Monday, March 28, 2011

The Simple Things in Life: A School Day

Just a couple pictures of a school day. Ian is working on Math-U-See and Jameson is reading. Whenever we have school Jameson is right there next to us 99% of the time. He hates being left out! I had to stop and take a few pictures of one of our simple (yet rich) school days.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Tutorial: Ironing Board Cover

My old ironing board cover was getting cruddy to say the least. Yuck. I don't even like looking at the pictures- but I'll share them with you anyways. So I thought it was time to update it but I didn't want to spend any money or be limited by the selection at the store. So my solution was to create one for myself instead! I took some pictures to show you what I did and I hope I can explain it well enough that you can create one for yourself too. Maybe use that cute fabric you have or match your room d├ęcor?

Skill Level: Intermediate

I began by deconstructing (aka taking apart) the old cover. I took out the elastic cord to reuse in the new cover and I cut apart the old cover and laid it out flat.

My old cover had a thin foam padded layer that I didn't want to reuse and didn't want to mess with taking off. Instead, I used 2 layers of flannel for the padding. I'm sure I could have gone out and bought something but flannel is what I had on hand and it works perfectly well!

Anyways, I began by laying the old cover onto my new flannel and cutting out the new one. I left roughly 1-inch all the way around. I did the same with the top/decorative fabric.

My ironing board cover also has a nose tip, which I cut out with roughly a 1-inch seam allowance all the way around.

I layered all my fabrics and stitched on the nose tip. Trim and zig-zag or serge the edge.

Then zig-zag or serge all the way around the main body of the ironing board cover.

Fold over the edge about an inch- this is for the casing. Stitch near the edge, leaving an opening. Insert your elastic cord and sew the opening closed.

Viola! Enjoy your brand new one-of-a-kind ironing board cover!


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Canning 101: Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes are one of the easiest things to can. If you have an overabundance of this root vegetable from your or a friends garden this summer then the best way to preserve them is to can them. When it's the dead of winter you can pop open a fresh can and think of summer past and future.

*The full recipe without commentary will be at the very end of this post.

1. Begin by preparing your equipment. Set everything up and have it ready to go.

2. Check your jars for chips/cracks and then sterilize them. My dishwasher has an extra hot sterilize cycle so I let it do the work. If you don't have a dishwasher wash the jars and rings in hot soapy water, rinsing well.

3. Fill a pot with water and heat to boiling (to be used later to pour on the sweet potatoes in the jars) and place your lids in a smaller pan and heat to sterilize but do not boil, as it will ruin the sealant on the rim.

4. I have also prepared the water in the pressure canner. Add 4 quarts of water and set the heat to low/medium to begin it warming. I have really hard water so I also add a couple tablespoon of white vinegar to the water. The vinegar keeps a chalky white build up off the jars- it's not going to hurt your jars if you don't add the vinegar but it just makes them look nicer!

5. Prepare your sweet potatoes. Wash and place in the bottom of a pot, cover with water. Bring the water to a boil and partially cook the sweet potatoes, until the peel can be easily removed, about 10-15 minutes.

6. Peel potatoes and cut into 1 inch sizes cubes.

7. Fill each jar, leaving 1 inch headspace between the sweet potatoes and the rim.

8. Pour the boiling water over the sweet potatoes, also leaving about 1 inch headspace.

9. Run a couple wooden skewers or a wooden spoon between the inside edge of the jar and the sweet potatoes to release any air bubble. Add more hot water as needed.

10. Clean the jar rims off, place on the lids and rings, finger tip tight. You don't need to tighten the rings too much, just enough to hold the lids in place.

11. Place the jars into the pressure canner and lock the lid in place.

12. Turn the heat up on the canner. At this point the pressure gage is at zero, the cap is off the air vent, and the vent is down in the open position.

13. As heat and pressure builds the vent will eventually pop up into the closed position. Leave the cap off the air vent for 5 to 10 minutes to let the steam to continue to vent, and heat and pressure to build.

14. Place the cap on and let pressure build. For sweet potatoes, the pressure needs to be between 10 and 11 pounds of pressure. Adjust the heat to keep it at the correct pressure throughout the canning process.

15. Once pressure has built to the correct 10-11 pounds of pressure, begin timing. Can the sweet potatoes for 1 hour and 5 minutes for pints or 1 hour and 30 minutes for quarts.

16. Once the times is up, turn the heat off and leave the canner alone. Let the pressure decompress on its own. Once the air vent has dropped back down into the open position it is safe to open the canner. When you open it, lift the lid away from you. It's still hot in there and you don't want to be burned by the steam!

17. Using your jar lifters remove the jars from the canner and set them in a place to cool for 12-24 hours. You might here the lids 'pop!' down sometime in the cooling process. After the jars are cool check to make sure all the lids have popped down and are correctly sealed. If any jars haven't sealed correctly, re-process them in the pressure canner with new lids or use immediately and store in the refrigerator.

To store: Label the lid with the date and what is in the jar. Remove the rings and place in a cool, dry place out of the sunlight. Store for up to a year.

Before eating canned items, always check the jar for a good seal, check the canned item for a fresh smell and good color. If anything looks off or smells bad then toss it!

Sweet Potatoes
  • 2 to 3 pounds sweet potatoes per quart
  • Water

Wash sweet potatoes; drain. Boil or steam potatoes until peel can be easily removed. Peel potatoes and cut into quarters. Pack hot potatoes into hot jars, leaving 1-inch headspace. Ladle boiling water over potatoes, leaving 1-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Adjust two-piece caps. Process pints 1 hour and 5 minutes, quarts 1 hour and 30 minutes, at 10 pounds pressure in a steam-pressure canner.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Fitness Friday: 12 Simple Ways to Curb Your Appetite

There are several natural ways to suppress your that is safe for your body, one of them is exercise and drinking lots of water, but here are 12 ways to beat the urge to binge.

#1 Peppermint Oil added to some water

#2 Apples
Most experts agree that apple comes first on the list of suppressants. You may have noticed that apples take longer to chew especially if you do not cut them into little pieces. Chewing longer will give your brain the time it needs to register that you are full. This will in turn reduce your chances of overeating. Apples are also fiber-rich. Fiber can make you feel fuller longer because it does not digest quickly.

#3 Tea
Aside from being an anti suppressant, green tea in particular is known for its ability to help burn fat. This is why it is popular among people who wish to lose weight. The beverage however can also stimulate the release of hormones that can control or limit food cravings.

#4 Chocolate
Some kinds of chocolates should be avoided. Some brands and types carry a lot of calories and are sugar rich which makes them major weight contributors. Very small portions of dark chocolate however may be good for you. The bittersweet taste of pure dark chocolate can leave you feeling satisfied.

#5 Oatmeal
Another suppressant is the oatmeal. That’s why it should be in your breakfast menu more often. Oatmeal contains carbohydrates that do not quickly run out as you use it for energy, hence making you feel less like eating more. It is also fiber rich.

#6 Flaxseeds or Flax Oil
Looking for another rich in fiber? Flaxseeds are yet again rich in fiber. They are however, best consumed when raw. If you want more flavors with your flaxseeds, you can mix them with your early morning bowl of oatmeal.

#7 Water
Hydration is another important thing. Drinking a lot of water throughout the day can keep you hydrated. It can also limit your appetite especially if you drink a glass before a meal.

#8 Salad
Eat salad. It makes a lot of sense to serve salads before the main meal. This is because salads are rich in fiber. Some salad greens also contain water. This makes them perfect suppressants.

#9 Coffee
Coffee can also help you cut your appetite. You do have to take it moderately though. Drink only one or two cups a day and make sure that your creamer is non-fat. If you are able to take unsweetened coffee then that would be a better idea.

#10 Soup
There’s a reason why soups are served before the main course. Like salads, soup too is often served before the main course. Since soup contains water, it can naturally make you feel full even before you take your first bite. Do make sure though that you do not take soup that is creamy because this can be fattening.

#11 Almonds
The proteins and enzymes can trick your belly into fullness... It also has a lot of healthy fats as well, just stick with the low or no salt ones.

#12 Be Mindful and Thankful of your Food
Being mindful, expressing gratitude over how the food got to your plate, and chewing to enjoy your food are all great ways to fill up quickly.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Baby Doll

I created this baby doll a while ago for a friends daughter who has cancer of the eye.

I thought I'd show off the little doll and see what you all thought of it. I would like to add this style of doll to my doll shop eventually.

The doll can wear newborn sized baby clothes and it has a two-sided head. One side the doll is awake & the other she is sleeping. I also made a custom cloth diaper to fit her.

What do you think? I think she's cute!


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