Friday, June 25, 2010

Weekly Link Roundup - AGAIN??? Edition

Seriously, didn't I *just* post one of these? I wanted to make sure that if you're thinking that, you're not alone. But the calendar says it's the weekend, which means it must be roundup time.

So. Links.

Samster Mommy Tutu Drive
Samster Mommy is holding Tutu Drive 2010 to benefit the Princess Alexa Foundation. This foundation takes NEW dress up clothes and matches them with kids who are seriously ill so they can have a bit of fun & make-believe. Items can be handmade, but must be from a smoke free home and kept away from any pets you may have. (Seriously, has anybody else noticed the intense attraction between tulle and cat fur??) Anyway, it ends July 20. Thanks to Christy at Zimms Zoo for the heads up!

Cute, and easy for the little crowd, too - an Easy Garden Welcome Banner from Frugal Family Fun Blog. Scroll down to see a pic of it hanging "on location" - I love how it looks!

Flashback to elementary school with me, and check out this Paper Fortune Teller guest post by I*S*L*Y Blog at Skip to My Lou.

One of my favorite parts of this outdoor Play Tent Tutorial from 2 little hooligans is how it even uses the bags that the sheets came in.

So easy, it's almost a "do" rather than "make" - Homemade Chia Pets, a guest post by The MayFly at Skip to My Lou.

This Booster Seat Cushion Tutorial is super cute, though I admit I found myself wanting to add ties to secure it to the chair, and also to secure the child to the cushion! Goose likes to be safe, what can I say? :>) (@ Smashed Peas and Carrots)

Katie at Kitchen Stewardship is talking milk this week, specifically raw milk. You can find out What Kind of Milk Should I Buy? and I was fascinated by The Real Story of Homogenized Milk, Powdered Milk, Skim Milk, and Oxidized Cholesterol - in short, powdered nonfat milk isn't as bad as it's made out to be. Wow, I wasn't expecting that one!

It's another nail in the coffin for processed food at Kelly the Kitchen Kop, Man-Made Flavors Are Bad For Your Health.

Continuing to teach us so much about dehydrating, this week at Kitchen Stewardship, Katie covered Dehydrating Fruits, Dehydrating Vegetables, and an update on Crispy Nuts. (Since I ran short of soaked oats, I tossed some crispy nuts into my baked oatmeal recipe. I can hardly wait for tomorrow morning to try it out!)

So I'm hungry, and looking at pictures of these Pizza Pockets at Amy's Finer Things doesn't help one bit. Now I'm torn... do I make these for lunch tomorrow or do I hit the church rummage sale and get homemade Runzas there? So hard to choose.

At my house, there would be a candle involved so Mama could toast the marshmallows before making S'mores on a Stick as guest posted by Today's Creative Blog at Skip to My Lou.

I've heard of apple and pork going together before, but these Grilled Apple Pork Chops just use juice, and the magic of the grill. Hmmm. I was also intrigued by using ice in the foil packet with potatoes at that link - I always use butter, but I think I might give ice a try and see what we think.

Remember the post on sprouting grains to grind for flour? There's a link in the comments to recipes at To Your Health Sprouted Flour Company that sound interesting.

Faith & Family Live gives us 5 Ways to Soothe everyday aches and pains for little ones. And they're natural!

Grow a PINEAPPLE?? In Nebraska??? Yup. Who knew? :>)

Just looking at the pictures gives me cold fingers, but the smiles are warm while the little ones are Painting with Ice Cubes at Frugal Family Fun Blog. To make it even easier, they used some paint-with-water pages and an Aquadoodle for fun, too.

This was a {smack} why didn't I think of that? moment: The Adventures of Bear left a comment on my Keeping Toddlers Occupied in the Car post about using a piece of shelf liner for Preschool Sewing (click through to see pictures - love the mismatched PJs!).

Plow, Pluck, Pull, Repeat at Faith & Family Live presented a topic I'd never before considered - connecting field trips into Gospel lessons.

Way to go, University of Nebraska! I came across a link to this publication from UNL that, among other things, helps you compare apples to apples regarding meat (whoa, that cliche took a weird turn). Different types of meat will yield different numbers of servings per pound, so this will help make a better comparison when you're trying to determine the best buy.

There are some super suggestions for Natural Weed Control over at Kitchen Stewardship. My favorite was the cornmeal, and I'm wondering if I can grind field corn in my grain mill to use...

Trent at The Simple Dollar gives a good breakdown of Dealing with Found Cash: What's Right and What's Wrong? As usual, the comments are all over the place, and I didn't even get all the way through them...

Can't say that we ever played it when I was young, but I'm intrigued by I'm Thinking of a Word, a car trip game explained at Faith &; Family Live.

If you don't want to shell out for (or can't find) the clothespegs to store ribbon like I do, you might check out Ribbon 411 at Just a Girl.

This would sink me for sure - Uncluttering Strategy: Buy Back Your Stuff at Unclutterer. Whew.

