Friday, July 31, 2009

The Versatile Candy Necklace!

Oh, yeah, baby! They are not just for dangling on necks!!!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Homemade Vanilla - Easy As Can Be!

Pure vanilla is expensive! This simple recipe will save you from gasping when you see the price at your local supermarket. You can look online and discover an array of recipes, but mine is by far the easiest! And, by the way, if you are thinking about Christmas gifts, as I am, then begin this now, and it will be ready for delighting all your friends in December!

This recipe needs three things: Vodka (I use cheapest, but I might break down and actually try a brandy recipe someday), vanilla beans (I get mine either from E-bay or World Market), a jar that seals (and it would be nice if it had a spout, as they have at World Market).

All you have to do is push the beans (I started with four beans, there were two in each packet I bought) in the clean jar, pour the vodka to the top, shake, put in kitchen cupboard. Each day, gently shake, to awaken the beans. In 2 -3 weeks you have yourself a very fine pure vanilla!

After that initial process, when the bottle gets down about a third of the way, top it off again with vodka. After time goes by...months, perhaps... add more beans if the extract looks too weak. That's it!

For the purposes of this blog, I emptied my bottle of vanilla and all the beans, and started over. I've had the same bottle, with the original beans, plus all the ones I've added over the years, and it just now got weak (because I neglected to fill it up till it was almost empty.... Hey, it does take many seconds to fill a jar, ya know!).

Now.... back to Christmas gifts. IT'S NOT EITHER TOO EARLY TO THINK ABOUT IT! You know how stressed you get at Christmastime, that most wonderful time of the year, when joy is supposed to lift your hearts heavenward? Well, I am hereby helping you! If you make a humongous jar of vanilla and set it back on a shelf and forget it for the next five months, then when December rolls around, all you have to do, my friend, is run into Michael's with your 50% off ribbon coupon, buy darling red ribbon and little glass bottles, then fill the bottles, hug that bow to the neck, and say to your friends, "Merry Christmas!" And you'll mean it, cuz you will be merry that you were so smart to have started in July!

You're welcome!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Catch Your Mintues!

Time goes, you say? Ah no!
Alas, Time stays, we go.
~Henry Austin Dobson

I like the quote above, but one thing is not so certain, and it's this: I do not always fit into the "we go" category. I can waste time with the best of them, and when I do, I'm not going anywhere... just staring off into space, woolgathering, as they used to say back in the day, or skipping my fingers across the keyboard, jumping from one blog to the next, not going anywhere, except with my brain. When this happens, time goes... without me...and my chores pile up and my creative juices remain clogged.

But not today! :)

The plan came to me fresh from arising off my cushy pillow, and here it is: clean only 15 minutes of every hour, and during the other 45 minutes, sew, read, create, dream, imagine, blog... This is quite the opposite of my norm. There is always so much to DO, that I can rarely find any leftover time for the joys of life. It's been bugging me that I work and work AND WORK, and yet, the to-do list elongates with the doing. Ever notice that (or is it just at my house?)?

So, this morning, I am putting my foot down and am reclaiming my time! Every minute counts today... and I am going to catch my minutes and make them work for me - for creating and accomplishing and dreaming and growing and laughter and freedom and play... uh...and maybe give myself a pedicure! :)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Starch Method Hand Applique

Ever wanted to know a good process for hand applique? I did, and took a class. This is pretty simple, so let me see if I can explain it....

1. Take two pieces of freezer paper (large enough for your templates) and with waxed sides down, iron them together. This makes one sturdier piece.
2. Glue template to top of freezer paper (unwaxed side).
3. Cut your template (this one is a leaf that will go on that vine I showed you a few blogs ago, when I made that bias tape). Now, be sure to cut your template on the line. In my picture, mine is not cut on the line, 'cuz I lost my head. However, I did catch my mistake and fixed it.

4. Cut a piece of fabric a bit larger than your template.
5. Iron the template (waxed side down) onto the WRONG SIDE of your fabric piece.

6. Cut around template, leaving 1/4" seam allowance.

7. Using liquid starch (store bought {Mary Ellen's Best Press} or homemade {1/4 cup Sta Flo liquid starch + 3/4 cup water}), paint around the 1/4" seam allowance. You want to get it on enough to be effective, but not so much that it seeps under the edges and dislodges the wax from holding the template onto the fabric. Do small sections at a time, as you iron as you go.

