Ps 37:4 Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Pretty Place Settings

I had a wonderful Thanksgiving and I hope all the American readers did too! It is so fun for me to prepare this meal every year. My parents come in from TN and we just eat and laugh and spend great time together. I usually try to decorate the table differently every year. We always use china and I have 2 sets that were given to me. This year we used the white Mikasa with silver trim. I had a piece of sunflower fabric gifted to me recently and really didn't know what I would use it for-VOILA! The fresh flowers were given to my daughter for her 13th birthday and they really made a beautifully simple center piece. I do plan to post my sweet potato casserole and baked macaroni and cheese recipes this week. They are good all year long!! Putting the zip in my simplicity pattern today. Hope to have it completed this week. I did no sewing over the holiday-just spent a glorious 4 days with my family and friends!
Thanksgiving Menu:
spiral sliced glazed ham
baked macaroni and cheese
hash brown casserole
mashed potatoes
sweet potato casserole
cranberry relish with pineapple and walnuts
strawberry pretzel salad-YUM!
green beans
brussel sprouts
yeast rolls
southern living cheesecake
carrot cake

Fondue For the Family

I had a reader ask about the "fondue" referenced in my checkerboard headband post. We Americans tend to race through meals, clean up and move on to the next task at hand. We think of meal times as necessary sustanance instead of relational opportunities. Fondue does not allow for the "quickie" meal. You must cut up meats into bite size pieces prior to the meal. You can also do veggies if you like them fried. My fondue pot has a moving base that holds 6 individual cups of food. You poke your skewer into the meat and then place in the boiling oil to cook. You then have to wait on your food. I usually bake sweet potatoes and serve salad so that people have ready food in front of them while they are waiting on each delectable piece of meat/shrimp to cook. I love sitting at the table for atleast an hour with family and friends, laughing and talking about life while we eat tasty little morsels. You don't typically leave the table with a belly ache because you eat slowly. We actually realize we are full. You can do cheese fondue with veggies and breads, chocolate fondue with pound cake and fruits. It is all good. I think my family needs to have a fondue night every month! Most fondue oil recipes call for peanut or grapeseed oil. You can visit GoFondue on the web for many recipes.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Pre-Turkey Day sewing

I had to take my oldest to college classes this morning and then go finish grocery shopping for Thanksgiving. I ran in Hancock to get a zipper and thread for this teal/turquoise polyester material I am using for the Simplicity dress pattern. Came home and put everything away and decided to try to get the main parts of the dress put together. I figured it would be better hanging on my dress form rather than in a stack on my table. So after a couple of hours of sewing I am in pretty good shape. The dress is of course inside out, but I wanted to try it on to see about the fit. Next up will be the zip. These side inset pieces were a little weird. I don't think I did them quite right. The instructions said to slash the solid lines-which I didn't do because I didn't know what they were talking about*. They become darts, so now I understand why you needed to slash them. You get odd bulk from the first seam if you don't cut the material. They look ok, but I may have to fix them. Polyester seems to be a dream to work with. No wonder everything was made out of it in the 60's and 70's. I am using a size 16 ballpoint needle and polyester thread. Several of the dart seams are done with the stretch stitch. Lots of new things for me, but I like learning new techniques and stitches. Not sure if I want to leave this sleeveless so I can wear a tissue weight long sleeve under it. Maybe the sleeves would look best. I will get my mom's opinion while she is here. My parents get here tomorrow and I can't wait to see them! Will be posting some of my tried and true Thanksgiving recipes soon.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Checkerboard headband and retro dress progress

My family went to a lovely wedding this past weekend in Tennessee. The bride and groom are such a sweet couple. I am taking the week off for school so that I can ready my house for Thanksgiving, but also because we need a school break. I was able to finish painting the shed today and pick up sticks and black walnuts from the yard as a result of the warm weather we are having. I also slipped in some knitting and sewing prep time as well. I found this cute, easy headband pattern online last night, so I decided to give it a try today. It is going pretty quickly. The pattern designer said she made hers 16 inches long. You just sew the ends together once it is long enough to fit your head. She made hers from worsted weight cotton, but I decided to use some acrylic to test the pattern first. I also cut out all my fabric for my 70's dress. Will maybe get some sewing in tomorrow. My youngest daughter turned 13 today and we are having fondue tonight. It makes for a fun meal and everybody just cooks and talks and eats. Great way to spend an evening if you haven't tried it.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Simplicity 9158

