Friday, December 14, 2012

24 Books of Christmas

I have seen a few blog posts with this idea to do a 24 books of Christmas instead of an advent calendar. I fell in love with the idea because I've got a budding reader on my hands. My son Nathan is in first grade and has always loved to read. Now he can do a lot of the reading and practice makes perfect!

I knew I could not afford to buy 24 new books so when the Denver Porch sale event came up I knew I had a mission. Find used books!!! I had no problem finding early reader books as I went from house to house. And when the morning was complete, I had 21 books for $8!!! I was so pleased. I picked up a few new books to complete the pile.

Every night Nathan loves to pick out a new present. It took a few days until he figured out that they were all books :)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Crafty Plans for Christmas

I am so fortunate to have a son who shares in my crafty ways. With this comes the allowance to indulge in as many Christmas crafts we can squeeze in before this glorious holiday is upon us.

This week I was able to steal a precious day alone with my bestie who is expecting her third child. Our  aim was to fill our bags with as many Christmas crafty supplies to indulge ourselves and our children in one of the many things that are precious about this holiday.

Here is my plan...

Christmas craft.

Christmas village from All for the Boys

christmas trees

Pine cone Trees from Givers Log

Trunk of the first Christmas tree

Tree Stump ornaments from Pinterest (sorry, but I wish I knew who you were)

Seed bead glass ornaments, very cute and easy to do.

Glass Bead Ornaments from Kaboose

clear bulbs with drops of acrylic paint inside, then shake... we made these before!

Painted Ball Ornaments from A Yellow Bicycle

Popsicle Stick Snowflakes. Could do this in the classroom or even at the house! Cute idea :)

Giant Snow Flakes made from Popsicle sticks (I wish I knew where this was from but the link says it's not safe :(

Felt Christmas tree that your toddler can decorate over and over and leave the real one alone. Love!

Wall Felt Tree from Sol and Rachel

Salt Dough Family Fingerprint Ornament

Thumb Print Ornament from Fabuluster

Now here's hoping I can get some of these finished by Christmas!!!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Custom Pirate Brothers

Meet Joe and Sam.

Little brothers who's Mommy was thoughtful enough to have special little pirates made just for them for Christmas.

Thanks Katie for supporting my humble shop!

The dolls were made with specific hair and eye color and cost $40 each.

You can order custom made dolls from me at my Etsy shop

Monday, October 15, 2012

Pickled Hot Peppers

This weekend I just couldn't resist the lovely basket of peppers at the farmers stand. I wasn't quite sure what I was going to do but I new they were too nice and too cheap to pass up. Just one of the many benefits of country living, local seasonal produce from May to October.

I've been going to Evergreen Acres for many years. When we moved into our house this farmers stand was a little shed along the side of the road with two little tables and an always friendly Mennonite girl behind the register.

It has since grown into a large barn with a beautiful display of produce all season long. Often when I'm there I see the man of the house gathering produce from the garden beside the barn to bring inside for sale. I've seen the horse drawn wagon bring corn freshly picked from the field. It's a lovely place. Fall is no different at Evergreen Acres. But with fall comes the slight sadness that the season will soon come to an end.

 So back to the peppers. I saw this bucket and knew I could do something with them. They were going home with me!!!

So I pickled them. This was very easy and my only wish is that I could have found the lids for my medium sized canning jars but I made do with what I had.

What you will need:

3 c. white vinegar
2 c. water
3 cloves garlic
1 lb. hot peppers
Canning Jars and a big pot
*** I don't have the fancy canning equipment but it works just fine for this small amount of canning to use your stock pot.

Wash canning jars.
Bring water to a boil in large pot.
Add canning jars and lids all separate in the large pot to get nice and hot.
Bring water and vinegar to a boil. Add garlic (skins removed)
Slice peppers about 1/4" to 1/2" thick. You can keep the seeds or not, just watch out, they make your fingers hot for a long time. I hold the peppers by the stem and chop from the bottom up. This avoids touching the seeds. Or if you're more cautious you can use rubber gloves.
Remove your canning jars from the hot water (dump water out) and stuff full of peppers.
Pour the vinegar/garlic water into the jars to cover.
Add lids and screw tight.
Add jars back into large pot so that they are covered with water.
Boil for 10 minutes and then remove.
Set them onto a dish towel on the counter so they don't make a watery mess.
I use tongs to remove them from the pot.
Let sit until you hear the lids pop. This tells you they are sealed.
Let cool completely.
They are safe in the pantry for 1 year.

Some ideas to use your peppers...

