Monday, July 14, 2014

Canned Green Beans

As my previous post mentioned, I've been canning and freezing several fresh vegetables this summer.  The last post was instructions for canning diced tomatoes.  This one is for canning green beans.  My picky family will almost always eat green beans.  There are so many ways you can season green beans to make them work with your meal flavors.  We like to experiment with them.

Just a note:  You will need a pressure canner for green beans.  I have a pressure canner which doubles and does water bath as well.  If you are truly interested in canning and preserving at home, then it is worth buying one.  They aren't very expensive anymore but they are big so you have to have a decent place to store them.  Now, on to the good stuff.

Green beans

Break the ends off of the green beans and snap the beans into 1-2 inch pieces.  Rinse the beans.  I have a wonderful large, wire strainer that sits on the sink top.  I set it on the counter and snapped the bean pieces directly into it so it would be easier to rinse them after.
Now it is time to sanitize the jars and lids.  Boil water in a pot to sanitize the bottles and boil water in the canner to sanitize the lids.  Just pour the boiling water into the jars to sanitize and pour it back out when you are ready to put green beans in the jars.  Toss the lids into the canner when the water is boiling to sanitize them.  Remove them after they are in for a few minutes.
In the large pot, boil water to add to the jars after the green beans have been added.
Use the directions for your pressure canner to add the correct amount of water to the canner.  Mine calls for 3 quarts and has a fill line inside the pot.  Bring the water to a boil.
Add green beans to the sanitized jars.  Be sure to leave at least a 1/2 inch of head space.  I usually just fill them up to the threaded part at the top of the jar.  Add 1 tsp. of salt to each jar.  Add boiling water to each jar.  Again, only filling up to the threads.
Use a small rubber spatula to remove the air bubbles from the jars.
Wipe the jar rim of any water and salt.  Any of this left on the rim could prevent a proper seal.  Place a lid on each jar and tighten.  Do not tighten too much at this point but tighten enough so that no water can seep through.
Place the jars into the pressure canner.  Place the lid on the pressure canner and lock down.  Use the 10 pound pressure weight for canning green beans unless you live in a high altitude.  Once the weight starts to jiggle, cook for 25 minutes.
I won't give you complete directions on what to do for pressure canning because it is easier and safer to use the directions from your canner.  The time and pressure weight is the information you need for green beans.  For pressure canning, use the instructions from your canner.

When the timer goes off, your green beans are done.  Let the pressure vent and take your jars out of the canner.  I let them cool for at least 12 hours hours without moving them anywhere and tighten the lids down every few hours until they are cool and won't tighten any further.

My green beans turned out really well.  My mom and I worked together to can diced tomatoes and green beans.  It is much more fun and much easier with a buddy.

Canned Diced Tomatoes

The farmer's markets are swinging around here.  With all of the unseasonable rain we have had this spring and summer, the crops are huge this year.  It is pretty crazy.  We have never had so much rain here all the way into July.  Usually by this time in July, we are seeing 100* weather and our grass is so dry it has turned brown.  We haven't even been under burn bans this year.  Usually, we are under burn bans through most of June and July.  One day, I will be able to have my own, very large vegetable garden.  Until that day, I will be satisfied with locally grown farmer's market and organic produce.  Last weekend we went to the farmer's market and bought fresh tomatoes, green beans, yellow squash and zucchini.  I will write posts about how I processed/preserved each of them.  For this post, I will give directions for canning diced tomatoes.  This was my first time canning tomatoes.  I am slowly learning to can different things.  The tomatoes turned out really yummy.  I plan on canning many more and making some other flavors of diced tomatoes.

