Charging Station

In my house, we charge all of the devises between the couches. The chords are unsightly! So I had to do something about it. Here I make a charging station that fits in with my decor!

 

  1. Buy a box with  lid that will close and stay closed when sat upright. I found a bread box at target with a magnetic lid.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Make sure to try out your box to ensure that it works. Leave open on a flat surface. If you return and find a cat in it, then it’s a good box.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Measure the box. The lid will be the front. Choose which way you want the door to open and mark the top and bottom (short ends).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Measure the plug.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. On the center of the bottom mark a spot to drill the hole for the chord. I have an 1 1/4-inch long-edge of my plug, so the hole was 1 1/2-inch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Mark four evenly spaced (or however many chords can charge at once) ticks on the front lid.

 

 

 

 

 

6. On the back of the box (opposite side of the door), mark two evenly spaced spots along the center. This is to affix the box to the wall.

 

 

 

 

7. DRILL HOLES! Or have your husband do it. It’s his tools, so I just give good instructions. Let’s be clear, I know how to use all of his tools, and am perfectly capable of using power tools. However, I stick to my tools and he sticks to his. . . .and the ones he has absorbed from me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

8. Use screws to affix the box to the wall. Use a level to ensure the box is not uneven.

 

 

 

 

 

The finished product in use. Note that our chord has a hub that is plugged into it. There are two standard ports and two USB ports.

Door Draft Blocker

I haven’t posted in a while, so let’s start this set of upcoming posts with a super useful item. A door draft blocker! I needed two for different reasons. First, the block the beer closet from getting dust, pet hair, and other items into the precious beer area. The second is to keep the kitty litter in the cat closet. Sometimes he is messy and gets the litter everywhere! Then we tread on it while walking down the hall, it’s the worst.

 

  1. Measure your doors! The beer door is 30-inches, the cat door is 24-inches and the width of both is 1 1/4-inches

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Cuts!

Length, is obviously just a bit longer than the length of the door. I did 26-inches on the brown, for the cat door and 34-inches on the gray for the beer door.

Width is 15 inches: 1/2 inch on each side for seams, 6 inches on each side for the stuffing and a middle section 2 inches long.

 

3. Seams: I  did the seams two different ways to see which I like better, time will tell.

 

For the gray I did a serger edge on each of the long lengths. Always finish serger seams with some fray check.

 

 

 

 

 

On the brown fabric I did a folded over seam. I ironed a 1/4-inch fold on each long edge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Pin: Fold each side in on the long length. For the folded edge, ensure to keep the edge folded while pinning. I left an approximate 1-inch gap between the fabric.

 

 

 

 

On one of the short edges fold under the end to seal the end, leaving the other end free.

 

 

 

 

 

5. Sew. For the serger edge, sew at the inside edge of the serger thread. On the folded over edge give a little less than a 1/4-inch seam allowance.

 

 

 

 

 

Sew the folded under short edge closed.

 

 

 

 

 

6. Stuff and seal closed. The obvious stuffing material is the acrylic stuffing that you can buy from the store. I stuffed these with old clothes that weren’t going to make it to the thrift store. Always cut off buttons, take out zippers and save those!

 

 

 

 

 

7. Apply to the door.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In use on the beer closet:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In use on the cat closet.

 

   

Table Runner

My foyer table needed a new runner.

As an aside, I recently bought a house so be prepared for a large number of new posts as I fill it with my style.

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The planning stage of my table runner:

  • 5 quilt squares
  • extra fabric for the trim
  • know your dimensions!

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  1. Cut the fabric into 2-1/2 inch squares. There is n picture of this so here is a picture of one of my helpers:

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2. Line up the fabric right sides together but offset by a predetermined distance. I used 1-1/8 inch. This will give it the horizontal effect. Make sure each strip is off by the same amount.

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3. Sew the strips together. Ensure you keep a standard seam with. I used 1/4 inch.

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4. Keep sewing! You will have one long  . . . .long fabric piece.

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5. Iron so that all the seams lay in the same direction.

