Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Just call me Farmer

I think, I have finally attained the distinction of farmer.

I've been telling everyone who asks, that I anticipate my first egg sometime around the end of September/the beginning of October.  And look what I found in the coop this morning!!!  Not in the nesting boxes, but that's okay, it was under their roosting branch.

In an effort to convince them to lay in the nesting boxes next time, I filled them full of nice clean wood chips, placed an eggish looking rock in each side, and hopefully I'll start finding the eggs there.

I am surprised by how big it was, and very nicely egg shaped, with its lovely light brown shell.

Crack.  I actually didn't mean to crack the shell this morning, I was just setting it down, and well, things happen.  My plan was to cook it up and let the entire family have a taste.

Instead, I got to enjoy a lovely egg breakfast all by myself.

Tomorrow I'll let the girls go take a peek inside and see what they can find.  My Oldest will tell you, gathering the eggs is her job after all.

Thanks for reading!!!


Monday, September 23, 2013

Billionaire Cookie Bars....everything you ever wanted...AND MORE

Sometimes Pinterest has just what you need....other times it has handsome pics of Ryan Gosling saying "Hey girl, I love when I come home and see you still in your pajamas, show me what you've made today."  Which, I mean, alright, I guess we need those.  Click..  And other times it has stuff like, how to get 6 pack abs in only 21 days...and well, nah!!!  I'd rather click on what I really need, the Billionaire Cookie Bars Pin...and believe me, it was the right pin to pick.

Let me just show you why, these are the perfect dessert ever devised.

Layers.  This cookie bar has layers upon layers of everything good.


Salted Caramel.

Raw Cookie Dough.

Chocolate Ganache.   Heaven!

I had to alter mine just slightly, due to a rather unfortunate agreement with my brother.  Instead of using refined white sugar, I used raw sugar.  I also did not have fleur de sel, not to say I didn't look for it, but my grocery store did not have it, so I used considerably less kosher salt in my caramel.  Don't ask about the chocolate chips...I must have forgotten to check whether there was sugar in them or not...but it was dark chocolate, not milk, so there clearly was less than otherwise, and so we're going on the assumption that there was no sugar, and I only had the teeniest bite, and then made The Mister take the ENTIRE pan to work because of the temptation.  It came back empty.

The raw sugar worked quite well, to be honest, but it did make the cookie dough layer....extremely crunchy.  So, there you have it.  His co-workers did not mind in the least and he has regaled me with stories of them coming back for seconds and then thirds.  And now they all want the recipe.  He's not sure he's going to give them my blog address so they can get it...thinks I might embarrass him.  What nerve.

The doll I made in The Mister's likeness and gave to him for his birthday.  What, how the heck did that get here?  Anyway, back to the cookie bars of love, heaven and joy...

I got creative and tried cutting them multiple ways, to see which I liked best.  I liked them both equally.  Gooey, delicious salted caramel!  Crumbly, buttery shortbread.  Scrumptious raw cookie dough.  Rich and creamy chocolate ganache!   Also, no eggs.  So, for those of you who cannot eat eggs, do not fret as you still get the most luscious dessert known to man.  Lucky you.

Thanks to Kevin and Amanda for reviewing the cookbook "The Cookie Dough Lovers Cookbook" and making this and pinning it.  Please click here for the recipe so you can make this for yourself and change your life forever for the better.  I am forever in their debt.  Please go check them out and see what all the fuss is about.

Thanks for reading!


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

God grant me patience...cause I know in my heart this is awesome!

I couldn't ask for more willing pupils.  My girls are eager and excited to learn to crochet, and embroider, and sew using the sewing machine, and craft in any manner I am willing to show them. How eager and excited am I to teach them to crochet? Slightly less excited than they are to learn. There's a reason I am not an elementary school teacher, I lack the patience.  Deep breath.  You can do this, just take it one step at a time. Talking to myself again. This could be a bad sign. Just stop and maybe no one will notice.

Luckily my oldest already knows how to chain.  Phew.  Now, let's just get my youngest on board and then I can think about teaching single crochet at some long distant, future date. Along with sewing machine etiquette, and techniques, and how to bloody not sew your finger into your patchwork.  I need more time.

My baby and the Crochet Chronicles

Okay, first thing you need to hold your yarn and hook correctly, so not like that.

Like this?

Yes, perfect, yarn goes over, under, over.  Now, stick that pointer finger straight out and pinch the yarn with your middle finger and thumb, no, not that finger, this finger.  Now, with your hook go under, around, turn hook, and pull through!

That was easy!!!  Let me do it all by myself.

