Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Make Riley's Wish Come True

I received this email today, it is in reference to a young girl who lives in our area. Her name was lifted up in prayer at our church just this past weekend. I ask that you pray for her and for her family. Even more importantly, we have an opportunity to make her wish come true, read the email below for details:

Family and Friends,
Riley Philpot is a 9 year old little girl who goes to our church and has been battling a rare form of cancer since she was 6. Her cancer has returned and is currently in the hospital. Make a Wish foundation was contacted and Riley's wish is to have the mailman dump a bag of get well cards at her door when she returns!! Please take the time to send a get well card to Riley! Thanks so much! You do not have to know this little girl to make this wish come true. If this was your child, and a simple wish like this was asked, a stamp is not much.
Here is her name and Address: Please remember her in prayer to.

Riley Philpot
206 Slaney Loop Rd.
Winterville, N.C. 28590


As the email says, it doesn't take much to drop her a note or card in the mail and a stamp is not expensive. Please consider bringing some cheer to this sweet child of God!

Have a great day!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sick Kid Soup

So what happens when you have a child that is sick with some sort of stomach bug? Well, naturally we all start with the BRAT diet, right? Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toast. But then what? It's not like you say, "Okay, kid, you passed the BRAT test, let's make hot dogs for lunch!" Ha ha.

I am not one to buy canned soups, although I have some in my pantry for emergency use. But I'm not a fan of them, typically because they're loaded with sodium and many just don't taste great. I make many types of soups homemade.

So back to the stomach bug... clear liquid diet. Yeah, chicken soup seems like an obvious choice, but I got to thinking some time ago that sometimes it's just not what you want, and same with your kids. So I made this very simple soup, appropriately called Sick Kid Soup, and have had ZERO complaints from the kids, and it's a good transition to eating something other than the BRAT foods. I like it because it's low in sodium, high in vitamins, and isn't too bland. And yes, I have eaten it myself, under similar circumstances.

I also freeze this in some Ziploc soup containers for future use so I'm not having to make a pot of soup every time a child encounters this type of ailment. I had one of those frozen soups come in handy tonight. And my label maker makes a nice label that simply says 'Sick Kid Soup'. That way I know exactly what to grab from the freezer when I need it.

Sick Kid Soup

1 box organic beef broth (or any beef broth you can find with low sodium will do)
1 cup organic veggie ABC pasta

Bring the broth to a boil. Add the pasta and boil until pasta is cooked. Use about 1/2 to 1 cup for a serving, freeze the rest for future use!

Note: I found the ABC pasta [a while back] at The Fresh Market.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Diaper Straps!!!

I had to do this. It's the coolest thing, and since we have a little one still in diapers it only made sense for us to try it out! I love this. How simple is this, too, to make as a gift for someone. Sometimes you just want to make or give a small gift where you don't have a lot of money to spend, or don't know the person well enough to justify spending a whole lot. Or maybe it's for that family who probably has everything from their first/other children, but maybe you want to give them something to let them know you're celebrating the newest addition to their family. Whatever the reason, this little something is perfect- the diaper strap!

I found a blog, Calico, where Cally gives a simple tutorial on how to make this strap. It's incredibly easy and fast. I made about 4 in one hour, and possibly could do more next time. Cally makes the point that [these days] many moms and dads aren't carrying the bulky, typical diaper bags that used to be the norm. This diaper strap simplifies things. Also, if you are headed into a public restroom, mom or dad, you don't have to take the entire bag with you. In ours I have the little wipes container, 2 diapers and 1 disposable changing pad. Plenty of room left (based on length of velcro) to add more if we needed to.
So I made these 4 diaper straps with fabrics I already had in my stash, and the button embellishments are from my antique button jar. Leopard print, batik with leaves, boating, and polka dots. Would love to know what you think about this project! Also, if you're a parent of a child in diapers, or planning to become a parent soon, would you use one?

Hope you're having a fabulous weekend!

