It's time for my yearly ritual of making a huge list of gifts to make and waiting until the last minute to begin. I know it is so stressful to wait until the last minute but it always seems to work out that way. Even if I start making my gift list in March or June, I can't get myself to actually begin sewing until December! Oh well, here is my list for this year and links to the tutorials I am using to make them!
Checkerboards for the boys
Cloth Napkins and coasters for the grandparents
Felt Foods for the younger kids
Bookmarks for the tweens and a few friends
Shoe bags for my dad
Fabric Hopscotch mat for the girls
Apron and Chef hats for the godkids and a couple of aunts
Fancy rubber gloves for some friends
I can't list what I'm making for hubby and my mom because they occasionally read my blog!
Whatdya think? Will it all get done by December 24?
We just returned from long trip celebrating Thanksgiving with family. Spending time with family was lovely, traveling was not. We had difficulty getting a cab to bring all five of us to the airport and once there, realized that we left Lil' Miss' violin back at her grandparents' house! We had no time to go back to get it since we were already running late, thus we had to have grandma pay $111 to ship it overnight to our house so she could bring it to her lesson the next morning. No, it did not make it in time for her lesson. Yes, of course we are paying grandma back. After flying we had another two hours to drive before finally making it home. The kids were fussy most of the way and cried themselves to sleep about half an hour before we reached our house.
After all of the stress of traveling, I was grateful that we all made it home safely and found our home as we left it. And this morning, I was even more pleased to wake up and realize that today is GIVEAWAY DAY on Sew,Mama,Sew!'s blog. Sew,Mama,Sew! coordinates one day when everyone with a shop or blog can give something away, spreading the holiday spirit. They list all of the participants on the blog to create a master list, and leave the lists up for several days to give readers a more relaxed browsing experience. They also provide some structure with categories and international shipping info.
Last year I had a lot of fun browsing all of the wonderful blogs and even won a prize! This year I hoped to participate myself by giving away a small handmade item, but with our travel plans having us away for NINE days, there was not an opportunity for me to get anything together before the deadline. Oh well, there is always next year! For now, I'll just enjoy all of the fabulous blogs to check out and maybe win something!
The recipe also called for a packet of taco seasoning - another ingredient I did not have. Okay, so I should have gone shopping before deciding on dinner! Once again, I found a recipe for homemade taco seasoning. Very simple to make and tasted just like the premade seasoning packets I've bought in the past. I don't think I'll ever purchase taco sauce or taco seasoning again!
Okay, here is the best part of the story. After I prepared seasoned the cooked ground turkey and got ready to fill the casserole dish with the broken taco shells as directed, I noticed a funny smell. A smell coming from the just opened seal fresh taco pack. I thought I'd better taste a piece of taco shell and it was so NOT fresh! For a moment, I considered calling the poison hotline because I could not get the horrible taste out of my mouth! What's even worse, is that after searching and searching I finally found a production date of...
I threw the shells away, but then had to figure out what to do about dinner. I couldn't just serve a dish full of taco meat. I mixed up a cornbread batter and spread it over the taco seasoned ground turkey (to which I added corn kernels... just because I love corn). I baked everything at 400 for about 20 minutes, sprinkled cheddar cheese on top and had a tasty cornbread taco dinner!
Here are the recipes I used for the homemade sauce and seasoning mix.
Homemade Taco Sauce
1 can (8 ounces) unseasoned tomato sauce
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried minced onion
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
hot sauce to taste
Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl. Let set for at least 30 minutes to allow flavors to blend.
Homemade Taco Seasoning
1/2 tablespoon chili powder
3/4 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/8 teaspoon dried oregano
Mix all ingredients together and store in an airtight container.
Baby Teething Crackers
2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 egg, beaten
2/3 cup milk
Heat oven to 325 degrees F.
In food processor or in large bowl, stir together the flour, cornmeal, salt and sugar. Add the egg and mix well. Blend in enough of the milk to form a dough that will hold together in a cohesive ball.
On a floured surface or pastry cloth, roll into a rectangle about 3/8 inch thick. With a sharp knife, cut the dough into 1 1/2 x 3-inch rectangles. Place them on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Stick each cracker 2 or 3 times with the tines of a fork. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes, or until the crackers are thoroughly dry. Cool on a rack. These crackers should be hard. If necessary, put them back in the oven for a few minutes.
Yields 10 to 15 crackers.
Lil' Miss is in a Suzuki program. They use tiny instruments to teach tiny children how to make beautiful music. We had a rough first year - with Lil' Miss being disagreeable in her private lessons, uncooperative in her group lessons, and downright defiant in our practices at home. We did not want to throw in the towel, thus teaching her to quit, but by the end of the year we had definitely decided that we would NOT register for another year of torture.
