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Wood Conversation Hearts Sign Valentines Day Decor

These are cute little Valentine’s Day signs I made. They are inspired by the little Valentine’s Day candy conversation hearts.

I am new to using power tools so I haven’t been taking photos during the process for my blog, but these are simple and here is the supplies I used.

  • 1×6 common board
  • Stain
  • Cricut vinyl

I cut the boards to 5-1/2” then sanded all the edges. This made them 5-1/2” squares.

Next I stained them. I am loving this stain color! I bought it because the name was interesting lol.

After the boards dried, I did a little distressing with my sander.

I made the vinyl decals on my Cricut, applied them and used a coat of mod podge over top of them to make sure they stayed on.

That’s it! This was a really easy project and has given me even more practice with my new Ryobi power tools!

I promise to start taking step by step photos soon!

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The Ultimate Comfort Food; Instant Pot Chicken & Dumplings

I saw a slow cooker recipe for chicken and dumplings where you use canned biscuits for dumplings and although there is nothing wrong with that recipe, I decided to make my own version with homemade dough, in the Instant Pot.

I love cooking in my Instant Pot. I have not used my slow cooker since I bought mine a couple of years ago.

So, here is what I came up with and man is it delicious!

I started out by chopping about 1/2 cup of each, carrots, celery and onion.

I drizzled some olive oil in the instant pot and added a tablespoon of butter and turned it on saute.

I sauted the veggie trio for a minute or two, then added garlic.

I sauted them for about 4 minutes, until tender. I added salt, pepper and Italian seasoning.

While that was cooking, I cut up two boneless skinless chicken breasts into chunks.

Then I turned off the Saute function and added the chicken to the pot. I also added four cups of chicken broth and one can of Cream of Chicken soup, gave it a stir and sealed the lid and set the cook time to 10 minutes.

While that was cooking, I made the dough for the dumplings. I use self rising dough and I like to sift it because it makes the dumplings more fluffy. I use a strainer with a handle to sift with.

I added two beaten eggs, sour cream, salt and water to my flour and gently mixed it into a dough.

I use a cookie dough scoop to scoop my dough so they will be similar in size.

The chicken cooked for 10 minutes then natural released for 20 minutes. I opened the pot, turned off the cook function and turned saute back on and started adding my dough.

The dough cooks very fast in the hot liquid. I left saute on while I gently pushed the dumplings under the liquid, allowing them to cook all around. This only took 5-6 minutes.

Last thing I did was sprinkle some parsley on top and closed the lid and turned the instant pot onto the warming function, Lo, until they were ready to serve.

This is a very delicious recipe and the homemade dumplings make it extra special. Here is the ingredient list.

Ingredients:

Chicken:

  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 1/2 cup diced carrot
  • Drizzle of Olive Oil
  • 1 T Butter
  • 3/4 t salt
  • 3/4 t pepper
  • 1 t Italian seasoning
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup

Dumplings:

  • 2 cups self rising flour
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 2 T sour cream
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/2 cup water

Start out by chopping about 1/2 cup of each, carrots, celery and onion. Drizzle some olive oil in the instant pot and added a tablespoon of butter and turn it on saute. Saute the veggie trio for a minute or two, then add garlic. Saute for about 4 minutes, until tender. Add salt, pepper and Italian seasoning. While that is cooking, cut up two boneless skinless chicken breasts into chunks. Then turn off the Saute function and add the chicken to the pot. Also, add 4 cups of chicken broth and one can of Cream of Chicken soup, give it a stir and seal the lid and set the cook time to 10 minutes. While that was cooking, make the dough for the dumplings. Use self rising dough and sift it because it makes the dumplings more fluffy. Add two beaten eggs, sour cream, salt and water to flour and gently mixed it into a dough. (I use a cookie dough scoop to scoop my dough so they will be similar in size.) Cook the chicken for 10 minutes then natural released for 20 minutes. Open the pot, turned off the cook function and turn saute back on and start adding scoops of dough. The dough cooks very fast in the hot liquid. Leave saute on while you gently push the dumplings under the liquid, allowing them to cook all around. This takes 5-6 minutes. Sprinkle some parsley on top and serve.

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Produce Storage Wall Hanger ; Woodworking

I have a new hobby! I’ve always enjoyed crafting but my hubby bought me this nice set of Ryobi battery operated power tools for Christmas and I’m obsessed! This tool set is great for beginners.

I have already made a few items.

I made this big wood sign for my office..

