Friday, December 31, 2010

Yummy, Yummy Lasagna

Thought I would share my lasagna recipe. We've had lasagna for Christmas Eve dinner for several years. At a time when I'm still frantically wrapping presents (and even MAKING some!), having an "easy" dinner is a lifesaver! Team it with a nice "Olive Garden" style salad and some garlic bread, and everyone's happy! Can't remember where I got the "base" recipe from, but after several tweakings, it's not much like the original anyways.


½ pound dry lasagna noodles
½ pound Italian sausage
1 pound ground beef, extra lean
½ cup shopped onion
½ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon Italian seasoning
¼ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon anise seed
2 tablespoons tomato paste (hint: store remainder in a baggie in the freezer for next time!)
½ teaspoon oregano
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
1 pound cottage cheese
¾ pound Mozzarella cheese, grated
½ cup Parmesan cheese (divided)

Cook lasagna according to pkg directions and drain. Brown ground beef with onions. Drain, if necessary. Add spices, tomatoes, tomato paste, sauce and 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese (this helps the sauce thicken). Simmer 20 minutes.

In a large casserole, layer the ingredients in 3 layers. Bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes (uncovered).

Salad and Garlic Bread:

Chowing down...out of the many pics I took that evening, most of them showed Adam's "finger-extension syndrome." Poor Adam. Must be tough to have to live life with that middle finger always sticking straight out. Har har.....
Again....with the Meatless Manicotti I made for his girlfriend, who is a vegetarian. Sigh...I guess all I can do is pray that someday, someone will discover a cure for his disfiguring ailment...

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Making Dishwashing (Almost) Fun!

Our dishwasher hasn't worked in almost 12 years...and since the Dishwashing Elves don't come in the night (damn then!), I wind up doing all the dishes by hand. But since I made my first dish-drying mat awhile ago, I haven't minded so much. But I really needed a spare, so I could leisurely wash the first one. So after all the Christmas sewing, my first project was to make another. And here it is! (Pay no attention to the "avacado green" sink - at least it's the only remaining fixture/appliance that color - we've replaced all the others!)
I used 2 1/2" strips that I cut from 5 different yardages, but could have used a Jelly Roll. I added 1 1/4" sashing, just to give it some punch. I used a hand towel backing for the first one, but settled on a remnant of terry toweling for this one. I added 2 1/4" binding. Overall, it measures 17" x 27".  Seriously - when you have something this pretty to look at while you're washing dishes, the task doesn't seem so bad :-)

Next on the list: kitchen floor mats, and then bath mats!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

APPs A Crumbcatcher's Christmas Mug Rug Swap!

Lookee, lookee what I got from Cathy in Aunt Pitty Pat's A Crumbcatcher's Christmas Mug Rug Swap! CJ sent me this wonderful Mug Rug and I love-love-love the mug too! (Heehee - the cookies I "staged" on the Mug Rug are actually my own Sinfully Soft Gingerbread Cookies...I sent some to CJ with the swap package I sent her.)
The back of the Rug sports one of her signature labels - how cute is that! Not that I would anyways, but now I'll be sure not to forget from whom and when I got this Rug!
Candy and candycanes abound! And a snowman cookie cutter! And if that wasn't enough, she included her recipe for turtle bars - I think these are the same ones she served us when APP and I went to visit her in Oklahoma when I was on vacation in Kansas! Yumm-O!

Right now, the Mug Rug is working dual duty and OT as a candle mat for a yummy-smelling cinnamon-spice candle in the kitchen. I hope the Mug Rug Union doesn't find out or I'll owe back wages in cocoa and marshmallows :-) Thanks again, CJ - it's a wonderful package! 

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Lookee What I got! Post #1

Oh my...I've been Jonesing for one of Yarni Gras' Neck Hugger Scarves forever! I recently sent her a silly surprise and she sent me back a Neck Hugger! It's soooo soft and warm and comfy - I lovs it! Thanks so much Val!

And here's the silly surprise I sent her. A Shoop-Shoop bag and a fat quarter of fabric with mushrooms. When I saw the fabric, I thought of Val because 1) she likes mushrooms, and 2) well....uh....I knew she would laugh her lips off when she saw "what I saw." Now, you know the saying "You can't unring a bell." Well, that works for fabric too, when you "see" something in a can't "unsee" it. Ever. Think: Little Mermaid original VHS box when it was released. If you missed that "oops," you can Google it, wink, wink ;-)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Country Pleasures Christmas Apron Swap - What I Sent!

