Friday, January 30, 2009

Fun From Scratch

As I sit in my living room writing this, I am looking at what can only be described as a toy disaster. The room looks as if a big toy bomb went off and rained down doodle pads and legos and match box cars from the sky. I'm realizing two things. 1) My 3 year old has more toys than should be allowed by law. 2) We didn't buy them!

I'll admit to getting him a few toys/games at Christmas. For his birthday we buy him one gift. And that's it for new things. Throughout the year we may pick something up at a yard sale or thrift store once in awhile, otherwise he is seriously spoiled by friends and family.

I almost hate to admit (okay, I absolutely LOVE it) that his favorite toys right now are the rocket ship that his dad helped him make last weekend and the flying caterpillar that he and I made this week. It makes me wonder just what would happen if we weren't blessed with so many generous people in our lives. Would second hand and hand made be enough for him? I'd like to think so.

Here are the projects we did this week...

#1 - The spaceship

My son is totally into rockets and astronauts and planets this month. He has the planets more or less memorized (although he calls them "Jupiper" and "Saturin").

He and his dad got all MacGuyver on a paper towel roll and cardboard from a cereal box. We don't even use paper towels anymore so I had to go dig out a secret stashed-away roll and unravel the paper towels from it. They cut out "legs" for the spaceship and taped them on, then made a cone for the top. All put together with duct tape. Not exactly environmentally friendly, but much more so than the plastic rocket they saw at the store that was made in China from goodness-knows-what kind of chemical-laden plastic, right?

(My husband took these photos, I think this was his attempt at a MacGuyver joke!)

Little one played with it all day, flying it around and giving a play-by-play of what was happening. He's developing quite the little imagination!

#2 - The Caterpillar

This idea came from a little book we found called Making Caterpillars and Butterflies by Sandy Dunbier. We haven't tried the butterfly yet, but the caterpillar was super-easy. You take an egg carton and cut out a strip from the bottom. That's the body. Have the child paint it and decorate with anything you have on hand. We don't have any glitter or sparkles like they suggested, so we just painted ours. Then use a pipe cleaner for antenna. We also glued on button eyes and yarn for a mouth.

These projects are so easy. They not only keep your child occupied (especially on those winter "inside days") but they teach things like planning and following directions. In the end, they have a toy they can be proud of, that has cost you next to nothing, and is much easier on the environment than what you'll find in a store.

I'll be hosting next week's Make if From Scratch blog carnival over at my blog
Greenhab. I hope you'll all enter!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Double Delicious Cookie Bars

Okay, this is not one of Stephanie's great, healthy and resourceful recipe posts. This is Heather punting in Stephanie's place while she anxiously awaits her power being turned back on. So I have a great, simple and sweet treat for everyone tonight and I hope you'll enjoy them!

Double Delicious Cookie Bars
1 stick (half-cup) margarine or butter
1 Package Graham Crackers, crushed (about 1.5 cups)
1 14oz. can sweetened condensed milk
2 C. (12 oz.) Chocolate Chips
1 C. (6 oz.) Peanut Butter Chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (325 for glass pan). In a 13 X 9 inch pan, melt margarine in the oven. Sprinkle graham cracker crumbs evenly over the margarine; pour milk over the graham cracker crumbs. Top with both types of chips and press down firmly. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until lightly brown on top. Cool; cut into bars. Makes 24-36 bars.

This recipe was given to me by my sister-in-law and originally came from the Hershey's website.

Heather is a wife, mom,
school cafeteria worker,
councilwoman and babysitter from Ohio.
She also blogs at Heather LessiterIts All for the Best
and The Fat Bottomed Girl.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

We Have a Blogger Down. I Repeat, We Have a Blogger Down.

Stephanie called me today and asked if I'd post a blurb letting our faithful Make It From Scratch readers know that her power has been knocked out by this winter storm slicing its way through the middle of the country.

And I was all, "Don't worry, Lady. I got your back."

