HOT VANILLA CHAI LATTE ( serves 4-6 people)

I visit this restaurant in my neighborhood a lot with my son. We always have the same thing to drink. It is a fabulous chai latte. I loved it so much I had to try to recreate it. Without any special machines or gadgets I came extremely close to the one they serve at the restaurant.

YOU WILL NEED:

Water
Milk
Vanilla chai tea bags ( I like Bigelow brand )
Sugar

DIRECTIONS:

1. Boil 3 cups of water.

2. Steep 3 tea bags till it is very strong and dark in color right in the same pot you used to boil the water. Then remove tea bags. Add sugar now to entire pot till it has enough for your liking.

3. Slowly bring 1 cup of milk to a boil in another pot. Just as it starts to boil remove from heat. Use a strainer for the next step if you have let the milk develop a skin.

4. Add boiled milk to the pot of tea and stir.

5. Serve hot.

VARIATIONS: I have never tried it chilled but, if you like your lattes cold, I’d imagine you could just store in the refrigerator and drink later. I’m not sure if using ice cubes would water down the flavor.

KITCHEN SINK SOUP

Funny name I know. However, I call it that because it seems like everything but the kitchen sink gets thrown in. Ever wonder what to do with your leftover veggies n pasta or rice? Americans waste a lot of food in comparison to other countries around the world. I was brought up being told I must finish everything on my plate, regardless if I were full or not, because kids were starving in places around the world. Now, people know that’s not a good idea and can lead to childhood obesity. With that said, it’s ok to have leftovers and you don’t have to discard them . Just toss them together and make a soup. I’ll tell you what usually winds up in mine but know that you can use any veggie cut into bite sized pieces. Any small macaroni or rice.

YOU WILL NEED:

Four quarts of chicken broth

Diced boneless chicken

Green beans cut in half or thirds

1 cup of rice or macaroni

One large carrot diced

Half of small onion minced

1 can of beans ( chickpeas, kidney, cannellini, navy or whatever kind you like)

1 ccelery stalk sliced small

Pepper and salt to taste

VARIATIONS: substitute beef broth for chicken broth and use tiny, already fried meatballs or steak sliced in place of chicken. Add diced potatoes and above vegetables.

For a vegetable type soup use water instead of broth but decrease water to two quarts and add 1-16 oz bottle of V-8 tomato juice and a cup of diced seeded tomatoes. You can add corn or any other vegetables you like.

DIRECTIONS: Throw everything in a large pot and bring to a boil and simmer twenty min or till macaroni is done. FAST and EASY.

HOMEMADE POTPORRI: GIFT IN A JAR

HOMEMADE POTPORRI (photo will be posted soon)

During the holidays we are frequently invited to spur -of -the- moment dinners at friends homes. Not wanting to show up empty handed, we usually stop at the store and get a dessert. This is a lovely gift you can make many of in advance and keep on hand just for these occasions. Making them just before Thanksgiving assures they will be ready at a moments notice. Just grab and go. These warming scents also warm the hearts of the people you give them to.  Who doesn’t love a homemade gift?

You will need:

Star anise

Apples

A few oranges

Cinnamon sticks

Cloves

Vanilla beans cut open and air dried

Old fabric pieces that you have no use for

Raffia

Card stock

Hole puncher

Sharp scissors or pinking shears

Recycled wide mouth jars or mason jars

Glue stick (optional)

Piece of chalk  or pencil

Directions:

1.Take oranges and apples and slice extremely thin.

2. Place them single layered with sides not touching, into a 250 degree Fahrenheit oven on a cookie sheet for 1-1/2 to 2 hours. (be sure to check every half hour or so as you do not want them to burn).

3. Once completely dried,  open a few vanilla beans  and allow the oranges apples and vanilla bean to dry overnight in air.

4. The next day add Cinnamon sticks, cloves, and anise stars to the dried mixture.

5.Take a few pieces of each item and place in a glass jar.

6. Using your glass jar lid as a guide, trace the lid with chalk.

7. Cut your fabric a quarter inch larger than the lid  all the way around.

8. Take a slightly dampened napkin or paper towel and ease the chalk mark. If you have used pencil to trace your lid, be sure it is face down on the lid.

9.  Place lid on jar and center your fabric on lid. If you have difficulty keeping fabric centered you can run a glue stick over the lid and prevent fabric from sliding.

