Monday, January 31, 2011

Big Oops!!!

I goofed big time and accidentally deleted a whole slew of comments from my blog. Oops! I hate that this happened as I love receiving comments and now they are gone.

If you don't see your comments on recent posts, know that it is my fault! So sorry!

On the bright side, I guess it would be a whole lot worse to have deleted actual posts!

Yummy Fruit Dip

**Originally posted in 2006 on my old cooking blog. Funny, I don't usually buy Cool Whip anymore but this does sound very good right now!

In an effort to clean out my refrigerator this past weekend, I wondered what to do with half of an 8 ounce container of Cool Whip and about 1/2 cup of cream cheese icing. I whipped them together and added a couple spoonfuls of frozen orange juice concentrate. It made a refreshingly yummy dip for sliced apples!

Chicken Stuffing Casserole

**Originally posted in 2006 on my old cooking blog.

This recipe is easy and yummy! My brother loves this stuff and calls it the "brown stuff." So it isn't that appealing to look at but a very comforting dish.:-)

You will need:
1 or 2 boxes of Stove-top chicken flavored stuffing mix(store brand works fine, too)
1 or 2 cans of cream of chicken soup(no liquid added)
a cup or 2 of cooked and chopped chicken
some shredded cheddar cheese

Prepare stuffing according to package directions. Mix in soup and chicken. Pour into a greased 9x13 pan. Sprinkle with cheese,and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until heated through.

This is one of those dishes that you just mix up to suit yourself and the size of your family.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Garlic Bread

**Originally posted in 2006 on my old cooking blog.

To make garlic bread, I use one loaf of French bread(either homemade or bought) and slice it in half length-wise.

Mix together:
1 stick margarine or butter
garlic powder to taste, I use a lot!
a little dried herbs such as basil, if desired

Spread this on both cut sides of the French bread. Sprinkle with some Parmesan cheese.Put bread back together and wrap tightly in foil. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes to heat through.

Cut in slices to serve. 

French Bread

**Originally posted in 2006 on my old cooking blog. I still make this often. Nowadays, I like adding Italian herbs to the dough.

This is a very easy bread recipe to make. I would recommend it as a first bread recipe to try, if you are new to bread making.

This makes 2 small loaves, but I usually make just one large loaf instead. It freezes great!

1 pkg. or 1 tablespoon yeast
1 tablespoon sugar or honey
1 cup warm water(110-115 degrees)
2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
3-3 1/2 cups flour
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons milk

In a bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water. Add oil and salt and enough flour to make a stiff(a little sticky though) dough. Knead 10 minutes on a floured board. (If you have a heavy duty mixer, dissolve yeast and water in mixer bowl. Add oil and salt and mix at low speed for a little bit. Then add flour to make a stiff dough(for best results, dough should be relatively easy to handle but still on the sticky side.) Mix on medium to high speed for 5-8 minutes or little longer until dough is mixed well.)
Place in a greased bowl, turning once. Let rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 -2 hours. Punch down and let rest 15 minutes. Divide dough in half. Roll each half on a greased surface into a 15-inch long log. Place on greased cookie sheets sprinkled with cornmeal and make 5 slashes diagonally across tops.
Mix egg and milk and brush on top of loaves. Let rise until double, about 1 hour. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes or until loaves are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Salad Bar Night

**Originally posted on my old cooking blog.

One of our family's favorite dinners growing up was when Mom would make a salad bar. Even my non-veggie eating brother would load up his plate with sliced eggs, ground beef or ham, cheese, chunks of pineapple and a few token leaves of lettuce for the salad effect.

When making a salad bar meal for your family, think about and take ideas from the salad bar at your favorite restaurant. Keep in mind that you don't have to have everything to have a good selection, but rather you can clean out your veggie bin this way, using up what you have!

I've made a list of different ideas to get the gray matter perking. Feel free to add your own ideas in the comments!

