Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Give Away at $5 Dinners.com

Hey y'all there's a great give-away going on over at $5 Dinners.com. Click on over there to win a free copy of Erin Chase's new "The $5 Dinner Mom Cookbook". Erin is giving away 10 copies of her new book every day for the next 2 weeks. Yeah, you heard me right!
Good luck!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas At My House This Year

OK, y'all - I'm hooking up with 50 billion other people over at The Nester's today for The Christmas Tour of Homes 2009.

I, like so many of you, did not put out every piece of Christmas paraphernalia that I own. It is what it is - and my house is pretty tiny. I would feel severely claustrophobic if I put it all out right now. I think I'm bordering on clutter as it is. But, I shall share anyhow. *Disclaimer - please ignore dust, glitter, crumbs and dog hair should you see any of the above. :0) Are you ready? OK! Let's go!

This is a shot of my living room - not that you couldn't figure that on your own or anything...I'm just sayin'. Obviously, we have a red, gold, and silver thing going on here. Do you think I might want to think about a larger tree skirt? You can hardly see it under there with that one lone present. Which, incidentally, I can't put out any of my kiddos presents at all. Period. He just can't take the temptation. And I just can't take all the begging and pleading that comes with it! He used to end up opening most of his presents before Christmas even rolled around back in the days when we used to put them all under the tree. Evidently, Chris and I have the backbone of limp spaghetti where saying no to gift opening is concerned. So, we wised up. We just don't put them out. Problem solved. OK, so we have a tree and a garland on top of the armoire. The garland is much prettier in person 'cause it's stuffed full of pretties. But, I didn't get a close up of that, so you'll just have to believe me.

Alrighty, I'm going to have to do this picture out of sequence because, well...I'm me. And if you ever read this blog, you'll just understand. Mkay? Are we clear as mud? Moving on then...This is looking from my dining room into the kitchen. I have a few doo dads on the bar(ish) part and then above the kitchen sink I hung a simple garland. I'm using it this year to hang my Christmas cards from with teeny tiny clothes pins. I thought about spray painting the pins red, but I'm too lazy busy for that. There are also some snowflakes hanging from the can lights above the bar.

Back to the living room...On each of my end tables I have these matching urns that I keep out year round and fill them differently depending on the season. Right now they're full of pine cones - and I tied a red and gold ribbon on for good measure. Actually, the red ribbon is stamped with gold pine cones - but you can't see that either. I'm not a very good tour guide, am I? I also hung that little angel on this lamp. She was given to Uncle Gene at the hospital to hang above his bed before he died. I love angels at Christmas time.

This is a view of my dining area, and the back of my sofa - because I live in a matchbox and all. I do love my little matchbox, though. Anyhoo...I draped a garland over my chandy and tied some red bows on each arm. I also draped some silver cording on it and tucked 2 cardinals in there. I finally get to use my Christmas dishes that I got at Goodwill back in the Spring. Since I didn't have an entire set - I mixed and matched. The 2 ends of the table are backwards from the 4 sides.

My succulents are also a year round fixture. They sit in a wicker basket tray that is lined with a piece of burlap. I added pine cones and these round, spiky things that fell off of the neighbor's tree for Autumn. Since it's now Christmas time I threw in a beaded garland, some miniature ornaments and a mini tree topper that I'm not using this year. Easy peasy.

The bar again...a silver Goodwill tray holding 3 Goodwill candlesticks that I spray painted. More pine cones and round spiky tree thingies, and a few ornaments.

Mini ornaments added to my Rosemary plant.

A closer view of the snowflakes. These are really pretty if you have different types of snowflakes. Mine are all the same, but whenever I see some different ones I plan on grabbing them.

I'm not going to show you pictures of the outside lights simply because it's daytime. I don't think they would show up too well. :0)

This concludes my Christmas tour. If you need some decorating inspiration this year - or if you're just nosey, head on over to Nesting Place .

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Plant Cuttings And Chalkboard Pots

It's been a while since I've posted. Seems like I'm staying busy, busy, busy lately. So, I'll give a quick update before I get to the main part of my post. Thanksgiving was wonderful. We spent the first part of the day with family. Then, in the evening we had our best friends over for a great night of eating (again!), playing Wii and just hanging out together.

We unfortunately had a death in the family - my husband's uncle. The service was this past Sunday. I wonder why it is that sometimes it takes something as tragic as a death in the family for all of us to get together? Even still, it was nice to get to see family we haven't seen in a while - and for me to get to meet some that I had never met before. Did I mention we've been married 14 and a half years? LOL!

We've also been busy getting the house decorated for Christmas. I love this time of year! It really makes me want to hunker down and nest. We are supposed to be getting our first snow of the season this week! I'm dreaming of a white Christmas... I will post pictures of that soon.

OK. Now to my main post. I like to try to be frugal whenever possible and I also like the satisfaction of doing things myself. At the end of summer I just hated to see my beautiful geraniums die out, never to be seen again. So, I did some research. Evidently, if you took a cutting off of your geranium plant and put it in a pot of water it would send out new roots. You can then pot them and overwinter your new plants inside. Then, when Spring time rolls around, you can put your new plants in the ground and it didn't cost you a penny. The same thing is supposed to be true for many plants. I have successfully tried this in the past with rosemary and pothos or philodendron.

So, I did what I just explained to you with some geranium clippings and lemon balm (which smells divine BTW). I was happy to see it was a very successful experiment, as you will see here in a minute. But, I wanted a way to keep track of which clippings were which and didn't want to use the typical marker stake. I decided to paint out my el cheapo terra cotta pots with chalkboard paint.

You'll need your own el cheapo terra cotta pots, rubber gloves, a foam brush and a can of chalkboard paint for this project. Krylon makes it in black and green. I just happened to have a can of black on hand from a few other projects.

