Monday, July 28, 2008

Getting ready for the fair ~ Projects 6-10

Sorry I haven't blogged much lately. Life has been very busy! We have had company(Ken's parents) for over a week (They left yesterday), More company over the weekend, we have been building a booth for the fair, getting all of our fair projects ready, picking berries as much as possible and just doing all the other normal things that we need to do.

Yesterday was a big day for getting stuff done for the fair. The picture above is a wreath that I made (decorated) using forest materials. Below is Mara's for that same category except in the kid's section.

My pictures that I had ordered finally arrived yesterday so I was able to frame up a bunch to take. I have around 8 frames with pictures in them. Above is a sample of a color grouping and below is my color picture of Jonathan.

And then we have Mara's Christmas decoration~ a little skier. We actually got more than that done but I haven't gotten it all photographed yet.

Friday, July 25, 2008

A slipcover story

Something that we haven't spent a lot of money on since we have been married is furniture. Furniture can cost a lot and we didn't really have a lot available to spend. But we have been very blessed with having used furniture given to us or finding stuff second hand. Not long ago our living room was looking in pretty sorry shape however, when my family came to visit they would groan as they sat on the couch, as it wasn't very comfortable and the couch and chairs were just looking frayed (see picture on right) and dirty.

It was time to figure something out. After much thought and shopping we did decide to buy a brand new couch. That took a ton of discussion. Ken and I basically like the same colors but the style we liked was quite different. So we compromised and found something that both of us are happy with. (A bit bigger than I prefer and a bit smaller and less cushy than he preferred.) It was an additional blessing that the one we ended up chosing was a hide-a-bed.
When getting the couch we kind of looked at chairs but I didn't really want a matching set (partly because then I think it just looks like you transplanted a showroom setting in your house) and also because the expense added up really quickly! Ken didn't like the idea of bringing a new couch home to sit with very old and rather ugly other chairs. The solution: Make slipcovers!

I had made a slipcover previously for this chair but last year my dear daughter (picture above) took a permanet marker to it, right in the middle of the back (not the back back ,but you know, the front back) and so I had taken it off (as purple doesn't look all the great on beige) and put it aside thinking I would just use the good fabric some other way.

I thought I would buy new fabric (possibly in dark green or a green and brown print) but when I went to the store I came up with nothing! Now what?
I did have some dark green fabric on hand that would have worked nicely but I didn't have nearly enough. So after some playing around I decided to have a layered look. I have green on the back (with green and tan plaid on the edges that is leftover from the curtians) and then again on the arms (to cover up some marker there) all of the fabric I stiched firmly in place. The chair doesn't look quite like one I would chose at the store, but it does look better and I think it might look kind of country style, which is kind off what I am aiming for. I also got done with using completely what I already had, which is very nice!

Our rocker was done in blue (which was a color we were getting out of this room) and had some stains, I have some more fabric (actually the slipcovers I had made for a chair that we decided to get rid of) which I was able to peice together to make some slipcovers for this rocker. This project was fairly easy and the lines are not very complicated.

I decided to do a strip of the green and plaid around to tie it in with the other chair (and to cover up some piecing that I had needed to do) and so this is a closup of the fabrics and the bow that I decided to have in the back.

I had a lot of fun working on this project. I find it so very fun to make my home a more pleasent place to be while using what I already have!

I have a little (pretty little) of the fabric leftover (all 3 of them) and I was trying to think of some way to use them in the room. Do you have any ideas? I thought about maybe a strip of the plaid around the bottom of the lampshades, or around the bottom of the chair slipcover or using the fabric to make a small quilted piece for on the piano or making a bow on a wreath or something. What do you think?

Here are some links if you would like to try making slipcovers for your furniture:

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A boat ride

We had a fun time on Tuesday. We went to a small lake not far from us that has a peninsula in it that is full of Juneberry trees and blueberry bushes. Our goal was to pick a bunch of Juneberries. It was a beautiful evening but unfortunately there weren't a lot of Juneberries, it looks like many of them may have gotten frozen with the late frosts. Mara (above) decided to go wading and pick water lilies instead.
I did find this bush with quite a few berries on it. We didn't get a lot of berries but we did get some, and some is better than nothing!
Here is most of the group in the boat.
Ken and Jonathan. Jonathan got to try steering for a while which he found quite fun.
Granddad and Nana enjoying the ride.

