Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Preparing Oatmeal for Toddlers

Learning to eat is messy business. When Goose was starting solids, I used baby rice cereal and baby oatmeal to thicken her baby food so it was easier to feed to her without it running everywhere. I use the same idea when I prepare oatmeal for her now - keep it thick.

I use less water for her oatmeal so that it stays on the spoon better on the way to her mouth. If I don't have enough water, though, it's a bit difficult for her to get on the spoon. It's a balance, and I don't measure the water; rather I eyeball it. Clean-up is much easier!

For more kitchen tips, visit Tammy's Recipes. And for those of you coming over from Tammy's Recipes, please visit this post that I wrote this weekend about cooking a frozen casserole and cheese buns on the grill!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Prayerful Beads

I'd like to introduce you to a blog that houses a very beautiful ministry - actually an apostolate - called Prayerful Beads. I bought two rosaries for two of my nieces and one for Goose several months ago and couldn't have been more pleased with them. (Click on those links to learn more about them.)

The ones I purchased are pictured above - please note that they are the pictures that Barbara took to post on her blog, I'm not that good of a photographer! :>) She gave me permission to post them here, which is wonderful because the two for my nieces were quickly passed along (much to their delight). Barbara's prices are noted in the descriptions, and she can create nearly anything that a person is looking to find. She also repairs rosaries, which I'm sure is quite a blessing to those needing that service.

If you're looking for a very high quality rosary at an affordable price, I encourage you to visit Prayerful Beads. And thank you to Barbara for your apostolate - I'm sure that God will richly bless you and your work!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Link Roundup, Mowed Lawn Version

Hubs mowed our lawn today, and I helped a bit. I think it's been six weeks that our mower has been in the shop (we think they lost our number, and since it wouldn't fit in the trunk of my car, *I* wasn't going to call . . .) - though Hubs has mowed a few times with the riding mower. Let's just say the garden is well-mulched now.

Kitchen Tip: Seriously, file this under "I can't believe it worked" - before Goose and I left for church tonight, I lit the grill on one side and put a frozen casserole on the other side. It was one of my baked spaghetti casseroles. By the time we got home (around two hours after I threw it on), the edges were warm enough to eat, though the middle wasn't quite hot. It was only in the mid 80s, today, too!

To go with it, I softened some butter in the microwave and stirred in some shredded mozzarella then some Garlic Bread Sprinkle. I spread that on some hamburger buns that were getting a bit old, and put them on the grill on low. Once the cheese was melted, the bread was sufficiently crispy on the bottom and it was good! I was glad to not have to use the oven, too.

Don't know that I'll bother to make the stars, but I marked this post at Alphamom for the sidewalk chalk recipe.

Homemade bubbles, this time at Make and Takes. Another one here at Sparkle Power. And this one at Living a Better Life.

I've seen these little baby gifts around (this one at Kate's Kitchen), a little bag that will hold a travel case of wipes and a diaper, sometimes perhaps a travel changing pad as well. However, those of us who are in love with our cloth diapers would need a bigger bag! (and a wet bag of some sort . . . )

Had to double check - I found this finger paint recipe at Pepper Paints - I posted one a while back on poster paint.

These sun prints are interesting, but I found myself wondering if one couldn't do something similar with a dark colored piece of construction paper and a south-facing window, plus more patience and the ability to leave it be for a while. (The Light Garden)

No Time For Flashcards posted on making your own post office and toddler shopping list. Fun!

This huge indoor drying rack at Engineer a Debt Free Life provides an interesting alternative to a clothesline. It would be rather practical in the wintertime when one needs moisture in the house, but I'm not sure I'd be willing to sacrifice THAT MUCH space for it. Priorities, I suppose.

How cute is this sweet pea tipi?!? (or teepee - depends on your region, I suppose) (@ Chasing Cheerios) I love the idea of making something like that more or less permanent.

Solar ovens are fascinating to me right now (here's one at SolarNow.org) but refer to my casserole on the grill above and I wonder if I need it. Of course, we do have to buy the propane.

Make your own bath toys at Plum Pudding.

This homemade rain at Salt and Chocolate was so intriguing that I had to click through. Something tells me that if I put a swimsuit on Goose and handed this to her, she'd love it!

Very cute backpack made from a towel at The Idea Room (via Lori).

For the toddler/preschool/homeschool set: toddler activity bags and phonics bags here, here, and here (Chasing Cheerios and Muses of Megret).

More popsicle recipes, found at Tipnut.

I'll probably never make these, but these sweet burgers and fries are ADORABLE. (Bakerella, who else?)

I keep stumbling across Muffin Tin Monday where you serve your toddler's lunch in a muffin tin on Mondays per whatever theme they have. Wonder if Goose would eat better that way? She might be a bit young to be charmed by the concept. Today, she ate her peas and left most of her pizza.

These lollipop firework cake toppers are so cool! I'm thinking flowers . . . (@ Wisdom of the Moon)

Our pantry is a large cupboard, which is more than many have. Still, if we ever build a house, I would love a walk-in pantry, and ideas on how to organize it are always a good thing. Scroll down the comments to the one from Kay Brooks for good info.

****DON'T DO :>)
Trying to resist adding to my reader: Teach Mama. Argh! I don't know how long I'll be able to hold out!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Button and Fabric Barrettes

A while back, in one of my Reading the Whole Internet posts, I mentioned this post and its update, tutorials on making button and fabric barrettes. I made these for a niece's birthday a while back, but had plenty of trouble myself.

I ended up cutting a piece of fabric and stitching a pocket of sorts around the barrette. I first folded it up from the bottom so that the raw edge was as far into the open barrette as it could get. I then folded the top down and folded that raw edge under.

I gave very brief thought to machine stitching around the barrettes but quickly discarded that thought as the rigid barrettes would make that difficult. So, I hand stitched up one side and down the other of the barrettes. I then cut off the extra on either side, and used a liquid sealant (Fray Check, perhaps? Can't find it now-) to seal the raw edges on either side of the barrettes. Here's what they look like on the front and back:

You may notice that the ink I used to draw lines bled through - I actually re-did those. Then I went and bought a disappearing ink fabric pen! I used my hot glue gun to attach the buttons, trying to find that fine line between enough glue to hold it on and not too much that it doesn't stick well. As noted in the amendments, you can sew your button to a small scrap of fabric and then glue that onto the barrette.

Here are the finished products:

Pretty cute, I think! I also like the way the fabric covers the spot on the hem clip (which I used per the tutorial versus barrettes) where it is riveted together - I thought that might catch hair if a little girl just pulled them out instead of opening them.

For more frugal ideas, visit Life As Mom.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

More Yumminess

This afternoon, Goose and I "splish-splashed" in her wading pool and she honed her soap bubble-blowing proficiency since we didn't have to worry about dripping bubble solution all over. (I know I have a recipe for homemade bubbles somewhere - I need to look for that!)

As a recovering vegetarian, I'm pleased to announce that I survived grilling chicken for the first time! I used the boneless skinless breasts that I mentioned here that were in Amy's marinade.

In a word, delicious!

I will definitely be using this again! And, in the spirit of freezer cooking, I will freeze uncooked chicken breasts in the marinade and they will marinate as they thaw then be ready to throw on the grill! I do think they'd be quite good in the crockpot, and I will be trying them that way.

I also made a broccoli cauliflower salad, and for dessert, we had banana boats from Frugal Family Fun Blog. Also very delicious!

My broccoli salad recipe comes from a hospital (really!). I used to be on the regional health board and we met in one of the hospital's meeting rooms with a catered supper. This dish was so good, I wrote and requested the recipe. I halve the original recipe, so that is what I'll give you. Feel free to double it!

Veggie Salad with Cheese and Bacon

5 cups fresh vegetables, chopped
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
3 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/2 cup mayonnaise (I use fat-free)
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon vinegar

Combine vegetables, cheeses, and bacon. Stir together remaining ingredients for dressing, mix well. Pour over vegetables, toss to coat. Cover and chill.

Suggested veggies include: broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber, radishes, carrots, onion, green pepper

Personally, I stick to broccoli and cauliflower, and I cook it a bit first, otherwise we seem to get awfully rumbly in the tumbly. :>)

Food Substitutions

Since we live in the middle of nowhere, if I'm out of an ingredient, just running to the store isn't an option. Plus I do a lot of cooking during Goose's naptime, so I couldn't go anywhere even if I wanted! Enter The Cook's Thesaurus.

I have used it for a huge variety of things - what the proportion of ingredients is for self-rising flour (since I don't buy it), how much molasses and white sugar makes brown sugar, what cuts of beef are similar to swap out in recipes, and the list goes on. I've found it especially helpful when a recipe calls for a rather exotic ingredient that I can't find or is quite expensive. Often I can discover a more common, cheaper alternative, or I can confirm that I can leave it out with little ill effects.

Categories it covers include:
Vegetables * Fruits * Dairy * Flavorings * Liquids * Grains * Grain Products * Baked Goods * Legumes and Nuts * Meats * Fish * Vegetarian * Baking Supplies * Fats & Oils * Accompaniments * Equipment * Miscellaneous

There is also a search box in case you're not quite sure where your ingredient falls. I've used this site a LOT and have never been let down!

Interestingly, I've found there are two web addresses that both point to The Cook's Thesaurus. They are http://www.switcheroo.com/ and http://www.foodsubs.com/. I usually type in the switcheroo one because I can remember it more easily.

Happy substituting! For more kitchen tips, visit Tammy's Recipes.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Weekly Link Roundup - Where Does Time Go?

It seems like I just posted one of these, and here it is the weekend again already. Holy buckets. Goose and I had a few hours of power shopping garage sale style today and yesterday. We came home with a toddler-sized slide, a bag of clothes pegs (just wait 'till you see what I do with THOSE!), a couple of vintage-ish craft book as is my seeming passion, a sit-and-spin, and a few other odds and ends. My goal was to find a pressure-type baby gate and an electric knife. No dice. Goose is a bit under the weather, a bit of a cold and her first actual episode of puking. Here's hoping THAT doesn't repeat itself anytime soon. Anyway, here's what I bookmarked this week:

I thought this is a good intro article on bulk buying. (Wise Bread)

My kitchen is currently a war zone as this article on Tipnut is helping me get rid of ants. So far, so good.

We have two cats that like to sit in the windows and look out. One of their favorite windows is directly above our bedroom (that is in the basement) window. Occasionally, tom cats will wander by and mark their territory, and due to the poor quality of our window, our bedroom then stinks! I have taken to sprinkling cayenne pepper outside our window every now and then, but this article also from Tipnut gives cleanup pointers.

Thrifty Mommy at BlissTree.com has a recipe for pumpkin crunch cake that makes me want to go bake RIGHT NOW. I'm thinking I'll leave out the nuts, though.

And if I'm feeling the need to be just a bit healthier, I'll try this apple bread recipe from Frugal Upstate. (Hope the link works, it gave me some trouble.)

There is so much I could say about this . . . but the bottom line is that I believe IVF is morally wrong. Here is a story about a couple's baby that was aborted after the embryo was implanted in the wrong woman.

This is interesting - a reprint of an article by an agnostic who is wondering why people can't figure out that the Catholic Church is not a democracy.

I love this list of ways to help your toddler behave at Mass at First Heralds. We can't pass a brick building that *might* be a church without saying "Hi, Jesus!". And considering our church is one block from our house, we say hi to Him a lot.

Fall is my favorite time of year, and I love these ideas at Martha Stewart for a fall party. Of course, Hubs is too busy actually harvesting for me to throw a harvest party, but I can dream.

And if I have such a party, I might whip up some cute little party lights as shown here at ReeseDixon.com.

Here's a very cute girly skirt at Pleasant View Schoolhouse. I don't know how Goose is going to run around the farm in all these skirts I'm bookmarking, but thank goodness we go to church!

I am head over heels for these silhouette paintings at Chasing Cheerios. We won't get to them in time for Father's Day, but that's OK 'cause it would help Goose to be a bit older, anyway.

These bath salt bars are a great gift idea. (Instructables)

Sweet Thing(s) has a recipe for cornstarch dough that I bet Goose would enjoy.

I could see making notecards with this flower pounding method found at Build/Make/Craft/Bake.

Baby Changing Table

I have designs of doing a little tour of our nursery which was assembled with things that were mostly given to us, but for now, I'll start with telling about our changing table. The first thing you may notice is that it's actually a dresser!

This is what my mother used as a changing table for my brother and me, and I happily accepted when she offered it to me to use with the Goose. I believe she put a folded towel down as a pad; I opted to purchase a changing pad from Wal-Mart for about $20. (it looks like it's gone up a bit)

Rather than buy several covers for it, I received two homemade ones as gifts (my MIL made the one shown below) and after measuring, I found a pair of extra large pillowcases on clearance that match the rest of the room perfectly. When Goose was still spitting up, I placed a burp rag under where her head laid and changed it as needed.

(Note that you can see my homemade wipes and homemade detangler in the photos!)

Goose has always enjoyed watching herself in the mirror, and it is so handy to have her things right there as I'm changing her. The top left drawer has been used for burp rags, socks, leg warmers, and now holds some tiny undies, too; the top right drawer holds her "toiletry" items such as hair doodads, comb, clippers, thermometer, and lots more miscellaneous. The middle drawer holds her clothes (I hang some in the closet as well), and the bottom drawer holds blankets. I probably need to move those out as we don't use them at all.

When the door is open, it is against the side of the dresser, so I put a stick-on pad on the door to protect both of them. Then, I hung a hook that goes over the door, and tied a pretty ribbon to the handle of a basket I received as a shower gift and use that to hold diapers in reach.

In the top picture, you can see a small calendar hanging on the wall in the reflection of the mirror. During Goose's first year, I had one of those calendars on which you can record all their "firsts". Last year, we received a calendar with pictures of my nieces on it, and it now hangs in the spot. Goose loves looking at her cousins, and naming them off.

Underneath the dresser, I keep a large stainless steel bowl with some toys, and usually I keep her extra disposable diapers under there, too.

So, for about $30 and blessings from friends and family, we have enjoyed a delightful place to diaper our little one! For more frugal ideas, visit Life As Mom!

Inaugural Seven Quick Takes

We had quite a hail storm go through last night. No branches down, but lots of leaves are scattered all over. Our siding took some hard dings, and my garden looks a bit sad. I'm hoping it'll bounce back!! A cousin that lives a few miles from us said she noted hail that was near baseball sized. Yikes!

Hubs is fishing again today. I'm glad he gets to do fun things like that but I sure miss him while he's gone.

Goose and I are going to hit some garage sales this weekend. The nearby town is having city-wide sales, and I've marked a few that I want to go to for sure. One of the outfits I picked up for her last weekend is missing a few buttons, grr! It's my fault for not looking it over more closely. If I had sold it, though, I'd have attached a note (or piece of tape) that noted the missing buttons, AND I sure wouldn't have sold it for $2.75! But that's just me.

I practiced my knitting just a little bit more. I think I'm doing it right, anyway. I'm very deliberate still - my mom told me how she could knit and read, or watch TV. I'm not there yet.

I noted that Goose didn't nap the day I learned how to knit, and didn't sleep all that well that night. She's taken great naps since then (even falling asleep quickly, not her normal MO) and didn't peep once during the storm last night. It's all about letting go of that fear, right? Even when the two-year-old is being VERY TWO!

I don't think I've mentioned that Goose is going to be gone for a whole WEEK around the 4th of July. She's going to my parents', and my brother and his family will be there, so she'll have a ball. I'm pretty sure I'm going to miss her like crazy, in between appointments for a massage and my annual exam, work, hopefully a baseball game with Hubs, etc.
Oh, I really have no excuse for not cleaning the house top to bottom - except for all the blog posts I want to write. I'm thinking of a system where for every minute that I clean, I can spend like 50% of that much time on the computer, until the cleaning is done. Maybe I'd better cut back to 25%, though . . .

I will be participating in a weekly Bible study starting next week. I'm looking forward to spending a bit more time in God's word - there's so much to learn, and I can't figure it all out on my own!

Visit Conversion Diary for more quick takes!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

And a Good Time Was Had By All!

My small successes this week are all related to a fun time yesterday.

1) I *finally* got together with a friend in one of the nearby "cities". We've been saying "we need to get together" for well over a year.

2) Said friend began teaching me how to knit! And was so generous as to give me a pair of her knitting needles to boot!

3) Goose ended up not napping yesterday - I thought for sure she'd conk out on the way home. While I wasn't as patient with her last night as I should have been (especially during the HUGE cannonballs she was doing in the bathtub while I was working on my laptop next to it), I have been patient with her this morning. Right up to the time she walked out the door with Hubs to go to my MIL's since I have to work this morning. (It's much easier to be patient when there's a light at the end of the tunnel, eh?)

Here's hoping for a good nap this afternoon! For more moms' small successes, visit Faith & Family here.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Introducing My Hubs

I realized that I wrote this post a while back but never published it. This is Hubs feeding cattle. Hee.

After high school, Hubs spent four and a half years in the Air Force and was stationed in San Antonio, TX; Biloxi, MS; Minot, ND; Osan, South Korea, and Keflavik, Iceland. I joke that it's crazy I had to move *away* from Colorado Springs, practically the Air Force capitol of the world, to meet my fly boy.

He now farms and raises cattle with his dad and in conjunction with other uncles and cousins. One fun part of our relationship has been the way he patiently explains what this piece of machinery does or how [insert farming operation here] works. (I still have a lot to learn.)

Although he worked on radios in the USAF, he got his private pilot's license on his own. An unfortunate quirk of mine is that I can get motion sickness just sitting still! We've flown a number of places - the farthest being San Antonio for a Husker game - but now he just mostly zooms around locally. Lately he's started doing some loops and rolls and I do a lot of praying from the ground. I trust his skills implicitly - it's the plane and wind and stuff that might not hold up their end of the bargain.

He is an amazing papa, too. I'd not have made it through those first (FIFTEEN!) difficult months without him. I think Goose would climb over me and run right past a kitty begging to be petted if a tractor ride with Papa was waiting. One good lesson I've learned by watching him is that he's quite willing to let Goose play in the dirt or eat something messy but delicious. Things are definitely more fun with him around.

Baking Bacon and Using the Grease

There have been a number of posts on Kitchen Tip Tuesday lately on baking bacon. It is my preferred way of preparing it - I line two jelly roll pans (cookie sheets with sides) with foil and spread out a pound of bacon that has been cut in half. I bake it at 350 for usually around 25 minutes, rotating the pans every 10 minutes or so. I turn them 180 degrees and switch the top and bottom racks both.

Once the bacon is done, I use a fork to move it to two plates lined with paper towels. If you no longer use paper towels, I think I saw a kitchen tip once where they used a cooling rack over newspaper.

TIP: To use the grease, fold either side of one corner up and make a little spout with it. Pour it into a clean, empty jar. You can put a lid on it if you like, I leave mine open. I store it in the refrigerator, although my mother kept hers in a pot in a cupboard for years and never had any difficulty.

To use, my mom left a pastry brush in hers and would use that to grease her pans or for pan frying. I've seen people leave a small plastic bag tucked in the jar; they stick their hand in it, scoop up a bit of grease, and use that to grease pans, then just spoon out a bit for frying. I found I ended up with grease inside the bag more often than not!

My method of use is to tear off a small piece of paper towel and fold it over, swipe that through the grease, and use it to grease my pan - then throw it away.
Note that the if you let your grease sit and cool too long, it will "harden" (it doesn't get very hard) on the pan and you won't get as much to pour off.

Regardless, the bonus is that bacon grease doesn't turn into the nasty, sticky mess that non-stick spray does. Once my jar gets full - like it is now - I pour the grease over hard end slices of bread and feed them to our farm dog and barn cats. They enjoy the treat!

For more kitchen tips, visit Tammy's Recipes.

And, click here to see how I'm working on organizing my recipes and to tell me how you organize yours!

Organizing Recipes

There have been a few times that I've mentioned I'm working on organizng my recipes. It's a large project because I have a TON of recipes clipped. (And more waiting to be clipped, since a while back I found a large stack of my favorite recipe magazines at a thrift store.) I used to subscribe to the Reiman family of recipe magazines, including Taste of Home, Simple & Delicious, Healthy Cooking (formerly Light & Tasty, I think), and Cooking For 2.

After Goose was born, I gave them up. Not only did I not really have the time to read them, I already had *so many* recipes to try that I'll probably never get to them. In addition, I seem to find a ton of recipes just stumbling around online. I really like Amy's suggestion of just putting them right into your next meal plan, but I don't do a lot of meal planning yet. Hubs's schedule is pretty random, and since our family is so small, we end up with a lot of leftovers, which sometimes last longer than I think they will.

My initial method of sorting recipes was to use index card boxes. I just made dividers for the various categories, and ended up with subcategories within them. I liked that idea well enough, but before Goose was born, I decided I needed to utilize my technology and try to organize them in a searchable fashion on the computer. I used a spreadsheet and then categorized them in alphabetical order in the boxes. I didn't get far before I realized that wasn't going to work very well. What I liked about it was that I could enter more than one category for something - soup, and ham main dish, for example.

And now? I'm going back to my simpler method of dividing by category. I'm toying with the idea of using zip top bags to store them in, but for now I'm using them to sort. (I'm also thinking about clipping together similar recipes within the bag.) Thankfully we have a table in the kitchen where we eat so I can use the bigger dining room table for sorting recipes. I'm taking "one bite of the elephant at a time" - that is, I sort a bit each day. If I need to pick everything up, I just tuck the newly sorted recipes in the bags and pile them in the basin. It's also quite easy to pull them back out when I'm ready to sort again - there isn't a lot of setup time needed.

Most importantly, I am culling recipes that I really don't think we'll like. Over 5+ years of marriage, I've figured out a few more things on what Hubs likes and doesn't like (and what I like and don't like). Since we're trying to eat healthier, I also pull out ones that call for a lot of expensive convenience foods that we don't eat anymore. On the flip side, I'm pulling out ones that sound supper yummy that I would like to try right away. Regardless, I'm getting a better handle on what I have, and thinning out the ones I don't use so I can find things more easily.

Anybody have any tips for me? How do you sort your recipes?

Monday, June 15, 2009

On To The End

I woke up a bit anxious this morning as I had dreamed that Hubs was gone. This doesn't happen often, but enough that I know the anxiety can permeate my entire day if I let it. I have found the best way to rid myself of it is prayer. It's amazing how I can physically feel my nervousness lifting as God removes it.

As a quick aside, I am constantly evaluating how much time I spend online and usually deciding that it is way too much, but don't do anything about it. Kim has written an excellent post here after a week-long sabbatical from being online. Much food for thought.

Back to prayer. My college years were also filled with anxiety. I attended church frequently and stayed close to God in general, but I didn't lay things at His feet the way I do now. He reminded me to turn to Him in interesting ways, though. One summer, I spent a month studying in Mexico, and on either side of that trip, I worked for a State of Nebraska employee in a very bizarre internship. I compiled a few reports for him, but spent most of my time assisting his wife, who ran a Kumon Math Institute. There was a large poster in the bathroom of that office building with these words:

On To The End

Do not be disconcerted by the fits of vexation and uneasiness which are sometimes produced by the multiplicity of your worries. No, indeed, dearest child, all these are but opportunities of strengthening yourself in the loving forbearing graces which our Lord sets before us.

Be patient with everyone, but above all, with yourself. I mean, do not be disturbed because of your imperfections and always rise bravely from a fall. I am glad that you make a daily new beginning; there is no better means of progress in the spiritual life than to be continually beginning afresh, and never to think we have done enough.

Go on in all simplicity; do not be so anxious to win a quiet mind, and it will be all the quieter. Do not examine so closely into the progress of your soul. Do not crave so much to be perfect, but let your spiritual life be formed by your duties – and by the actions which are called forth by circumstances. Do not take over much thought for tomorrow. God Who has led you safely on so far, will lead you on to the end.

St. Frances de Sales

I have returned to these words that I scrawled in a notebook so many years ago time and time again. I'm amazed at how frequently I take away something different that I never noticed before. Today it was this part: "let your spiritual life be formed by your duties – and by the actions which are called forth by circumstances." God knows my circumstances, and he knows my weaknesses and limitations. His grace is enough to sustain me, though. And for that, I give thanks!

Learn more about St. Francis de Sales here, and the image and more info can be found here.

(PS - I think I'm going to link this up to Gratituesday tomorrow.)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sunday Garden Update, Week 7

My garden is doing great! The peppers are finally perking up a bit, and everything else is just growing along. Hubs has all the pieces of fence up except for a little bit for the green beans.

Goose and I went to Mass last night, so this morning I went out and weeded most of the garden. (I took the picture first, while I was thinking about it!) It's a much easier task with all the mulch, but there are some places that don't have any yet. By the time I got about 80% done weeding, the sun was out and I was hot, sweaty, and just plain tired. In fact, I'd be taking a nap now if it weren't for all the screeching that I've been hearing over the monitor. (Sigh.) I'm hoping things will quiet down soon, though. And since my lawn mower is still in the shop, it looks like Hubs will have to mow one more time with the riding mower, which means that I should (hopefully) have enough grass to finish mulching.

I don't think I've updated on how things are growing in the garden I planted at Hubs's grandmother's place. In short: not great. :>) It looks like at least a plant or two of everything is coming up - out of the 4-6 seeds I planted in 2-4 "hills" each! I think I'll have four or so vines of spaghetti squash, three or so of butternut squash, two or three of cantaloupe and watermelon, and the pumpkins probably are doing the best, though I can't remember how many of them came up. Better than a poke in the eye, though.

Feel free to share how things are growing at your place! The monitor is finally quiet, so I think I'm going to go lie down!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A Few Links For The Week

I'm listening to two things right now, neither of them all that good. One is a bug in what I think is a bag of Hubs's trash, but I'm not sure enough to throw it away. But the scritching is getting to me.

The other is Goose, over her monitor, playing away in her crib instead of napping. I'm 100% convinced that she still needs a nap, but when I put her down, she will play for up to two hours. It's much preferred to the two hours of screaming she used to do, but still frustrating in its own right. Plus, on one hand, I'm worried about her falling out of her crib (which happened once four months ago) but from what I've observed, she really likes the confined space for sleeping. Anyway.

Premeditated Leftovers has a post on making your own "paint with water" pages. I thought this was fun once in a while as a kiddo myself.

I still don't have Hubs convinced that we ought to get a wheat grinder, but instant mashed beans sounds pretty cool! (Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker)

Proverbs 31 Living has a lovely post on pressing flowers, with links to some very pretty things.

These velcro shoe add-ons would be a fun way to dress up a little girl's special outfit. (Happy Together)

I've not yet made the water bottle sling I posted last week, but this ribbon one at Martha Stewart is a bit easier, perhaps. And I need to get a real water bottle to go in the sling, first, so I know what size to make it . . .

Also on Martha Stewart is an interesting idea for making a blanket waterproof by attaching a layer with snaps. I especially like the suggestion to use "snap tape".

Lots of good tips on freezing fruit at Tipnut.

No Time for Flashcards has a fun post on spray painting for little ones.

Chasing Cheerios had a ton of stuff this week that I starred in my Google Reader. Activities include one big post on matching balloon textures, hammering golf tees, what doesn't belong? and matching varying sizes of triangles, painting egg carton cups to match colors with nature finds, making symmetrical butterflies, monoprinting, and seasons and clothes matching. Looks like lots of fun!

I know I need to just get out in my garden and start pulling, but this post at Tipnut on weed killers might come in handy for other areas.

It's not often that I recommend straight-up buying things, but Hair Bows 4 Life is a pretty uncommon website! I especially love their religious bows and that 10% of their sales is donated to the pro-life community. There is also a place to donate $5 which will pay for sending a bow to little girls in orphanages.

After spending an entire half day waiting on the "bus" system in the nearby "city", I told Hubs and my mom that "it takes a lot of time to be poor." According to this Washington Post article, it takes a lot of money, too. (You may need to register to read it - if you don't want to do that but would like to read it, leave me a comment with your e-mail address and I'll copy/paste it for you. It's pretty interesting!)

I'm kind of amused that this article written by an agnostic and reprinted at the Catholic Education Resource Center pretty well nails down why the Catholic Church is not a democracy. And thanks be to God that it is not! There are many different ways that one could interpret the Bible, and personally, I need a strong authority to help me figure out which one is correct.

It's been a bit since I've posted a recipe link . . . these popsicles at the Prudent Homemaker sound like just the thing for summer, if it ever gets here, that is. I'm not complaining, though! It'll be hot soon enough!

Sarah at Sarah's Musings posted on making honey-sweetened strawberry preserves and freezer jam. We love PB&J here, too, and this looks like an awesome idea! (Haven't tried it yet, but Laura at Heavenly Homemakers also recently put up a post on homemade peanut butter that she says is delicious!)

I have a recipe for peppermint taffy that I've been wanting to try for a few years, but haven't found anyone who wants to pull it with me. This post at Unplug Your Kids gives me hope that Goose can help me in a year or two. Or three.

Whew. In the time it took me to type all this out, Goose finally fell asleep and our internet connection went out but thankfully came back. I think I'm going to go treat myself to a bowl of cereal!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Taggie Blankets and Burp Cloths

We are at a season in our life where many people we know are having babies. We discovered when Goose was born that our friends and family are extremely generous, and I really want to be able to reciprocate love without going over budget.

Each week I compile a post of links (they can be found here) and most if not all contain handmade gift links that I've bookmarked, so when I need a gift I can often turn to my stash of fabric and ribbon scraps and come up with something lovely.

Two things I've made as baby gifts are taggie blankets and decorated burp cloths. I keep the cost of these low by shopping the remnant bins where I buy fabric (typically Wal-Mart and Hobby Lobby) for both fabric and ribbon. You want the fabric to be at least 14" long (usually it is the width of the bolt) and ribbon ought to be at least five to six inches long for blankets and 12-15" long for burp cloths. (It depends on the size of the diaper you find.) I usually go by feel as to what fabric I purchase - anything soft is good, especially minky and some fleece, and I try to keep a mix of pink, blue, and gender neutral colors.

I also buy spools of cute ribbon when it is on sale for 50% off at Hobby Lobby, and since HL frequently offers 40% off coupons (check HobbyLobby.com to see if there is a current coupon) (and see how I use clothespegs to store ribbon here, you could use that if there's something you've been eyeing that doesn't go on sale. (Or if you're impatient, like I am.) (Or if you don't plan ahead very well, as I tend not to.) I haven't kept an eye out to see if the pre-fold cloth diapers that I buy for burp rags ever go on sale, but at about $1 each ($12 per dozen), they're not too bad.

I found the idea for the blanket at Melissa Sews. The changes that I make to my blankets are to base the size on the size of the remnant I have and I put fewer ribbon tags per side, especially on 12" blankets. You may want to experiment a bit with ribbon length but keep in mind that too long ribbons will tickle baby (not really in a good way, either); too short and they won't be able to get a good hold on them.

While I've bookmarked a couple of sewn flannel burp rags (here and here), so far I've just embellished prefold diapers with ribbon. This post from modobject at home was my first inspiration, and this one from Make and Takes provides a different perspective on it.

I was disappointed that when I finally went to embroider, the link on how to do the stitch was gone. Thankfully I have a number of old stitching books that gave me an idea of what to do. I wasn't all that pleased with the outcome, so I decided I need to practice more before I give them away embroidered again.

Also, I stitch my ribbon on instead of using the iron-on adhesive. If the ribbon is wider than 1/2", I stitch down each side, as close as I can get to the edge. I've also tried putting it on all four sides, but I think I like it better with just two sides. Please note that you really do want to wash and dry them before putting the ribbon on. They will shrink and dry wonky regardless of what you do (or what the recipient does) so you want a head start on it. I suppose you could iron them . . . I didn't.

One final suggestion - if you're making something for a bloggy friend, take note if they indicate in a post what they've made for baby themselves. No need to double up if they already have plenty!

For more frugal ideas, visit Life As Mom.

Ah, Summer

Eating your weight in watermelon. The only thing that could be better would be enough sunshine to eat said watermelon at a lake where you could swim the sticky juice away afterwards. Poor Goose, Hubs and I both enjoy watermelon but not to the point where we've bought it very often. This summer will be different! She's almost single-handedly eaten her way through a 16 pounder.

Visit Amy for more Finer Things!

A Few Small Successes

1) I managed to survive the two-year-old yesterday with my sense of humor intact. (It helped both of us that she took a much-needed 3 hour nap yesterday. For those of you coming over from FFL, do click through. You'll relate.)

2) I have walked most every day this week, even going for two walks a couple of days. We go over to the post office and get the mail in the morning and loop around town (it's a small town, people) and then in the afternoon we use the jogging stroller to go to the farm. No jogging, though. There would have to be hungry bears after me for such things to happen.

3) I am almost 100% caught up entering our bookwork on the computer. I started the year with Microsoft Money, then lost the file when my jump drive crashed. I then started on Quickbooks but found I'd rather slam my head in the door repeatedly than figure that program out. So I went back to Money, and just have a few receipts to square away. Whoo!

For more moms' small successes, visit Faith and Family Live.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Is there any punishment more unbearable than the forced separation from your favorite stuffed animals while they're being washed after you dunked them in the toilet? It's worse than *anything* they could come up with at Gitmo.

So Goose has been very "two" today. She woke up way too early, which made her cranky. (There may or may not be some molars at work. She's been a very slow teether.) On top of that, Grandma had the NERVE to go home - after being here for a number of days on either side of a trip to my brother's.

Her morning looked up a bit after I whipped up some french toast for breakfast. I then snuck downstairs to get dressed. I'm slooooooowly trying to wean Goose - she's down to nursing just once a day, but asks for milk when she gets up both in the morning and from her nap and before her nap, too. Which is why I try not to change clothes while she's around - it gives her ideas!

When I came back up, I heard sloshing from the unmistakable direction of the bathroom. The bear went straight in the washer, I washed her hands, picked up the very wet rugs, dried the floor and toilet and cabinets, and went to change her wet pants and socks. Her cat was on the floor of her room and upon Goose's request, I picked it up to hand to her. Also wet. EEW. I didn't give it to her.

We went for a walk while the Nappies (see why they're called that here got their bath so Goose didn't have to suffer the agony of watching them spin around. I even got them in the dryer while she wasn't looking. The cat litter box was begging for a scrubbing, so I set out to do that while Goose was otherwise occupied. It involves scraping out the box (a plastic tub), setting it outside, boiling a number of pots of water and dumping them in with several squirts of dish soap, and adding a glug of bleach. (Side note - urine contains ammonia, and when mixed with bleach, will create a very harmful gas. Please use caution when you clean anything that has urine on it with bleach.)

After all that, you can see how I was glad that Goose was keeping herself busy. Until I figured out what she was doing - ripping up a book. Sigh. This isn't the first time she's done it, but it certainly is the worst. I've not caught her in the act, though. When I have figured it out, I tell her in no uncertain terms that it's very naughty, but I don't think it's getting through. And I'm not terribly surprised - that's kind of how two year olds operate.

God is good, though - she fell asleep for her nap very quickly, and here's hoping it's a nice long one. She and I will be much better off if it is. :>)

Monday, June 8, 2009

Cut Sugar on Fruit - Kitchen Tip Tuesday Bonus

OK, I have two kitchen tips to share this week. I read this in The Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn (see her books on Amazon.com here):

Basically, you use baking soda to cut the amount of sugar by half or more when making "pies, cobblers, fruit cakes, and fruit salads . . . to neutralize the acid content." The reader that submitted this tip to Dacyczyn recommends trying 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda in a pie and cutting the sugar in half. Dacyczyn further recommends experimenting a bit with your recipes to find the proper ratio of baking soda to fruit to sugar.

So, when baking up your summer's bounty, try this tip to save on sugar! And visit Tammy's Recipes for more kitchen tips.

Chopping Veggies - Kitchen Tip Tuesday

Confession time - I'm not so good with a knife. I've managed to avoid serious injury so far, thank goodness, but I suspect my time is coming. I'm also quite slow - that's where this gadget comes into play: It's pretty much like this Vidalia Chop Wizard found on Amazon.com.

It has two blade inserts (the green piece), one with large holes and one with smaller holes. It also comes with a little comb sort of thing that you use to comb junk out of the squares on the top piece that push food through the holes.

Clean-up is easy in the dishwasher - I have to say I haven't tried handwashing it. If I use it to chop onions, I rinse the blade as the tiny pieces of onion can get stuck on there pretty well. I also rinse the top pusher part to make sure there is no debris left in there. Believe me, it's much easier to get out before it dries on.

So far, I've used it on onions, peppers, carrots, and potatoes with pretty good success. It doesn't work very well on peppers that have been frozen and thawed, though. When I chop peppers and carrots, I cut them into slices, about the thickness that I want, then chop the slices. I use the cubed potatoes to boil and make into mashed potatoes, grilled potatoes or fried potatoes. I've not yet posted it in my freezer cooking section, but I like to make up a gigantic pot of mashed potatoes and freeze them. This thing makes it go TONS faster!

For more kitchen tips, visit Tammy's Recipes.

Link Overload

Here's what I bookmarked this week (shortest one yet, I think!):

Goose is a bit young for car games, but I've bookmarked this post from Women Living Well for things she could do. (I think I mentioned Mom's Minivan last week or so?) Similarly, here is a post on how to pack for a car trip with kids. (Make and Takes)

This post on Christianity Richly will serve as a good reminder next time I'm feelin spiritually exhausted. It usually ties in with emotions (and probably hormones) but it's good info.

Inside Catholic has a great article on why young children belong at Mass. Other than the obvious - they're made in the image of God, just as we grown-ups are! I'll repeat myself - I'm so blessed that our tiny parish welcomes little ones and the noises they make.

(As an aside - Four nuns were staying at the old parish rectory in our little town last week while conducting vacation bible school. They frequently walk and pray in the afternoons, and Goose and I were coming back from a walk one day when we met one of the sisters. Goose, recognizing the form from the prayer cards she looks at during church, hollered "Hi, Jesus!" I explained that Sister is actually Jesus's friend. I'm sure she got a chuckle out of it.)

Scott Hahn on Mary. 'Nuff said.

Here are some flowered hair clips that are so cute, they make my ovaries hurt. (koala brains)

Valerie at Frugal Family Fun Blog posted about these adorable baby shoes and these water bottle slings. Love them both!

I really like these goofy bags - especially how you can customize them to what you need AND how it explains putting in a zipper. I'm still quite fearful of that.

I love the ribbon trim on this little girl's skirt from oliver + s, found via Chasing Cheerios. Goose doesn't quite have the hang of skirts just yet, but soon!

Why-Don't-I-Just-Move-It-To-Monday Garden Update, Week 6

Once again, I thought about taking a picture yesterday but ended up cleaning the basement instead. Oh, did it need it! I was pretty wiped out after I got done, too. I vacuumed today, and hope to get my filing done, and I'll feel a lot better about things. We also had a little barbecue last night, something we've done the past 3 or so weekends and I hope we continue. My mom and my MIL both joined us. Fun!

So, here's what the garden looks like this week:

I did some more mulching and weeding, and Hubs came back later with a couple MORE loads of grass clippings that I need to spread still. Not sure that I'll get it done today, but I'm thinking tomorrow for sure. My tomatoes are looking quite well, but the peppers are still pretty puny. Hubs brought the fencing for the green beans home and got posts in for the tomatoes, so I bet all that will be up by this time next week. The Indian corn is doing great, even though we've had a number of unseasonably cool days. (I've enjoyed the heck out of them, though!) I also got the final 1/3 of the gourd area weeded. Whew!

PS - there are a couple of large-ish plants on the near side of my garden - I think they're volunteer sunflowers. We also have a couple of hollyhocks on the left side of the garden - don't know where they came from, but they sure are happy to be here. :>)

Friday, June 5, 2009

Homemade Wipes

For a while, I tried using cloth wipes. It wasn't too bad, I just washed them with the cloth diapers; but I missed the convenience of having a pre-moistened wipe (or several!) at my fingertips at the exact moment I needed them. I wasn't sure about the practicality of keeping cloth wipes wet as by that point, my daughter was having dirty diapers only once a day.

The first time I made disposable wipes, I found they got moldy before I could get them used. Yuck! I checked with a couple of bloggers who had posted about making wipes (there are TONS out there) and Joy @ Five J's, who posted her recipe at Happy To Be @ Home, suggested keeping the extra wipes in the refrigerator. I also add either Tea Tree Oil or Grapefruit Seed Extract, which I have leftover from our battles with thrush.

So, my recipe is as follows:

Homemade Baby Wipes

1 Roll Bounty Select-A-Size Paper Towels
2 cups water from the filter pitcher
1+ Tbs baby oil
1+ Tbs baby wash
10 drops Tea Tree Oil

Other supplies: electric knife to cut the paper towels, or serrated knife. I had much better luck with the electric knife. Two pop-up baby wipe containers. Bowl large enough to hold the half roll of paper towels. Piece of plastic wrap.

I finally had to buy baby oil, but I am still using baby wash we received for shower gifts two years ago because I use a moisturizing wash as Goose tends to get patches of dry skin. (That's part of the reason she usually only gets a bath twice a week anyway.) If your little one is sensitive to mineral oil, you can sub out a number of other types of oil. If you know that he or she is sensitive, you probably know better what to use than I would. :>) It's OK to use the good stuff, because you need such a small amount each batch that it'll really go far.

Once you cut your paper towels in half by whatever means necessary, I recommend you take them outside or put them over a trashcan and brush/wipe the cut edge with your hands to get as much of the floof off as you can. Otherwise it ends up in your wipes container and around your changing table area.

I warm my water a bit in the microwave on the theory that things will mix better. I squirt the oil and baby wash (separately!) into the measuring spoon and squirt in a bit of extra after filling the tablespoon. One T didn't seem like enough, 1-1/2 seems a bit much. After adding the wash and oils, I use my measuring spoon to stir it up, then I spoon several . . . spoonfuls of the solution over the paper towels, then pour. For whatever reason, our society can put a man on the moon but we can't make a measuring cup that pours well! Once the water level gets down a bit, I go ahead and pour the rest on. Let this sit for half an hour or so. If it hasn't soaked all the way to the bottom of the roll when you're ready to go to the next step, that's OK; it will even out after it sits in the container for a while.

You can also experiment with how much water you need - it'll depend on the brand of paper towels you use and how much you allow the cardboard tube to suck up. I use two full cups of water and let the tube get fully saturated so it pulls out more easily. You can use less water and pull the tube out earlier if you prefer.

If you have a round wipes container, you can just plop the roll in there, pull out the tube and pull the wipes out from the middle. I like my rectangular containers, though, so I unroll a bit of the towels from the outside, I fold them in my hand as shown. After I get a pretty good pile going, I put them in the container and then use both hands to unroll - I've found it's easier to start the folds in my hand, though.

With only one hand unrolling, I've found it's easiest to rest the roll on the "catching" hand (my left hand) with the loose end on the left side of the roll (the hole is towards me, so I could peek through it). I grab the bottom of the roll, and twist counter-clockwise as far as I can to get it to unroll a ways, fold the towels hanging down on my hand, and rest the roll on top of the folds to repeat. (It's much easier to DO than it is to explain!) If you get a partial tear, it'll still work fine. If you get a complete tear, you'll just have to go fishing for the next one when you get to that point.

I've found that half a roll fits in two of my wipes containers. I put one on the changing table and the other, I put in the refrigerator. Before closing the lid, I lay a piece of plastic wrap over the wipes so they don't dry out in the refrigerator.

If you find your wipes are too wet, try leaving the lid (not just the pop up lid - the whole lid) open for half an hour, then flip the wipes over, close the lid, and let them sit for a couple of hours. It's amazing how the water redistributes! Repeat if necessary. If they are too dry, sprinkle a TEASPOON or two of water over the top, close the lid and let sit for a couple of hours, repeating if necessary.

If you don't care if they pop up, you can also tear the wipes at this point and just lay them in your container. If you only have one suitable container, store your extras in a zip top bag or other airtight container in the refrigerator. You could use a rubbermaid/tupperware sort of thing, or even a jar, so long as it sealed well. These also work well for faces, hands, and other messes!

In the interest of full disclosure, I do not use these in the diaper bag. This is because I like to have it full and ready to go at a moment's notice, and because we don't go places very often, I think the wipes would likely mold and/or dry out by the time we got them used up. So, I buy a large-ish box of regular wipes and use those instead. I still think we're coming out ahead.

For more Frugal Friday posts, visit Life As Mom.

PS - I've been doing a bunch of "freezer cooking" lately - you can check it out here!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

A Good Day To Be Alive

Yesterday was a fantabulous day. It was cool without being cold or rainy, just enough breeze to keep away the bugs that are out already. Goose and I went for a short walk around town in the morning, then after her nap, we walked out to the farm.

On top of that, I weeded much of my gourd patch - it's about 15'x5', with approximately five gourd plants. The rest is solid weeds! I squatted almost the whole time, so combining that with the walk, I didn't think I'd be able to get out of bed this morning. So far, so good.

We started the day off with pancakes - I have been using the recipe on the container of powdered buttermilk, but it's finally used up. Since Kim's recipe for honey maple syrup (scroll down a bit) was so good, I think I'd probably better try her pancakes next, too. (We halved the syrup to make sure we'd like it - and since we're half the size of her family!) It was delicious - thanks, Kim!

What's a day in the kitchen without some sort of incident? I cooked my bone-in chicken breasts in the crock pot during the evening night before last, and took them out to let them cool a bit. Then I forgot to put them in the fridge - they just sat on a plate all night. Surprisingly, my cats left them alone (my mom just fell out of her chair at that bit of info) so I had Hubs shred them up and I used them to make Chicken and Rice.

As an aside, one of the links I provided on cutting split breasts noted that she got about 2 cups of shredded chicken from two split breasts. After I cut the meaty breast piece off, I noticed there was another meaty piece, like a chicken tender - long, skinny, and narrow. (This is probably actually where chicken tenders come from!) So I cut that off, too, and threw it in with my marinades. I then ended up with about three cups of shredded meat from eight split breasts, just enough for this recipe.

Chicken and Rice

Cook 1 1/2 cups rice in water per package directions. (I have been using brown rice, I'm still not quite used to it in here, though.) Saute one onion, chopped, and 1 cup celery in butter. Combine rice, onion mixture, 2 cans cream of mushroom soup, 2 cups chicken broth (I usually use less), 3 cups cooked diced chicken, 1 can water chestnuts (I usually run them through the handy chopper) and one can mushrooms.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, then cover with crushed potato chips (I usually don't have any plain ones, so I skip this) and bake another 15-20 minutes until heated through. Yield 8-10 servings.

Tweaks - I have dumped it all in a crockpot and cooked it on low for a few hours, and I have just heated it through on the stove. That's probably why I use less chicken broth. Yesterday, I actually dumped everything in the rice cooker and let it cook that way. It took two cycles, though.

After cooking, I put about half of it in the freezer for another meal and we still had some leftovers after eating it for lunch.

Goose and I are supposed to go to the nearby "city" for a Nebraska Friends of Midwives potluck at the park, and it's raining! We don't really have a backup plan, so I'm thinking we'll just go and get a little wet and have a good time.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Summer Deliciousness

Note - I re-arranged this post a bit and am linking it to the camping recipes over at Life as Mom - head over for more great ideas! I can personally verify these potatoes are delicious added to breakfast burritos like the ones Joy posted!

Another "recipe" we enjoyed this weekend was potatoes on the grill. (I think I mentioned that?) I don't have a particular recipe for it, but I cut up a potato or two per person depending on how small they are and how much else we're eating. I spread the potatoes out on a large piece of heavy duty foil and add some or all of the following: chopped onion, chopped red or green pepper, and/or chopped carrots. I then sprinkle everything with garlic powder and seasoned salt (could add other spices - and some ground black pepper) then top it with some slices of butter cut off a stick. I pull the sides of the foil up and roll them down to seal and then seal the ends similarly.

To cook, I grill over indirect heat, flipping every 10 minutes or so to avoid burning and cook evenly, for about 45 minutes to an hour. You really just want everything to be tender, but I've cooked it to the point of falling apart and it's still delicious. Top with some shredded cheese for a real treat. (Shown here with a veggie burger.) Bonus points if any or all if it is from your garden!

Remember that I made cherry pie filling? It turned out great! The recipe I more or less used is here. I then used the blueberry crisp topping mentioned here. I'm terrible at taking pictures of food (combination of photographic inexperience and terrible lighting when the food is ready), but here's a picture of the cherry crisp being enjoyed by Goose.

Finally, here is a recipe to use up your leftover pineapple juice from the chicken recipe. I actually freeze pineapple juice (extra or not) in 2 cup portions to use here. That way you have a head start on cooling it down! Just break it into pieces to help it melt more quickly.

Paradise Punch

1 pkg Kool-Aid (I use the dye-free cherry)
1 c sugar (or less)
2 c water
1 c pineapple juice (can use orange juice instead, I've never tried it)
1 liter club soda

In 2 quart pitcher, mix Kool-Aid, sugar, water, and juice until dissolved. Refrigerate until ready to serve; add club soda just before serving.

Yum! I've made this for years, although I've tried to cut back on the sugar. Goose just gets a splash in with her water, if any - I've found that with juice or the like, she'll drink it and insist on more, refusing to eat anything. It isn't pretty.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Chipotle BBQ Chicken

The initial recipe for this came from either a Frugal Friday post or a Kitchen Tip Tuesday post (back when you could post recipes there). Can't find it now. Here's how I made it:

Chipotle BBQ Chicken

~2 pounds chicken breasts
1/2 bottle BBQ sauce
1 1/2 cup pineapple juice
1 red pepper, chopped
2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, minced (from a can)

Put all ingredients in gallon ziploc bag, freeze until needed. To prepare, thaw in refrigerator, turning and squishing occasionally to marinate meat. You have several options for cooking:

- in crock pot on low for 8 hours
- in Dutch oven on medium low for an hour
- in covered baking dish at 350 for an hour.

Just don't overcook it or let it dry out. You can also add a can of chunk pineapple instead of the juice, but we're not crazy about fruit with meat. When I go to prepare it, I will probably throw in a chopped onion as it was in the initial recipe and I just didn't do it this time. Last time I made this, I actually used the bone-in part of the chicken and put it in the crock pot. Worked great. I'll post another recipe on something for your leftover pineapple juice, too!

I also made up a bag of chicken to freeze using Amy's marinade and I can't wait to try it, although I may throw it in the crock pot rather than grilling it.

Making Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts

No, I'm not part chicken. Nor do I butcher the lovely ladies that run around the yard at the farm. (I told Hubs long ago that I can't eat anything that has a name. Sorry, dear.)

You know how I mentioned before that I'm a recovering vegetarian? Raw chicken is THE WORST in my mind. (Well, there are actually a lot of things categorized as THE WORST, but that's really up there.) So I use plastic or latex gloves when handling it. Plus it's easier to slip them off (carefully) and go attend to a certain 2-year-old having a fit than to stop and wash up. Ahem.

I didn't invent this method, but I sure do like it. Basically, you pull off the skin and cut the nice, meaty breast off, then cook up the part with bones, pull off the cooked meat, and use it in recipes. And you also have some nice boneless skinless chicken breasts to do whatever you do with them. Amy at Finer Things has a picture tutorial here, and I initially saw the idea here on a Frugal Fridays post.

Previously, I have flash frozen the breasts and boiled the bone in part and then frozen that (or put it in recipes and frozen it). This time, I put the breasts in marinade and tossed them in the freezer and I have the bone-in parts in the crock pot. We'll see how it turns out. I'll put the recipes in the next post.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Sunday-Sure-Went-Fast Garden Update, Week 5

I actually thought about taking a picture yesterday and didn't get it done. Then I did get a pic taken today but blanked on posting it. So, without further ado . . .

There are actually things to see this week! We put a piece of fence up for the peas to climb on (which I don't think we've done in previous years because I've grumbled about standing on my head to pick peas - I sure need to be more grateful!). You don't notice the carrots between the peas and the happily growing tomatoes because my dad weeded and thinned them for me. (Yes, he IS a great guy!) My onions seem to be doing OK, although they probably could stand to be thinned, too.

Once I got the peppers a drink of water they perked back up, but I think they'll benefit from the rain we're supposed to get tonight and tomorrow. My potatoes aren't coming in all that well, but I think about 14 of the 21 pieces I planted are coming up, so that's not bad. Plus we have a few volunteer ones scattered about that Hubs has developed some sort of affection for. :>)

The green beans are doing well, and they'll get their own pieces of fence soon. Which is wonderful because I definitely don't like standing on my head to pick them! I replanted some of my Indian corn but I'm not too worried about whether it'll come up or not. My gourds are the only thing I didn't get weeded . . . but I'm worried that if I pulled everything else up, the few gourds I do have might die of loneliness! Maybe this week - it's supposed to be cooler here.

The cherry crisp turned out pretty well if I do say so myself - I'll try to get it and another recipe or two posted this week. I finally picked up some split chicken breasts, so I'll share how I use them in my freezer cooking. But for now, I think it's my bedtime. Happy Monday, everyone!