And here's the apron and swap package I sent to Ashley of this dixie girls delights!  Ashley was so fun to sew for. She's due to have a baby girl in March, so I thought an apron that she could wear right up to her due date would be a great idea. And it doesn't HAVE to be a maternity apron - I'm going to make one for an 80-year old lady and I know for a fact that SHE's not pregnant, LOL!
It's got a pocket all the way across the front. I made my own bias tape so I could use both solid and print fabrics for it. Of course, this pattern has very roundy straps, and applying the bias tape around those tight corners is not easy. I basted and steamed and patted until it laid smoothly, then machine-stitched.
Here's the back - it has two buttons. This apron makes a really nice cover-up for messy cooks like me :-)
I added a removable matching pin flower on the front to dress it up. I appliqued one of the flowers onto wool felt then added ribbon flowers and beads.
I wrapped it up in my *signature* fabric gift bag, which Ashley can use to store treasures in OR wrap a gift to give to a special friend! It has a ribbon flower on it, too.

Besides the baby she's expecting, Ashley has three children, so I made a little something for all four. Here are two crayon rolls I made for two of her children.
I also made a burp cloth for the new baby, but fogot to take a pic. But my favorite thing to make was this Color Book for her one-year old. I had so much fun making this! Here's the front.
And the inside pages...Green and Violet...
Orange and Red...
Black and Blue...
And finally...Yellow....
I sent other things as well, but I think I've used up my allotment of pics for one post, LOL! Ashley said she loved everything and the kids were enchanted with their new toys. I'm going to make another Color book for a friend's grandaughter this week! Thanks to Sue from Country Pleasures for this fun swap!

Country Pleasures Christmas Apron Swap - Received!

Here's what the mail carrier brought me from the very sweet Ashley from this dixie girls delights! She made me a darling denim apron - I'm pretty sure she fashioned it from the leg of a pair of jeans - way to upcycle, Ashley! It's very sturdy and will get worn a lot - it's hanging on a hook in the kitchen right now :-) And all the tuck-ins! Coffee mug and cocoa, cookie cutters and pottholder mitt. It's hard to see, but there's an adorable blue ornie that Ashley hand puffy-painted and she did a remarkable job - must have a very steady hand. She included the sweetest tags with rhymes on them for everything - how special is that!

Look at the sweet fabric she adorned it with!

She really spoiled me! But the thing I loved the most (well, other than the apron!) was this clever jar filled with potpourri and Christmas lights! Plug it in, and Instant Christmas, complete with a wonderful cinnamon smell! We enjoyed it for hours last night. P.S. I'm sure you noticed my glue gun in the pic below - my heat gun for rubber-stamping is on ANOTHER counter...we sewers/crafters sure do wind up with a lot of "equipment" everywhere this time of year! Thanks so much, Ashley - I'm sure we'll be friends forever :) 

Frosted Flurries Apron Swap - What I Got!

I got the most wonderful apron package from Tammy for the Flirty Apron Frosted Flurries Apron Swap! I had seen this apron on the blog and thought "Hmmmm, I'd really love to have that apron!" So you can imagine my surprise when I opened the box I'd gotten in the mail and found the apron I'd been Jonesing over :-) Tammy says she's been sewing only 5 years, but you'd never know it - it's a VERY well-made apron! And I just love the colors! She put a picture on the FAS blog of her daughter wearing the apron - I told her it's not gonna look as good on me, LOL! So here's a pic of it on a table instead.

And the tuck-ins were terrific! She spelled N-O-E-L, and had some very cute little tags to identify the items - I'm definitely looking to reuse those tags on something! Look at the beautiful napkins (N=Napkins), and the Santa Cookie Plate (O=Ornament-Shaped Plate). And  how did she know I did NOT have the Elf movie (E=Elf) and I'm so grateful because we don't have any TV access, so we are very DVD/VHS dependent for our entertainment! There was also an elf crafty project. My feeties are always cold here in the Pacific NW, so I'm lovin' the socks (L=Lavendar Socks). And I didn't get them in the pic (ripped the bag open quickly) but she also sent some Werther's Caramels, which are my favorite! Thank you, Tammy, for the wonderful, beautifully-sewn apron and goodies! (Sorry - fuzzy pic!)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

One More Stocking Stuffer Received!