She probably won't have power until sometime Friday, so please be patient and excuse the absence of her regularly scheduled food post on Thursday. I'll be putting one up in her place. I know those are big shoes to fill, but I wear a size 10 myself, so I hope that will do. LOL!

Kellie and I have some great posts coming up in the next few days as well, so you can get your Make It From Scratch fix!

Anyone else out there digging out from the storm?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Carnival 100 - One Hundred Years Ago

Welcome to the 100th edition of the Make it from Scratch carnival. To commemorate this edition let's take a look back to what was happening 100 years ago.

In 1909, the President of the United States was Theodore Roosevelt, but not for long. William Taft was inaugurated in March of 1909. The NAACP was founded. Peary and his companions reached the North Pole, and American singer Burle Ives was born. 

Life was very different then. Much of what we take for granted today had not even been dreamt of a hundred years ago. Now, we have the choice of cooking from scratch or buying ready made items. Then, cooking from scratch was the norm.

Making jam is one thing that many of us still enjoy doing today. Store bought just doesn't compare. Kate is making Peach Jam. Simple and delicious.

Joanna @ OneKrustyMama tackles homemade pizza, including the crust in Pizza Pizza.

A new recipe for Chewy Chocolate Cookies is shared by ChristineMM. Unfortunately she can't share the recipe, but she does tell you how you can get your hands on it. They look delicious. 

Mary gives us some more chocolate goodness,  5 Minute Brownies. These are made in the microwave. Guess they weren't making 'em like this in 1909. 

Rani shares another simple sweet treat, Crispy Rice Cookies.

This is how I imagine they may have cooked 100 years ago. Waste not. Want not. Jason shares Money Savers: Making Many Meals From Whole Chickens.

And while we are talking chicken, how about Cream of Chicken posted by How to Me.

The Smarter Wallet is trying to cook more meals at home. See what is cooking,  Cheap Meals You Can Cook At Home To Save Money! 

This was a time of transition in America. Most items were still made by hand, but technology was advancing rapidly.  The Model T had just been introduced, and soon the assembly line would become part of the American factory. 

I could just picture Karen's Pretty Knit baby coat and its matching bonnet in a photo from the early 1900's. It is a lovely classic.

Love these Twin Martian Dolls shared by Deanna aka Pop Tart. At another blog she shares  Five Recipes For Finger Paint. 

And to go with that finger paint, Make an easel and painting box. Great idea Grandmother Wren!

In If you can't beat 'em upcycle 'em  Kellie shares how she turned the containers from her husbands stock up purchase into something pretty and useful.

Heather shares a fun Valentine that won't sugar up the kids; You're All-Write Valentine

vh creates a pretty and economical solution to a gardening dilemma in Cheapskate's landscaping.

Ah the dishwasher, a modern convenience that I am so thankful for. Timbuck2mom found that Homemade Dishwasher Detergent left something to be desired. 

Crafting a Simple, Marvellous Desk Calendar is on the agenda for Vera Lang.

Raily Arena presents Tips To Get You Started On Selling Your Home, even in this economy. 

Do you think anyone 100 years ago could fathom the technology of the computer? Sometimes I am astounded by it.  50+ Free Open Courseware Classes for Web Designers Perfecting Their Craft shared by Fiona King. 

Thank you for joining us for this 100th edition. Next week our newest contributor extraordinaire, Kellie, will be hosting at Greenhab: The Browns go Green. Be sure to get your submissions in and join us there.

And don't forget, Firsts on the First is coming this Sunday. Try something new and share with us how it turned out. 

Image credit: Hagerstenguy,

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Hand Made "You're All-Write" Valentines

These hand made Valentines are a great way to 'spread the like' on Valentine's Day. They are especially good for boys to give out being that they aren't always as keen on the lovey-type valentines found in the stores.

