Friday, December 30, 2011

Leftover Ham

My Aunt Betty gave us a wonderful gift of a large smoked ham this year.  Initially, I prepared it by baking with some homemade plum pomegranate jam as a glaze.  It was delicious, but we had a considerable chunk left over. 
Yesterday was one of those days where cooking felt like a drudgery....especially after Christmas.  T & I spent much of the day cleaning up the Christmas decor and I did some laundry.  When it was time to start dinner, I stood in front of the open fridge, taking inventory.  We had some eggs, the ham, bagged shredded hash browns and cheese.  Decided on a simple frittata.  It turned out so well, that I thought I would share.  Between the three guys and myself, it was polished off.  E is not feeling well and he appreciated the savory comfort food aspect.

1 bag shredded potatoes
1-2 cups chopped ham
1 small onion, chopped
3-4 eggs
olive oil
salt & freshly ground pepper
cheese (if desired)

Heat oil in skillet (preferable one with a lid and higher sides).  Add chopped onion to hot oil and let cook for about a minute.  Add potatoes and cook for about 5 minutes.  Toss in ham and combine all.  In separate bowl, crack and beat eggs.  Pour eggs over all and fold in to make sure they are combined.  Turn down heat and cover.  Let cook until eggs are cooked.  Season with salt & pepper, sprinkle with cheese, if you like.  The boys had Cheddar.

This would taste really yummy with spinach & Feta cheese if you don't have (or care for) ham.


Enjoy!  Here's a favorite pic of T & C reading Christmas stories.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Peppermint Marshmallow Fudge

This is perhaps the easiest fudge recipe ever.   I think we made it in less than 5 minutes and it was so good.  I love my classic fudge recipe that requires time, stirring, several different chocolates, etc.  Charlie changes everything around here and since he loves to cook, speed is of the essence.
Peppermint Marshmallow Fudge

3 cups milk chocolate chips (about 1 1/2 bags)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup (1/2 stick butter)
1/2 bag of peppermint marshmallow (Jet-Puf's seasonal variety)

In large bowl, microwave chips, butter and condensed milk just until chips begin to melt.  Stir well until all chips are melted and fudge is smooth.  Gently fold in marshmallows.  Pour into greased 9x9 pan and chill until firm.


These are really, really pretty.  I am sending the bulk of them with my dear husband to work so I don't eat them.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving

Ahhh, I have been slacking in the blogging department. 

Life has been full (and wonderful).  Today was a beautiful day to remember all the blessings in my life.  Here is a short list:

1) Health. 
So many loved ones have had a rough year with their health and it has made me be grateful for each day.  Praying especially for our friend, Tom W.....that 2012 brings miraculous healing to his body and that God would be glorified throughout the W family's journey.

2) My husband and boys.
Never could I ask for a husband more well suited for me.  He is patient, kind, gentle and a rock in deep, rushing waters.  The boys bring excitement and joy to this little home.  And I am beginning to see how God uses my children to shape and transform me.

3) My Bible.
The best time of the day is when I climb into bed, switch on my lamp and open my familiar Bible.  God's word is powerful, Truthful and rich. 

Yep, it's a short list for now.
I am turkeyed out and ready to climb into bed and read. 
My mom and I joined WW a couple weeks ago and are really enjoying the program.  She lost 5.8 pounds her first week!  I lost about 3, but am now within the range for my height.  It's been a great discipline in portion control and has been helping add more fruits & veggies into our diet.

Tomorrow my sister & brother-in-law will be flying to China to bring their new daughter home.  This is exciting stuff and we are so excited to meet ChunLe for the first time.

Happy Thanksgiving from our home to yours!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Cheater's Sauce

Sometimes it is daunting to prep and use a huge batch of fresh, very ripe tomatoes.  Since our freezer is packed with salsa, I decided to make my 2nd batch of roasted tomato sauce.  Last month, I used about 10 pounds of tomatoes to make this easy Martha Stewart-inspired sauce.  We used that sauce on Wednesday on pasta and it was delicious (especially with the addition of Italian sausage and a little cream to thicken).
Here's simple ingredients & instructions:
Fresh, ripe tomatoes
Whole cloves of garlic, unpeeled
Onion, peeled and quartered
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt or kosher salt

Heat oven to about 375 degrees.  Drizzle some oil into bottom of large glass pan (I use a 9 x 13).  Toss in all ingredients and sprinkle with a bit of salt.

Roast in oven about 45 minutes or until skins split.  Remove and let cool.  It will look like this:


Pour off some of the liquid in the pan and squeeze garlic from skins, discarding skin.  Using a stick blender, gently pulse the tomato mixture until desired consistency.  Taste & adjust seasoning.  I sometimes use a fine sieve to remove more liquid. 

Place in freezer bags & freeze flat or put in fridge until ready to use.  Here is the yield from my batch in a 1 litre vintage French jar:


Easy and fresh!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Vintage Style

Earlier this month, I had my first photo shoot for my etsy site.  It was so exciting for me...I had amassed several vintage coats that I really needed an expert to photograph.  Cue in Kelly B., who had once offered to help me with etsy pics when I first launched my site.

What a treat this was.  Here is Kelly's blog post on the shoot.  You can check out the coats in my etsy store.  My sister is a trooper and turned out to be an incredible model for the feel we wanted. 

http://www.hopskipphotography.com/blog/post/2011/10/24/Vintage-Style.aspx

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Furnace is On

No hidden meaning there.
We just have the heat on regularly now as the days and nights are becoming colder.  I love curling into my warm bed for quiet time.  It's nice having a husband whose body temperature always feels a good 10 degrees warmer than mine (he "loves" having my ice cold feet against his calves).  I almost phrased this: "It's great having a hot husband" but think that may be misconstrued. 

Our Tuesday morning Bible study was cancelled so I think we will drive to Menards for some furnace filters, maybe stop by my sister's house.  Last night I made some more marinara sauce in the crock pot and the smell was so savory good in the house on this cold morning.  We canned 12 large jars of pomegranate and plum jam on Sunday night.  Our deep freeze is crammed full of jelly:


My parent's freezer is stocked with some of the jars as well as our upstairs freezer.  Thank goodness I bought all that pectin at Meijer when it was 48 cents per packet.  (Some of this is pesto, marinara, salsa and apple butter).  Almost 100% of the organic fruit was gifted to me before it was dumped into compost.  All the canning has made me appreciate the modern conveniences we are blessed to have.  It blows my mind to think about how much work it was for a family to put dinner on the table back in the pioneer days.  Harvest time has a nice ring to it when you see the pretty Indian corn & pumpkins, but harvest used to equal grueling work, work that was completely necessary for survival.

God has been teaching me so many things in this season.  This week has been a challenge in many ways....learning to lean on Him and not keep "taking back" and having a pity party over all the burdens that He has lifted from my hands.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Beautiful Fall

The month of October has been so beautiful here in the Midwest.  Since there hasn't been many windy days, the trees are full of leaves.  Some are still green but many have changed to flaming reds, gold, orange and purple.  This fall is possibly one of the most gorgeous I have ever seen.

This fall has also found me very busy (mostly in the kitchen).  We have been blessed to receive a huge amount of organic produce that likely would have been composted or thrown away.  When I bring it home, I know that I need to get busy prepping it within a few hours-it is that ripe.  My parents came to dinner last night and after we ate my mom helped me make plum and raspberry jam.  We invented a new recipe and it is delicious.  Our yield was 3 pints and 5 quarts.  We also chopped apples (unpeeled) for the crock pots.  They were soft and cooked down today, so I ran them through the Foley food mill and made unsweetened sauce.  That sauce is now reducing so I can have apple butter for fall baking.  My mom is an excellent cook and she is always so helpful to keep my kitchen tidy.

Today I made more jam from 3 bags of organic grapes (green, red & black) that were on their way to becoming wine.  I added some plums that were soft, too.  I got about 4 1/2 quarts total and brought some to the neighbor's home.  The salsa just finished and I popped it into the fridge to chill.  The result of making salsa, apple butter & jam at one time is that your house smells oddly wonderful.  A little garlicky, a little plummy.



The boys (and E) and dozing off on the couch right now and I need to go take a shower.  God is so gracious and good to our family. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

What is this?!

After scouring the internet high and low, I have yet to find a definitive answer as to what function this item serves:




My first thought is wine carrier, especially because MADE IN ITALY is stamped on leather.  The strap shows wear and the metal components of the strap do not look new.  Lined in thick black fabric, needlepoint on outside.

Any vintage buffs out there who can shed some light on this?
Thanks!!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

No More Jelly Jars

Once again, I resorted to a random container to hold jelly. 


The color of the jelly is so beautiful; it was made with very ripe red and yellow plums.  Mr. K.  gave me a giant bag of plums and they were on the verge of turning into wine.  After washing them and pulling out the pit (yes, they were that soft), I cooked them down in the Dutch oven.  When the peels were slipping off and the pot was a bubbling, fragrant mass, I added a bit at a time to my makeshift chinois.  The juice dripped slowly and I pressed the pulp.  The plums produced about 8-10 cups juice and a few cups of pulp.

Sugar and pectin added and...voila!...plum jelly.  I only had a few jars so the lot of it will sit a covered refrigerator dish.  I covered and saved the pulp because I remember reading that it makes fantastic fruit leather.  If anyone knows of a good fruit leather recipe, let me know!

