Thursday, May 31, 2007

Here Kitty, Kitty, Kitty....

When I'm up to it, I love to go to a local animal rescue and pet the kitties. The shelter houses 30 cats and the number of dogs changes daily.

The kitties hear me coming and they run to the gate, meowing and purrrrring all the while. "Kitty Therapy" is good for me. I love to sit outside and pet them, and I think they love it too.

After awhile, you learn their personalities. OHana likes to give "love bites". Sven is a gentleman. Mabel can be a rascal. Wicca wants a forever home, and a new name. Meike is a real lovey kitty. Zach takes awhile to warm up, but he loves to be held once he gets to know you. Cupcake is very sweet. Roxanne will be coming to live here sometime soon. That's the plan anyway.

I'm getting on my soapbox here: I believe you can tell a lot about a people by the way they treat the elderly, children, and pets. If you're able, I'd encourage every person to give in some way to those who are unable to help themselves. Volunteer at a nursing home. Become a foster parent. Pet kitties. You'll be a happier person for it.

If you're interested in adopting or sponsoring a dog or a cat, or a child....drop me a line in the comments section. I'd be glad to put you in touch with the right people.

By the way, I'm VERY allergic to cats! >^..^<

I'm Branching Out!

My crochet-edged socks are moving up! I discovered how to make them with BEADS!

Beads....beads....and MORE beads!

(Photos to come--hopefully tomorrow!)

Now I can't go into Wal-Mart without finding any crafts clearance items and searching for beads. I do the same at Michael's. And JoAnn's. Hobby Lobby. I now have a stash of about 30 bizillion beads! I have every shape, size, and color imaginable.

My evenings have been spent crocheting beads onto socks. My mornings are the same. And the afternoons. (You'd think this new hobby has impaired my ability to write in complete sentences!)

My plan is to sell them at craft fairs in the fall and leading up to Christmas. Even if I don't make a dime, it sure is fun! Not to mention therapeutic!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Tacky, Yet Festive!

At 8:00 this morning I found myself putting up a "Memorial Day tree". Now, to the average Joe, this may appear to be a Christmas tree. In fact, the box the tree came in said it was a Christmas tree. Today, they were wrong!

I bought this tree off of eBay back in February. It sat, in the box, in the dining room until this morning. Family was set to arrive around noon and I needed to move the box. However, I wanted to make sure all the lights worked before dragging it to the garage. So, we put it up!

I scrounged around and found some red, white, and silver ball ornaments that I'd bought at Goodwill since March or so. I also had 100 feet of red metallic garland. I found a remnant of patriotic fabric that we used for an impromptu tree skirt. Then we tucked in a few small flags, an artificial cardinal, and added a silver star.
Voila! A Memorial Day tree! The neighbors probably think we're insane.

I also put a strand of blue and white lights in the kitchen. That part was tacky....but I love it! So do the girls. I'm thinking of leaving it all up until Labor Day! (Just kidding...maybe!)

Next-Best-Thing-to-KFC ColeSlaw

The ONLY reason this coleslaw isn't as good as KFC's is because you have to make it yourself! I made it today for our family's Memorial Day get-together.

Next-Best-Thing-to-KFC's Coleslaw

1 package of shredded cabbage and carrot mixture or 6-8 cups of shredded cabbage and carrots
1/4 cup diced onion
1 cup Miracle Whip (The only substitution you can make here is to use Light Miracle Whip. Don't use mayonnaise.)
1/4 cup sugar

Mix cabbage, carrots, and onion in a large bowl. Mix Miracle Whip and sugar in a small bowl until blended. Mix Miracle Whip mixture into cabbage mixture. You'll think you don't have enough Miracle Whip, but, trust me, you do.

Cover and let set overnight in the refrigerator. THIS IS THE SECRET! DO NOT SKIP THIS PART!

Stir before serving.

You can substitute Splenda for the sugar and it comes out just fine too!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Easiest Dip in the World

This is the easiest dip in the world--and maybe the yummiest too! It's especially great with apples or bananas. We use it as a quick snack in the afternoon or a speedy dessert when everyone wants something sweet. By the way, I made this recipe up myself and don't really measure anything. Feel free to wing it!

Yummy Fruit Dip
1 cup vanilla yogurt
2-3 T peanut butter
sprinkle of cinnamon (optional)

Mix everything together and serve with your choice of dippers. It's even good with celery!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

I Come by It Honestly!

