Friday, December 14, 2012

Simple, but Nice Gifts

Christmas is drawing closer each day, and as I can imagine there are some of you really on top of things with gifts all wrapped and delivered, cookies baked, and cards written.  But I can especially relate to those of you who are still  preparing for the upcoming holiday.  I haven't even begun my baking yet, that's on the agenda for today; and I've been busily working on finishing the hand made gifts that I always seem to wait until a couple of weeks before Christmas to begin.  So just in case there is anyone out there still trying to drum up ideas for gifts, here are a couple that just might work for you.

Large acrylic drinking glasses with straws are a very fun gift to give.  And when you fill one with some of the individual cold drink mixes that are available in every grocery store, it adds just that little extra touch to makes it even that much nicer.  Costco sells a package of the drink mixes for such a reasonable price, that if you were going to make more than one of these gifts up, that is a great way to go.

And if it is cold where you live, and you would rather go the hot drink route, the insulated hot drink containers are also a great idea.  Pair one of them up with a cute tin of hot chocolate, and you are all set.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Little Vintage Decorating

Vintage Christmas decorations add a bit of charm to the whole scheme of things, at least in my opinion.  This little jewel belongs to my mother-in-law, and I was so happy when my daughters pulled it out of storage and put it on display.  It just adds an extra bit of cheer to the holiday decor.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

A Pre-Christmas Gift

A fun way to brighten the day of a good friend, sister, or even your mother, is to give them a pre-Christmas gift.  A little something to help them enjoy the Christmas season while they are making their preparations. 

Choose holiday labels, festive sticky sheets or note pad, and a scented candle

Place them all in a cute container, and voila, you have the perfect little hostess gift or just because gift.  You could even add a holiday CD and I can imagine the gift recipient will be wrapping gifts this year with a smile on her face.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Giving Thanks

This is the pecan pie that I have been waiting for.  Waiting for it to come out of the oven that is.  The reason being is that it is my last item to prepare before tomorrow's feast.

 A greater part of my day today has been spent in the kitchen with recipes here and there, along with various lists of what was needed to be accomplished, and the continuous loading and unloading of the dishwasher as items were crossed off my lists and placed in the refrigerator.  I just love cooking for this holiday.  Just think, a special holiday set aside for thanking our Creator for all of our many blessings.  And one of the blessings I am very thankful for is the mere fact that I can spend time cooking up a big feast for my family.  And tomorrow when we all sit down together at the table and I see everyone enjoying the meal, I will be giving thanks for my family that the Lord has given me, they are one of the biggest blessings that I have ever received.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

To Sift or Not to Sift

Most modern recipes don't call for the sifting of flour when baking.  I think that because of more modern ways of milling the flour, it really isn't necessary.  However, I always prefer sifting.  I don't know if it even makes a bit of difference, but how can you go wrong by sifting all of those powdery ingredients together to form a nice little soft mountain.

Now, after reading such a strong argument in favor of sifting, why not reach up on your shelf and find your cutest muffin liners,

and gather the ingredients together to make these easy and delicious banana nut muffins.  I'll leave the sifting choice up to you.

Banana Nut Muffins

2 cups flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/3 cups mashed, ripe bananas
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.  Cream together shortening and sugar.  Beat in eggs, one at a time.  Stir in mashed bananas.  Add dry ingredients all at once, stirring just enough to moisten.  Gently stir in nuts.  Spoon into greased (or lined) muffin tins, filling 2/3 full.  Bake in 350 deg. oven for 18-20 minutes or until golden.  Makes 15-18 muffins.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Back to School

Today is the day.  This morning is the morning.  Time to start back to school.  I'm not ready for summer to come to a close because it went entirely too fast.  But part of me is looking forward to settling back down into a routine and adding a bit of order to our lifestyle.  And of course with a new school year comes new school supplies.  It always makes me happy to see how some new pens, pencils, notebooks, and paper can bring a joyful start to the new year -- especially new crayons.  Even though my daughter is well beyond her crayon years, I still buy her a box as a special surprise on the first day of school.  It might seem silly to some, but for us that has become a happy tradition in our little home school. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


Summer is really clicking right by, and it is so hard to believe that the middle of August has already arrived.  We have had beautiful weather this summer (well at least since the weather straightened out and stopped raining), and my garden has been producing very nicely. 

At first were the radishes ..... I love planting radishes because they just pop out of the ground so quickly, and really make you feel quite accomplished:

And next on the agenda came the zucchini, green onions, and cucumbers:

Speaking of cucumbers, a couple of days ago, I got up early and picked while it was still cool outside.  I picked an entire basket full.  They actually weighed in at around 7 pounds worth.  (And yes, I weigh my cucumbers when I pick them, because I have an antique scale in my garage, and I figure I might as well put it to good use):

You might be wondering what I plan on doing with 7 pounds of cucumbers.  Why, make pickles of course:

So far I have made 15 quarts of dill pickles, and hope to make at least that many more.  My recipe is the same recipe my grandma used for years and years, and has become a family favorite.

