Sunday, November 25, 2012

First Book!!

well folks, after a week of really late nights, my first book is finally completed and even (self) published! yeah, it's a little blurry, but looky here....

  in case you can't read through the fog, i'll make it big and beautiful here for ya.... it says, "Advent: Remembering How Jesus Came and Will Come Again - 25 Daily Readings for Families to Share at Christmas Time." yup, that's what i wrote - 64 pages of stuff about Jesus and Christmas mixed with a heavy dose of scripture. i've been working on it off and on for about a year, and ya know what, y'all? i'm pretty proud of it. okay, really proud of it.

woo hoo! look at me, ma! i'm a writer!

i started this little book because i love the tradition of reading the nativity story during the Christmas season, but i wanted to be able to teach my own kids more of the whole story of why Jesus came on Christmas. i looked around for a book to read with them as we did our little advent "calendar" through december, but i couldn't find anything that i liked, so, the huz and i talked some theology, and my "Advent" book was born. and since kids like pictures, i doodled some of those in there too. so did eva actually, as you can see, on the front cover. so it was really nearly a whole family endeavor in some ways.

if you'd like to see a preview of the book or buy one for your family, you can find it here on in my own little book store! (how cool is that?!?)

here's the book's description:

   "Start a new family Christmas tradition with this great little book magnifying the glory of God's great plan of salvation through the sending of His Son, Jesus.

   This book is setup for daily reading, starting the first day of December, and going through Christmas day. Instead of focusing solely on the Nativity story, the author has sought to tell the bigger picture of God's redemption plan beginning in the Garden.

   Broken into five sections, (Why is Jesus Important? / He is Coming! / Meeting Baby Jesus / What is He Like? / What Happened to Him?) "Advent" begins with God's promise of salvation at The Fall of Adam and Eve, and ends with the Great Commission. Each day has a theme, scripture, and symbol to tell a different piece of the story of Jesus. Also woven in are pieces of Christmas tradition history (Candy Cane History / Evergreens Symbolism), as well as a section of Christmas carols to sing along with corresponding days.

   The author's own delightful little color illustrations are found on each page and are also included in the back to cut out for use with an advent calendar.

   From the author: I sincerely hope you and your family are benefitted by this book as you seek to make the Savior the center of your Christmas celebrations together."

Friday, October 12, 2012

Easy Ruffle Shorts in 10 Minutes

Y'all, i am NOT a short shorts kinda gal....mostly because Jesus told me I look cuter in longer shorts, but also because I'm half-ginger rather pale and freckly. As I like to say, with a hearty chuckle, "These thighs bless few eyes." Teehee. Anyway, if you're like me and prefer more length on your shorts, then you've probably noticed there are two options out there: Bermuda shorts (they hit right above the knee - a fine look, but limited.) or what I call "classic" shorts (you may know them as "Mom" shorts, a take-off from "Mom" jeans - high waisted, thick, rather roomy, and not typically fashion-conscious. An unfortunate few are still constructed with the use of elastic in the waist. Girls! That look does nothing good for your hiney! But I digress...) Classics shorts are at best bland and at worst the worst, but they do provide a "canvas" to work with as I did here...
Frustrated with the selection in the stores, in recent years I've taken to making my own shorts out of old wide-leg jeans, though those are getting harder to find with the whole skinny jean craze. This summer I just couldn't find any wide-legs, so I bought these "classic" shorts at the thrift shop for $2. Not bad, but they were a little wide and a little long. An easy way to fix both of these problems typically, is to simply roll them legs up a bit, but inspired by a trend of ruffly shorts on Polyvore, I decided to give these an added touch.

Some pins and fabric glue assited in the transformation, as you can see here. Note: It's really important to try them on with the lace pinned lik this so you can see what the final length will look like on your body. Just look at that smiling lace! So happy to be hangin' out with me. Teehee again, no?

