Choker Necklaces are Back in Style

Layered Choker Necklaces
Choker necklaces are back in style! They were big in the 1940's, 1970's, and again in the 1990's.  Some were bold looks with leather and metal; others were more romantic with lace and flowers. (History of Choker with Recent Celebrity Photos ) Now the choker necklaces are back in fashion for the 21st century fashionista.

When this was in fashion during my youth, those of us who were crafty often made our own chokers.  We made chokers similar to the ones in the video links below.  However, we made the lace ones by adding 1/2 inch to each end and folding over those ends to sew on the snap rather than glue it on. We did the same thing with embroidered wide ribbons we turned into choker.   Sewing the edges reinforced the ends and the choker lasted a lot longer, even past the trend.  If you do not want to sew, then use extra glue, clear nail polish, or Fray Check to keep the choker from unraveling at end if you do not do the sewing.  Another way we made closures was to sew ribbon onto the ends of the hemmed edges of the lace and then tie a bow in back to make it as tight as we wanted.  We also bought lace with large holes in the center that we could thread thin ribbon through for a dressier look.  We bought ribbon was about 8 inches longer than the lace piece so we could have the extra a back to tie in on.   Another romantic look we did was hot-gluing a silk flower (instead of some the items shown in videos) in the middle of wide thick ribbon as a spring/summer style.

If you make your own jewelry, you probably know you can buy leather or suede cord to make a choker at most craft stores.  You may be able to get ready-made 14” or 16” leather cords or silk cords in a variety of colors too.  So you can do all the work in the part two of video below or buy one of these, add your pendant/charm and you are all ready to go!

For lots more ideas on creating different chokers, visit Cut Out and Keep website.  Please note, they just show photos, they do not give how to project instructions. 

Grandma Parrish’s Pickle Recipes: Dill or Bread & Butter Versions

Homemade Pickles Packed Various Ways
In the back of the children’s book Mr. Pickle Goes to Pickle Island, I note learning activities that parents may want to do with their children after reading the book together.  One such activity is to make pickles from fresh cucumbers themselves.  I am creating this post to provide two of my grandmother’s pickle recipes so the pickle lovers out there can re-create these delectable food items during the summer produce season.  These recipes appeared in the 1979 edition of “A Book of Favorite Recipes” by ladies of Coppell First Assembly of God Church.

Fresh Pack Dill Pickles Recipe
7 quarts whole cucumbers, 3-5 inches long (approximately 17-18 pounds)
2 gallons of 5% Brine (see recipe below)
6 cups vinegar
¼ cup sugar
9 cups water
2 Tablespoons whole mixed pickling spice, tied into small cheesecloth bag.
Add-ins Per Jar:
Mustard seed
1.    Wash cucumbers thoroughly.  Cover with 5% Brine and let stand overnight in ice box (aka refrigerator).
2.    Next day, drain cucumbers. 
3.    Combine vinegar, salt, sugar, water, and pickling spice bag in pot.  Heat to boiling and let stand while packing cucumbers into quart jars.
4.    After packing in cucumbers, add 2 teaspoons mustard seed, 1 glove garlic, and 3 heads dill to each jar
5.    Cover with boiling spice liquid to about ¼ inch of top of jar.
6.    Wipe tops and seal jars.
7.    Process in boiling water 20 minutes.

View Canning Homemade No Fail Dill Pickles video on packing and boiling jars, which starts at step 3 above.  This video contains another grandmother’s recipe, so you can use the above or use that one. You can tell by the look of the cucumbers he already did the overnight soak and drain in steps 1-2.

Five Percent Brine Recipe
2 gallons of water
1 ½ cups pickling salt
1.    Heat water to boil.  Dissolve salt in water. 
2.    Cool brine mixture to room temperature before using.

Some pickle recipes call for vinegar instead, check Vinegar-Brine Pickling Method if you have a recipe that calls for that.

