Monday, October 26, 2009

Domestic Bliss?

Thank you flickr

So, what do I do when it's my week to blog about the joys of domestic life but I'm not really feeling it?

I'm such an all or nothing person. Sometimes I'm really domestic and organized with my lists and meals planned out and at other times, I do nothing. Like this past week. I left the dishes in the sink. We ate out twice because the dinner hour was too fast approaching and I had made no preparations. There's dust everywhere in the house because of our recent remodeling project. And what do I want to do about it? Read my book. And maybe play around in my sewing room (I guess that's sort of domestic) or watch season 5 of Project Runway (I'm pretty sure that's domestic too).

So that's how it is. The good news is, it's only 3:15 pm here. I still have time to redeem myself. Maybe I'll go fix dinner....

or read my book.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Cupcakes are cool!

Have you noticed that cupcakes are all the rage these days?  Aside from the tempting treats available at your local bakery, or yummy recipes that are available, you see cupcakes everywhere - clothes, earrings, and of coarse at the craft store.  My oldest daughter craves them on a regular basis and will say, "I feel like a big, frosted cupcake!"  And I don't blame her.  Who can resist the perfect little morsel of fluffy cake topped with frosting?

I went to a book release party recently for the wife of one of my husband's colleagues:  101 Gourmet Cupcakes in 10 Minutes, by Wendy Paul.  Wendy has all kinds of fun and easy recipes for yummy cupcakes, all made using cake mixes!  Wendy also has a great blog that you can visit here.  The party guests were invited to create a cupcake recipe of their own, and the kids and I had all kinds of fun coming up with cool cupcake recipes.  I went with a Toasted Almond Fudge cupcake, which was a chocolate fudge cupcake filled chocolate ganache, and frosted with almond buttercream and topped with toffee almonds and chocolate shavings.

In the spirit of all things cupcake, I created this card.

Stamp:  Hero Arts
Cardstock:  Bazzill and Stampin' Up!
Embossing folder:  Cuttlebug
Dies:  Quickutz
Ribbon:  Michaels
Brads:  Doodlebug Designs
Markers:  Copic Ciao
Glitter:  Stampin' Up!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Some more fall for y'all

Back to Andrea's turn...

Autumn to me means so many things:  beautiful colors, the smell of the falling leaves, a crisp bite in the air, harvest time, pumpkins, warm sweaters, hay rides, apples.  There must be something magical in the air when your child comes in and asks if they can rake the leaves.

I love the community that I live in because I am surrounded by apple orchards and have lots of varieties of fresh apples right at my fingertips.  What I love, maybe even more, is apple cider.  Last week we made our first trip of the season to Farnsworth Farms and bought 2 gallons of unpasteurized apple cider.  YUM!  And since it's unpasteurized you have to drink it quickly because you wouldn't want all that fresh goodness getting too happy and fermenting.  This cider mill was a great find thanks to one of my favorite housemuffin websites:

I found this website last year when I was looking for local growers that I could purchase produce from and have since used it for so many different things.  This is a great resource for everything from crop calendars and picking, to recipes and information on preserving techniques.  If you click on your state you can find a list of local growers and what they sell.  They even have links for pumpkin patches, corn mazes, and (dare I say) Christmas tree farms and lots.  Check it out!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Toilet Paper Pumpkin Tutorial

You need:
  • 1 roll toilet paper
  • orange square of fabric (2ox20 ish. Mine is 22x22 and plenty big)
  • bit of rafia
  • paper lunch sack
  • torn strip of green fabric (roughly 2x8)

lay out your fabric. Mine is so wrinkled because it's been in a pumpkin shape for 2 years. Yours will be flat.

Set your toilet paper in middle. Depending how thick your roll is, is how big your pumpkin will be!

Start with one corner and pleat and stuff in the middle.

Like this! It does not have to be perfect.

Now grab your other things!

stick in your bit of green.

add the always-festive raffia.

cut the end of your paper bag off (sorry, no pic of this) til you get a tube of brown. Scrunch up and fold in half.