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6. Cut the fabric piece in half.

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7. Lay the right sides together and fold in half. Use the folded crease as a way to keep your fabric piece square. Line the crease along a line on your cutting board and then cut off the edges perpendicularly.

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8. You may have to square up the top edge again when you are done to ensure a nice rectangle.

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9. Cut batting to suit.

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10. Not shown: sew with the fabric pieces right sides together and batting on one side. Leave a gap in the seam so that you can flip the piece inside out.

11. Flatten the piece and then iron the edges flat.

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12. Create quilting lines: I did one seam along each white piece front and back. It turned out very nice.

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You can see the front and back here with the fabric folded.

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13. Cut your trim fabric in 3 inch wide lengths.

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14. Iron trim fabric in half.

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15. Sew the trim fabric to the edge of the fabric piece. The open edge of the trim should be in line with the outside edge of the piece. I did the long edges first.

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16. Before doing the trim on the short edges finish the long edges by folding the trim over the fabric piece and sewing down the side again.

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17. Next sew the trim on the short edge as done in step 15. Leave 2-3 inches on each side as extra. Also, start sewing just inside the trim for the long edges.

18. Now let’s set up our corners. Cut the fabric at an angle as shown below.

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Fold as shown:

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Flip the fabric piece.

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Fold over the long edge as shown:

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Fold over the short edge as shown:

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Pin your edges down and then do the final run along the short edge.

19. Now cut your thread and dab each end with some fray check.

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Clearly I was really making a cat blanket:

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Rand, the Dragon Reborn, thinks the new blanket is for him . . . .

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All done!

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On the table clutter free:

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The finished product looks AWESOME!

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Wedding Quilt

 

The plan:

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This quilt was planned for a wedding this past August. They both love Game of Thrones and the Elder Scrolls so I went with a medieval theme. The top right is the groom’s crest and bottom left is the bride’s crest. These field is split by a row of purple (a royal color) and wedding rings encircle the center.

Shopping!!!

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First I made the bride’s crest using my typical square patterns. The stars and half moon will be sewn on later.

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After these are laid out on the sewing room floor, I have to gather them up and label them to be stored for later.

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The same was done to the groom’s crest.

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The rings were a special problem. Here is how I did them. First sew two squares together diagonally, then cut the excess. For the purple squares, I just ironed them in half to get a good line.

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Then I took one of the “excess fabric” triangles that I just cut off and placed it on the gold side. I folded the fabric in half and ironed a line.

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I then flipped the free triangle and put a seam on the far side of the line.

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Iron it! Then line all the squares out. I had to do it twice for both rings, the diamond was sew on later.

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One side all sewn together ready for it’s accents.

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The half moon.

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The stars

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The other side all sewn together.

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The finished product on the recipient’s bed!

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Fabric Coasters

I’ve been wanting to make coasters for some time now since the wooden coasters I got in Ecuador are falling apart.  You may think: “Can’t you just sew two pieces of fabric together and call it a day?” Well, no because then you still have condensation seepage through the fabric or heat transfer from a hot cup. I can do better than that.

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First I started with some 4 by 4 squares I had left over from various quilts or other projects. I had a few other small scraps of fabric that I cut into 4 by 4 squares. The fabric color choice was to have a set of multi colored coasters to use while gaming; each person in our group has their own game colors they use everytime. The colors are typically red, yellow, orange, blue, green, purple, and black depending on the game. I didn’t have any black scraps ready so I used dark blue. My typical color is blue which is prevalent in every game, Kyle is always orange but will settle for yellow. The coasters will prevent our game pieces or cards from getting wet when we have drinks while we game! The owls are just cute extra fabric I wanted to use up.

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Next I needed some insulation. I used left over fabric batting. Remember – Never throw anything out! These were small and oddly shaped pieces that I was able to cut into 4 by 4 squares.

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Batting still doesn’t account for the condensation issue. I need plastic! I’ve made these before with painters plastic and I prefer to use that. However my stash was out and right now I’m not buying new supplies unless needed. Instead I can upcycle some plastic bags!

