Saturday, July 31, 2010

PERFECT PARTYING

Good morning and welcome to this super Saturday edition of The Frugal Mom. How are you doing today? I'm tired, excited, nervous, you name it all wrapped into one! But it's a good thing! Today is Madison's Sweet 16 Party and it should be very fun!

Now since I am focusing on the Christmas challenge, I found an article with some tips concerning Frugalness and Christmas and figured I had to share.

10 Steps to Make Christmas Affordable and Fun
by DeAnn Curtis

1. Keep your focus on Christ. Spend time remembering why we have Christmas each day. Read scripture. Light a candle in honor of Christ. Put out a nativity scene for the whole family to enjoy. It can even be one that the children make.

2. Spread your celebrating out over the whole season. We begin our Christmas celebrating before the begining of December and keep at it until Three King's Night on January 5. We make Advent calenders in November to use all during December. We put out stockings or boots the night before St. Nicholas Day. We celebrate Jesus' birthday on Christmas Eve with a birthday cake.

Then on Three King's Night we read stories about the three kings that came to visit Jesus. We also read about other people around the world and the ways that they celebrate. Spreading out the holiday spreads out the expense of celebrating, helps keep the focus on Christ and helps us to avoid the big let-down that some people feel when Christmas is over.

3. Give of yourself. By giving your time and energy at Christmas, you will help your family to take their focus off of themselves. It will also make it easier to feel grateful. No matter what you have or don't have, someone has less. Give to them. You could read to older people, go caroling, bake some cookies and visit with some lonely people. Donate some of your extra stuff cluttering up your house to a charity or volunteer in any other way that fits your family.

4. Remember your traditions. The warm feelings at Christmas come from being together and doing things together. Not just from the gifts that are hiding under the tree.

5. Feed your senses. Overeating at Christmas is easy to do. But by feeding all of your senses during the holiday, your diet doesn't have to suffer.

The sense of sight can be fed a menu of Christmas lights, snowy mountains, a freshly cleaned home, candles lit at night and smiling faces.

The sense of hearing should be fed a steady diet of Christmas hymns, children's laughter and pleasant conversation.

The sense of touch will be comforted with extra blanket throws on the couch, warm slippers and snuggly hugs from cheerful children. But don't forget to excite it with a good snowball fight too.

The sense of smell will feel right at home during the holidays if you remember it too. Light scented candles, simmer some potpouri, bring in some pine boughs for decoration and ok bake a few batches of cookies. But, if they are not on your diet you could always give them away.

6. Start a new tradition. Talk with your family and come up with some new traditions. Maybe you want to have a cookie exchange, a singing party, a decorating party for the grandparents or a neighbor, a walk through a snowy park or a maybe progressive dinner. Try to pick something that everyone can afford to do.

7. Use your community resources for free or low cost activities. Do your children belong to a scouting club? Be sure to take part in those activities. They are usually planned to be affordable. Go to your community parades. Play in a snowy park if you don't have a big yard. Visit the library for special books to read during the holidays. Attend school or church concerts or plays.

8. Cook up some memories. Even if you are on a diet, you can still enjoy special holiday food. Cook traditional foods that your mother and grandmothers cooked when you were a child. If you can't find a recipe, you will probably be able to find one on the internet, or in a cook book.

Bake several batches of cookies. Serve some hot cider or cocoa after a day of being out in the cold. You could also hold a tea party for your children, extended family, neighbors or anyone else. It feels so good to take a break and relax with a cup of tea and a cookie.

9. Play together. Spending time playing with your children will make the holiday so much brighter for the whole family. Gifts from last Christmas will still be cherished if you find the time to play together with them. Have a game night. Play as many games in a night as you can. Or you could have a tournament night. Play checkers until the champion is determined. Sit down with the kids and build a fantastic new creation with their Legos or play with their doll house with them.
10. Make gift giving count. Give gifts that you know people want. It is less costly to buy the right gift for someone that you know they will enjoy, than it is to just buy gifts to fill up your list. You can also save money on gifts by giving things that will really be used and are needed.

Think about stuffing stockings with school supplies, hair care items, small items of clothing, a tooth brush, a paperback book or a magazine. If you can't afford to give everything to everyone, consider getting your children started on a collection. Maybe your could buy them the first book in a series of books and buy more for them as gift giving holidays come up.

Or buy your children some group items. Perhaps you want to buy them a set of action figures and can't afford to give them each a big set of toys but you feel you have to be fair. Well, you could get them each one action figure and together they could receive a large part of the set. Of course this works with girls too. Together they could receive a doll house and separately they could each get an extra thing to go with it.

Remember, however things work out at your house this year, it is the love and the joy that the children will remember. Think back to how you enjoyed the pains your own parents took to make Christmas special. You probably don't remember what each gift under the tree was, but I bet you remember the wonderful feeling you had because you were loved at Christmas.

Well today is the day... its PARTY TIME! As you know, my DD turned 16 yesterday and we are having her party today at my mother's home. We spent alot of yesterday decorating and cooking and so today is time to finish up the fun this morning and HAVE the fun tonight! YAY! Sew... LOL... there won't be any Christmas Countdown sewing project today. However, I know that you need your daily craft "fix" LOL and I have just the thing for you. I think this would make a cute addition to a bath basket, etc.



Craft Idea of the Day: Handmade Soap Mitt

Materials:

2 pieces of 5 1/2 inch (14cms) of cotton fabric
5 1/2 inch (14cm) of cotton webbing
Soap flakes
Sewing machine
Scissors
Needle and thread

Directions:

Is your soap a little soggy in the shower? Then use a soap mitt it not only looks great but its handy as well.

Place the right sides of the fabric together with the webbing centered between the two pieces of fabric.

Stitch around the square leaving a small opening at the bottom.

Turn the fabric right side out and fill between the fabric squares with soap flakes until filled.

Then hand stitch the opening closed.

These make up quickly for experienced sewers and ideal for fundraiser stalls or school fete stalls.

OK its time for our FANTASTIC EDIBLE FLOWER of the day and I have picked a special one... the Hibiscus. It's special because as a small child, my DD could not say the name properly. She always said "Hibiscuit mommy... its a Hibiscuit" and I would laugh like crazy. And seeing how its my daughter's weekend per se, I have been thinking alot about her LOL. SO... enjoy todays flower! Now when you think of the colorful and attractive Hibiscus flowers, you tend to think of tropical plants ideal for landscaping and as plants meant for wet soils. They make ideal indoor plants too when the right conditions are provided. The Hibiscus plant needs a lot of sun and water. The more sun it gets the more flowers in the plant. The Hibiscus flowers come in all varieties , shapes,sizes and colors. They look very ornamental in any garden and are hardy, lasting a good many years. We have one at home that is no less than 40 years old. It is the common Bright dazzling Red, large petaled variety that has become a land mark in our garden. It has now grown very tall and flowers all through the year. We have used the flowers for every kind of use other than decorating the Gods photographs , beautifying the home by arranging them in a wide urn filled with water, hair care etc.. Hibiscus has many medicinal properties . According to Ayurveda it is good for increasing blood count among anemic people. The bright Red variety that is commonly found in tropical countries is supposed to be the best . The flowers are boiled in a little water and blended in a mixer with roasted cummin seeds and salt and consumed after diluting it to the required level ,for increasing the quantity of hemoglobin. In India certain varieties of Hibiscus flowers are used for cooking. Hibiscus is supposed to contain some vital nutrients that are essential for the body and in the southern parts of India it is regularly used in cooking. In most parts of India no garden is complete without at least one Hibiscus plant. Most home gardens and parks have a variety of Hibiscus plants with colorful flowers that adds a lot of color and cheer!



Hibiscus: Hibiscus rosa-sinensis

Tastes like: slightly acidic, boiled makes a nice beverage

Agua de jamaica (iced hibiscus flower tea)

Agua de jamaica is a spectacularly beautiful and intensely delicious flavored agua fresca that will leave a definite impression on your unsuspecting taste buds. When prepared properly, agua de jamaica leaves the parched pallet thirsty for more of the tart, cranberry-like flavor that makes your mouth water. Made from dried Hibiscus blossoms, this agua fresca entices even the most complacent skeptic with its amazingly rich ruby color. It’s deeply provocative hue is only matched in interest by its naturally tangy taste and fresh flowery aroma that lends itself perfectly to pairings with citrus of all varieties.

In addition to the altogether pleasing sensory experience of sight, taste, and smell; agua de jamaica is also chocked full of health benefits. Hibiscus tea has been known to lower blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and act as a natural diuretic just to name a few.

Any and every self-respecting Mexican restaurant in Chicago should serve agua de jamaica, although the quality of the tea will vary greatly. It is very possible to get a great glass of this elixir of the gods, just bear in mind that some dining establishments water it down considerably as a means of economizing. Only your own pallet can be the judge of how strong you prefer your agua de jamaica, but with this recipe you will be empowered to make your own at home and then you can decide for yourself.



Agua de Jamaica

3 oz dried jamaica/hibiscus blossoms (about 2 large handfuls)
6 cups water
¾ cups water (or to taste)
water to make up 2 quarts

Place 6 cups of water in a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add jamaica blossoms. Allow to boil for 1 minute, then cover and remove from heat. Let blossoms steep for approximately 15 minutes. Meanwhile, pour sugar into a 2 qt glass pitcher (jamaica can stain plastic). Place a fine-meshed sieve over the top of the pitcher and pour in jamaica tea so that the blossoms are strained out and only the garnet red liquid is used. It is a good idea to leave about 1/3 to ½ cup of liquid in the sauce pan when straining so that no small bits of grit or dirt accidentally get into the pitcher. Stir warm tea and sugar well so that all the sugar dissolves. Dilute with water to make up 2 quarts.

Note: This recipe makes a sweet strong tea that goes very well when served over crushed ice. This recipe will also make an agua de jamaica that is slightly stronger (and I think much tastier) than what is normally served in the local Mexican restaurants.

Well kids I'm gonna get off of here and go finish prepping for the party today. I've enjoyed our visit this morning and hope you join me again tomorrow for more fun and excitement... lots of party pics and more great ideas for everyday life! Until tomorrow... HUGS!

Friday, July 30, 2010

FRANTIC FRIDAY PREPPING

Good morning everyone out there in the real world! How are you doing this beaming Friday morning? I am wonderful actually! For once, I woke up and there was no rain. Plus it's my beautiful daughter's birthday! I feel super old LOL! Going to start all the cooking and major decorations today. Busy Busy Busy! Whiy, today already in the past hour I have taken out the trash, made DD her birthday omelets, washed all the dishes, fed all the animals, gave kids meds, and cleaned cat boxes LOL.

OK folks, I saw this article about frugal budgeting and I wanted to share it with you in case some of US needed some help LOL...

How To Create a Frugal Budget
By Erin Huffstetler

A well-planned budget can help you to achieve your frugal goals. Learn how to create your own frugal budget.

Difficulty: Average

Time Required: 1-3 hours

Here's How:

Assess your monthly expenses.

Make a list of all of your regular monthly expenses, including any money that you spend on fun things like eating out, entertainment and hobbies; and any minimum payments that you have to make towards your debts. You can use a budget form for this purpose if it makes the job easier.

Total your earnings.

Calculate how much you make per month, including any money that you receive from investments and other forms of residual income.
Subtract expenses from earnings.

Test out the effectiveness of your budget by subtracting your monthly expenses from your earnings. This will show you how much you can expect to have left at the end of the month.

Rework your budget.

If your budget comes out on the negative side, rework it until your numbers crunch. To do this, go back over each expense, and look for places to make cuts.

Build in money for debt reduction.

If you have debts, your budget should already include the minimum payments that you have to make each month. Now you need to find the money to pay down those debts. Look at your numbers again, and determine where you are willing to make sacrifices to get out of debt.

Build in your savings and investments.

Now it’s time to budget money for your financial goals. Do you want to have an emergency fund? Retirement investments? Vacation savings? Make a list of what you hope to achieve, and then survey your budget once more to find the money that you need to reach those goals. If you have a lot of debt, you may need to skip this step for a while, and that’s okay – debt reduction should be priority one.

Put your budget to work.

Once you’ve created a budget that covers all of your monthly expenses and financial goals, it’s time to put your budget to the test. Try to live within your budget, and see how it feels.

Assess your budget.

At the end of each month, look over your expenditures to see if they are matching up to your budget. If they aren’t, determine if you need to work harder to stick to your spending plan; or if you need to rework your budget to reflect your actual spending.

Assess and assess again.

A frugal budget is never finished. Continue to look over your budget every month to catch areas of overspending. Then, crunch the numbers again until you’ve made it right.

Tips:

Be honest about your spending habits, and you’ll end up with a much more realistic budget.

Don’t forget to budget for fun; budgeting isn’t about total deprivation.

Don’t be afraid to change your budget; a good budget is always evolving.



I didn't get much sewing done yesterday, as I had to take things over to my mom's for the party then we stayed and visited for a spell. I DID however get Madison a very cool gift made in the morning before she even woke up! Isn't that neat looking? She told me once that she would like a few different purses, and then at the end of the school year, the one she was using broke on her. So I took some squares of 2 different music note fabrics and made a "patchwork" purse. I also made a cell pouch to go with it using both the fabrics. It's really cool and I think she will love them! At least, I hope LOL!

Ok, so as you probably have figured, I am not going to be able to do any sewing on the Christmas Challenge either today or tomorrow... BUT I found you another neat little craft to consider making. I saw this and I thought about if I had any little girls I could make these for. But then I thought how even I would use them for like a night out to a holiday party or something where I didn't need to carry much more than my wallet. So check this out!



Craft Idea of the Day: Pot Holder Purse

I am always looking for those unique ideas for handmade gifts or personal items, or even sellable items. Combined with my obsession for purses and totes of all types, this is a surefire winner LOL!



Hold on to your knickers kittens cause its time for more FANTASTIC EDIBLE FLOWERS! Today's little beauty we will discuss is the Pansy... which happens to be my grandma's favorite flower. Pansies have a slightly sweet green or grassy flavor. If you eat only the petals, the flavor is extremely mild, but if you eat the whole flower, there is a wintergreen overtone. Use them as garnishes, in fruit salads, green salad, desserts or in soups. I've found a few various recipes that I am pretty sure you adventurous folks will like. So Eat & Enjoy my darlings!

Pansy: Viola X wittrockiana

Tastes like: very mild sweet to tart flavor



Crystallized/Candy Edible Flowers:

Candied flowers and petals can be used in a variety of imaginative ways - to decorate cakes large and small - all kinds of sweet things, such as ice cream, sherbet, crèmes and fruit salads, cocktails.

Ingredients:

1 egg white or powdered egg whites
Superfine granulated sugar (either purchased or made in a blender or food processor - just blend regular sugar until extra-fine)
Thin paintbrush
Violets, pansies, Johnny-jump-ups, rose petals, lilac, borage, pea, pinks, scented geraniums, etc.
Wire rack covered with wax paper

Directions:

Carefully clean and completely dry the flowers or petals.

Beat the egg white in the small bowl until slightly foamy, if necessary add a few drops of water to make the white easy to spread.

Paint each flower individually with beaten egg white using the small paintbrush.

When thoroughly coated with egg white, sprinkle with superfine sugar.

Place the coated flowers or petals on wax paper on a wire rack. Let dry at room temperature (this could take 12 to 36 hours). To test for dryness, check the base of the bloom and the heart of the flower to make sure they have no moisture. Flowers are completely dry when stiff and brittle to the touch.

NOTE: To hasten drying, you may place the candied flowers in an oven with a pilot light overnight, or in an oven set at 150 degrees to 200 degrees F with the door ajar for a few hours.

Store the flowers in layers, separated by tissue paper, in an airtight container at room temperature until ready to use.



Pansy Popsicles

These popsicles will amaze your kids. Don’t think they will be afraid to eat a flower, they might think it’s really interesting and cool.

Ingredients

Either regular or Pink Lemonade made from dry mix and water
Fresh pansies and/or violas

Directions:

Mix lemonade as per package instructions.

Pour into forms or paper cups about ¾ of the way full. (Use small paper cups like the ones used in bathroom dispensers) If using paper cups it is advisable to place cups on a baking sheet.

Place a few pansies or violas into the lemonade and place cups or forms in the freezer.

If using cups wait a few hours then when mixture is hard enough but still soft insert popsicle sticks and continue freezing until hard.

Pop out of form or cups and serve.



Melon Salad with Pansies or Violas

Serve this salad at a ladies luncheon or breakfast. It will certainly create a lot of talk.

Ingredients

¼ cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon sugar
dash of salt
dash of fresh ground pepper
3 cups assorted melon cut in ¾ inch pieces
2 small cucumbers, sliced thin
Salad greens
Pansy or viola flowers

Directions

In a tightly covered container combine vegetable oil, lemon juice, sugar, salt and pepper.

Shake to combine well. In a bowl combine melon pieces, greens, cucumber, and pansies or violas.

Right before serving pour on dressing and toss to combine well.



Herb and Pansy Salad

This salad is so simple. The dressing is just lemon juice. Pansies and violas give it a great deal of color so it looks like you are eating a rainbow.

Ingredients

4 cups mixed salad greens
¼ cup fresh dill springs
¼ cup flat leaf parsley leaves
¼ cup basil leaves, rolled and thinly sliced crosswise.
1 large lemon, halves
pinch of salt
fresh ground pepper to taste
1 cup toasted pecans
¾ cup feta, crumbled
1 cup pansies or violas

Directions

In a salad bowl combine greens and herbs.

Squeeze lemon juice (remove seeds) over and season with salt and pepper. Toss.

Right before serving add walnuts and feta and toss.

Sprinkle flowers on top and serve.



Spinach Pansy Quiche

Serve this colorful quiche and you’ll be the talk of the town.

Ingredients

1 deep 9” pastry shell
4 medium green onions, chopped (white and green parts)
½ stick butter
1 packet frozen spinach, thawed-drained-chopped
1 cup grated Swiss cheese
½ cup cottage cheese
2 medium eggs
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¾ cup fresh pansies

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a skillet sauté onions in butter until tender.

Add spinach and toss until heated through.

Spread cottage cheese mixture over bottom of the unbaked pastry shell.

Spread onion/spinach mixture over top. Sprinkle on Swiss cheese.

In a bowl combine eggs, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add pansies and pour over top of Swiss cheese.

Bake for about 45 minutes or until set.

Let cool slightly and serve with a few fresh pansies on the plate.

Surprise everyone by serving flowers on your lunch or dinner table.

Well folks, that's all I have time for today. I have to get off of here and get dressed so I can go pick up the rental chairs and then start cooking and prepping like crazy for the party tomorrow. Cakes, briskets, potato salad, you name it and I have to do it... but hey 16 is a big milestone and I have a super awesome daughter, so she deserves whatever I can do for her! I love her so much! Be safe in whatever you do today and remember to give someone the gift of a smile and/or a hug... you could really make a difference. Until tomorrow... HUGS!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

SIMPLY SUPER STUFF

Hi there and a BIG Hello! How are you today? I am actually super psyched cause I am trucking along on my challenges so nicely! man can you believe my little girl will be 16 tomorrow? I feel so old LOL! She's not so little anymore LOL. More rain forcasted, so I am gonna plan on sewing and cleaning today. I also have a few boxes of stuff I have found while digging and cleaning that I might put up on freecycle today. Of course I might wait till I have more to offer LMAO... who knows!

Ok mom mentioned another website to help with Nature topics through donations, clicks, etc. (yes mom I WAS reading LOL). The main page of the Nature Conservatory has lots of links to click for various causes so go check it out! And those crocheted animals... are you finishing Michael's wolf? LOL...

Tabitha, I will extend your well wishes the next time I see my brother. As for the other brother... not sure where he learned that. Could have been a combination of things he has seen or thought about that lead him to that mentality. All I know is its a good one. Yes that is the tiny rabbit who was in my palm a few weeks ago LOL. Told you she is getting huge! She is as big as Miracle and Gizmo now... BIG! And I am so happy to hear you have joined the Challenge! You will be surprised how much relief you feel when you have all your gifts completed in maybe September LOL and can just sit back and actually enjoy the holidays! And its good to give yourself alot of time if you think you need it... gives you time to "perfect" or go all out on it! Kudos to you!



Wanna see a super supper? Check this out! This is our homage au fromage! God Bless Cheese! YUM! What you see is some freshly steamed broccoli with some melted cheese on top, some cheesy Rice-A-Roni, and some Cheez-It Pork chops! Yes I said Cheez-its! I crushed up a bunch of cheez-it crackers and coated the boneless center cut pork chops (found on manager special mind you LMAO) and skillet cooked them til golden brown on both sides and done in the center. OMG it was wonderful! Ya know, I really didn't think about how much cheese we actually eat around here till the last week LOL! We love our cheese! Madison had like 3 or 4 chops herself LOL!

Now I am not quite sure what I am going to make (if anything) for the Christmas challenge today. I plan on making Madison a couple of presents today (when she is not out front of course LOL) for her birthday. She wanted me to make her a new purse and a couple of other things, so guess what her other present is gonna be from mom aside from the party? Yep... handmade is the way baby! LOL!



I figure I am gonna go ahead and show you how gift 1 turned out (maybe for added inspiration? LOL). Its the kitchen set... in pretty purple pansies! I used a 3 ring binder to hold all the soup recipes. I put them in plastic sheet protectors so that way if the recipient has it open and "oops" a splatter... the paper won't be ruined... just wipe the sheet plastic clean! Smart huh? LOL... then I made a book cover to fit the binder. I also made 2 potholders, 2 oven mitts, a plastic grocery bag holder, and 2 kitchen towels. I wrapped it all together with a very glittery wired ribbon... put a wooden spoon on top and finished the bow for an oh-so-cute presentation! (Sorry for the whitewashed pictures... I can't find my camera, so I am using my phone for pictures LOL)



OK now I told you yesterday on the Christmas Challenge how I was going to make stockings for some people who need them. Well I didn't have classic cars or monkey fabric, so I didn't get those done. I did get the penguins and the music one done though and I think they are great! I also did not share how to make them, thinking most people would not want to know how to make one. Boy was I wrong! I got 22 emails yesterday asking me how I make my quilted Christmas stockings. SO, its a good thing that I made sure that I took step by step pictures to share just in case someone asked, huh? My mother actually taught me this, as she made all of our stockings when we were younger. I've just kind of tweeked it to my own style LOL! The good thing is you can use any fabric you want... it doesn't HAVE to be Christmas-y! Customize it to the likes of the person who you are making it for and it will have even more meaning when you give it to them. I once made a bunch of these and filled them with toys and candies from the Dollar Store and gave them to my son's class for their party. So here ya go... the stocking instructions using the penguin stocking I told you I was making yesterday!



Craft Idea of the Day: Renee's Quilted Christmas stockings

Materials:
1 yard of novelty print fabric *
1 yard of pre-quilted fabric *
1/2 yard of solid color white fabric
thread to match

* You can also use low loft quilted batting and sandwich it between 2 pieces of fabric for the same effect. In this event you need 1 yard novelty print and one yard solid color for the inside, or 2 yards of novelty for the inside and out. For this instructional however, I am using the pre-quilted fabric. *

Directions:

1. Make a stocking pattern on brown kraft paper, paper bag, or butcher paper, etc. Also make a cuff pattern that will cover between 4-6 inches from the top of the stocking (depends on how large you want the cuff).



2. Make sure the fabrics are folded in half so that you have 2 layers/pieces per fabric once cut. Place the prequilted fabric and the novelty print on top of each other and place your pattern on top of both sets. Pin in place. Cut out your pattern 1/2 to 1 inch larger than pattern to allow for seam. You should now have 2 pieces cut of each fabric.

3. Place your cuff pattern on the white fabric. Cut 2 cuffs also with the 1/2 to 1 inch extra around the edge.



4. Cut 2 strips of the Novelty fabric about 2 inches wide. With an iron press raw edges to the center of the strip, then fold again in half. You now have homemade bias tape that matches the print of your fabric. You need to do 2 strips. Do NOT cut these on the fold, as you need one long to go around the top of the stocking once assembled... so leave them long! (*NOTE You can use store bought bias tape or no tape at all, just doing a hem to the raw edges. I particularly like the look of the matching material bias tape.)

5. Take the bias tape and place on the smaller edge of the cuff. Sew in place. Repeat for the second cuff.



6. Pin the cuffs (wrong side of cuff to right side of stocking fabric) to the stocking and sew across the bottom of the cuff to secure onto your first stocking side. Repeat for the second side.



7. Pin the wrong sides together of one side of printed fabric with attached cuff and prequilted fabric. Sew 2 pieces together to form one side. Repeat with the other 2 pieces.



8. Take your 2 side pieces and place them printed sides together. Try to make sure the bottom edges of each cuff are about even. Make sure cuffs are laying flat between the fabrics. Pin in place along the edges and in the center.

9. Sew along edges. Make sure to do a double stitch and/or serger/zigzag the edges. (Remember Santa goes crazy sometimes with stocking stuffers, so you gotta make sure those bad boys aren't gonna come apart LOL!)



10. Flip stocking right side out. Take 1 long piece of bias tape and pin around the top edge of the stocking. Sew in place.



11. Take a 4 inch piece of the bias and fold it in half. Secure in the inside of the stocking on the seam to form a loop to hang your stocking by. Reinforce with a "X" stitch if desired.

Voila you are finished! Your quilted stocking is now ready for super stuffing during the holidays!

So tell me, are you hungry? Its time again for more FANTASTIC EDIBLE FLOWER and today I want to talk about a favorite flower of my mom's... the Gardenia. Yes mom, you can eat those LOL! Now don't make the mistake of thinking more flowers would be better. It gets too perfumey. But used in extreme moderation, you can get a uniquely tasty treat! And today I bring you a truly sweet treat as well! So Eat & Enjoy!



Gardenia: Gardenia jasminoides
Tastes like: light, sweet flavor

Some Interesting Facts About Gardenias

Gardenias are grown for their beautiful foliage and they make great cut flowers.

Gardenias flowers from about mid-spring to mid-summer, i.e., May through July

Many of the gardenia species are strongly scented.

The genus Gardenia is named after Alexander Garden, a physician in Charleston of South Carolina.

Gardenias can be used as screens, hedges, borders or ground covers.

In France, Gardenia is the traditional flower which men wear as boutonnieres.

The most popular cultivated species is the Cape jasmine, native to China.

Each gardenia flower is followed by 6-sided berries of rich orange-red with long, elegant stems.

Gardenia thunbergia produces a woody fruit which has hard, angular seeds inside.

Gardenia Ice Cream

Ingredients:

2 cups of heavy whipping cream
2 cups of whole milk
1/2 vanilla bean, opened up, seeded (include seeds in mixture)
3/4 cup sugar (1/2 cup if you prefer less sweet)
Petals of 2 or 3 Gardenias (wash them well, use fruit and veggie wash if you can find it to remove pesticides. If store-bought, watch out for wax in center, use only outer leaves if they waxed it) Cut leaves up. Home grown gardenias are best.

Directions:

Bring milk, cream, vanilla bean and seeds, half of the sugar, and chopped gardenia petals to a simmer in heavy saucepan (at least 2 quart in size), stir to melt sugar, remove from heat and let the flavors develop for 30-45 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, whisk 8 egg yolks and remaining sugar till blended and lighter in color. Sugar substitutes like Splenda MAY work. I have used Whey Low Ice Cream Sugar(low carb, low calorie, and natural) and it works perfectly.

Add about 1/3 of the heated mixture slowly to the egg yolk mixture, whisking while adding. (this keeps egg from clotting) Then whisk all of egg mixture into cream mixture. Reheat, whisking continually, bring to simmer, but not a boil. Whisk and heat until the mixture thickens, about 10 minutes. A spoon dipped into mixture should stay lightly coated, and a finger run down the center should leave a line in the custard. Remove from heat. Put custard into a bowl in an ice bath (partial sink of water with ice works, to cool it quickly) Stir every five minutes or so. When cooled off, strain, put covered in fridge for several hours or overnight. Then use your ice cream maker. Freeze it to “soft-serve” consistency, put in another container, and put in freezer to finish. This recipe can be used unfrozen as a custard cream sauce to pour over fruit, cakes, put in fruit crepes, etc...

Well folks, I guess I should be getting off of here and getting to work huh? I hope you have enjoyed our early morning visit and will come back tomorrow for another wonderful day of fantastically fragrant food and clever crafts. I wish you well in whatever you find yourself doing today... just stay safe! See you tomorrow... HUGS!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

FOOD OR FRUIT

Good morning my friends! How are you doing this wet Wednesday morning? I'm good really... just tired of the rain! I had some more good experiences with my freecycling and I got some bills paid and a little shopping done too!

Ok gotta say I love my readers, so its time to address all the comment questions from yesterday!

I had a couple of emails asking me if freecycling was really worth the time and what type of things have I been able to find. Well, let me tell ya... it IS definitely worth the time. If for no other reason than recycling and peace of mind you are helping the earth, even if in just a little way. I have received alot of great items thru the years. I have also given alot away for others to use/have. I found a 6 month old (almost new) fridge for my parents right after the storm, a full size bed for my DD, and even a NICE 20 in. color TV for my son about a week ago. The last few days, I have got LOTS of baby items... new foods, diaper bags, diapers, a wipes warmer, monitors, and more. I have gotten nice clothes, lots of yarn for my mom (who crochets), crafting supplies, coupons, and lots more things. Even animals! You can post what you are looking for and people can email you. Its so worth it. Just think about all that totally usable stuff going in the garbage and cluttering our world! So I hope that answers your questions and helps you!

To Jean: Good to see you! Ok you asked about the Christmas Challenge "rules"... well basically on this Christmas Challenge, I plan to make as much of each gift AND presentation as possible. I plan on making personalized gift bags for the gifts (when necessary), etc. All edible gifts will obviously be done at the "last minute" but if the supplies for those gifts are shelf stable, then they will at least be bought ahead of time to ensure we have them. This challenge takes a bit of planning but I think it will be turning out super spiffy. My gift giving will cover a large range of people... from babies to seniors, women and men, manly to feminine, and everything in between! The Challenge I presented to my readers is that you do the same. Make a list of everyone that you need to give a gift to during the holidays and each day MAKE a gift. I am almost at my 250th posting and have brought tons of crafts for just about everyone. Then share with all of us what you have done for who... and you can email me pics if you would like- and let me know if I can post them here... I think it would be fun to see what you guys and gals are up to!

As for my brother, he is physically alright. I was just worried about him because his kitty passed away. He has had that cat for a long time and was his "buddy" during a very rough time in his life. He of course played the "manly man" about it, but I KNEW inside he was crying... so I paid even more special attention to him than normal (which is crazy closeness anyway LOL) the last few days. But he is much better now. He buried her in the back yard at mom's house... where all of our favorite animals end up LOL.

And finally... the baby. He is my "soon-to-be-nephew" you could say. My OTHER brother (the middle one) is involved with a young lady with a small baby. They plan on marrying sometime in the future and he truly loves this child. So they are struggling young parents trying to start a life. As once BEING one of those "young parents" I know how difficult it is, so I extended the offer to help with the baby. He is a commercial driver, but fixing to change jobs to be a correctional officer and she just took the test and received her cosmotology license. She recently interviewed and got a job but they can't afford daycare. My brother and her also prefer to have the baby with someone they know and trust... aka... ME LOL! SOOO... Aunt Nay will be watching the baby for long periods of time at minimum of 5 days a week... sometimes more. Trying to start a life is hard, and when you are young with limited resources, its even harder. So I am excited to help these 2 make themselves into productive members of society so they can provide this baby with a better life. And I commend and am very proud of my brother for stepping up and being a real man and taking on the very challenging situation of a "ready made family"! He makes me well up with pride... and doesn't even know it!

To Tabitha: I plan on probably taking pictures and sharing them every week or so actually... rest assured I will share them... as this is part of the Challenge. Shoot, sharing is the whole purpose of this blog, so yes you will see them and not have to wait until Christmas. LOL!

And to my mommy: I messaged you about the gift so quit guessing LOL! I am glad you are inspired to finish your projects... its a start! You will get going and then want to keep going... I know you LMAO! Where do you think I get it!? I am so glad the cats are getting along too... those first few weeks I had my doubts. But I stuck with it and I am glad I did! Rebel has a playmate again now! YAY! Maybe he will lose some weight LMAO!



And as for the bunny... oh don't get me started! Let's just say, however many bunnies that woman had before mine- SHE LIED TO EVERYONE. I guess I am not surprised really... considering the battle she and I had in the first place. But Rescue is definitely NOT a dwarf bunny! She has HUGE ears and is almost half the size of the cage I thought she would be in for a long time! UGH! She absolutely loves her fresh veggies... her favorite is alfalfa. I can't keep that stuff in the house anymore! She also is in love with the honey nut sticks I got for her. AND she eats tons of the rabbit pellet food too! I think she is part pig LMAO! But I love her and if I had to do it again, I would do it in a heartbeat!

As for your cactus jelly you brought up (and yes Dad is right, you DO instigate LMAO but its all gravy!)... that falls into the jelly recipe I gave yesterday LOL! So in essence, I beat you to it! LOL!

Keep those comments coming everyone... I love to hear from you all!



Ok well it's that time. Its day 2 of the Christmas Challenge YAY! Today I will be making stockings. A group of people on my list (4) do not have Christmas stockings. So I am making 4 custom Quilted Christmas stockings. One person will be receiving penguins (her favorite animal), one music (not my daughter LOL), one monkeys, and one classic cars. There is one more person in the house but I already made him one! I know I have penguins and music fabric (in the crate no doubt YAY!) but I am not sure on the other 2... they may have to wait. Hmmm... I also have to finish up a couple of things from gift number one from yesterday... now you see why its 150 days? LOL... that way if you don't quite get it done in one day, you don't have to worry! Plus it gives me time for the other projects I have going on too!

Now for those of you who don't have a need for stockings, you DO probably have a need for washing clothes right? Alright... well some people are totally against anything with chemicals- including dryer sheets. But you want that nice smell of freshness in your laundry, so what do you do? You take about 30 minutes at max, make this craft, and smell like a garden all day! Check it out!



Craft Idea of the Day: Clothes Dryer Fragrance Pad

Materials:

Desired cotton fabric
Sheet wadding
Sewing Machine access
Fragrance oil or essential oil of choice (Lavender works well and lemon scent is nice too)

Directions:

These dryer fragrance pads are great. When you place it into the dryer the fragrance will come wafting through and penetrate through all your clothes.

Start by cutting out what size pads you want , approx. 5cm X 5cm is suitable.

Cut your fabric into the size you require allowing for stitching.

Sew 3 sides of your fabric closed and slip in the sheet wadding through the last opening.

You will need to either begin hand sewing or machine sewing this end closed.

Just before you complete the closure Sprinkle some lavender oil into the Project or sprinkle your drops of oil onto the wadding prior to placing it inside.

And when the fragrance decreases add some more drops of oil !

You can use essential or fragrant oils for these mat's, Fragrant oil is much cheaper and can be bought from good craft supply stores.

If you have old quilts cut them up for wadding.

Now for today's FANTASTIC EDIBLE FLOWER. Today I am expanding on something my mother brought up in her comment yesturday. Many plant blossoms are what turn into the fruit or veggies we eat. Squash, Okra, cucumbers, berries, etc. BUT did you know you can actually EAT some of those flowers before they turn into the fruit? Yep... including today's star... the Squash blossom! The squash blossoms are very popular in both Latin and Italian cooking. Squash blossoms don’t keep well. The day they are picked they are beautiful. The second day they are looking tired. By the third day they have shrivelled and are covered with black spots. Use them quickly. If you can’t use the right away, store them in the refrigerator until you can. They will keep for two days. Ok, so I am bringing you a couple of popular recipes for devilishly delectable Squash Blossom treats! Eat & Enjoy!



Squash Blossom: Cucurbita pepo species (aka Zucchini Blossom)

Tastes like: sweet, nectar flavor.



