Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Chubby Fashionista Bandana Skirt

Do you have a Chubby Fashionista in your life?  Does she outgrow everything within a week? 

Here's an inexpensive skirt that will last for a little while.  Using ribbon in the waist band lets the skirt expand with her chubby tummy.  The finished skirt will be around 8 inches long.  Your chubby darling will be able to wear it until it gets too short. 

Have you looked at bandanas lately?  I don't think they're just for cowboys anymore.  Bandanas come in all kinds of colors and patterns these days.  Around here they range in price from $1.00 to $2.00.  You may spend more for the ribbon than for the bandana, but this is an adorable skirt!    

You need: 

1 Bandana or a 22 inch square of fabric
Ribbon, at least 44 inches
Scissors or Rotary Cutter
Sewing Machine

Fold the bandana in half twice, making a square. 

Fold in half one more time, being conscious of which way you want the bandana pattern to run on the skirt. 
Line up the bandana on your cutting board so that two inches can be cut from the top.  If you don't care for rotary cutters, just measure down two inches and cut with scissors.

Keep the smaller piece of fabric for a Chubby Fashionista Rose Accessory

With right sides facing sew the two larger pieces of bandana together, making one long piece of fabric about 9 inches tall and 43 inches long.  Iron the seam flat. 

Along the top unfinished edge, fold down one half inch of fabric and zig zag.  The sewing is easier if you iron this first.
Fold down the top edge of fabric again to make a casing.  Fold it down about one inch, press, then sew with a straight stitch close to the edge.  If your ribbon is extra wide, you may want to make the casing wider than one inch.
With right sides together, sew the ends together, up to the casing.  Make sure you leave the casing open.  Thread a piece of ribon through the casing.  I use at least 44 inches of ribbon, sometimes more, depending on how big I want the bow.  Generally, the wider the ribbon, the longer I cut the ribbon, so our Chubby Fashionista has a big, honking bow.  Sometimes I just use narrow ribbon or even cording and cut the ribbon 44 inches.

The wonderful thing about using bandanas is that seam finishing and hemming is already done for you!  I can easily make one of these in an evening after work.  Below is the finished skirt and Chubby Fashionista Rose Accessory.
Of course the best part is dressing your Chubby Fashionista!  Here she is in Zebra!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Watch Where You are Going!

The trip from Northwest Arkansas to Kansas City is so easy.  Get on Highway 71.  Drive north.  Lock in cruise control somewhere close to the speed limit and lean back.  With minimal steering, you'll arrive in Kansas City in about three and a half hours. 

It can be a little boring unless I take my camera.  Then I am watching where I am going in hopes of snapping a cool photo.  There is so much to see when you are watching.  Now, I don't always feel comfortable pulling over and taking a picture.  I'd really rather not be squished by one of those big 18 wheelers or be kidnapped or murdered either.  I'm much too busy for that.  So with some caution in mind, I watch for something beautiful or interesting or amusing. 

OK.  So, here's the monologue in my mind.  "Ooh, look at that red tailed hawk on the power pole.  That would make a cool silhouette photo against the gray sky.  Oh, rats.  Traffic.  Oh, wow!  What a pretty pond!  I really like those cat tails.  It would look cool to photograph them low looking across the water.  Hmmm...  the shoulder of the road is narrow here, better keep going.  Oh, my, a big pile of junk.  I don't want a picture of that.  Cool barn, love that old tractor, what a gorgeous horse..."  You get the idea.  The monologue goes on and on and on and on. 

When travelling any distance, I try to schedule about a half hour or so of extra time.  That way if a small town appears to be especially charming, I can buzz through and snap a picture or two.  With some caution in mind, sometimes I stop on the side of the highway. 

I'm watching for beauty.  I'm watching for something that makes me smile.  I'm watching for joy.
I don't know where you are going, but I'd like to invite you to watch for joy!  God probably has a smile planned for you, just up ahead.  You have to watch for it though.  Watch where you are going!  Thank you for sharing my joy. 


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Stone Cottage Edible Play Dough

This is one of the easiest recipes ever.  It is tasty, nutritious and kids love it!  You probably have the ingredients sitting in your cupboard waiting for the fun to begin!   

Stone Cottage Edible Play Dough

1 Cup Peanut Butter
1 Cup Honey
1 Cup Powdered Milk
1 Cup Oatmeal 

That's it.  Dump it all in a bowl.  Mix well. 

Lay out wax paper for each child, whether they are short or tall.  (We seem to have a lot of tall children around here, disguised as grown ups.)  Give each child a scoop of dough.  I usually start with about a half cup per child.   

