Saturday, April 30, 2011

Beltane Maypole Free Chart

I'm so late getting this out!  The lateness of Easter this year has totally thrown off my sense of time!

I debated with myself for a long time about the icon I wanted for May Day - the May Pole seemed obvious, but I was also inclined to go with a little nosegay in a basket instead, because that is actually what I grew up with.  I chose the May Pole - it's the more common symbol.  As with the other charts - pick your own colors for this and make it your own.

Not too many people that I know still observe May Day or even know what it is - but when I was a kid growing up in Nebraska, we did.  Not in the neo-pagan sense... I'm not really sure how this custom traveled to Omaha, or if it was widespread in the1960s or simply a regional oddity that came by way of a group of European pioneers to the area that stuck.

But this was May Day as a child - the week before May Day, the little girls would make cone shaped baskets out of construction paper and paper doilies, and then the morning of May Day, pick a few posies - from our mother's garden if we were lucky enough to have a mother who gardened... wildflowers from the field (and oh yes, dandelions were fine!) if not.  The nosegay would go into the basket, and then we would stealthily (or as stealthy as a herd of little girls, giggling madly, can be) hang a basket on the front door of the house of some boy we liked, ring the bell, and run like mad to hide and stay anonymous.

Since we tended to do this as a group, the boy - or his mother - might see the group of girls keeling over in laughter, and still not know who the little admirer was.

It seems in my memory that May Day was our girlish response to what the boys were doing at Valentines - the secret professions of innocent love and admiration, the heart stopping anxiety that he might figure out who you were and not be happy about it - or worse, that he might mistakenly conclude it was someone else and like that just fine.

I wonder now if the boys woke up on May Day morning, hoping and fearing the sound of the doorbell ringing - or if the whole thing annoyed them and simply pleased their mother.  Back then, it didn't really matter - we were just enjoying the cool morning, the flowers, and the not yet understood power of choosing a boy and offering up our girlish selves to them without being too forward about it.

So on another note - I haven't paid a lot of attention to the royal wedding, and then yesterday morning, caught a bit of the crowd on The Today Show and it occurred to me - the timing of this wedding actually works!   In old lore, the marriage of Lord and Lady - King and Queen of the May - is what restores life and prosperity to the land.  I expect most who are excited about this wedding aren't thinking in those ancient terms, but  I wonder if subconsciously, that might not be a part of it... not simple celebrity chasing, but a symbol of hope during difficult times, that a happy pair of royals might translate to happiness in the land?

Monday, April 25, 2011

What's Cookin' This Week: 4/25 - 5/1

After all the cooking I did yesterday, I'm ready to take a day or two OFF - so hooray for leftover potato salad, and cole slaw and tons of ham in my refrigerator.  We'll be enjoying straight up leftovers, and freezing a portion of ham for a meal some other week - and the ham bone to cook up with beans sometime soon!

We didn't get to a couple of last week's meal intentions, so this week's planning is pretty easy:

Ham, Potato Salad, Cole Slaw


Meatball and Mozzarella Stromboli
Spinach Salad with Tangerine Sections

Ham and Cabbage Egg Rolls
Stir Fried Noodles and Veggies


Pasta and Tuna Salad
Fresh Fruit

MAY DAY (Sunday):
Shepherd's Pie
Spring Mix Salad

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Biscornu Giveaway WINNER

Goodness - my week just got totally away from me.  I don't know why it is that I've been cleaning all week and my house looks totally trashed.  Tomorrow, I've got to hurry and put everything away because my daughter and her family are coming over for Easter dinner.

SO much to do tomorrow, ai...

But meanwhile, I tossed names into the randomizer to select the winner of my little biscornu pin cushion - and the winner is ELLE - I'll be shooting you an email to get your mailing info from you, and get that out in Monday's mail.  Congrats!

I do hope to get a post up tomorrow, but in case I don't, happy Easter to all who observe it!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Lucky Me!

Pagan Culture is having a really wonderful Witches in Fiction blog party this month, chock full of blogger fiction to devour and all sorts of giveaways throughout the next couple of weeks. 