I'll admit I e-mailed Hubs the article linked in Got Books at Faith & Family Live because "children who grow up in homes with lots of books go further in their educations than children with fewer books." Goose is SET, let me tell you...

The article Six at In the Heart of My Home provided some fun insight into the minds of six-year-olds and makes me very excited to see what the future holds for my sweet Goose.

Clicking through now to get the link brought tears to my eyes again - I don't know why I'm so moved by this beautiful rosary at Prayerful Beads, but it is truly awesome.

Happy clicking!

Daybook for June 25, 2010

Outside my window... It's HOT and sticky already, though there's a fair wind to help. I'm thinking Goose and I might head to a nearby swimming hole this afternoon.

I am thinking... more about last time's thought about getting into better shape. I actually threw my back out helping Goose of the potty on Tuesday, but thankfully it is not nearly as bad as it could have been.

I am thankful for... air conditioning. And thinking I'm quite a weenie without it. (Hubs would heartily agree.)

From the learning rooms... so much playing and pretending. I enjoy listening to it so much that I keep putting off anything formal. But as always, I'm collecting ideas.

From the kitchen... I cooked up hamburger and froze to use later (though some of it went to sloppy joes, and I also cooked up some chicken breasts in the crock pot, as well as putting some in to marinate and freeze using Amy's recipe. Hmm, there has been a few other miscellaneous things, but I think that covers it.

I am wearing... a "midwives rock" t-shirt and denim capri pants. The shirt is in honor of a Certified Nurse-Midwife friend who is working this summer at a birth center in Texas and witnessed a beautiful, beautiful birth early this morning.

I am creating... some tool pouches for Hubs out of old jeans and I'm plotting out some pillowcase dresses. See the pillowcases below!

I am pondering... how some people's crosses can be so different from ours, and how important our perspective is towards our own cross.

I am reading... Beyond Gay, which I borrowed from our Catholic doctor's office library. I have a couple of extended family members who are gay, and it has been interesting reading.

I am hoping... that I don't overdo things and can give my back a chance to heal. The lawn really needs to be mowed, and Hubs is spending long hours in the fields. Not sure what will happen there.

I am hearing... Goose playing with Nappy. I don't know why, but Goose has kind of all of a sudden been getting rougher with the cats. There have been some "natural consequences" and some hurt feelings, I think.

Around the house... vacuuming, changing sheets, a small amount of dusting, washing dishes - the usual.

One of my favorite things... shopping garage sales! (see below)

A few plans for the rest of the week... proofreading work today, the parish in the nearby town's "junktique" (rummage sale - yes, I'm addicted), Bible study, and interestingly, we're getting my car fixed next week where Hubs hit a raccoon a couple months ago. Usually my weeks are pretty open, but next week holds three days of work since there is a holiday coming up, one dentist appointment, one chiropractor appointment, and one meeting for our parish's 125th anniversary celebration, none of which are particularly within walking distance and up to 30 miles away. Could be interesting.

A picture thought(s) I am sharing... My garage sale finds!

I'm sure it was Heather who suggested plotting out your garage sale route to make the best use of your time, but I can't find that post right now. Anyway, here is my marked-up page of the sales I wanted to hit and the items I was looking for at each sale highlighted. I also made lists on paper of which sales were Friday and which were Saturday so we could get any Friday ones out of the way. I left the whole pile on my washing machine on Saturday. (You can click the pic to make it bigger and see how much pink highlighting there is!)

Friday's finds - some small enamel pots that will either be used for decoration or something functional besides cooking OR in Goose's kitchen, a mortar and pestle, a baby Twins hat for an expecting friend that is also a fan, two yellow gingham vintage pillowcases that will become dresses for Goose and the big sister of the aforementioned baby, some bracelets for the dress-up trunk, and a doll house. There were a few other miscellaneous things, but these were the exciting ones.

Saturday's haul was a little bigger since we hit more sales - I got a bed rail (at top), VHS movies including Mary Poppins, Lion King, Lady and the Tramp, Cinderella, Dumbo, and Pinocchio, several very CUTE outfits, a pink winter hat with Snow White on it, a large gift bag (that Goose discovered she can nearly fit into) with Snow White on it, a little light up Glo-Worm game, a pair of church shoes, a pair of snow boots, and a pair of "farm boots", a little barn with keys that open the doors to reveal an animal inside each, a shamrock pinwheel, a package of furniture for the dollhouse, and a monitor, since the one we have doesn't work anymore when I'm outside.

Ahh, yes, and one Care Bear pillow for a dime that is already proved to be worth that many times over.

(PS - I have a terrible time getting the pics adjusted so they look OK in a reader, in e-mail AND on the page. So please excuse any wonky formatting in whatever method you use to view me.)

Replacing Fabric Softener

I have finally done it! I quit using fabric softener. And it wasn't as difficult as I thought it might be, either.

