Dinner with our Neighbors

Dear Sis, 

Our neighbors joined us for dinner last night. I served Minced Beef Wellington, Scalloped Potatoes, and Italian-Style Green Beans. They brought Angel-food Cake, strawberries, and whipped topping. Yum:)

Scallop Potatoes

Scalloped Potatoes
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 2 lb. small potatoes, sliced thinly
  2. 2 T ghee or butter
  3. 1 sm. onion, diced
  4. 2 t thyme
  5. 1 t minced garlic
  6. 2 T unbleached flour
  7. 1/2 c vegetable or chicken stock
  8. 1 c milk
  9. 2 c cheddar cheese, shredded & divided
  10. 1/2 c Parmesan, shredded
  11. salt & pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Arrange potatoes in a 9-inch square baking dish.
  2. Preheat oven to 375.
  3. Melt ghee in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Salute onion, thyme, and garlic until fragrant. Stir in flour.
  4. Gradually whisk in stock and milk. Stir in 1 1/2 c cheddar and Parmesan until melted. Pour over Potatoes. Sprinkle with remaining cheddar.
  5. Bake covered 45 minutes, and 20 - 30 minutes more uncovered.
Adapted from Gimme Some Oven
Adapted from Gimme Some Oven
Tag Sis, You're It! http://www.tagsisyoureit.com/
 After dinner we talked the evening away. Baby Max was very chatty himself. During his visit he said “Mama” for the first time, and second, and third… You get the idea:) He and Josh even had a staring contest. Everyone enjoyed the evening and agreed we should repeat the occasion again soon:)

Love,

b

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Double Knitting

Hey Sis,

I have started a new craft!  This is double knitting, also known as reversible knitting.  It is something, that I have wanted to learn for awhile.  But, I found a project that helped motivate me to get started.  A Star Wars scarf.

star-wars-scarf-1

Before you ask, I haven’t become Star War obsessed.  But, my nerdy Nate just might be. lol.  So, I am making this scarf for him.  I picked out the same color green as his gloves and hat, and am using black to offset it.  Hopefully, I will finish before the snow starts to hit the ground. lol.

If you want to learn how to double knit… here is an excellent video tutorial 

 

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Springtime Favorite Bread

Hey Sis,

I found a new favorite bread recipe!  It is rather unique and tasty, and stays softer then some of the breads.  A lot of my breads get fed to the chickens after a day, but not this one.  It was still soft and delicious.

Attachment-1

Springtime Favorite Bread Machine Recipe
Lightly sweetened and flavorful
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Ingredients
  1. 1 Cup water
  2. 1/4 Cup melted unsalted butter
  3. 1 Large egg
  4. 1 Teaspoon vanilla extract
  5. 1 Teaspoon almond extract
  6. 1 Teaspoon salt
  7. 1/2 Cup sugar
  8. 3 Tablespoons dry milk
  9. 1 Teaspoon shredded orange peel
  10. 3 3/4 Cups bread flour
  11. 2 Teaspoons yeast
  12. 1/2 Cup raisins
Instructions
  1. Add all wet ingredients.
  2. Then add dry milk, sugar, orange and salt.
  3. Add flour.
  4. Make hole in four (make sure water does not seep through the hole) and pour in yeast.
  5. Turn on bread machine to sweet bread setting, at 1.5 pounds.
  6. Allow to knead for a bit, and then add raisins.
Adapted from Oster Bread Making Recipes
Adapted from Oster Bread Making Recipes
Tag Sis, You're It! http://www.tagsisyoureit.com/

 

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Halloween Graveyard Cake

Dear Sis,

The boys uncle pulled out a magazine a few weeks ago and expressed a desire to make a Graveyard cake with the boys. I wrote down the recipe, got the decorations together, and baked the cake with the boys. Then, they decorated the cake with their uncle. It took them almost an hour to make this masterpiece.

Graveyard Cake

Step One

Bake your favorite boxed chocolate cake in a 9×13 inch pan. Cool completely.

Step Two

Top cake with a thin layer or your favorite chocolate frosting. The can of icing from the store will work well, but if you’re feeling adventurous make a half batch of this Chocolate Buttercream

Step Three

Cut apart the Peeps brand Jack-o-Lantern and Gravestone marshmallows and arrange them as desired. Take cake to press the marshmallow and some gummy worms firmly into the frosting.

Step Four

Crush 18 Oreo cookies. Cover exposed frosting with crumbs.

Step Five

Pipe thawed whipped topping to create ghosts. Use chocolate chips to give them eyes.

Happy Halloween!

Love,

b

 

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Homemade Hot Cocoa for Gifting

Dear Sis,

This week I made 75 Hot Cocoa Packets for gifting this holiday season. It is an easy way to give gifts all around at low cost:)

Cocoa Mix

The test recipe that only makes 5 packets is here. I recommend the bulk recipe below if you plan on making a lot of cocoa packets.

