Can-it Santa… {Re-post}

Well, it’s only been 3 1/2 months since I posted to this blog. I love this blog, I do. But, priorities shift. We know how it goes! Let’s do a quick update, shall we?

1. Got a new full time job, I love! Woohoo! (Thus, less crafting, cooking, and pretty much everything but working.)

2. I am almost 7 months pregnant with our first baby. A boy! Super WOOHOO! I am making his crib set, and such, so hopefully I’ll be updating you all on that after the holidays.

3. Our farm year was successful, but didn’t go quite as planned due to severe morning sickness. (Yuck!) You can always catch up on our farm over at Collingwood Farm Blog.

But in the spirit of the holidays, I wanted to share a Christmas post. Since I was unable to make any homemade gifts this year *sniff*, I’ve decided I’ll just repost from last year. So, enjoy! And Happy Holidays!

**********************************************************************************************************

I mean that in the literal sense. I actually put Santa on a can. ūüôā

My husband comes from a big family. He’s one of 7 kids, and¬†one of 54 grandkids on one side. I had a hard time remembering names for the first 5 years we were together. (We’ve been together 6.)¬† Needless to say, Christmas is an interesting time to be part of his family. His siblings don’t exchange gifts with each other. They used to do¬†a “Secret Santa” kind of gift exchange, but that kind of fell by the wayside.

In my family, we give gifts to everyone. They don’t have to be big, or expensive. Sometimes is just a pumpkin roll, or a pretty tray of cookies. Just a little something to tell that person you think of them. So, joining my hub’s family at Christmas was weird, and left me with the feeling of something missing. So, the Christmas after we got married, I gave all of his siblings a tray of cookies. Last year, I made the all the girls aprons, and the boys a homemade mix of seasoned nuts and dressed them up in a canning jar. This year, I was a little stumped. With 6 siblings, plus significant others, I had to do some brainstorming. I kind of took the easy way out for the girls. (Bath and Body works had a really great sale on mini, yummy smelling candles and pretty metal sleeves to put them in, so I got all the girls a few of those.)

¬†Boys are harder, but one safe bet is always food! I found a yummy looking recipe for chili.¬†You pre-mix all the seasonings and beans together, and then give the giftee¬†the¬†recipe to finish. And you know, when you’re giving homemade presents, its all about the presentation! Thus…..I canned Santa!

For some reason a few months ago I washed and saved a lot of our cans. I’m glad a did now, because they’re the perfect size to put the bagged goodies for the chili gift! I’ve seen variations of my canned Santa on boxes and bags, but I think the can turned out pretty nice! What do you think?

It was really easy. I took a red 8×11 peice of cardstock and cut it in half length-wise. I embossed a white peice of cardstock with the little dots, punched out the buttons and cut one inch strips of black cardstock for the belt. I cut the buckle out of glittery gold cardstock and then just glued the smaller black square in the middle. And I glued everything together with modpodge. (My favorite!)

One tip, I lined the red seams in the front and covered it with the white paper. I did the same thing with the black belt. That way there’s no seams, and it looks a little more clean.

This would be a great wrapping for gifts for neighbors and teachers, too!

Happy…..canning? ūüôā

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Homemade Laundry Detergent

I’ve been thinking of making homemade laundry detergent for quite some time. I have acquired all the bits and pieces to make it over the last year, but I just didn’t get around to doing it.¬† But, like everyone else these days, we need to pinch our pennies.

So, I did a search, and determined that even though I’m used to liquid detergent, the powdered stuff would be less labor intensive. I found a great blog post with pictures and the cost breakdown at diyNaturals. According to their calculations you can save 16 cents per load over the name brand store stuff.¬† If I do 6 loads a week, I’m saving about $50 a year in just laundry detergent. Cool beans!

So following Jab’s recipe:

I combined 1 cup Borax, 1 cup Arm and Hammer Washing Soda (that’s the stuff in the baggie) and 1 bar Fels-Naptha. I used Fels-Naptha because I already had it in the house, but Jab used ivory soap, which would probably be cheaper.

