Friday, April 30, 2010

Fab Friday Favorites

Here are some fab creations from around the web this week. Take a look see, jump over to their site and spread some blog love. Just don't forget to come back here and finish looking at the list!


Little Miss Momma makes this wonderful button bracelet. The outstanding part is she has a great tutorial that also shows how to put on a lobster clasp.

I just love wreaths. I wish I had more doors to display them on. If anybody has any unusual wreath display ideas, just let me know. This beauty is made from ... wait for it .... paper towels and food coloring! Redberry Barn was super creative with this. ** Update. The wreath inspiration and the picture that I actually posted was from Nicole over at  Made by Nicole. I got the credits wrong and Jenn at Redberry Barn was nice enough to help me out. **

These necklaces look like something expensive in a boutique store. They are made from ordinary washers and come from the creative mind of Yolanda at Monkey See- Monkey Do. Don't they make you want to run out and get a metal stamp set? If you make these you can use the tutorial from Little Miss Momma above to put a clasp on it. See, I'm watching out for you!

Isn't this just adorable? Jessica over at A Few of My Favorite Things made this t-shirt with rosettes. I really like this. It's feminine without being cutesy.

OMG, I'm in love. The Little Green Bean has made these mini fabric bolts to store her fabric obsession I mean collection. I would need a bazillion of these. I love that they are neat and tidy and you can see all the fabric. Swoon.

I Can Find the Time has this neat quilted coaster project. What a wonderful way to use up some fabric scraps. I'm thinking Christmas gifts!

Jessica over at Lemon Tree Creations made a tray from a frame. I like this. You can coordinate the fabric inset to match your decor and change it up when you like.

I had planned to feature a completely different project from Tatertots and Jello, then I saw these pillows from an October post and knew you had to see them. I'm still not over my burlap obsession and just love how these pillows are dressed up and changeable.

I hope you enjoyed this Friday's Fab Favorites. Tune in next week, same bat time, same bat channel (Batman cartoon reference for those of you who didn't get that, although if I have to explain it it reduces some of its fun quotient).


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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Just Because Its Pretty ...

I have this problem. I'm easily distracted by pretty and shiny things. I like to window shop on Etsy and Craig's List even if I don't need anything, have the space to put anything, or even have the money to purchase anything. If my ancestor cave woman was a gatherer then I was the one who was trying to trade my berries for the other cave womens different colored berries, not happy with just one color and deciding that it was time to switch things up a bit.

Now I think I've mentioned that my condo is furnished in a mid century modern style with a bit of folk art  thrown in. I have a really tight color palette that I furnish in. And my space is small so it's minimal by design and necessity. And yet I still shop. And torture myself with all the fantastic bargains and gorgeous items I find.

Like this recent Etsy fabric I was lusting after. Yes, pure lust. Right style, right colors, OK price ...but I just couldn't find a use for it. I wanted to own it because I wanted it. Just that, no real purpose for it. I had to be talked down from the ledge by Alison.

Just because it's pretty doesn't mean I have to own it. Sigh. Life is hard.

What have you been lusting (gasp) after?

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

It's Craft Time - Architectural Letter Name


My friend was talking about her friend and how she received her last name in framed architectural letters as a gift. Both friends just loved it and thought it was the neatest thing. I told friend 1 (OK, It's Alison. Again. My Creative Cohort.) that I could easily make one for her. You see, she was going to spend big $$ and order one from where the other friend had received hers. I can create that project in under $10 dollars, Bob. And off I went. (In case you can't tell, the letters spell out BOWMAN).

I first started at my store of choice, Dollar Tree. There I picked up 6 carved bronze-ish 4"x6" frames for yes, you guessed it $6. The bronze-ish color coordinates beautifully with other accents in Alison's bedroom where these are to be hung. No need to even paint them! And unless you look really hard, you can't tell these are cheap plastic frames. Nobody will be looking that closely at the frames, they will be awestruck by the architectural letters inside.

Next I scoured the interweb for architectural letters. They were easy to find, but watch for copyrights. Larger file sizes were better for increasing in size to 4"x6" than small images which became out of focus and blurry. So in Photoshop I cropped and enlarged the letter to 4"x6".

