Saturday, October 20, 2012

Join Me Elsewhere
Since my time and thoughts are now much more involved with home-schooling than crafting, I've started a new blog called Cook, Teach, Grow.  I'll be posting recipes there instead of here, as well as children's book recommendations, the occasional curriculum review, children's craft ideas, etc.  I'm not deleting this blog, since a few years down the line I might have more time for my shop and this blog again.  But for now, if you want to keep reading my thoughts (and recipes), please join me there.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Perfect Peaches & Cream Pie

I got this recipe from a recent edition of Taste of Home and decided to make it for our Labor Day celebration.  We'd planned to picnic in our backyard, but it rained the night before and the ground was too soggy for comfort, so we ate inside instead.  I made the crust and filling the night before, and added the peaches and topping that morning.  My husband says it's the tastiest pie I've ever made!  I made a couple adjustments to the recipe that I'm planning to keep, so here's my version:

Perfect Peaches & Cream Pie


1 1/4 cup honey graham cracker crumbs (regular would be okay too)
1/4 cup sugar
6 Tbsp butter -- melted

4 oz cream cheese -- softened
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup frozen whipped topping -- thawed

1 pkg (3 oz) peach gelatin
1 pkg (3 oz) cook-and-serve vanilla pudding mix
1 1/4 cups water
2 cups sliced peeled fresh peaches (about 2) or canned sliced peaches


In a bowl, mix cracker crumbs and sugar.  Stir in the butter.  Press onto bottom and sides of an ungreased 9" pie plate.  Bake at 375 for 6-8 minutes or until slightly brown.  Cool completely.

In a small bowl, blend cream cheese and confectioners' sugar.  Add whipped topping and mix.  Spread over crust with a rubber/silicon spatula.  Refrigerate until set.

In a small saucepan, combine gelatin and pudding mixes.  Stir in water and bring just to a boil over medium-low heat, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and cool for 5 minutes.

Arrange peach slices over filling.  To get it to look like a flower the way I did, start at the edge, putting the slices down fat-side toward the edge.  Do a whole ring that way, then do a ring inside that, and a ring inside that, until you've filled the whole pie with a layer of peach slices.  Spoon gelatin mixture over the peaches.  Refrigerate for 4 hours or until chilled and set.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Patchwork Skirts! And a Tutorial!

I'm nearly done with the 9 (!) patchwork skirts I'm making for my daughters and nieces.  Whew!  Here's how my first one turned out:

And I've posted the tutorial on how to make these as a page here on my blog.  You can see it at the top of the blog, right under my header.  Or follow this link.

These skirts are lots of fun to make, and they're such a great way to use up extra fabric scraps.  They go with almost any top if you use a variety of colors like I did, or you could pick one color scheme (All greens?  Red, white, and blue?  Rainbow?) and go with that.

Gotta go!  Hope you're enjoying your summer as much as we are.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Violet's Snickers Surprises

I made these today at the request of one of my hubby's former co-workers, who is coming over for supper tomorrow.  I'd made these for one of their office potlucks back when they worked together, and she loved them so much, she asked if I would make them for her now.

I call them "Violet's" because I got this recipe from a friend, and that was her name.  We served on jury duty together years ago, and she brought these as a treat for all of us one day.  Violet, another juror, and I became good friends -- after jury duty ended, we would get together for supper every few months.  She died two years ago, and whenever I make these, I think of her.

Violet's Snickers Surprises


2 sticks of butter -- softened
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup brown sugar -- packed down
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 pkg (13 oz) mini Snickers candy bars


Combine the butter, peanut butter, and sugars using a mixer on med. low until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, then vanilla, mixing a bit between teach.  Combine thoroughly.  Mix in flour, salt, and baking soda.  Cover and chill dough for 2-3 hours.

Unwrap 48 mini Snickers.

