Monday, August 27, 2012

My experince with a retractable clothesline...

My husband is pretty tall.  When I first mentioned a clothesline, he said no.  He didn’t want to ‘clothesline’ himself on it while he was mowing the grass.  Then we found at 40 foot retractable clothesline from Household Essentials in our local Menards store (I’ve also seen it at True Value Hardware and   With the help of my Mom we calculated that if we used it once a day for 2 months, it would pay for itself.  Why not try it out?  It was easy to install.  It was a little challenging finding a sunny, bird’s nest free, and 40 ft long spot in my back yard to hang it.  It’s fairly easy to use.  There is a spot where you double loop the line to keep it from becoming too slack that could use a little improvement.  The line is often so slack once I put clothes on it that my dog can’t walk under it.  I can hang an entire average sized laundry load on it if the line is stretched to its full length.  I’ve only been using it for about 5 weeks, so I can’t tell you how durable it is yet.  I do not know how I would replace the line inside the retractable casing when the line becomes damaged.  I think I would buy it on sale again for the $9.99 that I paid for it, but I don’t know if I would have paid the full $25 price.  

Faith Like a Child

1 Corinthians 13:12-13 NIV
12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 

I’ve always been a little offended by the phrase ‘faith like a child’.  It seems like an insult to my intelligence, as if God is asking me to blinding accept everything that comes into my life.  Recently a friend of mine said that she doesn’t believe in a loving and omnipotent God because she sees (and experiences) so much pain in the world.  Wow, can I relate!  I don’t know why children die.  I don’t know why children are abused.  I don’t know why marriages fall apart.  I don’t have the answers to all these questions.  Hurtful things have come into my life but I do not know how I would survive without His love and friendship buoying me up.  I can share with you some of the nuggets that I have gained while the Lord has walked with me through dark places.  I can tell you about the sweetness of knowing that no matter how much someone hurts me, Christ knows how that feels because of how He was wounded on the cross.   Sometimes I feel abandoned, but when I looks back later I can see that He was with me, sustaining me.  When a hole is left in my life by the death of a friend (or a relationship), God fills that hole either with a new relationship or with a new richness in my relationship with Himself.  I can’t say that I have blind faith.  I do question God.  I don’t always understand why things happen the way they do.  But I have become convinced of this, God loves me.  He will work it all out in the end, somehow.  That’s what ‘faith like a child’ looks like to me.  

Thursday, August 16, 2012

How to cook 4 pounds of ground beef in a slow cooker without doing much work...

I love my slow cooker.  This big one can cook 4-5 pounds of raw ground beef in a few hours.  Then I can freeze it in one pound portions for quick suppers.  So, here's how I do it:

Step 1: Spray the inside of the ceramic crock with a nonstick oil.  You will thank me for this step when you have to clean the crock later.
Step 2: Put in the ground beef and season it.  You will want to add about 1/2 cup of liquid to it to help the slow cooker do it's thing.  We had leftover wine, so I used it up. 
Step 3: Put on the lid and crank up the heat to high.  This 4 pounds of thawed beef took about 3 hours to cook.
Step 4: You will need to stir the ground beef every 45 min or so.  If you do not, you will end up with a single lump of beef (like meatloaf) instead of ground beef.
Step 5: The beef is done when it's brown through and through.  I usually use a slotted spoon to scoop out the beef and put it in zip lock bags (IDK why there is a ladle in the crock in the picture).  Then I freeze the bags.  You will have a cup or two of very yummy beef broth in the crock.  Freeze it and use it in another recipe. 

Happy Short Cut to Dinner

Less time in the kitchen means more time for family fun!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Beans The Musical Fruit AKA Refried Beans in the Slow Cooker