I grated up the Fels-Naptha with a hand grater, and mixed all of the above together until it was evenly mixed, all the big lumps were out, and(after grating the soap) my hand felt like it was going to fall off.

My recipe made 32 oz. And Jab says you only need 1 tablespoon for a regular load. SWEET!

So far I’ve washed a load of whites, and towels with 1 tablespoon each of my detergent, and they look, smell, and feel as clean as laundry washed with my old laundry soap. Yeah! And the best part, it works just fine with HE washers! I have a top loading, and didn’t have a problem. Others say it works just as well with front loaders.

Like I said earlier, if you want a more detailed breakdown, check out Jab’s Homemade Laundry Detergent, and definitely give it a try!

Happy Laundering!

Can-it Santa…

I mean that in the literal sense. I actually put Santa on a can. ūüôā

My husband comes from a big family. He’s one of 7 kids, and¬†one of 54 grandkids on one side. I had a hard time remembering names for the first 5 years we were together. (We’ve been together 6.)¬† Needless to say, Christmas is an interesting time to be part of his family. His siblings don’t exchange gifts with each other. They used to do¬†a “Secret Santa” kind of gift exchange, but that kind of fell by the wayside.

In my family, we give gifts to everyone. They don’t have to be big, or expensive. Sometimes is just a pumpkin roll, or a pretty tray of cookies. Just a little something to tell that person you think of them. So, joining my hub’s family at Christmas was weird, and left me with the feeling of something missing. So, the Christmas after we got married, I gave all of his siblings a tray of cookies. Last year, I made the all the girls aprons, and the boys a homemade mix of seasoned nuts and dressed them up in a canning jar. This year, I was a little stumped. With 6 siblings, plus significant others, I had to do some brainstorming. I kind of took the easy way out for the girls. (Bath and Body works had a really great sale on mini, yummy smelling candles and pretty metal sleeves to put them in, so I got all the girls a few of those.)

¬†Boys are harder, but one safe bet is always food! I found a yummy looking recipe for chili.¬†You pre-mix all the seasonings and beans together, and then give the giftee¬†the¬†recipe to finish. And you know, when you’re giving homemade presents, its all about the presentation! Thus…..I canned Santa!

For some reason a few months ago I washed and saved a lot of our cans. I’m glad a did now, because they’re the perfect size to put the bagged goodies for the chili gift! I’ve seen variations of my canned Santa on boxes and bags, but I think the can turned out pretty nice! What do you think?

It was really easy. I took a red 8×11 peice of cardstock and cut it in half length-wise. I embossed a white peice of cardstock with the little dots, punched out the buttons and cut one inch strips of black cardstock for the belt. I cut the buckle out of glittery gold cardstock and then just glued the smaller black square in the middle. And I glued everything together with modpodge. (My favorite!)

One tip, I lined the red seams in the front and covered it with the white paper. I did the same thing with the black belt. That way there’s no seams, and it looks a little more clean.

This would be a great wrapping for gifts for neighbors and teachers, too!

Happy…..canning? ūüôā

It’s December, and I’m Stewed!

¬†Yesterday was the first day we got snow, which is unusual for my little part of the globe. We generally have had 1-2 feet by now. (You¬†won’t hear me¬†complaining!)¬† That first snowfall is always the prettiest. And it’s days like these that make me want something warming and homey to take the chill off. So what better way to warm up a cold day than SOUP! (The post¬†title should have been “I’m Souped!”, but “stewed” is funnier! :))

Now, I pride myself on my down-home cooking skills, but there are two things that defy me in the kitchen. Soup and Gravy. I KNOW! What kind of farmer can’t make soup or gravy?¬† That would be me. So when I get the urge to make soup, I have to follow a recipe, which I generally don’t use, and the dogs and husband run into¬†¬†other rooms and shudder in fear.¬† But, after reading this recent report¬†I figured I better learn to make good soup, and quick!!