Chili, Nachos, Quesadillias, really any recipe that calls for hot peppers

I have an awesome recipe for Jerk Pork Nachos and these work perfect.

Pulled Jerk Pork
Diced Pineapple
Diced Pickled Hot Peppers
Cheddar Cheese
Tortillia Chips

Put under the broiler for a few minutes to melt the cheese and serve with sour cream. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Freeze Cookie Dough

Who likes fresh baked cookies? I do, I do!!!

Who needs the four dozen cookies that a batch typically makes? I don't, I don't!!!

This weekend I made a super yummy cookie from Six Sisters Stuff,
Oatmeal Banana Chocolate Chip

But I decided to bake half the batch and freeze the rest. This is super easy and nice for the weekend when you want a little treat but don't have the time.

Scoop cookie dough onto a lined cookie sheet. This time I used wax paper but you can really use anything, saran wrap and parchment paper work fine too.

Put the cookie sheet into the freezer and let the balls freeze completely.
I typically let them in overnight.

Then dump into a freezer bag.

And write the cookie name and baking directions on the outside of the bag.

Done. Cookies anytime!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Crafty Gifts Ideas for the Kiddos

I hate to say it but Christmas is quickly approaching.

With this being the year of the Pinterest there are more ideas then there is time in the day.

Here are a few of my favorite ideas for the kiddos on my list.

tuto bavoir

elephant softy-pattern-gift-idea

I'm sure this will not be my last post of crafty ideas for Christmas!!!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

DYI Eye Makeup Remover

Ok ladies, if you love mascara like I do then you go through eye makeup remover in a hurry.

And it's not cheap!!! I was buying it for $5 a bottle and needing to buy again in 2 months or so.
When I found this idea on Pinterest I had to see for myself.

I changed it slightly and have been using my homemade version for a few months now.

If you have kids at home you are ready to go. And if you don't, you can get what you need for under $5.

You will need...

1 c. water
1 1/2 T. baby wash (I like J&J bedtime bath cause it smells so yummie!)
1/4 t. baby oil

That's it!!!!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Roasted Cauliflower Soup with Homemade Croutons

This weekend was a cooking marathon. It was wonderful spending so much time in the kitchen. I'm not sure why but this time of year I love to cook, and bake, and cook some more.

Yesterday I finally bought the Alabama Shakes album so this afternoons cooking marathon was even better while jamming out to some new tunes. You can check them out here.

One of the new recipes I tried was this delightful soup. It was a recipe from Closet Cooking.

I changed it slightly because I didn't have aged white cheddar but the result was delicious!!! I also made some croutons with the left over bread from my overnight french toast which was Sunday mornings breakfast.

Roasted Cauliflower Soup

1 head cauliflower
Wegman's basting oil (or olive oil, garlic salt, pepper)
1 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
fresh thyme, minced
3 c. chicken stock
1 c. cheddar cheese

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Toss cauliflower and oil on a baking sheet and spread to a single layer. Roast for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, sautee onion and olive oil on medium until soft.
Add garlic and thyme and stir for 1 minute or until fragrant.
Add roasted cauliflower and chicken stock to pot. Simmer for 20 minutes.
Puree. You can use a blender or a hand held blender. If you use the regular blender make sure you remove the center of the lid and place a towel on top. Hold the lit tightly or the lid will blow right off making a huge mess!!!
Pour back into your stock pot and add milk to the desired thickness.
Add cheese, and stir.

Homemade Croutons

Stale french bread, cut into 1" pieces
1/4 c. butter, melted
fresh herbs

Toss on a baking sheet.
Bake at 325 degrees for 20 - 30 minutes
Stir every 10 minutes for even browning.

And having a helper is always fun!!!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Homemade Chicken Stock

Oh the many uses of rotisserie chicken.

Today I made chicken wing dip for the Penn State game and the fastest and easiest way to do that is with a rotisserie chicken. Once I was finished I was left with a pile of skin and bones which is perfect for homemade chicken stock.

Making homemade stock is so tasty, easy, and thrifty. Not to mention the fact that you can control what goes in the stock.
When you make it at home you know it's natural and not filled with a bunch of preservatives and salt.

What you need...

Large stock pot
Chicken carcass
3 - 4 celery ribs, broken in half
3 - 4 carrots, broken in half
1 onion, cut into wedges
5 - 6 garlic cloves, pealed
handful of peppercorns
herbs (I used a handful of thyme)
salt (I sprinkle one full circle around the pot)

Dump all of your ingredients into the stock pot and fill pot 3/4 full of water.

