Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Leaf Fondue

I thought I'd share a fun autumn craft today (even though there is currently SNOW on the ground!!!).  A few weeks ago, Addie and I decided to give Wax-Dipped Leaves a try!  I found the project here and thought it looked like fun.  It was also a great way to use up some of the beeswax I bought last year  when I was on our homemade herbals kick.

First, we collected a bunch of pretty-colored autumn leaves.  It was a rainy day so we spread them out to dry well before we started dipping.

Next, we melted beeswax pastilles that I purchased last year from Mountain Rose Herbs.  They melt really quickly and smell great.  I used my small crockpot that I never really use for much of anything else.  It is now a beeswax only crockpot though; so, if you don't want to commit to that much beeswax crafting, you can melt it over boiling water in a glass jar or bowl.

When the wax was fully melted, we just started dipping our leaves.  You'll need to make sure that you collect leaves with the stems attached so that you have a handle for dipping.  The wax dried really quickly, so we only needed to hold the leaf over the pot for a few seconds.  We laid them on wax paper to finish hardening.

I wasn't quite sure what to do with them next.  Addie wanted to make necklaces; but, I thought those might be a bit scratchy and potentially sticky if you were feeling warm that day.  We decided to string them with a needle and thread and hang them up as an autumn decoration.  I checked them for a few days to make sure they wouldn't get too warm in the window and start to melt; but, they seem to be holding up just fine!

I saved a few extra and scattered them around the house.  I'm planning to use them for our Thanksgiving place cards by writing or painting our names on them with some metallic paint.  I'll let you know how those turn out!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Initiating Quilt Mode

A few years ago, I found this fun patchwork robot fabric on clearance for a ridiculously cheap price. I think I paid about five bucks for the entire remnant.  I had originally planned to make Aidan a little bath robe with it; but, I never really could find a pattern I liked that would be lined and also, not a giant pain.  So,  it has been in my stash for quite a while.

On Sunday, I decided it would be a super great idea to make a blanket for Aidan's upcoming birthday.  He'll be seven on Saturday.  Monday, I headed to Joann's just before closing (along with five-hundred other shoppers) to take advantage of their Columbus day sale.  I found this super soft turquoise blue fabric that reminded me of the old vellux blankets.  I knew my snuggly Buddy would LOVE it.  I, of course, also purchased several other fabrics to fill the soon-to-be-developing hole in my stash.

I had intended to make this a really quick project.  I wasn't planning to make a quilt.  I was thinking I would just make a small, quick blanket, wrong-sides-together, turn it, stitch is closed and be done. BUT, I just couldn't resist giving the quilt a go.  I did still have four sewing days until the party.  I didn't really have any sort of a plan, the right materials, know-how or a clue.  But... I had a dream and that's really all a girl and her Bernina needs, right?

The project actually went surprisingly well.  After I cut my fabric, I was worried that I wouldn't be able to fit it all through my machine.  So, I only stitched the vertical stripes in the quilt.  I'm not sure I  could have actually fit enough of the quilt under my machine to manage all of the horizontal stripes AND I forgot to buy thread so I was trying to conserve my two tiny spools.

I cheated on the binding and just did some folding and tucking in the corners.  I'm not sure if that was wise.  If anyone can identify an improperly-mitered corner, I'm sure Aidan can... and will. All of that puffy, fluffy backing was a bit of a headache to stuff through my machine. (Thank goodness for my Jeans Foot impulse buy a few years ago when I thought I would hem jeans because you know how often I need to shorten my pants.) The fluffy backing was wonderful for hiding mistakes and crooked lines and all sorts of other mishaps, though.

I'm really happy with the results and I think Aidan will love it.  Matt said Aidan's going to still have it on his couch when he's in his thirties.  I said I'm sure his wife will be ecstatic.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Monday Meal Plan (A Day Late)

This weekend, my mom and I went away for a girl's shopping trip.  I spent yesterday getting the house together and catching up on laundry... so, I'm just getting around to our meal plans today.  I've actually got a pretty easy week in the kitchen.

Tonight, I'm making Beef & Mushrooms over Brown Rice to use up some leftovers.  We'll have Steamed Broccoli, Biscuits and a Pumpkin Roll for dessert.

Wednesday, we're having Chicken Noodle Soup, Grilled Cheese and Fresh Fruit.

Thursday, we're headed to a cookout and bonfire so I'm off the clock.

On Friday, I'm making Fried "Uncle Bill" Fish, Carrots and a Tomato Basil Salad.

Saturday,  we're making DIY Homemade Pizzas, a Salad, and maybe some Cupcakes if I've got it in me.

Sunday, for "Fancy Dinner", we're having Lobsters,  Brussels Sprouts and some sort of Butternut Squash and Quinoa Gratin (recipe TBD???) and Apple Dumplings for dessert.

