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Friday, August 24, 2012

Toddler Big Boy Pants

These pants are easy, and it includes creating your own pattern based on the measurements of the child.

They will be explained in my next book "The Self Reliant Homemaker".

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Garden 8-13-2012

The garden is full strength now and producing well.  Trying to decide if I want to put everything on hold for Fall/Winter or go ahead and plant the Fall crops in two weeks!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


I have been sewing again lately and taking a break from book writing!

I made 4 skirts so far, with one more to do before the end of today.

These are super easy once you get the hang of it.  If you have never sewn before, you will need to familiarize yourself with your machine, tools, and know how to sew a straight seam.

If you know that already, this skirt should take about 2 hours, if that!


I'm going to take you through creating your own simple skirt, based on the book "Sew What! Skirts". If you like to sew or think you'll like to sew, this book is a great resource.

Start by choosing your fabric. I buy on sale whenever possible. You will need 1 yard if petite.  If you are not petite, you will need about 2 yards or so.  If you want a length longer than the knee, add more fabric (about 2 1/2 yards).  If you are larger than size 24, get 3 yards just to be sure. You can also make a longer skirt using the 3 yards.

In this instance, I've chosen a simple, pretty cotton fabric, the type usually found in the quilting areas of fabric stores. When learning how to sew, I recommend that you start with cotton fabric and make sure there is a good design on it, as it will help hide mistakes! ;)  Be sure to get a matching thread.

Take the cotton fabric home and wash it in hot water; then dry on hot as well. This is to ensure that the fabric is well shrunk (if it would tend to shrink at all), prior to your cutting it into a pattern.  Never skip that step!

Iron the fabric with right sides together, lengthwise, so the selvage is on one side and the fold on the other. (The selvage is the "finished edge" of the fabric. You can look up the word on the internet if you need more help).

At this point you may either make the skirt pattern piece on a 3' x 3' piece of pattern cloth or paper, or you may also mark the pattern directly on the fabric with a washable fabric ink pen.

Because we are making an elastic waist skirt, we will go by the hip measurement.  If your hips are smaller than your waist, do the opposite and use your waist measurement.

*Measure your hips. Add 4 1/2 inches for ease and seam allowances.  Write down the number.  Divide it by 4. This number is called "A".

*Figure out your desired length of the skirt. From your waist to your thighs or knees or calves or whatever you like. Add 2 inches for the hem and waist casing. This number is called "B"

Here is an example:

If my hips measure at 40 inches, I would add 4 inches for ease/seam allowance and write down 44 inches.  Divide it by 4 = 11 inches for "A".  I would then  use a ruler to measure from the fold edge of the pattern/fabric toward the selvage 11 inches.

I want my skirt length to be 30 inches, so I add 2 inches and measure down from the waist with a ruler down 32 inches for “B”, which equals the length of my skirt.


1.     Place fabric on the work table, with the fold closest to you.

2.     A little below the top edge of the fabric (or on pattern paper), close to the fold, using a washable fabric ink pen, mark a dot.  See the diagram. 

3.     Mark another dot an inch above that (to plot the waistline curve).  The top dot on the diagram is that dot.

4.     From the waistline curve dot, (shown as the second one down) use a ruler to mark the “A” dot (in the example, this is when I would measure from the fold line out 11 inches out to my hip line).  Mark the dot for the hip measurement ("A") as shown.

5.     For the skirt length, mark the "B" measurement dot at the fold line.

6.     With a yardstick, mark from waistline curve to the hem at several points then joint the points.

Cut out two of these pattern pieces on the fold.  You’ll end up with two half skirt pieces.

Get out your elastic to get it ready.  Pull it around your waistline and measure, pulling just a little bit (now is not the time to pull it tightly!).  Cut off extra elastic as needed.

Place the two fabric pieces, one on top of the other, right sides together.

Pin and sew side seams.  I use a serger, as you can tell in the photo, but I'm also showing using pinking shears for the waistline, which you may do at the side seams or hem too.

This photo shows sewing the side seams with a regular seam stitch.

This shows sewing the side seams using a serger.

At the waistline, fold over fabric, right sides together, 1 inch (one inch) wide.  Iron.  Pin every few inches.  Allow 2 inches to remain open so you can put in the elastic. My elastic piece is shown.

Stitch all around the waistline, making sure your needle is no more than ¼ inch from the edge.  This will create the casing for the elastic.  Don’t forget to keep 2 inches open for the elastic.

