Tuesday, October 23, 2007

October Morning

October Morning

I love fall! Yes I know those trees are still green in late October but there is an almost imperceptible line of color change in them. The air is finally crisp here in the morning. Time to pull out jackets and make hot cocoa. In Missouri the fall lasts for weeks. I love how nice and cool it is. I think Bryan and I are going to go out and start shopping for a wood stove. We have so much wood this year, thanks to the ice storms. If you look closely at the tree line above you can see some of the skeleton trees left from that storm.

We made hot cocoa and toast this morning in honor of the cold weather. The kids were most happy. Fresh hot cocoa and toast made from home-made, whole grain bread is just one of those things that make this life the best. The only thing that would have made it better would be to have the milk come from our own cows. (next year! maybe)

Here is my hot cocoa in one of my favorite mugs which my brother Joe made.
Hot Cocoa

This is our basic cocoa recipe

6 cups milk
3/4 cup cocoa syrup

Mix and heat in a pot.

Mexican Cocoa - add 1 tbsp cinnamon and a pinch or two of chili powder.

Flavored cocoa - add a tsp of your favorite extract like:

Cocoa Syrup
1/2 cup sifted cocoa powder
1 cup sugar (we use sucanant and it can be cut to 3/4 cup)
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup boiling water
1 tsp vanilla

Combine the cocoa, sugar, and salt in a sauce pan. Add the water gradually, stirring until the mixture is smooth.
Cook over medium heat until it comes to a boil. Boil 1 minute and remove from heat and cool.
When it is cool, add the vanilla. This makes about 1 1/4 cups syrup.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Quick Chili

Today is the first real "Fall" weather day we have had this season.
Fall in Missouri means cold COLD rain.
I got home from work and just knew that it was a real chili day. However, I didn't soak any beans last night nor did I have time for hours of chili cooking to happen.
I whipped out my Quicky Chili recipe and it came through yet again.
I love fancy chili recipes but every now and then you just need simple home style chili with no frills. This is just that.
Quicky Chili

Quicky Chili
1 Tbsp oil
1/2 to 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef (I have even used chopped up pork)
1/2 onion chopped
1 envelope (1 3/4 oz) chili seasoning mix (I like Williams Mix)
1/2 cup water
1 can tomatoes (sauce, diced, what ever you have) about 14 oz
1 can kidney beans (any beans you have will do, I usually double the beans)
1 Tbsp brown sugar

Brown the meat and onions together till the meat is done and the onions are soft.
Add everything else and cook for 10 minutes. (you can certainly cook this longer but 10 minutes will d0)

If it isn't thick enough for you, you can add a couple of tablespoons of corn masa to thicken it.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Date Nut Bar Recipe

Today I indulged in a Bennion Family Tradition.

My Mother's Date Nut Bars.

Date Nut Bars

These are pure heaven.

Here is the recipe.

Date Nut Bars
3 eggs
1 Cup Sugar (I used Sucanant)
1 Cup Flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup chopped nuts
1 cup chopped dates

Beat the eggs well. Add the sugar and beat until it is thick.
Add the flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix in well.
Add the chopped dates and nuts. Mix in well.
Pour batter into a well buttered 9x13" cake pan.
Bake at 350* F. for 20-25 minutes.
When it is done, pour 1/4 cup melted butter over the top of the hot bars.
Dust the top with powdered sugar.

The original recipe said to take the bars from the pan, dip them in melted butter, and then roll them in powdered sugar.
My way is a little better for you. :o) You choose.
I figured that next time I would use some whole wheat flour and add some flax seeds for good measure.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

The Lucy Apron

I have to share one of my recent purchases with you.
Lucy Apron
I have been coveting these aprons from afar for months. Now I have one. I was just waiting for one to scream my name. hee hee
This one did!!
The construction is wonderful. It is made of interior decorating fabric. It is nice and heavy but drapes well. I give it 2 thumbs up.
If you want to see more of her work go to Perdoozy at Etsy.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Hen Day - Book Group

I totally biffed it and didn't take any pictures at hen day. I just wasn't thinking. I had to beat it back home to get my Hannah Baby when she got off the bus all by her 5 year-old self. (I just made it before the bus turned down our dirt road.)
All is not lost thought! Jill Blogged Hen Day. We made diapers for Jill and had yummy home made Pizza. Rebecca Made the Pizza and should post the recipe on her blog!

