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Monday, November 14, 2011

Crock Pot Swedish Stew

I was trying to come up with something different for dinner, and was kinda hungry for stew. We’d just had a tomato based stew, so I wanted something different. We like Swedish Meatballs, so I thought why not try that type of sauce in a stew. It smelled great, but the real test was that Hubby said he really liked it and that the recipe was a keeper. I figured I better get the recipe typed up and recorded somewhere, so I don’t forget how I made it, the next time we have it. (I tend to do that; make meals by adding different concoctions, and then forget what I did.) I served it with a slice of buttered rye bread and it was delicious. I hope you like it too!
Crock Pot Swedish Stew
1 1/2 pounds beef roast or round steak
Small amount oil for browning
Salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste
1 can cream of celery soup
1 cup baby red potatoes, quartered
1 cup frozen peas and carrots
1/4 cup finely chopped dill pickle
Cut beef into bite size pieces. In a skillet, sprayed with nonstick cooking spray, brown the beef in oil, seasoning with the salt pepper, and garlic powder.  Place the quartered potatoes in the bottom of a crock pot. Add the browned beef next, followed by the cream of celery soup, dill pickle, and peas and carrots. Cook on low  for 7-9 hours or high 4-5 hours. Stir to incorporate anytime after halfway through the cooking cycle.
Alternate ingredients: You can use regular medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1”size pieces. You could also use fresh peas and carrots, but then put the carrots in the bottom with the potatoes, since they will take longer to cook.


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Monday, August 1, 2011

Baptism Cake And Some Helpful Things I Learned From Pinterest


 IMG_0880 I made this cake for a Baptism celebration we attended Sunday.IMG_0881It’s kind of hard to tell, from the picture,  but I made this in the shape of an open book.  IMG_0882 Since I’m too frugal to by a lot of shaped pans, I improvised. I used a 13x9 pan for the bottom layer. For the top, I cut a 9x9 cake on the diagonal, using the top of the cake for one side and then flipped the bottom over for the other side, putting the thick sides to the middle. I had to cut off approximately 2” on each side of the top layer, so the edge was even. This was my first time making and using fondant and I think it turned out quite well.

So, what did I learn from Pinterest

I have a board on my Pinterest page called The Been There, Done That Column where I put the tips I’ve tried and projects I’ve copied. These are the tips I used for this project:

 The Best Tip EVER for filling a pastry bag!! @Chef Mommy

REVIEW:  This totally rocks! I wasted so much LESS frosting and cleanup was easier! I could even switch bags, from a large tip bag to a small tip one, just by wrapping another piece of plastic around the original. The only change I made was to knot the back end; thereby, preventing end blowout.

  How to Make Marshmallow Fondant @Clockwork Lemon

REVIEW: I found that constantly dusting your hands with the sugar keeps the fondant from sticking to them better than the butter did. I used a tsp. of vanilla and it tasted good; much better than any bakery fondant. I did find that you have to use a lot of sugar to get it to the point of non stickiness. When rolling this out, I found it works best between 2 pieces of parchment paper, then stick it in the freezer for a few minutes and it comes of quite easily.

 Quick and Easy Smooth Icing Using A Roller @ Cake Central

REVIEW: How to make a smooth frosted cake with a paint roller. This worked best for me with just the roller. 2nd best was with paper toweling. The wax paper did not work with my frosting recipe, stuck to it. I did not try parchment paper.

Do you Pinterest? It’s a great way to bookmark pictures you find on the internet and full of loads of inspiration. Why don’t you check out my Page and maybe become a follower, if you are so inclined.   And if you need an invite, let me know. I’ll gladly send you one.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Remember this garden bed I was working on?
The plants have finally grown in in my “milk garden”, so I can show what the finished flower bed looks like.
IMG_0874The idea is that the milk can has tipped over and spilled out the “milk”; in this case, plants. In keeping with the theme, I also have my “Ice Cream Sundae” totem in front of the Planter Bench made from an old metal bed frame.
IMG_0879 For the milk, I planted some Nettle, which is a perennial, but because they won’t fill in for a couple of years, so I filled in with Dusty Miller, which is an annual in my area. The Dusty Miller is much whiter than the Nettle.
From Pinterest
From Pinterest
This was the inspiration for my garden bed, but I wanted to use white foliage plants instead of flowers, so that the effect would be long lasting. I suppose if I wanted to spend tons every year on annuals, I could have gone with flowers, but I just can't justify that cost.
I had a milk can that I was no longer using as a plant holder, so it came to this garden bed. In the inspiration photo, they used a much smaller can, so I can see where they could get away with less cost on the flowers. I left the can as well as the bench rusty and peeling paint.
IMG_0873There is flat stone around the garden bed, so I can mow right up to it. In the non-milk area, I have planted Ajuga, but it will be a while before that fills in, so I covered the bare areas with wood chips. Underneath this all is heavy plastic from a silage bag, with the white side up. I guess, once the plants filled in, it didn’t really make much difference if it was black or white, but before the white blended a little better. Behind the planter bench, I planted Dahlia bulbs. They won’t flower for another month or so, but they should get at least as tall as the back of the bench and will have dark red flowers. It is a very beautiful Dahlia that I’ve grown for years.
I am pleased with how it turned out.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Plant Stand For The Summer


Remember the PLANT STAND I made out of a coffee table and end tables last fall?

