Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Mixed Berry Crisp

The other day I was flipping through the June issue of Martha Stewart's magazine, when a blueberry crisp recipe caught my eye. It really sounded delicious, and so I thought I would give it a try. I really didn't want to drive into town to go to the store to get the ingredients, so I improvised a little bit. I had recently purchased a bag of frozen mixed berries from Costco (raspberries, blueberries, and marionberries), so thought I would use those since I had them on hand. The dessert came together quick, and was really delicious!!

Mixed Berry Crisp

6 cups of frozen Rader's Farms Nature's Mixed Berries from Costco
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon plus 1 tsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp. coarse salt

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. coarse salt
3 oz. (6 T) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 375 deg. Mix filling ingredients together and transfer to an 8 inch square baking dish.

For topping, combine flour, oats, baking powder, and salt. Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Stir dry ingredients into butter and sugar mixture. Mix topping ingredients well. Sprinkle over filling. Bake until bubbling in center and brown on top (approximately 1 hour). Cool on rack for 30 minutes before serving. Yum!!!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Zucchini Art

I had a bit of a late start planting my garden this year. It is all coming up very nicely though. Each day I just have to go take a look to see how much everything has grown; and each day I am not disappointed -- everything is just a little bit taller. One of the vegetables that I plant each year is zucchini. It typically grows so quickly, and provides such an abundant harvest. My zucchini isn't anywhere near to producing yet this year; however, I did come across a picture of a zucchini that I had grown in a previous year. This particular zucchini was a bit difficult to obtain because it had wrapped itself around the vine in a very unusual manner. Once I brought it in the house, I was quite surprised to see how it looked so much like a duck (at least in my eyes).

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

I openly admit to being somewhat addicted to chocolate/peanut butter combinations, and this pie is certainly no exception. I received this recipe years ago from my mom, and it has been one of my favorites ever since. In fact I like this pie so much, I literally think that if I was left alone in a room with it, and no one was looking, I could eat the entire thing in one sitting. Fortunately, that situation has never arisen.

I usually use a regular baked pie crust to put the filling into, but yesterday I decided to try a graham cracker crust. They are equally delicious.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie

Place 2 1/2 cups milk in a bowl (whole milk gives the best results, but is not necessary). Add anywhere from 2 T. to 1/2 cup peanut butter (depends on how much you like peanut butter) (creamy or crunchy) and 1 tsp. vanilla. Mix well. Add one 6-oz. box of instant chocolate pudding and beat for 2 minutes. Pour into baked and cooled pie shell. Let sit in refrigerator before serving. Enjoy!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Working Women

I have a small collection of older "Workbasket" magazines. Each time I look through them, I am mostly fascinated with what made up the typical housewife at that particular time in history. Since it was a very popular magazine, I have to think that it "spoke" to the women of the day.

April, 1951, is the oldest copy that I have:

Just look at that doily on the front cover. From what I can gather, most women decorated their homes with doilies that they made themselves. I know my mom did. We always had crocheted doilies on end tables that she had made.

And look at this cute hat pattern. I can imagine many women quickly whipped up one of these when the magazine was hot off the press:

And of course there is an ad for new patterns. These dresses seem like they would even fit in today with the current popularity in "retro" items:

Besides patterns for knitting and crocheting, each month the magazine also featured tatting, sewing, and embroidering. The ads seem to range from making extra cash, polishing floors "without wax", and how to lose weight (some things just never change).

As this generation of women are passing on, the items that they spent so much time working with their hands to make their homes beautiful, are making their way into antique stores, thrift shops, estate, and garage sales. Besides doilies, there are so many beautiful embroidered linens with crochet or knit trim. Whenever I see these beautiful items, I typically pause and imagine the hours and hours spent making them, as well as their feeling of accomplishment when the project was done, and placed in the home to then be used and enjoyed. Can you imagine taking the time today, to not only embroider on your new set of pillowcases, but then to crochet a trim to be sewn all around the edge? Personally, I would love to be able to have the time to embroider on all of the pillowcases in the house. It just seems like it would add that special touch.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Button Jar Stories

I just love buttons. There are so many different varieties out there, both old and new. My mother-in-law has a big jar full of buttons that she has collected over the years. When my children were younger and visiting their grandparents, they loved to go get Grandma's button jar and dump it out on the floor. They would sort through all of the buttons, and would keep entertained for a long time in this fashion. Recently my daughters took some pictures of her collection. Here is a shot peering down into the same jar that they have been kept in for years:

And here are a few buttons that came off of a karakul coat that my mother-in-law wore as a very young girl. It was a favorite of hers, as well as her dog (a German Shepherd). She has told us a story of how the dog got a hold of that coat one day (while she was still in it), and dragged her around the house. I think maybe the sheep's wool in the coat just smelled all too real to the dog. The coat was ruined, but she managed to save the buttons.

