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Monday, November 14, 2011

Great Gift Idea Monogram Photo Letters

I found this great idea on-line and wanted to make it for a certain person for Christmas, so Heather, if you are reading this....PLEASE LEAVE MISSY, lol.  The link to the original post the crafter put up is broken now, so I can't credit her post, or find her again, but I will walk you through it, it's super easy.

Here is a list of what you will need:

1 letter, I used a 22 inch paper mache letter, but you can choose smaller or wood, makes no difference.  $10
1 bottle 2 oz of black (or whatever color you like) paint.  I bought Apple Barrel gloss black. $1
1 8 oz Mod Podge (uses very little so if you already have some, use it). $5
1 Spray can of Krylon Low Odor Clear Finish (uses very little so if you already have some, use it).  $8
1 printer with black ink and paper loaded
Paint brush
Foam brush

So if you already have your printer, paint brush and foam brush, you pay full price for the above it will cost around $24.  Prices are as of today, November 14, 2011 and will vary from store to store.

Go get the letter of your choice.  There just happens to be a coupon for this week (Nov 13th - 18th 2011) at Joann's where I found mine, 50% off....WooHoo.  You can also purchase everything else there.  Have your significant other, kids, whoever you can find print out a coupon and go through the line for you as well and you can make this for around $12 or so.

Lay some newspaper down on a flat surface and With your paint brush, paint the letter black on one side and down the sides...wait for it to dry...flip it and paint the other side.

Here is the paint I used, but use what you would like and  remind me to paint my own nails before pictures of this kind!
I just squirted and smoothed....repeat until.......
You get it covered all over.
Let it dry on the first side.  Flip and paint the other side if you want.  I did, I think it looks more finished and makes it sturdier.

My letter was 2 inches across.  I put all my pics into Microsoft publisher and adjusted them to 2 inches wide.  I also brightened them, then I printed them, making sure my printer was set to do black and white printing only.  You could do color if you wanted, but I like the look of the black and white.  I tried to do a print screen here, so I could show you, but it did not want to work.  You could also use Word or even Google Docs and get the same result.

Lay out your pictures with some over lap.  This is why when adjusting in publisher, you can make some bigger so that the persons face is bigger, knowing that you will trim the background.  Once you have the look you want, start trimming.  I used a pencil and lightly made marks on the front of the picture, then trimmed carefully, not wanting to have to print anything again.  Then glue the piece down and trim and glue the next and so on. I went from bottom to the center, then to the top.  Be sure to follow Mod Podge directions, if you are like me and can't see the itty bitty, little teeny, tiny......well you get it....print on the darn bottle, Plaid is nice enough to post it all on-line, with video for us right HERE.  Then you let it dry and brush over the top, once again following the directions HERE.  Let dry.  I let mine dry over night.

Next, take it to a well ventilated garage or outside.  I put mine in a cardboard box, picture side up and sprayed from about two feet away with the Krylon spray.  You can find out the best techniques HERE.  I like to give the you the manufacturers instructions in case something goes wrong, that way you can take it up with them, not me.  Hahhha.  Here is he end product.

I think it turned out well and will look terrific on her wall.  She is a picture junkie, so this is a great personalized gift....I think anyway.  I think I will use my glue gun to place some picture hooks on back and hang it with a pretty ribbon.  I am thinking black and white stripes, what do you think?  Stripes... poka dots..solid?  You choose what you think and I will post the end result.

Merry crafting and thanks for reading.  As always, I love comments, so leave some so I know how I am doing.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

More thrifting...STOP ME ALREADY!

My thrifting money is usually whatever I get from cans and bottles.  Today I took back a bunch and bought a box of Capri Suns (Devin's lunch) and a pot pie for me.  Never get this stuff, but today, I admit it, it was good. My change was $17.49.  With the change I thought I would stop at my favorite thrift shop.  I needed a fat separator for making gravy this thanksgiving and had told my cousin I would look for Christmas books for her new baby, she wants to read a Christmas story a day during December to him.  Fabulous idea.  My favorite Christmas book is The Other Wise Man by Henry van Dyke so I was hoping to find a copy.  I knew I had to buy a new pair of pinking shears from Joann's also, so I could not spend much.

But I walked in and saw this:

Did I need that...NO!  Was it the cutest little rocking chair I have ever seen....well, yes, yes it was.  I asked her how much and she said $5 flat and I said you see the sold sign on it?  Yep, that is because I bought an antique children's rocker in great shape for $5.  Now what the heck am I gonna do with it you ask?  Mark asked too.....Well, I think I may just keep it for the time when I have grandchildren.  Devin even thought it was the cutest children's chair he had seen.  I REALLY like it. Am I defending this purchase for all I am worth right now, well, yes, yes I am.  Why?  Well look at it again.....if my behind could fit, I would be rocking for all I am worth right now.  See, look from this you can see the cute little feet.  Uhhem.......

