you, Lyd!! What will you do with those 2 maxies?

Gail's Nest · Refashion

Refashion Challenge – The Before (Gail)

Two Nests One Tree

Lydia and I are doing a mother/ daughter refashion challenge. If you have been following us you know that I sent her 2 thrifted items (total cost: $10), that she received in the mail and it’s up to her to create something new for herself out of them.

Then Lyddie gave me 2 thrifted items and I was to do the same. Here are the items she sent me:


Yeah. Thanks, Lyd! The burnt orange pants are huge, the sun dress is not my style and shows a little too much skin for my comfort zone. But the colors match and I think my creative juices are flowing!  Stay tuned for the reveal! Coming up later this week!