Category Archives: DIY

Valentine DIY

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I co-teach the kindergarten Sunday School class with my boyfriend, Tim.  We usually have a plethora of personalities to keep us busy, but this week a lot of people were sick.   We only had one little girl named Amelia.  She’s as sweet as can be and usually really shy. However, this week we got her to open up more because she was the only one.  Since Valentine’s Day is coming up, we decided to ask her if she liked any boys at school.  After much prying, we discovered the name of her crush.  I’m not allowed to tell you who it is because it’s top secret.  We had fun teasing her about it though.  She always insisted that “He’s not my boyfriend!”  But he totally was.

After that lively discussion, we taught her the parable of the pearl of great price.  Since we had some time left (and only one kid in class), I decided we could make some Valentine cards.  She decided to give it to her brother. Oh well…

I found this idea on Etsy and thought it was the cutest thing ever.  It looked simple enough to make, so I thought I’d give it a try!  If you are making this with older kids, they could probably do fine cutting everything out themselves, but you can make it easier by pre-cutting the pieces.

Here’s what you’ll need.

  • Scissors
  • Glue stick
  • Colored construction paper
  • Pen
  • Small ribbon

First, cut out all the pieces.  For each card you will need:

  • 6 small hearts (use the first one as a template to cut the others so they’re all the same size)
  • 3-8 clouds
  • 2 baskets

Use the blue construction paper for the card so it looks like the hot air balloons are in the sky.  To make the balloons, put glue on half of two hearts. I didn’t have a glue stick when I was taking these pictures so I used tape.  But the ones we made in class with the glue stick were a lot easier.

Then attach another heart to each of the glued halves.

now you can put glue on the back and stick it to the card.  Do the same thing for the other balloon.

Now you’re ready to glue on the baskets below the hearts and draw the strings! Then sprinkle the clouds around.

Making the little bows was kind of tedious, but it’s too cute to leave out.

Now for the most important part… Open it up, and add your special message!

I really had fun making these.  After we helped our little student with hers, Tim and I both made one.  Then, our friend, Mary came in and made one!  I don’t always take the time to make handmade things, but doing crafts is a great way to bond with people.  Plus, who doesn’t love getting a handmade card?  I give this one 5 stars because it would be a great thing to do with kids of all ages, and it always turns out looking great!

I made them with the two-year-olds I babysit. They were so proud of their cards!

On a side note, I finally got to try out my candy molds!  Back when I posted about my dark chocolate recipe, I mentioned that I didn’t have any good molds, so my sweet Aunt Denise mailed me some! Thank you, Aunt Denise!!!

Here’s how they turned out! I tried some new flavors — some good — some not so good… but they looked amazing! I’m definitely going to make them again!

The peanut butter cups were everybody’s favorite.

I hope you all have a Happy Valentine’s Day!

Sending love,  Abby

Jack Bac Jam for Holiday Gift Giving

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Jack Bac Jam
Jack Bac Jam

Buckle up and hold on because this meat sauce recipe is going to take you over mounds of bacon and onions and right down sugar-lane filled with sweet maple syrup and a beautifully rich balsamic vinegar!

vanilla box bulbLast year at this time I suggested DIY Homemade Vanilla Extract as a lovely gift-giving idea.   Vanilla is still a wonderful gift idea, but it is best started around the first of November to be ready in December. You can still get vanilla started and just let recipients know it will be ready to use in January!

This year I am cranking it up a notch with Jack Bac Jam.  This rich and luscious jam tops your favorite steak, chicken, pork, fish or even brats!  It can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks making it another spectacular and creative do-it-yourself gift.
But wait there’s more! Click to continue reading

Homemade Apple Balsamic Vinaigrette on an Apple Walnut Salad

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When spending time in England this summer The Chief and I noticed early on that something was missing from the crowds.

Friday afternoon on the streets of London.
Friday afternoon on the streets of London.

Obesity.  Oh, we would see an occasional overweight person (probably a visiting tourist from the USA) but over-all people just seemed  thinner.

Walking a path in the Lake District of England
Walking a path in the Lake District of England

If spending time with our friends was any indication we concluded it may be because they walk so much more than we do.
And I mean walking for the sake of walking.  Walking after dinner, strolling down to the market place, or spending an afternoon on one of the many thousands of footpaths that dot the landscape of the UK.
But wait there’s more! Click to continue reading

Sugar Cookies In A Fun Bouquet

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESMy sous chef dish-washing mom and I belong to a garden club. By the very nature of “garden” club one might think we are gardeners.  That would be wrong.  We like plants, we have both toyed with growing a flowering plant or two, but gardeners we are not.

little garden
We do have this little garden close by the house but the “real” gardening (and weeding) is done by the love of my life, our Chief Gardener!

