Sunday, December 30, 2012

'Tis The Time of Year. . .

. . . for frugal people to get their Christmas supplies for next year!

This is the time of year when I purchase wrapping paper, gift tags, and Christmas cards to use the following holiday season.  You just can't beat 50-75% off!  I send out the more expensive cards (I always loved the brand that is country-themed, but they are so darn expensive full price) ever since I started buying them in late December or early January instead of in November!

Heavy-duty wrapping paper is so much more satisfying to wrap gifts with--you can pull it tight and it doesn't rip out on the corners of boxes!--than the stuff that costs $1.00 full price.  After Christmas, I often find rolls of the good heavy stuff for $1.00.  Four or five rolls is usually plenty for the next Christmas's gifts.

This is also a good time of year to look for winter gear, be it coats, snow pants, boots, hats or gloves, in sizes to fit your children for the winter of '13/'14.  Or just to replace your current winter coat that you've been wearing year after year.  I'm going to be doing some online shopping of my favorite warm clothing sites and looking for 50% and 60% markdowns on this season's goods.  To get a warm winter coat that will last for a decade (yes, my current one is that old) for $50 instead of $120+ is a great feeling.

So, get your frugal on, make a list of winter items for storage until fall of 2013, and go bargain hunting!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Finished Rag Doll

I finally finished making K3's rag doll just in time to wrap it up on Christmas Eve.  It took much longer that I thought it would, but then again, going from scratch, the first item always takes longest to make.  I know the next one will only take about an afternoon from start to finish.  But this first one, well, it took about two months.

With the time I spent researching--aka trying to find a pattern for the kind of rag doll I wanted--then sewing and stuffing it, and then figuring out how to make the yarn hair-- which meant more research aka internet searching-- well, October and November went by.   The doll body was sewn, and the face sewn on too, and a messy head of hair, by Thanksgiving.  Then she sat while I contemplated an outfit for her and worked on other sewing projects (like that lap quilt with the deer).  

When I finally decided to start making a dress and undies for the doll, then dug out the old patterns for doll clothes that I had from when my daughters were younger, I found out that the doll clothes patterns I owned didn't exactly fit the rag doll I'd made. . .

So I had to figure out how to make them larger.  Thank goodness for a printer that will reduce or enlarge what you put into it!!

After that, things went quickly.  Now that I've gotten the gist of it, I figure the next one will go from fabric, yarn, and poly-fil, to a finished, dressed doll in four or five non-stop hours.

The doll itself is a 22" doll.  The clothing patterns I had were for 18" American Girl type dolls.  What I did, was cut out the pattern pieces, and enlarge them 125% on my printer.  Except for the skirt, which I left the original length but added about 2" to the width so it wouldn't be too straight and tight to the doll's legs.

K3 loves her doll.  Her mommy loves it too.  And I've already had a request from one family member to make a doll for her daughter.

Hmmm.  I sense a possible new source of pocket cash for me :o)  DH says I should make up a display doll for the Farmer's Market next year, and take orders for them.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

One Christmas Gift Finished

It's been over a week since I posted anything, and what a busy week it's been.  I've traveled 1500 miles to move a daughter back home from college at the end of her semester, gotten news that my Grandmother passed away (funeral to be after Christmas, so another out of state road trip coming up), finished purchasing the presents that couldn't be homemade, bought a dress to wear to Grandma's funeral ($16.50 at a consignment store and it looks awesome!!  Frugalista very happy), and finished the largest of my homemade Christmas gifts.  Now to whip off the six smaller ones in the next 54 hours!

The largest one is a lap quilt I made for a special friend of the family.  Other than not being married in, he is family.  My kids all consider him a grandpa.

I made twelve sawtooth square blocks, in two different color schemes.

The center squares of each--the deer and John Deere fabric--might look familiar.  I used both of those fabrics in the redneck baby quilt I made in April for K3.  At the time I made that quilt, DH suggested that for Christmas, I make the almost-family-member a lap quilt with those two fabrics.  The person in question is an old farmer, and a long time hunter.  So I filed that in my to-do folder for fall.

Once I had six quilt blocks made in each of the two color schemes, I added sashing to them.

