Tuesday, December 8, 2015

DIY Money Tree! For those hard to shop for! A post from the archives!

We all have a few of them on our lists!

   You know! Those hard to shop for friends and family! For me it is a handful of teen and pre teens! My daughter and I shopped aimlessly with little luck! I finally surmised that we could just get them a gift card or money.... Money is the ultimate gift after all. Your recipient is free to do as he or she pleases, but it has always felt a little impersonal to me! I give you the Christmas money tree!

Start with two pieces of felt. Trace a tree pattern, cut and either sew or glue them together with hot glue. Leave about a half inch border and a hole for stuffing the tree at the bottom! Next stuff your tree! Do not be afraid to get into the corners.

I used a small dowel cut into equal pieces for the trunk! To create the candy cane striping, paint first your base color. Then when dry apply painters tape in a spiral around the dowel and paint your secondary color! Once you remove the tape touch up and even out where necessary! These blocks that I used for the base were only .30 at Hobby Lobby! I painted a primary color then topped it with ivory and sanded the edges for that unique look! Once your base is completed use a cute piece of scrapbook paper to cover the top!

So Cute, Easy and Affordable!

Assemble by closing the opening to the tree around the dowel! Use a small amount of hot glue to attach the trunk to the base! Decorate!

Use ornaments that reflect the personality of the intended recipient!

 I found tiny clothespins at Wal Mart. Use them to attach money or gift cards! Have fun! 

          What are you working on?

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

"Turkey for you and turkey for me!"

I have a dilemma!

    This years turkey will be the third or fourth turkey we have prepared. We have tried a few different methods. Last year with a medical grade serum bag.... (Yikes! Um, what? From the hubs work! Insert image of "Frankenturkey". Anyway, they actually make fantastic bags for brining, and of course.. Thank goodness! Medical purposes!) We brined for the first time. Delicious moist and flavorful! Really splendid! My hubby usually gets a turkey from work. "Frankenturkey".  I hit a few different stores looking for the right spices and ingredients. Intent upon recreating the juicy goodness of last years bird. Bought them all. Got home. Saw turkey was pre injected.

Great! Commence hair pulling!

    I just spent half my paycheck on spices. Good grief. I have been trolling the internet for rescue. Someone to say "Yes! Proceed with your dream of turkey that falls off the bone! Brine your already salted turkey! Rejoice with a triumphant leap from the table as they shriek Eureka!" High fives all around! Tears of joy! Victory! Random, vivid imagination. Oh how your dreams change as you age. Laughing. Out. Loud.

    Determined am I! I think Tom will get a bath anyway. I think he will spend a luxurious 24 hours in chilled apple cider. Floating amidst fleshy pomegranate kernels. Orange peel swirling around our esteemed guest. Steeping in spices and crisp fall apples...

Because I'm Fairly certain last years turkey was also pre injected!

In addition to my usual determination I am also an:


1. One who usually expects a favorable outcome.

    The cheesecake turned out silky smooth. No cracks on the top. Buttery golden. Happy birthday to my Grammie. Baby girl made the most beautiful place cards for the guests. Rolls are rising as we speak. The people I love, and who love me will gather to give thanks. At this time next week Thanksgiving 2015 will be on the books. What will we remember?

How is your turkey day prep coming?

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Cheesy Jalapeno Rolls...

"Baby it's cold outside!"

    As the Fall weather winds down and Winter prepares for her debut I find myself preferring the crock pot for dinners. Warm aromas permeating the senses. Warming you from head to toe, heart and soul. Sunday dinner is the perfect opportunity to indulge in the smell of fresh rolls. Rolls with crisp outsides and tender, soft white centers, perfect cheesy layers...

     Because my little one is sensitive to spicy foods we halved our batch of jalapeno rolls. Which also meant we had plain rolls later for a dripping butter and honey dessert! The jalapeno rolls were served with crock pot sloppy joe meat. I used the ingredients from the Food.com version of Test Kitchens: Sloppy Joe Recipe.  To convert the recipe to crock pot, simply brown your meat, onions and garlic. Then add it as well as the other ingredients to your crock pot on low for 4-5 hours. Once your meat is going, roll up your sleeves and start the rolls.

