Friday, December 30, 2011

Monsters for Christmas

A month or so ago Kimball found this book at the library.  I decided to make a few monsters for the kids for Christmas.  They turned out so cute.  I think the rocket ship and the little aliens were the biggest hit.  Each alien has his own pocket on the ship.  There are two pictures of the other monsters I made because one is reversible.  The other is a pocket mouth.  

They weren't too difficult to make, especially with the patterns in the book.  But they couldn't have been possible without the fun plastic eyes I scored on eBay.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Wet Wipe Box to Toy Box

I don't know about anyone else, but I am beginning to wonder where I am going to put all the new toys we got the kids for Christmas.  And who knows what Santa will bring!  In an effort to organize a little better I decided we needed a new toy box for all our trucks.  I found a wet wipe box and covered it in fleece.  I think it turned out nice.  

Here is the final outcome.

And here is what I did:

1.  Cut off the top flaps of a sturdy box.  Don' forget the little flaps inside the handles.  Sorry, my picture still has them.

2.  Cut a piece of fleece the [length of the box (the longer side) + 1 inch] by [the height x 2 + the width + 1 inch]. This will cover one long side, the bottom and then the other long side.

3.  Use a glue gun to attach the fabric at the edges of the box--down one side, across the bottom and up the other side.

4.  You can see I have a little extra on the sides and top.  This is so the corners and edges are fully covered. Glue them down.  Burn yourself a few times, after all you are using a hot glue gun.

5.  Cut a piece of fabric the width of the box (the shorter side) by the height x 2.  This piece will cover one side on both the inside and out.  Glue it down on just the outside.

6.  Once the glue has dried a bit, slit the fabric where the handle is and add a "Y" cut at the end.

7.  Turn the box over and pull the cut out around the handle.  Glue down.  Burn your fingers some more.  Then bring the rest of the fabric into the box and glue that too.

8.  This is what it will look like on the outside.  Do the same thing for the other side.

9.  Now all we need is a piece for the two other insides and the bottom.  Cut the piece the length by [the height x 2 + the width].

10.  Glue her in!

11.  All done!

Now all those trucks fit.  And now I'm ready for Christmas.  (As if!)

And the box looks so good on the shelf.  I wanna make me another one.  But I gotta wait until we need more wipes.

Since I am blabbing on about toy storage, I thought I would include a picture of the toy bags I made ages ago.  I use Command Strips to hang them.  It works.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Removing Red Dye from Carpet: Testing the Internet

I have found some great cleaning tips on Pinterest.  So, it got me thinking.  I wonder if the Internet has any great ideas for getting out red dye (i.e. Koo-laid, Crystal Light, etc.) from carpet.  You see I have a very nice area rug.  I also have two toddlers.  Some of the mishaps are years old.  Some are more recent (as in, last week).  You'd think I would learn.

I'll show you the before and after pics and then let you know what I did.  Here is the before picture of the first area I cleaned.  Hopefully you can see the pinkish marks In between he flowers.
 Here is the after picture.  The pink marks are lighter, but not entirely gone.

Here is the second area I cleaned.  Lots of pink spots.  These were the ones that were really old.

Here is the area after.  The pink spots are lighter, but I also managed to discolor the tip of a leaf.  And the carpet is lighter where I scrubbed a bit.

Over all this is a good cleaning idea, but proceed with caution.  I was pretty impressed with the amount of old stains that I was able to get up.  But I think I pulled up some of the red ink in my carpet too.

In any event, here is the process.  Use a mixture of 1/2 ammonia and 1/2 water.  Spray or dab over the stain (I scrubbed a bit too and perhaps this was my downfall).  Place a clean rag over the stain and apply a hot iron.  The heat should pull the stain onto the rag.

And it did.  It was pretty impressive.  I found that applying a little extra force with the iron helped.  

 I'd be interested in knowing if this works for anyone else.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Cornbread from Popcorn: Yes, It Can Be Done!

I read somewhere on the Internet that you should store popcorn in place of cornmeal because it will keep longer.  The popcorn can then be ground into cornmeal.  I decided to test this advice and make cornbread from ground popcorn.

Here is my awesome Mill & Mix.  It was my grandma's.  It's cool because you can adjust the space between the stones for grinding.

I thought I would try and make the cornmeal more coarse than my wheat flour, so I opened the stones a bit to grind the popcorn.  Next time I might keep it pretty fine because there were some hard chunks in the final product.

I used my same cornbread recipe and it came out great.  I forgot to take a picture of the baked bread because I just jumped right in.  So, there you go.  You can get cornmeal from popcorn.  Fancy that.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

2011 Canning Roundup

I wish I could say that this list was exact, but I didn't do a very good job of keeping track of what I canned.

  • Peaches: 40 quarts (lost 2 to failed seals, plus what I gave to my mother-in law.  They were her peaches)
  • Peach Jam: 10 pints, 2 quarts, 1 12 oz. jar (plus what I gave to my mother-in-law)
  • Pears: 5 quarts
  • Pear Sauce (Like apple sauce but with pears; my kids love the stuff): 2 24 oz. jars and 2 pints (plus what I gave to my sister-in-law for baby food)
  • Pear Chutney: 9 half pints
  • Apple Sauce: 28 quarts (plus all the sauce we canned for my siblings.  Over 65 quarts total!)
  • Apple Chipotle BBQ Sauce: 6 pints, 1 12 oz. jar
  • Apple Pie Filling: 6 quarts
  • Apple Pie Jam: 9 pints
  • Apple Slices: 6 quarts, 1 pint
  • Pickles: 1 pint, 1 half pint
  • Peach Pepper Sauce: 1 pint, 4 half pints
  • Tomatoes: 3 pints (already gone!)
  • Tomato Salsa: 3 pints, 1 12 oz. jar
  • Raspberry Jam: ?  I only have one half pint left.
  • Fig and Strawberry Jam: 2 8 oz. jars
  • Plum Chutney with curry (This stuff makes the most amazing deviled eggs, maybe I'll post the recipe): 8 half pints (or so, I forget)
  • Jalapeno Jelly: 8ish half pints (plus over 40 half pints for my sister-in-law.  They were her peppers and she had back surgery.)
  • Green Tomato Enchilada Sauce: 7 1/2 pints (plus more for my sister-in-law, also her green tomatoes)
I think that's it.  I'd say I'm done but I have about 8 cups of chopped plums in my freezer and I'm thinking of making an Asian plum sauce.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Canning Chicken Stock

A draft of this post has been sitting on my computer for months.  I guess I should get my act together an finish it.

I've canned chicken and turkey stock a few times in the past year.  And I like doing it.  I know I could freeze the stuff, but cooking with canned is so much easier--no defrosting.  So, if you are up to it, here's how it goes:

1.  In a big stock pot put a turkey carcass or chicken bones.  Cover with water (about 4-8 quarts).  For this version I bought some bone-in split chicken breasts on sale, de-boned them myself and saved the bones, skin and fat.  It's a nice rectangular shape because I froze them until I was ready to make stock.

2.  Throw in some carrots, celery and onions.  No need to peel or chop here, although I highly recommend washing them off.  I don't bother with any seasoning because I will season whatever dish the stock goes into.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 2 hours.

3.  Get your cheese cloth ready.  You really need some quality cheese cloth with a fine mesh.  I put the cheese cloth in the colander and the colander on another pot.  Drain the broth into the second pot.  Cool it.  Refrigerate over night.

4.  The following day you will see all the fat is on the top.  Remove as much as you can.

5.  Now you have nice pretty broth.  Bring it back to a boil.

6.  While waiting for the broth to boil, get your pressure canner and jars ready according to the instructions for your canner.  I always read the instructions again every time I use my pressure canner since I have no desire to blow up my house.

7.  Fill your jars with hot stock leaving 1 inch headspace and place them in the prepared canner.  Process for 20 minutes (25 for quarts) at the appropriate pressure for your altitude.  (14 pounds for me).

8.  Let your canner cool, and there you have it.  Homemade chicken stock.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Making Garbage Cans

When Kimball turned 3, we got him a garbage truck.  He loves it!  However, the small garbage can/dumpster that came with it has gone missing.  :(

So, with some cardboard and some tape, I made him some replacements.  He has been happily playing for the last 20 minutes.  It would seem that one man's trash is another man's toy garbage.  Or something like that.

Monday, October 31, 2011

My Baby Dinosaurs

Happy Halloween!  This year I decided to try and make costumes for the boys.  I scored an old pattern on eBay that is at least 20 years old, and simple enough for my limited skills.  I also found the fleece on sale for 50% off.  I think they turned out cute.  Kimball wears his everyday and even sleeps in it.  I would say that is money well spent.

Before you get all impressed with my sewing skillz, you should know that these costumes would not have happened without several tutorials on youtube.  Seriously, what did we do before the internet?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

I'm Back! With squash.

So, I took a blogging break.  I'm sure no one missed me.  And that's okay.

This last week, I took my kids to a pumpkin patch with my in-laws.  We had an awesome time.  My in-laws were nice enough to buy us pumpkins and to indulge me in the purchase of a bunch of different squash.  I bought four varieties that I had never tried before.  I am looking forward to educating myself on some new food stuffs.  Someday I might learn to grow them (if I ever learn to garden).

Here's what I picked up:

Sweet Meat--This is the pretty mint green colored one in the upper left corner.
Sweet Dumplings--These are the little white and green guys.
Carnival--This is the green and yellow one in the middle.
Buttercup--This is not a butternut (which I love).  It's a butterCUP and it's a flat green one that is hiding in the lower right of the box under a sweet dumpling.

All of these varieties are supposed to be sweet like a butternut.  We already tried the sweet dumplings.  We microwaved them until soft, sliced them open, scraped out the seeds, added butter, salt and pepper and then had ourselves little individual squashes.  They were really good.