Remove dough from fridge.  Divide into 2-Tbsp pieces and flatten.  Place a mini Snickers in center of each piece of dough.  Form dough into a ball around each mini candy bar.  Place on greased cookie sheet and bake at 300 for 12-15 minutes.  Let cookies cool on cookie rack.  Makes 48 cookies.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Patchwork Skirt -- A Quick Peek

I'm nearly finished with my daughter's patchwork skirt!  Taking me forever, as my sewing machine is up in my bedroom, on the same floor as their rooms, so my best times to work on it (ie, when they're asleep) are kind of a no-go.  But I'm really close to finishing it, and then I'll be writing up a tutorial so you can make your own if you think they're nifty.  

Meanwhile, here are a couple of photos from the whole process.

Pile of scraps turned into skirt blocks

Three long strips of blocks sewn together

Putting it all together

Sunday, July 1, 2012

And Somehow, It's July

How is it July already?  Goodness gracious me, this summer is flying by.  Probably because I've been crazybusy.  The kids have been playing with squirt guns a lot in this hot weather, which leads to sopping wet and muddy clothing, which leads to extra laundry.  There are days when the only thing I accomplish besides getting meals on and off the table is laundry.

But I've been working on several projects too, as usual.  I finally decided that I could wait no longer to get my sewing machine out, so instead of finishing actually cleaning up my entire crafting nook, I just cleaned off the table.  Here's how it looks:

As soon as I got it set up, I sewed a ring sling for my sis-in-law -- I'd promised to do that almost three months ago, sigh.  Anyway, that pile of fabric at the very right of the photo is for my latest project:  patchwork skirts.  Another sis-in-law found one online she thought would be super cute for her daughter, and she shared the photo with me.  I said, "That is super cute -- I could do that!"  Except, being me, I've decided to just do it myself without buying a pattern, so we'll see how it turns out.  I'm about half done cutting squares, then there's just pinning and sewing and ironing and more pinning and more sewing and inserting elastic... let's hope I finish them by the end of the summer!  Our daughters are about the same age, and there are two more girl cousins that age too, so if I get really ambitious, I might make matching skirts for all four of them.  If they turn out well, I'll try to put up a tutorial here on how to make them.

I'm also working on a second dress for my pixie doll, but that's been derailed by me remembering I need to crochet a baby blanket for yet another sis-in-law, so I'm concentrating on that for right now and letting my other crochet patterns slide, as the baby is due next month.

What's everyone else up to?  Taking it easy?  That sounds like a good plan to me!

Friday, June 15, 2012

You Know You Want This

The This Cosy Life blog is giving away a copy of Naturally Fun Parties with Kids by Anni Daulter and Heather Fontenot.  Go here for a review of the book and to enter the giveaway.

(Photo snurched from This Cosy Life.  Copyright 2012 by Julie Hunter.)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

First Peek at My Pixie Doll!

I've finished my pixie doll and her first dress!  Here she is:

This is the Spring dress -- I've got designs in mind for one for each season.  And my son wants me to make a boy pixie too, so we shall see what I can come up with.  Meanwhile, this is all finished except for a button on the back, and then I'll be doing better photos and writing up the pattern, etc.

Monday, June 4, 2012


I dropped off the grid for a while -- sorry about that.  We went to my parents' house, the kids and I were sick for a week, and then I had to dig myself out from under a mountain of laundry... I've barely had time to check my email and keep up with pattern sales, much less do some real blogging. 

But right now, I have a few quiet minutes, and thought I'd do a catch-up post here.  I just finished playing The Game of Life with my son, and he's now playing with the cars and little peg people, racing them around the board and telling little stories.  Both girls are napping, and outside it looks like a rainstorm might be scudding our way.

Remember how I said I wanted to have my creative nook totally reorganized by the end of May?  I failed.  It doesn't look much different than it did three weeks ago, except that I've emptied out one of the grey plastic tubs and cleared a couple things off my sewing table.  Sigh.  At this rate, it'll be the end of summer before I even manage to haul out my sewing machine, and those skirts I wanted to make the girls for this summer will have to be fall skirts instead.  Grr.