So far I have one two -  an e-book by Mike Crowson called Heat Stroke and a signed copy of Delaney Carpenter's The Axe Age.  There are still lots of prizes still coming, all sorts of trinkets and lovelies along with more witchy fiction from a variety of authors, so hop on over and enter!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Full Moon in Libra - Balance Tarot Spread

It's been awhile since I talked about Tarot, but with the Full Moon in Libra last night, I thought it was a good time to share a spread I developed a couple years ago that is useful in figuring issues of balance and fairness.  I mainly use it for conflict resolution readings, although it's also successfully helped me sort out situations where there are conflicting desires, needs, or goals.

 It is meant to look like a scales, pointing toward issues relevant to Libra or to the Justice card.

Libra Balance Spread

1. Person A, or Desire A
2. Person B, or Desire B
3. The tension that exists between A and B.

4. A's perspective.
5. What A needs (to feel satisfied, to feel fairness has been accomplished, possible needed from B)
6. What gives A's perspective weight - why it matters.

7. B's perspective.
8. What B needs (to feel satisfied, to feel fairness has been accomplished, possible needed from A)
9. What gives B's perspective weight - why it matters.

10. Best approach to achieve balance and fairness  for A and B.

Now for a briefly outlined sample reading - this has to do with a couple I know who are struggling financially and arguing a lot.  The husband has a history of job hopping with periods of unemployment in between, and the wife is carrying a lot of anger about this, which tends to come out in harsh words.  In spite of this, they do love each other and their young daughter and would like to understand where the other is coming from - and to be understood as well.

Deck Used: Fenestra Tarot

3 of CUPS - He enjoys socializing far more than he does working.  He's an optimistic, upbeat person who enjoys having fun, sometimes at the expense of more serious obligations. (Note - this card often denotes 'partying', which is not something he regularly does, however, he will put a great deal of time into home brewing projects which has caused issues when his wife is asking him to make needed repairs or to work longer hours)

2. Wife
9 of WANDS - She's in defensive, protective mode, and is getting tired and wounded over the situation.  She believes someone's got to look out for the family's well-being, and it's falling to her to do so.  She is concerned that they will never get ahead because all her energy is going toward just keeping it together, and she feels like she's on her own in that regard.

3. The tension that exists between Husband and Wife
10 of WANDS - this is just plain hard work.  This lack of balance is putting a huge strain on their marriage, and on their ability to enjoy life together.  Instead everything is a big burden to lug around with no end in sight.

4. Husbands's perspective.
PAGE of PENTACLES - Husband feels like he gets around to things, just slowly.  He likes to be hands on, and to take things at his own pace, and when he is engaged in a project, he wants to himself in it, to the exclusion of other priorities.  When he feels pushed, he gets stubborn and slows down even more.  For him, this is about who he IS, so he doesn't want his needs and desires to be negated.  When they argue, he will often say nothing and just wait for the words to subside, and then go back to what he was doing.

5. What Husband needs (to feel satisfied, to feel fairness has been accomplished, possible needed from Wife)
7 of CUPS - Husband feels that Wife has forgotten how to dream and imagine anything beyond the mundane - they used to talk a lot about what they were going to do together, and now it's all just about daily needs.  He needs her to acknowledge his dreams and share her own.  Just as she's handling all the worry, he's handling on the dreaming, and they should be sharing both.

6. What gives Husband's perspective weight - why it matters.
KNIGHT of WANDS - The reason Husband's preference to be a hands on learner who immerses himself in projects , and to be a dreamer matters is because another aspect of his personality is that he only moves when his passion and interest is ignited.  Rather than insisting he turn aside from his hands-on explorations or give up his dreams, these things should be harnessed in a way that has a positive impact on the family's financial situation.  Maybe he should be looking for the sort of work that uses these traits, or his daydreams should be turned to doable goals in order to motivate him.

7. Wife's perspective.
6 of CUPS - Wife wishes it could be as it used to be, when they had fewer responsibilities and there was harmony between them.  Now, though, they have a child, and they need to protect *her* childhood by creating a safe environment for her to grow up in.

8. What Wife needs (to feel satisfied, to feel fairness has been accomplished, possible needed from Husband)
PAGE of WANDS.  Wife needs Husband to pull his characteristics of the PAGE of PENTACLES and KNIGHT of WANDS  together and start learning how to motivate himself to get moving, instead of digging in his heels and not doing anything at all.   She gets that it will take time - she just wants him to start learning how to do it, so that he can grow into the KNIGHT of WANDS eventually.

