We found ourselves at the mercy of others when the weather got really bad a couple weeks ago. Those others were our sweet friends The Roses. Though Jeremy and Jill have a family of six already, and lots of other responsibilities, their generosity and hospitality seemed to know no bounds. We shared their food, their toys, their living space. We took up beds and water and did laundry. They even allowed us to keep our large breed puppy with their dogs in the garage. And we weren’t the only ones! On the last night, Jeremy counted 21 people sleeping under his roof, due either to friendship or inclement weather preventing people from being in their own homes. Never once did they complain or show anything less than thoughtfulness and willingness to help. They are a wonderful example of the practicality of God’s love for us.
I have, regrettably, not always been the best at expressing my gratitude. Perhaps you’re like me. You intend to send a card, write it even, but time goes on, and that note you meant to send sits in your bureau, waiting for a stamp that may or may not ever come. Maybe you see it again too long down the line, and you feel a sink of regret that you didn’t express exactly how much the gesture had meant to you.
Well not this time. I told myself I need to get better at my thank yous, and for as much as the Roses have done for us over the past couple years, I thought they deserved something special. Something beyond a note.
With a limited budget, I decided on three homemade things. Some bread, jam, and a hand embroidered hoop.
A couple years ago I bought Marisa McClellan’s Food in Jars, and it proved to be a very worthwhile purchase. (She also has another book, Preserving by the Pint, which I haven’t explored, but I’m sure is wonderful).
I have made a handful of recipes, and my favorite to date is the Strawberry Vanilla Jam. It is far more marvelous than other plain jane strawberry jams (those vanilla bean pods make it), and the texture is absolutely divine. Perfectly spreadable. To get the recipe I use, you’ll have to buy the book, although there is a recipe for a jam recipe listed on Marisa’s website under the same name. I cannot vouch for its similarity to the book as I’ve never made it. But same name, created by the same Canning Wizard… it’s probably pretty dang similar. The recipe: Small Batch Strawberry Vanilla Jam by Marisa McClellan
The second thing on my thank you goodies list is bread. I love my bread maker, and the book I use exclusively for recipes is The Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook. I highly recommend investing in both a bread machine and this particular book, though I do have to convert all the flour measurements to grams from cups using a 128g = 1 cup calculation (for more accurate measuring).
I haven’t bought a loaf of bread since Christmas, though I still buy specialty breads like bagels and English muffins. For my friends, I chose a soft white country French loaf that would be perfect with the jam. I wrapped it in a simple cotton fabric I had in my scrap box (nothing says homey loveliness like red and white gingham, am I right?), and tied it like a giant piece of candy.
If you have a bread machine, try this for a 1.5lb loaf:
287g bread flour
97g whole wheat flour
2 tsp vital wheat gluten
1-1/2 tsp salt
2-1/4 tsp bread machine yeast
Lastly, the embroidery hoop. I’ve been wanting to try my hand at some embroidery for several months now. I follow a few talented embroiderers on Instagram whose work really inspires and delights me.
I gave it a shot. It was a BLAST! I watched some tutorials on YouTube to learn how to do a couple stitches (most notably the French knot and the lazy daisy) and improvised the rest myself. I’m very happy with the finished product. Not bad for my first go, eh?
My first hand embroidery attempt, with an applique in the center. The wreath I designed on Photoshop using some elements purchased from the Creative Market. The small text proved very difficult to embroider, so what the heck, I wrote it out. No judgment.
I adored this project. If you want one of these hoops for your family, or your baby, or your wedding, I would love to do a custom one. (Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org)
If you want to try it yourself, these are a couple great resources I’ve cherry picked for you:
- Urban Threads Stitches Tutorial
- Sublime Stitching Hand Embroidery Tutorials
- Get Started with Embroidery: A complete beginner’s guide
And that’s a wrap, friends!
As you go about your week this week, think about who in your life deserves a thank you, and what you could make for them to show your appreciation.