Friday, December 24, 2010


All done.
I had fun with bows this year.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Candied Citrus Peel

I squeezed a few pieces of citrus fruit this morning, then I suddenly decided to candy the peels. This is a recipe I used for Greta's wedding cupcakes, and it turns out tender and delicious. It uses lots of sugar!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

More Christmas Decorating

Last night we threw a graduation party for Greta, and I finished decorating for Christmas just in time. This is a display of glass and gold and green in the dining room.

Stars and snow in an apothecary jar.

Gold birds under glass, with touches of red beyond.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Swedish Vignette

In honor of the Professor's roots, I create a Swedish Christmas display every December. Recently, I have been building it on top of a fairly high glass door cabinet in our dining room. This year, we had to turn the cabinet around, with the glass against the wall, to keep little hands from banging on (and breaking) the glass.
I start with a base of greens: usually a pine garland swirled around the top of the cabinet. Then I add a holly garland, twisting it in and out of the pine. Next I poke in a few picks with berries or apples, and a few small red ornaments. What I'm aiming for is bits of bright red to add color contrast.

Then I add my painted Swedish wood pieces which I have been collecting for 30 years. The most important piece is the red Dala horse. Some of my small pieces are a Santa Lucia girl, a lady in traditional Swedish costume, and little tomten.

In the back I stand my large Advent candelabra as well as my set of his and her costumed candelabras.The two stacked wood apples are part of a set of five nesting apples. They are not Swedish - they are Chinese! But they fit perfectly in color and style with the Swedish things. I got them many years ago in San Francisco's China Town, before I was even old enough to go to school.

Oh, I almost forgot: underneath it all is a Swedish runner with a tomten design.

I'm linking to Rhoda's vignette party. Go join the fun!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Decorating for Christmas

I somehow ended up on the church decorations committee this year. With our music director AND our decorations gal leaving this year, everyone was at a loss as to how to go about decorating the church. One brave elder stepped forward to sort of direct things, and two other ladies and I stepped forward to actually do the work.

First we spent several hours digging through the attic to find what was available. Then we spent another afternoon evaluating all the bits and pieces and deciding what we could use and what we wouldn't use. Then we gave ourselves the day last Saturday to get it all out and up.

Here are some of the decorations we did.

The atrium wall

The Narthex table:
In the sanctuary:

8 arched windows:

Between the windows:

In front:

A hard-to-decorate side wall:
It only took 11 hours to finish the job.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Free in November

Here is what we were able to get free this month. Listed next to each item is the retail price:
9 spools Reach dental floss: $17.31
2 flu vaccines: $60
14 cans Carnation evap milk: $16.66
6 bags Vigo rice: $7.74
8 bags Mahatma rice: $9.52
Birds Eye veggies: $2.27
8 boxes Muellers pasta: $10.32
Levolor top down/bottom up pleated shade: $985
46" Samsung LCD hi def TV: $1300
19" round glass table topper: $30
Haircut for the Professor: $18
Martha Stewart Living subscription: $59.88
2 little gold birds (Hallmark): $10
2 rolls gift wrap: $6
2 gift decorations: $4

Total: $2,536.70

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Late Season Estate Sale

We hit an Estate Sale on Friday and I got this pan half off since they were getting ready to close for the day.

Then I found it listed on the Nordicware site: it's a $36 pan!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Homemade Doughnuts

These are yummy! (Even though they aren't doughnuts.)

We started out with doughnuts today, but we gobbled them up before I could get a picture. That was at 5:00 this afternoon, right before dinner. You can't believe it? Neither can I; we NEVER do something like that. But there's a story behind it...

This afternoon I was in a baking mood so I decided to make doughnuts. I mixed the dough and put it aside to raise. But it just sat there doing nothing for, like, an hour and a half. I thought maybe the yeast had gone bad, so I mixed a little in some water to see if it would bubble.

Meantime, we had assorted messes made all over the kitchen. I cleaned and mopped and then I saw my yeast bubbling away. I was about to mix that yeast into my stubborn dough, but it had cheered up when I wasn't looking and the dough was puffing up just fine all on its own. So I proceeded with the doughnuts. After I finished frying them and shaking them in cinnamon sugar, I called the family to come and eat hot doughnuts (wishing we had cider too). Then I noticed the time - oh well, dessert before dinner isn't going to kill anyone.

