Thursday, October 28, 2010

Burp Cloths

I wanted to make a baby gift for a friend and burp cloths came to mind! From what I've seen, one can never have too many!

At first, I thought I'd decorate some plain cloth diapers then decided to just use some cotton fabric I had on hand and use a soft and absorbent fabric for the backing.

These were so much fun to make and I think they turned out super cute!  I ended up making two sets- red and blue baseball theme for my friend's baby boy and a gender neutral gingham set to keep at my house for when I babysit. The little girl I'm currently caring for is quite the spitter so these will get used!  I used blue chenille/terrycloth for the backing on all of them.

What's your favorite baby gift to make and/or give?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Preparing For Winter: Washing Blankets

On a chilly day last week, I pulled out a blanket to snuggle up in.

Along with the warmth, I was greeted with a somewhat musty smell from being packed up all summer. Less than pleasant!

Today I  ran my pile of throw blankets through the laundry.

Fresh-smelling and clean. Ready for cooler days ahead!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Lunch Is In The Freezer!

From left to right: Pizza Pockets, Bean Burritos, Savory Hand Pies

From about 2 hours of work, my freezer now holds 11 pizza pockets, 10 bean burritos and 15 savory hand pies. I'm freezing all of these flat on cookie sheets and then will transfer them to freezer bags. A crock pot of chili is also waiting to be frozen in meal sized portions.

The savory hand pies were a new recipe from Southern Living magazine.  I ended up with 21 very small pies. They are so cute! We wanted to try them so we baked a few for lunch. They are delicious! So yummy! They reminded us of chicken pot pie. Yum! I recommend making these. Especially if you have leftovers from a meat and mashed potato dinner. I planned to make mashed potatoes for supper last night just so I'd have some mashed potatoes on hand for this recipe.These would be good with almost any kind of meat and veggie combo. The mashed potatoes and cream cheese added a nice creamy texture. I will probably make them bigger next time, though!

I must say how much I enjoyed working with store-bought pie dough! So much easier and less time-consuming than making my own. This may be the first time that I've purchased pie crusts. Can you believe it?

So far, this weekly small freezer cooking plan is working out really well for me! 

I'll be taking a break from freezer cooking next week because of other plans but will be back the next week doing a few main dishes and meats. Hope you'll join me then!

Small Freezer Cooking Day Plans- Lunches

I'm planning to do another small freezer cooking day today. This time, focusing on some ready-to-eat lunch options.

Investing a few hours in cooking today will save me lots of time and money later!

My freezer cooking plan for today:

This list shouldn't be too time-consuming being that I'm not preparing any kind of dough from scratch. Woohoo! However, I'm not as organized for today as I was for last week's cooking session, so time will tell!

I'll be back later with the results.

What are your favorite easy lunches?

Monday, October 25, 2010

How To Make A Simple Fruit Syrup- Vlog

Finally, as promised- the "How To Make Fruit Syrup" vlog we made last week. I've been wanting to try a cooking video and this seemed like a good recipe to try it out on!

Since we shot this video right in the middle of a freezer cooking session, this is real life, folks! No fixing up the kitchen to make it "video friendly." I did do a quick brushing of the hair and a quick check to be sure I didn't have boogers in my nose, though.

Enjoy the vlog!

For easy reference, here is the recipe for the fruit syrup:

Combine and bring to boil:
1 cup water
1 cup fruit (fresh or frozen)
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice

In separate bowl, mix 2 tablespoons cornstarch and 1/2 cup water. Stir into boiling liquid.

Lower heat and stir frequently, until mixture is thickened. When right consistency, add another cup of fruit.

Serve over pancakes or waffles.

**This recipe freezes well.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Snapshots Of My Life

Love these bunny slippers and the baby girl who wears them!

My first attempt at making a Pizza Braid. Yum! Ours was filled with ground beef, onions, green peppers, black olives, tomato sauce, spices and cheese.

A giant birthday cookie for a little friend.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Christmas Is Coming: Princess Ballerina Skirt and Purse

Christmas is coming! In the coming weeks, I'll be sharing some of my homemade gifts, decorations and goodies. I like to make a lot of our gifts each year and I try to keep things fairly simple and frugal, as well.
The first handmade gift for this Christmas is a little girl's skirt with matching purse for our 6 year old niece. She's the princess of the family and loves ballet, dresses and all things pink, so when I saw this awesome princess/ballerina fabric, I knew I needed to make her a skirt!

The skirt came together quickly. I've made plenty of skirts for myself so I knew how to construct it although  I did consult an online tutorial (which unfortunately I cannot locate right now; I'll keep trying) for basic cutting instructions and adapted the measurements accordingly. I added my own touches with the pockets and band around the hem.

After the skirt was completed, I couldn't stop myself from  creating a matching purse. I tweaked this pouch pattern to make what I had in mind.