Following the directions for dry time, give your pots and saucers 2 coats of chalkboard paint. I didn't paint the entire inside because it won't be seen once my plants are in there. Now, you can either paint the entire pot, like I did - or you can just paint a square to write on. I have done it both ways. Just make sure that after your final coat of paint has dried and cured, that you 'break' the surface by rubbing the side of your chalk all over it before writing on it.
Check out the roots on that lemon balm!
Here I am taking one of the rooted geranium plants and potting it.
Viola! New, free plants that can go into the ground in the Spring and pots that keep track of what's in them. Or, you can shake it up and write a seasonal or inspirational message on them. It's up to you.

Now, I just need to figure out where to keep these bad daddies all winter long!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Thankful Heart

Take nothing for granted,
for whenever you do
The joy of enjoying
is lessened for you-
For we rob our own lives
much more than we know
When we fail to respond
or in any way show
Our thanks for the blessings
that daily are ours...
The warmth of the sun,
the fragrance of flowers,
The beauty of twilight,
the freshness of dawn,
The coolness of dew
on a green velvet lawn,
The kind little deeds
so thoughtfully done,
The favors of friends
and the love that someone
Unselfishly gives us
in a myriad of ways,
Expecting no payment
and no words of praise-
Oh, great is our loss
when we no longer find
A thankful response
to things of this kind,
For the joy of enjoying
and the fullness of living
Are found in the heart
that is filled with thanksgiving.

~Helen Steiner Rice

Happy Thanksgiving,

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Hey, Y'all - Listen To This!

To make a long story short...I stumbled upon this link to a blog post with an Australian school's answering machine message. It's hilarious and short (1:15), so you really need to check it out.



Tuesday, November 10, 2009

So Good To Me

Y'all my man is sooo good to me! He surprised me by scheduling an hour long massage for me last night. Oh. My. I can't even begin to tell you how good that felt! You probably have an idea if you've ever had one. And, if you've never gotten a massage...you need to put it on your Christmas wish list. Seriously.

During the day yesterday, I had washed our sheets then just threw them on the bed while the coverlet was in the dryer. We have a full motion, king size waterbed, so I usually wait for the Mr. to get home before I make the bed. It's so much easier with two. Well, after this wonderfully surprising massage last night - I get home to find not only did he have my supper waiting on me, but he had made the bed up by himself AND did more laundry and folded it! Quite frankly, I was feeling so pampered that it left me speechless. God, I love that man!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

My New Rug!

I haven't posted about my house in a long time because...well, it's been a slooooowwwww process. I have lots of 'almost there' rooms and projects and very few that are 'completely finished'. I think that's an on-going story with home ownership, though.

But...I was excited to get something for my kitchen this week that I have been wanting for a really long time. You see, someone before us decided that the ultimate bomb de la bomb for kitchen flooring would be white tile. With white grout. Did I mention that it's stacked on top of 38 other layers of flooring? I'm not slamming that previous home owner's taste in flooring, bless their heart (I once heard a comedian named Steve Guyer say that 'bless your heart' was a nice way of saying 'you're an idiot', FYI.). And I'm not slamming your taste in flooring if you happen to have picked out white tile and white grout, bless your heart. What I am saying is that white tile and white grout would be about the last flooring that I would pick out - except for maybe a dirt floor. Did I mention that I have a black dog. You just can't hide black hair on white tile, bless my heart.

So...I needed a large rug for my kitchen. But not just any rug. It had to be durable because - HELLO-O, I cook in there! It also had to be easy to clean because - HELLO-O, I cook in there! That ruled out jute and wool and just about every other material except polypropylene. Have you priced large rugs lately? They are not. cheap.

And then...I received it in the mail. Those glorious pieces of colorful paper all joined together that some refer to as the Ballard Designs catalogue. It was in the midst of those pages of inspiration that I found my huckleberry. A black polypropylene indoor/outdoor rug with tan colored medallions. Perfecto! And, it was only $89.00. Cha-ching! Combine that with my coupon and I only paid $90 and change after shipping! We thought we were going to be looking at $350 - $400. Can I hear a hallelujah somebody?

But, it was out of stock. So, I was faced with a dilemma. Should I pick an alternate rug or wait 2 months for the one I originally wanted? Let me tell ya, I am so glad that I waited. Do you want to see it? OK, OK already!

Me thinks it makes a big improvement. I would have shown you a before picture of the floor, but I couldn't find one. I can assure you, though, it was U-G-L-Y YOU AIN'T GOT NO ALIBI YOU UGLY, HEY, HEY, YOU UGLY. Oh, wait. That was a song. It's still true for my floor, though. But it's not so ugly anymore now that it's not all naked and ashamed and stuff like that.

So, my kitchen is coming along slowly but surely. Once I get those cabinets painted she'll be done. Every little thing makes a big impact, though. Don't you think?

This concludes today's broadcast of Ramblings of a Happy Homemaker. Thanks for listening, bless your heart.


Friday, November 6, 2009

Lisa Leonard Give Away At Centsational Girl!

OK, y'all. Centsational Girl is having an awesome give away featuring Lisa Leonard Designs. If you're not familiar with Lisa Leonard, she makes gorgeous customized sterling silver jewelry that you'll be sure to drool over. These are a few of my favorites.

Forever Necklace

Open Circle Necklace

Family Crest Necklace

Family Tree Necklace

Lisa not only offers gorgeous personalized necklaces, but she has bracelets, earrings, key chains, baby spoons and small selection of things just for men, too.

Head on over to Centsational Girl and give Kate a visit to enter for a chance to win a $100 gift certificate for Lisa Leonard Designs.

Good luck!


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Things To Be Thankful For

The good, green earth beneath our feet,

The air we breathe, the food we eat,

Some work to do, a goal to win,

A hidden longing deep within

That spurs us on to bigger things

And helps us meet what each day brings,

All these things and many more

Are things we should be thankful for...

And most of all our thankful prayers

Should rise to God because He cares!

~Helen Steiner Rice

Here's hoping you have a wonderful day filled with a thankful heart!


Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Last of the Civil War Days

I will admit it. I have been a bad blogger lately. I said that I would have the rest of these pictures up two days ago. I lied. Not on purpose. But, I lied none-the-less. Sorry. Now, get over it. :0)

On to the Civil War Days...

You saw a lot of the camps, cannons, chuck wagons, buildings and things like that. You also met the President. Now, I'll introduce you to more of the common folk.

I think this was a general and his wife. Sorry about the crappy pictures, but my editing software isn't working at the moment. It has to be that - for it surely couldn't be my photography abilities!

I don't exactly know who these 2 fellows were supposed to be, but they were kind enough to let me snap a photo. It amazes me how people dressed up so much more in their day to day life back then than we do now. And they didn't even have sidewalks, for the most part.

I told you how it had rained all week prior to this event and the ground was a muddy mess - even with straw on the ground. I had to throw all of our shoes in the washer when we got home. Yet, they seemed to be dressed to the nines every day. Can you imagine trying to get the mud out of the hem of every dress you owned? Heck, I can't even imagine wearing a dress like that every day. It's a good day when I just put on something other than sweats! Anyway...

There were many shops and craftsmen set up doing their thing, too. This was a blacksmith's shop. I don't know where the blacksmith was, but it was supper time.

We didn't see all of the shops because we didn't want to walk through the knee-deep mud. I'm just barely exaggerating here. But there was a surgeon, a rope maker and a man giving mule rides, among many other things.

This nice woman was weaving rugs on her loom. She was kind enough to show us how it worked. It was really fascinating. You could purchase the rugs as well.

Here, her husband sits cutting pants into strips of cloth with that little device secured to the end of the table. They will use that basket full of cloth strips to make rag rugs.

There was a large tent set up in one area where different presentations were also made during the course of the weekend. We caught the tail end of the one given by a couple of the female slaves of the time. It was really heart-wrenching. They actually had to work in chains. They shared some of the spiritual songs that they would sing to encourage themselves. Some songs were coded messages they sang to one another.

We also caught a bit of a music trio in the big tent. They played the music of the time. One man played the fiddle. One played the guitar. And the last played the bass. Not the bass guitar, but the huge bass you see in orchestra. They were very good.

Well, that about wraps up our visit to the Civil War Days. I'm gonna go make lunch now. Not that you care. I'm just sayin'! :0)


Monday, October 12, 2009

Civil War Days

Saturday was a beautiful, sunny, crisp Autumn day here in Indiana. It was perfect for visiting Civil War Days. The only bad part was the rain that had fallen all week long prior to Saturday. It left the ground a muddy mess in spite of the straw that was put down to help. I looked at it as an opportunity to really experience the old days. :0)

Blackford County Civil War Days is one of the largest re-enactments in the nation. People come from all over to participate in this 3 day weekend. Since we are learning American History this year in school - it was a great opportunity to see history come to life. Isaac was so excited. He kept seeing things that we have read about this year. I think it really helped solidify the fact that people actually lived so much differently than we do today and that the things we read about are not just stories. They are relevant. It is our history.

Let's take a tour, shall we?

This is a close up of one of the cannons used for the re-enacted battle. The smoke from these bad boys smells just like rotten eggs. You gotta love ya some sulfur.

This is a partial shot of one of the lines of cannons. The field is huge that they battle on. We weren't there for one of the actual battles - but, I can only imagine that it would have been nothing less than fascinating.

The people that take part in these travel all over to participate. This is a chuck wagon camp. The settlers were on the back side by the fire.

Another chuck wagon. Those oxen actually pull this thing. I couldn't get over how huge those beasts actually were in person - much larger than our run-of-the-mill cow. It's no wonder why they were so popular for hauling stuff.

This is a few of the permanent structures on the site. The mayor's office is there. That's where the soldiers collect their pay. There is also a jail and a saloon where you can stop in for a pickle and some ice cold beer of the root variety.

Check out this camp. The part you're looking at is where most of the day is spent. The back side is the sleeping tent. Some people would actually bring 4 poster beds to place in their tents for sleeping. And, yes, they actually do sleep here. All weekend. And, let me just tell ya - this time of year it's getting cold at night. We're talking upper 30's cold. I don't know how they do it.

Can you see the smoke coming off the fire pit. That's probably coffee brewing. But, these people actually cook on these pits. It amazed me. And made me salivate. We were there around supper time and boy did it smell good!

The guys who slept here every night had to be real men!

A couple of Confederates at their camp site.

Another view of one of the Confederate camp sites.

I thought this view was strangely befitting. The back edge of the camp butts up against a cemetery.

Look at how the trees are starting turn against that gorgeous blue sky. I love this time of year!

Tomorrow I'll give you a glimpse of some of the shops and people.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

I Met A Former President Yesterday

Actually, he was an impersonator. Or, at least I hope he was. 'Cause if that really was Abe Lincoln I had a chat with - I'm gonna be really creeped out!

Our family went to the Civil War Days in Hartford City, IN yesterday. It was truly fascinating. I took lots of pictures and will share more this week. But, for now, enjoy the rest of this beautiful weekend! Carry on...


Friday, October 9, 2009

My Exciting Holiday Memories - The Conclusion

Christmas was fast approaching and we were counting days. The night of December 23rd we headed for bed knowing full well when we woke up it would be Christmas Eve! That meant a big family celebration that night. Little did we know that we would be having a little more excitement than we had hoped for.

We lived in a 2-story house with all the bedrooms upstairs. Sometime in the wee, early hours of the morning, Dad had gotten up and went downstairs to get a drink or something. He was on the couch and thought he heard the screen door open. Our storm door had a big window in it with a curtain that we would shut at night. Dad decided to go take a peek out the door window. As he did, he noticed that the door handle began to turn. When he peeked out - he saw him. There was a masked man trying to get into our house! So, Dad did what any reasonable, rational thinking man would do - he flung the door open and surprised the guy!