After the dinner dishes were done, I saw my cup of yeast again. I didn't want to waste it, so I added flour and all that stuff to it. It got puffy really fast so I had to quickly decide what to do with it. Browsing my bread cookbook, I saw a recipe for "Lemon Puff Pillow Buns". Odd name but yummy ingredients: they are filled with a sweetened cream cheese filling.

The fam wasn't too excited about the PINK sugar sprinkled on top. I wanted yellow, but there is no yellow in my pantry.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Work in Progress

Finally, finally! We are getting concrete poured along the side of the house today. This is a concrete pad inside our little utility yard, and a sidewalk connecting that to the driveway.

I have wanted this done for something like 17 1/2 years. That's all. The pour date was set back two days because of rain, then finally they came today. Soon after they poured and smoothed the pad, it started to rain, and then to hail! They quickly pulled plastic sheeting over all the wet stuff, but they weren't quick enough because we have dings in the surface in several places.



Tuesday, November 2, 2010

October Freebies

Here's what I got FREE in October:
3 pair socks: $7
Neilmed nasal dock: $9.99
Sucrets: $4.99
8 rolls Bounty paper towels: $9.99
2 bottles Gain laundry detergent: $29.98
candy corn: 99 c
single serve Simply Lemonade: $1.02
2 toothbrushes: $2
Schick Hydro 5 razor: $10.47
All Small and Mighty: $7.49
Chestal: $6.29
Cold Buster warming syrup: $8.99
4 ct Bodi Heat: $3.99
3 ct Oscillococcinum: $6.99
4 pk Bath tissue: $2.49
Taco Bell Orange Swirl Fruitista: $2.29
5 Athenos Hummus: $14.95
2 Dannon Greek yogurt: $2.38

Total $132.29

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Fall Decor

The mantel in the family room

I finally got around to doing a little fall decorating in the house. It was hard to find inspiration this year with all the HOT weather until just a week or so ago. But fall is finally here, so I pulled out the colorful leaves. The fireplace now looks cheery dressed in the season's colors.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Last Garage Sale of the Year?

A couple of weeks ago Heather and I went out garage saling. It looks like this was the last day for sales this year; we found very few that day. I found one thing only:This cute table and chairs set for the little boys. I plan to repaint it for Christmas. Other than graffiti on the tabletop, there is nothing wrong with it. Price? I got her down to $13.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Apple Picking

The Professor and I drove up to the mountains on Saturday to check out the "Apple Highway", and perhaps buy a bag of apples. We hadn't been up there for over 10 years, so we really didn't know what to expect.

It was a beautiful, warm and sunny fall day. At the first orchard, we bought a half-bushel of Rome Beauty apples so I could make applesauce. At the second orchard we bought a bag of Stayman Winesap apples, just for eating. After that, we decided to stop at every orchard along the highway, and buy something different at each one. Soon we had tried apple cider doughnuts, fried apple pies, dried cinnamon apples, and many varieties of fresh pressed cider.

At BJ Reece Orchards we saw a sign for picking apples. How fun! Soon we were roaming the hillsides, picking a few of one variety here and a few of another variety there, until we had our full weight of 10 pounds.On Sunday I baked an apple pie, and on Monday I turned the Rome Beauty apples into 10 pints of unsweetened applesauce.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

September Freebies

Here's what I got FREE in September, from couponing and sales, special deals, give-aways, and rejects from other people:
Tortilla chips: $2.58
2 pkg Sara Lee hot dog buns: $5
2 pkg Pepperidge Farms Milano cookies: $3.98
Milky Way bar: 89 cents
Candy corn: 99 cents
Publix coffee: $1.89
Martha White muffin mix: $1.29
2 Old El Paso taco seasoning: $2.18
Nivea body wash: $5.99
Alive! Women's vitamins: $10.99
Skintimate shave gel: $3.99
CVS 12-roll paper towels: 5.99
Rita's Italian Ice: $2.49

Total: $48.25

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Garage Sale Again

Today: a quiet day of rest after a very tiring week of preparing for a garage sale all week, and holding the sale on Friday and Saturday. We sold lots and lots and lots of little stuff, but very little in the way of pricier items such as furniture. We actually sold none of our furniture. That was disappointing, but I was pleased with my final income.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Getting Things Done, Part II

After reading the book I mentioned below, and writing down every project and To-Do I could think of, I have really gone wild with Getting Things Done around here. So many of the little nagging projects are done now and it feels terrific. Just a few minutes ago I wrote two notes that have been hanging over me for months. They are now stamped and ready for the mailbox. Whew!