Her button jar is full of stories, which make them so much more of a treasure. I think we could randomly pick a button out of the jar, show it to her, and she would immediately smile while delighting us with another of her wonderful stories.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Little Yellow Chicks

I have recently been recovering from a bout of the flu. So you can imagine my surprise to find that there has been non-stop activity in the hen house during my down time. You may remember this little hen sitting so patiently atop her cute little brown eggs:

Well, just look at her little chicks that are the reward for all of that patience:

Here are a couple of proud hens holding up one of the newly hatched chicks for all to see:
And of course the unique tail feathers of this particular breed are always a delight:

As the little chicks get stronger, they will be finding their way over to Warm and Sunny, my Etsy shop. Until then, all of the little chicks are getting to know one another, and enjoying their time together immensely.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks

I am not one for paying attention to advertisements or commercials. In fact when I am watching TV, I typically zone out the commercials. Someone in my family may make a comment about a commercial, and my usual response is that I wasn't paying attention. I really don't feel like I have missed out on much by not paying attention; but recently, my attention was caught by two new products. Actually I have a feeling they aren't new products at all. In fact after reading this, many of you may be thinking something like "oh yes, I have been using those for years."

The first product was something that my two oldest daughters told me about. They clean their grandparent's house each week, and were looking for something to use on the floors that would make that task easier. They came up with the Swiffer Wet Jet.

I tried it at home, and instantly saw the advantages. I have continued to use a mop bucket filled with water, and a mop for years. It works in the summer because I can just empty the water outside; but in the winter, I just don't like pouring all of that dirty water down the drains. Because whatever drain I poured it down, then I felt it a necessity to clean out the sink immediately because of what was just poured down it. So mopping the floor really did feel like a chore, and not one I ever felt very cheerful doing. But with my new mop, the entire process goes so quickly. I realize that there is an added expense by using one of these, but for me it is totally worth it. I love the way it cleans, and the ease in which the cleaning gets done. You can, by the way, get a coupon from their website if you want to give it a try.

My next eye opening product has been Oxiclean. I have my various favorite stain removers that sit on my shelf. When I have a stain, I go through them in order, until one of them works. This summer though my youngest daughter got a stain on her new white shirt that none of my products even touched. I had remembered reading about Oxiclean (I think on the Farm Chicks blog) and so I purchased a small sample of it. I followed the directions for pre-treating and soaking stains, and I was amazed. Not even a tiny speck of the stain was left. I am definitely sold on this product, and am hoping I can buy a Costco size of it next time I am in town.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Big Show

On Saturday my sister, Kass, and I had a wonderful day enjoying The Farm Chicks Show. Kass has attended once before, but this was my first year. It was quite amazing. In fact it was rather overwhelming. There were so many vendors, and so many beautiful things to look at. Of course I forgot my camera, and was left to take pictures with my phone. They didn't turn out that great, but here are a few highlights:

Dyed crinoline half slips. Don't these just make you wish you could play dress up all over again!

Amazing Christmas creations from vintage ornaments:

Birds' nests -- lots of them:

Mirrors made out of china plates (some matching, some not):

And this little sweetie:

There were even the world's best brownies for sale. Literally, those brownies were so delicious!!

We roamed from booth to booth for about four hours, enjoying every minute of it. At one point we even glanced down and noticed that we were both wearing the same shoes. Now if that doesn't make us kindred spirits, I don't know what does.

We have decided to make The Farm Chicks Show an annual tradition. The brownies alone would make it a worthwhile trip.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Ginger Tea Cooler

The Farm Chicks recently shared a recipe for Ginger Tea Cooler. The idea appealed to me so I gathered up all of the necessary ingredients and whipped up a batch. I have to say it was quite delicious, and anticipate making it many more times this summer.

( Photo from The Farm Chicks' blog)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Making Dresses, 1947 Style

I was recently wandering through a thrift shop when I came across this gem:

What a fun book this is! The last copyright date is 1947. It is only 49 pages long, and is surprisingly filled with a wealth of information. It covers everything from a step-by-step procedure in making a dress, to doing simple tailoring, and sewing for infants and children. It only cost me $1.00; and even if the information wasn't worthwhile (which it is), it would have been entirely worth it simply for the illustrations: