Sunday, December 26, 2010

Salt Dough Ornaments

Snowy day here - schools were actually closed yesterday and 223 more today!  Decided we needed to make a little Christmas.  Broke out a recipe for salt dough and went to town.

The kids found the dough quite hard to work with - it's a very stiff dough especially when cold.  Once we kneaded it well, it rolled well and was decently easy to work with.  I got out the 100 piece cookie cutter set and we made a nice big mess.  (I think we still have some dough to pick up off the floor.)

The one thing we had trouble with is the dough drying out enough.  The recipe we used said to bake for 20-25 mins at 300.  That was not nearly enough.  Even after 35 mins some of the ornaments were not yet "cooked".  So they're back in the oven for another 5-10 to continue the drying process.

Here's the salt dough recipe we used.  Found in several places on the internet...

4 cups AP flour
1 cup salt
1 1/2 cups water

Kneed until smooth and easy to work with (takes a while!!!!).

Roll out and cut into shapes, use cookie cutters, make hand prints, etc.

Bake 300 for 20+ minutes

Cool and paint with acrylic paints.  Spray with varnish to water protect and make them shiny.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Christmas!

Happy Christmas to everyone!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Dinner Tonight: Quick Stir Fry

I don't usually like stir fry, but I've finally happened upon a recipe that I enjoy making, and eating.  It's quick, it's easy and adaptable.


1-2 chicken breast sliced thin (or beef, or pork, or whatever protein you choose)
2-3 small zucchini sliced in moons
2-3 carrots sliced in circles/moons
2-3 ribs of celery
garlic powder
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2-3/4 cup water
1 Tbsp cornstarch

Optional ingredients:
chopped garlic
spinach, chard, collards or other greens

Slice and chop all ingredients so they're ready to go.  Brown chicken until nearly cooked through.  Add in chopped garlic, onions, (if using) and cook until soft.  Add in the rest of the chopped vegetables and the cornstarch, soy sauce and water (mixed into a slurry).  Cook until vegetables are soft, or leave them a bit crunchy.  Season with pepper and garlic powder to taste.

Serve over rice or rice noodles.  Or just eat alone - it's all good.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Bandana Pants Tutorial

My girls were in need of some new pants and shorts for summer - so I started in making Bandana Pants.  They're cool, they're comfortable and definitely fashionable!  My girls love them - and enjoy choosing their colors of bandana for their new duds.

Pants and shorts are both easy - I'll include a quick tutorial for each.

For Pants:
2 bandanas
sewing machine

Line the bandanas up so that they are square with each other.  My bandanas are 22 inches square - ish.  Sometimes they're not quite square, depending on what brand/how expensive, etc.  I tend toward the cheaper ones if possible.  But for bottoms you want thicker bandanas.

Fold the lined up bandanas in half lengthwise (hot dog style for you school teachers).  Measure 1 inch in from the side edge (NOT THE FOLD) and about 10-12 inches down depending on your child's crotch measurement.  For a 1-3 yo I'd use 10"-11", 11"-12" for 4 and up.  I make a small cut with my scissors at each spot then connect the two with a J shaped cut.

Unfold the pants and sew up both Js using your machine.  Zig zag or surge over the edge if desired to finish it off inside.

Fold the pants now so that the bottoms of each leg of the pants line up (each bandana is 1 leg).  Sew from the bottom of 1 leg to the bottom of the other all the way around the crotch of the pants.  Now they're starting to look like pants!

Roll down the top of the pants approximately 3/4 of an inch and stitch leaving a 1-2" space unstitched to tread in the elastic for the waistband.  Thread the 1/2 inch elastic through the casing and stitch ends together.  Stitch opening closed.

For Shorts:

1 Bandana needed
sewing machine

Start by cutting the bandana in half so that you have two identical rectangles, cut edges will form the waist band of the shorts.

Follow directions for pants above.  The crotch/inside leg seam will only be 1-2 inches long as to leave enough room for the bottom in the shorts.

No need to hem the bottom of the pants, they've already got that great rolled edge from the edge of the bandana.

Now go try these on your little one and let them get their groove on!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Idea of the Day: Design Notebook

I've started my own design notebook to keep my design ideas in one place.  I just grabbed a simple 50 cent notebook from the "back to school" sale and got to work.  Some of them are original ideas, several are ideas I've made or plan to make that are from others sites around the interwebs.