Saturday evening: Today we also CONQUERED one little, tiny project that was HUGE in our minds. It's been hangin' around for 2 1/2 years: get two pieces of concrete retaining wall toppers trimmed down to size. It really shouldn't have taken so long to do, but we couldn't find anyone to do it. Finally, a stone yard suggested we try buying a concrete-cutting blade for our circular saw and trim it ourselves. Surprise! It worked! And the wall was finished in about two minutes.

Without working all that hard or steadily, here's what I accomplished from my lists in the last few days:
Wrote two notes and mailed them
Finished retaining wall
Organized several files on computer
Worked on notes for classes I'm teaching
Cleaned out 7-10 file folders
Created two binders of crafts instructions
Emailed a recipe to a friend, who had requested it three months ago
Printed off a monogram for a photo album
Began making a "Legacy Box" as discussed on Dave Ramsey's website
Responded to three emails
Hemmed one pair of pants
Cleaned out a file box
Typed and printed three recipes

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Free in August

Here's what I got FREE in August, from couponing and sales, special deals, give-aways, and rejects from other people:
5 lb chicken: $10
3 Hershey's candy bars: $2.67
1/2 gallon iced tea: $1.50
2 boxes Minute Maid soft lemonade: $3.58

2 first aid kits: $9.38
Dulcolax Balance: $12.99
Schick Hydro razor: $9.99
Blink tears: $9.99
Crest Pro Health Clinical: $4.99
emery boards: $1

Publix jumbo roll paper towels: $1.32
backpack: $6.99

kielbasa with chips, drink, cookie: $5
Capozzi's pizza slice: $2.25
Rita's Ice: $2
2 steak dinners at Longhorn Steaks: $43
2 Taco Bell sparkling limeade: $3.38

Total: $118.04

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Getting Things Done

I spent the last three days reading this book, cover to cover, and then digging right in to begin implementing his ideas.

Basically, he says that everyone needs a place to dump all their mental to-do lists, plans, cogitations, wishes and dreams, out of their head and into the written word. That will free up a lot of time and mental energy for creativity.

I had to hack through quantities of rather boring info meant for the business world, but what remained was very helpful to me in my home world. I'm still working on emptying all my ideas, plans and thoughts into list form; more keep coming back to me as I work. But when I am finished I expect to have a binder full of my future. And I won't be worrying that anything is falling through the cracks!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Free in July

Here is my list of what I got FREE during the month of July.
Publix tortilla chips: $2.58
6 Kraft Sandwich Shop mayo: $11.94
4 half-gallons Smart Balance milk: $14.36
French's mustard: $1.87
2 12-pk Coke: $9.98
3 jars Musselman's applesauce: $7.17
2 cans Lindsay olives: $4.38
Mayfield ice cream: $5.29
Milky Way candy bar: 89 cents
4 jars spices: $4
5 blocks Philly cream cheese: $7.56
Publix hot dogs: $2.19
Crest toothpaste: $4.79
3 soap pumps: $ 5.37
Gillette Fusion ProGlide razor: $10.99
2 Olay Gentle Foaming face wash: $11.98
2 Neutrogena spray sunscreen: $19.98
10-pack pencils: $1.99
Taco Bell Sparkling Limeade: $1.69
McDonald's smoothie: $2.29
Einstein's bagel with shmear: $2.49
2 Einstein's bagels: $2
4 5x7 prints: $4

Total: $134.31

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Easy Dill Pickles

We have a bumper crop of cucumbers this year, all from three little seeds my neighbor gave me a few months ago. I poked them into the soil at my feet when he gave them to me, and then I forgot all about them. They were truly ignored. I was busy with a wedding and guests and renovating two bedrooms. I didn't have time to think about struggling little cucumber seeds by the garage.

Then one day I happened to see a large jumble of leaves crawling across the remains of the woodpile. Weeds...big weeds. I need to pull them, I thought. Was I ever surprised to see little cucumbers peaking through the leaves! Soon they ripened, and their brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles and 12th cousins have been ripening ever since. We have too many!

Last week I tried making refrigerator dill pickles. That used up a tiny portion of our supply, which was a good thing. We allowed them to marinade for a week, then we tasted them. They are good, but the spices need a bit of adjusting. Today I made more. They are sitting in a crock until tomorrow, when I will get them into jars and in the refrigerator. Refrigerator dill pickles are very simple to make and a good way to use up lots of cucumbers.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Thrifty Finds

It's almost too hot for garage saling now. Almost, I said, but not quite. Heather and I hit the road early this time, and stopped at Einstein's Bagels for our free treat. We had to do a bit more driving than usual, but we found enough sales to keep us happy.