And this small sign. I made a couple of these and I’m trying my hand at selling them here: Loved farmhouse wood sign

The one I’m most proud of so far is this produce storage wall hanging. I made it from one 1x6x6 common wood board, one 1x4x4 common wood board and two wire baskets I got from Walmart. I will be blogging my future projects from now on. I was so excited I forgot to take step by step photos.

I have requests for the produce hanger, so when I make more, I will be sure to blog how I made it. Be sure to subscribe!

I just received this Black & Decker 425 Work Bench to assist me while using my tools. I can’t wait to get started on my next project!

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I Made My First “Farmhouse Sign”

I have been tinkering around with some small wood crafts and when my husband asked what I wanted for Christmas, my response? Power tools…

He did not disappoint. He bought me a Ryobi cordless power tool set. This set is perfect for what I do. I don’t do very heavy duty projects and I have issues with my wrists so I didn’t need heavy duty tools. I can handle these quite well. I’m so excited to make projects with these!

I made my first project, a farmhouse style sign for my office. I used a precut thin sheet of plywood and a 1×2 6ft board. I painted the sign and made the vinyl letters with my cricut. With my husband’s help, I have a few things to learn, I measured and cut the 1×2 board to fit around the plywood. I stained them after I cut them. Then I used my new Ryobi air strike brad nailer to attach the boards to the plywood. I stapled through the back. I added a little metal picture hanger and hung it up.

I love how it came out! It’s a perfect fit for the wall above my desk. I am on to my next project!

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Flaky Layered Biscuits and Sausage Gravy… The Ultimate Comfort Food

There are many recipes out there for biscuits and gravy but I’ve had many ask me how I make mine so here you go..

Ingredients for gravy:

  • Breakfast sausage (we get ours from a local butcher)
  • Butter
  • Flour
  • Half and half
  • Salt and pepper to taste

I prefer an iron skillet for making gravy. First, Brown sausage. I use about 1lb for 3-4 people.

After browning, add about a tablespoon of butter. Stir until it melts.

Next, sprinkle a thin layer of flour over the sausage, maybe about 1/3 cup.

Stir the flour into the sausage really good until you don’t see the powder anymore. This make sure there are no lumps.

Pour about one cup of 2% milk in and stir. Add salt and pepper at this time to taste. Also make sure to scrape the bottom of the skillet to get those flavor crystals mixed in.

The gravy will start to thicken. At this point you can add more milk a little at a time until you get your desired thickness.

Keep warm until ready to serve.

Now for the yummy biscuits. I like to use Hudson Cream Short Patent Flour. You can also use all purpose flour but I really prefer this flour for the flaky texture.

This recipe makes 6-7 biscuits.

Ingredients for biscuits:

  • 2 Cups Flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 stick of cold butter cut into small cubes
  • 3/4-1 cup Half and Half

I like to use a wide shallow bowl for mixing, just preference. Mix all dry ingredients together in the bowl.

Add cold cubed butter. It’s important to keep the butter cold.

I use a pastry cutter to blend the butter into the flour. You can also use a fork.

Blend it until you have a course texture throughout.

Pour in half and half a little at a time until all the flour is worked together.

The dough will stick together, it shouldn’t be to dry and it shouldn’t be to wet. Turn it out onto a floured surface. It is VERY important not to over work the dough. If you do, your biscuits will be tough and dry.

Lightly roll the dough out until it’s about 1” thick.

Pick up an edge an fold it in half. Lightly roll dough again.

Again, pick up an edge and fold it over. This is how you get the layers that pull apart. Flatten down again, dough should be 2-3” thick.

Now for my fancy biscuit cutter. I use an aluminum vegetable can. It’s the perfect size. I actually have a fancy biscuit cutter but I prefer this can.

Now for one of the most important tips in biscuit making. This is crucial. Push the can straight down into the dough, DO NOT TWIST. If you twist the can you will seal the edges and there goes your flaky layers. Pull straight up and pick up your biscuit.

It should be about this thick.

Place the biscuits in an ungreased biscuit pan. Brush melted butter on top of each biscuit. Bake at 425* for about 14 minutes. Every oven is different, that’s how long mine takes, so keep an eye on them. Brush butter on one more time and let bake an additional 3-4 minutes.

See the pull apart layers? You don’t need a knife to cut these open.

They are crisp and flaky on the outside and soft and tender on the inside. The perfect landing spot for a heap of gravy.

And there you go…a nice hearty breakfast. Enjoy!!

