Thursday, December 20, 2012

"The Not So Excellent Adventure"/Wildfire!

Screaming Tree
That's how I felt yesterday, like screaming!!!
As Mrs. Threadgood would say,
"you just sit back awhile honey and I'll tell you the story".
(Reference from the movie, Fried Green Tomatoes).
The great-grand baby was here, we're minding our own business.
I was sewing, (making her a taggie), she was in the playpen, taking the clothes off my vintage dolls.
Typical babysitting day.
Little did I know of the goings on outside of my little bubble.
The youngest daughter, (Ginger) calls from work.
(All dramatic like).
I'm confused, why wouldn't I be ok?
She goes on.....
"There's wild fires out by you"!
(This child always knows stuff before anyone else).
I didn't hear any sirens, but, the dogs were acting strange.
I go to look out the front door window, yep, I see fire trucks,
I go to the back door window, yep, I see fire trucks.
Yep, the fields just to the side of me are on fire.
Oh crap!
I call my neighbor, her house is in a direct line of that fire.
She's outside watching, assures me that the fire people have it under control.
I'm thinking, and you couldn't have called me???
I'm here with three dogs and a baby... With no vehicle.
The winds were gusting up to 35 mph, not a good day for a fire.
(The wind was blowing away from my house thank goodness).
She, the daughter, has my truck, she's 30 miles away.
She's on her way to get us out.
I'm putting the computer, camera and related gear into the briefcase,
packing up the diaper bag, looking for dog leashes, grabbing the bug out bags,
piling everything at the front door, buckling the baby into her carseat....
I'm in my jammies....
That done....
While I'm waiting for my ride, I'm looking out the front door window.
I can see the road, lots of vehicles exiting out of the area.
Then I see/hear a helicopter. It's circling the fire area.
All very exciting, if you're not in the mix....
She, the daughter, gets here, grabs the baby,
buckles her into the front seat of the truck.
Starts grabbing all the bags.
I'm holding two dogs on leashes who are acting all crazy.
The german shepherd is hiding in the shower.
Once caught, the german shepherd has to be lifted into the truck,
all 85# of her!
She's not wanting to get in,
probably because, the only time she goes for a ride, it's to the vet!
The other two hop right in. Good thing my truck has a back seat.
We bug out.
I'm still in my jammies.... Covered in dog hair.
We take the baby to the other G.G.
Spent the rest of the afternoon at the daughter's house watching a movie,
 hoping the wind wouldn't change directions.
The dogs and I picked up the hubby from work.
I call the neighbor and inquire as to the state of things.
No houses burned, just the field.
The daughter calls me today with a story.
Seems there was a body found, something to do with a meth lab!
(NO spell check, I did not mean math lab).
This child always knows stuff before anyone else.
I'm sure she'll have all the details before the day's end.
I hope you' all are safe.
I think I'll go sew something.
Till next time,
Screaming tree

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Jalapeno, Paprika, Sea Salt, White Chocolate Candy Recipe

Jalaoeno white chocolate candy
We're making candy for Christmas....
We did the normal menu of flavors and threw in a few oddballs too.
Chocolate covered cherries/peanut butter cups
Pretzel letters/jalapeno white chocolate
Red hots
Melting chocolate/crushed candy canes
I use my electric skillet as a double boiler, (just add water to the skillet, and pop in your jars). I put the chocolate in wide mouth mason jars and got started. (When I have chocolate left over I just cool, cap and it's ready for the next candy making session. No muss, no fuss, plus this way I'm more apt to make candy at non-holiday times)!
The jalapeno thing just hit me, sounded good so I went with it.
If you're adventurous here's the recipe.
4 or 5 finely diced jalapenos, depending on size, mine were BIG
½ block or so of roughly chopped white almond bark
a Tsp. or 2 of vegetable shortening
Sea salt
Baking sheet
Parchment or wax paper
Put some water in your electric skillet and turn her on.
Roughly chop up the almond bark,  put it in the mason jar and set the jar into the simmering water to melt.
Wash the jalapenos and drain well.
Remove the stem end from the jalapenos, slice, and then finely dice. I didn't de-vein or seed mine. I wanted all the fiery goodness! Set aside.
Check on the consistently of the white chocolate, I wanted a wafer type candy so I added veggie shortening to thin it out.
Once you have the white chocolate to your desired consistently, spoon rounds onto the parchment lined baking sheet.
Sprinkle/spoon on the jalapenos, a little paprika and sea salt.
Set in the freezer or fridge to chill.
Once set, place in plastic bags to give as gifts/ or eat them all yourself.
Continue on, making as many or as few as you desire.
I wasn't sure how these would turn out,
me being me, I had to try.
They are super yummy!!!!!
The flavors work very well together, they're not overwhelming hot, I would say rather medium-mild.
The addition of the paprika and sea salt brought the whole recipe together.
If you decide to give these a try, please let me know what you think.
Till next time, happy cooking,

Here's the link to the peanut butter cup recipe.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Free Baby Blanket Tutorial/What I've Been Sewing

Handmade baby blanket, bibs and burp cloths
The Great-grand-baby's 1st birthday is coming up,
so I decided to make her a few cute, but useful gift items.
The weather is turning cold here in Texas,
and when I saw this cute fleece at the fabric store,
my mind went to baby blanket.
I bought 1 ½ yards of it, plus some quilting cotton for a ruffle.
The bibs were made out of fat quarters.
The thought was,
the blanket could be used length-wise in the crib as a normal blanket,
or, used width-wise to put over the baby seat/carrier.
It was quite easy to make, and,
if you would like to make your own, here are the specs.
Keep in mind....
It is near impossible to get a decent photo in this house,
the fleece fabric is a pink, brown, blue, yellow and white paisley/floral print, and the quilting cotton is a brown background with pink flowers.
I did my best!
1 ½ yards - 45 wide lightweight fleece/main body
1 ½ yards - 45 wide quilting cotton/ruffle
thread, scissors, cutting mat, rotary cutter, ruler, sewing machine, ETC.
1. Using the cutting mat, rotary cutter and ruler, square up/trim the raw edges of the fleece.
Trim off the printing on the selvages.
2. Cut 5 - 8" strips of the quilting cotton, selvage to selvage.
Trim off the printing on the selvages.
You will have about 14" of the quilting cotton left over, set aside.
3. Using a small plate as a template, trace a curve in each of the four corners of the fleece. Cut on traced lines.
4. On the fleece, cut down the length-wise fold line so you have 2 pieces. Using a ¼" seam, with a normal stitch length, stay stitch each piece separately, around the edges. Set aside.
Rounding corners/cut strips
5. With a ¼"  seam, using a normal stitch length, with right sides together, sew 2 of your quilting cotton strips together ( on the 8" side). Continue adding the strips until you have them all attached to each other. You will have a long circle.
Joining strips
6. Press the seams to one side. Now, fold your joined strips, wrong sides together, making the width 4". Press.
7. Using the longest stitch length, baste ¼" from the raw edge.
(This will be your gathering threads to form the ruffle).
Since this is such a long piece, I chose to break up the gathering threads into 5 sections, starting and stopping between the seamed pieces..
Just be sure to leave yourself enough tail ends.
8. Lay out your ruffle piece around one of the fleece pieces and start gathering.
Make sure you leave extra fabric at the corners so it lays right, I
didn't leave enough, and the ruffle wants to curve inward and not lay flat! Lesson learned...
Basting the soon to be ruffle/fitting to the blanket front
9. Once you have the ruffle gathered, with right sides together,
start pinning the raw edges of the fleece and ruffle together. (The finished side of the ruffle will be facing the inside/center of the fleece). Use lots of pins!!!!
10. Once you have the ruffle pinned in place, take it to your sewing machine and sew ¼" from the raw edge, using a normal stitch length. Take out the pins as you go, you don't want to run over them.
11. Now lay the other piece of fleece on top of the ruffled piece, right sides together, with the ruffle to the inside, and pin in place.
12. At your sewing machine, in a ½" seam, using a normal stitch length, stitch the front and back pieces together, leaving 3" or so un-sewn on one long edge for turning. Again.... Take out the pins as you go.
13. Trim the raw edges, except where you left it open for turning. I like to leave that section alone as it leaves you more fabric for turning under later. 
Give the blanket a few stiff shakes to get rid of any stray threads and turn right side out.
Fitting front to back/ turned right side out
14. At your ironing board, turn under that 3" raw edge and press.
Press the whole top, pulling the ruffle away from the fleece to get a good flat edge.
15. At your sewing machine, using a normal stitch length, topstitch, on the fleece, ¼" away from where the fleece and ruffle meet. This will close the 3" opening and give you a crisp, clean edge.
Clip away any stray threads, give it few stiff shakes and you're done!
16. Use that leftover, 14" piece of quilting cotton to make a bib or two, or to run down the center of some diapers to make burp cloths.
Well there you have it, easy birthday present for baby.
If your in a colder climate you might think about adding some quilt batting also.
I hope this tutorial is helpful and if you have any questions/directions weren't clear, let me know, I'll be glad to help. 
Till next time, happy sewing.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Making Homemade Sausage With Free Recipe