At first I had them in black and white. I thought the graphic nature of the letter would look good that way. It was also a way to make them all look more cohesive. They looked awful in the bronze-ish frame. I was crushed. What to do, what to do. After a little Google action I had the answer. Change the letter from black and white to a sepia tone. I had no idea how to do this (I was please I managed to get them black and white). This is where my friend Google came in with this awesome tutorial here. Well "here" should be a clickable link to the wonderful, simple tutorial I used. But I can no longer find my link so you will also have to Google it.


Here you can see the difference. The black and white is on the left and the sepia toned one is on the right. The difference is kind of subtle but made a world of difference in the frames.

So the project was easy and fairly quick. Find the letter (took the longest - I couldn't find an "N" that I liked), open the file in Photoshop (I'm sure you could use some other software, this is just what I had) and size and crop to 4"x6". Why 4"x6"? Because that is the size of the large stash of photo paper I had on hand. (Watch Staples for wonderful deals. I think I paid $1 (after rebate) for each package of 100 sheets). Change to sepia tone, print, insert in frame. I think it probably took 2 hours total, including my Google time.

Project cost was $6.60 for the frames and $.06 for the paper. So for $6.66 I was able to create a personalized gift for a dear friend and save her big $$. If any of my other dear friends (Valerie) wants one just let me know.

Linking up to these great party's.


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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Fabricaholic

Hello. My name is Kat and I'm a fabricaholic.

It's been almost 2 weeks since my last fabric purchase. I was tempted today and even went into a fabric store. It was so hard. The textures, the colors, the fabrics! I was overcome with the need n.e.e.d to purchase, even though I knew it wouldn't be good for me.

I told myself I was only going in for some fusible web for my son's quilt project and had a coupon. I was lying to myself. I went in for that, yes, but also because I knew I would be around fabric.

I was a good girl and only purchased my fusible web (even resisted the magazines) But I need some serious help!

Do you have trouble in fabric or craft stores?

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Organizing the Linen Closet - After

Remember my post about how horrible my linen closet was? Go back here for all the before pictures.


Ack! However did I put up with it for the almost 3 years I've lived here? Then while I was slaving away working my magic on the closet I gave you some organizing tips and tricks for your own linen closet here.

Now prepare yourself for the wonders of the newly painted and organized linen closet!


Empty! You should see my bedroom - it's as if the linen closet vomited in there. How will I ever sleep? My bed is just covered with ... stuff.


Look at the difference white paint makes! The walls were a dirty peachy flesh color before. I wonder how I even saw anything in the dark closet. I had to paint the shelves in place in the closet because I have no room. You should have seen me when I decided that the bottom of the shelves were reflecting their icky color onto the white shelf below it and needed to be white also. I was twisted in half trying to paint the bottom of the shelf while not sticking my hair or hands in the wet paint. Needless to say, I came out looking like a skunk!

Top left side. Only bedding and pillows on the top shelf now. I still haven't found a home for all the other crap that was there, but I will! I even have room for rags now on the towel shelf. I had to give my son a towel folding lessen so that it stays this pretty. To fit my closet shelf, fold the towel in 3rds lengthwise then in 3rds widthwise. Works like a charm.


Top right side. Notice that the shelves are labeled so items go back into their proper place! I still want all white towels (except for the rag pile with the green and blue towels here). It will have to wait for a sale and after new tires are purchased for my car.
 

Middle left side. See all the pretty baskets nicely labeled?! No excuse for not being able to find anything now.


 Middle right side. Did I mention that I used that new Behr paint that is the primer and paint mixed in one? It went on smoothly and covered fairly well. I only did a single coat - I was impatient and lazy. With stuff in the closet, you can't even see that the coverage is spotty in places. I did have a nifty roller cover that was made to paint corners also. It worked well and I had to do hardly any cutting in with a brush.


Bottom left side. I was able to move some cleaners out from being stuffed under the kitchen sink to the closet now. I did take a basket of spray paint, wood stain, lemon oil, WD-40, etc. down to my basement storage locker. It doesn't belong in my linen closet and it freed up so much room! Yes, the litter box had to stay in the closet.


