Monday, January 26, 2015

Book Review (Dinner: the Playbook)

I love to read cookbooks. Not the 800-page tomes, but the personable cookbooks that have a story for every recipe, or at least a good bit to read before you start cooking.

I picked up Dinner: the Playbook from my library recently and settled in to read it. It was a good read. I can't comment on the recipes, which look fabulous, because I haven't actually cooked anything yet....

What I liked:
Obviously, the portion that was more story-form than cookbook-form.
That each recipe has a picture.
Most recipes have suggested sides (and recipes for a lot of the sides suggested) so you aren't left wondering what else to make for dinner.
The ideas for making dinner less stressful.
Simple recipes (most everything looks like it will come together quickly, which is nice for a busy family).
The recipes are rather healthy looking, and most of the ingredients aren't too expensive. They do range in price though.

What I didn't like:
The author included three recipes for pizza and called for refrigerated bread dough (purchased) or if you want to make your own dough she linked to her blog for the recipe. I thought she should have put the recipe in the book, it seemed simple enough to include. But it's also simple enough to look up online so I suppose it isn't that terrible of a complaint.
Also, this is a book that will not stay open on its own.

A recipe I'd like to try.

The author and her husband didn't start having family dinners with their two children until they were 3 and 4 years old. So, as one might imagine, there was quite a fuss over eating "real" food (rather than hot dogs and fish sticks, I guess).

Since we've always had our daughter eat dinner with us (and the dinners are not hot dogs or fish sticks, gross...), I couldn't really relate to the concept of introducing your kids to the idea of family dinner. I am very thankful for my daughter's palate! She is quite open to new foods and will eat most anything with gusto (but she's still a kid so sometimes kid-speak leaves her mouth. Like, "this is the most horrible thing I've ever had!!!!!" LOL). She says she is picky about crusts, because apparently she needs something to be picky about so she picked bread crusts. I'm good with that. She'll eat almost any vegetable without complaint and will eat almost anything we have for dinner. As an example, I've never made kale before and I decided to try it last week. I made kale sauteed with garlic and red pepper flakes and she gave it a two thumbs up (literally).

There are some recipes in the book I'd like to try out, but haven't taken the time yet. If I owned the book, I'd probably make about half of them over time.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

52 Projects: Week 3

Making time for the hobbies I like can be difficult for me. So that's why I decided to set a goal of completing 52 projects in 2015. I think it is totally doable!

I worked on my 3rd project all last weekend. Because it was a gift for a friend (who probably doesn't read my blog, but I didn't want to chance it), I am not posting until after the gift has been opened!
I made three baby gowns as a gift for my friend's shower. She's having a BOY so I asked her husband for two or three t-shirts so I could make some gowns from them. He gave me two {very loved} t-shirts. I've made these gowns as gifts before, see here and here.

The three I made this go-around:

A gray Michigan shirt, with a navy shirt for contrast. The front of the shirt had a lot of stains on it so I had to cut around those, and was left with the logo.

An Old Navy shirt. Funny thing about this is that the logo on the sleeve was the logo from the front of the shirt. I didn't have enough usable fabric from the t-shirt to make the body of the gown, so I bought a contrasting gray shirt. When I was making it up, I felt like the front needed something else. So I cut the logo that had been on the sleeve and sewed it to the front of the gown.

I wanted to give three gowns, so I purchased another Michigan shirt as well as a contrasting yellow shirt. I was looking for a shirt with a smaller logo but this was all that I could find! Because it was so wide, I used it for the bottom portion of the gown.

All three (the yellow below is closer to what it looks like in person):

One thing I debated about was that since this is a gift, should I share the cost? I decided to go ahead and post the cost. One of my reasons for having this 52 projects challenge for myself is that I often just do not have money to go out and have fun with Pinterest-inspired crafts. But I wanted to get creative and see how far my money can go this year! So, possibly for the encouragement to someone else, I'd like to share that lack of money doesn't mean the lack of a nice gift! :-)

I had to purchase four t-shirts for this project. For the four shirts, plus a spool of thread, I spent $5.46. 

