Thursday, April 30, 2009

Please Welcome...

As I said in my last announcement, I had a few other ladies I wanted to invite to join. I admire these women as they all have many different qualities, talents and gifts that I think would greatly enhance this blog and the information provided to those interested in domestic service.

So without further ado I introduce you to....

Princess Mandy is a good friend of mine and from the first day of knowing her I thought of her as a kinky Martha Stewart. She has a great sense of style in everything she does - crafts, decorating, entertaining, cooking, baking and everything else! I know her posts will contain so many wonderful ideas that inspire.

And Katie - who was the inspiration for this blog. When I think of domestic service, Katie is the first person that comes to mind. She has taught me so much and inspires me to take my service further. She sews, gardens, does canning, cooks and bakes from scratch, knits and so much more. I know that her posts will be invaluable to this blog.

So please welcome Princess Mandy and Katie! I know I am thrilled to have them join us!

(Edit: Just adding this as a note - in inviting these wonderful women - I have made it clear they don't have to contribute a set amount. They can contribute as much or little as they want. I am just thrilled to have them post anything as I know it will be good!)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


25 Eco-chic Ideas for Your Home via Whole Living

There are a couple of my favorite ideas they have...

"Usually used once and tossed, plastic baggies can actually hold up to washing, drying, and reuse. 1. Insert chopsticks or wooden dowels into the holes of an unused toothbrush holder. 2. Hand-wash bags with warm, soapy water. 3. Hang bags upside-down on the chopstick prongs to let water run out and air flow in. Cost: about $7"

I love this idea because I have seen those toothbrush holders on clearance, in dollar stores and at garage sales for CHEAP. And then a piece of dowel is not that expensive. Or even a set of chopsticks you can get the dollar store too.

"At some point, a cotton button-down wears out its welcome on a hanger. Turn it into cloth napkins or dishcloths, reducing your need for paper products. "The softer and more worn, the better," says Seo. "Faded plaids and check patterns look especially great." How to: 1. Wash the shirts well and cut the fabric into uniformly sized pieces, about 12 inches square. 2. Either leave edges frayed or sew a hem for a cleaner look. Cost: $0"

Another great idea! Plus again you can find oxford shirts at thrift stores all the time for cheap. Much cheaper then probably going out and getting a set of 4 cloth napkins.

* pictures from Whole Living

Friday, April 24, 2009

Friday Favorites

Roasted Garlic is a basic that you can do so many things with such as adding it to salad dressings, pasta dishes and mashed potatoes, but of course spread on toasted French bread is simply delicious!

Felt Corset Sachets - so cute and sexy

International Butler Academy's Quiz - It was interesting to take and I have realized that I have forgotten some thing I have learned over the years.

Nesting Place: Valances - I really like the one with the door knob down the page a ways. We need new valances for the kitchen and dining room and I would love to do that. I just haven't found any valances I like - or fabric I like.

Freezer Labels - Printable from - of course a sharpie just writing on the sack will do too but I do like the look of them

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Maple Iced Pumpkin Cookies

I had left over pumpkin from the Pie Pockets the other day so I needed to make something to use up the rest. I love how these turned out. I make sour cream cookies that should turn out the same consistency but they never do in the altitude. So now I am going to compare recipes so that I can figure if there is anything I can change in the sour cream cookies to make them more rounded and cakey like the pumpkin.

I got the recipe from - but made maple icing instead of the vanilla. These cookies will be great for the autumn or the holidays.

* 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
* 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 cup butter, softened
* 1 1/2 cups white sugar
* 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
* 1 egg
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Maple Icing
* 2 cups confectioners' sugar
* 2 tablespoons half-n-half
* 2 tablespoon melted butter
* 1 1/2 teaspoons maple extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, and salt; set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, cream together the 1/2 cup of butter and white sugar. Add pumpkin, egg, and 1 teaspoon vanilla to butter mixture, and beat until creamy. Mix in dry ingredients. Drop on cookie sheet by tablespoonfuls; flatten slightly. (I didn't flatten as I don't feel that often works good in higher altitude)

3. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven. Cool cookies, then drizzle glaze with fork.