Battered Squash Blossoms
(With or Without Stuffing)

The Batter:
1 cup flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup fat-free chilled milk, beer or water

Cheese-Mushroom Stuffing:
1/4 cup ricotta cheese
1 garlic clove, minced or pressed
1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper
2 tablespoon mushrooms, finely chopped
1 tablespoons fresh basil or parsley, minced
16 large squash blossoms, washed
Canola oil for frying

1. Prepare the batter first. Sift together dry ingredients, then whisk in milk, beer or cold water until smooth. Cover and set in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Leftover batter can be stored for up to two days. If it is too thick after refrigeration, add a few drops of water to return to original consistency.

2. Meanwhile, prepare the stuffing. In a bowl combine the ricotta cheese, garlic, salt, pepper, mushrooms and basil. Open the blossoms and spoon about one 1/2 teaspoon of the mixture into the center of each. Avoid overfilling the blossoms. Twist the top of each blossom together to close. Place on a baking sheet and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

3. Pour the oil into a skillet to a depth of 1/2 inch. Heat over high heat until a small cube of bread dropped into the oil turns golden brown within seconds.

4. Briefly dip each stuffed blossom into the batter, then carefully slip into the hot oil. Cook until golden on all sides, about three minutes total cooking time. Add only as many blossoms at a time as will fit comfortably in the skillet. Transfer with a slotted utensil to paper towels to drain briefly.

5. Sprinkle with salt, if desired and serve immediately.

NOTE: In place of the cheese-mushroom stuffing, try another of your favorite bread or meat stuffings.



Squash Blossom Soup

1/4 stick butter
1 onion, sliced
1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 pound squash blossoms (about 4 cups)
1 cup half and half
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Grated anejo cheese (for garnish)

1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Saute the onions, seasoning with salt and pepper. Cook about five minutes. Pour in the stock and bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer 10 to 12 minutes add the blossoms and cook 5 minutes longer.

2. Transfer soup to food processor and puree until smooth. Strain soup back into saucepan. Pour in the half and half and bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper and top with grated anejo cheese, a dry, crumbly Mexican cheese somewhat like parmesan, which can be used instead, for a somewhat different taste.

Well everybody... that's all for me. Time for me to get moving on some super sewing! I hope you enjoyed today's blog and will join me tomorrow morning for another exciting adventure of the life and times of The Frugal Mom! Until tomorrow... HUGS!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

CHRISTMAS CHALLENGE KICKOFF

Good morning my little bloggies! How are you doing this Tuesday morning? I'm good really... had some good experiences with my freecycling yesterday and I got some cleaning and sewing done too! Got a couple of new things to share with you... cats, crafts, etc...



(I snapped this picture of Miracle last night while he slept... isn't that too cute!?) First off I am proud to announce that the baby cats Miracle and Gizmo that have been exclusively in the bedroom are now free to roam the whole house.. and Rebel and Princess are totally ok with it! YAY! In fact Rebel is playing with them! No more hissing and fighting DOUBLE YAY! LOL...



We call Miracle Rebel's "mini me" cause he looks JUST like him... so its Dr. Evil and his Mini Me (for those of you who have seen Austin Powers LOL! DON'T MIND THE MESS IN THE BACK... I had a wild hair to pull everything out of the closet so that's what you see lol! The only one who has a bit of a problem with the babies is Pitts, but he'll get over it. Rebel actually stood up to Pitts like he was "defending" the babies yesterday when Pitts started hissing. It was pretty wild. Rebel wanted to start coming in the bedroom about a week ago (I think he just got tired of not being able to be with Mama... I mean he is my baby LOL), so I let him in under special watchful eye! He hissed a little bit a few times and was "redirected"... just like a kid. So the door gate was removed during the day only. At night he had to go. But a couple of nights ago I decided to leave the gate open and see how the night went. All was well so the gate is gone and the babies are beginning to venture into the rest of the house. But they are still coming back to the bedroom and sleeping on the bed with me at night LOL. Yes my cats are very spoiled! The itty bitty baby, Mittens, is doing well too. Her wounds have healed, I weaned her from the kitten milk and even from the wet food, and she is on dry food and water. She is completely box trained and she is relocated... to DD's room. There was a bit of an issue with Miracle and Mittens, so my DD asked if Mittens could live with her in her room. After an hour of discussing how important her care was and what all to do, we "baby proofed" her room and away she went. They are having fun being roomies LOL! So all is well in the land of the cats!

One of the freecycle "trades" I had was to pick up 2 mystery boxes. I kinda like mystery boxes because you are always surprised. Sometimes you get lucky, and sometimes you don't. Well in these boxes were some great items I will be able to use! I got a baby wipes warmer, baby monitor set, and some baby bottles! All these items will come in very handy when I start watching my little visitor on a regular basis! YAY! I also received some jeans in good condition, 3 very nice watches, some new packs of paper, and a few other things I think I can utilize. Once I took what I could use, I freecycled the rest. I also had another pickup of around 3-4 weeks worth of coupons from a lady right down the road. Freecycle is a great thing and I encourage you ALL to join your local groups! Visit Freecycle and find the group closest to you. Just be a courteous freecycler and people will be more willing to trade with you and recommend you to others. If you say you will pick up, then follow through promptly. Reputation means alot there.



Then I got to thinking that since I needed a sturdy diaper bag for when I take my little compadre out with me somewhere, why not just make one. (Sorry for the bad picture... taken with my bad phone LOL). I took a pair of old dark blue jeans I don't fit and made a booty bag and adorned it with "It's A Boy" ribbon! I have pockets on the outside for holding juice bottles, etc. and planty of room in my "big butt jeans" for diapers, wipes, food, toys, etc. I also made a couple of burp rags I normally make and sell as well. I think its cute and I filled it last night with all kinds of goodies! We are ready to hit the road jack! Sturdy denim and poly-webbing straps... oh yea, won't have any problems with this bag LOL! I plugged in the baby monitor I got on freecycle and it works great! I also sterilized the wipe warmer and the bottles (did not come with nipples though). I washed the bottles with soap and water and then sterilized them in a big soup pot of boiling water. (Remind me to get nipples and a bottle brush LOL) Wow has it been a long time since I had to do all that! But it's like riding a bike I suppose... You really never forget how. Its kind of exciting really... LOL.



Ok well it's that time. Its the first day of the Christmas Challenge YAY! I hope this is going to be so fun that I will want to keep going for the next year LMAO! Kidding! Ok, so I have decided that today I am going to do gift #1 which is a kitchen set. (I can't tell you WHO it's for, because most of my family members pop in and read from time to time. LMAO) I have a beautiful floral material that I will be using to make all the kitchen essentials of pot holders, oven mitts, etc. I am gonna pair that with a book made from all my recipes for soups... a custom cook book if you will. The cover will be printed on custom paper to match the fabric. Finally when I am done with all the sewing, I will go and purchase one or 2 larger cooking utensils... a ladle and maybe a wooden spoon... and tie that to the package with a color coordinated bow. Isn't that a neat gift? I know I would love to get something like that! (Oh shoot, I just realized that once you see the material, my family at least, will know who its for LOL! Man I didn't think about all of that LMAO! Will have to ask who all reads my blog... hmmm... I know mom and Dad do at the very least!) I'm rather excited!

Now aside from the gifts I am giving, I got baby on the brain, as you can probably tell... and I'm trying to prep to have a baby in the house again after over a decade! I was thinking about when my kids were babies and how my mother used to LOVE putting DD in those little Bonnets! OMG we couldn't go anywhere without her trying to put one on DD's head LMAO! Well I found on my thrifty fun site, an easy way to make some rather unique bonnets using bandanas! I started laughing uncontrollably and immediately thinking of my mother! Now you may want to make these as a gift, and that would be cool too... Make sure to visit the site page for great step-by-step photos too! So here it is, the



Craft Idea of the Day: Bandana Bonnets

Materials:

Bandana
thread
ribbon 59"
elastic 3" 1/4-1/2 wide
fuseable web
iron
sewing machine

Instructions:

Step 1: Iron Bandana to get out all store wrinkles. (You can also wash and dry to get out all the starchy stiffness if you desire)

Step 2: Open Bandana up wrong side facing up. Fold one edge toward the middle 6inches. Bring other edge to meet it. Iron in new creases.

Step 3: Apply fuseable web to the back of your ribbon

Step 4: Center Ribbon over seam where the two edges meet. Iron ribbon into place over the seam. Be sure to follow factory directions for your fuseable web. The smaller of the two sides is the front of the bonnet and the larger is the back of the bonnet.

Step 5. You are now going to make the casing for the elastic at the back. You will sew a straight line from one edge to the other about 1/2 and inch from the fold. At this time you can also use the machine to add a decorative stitch to your ribbon or you can hand embroider over the ribbon to make it more secure.

Step 6: And here is where it gets a bit tricky. Thread your 3 inches of ribbon into the casing. Gathering as evenly as you can. Secure your elastic together by sewing over the two ends a few times. Release the elastic and with needle and thread close the gap that remains over the elastic.

Finished!

By Hanane from Garland, TX

Alright, for today's FANTASTIC EDIBLE FLOWER I want to discuss the rose... my personal favorite flower! The rose is a beautiful focal piece that is also pleasing to the palate. Now I am sure many of us have heard of "FLAN", a very popular dessert of hispanic origins. Well, this recipe makes a fabulous flan, giving you the scent of roses with every bite.