Once they were all sashed, I sewed them into four rows of three blocks each, alternating the blocks in each row.

Then I added a border, and made the quilt sandwich (three times.  *sigh*  by this time I'd gotten news that my Grandma was failing and I just could not concentrate on much of anything.  I thought I was concentrating, but after sandwiching the quilt wrong, stitching it, picking all the stitches back out, relayering, resewing, again finding out it was wrong. . . I guess I really wasn't doing as well mentally as I thought I was.)

When I finally got the layers right, I turned the quilt right side out (I 'birthed' it rather than going with a binded edge) and stitched in the ditch for the quilting.  The finished product is shown in the picture below.  For some reason, the colors in the photo are kind of washed out looking.  The individual block pictures above are more true to color.

For the backing, I went with a brown plaid, that just jumped of the shelf at the fabric store, calling the almost-family-member's name it so fits his personality.  Everyone who has seen the quilt so far agrees that it is most definitely the right fabric choice for him.

So, that is part of why I haven't blogged lately.  The other part involves an eleven hour brown out that fried the damper solenoid on our outdoor wood burner.  But that's another story for another day.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Heading For a Crash. . .

That is kind of how I feel right now.  As if December isn't crazy enough, what with Christmas coming.  I don't even "do" Christmas in a big way.  I mean, my decorations aren't even up yet, and that isn't unusual.  Right now is just about the time we normally get our Christmas tree.  So I'm not behind at all. ;-) At this little place here we're more into the religious aspect of Christmas than the gaudy, glittery, and gifting.

But, add to the hectic Christmas season a few things:

  1. Changes over at the horse farm.  For nearly two years I've been trying to get the owner to bring on a third person to help out.  My co-worker there has been having health issues for three years now, and there doesn't seem to be a way to get him out of decline.  I've been trying to pick up his slack, and it's gotten to the point where I had to say "this farm isn't mine, and it can't take up my life/take me away from my family".  I had to put my foot down about how many hours a week and which hours a week I was available.  Which was a good thing, as the owner finally set to searching for an additional farm worker.  And she found one.  It did mean that I had to work extra this past week to train the new person, but in the long run it will be less stress for me.
  2. DD1 is coming home from college in MN.  Not just for the semester break.  No, she has had a really hard time adapting to being 750 miles away from all her family and friends.  It was a tough decision, and one I didn't totally agree with (I'm still not sure I agree completely--I think she should have stuck it out for the entire school year), but she decided to transfer to the local community college for the semester that begins in January, and she will be moving back home.  Which means that next week, I get to drive 12 hours out to her, load up her dorm room after her last exam, and drive 12 hours home.  Then we get to work on being a household of four again, instead of a house of three like DH, DD2 and I have been since late August.  We also get the joy of figuring out how to have an adult offspring living with us full time.  The boys left home after high school and never looked back, or came back other than for a visit of a week or so at a time.  This will be uncharted territory.  
  3. My grandmother, who was moved to FL with my uncle in June, has been ill. Late last week she was hospitalized for a blockage in her liver, and while doing surgery to correct that over the weekend, the doctor found advanced liver cancer.  Because she is 90 years old and has been frail for the last several years, there will be no chemo or radiation given to her. The prognosis: approximately two months, and plans were made to move her from the hospital to hospice. Today, the report from FL was such that my father has decided to drive down there immediately.  And he is not a man who jumps to conclusions, so I know I will not be speaking to or seeing my grandmother alive again.  As much as I would like to be there, there is no way I can go, there are too many things and people here who need me more than my grandmother.  It sounds like she would not even be aware of my presence anyway, so here I wait.
Heading for a crash.  I do believe I have hit my stress limit. Now, to go on faith and know that everything will work itself out in the end.  It just might be a rocky few months.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Quick To Stitch Hunting Bag

My DH has a camouflage patterned backpack that he keeps his hunting goodies in--grunts, bleats, rattling antlers, rope, gutting knife, etc.  I call it his "Bag of Tricks".