Blossom and Handbag

So I've been wanting to make a flower out of fabric scraps... I have lots of scraps, even from hemming pants. That's how this first blossom came to life. It was the 1.5" hem off the bottom of some grey pants that I hemmed. It worked out perfectly. I wanted the edges to be raw and curl just a bit. It's hard to see in the picture. For this project, I did a loose baste stitch across the bottom and pulled to gather. then I wrapped it around starting at the center of the circle. I then stitched it together by hand. To add a little more flair I used a button from that "extra button" pouch that came with a suit I have. VERY FAST project.

That blossom was the perfect complement to this handbag I created. It's from Martha Stewart's website and is INCREDIBLY easy to make, less than 1 hour easily. I made 2 of the same in about an hour. I used a pretty wool plaid in pink and grey, which I'm in the process of making myself a poncho. To line, I have yards and yards of a gorgeous dark grey material that I'm tempted to make a suit with, but haven't started because I like quick projects. It is, in fact, reversible. And it's so cute, I've added pics of the handle untucked and tucked below.

You have to print the template and then zoom to 200%. The easiest way to do it is to cut the original printout into 4 equal parts and then expand each to 200%, then cut out and tape together the final template. The rest of the instructions and tips are on Martha's website, including the clip from her show when they showed how to make it.

What a cool idea for gifts!!! Even without the blossom this handbag is the cutest.

More to come soon!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Gift Ideas and Making Use of Scrap Fabric.

I'm going to be sharing some gift ideas in the next couple of months. Today I made a hand towel bag. It can be used for many purposes and done several ways. I hope to show a different version soon. The bamboo handles on this one can slide out and it's washable!

Ideas for giving this as a gift:
  • Beach bag: Choose bright colors like the one shown today. Add a book, some sunscreen and a snack, and it can be carried to the beach!
  • Bath/Shower bag: I thought of people who travel or go to camp. This can be filled with shampoo, shower gel, a puff and other bath toiletries, tailored for the person you have in mind.
  • Make it even more special: Have it monogrammed for a friend or couple getting married. Take it to the monogrammer before stitching up into a bag.
  • For a child: Fill with outdoor toys for the beach or park, bubbles, sand castle toys, gardening toys.
It's such a simple bag to make and can be such an incredible gift, and if you do it right, can also save money when planning your gift giving.

Is there anyone on your list that might like a bag like this?

I also started going through some scrap fabrics today. I have some exciting things planned. But for today I had a piece of fabric too small for much of anything, so I turned it into a simple zipper pouch. I had a small zipper that had been on clearance at the fabric store some time ago. It came together in less than 10 minutes! It's about the size of a wallet and could hold cosmetics, money, you name it. These are so cheap and easy, they make great stocking stuffers or simple birthday surprises.

More great projects to come, hope you are inspired to do some of your own! Christmas is 3 months away, tomorrow!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

What we ate tonight...

I tried a new recipe tonight, and it was really good. Our girls liked it, too. It all began when I found some ground chicken breast on clearance this weekend, simply because it was nearing the sell by date. I felt like it was too hot outside for a chicken chili, and I wasn't in the mood for Rachael Ray's Mexican Lasagna (which is fantastic), so I started searching online for recipes. You can view the original recipe from the Food Network here, but I will share my version below, where I omitted some ingredients and made some other changes.

Steamed-Chicken Rice Fingers with Dipping Sauce

For the rice fingers:
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice (buy the ready rice that's pre-cooked)
  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 1 egg, well beaten
  • 1/2 cup grated onion
  • 1 can (8 ounces) water chestnuts, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup snipped fresh cilantro leaves
  • Spinach leaves to prevent rice fingers from sticking

For the dipping sauce:

  • 6 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons simple syrup (equal amounts of sugar and water heated until sugar melts, then cooled)

Mix together the chicken, egg, onion, water chestnuts, and cilantro in a bowl. Cover a baking sheet with waxed paper. Put rice into a bowl. Shape into 20 "finger" shaped sticks, about the size of a man's finger. Roll each in the rice, then place them on the waxed paper and refrigerate or freeze for at least 1 hour. Once chilled, you can transfer them to an airtight container, separating them with layers of waxed paper, and refrigerate or freeze for future use.