Have you had any fun family outings lately? Please share. :-)

Getting ready for the fair ~ project # 5 ~ a bag

Jonathan's recent project for the fair was sewing a bag. He used some fabric that came from some sweatpants and also a sweatshirt. It is a pretty simple bag but it does have a pocket on the side and a strap to carry it with.
Here he is busy getting things cut out.
And busy sewing. This was his first time to try sewing on the machine and he figured it out quite quickly. (He loves working with machines!) He got to do a lot of sewing as we had to do some piecing with the fabric. He also got to learn about using a seam ripper as not everything went perfectly.
Mara is also working on a sewing project, but hers isn't done yet so you will just have to wait. :-)

Do you remember when you first learned to sew (if you do)? What was your first project?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

WFMW ~ Perennials

I love flowers and plants and I am also a busy wife and mother of 4, my solution that works for me is lots of perennials! They are so nice because you plant them once and they keep coming, over and over again!

When you buy perennials as plants they are usually a little more than annuals but over the long term you save a lot because you just buy them once and then you have them for years. Perennials can also be started from seeds which are usually close the same price as annuals. Sometimes they won't bloom the first year, so don't be too disappointed, just patiently wait til next year.

You can also often get perennials for free. As the grow they tend to get crowded and every so often they need to be thinned out in order to grow well. Also bushes like lilacs tend to send up little shoots all over that are generally mowed down. If you find somebody that has an old place you can nicely ask if they would mind if you got some starts from them. It is likely they would be more than happy to comply especially if you nicely help them thin all of theirs.

Over all Perennials have a huge variety to choose from, they come back year after year which saves you money and time and they are beautiful. That works for me!

p.s. you might find a lot of them on sale right now at stores as the planting season is basically over. It is still a fine time to plant perennials as long as you keep them well watered.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The generous man will be prosperous,
And he who waters will himself be watered.
He who withholds grain,
The people will cures him,
But blessing will be upon the head of him who sells it.
He who diligently seeks good seeks favor,
But he who searches after evil, it will come to him.
He who trusts in his riches will fall,
But the righteous will flourish like the green leaf.
He who troubles hi own house will inherit wind,
And the foolish will be servant to the wisehearted.
The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life,
And he who is wise wins souls."
Proverbs 11:25-30

Blueberry picking

Yesterday we had a wonderful time going blueberry picking. Ken's parents are here for the week, visiting from Nevada, and so they got to come along with the kids and I when we went. We went on some state land near a little campground on the Mississippi River. The blueberries were just starting to be ready to pick so we are hoping to go back again at the end of this week. I had lots of fun taking pictures while we were there so I thought I would share them with you. Some beautiful harebells. These are one of my favorite flowers and there were a lot of them growing by the blueberries.
Sisters picking berries. Mara loved picking the blueberries. She didn't like it when we had to leave.
Granddad and the boys. They all worked at picking while Granddad told bear stories. They were so cute to watch.
The picker who doesn't save any for later.

Nana and Megan.
Megan found a tree with dead limbs to climb.

Sorry this picture is a little dark. We are showing off our berries. In all we got about 1/2 gallon. Picking wild blueberries is not for the faint of heart. They are very small and it takes a long time to get many and the flies and mosquitoes are quite prevalent. We loved our berry picking time anyway! It is so beautiful in the north woods and it is so fun to find berries that are incredibly good for you and yummy just free for the picking.

Have you been picking any berries lately?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Time for Jam!

One of my favorite parts of summer is picking berries and with that comes the making of a favorite treat: Jam. After picking strawberries I made a batch of Strawberry jam (one of my top favorite jams) and then I thought I would be fun to try making Strawberry Rhubarb Jam as I like those two flavors together and the free rhubarb would help to stretch the "expensive" strawberries. The jam turned out quite good and so I am sharing the recipe with you.

