Friday, December 9, 2011

Cleaning the Other Side...

This is the next to get tackled with the cleaning bug...

My table and freezer. So I am told.

 This is right across from the table and behind the couch for the living room.

 This is the wall directly opposite from the sink wall.

 This is the wall with the stove and sink, it is the other side of the bar and it is where my chair is.
 See that bit of beige? That is my chair.

This is the window beside my chair. Hubby had made a shelf for me. I already started with my collection of sand and water from different locations (I ask for that instead of souvenirs) But it was in all kinds of different plastic bottles - this looks soo much better.... except for the mess above it. Yes - that is bits of Christmas decorations I forgot to put up... 2 years ago.

I've got my work cut out for me, but I am only doing a little at a time, basically what you see in the picture is what I tackle at a time. If I tried more than that, well, it wouldn't get done!

Thursday, December 8, 2011


I have never made candles from scratch, though would very much like to learn! I DO however know how to stretch what I have to the limit! Haha :) So when I get candles, especially those jar candles my sister gets me for birthdays or Christmas there is always "leftovers". It drives me NUTS to have so much wax left over so I learned to make my own wicks (see also my "vegetable oil lamps" in my "No Electricity Adventure" here) I also have those little "tea light" and I save the little metal tubs and the metal wick holders that are left once they burn down.

So what I do is whatever leftover wax I have I save in a can, I save the little "tea light" metal bits and the wicks are made from the thread for crocheting, that small skinny thread that you think is impossible to hold on to :) I cut off a bit and soak the thread in a cup of water and a TBLSP of salt and about 2 TBLSP of Borax. I let that soak for a bit and the hang to dry. When I am ready:

I put some left over wax bits into small metal tea light can and put over another candle. I have a few metal trivets that I use. (I love this scent my sister got me!) 
 Here is the metal wick holder that is always left after burning the tea lights. I use a small crochet hook to push this thread through the hole in the center and cut off the bottom thread to leave about a centimeter. I make sure to have enough thread for the wick to have plenty for lighting/
 Using the crochet hook I push the metal wick holder that is now threaded with the wick into the hot wax and make sure the string gets wax on it also.
 Trim any excess wick and allow to dry and light it up!
See it works :)!!!!

If you need a thicker wick, do the same (soaking in the borax and salt) using all cotton material or braid/weave the all cotton crochet thread to the thickness you need. It works great!

By the way, the salt and Borax dictates the color of the flame - yellow / white. Soaking in different chemicals will change the color from white to yellow to violet to orange. Try it sometime.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Clean Kitchen

Cleaning the kitchen has been a chore and a blessing at the same time. If I had to move it at all - it got cleaned! I thought I would post these now even though am still working on the lower cabinets, everything I am doing now is "behind the scenes" so to speak, so figured I would go ahead with them :)

I know it may seem just a matter of DO THE DISHES!!! But oddly, that is just 2 days of dishes - seriously! Which is why I cried when my dishwasher broke... now it is a glorified dish strainer. Anyway, EVERYTHING got cleaned: Stove hood; filter, spice jars, spice rack, utensils, utensil drawers and holders, etc.

For some reason I cannot get the pics to go side by side - But I think you can pretty much tell the "befores and afters"

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Cleaning And Biscuits

Hello Blogland,

I have been incredibly busy with cleaning. I hope to have before and after pics when i am done. It has been extremely slow as I cannot get into some spots and get up again easily! I have almost finished with the kitchen's upper cabinets and will start on the lower one soon - thankfully there are not that many! Although I am dreading cleaning the oven... Oh well - a little at a time.

On to biscuits!

Because I have been working so much, I have been getting hungrier faster (gee go figure) Biscuits and gravy have always been my favorite meal - anytime. Well I think I have a new favorite, biscuits and grits :) except adding fig preserves and milk to the grits. It is delicious! Anyway, I was trying to figure out how to make some biscuits without going through too much and it being a big production when I remembered MistyMountain's Skillet biscuits. Well I had no idea what her recipe was and wasn't about to mess up my cleaning rhythm by getting on the net (all is lost then!) But I make a flat bread in the skillet all the time and know the recipe by heart, so I tweaked mine a bit to be more appropriate for biscuits and using MistyMountain's technique, I was enjoying homemade biscuits within 15 minutes, from start to finish. And SOOOO much better than any store-bought!