Put a safety pin on the end of the elastic. Force it through the casing.  Go all the way around your skirt.

TIP: using another pin, tack the end of the elastic to the opening of the casing so it won’t accidently get pulled in its entirety.

Try on the skirt.

If it fits well, carefully attach the two ends of the elastic together and stitch them together, making sure the elastic isn’t crimped or turned funny in the casing.

Turn up the hem about a half inch.  Iron.  If you wish, you can use double sided fusible tape, such as Stitch Witchery: to tack down every five inches or so.  Follow directions.


Wednesday, July 18, 2012


When your harvest your tomato crop, there is nothing more wonderful than fresh tomato, right out of your garden, warm from the sun.  Delicious!

To preserve these tomatoes, you can either freeze them, can them, or dry them.

I prefer drying, as it takes up less space, plus I can add them to my Soups in a Bag.

Here is my method: (notice the tomato juice appears pink more than red!)

Take your fresh tomatoes.  Cut out the centers.  Cut in half or so.  Put into a blender or food processor and blend until reasonably smooth.  Pour onto your flex sheets in the dehydrator.  Dry for 8 hours or until brittle all the way through.  Peel off (it will break up, but this is fine)  Freeze the tomato leather in a plastic bag for 48 hours in case bugs laid eggs inside the fruit.  Remove from the freezer, and while still frozen, crush.  Let come to room temperature, then pour into mason jars.  Add oxygen absorber packet, and store for up to 2 years (or use as part of a dried foods recipe).

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Canning Meat

I am so spoiled.  For the past few years I've made sure that my own cans (or commercial cans) of meat are on my pantry shelves, allowing me to plop in the meat into any meal I'm preparing.

I use ground beef for tacos, taco salad, tamale pie, spaghetti, and more.  The spaghetti sauce is made up in advance, along with the ground beef, and is pressure canned as meat spaghetti sauce.  The rest of the ground beef on my shelves waits for use in soups, casseroles, tacos, that sort of thing.

I also pressure can beef chunks to use in any dish that calls for chunks of beef, such as stews.

Chicken is VERY easy to can (well, all meat is).  I use my pressure canned chicken for casserole dishes, mainly. So easy to plop in the pint of chicken and cook the meal!

I am canning ground beef today.  As you can see, my Presto pressure canner guage shows about 13 pounds.  It will slowly go down another pound but I won't take it below 12 pounds because I have an electric range.  Otherwise the pressure may drop below 11, which will ruin my canning for the day!

Thursday, June 21, 2012


I've created the blog for the fourth book: COMFORT MEALS IN A BAG


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Pizza Balls

Our daughter showed me how to make pizza balls while I visited her last week.  They were delicious!  When I told my hubby about it he wondered how they would taste using the Olive Bread recipe from Bread in a Bag.  So I made the Olive Bread recipe as usual, making sure that I let it rise in a warm place for two solid hours (it's hard to rise this bread because of the addition of the olives), then pulled of pieces, rolled them into balls, flattened them and place two pepperoni slices and some shredded Italian mix cheese inside, then sealed them into itself.  I baked them at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, and they were sooo good!! TOO good!!!

We dipped them into a great tomato sauce that I had dried a few weeks ago.  Yum!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Gardening for Spring

Gardening for Spring starts early in California.  I usually have everything planted, from lettuce to green beans, by the middle of March.  This year it was a little later, but still some things are past their prime and I removed them.  The potatoes are harvested, the two different lettuces are now pulled out and gone.  I went to Capital Nursery and bought more lettuce and spinach and they are planted.  The tomatoes are doing great, the green beans, cantelope and cucumbers are starting up nicely, and the chard still is doing very well.  The herbs are taking over the planet, but the bell peppers are their usual sluggish self.

My garden isn't helped by the fact it's been very very mild weather here up until today, when it reached 98 degrees F.

The photos show: (top) from left, an oak tree that we are keeping less than 7 feet tall, in the back, a kumquat bush, and a peach tree.In front of the box is an apricot tree, and out of vision on the right of it is a pear and apple tree.  Two lemons are in the back and a lime and orange on the unseen left.  In the box: peas, tomatoes, chard, zucchini, green beans and more tomatoes. Far back is an artichoke bush.

