Sunday, October 3, 2010

Fall Pumpkin Project

I chose 2 coordinating fabrics for this project. 
Cut 3 pieces from each of the fabrics (since it is folded, I cut 3 sets of each,
so I could make 2 pumpkins)

Cut 2 for the stem (this is of felt) 
Here are all the pieces needed for this project.  If you want me to email you the patterns
let me know in the comments

Start by sewing 1 of each of the different fabrics together along one edge.  All seams are 1/4 inch.

Add in each piece, alternating the fabrics.

Until you have all six pieces sewn together - then join the first piece and the last piece, being sure to leave an opening along the edge for stuffing.

What you have will look like a deflated beach ball!

Begin stuffing the pumpkin very tightly - it actually took 1/2 of a bag of stuffing!

Whip stitch the opening by hand with small stitches.

Sew the 2 pieces of the stem, leaving the bottom open.

Then carefully turn it right side out.

And stuff tightly

Sew the edge corners of the stem to the pumpkin with several stitches (yes, I know I need my nails filled...)

Almost done!
I thought it needed a little something else, so I tied 3 pieces of raffia around it - pulling it a little tight to give it some shape.  Of course, this should probably be done before sewing in the stem, and that's what I'll do when making any additional pumpkins.  The nice thing about them is that you can keep them out from September through November! Happy Fall!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Best Baked Beans, Ever

The cast of characters: Pork and Beans, Dijon mustard, White vinegar, Barbeque Sauce and Brown Sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees

Fry up 8 slices of bacon - halved.  Move to paper towels.  Reserve 1/4 cup of bacon drippings and leave in the fry pan.
Dice 1/2 of a green bell pepper
dice 1 medium onion
Add onions and peppers to fry pan drippings and saute until tender - about 5 minutes.  Add 4 cans pork and beans, 3/4 cup barbeque sauce, 1/2 cup brown sugar. 1/4 cup white vinegar and 2 Tbs. Dijon mustard (or 2 tsp. dry mustard may be substituted)

Pour into a greased 9x13 pan and top with bacon slices.  Bake at 325 degrees until bubbly and sauce is consistency of pancake syrup - about 2 hours. 

Let stand to thicken slightly and serve.

These beans taste like you started from scratch, with soaking the beans, etc.  Really good!!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

What's Your Love Language?

Do you know what your Love Language is?  There are 5, actually, and a test to learn which one is yours. The 5 Love Languages are-  Words of Affirmation; Quality Time; Acts of Service; Receiving Gifts and Physical Touch. 

I didn't need to take the test to know that mine is Receiving Gifts.  I love getting gifts!  Now I'm not talking about huge things (although don't count them out) but little things.  Like when my husband comes home with a box of Sour Patch Kids, because he knows I like them.  Or when I get in to work and see that my assistant (and very good friend!) has gone to the bakery and left me an almond pastry on my desk.  Or when the man that lives in the apartment above our office drops by with a little box of candy because he is grateful that we put his newspaper in his door each day (sadly, on Saturdays someone steals his paper when we are not there to rescue it).  Now, food is not the only way to my heart, although probably the cheapest - it can be anything, even as simple as a note that affirms our love; friendship or relationship. My daughter in law and I both own a Nook e-reader.  I feel gifted when she "loans" me a book that she enjoyed.  I need to reciprocate, but I have not yet found any "loanable" books that I want to buy - but I'm trying! 

So here are the rest of the results of my Love Languages test:

Receiving Gifts - 33%
Acts of Service - 30% (for me, I find that this is similar to receving gifts)
Quality Time - 20%
Words of Affirmation - 17%
Physical Touch 0% (ok this disturbs me, as I do enjoy a good hug from practically everyone....really, this makes me seem untouchable - and I think I'm married to a "Physical Touch" person....I have to work on this one)

Maybe to someone who has a different Love Language, the Receiving Gifts thing seems shallow - but I can't help it.  This is the way I feel affirmation.  And because this is the Love Language that is familiar to me, I tend to be a gift giver, which is great if the person I am gifting has that same Love Language.  It's not always easy to figure out someone elses' Love Language, but can be interesting to try to find out.  Take the test - what's your Love Language?  Feel free to put it in the comments!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Summer Pasta Salad

I have always loved a good Pasta Salad.  It's such a great salad to make in the summer, what with all of the great vegetables that you can get at the Farmer's Market.  There were plenty of times on a hot summer night that this would be our dinner.  I would pack it full of everything I could find, mix it up and feel good about not heating up the kitchen to make dinner.  This filled us up plenty!  You can really put in anything you like - this is what I had on hand, but I have been known to add mushrooms, brocolli, corn, ham, turkey and loads of whatever I had available.  The sky's the limit!  Oh, and really, there is no measuring involved - just add away!
Start off with a box of Tri-color Rotini, cooked al dente - 8 minutes.  You want the pasta to be cooked, but not overcooked. Overcooked causes it to lose it's color and fall apart when you try to mix it up.  