Today I went to Book Group. I have wanted to do this for months but never got the time off to go. I don't work of Fridays now so (if I can remember to) I can go.
For today's meeting we were to read The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy.
The Scarlet Pimpernel
(I cannot recomend this version of the Scarlet Pimpernel. It doesn't follow the book and was so dissapointing. The old 1935 version was much better.)

I have to make one of those real life confessions here. I happen to have a learning disability.
I don't read very well. I am really slow at it and have to kinda fight my way through books. I was very fortunate to have a mother that picked up on this at a very early age. She too had the problem. She read to me as often as possible. She also purchased books on tape for me. At age 9, I could barely read Dick and Jane, however, my interest was much higher than that. My favorite books to listen to in 3rd grade were Robinson Crusoe, The Three Musketeers, The Sea Wolf, and such. Thanks to the books on tape, I was able to enjoy the literature I craved.
Anyway, my point is that I didn't have time to read the book so I looked for it in an audio form. I also didn't find out what the book was till Sunday and didn't have time to go out and buy a copy. I got lucky and stumbled on Libri Vox. It is wonderful. People all over the globe are working together to get free audio books out there. I am so thankful. I found the Scarlet Pimpernel here. I was able to down load it chapter by chapter and listen to it as I had time. My kids were so excited. Some of them have inherited forms of the reading problem and all love literature.
Today I also have the DVD arriving from Netflix. I can't wait to indulge in the romance of it all.
Next moth, the book group is coming to my house. Since it is November, I chose the Scarlet Letter. Something good and Puritanish in time for Thanks Giving.
I found a public domain recording here. You can download it chapter by chapter.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Jelly Fish Sushi

Bryan said that he would like to try some Sushi in his bento so I gave it a try.
I understand that the criteria for sushi is pretty loose.
  • Basically you have to have really sticky sweet and sour rice,
  • Some kind of filling,
  • and some nori to wrap it in.

Soooooo..... I made him some sweet rice sushi, with jelly fish.


If you can't tell, that is

Rice crispy treats, wrapped around twizlers, and wrapped with a fruit roll up.

The sashimi is with a Swedish fish.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Hen Day - Facials

I can't believe I didn't post this on Wed. I have been to apron possessed or obsessed to post anything I guess.
For hen day we went to Rebecca's for Mary Kay Facials.
Rebecca taught us several things.
Lesson #1 Prepare your face.
She told us that if we properly wash and moisturize our faces, that our foundation will sit better on our face.
As you can see here, JEB didn't pre-wash his face and his foundation is very obvious!
(I really did notice that the foundation didn't feel like a mask this time. I can't wear foundation because it makes me feel suffocated but this time it didn't feel that way.)

Lesson #2 Blend, Blend and Blend
Rebecca told us to blend away so we had a more natural look. JEB blended to the very best of his ability but it is hard to blend in purple on white skin.
Jill did a much better job.

Lesson #3 Play with your liner to get used to it and more comfortable in wearing it.
Well JEB took this lesson to heart and he played with the liner. He was most pleased with the results too and didn't want to put the mirrors away.

Lesson #4 Good skin requires proper nutrition.
Hawiian Haystacks
We knew that. You can't have a Hen Day without good eats.

This is a Hawaiian Haystack.
Here is the recipe.
  1. On your plate put some rice (brown is better for you)
  2. On that put some chicken gravy (we made this from scratch using chicken fat, flour and broth and plenty of cooked chicken) you could also use 2 cans of cream of chicken soup and some broth and plenty of cooked chicken.
  3. On this you pile your toppings which can include the following:
  • Diced tomatoes
  • green onions
  • green peppers
  • coconut
  • pineapple
  • Mandarin oranges
  • chow mien noodles
  • slivered almonds
  • grated cheese
  • (basically any chopped vegetables you like in salad)

I like to sprinkle soy sauce on top for added flavor (OK for added salt).