9. What gives Wife's perspective weight - why it matters.
VII: THE STAR -  This is a biggie... The reason why it is important that she be able to see him making progress toward becoming a more self-motivated ambitious person is because that's where she's put her hopes for the future.  While she's willing to wait and trust that things will get better, she needs to see some signs that things are headed in that direction.  If she loses hope, she's probably going to be done trying.

10. Best approach to achieve balance and fairness  for Husband and Wife.
KING of SWORDS - These two need some guidance from someone more mature than they are who can offer them some objective insight into how to correct the imbalance in their marriage, and how to work together to accomplish their goals.  This card suggests a counselor of some sort is their best bet for fixing this situation.  That this is the King of Swords and not King of Cups indicates to me that the problem isn't so much an emotional one, but rather a matter of problem solving and brainstorming about how to communicate more effectively, rather than getting into the rut they're in now of her using a string of harsh words, and him clamming up and refusing to do anything at all rather than feel 'pushed'.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Frugality Experiment: Homemade Laundry Soap

Reminder: I'm giving away a hand-stitched biscornu pincushion on Friday, April 22.  If you haven't signed up yet, head on over here and leave me a comment!


It's a goal of mine to make an exercise of trying as many methods as I can of reducing costs, reducing my environmental impact, cutting out unnecessary chemicals from my life - and household products are the most direct way I can think of to do this.

So today, I made laundry soap - I won't know until tomorrow when I run a load with it whether or not it works satisfactorily, but here's what I know at this point - the total cost of supplies for this would have run me approximately $3.00 (while overall, it cost more than that, you'll see that a large quantity of detergent takes only a fraction of the supplies... if this works, I've got enough to keep me supplied for months).

So the savings is undeniable - if this gets my clothing clean, I'm way ahead of the game.

So what about the other reasons?

First, environmental impact - I am told this formula is low suds... there is some sudsing, but not too much, and of course it is missing all the stabilizers and scents and binding agents intended mainly to make the degergent look smooth and rich coming out of the bottle.  All of that ends up in our water supply.  And I know from some work done on the pipes here a couple years ago that commercial products have suds so strong that they stay in the pipes for days after they've been flushed through the system - at the plumber's recommendation then, I switched to Arm & Hammer detergent, and it's done me fine.  Now I'm taking that one step further.

Secondly, chemicals - that is one thing I'm looking to see - we've got Borax, A&H Washing Soda, and the Fels-Naptha soap (which, to be frank, did smell and feel mildly caustic - I am wondering if Ivory might be a better answer, and if it would work as well?).  So this part is an open question for me, but without a doubt, there is less going on here than there is with any commercial product.

The time start to finish to prepare this was about 25 minutes - no major issue to spend that much time once a month or so. Here's how I did it:

Homemade Laundry Detergent

1/3 bar Fels-Naptha soap
1/2 cup Borax
1/2 cup washing soda

1.  Begin heating 4 cups of water to a boil.  While the water heats, grate the 1/3 bar of Fels-Naptha soap using a box grater into small flakes.  Be sure to wash hands well after grating... this is a mildly irritating soap.

2.  Once the water boils, begin sprinkling in the grated soap, a couple tablespoonfuls at a time.  Stir constantly - it will begin to suds up and will overboil if not stirred.  Work slowly so that soap dissolves completely.  

3.  Once all the soap flakes have dissolved, lower heat and add 1/2 cup each Borax and washing soda, continuing to stir until completely dissolved.  Remove from heat.

4.  In a very large container (like a clean bucket), pour in 4 cups of very hot water, then add the soap mixture.  Stir, and add an addition gallon plus 6 cups of water and mix well.

Now... this is where I messed up - I had a container I thought would be big enough to use and it quickly became clear it wasn't, by half.  The only container I did have available to me (my bucket not being clean enough to use) was my large stainless sauce pot.  So here's hoping my metal pot isn't ruining the soap  - or that the soap isn't ruining my pot. Oi.  I'll turn the soap out into a couple smaller containers tomorrow and find out.

5.  Last step - set the container aside and let it rest for 24 hours - I'm told that it will gel up to some degree or another - anywhere from a full gel to watery with gel floaters, but either way, it will be ready to use.

The proportions for using this are 1/2 cup of detergent for a load of laundry.  I'll take a final picture tomorrow afternoon to show what it looks like after setting up, and then do a test load of laundry.

