Friday, December 7, 2012

Sweet Cereal Mix - a family favorite

This sweet cereal mix has become one of my family's favorite treats. It is perfect for a tailgate party, movie night  or after school snack.  It is good anytime of the year, but something about making it around Christmas makes it even more irresistible! 

The recipe is super simple!
2   12 oz boxes of Crispix cereal
1   cup whole almonds
1   cup pecans
1   cup cashews
14 Tablespoons butter or margarine
2   cups brown sugar
1   cup light corn syrup
1 1/2 Tablespoon vanilla
*  I realize the ingredients for this recipe can be quite costly, but it is sooo good it is worth it.  Watch for sales at the grocery.
Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.

Mix the first four ingredients together in a large container and set aside.  In a small saucepan heat the next three ingredients.
Boil 1 minute, stirring constantly, 
remove from heat and add vanilla.  Stir.

Pour over cereal mixture and stir until well coated.

 Spread into a large roasting pan coated with cooking spray.
Bake for 1 hour.  Stir every 15 minutes.

Spread on wax paper to cool.

Irresistibly sweet & delicious!

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Saturday, December 1, 2012

Candle Make Over

I used to make my own candles all the time, but for some reason I got away from it.  I guess I found other, more exciting things to create! Needless to say,  I still have a lot of candle making supplies up on the shelf. So when I found these "damaged" candles at the Pottery Barn Outlet for $1.00 each, I decided I could easily give them a Candle Make Over and use up some of the wax I had.

If you don't have crafters candle wax, you can melt down all the old half used candles you have in the cupboard.

* an old crock pot
* candle wax or several half used candles
* grundge - cinnamon, cloves, various small seeds (poppy seeds, sesame seeds, flax seeds, etc. anything will work)
* an old pan (I use a disposable pie plate)
* old spoon (optional)
* scent (optional)

To begin, fill your crock pot with wax and or old candles.  Turn the crock pot on high and wait for the wax to melt. If you do choose to melt down old candles, once the wax has melted remove the wicks with tongs or a spoon.  Also add your candle scent at this time if so desired.

While the wax is melting, set up your work area.  I work on the floor in my basement, but you may want to set up a table with newspaper and perhaps a drop cloth on the floor. 

 Also at his time you will want to make your grundge.   I pour cinnamon and a variety of small seeds into a pan and mix it all together.  You will need a lot more cinnamon than seeds.  I don't measure, but just guessing I would say 1/4 cup cinnamon and 1 tablespoon of several different types of seeds.

Once the wax has melted take a small amount of wax and pour it over the grundge mixture.  Remember the wax is hot.  Use a small cup or ladle to get the wax.

Working quickly, mix the wax and grundge together.  If you notice I use my fingers.  Yes, the wax grundge is hot, but I am moving fast and for some reason I can tolerate it.  But, you make want to use an old spoon for this step.  Apply just enough grudge to cover a small area of the candle at a time.  

Once you get some wax on the candle, again moving quickly, firmly pat the grundge tight against the candle until it begins to stick.  Keep applying more grudge until the entire candle surface is covered.  You may need to mix up more grudge before you get the surface of the candle covered and that is ok.

When your candle is completely covered in grudge and you are satisfied with the way it looks, set it aside to harden.  Once the wax has dried you can add burlap or ribbon to the outside.  Of course if you do add embellishments to the outside be careful when burning your candle.  Remove any embellishments before the candle burns down too far.

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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Sweet Potato Cinnamon Bread - just in time for the holidays

If you ever visit South Western Ohio I highly recommend you make a stop at Young's Jersey Dairy in Yellow Springs. It is kinda like a dairy farm on steroids   They not only raise dairy cattle and make their own ice cream, but they have turned their farm into a fantastic family fun center.  Complete with  petting zoo, ice cream parlor, putt putt golf, batting cages, driving range, two restaurants and more.  They have delicious ice cream and great food.  Recently a friend shared with me their amazing recipe for Sweet Potato Cinnamon Bread with Honey Butter. It is a perfect treat for any holiday dinner (breakfast, lunch or snack too!).

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Sweet Potato Cinnamon Bread

3/4 cup softened butter
2 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cup sweet potato puree
2 eggs
2 1/2 flour
3/4 tsp ground nutmeg
3/4 tsp ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 TBSP ground cinnamon
1 1/2 dashes of ground cloves
1/2 cup water

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. The recipe tells you to cook 1 medium sweet potato to make into the puree, but I cheated and used a can of candied sweet potatoes and pureed them in my food processor. (Of course, you can use left over sweet potatoes from your Thanksgiving dinner.)

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy; stir in sweet potato puree and eggs. Sift together flour, salt, nutmeg, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon and cloves. Stir half the ingredients into creamed mixture, stir in water, then remaining dry ingredients.   Ok, that is how the recipe tells you to do it, but I just throw everything in the bowl and beat it with an electric mixer until smooth.

