Friday, November 16, 2012

Easy and Inexpensive = the Perfect Gift!

Well, autumn is rapidly passing us by here in New Hampshire - it seems like the temperatures are becoming more wintry every week!  It's the perfect time of year to curl up with a cup of hot cocoa and a good book - but to do that, you also need a snuggly blanket!  :)  Here's an easy way to spiff up a couple of ordinary fleece blankets and turn them into something a little more special.  Just be careful - you may need to make more than you planned since you might want to keep one for yourself!

What you need:  
So simple - just two fleece blankets (mine were less than $3 each at Walmart) and a pair of scissors.  I borrowed my Mom's special cloth scissors, but any sharp pair will do.  Now, I like the combination of a pattern with a solid, but you can do whatever floats your boat.  :)

Lay your blankets on a countertop or tabletop, smoothing them out and aligning the edges as much as possible - and make sure that the "right" sides are facing OUT.  (Hi, kitty!)

Trim off the edges, removing the stitching - you won't need it!

Next, cut about a 6 inch square out of each corner - it looks weird now, but once you start tying, it works out nicely.  If you skip this step, as I did the first time I tried this project, your blanket will be all weird and blumpy around the corners.  Nobody wants a blumpy blanket!

After that, work your way ALL the way around the blanket, cutting 1" wide strips through both layers, about to the depth that you cut the square from the corner (see below).  Try to keep the blanket layers aligned through this process - not usually a problem due to static!  :)

And finally, the step you've been waiting for - the end is in sight!  Start tying the two layers of your tassels together, making sure to double knot them.  This will take you a while, but it's not bad once you get into the groove - although I have to admit that when I was tying this blanket, I suddenly forgot how to tie a knot when I was on the third-to-last one...that was interesting.  I fumbled through it somehow, though.  :)

Ta-da!  Admire the finished product below - a doubly snuggly blanket.  I should've timed myself...I think this took me over an hour, but I'm sure that with practice I could whittle it down to 30-45 minutes.  In any case, this is an easy, satisfying project that makes a great gift - whether it fills a spot on your Christmas shopping list or is just a gift for yourself!  The variety is endless, too - I only showed you this one color combination, but I have lots more waiting to be tied: leopard print with solid brown, zebra print with black, polka dots with purple, blue snowflakes with white...

Hopefully this idea (which, by the way, is not original to me; I have merely adopted and modified it) will help you to enjoy the colder months a little bit more - everyone needs a snuggly blanket or two (or three or four)! :)  Have a great weekend!!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

My Etsy Shop and a Giveaway!

A few months ago I started an Etsy shop.  If you haven't heard of Etsy, you should check it out - it's full of neat handmade and antique items, and anyone can start their own shop.  Their listing fees and commission are very reasonable, and I've listed several items over time.  Here are some samples from my shop:

Handmade Cloth Scented Apples "Jeans Go With Everything Collection" Set of Three
I made these cute scented cloth apples last year, and still have a few left.
Hand-stitched Leather Credit / Business Card Pouch - Rustic Chestnut
I have TONS of these little leather pouches available, in all sorts of different colors.  I hope to add some new styles soon, maybe with buttons to secure the flaps.
Hand-tied Red and Black Reversible Throw Blanket
These hand-tied blankets are very cozy!  I'll be listing more of these soon, in different patterns and colors.
And finally, I just posted these wooden "HOME" letters a couple weeks ago.  My mom has had a set of these in the living room for years, and I've always thought that they would be a great thing to make, either to sell or to use in my own home someday.  I finally got around to it...and the best part is that I saved one set for one of YOU!  :)  

Rustic Handmade Wooden HOME Letters

That's right - if you would like to be entered in a giveaway for one set of these "HOME" letters, just post a comment saying so.  I'll accept entries until Sunday evening (the 14th), when I will draw a random comment number to select the winner.  Family members are welcome to enter if they would like!  :)  

The letters each stand about 5" tall and look great lined up on a shelf or windowsill or staggered on a staircase - and even if they don't fit your decor, they make a great gift!

