Saturday, July 31, 2010

Writing on the Wall

I got this idea from my interior designer sister-in-law. I really liked this idea, so I went with it for my bedroom. My bedding is blue, green, and white so I decided to go with blue paint. I started this project a year ago and just now finished it up.

I know, I know, that is really bad. I made the mistake of going with paint markers instead of regular paint and had a horrible time finding the same color I initially started with. Through the process two of them were completely dried up and useless. I also couldn't find them at half the places I went to.

Our Wal-Mart just re-arranged and re-decorated and they had a brand new stock of them. I was FINALLY able to finish the project! I am really pleased with how it turned out.

It's finished!! I couldn't be happier about being able to scratch this one off of the "to do" list.

If you would like some decorating ideas or are looking for a great interior designer in the Austin, TX area, I highly recommend Paige. You can check out her website here to see some of the work she has done. She also has a blog that you can find here.

~Lark

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Small Harvest

I just came back in from checking on my garden. I am so thrilled with how well it has done this year. I currently have picked 3 cantaloupes and have 6 left. One of them was too soft and had been invaded by insects....oops! It was hidden by the leaves, so I didn't know it was ready and the insects got to it before I did. The one we ate yesterday was very good and sweet. I was able to pick another one today and it definitely appears ready to eat. I took a picture of some of the stuff I picked today. I have had quite a harvest for it being a small garden.


The stuff in the bag is the romaine lettuce I picked today. It's not a very good picture of it, but it looks good. Look at that cantaloupe!! I don't know how big around it is, but just laying a ruler beside it shows it at about 9 inches from tip to tip!! On top of all this I picked today, I have a bag almost full in the freezer of both okra and peppers. I didn't take a picture of the frozen okra, but I did take one of the peppers. Here it is.


I also was able to pick 18 ears of corn back in June. YUMMY!!


Here is one more picture. It is of the cantaloupe I cut open yesterday. It isn't a very good picture, because I took it with my phone.



This year has been so much better than last. The okra has produced about the same, but nothing else turned out near as well. I never thought that I could be a gardener. It always seemed as if I killed every kind of plant ever given to me. Ivy's included. Those things are supposed to be hard to kill, but give one to me and it would be dead in no time!

~Lark

Friday, July 23, 2010

A Gym Of My Own?!?

A gym of my very own?!? No, not really, but it sure feels like it.

The college has a gym in the coliseum where the basketball teams practice. The gym is open for everyone that attends the college including staff. Coot and I have been using it now for about a month and I am loving it. They have elliptical trainers, treadmills, stationary bikes, and all kinds of weight machines.


I have been doing the couch to 5k program by coolrunning.com, but it is only 3 days a week. The other three days, I have been using the elliptical and lifting weights. I absolutely love working out there. It's like having my own personal gym. Especially since students don't stay on campus during the summer. Absolutely nobody else has been in there while we were. It's GREAT!! Of course, when school starts back up in the fall and the dorms fill up, it probably will not be that way. I am going to continue to use it anyway. I enjoy it too much to give it up.

~Lark

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Broken Ones

I heard this song a couple of months ago for the very first time and I absolutely loved it. There is a message in the lyrics. I wanted to put them on here for you to contemplate.


Maggie came home one day with a raggedy, raggedy Ann.
She said " Mama, look what I found in the neighbors garbage can."
It had a missing left arm, and a right button eye hanging by a thread
She carried it gently up to her room and laid it on her bed with her other dolls.

She loves the broken ones, the ones that need a little patching up
She sees the diamond in the rough and makes it shine like new
It really doesn't take that much, a willing heart and a tender touchIf everybody loved like she does, there'd be a lot less broken ones.

Twenty years later at a shelter on Eighteenth Avenue
A seventeen year old girl shows up all black and blue
with needle tracks in her left arm, almost too week to stand,
She says,"I'm lost an I need help", as Maggie takes her handAnd says, "Come on in!"

She loves the broken ones, the ones that need a little patching up
She sees the diamond in the rough and makes it shine like new
It really doesn't take that much, a willing heart and a tender touch
If everybody loved like she does, there'd be a lot less broken ones.


If you call her and angel, she'll be quick to say to you

She's just doing what the one who died for her would do

Love the broken ones, the ones that need a little patching up
See the diamond in the rough and make it shine like new
It really doesn't take that much, a willing heart and a tender touch
If everybody loved like He does, there'd be a lot less broken ones.



And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. ~ Matthew 25:40



To here this song click here to hear the Talley Trio singing it. It's such a beautiful song. I hope you enjoy it.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Fun & Easy Tote Bag

This is a tote my mom taught me how to make. It is easy and you can adjust it to any size that you prefer. This one I made today is pretty big. It's nice and roomy.


