Thursday, August 9, 2012

Tomboy Tools!

So one of the things that I do is sell Tomboy Tools.  These are great for the handy woman in your house, the do-it-yourselfer, or any woman who wants to be able to do things!

These make great gifts for the going back to college crowd!

Check out my website:

Here's one of our new products that I just LOVE:

Precision Socket Set
NEW! Our 10-Piece Precision Socket Set features high-quality, Chrome Vanadium 1/4" drive mini flex-head with a comfortable rubber-grip ratchet.  The 72 fine tooth flex-head provides more strength and durability and features a quick release ratchet. Comes with Hex sockets ranging from 3/16" to 1/2" and includes a 1/4" socket adapter.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Cheering up a blah corner

Any blah corner of your property can be cheered up with a few flowers. This corner next to our house has no topsoil, just gravel next to the foundation and fence. I dug out a bit of gravel and added some soil and hollyhock seeds. Leveled the gravel and placed a flat concrete block. A pot planted with flowers... And this is the cheery result!

Monday, August 6, 2012

SUMMER --and lovin' the CSA!

Wow. I didn't realize that it's been this long since I've posted something. Summer has been crazy, with a million things to do.

Greens, Greens, Greens earlier in the summer

But a highlight of our summer for the last three years has been our weekly CSA share! CSA stands for "community supported agriculture". I'd love to be able to grow awesome vegetables but all I seem to produce is a small quantity of tomatoes. Signing up with a local farmer is great.

1) we get fresh local grown chemical free produce
2) I pay in early spring, usually with the tax refund! :)
3) we are supporting local (usually young) farmers!
4) it's a surprise and a challenge every week!

Arugula, tomato, onion salad and honeyed beets, all from our share!

So here's a shout out to our local farmers:  Marci & Greg, you are the best!

This week we had two fennel bulbs in our share.

So tonight's salad was ORANGE, FENNEL & ARUGULA!

Arugula leaves
One orange thinly sliced
Fennel bulb very thinly sliced
3 green onions chopped
1/2 cup almonds, chopped or sliced
3T orange juice
3T olive oil
Salt and pepper

Tear arugula, place in bowl with sliced orange, fennel and green onions. Toast the almonds in the olive oil in a small frypan until slightly brown. Allow to cool. Add orange juice to almond/oil mixture and blend well. Sprinkle veggie/orange mixture with salt and pepper. Pour dressing over and toss.

Sorry - the Hubby ate it before I could take a picture!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

In three hours

From this:

To This:

In three hours.  One of the things I do is coordinate a local food pantry.  It amazes me every week how quickly the food disappears.  It amazes me that in our fairly well off part of Northern Idaho, that 6,450 people are estimated to be "food insecure", and that 53% of those are considered to be living in poverty.

But what amazes me the most is that God makes sure our shelves are filled to bursting again every week.

Next week, it will look like this again:

Like I said - Amazing.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Kitchen herbs

This is my rendition of a little herb garden I saw on Pinterest.    Started with some tin cans, and spray painted them red.  Drilled holes in the bottom for drainage.  After a couple of weeks, I covered all but the top strip with painter's tape. I waited primarily because I was busy, but waiting helps the first coat of paint to cure so that the painter's tape doesn't peel it off.

The next step was to spray-paint the top strip with chalkboard paint.  (Have I mentioned that I'm in LOVE with chalkboard paint?)

After that layer dried, I peeled off the tape, filled the cans with potting soil, and planted herb seeds.  Set in a sunny kitchen window, and watered occasionally, they soon sprouted in the cheery picture at the beginning.  These are almost ready to start using!

Future Food!

Got the computer back up and running, so I have a bunch of posts to get caught up on.  Back in January, I started thinking about the future garden, and all things green.  Our local recycling center quit taking milk cartons, so I started saving them.  I cut off the tops, and saved the bottoms.  It took about two months for us to save enough 1/2 gallon milk cartons, and orange juice cartons for this project.  Of course, there's only two of us, so with a larger family, this would happen faster.

Then the first week of March, I started tomato seedlings (three different varieties) and peppers (two varieties) in Jiffy pellets in a bright window.  By this past Saturday, they looked like this:

Time to transplant!  Using the milk cartons, I started by drilling three holes in the bottom of each:

(And if you want to know where to get the CUTEST little tough pink drill in the whole wide world, check out my Tomboy Tools website at: )

I don't worry too much about the tomatoes getting leggy - since each time you transplant, you can bury the stem up to the leaves.  You can even pinch off a few leaves, and bury more stem.  The tomatoes will grow roots from the stem, and become even more hearty.

