November 7, 2013

Preserving Fall Leaves for Thanksgiving Name Cards

Thanksgiving is such a warm and fuzzy kind of holiday.
I really love to make the place settings simple yet special for everyone.
We went on a vacation a few weeks ago to a favorite spot in the Cascades…Fish Lake!
We used to go there every year as kids and it was my Dad’s favorite place.
This year the whole family came and it was so much fun!
 I took it upon myself to collect some pretty maple leaves that were turning colors.
I thought I would use them for place cards this year…
To do this yourself {it’s sooo easy} just collect an assortment of pretty leaves and press them for a couple of days in a heavy book.
 Take them out and spread them on parchment paper.
With a foam brush, lightly spread Mod Podge on one side of the leaf.
Get your kids involved!
Jack loved helping me with this project :).
Let them dry.
About half way through the drying process,  pick up the leaf to ensure it doesn’t adhere to the parchment.
Just set it back down and it will thoroughly dry without sticking.
Repeat on the back side of the leaf if you like.
After the leaves dry, they will end up being pretty sturdy and easy to work with.
With a permanent marker, write the recipients name on each leaf.
 So super simple!
Plates: TJ Maxx
Cloth Napkins: Tutorial HERE
Silverware: Yard Sale
Crocheted Placemat: My husband’s grandmother…oh how I wish I had more!
Have a wonderful Fall day!

June 6, 2013

Make Your Own Canning Jar Cup with Straw

Aren’t these cutest things ever?

I love Ball canning jars and thought this was the best idea for summer.
This handy dandy portable cup with straw is perfect for car trips, parties, or just to use at home!
I have seen them many places…so this is a copy cat idea.
But here is my take on how to make them!

I made several and they were super easy, fast, and my kids love their new cups.

You will need:

canning jar and lid {blue Ball jars sold HERE if you can’t find them  locally}
3/8th drill bit….or a nail and a pair of needle nose pliers
1/4 inch rubber grommets {sold at hardware stores…or HERE}
*the inside of the grommet (or sometimes called a gasket) measures 1/4 inch

First you will need to drill a hole that is 1 cm wide on the top lid.
You can safely drill a hole by holding the lid tightly and letting it overhang halfway over a sturdy table or surface.a
Drill in desired spot.

If you don’t have a drill, you can use a hammer and nail to make the initial hole.
Then use your needle nose pliers to gently make a 1 cm opening.

Make sure the underside has all metal around the hole pressed flat.
You could also trim with small wire cutters.
It just needs to be flat!

Now insert your grommet.

It’s that simple!
It might take 5 minutes to put together.
*I wash the lids with soap and water, dry thoroughly, and haven’t put them in the dishwasher.

Enjoy your perfect portable summer cup!


April 27, 2013

Making Homemade Yogurt

I think I have quite possibly stumbled upon the most perfect yogurt in the world.
I owe my gratitude to Roller Mill Farms  who posted the recipe not long ago.
And, oh my, it is simply creamy, delectable, full of good bacteria to help balance flora in your gut, and

 There are so many reasons to love real yogurt. By making your own, you ensure that you are indeed including live, active cultures that are quintessential to a healthy belly.
You can also flavor it to your palate and even make it sugar free!
Homemade Vanilla Yogurt
1 gallon organic whole milk
3 TBS. yogurt with LIVE CULTURES to use as a starter {I used vanilla Tillamook brand}
3 TBS. real vanilla extract
stevia or honey to taste
4 sanitized quart canning jars with lids
Heat your milk in a heavy stainless steel pot to 180 degrees, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat immediately…don’t let it cook long at 180….it will have a different taste if you do.
Put pot in sink of ice water and cool milk to 120 degrees.
Add starter, vanilla, and honey or stevia.
I usually taste the batch to see if it is sweet enough.
Whisk milk until ingredients are thoroughly incorporated.
Heat oven to 200 degrees, then turn off.
Fill jars with milk, seal, and let sit in oven for 8 hours.

You will want to heat the oven to 200 degrees again after 4 hours, and then turn off.