4. To Make Glaze: Combine confectioners' sugar, half-n-half, 2 tablespoon melted butter, and maple extract. Add more half-n-half as needed, to achieve drizzling consistency.

These cookies are good without icing too - as pictured above.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Pie Pockets

Yes another recipe from the Weekend Baker. Probably the last recipe I share though. Because the book is just so good! Good tips, lists and of course recipes.

In the book they are called Half-Moon Pie Pockets but I realized after making a few circles that just cutting them into rectangles and making little square pockets would be much easier. This recipes is exactly how it is in the book. I will make notes at the bottom. I made some chocolate pie pockets and some pumpkin pie pockets.

Half-Moon Pie Pockets

2 sheets frozen puff pastry, 9-½ inches square each
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons granulated sugar

For chocolate-nut filling:
1 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup chopped nuts (pecans, walnuts or hazelnuts)

For the pumpkin-spice filling:
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (9 ounces/ 255 grams) canned solid pack pumpkin (not seasoned pumpkin pie filling)
3 tablespoons firmly packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

1. Remove both sheets of frozen puff pastry from the box, set them on a lightly floured surface, and cover with plastic wrap. Do not unfold at this point. Let the covered puff pastry sit on the countertop until thawed and just pliable, about 20 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, position the oven rack on the middle rung. Heat the oven to 425 degrees (220 c). Line 2 half sheet pans with parchment or spray with cooking spray. Have ready the beaten egg and the 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar.

3. On a lightly floured work surface, carefully unfold the puff pastry. Dust the top of the pastry with a little flour. Roll out each sheet, lightly dusting with flour as needed to prevent the dough from sticking to the rolling pin and work surface, into a 12- inch (30.5cm) square. Using a 4-inch (10 cm) round cookie cutter (or the bottom of a 29- ounce tomato can as a guide), cut into 18 circles. Peel away the scraps and cover the rounds with plastic wrap while preparing the filling.

4. For the pumpkin spice filling, combine the ingredients in a medium bowl and stir until well blended.

5. Place about 1 tablespoon filling on the center of the round. Brush the edge of the dough with the egg. Fold half of the dough over the filling to form a half-moon. Using the tines of the fork, press the curved edge to seal tightly. Repeat with the remaining rounds. (At this point, the pie pockets can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 8 hours or frozen for up to 1 month before proceeding with the recipe.)

6. Arrange the pockets on the prepared sheet pans, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Brush the tops with the remaining egg and sprinkle evenly with the granulated sugar. Bake until pastry is puffed and browned, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer the sheet pans to racks to cool. Serve warm.

Storage: You can bake the pie pockets up to 6 hours ahead and reheat them in a 300 degree (150 C) oven until warm. About 15 minutes.

* I didn't make as much filling because I wanted to do two different kinds of filling. I think I cut each filling recipe in half. I didn't do nuts in the chocolate as Master doesn't like nuts. I also used a mixture several types of chocolate chips - dark, semi-sweet and milk.

* As I said above I made some rounds and then the rest square. I just cut the dough in rectangles and then folded over to make square pockets.

* I didn't warm back up before serving. Just topped with some whipped cream and ate. Yum!

* I also think doing apple pie filling or cherry would be very good. And so easy.

* I think having some in the freezer and taking a few out when needing something fairly quickly would be great. I know there have been nights when Master has said he wanted a dessert and this would be an easy way to provide without a lot of effort. I could pull a few out of the freezer and bake. And he would have a delicious dessert.

The other two recipes that I posted from The Weekend Baker: Orange Butter Cake and Prescription Strength Fudge Brownies.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Friday Favorites

Firefox browser has this add-on called StumbleUpon (I think it is compatible with other browsers too.) You can select topics you like and then it picks websites in those topics that you might like. You hit the stumble button and it pulls up a website for you. It allows you to rate it a thumbs up or thumbs down. And then you can hit stumble and go to the next. Anyway, it is wildly addictive.

And I think I will start doing a five favorites I have stumbled upon each Friday.

10 Delicious DIY Salad Dressings - I really want to try the Citrus Vinaigrette and then the French Style Dressing too. I don't like French Dressing but their version looks like something I might like.

