Monday, March 29, 2010

Spring Topiary: Week Three

I am so anticipating the budding and flowering season of spring, that I decided on a flowering topiary for this week's project.  I have been trying to make use of what I already have on hand, and there-by spend less money at Hobby Lobby.  I happened to have an old falling apart Christmas topiary that I had made about 15 years ago, and decided to make it over for this project.  I did buy a few flowers, birds and bird nests for my project.

1 clay pot
1 styrofoam ball
1 styrofoam base to fit into the pot
1 long  wooden dowel for tree trunk
spanish moss
silk flowers
little birds from the floral department of your craft store
little nests from same
floral pins
1 small strand of twinkle lights (2o light set) 
glue gun
craft paint

Instructions :
1).     Begin by painting your clay pot as instructed in week one, or leave it plain if you prefer.
2).     Once your clay pot is dry, put your topiary together by inserting dowel into styrofoam ball in one end of and the styrofoam base on the other (you can sometimes buy these topiary forms already put together). and place into pot.
3).     Using hot glue gun, glue spanish moss to base of topiary and around the ball on top.
4).     Using floral pins, pin string of lights around topiary ball
5).     Glue flowers all around on top of spanish moss.
6).     Glue nests and birds where desired.
7).     Tie ribbon underneath the styrofoam ball (around the dowel). 

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Saddle Bag Sandwiches

So now it is time to tell who our mystery guest was, and whether he ever got here or not.  His name is Michael Martine Murphy  along with our friend, Donna.  He is to become our neighbor for a short season, because he is going to rent our little house next door while he and his wife build their house here in our area.  He did finally come; but a few changes in the meal plan were necessary.  and the now compacted schedule of too many things combined from 2 days into 1, our "get together" had to be shortened somewhat.   This was our final menu:

Saddle Bag Sandwiches
Chili Rellenos Casserole, sliced, warmed and wrapped
Spring mix salad with apples, sugared walnuts etc. ; placed into disposable tupperware
Cranberry walnut vinaigrette in tiny jar
Tres Leches Cake cut and wrapped
plastic forks, 
paper napkins
bottled water

Saddle Bag Sandwiches

When Steve was young and when he would help his Grandfather work cows for the day, they would always pack a lunch for a day in the mountains. The best part  of that lunch was what was referred to as the saddlebag sandwich.  It was the perfect sandwich, made with homemade bread and left over meat from dinner the night before.  There is something about that hearty fresh bread, and delicious slices of  Roast Beef or Chicken that just makes this sandwich unforgettable 

Here is what makes a great saddlebag sandwich;

Sliced homemade bread
Sliced homemade roast beef
Fresh sliced tomatoes (actually a true saddlebag sandwich probably wouldn't include tomatoes, because they would turn everything to mush in the saddlebag, but you and I can just slice them up and put them in a separate container to be added just before eating.
Fresh lettuce
Put it all together as is customary.  Wrap in wax paper; I like to wrap sandwiches in wax paper; it  reminds me of the days when we were young before saran wrap or ziplock bags... something sweet about it.

Over a foot of snow and more coming

Well, It is coming down.  The weatherman says we could get 2 to 3 feet. "Whewie".  Im glad we filled up the bird's feeder yesterday.  They are out there like little fat gentleman gathered at the morning coffee house.  Our special company was delayed from last night to some time today due to all the snow and blizzard conditions.  We'll see if they will be able to get through or not. Here's the new menu: 

Lunch Menu:
Hot Roast Beef Sandwiches: Hot Roast Beef in Gravy Over Mashed Potatoes and slices of Homemade Bread
Chili Relleno Casserole Re-warmed
Lovely Spring Mix Salad with  Apples, Cranberries, Sugared Walnuts and Blue Cheese Crumbles
Tres Leches Cake (still delicious)
Coffee/Iced Tea
Roaring fire in the the wood stove (atmosphere)

We've called  ourselves a holiday with all this snow.  I can't get out at this point to go to my painting group, so I will paint here.  Perhaps I will finish my Mom's painting so that it can go with Steve on Friday (if he can get the truck up to the house and loaded) to Henderson.  Steve has cleared the roads with the tractor and the snow plow has gone through once (although not enough to make me want to get out in it (I did a 360 a couple of weeks ago when it was snow packed; that van isn't the best snow vehicle).  We might have to get the sleds out with the kids later on.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tres Leche Cake

Ok, this is an easy recipe that your family will go "gaga" over.  I first had it when Marie fixed it for us in Ohio.  She brought me a piece, warm from the oven but I have to say, that one piece is not nearly enough two pieces are almost impossible to resist. I knew our other kids would love it.  Tres Leche means 3 milks.  Most recipes have you mix a small can of evaporated milk, and whipping cream and 1 can of sweetened condensed milk; thus the tres leche.  When Marie made this, she simply poked holes in the top of the cake and poured the sweetened condensed milk over the top, and then added a dollop of whipped cream.  It was great served warm, although most recipes call for you to chill it first, then add the milks, I wouldn't change this one at all.  Its difficult to see in the picture, but this cake is wonderfully moist and the sweetened condensed milk is a little like caramel soaking up the cake.