Bread and Butter Pickles Recipe
25-30 medium cucumbers, sliced thin  
     (NOTE:  Grandma said zucchini squash may be used instead of cucumbers if you like.)
8 large onions
2 large bell peppers
½ cup pickling salt (for soaking in water)
5 cups cider vinegar
5 cups sugar (approximately 2 ½ pounds)
2 Tablespoons mustard seed
1 teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon cloves
1.    Wash cucumbers and slice thin.
2.    Chop all remaining vegetables into cucumbers and add salt with enough cold water to cover.
3.    Let stand for 3 hours and then drain well.
4.    Combine vinegar, sugar, and spices in large kettle (aka pot). 
5.    Bring to a boil, then add the drained vegetables and heat thoroughly.  Do not boil again.
6.    Pack into hot sterilized jars.
7.    Seal and place in boiling water bath for 5 minutes.
8.    Remove jars and cool.

View Depression Style Bread and Butter Pickles video on slicing and prepping the pickles a little differently from above recipe.  This video uses hot peppers and garlic to make them spicier but it does not include measurements, however it is very entertaining

A Life Lesson from the American Bald Eagle?

An email with images of eagles and a story regarding them has been going around.  Below is a video that contains most of those images and the associated story.  After you watch the video, you may want to check out some of the Biblical opinions on eagles and the data shared in video.

America’s Patriotic Music to Celebrate U.S. Independence

In Church yesterday, instead of the usual choruses or hymns, we sang songs of America.  Since I posted on the Pledge of Allegiance, I thought it would be a good idea to do a post on some of the most popular patriotic songs.  When I began my research, I found other bloggers had the same great idea.

I liked the Top 100 Songs of American Patriotism since it included tunes from multiple genres, besides traditional marches and anthems, there are country and rock options.  You will have to scroll down past ads and links to other posts before the song list starts, but it is worth a look.  The songs are listed starting with #100 and going to #1, which is the national anthem.   Within the song description you may find some historical information and occasional rants about political correctness – I’m ok with it since I sometimes get into rants too.  Some of the songs listed reference 9/11 as their inspiration.

If you like the songs and want to check out some American history as well see this short list of books and websites.  If you agree that America needs to continue using songs that mention our Christian heritage and keep “In God We Trust” in the hearts of citizens, you may want to check out how the USA has its foundation in the Bible.

Since I know some people do not know the words to many of the United States older songs or choose not to sing them since they often mention God, I also include Patriotic Song Lyrics from the USA Flag Site here, so you may print any that you wish to sing during your Independence Day celebrations.

If you want to hear any of the 100 songs mentioned above, the blogger does include links to some videos on YouTube.  If a link is not included, you may want to do your own search on YouTube or Amazon to listen.  To do so, use the song title and artist from the blogger’s list.  Below is one if the many videos on YouTube with American Patriotic Songs and Marches (this 1 is over 35 minutes).  If you want to play traditional music at your celebration, then consider this one or look at the many longer versions that you can run on a loop during your picnic or party.  Check this older July 4th post for a slide show to use or search for your own on YouTube.

Bring Back One Nation under One Flag

Flag of the United States of America
It is almost Independence Day for the USA.  With all the different flags people display and all the different sides of causes citizens jump on, is America becoming a people divided?  Do not get me wrong, I have no problem with people displaying other flags, as long as they also show their allegiance to the country that gave them the freedom to do so.  In other words, so we do not forget where our freedoms come from, we should display the USA flag along with any other we choose.  Let us show American unity once again. 

Because children have grown up who did not know or  understand the magnitude of historical events and so many others have chosen to forget the terrorist attacks on 9-11-01, I think we need to recognize that disharmony is another way in for those that wish to undermine America to use for its destruction.  For that reason, I feel everyone should pause once in a while and say the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag lest we forget the words, the history, and our true hope for the uniting of the nation’s citizens.  We need to remember the word and teach them to our children.  In case someone does not remember the pledge, the 31 words are provided below.

*** USA - The Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag ***
"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

We give our heads and our hearts to god and our country. One country, one language, one flag.” - George Balch

Red, White, and Blue Summer Desserts

I'm on the Imperial Sugar mailing list so once a month, I get an email of dessert recipes.  This time the email had some cute ideas for July 4th patriotic desserts in colors of red, white, and blue.  Below is a video of how to make Red White and Blue Cupcakes.  I'd use a cake mix to speed up the preparation.  If cupcakes are not your thing or you do not want to go to that much trouble, then try their Patriotic Poke Cake for your picnic.  If you are planning party inside or have a refrigerator nearby, you might want to try the Stars and Berries Cheesecake instead.   

