Friday, February 29, 2008

Favorite Ingredients Friday for February 29

Here is a favorite chocolate dessert that goes over well at a potluck or when you have guests in.


1 pkg. (3.4 oz.) cook & serve chocolate pudding mix
2 cups milk
1 pkg. (18 1/4 oz.) chocolate cake mix

1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk
2 cups confectioners sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Combine pudding mix with milk in a large microwave-safe bowl. Cook, uncovered, for 6 to 8 minutes at 70% power, stirring at 2-minute intervals. (If you prefer, you may cook the pudding in a saucepan on the stovetop, but cooking it in a bowl in the microwave saves a step and a saucepan.)

Add the dry cake mix to the pudding and beat until well blended. Pour batter into a greased 13x9-inch baking pan and spread evenly. Bake at 350º for 30-35 minutes, until cake springs back when lightly touched and edges pull away from sides of pan. Cool cake in pan on a wire rack.

For sauce, in a heavy saucepan, melt butter and chocolate chips over low heat. Stir in evaporated milk and sugar until smooth. Bring to a boil over medium heat; cook and stir for 8 minutes or until sauce is thickened. Remove from the heat; stir in vanilla.

Cut cake in squares; serve on dessert plates with warm sauce over cake. Ice cream or whipped cream are completely optional.

This came from a Country Woman magazine -- it was a prize-winner in one of their contests. This recipe is chocolate to the nth degree and is incredibly easy and delicious.

Photo from Taste of Home
To see what others have shared for Favorite Ingredients Friday, head on over to Overwhelmed with Joy and check out the links.

Sew Crafty Friday for February 29

Most of my projects this week are works in progress. First, here is the Country Baking cross-stitch sampler. I'm still working on the back-stitching. I don't work on this too often, but yesterday I got quite a bit done while my hubby was in the dentist's chair and I waited for him. The "book-like" area down near the bottom left is going to contain a list of the fruit of the Spirit.

Next is the scrap afghan (a UFO from many years ago). This afghan is worked in 2 pieces and then joined together. This is the first piece and is almost complete. I just have a few more rows to go which will include one more color -- maroon. Then I will need to make the second piece and join the two. It's a project I work on only at home at this point because it is so large and heavy.

And last, here is the completed framed cross-stitch of a little verse from Psalms -- also a UFO of many years' duration. I apologize for the blurry photo. I took one with the cross-stitch leaning upright, but that picture didn't show the frame as well, so I decided to use this one. I was going for a rustic look with the frame and think I succeeded pretty well. It was an ugly dark brown frame I found somewhere. I painted it with several coats of a linen color, then several coats of navy blue, before sanding and sealing it. I was pleased that when I sanded it lightly, not only the linen color, but also some of the original dark brown, showed through in places, which really helped to give it the worn old look I was aiming for.

That is about it for my crafting efforts this week. If you have managed to accomplish or even start any crafting, then head on over to Waiting for Him and share your projects. Shereen and others will be eager to see what you have to share. Happy Crafting!

Show & Tell Friday for February 29

For Show & Tell today, here are a few more items from my walls. These are on the wall at different places in our upstairs hallway.

This nifty old (stamped) cross-stitch of a little red schoolhouse was made by one of my great-aunts. We found it among her things and I decided to bring it home and give it a good home.

This plate was a gift from my sister many years ago. It is a painting of Bass Harbor Head Light in Maine. We had gone camping there together once and stayed at a campground within walking distance of this lighthouse. One evening we walked down there and were surprised to meet a deer in the misty evening light. My sister is in heaven now, so the plate is a lovely reminder of her and good times spent together.

And this crewel stitchery is one that I made for my grandmother many years ago. It was returned to me when she passed on. It depicts a little Hummel girl. My grandmother had a lovely collection of Hummel figurines, and I made this to complement them. It was a fun project to do. The little girl's face, arms and legs are not stitched but are made from peach-colored felt and the details embroidered on top of the felt.

And that's my Show & Tell for today!
To see what others have shared for Show & Tell this week, go visit visit There is No Place Like Home and check out the links. It’s so much fun to see what others have to share!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

A birthday moment

Back in January, we celebrated my birthday at my daughter's home. Just after the candles were lit, as the family was singing "Happy Birthday", there was a moment which I tried to capture in a sort of poem. Here it is:

The candles
were an afterthought -- and so
just three of them adorn my birthday cake.
Their small bright flames
reflect the brightness of the children's eyes.
I gaze into their faces as they sing:
The six-year-old, whose eyes
seem somehow sad and wise beyond her years;
The mischief-loving boy who is so sweet;
The pretty curly-headed four-year-old;
The baby, still too young to know the birthday song
but smiling as the others laugh and sing.
They are so precious to me, God! You know
how much I love these little ones of Yours.
So as I blow the candles out, my wish
is not a wish at all, but just a prayer
that You would touch these tender little lives
and light each one a heart aglow for You.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Menu Plan Monday for February 25

Another Monday! It's a bright chilly winter day, so I have lots of comfort foods planned for this week. As usual, my plan for this week includes some repeat meals that didn't get used last week.

