October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Today is the day! I have been blogging everyday for the last month. It was a very interesting experience to say the least. I enjoyed being able to make food and projects that I feel inspired to do but usually write down to do "somewhere down the line". The downside to blogging daily is that I don't have enough time or energy in the day to keep up with strong content. I have managed to write at least one post for every day of the month even if it was not posted on the specific day it was meant for. I think I work better with out such a demand. I do love a challenge and I can work well under pressure but it is not how I want to live every day.

I can definitely say that, while I like to write and share my ideas, I would rather spend more time with my family and working on projects. I still am going to keep blogging like I always have but will sleep well knowing I do not NEED to blog tomorrow! Thank you for reading! Check back in soon for some November craft projects and recipes.


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October 30, 2012

Old shirt upgrade

In keeping with my theme of everything is new again... I figured I might as well try to spruce up some stuff that was destine for donation for a second chance in my closet. I can't remember the last time I bought any new clothes and I have been getting rather board with the ones I have. Don't get me wrong, I am very thankful that I have any clothes at all and I have been blessed in the ways I have. I just like some variety! The seasons are changing and so must I! 

I had to adjust the length of the neckline due to the trim being a little too short and the depth being a little longer than I prefer.
I took it up about two inches. Pin trim in place than sew down.
Voila`! Simple as that! I still plan to do some more work to this shirt as I have stained and bleach spots in different places, so I got to figure out something. Maybe screen printing???



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Halloween Wall Hanging - Part 2

I started doing this project earlier in the month, got a little distracted and procrastinated a lot. I finally finished the felt wall hanging. I love the way it turned out and now I have a Halloween decoration for years to come that is unique and personal because I made it. If you want to make your own decoration for any holiday see my quick instructions below.



If you want to make some thing like this you will need:

Felt of various colors
Embroidery floss
Embroidery needle
Wooden dowel
Glue gun and glue
Ribbon
Stuffing (optional)

First figure out what you want to do. I knew I would be staying with in the size of one sheet of felt. With my perimeter set I started cutting out shapes. I picked similar colors of floss to do the outlining of each shape. Once about 3/4 of the way around the shape with your outline stitches stuff with filling then finish sewing down.

Next you repeat with each remaining shape. I also added some ascents like grass, the lines on the bat and faces on the pumpkins. (I do recommend sewing any designs on before sewing them down.). When completely finished with the stitching, hot glue another felt peice to the back the same size as the main body peice. This will cover the back of your stiches and make more sturdy. Glue top of felt over the wooden dowl then add ribbon to hide seam between front and back. And you're done!

  

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October 28, 2012

Toasting pumpkin seeds

Carving pumpkins and eating the seeds is a tradition for our family. After carving our pumpkins we always save the seeds and then roast them! If you have never done so your missing out! Your first step is to scoop out all the seeds then separate from the goo. Rinse in water then spread onto cookie sheet with vegetable oil. Bake on low heat (About 200 degrees) for 45-60 minutes. Sprinkle on seasonings if desired and enjoy. Finished seeds should be crisp but not brittle. I like to eat them shell and all! Do you have a tradition for Halloween?





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October 27, 2012

Carving pumpkins

This year I decided to carve a white pumpkin instead of the traditional orange. My husband thinks it looks like an alien but I thought it was fun do something a little different.

I have noticed Lumina pumpkins have been a lot more popular this last few years.
So I figured I would give it a shot.
They cut easily and have a light green inner flesh. I already have some good ideas for next year!
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October 26, 2012

Refreshing Kale

If you have been reading my blogs for any length of you know that my family and I like to juice fresh fruits and vegetables. One problem we tend to encounter is using everything before it spoils.  After a trick my mom taught me I am able to save green leafy vegetables for an extra week or so. Similar to flowers, cut the bottom 1/4 inch off. Store in a glass of water in the refrigerator until ready to use. The tall glass helps keep the leaves upright and straight. I have found this method also helps already drooping leaves perk back up. Let me know if you have any food saving tips I can try.
 
 
 

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October 25, 2012

Dehydrating Pineapple

When I first embarked on the idea dehydrating pineapple when I was getting craving for it one day. I thought it would be much cheaper than buying a small bag or buying in bulk at $6.99 a pound. Needless to say I don't know what I was thinking. LOL. Ya see, dehydrated pineapple does not really keep it's shape like the "dried" pineapple found at the grocery store. For some reason in my mind I was thinking , "Yea! It is going to be just like the prepackaged kind for a fraction of the price."

