Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Kitchen Curtains

This past summer, I lucked up and found ten yards of vintage fabric for ten bucks. I didn't know what I was going to do with it, only that I liked it and that I knew I'd find something useful for it one day. Then, halfway through the Fall semester, I realized just what to do: make curtains for my kitchen.

Now, I should explain a few things about my kitchen. When we moved into this house, I hated it (the kitchen). The cabinets are horrible. The counter tops are made of that old laminate stuff. The appliances (specifically the dishwasher) look like something out of 1973. Oh, and the washer and dryer are in the corner, which somehow makes it impossible for an actual kitchen table to be in the room--even a small bistro style table. Needless to say, I was unhappy because I LOVE a good kitchen. A good kitchen is easily my favorite room in the house.

But my kitchen was not good. And I knew we couldn't afford the money or time it would take to give it a modern update.

Then, one day, while visiting with my Gran, I realized something. Her kitchen is my most favorite room that exists on this planet. And her kitchen is old school. Just like mine. But hers has character because she has given it the character it needs.

And so I started to work my magic. Slowly. Piece by piece. Today, another piece fell in place. I made and hung three basic, old school curtains that look divine in my now "happy place" kitchen.

I think...think...all that's left to do now is find the right rug for the room, which I'm fairly sure will need to be a large, braided, red rug. Oh, and to make some hand towels. And replace the cabinet hardware.

A little at a time...

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

My Mother-In-Law's Peanut Butter Balls

I just spent a glorious 5 days with my in-laws. And I mean that for real. I realize a lot of people aren't lucky enough to have really awesome in-laws. I am that lucky. When I go to my MIL's house, I always feel welcome and happy and stress free. It's a good change from normal life.

We always go up right before actual Christmas so we can do our celebrations with them and then be home for Santa's big visit. When I got there, we had some work to do to prepare for the festivities. One of these things was to make the Peanut Butter Balls.

We can't have Christmas up there without the Peanut Butter Balls.

While they can be a little tedious to make with regard to time, they are actually really simple to make.

Ingredients for balls*:
  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 box powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter (we use Reese peanut butter for this)
  • 1 cup coconut
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 sticks margarine, melted
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
Mix all of the above together, adding the butter last. Use your hands. It's more fun.

Ingredients for chocolate:
  • 1/2 block of paraffin wax (we used Gulf Wax)
  • 1 6oz. package of semi-sweet chocolate morsels
Melt the wax and chocolate in a double boiler or pot on pot.

Pot on Pot Boiler

How to "assemble" the peanut butter balls:
Rolled Peanut Butter Balls
  • Pinch off a small amount of peanut butter mixture and roll it into a ball in the palm of your hand. It shouldn't be any wider than a quarter, really. Although, I guess the size can be up to you. We made 4 batches at once and had well over a hundred peanut butter balls. The smaller you roll, the more there are.
  • Drop each ball into the melted chocolate mixture, rolling it around until it's covered.
  • Remove the ball with a slotted spoon so the extra chocolate can drip back into the pot
  • Lay your peanut butter balls on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper so they can dry. Drying won't take long.
  • Store your peanut butter balls in a sealed container until ready to enjoy.

Chocolatey Goodness!
They are seriously sinful and yummy. All weekend, I'd watch people popping these things in their mouths. How can you not love a peanut butter ball?!

*I suspect you can leave some of these ingredients out for those who can't have, say, nuts or coconut, and these would still be just as yummy.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Chicken Pot Pie

I've been wanting to try the new Philadelphia cooking cremes since they first appeared on the shelf in the grocery store. So tonight, I put one to the test by making the Chicken Pot Pie recipe that's listed here. But, because I don't ever like sticking to a recipe, I changed some stuff up. It ended up looking like this at the end of the night:

My family inhaled it. And then made me wrap up what was left so they could have leftovers of it tomorrow. That almost never happens. We're not a family of leftovers...mostly because I've perfected the art of cooking for just 4 people.

Just out of the oven

  • 1 lb. of chicken breast, cut into tiny, bite-sized pieces
  • a spoonful of butter or margarine
  • 3 cups of mixed veg, thawed and drained
  • 1 container of Philadelphia Cooking Creme Italian Cheese and Herb*
  • 2 deep dished pie crusts

Half Eaten
  1. Heat oven to 400°
  2. In a skillet, melt butter and brown the bite-sized pieces of chicken 
  3. Add veg and cook through for 2-3 minutes
  4. Add Cooking Creme and heat through until mixture just begins to bubble
  5. Spoon into one deep dished pie crust
  6. Top with the other pie crust (please read explanation below) and cut slits in the top
  7. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown.
Now, the explanation of step 6:

 The original recipe (the one linked above) says to just put the mixture in a pie tin and then cover with a crust. I don't like pot pies like that. I like my pot pies to be surrounded by crust, both top and bottom. But, when I went to the grocery store, I only got the deep dished crusts and forgot to get the roll out pie "top" that most people would use in this situation. Of course, I could of made the top from scratch, but no. So, after I put the mixture in one pie shell, I ran a knife around the rim of the second pie crust, cutting the fluted edges off and then turned the pie crust tin upside down until it (the crust) dropped out in one nice sheet. I then placed it over my mixture already on the first pie shell and thumb smashed the edges of the two crusts together. Turned out great.

Creamy and flavorful and divine
Of course, it doesn't quite cut into "pie" pieces. But so what. It's yummy no matter what.

Before the massacre.

*The actual recipe called for Savory Garlic Cooking Creme. My grocery store was out of that flavor, so I got the Italian Cheese and Herb. It was yummy.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Arroz Mexicano

I love food. All kinds of food. There's just about nothing I won't eat, and I'll pretty much try anything at least once. But one of my all time favorite dishes ever is Mexican Rice. Yes, I'm fully aware that it's probably not "authentic" Mexican Rice when I order it in the restaurants. But I love it anyway.

I've tried to make it a few times with different sorts of recipes. Most of those recipes were massive culinary failures.

Until now.

A successful Mexican Rice

I adapted this recipe from a couple of different recipes. I like how flexible it is.


  • 1 cup rice
  • 1 small white onion, minced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 medium sized carrot, minced
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 cups of water
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/8 tsp celery salt (optional)
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
  1. In a pan (that you have a lid for), heat oil and butter over high heat until really hot
  2. Add onion, garlic, carrot, salt and pepper, celery salt, and cayenne pepper. Saute for 3 minutes.
  3. Add rice and saute for 5 minutes. You will need to stir this almost constantly. Your rice may start to brown, which is a good thing. (If it doesn't brown, that's ok, too.)
  4. Add water, being careful of the steam that's going to try to smack you in the face.
  5. Drop in the tomato paste and just whirl it around a bit in the rice. Don't completely mix it.
  6. Bring everything to a boil and then turn your stove down to the lowest possible heat setting. (I put mine on warm. If you have a gas stove, you want it low enough that the flame is just about to go out.)
  7. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
  8. Remove from heat and let sit for 15 minutes. DO NOT TAKE THE LID OFF AT ALL UNTIL IT HAS SAT FOR 15 MINUTES. If you let the moisture escape, your rice won't finish cooking.
  9. Remove lid, fluff with fork, add any more salt and pepper to taste, and serve.
Simmering (I cheated and lifted the top. Do not do this.)
My family loves this rice. It's diverse enough to be served with a number of different dishes, so it's very versatile.
And yummy. Don't forget yummy.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Deck the Halls

May your Christmas Decorating be joyous and awesome.

Mantel Garland with Real Magnolia Leaves
Ribbons and Real Holly Leaves and Berries
Santa Pepper
Shrek and the Who hat
The Girl Bell
Vader helps us decorate.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Better than Sonic

OK, bear with me on this one. I know it's super simple, but maybe...just's not obvious to all.

My sister recently pointed out that Sonic is now serving bratwursts. She kept going on and on about how delish they are. And then it occurred to me that maybe she didn't know how simple re-creating the recipe would be. So today, after picking the children up for school, I went to Sonic for a milkshake and to spy on their menu brats. Super simple. Super easy. Super yummy when made in your kitchen and not in a fast food joint.