I gave it a mini makeover for the summer, now that the plants are outdoors.

Here’s what it looks like now:


I removed all the plants to outside for the summer…

  IMG_0862 IMG_0863IMG_0861

Rearranged the gardening magazines and books…




Switched out candles for the garden tools I had in these vases…





Shifted some of the other knickknacks I had on it…


And added a couple of other things from other parts of the room.

IMG_0865   IMG_0859







Not a bad look if I do say so myself. IMG_0863

IMG_0865 I actually think it looks better than with all my plants on, but alas, the purpose is for plants during the winter.





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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Planter Bench From Metal Bed Frame

Remember my plans to make a planter bench out of an old metal bed frame?
Well, here it is:
It’s part of my new front garden bed. That’s my ice cream sundae totem just to the left.
Basically, what I did was to cut the footboard in half; but it was a little too deep for what I wanted, so I cut off another 6” or so. I was going to prime it and paint it, but decided I wanted a rusty kind of look. Problem was, I had used corner braces to connect it and they were shiny silver. I sprayed the braces and all the nuts and bolts with black paint and then just kind of lightly went over the rest of the bench, kinda feathering it out from the painted hardware. Turned out ok.
IMG_0848Look at that, a spider has already built a web on it. HA!
  I cut the rails to fit the width of the headboard, Gary welded it back together for me and I used the original brackets to attach it across the front. I cut a piece of the other rail to fit across the back and he welded that to a brace that was already there. I did; however have to cut the side pieces down to match up with that back brace. It was too tall on the sides anyway. This looks much better. 
IMG_0847  Back
I stuck a solar light in there, but I keep forgetting to go out front at night to see if it’s even working.
I cut pieces of deck board to fit between the rails and left spaces to slip some oblong planters in. There was just the right space for the planters and I didn’t have to rip any boards down to make it work. How cool is that?! Again I originally was going to paint these boards, but decided to let them weather naturally. Of course for this year, they are going to be golden instead of gray, but it’ll do.
IMG_0852See how the boards fit nicely into the bed rails?
Finally, I drilled holes into the top of the backboard to put in some plant hangers that I cut and bent out of a 1/4” rod. I have Dahlias planted behind the bench, but they are only about 6” tall at this point. I can hardly wait for the plants to fill in some, but it’s looking pretty decent already.
IMG_0850 The planter hangers I just left to rust.
I am very pleased at how it turned out.
Stay tuned for the complete reveal of the whole garden bed in an upcoming post.
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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Ice Cream Sundae Totem


This is the totem I made for my new garden bed. I used a small green flower vase inverted to serve as the “holder” to slip over the post (ice cream cup stem). I found these great posts at Menards, which are 60” long and are plastic coated metal hollow rods. I only used 30” for this project, so I have the other 1/2 to use for another totem. I cut them off with a chop saw, but a hacksaw would work as well.


Here’s how the totem stacked up:

On top of the vase, I adhered a yellow dinner plate and yellow salad plate right side up (bowl of ice  cream cup), followed by a sort of pumpkin shaped white canister upside down, that I had used to keep my utensils in on the kitchen counter (scoop of ice cream). Next came a fluted carnival glass plate we received as a wedding gift 35 years ago. I very seldom used it, except to put candy in once or twice. This also was upside down (caramel topping). A clear cut glass bowl, also upside down came next (whipped cream) and it was topped off with a metal cupola, I guess you would call it, from a lantern candle holder that I made into a solar patio lantern. I spray painted the cupola red to simulate a cherry. I finished off my sundae with a tablespoon, which I cut off 1/3 of the bowl, with a chop saw, and glued to the bottom of the whipped topping.

These are the steps I followed:

First, I marked where the pieces needed to go by tracing them with a marker. I then “sanded” these markings off, with a little over each way;

with a dremel, fitted with a diamond tip bit. This made short work of the task of roughening the areas for the glue to adhere to.

Secondly, I cleaned the area to be glued well with alcohol and a rag.