When it's almost time to serve, boil water in the bottom half of a steamer. Line the steaming basket or top half of the steamer with the spinach leaves, place the rice fingers on top of the lettuce, cover, and steam over a rolling boil for about 30 minutes.

To make the dipping sauce, stir together the soy sauce, lime juice, and simple syrup. Serve in small bowls alongside the rice fingers.


Note: my girls would not eat the dipping sauce, so they had ketchup/mustard. The dipping sauce was good but I could see adding some ginger or something, too. I served with sweet potatoes and green beans.

We ate 10 of them (the girls each had 2, and we each had 3), and the other half I froze, uncooked, for another meal.

Monday, September 21, 2009

What brings you solitude?

This is what you see when you look out my back windows. When we bought this house, this was one of the things that drew me to it. Sometimes I just love to sit and look out. When the sun is shining there are so many different shadows of green, and they are different depending on where the sun's angle is. So for me, I could just sit and watch it change all day. During the winter when the leaves are gone, you can see beyond it, but you also get to see the sun shining on the water inside there. It's amazing. It's just a small swamp (or as some call it, wetlands), but I call it beautiful. I think God created this view just for me. But I'll share it with you.

I also love to listen to all the different types of birds out there. I think it's because I grew up loving to hear the birds. We'd have the windows open on days when it wasn't too hot or too cold; the birds would be chirping away. I love to look for different types of birds, too. I love sharing this passion with my girls.

I also love to sit in the morning with a strong cup of hot black tea. Nothing added, just tea. It's calming, reminding me of family. I come from a line of tea drinkers. Hot tea, that is. At family gatherings, tea is always being prepared as soon as dinner is over, to enjoy with dessert.

This morning, as my sick child played with toys, I found my place of solitude here. Home.

I created this blog as a way to share my different passions, all revolving around home. Today I share about the solitude I find at home. Where do you find solitude?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Christmas cards and an encouragment card

Yes, you heard me right. Christmas cards. Christmas is about 3 months away, and if you're not careful, it will sneak up on you very quickly. I decided on a stamp for Christmas as soon as I saw the new Stampin' Up catalog this year, I fell in love with the Medallion stamp. My cards, this year, need to be simple. I have my hands full with 2 young kids and a career.

I am working on these cards in phases. I started out with the cards, then stamped the medallion on each one, then added the adhesive-backed jewels. I then found a die cut for the sentiment to be stamped on, and chose a sentiment to fit inside. Originally I chose a sentiment but couldn't find a die cut that worked with my medallion and fit the size requirement of the stamp. So I found a set of Hampton Arts clear stamps at Michaels that was perfect, and paid only $6 for the stamp set with my 40% coupon. Not a bad deal! I love the simplicity of the 'peace. love. joy.' sentiment and I think it's just perfect for the card. The die cut I used is by Sizzix and is called Christmas Tags, which is on clearance on their website right now. I trimmed off the Christmas tree.

I put 2 stamped sentiments inside, one being "Merry Christmas" from the same clear stamp set. The other one is from an old Stampin Up set.
I also shared this encouraging card with someone this week. I've got that person on my prayer list, per their request. I have always loved this sentiment, by Wordsworth, and the coordinating stamp for the inside says "MY THOUGHTS ARE WITH YOU". Love this old Stampin' Up designer series paper, and added one of their current flower accessories with a brad in the center.
Would love to hear your thoughts on homemade cards. Does anyone you know send them to you? Do you like receiving them, or could you care less? Have you made them? If yes, how much time do you put into card making? Any other comments on homemade cards are welcome!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Pork Tenderloin and Pork Chops

We've been eating a lot more pork lately, and I've found many recipes that are great. I am going to share 2 that I make over and over because they are delicious. I buy tenderloins in bulk from Sam's Club. Having a big freezer in the garage is wonderful for bulk shopping and saves us a lot of money.