It didn't take much twisting of the arm to convince my hubby that we needed brats tonight for dinner. Here's how ours looked:

sauerkraut bratwurst
  • A package of bratwurst (the ones you find in the cold cut/hotdog section of your grocery store
  • hotdog buns
  • spicy mustard
  • a can of sauerkraut (drained and lightly rinsed)
  • a medium onion (halved and sliced)
  • olive oil
  • celery salt
  • salt and pepper
  1. In a small pan, drizzle a little olive oil and heat on medium-high heat. Add onions and saute until soft and starting to brown.
  2. In a small sauce pot, heat the sauerkraut with a tiny bit of water (since you drained the original "juice") until heated through.
  3. Grill your brats until they crack and get a little black in places. (I guess you could also bake them or boil them, but grilling them in best.)
  4. Heat the hotdog buns in the microwave (I keep mine in their bag, with the bag open)
Once all of these things are done, just assemble your brat to your liking, sprinkling it with celery salt, salt, and pepper to taste.

WAY better than anything Sonic could come up with and made to taste. How could it not be good?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Tinting Jars

My Gran has some of those official 1930s blue tinted mason jars. The ones that are awesome and gorgeous and worth some money is they have the original top and stuff with them. I've always loved those blue jars, so when I came across the tutorial to tint mason jars, I knew I had to try it. Luckily, my sister also came across the same tutorial, so we decided to give it a shot together this weekend. We played around with colors and jar sizes and such until we were finally satisfied. Of course, I completely forgot to take photos of the jars we were happiest with, mostly because I was exhausted and went to bed before they were done cooling. She had them all packed up by the time I woke up this morning. But the pictures below provide a pretty decent visual, so we'll go with them.

Orange tinted jar just out of the oven.

What You'll Need:

  • Clean, dry mason jars (any size will do)
  • A bottle of Mod Podge (the glossy kind)
  • Water
  • Food Coloring
  • Wax Paper
  • Cooling Racks
  • Baking Sheets
  • A Plastic Throw Away Solo Cup
  • A Plastic Spoon
The last two don't have to be plastic because you can wash this stuff out, but I find using plastic makes the clean up easier. I realize it's not great for the environment, though.
Mod Podge can be found at any craft supply store.

What You Need to Do:
  1. Preheat the oven at 270°
  2. Put a sheet of wax paper in your baking sheet, and then set a cooling rack on the wax paper
  3. In the plastic cup, pour 4 tablespoons of Mod Podge, 1 tablespoon of water, and roughly 8-10 drops of the food coloring of your choice. Stir well.
  4. Pour enough of the mixture into the bottom of your mason jars so that you are able to roll it around in the jars and coat the jars inside completely
  5. Pour any excess mixture back into the plastic cup
  6. Set the mason jars upside down on the cooling rack that is sitting in your baking sheet
  7. Let the mason jars sit for roughly 30 minutes (they will start to dry during this time.)
  8. Put the baking sheet with the mason jars upside down in the oven and bake for 30 minutes
  9. Flip the mason jars right side up and let them bake another 30 minutes
  10. Remove and allow them to cool completely before handling
WARNING: You cannot eat or drink out of these jars. They are toxic. You can, however, use them as votive holders, flower vases, or storage jars.
Jars drying before baking.
Baking Jars

Now, I know that the above jars don't look perfect. They don't have to. But, to take care of streaks or if you find your rims glopping up too much (which we found with the first batch which is pictured above), you can put more water in your mixture and/or bake a little longer. These things will take care of the glops and the streaks.

I'm thinking of making green and red ones for the Christmas Season and putting them all over the place with my normal decorations. 