The process of drying fruit is different than dehydrating fruit. So what I did was dehydrate it. Don't get me wrong it is still delicious and a  great little snack or topping, just not was I was wanting at that moment. So he is a brief how-to on dehydrating pineapple.



Drain pineapple from cans / jars.

Set aside juice to drink or use later.

Lay out pineapple evenly among the dehydrator trays.

Dehydrate for about 10 hours on Low (about 200 degrees)



 Once you are all done you will have something like this...



I used 4 20 ounces cans of pineapple with no sugar added. I was able to drain about 2 1/2 cups of juice and a yield of 3 cups of fruit (seen above).


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October 24, 2012

Jean upgrade

 
As I have been working on mending clothes this last couple days I keep finding more and more rips, or soon to be rips in my jeans. Since the main structure of the jeans is still good and strong I have taken on stopping the rips before they get any worse. I have found the simplest way to do so is to make it look intentional like some fashion jeans. I find it ridiculous to spend $50 plus on  some jeans that are already worn out or have holes in them. I get holes in my jeans the good old fashion way, wearing them.

 
So with this idea in mind to just make my warn down jeans look like a hundred bucks, I have been sewing over the worn parts with a different color thread. I try to make it coordinate with the other stitching already on the seems so it look like they came that way. This is nothing new really, I have been doing this for a couple years. I just happen to find an old paid of jeans that fit again and saw that they could use some TLC. The method is to just run the sewing machine back and forth over the area to repair. It is more like a glorified free hand zig-zag stitch.

Do you have any mending or clothes repairing methods? Let me know in the comments!


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October 23, 2012

Light heavy breakfast

When I think of pancakes, I think of a delicious stack of a buttery loggers breakfast smoothered in a rich maple syrup. Makes my mouth water thinking about it but that is as far as it gets. I really try to make a cautious effort to not give in into my fat girl cravings. I am little by no means, and I am happy with who I am. But I definately want my insides to be health, thus no giant stack hotcakes.

I opt for two medium size blueberry pancakes with honey on top, a 1/2 C of cottage cheese and 2 peices of bacon. I still feel like I am getting my diner breakfast with out the extras like hasbrowns, toast, sausage, eggs etc. I love all those things too. Just not all in one sitting.

 
 
Do you have a favorite breakfast?  Let me know in the comments!
 
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October 22, 2012

Mending clothes

Cutting costs does not have to be hard. Mending clothes is not always enjoyable, however it is necessary. Something as basic as mending holes, rip, tears and lost seems is a simple way to start. You don't even need to have a sewing machine. Most of the time if you keep up with mending regularly you can stop any problems before they get too big, so a needle and thread is all that is needed.

My husband is an tradesman and constantly comes homes with all sorts of damage to his clothes. I have been trying to make it a habit to inspect his clothing as I fold laundry. As soon as I see a problem I set it aside.  About every other month I go through the pile of clothes to be mended. I think a good gauge is the height of my sewing machine. Once the stack is level with the machine I get to work.

From my experience I have found that sometimes and iron on patch works better then just sewing an area shut. I like to go over the patch with the sewing machine if I can for extra stability. I enjoy using a machine to speed up this process but every now and then I feel that I can work more detailed by hand. Do you repair your own clothes? What methods do you like best? Let me know in the comments!


 
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October 21, 2012

Chicken-Pot-Roast Potatoes

  
Fumbling through the kitchen searching for something to make for dinner I came across left overs from earlier in the week. I had made chicken pot pie and also pot roast. I had the filling from the pot pie and the potatoes from the pot roast. Everything was seasoned already, I just needed to combine them some how. So I came up with chicken-pot-roast potatoes.

Pot pie filling topped with potato
 
Chicken pot pie filling
Place pot pie filling in oven safe dish.

Whip potatoes, 1/4 C sour cream and 1/4 C milk until smooth.

Top pot pie filling with potatoes then bake at 300 degrees or until potatoes become golden brown.


You can add some butter to the top of the the potatoes if desired. Other wise your done! 

The pot pie filling consists of peas, carrots, onion, butter, flour, chicken, broth, seasonings.

The potatoes were cooked with a beef roast, carrots and onions.


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October 20, 2012

Frame Jewelry Rack


I have been looking for a cheap or free solution to storing my jewelry that does not look cheap or free, but have come up unsuccessful thus far. I have seen people make racks out of wood frames and screen. So I thought I would give it a whirl. I searched for the perfect kind of screen that would work for the type of project I was attempting. I wanted to make something that would be durable and not rust, seeing as how I would be storing it in my bathroom. I am out of counter and dresser space so figured it would be nice to hang on the wall.

