Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Practical Gift

Gift baskets have many possibilities. Typically they are theme oriented, which is a very fun thing to receive. But sometimes a blend of many things can be especially fun to give and receive. My sweet mom just had a birthday; and so I decided to give her a gift basket filled with practical things. It was filled with tea, cotton yarn, sugar free candy, a new dish towel, note cards, a package of colorful pens, stickers, forever stamps, and new slippers. At least that is what I can remember that went into it. I didn't get a picture after it was all wrapped up, but one of my daughters had a great idea for the wrapping. We purchased a yard of blue and a yard of purple tulle, and wrapped that around the basket. It was then tied with blue and white polka dot two inch wide ribbon. Even though you can see through the tulle around the basket, it really did make for a pretty presentation.

Friday, March 27, 2009

A Little Closet for Sewing Supplies

I have an extra room in my house that we use as a computer room, classroom, sewing, and craft room. Since none of those activities need a closet, my husband converted the closet in the room into a storage space for my sewing supplies. I don't think I could ever have too many shelves in my house, and these particular shelves are extremely handy.

I keep a stack of fabric on them:

Sewing supplies are organized and kept in a variety of storage boxes:

Embroidery floss is organized by color number in plastic boxes. This particular box was originally intended for fishing supplies:

And I even have some floss that I dyed myself:

I also keep my sewing thread in a plastic box, books on the shelves, a variety of cute ribbon, and jars filled with buttons. I honestly don't think I could ever have too many jars of buttons. I'm not sure why, but they just fascinate me.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


I have a large piece of linen toweling that my mother-in-law gave me at one time. It used to be purchased by the yard, and was used to make kitchen towels out of. The edges are all finished, and when a new towel was in order, all that needed doing was to cut off the appropriate length from the toweling, hem the two ends, and a new towel would be all ready to grace the kitchen. Recently, I discovered that Moda now sells toweling yardage. It is made out of cotton instead of the linen, and comes in several colors. I purchased several yards of the red/blue and the yellow/green combinations.

Because it is made of cotton, I decided to pre-wash the yardage first, and cut it after it had shrunk. I cut my pieces 27 inches long, and hemmed the top and bottom edges. The towels would have been ready for use after this simple finishing; but I decided to go ahead and add some embroidery just for fun.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Sloppy Joe Seasoning Mix

In a previous post, I shared a recipe I have for making your own taco seasoning mix. I also have a recipe that I use now and then when I make sloppy joe's. It is also from my "Make-A-Mix Cookery" cookbook. Just like the taco seasoning mix, this mix can also be made up ahead of time and stored in small foil packets in your freezer. Even though it only takes a couple of minutes to mix it up when needed, it is also handy to have them pre-made and ready at a moment's notice.

Sloppy Joe Seasoning Mix

1 tablespoon instant minced onion
1 teaspoon green pepper flakes
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon instant minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
1/4 teaspoon chili powder

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl until evenly distributed. Spoon mixture onto a 6-inch square of aluminum foil and fold to make airtight. Label. Store in a cool, dry place. Use within 6 months.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day

My dad was 50% Irish, with his father being 100%. 50% though was all my dad needed. It was as good as 100%. There was never much talk about his other 50%. As far as he was concerned, he was a true Irishman. Therefore, St. Patrick's Day was always celebrated in our household. Later on when I got married and moved out of my parents' house, a St. Patrick's Day never went by without receiving a card from my dad and mom. I still like to celebrate on this day, and as I sit at the computer with my shamrock socks on and a corned beef in the crockpot, I wish you all a very Happy St. Patrick's Day. And I would like to end this post with a little poem that my dad taught me when I was younger. I have no idea of its origins, but this is how I remember him teaching it to me:

I met a little leprechaun down where the shamrocks grow.
I asked him why he stayed so small, and why he didn't grow.
He frowned his brow, and with his eye, he looked me through and through.
"Well, I'm as big to me he said as you are big to you."

Monday, March 16, 2009

My Fabric Stash

There is something about fabric that really gets my attention. I could spend hours in a fabric store looking from bolt to bolt thinking of the many possibilities that could be made with this fabric or that fabric. So needless to say, over the years I have collected quite a bit of fabric. It is so nice to have a wonderful collection to work from. The one problem though is that through the years my sewing area has moved from place to place throughout the house. During those transitions, my fabric has gotten packed away here and there. Now I am at the point where I have to spend time looking for fabric when I would much rather be able to just reach for it when a particular piece is needed for a project. So yesterday I decided it was time to start organizing my fabric. This will be a big task, and will take some time. In the long run though I know it will be worth it. Yesterday's task was to begin going through a plastic bag that is filled with small scraps left over from various projects. I cut them into various sizes of strips and squares, and organized them by size into manila envelopes that were labeled on the outside. These will be perfect for scrap quilts. I also gathered up several of my one yard cuts of fabric, folded them all the same, and placed them in a cute 7" x 7" x 7" box that I have. I was very surprised to find out that I could actually fit 10 yards of fabric in this small box. It makes such a difference when they are all folded in exactly the same fashion. That is as far as I got yesterday; and hopefully I won't lose interest in this task, because I can imagine how nice this will be when completed.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Dancing with Daddy

My dad and mom were married back in the 1940's. It was a time when dancing was a popular pastime for many people, my parents included. Not only did they dance, but both of them really enjoyed it. I can remember on holidays when we would all be gathered together, one of us would make a request asking them to please dance for us. They never hesitated. The music was turned on, and they would proceed to jitterbug to the enjoyment of us all. I wish that we would have had a movie camera, because it would certainly be fun to watch all over again.