Fresh ripe tomatoes
Fresh lemons

Core the tomatoes and gently score a small X, cutting just through the skin, on the bottom of each tomato.  In a large pot, bring some water to boil.  When the water is boiling, put the tomatoes in until the peel starts to peel up at the edges.  Put the tomatoes in an ice bath to stop the cooking.  
In your canner, start water boiling to sanitize the lids and jars.  I sometimes use a tea kettle to boil water to sanitize the jars.  In order to can, you must plan and multi-task or it will take you FOREVER.  
While water is boiling and pieces are sanitizing, you can peel and dice the tomatoes.  Put the cutting board inside a baking sheet with walls so you don't lose any of the juice while dicing tomatoes.  You need the juice for your cans.  This also makes clean up much easier.  Discard the peels.  I used a hand chopper to help with dicing the tomatoes.  But you have to be careful with a hand chopper.  If you chop too many times, you'll end up with mashed tomatoes or tomato sauce instead of diced tomatoes.  Put your diced tomatoes with their juice in a large pot and bring to a low simmer.  The directions I had said to boil for 30 minutes but I didn't cook it for quite so long.  You can tell when to stop the boiling.  The tomatoes start to foam and get very mushy.  They will cook more during canning so you don't want to overcook them now.  
While the tomatoes are simmering, juice the lemons.  All of the instructions I have said to use citric acid or bottled lemon juice.  But, citric acid that you just buy from the store, is usually made with corn ingredients.  And I don't trust bottled lemon juice anymore either unless I know the source for sure.  So I juiced the lemons myself.  Juice several.  It is better to have too much than not enough.  You can always freeze the leftover lemon juice in ice cube trays to use later for marinades and juices.  
Now, ladle the diced tomatoes into the sanitized jars leaving plenty of head space at the top of the jar.  Add 1 Tbsp. of the fresh squeezed lemon juice to every jar of dice tomatoes.  Use a small rubber spatula or chopstick to clear out the air bubbles and mix in the lemon juice.  Tighten the lids and follow the directions for water bath canning in your canner.  They should be in the canner for around 35 minutes.  
After they are out of the canner, I usually tighten the lids every couple of hours for the rest of the day.  

And here is a picture of my lovely canned diced tomatoes:

Chicken and Broccoli Penne

Grapeseed or Olive Oil
1 bunch fresh broccoli or a few cups frozen broccoli
1 (12-16 oz.) bag penne
1 medium onion, minced
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2-1 cup all-purpose flour
3-4 cups coconut milk (This made this dairy free until I added the mozzarella.  This recipe is flavorful enough without the cheese added if you need dairy free.  We added the cheese to ours but left one bowl without for our daughter who needs dairy free.  I tried it both ways and loved it both ways.)
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces
Mozzarella cheese, shredded (I used a small block but you can add or omit cheese according to taste and need.)
Tomatoes (I used a couple of handfuls of grape tomatoes and chopped them up but you can use any tomato chopped up.)

Use some of the oil to grease a 9x13 inch baking dish and set aside.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a large pot, bring the water for the pasta and broccoli to a boil.  Stir in some salt and the broccoli.  This part is going to be up to personal taste but we like our broccoli very soft so I cooked until the broccoli was tender.  If you want a little bite in your broccoli, you will want to pull it back out of the water pretty quickly.  Remove the broccoli with a slotted spoon, tossing it into the greased baking dish and add the pasta and a little more salt to the boiling water.  Drain the pasta and toss it with the broccoli in the baking dish.

While the pasta is cooking, in a skillet, add some oil and start browning the chicken.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper or any other seasoning you prefer.  We like the herb and garlic Mrs. Dash.  When the chicken is done, toss it in with the penne and broccoli.  During this time is also when you should chop the tomatoes.

Rinse and wipe out the large pot to make the sauce.  Add some more oil to the pot and add the onion and garlic until it starts to brown.  Add a few tablespoons of the flour and whisk.  Add the coconut milk (or other milk if you prefer) stirring constantly.  Add in the thyme and salt and pepper.  Add the flour a little at a time until the sauce is thick and creamy.  Taste regularly to add more salt and pepper.  
Toss all ingredients together in the baking dish. Put the dish in the preheated oven for about 10 minutes. If you don't need dairy free, feel free to add the cheese before putting the dish in the oven. I divided the cheese into bowls so I could store it all in separate bowls for leftovers so we had some dairy free and some cheesy. This dish and it's leftovers went fast so I didn't get a picture. But we will definitely be making this again so I will add a picture later.

Roasted Coconut Sweet Potatoes

This is a yummy veggie side dish and it warms up well when left over.  If you like sweet potato, you will love this.  I am always looking for some healthy vegetable side dishes.  My family is very picky when it comes to vegetables, although they are getting better.  I have also improved in my tastes for vegetables in the recent few years.  This is a dish I could eat regularly.  I hope it is one that my daughter will eventually like to eat as well.  L still doesn't eat a variety of foods since she got so sick two years ago but she seems to be interested again.  She actually touches the food and asks what it is rather than screaming and running away.  We are making progress in very small baby steps.