The following recipe I can make in 2 minutes flat, from getting the ingredients together, measured out and in the bowl, mixed and put into the pan:

Makes about 6 biscuits

Start heating cast iron skillet (or heavy) with lid on Medium heat.

1 cup flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 to 1 tsp salt
1/4 cup oil
just under 1/2 cup water

Mix dry ingredients, then add wet. mix well with a spoon, just till all is combined. Drop by spoonfuls into skillet. Keep covered for about 8-10 minutes depending on the size of the biscuits. turn over and brown other side - putting the lid back on. Once browned, your done! enjoy!

Here it is in pictures:
 Mix the ingredients
Drop by spoonfuls into pan
I LOVE my pans, is you look closely there is a hook at the side to attach the pans together, so when I have to flip the biscuits, I can just flip the pans!
 I opened it up so you can see the biscuits rising
 and flipped... Do you see the red pot in the back? That is my grits cooking :)
MMMmmm mmm GOODNESS!!!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Am at moms for Thanksgiving and wouldn't you know, our family does the craziest things.

We had our annual Nerf Gun Fight. It really helps working up an appetite! Not that we need it ;)

Serious Business!

Now Grandma is getting in on it ;)

Then after a wonderful dinner everyone looked like this....

Haha!!!          Happy Thanksgiving Blogland!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Cloth Napkins

A while ago, I decided that buying paper towels was more of a convenience rather than a necessity and set about replacing them with something almost as convenient. I found several blogs extolling the virtues of cloth napkins. I decided what did I have to lose?

My sister was getting rid of my nephew's crib sheets and blankets and gave them to me. I cut them into paper towel size, about 10 inches square. I decided I wanted one side to be the sheet material and the other the receiving blanket material. So I sandwiched two together right sides facing, machine stitched the edges leaving a gap to flip them right side out, and finished closing the edge. I made about 75 of them.

I actually like them.I use them anytime I would a paper towel. Now if the mess is particularly nasty, I will use torn up boxes from, like say, cereal boxes or Mac & Cheese etc. On those occasions I don't think a measly proper paper towel would do anyway! 

The draw back? The convenience of picking up a mess and being able to throw it away. Spaghetti Sauce comes to mind! On those occasions, as on that particular one ;) I have a small coffee can that I have put detergent and a drop or two of bleach and soak them on the shelf above the washer. When I do a load of towels, I dump the water into the toilet, squeeze out the cloth towels and wash as normal. So its not really a draw back, just an extra step or two.

The bonus? I don't have to panic if I get to the end of the roll of paper towels... I just make sure to throw them in the wash! I save money, I have not noticed any increase in washing, besides I make my own detergent! I save on waste, here we are charged per bag of garbage, and even though being green was low on my list of priorities, financial was the top priority, it was definitely a plus!

The hard one to convince was my hubby. He is so used to  me having a fit for using my "nice" kitchen towels to pick up spills and such, that when I replaced paper towels with these, he would watch me closely as he was reaching for them to see if I was gearing up for a fit :) He now reaches for them with confidence (and leaves my kitchen towels alone!) He even likes them when he makes a sandwich, the sheet side is perfect for it!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Hanging Bed Caddy

Here is the bed caddy my daughter mentioned in the comments section of the Gift Giving post.

I didn't have a pattern for it, just a picture, so I made it up as I went along. Also, my daughter's room has maniacally cheerful colors - you cannot be in her room and be sad :) Her bed sheet is the polka dots and the wildly colored strip of cloth you see is what goes under the mattress to hold it in place.

all I did was use the back side of an old pair of  jeans, sewed it to a strip of cloth and used that same cloth to make a "belt", and then she had a place to put her books, remotes to the T.V. and D.V.D./V.C.R (even though she could have just leaned over!) or whatever into the pockets. She had a very small room and for several years shared with our other "adopted" daughter, so any space saving storage was invaluable!