Oh - as a nice final bit of frugality - the supplies (other than the Borax, which I already had) didn't cost me a penny, because I was able to purchase  them with giftcards I'd acquired from using Swagbucks.  Considering that laundry detergent has been a budget buster for me in the past, I'm pretty tickled that it may be something entirely free for me for the next few months.

UPDATE:  The first thing I did after waking up this morning was to head into the laundry room and take a peek.  Happy dance - I've got gel! It's about the thickness of jelly, rather than gelatin, and was firmer at the top of my pot than down toward the bottom - but it thickened all the way through, and it was an easy few minutes work to turn it into a pair of plastic containers.  The total amount looks to be a little more than double that of my commercial jug of detergent and the amount to be used is pretty close to the same.

I've run a couple loads of laundry and can't tell any difference at all, other than a lack of scent... which really isn't a bad thing, although I may toss in a little essential oil in a cheery scent whenever it's time to make my next batch, just because I can.

And yes - barring finding out something that isn't apparent yet - I'll be continuing this project and happily saving the $20.00 dollars a month I spend on laundry detergent.

(shared with Saturday Spotlight, Not Baaad SundayShow and Share Day, Weekend Wander, Weekend Wrap Up Party, Whatcha Got Weekend, Check Me Out Saturday, Sundae Scoop Link Party, Sunday Showcase Party, Think Pink Sundays, Show and Share Sunday, Sister Sister Sunday, Amaze Me Monday, Craft-O-Maniac Monday Link Party, SSB's Mad Skills Monday, Made By You Monday, Making Monday Marvelous, Making the World Cuter Monday, Motivate Me Monday, Motivated Monday, You're So Very Creative Monday, Homemaker Monday, Market Yourself Monday, Monday Mania, Running with Glitter Tuesday, Creative Bloggers Party, Nifty Thrifty Tuesdays, Hearth and Soul Hop, Get Your Craft On Tuesday, Anything RelatedHOO's Got Talent?, Penny Pinching Party, Works For Me Wednesday, Make It Yours Day, Show and Tell Wednesday, Whatever Goes Wednesday, We Did It Wednesday, Will See It Wednesday)

What's Cookin' This Week: 4/17 - 4/24

Spring break for Deanna this week, so I'll be needing to make sure my grocery trip tomorrow includes items to make nutritious and easily makable lunches.

We've got plans to make a couple goodies for Easter, and continue our sorting and cleaning efforts, but by and large, I've got to keep grocery costs down in spite of the holiday (or, more specifically, in order to make room for the holiday).  I don't at this point know if I'm hosting Easter dinner for my daughter's family or if it's just the two of us. (Sadly, Michael can't make it out this weekend, which has me more than a little bummed, even though I understand it.)  I'm not too worried about it - if it's just Deanna and me, there will be enough for leftovers... there will be room to stretch to accomodate whoever winds up at the table.

So here's the plan for the week (including Easter Sunday):

Clean out the refrigerator smorgasbord.
We've got lots of odds and ends - salad, cole slaw, red cabbage and apples, some ham and potatoes, some veggies and cut fruit.  I'll be making up a skillet combination of ground beef, mixed beans and brown rice out of some of the leftovers and setting out the rest to get finished off.

This week:
Individual Chicken and Broccoli Pot Pies

Beef Burritos
Refried Black Beans
Brown Rice Spanish Rice
(with Mixed Beans, Tomato, and Chiles)
Lettuce, Tomato, Avocado Slices

Meatball and Mozzarella Stromboli
Caesar Salad
Tangerine Sections

Tuna Pasta Salad
Fresh Fruit
Easter Sunday:
Potato Salad
Deviled Eggs
Strawberry Shortcake

Other Goodies:

Homemade "Peeps" Style Sugared Marshmallows

Chow Mein Noodle "Birds Nests"

Mini "Easter Egg" Jelly Donut Bites

(shared with Meal Plan Monday)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

A bit of Easter stitchery

As I mentioned the other day, I've not don.e a whole lot of sustained stitchery lately because I'm trying to get all the stuff in my house culled and sorted in preparation for moving this summer.  But occasionally, a girl just needs to sit down with a good movie, put her feet and and grab a needle and fabric... at least I do, because if I don't, I wind up reading blogs, and then having to back up the movie 50 times to see what I missed.

These are a few of the little things I've stitched over the last week or two - sometime this week, I'm going to have to get them put together as ornaments.

