Friday, March 25, 2011

Spring Greetings At Half The Price

Nothing says “welcome to our home” like flowers by the front door. Think of all the places you’ve felt warmly greeted at the door and most likely there were some flowers or some sort of wreath involved in the decorating.

I like to have the flowers by our door change with the seasons and if I know of any particular events coming up I like to fit the theme whenever I can. This spring I’m changing out my metal “welcome” pouch of spring flowers for a wreath.

I wanted something that would go along with the Royal WeddingP3150302 parties I’m planning and found a great wreath at Home Goods – I just didn’t like the price of $40. But the wreath hanger is nice, don’t you think?

I know how to make a wreath and have made many over the years, so I also know that it would be time consuming and I’d most likely spend far more than $40 for the silk flowers it would take to put together a wreath like this one – even if I got them on sale.

DSCN0083I looked around just a little bit more and found this floral garland (also at Home Goods) for just $17. Now we’re talking…  I stopped at Hobby Lobby and picked up a grapevine wreath for $5. If I’d been patient enough I could wait for them to go on sale too.

With just a few floral supplies this can turn into a super easy project that literally only took 20 minutes to complete – including taking the photos. You’ll need just two pieces of floral wire, wire cutters, some ribbon and sharp scissors. The white chenille stem is just for illustration in this case. I had all of these items on hand in my floral supplies. The ribbon would normally be a very expensive addition to this project, but this isDSCN0085 actually left over from a wedding I did and even at that, I purchased it at a floral supply store rather than a craft or fabric store and I paid less than $3 for 25 yards. The only drawback with this ribbon is that it’s not “wired”. Its much easier to make a nice wreath bow, or any other multi-loop bow, with wired ribbon.

Start by just laying the garland on top of the wreath and securing it with some wire in several areas. I tied mine on in 5 places.


Then make a big loop bow – use an odd number of loops. I want a nice full bow so I’ll use seven loops on each side. Begin by leaving a sufficiently long ribbon tail and then start your first loop. My tail is about a yard long and these loops start at about 6 inches long.


Loop the ribbon back and forth with one hand and hold the loops securely in the middle with the other hand.DSCN0091

Twist and turn it over to make the loops lay nicely.DSCN0092

After you have about three loops on each side continue making loops to fill out your bow making them about an inch shorter every two loops you add to a side. This will give the bow a full round look when it’s done. Loops 1,2 & 3 will be about 6 inches. Loops 4 & 5 will be about 5 inches and Loops 6 & 7 will be about 4 inches.DSCN0094

Finish with an odd number of loops on each side. (I used 7 loops for a nice round bow. You could use as few as 3 on a side or more. Much more than a 9 loop bow is hard to hold in your hand.)DSCN0095

Make one (or two) very small loops for the center. I made two loops since I was making a large bow and using sheer ribbon.DSCN0097

Run a long piece of wire or chenille stem (we used to call them pipe cleaners…) through the small center loop(s).

Flip the hand holding the bow over and bend the wire or chenille stem to the back.

I show a white chenille stem above and wire below. Chenille stem is my preference for tying the center of a large ribbon bow, but I didn’t have a matching color on hand. In this case it would have shown since it’s so light colored and the ribbon is sheer. The floral wire will disappear in the finished bow.DSCN0098

If you want more than two tails on your bow (my finished bow has four) now is the time to add an extra length of ribbon to the back of the bow. I cut another yard of ribbon for my second set of tails and put the center of it on top of my bow loops.

Fold all the loops together in one hand and twist your wire or chenille stem tight several times to secure it.


Flip your bow back over and start fluffing out the loops and shaping your bow. You can twist and pull your loops into shape (this is where having a wired ribbon is nice) and even adjust the size of your loops if any are uneven.DSCN0100

Find just the right spot on your wreath and tie your bow on, using the wire you secured your bow with. Run the wire through your wreath from the front to the back and tie it on.

Decide how it will display the best – bow at the top, side or bottom or somewhere in between…

I wrapped the extra two tails around the wreath in either direction and left just two tails hanging.




From here it looks like that bow could use a little more tugging and shaping…












I’m linking up to:

The Girl Creative

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Lessons In Life Skills

Ten hours later and my boys are still alive. It’s quite surprising really. What did we do for ten hours on what, I imagine, was a beautiful spring day? We cleaned the world’s dirtiest bedroom.