Grab some cookie cutters.  Have small bowls of goodies like dried fruit, candy dots, chocolate chips, mixed nuts, sugar sprinkles or coconut.   Use Stone Cottage Edible Play Dough to shape all kinds of critters and pretty things.  Accessorise the creations with the goodies.  You can also paint them with edible finger paint!

Here's the fun part!  Gobble them up! 

If there are leftovers, make small balls of Stone Cottage Edible Play Dough and chill.  You can roll them in chopped nuts, colored sugar, coconut, cocoa or mini chocolate chips.  You can even dunk them in melted chocolate for a scrumptious treat.

Be creative!  Share our joy!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Edible Finger Paint

Kids and finger paint, it's a winning combination! 
Here's what you need: 

Vanilla Pudding
Food Coloring

Make your favorite vanilla pudding - whether it is from scratch or from a box.  Scoop equal amounts into three small bowls.  Using regular ol' food coloring, color one bowl yellow, one bowl red and one bowl blue.  (If you give the kids primary colors only, they learn to mix the other colors on their own.  Mixing colors takes a little time, so the finger paint will hold their attention a little longer.)

Give each child a piece of wax paper.  They really won't need very much finger paint.  Scoop about 1 tablespoon of each color onto the side of the wax paper.  It will look sort of like an artist's palette.  They can finger paint and lick their fingers all they want.  Once they are finished, toss the waxed paper.  Any leftovers can be used to decorate graham crackers and eaten at snack time.

How does your family play with their food?  New ideas are always welcomed in our stone cottage!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Stone Cottage Dog Biscuits

More wagging.  Less barking.

We have five dogs.  Five dogs!  That's a lot of dogs.  They eat a lot of biscuits.  Kids love making biscuits for their buddies.  This is an easy recipe that keeps our furry friends wagging more and barking less.

Stone Cottage Dog Biscuits

2 1/2 Cups Whole Wheat Flour
1 Cup Peanut Butter
1/2 Cup Powdered Milk
1/2 Cup Broth, Chicken or Beef
2 Eggs

Mix all ingredients well.  The Stone Cottage Dog Biscuit dough will be very similar to play dough or sugar cookie dough.  It can be shaped and molded any number of ways.     

A quick approach is to roll dough into a log, then slice at half inch intervals.  The kids get all kinds of creative.  Sometimes, they just act like it is play dough and make crazy creatures.  They also like to use cookie cutters or roll it into balls and smoosh them flat.  Just make sure the biscuits are all about a half inch thick so they will cook evenly.  Bake them on a lightly greased cookie sheet in a pre heated 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes.  Ovens vary.  The biscuits are done when they are browned and crispy.   

Let the Stone Cottage Dog Biscuits cool before sharing with Fluffy, Fifi or Fido.  We don't want to burn anyone.  There you have it.  Kids love making 'em.  Dogs love eating 'em.  With this post, I am sending a special wink to my sweet friend, Chili Dog with Cheese on Top!  ;-)  *wink*  

Invite your furry friends to share our joy!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Soap Making Kit - Wow! That was easy!

At our Herb Society Meeting on Thursday, the speaker, Janice Neighbor, mentioned soap making.  She recommended glycerin based soaps for a quick and easy children's activity.  Knowing the weekend was supposed to be cold, I picked up a soap making kit from Hobby Lobby.  It came with one fragrance, a couple of molds and color. 

Not knowing what the fragrance would be, I grabbed some peppermint essential oil.  Peppermint always needs to be harvested around here, and it is one of our favorite scents. 

Our favorite 5 year old was excited to make soap.  He was awake at 5:45 am, asking if we could begin!  We had never done that before and I thought it might make a nice gift for his kindergarten teacher.  I think teachers deserve a lot of gifts!   

For the first batch, we kept things simple and just followed the directions on the box.  Basically, place the glycerin soap in a microwaveable dish.  Microwave for one minute, then stir.  Microwave in increments of 10 seconds until the soap is melted.  While I was melting the soap, Mr. Big Stuff was rubbing olive oil on the molds and dishes we planned to use.  It only took a very small amount of olive oil. 

While Mr. Big Stuff stirred the melted soap, I added the fragrance and the color.  We happened to get lilac fragrance in our kit which was OK, but awfully sweet smelling.  He was happy with the scent after about 9 drops of fragrance.  I added red and blue coloring, one drop at a time until he was happy with the soft lavender color.  Next I poured the soap into a couple of small dishes and into the plain mold.   