Here it goes...


First, you want to fold your material in half and then in half again.


You will then fold it in half lengthwise, so that you can cut your corners out.


As you can see I cut a 3x3 inch square. You want your fold along the bottom when you cut them out. When you open your material back out to flat you will have a 3x3 inch square cut out of both bottom corners.


You can see both cut out portions in this picture. I folded the layers back a little bit for you to see.


Now you need to cut the fold that you had along the right hand side of the material to make to separate tote sections. This will give you your outer part and the lining.


Tada!! This is what you should have. You will then need to measure how tall you want it to be. Cut off the top at the height you want. I chose to cut it off at 15 inches. By the time I sew up the bottom corners it will only be 12 inches tall. Of course, we will shorten it by a little bit more later.


You will need to cut the same pattern out of your interfacing. You want some pretty heavy/thick interfacing to help the tote stand up.


Now to cut the tote straps. I cut 12x3 inch strips on the fold, so they actually are 24x3 inches.


See? Here they are ready to be sewn into tote straps.


Now to iron on the interfacing. If you don't have iron on interfacing, just baste it to the wrong side of your material.


Now you will take one interfaced piece at a time and sew up the sides with the right sides facing each other.


Like so.


Then you will pull the corners out to make the bottom and sides match up. Sew together.


Turn right side out and Viola! you have the outer portion of your tote. Now to repeat the process for the lining. Leave the lining inside out, because it will just set down inside the outer shell of the tote.


Now it's time to fold your tote straps in half with the right sides together. You do not have to sew the ends shut. Just the length of the strap needs to be sewn.


Now turn them right side out. I use a safety pin. I pen it to one end and then push it through. After you get them right side out, press them.


It's time for final assembly. You should have your lining tucked into the outer shell of the tote. tuck in all edges. I tucked mine in about 1 inch. Make sure you line up the seam lines. Pin.


As you pin the top, tuck the purse straps in where you would like them to be located. I normally do one side and then line the other side up to match the one I already have pinned.


You will now sew the pieces together. Be careful. Make sure you keep the straps pulled out of the way and be sure to pull the pins out as you go. You don't want to hit one with the machine needle and break it.


The finished product! You can add pockets or even ribbon tied into a bow around the top to hid the stitching. It's all up to you! If you add pockets, you may want to add them to the lining or outer shell before sewing them into tote shape. That's what I do.


This is just a picture of some others. You can see one has a name embroidered on it and another has red fur hot glued to the top to hide the stitching. There are so many creative, fun things you can do with this easy tote.


Happy Sewing!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Saddle Ridge Ranch - VBS

"Roundin' up questions. Drivin' home answers" ~ James 1:5

My kids have attended VBS this week at a church here in town. They had a lot of fun. They came home every evening excited. They were there from 5:15 to 8:00 pm. It gave me some free time to get some other errands and activities done that are normally hard to do with children under foot.

The church had a program on Friday night to let the parents see what the kids had learned. They asked that the children come dressed western, but stressed they didn't have to, though. Neither one of my kids have western clothes, so I decided I could make my daughter a prairie type dress and my son did have a leather vest that a cousin gave him. He also gave him some spurs, but I couldn't seem to find them. So, I opted for a plaid shirt, the leather vest, jeans, and some boots (not cowboy) for Sparrow. I spent the whole afternoon working on Chickadee's new dress. I had made the pattern before when she was 3 years old, so I kinda remembered how to make it. Thankfully, the bonnet comes in one size, so I didn't have to re-make that. I also had her wear the same apron. It was kinda short, but it still worked. This dress turned out so cute. I loved the whole outfit. I gave her a couple of braids and she looked like a real prairie/frontier girl. She looked like she would fit right in on a caravan to the west!

Here is a picture of them in their duds for the program.


Doesn't she look like she could be Laura Ingalls Wilder?? He looks like a little deputy sheriff. I just wish he would've had a cowboy hat to go with it. I am definitely going to have to add that to the list of things to get. Every little boy needs to have a cowboy hat!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Pollo Fundido


Pollo - Chicken
Fundido - Melted (cheese)


Pollo Fundido is a Mexican dish that I stumbled upon at a Mexican restaurant. It was so cheesy, gooey, and delicious that I decided I had to learn how to make it. I went on a search for the recipe, but did not find any that matched what I had that day. All the recipes I found were of chicken and cheese wrapped in a tortilla and deep fried. They all seemed a lot like chimichangas to me. I have a really good Hispanic friend, so I called her asking if she knew how to make it. She didn't.

