Tuesday, July 31, 2012

ANT PROBLEM NO MORE!

One of the best tips I found earlier this year was a method to get rid of ants. It came from Food.com.

Fortunately I have never really had much of a problem with ants.  In California, they came out of the cracks like crazy if you watered the concrete outside, but they rarely made for the house.  

After moving to Missouri, we did have the uninvited guests but it seemed like they were just always passing through.  I do try to leave my kitchen clean of food crumbs and maybe that was why.  I would get out the baby powder and sprinkle it at the point of entry into the house and that would stop them.  I learned this trick in California when I was teaching school and we couldn't use anything toxic to get rid of them around the school.  That actually works!

But this spring, they returned uninvited again but decided to stay for a prolonged visit.  I saw this tip on Pinterest and decided I would give it a try.  I guess everyone else was trying it also, because everywhere I went trying to find boric acid, they were out.  Finally I found and bought the last bottle at a K-Mart.

The recipe only requires three things...

  1. 1  cup sugar
  2. 3  Tablespoons of boric acid
  3. 3  cups warm water 
Directions:   

          Mix the boric acid and sugar well.

          Add the warm water slowly, constantly stirring so it won't be lumpy.

         Store in a jar or container with lid.


I know it isn't anything fancy, but when I mixed it up this old plastic container was all I could find.  I didn't have a jar big enough.  A quart jar would probably work really well and take up less room than this container does.  Anyway this does the trick.

 

To use the mixture, you need a cotton ball and the top of a medicine or vitamin bottle.
 






















 
When you have a problem and are ready to use it , put a cotton ball into the cap of a medicine or vitamin bottle. With a spoon, fill the cap to saturate the cotton.  It took quite a bit to me.  I continued doing this til I could see the liquid around the edges.  Place where you want it; make several if you need them in several places.  

NOTE:  I only placed mine on the counter below the window near the kitchen sink. All I had to do was move it over to the wall.  I also didn't have to worry about our cat, Miss Sara with it up there.  I don't think I would have them in other places because of her.  


I also dripped a little around the base of the lid so the ants could find it better.


It took a couple of days for the ants to be attracted to it.  I kept making sure I had plenty of the liquid so if I couldn't see the liquid around the inside top of the cap, I would add another little bit. I don't know how many times I checked on it each day waiting to see the ants actually go to it.  I watched the ants go around it til it about drove me crazy.  Then on the second day I pushed the cap over against the wall so that when the ants came down the wall they would go right to it.  My grandmother would have told me " a watch-pot never boils" but I couldn't help it.


Before I knew it, the ants started venturing up on the cotton ball and soon it  was covered with ants.  I resisted the urge to wipe away the ants because the source said they would drink, and drink, and drink and then take it back to their nest and share it and die.  



I took this picture early on.  Before it was over, there were three or four times this many on it.


Well, all I can say is that after 3 or 4 days, I had no more ants.  


They have been back once when some crumbs didn't get washed down the drain in the sink last week.  I immediately got a cap and cotton ball out and saturated the cotton ball and placed it in the same place as before.  A few went to in within hours, and the next morning they were all gone.  I'm not sure why this time it worked quicker and they didn't cover it all up like before.  Maybe word got out and they just all scrammed.  I don't care, the good news is I haven't seen any more.
 




Monday, July 30, 2012

3 - 2 - 1 MICROWAVE "MUG" CAKE

I love all the recipes I am getting from friends since I started this blog.  3 - 2 - 1 Microwave Cake has been around, but I never tried it until today.  

My friend, Carol, shared this recipe with me the other day and insisted I try it.  I had an Angel Food cake mix that I had bought for some other recipe I wanted to try and, of course, I had a sugar-free Devil's Food cake mix. She said she had tried other flavor cake mixes but did like to use the sugar free ones. So far the only two flavors of sugar free cake mixes I have found are Pillsbury Devil's Food and Yellow cake mixes.  They also make a sugar-free brownie mix that I can highly recommend. 

So this morning after making a batch of WHOLE GRAIN GRANOLA BARS, I decided to try Carol's recipe. (I made the granola bars this morning using a cup of chopped dates instead of the dried cranberries.)  As I said earlier, I have seen the recipe, but didn't have much faith in it being any good.  Well, I'm a believer now!  It was so light almost "sponge-like".  Guess that is the Angel Food cake mix at work.  