I also found my fat separator and some cute little loaf pans.  I may be using the loaf pans for the children's kitchen I want to build from the last post.

Not sure why the picture insists on being sideways, but you can turn your neck, lol.  All of these were $1 total.

Next the books.  Did I find my favorite?  Well yes I did.....

Three are just paper backs, but still perfect for finding favorites.  They can always buy hard backs of the ones they really like later.  Cost, $.40 for all.  Yep, $.10 each.

Last but not least, my oldest daughter lives in a small apartment and has never had room for a tree.  This one will fit though and she is excited to get it!

I like real trees, but this one will work for her and not cost her money each year.  She works full time, lives on her own and goes to college.  It is a brand new, never been opened 31/2 foot tree.  It cost me a whole $1.  Have I told you how much I love thrifing?  Total cost for it all..$7.40.  I LOVE thrifting!

I also managed to stop at Joann's and using my 50% Michaels coupon (yep, they take Michaels coupons for craft type items) I got a nice pair of  Fiskars pinking shears and 5 sheets of scrap booking paper, used a 25% off from Michaels for that and it was on sale 5 sheets for $.95.  Grand total?  Well, you can see.


Won't the scrap book paper make great wall paper and carpet for the barbie house I want to make from yesterday's post?  Oh and I love when the savings in more than the total cost......YAY!  I hope you have a great time thrifting and using your coupons too this holiday season.  It will take a lot of the burden off and leave your bank account better off this season!

So I went over by a dollar or so.....have you got a point? Hahhhaaa

Monday, November 7, 2011

Christmas Ideas for Girls

Christmas is right around the corner the heck did that happen?  I know I have not been posting like I should, but stuff just keeps happening that prevents a long post.  SO, I am going to start doing short little posts (that will probably end up long) in an effort to keep you up to date on what I am doing.

I finally have some little girls in my life again, I may be reaching for them actually. Just miss the little girl fun and things, little girl things are the best, well for us girls.  You may be able to use some of this, so in researching things, I will share others posts.  Here are a bunch of great, fast, little girl projects.  I have become a great fan of the Goodwill bins for sources to get these things done.

Building a Barbie doll house out of a dresser.  I will be tackling this one this year.  Amazing!  Not hard at all....any of us could do it.  Here is the link:  Thank you Just in Designs for this one.  I think peel and stick vinyl and carpet tiles from the dollar store and some scrap-booking papers will make this wonderful.  I wonder if I can manage a roof top garden out of paint?  I have a hot tub found at a thrift store for almost nothing that will look nice up there!

As a child my cousin had a great kids kitchen and then my daughter Naelyn had one.  I love them!  My son probably played with it the most.  They inspire future chef's and if a child has never made you pizza or tea, you are missing out!  Here is a great plan for a small kitchen you can do yourself from an end table.  I think this will be a project for next year!  Thank you Land of Oz Fam for this cute post.

I personally lucked out at the Goodwill bins and walked away with this:

It cost me $3.00.  They usually go by weight, but you can ask how much for a certain item that is over weight and they will give you a reasonable price.  This is built so well I could jump up and down on it, so I consider myself more than lucky.

I had two flannel pillow cases from the thrift store that had cute little roses on them.  I got them two for $.50.  I sewed a mattress and filled with some of the roll of batting I got, brand new in the package, at the same thrift store for $.50.  Here it is with the mattress.

I made a pillow with the scraps and some more batting.

Then I made the quilt, quilted it and added yarn ties.

Had to show it with the "creepy" doll....thanks Devin, he thinks she is really creepy, lol.  This is only a 12 inch doll, but the actual mattress size of this bed is 22 inches, so this will fit a lot of different size dolls.

I am excited to give this to the little girl it goes to and not bad for around $4.00.

Hints for thrifting.  Thrift often through the year with your projects in mind.  Carry a fabric tape measure in your pocket.  My sewing one works just fine.  That way I can see if things will fit in a space or be the right size for a project.  Always think of ways you can re-purpose something.  Check out the web site of the thrift store, sometimes they have "cards", discounts or all you can.  If you know you will be digging, bring a dust mask and some gloves.  At the Goodwill bins carry in your cash or debit in a pocket and nothing else, no purse or visible jewelry.  Most of all have fun!  I do!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

First of the summer canning is done!

