Sunday, December 30, 2012

Becky's Cooking Lessons: How to Make Delicious French Bread Every Time

Most people are afraid to make bread, but it's actually really easy.  Although you do need to plan ahead for rising time, the actual hands on prep takes no more than 15 minutes and can make very little mess.  I make bread at least 3 times a week.  A good baguette (French bread) is hard to find. There is no comparison to store bought, even bakery bought, bread.

This recipe is very forgiving.  They say baking is an exact science, well, not this bread.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Review of Leverag Magic Spiral Hair Rollers

I got my hair cut recently and wanted an easy way to style it.  I went online and looked at lots of stuff, and these hair rollers caught my eye.  They are multicolored and looked fun.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

How to Make a Splendid Paw Stocking or a "Paw-king"

Paw stocking or Paw-kingA couple of years ago I made stockings and pawkings for all of us.  Since then, we lost our Pedro, and have added Spec to our little family.  So, it's time to make Spec a pawking.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Becky's Cooking Lessons: Garlic

Mostly I take it for granted that I know how to cook, but it wasn't always that way.  I started cooking when I was around 18 years old.  I have always been a picky eater, but I discovered that I am picky towards good food. In the majority of cases, I do not like the processed crap.  When I am able, I cook from whole ingredients.

I learned all the tricks that I know from reading recipes, watching cooking shows, and tons of trial and error.  Ask my husband, I am a great cook, but I have made some stinkers.  From this, I have learned the ways to make simple and delicious meals.

As they come to mind, I will share with you what I have learned.  I hope these lessons will make it easier for you to look like a fabulous cook without going to much trouble.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

San Antonio Vegetable Gardening Guide and Resources

I want to grow a vegetable garden, but we have caliche which is basically rock. So, I'll need to create raised beds.  Given the state of my neck, I will probably get my husband and/or the lawn guy to build them for me.  Then I'll just kneel down to work in them.

Living in Louisiana, it is harder to kill plants than to grow them.  Living in San Antonio now I have the opposite problem.  While I'm new to San Antonio gardening, I will share with you what I learn.

Monday, November 12, 2012

How to Make Homemade Pill Pockets for Pets

I found out today that Fuji has Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) which is very sad.  It is in super basic terms, bulging discs that are causing loss of function in his hind limbs.  It's the kind in older dogs, so it is slow and didn't happen all of a sudden.  It can lead to paralysis.  It is, sort of, like what I have in my neck.  Unfortunately, there's no physical therapy for dogs like what Dr. Turner does with my neck, since dogs can't locate where the pain is and let you know.  However, we're hopeful that some medication will help him get back to somewhat normal.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

What to Do with Raw Alpaca Fleece

Raw Alpaca Fiber
Raw Alpaca Fiber
I went to the Kid 'N Ewe fiber festival this weekend in Boerne, TX just north of San Antonio.  I had so much fun!  Being new to the whole spinning thing, it was amazing to see so many people spinning and the variety of wheels out there.  There were almost no two alike.  There was also roving and more roving.  Lots of yarn, which now is boring.  And there was raw fiber.  What I've been waiting for!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Let Me Spin You a Yarn

I realized I have not shown my readers my latest yarn that I've spun.  I think I have the hang of it, now especially since I'm not looking at it as I spin, rather going by feel (for my neck's sake).

I got a pack of 8oz of plain old, non-dyed, cheap ($9.50/8oz) wool roving from Pacific Wool and Fiber.  The wool is great.  I really like the earthy feel to it, and it spins better than the fancy wool.  This wool really grasps, rather than being shiny and slipping.  I did find a place in TX, Mohair and More, with the same Corriedale Cross wool roving that has a better shipping price ($5), though.  Gotta support the locals.  I'm ordering my next batch from them of the same wool.  I'll let you know if it's not the same quality.

I think my yarn turned out great!  Here's the first wool I spun ever vs. the first of the above wool I spun:

handspun yarn

Review of Dr. Buzby's Toe Grips for Dogs

When I heard about Dr. Buzby's Toe Grips, which just debuted a couple of months ago, I was so excited to see if they'd work for my German Shorthaired Pointer, Fuji.  He had knee surgery last year, lost a lot of muscle, and never really returned to the way he was.  He also has very bad arthritis in that knee and in his opposite hip.


