Saturday, September 29, 2012

Homemade Onion Soup Mix

French onion dip is one of my weaknesses. Especially if it is the kind made using Lipton's Onion soup mix. Well, Pinterest you have catered to my desires once again. And I am opened up to the numerous "new" ways to use Lipton's onion soup mix. But, like the ranch packets, its cost has sky rocketed as its popularity has come back around. So, with a little research, I came across numerous recipes for homemade onion soup mix. Honestly, when I first read what the main ingredient was other than dried onion flakes I was shocked. Beef Bouillon? Surely not... I never would have guessed! Honestly! But it's in there and you wouldn't know it unless told otherwise and even then, your brain will tell your mouth it's a lie.

Our store was out of bullion powder so I got bouillon cubes instead. They worked just as well but it was a hassle unwrapping them all and crushing them. And my food processor screamed at me for attempting to grind them. (One cube was a little more solid than the others and got stuck under the blade). Hubs didn't seem to mind smashing them up with the rolling pin for me though.

Here is the original link and recipe:

1/3 cup plus 2 tsp. dry minced onion

8 beef bouillon cubes or 8 tsp.

2 tsp. onion powder

1/2 tsp. celery salt or crushed celery seed
This will make about 18 tablespoons.


5 Tablespoons of this mix = 1 pre-packaged mix


Mix 5 Tablespoons with 4 cups water for soup.

Mix 5 Tablespoons with 16 ounces of sour cream for dip.

Add 5 Tablespoons to your water when cooking a roast.

Add 5 Tablespoons to your beef stew


I made some dip with the mix today and was in heaven. I may just try a spoonful in my next batch of vegetable soup.

And I definitely I can't wait to try this in my mom's cheese ball recipe this Christmas. (Don't fret..I'll share it come Christmas time)



Happy Fall Y’all
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Diaper Box turned into a twine basket

Since Hubs and I do not use cloth diapers for our kiddo, we have had a plethora of diaper boxes come and go through our house. Last Christmas nearly all our gifts to others were wrapped in diaper or wipes boxes. And they have come in very handy when needing a temporary home for all the clothes, shoes, etc that our little one out grew until we could buy some more plastic tubs (I should have registered for them as many as we have gone through!)

I have been eyeballing all these decorative baskets at the stores and choking when I keep seeing the outrageous prices for them. And you would think that after the third or fourth time I look I wouldn’t be surprised that they cost an arm and a leg.

Well good old Pinterest had plenty of ideas about turning diaper boxes into decorative baskets. At first I only came across ones that suggested covering diaper boxes totally in fabric or spray painting them. I wasn’t too keen on the spray paint idea and the fabric designs I love the most cost as much per yard as the decorative baskets I coveted.

Then the little Pinterest angles heard my plea and someone posted a fabulous idea about covering them in twine. And it just so happens, the twine baskets were the ones I really wanted to buy the most!

Here is the original link:



Empty card board box

Large spool of twine/jute

Brown craft paper or old wrapping paper

Hot glue gun

Hot glue sticks




I taped the bottom of the box to help keep it securely closed and cut the flaps off at the top.

Since my twine was narrow I chose to cover my bright purple diaper box in brown paper so it would not show through if I didn’t get the twine matched up perfectly.

I put a small daub of hot glue at the top corner of my box and stuck the twine to it. Once my twine was positioned I ran a short thin line of hot glue along the top edge of the box and quickly pressed the twine to the glue, keeping the twine somewhat taunt (so my line did not sag) I worked in short intervals with my hot glue and made my way around the box. I let the twine continuously roll of the spool as I worked. When I made it all the way around the first time I used the previous line of twine as a guide for my hot glue gun to follow and pushed the new row of twine up close to the previous glued line.

****I’ll stop here and say that even though I have spent years doing crafts and using a hot glue gun, I have yet to develop “asbestos” hands and always burn myself a few times with the hot glue. If you are in the same boat, I recommend wearing some work gloves or using a ruler or putty knife to assist you in not having to come in contact with the glue in case it “spills” out around the twine. I also recommend using a mini glue gun versus a standard size one to assist in not burning your fingers or having “drips” from the larger bead of glue it puts out. ****

Once I got a few times around the box, I got a rhythm down and before I knew it I had half the box covered. It takes some time to do, but it is a craft that you can do a little of, stop and take a break if needed, and come back to at a later time. And if you have a smaller box or are using a larger width of twine, it shouldn’t take too long.

I used twenty sticks of hot glue to complete my box. It seems like a lot, but I glued every bit of the twine down. I tried only using a small dot of glue every so often right at first, but the twine did not lay down right, and moved too easily when the next strand laid up against it at places where it was not previously glued down.