I don't have much of anything exciting planned for breakfasts and lunches this week, just the usual, I guess!  Saturday, there is lots happening all day at the farm market so we might just get breakfast and lunch while we're there!

What are you cooking this week???  Let me know in the comments below! I'm always looking for inspiration!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Monday Meal Plans...

I'm trying to get back into meal planning around here now that all the summer fun has passed.  We're busy with school, church, cub scouts and music lessons and dinner seems to creep up quickly without a plan.  I started up our Door to Door subscription again for the fall; and, I want to make sure that I take advantage of all the goodies in our boxes... it definitely takes some planning to use all that kale!

So... here's my plan for the week:

Monday:  Pulled Pork Tacos with Corn Salsa (I just put a dry-rubbed pork shoulder in the Crock Pot and made some salsa with all our leftover odds and ends from the weekend:  corn, tomatoes, red onions, cilantro and lime.  I've got corn tortillas, cheese and plain yogurt to go with.  Matt's in charge of dinner on Monday nights while I take Aidan to CCD.  I try to at least have a plan for him and a few things started.  For dessert, I made a yummy Chocolate Ganache Raspberry Tart.  We had tons of raspberries left from our picking this weekend and I already had the tart dough in the freezer so it seemed like just the right choice!

Tuesday:  Dinner Out

Wednesday:  Spaghetti and Meatballs, Steamed Broccoli, Garlic Bread and a Salad.  We have four different activities Wednesday evening; so, I wanted something quick and easy.

Thursday:  Beef Brisket Sandwiches with Homemade Rolls and Green Beans... I may make some French Fries for Ads so she won't suffer too greatly.

Friday:  Baked Chicken, Buttered Noodles and Broccoli and Carrots (I'm headed out of town for the weekend so I'm planning to make big batches of everything all week so that Matt and the kids will have plenty to eat!  Little Caesar's is pretty close though, so I think they'll be just fine!)

For lunches this week, I'm planning to make Stir Fried Veggies and Rice, Turkey Noodle Soup (with leftovers from last night's "Fancy Dinner") and some Kale Chips.  The other days we'll fill in with leftovers.  Nothing super exciting on the breakfast front; but, I do want to make biscuits one morning to have with the Crock Pot Apple Butter I made last night.  It is delicious!  I was a little worried that it made such a huge batch; but, now that I've tasted it, I think we will have no problems polishing it off!

If you are looking for recipes, I pin most of my weekly recipes and inspirations here.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Pickin' and a Grinnin'

This weekend we made our annual family apple picking pilgrimage.  Eight years ago, Matt asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday and I chose apple picking.  It's now become our yearly birthday tradition and I really look forward to it.  We've picked in all sorts of weather over the last eight years; but, this year, we really lucked out and had awesome weather and an awesome day.  As usual, we picked WAY TOO MANY APPLES!  I think we ended up with two bushels plus eight quarts of raspberries.  There was still a little room under our feet on the way home so we stopped and bought 10 pumpkins and a giant bag of corn... what more could a girl want for her birthday?!?

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

I have ALWAYS got the notion!

This week's Iron Craft Challenge (#9) was "I've Got A Notion".  We were supposed to use materials from the notions aisle and highlight them in our project.  I had some fun cowboy buttons that I'd been saving up for a project as well as some cool new burlap ribbon that I wanted to try.

I decided to make these fun Cowboy Hair Clips for the girls.  I used leftover fabric from a dress that I made for Addie over the weekend.  Annalise has a little shirt in the same fabric; but, I'm not quite finished with it yet.  I crafted some fabric flowers and then attached a cowboy themed button to the center of each.  I wrapped some giant snap clips in wide burlap ribbon and attached my homemade flowers.  

Addie had hers on at the crack of dawn this morning so I guess it's a crafty win!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Monday's Sunday Supper Plans

I'm a day late on my menu planning for the week.  I was forced to spend all weekend locked away in a river front house crafting with friends AND then we had dinner out last night.  I know what you're thinking, and, yes, it was all just as terrible as it sounds.

The pics are from last week's "Mexican Night"; or, if you prefer the unabridged format: "AGHGHGGHH, There Is Shredded Cheese Everywhere,  I Swear This Is THE LAST TIME I Am Making Mexican Night".

This Week I'm planning...

Monday:  Roast Chicken with Carrots, Macaroni and Cheese and Zucchini Cake for dessert.

Tuesday:  Lentil Rogan Josh, Curried Rice and Naan.  (We're studying India this week so I thought the kids could help with this dinner prep -not certain how much help they'll be with the actual eating; but, sometimes they surprise me!).

Wednesday:  T-Ball Night, so it's the ever popular "Bowl of Noodles" at 4:30 dinner.