I made a set of wool dryer balls using wool yarn purchased with a 40% off coupon from Hobby Lobby. (You can see what the current coupon is here and print it if you don't get one in the newspaper.) I followed the instructions in the above Tipnut link, and it worked like a charm! One skein of yarn was enough to make the four balls shown, plus a tiny ball that my cats have seriously enjoyed batting around. In fact, I had to pick it up because they were tearing it apart. They enjoy the large balls, too (as does the three year old!) but I try to keep them safely out of reach of little paws and little hands.

Per a post that I linked to a couple of months ago, 12 Surprising Ways to Reuse Aluminum Foil at Wise Bread, I tried tossing a (clean!) ball of foil in the dryer along with the dryer balls. While static wasn't eliminated completely - especially depending on what was in that particular load - I thought it was greatly reduced. The clothespin is in the picture to represent my clothesline (you can see what a nerd I am about it in that post - lots of tips and tricks) which I use faithfully when the weather permits. I have reused the foil ball many times, and while it has gotten smaller and more compacted, it is still working just fine. I'll wait until it's falling apart to replace it, recycling the old ball, of course.

My clothesline went down for a bit this summer, though, and I had to use the dryer. I was pleased with the outcome using the wool and foil. As noted in my clothesline post, I also toss my line dried items in the dryer for a few minutes using low heat or air only, and the balls help soften them up, too.

For more frugal ideas, visit Life as Mom.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Link Roundup - Busy Weekend Edition

The "city" wide garage sales in the nearby town where held this past weekend. My MIL and I went and conquered. :>) I have pictures of some of my more fun finds, can't wait to share them with you but wanted to get the link roundup done first.

We also had our first foray into geocaching. It was SO MUCH FUN, though I might be a bit biased because I found four of them to Hubs' two (and another one went to a cousin who joined us). We hope to do more of it soon!

So, let's get clickin'. Remember that you can hold down the control key and click the link to open in a new tab, or you can also right click and choose to open in a new tab (or a new window, if that's your thing).

Too bad I hadn't seen this before I bought a cheap one for Goose and Hubs - it's a homemade butterfly net at Skip To My Lou, guest posted by Little Birdie Secrets.

Another guest post at Skip To My Lou, this time Nature Bracelets from Maya Made.

This post on Homemade Bug Banishing Candles from Positively Splendid is really informative regarding citronella candles and why the ones you buy probably don't do much.

I always love things where you can take the concept and apply it to different types of projects, which you could definitely do with this DIY Tissue Number Birthday Sign from Prudent Baby.

Jessica at Shower of Roses has a lovely project on Teaching Children Liturgical Colors of the Church Year.

We haven't been swimming yet, but hopefully we'll be spending some time in the water, and this Hooded Beach Towel and Backpack Tutorial would come in handy! (@ The Train to Crazy - hee!)

Even if you're like me and not a big fan of snakes, I'm betting one look at this Tie Rattle Snake Buddy from V & Co., one more guest post at Skip To My Lou, will convert you in a hurry!

These Cinnamon Roll Pancakes from Big Red Kitchen sounds like the best of both worlds to me.

Katie at Kitchen Stewardship is working diligently on a camping ebook (and I can tell you firsthand that it's GREAT!) - you can get a sneak preview at Simply Organic with 10 Tips for Successful Camping with Young Children.

I haven't paged through mine yet, but I signed up to get this free workbook from The Well Grounded Life on How to Break the Sugar Habit.

Katie at KS also wrote a comparison between an Excalibur dehydrator and a Nesco dehydrator (square vs. round, in short) and in response, I wrote a review of my Cabela's dehydrator here, which is similar to an Excalibur.

I have a gallon jar that I MUST dig out of storage so I can try Sprouting Grains to Make Sprouted Flour by Kimarie of Cardamom’s Pod, guest posting at Kitchen Stewardship.

Trent at The Simple Dollar posted on Five Big Ways You Need to Think About Christmas ... Now! I've started mulling over my handmade Christmas gifts, but that's as far as I've gotten, I admit.

No Time for Flashcards has a great post on a Travel Craft Box - of course, you can make your own adjustments depending on your child's interests, but it's so helpful to have a place to start. For example, we might include stickers, or at least post-it notes.

Happy surfing!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Friday, June 18, 2010

Another Excalibur Giveaway!

Stephanie at Keeper of the Home is also giving away an Excalibur dehydrator. Go here to enter!

And, just in case you missed it, Katie at Kitchen Stewardship is giving one away, too. That post is here.

Review - Cabela's Heavy Duty Dehydrator

For my birthday and mother's day present, Hubs told me I could get a dehydrator this year. I had been eyeing the high-end Excalibur dehydrators, but found the Cabela's Heavy Duty Dehydrator that has 10 trays and seemed similar to the Exclaibur. I couldn't find any sort of comparison anywhere, and a question to Cabela's customer service went unanswered.