Off to start my quiet time, the best part of my day.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Tart Cranberry Lemon Bread

A few years ago I created a recipe for cranberry lemon bread.  As a lover of tart-sweet breads, I never found a recipe that was "sparkling" tart...puckering lemon and tart cranberries with a lemony-vanilla cake-like bread.  Many experiments later, this bread is our hands-down favorite, loaded with cranberries and walnuts.  The batter is VERY stiff and it almost needs to be patted into the loaf pans.  It makes 3 generous 9 x 5 loaves so some can be frozen.


1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp. lemon zest
Juice from 2 lemons +  jam to equal 1 1/2 cups (I used homemade yellow plum preserves)

4 cups flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt

About 3 cups fresh/frozen cranberries (I use a 16oz bag)
About 1-1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts

Cream butter & sugar.  Add eggs.  Add zest & juice/jam mixture and mix all.  Sift together dry ingredients and blend into wet.  Last add berries & nuts and mix together.  (A KitchenAid reigns supreme here).  

Lightly spray or butter three 9x5 loaf pans.  Place batter (stiff!!)  into pans and press down, if necessary.  Bake in 350 degree oven until done (about 45 minutes; I usually determine by the smell and/or pressing center of loaf).  Let cool and slice.  Like most breads, it tastes even better if you can restrain yourself and let it rest a couple days.

*Also waiting to make my pumpkin latte.  Etsy has been so busy, among other things.  Per MySweetCreations suggestion, I am going to buy some vanilla syrup (or make some).

Stay tuned!!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Fall in the Midwest

Unlike my husband, I am thrilled when the hot, muggy days begin to give way to cool days and cooler nights.  Autumn has been my favorite season for as long as I can remember. 

One of my favorite memories is a day spent raking my Grandma Fitzgerald's huge yard, heaping the leaves into massive piles that were twice the size of me or my sister, Jill.  (They seemed like small mountains).  The day was chilly and I remember getting cold even with my jacket on.  Burning leaves was the climax of our fun day and the smell of the huge bonfire and smoke was/is wonderful.

We have been "blessed" with many trees in our yard.  Unfortunately, leaves must now be bagged and placed curbside.  Adding insult to injury, the Village requires waste stickers on each bag.  We usually have around 30:( 

The fall baking has already begun.  In a few weeks, Meijer will have their apple sale.  They bring in about 10 varieties of fresh apples from Michigan and supply bags for filling.  For a flat price, one can cram as many apples as possible in a bag.  T & C help choose a colorful variety. We pile them into vintage bowls and use them for all kinds of baking.  Two favorite recipes are: chunky apple cake and apple butter.  I think I posted both recipes last fall....I will check & link back.

Seeing all the advertising for pumpkin spice lattes has made me want to learn how to make them at home.  Doesn't everything taste better homemade?  I will be trying this weekend and will post pics & review. 

Best news of all this week!  My sister, Lisa, had a baby girl!  After 3 boys, baby Hannah is a much anticipated arrival.  Cannot wait to meet her.

As for my adventures in vintage, T & I were out last night and I spotted a curious cookie jar shaped like a pig.  He looked "familiar" to me and I was fairly certain that he was a collector's item.  We scooped him up for $2.99 and here is his listing.  Found out that he is, indeed, a collector's item:

http://www.etsy.com/listing/81373503/american-bisque-cookie-jar-1950s-cookie

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Wisdom from my sister

Does every stay at home mom feel like September is actually the "start" of the year as opposed to January?  This past week, month has been busy.  Between the new quarter for children's ministry, managing the soccer team and prepping T for school, it has been non-stop action.

We have been very consistent in adhering to regular family devotions and it has been a welcome moment at the day's end.  If any body has ideas on what would be a resource for both 10 and 3 year old boys, let me know! 

Next week, my Tuesday Bible study starts up again and I am so excited for B & A to be teaching!  I miss the accountability, the prayer time, the mommy talks. 

Now on to the title of the post.  My sister, Lisa, was a guest blogger for a website and had some great thoughts to share on being a wife.

http://www.domestickingdom.com/2011/07/11/first-hugs-and-couch-time/#comment-25

Monday, August 29, 2011

Sad Day

When I was pregnant with Charlie, I was part of an online mom's group.  It was a wonderful group of lovely ladies and we kept in touch after our babies were born.  One of the moms had a little guy born with many health issues and we watched him fight and recover many times.  After I deleted my FB account, I still could access his care page to check in on updates, etc.  Last night this little boy went to be with Jesus after a long, hard fight.  It made me reflect on how important it is to be grateful for every day I have with my family.