I've drawn little graphics of the finished object (trust me, these are very rough drawings!)  Also illustrations on how to draw the pattern pieces, and how to cut out the bits and assemble.  Scribbled some directions and tips and tricks on what to do once you get all the pieces cut out...

Might as well keep these ideas for later, and best I not forget what I did!

Happy designing!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Dinner Tonight

Ok, so it was dinner LAST night, but still... It was yummy - had to post!


3 strips bacon, chopped (already cooked is fine)
2 chicken breasts, sliced into chunks
1/2 onion, chopped (or dried minced works too)
1 good sized bunch rainbow chard, chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 can mushrooms
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk or cream
Salt & Pepper
1/2 cup or so of Parmesan cheese
8oz of spaghetti or linguine - hot/freshly cooked

Boil the water for the pasta - and plunk the pasta in!
In a large skillet - fry chopped bacon until crispy - add in the chicken bits and brown up until cooked through.  Add in the onions and garlic, sprinkle with S&P.

Once the chicken and bacon are cooked through, add in the chard, tomatoes and mushrooms.  Toss, mix, stir until chard is wilted and everything is hot - I had a hard time getting everything to stay in the pan - this makes a lot of food!

While the pasta is finishing cooking and the chard and chicken are getting all hot and happy, whisk together 2 eggs and the milk/cream with some S&P.  Drain the pasta and place back in the hot pot.  Toss quickly with the egg mixture until the noodles are well coated and the eggs have cooked on the hot pasta.  Add the pasta/egg mixture to the chicken and veggies, add in the Parmesan cheese and toss together well.

Fleece Pants - TUTORIAL!

My first tutorial on here - yay!!!

Broke out the Ikea fleece blankets that had been used for another project (fleece jackets for the family a few years ago) and decided to make some fleece pants for the kids.  I figured the ruffle/design on the bottom was great instead of a hem.  Cute, quick and easy.  3 pairs cut and 2 finished in the space of 45 minutes (wanted to get to the blog tutorial, so I didn't finish the 3rd pair).

1 fleece Ikea blanket - your choice of color!
3/4 inch elastic - approximately 22 inches per pair of pants depending on the waist size
scissors, thread, sewing machine, tape measure

Fold the blanket in half so that both "fancy" edges are lined up with one another and the side edge is straight.  Cut a large rectangle out of both thicknesses of fleece approximately 20-30 inches wide and 20-30 inches tall.  You should measure how long and wide you need the pants to be on the child that you are making these for.  If you are making them for a 18 month old to 3yo, 22-24 inches square should be more than enough.  I made mine 24 wide x 20 tall and they're a bit too big.

Once you have your square of fabric, fold the fabric in half lengthwise so that the "fancy" edge is on the bottom.  You will cut a J out of the side of the fabric approximately 10 inches long by 1 inch deep.

Once you've cut your "J", unfold the rectangle of fabric, keeping the "Js" lined up on each side.  Stitch the two "Js" but not the side seams.

Once the "Js" are stitched, reach in the top of the pants and align the two seams to one another.  Line up the bottom of each leg and stitch one long seam from the end of one leg, to the end of the other leg - this forms the pant legs.

Stitch the waist band casing approximately 1 inch in from the top leaving a space to thread elastic through the casing.
Thread elastic and stitch securely together.  Finish off and stitch closed the elastic casing.  Turn right side in and try 'em on!

They're a bit long, but she'll grow this winter, I'm sure.  Didn't want them to not fit in a month when it's just starting to get cold.  These will also be great when she's much bigger for some nice fleecy shorts :-/

As I mentioned, I got 3 pairs out of one fleece Ikea blanket - one very long pair, this pair and a wider pair.  Two have the fancy edge, the 3rd pair (long pair) is the "middle" of the blanket  folded width wise on top of itself and cut to make 2 rectangles before proceeding with cutting as above.

Tutorial needs some work, I think, but for now, I hope you get the gist of it.  Ask in comments if you have questions.  I'll be posting more soon, I hope!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

New Dresses

Made 3 dresses in the same style for the girls and I.  The patterns are all basically the same, just in different sizes.  I have yet to get pictures of mine and the 3yos dress, but here's the little one.  Looks good if I do say so myself.  Bonnets to go with them too... More on those later!

Finally another recipe! Yummy Chicken and Veggies

It's been waaaay too long since I've written any blog posts.  Life has been happening.   The cooking goes on.

Made a great recipe last week - had to share, especially after my MIL requested the recipe from me TWICE!