Wait, you're yarn is no longer wrapped around your fingers correctly. Remember to pinch with thumb and tall one, stick pointer out, get your yarn wrapped...

I can do this BY MYSELF, you know.

Yes, I know you can.

Oh, you've lost your yarn completely.  Let's re-thread. Now, over, under, over... Remember to pinch. Stick that one... okay, got it.... no, stick that one out... pinch with this finger, not that one... okay....

This is fun, huh Mama?


*****Never under estimate the power of sticking your tongue out to help steer*****
***Really get that elbow working for you, not against you***

Under, around, turn hook and pull through!  Good job!  Oh wait, not that way, the other way. Through there, turn, loosen the yarn just a touch, not that much, and pull.

Mama, Mama, look, I made this ALL BY MYSELF!!!!!

Great job Sweetie!

When can we practice again?

Ohhhhhh, I don't know, in a while?  Someday?  Soon, I promise-ish.

I love to sew!!!!!

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

workin' in a coal mine....quilts in progress

Not really the equivalent of coal mining, but I do have five quilts that are currently in progress.  Two of them have a fairly good chance of reaching completion within the next several months.  The other three...well, let's just say...we'll see.  I like to have a variety of things to work on, because I get bored easily.  I'm fickle.  My heart gets swayed by all the pretty, bright fabrics.

Here's what's happening over here:

My version of Scrappy Trip Around the World   Not exactly scrappy.  I am using Spring House almost exclusively, besides some Kona white.  I love this pretty, bright blanket.  The Mister thinks...too green.  He says he'll look too much like a leprechaun next to it (he is a red head). I told him, it's because he looks like a leprechaun that I married him at all.  So that is clearly not a problem.   This quilt is actually not far from being completed.  I've got the top done and the back done...just gotta quilt it.  It'll be done some time in 2014.

The Mister's Man Quilt.  Which, I still love...even though it's been a year and a half since I began it.  The top stands 1/3 done...if I squint.  And yes, these are neutrals...and the flowers and butterflies are manly flowers and butterflies....and I've got some ocean front property...hey, it's all in the eyes of the beholder.  So, if I think this is manly, then by golly it's frickin manly.  This will be done....sometime later in 2014 than the Scrappy Trip quilt.  And once my loving husband's eyes get over the sting of brightness, he'll have this sweet cozy to sooth him.

The one I'm really excited about!!!  Look, I know it's not cool of me to squeal in blogland, but, whatever....this fabric is gorgeous, so I think I might have a squeal here and now  EEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!  Right.  And, it's a pattern of my own making....that's a double squeal.  I'll spare you the details.  This may be completed before either of the two above, just because I have such a case of crush for it. 

Now for the two that should be done in 2013....both of my own design, too!!

My Oldest's pirate quilt.  Ladies and Gentlemen, I am over 3/4 done with the top.  Yes.  Deep breath and can I get a Hallelujah!!  It is currently hanging, just like this, over my closet in the sewing room.  Mess, surrounding it from other projects, and all!!  My beloved daughter asks me on a semi-regular basis, Mom, when will you seriously stop working on other things and just get my quilt done.

Uggggh.  Doesn't she get me at all?  I'll get to it when I get to it.

She's my late Fall birthday girl...I have decided to have it done by her birthday, so I've gotta make this one my, yesterday.

I do love the atlas fabric and the color scheme is so girly and fun, but not overly Pink!! and I have employed everything I've ever learned about quilting, into this quilt.  This quilt, is the culmination of my...gulp 17 years of experience.  Wanna know what I've learned?  Another time.  But, just know, this is about as close to quilting perfection as I've ever gotten.  Pretty kick ass, if I do say so myself.

A cautionary tale is this little quilt.  Say, you are happily hand quilting away, enjoying family movie night on Sunday, the day is bright and airy and all is right with the world.  Say, you walk away, to do whatever business it is you need to do at that moment....Say, the husband starts yelling, "GINGER!!!"

uh oh

Never a good sign.

Run upstairs What is it, my beloved?  As that is of course, what I call him.

The dog puked.  But, luckily it was on this blanket.

Whaa... I'm sorry, did you say my blanket?  The one I was just lovingly hand quilting for my sweet baby niece?

So, before I had a chance to finish quilting this sweet beauty, or get the binding on, it has now been washed.  This is straight out of the washer.  I decided not to dry it and hopefully....nothing weird happens, as I have never bound a quilt after it has been washed...there may have been fact, I can guarantee it...shrinkage!!!  I used the pieces of Heather Ross's new fabric line, Briar Rose that I like.  I didn't like very many to be honest, and normally I love what she does.  Oh well.  Everybody's got an opinion.

