Pull up a chair, get a cup of tea, and enjoy reading the recipes and tidbits of my journey through Life.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Quick & Easy Holly Ornament

I am cannot even begin to say how sick and tired I am of, well, being sick and tired.  The whole house has been sick since the last time I posted...almost two freakin' months!!!!  Hopefully we will be better before Christmas morning.

Speaking on Christmas (or Yule, or Mother's Night, or whatever you call it), last night my daughter and I made a really quick and easy ornament for our tree.  Many of you already know, but for those that do not, I am obessed with holiday ornaments and Yule trees!  We buy our daughter at least one ornament a year, usually with a special meaning.  For instance, this year's ornament is a picture frame ornament shaped like a bus that commemorates her first day of Kindergarten and has her school picture in it.  It has the year, the school name, and her grade on it.  I even have an heirloom diary that has a picture of each ornament, when she received it, who gave it to her (her Granny gifts them to her as well), and if there is a story behind it that is included as well.

I also buy ornament kits after the holidays on clearance and then have the kids (our daughter and cousins) make an ornament on Thanksgiving each year.  This year was a snowman's top hat.  That is when I learned that off-brand school glue sucks majorly, especially when gluing felt together!  I will use Aleene's Tacky Glue from now on, screw the cost.  The headache is not worth the money saved.

Anyway, now that I have rambled on, if you have gotten this far, here is the instructions for last night's ornament"

Holly Ornament

1 sheet green felt
1 bag red vase filler gem balls
Thin red ribbon
Holly leaf cookie cutter or template
Aleene's Tacky Glue

Using the cookie cutter and Sharpie, trace two holly leaves that overlap slightly at their tips, so you have one piece.  Cut it out.  Turn it over so that any lingering Sharpie marks are on the back and glue three of the red gem balls in an inverted triangle to form the holly berries.  Allow to dry completely (we let it dry overnight).  When dry, turn over and glue a loop of ribbon to back of the ornament for a hanger.  Again, allow to dry.  Hang on the tree when finished!

I plan to make a few more ornaments this week, hopefully, health willing.  I will post directions for them when I finish them.

Monday, November 5, 2012

I Am Gobsmacked!

Well, as the title of this post says, I am gobsmacked.  I have been making crafts and handmade items so I can have my own Etsy shop.  I honestly have almost no confidence in my work and am my own worst critic.  That said, I think my confidence is picking up after Saturday night. 

I had bought some pieces to try making a pair of earrings to see how difficult it would be.  I thought they turned out well so I posted a picture of them on Facebook for my friends to see.  Well, evidently they did turn out well cause within fifteen minutes of posting them one of my friends had bought them!!!  My first sale!!!  WOOHOO!!!! 

So the last few days has been a whirlwind of activity.  I have bought packaging materials and still have more to buy.  Tonight I bought craft punches to make earring cards and decorative tags with my logo on it.  This is the logo:

After trying out the punches this is what the earring cards look like with the earrings I sold look like:

And I spent $20.19 on two craft punches and 21 sheets of cardstock at Michaels...saving $20.18 thanks to sales and coupons! Love me some 50% coupons!  Now I just have to buy the black kraft paper for wrapping and the black/white baker's twine to finish the packaging.

This has set a light under my considerably large ass to get busy on shop stock.  Today alone I have finished two tea trays and half finished a crocheted shawl.  I hope to have the items photographed and uploaded to my Etsy shop in the next day or so.  I will post a follow-up when they are up along with the web addy. 

So excited!!!  *does a happy dance*

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Samhain Traditions

So much has happened in the last week I honestly have trouble knowing where to start.  First off, we survived Sandy without losing power or any damage (extended Fam as well), but that cannot be said for everyone.  A candle will be burning for those that are displaced form their homes, or are suffering without power; as well as prayers being said for their well-being.  All we got, luckily, was a lot of rain and some moderately strong wind.  For a while we thought She was coming straight for us, but changed at the last minute and headed farther North.  Once again, those affected by Sandy are in my thoughts.

Happily, the weather was back to normal, though cold, for Samhain (a.k.a Halloween).  Since our daughter's school has decided not to allow any Halloween activities in the school I decided to keep her out of school for the day.  To me it is a huge holiday and not just for the dressing up and trick-or-treating, but because it is when the Veil thins and our Ancestors are able to return to us.  It is a time to honor Those Who Came Before. 

So, we started the day with donuts and milk, then had some time to play and watched Nightmare Before Christmas.  Around noon we made Soul Cakes and I got some pictures of our daughter making them.  She is six and was almost able to make them by herself.  We used my pentacle cookie stamper to flatten them.

Soul Cakes
1 stick butter, softened
1 3/4 cups flour, sifted
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg 
1/4 teaspoon saffron
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Dash of ground cloves
1 egg
1 tsp malt vinegar

Cut the butter into the flour with a large fork. Mix in the sugar, nutmeg, saffron, cinammon and cloves. Lightly beat eggs, and add to flour mixture. Add malt vinegar. Mix until you have a stiff dough. Knead for a while, then roll into 1-inch balls.  Place on greased baking sheet and use a cookie stamp or floured glass to flatten slightly.  Bake 25 minutes at 350 degrees.  Cool on wax paper.
Makes 3 dozen.

Once the cookies cooled, we decided it was pumpkin carving time.  She drew the face she wanted on the pumpkin and then I tried to cut the top off her pumpkin...but the knife wouldn't even go into the pumpkin.  That is how hard her pumpkin was.  So I tried cutting the top off my pumpkin and had no problem with it, so we went with that one.  I had her draw another face and then she tried to use the little pumpkin carving knife to cut it out, but it was too difficult so I cut the face out for her.  I did a pretty good job if I do say so myself!

Now was time to set up the Ancestor Altar.  I had bought silver picture frames from Dollar Tree the week before (LOVE that place).  I cut white copy paper into strips that would fit into the frames, then using a Sharpie wrote the names of our Family's Ancestors.  I ended up with twelve names and then I used a thirteenth frame as a Welcome frame.  I had cleared them out of this design frame, which was 18 frames so I had plenty.  We placed a tealight in front of each frame and a white and a black jar candle on each end.  The Jack-o-lantern went in the middle with offerings on either side.  We had soul cakes, pumpkin seeds, and water, as well as my daughter's "spells" (pieces of paper with random scribbles...but they meant something to her and we all start somewhere).  As I lit the White candle I said "Candle White, welcome spirits this night" and as I lit the Black candle I said "Candle Black, welcome our Ancestors back".

Once everything was lit, it looked like this:

Then of course we went trick-or-treating at my Maman and Baba's neighborhood cause they give out better candy.  :-)  We all had a blast and then ended the night with tea and a roaring fire.  Oh the decadence!

Then I decided to make some beef stew now that the temperatures have plummeted, but I wasn't in the mood to really cook, so out comes the crockpot!  It was to DIE for!  Yummy!

Old-Fashioned Beef Stew (Crockpot)
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
3/4 cup Flour
1 tablespoon Garlic powder
1 teaspoon Paprika
2 pounds lean stew beef
1 onion, cut into eighths 
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups beef broth
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
2 bay leaves
1/2 pound baby carrots 
6 medium potatoes, cut in pieces
1/3 cup cold water blended with 3 tablespoons cornstarch

Combine flour, paprika and garlic powder in a food storage bag; add stew beef and toss to coat. Brown coated beef in hot oil in a large skillet; transfer to the Crockpot. Add the remaining ingredients except for water and cornstarch mixture. Cook on Low for 8 to 10 hours, or High for 6 hours, until vegetables are tender. About 30 minutes before serving, add cornstarch mixture to the pot. Turn to high and cook until thickened.