Chicken Pieces (enough to feed the fam)
1/2 large onion chopped
3-5 carrots, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 cups chicken stock (or 2 cups water and 1 bouillon cube)
Oil for the pan

Heat oil in a large dutch oven - brown chicken pieces until nicely browned.  Remove from pan.  Saute vegetables in a little more oil until onion is a bit browned and the other veggies are softened a bit.  Either remove the veggies or just continue on.  Add in ~3Tbsp flour and mix in well to the veggies until all the oil is soaked into the flour and the pot is rather dry.  Then add in the 2 cups of chicken stock (or bouillon and water) whisking as you go to break up lumps until it's a nice smooth sauce.  Add in salt & pepper and any other seasonings now and mix well.  Add the vegetables and chicken back in and simmer on the stove - or in a 350 degree oven - until the chicken is done.

Serve over rice or mashed potatoes would be tasty too.

Feeds 4-6 depending on how much chicken was cooked.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Bread Baking

I've been baking sourdough breads lately. Lots and lots of sourdough bread. I started my own starter by letting the starter develop it's own yeast and grab what it could out of the air. Neat process. Takes a bit of forethought in the baking as it has taken up to 17 hours for the dough to double in size. But I've found that now that the starter is older it doesn't take as long. This batch did what I wanted for doubling in about 4 hours! I think that's a record. The rolls I'm making currently are light and tasty - when I baked the first batch a 2nd batch was immediately requested because the first is awaiting a party... Lightly sweet with a soft texture.

I've also been experimenting with pasta. Made egg pasta spaghetti last night with an alfredo-style sauce with chicken and mushrooms. Quite tasty. The girls and I will be having it again for dinner tonight. Today I made ravioli style pasta for lunch. Stuffed with cottage cheese flavored with garlic, oregano and basil. It turned out too runny in the filling. I think it needs to be drier. But the pasta was lovely, light and tender. I'll toss some recipes up when I have a few more minutes. For now I'm getting ready for a b'day party this weekend. Little one is turning 1!!!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Bok Choy Stir Fry

2 Tbps vegetable oil
1 lb chicken or tofu
3-4 green onions (or 1 medium onion)
5 or more bunches of baby bok choy
2 Tbsp Terryakki sauce
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2-4 Tbsp Olive oil
1/4 cup peanuts (optional)

Dice chicken or tofu and white parts of the onion. Saute in hot oil until browned and mostly cooked through.

Slice baby bok choy into bite sized pieces (washed well) and add on top of chicken or tofu mixture. Add in sauces and olive oil and mix well. Cook until bok choy is slightly wilted and heated through.

Garnish with green parts of the onion and peanuts (if using)

Serve over rice or by itself.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Leek and Potato Soup

I got a big bunch of leeks from my food co-op yesterday and my DH grabbed me a bag of potatoes, so it's time to attempt my first leek and potato soup.


6-8 Potatoes, peeled & cut into pieces
1 large leek
2 ribs celery
2 carrots

I started with a pot of boiling salted water and put in some cubed peeled and cubed unpeeled potatoes. Should have cooked the unpeeled ones first so I could have pureed the soup easily before adding in the "chunky" veggies. Live and learn.

Anyway, cook the potatoes until they start to get soft, then add the washed and chopped leeks. Then puree after it's been cooking a while and the leeks are soft.

Toss in celery and carrots cut up small. Add S&P to taste. Since the water was already salted with a good tsp of salt, I didn't need any more.

That's it. Easy, simple, tasty, vegan even!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentines Day!

Just stopping by to wish you all a Happy Valentines Day!  Hope everyone has a wonderful love-filled day!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Granola with Steel Cut Oats

I got adventurous this last week and decided to attempt to make granola cereal with steel cut oats.  I did some online research into the idea to see if anyone else had done it, and someone said they had.  So on I went to attempt my steel cut oat granola.  Here's what I came up with:

6-8 cups steel cut oats
1/4 cup oil
1/2 - 3/4 cup honey
1/2 - 3/4 cup brown sugar
2 cups chopped mixed salted nuts
1 1/2 cups chopped dried apples
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
1/2 cup dried currents (or raisins, but I had currents)

Mix up the oats and the oil and spread them in a pan and toast in a 350 degree oven until lightly toasted, stirring every 10 minutes. 
Heat in a small sauce pan the honey and brown sugar until liquid and combined.
Once the oats come out of the oven, lower the oven to 250 degrees.
In a large bowl combine the oats, honey/sugar mixture, nuts, apples, flax, currents  - or any other dried fruit and nuts.  Stir until everything is completely coated.  Spread in a 9X13 pan or a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 45-60 minutes until very lightly browned.  Remove from oven and allow to cool to warm, then cut into pieces and allow to cool completely in the pan.