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I tried my rotary cutter first and it worked! Shown below are the bags cut into 4 by 4 inch squares.

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Time to make sandwiches! Put the two fabric squares right sides together. Then lay a plastic square, insulation square, then plastic square on top and pin.

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Next sew the square around leaving a gap along one edge for flipping. Then cut off the extra trimmings and thread.

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Next flip your squares so that the fabric is on the outside.

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Pin the mouth shut.

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Sew around the outside edge. (For a wedding present I made some for a friend and I added a 2-inch square seam and it really popped. I’ve also done some with a spiral square seam pattern and that also looks really good. I imagine you can do all sorts of seam patterns to add extra zest to the coasters and to make them lie flatter.)

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Finally a finished product! The coasters work on hot and cold beverages.

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Note: Since there is plastic inside, do not use these as mini oven mitts. They are machine washable, but I’d let them air dry.

Spicing Up Our Pillows

Our couch is old, it has old pillows. But until we buy a house we’re not going to replace it. While looking through the remnant section of Jo Anns, I found some upholstery fabric that i liked! And I decided that this is the time to spice up our old couch. I made two pillow covers out of the fabric.

First I measured the pillow, they are about 18 by 18, so i cut one 20×20 square, then two 20 x 15 rectangles.

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For the two rectangles, I did a double fold under for the hem on one 20-inch edge. I then overlapped those edges and put them right side in against the 20-inch square.

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I was able to sew one continuous seam around the outside edge of the square. Then I snipped the corners flat and flipped it right side out using the overlapped fabric gap.

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Finally I put the old pillows into the new cases and they look so good! It definitely brightens up the room. I don’t care that they do not match my couch mainly because nothing in my living room matches and secondly because nothing could match these old couches at this point.

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Reusable “Paper” Towels

Paper towels are wasteful. They’re made of paper, not entirely absorbent and you seem to always have them on your shopping list. In an effort to be more green I’ve made reusable “paper” towels from older towels that were past their prime. I’ve been using them in the kitchen for a week now and it makes me feel much better. The main concern from the boyfriend was that we could no longer use a paper towel to grease our cast iron pan and that the towels would leave lint. However, I’ve been using these towels to grease the pan and since they’re older they have virtually no fuzz to leave behind.

You may be thinking, what’s the difference between these and normal kitchen towels? Well these are on the counter and easy to grab just one, they are intended for messes and other things you would use a paper towel for instead of a kitchen towel, and they are smaller – intended to be used once.

Supplies:

  • two old towels
  • a few fabric squares or fabric left overs
  • typical sewing supplies

Step 1: Cut off the edges of the towel.

Step 2: Cut the towel into roughly 10-12 inch squares. They absolutely do not have to be uniform.

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Step 3: Using the scraps or fabric squares, cut 2-1/2 inch wide strips.

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Step 4: Iron the strips in half.

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Step 5: Fold in both edges of the strip so that you are folding each half in half, right sides out. Iron.

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You will need a lot of strips of fabric.

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Step 6: Sew the strips around the edge of the towels, folding corners when needed and adding new strips when you run out.

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Here is a nice pile of finished towels. I originally was going to attach snaps to each towel so that you can roll the towels onto a paper towel holder and pull off a single sheet as you need it. My super smart boyfriend pointed out that the snaps might scratch our pots. I was head strong and started to sew on a few snaps. I then realized how tedious snaps could be and how many I’d need to create a whole roll. So I then pretended like his concerns were valid so that I wouldn’t have to sew on snaps. To be fair, the snaps were metal and I’m sure would have messed up a few pans (if used on pans.)

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I then rolled up the towels and stuck them on our paper towel roll, the towels stay just fine.

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Another view of the roll.

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We pile the “paper” towels in the corner of the kitchen as we use them along with our hand towels and other kitchen fabric to be washed when we do laundry. The impact for using reusable towels is minimal on our lives. Having an easy to “tear off” paper towel substitute definitely makes the difference over using the typical kitchen towel for ease in the kitchen.

