Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Homemade Christmas Ornaments and Gifts 2017

Thanksgiving has come and gone and now I'm starting to get ready for Christmas. We put the tree up a few days after Thanksgiving. When we were adding the ornaments my middle girl brought over an ornament she made in school. It was a glass ball with her handprint made into sweet little snowmen. We compared her hand size now to her hand size then and I thought about how I'm not going to get those kinds of ornaments coming home from school since we are homeschooling now. So I've decided we will start making our own ornaments.

My mother, brothers and I used to make ornaments every year so this isn't anything all that new to me. I did some idea searching online and decided on some cute little snowmen made from bottle tops. I have one finished so far and the girls will continue to work on theirs tomorrow. I'm excited to see how theirs turn out.

Here is my finished product. We painted the bottle tops white, then I used a hot glue gun to glue them together. I also did a little crocheting for the hat and scarf and simply used a black marker to add the dots for the face and buttons.

This year is going to be very tight in the gift buying department. It's always hard to be shy on cash around Christmas time when you have kids. So I'm trying to make my girls a few gifts to fill up the empty space under the tree. So far I've only managed one gift idea. It came from something that popped up on my Facebook feed a few weeks back. I don't even remember who posted it.

I went to the dollar store and bought three boxes for $1 each. They are what is holding up the snowman in the picture above and the pictures below show the silver box, the saying, and some simple stationary I printed up and cut to fit inside the box.

If anyone has any other cheap and easy gift ideas for girls between 17 and 8, I'm all ears. Send me links and ideas in the comment section.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Smoker Experiments #1

I recently had a birthday and was given an Amazon gift card from my brothers and my dad. I used it to buy a smoker. I spent a good two weeks looking at the gift card wondering what I should use it for. I almost started buying Christmas presents with it (and I probably should have), but I'm having a good time with my new smoker.

I am a beginner, so any and all advice or recipes you have are more than welcomed.

So far I've made a couple of beef roasts, smoked eggs, a smoked pork loin, and now smoked country style ribs. My favorite of them all is a toss up between the smoked eggs and the beef roast.

For any of you interested I'll document (and so I can come back to it later, just in case I need a reminder.)

The beef roasts were just cheap rib roasts I picked up so I could try out my new smoker. I put a rub on them. It was just a coarse salt, black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and paprika. I covered the roasts with the rub, then let them sit for a bit. I don't remember the temperature or time I put them on the smoker for, but when they were done I wrapped them and let them rest for a good fifteen minutes. They were yummy! I didn't get pictures because both roasts were gone before I knew it.

I've made three batches of smoked eggs so far. Each batch was pretty much the same. Of course there is no rub to put on the boiled eggs. I should be cold smoking them but I don't have the cold smoking attachment. So, I improvise and get the temp up to fill the smoker with smoke, then turn the temperature down and let the eggs just sit in the smoke at a low temp. So far it's been working just fine that way. We ate the first batch, used the second batch for deviled eggs for Thanksgiving, and the last batch was put into a gallon jar for smoked, pickled eggs. I haven't gotten pictures of these, either.

Then I made the pork loin. I used a rub I found online. It called for brown and white sugar, a little bit of salt, black pepper, oregano, and paprika. Definitely not a favorite. Still, it was edible, I just won't be using that rub again.

The last thing I've done, and I did get pictures, was some country style pork ribs. They were yummy. I didn't follow a recipe for this one. I simply mixed up a rub of course salt, black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and a little bit of paprika. Then I put them on the smoker at 275 degrees. I had them in for a couple of hours then I pulled them out and brushed on a thin layer of Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce. Still, they were more than a bit dry. What I needed to do was wrap them with some sort of liquid. However, I didn't do that and they remained a bit dry, but with good flavor.

Here is a picture of the rub I created.

And here is a picture of the finished product (smoked country style pork ribs).