A few weeks ago, we received a coupon from Cabela's in the mail, so we decided to pull the trigger on buying the dehydrator. So far, I really like it! [No, Cabela's didn't give me anything to write this review. Since my question didn't get answered, I'm pretty sure they don't know I exist. But if they wanted to send me a little somethin'-somethin', I wouldn't be opposed...] Katie at Kitchen Stewardship has a great comparison today of the Excalibur Dehydrator Head to Head with the Nesco American Harvest Dehydrator, and I thought I'd weigh in with my comments on the Cabela's version. Note that I haven't actually used either the Excalibur or the Nesco, I'm just commenting based on what Katie said.

By the way, we received a Cabela's ad in the mail today that notes the same model will be on sale for $99.99! The sale runs Saturday, June 26 from 8AM to noon ONLY. The original price is $149.99, so that's a very good deal... better than what we paid with the coupon, grr. Ah, well, I've really been enjoying it the past few weeks, so I can't complain. You can check the web site here to see if there is a store near you - the sale is in-store only.

The Cabela's dehydrator differs from the Excalibur as follows:

* Size - the trays are smaller on the Cabela's, but there are also 10 trays versus nine for the Excalibur. The overall size is 13"x18.5" for the Cabela's with 11"x14.5" trays; and 16.5"x19" for the Excalibur with 15"x15" trays.

* Similar to the Nesco, the trays are "what you see is what you get" - there are no screens or liners. (Though the Nesco may come with fruit roll liners, or at least you can purchase them separately.) I have found a lot of things fall through the holes in the tray. Apparently, Cabela's does not manufacture any sort of a liner for these. I considered purchasing Excaliabur liners and cutting them down, though I'm not sure what they are made of, so that might not work. The instruction manual for the Cabela's one has a fruit roll recipe that references liners, but an internet search led me to learn that they are coated with teflon, anyway, so no thank you!

To make soaked oats, I simply cut some parchment paper to approximately the size and shape of my trays, less 3/4 of an inch or so on the edges so there would be some air flow. I have used (and re-used) these pieces several times and they're still doing fine. I plan to give them a good wipe with a dish rag next time I wash dishes, but I haven't bothered doing anything else besides brush them off so far.

* I haven't found it to be terribly noisy or that it warms the room too awful much - I have used it in my laundry room (that tends to be warm anyway) and mostly it stays in the spare bedroom.

* There is no cover or door for the front like the Excalibur has. Instead, the trays have a "front" to them, so when they're all closed, they basically create their own door. I haven't found this to be a problem. I even have used the dehydrator to raise dough, and just removed the trays so my bowl fit. I'll admit it didn't seem to raise in record time, but probably a bit more quickly than in my air-conditioned kitchen. Perhaps next time, I'll hang a towel over the front and anchor it with something heavy on top.

* After using it a few times, they trays seem to catch on each other, so that as I'm pulling one out, another seems to pull out with it. I'm not sure why, but so far, it is only a minor annoyance. If it gets to be a major annoyance, I'll contact Cabela's customer service and complain.

* It hasn't bothered me that the shelves don't have sides. I typically bring the trays to the kitchen, load them, and then return them two or three at a time, and I haven't spilled yet. (Wow, that is probably tempting fate...)

* Similar to the Excalibur, it is large and heavy. It isn't something I'd leave on my kitchen counter, which is why I don't, I guess.

* The Cabela's dehydrator does not come with a timer to shut itself off. However, we have a plug-in timer that we got at Wal-Mart or some such that would work fine if I needed something shut off at an inconvenient time. From what I have tried so far, though, I feel it is similar to a crock pot in that another couple of hours won't really hurt.

EDIT: I forgot to mention... I don't think the dehydrator gets as hot as it says it does. I ran it at 165, and put my probe thermometer in varying racks; it never registered above 135. I ran it at 135, and it stayed right about 120. Not sure if that's common to dehydrators or what, but it's a bit disconcerting.

Anybody have any questions or comments about dehydrators? I'm totally fascinated by them and looking forward to using the heck out of mine! I'm linking this post to Frugal Fridays at Life As Mom.

Also, for more kitchen tips, visit Tammy's Recipes.

Date Night In - Guest Post

I am so excited about today's post! As noted below, Christy is on a break from blogging, and I've missed hearing about her projects. I asked her if she'd like to share them over here, and here's the first one. I seriously think Christy has done more things on my crafty to-do list than I have. This project would be perfect for Father's Day, I think - enjoy!
Hi! I am Christy from the Zimms Zoo. Lenetta has very kindly allowed me to guest post over here once in awhile because I am not currently blogging regularly at mine (life kinda got in the way). I am very excited to do this. Lenetta always has some great info on eating healthy, cleaning naturally and my personal favorite (the reason I stumbled upon her blog) links to fabulous handmade projects.

With Father's Day coming up, I thought that I would share with you a project that I just made for my husband: a date calendar.

