Monday, February 28, 2011

A New "Do" Glamour Shots Included

My eldest daughter, Autumn was recently married, leaving behind her onliest younger sister, who had never had a bedroom to herself. Up until a couple of years ago, Livie had always shared a bed with her beloved older sister. Autumn getting married and leaving home was a sad event for Livie. While wedding preperations were exciting and getting to be part of the wedding party was fun, Livie never had a desire for her own room or her own bed for that matter. She'd rather have Autumn. Even though there is a 10 year age difference between them, Autumn always made time for Livie and included her in her life. Just as an older sister ought to do.

Livie and I made plans to give the room a new "do" and decided together on a nice robin egg blue for the walls and opted to take off the chair rail that ran around the waist of the room and painted all the trim a nice soft white. I had the idea to move my sewing down to the empty space in the room and we also set up a table for Livie's sewing machine to rest on. Its nice to have a special place for our sewing. Its nice to have our sewing set up all the time instead of having to work on the dining table...which has to be cleaned off for every meal.

This dresser is actually an infant dresser/wardrobe. Behind the right cupboard door is a bar that slides out to hang little clothes on.

In the top drawer I have doll clothes that are in my Etsy store, doll heads, dolls and a few other goodies.

The left cupboard door covers a set of four drawers that I color coordinated fabrics into. The picture doesn't do the beautiful colors of the fabric justice.

And because its good to keep thing real....the mess behind door #2.

My father in law made the thread rack for me years ago as a Christmas gift. I love it. I wouldn't trade it for a new one, ever. There is nothing like a handmade gift.
My new sewing "studio"...
I like having some of my sweet things hanging around on the window sill. The little jar with the green lid was my mothers. She always kept her safety pins in it and now I keep mine in it. Actually there are still a few of her safety pins in there too. The pretty pink, green and blue bottles were my grandmothers. The sun shining through the bottles makes them glow with color. I'm not sure if I like the dowel with the ribbon on it yet. I'm still deciding if it will stay or be fixed up somewhere else. For now it is nice to be able to look at the different ribbons.

Livie's sewing spot, along with her knitting basket.

Moving into Livie's part of the room...the first picture is a bit dark.

I have a bag full of gorgeous fabric scraps, in pinks, reds, greens and blues that I'm going to use to make a new quilt for her bed.

And then the space above her closets...a nice space for pretty-ing up.

Confessions of a Pattern Junkie

There is no getting around that I like vintage patterns. There was a time I would have jumped at the chance to win a vintage pattern for a good price off of Ebay. Now that vintage patterns have become the rage and their prices have gone WAY up...I don't find to many good deals on Ebay anymore. That makes me sad. But every now and then when I'm looking around on Etsy, I find a good deal.
Check out this little number.
Simplicity 4851 copyright ??? definitely old, I'm guessing 1950's but that part of the envelope is crumbled away.

I can just see a little girl standing excitedly, if not somewhat impatiently, at her mothers side, while mother sits at the sewing machine, whipping up a new dress or jammies, for a special dolly friend.

Friday, February 25, 2011

This Moment

A single photo, capturing a special moment.

This week I'm thankful for:
My good friends who took me out for lunch for my birthday
My boys who cooked dinner for me for my birthday
Sweet baby kisses
My husband who knows just the right thing to say when I'm feeling a bit down

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Back in the Day

I came across this picture, not too long ago. I always smile when I remember that my husband used to have long hair.

19 years later, the long hair is gone but the smile still remains. What I would have missed if I hadn't married this man. Its been a ride. Sometimes slow, sometimes fast, sometimes wild and sometimes scary but I wouldn't want to ride with anyone else. He is my best friend.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

February 23, 2011

Outside my is an overcast day.

I am nice it would be to have another baby!

I am thankful family.

From the learning rooms...settling down to get some major learning accomplished.

From the kitchen...chicken and fettuccine Alfredo planned for dinner tonight.

I am wearing...denim skirt, black tee, bare feet.

I am creating...dolls and doll clothes

I am our dentist today.

I am reading...Preparing To Be A Help Meet by Debi Pearl.

I am knit today.

I am hearing...children coughing and various other useless noises children tend to make. :)

Around the room needs a good cleaning.

One of my favorite things...fabric coming in the mail.

A few plans for the rest of the week: work on taxes, dentist appointments, knitting and sewing and as always, school with the children.

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...

Monday, February 21, 2011

Confessions of a Pattern Junkie

Vintage patterns. The words provoke a contented sigh.
The art work on the pattern envelopes along with the different sewing skills shown on the pattern instruction insert are lost to modern patterns. I particularly like that predominately, vintage children patterns, call for buttons instead of a zipper which has no personality or charming character like buttons possess.

