Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Hankie Pankie

Well Finally!!! I was able to set foot in my craft room last night for a couple of hours! I love spending time making things. I keep a journal with me and anytime I have ideas I write them down for future use. This particular craft was in there for several months and I'm so glad I have gotten around to doing it.

A couple of months ago I picked up some old vintage handkerchiefs at an estate sale. They were in sandwich bags and I tore into them as soon as we got in the car. (Oh the things that excite me!) At a separate yard sale a year or two ago I had bought a vintage Martha Washington bedspread that wound up having some repairs and some snags but it was in decent shape. I had it in my spare bedroom at my old house. I've been itching to do something with both of them. So here's what I did!

I cut a piece of white scrap fabric and sewed the handkerchief to it, face up leaving a one inch edge. Then I ironed down the edge towards the front. I cut a piece of the bedspread the same size as the white fabric, put face to face together and sewed together leaving a hole to stuff the pillow. Next I turned it inside out, added stuffing and whip stitched the stuffing hole together. Walla!! A fantastic little pillow.. I made two more. It was so easy. These three will be for sale in my etsy shop later today... at least I think I can part with them!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Garden Blessings

After a particularly weighing Monday that began at 12:49 a.m. I was greeted at home with a caring hug from my Mister and wonderful surprises in the garden. After announcing that I was taking the night off I made my way out to the garden. I was so pleased to see that some of my black cherry tomatoes were ready! I grew these from seeds that I bought from a lady on and I am pleased to report that they are wonderful! I just kept looking at them in a bowl on the table all night remarking on how pretty they are.

My second find was found in the green pepper plants which have taken their sweet time producing this year. I picked eight peppers. They have such a wonderful smell and I think we will be having stuffed peppers for supper this evening! I also found that I have five luffa!!! This just tickles me green! I had only found three so far until yesterday. The vines have gotten so thick that they are hard to get to. With the help of my rain boots I was able to get over to the vines and inspect my produce!

I am so happy with what I found and it was a much needed surprise!
Seeds bought from

Potato Madness

It seems as though I was canning all weekend long... oh wait.. I was! Shaun and I with the help of his Mom dug our potatoes two weeks ago. We spread them out in the basement on a quilt to let them sit and dry out a little. I made sure to pick up as many potatoes as I could including the small ones. Shaun's Grandmother had told me that a friend of hers cans the smaller ones to use in soups, green beans, roast, etc. I got pretty excited about this.

I had Granny call her friend and get the steps for me and she did and here's how you do it.

  • Wash quart jars to have them ready

  • Boil lids

  • Wash potatoes using a vegetable brush

  • Pour 1 teaspoon canning salt into each jar

  • Pack potatoes into jar keeping them just below the neck of the jar

  • Fill each jar with water leaving 1/4 inch head space

  • Place lids and bands on jars

  • Put the jars in canner with water covering the tops of the jars

  • Start this process with the temperature of the water in the jars the same as the water in the canner pot.

  • Boil jars for 3 hours

  • Allow jars to cool and store.

This is the first time ever that Shaun or myself has grown potatoes. The experience has been pretty neat. We dealt with potato bugs eating flowers and leaves the entire time despite putting pesticides on them quite a bit. We have eaten fried potatoes the past two nights with supper and they have been wonderful! You just can't beat that homegrown taste!

As for the canned potatoes, I plan on using them this winter in roasts and homemade vegetable soup and all sorts of other dishes! It seemed like it took forever washing these little guys and my fingers were just puckered! I wound up storing 20 quart jars. I had two break because of water temperature differences. One of them I was able to put in another jar quickly so I actually only lost one jar. I logged it all in my canning journal.

Friday, July 24, 2009

You Can Do Magic!

Magic Cookie Bars that is! This is a recipe that I altered last night simply because I didn't have pecans. But the taste is so different just because of one ingredient and let me tell you... I had no complaints! I believe that when you adjust a recipe and sort of "make it your own" then you should be entitled to put your name on it! So let's call these "Laurie's Magic Cookie Bars"!