The pyzanky egg is one of three designs from Prairie Schooler that were posted in the October 2010 issue of Gift of Stitching - very fast to work up, and so pretty!

These little motifs are also Prairie Schooler, all part of the Spring Miniatures pamphlet.  I've got fabric enough to finish the set kitted up and will keep it at hand for a few more weeks.   They'll be able to find a nice place on my seasonal tree all the way 'til summer.

I've also stitched a Christmas ornament - but I can't find the source of the chart and don't want to post it until I can credit it.

That's it for now - the Challenge project I'm currently working on is Country Gallery, but nothing to really show for it because right now it's all one loooooong single row that goes on forever.

While you're here, don't forget to sign up for my 100 Followers giveaway!

Cross Stitch and Cupcakes Giveaway - Wow!

Ok, needleworkers - check out this huge giveaway being offered by Cross Stitch and Cupcakes, in honor of her third year of blogging.  She's got it divided into 5 separate bundles, and each one of them is huge on its own right.  

The first is a fat bundle of assorted Aida textiles, including some huck towels.  The second is a whole lot of linen evenweave. (Drooling yet?)  The third is limited edition box and Santa kit from Mosey n Me and some limited edition packs of floss from The Gentle Arts.  The fourth (yes, there's more!) is a collection of pillow kits (I could count 7 kits) and pillow forms (I counted 5) - that alone should keep someone happily busy for a couple of years.  Finally, the last giveaway package is a bunch of never used pamphets, some of which she already kitted, complete with floss, fabric and embellishments.

Wow!!!  The drawings will be held on Tuesday, April 19th.  Go check it out!

(And while you're at it, don't forget to sign up for my much MUCH smaller little giveaway of a handstitched by me biscornu pincushion.  Thanks!)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Catch up and a GIVEAWAY

I keep forgetting to post a picture of my year-round tree in it's April finery - it's been like this since just before Ostara, and will be up until after Easter.  Nice and colorful (and yes, that's another of my daughter's old tutus acting as a tree skirt).

Things got a bit chilly over the last couple days, but before that there were several glorious (if rainy) days in a row that  I could throw open windows and let some fresh air in.  I've been working through my house a few feet at a time, sorting things... keep?  sell?  toss?

I've culled about 14 boardgames (and kept about the same number - I do like my low tech entertainments).  Most of those were either for children younger than any of mine are but older than my grandchildren, or they were various 'DVD' games, which by and large annoy me, but they're in perfect condition and will go to yardsales.

I managed to cut my cross stitch pattern stash (lots of magazines as well as pamphlets) by about 1/3, which is more than I thought I'd bring myself to do.

I put another three shelves worth of general fiction and nonfiction books into the sell pile.

I found myself unable to let go of a single pagan or tarot related book.  Not one - and these take up five shelves altogether.  I emailed Michael about it, apologizing... "I'm sorry, I can't do it."  We're trying hard to figure out how to make space for all the 'stuff' of two lives - but every single one of 'em made me want to stop and reread right then and there.  

He wrote back that he was 'secretly' (though not very secretly) glad I wasn't getting rid of any of them, because he's looking forward to having that library at his fingertips.  Whew! 

I have a ridiculously large mound of various office supply like things - index cards, tape, post-its, pens (of course!), a few empty three ring binders, book covers, dividers.  I am trying to decide if I just want to box that and hang onto 'just in case' or set up some sort of grab bag of odds and ends for a yard sale.  It's little tiny stuff like this that makes my head hurt when it comes to organizing.

Oh and stationary!  I have a bunch of really pretty writing papers and blank cards I don't use much anymore because my handwriting has gotten atrocious.   I'm probably hanging onto those, though.

So... that's what's had me busy - there has been a bit of stitching in the evenings, and only little finishes.  More or less just a few stitches laid in as a token to the needlework gods.

That said - 100 followers!!  How amazing is that?  It makes me happy every single day to see you all stopping in, dropping me a comment, and otherwise sharing in my daily life.  And I'd like to offer up a little something to say thank you.  My last trip out to Michael's yielded up another biscornu, which I never got around to showing off, and maybe this is why.

