menu plan monday ~ august 18, 2014

The autumn flowers are beginning to bloom. The Sunday bouquet included the flowers of the ‘Royal Standard’ hosta, ‘Autumn Joy’ sedum, and Sweet Autumn Clematis.

Sunday bouquet

I like a white and green bouquet. Here is one I made in 2010, which included hydrangea heads and Sweet Autumn Clematis.

hydrangeas and sweet autumn clematis

All of our hydranageas but one died back to the ground after last winter’s lower than usual temps. We were afraid they had died completely, but they finally came back. They had no hydrangea blooms this year, as they are “mopheads” that bloom on year old wood. Barring another miserably cold winter, we should have blooms next summer.

The only hydrangea that bloomed this year was ‘Quick Fire.’ It bloomed because it is one that blooms on new wood. I would like to get others that bloom on new wood. I really missed my hydrangea blossoms this summer.

Hydrangea 'Quick Fire'

I got side-tracked thinking about my hydrangeas…this is supposed to be a menu post. Here’s the plan for this week. Temps are supposed to be in the 90s, so I’m trying to stay away from the oven, with the exception of Sunday.

Meatless Monday
Portobello Burgers
Corn on the Cob
Sauted Asparagus with Garlic

Tuesday
Pan Seared Tilapia with Tomato/Lime Salsa
Lima Beans
Corn on the Cob

Wednesday
Hamburgers on Tangy Buttermilk Cheese Buns

burger

Sliced Tomatoes
Garden Salad

Thursday
Chicken Salad on Homemade Buns

Friday
Soy-Marinated Beef Skewers
Brown Rice
Sauteed Summer Squash, Zucchini and Cherry Tomatoes

Saturday
Fridge Food

Sunday
Garlic-Lemon Double Stuffed Chicken
Spinach Arugula Salad
Roasted Asparagus
Tomato Wedges

You can find more menu and recipe ideas at Menu Plan Monday.

~~Rhonda

cookie cutter ornaments

A few years ago, I made these cookie cutter ornaments for the Christmas Notebook ornament exchange.

cookie cutter ornament

They were pretty easy to make. I found a cookie cutter collection at Wal-Mart that had twenty cookie cutters for only $5.

What you’ll need:

  • Metal cookie cutters
  • Mod Podge decoupage medium
  • Scissors
  • Background paper
  • Paint brush
  • X-Acto knife
  • Clothespins or clamps
  • Trim for the outside of the ornament
  • String or fishing line to hang the ornaments


To begin, I prepared the picture background. I explained how I made it in this Decoupaged Ornaments Tutorial. For the decoupage ornaments, I printed pictures on regular copy/print paper. For the cookie cutter ornaments, I used photo paper, though printer paper in a heavier weight than copy paper would work.

To begin the ornament, place the cookie cutter on the picture, choosing the pictures you want to show. Using Mod Podge, glue inside the cookie cutter, all around the edge, then paint the Mod Podge over the pictures to seal them.

paint modge podge over the picture

glue the inside of the ornament to the paper

cookie cutter ornament

making ornaments

After allowing the glue to dry, cut around the ornament.

cut around the ornament

Use an X-Acto knife to cut away all the paper outside the ornament.

trim when glue has dried

I used tinsel pipecleaners to put a decorative edge around the outside of the cookie cutter. Clothespins make great clamps to hold the tinsel in place until the glue is dry.

clothespins make good clamps

They turned out very well. Of course, this same technique can be used for a single picture in each ornament. Maybe pictures of your kids’ childhood Christmas pictures. Or copies of vintage family pictures. Or pictures of your favorite Christmas cookies!

Scrapbooking papers can be used instead of pictures for a less personal look. They would be pretty tied to packages or given as gifts. You could even use Christmas fabric. How about Christmas carol sheet music inside a bell shaped cookie cutter? Or recycle Christmas cards by using your favorites as the picture backings.

cookie cutter ornament

I’ve also seen cookie cutters like this filled with fudge to give as gifts at during the holidays. Very cute presentation! Cookie Cutter Fudge at Betty Crocker

And here’s another recipe with pictures. Cookie Cutter Fudge at Chocolate Moosey

~~Rhonda

menu plan monday ~ august 11, 2014

Last week was our presbytery’s youth camp. DH is the director, so was busy with camp all week. He came home on Friday, tired but happy with camp. Great staff, great campers, and a great place to have camp. They added a climbing wall this year which the campers really enjoyed.

climbing wall

The surprise lilies are blooming all over the yard. They made a nice bouquet for the pulpit table on Sunday

Sunday bouquet

Down to business…here’s the menu for this week.

