Cuckoo Buds 3 Column

Monday, October 31, 2011

Brag Book

Can you believe,  from empty toilet paper rolls to a Brag Book!
When I first heard about this I thought, crazy!  What will we think of next?  I'd forgotten all about this little book until I read one of the blogs I follow and she was asking about what we'd done in the last year we were proud of, and, I must admit, this is one of those things!
It was so, so easy to make.  Step one - use and save toilet paper rolls.  Hmm - that's easy!  Step two - smash rolls in half.   Also - very easy!  Ok - let's cut the steps, but this is so easy, I did it in no time at all, I mean - maybe a total time of 2 to 3 hours.  Really!!!  The most time consuming part is collecting the toilet paper rolls, depending on how many live in your home!  he he he!

I cut the paper to the size of the roll, ran it through the Xyron, (or use tape or paper glue) carefully wrap around and I put the seam down the middle of the back side.   Trim as needed, you do want this to look neat.  I made a total of five.  These end up being pockets. Then I used my Zutter Bind-It-All (or punch holes manually and use rings or ribbon to hold together) and finished this part.

Next comes filling the pockets and decorating the outside pages.  This was for a friend who was a first time Grandma.  She was so excited!  So, with all that excitement, I gathered all of the information to personalize this just for her!
10 Little Fingers
10 Little Toes, A Pretty Little Smile
A Cute Button Nose
This Adorable Baby Girl
Next came making the pocket cards.  I used a piece of card stock cut just a bit smaller than would fit in, AND this is because I adhered two additional pieces of paper to match the front and back of the pages and wanted room for the photos without them popping off every time she showed her off!   (I wanted everything to match - so when she pulled it out from either side it matches the pocket - just me - you get to decorate any way you like!)  I then punched a hole in each at 3/8" intervals so the ribbons were all easily shown off.
Ribbons on the binding, three little hearts and a pretty little bow - and how perfect was this paper to have Sweet Baby Girl printed right on it!  And, since I only used half a sheet for this pocket, I used the other half that conveniently matched the front of this perfectly for the box I made for this to be carried in!

I also enclosed a roll of double sided tape for her - and it didn't take long for her to fill it and begin her new life as Grandma!

I believe my most blessed part of life has been being a Grandma.  I love every moment.  I love every one of them.  They each hold a precious part of my heart.  I once was asked, "which one is your favorite?"  And not even a stutter, "each one is my favorite - my first born, my name sake, my grandson who will carry our family name, my first granddaughter, and my wee one - the one who will always be my baby as she is the last one!"  Just as each of my children hold that perfect place in my heart.  I love them all, each equally, each is different, each is loved dearly!

Tomorrow, November 1st, is All Saints Day on the Christian calendar.  My little wee one, Leila, was chosen from her class to represent Saint Anne, Patron Saint of Grandparents - how absolutely fitting to me!

Many blessings,

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Great Giveaway From a Friend of a Friend!

I love finding ladies who love doing some of the same things I love because we have so much we can teach each other, encourage each other, and just chit chat - literally any time of the day or night!  We share so many things - our children and grandchildren, our homes and gardens, our hobbies, health issues, our dreams.  We laugh and pray and cry with each other.

One of the greatest things about blogging is meeting new friends!  I've been blessed this week by meeting new friends, friends of friends, and learning more about them!  Marjie, of "She Who Stamps & Scraps" is someone I met this morning.  She has a great giveaway and she'd like others to know about it, too.  I met Marjie through another new friend, Cindy Adkins, who created this Halloween Giveaway blog button for her.One of the things I'm still learning about is linking, so please link Marjie's blog here if you'd to enter the giveaway.

Enjoy the last day of October, because I don't know about you, but when November 1st rolls around, it seems as though the last two months of the year fly by!

Blessings, Donna

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Two of My Favorite Things!

I love cooking and baking!  I always have.  I also do most everything from scratch.  When I learned I was allergic to egg yolks, molds (which includes mushrooms, fermented sauces and the like,) and have terrible reactions to preservatives, along with my Sweeties allergy to beef and his being very lactose intolerant (not even able to cook with milk or cream) over 10 years ago, I have written many of my own recipes for the foods we love and enjoy eating the most.  And yes, it makes going out to eat very difficult!

This year I was introduced to baking sour dough bread by our oldest son.  Since then, I haven't bought a loaf of bread, except one loaf of Rye (when mine didn't come out right!) and hamburger buns on occasion.

Here's what I wanted to share!!!
Beautiful Burger Buns (KAF recipe)

These are made with a recipe from King Arthur Flour (an employee owned corporation) and they came out fantabulous!!!  The only change I made was I used 2 egg whites and discarded the yolks.  I will be making these buns a lot for hamburgers and sandwiches.  I may try making them in to sandwich rolls next time - mmmm.  They were so soft and light, but not full of air holes like the store brand.