Along with being sweet without being overly affectionate, these treats are fat and sugar free. I have to admit that while I don't deprive my kids from sweets, I am usually the Mom who gives out the non-candy treats for holidays. Do they really NEED another candy bar or gummy whatever in their bags? Our state has instituted a wellness policy in our schools that allows limited sweets at school parties and this is perfect for those situations, too.

Skip the crowded seasonal aisle and head straight for the stationery to whip these up in a jiffy! Use your imagination to come up with other phrases if you'd like.

Memo-sized notepads
Cardstock or paper
Stamps, stickers, markers
Computer and printer
Printer labels (optional)
Scissors or paper trimmer
Adhesive (I used Glue Dots)
Pencils (optional)
Step 1: Print your saying on printer labels or directly onto card stock. We used the phrase, "Valentine, You're 'All-Write!' Your Friend, Steven." Trim to fit if necessary. Place labels onto paper or cardstock.

Step 2: Trim cardstock or paper to fit the cover of your memo pad. Mine were about 2 5/8 X 4 1/8 inches.

Step 3: Decorate your card with stamps, stickers or other art supplies as desired.

Step 4: Attach to the cover of your memo pad with adhesive.

You can see the different steps I took in the photo below. Set them up in an assembly line to make several at one time.
Other phrases you could use are:
~Write on, Valentine!
~You're the 'Write' one for me.
~You're picture perfect. (With a small stick figure or smiley face drawn on it)
Heather is a wife, mom,
school cafeteria worker,
councilwoman and babysitter from Ohio.
She also blogs at Heather LessiterIts All for the Best
and The Fat Bottomed Girl.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Heat Therapy Bags ~ A Valentine's Gift

I tried my hand at making some "heat therapy bags" as stocking stuffers at Christmas. They were very well-received by family (or maybe they're just good fakers) so I decided to make some more - complete with tutorial this time - as Valentine's Day gifts for my son's teachers. I've vowed to have a complete Make If From Scratch Valentine's Day this year with no store-bought ticky-tacky junk...thus the reason I'm getting an early start!

If you're not sure what a heat therapy bag is, it's just a little pouch filled with rice, flax seed, buckwheat, whatever you'd like. You pop it in the microwave for a few minutes and it stays warm for long time. It's a life saver for cramps and muscle aches. And I've been tempted to just curl up with it on a few very cold days this winter. Here's the one I made for Christmas...

First I made the insides. No tutorial here because that part was pretty easy. I used some cheap muslin I had laying around and cut it into a 4" by 16" rectangle. Fold in half and sew up, leaving just enough room to stick a funnel in. That's where you'll pour in the rice. (I've seen people use beans too, but I was a little leery of the smell it might give off when heating it in the microwave.)

Mix up a big bowl of rice with a few drops of an essential oil you like - something relaxing like lavender. Then pour it into the bag using a funnel. Stitch up the opening. Since no one will really see this inside part much, I just sewed it leaving a 1/4 inch seam allowance on the outside and trimmed the edges with pinking shears.
Next you'll cut the fabric for your outer bag. I used a decorator weight for this tutorial, but I've also used upholstery weight and a very thin calico as well. They all seem to work just fine. This is the fabric my mom used to wrap up an antique map she gave my husband for Christmas. I thought that was a totally clever idea and thought it only fitting to repurpose the fabric for this project.

Anyhoo...moving on! Cut your fabric in a 4.5" by 18" rectangle. Fold in half with right sides together and pin the top and bottom.

Sew the top and bottom, then turn out. Voila - you have a bag. Easy-peasy! You may want to press it at this point.
Now you'll sew on the velcro which will be used to close the bag so that the inner rice bag doesn't fall out. You can use the little pre-cut pieces of velcro if you'd like. I happened to have this long strip of black, so I just cut it into pieces. you will sew this about 1/4 inch from the top (open end) of the bag on the outside.
Turn the top inch or so in (oh yes, I'm all about precision aren't I?) like so, and press it.