    Start by combining room temperature milk with warm water and yeast. You could use whole milk, I always have 2% on hand and it works like a charm. Allow the yeast mixture to become frothy before adding it to a mixing bowl that contains: sugar, room temp butter, salt, one egg, and two cups of flour. Mix until everything is wet and well mixed. Change to bread hook and add remaining flour a cup at a time. Mixing well after each addition. When dough is sticky, but firm and pulls away from sides of bowl turn onto floured surface and hand knead until smooth and elastic.

    Allow dough to rest and double in size! Punch down and roll out into a large circle. Add your jalapenos and cheese. Cut into triangles. (I usually get 16 triangles, you can cut more for smaller and more rolls) Roll them up into a cheesy croissant. Place on a buttered baking sheet and allow to rise once more. During the last few minutes of rising, boil 5 cups of water. Pre heat oven and place boiling water on the lowest rack with the rolls on the middle rack. Hello crispy crust. Hello tender middle. Bake for 20-25 minutes until tops are golden brown. Brush tops with melty butter. Serve warm, and of course... Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

A little inspiration...

        The Holidays are approaching! Are you getting ready? Or waiting a few more weeks?

     We are doing things a little different this year. We typically are not completely done with shopping and/or decorating before Christmas Eve. Sincerely. I couldn't really tell you why. It is just how it has been. Our "style" you could say. This year we are in new territory! Our shopping is very nearly done, and I have a jump start on our decorations! I must say.... It is kind of nice! This lull, the quiet before the holiday storm. Taking advantage of this slow time has been most productive! Now ordinarily crazy time will be spent snuggled up in a blanket downstairs with my cute family. Christmas lights glowing on the tree.... Yes! We even have one of two trees up!

    Last Saturday while the hubs was pheasant hunting my gals and I headed into town. Our little valley is the newest to welcome Tai Pan Trading. Really exciting! I did not want to leave. I was completely enamored  by the hanging Christmas wreaths they had displayed. As I quickly began formulating a plan to duplicate the wreath, the total started to creep upwards. Although completely head over heels with the store and their wholesale pricing, I could not bring myself to spend the nearly sixty dollars it would have been to purchase all the supplies.... and really, sixty is not bad, but cursed am I with a frugal mind.

    A simple Christmas garland can be purchased for less than a traditional wreath. I wrapped a tree garland around an old grapevine I already had. Then secured it with wire. I used white string to attach silver snowflakes at different lengths to the grapevine on the outer edge. My old reliable friend jute was used to hang the ornaments from the ceiling first then through the middle of the wreath after it was hung.  I literally only spent $10 on this wreath! Hobby Lobby is having a fantastic 50% off sale on all of their Christmas items. I bought 5 large ornaments. Everything else I had from previous years! The cute deer? Dollar store!

  Inspiration and creativity are endless. It is really what we do as bloggers. Inspire one another. Make our own special touches and contributions. I really love Tai Pans wreath. Like, love it! I really love mine too! Maybe a little more. Something rewarding about creating for my family.

    How have you been inspired this Holiday season?

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Mini Cheesy Turkey Shells...

        This is the picture that popped up in my "memories" from Facebook this morning! Two years ago today we were enjoying our first snow fall! You would have to know my family to really understand the disappointment today's mere rain showers are bringing! I promised my hubby a snow dance before he left the house for the day. Channeling ancient Winnebago Indian powers....... Just kidding, but really we are on pins and needles. 

     You could say we bleed ski doo. Its an old family tradition passed down through many wintery generations. The past few Utah winters have been... meh! We have had snow of course, but it has been years since we got a good dumping.

     So as I sit here with my hot chocolate and Ludo omelet... Did you watch "What Phil is having" last night? He is a riot! The little one is busy with "homework" and AM 1390 has been transformed into the annual holiday station fittingly playing "Let it snow"... I realize just how ready for the season I am. Yesterday the little and I got a jump on Christmas shopping. Putting the horse before the cart as usual, because first of course is turkey day! Our family will have the opportunity to host, and I couldn't be more excited. Stuffed with the fixings, blissfully content as we welcome the holidays! I can hardly contain myself waiting for time spent with my little family away from the hub bub. 