I do not recommend superglue as this is a very hands on craft. You might be able to use spray glue, but it would need to be fairly sticky to get the twine to stay put over time.

I didn’t sew the fabric liner (I borrowed it from another basket to see how it looks as a finished product) but I do plan on sewing my own in the future.
I found this link on Pinterest that gives a great “how-to” on sewing the fabric liners.
I am thinking about using painter’s canvas for the liners so I have several yards of matching material for all the baskets I am planning on making.

And there you have it! DIY Twine Basket!  And give yourself a pat on the back for recycling your cardboard boxes while you are at it.


God Bless and Happy Fall Y’all!







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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Little fall crafts

When we put the new carpeting in our bedrooms it forced me to clean out our closets. UGH! Needless to say I made a few trips to Goodwill for donations.  But I came across a game that paired with a Pinterest obsession gave me the inspiration for a few fall crafts.

Everyone knows Jenga right? Build a tower, remove blocks and pray it doesn’t fall. Well, way, way back in college Hubs and I got the bright idea to use some generic Jenga blocks we found at Wal-Mart for a….well… a drinking game. (Don’t worry, I have overcome my college drinking days and got my head on straight now.) Well, I had all these blocks and was about to toss them in the trash when a little voice in my head screamed “WAIT!”

I have seen tons of wooden block pumpkin crafts on Pinterest lately. They of course were calling for much larger pieces of lumber, but I thought why not make a few small pumpkins out of these blocks and spruce up the house for fall. So, I did.

A few coats of paint, and some sanding and I had my first pumpkin. I painted a piece of a twig for the stem and used floral wire for the vines and finished it off with a little twine bow.

After finishing this one pumpkin, I was just painting a few of the blocks and testing colors and sanding patterns. Then out of nowhere I came up with this cute little fall ornament.
I used Scribble paint for the words and once they were dry I went over them with a little water downed paint. The wire does not go through and through. I used a thumb tack to make holes and put cut pieces of wire in the holes to give it the effect that it was a continuous piece through the blocks.

There are endless possibilities really for all these little blocks. I am sure I will continue to find new things to make with them.

Happy Fall Y’all!
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Halloween Wall Hanging

I got the inspiration for this craft on Pinterest. The original post I cannot access because it has been marked as “spam” so I can't post the original link. But here is the photo.


I saw this repined about a hundred times as I scrolled through the DIY & Crafts section and Holidays section. Each caption said “uses dollar store burner covers.” Well, I looked a bit closer to the picture and it is actually embroidery hoops. But using burner covers was an excellent idea. Well, our “dollar” stores here didn’t carry any of them (I’m not surprised with glass/cook top stoves becoming more and more popular), and I would have had to get two packages anyway to get three of the same size circles. So, on an adventure to Hobby Lobby to get some essential oils for my fall simmer pot, I came across cardboard cake circles. And the creative wheels were turning.
Here is what you need:

Cardboard circles, wooden letters, solid/patterned paper, double sided tape, hot glue, paint/brushes, ribbon, ink pad and any extra embellishments you’d like to add.

I traced each circle on the back side of my desired papers and cut out the circles.

Before taping them down I “inked” the edges of the paper circles to give them a more “artistic” look. To do this technique, you hold the paper in one hand and your ink pad (ink side down) in the other. Keeping the ink pad flat, brush it quickly across the edges of the paper.

A few strips of double sided tape held the paper to the cardboard

I purchased the wooden letters at Hobby Lobby as well, and painted them to match the theme of my papers.

I used this awesome technique while they were drying
Once they were dry I used dimensional foam tape to “raise” them off the paper. I used glue dots as well as just to make sure they were good and secure.

I added a few extra embellishments: candy corn ribbon and a plastic pumpkin (this was a cupcake topper I saved from last Halloween)

I hot glued the pieces together then hot glued a piece of twine to the top to hang it from.


A very quick and simple craft and you have yourself a cute wall hanging for Halloween. And if you want, try JOY for Christmastime!


Happy Fall Y’all!




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Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dressing Dry Mix

Growing up I was one of the weird kids who preferred salads with fresh veggies to burgers, hot dogs, and pizza. And my absolute favorite dressing was the restaurant ranch dressing. Well, it wasn't called "ranch" it was called "house dressing." Then my mom discovered Hidden Valley Ranch and all its wonderful glory. You could have the "house" dressing at home using their dry mix, mayo, and milk (or buttermilk). And they even sold starter kits per se that included this cool shaker to mix it. If you haven't had ranch made this way you have been missing out.

Well, now that the bottled version of the dressing has taken the glory spot, the dry packets have been pushed aside...and had a huge increase in price. Now ranch dry mix is making a comeback and is not just for dressings or dips. And while tightening the money belt, those little packets are awfully expensive.