I was also feeling a little adventurous since the stew turned out well, so I made Spiced Pomegranate Apple Cider.  I did not have all the ingredients for the original recipe, so tweaked it to what I did have and WOW, is it good!

Spiced Pomegranate Apple Cider
2 cups pomegranate juice
4 1/2 cups apple cider
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon whole allspice berries
1 tablespoon whole cloves
2 whole cinnamon sticks

Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a boil.  Lower heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes.  Serve. 

Note:  If you need to keep it warm, use a crockpot set on Low.  Make sure you do not serve the spices in the cups, keep them in the pot.

So far it is even good at room temperature (Mine has gone cold while typing this) so I wonder how it will be chilled.  I will find out in the morning.

I hope to have some a DIY post for y'all soon.  Sandy kinda derailed me on redecorating my home office, but I have plans to start back on it tomorrow.  Maybe I can get it all done by Sunday.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Homemaker Training

I have been researching ways to teach my daughter the homemaking and life skills I think she needs to know, and everything I find is Christian-based.  It is frustrating when my own beliefs are no where near.  I do not need scripture to be a fabTABulous homemaker.  Anyway, I found a few Christian-based curriculum and thought about buying them and just ignoring the scriptures, but I remembered the Friends of the Library Used Book Store around the corner.  So I went to bed, with the help of Nyquil (damn cold and elevated temp), and went to the book store today. 

SOOO glad I did!  I found ten books for a total of $5!  That is a savings of over $40 from what I was about to spend last night.  Now I just need to write out a plan geared toward her age and grow it from there.  I might end up writing a book on Pagan Homemaking Skills.  If anyone has ideas of what they would have liked to know growing up, let me know. 

So far the list is:
Clay Working
Meal Planning
Herbal Remedies

That is all I can think of.  But man, the ideas running throgh my head right now are so plentiful!  Each one of those categories could be a book section, or even have a series of books where each is a book.  Hmmm....comments?

Monday, October 1, 2012

Just Popping in....

I am exhausted from cleaning all day getting the house in tip-top shape for the home appraisal sometime this week (hopefully this week).  I mainly just popped in to post tonight's dinner recipe because it turned out YUMMY!  I found the recipe online somewhere and then tweaked it to make it better. 

BBQ Chicken Legs
12 chicken drumsticks
1 1/2 teaspoons oil
1/2 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon sorghum
Dash salt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Place chicken on a broiler pan, then roast 40 minutes. While chicken is roasting, heat oil in saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and garlic, and cook 5 minutes, stirring, being careful not to burn. Reduce heat to low. Add remaining ingredients and stir. Allow to simmer while chicken roasts. Taste after simmering and add whatever it needs (spice, sugar, etc). Remove chicken from the oven. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees F. With tongs, dip each leg in sauce, submergingg completely. Place back on pan; return pan to oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and baste generously with remaining sauce. Allow to sit a few minutes before serving.
Serves 6.

I served this with corn and green beans.  I also ran by Bottom Dollar grocery and picked up ground beef for $1.99 a pound.  So I will be moving some of the recipes for the week around a bit since I already have ground beef in the refrigerator.  So tomorrow night will be Beef Rice for dinner.  I will post that recipe tomorrow night.  That is an old recipe my mommy used to make and the Hubby absolutely loves.  Plus it is so damn easy to make.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Been Too Long

What a month!  It has been 21 days since I posted; totally wrong of me.  Our daughter has been sick off and on for most of the month and now has asthma. We have been refinancing our home, and now our only vehicle is dead to the world.  But enough about the bad!  :) 

I have been busy in the kitchen as well.  I made a batch of yogurt in the crockpot that turned out "oky" (nice consistency when refrigerated, but kinda bland).  It will work fine for our family since it gets cooked with or flavored and then frozen, but not my in-laws who eat the majority of theirs plain.  They have a yogurt maker they bought for $40 that makes AWESOME yogurt.  I need to tinker and tweak my recipe and see what I can do to make it more flavorful.  The current recipe is:

Crockpot Yogurt
1/2 gallon whole milk
1/2 cup yogurt without stabilzer (I used Axelrod brand)

Pour the milk into the crockpot and turn on Low for 2.5 hours and then turn off and let sit for 3 hours.  Ladle a cup of milk into a bowl and mix in the 1/2 cup yogurt.  Pour back into the crockpot and mix well.  Wrap crockpot in a thick blanket, making sure the crockpot is turned off and unplugged.  Let sit for 8 to 12 hours.  Refreigerate at least one hour before serving.

NOTE: After refrigerating a day the flavor was more developed.

I have also made a new recipe for Spaghetti Sauce and will can it tomorrow.  I got it from the same website as my old recipe (www.thefamilyhomestead.com).  I like the flavor and texture of this one better...plus being able to water-bath can it makes my life SO much easier.  Sometime this week I plan to make ginger syrup so we can make our own gingerale and ginger tea for when we're ill, as well as dehydrating mangoes for my Baba. 

Tonight I actually made out a menu plan for the week starting tomorrow that includes Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.  Hopefully this will be something I can remember/make-myself-do.  I also need to take an inventory of what is in the freezers (yes, plural) and pantry.  I think I need to make a very detailed To-Do list for this week; as you know I cannot function without a list of some kind. 

Then this coming weekend, weather permitting, we plan to cut down nine or so thinnish trees in our backyard, some of which are damaging out gutter system.  At least we'll get firewood out of it.  Then I can measure the backyard and graph how I want to grow the garden next year.  I am determined to grow some veggies next year, as well as small fruits.  So far my list of tenative crops is: tomatoes, potatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, strawberries, blackberries, and maybe apples if I can find a place where I can grow a male and a female tree close together.  The blackberries will not produce until the second year, but then I will be able to make blackberry jam and freeze them and make cobbler in the dead of winter.  Kinda over-achieving for my first year, but they're all veggies I end up buying at the farmer's market.  We will just have to wait and see how things go.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

New Date Challenge

We never really take the time for "date night", hell or "date-anything" for that matter.  Well, that is going to change!  As of now the Hubby and I will have at least ONE date a month (and the challenge?) but they have to be as close to FREE as possible.  This will get us out of the rut of Dinner-and-a-Movie.  Not that there is anything wrong with that, expecially since the last movie we saw in a theater was Harry Potter 7 Part 2.  (Sad, I know.)

I stumbled upon this idea while playing (again) on Pinterest.  I followed a Pin to a website that listed 40 Free Dates and my mind just kept going from there. I cannot remember the website and I didn't pin it because I copied down all the dates I liked.  But I know it was an article from Shape Magazine.  I also stumbled upon a great site/blog at LoveActually-Blog.blogspot.com.  I am copying down the ideas I like and am going to make a binder of Date Ideas.  This way we can easily pick out things to do each month.  Some of the ideas I will keep as a surprise for the Hubby, but most will be decided together.