Bottom right side. Look! I have room for toilet paper and rolls of paper towels now. See the empty piece of carpeting? Room for a box of cat litter! How lovely.

I didn't get my cleaning tools moved from my front hall closet to the linen closet yet. Truth be told, I was having so much fun organizing and labeling that I forgot all about them until I sat down to write this post! I'll probably wait until I paint the doors and trim in the condo now before I move them.

Total cost: 
$10 for 10 baskets at the Dollar Store
$34 for a gallon of paint. I only used a fraction and will use the rest to paint my trim and doors in the condo.

Time spent: An hour getting the shelves prepped for painting (remember? They had stuck on bits of shelf liner and glue). And it took longer than I thought to empty the closet. All told about 5 hours from start to finish with prep work and painting including cleaning up. Add another hour to dig out my bed and make room so I could sleep. The next day, sorting by like item, putting the stuff into baskets, labeling and organizing the closet took about 4 hours. I went through and checked all expiration dates, wiped everything down and made a list of needed items as I went. I consolidated a lot of boxes that had just one or two items left. I didn't realize but I had duplicates of several items because I couldn't find anything in the closet. And I spent a little extra time getting the baskets in the "right" place and order. A little OCD perhaps? I also had to recycle the empty old baskets and put away the misc. stuff that hadn't found a home yet.

Is it weird that I am totally in love with my new labeled and organized closet? I open the door to look at it even if I don't need something. I could hardly wait to share it with you. Such a feeling of satisfaction and job well done. All is right with the world.

What have you organized recently? And how did it make you feel?

Linking up to these wonderful parties. Go check them out!

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Monday, April 26, 2010

Countdown to Christmas

It is only 242 days until Christmas. If you celebrate it do you make handmade gifts? Do you know what you are giving and to whom? Do you have a plan for when you will start making them? And then the real start date, when do you think that is?

I usually have ideas for gifts around September but don't start really making anything until around Halloween. Then I pause a little and have a mad dash after Thanksgiving to get things done. I'm usually working on something right up until the last minute. (And I'll confess that sometimes my son's (18 years old) gifts don't get made until after Christmas or July). But once I've made up my mind in September I stick with the project, no matter how tedious it becomes.

I was so proud 78 days ago when I posted that I knew what everyone would be getting. Well things have changed because I saw something similar to what I was going to make in a Sister-in-law's house - quelle horreur!

Now I have to rethink things and still try to use the supplies I've already purchased. Darn it. I was creative once, I don't know if I can be creative twice!

What are you making for the holidays?


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In the Kitchen - Southwest Chicken Chili


I wish I could take a picture to accurately convey how yummy this chili is! This is another family favorite and has placed in several small, local chili contests. (Darn it all - I don't think I've won because its not a traditional chili). I always double the recipe with the thought to freeze half, but it gets eaten so fast that I never get anything frozen!

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast cubed
1 Tbs. butter
1 tsp. chili powder (add more as you like)
1/2 tsp. salt
dash black pepper
1 small yellow onion chopped
1 green pepper chopped
2 Tbs. chopped green chilies
4 Tbs. chopped jalapeno peppers
15.5 oz. can dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can chili ready chopped tomatos (I prefer Red Gold brand, but any works)
8 oz. can tomato sauce
cheddar cheese as a topping
sour cream as a topping

Dice chicken into small cubes and place in a stock pot. Saute with butter, chili powder, salt, pepper, onion, green pepper, green chilies, and jalapeno peppers. Add kidney beans, chopped tomatoes and tomato sauce and simmer for 30 minutes. Top with cheddar cheese and a dollop of sour cream.

Recipe serves 4 and can be easily doubled. If possible, I make it in the evening (after dinner so nobody will eat any) and let it sit overnight in the refrigerator prior to serving. It just tastes better as the flavors have a chance to meld together.

Enjoy!


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Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread

Seriously, my new Bluetooth headset has changed my life. I purchased the cheapest one available ($20) and I LOVE it. Now I know this isn't new technology by any stretch of the imagination, I just could never understand why I would need one. Now I'm a hands free talking manic.