Rose: Rosa rugosa or R. gallica officinalis

Tastes like: sweet, aromatic flavor, stronger fragrance produces a stronger flavor. Be sure to remove the bitter white portion of the petals. Rose hips are also edible.

Interesting Facts about Roses

The rose is the favorite flower of 85% of Americans.

In 1986, then President Ronald Reagan signed legislation making the rose the official National Flower of the United States.

George Washington bred roses at his home.

A fossilized rose, which was 35 million years old, was found in Florissant, Colorado.

Over 900 acres of greenhouse roses are harvested in the United States every year. 60% of these are grown in California.

Florists sell millions of roses each year in the United States. The two biggest days for sales are Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day. Christmas is the third highest day for rose sales.

Columbus’ crew picked a rose branch out of the ocean on October 11, 1492. This signaled the presence of land. The very next day, Columbus discovered America.

Rose hips contain more Vitamin C than any other fruit or vegetable.

Ancient Romans believed that white roses grew where the tears of Venus fell when she was mourning Adonis.

Shakespeare referred to roses over fifty times in his works.

Mythology says that roses grew thorns when Cupid accidentally shot an arrow into a rose garden.

The oldest rose in the world has flourished for over 1,000 years on the wall of Hildeshiem Cathedral in Germany.



Rose Petal Flan

Ingredients

Topping

1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp water
Custard
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon rose water*

Special items needed

4 6-ounce ramekins

*Rose water can be found in Mediterranean markets and also Whole Foods in the baking department. According to the Doña Tomàs book you can also make your own by boiling a cup of rose petals (fresh from a garden, not store-bought, no pesticides, no fungicides) in a cup of water with a tablespoon of honey, for 10 minutes. Let steep overnight and then strain. Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

Method

1 Have your ramekins ready, near the stove. When you pour out the caramelized sugar you will want to work fast. Place the sugar and water in a small, thick-bottomed saucepan. Heat on medium heat. As the sugar beings to melt, gently stir with a wooden spoon to break up unmelted lumps. Once the sugar has melted it will begin to turn golden and then darker brown. As soon as it turns a strong shade of reddish brown, remove the pan from the heat, working quickly, evenly divide the sugar between the ramekins, coating the bottom of each ramekin. Place the ramekins in a 2-inch deep baking dish.

2 Preheat oven to 350°F. In a small saucepan, on medium high heat, mix sugar and milk until the milk is warm to the touch and the sugar has completely dissolved (about 120°F). Do not let the milk boil. Remove from heat. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, egg yolks, vanilla and rose water. Temper the egg mixture with a little (about 1/4 cup) of the warm milk mixture, whisking as you add the milk. Add the egg mixture back into the pan of milk. Lower the heat to low and whisk the egg mixture in for a minute until the egg mixture is fully incorporated.

3 Pour custard mixture into the ramekins, up to about 1/4-inch from the top edge of the ramekins. Pour enough hot water into baking pan to come halfway up sides of ramekins.

4 Bake on the middle rack until centers of flans are gently set, about 45 minutes. Transfer flans to rack and cool. Chill until cold, about 2 hours. (Can be made 2 days ahead.)

5 To serve, run small sharp knife around flan to loosen. Turn over onto plate. Shake gently to release flan. Carefully lift off ramekin allowing caramel syrup to run over flan. Repeat with remaining flans and serve. If you have refrigerated the flan over night and the flan won't easily release, you can heat it in the microwave for a few seconds (10-15) to loosen it.

Serves 4.

As an added bonus, I am bringing you ANOTHER recipe that is very popular to use roses with!

FLOWER JELLY

2 1/2 cups apple juice OR white wine

1 cup fresh rose petals or scented geranium flowers and leaves

4 cups sugar

1/4 lemon juice

1 - 2 drops food coloring (optional)

3 ounces of liquid pectin

fresh flower petals (optional)

Bring juice or wine to a boil and pour over petals. Cover and steep until liquid has cooled, then strain out flowers leaving only liquid. Combine 2 cups of this flower infusion with sugar, lemon juice and food coloring. Bring to a boil over high heat and as soon as the sugar has dissolved, stir in the pectin. Return to a rolling boil, stirring, and boiling for exactly 1 minute. Remove the jelly from the heat and skim off any foam. Let jelly cool slightly and add more flower petals (if desired), then pour into sterilized jars. If petals do not stay suspended, stir jelly as it cools until petals stay in place. Process in hot water bath or seal with paraffin. Yields: 4 - 5 half pints

Alright folks, I am gonna leave you for today. I want to hear how many of you are starting your Christmas Challenge today and what you are doing... let's have some fun with this! I am gonna go start sewing my little hands off, so you take care, be safe, and SMILE! See you tomorrow... HUGS!

Monday, July 26, 2010

FANTASTIC EDIBLE FLOWERS

Good Monday Morning to you all! How are you doing this soggy beginning of the week? I'm good... soggy, but good LOL! We have thunderstorms on the horizon for this beginning of the week, so I plan to get off my bum and get moving in the house today LOL. I have to stop watching the Food Network all the time because I stay hungry constantly LMAO so cleaning or whatever will be good for me LMAO!

Ok, I got to thinking how not too long ago, I brought you articles about frugal tips to do with things like Lemons, vinegar, etc. Well when I went to the nutrition store with my mom a little while back, the topic of honey and how good pure honey was for you. Then this morning I saw an article about honey and figured it was a sign that I needed to bring you the article so you could be "frugally schooled" on the wonderous thing we call "HONEY"! It's not just for dessert anymore kids LOL!



14 ways honey can heal
By Megan, selected from Yoga+ Magazine

By Vasant Lad, Yoga+

The fossil record tells us honeybees have been around for 150 million years or more. No one knows when we discovered the treasure hidden in their hives, but paintings of beekeepers lining the walls of a cave in Spain prove that we have been practicing the art of beekeeping for at least 7,000 years. Honey is versatile. It has been prized as a sweetener, as medicine, as an offering for the gods, as currency, and as a symbol of love. In Greek mythology, for example, Cupid dips his arrows in honey before aiming them at our hearts.

According to ayurveda, honey is the nectar of life. Because it is created from the essence of a flower's sex organs, it has a natural affinity with reproductive tissue. It can also heal sore throats, colds, coughs, ulcers, burns, and wounds. And when ingested with a healing herb (like ashwagandha), honey travels to the deepest tissues, transporting the chemical properties and the subtle energies of medicine to the cellular level.

Ayurveda says that raw honey is medicine, but cooked honey is a slow poison. Why? In its natural form, honey is rich in minerals, vitamins, enzymes, amino acids, and carbohydrates. But heat strips honey of most of its nutritional value and transforms the honey molecules into a non-homogenized glue that adheres to mucous membranes and clogs subtle energy channels. Cooked honey creates cellular toxicity and may lead to immunological dysfunction. It can also clog the arteries and lead to atherosclerosis (thickening of the arteries), hampering blood flow to the vital organs. So as a general rule, honey should never be cooked, and nothing should be cooked with honey. Instead, add raw honey to yogurt, warm tea, or spread it on bread or toast.

These days, most honey sold commercially has been heated and should be avoided. Look for the words "raw" or "unpasteurized" on honey at a health-food store or online at places like the Ayurvedic Institute or http://www.eBeeHoney.com/. But the purest form of honey is local and raw because it helps prevent (or calm) seasonal allergies and is full of prana (vital energy).

Check your local farmers' market, and if you live in the country, keep an eye out for roadside honey stands.

Ayurvedic texts are full of honey-based remedies for a wide range of ailments, such as:

For obesity, high blood pressure, and/or high cholesterol, drink a cup of hot water with a teaspoon of honey and 5 to 10 drops of apple cider vinegar early in the morning daily. (Ayurvedic texts say honey scrapes fat and cholesterol from the body's tissues.)

To relieve rheumatoid arthritis symptoms, take 1 teaspoon of honey with 200 mg powdered guggulu daily.

To heal oral ulcers, apply 1 teaspoon honey and a pinch of turmeric to canker sores, mouth ulcers, or sores on the tongue. This mixture will generate saliva and draw out toxins; spit it out to speed the healing process. For internal ulcers, mix a cup of warm milk with a teaspoon of honey twice daily.

To heal a wound, dress it daily with sterilized gauze brushed with honey; dispose at night.

For the common cold, mix 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon with 1 teaspoon honey and eat two or three times a day.

To clear your sinuses, take a mixture of 1 teaspoon each of fresh ginger juice and honey two or three times a day.

For asthma, eat a mixture made of 1/2 teaspoon bay leaf powder, 1/4 teaspoon pippali, and 1 teaspoon of honey two or three times daily.

For nausea, vomiting, and/or indigestion, mix one part lemon juice with one part honey. Dip your index finger into this mixture and lick it slowly twice daily.

For anxiety, drink 1 cup of orange juice with 1 teaspoon of honey and a pinch of nutmeg powder twice daily.

To help reduce the craving for cigarettes, chew small pieces of pineapple with 1/2 teaspoon of honey before smoking.

For abdominal pain, take a mixture of 1/4 teaspoon ground bay leaf, 1/4 teaspoon ajwan (celery seeds), and 1 teaspoon of honey before lunch and dinner daily.