And there they were! Tada! The whole thing took about 10min.
 Of course this look is so customizable for personal preferance. I was pretty happy with out they turned out, might try adding a touch of lace to my little girl's shorts too!
 So there you have it! My little...
Hope ya liked it!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Curry Crunch Chickpeas

lately i've been on the hunt for healthy snacks i can munch during my prized quiet "exercise hour"  in the afternoon. (okay... i'm not really working out, i'm couching-it watching man vs wild) well, thanks to pinterest, there are a lot of fresh ideas out there like this one: roasting chickpeas.
i'll admit, these didn't sound much good to me, but i went ahead and made them today, and i'm quite happy to report that not only were they super easy to make, but they were delightfully flavorful and satisfyingly crunchy. and hey! they're high in fiber and have some good protein to grow those muscles i'm working on. (yeah, right.) if you don't like curry or spicy, there are a lot of other variations out there that are worth a try, or you could make up your own version! i plan to test out chili lime and tex-mex next, but this flavor below will definately be made again. hope y'all like 'em!
Curry Roasted Chickpeas
Curry Roasted Chickpeas Using Canned Beans
(adapted from here)
Preparation time: 5 minute(s) | Cooking time: 50 minute(s)
Makes 6 servings.
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 tsp olive oil
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)

Preheat oven to 400F. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix well. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil and spread chickpeas out in a single layer. Bake, stirring every 15 minutes, until golden and crunchy (Test for crunchiness. They shouldn't feel stale in your mouth. Tf they do, add 5min more until they're right.). About 50 minutes worked for mine. Cool completely before serving.
Per serving: 3g Protein; 3g Fiber.
if y'all decide to go ahead and make 'em, let me know how ya like 'em! maybe i'll even send ya a baked chickpea veteran t-shirt? perhaps "bean there, done that" across the front? (i apologize for that.)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

quotable prints for etsy

you might recognize these paintings... i've gone and made 'em into quote prints

Monday, April 30, 2012

Homemade Cajun Baked Potato Chips

What is it about the good ol' fried tater that make the American heart sing? Oh yeah, it's the blessed flavor and texture and smell and everything that there is to love about fried potatoes! Most folks say frying food is bad for you, personally, I'm of a different mind, but we won't get into that here. The only complaint I have is that deep frying not easy to do right without buying something fancy. So I don't deep fry much, but a girl still needs her oily, salty, crunchiness fix a few times a month, okay, a week..and thus this recipe was born. It's not difficult, and if you have a mandolin slicer (like i does) it's really a total breeze. Give it a try yourself with some of those near-rotting potatoes lurking on the floor of the pantry growing their freaky eyes. (do it now. they're only going to get scarier down there.)

Homemade Baked Cajun Tater Chips
Makes approx. 4 servings.

3-4 small or 2 large taters (I use Yukon Gold because of the fantastic flavor)
Olive Oil (about 2-3 Tb)
Seasonings of your choosing (I used salt, pepper, and of course, Cajun seasoning)

Preheat oven to 400°. Using half your oil, grease a foil-lined cookie sheet – be generous or these babies will stick. Wash potatoes, and slice ‘em in half.  Grab your mandolin slicer (gosh, I love that contraption) 

and set it for ¼ inch or use a chef’s knife…and make chips. Lay chips in a single layer on the greased sheet. Brush the rest of the oil on the sliced chips and sprinkle with seasonings, salt, and pepper. Slide ‘em into the oven to bake for 15-18min or until the outer edge chips are browning slightly. Remove from oven and let ‘em sit for a moment to finish crisping. (If you move them too soon they can rip.) Scoop ‘em off the foil and place ‘em on a paper towel to soak up excess oil before serving. Serve immediately with Virginia's own Dominion root beer for most enjoyment!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

To Make: Homemade Yogurt Pretzels

UPDATE: As several of you have posted in the comments, and as I myself experienced when I did make them, these puppies go stale FAST. If anybody finds a way around this, let me know! Also, some of you put the wire rack in the oven without the cookie sheet under it, and all I have to say to that is... uh, don't forget the cookie sheet!

sumpthing i'm dying to try is making yo-go pretzels. i have sweet (punny!) childhood memories of my mom loving to eat and lovingly sharing little bags of these goodies we would buy from the sweet shop at the mall. the ones i find at the store don't taste as good as those from my yesteryears tho, so i've wanted to try my hand at making this snacky to share with my own cubs. plus, as you've recently read, i'm diggin' whippin' up my own homemade yogurt these days, so we have it on hand often! and have i mentioned that that stuff is the best yo-go i've ever tasted??? yerrrrmz!!! okay, focus on the food at hand. 

below is the recipe i plan to try with a barrel of pretzel sticks i got last week. (also bought because of happy memories, but now they're going to go stale because i like the idea of them more than the actuality. "emotional purchasing much, Em?" yup.) recipe via a bunch of places on the web. really. it's the same recipe on like nine sites....