Summer Hair: Ponies, Braids, and More with a Topsy Tail

I get lots of complements on my hair styles during the summer because I try to go for more than just a pony tail or bun to stay cool.  One tool I love to use is the Conair Topsy Tail, below is a video showing how to use the 3-piece Topsy Tail kit.  There are copies of the tool out there, I do not recommend those as the rubber-band type break easily and the stiff version are really hard to pull thru your hair so you can end up with a lopsided look.

After you make the basic topsy pony tail, you can wear it natural; straighten it for a thinner tail; fancy it up by using a curling iron to make the tail a large ringlet; or use electric curlers to make 3-5 smaller ringlets.  You can also make the pony into a standard 3-stand braid or mock braid by spacing rubber bands every 1-2 inches down the pony. You can then put a pretty pony tail bob or hair clip or big at the end of the braid.  If you use a hair clip, first put a rubber band at the end and then weave the back of clip into hair above the rubber band.  Otherwise, the hair clip may fall off and get lost. 

Another cute look is braids with ribbons running through them.  The standard way is to put a rubber band at top of braid and then place the two ends over 2 of the 3 hair stands so that you weave the color down and through the braid – then wrap the ribbon around bottom rubber band and tie into small bow.

Another thing I discovered is you can repeat the Topsy process multiple times to create a horizontal mock French twist (standard version is vertical).  Once you have only a tiny bit of hair left, you tuck it in and then use spin pins and hair spray to secure it in place. 

To read tips for other ways I do my hair in the summer, visit video posts on Buns with Goody Spin Pins and Tools for Up Do’s.  Other spring/summer decorative hair options can be found in post on Accessories for Bundling Hair.  Any season styles can be found on Bouffants with Bump Its.

If you want more braid styles, check out how to make a messy mock French braid (and other ideas at end of linked article) using instructions in additional video at  Or for really long hair, do a video search for other pull through braid styles.

The God Bless Girl Goes To Print!

The God Bless Girl

Many people have requested that I publish The God Bless Girl e-book version in print. So everybody with me now - Jump for Joy!  The paperback version of The God Bless Girl is now available!

A few people have asked me how I got the idea for this book.  Actually, I wrote, edited, and formatted the text, but I am not sure I can say it was all my idea.   I think God gave me book as a message to Christians in America before it is too late.

“…ignorance births intolerance, intolerance leads to bigotry, and bigotry breeds hate.”  - quote from 5th chapter of book

Each chapter in the book came to me in different nightly dreams when I was recovering from back surgery in 2015.  When I re-dreamed the first chapter and then another one, I decided it must be God trying to tell me something.  As I lay awake in bed, I prayed about it and then felt I was supposed to write the stories down.  I could not sit up to write or type, so I had my laptop placed on my stomach in order to make notes of key things I could remember from the different dreams.  Just doing that wore me out! 

After I recovered enough from surgery to sit in a chair at my desk for a long period of time, I was able to work on my laptop some each day.  I reviewed the typed notes, prayed some more, and begin writing a chapter a day.  I was amazed how quickly and vividly God brought the images and words back to me.  Once I had the draft of the book written, I asked a few people to read it over to make sure it flowed well, was easy-to-read and understand, and that religious references from various backgrounds were accurate.  That led to several days to do the final steps of:  minor edits, grammar rechecks, formatting, and multiple uploads/reviews of the e-book to get it right.  Of course, all of those final four steps had to be repeated for a print version (which took 2 days this time). 

“…anyone that uses profanity as an adjective is showing their lack of vocabulary…” - quote from 3rd chapter of book

Note to potential readers and buyers please understand that the paperback book costs more on Amazon than the e-book because it costs more to print and mail paperback books than it does for digital delivery. I get   very little from the book sales.  Since I feel this was a message from God to Americans, I plan to give any profits from book sales to Christian ministries.  The book is out there so that the words I was given in my dreams can be shared with anyone.  Please buy a copy for yourself and also share the book with others (buying 5 copies or bundling with other books can get you free shipping).