Monday
Leftovers:
Baked Ziti
Chopped Salad
Rosemary Bread

I should add that the above chopped salad was delicious. I did substitute gargonzola for the mozarella cheese. And I added a teaspoon more sugar to the dressing. We will definately have this again. The salad is chock full of goodies, so it was plenty to serve with the ziti and some bread. No need for additional dishes. The rosemary bread went very well with the ziti and the salad.

Tuesday
Smoked Pork Shank and Beans
Cornbread
Cucumber and Tomato Salad

Wednesday
Chicken Salad Sandwiches
Carrot / Celery Sticks

Thursday
BBQ Pork Steaks
Crispy Roasted Potatoes
Sliced Tomatoes
Sweet and Sour Cucumbers

Friday
Mongolian Beef with Broccoli
Rice

Saturday
Fridge Food

Sunday
Cheesy Baked Shells with Broccoli and Carrots
Garlic Bread
Garden Salad

You can find more menu and recipe ideas at Menu Plan Monday.

~~Rhonda

the putz tree

Those who know me well, know that we put up more than twenty Christmas trees to celebrate the holiday season. A new one for us this past Christmas was the putz tree in our bedroom. Putz houses, also known as little glitter houses, were popular from the 1920s through the 1950s. There were small cardboard houses prior to that, but they were usually candy boxes. With the advent of light strings available to the general public so the houses could be lit, the little houses became the Christmas villages that were so popular during the first half of the twentieth century. You can read more about their history at the website Cardboard Christmas.

I enjoy crafting these little houses and have wanted for a long time to display them on a tree. Last Christmas, I got my chance.

white Christmas tree

My sister Genny, who is a great thrift shopper, found the like-new white tree for $12.00, and it is the perfect tree for displaying the little glitter houses that I’ve made. The only problem the tree had was a broken stand, so DH built a box to hold it up. We covered the box with a white cloth, and then with sheer pale blue tulle that is printed with snowflakes. A little bending of tree branches made enough space between the branches to highlight the houses.

Putz Tree

We used pale blue ornament balls, light blue beads and little acrylic snowflakes to decorate the tree. Setting up the little neighborhoods was fun. We put a piece of white poster board under each set of houses, placed the houses and then covered the board with batting. That provided a base that made arranging the houses a bit easier.

little glitter house

The acrylic snowflake is visible in the picture below, between the tree and the house. I found bags of approximately 35 snowflakes. The little snowflakes are about an inch tall. They are intended to be used as table decorations at weddings, so did not have holes for hanging. DH and our friend Paul used a tiny drill bit and drilled holes in all the snowflakes…about 70 of them! We put fishing line through them and hung them on the tree. If you plan to drill through acrylic, be aware that when the drill bit gets hot, it will melt the plastic…take a break now and then!

little glitter house

The deer were also glued to little pieces of poster board, which made it possible for them to remain standing. The little bottle brush trees did not want to stay upright, so we hung them from the above branches with long ornament hooks. Most of them stood up better than this one did.

little glitter house

The little bottle brush trees were some ivory colored ones that I decided to try to dye. I put the trees in a pint of water with about a 1/4 cup of vinegar and added food coloring. I let them soak for about 20 minutes. It worked out better than I thought it would.

bottle brush trees

bottle brush trees

They faded a little as they dried, but not by much. The pale colors were just right for the display in the white tree. The ones on the right, below, were dyed with purple food color. It didn’t take quite as well as the other colors did. They looked rather brown after they dried.

bottle brush trees

The tree turned out to be a new favorite. Maybe I’ll add more houses to it this year.

Putz tree

~~Rhonda

menu plan monday ~ august 4, 2014

Time is ticking along. The past few weeks flew by and I am having a hard time remembering what the current day is. This week I am working on a yearbook for our presbytery’s summer youth camp. That takes a lot of time, so the menu is very simple this week. Several sandwich meals and a few other easy meals…won’t take a lot of time to prepare.

Monday
Roast Beef Sandwich on a Homemade Bun
Seedless Grapes

Tuesday
Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup
DH made it Sunday while I was suffering from a bad cold and sinus headaches. Chicken soup sounded (and was!) very good. Leftovers, here we come.

Wednesday
Carry Out Pizza

Thursday
Chicken Salad Sandwiches

chicken salad sandwich

Friday
Smoked Ham Shank and Beans
Cornbread
Green Salad

Wampanoag Cornbread

Saturday
Fridge Food

Sunday
Julie’s Ziti
Green Salad
Rosemary Bread

fake baked ziti

You can find more menu and recipe ideas at Menu Plan Monday.

~~Rhonda

“i spy” tree

In 2005, I was perusing the book Mary Engelbreit’s Christmas Companion and saw a picture on page 68 of a little tree that the author called a “collage tree.” I knew right then that I was going to make one. The hardest part of this project is assembling the bits and pieces to cover the tree. It takes longer than you would imagine it might. And it takes more pieces than you dream it will!

