Saturday, December 31, 2011

You say goodbye, I say hello

The new year--most people get kinda nutty about starting another year--to them, it's a time of resolutions, a time to reflect on the past year and make goals for the new. I do wonder how many folks actually keep those resolutions--I know I never do. I stopped making those silly lists a long time ago, but for this next year I do have one goal for the year:

Step out of my comfy box and just go for it.

Step completely out of it in all areas of my life and believe in myself.

Yeah. That's it.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Recycle, Upcycle, Don't throw it away

So I have a lot of 'junk' downstairs--stuff I'm saving because I'm sure I can make something with it, whether it's empty chip bags or that cute cardboard box I just know I can turn into a journal, it all has a purpose beyond going into the landfill.

I think most people think of the 3 'Rs' as Recycle, Reduce, Reuse, or possibly even forget about the other two 'Rs'.  Reduce is actually the first 'R' followed by Reuse and then Recycle, so really, we ought to reduce first, then if that isn't possible, reuse the item and finally recycle. It's pretty amazing how much is thrown away that can be turned into something useful. I'm all for recycled crafts, but that will eventually get thrown out, so I think it's better to upcycle an item into something useful.

Christmas is a good time for this, as reusing things like junk mail for gift tags (have you seen the cool patters on the inside of the envelopes your bills come in?) is pretty hot. I don't think this is a fad that's going to die out anytime soon, although it took something like 30 years to catch on in the mainstream!

I have a few projects in the works and will post pictures when they are finished.

What's in your recycle bin that you can give a new life?  Look with a fresh eye and you might be surprised!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Grabbing Hands Grab All They Can

So Thanksgiving is over, barely noticed by any retailers. It seems the holiday in which you're to give thanks for what God has given you has been eclipsed by the holiday in which you scoop up all that you can at cheap prices, pepper spray in hand.

While I love Christmas and what it stands for, the holiday seen around town, in magazines and on television has little to do with Christ being born. It's all about stuff--stuff for  your kids, your friends, your dog, all grabbed with both hands, and nobody better get in your way.

Kind of ironic, isn't it?

Anyway, we put up the tree this afternoon. While it's still a beautiful 6 ft (7?) fiber optic tree (no strings of lights for us, pls), the decorations are purely Charlie Brown. I don't think I've bought Christmas decorations since we lived in Bakersfield. In 2003. Heh.

So, that is something I need to pick up sometime. I always want to hit the stores after Christmas to pick up decorations on sale. Maybe this time I'll actually get over there.


Monday, October 24, 2011

Busy (yummy) Monday

 I've been wanting to make some more Ginger Carrots and try Saurkraut, so that's what I did this morning using recipes from Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon. I'm really curious about the saurkraut, because unlike the usual recipes, this one doesn't call for vinegar. The only ingredients are cabbage, caraway seeds, sea salt and whey (or more salt, if you have no whey).  After shredding the cabbage and adding the other ingredients, you pound the veggies with a wooden pounder or meat hammer to release the juices. Then place cabbage in a mason jar and push down with a wooden spoon until the juices cover the top of the veggies. The you put the lid on tight and let the jar sit on the counter at room temp for 3 days before moving to the fridge.

That reminds me of the way my great grandma used to make dill pickles. According to her daughter, my grandma, Grandma Rose would fill mason jars with cucumbers, pour the vinegar mixture over it, leave the lids on loosely and let them sit outside on the porch. The jars would foam and ferment, and then they were put away to be eaten later. Maybe I should try that. The last time I made dill pickles, I had to throw them out, and I even used an envelope mix from the store!

(makes1 quart)
1 medium cabbage, cored and shredded
1 Tbl caraway seeds
1 Tbl sea salt
4 Tbl whey (if not available, use and additional 1 Tbl salt)

In a bowl, mix cabbage with caraway seeds, salt adn whey. Pound with a wooden pounder or meat hammer for about 10 minutes to release juices. Place in a quart-sized, wide-mouth Mason jar and press down firmly with the pounder or hammer until juices come to the top of the cabbage. The top of the cabbage should be at least 1 inch below the top of the jar. Cover tightly and keep at room temperature for about 3 days before transferring to cold storage. The sauerkraut may be eaten immediately, but improves with age.

Next I had some veg pulp left over from juicing on Saturday: carrot, pomegranate, celery, chard, ginger, lemon, cucumber and apple. I'd saved it, hoping to find a use, and guess what: I did.