So, this little blanket will probably be the next item I think I am done to get the binding on and hope for no weirdness.

Thanks for reading!


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Stewed Tomatoes...ABC's

Have you heard the term locavore?   It means that you try and eat locally and seasonally as much as possible.  You get food that hasn't traveled hundreds or even thousands of miles to make it your table, so this helps save the Earth.  Good.  You also know you're getting the freshest product available, that has been allowed to ripen naturally and not get gassed into ripeness.  Good.  You get to help support the farmers and economy in your area.  All good.

Now, when you combine the locavore movement with the DIY movement...what do you get?  Bottled tomatoes.  True. It's science.  So, I am excited to be a small part of both.  Also, the best thing about preserving your own food, you know what's in it.  Want to know what's in my tomatoes?  Tomatoes.  And a dash of lemon juice because the FDA says so.

But, what do you do if you've never bottled tomatoes before?  I was thinking about this and figured there are probably people out there, who want to try it, but where the hell do you start, when you're starting from the very beginning?  The beginning.  So, come along, let me give you some canning know-how, hard-earned from a life of helping my mom and grandmother's preserve food.

First thing though, you will need some equipment.  You need at least two large pots.  One of those two needs to be extremely large.  We are talking large.  My largest pot is a 21 quart capacity.  I didn't always have a pot that large, so if all you've got is an 8 quart, that's long as you have several other bowls and pots you can dump cooked tomatoes into.  You need a small pot. You also need a canner, whether this is steam or boiling water, it's okay, just follow the instructions.  You need quart bottles, lids and rings.  These need to be washed and ready to go.  You need a liquid measuring cup, a funnel, a pie tin and a 13 x 9 inch casserole dish.  Yes, a casserole dish and pie tin are essential when it comes to making bottled tomatoes.  Now, come along and see how to do it!!

Canning is a dirty, messy, long process.  Don't be fooled by all the beautiful pictures of rows and rows of bottled goods.  Don't wear your best clothes, be prepared to stand for hours on end and expect a giant mess when you're done.  Fair warning.  It's worth it, but, be it's nice to know what you're getting yourself into.

Step 1: Sort and wash your tomatoes.  Start with a clean sink, and begin going through the box of tomatoes, discarding any that are particularly unpleasant, and washing the good fruit and placing it in the sink for later.  My family just uses one of the tomato boxes as a garbage can.  Don't be afraid of tomatoes that have cracks in them.  These can be cut around.  In fact, if you purposely buy the cracked tomatoes, also known as the seconds, they'll cost you half as much.  Insider trick.

Step 2:  Imagine the pot on the left was filled with tomatoes, gently simmering for a few minutes, until the skins break a bit and you can peel them easily...I forgot to take a picture of that happening.  Sorry.  Once you've washed your tomatoes and  are ready to begin, start some boiling water.  They only boil for a few minutes to soften the skins.  Using a slotted spoon, remove the tomatoes from the boiling water to...

Step 3:  Your casserole dish.  This is where you place all the hot tomatoes and let them cool for a bit, amongst the discarded skins from the previous batch of tomatoes you've just peeled.  Once this gets too full of skins, toss the skins.  It's just easier to work in this one spot.  You can set your tomatoes down and clean them all in the same spot.  As you can see, next to my casserole dish is a large bowl where I put my peeled tomatoes.  Once that gets full I dump them in the stewing pot as seen above next to the simmering water.

Step 4: Peel your tomatoes. Here you go, a step by step on how I do it.  1. Make sure the tomatoes are cool enough to handle.  2.  With a nice sharp paring knife, cut out the core.  Don't cut yourself and don't burn yourself.  3.  Slurrp!  The tomato slipped right out of its skin.  It's not always that easy, but nice when it happens.  4.  Quarter the peeled tomato and toss it into bowl.

Follow a proper canning guide book regarding amount of time to cook.  My Mom, and therefore me, likes to cook our tomatoes longer than is strictly necessary.  Make sure you stir your tomatoes so they don't scorch on the bottom!

Step 5:  In your clean bottles, measure out the appropriate amount of lemon juice.  According to new guidelines, you should put 2 Tbl. lemon juice or vinegar per quart bottle.

Step 6:  Get your pie tin, measuring cup and funnel and place them next to your cooking tomatoes.  Place your empty bottle in the pie plate, put funnel in and start  scooping up tomatoes in measuring cup and carefully pour into bottle.  It will splatter.  Beware.  The reason for placing your equipment in the pie tin is to keep the mess from going everywhere.  It helps....minutely.   Set filled bottle aside and continue filling bottles until you have 7...which is how many you can can at once.

