Friday, April 18, 2014

P is for Patching Pants

Skill Level: Beginner
Skills Attained: Patching 
  • Iron-On Mending Fabric
  • Paper
  • Iron & Ironing Board
  • Scissors
If you have a little boy in your life, you will most certainly want to tune into this post on how to patch holes in pants. There is something about the way the boys play and rough house that creates such a great opportunity to ruin their clothes. I find it helpful to have a few mending techniques in my back pocket that allow me to save a few dollars by repairing rather than buying new. 

Just last month, my three year old son put his first hole in his pants. So I will walk you through the first time I put a patch on my son's pants. It's very simple and requires no sewing!

You will need iron-on mending fabric that you can get at a local fabric store. You'll want to get a color that matches the article of clothing that you are mending. Keep in mind that this patch will be visible even if the colors match. This type of patch is more for functional purposes rather than aesthetic purposes.

Cut the mending fabric, or patch, slightly larger than the size of the hole. I like to round the corners of the patch. Place a piece of paper behind the layer of fabric you are patching so that the adhesive material on the patch doesn't stick to other parts of the article of clothing. Set the patch with the shiny side down over the hole. Use a hot iron and press the patch for 20-30 seconds to ensure a bond.

There you have it! The hole is fixed, and your child can get back to rough housing. 

Check out more posts on my 2014 A to Z Challenge!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

O is for Oatmeal Bake

Skill Level: Beginner
Skills Attained: --
  • 2/3 c. vegetable oil
  • 2/3 c. brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 4 1/4 c. old-fashion oats
  • 1 1/2 c. milk (plus additional for serving)
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 apple (peeled, cored, and diced)
  • 1/2 c. raisins
  • 1/2 c. pecans (chopped)
  • 9" x 13" baking dish
  • Cooking spray
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Wooden spoon

My in-laws get credit for today's post. Actually, I believe this is my sister-in-law's husband's family's recipe. (Is it possible for me to use more possessive apostrophes in that sentence? Ha!) I first tasted this warm and comforting breakfast dish when we were all together as family one weekend. I love oatmeal, and I love finding new ways to prepare it. This recipe is a great twist on an old favorite. I hope you enjoy it as much as my family does! 

Oatmeal Bake

In a large mixing bowl, mix the vegetable oil, brown sugar, and eggs.

Then, add the baking powder and salt. Stir to combine.

Add the oats and milk. Stir to combine.

Add mix-ins of your choice: dried fruit, nuts, apples, cinnamon, etc.

Pour mixture into a 9" x 13" greased baking dish.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Serve with warm milk. Enjoy!

Check out more posts on my 2014 A to Z Challenge!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

N is for No Bake Cookies

Skill Level: Beginner
Skills Attained: no-bake cookies
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3 T. cocoa
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter (not natural, it won't melt properly)
  • ~3 cups oatmeal (quick oats are best, but I often use old-fashion rolled oats)
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • Medium-Size Sauce Pan
  • Wooden Spoon
  • 2 - Cookie Sheets
  • Parchment/Wax Paper
  • 2 teaspoons

No Bake Cookies are one of my favorite stand-by recipes in my arsenal of desserts. This is such a simple recipe, and for some reason, I generally have all of these ingredients on hand. The peanut butter-chocolate combination pleases any crowd! 

In a medium saucepan on the stove over medium to high heat, melt the butter and then add the sugar, cocoa, and milk. Bring the mixture to a boil, and boil for 1 minute. 

Remove the pan from the heat and add the peanut butter and vanilla. (I like to have the peanut butter measured out before the mixture comes to a boil.)  Add these ingredients first and stir so it melts and combines evenly. 

Stir in the oatmeal one cup at a time. The amount of oatmeal you add will depend on how gooey you like the cookies and how long the chocolate mixture cooked. Sometimes I have added as much as 3 3/4 cups of oatmeal. 

Using the teaspoons, quickly drop the cookies onto the waxed paper before the mixture hardens. 

Refrigerate approximately one hour or until the cookies set. 

Check out more posts on my 2014 A to Z Challenge!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

M is for Maple Syrup

I never realized how polarizing a topic "syrup" could be until I married my husband. I've always enjoyed real, pure maple syrup. I have fond memories of helping friends make maple syrup at their sugar bush, and I even lived on Maple Street.  We had over 75 maple trees in our yard! Soon after our wedding, I found out that my husband always used Mrs. Buttersworth. Now, I didn't begrudge my husband for liking Mrs. Buttersworth, but I was shocked to learn that he actually preferred Mrs. Buttersworth over the real-deal maple syrup. It's taken me a few years, but he is finally a convert to real maple syrup. So if you've never had maple syrup, it's definitely worth the try (and the few extra dollars)! 