Now, I'm less active of a hunter, in that I prefer to sit and see what comes by rather than getting into the fine art of calling deer to me.  But, I still take things to the blind with me, like chapstick and kleenex, my cell phone, a snack, a small pad of paper and a pen, a book. . . I can't sit long without having something to do with my hands, so I take something to write on and something to read; that helps me sit still and quiet longer.  Mother-in-Law used to take knitting with her when she went hunting, but I haven't learned to knit (yet--I have my first lesson in January!).

Trying to stuff all those items into the pockets of my hunting coat hasn't always worked well.  Especially when I want to take a light weight pair of gloves for early in the afternoon and also a heavy weight pair to switch to after a few hours when the sun gets low and the temperatures drop.  My hands get cold very easily--if it's less than 65 degrees indoors, my fingers will feel like ice cubes.  So being outside for several hours at 40 or less, I need gloves.  Not just gloves, but warmer ones to change into the longer I'm outdoors.

The day before firearm deer season began this year, I was looking at DH's Bag of Tricks, and thinking how I needed a bag of my own to tote my own hunting blind do-dads in.  Then, inspiration struck!  I remembered that when I made a skirt for the double tree stand last year, I had a rectangular piece of camo burlap leftover.  To the Sewing Room!

Upstairs, in the Sewing Room (which previously was known as the Boys' Room until the youngest son left for college, at which point I moved my sewing gear in next to his bed), I dug through my bin of scrap fabrics until I pulled out that burlap piece.  It was as perfect for the job as I remembered: about 36" long and 14" wide.

What I proceeded to do, was to take the burlap and fold it in half with the fold line at the bottom (so it was now about 18" tall) and right sides (the printed 'outside' of the fabric) together.  Then I sewed 5/8" seams up the left and right sides, stopping about 2" from the top of each side.  Now I had side seams, a bottom, and an opening at the top.  I folded down the unsewn top edge 1" all the way around, and sewed it down. I double stitched each side seam, and the top that I'd just stitched down, for extra durability. Then I turned the whole thing right side out.

I hunted up two black cords.  One was from a sweatshirt of DD2's that she'd pulled out because she never draws her hoods closed, and the other was a length of bootlace from somewhere.  I didn't bother measuring them, just eyeballed that they were about the same length.  If I had to give a guesstimate, I'd say somewhere between 48" and 60".  (Eyeballing distance/measurements is not one of my strong points).

I then proceeded to take each one, and put it in the channel at the top of the bag, one cord in the 'front' and one in the 'back' channel.  I had not sewn the side seams all the way closed on that, only stitching the bottom of the channel to the inside of the bag, so it was easy to get the cords into the channel at the side seams.  After I had each one threaded all the way through half of the bag, I evened them out and tied them all together at the ends.  Now I had a drawstring bag.

I hope I haven't lost you. In hindsight, it would have been easier to show this process with a picture than to try to describe it.

The 'strings' are long enough I can put them over my shoulder and carry the bag with my hands free--very handy for climbing ladders into tree stands.  They also make it possible to hang the bag if  where I'm sitting doesn't have enough floor space to set the bag down.  Such as 15' up a tree, just within arm's reach. . .

If you want to make a similar drawstring bag for yourself, for hunting or any other activity, all you need is a rectangle of fabric as wide and twice as long as you want the bag to be, and some cords/old boot laces/rope, and some thread to stitch it up.  I think I spent all of 15 minutes making mine.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Squash Recipe #7: Baked Acorn Squash

I confess, this is probably the recipe most people have for cooking squash.  But, since it's been a bit busy around this little place here lately, and I hadn't served squash in nearly a week, I broke down and cooked it this way (one of my least favorites, although DH likes it just fine).

I served it with chicken fried venison steak on (another) night when it was just DH and I home.  A bit off topic, but I do have to say that after 23 years of having children, it is a bit odd on the nights when I find that DD2 is off on some school-related something and there are only two people sitting down to dinner.  Where once-upon-a-time I had to convert 'serves four' recipes to make them serve six, now I'm taking 'serves four' and cutting it in half to make it serve two.  (Hmm, I sense another blog post topic coming on. . . Cooking For Two. . .).