This one includes an experiment on my part - I wanted to try tea dying fabric, and so I did just a little scrap of fabric and used that to make this.  Because I'd be in the car for most of this stitching, I wanted to keep it easy - so it's just a couple of flosses, each variagated to give it a little more interest.  The result looks like something that's been hiding away in gramma's drawer for a few decades, doesn't it?  It's about 2 inches across, two sided, with a full pattern on each side, would work nicely as an at-hand pin cushion, or just to tuck on a shelf and look sweet.

So if you'd like a bit of stitchery from me, here's all you need to do:

Be one of my followers on GFC - this is to say thank you to those following along.  Leave me a comment in this post saying letting me know you follow and would like to be entered. Leave an email in this first post so I can contact you! (1 entry)

Additional opportunities:
1. Spread the word!  Blog about this giveaway and leave a comment with a link to your entry. (2 entries)

2.  Tell me about something you have that takes up space but that you just can't let go of. (1 entry)

3.  Tell me a tip about yard sales - what's worked for you? What hasn't? (1 entry)

That's a possible 5 entries, and we'll let this run until Friday, April 22 at midnight EDT.  The winner will be selected at random, and notified both here in a separate entry and by email so I can get their address, and will have 24 hours to respond or I'll pick someone else.

I expect I'll be doing more of these little giveaways as I reach further milestones.  Good luck to you all and thanks again for your support!

(shared with Someday Crafts Giveaway Directory, Giveaway Linky Love Thursday, Thursday Giveaway Linkup, Thursday Giveaway Party, Link 'Em Up Thursday, Thursday Roundup, Giveaways Galore, Thursday Treasures, Link Your Giveaway Thursdays, Link 'Em Thursday, Give It Away Thursday, Thursday Giveawway Linky, Thursday Giveaway Link Up, Thursday Tell-All, Thursday Giveaway Linkup)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

What's Cookin' This Week: 4/10 - 4/16

I'm keeping things fairly simple this week - back to meals that can stand up to simmering on the stove awhile, as Deanna jumps back into practice mode.  Pretty much everything is prep and forget, or just plain fast.  I've a couple easy grab and heat meals in the freezer for nights when it's just me, and will only be cooking four times this week:

Mac and Cheese
Sliced Tomatoes and Avocado


Minestrone Soup
(dried mixed beans cooking today)
Romaine, Apple and Mandarin Orange Salad

Spaghetti with Meatballs
Garlic Toast


Pan-Sauteed Ham Steak
Brown Rice Pilaf
Fresh Pineapple Chunks
Roasted Sweet Potatoes



Saturday, April 9, 2011

Easy Thickened Yogurt and Whey

I've only haphazardly tried making my own yogurt - it's one of those things On My List that I will work into my habit more consistently once I've moved.  But I regularly buy my yogurt plain in one of the large tubs, making sure it's a good one with all the nice probiotics that make yogurt such a good thing to eat.

Usually, I wind up using a bit of it at its normal consistency to cook a meal that would call for yogurt or sour cream, and then follow this process to thicken it up.  My end result is somewhere between thick Greek-style yogurt and commercial cream cheese, and it works great as either a fluffly spread or as the base of parfait (throw in some crunchy granola bits, dried fruit, bits of fresh fruit, nuts, a drizzle of honey and this is an awesome breakfast or dessert.

I've seen instructions for this that call for cheesecloth and hanging it from the kitchen faucet and all sorts of convolutions like that but that sounds just fussy enough for me to rarely bother (my sink gets heavy use - food stuffs hanging out in there would be so beyond annoying to me).

So here's my lazy girl's method of thickening plain yogurt - get one of those middling sized mesh strainers (mine's 6" across) with a lip of some sort on it so it will rest on the edge of a bowl.    The bowl should be deep enough that the strainer allows for at least a couple inches at the bottom - you want to be sure that as the whey drips into the bowl, the strainer doesn't wind up sitting in the whey.

Now, instead of cheesecloth, jus slip a basket style coffee filter into the strainer.  Dump the container of plain yogurt into the coffee filter and... that's it.  Cover it (a clean dish cloth is fine) and pop it into the fridge.

In about 4 hours, you'll have good thick Greek yogurt.  Another 4 hours, and it will be as thick as spreadable cream cheese.

The coffee filter makes it extremely easy to turn it into a container for storage in the refrigerator - the filter can be picked up (carefully so the contents don't fall out), held over the container and one little shake plops the whole thing into the container with very little still left on the filter to be scraped off.

