Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Gingerbread Creations

Last year was my first attempt at making Gingerbread Houses.  We had a party to go to that had a gingerbread house contest.  So each one of my boys decided on a design and we made them.  I used templates for them last year.  My youngest made a little chapel.  Complete with stained glass windows.  Everything on it was edible.  He won first place with it!

The bird house had corn nuts for the shingles, dried cranberries, and popcorn,  Complete with two cardinals to enjoy the house.  My son won second place with his bird house last year.

This year my boys decided on something a little more elaborate.  My youngest kept with the religious them like last year and went from a little chapel in the woods to the manger scene.  I did not have a pattern so I just drew up a pattern used cookie cutters for the star, angles, cow, sheep, and camel.  The people I drew on paper and cut out of gingerbread.  It  is complete with shredded wheat for straw and thatching on the roof, and graham cracker sand.  The shepherd is holding a candy cane.  Which I thought was very symbolic.  Since the candy cane was designed to represent Jesus and the shepherds staff. 

My older son kept with his love for nature and moved on from a bird house to a log cabin that was made complete with fir trees and deer.  The roof is shingled with frosted shredded wheat and the chimney and stone path is made from chocolate rocks.  It turned out great!!  I also did not have a pattern for this and just drew one up.  It is kind of big but it turned out beautiful. 

Their gingerbread contest is on Friday so we will see how they do this year!!  The boys helped cut out, assemble, and decorate their gingerbread creations.  We made them over the course of 3 days.  One day to design, cut out, and bake.  The next day we assembled and let dry over night.  The last day we decorated and put them on the cardboard bases.  We did not have to buy a lot of candy for them which was nice.  I used what I could find in the cupboards except for the chocolate rocks!!  I am sure we will continue to do this every year.  It is becoming a great tradition.  And the boys are already thinking how they can make something bigger and better for next year!!!  For some reason my boys are under the delusion that I can make anything!!!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Cute Neck Pillows!

I make most of my gifts for Christmas.  I have found that most people enjoy a hand made gift more.  They appreciate the thought and the love and time you put in to it.  I made these pillows from left over fabric with a little new fabric.  I am always happy when I use up fabric from my stash.  I used Simplicity pattern # 5310 to make these cute critters. 

Here are the Monkey and Yellow Tiger Cat!!

Here are the Puppy and Orange Tiger Cat!!

These pillows are stuffed nice and firm. They are great for the car or just lounging around.  Home school kids love these to hang around their necks while doing their work and reading.  Their fun playful smile and large paws just add to the whimsical pillow.  I can't wait to give these pillows to the kids I made them for!! They are already wrapped and under the tree!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Recycled Christmas Containers

Can you believe that these cute Christmas containers once held ice cream!!  When we were buying a lot of ice cream in the summer I realized that the Blue Bunny ice cream came in plastic containers.  It not only kept the ice cream fresher it gave me a great idea to keep the containers to reuse for crafts.  I like to give a lot of homemade goodies and it is nice to have free containers to put them into.  Here is what the ice cream container looks like when you buy it from the store.

I did have to paint 2 coats of base paint and then one coat of the sponged on paint to cover the design.  Then I found these rub on decals for 50 cents a pack at our local craft store.  I normally like to paint on my own designs but when I am low on time these decals make for a quick craft.  After I put on the decals I sealed the containers with a coat of matte finish modge podge.  Now I have 7 very nice containers to fill with some homemade goodies!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Canning Venison

Canning venison is very easy and a great way to store that deer that you are your husband shot.  My husband did not get a deer yet our friend's sons both shot a deer and they gave us one of them.  We gladly will take some free meat.  We don't pay to have our deer processed.  My husband has learned how to butcher a deer on his own.  So we no longer have the cost of processing.  We cut out some steaks and froze them.  The roasts I saved back to can.  The rest of the meat was ground up and froze. 