So, after a brief search I found this recipe for Minestrone soup. Looks yummy, right? And the best part is, I have 90% of those vegetables frozen or canned from my garden last year! YAH!! FOR GROWING YOUR OWN FOOD! I’m not gonna have any of that chemical crap in THIS soup! Let’s hope it’s edible…

After a few tweaks to the recipe, here’s what I came up with:

(This was before the “Cleaning up the Details…” post, as you can see.)

Actually, this is what was left after we ate a lot of it, packed some for lunch, and froze 2 quarts for later scrumptious consumption! It was DELICIOUS! I really think the secret to this deliciousness was the homegrown goodness. So what exactly is in there that I grew with my own little hands?

  1. Yellow squash and zucchini, frozen
  2. Green beans (frozen or canned, I used canned)
  3. Onions
  4. Carrots (actually had to supplement with store bought, because I didn’t have enough. Note to self: Plant more carrots next year!!)
  5. Stewed tomatoes
  6. Tomato sauce, which was seasoned with home-grown oregano and basil.

The only thing I didn’t have was the kidney beans and celery. Maybe I’ll grown those next year?! Oh, and the garlic, but I have garlic in the ground already, since they have to over-winter. (Yeah!!)

Happy December Everyone!

Cleaning up the details…

We don’t get many visitors here on the homestead. And I kind of like it that way. I don’t have to worry about mopping up the muddy dog prints in the mud room every day, or scrubbing the grout in the shower. But, this year, we offered to have a family New Year’s Eve party. And being that New Year’s eve is only a titch over 4 weeks away, I thought maybe I’d better start cleaning up the details. And our thousand year old stove, on our million year old whitish, gold-flecked, stain-loving¬†laminate counter is at the top of my list. And I HATE IT! It works beautifully, but it’s old and groddy, and IMPOSSIBLE to keep clean. Are you ready for this?

 

 

This stuff would NOT come off with regular cleaner and a rag…I promise, I do try!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I know, I know…all together now… “EW, GROSS, VOM, BELCH, PUKE…” I get it. I’m a terrible housekeeper. I never claimed to be Martha Stewart, and besides, I like to do more fun things, like COOK ON IT!

 

 

 

 

ANYWAY…

Let me introduce to you the ultimate in life-saving, holiday-cleaning, yucky-stove repairing cleaner.

Bar Keeper’s Friend is now my friend!

Let me reassure you, I have no association with this product, and no money exchanged hands for this post. (Except Wal-Mart got like $1.25 when I bought it.) I actually only know about it because a 70+ year old¬†family friend advised me to use it when cleaning the baked on gunk from my Pyrex. So I did, and it’s AWESOME!! Then, I just started cleaning everything with it. And it works so well, I wanted to share it with you.

I personally think it works better than any mangic erasers or other cleaning powders. I haven’t had a problem with it scratching laminate, metal or any of my dishes. The only thing it does it dry the heck out of my fingers, so I’d recommend using rubber gloves or something. But, I’m too much of a woman for that…(aka stubborn.)

To use it, you just follow the directions, which is essentially dampen the surface you want to clean, put some BKF powder on it, and use a little elbow grease. The worse the stain, the more powder you use. And honestly, you need less elbow grease than you would expect.  Wanna know how well it works?

   

AWESOME, RIGHT?!

Phew, one detail to cross off the list, now onto the other…..400?!?

Happy Cleaning!!

Mom’s “Better-than-the-Fair” Lemonade.

When I was a kid, the BIG¬†excitement in our small town every summer was the County Fair. It was always the first week of August, and you better believe, come Sunday, we were THERE.¬† There are lots of things I remember loving about the fair…the smells (funnel cake, sausage, animals, sweat…maybe I didn’t love ALL the smells), the games, all the weird-looking people, the french fries… But the thing I have NEVER forgotten, and often crave, is the LEMONADE!¬†I don’t know if it was the hot weather and the icy, fresh taste, or¬†the 1/2 cup of sugar sitting at the bottom of the cup once the lemonade was gone. Either way, I loved it, and still do.¬† On a recent trip to visit my family, I was reminiscing with my mother about how I loved the lemonade, and it just wasn’t the same anywhere else. With a sly look on her face, she replied “My lemonade is better than the fair!” (And at $5 bucks a cup, a heck of a lot cheaper, too.) Needless to say, I snatched up that recipe, and make it regularly. I love it so much, I knew you would too, so here it is!

