Sunday, December 15, 2013

Snowmen Ornaments

This weekend it was craft time with Katie again. She chose to make these bead snowman ornaments.

The kits came with the standard beads and pipe cleaners. Katie put the beads on on and I used hot glue after each bead. The last step was to tie the ribbon scarf around the neck.

 These guys are already hanging on the tree and look adorable.

Weather Stripping

In the continuing mission to save energy and make my house more efficient I have been focusing on a few part of the house which are some of the worst offenders. One of these is my back door. I have tried to put traditional weather stripping on the door last year and that did not work, the door would not close. I asked my brother for help in finding a real solution to the door issue. We recently made a trip to Lowes to look at some items we found online. While there we happened to find this product which looked like it might solve the problem and still keep the door functional. 

Here is a look at the door and frame before we started, there is a gap there that you can actually see light through. This was the problem, if you sat neat the door you would feel the cold draft because so much air is coming through.

Here is a look at after, there is no longer a gap!

To achieve this result we first cleaned out the door frame of the pieces of existing insulation.

This silicone stripping is very flexible and thin. It has an adhesive side to it just presses into the door frame. Just doing this one side of the frame was enough to solve the problem but it can be installed on all sides.

The change from finally solving this leaking door has been drastic. You can now sit at the table near the door and not have to wear a sweater, you can walk by without feeling the rush of cool air. I am sure this will help in the summer as well. Just one small step towards making my home more efficient and comfortable.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Rainbow Favors

My little girl will be turning 5 this month, it is all going by so fast! For her 5th birthday I decided to give her a big party like she had been asking for. We invited her entire class and many other friends and family. To prepare I went to Pinterest for inspiration and found a picture that looked like something we could make however I could not find instructions. After some searching I discovered pretzel bags, M&M's and Rolos to be the answer. First we sorted a huge bag of M&M's by color.

Next four Rolo's went into the bottom of the bag.

M&M's are then added by color making a rainbow.

Quickly and easily it comes together into a cute party favor.

A lot of rainbows for preschoolers to eat!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Getting Christmas Started

It may be Thanksgiving but after a long day of cooking the was right to start with some Christmas crafts. A few months ago Katie, my Mom and I picked out some Christmas crafts from Mary Maxim. Tonight we started with a simple ornament, here is the package.

It contained silver pipe cleaners and beads. We were quickly able to set it up and Katie followed the graphic to put the beads in the correct order. 

We did run out of pipe cleaners so I substituted a yellow from from our craft supplies.

Cute and easy to make, what more can you ask for!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Wrens & Friends Stacked Coins Baby Quilt

This is a quilt pattern that I have made a few times before. This time a baby was coming, gender unknown, my AmeriCorps team mate was having a baby and was six months along, this was the first quilt I thought of. When discussing colors with her she said she was decorating with greens and oranges and of course Snoopy. I saw the fabric set Wren & Friends by Moda and it fit perfect.

The back was a brown print and the binding orange.

The back also had a strip of coins across it.

Here is the wide view of each side.

Baby is due December 3rd and has not arrived yet but we cant wait to see him/her!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Fall into Winter Yard

My garden was cleared out early this year and I am still getting peppers and tomatoes, the artichokes, garlic and beans are still going strong.

The beans are going crazy, we put many plants in so there is a lot of variety and figuring out what the beans are is an adventure.

These long ones are dried out and were ready to pick.

We didnt get many beans... but we did get some. I will probably mix them in with other dried beans to cook and eat them.

My peach tree was thought lost at one point but is still hanging in there. The rhubarb that I had planted next to it did well while the corn was there around it but died as soon as the corn came out, perhaps too much sun. 

The pomegranete tree is still doing well. I will be pruning it even more this winter as it just keeps getting taller. We got a good crop this year which we finished off a few weeks ago but you can still see some empty red husks there at the top of the tree, way out of reach.

Here you can see what is left of the lawn that I planted. Most of it did well but there are bald spots. I reseeded and fertilized last week, if it sprouts before it freezes there should be an improvement in the Spring. The grapes are losing their leaves and we will be doing some structural work on the trellis when they get pruned.

In the mostly cleared out garden we have finally planted a winter crop. This is a mix of seeds for plants that are beneficial to the soil. The idea being that you grow it over the winter and in the spring you till it into the soil and do not have to add fertilizer or mulch. I have very healthy soil due to the addition of large quantities of mulch over the years, we hope this will keep the quality ip with a lot less shoveling. 