Check out this pattern.
McCall's 7692 Copyright 1965

Look at the pattern number on the left side. There is some bold print that says "Childs dress with transfer for smocking" Right under that bold print it says in really small letters "(Not suitable for chubby girls)" I doubt that would be found on a pattern envelope now days. :) Seems McCall's didn't know about political correctness back in 1965 but did have the good sense to let their prospective consumer know what patterns they considered unsuitable for some children.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Echos From Yesterday

Today my son and I went and did the family grocery shopping. We had several stops to make and one of the stops included Walmart. As we came out of Walmart, I noticed a young mom from our church getting her four little children out of her vehicle. Her children are six years old and under. She loaded the baby on her hip, held the almost 2 year old by the hand and had the two *older* children walking close to her. It took me back in time just 13 short years ago, when I had 5 children under 8 years old.

Going to Walmart was a chore. I would park by the outside buggy corral. and leave the children in the car to go get a cart. I would bring the cart to the car and load the children in. I remember well leaning my pregnant belly over the seats and unbuckling little ones, releasing them from their car seats. The infant car seat would go on the front of the cart. The 2 year old would go in the back of the cart. The 4 year old would either hang on to the cart (with strict instructions not to let go) or hang on to the side of my skirt. The 6 year old was instructed to do the same...only on the other side. The 8 year old was on his own, under my watchful eye. Parking lots and children always worried me.

The main thing I dreaded was bathroom breaks. My boys were too young in my opinion to go into the mens bathroom alone, unchaperoned. So they all had to come into the ladies with me. I would take baby (in car seat) 2 yo, and 4 yo into the big stall with me. I can remember saying things like:

HEY DON'T LOOK UNDER THERE!!!! (meaning don't look under the panel into the next stall)
No peeking!
Don't touch anything!
Don't lick your shoe!

It was a chore just to go to the bathroom. Now days I have big children to help with little children and things don't seem so hard or so stressful. I've mellowed out over the years and the small stuff like that doesn't bother me too much anymore.

As I watched the young mom, I thought of my older children when they were my younger children. There was a time back then when I could hardly wait for bed time because I longed for quiet. But in the year of 96-97 that changed. The house we lived in was small and very drafty. We curtained off several rooms and the children and I spent lots of time snuggled in the living room with cozy blankets keeping warm. The winter was cold that year.I was pregnant with our 6th child. I spent a lot of time reading aloud to the children. Good read aloud books like, Where the Red Fern Grows, by Wilson Rawls, The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew, by Margaret Sidney. One of my favorite memories is during the reading of Where the Red Fern Grows, looking up and seeing my 2 oldest with tears in their eyes because the second dog... Little Ann had died, she didn't want to live with out Old Dan. (getting a lump in the throat myself) We didn't have a TV. Reading was a good way to pass the evening.
During that year I began to enjoy the close quarters with my children and I no longer lived for bed time.

Those were good days.

These days I enjoy my littles much more and enjoy the help I have from my older children. I wouldn't trade those days back then for anything though and I would do it all again. When I look back and see how God has been faithful to the promise in his Word, that he shall gently lead those that are with young...Isaiah 40:11, I smile. Things have not always been easy. Raising teenagers into adults is a whole new world. There have been some issues that I wondered if we would ever get through, and I will probably get there again, but we did get through! God is faithful. Faithful is he that calleth you, who will also do it.

All that to say, I hope that young mom knows the gold mine she has in her possession. I hope she is enjoying her children to the fullest. What a blessing she was to me today, walking into Walmart with her little children.

Friday, February 18, 2011

This Moment

A single photo, capturing a special moment.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

How To Make Tamales


1-1#bag of corn husks

12 cup masa
3 cup lard or shortening divided
8-10 cup pork broth (or whatever meat you use)
3tsp salt

9-10# pork boiled till tender and deboned chopped in food processor. You can shred meat with fingers or forks if you like that texture better.
Save broth for making masa
2 taco mix
1 large can of jalapenos chopped in food processor
1 can rotel (tomatoes and chiles I use walmart brand)

Here is what I do
After meat is done cooking I let it and broth cool. I pour off the broth into a gallon jar and refridgerate until the fat hardens on the top of broth and I skim it off and throw it away. I put the meat into the food processor and chop it (not mush it) then I blend together the Rotel, taco seasoning and jalapenos in the processor and add to the meat. I make sure the seasonings are mixed into the meat thoroughly . The idea is to have the meat spicy because the masa, while it has a good, wholesome, corny taste to it, is bland, in that there is no spiciness whatsoever.

About an hour before I'm ready to make the masa and roll tamales, I put my corn husk into a bowl or gallon jug and run HOT water over them and let them soak until I'm ready to roll tamales. Before I roll I put them into a strainer and let them drain.

Put 2c lard in large bowl the other 1c lard in a pan to melt. Mix lard with 4c masa and salt. Then alternate adding rest of masa and broth. Then add melted lard. You want a masa that spreads easy on the husk but is not too wet. If it doesn't spread easy add in a bit more broth. Mixing masa is hard on your mixer. I go through 2-3 cheap mixers a year if I'm making tamales every week.

When you roll tamales feel your corn husks. One side will feel smooth and the other will feel rough. Spread masa on the smooth side.

After they are rolled I put them in my steamer and steam for about 2-3 hours.
The way to tell if your tamales are done is to take one out of the steamer and let it set for 3-5 min. When you unroll the tamale it should pull away from the husk smoothly.

This recipe makes 9-12 dozen tamales.

Soaked Husks
Tamale's 1

Masa should have a smooth consistency. It should spread on to the husk smoothly. If it is hard to spread add more broth. Dryer masa will result in tougher tamales. Too wet masa will result in mushy tamales.
Seasoned meat (pork in this picture...dd said it looked like oatmeal cookie dough)
Spread the masa on the husk. I hold the husk with the narrow end pointing away from me and spread it on with the back of a spoon.
I bring the outer edges of the husk together and run my fingers down the husk where the masa meets inside, to seal the tamale...this is what makes the masa completely encase the meat.
Roll the extra husk around the tamale and fold the pointed end up.
As I roll them I stack them on the table.
When I get 8-9 dozen rolled I load them in the steamer.
Tamales 8
Even the very youngest love them.
We Love Tamales 2

Also tamales freeze well. Some of our favorite ways to eat tamales....Tamales and chili, tamales dipped in ranch, cold tamales, tamales with salsa and cheese and tamales with enchilada sauce.
People who like tamales like my recipe. People who don't like them, are usually people who don't like spicy food.(I used to sell these every Saturday at a local farmers market)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

February 16, 2011

Outside my window...Birds are chirping

I am thinking...about what needs to be accomplished today

I am thankful for...God's mercy

From the learning rooms...Reading "Chatterer the Red Squirrel" to my youngest scholar

From the kitchen...Oatmeal for breakfast

I am wearing...khaki skirt, black tee, green cable stitch sweater, sneakers

I am creating...dress for Livia and curtians

I am our orthodontist today

I am reading...The Law and Rightly Dividing the Word Revisited by James Knox

I am camera comes early!

I am hearing...the happy hum of children

Around the desk needs cleaned off

One of my favorite things...polka dots

A few plans for the rest of the week:a friend coming for lunch tomorrow, finish Livia's dress and the curtians, home school skating on Friday.

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...

Saturday, February 12, 2011

From Worn and Weary

I've been fixing up a new spot in my house as a sewing area. My 9 year old daughter enjoys sewing and knitting so I wanted her to have a spot too.

We've had a little table around the house for a few years that we've used a lot. When company comes its handy to pull out and the children have used it and used the chairs a lot. Needless to say its a bit worn. Still very usable but not so nice as it once was.
The blue chair has seen better days.
I decided to give the table and chair a new 'do' and put them in a corner of our new sewing area so that, Livia, my daughter could have her sewing machine set up all the time.
I added some Velcro to the corners to keep the new table cloth stable.
I laid the top of the chair on a piece of printer paper and made a template for the top chair cover. I added the red rick rack just for kicks. Its cute!

A bright, fun place for a girl to sew up a fantastic wardrobe for her dolls.
For now, please excuse the quality of my pictures. My photographer fell in love and was married at the end of January and she took her camera with her. I'm looking at cameras, trying to decide what to purchase. So until then, my cell phone is my only means of taking pictures.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Bread in a Jar!

I'm interested in learning to preserve or "can" as I call it, anything that can possible be canned. Awhile back I heard about canning bread and was intrigued with the idea.

Life went on and I forgot about it. But! I was reminded of it again this last week and decided to give it a whirl.

I doubled the recipe. As seen in pictures below I used wide mouth pints. I wish I would have had 1/2 pints though. Doubling the recipe only produced 5 pint jars. I filled them to just under 1/2 full and they rose to about 1 inch below the rim of the jar. They could have been a little fuller...just a little though.
It was super easy. It didn't take anymore time to make than a regular homemade cake. I had a child grease the jars while I was mixing.

The children licked the bowl and said the batter was YUMMY!
I added chopped pecans and milk chocolate chips because that is what I had.

Before baking:

Posted Image

After Baking:
Posted Image

In my oven it took more like 30 minutes to bake in the jars. It would be less if half pint jars were used.
Four of the jars sealed within just a minute or two. One jar didn't seal quick so I took the lid off and wiped the rim and the seal and put it back on the jar. It sealed with in a few minutes.

It would be a cute gift to give, especially with some cute fabric and ribbon tied around the lid/top of the jar. I think it would be fun to have these on hand to set on the table at breakfast for a special birthday child.

Brownie Cakes
Sift together:
1 c. flour
1 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
Melt together:
1/3 c. butter
3 Tbs. cocoa powder
1/4 c. water
Mix butter mixture with dry ingredients and the following:
1/4 c. buttermilk*
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/4 c. chopped walnuts
Bake at 350 for around 30 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean.
I don't always have buttermilk on hand so I put two tablespoons of white vinegar in a measuring cup and added enough milk to bring it to 1 cup.