Friday, January 14, 2011

Stretching the Food Budget Friday

What to do with 12 ounces of pecans??? Part 1

Stretching the food budget:  this is a skill that can net you big gains in the finance department. As a homemaker, I've had to make magic with what I have on hand.  I can make a vat of chicken noodle soup with two chicken breasts or make a few pounds of hamburger last a couple of weeks.  For our family of six, this skill is a necessity.

Coming out of the holidays, do you splurge on a few extras to make special recipes?  I do. I get all giddy when I see all those displays of nuts during the holidays because there are so many recipes that use them.  However, they are expensive.  So I bought 12 ounces of pecans for $5.99.  I had considered making a pecan pie for Christmas, but that would have taken most of the pecans and I wanted it for many other recipes.  Here is a recipe that will take something ordinary like apple pie and launch it into extraordinary with a twist using pecans.  I found the recipe while cruising through the grocery store.  They always have little free pamphlets put out by companies full of recipes using their products.  I found one by Pillsbury and it's called Topsy Turvy Apple Pie.  I'm not going to give you the apple pie recipe...use your own favorite recipe for this because we all have one, LOL!  What makes this pie amazing is this...before you assemble your pie in the pie pan, mix together the following ingredients at the bottom:  1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar, 1 TBSP. margarine or butter, melted, 1 TBSP. corn syrup, and then arrange 1/4 cup pecan halves in the mixture to make a nice design.

Now assemble your pie as if there was nothing on the bottom of the pie pan.  Here's how my pie looked before baking.

Here it is after baking.  Notice I didn't go crazy making the crust look perfect...there's a reason for that.

Immediately run a knife around the edge of the pie pan and carefully with all the skill you can muster, turn the whole thing upside down onto a platter or cake stand.  I goes against everything within you...but look at the result!

This is why it's not important what your "top crust" looks like.  It will be the bottom crust.  This pie was absolutely delicious because of the pecans and the unusual twist on an old-fashioned recipe.  I hope you try it sometime and enjoy!!!  It is absolutely delicious!  It's a great recipe that with the use of pecans, takes it to a whole other level.  Only 1/4 cup of pecans were used, so we still have plenty of pecans left for many other recipes.  Blessings to you and enjoy the nuts in your life, hahaha!

Monday, January 10, 2011

New Year's Resolution...project

I have the same new year's resolutions that I do most every year:  lose weight and get organized.  I did lose 25 pounds last year and plan on losing another 20 this year.  As far as getting organized, I know in my heart that it is a lifelong pursuit, haha!

I was going through a pile of old projects and came across a project that I've had for at least 12 or 13 years now.  When we moved into our house ten years ago, I left a space on my wall for this project.  I still have that space waiting and yet, the project is nowhere near finished.  My new year's resolution is to finish this project this year!  I can't take another is time!  I will finish it and I'm working in time mostly everyday to work on it.  It's a large cross-stitch tapestry of a peacock that I bought in a kit.  It is magnificent and will look so beautiful when I finish it.  Here is how much I've worked on it in the last 13 years:

Aren't I pathetic???!!! Just keeping it real, hahahaha!!! It's all wrinkled.  Here's a better view of this delightful little corner:

I am going to finish this thing, darn it!!!  It really messes with your eyes because it's cross-stitched onto linen so you have to work over 2 squares...I basically have to work on it during the day in full light.  I found this image on the web so you can see what the finished product will look like.

What you can't see is that there are gold beads all throughout the border and you use gold filament to accentuate (which I absolutely hate using because it's difficult to work with).  When I am done with this, I am going to get it professionally framed.  This is going to be one of those heirlooms that's passed down to my children...provided I ever get it done!!!

So, what projects do you have lurking about???  Hopefully, they haven't sat around as long as mine, LOL!  Let's make this the year of finished projects!!!  Blessings on your endeavors!!!  

P.S.  If you read my post before this one, we were without hot water for five days...I'm happy to report that we are up and running again thanks to a good friend who helped us install a new hot water heater.  He saved us a good $500 on installation and we are so very grateful!  No more bathing in the "mini-spa" as I affectionately call our 18 gallon plastic bin.  

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Homesteading in the days of yore...

Have you ever wondered how women back in the pioneer days did so much without our modern day conveniences?  For instance, just the effort to clean anything, be it household items or people, took a tremendous amount of effort because water had to be heated up by fire and then hauled to the point of necessity.  It took so much work!  Plus, water takes a while to heat up, especially in great volume.  What has me pondering about all this?

