Multi-purpose Furniture

image

Grandma and Grandpa’s latest building project will keep “Monkey” safe while helping in the kitchen. Now that he tried it out and enjoys it, we’ll tweak a couple things and paint it.

Items that have dual or multi purposes are necessary when living in a small space. Foot stools and end tables with storage, hide-a-bed, murphy bed, all those regular type things.

We’ve made some of our own creations when we can’t buy what we need, or if we can’t find the right size piece.

In my perfect world, I would be working with wood nearly every day because it’s my favourite hobby.

This latest piece might look confusing or overbuilt, but it transforms for four different uses.

In the top picture is it as a aid for my dish washing and baking helper. To grow with him it has four height adjustments.

The picture below it’s an adjustable highchair.

img_8349

It also converts into an extra adult chair for at our table.

Plus, I can adjust it for a step stool when needing to access our high cabinets.

There’s building directions for lots of different styles of the four things mentioned  above on Pinterest, but I couldn’t find a multi purpose one. So, with a idea in my head, Mister and I started building this figuring out the arm system as we went.

Do you remember being little and standing on something so you could help in the kitchen?

Do you enjoy making things of any kind?

Chatting And Laughing (Wine Coasters)

These useful, multipurpose discs make excellent little gifts. They are coasters that slip on a glasses stem base. They can be handy glass identifiers at gatherings, or use one to eliminate that unruly charging cord in your bag or pocket by putting the rolled phone cord inside.

Use speciality materials for different seasons or occasions, or just have fun with colour.

They are very inexpensive to make. If you or someone you know is a sewer they are a great way to use up scrape pieces of cotton, flannel, or felt.

Making these was another easy and quick project for our afternoon crafting get togethers.

Not everyone here has a sewing machine, so I suggested we stitch the Wine Coasters by hand. The decorative blanket stitch and all. It had been years since many of us opted to sew a project by hand. There were a few joking comments that I was torturing them, but it really wasn’t that bad. They don’t take long and we had fun.

Pictured is a 3pc. and a 5pc. style, and 2 sizes. The blue one is hand stitched and the smaller size.

Basic Steps

We used a CD as a template to cut the larger sized circles.

Cut 3 or 5 circles depending on the style you are making. (The 3pc. has a bottom and 2 top halves. The 5pc. has a bottom and 4 top pcs. showing quarters.)

With wrong sides together, fold in half and press the (2 or 4) pieces for your top.

Place your full bottom circle with right side of material facing downward.

For the 3pc. style, – place and pin your 2 folded pieces on your bottom circle, butting up the folded edge in the middle. Don’t overlap fold.

For the 5pc. style, – place a folded piece on one half of bottom circle. Then each next folded piece is placed a quarter of the way around the circle, covering half of the previous piece. Once all 4 are in place there should be a roughly pencil lead sized hole in the middle for stem to come through. Pin pieces in place. (This step sounds more difficult than it is.)

Next for either style, sew through all layers (.5cm or 1/4”) around the outside edge of circle

Turn right side out.

Press.

Optional – Top stitch around outer edge, with straight, zigzag, or blanket stitch. 

If you are interested in making these there’s also lots of pictures and detailed instructions on Pinterest. Just search, wine coasters or DIY wine coasters.

Tips

The CD sized 3 pc. style on a smaller based glass is a little loose fitting.

The CD 5 pc. style takes a few extra seconds to put on, but in my opinion fits better even on a smaller base.

I don’t think I would make the 5pc. style any smaller then a CD, it might be too hard to get on.

If possible, measure your bases before deciding which to make. Especially if making 3pc. style. Adjust the size of circles you cut according to your glasses base. (Cut roughly 1.5cm or 3/4” bigger than base to allow for seam and a little play.)

Do you or someone you know love to entertain and could use these?

Do you theme or decorate for your parties or get togethers?

What Makes These So Easy

Are you craving homemade cookies but don’t have much time? Even, with little to no baking experience, you can impress family and friends with these yummy, “Jelly Slices”.

They’re quick and extremely easy to make.

The recipe was one of my mom’s favourites to whip up for unexpected company, or if she craved a homemade sweet at odd hours.