I saw things unimaginable – things a mother should never see. But three garage sale boxes, four plastic grocery bags of Webkins, and two giant stretchy garbage bags of trash later we finished. Now I’m taking the “this-is-what-a-clean-room-looks-like” photos. 004

It would probably feel a little better if I could blame it all on the boys, but the real truth is they were poorly trained. Their momma dropped the ball on that one. The good news is, at 13 and 11 it’s not too late to learn these life lessons and make some changes.

I’m hopeful that we had some breakthrough moments and we can avoid being on a future episode of “Hoarders” - The stuffed toys edition.

009I’m convinced that you can’t tell a child to “go clean your bedroom” and expect it to be cleaned. It has to be taught. I’ve tried several techniques over the years but their success depends on the depth of the dirt filth.

If it’s not too bad, just some things that have gotten out of place, I like telling them to start with the three largest things. Usually, that means making the bed first and then picking up the next two largest toys, blankets, furniture – whatever. The theory behind my method is that they see progress quickly and are encouraged to continue, though I have to send them back for “the next three largest things.”

Sometimes, it’s a little worse. If I’m too busy doing my own thing to be in the room with them I might direct them to start by picking up everything in one category then returning to me for more instructions – I might give directions like “start with all the laundry” then maybe “all the trash”, “all the books”, “all the Legos”. Beware, this method can backfire if Legos are the main problem (which they tend to be for us…) or if you have a highly distractible child (which I have three of…)

On this particular day we used a team approach. We all worked together (even the little sister helped out) and mom directed the forces. We did a “category” clean combined with a “largest objects” clean. I started by removing all the Legos from the room. (I say “all” but what I mean is “all the Legos I could see on the surface… then as we came across more of them they were tossed in a centrally located container to join the others later.)

Now we’re teaching/learning how to keep it this way – not letting it get out of control. I think the real key is having less to care for (garage sale fodder and just plain trash) and a reminder during the day to get things back in order, then a final quick pick-up before bedtime.

Overall, it was a really good day. We spent some time talking about what’s really important to us and why it’s important to us – why we feel compelled to keep all this junque and continue to add to our collections. We discussed “the Rich Young Ruler” of Matthew 19:16 and our treasure and our heart being in the same place (Luke 12:24). I heard a great bible teacher say something profound last week. He was teaching about “addictions”. He said:

“We’re created to be addicted – to God. When you look at what an addiction does to a person’s life there’s really nothing wrong with those things if GOD is the addiction. If we plan our life around Him and we can’t get enough of Him and we’d sell everything we had to get more of Him that’d be a good thing. But the theory is that if you are not in love with and obsessed with God then you just need to ask the question what is your addiction? Because it’s something else.”


My kids aren’t the only ones with a problem. How many “things” in my life do I give more importance to than time with my Savior? The good news is, at 42 it’s not too late to learn this life lesson and make some changes.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Record Earthquake Strikes Japan: ADRA Responds

Reprinted from the ADRA website from Friday, March 11, 2011

Please keep the people of Japan in your prayers. To help ADRA respond to this tragedy, text "support" to 85944 from a U.S. phone. Confirm by replying "Yes" to donate $10 to the emergency response. If outside the US, contact your local ADRA office to find out how to donate.

To donate to ADRA go to:
Phone: 1.800.424.ADRA (2372)


japan_tsunamiSILVER SPRING, Md. - A powerful 8.9-magnitude earthquake shook the island nation of Japan damaging infrastructure and triggering a massive tsunami that swept through Japan’s north-eastern coast, killing hundreds of people according to initial media reports. The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) is responding, coordinating efforts and assessing the needs in the worst hit areas in the northern region of Japan.

ADRA has committed an initial response of $25,000 and has sent an assessment team toward the affected area to evaluate and prepare a broader response. ADRA Japan is providing food and shelter for train passengers that are stranded in Tokyo. This is taking place at the Central Tokyo Seventh-day Adventist Church.

At present, 88 people have been confirmed dead and at least 349 people are reported missing. Local police are reporting that an additional 200 to 300 bodies have been found in the northeastern coastal city of Sendai with the casualty toll expected to climb. Initial reports indicate extensive damage to infrastructure, including at least three nuclear reactors.

The record quake, the seventh largest in history and the most powerful to hit Japan in at least 100 years, created a 23-foot (7 meter) tsunami that washed away boats, cars, homes, while starting several large fires burned out of control. In the hours following the earthquake more than 50 aftershocks have been recorded, many of them over magnitude 6.0.

ADRA is currently monitoring and evaluating the situation. Updates will be released as response efforts expand.

To send your contribution to ADRA’s Emergency Response Fund, please contact ADRA at 1.800.424.ADRA (2372) or give online at

Follow ADRA on Twitter and Facebook to get the latest information as it happens.