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam
3 cups Strawberries, sliced thinly
2 cups rhubarb, sliced thinly
5 cups sugar
1 box dry pectin
Combine fruit and pectin in 6 qt pot and bring to a rolling boil. Add sugar and then return to a rolling boil and then boil one minute, stirring constantly. Put in jars and seal. Here are instructions for the water bath method. I personally use the inversion method where you fill the jars (that has been just washed in very hot water) up to 1/2 inch from the top, wipe the rim to make sure it is perfectly clean, place on sterilized canning lid, put band on tightly and then flip over on a towel for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes you flip back over to right side up. After the jar has cooled test the middle of the lid to make sure it has sealed (It should be tight in the middle not be able to press in and then pop back out). If it hasn't sealed you need to put the jam in the fridge and use soon. The inversion method is not what is generally recommended but it has worked well for me and it saves a lot of time and effort.
Before long I hope to be making raspberry jam too and maybe some juneberry and chokecherry. What sort of jam is your favorite?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Menu Plan Monday

Sunday Breakfast: Cinnamon raisin bread and scrambled eggs
Dinner: Hamburgers and fixings, fruit salad and fried potatoes.
Supper: Leftover Pizza and Texas Watermelon
Monday Breakfast: Biscuits and gravy
Lunch: Picnic stuff (watermelon, sandwhiches and popcorn)
Supper: Galveston chicken, potatoes and green beans.
Tuesday Breakfast: Pancakes
Supper: San Antonio Tortilla and Salad with buttermilk ranch dressing.
Wednesday Breakfast: Canary Island Doughnuts. (? I think)
Lunch: Stir fry and fruit
Supper: Tacos
Thursday Breakfast: Oatmeal
Friday: Wild foods day. We are hoping to pick berries, try fishing and collect cattails and other wild greens and eat that stuff as much as possible. We will also probably have some beans and bread available for eating as well so we don't go hungry :-)
Saturday Breakfast: Waffles
Lunch: Pigs in a blanket and fruit.
Supper: Caliente tamale pie and salad.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Getting ready for the fair ~ Project # 4

A couple of other things that I am planning on taking to the fair are some of the ring pillows I made earlier this year. One will be entered under basic construction ~ Pillows and the other under hand sewing (as I did a lot of hand sewing to add all of the little beads). This is another category I have never entered in before so it will be interesting to see what the competition is like there.

Are you entering anything in the fair? If so, what?

The Show me state ~ Missouri

We had fun studying about Missouri. I was able to find quite a few recipes that worked for us to try and we enjoyed all of them. I guess I will go ahead and start by telling of the food we ate.
Beef noodle skillet was a quick and simple food that we enjoyed from a rural Missouri site.
Above is a picture of the springtime omelet on my breakfast plate. It was fun to use various things from my garden in it.
Sour cream sugar cookies were quite yummy and not that high in sugar either and worked well with whole wheat flour. It was a good sized batch and we had enough that we made some star shaped ones for the 4th of July (we froze them).
Kansas City spareribs were quite yummy even though I ended up having to make them in the oven instead of on the grill.
I had fun making ravioli for St Louis toasted ravioli. This was a rather labor intensive meal but it ended up being pretty good. I used some wild greens and goat cheese in our ravioli.
Here they are after getting fried with Parmesan cheese sprinkled on them.
And with sauce on top.

I also had a lot of fun reading about all the special foods of St. Louis. It includes a list of many foods that were introduced at the World Fair that was held there.

Well there is a lot more to Missouri than just food. Missouri became a state August 10, 1821 making it the 24th state.

  • There are 69,686 square miles in Missouri
  • The state flower is the Hawthorn.
  • The state tree is the flowering dogwood.
  • The state bird is the bluebird.
  • The state song is the Missouri Waltz. (That link is for the sheet music which includes the words.)
  • The eastern black walnut is the state nut.
  • The fiddle is the state musical instrument.