1 white or yellow cake mix (follow cake mix directions)
1 large can sweetened condensed milk
whipped cream

Bake cake according to package directions.  While it is still warm, pierce the cake all over with a knife or a fork and make holes, then pour sweetened condensed milk over the top.  Cut and serve with a dollop of whipped cream. Yummmm.

Chili Relleno Casserole

Here is a family favorite that is a wonderful main dish, but I also often serve it as a side with Roast Beef, or with Mexican food.   I usually make a huge batch, because it goes fast.  You can cut the recipe in half if you would like, or make two smaller pans; One for dinner and one for the freezer.... but I always just make the one big ol pan, and it is never too much.  To make this Trim Healthy Mama friendly,  leave out the flour, and replace the milk with half and half or cream or almond milk.

Chili Relleno Casserole
2 and 1/2 pounds whole green chilies or approximately 24 whole chillies (a little more or less is okay) Update: I just made this with store bought green chills and this is how many I used 2  27 oz cans whole green chills (this is a little over 3 pounds total).
2 pounds Cheddar  or Monterrey Jack Cheese (8 cups), shredded
18 eggs
1 and 1/2 cup milk
1 and 1/2 cup  half and half
1/2 cup flour
sour cream

Layer chilies and cheese in a greased 10 x 14 casserole or lasagna pan.  (Lay the chilies out open and flat , side by, then cover with cheese).  Repeat a second layer.  In a mixing bowl, whip eggs, flour and milk, together;  I usually use a hand held blender, which , I think, does the best job;  Pour  this over the cheese and green chilies.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes, or until lightly golden brown and firm.
Cut into  squares and serve with a dollop of sour cream and/or salsa.

  Lay first layer of chills down like this; but add more to fill in the gaps.

...then cover with first layer of cheese.

Add a second layer of chilies, and then a final layer of cheese.

In a large bowl, put eggs, flour and milk....

Blend with hand held blender or mixer until well blended.

Pour egg mixture over cheese and chilis.

  Bake at 350 degrees for about 50  minutes; or until puffy, lightly browned  and  firm.

Cut into  squares 

Serve with sour cream.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Company Menu

Tomorrow we are having some special guests coming for dinner and we are excited for their coming.  I decided to post my menu. Its just an ordinary country meal, but all are our favorites, so I don't think you can go wrong with it.

Roast Beef
Mashed potatoes and gravy
Chili relleno casserole
Raised  rolls
Spring mix green salad with cranberries, walnuts and blue cheese crumbles

For Dessert 
Tres Leche cake

Stay tuned for the recipes...

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this, some have entertained angels 
without knowing it. Hebrews 13:2

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Spring Time Lamb/Project # 2

For this weeks creative endeavor, I was wanting a lamb to begin spring time decorations. Passover begins March 29th (at sundown) and continues for 7 days.  After that, is Easter on April 4th.  Lambs have been on my mind, because of the "Spring Lambs" being born; the "Passover Lambs"; and the remembrance of the resurrection of  "The Lamb of God", our precious Lord Jesus.  So I decided to try my hand at Paper Mache  for this project and create a Lamb.  I must say I didn't really care for paper mache as a craft, (I used the pre-made paper mache), but I think it can be a fun project to do with kids and can stimulate ideas for modeling projects that always come up with home-schooling.

"Fast Mache" paper mache mix
Spanish Moss
a few silk flowers
craft paint and brushes
glue gun

1).  The paper mache mixes up easily with water (read proportions on the box).
2).  Shape your lamb and allow to dry for 24 hours
3).  Hot glue spanish moss around lamb for his wool; fill in any white gaps with  small crumbs          of moss.  If Moss sticks out too much, you can use scissors to trim it up.
4).  Use a watery wash of paint and paint lamb with browns and pink. Allow to dry 10 to 15 min.
5).  Paint on eyes and mouth.
6).  Hot glue flowers where ever you like.

Very easy and even though it leaves a mess, clean up is  quick.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Shamrocks and Flower Pots

Shamrocks are fun little plants that are easily found every year about this time to kick off St. Patrick's Day.  Whenever I see them in the grocery store, I think of my Mom, who like me, finds them irresistible and often can't help adding another one to the collection we both already have at home.  There are several types and colors after all, so its not as if you are buying an identical plant to the one you already have. Besides, B.C. our cat has recently found where I keep my shamrocks (safely out of her reach supposedly), and, having a terrible addiction to them, she has eaten the heads off of them and left them all a little bald and they look very sad.  A new one would definitely ease over the ugly period of the other until it has grown back.