8. Iron the 1/4" seam allowance that you've starched over the template (bringing the right side of the fabric over the template). If using a steam iron -- BE CAREFUL! Dry irons are safter for your fingers, when turning the fabric.

9. Okay, here is the backside of my leaf. It might look finished, but it's not. See the arrows pointing to the creases? You will want to iron those out as best you can, using a stiletto or your fingers. If you skip this process, no one will die, but your leaf or whatever will not be smooth on the front side. I'm just beginning to learn, so mine still are not perfect (as you can see below, where the leaf is right side up).

10. The top and bottom edges of the leaf will have to be trimmed way down and fray check added, to keep the raw edges from raveling.

11. After your leaf (or whatever) is all nice and ironed smooth, PULL THE FREEZER PAPER AND TEMPLATE OUT, glue it in place on your fabric with the tiniest drop of Glue Baste (like, smaller than a pin head). That will hold it in place instead of pins, and keep you from being poked or the pieces from moving around.

That's it! How you sew them on is this: carefully! You want to barely catch the edge of the fabric with your needle. Matching thread counts!!! The whole idea for beautiful applique is to not have any of your stitches showing. This takes practice, so be patient.... and keep trying - like me! :)

Or... I suppose you could just glue every single piece and just never wash it. lol

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

It is a good thing to have Scripture hanging around your house. This colorful "jotter" reminds me of a beautified index card flip over. Have you ever seen those? This one is from Dayspring, and I bought it months and months ago, discovering it only a few days ago, sitting all lonesome-like in one of my back desk drawers. Now it sits on top of my desk, and my first entry in it is from 2 Kings 18:5-8, from the Message version.

In Bible study a few years back, we studied 1 & 2 Kings, so I know I read these verses, but you know how the Word is - fresh and alive and active! Ancient, but new all the time!

So this time, I loved that King Hezekiah put his whole trust in the Lord. And it wasn't easy, as if he was outside in his well-manicured garden, sipping mint juleps while servants massaged his feet. No! The Assyrian king was riding him hard, taunting him and carting his people off. Just like when we are surrounded by trials! This is where faith is tested, and Hezzy's whole heart went into trusting the God of Israel, who keeps Israel (and us) and never sleeps nor slumbers.

Also, that verse (in the second picture above) says, "He held fast to God - never loosened his grip." It's not always easy to hang on for the duration. Sometimes, I've been known to allow doubts to loosen my grip; but not that king! Oh, and the verse ends with "And God, for His part, held fast to him through all his adventures." Jehovah did not leave King Hezekiah alone for a minute!

I wrote this as my first verse in my cute jotter so that it could stare me in the face...and hit my heart, again and again, as a reminder to grip with all my might onto Jesus!

Oh, and the cool thing about this jotter is that it's your own personal verse journal, each one telling a story of God's faithfulness when you were weak, weary, joyful, trusting... You flip through in future years and be reminded how God got you through this life! Fun!

Let me know what your first verse will be!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Be Encouraged: YUM YUM!


I discovered this from one of my girlfriends. Being one in love with Starbuck's old-fashioned donuts, I'm printing up this coupon and showing up for my freebie, first thing Tuesday morning. If the Starbuck's I go to isn't one of the participating ones, then I'll just have to sip the mocha latte as a comforting solo act! :)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Squash It Now!!!

(IMPORTANT!!! I do not control the content of the Google Ads on the left side of my blog. This morning's had one - How Jesus REALLY saves - and I clicked on it. IT IS NOT TRUTH!!! If you have any questions about it, let me know, and I'll answer from God's Word. Thanks.)

In November 2004 I came upon a Butternut Squash Soup recipe. It is probably the only squash I had never tried, but the picture in the Real Simple magazine looked so tempting, that I ventured forth where this cook had never gone before -- and have been going back to ever since! :)

First, I want you to look at this picture and see if it tempts you to attempt a go at it, too (click on the picture so you can see it up close and personal):

What do you think? Got your mouth hankering for a slurp? (P. S. YOU MUST MAKE THE CROUTONS TO GO WITH IT!!! THEY ARE BETTER THAN A CHERRY ON TOP!)

Now, here's the thing: Butternut squash is not cheap. It's not as expensive as a Mercedes or anything, but not as reasonably priced as zucchini, either. So, naturally, I decided to grow my own this year - from seed, since I could not find any Butternut plants to purchase. Look how beautiful they are!