MONDAY: Ground Beef Stew, Rolls

TUESDAY: Pepper Jack Chicken (leftover from Sunday), Southwestern Rice Bake, Broccoli/Cauliflower Blend

WEDNESDAY: Ground Beef Stew (leftover from Monday), Butter Dip Breadsticks

THURSDAY: Meat Loaf, Scalloped Potatoes, Herbed Beans & Carrots

FRIDAY: Vegetable Chili, Cornbread

SATURDAY: Macaroni & Cheese, Mixed Vegetables, Coleslaw

SUNDAY: (Potluck at Church) Curried Chicken with Peaches, Brown Rice, Asparagus Stir-fry Vegetables, Caramel Chocolate Cake

If you would like to see menus which others have shared, head over to I'm an Organizing Junkie and check out the links. Usually well over 100 people share links to their weekly menus. You'll find some great ideas and often recipes too.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Favorite Ingredients Friday for February 22

Favorite Ingredients Friday today is focusing on Side Dishes. I don't know about others, but for me it is difficult to come up with easy side dishes that are interesting and yet use common ingredients. The recipe I'm sharing today meets that criteria and is super with any Asian-style entree.


1 cup raw rice
2 cups water
4 to 5 slices of bacon, diced
4 eggs, slightly beaten
4 to 5 green onions, sliced
Soy sauce
Any leftover meat in tiny pieces (optional)

Bring the rice and water to a boil in a heavy saucepan; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15-20 minutes or until rice is cooked. In a large skillet, cook the bacon until crisp. Add the green onions; cook until tender. Add the eggs to the skillet, stirring, and cook until eggs are scrambled. Add the cooked rice and the optional meat; mix well. Add the soy sauce until the fried rice is as brown as you like it. Cook all together over low heat for 15-20 minutes. Serve piping hot.
Yield: 4-6 servings.

I copied this recipe from a radio cooking show many years ago. The lady who shared the recipe was from China Lake, Maine. This fried rice is really delicious. For years, whenever we ordered Chinese takeout, I would whip this up while we waited for the food to arrive.

To see what others have shared for Favorite Ingredients Friday, head on over to Overwhelmed with Joy and check out the links.

Sew Crafty Friday for February 22

For Sew Crafty Friday today, I decided to do something a little different. I got very little crafting done this week. It has been a tough week for me emotionally and spiritually. I feel as if Satan is trying to render me ineffective. So as a result I have spent much more time in God's Word and in prayer this week. Crafting is important to me, but my spiritual condition is far more important.

So, for Sew Crafty Friday, I decided to share a craft I made quite some time ago. It's the tea towel wall hanging I posted here for Show & Tell last week. At the time I made this project, I also wrote up the directions and a little bit of why it was such a meaningful craft for me. So I'm going to share that here as well. Here's what I wrote:

"For me, one of the most comforting themes for decorating involves continuity. The two themes I find myself returning to again and again are seasonal decorating and decorating with family heirlooms or just 'old things' -- and both reflect continuity. "Decorating for the seasons is a reminder of the comforting Bible promise found in Genesis 8:22 -- 'While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.' No matter what else may be happening in our lives, it's a comfort to remember that the seasons will go on just as they always do. As an old poem puts it, 'a day is always coming/when the birds go north again.' Seasonal decorating is a wonderful reminder of this.

"Using old family things to decorate my home is also very comforting. It gives me a real sense of continuity to see and use these things that belonged to previous generations. We have many old things, including diaries, old furniture, partial sets of dishes, etc. But probably the most inspiring in terms of decorating would be some things I inherited from my grandmother -- many of her kitchen utensils and the contents of her sewing basket.

"Recently I came up with a way to combine both of my favorite decorating themes into one craft project: a set of seasonal wall hangings. For each, I used half of a homespun dish towel, narrow-hemming the cut edge so that each finished hanging measured about 11x16 inches. Using fusible web, I ironed an 8x12-inch pieced of old sheet or white muslin to the center of the hanging. Then, with a fine-point permanent marker, I lettered a seasonal recipe onto each one. For winter, I used the recipe for Snow Ice Cream; for spring, a strawberry pie; for summer, Sunflower Cake; and for fall, a pumpkin dessert.