It was super delicious and really good for you.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

manualist plays super mario bros. theme on his hands!

You know your kids play too much nintendo when you can do this.

Fall Quilt from Gracie

This is the Fall Quilt I received in the 4 Seasons Quilt Swap.
Grace hand pieced, hand quilted and hand bound the whole project. The fabrics are simple wonderful and the workmanship is exquisite. I am very impressed. Hand work is not my strong suit and I really appreciate it when I see it done well.
Here is the back of the quilt showing her clever label.

Here is the detail in the corner. I love it!
Lable 1

Thank you Gracie!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Big Broccoli Ocarina:Angels We Have Heard On High

I told my kids they could only get away with not eating their vegetables if they could do this with them.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Bryan's Bento - Gyoza

I have given a stab at bento boxes. Bryan owed his buddy so I fixed them both a bento box. I realize that this is a pathetic bento box but it is a start. I am dealing with Mr. No Vegetables here so I am going to have to be creative to pull off a real bento. We will see what I can come up with.

This is Onigiri and Gyoza.



Cabbage - 1/2 head
Carrots - 2
Green Onion - 1 bunch
1 lb mild breakfast sausage (not the sage kind)
Salt - a pinch to 1 tsp
Pepper - a pinch (I was generous)
Parsley - 2 Tbsp (I use dry parsley)
Gyoza skins - 2 pkg (I use wanton skins because it is all I can get here)
Soy Sauce - 1 tsp
Ginger - 2 tsp
Garlic - 1 tsp

In a food processor chop the cabbage, carrots, green onions. I like it rather fine as I have to hide vegetables from some in my house. :o) Add all this to a large bowl.
Add the pork, salt, pepper, parsley, soy sauce, grated ginger, and minced garlic. Mix well.

Spoon into gyoza skins, fold up, and set on a cookie sheet until you are done filling them.

To cook, heat up a well seasoned pan or a non stick pan, add a little oil and place the gyoza in. Don't have them touching. Cook them until they are golden brown on one side. Add 1/4 cup water and put the lid on and cook until the water is gone. Since the filling is raw I add the water twice just to make sure it is done.

When I take them out of the pan, I wipe the pan out quickly and re-oil.

Any uncooked gyoza can be frozen for cooking later.

Cooking gyoza is a little tricky but not hard. Cute Cooking goes into much better detail. They have a photo tutorial on how to fold and cook then. I am sorry but I won't let you see what my gyoza look like. They taste great and that is enough. Cute Cooking also has fabulous bento ideas. Lunch in a Box is also worth a visit. Their lunch ideas are fantastic.

The onigiri are Japanese rice balls. You can get a recipe and tutorial here.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

LDS General Conference Weekend

LDS Church
I love conference weekend. As a little kid that meant we would stay home all day Saturday and Sunday and listen to talks on the radio. I loved it. I knew all the apostles by their voice.
My brothers and I would sit on the floor on Saturday and build with Lego's. On Sunday we would get to draw pictures and sit still. I liked that too.
Now, with satellite TV, I can sit at home for 2 days and enjoy listening to the church messages with my kids. I have found some fun things for them to do also. I thought I would pass the links on to you (and keep them for myself for future reference.) It is hard to keep little kids focused on the gospel messages when they are little. These activities help keep their attention.
  • Bingo Cards - My kids get to make these off as they hear these topics discussed. They get a treat when the session is over if they filled out their card.
  • Apostle and Prophet booklets - this is helping my youngest girls identify these people. As they speak or are mentioned in talks, my girls get to mark their pictures.
  • General Conference Session Notes - I am using this this my oldest son this year. It is helping him pay attention to what the speakers are saying. He has to write their name, their topic, and take notes on their message.