My tree is taller and skinnier that Mary’s was, but it’s just as cute and has been the source of many compliments over the years. I call mine an “I Spy” tree. Everyone is captivated by it!

I Spy Tree

My tree is a styrofoam tree, originally spraypainted gold (now silver), and glued to a lazy Susan base so it turns easily.

Even Cedar finds it interesting!

Cedar checks out the "I Spy" tree

I collected items from toy boxes, junk drawers, sewing supplies, my craft room, the tool drawer, desk drawers, kitchen drawers, etc. Any small gluable item was fair game. I also hit the Dollar General store where I could buy bags of small plastic animals for $1.00. I purchased a bag of farm animals and a bag of animals from the ocean. Those added a lot to the I Spy tree. Do you spy the horse?

I SPY...an acorn...

And the starfish? (Not to mention the macaroni…?)

"I Spy" tree

A hot glue gun worked fine for attaching the items to the styrofoam base, though it might work even better to first cover the styrofoam with burlap or fabric. Whether you cover the styrofoam or not, do spray paint the base tree before you glue items to it. After the tree is full, there will be a lot of little nooks and crannies than can be hard to cover with spray paint.

I SPY...a button...

I spy a pump! And a toothbrush!

I SPY...a shark...

Because my tree was going to serve as a Christmas tree, I added small round ornaments and a string of tiny plastic Christmas lights I found in the miniature tree aisle at Hobby Lobby.

I SPY...a rooster...

I SPY...a bird house...

And a star to the top.

top of the tree - back

I added a wooden block with the initial of our last name.

I SPY...a lobster...

After everything was glued to the tree base, I spray painted the tree. Making it all one color makes the “spying” a little harder for the little ones which makes the game more fun. And it also unifies the tree so it isn’t a crazy quilt of color. It becomes pretty enough to grace a side table, a child’s desk or some other special spot in your home.

I made the tree for my daughter when she was seven years old. She loved it then and our granddaughters love it now. They will be seven this fall.

I Spy tree

We take turns spying objects for the others to find. They will play this game for 30 minutes or more at a time, even though they know where many of the objects are. It seems they always find something new.

image

image

My sister Genny took the idea to work with her. She is the parts manager at a car dealership. She collected odd bits and pieces of small car parts and made her own themed tree. It is displayed in the parts department each Christmas and gets a lot of attention from both customers and parts crew. I like the way her tree sits up on something (not sure what it is…). Mine sits right on the lazy Susan. I may have to change that. Maybe I’ll use a flowerpot…

I Spy tree

If you want to make one of these for Christmas, start your collection of little items now. It can take a while to find enough to cover the tree, depending on the size of your tree. A lot of different themes could be used…a baby tree, a kitchen tree, a craft room tree, a sports tree, a fishing tree, etc. If you make one, I would love to see a picture!

~~Rhonda

twin time

The grands have been here quite a bit lately. When their Great-Ma passed away, they and their daddy stayed here for four days. Our son from Seattle was here, as well, and our daughter who spends her summers in New York came home for the funeral. Our youngest daughter still lives at home and the middle daughter lives nearby, so she was also home. It was a sad occasion, but it was also nice to have all our children under one roof for a few nights.

The twins went home Wednesday, then came back Sunday afternoon and stayed until Tuesday. We had a lot of fun. It was nice to relax after the somewhat stressful time the week before.

They played with the cats…

image

And played on the bed…

image

They filled the birdbath with the hose. Anytime you can use the garden hose is a good time. Snow White said, “The birds need a drink.” And Rose Red replied, “And a bath.”

image

They caught fireflies after roasting marshmallows. Rose Red is the firefly whisperer. She comes back to the jar with two or three at a time. Snow White has a harder time of it, but she catches her fair share. And they are careful to follow the house rule. You may keep fireflies in the jar overnight, but they must be released the next morning.

image

They colored this picture together, then Snow White presented Rose Red with a trophy they made from paper and tape for “Best in Show.” Never mind that it was the only picture in the show. And that they colored it together.

image

Snow White took a selfie with my phone and admired the hole her first loose tooth left. She was very excited to find that her straw fit right in that hole. She exclaimed, “Wow! I can get a drink and don’t even have to open my teeth!”

image

Being a grandparent is great. Their visits are joyful highlights, unencumbered by the little stresses of day to day life. We thank God for blessing our family with the twins and their big sister.

twins

~~Ma

chalkboard Christmas tree #2

One Christmas project I failed to post about when it was finished last season was our chalkboard Christmas tree. You may remember that we made our first chalkboard tree in 2012. It was a Scandanavian style tree, using the one pictured on the blog A Legg Up as a guide. That blogger found the tree on a decor website. Her inspiration was a wall hanging with the tree printed on fabric. It is no longer available on that site.