To use, either break into pieces and eat dry, or top with milk for a cold cereal.  My favorite is to put a chunk in a bowl, top with milk and zap it in the microwave for 3 minutes.  Stir and let sit for 5 minutes or so until it gets thick - eat!

Happy Eating!

Friday, January 15, 2010

New Version of Vegan Mac and "Cheese"

Upon my child asking for mac and cheese for the 3rd time in 2 days, I decided to try a vegan version of my own devising.  For the sauce I cooked up some red lentils and pureed them with some cashews, olive oil and some of the pasta cooking water until it was smooth.  Salt and peppered the sauce to taste (we like lots of pepper in our mac and cheese sauce).  Then I put it over the cooked noodles.  Looks just like home-made cheese sauce, has no dairy in it.

I think next time, though I'll either cook or at least soak the cashews to make them blend a bit smoother.  It was good for a quick lunch.

Happy Eating!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Awesome Tutorial on How to Make Home Made Stickers

Found this at SkipToMyLou and had to share it.  How to make your own lick and stick stickers from any paper.  Great idea for magazines, scrap book paper, wrapping paper, etc.

Home Made Stickers

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Holiday Crafting Success

The holidays are over.  Crafting for the holidays was a success.  Dishcloths for mom, market bag for dad, bears, dolls, shoe/slippers, blankets and a tent for the girls.  A hobby horse for a nephew, a couple of pin-less message boards for brother and SIL.  Still haven't finished that beautiful blue/green scarf - I'm in need of spinning up more wool.  :-/

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

What's for Dinner Tonight? 1/7/2010

So, while I'm posting I thought I'd just keep on keeping on... and post the recipe for dinner tonight.

When cold weather hits all I want to eat is soup.  Lots and lots of soup.  Unfortunately not every one in my house is amenable to eating soup every night (and sometimes not at all, kids, sheesh!) :-)  But it's soup night tonight and I had a hankering for Mushroom Beef Barley.

8 cups water
2 - 4 Tbsp beef boullion
1 lb cut of tender steak, cut into small spoon-sized cubes
2 cans of mushroom pieces
2 medium carrots, diced
1 medium diced onion or 1 Tbsp dried minced onion
1 cup barley
2 bay leaves
Salt and Pepper to taste

Put it all in a pot and let it cook at least 1 hour to get the barley tender.  This soup is even better the next day after the flavors have melded well and the barley has made the broth a nice "milky" consistency.

Bread Pudding

I was gifted (by my fantastic mom) a bread baker for Christmas, so here I am now baking bread - 4th loaf since Thursday (it's only Tuesday).  But I also had a mostly dud loaf and some that was in need of eating quickly, so I whipped up a batch of bread pudding.  Remember those eggs from the Co-op?  Yeah, I have a ton :-)  So here's the recipe I made up:

3/4 loaf of day-old hearty white bread (or wheat or whatever would work)
4-5 eggs, beaten
3 cups of milk
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 -1/2 cup sugar (I used a 1/4 cup)

Cut up the bread into cubes and spread evenly in a 8x8 pan (or the 6x9 works too).  In a separate bowl or large measuring cup (or your blender), mix together eggs, milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and sugar.  Pour egg and milk mixture over the bread to coat well.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 35-45 minutes until the custard is set and is no longer runny.  It could take up to an hour depending on how much liquid the bread soaks up.

Let cool briefly and serve in bowls with milk or cream poured over the top.  Yum!  For an extra treat, sprinkle the top with sugar before baking for a sweet brown crispy top.

Fantastic "New" Drink Mix

Ok, so I wanted tea - but I wanted decaffeinated and I was out.  Plus I wanted flavor... and not the berry tea bags that I had laying around.  So I invented a new tea... without tea leaves. :-)

Brew in hot water:
2 or more sticks of cinnamon
2-3 cardamom pods
2 bay leaves (yes they're an odd addition but taste lovely)
and a couple strips (2-3") of candied ginger cut in pieces

Put in pot and let steep in hot water for a half hour to over night (or longer).  Strain, heat up in the microwave for a hot drink, or poor over ice for a fantastic refreshing drink!

Ok, back to sipping...