Here are some of the ideas I have come up with/ found:
  • Summer Concerts
  • Tour a Local Brewery
  • Have a Game Night (boardgames/cards, etc)
  • Go Stargazing
  • Have a Movie Night (at-home)
  • Go to the Beach/Lake
  • Take a Hike
  • Go to a Playground
  • Free Zoo Days
  • Go Sledding
  • Photoshoot
  • Enjoy a Scenic Drive
  • Check out Local Yard Sales
  • Tour a Winery
  • Cloud Watching
  • Couples' Game Night
  • At-Home Couple's Massage (massaging each other)
  • Visit a Farm
  • Learn Something New Together
  • Sandcastle Competition
  • Leap in Leaves
  • Rock Skipping
  • Water Balloon Fight
  • Have a Picnic
  • Bake a Sweet Treat Together
  • Create a Scavenger Hunt
  • Read to Each Other
  • Book-of-the-Month Together
  • Watch Sunrise, Then Make Breakfast Together
  • Planetarium
  • Museum Exhibit
  • Ride Go-carts
  • Go to a Jazz Club
  • Visit a Nursing Home/Pediatric Ward and Hand out Flowers
  • Poetry Reading
  • Book Signing of Shared Favorite Author
  • Take a Walk
  • Try a New Cuisine
  • Fondue for Two
  • Camping (indoors or out)
So as you can tell, we're set for a few YEARS if we stick to one a month, though I think it will be more than that.  Right now I have two possibilities for the rest of September and one in October...all art/museum exhibits.  Loving the whole FREE part, makes budgeting it in so easy *cheesy grin*

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Bucket Lists

I have always heard of bucket lists, but never thought much about them.  In case you do not know what they are, they are lists of things to do or accomplish before you "kick the bucket"; hence, a Bucket List.  There was even a movie about them starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. 

Today I was playing on Pinterest [ there is no other way to describe what a person does on Pinterest other than playing :) ] and ran across a Fall Bucket List.  Instead of a list to do before you die, it is a list to accomplish before Winter hits.  I LOVE this idea!  And I now plan to make one each season and will change the items depending on how much we enjoy each event.  Most lists I found were ten or twelve items long, but since my lucky number is thirteen I chose thirteen items for my list.

Fall Bucket List 2012
1. Go to a pumpkin patch
2. Carve pumpkins
3. Go to a Corn Maze
4. Make Pumpkin bread together
5. Go on a Fall picnic
6. Nature walk/scavenger hunt (with camera)
7. Go apple picking
8. Hayride and apple cider
9. Make a Thankful Craft
10. Celebrate Oktoberfest
11. Make Leaf Art
12. Tram Ride in Cabin John Park
13. Warm up by fire pit and make S'mores

Trick-or-treating was listed on almost every list, but that is a given in our house, so it does not need to be listed on our Bucket List.  I think I will always have #6 on each seaon's Bucket List so my daughter can learn the differences in the world around her from season to season.  I want her to have a love of nature and hopefully want to keep Mother Nature as safe as possible.  But this post isn't about me spouting off about ecology.  :-)  When I come up with the scavenger hunt list I will post it for everyone to use if they wish.

The good thing about my List is I can combine a few at a time so we are not booked every weekend with something.  I do not want this to turn into a chore instead of something fun and enjoyable. 

Monday, September 3, 2012

Family Scrapbook

I have been slowly working on a scrapbook on our family traditions, and now have an idea for another family scrapbook: Family Journal.  I have seen books for sale that have pages of journal prompt for your Mom, Grandmother, Dad, etc to answer, but they never have enough room to write, not to mention nice ones are expensive!  So I wondered if there were sites online that listed different jounraling prompts...and lo-and-behold there are. I spent a day or two copying and pasting into a document on my Kindle Fire the different questions I liked.  Some of them were too old for me (not old enough to have a reaction to the first man on the moon or Elvis dying).  I came up with the following list (not in chronological order):

What did your father do for an occupation?
Where were you on September 11, 2001? How did the events of that day impact your life?
What was a typical Sunday like when you were growing up?
What did your family do for vacations when you were growing up?
What is your favorite birthday memory?
How was Christmas celebrated when you were growing up?
What was your favorite subject in school?
Did you belong to any clubs in high school?
Where did you go to college? What years?
What was your first job?
Is there a Christmas or birthday present that really sticks out in your mind?
Who were you named for?
What was your favorite age or time period in your life?
What was the hardest thing you ever had to do?
What fads have you seen come and go? Did you participate?
Is there something you wished you had done, but didn't?
Have you ever experienced a natural disaster? How were you affected?
What person affected your life the most?
When and where were you married? Did you have a honeymoon?
How many aunts, unless and cousins do you have? Were they a part of your childhood years?
Was there a family member you were especially close to?
What is your proudest accomplishment?
How did you meet your spouse?
What places have you seen in the world?
Is there anywhere you would still like to visit?
Did you know your grandparents?
Did you have a best friend?
Did you have pets?
When did you learn to drive and what kind of car did you drive?
When did you get your first TV? What shows did you watch?
What was your favorite candy? Favorite meal?
Did you go to the movie theater? The drive-in? What types of movies did you like?
What was the first movie you saw? Is there a movie you would watch over and over again?
Was there a job or career you wanted at one time then didn't pursue?
Do you remember any special stories you grandparents told you?
Did you attend church regularly? What faith?
Were your parents very social? Did they dress up everyday or to entertain?
Did your mother and father have favorite sayings?
What did the home you grew up in look like?
What was the first home you purchased like?
Did you like growing up in a small town? Did you dream of moving away or did you want to be there forever?
Did your family eat in the kitchen or dining room? What did the table settings look like?
Was there much music in your home? If so, what kind do you remember?
Did you have a garden? Flower or vegetable?
Do you remember your childhood home having a particular scent?
Did you have a nickname? Do you have any nicknames now?
Did you collect anything as a child? Do you now?
Did you have chores as a child?
How did you and your siblings entertain yourselves as children?
Did you go to camp? What was it like?
What was your neighborhood like when you were a child?
Did you eat lunch at school? If so, what was it typically?
What did you do in the summer when there was no school?
What did you do the day you turned 21? 40?
What was the fanciest New Year's Eve party you ever attended?
What was your favorite song in high school?
Did you go to your high school prom or other dances?
What were the clothing trends/fashions when you were in high school? Did you wear them?
Did you do well in school? Did you ever skip school?
Where did you go to college? How important was it for you to go to college?
Where did you live while in college?
Were you in clubs or a fraternity/sorority in college?
What degree did you get in college? Did you use what you learned in the rest of your career?
Did you change significantly while you were in college?
Did you ever see a favorite performer in concert or at a show?
Did you have a favorite radio show? How did your family listen to radio shows?
What do you like to read? Do you have a favorite novel or author?
What type of art do you enjoy? Have you purchased? Have you created?
Who was your first love? Did you have any crushes on celebrities?
Do you have any bad habits?
What is your favorite season? What about it do you love?
Do you like time alone, or do you need to be with people?
Which President did you admire most in your lifetime?
Did you ever wish to live in a different time or era?
What have been some of the biggest changes in your lifetime?
How did you look as a child? As a young adult? Did you like your appearance?
Was there something you always wanted to change?
Did you ever have an accident?
Do you think you grew to be like your parents? In personality? In appearance?
Who have you lost in your life that you miss the most?
What advice would you pass on to grandchild?
What was your mother like?
What was your father like?
What was your childhood neighborhood/town like?
At what type of stores did your parents shop in your childhood?
What kind of games did you play growing up?
What was your favorite toy and why?
What was your favorite thing to do for fun (movies, beach, etc.)?
Describe a typical family dinner. Did you all eat together as a family? Who did the cooking? What were your favorite foods?
How were holidays (birthdays, Christmas, etc.) celebrated in your family? Did your family have special traditions?
How is the world today different from what it was like when you were a child?
Who was the oldest relative you remember as a child? What do you remember about them?
What do you know about your family surname?
Is there a naming tradition in your family, such as always giving the firstborn son the name of his paternal grandfather?
Have any recipes been passed down to you from family members?
Are there any physical characteristics that run in your family?
Are there any special heirlooms, photos, bibles or other memorabilia that have been passed down in your family?
What was it like when you proposed (or were proposed to)? Where and when did it happen? How did you feel?
Where and when did you get married?
What memory stands out the most from your wedding day?
How would you describe your spouse? What do (did) you admire most about them?
What do you believe is the key to a successful marriage?
How did you find out your were going to be a parent for the first time?
Why did you choose your children's names?
What was your proudest moment as a parent?
What did your family enjoy doing together?
What was your profession and how did you choose it?
If you could have had any other profession what would it have been? Why wasn't it your first choice?
Of all the things you learned from your parents, which do you feel was the most valuable?
When we found out we were pregnant with you, we were…
(As the mother) When I was pregnant with you I craved (or ate all the time)…
I knew I was in labor when…
The hospital trip was…
Why we named you…because…
Who came to see you at the hospital…
On the day you were born…
The day we took you home…
We started our own traditions of…