A friend of mine said she had seen a calendar that you could buy that had pre-planned dates on it. However after she started looking at them, the dates were very expensive. I don't know about you, but with 6 kids and a great-grandma living with us, I don't have a lot of extra time or resources for those kind of dates. This got the wheels in my head turning. Why couldn't I make something like this, but with cheaper or free dates?

I started searching the internet to see what I could come up with. The first place I landed was Love, Actually. She has fantastic ideas on dates at home and dates out. I browsed the website, but still some of them required a babysitter. This isn't always easy for us. Then my friend suggested Dating Divas. Another wonderful site full of date ideas. Between these 2 I was able to get several good ideas that I could modify to use.

But then I hit the jack-pot with Project 52! Hosted by Simply Modern Mom, it is a commitment to date your husband at least once a week; most of these dates should be at home, and without the kids (meaning after their bedtime for us). I think the angels were singing when I found this one. It was exactly what I was looking for! Cheap or free, could work with our crazy schedule, and lots of inspiration. What was not to like? She even had a weekly linky party with other people's ideas right there for me to see.

That did it! I was going to make this calendar with pre-planned date nights and themes and have it professionally printed (I know I said I was cheap, but I wanted it to look really nice) so that he could hang it in his office and be reminded of when the date nights were coming. Just a little sidenote: Be sure and see how long it takes to get it printed. I used Sam's, which is like Costco for some of you, and I thought it was printed in-house. Wrong! His birthday was yesterday and it won't be arriving for another 2 weeks. Bummer!

I also made a Date Night Idea tin, with simple ideas that we could do if we found some un-expected time. After browsing all those ideas, I started coming up with some on my own. I tried to put at least 12 more in there so we could do at least another one a month. But I know I will be adding to this as the year goes on and things pop into my mind.

Here are some pre-planned date night ideas that I came up with and some that I borrowed (and modified) to get you going:

1. Fondue night- different fondue dips and things to dip in them.
2. Drive-in movie night- taking the laptop outside and setting up our canopy to use as a stall.
3. Light drawing- you need to check out the post to see all the details
4. Bookstore date- does involve leaving the house. Just hanging out at the bookstore, browsing books, and having something from the cafe.

Date Night idea can:
1. Scrabble and strawberries (chocolate-dipped!)
2. Would you rather....- This came from Simply Modern Mom.
3. Who can make the best story or sentence out of magnetic words. Someone gave us a HUGE set of magnetic words for the kids. Give each of us a handful, set the timer, and see who wins.
4. Chopped- This as an idea I saw on Project 52, based on the TV show. Looks like fun!
5. Massages~Need I say more?
6. Photo Booth- Gather a handful of props and snap away! I found this link for mustaches that I thought looked like fun too.

I hope this inspires you to start dating your husband again. Don't let the busy-ness of life crowd in and make you forget why you married him in the first place. Our husbands have a very stressful responsibility of providing for the family and we have the stressful job (which is also a privilege) of raising that family. So take some time and laugh together!
Christy, thank you SO MUCH for this post and all these ideas! (I haven't seen the show Chopped but after reading that post, I want to!) What a fabulous way to keep some fun in your relationship - I love it!

Anybody else have any good ideas for Father's Day, or seen anything you'd like to do? Between you and me and the fencepost, Hubs already got most of his gift - a chimney starter for the charcoal grill he got for Christmas. I gave it to him early so he could get to using it. I also have a little bug catching kit and butterfly net squirreled away that I bought on clearance last year... it's more for Goose, but since bugs aren't my favorite thing, he'll be the one searching with her, I think.

Thanks again, Christy - can't wait to have you back!

This post will be submitted to Frugal Fridays at Life As Mom, and also to Amy's Finer Things, because really, what is finer than dating the man you love?!?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

7 Quick Takes - Cooking Edition

It's been a while since I have participated in 7 Quick Takes hosted by Conversion Diary. I've been spending a lot of time in the kitchen lately...

Bread Machine Fail.
Subtitled "what happens when you forget to snap the pan in the bread machine so it can knead properly AND when you mess up setting the delay timer."

What the cinnamon rolls were supposed to look like (and the next attempt did):
You can't see the bottom, but there was butter and brown sugar that melted and gooped together into something wonderful. (Well, it wasn't exactly brown sugar - I ran out and used white sugar and molasses, but didn't bother to check the proportions, so it was a bit...strong. But still good!)

Did I mention my dad and I picked strawberries at a patch belonging to the family who sits next to us at Mass?

I love doing things that aren't necessarily hands-on, but once you're finished, you feel like you've accomplished a ton. Pictured here: soaking oats, soaking nuts, beans in the crockpot.
I am almost out of oatmeal, so I made a small batch. I'm thinking of ordering again from Azure Standard and getting 25 pounds or so - the price is MUCH better than what I can get at Wal-Mart.

Goose isn't a fan of the grain mill or the food processor as she thinks they're too noisy. I wanted to get a picture of what she did when I ground flour the other day, but she popped up as soon as she saw the camera.
Initially, all I could see was a pair of eyes peeping over the back of the couch. Once I shut the mill off, she always asks several times "all done, Mama? All done grinding wheat? All done, Mama?"