Let simmer for 2 - 3 hours and it will turn into this...

Then remove all of the large pieces and pour through a fine strainer into a large bowl.

At this point you need to do something with this large bowl of liquid.
I like to freeze mine into small portions which makes it easy to use as needed.

I saw this great idea on Pinterest to freeze soup in a lined muffin tin so you can defrost exactly what you need. This works great for stock!!!

Just line a muffin tin with saran wrap (I like "Press n Seal") and then cover the muffin tin with another layer of saran wrap and freeze. Notice the lovely pile of leftovers in the background!

Once frozen I pop them into a ziplock freezer bag and pull out what I need when I need it!

Each muffin tin is a heavy 1/2 c. of liquid. I typically put them into a glass measuring cup and defrost them in the microwave.


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Spicy Sausage & Rice Soup

My very most favorite time of year is fall. There are so many wonderful things about fall in the North East... jeans & flip flops, pumpkin anything, humidity free days and chilly nights, and a rekindled love of my stove. It seems at the first sign of fall, without any planning, I find myself making soup. The other weekend I made three kinds of soup!!! I just couldn't stop myself.

One of the reasons I love making soup is the flexibility you have when making your brew. You can take a look at what you have on hand, gather complimenting indgrediants, and throw them in a pot. Viola, soup!

Of course there are some basics that I try to keep on hand through the fall - onion, celery, carrot, garlic and chicken stock - to name a few. With these basics you can develop just about any soup.

This weekend I had all of the above and some Hot Italian Sausage that I wanted to use up.
And just like that, Spicy Sausage & Rice Soup was born.

Spicy Sausage & Rice Soup

3 celery ribs
3 carrots
1 onion
3 T. basting oil from Wegman's ( grapeseed & canola oil, dried thyme, oarsley, garlic)
4 hot Italian sausage links
1 large can crushed tomato
1 1/2 c. chicken broth
1 c. rice

Dice extra small - celery, carrot, onion. Saute in stockpot with basting oil until soft.
In fry pan, cook sausage through breaking into small crumbles. Drain.
Cook 1 c. rice with 2 c. water for 20 minutes or until water is absorbed. Let cool.

Add cooked sausage, tomato, and chicken broth into veggie mixture. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Add cooked rice to soup when served.

** Do not add all of the rice to the pot if you are not going to serve the entire batch. The rice will continue to absorb the liquid when stored and become soggy.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Lil' Lovie Dolls

Just finished up a batch of Lil' Lovie dolls to take to Jennybean in Lancaster. Thought I would share since they looked so cute all lined up in a little row. You can also find these sweeties in my Etsy shop. They are perfect for little babies hands.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Grow your own Green Onions

Yet another great idea from Pinterest.

Given my floral background and knowledge of plants I'm ashamed I didn't think of this one on my own but thanks to Homemade Serenity I can share this idea with you.

When you buy green onions use what you need and then put the bulbs into water and watch them grow! I changed the water every few days to keep it fresh and left them in a sunny window.

I'm sure at some point the bulbs runs out of energy but in about 10 days I had enough to use. Genius!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

S'mores on a Stick

I have really developed a wonderful problem. Like so many, I am totally addicted to Pinterest! It is the greatest thing ever and I think nothing of spending an hour "pinning" while my hubby watches a crappy football game. And now that football season is over there will be even more opportunities for pinning during basketball, golf, PSU wrestling, oh my!

So I decided to try these cute little s'mores on a stick for Nathan's first sleepover. It really wasn't a sleepover but they pretended with jammies, movie, popcorn, video games, stay up late, and then parents came to take them home to their beds. It was genius really.

This idea was pinned from Pretty Foods & Pretty Drinks blog, check it out!

So gather some marshmallows, chocolate wafers, graham crackers, lolly pop sticks, and your favorite helper and have some fun!

Dip the lollipop stick into the melted chocolate and then press into a marshmallow. This will keep the marshmallow on the stick when you dip it into the chocolate to coat.

Use a piece of Styrofoam to hold your pops as you work.

Once you're finished with the first step let the chocolate harden. Waiting is tough! I popped them into the freezer to move things a long for a few minutes.

Then dip the marshmallows into the melted chocolate. We sort of rolled them against the edge of the bowl to get the excess chocolate off. Otherwise they dripped and made a tasty mess.

Immediately roll the chocolate covered marshmallow into the bowl of graham crackers. I kept the crumbs coarsely chopped for a more chunky look. It was also nice because you got more graham in your bite!

Enjoy!!! And watch out for the helpers, they're sneaky.