All you need to make the mix is any flavor of cake mix (I used a Pillsbury Sugar-Free Devil's Food ) and an Angel Food cake mix.  You also have to have something to store the mix in.  I used a gallon Ziplock Freezer bag.  Didn't have a storage bag or I would have used it.  

Empty both cake mixes into the bag (or whatever container you are going to use) and mix them together.  I labeled the bag so my husband would know what it was if he saw it in the pantry.  I didn't include the directions on the bag but I will.  That way my husband can make one any time he wants to.



It is called 3 - 2 - 1 because when you get ready to make a cake, you measure 3 level tablespoons of the mix and put in a mug.  Add 2  tablespoons of cold water and stir well.  It will look frothy.  Cook on high in the microwave for 1 minute. 


This is what it looked like when I took it out.







I have to tell you, I wasn't impressed.






Then I took a bite.













And became a believer! 

I had added a tablespoon of chopped pecans before I added the water.  It was so good.  I couldn't help but think how good some fresh sliced strawberries would taste with it.  Or any fresh fruit.  

I am sorry it has taken me so long to finally give this recipe a try.  I love that you can store the mix for probably as long as you want to.  I also love that it is a controlled portion and just hits the spot when I just want a little sweet.

If you are like me and have seen this recipe but never tried it.....YOU MUST!  If you are trying to control your sweets but don't want to completely give them up, THIS IS FOR YOU!

I'm anxious to hear if you give it a try and which flavor of cake mix you use and any "extra" you added.

AND CAROL, THANKS FOR INSISTING I TRY THISNow when are you going to give me that black bean brownie recipe you keep telling me about?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

CHILD'S DENIM SKIRT FROM A PAIR OF JEANS


I have had so much fun with a pair of jeans I bought to make an apron for one of my granddaughters.   I made the apron from the "back side" of the jeans and added a ruffle on the bottom.  You can check out how I did it HERE.  



Here's what it looked like.
















I couldn't help but notice the cute butterfly designs also on the legs below the knee.  I knew I had to make something from them, too.  I wanted to get all of the design and hoped it would be wide enough when I cut the legs open.  Because the legs were slightly flared, it worked out perfectly.  

Here is how I made the simple A-Line Skirt:

The first thing I did was cut the legs off 2 inches above the top of the design.


Then I cut the leg open at the inside seam as closely as I could. I held the "seam of the jeans" to one side with my fingers and cut on the other side.



Once I had both legs cut open.  I cut the "seam of the leg" off the two pieces
once again as closely as I could.


At the hem of the jeans, the bulk was quite thick with the seam inside the hem.  With my seam ripper, I carefully took out just enough stitches to be able to open the hem (1) and be able to cut out the bulk. (2) When I sewed the seam on this leg together, I sewed through the open hem so I didn't have to worry about the hem coming out later.  (I took picture #1 before I had cut away the "seam of the leg" as you can see it above the hem)


Opening the two pieces out, I laid them right sides together and pinned down the raw edges.


After I sewed the sides of the skirt together with a 3/8 inch seam (I wanted to have as much of the leg as possible for the skirt) I finished the edges of the seam with an overcast stitch my Janome sewing machine will do sewing the raw edges together with the stitch.


I wanted the seam to lay flat at the hem, so I ironed the seam to one side and then sewed the seam down just in the hem with a few stitches.


To reduce bulk since this is denim, I decide to just finish the top edge with the same overcasting stitch. (1)  To make the casing for the waist, I turned the raw edge down 1 inch and pinned in place. (2)  Remember I cut the leg off 2 inches above the top of the design.



I wanted to make the casing 3/4 inches wide so I cut a piece of blue painter's tape and marked where this was on the arm of my machine.


 Backstitching at the beginning and the end, I made the casing for the waist leaving about and inch and a half open to insert the 1/2 inch non-roll elastic.  I cut the elastic a half inch longer than my granddaugther's waist measurement.  I stuck a LARGE safety pin in one end of the elastic and worked the elastic through the casing until I got back to the beginning. I cut off the excess elastic (about a half an inch) so that the skirt measured the desired measurement when I sewed the two ends of the elastic together.  The last thing to do is to sew the opening closed being careful to not sew through the edge of the elastic.


I can't wait to see a picture of my granddaughter Hallie wearing her new skirt. I will share it with you when I get one.   I am now looking for another pair that I can make a similar skirt for Granddaughter Sadie.

Meanwhile, this is what I have left of those jeans.  I am hoping to come up with something original (or not) to make with it.  Will keep you posted.  I am always open for any ideas.