She also loved to bake with her grandkids, and these were a very popular choice.

What makes them quicker then most to make is the batch is baked, all at once, in logs, then cut into slices. So, no individually shaping cookies before baking multiple pans.

Top left picture – Showing the process before baking, a log, a log with indent, indents filled with jam. (You could put peanut butter, chocolate chips, sprinkles, nuts, pie filling, pretty much anything you can bake in the indents, or even nothing.)

Top right picture – Them baked.

Bottom left picture – Sliced while still hot and on the pan.

Bottom right – Ready for tasting.

Jelly Slices

Cream Together

  • 3/4 Cup Butter or Margarine
  • 1/2 Cup White Sugar 
  • 1/4 Cup Icing Sugar

Then add

  • 1 Egg
  • 2 Cups White Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 2 teaspoons Vanilla

Mix only until ingredients are incorporated. (Don’t over mix)

Divide batter into four equal parts. Squish each part firmly together, just so it doesn’t separate when rolling.

On a lightly floured surface use your palms to roll each part into a approximately 3/4”-1” thick x 11-12” long log and place on a non stick baking sheet.

I use the wooden spoon handle to make a indent down the middle of the roll.

Fill the indent with any flavour of Jam or Jelly. (Do not cut logs yet)

Bake at 350 degrees for roughly 15 minutes. Every oven and even bakeware cooks differently so when making for the first time check the batch starting at maybe 12-13 minutes. I like soft cookies so I take mine out just when the bottoms start to lightly brown.

Remove from oven and using a sharp knife immediately cut diagonally into about 1/2 – 3/4” slices.

Let me know if you try making these.

Do you have a quick go to recipe when you are needing or craving a sweet?

A Taste From Heaven

The saying is, “a taste of heaven,” but these cookies are a taste, “from,” heaven.

Even with the trend being the 3 ingredient Peanut Butter cookies there’s only one recipe for me. It’s my Dad’s, hence the, “from,” heaven.

While growing up store bought desserts were rare in our house. Mom worked two jobs, raised five children, kept a spic and span house, sewed some of our clothes, and still every day there was homemade goodies to enjoy. How she did all this became even more a mystery once I became a mom. 

I definitely baked more when our kids were young and at home. These days if I make a homemade pie, it’s a ready to bake pie shell filled with Jello instant pudding, and topped with Dream Whip from a package. Tasty, but homemade might be an exaggeration?

My talent is more cookies or squares. Actually, I only recall making pie crusts a couple times, and breads, those are scary, I leave them to experts like mom.

Dad cooked meals on occasion, and not always one special dish, but when it came to baking, I only remember his “Peanut Butter Cookies.”

The history behind the recipe died with my parents years ago. Was it a cherished one from dad’s childhood? Was it just a stumbled upon one? Maybe it was really one from mom’s side and dad just enjoyed making them? I’ll never know the answer, but at least every time I make these cookies they bring on fond memories.

Dad would be thrilled that I’m sharing this recipe.

Peanut Butter Cookies

Cream Together

• 1/2 Cup Margarine

• 2/3 Cup Brown sugar (not packed)

• 1/3 Cup White sugar

• 1 egg

Then Add

• 1 1/4 Cup Flour

• 1/2 teaspoon Baking soda

• 2/3 Cup Peanut butter

(This recipe also does well doubled.)

Roll into walnut size balls (I use a melon baller) press lightly with fork.

Bake at 350 for 9-10 minutes.

A thought came to me while writing this post. I’m going push past the intimidation this winter and make a pie crust and a loaf of bread from scratch. I’ll let you know if they’re eatable.

Do you have a recipe that triggers fond memories?

Do you make the three ingredient, Peanut Butter Cookies?

If you try this recipe let me know what you think.

DIY Game Board Craft Project

start-jokers

If you enjoy playing board or card games, you might want to try “Jokers”. It’s similar to the game “Sorry” the main difference is you use cards instead of rolling dice.

It’s an easy DIY project. Cardboard, poster board, cloth, plexiglass or wood, are some options you could use to make a board depending on what medium you like to work with. Paint or mark squares or drill or punch holes for game play.