Using a recipe I found on, I made my own adjustments to it, and they turned out pretty good, I think.

Carrot Apple Muffins

1 1/4 C whole wheat flour
1/2 C sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 C grated carrots (or veg pulp)
1/2 C unsweetened applesauce
2 large eggs, beaten
1/4 C milk (I used a bit more)
1/4 C canola or safflower oil organic extra virgin coconut oil, melted, or olive oil
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350. In large bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl combine the rest of the ingredients. Add half the carrot mixture to the flour mixture, stir until blended and then add the rest. Spoon batter into muffin cups and bake about 20 minutes or until toothpick in center comes out clean.

 Levi and  also made peanut butter cookies--a  flour-free four ingredient treat that tastes pretty good, if you like peanut butter. 

Quick Peanut Butter Cookies

1 C natural peanut butter (the kind that contains peanuts and salt, nothing else)
1 C sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 egg

Preheat oven to 350. Mix ingredients and roll into walnut sized balls. Bake 8-10 minutes on ungreased cookie sheet. Cool 2 min before removing from pan.
Source: Kitchen Traditions: The Lions Clubs Cookbook (c) 1994

I'm also soaking some pinto beans to make fermented bean paste (kinda icky name, but tastes sooo good!). I've made them twice before, with white beans and black, but not pintos, so I'm eager to taste the difference, if any.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Make Bread in a Pullman bread pan

The Pullman pan is a lidded bread pan that results in a loaf close to storebought bread, both in texture and shape. The crust is thin, unlike most homemade breads, and the directions to the pan say to let the bread cool wrapped in a towel for a soft crust. So far that hasn't worked, but the interior of the bread has a nice soft crumb and it can be cut thin enough or sandwiches that don't fall apart.

I've some fails in the past using this pan, which I purchased from King Arthur Bread Company a number of years ago. Today, though, I succeeded! Yay!

You can use any bread recipe that uses 4-5 cups of flour. I generally use  the Amish White Bread recipe, or more correctly, my version of  it. Heh.

*dissolve 1 Tbl yeast (1 packet) in 2 cups warm water in large bowl. Add 1/3 cup sugar.
*when foamy, add 3 Tbl butter or oil, 3 tsp salt (or less) and stir.

*Add two cups of flour (white or whole wheat) and stir.
*Keep adding flour, one cup at a time, unil dough pulls away from the side of the bowl.
*Turn out onto floured surface and knead, adding flour as needed until dough is no longer sticky.
*Knead until dough feels 'right'. (springy, firm, not too soft.)

*Cover with a cloth and let rise until doubled in size.
*punch down and form into loaf to fit pan.
*Grease the pan, making sure all surfaces are covered, including the lid.
*Place dough in pan and close lid, leaving1 inch open.
*Let rise until dough is nearly to the top of the pan (dont forget like I always do, or you'll have to squish it back inside the pan and then your loaf will be uneven)
*close pan and place in preheated (350*) oven and bake for about 25 minutes.
*pull back lid (be careful!) and check. If the loaf seems well cooked except for the top, remove the lid and bake for a further 5-10 minutes. (Be sure to keep an eye on it!)
*Turn out and cool on rack. Wrap in kitchen towel if you like.

DIY Cinnamon Scented Pine Cones

Nothing says Autumn more than cinnamon and spice, and what better way to project that than with cinnamon pine cones? (we'll just ignore the fact that it's 80 degrees today; it's October, that's what counts.)  While searching the internet for a way to make the pine cones, I came across two main recipes: the first, no doubt the longest lasting, takes 8 weeks and uses cinnamon oil rather than powder. The second, which I'm sharing here, is the quick version. Since I have an abundance of pine cones in my yard, my only expense was pickling spice, which I picked up at Meijer  for around $3.49. I already had plenty of ground cinnamon, cloves and spray adhesive. So if you have to purchase any of those items, the cost will be a bit more.

Cinnamon Pine Cones

*assorted pine cones, about 8-10 per batch, deciding on the size. Mine were the long, skinny type.
*1/4 cup pickling spice
*1/4 cup ground cinnamon
*1/4cup whole cloves or 1/8cup ground cloves
*spray adhesive
*trash bag

1. mix spices together
2. put the pine cones in the bottom of the trash bag in a single layer.
3. Spray the adhesive directly on the pine cones, taking care not to breathe in the fumes. Quickly close the bag with your ands and shake vigorously to turn the cones over.
4. Open the bag, allowing pine cones to settle into a single layer again, and respray with the glue.
5. Empty the spices over the pine cones, close bag and shake again to distribute.
6. Dump the pine cones out onto newspaper and allow to dry.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Flax Snacks

A quick little recipe for some yummy and healthy no-cook snacks!