Please pray for this family.  The mom's name is Aimee.  Here is a picture of sweet Brayton:

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Flea Market Fun

T has really enjoyed researching antiques and vintage finds with me lately.  As a special treat, I took him for a mommy-son "date night" to the all night flea market at the Wheaton Fairgrounds.  He was beside himself with excitement as this was his first flea market ever.  It had been a really long time (too long!) since I had gone....

We paced ourselves and I taught him to compare prices, make mental notes and plan out his purchases.  He found a midgetoy ambulance right off the bat and fell in love it.  When he asked the best price, he was so thrilled that it was $1.  Later he found two Tootsie Toy cars for $3 each.  He politely offered $5 for two and the seller said "yes".  I purchased an old, heavy 2-hole punch as well as a bag of 4 cookie cutters from her.  They were both from her bargain $1 table.

Early in the evening we saw a fantastic carrom board in great vintage shape.  It was a steal at $10 and we offered $8.  Planning on hanging in the "new" basement-it's big, cool and looks funky.

We also bought what may be my creepiest purchase ever: an old mechanical monkey that blows bubbles.  He is part tin, part well-loved fur and 100% scary.  For $5, I thought he would be a great match for the other monkey that I purchased for the nursery years ago.

T chose 1/2 pound of caramel creams to share; they were $1.75.  A healthy dinner of nachos & funnel cake was washed back with soda.  T joked that we probably burned off a little bit from all our walking.  I won't tell you how we got the funnel cake for free, but yes, it was free.  And no, I did not pick it out if the garbage.  That's just most of my furniture....

Here are some photos of our treasures:

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Another Salsa/Produce Post



Picture 1 is the salsa ingredients in the pot.  That square shaped chunk is chipotles with adobo sauce.  I can never use a whole can, so I freeze what is leftover and then break into chunks for salsa making.

The 2nd picture is just a sampling of all the beautiful colors from my heirloom varieties this summer.
We had two pots of salsa on the stove and made 6 pints and 2 quarts for the freezer.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Putting Up Corn

Summer is starting to wind down and we picked up a huge amount of fresh sweet corn from Mr. Kerr late this morning.  T & C helped me shuck it on the back porch-perfect weather!  I just followed my standard steps: removed silks, boiled for 7 minutes, shocked in ice bath, sliced kernels from cobs and packed int freezer bags.  We have 8 full quarts for winter.  Now to tackle the zucchini...I wish I knew someone who wanted to trade their upright freezer for a cubic one!


We had a fantastic family getaway in Rockford, just had fun watching soccer and swimming and meeting new (and old) friends.  The hotel stay was so much fun for all of us and much needed.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Easy & Healthy Chicken Recipe

There was a terrific recipe that I saw on youtube this week via one of my channel subscriptions.  It is for a "Mexican Style Chicken" and was so simple that I had to try it.  Huge success because it was so quick, inexpensive and got a thumbs up from all the guys.  I changed the recipe a bit and used 2 pounds chicken, 1 pkg. fajita seasoning and aboout 1/2 cup breadcrumbs.

http://youtu.be/1mx4Q-WzwwY

T and I went to Great America for his "special day" yesterday.  Roller coasters & I are no longer friends....I cannot fathom that I used to be able to ride coasters all day long without a headache or dizziness.  We had a great time and made some good memories.


10% off everything in my etsy store for August with coupon code :AUGUSTSUGARCOOKIE

Monday, July 25, 2011

First Tomatoes and Cheap, Fabulous Dinner

Today I picked about 25 little cherry tomatoes from the garden.  I have several small varieties planted so I carried in a beautiful array of tasty little tomatoes.  Here is a picture of them, halved.


The crazy weather (heavy rains and high winds) have taken their toll on my garden, but the tomatoes are still robust as ever.  The basil was begging to be picked, too, so I brought in a bowlful for pesto making.  Here is my pesto recipe:
http://sweetaprondays.blogspot.com/2010/08/toasted-walnut-pesto.html

After making the pesto, my only task was to wait for the water to boil.


The boys had hot pasta dressed with pesto and E & I had the same but covered ours with cherry tomatoes and freshly grated Parm. 

Tastes like summer and the whole meal was about $2!

Overflowing Cherry Jam

This past week has been sooooooo busy! 

Last week, I volunteered to be the Manager for T's soccer team, thinking that this role was pretty simple: emailing game times, snack sign ups, etc.  Um, yeah.  Let's just say that I now understand why God was telling me to take some things off my plate.  No complaints, though, because I am so excited to meet new families and friends and be a light in my community.