Objects used for player pegs or pieces should be paintable or come in a variety of colors, you need a different one for each player.

Player pegs can be golf tees, cribbage pegs, thinner wood doweling cut to lengths, skewers cut, toothpicks, colored straws, tree twigs, or be imaginative.

Player pieces can be made by cutting thicker doweling into discs, paint tiny rocks, checker pieces, or pennies, use buttons, marbles if you drill indents, the choices are endless.

I enjoy working with wood and drills so no surprise I used plywood to make our game. A board can be specifically for 4, 6, or 8 players, or put a combination or all three on one playing surface. I put the 4 and 6 player versions on the one pictured in this post.

Material’s I used

-2′ foot square of 1/4″ fir plywood

-30 cribbage pegs, 5 for each player

-6 different colours of paint

-clear coat

jokers-board

Making a Board

As templates, I cut six strips of cardboard with the number of holes needed for each side, and spaced for my pegs. Then I centered and spaced them how I wanted them on the board and made marks. Mister cut the corners off giving the square its shape afterwards.

Sections on the board don’t have to be coloured as long as players pegs or pieces are. I outlined strips to match peg colours though. If drilling holes lines aren’t even necessary but I like to paint.

With projects like this, I paint lines, and apply clear coat before drilling holes, otherwise clear coat drips into holes and you often have to drill again to clear them.

Playing The Game

Objective is be first to get all your pegs from the start cross into your home line.

Played in teams, whether 4, 6, or 8 people.

Shuffle together 3 card decks, including jokers, and deal five cards to everyone. (If 8 players use 4 decks.)

Card Count

You need a King, Queen, Jack or Ace to come out of start spot and begin play. (Jokers work to do this, but I’ll explain their full move later)

Once pegs are on the game part (and you can have more than one in play), a ten card along with Kings, Queens, and Jacks are worth ten.

Ace counts as one.

A Eight card means you always move backwards (which if you are in your start hole moving back means you are close to your home entrance, but you can’t back into home)

Seven card can be split in any forward combination between two of your pegs, (good for moving up in home line)

A Joker can make any one move to take out another players peg, even if your peg is still in the start.

A Players turn

Pick a card from the pile of undealt cards, from your hand lay a card face-up, moving a game piece in accordance to its value. (If you can’t move, maybe you have no pieces out of start yet, a card still must be discarded.)

Basic Rules

You can jump past another players peg but not your own.

Landing on a opposing player’s peg sends them back into their start place.

Landing on your partners peg sends them to the base of their home line.

You need the exact cards to get into and move within home slot and cannot jump a peg.

Once all your pieces are in your home slot, you help your teammates get theirs home.

Rather than making a board there is also a slat style. You can Google or search Pinterest for ideas on that type. Some other names to use when searching this game are, Marbles and Jokers, Jokers and Pegs.

There are lots of internet sites with more detailed game play rules plus strategies.

I hope you enjoy this game as much as we do.

Have you made any of your games?

Apron of Memories

apron

This apron is how I bake with the kids now that they’re grown and no longer living at home. It’s made from scraps left over from things I sewed them when they were young.

Whenever I wear it I think of them.

This is what I accomplished today. It really doesn’t look like it should have taken all day but it did. With the way my morning started though I’m just glad they are eatable.

cookies

 

Double Double or Spiked

latte

This fall Mister began joining me for my afternoon coffee ritual, instead of my double cream, double sugar, his condiment of choice is a shot of Irish Cream liquor.

Some of you might know this drink by its nickname, Camping Coffee. It ordinated in the days of tents and no heaters but is still enjoyed by many.

For something different, I recently made myself a Irish cream latte. If you haven’t tried one, all you do is add Irish Cream to the milk before you steam it. You can make it with coffee creamer, or if you really want to warm-up use liquor.

Do you have a, hard to buy for, coffee drinker on your shopping list?

This is a faithful recipe for homemade Irish Cream liquor which I’ve had for years.

A bottle of this is a great gift idea.