And here's the last item received from Two Frog Home's awesomely fun Stocking Stuffer Swap. I tell you, this was one of the best swaps I've been in! We made so many new friends, got a lot of ideas, and had such fun doing it! The idea was to help each other stuff our Christmas stockings and/or gift baskets by mailing a single item or set of "something stocking-worthy" to each of 10 people. What a wonderful variety of fun things I got back! If the Swap Momma, Kathie, does this again next year, I'll be first to sign up :-) Without further ado, here's what I got from Carrie. Both the dishcloth and the little red bell ornie were especially special to me, since my mom, who's been gone 12 years now, used to make both. Thanks again to Kathie, and to all my new friends for a wonderful, successful, and fun swap! And Merry Christmas to you all!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Little Miss Shabby Swap

I am so tardy in posting this, but I have an excuse :-) I got this package from my wonderful partner, Monique, in the Little Miss Shabby Swap. Now don't tell Santa, but we weren't supposed to open these til Christmas, according to the swap mamma. So when the box came, I hemmed and hawed and thought "Well, MAYBE..PROBABLY...what's inside is wrapped, so it would be ok to open it." So I went ahead and opened it. What! I thought that was a reasonable assumption! LOL! Ok, so it wasn't wrapped, but I'm so glad I opened it because Monique had sent these beautiful items using Christmas fabric and they are so pretty and deserve to be used BEFORE Christmas, so it all worked out perfectly! She sent a snuggly scarf, which I wore immediately and got several nice comments from total strangers. But then it slipped off my neck and fell in the mud! I hadn't taken pics yet, so I had to wash and dry it (it came clean, phew!) before I could snap some shots. She also sent me some caramels (my fave!), a beautifully-embellished kitchen towel, a selvege ornie (I LOVE selveges!), a cool fabric-embellished Christmas card, and the remainder of the charm pack she had used to create these fabulous items! Always love it when I get a bit o' fabric in a swap :-) My package to Monique went out today and should arrive Saturday, then I'll post what I sent her. Thanks sooooo much, Monique! And check out her blog - she has such lovely things there... 

More Stocking Stuffer Goodies

A couple more cool things I got in Two Frog Home's Stocking Stuffer Swap. Annette sent this fabulous set including a washcloth and two makeup/polish removers. I love the colors and she does a wonderful job of crochet (something I can just barely accomplish myself). Do I really have to put this in someone's stocking? I wanna keep it myself (she lays on the floor, kicking and screaming)! Thanks, Annette!
And Rachel sent this lovely set of four criss-cross coasters. And she tied them up with some pretty green chenille yarn. I know ANYone would love to have these! Thanks sooo much, Rachel!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Frosted Flurries Apron Swap - Just A Little Peek!

Rudolph and the other reindeer swooped up my Flirty Apron Swap "Frosted Flurries" package and flew off to deliver it to my "fabulous partner!" But because my partner is "in cahoots" with Santa and has the "inside track," I won't be able to post all my pics for a couple days. But here's a sneak peek. In addition to a holiday apron with at least one snowflake on it somewhere, we were to put together a word's worth of tuck-ins. The word I chose was "Snowflake" so I had nine tuck-ins! I cheated a bit on one and went for some slang spelling, but I'm sure my partner won't mind. I'll post the rest of the pics soon.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Stocking Stuffer Swap - Next Batch Received

Here are more lovely items I received in Two Frog Home's Stocking Stuffer Swap! First, Janet sent this lovely black, gray, and yellow zip bag with a felt flower accent. It's just great!

And look at the little birdie lining! Peep peep!

Tammie sent this adorable red felt bird, with a cute tag attached for gift-giving! More peep peeps!

Jil sent a navy blue coffee cup sleeve, and look at her beautiful tag! I ordered a gizmo to make those paper pleats and just received it yesterday!

Anke sent the cutest package of stamped tags, a magnetic bookmark, and a Santa-painted dried okra pod. I told her that I'd never really tried okra since living in the Pacific Northwest with all these slugs kinda spoiled my appetitie for okra, which I'm told is slimey if not cooked correctly. Maybe some day I'll get brave...

And Swap Mama, Kathie, sent this stupendous assortment of goodies: Lower Salmon River squash seeds, organically grown celery leaf powder, sugar and spice bath powder, and two wooden magnets. I was fascinated by the celery leaf powder, but she told me what a simiple process it was to dry produce and then grind in a blender! I'll remember that next year when harvesting from my garden :-) 
What a great assortment of stocking stuffers I have now!