Thanks for visiting, and I hope everyone is having a great week!!  :)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


Fall is my favorite season (although spring comes pretty close!) with its crisp air, colorful foliage and yummy desserts!  I love fresh apples, especially Cortlands and Macs - they have a little zing to them!  :)  I've already made apple pie and eaten someone else's apple crisp - and last week I made applesauce.

This year I actually picked the apples from the trees I have in my yard - we've had them growing for several years, but have never sprayed them, so the fruit tends to get pretty chewed up by bugs.  I had to cut out a lot of bad spots - but hey, on the plus side, I guess I can say my apples are organic!  :)  (These pictures are from last year, though, so you're seeing orchard apples here.) make applesauce, guess what you need first - apples!  :D  Who would have guessed?  This is a respectable amount of apples here, and will make a very big bowlful - you'll see pictures of our big white bowl later on that will give you an idea of how much applesauce to expect.  Oh, and don't forget to clean your sink before dumping the apples in!

Rinse your apples, then chop them.  The really nice thing about applesauce, at least with the method that I use, is that you don't need to peel or core them, and you can leave the chunks fairly large!  The smaller you cut them, the faster they'll cook, but unless you're in a big hurry, quartering the apples usually works fine.

Toss the pieces in a pot that has a little bit of water in the bottom - the amount in this picture is probably a bit  too much, actually.  :)  I ended up with very wet applesauce last year...

You can fill the pot quite full - the apples will take up less room as they get soft.  Just make sure you can still stir it!

Lids are a good idea - they speed up the process and keep the moisture in.  I forgot to use a lid this year, and my applesauce turned out rather thick.  Stir frequently, getting all the way to the bottom of the pot so the apples don't burn and stick to the pot.

In the picture below, the apples are just about done - very soft.  See how much they've reduced?

I use a food mill to make applesauce.  I think there are other methods, but the food mill will separate the skins, cores and seeds from the applesauce, so you don't have to peel or core the apples - which saves a LOT of time!  Just hook the food mill over the edge of a bowl, dump some of the cooked apples into the top, and spin the handle.  Occasionally reverse direction to scoop up bits that get shoved off to the side.  It presses the applesauce through little holes in the bottom, leaving the skins and stuff in the top.

You'll have to empty out the skins and cores now and then, as all the apple is pressed out into the bowl below - just make sure you scrape the underside of the food mill when you lift it up, as there will be applesauce underneath.  You don't want to waste any!  :)

When you're done, add brown sugar and cinnamon to taste.  I'm generally not allowed to do this, as I tend to have a rather heavy hand with the sugar and spices.  :)  A sinkful of apples will fill this big white bowl.  See the containers behind it?  Those go into our chest freezer; where they will keep until we want one during the year.  No need for canning if you have room in your freezer!

 The process takes a little while, but it's totally worth it when you eat a warm, fresh spoonful of homemade applesauce!  

P.S. - Try it (warm) over pancakes or biscuits!  :)

P.P.S. - Check out the newest items I've listed on my Etsy shop (  I may even do a giveaway of one of the items in an upcoming blog post, so be sure to keep checking back! 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Simple and Delectable: Microwave Custard

We've been using this recipe for years, and it's a real family favorite!  It only takes a few minutes to put together and uses ingredients you probably have on hand.  Check out the recipe below:

Microwave Custard

1 1/3 cup Milk, heated for 2-3 minutes
3 Eggs
1/4 cup Sugar
1/4 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Vanilla
1/4 tsp. Almond Extract
dash of Nutmeg

While the milk is heating, mix together the eggs, sugar, salt, vanilla and almond extract.  You'll want the eggs to be pretty well beaten so that the custard will be smooth.  Add in the milk and divide into four custard cups (or any small, microwave-safe bowls).  Sprinkle with nutmeg.

Arrange the bowls in a circle in the microwave and cook on medium-high for 4-7 minutes, until the custard resembles soft-set gelatin.  

Chill for several hours (the longer it chills, the better it tastes!).

