menu plan monday ~ october 7, 2014

I guess it’s Menu Plan “Tuesday,” this week. I’ve been very busy crafting ornaments and didn’t take time to plan a menu on Monday. Here are a few of my favorite ornaments from the past few days.

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Eve

Stopping by woods on a snowy eve

Peace on Earth

Peace on Earth

O, Come Let Us Adore Him

O, Come Let Us Adore Him!

Have a Beary, Bunny Christmas! …couldn’t stop myself…

Have a beary, bunny Christmas... Sorry...couldn't help myself.

Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve

Snow White and Rose Red were here for the weekend and they made their own Christmas shadow boxes…with a little help from Ma…

They designed their own shadow boxes...picked the card, glittered the boxes, and picked out the embellishments. They are very proud of what they created...with a little help from Ma.

And now back to menu planning…

Monday
Take-out

Tuesday
Baked Pork Steaks
We didn’t eat together…I was crafting, DD was away for the evening, and DH was watching the Cardinals win another game!

Wednesday
Pork Loin Roast in the Crock Pot
With Carrots and Potatoes
Garden Salad

Thursday
Broccoli and Cauliflower Cheese Soup
Fresh Bread, toasted

Friday
Pan Seared Tilapia
Stir Fried Cabbage and Garlic
Sliced Tomatoes

Saturday
Fridge Food

Sunday
Spaghetti with Homemade Sauce
Garden Salad
Garlic Bread

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

~~Rhonda

Christmas card shadow boxes

I’ve had a lot of fun the past few weeks working on little shadow boxes made from Christmas cards. Follow this link to a tutorial for making the boxes. I’ve learned a few things since I posted the tutorial. First a few tips, then a few samples of what I’ve been doing.

I now make the box tabs folded to the top and the bottom of the box, instead of to the sides. And I don’t cut them short most of the time. I think leaving the entire tab makes the box a bit stronger.

The way I do it now, with tabs on top and bottom:

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The way I did it before with tabs on the sides:

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I also am making most of the holes to hold the hanging cord with a punch instead of a pin or an awl. It makes a nice smooth hole.

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The pin method. Works fine.

Christmas card shadow box

My handy dandy awl. Also works well. I don’t remember where I found this tool, but I do love it. Comes in handy for a lot of different uses.

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In the tutorial, I glued the beaded string around the outside of the box.

Christmas card shadow box

After making a couple of dozen boxes, I decided it looks better with the edge of the box covered. My small multi-temp glue gun puts out a small bead of glue without dripping while it rests. Perfect for edging the boxes with trim.

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Chickadees in the snow

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This is one of my favorites. Over the river and through the woods…

Over the river and through the woods...

Good tidings of great joy!

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Christmas Cardinal

Winter cardinal  Christmas card shadow box

Happy snowman

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Sledding snowmen

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Sweet nativity

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Another nativity

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My dear friend Marsha came to visit on Tuesday and we made shadow boxes. I have quite a few card boxes made, and will be embellishing them soon. More to come!

~~Rhonda

menu plan monday ~ september 29, 2014

It’s been a busy week. DD and I made three kinds of truffles and candy acorns for a fall themed wedding. It was fun and I am so grateful for my daughter’s help.

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It did put me in the mood to get started on Christmas goodies for the freezer! It’s that time of year! Before you know it, we’ll be seeing lots of these!

Christmas Open House

The menu for the week is planned as follows.

Monday
Homemade Pizza

sooo good!

Tuesday / company coming! My dear friend Marsha and her husband Paul are coming for the day. MJ and I will be crafting. Pablo will be doing some carpentery work for us. Can’t wait to show you his project!

Chicken Tortellini Soup
Corn Bread

Wampanoag Cornbread

Wednesday
Grilled Pork Steaks
Grilled Potatoes and Carrots
Garden Salad

Thursday
Pan Seared Tilapia
Stir Fried Cabbage and Garlic

Friday
Crock Pot Turkey Tetrazzini
Sliced Tomatoes
Lima Beans
Garlic Bread

turkey tetrazinni

Saturday
Fridge Food

Sunday
Crock Pot Pork Tenderloin
Mashed Potatoes
Steamed Green Beans
Garden Salad

I hope you take time to plan your week’s menu. It saves a lot of anxiety and last minute shopping (which always costs more!), and you’ll feel good knowing you are prepared! More menu and recipe ideas can be found at Menu Plan Monday. Check it out!