Well.... over the summer, her private teacher assured us that Lil' Miss was on the brink of excellence. She apparently has a "natural talent" that is going to "take off at the speed of light" once she gets the attitude stuff under control. I certainly could not see this talent, but then again, I never played the violin. Clarinet from grade school through high school - but never touched a string instrument in my life.
We had a real heart to heart with Lil' Miss - as much as one can have with a five year old. She chose to continue and changed her behavior to show that she was serious. One of her little group classmates even said, "Last year she didn't do anything and now she's doing everything!" He received quite the formidable glare from Lil' Miss.
After half an hour of this, I gave up. Asked her to put everything away and I left the room to wash dishes. She happily skippped away, read through a bag of library books and then began playing with her baby sister. I wasn't really mad before, but now I am fuming. She thinks she can get away with not practicing and just go play? But what am I supposed to do? Trudge through the practice while she whines and draws it out for over an hour? Should I forget the whole thing and try tomorrow? Should I save my sanity and just quit altogether?
I finally calmed down, called her back in, and got her to finish the practice. It ended on a good note...but seriously, did it have to be so difficult? I pray daily for guidance with the kids, but maybe I need to begin praying before each practice. Maybe we should start each practice out by praying together! That would not only teach her a valuable lesson about prayer, but also hopefully put us in the right spirit to get through it successfully. Hmmm...it took me having to write this long post to figure that out!
At every opportunity, he escapes out the front, back or garage door. If the door is shut, he smashes his little face against it until the door pops open and quietly slips away. He leisurely sniffs around the porch, taking in the fresh air - until he realizes that he has been spotted. At that point he dashes off the porch into a bush, under the porch or some other place from where he cannot be retrieved. Once in a secure hiding spot, he will not respond to his name, toys, food, bribes or threats and only returns when he feels like it a few hours later.
I think this is all normal behavior for indoor cats, who are naturally outdoor animals. The only problem is that when we adopted him years ago, he was already declawed. This was one of the reasons we chose him, especially since my husband is very attached to his electronic toys and the wires they come with. This makes our cat's little jail break episodes life threatening. He could be attacked by another cat, dog or animal and would have a hard time defending himself.
In addition, I fear he may pick up outdoor "issues" and bring them into our home. Ticks hitching a ride, dirt tracked on the floor where the baby crawls, poison ivy oils on his fur, and who knows what else! Just yesterday he was seen fraternizing with some neighborhood cat. How dare he roll around with some strange cat and then saunter back into our home!
I am not sure how to deal with this problem aside from sending him to live with someone else. Any advice?
Mama Jenn: Kiddos Create Challenge: BUTTONS
I've decided to join in on Mama Jenn's Kiddos Create Weekly Challenge. The idea is to have your kids make something creative out of the theme item for the week. You can also make something with your kids or for your kids. The item this week is ... buttons! After much thought, we decided to make button bookmarks.
First, we cut out rectangles from a box made of thin cardboard. Cereal boxes are the perfect thickness.
The kids then cut tiny pieces of tissue paper of all colors. They used glue to cover the cardboard strips. They then chose several buttons to glue to the top of their strips. Let them dry and voila ... button bookmarks!
The kids had a blast making them and they encourage reading! Thanks for the inspiration Mama Jenn!
4 Tomatillos - quartered
1/2 yellow onion - chopped
3 cloves garlic - chopped
1 banana pepper - chopped
1 t fresh basil - chopped
1 t fresh scallion - chopped
1 10.75 oz can cream of mushroom soup
1 T olive oil
1/2 onion sliced
2 chicken breasts
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes with basil, garlic and oregano
cooked brown rice
1. Blend first six ingredients in food processor.
2. Put mixture in small saucepan and simmer 10 minutes.
3. Add can cream of mushroom soup. Simmer 5 minutes, stirring frequently
4. Cut bone from chicken breast, slice into thin fillets.
5. Brown chicken with onion slices in olive oil on both sides.
6. Add can diced tomatoes to chicken and onions. Simmer 3 minutes.
7. Pour chicken, onions and tomatoes into 9 X 13 casserole dish.
8. Pour tomatillo sauce on top.
9. Bake in oven for 45 minutes.
10. Serve over brown rice.
Totally Together Reviews: Samsung Stainless Steel French Door Refrigerator Review and $200 Best Buy Gift Card Give-Away
"In a global epidemic of this nature, it's almost impossible to avoid coming into contact with H1N1 in spite of all precautions. Contact with H1N1 is not so much of a problem as proliferation is. While you are still healthy and not showing any symptoms of H1N1 infection, in order to prevent proliferation, aggravation of symptoms and development of secondary infections, some very simple steps, not fully highlighted in most official communications, can be practiced:
1. Frequent hand-washing (well highlighted in all official communications).
2. "Hands-off-the-face" approach. Resist all temptations to touch any part of face unless you want to eat or bathe.