I informed the Hubby that he was going to be writing his responses to these questions as well.  I want our daughter to have both our experiences to read and enjoy as she gets older...before we forget some of them.  Since he would be doing this project with me, I drug him to Michaels today to look for scrapbook embellishments.  And yes, he honestly looked with me and helped make decisions.  We chose stickers for 9/11, Our Proposal, Our Wedding, and Our Daughter's Birth.

I plan to include photos that corollate to the events and questions.  I have also been doing Pintrest searches for scrapbooking layouts and ideas.  I have some ideas for using maps for one or two answers and my darling mother-dear is going to send me a map of my hometown to use.  I have asked on Freecycle for one of Maryland so hopefully I won't have to buy one.  I am excited to go through all the memorabilia that I have kept over the years to see what I can use in the scrapbook.  I am quite the packrat when it comes to anything sentimental.  

Saturday, September 1, 2012

In With the New!

My daughter started Kindergarten this past Monday and since then life has been a whirlwind!  Monday at the bus stop we met another mom who just happened to be PTA VP.  She asked if I was a stay-at-home mom and I told her I was.  Mrs. T is her name and she asked if I could help out Tuesday.  I said sure.  I spent that day helping set up the display cabinets for the upcoming Fall Fundraiser.  Make a long story short...I am now the PTA Fundraising Committee Chairperson.  LOL  Not exactly sure how I got the job, but here I am.  Fundraiser kicked off Friday and if my daughter sells 250 items (that are about $10 each) she wins either a iPad or 35" flatscreen TV.  There are other prizes for selling less items that are awesome too.  And selling 32 items gets her a Hummer Limo ride to McDonalds.  I don't normally let her eat that shit, but I will make an exception this time.  If you want to help her reach 250 items, let me know and I will send you the info so you can order online (yeah, they have online ordering for out-of-towners...isn't technology great?)

We are chicken sitting for Maman and Baba while they are on a trip over the Labor Day weekend.  Very odd being here without them. Day time isn't so bad, but dinner time and bed time are pretty weird.  Anyway, so we're watching the chickens.  They had broken out of their run when we got here Friday, so the Hubby had to fix that before we could put them in for the night. 

Today was relaxing, but I finally got to use my new food dehydrator!!!  It arrived on Tuesday but I haven't had a chance to even open it with all the PTA stuff going on.  [ It is an early B-day gift...over 2 months early :-) ] I found Red Delicious apples for $0.98 a pound and Granny Smith apples for $1.25 a pound.  So I bought a few Granny's and a good amount of Red Delicious.  Today I was able to dry some of them.  Three Red Delicious were enough to fill all 5 trays of the dehydrator. 

They were sliced 1/4-inch thick and took only three hours to dry.  I ended up filling two quart bags just from three apples.

Now I am drying the Granny Smith apples and they should be done in half an hour.  Tomorrow I plan to finish drying the Red Delicious apples.  I hope to get some peaches before the season ends because the darling daughter loves peaches.  I wonder how dried pumpkin tastes.....

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Surreal Week

Well, might as well start off with the fact that I got almost nothing done on organzing the house.  I did finish getting the kitchen re-organized, but none of my plans for the pantry have been accomplished.  This week will be a drastic difference. 

Thursday evening my Hubby and I went to our daughter's Kindergarten parent teacher night to learn about her Kindergarten experience and meet her teacher.  She has the only male Kindergarten teacher, and that kinda worried us because she shies away from adult men.  He is absolutely wonderful though.  I love that her school is smaller than most in our area and there are only 15 children in her class.  We learned so much that night I went home with a headache :-)

The next afternoon our daughter, my Maman, and I went back to the school so she could meet her teacher and her classmates before their first day.  She had NO problem with her teacher, talking to him easily and interacting with him as if she always knew him.  Total load off my mind.  She also made a little friend, named Luz.  They were preparing for a tea party in the Kitchen Play Area.  She sits next the my daughter as well, so she will have a little friend already when she starts Monday.

Today we spent going to our daughter's Lowe's Build and Grow workshop, then back home for a while (just chillaxing), then went out for dinner.  We walked around the area since we'd never had the time to do so and I stumbled upon a hidden treasure; a non-profit used book store called Friends of the Library.  I ended up buying a Freezer Cookbook, a world ethnic cuisine cookbook, a cooking with Kindergartener's cookbook, and Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder...for $6!  I might just have to donate the books I want to get rid of the them!  We started reading Little House tonight before bed and she absolutely loved it.  She even thanked me for buying it.  She has never thanked me like that before.  It brings back memories of my Mommy reading the same books -- the series -- to my brother and I by the oil lamp when the lights would go out.  Since we lived in the country at the time, this was a common occurance, so I have many warm-and-fuzzy memories of these books, not to mention the TV series.

I will definitely be frequenting that place.  There is even a "New Age" section (a.k.a Pagan section), which is one of the reasons I wanted to check it out, just to see if they had one :-)  Even if they didn't, the smell alone in there was worth the time.  I wish there was an air freshener called "Old Book Smell".  I'd buy stock in the company!  There weren't really any interesting Pagan books, but there were enough in the section to warrant a frequent trip to check their stock.  My head almost swam at the number of cook books, but they did not have any on dehydrating food, which I was really looking for.  I am getting a food dehydrator (early birthday present) as soon as I can remember to order the damned thing.  Probably right after I post this.

Speaking of early presents (well typing actually) I got my early Christmas present today...a Kindle Fire!!!  My Hubby found one at Toys-R-Us for $150 instead of $200 so my Mommy got it for me early.  THANK YOU, MOMMY!  This will really come in handy now that my daughter is going to be at school and I can find time to actually read!