I got Goose's jar of miscellaneous beans out yesterday for her to play with, and wondered why I don't do that more often. Well, this is why:

My friend Katie at Kitchen Stewardship is giving away an Excalibur dehydrator. Go check it out!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Link Roundup - Wet Basement Edition

Did I mention we were maybe going to try to go camping this weekend? Well, the weather didn't look so great, so much to Hubs's dismay, I put the kibosh on it. We got almost 3.5" of rain last night. Also, have I mentioned that we have a leak in our basement? Hubs thought it might help to pull off our lousy gutters that don't have drainspouts. Long story short, it didn't help. It was a late night last night, and with 70% chance of rain tonight, tomorrow, and tomorrow night, things aren't looking so good!

But really, the rest of our house is a nice roof over our heads, so I can't complain too much. (Not even that Hubs dumped the shop vac full of dirt and junk in the tub. Oh, wait, I guess I just did...) Anyway. Links!

Counting Coconuts tells us how to make our own Spinny Speller. (Honest to goodness, I linked to one months ago and wondered if I could make one. There's my answer!)

OK, so videos aren't exactly my favorite way to learn something new, which means I haven't watched this yet. But my niece loves them, so I'll probably eventually check out this YouTube How-To Tye Dye a Peace Sign. Eventually.

Not sure if this would actually help me get motivated to meal plan, but I love the looks of this Meal Planning Organizer at Little Girl Big Studio.

Ooh, I like the looks of this Garden Fort as a someday for Goose project, from Mulberry Spot.

She Wears Flowers posted a tutorial on a Roll-A-Chore Soft Block that I'm tucking away for future reference.

This Simple Kite from Better In Bulk at Skip to My Lou is even simpler than I thought!

How easy is this - Marshmallow Shooters from Make It Do, a guest post at Skip To My Lou.

I have been surprised at how not difficult it is to keep my sourdough starter more or less happy, even though I don't cook with it as often as I should. Wardeh at GNOWFGLINS tells us 2 Simple Needs of Sourdough Starter (and yes, Amy @ Finer Things, this is for you! :>))

Not sure if I'll end up with a bucket of pears via my dad again this year or not, but just in case, I'll be ready with these 10 Recipes for Homemade Pear Butter from Tipnut.

It's the most important meal of the day, and here are 10 Once-A-Month-Cooking Breakfast Ideas (i.e. good to make and freeze!) from Family, Stamping and FOOD.

MMM, I just had lunch and thinking about these Hallee's Fabulous Travel Sandwiches is making me hungry again! (@ Hallee the Homemaker - AND there's a link in there to her French bread recipe!)

It's the strawberry time of year, and Laura at Heavenly Homemakers helped us out by posting her Healthy Strawberry Shortcake recipe.

Mosquitoes have been out for blood for a few weeks now, and I've been keeping my eyes open for ... a better repellent. I'm not opposed to chemicals, I'm just kind of opposed to putting things on my skin (and that of my child!) that *must* be washed off, and are greasy in their own right, etc. So. Garden Mandy has 5 Homemade Chemical Free Bug Repellents That Work, Gomestic's Five Plants that Repel Mosquitoes, lots of good suggestions and links at Kelly The Kitchen Kop, and Do It Yourself's Making Insect Repellent with Basil.

Admittedly I don't really have "grown up" decorator tastes yet, but for when I do, I really like this Cheap Wall Art at The Adventures of One Crazy Lady.

Along those lines is this How To Make Inexpensive Artwork at In My Own Style - using a canvas and some lovely tissue paper!

Raising Kids, Cleaning House from Faith & Family Live is a good reminder for me to keep my eyes on the prize when working with Goose on household chores. (Which I need to step up!)

I hope to try this with my nieces in a few weeks - How To Make Puffy Paint from One Crafty Mumma, guest posting at Skip To My Lou.

Oh, Katie, where were you a month ago? Learn what 8 (or more!) things to put in the holes in which you plant your tomatoes (besides tomato plants, silly!) at Kitchen Stewardship. Make sure to read through the comments.

I'm not sure how interested I'd have been in Listography (a personal database of lists) had I not seen an example of how it works for Melissa Wiley.

I think the best gifts are ones really tailored to the recipient, like this Customized Baby Gift at Parenting The Tiniest of Miracles. (hint: it's a wallet for a little one who loves to dig through mama's!)

Though I've read the book, I'm actually getting more out of The Simple Dollar's series on Getting Things Done. You can read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.

I really liked this article on Discernment by Peter Kreeft.

Another Faith & Family Live gem this week - Seeking a Sign.

Elizabeth Foss has blessed us again with Shattered Time.

Oh, my, lots of food for thought from Katie at Kitchen Stewardship in Real Gardening vs. American Lawncare. It kind of ties in with the homesteading and self-sufficiency that I've been reading about, and it makes a person think about what one *could* be doing.

