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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Gardening Seminar Friday March 26th

A big THANK YOU to Barb Ostrem, Bill Goodrich and Judy Deim for their interesting and helpful gardening presentations. Sister Ostrem brought a beautiful array of seeds and spoke on seed saving and growing techniques. Judy Deim gave us ideas on when to plant and how to lengthen the growing season. Bill Goodrich shared some of his gardening knowledge learned over many years such as how to get rid of yellow jackets, scare off the deer and plant and take care of raspberry plants. And THANKS to all of you who came. We hope to see even more of you this fall when we are planning a harvest time seminar.

Lengthening a Skirt

Have you notice that skirts styles are getting shorter again? Have you ever had a little girl that is growing up but not out, and find that her skirt is too short, but the next size up is too wide? It is really easy to lengthen almost any kind of skirt or dress.

Here is a little girl's skirt that is too short. I found some matching material--you need less than 1/2 yard.

I cut off the bottom of the dress....

... leaving a raw edge.

My skirt needs to be lengthened by 3". I will cut a strip 7" tall. That means I can fold the fabric in half and avoid having to sew a hem, and also leave room for a 1/2 seam.
A good rule of thumb is that a ruffle needs to be 1 1/2 to 2 times the distance around the skirt you are sewing it to, plus an extra inch for a 1/2 seam. My skirt is 30" around the bottom, so I will need a 61" length of fabric (30" x 2" + 1" for the seam). This will take two strips of fabric, sewn together and trimmed to 61". You now have a strip of fabric 7" high by 61" long. Sew the fabric into a circle.
Now fold the circle in half and press. You now have a circle 60" around and 3 1/2" high.

Mark the halfway point between the two side seams with a pin.
You will use this pin marking to later center the ruffle on the front and back of your skirt.

Sew two strips of basting rows, one 1/2" from the edge, the other 1/4" .

Gather, distributing evenly around the circle.

Pin to the bottom of your skirt, making sure to match centers and side seams
and sew, using 1/2" seam.

Zigzag the edges of your fabric and skirt together to keep fraying in check and
to strengthen the seam.

Trim stray threads and press seam toward skirt.

I think the lengthened skirt is
cuter than the original, don't you?

You can also lengthen "big girl" skirts. This is my 16 year old's dress that I added a straight piece of fabric to. (It may look like a skirt and top, but it is a one piece dress.)
This strip adds 6", and as you can see it isn't gathered. I think the style of this dress looks better with an ungathered addition. I used the same method: cutting a strip 13" so I could fold it in half and have a seam allowance , and 44" long, the exact measurement of the bottom of the skirt plus 1 inch for seam allowance. A dress that was 6 inches too short is now a modest length, and once again, I like the look of the added fabric. It turned a plain dress into a more interesting dress.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Make a Spring Tutu

Little girls love to dress up, and tutus are so popular right now. Here are some instructions to make your own tutu, very inexpensive, easy to do, and you don't even need
a sewing machine.

Start by gathering 4 to 5 yards of tulle. You can use as few or as many colors as you want.
Cut the tulle into strips that are around 3 inches wide and 24-30 inches long. There are no hard and fast rules. You can make the strips wider if you wish, or longer or shorter. The one I am making today is the width of my tulle--44 inches. It will be floor length on a 3 year old when it's done.

Cut a lot of strips--around 30-50. More strips make a puffier, fuller tutu.

Measure the waist of your child and cut a piece of elastic,
adding a several inches if you are knotting it, or

two inches if you are sewing. The child I measured was 22" around the waist, so I cut
a piece 24" to allow a one inch overlap to sew.

Now find a chair or a stroller to put your piece of elastic around.

Fold your tulle strips in half, leaving a loop at the top and place behind the elastic.

Pull the ends through and pull tight forming a secure knot around the elastic.

Alternate your colors.

Slide the knotted tulle strips close together and continue to fill in around the elastic until completely covered. The more tulle strips you use, the fuller your skirt will be.

If you want, you can add some embellishments. I sewed (or you could glue) a daisy
on the end of a ribbon.

Add the ribbon the same way: fold in half, create a loop and pull ends through.

These tutus are so easy, and cost around $5 to make.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Colstrip Goals

Recently the Stake Relief Society presidency visited the wonderful sisters of Colstrip Ward. One of the exciting things going on in their Relief Society is a project to set some personal goals. They are personal goals which go along with the goals their bishop has asked them to accomplish.
The Colstrip Relief Society is focusing on four areas:

1. Submit a 4 generation sheet to the family history library.

"The church has asked us to do this for years and it may identify some ancestors whose work you can take to the temple or arrange for someone else to take those names to the temple."

2. Set a personal goal to do better at scripture study than they are currently doing.
"President Griffin talked about this a little in our stake conference last fall. He mentioned a 10-min a day/5 days/week Book of Mormon study-just a suggestion."

3. Temple attendance.
"If you are currently going once a month try to go 13 times this year or 24 times this year. If you have not gone for a long time or have never been to the temple just talk to the Bishop and he will help you."
4. Visiting Teaching
"In our January 5th Sunday meeting the bishop taught us that we should be doing a little better in our visiting teaching/home teaching by aiming to do a Celestial visiting teaching to reach out a little more, be more interested and make our visits better."