10. Cut length of Raffia long enough to tie into a bow.

11. Handwrite or type directions for use onto card stock  that you have punched a hole in.

12. Place raffia through hole on card stock and tie into a nice bow.

DIRECTIONS: Simmer in 2 quarts of water or leave in jar with lid off to give a lovely  holiday scent to your home.

NOTE:  You can print labels to stick on face of jar writing message of your choice.  ie: from Jeanette’s kitchen, Holiday  Scents , Made  with love from our home to yours, etc.

VARIATIONS:  You can tie jingle bells on raffia or hot glue a poinsettia or pine cone to the top. Be creative. Have fun!

HOLIDAY TABLE CENTERPIECE

Site under construction . Photo will be posted soon.

Holidays are expected events that have the same colors and the same decorations each year. We have the biggies, Christmas , Easter , Thanksgiving, Fourth of July, New Years and many others . There’s Valentines Day and St. Patrick’s Day and a host of others. I was thinking, that’s a lot of decorations to store.

If you are anything like me, you are blessed with a lot of stuff but, not a lot of space to store it in. So, as I have gotten older (and find myself running out of storage for all my new creations) I thought,  ” Why not make a decoration that has interchangeable parts to it? ” So, I sat around thinking about what I could use that could be the base and fitting for all seasons. And, I have created the All-purpose wreath and the all purpose table  centerpiece. It looks great with a pillar candle in its center.

NOTE: I did not make all holiday items on the same day. I went with the idea of it being an interchangeable wreath and started with Christmas. When it came to valentines day I made those interchangeable parts  and so on. As for the flowers, I repurposed ones I already had. There are a million things you can use for each diferent holiday. I’ve listed only some ideas.

You will need:

A small wreath ( mine is the green Christmas type but you can substitute with twined wooden ones)

Floral wire or other wire

Hot glue gun and glue sticks

1/2 inch ribbon ( color or holiday design specific to wrap randomly around wreath or to create bows)

Large ziplock Baggie ( to store your wreath and other baggies that will contain each holidays interchangeable items

White craft paint if you desire to mimic snow on pine cones and to flock interchangeable wreath branches.

A  pillar candle. ( white seems to go well with all holidays)

NOTE : Some ideas of inexpensive things you can use are: Tiny Easter eggs ( plastic and wooden ones can be found in craft stores or walmart), American  flag cupcake toothpicks, Shamrock cupcake toothpicks! Easter cupcake toothpicks, small pine cones, nuts of your choosing still in their shells ( walnuts, almonds, brazil nuts, chestnuts, hazelnuts etc.), mini snowflakes, jingle bells, mini candy canes ( preferably plastic), an additional wreath to break into branches and flock with white paint.

DIRECTIONS:

  1. First separate your holiday  items.
  2. Take your wreath and place it in front of you and figure out where you’d like to place items on wreath. Put items onto wreath ( without connecting) until you have the design you like.
  3. Determine the length you need your wire to be. Hot glue each piece onto the floral wire.
  4. If you have chosen to add ribbon, place ribbon first then Place wired items into your wreath.
  5. If you are using tiny flags or shamrocks from cupcake toothpicks, I found it nicer to remove toothpick and glue two together, with wire placed inside.

FAIRY GARDEN MUSHROOMS (FAIRY RING)

Site under construction. Will post pic soon.

I searched everywhere to find lawn ornament mushrooms for my fairy garden.  There were none to be found so, I decided I would try to make some. In the ground they look real. I recently took out to repaint and took pic. They are five years old and have weathered many winters but still remain intact.

YOU WILL NEED:

Mortar

Water to mix the mortar

A medium sized hollow rubber ball. This can be a dog toy or a child’s toy ball. It must be made of rubber or plastic and hollow inside.

Beige or off-white colored craft paint

Clear spray paint to spray after dry to protect from sun and rain

Water bottle caps

Dowel rod or 1/4 inch PVC piping

Old towel for propping your ball halves till dried. Takes about 36 hours to be fully dried.

Dap brand clear caulking . It is waterproof and unlike silicone, clears up easily. I prefer this as it stands up well in all weathers

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Cut rubber ball exactly in half and set aside.

2. Roll your towel long ways and make a nest of sorts for both halves of balls to rest upright. You do not want the bottom of the ball to touch the surface as it will result in a flattening of the mushrooms top.