Jeans are wonderfully versatile! I did something similar for my wheelchair and walker, though didn't try to make it pretty like her bed caddy, but I can honestly say it is most useful!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Gift Giving

When making homemade gifts it is important to think about the recipient more than anything – which is true for all gift giving! Many years ago I began reducing our purchased Christmas gifts, so most of the gifts are homemade now. Some of my homemade gifts didn’t go over so well and some were huge hits! But isn’t that true of purchased gifts too? How many times did you purchase that “OMG I gotta have that $30 doll!” for it to only be played with twice?

Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza, Birthdays, etc. does not have to, and should not, break the bank! I realize kids want the latest and greatest $80 video game or that new cell phone that’s $200. But do they NEED it? I feel we are not teaching our kids the difference between a want and need, and what it takes to fulfill either! At the same time parents tend to feel guilty as if they are depriving their children if they do not get them “the latest and greatest”. IF that is the case and it really gnaws at you, purchase only one or two high dollar gifts and supplement the rest.

Many people ask for ideas on what they could make and or at least not spend a ton of money and here is a small list of ideas:

*A travel game made from felt, one side checkers and the other tic-tac-toe. (can be for boy or girl) This is a no sew project, just use the “wonderunder” or “stitchwithcery” stuff, all you need is an iron.

*A poncho made from a fleece blanket (more girly ;) )

*Sew pj bottoms, either pants or shorts (boy or girl – can even use a fleece blanket too!)

*Make a book for the “String Game” you can find many of the directions to make the different shapes and print them out (remember “cats cradle?”)

*crochet or knit scarves, face warmers, gloves, socks

*Make up a board game (small wooden pieces can be purchased at a craft store for very little)

*crochet, knit or sew an mp3/Ipod/Cell Phone cover

*sew up some dress up clothes and props, one year made daughter a “fairy” skirt, headband with ribbon and tissue paper flowers, and “fairy” wings made with two hangers with the hook duct taped together and the “arms” of the hanger were the wings. I covered it all in cheesecloth, ribbons, and more silk and tissue paper flowers and used elastic to put around the shoulders.

*for all my kids (have two and two others who were not really mine but in my heart they are) made a binder with their favorite recipes in it and old family recipes with who they were from – and if they were handwritten I photocopied them along with any time we had “special” recipes or traditions (is: cabbage rolls with a foil wrapped dime in one roll for New Years with Black Eyed Peas etc and why we had them) Now every year I send them new recipes I think they may like to add to their book. This is a wonderful example of what you can do

*Sew a bucket buddy from fun material or made from old jeans for tougher users. This is great for those adults who have tools – and don’t just think of it as just for the guys with hammers etc, does anyone in your family go to Bingo Halls? I am sure they would love to have a bucket buddy for their daubers! Or your crafter in the family, a bucket buddy works wonders for being able to craft on the go! BTW a coffee can makes a great "bucket" :)

*macramé plant hangers (all it is is tying knots!!!) Maybe start rooting some cuttings now to put into pots for the plant hangers!

*crocheted sponges (work GREAT)

*Sew lap quilts from the kids old clothes for the grandparents (“rag” lap quilts can be done in a day)

*sew “doorags” (my crews favorite) or scarf coolers. The polymer beads you can purchase online; here is just one source

*sew/knit/crochet up some doll clothes or furniture

*Make a “Fort Kit”. You can get all kinds of ideas from the net on different “forts”. Or you can go simply with a sheet and clothes-pins!

Stocking Stuffers:
*brushes / combs / hair ties / toothbrushes
*special shampoos / soaps (even homemade!)
*the mp3/Ipod?Cell Phone cover!
*fruits or granola bars to tide the kids over till breakfast is ready
*coupon books (ie: extra hour of video game, or skip a chore, etc)
*small games. Do you remember Jacks? How about “Chinese Jacks”?  If you have a Gibsons, they carry the small plastic rings used to make them – if not then use colored paper clips! Google it. (a little secret – I still love to play with both!)