Well my sock is just a cuff and a flap. The videos don't give detailed instructions on how to turn the heel and I am not experienced enough to figure out how to proceed. I will start over on a new sock pattern, but for now I am working on the Christmas wreath paper punch and it is turning out great. I decided to cut the pattern pieces for this dress (view 1) out tonight. I was given a bunch of material from a really sweet man who lost his wife about a year ago. There is a turquoise polyester double knit in the bunch and I am going to use it. Probably won't get to far on this due to some weekend plans, but maybe Thanksgiving week. I am looking forward to a school break and some retro sewing.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Heel flaps and knitting spools

I finished the heel flap for my sock and will soon be watching the video that shows me how to turn the heel. I hope this all comes together. It would be very encouraging to have something that actually resembles a wearable sock in the end. I am starting to get the hang of knitting in the round.
On another note, I had breakfast and coffee at Panera with a lovely new friend this morning and we swapped knitting stories. I purchased a knitting spool on clearance at Hancock a week or so ago and gave it to her. She had a nice large wooden one that she bought at a craft fair and brought to church a while back. The one I bought was much smaller, so therefore it makes more narrow I-cords. These are pretty fascinating little tools. I brought hers home with me today and my youngest daughter loves them. You could use a single thin cord for a pendant necklace or braid three larger ones together for a cute scarf or belt. Ah the possibilities!

Puppy Chow for People?

This is such an odd name for a yummy little treat. It is really easy to make and store and most people love the chocolate/peanut butter combo. It looks pretty in tins as Christmas gifts for teachers, neighbors, etc.
Melt together in microwave or on stove top:
1 stick butter
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
10-12 ounces chocolate chips
(I do this in the microwave in a 5 qt plastic bowl)
Once it is melted, stir until combined and smooth.
Then stir in a 12 ounce box of rice or corn chex cereal. Make sure all the cereal gets coated. I then take a gallon size ziplock bag and pour powdered sugar in. Better to start with a 1/2 cup of sugar and then add more if needed. ( That way when you pour out the first batch you don't loose all the extra sugar.) Start scooping in the cereal mixture and then seal and shake. Check to see if all the cereal is coated. I do this in batches. It is easier to coat them when the bag is not entirely full. About halfway is best. You can store this in the fridge, but we just put it in a sealed storage container on the countertop. It goes fast, so it is a good thing the recipe makes a very large batch!

Butterick 5435-finished

I think vintage aprons are so feminine. Hancock had their patterns on sale for $0.99 a week ago and I couldn't resist this cute retro pattern. I bought this material at Walmart . It was one of those 5 yards for 5 dollars. I know it is cheap cotton, but it is silky soft and has a really nice drape for the apron. The pattern has an optional pocket that I might attach later. It also has jumbo rickrack. I want the apron to be cute but usable, so I haven't added any of the extras yet. Now if I can get this waistband on surely I can get my '44 skirt waistband on too. I also finished the heel flap for my sock. I will hopefully post some pics later. This little apron just makes me want to go bake something and wear pearls while I'm doing so. Brings out the June Cleaver in me!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Working on the shed-wish I was knitting instead!

I helped my son work on putting tin on the front of our shed this afternoon. My daughter also helped me paint quite a bit of the tin "desert sand" today. Don't you love how names of colors make them sound so much more spectacular than they really are. This is tan in my book! I have made very little progress on my socks. I now have the 2 inch cuff and need to watch the heel flap tutorial. I hope she covers it all because it is not a free pattern to download. I like free! It is not that I won't pay for things, but there are so many free projects that are suitable to my skill level (beginner), that I haven't had to yet. I might have to buy this one or the sock may just become a leg warmer.
I do feel accomplished today because I mopped my floors by hand and I love it when they are so clean. Do you mop by hand or use a mop?

There's a hole in my ceiling, Dear Liza Dear Liza!

I love fires. The snapping, crackling and popping of wood burning is so cozy! Some dear friends gave us a really nice, really expensive Harman wood stove about 6 or 7 years ago when we lived in a church parsonage. We of course took it with us when we decided to build our new home on our farm. Due to the fact that we had little time and little money, we only built our basement. (We look forward to building the remaining 2 floors soon) We did leave a cove area where we would eventually put in the wood stove and this week my rather crafty hubby cut a hole in our roof and put in the piping for our stove. Wood heat is much cheaper for us and it is so much warmer. We look forward to nights spent reading and snuggling in front of the fire! Hopefully it will all be in place soon. Finding time to complete projects is definitely the hardest part for my hubby. He works full time and is a pastor too!