My garden hasn't received the special care that I had hoped to give it this summer, but it is such a blessing to still receive a bountiful harvest despite the fact that I planted it so late in the season, there are still many weeds that need pulling, and plants that haven't gotten properly thinned. 

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Lesson Learned

I have favorite recipes in particular cookbooks that I just always know are there whenever I need them.  And that works just fine unless it is the only recipe in the cookbook that I use.  Which was the case for my recipe for Mini Meat Loaves.  This particular cookbook belonged to my daughters, and it was always on their bookshelf whenever I needed it.  Until one day I went for it and it wasn't there.  When I asked them where it was, they said they had assumed I had copied down my recipe, and since we didn't use the book for any other recipes, they thought they had donated it to a thrift shop.  Well, I hadn't copied it down, and really wished that I had as it was one of those go to recipes that I like to use.  But fortunately the little book was found in a stack of books on their way to the thrift shop, and I was so happy.  I immediately copied the recipe down and realized that I need to do this with other recipes that I like from books I don't use for anything else.  So my lesson was learned, and in case you are interested, the recipe follows.  If you like meat loaf, these have a very good flavor, and because they are small, they cook very quickly.

Mini Meat Loaves

1/4 cup ketchup
2 T light brown sugar
1 T Dijon mustard
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 cup bread crumbs
1 cup tomato sauce
1 large egg, lightly beaten
4 tsp dried basil
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
salt and pepper

Line a broiler pan with foil and place in oven.  Preheat oven to 425 deg.  Whisk together ketchup, brown sugar, and mustard in a small bowl and set aside.  In a large bowl, combine remaining ingredients, but do not overmix.  Divide mixture into 4 equal portions (I actually divide it into even more portions) and shape each into a mini loaf.

Bruch each loaf with ketchup mixture.  Remove pan from oven and mist with Pam.  Transfer meat loaves to hot broiler pan, and bake about 20-25 minutes or until center registers 160 deg. F.  Let stand on broiler pan for 2 to 3 minutes before transferring to plates.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Cherry Season

Since my last post, our lives have been going through a time of adjustments.  Adjustments in getting used to life without my father-in-law.  For those of you who left comments, thank you so much for your very kind words.  It's been nearly four weeks now, and it is kind of hard for the brain to kick back into a normal routine.  But God is good, and each day continues to bring blessing after blessing.  One particular blessing I had this past week was to pick cherries with my brother at his house which is not too far away.  I arrived early and we had the best time visiting and picking.  I determined that he picks cherries twice as fast as I do, but I guess since they are his trees, he has had a lot more practice.  I came home with buckets of Bing Cherries, Rainier Cherries, and Pie Cherries.  They have all been washed and are now in the refrigerator awaiting my next step.  I think today I will start with the Pie Cherries and get a few pies put away in the freezer.  Nothing quite beats being able to reach in the freezer and bake a cherry pie at a moment's notice.

Friday, June 22, 2012

A New Season

Two days ago brought in a new season to our year, but it also brought a new season into my life, for it was the day that my father-in-law was ushered into his heavenly home.  To some that may lead you to say you are sorry for my loss.  However, knowing him was so much more of a gain in my life that the word loss just doesn't even enter into my thoughts.  He was the model of perfection as a father-in-law.  From day one he made me feel a complete part of the family.  His kindness that he has shown me over the years is just beyond words, and his generous spirit is almost overwhelming.

We have been extremely blessed to live only minutes away from him for a very long time, and that has afforded us with so much time that we have been able to spend with him and my mother-in-law.  I am deeply grateful for every minute of these past years that I have spent knowing him.  He will most definitely be missed, but my heart is so full of rich memories of him that I'm quite sure they will tide me over until I see him once again in heaven.

My sister-in-law and brother-in-law have both written tributes to him here and here just in case you would like to read more about such a remarkable, Godly man.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Little Bluebird

I finished a little project and just had to share a picture.  My daughter has made several of these, and they looked like so much fun, I decided I needed to make one as well.  We found the picture via Pinterest, but the original pattern is found here.   It was so much fun to make.  The legs are a bit tricky the first time; however, my daughter assures me that it gets easier with each new bird.  Now I just need to find the perfect name for him ....

Friday, June 15, 2012

A Sunflower in Miniature

A couple of months ago, my youngest daughter and I started some little sunflower seeds indoors.  They came in a kit which included the seeds, a very little pot, and a little disc of potting soil that only needed to be soaked in water after which it filled the little pot.  The seeds sprouted, and have been growing in their little environment on the window sill.  And now we have a little teeny tiny sunflower blooming in the house.  Its diameter is only about an inch, and it really is the cutest little miniature sunflower that I have ever seen.  Actually it is the first miniature sunflower I've seen, and I must say, it is quite a cheerful sight to see.

