Sunday, January 30, 2011

GRANDMOTHER'S LIBRARY: Bullet by Laurell K. Hamilton

This is the most recent of the the Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter books.  I started to say that she has gotten away from the vampire hunting, but she actually was trying to get the "mother of all vampires" (Mommy Noir).. she didn't actually go after her physically, but was able to deflect the 'father of death' vampire metaphysically by turning a 'blood bath' into a 'love bath'.  (too many graphic details..)
Yes, Anita Blake has gone a LONG way from the little gal out to get the bad guys.. she no longer raises the dead, although that is still her job: we just don't see this in the story line. 
Richard, former werewolf lover, is back in the novel, actually being 'good'.. which it totally out of character of him.  We've seen Anita, Richard, and others evolve throughout the series, but I'm a fan of the original couple of books.  I don't quite know what to think about this series any longer, except that I definitely would not allow my kids to read it. What happened to the Anita Blake that had high morals?  She sure didn't last long.

Saturday, January 29, 2011


This is my great nephew, Keith.  His mom is a chef, so I thought he needed an apron for when he helped her out in the kitchen.  I sewed strips of western themed material then cut into strips and resewed to make the squares.. For the top I have a double layer of strips. I was cutting it close to the mailing time for Christmas, so I opted to serge the sides rather than put binding. I guess it could have been hemmed, too.  For the strap around the top, I folded a strip of material in half long way, sewed it, then turned right side out.  I put button holes in the apron bib, the put the neck strap through this and tied knots.  Quick and CUTE!! Especially once donned by this sweetie!!

GRANNY'S KITCHEN: My Kid's Favorite Cake

In mixer, add 2 cups flour, 2 cups sugar, 5 tablespoons cocoa, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 2 eggs (or 2 Tablespoons egg powder, for shelf stable recipe), 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1/2 cup oil (sometimes I use 1/2 cup applesauce, because I have a LOT of home-canned apple sauce!) 2/3 cup buttermilk (I put about a tablespoon of vinegar in the bottom of my 2/3 cup measuring cup and fill will milk -- use reconstituted milk or reconstituted buttermilk for shelf stable), and 1 cup boiling water (remember to add 4 Tablespoons extra water if using powdered eggs).

The batter will be very soupy, not thick..

Preheat oven to 350*.

Grease and SUGAR a cake pan.  (I will grease and flour a pan when I am taking it out onto a cake pan, but I use sugar to give it more sweet goodness! lol.. I also use spray cooking oil to grease it with as opposed to Crisco.  Sometimes I use butter, but today I used powdered butter for the frosting, so didn't have the butter paper to grease the pan with).

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes..

Make the frosting while this is cooking.  I was out of powdered sugar, so I put 1 cup of granulated sugar at a time in my blender and blended on high until it was powdered.  I did this three times because I needed three cups.  I don't know if you can tell the difference, but the first picture is of the granulated sugar in my blender; the next is the powdered sugar.. it worked just fine in this recipe!!

 Take the 3 cups of powdered sugar and put in a saucepan with 1/2 cup cocoa.  Add 1/2 cup butter (I used 1/2 cup butter powder and increased my liquid by 1/2 cup).  Add 1/3 cup of some drink (I use what I have on hand: herbal tea, any flavor juice, any flavor soda -- the original recipe calls for coffee.. but since we don't drink coffee, I use whatever is in the fridge.)
I stir over medium heat with a whisk and add a teaspoon vanilla and 1/4 teaspoon salt. 

 Here is the finished cake out of the oven. I cut into slices so that when I pour the frosting on, it will go down in and make each piece extra rich with buttery/chocolaty goodness.
Here is the cake after I've poured the frosting on top.  It will continue to soak down in there..

Soo delicious!  My kids prefer this over ANY other cake!!  I got the recipe from my mom (so Nick refers to it as Grandma Kathleen's cake), but I believe she got the recipe from my Aunt Marge.. I have NO IDEA where the original recipe came from, but I am so glad we have it!!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


I wanted to make something special for my granddaughter's first Easter. I found this cute applique bunny basket from Designs by Sick.  I chose an off white with gold sparkles to do my designs on.             First, put tear away stabilizer in your hoop. Then lay the fabric on top of the hoop.  Do NOT put IN hoop as the sides will be cut away. I put in the 3d color called for to save extra thread changing. The first two colors are to set the fabric on the stabilizer and these stitches will be covered by the final satin stitch

 Sew the first 'design'. Then remove the hoop from the machine.  Cut as close as possible to the thread to remove the excess. I have found that my curved scissors that I use for cutting the thread works wonderfully for removing the excess fabric.
 Once the fabric is cut away, put the hoop back on the machine and sew the 2nd color, which is another set to hold down the original shape. Again, this will be covered by the final satin stitch, so I just used the 3d color, which is the first color of the design.
Go ahead and start the design. Do ALL but the last two colors.
 Remove the hoop from the machine and turn upside down.  Place the inside basket fabric on the back of the hoop. Make sure you have a large enough piece of fabric to cover the outline.
I used scraps of water soluble stabilizer (wss) to hold the fabric in place.  I just wet my fingers and put a drop of water on the scrap piece of wss and put on the corners of the fabric.  I smoothed the fabric in place. When it was time to cut away the excess fabric, this peeled off easily, like 2 sided tape or the gum on some labels.
 Someone suggested that I use Scotch tape to hold the fabric in place. This was a bit easier, but I think the wss held better. The wss I use is thick like paper, not the thin cellophane type. And if you get it too wet, it is a little more difficult to get off. I just barely dampen it enough to make it stick.
You can also use a spray adhesive, but I didn't want that sticky stuff on my hoop.  My aunt uses it and has no problem. I guess use what works best for you.