The would-be burglar turned and ran. My dad took off after him. I don't know what he was planning on doing with him when he caught him, but I don't think he was thinking that far ahead. He running on pure instinct and adrenaline. The burglar hopped our fence into the back yard, dropping a bag full of goodies he had already lifted from other people's homes. He stopped to gather them up - well, until he saw my dad hopping the fence after him, that is. So, he got up and hopped the fence into the neighbor's yard. Dad hopped the fence into the neighbor's yard right behind him. Then it struck. Reason. It finally dawned on my dad that; a) he was in his pajamas, b) he was not armed, c) the thief he was chasing could possibly have a knife or something that he could turn on my dad with at any moment.

Some of the details are slightly sketchy since I was just a kid and that was many moons ago and all. But, Dad did head back to the house and called the police. I don't know if he woke my mom up or if she woke up from all of the commotion. I'm sure there was some yelling and &*@#^% going on. At some point I woke up and came downstairs to find the law in our living room. Yet, our dog was no where to be found. Can I take a bunny trail for a moment? Thank you. They say that having a dog, even a small dog, is a great deterrent against burglaries. In theory, even a small dog will bark and make noise - so a thief will pick a house without a dog so as to not attract attention during a break-in. Our Lhasa Apso was found cowering underneath my parents bed, shaking like a leaf, in full refusal to leave her perceived place of safety. I think it took 2 hours to get her out from underneath that bed. Now I have a doberman. :0) OK. Back to the story. My little sister slept through the whole thing.

The police officer (Or was that officers? I don't remember.) took the report and there were cops looking for the man, but nothing more than that could be done at that hour since it was still dark. So, they left - promising to come back and take a look around in the daylight. When they did return, they found several items that the attempted burglar had dropped and not retrieved since he was being hotly pursued by his victim. They were all items intended to be given as Christmas presents. The police also discovered another strange finding. This one was right on our porch in front of the door. It was a big puddle of pee. When my dad flung the door open on the masked bandit - he peed all over himself! I still think that's kind of funny!

They never did find the guy. My dad swears to this day that it was one of our strange neighbors that lived a few doors down. We'll never know for sure. But one thing that is for sure - that was a Christmas we'll never forget!

My mom had a dream that someone broke into our house on Christmas Eve and stole all of the presents from under our tree. Then, on the morning of Christmas Eve, someone tried to do just that. But, thank God for his providence. The attack came. The attack failed. And we all lived another day to tell the story - and not one of us had to have therapy through it all! Can I hear a hallelujah?

Here's hoping your upcoming holiday season is much less eventful than that one was.


Thursday, October 8, 2009

My Exciting Holiday Memories

This morning I was reminded of a an 'incident' that occurred when I was a kid living on Fourth Street. Oh, how I loved that rickety, old house. I was built in the late 1800's, if I remember correctly. We had to put shims underneath all of the dressers to keep everything from sliding off the top. But, when you're a kid - you don't care about that kind of stuff. What you really care about is the old ball and claw foot tub that lets you take the deepest, longest baths that a girl could ever care to take. That, and the formal dining room with a big, bay window. The window where we always put our Christmas tree each year. And the old iron grate heat registers that we would all fight over every winter. It was a race to see who was going to be able to stand on it first when the heat kicked on. The same grate that my dad dropped my sister on her head on when she was an infant. Now we know what's wrong with her! Oh, wait...that could possibly be me that everyone wonders what's wrong with. Naaah! Couldn't be me. Back to the house. It also had what we called an 'old Michigan basement'. Michigan basements were dark, dank, stone basements with lots of little rooms and compartments. Ours had cubbies in some of the walls. Not the kind that are put there intentionally, mind you - the kind that happen over time because they're so old that they start to crumble. We used to imagine that our basement was part of the underground railroad that used to come through town and that southern slaves had sought refuge from their bonds - possibly right there.

Oh, how I loved that huge, old house. Except, now when we make a trip home and drive by it (we moved from there when I was 12), it's not as huge as I remember it being. Actually, it's not that huge at all. Isn't it that way with a lot of things we remember from childhood? We remember things being much grander than they actually were simply because we were so small.

My husband had the same experience when we visited Stone Mountain Georgia a few years back. He had lived there when he was a kid and had told me about the carving that took up the whole side of the mountain. Imagine his disappointment (and mine) when this is what we saw. You'll have to look really closely at the left side of the picture right above the trees and buildings.

But, you'll have to excuse me because, I digress. We aren't talking about cool houses or mountain carvings today. We are supposed to be talking about something that happened while I was living in that cool, old house. So, let's proceed. Shall we?

It was shortly before Christmas and my mom had had a very disturbing dream. So disturbing, in fact, that she told the family about it. Her dream was that a burglar had broken into our house on Christmas Eve and had stolen all of the presents from underneath our Christmas tree. You know, the one in the big, bay window. It really rattled her. I think she took some railing over the fact that it rattled her like it did.

Christmas was fast approaching and we were counting days. The night of December 23rd we headed for bed knowing full well when we woke up it would be Christmas Eve! That meant a big family celebration that night. Little did we know that we would be having a little more excitement than we had hoped for.

To be continued...

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Sweater Bag

Saturday, me and my best gal pal, Carrie, headed out for a girl's day of shopping. We are two peas in a pod and each of us loves Goodwill just as much as the other. So, that's where we went. I was able to find a bunch of items on my wish list that day. One of the things I spotted was a really cute wool sweater from Gap. I find wool a little on the itchy side for wearing, but, no matter 'cause that's not what I was wanting it for. I wanted to make mine into a bag.

You may have seen these cute little bags flying around bloggy land. I pulled the article out of an issue Country Living quite a while back. Now I finally had a wool sweater to make one with. I, however, did not take a before (or during) picture. Bad blogger! Bad, bad blogger! *Hanging my head in shame. I will show a picture of the finished bag before trying to explain to you the extremely quick and easy process it takes to make one. Ready?
Very cute, if I do say so myself.