My previous post told you all about Hubs and I making a switch to making everything from scratch rather than buying readymade. Well a Pinterest recipe for homemade ranch dressing mix is what started our switch. However, I didn't care for a specific ingredient this one site called for...crackers in ranch mix??? No thank you. So I wondered on over to Google and searched for a recipe for the mix. I still came across a bunch that called for crackers. Then pay dirt! This one called for powdered buttermilk.

(find it here:

1/2 C powdered buttermilk
1 T parsley
1 tsp dill weed
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp dried onion flakes
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp ground pepper
**1 tsp celery salt*** not in the original recipe but all the other ones I saw called for it so I decided to add it.

Mix and store in air tight container in cool dry place. (My powdered buttermilk says you have to refrigerate the open container but no one mentioned this on any of the sites I saw... But I put my open powdered buttermilk in the fridge and the mix is in my spice cabinet.

Use 1 rounded tablespoon in any recipe calling for ranch packet

For dressing: 1 rounded tablespoon, 1 C mayo, 1 C milk. I think next time I will do 1 1/4 C mayo and 3/4 C milk and two tablespoons mix. We like ours a little thicker and with more punch of flavor.

For ranch dip: 1 tablespoon to 16 oz of sour cream; again we use extra mix for extra flavor.

When they say it tastes just like the store bought mix, they ain't lyin'!! It is the best ranch dressing I have ever tasted. Hubs and I even used it for another Pinterest recipe: Slow Cooker Buffalo Ranch Chicken. Check it out here:

Most of the recipes said a tablespoon equals one packet but we like the extra punch of flavor and use two tablespoons.

And don't worry...if you are a calorie counter you can substitute powdered milk for the buttermilk and yogurt for the mayo.

If you do use the powdered milk instead, run it through the food processor since the milk granules are bigger than the other ingredients.

And there you have it folks. Made from scratch Buttermilk Ranch Dressing.

God Bless!

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Monday, September 24, 2012

My absence

Well, where do I begin? I guess I should explain my absence (to whomever I am talking to…do I have any followers? Big smile if I do!) Hubs and I have been on a house fixing mission here on the farm. We took on the very labor intensive and tedious task of landscaping the two houses here; our house and my parent’s house. Nothing like 1000 brick pavers and 16 tons of river rock to make you jump up and scream for joy….


And did I mention we didn’t use a front end loader to scoop the rock?? That’s right, all shoveled by hand. I have some nice muscles though and feeling good as I am about 10 pounds lighter. But alas it is all done and the house has never looked prettier!


We decided since the outside of the house is getting a makeover, what about the inside? So, we decided to redo the floors. We went with hardwood (laminate) in the living room and carpeting in the bedrooms.

As if we hadn’t enough to do already, in the middle of both of these projects Hubs and I made the switch to once a month shopping and making normally store bought items from scratch.  And let me tell you now…. Best decision ever. I can’t believe for all these years my laziness has overcome me and I have bought it all readymade at the store. 

Now, this may not seem like a huge issue, but for us it was. I was a die-hard couponer. I would cringe if I missed the Sunday paper and be bored stiff on holiday weekends when there were no coupons. I clipped, cut, filed, and organized my way through savings…. Or so I thought. I was OCD about keeping track of my savings at first. We saved nearly $3000 one year. But I wasn’t really spending less…. Well, the second year of keeping track of my spending I noticed that again we weren’t saving much. So I started really paying better attention to my couponing habits. I had to make weekly store visits to catch these sales. And I was deviating from my list. So, I tried to stick to strictly to a coupon list. If I didn’t have a coupon I didn’t get the item. Well, it may have just been me, but that didn’t work either. I was still deviating.  We plan weekly menus, because I shopped weekly. So I went to two week menus. That helped a little. But in the mean time I was still purchasing a paper for the coupons. Then, for reasons I can’t even remember, I went a whole month without clipping coupons and going on “coupon adventures.” I hit a state of just-get-what-I-need-and-get-out-of-the-store-quick. I really got a slap in the face when I came across a pile of unclipped EXPIRED coupons. Nothing but wasted money. That was the kicker. So I stopped buying a paper and just printed coupons if there was one available. Then, sales were starting to…well, how do I put this nicely…. They just sucked. No coupons to match up and if there were, I’d have to buy 5 just to save a measly quarter. In the mean time, I kept running across “make this from scratch” links on Pinterest.
So Hubs and I had a mission… find a way to save on our food budget.