It is still a little surreal that starting Monday my baby-girl will be in school!  No more jetting off somewhere for a day or two whenever we want to take her somewhere, we now have school to contend with!  LOL  Tomorrow I will finish going through her school clothes to make sure, again, that she has everything she needs and get her backpack and lunch box labeled with her name.  I also need to make the "K" for her to have her picture taken with for her first day of school scrapbook page. 

Another development this week is my choice of a major when I go back to school, hopefully in January.  IF I am accepted to University of Maryland then I will be going for a Bachelor's in Persian Studies.  It was a choice between Persian Studies or British Studies concentrating in Anglo-Saxon history.  I have more to offer with Persian Studies since I will be a born and bred American working in the field as opposed to an Iranian or other ethnicity.  Maybe as an American I can get other Americans to listen and realize that the Iranian people are not the enemy.  Maybe one day our countries will be friends once more.  And maybe, just maybe, I can have a hand in that outcome, even if it is a small part.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Weekly Organizing

Those who know me, know that I get bouts of home-organizing frenzy that last about as long as my energy does.  I have a tendancy to over-do by going like gang busters.  I found a website (orgjunkie.com/52-weeks) that suggested doing a project or two a week (like one or two drawers, not one or two rooms) instead of everything all at once.  I will probably do more than that, but no more (hopefully) than an hour or two a day.  I have a list made by week up until the first week of November.  I will post weekly of my progress, maybe daily if I see major progress!

Today, well...I over-did it!  I spent roughly 6 hours re-organizing my kitchen cabinets and drawers.  I have a box of utensils and dishware to Curb Alert on Craigslist tomorrow.  I had my darling Hubby print me some labels that I found the design for online (cannot find the website now to save my life, but will post it when/if I find it).  They are very simple vintage style black print on white circle labels.  And I used a red fine-tip Sharpie to write the items on the labels. 

A thrifty tip:  go to your local Dollar Tree and check out their baskets and organizers.  I was able to get some canisters (not the fancy ones above, but still servicable) and drawer organizers all for a buck a piece.  And now my once-cluttered utensil drawer looks like this:

The one above it will take some thinking on how to organize it since it houses all my cooking spoons and spatulas and ladles.  The Dollar Tree organizers are not big enough for those.  I might just have to suck it up and buy something a little more expensive...but man I hate giving up my pennies for things I think should be cheaper!

This coming week my organizing foci are:
  1. Finish the kitchen re-organization
  2. Purge out-of-date items in the pantry, Freecycle anything that we won't use but are still good
  3. Empty trash cans/recycling in basement
  4. Curb Alert old toys on Craigslist
To me that does not seem like much, and it really isn't, but I do not want to go gang busters and run out of steam half-way through working on the house.  Plus I have my normal weekly cleaning to do as well.  That is something else I need to re-organize now that my daughter is starting Kindergarten on the 27th, my cleaning routine. 

So much to do and so much time to do it.  SOOOO excited!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Sad Purge...

I honestly do not know how many readers I have, other than my husband, but I feel the need to vent/purge, so you are forewarned. 

Close to three years ago I learned of a wonderful campaign to build a pagan community center.  I was excited and motivated to make it happen.  My husband and I donated our time and money, not to mention creating items for the silent auctions at events.  We joined the Launch Committee once we had a physical address and worked to make the Dream a Reality.  New Year's Eve 2011 we opened the doors to the community.  I say "we" because the OHF Community Center belongs to the community, WE made it happen.  I became a weekly volunteer and joined the Event Planning Committee.  A few months after the launch I was asked to be the Steward of the Community Center and I agreed, eager to do all I could.  I ran a successful household and what is a community center but a home-away-from-home? 

Shortly thereafter I started to notice things not running as soothly as they did in the beginning.  Then suddenly on of our Vice-Chairs, and strongest supporter, stepped down and removed herself from the OHF completely.  I was told that this was her own decision and the OHF had nothing to do with it.  Later I learned that she was manipulated by our other Vice-Chair, her husband, into resigning to save her marriage. 

Things really went down hill from there and I decided to distance myself from working with the remaining Vice-Chair that had now taken control of the Board of the OHF.  I could not handle working with him, knowing how he treated his wife, my close friend.  So I stepped down as Steward.  I used the excuse that life events were making it diffiult to continue as Steward because I am the type that hates confrontation.

A month or two later I found out he was having an affair with one of their friends.  Now his ethics were called into question in my mind, and the minds of many others.  I resigned my volunteer duties, not that anyone ever came to the center during my open hours. 

Shortly after that Firefly pulled its sponsorship and many members pulled their donations to the Center because the Vice-Chair was still in power on the Board, as well as his mistress, and nothing was being done to remove him from power.  I pulled my monthly donation as well, being sickened by the fact that the Board of the OHF seemed to support this person's lack of ethics.  It was almost like the condoned his behavior. 

Then today I learned that two of my friends are having a hard time with their newly opened Massage & Wellness Center.  We are planning a fundraiser on September 8th at 4pm.  They are two of the most giving and wonderful men and it breaks my heart to see them having financial difficulties.  (If you want to help out, shoot me an email and I will let you know more.)  But this got me to thinking.  We should be having this fundraiser at our Community Center, but because of one person's selfishness being condoned by the Board, we cannot have it there.  While the Pagan Community should be pouring our energy into helping our Brothers, we have to fight amongst ourselves. 

It is just a sad, sad day in the DC/MD/VA Pagan Community.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Compartmentalization vs. Consolidation

For those who know me personally, know I am as anal as they come.  Everything has to be organized and have a certain place, even if I am the only one to understand that organization.  Well, I had begun to do that with blog and have aquired three different blogs, on three different subjects; one Pagan, one homemaking, and a new one on cheap scrapbooking.  I thought this would make it easier for me to keep things straight, but in all honesty it makes it harder.  So, I had an epiphany today, why not just have ONE blog that does everything?  Kinda a duh moment.  I mean, the blogs are about pieces of me, so why not "showcase" all of me in one place?  So, from now on, all of my posts will be here at Homemaker Homestead.

Last night I took an online quiz, Pagan Tradition Selector (http://www.selectsmart.com/FREE/select.php?client=PaganTraditions).  I got the result of Old English Heathenry (a.k.a. Anglo-Saxon Heathenry).  Kinda outta left field, so I did a little Googling and WOW!  So many beliefs I have always had that never seemed to fit anywhere in mainstream Paganism fit perfectly in Anglo-Saxon Heathenry.  Not to sound cliche but I have found my spiritual home.  Granted I need to do a LOT of reading and learning, not the least of which is Old English.  I have a teach-yourself-book on its way that comes highly recommended by scholars (and was only $5 with shipping from www.Alibris.com).

I started Northern Magic: Mysteries of the Norse, Germans, & English by Edred Thorsson last night and "finished" it tonight.  I say "finished" because I skipped a good amount that pertained mainly to the Norse (as does most of the book) and not the Anglo-Saxons.  I enjoyed the book and it did give me a foundation and point me in a direction of where to move to next. 

Oddly enough I had one of the books Thorsson lists in the bibliography, Gods of the Ancient Northmen by Georges Dumezil, which I bought over eight years ago at an archaeology conference for $1.  From the title I am going to assume it is mainly about the Norse, but I might be able to garner some little gems from it like I did from Thorsson's book.  I learned that the Anglo-Saxons had their own version of the Elder Furthark Runes, but with 33 runes instead of 24.  There are a few books on the subject that I have to either find by Inter-Library-Loan or save up some money and buy second hand -- and they don't come cheap being scholarly texts. 