2 Tbsp. coconut oil
2 lbs. (approximately) sweet potatoes, cut into 1 inch chunks
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp.  fresh squeezed lime juice or grated lime zest (optional but adds a nice zing)

Preheat oven to 400*F.  After the sweet potatoes are cut into chunks, put them in a large bowl.  Melt the coconut oil in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Pour the melted coconut oil over the sweet potatoes in the bowl.  Sprinkle the salt and pepper.  Toss the contents of the bowl to evenly coat potatoes in coconut oil.  Spread the potatoes in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet.  Roast, stirring every 10-15 minutes for a total of 40 minutes or until tender all the way through the sweet potato chunks.  Toss with lime juice or zest, then serve.

I will come back and add pictures later.  I have many pictures but I am gradually catching up for now.

This recipe came from HERE.  I didn't alter it at all but I have cooked it different ways in different pans without any problems.  Sometimes you don't have enough pans to cook everything at the same time.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Weight Loss and Life Update

I thought this might be a good time for an update.  I know I haven't been blogging on a regular basis in quite awhile.  However, I do plan to add many posts this summer.  This month I am teaching summer school so I am not actually on summer break yet.  But next month, when I am on summer break, I will work on some new recipes and blog posts.  BUT, I wanted to update everyone who wants to know about my weight loss progress.

I have had so many people ask me which diet I am on.  They are always surprised and a bit annoyed when I tell them what I am really doing.  This isn't a diet.  "Diets" do not work.  Lifestyle is key.  I changed everything about how I think about food.  I learned how to cook in a completely different way.  It isn't convenient to do this and it isn't a temporary "diet."  This is a lifelong change.  If you diet and then go back to what you were doing before, it is only logical that you would gain it all back.  By doing that, you are repeating the same mistakes you have made over and over again.  That just doesn't make any sense.  But we seem to do it anyway.  And doctors, the people we are supposed to be able to trust and depend on to help us be healthy, are the ones making the same mistakes and telling us to do these diets that don't make any sense.  I will never go back and my family will be better for it.  It is hard.  It takes a lot of time and it isn't cheap with the way our society is now.  But I have tested it and it is almost as expensive to buy boxed and canned meals now.  It is more expensive to pay medical and prescription bills for the illnesses that come from eating horribly and becoming obese and unhealthy.

As of a week ago, I have lost 79 pounds so far.  It has taken two and a half years to get that far but slow is healthier.  It gives your skin time to catch up when you have such a large weight loss and it gives your body time to adjust.  I still have quite a bit to go but I feel so much better.  So I'll share a picture.  I took a picture at the beginning of my weight loss and lifestyle change journey.  I took another picture at 62 pounds down.  I took another picture tonight.  The three are fused together to show the progress thus far.  You can judge for yourself how well it is going.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Ginger Molasses Cookies

I know there have been long stretches between posts lately.  My goal is to post several new things and catch up over summer break.  I have a long to-do list before school starts next year.  But I am pretty determined this summer because things are changing this year.  I am not sure exactly how things will be yet, but changes are happening.  For now, here is a new recipe.  This has been a lifesaver for us.  L has had more troubles again.  She has had more break outs on her skin this year along with chronic sinus and ear infections.  This on top of the tummy issues from before which we still believe is from food.  Those issues always improved with diet changes but never completely went away.  She seems to have become more sensitive and reactive lately.  We have scheduled some allergy tests to start at the end of the month.  Now that she is almost four years old, the doctors can actually see the problems she is having.  Now they believe what I have been telling them since she was six weeks old.  So now, we are finally getting some support by a few doctors.  Hopefully, we will be getting some real answers soon.  For now, we do what we can and these cookies have helped.  If she eats these cookies, they seem to help settle her stomach when she is having trouble eating and digesting.  I don't know the source of the original recipe but the original recipe has been changed a lot to suit our needs.

1/2 cup grapeseed oil *
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. salt

In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  (The original recipe indicates using a mixer but I do all of this recipe by hand.)  Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.  Beat in the egg until fully incorporated.  Then add the molasses and stir until combined.