DO NOT DISTURB the yogurt…or try to “check on it.”
After 8 hours, remove from oven and put in refrigerator until completely cool.
My yogurt always turns out creamy and thick.
If you want a Greek style yogurt, simply pour into a colander lined with 2 layers of cheesecloth or a coffee filter.
Strain off the whey for 15 – 30 minutes.
The longer you strain, the thicker the yogurt.
If you have lumps you can’t get with stirring, you can use an immersion blender to smooth it out.
Don’t forget to keep 2 tablespoons yogurt starter for the next batch.
 You can even freeze the starter!
* For plain yogurt, emit sweetener and vanilla.
For fruit flavors, be sure to add after the yogurt is made, before enjoying it.
The possibilities are endless…
Yogurt pairs so well with crunchy,homemade granola.
What a healthy little breakfast when you are in a rush.
Have you tried my granola recipe?
It is divine….click here.

For the crockpot method of making yogurt, click HERE.
Happy yogurt making!

April 6, 2013

Make Your Own Vitamin C Anti Aging Serum

Who doesn’t want dewy, youthful, glowing skin all year long?
I know I do.

As I age I am finding that my skin feels dry, though I nourish it with lots of water and good moisturizers.
We live in an area full of wind, hot summer weather, and low moisture…so I have a few things against my skin when I step outside.
But we have lots of glorious sunshine, which in small doses, is so good for you…even your skin!
In an effort to begin a new routine of toxic free skin care, I have been researching products….and my findings have been downright scary.
From sunscreen to moisturizers and common makeup on the market….all I find are products laden with heavy chemicals known to disrupt hormone levels, cause cancer, and promote other diseases.
Our skin is the largest organ in our body and why not tenderly nourish it with products that gently promote rejuvenation and healing.
Forget the products out there that cause damage and are filled with chemicals designed to lengthen shelf life.
There are just a handful of companies that truly do use fresh, organic, nourishing natural ingredients.
Anderson Family Farm happens to be one of my favorites!
Their long line of spectacular moisturizers and other beauty products are all natural and beautifully formulated.
Goat Milk Lotion - Pure - Click Image to Close
My favorite lotion…
I love that my skin feels like it just had a long, nutritious drink after using their products.
Everything is fresh and easily absorbed into your skin.
Did you know that the cosmetics industry is unregulated and many products are made from poorly tested chemicals?
Makers can use almost any ingredient they choose AND the FDA can’t require safety tests or recall harmful products.
Source here…
I found a high quality makeup company and feel like their line is quite possibly the best on the market.
I was introduced through a wonderful blog, Roost.
RMS Beauty has a line of makeup that heals and nourishes the skin and is completely non toxic.
Slowly, I am ordering as the budget allows :).
If you know me, you know that I am also a “do it your selfer”, and of course, I love it when I can create something that has impeccable quality and is easy on the pocket book.
I am planning an upcoming post on homemade sunscreen.
There is a lot of controversy right now as to if you even need it, but we tend to have longer exposure to the sun and I feel like it is a good thing to have on hand.
We have also generously increased our antioxidant levels and good Omega’s….but I will talk more about that later.
Today I will share a most amazing serum that requires very few ingredients…some of which you may already have on hand.
It is quite easy to make and your skin will feel renewed and moisturized.
Wrinkles will fade and the serum is chock full of vitamins and antioxidants formulated in smaller molecules so that they can absorb deep into the skin.
Serums are designed to penetrate and treat various skin conditions, such as redness, dehydration or lack of firmness, wrinkles, dark spots or to brighten the skin.
They tend to also be a fairly expensive purchase!
Serums do not replace moisturizers, so you will want to keep a good moisturizer in your routine.
Rather, serums are designed to deliver rich nutrients deep into the skin because they are made from smaller molecules.
For the best results, apply this serum after cleansing and toning and then follow up with a moisturizer to seal it in and increase the potency.
The serum contains:
Vitamin C {L Ascorbic Acid}: 
Improves the appearance of skin by reducing fine lines and wrinkles and protects and lessens the effects of sunburns.
It also protects the skin from free-radical attack, and prevents skin cell damage due to ultraviolet radiation.
Once L-Ascorbic acid penetrates the skin, it stays there for up to 72 hours.
 This means that a properly formulated topical vitamin-C product can have a long lasting effect in the skin.
Fast acting, results can be seen in just a few days or weeks of use.
Improvement in skin texture and skin tone is easily noticeable after several days of use.
Depressed scars may take several months to be normalized.
Almond Oil:
protects the skin from sun damage, relieves inflammation and irritation, rejuvenates and softens skin, reduces scarring.
Olive Oil:
Rich in vitamin E, plumps and moisturizes skin, fights free radicals, calms irritations.
Geranium Essential Oil {Optional}:
helps scars and other spots on skin to fade, facilitates blood circulation just below the skin surface, encourages regeneration of new cells, and tones up muscles and skin.
Lavender Essential Oil {optional}:
antifungal and great for eczema added to chamomile, reduces wrinkles and scars, very soothing.
Vitamin C Anti Aging Serum
1/2 tsp L Ascorbic Acid {Buy HERE}
5 tsp. distilled water {this is important as the high oxygen content in tap water will cause the Vit. C to break down faster.} OR 5 tsp. rose water
3 tsp. almond oil {source}
1/2 tsp. olive oil
3 drops geranium essential oil
3 drops lavender essential oil
2 oz. small dark dropper bottle {I bought mine HERE}
{You need a dark bottle as the light can cause the ascorbic acid to fade in potency.}
First mix the Vit. C crystals with the distilled water.
Stir frequently until completely dissolved. This may take up to 20 minutes, but you want to make sure you don’t have a grainy mixture.
Also, do not heat the distilled water. Heat will cause the Vit. C to break down and you want the maximum effectiveness on your skin.
Add the rest of the ingredients and then stir until mixed well.
Carefully pour into your bottle and store for up to two weeks.
After that, the serum loses potency.
{ I used my cream container to pour.}
Ascorbic acid breaks down fast and you want it to be super fresh for maximum absorption.
Apply at night after cleansing and follow up with a moisturizer.
I love how this serum feels on my skin.
Instantly everything feels firm, yet moisture rich!
Best of all the ingredients are fresh, natural, and healing to the skin.
*Please note: it is wise to test a small area on your skin first. Some people are sensitive to ascorbic acid. This product has worked wonders on my skin, but you should always test a small area first!
I also give the bottle a little shake before applying.
Looking for more great recipes for skin care…click HERE for a really good resource!

