Thursday, November 22, 2012

Being Thankful

On this day, we stop and thank God for all that He has gracious provided. If you are breathing, right now, then you have a reason to give thanks; no matter how bad things might look right now. There are so many things for which I'm thankful for, here are just a few.

1. My loving husband. He is my strength and my heart. You work so hard for all of us, so that I can stay home and teach our children. Thank you for letting me live my dream, and being so selfless. You are an incredible man. Without you, life would not be as grand. I love you, baby.
2. My 3 dinosaurs. I love each of my children, with a love that is unequal to anything else. They remind me, each day, just how good God's grace is. He blessed me with my children, and I am so grateful to be their mother.
3. My parents. You taught me about the Father, loved me when I was unlovable, and protected me. Thank you for your guidance and love. My children are SO lucky to have you as their grandparents!
4. My sisters. Lord knows, we did NOT get along when we were kids, but thank you Lord that we are friends now. I'm so lucky to have you as my sisters, and my friends. Thank you for holding me up in prayer, daily. I love you all so much!
5. My father-in-law. This man has been thru hell and back, and it has been amazing to watch as God has worked in your life. I'm so glad that you are my father-in-law, and best of all , one of my best friends. My kids are lucky to have you as their Grandpapa, and I know they love you so much!
6. My husband's adopted parents. It always bothered me that my children didn't have 2 grandmas, and then like an angel, you both appeared. We love you both so much, and are so grateful that you are in our lives. My children love you so much, and we are so blessed to call you Grandma V and Papa T. Thank you so much for loving us, even with the knowledge of the past, and for making us a part of your family.

I have so many things to be thankful for; including a home, food, and health. The Lord has been more then gracious to us this year, and I'm looking forward to next year, with a grateful heart. Thank you, Father, for your blessings and love.

Until Next Time,

Alton Brown's Brined and Roasted Turkey

For the past 5 years, I've used this recipe from Alton Brown. It has never let me down, and always produces turkey so moist that my husband doesn't have to do much carving; it falls off the bone! I've got this recipe going in the oven, right now, and thought I would share it with you!


  • 1 (14 to 16 pound) frozen young turkey

For the brine:

  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 gallon vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons allspice berries
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped candied ginger
  • 1 gallon heavily iced water

For the aromatics:

  • 1 red apple, sliced
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 sprigs rosemary
  • 6 leaves sage
  • Canola oil


2 to 3 days before roasting:
Begin thawing the turkey in the refrigerator or in a cooler kept at 38 degrees F.
Combine the vegetable stock, salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, allspice berries, and candied ginger in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally to dissolve solids and bring to a boil. Then remove the brine from the heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate.
Early on the day or the night before you'd like to eat:
Combine the brine, water and ice in the 5-gallon bucket. Place the thawed turkey (with innards removed) breast side down in brine. If necessary, weigh down the bird to ensure it is fully immersed, cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area for 8 to 16 hours, turning the bird once half way through brining.
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Remove the bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard the brine.
Place the bird on roasting rack inside a half sheet pan and pat dry with paper towels.
Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and 1 cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Add steeped aromatics to the turkey's cavity along with the rosemary and sage. Tuck the wings underneath the bird and coat the skin liberally with canola oil.
Roast the turkey on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F for 30 minutes. Insert a probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Set the thermometer alarm (if available) to 161 degrees F. A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting. Let the turkey rest, loosely covered with foil or a large mixing bowl for 15 minutes before carving.

Check out Alton Brown's link on Food Network. This guy is a culinary genius! This turkey is so successful, that I refuse to make it anyother way! Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Until Next Time,

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Oven Canning

I'm huge into canning and dehydrating food, when it goes on sale. Ever since my husband's grandmother gave me her 1950s aluminum pressure cooker, I've been crazy over it! Well, this past week, our local grocery store had a sale on potatoes; $0.99 for 10 pounds of potatoes! Amazing sale, and I knew that I could do some serious dehydrating and freezing for later use. I got 20 pounds, and was happy with that, for now. Until, a friend gave me another 20 pounds of potatoes.

So, now I had 40 pounds of potatoes that I needed to find a solution for storing. I planned on parboiling, and freezing 1/2; making potato wedges and dices. But, I needed a more permanent solution for the other 20 pounds. Storing 20 pounds of dehydrated potatoes in plastic bags didn't sound like a good option; I've had issues with the bags ripping during the year, and there goes all my hard work.