( a big bowl or open a pre-washed bag)
-a variety of dark leafy greens
-iceberg(if you like watery, colorless lettuce that has very little nutritional value!!!)
-fresh herbs can add some flavor to your lettuce bowl

Protein(1-3 of these)
-shredded cheese
-browned ground beef
-chopped ham
-crumbled bacon
-drained tuna
-grilled chicken
-sliced hard-boiled eggs
-drained and rinsed canned beans(garbanzos and kidney beans are good choices)

Veggies& Fruits(as many as you can stand!)
-sliced tomatoes
-sliced radishes
-green peppers
-shredded carrots
-thawed frozen peas
-sliced olives
-sliced apples
-sliced strawberries

-salad dressings of choice
-sunflower seeds
-chopped nuts
-dried cranberries

-cottage cheese
-prepared salads such as bean salad, potato salad, pasta salad
-hot crusty bread, rolls, or breadsticks
-hot soup

Arrange all salad toppings in a variety of little bowls or in sections on a platter. Use your creativity with this. Your kids will enjoy helping to prepare this meal as well as making their own salads. In fact, salad bar was the very first whole meal I prepared at the tender age of 9.:-)This yummy,healthful and fun meal definitely works for me!

Refrigerator Bran Muffins

**Originally posted on my old cooking blog.

I love making these muffins. They are so easy to mix up and they keep well in the refrigerator for up to 6 weeks. I mix them up in a large mixing bowl and then I store the batter in a gallon size pitcher(make sure it's air-tight) in the fridge. I tape the baking directions to the pitcher, so I don't have to drag out my cookbook every time.LOL!!!These are great to have on hand for busy mornings or for feeding overnight guests. I often pop them in the oven while I go to take a shower.

This recipe does take a box of cereal, so unless you get it cheap on sale, with coupons or buy generic like I do, it could end up being a little more expensive. Even with the little extra cost though, having this batter mixed up and ready is a breakfast idea that definitely works for me!

Refrigerator Bran Muffins
5 cups flour
5 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon allspice
3 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 cup oil
2 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups(1 quart) buttermilk*
1 (20 oz.) box raisin bran**

Mix together in large mixing bowl; batter will be thick and lumpy. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full and bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Batter can be refrigerated in an air-tight container for up to 6 weeks. Makes 30-35 muffins.

*I often use milk that's a little old. To make buttermilk, measure your milk out, then add a teaspoon or so of lemon juice. Let set for 5 minutes then add to batter as usual.

**You can also use a box of bran flakes and just add raisins, if you don't have honest-to-goodness raisin bran.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Chicken Noodle Casserole

**Originally posted in 2006 on my old cooking blog. I need to make this again. So yummy!

My mom made this all the time when we were growing up. It is a very comforting casserole and delicious! This is an excellent dish to freeze for later use. It's very kid-friendly and is a great casserole to take to a sick friend or someone who has just had a new baby.

1 5-6 oz. bag of egg noodles
1 can cream of chicken soup
2/3 cup evaporated milk or cream
2 cups cubed American cheese or use a can of cheddar cheese soup
2 cups diced, cooked chicken
1 cup celery slices
1/4 cup diced green pepper
1/4 cup diced sweet red pepper or pimento
2 cups buttered bread cubes

Cook noodles according to package directions and drain. Mix soup and milk. Heat, stirring constantly. Add cheese, chicken, celery and peppers. Mix with noodles. Pour into greased 2-quart casserole dish. Top with bread cubes. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes until lightly browned and bubbly. Makes 6 servings.

Crockpot Bean & Bacon Soup

**Originally posted on my old cooking blog.

I tried this recipe last week and it was a big hit! I made some changes to the original recipe( even the first time I made it-LOL!)so I'm giving the recipe to you here as I made it.

Bean and Bacon Soup

3(15-16 oz.) cans of beans, drained and rinsed
(I used a can of Great Northerns, a can of kidney beans and a can of pintos. Black beans would be good and would add a different color if your family likes black beans.:-)
1 (10 oz.) can of diced tomatoes with green chilies, undrained*
1 (14-15 oz.) can of regular diced tomatoes, undrained
1/2 onion, chopped**
2 (14 oz.) cans chicken broth
1 handful of cooked and crumbled bacon***

Combine all ingredients in greased 3 1/2 to 5 quart slow cooker. Cover and cook on low heat 6-8 hours or on high heat for 3-4 hours. Makes 6-8 servings.

Serve with crusty bread and herbed cream cheese spread.

*Use diced Italian tomatoes in place of diced tomatoes with green chilies for a milder soup.
**1/4 cup dried minced onion can be substituted.
***Bacon can be left out if desired. Just please, please change the name of the soup if you do this!!!!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Mom's Fruit Cobbler

**Originally posted in 2006 on my old cooking blog. This is an all-time family favorite. These days I often make peach or blueberry cobbler.

This is one of our family's all-time favorites! It is just like eating pie, but without the crusts and extra prep work. I made this last night with fresh peaches(mixed with 4 tablespoons cornstarch, 1 cup sugar and a teaspoon of lemon juice). It is good with any kind of fruit pie filling. My favorite is blackberry.

Mix together:
1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup margarine

Add: 1 egg

Stir until crumbly. Pour mixture over 1 quart of fruit pie filling in greased square or small oblong baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Serve with ice cream, whipped cream or milk or plain!

**For blueberry cobbler, mix 1 quart fresh or frozen blueberries with 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 1/4 cup sugar. 

Baked Fish & Veggie Packets

**Originally posted on my cooking blog.

I tried this recipe several weeks ago. It was a keeper! I will be making this one regularly. Using the foil packets makes for a quick clean-up!

4 fish filets(I used whitefish)
4 medium ptatoes, cut into small chunks
4 medium carrots, cut into small chunks
4 small onions, quartered
4 tablespoons margarine or butter
salt, pepper, garlic powder or lemon juice (to taste)

On each of 4 square pieces of aluminum foil, place a fish filet and a portion of veggies. Add 1 tablespoon butter to each square. Sprinkle with seasonings. Fold foil over and seal edges well. Bake on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until done. This can also be put on a grill. Serves 4.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Gingered Carrots

**Originally posted in 2006 on my old cooking blog. We still love these!

This is my favorite way to make and eat cooked carrots. This recipe is from The What Would Jesus Eat Cookbook. I don't use quite as much sugar as called for in the recipe and generally, I just make this to taste. It's a great side to almost any meat.

6 medium carrots, sliced
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 cup orange juice

Steam the carrots until tender-crisp; drain. Combine the sugar, cornstarch, nutmeg, and ginger in a separate saucepan; whisk in the orange juice. Simmer, covered, until thickened. Uncover, and cook for 1 minute longer, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
Place carrots in a serving dish and drizzle with the orange juice mixture, stirring to coat evenly. Let stand, covered, for 4-5 minutes before serving. Makes 6 servings.

Chicken & Gravy

 **Originally posted on my old cooking blog.

This is an easy and inexpensive meal from Crystal of The Family Homestead. (Crystal cooks for a large family, so the recipe makes a nice amount.)I often will add frozen peas or some other cooked veggie for a one-dish meal.

2 cups cooked and diced chicken
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups milk
3/4 cup flour

Heat chicken broth on stove. Mix flour and milk together well. Add to chicken broth and bring to a boil and simmer until thickened. Add chicken and veggies (if desired). Season with salt and pepper. Serve over, biscuits, toast, mashed potatoes or noodles.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Make Your Own Croutons

 **Originally posted in 2006 on my old cooking blog. I make these fairly regularly using leftover bread.

I love making my own croutons! They are inexpensive and easy to make using day-old bread. We especially like them made out of pumpernickel bread, but any kind is good.

Seasoned Croutons
PREP/TOTAL TIME: 30 minutes

2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
Pinch of salt

6 slices day-old bread, cubed

In an ungreased 9x13 inch pan, combine the first seven ingredients. Place in a 300 degree oven until butter is melted. Remove from the oven; stir to combine. Add bread cubes and toss to coat. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring frequently. Cool. Store in the refrigerator in an air-tight container. Yield: 3 cups

~If desired, vary the seasonings to suit your individual tastes.

Crockpot Lasagna

**Originally posted on my old cooking blog.

This is an awesome recipe for lasagna. I actually love making the kind that you layer and put in pans and bake-my mom's recipe is the best! But this one is really good, too and so simple. Great for the busy days!

Crockpot Lasagna
12 lasagna noodles,uncooked
1 pound ground beef, browned and drained
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning(I use oregano and basil,instead)
1 jar(28 ounces) spaghetti sauce
1/4 cup water
1 carton (16 ounces) cottage cheese
2 cups mozzarella cheese,grated

Break noodles in half. Place half of the noodles in bottom of greased 4-quart slow cooker.Stir Italian seasoning into meat and spread half over the noodles already in slow cooker. Then layer half of the sauce and water, half of the cottage cheese, and half of mozzarella cheese over beef. Repeat layers. Cover and cook on low heat for 4-5 hours. Do not cook more than 5 hours.
Makes 6-8 servings.
Serve with salad and garlic bread.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Do- Ahead Food Prep

**Originally posted in 2006 on my old cooking blog.

One thing that helps to speed me up in the kitchen is to do as much chopping, shredding and cooking ahead of time as I can. Then all I need to do is pull everything out and assemble the dish. I love doing this!

I use the freezer to store already prepared items that can be used in a snap. Some things I prepare ahead and store are;
-shredded cheese
-shredded carrots(for cake and muffins)
-chopped onions
-chopped celery
-sliced or chopped green peppers
-browned and crumbled ground beef, sausage or bacon
-cooked and cubed chicken or turkey
-cooked beans (kidney, garbanzo, pinto)
-prepared chicken broth(from cooking the chicken)

I also will prepare dry mixes for cornbread, pancakes, etc. so all I have to do is add the wet ingredients. Whenever I bake cookies, bars, muffins or cupcakes, I will go ahead and wrap them individually or in twos and put them together in a box in my freezer. When packing lunches, all I have to do is grab something out of the box and it is all ready.

There is less mess when you prepare things ahead as you only have a mess once! You can also clean out your produce bin by chopping and freezing those things that freeze well. This saves money by not throwing old produce away. Always mark your little ziploc bags; you won't believe how much some things can look alike once frozen! I usually freeze shredded cheese in 1-2 cup portions, because that's what would work for my recipes. I freeze shredded carrots in 2 cup portions, since that's just right for my carrot cake recipe.

Doing my food prep ahead of time definitely works for me! Every so often, I get to the place where I have to start totally from scratch for a meal, chopping veggies and cooking meats. I can't believe how long it will take just to prepare a simple casserole! I would much rather invest a few minutes here and there and work ahead and enjoy the ease of quick cooking!

See Ya Soon, Baboon!

I will be out of town next week visiting my mom.

No worries--I have posts automatically scheduled to pop up every day. I'm in the process of moving posts from my old cooking blog over here,  so be prepared for lots of cooking posts coming up!

It has been fun going through these old posts and seeing the change in me, our eating habits and our life since then. I've discovered some "favorites" that I had forgotten about! Who knew that I could find cooking inspiration on my own blog?!?

We'll be back to regular posting the following week. See you then!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Apple Crisp

**Originally posted on my old cooking blog. 

I love making this dessert when I have apples to use up. It's really easy and great to make when you are already baking something in the oven for dinner anyways. (Last night, I put this in the oven during the last half of baking potatoes for dinner. )

This is great served with vanilla ice cream, but we eat it plain most of the time! Yummy!

Apple Crisp

6-8 apples, peeled and sliced
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 tsp. cinnamon and/or nutmeg
1/4 cup water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange apples in well-greased 9 inch square or small rectangular baking dish. Blend all remaining ingredients, except for water, cutting and blending in the butter until mixture is pulled together and crumbly. Spread topping evenly over apples. Pour water over the topping. Bake 45-50 minutes until apples are tender and top is completely baked and crisp.
Serves 6

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Thrifted Finds

We ventured out to a few thrift stores last weekend looking for some specific clothing items for me. Can you believe that I found several pieces that were exactly what I was looking for? God's provision is so awesome!

Brown Mary Janes- $1.50
2 denim skirts- $2.84 each

Some other good deals we found:

Wooden high chair- $12

(I would like to make a cushion for the seat and back; anyone have ideas for this? For the time being, I stuffed a towel onto the seat  and over the back so Miss Peanut doesn't slide down or hit her head.:-)

Pile of fabric for sewing projects. Some are pillowcases and curtains that I thought were really great pieces, others actual fabric lengths. Not sure how much I paid for all of these- they ranged in price from 10 cents to $1.49.

The biggest surprise of the day was getting to Goodwill and discovering that because of the snow days last week, the store was holding a Snow Storm Sale with 25% off your entire purchase!  The shelves and racks were packed with all kinds of goodies and the crowd large.

Have you found any great thrifted items lately? 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Crockpot Taco Soup

 **Originally posted on my old cooking blog.

This yummy and easy soup is our new favorite! It is also very cost-effective at less than $3.50 for the whole big pot! (Based on my local Aldi's prices; when using dried beans instead of canned, the cost is even lower.)

The first time I made this, I substituted my own cooked pinto beans for the other beans and added onions and other spices since I didn't have taco seasoning on hand. This is something that's hard to mess up I would think! We have liked it any way I've made it! I also like the fact that this is a relatively healthy recipe.:-)

Taco Soup

1 pound ground turkey(ground beef or even cooked and diced chicken would also be good in this)
1 can chili beans, with liquid
1 can kidney beans, with liquid
1 can whole kernel corn, with liquid
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce
2 cups water
1 package taco seasoning mix
I also add: some chopped onion and a couple spoonfuls of salsa

Cook meat in skillet until browned; drain. Place all ingredients in crock pot and mix together. Cook on low setting for 8 hours.

