Monday, December 17, 2012

Advent Calendars

I saw these in a magazine last year and decided I was going to make some for this year.  I bought the fabric and it really turned out nicely...except I have four children, but only had enough fabric to make three.

I stamped these with the numbers for each day.  I hung them with care (which was quite the ordeal because we couldn't get the Command hooks to work so we just put nails in the wall, argggghhh).

I had to figure out what to do for my son.  I am a hoarder of jeans...I have finished a picnic quilt, and I have many more to do so jeans are aplenty at my house.  My oldest daughter had a brilliant idea.  I actually had a ton of old jeans from my son when he was little, so we cut out 25 pockets and here's what we came up with.

They are all of his back pockets!!!

We glittered up some tags and stamped them.  We may throw in a couple of red ribbons to jazz it up a little more, but it really turned out fun.  I hope this gives you some ideas for next year.  What kind of advent calendar do you use?  I've seen tons of different ones on creative!!!!!

Gingerbread Creations!!!

It's that time of year where we are entrenched in cookie dough and Christmas goodies.  I have finally found a great gingerbread recipe that holds up well and tastes great.  On this search, I have also encountered some fantastic cookie cutters that make life even more joyful around here!

I have searched high and low for this certain set of cookie cutters.  My name is Ginger; my nickname is Ginja the Ninja (hello, best nickname EVER!, hahahaha).  Anyways, there are these cookie cutters I have spied online, but I'm too cheap to pay for shipping, so I have been biding my time, waiting to find these little gems and BOOM, I was walking through Target one day and they were magically there.  I cried out in the store, "No way!" and bought a set on the spot.  May I introduce my Ginga the Ninjabread men cookies!!

Aren't they adorable????  But wait, there's more gingerbread madness.  Walking through said Target, I spied another cookie cutter next to my ninjas that had my creative cogs moving...hmmmm, what could I do with these.  Let me show you...

They are called "gingerdead men" which didn't seem very festive to me for Christmas (more for Halloween) so I figured a way to make these little guys funny.  Enter a handcrafted outlet and voila, I entitle it, "What happens to naughty gingerbread men."  I entered this picture in a contest on a blog I follow (Frills in the Hills) and I won a $95 Puremelt chocolate kit!  I couldn't believe it!  I don't win anything!  But this is how we do funny and festive at my house!!!

This last gingerbread configuration is one I have been doing for years.  I have a stoneware mold from Pampered Chef that I bought 14 years ago.  It's a can do gingerbread in it, chocolate, regular cookie mix.  It's been a staple around here for a long time.

I hope you are having a wonderful time with your creations out of cookie dough!  I am sending you gingerbread dreams!!!!  The recipe follows if you're interested. Blessings to you and your family!

Here's the recipe I used:

3 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp ground ginger (this is mild; if you like it spicy, add 1 TBSP)
1 3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
6 TBSP unsalted butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup molasses
2 tsp vanilla

In a small bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon and cloves.  Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat the butter, brown sugar, and egg on medium speed until it's well blended. Add your molasses and vanilla until well blended.  Gradually stir in dry ingredients until all is blended and smooth.  Divide the dough in half and wrap in plastic.  You can leave at room temp. for two hours, or do as I do and put it in the fridge for at least an hour.  Roll out your dough using two sheets of plastic wrap or wax paper. Flour your cookie cutters and cut out your shapes.  I bake my cookies on a cookie sheet with parchment for 7 - 10 minutes at 375 degrees.

Note: I actually mix my ingredients in my food processor.  It's fast and easy.  Just don't overwork it!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

From my home to yours, have a wonderful and bountiful Thanksgiving!  We have double the wonderful this is one of my daughter's 16th birthday!  What a wonderful day!!!  Have a beautiful day with your family!  Blessings!!!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Biggest secret EVER!!!

We heard something about a week ago that exists here in Colorado.  I couldn't believe it.  I would often sit in front of the tv watching shows about Alaska and the Pacific Northwest, pining away about this certain something.  Living here for the majority of my life, I just now found out that here in the landlocked state of Colorado...we have salmon!  Isn't that unbelievable???  Apparently, they are a landlocked, freshwater species that is a cousin to the sockeye. It's spawning time, and the department of wildlife nets a ton of salmon to collect eggs and puts them in their hatcheries so that in the spring they can be released. Once they do that, then they open up what is called snagging season (will discuss this in a bit).  They are called Kokanee, and this lady was very excited.  So I got myself worked up into a very fishy frenzy and we got ready for our adventure.

First issue we had:  the reservoir is over four hours away.  No problem...we just did some forward planning and woke up at four in the morning (not pleasant).  With four kids (between ages 10-17), that was fun...but they made the most of it and it turned out to be the most gorgeous day.

