Happy Halloween from The Many Faces of David Bowie

This year we decided our family theme costume would pay tribute to David Bowie. I hand made each of the outfits for my 2 sons, husband, and for me. It took all month (with a lot of ridiculous interruptions ranging from a house appraisal a bad back and many events in between) but in the end, our costumes were as close as I could get to historically accurate considering I was limited to local supplies, mostly coming from the nearby national chain fabric and crafts store. But I did it and am really happy with the results.

Happy Halloween from Build, Sew, Reap

So, to break it down, here are the costumes I made.

The 4 year old:

Happy Halloween from Build, Sew, Reap

The 8 year old:

Happy Halloween from Build, Sew, Reap

BSR Hubby:

Happy Halloween from Build, Sew, Reap

And me:

Happy Halloween from Build, Sew, Reap

The 5th person you see in the picture is my mother in law who joins us each year for our trick or treating (except last year when she was sick) and she does her best to come up with a great costume to fit in with our theme. Feel free to stop by my public album from my personal Facebook page to check out pictures from this and past years.

Thank you for reading,

Quince Butter in the Electric Pressure Cooker

A friend inherited a quince tree in her back yard when they moved into their house. She offered to let me pick however many I wanted as they were just going to waste. I was at her front door the very next morning with paper bags in hand. I picked about half of a grocery sack full of the extremely sour, very hard fruit, with bold dreams of coming home and processing them into something my family would actually like.

I'm proud to report that I totally nailed it! It's not just a spread either, it's also an amazing applesauce type substance that, when paired with whipped maple coconut cream, is to die for.

Quince Butter by Julie at Build, Sew, Reap

I created a recipe from scratch that ended up bringing big smiles to my boys' faces as I served them the spread in little bowls with spoons. This turned out the consistency of thick applesauce with just the right balance of tart and sweet. We enjoyed it on graham crackers and toast too. Oh boy, my mouth is watering just thinking about it right now.

Quince Butter by Julie at Build, Sew, Reap 


1 cup water
5-6 Quince chopped (not peeled)
1 cup maple syrup
Optional: 1 tsp cinnamon


Start by putting the cup of water in the electric pressure cooker and turn it on to saute so the water starts to get warm. While that's heating up, chop up the quince, removing any decaying flesh (I had a few bugs to deal with) and the core.

Toss all those in with the hot water, turn off your cooker, lock the lid on, then set it to manual high pressure for 8 minutes.

Now, I did 2 batches, one batch I set up then went to pick up a kiddo from school and let it do the natural pressure release thing for 20 minutes (it kept it warm too). The second time, I ditched the pot for an hour and 20 minutes. The second batch was a little sweeter but I don't think it made a huge difference. I guess the moral of this story is that you should let it do the natural pressure release but beyond that, timing is pretty flexible.

I would expect that you'd have about 4 cups of quince at this point. If you don't, adjust the maple syrup up or down, this isn't an exact science.

Quince Butter by Julie at Build, Sew, Reap

Pour the maple syrup (and optional cinnamon) into the quince then mix it all right there with an immersion blender. If you don't have one, you could try a food processor, whisk, blender, etc. I'd love for you to report back if you need to go another route.

Taste and add more maple syrup if it's not sweet enough for you. This was exactly how we liked it. In fact, we liked it enough to eat it with a spoon.

Quince Butter by Julie at Build, Sew, Reap 

You can certainly stop there and eat all the yummy quince butter/sauce without saving some for later in the season. I figured out that the version with cinnamon is excellent when topped with whipped maple coconut cream (coconut milk from the can + maple syrup in the Isi whipper) then sprinkled with a little more cinnamon. I've had this for dessert (ok, and breakfast) the past couple of days. 

Quince Dessert

Taking it a step beyond

I'm hot water canning all this lovely bounty. I've read that the quince is very acidic (this is obvious from the taste too) but to be on the safe side, I'm hot water canning them for 15 minutes, the same as applesauce. Fingers crossed this does the trick.