This summer seems crazier than previous summers.  Time is flying by and there is so much left to do.  The summer has taken it's own sweet time getting here in Oregon, so today we put up some peas.  Normally peas would have stopped long before the end of July, but ours are still going strong.  We have been referring to them as the Jurassic peas.  Given the amount of time they have been growing, the vines are HUGE.  The amount of both regular sugar snap and snow peas got out of hand this week, so I thought I would pickle some.  Here is what I did:

I cut one of my jalapeno peppers and sliced it into seven pieces
I cut as much dill as I could with out harming my plant, it was not much, maybe 4 tablespoons
Sterilize your jars and add 3 peppercorns and a jalapeno slice to the bottom of 4 1/2 pint jars and divide the rest of the jalapenos and 4 peppercorns to 2 pint and a half jars.

I added 2 1/4 cups of white vinegar to a pan with 1/4 cup of salt
I added the chopped dill
bring it to a simmer to dissolve the salt
Then I added 2 1/4 cups of cold water to it as soon as the salt was dissolved and removed it from the heat.
Next I chopped all the ends off the peas, taking out the string when needed.
I then laid my jars on their sides and packed them full of peas.  Make sure that there is 1/2 inch head space at the top of the jar.
Meanwhile, my cannier is on the stove getting hot.  We just put 2 inches of water in it.  My lids and rings are in a pan of hot water to sterilize my jars earlier.

Mark helps me now.  We fill the jars with the warm brine leaving 1/2 of head space at the top, put on the lids and rings and place them in the canner making sure the lid is locked.  Now we cranked the heat and let it come to 10 pounds of pressure for 25 minutes.  It may be different where you are.  Elevation makes a difference.  The National Center for Food Preservation can help you with the amount of pressure and times.

All pickled and lids are snapping closed.  I LOVE that popping sound.  When winter hits we will have some great snacks!

A good friend of mine asked us to go pick blackberries at a friend of hers farm in Dayton Oregon.  Devin and I went to swimming practice and then met Suzanne and her son Chad and rode to Dayton.  We were pleasantly surprised to find acres and acres of Marion berries.  Marion berries only grow here in Oregon and are huge and sweet.  Karen and Bob told us to pick all we wanted so we did.  That is Suzanne and I did while the boys chased chickens, found baby birds and petted the neighbors dog all while eating a few sandwiches and tons of peanut butter cookies!  I can home with about 5 gallons of berries, just me, that does not count Suzanne's haul.  I washed them right away and broke out the canning equipment.  Mark, bless his heart, helped me can them all, even after a long day at work.  Here is how we did it:

We cleaned and put all the berries in a large pot, adding more as they cooked down.  To this I added 3 cups of sugar and planned on adding 1 package of no sugar added pectin later, after the food mill step.  Yes, I know I added sugar, but you do want to add a little and it was one cup for every gallon, I cooked down three gallons.
 These babies are huge!  Over an inch long, every darn berry was!  I it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We used a food mill to remove all the seeds.  I find if I crank (or Mark does) 4 times counter clockwise and twice clockwise it goes the fastest.  Then simply fill your sterilized jars leaving 1/2 inch of head space at the top.  Put on your sterilized jar lids and rings.  We filled 8 pints jars at this stage and put them in the cannier for ten minutes with no pressure.  This is our syrup for the year.  What was left in the pan we added 1 package of no sugar added pectin to and then canned in 14 half pint jars for 10 minutes.  Again, if you have any question of pressure and times The National Center for Food Preservation can help you.

 Yummy and super yummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!

Next we took the whole washed berries, packed them full into four 1/2 gallon jars, leaving and inch of head space.  We added 1 tablespoon of sugar and filled with water to the 1 inch below the rim mark.  We canned them for 40 minutes in a hot water bath, no pressure.  These we will use for cobbler and pies.

Well that was our week, not including the practices and swim meets, visits with family and other crazy unexpected stuff.  What did you do?  Hope you enjoy the instructions and pictures.  Talk to you next post!
This is where we get a lot of our canning information on what and how in case you need a great book on stocking up: 

Friday, June 3, 2011


So for Father's Day this year we made a Ladder Golf game for Mark.  Some people call it Bolo or Hillbilly Golf, but whatever you call it, it is a lot of fun!  Fawn wanted one too so we bothered the guys at Home Depot together.  Our shopping trip was fun though and we brought back the simple supplies.  Of course, poor Mark got roped into setting up the power tools and we had him drill the golf balls.  Fawn and I were both afraid we would have some seriously off center holes if we were to drill them.  We used the power hand saw though and team worked helped.  I was much better at the actual sawing and Fawn was great at setting up the clamps.