Even though I am neither Irish nor Catholic, I do enjoy a little St. Patty's day right along with the rest of America.  At our house we usually have our corned beef, cabbage and potatoes (I recently heard that this meal is not necessarily an Irish meal; although where we got this tradition from I do not know, did someone just make the whole thing up? Who can say.  No matter, it is Irish enough for us.) We also often love to watch "The Quiet Man" with John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara; if you haven't seen that movie it is really a fun one and suites well on St. Patty's Day.

This week,  to celebrate, I wanted to do something with shamrocks, and decided that I would give some of my clay pots a make-over and plant my newest Shamrock in one.  Olga helped me in the project and we have had a good time painting and decorating together.   These pots are fun and can be used in more ways than just flower pots; they can be used as gift baskets (containers), to package anything from garden related gifts, to gifts for the gourmet or artist or for the tea lover.  They can also be used in the bathroom for tooth brushes  etc. or the bigger ones for hair and beauty supplies; Use your imagination.

My Instructions will improve in the future but for now this is going to have to be as good as it gets:

one or two old pots
sponge paint brushes
Acrylic Craft paints (I used the metallic paints)
Wrapping paper or tissue paper (a pattern which you really like
"Mod Podge"(A glue used for decoupage found in a craft store)
Any fabric trims, including beaded trims or any variety of frilly thing you like.
Clear Coat Acrylic Spray
Hot Glue Gun

1).  Wash pots thoroughly. 
2).  For painted pots, paint with color of choice.  
3).  Allow to dry then apply a second coat. Allow to dry again.  
4).  Now the fun begins.  Your imagination can kick in with splatter techniques, (accomplished by using an old tooth brush, dipped into a contrasting color and using your finger, dragging it over the brush and letting it fling paint onto to your surface.  You may also drip another color, which has been thinned with water, over the pot. If you desire the dripping color to drip a little more loosely spray with a spray bottle of water over the wet dripping paint, this will cause a nice affect. Sponging a contrasting paint, also gives a nice affect. 
5).  Now let your pot dry over night.  
6).  When it is thoroughly dry, spray it with your clear coat.  Two coats of this gives the nicest affect and seals it against moderate moisture.
7).  Choose a trim; Use a hot glue gun to glue the trim around the brim of the pot.

1).  Find a piece of wrapping paper or tissue paper that you like.
2).  Cut it to match the width and circumference of your pot.  
3).  Using your sponge brush, paint the underside of the paper with "Mod Podge"  
4).  Place the paper around the pot.
5).  Smooth the paper firmly around the pot.  In places where the paper would tend to crinkle, gently allow it to fold over it self, as if you were wrapping a present.  The Mod Podge will allow you to move the paper in place and it will stay.  You will want to move quickly so that it doesn't stick where you don't want it to. Don't let perfectionism get to you while doing this, it looks really nice with the folds tucked neatly here and there.  When in place run your hands over the entire pot, smoothing as you go.
6).  Now spread Mod Podge over the top of the entire pot, completely covering the paper with a thick quantity.
7).  When paper is completely covered, allow to dry several hours, until  it becomes clear and hard.
8).  Glue trim or beds around ridge.

52 weeks of creative projects

 I have decided to begin a new project that will help me consistently work on my creative pursuits and keep me committed to a creative project a week.  So here is the plan;  Every week, I will post a creative project that I  have done, complete with instructions and step by step pictures from here to the end of the year; This obviously will fall short of 52 weeks by about 11 weeks, since it is now the middle of March, if I end at the end of 2010,but  I am considering going through March of 2011, which will then equal 52 weeks, I'm not sure if I want to do it that way yet, or keep my calendar through the end of the year and be neat and tidy and begin again in January; something I will have to work out as I go.  I have seen other projects that are 365 days of the year; way too much for me, while taking care of life and a family as well, but I think I may be able to scrape up enough time and projects to warrant 52 projects in the next year.  So if you are interested in creative projects, and if you would like a few how-to ideas on some of the ones you like, stay tuned, and please leave me some of your comments, I'd love to hear from you.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Good Bye Russ

Russ and Coach Kraus

Russ with family and friends 

Russ left for Navy boot camp today.  We miss him already this evening and feel a blank space where he has filled our home with his goodness, and helpfulness, sense of humor and fun. We had a going away party for him yesterday afternoon, with friends and family coming and going from 3:00 until 9:00.  He was sent off with an amazing prayer time (with about 12  of us) last night, and plenty of love and last minute advice;  We Miss you Russ, and we'll be praying for you!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Fighting the "Good Fight"