Well, see, I talk with my best friend Alison (I've talked about her before) almost nightly for up to an hour or so. Her husband is so understanding. Since we live 150 miles apart and rarely see each other this is our version of having coffee together each morning (except its at night ... you get it don't you?). Well during our conversations I would sit and hold my phone to my ear. And do nothing. Well I listened, but when you talk with someone every night you don't have to listen with 100% attention 100% of the time. It's not like we're solving world hunger. (Alison, don't get me wrong - I completely listen to your every word).

With my bluetooth headset I can fold laundry, pick up the house, brush the dog, wash dishes (ugh, I hate washing dishes). So I can talk and be productive at the same time. What a concept. I liked it so much I talked Alison into getting one. This way when I'm folding laundry she can be rug hooking or doing her laundry too.

Why did I wait so long before getting one? It's the best thing ever. Except for one little thing. I must have deformed ears. I can't keep the darn headset to stay on my ear for anything. I tilt my head and off it falls. Eeh, nothing is perfect.

What's your favorite new piece of technology?

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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Haiku Saturday


Oh what shall I do
when my fancy turns to paint?
Why grab a roller!


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Friday, April 23, 2010

Fab Friday Favorites

Who was caught being fabulous this week? Let's see ....


Lindsey and Nicole at the Pleated Poppy came up with this wonderful list of family rules. Pretty and practical.  I've got a "rules" project on the back burner and this definitely gives me a different way of approaching it.


Over at Creative Jewish Mom they have these wonderful  branches with tissue paper blossoms. They look so real!


This lovely Napa Style inspired lazy susan is from Room to Inspire and is just perfect! Read how it was put together from misc. pieces.


Amanda at a Lovely Place to Land took an old suitcase and made this wonder for a special girl. If purple isn't your color, just think of all the possibilities this technique has. Colors to match your room, brown with a world traveler theme, almost any color with the multitude of scrap book papers available, even wrapping paper. What would you do with said suitcase? Why have it out, stacked with other suitcases as an end table, plus have a bunch of storage. I can think of 2 people I know who need end tables. Hmmm..... I might have to make a trip go Goodwill.


Linday at The Cottage Home came up with this ultra creative way to store spools of ribbon. It's a pants hanger! Isn't she clever?


I love the idea of a birthday banner, as done by Pickup Some Creativity. What a great tradition to start with your family.


A Girl and a Glue Gun made these adorable cord ties out of fabric. Now I'm not a big sewer, but even I can whip up a couple of these beauties. With the sewing machine cover that will be made "some day" my sewing machine will be all tricked out. What fun.


Blogland is just full of ruffled, flower strewn pillows and clothing. It's very popular right now. I think this is one of the best pillow/rose combos that I've seen. It's sweet, but something that I could still have in my more modern space. This is from Suzanne at Just Another Hang Up and it has a tutorial. Check out her site, there are wonderful projects and she has an Etsy store with great things!


Shannon over at Quarry Orchard made these unique globe balls. I've never seen anything like them and just adore them. I want to have a tray (if I can ever figure out where to put it) with different texture balls in them and this would be a perfect addition. Hop on over for her tutorial.


Alicia over at Thrifty and Chic came up with this headband for her headboard. I LOVE this. Who would have thought to do this? Why Alicia of course!

I hope you enjoyed this week's spin around the web. I can't wait to see what I find for next week!


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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Organizing the Linen Closet - Tips and Tricks

Did you read my post about my aggravating linen closet here? As promised here are some tips and techniques to get your closet organized and staying that way.

I'm making progress on my organizing job. This weekend it's painting time for the closet and I have my new baskets to organize all my items in. Next week you will get to see pictures of the before and after of my closet!

Photo Apartment Therapy

Linen closets are generally a multipurpose storage area. Many odds and ends -- such as vacuum cleaners, ironing boards and cleaning supplies -- can find their way into a linen closet. It can seem like a lot to ask from one small closet.

Decide what you want to use your linen closet for. Only bedding and towels? Medicines? Cleaning supplies? Remove anything else that doesn't belong there. We usually use 20% of what we own 80% of  the time.