Irish Cream Liquor

  • 1 Cup – Jameson Irish Whiskey
  • 1 Cup – Water
  • 1 can(8oz) – Eagle Brand Milk
  • 3 – Eggs (mixed)
  • 2 TBSP – Instant coffee
  • 1 can(8oz) – canned milk 2%
  • ¼ tsp – Vanilla
  • 1 TBSP – Chocolate syrup

We always put mixture in dark bottles with screw tops, and remember to Keep this liquor refrigerated.

For almost two weeks, our abnormal and frigid winter weather kept us indoors more than usual. It motivated me to get items crossed off my to-do list, but it also brought on bouts of cabin fever. When that happened, decreased concentration and productivity meant I jumped between projects or spent time on trivial tasks like sorting bags of old buttons into colors. Mister got dragged into helping with that distraction, so we could clean off and eat lunch at the table.

Mister and I, are grateful for our special friends T & E, and card nights filled with laughter. These get-togethers sure help pass long winter evenings.

Because of cold traveling conditions I missed out on trips into town and snooping through the malls. Extreme temperatures even spoiled plans of our daughter and my BFF meeting me in the city for a shopping day.

Thank goodness, Mister and I got our gifts bought early or I would be in a panic right now.

Handmade gifts are done, the presents are wrapped, and all that’s left to do before the big day is some baking.

Our weather forecast predicts a warming trend, and I woke Sunday morning to a shockingly nice -4c which sure is better than the -20’s.

The smart thing would have been to bake during the cold spell. My excuse was, no room in the freezer to store stuff. Real reason, I just wasn’t into it.

Now, with the coming warmth I’ll want to be outside or go to town, but I better be inside baking. I really should have thought that through.

Do you bake at Christmas?

Are you ready for Christmas?

My Spin On Gift Giving

gift-giving

Not sure why the song, Christmas time is coming, came to mind this morning, but perhaps because it’s only 20 days away, or because our tree is up and decorated now, or the scenery when I opened the blinds triggered it. We got about 6” of snow this week, I doubt we’ll see grass again until spring. See you next year, my diehard pansies.

For those who don’t know, I love making lists. Short ones, long ones, loose ones and ones in note books. They have a place in my purse, in draws, beside my chair and of course on the iPad seldom out of reach. One particular list is very useful, it’s gift ideas for people which I add to throughout the year.

With only a couple gifts left undecided, it’s time to study that list and finish shopping.

Since Mister’s retirement, he is more involved in choosing who gets what, and now we usually shop together. It’s rare for me to drive when it’s the two of us, but he’s a willing chauffeur as long as we’re not out evenings or weekends when places are busy.

A crowd or line-up person, Mister is not.

Retirement for us, is like coming full circle, we are back working within a budget of sorts and our Christmas gift giving reflects this.

People approaching this phase in life often worry about how they will adjust, it scares us all at first. Sure, sometimes I miss spontaneous spending, one of which is not buying bigger, special presents like we used to occasionally, but our family respects a gifts cost isn’t what’s important.

Homemade items have and I’m sure will always be acceptable gifts within our family.

I think the kids and spouses appreciate the occasional one from me, or they’re too sweet to say otherwise. It’s not that I knit everyone a scarf whether they need or want one, but if I can make an item and personalize it, I will, and I’m not the only one in the family that makes gifts.

The kids have tucked away as keepsakes some handmade presents from years past. There’s the tall, multi floor Barbie doll house, complete with furniture, a plastic canvas fold-up micro machine city, and a twill blanket, matching shipping boots and leather show halter for their pony to name a few.

This year is no different, some presents are getting made.

I also use to enjoy creating puzzles. Each person got an envelope with a list of questions. The answers had the same number of letters as following blanks and one blank in each answer was colored. The letters from those blanks spelled out their gifts hiding place.

100-0031_img

The Kids & Grandchildren Doing Puzzles 

Writing this post brought to mind A Birthday Gift Story from a couple years ago.

It started the fall prior to our sons birthday, part of his gift took me almost five months to complete.

With busy schedules, Mister, myself, our daughter and son met at a restaurant in a City between where we all live. After the meal, in the sunny parking lot, he used his truck’s lowered tailgate as a table to unwrap presents.

His face when he opened the box from Mister and I caused a smile. It was a mix of, on second thought, no mix, his look said, “Mom, you’re losing it.”

