See something that looks familiar here? Perhaps you saw it first over at Family Home and Life, my other blog.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

* Homemade Microwave Popcorn

I love popcorn, but I don’t love the cost of pre packaged microwavable popcorn. Once up on a time I owned a hot air popper and I was thinking of getting another one. With a hot air popper I can control how much butter and salt is on it and with out all the preservatives. But, I have a small kitchen, where would I store it, and then I really didn’t want to pay for one.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

* Easy Inexpensive Fruit Salad

Want a crowd pleasing fruit salad that won’t break the bank? I’ve got one for you.

* Mason Jars

One way I use my Mason jars is to save time in the kitchen.  Here’s a trick not too many people will still remember.  Did you know that you can use a small mouth Mason jar on your blender? Why would you do that you ask? Well you can use a jar on the blender to dice, chop, puree and blend small amounts of food. You don’t have to drag out your food processor for little jobs. If you have a small kitchen and rarely use a food processor anyway you may not even need one if you have a blender and Mason jars. 

It can also save on cleaning up because you can store your processed food right in the jar you used on your blender.  The only thing you need to wash will be the blender blade. But with an important warning! DO NOT DO THIS WITH HOT FOODS OR LIQUIDS! Since there is not a lid at the top for pressure to escape, heated foods or liquids can cause cracking of your jar or even cause them to explode! Please don't chance that. Cold or room temp foods only in the jar on our blender.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

* Make a Child Size Folding Table Easily

If you have kids around you need a table just their size for all kinds of reasons. But finding a good one at a good price is hard. Here’s one solution to try.
Why not purchase a plastic folding table, and cut the legs down to size? They fold up very flat and are very durable; kid tough! Clean up on these is a breeze. 

* Easy Art Project

Want an easy art project for the kids? It’s a messy one I will warn you! But it’s almost fool proof for getting a really nice finished piece of art even for the little ones.
I have found my 2 ,3 and 4 yr olds really like to squeeze glue out from the bottle and watch it pour all over their paper.

* Family Harvest Day Progress Update

We are at about two weeks until Family Harvest Day and I still have a lot to do. I simply have not had enough time to post everything I wanted to here. Life happens and it has been ‘happening’ around here intensely and without a break; I have not gotten as much done as I should have by now. In my last post on Harvest Day, I wrote that we had set the date and sent out notifications to all. 

* Getting Even

I was addicted (yes I really mean that) to Dr. Pepper for many years. Yes I admit it; and it had to be a fountain drink too. Well after many tries I kicked that habit a couple of years ago and now I can enjoy one on occasion without becoming addicted all over again. Yes, I’m very proud of myself.

* How We Make a Scare Crow

I try to do most things the easiest way possible and I think that scarecrows are a pretty easy thing to make. The first time I made one I used real straw; it looked great but it was really heavy and soaked up the water when it rained. It also was super messy and though the kids loved playing in the straw they left straw debris every where and itched where it got on their skin. Now we make our scarecrows from plastic shopping bags and wow does it work great. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

* New Uses for Coffee Filters

I receive some good email tips from time to time, here are a few.

* Family Harvest Day 2011

As I write this post I am thinking about this last year. You see, it's my one year anniversary of starting this blog. I thought I would be having a big celebration with you all but I don’t have time or energy just now to do that. And really, I opened it up to the public in March of this year (it was a family only blog before) so I’ve decided to wait until next March to celebrate. I’m not as busy that time of the year either. Any suggestions on how I should celebrate my blogiversary? I would love to do some giveaways at least; we’ll see how the bank account looks by then. 

* Painted China Cabinet; From Free To Fabulous!

A good inexpensive way to update the look of your home is with paint. Sometimes painting furniture pieces will bring it all together if you have mismatched pieces. I have painted furniture many times over the years. The pieces I choose to paint are usually older and solid wood.

Monday, September 16, 2013

* If I Had Time Today……

It is such a beautiful fall day here in Arizona; I’ve got all the blinds open and drapes pulled back, the windows are open and I'm enjoying the cool air and beautiful view. It is a work day for me; I work out of my house most of the time. I have a few grandchildren here napping right now, and I know that if I don’t take this time, while I can, to put my feet up I’ll regret it later. But I can’t help myself because after the summers we endure here, I have a huge list of things to do. I feel like I should be up doing chores; things that need doing, and things that I want to do just because I want to.