For chronic fever, make a tea of 1 teaspoon of holy basil (tulsi) and 1 cup of hot water. Add 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper powder and 1 teaspoon of honey. Take two or three times a day.

To aid poor circulation, mix 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon trikatu, and 1 teaspoon honey in 1 cup of hot water. Steep for 10 minutes. Take twice a day.

To stop hiccups, mix 1 teaspoon honey and 1 teaspoon castor oil in a container. Dip your index finger into the mixture and lick it. Repeat every 10 minutes until your hiccups stop. (Hiccups are due to spasm of the diaphragm, and these ingredients in equal proportion are anti-spasmodic.)

Did you know? To make one pound of honey, a swarm of honeybees flies about 24,000 miles and visits 3 to 9 million flowers.

Because its qualities are heating and sweet, honey is good for kapha and vata, and in moderation with pitta.

Please Note: Raw honey is not recommended for infants under the age of 18 months, the very elderly, or others with compromised immune systems.

Ok kids, tomorrow is the big day! Christmas Countdown Challenge begins in about 15 hours! YIPPEE!! You ready? Now seeing as my little visitor will be spending more time over here soon, I got to thinking about all the things new moms need to care for their little ones. I also got to thinking about being pregnant and some of the things you need then too. I had a rather embarassing moment in Kroger one time when I was pregnant and luckily, my mother who is the save all, caught it before anyone else did and warned me! So I am going to share a craft with you that is helpful, inexpensive, and hits close to home with me LOL!



Craft Idea of the Day: Quick and Easy Washable Nursing Pads

If you nurse for very long you are going to be shocked at the money you end up spending on disposable nursing pads. Fortunately, with little sewing skill and items you most likely have around the house, you can make your own washable nursing pads.

Things You'll Need:

6x12 inch piece of fleece
1 old t-shirt or flannel baby blanket
6x12 inch piece of drapery lining, PUL (or one pair of plastic diaper cover ups)
Scissors
Paper
Sewing machine

Step 1: Fabric Choice for the layer near you: Natural fleece (not polyester) is a "wicking" fabric, which simply means it will pull liquid away from your skin toward the back of the fabric. CoolMax which is used in a lot of workout clothing also has great wicking abilities. Other fabrics with the same wicking capability include baby acrylics and soft wool blends with a higher percentage of synthetics added.

Step 2: Fabric Choice for the center layer: You can use an old t-shirt or flannel blanket for the center pieces of your nursing pad; for absorbency.

Step 3: Fabric Choice for outside of nursing pad: The main job of this layer is to prevent leaking. If you have PUL; a fabric used to make diaper covers it is wonderful for this job. You can also use darkening drapery lining or cut up a set of plastic diaper cover ups. As long as you wash your pads in cold water and let drip dry the plastic will hold for an amazingly long time.

Step 4: Cut out a 5-inch circle from paper to use as a pattern. Cut out 2 pieces of fleece, 2 pieces of plastic/PUL/Drapery lining, and 4-8 pieces of flannel or t-shirt (depending on the thickness).

Step 5: Lay fleece side down (right side of fleece down), cover with half of the t-shirt or flannel pieces, and then top with plastic sheeting/PUL/drapery lining.
Serge around outside edge. You can also zig-zag around the outside of the circle twice if you do not have a serger.

Tips & Warnings:

If you are not sure which side of your fleece is the correct side you can cut two small pieces and lay them down on a piece of paper. Then drop a few drops of water onto each piece (each with a different side up). Let set a few minutes and then pick up and see which one has drawn more water toward the back.

Putting a plastic back on a nursing pad can prevent air-flow, creating a perfect breeding ground for bacteria and/or yeast, which can cause breast infections or thrush. Most moms would be better off using a breathable waterproof layer like PUL. If you do use a plasticised backing, be sure to change your pads OFTEN.

OK it's time to talk food. I try to bring you unusual and new ideas and steer clear of mondaine and common. Well I have had ideas running through the head all night and all day and I have finally decided on something I find rather interesting... Flowers. So I officiaally deem the next theme FANTASTIC EDIBLE FLOWERS week. Yes, that's right... I said edible flowers! Not like flour that you bake with... oh no. I am talking flowers you decorate your house with and grow in your garden. Now I must first state that individuals consuming the flowers, plants, or derivatives listed here do so entirely at their own risk and that certain parts can be poisonous.

There are a few cautions one should remember before harvesting any flowers:

(a) Do not harvest any flowers that could have been exposed to animal excretement.

(b) Do not harvest any flowers that have had insecticides sprayed on them.

(c) Do not harvest any flowers that have had fertilizers sprayed on them unless specified for food consumption.

(d) Do not harvest any flowers from the side of roads where they have been exposed to trash, carbon monoxide etc.

(e) If you are unsure if it is edible, then do not eat it. Caution is always the best policy.

(f) If you have any allergies, consult your physician before consuming edible flowers.

(g) Do not eat any flowers from florists as they have been sprayed with pesticides.

(h) Do not pick any flowers that show signs of disease or have been eaten by insects.

So do your research, and if need be, consult an expert. The good thing about flower consumption is that nowadays you can get many of them at retail locations so its bit safer than finding them yourself. There are many things classified as "flowers" that you already use/eat and may not be aware of... such as Arugula, Basil, Chamomile, Chives, Dill, Fennel, Marjoram, Mint, Mustard, Okra, Pea, Radish, Rosemary, Sage, and Thyme. These are all common flowers we probably consume at least once a week. BUT did you know that you can also eat things like Carnations, Dandelions, Roses, Snapdragons, Pansies, and even Violets?? So this week I am proud to bring you incredible edible flower recipes! Eat (or drink LOL) & Enjoy!



Today's flower is the Carnation. Dianthus caryophyllus (aka Dianthus)

Tastes like: spicy, peppery, clove-like

Wash 1 pound carnation flowers, remove husks, stems and heels. Soak in 1 1/2 pints boiling water. Simmer for 30 minutes then let soak for 12 hours. Strains off the liquid and to it add 2 pounds sugar. Boil rapidly and reduce to scented syrup. Use over ice cream or in herbal tea.

FLORAL LIQUEUR

4 cups vodka or brandy

1-cup sugar

1 - 2 cups flowers

Place lightly bruised petals in a jar with vodka or brandy and steep for 2 days. Then, add sugar and steep for 2 weeks, shaking vigorously once or twice a day to let sugar dissolve. Strain and filter into clean decanter.
Ideas:

rose, carnation, lavendar and mint

orange zest and mint

ginger and pear

peaches and lemon verbena

raspberry and lemon balm

use a dry white wine

Well folks, that's all for me today. Thanks for joing me in the "secret garden" for some unique floral flavor and fun. I am off to pick up a few things from my trading partners on the freecycle board I am a part of. Its supposed to rain today so I have to do these pick ups early. Then its being fun and fancy free at home (thanks to the rain LOL). Be happy, be safe, and see you tomorrow everyone! HUGS!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

ELVIS HAS LEFT THE BUILDING

Hello everyone and welcome to this Sunday edition of The Frugal Mom! How are you doing today? I am in a rather funny frantic frazzle really... It's really quite humorous LOL. Time is ticking away for so many things and I know that life is going to get very hectic very fast! So I am left scrambling (my brain like eggs LOL) to try to bring life's little oops' together into one happy little bundle. So I cherish the serene time with you, my readers, as my "escape" from the frazzling frensy! So let's grab a cup of joe and enjoy our visit shall we?

Now I figure for frugal tips, I could bring you this article I saw on summer savings for trips, eating out, etc. Whether not I agree with some of them... that's another issue. However, they do offer some good tips overall and maybe some of them apply to you. So have a looksee...

Summer Savings: 21 Ways to Save Money on Restaurants, Day Trips and More
by Farnoosh Torabi

Summer's well upon us, and after last year's "staycation" trend there's some pent-up demand to go out, get away and have fun. At the same time, we still want to save money. From dining out to buying airline and concert tickets, here are some great saving strategies, ... and in some cases free deals!

Restaurants

Americans spent more than $200 billion eating out last summer, according to the U.S. Census. Some tips for lowering your dining bill include:

• Buy discounted gift certificates at restaurant.com for restaurants in your town or your destination.

• Search for free restaurant coupons at valpak.com. The site has tons of buy-one, get-one offers.

• At Happy-Hour.com find drink and meal specials at local restaurants.

Day Trips

• Look for Target free arts and culture events. The retailer offers free or discounted entry to museums, concerts and galleries across the country. This year there are more than 2,000 free events.

• Free summer movie days at Regal Theatres. The chain runs a "Free Family Film Festival," with a nine-week schedule of free movies with select days and times.

• If you're a member of a discount club like Costco or any other industry organization, like AAA, members may get discounts when they buy movie tickets in bulk. At Costco, you can buy two movie tickets for $15 and use them at participating theaters.

• The U.S. National Park Service is offering free admission on August 14-15 at more than 100 parks that normally charge a fee.

Travel

The average family of four will spend $4,000 on a vacation this summer, according to American Express. Eighty percent of those surveyed said they plan to lower their travel costs. Here's some help.

• Swap homes. Join a home exchange club like homexchange.com. There's also a housing swap section on Craigslist. Make sure to do proper background checks!