First you have to start with a wool sweater. Why wool - you ask? Because, if you don't use wool your sweater will unravel and make you very angry and you may say some ugly things that you wish you didn't say in the presence of you angelic, sweet children who will, in turn, correct you with shock and awe and then proceed to tell your husband, or your very own parents on you. I would like to spare you that grief. So, please, just use one of your old wool sweaters or buy one at Goodwill for 4 bucks like I did. If you're really lucky you'll find one that's 1/2 off that day. OK, now that we have that settled...

The first thing you must do is wash your sweater in hot (I used warm) water and then put it in the dryer. This will felt the wool and make it look like something that might fit your 7 year old niece.

The next thing I did was lay my sweater out flat on a cutting mat and cut the sleeves off using a rotary cutter. If you don't have a rotary cutter, feel free to use scissors. But, whatever you use - don't try to cut the sleeves off with a butter knife. That would be bad. And fruitless. I made the opening quite a bit larger than the original arm holes.

After cutting the sleeves off my little striped sweater - I cut out the opening of the neck hole. This made the sweater look somewhat like suspenders on a belly girdle. A bad belly girdle that would only fit your 7 year old niece, who more than likely doesn't need a belly girdle to begin with. This is probably much more simple than it sounds. And I promise the next time that I make one of these, and I will make more of these, I'll take before, during and after pictures.

Now to stitching up the bottom. I flipped my sweater/suspender/girdle thingie inside out and stitched the bottom closed. After many snapped threads, I realized that a zig zag stitch was the way to go here. Spare yourself some frustration and start out with a zig zag stich. Mkay? I didn't want a straight bottom on my bag, although that would be perfectly fine. I wanted one of those boxy bottoms. So, I flattened the sweater out to make the seam in the center of the fabric with ends that looked like triangles. Then I stitched a line on each side to make the triangles hold their shape. This makes the bottom of the bag boxy like this.

Once again, I'm sorry for being a bad blogger and not taking pictures. But this is what the bag looks like from the inside after I snipped those little triangles off.

The last thing I had to do was finish the straps. At this point the two straps are connected front to back. So, I cut them and then reconnected them. This time I sewed the 2 front pieces together and the 2 back pieces together. Remember to use your zig zag stitch.

Honestly, it probably only took me a total of 15 minutes to make this. It wouldn't have taken that long if I hadn't kept snapping my thread at first.

This is cute as is or I may end up embellishing it. A cluster of buttons in the corner would be cute. Actually, there would be a ton of embellishments that could work here. I could also cut out another piece of felt in a solid fabric and sew it on as a pocket. The options are really only limited to the imagination.

I thought that these would make cute, inexpensive Christmas gifts. Imagine giving one of these to a knitter or crocheter in your life filled with yarn and knitting needles. Or it would be cute to give with a coordinating hat, glove and scarf set inside. Once again, the options are endless here.

Well, I hope I didn't confuse you too badly with my instructions. Just in case, Country Living has this project on their website, too.

Happy crafting!


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Garbage Disposals Were Not Made For...

...So, let's go over the list. Shall we?

Garbage disposals were not intended for...
-making that playground stuff from bald tires
-hiding the pacifier that your 3 year old won't part with
-toothbrushes (I know, sometimes they smell like it wouldn't hurt to try this - but, really - don't. Trust me on this.)
-legos. Legos probably shouldn't go down the disposal.
-Neither should batteries. That would be bad.

Incidentally, 4 out of 5 of these items used to regularly find their way down our bathroom sink when my little guy was much younger. You would be amazed at what we would have to dig out of the drain pipe. OK. Back to our list.

-potato peels

Now that one really surprised me. I'm no idiot savant here but, I thought they were made for food. Now, I know better than to put onion skins down the disposal - but, potato peels? Really? Evidently some evil magic takes over when you put them into the garbage disposal and it turns them into rocks. Or did the plumber say cement? Tomato. Tomahto. Same difference if you ask me. Are you asking me? What? You want to know how I know this? OK. Enough twisting my arm already. Here's the story...

It's Friday evening. My husband's boss and his family are coming over for dinner. I say the word 'boss' which is accurate, but it would be just as accurate to say he's one of the owners of the company. Are we getting a clear picture now? OK.

I have spent quite a bit of time during the week making homemade noodles. Please, allow me to take a bunny trail for a moment concerning homemade noodles. I grew up eating chicken and dumplings. I love chicken and dumplings. But, there was something I found even better than your typical dumpling. It was Loretta Brown's sliders. Loretta Brown was an older lady in the church I grew up in. Every time we had a church pitch in I hunted Loretta down to find out which dumplings she had brought. No one else's would do. She had told me once that they weren't actually dumplings, but sliders. See, where dumplings can be thick and doughy (Is that even a word?), sliders are thinner and soak up more of the flavor of the broth. Oh, are they ever good! But...then I met my husband, a Hoosier. Hoosiers don't eat dumplings. And they don't eat sliders, either. They eat noodles. Noodles are almost like the Holy Grail of all things chicken and some sort of dough concoction in Indiana. When we first got married, my hubby asked me in a sheepish, boyish kind of way if I would have his mom teach me how to make noodles. They have long since surpassed Loretta Brown's sliders in my palette of adoration. I can thank homemade noodles for quite a few extra pounds. Noodles are a lot of work so I don't make them very often. Just usually for special occasions. They boss coming to dinner would qualify for a special occasion. Back to Friday...

The chicken and noodles were cooking, bread was in the oven and it was time to get the potatoes cooking. I peeled 6 pounds of potatoes. The left side of my sink was filled with dish water so I could keep cleaning up as I went. I put a few potato peels down the disposal at a time with no problems - or so I thought. Eventually, though, I wondered if I had actually put that much water in the other side of the sink. But, I kept adding more peelings a few at a time until the dishwater began to overflow to the other side of the sink and I realized that Houston had a problem. The disposal seemed to completely lock up the instant that the water overflowed. Holy Crap, Batman! What do I do now? The water wasn't draining. The disposal was jammed. The potatoes needed to be drained so I could mash them. The list of 'uh-ohs' was growing.