~~Rhonda

truffles and acorns

Our middle daughter and I made three kinds of truffles and candy acorns as favors for the wedding of our friend Justin and his bride Dana. The wedding had a fall theme, so the truffles were dipped in orange, yellow and chocolate candy coatings.

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The chocolate covered one with the orange sugar crystals is a buttercream.

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Butter Creams

The yellow one is a Chocolate Cream.

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ready for chocolate coating

The orange one with green sugar crystals is a Pumpkin Cream Cheese Truffle.

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When I made the pumpkin ones, I tripled the recipe and it made about 90 truffles. I used the recipe as it was written, except for substituting graham crackers for the gingersnaps and adding 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger. I didn’t want to buy an entire box of gingersnaps for the little bit needed for the recipe.

The acorns were cute and very easy to make. I used this site as inspiration. Just revised it a bit for something we liked even better.

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The acorn caps are Nutter Butter Bites. We took the mini sandwich cookie apart and just used the cookie part. The caps were placed on the cookie sheet upsidedown. The chocolate Hersheys Kisses were dipped in melted chocolate and then stuck to the mini cookies. When set (just a few minutes), peanut butter chips were attached to the top as a stem, using melted peanut butter chips.

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The truffles were placed in dark brown tulip baking cups and wrapped with an ivory tulle circle, then tied with a dark brown satin ribbon.

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Butter Creams

Ready to take to church…

Butter Creams

Extra acorns were placed in mini cups and set on the tables.

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My thanks to all the people in our church family who worked with love to make Justin and Dana’s wedding something special! I am sure it has made Dana feel warmly welcomed in her new country, by her new church family, and with her new husband! May God bless their life together!

~~Rhonda

cookies for the marching band

Our daughter takes part in the marching band at school. They have a competition coming up and I volunteered to make cookies for the band to take along on their trip. Last year, I got a lot of positive feedback on the Triple Chocolate Cookies I made, so I decided to make them again. I doubled the recipe this time. “Triple Chocoate” because they have cocoa and these ingredients in them:

making cookies

Sure to satisfy hungry teens.

Triple Chocolate Cookies

Fourteen dozen…enough, right? I used a small scoop to keep all the cookies similar in size.

Triple Chocolate Cookies

These cookies pack and travel well. Great for college students to find in their mail or for a package of delicious cookies to share with friends.

A substitution of mint chocolate chips for the mini ones, Christmas colored M&Ms, and an addition of peppermint extract would make this a great cookie for a Christmas cookie exchange.

Top them with some frosting, or a dip or dizzle of chocolate, for a touch of something extra. They move too fast to do that around here, though.

Recipe link: Triple Chocolate Cookies

~~Rhonda

pumpkin scones

While looking for ideas for Menu Plan Monday, I came across a recipe on cincyshopper.com for CopyCat Starbucks Pumpkin Scones. I made a double batch which worked very well. The recipe below is for a single batch of scones. Makes 8-12, depending on how they are cut.

Pumpkin SCones

Pumpkin Scones
Preheat oven to 400°F. Using the blade in a food processor, blend the following dry ingredients.

  • 2 1/2 c. unbleached flour (I used 2 cups of unbleached flour and 1/2 cup of almond flour.)
  • 6 T sugar
  • 1 T baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger

Add the cubed butter to the dry mix and process until the butter is incorporated and the dry mixture has the texture of cornmeal.

  • 1/2 c. (one stick) cold butter, cut into cubes

Add the following wet ingredients and pulse till well blended.

  • 1/2 c. pumpkin puree
  • 3 T heavy cream
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Pumpkin SCones

Pumpkin SCones

Optional: By hand, mix in

  • 1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips, raisins or walnuts.