"Overcast and snow......."  We have heard that weather report often lately.  Colorado's usually abundant sunshine (even in winter), has gone missing quite often this year And with the over- cast days have come more snow and from there more mud! (At least out where we live)  You can't have it all can you? country life comes with all its ups and downs, and we certainly can always use the moisture, but needless to say overcast, snowy, muddy winter days, sometimes leave me wrestling with cabin fever and what I call the "winter blues".  Do  you ever feel that way? Or perhaps you might struggle in other ways. It may be with something you have heard; you turn on the news and of course its always bad or maybe someone has said something about you and it really gets to you. I wrestle with those things.  I may struggle with being over-whelmed with too much on my plate and I feel at a loss as to where to even begin, and feel completely  inadequate to begin it.  I've come to the conclusion that all these things are part of the battle that we are to fight while here on this earth and all these things have a common thread and a common voice.

I was reading the story of David and Goliath again the other day, and when I was reading what Goliath said to the army of Israel and to David, I thought I recognized his voice.  I had been hearing things just like that.  I realized it was nothing more than the voice of Satan.  He says the same things over and over again just like he has been since he first started talking to Eve. He taunts and he mocks and he bates  you and tries to get you to either freeze up in fear, or over react and blow your testimony.

But I love how David reacts to him and this very same feeling rises up in me when I finally get a clue as to who is speaking to my mind; "righteous indignation".  Is the world telling you you are worthless, you are foolish, you are a failure, you ought to have something more to show for yourself.   Or perhaps in spite of all you  have offered or accomplished, you are being criticized and condemned. You can know it is nothing more than Goliath/Satan speaking. 

When I was going to bed the night I had read this story, I kept hearing; "Five Smooth Stones" in my head.  It intrigued me.  I have been rolling it around for the last couple of days.  David of course picked up 5 smooth stones from the river and placed them in his pouch (I Sam 17:40).
It appears that he only needed one of them to kill Goliath, but he had five.  I was thinking his one stone and his Faith in God and his action upon those two things were what brought that enemy down.  

I have a little recipe that I resort to that helps me rid myself of the "Winter Blues" Or the onslaught of any kind of oppresson; I think I will call them my "five smooth stones".  It is what I do and it always works.  Maybe it will inspire some one else.

1.  Encourage yourself in the Lord
David went through times of depression, but he encouraged himself in the Lord and fought his way out by speaking to his downcast spirit saying: "why are you downcast oh my  soul....." "hope in God, for I shall again praise Him"  Psalm 42:11, Psalm 43:5

2.  Speak, proclaim, and pray the word of God
Ephesians 6:10-18  Teaches us that we don't wrestle with flesh and blood, but with spiritual forces of  wickedness; we are to put on the full armor of God; our offensive weapon in that list of armor is the "Sword of the Spirit", which is the Word of God.  I think too often we are not aware of the true power of coming into agreement with what our Lord has said through His word and in faith taking a hold of those promises.  When we, as redeemed Christians, speak them in response to oppression, we have taken authority over that oppression and it will leave. We shut the door to the negative thoughts and feelings and open the door to the positive power of God.

3. Pray the blood of Jesus over your mind and body
In Exodus, the blood of the lamb was sprinkled over the door posts of the house to protect the children of Israel from the curse that was about to befall Egypt. The blood of the lamb  was also sprinkled as  an offering for atonement for sins.  The blood of our Lord Jesus was given on our behalf, as an offering for our sins and as an offering against the curse of a fallen earth. Revelation 12:11 tells us that in the last days those who over came, overcame by the blood of the lamb and the word of their testimony.  Often times Steve and I will have communion together when we are experiencing a struggle(We do this for other reasons as well). Corinthians  tells us when we take communion we proclaim the Lords death (his blood his resurrection) and the power of it until He comes.  This is a testimony of the authority our Lord has given us over darkness, and is a battle He won for us at the price of His life and blood.

4. Resist
James 4:7 says to resist the devil and he will flee from you.  Quite often when I have discouraging thoughts or am bombarded with feelings of fear, rejection or insignificance, I simply say "Satan I resist you in the name of Jesus" and those things will lift.

5. Stand Firm....on the promises of God
Ephesians 6 says..." after having done everything to stand, stand... " I have had times in my life when I have prayed and fought in some very, very difficult battles, and at that moment it didn't appear as if the Lord had heard; everything seemed to get worse; but I remember encouraging myself in the Lord and saying even though I can't understand what is going on, I know the Lord is faithful.  I continued to stand and speak of the Lords faithfulness. He loves when we do that, and in those moments, our faith is released and the power of God is released also.  I can look back on those times now and be in awe at how faithful our Father is.  Those moments when I could have allowed myself to think that I had been forsaken, or forgotten by God were moments  He was actually at work, but the fruit of it had not manifested yet.  In  His time we have always been able to see the victory and joy He has for us.