These are the type of little things that can do wonders when served to the right individuals. When you bring these out smiles come out of nowhere! Heck you might even get the trash taken out for you! Here they are:

Laurie's Magic Cookie Bars
  1. 1 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (which I keep on hand, they come in a box)
  2. 1 stick of butter
  3. 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  4. 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
  5. 1 cup coconut (even if you don't like it)
  6. 1 cup chopped roasted, salted macadamia nuts (or pecans.. same magic happens)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, 325 if using a glass dish. Use a 9x13 casserole melt butter in oven. I always put the dish in while the oven is preheating then when my indicator sounds that the oven is preheated my butter is melted. Sprinkle graham cracker crumbs over melted butter. Pour sweetened condensed milk over crust then sprinkle chocolate chips, coconut and nuts. The macadamia nuts add a saltier taste so a tad more chocolate can be used to counter-act the salt taste. Bake 25-30 minutes and let cool completely before cutting. You get a nicer cut this way. Delish!
Now, a warning, if your car suddenly gets washed or laundry is magically picked up off the floor without your instruction... you'll know why. Don't say I didn't warn you. Hmmm Maybe they're called magic because they disappear so quickly... nah. Have a wonderful day!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Yay Yay Photo of the Day!

There's a website about Nashville called that two gals produce. I always get so excited when they choose my pics from flickr to use and today I got photo of the day with this one. You can see their website at

I name the Tiny Carnival because it looks like strings of lights to me. I took it this morning of my dill plant and noticed the fog had left tiny water drops all over it. :) Sorry to brag ... it just tickles me to death!

Well Pickle Me Spears!

Tuesday night while canning the fifth batch Shaun's favorite pickles he said to me "you don't have to just make the pickles that I like... why don't you make yourself some dill ones like you like". Besides from being sweet, I've been pondering on this question ever since. I made dill pickles last year from a packaged mix and wasn't happy with the results. For one I used a mix that could not be canned. Of course I used jars but I want a long storage time too and the taste just wasn't what I wanted either. So I decided to find a good recipe for Kosher Dill Pickles to make for myself cause if I'm gonna make em they're gonna be good!

I've decided to go ahead and used the Lime canning method to crisp up my pickles... I am going to make spears. If I were going to use smaller pickles I probably wouldn't do this. There's just something I like in this method because it also involves patience. When I use pickling lime it revolves around my daily routine of a working schedule. First I'll wash and cut my cucumbers in the evening. Then place them in my big pot to soak in 1 cup of lime to 2 gallons of water. This process almost pickles me... it makes my skin crack on my fingers. It goes away. I let this sit overnight then the next morning I rinse them 3 times and put them back in the pot alternating layers with ice. I cover the batch with water and place is in the fridge until I get home from work. This is where the fun begins. From this point I will drain the spears for my dills. (P.S. Using lime and cold bath soak will insure me that my spears will stay crispy like I like. I may loose a few seeds but that's OK.) Then I will pack them nicely into my quart jars inserting 1 teaspoon chopped garlic and dill heads into each jar. Not sure how many dill heads just yet since I'll be using what I've grown this year, I'll have to see how much I have.

On the stove in another pot I will bring 4 cups white vinegar, 12 cups water and 2/3 cup pickling salt to a rapid boil. This mixture will be poured into each jar covering the spears and leaving 1/4" head space. Then I'll put my hot lids on and process them in hot water for 15 minutes. The recipes I have looked at say to leave them alone for 5 to 8 weeks so it looks like dill pickles take even more patience. That seems to be a good ingredient to most recipes. :)

I've never felt like I was one to study or research but when I was looking up recipes for this I found myself deep in research looking through herb books and old canning books that I have. I guess it's all in what interests you. This is the research and studying that I've always thrown myself into and enjoyed... for the love of cooking!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A Good Place To Take Note

Or maybe a good time to start taking note. Last year Shaun and I had our first garden together and I wound up with the desire to learn how to home can our produce. I canned tomatoes, salsa and lime pickles that Shaun loves. I never expected that he would have opened our last jar of pickles this year in May! As many as I felt I made and canned last year it looked like to me they would have lasted us the rest of our lives! Which led me to wonder just how many jars I made. I really have no clue.

