Friday, February 27, 2009

Starting Seeds from Citrus Fruit

I have mentioned in the past that I am fascinated with the miracle of planting a seed in some dirt and watching a plant grow. I really never tire of it. It never seems commonplace. Each time a plant sprouts from a seed that I have planted, there is a little thrill and excitement that I feel. There are so many more complex miracles that God has created; but with this rather simple one, it never ceases to amaze me.

Not long ago a friend went on a vacation to Florida, and brought back some oranges and grapefruit to our family. They were of course delicious! As I finished up the final grapefruit, I decided I needed to plant one of the seeds to grow my own Florida grapefruit tree. From my research on starting seeds from citrus plants, I have found one main issue. The seed needs to be planted immediately. If it sits around, it will merely dry out, and won't germinate. I planted the seed in a small pot filled with a seed starting mix, and watered it thoroughly. I have grow lights that I placed it under, but I'm sure a bright sunny window would also work. From my experience, it takes several weeks before the plant begins to grow. But I just kept on making sure the soil stayed moist. One day, when I checked the plant, there it was!! A beautiful shiny green leaf coming out of the soil. It is now several inches tall. In fact there are actually two plants growing side by side in the little pot. It is just a little reminder to me of God's greatness in all things.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


I was born as #5 in a family of 7 kids. So by the time I came along, the toy boxes were well supplied with toys. I don't remember ever receiving my very first baby doll because we already had quite a few baby dolls that had belonged to my older siblings. All of the dolls had specific names, and didn't go by any other. They also all had a very unique quality in that each one had a very small blue ink cross drawn on their forehead. My older sister, Molly, had decided that they all needed to be baptized. :) I did receive one doll at a young age that I remember. She was a "Chatty Cathy". She had a string coming out of her back that when pulled, she would say various little phrases. She didn't last for long though because being a good little mother, I decided one day that she needed a bath. Thus ended her chattiness. But I do remember one doll in particular that I liked playing with probably the most of all. His name was Pete. I never questioned his name, or the fact that it was a boy's name. He wasn't really a boy, just a doll with the name Pete. He was one of my favorites. As the years passed, and I no longer played with dolls, my oldest sister, Miki, came home for a visit. At that time she had girls of her own, and before she left she took Pete to take home for her girls to play with. It was at that point in time that I found out that Pete was really Miki's doll. She was the one that had received him as a gift, named him, and undoubtedly spent many years playing with him. I had honestly never given it any thought. I had just assumed Pete was mine. Of course I was more than happy for my nieces to have Pete to play with; but it was always fun to tease my sister that she had taken Pete away from me. On my birthday many years later, when I had girls of my own, Miki sent me a gift. Yes, it was Pete. So here is a picture of Pete, modeling a reversible bib that I recently made for Miki's granddaughter. On one side of the bib is a cute cherry print:

And the other side was embroidered with a "Baby's First Valentine's Day" motif:

And if you would like to take a look at my great niece modeling it herself, you can find that here.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

A New Pillowcase

In January, my daughter and I were browsing around a local quilt store, when I found some cute fabric in the clearance section. To me it just seemed to say "please make a pillowcase out of me". It is technically a Valentine's Day fabric, but what little girl doesn't need hearts on her bed all year around? I paired it with a couple of other fabrics, and followed the directions that I posted back in November. This project really does go up quickly, and makes for a fun gift.

My daughter swapped it right away for one of her flannel pillow cases. Even though we still have snow on the ground and flannel sheets on the beds, this colorful pillowcase brings a little hope that spring will get to us eventually.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Cranberry Orange Muffins

I have mentioned in a prior post about one of my newest favorite cookbooks. It is "The Sweet Melissa Baking Book". I originally found it at our local library, and enjoyed it so much, one of my daughters bought it for me as a Christmas gift.

Recently, I was in a muffin mood, and decided to try her Sweet Muffins recipe. It is a basic recipe that she recommends adding different sweet things to for a variety of muffins. I just happened to have a partial package of cranberries left over from Christmas, so I used those up in it along with the grated zest of one orange. They were really good. The muffin tins are filled completely full, which I wondered about at the time; but they baked up so nicely making a perfect crown on the top of each one.

The cranberries added a little tartness, but because of the sweetness of the muffins, they were a perfect blend.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Vintage Decals

This morning I discovered a website that sells vintage decals. In glancing through it, I saw some really cute decals. Since vintage decorating is so popular right now, I thought that I should share the link. It is called Sweet Gal Decals. (If this link doesn't work, try just going to Here is just a sample of one of their many, many choices. Is this cute, or what!

I discovered this site after stumbling upon The Vintage Mommy blog. She has a category on her blog entitled Vintage Thursdays. The wheels are turning in my head as to how I could use some of these decals. They have great possibilities.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Gift Card Tins

Whenever I am shopping at Michael's, I always notice the cute gift card tins that they have hanging by the register. Sometimes the tins are very cute, but I can't really think of a reason to buy one. However, last month when all of their Christmas items went on clearance, I noticed that they had a big pile of Christmas gift card tins for only 50 cents a piece. I began digging through the pile, and managed to find a few that seemed like they would work anytime of the year (well, except for the one with snowflakes .... but I liked it anyway). I bought several, and gave one to each of my girls. I immediately took mine and decided it would be a great place to keep small sewing supplies that I need with my current embroidery project. I placed a piece of felt in the bottom, and added embroidery needles, floss, and a pair of scissors. The tin just gets tossed right into my project bag, and so I know I will always have what I need when I want to work on that particular project. I happen to have other bags with projects in various stages of completion, and thought if I could have a tin in each one with items necessary for working on each particular project, that would be very handy. One of my girls has used her tin for keeping hair clippies, bobby pins, and quarters in. Why quarters, I'm not really sure, but I'm sure she has a good reason. Another daughter keeps drawing supplies in hers. We also thought they would make great containers for small first aid kits, and even sewing repair kits. They seem to have so many possibilities. Besides, you can really find cute gift card tins, and it is just fun to actually have a reason to justify buying one.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

Sometime in the past, I came across a small box of valentines that I had saved from my childhood. I don't even remember saving them; but somehow they have managed to follow me to this point in my life. Some of them are dated, and I estimate them to be from my 2nd and 3rd grade years.