Yogurt Pretzels

10 dozen small pretzels
2 cups yogurt
5 cups confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 250°F.
In a large mixing bowl, mix the confectioners sugar into the yogurt, one cup at a time with a hand blender.
Using tongs, dip the pretzels, one at a time, into the frosting and place them on a wire cooling rack with a cookie sheet under the rack to catch the excess frosting that will drip.
Once all pretzels are coated, turn oven off and place the wire rack on the cookie sheet in the oven, leaving the oven door slightly open. The excess heat will help the frosting dry without leaving the pretzels soggy.
Allow frosting to harden for 3-4 hours, remove from oven, and store pretzels in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

De-lish Homemade Yogurt in the Crockpot

yermz. that's our family word for yummy, and that's how my afternoon snack tastes ... right... now. i confess i had my doubts about how well homemade yogurt would taste, but y'all, lemme tell ya, iz gooood. at least my recipe is (cute face), which is why i decided to share it with ya. but better than the flavor, truthfully, is how EASY it is to make. don't "bleeve" me? (as my 4yr old says) try it for yo' self....
Photo from

Easy Crockpot Yogurt
Makes about 4 cups

  • 8 Cups Milk (any kind)
  • ½ cup plain or vanilla yogurt (any kind with live cultures, or use left over homemade yogurt)
  • ½ cup powdered milk (this is optional, use for thicker yogurt)
  • ½ cup honey
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 TB vanilla extract

Pour milk into crockpot and heat on low for 2 ½ hrs. When time is up, turn off pot and unplug it. Allow warm milk to sit covered for 3hrs to allow the temp to drop some. After that, remove 1 cup of warm milk and pour it into a medium bowl. Add powdered milk, honey, sugar, and vanilla and whisk until well combined. Pour sweetened mixture back into crockpot and whisk well to blend. Put the lid on, and wrap the unplugged pot in a thick towel covering the sides and top to insulate it. Allow the yogurt mixture to sit like that for at least 8 hrs or over night. When it’s done the yogurt is ready to eat, but it may be runnier that you like. You can strain it to thicken it.


To strain it, take a colander, line it with a white coffee filter or cheese cloth (or be cool like me and use one of those thin Ikea towels), and place it over a bowl. Then ladle your yogurt into the strainer and place the bowl/strainer combo into the fridge where your yogurt can cool. After several hours, the watery whey will strain out of the yogurt, leaving it nice and thick. Scrape the yogurt out of the coffee filter and into a container. If you want Greek style, dump it back into the strainer with a fresh filter and strain it again. Now save that whey (watery stuff), y'all! Use it in baking or smoothies in place of milk or buttermilk - it will add great nutrition without changing the flavor.

Yogurt will keep for 2 weeks. Whey keeps for 6 months in a sealed container. 

recipe adapted from alicia's method.

Monday, April 2, 2012

this month's canvases

this one is part 2 of a four foot tri-paneled commission for a girlfriend, and it was quite a handful. it takes a lot of work to make something look this thrown together. acrylics, water, paper towels bits, and house paint on canvas

this primary colored piece is huge. it's almost as big as me. i did this one just for fun one afternoon and i think it looks just like fun. adam says the more he looks at it, the more he likes it. when i took it down from the wall in our bathroom where it was hanging (too moist in there), he said, "no! don't take my happiness!" acrylics on canvas

this is an imagined, mid-western landscape from a daydream (hence the fish-eye styled framing). the only "west" i've visited is colorado, but i imagine that nevada or new mexico somewhere look like this. anyone been there? acrylics on canvas

aaaaaaaaaaand that's all for now. 