Pumpkin SCones

The batter will be soft. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or foil. Sprinkle some flour on the parchment paper. Scrape the dough onto the paper. Sprinkle a little flour over the top of the dough to make it easier to handle. Shape into a round, about 3/4 of an inch high.

Pumpkin SCones

Use a knife or pizza cutter (dipped in flour after each cut) to cut the circle into eight to twelve pieces. I cut mine into twelve pieces and it made a nice size.

Pumpkin SCones

Bake for 18 minutes, or until golden brown.

Pumpkin SCones

When done baking, allow to cool and cut the wedges apart. To make the glaze for drizzling over the scones, stir the milk into the powdered sugar until well blended. Include the spices in the second glaze. Top the scones with the plain glaze, allow to set, then drizzle the spiced glaze over the top.

Plain Glaze

  • 1 c. powdered sugar
  • 2 T milk

Spiced Glaze

  • 1 c. powdered sugar
  • 2 T milk
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • Pinch of cloves
  • Pinch of ground ginger

I made a second batch, to use up the leftover canned pumpkin, and added chocolate chips. I didn’t use the plain glaze on those. The spiced glaze was plenty.

Pumpkin scones

Allow the glaze to set before serving with coffee or hot tea.

Pumpkin SCones

The scones are supposed to be a copycat recipe for Starbuck’s pumpkin scones. I can’t speak to that, as I’ve never been to a Starbucks and haven’t tried their scones. If you have, and if you give the recipe a try, maybe you can give some feedback on how they compare.

The scones were very easy to make, didn’t take long to cook, were moist and tasted great. A sweet treat for the autumn months. We served them to guests with coffee and tea. Also had peach cobbler, which was good, too. Thanks, Pedro and Joan, and Jerry and Peggy for sharing the evening with us!

The scones would be good at breakfast or for an afternoon snack. If you like pumpkin, give them a try. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

~~Rhonda

ten influential books

There is a challenge making the rounds on Facebook. One is supposed to list ten influential books. My husband challenged me, after listing his own.

"Wild Animals"

Here’s the list I came up with.

The Holy Bible
Above all.

The Imitation of Christ
by Thomas à Kempis
Still speaks to readers across the centuries.

Pilgrim’s Progress
by John Bunyan
I read this for the first time while in third grade. It was a tremendous reading experience for me.

gold stamp

Mere Christianity
by C. S. Lewis
Wonderful! Enough said.

The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions
edited by Arthur Bennett
Always meaningful and humbling.

To Kill a Mockingbird
by Harper Lee
Awed by this book every time I read it.

Pride and Prejudice
by Jane Austen
A girl needs some romantic reading. Especially some filled with wit. Jane must have been one sharp girl. I am not a romance novel reader. Fluff and nonsense, most of them. But this one is great!

The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings
by J.R.R. Tolkien
I know…technically four books, but they need to be read as a whole

My Antonia
by Willa Cather
I must say this one sticks with me more because of the author’s use of language than for the actual story. It is beautiful and moving.

I, Robot
by Isaac Asimov
My favorite science fiction work. I admit I have many favorite sci-fi books but there’s just something about those robots…

My eleventh book? The Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov.  Influential as far as my love of sci-fi, but really more of a favorite. Do I get to make two lists?

Have you given thought to those books that are most influential in your life? Or ones that are your favorites? I’d love to hear what they are.

~~Rhonda

menu plan monday ~ september 8, 2014

When DD gets home from school, all the kitties come to see her. I can go all day long without seeing any of them until school is out!

When she comes home from school...

Zilli, Buttercup, Zak / Buttercup is DD’s cat. She comes down to the kitchen every day about twenty minutes before school is out and waits for DD to get home. She’s thrown a bit off balance this year, as the school added fifteen minutes to the end of the day.

Here’s our menu for the week. Supper is already in the crock pot.