UPDATE:


I finally found a pair of jeans that I could make my granddaughter Sadie a skirt from....or I should say some jean legs.  The embroidery was only on the front of the pants.









I cut the legs off below the crotch. The legs of the jeans were not long enough to make the whole skirt.  Since I have been making so many ruffled jean shirts and t-shirts, I decided that I would add a ruffle to the bottom to add length to the skirt.






With my seam ripper, I ripped the inside seam of the legs open. I also ripped out the hem of the legs to have material to sew the ruffle to.











I resewed the legs together so that the embroidery went all the way across the front. 
As I did with Hallie's skirt, I turned the top (waist) down to make the casing for the elastic.  I turned this one down 1 inch and used 1/2 inch non-roll elastic. 

I bought some cute lightweight corduroy for the ruffle.  To make the skirt the length I needed, I cut the material 4-1/2 inches by the width of the material....twice so I would have a nice full ruffle.  I originally planned to sew the ruffle on just below the embroidery, but decided to sew it just below the jeans hem stitching.


Here is how they turned out.  My husband thinks this is the cutest skirt I have made.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

CINNAMON RAISIN ENGLISH MUFFINS

According to the recipe card, I first made these English muffins on June 14, 1985.  I used to write the date on the recipe card when I made the recipe.  I don't do it so much anymore.  Probably because I have so many recipes on other things beside cards.  I have to admit it is fun to see how often and when I made the recipe.  I have made them with craisins and chopped dates (a special favorite of ours). 

When I first made them, I wasn't using much whole wheat flour with baking.  I remember once trying to get my mother to use whole wheat flour in my biscuits.  She told me she ate enough of whole wheat flour when she was a kid. That's all they had. She only used all-purpose flour in recipes.  Now I use all whole wheat pastry flour. I prefer the pastry flour over just whole wheat flour.  It is ground finer and has a milder taste than whole wheat flour.  I would suggest going half and half with all-purpose flour and whole wheat flour.  Then you will have a multi-grain muffins. This is how you can get used to a different taste.  Some recipes are better being multi-grain instead of whole wheat.  It just takes experimenting. 

We don't usually slice them, but eat them whole like we would a biscuit. 

I hope you will try this recipe.  It is one that you can easily multi-task while making them.  You only have to knead for 2 minutes.  Twice you let the dough rise for 45 minutes (just set the timer and if you go longer than 45 minutes, it won't hurt) During the last 10-minute rest, you can turn your oven on, be getting the cookie sheets out,  pour cornmeal in a dish, and finding whatever you are going to "cut" them with. You won't be disappointed.


CINNAMON RAISIN ENGLISH MUFFINS

Ingredients:

1   cup milk(skim)
1/4   cup water
1/4   cup butter(light butter)
4  1/2  -  5   cups of flour(whole wheat pastry flour
1/4   cup light brown sugar
1   tablespoon cinnamon
1   teaspoon salt
1   tablespoon yeast
2   eggs
1   cup raisins, craisins, or chopped dates
cornmeal

Directions:
     Heat milk, water, and butter in small pot over medium heat until very warm.  (I heat until the butter is almost melted and stir until completely melted--almost 120 degrees F)

 
     Meanwhile combine 2 cups of flour, with brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and yeast in a bowl with a whisk.  

     In a large mixing bowl, add warm liquid with flour mixture and two eggs; beat 2 minutes at medium speed of the mixer.  Clean sides of bowl as needed.  


      Stir in 2  1/2 cups flour and 1 cup of raisins, craisins, or chopped dates on slow speed.  Dough will be like a thick batter.

 
     Cover with a cloth and let rise in warm place until light and doubled in size, 30 - 45 minutes.  


     Dough will still be very sticky.  On a well-floured surface, pour out dough. (1) Sprinkle additional flour over top and knead dough until smooth and elastic about 2 minutes.  (2)To knead, grab one side of dough and pull to center and then push down with both hands. (3)  Turn dough 1/4 away around and repeat. (4)  Continue to work the dough around 1/4 turn each time grabbing the top side and pulling to center and then pushing down with both hands until smooth and elastic. 




 After about 2 minutes when the dough is smooth and elastic, flip over.



      Cover dough with a towel and let it sit and rest for 10 minutes.