After alot of research, I came across a very interesting idea.  Oven Canning

The first thing I did, to prepare my dehydrated potatoes, was to slice them thin on the mandolin. Then, I parboiled the potatoes for approx. 5 min, then put them into an ice bath. From there, they went onto the drying racks, for the dehydrator. Less then 8 hours later, they were hard as a rock, and ready to be Oven Canned.

To Oven Can:
Preheat your oven to 200* Fahrenheit. Fill a pint, quart, or half gallon size jar with the desired dry goods. You can only oven can dry foods, not wet ones. Do not put the lids on the jars, after filling, and place on a cookie sheet. You can fill your cookie sheet with as many jars as will fit on it, just be careful putting it in the oven! Set the timer for 1 hour, and wait! While the jars are baking, place all your seals and rings into a pot of boiling water. This will start melting the wax on seals, making for a tighter seal. After the timer is done, take 1 jar out of the oven. Taking a damp (not wet) rag, wipe the lip of the jar, and grab a seal out of the water with a pair of tongs. Working quickly, and while holding the jar with a thick towel or oven mitt, put the seal on the jar and screw a ring on, and set on another towel to cool. Continue pulling the hot jars out of the oven, wiping the lips off and and sealing them, as fast as you can. As the jars cool, the seals will suction down, sealing the jar and its contents.

What Can You Oven Can?
Dried goods like rice, oatmeal, whole wheat flour, white flour, potato flakes, pasta and cake mixes can all be canned. Some cereals and dried fruits and vegetables can be oven canned, as long as the cereal does not have nuts in it. Products that can not be oven canned are those who contain oil, as in walnuts and almonds. The oil will go rancid using this method.

There you have it! You have a super simple, and fast, way to store and keep your flour, dehydrated potatoes, or whatever you want, and bugs can't get in! The heat, from the oven, kills any bug eggs, and as the seal attaches, it seals out any air that might rot the food! Our local grocery store is having a massive sale on whole cranberries, this week, so I think the next thing I'll be doing is dehydrating and oven canning some dried cranberries!

Until Next Time,

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Easy Hand Made Baby Doll Diapers (Can also be no-sews)

For Christmas, Mopsy asked for a Bitty Baby, from American Girl. She takes very good care of her babies, so we decided that we would get her one. Now, one of her favorite things to do with her baby, is to pretend to change their diapers. She will walk over to the changing table, and grab a cloth diaper that I use for our baby, and try to put it on her doll! It's quite cute, watching her try to keep this diaper on, since it's rather large for such a small baby doll!

Well, knowing my daughter's love for changing her baby, I found a cute little diaper changing set, on Amazon. It comes with a little package of 'wipes', that are just little fabric rectangles, a jar of 'diaper rash cream' and 1 diaper. The diaper fits her Bitty Baby perfectly (I tried it on to make sure), but there's only 1! Not wanting to spend anymore money, I decided to make her a couple of diapers, and I'm going to show you how. It's super simple and you don't even have to sew anything, if you want. Let me explain.

My whole goal, in making these diapers was to spend NO money. I have a set budget that I will spend on each child, and I was already at the limit for Mopsy. My craft room, however, has so many extra things in it, I knew that I could find what I would need in there. It might not all go great, but I was determined to make this work! 

So, I found 2 colors of felt, that I liked, and taking the diaper from the kit, I traced the diaper outline onto the felt. Then I cut it out. Now, you could do these as no sews, and simply adhere some velcro onto the sides, to keep the diaper on the baby doll. Or, you could run a few stitches on the vecro to make sure that it stays on. I don't believe that the velcro, with the sticky tape on the back would be a good idea on felt. The felt's fibers can be pulled apart, and the velcro would come off rather easily. But, there are fabric glues available, and you could always go that route, if you really don't want to sew anything on. And, you would only need the scratchy part of the velcro, as the burrs will stick to the felt. 

Anyway, I thought about going the no-sew route, but I didn't have any fabric glue and I wanted to make these diapers look a bit like the one that came with the diaper bag. 

 So, taking some Bias tape I had laying around, I pinned the edges and simply sewed on the bias to the edges of the diapers. 1 package was more then enough. After the bias tape was sewn on, I decided to see if the diaper would fit some of her other dolls. I already knew that it fit the Bitty Baby, but she has a couple of other babies that she loves to mama. Well, the diapers fit all but 1. This doll was a bit thicker, in the core, so I decided to make these diapers more like the ones I use on Alexsaurus.