Serve alone or with tortilla chips, shredded cheese, sour cream and salsa.

Banana Oat Pancakes

These banana oat pancakes are one of our favorites! Not only are they hearty and sweet but because the batter is a bit more muffin-like, they're so easy to cook and flip!

These freeze well. I've also used applesauce in place of the oil with tasty results.

Banana Oat Pancakes
From Taste of Home

  • 1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • 1-1/3 cups milk
  • 1 cup mashed ripe banana
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • Maple syrup

  • In a large bowl, combine the flour, oats, sugar, baking powder and cinnamon. Combine the egg, milk, banana and oil; stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. 

  • Pour batter by 1/4 cupfuls onto a greased hot griddle. Turn when bubbles form on top; cook until second side is golden brown. Serve with syrup. 
  •  Yield: 1 dozen.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Do What?

I couldn't help but chuckle when I noticed that a certain 5 year old scrambled up the message I have displayed in the living room.

"You want me to do what?!?"

"Oh. That makes a bit more sense."  

"I am the true vine,and my Father is the gardener.
He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit,
while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that
it will be even more fruitful. 
You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.
Remain in me, and I will remain in you.
No branch can bear fruit by itself;
it must remain in the vine.
Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
I am the vine; you are the branches.
If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit;
apart from me you can do nothing.
If anyone does not remain in me,
he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers;
such branches are picked up, 
thrown into the fire and burned. 
If you remain in me and my words remain in you,
ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.
This is to my Father's glory,
that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples."
John 15:1-8

Make sure you are connected to the Vine so you too can "arberftiu"!

Oh. Wait.

Bear fruit... that will last. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

What's Cooking At My House

Another week, another menu plan!

Breakfasts: oatmeal, cold cereal, grapefruit, bananas

Lunches: peanut butter or cheese sandwiches, salad,  variety of leftovers 

1. Monterrey beans, brown rice
2. Rotsserie-style crockpot chicken, steamed carrots, brown rice, gravy
3. Chicken gravy on toast, steamed mixed veggies
4. Chicken salad sandwiches, marinated green beans, grapefruit
5. Chicken and veggie soup(crockpot), bread or muffins, cheese
6. Leftovers

What's cooking in your kitchen this week? 

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Gingham Cottage News

New items in my shop, The Gingham Cottage

Some thrifted treasures:

A handmade item: 

An apron featuring vintage aprons!

Make yourself at home, poke around and see what else is in The Gingham Cottage!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Cardboard Box Puzzles

Because schools were closed for a few days this week due to snow, I also had the 5 year old brother of the little girl that I care for here on those days.

By the second day, I was starting to look around the house trying to think of some new-to-him activities that didn't require my getting the box of kid's things out of storage.

I remember making simple puzzles from food boxes during my early childhood college and teacher days. I grabbed the only box that was in the recycling bin and started cutting away!

He really enjoyed these although I would definitely cut smaller pieces next time to make it more challenging.

But that's the beauty of this project- it can be made to fit the developmental needs of the child. I would cut 2 or 3 pieces for a young toddler and more for older kids.

And unless you are buying boxes of food solely  for the purpose of making puzzles out of them, this little activity is entirely free and can be recycled again when you're done.

**Store each puzzle in a Ziploc bag!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Christmas 2011: Plan Your Budget Now

I know many of us may not want to think about next year's Christmas right now. After all, it is more than 11 months away!

But now is the time to start planning your Christmas budget and saving for the gifts that you know you'll want to purchase come December 2011.

We like to save a decided upon amount every month in a savings category marked Christmas. Then when the holiday season rolls around, the money is there.

This year I plan to put all of my earned money from doing  Pinecone Research surveys into our Christmas fund. I only earn $3 per survey but every little bit adds up. In 2010, I averaged about 3 surveys a month. If this continues, that adds up to $108 by the end of the year. With careful shopping, keeping gifts simple and mostly homemade, this money will stretch pretty far. We may also use some of our Amazon gifts cards  earned through Swagbucks for Christmas shopping and then save a little extra cash each month if needed to complete our Christmas goals.

As  Dave Ramsey says, "Christmas is not an emergency, since it comes around at the same time every year."