Thursday:  Black Bean and Spinach Enchiladas with DIY Tostadas (Shredded cheese is on the list, I am clearly unable to heed my own warning.)

Friday:  Berbere Chicken and Rice (Berbere seasoning was the freebie at Penzey's this month so I'm trying a recipe I found in their catalog.  I'm thinking it is probably pretty hot, so I'll make plain chicken for my lovelies.

For lunches, I'm planning to make Chicken Coconut Curry Soup, Homemade Pretzels and the Quinoa Salad with Sugar Snap Peas that was on last week's menu.  We didn't get around to it last week; but, not to worry, it was substituted for an equally healthy lunch of Hot and Ready's, Crazy Bread and Dilly Bars.  We did have strawberries to balance things out!

No menu plans for the weekend.  We're headed to Ohio to celebrate Annalise's birthday!  She turns the big 0-2 on Friday!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Sunday Supper Plans...

Last week, I posted my meal plan for the week and it really helped to keep me on track.  My favorite recipe from last week was the Blackened Chicken with Quinoa.  It was heavenly!! I thought I'd go for it again this week!

Monday:  Tostadas, Spanish Rice and Chips and Salsa

Tuesday:  Chicken Shawarma, Middle Eastern Zucchini Cakes and Fattoush Salad

Wednesday:  Pasta and Meatballs and Salad
I'm also planning to make this yummy looking Quinoa and Sugar Snap Pea Salad for lunch!

Thursday:  Tuna Melts (Grandma Bell's Recipe!) Mac N Cheese (I'm actually going to make the same recipe I did last week; but, I'll substitute a different kind of pasta.  It was really good and I have plenty of leftovers cheeses that I hate to waste) and steamed broccoli.

Friday, Saturday, Sunday:  I'm headed out of town for a crafty girls weekend!  I've got burgers, chicken and shrimp for Matt and the kids so they can decide what they feel like each night.

You can check out my Weekly Menu board here.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A Fast Read and a Slow Knit

I checked out Gone Girl from the library after noticing that just about everyone had read it except me.  I wouldn't say I'm on the edge of my seat; but, it's pretty good so far.  I'm still working on the lace shawl pattern that I started a few weeks ago.  I'm meeting up with my knitting girls this week so I'm hoping to get a little further along!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Shiny Red Wagon

This week's Iron Craft theme was "Playtime".  I decided to make Annalise a little "Shiny Red Wagon" hair clip for summer.  I suppose my inspiration was the 400 ride-on toys I moved today so I could sweep out the garage! :)  

What's one more!?!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Earth Muffins in the House!

Happy Earth Day All!

I know you're all busy recycling and composting away out there today, so I'll be brief!  Just wanted to share these fun Earth Muffins we had for breakfast this morning.  They were inspired by these cupcakes I saw last week.  I thought muffins would be a teensy bit healthier for us.

Annalise was a big fan of Earth Day breakfast.  "Mmmm, happy cake!", she declared and then ate two- and-a-half muffins.  Aidan decided we should invite the guest of honor to join us for breakfast.  Adelaide pointed out that her muffin wasn't as tender as usual; but, she'd go ahead and eat it.


In other Earthy news, we made these fun "Oceans in a Bottle".  They were easy to make and the kids really liked them.  Even Annalise, had a teeny tiny one. (I eventually got rid of hers when she wasn't looking.  Any story involving a two-year-old with a bottle of oil and food coloring is bound to end badly.)  I also checked  out some of the books listed in the instructions for the kids to enjoy this week.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sunday Supper and a Plan

Lately, I've gotten pretty lazy about meal planning. We still manage to eat something every night; but, I feel a bit disorganized going into dinnertime. I've also found that without a good plan, I end up wasting  oddball veggies that end up shoved to the back of the fridge and forgotten .

In order to get a little more organized, I decided to start a weekly board with recipes I find online that I'd like to make in the upcoming week that will utilize the veggies and meat I have on hand.  Everything else I find, I just pin to my regular recipe board to sort through later.  I still flip through my stacks of cookbooks when I have spare time or am looking for a particular recipe; but, I find that just about every recipe is online now anyway and it gives me a simpler way to organize.

Next, I put together some meal ideas using the recipes I'd like to try, the ingredients and easy sides I have on hand or in the freezer. I make my shopping list for the weekend and hit the farmer's market and grocery store to pick up my missing ingredients plus staples for the week.

Finally, I put a dry erase board on the fridge and sort out which meals would fit best into which slots in our weekly schedule.  Some days I have more time to prep and cook than others so I plan my more complicated meals for those days.  Nights that we have events or activities, I keep it simple with a meal from my freezer that just needs a quick warm up.  

I thought I'd start sharing my weekly plans here to encourage me to keep it up... and to keep me honest!  Having a plan has helped me insure that I'm not missing little odds and ends that keep me from making a recipe.  It also reminds me to pull things out of the freezer in time to thaw for the next day.  Feel free to share your plans for the week or any great recipes you've found in the comments below.