What you need:

  • 2 quart pitcher
  • lemon juicer of some sort
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • cutting board
  • knife
  • spoon

To start, be sure to wash your lemons. A secret (not really)¬†to getting the best juice from a lemon is to roll it back and forth on a hard surface, while putting a fair amount of pressure on it. You’ll feel it soften, that’s when its nice and juicy inside!

Then, cut your lemons in half, and juice the heck out of them, right into the pitcher. We aren’t afraid of a few seeds in this house. (Plus they usually just hang out at the bottom of the pitcher anyway.) When I’m done, I just throw the rest of the lemon into the pitcher, but it’s up to you.

Fill the pitcher up with water and add the sugar.¬† Stir vigorously, or slowly, I don’t think it matters.¬† ūüôā Once everything’s nice and mixed up, sock on the lid, and put ‘er in the fridge. It’s best to let it sit for 1-2 hours, and as with most things, it’s even better the next day.¬† One word of warning from my mother is to make it in small batches, because it gets a “bite” after a few days. I wouldn’t know, it never lasts that long.

ENJOY!

There’s nothing sweeter than corn fresh from the cob…

…in the middle of winter?!

That’s right my friends, there is a way to have that sweet, fresh and crisp taste of summer’s sweet corn in the middle of winter. FREEZE IT! Trust me when I tell you, taking 30 mins of time to prepare and freeze fresh summer corn is well worth it. You will NOT find the taste anywhere in the freezer or canned goods section of your grocery store in January, so why not stock up now? You can go to your local farmers market and get 5 for $1.00 this time of year¬†, so¬†load up for those long, grey days, or Christmas dinner!

Let’s Begin!

So, firstly, I picked about 10 cobs from my garden. (Maybe I’ll have a tutorial to grow your own corn next spring. It’s the best!)¬† You husk them like normal. Compost the husk and silk. As you can see from the picture, my corn isn’t perfect. I don’t use chemical fertilizer or pesticides, so a few blemishes are to be expected. In this case, I picked a few too early because the bugs were getting to them before I was! The taste, on the other hand, is perfection.

ANYWAY…

Now that your corn is husked, drop them all into a large pot of water, bring to a rolling boil, and boil for about 10 minutes, give or take.¬† Once they’re a bright yellow, and smell delicious, drain them, and let them cool.

Once it’s cool enough to handle, get a sharp knife and a bowl (I’m a vintage pyrex collector….they¬†make me happy.)

And start shaving those puppies right of the cob. Get close enough to the core to get all the good stuff, but once you hit the harder, brownish core, stop.  Like so:

Repeat for all cobs. ( I hear they make some corn do-flangus that takes the kernels off for you, but this works just fine and doesn’t cost anything….)

Now, just get a quart freezer bag, or larger depending on the number of cobs, and fill ’em up!¬†

 

And VOILA! Fresh corn for the freezer, to be enjoyed when fresh corn is no longer… ūüôā Just be sure to take out as much air as possible before putting in the freezer to avoid freezer burn. (Sorry about the sideways pic, I’m still learning.)

Now, if you don’t have a deep freezer, go get one, hit up the farmers market on your way home, and GET TO FREEZING!¬† The amount of money you’ll save freezing your own veggies will cover the cost of the freezer in no time!

FYI:

You can do this with all kinds of veggies. I currently have zucchini, summer squash and green beans fresh from my garden in the freezer beside the corn. ūüôā Let me know if you want to freeze them, I’d be happy to give you pointers.

ENJOY!!