* My 'Recycled Reused' Dust Mite Proof Pillow Cover

I wanted to get some new quilted pillow covers; the ones I had were beginning to be a little thread bare, so I went shopping at some home goods stores. I had looked around some for them but didn't find the quality that I was looking for at a price I would pay.   Most only had the one layer thin fabric covers that don’t really do the job.  You want a pillow cover to be thick enough to keep moisture and skin oils from getting to your pillow, made from a natural material so it doesn't encourage perspiration, (plastic covers are terrible to sleep on) and with a thread count high enough to keep dust mites from invading your pillow.

* Glass Canning Jars, Fruit Jars, Mason Jars, Ball Jar

Mason is one brand name, Ball or Kerr another, and if your folks are from the south and a couple of generations back you might know them as ‘fruit jars’. They are jars used for canning fresh fruits and vegetables. Whatever you call them, they are workhorses in the kitchen and around the house.  I use them for all kinds of things besides what they were intended for. I try to stay away from using plastics as much as possible.  I also try not to use to many  disposable items in my home such as plastic bags. These jars really help out with that. They are air tight, **oven proof, **microwavable (with the lid off of course), and can be **frozen. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

* Family Day at Harvest Time

A couple of years ago I was eager to start having family gatherings that my grand kids could take part in. Something more than just getting together for family dinners and birthdays; something centered around family, and what being a family means. I wanted to create a strong sense of belonging to one another, a knowledge of how we came to be together, and a knowledge of our unique history as a family.

You have to understand that I was starting all this from scratch. This was not a tradition passed down to me, though my family did have some pretty strong roots. I had a vague sense of what we should be as a whole, but I wasn’t exactly sure how to get there. I thought that if I could get us all together and involved in activities, tell them a little family history in a fun way, that would be a good starting place. So I began what I called Family Days, and the first one was at Harvest time. We now have Family Days that are centered around different themes through out the year. I am careful not to overload everyones busy schedules by taking into account family birthdays and not scheduling Family Days at busy times.

* New Use for an Everyday Kitchen Tool

With all the extra effort lately to save money I have a new way to keep my feet looking good between pedicures; stretching out the time between getting them.  That saves money right? Today I have for you a kitchen tool that works so good....on your feet! 

* Dear Dad,

Happy Father’s Day!
I hope you all will excuse me if I write a short note to my sons and sons in law? Three of them became fathers this past year, one for the first time, and the other for the second time; and the third for the second and third time, (twins) and I am so proud of them! They are men of integrity, men that make Father’s Day a truly special day in the lives of their wives and children. Thank you my sons, for making your mother so proud! For honoring me and blessing me by the way you love and take care of your families. I love you so much!
To the man of the house (my house that is) you have proved once again this year what a great dad and grandfather you truly are. You are ‘Papa, the man, the legend’ for sure! (I saw that on a t-shirt!) But you are my legend, and I love you. Thank you for putting up with me J
And I want to honor my father who is in Heaven now.  I still miss him, his guidance and the security I felt when he was still with us. He was a larger than life kind of person. Back when I was still a single mother, I was missing him so much and wished I could just talk to him for a little while. I wrote him a letter instead; it’s below and I hope you enjoy it.
I love you daddy!

Monday, September 9, 2013

* Growth Chart Boards

I like to make heirloom quality gifts to give my grand kids. Here is a gift that each one received last Christmas, designed with the personality of each child in mind.

* Scavenger Hunt Chore Cards

Days playing at Gramma’s sure are fun for all. But when it’s time for clean up, well it’s not so fun.

Where does a body begin? How can I help my little ones figure out where to start when I’m not at all sure myself?

Sunday, September 8, 2013

* Things Are Not Always What They Seem to be

We went to Home Depot the other day, my husband pushing the cart, me trailing along slightly behind. I veered off to the side to ask at the customer service desk about an item I was looking for. My husband hadn’t noticed I wasn’t still following him and kept going, and the answer to the question I asked about was taking longer than it should have. When I finally turned around to follow my husband he was long gone.

