July 31, 2012


Posted by Lori~

I was in Devil’s Lake several weeks ago (months actually), but I forgot to post on some of my excellent thrift store finds found during our annual Devil’s Lake ND week at the lake.

Wow—I found some awesome items…check them out here:

Craft supplies:  craft scissors and plain plaques (I have a craft project for these)
Clear glass soap dish to hold my rings near my kitchen sink
Like NEW GAP flats for ME!
Clothes for Mur-Man (he doesn't need any, but I still love to look)
You can never have too many!

July 30, 2012


Posted by Lori~

Remember, I had a stained living room ceiling from condensation in my roof.  Steve cut it and literally put a HOLE IN IT!

Since then he repaired it by drilling in two-by-fours, screwing in sheet-rock, mudding, sanding, texturing, and painting.

It looks like new!  You can’t even tell there was a hole there. MUCH BETTER!

July 27, 2012

Freezer Jam! Easiest Ever!

Posted by Ethne~

I’m all about preserving the great fresh fruits and veggies we have here in MN right now – trust me, we don’t get this come January!

When I was at Super Target the other day, they had huge flats of strawberries on sale, and I had a coupon for $1 off produce if I spent $10.  Well, since I was there to buy items for my pickles (garlic and dill), it worked out perfectly.

When I went to Menards to buy more quart glass canning jars for my pickles, I noticed that Ball brand has plastic canning jars for making freezer jam.  Have you ever had it?  It’s AMAZING!  My Grandma W always makes it – strawberry and raspberry versions.  It’s bright red and fresh and sweet and delicious.
So here’s all you do.  You don’t need to have the Ball plastic canning jars, but they do have a special seal to help prevent against freezer burn – this way you can keep the jam in the freezer for up to a year until you use it.

Mash up 2½ cups strawberries.  Add in 1 cup of sugar or artificial sweetener like Truvia or Splenda.  Add in 2 tablespoons of Ball RealFruit instant pectin.  If you can’t find Ball brand pectin, you need to look for instant pectin to use for freezer jams.

This is the only photo of the strawberries I took - now just put in jars and freeze!

Stir these three ingredients together and leave to sit on the countertop for 30 minutes.

Pour into three ½-pint freezer jars, seal up and freeze.  Up to one year in the freezer – then just put in the fridge when you’re ready to use it!  It’s like eating fresh strawberries all year long.

Have a great Friday!

July 25, 2012


Posted by Lori~

As you know, I love doing appliqué’s especially, for kid’s clothes.

Recently, one of my co-workers had a baby girl named Olive and I decided to whip up an appliqué shirt “OLIVE YOU!”.

Using fusible interfacing to create my applique
I think it turned out pretty cute, super easy, and super-low cost.

I think home-made is always better.

July 23, 2012

Barb's Pickles - O.M.G.!

Posted by Ethne~

Remember the DELICIOUS slushburger recipe we made a few months back, which originated with my bff Teresa’s mom, Barb?  You can click here to check that out.  Trust me, it’s awesome.  I’m happy to announce I’m back with another Barb masterpiece.

My 2nd childhood mom and cooking genius - Barb S

This time, it’s her famous pickles.  And it’s so valuable a recipe that I was wise enough to write it down when I was in junior high.  I knew I had it written down, but when I pulled it out to make the pickles last week, I recognized that it was my writing from that era.  Isn’t that cool?  I was clever even back then; and I knew one day, I’d thank me.

Funny how my writing has changed since then.
Barb added extra information later

I’ve always been so-so on cucumbers.  My sis Whit can eat them off the vine with a vengeance.  Not me.  I don’t like the seeds in the middle.  I like the English cucumbers, and as an adult, I’ll eat any cucumbers pretty well.  But nothing’s better than a pickle.

Thrifty Nana (my mom) and her mom, and her mom before her, can some killer sweet pickles.  Two versions.  One is the sliced sweet 'bread and butter' pickle you probably would be familiar with.  One is called ‘company best’ and they are dyed deep green.  I give them total props because their recipe is great, but I really have never been a lover of sweet pickles.  I’m a dill kinda gal.

Barb knows how much I love her pickles.  We only lived 3 houses apart my whole life in Williston, so I would run over there at any hour of the day or night and let myself in.  I knew the code to their garage door if the door wasn’t unlocked.  Of course that meant I helped myself to their fridge, including plenty of pickles.  Since we’ve moved away after high school, Barb and Teresa always seem to keep me supplied.  Barb brought me pickles for Teresa’s wedding last summer – and Teresa gave us each a jar at Girls Trip last weekend!!!

This is all that's left of the Steph's jar from Girl's Trip - and it was immediately eaten thereafter

Steph couldn’t take hers back on the plane with her, so we finished her jar off, lock stock and barrel, including the cabbage and garlic clove, which are one of the magic elements of the pickle recipe.