And then, there's the whey - the leftover liquid that has drained into the bowl is a wonderful little bonus - and reason enough to get your 'greek yogurt' this way rather than buying it at much higher cost already thickened.

Pour the liquid into a glass jar (this is a clean spaghetti sauce jar), and keep it stowed in the refrigerator - it'll keep for up to six months at least, although mine never lasts that long.

Whey is an acidic pale yellow liquid that is perfect for adding to dried beans when they're soaking to aid with digestibility, to soak whole grains for the same reason, as a healthy addition to soups or smoothies.  You can even stir a bit of it back into the thickened yogurt if you suddenly have an urge to eat it at its thinner consistency.  I add a couple splashes to whatever I'm making and by the time it's gone, so is my thickened yogurt, so I do all this again.

All of this takes about 10 minutes actual work total, including washing the dishes used, and yields great returns in terms of healthy refrigerator ingredients and in cost savings.  Can't beat that!

(shared with Saturday Nite Special, Whatcha Got Weekend, Weekend WanderCheck Me Out Saturday, Weekend Wrap Party, Show and Share Day, Think Pink Sundays, Not Baaaad Bloghop, Sunday Showcase, Sundae Scoop Sunday, Amaze Me Monday, Craft-O-Maniac Monday, Making Monday Marvelous, Motivate Me Monday, DIY Project Parade, Made With Love Monday, Homemaker Monday, Market Yourself Monday, Midnight Maniac Meatless Monday, Monday Mania, Motivated Monday, You're So Very Creative, Making the World Cuter Monday, Mad Skills Monday, Mouthwatering Monday, Tuesdays at the Table, Tuesday Night Supper Club, Made From Scratch Tuesday, Tuesday's Tasty TidbitsGet Your Craft On, Anything Related, Hearth and Soul Hop, What's On the Menu Wednesday, We Did It Wednesday, Whatever Goes Wednesday, Show and Tell Wednesday, Make It Yours Day, Real Food Wednesday, Works For Me Wednesday, Penny Pinching Party, Hump Day Link Love, Full Plate Thursday, Thrilling Thursday, It's a Keeper Thursday, Strut Your Stuff Thursday, Show Off Your Stuff Thursday, Simple Lives Thursday, Pennywise Platter Thursday)

Friday, April 8, 2011

Giveaway: Kitchen Aid and King Arthur Flour

I know - this week all I'm managing to post is various giveaways that catch my eye - but this is one you want in on.  Foodiacs is holding a sweepstakes this month and the winner will get a Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer, a years supply of King Arthur Flour, and $50.00 for whatever other little doo dads you might need to dive into baking.

I want this so badly - and here's a fun thing.  When you click on this link to go sign up... it increases my odds of winning because if you win, so do I.  And then we can both jump around the room squealing over our good luck! Hah!

So go sign up - and then post about it yourself to increase your own odds know.. you want to just send folks MY way...

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Ghee Giveaway

This is exciting - Renegade Foods is sponsoring a giveaway from Pure Indian Foods.  It is a very generous collection of ghee - the rendered butter that makes Indian food so rich and delicious.  This brand uses butter that comes from grass-fed beef, so this is decadently wonderful, and really good for you too.  This is no little sample, either - the prize package is 2 14 oz jars of plain grass-fed ghee, a sampler pack of 6 1.1 oz jars of spiced ghee (how intriguing is that?), and just for good measure, a 14 oz jar of virgin coconut oil.

Makes my mouth water just thinking of it.  The giveaway is up until April 8 - that's tomorrow, so hurry over and sign up!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

I do not need more needlework stash...

but oooh, I sure would be happy to get some! Check out this huuuuge giveaway by Rhode Island Stitchers - floss, fabric, patterns, scissors - you name it, there's some in there.  It looks like all the patterns are spring or Easter related - lots of bunnies and eggs and general cheeriness to be had, and the floss shades are simply gorgeous.

Do you some more stash? Or looking for a good way to jumpstart a new hobby?  Drop them a comment and you're entered for the drawing, to be held in April 15.  And if you're in Rhode Island, or nearby, they've got some fun events scheduled - go check it out!

Canned Biscuit Jelly Donuts

Michael headed back home today.. just a few minutes ago, in fact and Deanna is home for the first time in days, exhausted and happy after her Drama Club won first place at States competition for their play, "Oz" - they won a nice bit of award money to take it to Nebraska this summer for Nationals!