The Simple Dollar has some good tips on Delayed Gratification and Children.

I know one or two of you are fellow LOSTies, and here is a link at The Beat to some possible resolution since the finale left me and many others thinking "what the...what?!?"

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Inaugural Garden Update (Week 3, Sigh)

So my garden has been planted for nearly a month, and I haven't made time to post about it yet! It's coming up really well already - actually I should say THEY are coming up well... we have a garden at Hubs's grandmother's place again. Here are the pictures I've taken of our garden so far. They were taken on May 19, June 1, and June 10:

At our house, we have three rows of green beans, two rows of sweet corn, two rows of potatoes, four colored bell pepper plants, four green bell pepper plants, and four jalapeno pepper plants, one row of turnips, eight tomato plants, two rows of onions, two rows of carrots, two rows of Indian corn, and two rows of peas.

I ended up transplanting some of the green beans. The first year or two, we planted bush beans, and I didn't care for standing on my head in order to pick them. Then we planted pole beans and Hubs put up fence panels (another benefit of being married to a farmer!) which was great, but the plants were so thick that they were a pain to pick. So this year, I thinned them, and moved the ones I pulled out in the rows with the peas that didn't come up so well.

The sweet corn might have a bit of a problem as I planted the two rows about two weeks apart - every time I'd go to plant the second row, it would rain! Hopefully they'll be OK. The potatoes didn't come up so well, but the volunteer potatoes from what Hubs missed digging last year are doing quite well. I've already lost one colored pepper plant, but the others seem to be doing well, as are the tomatoes. And the turnips are going crazy!

The onions are coming up well, but I had to replant some of the carrots. Last year we had a ton of carrots but we don't have a root cellar, so I ended up losing a lot of them to spoilage, which was a huge bummer.

No picture of the garden at Hubs's grandma's, but all seems to be coming up well there, too. We planted three rows of popcorn (a bit of an experiment on Hubs's part), a couple of watermelon plants, two hills of summer squash, some musk mellon (what IS the difference between that and cantelope, anyway?), and several pumpkin hills with different sizes of pumpkins. We also put in several hills of gourds since they sold reasonably well at the farmer's market, and some of our potatoes that didn't come up so well, either.

My theory on the potatoes? Hubs insisted on soaking the cut potatoes in water. Not only does Laura at Heavenly Homemakers not recommend that (see her planting potatoes post here), but the packaging from the seed potatoes also said to let them cure in air, not water. So. We'll see what he does next year. :>)

As you can see from my pictures, I take full advantage of all the wonderful mulch that comes in the form of grass clippings. It helps SO MUCH with weeding, plus we till it in and it returns nutrients to the soil, so we can grow more stuff. And really? The help with the weeding is totally worth it. Even though my chiropractor noted that I'd been doing a lot of gardening when I went in for my monthly adjustment. The mulch will save on even more bending later.

You may wonder what Goose does all the while I'm working away in the garden. Water is my new best friend - here she is playing with a tub of water and her watering can, under the watchful eye of one of the barn mama cats, Petey.

How's your garden growing so far?

Daybook for June 10, 2010

Outside my window... Cloudy and humid. It rained again this morning - just as Goose and I set out for the post office, a mere two block stroll away.

I am thinking... that I really need to get into better shape. My back has been creaking over all the gardening stuff I've been doing.

I am thankful for... a surprise visit from my cousin and her two girls - the same cousin that my mom and I visited right before the last daybook post. We had a great time!

From the learning rooms... Goose is figuring out that someone can tell her to "go ask Mama" and she'll just say "Mama said yes!" Thankfully her fib is immediately exposed because she doesn't actually GO anywhere or pretend to ask. She'll get in trouble for it before long, but for now it cracks me up.

From the kitchen... chicken salad in pita pockets, LOTS of baked (soaked) oatmeal with blueberries and strawberries, chicken and rice (scroll down), baked spaghetti, banana boats, veggies and dip and HEALTHY fruit pizza. Also I turned some leftover chocolate pudding that Goose and my mom made into frozen pudding pops. Yup, they're as good as the store bought ones, and yup, I thought of Bill Cosby as I was eating one. I think that's it...

I am wearing... a Huskers t-shirt and denim capri pants.

I am creating... a DIY sand and water table on the cheap with some help from my dad. I'm already writing the post in my head, and can't wait to share it! (Well, I have to finish the darn thing first, but I'm almost as excited to post about it as I am for Goose to play with it!)

I am pondering... how God gives us what we need, not what we want. And what a blessing that is. Also, I have had a couple of days where I didn't turn my computer on for several hours and/or didn't spend much time on it, and it was nice. I obviously survived.

I am reading... The Maker's Diet. A lot of food for thought there. I also read Practical Homesteading by John Vivian. As I've mentioned before, we farm conventionally, not organically. But I am interested in becoming more self-sufficient and I found a LOT of great information in that book.

