31 July 2011

Word Obsessed

Sorry folks, no book review this weekend. Just a re-blog of something that I got a kick out of. I found it here. So, for all you other word obsessed folks out there:

How to do this:
1. Paint your nails any colour you’d like & LET THEM DRY.
2. You will need rubbing alcohol & newspaper
3. Cut out a little section of the newspaper & place it on your nail
4. Put rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball and dab it over the newspaper

If you try this - I want to know about it.

29 July 2011

Yummy Summer Drinks Series - Mocktails Part 2

Happy Thursday everyone! I hope you enjoyed Mocktails Part 1. I would love to hear if you tried any of the drinks and how you liked them, or what you did to change them to your tastes. Today is the last of the mocktails. Starting next week I will be talking about smoothies and shakes (healthy!).


1 cup crushed ice
3 fluid oz. peach nectar
2 fluid oz. cranberry juice cocktail
1/2 oz. grenadine syrup (I used my homemade raspberry simple syrup)
1 fluid oz. lemon flavored soda
lime wedge or curl

Fill a shaker or lidded container with ice. Pour in peach nectar, cranberry juice and syrup. Strain into a glass and top with lemon soda (personally, this drink is too sweet for me and I like to top with sparkling water or leave out the syrup). Garnish with lime. Serves 1.

Raspberry-Lime Rickey

1 lime, quartered
8 oz. sparkling water
1.5 oz. raspberry simple syrup

Fill a glass with ice. Squeeze each of the lime wedges into the glass and drop in. Fill glass nearly to the top with sparkling water and top with raspberry syrup. Delicious and not too sweet. Serves 1.

Mock Champagne

4 cups sparkling water, chilled
4 cups ginger ale, chilled
3 cups white grape juice, unsweetened

Mix together and serve. Serves 10

Citrus Cooler

2 cups orange-pineapple juice
1 cup limeade
4 cups ginger ale, chilled
Orange or lemon slices for garnish

Combine juice, limeade and ginger ale in a large pitcher. Stir. Garnish with lemon or orange slices. Serves 6.

Exotic Fruit Drinks 

1 cup each of assorted fruit juices, kept separate
Sparkling water
Ice cube trays in various shapes

Pour juice into ice cube trays and freeze. For the photo above, I used pomegranate juice. When completely frozen, place in a glass - all the same flavor ice cubes, or mixing different flavors. Pour sparkling water over all.

You may also enjoy:

27 July 2011

Yummy Summer Drinks Series - Mocktails Part 1

Some of you may feel that it's skirting the edge a bit to be making "mocktails" with a 12 year old. Maybe so. We really had a good time though. My floor is also really, really sticky. Why? I was making mocktails with a 12 year old. It doesn't help at all that he's grown about 3 inches and gained 22 lbs since December. "Hey Mom, I'll bring that drink over to the table. Oops. I spilled a little. Oops, I spilled some more." Was heard more than once. But hey, I've got a mop and I know how to use it.

That's enough chit-chat though, right? On to the recipes.


I went with frozen here because it's hot outside, and we like them. 

Spicy Grapefruit Margarita (adapted from bon apetit)

1 habanero chile, halved with seeds removed (if you haven't worked with hot chiles, use caution)
Kosher salt
6 cups fresh pink grapefruit juice (I used light grapefruit juice)
ice cubes

Steep habanero chile in grapefruit juice 1-2 hours, depending on how spicy you want it. Remove chile and pour grapefruit juice into blender filled with ice cubes, pouring juice to level of ice cubes. In my blender, that's ice to about the 4 cup mark. I made this margarita in two 3-cup batches.
Serve in frosted glasses, garnish as desired.

Lime Margarita

Kosher salt or salt/sugar mixture to rim the glasses
1/2 lime, cut in wedges, or desired garnish
6 oz can frozen limeade concentrate
1/4 cup orange juice
4 cups ice cubes

Frost glasses, if desired. In blender, blend the limeade, orange juice and ice cubes until well blended and ice cubes are crushed. Pour into glasses, garnish as desired.