Flax Snacks

3/4 cup ground flaxseeds (buy whole, grind yourself in a coffee grinder)
3 Tbl whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbl Cocoa
2 Tbl peanut butter
1/4 cup honey

Combine first four ingredients:

Add peanut butter and honey (mix with your hands) and form into balls.
Store in the refrigerator.

You could also add coconut or even chopped nuts and roll in cocoa.

Saturday, October 8, 2011


I love Fall. I think it's my favorite season of all. Although I do love Spring when tiny green shoots break through the dull ground and Summer with its hot sun and growing things, Fall remains at the top of the list. Why, you may ask?

1. The colors. Red, orange, yellow, brown....all those colors are the ones I most like to wear.
2. The clothing.  Boots, sweaters, jackets, boots and boots and yeah baby!
3. The smells. Is there any better smell than that of leaves and the crispness in the air when Fall really makes its mark? I dont' think so.

Those are the main points, anyway. There are so many trees up here, it's like an orgy for the eyes! It's so wonderful to see fields of grasses and weeds rather than the field upon field of corn like I always saw in Galesburg. There were places there to see the changing leaves, but not like up here.

I love it! (pretty sure I wont' be saying that in a few months if the forecast for a terribly cold winter with tons of snow is accurate)

Yay Fall!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Goodbye, Summer

School is in full swing (well, except for the Labor Day bump) and summer appears to be winding down. Here's a few pics of summer:

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

August?? Already?

School looms on the horizon, much to every child's consternation. The main complaint I've been hearing is that summer just isn't long enough. No doubt!

The garden is bustling along. So far I"ve gotten two (bitter) stunted cucumbers and about six small yellow summer squash. Not bad for the wet and cold spring we had. There are two pretty large tomatoes on the plant, still green, though. One with a bite from a tomato hornworm, I think. I haven't found him yet,but I dont' really want to. Yuck. I have a couple of butternut squash growing as well, one large enough that it needed a sling as it's growing on the outside of our fence.

I'm already making plans for next year's expanded garden. There are one or two raised beds in the works, and the Sleep Number bed panels are killing some grass for me. That's the best use I've found for that crappy bed. The kids are enjoying the plastic bedframe, though, very much. At least it's not sitting in a landfill somewhere. I keep telling myself that whenever I open the storage room door and see all that gray foam. But I have used some of it, so that's all good.

Online school registration starts today. So glad I don't have to stand in line at the high school for hours! Yay for technology, right?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Baked doughnuts

I've made this recipe a few times, and while tasty, the doughnuts are very heavy and dense. Might be due to the fact that I always replace some of the white flour with whole wheat. At any rate, it doesn't stop anyone from eating them.

From The Encyclopedia of Country Living,  by Carla Emery

Just as if you were making bread, combine 2 pkg yeas, 1/4 cup warm water, 1/2 cup scalded lukewarm milk, 1/2 cup sugar, 2 eggs, 1 tsp salt, 1/3 cup shortening, 1 tsp nutmeg, 4 1/2 cups flour and 1/2 tsp cinnamon. Knead, cover and let rise for 50-60 minutes.
Turn onto a floured board and roll with a rolling pin until dough is about 1/2 inch thick. Cut with a doughnut cutter and carefully lift with a spatula onto a greased cookie sheet and brush with melted butter.
Let rise until doubled in bulk. Bake at 425* for 8-10 minutes. Brush with more melted butter.
Dust with cinnamon and sugar, or glaze with icing.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Recycled crafts

Fabric applique using scraps and cereal box

This turned out okay, but I need some stencils. Freehand letters--->not my forte
My first Mother's Day gift from my oldest daughter. I turned it into a candle using melted bits of old candles.
Random cup and saucer I glued together to make a candle using various bits of burned down candles.
Since the handle of this lovely cup broke off long ago, I decided to turn it into a small pedestal. I'll use it to display a birthday cupcake or even a tealight. I plan to make a larger one soon.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Garden update

Cucumber beetle from via Wikipedia
So the garden is not going as good as I'd hoped. While vines and plants are growing, they aren't as tall as they should be and aren't producing either. Two days ago I picked a small yellow summer squash. The rest are either too small still or rotting. :(  There area lot of cucumbers, but they're only an inch long and they're just sitting there. The cucumber beetles are having a great time, though, destroying the vines. Now they've moved onto the butternut squash and I am not happy about that at all.