February 25, 2013

Make Your Own Little Drawstring Gift Bags…{Great for Easter!}

I am joining the sweet Jen Rizzo for her 6 Days of Spring Linky Party.
I love this time of the year and what fun to share “springy” ideas!
Spring is upon us and I can’t wait for warmer weather, flowers, and Easter!
We usually celebrate Easter with simple little gifts, so yesterday I started making these darling little drawstring bags to hold goodies.
This project is perfect for using up scraps of fabric that you have collected.
Here is what you will need:
{Makes a 5 1/2 x 7 1/2 inch bag}
2 pieces of your choice in fabric, cut 6 1/2 inches wide by 9 3/4 inches long
18 inches of cotton string/cording
Safety pin
First, cut your fabric and then hem three sides using a 1/2 inch hem.
Now you will make the sleeve for the drawstring.
I love that the end project has finished edges inside and out :).
Iron down about 1/4 of an inch all the way across.
Now fold over one inch and press.
Repeat with the other piece of fabric and double check that they line up perfectly.
Stitch along the lower edge of the sleeve, back stitching at each end.
Place right side together and match the tops exactly.
Pin together if you like.
Sew around the inside of the finished edges…LEAVING at least a 1/4 inch from the top open {from the bottom sleeve seam}.
You will need some room for the cord to freely run through the top.
I back stitched 3 or four times at the top corner to give the bag some strength.
I hope this picture makes what I am talking about a little clearer.
 I stitched close to the edge of the hems all the way around and left about a 1/4 inch open at the top.
Make sure you reinforce with the back stitching!
Now turn your little bag right side out.
Give the corners a little push with a blunt edge and iron flat.
You are ready to insert the cotton string.
See how the top has a little extra room?
 The inside of the bag has nice finished edges.
 Attach the safety pin to the end of your string and start threading through the sleeve.
Thread through both sides until you have the ends of the string out one side of the bag.
Neatly tie a little knot at the end…leaving at least 2 1/2 inches out.
That’s it!
It took me around 15 minutes to make one, so this is a relatively fast project and so fun!

I made them in a couple of different patterns, and for those of you who would rather just purchase one all ready to go, I have a few in my SHOP…
just in time for Easter!

You can make them in all colors and they look darling stuffed with little gifts.
Because they are made so sturdy, the bags would make a great eyeglass case, pouch for nail polish and other things, or even to reuse for another gift!
Happy Spring!

January 28, 2013

The Best Minestrone Soup Ever

It has been a very trying and busy few weeks for our family, so I made this soup.
Soup makes everything better and this recipe was comfort food at its best.
Delicious with crusty bread and a salad, I think the balsamic vinegar added a rich flavor to the base.
You will LOVE it.
It is one of those recipes you will make over and over through the years:).

The Best Minestrone Soup

{Original recipe from HERE…but of course I tweaked it.}

Serves 4 generously.

I doubled it for our family of 6.

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, or 2 TBS minced garlic
  • 5 cups (40 oz) chicken stock
  • 1 lb diced tomatoes with their juice
  • 2 large carrots (or a handful of baby carrots) sliced about ¼” thick
  • 4-5 large handfuls of spinach leaves (I use the bagged/pre-washed)
  • 1 14.5 oz can white beans (cannellini or great northern) rinsed
  • 1 T basil
  • 1 T oregano
  • 1/2 T sugar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 c. macaroni or shells { I substituted 4 large diced potatoes}
  • 2T balsamic
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 T coarsely chopped fresh or dried parsley
  • Grated parmesan

Saute onion and garlic in olive oil until translucent and then add the chicken stock, tomatoes, carrots, potatoes {if you choose},basil, oregano, sugar, and bay leaves. Cover partially and simmer for 20 minutes until carrots are tender. Add the pasta {if you choose} and cook uncovered for 8-10 minutes. Add the spinach, beans, balsamic vinegar and simmer until cooked. 

Add salt and pepper to taste and garnish with parsley and fresh parmesan.

Oh yum!


PS: Thank you ever so much for your kind words and condolences.
It meant so much:).

July 2, 2012

How to Dehydrate Cherries

My Mom was so nice the other night to run into town and pick up 10# of Bing cherries for me.

We have had a really wet summer so far, and some of the cherry crops in the area are ruined.
I am really hoping I can find more!!
We LOVE them fresh, and if I have enough, I make jam.
Today, I decided to dehydrate them.
Oh, dried cherries are sooo good AND sooo expensive at the store!
Last time I checked, they were around $10 a pound.
Buying them at $1 a pound and dehydrating yourself works great.
I also watch for free deals, too.
Sometimes people have fruit trees in their back yards and are more than willing to let you pick all you want in exchange for a cherry pie:).
To dry cherries {according to the Ball Canning Book}:
Choose sweet or sour varieties.
Wash them thoroughly.
Using a cherry pitter, or your fingers, halve and take the pit out.
Place them in your dehydrator and set the temp at 165 degrees for 2-3 hours.

Then dry at 135 degrees until leathery and slightly sticky.
If you are worried about moisture content, just put a few of the dried cherries in a plastic lunch bag and seal.
If condensation occurs in the bag, then the fruit needs a little more time.
My cherries were dry in about 10 hours.

You can use dried sweet cherries as a snack or in place of raisins in baked goods.
Use sour varieties in baked goods.
Here is a link on how to dry cherries in your oven…if you don’t have a dehydrator.

Have a great day!


February 28, 2012

Make Your Own Everyday Dish Cloths

In the next couple of weeks, I am really focusing on Spring cleaning.
It is always a little daunting, thinking of all of the work, but I sooo love the end result.
Organizing, cleaning out, giving away…it just makes me feel good!
Usually I “Spring clean” all year and just take a room a month and deep clean.
This year, life was busier and I am back to doing most of it at once.

So, why not make it a pleasant experience and spice things up with some pretty dish cloths?

They are made from old towels and lovely scraps of fabric.
{Do you find you need to replace towels in the Spring, too?}
 I prefer to have absorbent cloths because when I clean…I really clean!
And these are not meant to be kept stain free…they are meant to be used!
I have other pretty towels that I save for drying dishes or my hands after cooking.
I want to emphasize that anyone can make these!
 They are super duper simple, quick, and such a money saver.
{I don’t use paper products in the kitchen at all.}
You will need:
old towels
several cotton fabric scraps at least 12×12 inches
you could also use old sheets, flannel shirts, or other cotton clothing for the top {use what you have on hand}

Cut a 12×12 inch square out of the towel and a matching piece of fabric.

Place together.

Sew about 1/2 inch all the way around, leaving the edges raw.
Wash, and the edges will fray nicely.

You have a pretty way to clean!

These cloths also make a nice gift for Moms…maybe even a new Mom with a little one?
If you want to add even more pretty things to your kitchen, you could try making my Everyday Napkins or Ruffled Dish Towel.
Happy Spring cleaning!

January 28, 2012

Make Your Own Everyday Cloth Napkins

In an effort to save a little, I decided it was high time we had everyday cloth napkins.
In my Grandma’s day, it was all they used and I am not sure why I haven’t made the switch before now!
They are sturdy, practical, money saving, and charming.
They would also make a lovely gift!

I bought a vintage sheet at Goodwill….the colors are so cheery and Spring like!
It was also made really well.
When looking for fabric for cloth napkins, you need to keep in mind that they will be heavily used.
Cotton fabrics are a great choice as they wash easily and are soft and absorbent.
My sheet was fairly thick and washed well.
I don’t believe I will iron the napkins unless we have company:).
I cut 8 napkins to a generous 21″ x21″, so that the final result is 20″x20″.
Make sure that you cut a perfect square.
I used my cutting mat and rotary cutter to measure perfectly.
I also made a few in a darker color for those meals that may possibly stain:).
The fabric is from my stash and I thought this was a perfect way to use up old material!
I found a great tutorial on mitered edges from Amy at Homestead Revival.
Hemming in this way gives your napkins a really finished look.

Use your iron to press the hem first…this really helps!

First, you will need to fold down the corners.
Measure 1.5 inches from the tip of the corner down each edge.
Fold down on these marks to make a triangle.
Press each corner down.

Snip off about a 1/2 inch of the triangle.

Press down each side about a half inch.

Fold over a second time…about a half inch…and press.

Repeat on all four sides. You may have to adjust things a bit to make everything fit perfectly.
The two hems should meet nicely in the middle like this…

Now, pin everything in place and stitch around the inside seam first.

This is what it will look like on the finished side.

I like to stitch a second seam along the outside edge to secure the corners down.
You could also make a small hem along the mitered seam instead.

And that’s it!

Everyday napkins are so economical and a really fast project.
I am hoping to make a few just for special occasions, too.
To care for your napkins, just spray with a stain remover after a meal…if you have stains.
I just wash and dry mine, fold them, and place them in a nice wire basket that sits near the table.
Ironing is really optional if you use the right fabric.

Enjoy your day!


October 3, 2011

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

The kids picked so many pumpkins from our garden yesterday.
It put us in the mood for a pumpkin treat, so I whipped up this delicious recipe for breakfast this morning.
I used the last of my frozen pumpkin puree…tutorial coming later this week:).

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Recipe from Lisa Pearson at Simply…This, That, And the Otherwith some adaptations:).

¼ cup water

1 Tbsp. yeast

½ cup milk, scalded

¼ cup sugar

¼ cup unsalted butter

1 tsp. sea salt

¼ tsp. cinnamon

½ tsp. nutmeg

¾ cup pure pumpkin {no spices added}

4 cups flour

In bowl of stand mixer, combine warm water and yeast.

In 2 cup measuring cup, scald milk in microwave.

Add sugar, butter, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir.

Pour milk mixture in with yeast mixture.

Add pumpkin.

Using dough hook, turn on machine and add flour gradually.

Mix until dough all comes together.
Remove dough from bowl and grease bowl.

Place dough in greased bowl and cover. Let rise for 1 hour.

On Roulpat or floured surface, roll dough out into a rectangle.

Spread with ¼ cup unsalted butter, room temp.

Sprinkle with SUGAR MIX {1 cup brown sugar, 2 Tbsp. cinnamon, ½ tsp. nutmeg}

Sprinkle with ½ cup semisweet chocolate chips.{OPTIONAL}

Roll up like a bug in a rug. Pinch seam together.

Cut in 1 ½ inch intervals. Place in prepared pan.

{You may place them in a 9×13 or in two pie plates}

Cover and let rest for about 20 minutes

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

Remove from oven and let sit for a few minutes.

Drizzle with glaze.
Serve while warm!

2 cups powdered sugar
4 Tbsp. milk
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Stir until drizzly.