Homemade Hummus

Everyone who has my hummus loves it and wants the recipe and I am happy to share!

The basic ingredients are below. You can mix and match a variety of ingredients on top of these 6 basics and you will be creating hummus. Another popular one I made is a 6 pepper hummus that adds crushed red pepper, bell pepper, banana pepper, jalapeno, black pepper and cayenne. In the past I’ve left the tahini out for a friend who wasn’t partial to it, the texture and taste are a bit off from traditional hummus, but it’s still delicious. Another time I left out chick peas and only used black beans, once again you aren’t making a traditional hummus base, but it is still very good.

Basic Hummus:

  • tahini
  • chick peas
  • garlic
  • paprika
  • cumin
  • salt and pepper

For my black bean hummus I use the following proportions:

  • 1/4 cup tahini (If you leave tahini out, you will need more olive oil.)
  • 1 can chick peas (You can leave out chick peas and double the black beans.)
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1/4 c minced garlic (Yes, that much!)
  • half of a bell pepper (Red is best, all I had this week was green.)
  • green onions (I’m eating this hummus as I write this, and I did not use enough green onions, use 5-6.)
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • olive oil (not pictured)
  • salt and pepper to taste (Remember that your canned beans have a bit of salt already.)

Note: I added cayenne pepper because I love spicy and the wine pictured is for the cook.

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Step 1: Cut fresh green onions from your garden. Oh, you don’t have any? Well if you do buy onions for this recipe, use my method here and you will have your own fresh onions for next time.

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Step 2: Get out your food processor, because you totally have one. In the past I have made hummus in a blender, it requires a lot of stirring to get the hummus off the sides of the container as you blend. I imagine a nutria-bullet would do a good job as well.  I use the small bowl to make the hummus, in hind site I should have used the large one.

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Step 3: Drain and rinse your beans. You don’t need all that canned bean mess in your hummus.

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Step 4: Add the beans and tahini to the processor and start it up!

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Step 5: Add olive oil as needed through out the process to get a smooth mixture. You probably won’t need more than a 1/4 cup, water helps too but doesn’t give the same texture or taste.

Step 6: Add in all the other ingredients, as the food processor is running, until everything is mixed and at the consistency you desire.

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All done! Now package your hummus.

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Since I LOVE spicy food  I packed my hummus adding crushed red pepper and cayenne on top for my daily snack.  I left the bulk of the hummus without spice so I can share when guests come over. If you are plating this for a potluck, I recommend a cilantro and parsley garnish. I highly recommend eating this hummus with pretzel chips or carrots.

Indoor Plant Makeover

This shelf offends me. It’s my succulent shelf. Until yesterday it looked like a clutter shelf where I just put things that didn’t match. In reality it was a great window to place a shelf under so that my indoor plants could see the sun. It was about time I did something about this shelf so that I don’t look like a crazy hoarder lady with knick knacks everywhere. Also, why is there a broken bulb in that pot? (Sorry for the poor quality photo, the sun didn’t want to cooperate with my lighting choices.)

An aside: Indoor plants not only make the room more green and vibrant but provide oxygen. Succulents are great because if you forget about them for a while, they will still be ok.

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The supplies:

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The basic idea was to cover the outside of the pots with leftover burlap that I had lying around from another project and a strip of ribbon. I choose natural colored ribbons to keep a low key look. Super glue was the adhesive of choice and worked really well with the burlap.  I was going for a uniform minimalist look and I think I got it. The white pot was left alone to provide a little contrast.

The finished product is below. I replanted the other pot with some flowers. Will update once they grow.