The reason why I entitled today's blog, Squash it Now!!!, is because if you would like to eat all the Butternut Squash Soup your heart desires this fall, for practically no cost, then get your seeds planted, right away! (Same with pumpkins! Ideally, July 4th is the day to plant pumpkin seeds for October's porches to be covered with Jack-o-Lanterns.) Also, the recipe calls for sage. Buying those little packages of fresh sage leaves adds up, so I also planted a sage plant. I hope it grows up to be a bountiful adult, because right now it is being a bit of a rascal.

Anyhoo, in the meantime, till these two plants produce a succulent soup crop, I am buying Butternuts and adding them to my own garden's bounty. They brighten up and add sweetness to my roasted veggies.

All you do to make this scrumptious & healthy side dish is...

  • Preheat oven to 400.
  • Cube your veggies. I included zucchini, yellow crooked-neck, red onion, peppers, red bell peppers, and Butternut squash.
  • Drizzle olive oil over the veggies.
  • Add salt and pepper.
  • Roast, uncovered, for 15 minutes.
  • Open oven and flop veggies over.
  • Roast for another 15 minutes, till tenderly caramelized.

  • The first time I made this soup, I roasted the Butternut and yellow onion as they said. I pulled them out of the oven, and using a fork, reached down and stabbed one for a try. Ooooooo-laaaa-la! Like potato chips, I could not stop at just one! That first batch of soup almost didn't get made, because the roasted squash and onions were so sweet and yummy! So, beware! :)

And one more important thing to squash now -- feelings that rival God's truth! I know how sometimes our feelings seem more real than anything else. In times like those, it is especially important to squash them -- before they grow in magnitude and cause our faith to shrink!

Grab your Bible, open it up and read and read! Offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving, that His word is truth (John 17:17), and that our God cannot lie. He never changes! We can trust Him. If His word says it, it is truth and is real-ler than real, no matter how we may feel at the moment!

"All your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal" (Psalm 119:160).

Sow, go plant seeds of faith into your circumstance and Butternut squash seeds into the ground! :)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Farmer's Market Fiesta

There's one thing I look forward to every Saturday morning - hitting the local Farmer's Market! You never know what will be available each week, so it's like a big surprise. One of my favorite finds is figs. They are a rare treat for my palate (wish I owned a whole grove)! Anyhoo, I just returned from my morning's spree, and I had a blast.

Amongst my finds today were some greenish eggs! I've seen brown ones, but green ones? Never! Apparently Dr. Suess knew all about them!

You get to meet and chat with some very interesting people, too. The man in the top picture sold raspberries and lavender and all kinds of things you would not normally have in your own garden (and especially one as rebellious as mine is this year!). He handed out Raspberry Pie recipes, which I thought was extremely smart thinking! Here it is (let me know if you try it, because I haven't given it a go, yet):

Farmer's Market Raspberry Pie

3/4 cup sugar 2 cups egg whites
2 cups raspberries (fresh or frozen; the man above prefers you buy fresh) :)
1 teaspoon vanilla 1 tablespoon lemon juice
Dash salt 1 cup whipped cream
1 pie crust, baked

Combine all the ingredients, except whipped cream and pie crust. Beat 15 minutes, till nice and thick. Fold in the whip cream and pour it all into the baked crust. Place in freezer until ready to eat. Then....slice and serve and say "Yum!".

Afterthought: It was brought to my attention that 2 cups of egg whites is a lot. lollolol. It sure is. So, if you try this recipe, better start with 2 eggwhites and work your way up...if necessary.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Lose & Tone Update!

Back in May, I wrote my first Lose & Tone blog ( This second one is to update you on how that original plan is working for me - GREAT!

No dieting. No regimented gym-going. Instead, I decided to take a deep water interval class at this fun pool here in town. Usually, I drive by and enjoy looking at its sparkling waters, longing to frolic in one of their two huge pools, but this time, I took the plunge and just pulled right in and signed myself up! It was the best decision of my life!!!

Our class is in the deepest of water, so we buckle a thick blue belt around our waist, that keeps us afloat. We use dumbbells made for the pool, and those work our arms like crazy. Burn, baby, burn! Or rather, tone, baby, tone! Sometimes we get to "traveling". This means we use our legs and arms to push or pull us from one end of the long pool to the other. It works those muscles!

The women out there get to blab, my friend Celina joins me and we get to chat, and all the while we are toning and building muscles. It's great!

So, my mini goal for the summer was to lose 7 pounds each month (June, July, August). In June I made that goal. Then... fourth of July weekend showed up, with all its potato salad and homemade ice cream bursting forth like fireworks, and I gained back a lot of that. (So maddening how it takes a month to lose and one milli second to GAIN!!!) But, I am still plugging away, not letting it detour me from having fun this summer, while losing and toning.

