Monday, February 27, 2017

Frugal Handmade Gift Idea - Crochet Slippers and a Free Pattern Link

I LOVE it when I find cute, simple patterns that are suitable for gift making and giving!  I think these adorable crochet slippers fit the bill perfectly!  And better yet is that there is a FREE CROCHET PATTERN made available thru the Redheart website! You can find the pattern by clicking here!

I changed up the trim around the slippers just a bit by crocheting a picot border instead of that in the pattern.  I really like how these slippers turned out.  So much so that I made another pair in a colorway similar to that on the website! 

It takes less than a skein of yarn to crochet the slippers.  You can even use yarn scraps to make the flowers, leaves and border using yarn stash that you have on hand.  That is a pretty frugal and thrifty gift idea in my book!  And they are SUPER CUTE! 

I am happy to add these slippers to my gift stash! 

Do you keep a stash of handmade gifts on hand too?

Friday, November 20, 2015

Lemon Chicken Soup

 For cool fall days not much beats a pot of homemade soup to warm you to your core. This week is one that called out for something hot, soothing and delicious, so Lemon Chicken Soup is what I cooked up for the family.

Lemon Chicken Soup
8 cups of homemade chicken broth is best or substitute with store bought
2 cup Orzo
3 cups shredded chicken
2 - 3 lemons for juice and jest
3 large eggs
salt and pepper to taste
Parboil one whole chicken and shred or pick up a precooked rotisserie chicken at the grocery. You will use approximately three cups of shredded chicken.
Pour eight cups of chicken broth into a large pot and let come to a boil.  Add two cups of  Orzo and allow to cook for about five minutes.  Reduce heat to simmer and add the shredded chicken to your pot.  In a separate bowl break open three large eggs and whisk.  Juice 2 - 3 lemons (remove any seeds) and add to the eggs and whisk mixture together.  Reserve some of the lemon zest from the lemons to add to the soup.  Temper your whisked eggs by taking one cup of the hot chicken broth and add it slowly to your egg and lemon mixture a little bit at a time whisking as you add the hot liquid.  Now you can slowly add your eggs to the pot of soup.  Allow to simmer for about 25 - 30 minutes.  Salt and pepper to taste.

 Enjoy your hearty bowl of lemon chicken soup!

What is your favorite soup?

Monday, November 2, 2015

Chicken Mull - A Southern Favorite Comfort Food

Graphic Courtesy of FPTFY
When I was a child we lived in the city and most of my father's birth family lived in the country.  They lived a couple of hours away but we visited often.  I loved going to my uncle Ed's and aunt Ethel's house around meal time because my aunt Ethel was a wonderful southern country cook and you were bound to be fed delightful, made from scratch, home cooked meals.

I giggle when I recall how she would busily, but happily, be running all around in the kitchen and would bring out about every pot, pan and dish she owned in preparation for her feasts.  There would be multiple runs to the root cellar and to the pantry, which was filled with her home grown and home canned fruits and vegetables. She was delightful!

Cast iron or stainless steel pots and pans and skillets filled her kitchen.  And her kitchen cabinets held mostly common ironstone dinnerware.  She had no fine china or silverware.  But every inch of her home was filled with love and her kitchen was filled with the best home cooked food you would ever want to put in your mouth.  And when you were there you knew you would not leave hungry!  

Most of the rest of my father's family lived near to my aunt and uncle and sometimes they would all just gather there when we came to visit. Come mealtime all of the women folk would gather in her huge country kitchen to help prepare the meal. It was a wonderful time in the kitchen and some of my fondest memories of my father's family were made right there in my aunt Ethel's kitchen. 

One of my favorite dishes that my aunt Ethel made was a dish called Chicken Mull.  I know that this is a southern dish and many of you may have never heard of it.  I also know the name of this dish is not a very appetizing sounding kind of name!  But it is a really good and satisfying and is a simple dish with not a lot of ingredients.  It's a family favorite comfort food for a cool weather, snuggle up kind of day. 

my version of my aunt Ethel's chicken mull
Ingredient list:
1 whole chicken (cooked and shredded) and the liquid that you cooked your chicken in
1 12 ounce can of evaporated milk
12 - 16 ounces of whole milk
if more liquid is needed add an additional quart of homemade or store brand chicken broth
2 tablespoons of butter or margarine
1 - 2 stacks or sleeves of saltine crackers
Salt and Pepper to taste
In a large pot cover one whole chicken with cold water and add some salt and pepper and cook until tender.  Once the chicken is done and fall off the bone tender, remove it from the pot and place it  on a plate.  Save the liquids left from cooking the chicken.  Allow the chicken to cool enough to handle so that you can remove the chicken and shred it.   Once shredded, place the chicken back in the pot
and add 2 tablespoons of butter or margarine, and if needed add a quart of homemade or store bought chicken broth, a 12 ounce can of evaporated milk and 12 to 16 ounces of whole milk.  Allow to come to a rolling boil.  Once a rolling boil has happened, take your stack (or two) of saltine crackers and break them up and add them to your pot.  Allow to boil for just a few minutes and then turn down to low heat allowing the crackers to cook a bit and absorb some liquid into them.  Season to your taste with salt and pepper. 
This recipe is very forgiving.  If you want it thicker add more saltines or less liquid.  Want it not so thick?  Just add more liquid.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Vintage Vera Neumann Linens and Tablecloths

I love vintage linens and have a few pieces that I have collected. Not only do I love all of the handiwork of hand crocheted or hand embroidered pieces, but I also love the colorful and beautiful prints of vintage linens from Wilendur, Vera Neumann, and others. Today I thought I would share some of my vintage Vera Neumann collection with you.

