Friday, February 26, 2010

Foodie Friday - Freezer Meals - Do it with a group!

It's still Friday.. 2 hours left. =)
This week, my mother-in-law, and sister-in-laws got together and we made freezer meals. We each brought 3 recipes, and the ingredients for our own (minus the meat, which my MIL graciously provided, thanks Becky!), so total we put together 60 meals, 12 for each of us!
It worked out great because not only do we now have 12 oven-ready meals for those days when we don't have time, or don't know what to make, but also the preparation was TONS easier than trying to do it alone. I've tried doing some freezer meals by myself, or even just cooking and shredding meat, and storing it in the freezer for emergencies, but doing it with 4 other ladies was the way to go!! It was awesome because we all worked together. There was a couple people cooking, one doing dishes and replenishing bowls, measuring cups, etc, one prepping for the next meal, one wrapping them up, and then we'd just help out wherever we were needed. That saved us so much time than doing all the prep, cooking, bagging, and cleanup by ourselves!
I had a great time, and now I also have some fun new meals that I wouldn't have made otherwise, and it only took a few hours. I suggest finding a few other ladies, neighbors, sisters, or family members, and take an afternoon doing freezer meals, it will be WAY worth your time!

The Meals We Made:
Chicken Enchiladas
Poor Man's Filet Minon
Chicken Caesar Casserole
Tomato Basil Soup
Chicken Fingers
Turkey and Corn Tortellini Soup
Crescent Sandwiches
BBQ Pork Chops
Crock Pot Roast and Veggies
Spinach Manicotti
Crunchy Chicken Pesto

Make your own Laundry Detergent = Save some $$

Here is a recipe that my mom has been using to make her own laundry detergent. The cost per load comes out to $.03c ! That was enough to convince me! As soon as my current bottle is gone (it's almost there), I'm going to try my own as well. She says it works great and doesn't leave any suds in the washer, and also you can reduce or even eliminate using softeners as well.
The recipe she's been using is for liquid detergent, but I also have a powdered detergent recipe, but the dry recipe comes out to be $.15c per load, as opposed to the $.03c. I'll include both.

Liquid Laundry Detergent:

3 pints Water

1/3 bar Fels Naptha Soap, grated

1/2 cup Washing Soda (Arm and Hammer - NOT baking soda)

1/2 cup "20 Mule Team Borax"

2 Gallon bucket to mix it in

1 Quart hot water

Mix Fels Naptha soap in a saucepan with 3 pints hot water and heat on low until dissolved. Stir in Washing Soda and Borax. Stir until thickened and remove from heat. Add 1 quart hot water to 2 gallon bucket. Add soap mixture and mix well. Fill bucket completely with additional hot water and mix well. Set aside for 24 hours or until mixture thickens. You may add additional HOT water if the mixture becomes too thick. Mix well before each use (a dowel works well) Use 1/2 cup of mixture per load. Makes 64 loads.

Here's a pic of the finished product.

Powdered Laundry Detergent:

1 cup grated Fels Naptha soap

1/2 cup "20 mule team Borax"

1/2 cup Washing Soda

Mix together and store in airtight container or bag. For light or small loads, use 1 TBSP. For normal loads, use 2 TBSP. For heavy loads, use 3 TBSP.
For larger batch: Grate 6 bars of Fels Naptha soap and then add 3 cups of washing soda, and 3 cups of "20 mule team Borax". Mix well and store in covered container.

Make sure you keep the detergent tightly sealed, and kept away from small children!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Foodie Friday - Sandwich Thins

One of my new favorite things EVER is Oroweat Whole Wheat Sandwich Thins. (click on the link to see recipes and ideas, or nutrition information on the Oroweat website) They also come in Multi-Grain. I buy them at Smith's and use them for turkey burgers, egg sandwiches, etc. They're thin but they're sturdy and super soft, that's why they work great for burgers as well as sandwiches, and they taste great! They are even a lot healthier than a single piece of whole wheat bread, as far as calories, fat, and carbs go, for the whole bun, top and bottom! For those of you that do weight watchers, they're only 1 point! They score big in my book, I eat at LEAST one every day, if not more.. I love them! Try them!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Modest Princess Party!

PBJ: Post By Julie

We had a lot of fun last Halloween, but it made me stop and think……..about princesses.

Ok, so maybe I’m a little obsessed with princesses. I believe that every little girl is a princess in training, and that imagination and role-play is very important for a child. When a girl feels beautiful and special, that confidence and grace can be developed and hopefully find a permanent place in her personality and life. Being beautiful on the inside is more important than what’s on the outside, and as parents and grandparents, we have the opportunity to teach our little ones about who they are and what is expected of them. Helping a child learn to act like a princess, being good and kind, strong and assertive, honest and hard-working, is great practice for being happy in real life. That’s my philosophy.

My granddaughter wanted to be a “yellow” princess last year, so of course I was more than happy to make her a dress to match her aunt (my other daughter), who sometimes makes princess appearances at birthday parties. (This pic was taken after my daughter had cut her hair to donate to make wigs for cancer patients)

Anyway, my daughter played ‘Belle’ in her high school musical several years ago. It was a magical time when she was transformed from an ordinary teenager (already sweet and kind) to a beautiful princess whose appearance and charm seemed to draw people to her like a magnet. At a ‘meet and greet’ opportunity before a matinee performance, dozens of children couldn’t take their eyes off her! They were fascinated by the ‘real’ princess that was talking to them, posing for pictures, and giving them hugs. My sister-in-law’s granddaughters had come to the event and their excitement was evident. One of the little girls asked her mother, “Do you think Belle knows we are related?” and another said “I know what I’m going to tell my class at show and tell next week!” Isn’t that cute? Just being related to a ‘Princess’ made these girls feel special!