Mid-week, Mr. Kerr called to tell me he had some cherries and wanted to know if I would like some.  We drove to his home and he gave me about 12 pounds (yes, 12!) of amazing bing cherries.  They were dark, sweet and ready to eat.  Obviously, there is no way we could eat those cherries without having serious intestinal issues...so we made jam.

My nails and fingers are still slightly tinged with purple from the massive pile of cherries that I pitted.  I used the immersion blender to chop them since I know it would create more juices than chopping by hand.  Stirred in the sugar to absorb the juice and then the pectin. 

This is some scary delicious jam.

We drove a jar to Mr. Kerr later in the evening.  What a wonderful gift he has given us by his generous heart.  I did not mention that he also gave me mini organic Brussels sprouts, red peppers, yellow peppers, organic carrots and 5 packages of Emmantaler cheese from Whole Foods!!!  Yep, those will be in the freezer until fondue night. 

On a side note, if AMy K. or Julie C. or any other size 0-2 gals are reading this, I have a very cute pair of Paper, Denim and Cloth jeans (dark) that I thrifted.  Up for the first taker!

This photo was from 1 year ago.  Our fun trip with Grandma, Grandpa, aunts, uncles & all the cousins.


This week:
-I surpassed over $1K profit from etsy since I started a few months back:)
-We had a date night at the Wyndham!
-DG was lambasted with insane thunderstorms
-Our A/C crashed, but it was an inexpensive fix
-I started reading an updated "My Utmost for His Highest" to go along with my old school copy-it's been wonderful reading them side by side.

Off to the post office to ship a huge set of Pyrex bowls.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Happy Birthday to Our Not So Little Guy



We had a relaxing day today and let Charlie play with his toys and take nice long nap.  We had leftover cupcakes from his party and just enjoyed family time.

Last night was the official "party".  We chose to keep it very, very simple as T was being picked up at the airport close to noon and we had R & I (cousins) spending the night.  Store-bought cake, veggies and chips and salsa were on the menu.  No stressing!

Happy Birthday, Charlie!  You bring us so much joy:)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Zucchuni Bread Variations

Charlie is having some down time after a busy morning of puzzles, play dough & baking.  We had a big old bag of zucchini on Sunday and we used about half of it to make the delicious zucchini chips I posted about last week. 

The other half I shredded and covered tightly with plastic wrap, waiting for a day that seemed a bit cooler for turning on the oven.  Baking with Charlie is always an excellent lesson in patience for me....at the height of our baking, here is what the island looked like:


I pulled up some tried and true recipes and made my usual pineapple zucchini bread since it freezes so well.  My pantry is stocked with canned pumpkin that I bought last winter for 50 cents since I love making pumpkin gingerbread, pumpkin crunch & allrecipes Downeast Maine pumpkin bread.  Charlie & I made a new recipe that we invented today-let's call it zucchini pumpkin bread.  When they come out of the oven, I will post a pic.  The house smells sooooo good right now.


3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup apple butter (I used my homemade stuff, but you can use oil here, too)
2 Tbs. oil
1 (15oz) can pumpkin
2 Tsp. vanilla
3 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon
2 1/2 cups zucchini, shredded
1 cup chopped walnuts, optional

Mix eggs, apple butter, oil, sugar and vanilla.  Stir in pumpkin.  Add rest of ingredients, except zucchini and nuts.  Fold those in last.  Bake at 350 degrees until done.  We made mini loaves and giant muffins.  They will probably all finish at different times.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Happy Anniversary

It's been a great adventure in just 4 years.  Looking forward to a long journey with my best friend.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Jill's Zucchini Contribution


Next week is my anniversary, although that has nothing to do with this post.  Just a favorite pic from our honeymoon, before the remnants of my spray tan washed off...

My sister Jill found a new recipe off allrecipes this week: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/baked-zucchini-chips/detail.aspx.  My younger sister, Lisa, got us all hooked on allrecipes back in 2003 and we have been swapping recipes every since.  Jill has her Masters in Chemistry and true to her chemistry roots, the girl measure everything with precision.  Lisa cooks a bit more like me, tossing in a bit of this and that.

The dish was polished off by everyone, even the kids!  We kept snacking on them while we prepped the salad, etc.  My mom also made a really great salad with toasted walnuts, bleu cheese, spring mix and tart apples.  It was dressed with a light homemade vinaigrette-yum.

It is for baked zucchini chips and is sooooo good.  She brought it for dinner at Aunt Betty's house with a dish of warm marinara for dipping.  Today I am stopping at Meijer because they have 49cents per pound zucchini and often they are locally grown. 

Will make a batch and share.  Share pictures, that is.  Etsy has kept me crazy busy! 