Sunday, October 28, 2012

How to Make a Cheap Arrow Quiver, Finger Tab, and Arm Guard for Archery

I wanted to make my own quiver for my new hobby, archery.  I know what you're thinking.  You don't need another hobby.  But of course I do.  My husband had gotten a couple of recurve bows way back when, and they were just sitting in his closet until last weekend.  We went to an archery store and got strings for them.  And voila, new hobby!

DIY cheap arrow quiver
Cheap, DIY Archery Quiver

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Cheesemaking frustrations

I want to do a quality job at making my own cheese.  I am a well organized person.  Apparently, cheesemaking involves both perfection and chaos.  Everyone makes the same cheese a different way, different recipes, different amounts, etc.  I'm pretty sure my moon has to be in its 7th house and Jupiter aligned with Mars to get a cheese to taste like it's supposed to.

There's no clear instructions.  There's a big ol' list of posts from cheesemakers at, but nothing is well organized.  You really have to dig to find things.  Then when you find it, it's all different!  AAAGGG!

I am currently compiling a list of resources for someone in my shoes to use.  If you didn't have as much time and patience as me, you'd just give up.  You're introduced to cheesemaking using one set of rules, then if you want to do it right, there's another set, and you could keep getting more and more complicated.  I want to know the right way to do it, whether that involves expensive equipment or not.

Please won't someone show me the way?!

Clearly, I'm frustrated.  I am currently attempting to make a Jarlsberg.  My first cheese with eyes.  Lots of different methods out there.  I've been finding 3 recipes, comparing them, and doing a happy medium of them.  Who knows if it will turn out right.

I'd like a book or resource that will tell me, if you do this, that happens, if you do that, this happens, etc.  Then I could devise my own cheese and understand the recipes out there.   Maybe one of these days I will find my answer.  Until then, I'll stumble along.

Maybe I'll just make the same cheese over and over.  But if I'm doing the wrong thing, I won't find out for at least 2 months because the first one I screw up won't be ready until then.

I think I'm just going to chill out and experiment.  Yeah, I think that will make me the least crazy.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

My First Yarn

With a lot of practice and errors, I have finally spun wool into yarn.  Yay me!!

homespun yarn

Thursday, October 4, 2012

How to Knit a Hairnet / Snood

In addition to my neck woes, I found out recently I have hypothyroidism.  One of the symptoms is hair loss.  While we're still getting the right dosage of meds for me, I am losing hair.  Not in clumps but I see my hair all over the place, especially when I comb/brush it.  Gross!

In order not to have hair in my food, I decided to knit a hairnet.  I found a hairnet knitting pattern online.  And I made some adjustments to make it easier to wear.  Fancy hairnets that ballet dancers wear are called "snoods."

knit hairnet snood

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Step by Step How to make a JRT Biscuit / Puff Quilt

biscuit puff quiltFinished this quilt a while back.  It was very challenging for my neck, so it took a while.  It is mostly sewn by hand.  Since I've had Jack Russell Terriers (JRTs), I decided to make a JRT biscuit quilt.  The biscuit or puff quilts looked like so much fun, and I had some foam from a previous dog bed that had gotten torn up.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Cheesemaking update

It seems like all those cheeses I made a while back are coming of age all at the same time.  We've been fortunate to be able to eat homemade cheese for a while now.  I need to start making more, though.  Here's the status so far:

How to Make Homemade Knitting Needles

So, I've been busy.  I was sick with a sore throat for a week, so that halted everything.  I'm pretty sure I got that while going on a great thrift store hunt, where I found a couple t-shirts for my husband and a bowl.  Not what I bargained for!

I was able to knit a lot though.  I finished a Halloween colored sweater, and made a matching one for my dog.  When it actually gets cold enough to wear, I will post some pics.  Right now it's still in the 90's.

Ever hopeful, I'm working on a pumpkin pie colored cardigan.  That ought to be fun.  So, I discovered I didn't have the right sized knitting needles for that project.  Being me, of course, I decided to make my own.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Spinning Wheel!!!!

While at the Salvation Army with my new found friend, Christine, who I met on, I found a spinning wheel.  I said, I must buy it!  So I did.  And after looking on ebay, I apparently got a great bargain!

spinning wheel

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Random Assortment of Updates

I just thought I'd update you on what I've been doing.