     Roll out with rolling pin to 3/8 inch thickness.  Cut into 3 - inch rounds. (I have a glass that is just this side---I used to use a tuna fish can.  I removed the top of the can as normal with a can opener. After I had removed the tuna, I cleaned the can and used it to cut my muffins.  It is about 3  1/4 inches in diameter. Worked really well to cup the dough.)


     Cut all the rounds you can, rework the scraps and repeat process.  Continue til you have used all the dough.  

 
     Lightly press each side of the muffin in cornmeal.  Place on ungreased cookie sheets.  Cover with cloth again and let rise until light and doubled in size about 30 - 45 minutes.


     Bake at 375 degrees F 7 minutes.  Turn the muffins over and bake 7 minutes longer.


     Cool on wire rack.  I made 22  whole wheat muffins.


Friday, July 27, 2012

WHOLE WHEAT BROWN SUGAR BANANA BREAD PANCAKES

These are as good as the name is long! If you like to make dishes from "scratch" so you know what is really in them, then you need to try this recipe.  I don't remember where I found it, but it is a recent find....this year anyway. I didn't change this recipe to use my favorite whole wheat pastry flour.  It came that way.  I am sure if you don't have any, that you could substitute all-purpose flour.  They just won't be called......







WHOLE WHEAT BROWN SUGAR BANANA BREAD PANCAKES

2   cups whole wheat pastry flour
2   teaspoons baking powder
1/4   teaspoon salt
1/4   cup brown sugar
1   teaspoon cinnamon
1/4   teaspoon  nutmeg
2/3   cup milk
1   tablespoon vanilla
3   large ripe bananas, mashed

Mix the dry ingredients with a whisk to combine well.  Then add  the milk, vanilla, and bananas.  Mix well.  Mixture will be thick.  Cook as you usually do pancakes.  

I like little pancakes and my husband likes bigger ones.  I usually cook his first since they take longer to cook and then mine.  He also doesn't mind if his pancakes aren't hot off the stove and I do.  So when we eat, mine are hot.....

"just like I like them".  


TIP ALERT!  

 I saw this tip on Pinterest the other day.  To keep your bananas from ripening too fast, pull them apart from the bunch when you get them home.  I thought about this and I got to thinking (I know that can be dangerous) about the single bananas you see in the box by the bunches of bananas in the produce section that people have pulled off for whatever reason  They are not usually overly ripe.  Anyway, I tried it and IT WORKS!  I am so glad to know this.  I don't like my bananas very ripe.







 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

BANANA SPLIT BREAD


Last night we had waffles with banana slices for "supper".  I realized I would have to make something with the bananas as they were riper than I like them to be when I bought them.  

Since I haven't made my Banana Split Bread in months, I decided to make some.  I found the recipe a number of years ago in a Taste of Home Cookbook.  I have so many banana bread recipes, but this one is my absolute favorite. 

As I usually do, I made the recipe using mini loaf pans instead of the 9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pan.  that way I can freeze one of them and then I am not encouraged to eat more than I need to eat. 

I have made it using 3 mini loaf pans but for some reason last night it didn't look like much in the pan.  So I made 2 very generous mini loaves. 

I also substituted light butter and truvia baking blend (only need half the amount of sugar called for in the recipe then).  When I made it last night I used Better for Bread flour.  In the past I have made it half and half--all purpose flour and whole wheat pastry flour.  It changes the taste a little unless you are used to whole wheat pastry flour. I also like to use dark chocolate chips.  

I will print the recipe as I originally found it ( I think). My changes will be in parenthesis.  You could also omit the pecans or use another nut if you wanted to.

BANANA SPLIT BREAD

1/2   cup butter, softened (light margarine)
1   cup sugar (1/2 cup truvia baking blend)
1   egg
1   cup mashed bananas (about 2 large)
3   tablespoons milk
2   cups flour
1   teaspoon baking powder
1/2   teaspoon baking soda
1   cup  (6-oz) chocolate chips
1/2   cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray one  9 x 5 x 3-inch loaf pan or two - three mini loaf pans.

In a mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar.  Beat in egg.

In a small bowl, combine bananas and milk.

Combine flour, baking powder, and baking soda in a small bowl with a whisk.

Add banana mixture and flour mixture alternately to creamed mixture beginning and ending with the banana mixture.  Mix well with mixer after each addition.

Add chips and nuts.

Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for 60 - 70 minutes for larger loaf and 45 minutes for mini loaves.  Check for doneness with the toothpick in the center.