Canning venison makes the meat very tender.  It cooks right in the jar and creates its own juice.  When you open up a jar of venison the meat just falls apart.  This meat is great thrown in with a bag of noodles for venison and noodles or shredded for sandwiches.  It also makes great pot pies!!  Don't throw out the juice from the jar.  It is venison broth!! Yum!!!

Here is how you can venison.  First get the meat cut off the carcase and ready to cut up into cubes.  Thankfully my husband does this job!!! This is the pan of roasts.  The back straps are on the bottom which were cut into steaks!

Now you cut the meat up into 1 inch chunks.  Place them right into clean and sterilized canning jars.  You can add 1 teaspoon of salt for quarts and 1/2 teaspoon salt for pints.  I normally don't add salt to my vegetables when I can but I did add salt to the venison.  Put the salt in the bottom of the jars.  The begin to fill with the venison.  Fill the jars leaving 1 inch head space.  Do not add any liquid.  Clean the rims and adjust lids. I actually filled up my jars the night before.  I did not have time to can them so I put them in the fridge.  They settled a little but still canned up nicely.

Now you pressure can the venison at 10 lbs pressure for weighted gauge and 11 lbs pressure for dial gauge for 90 minutes for quarts and 75 minutes for pints.  The venison cooks right in the jar and creates its own broth!!!  Let  the pressure go back down to zero, then let sit for at least 10 minutes before you open the canner.  Remove the jars and let sit on a towel on your counter until completely cooled.  Check to make sure they sealed.  If a jar does not seal use immediately or put in the fridge to use up with in  a week.  Enjoy!!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Baby Sweater

I finished this sweater and hat last week but I just got the buttons yesterday to finish it up. It is crocheted with a lovely green and blue baby yarn.  This goes to a couple from my husband's work place that are expecting a baby boy in January.  It is a newborn size.  Perfect for having a baby in the middle of the winter!!

These are some of my favorite buttons to use on baby sweaters.  They are Beatrix Potter buttons.  They are so cute and match almost any color I use for a sweater.  They are so soft and pastel looking and you just think "baby" when you see them!!

I love this little stocking hat.  It works up quickly and is just so cute.  It almost makes me want to have another baby.  Almost!!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thanksgiving Rice Krispies Treats!!

These festive turkeys are fun to make and even more fun to eat!! I have made these several times throughout the years and decided to make them for a snack at our church.  They don't take much to make and really aren't that hard to put together. 

Here is what you will need:
Coco Krispies
Chocolate Sandwhich Cookies (such as Oreos) 1 lb package
Candy Corn
Chocolate Frosting

Make up a batch of Rice Krispies treats.  I followed the recipe on the box of Coco Krispies.  It said to melt a 10oz package of marshmallows with 3 Tablespoons of margarine.  Pour over 6 cups of Coco Krispies.  I found it a little too sticky so I added another cup and a half of Coco Krispies.  Shape into 42  balls about 2 inches around.  Let sit on wax paper to harden up a bit.  When they are getting firm compress the balls to make them nice and tight. 

Now separate the sandwhich cookies.  Frost the side where the creme filling is with chocolate frosting.  Place a ball on top of the cookie.  Frost the other half of the cookie on the creme filling side.  Place 4 candy corns on the cookie to look like tail feathers.  Then place the cookie to the back of the ball.  Let the cookie with the candy corn rest on the bottom cookie.  Dip another candy corn in the frosting and place on top of the ball for a head. 
Repeat with the remaining Rice Kripies balls.  Place on wax paper and leave sit for several hours to let harden and to firm up. 

Here is my flock of Turkeys!!

Here is a look at them from the back. 

You might have to watch them when you first make them.  The tail feathers have a tendency to fall off while the cookies are hardening up.  Depending on what kind of frosting you use will determine how well they stay together.  I used a 12oz can of chocolate frosting because that is what I had on hand.  You can use any type of chocolate frosting you have or make your own.  A chocolate royal icing would probably work real well for these treats. 

I haven't made these in a few years and after the first few I realized how important it was to  make sure that the Rice Krispies balls were nice and tight.  They stay together that way and your turkeys won't look so droopy!! 

