The Evolution of Our Easter Tree

in reverse order..

We probably need more green. Also, over the years I have been slipping when it comes to finding after-Easter sales on tree ornaments. I found those few eggs about ten years ago, and those little decorations and haven’t revisited it since. I will keep my eyes out for something with color, maybe some rich greens.

I don’t know the name of the yellow or pink flowers. I got them off of shrubs growing in the back yard.

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Steak, Kale, and Potatoes

If you want steak and cannot afford a choice cut, the next best thing is to make a dish that has steak pieces in it.  With my latest dish, I used London Broil (A.K.A. English steak, Swiss steak, beef chuck or shoulder steak).  I paid around $6.00 total for the piece I used for dinner.  Because London Broil has little fat, it can easily become tough when prepared as a standalone steak.

I worked around the possibility of toughness by using it in thinly slice pieces.  I must warn you, with this choice of steak and with the use of fresh kale, this dish requires chewing.  That shouldn’t have to be a disclaimer, but I am learning with my grandchildren that any food that requires more chewing than for pizza is deemed undesirable.  What a bunch of lazy-butts.  At fault are the pizza’s soft cheese, sauce, and dough.

Anyway, this meal was very fulfilling.

I began with slicing up bell peppers, onions, and garlic and then sautéing them all in a skillet with a bit of sesame oil (too much sesame oil will ruin everything!) and olive oil.   After the onions were translucent, I pushed all the vegetables to one side of the skillet and added the thinly slice steak pieces, but not before I seasoned the meat with ground ginger, crushed red pepper flakes, course black pepper, and soy sauce.  When the steak was almost done, I added the fresh kale and stirred it around until it was wilted.

In another skillet, I heated some vegetable oil and fried up chunks of potatoes with the skin left on.  I wanted to call them cottage potatoes, but I think cottage potatoes are boiled whole first, and then cut up and fried.

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Pulled Pork

If you need to stretch a piece of meat to provide for a lot of people, pulled pork is a very suitable option. One 7-8 lb. shoulder/pork butt can make plenty of sliders. We got our last pork shoulder/butt for $1.49 per lb. It ended up being $12.20. This dish can be cooked in the oven or in the crock pot. I like putting mine in the crock pot so I can start it on Low and go to bed. The oven will do for a nice 6-7 hour slow bake.

The Pioneer Woman makes this recipe and it is from her site where I first got it. The only changes I have made are using a crock pot, not measuring anything, and adding BBQ sauce to the finished product.

To start I put the pork butt fat side up in the crock pot. I pour in the Dr. Pepper (Coke would do too). I pour in the brown sugar. I chop up however many onions I am in the mood to chop up and lop in. And finally, I open a can of adobe style chipotle peppers and add those in. However, however! this is where I put the brakes on. You can in fact have too much chipotle. I’m not talking about at the level that someone is just being a baby; I mean you can really have too much chipotle. There are seeds in that can! I grew up hearing that it is the pepper seeds that bring the heat. Now it could be because I chop the peppers up. I don’t know. I do know that I have experimented with how much of the can I used each time. What I do is pour all of the sauce from the can into the crock pot. With the peppers though, I gauge my eater-audience. Will there be children eating?



Nevertheless, one third of the can is usually enough. I may use one half of the can if the piece of pork is over 10 lbs or if I am making more than one. Actually, if I made more than one with the purpose of combining them when they were done, I would use the whole can in one and none in the others and then mix them all together in a big tray. If you chop up the peppers like I do (I’ve even put them in the food processor before), the richness of the flavor and the heat will come through.

When the pork is done it will easily fall apart with a fork pulling it. If it doesn’t come apart easily, it is not done.

My sister-in-law (brother’s wife), Cynthia loves this pulled pork and I love her for it.

People appreciate when other like their food. It’s human nature. lol.

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Strawberry Cake

Once I told the children I was making a strawberry cake, they were like hound dogs on the porch waiting for a bacon fry up.

For this cake, it falls into the category of, “doctoring up a box cake mix.”  First, the cake comes out such a lovely color.  The pink is gorgeous.  Second, when I frosted the bottom layer my frosting was thinner due to my reluctance to use more confectioners’ sugar.  I gave in for the top layer of cake and made the frosting thicker.  I need to accept the fact that frosting requires so much sugar and stop fighting reality.  The amount of sugar is simply shocking.  At least to me.  There are probably bakers out there saying, “4 cups of confectioners’ sugar? Child’s play!” You can find the online recipe here.

