Friday, March 25, 2011

Gardening fun (plus a surprise!)

For the past couple of weeks, Q has been outside working on the garden area. He recently ordered seeds for this year and wants to be ready. A few days ago, Q had A help him plant tomato and pepper seeds in styrofoam cups. (When we refer to our foster daughter we'll call her A and not show her face to protect her.) This was a great learning thing for her to do with Q. She is excited to see these plants grow.

The cups will stay in a cake carrier which will act like a small green house until the plants are ready to go outside.

The two walked outside to the garden area to plant some peas.

A got to plant a few herself--what great fun!

And now for the surprise--remember I mentioned that we were thinking about getting a few chicks? Well, Q and A got to buy four of them yesterday. A chose a black chick with a little white in it. There's another one like it for me, and they're the breed called "barred rock." She named hers Tinkerbell and I named mine Dorothy, after the main character in the Wizard of Oz (I am a Judy Garland fan!). Her nickname will be Dot because of the white spot on her head. The third one is a "sex-link", a beautiful yellow and tan variety. Q named her Mary Poppins. Then, the last one is a yellow chick called a "turken." It's a pretty interesting breed because it has no feathers on part of its head and neck.

Take a look.....

We have not named her yet, and thought one of you out there can help us out! Please send us your name ideas. Perhaps yours will be chosen for our last little bird.

Right now the chicks are in a box under a light to keep them warm. We've placed them in our spare bathroom with all of the necessities they need. They are eating and drinking well. We hope they will all survive and grow to be gorgeous hens that will lay lots of eggs for us! We'll keep you posted on them and on the garden.

How's your garden preparations going? Oh--and don't forget to send us your name ideas for our last chick! Until next time....

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Double-Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

We had family visiting us in our home recently--Q's big brother, Ben, his son, Canon and Aunt Berdean. Since they were going to be with us a few days after Ben's birthday, Q thought it would be fun to have a special dessert just for him. He requested a peanut butter pie, but I didn't want to make it the traditional way--I wanted it to be a little different. So, I scoured the internet looking for just the right one. I found it here, and couldn't wait to make it!

Take a look at this scrumptious double-chocolate peanut butter pie....

Are ya drooling yet?

Here's the recipe just in case you need to make this today.;) Enjoy....

Double-chocolate peanut butter pie

4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped (1/2 cup)
1/2 stick unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
8 ounces chocolate wafer cookies (9-ounce package), finely ground (2 cups)

8 ounces cream cheese, softened (1 cup)
1 cup chunky peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup well-chilled heavy cream
3/4 cup salted roasted peanuts, chopped
Kosher salt

4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped (1/2 cup)
1/2 cup heavy cream

1. Make the chocolate crust. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a medium glass bowl, combine the chocolate and butter and microwave at high power in 20-second intervals until the chocolate is melted. Stir well, then stir in the cookie crumbs. Press the cookie crumbs over the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan and 1-1/2 inches up the side. Bake the crust for 10 minutes, or until set; the crust will continue to firm up as it cools.

2. Meanwhile, make the peanut butter filling. In a large bowl, using a handheld electric mixer, beat the cream cheese with the peanut butter, sugar and vanilla extract until blended. In another bowl, using the same beaters, whip the chilled cream until firm. Fold one-third of the whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture to loosen it, then fold in the remaining whipped cream and 1/2 cup of the chopped peanuts. Spoon the filling into the crust, smoothing the surface. Sprinkle lightly with salt and refrigerate until set, about 3 hours.

3. Make the chocolate topping. In a medium glass bowl, combine the chocolate with the heavy cream and microwave at high power in 20-second intervals until the chocolate is melted and the cream is hot. Stir the chocolate topping until blended, then let cool to barely warm, stirring occasionally.

4. Spread the chocolate topping over the peanut butter filling and refrigerate until just firm, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of chopped peanuts around the edge of the pie. Carefully run a thin knife around the pie crust to loosen it, then remove the outer edge of the pan.

Ben sure loved his pie, and I know you will, too!:)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Dr. Seuss hat finger puppets

For my Dr. Seuss story time earlier this month, I made a few hat finger puppets to go with this poem:

One little cat on a sunny day
Put on his hat and went out to play
Two little cats when it started getting dark
Put on their hats and went to the park
Three little cats when the sky was blue
Put on their hats and went to the zoo
Four little cats by the kitchen door
Put on their hats and went to the store
Five little cats on a sunny day
Put on their hats and they all ran away.

I found my cat puppet and tried a hat on--he really became "The Cat in the Hat." :)

The hats were made from empty toilet paper tubes covered in strips of craft foam. I used hot glue to place the foam on.

On the bottom part of the hat, I cut a small "x" so that you can put your finger through.

It was fun creating hats in different color combinations. After my story times, I let the kids play with the puppets for a couple of minutes and they really enjoyed that. The teachers said they liked the idea and perhaps could do it next year for Dr. Seuss's birthday. The only change would be to use another kind of glue that would be safe enough for kids to use. It just has to be strong enough to glue the craft foam in place. Another alternative would be to use construction paper instead of the foam.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Clickety clack...down the old reading track

Recently, I had some extra time on my hands, so I asked the librarians if they needed help with anything. They asked me if I would be willing to put up a new bulletin board. I was really excited to put something together, as it would help me get creative again.

I looked through my bulletin board file and found a cute train picture that I could copy. I made a transparency of it, traced it onto poster board, then colored it in with chalk. I was able to laminate it at the library.

The board is right above the kids' computers. I drew the track on several sheets of construction paper using chalk and laminated those as well.

Here's a close up of the colorful train and its conductor. One of the librarians came up with the idea to use some fiberfill for the smoke at the top.