So let's start planning and saving now!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Soft Flannel Hankies

I realize cloth hankies will gross some of you out.  Sorry!

But as someone who often has a sniffly nose, I can testify that these are so much softer and kinder to my poor red and peeling nose than disposable tissues! I still use Kleenex regularly but reach for the cloth ones when I have a cold or allergies.

I cut random squares of thrifted flannel and then hemmed the edges. There's no need to be a perfectionist about this project, they are hankies, after all. This was a quick little after supper project.

I wash these the same as I do my cloth napkins: by throwing them in with a load of towels and washing in hot water.

While not my primary reasons, using cloth hankies is also a green and frugal practice!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Snow Day

“Come now, let us settle the matter,”
   says the LORD.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
   they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
   they shall be like wool.
       Isaiah 1:18

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
   wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. 
Psalm 51:7 

Monday, January 10, 2011

Baby Gift For A Friend

**Originally posted on my sewing blog on 1/28/10.

I sewed a simple reversible tote bag and two matching burp cloths for a friend who is expecting a baby boy soon.

This was my first successful attempt at simple applique.  It helps when you can easily sew through the interfacing! Ahem... It was very easy to do and I think it all turned out pretty cute!

I used the letter templates and directions for applique from Skip To My Lou and the burp cloths were made following Tracy's instructions. The bag tutorial was also from Skip To My Lou even though I changed the dimensions. I've made many basic tote bags over the past few years and her directions are almost identical to the ones I've made on my own. All three items were completed in an evening.

Baby items are always so much fun to make. I thoroughly loved and enjoyed my time spent sewing this gift! I know Baby 'A' and his mama will get plenty of use out of it!

Valentine Decorations

**Originally posted on my sewing blog on 2/4/10.

I've been wanting to make some Valentine's decorations to add some color around the house, but wasn't sure what to make.

Monica shared this idea yesterday that was very cute. I decided to do basically the same thing with fabric instead of using scrapbook paper.

Red is a good Valentine's color. Because I am quite partial to red, I had plenty of red fabrics in my scrap bin. I ironed Heat n Bond to the fabric and cut them out in two sizes of hearts. I then fused them to red and white cardstock. I think if I would do it again, I'd fuse fabric on both sides of the cardstock for added interest, general cuteness and perhaps, a little more durability.

I cut the hearts out with a pinking shears and then, with wrong sides together, sewed a seam down the middle of the hearts. I used a big needle to thread ribbon for hanging.

I decided to hang my little heart parade from the mantel. The hearts are a bit floppy and kinda butterfly-looking, I think, but still very cute. They add a festive touch to my home!

Thanks for the idea, Monica!

Pillowcase Dress

**Originally posted on my sewing blog on 4/5/10.

A friend asked if I could make some pillowcase dresses for her baby girl. For practice, I pulled a  thrifted vintage pillowcase out of my stash and whipped up a dress for my niece.

Pillowcase dresses are super easy to make and can be made from actual pillowcases or from any fabric. I used these tutorials as guides.

A Room Somewhere

Red Instead BLOG

I had enough fabric to make matching bloomers.

The dress turned out very cute although a little big  for my niece. She'll be able to grow into it though!

Vintage -Style Clothespin Bags

**Originally posted on my sewing blog on 4/22/10.

Grandma made this clothespin bag for me as a bridal shower gift. 

My grandma has been sewing these vintage-style clothespin bags for years. She would often give them for gifts as well as using her own . I remember one year when she presented my mom with a freshly-sewn clothespin bag for her birthday. She'd noticed the plastic peanut butter bucket full of clothespins that Mom had hanging on her clothesline and thought it rather unsightly!

When my sister and I got married (three months apart), my Grandma sent us each one of her handmade clothespin bags, complete with wooden hanger. Even though she was too far away to be able to attend our bridal showers and weddings, she still wanted to give us a gift. 

I use my clothespin bag all the time. It's both cute and handy!

Since I've gotten so many comments on mine, I thought it'd be a cute item to make as gifts or to sell. So I asked Grandma for her pattern. 

She was glad to share the pattern with me. Someone had shared it with her many years ago!

The next time I saw her, she handed me the pattern traced out on tissue paper and packaged in a recycled manilla envelope. 

She had written on the envelope and even drew a little sketch of what the finished product would look like! Isn't she cute!

Here are a few clothespin bags that I've made. These are available for purchase in my shop

Just like Grandma would make!