Strawberry Margarita

6 oz can  frozen limeade concentrate
1 1/2 cups sliced strawberries
2 Tbsp. strawberry simple syrup
3 cups water
3/4 cup orange juice
4 cups ice cubes
1 liter lemon-lime soda pop, chilled

Combine limeade, strawberries, simple syrup, water and ice cubes in blender. Blend until ice is  completely crushed. Freeze in a 2 quart container to use later. To serve immediately, pour 2/3 cup slush into each glass and top off with 1/3 cup soda. Stir, garnish and serve. 

You may also enjoy:

26 July 2011

Zucchini Pasta

Sorry about the photo. It seems like it's always raining lately when I need to take a picture. We had this dish for dinner on Friday night. My 12 year old son made it using zucchini from our garden. I have two plants and I am averaging about 5 zucchini a day right now. Yum!

Zucchini Pasta from Allrecipes
1 pound rotini pasta
5 small zucchini, sliced
1/3 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente. Drain and reserve.
Fill a medium sauce pan with lightly salted water. Add zucchini and bring to a boil; boil for 10 minutes or until tender.
In a large skillet, saute garlic in oil and hot pepper flakes. Add drained zucchini and parsley, then mix all together and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Toss with pasta; then add cheese and salt and pepper to taste, and serve. 

*A few things I would do differently:
  1. Way less olive oil. I think it is meant to act as a bit of a dressing, but it was way, way too much for our palates.
  2. I would never cook zucchini for 10 minutes, ever. I would probably cook it "al dente" like the pasta.
  3. I would have looked harder for the fresh Parmesan in the back of the fridge. This is a simple recipe and fresh Parmesan would have been lovely.

That said, it was delicious, and I didn't have to make it, so I'm really not complaining.

24 July 2011

Weekend Book Review - Smoky the Cowhorse

If you like horse stories, you will enjoy this book very much. It is the Newbery Award winner from 1927. The story follows the life of a range pony from birth to his training as a cowhorse, then how he is stolen, becomes a rodeo bronc and later is found again by the cowboy who loves him.

22 July 2011

Yummy Summer Drinks Series - Presentation

Today, I'm going to talk a little bit about decorating those yummy summer drinks.

Presentation is everything, right? It's the reason someone will choose to pick up that drink and give it a try. I'm betting that a study would show (probably has shown) that most people enjoy their food more if it looks pretty. 

There are so many ways to garnish a drink. I'm going to share a few that we thought up. If you are so inclined, please leave a comment and share any garnishing ideas you may have.
  • Frosting the glass. This is always pretty, and it's easy. I use a mixture of 1/3 cup sugar and 1 Tbsp. of kosher salt. I like a little salt kick with my drink. Take the glass you're going to use and get the rim wet. You can dip it in water, or, like me, rub a lemon wedge around the edge of the glass. Then, dip it in the sugar/salt mixture.

  • Fruit on a toothpick or skewer - pick a fruit that complements your drink in both flavor and color. 

  • Citrus twists or curls are pretty- especially when they don't uncurl and fall in the drink before you take the photo...
  • Flavored or fruited ice cubes - I use juice. Pictured are stars made of pomegranate juice and stirring sticks made of grapefruit juice. I got the trays at IKEA several years ago. 

  •  Fruit, mint leaves or citrus peel frozen into ice cubes - very pretty

  • Lemon or lime wedges

  • Mint leaves or edible flowers

I hope you found something fun to try! Join us on Tuesday for mocktails!

Summer drinks - earlier posts


20 July 2011

Yummy Summer Drinks - Lemony Deliciousness


Homemade Lemonade 

Simple Syrup
10-12 lemons - juiced. Should yield about 2 1/2 cups lemon juice

Make your simple syrup and cool. Add lemon juice through strainer. Taste it. If you like it this sweet, cool and chug away. If it's too sweet for you (like it is for me), then add water to taste.

Minty Lemonade Slush 
you will notice that this recipe is very similar to the one you will find on Fuzz Food
That's because it's where I got it...it's kind of like a slushy mint julep.

Fresh Mint Leaves

Fill your blender about 3/4 full with ice
Add lemonade to ice level.
Add 3 fresh mint leaves.
Blend it until ice cubes are completely crushed.
Garnish with mint leaves, serve, and enjoy! Perfect for a sunny day.