Hot Cocoa Mix
Yields 24
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Ingredients
  1. 2 c non-fat dry milk
  2. 2 c powdered sugar
  3. 1 c cocoa powder
  4. 2 t cornstarch
  5. 1 t salt
Instructions
  1. Whisk together all ingredients.
  2. Using a funnel, place 1/4 c portions in small bags.
  3. Top with mini marshmallows if desired.
  4. Put a label on each package.
Tag Sis, You're It! http://www.tagsisyoureit.com/

Small zip seal bags can be found in the beading section in any craft supply store. The ones I used are 3 inches wide and 4 3/4 inches long. 

Lable Sheets

Printable Hot Cocoa Labels

print and cut out labels

cut (2×3 inch) card stock label bases

Materials

score each label base, in the center, lengthwise 

Not familiar with scoring? It is a neat way to crease card stock to get a profession perfect fold every time. Could you just fold each card stock in half? Of course:)

Scoring

adhere printed labels to card stock label bases

Tape

Tape II

I use roll on tape adhesive because it is fast and creates a smooth finish, but you can certainly use the adhesive of your preference.

fold label over bag seal and staple in place

Labled

Happy Holiday Giving!

Love,

b

 

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Home Hunting… again

Dear Sis,

The house hunting is making me feel a bit weather beaten. My head understands why it is good to keep looking, but my heart is ready to move into Gregory Cove!

First we saw 303 W Brier Ln. Luckily, it is already under contract, so Josh isn’t pushing it as a potential fixer-up for us! The living room is an addition and it is the nicest part of the house by far. The kitchen is compact and dine-in. The tile counter tops were too much for me! Grout where I’m preparing food… no thanks!!! The majority of the house need new floors and walls at the very least.

Next we saw 703 N Hill St. This house is cozy and cute, but it is small. The dine-in kitchen, is more of a kitchenette. Josh knew well enough to tell the realtor, “This one is nice, but there is no way that kitchen will work for Brandy.” 

After that, we went to see 504 N River Oaks Dr. This one is about 15 minutes out of town and into the country. It is on just under a half acre of flat lawn with some mature trees. Josh thinks it looks like a church from the outside:) The living space has great natural light and a wide arch off the main hall. The kitchen is separate, but it is big enough to add shelves and still be dine-in.

Bonus Room into Living & Kitchen

The room beside the kitchen and living area is long. It leads to the laundry closet and has french doors to the back yard. I envision this space as a home office, sewing space, or a future play/homeschool room.

The back two bed rooms and kitchen have new double pane windows. There is new lament flooring through most of the house. This house has enough square footage for us to grow into even though it is lacking the idea open living space.

For some reason the bathrooms are not shown in the listing photos… The main bath is modest and has a tub/shower. The master bath, pictured below has a shower. 

Master Bath

This house holds third place in my mind. 

The next property 232 W Chamberlain St is just under 2 and 1/4 acres. It is in Kingsland, so we would be able to keep livestock if we want to. The place has recently been a rental property… so was it ever dirty!!! The carpets need replaced. The living space is open:) The kitchen is a good size and leads to the laundry room. The cabinets have been so dirty for so long, they need to be refinished, but otherwise seem to be in good shape. All three bedrooms are as expected. Both bathrooms have a double vanity, which makes sharing easier! This house has just the level of fixing-up that might not break me and send me running for the hills. 

The yard had so much junk in it, it was hard to appreciate the acreage. Plus the property is only a block off a busy road which is visible and audible from the front door. 

I joked that this property came with a “part-time job.” …and the realtor said, “Good, then you know what you’re getting into.”

The listing pictures of the bedrooms have clutter in them, so here are new images that are easier to imagine with our finishes.

Bedrooms

Both extra bedrooms are small with a single window and a repeatable closet.

Master

The Master bedroom is a bit bigger with its own bath and walk-in closet

Master Closet

The listing show the living space as three separate rooms, but to my delight it is open!

Open Living Space

Dark isn’t it! That is one of the many issues that need addressing.

Kitchen

If Josh insists on a fixer-up, this is about as far as I care to walk that line!

Our journey continued to 1820 Ridgeview. This is a full fledged fixer-up. It needs a new kitchen, new toilets, and new floors ASAP! I get grumpy when I think about it. Josh is more eager than I expected or like!!! The icing my metaphorical cake is the location. It is right off a main road. There is no nice view no matter which way you turn!!! Ugly house, ugly property, ugly part of town… not what I want to sign up for.

The realtor suggested it as a good property to fix and rent, so that we could afford a property we find more pleasing.

The last property we saw, 202 Timberidge had so much curb appeal I was in love before we went inside. This cute brick ranch has a yard with multiple mature trees in all the right places. …simple landscaping on a flat lot. 