Second issue:  we do not fish.  We didn't even own one fishing pole.  This is where you can laugh hilariously at me!  My husband and son are hunters, but there is not one fisherman in the family.  So why even attempt this?  Well, snagging is a different kind of fishing.  You don't use a lure or a fly or bait.  You use a snagging hook, which in technical terms is a weighted treble hook.

You basically are trying to "snag" them in their body and drag them in.  Why allow this?  Well, during spawning, the salmon aren't going to go for any lures, and once spawning is done (you've seen the shows), they die.  So they allow snagging only on the salmon during this time period so that there isn't a horrendous amount of dead fish floating in the reservoir or the small little river and tributaries leading to the hatchery.  So, in my mind, no true skill is really involved.   Ahem, well, we had a few things to learn.

Issue number 3:  I was thinking this would take no real skill.  With six of us, we could all get our limits and bring home 60 salmon.  Well, that didn't quite happen.  First of all, we have very little fishing knowledge, so it took a while before we had our gear ready to go.  My husband was the only one who knew how to tie the hooks onto the line.  As we got going, almost everyone around us were catching things left and right, and we weren't getting anything. I would sit and watch to see what they were doing and learned some good things.  We talked to some of the guys around us and they told us what to do.  I felt like I had a groove going, but the day was almost done.  This is probably the last good week of snagging because we caught some salmon that had already started their decay (yes, they are still alive...they have tell-tale signs like yellowish spots of missing scales and tails that are yellowish and partially missing).  You can't eat those.  Our grand total of fish: three!  I don't feel horrible because some of these guys had tons of fish and were fishing all day, but by the time they were going home, they only took three.  They were beautiful fish, though.  We caught two males and one female.

We ate them yesterday and they were very delicious.  I wish I had more!  The eggs from the female went to our chickens, along with any stray scraps we had.  The heads are going straight into my garden bed for tomatoes...that will be wonderful fertilizer.  I had considered making my own fish fertilizer (like you buy in the store) but I read on someone's blog how he made it in Florida and a neighbor almost called the police because of the horrendous smell (they thought he had a dead body in his backyard).  Since I live in the burbs, no thanks!!! Hahahaha!

Lessons learned:  1) more fishing rods!  Because of budget, we could only have two.  That was a bit of a bummer.  2) Everyone learn to tie their own hooks!!! 3)  We did have plenty of hooks, which you need for snagging, but next time, I need smaller snagging hooks.  We had size 5/0, when really we needed size 4/0.  That's all they had in the stores around here so I have to find the right size on the internet.  

Would I go again?  You better believe it.  When you can see the salmon swimming, you know the water is ripe for the picking.  I have much more knowledge now and I am so excited for next year.  Living in the suburbs, sometimes you have to find resources that are outside your immediate community.  Take advantage.  Find some farms for produce, find some lakes/reservoirs/rivers to fish...the possibilities are endless.  I had no idea we had salmon, but now, it's on my yearly to do list!  

It was something we had NEVER done before. Sometimes you have to step outside the box.  I tell my kids, always try to learn something new.  We had a good time!  May you find a lovely adventure where you live!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Fall into Winter...

Lots of things going on around here.  We picked all the pumpkins in little backyard harvest was lovely!

The blue pumpkin (which I cannot remember its name for the life of me) was just beautiful.  It's one of the sweet pumpkins that are mostly flesh.  We cut it open and it is lovely!  I am making pies with that one.

My big field pumpkin weighed in at a little over 22 pounds.  That's the biggest one yet that I have grown!  We also have been making preparations in the garden for winter.  The coop was cleaned out and all the beautiful bedding and manure is just gorgeous...I am enhancing many of my garden beds with it.  Most of my beds can also be converted to hoop houses.  I usually use the hoop house/low tunnel in the spring for tomatoes.  I have never done it in the fall, going into winter, going into spring.  The winters here get extremely cold.  I am going to experiment with some thermal techniques.  I have three that I am using.  I have kale, spinach, and beets growing.  Of course, the weed of my garden, cilantro, is popping up everywhere.  We will see what makes it.  I think they will probably do well.  For now, they are quite snug.  We had a very light snow.  We will see how they fare once winter really packs its punch.