Bottom photograph: left box, fava beans, then just planted some lettuce, then tomato, then more spinach and lettuce and tomatoes.  Box on the right, herbs, cantelope, cabbage, chard, etc.

Gardening is more than a pass-time or hobby for me. It is a way to feed my husband and myself without having to go to the grocery store, or wonder about the pesticides and herbicides used.  I use fertilizer once or twice a year, but that's it.  In the spring and fall, and some of winter, I have fresh lettuce available any day that I choose, usually 3 times a week or so.  Potatoes are usually growing as well.  Spinach and chard are the other ones we use.  In the summer, a bevy of tomatoes, tons of zucchini, cabbage and more are offered in our garden boxes.  I don't know the actual cost savings because there is the cost of seeds, water, etc., but it doesn't matter.  To me, there is food stored (usually dried, but some canned) and then there is the need for fresh, and a home garden is the way to go.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Thank you Amanda

Thanks to Amanda for letting me know my link didn't work! Now it does, thanks friend!


My third book, SOUP IN A BAG is now ready to order! You can click on the picture of the book.  See photos here on this blog and also at for some of the soups offered.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Garden May 17, 2012

The garden is so lovely, it's so nice to be out there.  I wish everyone would put lots of plants and vegetables out in their yard, or deck, or wherever possible, just because the affect is so soothing.

Here are pictures of our yard and various plants.  If you have a question about any of them, please let me know... :)

Monday, May 7, 2012

White Bean Soup

This soup is super easy and one of my favorites!  It will be in my book Soup in a Bag, to be published soon!

Bread in a Bag Wheat Bran

* These adjustments are needed for 4 recipes in the"Bread in a Bag" and "Bread in a Bag, Book Two".

Flaked wheat (used in Wheat Flake Rolls and Wheat Flake Bread) has sufficient moisture content that it must be freshly flaked prior to using in a recipe (or refrigerated/frozen). Check out the recipes "Wheat Flake Rolls" and "Wheat Flake Bread" and adjust them in your book(s) to show the flaked wheat is added in, and NOT included in your Mylar storage bags.

Also, wheat bran is used in "Heavenly Bran Muffins" and "Orange Carrot Bran Muffins" must be taken out of the Mylar bag ingredients and used as an "Add-in", as wheat bran must be kept refrigerated.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Italian Pasta Soup

The soup of the day.  Delicious! Only one more soup to try before the book is ready for final review and testing of those recipes I haven't re-tested yet!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Green Bean Soup

This beautiful Spring soup is delicious.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Potatoes Growing

I just love the beautiful foliage of potatoes!  This picture was taken last week and already they are even larger!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Beef Stew and Black and Bean Soup

Beef Stew needs to be a little time I'll cook the roux a bit more.
The Black Bean cooked up so fast! ;)

Beef Stew and Black and Bean Soup

  • Beef Stew needs to be a little time I'll cook the roux a bit more.
    The Black Bean cooked up so fast! ;)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Today - Cajun Potato Stew

This delicious, thick and hearty, spicy  stew is based on the famous Louisiana Cajun Sausage Gumbos, and goes great with my rustic breads.  Andouille sausage is used, but it may also be made completely vegetarian with ham TVP or by adding more potatoes.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Today Italian Pesto Bean Soup

This soup turned out so delicious and so easy to make! You're going to love this in your food storage! :)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

TODAY - Clam Chowder

This delicious clam chowder is easy to make and a wonderful addition to your pantry.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Kidney Beans Toxin

This is interesting information for those who like raw kidney beans in their salads.

(Note, this doesn't apply to Soup in a Bag as the beans are thoroughly cooked and dried)

Kidney Beans = Special Note:

Kidney beans have a protein that can be toxic, causing food poisoning symptoms.  It is not fatal, but is characterized by severe vomiting that is “debilitating”.  Not pleasant!

To avoid this, red and white kidney beans must be thoroughly cooked before eating.  (Since we use beans that have been cooked and dehydrated, there will not be any issues with the toxin.)

For more information: Go to the FDA website: and in the search engine, look up “phytohaemagglutinin”, to find the article.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


This huge chard plant in our garden box has been there, growing steadily, for months.  It lasted through Fall and Winter (dormant) and then took off again last month.  I thought the leaves would be tough, so I avoided cooking them--until today. Wow! Delicious!

To make: Strip green leaf part from white stems.  Boil green chard in water and chicken bouillon and pepper until soft.

Sweet and wonderful!