There is a nice head of broccoli growing, however, and that's very nice. Last night Foo-Foo and I were down at the garden looking for pests to pick and drop into the jar of death (as I call it) and suddenly he gets all excited:  "Broccoli!  Broccoli!"   :)

I was reading in my gardening book about cucumber beetles and the only way to reduce them is to use floating row covers, so I guess next year I will try that. I also want to have the cukes grow on trellises. Right now they're growing on the fence and threatening to invade the neighbor's yard, but I have a feeling those little striped and spotted fellows will take care of that.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2011


The weather has been great here in NW Indiana, and I"ve been outside working on my garden, which is getting pretty crazy, as I knew it would. And look what I've found crawling around:

Apparently Japanese beetles are Indiana's main pest, next to mosquitos, that is. At first I was just tossing them into the plastic jar and slamming the lid on real quick. Then I started throwing the bugs into a mixture of water, dish soap and oil and that really did the trick. So far I've taken off a ton of Japanese beetles, some cabbage worms and a few cucumber beetles, which are so small they're hard to catch. I usually go out to the garden a few times a day to pick off pests. It's fun!

Yep, I'm weird.

Friday, June 24, 2011


Well, the calendar tells me it's summer, but the weather is another thing altogether. How simply delightful to have such a cool and rainy spring/summer! /sarcasm

Anyway, things are growing out in the garden, but not as quickly as they ought to. I have a few photos of the garden and whatnot to share:

the lovely compost containers!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


I've really been getting into the recycling craft thing. The best part is that I've been making some useful stuff--much better than a toy out of a toilet paper tube that will eventually be thrown away.

The first project was a revamped mirror I got at a thrift boutique. Note: if a shop has the word 'boutique' anywhere in the name, it's not a thrift store. Ok, got it.

I made some ugly light fixtures from our house in Illinois into planters. Can you dig it?

Next up was the old wooden ottoman that belonged to my grandmother. I've been dragging that thing around for eight years a while now, always with the intention to redo it. Well, I finally did! After gluing the pieces, I scored some half-price upholstery fabric at Joann Fabrics and then had to wait until the weather warmed up before I could use the spray adhesive. For some reason my family objected to being poisoned from the fumes. Whatever.  The weather rose above fifty degrees and I got to work gluing on the foam we'd saved from our Sleep Number bed. So good to finally use some of that stuff! No doubt the movers thought we were pretty odd. I think it turned out just okay, sort of lumpy, but it was my first time upholstering anything, plus at least it's finished. What do you think?
ugly gray foam--def an improvement from plain ugly wood.
The finished project. Foo-Foo seems to like it.

The other things I've been doing are making some bulletin boards using some of the cardboard currently taking up  residence in DynoDad's garage and some cloth I've had lying around. I only have to attach ribbon to hang and then I will post pictures. 

The final project is a redo of an awful stainless steel trash can I bought a Lowe's when we moved to Illinois, not realizing it required special trash bags to work correctly. I tried regular ones for a time, but then gave up and shipped it out to the garage. I didn't want to toss it because I knew I could find a use for it. And so I have. I only have a bit more to do and then those pics will be here as well.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Spring--for real this time

I think I got a little ahead of myself last time I posted. But the long winter is finally over, and Spring has arrived. Things are green, green, green! The grass (weeds) needs mowed today--it's on DynoDad's list. On my list today: not housework! Cleaning inside is a rainy day thing. So if you want to visit and would like a nice house, then visit when it's raining, okay? ;) 

Here's what's been keeping me busy lately:

Just a little flower/herb garden; of course I didn't buy enough scallops at Lowe's.

The garden site. Not very big, but a good start for this year anyway.
Romaine lettuce finally growing. i'm not sure what the two holes are....did a rabbit jump in?
Kale and Swiss chard. Notice the professional, straight rows.
Valkyrie wondering what the heck I'm doing.

Azaleas along the front of the house. They appear to be doing okay, considering I had to add soil when I planted since the whole flower bed is nothing but sand under those river rocks. Very strange.

Planting is up next, and finding more space for all the seeds I have. (yes, I got a little crazy with the seed catalogue!)

I love this time of year!