Before putting the hoop back on the machine, you need to fill the bobbin with the same color that you are doing the final satin stitch in.  Then sew the next design (an outline stitch).  Remove the hoop from the machine and cut around the fabric as close to the stitching as possible.  Place back in the hoop and sew the final satin stitch.  There is no need to change color: the design has to show a change of color in order for the machine to stop and allow you to remove the hoop.  The last two stitch colors can both be your final satin stitch color.

 When you take from the hoop, you can rip the pieces from the excess stabilizer. You may need to trim it, or if it doesn't tear easily you will need to trim it.  Fray Check is great to use on the edges if you accidentally snip too close.  Just put drops of this on the edge. To be totally safe, run this around each edge whether you think you've snipped too close or not. It is a nice precaution.


There are six different bunny designs to sew. Follow the same procedure for all of them.  When you sew the bottom piece, keep your satin stitch color in the bobbin as well as on top of the machine. Sew the first 'color' to hold down the top piece of fabric. Cut it, put the bottom on and sew it down. Remove from the hoop and cut the extra away. Then return to the hoop to sew the final satin stitches.
On your regular sewing machine, using the same thread in the bobbin and on top, and using a zig-zag stitch, attach the sides across the bottom.  If you notice, I turned my bottom piece upside down because I decided that I did not want the white fabric on the bottom of the basket. I just thought the purple (darker) would be better there. 

 Once all the side pieces are on, zig-zag the size pieces together.  They do a have a little curve to them. Here I am starting at the top of the basket and sewing down. I then reverse and sew back up.

 I know this is not a great picture, but wanted you to see the 'bowl' curved up as I was sewing. I had to lean up and peek over the basket sides to see what I was doing on the later sides.

 Here I put the bowl to the back and tried sewing from the bottom of the basket up to the top.  It was a little easier to see this way, but I still preferred sewing from the top down to the bottom.

Here are some of the bunny details. I have shown the bottom and think it looks fine with the dark on the bottom. If I make another one, I will do both sides of the bottom piece with the inside basket fabric.

The pattern called for all silver gray rabbits. I used a beige on one rabbit, off white on a couple, the silver gray on a couple and one rabbit is pink. I changed many of the colors to pinks and purples for the baby.
 There is a handle pattern, but sadly it doesn't fit in my machine.  I therefore took long scraps of each of the top and bottom fabrics and one of the stabilizer.  I laid them out on the cutting board and cut all the same size. I started out at about 2x11, but decided that 2 inches was too thick for a baby's little hand. I cut them down to and inch and a quarter (1 1/4 inch).
 Putting just the white fabric and the stabilizer together, I embroidered Kay's name on the middle of the basket handle. I then put the back fabric on and did a satin stitch down both long sides of the handle.
 Holding the handle in place,I did a tight zig-zag stitch over the satin stitches to hold the handle in place.
The handle could have been a bit longer, but this will do.
 On the inside of the handle, I trimmed the corners close to the zig-zag stitches.

 And HERE is the completed basket!!

GRANNY'S KITCHEN: Cake Mix Cobbler

 Here's what you need for an EASY dessert..
I used home canned fruit. I didn't have any pineapple zucchini (where I can shredded zucchini in pineapple juice to use for crushed pineapple in this dessert) but I did have canned.
 If you have canned pie filling, that would work.. I used fruit. My picture shows cherries, but I have also used canned blackberries. I put the juice in a pot with a big spoonful of corn starch and heat to thicken. (This step is not necessary if using pie filling).

Pour the pineapple in the bottom of a cake pan. Pour the fruit on top of that. If your fruit is not sweetened, you will need to sprinkle a scoop (about 3/4 cup) on top of the fruit to sweeten it. I would also add sugar to the thickening sauce if not already sweet.  Pour that on top of the fruit.  Again, this cooking step and adding sugar step is unnecessary if using either home canned or store-bought pie filling.
Pour a yellow cake mix on top of all that.  I take 3/4 to 1 stick of butter and cut up over the top.  To make this a shelf stable recipe, reconstitute 1/3 cup or so of butter and dollop it over the top. Bake about 50 minutes at 375*.  I am sorry I don't have a picture of the final dessert to show in all its yummy splendor, but it didn't last long enough for a photo!

Friday, January 21, 2011

GRANNY'S KITCHEN: Homemade Laundry Soap

Out of laundry soap again! Luckily I have all the ingredients on hand to MAKE my own laundry soap!