Then, start adding whatever you would like - Green olives, drained and halved...

Black Beans, drained and rinsed....
Black Olives, drained and sliced...

Grape tomatoes - whole (these are small enough to leave as is.  I find that cutting the tomatoes makes it too soupy, so leave them whole).  If you use cherry tomatoes, slice them, but scoop out the seeds and membranes.

Green onions sliced - both white and green parts

Tri color peppers - red, orange and yellow - so pretty and fresh!

Don't leave out the green bell peppers - they want to belong too!
I love to add summer sausage and pepperoni - gives it some great flavor and texture.
Block cheese cubed - this is Monterey Jack and Colby

Now, how pretty is this? 
Dump a bottle of ranch dressing into a bowl, and mix in some dijon mustard.
Pour it over the top...
...and enjoy!!!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Memories of the Sun

Given the fact that we have had nearly non-stop rainy days, I thought I would finally put up my post about the wonderful bike ride my husband and I took a couple of weeks ago.

Last year Tony and I gifted each other with brand new bikes for our 50th birthdays.  Aren't they beautiful?  Both are basically the same style - his is a darker blue and mine a nice powder blue.  You'll notice thart mine has the larger seat - we bought it special for me for more comfort of course!

We are fortunate enough to live between 2 bicycle paths - both of them former railways. We have both the Illinois Prairie Path and the Great Western Trail and they are equal distance from our house, one in each direction. Usually we ride on the Prairie Path, but it has become very crowded with walkers, bikes and runners, not to mention dog walkers, and it makes it pretty difficult to maneuver a bike - especially when you don't ride often enough to be fully adept at it. We chose the Great Western Trail for our Sunday morning ride. There was not a cloud in the blue sky, and it was neither too hot nor too cold - in the words of Little Red Riding Hood it was "Just Right".

I took all of these pictures from my cell phone, so the quality is not that great, but the day was beautiful and the sights interesting. 

Wild flowers were growing all along the trail - these pretty white flowers, and there was also purple clover and bright yellow wild daisies.

This picture absolutely does not do it justice, but this was a beautiful backyard that had a cute brick path that led it's way from the yard up to the bike path.
Getting up the hill to ride over the four lane I-355 was quite a breathless experience, but pausing on top to check out the traffic (not to mention the construction) was fun.  It was breezy up there, and a great way to cool off after pumpoong our way up there.
This was an indoor pool house with solar panels in someone's back yard.  I've decided that my next home will be up against a bike trail like this.  So peaceful and scenic!

We are hoping to get some better weather this weekend so that we can ride again.  I'll be sure to bring my camera this time, as the phone pictures just don't cut it1

Sunday, June 6, 2010


We have a lot of games - we like games.  Game Night is one of my favorite things, but it does not happen often enough, if you ask me.  Scrabble is a favorite of ours.  Last night we played Yahtzee.  My personal favorite is Balderdash.  If you look closely, you will see a preponderance of a certain game.  Look closer....

Now tell me...does one really need 5 different versions of Trivial Pursuit??

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Garden Materializes

My tools of choice for this project

I began by defining the area for the garden - and since I did not have the energy to try to remove that big boulder, it defined the back end of the garden.  Again, using that great narrow shovel with the straight blade helped to keep the line straight.

This is an awesome tool - spade on one side and "forked tongue" on the other.  Really helps get the surface weeds loose and break up the clumps of dirt.

Pretty well defined - it looks crooked, but it's not - just the camera angle - yea, that's it - the camera is at a weird angle...

Raked out the excess weeds/grass

Now to keep the critters out

I bought some cheap "granny garden" fencing...

...and lined it all along the outside of the garden.

Then I took rolls of poultry netting and plastic zip ties...

...and attached the netting all along the "granny fence"...

...using the zip ties to keep it all in place.

i used (3) 10 foot packages of the green fencing and (3) 24" x 10 foot rolls of poultry neeting

It's a fairly small garden - I have 3 pepper plants, 6 cherry tomato plants, 1 roma tomato plant and 1 Big boy tomato plant.  With any luck, everything will grow as it should, and I'll have plenty of my 2 favorite veggies!