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I had De Quervain’s Tendon Release surgery

This is my person experience with De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis Tendon Release Surgery. When I found out I had it, I did some research and didn’t find much on personal experience’s so I decided to write my own. I, like a lot of people had not heard of it until it happened to me. Hopefully I can describe my experience in a way that may help someone else going through the same thing.

De Quervain syndrome is inflammation of two tendons that control movement of the thumb and their tendon sheath. This results in pain at the outside of the wrist. Pain is typically increased with gripping or rotating the wrist. The thumb may also be difficult to move smoothly. Onset of symptoms is gradual. This is typically caused by repetitive motion. I’m guess I’m now paying the price for 30 years of being a hairdresser.

I will say that this is a very painful condition. I went to my orthopedic doctor and he diagnosed me very simply by bending my thumb into the palm of my hand. He knew right away what it was when I winced in pain.

He told me most people are cured by getting one cortisone shot right into the area. Well we tried it and it didn’t do anything. I went back to see him and he said surgery would be the only option for me.

We set a date and I could not wait for it. I was in really bad pain. The day finally arrived and I had it done.

Basically, I was given anesthesia and a block and they made a small incision on my wrist and cut the sheath that was tightened around the tendons, releasing the tendons. The Doctor told me there was a lot of fluid that came out which meant I needed the Surgery. Surgery was outpatient and I was there for about three hours. I had stitches inside with two strings poking out of my skin and glue on the outside.

I was sent home with some pain medicine and a bandage and instructions to ice, rest, no lifting more then a water bottle for a couple of weeks, remove bandage after 24 hours and follow up with doctor in two weeks. This was the first day with the bandage.

This was the day after surgery. I was instructed to keep it uncovered, leave the tape and little strings that came from inside the incision. That was a little weird. I could let water run on it and pat dry.

I will not lie, recovery was painful but the meds and ice helped. The first couple of days I rested, a lot. Then I started doing more around the house, I get bored easily. The more I did the more I hurt which brought on more meds, ice and rest.

This was three days after surgery. I was starting to bruise here. Still icing and resting as often as possible. It was about three to five days after that I started having numbness and tingling. I had very uncomfortable tingling when I touch the incision area. I tried to not do that. I had numbness all the way into my thumb. The nurse called to check on me and said that was part of the healing process, as long as my thumb wasn’t turning blue I was ok.

Touching my thumb was something I wasn’t able to do for months without extreme pain. After about five days I noticed I could do this with no pain. Well there was some pain in the incision area but that was understandable. I was excited when I could do this.

This was one week after surgery. The nurse told me the glue would start to come loose on its own. When it would get real loose in areas I would very gently scratch the pieces the rest of the way off. You can still see the string here. The tape peeled off on its own so I put medical tape on it because I didn’t want to to catch on anything.

I’ll be honest, after one week I was still having pain, I just iced, elevated it and rested, that’s about all one can do.

I relied on my husband to help with things that I normally do. It was hard for me, you see I don’t like to ask for help, but I a learned quickly in this case that I really had to limit my activities, especially when it came to lifting.

Day 9…something happened between day 8 and day 9. I woke up feeling much improvement. Still very tender but there was a difference. I really think things started to turn for the better on day 9. The swelling was going down and the incision was a little lumpy but less tender.

Two weeks after surgery I had my post op appointment. I was still having numbness in my thumb and it’s all still very tender. Here I am waiting for the doctor to remove the string.

No strings attached! I was glad to get that string out. It was catching on everything. The doctor said that the swelling would continue to go down and things would flatten out. As far as the numbness, he said the numbness in the area where the incision is, is normal and will go away with time. My thumb on the other hand, we will have to wait and see. It’s possible nerves could have been damaged. Hopefully not.

I still have to take it easy for a few more weeks. No heavy lifting. I will still have some swelling and pain depending on how much I use my hand but ice and rest should help. I plan on updating this post as time goes by, so stay tuned for my progress!

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My Instant Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup Recipe

This is my absolute favorite soup. It’s hearty, comforting and easy to make. I have been making this for years on the stove but recently converted it to the instant pot.

Here are the ingredients:

  • 2 T Olive Oil
  • 1 Medium onion diced
  • 2 Garlic cloves minced
  • 2 T Chili powder
  • 1 T Oregano
  • 1 4oz Can Mild Chili’s
  • 1 Can black beans rinsed
  • 1 qt Chicken broth
  • 1 28oz Can Diced Tomatoes
  • 1 Small bag frozen corn
  • 2 C Shredded Chicken
  • Chopped Cilantro

First, sauté onions and garlic in olive oil in the instant pot that is set on Sauté.