I stopped at my parents' house tonight to find my dad out in the garage making a lamp out of an blender! It's going to be interesting to see it finished. I'll post a photo when it's done!

My dad can be very creative. I think I get my creativity from his side of the family. It was Dad's idea to make a lamp out of smoked glass, mirror, and silk flowers for my 4-H Electric project one year. (It went to the State Fair! Thanks, Dad!) He's always coming up with some kind of "project" to keep himself busy. I'm like him in many ways. I'm always wanting to start another project before the last one is finished--just like dear ol' Dad!

His mom was a great cook. She cooked for sororities and fraternities at a university for many years. She was always making cookies or homemade pies. She made the BEST apple pie and chocolate fudge! She didn't even have a recipe for her fudge. She'd been making it since she was a girl and did it by "feel" (Her words, not mine!). I even cooked for a sorority and a fraternity for one year and LOVED it! Yes, I'm probably like her in many ways too.

I'm off to figure out what to make out of an old mixer.....

Something You DON'T Want to Hear....

Something you don't want to hear your husband say in the next room.....

"NO! You CANNOT stuff your sister in a plastic bag!"

Life around's never boring!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Getting a Jump-Start

Yes, it’s 92 degrees outside and I’m working with FLEECE! Yes, I’m getting a jump start on Christmas gifts. Fleece is still available in the summer. In fact, the stores have a good stock. They haven’t sold out of anything yet, so now is a good time to get what you want.

Rick asked for an Indianapolis Colts fleece throw last year after the Colts won the SuperBowl. I got the fleece at Hobby Lobby using one of their 40% off coupons so this will be an inexpensive gift.

I use 2-2 ½ yards for an adult-sized throw. The fleece is usually 58” to 60” wide. This makes a nice sized blanket for a teenager or an adult. Most fleece blankets are made with two layers of fleece. I think this is way too thick for most people, unless you live in Siberia. Using one layer makes the blanket much easier to handle and gives you more options when you go to tie the fringe. A single layer also makes the blanket half the cost of double layers!

The first thing you need to do is cut off any selvage that is bound or has a print. Just trim it off with scissors.

I don’t do anything laborious when I make a throw. I cut the fringes the length of my scissor blade. I don’t measure the width of each fringe. Eyeball it. It all works out in the end.

Start by cutting a square out of each corner that is the length and width of the scissor blades. Open the blades all the way up, put them about the place you want to cut, and make a big slash. Do that again to cut out a square. Do that on each corner.

Cutting the fringes is easy too. Just guess about every ½ inch and make a slash the length of the scissor blades. Do that all the way around the fleece.

You can tie the fringes one of two different ways. The traditional way is to tie the double layers together with a knot. Since I’m only using one layer, I can just tie a knot up near the body of the blanket or tie two adjoining fringes together. I’ve opted for the second option, just to be different. If you choose to do it this way, you may get to the end of one row and find that you have an uneven number of fringes to tie. This is not an emergency! Just work the odd fringe in—tie three together. No one will ever know unless you tell them.

Tie all the way around the blanket until all the fringe is used up. Put the blanket up for a cooler day and cross one Christmas gift off your list!
For more Frugal Friday ideas, head over to Biblical Womanhood!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Hairspray Overspray

Any woman who has hair and glasses or a mirror has had to figure out how in the world to get the hairspray off the places it shouldn't have been to begin with! I'm always getting it on my glasses or on the mirror or wall behind me. My sister, who is an optometry technician, finally told me what to use--rubbing alcohol. A little on a cotton ball takes it right off. Every time. That works for me!

For other "Works For Me Wednesday" ideas, head over to Rocks in My Dryer!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Sesame Chicken

This is a family favorite. We usually have this served over brown rice. You can adjust the amount of red pepper flakes to your liking.

This recipe actually won a recipe contest in January that was sponsored by Amelia’s Aprons. I won an apron!

Sesame Chicken

6 chicken breasts--boneless works best
¼ cup honey
¼ cup soy sauce
½ cup cool water
1 T cornstarch
1 t ginger
1 t red pepper flakes
1 T sesame seeds

Cut the chicken into strips. Sauté in a skillet sprayed with cooking spray until no longer pink.

Whisk together honey, soy sauce, water, cornstarch, ginger, and red pepper flakes. Pour over chicken. Cook until slightly thickened. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Cover and simmer 10 minutes.