     Just in case you are feeling like me today, lets talk turkey! Lets take it a day at a time. A holiday at a time. Here is a turkey recipe to rein the emotions back in....  

My intention was turkey pot pie but I ended up with a "cheesy turkey shell" due to my poor planning and not purchasing enough pie crusts to top these tasty little things!

Try them out my kiddos and husband loved them! You cannot go wrong with a creamy white sauce and cheese! You will need:

1/4 cup butter or margarine
3T. finely chopped onions
3T. finely chopped celery
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 cup flour
2 c. milk
two 9" pie crusts
about a cup each of your choice in veggies
and of course turkey!

    Preheat oven to 375. In a medium saucepan, melt butter. Add onions, salt, pepper and celery. Saute until tender. In a separate saucepan bring your diced mixed veggies to a boil. Do not overcook them! They will cook in the oven, so you want them slightly crunchy. Once your onions and celery are tender add flour and cook over low heat, stirring constantly until thickened. Stir in milk and bring to a boil. Boil one minute then remove from heat. Stir in your veggie mix and your turkey...diced or shredded will work!

1. Roll out the pie crust. Using a cookie cutter or kitchen glass cut out 12 circles.
2. Place pie crust circles into greased muffin tin.
3. Load them up with your turkey mix! Don't be afraid to fill them up as they will cook down in the oven! Top with cheese.

                   Top with shredded cheese and paprika. Bake uncovered for 15-20 minutes.


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Tulle Mermaid Tail...

   Tulle and hot glue have always been kind to me. Seriously if the house was on fire I would grab the kids, family pics, my craft bins and my glue gun... Maybe some clean underwear if there was time to spare.

     There was the seven (fingers bleeding by the end) Peter Pan fairy costumes. Two Halloweens ago an adorable Hoot Owl . Last years Olaf and Elsa. Tulle and I are friends. Inexpensive, easy, with endless possibilities....

   This year the baby doll has been dreaming. Dreaming of mermaids... or "wormaids" as she pronounces it. She is dreaming of red flowing hair and a shiny green tail. However, one thing I truly cannot stand about tulle is how messy bunches of it can get. I have tried everything to keep it from bunching up. Its usually a catastrophe. The Elsa dress was fabulous, but by the end of the night it was a ball of static electric leaves and crud.

    I kept thinking about this as I began to formulate a plan for the wormaid tail of a little girls dreams. After playing around a bit... this is what I came up with. I used this technique for fairy costumes and it was a hit. I have had numerous dance teachers ask how this was done. I am finally getting to posting a tutorial. By far my favorite. A little tedious, but totally worth it! The best thing (besides its not a fluff ball) is that she can use this tail for dress up after Halloween!

Supplies needed:
For a child size tail.
*4-6 rolls of 25 yard tulle. You can do solid colors or mix up a few.
*Safety pins
*Measuring tape or ruler
*Sewing thread and needles
*Hot glue gun and sticks
*Ironing board. Not necessary, but will make life much easier.

1. Start by taking two measurements. One of the waist and one from the waist to the floor. Add a few extra inches to both of these so the waist can be tied in a fancy bow and you have material to work with on the bottom. Double the waist to floor length so you can fold the material in half, securing it to the waist piece in a slipknot. This is how a basic tulle skirt is fabricated. If you are new to skirt tying Ben Franklin Crafts has a quick and easy tutorial here. Use your waist to floor measurement to cut multiple strips before beginning to tie.

 2. You can tie all of your strips onto the waist band first or take it in sections. I find sections easier. You will be braiding three strands and stitching braids together. The excess tulle will get in the way. Its really up to you. I have done it both ways.

   3. Taking three strands create a braid. Keep even tension. Use a tape measure or ruler to decide where your braid will end and the flared portion of the tail will begin. I like to use safety pins to secure the bottom until they are stitched together. This will also help you keep your braid ends consistent and even.

