Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Carnival #83

This week the carnival is I've Got a Little Space to Fill. Thanks to Mama Bear for hosting! There are some great entries this week (as always.) It was hard choosing favorites, but here they are

Green Tomato Pie
Someone recently asked me what to do with a lot of green tomatoes. I suggested fried green tomatoes and relish, but then was stumped. Here is another option.

Recycled Round Plarn Rug
I just love all of Cindy's projects and could easily include her in the favorites list every week. I'd love to have some rugs like this for my mud room.

Blueberry Pie or Blueberry Cheesecake?

I know I said before that ice cream was my weakness, but a more accurate statement might be that ice cream is one of my weaknesses. Cheesecake, well, that really is my favorite, and blueberries are my favorite fruit. This is an interesting article with a link to the recipe, and discussion about how to tweak it to make it even better. Drooling here, really!

Be sure to check out all the entries for yourself, and link to the carnival and your favorites.

We are still looking for more hosts! Please email me makeitfromscratch at yahoo.com

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Homemade Bookmarks

I don't know about your house, but we do a lot of reading in ours. Between school and reading for pleasure, someone is always in need of a bookmark. Generally, we use whatever is handy- paper scraps and sticky notes are popular choices. Occasionally, though, I'd like something a little nicer to use in a coffee table book. That's where these homemade bookmarks come into play.

These bookmarks would make great gifts as well. If you ever give books as gifts, be sure to include a bookmark as part of the package. I think it encourages the recipient to dive in right away and if you sign and date the back, it enhances the sentiment.

To make these pretty bookmarks, you will need:
Ribbon of your choice
Silk scrapbooking flowers and leaves
Clear tacky glue
Small decorative brads

Cut ribbon on an angle to prevent it from unraveling. I also put a little glue (make sure it dries clear) on the edge with my finger to keep the edge from looking frayed.

Place a drop of glue between two of the silk flowers, layer them together and poke the brad through the centers. Place a drop of glue near one end of the ribbon and on top of the silk leaves. Poke the brad (with the flowers already on it) through the ribbon and then through the leaves.

Open the tines on the brad to secure the entire flower and ribbon. Let the glue dry completely before using.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

For Coffee Lovers

The past few weeks, I’ve shared some edible Christmas gift ideas that you can make now to prepare for the holiday season. This week I am talking about treats that you can make yourself for coffee lovers. After this week, I'm going to switch topics a bit to talk about a made from scratch Thanksgiving. After Thanksgiving, I'll share a few more edible gift ideas and how to put it all together for a gift.

If you have a coffee lover on your list, or if you are a coffee lover yourself there are a lot of edible goodies that you can make to include in a gift package. You can make your own instant coffee mixes, flavor add ins, and treats like biscotti.

Instant coffee mixes involve only a few ingredients. Throw them in the blender and mix. Hillbilly Housewife has some of the best mix recipes I've tried. (There are hot chocolate and tea mixes too.) The Rich Vanilla Coffee Mix is my favorite.

Instant pudding is the secret to her coffee mixes. There is something in the pudding mix that helps the ingredients dissolve. I've tried other recipes without the pudding. They did taste good, but at the bottom of the cup there is a very unappetizing goo left from the ingredients that didn't dissolve.

For those who prefer a good cup of brewed coffee, you can make your own flavor ad ins. Last year I made Irish Cream. It was so good. I will be making it again.

Irish Cream
2 cans condensed milk
2 cans evaporated milk
2 1/2 C cream
12 oz milk chocolate
1 tsp instant coffee
Fifth of whiskey

Melt the chocolate with the condensed milk. Stir in the instant coffee while the mixture is still warm. Then allow it to cool. Mix together the remaining ingredients. Add the cooled chocolate mixture. Mix well. Store in bottles. Mix before filling each bottle. Store in the refrigerator. Shake before using.

I am also thinking about trying Coffee Liquer this year. The recipe was shared by Kathie at Women Not Dabbling in Normal. Of course you can also make non-alcoholic syrups. I have not tried these yet, but Slashfood has a couple of recipes in Make your own coffee syrup. Be sure to check the comments for several more recipes and ideas.