Anyway, back to our squash recipe.
  • Take two smallish acorn squash.
  • Wash them, and cut in half (I did mine at the 'equator' rather than the long way).  
  • Cut a small slice off each bottom so they will sit flat when you want to cook them.
  • Scoop out the seeds and squash guts.
  • Place the four squash halves (or 'bowls')  in a baking dish.
  • Into each of the squash 'bowls', place 1/2 to 1 Tbsp butter (depending on your preference), and a bit of brown sugar (up to 1 Tbsp, again depending on preference).  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • Pour enough water in the bottom of the baking dish to measure about 1/4".
  • Cover dish with foil, and place into an oven preheated to 400 degrees.
  • Bake about 30 minutes (up to 40, depending on how accurate you oven is and how thick the squash are).
That's it!

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Playset Turned Hunting Blind

Here it is, the post I hinted about.  The one where I tell you how we turned our kids' outgrown wooden play set into an elevated hunting blind.  Unfortunately I do not have very many pictures to go with it, because at the time were were building it way back when, the internet hadn't been heard of, so I had no idea I should take pictures for a blog post.  And when we were re-purposing it this summer, well, it didn't occur to me then to make a post about it.  So, I apologize to those looking for a photographic play-by-play of the process, cuz it ain't gonna happen.

Here is the play set, as it began in the Fall of 1996. Mother-in-Law wanted to buy our kids a swing set, and DH told her to give him the money instead and he would purchase lumber to built a sturdy structure that would last versus a painted pipe contraption from the (discount) store that probably wouldn't still be usable when the eldest kid outgrew it in 5-7 years.

What he bought, was 8-foot long 4"x4"s, a few 2"x6"s, a few 2"x4"s, a long 4"x6", and some wolmanized deck boards.  Also, a really thick dowel that he used for making the ladder rungs.  My parents donated the 'curvy' slide (which, I think cost about $90 at the time.)  In the above picture, he has gotten the platform and ladder built, the attached A-frame arm for the swings had not been put on yet.  The platform (and footprint of the structure) is 6' x 8', with the platform being about 5' off the ground.

As you can see, the kids were anxious to start playing on it! DH hadn't even put on the safety pickets around the platform to keep them from falling off yet.  Honestly, he'd run out of money for them, so the safety features were put on hold and we hoped none of the kids (ages 7, 3 and 2) would fall off.  (They didn't, then or at any time in the future--we never did get the top enclosed to be 'safe'). A few months later, we purchased our first house (the play set was erected at the house we had been renting), and we borrowed a flatbed trailer to move it (in two pieces: swing arm and platform) to our new home.

The next picture, taken almost five years later, you can see the swings.  The big kid swinging his little sister was the one in the red coat going down the slide in the previous picture.  The little sister spider-swinging with him wasn't even a twinkle in her father's eye at the time the first picture was taken.  I don't think a 100 pound almost-teenager could swing his 40 pound little sis on one of those 'normal' pipe style swing sets without bending the frame.  As you can see, this play set isn't  stressed in the least by that much weight pulling on it.

The next picture was taken the next spring, after an ice storm knocked a fairly large tree limb down onto the top of the play set.  The slide came apart slightly (and was easily fixed), but that was the only damage.

That summer, we moved to this little place here.  For the move, the swing arm was detached, and the platform section laid down onto a trailer to be driven the 25 miles to this little place here from the old house.  The cabin you see in the background of the above photo was also moved to this little place here.  It was built by Mother-in-Law, from pine she cut out of her woods, cut to length, and hauled the three-hour drive to our house so she could built my kids a log cabin playhouse.

Fast forward nine years.  The biggest kid hasn't played on the play set in about seven years.  The next biggest kid, who is the background of the first picture, climbing up the ladder, hasn't played on the play set in about three years.  The third kid, who was the youngest at the time the play set was built in 1996, has only used it to sit on the platform with friends and have private conversations for the last three years.  The little girl who wasn't even born yet when the play set was built, is going into her sophomore year of high school.  The slide was given away to a much younger cousin five years earlier when my kids all exceeded the weight limit of the plastic slide.  Only one swing remains, the other having come up missing years ago.  My children are grown; the time has come for the play set to be retired.

