menu plan monday ~ september 1, 2014

I know. I know. It’s really September 4, but with Labor Day, then DH having Wednesday off, menu planning was waylaid. I’ve been working on some craft projects, too. And I have to confess, that is more fun than taking time to write a post. True confessions…crafting is lots of fun…

I am using some of the many Christmas cards I’ve been gifted with (thanks to all who have given me their old cards!) to make ornaments. I have made decoupage ones that use the pictures from the cards.

Christmas card ornaments

Front

Christmas card ornaments

Back

Christmas card ornaments

And I am now working on ornaments that use the card to make a small shadow box.

Shadow box

Those are getting better the more I make, as I work out techniques that make the process easier. I will post a tutorial soon.

Now the menu:

Monday
Leftover Chicken and Dumplings

Tuesday
Bacon, Tomato andLettuce Sandwich

Wednesday
Cheeseburger on Homemade Buns

Thursday
Pork Chops in the Crockpot over
Potatoes and Carrots
Green Salad

Friday
Homemade Pizza

Saturday
Spicy Shredded Pork
I follow the pork recipe’s ingredient list, but I don’t blend them. I put the roast in the crock pot and throw everything in on top. I know it’s not the same as roasting it, so it’s different than the meat the original recipe would produce, but it’s still delicious! And easier.
Tangy Buttermilk Cheese Bread
Coleslaw

Sunday
Crock Pot Turkey
Brown Rice
Garden Salad
Corn on the Cob
Steamed Sugar Snap Peas

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

~~Rhonda

fig jam

Last year, my daughter-in-law brought me some figs from the store where she works. We are far enough out in the boonies that I have never seen fresh figs for sale in any grocery store in the area. Sad, isn’t it?

This year, I asked her to get figs for me again. They were on sale, so I was able to afford enough to make some jam, as I did last year. It’s so delicous!

fig jam

Here is the link to the recipe I used from pickyourown.org. The site has step by step instructions, making it easy to try any new jam or jelly recipe you’d like.

I had ten pints of figs (minus a few that we ate) and that made enough jam to fill fourteen eight ounce jars, plus another quart of jam that I put in the fridge for immediate use. It will keep for at least three weeks in the fridge.

fig jam

I quartered the figs because I like big chunks of fruit in my jam. If you want smaller chunks, dice them into small pieces.

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I love to make jelly and jam. It’s so easy to do, tastes so good, and the whole process is fulfilling in some way. Maybe it’s the year to year cycle or the repetition of the process…not sure…but I do enjoy it.

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Ready to wipe the rims and fit the lids.

fig jam

Ping, ping…ping!

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Oh, yum!

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If you have an overflow of fruit, check out the web site pickyourown.org. They make the process of pickling, freezing and canning easy!

Saturday, we’ll be canning sliced peaches and spiced peach jam. The peaches are a bit under-ripe, so they are spread out on the dining room table in a single layer to prevent bruising while they ripen for a few days.

peaches

~~Rhonda

menu plan monday ~ august 25, 2014

The garden blooms are beginning to decline, though there are still blossoms to be had. This week’s Sunday bouquet used Black Eyed Susans, ‘Becky’ daisies, and ‘Autumn Joy’ sedum (still in the green stage).

Sunday bouquet

We enjoyed getting together with some of DH’s high school friends. Two were in the area from the west coast, so DH called a few others who are local and they came over for dessert and coffee Sunday afternoon. Lots of laughs and stories. The yearbooks were combed over, and other friends and classmates were brought to mind. It was a reminder that some people remain a part of our lives, whether we see them every day or not.

high school friends

Monday
Pan Seared Tilapia
Baby Baked Potatoes
Sauteed Asparagus

baby baked potatoes

Tuesday
Crock Pot Rotisserie-style Chicken
Stirfried Veggies
Sliced Tomatoes

crock pot rotisserie-style chicken

Wednesday
Oven Baked Pork Steaks
Steamed Green Beans
Green Salad

Thursday
Chicken and Spinach Quesadillas with Avocado Sour Cream

chicken quesadillas

Friday
Chicken and Homemade Noodles

done! and so yummy!

Saturday
Fridge Food

Sunday
Crock Pot Turkey
Dressing
Corn on the Cob
Stir Fried Sugar Snap Peas

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

~~Rhonda

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.

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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…

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And played on the bed…

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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!”

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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