On a good note, I've finished my fairy/sprite/pixie doll, and the first dress for her!  I need to get some photos of her the next time it's sunny, and then I'll post them here and show her off.  And get the patterns in my store!  I'm hoping to accomplish that by the end of this week, we shall see.

I've also been working on a watercolor poster thing (I'm so descriptive today!) for the baby's room -- I'll post pics of that when it's finished too.  And I'm more than half done with the first knitted storage box for the shelves in my creative nook.  Haven't had a lot of crafting time lately -- did I mention the mountain of laundry? -- but I do what I can, when I can.

Okay, that's all for today.  Hoping to post more soon!

Monday, May 28, 2012

In Memorium

For all who gave their lives to make or keep us free and safe.  Thank you.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Stoplight Stir Fry

My son nicknamed this "Stoplight Stir Fry" because it has bright red, green, and yellow in it.  Much more creative name than just "Mango Stir Fry," which is what we originally called it.

Stoplight Stir Fry


1 lb spaghetti -- cooked
2 tsp. oil
1 red pepper -- julienned
8 oz sliced fresh mushrooms
2 cloves garlic -- minced
1 bunch broccoli -- cut into florets
1 mango -- peeled and chunked
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup pineapple juice
3 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp peanut butter


Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat.  Add peppers, mushrooms, and garlic.  Saute 5 minutes.  Add broccoli and mango and saute 4 minutes.  Stir in broth, juice, and soy sauce.  Cook 5 minutes.  Stir in peanut butter.  Serve over spaghetti.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Progress Report #3

Thanks to being gone a week, then my hubby being sick for a week, my efforts at transforming my big mess into a cozy crafting zone have been somewhat derailed.  I'm back on track at last, though -- my husband and the kids finished putting together my new cubby last night, and I reorganized where things are situated so the table can be by the light and the cubby can be by my plastic storage tubs.  Here's how it's looking:

Still a sad, sad mess, isn't it?  But I haven't gotten anything put in the cubby yet.  Hoping that makes a big difference!

And yes, I was hoping for a white cubby, but Target was out of the white cubes, so I went with this wood look instead.  Matches the table better anyway.  I'm working on knitting sides for a storage basket to go into a backless cube, though because I'm a very slow knitter, I only have one side done and another started.  I'm using that cheery green/blue yarn you can see in one of the cubes because it precisely matches something crazy I hope to store lots of yarn in (instead of that stack of four cardboard boxes to the left).

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

New Crochet Pattern, a Stitch Idea, and a Sleep Breakthrough

It's done!  My new pattern for a flower embellishment:

I had this idea for a kind of retro, almost cartoon-like flower a while ago, based on the kinds we tend to associate with the 1960s and '70s, flower power, hippies, etc.  But I could not for the life of me get the petals to be rounded like this without either curling up or running into each other.  I finally got it all figured out on Friday and made up a couple demos to show off in my listings for the pattern.  (It's listed on Etsy, Ravelry, and Craftsy, as usual.)

These would be so cute decorating a hat or purse, or a bunch of them sewn all over a vest or skirt!  I think they lend themselves to children's clothing really well, but adults with a fun fashion sense could totally wear them too.  Here's how one looks on my adult sun hat:

And just this morning, while I was lying in bed snuggling my baby, I dreamed up my very first crochet stitch!  I went to Yarn Cloud yesterday for new yarn to make a blanket for the new niece we'll be getting in a few months, and I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do for this blanket, when bam!  A new crochet stitch! It's probably been done before, but I've never used it or seen it in a book (as far as I know -- I do like reading books of different stitches).  If the blanket turns out well, maybe I'll sell the pattern for it!

Speaking of snuggling my baby, last night was a Big Night.  She slept in her own bed for half the night!  She's almost 5 months old now, and I had started putting my other two kids in their own beds at night when they were about 4 months old, but timing just has not been working out with this one -- we were gone two weeks ago, we've got another trip coming up soon, and then next month we're going on vacation.  I tried starting her in her own bed a few times, but she wasn't going for it, and I figured with all that upheaval, it just was going to have to wait.