These are worthy goals, Colstrip! Thank you for sharing them with us.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if each sister in the Billings East Stake
set similar goals for her own life?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Make Your Own Bisquick

You can make your own baking mix for a fraction of the cost of buying bisquick, and avoid the additives in the commercial version.

You need:
5 cups flour
3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups instant nonfat dry milk
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons cream of tartar

Sift together, and blend well.

Put in an airtight container, label, and store in a cool dry place (the fridge or the freezer work well). Store up to 3 months, longer if in the freezer.

Now you can make pancakes, waffles, biscuits, or an impossible pie:
Impossible Cheeseburger Pie
1 lb lean ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
or use one bag of "meat mixture" from the recipe posted earlier this month.
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup baking mix
1 cup milk
2 eggs
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 9 inch pie pan with cooking spray. Cool beef and onion over med-high heat, stirring frequently, until beef is thoroughly cooked; drain (or use meat mixture). Stir in salt. (Omit salt if you are using meat mixture.)
Spread in pie pan; sprinkle with cheese.
Stir all remaining ingredients in medium bowl with wire whisk or fork until blended. Pour into pie plate.
Bake about 25 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Dinner in a Hurry

Sometimes there is just not enough time at the end of the day to cook supper. One way to cut down on kitchen time is to cook a meat mixture ahead of time and freeze it in one-meal portions. That way you can cook when you have time and cut down on cook time when you're in a hurry. Here is an idea for a meat mixture that can be used in a variety of meals.

You will need:
10 lbs ground beef
10 cups total chopped onion, peppers, and celery
2 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon pepper, or to taste
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste

You can use any combination of vegetables to get ten cups total. I generally use 2 cups peppers and 4 cups each of celery and onions.

Cook the ground beef. Buying a ten pound package is generally 40 cents a pound cheaper than buying a smaller package. You will need 2 large pans to cook this much at one time.

When the meat is done, add the chopped vegetables and cook until vegetables are tender,
but still somewhat crisp, 8-10 minutes.

Label your freezer bags. Use 10 bags if you want 1 pound of meat in each.

Fill with meat mixture. One pound ends up being 2 1/2 to 3 cups per bag. I used extra lean ground beef, which leaves more meat when cooked.

Freeze these bags until needed. This whole process, including chopping and frying, took less than 30 minutes. Of course I didn't have small children underfoot!
With the addition of a few simple ingredients you can now create fast and tasty meals. The meat mixture is easily defrosted in your microwave or on your stove top.

Some suggested uses:
Tacos: Add taco seasoning to a bag of meat mixture. Use for tacos or taco salad.

Baked potatoes: Bake a potato in the microwave. Cut open, top with meat mixture and cheese and heat in the oven or microwave till cheese is melted.

Stroganoff: Heat meat mixture on stove top, add 1/4 cup butter, 2 tablespoons flour, can of mushrooms, can of cream of mushroom soup, simmer gently for 10 minutes. Stir in one cup sour cream and warm, serve over rice, noodles, or potatoes.

Sloppy Joes: Combine one bag meat mixture, one can tomato soup, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, one teaspoon prepared mustard. Warm through and serve on hamburger buns.

Or: Add to spaghetti sauce, lasagna, chili, or any recipe that calls for ground beef.
Or: Combine with rice or pasta, add a can of soup, and top with cheese, crushed chips, or fried onions from a can and bake in the oven till hot.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Creating a Garden Spot

Do you have the perfect sunny spot for a garden, except that it is currently covered with lawn? You can make it into a garden spot with a little time and very little work.

Start collecting newspaper. Save the part of the newspaper that doesn't include the ads. The ads are generally made out of a different, shinier paper. Regular newspaper uses soy-based dyes, which decompose quickly and don't harm the environment. Ads on shiny paper may contain petroleum-based dyes which don't decompose for a long time and can be harmful to plants and people
Pick a garden spot. Make sure it gets at least 6 hours of sun if you want to use
it for vegetables or sun-loving flowers.

Cover with 4-6 layers of newspaper, and use compost, grass clippings, dirt, or (temporarily) rocks to keep the wind from blowing the paper away. Watering down the paper helps it stay in place, and if it gets snowed on that's fine, too. In six weeks the paper will have mostly decomposed, the grass underneath will have disappeared, and you now have a patch to plant vegetables and flowers in. It works amazingly well and is a good way to recycle your newspaper. If your weeds got away from you last summer, you can use this method to keep them from germinating this spring. Just lay down a layer of paper over the problem spot and new weeds won't grow.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Freezing Avocados

I usually buy avocados in a bag to get a better deal. Sometimes, I don't use the bag before the avocados become overripe. I discovered that avocados freeze well. Who knew?
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Here's how to freeze an avocado:
Pick avocados that yield gently when squeezed. Remove the rind and pit and mash well with a fork.

Add 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon or lime juice per avocado.
Mix well. The juice keeps the avocado from getting brown and icky looking.

Put the avocado in a labeled bag and freeze. Defrost overnight in fridge and use as a sandwich spread, taco topping, guacamole recipe, or any other way you like your avocado. You won't be able to tell it isn't fresh and you'll always have avocados on hand!