Remember to label all your seedlings with the variety.  Of course, you can do this with a Sharpie or even masking tape, but the geek in me has to do this with technology, so out came the Brother P-touch:

I place all the milk cartons on some old lunch trays that I found at a yard sale, and they are sitting on a cool rack found at another sale.  I take them outside on sunny days.  These will probably go into the garden in late May. 

The seedlings have grown about three inches just since I transplanted on Saturday.  Can't wait for the yummy tomatoes and peppers!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Update to Dress a Girl!

A while back, I told you about sewing for others, specifically Dress a Girl around the World.  (see post here)

A team from Resonate Church went to Tijuana over spring break.  I just have to share this picture with you:

She's wearing one of our dresses.  Isn't she a cutie pie?

Want to learn to make sourdough?

A friend of mine has come up with a great new sourdough cookbook.  You can order it from his website, here:

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Simple Sausage, Pasta & Kale

Sometimes you really need a simple recipe.  One that has very few ingredients, and can be made in under 20 minutes.  The other day, we were hungry, I was tired, and this was in the cupboard/refrigerator:

To make the dish, start by boiling water for the pasta.  Our city water smells horribly of chlorine - so thank goodness for the PUR filter we installed:

You can add salt and olive oil to the pasta water as you wish.

Cut the sausage into 1" pieces, and brown the pieces on medium-high heat while the pasta cooks.  I use a wok in order to have enough room for all the ingredients, but a large frying pan works ok, too.  The sausage pieces will resemble little meatballs.

While the sausage is browning, and the pasta is cooking, cut the kale into small pieces.

Before you drain the pasta, keep about 1/2 cup of the pasta water:

Put the kale in with the sausage after it is brown and cooked through.  Stir the kale around until it is bright green throughout, and starting to wilt:

Drain the pasta, (reserving the liquid, above) and add the pasta to the sausage and kale.  Stir in the 1/2 cup of pasta liquid.

Dish up!  Add a bit of parmesan cheese on top if you have it.  Enjoy!

If you don't use all of a package of pasta because your family is small like ours, keep the remainder in glass jars in your pantry.  I use canning jars or cleaned spaghetti sauce jars:

Happy Eating!!!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Legumes Part Deux (Smoky Garbanzo Treats)

Smoky Garbanzo Treats

Dried Garbanzo Beans (Chickpeas)
Chicken Broth or Water
Olive Oil
Smoked Paprika
Dried Parsley

There isn't a lot of measuring to this recipe - so there aren't any amounts listed above.  This is a shoot-from-the-hip type of recipe.

First, put about 2-3 inches of dried garbanzos in the bottom of a crockpot.  Add water or chicken broth (or mixture of both) to within 1 inch of the top of the crockpot.  Add some salt - 1/2 to 1 teaspoon is enough, unless you used chicken broth - then you might not need salt.  Cook on Low all night, or all day, depending on your schedule.

Drain the beans.  You can save the broth for soup or some other culinary wizardry if you want.

Place the beans in a large bowl, and sprinkle with olive oil, coarse salt, dried parsley and generous amounts of Smoked Paprika.  

The Smoked Paprika is the star of this show.  Relatively new to the spice shelves, if you haven't discovered this, you are in for a treat.  i use it for many things, not just this snack recipe.  Baked pork chops are heavenly with a liberal dash of smoked paprika.

Anyway, after you stir up your beans, spread them out in a single layer on a cookie sheet and bake them at 350 degrees until slightly crispy.  You can experiment with how crispy you like your bean snacks.  Some people like them still a little "mushy", some people like them really crispy.  However you do them, they won't last long!

Legume Love (or, cooking with peas, beans and lentils!)

We have all heard how we should be adding more fiber to our diets, cooking with more whole foods, and generally eating better.  One of the easiest and most cost efficient ways to do this is to use whole dried legumes - the dried peas, beans and lentils of the legume family.

I'm going to show you two of my family's favorite legume recipes.  They are easy, yummy, and a great substitute for meat!

Lentil Tacos:

2-3 cups dried lentils
6-9 cups chicken broth
1 medium onion
2 T olive oil
2 T powdered cumin
2 T powdered coriander
1 T paprika (plain)
1 T chili powder
1/2 T dried parsley
1/2 t garlic powder
salt to taste

I like to use Red Chief lentils - they are colorful, and look fresher when cooked.  But any kind of lentils that you can get your hands on will work for this recipe.

First, chop the onion into medium sized bits, and saute it in olive oil until tender:

Next, add the spices to the onions.  Yes, you read right.  It is 2 TABLESPOONS of each spice.  You want this recipe to pack a serious taste punch.