Step 7: In small pot of simmering water, place the necessary amount of un-used rings and let simmer for 10 minutes.
Step 8: Using a damp paper towel or cloth, wipe the rim off.  If there's anything here, the lid will not seal properly!

Step 9: Now, just follow the canning guidelines.  Pay special attention to altitude!  If you're like me and live at a higher elevation, you need to process for a longer time.

Step 10: Label it.  Using a permanent marker, make note what you've made and what year you made it.  Now, I just put the year, because I know the only thing in quart jars in my pantry are stewed tomatoes.  Other people might have salsa or chili sauce or spaghetti sauce...and in that case it could get confusing.

There you go.  Now you have a little knowledge on what equipment to use and how to use it, I feel secure in unleashing you to the farmer's markets for your own boxes of tomatoes.  And this coming winter imagine all the pots of soup and spaghetti and chilli you get to make, all from your own bottled tomatoes.  It's worth it.

Thanks for reading!

Shared here:
Mellywood's Mansion


Monday, September 9, 2013

How to make a bunting...Easy...really! Oh, and the winner of the giveaway is announced!

They're everywhere.  Buntings.  They don't look particularly hard, but you've never made one and maybe would like to see how simple they are.  Don't need a template.  Don't need bias tape.  Just some fabric, some ribbon, cutting implements and sewing machine....and baby booties, if ya got em!

Let's get started...

Decide how big you want your flags.  I chose 7 inches long and 5 inches wide at the base.

As long as you can line your ruler up correctly, cutting out these flags is a cinch and quick!

1: Cut your piece of fabric 7" wide, by however long, around 13" or so (depending how many triangles you want to make out of a particular piece of fabric), and square up the end nice and straight.

2:  Line up your fabric as evenly as possible on your mat.  At the top of the fabric, make sure the very edge of the ruler, intersects the very top point of the fabric.

3. Now working at the bottom edge of the fabric... you are going to cut a line 2.5" in from your squared edge, so you need to align your ruler's 1/2" mark 3 inches in, while keeping the ruler on it's angle.  This is so your ruler will be nice and straight and the final cut will be 2.5" in from the edge, and you'll have the first half of a triangle.  We're doing a 5" base, remeber?  So 2.5" is half of 5.  Okay, making sure your ruler is lined up, cut.

4.  Swing your ruler the other way, and commence 2nd angle.  This time make sure the bottom of your ruler sharply intersects the bottom point, make sure the top of your ruler is now 5" to the side of the first cut.  Cut.  You have a perfect triangle.  Continue cutting flags.  Swing the ruler the other way, making sure it's 5" apart.  Line up your points and cut!  Make as many as you need for your bunting.  My ribbon is 6 feet long and I have 9 flags as well as 8 booties.  Adjust accordingly.

5.  Cut backs for your flags.  They need to be double sided.  I may have used this old pillow case.

6.  Pin fronts and backs together.  Sew a straight seam, 1/4" from the edge...I did not sew the top edge, it will get sewn in a minute.

7.  Pink the edges so they don't fray too much.

8.  Evenly space your flags.  Pin in place on your ribbon, making sure they are 1/4" above the bottom edge of the ribbon.

9.  Sew flags in place, using a 1/8" seam. 

10.  Fold over the top edge of the ribbon, and stitch it in place.

You're done.  Unless you want to sew some dangling chads, I mean, dangling baby booties on.

Hang and enjoy.  This project really only took 30 minutes, max.  I was pleasantly surprised by how quick and easy it was.  I will be making buntings for everything, from now on!

Thanks for reading!

Oh want to know the winner of my sweet 1st giveaway!!

Okay, drum roll please...

Denise M.  Please contact me and let me know your Email address and we'll go from there!!

Thanks again everybody!!


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Pressure to Impress...Wicker Baby Booty Project...And our 1st Giveaway!

The agony of anticipation.  The pain of having to be patient.  The thrill of the reveal.

Yeah...wicker baby booties.  Oh the project opportunites...such a versatile product. Endless possibilities.  See why I have a million wicker baby booties in the first place.

I've had many people tell me they can't wait to see what I did with the baby booties to try and entice people to buy them at my yard sale a couple weeks ago...urrmmm...I hope I don't disappoint....they are wicker baby booties, after all...

Ohhh lala!!  That's right.  I have made baby shower decor with the baby booties.  Baby Booty Bunting.  I spray painted the booties with some Krylon Watermelon spray paint.  A cute, bright color and sewed up the bunting which was surprisingly quick and easy.  I've never made a bunting before and I was nervous because I didn't have bias tape, just some sheer ribbon and worried it wouldn't work.  It worked great!   Then I just used some DMC floss and sewed the booties on.