Cost: $5.46
Running Cost: $7.99

Monday, January 19, 2015

Handmade, With Love

I was going back through my blog for some information, and came across this post with the following picture, which made me smile. All that handmade goodness in one picture!

A quilted coaster, knitted socks, crocheted afghan, crocheted pumpkins all made by me; and even someone else's handiwork: a crocheted doily I bought at a yard sale!

Thursday, January 08, 2015

52 Projects: Week 2

Making time for the hobbies I like can be difficult for me. So that's why I decided to set a goal of completing 52 projects in 2015. I think it is totally doable!

Today during my daughter's quiet time I pulled out my beads and findings. Back story: with my 2013 birthday money, I purchased the tools necessary for beading, as well as a few beads. I made some earrings as Christmas gifts. When Kevin took my daughter Christmas shopping for me, they headed to the craft store and she picked out beads for me to make things with. All year long I made not one beaded thing. *Hangs head with Mommy guilt* I actually pulled them out a few times, looked at them, wondered what to make with them, tried making earrings but wasn't happy with the result, etc. I didn't totally ignore them!

So. I am using my gift from my daughter as I learn to do some beading. The beads are really random (they were picked out by a 4-year old, after all!) so I'm going to have to be creative. Or get more beads to go with the ones she picked out for me.

Excuse #1 - I don't know what to do/how to use the beads.
Answer - Find ideas on Pinterest.

Excuse #2 - I don't know how to wire wrap, make things, etc. very well.
Answer - Find tutorials on Pinterest and practice. Just start making.

Excuse #3 - Every time I pull things out to work on beads, I suddenly grow two extra hands.
Answer - Bead during quiet time. ;-)

These are the earrings that I made today:

The dark silver beads are from a necklace I used to have, which broke. I followed the wire wrapping tutorial here, and got much better results this time around! The second set of earrings are from beads my daughter gave me. I followed the tutorial here.

Cost: $0 (I had all the materials/tools from previous purchases or gifts)
Running Cost: $2.53

Saturday, January 03, 2015



And it was this year. First, I decided to sew superhero capes for my three nephews. I used the free pattern here (the neckline on the example in this post looks different than what the pattern makes up, which is a good thing, actually).

The three capes turned out so cute and I didn't know what to make (or buy) for my two state-side nieces, so I decided to make them capes too. 

(I have a new camera, still working out settings...the colors are very off in this picture. The capes on the left are red/yellow/black and on the right are purple/lavender/pink.)

I heard back from my SIL that "H" was running around all day Christmas being a superhero. And I talked to my sister recently and she said that "L" was a superhero all day and put the cape on her sister "C" so she could crawl around and be a superhero too. When her daddy came home from work, she told him about being a superhero. He asked her if she saved the world, and she said no, she saved the day! Too cute!

My daughter didn't get one for Christmas - she didn't need additional presents - but I knew she'd like one. So I made one along the others and finished it up on New Year's Day. Sure enough she was excited to get it and ran off a lot of energy using it! :)

So anyhow, back to the top picture: I was finishing these up on the Thursday before Christmas and I didn't finish in time to get them to the post office before they closed. So they went out on Friday and somehow they all made it for Christmas! Whew!

I think that I should start next year's presents I'm not mad-dashing about trying to get them done and in the mail on time. Maybe that would be better, hmm?

Friday, January 02, 2015

~52 Projects: Week 1~

One of the goals I have for this year is to make a project a week. My parents gave me a gift card to Hobby Lobby for Christmas, and I'm going to see how far I can make it go!

My first project, crochet teardrop wire earrings:

I loosely followed the directions found here. I used 26-gauge wire and an "E" crochet hook.

Bonus project:

Another pair of earrings! Clearly I need to work on my wire skills, but I'm happy with how they turned out! They're definitely wearable!

Project Cost: $2.53 for the wire (I used a 40% off coupon). I had the jump rings and ear wires (and the beads for the second pair of earrings).