Speaking of money, another development in my life is my new-found obssession with extreme couponing.  I learned the ropes at www.thefrugalnavywife.com.  So far I have saved more than I thought possible!  Yesterday I bought 4 50ounce jugs of Purex laundry detergent, 3 75ounce jugs Cascade dishwasher detergent, and 3 composition notebooks for $23.23...and saved $26.29, plus got a $1 off coupon to use on anything in the store for later use!!!  I have enough detergents to last about 3 months, maybe more.  The night before I saved almost $18 at Harris Teeter, spending only $22.  And I barely have any coupons, imagine when I really get going.  Sooo excited.  Maybe if I save enough money I can afford some books :-)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Lazy Day

I spent my day being very lazy.  I watched movies snuggled up to my daughter and planned out recipes to make the rest of the summer.  The reason I had such a lazy day was because the remaining peaches molded.  Yep, a total loss of 21 peaches, damn it all.  So I spent quality time with my little girl.  We watched the first Narnia and then Labrynth.  Jerith is one sexy goblin king.  *purrr*

Anyway, tomorrow I am making Dixie Relish.  I have never made it before but it sounds like it should be yummy.  It is a little like pickle relish, from what I can tell, but made with bell peppers instead of cucumbers.  I won't know really how good it is until a few weeks from now when it matures.

For dinner I made another batch of Chicken Enchiladas, instead of pulling them out of the freezer, since I still had all the ingredients.  The Enchilada Sauce that I found ended up too watery so I made some adjustments and it turned out yummy.

Enchilada Sauce
2 8ounce cans tomato sauce
2 cans water
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin

Mix all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Boil for about 2 minutes and it is ready.  Makes enough to cover 8 enchiladas in a 15x9-inch pan.

Pour over enchiladas (will be soupy), sprinkle with cheese, and bake at 350 degrees F until bubbly.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


I finally got the Chicken Enchiladas made.  The original recipe called for ground beef, but my daughter prefers chicken, so I substituted.  That is all I accomplished today because I had an appointment for a routine physical, which turned out better than I had hoped.  All bloodwork came back better than normal, so I am a happy camper.

Tomorrow I plan to make use of the leftover peaches and will probably make spaghetti sauce instead of salsa.  After peeling all those peaches, I am not peeling all those tomatoes! I will as always give the recipes when finished.

Chicken Enchiladas
20 tortillas
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
3 cups cooked chicken, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 15ounce cans black beans, drained
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

In a saucepan, combine filling ingredients and cook over medium heat until heated through.  Soften the tortillas in the microwave for 10-20 seconds.  Put a spoonful of filling down the center of the tortilla, sprinkle with cheese, gently roll up, and put seam side down on cookie sheet.  Continue until all filling is used.  Put trays in freezer to flash freeze.  When frozen, put into ziplock bags for later use.

To Make Enchiladas: Put frozen, filled tortillas in a 9x13-inch pan and cover with enchilada sauce.  Sprinkle top with shredded Cheddar cheese and bake at 350 degrees F until everything is bubbly, or roughly 45 minutes.

***I have not tried a homemade enchilada sauce recipe, but will tomorrow night for dinner and will let you know how that turns out.***

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Phew...I'm tired

My day started at 7am today -- fun, fun, fun.  I was too sleepy to cook that damn early, so I just relaxed for a while and started around 10:30-11:00.  I started by heating the chicken stock up and then canning it in the pressure canner.  I ended up with 5 quarts and 2 pints of chicken stock.  Not bad for spending only $1.21 for the chicken necks (I don't count the price of the chicken the bones came from since they are just a by-product).  I processed the jars for 90 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure.


I had to wait until the pressure canner was cool enought to move off the stove because I needed the room to get the peaches ready.  Talk about labor intensive!  Ugh!  It was worth it, but tiring.  Took me 3 to 3 1/2 hours to finish and most of that was peeling the little boogers.

This recipe is going to be a little vauge on numbers because I didn't count how many peaches I processed, or even weigh it for that matter.  So you will have to gauge for yourself the proportions.  I ended up with 19 pints of peaches.  And just to give you a rough idea of the amount of syrup to make, I only used 12 cups syrup for the 19 pints. 

I still have 21 peaches that were too soft for canning whole, so I am searching for recipes to use them in.  I think I have a few interesting ones to try out tomorrow.  But first thing tomorrow is Chicken Enchiladas!!!

Peaches in Light Honey Syrup
Firm peaches
Syrup: 1 1/4 cups honey per 4 cups warm water

For the syrup: Mix the honey and warm water together and pour into a tea kettle.  Heat on the stove as you process the peaches.

For peaches: Place peaches, in batches, into boiling water for 30 seconds to 1 minute.  Remove to a bowl of ice water.  The skins should just peel off.  There should be a little crease to one side of the peach.  Use this as a guide to cut the peach in half and twist slightly to divide the halves. Remove pit and slice into hot sterilized jars.  When jar is full, immediately pour the syrup from the kettle to fill to within 1-inch of the top, leaving a headspace.

When you have enough jars to fill your water bath canner, place them inside with hot water to an inch or two above the jars.  Cover and process at a boil for 15 minutes.  While they are processing, continue to put batches if peaches into the boiling water and then the ice water, etc.  Rotate the jars out of the canner and into the canner as they finish. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Free? Free is GOOD!

Today I canned made 3 quarts and 1 pint of vegetable stock for free!  Yes, I said FREE!  When I made the Chow-Chow and Garden Soup last week, I saved the onion ends, cabbage cores, bell pepper tops and seeds, and potato peels.  I put them into gallon ziplock bags and when I had two full bags I made veggie stock.  I added the vegetables to a large stock pan and covered them in a lot of water, I mean ALOT.  Then I let it simmer for about 10 hours, maybe 12 (I didn't really count).  I didn't salt it because I don't like a lot of salt.  When it tasted right, I ladeled it into sterilized jars and canned them in the pressure canner for 80 minutes at 10 pounds of pressure.

I also beboned the chicken I roasted Saturday and plan to make Chicken Enchiladas tomorrow out of it.  I took the bones, de-fatted broth saved from the roaster, and a 2 pounds of chicken necks I bought for $1.21 and added it to a stock pot filled with water.  I let this simmer for about 6 hours.  I did salt this stock because it needed the flavor to balance out.  I will can this tomorrow.  It wasn't free like the vegie stock, but damn near. 

So, the plan for this week is:

  • Can chicken stock
  • Can peaches with honey syrup
  • Make Chicken Enchilladas for the freezer
  • Freeze Bell Peppers
  • Make Salsa
  • Can Salsa
  • Make Dishwasher Detergent
  • Spill-Over Day

Sunday, July 15, 2012

A Little Persian Flavor

This weekend has been busy!  We went to the Farm Market in Darnestown twice and I now have a box of green bell peppers and a box of peaches.  I bought tomatoes at our local Korean store, H Mart, for 79 cents a pound (I bought roughly 18 pounds).  Magruder's had chicken leg quarters for 69 cents a pound so I bought 13 1/2 pounds and roasted them yesterday in my countertop-roaster.  I plan to make Chicken Enchilladas with some of the chicken tomorrow. 