What else goes great on a wall? Pictures frames! I had a long picture frame that the glass had broken in. The frame was destine for donation anyway so it was worth giving this project a shot. Now that I had the frame, I needed the screen. I looked at what I already had, but it was just plastic window screen. It was a little too light weight and I was afraid it would not support the weight of all the jewelry. I looked at window screen of metal but felt it was still a little flimsy. I moved onto screen for kitchens that was really cool. Needless to say it was not worth the bacon. Lastly I tried chicken wire. Not the traditional hexagonal shaped wire but some that was a grid of 1/4 inch squares. Thirty minutes later I had a jewelry rack!


***I will work on writting up a tutorial if anyone
is interested in making one of your own.***

Thanks for reading!
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October 19, 2012

I aint 'fraid no ghost!

I strongly believe that decorations should be fun. Everyone has a different definition of fun but it is whatever you consider fun. I consider things that are neat, organized and stylish "fun". I don't know what that says about me, just a smidgen of OCD I guess.

Anyway here is what you will need to make your own FUN ghost!

 

I guess he was more scared of my dirty dishes
Cheese Cloth Ghost
Cheese Cloth
Liquid starch
Balloon
Foam brush or sponge
Scissors
Hot glue or glue dots
Decorations (things for eyes, mouth or accessories)

Blow up balloon to desired size. Secure balloon in place so it does not move too much when adding layers. If you are using a larger balloon you can rest on top of a tall glass and tape down to hold it in place.

Brush liquid starch onto balloon. Lay piece of cheese cloth over top then brush more start over cloth completely covering. Let dry.

Repeat 3 more times letting it dry completely between layers.


***Keep in mind how you are going to display your ghost.
If you want to hang it, think about fishing line because it is clear and will give more of the illusion of  floating. Figure out if you want you ghost to have long hanging pieces or not. If you do not put starch on a specific area it will stay more pliable and soft.***

Once dried you can pop balloon and remove. You are now ready to decorate you ghost. Have fun and I would love to see pictures of your ghosts!

***Special thanks to Mr. Hassell for the construction of the little scaredy ghost seen above***

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October 18, 2012

Saving seeds

I do not have a house of my own yet , but my family and I have been trying to prepare for when that time comes for us. One thing I feel is important is knowing where our food comes from. We enjoy planting and harvesting food and know we will have a chance to do that once we get into a home. Until that time we are finding little ways to get in the habit of saving seeds for the following year.

This may seem pointless to some. "You can just buy more seeds next year." I have heard from people when I mention saving seeds but there is no guarantee that the seeds you buy will be available, not genetically modified or are not suicide seeds. For these reasons I am trying to learn how to do it myself. ( If you are not familiar with "Suicide seeds"  it is when the plants are modified to only yield a crop for one season, then you are forced to buy more seeds the following years.) I encourage you to do some research or watch films like Food Inc. for more information on this horrendous practice.

If you want to start saving your own seeds here is some tip on how to get started.




Start by removing the seeds from your fruit or vegetable. I have found that snapping a core of an apple for example will allow you to get the seeds out without worrying about cutting into them with a knife.



 Honeycrisp apple, Golden Delicious apple, Braeburn apple
D'Anjou pear, Gala apple, Granny Smith Apple 




After you get the seeds out, set in dry area for a few days to make sure the moisture is out so they do not mold.




For saving squash seeds I like to use an ice cream scoop to take them out without harming the seeds. It also makes cooking the squash easy because it makes the inside nice and clean with minimal effort. Make sure to wash thoroughly first then set aside to dry.


Once you have prepared your seeds for storage, keep in a envelope or jar. If your seeds are not completely dry it can lead to molding so it is worth keeping them out to dry for an extra day to make sure.

I am by no means an expert in saving seeds so if you are interested you may want to do additional research or speak to someone who has more experience in planting or gardening. Most nurseries and garden store have knowledgeable people there to help you. If you have any questions or topics you would like me to blog about let me know!


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October 17, 2012

Halloween Wall Hanging - Part 1

If any of you were reading my blog during the spring you might remember a St. Patrick's day wall hanging. Here is a link to that post if you want to check it out. I am working on something similar but totally different. Well, not really. It is the same idea just a different holiday. The only difference is now I know what I am doing and how to make it so much better! I hope so anyway, if not at least I tried and then will just have a mediocre decoration.

