Kids’ Name Artwork

Monday was a holiday (MLK Day) and so I had to come up with ways to entertain my 3 kids since they weren’t going to school. I had this craft all ready to go, and it kept them busy for a good 30 minutes. They enjoyed the process since it involved finger painting and making a mess. 🙂







Kids’ Name Artwork

You will need acrylic paints of your choice, a canvas, painter’s tape and a child. I bought my canvases at Michaels’. They had 2 to a pack on sale for about $7. You can buy the acrylic paints at Michael’s or Joann Fabrics. I bought mine at Wisconsin Craft Market. They can range between $1-$2.








The first thing you do is tape your child’s name on the canvas. Do the best you can. Upper case letters are a bit easier than lower case. That’s all the prep you need to do before you let the kids loose. I let each kid pick out 3-4 colors and then I put dollops of paint on paper plates. Tell the child to cover the entire canvas with paint.








When the child is done painting, let the paint dry.








Pull off the tape.








And there you have it! Easy, fun and makes a great decoration for the child’s room.



Crochet Heart Garland

It may be a little early to decorate for Valentine’s Day, but I’m tired of the winter decorations already. But then I realized that I don’t have any V-Day decorations. So I’ve set out to make some. The first thing I’ve made is a crochet heart garland. It took me many tries to get the right size heart. I think this one is perfect!

Crochet Heart Garland














Here’s how to make a heart:

Rnd 1: Make a magic circle, ch 3 (counts as first dc),  9 dc into the circle. Pull the circle tight and join with sl st in top of beg ch.

Rnd 2: ch 3 (counts as first dc), 4 dc in the first stitch, and 1 dc in each of next three stitches. (Dc, tr, dc) in the next stitch. (You now have half a heart.) Dc in each of next three stitches. 5 dc into the next stitch. Ss into the last stitch.

Rnd 3: Change color and ch 1. Sc in the next stitch. 2 sc in each of next three stitches. Sc in each of next five stitches. (Sc, dc, sc) in the next stitch (this will form the bottom of the heart), sc in each of next five stitches, 2 sc in each of next three stitches, sc in the last stitch. Fasten off and weave in ends.

If you have any questions, let me know!


Hearty Lentil Soup

Before I start cooking, I often research my recipe online to see if I can improve on it. I start by searching America’s Test Kitchen, then, and Yesterday I made lentil soup, and in my search I did not find a recipe similar to the one I use. This recipe was passed down to me from my mom, and it’s totally different from what’s out there.

Hearty Lentil Soup







Hearty Lentil Soup


1 lb pork sausage links
1 Tbsp olive oil
4 medium parsnips, cut into chunks (peel them if they have a waxy coating)
4 medium carrots, chopped in slices
2 medium onions or 1 large, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups lentils, rinsed
1/4 tsp marjoram leaves
4 cups chicken broth
1 16 oz can of diced tomatoes with juice
8 slices Italian bread about 1″ thick cut on the diagonal
1 cup shredded swiss cheese


In a large soup pot, cook sausage links, drain on paper towels and cut into chunks. Put to the side for now. In the same pot add 1 Tbsp olive oil, parsnips, onion and garlic and saute over medium heat for 8-10 minutes. Add lentils and marjoram and saute for 5 minutes more. Add chicken broth, tomatoes with the juice, sausage chunks and enough water to have the liquid level almost to the top of the pot (about 5-6 cups). Heat to boiling then reduce to low, stir occasionally. Simmer for 25-30 minutes until lentils are tender. The original recipe said to place sliced bread in a bowl, ladle soup over and sprinkle with cheese, but you can also serve the bread on the side as I have here.



Cranberry Orange Upside Down Cake

cranberry orange upside down cake

This next cranberry recipe not only makes a beautiful presentation but tastes spectacular, too. The cranberries and mandarin oranges are a nice departure from the standard pineapple upside down cake.



1 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. ground ginger

½ tsp. ground cinnamon

¼ tsp. baking soda

¼ tsp. salt

3 Tbsp. butter

¾ cup packed brown sugar

1 11-ounce can mandarin orange sections, drained

1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries

2 eggs

¾ cup plain Greek yogurt

¾ cup granulated sugar

6 Tbsp. butter, melted

1 tsp. vanilla


In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, soda and salt; set aside. Place 3 Tbsp. butter in a 9” round or 8” square pan. Place pan in 350˚ oven for 3-5 minutes or until butter is melted. Remove from the oven and carefully tip pan to coat the sides with butter. Leave oven on.

Sprinkle brown sugar evenly over the bottom of the pan. Arrange orange sections over the brown sugar. Top evenly with cranberries.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, yogurt, granulated sugar, melted butter and vanilla. Add flour mixture to egg mixture, one-third at a time, stirring just until combined after each addition. Spoon batter into pan, spreading to cover fruit.

Bake in a 350˚ oven for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Let cake cool for 3-4 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of cake to loosen. Invert a serving platter over pan. Carefully turn platter and pan over; remove pan. Replace any fruit that remains in pan. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Vegetable Beef Soup

It’s been really, really cold here in Wisconsin the past week. We’re talking temps in the double-digit minuses and cancelled school days. Nothing warms up a family more than a good bowl of soup. I threw this soup together last night and everyone was pleased with the taste. Because I just grabbed whatever ingredients I had handy, I didn’t bother with measuring so I have approximated here. Just add however many seem right to you. I hope you can roll with it.