This was our finished project. My sister Genny did the drawing. I made patterns and “gave advice.” Right, Genny?

Finished.

After some deliberation, I decided we would attempt the Twelve Days of Christmas for our 2013 chalkboard tree. I googled the theme and clicked IMAGES for inspiration. I chose the ones I liked and adapted patterns from them to fit the size that needed to be filled.

12 days of Christmas

Genny divided the tree into twelve spaces. I chalked the back of each pattern with white chalk and Genny traced over the pattern to transfer it onto the chalkboard. Then she began the task of filling in the color. Using colored chalk was fun. It made a great contrast to the white chalk tree we had the year before.

12 days of Christmas

In progress.

12 days of Christmas

I can’t remember now, but for some reason we didn’t like the first rendition of the Two Turtle Doves. As you can see in this picture, we changed them a bit. They do show up better second time around. The design of the Five Golden Rings was changed, also. Much better in the second version.

12 Days of Christmas

Almost done. Genny added twinkling stars to give some fill to the background.

12 Days of Christmas

We also decided to change the color of the branches. The light orange in the previous picture didn’t seem right to me. The green was better. Genny added a bow to the top, holly to the ends of the branches and a quote over all. Two kitties were perfect under the tree. That’s Zak on the left and Cedar on the right.

12 Days of Christmas

And, yes, when we count how many trees we put up for Christmas, we count this one, too. It takes more time to “decorate” than some of our other large trees do!

This year, I am considering a Chrismon Tree as our chalkboard tree. Of course, there’s still time to change my mind…

~~Rhonda

If you would like to peruse other Christmas ideas, check out this blog and the links at the end of the post. Just click on the picture below to visit Christmas in July.

Keeping the Christmas Spirit Alive 365

menu plan monday ~ july 28, 2014

We’re looking at a pretty quiet week, which is nice. The past few have been very busy. The twins are staying overnight with us while their daddy is at work and their mama is in Iowa with her job. It’s always fun to have the girls here. I am sure that once they get into their school schedule in a few weeks, we will be seeing less of them than we have this summer.

twins

The daylilies are nearing the end of their season. There are some late varieties blooming beautifully, though. This is ‘Regency Heights.’ It has done very well this year. This picture was taken a few days ago and it is still loaded with buds.

'Regency Heights'

The surprise / resurrection lilies are in full swing. So pretty this time of year! I have some that were here when we bought the house and some that I planted in the fenced garden that came from my grandmother’s house. Love those! I used the lilies to make a bouquet for a friend who wanted flowers to take to a funeral visitation. The bouquet has resurrection lilies, purple coneflowers, and hydrangeas.

bouquet for Eliot

The menu for this week is as follows.

Monday
Cheese Burgers on Homemade Buns
Garden Tomatoes
Garden Salad

Tuesday
Chicken Taco Soup

Wednesday
Grilled Pork Steaks
Grilled Carrots and Potatoes
Grilled Corn on the Cob

Thursday
Ham or Turkey Sandwiches
Leftover Grilled Veggies

Friday
Spaghetti
Quick and Easy Homemade Sauce
Garlic Bread with Cheese
Garden Salad

Saturday
Fridge Food

Sunday
Roast Chicken
Garden Salad
Corn on the Cob
Steamed Green Beans

You can find more menu and recipe ideas at Menu Plan Monday.

~~Rhonda

a lifetime of love

Last week, just a few days before her 97th birthday, my mother-in-law was called home to Heaven. She will be missed by her family, friends, church and community.

Beulah

Beulah was born in Kansas in 1917 where she lived on the family farm with her parents and three brothers.

Beulah and her brother Glenn

In 1948, she married Kenneth and moved to his family farm in Illinois.

wedding picture

They raised four children, the youngest of whom is my husband.

Kenneth and Beulah and family

Beulah was a farm wife, worked hard all her life, was always ready to help others, and worked for eighteen years at the community hospital. She was a faithful member of her church, taught Sunday School, led youth group, and served her church family in any way her help was needed. In 1998 Kenny and Beulah celebrated fifty years of marriage. Kenny passed away in 2003.

50th wedding anniversary

They were an exemplary Christian couple, beloved parents, and wonderful grand- and great-grandparents. Our children, nieces and nephews were blessed to have such grandparents.

DD and G'ma

About 65 people gathered in our home after the funeral for lunch, sharing memories, passing around photographs, enjoying being together as family and friends. Beulah would have loved it.

I want to thank everyone who offered help over the past week, sent condolences and cards, showed us love and care. We appreciate it SO much. You lightened our burden, shared our grief, and rejoiced with us in Beulah’s home-going. It means the world to us.

~~Rhonda