Pin it, then sew a line all the way around the top of the bag. I sewed mine just below the velcro. It's a little fidgety under the machine and you have to be careful not to sew the two layers together. Er, not that I did that...more than once.

Slide the rice bag in and you're just about done.

The last thing I did was to make a little tag with an explanation and instructions. I'm thinking some people might know what was, but others might just think it's a giant hackey-sack. Plus it's a whole lot cuter with a bow and tag. And I'm all about cute.

It says something like "place in the microwave for 2 - 3 minutes, then use on sore muscles or to relieve tension". I also put a disclaimer saying to spot clean and lay flat to dry. I'm not so confident in my mad sewing skillz yet and don't want anyones gift falling apart in the washer.

There you go - four little teacher gifts made from fabric and supplies already in house. Now who's joining me in the no-crap Valentine's Day pledge?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Garlic and Dried Tomato Bread

I made lasagna for dinner over the weekend, and wanted some homemade bread to go with the meal. I have a couple of cook books for the bread machine, but the Biggest Book of Bread Machine Recipes, lives up to its name. It offers a lot of choices when you are looking for something new. 

The choice was easy when I saw Garlic and Dried Tomato Bread. I still have dried tomatoes from my garden and garlic bread was just what I wanted. I altered the recipe a bit to suit our tastes, and to use ingredients on hand. The end result was delicious. 

Garlic and Dried Tomato Bread - for the bread machine

A wonderful bread to serve with Italian dishes.

See Garlic and Dried Tomato Bread - for the bread machine on Key Ingredient.


Don't forget to get your submissions in for next week's carnival. The 100th edition of Make it from Scratch will be hosted right here by yours truly. Can't wait to see what you've been making this week! Submit your posts via Blog Carnival

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Carnival #99

Welcome to the 99th edition of Make it from Scratch. A Dusty Frame is our hostess for the week. She has included a bit of inauguration trivia in honor of today's historical event.  Be sure to head over there to check out the entire carnival, and to give her a little link love. Here are some entries that caught my eye this week. 

My kids, not to mention my husband, think Pop Tarts are food from the gods. I rarely buy them. Homemade would be cheaper and better for them. 

What a fun way to teach children about primary and secondary colors. 

Make something delicious out of hamburger and what you have on hand. 

Other carnivals of interest this week. 

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Modeling Compound Magnets

If you could see my fridge, you'd know why I always say you can never have too many magnets! Between my boys' art projects from school, the lunch menus, photos and drawings done by kids I babysit, I am forever searching for something to hold them all in place. I bought a package of peel and stick business card magnets that cut easily and already have adhesive on them, but they need jazzed up a bit for us.

We first made these magnets years ago when Matthew was around 3 years old, so kids of any age can make their own masterpieces to hold up their masterpieces. These would be fabulous attached to Valentine's Day cards for classmates, Grandparents or anyone dear to your heart. We have used rubber stamps here, but you could certainly use chopsticks, toothpicks, spoons and forks, skewers or anything with a cool texture to make a pattern in these lightweight magnets.

White Air-dry Modeling Compound (I love Crayola!)
Rolling pin
Magnets (old ones work well, too)
Rubber Stamps (optional)
Tools to make patterns
Pizza cutter or cookie cutters
Markers or paints

Step 1: Roll out the modeling compound to about 1/8 inch thickness. Cut into desired shape with pizza cutter or cookie cutters.

Step 2: Make patterns, words or pictures with stamps or tools in the compound. Make sure to make the impressions deep because they will relax a bit as they dry. If you mess up, simply turn the piece over or roll it out again.

Step 3: Allow pieces to air-dry completely according to package directions.

Step 4: Color pieces as desired with markers or paints and allow to dry.

Step 5: Trim pieces with scissors if needed. Attach magnets to the back of the piece.

Heather is a wife, mom,
school cafeteria worker,
councilwoman and babysitter from Ohio.
She also blogs at
Heather LessiterIts All for the Best
The Fat Bottomed Girl.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Reporting for duty!