Now, go forth and tint!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Knit ALL the Stitches

I have started...slowly... working on all of the knit things I will be making people for Christmas this year. But, because I am a wife, mama, and full time teacher, I don't have a ton of time, which means my projects around this time of year have to be simple and fast. I wish that weren't the case. I actually tried to convince myself this year that I would get all of my Christmas knitting done over the summer. But then summer got here, and I had to do important things like read and drink lemonade and hang out at any swimming pool I could find within a 100 miles. Oh, and sleep. Lots and lots of glorious sleep until a staggering 9 am. I'm a party animal. I know.

Anyhoo, so I'm knitting. And the things I am knitting are relying on the good, old garter stitch, which is pretty much the easiest stitch in the history of all stitches ever conceived. But that's ok. Because it's not about the stitch; it's about the project and/or the yarn. The wonderful, amazing, beautifully colored yarn.

For instance:

I am a huge fan of multicolored yarn because it means I don't have to knit with multiple skeins all at one time. And a good colored multicolored yarn can make that boring old garter stitch look like uptown fabulous. This is a circle scarf I have knitted for my dad's lovely lady, Linda. I wish I could put a "feel this" button so you, precious reader, could understand the pure lushness of this yarn. After I finished it, I put the damn thing on just so I could love it for a little while.

That's not weird at all.

Another project:

Ok, so this one I've actually had shelved for a while. For a couple of reasons. The biggest being that it's made of chinchilla, which is pretty expensive in terms of how much bang you get for your buck. It's such an awesome yarn, though. It's thick and durable and perfect for big throws, which is what this will be. And, because I'm using a simple garter stitch, the project itself won't take long to finish. 

And finally, the project I love the most:

That was kind of anti-climatic, wasn't it? But wait until you hear the details. What you see here is grandmother's dishcloth. Seriously. That's what the pattern is called. Grandmother's dishcloth. It's a simple garter stitch that incorporates a "yarn over" after every second stitch in each row, which causes the pattern around the edges.

Here's why I'm most excited about it: It's actually my grandmother's dishcloth pattern. The one she has used for as long as I can remember. I even have a few of her dishcloths, sadly falling apart though.

Looks rough, right? I don't care. My Gran made that and there is no way I'd ever throw it away. 

Anyway, Gran's getting older and, while she still knits every single day, her hands aren't what they used to be. Last time I visited with her, I noticed her dishcloths, looking a little worn. So, I'm making her a whole stack of dishcloths with the pattern she's used for me for years.

I'm a fan of the sentimental, particularly when it comes to this woman. She's my heart.

The old and the new

Happy knitting!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Thanksgiving Practice

This weekend was full of Crock Pot madness. In fact, on Sunday, I had two slow cookers going at once, something that is a true testament to my slow cooking infatuation. One of those cookers held my apples(auce) recipe previously posted. The other held a Try-Out-Thanksgiving recipe I've been wanting to try before the big day.

If you're anything like me, Thanksgiving is a day of utter chaos in the kitchen. There are so many wonderfully delicious things I always want to cook for my family that I often overdo it and end up with way more on my hands than I can properly deal with. But this year, I've decided to do two things:

  1. Not cook every single Thanksgiving recipe I've ever come across, made, or maybe even head about
  2. Use a slow cooker whenever humanly possible.
So, I happened upon a chicken and dressing recipe that looked simple enough to give it a go, just to see if it was up to Thanksgiving standards. 

Slow Cooker Stuffing Chicken
  • 2-3 lbs of chicken breast strips
  • 8-10 slices of swiss cheese
  • 1 can of cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 box stove top stuffing (chicken or savory herb flavor). Yes, I KNOW this is cheating at Thanksgiving. Trust me. I know.
  • 1/4 cup melted butter.
  1. Spray the inside of your slow cooker with non-stick spray
  2. Wash your chicken and lay it flat in the bottom of your cooker
  3. Cover with the swiss cheese slices
  4. Mix milk and cream of mushroom soup until creamy and...
  5. Pour mixture over cheese slices
  6. Pour dried stuffing over mixture
  7. Drizzle with butter
  8. Cook on high for 3 hours and on low for 1 hour
  9. Turn your slow cooker lid sideways for the last 30 minutes to let the moisture escape so your stuffing isn't soggy.
As you can see in the above picture, the cheese and soup mixture will bubble up through the stuffing.