But last night she kept waking up every half an hour, and I got fed up.  The fourth time she woke up, I said, "That's it!  Little girl, you're going in your own bed.  If you cry, so be it -- Mommy needs sleep!"  I nursed her back to sleep, put her down in the little travel bed next to our bed, which is where I've been trying to get her to sleep at nights (she naps in her own room during the day), and she stayed asleep!  So I lay back down, figuring I'd get maybe half an hour before she woke up and yowled.  But lo and behold, when she woke up again, she'd been asleep for two hours!!  I put her back in her own bed, and then she slept for almost three hours!!!  What an amazing relief!  This morning, for the first time in weeks, my back hasn't complained when I got up (sleeping around a baby this size is not comfy after the first few minutes), and she's actually been in a pretty good mood too.  Here's hoping this continues!

Monday, May 7, 2012

I Have a Brown Thumb

My brown thumb

See?  Brown thumb.  That's what you get when you spend the weekend planting flowers!  Not a green thumb -- whoever came up with that silly idea?

Anyway, here is my new container garden!

View from the door to my kitchen!

It was going to be just the big white one and the two off on the ends, but I overestimated how much dirt and how many flowers would fit in those, so yesterday I ran back to the store for the two pots flanking the big one.  The little pots are an unexpected addition as well -- the largest little pot (oxymoron much?) is the lavender I started inside, and the two smaller ones are leftover snapdragon seeds, one for my son and one for my oldest daughter.  Up at the top are two pots of mint -- I bought the mint plants at the grocery store and just repotted them to match my color scheme.  They're held up by a wire railing planter thingie I used at our old apartment last year.

Here's a closer look at the pots, tagged with what's inside them:


French marigolds, dwarf celosia, and calibrachoa

Four o'clocks (seeds planted) and dwarf celosia

Snapdragons (seedlings) and nasturtiums (seeds planted)

Five lavender seedlings -- all that came up of the 24 I started

Snapdragon seeds the kids planted

And at the corner of the house, my hubby dug this little plot for more lavender:

Four square feet of lavender?  I hope so!

Um, do bunnies like lavender?  Just realized they may nibble on anything that happens to come up here.  Might end up buying lavender plants instead of using seeds, and putting in a fence... or forgetting the lavender patch, but I hope not!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Happy May Day!

We're home :-)  And exhausted.  We had a nice visit, but I think it may take several weeks to get the two older kids to settle down again.

Anyway, happy May Day!  My hubby had these for me when I got home yesterday.  Aren't they cheerful?

Friday, April 27, 2012

Asparagus and Chickpea Spaghetti

Sorry I've been a bit silent -- the kids and I are visiting my folks this week, and as usual, we're too busy having fun to mess around on the computer.  Or to crochet, knit, or anything else like that, hee.

But we had this recipe before we left, and I thought I'd better quick post it before asparagus season is totally over...

Asparagus and Chickpea Spaghetti


1 lb spaghetti -- cooked
1 med. onion -- thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic -- minced
1 4oz jar sun dried tomatoes in oil -- reserve oil
1 can chickpeas -- drained and rinsed
1 bunch asparagus -- bias cut 1" long
3/4 cup chicken broth
1 Tbsp. basil
4oz Feta cheese crumbles
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper


Toss onions and asparagus with 2 Tbsp oil from tomatoes, salt, and pepper.  Roast at 350 for 20 minutes, stirring once.  Put remaining oil in a large skillet.  Saute garlic in  oil for 30 seconds.  Add all but Feta and simmer for 2-3 minutes.  Toss with spaghetti and top with Feta.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Santa Fe Rollups

We had so much fun making these!  My 4-year-old and 2-year-old always want to help me cook, and usually they just get to help with prep work because I don't let them near the stove yet.  But this time, they got to help with every step!  I did have to do most of the cheese-sprinkling, though, once I discovered that more cheese was going in their mouths than on the wraps.  We at the leftovers for lunch today, and I realized this would be a great recipe to share, so I quick took a photo before I ate the last little bit.