Table Manners - Eddie Ross on Table Setting Styles....showing the difference between setting a table British Formal, French Formal and a few other styles.

Stitch Guide - it shows how to make several kinds of stitches from button hole stitch to feather stitch to overcast stitch and so on.

Simple Tricks to Make you look Smart - not sure they will make you look smart but I do think they will help you solve some little everyday issues that come up. Such as out and about and need a ruler - use a dollar bill as it is just a little over 6 inches.

Photograzing - It gathers photos of delicious looking food. And then links to those recipes.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Dirt on Laundry

One of the services that I feel (and Master agrees) it is my duty to provide for our household is doing my best to pinch pennies. Being a one-income family in this economy is rough so when I come across something that saves us hundreds of dollars a year, I get pretty darn excited!

I'm not talking about giving up movie night or no longer getting to buy your favorite chocolate (that's a sin right there). In fact, there is no sacrifice at all on fun. Just one tiny 15 minute sacrifice of time per month is all you need, and an extra couple of hundred dollars will remain in your checking account!

I'm talking about every Domestic Goddess's favorite chore. It's laundry, right?! The sorting and the separating, the turning out of stinky man-socks, the pre-treating and soaking, the washing and the drying, the folding and the hanging, the rewashing of things never worn- what's not to love??

Unfortunately, I cannot help you with any of that enjoyment. I'd hate to interfere with the obvious zen-like state that laundry creates. But what I can do is ease the strain on the family budget from buying those expensive bottles of laundry detergent. Today, we're going to make our own detergent, and it will be fun and it will be easy and when you're all done, you'll be filled with a Domestic Goddess fervor. You may even want to wash windows, you'll be so pumped.

The amount of money you save will depend, of course, on what brand of detergent you normally buy and how much laundry you normally do. We have 2 adults and 3 teenagers (and 2 of those teens are girls), so you can just imagine the loads that accumulate in a day.

You know teen girls have to use 2 towels per shower because figuring out how to dry your body without letting your hair drip and get it wet again is a talent that doesn't materialize until they are paying their own laundry costs. And the suggestion of re-using a towel only elicits screams and squeals of "Eww! Guh-ross!" Another tolerance that magically appears when they move out, I bet.

But I digress.

Here is where I'm going to attempt to do math. I should probably warn you that I majored in Lip Gloss and Cruising With Boys while in high school-- not in math. Pardon my elementary mathematical equations and if I don't do it right, don't tell me. I like thinking I'm saving money, k? Thanks.

On average, I have at least 1 load of towels per day, and another 2 loads of clothes. That's 3 loads a day, 21 loads per week, or, 1,092 loads a year.

That's a lot of friggin laundry. Suddenly, I'm exhausted.

I used to buy Purex laundry detergent because it was generally the cheapest at Wal-mart. Purex averages around $8.00 per bottle for 32 loads. 1,092 loads at 32 loads per bottle equals 34 bottles of Purex. 34 bottles at $8 per bottle equals $273.00 a year spent on laundry soap.

Now? I spend less than $15.00. A YEAR.

That's a big savings, and I have not compromised the cleanliness of the clothes or the function of my washer. I don't have one of those fancy-shmancy high efficiency machines, though from everything I've read about this homemade laundry soap, since it's a low-sudsing concoction, it works very well in them.

Here's what you'll need to get started.

Now, this is the most expensive part right here- buying the supplies. But even at that, you're going to spend less to buy these supplies than you would on your average name-brand laundry soap.

One box of Arm&Hammer Super Washing Soda - costs around $2.50 per box.
One box of 20 Mule Team Borax- costs around $2.50 per box
One half of a bar of soap- cost varies, but let's say $1.00 per bar?
One 5-Gallon bucket, with a lid- under $5.00 at Wal-mart

The Arm&Hammer washing soda will likely be the only ingredient that gives you trouble as it can be difficult to find in stores. Make sure you read the box because there is an Arm&Hammer laundry detergent, but that is not what you need. You need Super Washing Soda. If you can't find it, do like I do and order it off the internet. Or ask your local store to order some.

The Borax is generally carried in most stores, and I got my bucket (mah bukket!) at Wal-mart for under $5.00.