This gift was so much fun to sew and I'm pretty sure the Princess will approve!

Cost Breakdown:
Fabric: approximately $6.00, although I didn't use quite all of it.
Ribbon, button, elastic loop closure and lining fabric for purse were all from my stash.
About 2 hours of time for completing both projects.

What handmade gifts have you made or are planning to make for Christmas this year?

**This post is a part of Frugal Fridays and Proverbs 31 Living's Have A Handmade Christmas Carnival!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

SALE In My Etsy Shop

I'm having a huge clearance sale in my Etsy shop, The Gingham Cottage, to move out older listings and make room for new ones!

Please take a look. I really want all of this stuff to go!!! Most items are half-price.

I will refund shipping on all local orders and will personally deliver your order to you for free.

Thank you!

Veggie Wraps with Olive Spread

This is an easy and yummy lunch option and one of our favorites!

Mix about 1/2 cup (or more) black olives with an 8 oz. block of cream cheese. (Sliced olives blend better than whole olives.)  Spread on tortillas or flatbread. Add your choice of chopped veggies and roll up and eat!

Some of our favorite veggies for this are:

  • grated carrots
  • chopped red onion
  • chopped tomatoes
  • chopped green pepper
  • chopped cucumber
These can get a little messy if filled really full, so if we're taking these on the road, I'll usually just add grated carrots and then eat some cut-up veggies on the side.

I'm sure you could omit the olives should you care to and use plain or flavored cream cheese or even add other veggies to the filling. Shredded cheddar cheese or even meat could also be added. 

The sky's the limit!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Crispy Potato Cubes

Although these may look like croutons, they are not.

These are tasty, crispy potato cubes! My sister served these when we visited them about a month ago. Since then, I made these twice. Everyone I've served these to have devoured them!

I've never been good at making oven fries or potato wedges. But these I can do. They turn out crispy on the outside and soft on the inside every time.

The only changes that I would make to the recipe is the herbs and spices. I used what I had on hand- basil, oregano and garlic powder and it tasted great. I also found that it took around 45 minutes to bake.


Crispy Potato Cubes- serves 4 
Recipe from Taste of Home


  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 5 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 bay leaf


  • In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the flour, salt, thyme, marjoram and pepper. Add potatoes; seal bag and shake to coat. Pour butter into a 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish; stir in the garlic. Add potatoes and bay leaf.
  • Cover and bake at 450° for 20 minutes. Uncover and stir; bake 15-20 minutes longer or until potatoes are lightly browned and tender. Discard bay leaf.

Dollar Store Birthday Gift

Needing a gift for a 6 year old Toy Story fanatic, I popped into Target to see if they would have anything to fit in my $5 budget.

They did not, which I was not surprised about, so I quickly drove down the street to The Dollar Tree.

It took a little searching through the whole store, but I was able to find a number of Toy Story themed items and narrowed down my selection to a 2 set pack of War and Go Fish! games, a puzzle, and a set of stamps.

Four dollars plus tax bought all three gift items plus a little basket to double as gift wrap and part of the gift.

Another point for the dollar store!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Breakfast Freezer Cooking Update

My small breakfast freezer cooking day went off without a hitch and was completed within about 3 hours this morning.

As with a lot of tasks, a few minutes of preparation can often make all the difference!
Premixed dry ingredients.

Last night's prep work included:
  • Feeding my sourdough starter so it would be ready to go in the morning.
  • Pureed peaches for oatmeal peach muffins.
  • Making sure any frozen items(fruit, extra flour) were brought in from the freezer.
  • Pre-mixing (and labeling!) dry ingredients for muffins and bread in bowls large enough for mixing. 
  • Gathering all recipes needed.
It is also helpful to gather pans and mixing bowls needed. I forgot this time.

My order of operations:

  1. Start Pilgrims' Bread and set aside to rise.
  2. Make Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins.
  3. Make Oatmeal Peach Muffins.
  4. Shape bread dough into loaves and set aside to rise.
  5. Wash dishes.
  6. Mix waffle batter and begin making waffles.
  7. Bake bread.
  8. Finish waffles.
  9. Make fruit syrup, including a vlog which will be coming soon!
  10. Wash dishes. 
I was surprised at how quickly everything came together and it would've been even faster had I not decided at the last minute to do a video. :-) Premixing dry ingredients and doing the peach puree the night before was a smart move!

The fruits of my labors:
  • 2 loaves Pilgrims' Bread.
  • 1 dozen banana chocolate chip muffins.
  • 1 dozen oatmeal peach muffins. New recipe, very yummy! Although next time, I'll make more than 12 muffins. They were way too big and therefore were very difficult to get out of the pan without breaking.
  • A big stack of waffles! Approximately 4 meals worth.
  • 3 containers of blueberry fruit syrup 

Next Tuesday, I'll be focusing  on cooking and freezing some easy lunch options. Anyone want to plan on joining me? (You can make whatever you like, not just lunches.)