ADRA is a global non-governmental organization providing sustainable community development and disaster relief without regard to political or religious association, age, gender, race or ethnicity.

For more information about ADRA, visit

Author: Julio C. Muñoz

For more information, contact:

John Torres, Assistant Director of Public Relations
301.680.6357 (office)
301.680.6370 (fax)

Friday, March 11, 2011

Reuben, Reuben I Been Thinkin’…

It’s March, you know. And it’s more than a third over.

White shoes and sandals before Easter notwithstanding, March pretty much marks the beginning of Spring in my opinion. Basically I’m a girl raised in the “south” -  I’ve lived in Southern California, Southwest Florida or South Central Texas since 1980… I find myself moving farther and farther from the “white shoes” rule the longer I live with warm weather. I’m making good time adapting, don’t you think?

March brings us a few things with it’s Spring like weather – winds and kites, budding trees, that “in like a lion out like a lamb” thing (not entirely sure what that’s about) and, of course, St. Patrick’s Day.

Now, I don’t do much to celebrate St. Pat, there’s no green beer being served here, but I’m all about corned beef and cabbage. And for this “flexitarian”, (yes, it’s a real term for “mostly vegetarians”) nothing meets that need better than a good Reuben Sandwich.Blog Food 194

I took some Reubens to our last homeschool Mom’s Meeting in celebration of March and was surprised at how many had never had one – especially since we live in an area rich with German heritage and you can almost always find a Reuben Sandwich on the menu at a German restaurant.

So I’m inspired to share with you how I make a traditional Reuben.

Gather your ingredients:

  • A good quality corned beef (about 1/4 pound per sandwichRoad Trip 189 is sufficient – though I’ve had sandwiches with a lot more than that – it’s just overkill)
  • Swiss cheese
  • Rye bread (some like to use pumpernickel)
  • Thousand Island dressing (some like Russian dressing)
  • Quality Sauerkraut (get the stuff that’s sold in a jar and refrigerated)
  • Some butter

Butter your bread on one side and place it butter side up on the hot griddle.Road Trip 184

When the butter starts to melt, flip it over and spread one slice with the Thousand Island dressing. Road Trip 185Road Trip 187

Next (in order) stack with the corned beef, drained kraut, Swiss cheese and top with the toasted side of the other slice of bread (butter side out now.) Toast evenly until it’s golden brown and the cheese is melted.Blog Food 195

One day I ran out of dressing and made up a variation that I really enjoy…  I like using pumpernickel bread instead of rye and New Canaan Farms Peach Jezebel Sauce.instead of the Thousand Island. It’s got a nice sweet flavor with the kick of horseradish.

Do you have any twists to the Reuben you’d like to share?

Today I’m linking up to:


Thursday, March 3, 2011

Tea with Curd - Curd & Scones

I know… you probably don’t hear the von Trapp children singing with hands clasped in front of them and “curd and scones” doesn’t have quite the ring that “jam and bread” does, but believe me – it’s one of those “to die for” combinations.

We are fully anticipating the upcoming Royal Wedding here and by “we” I pretty much mean “me”… everyone I happen to mention it to says, “Who’s getting married? Do we know them?” Don’t these people stand in the line at the grocery store? Anyway, when you’re hosting a pretend wedding reception for royalty you plan your menu in advance and do a trial run or two. It’s a rough life but somebody has to do it.

Basket of scones
Today I dusted off my old scone recipe to make sure it was as good as I remembered. I’ve been using this recipe at teas for years. It’s not one of those fancy-dancy scones with currants, cranberries orLike a personal lemon cream pie cinnamon chips – this one is perfectly plain so you can top it with whatever you want. And what I want is generally lemon curd and cream. It’s like having your own personal lemon cream pie.

The Dickenson’s Lemon Curd isn’t bad at all. It’s not homemade, but in a pinch it’s pretty good for something you can pick up in your grocery store. Top it off perfectly with a mock Devonshire Cream (which in my opinion is much tastier than a real Devonshire Cream and far less expensive.)

Dickinson's Lemon Curd
Some of my other favorite toppings on a “plain” scone are honey orange butter, orange marmalade or raspberry jam. Strawberry jam is the most traditional topping but it’s not high on my list.