Here is what I have started so far...



I am using a few pieces of different colored felt, a large needle meant for embroidery and embroidery floss.

So far I have cut a couple basic shapes and are trying to figure out where to place them. I have started stitching a little bit around the larger pumpkin. At this point I will start to stuff the pumpkin to give it some dimension. Check back in a few days to see the finish wall hanging.


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October 16, 2012

1 tortilla, 2 tortilla, 3 tortilla, floor!

OK so I kinda ripped that off the tequila joke but just go with it! We did end up with some tortilla on the floor that Zion (our dog) gladly helped clean up, thanks to the O who is learning to share. It is Mexican Monday in this household. I say that with all due respect, I love food from south of the border. We ended up just making tacos but the flavors are what was important. Corn, beans, meat and tortillas is what we were working with but I ended up full and satisfied.

The corn, beans and meat was nothing special but we did make homemade tortillas. And by we, I meant my husband made them. We have tried making them before but it has never come out quite right. But tonight they were very good! So from here on out it is my husbands job make the tortillas.

If you want to make your own, try this recipe...

 
Tortillas
 
              2 C Self Rising flour
 
1 1/4 - 1/2 C Water
 
             1/4 t Salt (optional)
 
Slowly combine flour and water into dough. pull off piece about the size of a golf ball. Roll into ball in hand then roll out on floured surface until desired thickness.
 
In a hot pan with a little vegetable oil, cook on both sides until bubbles turn light brown and  get toasted. Now you can eat!
 
Simple as that, but taste so good. Store in plastic bag to keep soft.
 
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October 15, 2012

Shiny Pumpkins

When I decorate for the holidays I like to make things that are not only cheap but can be kept displayed for as long as possible. Finding a balance of material and worth. I have seen projects similar to this but wanted to give some pointers to anyone else who may want to attempt making decoupaged pumpkins.


You will need:

Tissue paper
Styrofoam pumpkin
Decoupage glue
Foam paint brush


To start, cut strips of tissue paper about one inch by five inches. Brush glue onto pumpkin smoothly and lay down strips of paper. Smooth out with brush, continue this process until entire surface is covered. If second or third layer is needed, wait until first layer is completely dry. Once pumpkin is completed. Brush over one final layer of glue.

I used a matte finish glue so the main part that shone is the gold metallic areas. I found that strips worked better then one large piece. When pieces of tissue paper are too large it does not lay smoothly and will look lumpy or wrinkly. Let me know if you have any projects you would like me to attempt.


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October 14, 2012

Cold weather and crocheting

When the weather changes I always feel compelled to pull out more indoor projects that focus around feeling cozy. I have knitted and crocheted before but just the absolute basics. I am trying to learn something new to me so I am attempting to make Granny Squares. Once I get enough done I will piece together to make a blanket. We will see how it goes. Here is to the Fall!

 
I am using an Acrylic yarn, alternating verigated with solid yarns.
 Here is what I have gotten done so far.
 
 
 
 
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October 13, 2012

Almond Cod Cakes

Let me just start by saying I have never made fish cakes and I really wanted to follow a recipe but I was try to avoid going to the grocery store for just one or two things. So this is a highly experimental recipe and I encourage anyone to help me make it better by leaving me comment below.



Almond Cod Cakes
3 4 oz Cod fillets
   3 C sliver almonds
   1Egg
   2 T Mayonnaise
1/2 T Old Bay seasoning mix
   1 T Lemon Juice
1/3 C Flour
 1/4 t Cheyenne Pepper



Cut up Cod and place in bowl, set aside. Put almonds in food processor / blender, mix until even amount is chopped up. A variety of sizes is a nice mix.

Whisk mayo, lemon juice, flour, egg and seasonings together then fold in Cod. After well combine,stir in 2 C of almonds. Cover and put in refrigerator for one hour.

Spread remaining almonds on parchment or wax paper. Form Cod into patties and coat in almonds.

In a cast iron pan warm 1/2 C butter enough to cook the cakes.

Once browned on both sides set on rack until ready to eat.

Sauce:
1/4 C Canola oil
2 t Dijon Mustard
1 t Dried Dill
2 t Lemon juice
1/4 t Salt
2 T Mayonnaise

For the sauce, whisk together and chill until ready to eat.

I served with Quinoa. Cook with 12oz vegetable broth to 1 C Quinoa and salt to taste.