• Book plane tickets on either Tuesday or Wednesday when prices are cheapest, according to travel experts.

• Reserve hotel rooms on Sundays, when the weekend rush is over and hotel managers have time to talk on the phone and discuss available discounts.

• Take your family on a "volunteer vacation." Lodging costs are sometimes paid for (or at least offered at a big group discount rate). Earthwatch Institute and Wilderness Volunteers are two popular volunteer vacation groups.

• Travel with another family or a group of friends to try to get group rates. A group search on Priceline can help you find deals based on the type of group you are - bachelorette partiers, family reunion, school group, etc.

• According to a 2010 survey by travel site Hotwire.com, Atlanta, Orlando and Phoenix are the 3 cities that offer visitors the most bang for their buck this year. The calculation includes cost of getting there, accommodations and affordable entertainment.

• Jetsetter.com offers steep discounts on hotels, resorts and bed-and-breakfasts. I recently saved 70% on a reservation at a bed-and-breakfast in Maine.

Beach

• Hit up your local dollar store to get all your beach games and toys for much less. I found a pair of water goggles for a $1 last month at the local dollar store; when I got to the beach, a shop was offering the same goggles for $8.

• Similarly: Stock up on food, drinks, beach towels and chairs before you get to the beach. Otherwise, you're likely to pay a premium for things you can easily get for much, much less back home.

• Shop for bathing suits online on Sundays. The average discount on swim wear is greatest on Sundays, according to ShopitToMe.com.

Gas

Americans spent more than $1 billion a day on gas last summer from June to August, according to the U.S. Census.

• Fill up during the week. AAA suggests buying gas at independent stations and midweek, when it's cheaper.

• Ask your hotel if it's offering gas rebates or prepaid gasoline cards.

• Find the best gas prices online. GasBuddy will pull up a list of stations, ranked by price.

• Visit AAA at fuelcostcalculator.com to see how much gas you'll use up for a trip, and budget ahead of time.

OK folks I want to talk crafts. Are you getting excited? We sit here on the cusp of the Christmas Challenge and I thought about my mom's homemade stuffed ornaments she used to make for our tree when we were little. She would make ornaments of all kinds: Christmas trees, candy canes, wreaths, you name it. Then I thought how if you enlarged those patterns they make beautiful and/or whimsical decorative items for the holidays and good stuffed toys for the little peeps! You could make smaller plushies to hang on the presents you give (like decorate the package with) that people can use as ornaments. Or you could go all out and make bigger versions to use as toys and home decor for the holidays! Either way I think this is a great idea and I wanted to bring you one for consideration.



Craft Idea of the Day: Plushie Candy Canes

Materials:

Striped (preferably diagonal) red and white fabric about 2 ft x 1 ft
White thread
Polyester stuffing
Sewing machine
Two googly eyes
Small piece of red yarn
Craft glue
Scissors

Directions:

Fold the fabric in half so you have two layers of fabric with the wrong side facing you.

Sketch out your candy cane design around 10 inch in length and around 2 inch wide.

Cut out your cane allowing a little extra for sewing.

Sew your two pieces together leaving a gap at one end. Turn your cane the right way out.

Using the toy filling stuff your cane as firm or as soft as you would like it.

Finish up by sewing the end of the cane closed and gluing on your candy cane face.



Now... the Bible states that on the 7th day, God rested... and so shall the king. On this final day of PERFECTLY PRESLEY week, I want to talk about the King's (less than) graceful exit. Now many "enthusiasts" say the King is still alive. I don't believe that. The last 7 years of his life was plagued with hardships and worrysome lifestyles. By the end, he suffered from multiple ailments—glaucoma, high blood pressure, liver damage, and an enlarged colon, each aggravated, and possibly caused, by the heavy drug abuse. Presley was scheduled to fly out of Memphis on the evening of August 16, 1977, to begin another tour. That afternoon, Alden discovered him unresponsive on his bathroom floor. Attempts to revive him failed, and death was officially pronounced at 3:30 pm at Baptist Memorial Hospital.

President Jimmy Carter issued a statement that credited Presley with having "permanently changed the face of American popular culture". Thousands of people gathered outside Graceland to view the open casket. One of Presley's cousins, Billy Mann, accepted $18,000 to secretly photograph the corpse; the picture appeared on the cover of the National Enquirer's biggest-selling issue ever. Alden struck a $105,000 deal with the Enquirer for her story, but settled for less when she broke her exclusivity agreement. Presley left her nothing in his will.



Presley's funeral was held at Graceland, on Thursday, August 18. Outside the gates, a car plowed into a group of fans, killing two women and critically injuring a third. I'm sorry, I don't care who you are, your life is NOT worth MY death! (With the exception of my family of course...) Approximately 80,000 people lined the processional route to Forest Hill Cemetery, where Presley was buried next to his mother. Within a few days, "Way Down" topped the country and UK pop charts. An attempt was made to steal the singer's body in late August. After zoning issues were addressed, the remains of both Elvis Presley and his mother were reburied in Graceland's Meditation Garden on October 2. This just proves that even the famous are not perfect and we should regard them for who they truly are... deep down just ordinary people like you and I. I have great respect and admiration for Elvis and his work... He truly was a phenom in his own regards. R.I.P. Elvis... you are loved my dear!

So now tell me... we must have "the final supper" fit for a king right? Well I have brought you his favorites throughout the week. Now it is time for the week end's feast and I am gonna use the foods AGAIN but in a new light... are you ready for this interesting twist of culinary amazement? Just you watch this one! I'm COMBINING his favorites for some palate pulsing flavors bursting with the WOW factor! Eat & Enjoy!

Combining the mashed potatoes, bacon, and sauerkraut favorites gives us:



Perogies

Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
2/3 cup cold water
1 pound bacon
5 pounds baking potatoes
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 pound bacon
1 (32 ounce) jar sauerkraut - drained, rinsed and minced
3 tablespoons sour cream
salt and pepper to taste

Directions

To Make Dough: In a medium bowl combine the flour, salt, egg and water. Mix all together to form dough; cover bowl and set aside.

To Make Potato Filling: Place potatoes in a large pot. Add water to cover, bring to a boil, and boil for 25 to 35 minutes or until tender. Remove potatoes from water and mash. Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Drain, crumble and stir into mashed potatoes. Stir in cheese and season with salt and pepper.

To Make Sauerkraut Filling: Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Drain, crumble and place in a medium bowl. Stir in sauerkraut, then sour cream. Mix well.

Roll reserved dough out on a floured surface. Cut circles out of dough, using a small round container. Place a spoonful of potato or sauerkraut filling in the center of each circle and fold over, pinching edges together to seal. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil; drop perogies in boiling water and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until they float. Remove and drain for a moment and then deep fry them until golden brown and crispy.

Combining the Pork chop and peanut butter (from the sandwiches) gives us:



Thai Pork with Peanut Sauce

Ingredients

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 boneless pork chops, about 3/4-inch thick
1/3 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 tablespoons peanut butter
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup chopped green onion
1/4 cup sliced red bell pepper
1/4 cup coarsely chopped dry roasted peanuts
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Directions

On a plate, combine the flour, cumin, cayenne pepper and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Stir to distribute the spices. Coat the pork chops with the flour mixture, and shake off any excess.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Place the pork chops in the hot skillet, and fry for about 4 minutes per side, until cooked through.

While the pork chops cook, stir together the chicken broth, coconut milk, peanut butter, honey, ginger and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Remove the pork chops to a serving platter, and keep warm.

Pour the peanut sauce into the skillet. Cook, stirring constantly for 2 minutes, or until thickened. Pour peanut sauce over the chops, and garnish with green onion, bell pepper, peanuts and cilantro.

And finally, let's combine the boneless chicken, the cornbread, and the blackberries from the pie... LOL and somehow bacon finds it way to a second appearance LOL, to give us:



Savory Stuffed Chicken Breast with Blackberry Glaze

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 (6 ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
Salt and pepper to taste
2 pieces cornbread, crumbled
2 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
2 tablespoons minced celery
2 tablespoons minced onion
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup chicken stock
1/3 cup chicken stock
1/3 cup blackberry jam

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Heat olive oil in a skillet over high heat. Using a paring knife, cut a pocket into the side of each breast. Place into skillet and sear until lightly browned on both sides, but not cooked through. Set aside.

Combine cornbread, bacon, celery, onion, butter, and 1/4 cup chicken stock; mix until well combined. Stuff each breast with cornbread mixture.

Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes.

While the chicken is baking, bring 1/3 cup chicken stock to a simmer. Whisk in jam, and simmer over medium-low heat until most of the chicken stock has evaporated.

Pour glaze over chicken breasts, and cook for an additional 10 minutes and the center of the stuffed breast reaches 160 degrees F (70 degrees C).

Okie dokie peeps... that's it for today. I have had an awesome adventure bringing you the life and times of one of my most favorite topics, Elvis Presley, this week and hope you have had as much fun as I have! I dunno what theme could possibly top this one with more fun and flare?! It will be a doozy for sure LOL! Either way I am having great fun bringing you themes with pizazz! So until next time my little Elvisites... "Elvis has left the building!"... "Thank you... Thank you very much"... HUGS!