This year I have started a home canning journal to keep log of what I have canned and how many jars I have made. So next year I will know long they have lasted us and know how many cucumber plants to grow next year. This year from the 3 plants that we have I am on my sixth batch and each batch uses 7 pounds of cucumbers. That doesn't include the cukes that we have given away to friends or eaten.

In conclusion, journals are great for keeping record of more than just daily stuff. Love it!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

That Beautiful Baked Brie

Roll that beautiful baked brie footage......

Wow! I just LOVE IT!!!!!!! I was in Florida vacationing a few years back. While having breakfast one morning I ordered Baked Brie from the menu. This is when my whole world changed. *sigh* I fell in love. It was wonderful! When I got back home I couldn't stop thinking about what I had eaten. So in time I came up with my own recipe which was really easy because the ingredients are very plain yet delightfully wonderful! I thought I would share...
Laurie's Baked Brie
  • 1 small round of Brie cheese (this recipe is for no more than 2 people)
  • 1 Granny Smith apple
  • a handful of raisins
  • a handful of chopped pecans
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom (optional if you don't have it but strongly advised)
  • Pepperridge Farms Harvest Wheat crackers (you can try something else but why?)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place brie round in casserole dish or pie pan. Combine apple, raisins, pecans, butter, brown sugar and cardamom in a small saucepan. Heat just until butter and sugar are melted and all is stirred to coat. Pour over brie. Bake for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees. When it's ready you can poke it with a knife and the brie is very soft. Let cool just as long as you can wait. I generally end up burning my tongue because I can't wait til it's cooled off. Insert knife into brie. Brie should come oozing out like baked brie should. Put some brie and toppings on a wheat cracker and you'll be in love too. Good grief that's good!
I like to make this for myself on special occasions. New Years brunch is a great time or just when I've got a morning alone. It's a special treat. I serve it on special saucers and use the cutest little cheese knives I've got. Love it!!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Why didn't I thunk of that?

Well Happy Monday everybody! Last winter (should have done it then) I needed some magazine holders to hold the subscribed to magazine that I can't seem to throw away. "Thinking creatively" I went to the internet to find a pattern to make my own. I found several do-it-yourself versions and saved a few boxes and have finally done this space saver craft project. I thought I would share with my friends and maybe inspire someone else to organize using what you have. Of course you can go to Walmart and buy them but I like to save whenever I can and with a little time I have one more thing personalized in my home.
So here what you need:
A box... needs to be semi-rectangle and big enough to stand up magazines in... a suggestion is to use a priority mail box that you have received mail in.. they give them away for free but that's just wrong to use a free box!?!? I also used a vinegar box thet 2 gallons came in.
Next you need a marker, knife, scraps of paper, fabric, pictures, phone book pages.. whatever you have, a larger piece of felt or fabric for the bottom, a paint brush, and modpodge or Elmer's glue and a little water and 1 crafting friend cause it's more fun that way :)

Follow the pictures for your instructions. You can measure out the angles or just freehandedly draw your cutting lines on the box. Using a knife slice the box following your marks all the way around. Mail boxes will make 2 magazine boxes. Use scraps and fabric or whatever you have to cover the outside of the box using Modpodge or watered down glue. I like to glue a larger piece of felt or fabric on the bottom just so they'll scoot better on shelving.

Have fun!! We sure did and we have nice magazine storage boxes to show for it!

P.S. These girls are holding crafty magazine boxes that they seem very proud of!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

What to do with all that Zucc!

