Homemade Gifts Part 2

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I know Christmas is over, but I thought I’d share some of the other gifts I made this year anyway.

T-shirt scarves are big right now.  Just google them and you’ll find tons of different styles and tutorials.  I took a couple of ideas and made my own.  I wish I had made the strands a bit thicker for a chunkier look.  Oh well.  it’s a fabulous way to upcycle those old t-shirts we all have!

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Here’s a little idea inspired by a similar game I saw in a magazine.  I just washed out used cans and covered the outside in scrapbook paper.  Wood craft sticks have Charades ideas written on both sides- the red side has adult phrases and the green side has kid phrases.  On this particular set I put Bible phrases on the bottom of the sticks.  The idea can is only to be used when you need help coming up with your own words and I put a wide variety of topics on the sticks (movies, books, animals, famous people, places, proverbs etc.) to help keep the ideas flowing.

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Happy New Year’s everybody!  Upcoming posts: New Year’s Resolutions and the homemade kid’s kitchen

Homemade Gifts

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Merry Christmas everybody!  It’s just a few days away….

My family has a little tradition that we’ve been doing for decades and is one of my favorites.  We draw names each year and make presents for each other.  When we were little, the gifts had to be homemade and so we either got to choose to work with our dad out in his wood shop or sew something under the direction of mom.  That rule is more lenient these days, but many of us still end up making things from scratch most of the time.

Here are a few quick and simple personalized gift ideas that I used this year!  (hopefully my niece and nephews don’t read the blog!)

I borrowed this idea from here. Gwen really wanted to help make things and this was the perfect project for her.  And I got a great deal on the shirts!  Sorry I don’t have pics of the finished products.  They turned out pretty cool!

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This next one is also from I am Momma Hear Me Roar.  I love her stuff!  I used some fabric paint on a stamp to liven up some of the more boring fabricsDSC_0026_12

…and here’s what I came up with!  My sewing leaves something to be desired. I just hope it fits. 🙂

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I have a few more projects to finish, so part 2 will be posted soon!  Happy Holidays!

Dinner in a Pumpkin

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Looking for something special to serve at your Halloween Party?  This is one of my favorite festive meals.  I got this recipe from my friend Bonnie, but I’m sure there are lots of different versions out there.

Ingredients:

1 medium pumpkin (make sure it will fit in your oven)

1- 1.5 lbs sausage

1 small chopped green and/or red pepper

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup chopped celery

1 large can mushrooms

2 cans cream of chicken soup

1/2 cup water

1 cup sliced olives

1/2 cup slivered almonds or water chestnuts

1 garlic clove (chopped)

2 cups cooked rice

1 tsp oregano (and/or other spices of your choice)

pepper

Directions:

cut top off of pumpkin (make sure to do it at an angle so the top can be replaced to cook)

scoop out the insides- make sure it’s nice and clean!

rub salt on the inside of the pumpkin

saute the sausage, onion, pepper, and celery until sausage is completely cooked; drain fat

add the remaining ingredients, mix, and put mixture in pumpkin

replace top; put pumpkin on baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 1 1/2- 2 hours
The best thing about this recipe is that it is very forgiving.  If you’re missing one or two ingredients, no problem! Just substitute something else, or leave them out altogether.  And it’s not even necessary to actually measure out all the ingredients.  Just throw them together and bake!  And season it however you want- be creative!

Happy Halloween!

Airplane Birthday Party

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Our oldest turned three a few weeks ago.  Crazy!  Here are a few pics from the party.

We found these Styrofoam planes at the dollar store for the kids to put together, decorate, and fly in the backyard.

My mom made yummy cupcakes!

The kids also made planes using pushup pops as the body and sticks of gum for the wings.  I don’t have a picture of one, though.

The three-year-old got a lot of fun things- including this scooter,  a pilot hat made from upcycled t-shirts, and a jacket that I embellished. I got the hat pattern from I Am Momma Hear Me Roar

The jacket is a jeans jacket we found at the thrift store that I embellished with iron-ons from a craft store.

A few days after the party we went to an Air Force Museum near where we live.  The three year old loved it.

Next festivity- Halloween!  Anybody got any great costume or party ideas?

Pesto Presto!

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Here’s another garden favorite- hopefully you’re all still harvesting!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This recipe comes from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book and can also be found on their website here.  It is super yummy and although I haven’t figured out exactly how much it costs, I’m sure it’s cheaper than buying pesto, especially if you grow your own basil.  Here’s the recipe with my own comments in parenthesis.