For the second batch, I harvested some peppermint from the green house.  After rinsing, we plucked the leaves from the stems and put them in our food chopper.  Mine is from Pampered Chef.   

This is a great way to let children help with chopping, but keep their sweet little fingers safe.  Mr. Big Stuff did the peppermint chopping while I melted the soap. 

He also placed one whole peppermint leaf in each of the molds.  Our kit came with a mold of frogs and turtles which was a big hit with our favorite 5 year old. 

Once the soap was melted, the chopped peppermint leaves and the peppermint essential oil was added while Mr. Big Stuff did the stirring.  He wanted his frogs and turtles to be green, so I added blue and yellow coloring one drop at a time until he liked the color.  The soap was then poured into the molds and allowed to cool. 

It didn't take much time at all to set.  By the time we had finished breakfast, the soap was cool and popped right out of the plastic molds that came with our kit.  Mr. Big Stuff grabbed a frog soap he had made and went to the bath tub without arguing.  Hmmm...  without arguing! 

Interestingly, the lilac soap in the dishes stuck to the bowls.  All I did was zap them in the microwave, add some more color and then pour them into the plastic molds. 

That worked great since I had not completely filled the molds.  I also liked the two tone effect.   

This was a fun, easy project.  We will definitely be doing more!

Nothing says "joy" like some peppermint scented turtle soap! 

Too Cold to Go Out

"Too wet to go out and too cold to play ball.  So we sat in the house.  We did nothing at all.  So all we could do was to Sit!  Sit!  Sit!  Sit!  And we did not like it.  Not one little bit."

Do you recognize those lines from Dr. Seuss' Cat in the Hat?  What a wonderful book.

We had a similar experience with the weather recently.  Too cold to go out, but there is a 5 year old who needs to be entertained...  Or else.  This particular 5 year old has gorgeous brown eyes, is very intelligent and is incredibly energetic.  He doesn't need a lot of sleep either.  Whew!  We have to be prepared for cold days with Mr. Big Stuff. 

Being outdoor types, we are pretty aware of weekend forecasts.  At the Herb Society meeting on Thursday, the  speaker had mentioned glycerin soap was a great project for kids.  Easy and quick for those with short attention spans.  So, on Friday I had picked up a soap making kit.  It came with a couple of different types of soap, two molds, one fragrance and some coloring.  I grabbed a second fragrance, just in case one wasn't enough. 

At about 5:45 am, Mr. Big Stuff was awake and ready to make soap.  So, that's where we started.  Soap making was surprisingly easy!  Melt the soap in the microwave, add fragrance and color, pour into a mold.  He liked it.  We melted, scented, colored and molded a second batch.  That was enough soap making.  He was bored with it.  When asked to take his bath though, Mr. Big Stuff grabbed one of the soaps we had made and went to the bathtub without arguing!  Hmmm...  without arguing. 

It was time for the library.  Hooray for public libraries!!  He chose three movies then skipped over to the computers.  Our library allows 20 minutes per person on the computers in the Children's Area.  Handsome Husband sat near Mr. Big Stuff while I chose a book for myself.  Then we swapped.  With books for both grown ups, we read and chatted while Mr. Big Stuff played on the computer.  We actually got a brief, much needed, rest.  He chose books for himself and we checked out.   

After running a few errands, we were back home.  Lunchtime came, then we read his books.  Our next project was mixing together some dog biscuits and baking them.  That took a little while, but he was ready to really burn some energy.  Thankfully, the floor plan of our stone cottage makes a big circle, which is perfect for wild pedaling on a red tricycle.  I'm not sure how many laps he made that day, but all the dogs begged to go outside.  Apparently, they would rather be cold than trust a 5 year old on a red  tricycle.  It didn't take long until he was bored with that, so we made edible play dough and edible finger paint.  After another meal and another bath, and getting on pajamas, we settled in to watch one of his movies. 

Mr. Big Stuff actually fell asleep watching a movie from the library.  Whew!   

Thankfully there was warm sunshine on Sunday.  Mr. Big Stuff went outside and ran and ran and ran.  The grown ups sat down to rest! 

Winter is on its way.  There will be more days when it is "too wet to go out and too cold to play ball"!  How do you keep your little ones entertained?  I would love to hear about it.  We grown ups need to stick together!