On the cheese front:

cheeses cartoon

Thursday, August 2, 2012

You Need a Budget (YNAB) Review

I've been away from my blog dear reader (yes, I mean my one lonely reader) due to my neck.  It's been feeling better.  So I didn't want to mess it up by sitting in front of the computer, and lying on my back hanging my head off the side of the bed only works when I'm between feeling good and feeling really crappy.  I have now setup my computer so that I can use it while standing.  We'll see how it goes.  So, without further ado, my next post.

If it will make you feel better, go ahead an call me cheap.  It wouldn't be the first time.  But please don't hate me because (I'm beautiful, and) when I've got the time and energy, I love to work with financial software.  I like the math and logic that goes with it.

penny pinch

Monday, July 16, 2012

Wax On!

I waxed my first cheese!  It's the Jack.  The Jack, as you may remember, was a bit dry due to my mid-cheesemaking trip to Goodwill for the said wax, crockpot.

Here's the waxing process:

waxing cheese

Stirred Curd Cheddar is Whey Better

My Stirred Curd Cheddar is mutt better than the Jack cheese I made.  It helps when I don't leave the house while I'm supposed to be checking on the cheese.

Here it is in a slideshow:

heat milkheat milk

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Grilled Romaine Lettuce?

grilled Romaine lettuceYep, grilled Romaine lettuce.  Who knew?  I am seriously liking my new grill pan.  The steak turned out great.  We paid way too much on my last birthday to go to a fancy steak place.  Today's meal was so much better than that, and I think the steak may have cost around $10 at a meat market.  I wonder if I can get my money back from my birthday meal, hmmm.

Jack (not Russell Terrier) Cheese

I'm making Jack cheese today.  Not this which is a cheesy Jack Russell Terrier:



My feta did nicely overnight in the brine.

homemade feta cheesehomemade feta cheese

Friday, July 13, 2012

Cheese Glorious Cheese - Yes I can!

I did it!  I made cheese!  Woo hoo!

Don't Cry Over Sour Milk

Well, my first foray into cheesemaking was a flop :(.  I pretty much made sour milk.  But I learned what I did wrong.  Since I used store bought milk, I needed to use more Rennet and Calcium Chloride.  I also cut the batch in half so that if I do screw up again, I'm not out a whole gallon of milk.

I decided to split my gallon and make cottage cheese and feta - the two basic starter cheeses.  There is a point where you have to heat them VERY slowly.  I'm still working on that one.  I'll get there!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Cheese Glorious Cheese - Press

I can't wait to get my home cheesemaking starter kit in the mail.  It should be here tomorrow or the next day!

home cheesemaking starter kit
While I was waiting, this weekend I made my own cheese press.  As I told the guy at Lowes when he asked what does a cheese press do, it presses cheese.
DIY homemade cheese press

Monday, July 9, 2012

How to Roll a Ball of Yarn with Bert and Ernie

Now that you've made your T-shirt yarn or are ready to start on your next knitting project, you'll need to roll your yarn into a ball.  It's easy and free.

make T-shirt yarn

For my next trick...T-shirt Yarn

You may have seen this around, but too bad, I'm making my own tutorial.  In case you haven't heard of T-shirt yarn, you're probably thinking, huh?  Here's the basics:

homemade T-shirt yarn

My Olfa Circle Cutter - Fun!!!

So my fav fav sewing tool is my Olfa Circle Cutter. Why do I love it so?

Olfa circle cutter

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Pain pain go away

The pain is no bueno lately. So slow on the project front.
I give it 0 buttons up
0 buttons up

Friday, July 6, 2012

Upcoming Projects - Biscuit Quilt & Cheese

I've got loads of time and a creative brain - scary mixture.  Luckily (?) not much stamina due to my neck pain, otherwise, lookout!

Here's what's coming up:

Failed Margarita Popsicles

Before my neck starts acting up I wanted to quickly make a post about the margarita popsicles I've seen on Pinterest.  The ones I made did not work :(.  Could be that I used $1 store popsicle molds, or could be that the alcohol prevents them from freezing properly.

homemade popsicle mold

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Tennis Ball Mail, Keys, etc Holder

Spent too much time in front of the computer lately, neck and back are not enjoying it, so just photos of this one, and a few words....