Stitching cards for Holidays

I get a really neat embroidery newsletter each month and the "Find of the Month" for November was a great pattern for stitching on a card.  This holly wreath pattern is all straight lines, so it appears pretty simple.  The instruction page looks a little confusing at first, but when you read through the details it helps simplify things. If you like embroidery and want to get a jump start on cards for different holidays, visit to see their downloadable pattern packages.  You can also go here to view and download some of their free patterns to try.  I can't wait to start this pretty holly wreath with some metallic threads! Happy stitching. (picture of the finished project is from their website-so pretty)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

2 New Blogs to visit

Are you artsy and creative? Maybe you just like watching someone else do lovely art projects.  If so you will want to keep up with  Michelle's new blog. She is fabulously talented and I look forward to seeing all her new projects.  I am so excited that my daughter gets to do the collage project for her next art class!
Not an artist? Maybe you like to read...and read alot! If you want to glean some info about some classic and not so classic literature selections, I suggest you look no further than Alexis' blog. She is currently reading and reviewing The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. She even takes suggestions for books to read. You can't beat that!
On another note, I found a great website yesterday. It is not a blog, but has much valuable info.  It is in my sidebar as well.  She has several video series on how to make garments. I watched the series on "How to make a Dress" yesterday. She is thorough and easy to understand.  She also has a free pattern available through Burdastyle right now for the jean dress she makes in the video series. It is a downloadable PDF, so you will have to put the puzzle together so to speak. They are quite easy to do and I used one for my coffeedate dress sew along project from Grosgrain. If you want to start sewing and aren't sure where or how to begin, I suggest stopping by her website.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Delightful Cookie

I made "kitchen sink" cookies last night. I used a basic cookie recipe that I know by heart and just threw in "good stuff." Cream 2 sticks of butter (room temp) with 1 cup brown sugar (packed) and 1 cup white sugar. Once fluffy, add in 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla and 2 large eggs (room temp). Mix until blended. Then add 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp salt and 2 cups flour (all purpose). (I have a KitchenAid stand mixer, so I add the salt and soda in and then begin to add the flour-if desired you can mix these ingredients in a small bowl before adding). Then add 1 cup oatmeal, 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans, 6 oz chocolate chips and 6 oz white choc chips. Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto tray and bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. These went like hotcakes last night. I have started baking only one tray at a time(about 9 large cookies) and refrigerating the rest of the dough. It keeps the boys from eating too many cookies in one sitting and allows me to make fresh "hot out of the oven" cookies everyday. The dough stays fresh in a storage container and will usually last for 4 days of cookie baking. You could also roll the dough into logs and wrap with wax paper and place in a freezer bag. Take it out of the freezer before you sit down to eat dinner and it will be thawed enough to slice and bake while you clean up the dinner dishes. They will obviously last longer in the freezer. Enjoy the sweet things in life!

Going round & round

Well I finally finished removing the crazy waistband from my skirt yesterday and plan to just cut a new one to replace it. In the meantime, I decided to do a couple of things. First, I cut out a retro apron pattern for myself. Still thinking about the fabric choice. Second, I watched several tutorials last night on knitting socks. I figured out how to do a long tail cast on. I didn't do very well trying to knit with 2 sets of circular needles, so I tried the 4 double pointed ones. I have a small amount of success, but it is still success. I have to knit a 2 inch cuff for these "top-down" socks. I can do a little at a time on this project and hopefully get my sewing done as well.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Crockpot Beef Tips & Rice

I am currently trying new recipes for the crock pot. I am hosting a crockpot class for moms at our local pregnancy center in December and I am looking for easy recipes that have 5 ingredients or less. I also want them to taste good! This recipe is just one I came up with today and the meat is so tender and yummy. Cut up 1- 1 1/2 pounds of sirloin ( I found top sirloin steaks on sale yesterday at Kroger). Place a tbsp or so of vegetable oil in bottom of crockpot to keep meat from sticking. Add in one half of a jar of Kikomann Stir Fry sauce. It is pretty inexpensive and you can get it almost anywhere in the foreign foods aisle. It has ginger,soy sauce, garlic, sugar, etc in it. I am also using my rice cooker to make sticky white rice. I will serve it over rice and we will have a mixed green salad to go with it. Probably some fresh pineapple too! Can't beat a 3 ingredient crockpot recipe. Cook on high for 4-6 hours or low for 8. I would suggest adding more sauce or some water if you need to cook it for longer than that.
The crockpot seems to do wonders on cheaper, tougher cuts of meat. The low, slow cooking tenderizes the meat and it just becomes fork tender. It is also nice to have dinner waiting on you when you're ready to eat!