Pleated Zipper Pouch

**Originally posted on 5/3/10 on my sewing blog.

This little pleated zipper pouch made a quick and fun birthday present for my sister! 

**Complete sewing instructions can be found at Skip To My Lou

Curtain Call

**Originally posted 7/23/10 on my sewing blog.

With packing and moving, I am just now starting to do some sewing again.

During the past week, I've made two curtains for our new home.

Wanna see?

Back door/ kitchen curtain. 

For this curtain, I used some heavy tan gingham fabric I had in my stash. This was a thrift store find a while ago for $1 for a huge piece. For a little added interest, I sewed a simple ruffle from tan linen, leftover from one of my summer skirts.

In case you didn't notice the toilet paper holder here, this is the bathroom. There was no window in the bathroom at our previous house so I really like the light that this window lets in! (We do have blinds that we pull for complete privacy. ) 

This curtain was super simple and created from a thrifted piece of  fabric (50 cents) that was perhaps some kind of curtain or tablecloth. I cut the curtain to make good use of the already hemmed edges, so only the top edge needed to be finished for the casing. I'm lazy efficient like that. Black and white polka dot ribbon from my stash completed the look and will coordinate with the shower curtain I have planned.

More curtains coming soon!

July Friday Night Sew-In Progress: More Curtains!

**This post was originally posted on 7/24/2010 on my sewing blog.

I loved joining in with the Friday Night Sew-In this time around. So fun!

I set up my sewing table and enjoyed listening to some of my favorite music while I worked.

We recently moved into a new home so getting curtains up is a big deal! We are renting so I really didn't want to go to too much expense or do anything complicated, so I went the cheap and simple route!

I purchased these off-white cotton bedspreads during our IKEA adventure last week and thought they'd be perfect for simple curtains! They were priced at $6.99 for the twin size and $9.99 for queen. I got two queens and 1 twin to make full-length curtains for the living room and guest bedroom and valances for the kitchen and dining area.  Five windows in all for right about $30.

These were quick and easy to sew since I took advantage of the already hemmed edges! Of course, I still had to finish a few because of the cutting involved but it was minimal.

I finished 6 full-length panels and 2 valances within about 2  and a half hours. I wanted a little pom-pom fringe on the valances, which I didn't have on hand so I got that today and then stitched it on.I still have about two-thirds of one bedspread leftover for another project.

I love how these turned out!

The full-length curtains shown here in the guest room.

One of the valances with black pom-pom fringe- this one is over the kitchen sink.

Curtains on the windows really make a house more homey, don't you think?

What's Cooking At My House

The past few weeks I've been doing making meal plans a few days at a time rather than a whole week. So today I'm getting back in the saddle and doing a whole week's menu once again! A menu plan keeps things so much simpler and saves us money too as I use what I have on hand and am not as likely to want to go out to eat at the last minute!

As I start the new year, one of my goals is to keep our grocery bill fairly low through smart shopping, effective meal planning and wise use of leftovers and what we have already stocked in the pantry.

Last week's bargain shopping got me 2 bags of spinach for $.39 each (by combining sales with coupons), FREE chicken breasts at Earth Fare and several bags of good deals from Harris Teeter's Super Doubles coupon event. Then on Friday morning, I hit the jackpot at Bi-Lo and got a bag of 11 avocados, a bag of tomatoes(4-5 pounds), a mixed bag of sweet potatoes and onions(6 pounds) and 2 packages of Earthbound Farms baby carrots and dip. These were all on the produce clearance rack- each bag was $1.49 and the carrots were $.69 cents a pack plus a $1/2 manufacturer's coupon. I figured out by looking at regular prices that I paid $4.91 for close to $40 worth of produce. Not every week is this productive in the bargain hunting department but I was very happy with my finds and it serves as a good reminder to always keep my eyes open as you never know what you'll find!

So lots of fresh produce to use in my meal plan this week!

Breakfasts: oatmeal, green smoothies or cold cereal

Lunches: egg salad sandwiches, peanut butter sandwiches, coleslaw, salads or leftovers


1) Israeli Spice Chicken, marinated tomatoes, mashed sweet potatoes

2) Homemade egg rolls, sauteed or steamed veggies, brown rice

3) Banana oat pancakes, scrambled eggs, tangerines

4) Beef and noodles, green beans

5) Pinto beans, corn muffins

6) spaghetti, salad

What's cooking at your house?

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Mom's Progress Report

Just talked to my mom tonight and wanted to share her progress!