When you start cleaning your linen closet, take everything out and sort it into like piles. It will be easy to see what you have.

Consolidate all medicine in one place. That way you can find them and don't have duplicates. This goes for cleaners also, although your linen closet might not be the best place for them

Use a revolving spice rack (flat no bottles) to store your medicines on. That way it's easy to see what you need and takes up little space. Once I see how many meds we have and need, I might implement this idea. My shelves are spaced widely, I might get a 2 tier rack  like this one and use one tier for first aid supplies.

Get rid of outdated products and medicine or things you know you won't use. Follow your local guidelines on proper waste disposal.

If you have unused toiletries that you'll never use donate them to a woman's shelter

When the closet is empty, wipe down the shelves with a warm soapy water. Let dry before you return anything to the shelves.

Roll towels to increase shelf space.

If you fold towels, fold lengthwise (long ends together), then the end with the top of the towel in 1/3 then the bottom with the fold over so all ends are enclosed in the towel and it won't unravel in the closet.

Keep a box of baking soda in the closet or you can hang a sachet of pine (I always just use a fresh bag of wood chip animal bedding from the pet store) or lavender in cheesecloth to keep the closet smelling nice. Hanging a dryer sheet also works.

Lay down acid free tissue paper so fabrics don't discolor over time. This is a good tip for my quilts, but I feel is unnecessary for my towels and sheets.

Use adjustable wire shelving for space organization and air flow.

Consider under shelf wire mount baskets (for wash clothes) and shelf dividers from the Container Store (I LOVE that place) to help keep you organized if your shelves do not adjust.

In addition to labeling baskets, label the shelves where things like towels and sheets go. Martha Stewart does this and her closets are like closet porn they are so good.

Use space bags for large bulky items used only occasionally like quilts and comforters.

If you don't want to purchase space bags, try a thicker ply garbage bag, suck the air out with a vacuum cleaner and tie securely. Just don't forget to label what's in it.

Keep frequently used items at eye level and in the front of the closet.

Keep infrequently used items toward the back of the closet or on the top hard to reach shelf.

Wash everything in the closet at least once every 6 months to keep it fresh.

Always replace newly laundered items on the top of the stack and take fresh from the bottom to rotate your items.

Sort your towels and sheets and have no more than 3 towel sets (towel, hand towel and washcloth) per person and 3 sets of sheets per bed. I think that is CRAZY Talk. We have one set of sheets, the one that is on the bed. You have to be efficient in your laundry at my house. We have 2 towels each, 1 guest towel and 2 large "cleaning" towels that can double as a small beach towel. Remember I'm in a very small space.

If you have more than this in your closet sort it.  Put left overs in the rag pile and donate the rest. If they are in too bad shape to donate to a charity shop, animal rescue organizations will usually gladly take them.

Keep extra sheet sets organized by storing them in a pillow case.

Don't cram the shelves too tightly. You want to be able to get your hands in there without scraping your knuckles. This is for two reasons. One you can then pull out an item without everything else coming out with it and it allows air flow around the items so they stay fresh.

If you have to cram stuff to get it all to fit, you have too much stuff.

Shelves should be 10 inches apart for sheets and table linens, 12-16 inches apart for towels and 18 inches or more for comforters and other bulky items.

Table lines are best stored on a hanger (just not a wire one)

If you have to fold table lines, fold them with tissue paper to reduce the creasing.

Store extra blankets and sheets in the decorative pillow shams that come with bedding sets on your bed. In the guest room, you can have the guest towels in the pillow sham and out of your linen closet. (I've never thought of this!)
                                                  How do you keep your linen closet organized?

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                                                  Tuesday, April 20, 2010

                                                  Thrift Store Shopping Tips

                                                  I absolutely love shopping at thrift stores. I think there is something primal about the hunt. I know I get a rush from finding the perfect article of clothing or home decorating accent. I went through a furniture phase and added to my previous and current homes (along with the help of Craig's List). And lets not forget, I'm about a cheap as they come. Or as I like to say, "Using my resources wisely". 

                                                  When I go thrifting I like to make it an all day activity. I know, not everyone has that luxury - even I don't most times, but it is my preferred way of shopping. Kind of like a drug binge (not that I know what that is like ... but hey, I watch Intervention).