3. Gargle twice a day with warm salt water (use Listerine or Hydrogen Peroxide if you don't trust salt).
*H1N1 takes 2-3 days after initial infection in the throat/ nasal cavity to proliferate and show characteristic symptoms. Simple gargling prevents proliferation.
Don't underestimate this simple, inexpensive and powerful preventative method.
4. Similar to 3 above, *clean your nostrils at least once every day with warm salt water, or hydrogen peroxide.
*Not everybody may be comfortable using a Neti Pot to clean nasal cavities, but *blowing the nose softly once a day and swabbing both nostrils with cotton buds dipped in warm salt water is very effective in bringing down viral population.*
5. *Boost your natural immunity with foods rich in Vitamin C.:
: Red peppers, Papayas, Green peppers, Broccoli, Strawberries, Brussel Sprouts, Citrus fruits (oranges, grape fruit, etc.), Kiwi Fruit, Tomato Soup, Kellogg's Product 19 cereal, General Mill's Whole Grain Total cereal, Cantaloupe, Mangos, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Cranberries
(make up some homemade cranberry sauce with a bag of fresh cranberries, a little brown sugar, orange juice and grated orange rind yum!)
*If you have to supplement with Vitamin C tablets, make sure that it also has Zinc to boost absorption.
6. *Drink warm liquids (tea, coffee, etc). *Drinking warm liquids has the same effect as gargling, but in the reverse direction. Proliferating viruses are washed from the throat into the stomach where they cannot survive, proliferate or do any harm."
Focusing on trying to prevent the proliferation of the H1N1 virus makes sense because it is almost impossible to prevent germs from entering the mouth and nose. Those germs and viruses can either lay dormant for awhile or multiply and strengthen.
Since the mouth and nose are the main entrance into our body, it is important to practice daily steps of keeping these openings clean and strong. You can be healthy and feel fine without realizing that various germs/viruses, such as H1N1, can be present in the body via the nose and mouth without realizing. It is all about prevention rather than acting when you feel sick.
Pepper was dumped on a country road with her three litter mates even before their eyes were open. The four pups arrived at the rescue when they were five weeks old. They all were healthy and happy for a couple of weeks then two of the pups came down with a respiratory infection and passed away.
The two remaining pups thrived and one was adopted to our family! She came to us spayed and with her first set of shots. She was the happiest little dog I'd seen - though I bet any dog would be happy to finally be home after a three day road trip in a cage on an RV with 65 other dogs!
Pepper is great with the kids, albeit a little overly energetic. She is best friends with the cat. They play together every evening. She is housebroken and listens to most commands, at least for a few seconds. Sounds perfect right? Wrong!
I have never been a dog person. Hubby is the dog lover - I am the cat lover. How we ended up together is a good example of God's funny sense of humor! What I am is a puppy person. The thing with puppies is that they grow into dogs. This puppy happens to be growing into a very large dog! I seem to find her every move annoying. I think she senses this because she stares at me for disturbingly long periods of time, as if to say, "I'm going to MAKE you like me!"
Well, I hear her loud and clear. I found out we were pregnant just before she arrived and may have been a tad moody for nine months... and tired for the last two months! I do love her because she is a part of our family. I am hoping that with the spring weather, and a bit more sleep as the baby grows, I'll be able to take the kids and the dog out more. A little sunshine and fresh air might stir up some affection and be a good bonding experience for us!
I love organic food. Serving it to my family makes me feel like I am doing one of the healthiest things I can for them. Unfortunately it is becoming more and more difficult for me to make the choice between buying organic and saving money. I read an article today explaining that if you have to tighten the food budget, you can at least be a smart buyer and make choices about which organic selections are most important to buy. The article explained that some foods have higher concentrations of pesticides than others.
The following foods contain higher levels of pesticides:
The following "Clean 15" foods contain lower levels of pesticides:
This makes me feel better about not buying everything organic all the time. Another thing that I have done is to look for organic food in some of the discount grocery stores in our area. For example, we have a Price Rite in our town. They sell Stonyfield Organic Milk for more than a dollar less than the local Stop and Shop. The same exact brand and a whole dollar difference! Our kids are getting bigger and drinking more milk than they ever did, so this helps a lot.
I also can't wait for the local farmers markets to open. Apparently it is a 3 year process for produce to be "certified" organic, but at least I can ask the sellers exactly how their food is grown. And it's nice to meet the folks who actually grow the food we are eating!
Sounds like fun? Spring on over then!!!
This really threw a monkey wrench in my plans because I was all set to launch full force into our normal activities. We had plans to return to our homeschool co-op, church services, playgroups and our regular visit to the library. However, the doctor told us to hold off on these things for another month since we are still in the middle of cold and flu season. This is really hard to do because I have two other children who cannot stay in the house all day for four more weeks and also because I really dislike staying in the house myself!
