Lance, my husband’s nephew, posted his project on Facebook, and with his permission, I share it with you.
Two years ago I made an altered Christmas book for my sister. It was like a mini-scrapbook and personalized with family photos and memories.
This was a gift that couldn’t have been bought in a store because it was geared to my sister. The cost was absolutely $0.00 because my supplies were items and embellishments that I already had, including photocopies of old pictures. (If the pictures hadn’t already been photocopied, it would’ve cost about $1.00 at Kinko’s to do so.)
Space was left for her to add notes of her own remembrances. I included the Nativity story from Luke and words to Christmas songs. Part of the personalizing was including the lyrics to Frosty the Snowman. We never could remember all of them and that in itself was kind of a family tradition.
Looking back at it now, it’s obvious where some of the pages could be improved and maybe she’ll let me borrow it back to work on it some more, but I’ve found that with altered books, at some point it’s just time to quit.
This post linked to:
Frugal Fridays @ Life as Mom
Joe & Carla
Also, I’m realistic enough to buy boxes of cards when they go on sale after Christmas. If nothing else, it gives me a cheap source of envelopes for the cards that I make. Sometimes the boxes go on sale for .25 for 25 cards. Now that’s a mathematical story problem I can solve. A penny apiece.
For embellishments, I got out plain old Elmer’s glue – not made in the U.S. anymore – and my box of glitter tubes and bottles. My sister uses Stickles and it’s so easy to use and goes where where you want it to – next time I’ll use it for this kind of project. Stickles is glitter glue made by Ranger (in the U.S. as all there products are). It’s really superior to the kind of glitter glue I used to buy in the 1980’s. Nana’s Scrapbooks in Weatherford has some and I hope to add new colors to my stash. Nana’s is a very nice little scrapbook store. The owner is a kind Christian lady and very helpful. I’d link her website, but I couldn’t find it using the search engine.
These also needed something extra so I touched up the snow with white glitter and also a few bits of red and green.
Not exactly handmade, but at least hand embellished. And it was surprising how much nicer they looked. They certainly didn’t look like penny cards.
My mother made the best vegetable soup in the whole world. Mine is similar and very good, but hers was great. And of course, she didn’t follow a recipe or write it down. Mostly it was just what she had on hand, although she always started with bacon, and since both of our sons don’t eat meat now, I nearly always omit it. But it really is better with the bacon.
I don’t follow a written recipe either, but I will try to give approximations. This is a very flexible and forgiving soup; if I don’t have one ingredient, maybe I have something else that will work. For instance, I like to add about 1/2 c. of barley after it’s boiling to thicken it. If I’m out of barley, then I grate a raw potato. Also, I like a variety of colors, so I put in corn (frozen or canned), or maybe some chopped yellow squash. For something green, it’s green beans, peas or broccoli. When using broccoli, I don’t add it until about the last 1/2 hour or it will turn to mush; very unpleasant. When our youngest son was a teenager and nearly all he ate was meat, surprisingly, this soup was one of his favorite meals. Inexplicably, vegetables that he wouldn’t have touched if served separately, were eaten along with everything else. I even used to sneak in a turnip once in awhile because it looks about like potato in the general mix. So, here goes:
1-2 T. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
herbs and spices (optional)
3 carrots, scraped and chopped
Tomato product: sauce, paste, canned tomatoes
6+ potatoes (I like a lot of them) peeled and chopped
yellow vegetables, chopped if necessary
green vegetables, chopped if necessary
1. Turn burner to medium heat and add olive oil.
2. When oil is hot – but not smoking – onion, celery, & garlic.
3. After vegetables become translucent, add salt and pepper, paprika,
chili powder, & oregano.
4. Add carrots.
5. Pour in about 2 quarts of water and tomato product.
6. Add potatoes, yellow and green vegetables.
7. Bring to a boil and add barley or grated potato.
7. Stir occasionally. It will stick and burn if left completely unattended (especially if you add barley).
8. Set heat on low and cook for about 2 hours.
~This is a very nourishing, thrifty and comforting soup. For a small family, it will make several meals.
~If you want to add bacon, fry it first, then crumble and use the bacon grease to saute the onion, celery and garlic.
~If you use canned tomatoes, the broth will be thinner, of course. Tomato paste will make a thick broth, more stew-like. When I use paste, I cut the vegetables in bigger chunks.
~Leftover spaghetti sauce can even be used for the tomato base. If so adjust the other herbs/spices accordingly.
~Add water while it’s cooking if it looks like it needs it, or you like it thinner.
~Use your own judgment about what leftover vegetables you would like to add. Personally, with the exception of lima beans, I don’t care for beans in vegetable soup but if you do, go ahead and put them in.
~Omit all the herbs and spices if you prefer the flavor of the vegetables alone. Or, if you want to make it more like minestrone, eliminate the chili powder and add basil and beans.
~I’ve never been successful in adding macaroni or rice to this recipe, but if you know just when to add them, try it. Neither one should be put in for the whole cooking time.