There are several other ideas here. I also let my kids to a special craft that weekend that we work on between sessions. They always look forward to this and plan it out for weeks in advance. This session we will be making some aprons and a jeans skirt or two. They are very excited. There will also be some serious knitting going on. I will post tutorials as they apply.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Hen Day - Weeding and Henna Dye Tutorial

Today was a very eventful Prairie Hen Day. We went to Vea's house. She worked really hard sewing up some great shirts for her daughter's shop.
We came over to help her clean out her flower beds.
Hen Day 1Hen Day 2
We weeded for a couple of hours and things were greatly improved.
Hen Day 6
Hen Day 5Hen Day 2
My kids had a short day at school so they came over and helped weed too.
Joe made a pretty great find.
Hen Day 3
It's a good thing Miyuki couldn't make it this time. Hee Hee
We also had some Good Food.
It was my turn to fix the food and I chose a South Beach Friendly recipe.
This was originally a Flank Steak recipe. I didn't have any Flank Steak so I used chicken.
Here is the Marinade.

Marinated Flank Steak Salad (only it's chicken today)
3 garlic cloves crushed
2 Tbsp. olive oil
3 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
1-2 tsp. hot sauce
1 tsp thyme
Mix and put it in a bag with your meat (chicken, beef or pork).

Cook it up in a frying pan with all the sauce. Let it cool just a bit and slice it up and serve it on salad with a little ranch dressing.
It is sooooo good.

NEXT we had quite an adventure! I dyed my hair!
My fellow Hen, Jill, is a proficient Henna hair dyer.
I mixed up the dye last night and let it set to get the henna to work.
It has the consistency of a fresh cow pie. (smells like one too)
Here it the recipe I used.

Emma's Henna Hair Dye Recipe
250 g henna powder
10 black tea bags
2-3 Tbsp ground cloves
2 Tbsp paprika
1 2/3 Cup lemon juice
Olive oil (some)
Mix all the ingredients together until it is the consistency of yogurt. (that is where I add the oil till it gets that way). Leave this to sit and work for 12-24 hours. The henna needs time to activate and has to have an acid to do that.

You can get more detailed and better information at Henna for Hair.

This morning, before we started weeding, Jill put this stuff on my head. It was a bit thick so she added some water to thin it out.
Henna Dye 1
Really work it in all over.
Henna Dye 2
(yes it felt as nasty as it looks)
TIP You can put a thick layer of petroleum jelly around your head to keep from having an orange ring of skin around your face. I don't have any as I detest the stuff and refuse to buy it. You could also maybe use those strips of cotton that they use when you get a perm.

Next we bagged it up to let it set.
Henna Dye 3
Then we had to wait. Weeding took up most of that time but we finally quit waiting after about 3 hours. (they recommend at least 4)
Then we had the chore of washing the gunk out. That was a chore! The recommended way is to use about 1/2 a bottle of cheap conditioner to help you get it out.
Well, I left that home so we had to improvise. Shampoo helped a little.
Then I had the brilliant idea to use Vea's marvelous hand-made Lye Soap. It did the charm. It really lathered up and got all the gunk out. The I rinsed my hair with about 1-2Tbsp of vinegar in about 2 quarts of water. I rinsed it with water again after that. All the gunk came out. I was very impressed.
It took an eternity to dry as I have hair that is thick enough for about 3 people.
Her is the finished result.
Henna Dye 5
Inside, it just looks auburn. Outside in the sun, it is very red.
I like it. (jumping and giggling) Bryan likes it too. :o)
It has the wonderful aftereffect of making my hair smell like gingerbread.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Brave Hair Day

How brave are you?

I chopped off my braids today! I couldn't stand it one more day.


I cut off a bit more than I planned on and had to have it fixed.

The flip

I actually like how it turned out.

To celebrate, I made myself a head band.
You can get instructions here at Pink Chalk Studios, or here at KC Quilts.

Monday, October 01, 2007

October Apron Tutorial - Bandana Apron

I am so proud to be posting my October tutorial on the first of the month. Do ever expect it again. I have had this apron of sorts in my head for almost a month now and am so happy to be able to finally post it.
This is the fasted apron tutorial yet. It is for a double sided, half apron. It is cute, sturdy, and fun.