If you are looking for a fun project with the kids or a fun gift, this might be the gift for you this year.  You can follow the instructions below or just buy one on-line, I will provide a link for that too.

What you need to make ladders
• 44 feet of 3/4" PVC pipe ( or 1" PVC)  buy 5, 10ft pieces
• 12 L connectors ‐ 3/4" elbows
• 12 T connectors ‐ 3/4" tees
• Saw or pipe cutter  (we used a hand power saw)
• PVC glue ( optional, we just glued the elbows and T's to the 2 foot pieces so they would not get lost, but the game can be taken apart for storage or travel.  Mark's will be camping a whole lot! )      
Cutting the PVC pieces
• Two rolls of duct tape in different colors (duct tape comes in some really cool shade these days!)
• Cut 14, 2ft pieces of PVC pipe
• Cut 16, 1ft pieces of PVC pipe
• Cuts can be made with the cutting device of your choice.   Hand saw, table saw, jig saw, etc.
• Rough edges from cuts can be lightly sanded, if you choose to, we didn't because we glued the elbows and T's to the ends of most of the pieces.

Assembling the PVC pieces
• Connect the cut pieces with the T and L (elbow) connectors
• The 2‐ft pipes will be used for the back footprint as well as the ladder rungs.  The front footprint doesn't need to be as long as the back because all the force is coming from the front. (A footprint is what is holding the game up)
• No need to use PVC glue. For tranport, it's easier to have the option of disassembly. Some people will glue everything together except for the base to ladder connection. That leaves to pieces of similar size, easy for hauling.  We glued on just the elbows and T's to the 2 foot pieces so we can break them down and take them places.
• Wrap the two foot pieces in duct tape, alternating the colors.  This helps protect the pipe from cracking if you have enthusiastic ball throwers!

How to make the Bolos  
• You will need 24 golf balls. MAKE SURE THAT THEY ARE SOLID CORE.  Paint or color in groups of 6.  We got big sharpie pens and colored them 4 different colors in groups of 6.  This allows for four players.  I have heard that some people use Rid dye on the  balls and rope, but the sharpies worked well for us.  Paint would not stick.  You can also buy balls in different colors, but they are generally a little more expensive.
• Drill a hole going through the center of each golf ball.
• You will need 12 ‐ 18inch pieces of nylon rope.
• Thread the rope through the holes that you previously drilled.
• Place a golf ball at each end of the rope.
• Tie a knot right in front of and behind the ball to hold it secure.
• Use a match or a lighter to slightly melt the knot. This will help the knot stay tied. If you made your holes a little big, you may want to wind the rope through the knot twice to make the knot a little bigger so that it won't pull back through the holes.

Now here are the rules:

Ladder Toss, Ladder golf, Bolo Toss, Polish Horseshoes, hillbilly horseshoes, Hillbilly golf, Redneck Golf, Ladder Ball, Monkey Balls, or Ladder Ball, is a lawn game for 2 to 4 people. The game is played by throwing a bolo, made of two golf balls connected with a rope, at a 3 rung ladder. Different rungs of the ladder are worth different amounts of points. The top rung is worth 3 points, the middle is worth 2, and the lower rung is worth one. The goal of the game is to get exactly (and not over) 21 points.

Top Rung = 3 Points
Middle Rung = 2 Points
Bottom Rung = 1 Points
Score is determined very similarly to Cornhole, where points cancel each other out. If you score on a rung and the other team or person scores on that same rung, the points are canceled.

Example: Team 1 puts 2 bolos on top rung, it is 6 points, but team 2 puts 1 bolo on the same rung, it cancels out 3 of the 6 points.
Play up to 21.

Alternate scoring variation:
All balls that land in the base of the ladder can be scored one. The first rung can be scored 2, second rung 3,
and top rung 4. This is helpful with younger players, and can help the game move along a little faster For the one-pointers landing in the base, only one ball must be inside the area. The exception to this is a shot that lands both balls on the outside of the frame with just the rope on the inside of the ladder area. This is the only shot that counts for a point without any ball inside the base area.

Game play
Set Up
• Place the Ladders 15 to 30 feet apart (Adjust the distance, accordingly. Shorter for younger players is fine)
• Each team will have 3 bolos. (different colors for each team)
• Players alternate throwing one bolo at a time until all 3 are tossed.
• Ladder Toss can be played with 2 people or in 2 teams of 2 or 4 individual players each with their own set.
** For two people, both stand at one end and toss the balls, then move to the other end for the next toss.
** If you are playing with 2 teams of 2, 1 person from each team will stand on each side.
** If playing individuals, just stand next to who you want to chat with!
Here are some sites I used that helped me and might give you ideas for other fun family games:

Here is a set you can just buy and wrap!  Honestly, it probably ends up costing about the same......we just had fun working together to do it......some of the time, lol.