She is now walking with her cane instead of a walker and physical therapy has dropped down to 1 visit a week instead of two. 

Her swallowing has improved to the point that she is now able to begin a transitional diet of soft foods in addition to the feeding tube. She is very excited about eating again and says that everything tastes so yummy after not eating for three weeks.

She is still very glad to be home and is able to cook simple meals by utilizing her crock pot and was even able to sweep the kitchen floor the other day!

She gives all glory to God for her quick recovery  and is so grateful for all the prayers that have been lifted on her behalf.

Friday, January 07, 2011

One Organizing Project At A Time

The start of a new year always puts me in the mood to clean, organize and spruce up things around the house! Good thing, because my house can certainly use the attention!

Today I cleaned my little junk drawer in the kitchen. It's amazing what all can accumulate in a drawer so small in such a short time!

I've been collecting small plastic baby food containers from the baby girl that I care for, so I used those, an Altoid tin and a cream cheese/Velveeta container to organize all the essential doo-dads. I'm making a more concentrated effort to be resourceful with what I already have and those containers work just as good or better than what can be bought at the store!

This organizing project took only a few minutes. Seeing it nice and clutter-free makes me eager to do more!

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Christmas 2011: Recycled Gift Wrap

I've been pondering waste-free Christmas gift wrappings for awhile now and wondering if I should make it a personal challenge for next year's Christmas. Especially since we've used up most of our wrapping paper.

The multiple garbage bags of wrapping paper trash on Christmas Day made me cringe a little.

But yet, I'm a bit overwhelmed with the idea of wrapping all of our gifts in reusable packaging. Maybe some, but all?  It seems a bit much for me.

While folding a brown paper bag yesterday, I came up with the non-original idea that we could save brown paper bags through the year and wrap our gifts in those instead of purchasing wrapping paper. I'll cut them apart and turn them inside out so any logos and images will be on the inside. Gift tags/package decorations will be recycled Christmas cards which I keep for projects anyways. I always have random ribbons around or I could make these bows out of old magazine pages.

My husband likes this idea and I think it'll be fun to save these items through the year and not purchase any wrapping paper!

If feeling extra ambitious, I could dress these packages up with rubber stamp designs. That would be pretty, although I'm more likely to leave them plain. We'll see!

Have you started planning for next year's Christmas yet?

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

A Fresh Coat Of Paint

One of my projects for Christmas break was to paint our dining area. The bottom half was wood paneling and the top was painted a shade of cream with peaks of a bright yellow that apparently had been put there in the past.


We had plenty of paint leftover from our painting extravaganza last June and I certainly was not going to buy any more paint! I chose the pale gray we put in our living room and hallway for the bottom and painted the top a plain white.

That's my trusty coupon binder there on the table!

 So much brighter! Now to get something for the walls...

I really like very light colored walls, especially in this style of house. It seems to enlarge the space a bit. I also decorate with brighter colors so the very neutral walls work well!

A fresh coat of paint works wonders!

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Christmas Clearance

I don't normally do much shopping at after-Christmas sales. I find that I really don't need most of the stuff found there. And besides by the time it's marked to 90% off and the price is right for me, the selection is pretty sparse. 

 But I was happy to find these perky striped tablecloths at Target yesterday for 75% off the regular price of $15.99.

I purchased two 60" x 104" to use as fabric for various sewing projects. The fabric is a nice weight and would make some really cute Christmas aprons, gift bags, pillow covers, etc. I may even cut one down to fit our small table for Christmas next year. I figured $3.74 is a great price for nearly 3 yards of wide fabric!

Have you found any great things on clearance recently?

Monday, January 03, 2011

Another Update

As I mentioned in my last update, my Mom was able to go home from the rehab hospital last Wednesday. She is so glad to be home and is doing extremely well.

She was able to attend her family's Christmas gathering on New Year's Day and enjoyed it but didn't stay the whole time as it wore her out. She was also able to attend church on Sunday. Apparently, upon returning home from church, she insisted on walking up the steps with her cane rather than the walker. 

Many friends have mentioned to me that with that kind of determination, she will most likely make a full recovery. That's what we are praying for! All along she has been adamant that she will "get over this" and has been diligent to do everything the doctors and therapists have asked of her.

For her ongoing therapy, she chose going to the rehab center rather than having a therapist visit her at home. She said that if they came to her then she would be almost completely housebound and she didn't want that. Again, a good sign!

Thanks to all who have been praying for her. Your sweet comments have meant so much!