3. Mix a bit of mortar and fill balls 3/4 full and place in nests so that mortar is resting level.

4. After mortar has been sitting an hour or so, place a water bottle cap ( with top side of bottle cap facing down) into mortar.

5. After another hour or so, ( this is optional ) draw lines from center of cap toward outside edge of your mushroom.  This will give the underside the appearance of a real mushroom.

6. Once dried thoroughly, 36-48 hrs, remove ball by peeling ball away from cement. The ball can be used to make more.

7. Paint your mushroom.

8. Cut PVC or dowel to desired length taking into account a few inches that will be stuck under ground , and paint.

9. Once dry, place dap caulking in center of bottle cap and insert dowel rod or 1/4 inch PVC pipe into glue in bottle cap.

10. Spray with clear spray paint and allow to dry overnight before placing in garden.

HOMEMADE ITALIAN SAUCE

Once you see how easy  it is to make your own spaghetti sauce, you will never buy it in a jar again. The taste is excellent. And, you know what’s in it. No surprise, harmful ingredients. Just good, healthy food! Enjoy.

YOU WILL NEED:

2-  35 oz cans of of Cento tomatoes ( these are non-GMO)

Olive oil

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of Salt

Dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon of Dried basil or 2 teaspoons of fresh basil cut chiffonade style

1 tablespoon of minced garlic

2 tablespoons dried parsley

1/2 of a medium sweet onion finely chopped

1 tablespoon of sugar

1 medium- sized onion diced

Heavy bottomed sauce pan

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Put olive oil in bottom of your pot, just enough to coat the center.

2. Place both cans of peeled tomatoes ( one at a time) in blender with 1/2 of the garlic and oregano, parsley and basil and puree . Then set aside.

3.  Take diced  onions and begin to brown on medium high heat. When they are just beginning to turn translucent, add the rest of the garlic, and salt , stirring constantly , taking care not to let the garlic burn.

4. Stir for three to five minutes then add your puréed tomato mixture to the pan.

5 . Cook  on medium high heat until it starts to bubble. Then stir and turn  the heat to  low , 3 on an electric stove , and cover with the lid slightly ajar. IF YOU HAVE PREPARED MY STEAMED MEATBALLS, this would be the time to add them and spoon sauce over the tops. After about five minutes you would turn the meatballs over and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally for about 1-1/2 to two hours.

6. After thirty minutes or so, stir in the sugar. The sugar will cut the acid in the sauce. For those of you with acid reflux disorders, this is great! Just don’t be too vigorous with the stirring if you have meatballs inside, as they will be soft and can easily fall apart. If you want just a meat sauce, you can break the meatballs apart.

Note: Each time you stir, before stirring , you can take a large spoon and carefully remove the oil at the top of the sauce.  I, personally, don’t  like too much oil. When you take  the ajar lid off to stir, if sauce is too watery, then just leave lid off and remain simmering .  If you think it is getting too thick, just put the lid on again, leaving slightly ajar.

REPURPOSING GLASS CONTAINERS

Click image to enlarge
Click image to enlarge

We throw away more things each year without giving a thought to what else they might be useful for. Below I would like to share with you some things that I have done. Things that allowed me to free up drawer and closet space as well as be able to display them decoratively, incorporating them into my homes decor.And I don’t know about you, but I can never  have enough closet space.

My marbles I keep in an old Maple Syrup jug displayed on the bookcase instead of tucked into a drawer.  The jars that I , personally, have found to be most useful are:

Maple syrup jugs

Glass orange juice or grapefruit juice jars

Used Yankee or other type Candle Jars,

Honey jars

Any glass jar can be used really. I prefer jars that have either clear, silver, black or gold lids without any graphics on them. They are useful storage containers that can easily display things like cotton balls, Q-tips, makeup sponges, marbles,  seashells, nailpolish bottles, bobbypins or other hair ties, even teabags, whatever you like. Because they are taller than they are wide, they can help you consolidate space.  Or, can be displayed on your bathroom counter or anywhere else you choose to display them. And the lids are snug  as well, so no danger of things falling out. Old glass juice bottles are great for storing cereals and macaroni and take up less space in your cupboard.  Hope you’ll give this a try.