2 large bandannas in different colors.
Something for the ties - I used twill tape, but ribbon would be nice too. (remember, use what you have before going out to buy more, reduce, re-use, recycle)
(BTW the bandannas are a recycle, I use them on my head and to line my soap baskets and festivals.)

On with the tutorial ......
1. Get two bandannas.
Bandana Apron Tutorial 1

2. Line the bandannas up.
Bandana Apron Tutorial 2
Bandannas are irregular in size and you will have to shift them around to get them to fit at their best.

3. Square up the bandannas.
Bandana Apron Tutorial 3
This apron is a square so for it to look it's best, you will have to have a square to begin with. The size isn't that important, just make sure all the sides are equal and that the corners and square.

4. Cut off the top corner.
Bandana Apron Tutorial 4
This is the top of the apron now. I measured in about 10 1/2 inches from the top corner on each side to make a triangle.

5. Make some pockets.
Bandana Apron Tutorial 5
I took the leftover triangle, folded it in half, placed on old pocket pattern piece on it and cut out 4 picket pieces.
Bandana Apron Tutorial 6

6. Sew up the pockets.
Bandana Apron Tutorial 7
Sew around the pocket, leaving an opening to turn it.
Turn and press the pocket.
Top stitch the pocket top.
Bandana Apron Tutorial 8
Place them on the apron fronts,
Bandana Apron Tutorial 9
and stitch in place on each side of your apron.

7. Stitch the apron together.
Bandana Apron Tutorial 010
Lay the front and back of the apron right sides together.
The stitching is important, so pay attention.
Stitch across the top and stop.
Now come down about 1 1/2" from the top and stitch around the rest of the apron stopping about 1 1/2" from the top on the other side.
Bandana Apron Tutorial 011
(leave an opening for turning somewhere along there. I forgot to and it was a booger to turn.)

8. Add the ties.
Bandana Apron Tutorial 012
I thought this was rather clever. I wanted the ties to be inside the apron so that both sides could be the front.
Take your ties and thread them through the two holes you left at the top of your apron. Pin it in place.
Bandana Apron Tutorial 013
Now top stitch the top of the apron and all around the sides.
Then come back and sew a second line about 1/2" from the first on the top only to secure the ties in place so there won't be any shifting when you wash it.

Your done!
Bandana Apron Tutorial 015
Bandana Apron Tutorial 014

Tag You're It

I just got tagged by Jessica on her blog (Zakka Life) and it's my turn to return the favor.

This is a fun Internet Tag game.

The rules:
1. Link to your tagger and post these rules.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself: some random, some weird.
3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post and list their names (linking to them).
4. Let them know they've been tagged by leaving a comment at their blogs.

7 Facts About Me
1. I am the 12th of 13 children.
2. I have a BA in Early Childhood Education.
3. I am a very part time Breastfeeding Peer Counselor at our health department.
4. I live on a small farm next door to my parents and raise chickens and goats.
5. My dream was to live on a farm in Missouri, raise exotic poultry, run a berry farm, and raise Welsh corgis.
6. I teach Sunday school.
7. I am terrified of heights and can't climb stairs that have open backs.

(That was really hard! Either I am really boring or I talk too much and have already given you too many details about my life.)

Tagging 7 People
1. Alisa of Iron Springs Art is about the coolest school art teacher ever! I wish my kids were in her classes. Her new blog is filled with the projects she is doing with her new job.

2. Angelic at No one listens to wise old me has a great outlook on life and just makes me smile. She also takes the most beautiful pictures. She also makes some pretty tasty food at Tasty Temptations.

3. Deanna of Domestic Chicky does wonderful graphics design. She also happens to be one of the Apronistas.

4. Alice of Future Girl has wonderful information on sewing with felt.

5. Michelle of Greeting Arts has all kinds of marvelous crafting information.

6. Kathy of Pink Chalk Studios has very exciting quilting related projects for you to check out.

7. Jeanne of Jeanne-b has a very new blog. It is wonderful though, full of quilting, brownie, and family goodness. (she is also my big sister)
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