When my main squeeze walked in the door after work I tried to be all nonchalant and full of smiles when he said, "Hi, Honey. How was your day?". In my best we're cool and things are just peachy effort, I replied with a smile, "Great. But we have a problem."

He proceeded to pull the plumbing apart which poured water into a bucket past the point of overflow (all over the kitchen floor) trying to fix the clog. When he realized it was going to take more than a quick fix and the boss man and his family were due to be at our house in about ten minutes, we just cleaned up as quickly as possible and he headed for the shower. I had to get there first, though. You see, I still had to drain the potatoes. In the bathtub. Nice.

I ended up mashing 6 pounds of potatoes by hand because I didn't want to dirty my stand mixer and I knew I wouldn't be washing dishes that night. I also opted to not make the green beans I had planned on fixing for the same reason. I figured that the less mess I had the better. So, I served a completely white and starchy dinner; chicken and noodles, mashed potatoes and rolls. The rest of the night went incredibly well considering all the obstacles that we encountered along the way.

The next morning, Chris (My husband does have a name!) headed to the hardware store for a ginormous container of Drano. That did nothing. So, he talked to a plumber yesterday. When the plumber found out about the potato peels he said that they are one of the worst things you can put into the garbage disposal. That would have been good information to know Friday morning. He said they turn into cement or rocks or something when you run them through the garbage disposal. Huh. Who'da thunk? Then they had a conversation that went something like this.

Mr. Plumber: "When was your house built?"

My Man: "1953."

Mr. Plumber: "So, you probably have old cast iron pipes?"

Sexy Hubby: "Yep."

Mr. Plumber: "And you live in (our town)?"

Stud Muffin: "Yep."

Mr. Plumber: "That town is notorious for having really hard water."

Tiger: "Yeah. Our water is really hard."

Mr. Plumber: "Do all of your drains run slow?"

Hubba Hubba: "Yep."

Mr. Plumber: "Even if you clear the clog - your pipes aren't going to be the diameter they're supposed to be because of mineral build up and rust. By the time you get someone to unclog the sink, it's going to end up being just as expensive as it would be to re-plumb your house."

So, guess what we are having done? The plumber is supposed to be here tonight.

In the mean time, do you know how hard it is not to use the kitchen sink? Not to dirty dishes, especially since we don't even own paper plates? Thank God for frozen food. I NEVER buy frozen dinners, but, for some reason when I was at the grocery store this week, I did. We have been eating those or putting wax paper on our plates before we put anything else on them to keep from dirtying dishes. Last night, I gathered a bunch of groceries and took it to my mother-in-law's apartment and cooked supper at her house. She's cooking for us tonight. I love that woman!

So, what have we learned today? Don't put legos, or toothbrushes, or posters, or calculators, or the neighbor's cat who keeps digging up your flower beds, or rocks, or potato peels down your garbage disposal. Not unless you want new plumbing for your house. Sound reasonable enough?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

"He Said I Have Dog Jaw."

I love this time of year. The bright sunshine. The humidity free days. The chilly 'I want to snuggle with you under a blanket.' nights. The turning of the leaves. The smell. Autumn has a unique smell. Part of it has to do with the bonfires. But it's more than that. Maybe the rotting leaves? That might be the only rotting smell I actually enjoy. Whatever the 'smell' it is - I like it.

Fall always seems to be sprinkled with a little mischief, too. Maybe because it's the season of Halloween. Maybe it's because I'm my father's daughter. Dad is a real prankster. He has this old, ugly mask that he always put on at Halloween and then he would hide in the bushes waiting for Trick-or-Treaters so he could jump out and scare the bejeepers of them. I don't know how he ever managed to keep from getting decked at some point. Oh, the stories I could tell on my dad. But, they will have to wait. I want to to talk about me today! Well, me and my man, actually. It's my blog so I can do that, right?

Back when me and my man were dating we loved to take drives and look at the leaves. We were living in a suburb of Columbus at the time. One of our favorite spots was this little village called Granville. It is a hilly, quaint, New England style town that absolutely oozes with charm. We would head over there and drive around beautiful Denison University and past the hotel that was reported to be haunted. We would admire the leaves and bask in our little 2 person 'I'm So Crazy In Love With You I Could Just Pee My Pants Festival'. It was pretty near heaven on earth.

One night while we were on one of these semi-regular Fall Love Fests, romance was really in the air. It was electric. As Mr. Wonderful drove us around those hills whose trees looked like they had been lit with fire, he ever so gently caressed the back of my head, my neck, my cheek with his free right hand. I basked in the warmth of his feelings for me. It was almost magical. Then something came over me.

I told him how my jaw had been bothering me. I told him that it had a knot in it and that I had seen the doctor about it.

"What did the doctor say?"

"He said I have something called Dog Jaw. Here, you want to feel?"

At that point he reached his hand out to feel the invasive lump on the side of my face. That's when I snapped my face toward his hand, growled and acted like I was going to bite him.

I think he nearly messed himself. He said I totally ruined the romantic mood. Whaaaa? He didn't find that a turn on? We had a good laugh out of it, though. Well, at least I did, anyway. I haven't tried that anymore since that almost perfectly romantic night 15 years ago. But he's still leery of my wacky sense of humor. I can't image why.

So, what have we learned today? I love Fall. I love my man. I am my father's daughter. And, lastly, but most importantly; if someone tells you they have Dog Jaw - for the sake of your clean underwear, don't believe them.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Weekend Incident

This is my girl, Layla. She is an awesome dog. But, she has a little habit. No, she doesn't eat poop. She likes to chew her nails.

See? I told you. But, there is something she really doesn't like to do.

She doesn't like to wear diapers.

I can't say that I blame her. I wouldn't want to wear diapers, either.