The first recipe is one that my friend Holly and her husband created and won first or second place at the NC state fair. I can't remember exactly because it was probably 8 or 9 years ago. They called it Oriental, but to me it tastes Polynesian, which is somewhat similar. I will make the disclaimer that the recipe says to boil the marinade, which we have done many times, but technically you're not supposed to reuse a marinade over again- you're supposed to trash it because of e-coli or one of those other yucky diseases. You make the choice.

Oriental Pork Chops

1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp corn starch
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup ketchup
2 Tbsp white vinegar
1 8-oz can crushed pineapple (in it's own juice)
4-6 boneless pork chops (make sure they're thick enough to slit in half)

Combine first 6 ingredients & juice from pineapple (reserve pineapple for later). Set aside. Cut slits into the sides of the chops to form pockets. Marinate chops for 1 hour or overnight. Stuff each chop with 1 Tbsp pineapple. Reserve marinade. Preheat grill & cook pork chops over med-high heat 10-15 minutes on each side until done. Add remaining pineapple to marinade & boil for 3 minutes. Serve over chops.

The next recipe is really just something I did based on a Pampered Chef idea. I used the Deep Covered Baker (a must have) to cook a tenderloin. I threw in some other things, cooked some brown rice and made the marinade above as a sauce to compliment. The jerk seasoning can be found in the McCormick section of the grocery store, or Pampered Chef also sells it.

Easy Jerk Pork Tenderloin

1 pork tenderloin (fat trimmed off)
1 bell pepper (your choice of color)
1/2 yellow onion
2 Tbsp jerk seasoning
Olive Oil

In a microwave safe baker (that has a lid), pour 1-2Tbsp olive oil and spread around the bottom. Slice up the pepper and onion and spread across the bottom of the baker. Place the tenderloin on top. Pour 1-2 Tbsp olive oil across the top of the tenderloin and then sprinkle jerk seasoning all over the top of the meat. Cover and cook in microwave on high for 8 minutes. Check center of meat with thermometer. It needs to read 150. If it is not quite to 150, heat for a couple more minutes, then recheck temp. Once you reach 150, cover and let sit in the baker for 10 additional minutes. Then it will be ready to serve!

Again, I served with rice and the "Polynesian" sauce above and some french bread. For the sauce, I mixed everything but the pineapple in a saucepan, brought to a boil until thickened, added the pineapple, stirred and served. This one is easily doubled if you have the deep covered baker, I actually made this recipe doubled this week and shared it with another family, Jeremy and Lindsay, who I think about and pray for daily. They lost their 4 month old son recently. Please pray for them, too.

Hope you enjoy your weekend. It's beautiful outside here, so I hope to spend some time out there this afternoon.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Scratch Made Apple Crisp...

I have kept this recipe over the years because it is sooooooo good. I bought some green apples from the local farmer's market and used them tonight. Granny Smith apples make the best dessert apples because they don't mush too easily and they're not too sweet once you add the sugar and other good stuff.

I got this recipe from Sunset magazine, don't remember the month or year, but I think the recipe is probably about 9 or 10 years old, based on when I remember making it and where we lived. It may be older, I just can't remember. LOL, mommy brain, my girls took some of my brain cells. Oh, and Sunset magazine, in case you didn't know, is a lot like Southern Living, but for people out west.

Back when I first started making this, I did all of the peeling and thin slicing by hand. Then about 7 or 8 years ago I bought the Pampered Chef Apple Peeler Corer Slicer. Even the hubby is willing to help with it now that I have a cool tool to do the hard work.

Los Rios Apple Crisp

8 cups peeled, cored and thinly sliced Granny Smith apples
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp all purpose flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup regular rolled oats
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
3/4 cup chopped pecans
Vanilla ice cream

In a 2 qt casserole, mix apples with granulated sugar, 2 Tbsp flour and cinnamon. In a bowl, combine rolled oats, brown sugar, butter, and 3/4 cup flour. Rub with your fingers until butter pieces are no longer distinguishable. Stir in chopped pecans. Sprinkle topping evenly over apples. Bake dessert in the middle of a 350 degree oven until apples are tender when pierced, and topping is browned, 45 min-1hr. Serve warm with ice cream!

Another reason to anticipate autumn, it's apple season!