Monday, June 27, 2011

It's Over and Thank You

My parents returned from China today.  And I went to Costco.  I am officially done with my little experiment. I didn't quite make it 12 weeks but then we did move in the middle of things.  I want to thank all (20) of you readers.  I enjoyed your comments and hope you enjoyed my zany attempt to eat what was in my cupboards.  I have learned a lot and will continue to incorporate a lot of food storage into our regular everyday eating.  Here are a few thoughts about what I have learned:

  1. Don't move in the middle of trying to live off your food storage.  I keep thinking that if there really were some kind of disaster that prevented me from going to the store and that same disaster drove me from my home that I would be in big trouble.
  2. My family is very tolerant of my cooking.
  3. If you have a baby, plan food storage for baby.
  4. I don't like tomato powder.
  5. Remembering to take pictures of my food is hard when you are hungry.  I also learned that I am not a very good photographer.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

A Kind Gift

I recently received a kind gift from my best friend, Fiona.  I have been postponing blogging about it because I didn't take a picture of it.

Needing to rotate some old food storage, Fiona decided to give it to me instead so I could blog about it.  I have rewarded her kindness with procrastination.  Sorry, Fi.

Here is what she gave me:

  • 1 can powdered eggs
  • 1 can butter powder
  • 1 can shortening
  • 1 can spaghetti
  • 2 cans instant potatoes
  • 1 can dehydrated carrots
  • 1 can dehydrated onions
I am most excited about the eggs and the onions because I know I will use those right away.  I plan on using the eggs to make a Swedish pancake mix for quick breakfasts.  I want to use the shortening to try and perfect a whole wheat tortilla.  The pasta and potatoes will go into some kind of dinners.  As for the carrots, do you think I could use them in a carrot cake?

What We Ate for Dinner: Crock Pot Chicken Mole

I saw this crock pot chicken mole a few weeks ago, but I thought I would have to wait for grocery shopping because I was short on ingredients.  FridayI decided to make it anyway and see what I could come up with.  My problems were the raisins, chili in adobo sauce and the chili powder.  I substituted dates, a can of green chilis and some additional spices.  Also, because I still haven't found all my spices from the move, I used whole coriander and cumin seeds.  I thought it was pretty tasty, but I would have liked to have some sour cream.

Here is what I threw in the crock pot (6 hours on low):

1 chopped onion
1/2 cup dehydrated dates, rehydrated and chopped
1 c. water from rehydrating the dates
1 T. chopped garlic
2 T. black sesame seeds
1 can chopped green chilis
1  27 oz. can of tomatoes, which I smashed a bit
3 T. sugar
1 t. cinnamon
3 t. cumin seed
1 t. red pepper flakes
1 t. oregano
2 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. coriander seed
1/8 t. nutmeg
3 T. cocoa powder
2 large chicken breasts

Friday, June 24, 2011

What We Ate for Dinner: Linguine and Eggs

I got the idea to poach eggs in tomato sauce from my friend, Chef Tess.  I have been meaning to do this for some time.  Last night was the night!  I served mine with linguine because I was hungry.  All you do is plop those eggs into the sauce and cover until cooked.  Super easy.  Super delicious.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

What We Ate for Dinner: Shepherd's Pie with Elk

This is a picture of an elk.  It's not the elk we ate for dinner last night.  I forgot to take a picture of my food again.  It's probably a good thing that I didn't attempt to introduce a camera into the mix.  Kimball was eating dinner without a shirt on (I did make him wear an apron).  Stan was covered in red punch and everything else that was within grabbing range.  Bryce was very well behaved and look just fine.  I wasn't wearing any makeup.  That's right, I went the whole day without putting any makeup on.  I did shower.  It hardly mattered because the only two people who saw me outside of my immediate family were the law guy and my sister, Charlotte (and that was over Skype).

Enough about things other than food.  This shepherd's pie recipe is another favorite freezer meal (although, tonight I made it fresh).  It's adapted from a Rachel Ray.

1 lb. ground elk (or beef)
1 chopped onion
1 tsp. chopped garlic
2 T. butter
1/4 c. flour (I used whole wheat because it was easier)
1 can beef broth
1-3 T. Worcestershire sauce, to taste
salt and pepper to taste
1 c. frozen veggies
5-6 c. mashed potatoes, instant

Brown meat with onions and garlic in large skillet or wok.  Move meat to one side of pan, add butter.  Add flour to butter and mix into meat.  Add broth and Worcestershire sauce.  Add veggies and season to taste.  Mix up instant mashed potatoes.  Pour meat mixture into casserole dish and spread evenly.  Top with mashed potatoes.  You could serve this immediately.  Or your can stick it in the fridge until about 45 minutes before dinner, then heat in 350 oven.  This is what I did today.  Or you could cover it in tin foil and freeze for another day.  If frozen, give yourself at least an hour extra in the oven.


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