Visit The Good Bless Girl book webpage to download, print, and share: flyer, slide, and (coming soon) images for social media.  To quickly view and buy, go to Amazon.  You may also want to follow @TheGodBlessGirl on Twitter.

Big Red Tractor as Church Analogy

Below is a video short for the children’s book The Big Red Tractor and the Little Village by Frances Chan.  Recently I viewed a one of his lessons from Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit.  In this lesson, the author (who is also a minister) compared his children’s story to the modern day Christian Church.  In his analogy, the church (townspeople) is always “pushing” things (tractor) just to try to survive by taking care of their own and fitting in with the world rather than reading and following the owner’s manual (Bible) and doing as directed there.  The Church should be unstoppable by recognizing the spirit and helping  more people.

Eighteen Plus Treats Kids Can Make From Favorite Cereals

Do you need something for children to do while out of school for the summer?  How about putting them to work in the kitchen making their own treats?  I noticed that cereals have become toppings on cupcakes, cookies (more cookies), or ice cream and remembered when I used to make bars of Rice Krispies with my son.  He loved the homemade version much better than the stale store-bought.  He also liked shaking up the bag for Chex Muddy Buddies.   With this thought in mind, I decide to look for recipes using assorted cereals that children could make on their own or help with making.  I think he would have also loved the idea of a faux crumble on his morning muffins simply done by sprinkling cereal on top of the muffins before that are put in the oven to bake.

I searched the web for recipes and have included the links below along with personal tips, ingredient hints, or warnings.  The recipes are divided into different groups.  Younger children recipes contain no-cook recipes or ones where microwave is used to melt ingredients by parent or caregiver. Older children recipes may require cooking on the stove or in the oven, also may contain no-cook recipes that are more difficult and time-consuming than younger children have the patience or attention span to do.  However, there are no recipes below where cereal is simply used as a topping; I think most kids can figure that one out on their own.  You should decide which age and skill category your children fall into by checking out the recipe beforehand.

Younger Children Recipes:
1.       Traditional Rice Krispies Treat  (while it is ok to substitute Fruity Pebbles for Rice Krispies for a more colorful treat, it would be yucky rather than yummy if you substitute fruit-flavored marshmallows for plain)
2.       Avalanche Cookies – no-bake made with Rice Krispies, marshmallows, peanut butter, and chocolate
3.       Traditional Chex Muddy Buddies (aka Puppy Chow – I used only corn flavor as it was the most sweet flavor so they seemed more like candy to my many nieces and nephews.)
4.       Chex Reindeer Bait (supper easy and M&Ms’ make it very colorful)
5.       Trix Krispies  (colorful easy variation on traditional Krispies Treat)
6.       Gooey Peanut Butter Cheerio Bars (includes chocolate chips so after the first time, try it with other chip flavors as well)
7.       Golden Grahams S’mores (requires lots of stirring power)
8.       Corn on the Cob Kix Treats (this is so cute - it is like making popcorn balls so may want to consider it will be hot mix made with hands)
9.       Alton Brown’s White Trash - made with Cheerios and Chex

Older Children Recipes:
1.       Reece’s Puffs & Pieces Bars (similar to Rice Krispies Treats but with a peanut butter flavor cereal)
2.       Butterscotch Fluffernutter Krispy Bars – made with Rice Krispies, cookie dough, and butterscotch chips
3.       Rainbow Muddy Buddies – made with Chex and Lucky Charms cereals
4.       Alton Brown’s White Trash – made with Cheerios and Chex
5.       Samoa Peanut Butter Bars – made with Rice Krispies and Golden Grahams
6.       Honey-Nut Cheerios Bars (ends up looking like a trail mix bar if you put in all the optional ingredients)
7.       Peanut Butter Cereal Bars – this version is made with Rice Krispies and Corn Flakes, includes Chocolate Chips
8.       Peanut Butter Cereal Bars – this version is made with Rice Krispies and Cheerios using chunky peanut butter
9.       Cocoa Puffs Fudge ( that is correct  Cocoa Puffs in chocolate)
See also Fancy Rice Krispies Desserts multitude of baking or special decorating ideas from fans of the cereal for more ideas.