So without further ado, and straight from my own junior high genius (plus an addition from Barb later on), here it is.  It’s amazingly easy and quick.

To prepare, purchase some wide-mouth quart-size glass canning jars.  Both Thrifty Nana and Barb use Kerr brand, but if you can’t find that, Ball or other brands will be just fine.  You will also need wide-mouth canning ‘flats’, which are the lids with the plastic seal around the edge and the wide-mouth 'rings' to screw the flat onto the jar nice and tight.

As it turns out, Thrifty Nana and I had some small-mouth quart-size jars, so we used some of those rather than buying more jars.  When you can on a regular basis, you amass plenty of canning supplies and jars can be re-used.  Flats cannot be re-used, however.  The wide-mouth jars are much easier to pack with cucumbers, though, so I recommend those if you have them or are purchasing them.

See how the jar on the bottom left is wide and the bottom middle has a narrow neck?

Also essential, of course, are the cucumbers and dill fronds.  Really the best way to acquire these in quantity is to grow them yourselves, but if you cannot do so, you can probably buy the cucumbers and dill at a grocery store or farmer’s stand/market.  Perhaps not the baby pickles, but you could buy larger cucumbers and slice them.

The bottom cucumbers are from Whit's yard, the rest from TN's neighbor

Beautiful, huh?

Too big for a jar!  What to do?
Dried dill from Thrifty Nana's garden last year - we ran out of fresh!

Whit and I planned to can pickles (she’s a fanatic of Barb’s pickles, and she hasn’t had the benefit of eating them all these years because she lived far away and, trust me, I guard them with my life anyway) when we planted her garden this year, so she has cucumbers growing.  Thrifty Nana has dill growing in her garden, so we’re set there (though she must’ve weeded some out because we don’t have as much there as we thought) – a bit of a crisis.

These cucumbers, though, are from TN’s sweet little neighbor lady.  She planted veggie plants all over her yard and has quite a few cucumbers.  She proudly brought a few over to TN.  They are small, and have little seeds, but they are not small enough to be the traditional size of Barb’s pickles.  No worries, I just cut them into slices.  We picked a couple of babies from Whit’s plants too. {Note: since I wrote this post up, TN's neighbor lady gave Whit and me another 10 gallon pail full of cucumbers.  We canned nearly 20 quarts of pickles tonight - hence the dried dill!}

We ended up with a TON of pickles tonight!

The recipe:

13 cups water
4 cups white vinegar
1 cup salt

This makes what I call the pickling ‘brine’.

IMPORTANT STEP:  The night before canning, wash the cucumbers and put them in a bowl of water, then in the fridge.  Take them out ½ hour to 1 hour before canning the next day to bring them back to room temperature.  This will prevent them from getting mushy as pickles.

Right before canning, wash your jars so they are absolutely clean before use.  TN and I just run them through the dishwasher and take them out as we fill them.  Have your flats and rings right at hand too.

In the bottom of each jar, place finely-chopped (1/2”-1” size pieces) pieces of cabbage about an inch high in the bottom, and one good-sized clove of garlic.  Place in one whole frond of dill, seed-tops and all.

Garlic & Cabbage

Pack the cucumbers into the jar as tightly as you can without smashing them.  I found after-the-fact that my veggies floated around in the jar.  It could be that they are sliced, not whole, or it could be that they were not packed as tightly as I thought they were (though I thought they were!)

While filling the jars, Whit cut a slice of cucumber and allowed the dewdrops (see them at the top?) to form and then we put them around our eyes for beauty treatment.  So smart, that girl.

Place the flats in a small pot of water and put on the stove, bringing it to a low boil.  Simmer the flats until you actually use them.


Now boil the water, vinegar and salt in a large pot.  When it comes to a rolling boil, fill the jars to within ½” of the brim of the jar.  No joke.  Wipe the rim of the jar down with a clean cloth and immediately fish out a flat and place it, centered, on the rim of the jar.  Screw the ring as tightly as you can and set the jar down on the countertop.

Thrifty Nana laying out the rings


Within a few minutes, you should hear a little pop as the flat seals down.  If this doesn’t happen, it means the jar did not seal and that the pickles cannot be shelved indefinitely.  All is not lost though; place the un-sealed jar in the fridge and eat it in a month or so.  If you are not certain you heard a pop, you can tap on the lid; if the lid makes a hollow, tinny sound, it means it sealed; also, when it seals, it sucks the lid in, so the lid will either be flat or the center will be very slightly indented (depending on the type you bought).

