Monday, January 31, 2011

Upcycle project 1: Sweater Bear by Duck Momma

I am that person. You know, the one who gets attached to everything, inanimate objects not excluded. I cried when I sold my car (which I had named Tallulah ) and I have my grandmother's wedding cake topper. I know I'm already in trouble as a mom, every thing she does is going to be precious ... better invest in a big scrap book!
But finding sentimental value in things is not always a bad thing, and it can fuel creative inspiration and outlet. For example I had an old brown sweater that I just loved. It was so warm and comforting but it just wasn't quite wearable any longer. But maybe I would have a purpse later so in the craft supply closet it went. Low and behold a bear shaped pillow turned up. I wasn't quite sure what I was doing but I dove in. Nothing a few stiches, ribbon, and lots of stuffing can't fix. For the bear's tummy I used a shirt I bought from an artist on Etsy. Its a maternity shirt I wore with Goose. It is so sweet but it doesn't work post baby.
The end product isn't perfect, but very sweet and functional. I get to display something I was proud of as something I'm currently proud of.
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Shredded Buffalo Chicken Sandwich-Frugal Meal Idea by Tomato Mama

I love the taste of Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches at restaurants, but don't like to deal with the mess of frying a chicken breast to get the same result at home. I often get Franks Red Hot Sauce for free with coupons. ( A small bottle is .99 at my local Meijer. I use a .50 coupon that Meijer doubles and get it for free! ) and have quite a few on hand at any given time. One day when I was craving this particular sandwich, I tried this combination out and was quite satisfied with the results. It's one of my family's favorite meals and I love it because it's cheap, easy to prepare in the crock pot and is even better the next day as leftovers.


Franks Red Hot Sauce
fresh or frozen chicken breasts ( I use frozen)
hamburger buns
ranch or blue cheese dressing

Place chicken breasts into crockpot ( I make a large batch by using an entire bag of frozen chicken breasts at one time. No need to thaw.) Pour in Franks sauce. Cook on low for 6-7 hours. Shred the chicken with a fork. Pile on the bun or roll of your choice and top with ranch or blue cheese dressing. Yum!


Friday, January 28, 2011

Ghost Footprint Valentine's Day Card by Tomato Mama

Pickle and I have been hard at work making our Valentine's Day cards for the Grandparents, Aunts, and Uncles for a couple of weeks now. We did some cookie cutter painting ( more on that in another post) for most of the family, but I wanted to do something different for my sister and her husband.

My sister needs a special card for a few reasons.

1. She's special!
2. She hates Valentine's day ( but does love to get cards from her favorite Pickle nephew.)
3. She hates feet. I love to exploit this fact any chance I get!
4. She is a ghost hunter. Really! Check out her and my brother in law here

This is what we made

The card reads, "I love you so much... It's scary!"

Here is some pics of the process of making it.

Love how these turned out! I'm going to have to frame one of the extras for me.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Gardening Bug by Duck Momma

Even though it is cloudy, gray, and unpleasantly below freezing I have been busy drooling (much like my little Goose) over my shiny new seed catalog. I am currently planning my garden for the year. My garden space is not terribly typical. I have a lovely sunny flower bed in the front of my house; I am currently trying to rescue it from the evil grasp of creeping ground cover (pause for shudder). I just can’t stand the stuff and its taking up sunny warm ground; it’s the ‘beach front property’ location. Last year my tomatoes got comically out of control in the tight space, appartenly 8 plants was a bit much. Who knew! This year will be different. I will take back more of my dirt and make it work.

Gardening was a special activity for my mom and me growing up and I can’t wait to share that with Goose. (She got her nickname for the sounds she made early on, I swear she was talking to the flock out back) There is nothing like starting those little seeds in dirt, watering them, and praying not only for sprouts but for all bugs to stay away. Gardening can provide such a sense of accomplishment and a tasty harvest. This year I will be trying 3 varieties of tomatoes( cherry, Early Girl, and an heirloom variety called Black Krim), Sweet potatoes, cucumbers (for pickling), sweet peppers, Kale (I love my Irish roots and am constantly seeking out ways to connect, more on that later), and finally a lovely array of herbs.

I would never consider myself a pro or master gardener, but I have learned some pretty handy tips over the years.
• First ask your mom. Chances are she will know a thing or two you don’t.
• If she doesn’t know than refer to your best friend or neighbor (preferably the one with an amazing flower bed that puts yours to shame. . . I have never seen such healthy hostas)
• Plan your garden for things you will actually use and hopefully produce that works together. It sounds silly but I spent many years planting hot peppers. . . I hate hot peppers.
• Try something new, you never know if you don’t try.
• Share. If you have extra,share your harvest with family, friends, and neighbors. Its so rewarding to give, plus you can be proud you grew that!
• Egg shells ground up look silly as you dry them, but they really do help the soil and your tomato crop. It helps replace calcium and flower end rot! If that’s not for you, Hyponex is great stuff!
• Try to be nice to the spiders and earth worms, they are helping.
• Salt really does kill slugs. . . too much though and nothing will grow. Ever. Lesson learned.
• Lastly, read the packets of seeds. If it needs sun or extra watering you really don’t want to miss those details.

Gardening isn’t for everyone, but if you haven’t tried you should give it a shot. You never know, you might like it! For me the fun doesn’t stop at harvest, it only leads to more. I will have starting pictures soon, stay tuned! And now I leave you to dream of red ripe tomatoes and plump green beans, I have to go stop the baby from kissing the dog!

Hamper redo by Tomato Mama

There is a winter wonderland outside my window right now! We have had plenty of snow here this winter and it's showing no sign of stopping. Needless to say, we have accumulated plenty of snow "stuff."

Last year I needed to find a solution that would house the hat/glove/mitten mountain by my back door. I searched Hobby Lobby to find something that would not break the bank and would look cute. I found this...


I liked the shape, but was not crazy about the bears. What this hamper really had going for it was the price. It was on clearance and I had a coupon for 50% off of that.

I set out to "cute it up." I took it apart and used the bears as a pattern for some cuter material. I sewed the new fabric and stitched on a felt mitten to finish it off.

Here is the after...

Our snow stuff now has a much cuter place to live and we do not miss the bears at all.