My search seemed to be fruitless. I decided that I would ask the restaurant the next time I was there. It kinda worked. The guy told me they use Mexican cheese and Mexican seasoning. Needless to say, that wasn't that big of a help to me. It was good to know about the cheese, but Mexican seasoning could be any number of things. I gave my friend another call and she said they like to use Lemon Pepper. I knew that was NOT what was being used in this recipe. I kept on searching.

Then one day my husband came across a different recipe that required chili salt. I thought, "that's it". I just knew that was the missing ingredient to the Pollo Fundido. I began looking high and low for chili salt and couldn't find it anywhere. So, guess what I did? I did a quick Google search and it came up with a recipe for chili salt. We then made some and gave our own Pollo Fundido recipe a whirl. It worked!! It turned out perfect. I am telling you, this is one of the best Mexican dishes I have ever eaten. I used to favor fajitas, but now I favor Pollo Fundido.

Because I realized how difficult it was to find this recipe, I decided to share it with all of you.

Ingredients:

Chicken Breast (cut in half lengthwise to make them thin)
Onion
Mexican Dipping Cheese (I use the jalapeno flavor)
6 to 8 ounces milk (just add enough to get to the consistency you prefer.)
Chili Salt (1/4 cup sea salt, 1/4 cup pure chili powder, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne, pinch ground oregano. Mix together and store in an airtight container. This makes 1/2 cup of chili salt.)

Directions:

Saute your onions in a lightly greased skillet and set them aside.

Sprinkle your chicken with chili salt and begin cooking it in the skillet.

Grate the Cheese and melt according to directions. I add the milk a little at a time until it gets to a consistency I like. You don't want it to be so thick you can't pour it, but so thin it's like water either.

Mexican Dipping Cheese (I wanted to include a picture of what I use so you would know what to look for).

After you have all your chicken cooked through, put the onions back in the skillet and turn the burner off. Now you are ready to pour your cheese over the top and it is ready to serve!

Of course, you can pair this with your favorite sides and it is absolutely excellent rolled into a tortilla.

Enjoy!

I've linked this recipe to it's a blog party!



Edit:  I have had several say they are having a hard time finding this particular cheese.   I have not tried these two cheeses, but they may be worth a try.  Ole Original Queso Dip   and  El Viajero White Mexican Dip.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Pillowcase Dresses



Someone asked me the other day if I had ever thought to make Chickadee a pillowcase dress. I had never heard of such a thing. They gave me a quick explanation about how easy, cute, and inexpensive such a dress is to make. They told me that you can find pillowcases just about anywhere, but you could definitely find them for really cheap at resale shops and dollar stores.
I didn't go find me some pillowcases, but it did give me an idea about what to do with my remnants of material that I have lying around. I would love to find some vintage pillowcases to make some really cute dresses out of. Could you imagine a 70's type print? That would be so adorable!!

Anyway, I went digging through my spare material box which is full of all sorts of "pieces" that I had no idea what to do with. And I made Chickadee and one of her baby dolls a dress. I have more material and will be making some more tonight and tomorrow, but I wanted to post what I accomplished today.

I think they turned out pretty cute and they were pretty basic to make. I like learning new.....eh, I just love to sew!

A great tutorial can be found at The Ribbon Retreat Blog

~Lark

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Homemade Salsa & Fruit Leather

Today, I went out to my garden and picked 3 jalapeno peppers and some cilantro. I also had a few Roma tomatoes that were ripe and ready to be picked. It was time to make some salsa.

Now, three Roma tomatoes is not near enough to make salsa with so I had to settle for canned tomatoes. I poured my tomatoes into the blender and then added fresh pressed garlic, cilantro, onion, salt, and the jalapeno.

It turned out really good. I am so proud of how well my garden is turning out this year. At last count, there were 12 melons growing!! That's a lot of melon!


I also decided to try my hand at making fruit leather (fruit roll-ups). A gardening friend of ours brought us a shopping bag full of fresh blueberries! YUM!!
I put 4 cups of blueberries and 2 cups of red grapes into the blender and pureed them.
I then added 2 teaspoons of 100% lemon juice and blended again.
Then I had to put it in a pot and bring to a boil. After it reached a boil, I turned the heat down to medium high and had to keep the mixture moving until it thickened.


Then I spread it out on some wax paper on a cookie sheet (it took 3 cookie sheets for how much I made).

Then I put it in a 200 degree oven and let it "bake" until it was no longer sticky to the touch.

The pan I had on the bottom rack only took 1.5 hours the other two pans took about 2.5 hours. It probably varies depending on your oven and how thick or thin you smooth out the fruit.

I rolled up the fruit leather with the wax paper and then cut it into 2 inch strips. All you have to do is peel the wax paper off when you're ready to eat it.

We loved it!