Monday
Cube Steak / Potatoes / Carrots in the Crock Pot
Garden Salad

We have company coming for dessert this evening, so we’ll be serving:
Peach Cobbler (using peaches we canned last week.)
Vanilla Ice Cream

Tuesday
Pan Seared Tilapia
Corn on the Cob
Steamed Asparagus

Wednesday
Turkey Sandwiches
Carrot / Celery Sticks

Thursday
Chicken Tortellini Soup
Rosemary Crackers

Chicken Tortellini Soup

Friday
Fridge Food

Saturday
Our contribution to a dinner party:
Alton Brown’s Pot Roast

Sunday
Our contribution to a family gathering:
Cowboy Beans

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

~~Rhonda

nativity shadow box

I finished this little shadow box today. The tiny bottle brush tree was one I dyed last year. I added small white beads to it. The small calf and the sheep are ones I brought home from my mother’s collection of little craft items. I painted the sheep to bring it back to white. Looked better with a paint job. Above the star are two items that look like silver pinecones. They are silver rose beads. They came off a broken bracelet and I think they worked well on the shadow box.

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The back of the box is covered with a collage of images I found online. I overlapped them in a Word document and printed it. Then decoupaged it to the back of the box.

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The tutorial for making Christmas card shadow boxes can be found at this link.

~~Rhonda

shadow boxes from Christmas cards

I’ve been spending the past week working on little shadow boxes made from Christmas cards. This is the first one I made.

Shadow box

They are getting better as I work on more of them, learning some hints and helps that make the process easier than it was initially.

Polar bear

To make a shadow box, the following items are needed:

    • Christmas cards (Having a good selection to choose from makes it easier to find one that will work well. The picture has to be small enough to fit the bottom of the box with an inch of space all around it for the sides of the box.
    • backing paper (Scrapbook paper works great.)
    • pencil
    • paper cutter
    • Mod Podge or white glue
    • straight edge
    • embossing pen or other dull point for scoring paper
    • scissors
    • 4 clothespins or other small clamps
    • a safety pin is useful for making small holes to hang an embellishment
    • gold or silver thread (Needed if you want to hang a small ornament or embellishment inside the box.)
    • needle nose tweezers are great for small details, and for plucking hot glue “hairs” off the shadow box
    • optional – a crochet hook with a small hook is handy for pulling threads through small holes
    • gold and/or silver glitter glue (I use Sargent Washable Glitter Glue, available on amazon.com. Gold and silver are compatible with most Christmas cards. I also use blue, red and green, though not as often as gold and silver.)
    • embellishments: small ornaments, beads, mini garlands, bottle brush trees, artificial evergreen, floral picks that can be taken apart, snowflakes, stars, jingle bells, mini deer, strands of small beads, pipecleaners, etc. Anything you can think of that can be used to decorate the box. Keep it small and in proportion to the box. If you do much Christmas crafting, you probably have a lot on hand that you can use.
    • hot glue gun (Handy for adding those embellishments.)
    • silver and/or gold cording to make a hanger
    • You may need needle nose pliers for cutting wire or pipecleaners.

The first thing to do is choose a card to use. The card needs to be large enough that there will be one inch of space all around the picture you want to use. Alternately, if a particular picture is chosen and it’s not large enough for the added one inch edge, a box can be made from poster board and the picture glued inside. Other paper will be needed to line the edges inside the box. Scrapbook paper would work well. Easy to do, but I will post another tutorial for that procedure soon, just in case anyone has any questions.

This is the card I chose for the box I’m making in this tutorial.

Christmas card shadow box

Cut the front from the back of the Christmas card. Remove the entire spine so the picture is left without ridges or folds.

Christmas card shadow box

Choose a paper for the back of the box. This scrapbook paper coordinated well with the card I want to use.

Christmas card shadow box

Cut the paper to fit the card front.

Christmas card shadow box

Apply Mod Podge to the back of the picture.

Christmas card shadow box

Fit the paper to the back of the card, working quickly to slip it to the edges, making it fit the back of the picture. After the backing is adhered to the front, use a straight edge to lightly “squeegee” the papers together. This removes air bubbles and makes a nice flat finish to the back of the box.

Christmas card shadow box

If the edges do not meet exactly, use the paper cutter to trim the edge. It works best if the paper is allowed to dry before trimming. The glue can make the paper soggy and difficult to cut cleanly.