This house has a large living space, with a tiny kitchen with awesome finishes. Sadly, the listing photos don’t give it justice and mine aren’t much better. I was too busy looking around to remember to take many photos. 

The realtor did point out that a kitchen expansion has a lot of potential. 

Enlarge Kitchen

The wall between the kitchen and dining space could come down. The kitchen can extend across the back wall of the dining space and an island can be added, with or without a seating bar. Then the living space would be 100% open and the kitchen wouldn’t be so tiny. 

Then we could put the dining space in the other corner, where the current residents have the office/music corner.

New Dining Space

Ta-da perfect great room layout! To bad things aren’t as easily done as they are said. 

An oddity in this home… the walk-in closet is a pass through to the master bath? A tidy closet it will have to be… to keep me happy:)

The listing photos only show the back patio, but the back yard is so much more than that! What a perfect country house! This one has stollen second place in my mind.

Carport

Back Yard

Side Yard

There is a lot of drainage around this house, that leads to a ditch in the side yard that leads away from the house. This concerns Josh! He feels it may have flood potential?

Love,

b

The Search for Our New Home

Home Hunting

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Seven Tier Skirt Recipe

Last week, I was going through my winter clothing and came to a realization, “Oh darn, I do not have enough winter skirts!” Not having enough clothing is a bit harder for me, than some other girls.  Why?  Because I hate shopping!!!  Brandy would force me to go clothes shopping, and this year I am pleased to say that I only had to go to Goodwill twice… and one of those times was because Brandy was in town, and was forced, I tell you… forced!!

But, no worries.  I have fabric.  I don’t have an extreme amount of sewing experience, but I’m a improv type of person.  Surely, I can draft my own pattern and whip something together.  Easy peasy!  Right?  Right.

So, first I went through my stash.  Purple and green flowery fabric!  Naturally, I had to make my skirt out of that.

These colors are simply prefect, aren't they!

Drafting A Pattern

I found drafting to be very easy.  It’s pretty much taping tissue paper to a table, grabbing a ruler and a pencil, and giving it a go.  It really helped me to gain a perspective on where to put my tier, what length for each color, and how the skirt was going to fit.  

 

The Pattern

Measurements:  Skirt is 34′ long, but any tier can easily be adjusted to add or take away form the length.  The skirt is full with an elastic waist band.  So, my fabric cut out will fit anyone up to 38′ in the hip.  If you are bigger, basic math skills will be on your side. 

Waistband piece Cut 2:

Top should be 20 inch long and bottom should be 24″ wide.  So you will have an angle on the sides, that should measure 12″ long.  All other pieces are straight cuts!

Tier #1:  3.5″ x 60″

Tier #2: 3.5″ x 95″

Tier #3: 10.5″ x 115″

Tier #4: 3.5″ x 135″

Tier #5: 3.5″ x 155″

Tier #6:  7.25″ x 180″

You aren’t going to find a piece of fabric that is 180 inches long.  So you will have to sew together multiple strips of fabric to make it 180 inches long.  Remember 1/2 in seam allowance.

Cutting out Fabric Methods

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Option one: Draw piece with chalk and cut it out with scissors.

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Option Two: Using a cutting mat, quilting ruler, and rotary cutter, cut the piece of the proper dimensions.

Time to Sew

Step #1: Sew waist pieces together only on one side.  Iron seam open and smooth.  Then iron a 1/4 inch hem (to finish the ends) and a 1 1/4 inch hem (to incase your 1″ elastic). 

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Yep, my pictures stink sometimes. But, if you look closely to the hand, you can see the 1/4 inch seam for finishing the ends.

Step #2 Sew your waistband 1/4 of an inch from the bottom.  Then cut elastic 1″ larger then your waist measurement and thread through the casing.  Pin elastic to both ends, and sew other side together with a 1/2 seam allowance. (1″ of elastic will be in the seam… 1/2 inch on each side)

Step #3 Fold bottom edge of waist panel into eights and add a pin or chalk mark.  Do the same with the fabric for Tier #1 on the top and bottom of fabric.  

Step #4 Run a large stitch on the top of Tier one, do not use knots and leave long tails!  You want to be able to yank the thread on both sides, so that you can have controlled ruffles in the seam.  I do 20″ with each thread. 

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Step #5 Line up your markers and pin together.

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Step #6 Yank on long tails of the threads, so that you can gather the tier fabric enough to match the length of the fabric you are sewing it to.  Move gathering about so that it is controlled and nice, and pin into place.  

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Step #7 Sew with 1/2 seam allowance.

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Yay!  You finished your first tier.  Time for a little happy dance! 

Step #8.  Wash, rinse, repeat for each tier.

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Until you get to the bottom of your skirt, because you will probably want a hem… they tend to be a good idea 😉   Hems are simple.  Iron in a 1/4 inch fold over to finish the seams, and then do another 1/2 fold.   Sew the bottom.  

image

Then you are done:)

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