The cake is sweet and tastes very much like strawberry.  Although the recipe calls for a 3 ounces package of strawberry gelatin, next time I am going to try it with only 2 ounces.

I think a strawberry cake would be lovely for Easter.

In addition, I can see doing this with cherry, lemons, and/or oranges.

Posted in #LOVE, Baking, Cake, Food, Strawberries | 2 Comments

Blueberry Blizzard Cupcakes

During the blizzard this morning, I made the children some cupcakes. Being that person, that dreadful person that causes the children to groan at times, I try very hard not to throw food out. I knew I wanted the frosting on the cupcakes to have some color. Therefore, I used the neglected blueberries that had been in the refrigerator for a few days.

The first thing Jack did was ask, “Gigi, what are those dark pieces in the frosting?” Yes, always the suspicious one. Anything remotely healthy sends them all in flight or fight mode. Of course, I had to say, “Just Try IT!” Like green eggs and ham, he loved them. I love the color. I didn’t even have to use food coloring. Put the blueberries in the food processor and done.  Oh, and I used nothing but the crushed blueberries and powdered sugar.  The mixture was wet enough to make frosting.

Posted in #LOVE, Blizzard, Cupcakes, Food, Winter | 2 Comments

St. Patrick’s Day Heart Magnets

Today, I made five cute little St. Patrick’s Day heart magnets for the refrigerator. I’ve been going through drawers, cabinets, and boxes purging for a nice spring clean. Within a week or two there will not be one tiny little thing that I don’t know where it is or what it belongs to. It’s all about not having unnecessary stuff.


For this project, I didn’t buy a thing, not one single thing. I had some thin little wooden hearts that I had from years and years ago. Originally, I would drill a hole in the top of the heart and paint it to be used as a tree ornament. I also had magnet strips and St. Patrick’s Day fabric. I bought the fabric from Wal-Mart maybe 15 years ago, after St. Patrick’s Day. I remember thinking what a great deal. It was $1.00 a yard and I bought ½ yard in three different fabrics. At that time, I had some little hot glue and whatever project planned. Whatever it was, I didn’t get it done. However, today I was determined to do some small calming project that would be quick and easy. Gone are the days that everything has to be perfect. For example, if I had done these hearts years ago, both sides would’ve been covered in fabric and a nice silk ribbon would’ve been glued along the edge to cover up where the two sides of fabric met. Not anymore. When I thought about covering the back of the heart in fabric I asked myself, “what is the point; it is the back and will be on the refrigerator.” I’m happy I kept it simple. It took me back to 1st grade or one of those younger grades where we sat calmly in class working on an art project. The children loved them. Although the photos show Elmer’s glue, I ended up using Superglue for the magnet strip. Elmer’s glue was not strong enough. I did use Elmer’s glue for the fabric though.

Compare size to a quarter.

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Troy Needs Yarn Too

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Mardi Gras Crochet Bunting

“How’s ya mama an’ them?”

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Before I lived on the Gulf Coast, all I’ve ever heard about Mardi Gras was the dire need (if you dared to go) to look out for pickpockets, charlatans, drunks, and weirdos. Mardi Gras was the boogeyman of dissipation. Well, that was specifically for New Orleans. At the time, I didn’t imagine Mardi Gras taking place anywhere outside of New Orleans. We live and learn. There are often Mardi Gras celebrations in the cities of Mobile, Alabama; Lake Charles, Louisiana; Lafayette, Louisiana; St. Louis, Missouri; Biloxi, Mississippi; Pensacola, Florida; Galveston, Texas; and last but not least, La Crosse, Wisconsin.

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Heather would get so many strings of beads (throw) when we went to Mardi Gras parades in Pass Christian, Mississippi and Long Beach, Mississippi. Afterwards, I wouldn’t know what to do with it all. We had bags full. The parades were often in the middle of the day and Heather’s Girl Scout troop would march in them dressed as some theme. One year it was electronics: televisions, radios, etc.