My husband and son have also gone hunting.  They got a large doe that yielded about forty pounds of meat! Most of that has been canned, and the roasts are in the freezer.  We have an exciting venture this weekend.  If it pans out, I will definitely post about it because it is a great secret that is worth revealing! Not only will it add to my larder, but it will do miraculous things for my garden.  Stay tuned!  I hope you all are getting your homes and gardens ready for the winter.  Blessings to you!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Creative upcycling: sewing an apron out of gently used material

Now how cute are these aprons???  I was in apron mode earlier this summer because I wanted some pretty aprons for my girls and myself and possibly to make as gifts.  I was perusing through the thrift store and saw this fabric and it immediately struck me that it would be so pretty as aprons. But this was not regular fabric; it came in a much different form, but I got inspired because of the pretty print and lace.  Here is what it looked like when I bought it:

That's right!  It's a dust ruffle.  Dust ruffles are perfect to make aprons because they don't get much wear and tear, plus they have beautiful prints.  The tag said $6.99, but lucky me it was the color tag that was 50% off so I got this material for $3.50.  I made the three aprons you saw above, plus I have enough to make 3-4 more.  That is an amazing savings.  All I did was cut the print material that shows from the flat sheet portion that goes between the two mattresses.  I made a simple continuous tie and sewed that on.  In the first picture you can see I made one that was's so pretty that way that I got to thinking how cute this would be to make little girl skirts as well.  Really, the possibilities are endless!  You could even make some pretty valances for your windows.

Speaking of valances, here's what I used to make adorable aprons for two of my nieces.

It is actually a valance, but I thought the print was sooooo sweet and would be perfect for little girls. What I like about using these gently used fabrics to make aprons is that most of your seams are already in place.  I am no seamstress...I can quilt, but putting in lace and ruffles is not something I am good at so why not get it already in place? Here's what it looks like on my sweet niece:

I made this at home so I didn't have a size reference when we visited on vacation, but it just fits her.  I made another one for her younger sister and that one she'll have plenty of room to grow in.  These are just some ideas on how to think outside the box when you need to make something.  Fabric is so expensive so why not look at garage sales and thrift stores or even your own home for inspiration.  I would love to hear what you are upcycling!  Be blessed and be inspired!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Delicious Recycling

Stick a spoon in me because this is just delicious!!!!!!!!  Saw on another blog post about these cans at Target.  Well, they are so graphic and have such fun colors that I had to get a set.  For $0.75 a can, not only did I get soup, I got the best colored pencil holders around.  I just washed out the cans, being careful of the labels, and dried them out well.  I couldn't help it...and my youngest daughter was so excited that she organized by color group according to the labels and was so inspired that she just had to go color something.  Love it!  May you find inspiration in a can!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Summer's end update...

Wow...I can't believe we're in the middle of September already.  I started the kids' school right after Labor Day.  We also went on vacation at the end of August so I am literally two weeks behind where I should be.  I was thinking I should probably wrap up the summer.  The garden got a bit neglected this year as two of my kids were going to do a major competition and it required a lot of our time.  I still have a lot of tomatoes and my pumpkins are in particular is the largest I've ever grown.  I'm anxious to see what it weighs!  In a few weeks it should be ready!

I've been doing quite a bit of canning.  Remember all those raspberries I told you about from my yard?  Well, I used them all up (all ten pounds) for my yearly jam session.  This year I tried many different varieties of jam.  One delicious creation has raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries.  It is delicious.  I also make a mango+raspberry=the sweet nectar of God!!!!  Oh, it's good!  Then there's the new this year: raspberry + peach.  All in all, I made 62 half-pints & pints.  While I was finishing up my jams, lo and behold, peanut butter went on sale for $1.49.  We have been skimping on the peanut butter around here because it is so WICKED expensive.  This sale did it for me...I have enough for a year (I hope).   I am not one of those people who likes to stockpile for ten years worth of food...I just want enough to last us for a bit.  I know prices are going up and I just want to be prepared.  I also canned up a bunch of peaches and some peach jam.  I also got in a salsa session.  I think I will need another bushel of tomatoes because I need to make some more.  I'm hoping to do some beets.  I have pictures to share from our vacation that goes hand in hand with canning.  Plus, there's been a lot of crafting/sewing going on, too. I hope you are winding down from the summer.  We are enjoying some cooler temperatures here because this summer was a scorcher.  Blessings to you!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Garden Harvest

Here is my haul from yesterday (plus one more egg).

The garden is slower this year because of some unforeseeable happenings that took place at the beginning of June, but the garden is starting to crank up now and I need to get back on track.  I will be putting in the fall garden (I know, I really need to get moving) and hopefully I can get some more produce.  My tomatoes are going like gangbusters, but no ripe ones yet.  Maybe within the next two weeks I'll get some tomatoes.  The peppers are just gorgeous.  I roasted them and will probably put them with the eggs.  The raspberries are almost done producing for this season.  I think I have about ten pounds in the's time for me to make some jam!!!  The beans are just now coming in.  They are so beautiful.  It's a French pole filet bean...they are nice! Even with this heat, I still have's only because I have cilantro shading it.  So, still taking advantage.  I hope you are having great harvests.  It's been hard with the heat, but the peppers and tomatoes are loving it (me, not so much)!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Cow appreciation day!