Another idea that will add flavor to coffee is to make chocolate spoons. Simply melt coating chocolate in the double boiler (or microwave, but be careful not to burn it.) Flavors can be added by mixing in a few drops of extracts. Dip spoons into the chocolate, coating about the bowl of the spoon, and place on wax paper to cool. These can also be decorated by drizzling white or colored chocolate over the coated spoon.

A sweet treat is always a nice addition to a cup of coffee. You could make cookies, muffins or other desserts to place in your gift package, but biscotti was made for coffee. It really is so easy to make too. I use a very basic recipe found at Allrecipes, Biscotti. This particular recipe calls for ainise. I substitute almond flavoring. After the biscotti is cooled it can be dipped or drizzled with chocolate too.

Hope this gives you some ideas for edible gifts for someone on your list. Or maybe just some ideas for frugal coffee treats for yourself!

Next week, Thanksgiving. Any recipe requests?

Coffee beans photo credit: DA photography

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Carnival #82

Thanks to Julie for hosting this week's carnival at Chez Artz. Be sure to check out the whole carnival, but these posts really caught my eye.

Frugal Ideas for Date Nights
I love the idea of creating a special night with your sweetie without spending a lot of money. she has included several wonderful sounding appetizers to try.

Berry-Lemon Pudding Cake
I just can't resist berries. Mmmmm.

Homemade Croutons
I use my old bread to make bread crumbs, but using it for croutons is another deliciously frugal thing to do with it.

Interested in hosting? The fall schedule is looking a little sparse! Email me at makeitfromscratch at yahoo.com for available dates!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Crazy Crafts for Kids

My kids and the kids I babysit love to make crafts. We often make ornaments, magnets and picture frames, but once in a while, my creativity just isn't there when they want it to be. On days like those, I hand over the craft supplies and let them go crazy.

When I was younger, oh who am I kidding, I STILL love to take an afternoon and just make something from whatever I've got on hand. I am one of those moms who never throws any of my scraps away. I have also been known to keep things like holiday cards, ribbons from invitations and salvageable pieces from broken items around the house. They come handy on days when the kids want to make something. All of this stuff goes into a box- okay several boxes and bags packed in a large plastic storage tote- for a rainy day.

Letting the kids make whatever they want with whatever you have is a great way to build their creativity and let their imaginations run wild. Our boxes contained things like: popsicle sticks, googly eyes, felt pieces, ribbon pieces, feathers, fuzzy stickers, wood scraps, plastic shredded gift bag filler, magnets, pompoms, string and yarn and fabric pieces. Some of the places I get the items in our boxes are yard sales, craft and discount/thrift stores, scraps from projects I've made and scraps from school projects.

Don't be intimidated if you aren't crafty. Kids love to be turned loose on a table full of regular household items (clothespins, fabric from old clothing, toothpicks, thread, yarn from an old sweater, faux flowers, paper plates and chopsticks to name a few) that they can twist and glue into critters and cars. I have to admit that I had started some housework while the kids were busy, but I jumped in with the kids when I saw all the fun they were having. Crafting doesn't have to have a particular structure for it to be fun and productive.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Quick Breads: a treat for now or a gift for later.

If you are new to baking, quick breads are a good place to start. Quick breads do not use complicated ingredients or techniques. They do not require the time that other breads do either because they use baking powder or baking soda instead of yeast. There are a wide variety of quick breads. They range from the down home goodness of cornbread to the almost dessert like sweet breads like banana bread.

These breads freeze well. Make a double batch when you are baking, and freeze the extra. To protect the bread in the freezer, wrap the bread in plastic wrap and put into a freezer bag. It will keep nicely for up to three months.

Quick breads, especially the sweet varieties, are a nice addition to holiday gift baskets or trays. If your gift is for a small family or you would like to include a variety of breads, a mini loaf pan is a great tool to have. Many recipes will also work well as muffins too. Just remember that you will need to adjust baking times for the smaller loaves. Recipes calling for an hour of baking time in a full sized loaf generally take about 40 minutes in the mini loaf pans. Loaves are done when a toothpick inserted in the middle of the loaf comes out clean.

Here are a couple of my favorite sweet quick breads recipes.

Cranberry Nut Bread

A delicious quick bread. Great for the holidays. Slices best ...

See Cranberry Nut Bread on Key Ingredient.