There are so many ideas out there and we have such a useful tool now to get the ideas, the internet! Just use your imagination and go "shopping" for ideas on the net, believe me you will find all kinds of nifty suggestions!

Do you have any other suggestions?

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Tree Differences

These trees, if I remember right, are "Chinese Potash" trees. They were the same age, same height, acquired from the same location and put into the ground at the same time.

If you look to the left of the pic above you will see a 6ft T-post in the ground, to give you an idea of what the scale is. BTW I love the color on this one! So fall like! Now look at the pic below. If you look on the ground to the left you will see a camp picnic table, the white is the top of the table and the blue is the seats.

Incredible difference isn't it! What we did differently? Compost tea. WOW. Its amazing what compost can do :)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


My son's girlfriend "Blue-eyes" made these beautiful spiders that I absolutely fell in love with, and bless her heart, she let me take home 3 spiders AND a scorpion! I have no clue how she did it, though I am sure directions are somewhere on the internet :D

I just wish I could take pictures to do them justice. I have no idea why they keep getting so blurry but these were the best pics from a seriously bad lot! I got some better pics... it was the camera, not the operator... I think my hubby lost a camera....   :D

But the smaller pink one I am putting on my hat like so:

I bet I am the best dressed out there hangin' up that laundry!


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Crocheted "Sponges"

Here are my crocheted "sponges" or Dish-clothes... Basically if I like a stitch, I just do a small square of it and go from there, or if it needs a little more oomph to it, I do a rectangle and then fold in half, stitch or slip stitch the edges closed (or leave one end open to put hand inside) and viola, your done!

The green one I just did the other day (told you my favorite color was pink!). And these little suckers will SCRUB! Without scratching - woot! Now if you clean off a counter or something you will need to follow with a towel to get up the excess water: that is an issue I have been mulling over. I may try to make one side the crocheted side and the other maybe from the washcloths or towels that have holes in them..... hmmmm.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Onion Bag

Yesterday was bored and doing anything possible to avoid housework. Well I made me another crocheted sponge, but it went so fast that I needed another quick project. (I don't like the long drawn out making an afghan type projects!). I realized I had onions in two separate baskets - you know those metal 3 tiered hanging ones? We use a lot of onions. So I decided to make an Onion Bag and wrote down the directions as I made it. I was trying to figure all day where in the house I could take a picture of it where it wouldn't show how much I should quit avoiding housework, when it occurred to me... "take a picture outside"!!! (duh!) Of course it is dark now, so will take one tomorrow :)

Ch - chain
Slst - slip-stitch
Cts - counts
Dc - Double Crochet
Sc - Single Crochet
*blah blah* - follow those directions for row

Net Base
Start:   Ch 4. slst in 1st ch. Ring formed
Row 1:   Ch3 (cts as first dc) 11dc in ring (total 12 dc). Slst in top of ch3. turn.
Row 2:   Ch8 (cts as 1sc and ch7) *sk dc. Sc in next dc. Ch7* around. Slst in base of ch8. 6 loops. Turn.
Row 3:   Ch8 (cts as 1sc and ch7) *sc in top of next loop. Ch7. sc in sc. Ch7* around. Slst in base of ch8. 12 loops. Turn
Row 4:   slst in next 4 chains. (until you are at the top of ch7 loop). Ch7 (cts as 1st sc and ch6). *sc in next loop. Ch6.* around. Slst in base of ch7. 12 loops. Turn.

Net sides
Rows 5-20:   repeat row 4. 12 loops
Row 21:   ch1. * 6sc in next loop. Sc in sc.* around. Join with slip stitch to beg ch st. turn

Row 1:   ch3 (cts as beg dc). dc in next 6 sc. Turn (total 7dc)
Row 2:   ch3 (cts as beg dc). Dc in next 6dc. Turn (total 7dc)
***continue Row 2 until handle is length you want*** (mine I did 16 rows)

To connect handle to other side of net bag, find opposite side, slst thru bag and 1 st from handle, continue to slip stitch across through both the bag and handle. (total 7slst). Finish off. Weave in ends.

