Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Sewing Project #2 - Children's Aprons

Hannah and I made her apron today. It was a great snowy day project. This one went together so quickly. Start to finish was only about an hour.

I made Rebekah's a few weeks ago to give her for her birthday. I didn't have help on hers and it took about and hour and a half.

Hannah's horse fabric was some of the fabric we purchased when Jo~ann's was having a big SALE. Her apron cost a total of $4.00 including fabric and notions. I know it would go for a lot more than that at any of the local craft fairs. Hey, maybe I'm on to something? I do know I will be making some for gifts in the near future.

The girls are excited to wear their aprons for household chores and meal prep. I'm hoping the aprons will help keep the mess down. I probably shouldn't get my hopes up too much. I am just excited that they enjoy helping around the house. But then what mother wouldn't be.

Thank You Notes from a Little One

Here's a great idea to get even little ones involved in writing thank you notes for the gifts they receive for birthdays and holidays.

Use some of their artwork to create the cards. Here we used water color paintings that Rebekah had made. We cut them an inch smaller than the card and mounted them on color coordinated card stock that was 1/2 inch smaller than the card. Centering the painting on the mat, and then the mat on the card created a "professional"look with handmade appeal.

The inside of the card was created on a word processing program using a childish font. It is written from the child's perspective.
On the back we put a label with "Hand Painted by Rebekah" and the date.

Visit Rocks in my Dryer for more Works for me Wednesday tips.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Pancakes are one of the favorite breakfast food in this house. We looked for quite a while for a homemade pancake recipe that everyone liked. This one was the best and so we have stuck with it for quite a while now. It is quick and easy. Even our 8 year old can make it all by herself.
  • 3 cups of flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 6 Tbsp sugar
  • 3 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 6 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 2 to 2 1/2 cups milk

Sift together the flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder. Add eggs and and mix slightly. Add butter and enough milk to make batter the consistency you prefer. Cook both sides on a hot griddle.

We serve these butter and "real" maple syrup. They are fabulous with blueberries, bananas, peaches, or chocolate chips added.

Italian Bread - Step by Step with Photos

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Making homemade bread for my family is one of my passions. It is so yummy and so much better for you than what you can buy in the store. And in all honesty is really not that difficult once you get the hang of it. Here is our favorite Italian Bread. We serve this with pasta, soups and more.

  • 1 Tbsp yeast

  • 1 cup warm water less 1 Tbsp water

  • 2 Tbsp sugar

  • 3 cups bread flour

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter

  • 2 stiffly beaten egg whites

  • egg yolks and sesame seeds for top of bread

I make most of my bread in my kitchen aid, but you can make this recipe by hand or even in a bread machine if you like.

During the winter months I rinse the bowl of my mixer with hot water before starting, so that the chilly stainless doesn't effect the yeast. Pour warm water into pre-warmed bowl. Add yeast and sugar. Mix with your finger and let proof for about five minutes. When you return it should be nice and bubbly. You can click between the two photos to see the difference in the yeast.

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While the yeast is proofing, beat the egg whites nice and stiff. These you can set aside.

To the yeast, add the salt and flour one cup at a time. Once all the flour in mixed in, it will be quite dry, add the butter.

Next add the egg whites. This will make the dough very wet. Not to worry the kneading will turn this wet mess into a beautifully elastic dough. I let the machine knead the dough for about 10 minutes. The dough will have pulled away from the sides of the bowl leaving it clean.

While the dough is kneading I oil my favorite dough bowl. This is where the dough will go to rise. I cover it with a clean dish towel and place it near the wood stove for about an hour and a half, or until it has doubled in size.

Now it is time to shape your bread. We like to make a braid. Cut the dough into three equal pieces and roll into ropes. Braid the three together turning both ends under. Cover with dish towel and let rise in a warm place for another 30 minutes or so. If you click through the photos below you will see all the steps mention to form the loaf.

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After the second rising brush the beaten egg yolk that has been mixed with a little water over the entire braid. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes, or until it is golden brown. Again, here you can click through the photos to see the mentioned steps.

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Sorry for the slide shows in this post. I couldn't figure out another way to get all the pictures included.