In another bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients.  Stir dry ingredients into the wet and stir just until incorporated.  At this point, the dough gets very thick.  When everything is mostly together, I use my hands to finish mixing the dough.  Portion the dough into three pieces and roll each into approximately one inch logs.  (Beware:  If you have men or children in the house, you will get poop jokes here.  You will see what I mean in the pictures.  Trust me, it smells much better.  Ha!)  Wrap and chill for at least one hour.  These will be okay in the fridge up to overnight but I wouldn't leave them more than 24 hours without getting them finished.  However, the dough does do well in the freezer.  If you can't finish them or if you want to make an extra large batch and freeze some for next time, go for it!  Just put the dough in the freezer.

Preheat oven to 350 F.  On a floured work surface using a floured rolling pin, roll chilled dough out to desired thickness.  This is where you have options.  If you want a crunch ginger snap, roll the dough thin.  If you want a nice, soft molasses cookie, roll the dough thicker.  Use a small round cookie cutter to cut out cookies.  Don't forget to dip the cutter into a little flour too.  Place onto a parchment lined baking sheet, about an inch apart.  Bake for approximately 5-10 minutes.  Again, the time is changing factor.  In my moms oven, ten minutes is perfect.  In my oven, ten minutes is too much.  In my oven, five minutes is perfect for soft molasses cookies and eight minutes is perfect for crunchier ginger snaps.  If you want the crunchier cookies, go ahead and cook them close to the ten minutes.  If you want softer cookies, take them out early.  They will cook some after you take them out of the oven.

*The original recipe used softened butter.  If you are not dairy free, you could use butter.  You could also use a different kind of oil.  We prefer grapeseed oil because it is nearly tasteless.  Coconut and olive oils are good in many baked goods but are stronger tastes so they don't go with all foods.  Feel free to experiment.

And now for the pics:

 Finished Cookies:

Logs of dough, wrapped and ready to chill:
(now you can see what I mean by poop jokes)

Three of the batches went into the freezer:

I know I have mentioned this before, but I am going to mention it again.  If you haven't purchased one of these food savers and you want to do freezer cooking, once a month cooking, meal planning, etc., you should definitely spend the money.  It is worth it.:

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Homemade Lotion

Here is the recipe for the lotion I promised after the lotion bars.  My mother in law loves this.  She has circulation problems in her legs and they itch and break out.  This lotion has helped it heal when nothing else has.  I never thought about that when I made it but I'm ecstatic that it helped her so much.  I hope it can help more people too.

1/2 cup almond oil (if you need to be nut free you can use olive or grapeseed)
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/8 cup beeswax
1/2 tsp. vitamin E oil
30 drops essential oil (optional)

Add all ingredients to a mason jar.  Add 1-2 inches of water in a sauce pan and put on medium heat.  Put the jar in the sauce pan and shake the ingredients periodically while melting.  When everything is melted and mixed, pour into containers.  I used some squeeze bottles for this lotion.  It seems to be thin enough to use in a pump but I have not tried it that way yet.  If you put it in a jar or container that can't be squeezed, you may need to stir it up after it cools.

I made this for Christmas presents.  I will update later when I know how everyone liked it.  I like it so far.  I've been using coconut oil on my hands and body for awhile but it is a pain to melt every time you need to use it.  This way I can put it in a container and it is ready to use.  It is a little greasy, but I've never found a lotion I thought wasn't greasy or oily.  I have had the best luck squeezing it out onto the back of my hand, then spreading it around so the majority of the oil is on the back of my hand.  If my palms and fingers feel to oily, I usually just grab a dry rag or towel (or if I'm out- a paper towel) and wipe off my palms.  I have really bad excema that flairs up worse in the winter.  My hands will crack and bleed.  And no lotion works.  In fact, most of them burn, break me out, or make the excema worse.  Even the prescription ointments I was given didn't work.  I also have patches on my arms and legs.  I'm lucky that I don't get them on my face like some people I know.  But if you or someone you know has trouble with skin issues or allergies to topical products, this may help them.

I did not come up with this recipe myself, of course.  I did, however, edit the ones I found until it worked for me.  I had four different lotion recipes that I used to change things around until it came out the way I wanted.

I will add pictures next time I make this.  I focused on pictures of the lotion bars and completely forgot about them by the time I did this lotion.

Coconut Lotion Bars

I was recently (finally) diagnosed with excema.  Although I've ALWAYS known I had it.  I'm allergic to every lotion out there.  My breakouts get worse in the winter of course and I get patches up my arms and around my thighs.  And the backs of my hands crack and bleed.  But lotion breaks me out and burns like my hands are on fire.  And they turn really, really, REALLY red.  And it is all getting worse with age.  So this year I decided to do something about it and make my own lotion.  I even shared the experience and made several bars for family at Christmas.  So far everyone has liked my lotions.  I made liquid lotion too and I'll post the instructions for that later.  This though, is for the bar.  I like it the best.  But the other lotion is better for using with the child.