With the sealed jars, they may be placed on your cupboard shelf (we put them in the basement shelves so they don’t take kitchen shelf space) to pickle.  Barb says they have to wait for a year to be eaten.  While this seems like forever, trust me, it’s worth the wait.  And the longer you wait, the better they get. 

So, Junior High Ethne, I salute you.

And Thanks, Barb, for answering questions I had on Wednesday as I canned!


Posted by Lori~

Crafty G-Ma (my mom) and I have been planning my quilt for awhile.  My mom is an EXPERT quilter and she asked if I wanted a quilt hand-made of course by her.  Is that even a question?

Of course, YES!  I decided to go gray, black, white, and burnt orange—to match my bedroom.

She just completed it and I recently got to use it on my bed.  And I am LOVING IT!  GORGEOUS!

It looks perfect with my IKEA bed frame.  Next up, throw pillows.

July 20, 2012


Posted by Ethne~

I wore a new dress today and did my make-up really cute.  I even wore my hair in a chignon with my new hair stick I got on girls trip. 

Shaun told me I look like a nun.

We’ll be back on Monday with substance…I made pickles from Teresa’s Mom, Barb’s recipe!

PS—Shaun’s not in trouble.

July 18, 2012


Posted by Lori~

You may have seen it on Pinterest.  Let’s just say, we tested it during Girl’s Trip and it ROCKED…DECISION DONE!

So, here’s the solution to cleaning corn on the cob in an INSTANT.

Simply stick the entire cob in the microwave and microwave on high for four minutes for one cob or eight minutes for two cobs.  Once done, cut off the end of the cob where it is connected.

And slide it out!  We did find that you sometimes need to use a knife to start the sliding process. 

And it comes out completely clean.

We then turned our corn on the cob into Mexican corn.  Complete with chili powder, sour cream, parmesan cheese—delicious!

July 17, 2012

GT 2012--FOOD (DE-LISH!)

Posted by Ethne~

Remember our post here from Girls Trip last year where we made Joyce Tomatoes – tomato slices, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper?  Dalish.

Well, the dish is turning into a GT must-have when we cook our meal together, and this year we decided to give it our own twist.  While out shopping, Steph grabbed a vacuum-packed bag of small fresh mozzarella balls to add to our Joyce Tomatoes.  Add cheese?  Of course!

In order to marinate things all together, we decided to cut the tomatoes into large bite-size pieces and put them into a bowl, rather than flat slices on a plate.  Just something different.

And since we needed to buy dried basil anyway, we decided to buy fresh basil at the farm stand we stopped at when we purchased fresh sweet corn.  They were a friendly-type sort so they decided to sell us the whole basil plant, and then threw in an extra basil plant for free – all for the bargain price of $2.

So in went the fresh basil – which we washed and then tore the leaves into pieces instead of cutting.  It releases the flavors better than if the leaves are cut with a knife.  I don’t remember where I learned that, but doesn’t it sound fancy?

Our recipe is an eye-ball method, but if you’d like to try it, here’s an approximation of what we did:

3 large organic tomatoes (those were the best price), largely diced
10-12 small orange grape tomatoes (we had a coupon), halved
1 package small mozzarella balls
10 large basil leaves, torn into pieces (if you don’t have fresh basil, use 2 teaspoons dried basil; dried herbs are stronger than fresh)
½-2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
½-2/3 cup balsamic vinegar
sea salt or kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

The reason I gave a range of the oil and vinegar is that I usually start with the smaller end of the amount and then add more if I think it needs more for flavor.  For example, if it seems like there is too much vinegar bite, you can put a little more olive oil in and that will balance things out.  Or if it seems like there isn’t enough flavor, add in a little more vinegar.

Let marinate for an hour at room temperature.

It was so fast, quick, and delish that this was the ONLY photo Lori took of the entire process!

Friends, these tomatoes and cheese barely made it to the dinner table.  We all had forks out and were eating out of the marinating bowl as we cooked the rest of our dinner.  It was so good.

Since Lori was taking dinner pictures, here are a few other yummy things we ate:


Posted by Lori~

As you know, Ethne and I just came back from a fabulous weekend in Stillwater, MN with some GREAT friends.  It was relaxing and of course tons of FUN!  LOTS OF CATCHING UP….AND TONS OF FACEBOOK CREEPING!

So, as I think back on this marvelous weekend…I thought it was fitting to start with a photo overview of our awesome weekend!  GREAT times!  WOMS—EVERYONE NEEDS A WEEKEND AWAY WITH SOME GREAT GIRLFRIENDS!

And…Stillwater is a WONDERFUL CITY!

All week, Ethne and I will be posting about food cooked and lessons learned!  Stay tuned!
These girls had a surprise baby shower!
Ethne working and teaching her make-up magic!
Teresa looks GORGE!!!!

A night out on the boat cruise!