Or not.  Not retired, as the structure itself is still as sound as the day it was built, sixteen years ago! The time has come for the play set to be re-purposed, recycled into a hunting blind!  My idea, conceived back about 2006, was that if we removed the swing arm, raised the platform to the top of the 8-foot tall 4x4's, and closed in the bottom, the play set could be an awesome blind--you could sit in the enclosed underside during nasty weather, or up on the platform for an elevated view during good weather.

It took DH a few years (six, to be exact), to agree that I had a good idea for the future of the play set.  He still hasn't come completely around to my way of thinking, but he did come around enough that he removed the swing arm this summer, and raised the platform to the uppermost extent to the 4x4's.  Then we loaded it onto our flatbed trailer--lying down, hauled it out to the edge of the woods, and stood it back up, nestled in to the backside of one of the wild apple trees that edge the field.  He put up some cross braces to the 4x4s, then used some old OSB as sides/cover so the deer won't see much of us up on the platform, and salvaged half of an old wooden extension ladder to use as access to the platform.  The enclosing of the underside is still under debate, since he located the play set/hunting blind close to an existing enclosed blind we all ready have a little further back off the field.

view from on top of platform
looking at existing ground blind

Enclosed below or not, it has gotten a lot more use in the last month (muzzle loading season currently going on) as a hunting blind than in the past several years when it was still a play set.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Homesteading Christmas Gift Ideas

It's that time of year when everyone is wracking their brains trying to think up good gifts for friends and relatives.  Going through it myself at the moment for a few relatives, I got the idea to do a post on some homesteady-types of gifts.  Really, it's probably going to end up more like a list than an informative article, but I'm hoping someone somewhere will get some use out of it.  If I can help one person who's stumped for the perfect gift for that not-exactly-normal special someone in their life, well, then I will consider it a success.

If you know some homesteading types of people, or you yourself are one of those self-sufficient types who isn't into newer bigger televisions, smarter phones, jewelery or knick-knacks, then you know that this time of year can be tough.  As for myself, I want to give a gift that the recipient will both like and use, not just something that is a token "here, I felt like I had to get you something and I saw this on sale at the mall" kind of thing that ends up cluttering up their closet or put out in their next garage sale.  I also prefer to receive useful gifts, because it is awkward when you get something you have no foreseeable use for, yet know the giver is going to look for it to be displayed prominently in your house or on your body the next time they see you.

Here are some tried and true gifts that we've received at this little place here, either from each other, or from people who "got" that we aren't quite mainstream in our tastes and lifestyle.

Animal related:

  • incubator for chicken eggs
  • gift certificate to my favorite hatchery
  • new horse brushes (cuz they do get worn out after a while)
  • new lead ropes (ditto, they get worn out after 10 years or so. . .)
  • rabbit nesting box
  • 'small, sharp knife for gutting chickens' (this is what I wrote on my wish list.  What I received was a Buck knife with a 2" blade.  Very useful for gutting chickens, and carrying in my purse.)

Hunting related:
  • butchering knife set
  • gambrel
  • rope
  • game scale
  • skinning tool
  • insulated camo coat/bib overalls
  • insulated camo hat and gloves
  • wool socks
  • buck grunt
  • doe bleat
  • hand and toe warmer packs
  • tree stand
  • canopy for tree stand
  • gun cleaning kit
  • archery target
  • low-activity level thermal underwear
  • bone saw
  • gutting knife
  • skinning knife

Heating-with-wood related:
  • new chain for chainsaw
  • small whisk brush for cleaning chain saw
  • small wedge (for use in cutting down standing trees)
  • safety helmet & ear protection
  • welding gloves (for stoking the fire)
  • log chains
  • cant hook

Gardening related:
  • 1 yard dump cart (can be towed by hand or by attaching to small tractor/lawn mower)
  • new sprinkler
  • Stihl mini-tiller
  • hoe
  • floating row covers
  • gift certificate to my favorite seed supplier
  • gift certificate for fruit tree supplier