I am hoping... that we might get to go camping this weekend. It rained some this morning, but not sure if it was enough for Hubs to not have to work so much.

I am hearing... the dehumidifier. We have a leak in our basement, but it is strangely not clear where the water is actually getting in.

Around the house... something I'm pondering - I couldn't believe how little time it took me to get the house picked up for my cousin's visit. OK, it was like an hour and a half to two hours, but it looked pretty good, I thought. Why don't I do that more often?

One of my favorite things... Goose's insistence that her papa give her a kiss and a hug whenever he leaves.

A few plans for the rest of the week... proofreading work tomorrow, possibly camping, possibly going to a garage sale otherwise, Bible "study" (we're reading a book this summer, actually), my brother's and sister-in-law's birthdays.

A picture thought I am sharing... Me, Goose, my beautiful cousin, and her sweet girls.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Link Roundup - What Day Is It? Edition

Seriously, I haven't a clue what day it is. Memorial Day threw me off completely since I usually proofread on Monday mornings. I'm hoping I'll get back into the swing of things this week. Perhaps I spent too much time in the sun today, too... I started the day by working in the garden at Hubs's grandma's, then mowed our lawn, then weeded and mulched in our garden. As soon as Goose fell asleep, I transplanted some green beans to where my peas didn't come up so well. Here's hoping I'll sleep well tonight!

Just in case you aren't as delirious as I am, here are some links!

Skip to My Lou has a guest post on Batik with Kids - it really needs to be seen to be appreciated.

Another idea to tuck away for next year - Compostable Plant Pots made out of newspapers, at Mademoiselle Chaos.

Tipnut tells us 2 Quick & Easy Ways to Cook Parsnips - parsnips rank right up there with turnips as to a vegetable I'd like to get to know better.

Also at Tipnut are some Blueberry Quick Tips. How I love those little things! MMMM!

Oh, these look amazing - Fresh Fruit Popsicles from The Idea Room.

Confused about eating real food - what's good, what's not so much? Katie at Kitchen Stewardship was asked to collect all the “avoid this” terms in one place, as well as to make a list of “good foods, bad foods, and compromise foods.” Check it out here.

Yummy sounding Honey Mustard Chicken Strips from Trent at The Simple Dollar.

Another post that makes me a bit wistful about living in the middle of nowhere - Money Saving Mom's How To Get Started Playing The Drugstore Game, also known as "how to make the system work for you to get personal care products for free." Honestly, I'd rather have cats in the barn and cows in the back yard and miss out on the drugstore game, though.

A Slob Comes Clean is trying a summer experiment of drastic measure - One Week's Worth of Clothing.

Learn how to do Driveway Graffiti at No Time For Flashcards.

As recommended by Zimms Zoo, eighteen25 has a ton of really neat ideas.

Scroll down on this page at The Dollar Stretcher to read how to turn an 'Old Grill' into a 'New Potting Station'.

Need a wild and crazy birthday party idea? Check out the Messy Party at Kitchen Stewardship. It was a mess, and it looks like a good time was had by all!

By my request, Magicland Farms posted Information on Last Year's Late Blight that devastated tomato plants. (It even hit Valerie at Frugal Family Fun Blog last year. I was so sad for her!)

Laura at Heavenly Homemakers shows How to Grind Flour in a Grain Mill - literally, since there's a video. :>) Laura also detailed some of the Azure Standard Deals for June.

Such a needed reminder as I find myself hearing MAMA! MAMA! MAMA! many times each day - Embrace Them at In The Heart of My Home.

Kelly the Kitchen Kop wrote a guest post at Nourished Kitchen on The Messed Up Food Pyramid. Really interesting stuff!

Amy at Finer Things pointed out Raising Homemakers on how to "teach and prepare our daughters in the art of homemaking."

Jennifer from Conversion Diary detailed her journey from pro-choice to pro-life at America Magazine.

Here's a sweet story about a puppy who got trapped in a car engine, via Cute Overload. It has a happy ending, I promise! I wouldn't link it otherwise.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Peeling Onions

It's been a while since I've been inspired to post a kitchen tip, but as I was preparing pepper steak for lunch today, I realized that I've come up with a method of peeling the papery skin off onions that helps drive me less crazy.

Although I haven't always liked onions, I do like to eat them now - I finally realized I think they're MUCH better cooked than they are raw! I don't really like messing around with prepping them, though. I often use a mini chopper (think small food processor) or my big food processor if I'm doing something else with it, but it seemed I always picked onions where the icky papery skin was absolutely adhered to the onion, and I didn't much care for peeling it off, millimeter by millimeter.

My method is to cut off one end (I go with the non-root end, it seems to cause less crying that way) but I don't cut all the way through. I then use the flap I created to peel the layers, and I often remove the top layer of onion as well as it is frequently dried out at the top and yucky.

For more kitchen tips, visit Tammy's Recipes.