Taking the remaining bias tape, I ironed it open, so that I had a wider stretch of fabric. Once again, my goal was to use what I had lying around. After ironing it, I cut the bias tape into 3" sections.

3" sections

I then sewed a little square onto 1 side of the bias tape tab, and sewed the other side to the diaper. When the tabs are folded in, the velcro will stick to the diaper, rather then being left out to scratch. Just like the Kushies that we use. I sewed the smooth side of the velcro to the front of the diaper, so that the thicker dolls have a bit more room to wear the diapers, and the thinner ones have an area to tighten up the diapers.
 Honestly, I love these diapers so much, I might make her some more! I have quite a bit of felt, and some fleece, so I might make some more! I know that she'll love them, and I can't wait to see her face on Christmas morning, as she plays with her new doll and diapers!

Until Next Time,

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Lemon Pepper Chicken on pasta

This is a creamy, delicious recipe that everyone can enjoy! The kids like the chicken, and the creamy sauce, and mom likes the veggies that are in the recipe!

Here's what you need:

1 1/2 - 2 lbs. boneless chicken breasts or tenders
1 lb. bowtie pasta
broccoli, cauliflower and carrots (I just grabbed a bag of frozen mixed ones)
feta cheese 6-8oz, crumbled
lemon pepper
4 oz. of Velveeta
1 1/2 – 2 cups half and half

To Make:
Sprinkle the chicken on both sides with lemon pepper and grill it. While the chicken is grilling start the pasta cooking. Add the frozen veggies to the pasta during the last few minutes of cooking. Drain pasta and veggies, and put back in the pot. Add the Velveeta, and let melt, pouring the half and half in to make it creamy.
Stir in the feta. Slice finished chicken in thin strips and stir in to the pasta. Enjoy!

Until Next Time,

Monday, November 5, 2012

Making a 18" inch doll into a boy doll

I have to start this post with a bit of a back story, first. Jackasaurus' best friend, at church, is J. They are the same age, like alot of the same things, and have so much fun playing together. All I hear, during the week, is, "J and I did this in church!" and so on. The sad thing is, J's family was the youth pastors, and have felt like God is calling them back to Arizona. Jackasaurus' best friend is leaving at the beginning of the year.

Now, around the time we heard that J was leaving, we also got the American Girl catalog. Jackasaurus was enthralled with all the accessories; like a car, Indian teepee, and so many other cool things! The one question he had was, "Where is the boy dolls, mom?" Good question!

After some research, I found what I thought was a great action figure.

Jackasaurus saw this, and his first words were, "That looks just like J!" The item description said that it was an 18" doll, and many of the product reviews said it was alot like American Girl dolls, and fit the same size clothes. So, I ordered it, thinking it would be great for Christmas.

Well, on Halloween I got this guy, from Amazon. Yeah, this doll was a MAJOR disappointment. First off, the packaging was slashed, like someone had taken a box cutter to it, and his face has a slash on it too. But, I figured maybe the slash wouldn't matter much, if I painted it, as long as the guy itself was in good condition, and it fit the Air Force Flight suit I had gotten for it. So, very carefully, I took it out of the package. This guy was so thin, it looked almost anerexic. I mean no disrespect for those who are battling that horrible disease, but this doll was WAY to thin. The Flight Suit just hung on him, not to mention that the joints barely kept this guy upright. So all the issues with this guy, I decided to return him, and sent him back the next day.

I still wanted to get Jackasaurus a boy doll, or action figure: whatever you want to call it, it's all the same. So, after researching on turning an American Girl doll into a boy, I found a pretty good solution, and I'm going to share how I did it.

First off, I found this doll at Target

The price was great, and I liked the fact that this doll had the same hair color and same eye color as Jackasaurus. Also, I liked the fact that it came with a simple white shirt, blue shorts, and blue tennis shoes. This doll fit the requirements perfectly, to turn this into a boy!

I found this Picture Tutorial on how to cut the hair, to make it look good. I'm not a hairdresser, so I wanted to make sure that I did this right!
 First off, I removed the makeup off of the doll's face, using pure acetone nail polish remover. Make sure to test it on the back of the neck, where you won't see it, in case the acetone removes the color of the skin. In this doll's case, the skin color was the plastic, and the only paint was the makeup. I was able to remove the makeup easily, and wash the face with soap and water, to make sure there was nothing left on the face.