Well, my new year is starting with a bang...or I should say, a leak!  Our hot water heater is cracked and we won't be installing a new one until Saturday-so no hot water delivered to us conveniently!  Fortunately, in this wonderful modern age we live in, electricity is my friend and I have massive pots to boil water in for any use we need.  I've had to wash my dishes by hand (I'm sure you are all balking at me right now, but my least favorite chore is washing dishes by hand and my dishwasher is truly a workhorse around here!).  It has been a long time since I've washed dishes by hand and it really hasn't been that bad.  In fact, seeing how much water I save may be a turning point for me.  We shall see! 

The question arises now on how we bathe.  It's interesting because most of us don't think about this due to the fact that we have hot, running water.  With six of us, bathing is a pressing issue.  Hmmmmm.  We had to come up with something so let me show you our make-shift tub in the tub!

That's right--it's a handy 18 gallon bin just purchased on black Friday!  I boil water in my massive pot, we take it upstairs and pour it in the bin while the bin is in the tub, add cold water to bring down the temp. a little, and then proceed to bathe.  We told the kids to wash their hair and their face first, then they could sit in it (or attempt to sit in it) or stand in it and wash off.  This may seem weird to blog about, but like I said, it's not something I ever thought about before.  All I can say is that I am soooooo thankful to have the ability to heat up water fairly quickly.  I know that there are those who are off the electrical grid and all I can say is blessings to you.  This does take a lot of work and effort to have the luxury of a warm bath or shower.  What I would like to focus on now is what would we do if the electricity goes out for quite some time.  This little stint without hot water has really made me think about preparedness in these type of areas.  Hopefully, this post will make you think a little about these things, too, and if not, at least you have yet another use for an 18 gallon bin!!! 

After all this, it makes me very thankful for what we do have.  I am thankful that our hot water heater has lasted this long and I pray our next one will have longevity as well. And I am always grateful for the women who came before us working tirelessly to provide for their homesteads no matter what the circumstances!  May we all rise up and meet every difficulty that comes our way with that same pioneer spirit!  May you enjoy your hot water no matter how it gets heated!!!!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Recycled jean quilt top FINISHED!

Here we are in the new year and I have finished a project!!!  Yay!  However, I had this thing sitting around all summer waiting for only two more rows to be sewn on!  I am so thrilled to finally have the top finished!  This is going to be our massive picnic quilt!!!  It is 80" x 80".  Yeah, it's big!

I have hoarded our family's old jeans for years and now we have this to show for it!  As you can see, I included pockets and seams and a lot of sites said not to use stretchy jeans which I used, too!  Hello, it's recycling at it's finest.  Now, let me say that sewing denim is not the easiest material to work with.  I used the strongest, thickest needles I could use for my machine and I used upholstery thread to make sure the seams were nice and strong.  I didn't break any needles, but I had to help the machine along in a few places.  I had considered felting all the edges, but when I saw how much work was required per square I just went with simple blocks.  This project was too big to felt for the time I wanted to invest in it.  There are six of us in the family and I used jeans from all of us. It's so rewarding to see something so utilitarian repurposed for an even happier and more utilitarian use.

 Here's a picture of the center (sorry about the color...I just took this and had to use the's dark and my lighting is poor).  The girls always have pairs of jeans with fancy designs on them (can you say hand-me-downs).  I used a pair to make a nice design for the center of the quilt.

As I said, all the jeans we already had.  I bought brand new denim backing for a steal at Walmart when they were getting rid of all their fabrics.  The only thing I spent a good deal of money on was the batting.  With a 40% off coupon, I paid $18.00 for such a big piece of batting.  Because of that, I will be using this quilt indoors during the winter for us on our couches as we watch movies.  I really love how it turned out and now I've got to figure out how I'm going to "quilt" this monster.  I had considered buttons.  I don't like tied quilts.  I may just pick a number of squares that don't have massive seams to quilt so that this thing will stay together.  Any suggestions???  I will post another picture when all is said and done.  That won't be for awhile because my daughter is working on a fine arts project and using my sewing machine.  I will have to wait.  Until then, I hope your projects are coming together and you're finishing old ones or starting new ones!!!  I would love to hear about your projects, with denim or otherwise!  Happy quilting and happy recycling!