Thank you for reading,

Back to school printable

I know it's too late for a lot of you but here in the PNW, our kiddos are just heading back to school. I just created this printable blank. Please feel free to download it then open it up in your favorite editing software (I love PicMonkey) to fill in the blanks for your first day photos.

BSR First day of school

Thank you for reading,

Organized Camping

While I know full well that we could have been camping with our kiddos when they were younger, it just didn't happen (except the one time when #1 was 3 months old) but now we're excited to be at a point where everyone enjoys a weekend away. This summer, we've taken one gnarly trip as a family on Father's Day, hubs and #1 took a backpacking trip, and then I took the boys camping for a couple of nights last week. I realized through these trips that we're not super organized when we camp and I know we could have more fun playing and spend less time digging for things if we had it all planned out. I also like the idea that if we're well organized, we can go camping at a moment's notice without spending hours preparing, assembling, and packing.

Knowing we needed a system, I took to the internet. I took what I'd learned from our experiences and found solutions I thought would fit our camping style as well as consider how we can store stuff when we're home and where it has to fit in the car. I created a whole system from lists of what to do before we leave to what to pack and where.

Camping Organization - 1

For starters, we now have a binder. I think binders solve most organization problems. I love them ... possibly a little too much. You might be wondering what's in my binder, well, here's the table of contents.

Camping Organization - 2
(just ignore the fact that tab 8 is missing, I like to reuse old office supplies)

Section 1 contains the current trip info which would likely be campsite reservations or if we're going back-country camping, it would be a map of the area. This is where the trip menu will also reside once it is filled out. Finally, I like to print out information about area hikes when we camp so those will be here too. After a trip, the campsite printouts will move to section 6 and the hike printouts will move to section 7 along with any notes we've made.

Camping Organization - 3

In section 2, I keep some lists of stuff to do and stuff to pack. There are about 20 things I need to make sure to do in the days or hours before any trip including charging devices, arranging care for the cats and chickens, planning the menu, etc. I have all this on one list and then the next list is what needs to be stuffed into the trunk of my Mazda 3.

Camping Organization - 5

In this same section, I have laminated pages for each of the boys so they know what should always be in their day-hike bags. I make sure each child is equipped to spend a night in the woods no matter what. Yes, it would be a miserable night but it would be a night alive if they have the items I listed on their pages. I haven't yet allowed either to have access to fire or matches without me but as the 8 year old prove he can be trusted, he will eventually carry a fire kit.

Camping Organization - 6

Following the master packing list are lists of what should always be within each of the camping boxes (campsite gear, kitchen box 1, 2, 3). My goal is to make sure those remain packed at all times. When we get home from a trip, I'll make sure they are set to go for the next trip before they go back on the shelf in the garage. Each box contains a list taped to the outside but then I also created a master list in alphabetical order which will stay in the binder.

Camping Organization - 7

This takes us to section 4 with recipe cards and the master menu for each trip.

Camping Organization - 9

Camping Organization - 1 (1)

I already talked about sections 6 and 7 which will contain the print outs from past campsite reservations and hikes we've taken so I won't revisit those. I'm not sure what will go in section 8 yet so I guess it doesn't matter that the tab is missing.

I've mentioned the use of boxes several times now. I found some terrific water-tight boxes made by Ziploc that were exactly what I needed. I wanted shallow boxes so we wouldn't have to keep pawing through to find things. I also wanted tight fighting lids that wouldn't let in moisture or spiders. These stack nicely and are very sturdy. I organized all our supplies into the boxes and taped contents lists to the front.

Camping Organization - 12

Finally, I loaded our personal items into a roll-up shower caddy. This can hang from a tree in our campsite during the day and easily roll up to be stored in the tent at night (no bear risk) or in the car (bear risk).

Camping Organization - 13

I'm sure our systems will change a bit as we camp more but I feel like we're off to a strong start. Does your family go camping? Do you like car-camping (in a campground, feet from your car) or do you like to head deep into the woods with all your stuff on your back? Do you have any great tips to share with me as a novice family camper? I've always spent a lot of time in the woods and did some car camping as well as backpacking in college but am just getting my feet wet with family camping. It's a whole different beast so I welcome any suggestions you might have.

Thank you for reading,

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...