The recipe was a success, except for one thing. I don't know if it's Thanksgiving worthy. It's dinner rotation in the Mahaffey house worthy. But Thanksgiving dinner is a big deal, and I'm just not sure it's THAT good. The husband says it is. I'll have to think about it.

To go with the chicken stuffing, I made my garlic roasted brussels sprouts and corn on the cob. We were some happy people!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Slow Cooker Apples(auce)

My mother recently spent the weekend in the Appalachian mountains for her birthday, and while there she got her hands on some apples. Not just some apples. Massive amounts of apples. Pink Lady apples to be exact. Her garage has boxes and boxes of pretty pink lady apples spilling out of them.

The problem: My mother doesn't cook. She's more of a "heat-it-up" kind of woman. So, she told me I could have full access to all of these apples.

Recently, I came across an applesauce recipe that I thought was pretty interesting, particularly because it was made in a slow cooker. But, I'm not a huge fan of applesauce. It's the consistency. Something about it freaks me out. So I've been trying to figure out how I can work with these apples without making traditional, mashed up applesauce.


This is, of course, before the cooking process. I'm not sure what to call it. Granola Cored Apples? 

Anyway, here's the information.

  • 6 medium sized apples of your choosing
  • 1/2 c light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granola
  • 1/4 cup cranberries
  • 1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice*
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  1. Combine brown sugar, granola, cranberries, and pumpkin pie spice in a bowl
  2. Wash your apples thoroughly and then halve them going side to side**
  3. Core the halves using a sharp paring knife. It doesn't have to be perfect. Just get all the middle bits out.
  4. Put the two halves back together, so that it looks like an apple again, and fill the cored middle with your granola mixture.
  5. Place the filled apples in your slow cooker
  6. Pour orange juice in the bottom of your slow cooker
  7. Cook on high for 2 hours and then on warm for 2 hours.
You can then spoon each full apple directly out onto individual serving dishes. Serve with a scoop of Vanilla Bean ice cream.

I can't even explain to you how good this is. It's restaurant quality good. It's close-your-eyes-and-purr good. It's why-did-I-serve-this-in-my-kids-plastic-bowl good.

*If you don't have pumpkin pie spice, you will need 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, and 1/4 tsp ground cloves.

**If you have an apple corer, you don't necessarily have to halve your apples. I halve mine for two reasons. First, I don't have a corer. Second, that little break up of apple allows the granola mixture to kind of seep in between the two halves, which I think spices them up more.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Slow Cooker Chili

I love the fall. It's my favorite time of year. The weather is gorgeous, college football is in full swing, Halloween gives me reason to eat obscene amounts of sugar, and we gain an hour of sleep when the clocks change. 

I also love fall foods. Soup. Chili. Chowder. Pumpkin Pie. Baked Apples. Stuffing. Hot Cider. How can anyone argue that these aren't the best foods?

This fall, I've decided to make use of my Slow Cooker, mostly because we are SO DAGUM BUSY! And when we get busy, it usually means we eat out a lot more, which is never good. Not just because it's unhealthy, but because it's just gross a lot of the time. Why spend $30 on food for the family if the food you get isn't excellent?

So, I've pulled out the Slow Cooker. And I've pulled out my recipes that are easiest to do in the Slow Cooker.

The first is my chili recipe, which has been adapted and shaped over the years from a very basic recipe I found on the back of a canned tomato can. (I don't remember which one.)