Applesauce Brownies

This recipe came from my husbands grandmother. It is a favorite desert of everyone - not too chocolaty and very moist more like a cake than a brownie. It is wonderful by itself or served with vanilla ice cream.
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp cocoa
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups applesauce
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 large package chocolate chips

Mix together the melted butter and first measure of sugar. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix well. Sift together the next 5 ingredients and add to butter mixture. Add applesauce making sure to mix completely. Spread in a greased 9x9 pan. Sprinkle 2 Tbsp of sugar and chocolate chips over top. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Gratituesday: A New Place to Relax

We have been in need of a new sofa for a long time now. We have had our love seat for over 10 years. It isn't much more than a wobbly frame with an old quilt thrown over it. It has moved numerous times with us, seen the growth of our family, served as the scratching post for our two (naughty) cats, and seen too many daycare children come and go to count. It didn't owe us a cent, but then we didn't have enough cents to buy a new one.

Well Saturday, when the girls and I returned home from running our errands, you can imagine my surprise to find a beautiful sofa in our living room. Turns out that someone had left two sofas at the transfer station before they were open and the sofas were blocking the road. So the police were called. Luckily my husband was the officer on duty. So that is how we came to have a new sofa.

We are so truly blessed. God does take care of all our needs especially if we are faithful and wait for His timing.

Stop by Heavenly Homemaking for more Gratituesday.

Monday, January 26, 2009

A Woman's Calling

“To marry and have children is the ideal life for a woman. What career could ever be as fine? To give the world splendid men and women—isn’t that the noblest thing a woman could possibly do?”

Jessie Wilcox Smith

This Weeks Menu!

Breakfast: Poached Eggs on Toast, Sausage & Mellon Salad
Lunch: Quesadillas with Salsa & Sour Cream, Pineapple
Dinner: Seasoned Pork Roast, Scalloped Potatoes, Green Beans, & Applesauce

Breakfast: Pancakes & Fruit Salad
Lunch: Tuna Melts, Apple Slices & Celery Sticks
Dinner: Spaghetti with Italian Sausage, Tossed Salad & , Garlic Bread
Dessert: Ice Cream Sundaes

Breakfast: Banana Bran Muffins & Yogurt
Lunch: Tomato Soup and Crackers
Dinner: Baked Chicken, Brown Rice & Peas

Breakfast: Oatmeal
Lunch: (Skiing Day) Cooler Picnic - Sandwiches, Fruit, Hummus, Cheese
Desert: Leftover Brownies or Cookies

Breakfast: Breakfast Cake
Lunch: Fish Sticks, Carrot Sticks & Orange Wedges
Dinner: Homemade Pizza

Breakfast: Eggs or Oatmeal, Toast & Fruit
Lunch: Left Overs
Dinner: Pot Roast, Potatoes, Carrot, Celery & Onions
Desert: Apple Crisp with Vanilla Ice Cream

Breakfast: Sour Cream Coffee Cake
Lunch: Macaroni & Cheese
Dinner: Taco Pie with all the fixings

Stop by the
Organizing Junkie to see more great menu plans for the week.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Jumper Number One!

As promised here is the photo of the first sewing project! I am pleased with how this little jumper turned out. I haven't made the matching doll dress yet. I need to make a pattern for that first, and that is a little daunting.

Rebekah loves here jumper. It is made of cotton flannel so it is toasty warm for the New England winter. It even has ties to help adjust the fit. And of course I made it nice and long.

Best of all the entire jumper cost $3.99 out of pocket. I had the pattern and the thread already. From start to finish it took me about 2 1/2 hours. Not bad if I say so myself. The next one should go faster as this was the first time I had ever used bias tape. It really wasn't difficult especially after viewing this tutorial. Thank Amy for a great explanation.

Check back later to see the next project.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Sausage & Spinach Stuffed Shells

These shells are a big hit with everyone in the family from the oldest to the youngest. Best of all they don't take a lot of time to make. The extra veggies are another plus. We like to have this with garlic bread and a tossed salad. Enjoy!

  • 24 large shells
  • 1 lb Italian sausage
  • 1 container (15oz) ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups mozzarella ( the picture shows cheddar which was good too)
  • 1 10oz box frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 medium carrot shredded
  • 1 jar pasta sauce (or homemade from the freezer)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray.

Cook shells according to instructions on the package.