Sooo... I went out anyway! This morning we went to our homeschool co-op. I figured, all of the kids would be busy with their activities, it is a large space and I'd be wearing the baby anyway. It worked out just fine. I wore her the entire time and the kids had fun catching up with their friends. While I was there talking to one of the parents about the shot situation, I found out that some of the children in the co-op have never been vaccinated at all. Now I have heard of this, but never met anyone who actually followed through with not vaccinating their children. I had so many questions, How did you find a doctor who agreed to this? Do you worry about the kids getting sick from others? When did you first take them out? What do you do to keep them healthy? I feel like the extra month I have before Lil' Cherub gets her shots gives us a chance to really research this whole vaccinate or don't vaccinate debate. What do you think? I'd love to hear your input on this topic!
When the time does come, I'll try to put up a quick post before leaving. Stay tuned!
By the way, I wanted to mention a couple of Blog Candy/Giveaways I won recently!
This is my gift from Trudy at Bits of Wool. The box was FULL of goodies, so much that I couldn't fit them all on the table for the photo. Not in the picture is a huge box of Hickory Farms tea - 96 packets! There is also a beautiful hand stiched embroidery piece and the cutest apron. She made most of the stuff herself.
From Terri at Purple and Paisley I won a wood sign that says YOU SEW GIRL, which goes perfect in my craft room. It came with a flannel pillowcase with the sweetest little elephants on it.
I'm so excited! Marie*Jolie from Permission to Unwind awarded me the Lemonade Award for having a blog with Attitude and/or Gratitude. This is my very first blog award! Thanks so much Marie! You really have to check out her blog to see all of the great ideas, tutorials, and tips she has. Plus she's funny as all get out!
Here are the rules for receiving the Lemonade Award:
1. Put the logo on your blog or post.
2. Nominate at least 10 blogs which show great Attitude and/or Gratitude!
3. Link to your nominees within your post.
4. Let them know that they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
5. Share the love and link to this post and to the person from whom you received your award.
Now I get to choose 10 blogs to award! I hope they like lemonade as much as I do! I am nominating the following 10 blogs:
Jenn at Mama Jenn
Tony at Well Watered Woman
Bethany at Happy to be Called Mommy
The busy mom at Green Jello
Jennifer at Life in a Small House
Kelsey at Vanilla Joy
Nanette at Freda's Hive
Terri at Purple and Paisley
Trudy at Bits of Wool
The crafty mom at Bella Dia
Please stop by to check these blogs out - I think they're great!
Thanks again Marie!
I suppose if they haven't been touched by the end of this weekend, we'll move them to another location. The woman leading the activity did say that she noticed the squirrels were the fattest she'd ever seen them at winter time which could mean that we are going to get a lot of snow. Maybe they have already stuffed themselves and are too full to eat our creations!!!
The Little Guy, on the other hand, was happy to just glue and cut. So he'd cut out a big image, and I'd cut it down to the size of his cards and then let him glue them on. The activity as a whole was great though because it reinforced the idea of recycling (which we discuss a lot in our schooling) and the Little Guy got a chance to practice his cutting and gluing skills.
These are tutus I made from this no sew tutu tutorial. You do have to sew just a bit, for the waist, but the rest was easy. I made one for each of my goddaughters and one for Lil' Miss. It's hard to see how cute, colorful and poofy they are from these photos.
I made a little "scrap pocket" for my mother. I saw a woman at a scrapbooking retreat using one and just fell in love with it. It was so cute and adorned with little buttons. It was also bigger than the one I made for my mother.
The top is filled with fish tank gravel encased in a ziplock bag, surrounded by batting for softness. The gravel keeps the top on the table while the pocket part hangs down off the side of the table and mom can just throw paper scraps in it while she's making cards.
I made a "cobbler cozy" for my father. He loves making peach cobblers and will often make them as gifts for people or bring them to events and gatherings. I thought it would be nice to have something to keep it warm and easy to carry. The outside is a black denim material with black and white gingham lining. You place the casserole dish in the center, the sides come up and snap shut, then you pull the other sides up and hold them together by the handles (made out of pvc pipes - didn't have wood dowels on hand).
Now that all the sewing is done, sort of (I still have a couple of little boys I'd like to make something for), I can get down to the business of nesting! We spent a lot of the holiday break working on the nursery - putting the crib together, sorting through old baby clothes, etc. I have quite a bit of washing to do, especially getting all of the cloth diapers in order. I would REALLY like to try my hand at making some cloth diaper covers with my serger, but I haven't figured out how to use it properly yet. I tried it on one of my Christmas gifts and just made a big mess. If anyone has any tips, I'd really appreciate them!