Happy Friday Make it From Scratchers! I am thrilled to say that I'll be writing here on the MIFS blog each Friday. If we haven't yet met, I'm Kellie. I've participated in the MIFS Carnival in the past and most days you can find me over at Greenhab, my blog about my family's attempts to live a more sustainable lifestyle.

Our journey started about a year and a half ago when we realized just how large our impact on the earth was. Since then we've started recycling, composting, making our own cleaning products, using natural or organic personal products, we've switched from paper towels and paper napkins to cloth ones, I downsized my vehicle and started working from home, we're buying less, spending less and enjoying life more.

I've started making more and more things from scratch these days for a variety of reasons and they all seem to go hand-in-hand with sustainability. Handmade gifts are so well received, they're less costly to make, they're not overly packaged or shipped from around the world, and you can decide what materials to use. Food made from scratch can also be cheaper, you can choose organic ingredients, and there's no end-product packaging involved. It just makes sense to me.

So each Friday I'll be here, sharing with you some of the things I've made - my failures and successes. Thanks for having me!

Oh, and since I'm not quite prepared today, I'll give you a peak at just a few of the items on my ever-growing "to make" list...

  • Recycled crayons - I'd like to do these as favors for my son's birthday this summer. I kind of cringe when we get a bag of plastic stuff at other parties. Instead I'd like to give the kids something they can use up completely with no waste left behind.

  • Photo Memory game - Another one for the kids. We have tons of summer birthday parties each year. This game in a handmade drawstring bag will be perfect for all of our little friends.

  • Crate slipcovers - A hundred of these probably wouldn't be enough for my storage problems, but this is a good (and cute!) start.

  • Papier Mache bowls - Just because they'd be pretty sitting all in a row on my long farm table.

  • Quilted hot pads - These look so cheery. I've (gasp) never done any quilting before, so I thought this would be a good place to start.

See you next week!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Make Your Sundae Bar

This week we celebrated my daughter's 7th birthday. As is tradition, the birthday child gets to pick the kind of homemade dessert that will be served for the celebration. I am not cake decorator by any stretch of the imagination, but my kids do not seem to miss the decorations, as long as the dessert tastes good. Hmm.... I wonder where they got that from? 

Anyhow, many a birthdays in this house are celebrated with a Cheesecake. Even more birthdays have been celebrated with Jessie's Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake, but this year was something new. This year we had ice cream sundaes. 

We had a lot of fun with this at the birthday party. I bought a large tub of vanilla ice cream, and borrowed some pretty glass dessert cups from my mom for the occasion. Each guest was given a dessert cup of ice cream and sent to the table to create their own personal masterpiece. Their palette of choices included chocolate syrup, blackberry freezer jam, strawberries, blueberries, bananas, chocolate chip cookies, peanuts, and whipped cream. There were a lot of delicious looking sundaes leaving that table. 

Putting together a sundae bar for the party was quick and easy. It was a little more expensive than a homemade cake, but quite a bit cheaper than purchasing a decorated cake. It was a fun activity for the guests, and no one even seemed to notice that I was sneaking some healthy choices into their dessert. 

A sundae bar was a great alternative to cake for a birthday dessert. Here is to hoping that the children whose birthdays are coming in March, May and July also feel the same way!

Image Credit(because I was too busy scooping ice cream to take any pictures.) - Frosted Fakes

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Thank you to Wretha at Wretha's Adventures in Off Grid Living for awarding us the Lemonade Stand award. This award recongizes blogs that show gratitude or a great attitude. Thanks Wretha!

Now I get to pass this award along to ten others.

Omah's Helping Hand awarded us the 2009 New Year Spirit award. Since I am a bit tardy in participating in this award, I will simply say, "Thanks!"