Meanwhile brown the sausage and drain fat. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix the ricotta cheese, 1 cup of the mozzarella, spinach, basil and garlic until well blended. Stir in sausage and carrots.

Spread about 1/2 cup of the sauce over the bottom of the pan. Fill shells with about 3oz of ricotta cheese mixture. Place shells, filled side up, on the sauce in the baking dish. Pour remaining sauce over shells. Cover with foil.

Bake for about 30 minutes. Remove foil and sprinkle with remaining 1 cup of mozzarella. return to the oven uncovered for 5-10 minutes, or until cheese has melted.

I am planning to try and freeze this as I do my lasagna. I will let you know how it works. I love to have meals in the freezer for those busy days when there just isn't time to cook.

Gratituesday: Running Water

The temperatures here in NH have been frigid. We usually don't head out of town and leave the house when it is this cold. However, my father-in-law was scheduled for a quadruple bi pass, so out of town we headed on Friday.

Jump to Monday, we arrive home to find that we have no water. Our pipes are frozen. Not this is not at all unusual in our 100+ year old house. The strange thing was we couldn't get them thawed and the water running even after the house was warm. We decided the problem must be under the house in the crawl space. Of course the only way to get there is through 4 feet of frozen snow and ice. That project would have to wait for tomorrow. So the girls started bring in snow to melt down for water to wash dishes and flush toilets. They thought that was pretty cool. All along my husband and I kept praying that the pipes were just frozen and not burst and running water under the house.

Tuesday morning my husband set out to dig out the bulk head. That project was quite a big one and time wasted as it would turn out. He couldn't reach the water pipes. On to plan B. Inside he took up the floor in the laundry room where the water enters the house. Much to our surprise we found heat tape around the pipe that just needed to be plugged in. Running water was only a short five minutes behind. No burst pipes and now we have the electric heat tape accessible. Praise God for his protection and provision.

Stop by Heavenly Homemakers to see more Gratituesday!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Sewing Projects! I hope I didn't bite off more than I can Chew!

Lately I have been considering making more of our clothing. This is for a variety of reasons.

First, most of what is out there in the stores is well, just unacceptable. My wonderful young daughters don't need to look like the latest rock star or Bratz doll, thank you. They should look like little girls and young ladies.

Second, Sarah is extremely hard to fit - tall and thin. We did have the wonderful people Ringger Clothing make Sarah a few custom items. And while they are wonderful and I will continue to shop with them, it is not economically feasible to get entire wardrobes for the four of us from them. Also with the new CPSIA legislation they may not be making clothing for children mush longer. The whole CPSIA mess is another story.

Third, clothing is expensive especially for what you get. The price continues to go up and the quality continues to decline. Even with my limited sewing skills I know I can do better, at least I hope.

So while we were visiting my in-laws this past weekend, Joann's Fabrics was having a wonderful sale on fleece, flannel, cotton prints, and more. Patterns were only 99 cents! I just hope I didn't go over board. It is no savings if y0u never complete the projects. Here is the fabric we bought.

The plan is to make two jumpers for Rebekah will matching doll dresses, a dust cover for Doug's printer, an apron for Hannah (that's the horse fabric), fleece jammie pants for Sarah, and two jumpers for myself. To help keep myself accountable I will post pictures as I finish each project.

My mother and grandmother both sewed beautifully. I hope that at little bit of that talent got passed down in my gene pool. I regret we never had the time to sew together.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Strawberry Breakfast Braid

This is a quick and yummy breakfast everyone loves. The kids equate it to toaster strudels but better. And of course mom knows it is healthier and more economical. I just wish my pictures were better.

  • 2 cups Bisquick
  • 3 oz cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup jam (strawberry, raspberry, blueberry and apricot are our favorites)

Cut cream cheese and butter into Bisquick until crumbly. Add milk and mix. The dough will not hold together yet, but don't add more milk. Pour out onto a lightly floured surface and knead about 12 times until the dough holds together. Roll into a 12" x 8" rectangle. Spread the jam down the center of the rectangle the long way. Cut from long edge to jam every 1 1/2 on both sides. Fold cut strip in over jam pressing slightly. Bake on greased cookie sheet for 12 - 15 minutes in a 425 degree oven.