Thursday, January 01, 2015


Happy New Year!

I love fresh starts. New pages. A beginning. And so as 2015 begins, I am setting some goals. I looked back through my blog and realized I've never published goals per se. Hmmm. The last few years have been interesting in that regard.

More Dates. This one is hard for us because we don't have any close babysitters. But we're going to work on having more than one or two dates per year. Maybe we'll get wild and make it four dates in a year's time! Haha...the goal is "more" not a certain number. So...three would be more than two....yeah, we need to work on this!

Read the Bible through. I want to read it through in either 90 or 180 days. I started reading my Bible through in 90 days a few years back but got stuck in Isaiah. I'd really like to start and finish this goal!

Lose 5 lb. I reached my weight loss goal last May, and guess what? I successfully maintained that loss. Until November and December came around. I've gained 5 pounds and I want it GONE! and fast!

52 Projects in 52 Weeks. I want to create more. I get so busy with "things" and "life" that I don't take time to do the things I enjoy. I want to finish 52 projects (big and small) in a year's time. I'm thinking: crafting, knitting, crocheting, and sewing.

I think I'll stop there! I could write a lo-o-o-o-ong list (I am tempted to do so!). But I think it's better to have a shorter list and actually be able to finish it! :-) I'll be updating every so often here on the blog!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

~Today: December 31, 2014~

On this last day of 2014...

The tree still looks so nice, and makes the living room feel so cozy. For some reason, I'm not ready to take it down yet!

Snow! We did not have a white Christmas. But it's snowing today! And if you're an almost 6-year old, and there's snow on the ground then there is no reason to 1) walk on the shoveled path or 2) walk in a straight line. I love this picture, it depicts my daughter's personality so well:

Dishes! Lots of dishes to do today for some reason...

Half-day for Kevin so lots of family time today and tomorrow!

And finally, a thought for the coming year from the December 31st devotional in My Utmost for His Highest:

As we go forth into the coming year, let it not be in the haste of impetuous, forgetful delight, nor with the quickness of impulsive thoughtlessness. But let us go out with the patient power of knowing that the God of Israel will go before us. Our yesterdays hold broken and irreversible things for us. It is true that we have lost opportunities that will never return, but God can transform this destructive anxiety into a constructive thoughtfulness for the future. Let the past rest, but let it rest in the sweet embrace of Christ. 
Leave the broken, irreversible past in His hands, and step out into the invincible future with Him.
Find the rest here.

May your last day of 2014 be blessed as you ring in the New Year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014


Christmas is past. It seemed to come and go so quickly this year!  I snapped a few pictures a few days before Christmas, and thought I'd share them.

The living room:

The gingerbread house we made as a family: 

The nativity, set up by my daughter. O come let us adore Him!

A counted cross stitch, stitched by Kevin's grandma:

We really don't have a lot of Christmas decorations. I'm good with's less to put away after the Christmas season is gone. This year we've enjoyed a real tree (so much better than our *very cheap* fake tree!), and listened to Christmas songs and carols as often as possible.

It was a good Christmas! I've come to embrace the very relaxing Christmas season that December brings. With most of our friends immersed into parties and events and activities and mandatory extended family gatherings, it can get lonely when you realize that you have practically none of that - and if you try to invite others over it has to be squeezed into their schedule (which can be depressing too!). I think this year I had the best attitude toward our less-busy-than-friends schedule and we watched movies as a family, did things like decorate a gingerbread house, and had company when we could (because there are others too that aren't as busy as everyone else, you just have to look a little). It was all lovely! And for the first time we had company on Christmas Day, which was so very nice. 

The company table: 

I forgot to take a close-up of the napkins, but I followed this pin for folding them. 

In all, a very good month! I'm ready now for the New Year. I am looking forward to this next year!

Monday, December 29, 2014

~Refashioning a Barbie Dress~

My daughter got a Barbie for Christmas, and she was concerned that the dress wasn't modest enough. 