Once onions are translucent, add seasonings. Stir then shut off sauté function.

Next, add the rest of the ingredients and give a good stir.

Set Instant Pot on Manuel for 12 minutes. Once time is up you can release steam or let natural release until you’re ready to eat.

You can serve plain but the way we like it is with Mexican cheese and crunched up tortilla chips.

Bon appétit!

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Jewelry Making

I am a person of many interests. I love crafting, photography, blogging, thrifting and reselling, among other things…but I’m always looking for something new to try.

I bought a Cricut a few months ago and I’ve been making leather earrings which are very fun to make and very on trend. But I’ve recently discovered something that I’m possibly addicted too.

Wire Ring making! I’m so hooked! I bought some wire from Michael’s and I took apart a bunch of broken jewelry I’ve been saving and used the beads to wrap up a few rings.

This is a great tip. If you thrift, ask for broken craft Jewelry. They usually have baggies of them and sell them for cheap, I take them apart and I have lots of beads! New Beads aren’t cheap and this a great way to recycle!

Here is some of my bead collection. I use them for lots of things.

I’m only getting started on these rings. When I feel more confident , I’m going to do a blog on how I make them.

I have the ones I have already made for sale here in my Boutique https://thethriftyjewell.com/jewells-boutique-2/

Great gift ideas!

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Homemade Pierogi

This is my recipe for homemade pierogi. I recommend making them in small batches, for me they turn out better when I make them in small batches.

I start with 2-1/2 cups of flour, 1 tsp Salt, 1 egg and 3/4-1 cup of hot water. Mix flour with salt and add to a mixing bowl. Make a well in the middle and crack the egg.

Stir and slowly pour in water until a dough ball is formed and it has an elastic texture.

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about an hour.

Prepare your filling. I used golden Yukon potatoes that I cooked and mashed with shredded cheddar cheese. Let cool.

Using a floured surface, roll the ball onto a roll.

Cut the roll into pieces.

Take each piece and flatten and form into a circle.

I put a heaping teaspoon of potato filling into the center.

Fold the dough over and pinch the edges together.

Use a fork to press the edges together. Meanwhile, have a large pot of salted water boiling on the stove.

This recipe makes approximately 15 pierogies.

Once they are all made up, drop about 4-5 pierogis into the boiling water. Boil for about 4-5 minutes or until the pierogis float to the top. Remove them with a slotted spoon.

I use a baking rack inside of a cookie sheet to place them on to drain.

I fry them in butter with sliced onion and kielbasa. You can freeze these after you boil them then thaw and fry.

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We Process Our Own Venison

For the past few years we have been processing our own venison. My husband is a hunter and we are big DIYer’s. We like to do whatever we can on our own. We are not experts but we are getting better at every one we do.

After my husband skinned the deer, he cut up sections of meat into big chunks and soaked them in a very clean cooler with ice cold water and about six tablespoons of table salt. He did this over night then proceeded to dump the water and add fresh cold water and ice, no salt. He did this until the water was no longer bloody. It took a couple of days.

When trimming the meat it is important to get rid of all the silver skin, this helps get rid of the gamey taste.

These are the back straps. He likes to cut them up into steaks. These are perfect for the grill! We like to vacuum seal these.

We have a meat processing place near by and they sell beef fat. We bought a giant bag for $2! My husband likes to add 15% fat to the ground burger. Here he is chopping the fat into small pieces for the grinder.

We weigh the venison and the fat to figure out the ratio.

Here he is cutting up the venison to be ground into burger.

Here is the grinder we use. We bought it off Amazon.

We have the meat and the fat ready to go. it helps if you put the meat into the freezer for a half hour or so but this is not necessary.

These are the blades we use. We grind through the wagon wheel blade first then once it’s all ground we grind through the smaller blade. It gives the burger a really nice texture.

Here he is grinding a little venison then adding a little fat.

This grinder has a foot pedal so you can stop and go as needed, hands free.

We have several large bowls close by so we don’t have to stop.

Here is the beautiful, fresh ground venison burger. Ready for hamburgers, chili, tacos etc.

We use wild game bags and ziplock bags for the burger. We got 30lbs of burger and a bunch of steaks from this deer. The next deer we are going to experiment with making hunters sausage in our smoker.