  4. Take two completed braids, secure your thread at the top of the braid closest to the waist band and use a simple whip stitch to bind the braids together. When you get to your safety pin at the bottom whip stitch the ends of the tulle braids as well to prevent them from coming undone. The third picture in the frame below shows how this is done. Each braid has a straight line of stitching along the bottom.

     5. Secure the end of your thread. I found that the bottom was not quite thick enough, and could be fluffier. Simply add an additional strip of fabric to the backside of the skirt as shown above.

  6. Continue tying, braiding, stitching (I just noticed the typo in my photo) and gluing until the desired width is achieved. Once it is wide enough to go around that wiggly little body you are done! You can stop there, or flip it over to the front and add some bows and additional length and thickness on the front. Your little one will adore you! Tie the excess tulle on the waist band into a fancy bow. I did not apply fixed fasteners on the back. I found looping extra tulle through the braiding secure, adjustable and flexible enough for her to run around in! Trim any long pieces from the bottom.

    The stitching portion could be done with a sewing machine for added strength, or just to be a bit quicker. Someone more talented than myself with the sewing machine could probably accomplish this. I found the sewing machine difficult. Once you get the hang of it, the whip stitching goes pretty quick!

    What is your go to material? Have a safe and Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Out with the old! In with the.... Old?!

    Good old Tuesday! One day down in the week. I'm in a bit if a rush today. Ever notice how incredibly slow Blogger is when you just want to post! Its probably not Blogger, but my impatient, antsy old self.

     My to do list is brimming. My want to do list growing. Today I get to take not one, but two Iphones to the Apple store. Insert: frown. Teens and pre teens are tough on things! Good grief! After that the lil one and I will hit a few stores for a jump on Christmas shopping. Insert:... I'm not sure how I feel about this yet. Somewhere in there I get to grab supplies for my newest beloved piece of furniture. Has that ever happened to you? You just know even before the first stroke of sandpaper you are going to fall in love! This UEA weekend we were visiting family. My mother in law sent me home with a true treasure.

    My sweet husband does not understand this old soul that lives deep inside, and normally probably would not have loaded said treasure into the trailer and dragged her home, BUT... we need another dresser. After seven years of marriage you would not think that I am still trying to piece our bedroom together.... I am. We have never had matching furniture in there. That bothers me some. Like teens in a dorm room sort of bother. Styles change. Tastes change. When we got married we were trying to combine two households into one. Now we have accumulated seven more years worth of stuff. We could afford a new set, but just simply have not gotten around to it, and I don't mind. I love to create for my family!  Last month when the hubby was deer hunting (when I do my best work) I tackled our existing dresser:

    Not to shabby! I replaced some of the missing handles sanded here and there, slapped some primer plus paint on and voila! So are you ready?! Here is the newest addition!

 Wah Wah Wah!

 Can't you see the possibilities though! Ugh! Im so excited! Nerd alert! The first place my eye was drawn, was to the lovely "brass" handles. No worries! After a quick removal, and I mean quick! I cleaned them up good with a baking soda paste and lightly sanded them with a 220 grit sandpaper. have you ever used Rust-Oleum's Metallic paint and primer?  Oil rubbed bronze is the bomb! The stuff is a God send! I have updated fixtures like a mad woman around the house!

    The cost of all new hardware can get a little pricey. I am still planning on purchasing a few different handles so this dresser matches the other dresser, but my cost for a simple update using what is already available is right around $10, for the paint and sandpaper!

Now I'm really excited! Happy Tuesday!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A Family Favorite! Easy Peasy Sweet and Sour Chicken!

    The baby is eating eggs and crunchy, crumbly toast in our bed, my side this time. The washing  machine is whirling and twirling around the first of at least five hundred loads of laundry. The gorgeous fall sun is warming up the house and soul. Kiddos are off to school, besides the one littering the bed sheets with tiny toast crumbs of course. My amazing guy is out the door for the day. Its just me, my coffee, Dr. Meredith Grey (How did life exist before Netflix anyway?) poised to take on the day!