  • Ground Hamburger or Ground Turkey (Venison would work, too)
  • 1 can of stewed chili flavored tomatoes (with juice)
  • 1 can of whole kernel corn (with juice)
  • 1 can of light red kidney beans (drained well)
  • 1 can of black beans (partially drained)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small can of tomato paste
  • 1/2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 packet of chili seasoning
  • 2 dashes of cinnamon
  • 2 dashes of celery salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Brown meat and drain thoroughly
  2. Add all ingredients to Slow Cooker
  3. Cook on low for 4 hours
  4. Remove bay leaf before serving
  5. Garnish with shredded cheddar cheese and chopped green onions if desired.
I usually serve this with tostitos or cornbread. It depends on how "hands on" I want the meal to be. My children LOVE this. During cooler/cold weather, this meal makes the rotation in our house usually once every week and a half.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

DIY: Iced Coffee Without Breaking the Bank

I love iced coffee. In fact, I don't think the word "love" is strong enough. If I had to pick only one thing to drink for the rest of my life, it would be iced coffee. That's how serious our relationship is. But what I don't love is how much it costs at Starbucks or any of the local coffee shops. I mean, it's just coffee and milk, people. Why in the world does it need to cost me 8 bucks?!

I don't know why it never occurred to me to make my own. But recently, I was going through The Pioneer Woman's blog and found her recipe for iced coffee. I knew I had to try it. Of course, I also thought there'd be an easier (read: quicker) way to get to my coffee love without having to wait for it to steep for 8 hours. So I played around and discovered I could have my coffee and drink it too (ha!) in less than 2 hours.

What you will need:

  • Ground coffee of your choosing
  • Half and Half (or milk or soy)
  • Sugar
  • Ice cubes
Make a pot of coffee like you normally would, but double the amount of ground coffee you use. You don't want your coffee taste to get completely bogged down by the Half and Half or any ice that melts in your glass. I have a little coffee pot that only holds 5 cups, so I used 8 tablespoons of ground coffee.

Once your pot is made, put the amount of sugar in it that you want. Do this while the coffee is hot so that the sugar fully dissolves. In my little pot, I put 1/2 a cup. You can play around with this until you get the sweetness you want. Just remember, the Half and Half is going to sweeten it, too, so you want your coffee to be somewhat bitter on its own! Now, put your pot in the refrigerator until it cools. If you are super impatient like me, you can put it in the freezer. Just make sure you don't forget about it.

When your coffee has cooled off and started to chill, it's ready to go in the glass. Put in a couple of ice cubes and then add your coffee. The amount of coffee you put in your glass is up to you. If you like strong coffee, put more coffee than Half and Half. I do a 3.1 ratio. So 3/4 of my glass is filled with coffee and 1/4 of my glass is filled with Half and Half. Stir it until it mixes completely and Enjoy!

(My husband likes less of the coffee flavor, so he gets more Half and Half. That's why his glass, on the left, is lighter.)

And now for dishwasher soap

Last week, I made laundry detergent, which has worked fantastically. Today, when I went to grocery store, I took great pride in not having to buy ridiculously priced detergent. I was maybe even kind of snooty about it, which I probably shouldn't be proud of but am.

I got even snootier when I picked up the ingredients for my dishwasher soap. I'm trying it out now, but I have high hopes for it.

You will need:

  • 1 cup borax
  • 1 cup washing soda
  • 1 cup lemi-shine
  • 1/2 cup coarse kosher salt
Mix all together and store in a closed container. You only need one tbsp per dish load. Pretty fantastic, eh?!

(Ignore the oxi-clean in the photo, please.)

EDIT: As you can see in the photo above, I stored my mixture in a tin can. DO NOT DO THIS! Something in the metal activates something in the mixture and turns it rock hard. I remade this, stored it in a mason jar, and found it works great!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Stop Wasting Your Money on Laundry Detergent!

Being a teacher means that I have my summers off. It also means that we have to really pinch our pennies. So I've been cracking down on our spending. One way to really crack REALLY crack to make my own laundry detergent. When I first heard about this, I though, "Meh. It can't be that much different." But oh my gah, it so is.

What you will need:
  • A bar of Fels Naptha soap (found on the laundry aisle and roughly $1.)
  • A box of Borax (also found on the laundry aisle and roughly $3.50.)
  • A box of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (Make sure you get Washing soda and not baking soda. Also found on the laundry aisle and roughly $3.)
  • A container of powdered Oxy Clean (This isn't required, but I use it because it makes my whites whiter and helps fight stains. You can get a small container because you will only need 1/4 cup per batch. This is also found on the laundry aisle and is roughly $2.50.)