Homemade Pesto

1/4 cup olive oil or cooking oil

1/2 cup chopped walnuts and/or pine nuts

2 cups firmly packed fresh basil leaves

1/2 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese (or you could leave the cheese out like I did.  Still yummy.)

4 cloves garlic, peeled and quartered

1/4 teaspoon salt

Black pepper

In a food processor bowl or blender container combine oil, nuts, basil, cheese, garlic, and salt. Cover and process or blend until nearly smooth, stopping and scraping sides as necessary.  Add pepper to taste.  If you’re not serving the pesto immediately, divide it into 3 portions. Place each portion in a small airtight container and chill for 1 to 2 days or freeze for up to three months.

Super yummy and super fast! Pesto is great on pasta, bread with cheese and tomato slices, baked potatoes, or stirred into mayonnaise for a stellar chicken or pasta salad.  I love that it can be frozen so I can enjoy that basil taste any time of year!

Homemade pesto on baguette slices topped with mozzarella cheese and garden tomatoes

 

Garden Tomato Gazpacho

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It’s harvesting time!  My corn and peppers this year are a little sparse, but the tomatoes and  zucchini are producing in abundance.  I thought I’d share a few of my favorite summertime recipes that will use a lot of that fresh garden veg.  Can’t let it go bad!

Today’s comes from an amazing cookbook called The Food of Spain I picked up from Borders a few years ago.  It not only has great recipes, but it’s full of the history of regional Spanish cuisine and beautiful photographs.  I don’t cook from it very often, but I do love sitting down and looking at the pictures from time to time.

Gazpacho is a Spanish chilled tomato soup- it’s easy to make and very refreshing.  A must have on a hot summer’s day!  Here’s a classic recipe with my own comments on the side.

Ingredients:

2 slices day-old white crusty bread, broken into pieces (I used fresh wheat bread.)

2 lbs 4 oz vine-ripened tomatoes, peeled*, seeded and chopped

1 red pepper, seeded and roughly chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 small green chili, chopped (optional)

1 teaspoon sugar

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar (I used balsamic vinegar)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

*(the secret to peeling tomatoes is to score the bottoms, put the tomatoes in boiling water for 10 seconds and then immediately  plunge them into cold water and the peels should come right off.  Also, all of these ingredients that are going into the food processor don’t need to be chopped much.)

Garnish Ingredients:

1 cucumber, finely diced

1/2 red pepper, finely diced

1/2 green pepper, finely diced

1/2 red onion, finely diced

1/2 ripe tomato, diced

Soak the bread in cold water for 5 minutes, then squeeze out any excess liquid.  Put the bread in a food processor with the tomato, pepper, garlic, chili, sugar and vinegar and process until smooth.

With the motor running, gradually add the oil to make a smooth creamy mixture. Season to taste. Refrigerate for at least two hours.  Add a little of the extra vinegar, if desired.

To make the garnish, mix together the ingredients. Spoon the chilled gazpacho into soup bowls, top with a little of the garnish and serve the remaining garnish in separate bowls on the side.

I like to serve it with french bread or a baguette. Enjoy!

Peach Limeade

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Despite the heat wave, my garden grows!  We’ve been enjoying lettuce and spinach and I’m eagerly awaiting the ripening of the tomatoes.  The apricot tree is also producing an abundance of ripe fruit.  Ahhhh, the joys of the harvest.

I personally don’t love the heat (and being 8 months pregnant certainly doesn’t help) so I have a variety of ways to beat it.  Living in a basement apartment is #1.  My #2 favorite way is with cool treats.  My latest cold delight was inspired by the beverages we enjoyed whilst dining out last week.

The versatile Brazilian Limeade.

All you do is:  zest and squeeze 2-3 limes, add your favorite fruit (I used a couple of peaches), ice, water, and sweetened condensed milk, mix in the blender and Enjoy!

Most of the recipes I found online required that you remove all the pulp by straining the mixture through cheesecloth, but where’s the sense in that?  You loose all the fiber and nutrients and it’s one more step to bother with.  I’ll leave mine thick and pulpy, thank you very much.

  P.S. I didn’t use sweetened condensed milk this time round- I just added a little bit of sugar.  So refreshing!  Try it!

 

Desk Make Over!

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Good news!  My garden is starting to sprout!  That’s not what I’m blogging about today, but I had to share with someone.