We didn't have her spayed because, since she is such an awesome dog, we wanted to breed her. We thought it would be nice to have one of her puppies since she is truly the best dog we've ever owned.

She is very petite for a doberman, 55 lbs. We've owned two other females and they were 70 lbs. a piece. So, when I took her in June for her yearly vaccinations I talked to the vet about breeding her. Because of her small size - he said she couldn't be bred with a male larger than 70 lbs. That would make it kind of hard to find a stud that small. And, really, we wouldn't want a whole litter of abnormally small Dobbies. Couple that with the reality that our house truly isn't large enough to have two of her running around, and we came to a decision. We would get her spayed before her next heat. That was great. In theory.

She came into heat a few months sooner than expected. Bum-mer. This heat has been really hard on her. She has been extremely lethargic. And she cries. All. The. Time. She will lay on the floor next to me and just let out this deep, pitiful, continuous moan. I feel so bad for her. So, we decided that as soon as she was out of heat we'd take her to be spayed. Then, Saturday night happened.

We've had other un-spayed females and never had a problem before. Well, let me tell you - we've got a problem now. Saturday night I let her out into our fenced in back yard to go potty before we shut the house up for bed. A couple of minutes later as I walked into the kitchen, I saw something out the window. I yelled!

"THERE'S A DOG IN OUR YARD!!!" And I ran to the back door and hollered for Layla.

In the mean time, my hubby is running to the back door and reaching for the BB gun. The uninvited dog made his way out underneath the back of the fence. It is really tight and has a wire running the whole length of the bottom to make it even stiffer. Incidentally, we found that he had dug his way into our yard. He came right back, too.

We don't know whether or not he got her. Oh, I pray he didn't get her. But now, I can't let her out without standing right there and watching. So, she can't be outside much right now. She loves to be outside. She cries to be outside. But no-oo. She has to stay inside most of the day and wear those wretched diapers. They don't want to stay in place the way you see them in catalogues. And if we're really lucky - she will find a way to occasionally get her diaper off and rip it to shreds. Kind of like, "There. That's what I think of those things!" And she is not a dog to destroy things. I can honestly report that she has never chewed the first sock, shoe or piece of furniture. But, let her get her diaper off and we've got confetti, Baby!

Since our little weekend incident I can add another item to my Monday 'to do' list. I get to call the vet and find out if I can get her in to spayed this week while she's still in heat. Do they even do that? Ay, ay, ay! I guess I'll be finding out.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A New (To Me) Twist On An Old Favorite

My husband could eat the same thing every day for the rest of his life - as long as it's something that he likes. Not so with me. Or the boy. Especially the boy. He can be loving something for months, then one day he's like, "Oooh. I hate that. That's gross." It doesn't matter if he loved it yesterday. When he's done, he's done. This makes keeping appealing snacks on hand quite a challenge. Trying to find healthy snacks is even more of a challenge.

Today, while checking out the Pretty Organized Palace blog, Pretty dealt with pinching pennies in the kitchen. Her snack ideas caught my attention. Basically, everyone in the US loves popcorn, right? I always have popcorn in the cabinet. I just have one issue with the stuff. The boy of the home is bored with it right now. Don't ask me how this child derived from my gene pool can be bored with the buttery, salty, corny goodness in a bowl - but he is. So, there must be another alternative.

I remember sometimes as a kid, Mom would buy that oh, so yummy powdered cheese shake stuff to go on popcorn. But, Dear Jesus! Have you looked at the price of that stuff lately? I'm much to cheap frugal for that. Then I remember the gourmet popcorn shop that me and my best girlfriend, Samantha, used to ride our bikes to downtown. You walked into this shop that was floor to ceiling bins of every color and every flavor of popcorn imaginable. It was near heaven on earth to a child. You could almost hear the angels singing the Hallelujah Chorus. Could life BE any better? But, I have no idea how to create blueberry popcorn. Or bubble gum popcorn. Or even caramel popcorn, for that matter. If someone knows how to do this, please, for the sake of all that is good and holy, leave me the directions in the comment section, or send me an e-mail. I won't be picky! But, I WILL love you forever! Anyway...

Pretty mentioned several options for popcorn toppings in her post today. Have you ever tried 1/2 butter mixed with 1/2 soy sauce? Me neither. But, I think we'll try it sometime. What about BBQ seasoning powder? Mrs. Dash? A ranch dressing packet? We tried that as a snack for today. The boy loves all things ranch dressing. Most kids do. As fortune would have it - I just happen to have 10,000 packets of the stuff in my cabinet at the moment. Normally, I buy the Hidden Valley type that costs $1.09 a whack. But, recently Aldi has been carrying their version for $.69 each. Needless to say, I stocked up.

So, I popped some corn, opened up a packet of my Aldi brand ranch dressing mix and sprinkled it on. I was pleased to hear, "Mmmm. Mmmm. Mmmm. This is good, Mom."

What to you top your popcorn with?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Her Name Is Konichiwa

Do you ever feel as though like you're being pulled in a thousand directions? Do you ever wish that you could temporarily clone yourself? I don't necessarily dream of cloning myself - but, I do find myself in a semi-catatonic state with a starry look in my eye and drool running down my chin beneath an open mouth daydreaming about "Konichiwa". She's my house girl. You know, the one who washes all of our clothes and dishes, and does all the housework? Then at the end of a long, hard day she gives me and the master of the house a hot stone massage. Her presence frees me to do all of the fun things in life: homeschool the boy, work on my projects, learn new skills and hobbies, shop. Go ahead - wipe the slobber off of your keyboard now. I'll wait for you. Surely, I'm not the only one who has this fairy land in my head. But, alas, I do not live in this reality. At least there was always summer... Yeah, right. Whatever...