The next project in the yard will be to finish clearing out the garden once it freezes, surprisingly this has not happened yet. Until it does we will keep picking tomatoes and peppers from the garden. 

Pumpkin and Squash

I have posted about our pumpkin adventures here and here. We have updated and refined the process over the years. This year we only had a few pumpkins but also had banana squash, hubbard squash and butternut squash. We cooked and combined all of these for our "pumpkin" this year. Most store bought canned pumpkin is not actually pumpkin, many other squash have similar flavors but smoother consistency.

In our usual routine we de-seeded and cut up the squash. 

The best and easiest way to cook the pumpkin my pressure cooker! Usually used for canning we have found it is great for cooking large quantities of things like potatoes and squash too. The pan is large and it cooks easily.

Once cooked we run it through Kitchen Aid mixer food mill attachment (I love this attachment). We can then freeze the puree and are set for another year.

Sunday, November 10, 2013


For Halloween this year Katie decided she wanted to be Darth Vader. She is a Star Wars fan and really like Darth Vader. Her description was that he needed to be all black and a red light saber. We started early (like August) with looking for a cape pattern. Her cape is gaberdine and lined with satin, research showed that this was similar to the actual cape used in the first movie except it was wool lined with satin. Wool would have been too heavy for my little girl. For the rest of her costume we purchased a mask, black shirt, black pants and boots. The gloves were Batman gloves but she never knew the difference. I did make her a belt out of felt and interfacing that closed with velcro. The most difficult item was probably her light saber, it had to be red and one that she could carry. Also she wanted it to light up and make noise. We looks and eventually ended up getting one at Disneyland. It was red and collapsible but did not make noise or light up. There were other colors that did but Darth Vader can not have a light saber in another color! Here is the result:

I was away at conference on Halloween so my parents for Katie ready for school. Her classmates loved her costume but she was not allowed to keep her light saber.

I did make it home in the afternoon and we soon loaded up the car and headed off to our Trunk or Treat.

One of Katies friends knew what her costume was going to be and coordinated as a Jedi. There were many battles held in the parking lot.

Katie did her Trunk or Treating and got a small collection of candy. She only likes chocolate and it has to be chocolate on the inside and outside so she didnt eat much of what she got but was super excited about getting it.

This year Katie decided Momma needed to dress up too, I didnt have time to make a costume but purchased a pirate one.

Halloween was definitely fun and my Darth Vader was the cutest Darth Vader ever. 

Pumpkin Luminaries

We have a slight abundance of large Mason jars which I rarely use for canning so I have begun looking for crafts to use with them. Coming up on Halloween I found an excellent craft on Pinterest for luminaries.

To start with we cleaned and dried some jars.

Katie was very excited about this project and was very ready to help.

Next we painted them with regular craft acrylic paint. We picked orange, white and green as our colors.

We let them dry for a day then got ready for some faces.

To make faces we drew them on with Sharpies then painted with black paint. We made white ghosts, orange pumpkins and green zombies (according to Katie, Frankenstein to everyone else). 

Once the faces were dry I took them outside and sprayed them with Krylon Triple Thick Glaze, two coats.

For Halloween we put LED tea lights in them and put them in the windows of the house. I also took some to our Trunk or Treat and set them up around the car. They came our great and we will be using them for years in the future.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

AV Fair Wrap-up

The AV Fair has come and gone, here is a wrap-up of what was entered.

Vegetables - It was a bad year all over the AV and this was clear by the entries. We did not submit nearly as much as we had planned and the total turn out was really low. Here is what we entered and how they placed: 

Japanese Eggplant 1st Place
Banana Squash 1st Place
Hubbard Squash 3rd Place
Tomatillo 3rd Place
Pumpkin 1st Place

Canning - We entered the most in canning

Carrots 3rd Place

Bread and Butter Pickles 2nd Place

Cucumber Pickles 1st Place

Blackberry Jam 1st Place

Strawberry Jam

Apple Preserves Honorable Mention

Apple Jelly 2nd Place

Jalapeno Jelly 1st Place

Lemon Jelly 3rd Place

Mint Jelly Honorable Mention

Blueberry Chutney 2nd Place

Golden Gossip Chutney 2nd Place

Dried Zucchini 3rd Place

Quilting - I entered two quilts and actually did well with one, I have never placed at all in quilting

All Framed Up Quilt 1st place and Best of Division

It took first for its category, machine pieced and machine quilted and best of division. All quilts are split into two divisions based on size so it took the top ribbon for all quilts 42" and under. I was pretty excited about this!