Along the track are book covers that the librarians had on hand for other boards and projects. I thought everything came together well and I can't wait to do another one! :)

Monday, March 14, 2011

A busy and wonderful time....

It's been a crazy week at our house, but we are so thankful. Last Tuesday, we got a call from our agency, asking us if we'd consider taking in a four-year-old girl. We were told that this could possibly turn into a foster-adoption situation, so we said, "yes." We heard back the next day saying that they'd like us to take her in, so she joined our home this past Friday.

It's been a whirlwind of activity with family staying with us for a few days, a chorale concert this weekend and adjusting to life with an active little girl. We've had fun through it all and can't wait to see what God is going to do in our lives in the near future. As our hearts were saddened saying good-bye to our first little guys, we're now excited to take in a fun gal who makes us laugh and hearts smile already.

Please keep us in your prayers during this transition time, and that God will continue to direct in our lives with children.

I've got some other things I'll write about soon, so stay tuned! :)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Quilted note cards

Several months ago, I bought a fun sewing kit called the Quilt-it Kit, by Denyse Schmidt. Inside, there are fifteen quilt and patchwork projects for both the beginner and advanced crafter. Last fall, I knew it was time to make something out of this kit, so I made the Dis-cards. They are note cards with fabric scraps sewn on them. I made some for my mom, but couldn't take a picture of them because I had just lost our camera.

Thankfully, I had another reason to make more--my sister and sister-in-law's birthdays. They both loved them a lot. My sister said, "They are too pretty to use!" And I agree. I really like these, although I haven't made any for myself yet. I just have to find the time, right?:)

For each card, I laid out five strips of fabric that went well together. I found that if I put in a couple of solid colored strips, then the overall look of the card didn't look too busy with patterns.

When you start stitching on the pieces, go from right to left, stitching each one vertically and overlapping the next one on top of the one you just did (and don't forget to stitch that last piece on both sides!). Also, use a regular size stitch, as stitches too close together will tear the card apart. After stitching on each strip, sew some zig-zags starting at the top and going from side to side until you get to the bottom. Trim the excess fabric around the sides...and that's it--a pretty quilted note card.

This card is a mix of blues and pinks. The three patterned fabrics were used for the apron I made my sil, Abigail.

There are lots of browns in this one, with just a bit of blue.

This card really stands out with all that green!

This picture shows the last two cards I made for each gal--pink and brown and then a blue and brown mix. I wrapped up all five cards in a ribbon before sending them off.

I really liked this project as it didn't take me a long time, like most of my sewing projects do. Several cards can be done in an afternoon, and I love the satisfaction of that.

Have fun creating this simple project for the special ladies in your life. Happy sewing!:)

Monday, March 7, 2011

A box of treasures

This past week, I got an email from our church pianist, Shirley, asking me if I'd like to have a BIG box full of crafting treasures. Of course, I said, "yes" and on Sunday morning, I received the goods.

The first thing I pulled up was a bag that had a baby quilt inside. It just needs some embroidery work to finish it. Then, I pulled up this tin...

...lots of beads with awesome possibilities!

These pipe cleaners were a neat find. Whenever these were sold, they cost just ten cents a bag. I couldn't get over how thin they were compared to how thick some of the ones you can buy today are.

I went crazy over all of the rick rack, bias tape, and seam binding packages!

I was also super excited to see this Wilton decorating tip case. I haven't done a lot of decorating with the few tips I already had, but this got me to thinking that I ought to dive in again and have some fun. Along with these were an assortment of other cake decorating items.

Thanks, Shirley, for your fun box of treasures. Can't wait to really get crafting again!:)

Saturday, March 5, 2011

A decorative dry-erase board

When I saw this idea from January's issue of Real Simple magazine, I knew it would be a neat thing to do in my kitchen. This dry-erase board is perfect for writing my to-do lists for food I have to make and prep.

It's currently sitting on one of the counters, but it would be great to put it on the wall somewhere. To make one yourself, all you have to do is find a frame and decorative paper or fabric to put inside of it. Make sure that the paper or fabric is light in color so that your writing shows up. Use a dry-erase marker to write your list, and when you're done with something, it's easy to erase it. You can also change your background to go with the season, or make it match the room you have in it. The possibilities are endless!

Here are some other ways to use this board-- write your shopping lists, reminders, project ideas, quotes, doodles, notes to members of your family or guests--can you think of anymore?

After having just one of these in use, I've been thinking about putting more around the house. It's going to be fun doing this--and for those who see my special notes.:)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Peppermint laundry soap

When I found the recipe for this laundry soap here, I knew I just had to try it. Peppermint is such a refreshing scent. I've done some loads with it already, and this recipe is a keeper.

Peppermint Laundry Soap
(makes approximately 5 cups)

2 cups finely grated castile soap (1-1/2 .5 ounce bars makes about 2 cups; Dr. Bronner's Peppermint Castile soap is divine!)

1 cup borax

1 cup baking soda

1 cup soda ash (washing soda)

Mix everything together and store in an air tight jar. Use 1/8 cup per load. Before using, give jar a shake to prevent soap flakes from settling on the bottom.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

I think I might just have to have one (or a bunch!)...

Some time last week, while I was at home, Q called me from one of his favorite stores--JAX. He told me that they were selling chicks there and that he just had to tell me about them. He has been interested in having a couple of chickens for quite a while now. It would be great to have eggs to enjoy (and some to sell, too.) Plus, I love animals and these critters would be fun to have around.

I really wanted to see the chicks, so we went to JAX today to take a close look...

Aren't they just adorable? There were a few different varieties to look at.

We're not ready to buy any at this time, as we have to get things in place for them. But, oh, I wanted to bring a couple of them home today.

I think this one wanted to come home with us, don't you think?

So, do you think we'll have some chickens some day soon? I'll keep you posted!