Cooking-from-scratch related:
  • Kitchenaid Professional 600 mixer (although it didn't last making bread every week; killed 2 in 21 months. . . but still works well for mixing batters--vs doughs--and whipping cream or meringue, as well as using the slicer/shredder attachments.  DS2 calls it the Power Shredder)
  • electric skillet
  • electric griddle
  • 6 qt crock pot
  • assorted glass bakeware:  pie plates, bread pans, casseroles, etc
  • pressure cooker
  • deep fryer
  • electric meat slicer
  • 18 quart electric roaster (great for open houses, I actually own 2)
  • large glass mixing bowls
  • cookbooks (especially those that have recipes for things that usually come in a can, box, or seasoning packet at the store)

Food Preservation related:
  • dehydrator
  • canning jars
  • canning lids
  • vacuum sealer
  • numerous books on growing/preserving food

Brewing related:
  • 5 & 6 gallon carboys
  • 12 oz & 16 oz glass bottles
  • recipe books for different types of beers
  • a Periodic Table of Beer Styles (DS2 found this at engineering college last year, and made a poster sized one for DH)
  • hydrometer
  • hops rhizomes
  • soda pop extract (so the kids could 'brew' their own pop in 5 gallon batches.  We learned not to bottle the cream soda after an explosive incident that left most of our 12 oz bottles broken and the basement very very sticky. . .  5 gallon soda kegs work better. )
  • 5 gallon stock pot (aka brew kettle until we converted a keg to boil 10 gallons of wort on the turkey fryer. . .)
  • airlocks

General 'life on the farm' related:
  • Carhartt coats and bibs
  • rubber knee boots
  • work gloves, both insulated and summer weight
  • fur lined hats with ear flaps for winter work
  • tractor-sized wrenches and sockets
  • work boots
  • heavy duty snow shovels
  • pocketknives (even the girls own pocketknives)

Handmade wearable stuff:
  • scarves
  • crocheted blankets
  • denim quilts (made from our own outgrown/worn out jeans and backed with warm flannel)
  • flannel pjs

Crafting stuff:
  • knitting lessons (shhh, this one is for both my daughters this Christmas, and I get to tag along for free!  All 3 of us will receive a 'starter knitting kit' and 'lifetime lessons' at a local knitting place.)
  • books of quilt block patterns
  • sewing machine
  • rotary cutter
  • acrylic rulers 
  • cutting mat
  • crochet hooks and yarn
  • fabric
  • measuring tape for use when quilting (120" long!)
  • needle threader
  • sewing machine needles
  • hand sewing needles
  • pin cushions
  • quilting pins
  • cardstock
  • gel pens
  • ink pads and rubber stamps
  • calligraphy pens, ink and book
  • counted cross stitch design books
  • embroidery floss and needles
  • aida cloth (for counted cross stitch)

Fix-it-yourself related:
  • battery charger
  • battery booster pack
  • tow rope
  • work lights
  • assorted wrenches
  • bench grinder
  • floor jack
  • bottle jacks
  • car ramps
  • rubber mallet
  • utility knives (mine says "MOM" in black permanent marker so as to not walk off in DH's hand when he can't remember that his is silver and mine is green.  His has a tendency to get lost.)
  • hammers
  • screwdrivers
  • tool boxes
  • measuring tapes
  • 4 lb sledge (mine, because a hammer just isn't hefty enough to pound stakes into the garden with, but the 8 lb sledge is overkill)
  • axe
  • 10' step ladder
  • amp meter/electrical tester
  • tool belt
  • carpenters pencils
  • speed square
  • jumper cables
  • 4-way tire irons
  • tire gauges (great stocking stuffers for anyone who drives)
  • portable tire pumps (you know, the kind that plugs into the cigarette lighter/port in your vehicle)

Outdoor recreation related:
  • snowmobile helmets
  • kayak
  • canoe paddle/kayak paddle
  • floating eyeglass/sunglass cord (for canoeing/kayaking)
  • snowmobile boots
  • snowmobile pants
  • snowmobile gloves
  • ice skates
  • cross country skis
  • rock climbing gear (shoes, gloves, ropes, etc)
  • ice fishing poles & lures
  • Mr. Buddy portable heater
  • sleds (one year DH & I bought the kids the best plastic sleds.  They were so heavy duty, but also fast!!!  In fact, DS1 broke his wrist on New Year's day--one week after receiving his cool new sled.  Even so, those sleds lasted for years.  Unfortunately, we haven't been able to find similar ones to replace them with.  Must have been 'too dangerous' to continue to be sold, LOL.)
  • snow boards
  • 2-man tents
  • mummy bags (for winter camping)
  • riding gloves (horseback riding)
  • riding boots
  • riding pants (usually for English style riding)
  • riding helmet

Whew!  If you've read all the way to the bottom of the list, I sure hope I've given you an idea or two.  