My haul:
A third pizza stone, this one includes the rack. New, never opened box, until we used it tonight for veggie pizza; $2. I have enough pizza stones now to keep the pizza coming for my crew.

A blue metal wastebasket with lighthouse design for our hall bath. 50 cents. Price tag on the bottom says $30! Who would pay $30 for a trash receptacle? Only someone who lives on a street called Highborn, I think.

A cute little apothecary jar, 50 cents.

A blonde wood desk organizer. I envision painting it white to go with the desk we don't have, and finally being able to organize The Professor's desk clutter.

That was it for me, a small haul, but it makes me happy.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Painted Pedestal Bowl

I finished a quick little project, except it wasn't all that quick. I found this lathe-turned wood bowl at an estate sale a month or so ago. In the before picture you can see that the finish is in really bad shape. The wood has a number of cracks in it, and, except for the pretty silhouette, there isn't much to recommend it.
After sanding, filling in the cracks with wood filler, and sanding again, I primed it, then spray painted it black. It took me forever to get it painted because I did it in the HOT garage, where, between coats, I kept forgetting about it. But it's finally finished and I'm very pleased with it.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

July 4th

One of our family traditions has become a patio party for friends on or near July 4th. This year we decided to have a backyard BBQ, or perhaps I should say a backyard "cookout", on July 3rd. We have plenty of room on our patio, so we invited lots of friends. We had 27 attend. We grilled burgers and dogs, and baked a pork roast. Our friends brought various side dishes.The patio from above, before our guests arrived. I didn't get any photos after guests arrived; I was too busy!

The welcome wall pocket on the front porch.

Heather found a cute vintage patriotic print for the table by the front door. She also made all the pleated fan shapes we used in our centerpieces. To trim them, she created folded stars and added more vintage prints and star garland. They turned out so cute!

I made the red, white and blue table runners for our party last year.

River rocks and clear glass marbles anchor the fans. Heather glued the fans to painted paint stirring sticks.

Thrifted votive holders tied with polka dot ribbons.

I made patriotic cupcakes using an old jello cake recipe. When I discovered I didn't have white cake mix, I used coconut cake with raspberry jello. They were very good, except to the coconut-haters in the family.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Free in June

Here's my list of all the stuff I got free in June:
4 heads Romaine: $8
2 eggplants: $3
5 cucumbers: $2.50
4 mangoes: $4
1 lb green beans: $1.49
Smart Balance sour cream: $2.79
Aunt Jemima syrup: $3.69
2 Publix apple juice: $3.98
5 Mahatma rice: $4.95
6 1/2-gallons Smart balance milk: $21.74
8 oz blueberries; $1.49
4 Taco Bell sparkling limeades: $6.76
2 Einstein's bagels: $2
Schick Hydro 5 razor: $ 9.99
2 Gillette Fusion ProGlide razors: $21.98
Nivea body wash: $5.99
2 Old Spice body wash: $9.98
2 Schick shaving cream: $6.98
Ibuprofen: $4.49
Colgate Total: $3.89
bath tissue: $3.49
4-roll pkg bath tissue: $2.49
2 pkg Angel Soft bath tissue: $8
Airplus moisturizing socks: $4.49
nail polish: $2.49
Preen: $10
SLAH Signature Flowerpot: $ 14.96

Total: $177.10

Monday, June 28, 2010

David's Room

I finished repainting David's room last week.We had three false starts on the color before we settled on this pale gray one. It's Behr "Gentle Rain", color # 790-E; David declared it perfect.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

End-of-June Garage Saling

This weekend was very, very hot but Heather and I bit the bullet and went out Friday and Saturday mornings anyway. We were surprised at how many garage sales we found, considering that people have to sit out in their non-ac garages all day long. I found:

A very tiny cast iron skillet in need of seasoning (50 cents) and a mini muffin pan (25 cents). That brings my mini muffin tin count up to six, just right for a batch of cupcakes from a cake mix.
12 clear glass plates ($3) photo to come. I almost didn't buy them because I have so many kinds of plates, but Heather reminded me that several times in the past few weeks I have wished aloud that I had some for group gatherings. Then I remembered that I really want to use clear glass when we have a themed party, such as the one-year-old birthday last week. Our standard floral plates just didn't go with the nautical theme of the birthday party.

A pizza stone and a Sil-Pat mat ($1 each)
Three vintage fingertip towels with embroidery (25 cents each)
A cute wooden couple from Sweden (25 cents)