The type of soap you need is dependent only on your preference for smell and your tolerance to the perfumes and dyes in it. Right now, I'm using Coast simply because it's what I have on hand. I've heard that Fels Naptha is terrific for use in this laundry soap, though I've never used it myself. Ivory also works well, though Ivory gave my son a skin rash. I don't know of any soap that cannot be used.

Here's what you do.

On the internet, you'll find varying recipes for making this soap. Though the ingredients remain the same, the measurements of each seem to depend on who's making it. I'm going to list how I do it, but feel free to adjust the amounts as you think your clothing and/or skin needs require.

Fill a pot with water and place it on the stove to heat. As it's heating, grate your 1/2 bar of soap into the water. Let simmer and stir occasionally until the soap shavings are completely dissolved. You'll end up with some super-seriously soapy water.

Meanwhile, in your 5 gallon bucket, measure in one cup each of the Super Washing Soda and the Borax. Once your hot soapy water is ready, pour that into your bucket and stir until all of the powder is dissolved. Then, simply continue to add hot tap water to your bucket, stirring after each addition, until the water level is an inch or two from the top. Let it cool overnight, and voila! One 5-gallon bucket of laundry detergent.

As it cools, it'll turn into a watery gel. I keep a giant spoon in the bucket and just give it a vigorous stirring to break it up. It's kind of fun in that childish, oh look I have slime! kind of way.

I use one cup per load and one bucket seems to last me forever and a day. I get about 80 loads per bucket of soap, so, at an average of 21 loads per week, I have to mix this up just about once a month.

I can't break down how many buckets you'll get out of your one box of washing soda and your one box of Borax (back to that math deficiency of mine that I told you about) but I can say that in the last year, I've used less than 2 boxes of each. At just about $2.50 a box, I'm still under $10.00 total for the two main ingredients.

I also wash almost exclusively in cold water and the soap still works extremely well.

If you prefer powder soap to liquid, use your same ingredients minus the water:

1/2 cup washing soda
1/2 cup borax
1/2 to 2/3 bar of soap, finely grated.

Stir together, use just 1 tablespoon per load.

If you prefer a scented laundry soap, simply add a few drops of your favorite essential oils. Be careful that your preferred scented oil doesn't clash with the bar soap you've used though.

So there you have it. Go forth and launder!

EDIT: Update on laundry soap recipe here!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter: Orange Butter Cake

This year I have been so busy, I didn't get to do the little holiday touches I wanted to do. These are ideas I would like to do next year or two of these decorated egg ideas....
silk tie-dyed eggs
marbelized Easter eggs
naturally dyed Easter egggs
elegant eggs

But at least we had a good Easter dinner...

Ham with an orange marmalade glaze
Corn souffle
Green salad with raspberry vinaigrette

and then for dessert....

Orange Butter Cake
This is another recipe from The Weekend Baker by Abigail Johnson Dodge. I only have mini-bundt cake pans and I just didn't feel like the work that goes into those (greasing and flouring each one.) So I just used my angel food cake pan. I didn't top this with citrus wedges because I ended up just deciding today to make this so didn't have oranges on hand.

for the cake:
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt (I used salted butter so I left this out)
16 tablespoons unsalted butter - room temperature (2 sticks)
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest (optional - I had some in the freezer so used it)
4 large eggs
1 cup orange juice
* 1 teaspoon vanilla - this is something I added and wasn't part of the recipe

for the glaze:
3/4 cup orange juice
3/4 powdered sugar

Position the oven on the middle rung. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease and flour a 12-cup bundt pan or other fluted tube pan.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk until well-blended. In a large bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until smooth. Add the sugar and the orange zest (if using) and beat until well combined. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. (*Add vanilla and mix in.) Add half the flour mixture and mix on low speed just until blended. Add the orange juice and mix just until blended. Add the remaining four mixture and mix just until blended. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly.

Bake until light brown and a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center comes out with just a few small crumbs attached. 38 to 43 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine the orange juice and the powdered sugar for the glaze. Stir frequently while the cake is baking until the sugar is dissolved.