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Carnival #98

This week the carnival can be found at I've Got a Little Space to Fill. Mama Bear always does such a wonderful job. I'm pleased to announce that she has agreed to host the carnival monthly. There are still plenty of slots available for other hosts. Please email me and let's get you onto the schedule. Onto the good stuff:

And good stuff there is this week. Mouth watering recipes, do it your self cleaners, fun and practical crafts. Some of my favorites follow

How to Get Three Meals from Seemingly Stripped Turkey Bones.
Ah frugality and delicious food, a post after my own heart!

How to Make a Basket Planter
This is a planter made from oak branches. I love the rustic look.

Fridays are for Fun and Pizza
Homemade pizza is a regular menu item here. This herbed crust recipe sounds wonderful!

Enjoy the carnival this week! Some other items that may interest you:

All Things Eco

The Homesteading Carnival

All Foods Naturally Newsletter - Be sure to check out my Easy Ground Beef Recipes.

Thank you to the host of these other great carnivals!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Decoupaged Glass

Want a creative way to recycle your old glass containers into functional pieces of art? Think about those baby food jars, candle holders, vases and old jar candle jars you might have stashed in a closet or under the kitchen sink. With a few other simple items and a little bit of time, you'll be able to proudly display them in your home.

This is a great craft for the kids to help with, too. They'll love tearing the paper and getting their fingers all gluey! They can make these for teacher gifts, Mother's Day, Valentine's Day or birthdays! What a nice, practical work of art to give!

Glass containers (any size or shape will do)
White Glue that dries clear (school glue works well)
Several colors/patterns of tissue paper
Paint brush
Clear craft sealer (optional)
Step 1: Remove and labels from the glass containers and wash and dry the glass thoroughly. A dishwasher works great for this.

Step 2: Tear the tissue paper into different sizes and shapes.

Step 3: Mix about 1 Tablespoon of white glue with about the same amount of water.

Step 4: Using a paint brush, thinly coat a small area on the outside of the glass conatiner. Place a piece of the torn tissue paper on the glued area and smooth out with another coating of the glue mixture. Repeat with more tissue overlapping pieces to cover the glass completely.
At this point, I recommend cutting the stray pieces of paper around the top edge OR cutting a straight-edged piece to finish off the top and avoid having to wrap paper over the edge to the inside of the container.

Step 5: Give one final thin coat of glue mixture to the entire outside of the container. Let dry for 1 to 2 hours or until completely dry.

Step 6: Spray or brush on a clear sealer (epecially if you plan to use it for flowers) if desired and let dry completely.

Notes: I do not recommend burning candles in these containers, but they work very nicely with the small LED candles that can be purchased at most craft stores.
Heather is a wife, mom,
school cafeteria worker,
councilwoman and babysitter from Ohio.
She also blogs at Its All for the Best
and The Fat Bottomed Girl.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Take Control of Your Amish Friendship Bread Starter

Do you know how this story goes? 

A friend smiles sweetly as she hands you a gallon bag of Amish Friendship Bread starter. She informs you that the bread is delicious and your family will love it. It sounds like a great idea so you gladly take the bag and the sheet of instructions that go with it. 

Dutifully, you mush the bag daily, and on the sixth day feed your starter the recommended amount of flour, sugar, and milk. You continue on, caring daily for your starter, and on day ten are rewarded with two delicious loaves of bread and four bags of starter. 

Your family loves the bread and your friends take the starter. It is  Amish Bread bliss.

Ten days later you have two loaves of bread. Your family still loves them, but what to do with four more starters? You already passed the starter on to your friends who now also have four bags of starter to deal with. Soon everyone is sick of dealing with Amish Bread starter and the mere mention of it sends people running away. Yet, your family is asking when the next loaves will be ready. What to do?

It is simple, take control of your Amish Friendship Bread. 

Despite what the  instructions say, your dough will survive if it is not mushed everyday. It will survive if you don't feed it on day six or bake it on day ten. It really isn't that fragile. The first thing you need to do to take control of your Amish Friendship Bread starter is to put it on a diet. 