DIY tennis ball holder

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Toilet Paper Roll Bird Feeder

You know all those things you see on Pinterest and are like, cool, I want to try that one day?  Well, I'm going to attempt to try a bunch of them and let you know how they turn out.  Here's one.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Cast Iron Grill/Griddle and an Ice Cream Maker - Reviews

Neck update:  went to see a rheumatologist last week (yet another doctor!).  He gave me tramadol bc I have a "very low" chance of having an autoimmune disease (specialists always think you have whatever it is they treat).  I think the tramadol is helping with the pain.  I felt completely pain free this morning for about 15min, then the usual here and there pain started.  Sitting/standing straight and sitting in a chair are still challenging.  Only problem is that it makes me sleepy.  It's hard to keep my eyes open.  It must affect the eyelids somehow.

Tramadol was a drug often given to my canine rehab patients for pain.  Those dogs usually had glassy eyes.  I'm hoping the side effect will go away once I've taken it for a little while.  Back to the fun stuff...

Grill Pan Review

I have always wanted a grill pan that you could put across 2 burners on the stove.  Well, I finally looked into it and they're not that expensive given the fact that they're cast iron and will last forever.  Only $29 at the dreaded Walmart, but I just had to go pick it up, no ordering or shipping.

Grill Pan

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Plastic Bag Dispenser / Holder

Neck update: feeling about the same today.  Not as good as a few days ago.  Some raw pain, but also not the deep down bad pain.  If I keep mobile, it helps.

A project I've always wanted to do was to make a dispenser / holder for plastic grocery bags.  I figured this was as good a time as any.  It took me a while bc I have to take lots of breaks bc of my neck, but I imagine a pain free person could knock it out in an hour or two.  Here's what I did:

Cut up some rectangular sections of fabric.  Mine were about 20" wide, but it's not an exact science, and I don't really care.  I did 3 colors of scrap fabric the height I wanted my bag to be.

DIY Plastic Bag Dispenser / Holder

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Secret fabulous sewing tool

Short entry today, still having neck pain.  Just thought I'd share this secret that I wish I had known about long long ago.

Next to my ever so fun circle cutter, my favorite tool to use when I'm sewing are Crayola washable markers.

washable markers sewing tool

Friday, June 29, 2012

Summer Quilt finished

So I've been busy since my last post. I've had about a week of fabulous days pain-wise. Like the pain has been numb with only shooting when I move the wrong way. Much better than pain all the time. However, today I tried swimming, very bad idea. In pain again. Oh well, one day I'll be better. On my good days, and the days when I've been trying to be in different positions, I've been crafting away so that the boredom doesn't set in. Today, not much crafting, too much pain which is why I'll try to be brief with my blog.

I'm much more visual than a writer, so I'll post lots of photos of my work. I am generally a perfectionist but not when it comes to sewing/crafting. It's supposed to be fun, and I could give a rat's ass if I screw up a little. It's about the journey, not the product.

So the big news is I finished my summer quilt - it has no batting since it's hot here. It's all scraps except the blue and green polka dot material. I also used glow in the dark thread to quilt most of it, which is just a really cool bonus. It's a very fun fun quilt.

Lone Star Quilt
As you can see, I've done a lonestar in the middle (of course, being in TX and all). I did the quilt on point (meaning the square surrounding the star is cockeyed instead of straight). The instructions for the star I found on youtube from these fabulous ladies in New Zealand (I think). There's 3 parts, so don't forget to watch the other two.

porthole quilt
porthole quilt
This quilt was a fun one and a scrap one, so I just added and added. I played with patterns, so I tried the porthole quilt. That was fun. I used this tutorial to make the portholes. I did mine a little differently though. I had bought a circle cutter from Olfa, so I had to use it. This did cut down on some fabric waste. I love the way the portholes look and feel.

I started this quilt before my blog so sorry, no pics of me making it :(.
puppies on Lone Star Quilt
I had fabulous helpers of course.
sleepy puppies on Lone Star Quilt
As I've said, I'm not a perfectionist when it comes to having fun. I also believe that quilts should be used until they fall apart. My dogs are of course allowed on the quilt, muddy toes and all. Just breaking it in :). The day I took the pictures I stayed in bed most of the time. So I got to play with my camera and learn things about it. That has come in handy since I learned how to take close up shots of my work.

Ok, neck hurting, will tell you all about my other projects later...
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