Basic Scones

Heat oven to 425°
  • 3 C flour
  • 1 1/2 T Baking Powder
  • 3 T Sugar
  • 1 t Salt
  • 9 T Butter (the 50/50 blend will work, but don’t try margarine)
  • 3/4 C Buttermilk (OR 3/4 Milk + 1 T Lemon Juice)
  • 1 Egg, lightly beaten
scone ingredientsI haven’t pictured my Tupperware canisters with flour and sugar here – it’s bad enough that you must envy my faux butcher block countertops. Don’t hate me for my gourmet kitchen.

Mix the dry ingredients.

Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or two knives until the mixture resembles coarse meal. I recommend the pastry Until it resembles coarse mealblender – I’ve never had good success with the “two knives” method.
Make a well in the center and pour in the buttermilk. Mix until dough clings together and is a bit sticky. If you’re dough isn’t clinging add just a touch more buttermilk.  

Turn out dough onto a floured surface and shape into two 6-8 inch rounds about 1 or 1 1/2 inches thick. Turn sticky dough out onto floured boardDon’t overwork your dough or your scones will end up tough. Knead the dough only just enough to make it mostly smooth. Quickly cut into pie wedges or cut with a biscuit cutter. I prefer a 2 or 3 inch biscuit cutter.

Place on an ungreased cookie sheetCut with a 2 inch biscuit cutter or baking stone with a bit of space between – you don’t want them to touch. They won’t get very wide, but they should get a lot taller.

Brush with a beaten egg for a shiny brown scone – not too much egg – you don’t want to taste it on there…

Brush with lightly beaten egg
Bake at 425° F for 10-20 minutes depending on the size of your scone. For a 2 inch scone bake about 11 minutes.

This recipe freezes nicely. Freeze in a single layer then place in an airtight container with wax paper or parchment between layers. Take right from freezer to pre-heated oven after brushing with egg and bake for 12-13 minutes. So you can make them now, stick them in the freezer and then have them warm and fresh for your wedding watching at the end of next month.

Bake until golden brown
You’ll get about two dozen 2-inch scones from this recipe. If that’s too many you can easily cut the recipe in half – but why?

Mock Devonshire Cream

  • 1 C Heavy Whipping Cream OR 8 oz. softened Cream Cheese
  • 2 T Confectioner’s Sugar
  • 1/3 C Sour Cream
In a chilled bowl, beat the cream and sugar until medium-stiff peaks form. (If you’re using cream cheese just stir together with the sugar.)
Fold in the sour cream until well blended.

Lemon & Sugar pleaseThis makes about 3 cups of cream.

Brew yourself a proper cup of tea and enjoy.
Today I’m linking with Lori at Paisley Passions Fun With Food Friday

Leslie at Night Owl Crafting
and Haley at Recipes I Can’t Wait to Try. She’s having a blog hop! You can see the hop below – check it out for other recipes you can incorporate into your menus.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Countdown to Co-Op

Our homeschool Spring Co-op session starts this morning. We’re all a-twitter with excitement. We’re gonna get socialized some more!!!

The sad reality of it is – the socialization is more for the momma thanNovember 2010 166 the children. (sigh) Yes… I’m doing it more for me than for my kids.  I just love seeing my mom friends – so I make sure we have to be at Co-op by signing up to teach a class each session. “Sorry kids… mommy’s teaching so we HAVE to go…”

It’s a supreme sacrifice, I assure you. First it’s like taking 18 promising102_7632 school days right off the top of our year’s schedule and crowding all that learnin’ into the rest of our distracted days. It’s like a beautiful 3 and a half week school vacation all stretched out.

Then there’s the early mornings required. Usually there’s not much stirring around here before 7 or 8 in the morning unless it’s leftover from the day before – and I ALWAYS make it a rule to be in bed before 6… AM. You’d think I was sending these kids off to a labor camp when I ask them to be up by 7 AM and out the door (completely dressed withNovember 2010 165 the stink washed off and smiles on their little round faces. Okay.. I usually give up on the smiles thing – but I insist that the dragon breath be gone.) Most days around here don’t start until well after the Co-op is half over.

And finally I generally force my children to eat a horrible lunch of cheap Little Cesar’s pizza (if it’s on sale) or shabby bean burritos so we can rush off to the park and continue the socialization afterwards. We forfeit dietary stability for conversation in the sun.November 2010 169

Yes… Tuesdays for the next 9 weeks are pretty much shot. But we’ll have fun and learn some things from some other more organized and committed mothers that I hadn’t thought of. Perhaps they’ll be things like, don’t put stainless steel mixing bowls in the microwave. Wish I’d thought of that one and mentioned it a day or two earlier. RIP sweet microwave… we’ll miss thee and thy nuking ways.

I’m linking up to the weekly Hop at

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