Starting with the plates, I next applied clear silicon adhesive sealant, liberally to one surface and glued them together. I glued all the top pieces, above the vase, the same day. To attach the spoon, I hammered the bowl of the spoon a little flatter, to be close to the same arc as the whipped topping bowl. I then glued it on with the silicon adhesive and propped it against a tall object until it was set. Worked out ok, so far, but we’ll see how it handles the elements. I then waited a day and turned the piece upside down , placing it on a roll of painter’s tape, so the “cherry” was in the hole; therefore, resting mostly level. I then glued the vase, upside down to the bottom of the dinner plate and waited another day before tipping it over and putting it on the post which I had pounded into the ground.  I used Loctite clear silicon adhesive sealant, but I’m sure there are other brands as well. 

So, here is my ice cream sundae in the new garden bed. It is next to the planter bench I made out of an old metal bed frame. More to come on that another time.IMG_0841

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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Vegetable Garden Started


This is my vegetable garden plan for this summer of 2011. Today, I planted the tomato and pepper plants, as well as the zucchini, cucumber and bean seeds. Hopefully, all danger of frost is done for this year. It is after Memorial day, so things should be safe, but it has been a screwy spring. We are at least a month behind with putting in crops and the trees and flowers are behind as well. Tomorrow, maybe I can find time to plant the rest of the plants I started indoors. Usually, I only get mornings to work on my  projects, 'cause I have to help with fieldwork in the afternoon. On a positive note, though, my tomato plants are very dark green, being in the greenhouse for such a long time this spring. As long as they don't suffer too much from transplant shock, I've got a good start on them. 

Here's To A Great Growing Season!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Address Me As Ms. DIY, If You Please

Just a little project I completed today.
I’ve had these cut out for about a month now, but just waiting for the weather to be warm enough to apply. I bought this vinyl off Ebay and it is supposed to be sign vinyl, so we’ll see how it lasts outdoors. It very little protected under the eaves, and it will get direct sun for part of the day, as well as rain. This will be a good test to see if I want to do something bigger outdoors.

I washed the area and prepped it with alcohol before applying the vinyl. It seems to have adhered very well.
Here’s  the full effect:
It doesn’t look like it, because of the slight angle of the picture, but it is centered under the light fixture.        
I think it looks pretty nice.
Now I just have to wash the rest of the siding and maybe repaint those light fixtures.

Have A Nice Afternoon!
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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Garden Work….. Finally! A New Flower Bed

The weather has finally been warm enough and dry enough, that I could do some garden work. Not vegetable gardening yet, too cold for that. My tomato plants are still in the make shift greenhouse I fashioned out of hay bales, cattle panels and tarps. Seems to be working ok, but it would be nice to get the plants in the ground.
The garden work I’m referring to is a new flower bed that’s going in the front yard. I worked about 2 hrs. on it yesterday and about 1 1/2 hrs. today.
This is what I have done so far:
 IMG_0778 IMG_0779 
I’m not sure if you can tell, but the lawn is on a slope here. That figures into my bed perfectly.
The first day, I collected the flat rock that will be the border of the bed, laid out the bed, and dug about 1/4 of the sod out. That was enough for one day, since I’m “old”. J/K, the fact is that’s about all my injured leg could handle for one day. the good news is all that stretching  should help my leg to heal faster.
Today, I finished digging out the rest of the sod. I had five loads of sod that I dug out.
And what did I do with all that sod, you ask? I dumped it in a low area in front of the shed that always fills with water when it rains. It would be a great place for a rain garden, but it’s also an area where the guys tend to park a lot of the farm equipment during the summer months.  Oh, how I would love a rain garden though. Maybe someday, if we ever move to a different home for retirement.
 IMG_0781 IMG_0782 IMG_0783 
So here’s my inspiration for what I envision for the new flower bed:
I found this pic on Pinterest. I already have a milk can I can use and I plan to put my metal bed frame planter bench in the vignette also, as soon as I have it built. For the “spilled milk”, I bought some Dusty Miller plants. Hopefully, they will be white enough. The finishing touch will be a tea cup bird feeder.
On another garden related matter, I transplanted some ferns I got from a friend’s property. I transplanted some last year and they came through the winter fine, so I got some more this year. Believe it or not, these ferns were only as tall as the short ones in the pic, just a few days ago (those are the ones I transplanted last year). They seem to grow about 2'” every day!
They are a pretty tough fern. If you look closely at the pic on the bottom below, you’ll see some green coming in an otherwise dead looking plant, as in the pic on the top.

The Autumn Fern I bought from Menards last year, on the other hand does look like it has bit the dust. In a cursory inspection, I could not find any signs of returning growth. The label states that there is a 1 year guarantee, so I’ll have to hunt up my receipt and check it out. I don’t know if I have to take the dead plant back or if I just need the receipt. I will have to call and find out.
 IMG_0787 IMG_0788
Have A Great Evening!

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