Today I'm going to show you how I make refried beans in the slow cooker.  I have a little helper assisting me today.  I'm going to use 1 pound of dried beans, a big bowl for rinsing, a colander, water, nonstick cooking spray, my big 5 quart Crock Pot, inversion blender, and some seasonings.
First we need to rinse the beans.  I like to do this by placing the colander inside the bowl, pouring the beans into the colander, and then adding the water.  This way I don't have to pour the beans and water mixture through the colander.  I just lift the beans and colander out of the water.  While you're rinsing, check for any pebble or dirt lump imposters trying to hide in the beans.
If you're smart and you plan ahead (and I didn't) you will let these beans soak in this bowl with about 6 cups of water overnight.  This will greatly reduce your cooking time.  If you didn't plan ahead (like me) then you will skip this step.
Now we prepare the crock by spraying the inside with nonstick stuff.  I think the best option would be to use some olive oil in one of those re-usable cooking spray bottles to avoid the propellants in this canned stuff.  You will thank me for this step later when you have to clean the crock. 
Pour the beans and 6 cups of water into the sprayed slow cooker.  Crank that baby up to high and put on the lid.  I recommend that you check it every hour just to make sure that there is enough water to cover the beans.  The beans won't soften and cook if they dry out.  If you planned ahead and soaked the beans overnight, you will only cook them for a couple of hours.  If you didn't, like me, then you will need to cook them for 4-5 hours.
The beans are done when they are soft and smushy.  Now you have a decision to make: do I want my beans to be creamy and fatty or slightly less creamy and no added fat?  If you want them creamy, pour off a little water and add in a couple tablespoons of softened butter, olive oil, or for the traditionalist, melted lard.  If you don't want the fat, leave it the way it is.
Time to season!  I put 2 tablespoons of taco seasoning and 1 teaspoon of sea salt in this batch.  This is pretty bland.  My 5 yo doesn't like spicy food.  You can season it to your own preference.  It's important though that you wait to season until the beans are done cooking.  If you add salt to beans before they are finished, it will cause them to become tough.
This is where your inversion blender comes in very handy.  You're going to use it to reach refried bean texture perfection.  If you want your beans smoother and you feel like you've plateaued with the blender, try adding a tablespoon or two of water or oil and then blend again.  I try to clean the blender right away so I don't have to scrub off dried-on bean guts. 
Our little demonstration had made about 3 pounds of refried beans.  That's way more than I need for my recipe.  I'm going to freeze half of them for a month until I'm making Mexican food again.  They do freeze and thaw well.  If the thawed texture looks a little off, just give them a quick mix-up with the inversion blender.

Happy Cooking and Happy Eating!

Sunday, June 10, 2012


Bubbles!  We love playing with bubbles.  When I give bubbles to a young child, I give them only the very small bottles that are given out at weddings.  Why do I do this?  Well, the toddler does not understand gravity.  She will pour most of the bubble liquid all over herself and the ground.  When I see that she can handle the small bottle, it's then that I give her the regular size bottle of bubbles. 

Luke 16:10 NIV "Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much."

I've always seen this verse applied to finances, but I think God uses this principle in other areas of life.  Want more friends?  I need to be faithful at caring for the friends that I have now.  Do I want more patience, wisdom, and strength?  Then I need to be faithful to use the little that I have.   

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Can you teach an old dog a new trick?

This post isn't really about dogs.  Sorry to disappoint you ;-)  You can see a photo of our dog at the bottom on the post.  His name is Fonzy.

I wish I could show you a video of our dog doing this trick that I'm about to describe, but unfortunately, our dog is not that well trained.  I'm sure that you have seen a dog owner place a dog treat on his/her dog's muzzle.  The well trained dog patiently waits for the owner's command to eat the treat.  Why does the dog wait?  If he does not wait for the command, he gets to eat the treat.  If he waits for the command, he gets to eat the treat.  So, what motivates the dog to wait?  The dog wants to please his master.  If he waits, he not only gets to eat the treat but he also gets a "That a boy" from the owner. 

I feel like that dog.  God had put a treat on my nose.  He's asking me to patiently wait for His timing to eat the treat.  I do not want to wait!  I want to gobble up that treat.  There's only one thing that I want more than the treat and that's to please my Jesus.  It's so difficult to learn some self-control! 

Isaiah 40:31
"but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." NIV

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Using a Wool Wash Bar on Delicate Wool

This method is better for cleaning delicate merino and blue faced lancashire wools.  It is simple with fewer steps.  It will also work well for cleaning wool that isn't very dirty or for that first lanolizing on a new piece of wool.  Felting is caused by agitating the wool fibers in warm water.  Please use cool or cold water when washing your wool.  Allow it it air dry.  Avoid scrubbing with a lot of friction.  The wool wash bar used here is my own Carver Creations bar.