So.... a bit of 'congrats' needed.. and a bit of a treat before saying goodbye again... and so, I decided to see if I could modify the Canned Biscuit Donuts I made before into homemade Jelly Donuts.

This time I deep fried each biscuit whole, without cutting a hole in the center. And then after they'd had a few minutes to cool, I used a pastry bag set with a wide round tip and filled it with strawberry jelly (you could probably use jam, but I was afraid of a large strawberry clogging the tip. Other good fillings would be pudding, other flavors of jelly, mousse, thickened whipped cream - whatever suits your mood).

I just inserted the tip into the donut and squeezed a bit of jelly into the resulting hole.  I wasn't sure how much to put in, so I wound up injecting each donut twice, once on each side, and that seemed to work out just fine.

Then each donut got shaken in a baggie of either powdered sugar or sugar (I made four of each), and that's that - still very quick and easy.  Clean-up takes longer - this is a pretty messy project.

My verdict - they tasted great and it worked as I figured it would.  The mess while eating makes me think that next time, I'm going to cut each biscuit into quarters, so that the result is more bite sized.  But definitely, this will be repeated - I got high marks from both Michael and Deanna for this idea.

(shared with Weekend WanderCheck Me Out Saturday, Weekend Wrap Up PartyShow and Share Day, Sunday Showcase, Not Baaad Sunday, Craft-O-Maniac Monday, Motivate Me Monday, Made By You Monday, Mad Skills Monday, Making the World Cuter Monday, Making Monday Marvelous, DIY Project Parade, Homemaker Monday, Market Yourself Monday)

April New Moon Tusal and a Challenge Finish

There she is - my little jar of orts is getting quite filed up, and I actually lost a bit because I failed to bring along my little tin to hold my thread snippets while I was away this past week and a half.

Fluffed up, this jar looks full - I tamped it down pretty solidly for the picture.

Today's New Moon is in Aries - a brand new lunar cycle starts now, and I don't know about you, but I feel chock full of ideas and inspirations.  It doesn't hurt that, in spite of some April Fool's Day snow (!!), today its sunshiny and temperate enough that I'm strongly considering telling everyone to throw on a sweater and socks so I can open up the doors and windows and let some fresh spring air in.

Underneath the TUSAL jar is a finish - one of my Challenge projects, this is the Mystery Sampler from The Gift of Stitching, July - Aug 2006.  The variagated red and blue really pop on the oatmeal Aida 14ct.  I'm not sure what I want to do with this - the elongated shape means a bit of a challenge putting it into a frame, and I'm inclined to think it would serve better as a small wall hanging instead.  On the other hand, I keep seeing it padded as a cover for a long thin photo album or... as here, a little runner for a dresser, maybe?  Perhaps a pillow?

That much indecision means I'm not going to finish it at all for right now, but wait to see what space it wants to fill later.

Meanwhile, I've bagged my new pink and purple blackwork commission as a replacement new start, and will begin work on that sometime later this week.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

What's Cookin' This Week: 4/2 - 4/9

Travel weeks always mess up my meal planning dates a bit, so this week's list extends a bit long.  Michael's with us for one more day and Deanna's been out for the last couple days participating at States with her Drama Club.  I think I've seen her for all of 20 minutes total since Wednesday, but it sounds like they are doing really well.  Closing ceremonies today, so I think she'll be home for dinner.

She's developed a dislike of beans (!!!  Tragic!), so I took advantage of her absence to make Michael and I a big pot of chili on Thursday, and then yesterday we had chili salad with the leftovers (basically, Taco Salad with leftover chili instead of taco meat).

Here is what I'm planning to cook this week - the Chicken Mole with Yams is tonight... the rest will be sometime during the next week once I sort out schedules.


(This was really tasty, and the leftovers make for great wraps for lunch.  I can't believe it's possible to get a decent mole taste without a thousand fussy ingredients!)


(by special request of the daughter's boyfriend - family favorite here)


Greek Chicken

Slow Cooker Creamed Chicken and Corn Soup
(from Simple Slow Cooker Recipes)
Salad with Apple and Tangerine Slices
Honey Lemon Juice Dressing

Pork and Gravy over Noodles
Sauteed Apples
Red Cabbage Salad



Lavender Sugar 
(from Fix, Freeze, Feast)

 Freezer Jam

(shared with Menu Plan Monday)