Today Magruder's had cauliflower for 68 cents a head and green cabbage for 48 cents a pound.  I thought now would be the best time to make some Torshi.  For those who do not know, Torshi is a Persian soury-tangy vegetable condiment, kinda like a chunky relish.  It is awesome!  So I asked Maman to help me make some.  We chopped up everything at her house tonight and then I seasoned it and added the vinegar when I got home.  The seasoning is a bag of picking spices that we bought at the Persian grocery, but you might be able to find it at another ethnic store. 

The back of the pickling spice lists the ingredients.  In case it is difficult to read, it says: Allspice, Mustard Seeds, Cloves, Ginger, Cinnamon, Corriander Seeds, Black Pepper, Dill Seeds, Bay Leaves, Cardamom.

I will post my weekly plan tomorrow because I have yet to formalize it.  I do know that it will be more than this past week, but I will be having a blast as usual.  Now for the rough "recipe" for Torshi.

1 small head green cabbage
1 medium head of cauliflower
1 onion
2 heads of garlic
1 package Pickling Spices
Pinch of Turmeric
1 gallon vinegar

Chop the cabbage, cauliflower, and onions into small chunky pieces and place in a very large bowl.  Peel the papery skins from the garlic and add to the vegetable mixture; mix well.  Add the vegetables to a gallon jar (can be plastic or glass).  Add the pickling spices and turmeric.  Fill the jar with vinegar.  If the lid is metal place plastic wrap over the top before sealing because the vinegar reacts with the metal and it is not pretty, but if the lid is plastic you do not need the wrap.  Once the jar is sealed, shake the jar to mix the spices throughout.  The vinegar will turn a slight yellow because of the turmeric.  Set in a dry, cool area for about a month, but if you get impatient wait at least a week.  The longer it sits, the better it tastes. 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Making the Most from a Last Minute Sale

This past weekend Safeway had a sale on 5-pound bags of russett potatoes, $1.49 a bag!  I learned of the sale Friday night, the night before the sale ended.  I went first thing the next morning and bought two bags (the maximum limit).  Today I finally got around to making Twice Baked Potatoes from one of the bags.  I think I will make mashed potatoes and baked potato skins out of the other bag. 

Twice Baked Potatoes is a little labor intensive, but oh so worth it.  I used a grapefruit spoon to hollow out the shells after they were baked, but ended up poking holes in the shells so I won't do that next time.  Since this was the first time I had ever made them, I did not know how easy the potatoes were to hollow out.  Be careful when you touch the potatoes, they are HOT!  Use an oven mitt! 

I also finished canning the rest of the Garden Soup today and only ended up with four more jars, making a total of 11.  Doing the math that is a little over 5 pints a batch, not the 7 pints I originally posted.  Still not a bad amount of soup since one pint should serve two (but it is so damn good ya might not want to share).

Twice Baked Potatoes
5 pounds potatoes
Canola Oil
1 cup half-and-half
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
4 ounces cream cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Rub canola oil on all of the potatoes, then rub on the salt.  Bake for 1 1/2 hours or until they "give" slightly.  Mix half-and-half, butter, and cream cheese.  Cut potatoes in half lengthwise with a serrated knife. Scoop out the potato pulp and add to cheese mixture; mix well.  Fill shells and sprinkle with Cheddar cheese, patting down to adhere to potatoes.  Cover with plastic wrap and flash freeze.

To Cook Frozen Potatoes:  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Remove from plastic, place on baking sheet, and cover loosely with foil.  Bake 45 minutes, remove foil, and cook 15 minutes more.  Do not overbake!

One 5-pound bag made 22 Twice Baked Potatoes, and some of them are even small enough to be the perfect portion for our daughter.  This is a photo of the potatoes ready for the freezer.

P.S. While your hands are coated with canola oil and salt, rub your hands together and you get a cheap hand exfoliation...a.k.a soft hands for free.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Soup's On

About six months ago we though our daughter might be allergic to gluten so I set out looking for recipes that were gluten-free.  Luckily it turns out she is not allergic to gluten, just refined foods.  We now buy all whole grains and she no longer has stomach pains...unless she eats too much of them :-)

The recipe that inspired this soup was from my Gulten-Free searching.  I liked the premise of a tomato-type soup that had more depth to it.  Let's face it, most tomato soups are like eating thick tomato juice...no personality.  I added some things to the original recipe and took others away (not a fan of sweet potatoes).  You can easily adapt this to whatever veggies you like.  I canned seven pints of this and plan to can as many tomorrow, but that was from a double batch (two crockpots).  So roughly seven pints from a single batch.

Oh, and yes, you can add the equal amount of fresh tomatoes instead of the canned called for in the recipe, I was just using what I had on hand.

Garden Soup
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 large potato, peeled and diced
1/2 small head green cabbage, cored and chopped
12 baby carrots, chopped
Salt and fresh black pepper, to taste
28 ounce can cruched tomatoes
2 14ounce cans diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons dried basil
2 cups vegetable stock

Add everything to the crockpot and stir to mix well.  Set to low and allow to cook for 10-12 hours.  Puree in food processor or blender until desired consistancy (less time for chunky and more for a smooth soup).

To can the soup, pour the hot soup into hot, sterlized jars and process in a pressure canning at 10 pounds pressure for 75 minutes for pints and 90 minutes for quarts. 

There are many sites that can tell you how to can using a pressure canner, so I will not re-invent the wheel.  :-)  Besides, I am just learning to use the canner I received from my Ninnie. Which I found out today needs a new pressure gauge.  Not bad for a 60-something year old pressure canner.  If you are in the market for a pressure canner, All-American pressure canners with the metal-on-metal seal are the best you can buy, as mine is a prime example of!  It also says something that the company is still in business after damn near 100 years and I can still get parts for my cannner.  Anyway, enough rambling, go cook some soup :-)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Time is an Expensive Commodity

Today I was finishing the chow-chow and my great-aunt Nita, or Ninnie to us, was heavily on my mind.  Every year she and her sister, my great-aunt Marie, would get together and have an all-nighter of making near a hundred jars of chow-chow.  They did this until they were in their 60's, every year without fail, without help. 

That last fact is sad.  I try not to have regrets in my life, and generally do not, but I regret that I under-apprecitated Ninnie while she was alive.  I should have been up all night with them, helping and learning, but instead I was either out with my friends or probably asleep.  I missed out on so much time with her because I always thought there would be time to learn form her.  Well, this October will be the 4th anniversary of her passing through the veil and it is times like these that I really miss her presence.  I am lucky to have some of her stories on cassette that I have transferred over to CD, but I would much rather have the real her for my daughter to know and not a recorded voice and pictures. 

Nothing in life is for sure and time is a very expensive commodity, so please do not spend it willy-nilly.  Even if you hear the same story a hundred times, it is the time together that matters.  Remember also that you are never too young or to old to have an elder show you how to do something.  So many arts are dying off because the younger generation does not appreciate them.  I am lucky enough to still have my Mamaw, Ninnie's other sister, to ask questions of and learn from, but I do not know how much longer that will be.  I pray it is forever, but reality keeps sinking in every time I see her.  I pray that my daughter will learn the skills and arts that I know so they can continue on, but I will record what I can just in case it is her children that wish to learn after my passing.