1) Turn the wool inside out. 
2) Rinse the wool in cold tap water.  Swish to remove the urea salts from the fibers.  Pour out the rinse water.
 3) Put an inch or two of hot water in the bottom of your wash basin.  Drop in the wool wash bar.  You need enough hot water to cover the wool wash bar.  Do not allow the hot water to get on the  wool.  Let the wool wash bar sit in the hot water for a while.  Go do something else and come back when the water is nice and cloudy.  I made smoothies for my kids while this was soaking.
4) After soaking for several minutes, remove the wool wash bar from the hot (now warm) water.  Add cold water to the hot/warm soapy water until there is enough wash water to immerse the wool.  The end wash water should feel cool or cold to the touch. 
5) Gently swish and squish your wool in this water to clean it.  Feel free to allow it to soak in the wash water for a few minutes.  If you let hand-dyed wool soak for more than 10 minutes, it will probably bleed dye into the wash water.
6) Spin out the wool in a washing machine.  This needs to be spin only, no water should be added to the machine basin or agitation by the center agitator.  Remove wool promptly after the spin cycle has completed.  Wool left in the machine may be forgotten and felted with the next load of laundry. 
7) Air dry.  Normally I lay the wool flat across the top of my drying rack, but this time the rack was too crowded.  Hanging wool may cause it to stretch.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Note to Self

A recent conversation with a friend reminded me of topic that I had read about in the past.  I found this blog post about the topic and I wanted to pin it for future reference.  Of course, when I went to pin it, Pinterest told me that it didn't have an image to pin.  So, here you go Pinterest, here's an image, so I can pin this blog post and have the link to the article on my boards. 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Using a Wool Wash Bar on Heavily Soiled Wool

This method is great for wool that is really dirty.  It's also great for wool that toddlers or heavy wetters wear.  It removes urine more effectively than swishing in liquid wool wash.  I want to add a note about felting.  Felting is caused by heat, agitation, and water.  So please, while following these steps use cool or cold water and be gentle.  Scrub lightly without using a lot of pressure.  

The woolies used in these photos are interlock from Wild Child Woolies.  The wool wash bar used is my own Carver Creations bar.  It contains lanolin and a touch of lavender essential oil to ward off the moths.

1) Examine the outside of the woolies for any soil: dirt, mud, food, poo...  Dampen the spots of filth with cool water.  Lightly scrub at the gunk with the wool wash bar.

 2) Turn the woolies inside out.  Inspect the inside of the wool.  Clean any soiled spots of the inside just like you cleaned the outside.  

3) Fill the sink or bowl with cool water.  Rinse the woolies.  Swish and swirl.  Pour out the used water.

4) Gently scrub the wetness zone with the wool wash bar.  (Don't leave the bar of soap in the bowl for step 5.)

5) Fill the bowl/sink with fresh, cool water.  Swish and swirl the wool around to dissolve the lather into the water.  The water should be nice and cloudy. At this point you can allow them to soak for 5-10 min.

6) Dump the wool into the washing machine.  Turn it onto spin only (no agitation or added water).  Spin the excess water out of the wool.  This step cuts drying time.  Make sure you remove the wool from the machine immediately after it stops spinning.  You don't want to forget about it and add laundry on top.

7) Turn the wool right side out.  Air dry.  I like to lay them flat on the top level of a drying rack.

Happy Washing

Friday, May 4, 2012


Last night was one of those nights.  Phoenix went to sleep cranky and with a fever.  She woke up crying at about 1:45 am.  She was awake for over an hour before we could get her back to sleep.  This is a coffee morning!  Notice the coffee pot buried behind dirty dishes.  I'm sure that you know what is in the dishwasher.  That's right - clean dishes.  What will motivate me to put away those clean dishes and load the dirty ones?  My desperate need for coffee.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Pricing for Knit and Crochet Wool Diaper Covers

YYMH - Your Yarn, My Hook (Crochet) 

Longies: Small $18, Med $20, Large $25
Shorties and soakers: Small $13, Medium $15, Large $17
Capris and Board Shorts: Small $15, Medium $17, large $19
Skirties: Small $18, Med $20, Large $24.
Additional inch over the maximum inseam at any size $1/inch.
Design work on YYMH will vary in cost depending on what you want so I'll say $0-5 extra.
My crochet pattern is my own design. It's done in tight single crochets with a booty flat to fit over cloth diapers and a gusset for ease of movement.