This is a fun activity to do with your kids.  Although mine were too busy playing with trains and didn't want to be bothered to help make a snack!!

I have used these as place settings for the Thanksgiving table too!!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Canning Beans

Canning dried beans is easy to do.  Even though beans are cheap to buy in a can they taste so much better when you can them yourself.  Plus you can control the ingredients like salt and seasonings.  I buy bags of dried beans.  Today I canned White Northern Beans.  I use these in white chili, soups, and make them into baked beans. 

To start out you take your beans and cover with several inches of water in a large pot.  Bring to a boil.  Take off the heat and cover.  Let sit for an hour.  Drain off the liquid and then fill the pot back up with water covering the beans with several inches of water.  Bring back to a boil.  Remove from the heat.  Using a slotted spoon scoop out beans and fill clean sterilized canning jars 3/4 full with beans.  Then use the hot liquid to fill the jar up leaving 1 inch head space.  Clean the rims with a clean wash cloth.  Adjust lids and process in a pressure canner at 11 lbs pressure for a dial gauge and 10 lbs pressure for a weighted gauge.  Process for 90 minutes for quarts and 75 minutes for pints. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Crochet Capelet

I just finished a crochet capelet that I made for a Christmas gift.  I turned out so pretty and it looks really cute on. 

I used Lion Brand Yarn Vanna's Choice yarn in Dusty Blue.  I used a free pattern off of the Lion Brand Yarn website.  The pattern number is 60728AD.  I added 2 more rows of single chain on the front edge and put on buttons instead of the ties!!  It worked up fast.  I think I might make a few more!!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Feezing Pumpkin

We wanted to get the pumpkin preserved before our first snow hit last week.  So my mom cooked up several and froze them and I took 3 pumpkins and did the same.  Freezing pumpkin is so much easier and more practical than canning it.  You can't puree your pumpkin if you want to can it.  Most recipes use pumpkin puree. 

To start wash your pumpkin and cut in half.  Scoop out the seeds and guts.  Save the seeds to cook for a snack or to plant next year.  Then place your pumpkin halves cut side down on a cookie sheet with a lip or a 9x13 baking pan.

Put in the oven at 375 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for 45 minutes to an hour.  Depending on the size of your pumpkin.  Once they are soft to the touch remove from the oven and let cool enough to handle.

Flip over the pumpkins and scoop out the pulp.  It is easiest to put it in your blender.  Blend until smooth and pour into your freezer containers. 

Put on your lids and pop them into the freezer.  I ended up with 12 cups of pumpkin puree ready to use for future recipes throughout the year!!  I can't wait to make some pumpkin rolls, pies, scones, and fudge!!

I toasted up the seeds afterwards and the boys enjoyed a great healthy snack!!  I cleaned the seeds and rinsed them.  I drizzled the seeds with Worcestershire sauce then sprinkled  with seasoning salt and garlic powder.  Then I toast them at 375 degrees Fahrenheit until they  start to turn brown and toast!!  Yum!!

I am linking to Homestead Barn Hop

Monday, November 7, 2011

Knit Mittens

I have been busy knitting and crocheting again.  Christmas is coming along with cold weather.  I realized that I did not have a pair of gloves so I decided to knit myself a pair of mittens.  I found this lovely free pattern on line.  They are designed after Bella from Twilight.  She was wearing these in the first Twilight movie.  They are so pretty and they whip up so easily.  I got the pattern here .  I was surprised at how fast they whipped up.  I first made a pair for a friend.  And I am glad I did.  I have rather large hands and they mittens did not fit me.  So when I made a pair for myself I repeated the cable pattern once on the hand and added an inch to the thumb.  They fit perfectly and are so warm.  I made them from 100% wool yarn.  I think I might make a few more for Christmas gifts!! 

I love the cable design on the mittens.  They go up close to your elbow so no drafts going in at your wrists!!

They look really pretty on too.  Now I am ready for some cold weather.  Now I just need to knit a hat too match them!!