Appearing at Princess Parties has taught my girls how important it is to use good manners, good grammar and be a good example all the time because little ones are always watching and listening!

My youngest daughter appears at the parties as Cinderella and is elegant and charming as well. This was a simple dress I made for a dance a few years ago, (not the best photo, sorry) but I have fabric for a more authentic, Disney style dress that I’m planning to make.

If you have little girls now, just be aware that big girls like to be princesses too! I have four daughters and for each formal high school dance they attended, it was quite the challenge to find a dress that was modest, attractive and budget friendly. It takes patience and creativity to put things together, but it’s well worth the effort. When a girl really feels like a princess, she will act the part.

My younger daughters have benefited the most from our ‘dress collection’ because their older sisters handed down their dresses, and my interest in altering dresses happened to coincide with their high school years. I like to find pretty dresses that need a little work. Many come strapless or with spaghetti straps which is unacceptable at our house, so we try to match fabric for easy sleeves, or figure out another solution to make it modest. Shawl’s don’t cut it!

My next post will be on the dresses I’ve found and altered to make appropriate for my girls. I only have one daughter still in high school, so there are only a few formal dances left, but I hope to continue making “princess” dresses for other girls in my area so they can feel special too!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Back to the 80's ladies!

I've been really wanting to make some leg-warmers.. I mean REALLY wanting to. I finally did, and now I'm dying to make some more. They're so cute!! I just need to figure out what shoes to wear them with. The ones in the pic don't work very well, but you get the idea. I just took an old sweater and cut the sleeve off, being careful not to let it unravel. I put it on my leg so that the cuff was around my ankle, and then pinned and measured where I wanted to hem the top. My sweater fit nicely around my calf, but if you use a larger sweater, you may need to stitch along the side from the bottom to the top to make it more snug. Mine fit just fine, so I just hemmed the top edge. Scrunch them up as little or as much as you want. Couldn't get easier than that! The pic isn't great, but that's basically it! I can't wait to make some more in different colors. They're also cute with boots over top of them with just the top inch or two sticking out. Way fun, and easy!

Don't mind my ugly floor and baseboards... student housing... don't be too harsh!

Linked up to Poppies At Play - Creative Cats!

DIY Puppet Theater

PBJ: Post By Julie

Last summer I found this little cabinet at a yard sale for 3 dollars!

I decided to make a finger puppet theater that can stay at grandma’s house so all the grandkids can enjoy it. I removed the glass panes from the doors, cut out a panel (it was just heavy chipboard paneling) from the back and

painted the cabinet brown. For the flag poles I used pieces of bamboo skewers with a piece of a plastic tube/straw over it, then glued a carved wood ball on top and painted them all gold.

I drilled holes to put them in and secured with glue. The flags are just painted chip board with gold trim glued on. (yeah E6000 ) I glued several kinds of trim on the cabinet, sewed curtains out of red velveteen which is gathered on a piece of wire coat hanger. The wire is pushed into screw holes where the glass had been secured in the front.

I gathered and put trim and tassels on the drapes and made a “curtain” to hang on the back of the theater.

I used Velcro to hold the curtain on at the top, and made little wood braces on the sides to hold the fabric out/away so little hands can reach up to work the puppets. I might make several more of these with actual scenes on them, barnyard, mountains, castle, etc. to go along with different stories. ( but I think that’s just making work for myself! Haha) For now, we will encourage the kids to imagine anything they want!

The finger puppets are crocheted in the Philippines. My sister-in-law lives there and sent them to me. I did make the little girl one from a pattern, but I might try crafting my own (not crochet). For the bottom half of the theater I think I will make some little storage trunks for the puppets to live in. It’s still a work in progress, but it’s been fun to do!

Linked up to Poppies At Play - Creative Cats!!

Foodie Friday: Sour Cream

I just have to give a shout out to the best sour cream out there! Daisy sour cream is not only super delicious, but its ingredient list is the most convincing thing of all. I ONLY buy Daisy, even if it's a few more cents than the competitors. I've looked at other sour cream's labels and find dozens of ingredients that I can't even pronounce. .. When you look at the ingredient list on the back label of Daisy, it only has one thing listed: Grade A Cultured Cream.

Talk about pure and natural! It's such a delight to know that the Daisy brand isn't putting in all kinds of junk into something that doesn't need it. If you're not convinced to try Daisy because of it's pure ingredients, give it a taste, it's superb! (And no they're not paying me to say any of this!) =) I wish!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Wow, I'm a bum - oh and a gorgeous candy dish!

I knew it'd been a while since I've posted, but I didn't realize it's been THIS long, holy cow! Oh well, starting fresh!

This is another one of those candy dishes that I tried before, and this one turned out great, I love it! I found a green glass candlestick holder, and just had to have it! It went perfectly with the black dishes I also found at the thrift store. Another $1.50 gift, we put together with treats and a card for my MIL for Christmas. Maybe it's just me, but even though it didn't cost a lot, I think it's a pretty nice gift! I'd be thrilled to receive one, so I hope I don't seem too cheap. Anyways, just glued them with E6000. I just wanted to post this, so you could see a different color candlestick option with the green, and also to see it with the bowl on top instead of the two plates. Yay! I love it!


Linked up to Poppies At Play - Creative Cats!!