What brings this all to mind, is a song that my youngest daughter has been listening to recently. It is "Cinderella" by Steven Curtis Chapman. The story line is basically that of a little girl wanting her daddy to dance with her at different phases of her life as she grows up. Her daddy never refuses because he knows that she will grow up all too soon. I was blessed with a daddy who used to dance with me. I can remember feeling absolutely delighted when he would hold my hands and let me stand on his shoes as he danced around the room. This happened many times, and whenever I would ask him, he never refused. I am very thankful to have such vivid memories of dancing with him. So if any of you have a little girl, talk her daddy into dancing with her. It will be a wonderful memory maker.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Ice Crystals

God's creations are so magnificent. Even little tiny ice crystals are amazingly detailed. This is a picture taken of the place a hood ornament is supposed to go on my daughters' car. I hope you can see the details. They are amazing.

(And as a side note, just in case someone thinks I made a mistake with my apostrophe above, I do have two daughters that share this car.)

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Pie Birds

A few years ago, I happened upon a couple of cute pie birds. I thought how fun it would be to pull a hot pie out of the oven and have a cute pie bird sitting in the middle of it. To be quite honest though, I have never used mine. It is not that I haven't wanted to though. Typically, I will finish off my pie with the top crust, and then think of it. It is my understanding that you want to set a pie bird in the middle of your bottom crust before you add the filling. The top crust is then placed over the top of the bird with a hole in the crust where the bird fits through. I have even read that when your pie is done, the bird will sing as a result of the steam going through it. I think that might only work with certain birds, although I am not certain. In the meantime, I use mine for decoration. My red cardinal is out in the winter months, while my sweet little bluebird is out in the spring and summer months. They look very sweet sitting next to a vase of flowers. At the present time though I have both of them out because even though it is March 8th, and spring is supposedly almost upon us, our snow has never left; and in fact it has been snowing both last night and this morning. So while we are waiting for warmer spring weather, both of my little birds will be gracing my kitchen with their presence.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Identifying a Mystery Plant

My mother-in-law has the greenest thumb of anyone I know. Her houseplants are always gorgeous without a speck of dust or a brown leaf on them anywhere to be found. This is one of her favorites at the present time:
Whenever she clips it back, she just can't resist putting the cuttings in water to root. She has given us several of these plants that she has started in this fashion. There is only one problem, she doesn't know what kind of plant it is. I'm not real sure either. My guess is that it is a variety of a Wandering Jew, but I really don't know for certain. Currently, it has the sweetest little tiny white flowers:

I thought perhaps if any of you out there know the actual type of plant, you might be kind enough to pass that information on so that our little plant mystery will be solved once and for all.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Chocolate and Peanut Butter

I am a die hard fan of chocolate and peanut butter. I really cannot resist this combination. When I see recipes that use these two ingredients, I will try them, or at least put them on my list of recipes to try. A combination of chocolate syrup and peanut butter is a favorite ice cream topping that I will indulge in now and then. My kids all know my fondness for these two ingredients. So recently when my daughters saw that Ghirardelli had come out with a new candy, they knew it would be a hit with me. And it has been.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Cinnamon Toast

When I was growing up, occasionally we would have cinnamon toast for breakfast. It's not the healthiest of breakfasts, but when we would have it, it was certainly a treat. I have also continued the tradition with my kids. Just in case there might be some of you not familiar with what cinnamon toast is, it is simply a piece of buttered toast sprinkled with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. My mom always had a mixture of cinnamon and sugar on hand in her pantry. Making the mix is so simple. I just take some white sugar and mix in cinnamon until it is just the right color. You can actually buy a jar of cinnamon sugar in the grocery store by the spices. I found that very surprising the first time that I saw it because I couldn't imagine anyone paying for the mixture when it is so easy to make. I have always just kept my mix in a jar or a small plastic container until I found this cute little bear:

I purchased him from King Arthur Flour, and it really does make having cinnamon toast that much more special having a little cinnamon bear to keep the mix in.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

A Farm Chicks Giveaway

The Farm Chicks are having a "giveaway" over on their blog. The gift is a surprise; but they have such cute ideas, I imagine whatever it is will be fun. So if any of you are interested in entering, you might take a look here. The deadline to enter is March 5th.