6 servings each containing
2.6 grams of fat
29 grams of protein

Our Home in a Nutshell

This was unashamedly copied from Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer.

Some houses try to hide that fact
That children shelter there.
Ours boasts of it quite openly--
The signs are everywhere.
For smears are on the windows,
Little smudges on the doors.
I should apologize, I guess,
For toys strewn on the floor.
But I sat down with the children
And we played and laughed and read.
And if the bathtub doesn't shine
Their eyes will shine instead.
For when, at times, I'm forced to choose
The one job or the other,
I want to have a lovely house,
But first I'll be a mother.
--Author Unknown

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Who Doesn't Love PlayDough?

This recipe was given to me by a classmate in college. She made it for her girls, and now I make it for mine. It's very easy and turns out great every time. The secret is kneading it until it's smooth after it cools.

1 cup water
1 T vegetable oil
1 cup flour
1 packet of sugar-free Kool-Ade (any flavor)
2 T cream of tartar OR alum
¼ cup salt

Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl.
Combine the water and oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
Slowly add the dry ingredients, stirring constantly.
Reduce the heat to low and keep stirring until the mixture starts to boil and pull away from the sides of the pan.
Remove the playdough from the pan and place on a piece of wax paper to cool to room temperature.
When it’s cool, knead the dough to make it softer and smoother.
Store in an airtight container.

You can make some substitutions for the Kool-Ade. If you mix in 3-4 tablespoons of pumpkin pie spice and a little orange food coloring you have a great autumn-scented playdough. Leave out the food coloring, add a bit more ginger, and you have gingerbread playdough. If your children fancy chocolate playdough, add about 1/2 cup of cocoa powder in with the dry ingredients and decrease the flour by about half.

I've found that this dough keeps a very long time if you store it in a ziploc bag and squeeze the air out each time you put it away. My girls can play with playdough for hours on end. It's a great rainy-day treat!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Goodbye Duck

Also known as "Duck" to those who loved him.
April, 1997-May, 2007
One of our beloved furbabies passed away yesterday.
He will be sorely missed.

Inexpensive Fabric--Frugal Friday

One of my favorite ways to save money on fabric is to use sheets! Yes, sheets--the kind you put on your bed!

Good sheets for sewing can be found at lots of places: yard sales, Goodwill, Salvation Army stores, friends, and your own linen closet. Last week I got three coordinating twin-size sheets in great condition (soft from being washed many times, no stains, no pilling) for $.25 TOTAL! From these sheets I'll be able to make several dresses for Katie and Audrey.

Another great thing about sewing with sheets is that they come out of the dryer looking great. As with any cotton, you sometimes need to touch-up with an iron, but that becomes rarer and rarer the more they are washed.

White sheets are great for linings. A friend worked at an up-scale hotel chain and said they just threw away sheets once they got a little hole anywhere. She gave me several king-sized sheets with tiny holes near the edges. The hotel was going to throw them away....I'm still using them for things from linings to quilt backings. It doesn't hurt to ask if you have a hotel nearby!

Head on over to Biblical Womanhood for more Frugal Friday ideas!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Loose Ends

Today has been a day of loose ends. Lots of things to finish--and lots of things I want to start.

First, I finished three pairs of crocheted socks for someone who ordered them after seeing the blog! What a blessing! Now I need to get them in the mail.

A friend is going to have a baby at any time so we spent some time tying up loose ends for when she goes into labor and I keep the baby they are in the process of adopting.

The girls' new bedroom is almost done. I need to make curtains and hang pictures on the walls. I started tying up those loose ends this afternoon. It will be good to have it FINISHED!

These are all little things, but it still feels good to get them accomplished!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Comfort Food

I've been fighting a cold for the past few days. Nothing makes me feel better than good ol' comfort foods when I'm sick. Chicken and dumplings are so easy to make--and are so good! Serve with mashed potatoes, green beans, and brownies for dessert.

Chicken and Dumplings
Serves 4

1 ¼ cups flour
½ t salt
¼ t poultry seasoning
¼ cup shortening
1 egg, beaten
¼ cup milk
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup cubed cooked chicken

Combine flour, salt, and poultry seasoning. Cut in shortening until crumbly. Combine egg and milk; stir into flour mixture just until combined.