If you have a Amish Friendship Bread starter, it is a great source for making gift breads. Make it in the traditional cinnamon variety or try other varieties too. If you don't have a starter, you can make your own. Not familiar with this bread or want to make your own starter? I talked more about it in this post, Chocolate Banana Amish Friendship Bread.

Pumpkin Cranberry Amish Friendship Bread

A delicious variation of the original that uses half the ...

See Pumpkin Cranberry Amish Friendship Bread on Key Ingredient.

Apple Spice Amish Friendship Bread

A nice fall twist to Amish Friendship Bread.

See Apple Spice Amish Friendship Bread on Key Ingredient.

Quick breads are easy to make, give delicious results, and store well in the freezer. Mix up a double batch of quick bread and enjoy some now, and freeze the rest for gifts later.

Other edible gift ideas:
This Season's Bounty. Next Season's Gifts

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Carnival #81

This week the carnival is at Funny about Money. What a great group of entries we have this week. There are some wonderfully creative ideas, and recipes that are making me hungry just by the titles. Be sure to go check all the entries out, but here are some that caught my eye this week.

Five Days for the Freezer
Kate shares the freezer meals she prepared after their monthly shopping trip. I am inspired!

Frugal Ikea Hacks: Make Your Own Laptop Case
I don't have a laptop. I don't sew, but this post is still extremely interesting to me. Guess I just love when someone figures out how to solve a problem without spending a lot of money!

Brownie Mix–Gift in a Jar
Had to include this with the edible gift theme that we started last week. I love how she finished this gift by hot gluing a label to the jar.

Thanks for you support of the Carnival! Enjoy!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Sewing a Pillow

With little more than some fabric, stuffing, your new straight-line sewing skills and your machine, you can make your own pillow.

Begin by cutting your fabric to whatever size you need. The pillow pictured is actually a cushion I made for my yard swing, but you could make a travel pillow, large body pillow or a throw pillow as well.

Place your fabric panels with the right-sides (the sides that will be seen on the outside) facing each other. Pin around your edges and begin sewing leaving a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Turn at each corner by sinking the needle into the fabric and lifting the presser foot before you turn. Stitch the entire length of three of the sides and continue on the fourth side stopping and back stitching about 4 inches from the corner that you started at.
Reach in the opening and turn the pillow right-side-out. Use a pencil, chopstick or dowel rod to push the corners out to a point. Then, you can begin stuffing your pillow with polyester filling. Do not ball the stuffing up. Leaving it loose will keep your pillow from being lumpy when finished.
When you've stuffed the pillow to your liking, you can fold the edges of the opening inside to match up with the seam allowance you used for sewing. Now, you can either sew the opening shut by hand or machine. The hand-sewing method gives your pillow a more finished and professional look.
This would be a great craft for children since it is so simple. Older kids can sew while younger ones can turn them out and stuff them. Kids really love making small pillows they can tote around with them or use to decorate their rooms. You can make them for teacher gifts with holiday patterns and some of Matthew's classmates even made tiny pillows (about 5 x 5 inches) to sell at their 4th grade stores last year.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

This Season's Bounty. Next Season's Gifts

Though I know I will cringe at the sight of the Christmas decorations that will soon hit the stores, and hate the holiday merchandising blitz that begins earlier every year, I am here to talk to you about Christmas presents. If you make Christmas presents, it really is time to start planning. I know some of you are already started.

For the past few years I've made goody baskets or boxes for many people on my list. Edible presents are wonderful. They are perfect for those who have everything, or when you can't afford the things they don't have. Most of us have plenty of stuff laying around. So, a gift that can be consumed is welcomed.

The possibilities for gifts are endless. Just search "edible gifts" and you can get lots of ideas from business' specializing in doing the work for you. You could go that route, but doing the work yourself will save you some cash, and most likely create a better product.

Currently in my area, it is the harvest season. Produce is at its peak, and readily available. Why not use the bounty of this season to create the gifts that will be needed for next season? Now is the time for apples, plums, pears, and pumpkins. If you grow your own that is wonderful, but these in season gems also can be had for a good price at your farmer's market. Or if you know where to look and who to ask you could score plenty of free fruit like Donna Freedman at Smart Money did.

With all that delicious fruit you can make a variety of preserves that will make wonderful gifts. Don't be put off by the thought of canning. Making jams, chutneys, and fruit butters is really very easy. The only "equipment" it takes is jars with sealing lids. Those can be found at most big box or grocery stores this time of year.