He lifted the white hoodie and spotted a black shirt underneath. Both items he had given me five months prior for mending.

Of course, we added something else to the gift, but I couldn’t resist wrapping these since I had finally gotten them repaired. What the heck, he hadn’t seen either for so long, they were like new to him. Unwrapping is more fun than handing him a boring plastic bag. (smiley face)

Back to Christmas thoughts.

Have other parents ever drifted asleep Christmas Eve while waiting for their children to do the same, only to wake in a panic because of how long they dozed and what they had left to do?

One year, our daughter decided that along with cookies and milk for Santa we should put hay on our roof for the reindeer. That was a detail hard for Mister to take care of in the dark of night without making noise and leaving tracks. It’s a good thing we found out, the reindeer get sluggish between flights if they eat so we only did that once. (a smiley face for our creative thinking)

Do you give homemade gifts?

Everything into a Pot

 

veg

Hosting meals for family or friends is a great joy, but not being a cooking enthusiast anymore means strategic planning. Sometimes, I spend more energy racking my brain for easy foods to serve than I do with preparation. I suffer flashes of guilt because of my low luster entrees, but I’m thankful people still come over.

While our kids grew up, I put effort into cooking. Meals had plenty variety, were tasty, hearty, lots of homemade this and homemade that.

The family seldom did, or had reason to complain, except the night of the “Tuna Casserole”. The only uneatable dish I’ve made, one for the record books and still remembered. Dreadful music played in my head, and my stomach churned as I typed its name. (smiley face)

Who is at the table, is far more important than the food served.

My goal remains that no one goes hungry while at our home. Now though, menu choices are pretty basic, and meals are simple. And yes, sometimes when the kids stay over, for breakfast I tell them to help themselves to whatever they find.

Presentation holds little importance. Items often get served in cooking pots or casserole dishes. You won’t find both salad and dinner forks on our table, and if the meal doesn’t require a spoon, one won’t get placed beside your plate.

When company is coming, I like to have things washed, peeled, chopped and prepared in advance. If I can’t, our smaller, open concept home means no separation from visiting, anyway.

Last weekend for a birthday gathering, I threw multiple veggies into a pot with a ham bone in the morning. When our guests arrived, I finished it with homemade flour dumplings and, viola, lunch was ready to serve. The big steaming pot sat in the middle of the table and everyone helped themselves.

soup

Note to self. I often use green cabbage in soups, but this time I had purple in the fridge. It made for a weird color tinge, but added nice flavor.

Unfortunately, not all my siblings were in attendance for this get-together, but it was fun and a wonderful afternoon. If you leave out the part where the boys beat the girls in cards.

I Love Family Time!

*****

This summer, our daughter gave me a dessert recipe, I’ll quote her, “It’s real easy, Mom.”

Well, I made it, but good grief, what was she thinking? The fresh rhubarb had to be chopped in the morning so it could sit a few hours in sugar. I had to remember to stir it now and again. Then, I had to melt butter, boil and thicken a sauce, plus mix ingredients in one bowl and others in another.

That night when we talked on the phone and she asked how it went, I explained that was not my idea of easy. Easy is one bowl, mix a few things together, bake and serve. A little exaggeration there.

Don’t get the wrong idea, we eat the majority of our meals at home, so Mister and I share cooking duty, it’s just not my thing. I do the clean-up afterwards though, because I enjoy washing dishes.

I like to think I passed on some skills to our children before I tucked my enthusiasm in a drawer.

They are all accomplished cooks. I can’t take credit for what the oldest has learned, but our daughter and her husband get creative and experiment with a wide range of ingredients and dishes. The son enjoys more basic foods like his father, but he’s not intimidated by a new recipe or to add his own flair.

I failed to pass on my joy of dish washing to any of them though, but that’s all right. When visiting their homes, they cook, I do the dishes.

Do you enjoy cooking? Would you rather bake or make a meal?

What is your, go to, meal to cook? Mine is; barbequed pork chops (which Mister does all barbequing) microwave baked potatoes and lettuce salad. The most popular meal I serve to company is, pork roast with potatoes and carrots all cooked in one roaster.

Name two foods you could live without. I wouldn’t miss avocado, and blue cheese.