It seems that each year we have an over abundance of "something" in our garden. Last year we had tons of squash and tons of cucumber. This year it's zucchini! I have put several different recipes that include zucchini on our table so far and they have all been wonderful. I have made my squash and zucchini casserole, zucchini sliced into spears and cooked on the grill, zucchini bread.. etc! After opening the fridge to see four grocery bags full of this vegetable I decided I needed to do something. I decided to freeze the "over abundance" and thought I would share how to blanch vegetables to prepare them for freezing. I was always a tad fearful of doing this thinking it would take a long time or just thinking I didn't need to do it. But in fact just cutting up and freezing can prove the vegetables to be not-so-good for you when you do decide to use them out of the freezer. Certain enzymes and bacteria can will still grow even in the deep freeze. As hard as Shaun and I have worked in our garden to help it produce the best and tastiest vegetables we can I would hate to open up a bag of zucchini in January with my mouth watering for my Mexican Soup that includes it to find my green goodness not-so-good.

So here's how you blanch:

Get out your big soup pot and fill it half way with water. Bring it to a boil. If you will put the lid on while the water is heating it will come to a boil a lot faster. In the meantime, wash and cut up your zucchini, squash, green beans, or whatever you are putting up. Once the water is boiling drop some of the slices or dices into the water. Keep in mind while you are cutting what recipes you may be using them for. For instance I use diced zucchini in my soup so I diced some. Once the veggies are in set the timer for 3 minutes. When they are done, remove them from the water with a strainer or slotted spoon. Allow them to cool before packaging them into freezer bags. I use one of my big enamel bowls to dump them in while they cool. Be sure and use a sharpie to label and date your bags. You can even write their intended use on the outside so this winter you can remember what you were thinking when you put them away.

Enjoy what God has given you, today and tomorrow :)

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Bird Watching 1

Happy Thursday! I titled this "Bird Watching 1" because I am certain that I will have more bird watching stories as it is one of my favorite activities to do.

I set my hummingbird feeder out sometime in April. At first I only had a few, it seems that the first ones to find it were males. At this time the females may have been nesting already. I have gradually gained more and more customers to my feeder as the summer progresses. During the past two weeks the amount of birds to this one feeder I have has tripled! They are always hovering about, chasing and chirping. Most of these are probably the young ones. The one in this picture that I took last night is a juvenile male ruby-throated hummingbird. You can tell by the markings on his little neck. I have read that they don't get their red neck feathers until the following winter of their first year. I have thought that I had an over abundance of females but in fact the juvenile males look like females at first.

Shaun and I were watching out the kitchen window and we saw as many as five or six at a time playing and waiting their turn. Over the last week I have had to fill the feeder everyday which brings me to share my feeder mixture. I boil 1 cup of water in the microwave on about 2 minutes or at least until it starts to bubble then add 1/4 cup sugar and stir it up good. Let it come to room temperature before putting it outside to prevent teeny little tongue burns. I read just this season in a homemade bird food cookbook that once you have established customers at your feeder you should gradually back off on the sugar content in your mixture. Right now I am mixing 1 1/2 cups water to 1/4 cup sugar and they are still drinking it like it's the last batch. Reducing the sugar content will entise them to still seek out their natural source of nectar and do the jobs that they are here to do. Plus too much homemade nectar will harm their little bitty livers and can eventually lead to a very unhealthy hummingbird.

Also you should keep your feeder clean and free of mold which can form inside the feeder and is not healthy either. My cookbook said the best thing to use outside of just water is a water vinegar mix which I already use to clean windows and glass because it leaves them streak free. I clean my feeder about every three fill ups.