If you have never tried to make preserves, pick up some fruit, sugar, and a box of pectin and give it a try. The box of pectin will contain recipes for a variety of fruits. If you want to make apple butter, skip the pectin. It is a simple process, I promise. Michelle at Scribbit even made a video to convince you, How to Make a Fine Batch of Jam.

Yes, you have to seal jars, but that can be done with boiling water in a large pot, or with the inversion method that I used when making Crockpot Apple Butter, or as Michelle did by using hot jars and hot jam. (Do note that USDA canning guidelines recommend the boiling water method.)

You don't have to limit yourself to fruit either. While you may not want to give someone just a plain jar of vegetables, pickles and relishes can make very interesting additions to a gift packet. Pickles and relishes are not just made with cucumbers either. Beets, tomatoes, corn, or peppers can be used too. This year I made hot pepper jam for the first time, and I am pretty certain some of it will find itself in gift baskets this year.

When I think about using the harvest from this season for next season's gifts, I like to try things that are a bit off the beaten path. Of course, you need to know the recipient to judge how well that may go over. The book that I turn to the most when looking for those kind of ideas is the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. It does have basic canning information, but also includes a huge variety of interesting recipes using lots of different fruits and vegetables. If you are trying something new, it is always a good idea to give the recipe a test run. Make a batch and see how you like it before buying bushels of produce.

You may want to pick a theme for your gifts. A Mexican theme could be fun. You could make pickled jalapenos and salsa. Or maybe a variety of sweet treats including jam would be preferred. Don't worry about putting it all together yet. Think about who you need gifts for, the kinds of things they may enjoy, and the things that could be made now with the fresh produce available. Then get started, and you can say you've officially started your Christmas shopping.

Over the next few weeks I will be talking about other edible present ideas, and things like preserves that can be prepared ahead. I welcome your questions and ideas. Or perhaps you would be interested in contributing a guest post on the subject or on another topic. Just email me at makeitfromscratch at yahoo.com

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Carnival #80

This week you can find Make it from Scratch at Greenstyle Mom. I can't agree with her more that blogging while hungry is a dangerous thing. Even if you're not hungry you'll be drooling by the time you get through the recipes this week.

Some of my favorite entries this week:

Rich, Creamy, Chocolate Ice Cream without an Ice Cream Maker (or Cream)
Recipes over at Our Red House are always wonderful, but she is hitting my weakness here, ice cream.

Literary Recipes: Hasty Pudding
I'm not sure I actually want to make this one, but I was interested just to see what hasty pudding really is. I love the food and literature combination on this site.

Beet Juice Painting
Go and see the lovely photos of the beautiful pictures her children created.

What are your favorites this week? Give them a little link love would ya? Submit your own post and be included in next's week's edition!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Homemade Fabric Gift Bags with Ties

Save yourself some wrapping paper by making your very own fabric gift bags. They are so very easy and really fun to make and they're reusable to boot! You can make them for any occasion as well. I made mine out of Christmas fabric because I just bought some really cheap at a yard sale (Bonus!!).

This bag will have a built-in ribbon tie sewn into the side seam. No searching for something to tie your bag with!

Begin your bag by cutting your fabric to the size you want. I didn't measure one thing in this project because I like to live dangerously like that, but this one is about 10 x 7 inches. You can also cut one large panel (in this case, 20 x 7 inches) and fold it in half with the right-sides together. The fold will be the bottom of your finished bag. Either method is fine.

I cut the top of my bag with pinking shears (the kind that give it a zig-zag edge) for decorative effect. This will prevent the bag from unravelling as well.

To add the tie, cut a piece of ribbon about 15 inches in length making sure to cut the ends at an angle so the ribbon won't unravel. Fold the ribbon in half and lay it across the printed side of one panel of your bag about 1/4 of the way from the top.

Lay the other panel of fabric on top of that piece matching up the edges as best as you can. You can pin the edges together, but you already know I'm dangerous, so I just pinned where the folded end of the ribbon is.