On a happier, less sappy note :-), here is my Ninnie and Aunt Marie's recipe for Chow-Chow. 

9 cups chopped sweet peppers (can be any combination of colors)
9 1/2 cups chopped green cabbage
4 1/2 cups chopped onions
5 hot peppers
10 tablespoons canning salt
8 tablespoons mustard seeds
4 tablespoons celery seed
1 cup sugar
2 quarts vinegar

Chop sweet peppers, cabbage, onions, and hot peppers in food processor.  Mix well.  Sprinkle salt over vegetables and let sit overnight or at least 8 hours.  Sterilize 10 pint jars.  Drain chow-chow mixture well and add to large saucepan.  Add mustard seeds, celery seed, sugar, and vinegar.  Cook over medium heat for 15 minutes.  Pack into jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace.  Put on lids.  Process in a water ban canner for 10 minutes.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Plan for the week of July 9th

Today was a total waste thanks to the shoulder, but tomorrow should be better.  At least I am hoping it is because I have an ambitious week planned with cooking for the freezer and canning, and also gutting the house of unwated knick-knacks and books I will never read again. Below is the "working" list, as always Life might change what day these things occur.

  • Twice Baked Potatoes for the freezer
  • Begin making Chow-Chow
  • Double batch Tomato Surprise Soup
  • Peach Muffins from aging peaches in fridge
  • Go through books
  • Take pictures of chaffing dishes to put on Ebay
  • Take pictures of knick-knacks to put on Ebay
  • Go through serving platters
  • Take pictures of serving platters to put on Ebay
  • Make dishwasher detergent
  • Finish Chow-Chow
  • Can Chow-Chow
  • Pressure Can Tomato Surprise Soup
  • Take pictured of books to put on Ebay
  • Enchilada Sauce
  • Enchiladas for the freezer
  • TBA

Luckily none of this will involve the left shoulder much, seeing as how I am right-handed.  I have also found a huge farmer's market a little ways from our house and plan to check it out this Saturday if the temps stay out of the 100's.  Being photosensitive sucks the big one this time of year.  Maybe I can find some good deals for produce to put up for the winter.  I will definitely have to pack the Gatorade and water because I do NOT want to be back at Kaiser for an IV of fluid; took three weeks for the bruise to go away.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Pains of Homemade Laundry Detergent

Well, it seems that I was a little too energetic when I made my detergent.  I had to go to Urgent Care tonight for a painful shoulder that I have been dealing with for about 3 weeks.  I have Bursitis in my left shoulder from stirring the laundry detergent.  Hmmm...it cleans well, but I think I will try another recipe I found that is not as...intensive?  It does not require being cooked on the stove and strict water proportions since it stays as a powder.  I am not overly fond of powdered laundry detergent, but since it only requires 2 Tablespoons to be used I think it will dissolve easily.

Either tomorrow, or Monday, I plan to try making (and using) a batch of Homemade Dishwasher Detergent.  This is a powder as well so I wil not aggrivate my shoulder.  I will update on how well it works tomorrow or Monday night.

I have been riding the grocery sale ads and will be making enchiladas to put in the freezer sometime in the next few days.  I already made Stuffed Manicotti and put them in the freezer this week.  I found a book that belonged to my maternal Great Aunt titled How to Eat Better for Less Money by James Beard.  It really has some wonderful advice and recipes.  I plan to begin implenting them ASAP!  One of the best pieces of advice is to have a first course, then a small main course, and finally dessert if desired.  This way you do not glut yourself on the main course and can maybe have better quality instead of quantity.  Kinda common sense, but common sense is a lost commodity in today's world.  Anyway, I will post a comprehensive review of the book when I finish it.  Yes, it is a book you read and not just skim through.  You would be doing this book a grave injustice if you skimmed it just for the recipes. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

To Be or Not to Be...Laundry Detergent

Today I took a leap into making my own laundry detergent.  I have been wanting to do this for a while and finally went for it.  The original recipe called for Fels Naptha soap, which, of course, I could not find.  I bought Zote soap instead and an glad I did because it has a gently lemon scent.  I grated the soap and added it to the water in a saucepan, melted it and then added the Borax and Washing Soda.  Then added it to the 5 gallon bucket and poured in the rest of the water...only I didn't calculate correctly and didn't add enough water.  Four hours later I have a solid crust over watery soap.  Ugh!  I added the REST of the water and stirred it well.  I can only hope it works out overnight like it is supposed to.  Supposedly it is a fool proof recipe...well, in this case they created a better fool (ME). 

The only way I can understand my miscalculation is being tired as hell.  My daughter woke me up at 5:30am having to go potty.  By the time she was finished I was wide awake.  So I had been up almost 12 hours by the time I started making the detergent.  Plus, I have spent the last week preparing the house for my Mom's two week visit, which starts tomorrow.  I am sooo excited!!!  We're planning to clear the back yard of the small saplings that have sprung up in the last year or two, painting the porches, the wrought iron around the outside of the house, and create a craft room sanctuary for me.  There are a few other little painting projects as well.  We are kinda over-achievers. 

I will post progress as it happens, with pictures if I can remember to take them.  And if the recipe for detergent pans out, I will post that as well in the coming days.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

While at the In-Laws

Last night we were over at my in-laws' house (it seems odd to call them that since I think of them as my own parents -- anyway...).  They recently built a coop and bought seven chickens, each a different breed.  We have been watching them grow for a little over a month, and my daughter, has been enjoying them emensely.  Well, last night I notice a new magazine laying on the kitchen table, Countryside & Small Stock Journal.  I was intrigued so I opened it up and glanced through it.  Wow!  The wealth of knowledge is amazing!  They touch on just about every subject imaginable.  The recipes alone have made me want the magazine.  Baba, my father-in-law, has canceled his subscription because he does not have enough time to read it all before the next one comes (it is a bi-monthly magazine).  Does that tell you how much is in it?  And the newstand price is $3.99, the subscription price is $18 for a year.  If you are interested in checking it out, go to http://www.countrysidemag.com/.  They also have back issues you can buy and list the articles of interest for each.  I will definitely be subscribing to this little jewel!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Intro...and a recipe!

This is my second go at blogging.  I didn't really post much to my old blog, but hopefully this one will be peppered with posts since it is something near and dear to my heart...food.  I have been trying to be more frugal and self-sufficient in my homemaking, thus this new blog. I will be posting recipes and frugal ideas frequently and hope to have a fair few followers.  I will start off with a recipe I created with inspiration from a recipe I found in an old freezer cookbook.  I took their technique and the cheese mixture I created for my lasagna recipe and came up with this recipe.  Hope you enjoy it.

Stuffed Manicotti
32 ounces ricotta cheese
16 ounces sour cream
4 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons pepper
2 teaspoons parsley flakes
2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
3 cups shredded Mozzarella
3 boxes manicotti shells

Mix ingredients together.  Drain noodles when they are finished cooking; stuff them with cheese mixture.  Put them in the freezer individually to flash freeze.  When they are frozen, put them in ziplock bags and back into the freezer.

To fix the manicotti, remove 12 shells and place them in a 9x13-inch pan.  Brown a pound of ground beef, drain off the grease.  Add a jar of spaghetti sauce and 1/2 cup water to the meat.  Pour over the frozen shells.  Top with 2 cups mozzarella cheese.  Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees F for roughly 50 minutes, or until the shells are soft.