Weeding The CornOnce a year it is “our turn” for mom and I to host the garden club members for a brunch/lunch meeting.  Typically members will decorate the center of each table with a floral arrangement.  Mom and I were talking about what we should do for our floral arrangements  and we got to thinking about doing what we know best — something from the kitchen!

We decided on making sugar cookies in the shape of flowers (great idea) and then making them into a table arrangement (another great idea!)


Our first practice round looked like these.  Cute, very tasty but not much like flowers.  That was when we knew we needed to call in reinforcements!

sugar cookie dowel
We wanted our flowers to be free-form and so we made the dough into a ball, squished it with the bottom of a glass and then carefully inserted baking dowels gently into the middle of the dough.

Abbey upclose decoarting
When our very-talented and darling neighbor Abby arrived, we had 80-some cookies frosted with a glossy colorful frosting, ready to be transformed into flowers. SONY DSC

Abby is a culinary arts major and decorating cookies is child’s play for her.  I suggested I could “help” since we had so many cookies to decorate.  After one attempt we both agreed that I would be the cookie foreman, keeping the frosting made, mom would do the dishes and Abby – well, she would create!


I am including three recipes with this post.  My Gram’s sugar cookie recipe which you can see HERE as Christmas cookies.  Then there is the colorful glossy icing that dries hard and shiny and is perfect for frosting the cookies.

Buttercream Decorator Frosting

And finally, the butter cream frosting Abby made to use as decorator icing.  All-in-all I wouldn’t do anything different.

My neighbor Kathy can’t eat chocolate and so whenever we bake something that is “non-chocolate”  she gets some!  I am told she shared these with her granddaughter.

Happy Baking!
Blessings, Catherine

Sugar Cookies
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
After making this sugar cookie recipe you won't want to use any other one. Crispy on the outside and moist and yummy on the inside. Just perfect every time.
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 4 dozen
  • 1 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Cup Powdered Sugar
  • 1 Cup Butter or Margarine,* softened
  • 1 Cup Vegetable Oil
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 4 Cups and 4 Tablespoons All-purpose Flour
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 Teaspoon Cream of Tartar
  • Sugar, frosting, or sprinkles as desired
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Cream sugars and butter; add oil and beat on high until light and fluffy.
  3. Mix in eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla.
  4. Mix flour, salt, soda, cream of tartar. Stir into the wet ingredients.
  5. Use medium cookie scoop, roll dough into balls. Using the bottom of a glass, press into sugar and then press cookie ball down on cookie sheet to flatten slightly. If you are making into flowers then gently insert a cookie stick into the middle of the dough, making sure it does not poke through the dough.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes. The cookies will be light colored but done at 10 minutes. If you want them crisp and brown add another minute or two. They will spread slightly when baking so be sure and allow plenty of space around the dough.
  7. Frost and decorate as desired.
* I use butter, not margarine, but the original recipe says either one works.

To place cookie flowers into floral arrangement, add floral oasis into a flower pot, making it as tight as possible. Gently stick each cookie into the oasis forming a bouquet. Cover top with decorator grass.

Glossy Sugar Cookie Frosting
Prep time
Total time
This frosting will "dry" hard and is a perfect frosting to use alone or in conjunction with decorator frosting on sugar cookies
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: Frosts 2 dozen cookies
  • 2 Cups Confectioner's Sugar
  • 4 Teaspoons Light Corn Syrup
  • 4 Teaspoons Milk (or more for desired consistency)
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • ¼ Teaspoon almond extract * Optional
  • Food Coloring as desired
  1. Mix all together with small wire whip. Add milk for desired consistency.
  2. Add food coloring as desired.
  3. Frost cookies using small amount of frosting as this will spread slightly as you use it. Try not to put so much on the cookie that it runs off the sides.
  4. Enjoy!
After this frosting is dry, decorator frosting can be piped over this for a "stand up" look.

Buttercream Decorator Frosting
Prep time
Total time
Exceptional frosting and very easy to make. Use alone to frost cookies or cake, or place in piping bag to create a lovely decoration.
Recipe type: Dessert
  • 1 Cup Softened Butter (2 sticks)
  • 32 Ounces Powdered Sugar (Approximately 8 cups)
  • 1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
  • Milk to desired consistency.
  1. In a mixer combine butter, sugar and vanilla mixing slowly.
  2. Turn mixer to medium and begin to whip the frosting add milk 1 teaspoon at a time.
  3. Continue beating until the frosting is very light and fluffy. Keep adding milk 1 teaspoon at a time until frosting is desired consistency.
  4. Use as base frosting for cookies or cake or as piping for decorating.


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