So, what do you put on your pancakes or waffles? 

Check out more posts on my 2014 A to Z Challenge!

Monday, April 14, 2014

L is for Laundry Detergent

Skill Level: Beginner
Skills Attained: DIY Detergent

  • Bar of Soap
  • Borax 
  • Washing Soda
  • Cheese Grater
  • Large Pot (large enough to hold two gallons of water)
  • Wooden Spoon
  • (2) Gallon Milk Jugs (empty)
  • Funnel
  • Ladle

I started making my own laundry detergent last year. (If any of my friends or family are reading this post, they my fall over in their seats. I'm not usually this "earthy".) What was my main motive in doing this? Money. Every once in a while I challenge myself to cut costs in our family's budget. I was first inspired -- as many people are these days -- when I saw a few websites walking me through the process on Pinterest, and I thought, "I can totally do that!" 

As I mentioned, there are many blogs that walk you through how to do this, and my method does not deviate from many of those. In case you're interested, here's how I do it:

Grate one bar of soap into a large pot. You can use any type of soap you would like. I just use what I have on hand. Today, it happened to be Dove. If you'd like a scent to your detergent, you could use a lavender soap or something similar. 

Add one gallon of water and heat on the stove until the soap has dissolved. 

Add one cup of Borax (No, not "Borat". Borax is a "detergent booster" -- not quite sure what that means.)  and one cup of washing soda. I found both of these items at my local grocery store. Bring the mixture to a boil. (Keep an eye on the pot so the mixture does not boil over. That happened to me, and it got everywhere! I guess there are worse things to spill all over your stove than soap:) 

Remove from heat and add one gallon of cool water. As you can see, I need a bigger pot, but it's all I have, so I work with it:) 

Once the detergent has cooled, funnel it into your milk jugs. As the mixture cools, it will congeal. To use, add 1/2 c. of the detergent to your washing machine per load of laundry. 

I haven't done an actual breakdown on the cost savings, but I would estimate the cost of this homemade laundry detergent to store bought detergent is pennies on the dollar.

If any of you are wondering, do you notice a difference in your clothes? The answer is a resounding, "No!" I haven't noticed a change in color, smell, or cleanliness. I'm happy to have found a way to save my family a little money and not require a lot of extra work on my end. 

Have you ever tried making your own laundry detergent? If you've used homemade laundry detergent, have you noticed any differences in your wash? 

Check out more posts on my 2014 A to Z Challenge!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

K is for Knotting Thread

Skill Level: Beginner
Skills Attained: Knots
Supplies: Thread

Knotting thread may seem like a simple task, but this absolutely infuriated me as a young girl when trying to sew. I vividly remember arguments between my mom and I over this seemingly simple thing of knotting my thread. I would get SO frustrated that I couldn't do it! So, here is a quick video tutorial on how to knot your thread to help you avoid frustration. :)

Check out more posts on my 2014 A to Z Challenge!

Friday, April 11, 2014

J is for Jalapeño Poppers

Skill Level: Beginner
Skills Attained: --

  • Jalapeno Peppers
  • Cream Cheese
  • Bacon
  • Toothpicks
  • Baking Sheet
  • Grill (or Oven)
  • Spoon

I realize spicy food wrapped in pig fat might not be everyone's cup of tea, but this speaks my husband's love language.  So jalapeno poppers it is! This quick, easy recipe is a real crowd pleaser at cookout gatherings. 

In this tutorial, I'm using jalapeno peppers from my garden (these are from last year as we're a ways off from seeing peppers in our garden this year). You can read more about growing peppers if you're interested. 

    1.  Wash the jalapenos and slice them in half, length-wise. 

    2.  Depending upon the desired heat level, either leave the seeds in or de-seed the pepper. The seeds make the popper hotter. One trick to differentiate "hot" and "not as hot" poppers --  leave the stem on the peppers with the seeds and take the stem off the peppers without the seeds. I like mine hot, so I leave the seeds in and the stems on:)

    3.  Using a spoon, lather the inside of the pepper with cream cheese. 

    4.  Cut the bacon in half. 

    5.  Wrap the half strip of bacon around the stuffed jalapeno and secure with a toothpick. Place on a baking sheet. 


    6.  Cook on a grill (or in the oven for 375 degrees for about 20-25 minutes) until the bacon is crisp. (If baking in the oven, line your baking sheet in aluminum foil.)

    If you like hot food and you think bacon is one of the most delicious things in this world, try out these jalapeno poppers!

    Check out more posts on my 2014 A to Z Challenge!