YOU WILL NEED:

Hot soapy water

A sink or other container to soak them

Scrubber sponge

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Fill your jars with hot water, put lid on and submerge into a sink filled with hot soapy water.
  2. After about 15 minutes you should be able to peel off jar labels quite easily. For the more stubborn ones you can use a scrubber sponge. They typically get scrubbed off with little effort.
  3. Rinse your jars and lids with cold water and set aside to dry.
  4. Fill your jars.

SKI PEOPLE CHRISTMAS ORNAMENTS

Click image to enlarge
Click image to enlarge

Cute little guys to hang on your tree. Children can do all the painting however, I recommend Mom or Dad do the hot gluing and prune shear cutting to avoid injury.

 

 

 

 

 

YOU WILL NEED:

Round topped wooden clothespins ( can find in local dollar store, Walmart or craft store

Bag of Popsicle craft sticks

Ruler

Wooden skewers

Pruning shears to cut Popsicle sticks

Assorted paints

Flesh color for hands and face

Black or silver for skis

Whatever color you wish for ski persons pants and shirt

Hot glue gun and glue sticks

Decorative thin cord or ribbon to hang your ornament

Kitchen Twine of any color for scarf ( Dollar Tree stores have bag of three colors each in children’s craft section all year round)

Old wire cake cooling rack  ( this is my all time favorite thing to dry crafts on when you paint both sides at once)

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Paint head of clothespin with flesh color.

2.Paint skier’s shirt front and back and set on rack to dry.

3. Once dry, paint skiers pants. and set on rack to dry.

4. Can paint boots if you wish to . I did not.

5. Paint some Popsicle sticks , front and back, the  color you wish the shirt to be and set aside to dry. These will later become the arms.

6. Once dry, measure  how long you need arms to be and cut that length off Popsicle stick with pruning shears. ( PARENTS PLEASE DO THIS PART TO AVOID INJURY) . Touch up with chosen colored paint.

7.  Paint flesh colored tips onto both sides of ends of arms to represent skiers hands. Set aside to dry.

8. Round off corners of  flat part of the Popsicle stick with pruning shears. This part will become skiers shoulders. Touch up exposed wood and set aside to dry.

9. Paint Popsicle sticks front and back black or silver and set on cooling rack to dry. These will become the skis.

10.  Using pruning shears, cut Popsicle  sticks in half. You will need one Popsicle  stick for each pair of skis. Touch up with paint where the exposed wood is and set aside to dry.

10. Cut off point of skewer and paint skewers the color you chose for skis and set aside to dry.

11. Paint hair on your skier.

12. With the end of a skewer dipped into paint, dot eyes and make smile.

13. When clothespin is totally dried, hot glue the clothespin to the skis. Be sure rounded part of ski is used for front of skis.

14. Glue arms on with arms partially extended ( see photo).

15.  Take your black or silver skewers and cut to make the poles the skier will hold. DO NOT CUT THESE FIRST. Depending on how far you extended your skiers arms will determine the length you will need to glue to side of hand facing skiers body and then to side of skiers pant leg near ski.

16. When gluing on poles to hands and skis I took hot glue and placed with skewer to avoid large area of glue.

17. Now, if you wish, you can braid colored kitchen twine to make a scarf. Place dab of hot glue on back of neck and attach hanging ribbon or cord and this will also hold scarf in place. Glue scarf to side of skiers shirt near arm to hold in place.

You will create memories for your child each Christmas when you bring them out to place on tree.

STARFISH WALL DECORATION

Click image to enlarge
Click image to enlarge

I am a beach person. I love the ocean and even more, I love collecting seashells. I have my master bathroom decorated in a beach theme. I have clear glass jars of seashells displayed on the windowsill and wanted a starfish for the wall. This is what I did. Hope you’ll give it a try! So easy! Takes just a few minutes.

 

 

 

YOU WILL NEED:

A Starfish ( or more if you want several) these can be purchased in Walmart or any craft store, individually or in a bag .

White paint OR no paint, leave natural

Glitter if you are painting and wish it to sparkle

Hot glue gun with glue sticks

White pipe cleaners or a wire ( when I run out of wire I have been known to use a Christmas tree ornament hanger for these small tasks).

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Either leave natural or paint your starfish white and apply glitter. 2. Hot glue pipe cleaner to back center of starfish to hang on wall.
  2. NOTE: There are some on a shelf in my guest bedroom that just rest against a book or other item.