Today’s blog features my latest project.  While we were packing up our house and moving all our stuff I decided that I needed a new storage and space solution for my crafty supplies.  In our old apartment, they basically resided in a set of plastic drawers and several cardboard boxes in the back of the closet.  My mother-in-law was kind enough to support my cause and donated an old roll top desk she had in storage.  The desk was in fairly good condition- just a little wobbly and the finish was not very attractive.  We got it moved without it falling apart and I finally got to work on it.
One side of the desk top had broken off from the base so we glued and nailed it back together.  Wobbly problem solved.

We sanded the rough spots on the desk, but not enough to take off all the old finish. We stained it with the darkest shade of stain we could find. Maybe I didn’t rub off enough of the stain but I like how dark it turned out.  I then put on two coats of polyurethane and let it cure for two days. Done.

I was all set to buy new hardware, but the style I liked was expensive so we bought some metallic silver spray paint that really updated the look of the old hardware.

I felt like it needed something else and I’ve been wanting to try this lace finish out.  I just taped newspaper around the panel I wanted to paint and taped some cheap lace over the panel.  Some people use a temporary spray adhesive to attach the lace to the surface but I didn’t have any on hand and I didn’t want to make yet another trip to the store.  My method seemed to work fine.  I used the silver spray paint I bought for the hardware to spray the lace pattern on the side.

I think next time I do the lace thing, I’ll get a lace with a bigger design.  Other than that, I’m quite pleased with the outcome.  Now all I have to do is child-proof the drawers and we’ll be in business!

My First Real Garden

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Ahhhh….. springtime!  The temperatures are rising, the birds are singing, the flowers are blooming….. Whoops!  Hope it’s not to late to plant!

This was my exact thought process not two weeks ago.  It’s been so unusually warm this spring I probably could have planted a month ago.  But we just moved and even though there’s a nice spot of ground in the backyard for planting (hooray!) unpacking and organizing the house has taken precedence.  We finally got around to planting last weekend.   Neither my husband or I have ever planted a garden by ourselves.  Turns out it’s a lot easier when someone just tells you what to plant and how than trying to decide and figure it all out by yourself. 

We ended up buying tomato and herb starts because obviously we’d missed the tomato planting window and, well, my track record with herbs isn’t too impressive.  I expect the herb starts will do much better than my seedlings last year since they are well established and planted in the garden instead of pots.

We also planted several rows of corn, peppers, spinach, lettuce, cucumbers, watermelon, zucchini, and assorted squash.  I hope something grows.  I’ll keep you posted. 

The “Mummy” Wrap Necklace

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The “Mummy” Wrap Necklace

Hey! Thought I’d share a little easy something I did last week.  I call it The “Mummy” Wrap Necklace- mainly because while I was making it I felt like I was wrapping each individual bead like a tiny mummy- and then my sister pointed out that it was wrapped by a “mummy”! We’re so hilarious.  Ahem.

I watched several tutorials on how to do these types of necklaces…. after I made this one, of course.  So my tutorial may be a little different than what you’ve seen, but I love the way it turned out so I’m sharing.

Supplies:

-a large piece of off-white cotton fabric (mine was half a yard but I only used three strips)

-assorted beads (or anything round- marbles, fake berries, malt balls, etc.)

-a snack (could also use malt balls)

Speaking of malt balls, this is a great way to make those candy leis.

First, I took my fabric and ripped three long strips about an inch and a half wide.  The strips should be wide enough to wrap around your biggest beads one and a half times.  I left my edges raw, so this length ensured that the beads wouldn’t slip out.  You can also sew the strips into a tube if that’s your style.

I started from one end and worked my way to the other, but you could also start in the middle.  Either way, make sure you have enough of an end to tie when you’re done.  Then, you just tie a single knot, wrap the fabric immediately after the knot around a bead (tightly), tie another knot and so on.

It’s really very simple.  I started out with small beads, then medium beads and put my big beads in the middle.  You can do  whatever you want.  When I got to the end of one strip I simply tied another strip on with a granny knot and continued wrapping beads.  If you wanted a tidier looking necklace you could sew several strips together.
When I finished with all the beading, I took some smaller strips and tied them on to one side for decoration.  I’ve seen flowers added to these necklaces as well.And Voila!  It looks great on Lindsey!
I also made this bracelet version.
So cute and so easy!  My favorite part?  They are virtually kid proof.
Thanks for reading!