    Ahhhh! The quiet lull in between the summer and the holidays. A few quiet weeks between mayhem. Local pumpkin walks with toasty mittens and melty hot chocolate. Leisurely afternoons with my best girls. Perhaps that's really why I prefer Fall? Besides the warm aromas. Crisp morning air filling your morning run lungs. Beautiful scenery..... and on and on. Fall really is special. Last week as we bribed and begged with the little one to smile and pose one more time for the 2015 family photo spectacular, I mused about the year that has so quickly passed us by. Time as usual is flying by.

    All we can do is cherish today. Savor these minutes that will come, and most assuredly go.  Sit down together at the family dinner table and remember this day, this season. The times their faces aren't glued to their phones. The statistics on family dinners are amazing. After the world has its way with your family, welcome them home with a favorite. Enjoy the quiet times in between the whirlwind of life. Here is one of our favorites. From our family to yours!

                                                      Sweet and Sour Chicken

    You will Need:
For the sauce
* 1 cup sugar
* 1/2 cup vinegar
* 1/4 cup pineapple juice
* 1/4 ketchup
* 1 T soy sauce
* 1/2 t salt
* 1/2 cup pineapple chunks
* (optional) diced onions and peppers

For the chicken
* 4 chicken breast cut into bite size pieces
* 3 eggs slightly beaten
* 2 cups flour
* salt
* pepper
* olive oil

Pre heat oven to 350. In a large skillet heat about a tablespoon of olive oil. In batches, dip the chicken pieces in the egg first followed by the flour. Make sure the pieces are well coated. Place them in the large skillet season with salt and pepper and allow them to brown, flipping occasionally. After browned place in a baking pan in a single layer.

       Allow the crust to set for about 10 minutes while you prepare the sauce. In a small saucepan, mix all of the ingredients. Heat the sauce over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved and sauce is bubbly. We prefer a little extra sauce. This sauce will thicken in the baking process. If you would like a little extra sauce for dipping, simply double or repeat the sauce recipe.

    Once sauce is prepared pour sauce and pineapple chunks over chicken. If you doubled recipe, only use half of the sauce over the chicken. Place chicken in the oven and bake for one hour. To keep the chicken coating crisp, allow the chicken to bake for at least 35 minutes before flipping. While the chicken is baking start your rice cooker!

 Enjoy! I'm off to fold laundry. Sweep the bed. Snuggle a lil one while we work on the alphabet. Perhaps grab a shower.... Bring it on Tuesday!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Pumpkin buttercream? Yes! Please, and thank you!

    I have been having a lot of fun with buttercream lately. Tis the season! Birthdays and celebrations all around, but more importantly pumpkins abound! One cannot login to Facebook without an inundation of pumpkin spice jokes, recipes, and photos. I am by no means a pioneer to the buttercream society. Just dabbling in the joys of creation. Nibbling away at spoonfuls of elation. Turning to tabata in the mornings to keep up with this dangerous habit!

    Last week the lil one and I stood in the kitchen with satisfied grins as we licked the Nutella buttercream beaters clean! This beautiful fall crisp morning, after a few days of recuperating from a wonderful head cold, little and I were feeling ambitious! Working with what we had on hand it was decided warm, flaky, soft centered sugar cookies would be our contribution to the day. Having no cream cheese or traditional ingredients on hand my mind wandered to the stockpiled cans of pumpkin puree.

    A quick Google search confirmed it was possible! I played around with it a bit to create a frosting that would win the hearts of men, women, and children alike! Woah! Cold medicine high! Whip up a batch of your favorite sugar cookies, or chocolate cupcakes, or whatever you fancy! Slather them in orange pumpkin goodness! Our sugar cookies taste like mini ,buttery, melt in your mouth pumpkin pies! Enjoy!

1 cup pumpkin puree (not pie mix)
1/2 cup unsalted sweet cream butter at room temp
1tsp vanilla
1tsp cinnamon
3-5 cups powdered sugar

    With a paddle attachment combine the pumpkin, butter, vanilla and cinnamon. Once it is well combined begin adding powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time. Mix after each addition. You may notice pearls of butter not combining well with the pumpkin. This will not be noticeable in the completed butter cream. Add powdered sugar until the desired consistency is reached. Once consistency is achieved allow the buttercream to whip for and additional 3-5 minutes. This recipe covered 30 sugar cookies with a luscious thick layer!

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