In my other ideal world, or the way it seems that my world used to be, summer is a time to slow down, relax, let your hair down and just breathe a little. It hasn't been that way this summer. It seems that I have stayed in a state of overwhelmed. Overwhelmed with all of these things that want my attention at the same. The garden needs tended. The vegetables need canned. The curtains that need made. The ceiling and furniture still needs painted. The jeans that need hemmed. The never ending mountain of laundry that needs washing. The meals that need to be prepared. Then the kitchen that needs cleaned in response to the meals being prepared. And that's only the inside of the house. It seems that all of these things pull at me so that I have a hard time remembering what's really important in my life. Lord, please grant me a Konichiwa. And bless all the little pygmies in Africa. Amen.

So, what is really important? Is it all of the tasks that scream at us every time we enter the room or walk out into the yard? No, chores, projects and duties aren't what's really important when it's all said and done. This is something I've been battling with lately, though. The most important things that I can tend are not my projects lists, but my relationships.

My husband works in a 24 hour emergency business. Last week was his turn for the pager. That means he put in 48 gazillion hours in a week. Whaaa, you didn't know there were 48 gazillion hours in a week? Well, that's what it felt like anyway. When your man is gone working 48 gazillion hours in a week and then spends the other 13.872 hours sleeping - well, let's just say you don't get to see much of him. I like to see LOTS of him. He is a pretty man, after all! So, he finally got rid of that blasted pager and had the weekend off. But...when Saturday morning rolled around I was feeling pressured. Pressured to get busy make 9,000 gallons of salsa out of the 22 truckloads of tomatoes that I had picked from the garden. They aren't going to clean and chop themselves, you know. My pretty man could tell that I was already feeling stressed. He knew those tomatoes needed dealt with. But he also knew something that I needed to be reminded of. He knew those tomatoes COULD wait just a while longer. He knew we needed to spend time tending our family before we tended those tomatoes.

He ever so gently said to me, "How do I love thee? Let me count the ways..." No. Wait. That's not what he said. That's what I would have liked for him to say. No, that's not true, either. I would have burst out laughing if he started talking to me in the King James dialect. He did say something to me along the lines of letting the tomatoes wait and that he hadn't gotten to spend any time with us that week and so it would be good if we could just spend some time together that day. He reminded me that the most important things aren't usually the ones that scream at us the loudest. It's the quiet things in our lives that are easily overlooked and shoved to the back burner that truly deserve the most important seats at the table of our lives. I don't want my dirty laundry at the table. I want my peeps there.

So, I have a challenge ahead of me. I still have a list of projects lined up for me to do during "down" time. I will always have laundry to do, meals to prepare and dishes to wash. I have come to terms with that. But, yesterday marked the first day of our new school year. So, I can now add teaching to the top of my list. With the holidays quickly approaching and extra curricular activities getting ready to start - I am determined this year to keep perspective. I will be striving to take it one day at a time and not let my messy house and dirty laundry keep me from enjoying every day and making time to nurture relationships with the people, family and friends, who are important to me. And, while I'm learning to keep perspective - I'll still be praying for Konichiwa. What's so wrong with wanting a house girl?

Have a great one!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Zucchini Pie - You'll Never Believe It's Not Apple!

I promise! My mom had called me last week and told me she tried this new recipe for Zucchini Pie that supposedly tasted just like Apple Pie. My sister vouched for her. I thought, "For real?". But it had my interest piqued.

So, I made it last night for dessert and didn't tell my hubby 'what kind' of pie it was - you know, just to see if it passed the Apple Pie test. With flyin' colors, baby!

This is a great way to use those big zucchinis that you think are too big to do anything else with. Actually, you want the big zucchinis for this.

I forgot to take a before picture of the zucchini, but I'll think you'll get over that minor detail. :0)

The first thing you want to do is peel the skin off, slice it down the center and scoop the seeds out. It'll look something like this.

Then you want to slice it long ways again so that you end up with four long strips.

Next, slice it into thin short strips (you need 4 cups) and boil until crisp tender. Then drain it and run it under cool water to stop the cooking process. See? It even looks like apples.

Next, you want to put the slices in a bowl and toss with 2 tbsp. lemon juice and a dash of salt.

In a separate bowl, mix 1 1/4 c. sugar, 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 1 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar, a dash of nutmeg and 3 tbsp. flour. It should look like this.

Add your zucchini to the dry ingredients and stir to coat. It's OK if it's runny. It'll soak up.

Dump it all into a 9 inch pie crust. Mmmm! Looking good!

After this, you're supposed to dot it with butter. However, I forgot. Oh, the horrors! And, as bad as I hate to admit it - we never even missed the added butter. Lord, I hope Paula Deen doesn't read this! As if.

Moving on then... :0)

Place your top crust on your pie and add slits or purdy cut-outs, or whatever it is you do to allow the pie to vent. Since I'm sorta lazy, I just put a few slits in it and called it a day. I didn't even make sure that they were evenly spaced.

You can brush the top crust with an egg wash or some water and sprinkle it with sugar to make it extra purdy. Then pop it into a pre-heated 400 degree oven for 40 minutes, or until golden brown.

If you're really thinkin', you might want to put the pie on top of a foil covered cookie sheet 'cause there's a good chance that some of that ooey, gooey, liquid goodness is going to want to boil over and turn into cement on the bottom of your oven, if you don't. I'm just sayin'. Not that anything like that has ever happened to me before, or anything. :0)

It'll probably look similar to this when you pull it out of the oven.

Lawd 'a mercy, is it ever good! Hubby even went back for a second helping of his veggies!

See all the crusties on the foil? I told you it might happen!

So, there you have it - another way to use up too big (or excess) zucchini from your garden, or a way to sneak some veggies in your kid's dessert.

And, just as an FYI, with farm stands aplenty this time of year, you can get fresh zucchini super cheap, even if you didn't grow your own. The monster I made this pie out of only cost me $.75 at our Farmer's Market and it was so large that I got 8 cups of sliced zucchini out of it. That's enough for another pie. I froze the extra for another time. I hope it stays good that way.

Give it a try. You'll love it, and so will your family!
Finding ways to use up more veggies works for me, so I'm linking up to Works For Me Wednesday.