We enjoyed reading about (and for me remembering going too) all the different parts of Missouri ~ the big cities, the rural farmland and then the beauty of the Ozarks.

Remembering Mark Twain and reading about the town of Hannibal and Tom Sawyer days was interesting. Another great Author (or authoress) that wrote in Missouri was of course Laura Ingalls Wilder.

As far as history goes we enjoyed reading about Lewis and Clark and the start of their travels, about the Pony Express which ran for 18 months with it's start in St. Joseph and about Missouri's involvement in the Civil War. Missouri was a very divided state and it had the 3rd most battles of all of the states.

What do you know and enjoy about the state of Missouri? Also this weeks state for us is Florida, we are having a wonderful time learning and always enjoy learning more.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Getting ready for the fair ~ Project #3

Another item that we are planning on taking to show at the fair are some candles we made this past fall. We had a blast making these candles, some by dipping and some with molds. We used a bunch of wax scraps leftover from old candles and some little crayons. This was fun for the kids and I. This is something that we have never taken to the fair before and I have no idea how much competition there is in this category. I guess we shall see. :-)

Substitutions in cooking and baking

Something that has been very helpful to me in my baking and cooking is knowing that I can substitute things in my recipes. I have found lists that give exact amounts and also my mom taught me others. This can be very helpful in running a frugal and healthy kitchen. I can't remember a time that I have been making something and then had to run to a store to get an ingredient (it also helps to have well stocked cupboards).

Substitutions work when you just don't have an ingredient, you want to use a cheaper ingredient or you want to make it more nutritious. I use all 3 reasons. Below is a list of things that I have found that you can use for substitutions. ( I actually use a ton more, but not all of mine are highly successful :-) )

Instead of Buttermilk you can use: Yogurt or regular milk with a tablespoon or so of lemon juice or vinegar.

Instead of Ricotta cheese (in lasagna) you can use: Cottage cheese, sour cream or yogurt.

Instead of 1 cup light cream (particularly for soup) you can use: 1 cup whole milk and 1 tablespoon butter.

Instead of 1 ounce unsweetened baking chocolate you can use: 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa and 1 tablespoon butter or margarine.

Instead of 1 cup of melted choc. chips you can use: 6 tablespoons cocoa, 7 tablespoons sugar and 1/4 cup shortening.

Instead of 1 cup cake flour you can use: 7/8 cup all purpose flour sifted with 2 tablespoons cornstarch.

Instead of 1 cup honey you can use: 1 to 1 1/4 cup sugar with 1/4 cup liquid.

Instead of 1 cup brown sugar you can use: 1 cup white sugar with 1 tablespoon molasses stirred in.

Instead of oil (in baking) you can use: applesauce, grated zucchini or yogurt. (This works with somethings better than others. I do this a lot, not because I don't have oil but for the nutritional value.)

Instead of 1 tsp. Baking Powder you can use: 1/4 tsp baking soda + 1/2 cup buttermilk or 1/4 tsp baking soda + 1/2 tsp cream of tartar.

Instead of Sour Cream you can use: Yogurt.

Instead of Cream, whipped, you can use: Chill a 13 oz. can of evaporated milk for 12 hours. Add 1 tbsp lemon juice. Whip until stiff.

Instead of Egg (in baking) you can use: 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1 tbsp vinegar, and 1 tbsp liquid or 1 egg in every 3 can be replaced with 1 tbsp cornstarch or
Soften 1 tbsp unflavored gelatin in 3 tbsp cold water; add 3 tsp boiling water; cool and beat until frothy; add to recipe (reduce other liquid by 2 tbsp).

Instead of Mayonnaise you can use: Sour Cream, Yogurt or pureed Cottage Cheese.

Instead some of the flour in baking you can use: Oatmeal, Corn meal, Rice flour, Bean flour, Whole wheat flour or Rye flour. (This will often mess the texture up a little but it is fun to experiment with and get more nutritional food.)

What are some substitutions that you commonly use?

For lots more frugal tips visit Biblical Womanhood.


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