YYMN - Your Yarn, My Needle (Knit) 

Longies: Small $20, Med $25, Large $30
Shorties and Soakers: Small $14, Medium $17, Large $20
Capris and Board Shorts: Small $17, Medium $20, large $24
Skirties: Small $20, Med $22, Large $26.
Note: I usually do a crochet skirt over a knitted soaker. I prefer the lacy look of a crochet skirt.
Additional inch over the maximum inseam at any size $1/inch.
Design work, ruffles, cargo pockets on YYMN will vary in cost depending on what you want so I'll say $0-10 extra.
 I am a licensed Sheepy Time Knitter.

These prices do not include shipping.

Use My Yarn

I have piles of yarn available at very reasonable prices. Please as about pricing using my yarn. It ranges from $5/skein up to $15/skein.

 Airplane shirt by nimblephish

Saturday, January 21, 2012

After Bath Oil

If you are sensitive to dyes and preservatives in body care products, you might consider using an after bath oil to moisturize your skin instead of a lotion. Lotion is an emulsion of water and oil. The mixing of oil and water creates an environment ripe for bacteria. It takes preservatives to prevent unfriendly guests from invading your moisturizer. Avoid the need for preservatives by avoiding the mixture. I must warn you that any oil in the bath will make you very slippery until it absorbs into your skin, so be careful. The idea here is to use light oils that quickly absorb into skin. I measure by weighing the oils into my container, but you could measure by volume. One ounce of oil has the volume of about two tablespoons.

2.5 oz Safflower Oil
2.5 oz Extra Virgin Olive Oil (if you can find it, extra-extra virgin would be even better)
1 oz Sunflower Oil
1 oz Jojoba Oil (You can substitute apricot kernel oil or sweet almond oil or just leave the jojoba out.)
.10 oz Vitamin E Oil (Open up a few capsules of vitamin e supplements)
10 drops of your favorite essential oil (optional)

I pour the ingredients into an 8 oz bottle, put the lid on, and shake well. Apply a thin layer to your skin after you towel off. It should absorb quickly. I put it in a spray bottle, but it doesn't spray out in a fine mist, it comes out in a stream. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Decluttering: A New Project for a New Year

I've decided to simplify our possessions. I'm tired of spending so much of my precious time managing stuff. I want to spend more time enjoying my family. Plus, we hope to move this year. I've decided to employ this awesome calender in my efforts. Here's what I have done with a few of the de-cluttered items:

Bean Bags made out of expired beans in the pantry and some fabric scraps. Check out some cool bean bag games here

Mocha mix made from coffee creamer, instant coffee, and hot cocoa mix hidden in the pantry. I used this recipe

Dosed our liquid hand soap with a tablespoon or two of expired vanilla to make some wonderful smelling bubbles. Hasn't stained our vanity top, but if you had a more porous surface, it might discolor.

Made play dough with old salt and Kool-aid from the pantry. Molded it into a volcano. Erupted the volcano with old baking soda and vinegar from the pantry. Even the baby loved this one. Find the play dough recipe here

I'm so excited to see what the next few weeks bring us in the wild world of decluttering.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Bogner Missing Toe

Families have genetic markers: detached ear lobes, tall foreheads, pug noses... Almost everyone in the family, no matter how little they look alike or how distantly related, will show that characteristic. In my family we have a wide gap between our first toe and the other four toes. The gap is so large that it appears we have one toe missing. It seems to be pretty dominate too. Most of my cousins have it. My son has it. It's a genetic marker that's been passed on threw hundreds of generations. I've been thinking about it lately. My ancestors lived their lives hundreds of years ago. They wrote about their lives or others wrote for them. They interacted with friends and community members. Now time has erased their names from history. But this little piece of them remains, the Bogner missing toe. That's neat to think about. When time has moved me into antiquity and scrambled our language to the future generations, some little memories of me will still remain in the genetic traits that I leave behind to my children and my children's children, and their children...