Follow the candy trail

IMG_1423One of our favorite Christmas traditions is decorating gingerbread houses with friends. It is a day filled with too much sugar, lots of laughs and sticky fingers! This year we constructed our houses the day before which worked out wonderfully. IMG_1435Usually it is difficult to stick heavy candy to a structure that is not yet stable. But our icing recipe set up like concrete, the houses were secure, and the candy stayed where it was supposed to. It was a fabulous day. IMG_1438Our favorite icing recipe is 3T meringue powder, 1# powdered sugar, and 6 T cold water. It is like concrete when it dries. Of course, if you run out of icing, elmer’s glue always works, right Matt?IMG_1440


I guess to be more accurate I should title this post “blanket making”, since I didn’t really have to “piece” anything. But anyhow….

I used the same fabric for the back and binding. Here is the "quilt" laid out and ready for trimming.

I used the same fabric for the back and binding. Here is the “quilt” laid out and ready for trimming.

I have had these tye-dyed fabrics that I made one year at Family Camp and I’ve been waiting for just the right project for them. Feeling inspired one weekend I decided to turn them into quick and easy baby quilts for our highly-anticipated new one. I just used leftover fleece and flannel for the filling, so the project came together quickly. I have a special foot on my sewing machine that lets me freehand stitch and I love the results. No puckers like I struggled with last time! Can’t wait to snuggle a new baby in this hand-stitched, hand-dyed earthy lovliness! IMG_0669

Our art institute

IMG_8906When the heat index is over 100 it drives us inside. And what fun it is to paint in the cool air conditioning. IMG_8902The kids have been practicing with acrylics for about a month. Planning what they would put on their canvases. It’s so permanent. They wanted to be sure to have a good plan before they started. IMG_8987That first brush stroke. It takes courage and is such a great feeling. The freedom to dip and swipe is so relaxing. IMG_8989Their masterpieces turned out wonderful. Each a picture of their own personality.IMG_8986 I’ll show you the finished products another time. I enjoy seeing the look of concentration and imagination on each of the kids faces. IMG_8988

From Albuquerque, with love

IMG_6108These dried, red chile peppers came all the way across the country. Now that’s some love, I tell ya. We have friends that are native to the southwest and miss the red chile sauce that is everywhere down there. Chile. Not to be confused with chili. So, these little beauties trekked all the way across the desert to enhance the eating experience in Kentucky and Tennessee. Wow. I am so glad they did. This red sauce is not like anything I’ve tasted before. Smooth. Rich. A little heat. Flavor. So this is how to make it.IMG_6101Soak the dried peppers in hot water for just a few minutes, maybe 15-20 minutes. Then put the softened peppers in the blender with a bit of water. After blending til smooth, run the paste through the food mill. This gets out any seeds and skins. Now this delicious red concentrate is ready for the freezer or to be made into gravy. IMG_6113 - CopyTo make it into a gravy, add about 1 cup to a roux. A roux is a mixture of flour and fat. You can make a roux with butter, lard, bacon grease, shortening, etc. Mix in some cumin, oregano, salt and garlic powder. Add about 1 cup of water to this mixture and now pour it over enchiladas, over eggs, over potatoes, over chips, over anything you can think of. After mixing up this sauce with a friend I was sent home with a container of this red gold and a package of chile seeds. So if I can grow them in the garden we will have a never ending supply of yumminess. IMG_6103

After the chile lesson, we switched roles and had an informal soap class. A fun morning of learning new things closing with a delicious meal of homemade enchildads smothered in chile sauce! IMG_6080

I’m adopting

No, not a child. But this verse as my inspiration for 2015.

Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.
I would love to be a minimalist. I really would. I would love to have a home like this.

Ok, maybe not the deer head.

Ok, maybe not the deer head.

But, honestly, folks. It ain’t happening. Not in this lifetime. And I need to embrace that. A large family comes with a lot of baggage. A large homeschooling family comes with even more. A large homeschooling, homesteading family comes with even more. Get the drift?  I want an abundant crop, an abundant life! And I want to encourage my children to be creative and successful. And if that means keeping 12 boxes of leather scraps for them to dye, stamp, sew, and craft with. Well, then those boxes will just have to fit into my living room décor. And if Tommy  needs approximately 50 pounds of loose wires, connectors, battery packs, old motors, and led lights to be an inventor? Well, then that will just have to fit into my living room his bedroom décor. I want my kids to feel free to seize any opportunity that comes their way with abandon. I want them to be excited about life. I want them to be comfortable thinking outside the box. And I want all that more than I want a de-cluttered, de-void house. I just have to keep reminding myself of that.


A while back I was ordered to get a pinterest account. I had held off because I thought it might just turn into cyber-clutter. I had browsed around on there before for fresh ideas for all sorts of things, but now I needed to start a board. Jeremie wants me to pin ideas for my dream farmhouse, so he can start drawing up plans. Yeah! And while I was pinning house ideas, all these cute Christmas and winter decoration ideas came up.IMG_5069 This door makes me smile every time I look at it. And these large snowflakes….popscicle sticks. And you all know how much I love red. They are my favorite decoration, so far. Then there are the painted wine bottles with stenciled letters and a glue-on snowflake. Can you handle the cuteness? IMG_5102This is only a fraction of the fun things we have been making.. all inspired by pinterest ideas. And the best thing? I haven’t spent a dime. All the materials have come from my over-stocked craft shelves. Perhaps that’s not something I should brag about… that I am a craft supply hoarder?IMG_5085