**This post is part of Life As Mom's October Freezer Cooking Round-up!

    Pilgrims' Bread

    We love this crusty bread! The flavors of cornmeal and rye really set this bread apart from plain whole wheat bread.

    This recipe is from the  Better Homes and Gardens  Homemade Bread Cookbook that I picked up at the thrift store for a dollar a few years ago. We've enjoyed many recipes from this book, including this one. I've made a few changes to the original recipe.

    Pilgrims' Bread- makes 2 loaves


    1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
    1/3 cup packed brown sugar
    1 tablespoon salt
    2 cups boiling water
    1/4 cup olive oil
    2 packages or tablespoons active dry yeast (SAF yeast is my favorite!)
    1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees)
    1/2 cup rye flour
    2 and 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
    2 and 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
    8 teaspoons Vital Wheat Gluten, optional

    Thoroughly combine cornmeal, brown sugar, and salt; stir gradually into boiling water. Stir in oil. Cool to lukewarm (about 30 minutes).

    Soften yeast in the warm water; stir into cornmeal mixture. 

    Add rye and whole wheat flours. Mix well. By hand, stir in enough unbleached white flour to make a moderately stiff dough.

    Turn out onto a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic ( about 6 to 8 minutes).

    Shape dough into ball. Place in lightly greased bowl, turning once to grease surface. Cover and let rise in warm place until double (about 1 hour). Punch dough down; turn out onto lightly floured surface and divide in half. 

    Shape the dough into two loaves and place in greased 9x5x3 inch loaf pans. Cover and let rise until almost doubles (about 30 minutes).

    Bake at 375 degrees about 45 minutes or until done. If bread seems to be browning too quickly, cap loosely with foil after the first 25 minutes or so.

    Remove bread from pans to cool.


    Monday, October 18, 2010

    Small Freezer Cooking Day- Breakfast

    I've been contemplating my freezer cooking methods for a while and finally came to the conclusion that it might work better for me to do small theme cooking days rather than huge random freezer cooking marathons.

    I personally prefer a few hours work to all day in the kitchen, if possible, and I think this will work a whole lot better in my little kitchen space with no dishwasher.

    So I'm thinking of spending one morning or afternoon every week or two, freezer cooking with a short focused plan.  This week's theme is breakfast. Next week will be lunch.

    I am in need of some quick breakfast and lunches and this should help!

    Here's my breakfast freezer cooking plan for tomorrow:

    I'm hoping with an early start and a little prep work tonight, this list will only take me a few hours and will be completed before noon tomorrow.

    I'll update with the results tomorrow.

    Anyone want to join me?:-)

    This Week's To-Do List

    Each week I have extra tasks other than my daily cooking and cleaning routine. I'm more intentional in accomplishing these things when they are written down! Typically, I try to keep my "extra tasks" to no more than five different things or one per week day since it's not so overwhelming that way, especially if the tasks are more time consuming.

    1. Clean trash cans.

    2. Hang stuff on wall in master bedroom.

    3. Small freezer cooking day.

    4. Start working on Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes.

    5. Make baby gift.

    What's on your list for the week? 

    Menu Plan Monday

    This week's theme is cheap and easy!

    B- millet porridge with raisins, cinnamon and brown sugar, hard boiled eggs
    L- veggie wraps, tomato soup, kiwi
    S- leftover meatballs and baked potatoes, green beans

    B- millet porridge (leftover from Monday), hard boiled eggs
    L- popcorn, fruit, cheese
    S- sausage, spinach and pasta soup (from freezer), homemade bread

    B- cornmeal mush, cheese
    L- leftovers
    S- pizza braid, veggie plate, fresh pineapple

    B- cornmeal mush (leftover from Wednesday), cheese
    L- leftovers
    S- Monterrey beans with rice, fruit smoothie

    B- muffins, fruit
    L- leftover beans and rice
    S- scrambled eggs, waffles

    B- cold cereal
    L- whatever is left or something quick and easy from the pantry
    S- beef and broccoli stir-fry, rice

    What's cooking in your kitchen this week?

    **This post is part of Menu Plan Mondays!

    Friday, October 15, 2010

    Wonderful Wins!

    Several weeks ago, I won a Seventh Generation starter kit from a giveaway hosted by Coupon Cookin'.

    It all arrived in 2 packages this week while we were away and I was so excited to open it all up and pull everything out when we returned home! Everything is a full-sized bottle or package.  I can't wait to give these natural cleaners a try.

    Included were: a reusable shopping bag, roll of paper towels, laundry detergent, liquid fabric softener, dishwasher detergent, dish soap, glass cleaner, all-purpose cleaner, bathroom cleaner, multi-surface cleaner and disinfecting wipes.