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Some crafting tips for on-the-fly projects:

  • Always keep hot glue around, you should have a variety of adhesives on hand. I have Elmer’s glue, gorilla wood glue, super glue, glue stick, hot glue and goop.
  • Never ever throw away ribbons unless they’re beyond repair. Remember that basket of soaps you got? Save the ribbon. Those flowers he bought you last week? Usually good quality ribbon. I keep mine in the stein you see and it looks like a decoration accent for my sewing room.
  • While we’re on the subject, never throw out anything. Jeans can provide backing to fabrics, plus you can reuse the zipper. Metal hangers also can provide stiffening and are easy to bend. Old frames can be repainted and reused. Cardboard is always handy: I used it above to place the hot glue gun down, my craft table was currently occupied with another project.
  • Stay organized! Keep like items together so when you’re ready to create you don’t have to go far for inspiration.
  • Buy on sale. What is hot right now? Burlap and mason jars, old spoons, unique paper, small trinkets. When you see something on sale that you know you will use in the future, but it. My typical sale buys are yarn, ribbons, fabric remnants and unique items.

And don’t worry about the gnomes, it was about time they went back outside! They’re shown here in my beet pots.

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Cabbage Harvest and Cabbage Rolls

Time to harvest the winter cabbage and make room for spring vegetables.

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I first pulled the cabbage out from the root. Then I cut off the bottom half (the stem portion without leaves and roots) to place it in the compost. It’s a good idea to give the cabbage a squirt with a hose while outside to get some of the critters off safely, no need to kill all the bugs while in the kitchen.

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Cabbage Rolls:

  • 2 heads of cabbage
  • 1-1/2 cups of rice
  • 1/2 lb meat (Your choice, I used some smoked corned beef leftovers)
  • 2 Tbsp. garlic
  • 2 onions
  • 6 average tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • spices: salt, pepper, paprika

(Makes approximately two casserole dishes)

Step 1. Put the rice on to cook and a pot of water on to boil. Later you will be blanching your vegetables.

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Step 2. Prep the cabbage. Cut the cabbage leaves from the stem, give it a quick wash and then put it through a salad spinner. You will have bugs crawling out of the cabbage as you go, so keep a paper towel nearby to squish them.

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Cabbage in spinner and clean cabbage on a plate:

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Step 3. Blanch the cabbage. Put the cabbage in the pot laying flat for about a minute. The desired result is to have bendable cabbage that is not cooked through. The cabbage will turn a more vibrant shade of green, it makes for great photos.

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Step 4. Blanch the tomatoes. I left the tomatoes in for 2-3 minutes or until you see the skin split. No need to change the water in between. If you’re trying for low waste or live in California you can blanche the vegetables first then use the same water to cook your rice. Once the water is cooled it can also be used to water your garden.

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Step 5. Tomato sauce prep. Peel the skin from the tomatoes, cut in half, and place in a blending apparatus. I used the magic bullet. Add the sugar, salt, pepper and paprika. The sugar is used to balance the tart tomatoes. It is completely optional based on your tastes and tomato variety used. Blend and set aside.

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Tomato sauce will look like this:

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Step 6. Make the filling. Cut meat into small chunks or shred. Chop onions to your liking. Mix onions and meat with rice, salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic (we used jar garlic so no prep needed). Below the mix is shown before the rice is added.

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Step 7. Grease two casserole dishes. Olive oil is a great choice and if you’re not worried about calories try bacon grease.

Step 8. Stuff those cabbages! Put about 1/4 cup of the mix or less into each leaf depending on it’s size, roll the cabbage together like a burrito, and place it into the first dish.  Not all cabbage leaves will be big enough to roll, this is especially true if it’s garden cabbage. I set aside all of the small cabbage leaves for the second casserole where I made a lasagna type dish: there is a layer of cabbage, layer of filling and then another layer of cabbage.

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Step 9. Spread the tomato sauce on top. The rolled cabbage is pictured left and lasagna cabbage is on the right.

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Step 10. Bake covered at 350F for 1-1/2 hours or cover and freeze. I froze the second dish for later this month when I’m too busy to cook.

Step 11. Serve and eat! The cabbage rolls turned out so well that I ate until I was stuffed. Please don’t mind the Styrofoam, plastic, and terrible photo quality, we ate the dish at a friend’s house.

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