Here is just a sample of some of them:
My girls and I have had a lot of fun looking through them. The illustrations are so cute.
I don't know how the schools do it in this day and age; but when I was a little girl, a week or so before Valentine's Day, our teacher would set a big decorated box up in the classroom with a little slit cut in the top of it. As each of us would finish our valentine's throughout the week, we would put them in the box. Towards the end of the afternoon on Valentine's Day, we would put all of our books away. Our teacher would open up the box, and pass out all of the cards inside. We would always make a card for every student in the class, including a big one for the teacher. This festivity would be accompanied with juice and cookies. I can remember what a fun party it always was.

I'm so glad that I managed to save all of these throughout the years. I think I will try to frame some of them some day; but for now we are just enjoying going through the little box.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Simplest of Crockpot Meals

Sometimes I have days that are filled with so many activities and errands, I hardly have time to sit down. In my mind I mentally go over and over everything that must be accomplished, knowing that I really ought to be writing all of these things down, but not really wanting to take the time to locate a pencil and paper. I know that I will be so busy that I won't have much time at the end of the day to spend making dinner. It is just this kind of day that I like to prepare shredded pork sandwiches for dinner. This particular recipe isn't even really a recipe at all. I simply put a small pork roast into the crockpot, pour a bottle of barbecue sauce over it, and that's it. Before dinner, I shred the pork inside the crockpot with two forks, and serve it on warm buns. A super easy dinner, and it puts my mind to rest the remainder of the day, as far as dinner goes, so that I can try and remember the other things that need tending to.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Pennie Pockets

Valentine's Day is such a fun day, especially if you have kids. Through the years I have always made sure that my kids have had valentines to send to family and friends. They have found so much enjoyment in either making the entire valentine, or just choosing which pre-made valentine would go to each special person. I also have fun giving each of my kids a little something on Valentine's Day. Even if it has only been a box of conversation hearts, the giving of a little simple gift is so enjoyable.

Recently, I came across a free pattern for Valentine Pennie Pockets that seem to have many possibilities:

I thought they were so cute that I would share the website with any of you that might want to try and make some for Valentine's Day. The directions don't sound very difficult, and you could make several alterations to cut down on some of the time making them. Replacing the yo-yo with a big cute button would be easier, and on another website I have seen the handles made out of rick-rack. There is a complete tutorial for this project located here.

To see the alternate website with some different variations, you can look here.

I can just picture these filled with all different kinds of treats for little kids and grown-up kids as well. They just seem so cheerful and fun.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A Month of Menus

At the beginning of the year, I made a list of all of the goals I would like to accomplish in 2009. Usually each year I just think about them, and they are soon forgotten. But this year I wanted to actually write them down so that I could review them from time to time in order to actually accomplish some of them. One of my goals was to keep a list of all of the meals we have each month. My reasoning behind this was so that next year, and years to come, I could just pull out my January list of meals and be set for the month. I actually did fairly well last month in keeping track of what we had for our dinners. I did forget a few of the days; but overall, I have a list of meals all prepared for next January. Now I am starting on my list for February. If I can just keep up this pace throughout the year, I think it will be very helpful for those times when my brain freezes up and for some reason I just can't seem to think of anything to fix for dinner. Is it only me, or is this a common ailment that happens to other women? Maybe next year my goal can be to also add a shopping list to each of the monthly lists. But for now, I think I will be more than satisfied to just have the monthly menus down on paper.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Game Day

January, 2009, is now behind us. February is before us. And this being the first Sunday in February means it is time for the Super Bowl (at least in the States). We aren't huge football fans. We don't follow along all season with the various teams cheering on our favorites. But we do always tune in to watch the Super Bowl. I think though the thing we like best about the game, is that it gives us an excuse to have lots of fun food to eat. I lay all of the food out on the table, and everyone just serves themselves whenever they get the urge for something to eat. Mexican food has been our tradition for several years. At the top of the menu are chicken fajitas, followed by Mexican rice, refried beans, chips and salsa, guacamole, a fresh vegetable tray, and last, but certainly not least, is my black bean salsa. I came across this recipe a number of years ago in a Taste of Home magazine, and it was a hit right from the start. It is one of those recipes (at least in our mind) that it is hard to stop eating once you get started. It does need to sit for a couple of hours before serving to give all of the flavors a chance to blend. Since it is a favorite of ours, I thought I would share the recipe with all of you. And as a side note, I didn't forget to add dessert to the menu. I am making a lemon jelly roll that I really need to go get started right after I finish this post.

Black Bean Salsa

2 cans (15 oz. each) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (15-1/4 oz.) whole kernel corn, drained
1 can (10 oz.) Rotel tomatoes (diced tomatoes and green chiles), undrained
1 (4 oz.) can Ortega diced green chiles
1 large fresh Anaheim chili, seeds removed, finely chopped
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
4 green onions, finely chopped
2/3 cup minced fresh cilantro
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. grated orange peel
1/8 tsp. coarsely ground pepper

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Serve with tortilla chips. Yield: 8 cups