Whatever you decide to do, have fun!  Sorry I have not posted in awhile.  I will get back to it!

As a side note, we played this until 9 last night.  Mark and I all by ourselves in the yard having so much fun.  If you know us, you know we had to be having fun if we were still outside and awake at 9 P.M.!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Medical Information We Can All Use

Medical information we can all use.  Have you ever met someone you really respected?  I mean trusted completely?  I have, let me share if you would.  I first met this man six days after I was born.  My mother had researched the best pediatricians and found Dr. Lendon Howard Smith.  We had to drive 15 miles to his office, but my mother insisted on his care, for this I will be forever grateful.
            In his office everything was my size, going to visit him was like going to a favorite uncle’s house.  He always had a warm smile and an even warmer hug.  He remembered my pet’s names and whether I was taking ballet, asked when my last swim meet was and checked on past injuries without looking at his chart.  He was the last of a dying breed of Doctors who really cared.
            Why am I telling you this?  Because he may have saved my life and prevented injury to my children years later and he, even though he has passed, may help you and yours too.  A friend reminded me of him today, his son received stitches for the first time and Dr. Smith had created the stitch fairy for me since I seemed to get them and not like them at all when I was little.  The stitch fairy made them okay.
I remember the last time I saw my Doctor, it was on Oprah (he was also on the Tonight Show 62 times) and he was talking about ADHD and ADD and how they were a farce made up by and for the drug companies (I know this will offend some, but bear with me please).  I listened intently being a young mother and followed his directions as I always had.  Meyaka (my oldest daughter, now 25), this is why you did not eat candy for a really long time and why I have always tried to cook meals rather than buy the already prepared packaged meals.  I need you to know, I am not getting anything for writing this, this is coming from the heart.  Here is a really funny video with him explaining part of it:  Wow, is this not what Dr. Oz and many others are saying now?
            I don’t keep in touch with his family, so am only guessing on some things, but I think he had a pivotal moment in the early 70’s which changed his life and career forever.  Please look these over and tell me what you think. 
            Looks to me like he got in trouble for prescribing Ritalin for hyper activity and heroin use, what do you think?  Don’t they use it for those things today?  Oh well, changed his life, mine and whole lot of other peoples.  He developed the attitude that he could cure these things without drugs.  He researched and had parents who went along with him on the diet changes needed to help these children.  He discovered that food allergies and too much sugar were to blame for much of it. "ADHD is not a disease; it is a nutritional deficiency."—Lendon H. Smith
            He then went on the write two different books on the subject Feed Your Kids Right (1979) and Food for Healthy Kids (1981).
            The real personal point I wanted to make though, was this, my mother was very thin.  5 feet 7 inches tall and 95 pounds, I was so adopted!  My parents thought a woman needed to be very skinny, as a result, Mom took me to The Weight Loss Clinic at the ripe old age of 12.  Yep, you heard me right, sorry Mom and Dad, but you were out of your minds on this one.  After this appointment she had made one with my wonderful Dr., watch out Dr. Smith, here she comes!  I so wish I could go back in time to warn him.  She walked in high and mighty talking about this wonderful program and how I would loose weight.  She showed him all the info and turned to me with a big smile and what she thought would make me want to stick with it, “Charlie, you will be able to drink all the diet soda you want.  Won’t that be fun?”  At this point, I will duck, as I did then.  The words began to fly.  He started out trying to tell her politely why this was a really bad idea.  She told him they assured her it was medically sound.  He told her I was NOT over weight and what she was purposing could have grave repercussions on my health. She told him he did not know what he was talking about.  Pretty sure he called my Mother irresponsible, lazy and nuts all in one breath.  Fairly sure she told him where he could put it and this would be the last time he would have to.  Point is, I spent that summer weighing my meat and doing everything in exact portions.  I also spent it pouring diet sodas down the drain.  I stood up to my Mother and stayed in the office for a minute as he requested, she steamed in the hall (paid for that one later).  My wonderful Dr. Smith apologized to me and told me that I would naturally loose weight with-in a year or so anyway once puberty hit.  He told me to eat all the veggies I wanted and humor my Mother.  And he said, “There is something wrong with the sweeteners in diet soda, please don’t drink it.  Trust me on this”.  I did and I am so glad I did.
            What he found later would prove him right and help many people.  Here is a short paper he wrote:  and also a series on it on YouTube:  There are seven parts to the series.  Now my children you know the story behind why Mommy would never drink diet soda or give it to you.
I did not see him again until he walked into Willamette Week Newspaper when I was 18 and working reception there.  He remembered me without having to be reminded and I got my last big hug.  He was a rebel who questioned authority and was made to stop practicing in 1987 due to his belief’s, many of which have been proven now.  I am confident the rest will be proven to have the same merit.  He must be laughing his hind end off.  Rest in peace you wonderful man and thank you for all the chances you took to protect all of us.