Stuff down the middle so it's poking out just so and there you have it! A super quick pumpkin (and emergency stash of toilet paper!)
Happy Fall decorating!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Lost Art of Mending

The other day I had the most gratifying experience. I mended. I had a pile of clothes that needed various repairs/alterations that had been sitting around for maybe...years? The stuff that was Maddie's now would fit Elle, and somethings were too small for any kid to wear. It's one way of dealing with mending. But while while my husband was working on our basement, I thought I'd patter around in my sewing shop too. I decided to tackle the pile. And you know what? It wasn't that bad! It only took a few minutes to fix this hem here, and sew that strap on there and replace the elastic on that.

But the fun part was darning. Yes, I said darning. Have you ever darned? I highly recommend it. And as soon as my machine comes back from its tune-up I will do a darning tutorial. Because describing it just won't do it justice. And it's so darn fun. Sorry. Couldn't resist that.

So don't wait til your mending pile is out of date, grab your stash and someone to talk to (this always helps) and get your mending done! You will feel thrifty and prudent and gratified! I promise.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Last Harvest!

Hello everyone! This is Emily. I'll be blogging for this week, and then it's Andrea's turn again.

Today I'm busy wrapping up the end of my gardening season. I've already plucked all my tomato plants out of the ground and brought in the last clinging tomatoes (we already had our first freeze!). I've got them in boxes hoping they're far enough along that they'll ripen, or else it's green tomato salsa for me! But to be honest, I am so done canning this year. I didn't get quite as much canned as Andrea (I think I only did about 100 jars--mostly tomatoes) but the thought of getting out all the gear--strainers, and stockpots, and jars, canners... ugh. I've got more ripe tomatoes sitting on my counter that I've neglected a bit too long. Oops! Into the compost pile! All right, it's canning time for me!

If you're in the same boat, ripening techniques can be found at or wikihow.

And just in case your tomatoes don't ripen, there's tons of recipes for green tomatoes also at Tipnut. I might be testing these out!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

What's for dinner?

I am sitting here at the computer printing a recipe for Sweet and Sour Chicken that is a family favorite because I seem to have misplaced my copy.  I just have to give a little shout-out for my favorite source for recipes these days:  I just can't say enough good about this website, but here are a few of my favorite features:
  • The recipes are rated, so you don't have to worry about using a dud.  And you can actually go through and read the reviews written by other cooks so you can get ideas on how to improve the recipe, or a pitfall to avoid.  You can also rate the recipes too!
  • The ingredient search:  I LOVE THIS!  I have literally plugged in ingredients that I needed to use up and seen what kinds of recipes came up.  Sometimes I know what kind of recipe I am looking for and just need to find one that has a certain ingredient, and maybe one that doesn't have another.  You can search for ingredients that you want to include and exclude.  This would be a great feature to use if you have food allergies.
  • Nutritional information:  A lot of the recipes also have nutritional information provided.  This is fabulous for people who are counting their calories, or needing to watch their sodium intake.
If you join Allrecipes you can have your own online recipe box where you can save your favorites too.  Check it out!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

This is my favorite time of year

although I have to admit, I much prefer autumn in the east.  It used to be that every time I expressed my lament at the lack of trees here in Utah, my husband would look around at the mountains and say, "What are you talking about?!"  Then we lived in northeast Indiana for a few years, and he finally understood.  The fall colors on the mountains are beautiful nonetheless.

What could be more natural than for me to combine my favorite season with my paper fetish?


I have two pictures so that you can see more detail in the card.  The flash creates a bit of a glare on "gratitude", but it highlights the cool colors in the embossing powder on the leaf.

Stamps:  Autumn Leaves (how appropriate) and Stampin' Up!
Paper:  Bazzill, DCWV, Roberts Crafts, The Paper Company
Embossing folder:  Quickutz Leaves
Magic Mesh:  Brown fine weave
Ink:  Versamark     
Ribbon:  Michaels
Embossing powder:  Stampin' Up! and Creations Unlimited
Sewing Machine:  Brother

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

I love harvest time!