Meat Grinder
The Hubby, Nathan and I  were at Gander MTN recently looking at "stuff"
when I spotted this meat grinder.
Hubby wanted one last year and I said NO, they're too expensive!
I had been looking online and they were about $200.00.
I don't think so.
Imagine my suprise when I ran across this similar model on sale for 129.99
regular price $199.99.
It has three sizes of grinding options, and, I think,
three sizes of sausage stuffing thingies.
Still being unemployed, I had to think about it,
even on sale it was still quite a chunk of change.
But, God has been good to me thus far so I took a leap of faith
and bought it for him.
(Early and only Christmas present).
Tuesday we had an opportunity to test drive it, so to speak.
The thought was, can we make breakfast sausage, chorizo, andouille etc
cheaper than we can purchase it at the market?
Lets start small with breakfast sausage currently @ $3.00 pre pound.
We mixed rough chopped, raw chicken,  pork bacon, (ends and pieces) with onions and apples.

Grinding Apples And Onions

After we ground up the apples I drained/pressed them in a colander, then
 bottled, to make juice for the great- grandbaby.
I drained the onions the same way for future use in soups/stews etc.

Chicken, pre cut up and ground bacon, ends and pieces
While hubby was coarse grinding the pork I skinned and de-boned the chickens.

Adding spices and testing for flavor

Second grinding
 After we taste-tested (yummo) we ground it a second time with a smaller bit?
(Not sure what the correct terminology is for the grinding thingies).
The packaging was pretty straightforward.
I anchored the plastic baggies in this coffee can
so hubby could fill said baggies without me having to hold them..
I was else wise occupied with rolling, pressing out the air,
freezer paper wrapping and labeling.
(When you're working with raw meat it has to be very cold,
and you need to work very fast).
2 chickens, @  .88 per # = $9.68 (about 11#)
1- 3# package bacon, ends and pieces @ $5.97
(Took out about 4 oz for beans, so lets subtract .4975).
2 medium onions, @ . 49 # =  .49
½# red apples, @  .98 per # =  .49
(put a little lemon juice on apples to prevent browning).
Sage, ¼ cup @ $1.14
Salt, 1 tbsp. Cost?
Pepper, 1 tbsp. Cost?
hot pepper flakes, 1 tbsp. Cost?
Sugar,  ¼ cup @ $1.79 for 4 # =  .0497222
$17.3322222 for 8# finished product.
(Not counting the stock I got from simmering the chicken bones,
 the apple juice for baby and the onion juice for soup/stews)
Total for finished sausage product, more or less? 

$2.1652777 per #
This is not counting the price for packaging, time, electricity, water etc..
Would I do it again?
The final product cooked up lean and very tasty, not too much
of any one flavor being predominent.

I do have a turkey in the freezer......
Give it a try.
Have fun and enjoy.
Till next time,

Monday, December 10, 2012

Three Dog Night

high for the day, 45°.

It's definitely a three dog night, good thing I have "three"!
I woke up around 3:30  this morning to the sound of the howling wind.
It's not too cold in the house, thank goodness,
 and the heater has only clicked on once.
I think I'll bake the ham that I bought yesterday, 
just to help keep the house warm.
It was a total score @ $1.27 per pound.
Things have been a little hectic around here, we just finished
our last show for the season and now I'm filling the last minute
soap orders from my website.

I've also been doing quite a bit of sewing,
adult and kid aprons, baby bibs, burp cloths, dolls, anything and everything
that I can think of that might generate income.
I sold several aprons at the last show,

Handmade Aprons
 and the dolls are doing well also.
Handmade Rag Doll
The baby items are a new endeavor for me,
inspired by my great-grand-daughter.

Baby Girl
This little pumpkin and I have been spending
some time together, (read babysitting),
and I do believe God has truly blessed me.
Just look at that sweet smile, kinda looks like the one on the doll!

Well, It's taken me awhile to even get this post published,
many error messages, having to sign off and then back on... several times,

Time to put in that ham.

Till next time,