Saturday, June 19, 2010

New in shop

This is the newest item in the shop.

Pink and purple pennant bunting. I LOVE these two fabrics by Jennifer Paganelli. So much so that I requested they be the main fabric selection for my babies quilt.

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Recipe of the Week

Ultimate Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees

1 cup butter, softened--almost melted
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups flour
2/3 cup cocoa
1/2 cup milk-chocolate chips
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup peanut butter chips
1/4 cup toffee chips

Cream softened butter and sugar w/wooden spoon (a hand mixer or standing mixer works well too, I just like to use the spoon, seems to make a better texture). Add eggs. Mix in salt, vanilla and baking soda. Mix in flour. Mix in cocoa. Fold in chips.

Bake for 8-9 minutes. Cool on pan for 5 minutes before removing, they will continue cooking on the hot sheet without burning up in the oven. This keeps them nice and gooey for days. Store in airtight container. Enjoy! Print Friendly and PDF

Monday, June 7, 2010

How to thin an Apricot Tree

I am not professing to be a pro at this at all. I just thought a visual aid might be helpful for some people out there who need/want to thin their Apricot tree.

You see, I am living in the detached house of my only living grandparent which is a huge blessing. Being close to family is wonderful. And the home is just the right size for our growing family. And one of the best things is the yard. We've been able to garden and spruce up the wildly grown place a bit. It's a bit heaven here. I sit and write this and I can feel the cool breeze of the night and hear the wind gently caressing the leaves of the trees. Another of the greatest features of the yard are these mature trees. Everyday I hear a thud on our roof. I've finally learned that it's falling pine cones hitting the rooftop and sometimes rolling off. But I digress.

There is an apricot tree. Perfect for eating, drying and jam making. Yum! But the better fruit will come from a better tended tree. I called over an experienced neighbor to give me a tutorial and his wisdom on the subject was most helpful.

And today I thinned a tree for the first time ever. Yes, I'm a novice. I'm pretty sure you can find a better lesson on thinning an apricot tree than this one. But they probably won't have cute kids, robins eggs or shady pictures.

Here are the basic steps as how to thin an apricot tree.

First preparatory steps.

Gather the troops!

Don't they all just look thrilled?

Beware of mother Robins and nesting residences. There may also be a few resident spiders as well.

Now for the dirty work.

Apricot trees need infrequent but long periods of watering. The grass around the base takes the moisture before it can really get to the tree so I dug it up a bit and then sprayed it with Round Up to kill it. Because the irrigation does not reach this tree I dug trenches, on either side.

They are about 5 apricots deep. These are used to pool with water. Turn the hose to a flow heavier than a trickle for several hours at a time, in each trench. This need only be one 1-2 times a week, max. The water needs to seep in slowly and really get to the roots. This makes the tree happy.

Now for the thinning part, and consequently the longest.
You have to pick the fruit off. I felt like I was murdering these poor little fruits but it must be done! Get the vengeance out! You have to thin trees in order to let the remaining fruit have space to grow. I read somewhere that although you get fewer fruits they weigh as much as you would if you had a bunch of tiny ones. Plus, who likes to eat a pit with a bit of fruit attached anyhow?

So thin the thing. Take the fruit in between about every 3 inches, see my finger length? Make sure there is a fruit every finger length and then discard everything in between. Just chuck them on the ground below. Try not to hit your kids in the head in the process.

See how the fruit in the middle is gone now! Do this along each branch from top to bottom.

Then enlist your helpers. Boys especially like to pick and chuck things, don't they?

I had to carefully show Samuel which fruits to pick so he wasn't just picking every single one off! It made things go a bit slower but he loved to pull and throw.

Your ground will look like this after a while, several hours for me. Then bribe, pay or force your kids (or yourself :) ) to pick all of them up! If I would have known there would be so many I would have laid down a tarp before thinning to catch all the fruit. The clean up would have been less time consuming and laborious.

Oh, and be sure not to disturb any residences. Mother Robin was just as scared of me as I was of her flying out.

Now wait about a month and watch for growth! Yay!