By the way, scales are not everything. All that swimming and walking and riding to the mailbox are having a victory of their own, because I am losing inches - and am able to wear shorts and tops I have not worn for years!!!! Hooooray!

Inch-by-inch and we will be able to cinch in those belts! Keep at it! We still have two more summer months to have fun losing and toning!!! Good luck!

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Mary, Martha, Inbetween.....OH MY!

I used to be a Mary. Hours could go by and I would still prefer sitting on my bed, Bible and ears open, MontBlanc pen at the ready, and a fresh page of my journal waiting to be filled. Spending time with Jesus was all I wanted to do (well, mostly).

Then.... I changed.

That taskmaster Martha has shown up with a vengeance and keeps me so busy that the Mary in me has disappeared into oblivion. Where, oh, where did she go?

I think the Lord misses me.

No, I know He does.

He created us for relationship...not with our endless to-do lists, but with Him, the living, loving God Almighty. It really is amazing that He desires our companionship!

So, though there's lawns to be mown, lemons to be squeezed, nuts to be cracked, baby quilts to be sewn, vacuuming, sweeping, mopping, scouring.... I am choosing to put Jesus first, before all of those... well, AFTER I hang the load that just got done washing...

"but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her" (Luke 10:42).

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Just Like Laura Ingalls!

From this.... this... this...
Dill Pickles, my very first-ever-ever attempt.

Bread & Butter Pickles, my very first-ever-ever attempt, also.
These I have tasted, and they are goooooooooooood!!!

Marinated Cucumber Salad

2-3 Armenian cucumbers, thinly sliced (regular cukes can be used but they get too soggy)
1 medium onion & bell pepper, thinly sliced or chopped small
1 Tablespoon salt (I use waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay less so that I don't die of a heart attack)
2 teaspoons celery seed, 3/4 cup sugar (or substitute), 1/2 cup white vinegar

Merely mix them all up in zippered baggie and let them marinate a couple hours. Voila!

Though all in the picture are made from Armenian cucumbers (I love the cute scalloped edges), I do have a plant of regular pickling pickles growing. None have shown up yet, but I'm not giving up yet. If they do grow, I found a blue-ribbon-winning recipe online I will try. Maybe I'll even enter them in the fair --- which would be another first-ever-ever! (Have you ever entered anything in the fair?) this...

All these pictures of pickles got me to remembering times I myself have been in a pickle. Do you know what I have done? I called out to God, like crazy!

"Mercy," I begged!!!

His undeserved mercy falls on us, always, one way or another. It's mercy when He sees that it's best for us to marinate in the juices of the pickle we've gotten into. And it's His mercy when He quickly plucks us out, if that is best for us. God's mercy endures forever; and surely goodness and mercy follow us all the days of our lives.

Next time you find yourself in a pickle, don't just sit there stewing in your own juices - call on the name of Jesus! Run to the throne room where you will find mercy and grace to help in your time of need ( there really any time we don't need our gracious God?) Hebrews 4:16.

"Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever" (Psalm 136:1).

"The LORD takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His mercy" (Psalm 147:11).

...such bliss!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Encouraging For You

Good Morning!

Way back in January 1994 the Lord had a plan, and early one chilly morning, while I was still lazily nestling in the arms of my ever-cozy bed, He shared His idea with me - write a newsletter, sharing about Him in the experiences and situations of my every-days.

See, at that time, we had just been scooted up to a small town, Kingsburg, a whole 86 miles from a slew of beloved friends. It was a move I did not want. How I pouted! We are to consider it all joy when we encounter various trials, but I was failing in this. And it was smack-dab in the middle of this move when Jehovah shared His brilliant brainchild with me.

It was very smart of Him! As my speaker friend, Debbie Alsdorf, used to tell women about me, she'd say that I took all my lemons and squeezed out some refreshing lemonaide through my newsletter (or something like that). God knew what He was doing!

Though I've missed a few months here and there, I've kept writing ever since. That's a long time - just over 15 years! But then, there is so much to tell about our great Jehovah, and so many lessons I must learn .... and share! :)

Anyhoo, if you would like to receive it snail mail or email, just send either address to this email address of mine: If you click on the newsletter above, it will appear really big, and you can actually read it (from November of last year).

"But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called "Today," so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin" (Hebrews 3:13 NAS).