Another of my, well our, favorite things is watching  hummingbirds fly around our yard.  We have two feeders up from April until the cold sets in here, usually between October and November.  We feed hundreds of birds going through a minimum of 1/2 gallon of sugar water every day! 

My sweetie replaced my camera today and I took a couple of quick photos this evening of our birds.  I'd love to share with you how clear this came out!  I will be taking many, many more in the next couple of weeks as we are coming to the end of our bird season.  This is through our living room window, and it is tinted for the sun - but I was so excited they were coming out so clearly. 

I will get out and watch them from my bedroom patio next week - we're supposed to get some rain in a few days and we literally have 50 or more birds trying to feed at any one time.  We bought feeders that allow birds to stop and perch while they feed, and when it's raining or very foggy, they will sit 2 to a perch and share, with others waiting their turns sitting on the fence rails, the bushes, atop of the poles and just flying around to have a drink of nectar.

Thank you for taking a look at my bread and our birds!  I wish you a very blessed Sunday!

Blessings, Donna

Friday, October 28, 2011

I Love Crocheting!

And, I love crocheting afghans.  I try to make a different one each time, this way everyone receives something a bit different.  As I was making this one, my grandson would tell me, "My favorite color is green, Grandma.  Did you know that!?"  All the while he thought it was for someone else.
I finished this during the month of October, last year.  His birthday is in November - and it came and went with no gift of an afghan. 

Christmas came around, and usually we buy the kids clothes, so when he picked this box up and began to shake it, "yup," he thought, "clothes..."

He was quite surprised when his nice, toasty warm, favorite color afghan was in the Macy's clothes box! 

This was a very simple Granny Square stitched in a rectangle.  I think the original pattern was from Red Heart, and in different shades of blues.  If you're interested in making one, send a quick message and I can you simple pattern instructions!  Really easy peasy!

This is our Grandson Jeff, who turns 18 in just a couple of weeks!  Where does time go so fast!  It seems we just held him in our arms at the hospital when he was born!  Ahh, time!

Have a blessing weekend!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Love Blooms in Grandma's Garden

I love making cards and scrapbook layouts.  My sweet daughter introduced me to making cards and scrapping several years back when she became a consultant with one of the big home sales stamping companies.  And we've come a long way baby!  It use to be we cut the paper and slapped on some embellishments and wrote on the card.  Then, stamps - love the cling on stamps with the acrylic blocks you can see through!  A rainbow of inks, pads and pens, now sprays and paints, glitter and embossing mediums - we have just about everything!  I say "just about" because every time I think we have it all, something new comes out!

I love my Cricut Expression! When these machines came out it, endless possibilities came with it - but let's just do a bit of show and tell.  There are some marvelous teachers who have blogs for all of our hobbies.  My favorites are the hobbies I love to do - crocheting, polymer clay, sewing, card making and scrapping ...
2 pages for the boys
I was fortunate enough to win a prize from Monique Griffin designs ~ a two 12"x12" page layout kit called "In Bloom."

2 pages for the girls
The kit included all of the paper, embellishments and directions for use with my Cricut and A Child's Year cartridge (not included in kit.)
I prefer using 9"x9" books, so I did a bit of extra cutting and came up with a few changes (which I shared with Monique.)  There was more than enough of everything to make the four 9x9 pages instead of two 12x12's.

Thanks for taking a peak!  What ever your hobby is, there are so many wonderful ladies willing to share their talents with us!

It's a great time to start making our Christmas Cards!  Or are you like me and wait until the last minute!?  I have promised myself and my sweetie I'm going to start right away!  I'll post when I do!


Friday, October 21, 2011

Happy Birthday to - - - -

During the last three or so months of the year, we celebrate the birthdays of all of our grandchildren, beginning with our oldest grandson Ryan, who turned 21 around the end of September.  October is Elise, now 9, Isaac, turned 11, and today, my sweetie's special day.  November brings both my son, Jeffrey, and grandson, Jeffrey, who will be 18.  December will be our youngest granddaughter's, Leila, 6th birthday just a bit before we celebrate the birth of our precious Lord, Jesus.