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Sunday, June 6, 2010

Recipe of the Week

These recipes were passed on by my Aunt and Uncle M. over the Memorial Day weekend. We tried their recipe again this weekend and were just as pleased to eat them as the first time around. 

Pecan Oatmeal Pancakes topped with Bananas and Buttermilk Caramel Syrup

Pecan Oatmeal Pancakes
Yield: about 20 pancakes
4 C buttermilk
3 C quick oats
1⁄2 C white flour
1/2 C wheat flour
2 t baking soda
1 t salt
4 lg eggs
2 T powdered sugar
1 C pecans chopped (try them toasted)

Mix dry ingredients then add eggs and buttermilk. Let oats soak for 5 minutes. The batter will seem runny. Stir before pouring onto hot griddle. 

BEST served with buttermilk syrup (caramel version) AND topped with sliced bananas. 

Buttermilk Syrup
(serves 6-8)

    1/2 C butter
    1/2 C buttermilk
    1 C sugar
    1 T karo syrup
    1T vanilla
    1/2 t baking soda
In a medium heavy bottom saucepan add first 4 ingredients. Mix. Then add vainlla and baking soda.  Cook on medium-low. Stirring constantly, to avoid burning and foaming over, for 5-10 minutes until it thickens and reaches a deep caramel color and the foam subsides.  If you like a thick caramel flavored sauce, boil and stir for longer.  If you like a bit thinner syrup, add a little bit more buttermilk. 

Stir until foam decreases and serve on pancakes.

**If you increase this recipe do so with all the ingredients except do NOT double the amount of soda. Print Friendly and PDF

Friday, June 4, 2010


It's here!!! It's finally here! In October my dad generously took step-by-step photos of me sewing the birthday banner that I sell in my shop. And now I've finally made it into a PDF file that can be purchased and emailed right to you! Free shipping! And now you can sew one yourself! Wahoo!

Do you like to sew? Feeling crafty? Would you like to customize your own birthday banner? You easily can with this PDF Pattern.

This pattern is designed to be easily used by all sewing levels including beginners. With over 25 clear and colorful photographs.

Tools and Materials needed are:
--Sewing machine
--Straight pins
--Measuring tape
--Bias tape
The exact amounts are listed in the pattern.

This pattern is an Adobe PDF file. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view and print this pattern--available free at

This pattern is for personal use only. It is not to be shared, copied, emailed, or sold. It took many hours to develop this pattern and it is copyright protected. It cannot be used to sell any banners on Etsy or elsewhere. I will consider granting permission to use in large group settings such as a craft night or church group. Please email me first. Thank you!

Check it out here. And thank you to my dad, Dave & Georgia of this shop, and Carrie, Rachael and Ashley who were my "testers." Thank you!

Happy Sewing! Print Friendly and PDF

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Marshmallow Pops

We had a Memorial Day BBQ with some friends. Between the two families we had 8 hungry kids! As I was setting up they spied these marshmallow pops and their eyes popped. They were so tempted by these kid friendly little treats that I had to hide them until after dinner. I saved one for myself to try and they are pretty tasty and fun to eat too!

Here is a little tutorial on how to make them.

--1 pound of Candy Melts OR 1 block of melting chocolate.

**These candy melts can be found at any craft store. They come in a variety of colors and flavors. They were cheaper than the same amount in the melting chocolate from the grocery store, and that was before I used a coupon! If you buy the chocolate you can dye it with oil based colors which are found in craft aisles too.

--6 inch Lollipop sticks, also found at craft store

--Large marshmallows

--Sprinkles, nonpareils, mini chocolate chips, etc

Follow the instructions on the packaging for the candy melts or chocolate. I used just a few at first to see how many they would coat. To make 16 of these little guys I only used about 30 of these chips, in other words, not even close to the whole pound.

Stab the marshmallow with the lollipop stick.

Swirl the marshmallow in the melted candy. It's tricky to get it evenly coated so make sure it's melted enough so it's not gloppy on parts of the mallow. No, those are not my lovely pink nails. I'm too lazy to paint my nails.