Here's what we all looked like going to Chick-fil-A today.  Four of us were under this "cow costume" and we were sweating like cows!!!!

It was a fun time!  My daughter was the head of our family heifer!  We were a bit creative with her face.

Here's one last look...

Hope you had a fun day with a free meal!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Introducing our Chunnel: the chicken tunnel

I turned the big 4-0 last month and my husband made me something very special (which my husband tells me ordinary women would not even want)! Let me take you on a visual tour.

This is at the back of my suburban homestead.  I am standing right next to the coop.

To the left of the coop is the run.  For a year this was all the space the chickens had and I knew they needed more room.  On top of the run is a new is my lettuce box.  It provides shade for the chickens and protects them from the rain so they can still be outside.  I can grow on top of the run without losing any space.  Space is a premium here in the suburbs.  I had to figure out how to give the chickens more room without taking anymore garden space.  If we extended this run to the left, it would sit right on top of one of my prime growing areas.  So here is our solution:  a chunnel.  That's right...a chicken tunnel.

Directly to the left of the run is the juncture where the chunnel connects to the run.

Then we travel more to the see the chunnel behind my pea trellis and some chickens looking for some treats.

Then the chunnel turns the corner and heads down the western side of my yard along the fence.  I had such weeds that grew here...and now you can see not a single thing is left growing!!!

And here is the scene that causes me the most amount of joy!!!!  Every time this happens I giggle like a school girl.  All I have to do is call the girls and they come a runnin'!!!!  I am at the very end of the chunnel.  They run like there is no tomorrow and it is so fun to watch! (note: do you see there is no longer one green thing along the side of the fence!)

This side of the yard gives them lovely shade in the heat of the afternoon.  I have to say, living in the suburbs I have to protect them from lots of critters...we have foxes and birds of prey everywhere.  This is as close to free range as we can get for them and they don't need supervision.  The chunnel is very secure and they are indeed much happier!!!

This is the very end of the chunnel and it has been fun showing you our solution of adding more room without taking much space!  Hope you have enjoyed this post.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Awesome me!

I just found this gem at one of our Goodwill stores today.  Let me tell you, the vultures were circling with this one!  I practically had a lady follow me throughout the store and a gentleman was complimenting how well-made it was.  I paid $14.99 for this baby.  It is a Drexel nightstand and in perfect condition.  I am always all over bloggy land looking at all the DIY furniture makeovers and am astonished and jealous of the outcomes.  This is the first piece that I've really found that I want to redo.  Here's the dilemma:  what should I do????  It already has a fabulous look to it, but how could I make it more fabulous???  I like the cottage look and shabby chic, but I also like high Victorian.  One style I am not particularly fond of is modern so traditional would best suit me.  If you have any suggestions or links, I would be utterly grateful!

Here's the furniture stamp inside the drawer.
I am also not hung up on it being strictly for the bedroom.  I think canning jars full of jam would look absolutely quaint.  I have no idea what to do with this piece, but I'm excited for the possibilities.  I'll keep you posted!!!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Tomatoes and such

It is definitely that time of year and I think I have finally got a jump on summer by getting my seeds in early under lights!!!  Yay!  The tomatoes are doing quite well!  I've got my light system set up in the basement.  Always remember to handle your seedlings...if they are robust seedlings like tomatoes, you can run your hand over the tops of them.  This activates them to grow more "hearty" as if wind was blowing on them.  It gets them nice and strong.  You could also use a fan.  I also have many flower seedlings started as well as some herbs.  I am still way beyond my frost date here, but I will be putting things out in the garden under much cover in about about a month and a is the only way to get summer tomatoes in Colorado!  It can stay cold here until the first of June, seriously!

I also have strawberry jam processing as we speak in my canner.  There have been some great sales on strawberries so I can say I have my first canning session of the year under my belt!  I did a crazy amount of canning this past summer, but failed to document it all on this blog.  I've been incognito for awhile but I am getting followers without me blogging about anything so I figure I need to get inspired and get writing!  It's just a busy life and I try to keep my priorities straight!!!  Thanks to all of you who have discovered my little blog here...I will try to be better about showing up!  I appreciate you guys so much!

Are you starting any fun garden projects where you are?  How about any winter projects like cozy quilts??  As for me, I need to update the blog and of course, there are a million projects to work on.  I am trying to be more intentional about my gardening.  Last year, I harvested about 125 pounds worth of food...I can't even tell you how many eggs we've gotten so far.  It's been crazy!  I absolutely love the chickens and I'm hoping we'll continue to have a stellar year.  There's my quick update and I'm hoping you all are feeling the itch for spring!  Blessings to you!

Tray of tomatoes...what am I going to do with all of these, hahaha!