~My mother added shredded cabbage, but this is something else I can’t seem to get right. Maybe I’ve tried to use too much. Maybe she just put in about a cup of shred. It was very good in hers.
~Even though our sons are grown and gone from home, I still make a large kettle of this soup. It’s actually better the second day after it’s been refrigerated overnight. And it’s so easy to just re-heat a couple of bowls for lunch on Saturday when we’ve been working out in the yard or come in from church on Sunday.
~On subsequent days, it will look like it needs water added before reheating, but only add a little, if any at all. It becomes more liquid as it heats.
~If reheating on the stovetop instead of a microwave, stir fairly constantly while heating. It sticks and burns easily.
~Cornbread is the best accompaniment, but cheese and crackers are good, too. My husband likes it with hot, buttered toast.
We recycle lots of glass bottles and jars at our house, but I reuse a lot of them, too. It’s free storage and I prefer it to plastic.
My canisters are gallon pickle jars, mostly from a movie theater where I worked when my husband went back to college in the late 1970’s. After washing and soaking off the labels, I painted “oats”, “flour”, etc. on them but that eventually wore off. A few years later I stenciled red cherries on them to match the new curtains I made, but that, too has worn off. Now they have labels I printed off from the computer, onto regular paper, cut and attached with clear strapping tape.
The jars work very well as canisters because they hold a lot, seal against little invaders and I can tell at a glance how much of something I have on hand. We buy in bulk at Sam’s Club; it’s not only cheaper, but convenient, too. We live about 4 miles from the store and I just won’t get in the car and drive in for a missing ingredient. I love having plenty on hand.
I store the 25 pound sacks of flour and sugar in large plastic buckets with tight lids, from which I replenish the smaller vessels, but everything else goes into glass. Currently we have flour, sugar, oats, cornmeal, macaroni, dried beans, baking soda, and powdered milk stored in large jars. Breakfast muffins are in a large one in the freezer. Quart to half-gallon sized ones contain yeast (in the refrigerator), cornstarch, barley, rice, grits, cereal and lemonade mix.
This summer we bought a large box of Texas peaches and froze most of them in a light sugar syrup in jars. It was too hot for me to get out and pick blackberries, but we usually have jars of them in the freezer, too.
For convenience and because I like the way it looks, I keep bottles of canola oil, olive oil and vinegar in small bottles. Sometimes I order water at restaurants and it comes in beautifully colored bottles. Lovely shades of green and blue. A package of corks from the hardware store seals them. This is very convenient for making salad dressing and cooking.
My parents were young adults during the depression and I learned about this from them. My dad would sit and shell pecans during the winter, put them in jars in the freezer and then we’d always have plenty for cooking the whole year.
Fall is my favorite season. Here in north Texas it’s a real relief after summer. Just a few weeks ago it was 107 degrees, so I’m thankful even when the mercury goes down into the 80s.
So to celebrate, I wanted something to put on our front door, but I’m on a spending diet; going to Hobby Lobby and buying a gorgeous autumn wreath is out. What could I make?
What I came up with is not only cheap, it was almost free. I had everything on hand I needed, or more correctly, I decided to use only what I already had.
1. Fold a stiff piece of junk mail in half and cut out the shape of an apple 4″ tall. This was my stencil. Unfold and smooth it out, placing it on an ironed piece of heavy brown paper sack.
2. Pour a small amount of white acrylic paint on a saucer, and using a stipple brush, stencil 10 apples. After they’re dry (and it doesn’t take very long), draw outside the white around 1/4″ with a medium Sharpie. Include a wide stem at the top of the apple when drawing the shape. Using a narrow brush and red paint, fill in the area between the white and black line. Cut out. Using either the Sharpie or some brown paint (I used black but I think brown would’ve been better), paint on some seeds.
3. After all that the stencil should be dry; if it isn’t cut another one (it should be slightly larger than the one used for the inside of the apple). Stencil another 10 apples, this time in red. When dry, outline with the Sharpie, remembering to include a stem. Cut out.
4. For the leaves I drew out a basic leaf shape and traced it onto green construction paper. At 2 leaves per apple, the cutting out part was going to get tedious, so I tri-folded the paper. It was easy to cut this way because construction paper is so soft. Then I folded or bent the leaves before gluing them onto the stems to give it a little dimension. Use whatever glue you want (I think I used plain old Elmer’s) and place them on both sides of each stem.
5. For the base wreath I drew around a dinner plate onto cardboard; then used a smaller saucer inside and cut it out with my kitchen shears. (If you think the cardboard might show, go ahead and paint the ring red. This will probably take a little while to dry.)
6. Before gluing anything down, space the red apples evenly around the wreath. Now glue them. Again, I used Elmer’s. Place the “cut apples” on top between the red ones.
7. Tie a piece of ribbon or jute around the top and hang on the door.
This would make a good project for children old enough to use scissors.
(This project is linked to Make Do Mondays