Gently sprinkle the candy sprinkles onto the covered marshmallow. Hold over a plate so you can catch the excess and use them again. Turn at the same time to evenly coat. Don't forget the tops!

Stick them in a candy filled bowl like I did. Or in a glass, vase or dish with Styrofoam in the bottom. Not only is a fun to way to display them it keeps them from touching each other! Don't smudge them! They can be set in the fridge for a few minutes to harden them quickly.

They have a nice candy "shell" and aren't a terrible mess to clean up!! You can put them in plastic candy bags and give as party favors. This is a quick, easy, simple and tempting little treat for kids.....and adults :)

Total Cost (after sales or coupons):
Candy melts: $1.50
Lollipop sticks, bag of 35: $1.50
Marshmallows: $1
Sprinkles: $1
Total: $5 and I have enough leftover ingredients to make them again!

Here are some additional photos from our Memorial Day Barbecue. I looked forward to making these ice cream sandwiches for weeks! I hand picked the red and blue mini m&m's out to match. I pre-made the cookies and froze them in advance. However, I did not test them enough because the ice cream still squished out the sides when we ate them. So, I made them again and learned that if you find the perfect cookie recipe, bake them slightly undercooked so they're still soft. Then scoop some ice cream into them, sandwich them together, wrap them individually in saran wrap and then freeze them. Then when you're ready to eat them, just roll the sides in sprinkles, mini chocolate chips or mini m&m's and eat them right away. They're much easier that way!

The food table without the BBQ food items. Western pennant banners found in my shop.

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Recipe of the Week

This is certainly a comfort food for me and Kraft can't beat this homemade version. If you're looking for a healthy meal run away because this is not it. But ooooh, it's so yummy.

Homemade Macaroni and Cheese

It's crucial to cook the pasta until tender--just past the "al dente" stage. In fact, overcooking is better than undercooking the pasta. Whole, low-fat, and skim milk all work well in this recipe. The recipe can be halved and baked in an 8-inch-square, broilersafe baking dish.


Bread Crumb Topping
6 slices white sandwich bread (good-quality, about 6 ounces), torn into rough pieces
3 tablespoons butter (cold), cut into 6 pieces

Pasta and Cheese
1 pound elbow macaroni, or any pasta
1 tablespoon salt
5 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 teaspoons powdered mustard
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

1/2 tsp of Worcestershire sauce
5 cups milk (see note)
8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese , shredded (2 cups)

8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese , shredded (2 cups)

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

or use any combination of cheeses

4 slices bacon, fried and drained, broken up

chopped tomato
1 teaspoon salt
1. For the bread crumbs: Use any oldish bread you have on hand. I used Costco's Parmesan cheese bagels. Break them up and chop them in a food processor.

For the pasta and cheese:
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat broiler. Bring 4 quarts water to boil in Dutch oven over high heat. Add macaroni and 1 tablespoon salt; cook until pasta is tender. Drain pasta and set aside in colander. Now fry bacon. Once it is cooked, set aside. Then in now-empty Dutch oven, heat butter over medium-high heat until foaming. Add flour, mustard, and cayenne (if using), Worcestershire sauce and whisk well to combine. Continue whisking until mixture becomes fragrant and deepens in color, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk; bring mixture to boil, whisking constantly (mixture must reach full boil to fully thicken). Reduce heat to medium and simmer, whisking occasionally, until thickened to consistency of heavy cream, about 5 minutes. Off heat, whisk in cheeses and 1 teaspoon salt until cheeses are fully melted. Add pasta and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is steaming and heated through, about 6 minutes. Add bacon crumbles. Transfer mixture to broiler-safe 9-by 13-inch baking dish and sprinkle evenly with bread crumbs. Broil until crumbs are deep golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes, rotating pan if necessary for even browning. Cool about 5 minutes, then serve. Garnish with fresh chopped tomato and dried or fresh basil. It adds a nice fresh flavor.

Recipe adapted from Cooksillustrated Classic Macaroni and Cheese recipe.
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