* Cloth Coffee Filters

Have you ever returned from the grocery store and realized you forgot something? Something you will need right away? You need the minute you opened your eyes? Well I did. Luckily I had one coffee filter left, but I didn’t want to go back to the store for filters and I didn’t have time to either. So, I started wondering why I use disposable filters in the first place. Disposable means throwing your money away with said item, usually. Online I looked up reusable coffee filters and remembered why I didn’t have one; they are expensive!
I looked up substitutes for filters and mostly read about people using paper towels when they are out of filters. I wouldn’t want to do that, who knows what kind of chemicals are in paper towels and I didn’t want to drink them first thing in the morning. Why not cloth filters? I didn’t really have much luck online in that area either so, I took my one remaining filter and headed to my sewing room. How hard could it be to make one? It turned out to be very easy, for certain types of filters, and not so easy for others. Let me show you.

cloth coffee filter

Saturday, September 7, 2013

* Second Sewing Lesson

Our second sewing lesson was fun! It did take a little longer than I expected, so being in such a rush for time, I needed to recreate the steps and a couple of pics for you so it makes sense. I have used some of the pics taken during the lesson too. Here it is! A Princess Wand!

* Sugar or Salt Scrub

A thrifty lubricating hand or foot scrub is super easy to make by adding oil to salt or sugar; and you won't believe how great they work. Table salt or fine sea salt works just as well as sugar or brown sugar. My favorite is the fine sea salt. Mix in oil adding just enough to fully saturate; and then store in a container with a lid. A mason jar works great by the kitchen sink; a recycled plastic jar works well for bathroom use as it won’t break if you drop it from slippery hands.  

* Little Bits of Savings in a Lot of Way

There are many ways to save money, just as there are many ways to save time.  How about saving space in your refrigerator or pantry; saving gas by not making as many trips to the grocery store? What about recycling, and being ‘green’?  And always….. How do we best save our good health?

Friday, September 6, 2013

* Arts and Crafts with My Kiddos

All of my grand kids are age 5 and under so there is not really an organized routine or craft plan that we have. I do attempt organized crafts at times though; this week will be Father's Day cards. Right now the kids just like to play and explore with the materials I offer them. Mostly they like to paint or use markers; and glue!  A few times I have let them use glitter but aside from the mess they make with it they seem to like shaking it out more than any thing else.  If I didn’t stop them we would soon have all the glitter out on the table and the shaker jar would be empty!

* When You Give a Girl a Needle…..

My daughter in law and I worked on a sewing project together a while back, and either she was holding back on me or she has some major talent. Let me show you what I mean.

* Cabbage, Ham and Rice

My husband and I love ham and I stock up on whole hams when they are on sale. Ham is inexpensive compared to other meats and I often still find it for under a $1 a pound.  I don’t buy the spiral cut hams because they seem to dry out too much when they are baked and are usually a little more expensive. I love to cut big chunks off a freshly baked ham and serve it with scalloped potatoes and green beans.

* Strawberry Banana Jam

Strawberries are in season and I always make at least one batch of jam every spring.  My favorite recipe is one of my mother’s recipes that also uses bananas in the jam.  I must confess that although I helped my mom some when she made it, I never had the confidence to try it on my own.  The spring after she passed away I remembered that there would be no fresh jam that season; unless I made it myself of course.  So I dug around in her old recipe books and found the loose sheet of paper where she had written her jam recipe splattered with pink strawberry juice spots.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

* My Mother's Quilts

Pearl Irene is in heaven now. She left behind a legacy of remembered love. A caring person, a helper, and always ready to do what needed to be done.  If you were sick she was the one you wanted to be there caring for you and your home. A wife, a mother,  grandmother and great grandmother. We all have at least one item she made for us, most of us have several.

* Children’s Craft Apron

With as many children as I have around all the time I am always looking for good activities to keep them busy.  One of their favorite things to do at my house is paint pictures and make crafts.  I wanted to make aprons to protect their clothing and of course I wanted them to be very inexpensive. Most purchased children’s aprons are of a light weight fabric that paint goes right through; even the ones from home improvement stores still tend to leak paint. I always try to make do with what I already have so I started looking around my house and at my fabrics. 