Sew in a straight line down the edge with the ribbon fold in it first, removing pins just before they go under the presser foot. This is how the folded end of the ribbon should look after being sewn in:

If you are sewing two panels and you come to the corner, sink the needle into the fabric, lift the presser foot and turn the fabric so you'll be sewing along the bottom edge. Repeat that step at the next turn. For the folded method, just sew a straight line down each side of the bag. Make sure you move the loose ends of the ribbon tie out of the last edge before you sew down that side.

When you are finished, I find it nice to trim the corners to remove a bit of the bulk before you turn the bag right-side out. If you folded your fabric, you won't need to do this.

Now, just turn your bag right-side out, fill and tie! Remember that you can make your bags any size. I am making several in different sizes for Christmas and birthdays. The possibilities are endless!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

A Confession

I've been encouraging you at Stop the Ride and here to make more things from scratch, especially when it comes to cooking. Made from scratch foods often are just as easy to make, taste so much better, cost less and are healthier. Why not cook from scratch?

Here is where the confession comes. In my cupboard you will find one of the most notrious of not from scratch items. It is a box of something that will send chills down many cooks spines, and make those accustomed to home cooked goodness cringe. It is the dreaded box of instant potatoes.

Please don't throw your rotten tomatoes (or potatoes) at me, or call me out as a fraud.

I could say that I often don't use instant potatoes to make mashed potatoesl. They are a great filler that I often use in salmon patties and meatloaves. I could say that, and it would be true, but really only part of the story.

I could offer that when I do use instant potatoes to make mashed potatoes, they actually taste good. Add enough sour cream, cheddar cheese, cream cheese, bacon, or butter to those dehydrated flakes, and they are truly delicious. Not exactly healthy, but delicious. Yes, yes, that is a little more truth to the story, but still not the whole truth.

The down and dirty, nitty gritty truth behind the box of instant potatoes in my cupboard is simply that I hate to peel potatoes. There I said it, I despise peeling potatoes. Irrational perhaps, but the truth.

Don't worry. My family does not always have to suffer through instant potatoes. I do make mashed potatoes from potatoes occasionally, but I don't peel them.

To make real from scratch mashed potatoes I buy potatoes with thin skins, like Yukon Gold or most red potatoes. Then I boil them until soft, drain, and mash with melted butter and warm milk; skins and all. Easy and delicious with no peeling!

So forgive me please for keeping that box of white flaky stuff in my cupboard. I don't make everything from scratch all the time. Mashed potatoes are my weakness. I'm Stephanie and I hate to peel potatoes.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Make it From Scratch #79

You are invited to a lovely meal over at Feels like home. This week's host has arranged a delicious feast of entries for us. Stop over and dig in!

Some of my favorites this week:

Daylily paper
I've garden with daylily. I've eaten daylily, but I've never made paper from it. Check out the process. It turned out wonderfully.

Stuffed Mushrooms
I'm drooling over these.

Making your own stock

For the love of frugal basic cooking this is a post to read. Great tips here for this easy do it yourself pantry staple.

Monday, September 1, 2008


What started over a year and a half ago as a one time challenge, turned into a weekly carnival, and sprouted a blogroll, has now become its own blog, Make it from Scratch. The members you see on the blogroll and many more bloggers who have participated in the carnival have come together with a common purpose, to encourage each other to make more things from scratch.

Among our ranks you will find bloggers who sew, knit, cook, craft, scrap, garden, and much more. Some are motivated by frugality. Some need outlets for creativity. Others create their own for better quality. Some enjoy being more self sufficient, but most of us are motivated by a combination of those things.

Here at the home of Make it from Scratch you will find the weekly carnival (or link to the current host) every Tuesday. Other days you will find ideas and encouragement for simple from scratch projects. On Thursdays I, Stephanie, will be posting. My specialty is food. On Saturdays Heather will be sharing. Her specialty is crafts.

You may notice the above schedule leaves several days open. That is where you come in! We invite you to submit a guest post (even if you don't have a blog) and to ask questions. Please see the guidelines for guests posts or email (makeitfromscratch at yahoo.com) any questions you have.

Thank you for stopping by Make it from Scratch. Browse around the archives. Subscribe to our feed. Join in via the blogroll, the carnival, guest posting or by asking a question. We welcome your participation and feedback.

If you are currently on the blogroll from Stop the Ride, could you please take a moment to update the blog roll code and/buttons with the Make it from Scratch code.Thanks.

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