I had the opportunity to spend several days with my youngest three last week and we had so much fun.
Isaac's wish came true for his birthday!   He received the latest Apple device that has all of the latest and greatest apps.  Mom made him this really cool cake when Dad took him and a group of his friends out to dinner and a show "Real Steel," a robot movie.
My Daughter in law is very creative at making the cupcake cakes and decorated cup cakes.  This was actually made from box mix to finished cake in less than 4 hours.  Not bad at all!  The picture doesn't do the cake decorating any justice!  Here's a better photo - -

OK - This is a bit better!  The kids were really surprised when they came home from the movie and saw the robot.  Actually, I think all they really saw at this point was more SUGAR!!!  And, did they leave the tray shaking!!!  One little cupcake was all that was left after they were finished!
The week before Elise celebrated with a sleepover with several friends and they all decorated their own cupcakes.  All of the girls had so much fun creating their own "signature designs!"

So, this year we had the two eldest turn 21 and 18 - both milestone birthdays, and the three youngest 11, 9 and soon to be 6.  Time flies by ~ so whether you are celebrating children's or your grandchildren birthdays, be sure to have a great time and enjoy the memories.

Many blessings and best wishes to all having birthdays,

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Cranberry Orange Bread (no egg yolks)

One of our favorite sweet breads during the holidays is my Cranberry Orange Bread.  It took me countless attempts to get this recipe darn near perfect!  I'm talking a couple of years, honestly.  No yolks is the reason.  Since I'm allergic to egg yolks, baking can be a problem.  Without boring you to no end, just believe me when I say, "It is finally fit for a King!"  At least my King, and Princes, and Princesses!
I serve this all year when we have the desire, but during the holidays it's a must!  We have it for company, give it as gifts with homemade jams, or just because.  I love scratch cooking and baking, so for me, it's no big deal to get a loaf of bread going!  I love, love, love cooking and baking!

I'm taking a couple of loaves to my little wee ones when I visit later this week.  Kids love this bread, little kids, big kids, all kids!  It's as yummy as it looks here - big, scrumptious, juicy cranberries, orange zest and pulp in the juice - it's so good just like this, or with a little butter, or cream cheese - oh my - mmmmm, really good!

Like I said it took many years and lots of failed attempts, but I finally got it down, and I'd love to share it with you!

Cranberry Orange Bread
2 cups flour **                             1 cup orange juice*
1 cup oats                                   1 Tbsp orange zest
1 cup sugar                                 1/3 cup oil
1/2 tsp baking soda                      4 egg whites
1/2 tsp baking powder                  1 cup chopped
1/2 tsp salt                                      cranberries***
***If you cannot find any fresh, or don't have any frozen on hand, purchase the dried ones (I've used Ocean Spray brand) and soak them for about an hour or so in warm water.  Drain, chop and use as above. 
Measure a heaping cup of whole berries, frozen or fresh, and rinse - leave in colander until noted below. 
Also - do not thaw frozen berries before rinsing and chopping or they will become a soggy, red mess.
**I use bread flour or King Arthur All Purpose flour.
*I use 1 orange for zest and juice, then fill the cup with regular orange juice.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, grease and flour bottom of one standard loaf pan or 4 mini loaf pans.

In a large bowl, add all dry ingredients together and mix well.

In a smaller bowl, whisk egg whites.  Add orange juice, zest and oil, and whisk all together.
Add wet ingredients to large bowl of dry ingredients, and stir until well mixed.
Set aside and chop berries in food processor (or chopper if you don't have a food processor) until berries are chopped NOT MINCED.  Add directly to bowl and fold in gently, but thoroughly.  Dough should not be red, just see berries mixed, so don't over mix.
Pour in to pan(s) and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes (45 to 50 minutes for mini pans.)
Allow to cool for 15 minutes in pan, turn out and continue cooling. 
Slice, serve and mmm mmmm enjoy!!
A chunk of Heaven!!!

Just a side note - - - when cranberries come in to the supermarkets, I buy bags and bags of them, and throw them directly in to the freezer.  Don't wash them before hand, don't take them out of the bag, don't put a second bag around them.  Just as you buy them from the grower, they are made to go directly into the freezer, if so desired.  And, do I ever!  Usually 10 bags, if I can find that many!  How long do they last - well I've heard tell that it's that magical one year, like most things.  But this year, I am using my 2009 berries.  I had to make mine last as long as I could because last year my supermarket didn't get many in, and the restaurants got in before I did and well - I have really had to stretch mine.

Fresh cranberries are only available for a few short weeks a year.  Then they are gone again until the following year.  The reason?  Well, besides being the time of year for harvesting them, most are purchased by large companies who dry them, and/or mix them in to the yummy granola and cereal products we love so much, which quite honestly leave precious few for us who love to cook with them fresh, not dried.

Please, if you have any questions, just send me an email, or leave a message hear and I'll do my best to answer.  Cooking is such a joy, so don't struggle with something and get discouraged!

I'd love to know if you've tried this, so drop a note!

Many blessings,

**My recipes are published, so please respect my hard work with any I list and don't take credit as your own.