Friday, March 30, 2012

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Overhead Light Re-Do

everyone has at least one of these in their house, right? right? oh, please don't tell me i'm the only one...  actually, i've got TWO. ugh. yeah, i'm not a fan of this brass 'n glass style from the early '90s, plus they were clashing with my rich oiled-black hardware and old-world rustic light fixtures that we installed all over the house when we re-did the place three years ago. something needed to be done, and done cheaply.

i scoured thrift stores and discovered this breath-taking antique pendant that i was able to take apart and use in place of the other globe. a REAL score for $10!! (that black ceiling collar used to be the brass one that went with the ugly globe, see below for it's transformation)

so what happened to the other one? well, i couldn't find another stunning antique globe, so i came up with another solution using stuff i had layin' around. employing a can of matte off-white and a can of satin black spray paints, this globe got the tszuj-ing (pronounced "jooj-ing") it needed. tada!

it has a softer glow now and a 20's vintage train station vibe that fits with the rest of Campbellstown nicely. it blends in with it's beauty, rather than sticking out like a sore thumb... that you hurt in the 90's. and it was so easy to do!

more details? mkay, here's the break-down.

1. turn off the power (at the breaker) to your fixture. (don't come whinin' to me 'cuz you got yourself killed while tszuj-ing.)

2. remove glass globe, carefully, and shake out the bugs. (oh you know they're in there. you've been lookin' at 'em for years... again, i can't be the only one.)

3. clean and dry globe thoroughly.

4. remove light bulb, then detach brass fixture collar from ceiling and disconnect from power. clean collar and sand off any old paint. stuff light bulb hole with tissue to keep paint out.

5. using 3-4 thin coats, spray-paint outside of globe with white paint, allowing time to dry between coats.

6. do the same to the fixture collar using the black paint, but avoid getting paint into light bulb socket. also, spray the screws and hardware if they show.

7. after all has dried, reassemble the fixture collar and (carefully) test the power. if all is well, reattach the newly-frosted globe and enjoy that "vintage" glow!

note: this method would also work for other fixtures like those flush-mount dome type....

Zoomed: Portfolio Brass Ceiling Flush Mount Zoomed: Sea Gull Lighting Brass Ceiling Flush Mount 

happy tszju-ing, y'all!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Curly Cabbage and Sausage Soup

At my house we're on the verge of everyone being sick again. The Huz is ailin', the boy is ailin', the girl is an emotional mess so she'll prolly be sick tomorrow...SO I whipped up some healing soup for supper. Everyone knows chicken broth is good for ya, but did y'all know that cabbage has both antibacterial and antiviral properties? It can also help allergy sufferers and contains other goodies of your body. Aaaaand cabbage is cheap, y'all. Hooray for cheap. So yeah, tonight I fixed this tasty simmer...

It was light, but flavorful and comforting. A definite make-again. Good and, as I said before, good for what ails you. Happy tummy and happy healthiness to ya, friends.

Healing Curly Cabbage and Sausage Soup  

Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 45 Minutes
Ready In: 1 hourish
Servings: 8 +

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4 links natural chicken sausage, sliced (we like the spicey flavor)
2 quarts beef or chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
1/2 head cabbage, cored and chopped into strips
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained and rinsed
2 tsp lemon juice
¼ cup parmesan cheese

1. In a stockpot, heat oil over medium heat. Add in onion, garlic, and sliced sausage; cook until onion is transparent and sausage bites are browning, about 5-8 minutes.
2. Stir in broth, salt, pepper. Bring to a boil, then dump in the cabbage. Simmer about 5 minutes.
3. Stir in tomatoes. Return to a boil, then simmer 15 to 30 minutes, stirring often.
4. Add in lemon juice and cheese and serve with crusty bread with honey butter. Yummz. Freezes well.

Alternate method: Cook ground sausage in stockpot until mostly done. Add onion and garlic to meat and cook until onion is soft and sausage is done. Continue with recipe at step 2.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Makin' Your Own Laundry Soap - Why and How

while i wouldn't label myself "crunchy" (i don't care a whole lot about the environment) or a true "naturalist" (i still regularly delight in eating oreos), i would say i "lean green" when it comes to food and cleaning 'round here. it's not a conviction, or something that overrules the budget, but if i can find a deal on a healthier product or make more things from scratch or use what i have so i don't have to buy something else, i'm all about dat.
like this...
making your own laundry soap isn't a new idea, lotsa people do it. i've been making mine for a while now, and it's not complicated, it cleans well, and is really worth it if you are looking for a cheaper version of a "natural" laundry soap. so if you're trying to save money, my recipe is not cheapest MYO recipe out there (if you want one that is, this one claims to be), but it is still pretty cheap. i make my own with natural bar soap because i'd like to have less exposure to toxic/harsh stuff for me and my kiddos. if you're game to try it, the whole process takes me just 20min and it makes about 50 loads worth at about $0.10 per load.
here's whatcha do:
buy one box of each of these... 20 mule borax and a&h washing soda (NOT baking soda)...