"Then the fun of decorating each hanging really began as I trimmed them with colorful fabric shapes ironed on with fusible web. I used snowflakes, fir trees, snowmen and hearts for winter, strawberries for spring, sunflowers for summer, pumpkins and maple leaves for fall. Then came the family-heirloom touch as I added buttons I'd saved for years, sewed on with beautiful vintage threads.

"Of course, the variations on this theme could be endless [and one of mine was published in a Gooseberry Patch cookbook!] depending on the recipes and fabric cutouts one chooses. For me, these wall hangings will be a wonderful reminder of the continuity of the changing seasons, and of family ties. And my grandmother -- who loved the seasons and faithfully decorated for each one -- would be proud."

How about you? If you have managed to accomplish or even start any crafting this week, then head on over to Waiting for Him and share your projects. Shereen and others will be eager to see what you have to share.

Happy Crafting!

Show & Tell Friday for February 22

Today I am going to share a couple of items on the wall of my guest room. I need to share these while it is still February, as you will see in a moment. I took the pictures earlier this month.

So, first of all I would like to share this gorgeous Gooseberry Patch calendar with its fun illustrations for February. I simply love the artwork featured on Gooseberry calendars and book covers, and have even encouraged them to make some of them into cross-stitch patterns. What fun that would be if they ever did take my suggestion!

And then second of all is this painting of a Christmas cactus. It was painted by my daughter Joanna in her senior year of high school, and actually won a blue ribbon at a state fine arts competition. I hope eventually when Joanna gets fully settled in her new house, that she will take the painting back and display it in her own home. Until then, it remains on the guest room wall.

And I do apologize for the spotty look of these walls. It is white paint over wallpaper, which was quite successful when first done, but has been marred by so much sticky-tack over the years (before it became a guest room) that it is quite unlovely. Painting that room is high on my future house projects list.

To see what others have shared for Show & Tell this week, go visit visit There is No Place Like Home
and check out the links. It’s so much fun to see what others have to share!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Menu Plan Monday for February 18

Monday again! As usual, my plan for this week includes some repeat meals that didn't get used last week.

MONDAY: Macaroni & Cheese, Mixed Vegetables, Coleslaw

TUESDAY: Curried Chicken with Peaches (leftover from Sunday), Brown Rice, Broccoli/Cauliflower Blend

WEDNESDAY: Hearty Minestrone, Butter Dip Breadsticks

THURSDAY: Roast Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Squash, Cranberry Jello Salad

FRIDAY: Vegetable Chili, Cornbread

SATURDAY: Shepherd's Pie, Green Beans, Applesauce

SUNDAY: Pepper Jack Chicken, Brown Rice, Coleslaw

If you would like to see menus which others have shared, head over to I'm an Organizing Junkie and check out the links. Usually well over 100 people share links to their weekly menus. You'll find some great ideas and often recipes too.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Sew Crafty Friday for February 15

Here are my crafting efforts for the week. There are also a couple of projects I've been working on -- the Country Baking sampler, and a crocheted scrap afghan -- that I didn't take photos of. These are the projects that actually got completed this week.

First, this Valentine banner. I am so pleased with how this came out. Everything in this banner is something I had on hand. It's so satisfying to be able to create something pretty without having to spend a penny!

I finally finished this set of scented coasters in a winter fabric. I wasn't pleased enough with these to give them as a gift which was my original intent. I'll keep these to use myself and make another set for my friend with my *new* sewing machine.

These barley hot packs are another project I finished this week. These have been on my list for a long time, so I'm very happy to get them done.

I wanted something red & white to go under some china displayed on my hutch. I came across this very small remnant in a red/cream toile. Someone gave this to me ages ago, and I found it in my stash while looking for flannel for the barley bags. I decided to make this toile into a small runner to use on the hutch or on my kitchen island. Here's a photo which shows the print -- very pretty, it really tells a story.

And this photo shows how the runner looks under the china on the hutch. Not a perfect sewing job -- I used my old machine -- but I'm still pleased with the results.

How about you? If you have managed to accomplish or even start any crafting this week, then head on over to Waiting for Him and share your projects. Shereen and others will be eager to see what you have to share.

Happy Crafting!

Cheeseburger Soup

Photo from Taste of Home

Today I am going to share a soup recipe that we greatly enjoy in our family. It's so cold and snowy up here in New England, that soup really seems like the best idea for supper these days. This one is really hearty, comforting, and warming. Hope your family enjoys this as much as we do!