I'll post these tutorials so your family can share our joy!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Meeting a Matriarch

The Matriarch on my father's side of the family has led a fascinating life.  She worked as a nurse for fifty years, mostly in hospitals on the labor and delivery floor.  Oh, my, the stories she can tell!  She is spunky and fun.  She is also stubborn, like most members of our family.  Her eyes still sparkle and her laugh is vibrant, but her health is beginning to dim.  She needs to use a walker now.  She is the last of her generation and  current owner of property that has belonged to my father's family for several generations.     

Handsome Husband and I helped her with mowing, weed eating, and other outdoor chores this summer, the things that are difficult to handle along with a walker.  We enjoyed being at her home on a regular basis.  Her sense of humor is unmatched. 

On August 27th our family welcomed a beautiful baby girl.  She is quite the Fashionista, if Fashionistas are chubby.  She is two months old now and has begun to interact with her surroundings.  New babies bring such joy wherever they arey.     

This week we took our Chubby Fashionista to meet our Beloved Matriarch.  They were quite enamored with one another.  The Matriarch spoke gently, and the Chubby Fashionista smiled and said "Goo".  Everyone laughed.   

A precious baby's "goo" blended with her great great aunt's laughter.  Now that's a beautiful harmony.  I wonder if God was sharing our joy.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Tropical Granola

Here's the latest experiment in granola making.  Y'all are probably going to laugh at me, but it tastes pretty good! 

Do you ever buy those bags of trail mix that have dried fruit and nuts all jumbled together?  Well, I don't like peanuts.  (I like peanut butter, but don't like peanuts which makes NO sense.)  This dislike for peanuts is how I found Tropical Trail Mix.  It is one of the few that doesn't have peanuts.  Tropical Trail Mix has papaya, pineapple, banana chips, almonds, cashews, macadamia nuts, that's all I remember, but you get the idea.  One day while I was munching Tropical Trail Mix, it occurred to me, I had never noticed granola made with tropical fruits.  So I just went trucking over to the grocery store and looked specifically for items I would like in a tropical granola.  I found a bag called Organic Nature's Trail Mix that had pepitas, sunflower seeds, cranberries and dates.  I got that and grabbed a lemon.  Here's the recipe. 

3 1/2 Cups Oatmeal
2 Cups Tropical Trail Mix  (Pineapple, papaya, golden raisins, mixed nuts)
1 Cup OrganicTrail Mix   (Pepitas, sunflower seeds, soy nuts, cranberries, dates)
1 Cup Almonds
2 Cups Coconut

Dump these items into a large bowl.  Don't they look pretty together?  
1/2 Cup Agave Nectar (or Honey)
1/2 Cup Butter
1 Small Can Sweetened, Condensed Milk
Zest and Juice of 1 Lemon

Place agave nectar, butter and condensed milk in microwaveable bowl. 
Microwave just until everything is softened.  This took a couple of minutes in my microwave.  There's a lot of sticky in this bowl!  Stir until combined.
Now it's time for the lemon.  (Pause for commercial break.  If you like citrus zest, but don't have a Microplane zester, stop what you are doing and go get one.  I found this one in that Kitchen Store in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.  'Kind of pricey, but worth every nickel.  Now, back to our regularly scheduled recipe.) 

Grate lemon zest and juice lemon into other wet ingredients.  Stir to combine, and pour over dry ingredients.  You want to evenly coat the dry ingredients and make sure the fruit and nuts are evenly distributed throughout the oatmeal.  Press into a 9 x 13 baking dish.
Next, bake at 250 for about an hour.  Ovens vary.  The Tropical Granola is done when it is golden brown.
By adding the condensed milk, Tropical Granola is soft and chewy, almost like a cookie.  It was nice to make a granola without cinnamon.  'Different twist for us.  We like granola bars.  If you wanted it to be crispy and crumbly, spread evenly on a large cookie sheet. 

This is one of the dishes I took to Craft Day in November.  Tropical Granola was a big hit with the artsy crowd!  Thank you for sharing my joy!    


Friday, November 11, 2011

Peanut Butter Granola

'Got a sweet tooth?  Me, too!  I make a lot of granola in hopes there will be a little nutrition mixed in with the sweet stuff!  This recipe is pretty basic, using peanut butter instead of butter.  If your family doesn't like peanut butter, swap it for regular butter.  Granola is a nice way to clean out the kitchen cabinets.  Just about any dried fruit and nut combo is yummy.  