Lendon Smith, M.D. 
1921 – 2001

These are my personal opinions.  Please research for yourselves.  If you would like more information on Dr. Smith and his research, you can find it here:

Friday, February 4, 2011

Yellow Pages Opt Out! YAY! I can finally stop getting them and so can you.

The Yellow Pages have been a thorn in my "trying to be green" side for quite awhile.  I decided tonight to look for a way to STOP the insanity.  Thank goodness I found one and a pretty easy one at that.  Simply Opt Out of the Yellow Pages  Click on select directories, they make you make an account and send a password to your e-mail.  Then you can log on, type in your zip code and select the directories you want or don't want for your area.  Pretty simple!

You will get an e-mail that looks like this once you are successful:

Thank you Your Name Here,

The National Yellow Pages Opt-Out Site received your request on
February 4, 2011 at 10:04 pm.
Your selection:
- No copies of Portland - SuperMedia
- No copies of East County - Dex One
- No copies of Washington County - SuperMedia
- No copies of Portland Metro - Yellow Book
- No copies of Portland Plus - Dex One
- No copies of Greater Westside - Dex One
- No copies of Gtr Portland Spanish - Spanish Yellow Pages, Inc., The
- No copies of Washington County - Yellow Book
- No copies of Portland(Y)- Dex One
Will be sent to your address:
Your Name and Address here
Directory selections have been sent to the relevant publishers for 

Thank you,

-- National Yellow Pages Opt Out Site Team

They have other great things like this sustainability report too.
Hope this helps you to be a little greener like it is me!  Have a great day and let me know what you think.  I always like to hear if you like my topic choices or what you would like more of.

Friday, January 28, 2011


Itttttt’ssssss Suuuuupperrrr Bbbboooowwwllll Ttiiimmmmmee!  In other words, Super Bowl Sunday is coming soon.  I make food like it’s a holiday, not sure about you, but me…..well, any excuse.  I thought maybe this year, if I put this up early enough we could share.  I will post some of the things I am making before I make them and you can put a recipe in the comment section or on the Zombie site on Facebook, whichever you prefer.  Who knows, maybe you will end up making something I am making and I make something that you are making.

Won’t be any pictures this post as I will be referencing recipes with links.  Of course, I will tweak the recipes some when I make them here, but will take pictures then and add to this post.

I am partial to finger foods for this day.  This first one is a favorite of mine and has no links as it is my recipe.  Quick and easy and always a favorite, it’s a really easy way of doing potato skins.

Loaded Home fries

4 Russet potatoes (I cut mine in half lengthwise and then half lengthwise again and again until I have 8 slices from each half.  They will be rather thin, but that way they crisp up well)
6 slices bacon (cooked and crumbled)
2 cups sharp cheddar
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons pepper
1 teaspoon smoky paprika
2 teaspoon Tapatio (or your favorite hot sauce, if you like it hotter add more, I like mine with a little kick, so I do 3 or 4)
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil (just enough to coat the bottom of the cookie sheet)
5 green onions chopped
Sour cream for dipping

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  On your largest cookie sheet add olive oil, potatoes (this will probably take two cookie sheets), all the spices and Tapatio and mix with your hands.  Spread out evenly and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, bottom side will bee golden brown.  Take out of the oven and turn potatoes.  Careful, it’s hot.  Place back into the oven and cook checking every 5 minutes until golden brown. Remove and top with cheese and bacon, place back in the oven until cheese is just melted.  Top with green onions and serve right away with sour cream to dip them in.   You can slice a bunch of potatoes the night before and store in a zip lock filled with water, air removed, in the fridge.  When you are ready to make just make sure you strain the potatoes and remove any excess water.  These are great if you make chili too, you can dip them into your chili that has sour cream on top.  Suuuuppper Badddddd, lol.

Now let’s try a new one that is a new one for me too.  I want to try this one.  It was just posted and is a nice twist on regular spinach dip.  I can leave this one in my fondue pot to keep it warm and instead of the chips they suggest, serve it with some marbled rye bread, my families favorite.  I want stuff I can set out and forget.  That way I can play too!