This size will hold approximately 6lb of onions.

In the interest of our health - I DID wash dishes and washed some clothes and got them hung outside!.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

My Solar Oven

Thought maybe would want a look at my solar oven. This is a very simple one I have hobbled together, and it works, so am not going to mess with it until have everything together to make a "permanent" one :)

Simply lined an old cooler with foil, that silver thing is a stand to put smaller pots on to raise to the middle, and my dutch oven that I mostly use. The dutch oven I can just place inside (without the silver stand) and put what I want to cook inside it - even another pan or mason jars, place the lid on and I don't have to worry about burning anything! Put the window on and walk away... I LOVE cooking this way!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

No Electricity Adventure

Hello all. Had some adventures this passed week. We were unable to pay our electric bill on time (and they could not wait a day) so our electric was turned off. Not too big a deal as it was anticipated and I have 2 ltr bottles of water in the big freezer ready for just this type of occasion. Put a few in the fridge and freezer and it will hold the temp and keep things from going bad. It worked beautifully. In the morning just grabbed everything out of the fridge I would need and that reduced the time the fridge was open. No meats or anything, things like jelly and stuff was fine to keep out till evening.

I did forget to make me more tea, so I made it in my solar oven (I usually make tea on the stove) and that worked fine also… as long as I had the lid on tight, so the second attempt was perfect ;) I kept the tea in concentrated form in the mason jar and put that in a thick clay jar with water and a wet towel to cover and keep it cool. When I wanted something to drink, I just poured a bit into my glass and added water to dilute it. It also saved so much on space that I think I will do that from now on! (except in the fridge ;) )

My vegetable oil and homemade wick “candles”  and “stove” worked well also. We had plenty of light (even for me to read by, which is saying a LOT - I did have one holder with a candle) and was able to boil water for coffee on the stove. I do have a camp percolator, but it is gigantic and would have taken forever to make coffee with. So I set up my coffee maker like I usually would, boiled the water on the “stove” and poured the water into the reservoir of coffee grounds, and had perfect coffee, which I kept warm in a thermos. BTW my coffee filters I made from old sheets so no paper products…

(These are pics of the "lamp" in action along with my coffee warmer - I do not like cold coffee, and since didn't have a microwave...)

This is how I was able to boil water: plumbing strap, wire, homemade wicks, vegetable oil, a rack, and good to go.

Note the lid - not a good idea, should FIT the pot. Water and oil do not mix. The only reason this worked was because I have it hanging over the pan to drip outside the oil pan.

Laundry was fine, I have a bucket and a plunger (of which is ONLY used for clothes!) and cleaned my clothes that way. This I knew would work as have done this many times. Whats interesting is when you don’t have water, and we did that for 6 weeks in July/August, but that is another adventure to talk about later J
Drying the clothes was the usual clothesline outside.

If it weren’t for the fact that it was SO quiet, and have to work on fixing a system to heat water for showers, and solar power for computer (phones can charge off of computer so is a “twofer”), OH and for the freezer/fridge I would have been just fine without electricity. And even for the fridge, wouldn’t mind so much in winter as have made a “California Cooler” before, just doesn’t work so well with Texas heat ;) but winter time – would work just fine! The computer and phone, eh, I could do without, but it IS nice to be able to communicate with hubby now and again when he is at work, otherwise I HATE the phone and the computer is a serious distraction to getting things done ;)

So that was my adventure this week, with some thoughts to go along. Have a few ideas rumbling around in the “ol’ noggin’” and hubby is groaning that he can feel his back hurting already – before I even tell him my ideas :D

SIDE NOTE: I am NOT responsible if you try any of this for yourself! Oil WILL burn! Do not leave unattended!