Spray loaf pans with cooking spray.

The recipes says it makes 1 loaf or 12 muffins.  I was able to make 2 loaves.  
Bake at 375 for 35-40 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.

Now onto the amazing 
Honey Butter

1/2 cup softened butter
2 TBSP honey
1/2 tsp Cinnamon

Put all ingredients in a bowl, using a mixer, beat ingredients until very light and fluffy.

Serve on warm Sweet Potato Cinnamon Bread 

 Delicious and Irresistible!!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

ThRiFt StORe SwEaTeR = LoOp ScArF in 3 easy steps

The other day my daughter and I stopped in an Ann Taylor Loft store to check out their latest winter fashions.  I fell in love with several of the Loop Scarves they had, but couldn't imagine paying $39.99 for half a sweater.  So I came up with my own version from a sweater I bought at the thrift store.

When shopping at the thrift store I looked for a sweater that was a little bulky and had a nice texture. The sweater I bought was a size M and I figured that would make a big enough scarf for me. I suppose the size sweater you buy depends on your size and how much bulk you like around your neck. A sweater with a long torso that is not too wide will make a nice bulky loop scarf

3 Easy Steps to the Perfect Loop Scarf

1.) Find the perfect sweater at the thrift store, garage sale or even an old sweater in your closet.

 2.) Cut the sweater straight across under the arms.

3.) Finish the cut edge. I folded over the cut edge and ran a zigzag stitch along it just to keep it from raveling. You could also do a slip stitch or blanket stitch by hand, use fray check, or leave it if you don't think it will ravel.

There you have it -  my version of a $39.99 loop scarf for $2.99.
3 Easy Steps - gotta love it!

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With this scarf I did a slip stitch with embroidery floss around the cut edge.  I like it much better than the machine finish.

The fabric of this sweater was ideal for a loop scarf.  No edge finish was needed.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Drought of 2012

This year our country experienced one of the worst droughts of our lifetime.  Yes, it was hot and dry and miserable for the average person.  Everyone seemed to complain a little, well, maybe a lot.  Even tough we complained, we knew rain would eventually come and the seasons would change  (and boy did the seasons change - it's the end of October and we have snow already!)

During those hot, miserably dry days of summer, did you ever stop and think about how the drought would effect you and your family in the long term?  Those who make their living off the land - raising crops and livestock - sure did.

Every spring we (farmers) plant our crops and pray that God blesses us with the needed rain to germinate the seeds and grow our crops.  Farmers are people of great faith.  You see, once a farmer plants his seeds he has to rely on God to provide the sun, rain and warm temperatures necessary for the seeds to grow.  Of course the farmer must continue to care for the crop as it grows - helping to nourish it with fertilizer and keep weeds from choking and stealing nutrients. But they must still depend on God for the proper weather to make it all work.

So what did this years drought do to the crops?  Take a look at the following pictures of field-corn and see for yourself.

These ears of field-corn are typical of a good crop - full ears, even kernels, at least 8 inches in length. 
These ears of corn were harvested from a crop planted in rich black soil which is better able to hold water. This type of soil is still able to produce some pretty typical ears of corn even in a drought.  
A field with ears of corn like these will produce enough food to feed our family plus about 150 other people around the world.

This corn is typical of drought damaged corn.  These ears were harvested from a field of corn planted in clay soil which has very limited water holding capacity, so in times of drought the corn is very stressed and unable to grow properly. 
A field with these ears of corn will barely produce enough of a crop to feed my family. 

Although many farmers had significantly less crops to harvest this year, we are Blessed as a nation,even in a drought year, to be able to still feed our country and the world. 

While we may have to pay a little more for food this year, there will still be enough to go around.  

Be sure the thank a farmer today!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Recycled Gift Tags

Home made gift tags - super easy and cheap too!

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Another great garage sale find -  a set of cards from a Rolodex. When I saw them at the sale I immediately thought of "gift tags."   I paid 25 cents for a bundle of about 100 cards. 

To make the cards a little more interesting I decided to coffee stain them.  It is fairly simple.  I mixed up a batch of instant coffee and quickly dipped each card in the coffee.

I placed the cards on a microwave safe dish.  Layering them is fine - I try and get as many done at one time as possible.

Microwave on high for a minute. The edges will begin to curl as they dry. 

After a minute I flipped them over and put them back in the microwave for another 30 seconds (be careful they will be hot and steamy).   I continued to microwave them in 20-30 second intervals until they were almost totally dry.

Now the fun began.  My friend Anne and I gathered up a variety of scrap-booking supplies and headed over to visit our friend's sister, Wanda,  who was home bound after having ankle surgery.  We spread out the supplies and went to town creating a variety of gift tags.  Once we came up with a design we developed an assembly line to make the process go more quickly.

Here's what we came up with.....

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In just a few hours we made over 150 gift tags and we helped Wanda's afternoon go more quickly. 

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As an after thought, Anne made some of her tags into cards!  Love it!