Or, here is the recipe:
The Creamiest-Cheesiest Spinach Artichoke Dip
By Kimberly James
1 pkg frozen spinach, thawed
1 small jar marinated artichoke hearts
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup Tillamook Sour Cream
2 cups Tillamook Vintage White Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese, grated
1 teaspoon garlic salt (optional)
Corn chips, for serving

Squeeze all the water out of the spinach, chop the artichoke hearts, and set aside.
In a big pot over medium heat, mix the mayonnaise, sour cream, and cheese. Stir about 3-5 minutes or until everything melts together (don't heat too long or the mayonnaise will separate).  Add the spinach, artichoke hearts, and garlic salt; stir to combine.  Serve immediately in bowls, while still quite hot, with corn chips.

Or, in my case marbled rye and maybe a loaf of my own baked bread.  Thank you Tillamook and Kimberly can’t wait to dive in.  I will change a few things, like adding real garlic and salt to taste, but that’s the nice thing about recipes, you can make them your own.

Okay two down and I want at least four, plus all the normal snackies like veggie tray and chips and dip, what next?  Hmmm.  I was talking food with my friend Rose last night and we were talking Hawaiian food.  Think that is were this will lead me.  Yep, need the shrimp truck shrimp for sure.  When we all went to Hawaii, my children bothered me to figure out how to make the food that they loved there.  The shrimp was one thing they bothered me about, so here is my recipe for it.

Hawaiian Shrimp Truck Shrimp

3 pounds of shrimp peel on (if you can’t handle the peel or the mess, just use raw shrimp), but deveined
6 ears corn (cleaned and cut in half)
1 cube butter
1 Tablespoon chopped garlic
2 pinches cayenne
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons paprika
3 teaspoons salt

Melt butter in a pan.  Add garlic, cayenne, red pepper flakes and paprika.  Take out a pot big enough for corn and shrimp fill with water.  Boil water with 3 teaspoons of salt.   Add the 12 half ears of corn gently boil for 5 minutes, add shrimp and cook until just pink (it will continue to cook for a bit after you take it out of the water), remove with a spider or pour into a strainer.  Place on paper towels to remove the extra moisture.  Get out a nice serving platter and place shrimp and corn on it. Pour butter mixture over the top, sprinkle with a little salt and toss together.  Yummy.   You just peel and eat the shrimp and eat the corn.  Kinda messy so make sure you put out peel bowls and lots of napkins for this one.  Might be nice to cover the table with news papers, sports sections would make a cute table cloth.  Think I will break out the duck tape and sports sections for a cute decorating idea and easy clean up!

Need a main dish or two.  I think I will do chicken.  Don’t want regular buffalo wings….hmm.  Rose and I were talking Huli Huli Chicken too and I said I would post it for her.  I used to make this at least once a month and we have not had it in so long, sounds good!

Huli Huli Chicken

5 pounds chicken of your choice, I am doing thighs
3 cups low sodium soy sauce
½ cup honey
1 Tablespoon chopped garlic
1 Tablespoon grated ginger
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 Tablespoons corn starch

Cook chicken until just done.  I do mine on the grill, but if you want to cook it in the oven, you can cook it in a baking pan at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes.  It is done when juices run clear and top is browned and crisp.  While chicken is cooking make the sauce.

In a pan add 2 and ½ cups soy sauce, garlic. ginger, and red pepper flakes.  Add honey and bring to a simmer.  Add the 3 Tablespoons of corn starch to the remaining ½ cup of soy sauce and add to simmering sauce slowly while stirring, I only add half and see how thick it becomes.  If it is still not thick enough add the rest.  It will probably stop simmering so bring it back to a simmer, should thicken to a thin BBQ sauce consistency.  I split my sauce in half.  One half I mop with and the other I use to dip the chicken in. You just mop with this sauce like you would with BBQ sauce.  I probably do 4 coats on each side waiting a few minute between each.  Serve on a nice platter.  You can serve with your favorite cold slaw if you want.  In Hawaii we had it with a sweet and sour vinegar sauce on the cold slaw, no mayo.

I thought I would have a bunch of links and discovered I had the recipes I needed in my head.  My children will be happy that these recipes made it to the blog, this way they will have them in the future.  Hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

Well, I would love to get some recipes back, so………it’s up to you now.  Oh and if you give out any prizes here is a great little prize for someone at a great price!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Spring Cleaning

I am thinking about the end of winter.....the sooner the better in some places for some of you.  When it does end, I love to open up my whole house for a day, turn up the music and clean like a crazy person!  We have all been locked in for way too long by the end of winter and our houses need to be aired out.  With this in mind, I am thinking about it a little early this year because I plan on making my own environmentally safe cleaners.