Friday, June 8, 2012

A Little Symbol Deciphering

For years now labels on clothes have included "laundry care symbols".  And for years now, I haven't had a clue what they mean.  I am very particular when it comes to doing my laundry, and always follow the instructions as they are printed.  I want to get the best wear out of our clothes, and so anything I can do to lengthen the life of them is okay with me.  Recently, however, a few new articles of clothing have come through the wash without any "words" printed giving the proper instructions ..... only those little symbols.  So I have been forced to try and decipher just exactly what they mean.  It really doesn't seem to be that difficult, and perhaps all of you already figured this out years ago when someone deemed it a necessary thing to do.   But just in case there is someone out there like me that hasn't taken the time to figure them out, here is a little chart which links to a better chart with a pdf version that you can print up and have handy right in your laundry room:

Now, I can finally breathe a sigh of relief ......

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Highlights from The Farm Chicks Show

Attending the Farm Chicks Show on Sunday was very much of a treat.  As always, it was a bit overwhelming; however, I think of it as a good type of overwhelming.  There are so many things to look at, I think that one could literally spend a week just wandering from booth to booth.  We only had one day so we made the most of it.  I can't really say that I had a favorite vendor .... they all seem to be good with a large variety of items throughout the show. 

Here is a picture of the big sign on the silo.  I have taken the same picture in previous years, but it just seems right to have a new picture each year.  This and the "howdy" sign that you see as you turn into the parking lot just seem to set the tone for the adventure that lies ahead:

One of my favorite sightings was this old sink planted with pretty flowers.  I think it looks so charming; and possibly one day I will plant a similar one right outside of my one day greenhouse.  It was set into what looked like an old potting bench:

A string of lights made out of canning jars ..... I think this is so cute, and would be such a great idea used in just the right spot:

A vintage embroidery that says "Laundry".  I can't remember if it was on a laundry bag or not, but I thought it would really be cute just to embroider a similar one, frame it, and hang it on my laundry room wall:

This booth caught my eye because of the big word "sisters".  It immediately made me think of all my sisters, and how much I like to spend time with them.  If we were to ever all be able to attend a Farm Chicks Show together, I can only imagine we would have just about the best time ever:

And last, but not least, these two little shakers.  One might not think too much of them initially; however, if you think about it, no one uses a flour shaker now.  But back in the day it only makes sense that a woman would have a flour shaker because of all of the bread and pies that she would make that would require frequent dusting of flour:

The 2012 show is barely past, but I have actually already added it to my calendar for 2013.  Serena really has it all dialed in putting on this show.  I honestly can't think of any improvements that she could make ..... it is simply perfect.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

It's Time Once Again .....

Today I am off to attend one of my favorite annual events -- The Farm Chicks Antiques show in Spokane, Washington.  Serena does a great job of putting this together each year.  In fact I'm really not quite sure how she manages, but every year she seems to make it better than the last.  Stay tuned for some pictures of my favorite highlights from the show .....

Friday, June 1, 2012

The Start of Summer Vacation

Today is June 1st.  In our house that means that summer vacation is officially here ... three months ahead of us filled with different kinds of learning, warm weather, and fun.  I have been telling myself this morning that I need to make the most of my three months ... make every day count.  I don't want to come to the end of August wishing that I had done more and made better use of my time.  So I hereby declare to all of "blogland" that this is what I hope to accomplish this summer:

(All pictures are from things I've been inspired by and "pinned" on Pinterest)

Have an amazing garden:

Grow beautiful flowers:

Have tea parties:

Partake in some fun sewing and embroidery:

Spend time in the kitchen making wonderful desserts:

Create a cute craft room:

Go on lots of picnics:

Read lots of books:

and write more blog posts:

I think that pretty much sums up some of my hopes for the summer.  What are some of your goals?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Round Two

Now that the marigold garden has been planted, it was time to go buy more flowers.  You see I really love flowers, and the more flower gardens the better as far as I'm concerned.  Next on the planting agenda are my zinnias.  This year I will be planting them in my two big flower boxes by the front door, and in two smaller gardens just as you walk through the gate into our yard.  Those smaller flower beds are also lined with white alyssum.  So back to the store I went and purchased three flats of zinnias, one flat of alyssum, as well as a few smaller plants that will go into my pots.  My daughters were with me, and since they are in charge of two very large sections of flower beds that I have, they thought they should get more marigolds.  So we loaded up all our pretty flowers in the back of my car and brought them home.  Now I am just waiting for some sunshine to return so I can finish planting up this batch.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Marigold Time

Last year, because of circumstance beyond my control (i.e. weather, etc.) I was unable to plant my "marigold garden".  I have planted this garden for so many years, that probably the soil was happy for a year off.  However, this year I am back in business, and my goal yesterday was to get it all planted. 