Hey! It is the new year and half the world is on a diet. Why not your starter? Simply cut the food in half when you feed it on day six (or whatever day you get it fed) and day ten (or there abouts) before baking.  This will create enough starter for you to take out one cup to keep as starter and to bake 1 and 1/2  of the original recipe. So, to put it in instructional form: 

Day 1: Do nothing.
Day 2: Mush the bag.
Day 3: Mush the bag.
Day 4: Mush the bag.
Day 5: Mush the bag.
Day 6: Add to the bag: 1/2 cup of flour, 1/2 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of milk. Mush the bag.
Day 7: Mush the bag.
Day 8: Mush the bag. 
Day 9: Mush the bag.
Day 10: 
Add 3/4  cup of milk, flour and sugar. Mix well. Remove 1 cup of the batter into a new bag. 
To the remaining batter add:
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups oil (or use 1/2 oil and 1/2 applesauce)
3/4 cup milk
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 tsp. vanilla
2 1/4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
3 cups flour
1 large box of instant vanilla pudding. 

This will make three smaller loaves or two large loaves, or you can make muffins. Grease the bottom of the pans and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Pour batter into pans and sprinkle the top with sugar and cinnamon. Bake at 325 about and hour for bread loaves or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool until the bread loosens from the pan easily. 

If you want to take a break from the bread for awhile, freeze your starter. If you want extra starter to give away or make a lot of bread, just go back to the original instructions. 

I've had my starter for over a year now. I don't keep it in gallon bags, but use recycled sour cream or other type containers. I rarely "mush" the starter. If I think about it I might give the container a little shake. I don't worry about the days either. I feed the starter when I think about it, and do the day ten steps when I have the time.  

The taste of the bread can be changed simply by using different flavored puddings and adding different ingredients. Some that I've posted previously: Chocolate Banana, Pumpkin Cranberry, Apple Spice

Other helpful links: 

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Carnival #97 - My picks of the week.

This week the carnival is at The Daily Dish. The pictures alone are making me quite hungry this morning. There are also some interesting crafts and DIY posts. Here are some of my favorites from this edition.

Puerto Rican Hotsauce
"2-4 Habaneros" We are talking some heat baby. This sauce sounds wonderful. I may be adding habaneros to the garden this year!

Sour Gummy Recipe
What a fun one to do with the kids!

How to Make a Bib from a Handtowel
My daughter (7) and I both got a sewing machine for Christmas. (Hers is a kid's version.) I'm on the prowl for simple projects we can do together. This one would fit the bill.

Hope you enjoyed the carnival this week. Thanks to all who participate!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Homemade Hand Hacky Sacks

One of the newest ways to get kids up and moving (aka off the computer or video games) is kind of a twist on the old game of Hacky Sack. The original toy is called a Myachi (pronounced mee-A-chee). To see a video of the original toy in use, click here.

To play with these hand hacky sacks, you can toss or catch the bag with anything but your palms. Place the bag on the back of your hand with your fingers spread out and sort of curved back to create a cradle for the bag. Begin with tossing the bag from one hand to the other and soon, you'll think of all kinds of ways to toss it around. You can play alone or with friends.

I do not actually own one of the original bags, so my version my vary slightly. You can whip one up in seconds and it is very easy to make several right in a row. I can see this being a great birthday party favor or something to make when your kids have friends over.

Materials Needed
Fabric (I find that a light cotton is best)
Needle and thread
Sewing machine (optional)
Unsharpened pencil, dowel or chopstick (optional)
Poly Pellets (for filling bean bags) or small beads

Step 1: Cut two pieces of fabric that are about 3.75 X 2.25 inches.

Step 2: Place the fabric pieces right-sides together and, using a 1/4 inch seam allowance, sew three sides together leaving the fourth side (one of the narrow ends) open.

Step 3: Cut the extra fabric at the corners on a 45 degree angle as shown in the photo to the right. This is important so your corners are sharp when the bag is turned out.