1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup Shea butter (if you need to make this nut free, I believe you could substitute cocoa butter)
2/3 cup beeswax pastilles
1/2 tsp. vitamin E oil
20-30 drops essential oils (optional for scent)

Combine ingredients in a quart size mason jar (with lid to prevent water from damaging lotion bar mixture).  Fill a sauce pan with about two inches of water and place over medium to medium-high heat.  Bring the water to a simmer and shake up the jar periodically while the contents melt.  When everything is liquid, pour into molds.  I had plastic soap-making molds.  You could use silicon molds, especially if you like them enough to make them more than once.  It is hard to pop these out of glass or metal molds/pans.  Let molds set overnight.  Carefully pop out of molds.  I wrapped them in cellophane to give as gifts at Christmas.  I also kept some for myself.  These are great to use after showers, shaving and washing dishes.

If these get a little to soft or start melting, you can harden it back up by sticking it in the fridge for awhile.  The cold temperatures will harden the coconut oil and Shea butter.

I did not come up with this recipe at all so I need to give credit.  I, of course, found it on pinterest.  You can find the original post where I got the recipe HERE.

Snowman Ornaments

These ornaments were so so easy.  And I had all of the supplies around the house.  If you don't have all of the supplies, they are cheap at your local craft store.

Hot glue
Orange pipe cleaners
Small black beads
Wax paper

Pour hot glue in spots on the wax paper with the twine looped underneath.  The twine is to hold the ornaments on the tree.  While it's still hot, trim small pieces of orange pipe cleaner for the carrot noses and carefully insert the small beads for eyes and mouth.  Let dry and carefully pull from the paper.  I added the ornaments to gifts for decoration.  Then they could be hung on the tree.

Note:  Again, this was not my idea.  Pinterest is a wonderful place.  You can find the original blog (or at least the blog I used) HERE.

Hex Nut Necklace/Bracelet

I made these for the boys in the family.  A necklace for my nephew and husband, a bracelet for myself and a key chain for my sister's boyfriend of many years.  My nephew loved it.  It's masculine enough for the boys and men.

Note:  This project was not my original idea.  As usual.  You can find the blog I used HERE.

Italian Diced Tomatoes (So much better than the canned from the store)

I have used the canned version of this in past posts.  That is, until I found out citric acid (which is in all canned tomatoes I've found so far) is often derived from corn.  So, I decided that when tomatoes were in season, I would buy up as much as possible and make my own Italian diced tomatoes and can them.  Well, so far I haven't found enough tomatoes to can any but I have made some for meals as I make them.  Eventually, I will add canned notes to this blog.  Until then, I will go ahead and give a recipe.  Now there are not exact amounts on most of this.  I just add ingredients a little at a time until it tastes excellent.  I had taste testers who agreed, this sauce is amazing.

onion (I prefer sweet onion)
olive or coconut oil (I've used both and both are good)

(Note:  This can be made with fresh or dried garlic, onion, basil and oregano.)

Mince an onion and a clove or two of garlic (depending on your taste for garlic).  Saute the onion and garlic in a little olive or coconut oil.  While this is sauteing, dice up the tomatoes.  I roughly chopped into chunks, then put them in my hand chopper to dice them really small.  I have a Pampered Chef hand chopper.  I use it to mince the garlic and onion too.  It's wonderful for this type of stuff.  When the garlic and onion is soft and transparent, add in the tomatoes.  Now add salt and pepper and stir around on low/medium heat until warmed through.  Add basil and oregano a little at a time until it suits your taste.  You might want to add salt and pepper here too.

Trust me, this is amazing.  Here is a picture of it used to top some chicken.

Another way to use this, get out your slow cooker.

Italian Diced Tomatoes
4 Chicken Breasts

In a slow cooker, add your chicken breasts. Top with plenty of Italian diced tomatoes.  It should pretty much cover all chicken.  Cook on low for 4 hours or high for 8 hours.  Serve over rice.

DIY Washer Necklaces

These went over really well.  I made them for all of my nieces, my mom, my mother-in-law, my sister, my best friend and myself.  Most people put it on immediately.