I pulled out a top I had that didn't work for me, and a bit of lace.

A little time and voila! a modified Barbie dress! I trimmed the ruffle off the tank, sewed it onto the dress (seamed down the back), and sewed the white lace along the top. Nothing fancy, but it works!

My daughter is happy but wanting a whole new wardrobe for Barbie...

Friday, December 19, 2014


My dad's family is German Mennonite, and I grew up eating many German dishes. One of my absolute favorites at Christmastime were my grandma's peppernuts. The way my grandma made them, they were crunchy, spicy little cookies. I tried a recipe out of More With Less (a Mennonite cookbook) but alas, they tasted like nothing I'd ever had. Awhile back my aunt sent me some recipes from my grandma and I didn't realize the peppernuts were included, until my sister called me to ask if I had Grandma's recipe.

So then, of course I had to make them!

Growing up, these appeared at my grandparents house in early December and were around till the New Year. (Grandma must have made several batches in order for them to last a month!) My parents didn't let us eat sugar but these somehow flew under the radar. Maybe because they were so small? Maybe because they were easy to sneak??? I remember being at my grandparents to play and going inside to use the bathroom and coming out with a pocketful of peppernuts to eat as I played! If I was lucky, no one would see me eating them and then I wouldn't have to share. ;)

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

~Winter Canning~

I held off as long as I could and then I just could't stand it any more. I had to get out my pots and pans, funnel, jar lifter, and jars.

To go along with our Thanksgiving dinner, I made cranberry sauce. I wasn't inclined to put it in a can so it would look commercial, so I just poured it into a serving dish and chilled it. It was very good and not only got compliments but was eaten all up (that's the proof your company is telling the truth ;-) ). The next week when I went to the store, cranberries were still a good price so I got two more bags and made up a recipe and a half to can.

And now I have four lovely jars of cranberry sauce. It's a bit of a novelty item to me, we never really eat a lot of cranberry sauce anyhow so I wouldn't want any more than this. Just the perfect amount to eat over this winter.

But even though it's the perfect amount, this is my thought on small batch canning: if I'm going to totally trash my kitchen for four jars of sauce (or jam, or whatever), I might as well go all out and get a whole canner load. Not that I wanted a whole canner load of cranberry sauce, but...look at all those dishes! I somehow managed to get many utensils, two pans, the Champion juicer parts (necessary for this project - to remove seeds and skins), and many other things covered in sauce! Ah, if only I were a neater cook!

So, that brings my jar count for this year to 344. I'm thinking of canning a few more things before the year's end, we'll see! 

Friday, December 05, 2014

~Play Dough~

I made some play dough today! A quick and easy project for me, and an afternoon of enjoyment for my daughter.

There are any number of play dough recipes online, just look on Pinterest and you'll come up with no less than 1000 variations on the humble play dough. I don't go fancy,  I just use a cooked recipe that has cream of tartar and oil in it. It seems to last for a reasonable length of time.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

~Fermented Goodness~

I love fermented vegetables! Not only are they tasty, but I feel so much better on the inside when I eat them. I wanted to ferment much more of the garden produce from last summer, but only got one quart of dilly green beans fermented (they were amazing, I'm sorry I didn't do more!).

My latest fermenting experiment was garlicky kraut (I used 1 head cabbage and 2 cloves of garlic). It is so good! The garlic mellows out and gives it a nice flavor, but doesn't overpower the kraut. My daughter requested to have a bowl of kraut with her lunch, and has proclaimed that it is the "best you've ever made". I'll gladly take that compliment. ;-)

Also fermenting: a batch of kraut with caraway seeds, and the olives. Consumed recently: kimchi. I have ingredients for: ginger carrots, kraut, and kimchi. Better get chopping!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


It has been snowing, and snowing, and snowing non-stop since Monday, except for when it was raining. And then snowing on top of the resulting ice. Yeah, baby! It's going to be a great winter!

I saw this quote and just laughed;

Well, duh! Should have looked at the map a little closer before we moved here!

The side of our front porch.