* More Uses for Mason, Canning, Fruit Jars!

A look inside my refrigerator shows all my beloved Mason jars in use. In the back a 2 quart jar with Sun Tea, 1 quart jar with pasta sauce, pint of strawberry jam, left over mac and cheese, and some beet juice I’m going to use for another project in the craft room. In the front leftover curried rice and raisins ready for my lunch box, home made yogurt, jello in a half pint ready for hubbies lunch box, butternut squash soup, more jello and yogurt, and some fresh whipped cream to top the jello with. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

* Focusing on the Big Picture

It seems that the whole world is focused on money and ‘stuff’.  Making money, spending money, saving money, investing money, and all that money does for us.  We make a house payment, we pay for utilities, food and cars, insurance and the list goes on.  Then we buy clothing, household items, toys (an item intended for play time, adult and children’s); we entertain ourselves with money.
How much time do you spend making money, spending money, thinking about money and what you will do with the money you have or will get?  Or the money you won’t get? Hmm…….kind of sad isn’t it? What would we do if all that acquiring, spending and thinking about money stopped and we could spend time doing and thinking about other things?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

* Spring Time and Family Day

We celebrated spring on Family Day here at our house this last March.  The kids and grandkids gathered for fun and food and some life lesson teaching about sowing and reaping. Our day began with visiting and the kids playing.  Then we all gathered together while Gramma explained the natural laws of reaping what you have sown.  I had many kinds of seeds for everyone to see and feel and try to guess what kind of seeds they were. I included some sprouting potatoes too.  Everyone thought that looked gross! 

Then we headed to the crafting area to paint small flower pots for each to take home with chosen seeds planted in them.  

While the paint dried on the pots we went out side to plant spring vegetables in an old horse trough, the right height for little ones and also to make it easier for Grammas and Pappas backs. I had prepared popsicle sticks ahead of time and pushed them into the soil.  On them I wrote what was to be planted in that space and how many seeds should be planted there.  I gave some instruction on planting depth too.

With the pots filled and the seeds planted we all headed inside for a potluck meal, we had a wonderful time together; it was a good teaching time for little ones, and a good reminder for us older ones. Sharing times like this helps us keep our family bonds strong and relationships growing.

As if on cue, we heard the ice cream truck coming right as we finished dinner and we  ran out to find him and enjoy some ice cream.

Days later a few of the veggies were sprouting; I sent pictures out to all kids and grandkids by e-mail or phone.  We posted pics on Face Book too.

At 10 days things are looking good out in the tiny garden.
 It’s now 3 weeks since the seeds were planted, look how the potatoes are sprouting. There is also watermelon, cantaloupe, squash, carrots, lettuce and onions.  A LOT for such a small space.  We'll see how is goes as it grows!
Family time should be fun time.  Then you can use it as teaching time, not ‘preaching’ time. Let’s grow strong fruitful families!

Copyright © 2013 by Hill House Homestead ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Monday, September 2, 2013

* Hello Mountain

Not far from my house is a little mountain. Hill maybe, I’m not really sure what the correct geographical name for it is.  But I like to think of it as ‘my mountain’. I’m not sure anyone knows this. It’s part of my secret inner life, conversations I have with myself.  Anyway I love this little mountain.  I can see it from my studio window, my living room window, and my dining room window.  My kitchen window faces north and I can see a different mountain through it.  But it’s just another mountain to me, though I’m sure it has a name, I don’t know what it is.  I’ve never climbed it, so I don’t know that mountain as a friend, though it is nice to look at.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

* Gussied up Craft Table

I have one of those plastic 6 ft tables with folding legs that I use for the grand kids crafting table. It works great with rolling chairs pushed up to it for the kids. The chairs are old office chairs; they swivel and don’t take up too much room. They can be raised or lowered if needed. A couple of the chairs have arms and they are perfect for the smaller ones who could fall off if the chair turns too quickly. I can easily put 6 at this table. Yup works great, but……it was so ugly!
** Update: This plastic covered table worked well for 2 years until it succumbed to the kids intense crafting techniques ;) I recovered it using vinyl sold by the yard from the fabric store. First though, I changed out the fabric underneath. Here is a pic of the new look.