The Plan

Sunday:  Tonight for dinner, we grilled steaks (I've decided to embrace Spring, even if it is still snowing.)  I also baked the braided country bread above from my favorite bread book, Beard on Bread.  I had some chioggia beets in the fridge that I wasn't quite sure what to do with so I found this recipe for a Badass Beet Salad and gave it a go.  It was pretty interesting:  raw beets, endamame, oranges and goat cheese in a citrus vinaigrette.  I'm getting over a cold so I couldn't taste much; but Matt assured me everything was yummy. (Well, except the goat cheese.  He's not a lover of the goat cheese.)

Monday:  We've got LOTS going on Monday so I am keeping it super simple with a giant lasagna from GFS. Those lasagnas are REALLY BIG.  All of you are welcome to join us!  I might go all out and make a salad... time will tell.

Tuesday:  Chicken with Fennel, Mashed Potatoes and these yummy looking Zucchini Fritters.

Wednesday:  Another busy night, so we're having Chicken Stir Fry (from the freezer... thanks, Mom!) and Fried Rice.

Thursday:  I'm trying this recipe for Blackened Chicken with Quinoa (I've had a few run-ins with quinoa in the past that didn't go well; but, I have a few friends who assure me I will like it if it's cooked just right.  Hope I cook it just right!)  I'm also making these yummy snap peas.

Friday:  PW's Beef with Snow Peas.  I've made this before and it's yummy!  I figured we could have our leftover rice from Wednesday.

Saturday:  Fried Fish (caught by my awesome Uncle Bill), Swiss Chard and this heart-attack inducing Gnocchi Mac and Cheese.  

So... that's my plan.  We'll see how it goes.  You know the old saying, "The best laid plans of mice and men often go to Buddy's Pizza..."

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Chicken That Never Dies

In my opinion, EVERY SINGLE BUSINESS on the face of the earth, should offer drive-thru service.   It's not that I'm lazy.  It's that I have children... and car seats.  I don't mind putting them in their ONCE; but, that's all the fight I have in me on any given day.  However, try as I might, sometimes I have to run an errand and sometimes that errand requires us to actually get out of the car.  

Today, we had to go to the bank.  Now, they actually have a drive-thru (this branch was obviously started by another tired mother); but, I could not take advantage of it this time.  We had to go inside.  We were actually the only ones in the bank when we arrived so the kids felt it was their duty to really fill the lobby with some hustle and bustle.  They messed with the Keurig machine, kicked at one another, screamed, shoved and at some point, Annalise removed her shoes.  Ordinarily, I would have been doing my very best to keep them calm, quiet and under control.  However, this was my third trip to the bank (with kids in tow) for the very same issue so I had already decided that I really didn't care in the least what we broke or who we disturbed along the way.  That may not have been the best attitude; but, it was MY attitude.  

While I was discussing my "issue" with one of the tellers, the very nice bank manager came out to see just what was going on in the lobby.  She decided to engage the kids in a friendly light-hearted chit chat which very quickly progressed to Aidan and Adelaide enumerating the many ways in which our chickens have met their Maker.  They told her each grisly detail:  raccoon, coyote, fox, and what we can only assume to have been natural causes.  She smiled, nodded and slightly paled. 

Over the past few years, we've purchased several beautiful chickens.  There was Blanche, Shirley, Helen, Lucky, Sara, several other old lady names I can't remember and of course, good old Maude.  She's the only original chicken still with us and everyone's favorite.  "They're all dead except Maude," Aidan told her, with the air of a nostalgic World War II pilot that's seen it all and lived to tell about it. (Not true, by the way, we have managed to still keep three of them alive.)   Addie added, "She's a special kind of chicken....that NEVER dies!"  And with that, the world's greatest farmers promptly headed back to their car.

Death-Defying Maude

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Takeout Ponies!

This week's Iron Craft theme was Ethnic Crafting.  We were supposed to make something inspired by a country other than our own.  I tossed around several different ideas.  I thought some teeny tiny French berets for my chickens would be cute.  BUT, since I'm already the "crazy chicken lady" in the neighborhood,  I didn't know if I should add berets into the equation.

We also had a super busy week working around the house.  We've been moving in some new furniture and bedding, reorganizing and doing some overdue patching and painting.  I found myself a bit short on time so I decided to go with a quick project.  I found this super easy tutorial over at Sew Can Do (one of my favorite craft blogs).  I knew I had some fun ethnic food buttons that I'd been saving for just the right project.  So, I made Chinese Takeout Ponies and Taco Ponies for the the girls!  

These came together really quickly.  I'm planning to sort through my buttons to make a few more sets for the girls for the summer.