I planned a whole months worth of menus.  Some were things we always fixed, like tacos or hamburgers, and some were new recipes, like crock pot potato soup (Campbell’s condensed soup, you were a crutch to my laziness!). Then we went through all our saved pins, cut and pasted recipes for the made from scratch items into separate word documents. Then, I made a list of the amounts of “stuff” I needed. This was a super tedious task here. If you are reading and you know of a better way please tell!!! I made a word document and cut and pasted just the ingredients of all the stuff we wanted or needed to make. Regardless if there were repeats. Then I cut and pasted that list into another document and took off all the measurements. On this list I used the “sort” option to sort it alphabetically. Then I took of the repeat items. I printed that list out and went back to my list of measurements and added up the amounts I needed and wrote it next to the item. (Example- Flour: 37 cups) Then, and I am horrible at math but I managed to do it, I converted those amounts into pounds or ounces as needed per item. (I needed 17 pounds of flour)  Once I finished this task….two days later… I had my shopping list. I added the other items we needed that we were out of completely or running low on that we couldn’t make it a month without needing to purchase.

*****Let me stop here and say…invest in a big board or some chalkboard paint on a wall and make a divided list: one side says “OUT OF COMPLETELY” and the other says “RUNNING LOW ON.” Since doing this we have not made any unnecessary purchases. (That last bit of shampoo and conditioner really lasts a long time strangely enough….)****

Now that I had my list of items we hit the store. We did have quite a few items on hand, like certain meats, and spices so that shortened our list some. But we since we weren’t normally from scratch makers we had a ton of stuff in the baking isle to get and the start up on a few spices and ingredients brought our cost a little bit. I looked at it as an investment. I needed a teaspoon or tablespoon of this, but now I had it on hand and didn’t have to buy it the next month when we made the item again.

We spent $278 dollars for all the stuff we needed to get through the month. (I have learned to freeze milk! And it isn’t nasty nor does it change flavor or consistency at all!!!) We have been to the store twice since our first big shopping adventure on September 1st. Once was because my math was off and I didn’t get enough of an item and the other was for cold meds (can’t exactly plan when you are getting a cold). And, a round of applause here…we bought ONLY what we needed and nothing more! I didn’t use any coupons, and bought a bunch of store brand items.

The most comforting thing about this: that total included a month’s worth of diapers for our toddler and we didn’t go store brand on those.

Our testimony here is: Once a month shopping can be done!
Just to show off... here are the banana nut muffins we made... They were knock you down delicious!
I have never once in my life made them from scratch!! This is why I am so proud of us for making the switch.

So, keep an eye out for the posts giving all the info of the foods we made from scratch.

God Bless Y’all!
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Sunday, September 2, 2012

Outlet safety

The following is a true story.

When I was about 3 years old I had quite a "shocking" experience playing house one day. I had some old house keys on a ball chain that my brother had given to me to play with. I wanted to be able to use these keys while playing house because unlocking "air" just wasn't as fun. So, I looked around and found the next best thing to a real key hole for my keys: the wall outlet. Well, both keys in and a loud pop later I was screaming my head off and the wall outlet was smoking. I survived without any damage. (Blessing from God right there) Mom and Dad had told me countless times about the dangers of the outlets, but like most little kids I didn't heed their warnings and I suffered the consequences. (I still wince when I plug something in an outlet)

So when my son began crawling I was (and still am) over cautious about our wall outlets. Hubs, knowing this story, felt the same way and bought the plug safety covers. Putting them in the outlets was super easy. What I find to be the most difficult aspects of them are getting them back out (without killing your fingers) and remembering to put them back in after using the outlet. I run into this problem the most when I vacuum.

So, I thought I would share a trick. This isn't something I learned off the Internet; I was taught this by my coworkers when I was a maid after college.

Use the prong of the plug to GENTLY pry the safety cover off. I pry it out just enough to remove it the rest of the way with my fingers. (But, sometimes my strength gets the best of it and it goes sailing across the floor; so don't fret if it happens to you)

Plug in your cord

Then place the safety cover on the cord like so

I turned it upside down to show how it stays on there.

Then when you go to unplug your cord you have a reminder to put the safety cover back on.

This works with most cords. Yes, it can bump off as the cord moves (e.g. when vacuuming) but my vacuum cord in particular is a little thicker so it sticks; even when my toddler shakes the cord as I vacuum.

As with any small object keep the covers away from kids as they can be a choking hazard.

This trick should not be used on cords that have a "permanent" home. (Lamps, TV’s, etc) This trick is mainly for cords that will be unplugged shortly after use (like my example: the vacuum)

Do not use any other items to remove the covers. I use the plug prong because if it "slips" into the socket it's not going to shock me.

And most importantly, outlet safety covers don't keep your children 100% safe, so don't rely solely on them. Teach your children the dangers of outlets as well.


Keep the kiddos safe and God Bless!
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