...grab a bar of dr. bronner's lavendar castile soap...

...grate that bar into a gallon of water getting hot on the stove...

... stir as it dissolves completely... (yeah, that's my kid's hand not mine, fyi)

  ... carefully pour that hot soap-water into a 5 gallon bucket (with lid) in the tub and add 1.5 cups of borax and 1.5 cups of washing soda. fill bucket to 5gal mark with hot water, and stir it up, baby.

put the lid on and keep it in laundry room. let it sit for 24 hours. it may get lumpy, but just use an old whisk and break up the chunks if they bother you. i still use separate spot-treating gel on my stains, this stuff doesn't work that way.
to use: start your load with hot water (only to activate the soap for the beginning). use a 1 cup measuring cup and scoop a bit less than one cup per laundry load. let it mix with the hot water for a minute, then change the water temp to your desire for your load and add in your clothes. PLEASE NOTE: if you add your clothes first, it will not mix in well... at all. actually this method helps most laundry soaps to work most effectively. so remember: SOAP FIRST into the water, then clothes. mkay?
  • i still use spot-treating stuff for stains, this soap won't work like that.
  • i don't have a HE washer, but many of the recipes online like this one claim it is completely safe to use with them because it's low-suds. i don't know either way, so use caution there, i guess.
  • like soft clothes? add a cup of white vinegar to each load instead of using fabric softener. it gives extra freshness, especially if you’re like me and forget to get those wet clothes into the dryer until the next day... gulp. (helpful household hint: if you do forget your laundry load until the next day (or so) and it does stink, you don't need to rewash them with soap, just loosen up the clothes, add a cup of white vinegar, and wash away. this actually works BETTER than soap for getting rid of that smell.)

Friday, February 3, 2012

Mac N Cheese "Muffins"

today was a family "holiday" of sorts - our "Freaky Feastings" day. check it out on Campbellstown if you're a member! one of the yummiest things we tried were these babies:
it's a recipe adapted from a couple other ones to fit our supplies (what's in the fridge) and our demands (what we like). another emily made a healthier version of these here, but if you're like me, you're not eatin' mac n cheese for your health! my unhealthy recipe, which the crew approved, goes thusly...
Mac n Cheese Muffins
4 c cooked macaroni
1 T butter
1 T flour
1 c milk
6 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
¼ cup bacon bits
½ cup frozen sweet corn or peas
1 egg
1 egg white
Garlic salt & pepper to taste
Extra shredded cheddar for topping (optional)
Diced chives for topping (optional)

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 400. Grease your 12-cup muffin, set aside.
  2. In a sauce pot, melt the butter on medium heat. Add the flour, mixing it into the butter until it thickens. Add the milk and turn up the heat, but don’t let it boil. Add the cheese and mix until melted into sauce.
  3. Remove the cheese sauce from heat and whisk in the egg and egg white (which hold everything together).
  4. In a big bowl, mix the pasta, cheese sauce, bacon, corn, salt and pepper together.
  5. Spoon into muffin cups.
  6. Top with extra cheese and diced chives, if desired.
  7. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the tops brown a bit. Let cool 5 minutes before popping them out of the muffin pan, otherwise they’ll fall apart.

Yields 12 muffins

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Latest Strokes

over december i've been painting a lot. i'm still not much good at it, but i'm learning and having fun, so yay me. : ) this one i made for my father-in-law for christmas. i'm not in love with this one, but it made him happy, so it was worth it.

this is actually an old one i dug up recently. painted a silhouette on my diaper bag.

my mama loves red, so...

and i made this wash-style for an online art initiative i'm enrolled in that puts up a new project each month to keep us "part-time artists" building our portfolios. check it out and join in with the Racquet here. this past month's posted project idea was to communicate the relationship between opposites. i chose the opposites light and dark, and fear and calm and tried to create those feelings in the water and woods of this piece.