I love the beautiful bold designs of Vera Neumann!


Notice that the ladybug is not present on this set of napkins.
There are still Vera Neumann linens, scarfs, fabric and dinnerware available on the market today, so if you love her designs you may find something that you like on the internet at places like Ebay and Etsy. 
I am including some links for those who may be interested in learning a bit about vintage Vera Neumann linens.
Do you collect vintage linens?  What are your favorites?


Monday, October 19, 2015

Amazing Homemade Shower and Tub Cleaner

Yuk! The dreaded job of cleaning the bathtub and shower!

We have fiberglass tubs around here that have that wonderful little dimply surface. You know that surface........ Yep, all those little dimples holds onto all of that grime and soap scum making cleaning it all out a pain in the hiney for sure!  Yuck!

But there is an amazing solution!! Thanks to many other smart folks around Google land for posting a recipe for THE most amazing shower and tub cleaner!  A soap scum blasting miracle tub cleaner it is!! And it is sooooooooo simple! And sooooooo frugal and thrifty! And amazingly wonderful!!!!  Can you tell that I love this stuff!  Hey, anything that makes my life easier is thumbs up in my book!

White Distilled Vinegar
Dawn Blue Dishwashing Liquid

What else do you need?  One spray bottle

How to:
Pour 2/3rd of  a spray bottle with white distrilled vinegar. ( You can warm it first if you like but I did not).

Fill the remainder of the spray bottle(1/3) with Dawn Blue Dishwashing Liquid.

You can do the solution half and half if you like but I found that 2/3rd and 1/3rd combination works just fine for me.

Spray it on the shower, tub and the sliding glass doors.  You can let it sit for a bit if you want. The thickness of the Dawn helps it to stay in place for a bit. 

All I had to do was clean with a non-abrasive sponge,  a flexible scrub brush for the dimply floor of the shower stall and a small toothbrush for smaller, hard to reach areas!

It worked amazingly well! And easy breezy too!  I am one happy lady!

An easily cleaned shower and tub.  Ah......!  I love clean, don't you?  And easy cleaning is a good thing!

Do you have a favorite shower and tub cleaner?  Please share in the comments!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Dehydrating Oranges

My new found kitchen appliance love is my Nesco American Harvest Gardenmaster dehydrator! Talk about a space saver for food storage! I had been researching and trying to decide which dehydrator to purchase and my decision was narrowed down to an Excalibur and a Nesco American Harvest dehydrator.  When I found a brand new unused Nesco on craigslist for $40, that became my decision breaker and so I purchased it and brought it home.

One of the first fruits that I dehydrated was some organic, seedless navel oranges.  Preparation was easy. I simply soaked the oranges in a water / vinegar / salt solution for about 15 minutes, rinsed them well and sliced them with my mandoline slicer approximately 1/4 inch thick.

I arranged the orange slices on the shelves of the dehydrator in a single layer and dried them for about 12 hours. Drying time can vary according to the size of the load, the thickness of the fruit and the moisture content of the fruit as well as the moisture in the air.  It's helpful to keep a written journal or record of your dehydrating times for future use.

Lemons and Limes can be dehydrated using this same method.

Do you dehydrate any foods?  What is your favorite?

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Seed Saving: Harvesting Heirloom Yellow Crookneck Squash Seeds


Fall is here and our garden is coming to it's end.  If you are a gardener you are probably like me and are already thinking about next year's garden!

One thing that I do is to observe varieties that did well for me so that I can replant successful varieties next year!  At the end of the season I allow some of my best producing heirloom vegetable plants to grow their vegetable well beyond their maturity in order to harvest some mature seeds to save for next year's planting. 

So here I will show you how I harvested some heirloom yellow crookneck squash seeds. It's a simple process and saving heirloom seeds allows you to grow free food next year.  Isn't that a great thing?  Free food! I love that!
Heirloom Seed Saving:  How to Harvest Heirloom Yellow Crookneck Squash Seeds

Choose a mature squash that is well beyond it's picking peak for consumption. It will be large and bumpy and will therefore contain lots of seeds.

Slice the squash into sections and remove the seeds.  I try to go thru and choose the most mature, plump seeds for harvesting.
Heirloom Yellow Crookneck Squash Seeds

Work thru the gooey membrane and pull out the seeds.
Seed Saving Heirloom Yellow Crookneck Squash
Lay the seeds in a thin layer on a paper towel and allow them to dry out completely. It will take several days for this to be accomplished.  You want to make sure they are dried out completely because you do not want any moisture left remaining so that the seeds will not mold.

Once you are sure that the seeds are completely dried out, place the seeds into an envelope.  Clearly mark the seed variety and the date that they were harvested on the outside of the envelope. Store in a cool, dry place until time to plant next year!

Do you harvest your heirloom seeds too?

Monday, September 7, 2015

On the Spindle - Polwarth and Silk Blend

Spinning Polwarth / Silk Fiber

I recently purchased some 85 percent Polwarth /  15% Silk blend of fiber.  Polwarth is a breed of sheep that is a cross between merino and lincoln sheep.  Polwarth fiber is next to skin soft and has a nice staple length  that makes it easy to spin even using a hand spindle.  It has been a joy to spin!  I am hoping to get around five hundred yards of two ply yarn off of this four ounces of top roving. 

 Do you have any experience spinning polwarth? I would love for you to share your handspun so you are welcome to link in the comments!