Here’s a picture of the soup. I probably should have chosen a better color bowl than pink.








stew meat

1 Tbsp. garlic, minced

½ large onion, diced

4 cups chicken stock

28 oz can diced tomatoes

6 oz tomato paste

2 large potatoes, 1” dice

Carrots, handful, sliced

Green beans, handful, sliced in half

2 small zucchinis or summer squash, sliced

Kale, handful, diced

1/4 cup Barley

Pesto – I used store bought by Christopher Ranch

Crusty bread like a baguette


In a large pot on high heat, sauté the stew meat until it is no longer pink on the outside. Add the garlic and onion and sauté for 5 minutes more. Add the chicken stock, 3 cups of water, diced tomatoes and tomato paste and stir. Add the potatoes, carrots, green beans, zucchini, kale and barley. Stir and reduce heat to low. Simmer the soup for about an hour. Serve with a dollop of pesto on top and crusty bread on the side.

Enjoy and stay warm!


Framed Recipe Cards

Here’s a fun wall decoration for your kitchen with a nod to older generations. Many of us have recipe cards from our moms or grandmothers. Written in their familiar handwriting, the recipe cards are old family gems that have become a precious memento. Here you can display those wonderful recipe cards to look at anytime you please and remember past generations of women. My recipe cards are (top to bottom) my mom’s marinara sauce recipe, my mother-in-law’s German potato salad recipe, and my aunt’s hot beef dip recipe.

Framed Recipe Cards









You will need:

  1. A handwritten recipe card
  2. A frame that will accommodate the size of a recipe card and has a mat. I bought mine at IKEA in Bloomington, MN, and I believe they’re the RIBBA Frame. It’s 8″x6″ on the outside and about 4.5″x6.5″ inside the mat.
  3. Scrapbook paper (not glossy because it doesn’t fold well) with a cooking theme.
  4. A sawtooth hanger.
  5. Scissors
  6. Tape
  7. Hammer and nail

Step 1: First you will cover the mat with scrapbook paper. This is a multi-step process as follows. Lay the scrapbook paper face down on your table. Place the mat face down on top of the paper. You will cut the paper around the outside and the inside of the mat leaving yourself an extra about .5-1″ for overlapping the frame. In this photo, the dotted lines are my cut lines.







Now you will make 4 diagonal cuts in the inner corners. See my cutting lines in this photo:








Fold back the inner edges.








Next you will make 4 diagonal cuts on the outside corners. Like this:








Fold the outside edges down. When you do this, you will notice that you have extra paper in the corners that gets in the way. Cut off those extra triangles so the paper will lie flat. In the picture below, the top left corner shows the problem. The other three corners have been trimmed.









Fold down all the edges and tape them down. Don’t worry; it doesn’t have to be pretty. The back will all be hidden inside your frame.









Voila! You have a mat covered with scrapbook paper!









Step 2: Place the recipe card under the mat and put it in the frame.

Step 3: Attach the sawtooth hanger to the top of the back of the frame.








Step 4: Hammer a nail into the wall where you want to hang your framed recipe card. Hang and enjoy!








If you have any questions, let me know. I hope you give it a try!


Embroidered Hand Prints

Here’s an easy project whose beauty belies the effort required to complete it. Embroidered hand prints record your children’s growth in a way different from the standard mark on the door frame. It’s a beautiful piece to hang on a wall in your home. I made mine in 2008 and I see such a change in the size of the kids’ hands now in 2014. I get a little pang whenever I look at it because my kids are growing up so fast!

Embroidered Hand Prints

Here’s what you do: You need to purchase a half a yard of white kona cotton, embroidery thread in your choice of color, a marking pencil or pen (check out the quilting section) and a 12″x12″ shadowbox picture frame. (If your kids have big hands, or you have lots of hands to do, you should get a larger frame and more fabric. If you are doing only one hand, go for a smaller frame and less fabric. You need enough fabric to fill the opening in the frame and a few inches on each side to wrap the fabric around the back of the frame to secure it in place.) You will need white paper (printer paper will do), a pencil, embroidery needle, scissors and an embroidery hoop.

Trace each child’s hand on a piece of white paper. Go over the tracings with the pencil again if the lines aren’t dark. To add the date, go to your word processing software (like Word) and type in the numbers you want. In mine, I had 12/08. Futz around with your numbers until you get the font that you want at the size that you want. Now, keeping in mind that you have a 12×12 space because that’s the size of your frame opening, decide where you’re going to put the hand prints and the date on the fabric. Put the fabric over each hand drawing (one at a time) and the date and trace onto the fabric with a marking pencil or pen.

The hard part is done! Now insert your fabric into the embroidery hoop and go to town embroidering the lines. Do an Internet search on “backstitch” if you’re not familiar with embroidering. The backstitch is a basic stitch that’s easy to do and will get the job done. Once you’ve embroidered all the lines, insert the fabric into the frame, you will probably have to cut the fabric down to fit.  Finally, hang your frame on a wall and stand back and admire your work. You now have a beautiful memento of when your children were young.