Santa Fe Rollups


1 16oz can refried beans
1 bag fresh baby spinach
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
8 oz shaved ham
8-10 medium tortillas
sour cream


Spread beans evenly over tortillas (a rubbery spatula works well for this),  Layer with spinach, cheeses, and ham.  Roll tortillas up like a jelly roll.  Chill until ready to serve.  Serve with sour cream and salsa.

Rainy Days Inspire Me

Does rain inspire you?  I write so well when it rains.  I get a lot of cleaning done on rainy days.  I even seem to get more new ideas for craft projects on rainy days than when it's dry.  Take this rainy day, for example:  I've finished a short-short story, folded 2 loads of laundry, and come up with an idea for a new flower pattern.  And it's not even lunchtime yet!

I used to think I got all creative when it rained because I was stuck inside, but I don't think that's it.  Snow doesn't inspire me -- when it snows, I just want to watch the snow fall.  Or curl up with a book and some hot chocolate.  Maybe it's because rain usually cools things down, and I'm much happier cool than hot.  Or maybe my brain makes some sort of subconscious connection between rain replenishing the earth and my brain replenishing itself.  I don't know.  Whatever it is, I love it :-)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Progress Report #2

Week two of my efforts to clear out half of my bedroom is drawing to a close, and check it out!  Thanks to Mom reading a bunch of old Highlights for Children to the kids, I got five boxes unpacked!  I'm donating half a box of magazines to the library, I packed up a whole storage tub with my hubby's things (and freed up some closet space too!), and combined a couple other boxes that are things I'll be putting on shelves once I get shelves.

Yes, shelves.  I decided I need some storage space in here if I'm going to get organized.  After all, "A place for everything, and everything in its place" only works if everything has a place.  With that in mind, Mom and the kids and I went to Ikea yesterday to find me what I need.  But what I found was that Ikea is more expensive than I'd anticipated, and also I never found precisely what I want.  I want something with doors that open to reveal shelves that's about 4 feet high, and then on top of that, some shelves or cubes.  I like the idea of some storage bins to hold odds and ends that I need handy, but not all over the place, and I found several patterns for crocheting them yourself here, which I might try as a fun way to use up some excess yarn.

Anyway, since I couldn't find what I want while we were at Ikea, I'm going to go to Target soon and get a couple of things that you can add together.  I was thinking an organizer like this, with something like this on top of that, and then maybe these on top of the whole thing, all in white if I can manage it.  Let's hope I can find what I want!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Flower Power

I just have to share some of the gorgeous flowers we've discovered on our property!

Hyacinths by the front door.

Lily-of-the-Valley by the front door.

Azalea bush by the driveway.

Lilac bush at the side of the house.

Some unknown trees in the backyard with really pretty pink blossoms and heart-shaped leaves.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Eggs in Peppers

We had these for breakfast this weekend, and they're so fast and tasty!  Simply cut a bell pepper (color of your choice) into 1/2" rings, then put them in a frying pan with whatever you usually fry eggs in, crack an egg in each ring, and fry them up.

I had kind of a small pepper, so my eggs spilled out -- try to find a larger pepper so that doesn't happen to you.  But they were still tasty!  (We got the recipe here on

Did you have a good Easter?  We did!  We had a short egg hunt at home as soon as the kids woke up, ate breakfast with our church family before the service, sang lots of great hymns during church ("I Know that My Redeemer Lives" always makes me tear up), and then went to a relative's house for lunch and supper and lots of fun with our kids' second cousins.  A happy Easter indeed!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Progress Report #1

Well, we've come to the end of the first week of my effort to clean up my bedroom mess and turn it into a creative nook.  I managed to unpack the suitcases and put them away, and fill up a plastic tote with stuff to take to the basement.  I broke down some small boxes I'll be keeping to mail presents to people, and I put away some of the yarn that's been lying about.  Here's how it looks now:

Not a huge improvement, but next week my mom will be here, and I'm hoping that one afternoon she'll be able to play with the kids while I really dig into my mess.