Friday, April 15, 2011


I *think* it's safe to say that Spring has finally arrived here in NW Indiana. At least the nights are staying above freezing. I've started a bit of my planting, nothing major, just some kale, chard and lettuce in my two whiskey barrel halves. I also planted some canna seeds and a runner bean or two on the deck in a pot. I know, I  know, waaaay to early but I couldn't help it! The main project are my raised beds that will go in down by the fence. (photos,yes soon).  Dyno Dad will have to help me with those.

Also on the agenda is a sandbox for the kids. We have one of those Little Tyke turtle sandboxes, but it's just too small for three boys, so we're going to use the old Sleep Number bed frame we saved. It will be huge! Hopefully we'll get to that this weekend if the weather cooperates. (doubtful)

I love being able to get outside! I'm going to start running around the yard as well for exercise. Much more fun that doing P90X in the house.

Yay Spring!!!!!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Turd Words

This morning the girls had an appointment at the doctor for an immunization required by the state of Indiana, so about ten o'clock we all piled into the kidmobile and headed toward the office, which is pretty much out in the middle of nowhere, but not for long. The area is building up at an incredible rate.

As far as background goes, the word 'turd' factors prominently in the conversations around our house, mostly used as an insult "You're a turd---guy!" (Levi's favorite thing to say when he gets angry at a sibling). As we drove along the conversation naturally (?) turned to the kids' favorite word. They amused themselves (and me) by creating new 'turd-words'.

Count Turdula
The Magical Turdini

You get the idea.

So. Who wants to ride along next time?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Getting back in the groove

So here we are in Indiana. Right now it's snowing (yuck) and yes, we did experience the huge snowstorm in the beginning of February and while that snow has all melted, the ground is still extremely saturated. It will take weeks of dry, warm weather before the ground is anywhere near ready to plant. Yes, I have my seeds and as soon as the weather gets a little better I'll be outside planning the garden's location.

It's been an interesting month. We are somewhat rural, but not at the same time. Behind our house is the neighbor's pond (filled with Canadian Geese at the moment and the occasional coyote) and trees and field. Pretty cool after eight years of houses blocking any view of anything! Across the street is a housing development, I'd say it's only been there five years or so. It's a pretty busy road at any rate. I want to take walks in there, but we're right inbetween both entrances, so I'd have to walk along the side of the road. Not sure if that will be a good idea pushing a stroller.

I hope to have some new photos on the blog soon. It's a little difficult getting a photo of the kitchen when everyone wants to eat all the time!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Moving, moving, moving

Yes, it's finally here. We closed on our house in Indiana! Yeah!! Monday morning the packers will arrive, so it's goodbye tv and internet.

When Mighty Mom returns, it will be with a revamped blog, because new kitchen means new photos!

See you soon!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Making organic produce a priority

I did my usual grocery shopping today, and scored some great stuff. No, I'm not talking saving money, I'm talking scoring some good organic produce, which I something I do as much as I can. Yeah, it's more expensive, but if the  price of regular fruits and vegetables  reflected how much it actually costs to produce, it would be pricey as well. You know, once all that fertilzer, pesticide and herbicides is factored in. 

It seems wrong somehow that when we decide we need to cut costs, the first area we think of is food. Shouldn't that be the last place?

So, despite the fact that food prices are rising, I try to buy the best for my family, and that means organic when I can. This spring I will plant a garden full of the things we like to eat, but until then it's the grocery store for me.

Here's a breakdown of the fruits and vegs I bought today: (OG=organic)

--bananas--1.98 lb@ .55/lb--$1.09
--broccoli--2@ 1.99--$3.98
--bulk yellow onions--3.36lbs @ .79/lb--$2.65
--clementine mandarins--$5.99
--collard greens--$1.681
--medjool dates--$7.49
--braeburn apples OG--1.76 lbs @1.58/lb--$2.78
--broccolette OG--$2.88
--5lb carrots OG--$4.97
--celery OG--$1.99
--romaine hearts OG--$2.99
--3 butternut squash @.99/lb--$3.93
--15lbs red potatoes--$3.99

This was all at Hyvee. I don't buy much produce at Walmart because it's usually yucky, but today I did score this:
--Organic cucumbers, 2 for $3.98. Ouch, but will be good in a salad without peeling.

So that's $84.87 for all the fruits and vegs I bought today. Hopefully my garden will be a good soure of food this summer.

Monday, January 3, 2011

2010 in Photos

I saw this on another blog, and decided to do one of my own.  A photo (or two) for each month of 2010.



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And there you have it: 2010 in photos. It wasn't a bad year, all in all.