How to make your detergent:

  1. Grate your bar of Fels Naptha. You can use your cheese grater for this. I use the parmesan side to make the gratings small.
  2. In a bowl, mix your grated soap, 1 cup of Borax, 1 cup of Washing Soda, and 1/4 cup of Oxy Clean.
Super simple right? It gets better. You only need 2 tablespoons of this mixture to wash a full load of laundry. 2 TABLESPOONS! I read somewhere that store bought detergent has a ratio of $9/30 loads, but this one has a ratio of $9/300 loads. That is INSANE to me.

I made 2 batches at once and am storing it in a canister. 

Now, if you notice, there is a photo up there that includes a bottle of vinegar. If you add 1/4 cup of vinegar to your rinse cycle, it helps to completely rinse the soap out of your clothes before they go in the dryer. And, don't worry, your clothes won't smell like vinegar. (The vinegar trick isn't just for this detergent. Use it for store bought detergent too.)

Now, go and be clean, cheap, and green!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

It's Barbeque Time

Being from the south means it is ingrained in my DNA that I love BBQ. The south is riddled with BBQ joints that serve up BBQ, squash casserole, lima beans, corn bread, mac and cheese, and every other kind of comfort food there is. And we flock to these places, especially after church.

But you know what's even better? Making a big batch of bbq that can feed your family all week long if need be. Oh, and of course, you can also take it to family functions...that is if you're willing to share.

So, here's what you need:

  • 5 lb boneless pork butt shoulder
  • 1 1/2 tsp of smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp of pepper
  • 1 tsp of cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup of water
  1. In a small bowl, combine all of the seasonings
  2. Place your pork butt in a slow cooker
  3. Rub the pork butt evenly with your seasoning
  4. Pour the cup of water into the bottom of the slow cooker
  5. Cook your pork butt on low heat for 8 hours
  6. Shred your bbq with a fork in a large bowl.
Now, you can eat it as is. And trust me when I say it's really good like that. But usually, I'll separate the bbq into two different containers, leaving one of them as is. With the other I mix in 1 cup of Uncle Yammy's Southern Style BBQ Sauce and 1 cup of Shealy's BBQ Sauce, both of which you can find at the grocery store. This is the BBQ we eat with grilled corn on the cob and fried potatoes. 

The epitome of a southern summer meal!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Honey Cowl

I recently stumbled across a free pattern for a Honey Cowl over at madelinetosh. So I decided to give it a whirl. I made the smaller of the sizes (110 sts instead of 220) and I halved the width because I don't want 11 inches wrapped around my neck during the winter. That's more to do with my hot naturedness than anything else.

This was the first time I actually knitted in the round. Usually I knit and then join. Working in the round makes the project so much easier and streamlined. I won't do the joining thing again.

The only thing I don't like about the cowl is the size of the yarn. I used a Wool Ease yard and now I realize it is entirely too thick for the pattern to be really defined. When I decide to make 220 sts cowl, I'll go with a different yarn.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

My New Material Arrived

A few weeks back, I entered a fabric giveaway over at Punk Projects. And surprisingly enough, I won! My fabric came while I was out of town this weekend. I love it! And I kind of don't want to un-"star" it because it's so cute.

Hmmm...wonder what I should make first?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

It really is the easiest skirt ever.

I've been following MADE for a while now, mostly because looking at pretty stuff makes me happy. She has this tutorial that she claims is "a simple skirt." Yeah. Normally, I don't buy that kind of thing at all. People who have mad skills often times say stuff is "simple" or "easy" because for them it is. But I've been looking at the tutorial and thinking, "You know, it really does look kind of simple."

So, today was the day. The day that I finally broke away from making things for the home and instead made something for one of my girls. And guess what? It really is simple!

(Please excuse the wrinkles. I have not ironed it yet.)
Evie is pretty unhappy being a model, so this is the best shot I could get with the skirt on. I'm really, REALLY happy with the way this turned out. I foresee a trip to the discount fabric store in my immediate future and a bunch of play skirts for the summer for my children.