2 Cups Oatmeal
1 Cup Raisins
1 Cup Coconut
1 Cup Mixed Nuts

1/2 Cup Honey
1/2 Cup Peanut Butter
2 Teaspoons Cinnamon
1 Teaspoon Ginger
1/2 Teaspoon Allspice
Salt to taste (If the mixed nuts are salted, additional salt probably won't be necessary)

Dump the dry ingredients into a large bowl.  Put the honey and peanut butter in a microwaveable bowl and microwave just enough to soften the peanut butter. 
For my microwave, that's about one minute.  Stir the honey, peanut butter and spices until smooth and combined.  Pour over dry ingredients.  Stir/toss until covered.  You'll also want to make sure it is stirred enough that the nuts and raisins are evenly distributed throughout the oatmeal. 
Press granola into a lightly greased baking dish.  We like chewy granola bars, so for this size recipe, I use a square baking dish.  If you would rather have it crispy and crumbly, use a 9 x 13 baking dish.  Bake at 250 for about one hour.  Ovens vary.  When the granola is done, it will be a nice golden brown. 
Mmm...  Warm granola on a chilly day!  Thank you for stopping by and sharing our joy!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Thank You to My Beautiful Sister

There are some wonderful flea markets on Main Street in Gentry, Arkansas.  Not long ago, my Beautiful Sister and I visited them on a blustery, rainy day.  And my shoe was broken.  I was wearing a pair of beaded sandals for the first time.  They were darling.  But then a strap snapped on one of them.  Gasp!  (Yes, this is important to the story.)  So, I should have been having a ball, shopping and chatting with my sister, but I was Just A Girl with a Broken Shoe.  (Dramatic music.)  Have you ever felt that way?  Just A Girl with a Broken Shoe.  (Dramatic music.) 

While we were shopping, I saw an amber colored pig platter that I liked and a crackled green tea pot that I liked.  Both were reasonably priced and well within my budget.  But I was Just A Girl with a Broken Shoe, so neither were purchased. 

Well, I saw my Beautiful Sister this week and she had a couple of gifts for me. 

You guessed it - an amber colored pig platter and a crackled green tea pot.  Both were given a place of honor in my kitchen.

I love how chubby the pig looks.  He is a perfect serving platter here in Razorback Country.  Won't he look cute on a table with my red stuff?    

Can you see the wonderful crackle pattern and gorgeous color?  I love this tea pot and I love my sister! 

So thank you to my Beautiful Sister for helping out A Girl with a Broken Shoe.  (Happy ending music.) 

Thank you for sharing my joy!


Friday, November 4, 2011

*HOT* Jalapeno Jelly

OK...  This jelly is not for the faint of heart.  Handsome Husband likes *HOT* peppers.  Not me.  If you like things spicy, you will love this recipe.

*HOT* Jalapeno Jelly

13 Jalapeno Peppers
1 1/2 Cups Vinegar
1/2 Cup Water
4 1/2 Cups Sugar
Salt to Taste
2 Packages of 1.75 ounce Fruit Pectin
Green Food Coloring, if you want
4 - 5 Clean Half Pint Jars
Rinse jalapenos, remove tops.  Halve 2 jalapenos and toss in food processor with seeds and membrane.  Halve and remove the seeds and white membrane from the rest of the jalapenos.  Quarter one jalapeno and place one piece in each of the clean half pint jars.
Process the rest of the jalapenos and one cup of vinegar in food processor until jalapenos are a fine pulp.
Pour processed jalapenos and vinegar into a 6 - 8 quart sauce pan.  Add 1/2 cup vinegar.  Simmer 15 - 20 minutes.  At this point, I pour the contents of the sauce pan into a measuring cup to make sure I have enough prepared jalapenos.  (I love these "Batter Bowls" from Pampered Chef as they are great big measuring cups.)  You have the option of using the pulp or straining it.  If you don't like the idea of pulp in the jelly, strain it through a colander with either cheese cloth or a coffee filter in the bottom.  We leave the pulp in the jelly.  (Does that make it jam?)  At least one cup of prepared jalapenos (or strained jalapeno juice) is needed. 
If you want to add food coloring, do so.  I usually don't add coloring.  This is how the jalapenos look without additional color.  Put them back in the sauce pan, add the water, salt and sugar.  Stir constantly until boiling.  Add pectin.  Continue stirring and bring back to a boil.  Let boil hard for one minute.  Ladle over jalapeno quarter in clean half pint jars.  Process in boiling water 10 minutes.  Did I mention this stuff is *HOT*?
'Can't really see the color in this picture... It's kind of a dark green.  This is how it compares to the Sweet Mint Jelly and Savory Mint Jelly.
This recipe makes 4 - 5 half pints.  Share our joy!  :-)