Christmas card shadow box

Use a straightedge to score the paper one inch from the edge of the card, all the way around. I have a very handy ruler for this, which is one inch wide, making the process very easy. Also, the stylus I am using is a handy scoring tool. It has a pen on one end and a scoring point on the other. Something DH brought home one day. Perfect!

Christmas card shadow box

Christmas card shadow box

Cut along the scoring line to the point where it meets the other scoring line.

Christmas card shadow box

Cut all four corners, then fold along the scoring lines so the picture will be inside the box.

Christmas card shadow box

Cut each corner tab in half.

Edit: After making quite a few boxes, I decided that not cutting the tabs in half was a better idea, making stronger corners.

Christmas card shadow box

Apply glue to the outside of the box and the inside of the tab.

Christmas card shadow box

Use clothespins to clamp the sides together until bonded. Open and replace the clothespins a few times to be sure they are not sticking to the paper.

Edit: When leaving the tabs whole, I use two clothespins on each corner.

Christmas card shadow box

When the glue is dried enough to hold the box together, remove the clothespins.

Christmas card shadow box

As you can see in this picture, this particular card had some glitter on the picture. It was brushed over the snow.

Christmas card shadow box

I like to add glitter to the pictures, so I chose silver for this one. The irridescent glitter that came with the card will show through the silver. Squirt some into the box and brush it over the surface.

Christmas card shadow box

Here you see the inside coated with silver glitter glue.

Christmas card shadow box

Wait until the first side is dry before covering the back with glitter glue. Otherwise the box may warp.

Christmas card shadow box

When the box is dry, consider what kinds of embellishments will be added. I decided to put some icicles in this box.

Christmas card shadow boxes

The long one was too long, so I broke it in half and used the bottom part.

Christmas card shadow boxes

I also glued some snowflakes to the picture.

Christmas card shadow box

Christmas card shadow box

To hang an ornament or embellishment in the box, string it onto a thread, and add beads if you like. The needle nose tweezers are very handy for these kinds of jobs with tiny pieces. I added five beads because the box is tall and I wanted the snowflake to hang lower than it would have with only one bead.

Christmas card shadow box

I used a safety pin to punch a hole in the top of the box, making sure the ornament would not hit the side. Using a small crochet hook, I pulled the thread through the hole, chose how far I wanted the snowflake to hang, then used a bit of hot glue to adhere the thread to the top of the box.

Christmas card shadow box

I chose a bottle brush tree for the box, added a red berry to the top, and painted the tree with white paint to mimic the trees in the picture.

Christmas card shadow box

Christmas card shadow box

The box needed a bit more embellishment, so I took this little ornament apart and used pieces of it. The ornament was one of several in a sack of ornaments that my sister bought for ten cents at a thrift store.

Christmas card shadow box

I used two pieces of the evergreen from the ornament and the pinecone, glued them to the top of the box, and added some red berries and a snowflake.

Christmas card shadow box

Christmas card shadow box

I cut another piece of evergreen from the ornament into two pieces and glued them around the base of the bottle brush tree, then added a couple of snowflakes to the evergreen.

Christmas card shadow box

I felt the box needed just a bit more bling, so I glued a strand of silver beads around the edge.

Christmas card shadow box

 

Edit: After making a couple of dozen boxes, I decided they look better with the raw edge of the box covered.  Beads can be harder to adhere, but it’s certainly doable. Other edgings include pipecleaners, wireless chenille, yarn, cording, tinsel garland, etc.

Now it just needs a hanger of some sort. I decided to use a thin silver pipecleaner. I used the safety pin to make a hole, then inserted the pipecleaner. Using the needle nose pliers, I twisted the first end to hold it in place.

Christmas card shadow box

Christmas card shadow box

After cutting the pipe cleaner to the length I wanted, I used the needle nose pliers to twist the end so it wouldn’t go back through the hole.

Christmas card shadow box

Ready to hang for Christmas, on a tree or from a shelf.

Christmas card shadow box

I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial. If you have any questions, just ask!

~~Rhonda