I usually use FelsNaptha soap, but this time I used a bar of Ivory soap, because my mother had found an OLD one in her cupboard that was turning brown.  I put it on the sink, but noone wanted to use it.  I therefore decided that it could be used in my next batch of laundry soap.  My recipe calls for 1/3 bar of Fels Naptha, but states that you can use a full bar of Ivory instead, which is what I did.
  I took out my big pot so that it would hold the whole batch.  Some people do this in a smaller pot and then transfer to a bucket -- I like to skip that step.  I grated the whole bar of Ivory soap into my big stock pot then added 6 cups of water. I kept it on medium and stirred with a plastic spoon (don't want a soapy taste to get in my wooden ones!!).  Once it was all melted, I added 1/2 cup each of washing soda and borax powder and heated until they were both dissolved.  Once dissolved, I added 26 cups of water and stirred.  I put the lid on it and carried to my laundry room to set overnight. In the morning this will look like egg drop soup.
I will stir in pour up into soap and juice containers that I have saved for this purpose (These are plastic juice containers that have the handle on them).  Once in the smaller bottles, I have a variety of essential oils on hand to add scent (although I often do NOT add scent, as I like the clean, fresh smell of just the soap -- and I think the Ivory will be one I may not add scent to).  BUT, if you wish, I bought some at the $1 shop and some at the health food store.  My scents of choice are lemon, Jasmine, and ocean breeze.  I also have rose oil which smells lovely, but I've decided my whole laundry doesn't need that!  I will put some of that in a smaller bottle of laundry soap to use when washing my lingerie.
When using this, you only need about 1/2 cup (or a little less for front loading machines).  This means that I now have enough laundry soap for at least 64 loads of laundry!!
*I paid NOTHING for the Ivory soap since this was some my mom gave me, but I have found it for .50 and with a coupon, I have paid as little as .25 for Ivory soap. If using Fels Naptha, it runs about $1.30 (and since you need only 1/3 bar of it, you spend about .43 per batch.
*The Borax and Washing Soda cost less than $4/box.. and you only need 1/2 cup. I believe there would be enough for about 16 batches in each box. If that's the case, and IF you had to spend $4/box, that would be about .25 each.
*I paid only $1 for some of my oils (paid more for the Jasmine), and you only need a few drops. If a bottle lasted for only 16 batches, the cost of the scent would be .06
THEREFORE, I just made enough laundry soap for 64 loads of laundry and it only cost me an estimated .56! That's less than .01/load! WOW!! How's that for a thrifty granny?!!

GRANNY'S KITCHEN: Easy Sweet Potatoes

I was in need of a quick side dish to go with hamburgers, but my cupboards were running a bit bare. I did have some canned sweet potatoes and thought I'd make a quick sweet potato pie.

I poured 2 of the cans directly into a round pan. The other can, I drained first then added it.  I put in a handful of sweetened coconut flakes and about 3/4 cup of brown sugar and stirred it altogether. If I had thought about it, I would have put in a bit of butter; and if I'd had any on hand, I would also have added  some chopped pecans.  I covered with a piece of wax paper and microwaved for 3 minutes.

I took the pan out and added the marshmallows (which were all sticky in the bag as they were left from a fall cookout, but they were going to be melted anyway!)..

Once the marshmallows were arranged, I popped back in the microwave for a couple 45 second intervals until the marshmallows were somewhat melted and gooey. It was like a special treat!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


 I absolutely love making these pillowcases!  The top is all done with one seam, then I just serge the sides..
These were Christmas gifts this year..
wish I'd remembered to take a picture of the ones I sent to my sister.. I will have to have her send me a picture to post here..

 I don't know if you can tell, but the pillowcases on the left are chickens and the trim is corn material!! I thought those turned out really cute!!
And these are the dogs pillowcases again. I made these to match the quilt I made for Geary & Vernetta.  The striped fabric I used for the body of the pillowcases is soooo soft!!  I used that fabric on the back of the dog quilt.
Take a peek here to see why I made them a dog quilt!!

Next time I make pillowcases, I will take enough pictures to do a 'how-to' post on my blog.. these are soo easy and fun to make!

Here's a link to my guide to making pillow cases.

GRANNY'S KITCHEN: Spritz Cookies

I have a hand held spritz maker that plunges the cookie dough out the bottom. I have to say that some of these are difficult to get off the spritz maker -- it takes a little practice EVERY TIME you use it!
One trick I've learned is to use COLD cookie sheets because they help stick to the dough and pull it off the spritz maker.

 This is my favorite recipe:
mix 2 cups butter (NOT margarine) and 1 cup sugar and beat until fluffy.  Mix in 1 well beaten egg (I usually use a reconstituted powdered egg from my food storage!) and a tsp of vanilla.  Gradually mix in 4 cups of sifted flour.
And that's IT! How easy is that??? And soo good!

I simply put sprinkles on most of the cookies.  On some of the flower shapes, I put some dried cranberries and some fruitcake mix bits -- the kids thought I ruined them when I did that! LOL
Here is my daughter with glass of milk poured and waiting for the cookies to bake.  It's a wonder I had any left for Christmas!