    About the same time, I also won a coupon for a FREE bag of chicken nuggets from The Homespun Heart.

    Winning these giveaways has been a blessing to my family and I am so very very grateful!

    Wednesday, October 13, 2010

    Blog Housekeeping

    While away this week, I've been taking advantage of not having quite as busy of a schedule as I usually keep up at home! Some of those moments have been used to work on my blog.

    My post labels had been bothering me for quite some time. There were too many and I felt like they were "all over the place". I really wanted my labels to be more organized and concise and I finally had a few minutes to come up with categories. I was hoping for 10 categories but since I cover many different topics on my blog, I soon realized that I probably wasn't going to get away with less than 15. Unless, I just filed everything under 'misc.' :-)

    I've ended up with 16 categories for now.

    --Planning and Organizing (menu plans, to-do lists, organizing,etc.)
    --Practicality (housekeeping tips)
    --Health and Nutrition
    --Gardening and Preserving
    --Creativity (sewing, crafting, making things)
    --Walking with God
    --Simplicity ( simple pleasures, living a simple life)
    --Frugality (saving money, couponing, budgeting)
    --Sharing (hospitality, gift giving, deals, links)
    --Celebrations (holidays, seasonal stuff, special days)
    --Extra Income (ideas for making money from home)
    --Randomness (random stuff that doesn't fit anywhere else)

    Bear with me. It will take a while to get through and relabel all of my posts! This has helped me to focus more on what my blog is truly about and hopefully, it will be easier for my readers to navigate as well.

    I've been working on some handmade Christmas gifts while I've been away and interacting with family has helped me to come up with some good ideas for those that are hard to buy a gift for. I'll be starting a series of sorts titled "Christmas is Coming" where I will share some of the gifts and holiday ideas that I'll be making and using for this year. Due to family religiously reading and 'lurking' here, I will not be able to share every gift that I'm giving before Christmas but I'll do my best to share those that I can without spoiling the surprise! (Maybe I can share the rest after Christmas!) We aim to keep our Christmas gifts for extended family at $5 or less per person so most of what I share will fall into that price range. Most years, I'm struggling to complete all of my gifts up to the last minute so getting a head start this year will give me time to take photos and hopefully post about some of them!

    I have many updates that I'd like to accomplish here but I'm taking baby steps and doing one thing at a time!

    Thank you to all who take the time to read and comment here. Reading your feedback and thoughts makes my day!

    Tuesday, October 12, 2010

    Four Days Late

    This song has been going through my head for the past few days. It's got such a wonderful message and is such an encouragement to me!

    Just wanted to share this in hopes that it will bless you as much as it has blessed me.

    Friday, October 08, 2010

    At My Mother-In-Laws

    We are in the middle of an almost two week stay at Andy's parents home, staying with his grandparents and great-aunt while his parents are away on a  much-needed vacation.

    All things considered, it has been a  good week. Other than a few minor upsets, things have gone smoothly. We've had a successful trip to the pharmacy as well as a quick doctor visit for blood work. Andy's sister came with her three children to visit for 2 days during the kids' fall break from school, which was very fun!

    I've been doing quite a bit of cooking while here. I love to cook and everyone has been happy to eat what I've prepared! Except for while our company was here, I cook only one meal a day for everyone and the rest of the time, they fix their own light meals.

    What I've cooked this week:

    --Baked fish, crispy potato cubes, steamed carrots
    --Spaghetti with meatballs and spicy sausage, French bread, salad
    --Crockpot veggie beef soup, wheat biscuits(Pillsbury)
    --Sloppy joes on homemade rolls, potato chips, pickles, cheese, broccoli and fruit slaw(made by my sister-in-law)
    --Crockpot Rotisserie-style chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy(made with broth from the chicken), green beans with mushrooms and bacon

    I've also made my carrot cake that all of Andy's family loves! I'll have to share the recipe sometime soon.

    The next few days should be pretty easy cooking-wise since we have plenty of leftovers in the fridge!

    I brought my sewing machine along and hope to get some things sewed while here.  Andy's grandmother wanted me to help her with making some new covers for her pillows too, which should keep us busy!

    I made a quick trip to CVS this week and was excited to use the coupon for $5 off any Halloween costumes, accessories or decor which printed from the little scanner at the front of the store. This included  all fall decorations so I was able to get some cute fall themed napkins and yummy smelling candles for free!

    What are you up to this week?

    Monday, October 04, 2010

    Our 6th Anniversary Celebration

    Before heading to Northwest Georgia to spend almost two weeks with Andy's grandparents and great-aunt, we spent one night in Atlanta to celebrate our anniversary. We had dinner at P.F. Chang's which was delicious!

     Banana Spring Rolls