I'm really not sure how long the garden is, but two cars can easily park alongside it with more garden on either side of them.  Here is a shot of it right before I began planting:

Yes, there is a HUGE boulder that sits towards one end of it.  Actually in this picture it looks like it is smack dab in the center, but it is much closer to the end I took the picture from.  You may wonder where that boulder came from ---- well, when we were preparing the ground for this garden, it was unearthed, and because of its huge size, we decided it would look very nice if left in the garden (or maybe it was because it was way too big to move).  And you also may note all of the large rocks lining the garden ---- well, all of them were found in our yard and garden area.  We literally have rocks all over the place, and every year I am digging up more. 

In this picture I obviously still had some weeding to do around the edges, but after that was accomplished, and the soil all raked smooth, one of my daughters and I got busy planting.  I use nearly 4 entire flats of marigolds to fill this garden up, and here is the variety I chose this year:

In year's past, when my kids were younger, they would all come out and help me.  It was really quite the process as everyone had a job, and after each row was planted, everyone rotated into the next job so that all jobs could be experienced by each one of them.  It was actually very fun, and each year we would time ourselves to see if we could beat the time from the year before.

Here is the garden after it was all planted yesterday:

Not too amazing yet, but if all goes well, as it usually does, it will look like this in no time:

This picture was taken a few years ago from the other end of the garden.  See that big boulder at the other end......

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all mothers out there.  I hope you spend your day being pampered by your kids, enjoying sunshine, setting all calorie counting behind you for the day, taking a nap, reading a book, doing some sewing, eating some chocolate, and whatever else it is that makes you happy. 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Laundry Duty

I learned long ago that laundry was going to be a necessity of living.  The first time that the temptation came along to grumble about doing the laundry, I told myself that I might as well enjoy it as grumbling about it would never, ever come to any good.  So I don't mind doing laundry a bit.  In fact, I kind of enjoy taking the piles of dirty laundry and turning them into neat and tidy little piles of folded clean laundry. 

Today as I was folding clothes I was thinking about how much of a responsibility the task of laundry holds.  Everyone depends on me to get it accomplished.  Of course my older kids can do their own laundry, and they do sometimes, but I have always thought that if I need to wash a load of "whites", why run the washer and dryer an extra time just by having them do their own load of "whites" later on.

I also always do a few things just so doing the laundry never seems overwhelming.  Approximately twice a week I pull all of the clothes out of the hamper and sort them.  My preference is to then layer the clothes back in a laundry basket, by load, so that I don't have laundry spread out all over the place while it is waiting to be washed.  And then my biggest rule of all is that when a load finishes drying -- I always pull it out of the dryer and fold it on the spot.  That way the clean laundry doesn't just get piled up and wrinkly.  And this includes socks.  They need to be sent back to whomever they belong right away just so no one is wishing they had a clean pair of socks to put on.

To me, this really is a great service that I can do for my family, and to hear them thank me when I pass them a freshly folded batch of clothes really does make it all worthwhile.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


I was gone last week visiting my sister in Southern California.  The climate we experienced there was so much different than the climate that I left behind.  She has flowers in full bloom, but I left home with no flowers except a few dandelions, and some tulips that were promising to bloom soon.

The tulips did not fail me.  They greeted me very cheerily when I returned.  And the one positive point about the cool, rainy weather that we have been having, is that the tulips last a nice long time.

Monday, April 23, 2012

A Solution for Sprinkles

At my house we really do love sprinkles.  We have a growing collection because, quite frankly, when walking down the sprinkle section in a store, it is a bit hard to pass by the different jars filled with various colors of sparkling sugar without obtaining a new one.  They just make cupcakes and cakes all the more festive.  Currently I just keep my sprinkles in a little plastic box on my pantry shelf.  But this week I discovered a new way to store them.  My sister keeps all of hers in spice jars on display in her kitchen in a spice rack that used to be her mother-in-law's.  This way not only are they used as a cheerful decoration, but I'm thinking it would be a great reminder to me to bake more often just so I could use them on a more regular basis.  I don't think I would hear any complaints from my family if that were the case.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Vacation Time

I am currently on vacation visiting my sister in a much warmer climate than I live.  Where I live it is still very early spring weather, meaning rain, no blooming flowers, Trees still without leaves, and temperatures too cold for planting.  On the flip side, I am in a nice place where the farmer's market is going in full force selling beautiful strawberries:

And artichokes which we can't even grow up in our neck of the woods:

And speaking of flowers, my sister's flowers are gorgeous, and her roses are in full bloom: