Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Link Roundup - Cousin Chaos Edition

We're currently at my parents' house where Goose is enjoying the pandemonium that is her four cousins aged 11-3. Good times are being had by all, I assure you.

Lots of links today! I suspect I'm double posting some of these, and I apologize. I've been trying to search my blog to see what's been posted and what hasn't, and it's starting to make me crazy, plus I'll never get this posted otherwise. So please accept my apologies if (when) I mess up!

So easy, it's hardly a "make" - Straws, Beads, and Pipe Cleaner Stars from Chasing Cheerios.

No Time For Flash Cards explains how to make your own Lacing Cards in different shapes - the best part for me was the tip to tie your yarn on one corner of the card. Brilliant!

I tried these Velcro Blocks for one of my nieces as a Christmas gift, and it didn't work so well for us. For one, my velcro wasn't as wide as the blocks, it was difficult to glue on (well, to stay glued on) and yes, it takes FOREVER to cut and glue velcro. But, feel free to check it out. :>) (@ Chasing Cheerios)

This DIY Wine Bottle Light from Wit and Whistle is so pretty!

Since the necklaces for my sisters-in-law didn't work out (neither of the TWO designs, sigh), I went with Beaded Wine Charms as seen at DJAjewels.

The tutorial for how to make a Potluck Dish Cozy From an Old Sweater at Craftzine looks so easy that even I could do it...

"Sweet" is about the only way I can describe this Pillowcase to Doll Blanket Tutorial at MADE.

Also at MADE, but considerably more time-consuming than the above, is this Faux Chenille Blanket Tutorial.

Not sure why I am such a big sucker for stuff like this Framed Fabric Monogram (this one at Somewhat Simple), but I guess as long as they keep catching my eye, I'll keep linking to them.

I've long been looking for a homemade wedding gift, and I may have found a go-to one in these Homemade Photo Flip Books complete with 31 Days of Prayer for Your Husband, at Better Life Bags.

This Recycled Cardboard Kitty Pad at Design*Sponge makes me a bit nostalgic for my nephew-kitty who used to use one.

I might have to get my crochet hook out to make this Kitten Toy from Craftbits.

Admittedly I'm not much of a cake baker, but I like the idea of baking a cake from scratch. This Cinnamon Vanilla Cake at Catholic Cuisine sounds great, though I'm not too sure about the Mexican Hot Chocolate Buttercream Frosting - to each her own, though!

Easy and it sounds delicious - Honey Trail Mix at Catholic Cuisine.

I freely admit that pie crusts scare me, but Sarah at heartland Renaissance (which I never spell correctly on the first try) makes Perfect Pastry seem easy.

A very fun idea for next year's St. Nicholas day - Golden Santa Bread from Taste of Home. You can change up the Santa hat to a Bishop's miter, of course.

I can personally attest that this Cauliflower Cheese with Broccoli and Bacon from The Life and Times of the 21st Century Housewife is SUPER YUMMY! Though I'd cut back a bit on the onion next time, that didn't stop me from eating it in about two or three sittings.

Even with the fat-and-sugar frenzy of this past week or two, I can't stop looking at these Homemade Doughnuts at Pretty Lil' Posies.

And the opposite end of the sugar spectrum would be this Spinach Soup with Gruyere from The Pioneer Woman.

At this point, all "real food" is sounding good (once I begin to want to eat again, that is), especially this Broccoli Cheese Casserole from Kelly the Kitchen Kop.

This Fishers of Men - Celebrating St. Andrew treat at Catholic Cuisine sounds very easy and super FUN!

I never knew the story behind writing S.A.G. on letters to ensure their safe delivery until now - check it out at St. Anthony Guide at Catholicism.org.

See what Katy Says is The Best Abdominal Exercise You're Not Doing. (note to self: start doing it!)

Lots of lovely Vintage Christmas Postcard Printables as found on Flickr.

Another bit of brilliance from Sarah at heartland Renaissance is this tutorial on Canning Stock for the Pantry. What an awesome idea!

Happy clicking, and happy new year, too!

Link Roundup - Happy Anniversary Hubs Edition

[Edit: just realized this never got published. Oops.] Today (um, October 18) is our seventh wedding anniversary. You can read last year's anniversary post here. Just add a year. :>) I feel like I can see the bottom of my links folder! Well, almost... (yeah, it's full again.)

I am extremely enamored with these Erasable Activity Books at From Blank Pages.

My domestic nerdiness is showing through, but I got a huge kick out of these Lame But Awesome Couch Leg Covers. Awesome indeed!

This is a super idea for bleach free Homemade Clorox Wipes, from Live Renewed.

Wish I'd have seen this before getting rid of all my scraps from making applesauce and dried cinnamon apples - How To Make Fruit Scrap Vinegar from The Nourishing Cook.

If cold, dreary fall weather is getting to you, you might consider making an Indoor Leaf Pile a la Frugal Family Fun Blog.

Not sure that I have the cajones yet, but I'm tucking away this recipe for Homemade Raw Cheddar Cheese from GNOWFGLINS.

Yup, still looking for the best recipe, and this one promises to deliver: Best Ever Homemade Pizza at Kelly's Favorite Recipes.

Not sure if this is "Do" or "Don't Eat!" - Kelly the Kitchen Kop wrote a Got Petroleum post highlighting an experiment with how plant growth is affected by food dye and aspartame. Very, very interesting.

No Time For Flash Cards rounded up Halloween Math Activities.

I need to print this off and refer to it - HTML Cheat Sheet For Bloggers from Blogging Your Way.

This method of Homeschool: Reviewing for a Test at kellicrowe is a great idea.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Link Roundup - No Snow Edition

(Written Friday night) Last year, it snowed here the first week of December. Not only did that snow stick around, but we kept getting MORE snow, and it was well into January before I was able to get the frozen-down-and-snow-covered orange blobs off my porch. And we had plenty more snow after that! This year, we've scarcely seen a flake, and we've not yet had any measurable snow. I keep hearing that we're in the area predicted to have a white Christmas, but I'm not seeing it. (Update Saturday) Um, it snowed today. Not really much at all, but the ground is still covered. I doubt it'll hang around until Saturday but it was nice to see.

So, let's let's dig out this snowbank of links. (heh.)

This ought to go under Pray & Ponder, but oh, friends, if you only click through to one link in this roundup, make it this one: Seeing Past What It Seems at Brave Girls Club. I can't even come up with a description to do it justice. Go read.

Very cute and recycling something that would otherwise be tossed, check out these Homemade Christmas Gift Tags at Skip to My Lou.

These Nativity Blocks at Helping Little Hands are adorable, and very small child friendly.

Gluesticks shows us her family's Favorite Nativity Set. I checked out Oriental Trading to see if they still sold it and couldn't find it. I bet it's out there somewhere, though.

Also kid friendly is this Clay Pot Nativity at Kids on the Grand.

There are frequently deals at Money Saving Mom on photo books, which I've pretty much ignored because I am not really into that. However, Saving & Giving has a great post on Five Educational Uses for All Those Photo Book Deals that sound like a lot of fun, especially for little ones.

I've never seen anything like these Discovery Bottles for very little ones, at No Time For Flash Cards. I'm tempted to give it a try with Goose anyway.

This Repurposing Long Sleeved Tee into Ruffled Dress at Make It and Love It is very cute!

Lots of Diaper Sewing Tips over at Sew, Mama, Sew.

I've been obsessively checking back for a tutorial for this amazingly cute Barnyard Bag playset, though thanks to the pictures, I think I might be able to figure it out. (@ The Crafty Cupboard)

Thanks to Christy for directing me to this Pillow Buddy Tutorial at Twelve Crafts Till Christmas, and I'm still snickering over her likening hers to roadkill. (You did a great job, though, Christy!)

It's probably been mentioned here before that I'm a fan of taffy, and this Homemade Molasses Taffy from Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker sounds yummy.

Can't say that I've ever even tried Brussels sprouts, but these "Crunchy Creamy Vegetable Balls" at Gluten Free A-Z sound ... well, interesting, anyway.

Green Bean Casserole with Homemade Crispy Shoestring Onions - including homemade mushroom gravy! - at Kelly The Kitchen Kop. Because who doesn't love green bean casserole?

Continuing the healthy theme, I know three people in this house that would love Healthy Homemade Poptarts as found at Heavenly Homemakers.

I think this Homemade Apple Cider from gimmie some oven sounds delicious and like something I could do.

Surely it's a coincidence, but I just happen to have some apples in my fridge that would pair perfectly with this Homemade Honey Caramel Apple Dip or Ice Cream Topping at Kelly The Kitchen Kop. Unfortunately the dip would not pair well with my hips...

I haven't tried it yet, but I'm interested in this post on How to Make Cultured Butter and Buttermilk from riddlelove.

Thanks to my friend Sarah at heartland Renaissance for pointing me toward these 3 Tasty Drinks to Warm Kiddos' Bones.

A fun twist on "puppy chow" is Poppy Chow, as seen at The Pioneer Woman's Tasty Kitchen Blog.

Simple but stunning is the way I'd describe these Hole Punch Snowflakes at No Time For Flash Cards.

This post is being typed around my sweet calico that is between me and the keyboard, so it feels especially fitting to include this Pet Hair Cleanup Tips and Tricks post from Tipnut.

I love stuff like these Simple Sick Solutions by Katie at Kitchen Stewardship (though some are in an article on another site, they're worth the extra click) - most or all of them include things you likely already have on hand.

Especially for my sweet cousin with a baby brewin' in her belly, here are 250 Positive Birth Stories from Pregnancy, Birth and Babies. As I neared the end of my pregnancy with Goose, I loved to read birth stories and felt that it really helped me prepare, at least mentally.

At Praying for Grace, Barbara gives us The Million Dollar Answer as to why Catholics get to Jesus through Mary.

Happy clicking!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Link Roundup - Catch Up Edition

Um, so I have some links left over from months ago. It seems kinda weird to be posting them, but let's pretend I just found them, 'k?

How cute are these Loopy Flowers from Happy Together??

I died of cuteness at this Complete Cow Costume at A Jennuine Life. Hoof mittens? Ear tag? Perfect.

Looks like fun but I'm still not brave enough to pull the trigger - How To Make Moon Sand at Couturier Mommy.

Although Hubs does not care for pretty much any of the ingredients of Thousand Island Dressing individually, put them together and he loves the stuff. I don't love the funky stuff in commercial versions, though, and I'd really like to try this recipe from Kelly the Kitchen Kop.

Everything but the kitchen sink, also known as Applesauce Pumpkin Oatmeal Muffins from 16 Balls in the Air.

Cooks Illustrated is a great resource for the best techniques, gadgets, and how to get the best version of a recipe. So I took notice when I found this info on Garlic Tips and Techniques. Especially since cooking with fresh garlic still intimidates me... I like the stuff in the jar.

Along those lines, I like to cook with onion but am not a fan of chopping them so I found this Herb Seasoning Salt from Pink Bites very interesting. (and yummy sounding!)

Just like you shouldn't shop when you're hungry, I really shouldn't write about things like Laura's Healthy Caramel Frosting at Heavenly Homemakers. That post also links to how to make homemade sucanat powdered sugar. Along those lines, Laura's Easy Alfredo Sauce. That handful of Candy Cane Kisses I just put down should help my tummy a little...

Dishrag Diaries tells us how to Make Peanut Butter with lots of tips and explanations.

Fascinating. Are Acorns Edible? Yes, they are!

If a recipe consists primarily of apples, it must be healthy, right? That's how I'm going to try to justify polishing off a huge pile of Apple Nachos at gimmie some oven.

This Fall Leaf Craft from Heart of the Matter is really stunning - even the four year old's is beautiful!

Confession time - I've already used this tip from Family Hacks on How to Retrieve Something From Down the Drain Without a Wrench. Hint - cover the hose of your shop vac with pantyhose. When Goose dumped the items from my vanity in the sink - and turned on the water! - this tip pulled a pair of earrings right up.

Find a bunch of Free Audio Books for Kids at Budget Saving Mom.

Admittedly I haven't clicked around over here, but there are a ton of Household Science - Homemade Tips at Gomestic.

Hubs is a skeptic, I think, but I can't help reading stuff like this bulletin on How to Tap Maple Trees and Make Maple Syrup from the University of Maine Cooperative Extension.

Lots of Sewing Helper: Tips & Resources at Tipnut.

It's been a sickly winter so far at our house, and I've been wondering about taking Fermented Cod Liver Oil as an immune booster. Katie at Kitchen Stewardship tells us that the answer to pretty much all our questions about CLO is "yes". :>) She also follows up with an interview of the owner of the only producer of fermented CLO - which is located not too far from Nettacow-land! However, Food Renegade asks Should You Take Fish Oil?

Paths That Cross at Faith & Family Live is just a bit more proof of Divine Providence, I think.

Hmm, I think that's enough for now. Happy clicking, friends!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Link Roundup - Christmas Tree Edition

Blessed Gaudete Sunday to all - and it is a time to rejoice, for the birth of our Savior is near. Lina at For Where E'er We Go wrote a very thought provoking post, Gaudete, on how Liturgical life and real life do not always match up. I have definitely been praying for the family she wrote about.

Tuck this away for next year if you still need an Advent calendar; this one at Mom Endeavors is a Muffin Tin Advent Calendar.

Or you could make this Magnetic Nativity Advent using stickers at A Little Tipsy - and she even provided the scripture references here.

Since Goose is all about all things candy cane, I think she's love this Easy Christmas Craft at a girl and a glue gun.

Not just because I'm hungry right now, this S'mores In A Jar Gift at MoneySavingMom.com looks really good, easy, and quick.

Save your berry baskets next summer, and next Christmas you could make Glittery Snowflakes as seen at AlphaMom.

This Family Memories Game is going to be my contribution to the cousin gift swap this year (so sisters-in-law, don't click through!). You can see how one family put theirs together here, and there is a pdf cheat sheet here courtesy of Family Fun magazine (an excellent publication, by the way!).

This Grocery List Tear Off Pad is a cool idea for yourself, and a great gift idea, too! (@ Infarrantly Creative)

Very fun gift idea for little people - these On The Go Felt Storyboards at The Felt Mouse.

Tee hee, I've never tried making Homemade Cat Treats from Homemade Mamas.

I think my sister-in-law has already made these Ginger Spice Softies from MADE, hopefully she'll let us know how they turned out.

Hopefully I'll make a milk run this week and can make hubs some of this Eggnog with the cream, as found at Naturally Knocked Up.

Here is a recipe that I bet is very well received - Homemade Irish Cream from Kitchen Stewardship. Especially helpful is the recipe for homemade sweetened condensed milk, also included in the post.

I don't care that it's already the third week of Advent, tonight we will sing the song found in the Advent Activities post found at Little Flower Bugs when we light our Advent candles.

We have already tried something similar to this Winter Window Display from Frugal Family Fun Blog and have been enjoying it. There was an unfortunate incident between the cat and one snowflake that resulted in some tears but it was remedied with tape and all is well again. This Pine Forest Playscape from FFFB is super cute, too.

Ooh! I *just* found and fell in love with these Nativity Printables at Activity Village, along with coloring pages and more.

A beautiful, beautiful Advent poem by Lynn Wehner is over at Faith & Family Live - Help Me Say "Yes".

If you feel like you never have enough time, read what Fallible Blogma says you might be missing.

Happy clicking!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Veggie Beer Cheese Soup

This soup is SO GOOD that after downloading this sad photo, I handed the digital camera to Goose and am letting her go to town taking random pictures so I can type the post - I don't want to forget what I put in it! Original recipe can be found here at Allrecipes.com.

Veggie Beer Cheese Soup

2 cups frozen carrots
1-16 oz pkg frozen broccoli & cauliflower
about 2 medium onions
about 1/4 cup butter
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 cups chicken broth
12 oz beer
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup flour
4 cups of milk (or half & half)
6 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 Tablespoon hot pepper sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 teaspoon Seasoned salt
Bacon for garnish

Thaw carrots, broccoli and cauliflower in colander under warm running water. Chop in a food processor in two batches until the pieces are as small as you'd like - mine were pretty teeny. Melt 1/4 cup butter in a large-ish soup pot, I think mine is six quarts, over medium heat and add vegetables. Chop onion in food processor and add to veggie mixture. Add more butter if needed.

Cook several minutes, stirring frequently, until vegetables are getting reasonably soft. Add garlic towards the end of the cooking time. Add broth and beer, simmer ten minutes or so.

Meanwhile, melt 1/3 cup butter in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Stir in flour [I use a spoon instead of a whisk, but my soup wasn't as smooth as it could have been...] and cook and stir until mixture is light brown, 3-4 minutes. Add milk a bit at a time, stirring constantly, and cook until thickened. [I'm admittedly not patient when it comes to this.] Add cheese a handful or two at a time, stirring well after each addition.

Add cheese mixture to vegetable mixture. Stir in spices and sauces. Simmer about ten minutes, then adjust seasoning as necessary. Garnish bowls of soup with bacon.

This yielded about 12 cups, I'd guess. I froze two quart bags and there were another three "grownup" servings plus one for the Goose. Just the thing on a chilly night!

I'm linking up to Made By You Monday - go check out what everybody else is making at Skip to My Lou!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Link Roundup - Advent Edition

We are truly enjoying this season of waiting for baby Jesus's birthday and thankfully not getting too wrapped up in the craziness that sometimes goes along with the holidays. I am almost done with my handmade gifts for the year (no clicking through to that, sisters-in-law!) and am looking forward celebrating the holiday season.

I'm still pretty backlogged on links, but I tried to pull out the Christmas and Advent oriented ones to get them up.

Very cute Spool Advent Calendar Kits at Just Something I Made.

Oooh, this DIY Chest Rub (like Vicks!) sounds wonderful.

I'm loving this M&M Nativity Story and treats as shown at My Computer Is My Canvas.

There aren't specific instructions, but I am totally in love with this Nativity Advent Calendar at barefoot in the kitchen, also seen on Flickr by sahm3.

Another fun idea to consider for next year are these Advent Boxes at I can teach my child.

I am loving the beautiful simplicity of these Christmas Star Ornaments at little dear tracks.

One of my favorite things - Peppermint Bark - and five different ways to make it, at Tipnut.

Ooh this sounds so good... La Tire de Ste. Catherine, a yummy taffy.

Cauldrons and Crockpots has some interesting background information on elderberries.

Katie at Kitchen Stewardship is over at Green Your Way telling us 4 Ways to Knock Out Your Cold With Things You Already Have.

Feel free to tuck this away for next year since I'm a bit behind in posting it, but Jennifer at Conversion Diary has a great post on Baby Steps for Celebrating Advent: 24 Super Simple Ideas.

See what Jessica at Shower of Roses has for Links for Advent Planning from her archives. (Hint - tons of awesome stuff.)

This is not only Do but Don't Do, courtesy of A Slob Comes Clean: Vacuuming the Christmas Tree and Other Dos and Don'ts for Storing Christmas Decorations.

There is a roundup of Christmas Crafts at No Time For Flash Cards. I'm totally eyeing the ice cream cone Christmas trees...

Yes, I know last year I linked to Liturgical Gift Giving at For Where E'er We Go, but I still love it and think it's a super idea.

An old post with a great idea on how to gradually put out your Nativity Set at Just Another Day in Paradise.

Jessica at Shower of Roses linked to a Free Printable Paper Nativity Set and Free Downloadable 3-D Nativity Sets. I also want to make sure and make some St. Nicholas Chocolate Coins next year to put in Goose's shoe. (Let's not kid ourselves - Mama's shoe will be right next to hers!) Finally, you can also see what is in Jessica's Advent and Christmas Book Baskets.

Obviously I have lots more links, but I want to get the Advent ones out there. Happy clicking, and I hope to have another post up before too much longer. :>)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Link Roundup - Post Thankful Edition

Yup, still thankful. :>) I'm writing at least part of this immediately after publishing the last one, but I am not intending to publish until Saturday to not shock you poor hanger-oners too much. Let's get down to business!

After having heard that Tangles is a super-great movie, I bet interest in things like these Rapunzel: Dresses & Tresses from ikat bag will be high.

This post is over a year old, but I still love the pattern on these Fabric Styrofoam Balls from Knitty Gritty Thoughts.

About.com has a tutorial on How to Cover Cording to Create Your Own Piping.

Straight from the horse's mouth, so to speak, check out the craft section at Crayola.com.

I'm loving this Low Mess Color Collage at Frugal Family Fun Blog.

This Mini Accordion File Folder from Scor-Pal.com is admittedly beyond my non-scrapbooking capabilities, but very cute nonetheless.

And Hubs wonders why I don't throw anything away - check out how to use pieces of travel wipes packages to make Peek-a-boo Learning to make interactive flash cards.

This is an AWESOME resource, so bookmark it! Valerie at Frugal Family Fun Blog provided us with a Suggested Supply List of things for tons of frugal fun, AND she linked her posts that use those items, so you can get more mileage from your supplies, too!

Neat gift idea alert - Handmade Bath Salt Pouches for the Shower OR Bath from The Mother Huddle.

This flies in the face of most of what I have read about making biscuits, but I like the ideas in this How to Make Fluffy, Flaky Biscuits from Cooking During Stolen Moments.

Cinnamon? Check. Pancakes? Check. Cinnamon Bun Pancakes from How Does She? might increase the size of my buns, but I'm pretty sure it'd totally be worth it.

Really, doesn't adding Oreos make anything better? Check out this Mini Pumpkin Oreo Cheesecakes from Inside BruCrew Life. Mmm!

Speaking of pumpkin, I love to eat but have never tried making pumpkin seeds myself. (I haven't carved a pumpkin in years - I just leave them on the porch until they aren't good for anything but cattle feed.) Katie at Kitchen Stewardship explains How to Make Crispy (Soaked) Pumpkin Seeds.

As a huge fan of pretty much all things fondue, I was intrigued by this recipe for Pumpkin Fondue at Chica and Jo.

Ooh, these Whole Wheat Sourdough Cheese Rolls as seen on Kelly The Kitchen Kop sound delicious.

We've managed to get rid of most of the stragglers, but next fall I plan to try out this eHow method of How to Kill House Flies without Chemicals.

This goes with the several posts in the last Link Roundup on natural health remedies - Katie from KS also tells us how to use Garlic to Make the Sick Bugs Go Away.

An update to the link from a few weeks ago, Donielle at Naturally Knocked Up has some Tips for Making Elderberry Syrup.

No Time for Flash Cards has a fun activity on Ice Fishing and Color Mixing.

I have made some raw Apple Cider Vinegar (fruit scrap vinegar) and admittedly I'm a little afraid to eat it. There are several other uses for raw ACV listed here at Kelly the Kitchen Kop.

I was very blessed to to win a copy of "In The Kitchen: Real Food Basics" - if you'd like to learn more about this ebook, you can read Sarah's review here at heartland Renaissance.

Learn how to use strawberry baskets and more to make bubbles in this post at Parent Hacks.

Though I have printed this out, I haven't tried the moves shown in You Don't Know Squat at Katy Says to help strengthen your pelvic floor and more.

Admittedly, this article on Outsourcing by Danielle Bean at InsideCatholic wasn't what I expected but it sure made me laugh.

Jen at Conversion Diary is mother to four children under six years old. She tells us My Answer to "Do You Want More Children?"

Happy clicking!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Link Roundup - Thankful Edition

I hope everyone is having a blessed Thanksgiving weekend! We are visiting my parents where Hubs has been hunting with my dad, brother, cousins, and uncles; Goose has been playing with her cousins; I got to sleep in this morning and managed to get caught up on our bookkeeping.

I really appreciate the e-mails that I have gotten asking how things are going and how my father-in-law is doing (he was diagnosed a few months ago with Lou Gehrig's Disease). I know many of you are praying for us and it means so much more than I can articulate. Hubs's dad is doing pretty well, all things considering. The aspect for which I am most thankful is his attitude - he is pretty happy and enjoying life as much as he can. That is a huge blessing in of itself.

So, let's talk about some other happy things like links! Um, there are over 130 items in my folder to share... so much for getting caught up, I guess. :>) As always, they are set to open in the same window because I hate having a million windows open. If you prefer to keep this page, you can either right click and choose "open in new tab" or hold down the Control key and click for the same result.

Ooh, this How To Make Leaf Skeletons at The Idea Room has a stunning finished product.

Yesterday during post-dinner visiting, I made Sacrifice Beads as shown at The Little Ways to give to our Bible study group. I will be incorporating them in the St. Andrew Novena - that ought to be a separate post, I think.

These Fleece Alphabet Pillows from Crafty Nest are indeed a cute gift idea for a tween.

Sisters-in-law, please pass by this Spool Picture Holder from Crafts and Sutch.

One of my favorite things is to stitch love and prayers into a baby gift, and I'll add this Recycled Mooshy Belly Bunny from Chez Beeper Bebe.

I had no idea you could Make Real Oilcloth using cotton duck, canvas, or linen, as seen at Curbly.

Need something to corral a little one's projects and treasures? Try this Ruler Clip Art Rail from Ana White.

I made something similar to this Creamy Pesto Fettuccine with Mushrooms and Tomatoes from This Week For Dinner and I assure you it was *splendid*.

Just in case you turn out something you don't want to eat, check out this list of reasons Why a Cake Fails at Tipnut.

An interesting Real Food alternative, here is a recipe for Black Strap Molasses Candy Apples from Our Family's Journey to a Healthier Life.

GNOWFGLINS has settled it: here are The Best Homemade Tortilla Chips Ever.

I'm drooling just looking at the picture of Cinnamon Blondies from Two Peas and Their Pod.

Something tells me my rice cooker isn't quite this fast, but here is a Rice Cooker Oatmeal recipe from Cooking With My Kid.

These Homemade Polka Dot Fruit Roll Ups are almost too pretty to eat. Almost. (@ Fix Me a Snack)

Though I'm currently stuffed enough to not be all that interested in eating ever again, I will eventually snap out of it and I think this Italian Herb and Cheese Wheat Bread from Food: Cooking and Capturing should be near the top of my list.

Hmm, I think I need to dig around the other posts in this series, but I'll point out Before You Hit Publish: Me, My and I at Vanderbilt Wife.

If you are considering a Wii this year, you might want to read this post from Want Not that clarifies the differences in Wii packages and just all around provides some info on what to purchase.

This is on my list of activities to consider for our pre-school co-op - Wrecking Ball Science from No Time For Flash Cards.

These days, I strap Goose on my back in an Ergo, but that didn't diminish my interest in this You Tube video of Tying a Rebozo Slip Knot.

Modern Alternative Mama has some great suggestions on Preventing Colds and Flu This Winter.

Along those lines, Katie from Kitchen Stewardship hopped over to Simple Organic to tell us 5 Foods Everyone Should Eat More Often For Optimal Health and Avoiding the Flu.

I'm not sure I have the guts to try this Cold Kicker Remedy from Keeper of the Home, but I don't have much of a doubt that it works.

And finally, I need to spend some time clicking around this Home Remedies Carnival of Ideas, Recipes, and Resources to Help You Stay Healthy Naturally also at Keeper of the Home.

Though I haven't incorporated it into our Goose and Mama Preschool, I love this Catholic ABCs Classroom Script from Catholic Icing.

Here are 10 Tips for Profile Pics that will help you come up with something you don't hate, from Faith & Family Live.

I am loving this Toddler Art Autumn Tree Painting (as well as the sweet little painter!) at Frugal Family Fun Blog.

In The Long Thank You, Jen at Conversion Diary explains why we go to Mass even when we might not feel like it, and how she explained it to her 6 year old.

Elizabeth Foss, who has known her share of suffering, wrote a moving article To Suffer and Shine Like Gold.

Happy clicking!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Link Roundup - No Toys Edition

Goose has been going through a spell lately where she refuses to pick up her toys at the end of the day. I make sure that it isn't too overwhelming by helping her with the teeny stuff, directing her, etc. She did well for quite a while, but it's been a struggle lately. So I made a new rule that if she refused to pick up and mama had to do it, that stuff would get put away.

At first, it was just gone until the next day, and I didn't have to take things away every day. Then I started making her go two days until she got it back, and she got worse at picking up her toys. So I switched it up to keeping them until she decides to help pick up, then the next morning she gets one item or group of things back. Yesterday was her first day getting something back, today was her second. Tonight, I had to take away both those things plus some random stuffed animals. Wow, three is a good time.

Let's talk about things that won't make us gnash our teeth.

So easy even I could do it :>) - Circle Skirt Tutorial at MADE.

no big dill shows us how to make a CD or DVD Envelope when you want to give them as gifts or just pretty them up.

I'm still a sucker for quiet books, and this one at Oopsey Daisy is no exception.

At first I wasn't sure about these Pipe Cleaner Covers from Pony Tails & Fish Scales, but they are really quickly growing on me. Lots of possibilities!

Rhythm of the Home has a quick and easy tutorial on turning a Sweater into a Scarf - wow!

Very cute - this Mini Purse and Toddler Wallet at seven thirty three is a very fun idea.

Pondered in My Heart has a tutorial on How To Make a Lace Chapel Veil.

Martha Stewart makes me twitchy, but these Pipe Cleaner Creatures are awfully cute.

I'm still cracking up over this Super Easy Monster Hand Puppet at Frugal Family Fun Blog. [My subtitle: This is what happens when a little one sneaks into craft supplies.]

I haven't poked around much, but the theory itself is interesting: Make 5 Dinners in 1 Hour. (It's a subscription thing, but you can check it out.)

Cheap, healthy, and delicious. Why don't I eat more of this stuff? Katie at Kitchen Stewardship is encouraging us to Try Some Squash.

Natural Health Goodies is talking about Water Kefir. I'm intrigued and afraid, especially since an IRL friend recently told me about how hers crashed and burned and resulted in everything in an entire cupboard being thrown out. Eew.

While I don't mind kneading bread, I like to have tips like this in my arsenal - How To Shape a Baguette/No Knead Bread Hack at the kitchn.

I'm glad we're still getting tomatoes out of the garden because I forgot I had this recipe for Candied Tomatoes from The Splendid Table.

Oh, mercy, can you imagine slices of this Parmesan Reggiano Bread from A Kat's Life with a delicious plate of spaghetti?

I wouldn't know fennel if it walked up to me and punched me in the nose, but these Roasted Winter Vegetables from Kitchen Stewardship sound yummy.

I wasn't so sure about this Roasted Vegetable Minestrone from The Pioneer Woman; by the end, I knew what I'll be doing with the rind of Parmesan cheese I have in the freezer right now.

Ooh, English muffins are definitely on my list of things to try making, and these Sourdough English Muffins at GNOWFGLINS.

We were not a fan of black bean brownies (Hubs said "uh, are these organic or something?") but holy wow the rest of these Special Brownies at A Whisk and A Prayer.

Two ingredients. "The Bread". The Pioneer Woman.

Yet another bread recipe, this time No Knead Dinner Rolls from Salt and Chocolate.

I think Hubs would be a big fan of this Honey Cake from Delshad Duo.

Chilly weather is just around the corner, and I'm going to give this Slow Cooker Lentil Brown Rice Casserole a try.

Here is the latest installment of Alphabet Coloring Pages at Pondered in My Heart. I've linked to previous ones before - I will be using these with Goose's preschooling; they are awesome!

Keeper of the Home tells us how to Preserve Summer's Bounty by canning, dehydrating, freezing, lacto-fermentation and more.

Yard sale season is nearly over here, so I'm tucking away the ideas from Teach Mama's What You Need From Your Local Yard Sales.

Lots of food for thought in Seeking Simplicity - Child's Play is a Job Well Done at Kitchen Stewardship.

Whew - if I can get just ONE more roundup in this week, I'll be caught up. Whoo! Happy clicking, friends!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Beauty Shop in a Box

Although this was a birthday gift for one of my nieces, I'm including it in Abbi's Handmade Christmas Roundup. Click through to see handmade gifts by others. And OK, this is more "homemade" than "handmade" but I put it together with my own two hands and that must count for something.

The idea came from Chasing Cheerios; I certainly can't take the credit for it. Instead of using a box, I found a hard-sided suitcase at our awesome thrift shop for fifty cents. I scrubbed it well on the outside, and tried to paint [Niece's name]'s Beauty Shop on it. The paint flaked off. So I scraped it all off and just used a sharpie.

There are two pockets on the top part of the suitcase, and in those are clips, combs, picks (no brushes - especially no round brushes! - as those are more likely to pull hair and/or get stuck), and a couple of small mirrors. There is one comb sitting below the pockets that has a small spray bottle built in - I figured they could either pretend or as their mom to put water in there.

In the main part of the suitcase, I have a set of hot rollers to which the pins are lost - they can use the clippies to hold them in more or less, a hair dryer, a hand mirror, curling irons in two sizes, and a straightening iron.

*** Please note that I cut the cords off the electrical appliances so that little ones wouldn't be tempted to plug them in, they won't get hot, and they also won't be in the way (or a tripping hazard, or heaven forbid, a strangulation hazard!).

I tried to find a crimping iron but didn't have any luck. Sadly I sent mine off to Goodwill several years ago. Regardless, this was a huge hit! My niece's party was in the party room of a pizza shop, and they actually had a little girl come over from the main part to join in the fun. Most everyone has has their hair styled and there have only been a few mishaps. Grandma and Grandpa (nope, he doesn't have much hair but it's been styled, too!) reported that the straightening iron really pulled, so they asked the girls not to use it on their hair.

This would be an awesome gift with Mess Free Play Makeup for sure! [Update - this makeup set has been sold; I'll get another listed later today, I hope. You can leave a comment if you're interested in a set and I'll let you know when I get it done.] Unless you are one of my sisters-in-law, you can see what I'm doing for handmade Christmas presents here. I'm also linking up to Frugal Fridays at Life As Mom.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Link Roundup - 125th Anniversary Edition

No, not the 125th anniversary of my blog, or even 125 posts (I blew past that long ago...). Our parish is celebrating its 125th anniversary. I have had a lot of fun helping out with the celebration and am looking forward to a fun time tomorrow. As noted yesterday, I have lots of links to post, so without further ado...


This DIY Pencil Sketches by Naptime Crafter guest posting at Blue Cricket Design is pretty easy for a neat result.

Frugal Family Fun Blog goodies: Autumn Window Display and Around The Web - Pumpkin Crafts.

I love this Snow White - New Take on an Old Favorite at Crafterhours. (and I love the blog name!) I'm hanging onto this for when the thrifted dress-up version of Snow White I found for a couple bucks falls apart in five minutes...

This How To Crochet Ric Rac at Foxs Lane is making me want to get out my crochet hooks!

Not your typical "eat" link, I have some dried elder berries en route to me to make some Elderberry Syrup, as seen at heartland Renaissance. (You can read about it at Naturally Knocked Up, too.) (And at Passionate Homemaking's Natural Medicine Cabinet Essentials.)

Goose and I can both personally verify that this Critter Crunch, found at Bless Us O Lord, is amazingly delicious. It's very versatile since you can swap out whatever you have for critters, cereals, etc.

Basic Jerky - Not So Tough at GNOWFGLINS sounds yummy, and I'm not even that big of a fan of meat. :>)

Life As Mom is talking Breakfast Freezer Cooking.

Got apples? Amy at The Finer Things has LOTS of Apple Recipes for you.

You know how I gain five pounds just reading some recipes? This is one of them: Oreo Cheesecake Slow Cooker Recipe at A Year of Slow Cooking. (and it's gluten free for those of you who need such things; just use regular oreos if your family doesn't need to go that way.)

Along those lines, Katie at Kitchen Stewardship has compiled some FAQs on the Grain Free Lifestyle that has done wonders for digestive problems in her family.

Cardamom's Pod has a yummy sounding 10 Step Homemade Granola With Soaked Oats that is making my tummy rumble.

I'm liking the looks of this Sourdough Whole Grain Flatbread from riddlelove.

Yup, I'm still searching for a good bread recipe (it would help if I'd get to trying them more often... I'm thinking this winter when it's cold outside is a good time to get moving!) another one to try is Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread from Foodwhirl.

Another recipe that is not going to be good for my (ahem) bottom line - Homemade Marshmallow Cream with NO Corn Syrup at From Apples to Zucchini.

Clover Lane posted about Waxing Leaves - very pretty!

Chasing Cheerios put together a easy and fun On The Go Nature Collage, and I also like this Catching A Rainbow Science Experiment there.

This Taco Seasoning Recipe at Christian Home Keeper has a great tip on how to make your own dried minced onion, onion powder, and garlic powder.

I love these 7 "Secret" Home Remedies at How Does She? They sound awesome for helping your little one feel better in a more natural way.

While Life As Mom tells us about 3 Classic Board Games To Love, there are also many suggestions in the comments for board game nuts like me.

Goose is a bit big for many of these, but for those of you with toddlers, check out Teeny Tiny Tot School at Confessions of a Homeschooler. It has a TON of info! (And, by the way, I'm looking hard at the ABCs and 123s for Goose, along with a handful of other sites.)

How fun is this Stroller Scavenger Hunt at Fowl Single File???

Jen at Conversion Diary is encouraging us to find out What Does God Want Me To Pray For? Jen also gives great perspective in Fancy Meeting You Here!, a post that starts with "A priest friend of a friend once commented, `I could be a saint if it weren’t for the people!'" Hee hee.

Thinking about homeschooling? Read Simcha Fisher's Simple School at Faith & Family Live.

Happy clicking!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Link Roundup - Blink Edition

Man, time is flying. Harvest is in full swing here, Goose is enjoying preschool, I've added another part-time job, and the links are piling up. :>) Let's get to them!

Decorating on the cheap - one of my favorite things! This time, it's Glazed Wall Art at Every Crafty Endeavor.

Another favorite thing, recycled crafts - Recycled Napkin Rings From Saran Wrap Tubes from Merriment Design.

I'm loving this homemade Chalk Paint from Mom's Crafty Space.

You know I still love Frugal Family Fun Blog, here are some of the reasons why: Outdoor Streamers, Painting...With Feet!, Pretend Car Wash, and Quick Craft - Leaf Necklace.

Skip to My Lou tells us how to make Recycled Pillow Box Favors.

This Rocket Mobile Chandelier from How Does She? is adorable in its own right, but you could change it up to any theme that tickles your child's fancy.

Hold On To Your Headbands - at Salty Pineapple, you can see this cool headband holder tutorial.

Also at Salty Pineapple, learn how to finger knit a Yarn Lei.

So many great ideas - Se7en Things To Do With a Pillow Case at Se7en.

Oh, mercy, I don't know if my fingers can take this much clicking - The Ultimate Handmade Holidays Master List 2009, with links to 2008 and 2007, too. (Want to see what I'm making? Check out my Handmade Christmas 2010... unless you are one of my sisters-in-law!)

We'll need to start working on learning how to tell time sooner or later, and I'm loving this Tick Tock I Made a Clock post at Two Shades of Pink.

Tipnut has a great roundup on Homemade Goodies for Baby.

I'm still on the hunt for a good and quick pizza crust recipe, and The Train To Crazy might have it with Pizza. Yum. (By the way, have you seen the new Pizza Crust Yeast? Apparently there are dough relaxers involved. Though I don't know what those are exactly...)

These Breakfast Rounds sound DELICIOUS, but please, please, please use butter instead of margarine! (from AllRecipies.com)

This is seriously making me hungry - Homemade Whole Wheat Pasta from Heavenly Homemakers.

This year's garden is still limping along, but I'm still interested in How To Plant Just About Everything For Next Year at Kitchen Stewardship.

Lots of fun (and educational) Play Dough Activities at No Time For Flash Cards.

Oh, this could come in handy, especially with Christmas coming up - a reader tip on Money Saving Mom tells us how to Track Product Prices on Amazon.com.

Very fun idea, Someday Crafts! I love this Carnival Birthday Party.

I was really interested in this article at The Simple Dollar on Cultivating Domain Knowledge and Hobbies for Fun and Profit. The comments on ethics are also interesting.

So we all know that baking soda and vinegar make a volcano. But, Chasing Cheerios' Volcano Fun adds color and location (including sand).

I'm really interested in but kind of scared about growing garlic, though this post on Growing and Storing a Year of Garlic at A Way To Garden.

Speaking of gardens, lots of great Tomato Sauce Tips at Home Joys. I'll admit, though, I'm curious to know how much flavor (if any) is lost in that water. But really, I love being able to break food storage processing into a few days worth of work.

Like many parents, I struggle with finding the proper balance of discipline for Goose. She's a great kid, but she's still a kid and needs training to stay on the proper path. I need to spend more time reading about these Positive Discipline Cards from Single Dad Brad.

I'm on the thumbs down side, but there are lots of opinions on trampolines at Faith & Family Live's Go Ahead and Jump?

I'm not sure that this is my problem with being so crazy WARM at night, but I was really interested in this How To Cure Hypothyroidism Naturally at The Health Wyze Report.

Awesome. Only 91 left to go...

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Handmade Christmas 2010

Remember, just like last year, if you are one of my sisters-in-law, don't read any farther!

OK, for the rest of you, I'll share what I'm planning to make for Christmas presents. If you're doing handmade this year, I'd love to see what you're working on in the comments!

Last year, I picked up a bunch of Christmas fabric and ribbon on clearance in anticipation of making fabric bags to use for wrapping this year. I made several bags then realized how tedious it is and ended up wrapping most of the gifts in a piece of fabric not really unlike how I wrap with paper. The exception is that I didn't use tape, I just used ribbon and a bow (or bows...) to hold things together. I'm quite pleased with how they turned out, and surprised that I have quite a bit of fabric left over! I also would like to mention that I made tags from last year's Christmas cards. I cut out any pretty picture and even some of the wording, punched a hole in them, and added a reinforcement sticker just in case I want to use them next year, too.

Let's start with my nieces. The oldest is 11, and she isn't getting much in the way of handmade. Right now, she's into all things peace sign and her favorite color is green. I found some big signs at Hobby Lobby, one that says Peace and one that is a peace sign, that were in every color *except* green. So I bought a can of spray paint and painted them! She is also getting an electronic Phase 10 game that I picked up for a few bucks on an Amazon.com sale last year.

Next niece is 7. She'll be getting a Husker sweatshirt (thrifted, 'cause I'm like that and her mom is OK with it), a Geoboard (No Time For Flash Cards), and a tiny fairy doll, including the "fairy catcher necklace" as seen here (both Treasures for Tots).

Niece #3 is 6. She'll also get a geoboard, tiny fairy doll (maybe something like the fairy house that is linked from the doll post above), and velcro catch ball. (Craftzine)

My fourth niece is 3. She'll be getting some lacing beads, a preschool sewing kit (The Adventures of Bear) or like this one at Frugal Family Fun Blog, and a toss & catch toy. (Chasing Cheerios). Her birthday just passed, and one of her gifts for that was a beauty shop in a box (see mine at that link). (Chasing Cheerios - see the one that inspired me at this link.)

We usually give my brother and sister-in-law meat from our cattle. My brother will also be getting some lego cards (Filth Wizardry) which will be used by my nieces with his enormous set of legos that still reside at our parents' house. I also made him some poppers out of a pool noodle (clearanced!). We had something similar when we were kids, and I got a kick out of making them. I also made a simple drawstring bag to store them in. There are 88 poppers, which means each of my nieces will have to pick up 22 after the mayhem is over...

All mothers and sisters-in-law will be getting homemade vanilla (Heavenly Homemakers), though I am making mine a bit differently. I read in the comments that bourbon makes a better vanilla than vodka, so I bought that instead. It is more expensive, and I haven't ran the numbers yet but I think it's still cheaper than buying vanilla at the store. I got a late start on the vanilla, but I think things are going to work out fine - I ended up with more beans than I needed, plus the bottle I am using doesn't hold quite a gallon. I'm hoping that by using extra beans and less booze, it'll be extra strong and will cancel out the shortened brew time. Plus, since it won't be "steeping" for as long, I plan to add more bourbon and let it keep on keeping on.

We got family pictures taken as Hubs's parents' gift.

Hubs' two sisters will get vanilla, of course. One is getting an initial kind of like this one from Flamingo Toes for one of them, perhaps stealing an idea from the fabric wrapped initial at goody-goody. Luckily, said sister-in-law painted her room based on something I made her and I have leftover supplies from it, so that helps! I found most of the letters of the other SIL's last name in the clearance section at Hobby Lobby. I'll paint them and fashion the missing letter similarly enough to pass muster. (Update, I broke my craft knife blade, but I turned a g into an s!)

I attempted to recreate something like this necklace from Catherines. As usual, my theory is great but my process is not so much. My flowers are not looking like flowers... Instead, I'm looking at something like this fabric bead necklace from froo*gal.

It floors me that my nephew is a year and a half old. Where does time go?? He will be getting a couple of toys that I got during a huge Amazon sale, a button snake (Counting Coconuts) and a tie rattlesnake (Skip to My Lou).

Last but not least, Goose is actually getting more store-bought presents than homemade ones. I found some Lincoln Logs (well, Frontier Logs, but same thing) on clearance, a pair of kitty slippers from Target's dollar aisle, a thrifted Snow White dress up dress, a thrifted book about kitties (it's in brand new condition, though), and a toss & catch toy like her cousin above. Though I have ideas to make her a fabric "book" of sorts with different scenes for her Care Bears, along with some elastic loops to store said Care Bears. We'll see how that turns out.

I don't have much for Hubs yet, though we have discussed pooling our resources and getting an elliptical as our gift to each other. Thanks to hubs's genius, we'll be getting some college hockey tickets for our brother-in-law, and he's getting a set of poppers as seen above as well. Men are much more difficult to stitch for! (My parents get meat from our cattle, too, by the way.) As I said above, I'd love to know what you're doing if you're making Christmas presents - let me know in the comments. You can see what I made for Christmas last year at this post.

For tons of frugal ideas, visit Life As Mom, where Jessica is also talking about gifts!

Monday, September 27, 2010

How Much Is Double Bread Dough?

I enjoy making bread-sorts-of-things from scratch, though I have a lot of practicing to do before I get very good at it. One thing that has given me pause is how to figure out when dough has risen to double. Usually it's in a bowl that is smaller at the bottom than the top, and my eyeball is not very accurate at measuring stuff anyway. Enter this tip from Alton Brown:

I use a container like this that is nearly the same size at the bottom as it is at the top. I also actually use a ruler to figure out how tall the dough is, and place a rubber band where the dough needs to get to be double. It's easy to tell at a glance as I'm walking by if it's there or not. Since there is a whole lot of air between the dough and the lid, I still use a piece of plastic wrap to cover my dough and make sure it doesn't dry out.

For more kitchen tips, visit Tammy's Recipes.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Link Roundup - Ahh, Fall Edition

Goose and I went outside for a while tonight before her bedtime and enjoyed the beautiful weather. While it's tough to dress a little one (pants and jacket in the morning, shorts and short sleeves by noon!), I so dearly love this time of year.

Still trying to catch up on the links, so let's get to it.

This woven Headband Refashion at Skip To My Lou is really, really neat.

Oh, MERCIFUL HEAVENS, I am dying of cuteness from this Old MacDonald Puppet Tutorial and Pattern at Just Another Day in Paradise.

This Braided Neck Tutorial at Just Another Day in Paradise is a very cute way to customize, and I'm thinking it could be done with spare fabric or thrifted shirts and could really make an outfit pop!

Tee hee, I am loving this Kids Craft that uses recycled pencil shavings at Kala Nirmitee.

Little Miss Momma has a tutorial for a cute and simple Sew Button Headband.

Also cute and simple is this Ribbon and Bead Bracelet at Live Laugh Craft.

Oh, mercy, I am loving this Diaper Cover Tutorial and Free Pattern at MADE. Goose is long out of diapers, but she isn't so good at the whole modesty thing when wearing a dress.

Another thing I never knew I wanted to do - My Way To Make Fabric Stickers, at mairuru.

Well done, Paint Me Plaid - this Cherry Shelf is adorable!

Three of my favorite things: Homemade. Cinnamon. Bread. No surprise, coming from The Pioneer Woman.

Not quite as exciting, but still a good idea is Homemade French Dressing at Heavenly Homemakers.

I had been passing by recipes that include bisquick, but Plate by Plate has a recipe for Homemade Quick Baking Mix, and it uses butter, much healthier than shortening.

Though it takes a whole lotta tomatoes and doesn't yield much paste, I'm really thinking about trying this recipe for Homemade Tomato Paste from Group Recipes. (Thanks, Kim!)

I've given up on the boxed stuff, so I can't help collect recipes for Homemade Macaroni and Cheese, this one from Kuzak's Closet.

Losing Creek Farm is talking about Frying Potatoes.

You know those posts that you gain ten pounds just by reading? Click through at your own risk... Dough Boys, at Making Memories ... One Fun Thing After Another.

And again, Maple Glazed Walnuts at Tammy's Recipes.

There's another ten pounds... Lemon Lush, at Me And My Pink Mixer.

More shirring advice, this time Shirring With Your Brother - that's a sewing machine, not a sibling. :>) (@ Grosgrain)

I haven't checked it out at all, but someone somewhere recommended Homeschool Skedtrack, which "is a FREE online lesson planner, scheduler, and tracking system rolled into one. The heart of the system is the automated scheduling of activities that frees you from the headache of rescheduling everything once an activity/lesson is missed."

Not only is the post itself interesting, but Dana at MADE has one of the longest post titles ever Home Improvement: Everything You Need To Know About Painting Walls, Vertical Stripes, Paint Tools, and A Little Crown Molding. Whew.

This is one of those posts that you hope you never need to know. It's Almost Naptime!! explains How to Help a Friend Who Has Lost a Child.

Though we didn't find out if Goose was a boy or a girl, I love the idea of this Gender Reveal Party, at Joyful Adorations. I think there was a video when I first saw it but it's not there anymore. The pictures are super cute, still. Very fun!

Check out what is Behind Closet Doors at Ana White, aka Knock Off Wood.

This Cereal Box Marble Run at Made by Joel is keeping the theme of simple and very fun.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Link Roundup - Stuffed Folder Edition

I did a quick count, and it seems there are well over 100 links in my folder to share. Guess that's what I get for skipping a few weeks! I didn't mean to take a break, but here we are. Don't worry, I'll put them up in chunks... no hugely ginormous link posts. Let's get started - lots to do!

Crafty friends, check out Amy's Finer Things for a chance to win a Silhouette Craft Cutter - wow!

A girl and a glue gun has a category of several things to make with little tins. Whether you eat a lot of those fancy mints or picked some up on clearance after Christmas last year like I did, there are some cute ideas to help use them up.

Not to be confused with the title of this section, {Make} has a Teeny Tiny Tote Tutorial that lives up to its name (as well as the description CUTE CUTE CUTE!).

Frugal Family Fun Blog wants to help you keep tabs on your stuff with Back To School Photo Name Labels.

Attagirl, Boy, Oh, Boy, Oh, Boy! (hee) She came up with her own Fire Truck Pillow to go with a car pillow she made from another tutorial. Big thumbs up!

I've linked to Filth Wizardry before, and here's another good one: Fairy Houses and Fairy Wings for Your Dolls.

from blank pages shows us how to make very cute Name Mobiles.

It must be fall! Tipnut posted links to recipes for 24 Apple Cakes to Make.

There is an Actual Caramel Recipe on Chickiepea's blog that sounds divine - and real!

Oh, how fun (and delicious-sounding): Frosted (JUMBO) Animal Cookies at Bake at 350, which I must say is an adorable blog title.

The Pioneer Woman tells us how to make Fried Round Steak.

Want to make your own egg noodles? Check out this recipe by Sarah at Heartland Renaissance. Hers are made from sprouted spelt, but you can use regular flour, too.

A guest post at Money Saving Mom tells us 10 Ways to Protect Your Identity Online.

Heh - a thousand words has a great idea of what to do with a Bleached Top (or any other item of clothing which has some accidental bleach spots).

I've posted about something similar before, but it involved actual tools. I hadn't thought of modifying Excavating Objects From Ice like Chasing Cheerios did.

Though the music is annoying, I really like the concept behind Crayola's Play Zone where you can upload digital photos and turn them into coloring pages for the kiddos.

Oh, Couturier Mommy is a brave lady to have this (super fun looking!) Paint Party.

If you're a traveler and a plant lover, check out this How To: Create a Simple Houseplant Wicking System at Craftzine.

Admittedly I still haven't gotten brave enough to try it on my machine, but this gives me confidence: Shirring Problems - I Cracked It! at Creative Heart.

Skip to My Lou shows us how to make Crochet Mosaics with little ones. Very fun!

We don't plan vacations very often, but once in a blue moon we find ourselves with a little time. Packlate.com has "great last minute deals on vacation rentals that might help.

So it's getting too cold for such things, but for next year, think about Valerie's DIY Slip & Slide at Frugal Family Fun Blog.

Doubly Blessed +1 tells us about the Little Man Party she threw for her son. Very cute!

Also to file away for next summer, Faith & Family Live explains Shakespeare in the Summertime.

I think I've linked to something similar before, but from Creative Mama, here is Free Printable Traceable Stationary For Kids.

No Time for Flash Cards posted a sanity-saver in Glue Tracing.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Few Canning Tips

It's been forever since I've posted for Kitchen Tip Tuesday, but this week I came up with TWO tips to share! (You'll have to come back next week for the second one.)

Though my garden seems to be calmed down a bit this year versus last year (or maybe I planted different stuff? Dunno...), I have been doing a fair amount of preserving. There are a few things that I've figured out from last year, my first year of canning, to this year.

1) Use rubber dishwashing gloves to protect your hands from scalding steam, blurping jam, hot jars, and anything else that can and will burn you. I figured this out the hard way when I was stirring strawberry preserves and it blurped up on my hand - and of course I had both sinks full of hot water warming my jars - a blast of cold water would have felt so much better!

2) Use plates instead of dishtowels to line your countertop. Last year, I used dish towels, and they ended up soaked from wet hot jars, and they soaked all the other stuff that cluttered my countertop (I get messy when I can, and cook, and bake...). By using plates, I keep the water contained, and they just go in the dishwasher when I'm done, rather than dishtowels that need to be washed and may end up stained. Plus, the good stuff that dripped off my funnel could be scraped into a jar and not lost.

3) I have also experimented some with using a propane cooker outdoors for canning. It gets the heat out of the kitchen, and since the pot is deeper, I stack jars on top of each other. (I'm not sure if that's a legitimate practice, but Laura does it, so I do, too.) I can't take credit for the idea of using the cooker outside, my friend Kim posted about it a while back. [And I can't remember if her blog is private now or not, so my apologies if you are not able to view it.] My canner rack doesn't fit in the pot, so I line it with a clean dish towel or a couple of dish cloths first. It is a bit more dificult to keep an eye on, but keeping that heat and humidity out of the house is quite worth it.

My tips from last year to help keep the heat out of the kitchen were:
* setting a fan in the doorway to blow cool air in (while Goose was in her room for quiet time) OR blowing the warm air out of the kitchen.
* dumping my hot water as soon as I was done with it (I would also recommend taking it outside to cool and then using it on your garden or reusing it the next time you can).
* taking my jars from the water bath into the bathroom to cool - I lined the tub with a towel and set them in there. I also put the pot in there until it cooled down.

Kim's post linked above also describes her experience with reusable canning lids, which I'm quite seriously thinking about giving a try next year. Especially since I always seem to run out of lids! Maybe if I took a count at the beginning of the year and planned ahead, I could avoid that... but I'm not sure I see that happening. :>)

So far, I have canned blueberry syrup, strawberry preserves, peach jam (from the Blue Ball book), some strawberry peach "jam" (it was kind of an accident), salsa (recipe at Kim's post above - make sure to wear gloves while cutting peppers!), and tomato sauce. I prefer to do enormous batches of tomato sauce, so I freeze the tomatoes until I have a lot. For smaller batches, I cook them down in the crock pot overnight with the lid off plus however long it takes to get down to the consistency I want; for larger batches, I cook them down in the biggest pot I have. This year, I have borrowed my dad's food strainer. You dump the sauce (or whatever) in the hopper, and turn the crank. The good stuff comes out one spout, the bad stuff another. I often send the "bad stuff' (seeds, skin, etc.) through one more time to get all the good stuff out that I can. And yes, this year I remembered to add lemon juice to my tomato sauce. I still need to make applesauce (no apples from my dad this year, sniff, so I bought some) and I want to re-do my spicy tomato juice from last year with the food strainer so poor hubs doesn't have to chew it as he drinks it.

What are you preserving? Any tips for me?

Head over to Tammy's Recipes for more Kitchen Tips.