Stir the spices in with the onion until very fragrant.  Add the dried lentils, and stir around:

Add the chicken broth, stir, and cover.  Turn down the heat and simmer until done.

The rule of thumb is three parts liquid to one part lentils.  So you can adjust the recipe to how many people you are feeding.  Check the lentils every 10 minutes or so, and add more liquid (it can be water at this point if you are out of chicken broth) if the lentils are still not quite soft.  It should take about 45 minutes for the lentils to be thoroughly cooked.

Use this mixture as taco meat.  My favorite tacos have soft corn tortillas warmed on the gas burner and charred a bit, with lettuce, peppers, cheese and a bit of lime:


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Bragging on my girls!

So I have to show you a really cool project that my girls did.  This was my granddaughter's third birthday cake!  She's madly into sharks, hence the theme:

The top layer was little animals in sand (crushed graham crackers) and the bottom two layers were sharks of varying kinds.

And -- All Hail the (cutest!) Birthday Princess:

Happy Birthday from Grandma!!!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

So I promised that I would give recipes for all my cleaners during January - Oh well.  Best laid plans and all that.

 Here is a recipe for Homemade Dishwasher Detergent that actually works:

1 part citric acid
2 parts baking soda
2 parts borax

Mix the ingredients together - you can stir in a bowl, or just put all the ingredients together in a plastic lidded container container and shake.  Use 1 Tablespoon per load.

I purchase citric acid at our local food co-op, but it is a bit pricey there.  You can purchase it on-line much cheaper.  Just be sure to get food-grade citric acid.

OK, I'll have to confess.  I took the picture above so that you would think our home is all posh and fancy.  Well, the reality is that the dishwasher detergent lives in this container:

Happy Cleaning!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

January's over -- Let it Bud!

Did you know that January is a four-letter word?  And Happy New Year is a cuss word?  Well, it is to those of us who are payroll practitioners.  Quarterly Reports, Year-end Payroll Reports, W-2's, 1099's, reconciliations.  AARRGGHH!  Multiply the numerous required governmental filings times several clients, and you'll begin to see why my hair has been standing on end lately.  Cabin fever at its best!

For Christmas and January, I had this as the centerpiece of our table, actually hoping for snow as we hadn't had any:

"Let it Snow" indeed!  What was I thinking? We received most of our winter snow in two days - two feet in two days.  Now, a couple of weeks later, it still looks like this outside:

So it was high time to change the centerpiece.  Luckily, I have a wonderful red twig dogwood bush that constantly needs pruning.  Combining several clipped branches, some glass marbles, and a vase with water - and you have, Voila:

These will bud out, and start to grow some leaves in just a couple of weeks.  It's a fun, free way to get spring before spring wants to come outside!

Let it Bud!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Sewing for Others

I have a pile of projects on my sewing table waiting to be finished - but it seems that the ones that get done are the projects for others.

Recently, our Women's Ministry at our church has been sewing "pillowcase dresses" for underprivleged girls.  Anyone can make these, and ship to the charity who distributes them.  Patterns and instructions are at:  Here are some of our recent creations:

Another thing I've sewn lately was a comfort quilt for a friend who recently had cancer surgery.  This idea was not mine - it was a brilliant brainwave of another friend.  We whipped this up quickly with scraps from my pile, and used fabric markers to write cheery messages, prayers and Bible verses to comfort our friend.

This quilt is just lap size.  Here's hoping that it will help keep her warm, and remind her of how many people are praying for her when we can't be there.

There are many things that can be sewn for others, and several charities that accept items.  So keep your sewing machines busy!

Monday, January 16, 2012

A little something from the desk this time....


If I see any more of THESE:

I think I might just run screaming down the highway.

Just sayin'

More about cleaners in a few days when I get the W-2's cleared off my desk!

Hang in there, people.  January will soon be over.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Baking Soda Dispenser

Baking soda can be used for multiple cleaning uses around the kitchen sink.  If your dishes get weird scratches on them, a little bit of baking soda wiped on the scratches can take them off.  The stubborn stains from tomato products can be removed the same way.  Scrubbing pots and pans is easier with a bit of baking soda. 

But somehow, reaching for the box that's in the baking cupboard doesn't seem real sanitary to me, so I made this cute dispenser for the baking soda.  This is a small 1/2 pint canning jar with lid.

To make your own dispenser, take the flat portion of the lid, and lay it on an old 2x4 or other thick piece of wood.  Drill a few holes in the lid with a 1/8" drill bit.  You can lay the holes out in a pattern, or just scatter them randomly on the lid.  Buff the edges of the holes with steel wool to get any shavings off.

Fill the jar with baking soda, and shake away!