1/2 lb. ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
3/4 cup shredded carrots
3/4 cup diced celery
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried parsley flakes
4 T. butter or margarine, divided
3 c. chicken broth
4 c. diced peeled potatoes
1/4 c. flour
8 oz. velveeta, cubed (I have also substituted shredded cheddar)
1 1/2 c. milk
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. pepper
1/4 sour cream (I almost never add this)

In 3-qt. saucepan (I use a dutch oven), brown the beef; drain if necessary and set aside. In same saucepan, sauté onion, carrots, celery, basil and parsley in 1 T. butter until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Add broth, potatoes and beef; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt remaining butter. Add flour; cook and stir for 3 to 5 minutes or until bubbly. Add to soup; bring to a boil. Cook and stir for 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Add cheese, milk, salt and pepper; cook and stir until cheese melts. Remove from heat; stir in sour cream if using.

Yield: 8 servings.

Show & Tell Friday for February 15

For Show & Tell this week -- and maybe for a few weeks -- I thought I would share some of the decorative items I have displayed on various walls in my home. I'm going to begin with the kitchen/dining area. I only have 2 items to share this week, although there are more things I could share from these rooms.

In the kitchen, here is a recipe wall hanging which I made quite a few years ago. I made one for summer (this one), one for fall, and one for winter. I really want to make more of these sometime. I ended up giving away the other two, so I only have this one. They would make great gifts. The basis is a dish towel. This one, with its recipe for Strawberry Cream Pie, looks nice in my kitchen/dining area which has a strawberry theme.

In the dining area, here is a lovely print of Rainbow Row in Charleston, SC. This was given us as a gift by some very dear friends after we visited Charleston. They know the artist personally. Her artwork captures the colors of Rainbow Row so perfectly. And I was thrilled to find the absolutely perfect frame for it at a Christmas Tree Shop for only $1.99!

That is all I have to share today, but I hope you have enjoyed seeing these things. They are special to me!

To see what others have shared for Show & Tell Friday, head on over to There is No Place Like Home

and check out the links. Happy Show & Tell Friday, everyone!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

A few snow pictures

Here are a few photos taken this morning that show the results of yesterday's storm:

First, this one taken looking out the kitchen window. That large mound of snow in the foreground is on top of our stone wall. The wall is completely buried under a foot or two of snow! That pretty glazed effect on the snow is from the sleet and rain that followed the snowfall yesterday.

This next photo is taken out the living room window. It shows you how high the snow is on the side of our garage.
And this last one is taken out of the computer room window. It shows some icicles from all the rain yesterday and then the woods beyond, looking out to the road.

Happy Valentine's Day!

For Valentine's Day, I thought I would share a few vintage Valentines. Enjoy!

First, a basket of Valentine wishes.
Love this Valentine depicting a box of candy.
My grandmother sent us kids Valentines like this every year. Here's one...
And another...
And last but not least, a lovely Valentine featuring a glittery pink heart.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

How to make barley hot packs

I think I have posted this information in the past -- but for Nancy, and any others who are interested, here it is again. With a cold snowy winter like we're having up here, these hot packs are invaluable.


These microwavable hot packs have been a great help to my family members over the years. They are great for cramps, aches and pains, labor, or for just warming up on a cold night. Here’s how to make them.

You will need:
• tracing paper or brown paper
• ruler or yardstick
• pencil
• scissors
• pins
• flannel fabric of your choice
• cotton batting
• thread to coordinate with flannel
• sewing machine
• hand sewing needle

Measure and mark a 14-inch square on tracing paper or brown paper. Cut out the square. This is your pattern.

Pin the pattern to the flannel fabric, then cut out the squares. (If you have a large enough piece of flannel, fold it before pinning the pattern on and cut 2 squares at once. If your flannel pieces are smaller, pin and cut one at a time. Or if need be you can cut the squares from two different coordinating prints or colors of flannel. I like to use plaids.)

Pin the same pattern to cotton batting and cut two squares -- again, folding the batting to cut 2 squares at once if possible. You should have 2 squares of flannel and 2 squares of batting.

Pin a square of batting to the wrong side of each square of flannel. Use your sewing machine to quilt the batting to the flannel by making rows of straight stitches about 2 inches apart. Now you have 2 quilted squares.

Place the quilted squares together with the flannel sides facing one another. Pin around the edges. Stitch around all sides of the square, using a 1/2-inch or 5/8 inch seam allowance and leaving a 4-inch opening in the center of one side for turning.