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I started thinking about the colors of Mardi Gras, –purple, green, and gold and wanted to crochet something. No one on the Gulf Coast will ever need a scarf (made of yarn) during late February. That’s why I was happy to learn that Mardi Gras is celebrated in Wisconsin too. Maybe, a nice scarf will still be needed in late February there. Anyway, as a substitution for a scarf, I thought what about a festive Mardi Gras garland.

Isn’t it so cute!?

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Oh, and I dug out an old brooch that I bought from a woman in 1990 who made them every year and sold them at work. The longer and bigger the feathers were, the more people wanted them. LOL! You can see that Troy was curious at what I was photographing. I should put him on a float with beads around his neck.

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For the triangles, I used Sue Rivers pattern here.  <— click link.

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Crochet Black and Platinum Cowl, and Blog Reader Habits

Jack modeling a non-sex specific cowl.

Jack modeling a non-sex specific cowl.

We have a reluctant model here.  But, it is a good way to show his before and after haircut.  Jacques was beginning to look like Shaggy.  Ashton says he wants to keep his hair longer.  I asked him if he wants it as long as Shaggy’s and he said, “Not that long.”  When Jack came home with his new hair cut Ashton’s mouth literally fell opened.  Now, he wants his hair cut as soon as possible.

This black and platinum crochet cowl was a long time coming.  I first started it in California back in January 2015.  Black yarn, at least for my poor eyes, is hard to work with.  Only a precise light will do.  The perfect light was in California, outdoors.  But, I didn’t like crocheting outside. Here, the lighting is okay in the house in the daytime, but not ideal.   Determination has gotten me through to completion, however.  I am adamant about concluding unfinished projects.    My friend in the North mentioned something about Mercury Retrograde and it being the right time to complete projects, so I’m going with that.

Cowl in morning light.

Cowl in morning light.

Spring is fast approaching.   Looking at my blog stats, crochet posts start getting attention around mid-November and garner many visitors daily until around mid-February.  I find people in search of crochet posts to be stingy with their love.  Although my crochet posts get hits at a rate of 5:1 to other posts, I never get any “likes” or comments for those posts.  Instead, I get poachers.  The thing is, if I get an idea from another crochet[er], I will always link back to her, including when I use a crochet book. Once, I had a a comment[er] on a crochet diagram post, demand a written pattern. The nerve.  I deleted the comment.  Rude.

I find food bloggers to be the most generous and supportive, followed by photographers.  Meaning, my food posts get several “likes,” and posts labeled photography get the second most. People routinely google my television posts, but hardly ever comment, and never “like.”  Occasionally, I get what I suspect is a college student looking for essay thoughts with a few of my posts on novels.  Whatever I post on children’s books mostly go unnoticed (no “likes”).

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The black yarn for this cowl is Caron Simply Soft Yarn, in Black.  The trim is Patons Metallic Yarn in Platinum.  The Patons is a little ornery to work with, so I only used it for the trim.  The platinum color is very beautiful though.  My photos do not show the satin- shine of the platinum.  It’s very soft too.

I didn’t set out to make this a cowl.  I wanted a scarf.  For some reason when I finished the first skein, I had thought it was the end of the second and the scarf was very short.   I assumed the stitch took up more yarn than I estimated.  Instead of buying another skein, I had to convert it into a cowl.  Murphy’s Law, after I did so, I found the second skein of black and realized my mistake.

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Crochet Infinity Scarf

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Another scarf finished. I started this one in California. As I’ve mentioned earlier I have at least 6-7 unfinished scarves and 3 blankets. I’m determined to finish everything and use up the bulk of my yarn stash before I consider anything else. Also, I want to have at least 10 items to start an Etsy shop. Or, if you ever see anything here you would like, you can always donate to my GoFundMe page. Just leave me a comment and we can work it out. I can use every penny I get, and I am quite frugal.

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If my Etsy shop doesn’t pique any interest (there is a lot of crochet on Etsy), I will save up and participate in next winter’s craft fair (providing doing so is affordable). I know eventually I will get away from the anxiety about money that I developed while living with a financial abuser.

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Anyway, this infinity scarf was made with the same yarn I used for Danielle’s scarf here. The pattern is my own design. I love making different scarf designs, especially ones that are fun but not over-complicated and time consuming.

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