Now, I know this sounds like a lot of work, but have you priced the majority of the cleaners?  Crazy what the word "green" does these days to the price of anything!  I plan on spending very little and getting a whole lot of clean.

Here is my first recipe.  I have tried this and LOVE it.  My kitchen is glowing.  My cabinets, which are very old and need to be replaced look great.  I won't be re-thinking the replacement, but honestly, they look better than when we first moved in five years ago, just from this one cleaning.  I have been trying everything for five years and nothing worked even close to this well!

Save the peels from 4 oranges (I put the peels in a ziplock in the fridge every time someone ate one.  You can also use lemon or lime, but only the peel, no pulp at all.)
1/2 cup plain white vinegar
Half gallon of tap water

Bring the water to a boil and add peels.  Turn of heat and let cool with peels steeping in the water.  Once cooled to just warm add the vinegar and strain.  I used a kitchen funnel to pour it into an empty milk jug.  It is just that easy and gives you a half gallon of cleaner.  I used this on everything in my kitchen, dinning and living room.  It smelled a little like vinegar for a little while and then you could only smell the oranges.  As with any cleaner, be careful with surfaces you normally clean gently.

Fancy right?  I put mine into a spray bottle and used my new Sham-wow.  Now I know you are laughing at the last. I was when we got ours in a gift basket for Christmas from Mark's work.  They always throw in some fun quirky stuff.  I really thought, hmmm, what the heck am I going to do with this thing?  So, thinking this way, I went under the sink for a rag (I recycle clothes and socks this way) and saw the Sham-wow.  It was fate.  That thing cleans like a champ!  It is so big and holds so much I only rinsed it maybe ten times.  I would have had to rinse it at least 30 or more if it had been one of my rags.  The time it saved was great!  So, WOW, lol.

Here is a great link to some other cleaning recipes:  I have not tried any of the recipes the Cha Ching Queen has listed yet, but I will be giving them a try.  I am pretty sure my mother and grandmother used some of these and positive my father used the same oven cleaner.  My Mom had asthma, so he would clean the oven that way for her.  That way she did not have to smell fumes from the commercial cleaners and possibly have an attack.  I have done a past post on the homemade laundry soap we made and we love that, use it almost everyday. You can look that up under cleaning recipes and tips on the left bar of this blog.

Any who, enjoy your spring cleaning this year, I know I will.  Just in case you need a Shamwow, lol, here is a link.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Part 2 of the Bread Post

Next thing I made was Cinnamon Rolls.  Yep, you can even make Cinnamon Rolls.  Watch!

Roll out the dough to about an 1/8 of an inch like you did for the pizza dough only I did twice as much.  Roll into a rectangle.  Spread one softened cube of butter over the surface.  Then use the wrapper to butter your baking dish.

I covered it with 3/4 cup light brown sugar and 3/4 cup of dark brown sugar.

I sprinkled it with cinnamon.  Just a light even coat.
Roll it up carefully.  I used my spatula to help me get under it.
Cut into slices about 2 or 3 inches thick.
I only cut half.
The other half I wrapped in plastic wrap and froze.  We get yummy cinamon rolls tomorrow and will not have to do any of the work!
Place in your pan, cover with wrap and let rise two hours.  While you are waiting you can make your frosting.

Here is the recipe I used:
1 pound cream cheese, softened
1 stick butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
Creme together the butter, creme cheese and vanilla together and slowly add the sugar.  Put into the refrigerator until ready to use.

Heat the oven to 350 and bake.  I checked mine after 15 minutes and kept peaking until they were done.
We iced ours individually, but you can let cool and ice the whole pan if you want.  We wanted some warm ones.  Eat with a fork.....yummmmm.
Ever happen to you?  Everyone in the house wants hamburgers for dinner and you don't want to run to the store for buns?  Make them, yep, made the buns.
Get out what you think is a small or womans fist size for each bun you want to make. I made six buns.

Shape them into small loaves by picking it up and rolling the dough under itself to make a ball.

Put them on a silpat cookie sheet or a regular one with cornmeal sprinkled on it.  Let rise for two hours or do a fast rise like I did.  You can cut the time in half by warming your oven to 100 or so degrees.  I just start to preheat to 170 for about two minutes and then turn off the oven.  I heat a small pan of water to boiling and place it on the bottom rack.  Next I put the cookie sheet with bread or buns above the pan of water and shut the oven door.  This really works well.

Bake at a 400 degrees until golden brown.

Love this grill pan.

Okay, they were really good!

Served with home fries and broccoli.  So good Naelyn's friend said she was going to marry me.  I had to tell her Mark would not like that, lol.  Enjoy.  Please post comments, it's how I know that I am being read.