 Serve this as a side dish, dessert or just as a yummy snack!  It really is quick, easy and delicious, and if you don't want to eat it right away it will last a couple days in the fridge - and improve in flavor all the while!

Now I want to make this again...  :)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Yumminess: Turkey Stacks

Happy Fourth of July, everyone!!  :)  I hope you're having a delightful holiday so far.  Sadly, I have to work tonight - on the Fourth, the general store where I work is usually packed wall-to-wall with people - but I should still get to see the fireworks afterward.

Here's an interesting recipe for you.  They used to make this occasionally in the dining hall at the college where my sister and I attended, and we attempted to recreate it this past Sunday evening.  They're called Turkey Stacks.  (Sorry for the bad picture - it was rather dark in the room.)

Turkey Stacks (we served 8 people)

You will need:
-Italian bread (we used 2 loaves)
-Spicy dressing (we used spicy Ranch)
-Deli turkey meat (we probably used 1 1/2 pounds)
-Cooked bacon (1 slice per sandwich)
-Swiss cheese (1/2 slice per sandwich)

What to do:
Cut your bread to the desired thickness and lay the slices on a greased sheet pan.  Put your turkey in a greased skillet at a low temperature to heat it up a little bit (you will broil the sandwich later, but this helps the  meat get heated all the way through).  Broil the bread for a minute or two to toast it slightly, then remove it from the oven and spread on your spicy dressing.  The warmed turkey goes on next; we did about 2 slices per sandwich.  Then the bacon (one piece ripped in half to make two shorter pieces) and finally the cheese.  Then pop the tray into the oven under the broiler and keep a close eye on it; when all the cheese is bubbling and the edges of the bread are getting toasty, your Turkey Stacks are ready!  Serve right away.

The Verdict:
With these ingredients, we ended up with over 20 Turkey Stacks, which was plenty for 8 people.  They were delicious, but I would really love some input on this recipe as the deli meat especially made it slightly on the more expensive side.  Any clever ideas on keeping the cost down?  Or ideas to make the assembly less complicated?  

Thanks as always for reading, and have a spectacular Independence Day!!!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Art of the Sentence

Some years ago, Mom bought these magnetic fridge letters.  I'm not sure if she knew at the time how much mileage we would get out of them, but they have certainly been worth the money.  In fact, we recently replenished the supply with a couple tubs of fresh, bright, clean new letters.  It's nice to be able to spell longer things.  :)  

Anyway, my dad is the master of the fridge sentence - most of the following examples are his work.  We've begun keeping a record of them because they're so intriguingly random.  (By the way, when Dad was a kid, he read the dictionary for fun...can you tell?)

T'weren't so!  T'weren't so! averred the Eye of Magrib.  He licked his lips and looked askance at the bars on the window.

Chosen for his ability to communicate with leeches, Ruak kept watch on the swamp.

William cracked his knuckles nervously as he awaited the start of the third annual all-terrain mowing competition.  (Actually, I wrote this one...after I spent 2 hours mowing our entire lawn.)

The Border Barons of Nueh swallowed nervously when Vem came to Madrang.

Bonding with wolverines is a hard, painful process.

Those sneaky Ramilit breached the Ooligechis' dike and flooded their barley fields.

When the Council of Kreead censured Rugor, Vlod's son, he yelled seven times.

The loyal King's Own Hussars looked Death in the eye and laughed.

Beyond the Silver River, over the Weygan Hills, lies the small duchy of Manterhome, where dwell the proud Gupaxhaqua Clan.

Bored with his accounting job, Ewan decided to become a rattlesnake herder.

Sliding down the embankment, Relf struggled to free his wolf repellent from his belt.

So...there you have it - a selection of fridge sentences to edify you this weekend!  :)  Hope you enjoyed, and if you ever stop by, feel free to write your own sentence!  Stay cool this weekend...and keep your wolf repellent handy - you never know when you might need it.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Are Other Families Like This?

For your edification, I've compiled parts of a couple conversations between my Dad and my eighteen-year-old brother as they sat on the couch this morning.