                                                  So here are a few of my shopping tips, even if you only go to one store:
                                                  • If at all possible, leave the kids and husbands home. They just slow you down and ask questions like, "but do we need it?"
                                                  • Using a maping software (like Google Map) and determine your route from store to store. You don't want to waste any precious time trying to figure out where to go next, or the best way to get there.
                                                  • Make sure you bring water and snacks. Thrifting is hot and tiring work. Why go somewhere and eat out - that just takes away money for possible finds.
                                                  • Wear comfortable shoes.
                                                  • Take a purse with a long strap so you can wear it across your body. It keeps it safe and close at hand and keeps your hands free.
                                                  • If you can, try on clothes at the store. Most of my local thrift stores have no dressing rooms and a no return policy.
                                                  • Learn what the store's return policy is. 
                                                  • Double check that the item works, all buttons are there, the zipper zips, etc. before you purchase it.
                                                  • Wear a t-shirt that fits close to the body. You can try on blouses and jackets over it easily.
                                                  • If you are hard core - wear a skirt so you can try on pants underneath and lift the skirt and check them out. I haven't been able to bring myself to do this.
                                                  • If you can try on clothes at the store, make sure you are wearing easy on and off clothes - pull on shirts without buttons, comfortable pants or yoga pants, and slip on not tie shoes.
                                                  • Leave your jacket in the car, even in freezing weather.
                                                  • Go with a friend, you can cover the store twice as fast.
                                                  • When looking for cloths shop smart. Without taking the item from the rack first look at colors (I will only wear cool colors, no horizontal strips, subdued prints), then fabric type (no polyester) then the style of the item (fitted, not loose and floaty for me) then if it meets all that criteria then pick it up and look at the size, label and overall look (designer here we come!). You can power through racks of clothing quickly.
                                                  • For furniture have an idea where you will put the item before purchasing it. Difficult with great buys I know, but unless you can return it later don't bring it home to sit it in your garage.
                                                  • Make sure what you buy can fit in your car or there is a hold and pick up policy. 
                                                  • With home accents, my most favorite part of thrift store shopping, try to keep some guidelines in mind.
                                                  • Paint covers a multitude of sins
                                                  • Is the style consistent with what you currently have going on in your house?
                                                  • Do you need or just want the item? (Neither is bad, it just allows you to budget a little better).
                                                  • Do you have a possible place for the item? Bringing it home to sit in the basement is not a good use of your money. You could be buying a better and more useful thing at the next store!
                                                  • The item doesn't have to be used for its intended purpose. My friend Alison uses a cute baby changing table with wooden details as a stand for her multitude of  hand made quilts. (It was my idea - great huh?!)
                                                  • I ask myself, "Is this $5 (or whatever) worth of cute?" Some things are cute but outside of what I want to spend. It's OK to put it back and walk away. 
                                                  • There are bargains to be had, just look. I found a $4200 mink coat for $25 in fantastic condition. It unfortunately didn't fit me and Alison is now the proud owner. If only I knew I could have the coat resized ..... 
                                                  • And last but not least, it's OK to buy nothing. Some days you come back empty handed. You can shop again another day.
                                                  • Check out The Thrift Shopper.Com for listings of thrift stores in your area you might not be aware of.
                                                  Do you have any thrift store shopping tips you'd like to share? Do tell!

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                                                  Monday, April 19, 2010

                                                  In the Kitchen - Breakfast Bake


                                                  This yummy breakfast casserole is easy to make.  I hope you give it a try, you won't be disappointed!

                                                  1 lb. shredded potatoes (can use "simply potatoes" found in the dairy aisle. I use the southwestern style)
                                                  1 lb ham steak cut into small pieces
                                                  3 cups cheddar cheese shredded
                                                  8 eggs slightly beated
                                                  1/4 teaspoon black pepper

                                                  Butter a 9" x 13" pan. Beat eggs, mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Spread into pan and bake in a 350 degree oven 40 minutes or until set. Can be made a day ahead of time and put into the oven in the morning, unless using fresh shredded potatoes.

                                                  Enjoy!

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