HaHa! I really don't mind hemming, but preparing the garment to hem is not so fun (if you do it right).  I have had 2 pair of jeans and 2 pair of slacks waiting for me to "get busy" and hem them.  I love the jeans-got them for $5 a pair.  The slacks were clearance items under $10 as well.  That is why they are all too long.  Oh well, after using my little hem gauge and pins-I have 4 pairs of hemmed pants-GO me!  Now I can actually wear them and not just move or dust them(heehee). I also found this cute red and black plaid wool at Hancock yesterday and while I had enough to make a cute pencil skirt for one of my girls-neither one of them wanted one. My oldest said she would rather have a scarf.  I decided to go thin with it and add some cute sheer black ruffle (bought on clearance for less than a buck) at the bottom.  Turned out pretty cute. Probably spent about $1 to make this scarf.  The wool plaid was remnant, so the whole yard was $3. On another more depressing note, I am still working on tearing my waistband off my 1944 Vogue skirt (yuck!).

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Chicken Taco Soup

Here is a little soup recipe that I threw together and the result was quite good!
1-1 1/2 lbs boneless,skinless chicken
olive oil
Cut chicken into small bite-size pieces and cook in olive oil until done. Season the chicken. I use Mrs. Dash table blend, but you could just use salt and pepper if you like. Don't let these get browned. (You don't want that tough, crispy skin to form on the outside.)
In a 5 qt stock pot combine the following ingredients
4 cups chicken stock
1 large jar salsa with black beans and corn (I use the Sams brand from Walmart-it's great)
1 15 oz can of pinto beans,drained
1-15 oz can of light red kidney beans, drained
1-20-24 oz can of chili hot beans, do not drain(this adds the chili powder seasoning)
your cooked chicken
Let all of these ingredients simmer together for at least 30 minutes. I think it is better for 1 hour. Finally take half a block of cream cheese (approx. 4 oz) and use some of the hot liquid to melt it down in a seperate bowl. I had to microwave mine to get it to melt completely. Then add this mixture to the pot. Stir to incorporate the cream cheese and then serve with shredded cheese/green onion and sour cream if desired. We ate this with sourdough bread and it was so good. It would also be good with corn tortillas. This is an inexpensive, yet hearty meal. Beans are cheap and filling and full of protein, so you don't have to use a lot of meat in this dish. You don't have to chop tomatoes, peppers and onions either because there are plenty in the salsa. I think this meal only cost about $6-$7 to make and it makes enough for two meals in our house. That is dinner on the cheap for sure!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Carrot Cake recipe

Well I made the carrot cake and it is delectable. Hope my little church family enjoyed it as much as we did. She told me it happened to be her husband's favorite when I delivered the goods. So here is the recipe with a few changes that I make only to improve upon this delicious dessert.
3 cups shredded carrot
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
4 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup veg. oil
1/4 cup applesauce
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp buttermilk
1/2-3/4 cup coconut
1/3 cup finely chopped pecans
Grease (3)-9 inch cake pans. (Mine are pampered chef and are dark, so I preheat to 325 instead of 350) Preheat oven to 350. Combine first 8 ingredients plus coconut. Gently mix. Then add wet ingredients, stirring until blended. ( I have this awesome old Tupperware cascade blender that I put all the wet ingredients in and shake them to mix before adding all at once) Then stir in pecans. Pour an even amount into all three pans. Bake for 20-25 minutes. I start checking mine at about 18 minutes. I have a fast oven and hot pans I guess. (Don't overcook or they will become dry.) Let cool for 10 minutes and then remove from pans. I dust some wax paper with flour and place it on my cookie rack to let them cool completely. These are relatively thin layers, but once iced it is a nice size cake.
Cream Cheese Frosting
1 1/2 blocks of softened cream cheese
1 stick of butter (I don't use margarine)
16-20 ounces of powdered sugar
1-2 tsp buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
Cream butter and cream cheese together until fluffy. Mix in buttermilk and vanilla. Slowly mix in sugar a little at a time until all is incorporated. Should be a nice spreadable consistency. If too thick add a little milk, if too thin add a little more sugar( this isn't rocket science!)
Ice layers and top with crushed pecans. Enjoy every last bite-YUM!

Monday, November 1, 2010

It's a Carrot Cake Day

I am fixing dinner tonight for a sweet little family in our church who just had a new baby girl. I have a gift or two for her and big brother. I worked on a scrap/brag album for her this weekend. Very simple, but nice. I think I will make chicken and dumplings. It is so hearty and just seems to be a fall comfort food. She is nursing, so I thought I would stay away from anything spicy. For dessert though, I am going to make a carrot cake. Now obviously that means my family will get half of the cake and I will take the other half to them. Sounds fair-doesn't it? My favorite recipe is from Southern Living. It is 3 full layers of deliciousness! I just made one of these recently for a rehearsal dinner and it got rave reviews. I make them every year for Thanksgiving as well. (Mom and dad love this cake). Will post the recipe later today once I get my recipe out. Have a great Monday!