It was ok, but definitely can use some help. I would love to have your input.

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October 12, 2012

Dehydrator Tray Liners

After dehydrating some food recently I realized it would be nice if the trays had a removable liner or at least the gaps between the plastic was smaller so small things did not fall though. I had seen some other people had liners that looked homemade so I figured I would give it a shot. Homemade tends to be cheaper and that is kind of my thing.

Here is what you will need:
 
tray, scissors, a marker, plastic canvas

First measure the inside of your tray. Mine measured 13 inches in diameter. The largest plastic canvas I could find at my local craft store was 10.5 inches X 13.5 inches.  So it was just shy of using one sheet. Thankfully the sheets were only $0.59 each. So total this project cost under $5.



Over layed the canvas on my tray then traced
the circle with a permanent marker.


Cut out the half circle then trimmed the edges to fit
inside of the tray without bunching.




Once you have gotten your outer circle fit you can now
 repeat the same method for the inner circle.







You can clean up any marker on the edges with rubbing alcohol. Just make sure to wash your trays before using.







Simple as that you are done!

Repeat this process for the other half of your tray
 and for each subsequent tray in your dehydrator.
 
If you have a square dehydrator your job is more simple but you will follow the same process. Let me know if you have any other simple solutions or craft / home problems you need help with.
 
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October 11, 2012

Triple Threat Spinach Dip

Most people who enjoy cooking have a "go-to" recipe when ever they have a potluck or get together. Spinach dip is one of mine. I am always trying to tweak it just a bit to keep it fresh. I usually bake it but most recently I did things a little different and it was great as a cold dip too. This recipe first started when I was in college. A couple of friends and I were broke and hungry. We each had one or two ingredients. We ended up using string cheese and eating it on wheat crackers because that was all we had at the time. It has since evolved into what it is today.




Spinach Dip

 1 1/2 C Fresh spinach or one 10-12oz package of frozen, thawed and drained
    1/2 C Sour Cream
    1/2 C Mayonnaise
       1 C Peppers of choice, diced
    1/2 C Onion, diced
    2-3 Cloves of garlic or 1 T garlic powder
         Salt and pepper to taste
       1 pkg of shredded Italian cheese (about 2 C) 1C for filling, 1C for topping

Method #1: Chop up all the veggies and spinach then fold everything together and sprinkle with 1 C of cheese on top. Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes or until cheese is melted in an oven safe dish.

Method #2: Chop veggies and spinach into pieces then put all ingredients food processor/ blender. Chill until you are ready to serve.

Method #3: Chop veggies and spinach into pieces then put all ingredients food processor/ blender (except 1 C of spinach). Pour dip into oven safe dish then sprinkle remaining cheese on top and bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes or until cheese is melted.

 With any of these methods serve with bread (toasted or fresh), crackers or veggies.This has always been a winner for me. Try it out and tell me what you think.


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October 10, 2012

Acorn Squash

Squash are defined as a vegetable growing from a vine on the ground. Their are many different kinds available this time of year. One of the most common and a favorite in our home is the Acorn Squash. It tends to be dark green and orange with the distinct "acorn" shape. The meat inside is bright orange or yellow and can be a bit stringy if over ripe but is sweet tasting. Like most squash, acorn is full of fiber and is a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, Calcium, Magnesium and Potassium.*

Acorn squash can easily be stored after being harvested for a couple months as long as it is in a cool dry place. Avoid the refrigerator or it can spoil or become mushy.

Cooking this particular squash is very easy and is great treat on cool fall evenings. You can prepare it for a savory meal but we tend to eat it more like a dessert with butter and brown sugar. In an effort cut out unnecessary fat and calories I have been trying to find different ways to get my sweet fix.



Cooking squash:

1.  No matter how you choose to prepare your squash, start by washing the
     outside to get any dirt or wax off.




2.  Cut in half and scoop out seeds.
(I find that an ice cream scoop works best)



3.  In a glass dish fill with water about 1/4 inch deep. Place halves cut side down.






4.  Bake for about 40 minutes at 375 degrees or until tender. (To check to see if
done stick with fork, if it goes into squash without resistance it is done.)

5.  Scoop out meat of the squash from the outer skin.


6.  Top one half of squash with one tablespoon of butter, one tablespoon of amber agave, 1/4 C raisins and a dusting of cinnamon.

Also try honey as an alternative to agave. My husband likes 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of brown sugar. The beauty of this dish is that it is unique to you!


 * www.truestarhealth.com

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