When the cake is done, transfer the pan to a rack and let cool for 15 minutes. If necessary, run a thin knife around the pan sides to loose the cake. Invert the cake onto the rack and lift off the pan. Set the rack over a large plate or pan. Using a wooden skewer or cake tester, poke 30 or 40 all the way through the cake. Give the glaze a stir and spoon it evenly over the top of the cake (the fluted side). Let the cake cool completely. Transfer to serving plate.

I topped with a little whipped creamed with a little vanilla extract. But topped with any kind of fruit and whipped cream would be great!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Knobs for Hanging Towels has several newsletter type emails available. One is an organizational tip a day sent to your inbox. I really liked today's tip not just for the kitchen but I think in our bathroom it would be great too.

Also in reading the comments someone suggested using knobs to hang a framed pictures from - using ribbon or chain to loop around the knob. I think that is a cute decorating idea that I want to file away for future use.

**credit: photo is from

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Oh my....Superfudgy Brownies!

These are superfudgy brownies. Full of chocolaty goodness! Typing the recipe out how I did it - it is very very close to the original. The original is from The Weekend Baker by Abigail Johnson Dodge. The cookbook is great cookbook for those that haven't ever baked before because it gives a list of pantry essentials for baking, equipment list, good flavorings and extras to have on hand, tips and techniques to bake. The lists tells you exactly why you want to have those things or do those things to be a baker. The instructions for each recipe are so good for first time bakers. Very easy to understand and follow. So really there are just so many wonderful qualities that makes a great book for first time bakers. But also this book is great for those that just are short on time and can only bake on weekends. It gives good tips on freezing and prepping to bake to make it easier. I hope to make a few more recipes before I return this cookbook to the library but have already put it on my wish list as it just has so many recipes I would like to try that sound so good.

Prescription-strength Fudge Brownies

12 tablespoons of unsalted butter (I used 8 butter and 4 margarine)
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder - sifted if lumpy
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup topping - optional (anything you want - peanut butter chips, milk chocolate or semi-sweet chips, walnuts or pecans)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking dish.

Microwave the butter in small bowl for 30 seconds or until the butter is melted. Pour the butter in a large mixing bowl and add the coca powder. Whisk until the mixture is smooth. Add the sugar and salt and whisk until blended. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking after each just until blended. Whisk in the vanilla with the second egg. Sprinkle the flour over the cocoa mixture and mix until blended.

Scrape the batter into prepared baking dish and spread evenly. Scatter the topping evenly over the batter (if using.) Bake until a toothpick or knife inserted in the center comes out with small, gooey clumps of brownie sticking to it - about 32 minutes. Don't overbake or the brownies won't be fudgy. Transfer the baking dish to a rack to cool.

Using a knife cut the cooled brownies. If the brownie is still warm it will be hard to cut cleanly (as you will notice from the pictures of mine.)

Recipes says you can freeze the uncut cooled brownies. Invert, wrap tightly and freeze for up to one month.

Saturday, April 4, 2009


I love that David Bowie song "Changes" so I am hearing it in my head as I write this....

Over the last week I have been making small adjustments to this blog in preparation for some big changes. For some time I have wanted to invite a few people to contribute on here. Therefore, it gives me great pleasure to introduce some new faces here. I've come to greatly admire these women as they all have many different qualities, talents and gifts that I think would greatly enhance what I wanted to do with this blog.

So, without further ado, a little introduction of these fabulous women....

The first contributer is a close dear friend of mine, Jouet. She has contributed recipes, articles and shared her experiences in slavery in a variety of forms over the years. Her passion lies in all things related to service and she has an amazing ability to express that passion through her writings. I have learned so much from her over the years and I am very thankful she was willing to share here.

My next contributer is kaya - who is great at keeping it real. And as someone who likes living life within reality of course her writings have always appealed to me for the raw honesty. Her talents exceed into a wide range of topics including recipes, gardening, raising kids while in service and doing things inexpensively to help save her Master money. She has such invaluable skills and experience share and look forward to reading her posts.

I do have more contributors in mind that I hope to be able to introduce to you shortly, but for now - I give you Jouet and kaya and as always if you have questions, thoughts, tips and anything else that can better enhance your experience here - drop me a line.


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