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Terribly Yucky Sauce. . . .

Actually, it's really good sauce.  But the first time I made teriyaki sauce, my youngest child thought I said I was making "terribly yucky" sauce.  And the phrase just kind of stuck.

In my quest for made-from-scratch recipes through the years, I have come across some really good ones for things like dressings, sauces, and powdered mixes.  This recipe (as well as some of my other favorites) came from the book  Family Feasts for $75 a Week by Mary Ostyn.  I saved quite a few recipes from her book, and I highly recommend checking it out from your local library, or putting it on your Christmas Wish List.

Teriyaki is a really quick and easy sauce to make.  It only takes about 15 minutes to whip up a batch, which is enough for a couple of meals.  According to the book, it stores well in the fridge for two weeks, but I've never had it around quite that long!

Teriyaki Sauce

1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water 
2 cups water
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 Tbsp honey
1 tsp ground ginger
1 clove garlic, minced

Whisk together cornstarch and water in a medium-size saucepan.  Whisk in the remaining ingredients and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until sauce thickens.

That's all there is to it.  Faster than driving to the grocery store for a bottle of teriyaki sauce.

I cooked up a batch of white rice and some steamed veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, carrot medley), then diced up some of the pork roast leftover from the other night when DH and I had roast with parmesan acorn squash for dinner.  I made 1/2 batch of the teriyaki sauce, heated the diced pork in it while the rice and veggies finished cooking, then served it all for dinner.  

Monday, December 3, 2012

Squash Recipe #6: Parmesan Acorn Squash

This squash recipe I served alongside a pork roast.  It's very similar to squash recipe #5, and because of that I didn't bother to take any pictures.

This one uses one acorn squash that weighs two pounds, and serves two people, or three to four if you serve another veggie or potatoes with it.  Since it was just DH and I eating that night, I  served the pork roast and the squash without any additional side dishes.

So, you take your 2-pound squash, wash it, slice it lengthwise, scoop out the guts and seeds, and slice into 3/4" slices.  This is a bit thicker than the slices in recipe #5.  Then you lay the slices in a greased 13" x 9" baking dish, and drizzle 1 Tbsp olive oil over them.  Rub the oil across the face of each slice. Then sprinkle with 1/4 tsp kosher salt (needs to be this, cuz it's the big grain salt.  Regular table salt will be too fine and too much), 1/8 tsp black pepper and 2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese.

Now, turn each squash slice over, and repeat the oil, salt, and cheese.

Put the baking dish with the squash slices into an oven heated to 425 degrees.  Bake for about 35 minutes.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Making a Blue-eyed Girl For My Blue-eyed Girl

K3, my granddaughter, has the most gorgeous blue eyes.  I love her eyes.  Actually, I love every part of her, but she has very pretty eyes.

When I was thinking up ideas for Christmas presents, I decided that I wanted to make her a rag doll.  After all, a not-quite eight month old baby doesn't really want anything spectacular for Christmas.  So I figured rather than going overboard this year on things she won't have the motor skills to use for quite a while (Grandpa, aka DH, has all ready been looking into those motorized ride on toys--quads and trucks--that we couldn't afford to buy our own kids when they were little. *Ahem*); I would keep it simple with something that she will hopefully like now and get use out of for years to come.

While I was at it, I decided to personalize her doll with eyes and hair approximately the same shade as hers. Not that she has alot of hair so far, but it appears to want to be a strawberry blonde.  So, this is what I have come up with:

Now, to give the doll a hairdo, and make something for her to wear.  Then I can say I have my #1 crafting item on the "To Make For Christmas Gifts" list completed.