Friday, July 8, 2011

Pickled Carrots and Jalepenos

You know those little dishes of carrots and peppers that are placed on your table along with the chips & salsa?  Well, my husband really likes to eat these and they are so simple to make.  I have tried several different variations and they all have been to his liking.  One of the stores where I buy much of my produce had carrots and jalepenos on sale-39 cents per pound.  These are really good-we like them warm (just "cooked"), but they are super fresh and crisped out of the fridge.
1 pound carrots, peeled and sliced thin (no baby carrots)
6 large jalepenos, sliced and stems removed
1 medium onion, peeled and sliced
2 cups white vinegar
2 cloves garlic, sliced or a few shakes of Adobo seasoning
shake or two of kosher salt
handful of sugar (maybe 1/4 cup)

Boil vinegar, salt, sugar and Adobo.  Add carrots and cook about 4 minutes.  Add rest of ingredients, cook 2 more minutes.  Turn off heat, cover and let cool.  Store in jar in fridge. 

Saturday, July 2, 2011

New Etsy Items

My little vintage shop has been hopping!  The goal is to have around 100 items listed and I am well on my way.  There is a lot of time involved cleaning, researching, listing, but so far I have turned a profit that has exceeded my small goals for each month.  Here are some cute summer finds:

For the 80s prepster in all of us:


For the Kitschy Kitchen Nut (oh, wait, that's me):




Tman went to DC this morning.  We drove to the airport and waited until his plane left.  It is an odd feeling to see your child board a plane and then watch that plane pull away from you.  Thankful for the many verses that give me comfort, especially 2 Timothy 1:12 which says "...for I know the one in whom I trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until the day of his return".

Time for my quiet time.  Will post a new summer recipe tomorrow.   It has been too hot to bake these last few days.  Think I will make a batch of knox blocks tonight for C & E.  Raspberry.  Or lime?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

My Meat Grinder

Or should I say my meat grinder attachment.  For my birthday this year, I asked for a Kitchen Aid meat grinder attachment.  Having watched Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution on hulu has been eye-opening to say the least.  I WISH that I could afford to purchase all my groceries through a co-op, Farmer's Market or Whole Foods.  Since that is not an option, I decided that I could take a small step by grinding some of my own meat in order to avoid added water and chemicals and "sludge" (aka fatty parts, bone, cartiledge).
Bed Bath & Beyond's price was $49.99 and with my 20% off coupon, I paid $40.  T & I made our first recipe on Monday, just something I created in my head.  It turned out pretty good!  As usual, my measurements are not precise as I throw a little of this & that in the bowl, but these are a rough estimate.

Tex Mex Chicken Meatballs
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, chilled & cut into thin strips
1 medium onion, cut into eighths
2 canned chipotles (in adobo sauce)
1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs
1 cup masa
2 eggs
Adobo seasoning or garlic powder
Sea salt

Alternately grind chicken breast, chipotles & onion with coarse grind.  After all ground, change blades and process half of the mixture through the fine grind.  Add both course & fine grind mixtures together.  Add eggs, breadcrumbs, masa, about 2 tsp. adobo and 1 tsp. sea salt.  If mixture still feels too wet, add some more masa.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray 9 x 13" pan with cooking spray or drizzle with olive oil.  Using large scoop, form meatballs a bit larger than golf ball.  Place in  pan and cover with foil.  Bake about 30-40 minutes.  Check that they are cooked through and let cool with foil covering.  I froze half and the other half I used to make lettuce wraps.

We wrapped a meatball in a huge Romaine leaf with a bit of Queso Fresco tucked inside.  A slice of avocado or dollop of guacamole would be fantastic, too.

The fat content is super low on these & they are really flavorful.  My husband says they are excellent.  But then again, he says that about pretty much any food, so probably not the best critique;) 

Love my husband!  Soo glad that he is not a picky eater.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Birthday Fun

The sun always shines on June 26th!!  In all seriousness, I cannot recall a birthday with cloudy skies and this is my 38th b-day.  Today was beautiful, sunny and not too hot and humid.  After church, I took a nap (best gift ever!) and later we went to the Promenade to walk around with the boys.  My passenger side window was malfunctioning so we stopped at my parent's house to check on it.  It was nice to spend time there and the boys loved playing games with their Grandma. 
At 7pm, we started home and I decided to make an impromptu dinner: pizza croissants.  We slathered sauce and sprinkled Mozzarella on split croissants and broiled.  It was really simple and good, but not so healthy. 

Sold stuff on etsy that I need to prep for shipping tomorrow. 

Here are some pics from yesterday night when my sister's family & my dad joined us for pizza, salad and a trek to the DG Rotary Fest.