Pomegranate Lemonade

32 oz. pure pomegranate juice. 
Chill and serve. Delicious. 
Again, you can add water to dilute to taste.

Coming Thursday: Presentation (serving, garnishes, frosting glasses) 

If you get a chance to try these - comment and let me know what you think!

19 July 2011

Taking Care of the Homesteader

The homesteader needs a little TLC. I've been taking care of everyone but me, and while that's my job and I love it, it's becoming clear that I could use a little me time. What does that look like in my world?


It looks like this:

and this (Well, not really this. The "after" of this).

Right now, Etsy is having its annual Christmas in July event. I am participating. Over the weekend, I sold 10 nightgowns! Saturday, when I went to my studio/guest bedroom to start working on them, this is what I found: the result of having company come - which was welcome - and not taking care of things properly. My own fault.

Do you ever get feeling a little crazy? I do. Usually what makes me crazy is clutter. Since it is something that makes me crazy, I am not sure how I manage to let it get to the place where it does make me crazy, except that there are four other people in the house, apparently dedicated to making me crazy. That said, I can't really blame my current craziness on them. 

This week, I am going to fix that mess in my sewing closet. As a result, I am also fixing this:

15 years worth of craft/knitting/decorating magazines. Who needs them? I haven't looked at them in ages. I am pulling out the patterns I have used and liked and getting rid of the rest. I'm about half way there. Can you tell? Didn't think so, but it's true.

Back to that photo of P90X, I just started it again last week, and I'm really not ready to talk about it in a civilized way, except to say that I am getting exercise, and that's something to feel good about.

I am looking forward to eating some of this in a few days:

That's taking care of me too.

17 July 2011

Weekend Book Review - Flotsam


This is a marvelous picture book, and it won the 2007 Caldecott medal. 

We all enjoyed it very much. It's whimsical fun and the pictures are wonderful.


15 July 2011

Yummy Summer Drinks Series - Simple Syrup

Simple syrup is the most useful thing. It is mostly used in beverages, but can also be used to keep a cake moist and delicious. Why use it? Well, sugar and water don't mix well in cold drinks. To get a really smooth clear drink, the water and sugar need to be heated so that the sugar completely dissolves. It's really convenient as well, if you're making a large number of drinks.

Simple syrup is really, really easy to make. It is exactly 1 part water to 1 part sugar. Here's the basic recipe I use:

2 1/2 cups water
2 1/2 cups sugar

Bring water and sugar to a boil over medium high heat. Stir to dissolve sugar. Boil 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Use in your favorite drink mix, or refrigerate until needed. Depending on the drinks you are making, you can soak things (vanilla bean, lemon or lime slices, cinnamon) in the syrup as it cools. Once the syrup is at room temperature, remove the items you were soaking before refrigerating your simple syrup.

Next Tuesday, I will be posting a series of lemonade recipes. The lemonade is made with this simple syrup. Make sure and stop by!

14 July 2011

Christmas in July!

Starting tomorrow, Etsy will be holding its annual Christmas in July event. So many shops, so many wonderful things on sale. 

The Etsymom Team is participating! 

To shop Etsymom and Christmas in July, just search for shops tagged Etsymom and Christmas in July (or CIJ).

Look for treasuries featuring Etsymom team members having sales. 

Get some of that Christmas shopping done early!

13 July 2011

Introducing the Yummy Summer Drinks Series!

I am really excited for a new series I am doing - and guest posting at Fuzz Food - on Yummy Summer Drinks! When you get a chance, run on over there and check out her blog. Great recipes, and a little something she calls meal plan Mondays. Sometimes (shhh, don't tell) I just go get my meal plan for the week over there...

Let me tell you where I got the idea for this series. My husband and I just celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary. I know. Wow, right? I looked it up. It's the porcelain anniversary. Huh. It turns out that in my world, the 18th anniversary is the BlendTec Anniversary. Who knew? It's a nice change from the years (5, 10, 14) that were "baby" anniversaries. That said, I am expecting somewhat bigger things for year 20. Just saying. And not a baby.