Dad (picking up a short piece of straw stuck to my brother's pants): "Hey, is this one of those Indonesian throwing spears?  Were you on a mission in Jakarta last night?"
T rolls his eyes and sips his coffee.
Dad (fiddling with straw): "I've never understood how they get any accuracy with these things."
T: "Well, it's just a shard."
Dad (inspecting the knee of T's pants) "Have you checked for penetration?  Looks okay to me.  I guess your defensive knee shield worked."

A few minutes later...

Dad: "If you were a penguin, what kind of penguin would you be?"
T: "A Siamese Vulture Penguin."
Dad laughs.
T: "Where's Siam?  Somewhere in Africa?"
Dad: "I believe it's the old name for Thailand.  It would be unusual to see flocks of penguins in Thailand."
T: "Especially Vulture Penguins."

These are examples of a pretty typical conversation between the two of them, and they can keep going like this for hours!  Some of their other favorite activities include epic Nerf battles around the house and pushing, pulling and chasing each other around on walks in the woods.  It's always entertaining to see what they'll come up with next!  

I hope everyone is having an amazing Monday!!!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

His Royal Fuzziness

Well, it's quite a winter wonderland out there today...a good day for getting back in the groove of blogging!  Today I'd like to introduce you to a member of my family who I'm not sure I've mentioned before: Shamgar the cat.  Hi, Shamgar!

I'm still not sure why he received this name, as Shamgar was a judge of Israel who killed 600 Philistines with an oxgoad (Judges 3:31), but that doesn't matter much as we rarely call him by his given name.  In fact, I polled my siblings a couple days ago and we came up with six separate titles for Shamgar, not including variations!  

He came to us as a very cute little Fuzz from the animal shelter.  He was growing up into a nice young kitty, but alas, some visiting young children terrorized him and now he tends to be rather...uh, moody at times.  In a slightly Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde sort of way.  But in general, he's still very cute.  See the cuteness?  :)

So anyway, his titles...

1. "Hey, You!" (or "Hey, Cat!")  This is mostly applied by my dad when the cat is doing something he shouldn't, as in, "Hey, You - get off the table!"  

2. "The Jungle Kitty."  A designation for when our housecat transforms into a wild, feral beast determined to kill the string (or fingers) that ventures too near.  "Look out - the Jungle Kitty is lurking behind the chair!"

3. "Goofball" or "Silly Kitty."  As in, "Silly Kitty, do you belong on the windowsill?"  And here I must interject an anecdote: We hadn't had little Shamgar for very long when he decided to see if kitties can fly - or climb ceilings, anyway.  We have an indoor, second-story window overlooking the kitchen (see picture below) and our Silly Kitty leapt out, clinging to one of the overhead beams.  Sadly, he did not stick to it for very long and fell two stories to the kitchen floor - and did NOT land on his feet.  Thankfully his only woes were a bloody nose and some bruises, but we've never trusted him around the windowsill since then.

4. "Kitty."  A general designation, which can be spoken in any number of tones, from a friendly, "Hi, Kitty" to a stern warning, "Kitty..."

5. "His Royal Highness/Fuzziness."  For example, when meowing is heard outside our door, one of us girls might say, "His Royal Highness would like to come in."

6. Finally, "Fuzz," as in, "You have a Fuzz on your bed!" or "Hi, Fuzz!  How's it going?"  or "The Fuzz thinks it's his supper time." This designation has settled in as our top choice, perhaps because it allows for a multiplicity of applications.  For example, below we have a "Draped Fuzz."

This is an example of a "Fuzz Pretending to be a Gift."

We also regularly encounter a "Hungry Fuzz," a "Sleepy Fuzz," a "Silly Fuzz," a "Grouchy Fuzz" and a "Wild Fuzz."  Perhaps most memorable is the "Lonely Fuzz."  This Fuzz yowls down in the far corner of the kitchen until someone sticks their head out the window and calls to him.  Then he charges through the kitchen and living room and up the stairs to the girls' room in about 2.2 seconds.

In conclusion, he's a Slightly Weird Fuzz, but we like him.  :)