Emily and I have both been canning up a storm the past few weeks, and she asked me yesterday how many bottles I had canned.  I honestly had no idea, so I decided while the latest batch of applesauce was in the steam canner that I would take inventory.  There were 193 bottles!  Here's what I have canned this year so far:

  • Pears - 7 quarts
  • Pear Jam - 13 pints, 5 half pints
  • Pear Mincemeat - 3 quarts, 1 pint
  • Peaches - 39 quarts
  • Peach Jam - 6 pints, 5 half pints
  • Peach butter - 7 half pints
  • Peach chutney - 4 pints, 4 half pints
  • Tomato Salsa - 26 pints, 4 half pints
  • Tomatillo Salsa (salsa verde) - 9 pints
  • Tomatoes - 7 quarts, 16 pints
  • Elderberry Syrup - 4 pints
  • Elderberry Jelly - 5 half pints
  • Chokecherry Syrup - 4 pints, 1 half pint
  • Blackberry Jam - 8 pints, 5 half pints
  • Apples - 5 quarts
  • Applesauce - 5 quarts
Phew!  And there will probably be some grape jelly and maybe some plums to come.  Call me a geek, call me Betty Crocker, but I think bottled fruits and veggies are beautiful!  They just look so much prettier sitting on my shelves than ugly aluminum cans.  They make fabulous Christmas gifts too!  That said, canning is hard work and in the process of doing all this I learned a few things.  First of all, personally, unless you are growing it yourself or have been given the produce for free I don't think it's worth it.  Unless you really love canning, it's cheaper to go to the grocery store.  Second, ask your friends and neighbors if they have bottles they aren't using and would be willing to give you.  The jars are expensive, and although you can use them over and over again, it's great if you can get them for free!  Third, recruit a friend or member of your family.  It goes way faster and is a lot more fun when you have someone working alongside you.

Just for laughs, here is my Top 10 ways that you know you've been doing too much canning (and I'm not admitting anything!) and they are in no particular order:
  1. If your two year old has watched every DVD in your collection
  2. If said two year old refuses to eat at the kitchen table anymore because he has eaten so many meals on the couch in front of the TV
  3. If your 8 year old sends you an email saying that she hopes that I, "have good canning days," and when I'm done could we please do some crafts together?"
  4. If your house hasn't been properly cleaned in weeks
  5. If the weatherman says that there's going to be frost, and instead of covering up your beloved heirloom tomato plants you just let them succumb to nature
  6. If you tell your neighbors that they are welcome to anything in your garden they want, if they will just come and help you do the canning!
  7. If every horizontal surface in your kitchen is covered in a layer of sugar syrup
  8. If your husband has been able to sample 4 different varieties of salsa
  9. If your fingers are burning for days after chopping the peppers used to make the salsa (I know, I know, I'll use gloves next time)
  10. If your family would never know that you love to cook because you have been feeding them frozen pizza and every other frozen leftover you've been able to find.
Update:  Make that an even 200.  I did 7 bottles of plums, and I think if I can anymore I'm going to have a nervous breakdown, so that's enough for this year!  ;-)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Time for a change

Anyone who ever has followed this blog knows that I haven't updated it for a long time - for a year as a matter of fact!  I think I figured out that even though I know how to be frugal, I don't necessarily like talking about it all the time.  So I started thinking about what I feel passionate about, what I would have fun sharing, and what (hopefully) would be fun for others to read.

Here's my confession:  I'm a housemuffin.  What is a housemuffin you might ask?  I don't know who originally coined the phrase, but I know that I am a housemuffin because I am the daughter of a confessed housemuffin.  My mother is one of the most creative, intelligent people I know.  My mother sews, cooks, gardens, and is an incredible artist just to name a few of her many talents.  She taught me the joys of working with my hands, and perhaps more importantly, home was a place that I wanted to be because of her.  Because of her fine example I too am drawn to the "domestic arts".  I like to cook for my family, I love to go into my craft room and play, and I love a clean and orderly house - well theoretically, it doesn't happen that often!

I would also like to welcome my good friend and fellow housemuffin, Emily.  She is one of the most talented and creative people I know, and I might add, is much more adventurous when it comes to trying new projects than I am.  I love reading her blog and can't wait to read her contributions here.

If you don't feel like you have been blessed with talents in the domestic arts, I am here to tell you that they are worth aspiring to!  As Emily and I find the divine in our day to day domesticity you will have opportunity to share in our triumphs and failures in everything from crafting to housekeeping to provident living.  Here's to finding fulfillment within the walls of our homes!
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