Charlie loved the classic car ride and was quite upset when Daddy took him off.  T, C, R & I riding on the "hot air balloon" ride.  Daredevils only need apply; I & R bravely had their hands up most of the time.


video

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Big Old Storm


These are the massive roots that you are looking at!  The tree fell into neighbor's yard & spared my tomatoes:)


North side of yard above


My favorite pine tree, toppled.

We were struck by a monstrous storm last night and the damage is unbelievable.  At my parent's home right now until we get power.  Will post pics.  3 massive trees were completely pulled up by the roots in our yard and the power lines are on the ground.

Despite the mess, we are so grateful that our home was spared.  We also feel honored that we can be a blessing to our neighbors. 

Monday, June 20, 2011

Tea Dye Fail, Sprinkle and Soccer

Well, not much to say about the tea dye.  It actually looked pretty decent, but the dark spots on the shoulders (realized from a hanger) still showed.  And I decided to do a tie dye effect in dark chocolate.  In my haste to remove the rubber bands to see the results, I accidentally cut a hole in the dress.  Oops.  At least it was only a $1.50 "experiment".



T's soccer season is over and it was a fun year.  They placed 1st in their division.  Here is T, C and T's best friend.  It has been such a blessing to form friendships with all the wonderful families on the team.



The annual Wilton sale is over.  The boys went with me and we got our usual haul: meringue powder, cello bags, parchment & some sprinkles.  When we came home I organized my sprinkle stash and decided to use a vintage spice rack to make a cute display.  After I yanked the spice rack from my etsy site (it cost me $4! at the thirft store), I cleaned the bottles in hot, soapy water.  After they dried, T & I used a funnel to fill with sprinkles.  It looks darling on the counter and will serve its purpose well.

VBS went really, really well.  It was a wonderful week and I was surprised at how much fun I had.  My craft room ladies were the best!  14 children made a decision for Christ and I think we made every child feel loved and safe.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Tea Dying

Now that VBS is over, I am excited to "officially" start summer with my boys.  T had an excellent report card so we celebrated by going to the A&W.  He loves the corn dog nuggets and smothering his fries in malt vinegar.  We were the only people in the restaurant so it was relaxing and a nice night out.
My etsy business is picking up.  It's so fun to field questions from buyers and research items.  Thank you, Lord, for giving me the passion for nostalgic "stuff"-I get to make some rag money & have fun, too.  Tonight I posted some high end shoes and started to work on a cream colored dress that I found.


The dress was a bargain at $1.50, marked down from $3.  There was a small yellow spot on the front that I was able to easily remove at home (thank you, Tech stain remover!).  After putting it on Irene, I noticed that there were two square shaped dark spots on both shoulders.  Not sure what they are, but was debating as to whether I should bleach the dress or not. 

Then I had an idea to tea stain the dress.  For years I have been wanting to try this and $1.50 was not a steep gamble. 


Here's the pot.  There are about 10 tea bags in there.  Not sure why it looks purple?


Here is the once-white dress.  Will post the "results" tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Pandamania!

It's on!

Today was day #2 of Pandamania VBS at church. So far it has been a fantastic 2 days. I am so grateful for the many workers that have come to help: moms, grandmas, dads, grandpas, teens....we are a motley crew!

Woke up with chills, aches and what feels like a sinus infection. Grateful for Tylenol and Mucinex. Will post recipes, garden pics, and more vintage finds after our busy week is over.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Recycled Wrappings

Recycled curtains from my Grandma's old house, chiffon rose made from old nightgown & wooden button. I think it is a book that I wrapped??


This is probably a purse. Used old toile upholstery fabric, topped off with a satin flower I made by burning edges.


Quick post.
Do I love to wrap pretty packages for my etsy customers? Yes!!

Tonight I wrapped the purple & gray package-a vintage aluminum 3 tiered cake carrier-in recycled jersey material. I sewed a fabric bag and popped on a big old flower.


The tan & blue package is two milk glass plates that I am shipping tomorrow. Some of my old cashmere sweaters had seen better days so I used them for mitten lining and wrapping. I had enough blue cashmere scrap to fashion a wee rose to fasten onto striped ribbon.


I hope my customers feel like they are getting a special gift!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Butter



When we stumbled onto a primitive butter press in my Grandma's cellar, it conjured up all kinds of images for me....mostly of my Grandma pressing big mounds of butter with a pretty flower design. When we took it to the nursing home, she instantly recognized the press, saying that she and Mrs. McQ (her neighbor) would make the flower impressions on 1 pound of butter.


Where am I going with this....


This past weekend I had the honor of offering a short devotional at my sweet friend's baby shower. She has two boys, both brought across the world into their mom & dad's arms here. Frankly, I have no advice to give because I feel like I am in the trenches of mommyhood right alongside her. But I do know of the best guidebook in the whole world...God's Truth, the Bible.