 Then, I got ready to cut the hair. I took out the braids, and pulled it into a low ponytail. Then, following the Tutorial, I started cutting. Sadly, I was not able to cut the hair and take pictures. I had to cut the hair, fend off a baby from trying to grab the doll, and not mess up! Taking pictures was the least of my worries! But, after cutting, I washed the hair in warm water and with baby shampoo. Here's the finished product.

I bought the Flight Suit and the boots from Doll Clothes Store. I think it turned out great, and I know that Jackasaurus will love it! It even looks a little bit like his friend, J!

Until Next Time,

Sausage and Potato Casserole

This recipe is a favorite for the men in my family. It is a man's meal! My brother in law, a couple of years ago, cleared about 5 servings of it! It is so easy, and so good! And, here's the recipe!

You will need:
1 1/2 pounds of mild Turkey Polska Kielbasa sausage (you can find it right by the hotdogs)
1 red bell pepper
1 green bell pepper
2 medium russet potatoes
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, finely minced, or 1 TBSP or minced garlic
1 (28oz) can of chopped tomatoes
1 TBSP chopped fresh basil, or 1 tsp dried basil

To Make:
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Grease a large casserole dish. Cut sausage into 2" pieces. Cut the bell peppers into 1/4" slices. Cut potatoes into quarters, lengthwise. Cut quarters into halves. Place in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on HIGH for 4 min. Combine sausage, bell peppers, potatoes, onion, garlic, undrained tomatoes, and basil in a large bowl; mix well. Spoon mixture into prepared casserole dish. Cover with foil; cut a slit in the center. Bake until cooked through, about 50 min. Serve with fresh, hot bread!

Until Next Time,

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Chicken and Noodles

This week, my family and I have been battling a cold bug. I have been craving some serious chicken and noodles, and knew that my kids would love some too. I've had to force every bit of liquids into Mopsy, this week, so this was a great way to get extra fluids in, and have a very nutritious meal. Here's the recipe!

You will need:

1 whole Cut Up Fryer Chicken
5 whole Carrots, Diced
2 stalks Celery, Diced (I didn't put any in, as I'm the only one that likes celery in my house.)
1/2 whole Medium Onion, Diced
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1/4 tsp Black Pepper
1/4 tsp White Pepper (more To Taste)
1/4 tsp Ground Thyme
2 tsp Parsley Flakes
16 oz of Dried Egg Noodles
3 TBSP All-purpose Flour

To Make:
Cover chicken in 4 quarts water. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Simmer for at least 30 minutes.
Remove chicken from pot with a slotted spoon. With two forks, remove as much meat from the bones as you can, slightly shredding meat in the process. Return bones to broth and simmer on low, covered, for 45 minutes.
Remove bones from broth with a slotted spoon, making sure to get any small bones that might have detached.
Add the carrots, celery, and onions to the pot, followed by the herbs and spices. Stir to combine and simmer for ten minutes to meld flavors.
Increase heat and add egg noodles and chicken. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes.
Mix flour and a little water. Stir until smooth. Pour into soup, stir to combine, and simmer for another 5 minutes, or until broth thickens a bit. Test and adjust seasonings as needed. Serve with some bread to soak up the broth, and make a very nutritious and delicious meal!

Until Next Time,

Fun with Math!

I haven't been posting as much as I want, as we are in full swing with our schooling! Mopsy is doing amazing, writing her letters and numbers really well. She's got her colors, counting, alphabet, and cause and effect down. She's only 3, but if she keeps going this route, she'll be starting kindergarten next year!  Jackasaurus is doing better then I even imagined; quickly moving up from a kindergarten reading level to a 1st grade reading level. He also has quite a mind for math. I figured that I would start on simple things, like basic addition, and leave it at that for awhile. He took it to the next level, starting subtraction  and learning to read analog clocks. Who am I to stand in their way?

One thing that I have noticed, is that Jackasaurus learns better when his mind and hands are engaged. He is a very active 4 year old, and like most 4 year olds, he needs to move and have fun! I think one of the reasons he learns so well, is that he is having a blast while learning. It's not boring; monotonous. His favorite time in school is to do Lego math. He loves working the math problems while building Legos.

He loves this activity, and it makes learning so much fun for him! We also have a play clock, that he can move the hands on and play with as he does his problems. School can be a boring thing for kids; especially when it's a nice day outside and all they want to do is run! Make it a fun thing for them; a time to learn and play! I think you will be surprised at the outcome!

Until Next Time,

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