On a heavily floured surface, roll dough to ¼ inch thickness. Using a pizza cutter, cut dough into 1 inch strips. Cut strips into 2 inch lengths.

In a large saucepan, bring broth to a boil. Add chicken. Reduce heat and drop dumplings into simmering broth. Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into a dumpling comes out clean. No peeking while the dumplings are cooking!

I like to use skinned chicken thighs cooked all day in the crockpot for my broth and meat. De-bone thighs and add back to the liquid. Doubling the recipe will give you lots of leftovers for the next day. This is a good thing when you have a cold and don’t feel like cooking!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

A Simple Gift

This simple gift was from Katie. Her Sunday school class did these for Mother's Day. Does it get any better than this?

Incredible Edibles

This recipe came to me from one of the Yahoo! Groups to which I belong. While it isn’t the healthiest thing I’ve made lately, it certainly tastes the best! The original recipe said they tasted like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

Incredible Edibles

1 ½ sticks margarine, melted
2 c. powdered sugar
2 c. graham cracker crumbs
¾ c. peanut butter
12 oz. bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 T shortening

Mix margarine, powdered sugar, graham cracker crumbs, and peanut butter in a bowl. Press into a 9”x13” pan.

Melt chocolate chips with shortening and spread over top of the graham cracker mixture. Cut into squares before the chocolate hardens. Refrigerate to harden chocolate. You may have to re-cut the squares.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Snapshots of Time

Rick and his sister, Lana, in 1958.

I've spent part of this weekend scanning old photos that Rick inherited when his aunt recently passed away. For me, it's a labor of love. When he can tell who is in the photo, he's been sorting them into family piles. After they're scanned, we'll mail them out to the families.

The sad thing is that some of them aren't labeled. I think everyone's been guilty of thinking "I'll always remember this!" and not writing a name or a date on a photo. The photos get put away or put into an album...and soon we forget who was there, when it was, and what we were doing.

There is a right way and a wrong way to label a photo. The wrong was is with an ink pen on the back! The ink can bleed through in time and it also dents the photo on the front. The right way is with a photo labeling pencil. They are inexpensive and you can find them at most places that sell scrapbook supplies.

I've also used post-it notes on the BACKS of the photos when I've been in a real hurry or there are lots of details to remember. The downfall to this is that the notes can fall off, of course. You don't want to leave them there for a long time as the adhesives may not be acid free and could damage the photo in time.

You can also put a group of like photos into an envelope and label it. If all the pictures are from a birthday party, you're likely to remember who the guests are, but you might forget the date if it's not written down.

The most important thing is to get the photos into some kind of acid free album AND labeled. This does not mean you have to turn into a scrapbooker! Be sure your photos are protected and you have details written down. That's all you really need. Sure, it's fun to look at colorful scrapbooks, but the important thing is to get the photos into a safe place where people can enjoy them. If you decide you later want to scrapbook, you'll have all the photos in some kind of order with labels. There's nothing more overwhelming than facing a box full of envelopes of photos and you have no idea where to start.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Peanut Butter Granola

Katie and I made Peanut Butter Granola the other day. It's a big hit around here--and very easy to make!

Peanut Butter Granola

10 cups quick oats
1/2 cup brown sugar--or a little bit of honey
1 cup chunky peanut butter
12 oz 100% apple juice concentrate--thawed
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 T cinnamon

Mix oats and brown sugar together in a large bowl. Whisk remaining ingredients in a separate bowl. Pour over oat mixture. Mix with a spoon until it gets very stiff. Finish mixing with your hands. It will be like a stiff cookie dough. Spread on a cookie sheet. Toast at 225 for an hour, stirring every 15 minutes. When it's done you'll have large clumps that are great for snacking and flakes that are wonderful as a cereal with milk.

Just to be different, I made a batch yesterday substituing pumpkin puree from a can for the peanut butter and adding in some cinnamon, nutmeg, and a little pinch of cloves. It was moister so I baked it at 250 for an hour and 15 minutes, still stirring every 15 minutes. When it was finished I added craisins (dried cranberries) and chopped walnuts. With the exception of the nuts, this version is fat free!

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

It Fits to a "T"!

I made Katie a cute little dress from a t-shirt. It was really easy, not to mention cute and inexpensive!

I didn't take pictures of the step-by-step process, but I'll give you a written tutorial if you'd like to make one for your little princess.