Deuteronomy 6:5-8 is a favorite passage of mine and I memorized it a couple years ago to remind me of what my requirements are in bringing up my boys.


Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols to your hands and bind them on your foreheads.


Let's break this down in practical mommy terms and I will share what I think God is speaking to me:


1) I am to IMPRESS these commands on my children. Much like that butter mold, the harder I press, the deeper the mark.


In order to impress them, I need to talk about them:


2) When you sit at home....when we sit at the dinner table, when we have family time.


3) When you walk along the road....when we are walking to downtown DG or just around the block, share God's amazing creation and handiwork.


4) When you lie down...each night spending time tucking in, praying with and speaking quietly to the boys. Some of my best talks with Tman are during this time-he feels free to share his heart.


5) When you get up...Before your feet hit the ground, talk to God about your day. Better start than coffee.


Hopefully, this encourages you. It has been a busy but wonderful weekend. The boys fell into bed exhausted from sun and playing in the sprinkler. My neighbor brought over a beautiful bouquet of red & white peonies in a pretty vase-she remembered that they are my favorite flower.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Busy Busy Busy

Apparently, I am not too busy to blog. C & I are waiting for nephew "I" to come play for the day while my sister Jill helps at my niece's school. The boys will "help" me run some errands, maybe we will see if Grandpa wants to go to lunch?
My schedule is very, very, very full.
For anyone that assumes stay at home moms eat bon bons all day long, here is my weekend:

Friday:
-Babysitting
-Errands
-Prepping Dinner
-Laundry
-Pack T's suitcase
-T's soccer game
-Drop T off to see his father (coming in for visit)
Saturday:
-Mow lawn
-Garden
-Baby shower (fun part!!)
-Write R12 curriculum for 1st-6th graders
-Set up for children's ministries at church
Sunday:
-Pick up T man
-Teach 1st-4th Sunday school
-Teach Jr. church
(*I don't always do this, but some teachers are on vacation)
-Get T's stuff ready for spring fair (Hawaiian theme)
-Prep etsy stuff for sale-(exceeding my goals-woohoo!)
-Call VBS helpers

Just telling a friend that I am not feeling too stressed about any of this. I have really been working hard about choosing to be content & not grumbling. That said, I am not always successful but am making baby steps.

Philippians 2:14
Do everything without arguing or grumbling.

Even if you do not subscribe to the belief that God's Word is your guidebook, this verse is so helpful.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Super Easy Apple Butter







When Mr. Kerr gives you apples (10+ pounds!), you make apple butter.


Our church has a wonderful ministry that helps provide food for those in need. Now headed up mostly by a gentleman named Mr. Kerr, Gleaners donates MILLIONS of pounds of food every year to local shelters, pantries, etc.


During the summer months, they have an abundance of farm fresh veggies. There is usually such a surplus that the rest of the veggies are brought by church & we get a mass email basically stating to come and help ourselves to as much produce as we would like.


It. is. wonderful.


In past years, we have brought home bushels of fresh sweet corn that I have put up for the winter. Same goes for green beans, zucchini, squash. Once, a very nice organic grocery store had ordered way too many Purple Cherokee heirloom tomatoes. No one wanted the odd looking dark tomatoes so I loaded up boxes of them. Some of them were made into tomato paste and many of them I oven dried for recipes that called for sun dried tomatoes. They were delicious.


When apples are in season, I usually make applesauce & apple butter if we take home a giant bag. Mr. Kerr had a huge sack of organic Fuji apples and organic bananas that no one wanted and he kindly asked if I would like them. Yes, please!! He gave me a box of about 25 lemons last week. On Sunday, I mashes all the bananas and froze some of the "mash". The rest went into two big batches of banana bread. I froze one batch for lunches and we have been enjoying the other one. We drove over to Mr. Kerr's home with a hot pan of bread, too.


Today, Charlie & I peeled and chopped about 20 of the apples. Well, I did the peeling & chopping, C did the dumping apple pieces into crock pot. We added a bit of water (maybe 1/2 cup) and set it on medium and left it to cook. About 7 hours later, I took off the lid and used a whisk to break up any lumps. Left the lid off and turned on high to let the liquid reduce, creating a jammier texture.


It's done & I just ladled it piping hot into freezer jars. Although it is delicious to eat, I actually make mine as a butter substitute for pumpkin gingerbread or other low fat baked goods. There are many apple butter recipes out there that call for a tremendous amount of sugar, but I think it tastes much better with zero added sugar. It is really, really sweet and rich. Sometimes I add cinnamon & cloves. Let me tell you, Yankee Candle cannot compete with the fresh apple smell in my house right now.

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