One upside of spray painting wicker booties....the latest in manicure stylishness!  The saleslady at the mall about had a conniption when she saw my "natural" nails and I still refused her attentions to give me the finest nail buffer around.  Leave me alone, lady!!!!  I said back off.  My nails are fine, thank you very much.

I quite enjoyed fabric shopping my stash for this little project.  I wanted to go with pink, red, white and aqua...the aqua mainly because I was using blue ribbon.  But, I think it is adorable and really like the hanging booties.  And the upside with this little project is, My Youngest cannot wait for me to hang this in her bedroom.  See, and I didn't think I'd have any use for the booties.  Interior design possibilities abound!  My Oldest also wants a bunting now...I don't think I'm attaching booties to her's though.

Then I made these little favors to entice people to buy my booties (thanks again lady whose sister isn't even pregnant, but she wants to be prepared for when the blessed event does occur and she can throw a shower on the cheap).

Don't have cellophane?  No problem!

Baggy.  Fill with Candies.  Tie.  Cut.  Prettiness.

When choosing what to tie these with, go with whatever is handy at late:30.  This can be garden twine, ribbon...maybe one of those twisty things on the bread bags, after having made a million yard sale signs, anything was looking good.  Scrunch the candies in the booty and call it done! Super easy shower favor.  Come on!!  Who doesn't want this at their next baby shower. 

I have said booty and booties many times now in this post.  The question is...will I now get rejected for my ads because of adult content?  Tricky.  I mean, I am excited that in 2 years I will get a check from them, so I am crossing my fingers for not.

Giveaway Time!!!!  I need you to tell me what you would do with this amazing product.  The prizes are Grand!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

First giveaway...TOMORROW!!

Pssstttt...I'm giving everyone who comes here a heads up.  I know I promised to reveal my baby booty projects today, but I changed my mind.  Instead, I decided to show you the goods tomorrow, and include a giveaway!!!

Yup.  My first ever giveaway.  So, I hope you come back tomorrow and the anticipation won't do you in.

Thanks for reading!!!


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Wicker Baby Booties For Sale....Cheap Cheap!

Let's say you have an opportunity for your husband to raid a craft store that's going out of business and you can take WHATEVER you want.  Amigurumi-makers out there, you can score eyeballs!!!  There are patterns galore, doll parts, artsy stuff, there's fake flowers and little birdies and goodness only knows what!

Now, let's say you are mother to a toddler and a nursing infant, so you feel that rummaging around a giant warehouse searching for elusive craft treasures, with your weens in tow, isn't exactly your idea of fun, so off you send your husband with the hopes of scoring amazing things!  Fabulous things!  Things you can craft to your heart's extent with, and hopefully sell some of what you got and make piles and piles of money!!!! 

Enter reality, stage left.

I'm sorry, I didn't hear you correctly....You brought home what?

Oh, these super wicker baby booties.  Aren't they nifty!  I am pretty sure there are people ready to line up at our door, begging to buy these!!  I got about a million of them!!!!

To do what with?

Oh, I don't know, crafty stuff.  Come on, there's lots of things you can do with these.  Everybody is going to want them.


****note**** When given the task to raid a warehouse full of crafting goodness,  Do Not Send Husbands.  In his defense, he was not alone in making these decisions.  Another husband was with him.  Oh, and one more note, The Mister has probably never actually used the word "nifty". Creative license.

Many years later....ask me how many of these baby booties we have sold....Hmmmmm....about 36, because we had a yard sale last week and I practically begged people to take them off my hands.

To give you an idea how small they are.  The cup next to the booty is a plastic cup you would give a child when at a picnic.  Very small.  Now, this doesn't mean these booties aren't totally cute and could be completely useful...just, you have to be the right person.  AKA somebody who is throwing a baby shower and wants to use them as favors, filled with candy.  Or somebody who knows somebody who's having a baby and wants to attach them to the present as a cute touch.  You could even attach them to a baby's Christmas present.  Very cute, just....not many people need miniature wicker baby booties.

I'll show you what I made with them, to give my people at the yard sale an idea of what can be done, tomorrow.  I am also going to host a contest in the next month or so to see what ideas you out there in blogville come up with.  The prize will be GRAND!!!  (probably a box of baby booties for your own use.)  Stay tuned for details.

If you, yes you reading this blog, want some, please contact me.  I am more than happy to sell you some and ship them to your location.  Cheap.

Thanks for reading!

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