Taking pictures last night at our feeder was fun because the younger birds don't seem to be too scared of me yet. They would just hover close to me checking me out. I even felt the wind once from wings flapping close to my face. I was just as still as a statue and got a few good pics as my reward. I will enjoy these precious tiny gifts from God as long as they are here... and then again next year! Have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Jazzy Notebook Covers

My jazzy little notebook covers were a project I did this past spring. I made one for each of my nieces and gave them to them for helping in my wedding this past June. They liked them so much that they went home and made more! They are super easy to do if you have the right stuff... and a sewing machine.

Here's what you need:

3 pieces of fabric - preferably not a real flexible fabric
1 piece of ribbon
appliques - buttons, patches, iron-ons... whatever you want for the front
sewing machine

First step: cut your 3 pieces of fabric... the big piece 17 x 11 1/4 and 2 smaller pieces 5 x 11 1/4

Next decide what you want on the front of your notebook cover and sew or iron it on. Be sure that your placement of these items will be positioned on the front... unless you want them elsewhere.

Take the two 5 inch flaps, fold over and sew down one edge of each flap.

Place two flaps face down onto bigger piece which will be face up. Pin down the edges of each flap to be sewn together. Turn over and iron down about 1/8 to 1/4 inch on top and bottom. Pin ribbon to top to be sewn in.

On your machine sew around the edges about 1/8 of an inch all the way around. Cut a slit just to the seam line in corners. I like to do this on anything I make that has corners to make them pop out pointed like they should. Turn cover inside out and go around with an iron. Insert spiral notebook and waalaa... you've made a special notebook cover for whatever project you have or for each subject at school.

This one is for me. I am going to keep up with all the things that I can for the pantry this year. It will be handy to pull out in years to come to see how long each canned item in our pantry lasts us and how much I need to make from year to year.

P.S. Sorry the pictures are all over the place! I'm new!! It'll get better.... maybe. Enjoy the project!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Easy Peasy Pin Cushion

While playing in the craft room last night I put together a small project that I had seen on another website. I thought I would show you what I did.

I made a pincushion from a squatty little mason jar that I used for canning pear preserves last fall. The ingredients needed are simple... a jar with a lid that has the lid and band, fabric, stuffing and a glue gun... with glue :)

First trace on the fabric around the lid with a marker or pencil... something that won't show through the fabric. Next cut the fabric about one inch bigger all the way around the traced circle. Place your fabric circle inside the band, place the stuffing (about a handful) on top of that, then your lid and press down into place. Using your hot glue gun, glue fabric down to the inside of your lid. Once the glue has set, pop it back out. Quickly glue around the inside of your band, place your stuffed lid back inside and screw down on top of your jar tightly. This should stick. I had to do mine twice because I didn't use enough glue the first time.

I'm sure there are much neater ways to do this but it looks precious and it fits the jar and the purpose! I'm storing extra buttons in mine. Pretty little things!

By the way ... my sister Mary Evelyn and I stumbled upon a deal on about a zillion buttons and Trash to Treasures. If anyone has ideas for button crafts we can try please let me know. We have come up with a few so far that I will be sure to post soon.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Zucchini Casserole

Good morning all. I am starting my blog with a good recipe that I made with fresh zucchini and squash from our garden. I served it in a lovely Pyrex that I bought at Trash to Treasures this year in Crossplains, TN.
Here's what I used:
1 large zucchini
4 small squash (cause Shaun says they are better small)
1 small onion
squirt butter
salt & pepper
shredded cheddar
chopped pecans
Here what to do:
Spray inside of baking dish with cooking spray. Layer zucchini, squash and onion spraying lightly with butter and sprinkling salt and pepper between layers. Top with a handful or so of cheese and toss chopped pecans on top. Bake at 350 for 35 minutes. Yumm!!!!
We also had chicken breast soaked in italian dressing and grilled. I topped the chicken with tomato bruschetta that I bought at Sam's last week that is one of my new favorites. I cannot stop eating this stuff. I am a die hard tomato lover and want a recipe to can tomato bruschetta! Please advise is you have one. Back to supper.. we also had dirty rice which was almost too spicy for this meal.