For glaze mix 1/2 cup powdered sugar, 1/8 tsp vanilla, 1/8 tsp almond extract and about 1Tbs milk. Add more or less milk to get the consistency that you want. Drizzle glaze over braid and enjoy.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Ice Towers

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I found this neat activity one one of my favorite kids' craft web sites, The Crafty Crow, It looked like so much fun, and included a bit of a science lesson. And being that the temps have been sub zero it was the perfect weather for building ice towers. The kids had a great time even if their finger did get a little frost bitten (just kidding). We filled the various containers with water, then colored them with food coloring. We were hoping to get some marbled blocks but the food coloring diffused through the water faster than it froze. We left the blocks outside overnight to freeze. It actually might have been a little too cold as we had cracks in a lost of our blocks. The ice blocks popped out of their containers quite easily and the kids got right to building. We used a sprinkle of salt to melt the surface of the blocks slightly. They would then freeze back together. Everyone had fun and voted to do it again. We are on the hunt for tall thin containers such as Popsicle containers.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Look Who's 2!

It's hard to believe that Rebekah turned 2 today. Where does the time go? Rebekah is such a joy and a blessing to all of us. She is so sweet and full of love. She is quick to give a hug or a kiss. She also gets very concerned and sad when someone leaves. She has lots of friends including Owen, Jonathon, Micheal and Emmy. But I think she still favors her big sisters', Sarah and Hannah, company. And of course she tries to keep up with all their antics as well.
Here is a look at how our little girls has grown these last two years.
Here she is in the hospital not too long after she was born.

Rebekah wasn't quite sure what to do with her birthday cake. She did like the candle though. We gave her a little cake all for herself and she still wouldn't "dig in". She really doesn't like to get her hands dirty. As my mother-in-law says, I finally got my "girly girl".

Here she is today a big two year old. She likes to tell everyone she is two and holds up her thumb and first finger. Sarah made wonderful chocolate cupcakes from scratch with a peanut butter surprise in the center. They were really yummy. You can find the recipe here: Rebekah still doesn't like to be messy. This year it was frosting on her nose!

Happy Birthday, my beautiful angle. We love you so much and thank God every day that He blessed our lives with you.

Mama's Little Helper

I know it is her birthday, but Rebekah really does like to help out around the house. Her newest chore is sweeping up in front of the wood stove. For those of you who have wood stoves, you know that this is an ongoing chore. Rebekah is up to the challenge with the broom and dustpan set she received for Christmas. She does a wonderful job and finds satisfaction in a job well done.

I find it so important that my girls learn what it takes to run a house. It seems anymore that people don't feel that homemaking is a "real" job. I truly believe it is one of the most important jobs a woman has, along with being a wife and mother. The girls and I work along side each other to make our house a home. We enjoy the time together, the many hands make light work, and I know that they will be equipped to manage their own homes someday.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Hitting the Slopes

Sarah decided to snowboard this year. Here she and her friends head to the bunny slope for the first time. I don't think any of these girls has been on the bunny slope in years. However, it was a good thing that they started here today. The first time down looked more like bottom boarding than snowboarding. All of the girls had a hard time staying on their feet. It wasn't long until all the girls were getting the hang of it. You can see Sarah got the hang of it pretty quick. They even headed up the mountain before the day was done.
Hannah is staying on skis at least for the time being. She is skiing with a great group of kids and parents. She had a great time on the mountain. Right now I'm in the lodge with Rebekah so I didn't get any pictures on the slopes. Rebekah and I may head over to the bunny slope next week and we will see how she does. Who knows, we may all end up on the mountain this year!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Crochet Giveaway

Kathy Brodock at teaching good things is giving away a beautiful handmade doily with your name. If you are not familure with you need to check out their blog and the products they offer. The girls and I received Mrs. Brodock's DVD Basic Crochet, A Stitch by Stich Video for Christmas. The girls and I have had a wonderful time learning to crochet together. Mrs. Brodocks instructions are so simple and clear. I love being able to stop the DVD and replay it as many times as needed. It is like having someone right there teaching you. Now I'll admit I can't crochet that well yet, but learning is half the fun isn't it. Not to mention all the wonderfu memories the girls and I are making learning a new skill together. I'll post pictures later of our projects.

Follow the link below to enter to win the family name doily. Good Luck!