Step 4: Turn the bag right-side out. You may have to use a pencil or a thin dowel rod for this. Be sure to push the corners out to make them as square as possible.

Step 5: Fill the bag with poly pellets or beads leaving room to fold in the ends of the fabric. You may want to use a small funnel to help fill your bag.

Step 6: Fold the fabric at the open end in about 1/4 inch. Using your needle and thread, stitch the end of the bag closed. Fasten off your thread. Your finished bag will be about 3.25 X 1.75 inches.

If you watch the video in this link, you'll see that there are many other moves you can learn to do with your hand hacky sack. Have fun with it!

Heather is a wife, mom,
school cafeteria worker,
councilwoman and babysitter from Ohio.
She also blogs at
Its All for the Best
The Fat Bottomed Girl.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Firsts on the First - Coffee Liqueur

Happy New Year to you! I am excited to introduce you to a new feature here at Make it from Scratch; Firsts on the First.  Those who have participated in Make it from Scratch  for a long time, may remember that Make it from Scratch started not as blog carnival, but as a challenge. The challenge was to make something new. 

In that first challenge I made noodles from scratch for the very first time. Other participants tried tamales, butter, a hunting vest, and more. It was so much fun it turned into a weekly carnival. But with growth comes change. Trying something new every week or designating a week for new things became hard to manage. Eventually the challenge to make new things went by the way side and Make it from Scratch became the carnival it is today. 

I love what Make it from Scratch has grown into, and am amazed that what started out as a one time challenge, has become a weekly carnival for almost two years with a wide variety of participants. Personally though, I miss the extra incentive to try new things. So, to challenge myself again, let me introduce Firsts on the First. 

The first of every month I will share something new I have tried to make from scratch for the first time. Success or failure it will be here. This new feature has come about completely from selfish motives to give myself a push to try some things I keep saying I will make someday, but I would love for anyone else who wants the same motivation to join in. 

Starting next month, February first, I will put up a Mr. Linky with my First on the First post. Hopefully I can also come up with a button for First on the First too. (Anyone want to help me out with that?) Please join me with posts about trying to make something for the first time.  

Without further ado, here is my first Firsts on the First post: Coffee Liqueur.

Way back in August, Kathie posted her recipe for Coffee Liqueur at Women Not Dabbling in Normal. I bookmarked the recipe knowing that I wanted to use it to make some Christmas presents. Now somehow between August and oh... say... um... five  days before I needed to actually give the present, I forgot that the recipe required a vanilla bean and a month of sitting. Ooops....

So, I made a Procrastinators Version of Kathie's Coffee Liqueur

2 cups sugar dissolved in 1 1/2 a cup of water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup instant coffee dissolved in 1/2 cup of water
1 1/2 cups of vodka

Kathie's original instructions include boiling the vanilla bean with the sugar and water for ten minutes. I debated if this was necessary when using extract, but in the end decided to boil the sugar and water to thicken it. Then I added the vanilla extract and the dissolved instant coffee. I allowed the mixture to cool and added the vodka. Be sure to see the original recipe, Kathie's Coffee Liqueur for more tips about making this. The best part about making this for gifts were the bottles that I used. 

A long time ago a friend, who works in a hospital,  gave us a box of brand new large medicine bottles that the hospital was going to throw out. At the time, I wasn't sure what I'd ever use them for, but when I decided to make Coffee Liqueur, I thought they would be perfect.

I also made Irish Cream this year. Both liqueurs went into the medicine bottles. The Irish Cream was tagged "Mamaw's medicine." The Coffee Liqueur was tagged "Papaw's medicine." Suggestions for how to take the medicine were also written on the front side. On the back side I wrote what was actually in the bottle. I made a second pair of bottles for my brother and his wife. 

These bottles were assembled in gift baskets with other homemade treats for the couples. I was very pleased with how the liqueur and the presents turned out, but next time I will remember to give myself the time to make the liqueur with the vanilla bean. 

Image Credit: Dekuwa

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