Cool for 10 minutes on rack before removing from pans.  Then continue to cool loaves on a rack. 














If you want to freeze one loaf as I do, let the loaf cool completely, then wrap in plastic wrap or foil, and put in a Ziplock freezer bag.  You can usually store 3 mini loaves in a gallon size bag.  Since I freeze loaves all the time, often the 3 loaves in the freezer bag aren't necessarily the same kind.  You can write on the plastic wrap identifying the loaf.


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

OUR QUILT OF VALOUR (PART ONE)

The Northland New Neighbors' Quilting Group ( we are working on a name for ourselves) I belong to decided to make a quilt of valour. When we are finished with the quilt, it will be donated to the charity who will see that a wounded soldier returning from war receives it. Our group only meets once a month at Kay's, but we decided we would try to do all of our work on the quilt together as a group.  That means some of us will have to bring our sewing machines to our meeting, but that way we will all be able to be involved and feel pride in our finished quilt.  It also means it will not be finished quickly, but that is ok, too.  At our meeting last week members Fran and Sharon weren't able to attend. Hopefully next month, we will all be together.



The first thing we did was share the fabrics some of the members had brought.  

Members (L - R)  Kay, Janice, Dorothy, Ellen, and Rita
We had talked about several different patterns we could use to make the quilt at our meeting the month before.  Now we had to get down to business and make a decision.  Rita shared a Fons and Porter magazine she had bought that had a feature on Quilts of Valour.  Everyone agreed that the one titled Patriotic Patchwork was the one we wanted to follow.


Once we had chosen the pattern, Kay decided to go check out her stash for fabrics we could use.  Here is Kay and Ellen picking out some possibilities.


Once we got started, we quickly assumed different roles and came up with names for ourselves.


Dorothy, the "Re-assure-er" here is supporting  Janice, the "Presser".  Kay had washed the material that Dorothy had brought since we wanted to work with pre-shrunk material.

Dorothy and Ellen are checking out some of the "layer cake" fabric to decide how to cut it.

Decisions have been made so it is time to get started cutting.  Ellen, aka the "Cutter" and Yours Truly, Patricia, aka "Cutter" and "Historian" get to work.


 Meanwhile, Janice, the "Presser" is still busy pressing.


Dorothy, now aka the "Counter" as well as the "Re-assure-er" is helping Ellen know what she needs to cut from each layer cake and keeping up with how many she  has cut and still needs to cut.

 
Janice decided to retire the iron for the day since we knew we wouldn't get everything cut that she had pressed so well.  The larger pieces that she ironed, we decided to "roll up" on a tube that Kay, aka the Hostess, had.  That way we wouldn't get folds in the material that would need to be ironed again the next time we meet to cut it.

The smaller pieces were draped over a drying rack that Kay, the "Hostess" had.  We quit for the day before some of them got cut.  So we ended up folding them and placing them in a box, but since they are smaller it won't take that much time to repress them next time.


TIPS ALERT!
1.


When Rita, aka the "Multi-tasker", was busy helping Ellen cut some strips, Dorothy showed her this tip to make the cutting go faster and easier.  Dorothy took two pieces of blue painter's tape and stuck them along the line on the ruler for the width we were cutting the strips.  This saves so much time because you don't have to keep checking to make sure the ruler is lined up on the raw edge of the fabric and you don't have to worry about accidentally cutting the strip on the wrong measurement line.  This is a tip I won't forget!


2.


The next tip also reduces time when cutting.  You no longer need to rotate the material around to have the ruler on the side for ease of cutting.  



1.  The first thing to do is line up the "marked" ruler for the width of the strip you need to cut.

2.  Bring another ruler up to the edge of the first ruler making sure you don't move the first ruler.

3.  Remove the first ruler.

4.  And the second ruler is where you need to cut for the desired strip.

Did you also notice we are using the same brand of rulers?  It is suggested that if you are using more than one size ruler for your project, that you should make sure they are all the same brand to assure measurements are the same.  So the easiest thing to do is always buy the same brand.


Well, we decided to call it quits for the day, and I, aka the "Historian", forgot to take a picture of our afternoon's work.  I will make sure I get a picture of it at the beginning of next month's meeting. I think we got the 80 red and 81 blue 4.5 inch squares cut and a few of the 2 5/8 inch strips cut.  Will let you know when we meet next month how much we got accomplished. I hope you will follow our efforts with our quilt as we slowly but surely get it made.

You can read the next installment HERE.