First, I bought a t-shirt for less than $3.00. It's a little prettier than a regular t-shirt--the sleeves have a little puff to the top so it looks girly. Sitting around in my sewing room was a bag of remnants. Inside I found a green and yellow daisy print that would make a great skirt. I had 1/2 yard of it and it was 44" wide. I also had some yellow gingham that went well with the daisy print.

I measured Katie from the top of her shoulder to the place I'd like the skirt to start. It was 8" so I added 1/2" for a seam allowance and cut the shirt off.

I cut a piece of the yellow gingham 3 1/2" wide, folded it in half lengthwise, and iron it. I then sewed it with 1/4" seam to the long side of the green print to make a border at the bottom. Press the border towards the skirt. Stitch up the skirt seam and press open.

I added ties to my dress. I cut a piece of the yellow fabric that was 45" long and about 2 1/2" wide. Cut it in half so you have two pieces that are 2 1/2"x22 1/2". Fold in half and sew the long side and one short side with 1/4" seam. Turn right side out and press. Turn the unfinised edge to the inside about 1/4 inch and press. Place the tie at the side seam 1/2" from the bottom. Sew very close to the side seam. Do this with both ties.

Divide the shirt into quarters and place pins to mark. Do the same thing for the skirt. Match the pins and pin the right sides together (skirt and top). Take each quarter and find the center. Pin in place. You now have eight sections. Divide each of these sections in half also. Pin in place.

Starting at one side seam, sew the skirt to the top with 1/2" seam. Finger press the fabric forward over the pins making pleats. Do this all the way around the skirt. Remove pins. I then zig-zagged around the waist again and trimmed the seam. I did this because I didn't want to get the serger out!

That was it! I think it turned out very cute. I have a yellow daisy button that I may sew to the neckline later. I'm still thinking about it. It will go very well with the Lazy Daisy socks I finished a few days ago.

This went so well I'm now thinking about more dresses....I have two turtlenecks I got on clearance for next fall and winter. If I can find some flannel.... What about making matching vests? Hair scrunchies? Socks? The possibilites are endless!

A Beautiful Gift from God

Today we had a beautiful day....a real gift from God. The girls played outside while I sat on the swing and crocheted. A cool breeze was blowing and the sun was shining. Later, after the girls were fast asleep--they were very tired from playing outside--I went back to the swing to crochet some more. The kitties had to check out the socks I was working on. I crocheted until it was too dark to see the yarn.

It's really easy to miss little gifts like a gorgeous day and the squeals of your children as they play in the yard. The sunshine was warm and bright. The smell of sweet honeysuckle mixed with the aroma of grilling steak mingled in the air.

Yes, it was a beautiful day. I try not to take them for granted.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Homemade Graham Crackers

Homemade Graham Crackers
It's easier than you think!

1/3 cup oil
1/3 cup honey
2 T molasses
1 t vanilla
2 1/2-3 cups whole wheat flour
1 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1 T cinnamon
1/4-1/2 cup milk

Mix the first four ingredients in a large bowl. Mix dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Use 2 1/2 cups of flour to start with. Mix dry mixture to liquids, alternating with milk. Mix well. Add more flour if dough is too sticky. Add a little milk if it's too dry.

Divide dough in half. Roll each part directly on oiled cookie sheet. The thinner you roll it, the crispier they'll be when baked. Use a knife or a pizza cutter to cut the dough into 2 1/2 inch squares, but do not separate. Prick surface with a fork. At this point, I like to sprinkle the tops with a little cinnamon sugar, but that's optional.

Bake at 300 for 15-20 minutes until lightly browned. Cool then separate into pieces.

These are great by themselves, with a little icing, or with homemade tapioca or banana pudding!

Update on June 5, 2011: I'm linking this older post at

Friday, May 4, 2007

Sock it to Me!

Aren't these adorable?

After seeing a tutorial on how to crochet edgings on socks, I started one night and haven't stopped! Click here to see the tutorial from Kathy at Highlights from Higher Ground.

There are several great things about this type of project. First of all, it's very fast. That's important for those of us who like instant gratification! They're easy. They're inexpensive. They make great gifts. Little girls LOVE them. You can make them to match any outfit. The creative possibilities are endless. And, last, but not least, they're very portable. I stuck a few pairs of socks, a few balls of thread, my size 7 hook, and a pair of scissors in a bag and take it wherever I go. It's a great project to work on when you have to wait--like at the dentist.