Happy Easter!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Is it a Sprite? Or a Fairy?

So, know that Secret Project I mentioned a couple times, the one inspired by the beautiful green sock yarn from Six Skeins that I won a couple weeks ago?  I'm mostly done with the first part and ready to share a peek!

I was originally thinking this would be a fairy, with outfits that reflect the four seasons.  But wings are puzzling me.  Are there wingless fairies?  Or should I call it a sprite?  She doesn't have hair yet, but I really wanted to share right now cuz I'm so excited to have the body done -- it's my first time designing a doll crochet pattern -- a full-body one, I mean -- and after lots of experimenting, it finally came out satisfactorily.

So, I got the amazing green sock yarn from Six Skeins wound into two small cakes, and I also wound up three sock yarn mini skeins I got from Wullenstudio.  Have to have yarn for the other three seasons, not just green for spring!  Though I think the green will be my starting point for the clothes.  Each outfit will be designed to reflect the season, and come with a hat too.  I already have the basic look for each one figured out (maybe one day I'll sketch out my designs so I don't forget them, but right now, all my pattern ideas are stored in my head), I just need to make them.

(My yarn cakes are a little messy because when I wound them, I had two small helpers who are possessed of more enthusiasm than exactness.  They had lots of fun!)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Asparagus Berry Salad

As promised, here's the recipe for the salad we made last week.  This is a lovely seasonal salad -- we usually eat it warm as soon as it's made, but this time we ate it cold, which is good too.

Asparagus Berry Salad


1 lb asparagus -- trimmed and cut 1"
3 Tbsp olive oil -- divided
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 bag salad greens (about 5 oz)
1 lb strawberries -- quartered
1/4 small onion -- sliced thin
1/2 cup chopped walnuts -- toasted
2 Tbsp cooking sherry
2 tsp. sugar


In a sealable container, toss the asparagus with 1 Tbsp oil.  Spread on a baking sheet, sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Bake at 400 for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  In a large bowl, mix greens, strawberries, onions, walnuts, and asparagus.  In a small bowl, whisk together the sherry, sugar, and remaining oil.  Drizzle over salad and toss to coat.

Sunday, April 1, 2012


There's a mouse in my basement.

Rather like the heroine of Ludwig Bemelman's Madeline (a favorite book around here), I am not afraid of mice, and I love winter, snow, and ice.  So the mouse in my basement isn't causing me to squeal and jump on any available bit of furniture.  But it is bothering me.

Why?  Because of the apartment we rented for six months before we moved here.  It was, to put it delicately, vermin-infested.  We were plagued with mice twice, once for over a month.  This mouse we have in our basement is, according to my husband, a nice, little, brown field mouse, and not one of the ugly, grey, ratlike city mice that we had in our previous apartment.  But all the same, I'm having flashbacks to our miserable existence there, and worried that the mouse in our basement is a precursor of a return to the world of mice, roaches, and misery.

Of course, it isn't.  It's just a mouse.  We'll catch it and be rid of it, and we'll figure out how it got in (we think a neighboring cat chased it in here, as one was sniffing around our deck last night) and plug the hole so other mice don't come here too.  All the same, I'm shuddering at the memory of those six horrible months and praying we'll never have to live anywhere so dreadful again.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

So... it has come to this...

We've owned our house for eight months today, and been living here for about ten days less than that.  And the terrible truth is, I'm still not unpacked.  I have ten boxes left, seven of them in my bedroom.  In fact, half of my bedroom is a complete disaster.  The half with our bed and dressers is okay, but the other half is supposed to be my little creative nook, where I can have my sewing machine, craft supplies, etc.  And that half needs help. See?

Okay, so the point of airing this dirty little secret in public is that I need some oomph to get that room whipped into shape, and I'm hoping public humiliation will do it.  I'm giving myself two months to transform that space into a usable, orderly, creative zone, and I intend to post progress pics here.  If I don't have it done by the end of May, you'll all know about it, which I'm hoping is enough extra incentive to keep me working on it whenever I can.