I really like this machine. We have made tortilla soup, ice cream (with spinach in it) and many, many smoothies. It really does blend just like they say it does.

I thought it would be really fun to make a bunch of different summery drinks, mostly using the BlendTec, but sometimes not, and share them with you here. Some of them will be sweet (lemonade), some will be thick (smoothies) and some will be whole juice (think V-fusion). So join us here or over at Fuzz Food every Tuesday and Thursday for the next 4 weeks or so for some Yummy (non-alcoholic) Summer Drinks!

Coming Thursday: Simple Syrup

12 July 2011

Homesteading Vacation

We recently spent a few days at my in-law's old rock house in Central Utah. I love it there. It's quiet. We spent time with family, watered, hung clothes on the line, and dreamed of the apricots and apples on the trees that will be ours to bottle in just a few months. It's a perfect place for the kids. Lots of room to run, and their own bedroom just chock full of toys that Grandma has gathered for them to enjoy when they visit. And, as a special bonus for me, I get to use the clothesline!



10 July 2011

Weekend Book Review - The Scarlet Pimpernel

A mysterious Englishman helps French aristocrats escape France during the Revolution. Can you figure out who he is? Will he succeed? Published in 1905, it is said to be a forerunner to the "masked avenger" genre (think Zorro) and is a fast paced, entertaining read. After you've read this, you may enjoy the movie with Jane Seymour and Anthony Edwards.

09 July 2011

4th of July Buttermilk Pie

Have you ever had buttermilk pie? It is so yummy! It's basically a custard pie made with buttermilk instead of milk. I got the recipe on Simply Recipes and thought it would be a fun addition to our 4th of July BBQ.
It was - and my son ate the last piece for breakfast the next morning. Because it's got eggs in it.
Here's the recipe, in case you don't feel like going over to Simply Recipes:

Fourth of July Buttermilk Pie


4 eggs
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 Tbsp flour
1/4 cup butter, melted (half a stick)
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 unbaked 9-inch pie crust
1 cup cold, heavy whipping cream
20-30 raspberries (or half as many strawberries, halved)
A handful of blueberries

Preheat oven to 325°F. In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs, then beat in the sugar and lemon zest until well combined. Beat in the flour and melted butter. Beat in the vanilla and buttermilk.

Pour filling batter into an uncooked pie shell (frozen is fine). Bake at 325°F for approximately 50 minutes, or until the center of the custard has just set (can still be a little wiggly). Remove from oven and let cool. The custard may puff up a bit in the oven; it will deflate as it cools.

Whip the chilled cream until it holds stiff peaks. Once the pie has cooled to room temperature, spread the whipping cream over the top of the pie. Arrange the raspberries and blueberries in a decorative pattern on top of the whipping cream.

Serve immediately or chill until ready to serve.

Yield: Makes 8 serving pieces.

07 July 2011

A Tour of the American Southwest

We just spent a week seeing 4 National Parks (Arches, Canyonlands, Mesa Verde and Black Canyon of the Gunnison) a National Monument (Natural Bridges) a State Park (Dead Horse Point) and Four Corners. Here's a quick photo tour of our trip! Utah to Arizona to New Mexico and home to Colorado.


Upheaval Dome - Canyonlands

 Dead Horse Point State Park - amazing view

The true highlight for the kids, no kidding. Can you see the mouse foot hanging out of the mouth? Lizard eating lunch. The kids watched until it was all gone.

Natural Bridges - Owachoma Bridge

 View from Moki Dugway or Utah 261

Yes indeed. If you'd like to see more photos of that kind of fun...click here. Regardless of the signage, it is Moki. I promise.

Doing push ups in four states was the best thing about Four Corners. Other than that, it was underwhelming.

Cliff Palace - Mesa Verde 

Climbing out of Cliff Palace

Panning for gold at the Old One Hundred Mine in Silverton, CO. They give a great tour.

Last stop - Black Canyon of the Gunnison.

If you've never done it, I highly recommend the drive along highway 550 from Durango to Silverton and then to Montrose and then Highway 50 to Gunnison. Just in case you never make it to Switzerland, you're covered.