Tie off the thread ends (or backstitch at the beginning and ending) and clip the corners of the square. Turn the bag right side out through the opening you left. Carefully smooth out the seams and poke out the corners so they are nice and square.

Now carefully pour two 1-pound bags of barley into the opening. Fold the raw edges of the opening in so that they line up with the sewed seam. Use a needle and thread to slipstitch the opening closed.

When you need to use your barley bag, place it in a microwave oven and heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Watch carefully, and check the bag often to be sure it does not overheat.

The barley will retain its heating qualities for quite some time; we’ve used some of the same bags for years. Eventually, though, the bag may become stained or the barley may take on a scorched smell. If need be, you can undo the slipstitching, discard the barley, wash and dry the bag if necessary, and fill it with fresh barley. Or simply make a new bag.

Hope others find these hot packs to be as comforting as our family has!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Menu Plan Monday for February 11

Monday has come around again! Here is my plan for the week, which includes some repeat meals that didn't get used last week.

MONDAY: Tortilla Enchilada Soup, Cornbread

TUESDAY: Pizza, Caesar Salad

WEDNESDAY: Shrimp Monterey, Coleslaw

THURSDAY: Italian Wedding Soup, Biscuits

FRIDAY: Vegetable Chili, Cornbread

SATURDAY: Shepherd's Pie, Green Beans, Applesauce

SUNDAY: Curried Chicken with Peaches, Brown Rice, Asparagus Stir-fry Vegetables

If you would like to see menus which others have shared, head over to I'm an Organizing Junkie and check out the links. Usually well over 100 people share links to their weekly menus. Last week I believe it was over 200. Lots of inspiration for menu planning there!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Some Valentine decorating

I have done just a small amount of decorating for Valentine's Day. I don't own a lot of Valentine things, but am adding to my collection year by year.

Here is my ribbon board in the front hallway with a number of Valentines displayed. Several of these are lovely old vintage valentines, and others are much newer. See those beaded red hearts? I also have some of those hanging from my kitchen cupboard doorknobs.

Also in the front hallway, a framed page from a Tasha Tudor calendar of many years ago. I change the page in this frame almost every month.
Here is how my hutch looks now, in February. I figure that snowy houses and trees, and berries with greens, are still seasonal, especially up here where we still have so much snow.
Here is a closer look at the "valentine shelf" of my hutch. At either end I have placed a vase from past Valentine bouquets. I've decorated one with a beaded heart and the other with some valentine ribbon. In the center of the shelf is a Tasha Tudor valentine-themed book, placed upon a valentine hanky from my childhood. In between I have a valentine snow globe (a birthday gift from my granddaughter Sarah), a kitcheny tag and a whimsical crocheted flower (gifts from a sweet friend) and a glittery homemade votive holder.
Last but certainly not least is a brand-new decoration which I just whipped up yesterday following Kelli's directions on the Seasonal Delights blog. It's a Valentine banner. Kelli's has a definite Victorian flair, but mine, as you can see, turned out quite differently. I just used items I had on hand, and I am really pleased with how well it came out and how nice it looks in my dining area.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

A delicious new tea

On Thursday night, while grocery shopping, I came across something new and wonderful -- some new Celestial Seasonings teas, just in time for Valentine's Day. One is a black tea -- Vanilla Strawberry Rose -- and the other is an herbal tea, which I believe is called Raspberry Chocolate Bliss. I picked up a box of the Vanilla Strawberry Rose and took it with me to a tea party yesterday. It was a hit with the ladies who tried it. I'm definitely hoping to buy another box or two of this while it's available. It's a truly different, delicious flavor.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Sew Crafty Friday for February 8

For Sew Crafty Friday today, I have really just one thing to share. I finally finished the last flour sack towel in the "Fine Chinaware" set of day-of-the week towels. It's the one for Sunday:

I mentioned last week that I was embroidering this towel with 3 strands of floss (rather than the 2 strands I used on all the previous sets). It really seemed to me to look richer and brighter than the others. I was afraid there would be a huge difference seeing the two towels side by side. As you can see, although the Sunday towel's embroidery does look somewhat richer and brighter, it really isn't a stark contrast next to Wednesday's towel. From here on out though (and I do plan to do a set of these for myself) I think I will use the 3 strands.

I also managed to finish my last belated Christmas gift this week! That feels like a great accomplishment. And I've also spent some time backstitching on my "Country Baking" sampler.

What about you? Remember, if you’ve done any crafting this week, even if you haven’t actually completed anything, head on over to Waiting for Him and share your projects. It’s such fun and so inspiring to see what others are working on.