Scrapbook paper
Mod podge
Trimming knife
Sponge brushes
Glossy accents

Trim scrapbook paper to fit on the washer.  Spread mod podge on the washer and smooth the scrapbook paper on the washer.  Trim any excess paper from the washer using the trimming knife.  Dab the glossy accents on the washer.  A little goes a long way.  Spread it in the middle because it will spread to the edges some on its own.  It takes a long time for this to dry.  It depends partly on the weather and partly on how much glossy accents you put on.  It took mine at least 24 hours to completely dry.  Once they are completely dry, you can turn them over and do the same thing to the other side.  After both sides are dry, wrap the cord around and string the bead.  You now have a washer necklace.  I tied them with adjustable knots so that no matter who wears them, they can adjust the length of the necklace.

Note:  I don't have any one blog/website to credit with this.  I did not come up with these but there are multiple sources across Pinterest and the blogosphere.

Hot Chocolate Mix

NOTE:  I don't think this is corn free as is.  I may look for a different recipe this winter.

This stuff is better than Swiss Miss ever thought of being!  I made this recipe and it made four pint jars.  I gave some away for Christmas gifts.  Bonus points...  No crazy ingredients!

3 cups nonfat dry milk powder
2 cups powdered sugar
1½ cups cocoa powder
1½ cups white chocolate chips
¼ tsp. salt

Directions:  Whisk together all ingredients and put through the food processor in batches.  I used my smaller processor and it took three batches to get it all processed.  It will depend on the size and capabilities of your food processor.  The dry mix can be stored in an airtight container for up to three months.

To make hot chocolate, pour 1/3 cup of the cocoa mix in one cup of hot milk or water.  Top with your preferred toppings.  I usually don't top it with anything and it's really good.

Note:  This is not my recipe.  I found it at melskitchencafe.

Fancy Clipboards

I know you guys have seen the clipboards all over Pinterest and other internet sites.  You know the ones I am talking about.   The clipboards that have the pretty paper mod podged on them to personalize them for gifts.  Well last year, I did that.  But I am just now getting them posted.  Yes, I am that far behind on my blogging.  Sad right?  Life is crazy.  Most of you understand...  Three year old... Husband... Job hunting... Substitute teaching... Crazy family members...  Health issues...  Money issues...  You know, LIFE!  So, I thought I would show a picture of my clipboards.  I made one for my sister and one for my mom.  My sister loves dogs.  She is wonderful with them too.  Seriously!  She's like the dog whisperer...  We are dog people but she is the best.  She rescues and fosters.  The dog she owns now, she nursed back to health after she had heart worms and basically had a death sentence.  She trained her and taught her tricks...  Great stuff.  My mom is a music teacher.  She plays the piano beautifully and has been teaching for over thirty years.  She's been one of my biggest helpers and supporters and my life saver with all of the struggles with our little girl's health issues.  Without her, I would have had a nervous/mental breakdown.

On with the project:

Supplies (for making 2):
2 Cheap clipboards
6 pieces of scrapbook paper
bottle of mod podge
sponge brushes

Note:  Make sure you are wearing a shirt or apron you don't mind messing up.  If you get mod podge on it, it isn't coming out.  I learned that the hard way.

Trim the scrapbook paper to fit around all of the fittings of the clipboard.  Spread mod podge (I found the sponge brushes best for this) on the back of the clipboards and carefully smooth the scrapbook paper down on the back.  After this is almost dry, spread mod podge over the top of the paper to create a bit of a gloss.  After the back is completely dry, turn the clipboards over.  Spread the mod podge over the front of the clipboards and smooth the trimmed scrapbook paper down on the front.  (For the front, I picked two different papers.  I put the same paper covering the whole thing as I put on the back.  But then I cut another piece with about a half inch or so around it so you see about a half inch or so border of the same design as on the back but a different design over the rest.  You can see an example in the pictures.)  When the first layer is almost dry, cover it with a layer of mod podge.  If you chose a second design or other designs, go ahead and add those designs on the wet mod podge now.  After those are almost dry, add another layer of mod podge over the top.  Let that dry completely.  More layers of mod podge are a personal preference.

This was my first attempt.  They didn't turn out exactly as I planned.  And the one I did for myself didn't turn out AT ALL!  But, they were cute and usable.  I have better ideas for some in the future.